Saturday, July 22, 2017

Last Listen From a Distant Drive

Prolific would not be the best word to describe the frequency of posts in these parts since the LTL Family returned from the Southwest. I'll try to do better. This will conclude the vacation snapshots. I'm sure this is starting to feel like Grandpa's tired slideshow at the family reunion.

Our trip to the Utah-Nevada-Arizona corridor wouldn't have been complete without some time at the Grand Canyon, and that's where I'm taking you today. Mrs. LTL and I used to go to Arizona every year to catch our beloved Chicago Cubs during spring training. After the birth of our first child, we had this ridiculous notion our life wasn't going to change one bit, and we took him along to spring training when he was a year old. Needless to say, that marked the last time we caught the Cubs in Mesa. That also meant we hadn't been to the Grand Canyon in 13 years, and our kids had never been there. It's a picturesque setting that never gets old. As usual, these photos don't do the ol' place any justice.

Due to the excessive heat, there was a slight haze I had never dealt with since we always saw the Grand Canyon in March when there would be snow. Still, my boys didn't know any better, and they enjoyed the different shades of orange and red that made up the rocky terrain.

We have plenty of elk here in the Pacific Northwest, but their relatives around the Grand Canyon were much much bigger. This fella was enjoying his leafy dinner at sunset.

As I mentioned in the previous two posts, I had many hours on the road to listen to the mix of 2017 songs I put together just before I left. The trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon was about four hours (one way!). Quite a few albums got a good airing, including two from Australia. I highly recommend 'Living Right' by Glaciers and 'Benefits of Solitude' by Dag. Both groups obviously grew up listening to the right bands from their home country. Like many of you, I have fallen hard for the charms of Sacred Paws, too. Can't get enough of those horns! The new single from the Fireworks is bound to be near the top of my songs of the year list. Beth Arzy from the Luxembourg Signal is fronting the band now, and I'm truly smitten.

As darkness set in on the vast highway, I put on slow burner 'Please Be Mine' by Molly Burch. It's an album I have had for quite a few months, but I believe the environment had something to do with me becoming completely taken by her sound this time around. You'll think of Dusty and Patsy and even Spector at times when the percussion kicks in. I never expected this right turn from our friends at Captured Tracks, but it has been most welcome.

I could go on and on, but that's what December is all about. OK, two more, then. I don't get a chance to go local too often, but Seattle's own Zebra Hunt is right up my alley. Lots of jangle and with a hint of that Australian scene I have been going on and on about since Chook Race, Community Radio and the Goon Sax came into my life last year. You're going to want to put latest album 'In Phases' on your short list.

And now on to my home away from home. I do miss the Chicago scene (and Portillo's hot dogs!), and hearing 'Lost World' from Star Tropics has me thinking about the old days. As you must know by now, I'm mostly about '80s indie pop and all of the jangle that comes along with it. Star Tropics hearken back to that time but to a different branch of the tree. I have read the band is into the Sarah scene (there is even a song call "Another Sunny Day"), but what I have been hearing is New Order all over new album 'Lost World.' I guess it doesn't matter much what influenced their sound. I just know it's pushing my buttons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

More Songs For a Distant Drive

Did I mention our trip to the Southwest was a scorcher? I took this photo of the dashboard as we pulled into our hotel in Las Vegas after a long day of hiking and sightseeing. Note the time and temperature. The hottest day of all was when we ventured to Hoover Dam. We were ready to jump into Lake Mead when the mercury read 116 degrees! I have been to the Palm Desert a few times in my life, but I don't believe I have ever been in heat quite like that.

Seeing Hoover Dam was well worth the sweat and panting. I was filled with mixed emotions as I studied the beauty of the structure. It was built during the Great Depression, and I was fascinated by not just the mighty structure itself, but the beautiful art-deco details and finishes as well. Then your mind wanders to those that put themselves in harm's way and even died to complete the project. I couldn't help but wonder whether we would or even could build something this grand today. Here are a few more shots from that memorable day.

This has been a fantastic year for reissues and compilations, and I already have a solid top 10 with almost a half year to go. Here are a couple that got quite a bit of play while watching the odometer.

'Three Wishes: Part Time Punks Sessions' came out at the beginning of the year with little fanfare, and that's a real travesty. I mean, c'mon! This is the June Brides, 14 Iced Bears and Aberdeen recorded live from Los Angeles in 2011 by Rob Campanella of Brian Jonestown Massacre in what the Brides' Phil Wilson described as "the most rock 'n' roll day of my life." For indie-pop fans of a certain age, and you know who you are, hearing a new recording of 14 Iced Bears for the first time in 25 years should be enough to get you seeking this one out... along with that old anorak up in the attic.

Moving ahead a few years, if you have any recollection of German indie-pop label A Turntable Friend Records, then you know their stable of stars included the likes of Love Parade, the Apple Moths, the Claim, the Rileys, Boyracer and many more. I picked up 'The Test of Time' compilation at my local indie shop just before taking off on the trip, and I have never been happier to find this one in the bins because the shipping on this one would have been ridiculous. Forty tracks on three heavy pieces of vinyl housed in a dazzling tri-fold sleeve that includes an album-sized scrapbook of the label's history.

The packaging is nothing short of perfection. What a feast for the eyes. I especially love how you get a photo of the front and back sleeves of all the releases along with a comprehensive discography. There's just so much to look at while you're listening. 'The Test of Time' is a definite contender for compilation of the year! Here is a peek inside. Like those pictures from Hoover Dam, I wish I was able to take better photos because this doesn't really do the packaging justice, but here goes...

Back next time with one more go around of music and photos from the family vacation.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Music for a Distant Drive

The family unit is back from a terrific trip to the Southwest. There were few sing-a-longs like above, but there isn't much better for a music lover than hundreds of miles of road with little to do but catch up on recent releases. The vehicle we picked up in Las Vegas had satellite radio. So there was something for everyone in the car... for a while, anyway. Sooner or later, however, I was going to get out my iPod to listen to that killer comp of songs from the first half of 2017 I assembled just before we left. The next few posts will feature some favorite moments from that list.

This is a picture I took as we were leaving Zion National Park after a picturesque day of hiking. We stayed as long as we possibly could, but when the moon made its appearance, it was obvious we squeezed as much out of the day as we possibly could. Here are a couple of inspired covers that are sure to make my list of favorite songs come December. Cattle is a Japanese quartet (two fellas, two gals) that just missed making my top 10 albums list in 2015 with "Somehow Hear Songs." The new five-song EP "Slow Sailor" continues to float my boat with their beefy side of dreampop. You'll want to turn up this take of Ride's 1992 classic "Twisterella."

This is another shot from Zion, along the Narrows. This shady hike through the water was the perfect way to cool off. The temperature peaked at 106 degrees that day. Here's another cover that grabbed me on the drive. The Luxembourg Signal is a favorite that's had nothing but praise on these pages. In fact, only the Popguns kept the band's self-titled debut from topping my list of best albums in 2014. Shelflife recently released a new 7" by the Luxembourg Signal, and both sides of the "Laura Palmer" single are beautiful. There was a certain amount of risk in their faithful rendition of "Let's Make Some Plans" by Close Lobsters because the Wedding Present's version is already so well known, but there is plenty of room in the world for more Close Lobsters! We may hear from Beth Arzy's other band later in the week. More from my 2017 mix, along with more photos from the trip, next time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Top Single in the Subway Organization Poll Is...

The votes are in, and I would call the winner of the best Subway Organization single a mild upset. Immediate thoughts went to Russian hackers, but is the Kremlin really filled with fans that wanted to make sure Edinburgh's finest got their moment some 32 years after the single hit the indie chart? Yes, the Subway Organization's very first single, the Shop Assistants' "All Day Long EP," also known as the "Shopping Parade EP," came out on top. Nearly half of all voters (48%) checked the box for Shop Assistants. The Flatmates, by far, got the most total votes, but the band's myriad of singles split voters. Still, "Shimmer" fared well and was clicked on 41% of all ballots. Going in, I would have bet on "Ask Johnny Dee" to take this thing, but then again, I voted for a different single from the Chesterf!elds. In case you're interested, here are my top 5 (in order). Thanks to all of you who participated.

My Ballot
The Flatmates - "I Could Be in Heaven"
The Chesterf!elds- "Completely and Utterly"
The Rosehips - "Room in Your Heart"
The Flatmates - "Shimmer"
Razorcuts - "Sorry to Embarrass You"

Complete Results of the Subway Organization Singles Poll
1. Shop Assistants - "All Day Long EP" (aka "Shopping Parade EP")
"All Day Long"
"All That Ever Mattered"
"It's Up to You"
2. The Flatmates - "Shimmer"
3. Soup Dragons - "Whole Wide World"
4. The Chesterf!elds - "Ask Johnny Dee"
5. Razorcuts - "Sorry to Embarrass You"
5. The Flatmates - "I Could Be in Heaven"
7. The Flatmates - "Happy All the Time"
8. Soup Dragons - "The Sun is in the Sky EP"
8. The Chesterf!elds - "Completely and Utterly"
8. The Rosehips - "Room in Your Heart"
11. The Chesterf!elds - "A Guitar in Your Bath EP"
12. Choo Choo Train - "Briar Rose"
12. The Flatmates - "Heaven Knows"
12. Choo Choo Train "High"
12. The Charlottes - "Love in the Emptiness"
16. Razorcuts - "Big Pink Cake"
16. The Flatmates - "You're Gonna Cry"
18. The Groove Farm - "Surfin Into Your Heart"
18. Korova Milk Bar - "Do It Again"
18. The Fastbacks - "Wrong Wrong Wrong"
21. Bubblegum Splash - "Splashdown EP"
21. Rodney Allen - "Circle Lone EP"
21. The Groove Farm - "Driving in Your Car"
21. The Fastbacks - "In the Winter"
25. The Clouds - "Tranquil"
25. The Rosehips - "I Shouldn't Have to Say"
25. The Groove Farm - "The Big Black Plastic Explosion"

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Did You Vote for Your Favorite Subway Single?

My vacation is coming to an end. Last call. Polls close at 11:59PM on Sunday. For you indie-pop fanatics out there, here's a little hint on the proceedings. The photo above is taken from a single that has fared very well in exit polls. Do you recognize it? Vote below...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Here's Where Your Vote Really Counts!

By the time you read this the LTL family will be on its way to the sizzling states of Nevada, Utah and Arizona for hiking at Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. In the meantime, in an attempt to keep things interesting on these pages, I cooked up a little poll for you indie-popsters to ponder. When you finish voting, feel free to participate in some exit polling via the comments section, and check back July 10th for what are sure to be riveting results.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Video Tribute to June Miles-Kingston

Ever since those mammoth posts on Everything But the Girl last month, I have been digging into the music of the duo's band mates. June Miles-Kingston has certainly had an interesting career. Let's check out a few of the highlights:

With the Mo-Dettes in 1979. Best video of the bunch.

So many great clips of her time with the Fun Boy Three in '83. Check out their performance on "Razzmatazz" too. It's a keeper.

From 1984, here is June's one and only solo single.

On "The Old Grey Whistle Test" with Everything But the Girl in 1985...

Nice vocals from Microdisney's 1985 album 'The Clock Comes Down The Stairs'...

Lovely song from 1986 made even lovelier by June's vocals. Her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Hughes, was in the Lover Speaks.

One of two songs on Big Country's 1986 album 'The Seer' featuring June's voice. Perhaps she was overshadowed by Kate Bush's appearance on the title track. Well, not by me.

This 1989 duet with Jimmy Somerville is the the one for which she'll be remembered. No. 14 in the UK.

From more recent times, June sings and directs this video from the one-time member of the Jazz Butcher. From 2010.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Before We Say Goodbye to 'Cruel World'

Admittedly, while trying to illustrate how Elvis Costello may have saved a couple of songs from 'Goodbye Cruel World' by reworking them and giving them to other artists, I have been rough on his 1984 album. Let me tell you, it's no fun to speak ill of a hero. What's something I can say that's positive about the album? While proclaiming my affinity for Roy Orbison's "The Comedians" and Tracie's "(I Love You) When You Sleep," I hope I made it clear when you strip away the Langer/Winstanley production, the demos from this era, particularly the solo ones, prove the bones of fine (if not great, in some cases) songs were there. In the liner notes for the 1995 reissue, Costello writes that "the latest fad," the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer, "along with the veneer of Solid State recording... does more than anything else to 'datestamp' this record." I think that more or less sums it up. The demos are pretty clear evidence he wasn't originally shooting to sound like 1984, but that was the result.

When the album was finished but before it was released, Costello embarked on his first ever solo jaunt of America. Before 'Goodbye Cruel World' even hit the shelves, he had already "discovered some of the mistakes [he] made" and "began to rescue [his] newest songs from the fog." Here's a quick listen from that tour:

"Worthless Thing" (Live)"

Not at all bad, but I think the best moment from the "Goodbye Cruel World" era, however, was the B-side "Turning the Town Red," which appeared in most countries as the flip to "I Wanna Be Loved" and is most remembered in the UK as the theme to Costello pal Alan Beasdale's television series "Scully." We listened to that one on these pages in 2015, but it can't hurt to hear it again. A nice memory from your youth for many of you, I'm sure.

"Turning the Town Red"

In 1995, Costello had the honor of curating the Meltdown Festival on the South Bank. By all accounts, it was a fine bill that included Jeff Buckley, the Fairfield Four, the Re-Birth Brass Band, the Jazz Passengers and many more. Costello himself appeared on stage several times during the nine days, including a set where his voice and Bill Frisell's guitar complemented each other to perfection. To me, this performance is the best save of a song from 'Goodbye Cruel World.' Beautiful. Even if this album is Costello's worst, as even the artist himself hinted, the songs of 'Goodbye Cruel World' were not entirely worthless things.

Elvis Costello and Bill Frisell - "Love Field" (Live)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Another Save From 'Goodbye Cruel World'

I almost put a question mark after this headline because this one is bound to divide the peanut gallery. Tracie Young was a protégé of Paul Weller's. He found her by placing an ad in Smash Hits when he was looking for talent to kickstart his own Respond label. Weller incorporated Young immediately, using her for backing vocals on the Jam's swansong, "Beat Surrender, as well as the Style Council's first single, "Speak Like a Child." Weller envisioned Tracie (as she would simply be called) as a solo artist, however, and her first single, "The House That Jack Built," went top 10 in the UK a few months later. There were a couple of other singles in 1983 and early 1984, but this proved to be Tracie's biggest hit.

Tracie's only officially released album during the Respond era, the Weller-produced 'Far from the Hurting Kind,' came out in 1984. The single "(I Love You) When You Sleep" was penned by Elvis Costello. From her liner notes on the 2010 album reissue, here is what Tracie had to say about the song:

I met Elvis on a plane on the way back from doing The Tube in Newcastle. We just got chatting. He was talking about other artists he'd written songs for and said that he'd really like to give me a song. It was a reworking of his song "Joe Porterhouse." He changed the lyrics and the tempo but we did struggle with it while rehearsing at Nomis Studios. I loved the lyrics but it was very slow and I found it hard to sing. We had a chat with him and he said, try using a bossa nova rhythm, so that was the starting point, although it became less rhythmic the more we worked on it. I was always very proud of it.

Tracie's version doesn't bear much resemblance to the "Joe Porterhouse" found on 'Goodbye Cruel World.' A few of you may like Tracie's version. Many will not. As for me, in the mid-'80s, I fell hard for sophisti-pop, and that's what this song sounded like to me. I bought the 12" as soon as I heard it. How could I possibly pass it up? The connections to Costello and Weller were there, and I liked her voice. This single is the only piece I would own by Tracie until the 2010 reissue of 'Far from the Hurting Kind.' Unlike Roy Orbison's take on "The Comedians," Tracie's version of "Joe Porterhouse" is of a time and place and doesn't quite hold up in 2017, but I found myself enjoying it today, anyway.

One last aspect of this song to ponder is the timeline. Tracie's single came out in May 1984. 'Goodbye Cruel World' was released in June 1984. In other words, Costello was already reworking "Joe Porterhouse" before the public even heard it. If I ever have a pint with Costello, I would love to hear about his motivation. I'll have one more post of a different ilk on 'Goodbye Cruel World' next time.

"(I Love You) When You Sleep"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Successful Save From 'Goodbye Cruel World'

'Goodbye Cruel World' is Elvis Costello's worst album. I know it. You know it. He knows it. If you have listened to any of the demos from that era, you may agree some of the songs might have stood a chance, but going to the Langer/Winstanley well a second time, coupled with 1984 being a dark time in Costello's life, proved to be too much to overcome. Costello would go back to the drawing board and attempt to improve some of those songs, rewriting verses and changing tempos with other artists in mind.

I humbly submit Costello was incredibly successful handing off "The Comedians" to Roy Orbison. The song, produced by T Bone Burnett for Orbison's posthumously released album 'Mystery Girl,' was heard by most for the first time when it was performed live with an all-star lineup in 1988 (taped in 1987) for the Cinemax television special "Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night." Orbison was backed at the Ambassador Hotel's Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles by Elvis Presley's TCB Band, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and many other greats, including Costello himself. If you have read Costello's memoir 'Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink,' then you know what a treat it was for him to be a part of that evening.

Costello's changes to "The Comedians" made the song sound and feel like a long lost Orbison track unearthed for this special night. The soulless clunky synth-driven original had been replaced by that patented Orbison storytelling and drama. Although Burnett did a fine job in the studio, personally, I think this live version was better than the one that appeared on 'Mystery Girl.' So that's the one we will listen to today. Don't feel like this is a slight on Burnett. He was the musical director for the live show too. Another reworked song from 'Goodbye Cruel World' next time.

Roy Orbison and Friends - "The Comedians" (Live, Sept. 30, 1987)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rat Fancy's Mix Tape Recalls Be-Kind-Rewind Era

Without question, "You Stole My Xmas Sweater," from L.A.-based Rat Fancy, was the best of last season's holiday tunes. I described it then as "all hand claps, head bobs and betrayal. In other words, indie pop at its best." You couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the newly formed trio of ex-Sweater Girl Diana Barraza (vocals/guitar), Gregory Johnson (guitar/keyboard) and Gavin Glidewell (drums), and the recently released "Suck a Lemon" EP (HHBTM Records) has more than lived up to the lofty expectations set by that first single. On the surface, this new set is sunshine and lollipops, but as you begin to sing along (and you will sing along!), you'll realize the world isn't quite as perfect as the catchy melodies....

The B-side to that holiday single was a cover from Ramones. That's when I knew we would be in good hands. As you regulars know, '80s indie pop is the cornerstone of this operation, and I asked Rat Fancy what songs from that era tickled their, ahem, fancy. As you're about to see and hear, despite being young whippersnappers, this band knows its stuff. Click on the graphic below to get to the video mix, and then enjoy reading why these songs mean so much to them. Thanks to Rat Fancy and the folks at HHBTM for making this happen. What a blast!

1. Orange Juice - "Blue Boy"
Greg and Gavin: When I first think "'80s indiepop," I immediately think of Scottish pop. My love of Scottish bands actually influenced my decision to move to Edinburgh for grad school. Scotland is an amazing place on this planet and Orange Juice is my favorite band on Postcard Records. The only time I woke up early for Record Store Day was when they did the Orange Juice reissues. I got everything I wanted to add to my collection of singles.

2. Altered Images - "I Could Be Happy"
Diana: Like Orange Juice, Altered Images isn't really "indiepop" per se, but they wrote some killer pop tracks. This is my favorite Altered Images track and it's wonderful that this video exists. From the art direction, to dancing lion and sing-a-long moment, it's everything I want in a music video. Also, I love how Talulah Gosh got its namesake from Altered Image's Clare Grogan. That's a serious indiepop influencer!

3. Strawberry Switchblade - "Let Her Go"
Greg: Strawberry Switchblade are such legends. We were listening to them heavily while we were writing "Suck A Lemon." Not only did they write such beautiful pop songs, but they have such appeal to the punk/"goth" crowd. I love that versatility -- especially with Rose's later collaborations. I wonder if they still have those looks. Can we raid their closet?

4. The Vaselines - "You Think You're a Man"
Diana: It's amazing when a band introduces you to something equally amazing. Originally, I learned about the Vaselines via Nirvana. I admit, I'm a child of the '90s and thankfully I paid attention to references and found 53rd & 3rd and K Records pretty early on. Thanks to The Vaselines, I found Divine. This is an amazing cover and hopefully we can do a drag cover ourselves... maybe of Alaska Thunderfuck for our next Christmas single. We are huge fans of drag at Rat Fancy headquarters. I think it's important for bands to do things that are a little unexpected.

5. The Primitives - "Thru the Flowers"
Gavin: There is this episode of "Eerie, Indiana" that has haunted me since childhood. On the show, these twins were able to stay young by preserving themselves in giant Tupperware. That's what comes to mind when I think of Tracy Tracy from the Primitives because she looks like she hasn't aged! In fact, the band sounds as fresh as ever today. We have a tendency to relate everything to '90s TV shows.

6. Beat Happening - "Other Side"
Diana: Beat Happening is everything. I was never able to see Beat Happening live, but I saw Calvin live a few times. I have a poster somewhere of a black and white Beat Happening cat that I colored in myself. Calvin signed it with crayon.

7. The Wake - "Crush the Flowers"
Greg: We're back to Scottish pop! Also related to Altered Images, the Wake sounds so impossibly cool. I love this single so much. Sadly, I don't have the original Sarah Records version, but a friend was able to find the reissue in the Bay Area and sent it to me. I love when pop friends do nice pop things for each other.

8. Shop Assistants - "All Day Long"
Diana: I have a bunch of Shop Assistants releases I was able to snag in Scotland. Their sound is absolutely what I look for in a pop band: fast with a little noise. I actually tried covering this one at a solo show at Monorail Music in Glasgow to a group of friends who were a captive audience.

9. Chin Chin - "Why Am I So Lonely?"
Diana: When we were writing "Suck A Lemon," the idea of doing a slow and fast version of a song came from Chin Chin. Their slow version of "Why Am I So Lonely?" sounds so melancholy, yet the fast version seems so fierce -- almost questioning why they would let someone make them feel that way.

10. The Dead Milkmen - "Punk Rock Girl"
Greg: So this is an atypical pop playlist, because we're including the Dead Milkmen. I hate when bands take themselves so seriously. I grew up in Philly playing in the punk/emo scene and these guys were legends! Punk rock girl just reminds me of being in my late teens and doing stupid shit around town with my friends/girlfriends. I don’t see how you could be in a bad mood when the dead milkmen are on. Plus joe jack’s voice is so unique and endearing. If only I was old enough in the 80s to go to a show.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Swell Covers From Jason Falkner

It's funny, the twists and turns that take you to a song. After sitting in the house for more than a week, I finally opened Robyn Hitchcock's new album yesterday. One listen in, I was pleased as punch to hear him with a band again. The album is produced by power-pop aficionado Brendan Benson, and seeing his name on the sleeve made me think of his pal, Jason Falkner. Always happens. I made a mental note to pull out some Falkner soon. It's been too long.

I had a little trouble sleeping last night and decided to read for a bit. I had a copy of 'Rip It Up and Start Again' by Simon Reynolds on the bed stand. Having read it before and just needing to get drowsy, I opened the book on a random page. It was from the chapter "Autonomy in the U.K.: DIY and the British Independent-Label Movement." Reynolds was going on about Swell Maps, and he mentioned the song "Midget Submarines." I immediately recalled Falkner covering that song on the two-disc Japanese import 'Everyone Says It's On' in 2001. Now the signs were clear as day... in my tired mind, anyway. I was meant to listen to that song, and I would never be able to sleep without hearing it. Luckily, my iPod was charging on the bed stand too. I rolled over and started scrolling only to find I didn't have Falkner's "Midget Submarines" on there.

Awake as ever, I made my way downstairs to the music room and took 'Everyone Says It's On' off the shelf. If you know the album, disc one is called "Me," and the second disc is called "Them" because it's all covers by the likes of Kinks, Brian Eno, Magazine, the Left Banke and many more. Inspired choices. You can guess what happened. Paying for it today, but I stayed up and listened to the whole damn thing. It was worth the cost. Here's a great summary of 'Everyone Says It's On' in Falkner's own words. This is from an excellent in-depth interview conducted by magazine Bucketfull Of Brains back in 2010, followed by a couple of covers from the album. I need a nap.

Yeah I just wanted to release some of my 4 track demos because I'm really proud of how they sound. I miss the urgent sound of that machine 4 track cassette machine, so warm and syrupy and delicious. The covers that comprise one disc of that double were actually recorded in 1994 when my short lived post Jellyfish band The Grays were dissolving. The head of Epic had flown out to Chicago to talk me into keeping The Grays together for one more record even though Jon Brion had quit. I was really over that group as well so I negotiated that I be able to make a SOLO (my first solo performed record mind you) record of obscure covers and if that could happen I would make another Grays record without Jon.

My idea was given the green light so when I got back to LA I booked a studio and started recording this cover record. I remember the A&R guy from Epic leaving tons of messages at the studio but I just kept recording and never called him back. I figured whatever he had to say couldn't be as important as this record I was making. Ha ha the nerve! This was a wonderfully exciting time making this record because it was the first time I was in a proper studio playing all the instruments and I chose a very diverse collection of songs that had impacted me deeply. I also thought I might turn the world on to these great obscure bands like The Monochrome Set, The Left Banke and Magazine. Well obviously I didn't do any of these bands a favour because the reason my A&R guy was calling so much was to tell me to STOP and inform me that The Grays were dropped from Epic. So I finally put that out in 2001 on a Japanese label run by a crook. Long story.....If I did another covers record now? Hmmm....maybe a Public Nuisance track, and "Space Ace" by Brett Smiley, Something mid 90's by Guided by Voices....maybe I'll start this after the interview!

"Midget Submarines" (Swell Maps cover)
"Pretty Ballerina" (The Left Banke cover)
"A Song From Under the Floorboards" (Magazine cover)