Monday, April 22, 2024

various artists - Mews Too: An Asthmatic Kitty Compilation

This, my friends, is very much NOT a banger.

I honestly have no idea why I ended up buying this. I'm quite certain I didn't spend more than a buck on it, but, even then, there's nothing aobut this that would have compelled me to spend said buck. The scene around Asthmatic Kitty was very much not mine when it first came into view around 2002/2003. I was aware of Sufjan Stevens, a Pitchfork darling almost from Jump Street. "Illinois" was all over the front page of Insound,  It was in the ether, but it wasn't crossing over into the world of punk spaces.

It was...ugh...hippy shit. And I wanted no part. It makes no sense how this would end up in my hands in 2006, or 2009, or 2014.

But that was then, and this is now, and maybe my tastes have further refined from where they were 20 years ago. At least, I hope they have. This isn't going to be a regular replay in my house, but I'm more interested in what's going on here than I was when I originally nabbed it. Castenets, the Danielson Famile, Royal City: they're all pretty good. Even ol' Sufjan,,,well, I get the appeal, even if I wouldn't seek him out.

Click here to download.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

various artists - Reggae Chartbusters Volume One (Expanded Edition)

 This, my friends, is a bona fide banger.

Set aside your knowledge of reggae for a second, if you can. Imagine being 15 again. It's summertime 1969, and the sounds of rocksteady are just starting to simmer down. It's been less than a year since the Maytals taught us how to do the reggay. You take a couple quid down to the nearest stockist, and you see this on the racks. Twelve tracks, for the same amount you'd pay for a couple of 45s? You're sold.

And what a lineup! On the A side, it's Jimmy Cliff, Symarip, Dandy Livingston. On the flip, Lee Perry's Upsetters, Tony Tribe, Boris Gardiner. Both sides showcase Desmond Dekker and the Pioneers. Can you imagine hearing this all together for the first time? This isn't a stack of singles playing on a jukebox; it's the best value compilation you're probably ever going to buy.

55 years on, I still encounter folks whose first experience with reggae was this comp. One of the first full-lengths released by Trojan, it's up there with "Flex Your Head" or "C86" or the "Easy Rider" soundtrack as the sort of collection that shapes lives. This version, expanded to twenty tracks in 2009 and featuring Max Romeo, the Ethiopians, and the Maytals, gives an even more robust view of the first year Trojan licensed a monster lineup of JA labels and producers for the UK.

No wonder reggae became the sound of working class youth in the early 70s. You take great art, you focus on getting it in as many hands (ears) as you can, as cheaply as possible, and nature takes its course.

Click here to download.

Monday, April 15, 2024

various artists - If I Were A Carpenter

Let's face it; this is probably the only time I'll ever post something with Sheryl Crow on it.

But this is an important record, right? There had been tribute records before, but this one came out on A&M Records, home to Burt Bacharach and Cat Stevens and Janet Jackson and the Police and, yes, the Carpenters. And for every Sheryl Crow and Dishwalla, who both easily fit under the broad "alternative" banner 30 years ago, there were also Redd Kross, Shonen Knife, and Babes In Toyland. It also led to a very memorable (to me) video of Sonic Youth performing "Superstar". Would it surprise you to learn that Richard Carpenter doesn't like that version of "Superstar"? 

No, that's not Margaret Keane artwork; it's a reasonable facsimile of Karen & Richard listening to records. It's an indelible image from that time for me; I remember seeing POP in the backroom of the first record store I worked in, a small signifier that I was amongst fellow travelers, weirdos who might put their own twist on the most saccharine of art.

Click here to download.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

various artists - Mojo Presents: Red Hot & Regal (Kings Of Leon - Roots Friends & Influences)

First things first: how's Kraken working for everyone? I don't ever have issues downloading Kraken-hosted files, but I'm but a singular man. Drop a line in the comments if you have a suggestion for an alternativel The homies have spoken! I'm starting to move over to a new host. Hang tight, friends!

I think Kings Of Leon are corny as hell, but if these are indeed the artists that shaped them, then they have some pretty good taste. There's a lot to like here, and the best part is that "Sex On Fire" won't sneak up on you. I'm partial to the Band and Woody Guthrie; this also got me to drag out/seek out Soledad Brothers records.

And that's how I feel about that. You're welcome to your own opinions, as always. I'M NOT TRYING TO TAKE YOUR POWER AWAY, LISA!

Click here to download.

Monday, April 8, 2024

various artists - The 2 Tone Collection: A Checkered Past

This is an all-timer of a comp, a collection of every released A-side on 2 Tone, and just about every double AA-side as well. And what a set of performers and songs these are: the Specials, Madness, the Beat, the Selecter, the Bodysnatchers, Rico Rodriguez. It's clearly not full encompassing everything from the second wave of ska, but this is the sort of thing that, 30 years ago, you would have put into your younger sibling's hands so they had something great to listen to.

I did not have an older brother or sister to get this from. Truth be told, I can't even remember my first exposure to the Specials. It would have come around this time, that period of later in high school when one crosses over from mainstream radio into the underground out of curiosity or provocation or some combination of the two. But i can say there was rarely an episode of my radio show where I didn't play something off this collection. It was as intrinsic to my identity as Fugazi or Issac Hayes or Public Enemy.

So it kinda freaked me out when, at some point last year, I went to put it on my phone and I couldn't find my copy. Not ripped to digital, not present in physicality. Many of these songs were present elsewhere in my collection, but I really wanted to listen to the Bodysnatchers, having been inspired by Belle Stars' 7"s I had downloaded from a TwilightZone! post. No cobbled-together playlist would do, and I wasn't going to give in to Spotify for this. I dashed off to Discogs and, within a week, I could scratch my itch.

I had been sitting on this download for a minute, just waiting for the right moment to share some thoughts. It's springtime now, when my JA tastes always shift from dub to ska. This is a good soundtrack for this time of year, when the grey disappears from the sky and good things seem imminently possible.

Click here to download.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

various artists - Throw (The Yoyo Studio Compilation)

Originally posted September 23, 2020. Reuploaded with a new rip of a previously mint-in-shrink copy.

I've been wanting to share my collection of Yoyo Recordings comps for a while, but I think I never got around to ripping the later releases. I've always liked the way that Pat Maley's recordings have sounded, and appreciated what he's contributed to the 90s Western Washington sound (if there is such a thing). If you got stoked on it, he probably recorded it: Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Unwound, Beat Happening, and Team Dresch all came into YoYo Studios and made records now considered classics. He's always seemed like the perfect person for a band to make their first recordings with.

It seems to be dormant since 2011, but the 30-some-odd releases on Yoyo from 1992 on still hold up really well. Pat released five comps during that period, capturing both a sample of songs he recorded and released. The first is "Throw - The Yoyo Studio Compilation", released on both CD and vinyl. I grabbed this years ago because it had songs from the above bands, but I think it's worth coming back to for songs from the lesser-known bands. Whether it's the lead-off song from Olympia's Kicking Giant, channelling the K/53rd & 3rd vibe of late 80s indie pop, or Anacortes' Gravel, going grungier, these songs just stick in my brain. The standout for me remains one of the earliest artifacts from Heavens to Betsy. Corin Tucker's voice is SO big on this track; even if I had heard it before I heard "Calculated", I still would have thought that she would have become a big deal.

Click here to download.

Monday, April 1, 2024

various artists - CMJ Presents Certain Damage! - Volume 38

I posted another "Certain Damage!" sampler a couple months ago, and while that one was good, anytime you can lead off a mix with My Bloody Valentine/Hole/Pixies/Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet...well, that's a good-ass moment in music. Add in killer tracks from Black Sheep, Matthew Sweet, Manic Street Preachers, Dead Can Dance, Sinead O'Connor, and Enya, and you got a real stew going, doncha?

Click here to download.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

various artists - KJET Alternative CD Sampler #3 Summer '88

1988 was the year I first remember choosing to listen to the radio.

Before that, it was whatever Mom or Dad had playing in the car, or in the living room. Sometimes it was tapes, sometimes it was whatever MOR nonsense that was playing in the mid 90s on the FM dial.

But I got a boombox and a half dozen blank tapes on my 10th birthday, and by the following year, I had locked in on 96 Rock and 99.1 in Atlanta. I was too young to know about WREK, still in its heyday down at Tech; I'm not sure now that it would have had the signal to make it out to north Cobb County. So it was Todd Rundgren and Skid Row and LL Cool J and Public Enemy coursing through my ears into my brain. Not a bad time to start hearing music.

I did not get exposed to anything like this CD. Compiled by a trade magazine called The Hard Report, this "sampler" was a custom job on behalf of short-lived Seattle alternative radio station KJET 1590 AM. And compared to the rest of the Hard Report's samplers, this one's pretty good. The highlights for me are appearances from Wire (from their second post-reunion album), the Sugarcubes ("Deus" off their debut "Life's Too Good") and Dag Nasty, the pride of WDC. It's up there in quality alongside the couple of Borders CD samplers I got in the mid-90s; an interesting snapshot of what qualified as noteworthy back before I was old enough to use deodorant.

Postscript: reader Todd pointed out that this is a labeled as "KROQ - 106.7 FM Alternative CD Sampler #3 Summer '88" on the download. "What's the big idea?" I can hear him screaming (I project sometimes). Well, when I originally ripped my copy and uploaded it to Kraken, it was before I had snapped photos of the cover or added it to Discogs. I thought I was going to write about it sooner. I was incorrect. I should have re-tagged and added new pics, etc., etc.

Todd, your No-Prize is in the mail.

Click here to download.

Monday, March 25, 2024

various artists - The Giant Rock 'n' Roll Swindle

I always thought Shepard Fairey's whole deal was a bit cringey. But I can think of a lot worse things that a youngster could have walked out of Hot Topic with back in '02. This one serves as half label sampler for Boston's Fork In Hand Records, half "here's what's cool in edgy rock" comp, all wrapped inside Fairey's post-Giant/pre-Hope aesthetic. There's a Hives song and an Icarus Line song and, honestly, even the songs I don't like aren't bad, per se. It's just not always my thing. And far be it for me to gate keep.regarding a 22-year-old compilation. You do you, boo.

Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm talking about.

Click here to download.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

various artists - Mojo Presents: Stooges Jukebox

I have nothing clever or interesting to offer regarding this comp, compiled by Iggy Pop himself and offered up by Mojo back in Twenty Aught Seven. It's just good shit, and I missed a deadliine a couple days ago on account of exhaustion and a binge on Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, so I know I need to bring the good shit.

Click here to download.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

various artists - Troubleman Mix-Tape

I look at this and think of the old adage, "How you goin' to keep 'em down on the farm when they've seen the big city?"

How are you going to keep the kids from getting even freakier with their sound after they've been on the bleeding edge for years? When they've gone off to college and broken edge and read Baudelaire and taken modern lit and political science and moved past three chords and the truth?

You can't. You never have been able to. It's how we got this comp, 52 tracks from folks who had populated your 7" collection back in the 90s but were ready to reintroduce disco and no wave and free jazz as the  new century dawned and before the world went to shit, all filtered through this lens of basement shows and fanzines. DIY as an ethos, art as a goal. Tell the story however you think fits the moment.

It absolutely shows that it took Mike S. 4 years to put this one together, because it is more than a kwal-lit-tee compilation. It's a perfect mixtape.

Click here to download.

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Post #400: Double Dagger - Ragged Rubble

It took from May to August 2000 to go from 100 to 200 posts. Then I hit 300 posts two days before Christmas 2000. And now I'm here, anot...

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