36 years ago Owen Maercks debut album was tragically his last. It was a privately pressed record that was exclusively distributed to record labels and radio stations with the hopes of getting Maercks signed. Despite the juicy bait Teenage Sex Therapist provided the listening “experts” – the line never tugged with a bite, and the record became something record nerds chased and little else, drifting anonymously to the bottom of the musical lake. Thankfully, Massachusetts based Feeding Tube Records has recently help make this killer record available to the masses in a limited pressing of 500 (which appears to already be sold out) as well as digitally.
Listening to Teenage Sex Therapist today it’s hard to understand what people were(n’t) hearing in 1978, because it’s a dense, strange, and fantastic record – who’s strengths are likely the exact reason it wasn’t picked up – which is a shame, because if given the opportunity, Maercks could have explored and expanded what we now call “post-rock” into places that likely still haven’t been traipsed upon, secret fishing spots never to be found – where the big one awaits….but all we’re left with today are big fish stories, and this fantastic record, which is honestly enough.
Recommended If You Like: Television, Velvet Undergroud, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads
Released last year as part of Volar Records Strange Mutations Vol. 2 7″ boxed set – Fine Steps provide a trio of stand out tracks that’ll sway you into a place of good. Bright guitars coupled with mopey-dream vocals and a bouncy back-beat make Fine Steps sound as if Joy Division moved to L.A. and formed a Smiths inspired Surf Band.
Yeah, it’s pretty fucking good.
- Buy Strange Mutations Vol. 2
- Hear me spin this record Wednesday 9/15 at Abigail’s Restaurant in Kendall Square
Recommended If You Like: Joy Division Smiths Surf Cover Bands
While vacationing on Lake Ossipee, NH my Wife and I took a day trip to Portland to explore Maine’s largest city. It’s by no means a “big” city – but it resolves this with a strong dose of personality & charm – which is most evident while visiting the record shops.
My first stop was Bull Moose – which unfortunately has more CD’s & DVD’s than vinyl, with the majority of records being new releases. That’s no problem if you live in Portland – but if you’re a n0n-Mainer it’s a bummer as there’s nothing unique to the selection. While I stayed away from most everything – I found some insanely affordable records in their bargin bin which made the shop worth peeping, but I’d make it later in your crawl.
Next was Moody Lords – which ended up being my favorite shop in Portland. I was greeted at the door by a quizzical babe in diapers, and once I got past the buddha I was exposed to a shop layered with tasteful vintage garb and a well manicured landscape of vinyl. Cultivation was as equally easy as it was dangerous due to the quality of fruit to pick from – and the laid back vibe, friendly service, and sloppy garage bouncing off the walls made me fall a little in love with everything. A must stop if on the hunt in Portland.
Just a few doors down I visited Strange Maine which was my most anticipated shop to visit – but in general, I was disappointed. This could be because my taste isn’t particularly metal/hard rock aligned, but I found the majority of records to be in shoddy condition and displayed in a cramped and forced way. I’ve been to a lot of dusty record stores – not my cup of tea, but could see why a collector of a certain disposition would dig this place.
Last up was Electric Buddhas which was hands down the most joy riddled shop in Portland. It’s a garden salad mix of retro video games, rare vinyl, and audiophile quality stereo equipment. While Moody Lords was manned by vixen like sirens who bleed cool and breathed hip – the Buddhas tag team of lovable (and I think admitted) dorks gave everything in the shop extra credibility, love, and care. I picked up a copy of The Freak Scene’s Psychedelic Psoul which I never thought I’d see in person – and that was one of many adjacently priced gems they had stuffed between N64 games and unopened packs of Saved by the Bell cards. Like I said, joy, as was the rest of Portland, a worthy stop for the record obsessed fiend lost in Northern New England.
Last Wednesday I had the fortune to spin vinyl at State Park Bar in Cambridge. State Park is the Sister restaurant to the highly revered and loved Hungry Mother – and is quickly becoming one of many reasons you should spend more time in Kendall Square.
Located on the same block as West Bridge, Friendly Toast, & Cambridge Brewing Company – State Park offers a sophisticated & laid back vibe that’s disguised as a dive bar. This said, the food, cocktails, and staff exhume the opposite of dive – and pump out A+ Southern inspired dishes, drinks, & charm that leave mouths happy and hearts content.
The scene offered the perfect compliment to the music featured on Visions of the Unexcused, making for a fit that was seamless, ideal, & preferred. I spun a set that included favorites from Garage, Indie, African, Funk, and Hip Hop – many that can be heard on previous podcasts – and as the tunes echoed throughout the bar – smiling ears and eyes couldn’t deny the symmetry between music and location.
As a cherry on top we had a New England staple, which also doubles as a favorite, Narragansett Beer, be a generous sponsor, providing the Unexcused Faithful (that’s you!) with some drinks sans charge in support of our Visions. This is hopefully the first of many nights we get lost together- and I hope we find each other with the music next time around.
Mozes and the Firstborn play a brand of Garage that’s equal parts California, Pop, and Stoner. While their sound carries a West Coast vibe the band hails from the Netherlands – and their excellent self titled debut was recently released in the States by Burger Records.
“I Got Skills” is the stand-out single with an undeniable sing-song hook that just seems destined to play in a future Volkswagen ad or something – however, it’s tracks like “What’s Wrong Momma” and “Skinny Girl” that give Mozes real depth and hopefully show these Dutch cats may stick around for a bit. Mozes will be playing at the Brighton Music Hall with other label mates from Burger (Cherry Glazer, Pangea, & more) on 10/29.
Recommended If You Like: Jeff the Brotherhood, Wavves, Harlem
Shintaro Sakamoto, best known for his time fronting the Japanese psychedelic band Yura Yura Teikoku, has ventured out on his own for what’s become an equally exciting journey. Let’s Dance Raw, which is set to be released via Other Music Recording Co. (distributed by Fat Possum) on September 19th takes a further step into the lush soundscapes Sakamoto’s been exploring since going solo. He combines 70’s AM radio mixed with Japanese Pop and Tropicalia rhythms making for a verdant musical landscape.
Recommended If You Like: Ariel Pink, Donnie & Joe Emerson, John Maus
The Blackjacks should have been to Boston what The Replacements were to Minneapolis – a revered, influential, flawed, and cornerstone band. Instead they went off the rails too soon leaving two killer records as their epitaph wrapped in a whole bunch of what-if’s. Playing snarled rock in near drag was not normal in mid-80’s Boston, and despite some moderate local success, the band never got past their own demons or insecurities. Both Basic Blackjacks and Dress In Black are absolutely essential albums – and as far as Boston rock goes, should be mentioned in the same breath as The Real Kids and Modern Lovers, but they’re not because they let substance derail their junk train – total bummer.
Reading Boston Rock Archives biography on the Blackjacks is another must – where quotes like the below bring into focus why their music was so potent, raw, and short lived.
After the gig, Angel was out-of-control enraged, and his bandmates dosed his beer with Valium to try and sedate him, not knowing he’d already downed a handful of the benzo’s. Out for three days.
Recommended If You Like: The Replacements, Mid-70’s Stones, MC5
The first time I heard Tony Molina play guitar it was something of a revelation. His song’s are written, played, and structured like a curt and finely crafted Hemingway sentence. There’s all power, zero bullshit, and certainly no filler. He leaves you wanting more while also being thoroughly satisfied with what you’ve had. This type of editing will power and control is a rare feat to pull off, and his ability to fit so much into so little is a testament to both his Hardcore roots as well as his pop orientated ear.
Molina’s 2013 LP Dissed And Dismissed clocks in at just under 15 minutes and it’s one of my favorite albums of the past few years. OVENS was recorded by Kurt Bloch from The Fastbacks back in 2005 and is the second recording they ever did as a band, and like his other work – it totally slays.
Recommended If You Like: Metal face Weezer, Short Attention Span Thin Lizzy