After Stumpy Joe disbanded, John Ramberg formed The Model Rockets and released their first album, Hilux in 1993. The Model Rockets kept the spirit of power-pop alive with a touch of roots flavour. Produced by Scott McCaughey, their sound is not unlike the Fellows or the Fastbacks, this music is catchy and they have kept the spirit of power-pop alive with a touch of roots flavour, it's a brilliant debut! As a matter of fact, all The Model Rockets albums are amazing if you can track them down. They even released a live album recorded and (I'm guessing) only released in Spain. The good news is the band reunited for a show at the Tractor Tavern (opening for YFF's) in Seattle, July 4, 2008.
Hilux has been long out of print and it was one of those records I had been trying to hunt down throughout the 90's, until someone burned me a copy about 5 years ago. I've just found out it is now available as a limited edition 2008 reissue, though it seems it might be a burned CD-R, but you can buy it here. I highly recommend anything by The Model Rockets, another extremely underrated Seattle band lost in the shuffle when grunge became popular. Enjoy!!
THE MODEL ROCKETS Hilux (1993) 1. New Cinnamon Girl 2. Ditched At The Grand Illusion 3. Hitchhiker Jane 4. Queen Bee 5. Johnson's Plumbing Supply 6. Behind The Door 7. Untitled Transitional Instrumental 8. Daredevil Girl 9. Never New How 10. Carolyn 11. Cheerleader 12. Shapeshifter 13. Year Of the Sofa
Here's a underrated gem that I haven't seen too often. Back in the late 80's/early 90's I was heavily into ordering albums through mail order. I requested catalogs from smaller indie labels so I can buy their products directly from the label, because I found it difficult to track down certain records at my local record stores. The idea of browsing through a newsprint catalog (a couple of pages to a small pamphlet), making a list of what I want, going to the post office to get a money order, mailing the letter and waiting a minimum 2 weeks for my package to arrive, is so old-school, but fun. Nothing beats the feeling of receiving a much anticipated package full of music, t-shirts or posters!!
One of the labels I ordered from a lot was Popllama records in Seattle. I bought everything by the Young Fresh Fellows they had in stock, including shirts, 7" ers, LP's, tapes, etc. Over the course of only a couple of years I bought records by Jimmy Silva, the Squirrels, The Fastbacks, the 1st albums from The Posies and Dharma Bums, The Walkabouts, Bum, The Smugglers, Teengenerate, The Picketts, Pure Joy, and the one and only release from Stumpy Joe, One Way Rocket Ride To Kicksville. This is a great album of raw garage inspired rawk with songs about drinking and getting drunk...the perfect party album! At the time when I bought this CD (1992?), I knew nothing about the band, but it came highly recommended by Scott McCaughey (who co-produced, engineered and mixed the record) of the Fellows and staffer at Popllama. When Stumpy Joe split, front-man John Ramberg went on to form the Model Rockets, then later The Tripwires. John is also a member of McCaughey's, Minus 5.
"Forget it man and get with the countdown. Shake this square world and blast off for kicksville".
Just returned from Ottawa and I must apologize for not posting anything while I was there. I was too busy checking out all the typical Ottawa tourist sites such as, the National Gallery, Canadian Museum Of Civilization, Parliament Hill, Scotiabank Place (to see a Senators hockey game) and the local record stores (Vertigo Records and Compact Music). When I go to another city I always try to seize the opportunity to see a band, but unfortunately I didn't see anything of interest in town, unless you count the Crash Test Dummies and of course, I won't!
When I think of Ottawa all I can think of is Furnaceface and Kathleen Edwards. I have a whole bunch of Kathleen Edwards shows, but I came upon this good one the other day that is short, but sweet. It's from her 2008 tour, about a month before I saw her at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and it was broadcast on WXPN and posted at the NPR website. It sounds great and features just Kathleen and band member Jim Bryson (another Ottawa native). The reason the set is so short is because it was part of Philadelphia's NON-COMMvention, a showcase for non-commercial radio programmers and music industry professionals and also because Kathleen was opening for both Alejandro Escovedo and Jakob Dylan. Enjoy!!
I'm heading out of town this morning to the nation's capital, Ottawa, Ontario. I'm taking the laptop with me, so if I'm not too busy between shopping at record stores (if there are any?), touring the National Gallery, cruising through the Museum Of Civilization, watching a Sens game and, oh yeah, attend a conference on the weekend, I'll add a couple of posts to this blog.
Of course, I'll miss Winnipeg, but to keep you feeling at home, I'm posting the latest offering from the Weakerthans', John K. Samson. Provincial Road 222 is the second in series of ep's thematically inspired by roads in his home province of Manitoba. The opening song is called Petition, which takes the form of an on-line petition to get Riverton's Reggie Leach into the Hockey Hall Of Fame. You can sign the petition here and I talk about this more on a previous posting.
Have a listen, it's different than the Weakerthans and if you enjoy what you hear, buy the limited edition 7" deluxe bundle package with 2- 7" ep's (one black vinyl, one white vinyl), t-shirt and digital download...this looks really cool!!
Continuing with my mini-tribute to Ward Dotson, I have the first record from his post-Pontiac Brothers band, the Liquor Giants. You're Always Welcome is musically not far off from the sound of the Pontiac's, but with Dotson fronting the band and providing lead vocals. This is an excellent debut, crunchy guitars, catchy hooks and influenced by 60's pop/rock. Their proceeding releases moved even more towards a retro 60's sound which lead to an all-covers album, Something Special For The Kids, released in 1998, that paid homage to English rockers and the British Invasion.
You're Always Welcome was also released in Japan under the title, America's #1 Recording Artists. I had the privilege of seeing the Liquor Giants perform live in Winnipeg at the Royal Albert in 1998 to a handful of people. It was an amazing show and I stuck around after the show to chat with the band and got them to sign my CD purchase. Nice real down to earth guys who weren't fazed by the small non-responsive crowd. For proof, I recorded the show on my recording tape deck and I had a listen the other day, great memories! If I get around to transferring the tape to the computer, I'll up it for a future post.
01. Over the Hill 02. Mrs. Griffith 03. Greatest Hit 04. Paint the Whole Town Blue 05. Middle of Nowhere 06. Just Might Cry 07. I Wanna Get Drunk With You 08. The Little Song 09. Lost on Mars 10. My Teeth and Tongue 11. The Jokes On You 12. Fine Line 13. My World
Since I had some requests for the Pontiac Brothers', Doll Hut (that I have on vinyl, see above), I will post the album. I didn't realize there were so many people that remember this great band. There's good news if you are a fan because the Pontiac Brothers will be playing at the Frontier Records 30th anniversary party at Los Angeles' Echoplex on November 7th with a lineup of label mates such as the Adolescents, Middle Class, Rikk Agnew and Flyboys. The Young Fresh Fellows will headline the Seattle show on October 16th at the Crocodile Cafe with the Dharma Bums (this will be an amazing show!!).
To be honest, I didn't think Frontier Records was still active and producing new product. Actually, most of their new releases are re-releases, compilations or previously unreleased material. Lisa Fancher founded the label in 1980 and has maintained it's indie-status and has survived the industry despite the digital market of iTunes customers, with a small roster of bands. I assumed the Pontiac Brothers releases were completely out of print, but only the vinyl and cassette format as you can purchase Doll Hut/Biblioteca together on one CD. If I knew this, I might not have posted these albums as they are still available from Frontier. I figure I'm giving the new listener an opportunity to be exposed to a band they might otherwise not heard of since the Pontiac Brothers were only active (on record) from 1985-92 and I can hopefully convert some listeners to fans. Anyways, buy something from Frontier, they have lots of great music and bands!!
I had a request a few weeks ago from a reader for some Pontiac Brothers and Liquor Giants. I accommodated his request, but since I transferred my vinyl and tapes to digital and I have these records uploaded on my on-line storage, I figured I should post some here.
The Pontiac Brothers were founded in 1983 by Ward Dotson formerly of the Gun Club and they released 5 albums between 1985 and 1992. I bought 2 of their albums, Doll Hut and Fiesta En La Biblioteca in the late 80's as a hunch because they were on the same label (Frontier Records) as my heroes, the Young Fresh Fellows. Their music style is kind of a Rolling Stones meets the Replacements, straight ahead melodic rock with a hint of blues and drunken playfulness. I liked them instantly and later bought their "comeback" album, Fuzzy Little Piece Of The World, after they took a 4 year hiatus between albums. When the Pontiac's broke up, Dotson formed another band, the Liquor Giants, but more on them in a later post.
It was hard to decide which album I should post, I have Doll Hut on vinyl and hadn't given it a spin in years, but after re-listening, it's really good! But, if I had to choose the album that best showcases the band's versatility and range, then Fiesta En La Biblioteca is their best album. I have Fiesta in cassette format, so as a treat the cassette version includes the bonus track, Movin' On, a Bad Company cover sung by Ward Dotson (The Pontiac Brother's lead vocalist was Matt Simon). Interesting enough, Dotson toured with the Fellows on their 1989 tour when he subbed for guitarist Kurt Bloch when he injured his wrist during a show. A live version of Movin' On, sung by Dotson appeared on the Fellows' cassette fan-club release, Gag Fah...very cool!
(If you would like Doll Hut posted as well, please leave a request in the comments or email me: email@example.com)
Half Man Half Biscuit (HMHB) is a UK band that has been around since the mid 8o's. Though they split-up in 1986, the band reformed in 1990 and have released an album every 2 years since. I figured since I've referenced this band at least on a couple of occasions, I should give you a taste of HMHB's satirical and sometimes surreal take on life. Their songs are filled with multi-layered pop culture references and a strange weird sense of humour. I instantly fell in love with this album, an expanded CD version of vinyl, Back Again In The D.H.S.S with many of HMHB's essential early tracks, additional singles and live versions. To be honest, I don't think I listened to any bands from outside of North America during the mid-80's, so obviously I must have felt something special (in my heart) with this band. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I first heard HMHB on a Canadian CBC radio program, Brave New Waves (or it might have been Nightlines?) where they did their nightly feature on the band and played 4 or 5 of their songs. I still have this on tape and I just listened to it again last week and it brought back great memories...Reasons To Be Miserable, I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan, Reflections In A Flat and my favourite, Dickie Davis Eyes. Enjoy!
Last year around this time, I finally attended my first Minnesota Twins game. I've been to the Twin Cities almost every year for the last 20 years to see bands, go to galleries, shop and to see hockey games. Actually, I have yet to see the Minnesota Wild, only the North Stars before they moved south. It seemed whenever we were in town, the Twins weren't, or it was off-season, so I figured last year was my last chance to visit the Metrodome (unless I go to a Vikes game) before they moved to Target Field. The game and whole major league baseball experience was terrific, as where I live we have a minor league ball team, many many steps below the big leagues. I now have to go to the new ball field and watch the game as it should be, outdoors...the dome sucked! Nothing beats a hot dog, beer and a baseball game in the great outdoors without a roof overhead, I experienced that earlier this year at Wrigley Field. In case your wondering why I'm babbling on and on about baseball instead of music, it's because these two passions can be enjoyed together with the latest song from the Baseball Project. Teaming up with Craig Finn, from The Hold Steady, the Baseball Project have released an anthem just in time for the Twins playoff run. Craig who is originally from the Twin Cities and is a big Twins fan wrote the lyrics, while Steve Wynn wrote the music. Drummer Linda Pitmon suggested they need a Twins song (she too is from Minneapolis, drumming in Zuzu's Petals) and here's what she had to say, "We couldn't be happier that he complied with some of the most anthemic sports lyrics ever written....name-checking no less than 8 Minnesota cities, 2 neighborhoods, 2 streets, 9 Twins players and 2 coaches in just over 4 minutes - Craig's specialty!"
Seems like a pretty cool coincidence I saw the Baseball Project play at the Turf Club in St. Pauls on the same trip I attended the Twins game last September and now the song, Don't Call Them Twinkies. A great tribute to a great team...Go Twins!!