Ghosts of Record Store Days past – Sloan & Metz/Mission of Burma

Another Record Store Day has just crept into the annals of retail history.  This year marked the tenth anniversary, and although attendance was full bore per-usual (not to mention the frustratingly scarce limited runs of day-specific releases) something seemed a tad anticlimactic about this one.  At any rate, I thought I’d revisit a couple of relatively recent bygone titles from 2015 and ’16 respectively.

Technically it’s not titled as such, but he four-song ep known as Alternates, was Sloan’s contribution to the RSD fray two years back, featuring (yep, you guessed it) four alternate takes of songs that made the cut for their 2014 platter, Commonwealth.  Side A takes the cake for me, with a more fleshed out ensemble take of the Jay Ferguson penned “Neither Here Nor There,” and an a slower, revealing arrangement of Chris Murphy’s “Get Out.”  Sloan’s latest volley of albums haven’t necessarily been their most rewarding meaning this companion piece to the aforementioned Commonwealth falls shy of essential for casual fans, and arguably not entirely crucial for diehards.  You be the judge.

The concept for the pairing of relative post-punk newbies Metz, and intermittently active vets Mission of Burma has an elementary theme – have each cover a song by the other.  Ironically, Metz don’t take to task one of Burma’s lauded signature songs (e.g. “Academy Fight Song) instead settling on an album cut from 2006’s Obliterati, the group’s second aughts era reunion album.  I’m not as acquainted with Metz oeuvre, as it were, but Mission of Burma’s coarse take of “Get Off” leaves me with the impression that both combos are a match made in dissonance heaven.

Sloan Alternates ep (2015, Yep Rock)
01. Neither Here Nor There
02. Get Out
03. 13 (Under A Bad Sign)
04. The Lesson (One Portrait) 

http://www47.zippyshare.com/v/v2cvLMlR/file.html 

Metz/Mission of Burma 7″ (2016, Sub Pop)
Metz – Good, Not Great
Mission of Burma – Get Off

http://www47.zippyshare.com/v/Yv3KbCEb/file.html

Articles Origin: Ghosts of Record Store Days past – Sloan & Metz/Mission of Burma

Christmas – In Excelsior Dayglo (1986, IVR)

Couple weeks ago I got a pretty hep request for Christmas’ (the band) idiosyncratic debut In Excelsior Dayglo…and here it is.  While I’m considerably partial to their much more developed sophomore disk, Ultraprophets…, (circa 1989) IED revels in it’s own indigenous vibe – sometimes dissonant, occasionally challenging and always unscrupulously skewed.  This Beantown co-ed trio, splits up vocal duties between string wrangler Michael Cudahy and drummer Liz Cox, the latter bearing no small resemblance to the B-52’s Kate Pierson.  Writ large, there isn’t a pervasive pop angle to the record, and from a sonic standpoint Christmas remind me heavily of indie contemps Agitpop and Volcano Suns.  To a lesser extent, the Pixies too, but that’s a loose comparison at best.  As mentioned, their next record proved to be more substantive, but there’s no disputing that much like the holiday they nabbed their namesake from Christmas were indeed a singular and revealing entity.

01. Big Plans
02. Loved Ones
03. Boy’s Town Work Song
04. True Solider of Love
05. Tommy the Truck
06. Girl Police
07. Dig We Must
08. Pee Wee
09. Everything You Know Is Wrong
10. Pumpkinhead
11. A Pig Amongst Men
12. The Hottest Sun
13. Fish Eye Sandwich
14. Junk

http://www66.zippyshare.com/v/8CvL7ZFz/file.html

Articles Origin: Christmas – In Excelsior Dayglo (1986, IVR)

Glass Eye – Christine ep (1988, Bar None)

Nine years ago I wasn’t expecting such a fevered reaction to two records I shared by an old school Austin, TX outfit, Glass Eye.  Those releases, the Marlo ep from 1985, and 1986 full length follow-up, Huge saw gazillions of downloads and at least two or three rounds of refreshed links.  Amazingly, the band’s official website is still intact, and evidently interest in Glass Eye is still palpable.  I didn’t realize it at the time I procured it a couple years ago, but the 1988 Christine ep was an appetizer of sorts for the quartet’s second LP, Bent By Nature.   The dynamic title piece is intermittently disciplined and wiry and one of the single most effective songs in their catalog.  A traipse through Paul Simon’s “Cecila” absorbs a full two minutes it’s precious 150 seconds building up to it’s frenzied crescendo, albeit still gratifying.  Christine winds things out with the sardonic country rendering, “The Ballad of Abraham Lincoln,” a song bearing, shall I say, schizophrenic tendencies.

01. Christine
02. Cecila
03. Perder La Guerra
04. Comeback
05. The Ballad of Abraham Lincoln

http://www97.zippyshare.com/v/YnwJrGba/file.html

Articles Origin: Glass Eye – Christine ep (1988, Bar None)

The Importance Of Connecting With Non-Drummers

As drummers, we can often be an insular bunch. We tend to hang out with other drummers, sharing stories, sharing licks, sharing ideas. While this is good to a point, we often end up sharing the same stories, licks, and ideas over and over. 

Drummers are a tight group. We speak the same language, we share an unspoken brotherhood. Attend a typical drum clinic, and you will find a room full of fanatics, ready to applaud at every beat played. Attend 10 or more drum clinics, and you will also tend to hear the same questions asked over and over:

What type of head do you use on your snare?  

Can you explain the beat you played on X? 

How can I play faster double bass/snare rudiments/jazz ride?  

What’s it like to work with X?

etc, etc, etc.


And that can be a problem. If our world consists of only drums & drummers, we’re not exposed to other opinions, ideas, or thoughts that reside outside of the drumming box.



Workshop at Cal Arts

A recent example for me was as a visiting artist to Cal Arts, in Valencia, CA, where I presented a workshop last week. My workshop was about Gongs & percussion and improvising. But it became so much more. Out of all the students who attended it, only 2 or 3 were drummers. The rest played other instruments and were also composition students. 

I was not preaching to the choir!


After having done numerous workshops to almost exclusively percussionists, or Gong players, I was faced with a whole new set of questions from these students. They didn’t care about the usual drummer stuff. They wanted to know how to notate the different sounds I made, how my instruments differed from each other, or how the playing techniques changed the sounds. They made me look at my own work differently.

It was refreshing. It’s also inspired me to look at what I do through different eyes (and ears). I think it’s important for all drummers/percussionists to get past all the usual drummer stuff. In your career, don’t forget to interact with non-drummers, and to find out how they see your work. 

It’s important to stay open and look for ideas and inspiration from all sources.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Carry Water / Play Gongs™







Articles Origin: The Importance Of Connecting With Non-Drummers

Thumbs – No Price on Earth (1982, Ramona)

When the Thumbs were active in the late ’70s/’80s there was a myriad of directions they could have ventured into – ska, new romantic, rockabilly, hardcore, AOR, etc…  The long and short of it all is that they wound up as an honest to goodness rock and roll band, sans any pretensions or gimmicks.  Granted, that m.o. is much more scarce these days, said option wasn’t much more tempting in the Thumbs era.  About four years ago, I shared their previous, self-titled 1979 effort.  At that point I found these Kansas blokes to be a tad common, and by a matter of degrees they still were three years later, but with age comes progress, and if you’re lucky, inspiration.  The Thumbs were indeed blessed with a spoonful of luck or two to tighten up their power pop cum bar band pastiche on No Price on Earth, hinting that they just might have listened to a Jonathan Richman or Velvets album or two. Kansas City to Lawrence Vinyl blog has provided some useful insight into this record as well, but isn’t sharing the music contained within.  That’s where we come in.

01. The Coast is Clear
02. Who Wants This Sadness
03. Jennie Says
04. Like You
05. I’m Jesus
06. Out of His Mind
07. It Won’t Satisfy
08. No Twist
09. (I Almost Feel) Like Facin’ the World
10. Anyday
11. Things You Gotta Know
12. The Payload
13. Last Word

http://www113.zippyshare.com/v/007QxVOn/file.html

Articles Origin: Thumbs – No Price on Earth (1982, Ramona)