The Moss Poles – Underground ep (1987, Idea)

My turntable is out of commission, sad to say, but the archives are pretty well stocked.  This Moss Poles ep is plucked from the fat of the land that is my hard drive (sadly I’m not in possession of an original copy).  These Londoners assembled at the University of (London) in 1987, which is hard to believe because in that same year they also recorded a full length, Shorn, and some additional material that found it’s way onto this EP.  Hard to believe any band is that productive to form from scratch and mint records all within a few months of each other, but I digress.

For an ’80s aggregation, Moss Poles didn’t really possess the slick, patented sound of their generation, not dissimilar to Stateside contemporaries The Smithereens.  The Poles exuded strong power pop bona fides, but also the taut muscularity of the Godfathers and the forward-thinking acuity of the Close Lobsters.  Merely three songs here, but I don’t anticipate any complaints. 

01. Underground
02. Were You Happy?
03. The Sweetest Girl

Articles Origin: The Moss Poles – Underground ep (1987, Idea)

A Bit of a History Lesson

OK, I’m going to show my age here, but for those of you who always seem to complain about finding the right gear (I read a lot of drum forums), I just say, “Shut up already!” Really. If you are in your 20s or 30s (even 40s), you probably have no idea about how good you have it today when it comes to the availability and quality of new instruments. 

Looking Back In Time

Back when I 1st started playing drums 50(!) years ago, your drum & percussion selection was limited. Unless you lived in NYC, LA, or Chicago (where the major TV, radio, and recording studios were), there was no such thing as a drum store with a big selection of gear to look at and buy. It was mostly mom & pop music stores, with maybe 5 drum sets, a few snare kits, a few cymbals, and some accessories (like wood blocks, tambourines,  & cow bells) in stock. If they did a lot of school business, they might also have a xylophone, timpani, and other related small percussion. That was it! 

And the selection was usually limited to 2 brands (Ludwig & Slingerland or Rogers, Zildjian cymbals), possibly 3 (add Gretsch or Premier, maybe Paiste cymbals if a Ludwig Dealer, K. Zildjian if a Gretsch Dealer), in each store. And with drums, there wasn’t all the selection of fancy woods (like bubinga, ash, etc), or different shell configurations. Most drum companies had 2 drum lines: professional & student. They both used the same shells, but the student drums had smaller sizes and less hardware, like single center lugs, to keep the costs down. Available drum sizes were limited also. Pro: 12/13/14/16/18 Toms, 18/20/22/24 BD. Student: 12/14 toms, 20 BD. And they all came in 1 standard depth, like 8X12. That was it!

1967 Ludwig Super Classic – Pro Kit (13/16/22/snare)

1967 Club Date – Student Kit (12/14/20/snare)

Move ahead to today 

Today you can buy just about anything imaginable! In drums, you can choose not only size, but types of wood, number of plies, type of bearing edge, and select from an amazing array of finishes. And some drum lines allow you to choose the type and finish of your hardware. 

It’s the same same with cymbals. It used to be crash/ride/hi-hat/Chinese. Now there are more sizes and types of cymbals than you can count. I actually counted Paiste’s offerings a while back, and they offer more than 500 cymbal types & sizes! Thats a lot of choice from just 1 company. Now add 10 or so other cymbal makers, and there are thousands of cymbals to choose from.

And again, it’s the same thing with heads. Back then, it was coated REMO or Ludwig heads in a thin (orchestra) or medium (band) weight. And calf skin was still an option. Today there are hundreds of head types and weights available.

We also have drum only stores, mega music stores, big box stores, and the internet. If you can’t find what you want at a local store (or don’t live close to a store), you can easily mail order from another store, or places like eBay and Reverb. And if you’re looking for some obscure part for your old 1967 Ludwig, you can probably find it on the web. Not too bad.

The Quality of Today’s Gear

Probably the most important thing today, next to the availability of everything, is the exceptional quality of everything out there. Even today’s student drums offer very high quality for the price paid. If you buy a Pearl Export, Yamaha Stage Custom, for something similar; you get a great sounding kit, with great hardware that will not only sound good, but will last. It’s the same with cymbals. There are some great sounding student cymbals being made today. I’m not afraid to gig with any student gear.

And there is also electronic percussion and ethnic percussion from all over the world. I remember back at university in the 70’s, how difficult it was to buy gongs, bells, and other ethnic percussion. I had no idea what a djembe was then. Now you can find them in gift stores. 20 years ago, who even knew what a cajon was? Now they’re everywhere!

So the next time you get bummed out about finding the perfect snare drum or ride cymbal, don’t. Take a minute to look around you, and realize that you are very fortunate to live in an age when so much excellent, and affordable gear, is readily available to you.

We live in a percussion paradise.

~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™

Articles Origin: A Bit of a History Lesson

White Sisters – singles & tape (1985-89)

I recently had a request for the White Sisters.  I shared a cassette by them about six years ago, and am presenting it here along with both sides of two singles.  I have more material by them to share in the not-to-distant future, but at the very least this is a start.  There’s precious little more elaboration I can offer on these Madison, WI popsters that I didn’t lay out in my original W/S post.  Though denizens of the industrial midwest, the Sisters might as well have been sharing flexdiscs with overseas counterparts like the June Brides and the Bodines.  This combo wielded a pronounced Anglophile tact, but they did so without sounding slavish to the originators they seemingly took their cues from.  And did I mention that virtually any song they left their fingerprints on turned to gold?  Enjoy.

Kind Words From… 7″ (1985, Boat)
A. Nothing Out There
B. Misery, Me and you

Big Girl 7″ (1989, Picturebook)
A. Big Girl
B. Love Like Lead

cassette (bonus to Kind Words 7″)
01. All is More
02. Lazy
03. Some Folk’s Fear
04. The Tastes That Rule

Articles Origin: White Sisters – singles & tape (1985-89)


Here’s the latest revised links.  I hope this compensates for me being so slack of late.

Simple Machines tapesGeek, Slack, Late!, Hated, Saturnine, Mommyheads & My New Boyfriend
GeekHerasure tape
Miracle Legion – Simple Thing tape MP3 or FLAC
Fields Laughing7″ ep
DownsidersAll My Friends Are Fish and S/T
V/A – Teen Line Vol. 3 and Vol. 4
14 Iced Bears – In the Beginning
Majesty CrushFan ep & Sans Muscles
Baby ToothRare Book Room ep and 7″
Babylon PinkLong Weekend ep
Fabulous Knobs –  s/t ep
The BravesThat’s the Hot Part & Los Bravos ep
Jimmy Eat World/Emerysplit 7″
O PositiveOnly Breathing/Cloud Factory
Half a ChickenFood for Thought
Junk MonkeysKick out the Jelly
Deep 6Garage D’or 
One Plus TwoOnce in a Blue Moon
YoOnce in a Blue Moon
A Picture MadePast ep 
Hardship PostHack ep
Dando, Lee, Petersson, Schwartzmansingle
The FiendzWact
Archers of Loaf/Monsterlandsplit 7″
Mega City Fourthree cd singles
Super 5 ThorFord
LaurelsNeck and Burn ep
Pete DonnellyAnother Day on You tape

Articles Origin: Re-ups.

Fluffy 7″ (1992, Fluffy Disc)

Dang, where has this record been my whole life, or at the very least the better half of it?  I was tipped off to Fluffy when an alum of another band I featured on here, Baby Tooth contacted me recently…and was kind enough to supply me with a copy of the record.  There’s all sorts of weird, flangy maneuvers infiltrating both sides of this pitch-shifty, distortion-y shoegaze single.  The six minute “Alien” takes a decidedly lo-fi road, and lives up to it’s title, a la early Swirlies.  “Baby Tooth” (the title soon became the band’s rechristened moniker) inserts some wry pop sensibilities into the mix, still approximating the offbeat allure of the Swirlies, and a dollop of Black Tambourine to boot.  Love it.

A. Alien
B. Baby Tooth

Articles Origin: Fluffy 7" (1992, Fluffy Disc)

Heat – Overnight (2017, Topshelf) – A brief overview.

2015 may not have been a banner year for music, but it was a definite improvement over the three or four that preceded it.  This was due in part to the increasing visibility of emerging, guitarsy indie-rawk combos like Cheatahs, Beach Slang, Viet Cong (now renamed Preoccupations), Nai Harvest…and Montreal up-and-comers Heat.  I talked up their Rooms ep two years ago, and remarked how that record didn’t quite do them justice stacked up to their live gigs, one of which I was fortunate to witness in ’15.  Even at the time of that show there was talk about a follow-up to Rooms, and the freshly minted Overnight is the successor in question.

My hopes for Overnight were in a word, lofty – if for no other reason than Heat’s juiced-up delivery on stage.  The quartet deliver on the songs, considerably in fact, it’s the conveyance of them that has me a tad hesitant about committing myself to the sleepover the record’s title suggests.  Susil Sharma’s timbre is a variance of that of the Psych Fur’s Richard Butler – one could do far worse, but my contention lies more with his monotonous and frequently droney drawl.  Sharma’s air of cool, as it were, wears quickly, and I wouldn’t advise holding your breath waiting for a dynamic to kick in.  This proclivity aside, Heat ultimately succeed with a competent and compelling album that virtually never falters.  Overnight doles out one bristling tune after, often reaffirming my faith in contemporary rock music.  “The Unknown,” “Sometimes,” and “Chains,” (the latter of these originally revealed in demo form a few years ago) move the needle for me.  Indeed, there’s some catchy shit here, but don’t limit yourself to the record, see these blokes in the flesh if at all possible.  As this goes to press they’re touring Canada, and playing SXSW next month.  Pick up Overnight on Amazon, Bandcamp and iTunes, or straight from the source at Topshelf Records.

Articles Origin: Heat – Overnight (2017, Topshelf) – A brief overview.