So I have a lot of music.
Part of my MO is tracking down little known gems anywhere that I can find them. Over the years I’ve acquired some of my most favorite records in out of the way or distant places and I figured I’d share some of them here, partly to let others know about things they might like and may not know are out there and partly to give props to those artists, some of whom may not get very much recognition. So without further adieu, here’s a few from the vault:
Steerage* was an Irish band whose E.P. Smash Them All To Bits I found in Road Records, my favorite Record Store in Dublin, which sadly closed its doors last year. The band consists of two guitar players, bass and drums. Steerage played sweet, often ethereal instrumentals that remind me a lot of the kind of dark, womb-like tones of Boards of Canada and frequent BOC contributor Bibio. I bought the album on a whim back in 2005. The next morning I woke up earlier than my wife and left the hotel for a walk. I strolled around Dublin with Steerage’s bittersweet arrangements playing over and over again in my headphones, eventually came back to the hotel and had a wonderfully insightful capstone to my morning of isolation by sitting and having breakfast while writing in a journal, the entire time Steerage continuing to work its way into my brain and emotions. It was one of those bleak, introspective mornings where your thoughts traipse Neil Gaiman territory under an overcast sky, light rain and dim lighting; a morning that feels like an evening – like something is ending.
The Happy Flowers. Wow, what can be said about The Happy Flowers, other than they are loud, ugly and disturbing. The first time I heard the above track was in high school; I was blazing on LSD and some joker put this thing on and I… left the room. Shortly thereafter, years before the advent of MP3’s as a consumer commodity or internet file sharing networks, the band took on a kind of enigmatic, ghostly hue in my mind – remembering the experience I had had I tried to track down the album but it took me years. Now I have it and I break it out every once in a while, usually when I’m in the mood for something really caustic (which, admittedly, is probably more often than you’d think). I don’t know what’s up with the link; the song is only 3 or 4 minutes long and this youtube presentation is a meandering 8+. When the song is finished just leave – there’s nothing ‘hidden’ or anything. Only link I could find (not surprising).
Bondo. My old band The Schlitz Family Robinson used to play with these guys around Chi town in the late 90’s. GREAT, fun band. At one show I believe I ended up in a chicken dance competition for a prize that ended up being a short sleeve, button up shirt with the Schlitz beer logo all over it. Bondo had a lot of great songs (every single one on their Classic album Fistful of Biscuits) and this has always been my favorite. Bondo, wherever you guys are, I’m still in love with you.
Daemien Frost – the first night the first time I ever went to Dublin my good friend Joe picked a show at a GREAT venue called Whelan’s – New Prayer Breakfast was the band we went to see. They were good. Daemien Frost was better.
Opening the show, these guys came out and played the best freakin’ instrumental set I’ve still ever seen. I spent a large part of the following day looking for their CD and finally found it at, again, the aforementioned Road Records (see? Also awesome). Frost’s set was intense and hallucinogenic – everyone on stage seemed to be simultaneously playing different songs yet it still all went together in a Sonic Youth/Assembly Line People Program/U.S. Maple kind of way. I tried to keep up with the band, sent a couple of emails to one of the guys and even the proprietor of Road Records, but never really was able to pin them down on subsequent visits. I believe they have faded into the ether, but man, they killed while they were here (please correct me if I’m wrong).
* Apparently NOTHING by Steerage on Youtube. If you’re interested, PM me, I’ll see what I can do.