Thanks to the magic of my new USB turntable, ripping 7"s to my computer is now a breeze. I'd like to share my good fortune with everyone, so keep an eye on this page as I post up information about my favourite 7"s, and give everyone an opportunity to download the mp3s and artwork. If anyone has a favourite bit of Mac software to remove crackle and pops, I'd love to hear about it. Is there something you like better than rapidshare? You should tell me about that too!
Brine was a KC posi-core 3-piece that played it pretty true. While I'm not
sure if the band were straight-edge, the band certainly wore its
collective heart on its sleeve. Lyrics are not only screaming for
change and the normal political topics of the day, but urging others to
strive to be their best. This must have been the band's last 7" though
brothers Tyler and Dane Galloway resurfaced with a slightly updated
sound a few years later in the short-lived Syndicate.
In the mid 90s my record label was definitely on board with the tribute record craze. Skingraft did it right with this 2x7" collection of AC/DC covers by Chicago bands Shellac, Big'n, Brise-Glace (Jim O'Rourke), & U.S. Maple wonderfully packaged with a comic. It's all math rock but the guitar tone from Shellac and the vocals from Big'n are both so mean they send shivers down my spine. Skingraft just released another edition of this series last fall, and there are other issues that I wish I could find. Got them? Get in touch and maybe they'll end up on here too. Until then, enjoy this Big'n track and don't say I didn't warn you about those vocals.
While the years have been kinder to Slint, in 1991 it was Endpoint that played to larger crowds in the bands' hometown of Lousiville, KY. Endpoint defined midwestern hardcore in the early 90s, toured relentlessly, and made the music it wanted to make, regardless of dismissing critics and fans. It is only natural then that the band would have had no reservations about paying tribute to an early musical influence: Rick Springfield. Aside from a bit more chug added to the song's famous riff, Endpoint's "Jessie's Girl" is truer to the original than you'd imagine possible. Sunspring is lighter and poppier than Endpoint, but, counter-intuitively, more difficult. Here, the always off-key Scott Ritcher runs through a pisstake of "Love Somebody" that probably is only entertaining to those familiar with the original.
Contrary to Kevin Seconds' assertion, hardcore has always been "Just Boys Fun." In the early 90s there were only a handful of female-fronted hardcore, emo, and post-hardcore bands, and I snatched up every record by each of them. Sometimes I was lucky enough to see a band live, while other times I bought a 7" only on the recommendation of HeartattaCk or another zine. How I ended up with the sole release from Roosevelt's Inaugural Parade I can't say, and even worse, I can't even tell you where they were from, or where its members went. Although the memories are gone, I am left with this two-song 7" featuring "Darkened Sky" and "Vendor." While the latter is a smooth and powerful rocker, it's the former that is more interesting. "Darkened Sky" simmers with tension, and only occasionally erupts in noisy hardcore bursts. Singer Sarah Hiveley's voice is thin, and barely slips through the jagged guitars and screamo-styled second vocals. While the influence of the band Ashes is noticeable, Roosevelt's Inaugural Parade is more urgent and chaotic. Download the 7" and see what I mean.
Hindsight tells us that Rites of Spring sits at the root of emo, while the music of countless other tried DC bands can be dissected to illustrate their contributions to the genre, but for those of us who lived through it, Kansas City's Boy's Life were the first national flag bearer for the genre. At that time, "emo" was a genre built on ragged emotional vocals, drastic tempo shifts, discordant, winding guitars, delicate moments expressed powerfully, and powerful moments express delicately. Boy's Life did all this to perfection.
In 1993 Hit It! Records released a split with the like-minded Kansas City band Giants Chair. That bands contribution, "Ever Present," is a wonderful song defined by its driving guitars and explosive rhythm track. However, the Boy's Life contribution, "Worn Thin," is no less than a four-and-a-half minute tour de force. While the mechanics of the song are no longer revolutionary (after countless big-budget imitators and 15 years how could it be?), it is still a striking and moving explosion of energy and emotion.
In 1994 Crank! Records released a 7" that teamed Boy's Life with Topeka's Vitreous Humor. Boy's Life contribution was a quick two-and-a-half minute jab of guitars that soar and churn, but the track by Vitreous Humor entitled "Why Are You So Mean to Me" is the real winner on this disc. Danny Pound's raw and powerful vocals climb above an infectious bass line that supports crashing drums and overdriven guitars. While this song is near bliss, the major-label attention it garnered Vitreous Humor only led to the band's demise.
St. Paul's Calvin Krime signed to Skene for the release of its second 7". The band had toned down its complexities for this single, but built much more atmosphere and tension into the songs. The bass-lead breakdown in opener "Veryfine" is heavenly, but it's the churning guitar and over-lapping vocals in "Blood Flows Slow (Fight Song)" that still blows my mind. While the other songs on this 7" were revisited for the band's 1997 debut album on Amphetamine Reptile Records, I don't believe this song ever made it to CD. Now that it's in my iTunes, watch out last.fm you're going to get pelted with this 7".
In the early to mid 90s there weren't many mathrock bands around, but those that did exist, had my undivided attention. One of my favourites was St. Paul Minnesota's Calvin Krime. When I first booked the band at Indianapolis' Sitcom (a collectively run, unlicensed, all-ages show spot) the band was touring to support its self-released debut 7". This four-song EP was a blasting, aggressive, complicated, and unrelenting dose of post-hardcore. The 7" begins with "Social Crash," a song built upon a bubbling and propulsive rhythm, and topped off by a guitar that drives through choruses and chirps with false harmonics in the verses. It was excellent then, and it's just as enthralling now. It also reminds me just how good the midwestern mathrock scene really was.
When I moved to Kansas City in 1997, it was a hotbed of indie rock bands evolving from post-hardcore and emo roots. One of the first bands that I latched on to was Proudentall. The band's first 7" was written as a quartet, and reflects the band's complex and brooding indie rock sound. Led by frontman Matt Dunehoo (later of Doris Henson and currently of NYC's Baby Teardrops), the band soon shrunk to a threesome, songs opened up, and pop song craft started to bubble up through the grating dissonance. Even through the chaos of overlapping vocals, the band's contribution to 1998's split with The Anniversary demonstrates that evolution.
The Anniversary, however, were born poppy. The band mixed Get Up Kids-inspired aggressive emo with coed vocals and Moog swells for something that was quite new at the time. This 7" – the band's first release – exemplifies the first formation of that sound. A sound that not only helped to build the emo-pop hurrah that still prevails [for better or worse], but it also lifted the band to remarkable, if only fleeting, commercial heights as well. Unfortunately The band quickly tired of this musical direction, attempted a move towards Americana, but the band just couldn't keep it together. The Anniversary were officially broken up by 2004.
In 1990, the bands I liked didn't get booked in the clubs &ndash at least not in any club in Indiana. Instead, my friends and I had to book the bands we wanted to see at VFW Halls, Lion's Clubs, and whatever should-have-been-condemned firetrap we could afford to run as an unlicenced all-ages club.
Sure there were Alternative (with a big "a") acts that I liked, but they were the sort of bands that played Wimbley Arena and had videos on Post Modern MTV and 120 Minutes. College Rock bands existed, and a few got attention, but punk and power-pop bands were entirely underground.
But soon Nirvana changed things. And Greenday changed things. And soon the bands that had slept on my floor, eaten my bland spaghetti, and received $40 for a sweaty show played in a friend's basement, were getting signed to major labels. Chicago's Figdish was one of those bands swept up in the signing frenzy. Of course Figdish and their peers never had the wide appeal necessary to sell the records a major expects, and the majors still no idea how to market these bands. Soon these bands were dropped, or worse, stuck in a state of limbo.
This 7" is from 1993, just before the band was signed to Polydor. It is a perfect vision the band's revved power-pop &ndash still raw, still gutsy.
From 1991 to 1993 I was the music director at WQAX in Bloomington, IN. We were a cable FM station with few DJs and fewer listeners. I used to hang around the station a lot, just listening to music, staving off the dead air. One Saturday afternoon I heard a ring on our makeshift doorbell, and after putting on a long song, I wandered down to the street. No one ever rung our bell. On th stoop of the Allen Building stood the four intimadatingly lovely gals of Champaign IL's Corndolly. The band was playing around the corner at Rhino's that night, and the girls had heard me cablecasting through the open studio window. They were hoping to get a plug. I was bullied into letting them into the studio, playing their record, and even doing a bit of an on-air interview. When someone in the band wanted to give a copy of the record to the 9th caller, I paniced. On-air giveaways don't work if no one is listening, and I hoped to avoid revealing that dirty little secret. Somehow I convinced the band to leave two copies of it's new 7" &ndash one for the station, one to give away. This is that giveaway 7", and it's a gem of lo-fi, female fronted pop that combines Midwestern punk with loose pop of the Northwest. Enjoy.
8 Bark was a fabulous coed punk band from Chicago that was as heady as it was energetic. This is the band's second 7" and contains 4 fantastic songs that capture its hectic beauty. I can't imagine how many times I saw the band between 90 and 92, but I know it couldn't have been enough. I do, however, remember ordering this 7" from Underdog Records in 1991. I used to write long letters to Underdog, tucking my well-concealed cash inside the folds. A few weeks later I'd get a package in the mail that not only contained my order, but a free 7" from some band that I'd never heard of. Most importantly, the package would always contain a letter -- usually one from "Anarchy Ali." I never met Ali, but I had a monster crush on her. I squirreled our correspondence into the dresser drawer in my dorm, and imagined what life in the punkrock city of Chicago would be like. I still have my Underdog Records t-shirt btw. If I broke it out of retirement and wore it around town, do you think I might run into Anarchy Ali?