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The Rondelles – Shined Nickels and Loose Change

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

K Records, 2001

So one day I saw all this money on the ground of a music store and got excited.  I started snatching at the nickels and dimes and got frustrated when they didn’t materialize between my fingers.  Twenty minutes later I smacked my head and realized that, duuuh, the coins are on the album cover of some band!  I mean, p’shaw!  So given that the change nearly adds up to a dollar it was destiny to turn my frustration into jubilation.  Well, at least I hoped so.

It turns out that this young (and I mean high school young) quartet from New Mexico put out a few records before releasing this collection of rarities and non-album tracks.  I suppose fans of the band at the time were thrilled that this was created, for if much of the group’s material exists on hard to find (or lukewarm to purchase) 7 inch records and compilations, then it’s nice to have everything in one place.  Still, is it worth picking up if one hasn’t heard of ’em at all?

What I really dig about the Rondelles is their raw and youthful energy.  There isn’t much in regard to production or cleverness on this release, and I imagine it’s the same across all of their records.  The band really just sounds like a group who likes to get together and bash away.  “Safety In Numbers” and its slightly more than two minute length is a fantastic representation of what the band tends to deliver.  There’s Juliet Swango’s (who sorta looks like a young Winona Ryder, by the way) rather deep vocals amidst Oakley Manson’s rapid drumming that keeps up a punk air, though during the breaks the band shouts out as if they were cheerleaders.  The Rondelles keep up the energy with a combination of chugging guitar and a particularly active mini organ on “Shimmybecker”, which makes one wonder about the place of a mini organ in rock ‘n roll.  I suppose the same could be asked of the Boss’ saxophone or Jethro Tull’s flute, so apparently anything goes as long as the volume is loud at some point, eh?

An artist that I don’t hear covered too often is Madonna … I mean how are you supposed to cover “Justify My Love” anyway?  The Rondelles, however, felt the need to have a go with Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” in a sped up way, which actually sounds pretty good if you want to hear the song without the drama.  By the way, do you remember when “Like A Prayer” was a controversial song due to the video?  As far as I know, no member of the Rondelles made out with the Jesus statue on a pew when recording this song, so clearly they’re just trying to stick to the music here.  Another cover, “Cafeteria Rock” by the Shimmy Beckers, is a thrill with its refrain of simply “Food fight!”.  Unlike “Like a Prayer”, this cover seems a little more relative to their high school lives and sounds such given the spirited way it is sung.  Then there’s “Angels We’ve Heard On High” that finally adds a pop rock element to a Christmas classic.  I was tired of hearing those choirs anyway.

To get a few listens in, the Rondelles are still spinning for free on MySpace and have a spot at Last.fm as well.

As my first Rondelles record, this is an excellent introduction to the band.  B-sides records don’t usually work that way but I feel that every song on “Shined Nickels and Loose Change” represent a consistent pop rock punch without dabbling too deeply in production.  The covers aren’t trying to be anything fancy, the music always ends up with tons of power chords and drum presence, and Swango keeps it low key throughout with that voice of hers.  For only a dollar this turned out to be well spent money on fourteen tracks.  Unfortunately this did turn out to be the Rondelles’ last release before they, I dunno, went off to college or something.  It’s a pity, though I imagine when the group looks back at their high school yearbook they might look at those times differently than some of us hip Math Team members.

I actually did go out and get a hold of their first album after hearing this one and, well, I wasn’t all that impressed.  I found that the songs on that record weren’t catchy enough or nearly as interesting.  Perhaps this B-sides collection gets the band at their most creative period, where they only had to concentrate on one or two songs at a time given the medium the songs were pressed on.  When asked to get ten or so tracks on tape, maybe the group felt a little stretched.  Or maybe I just had to spin the record a few more times, I dunno.  I suppose one album that works is fine for me.  As for the rest of you, based on my experience, see if you can pick this record up one way or another.  It’s a great one for the rock ‘n roll enthusiasts.

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Moving Units – Dangerous Dreams

February 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Palm Pictures, 2004

No, I do not love the eighties art.  Well, that’s what it looks like to me.  If I had to title it I would call the piece “Smurfette Gives the Erotic Demon a Slap”.  Obviously, it may not be the album art that truly makes one want to know what band is behind it, but the name of the band reminded me that I had wanted to check out Moving Units at some point.  You know how it is; you may not know why certain band names stick in your mind, but you still feel obligated to at least say you tried to give them a shot.  Plus, I would hate to find myself in that awkward situation eight years later when an old friend says “Hey, did you ever check out Moving Units like I emphatically recommended eight years ago?”  Yeah, definitely don’t want to break out the umm-ahh-errrs.  I’m preparing myself for all situations, you see.

Before I get into the value of “Emancipation”, the first song off the album, I have to admit that at certain points throughout the record vocalist Johan Boegli gets on the nerves.  When he’s simply singing at his even tone, then his voice can concurrently convey cool (alliteration points!) attitude and mysteriousness.  However, when he enters the upper registers it sounds like he is either getting kicked in the balls or is whining that his toy was taken away.  I know he wishes to emit spontaneous energy once in awhile, but it’s too much of too much.  As great as a band may sound, if the vocalist is deemed taxing by a listener then it doesn’t even matter if the band exists.

Thankfully, Boegli doesn’t get carried away too often and tends to deliver songs in a more subdued yet pained way. “Between Us and Them” proves to be one of the better tracks on the record due to its powerfully catchy bass hook and, of course, the upbeat danceworthy tempo.  I also like the moodiness of the keyboards in “Anyone”, which provides a beat that people can shuffle emotionally to.  Yeah, I suppose the track won’t trigger an indie party to start hopping, but it definitely stands out amongst all the maxed out burst occurring around it.  Even the last track, which usually has a low chance of succeeding of being anything worthwhile, is actually pretty good.  “Turn Away” mainly features a simple guitar riff and Boegli’s slowly building presence.  After a whole lot of drum thumpin’ and head noddin’, the final song is a very good (and much needed) reprieve.

Unfortunately, not all of the songs are nearly as catchy as “Between Us and Them” nor as thoughtful as “Turn Away”.  “Going For Adds” is a radio-themed tune that, well, may have played itself off the radio with its jilting guitar and the ultra repetitive “everybody’s on the radio” line.  “Birds of Prey” sounds excellent 80% of the way through, but then Boegli sounds like he’s getting his teeth pulled during the final hurrah by screeching out a few painful “aaaaaaaaah!”s.  Too bad about that one.  Most of the other tracks have their moments, but a lot of it sounds the same.  Quick cymbals, rapid guitar/bass, wailing from Boegli … on repeat.

Have a listen to Moving Units at their website or MySpace page.  My favorite track on the record, “Between Us and Them”, has its own fan-made video on Youtube for a more visual experience!  Check out those sideburns…

Unfortunately, though Moving Units and Bloc Party used similar methods to drive up the rush, I feel that Moving Units falls short of making a true impact on this effort.  As mentioned before, I think it’s mainly due to not having too many standout tracks and instead finding a common ground amongst all of the tracks.  As in, everything’s so-so and digestible but not great enough to make everyone demand more.  I still think it’s a pretty solid album that has some good songs, but I can understand why people weren’t talking about Moving Units a whole lot back in 2004.  These guys were victims of a trend that other bands were doing better.

Moving Units is still around making music as evidenced by their latest EP “Tension War”.  They still have a little of that dance rock element, but the music and vocals sound so much better.  In fact, “Until She Says” is a great tune that features a toned down Boegli along with what sounds like electronic piano.  Even though Moving Units may not have had the best record out in 2004, I think they’re certainly worth a look nowadays.

Annuals – Such Fun

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Red Ink Records, 2008

I’m going to be honest here.  I recently took another look at this album cover and immediately thought it’d be a nice aside to remind readers that Bob Ross used to be the man when it came to painting pretty little trees.  If you don’t know who Bob Ross is, he’s the fuzzy-haired artist who used to paint amazing landscapes on a thirty or sixty (I forget) minute show on PBS.  His voice was quite relaxing as were his paintings.  Well anyway, I decide to search for information on him and LO AND BEHOLD!  This is a Bob Ross painting!  See, I may not be able to tell a Rembrandt from a Monet (yes, I’m embarrassed) but I know my Bob Ross.  The pretty little trees gave it away.  Granted, when I picked this album up I didn’t know Ross had anything to do with it, but I do like mountains and landscapes so it was an easy buy for me.

Annuals are a group from North Carolina who have actually been subject to some positive press back when this record came out.  Did I mention that I was cutting edge when it comes to buzz bands?  Okay, okay, three years late cutting edge, but listen, I’m all about post-buzz anyway.  Instead of buying into all that hype and expectation, I prefer to take the bar and drop it all the way down below the ‘perceived quality’ level.  There’s only one place left to go in my bottom-dwelling, post-buzz location of critique, right?

Early on in the record one thinks that Annuals is trying to utterly represent the Ross painting by playing serene pop music.  “Confessor” has a gentle guitar concoction over the verses while strings permeate the background.  Adam Baker’s vocals vary between warm understanding and high-pitched emotion.  It’s a song that the Gin Blossoms could have written if they were starting out in 2008.  “Springtime” slows the minimal momentum with some solo piano, only to build (of course!  Why didn’t I see it coming?) to a height with Baker doing his high-pitched emotional singing again.  Then there’s the “dah dah dahs” during the bridge.  Yeah, this is indie pop all the way.

Oddly enough, Annuals were starting to get a little sick of their own sound as I was by the time “Down the Mountain” arrives.  It’s very quick, a little unpredictable, and certainly louder.  There’s also some silly violin doodling during the breaks.  Er, what happened to Annuals?  At least the song breaks up the usual pop, which only returns in “Always Do”.  That song will make any sensitive child or adult want to hug themselves.  Yeesh.

The rest of the record keeps surprising the listener, for Annuals are clearly not interested in maintaining any sort of impression one got from early on in the record.  “Talking” speeds things up all over again, making it a very energizing pop rocker that sounds excellent during the chorus with explosive horns and guitar work.  Then, like a rug, your ears fall over themselves as “Hardwood Floor” utterly mellows out to cheeseball soft rock like some of those sketchy Death Cab For Cutie numbers.  This sound tends to win out for the rest of the album, as “The Tape” and “Blue Ridge” are equally as saccharine.

Thankfully, Annuals end on a good, stirring note with “Wake”.  The song showcases all of the elements that one has heard throughout the record without dwelling on one particular sound.  There’s the emotional vocals, the sweeping strings, the hard-edged guitar, and the general sense that one has just listened to a pop record.  It is a fine conclusion at nearly five minutes in length, giving the listener a real positive send off into silence and contemplation about what the heck Annuals are trying to do.

Go to Annuals’ MySpace page to hear some newer stuff of theirs, or try to dig up some of their older music at Last.fm.

I like Annuals, but I also don’t like Annuals.  I appreciate the band in that they are not hung up on sticking to a formula for too long, which made “Such Fun” an intriguing record to listen to.  One can dislike one song but might find something more interesting to listen to on the next one, keeping the Annuals out of a ‘hate one, hate all’ predicament that many bands usually have to deal with.  What I don’t like about Annuals is that some of their pop tunes are just much too overindulgent in heartstring-tugging.  I took a small jab at Death Cab for Cutie earlier, but from what I’ve heard of them they at least don’t try to pour on the sentiment in such large doses as Annuals tend to do.  Unless they’re going for the sensitivity vote from fans, I feel Annuals should try to reduce a little of the shmaltz and pick up a few more catchy hooks.

Then again, some people like that shmaltzy stuff, so that aspect of Annuals combined with their periodic rock outs may be one’s sort of thing.  The group continues to put out records and tour, so if you’re one to seek out a band that mixes up their tempos like they do one’s emotions, then go see what they’re up to.

The Blake Babies – Innocence and Experience

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Mammoth Records, 1993

First off, I have to admit I have a small thing for Juliana Hatfield.  It probably started when I declared the Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray” as one of my favorite albums.  I follow what Evan Dando does as well, but Hatfield’s light vocals on that release as well as her early Blake Babies stuff has always interested me.  Then there’s those curious eyes of hers.  She always looks a little angry or disappointed in most of her pictures, but that’s probably because one never finds her smiling much (take a look for yourself on Google images).  Finally, the fact that she’s from Boston and used to work at Newbury Comics completes the reasons as to why I’m always keeping an eye out for all things Hatfield.  I did know that this record by the Blake Babies was likely an old light pop affair off of the defunct Mammoth Records, so I figured it was going to be a safe bet for a solid listen at a discount.

The Blakes Babies are a trio that, when heard, instantly bring back those memories of the  early days in the nineties where the easygoing pop music was neither in your face nor particularly memorable.  Since this record is actually a collection of b-sides, demos, and live tracks most of the songs actually take place in the late eighties given when the band started.  For most of the record, songs revolve around the general approach of the “Rain” demo song.  There’s the jangly, light guitar that carries the comforting pop rock feeling throughout the song while Hatfield’s vulnerable vocals sing about an unfortunate relationship story.  Though songs like “Lament” (with Evan Dando on bass) and “Star” pick up the pace a little bit, every song is consistent in its sound and construction for the most part.  If you like your Blake Babies you’ll enjoy most of the songs on here.  However, if you’re new to the band you might get a little bored if you are used to more variety.

Even though most of the songs seem to blend in together for me, I will say that “Out There” stands out.  Perhaps it is because Hatfield’s vocals not only rise above the usual quiet level but they also sound double-tracked.  It also helps that the band picks up their level of volume during the chorus so as to wake you up after the slew of couch sinkers.  Another tune that may not be for everyone, but will win over those who like the original anyway, is the group’s upbeat cover of the Grass Roots’ “Temptation Eyes”.  Nice choice!  I also think that any band that does a Neil Young cover, like the Blake Babies do with a live version of “Over and Over”, is only trying to win me over.

Lots of listening choices for the Blake Babies.  You could head on over to their MySpace or Last.fm pages, or instead veer directly towards Juliana Hatfield’s website.

I feel that although this disc didn’t really put it together in terms of making a strong impression, one has to keep in mind that it is a b-sides and rarities collection.  This one is for the fans who already like the Blake Babies.  I wouldn’t start here if one was thinking of delving into the group’s music, but it’s still a decent record to start from if one wants to experience their sound.  “Sunburn” or “Earwig” are probably better examples of albums of what the group can do.

The Blake Babies took a lengthy hiatus after the release of this collection and only released one more record (“God Bless the Blake Babies”) in 2001 before ending things officially.  Juliana Hatfield, of course, has been releasing and self-releasing her own albums for quite awhile now.  I imagine she probably sounds a lot different now than she did nearly twenty years ago, but the pleasant vocals are probably still there.  If what you read about and hear from the Blake Babies interests you, then go pick up something new from Hatfield when you get a chance.  And uh, if you see anything by the Blake Babies or Hatfield for a few dollars or less at a local music store, ah … well, you know who to send a note to.  😀

The Magic Numbers – Those the Brokes

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

EMI Records, 2006

Ah finally, I can play a game with my readers.  Quick!  Pick out who in the album art is not a woman.  Hurry, you’re running out of … oh, yeah, the ones with beards.  Well, they all have nice sets of hair, eh?  They also look very relaxed and rather content staring out of the window at us.  The really hairy guy is even waving at us.  Unless this is some kind of black metal ruse pitched at luring us in for the epic assault, these guys are probably cute and cuddly with their music.  Well, wouldn’t you know!

This British quartet know how to spin a very fine pop song.  I don’t know how anyone who is into pop music couldn’t excessively salivate during the opener of “This Is a Song”.  Granted, it’s five minutes which doesn’t typify a pop length, but it has all those elements that can sweep one up (if one allows one to get swept up).  From the light vocals of Romeo Stodart to the pretty backup vocals of Angela Gannon and sister Michele Stodart to the appealing changes across the choruses and verses, “This Is a Song” sets this album up to be a great one.

“Take a Chance” is another excellent song that has an intro that reminds me of M83 (circa “Before the Dawn Heals Us”) as well as the Strokes (circa always).  The quick, cheerful tempo combined with Romeo Stodart’s honeyed vocals easily make it an instant hit.  The group slow grooves it with “Boy”, which I guess was inevitable because if they had kept going as they were going I was going to explode with self-hugging gushiness.  Whew, dodged that.  The song might come across as too delicate, especially near the end when the ladies are singing forlornly, but one could give them a pass after the earlier greatness.  It takes a few songs to get to “Keep It In the Pocket”, which is another sureshot pop beauty.  I confess, it has a lot to do with the “ooh ooh ooh ooh”s that the group excellently employ between verses.  Honestly, how easy and yet how wonderful do a few oohs sometimes sound?  The Magic Numbers know how to do it without sounding too forced.

I have to say, after hearing the first half of the album I was searching around the Internet wondering where these guys ranked in the top 50 albums of 2007.  I mean, wow, this is some seriously awesome pop music!  I’m really liking it and what the heck?  Not even in the top 50 of 2007?  Are you KIDDING me?!  I mean, how could this fantastic record get utterly ignored in 2007 unless something murdered the successful build up of the first seven tracks?  There’s no way that the last four could’ve done something so terrible as to … oh, but they do.

As it was hinted on “Boy”, the Magic Numbers do have a penchant to get a bit slow.  Well, the last four tracks are all slow and make the final stretch a little dull.  Why’d they kill the momentum?  “Take Me Or Leave Me” is forgivable in that it could just pose as the serious, heartfelt quiet song that employs strings and wilting vocals by one of the ladies.  Too bad it takes nearly five minutes, which probably makes it feel a lot longer than it really is.  Unfortunately, it sets up the derailment in interest until the end of the record.

“Let Somebody In” is another slow plodder that is quaint but man, not after “Take Me Or Leave Me”.  Too much is too much.  “Runnin’ Out” tries to save things with its overabundance of momentum, but it just doesn’t have the same hook as “Take a Chance” or “Keep It In the Pocket”.  No matter, for whatever rekindling of pop fervor it could have alighted “Goodnight” ends up much too sappy as a finish.  And hey, to add a little salt to the final run of songs the hidden track that lurks is even slower and quieter than anything heard before.  (snore)  Ultimately, the last group of tracks are a real let down to listen to the end of the record knowing how excellent the lead up was.  So yeah, that’s probably why this didn’t get on many (or any) 2007 lists.

The Magic Numbers have a very neat, professional-looking website to check out.  Then there’s MySpace.  We all know about MySpace.  By the way, one of the genres the site lists the band as is ‘psychedelic’.  Oh, that’s a good one.  I will say that MySpace sometimes looks psychedelic, though.

Well, where to go from here?  The Magic Numbers had a record before and after this one, so one could take a chance on their earlier stuff as possibly being more poppy and fun.  One could also hope the Magic Numbers created a few more good tunes on their follow up record, yet at the same time dread that they went completely soft.  I’ll have to find out and let you know.  In the meantime, the Magic Numbers are still out there making music that you might be able to catch live at some point when they’re Stateside.  They’re certainly a band to go check out if you like your indie pop at a level that rides the line between catchy and catch z’s.

The Hissyfits – Letters From Frank

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Top Quality Rock and Roll, 2001

The cover of this record looks like someone had a heck of a time with their typewriter.  All the duplication of letters and even the inclusion of a star key seems to indicate that the person was all sorts of ticked off as to why their typewriter was giving them issues when they just wanted to type the name of the band.  That ‘h’ key looks like it particularly got sticky and the user was just mashing it repeatedly.  I do the same thing with Control-Alt-Delete on days when I have had enough of frozen windows and buggy software.  Wham! Wham! Wham!  So needless to say, I identified a little bit with the cover art as well as the thought that a band called the Hissyfits was probably going to be a good rock ‘n roll time.  So I picked the album up.  I figured I owed the frustrated typewriter guy that much.

The Hissyfits are a three piece, all lady band that specializes in punky pop rock.  Given that the three, full-square headshots of the ladies show them all to be smiling kind of makes sense with that kind of genre, since all the grrl and hard rock girls tend to grimace and look like they don’t want you talking to them.  Although the Hissyfits might have made themselves a little typecast, what they do defy are the conventional song lengths of pop rock.  Some of these songs usually stick around for three and a half minutes!  Either the band wants the listener to pay some attention to their valued lyrics or the band likes to pull a freebird with some instrumental dabbling.

The early songs on the album fulfill what I figured the Hissyfits were all about.  The opener of “Something Wrong 2001” isn’t a particularly strong track, with some room temperature rock tempo and a some very timid vocals, but it fits that cute energy the band was giving off from its cover.  “Baby” sounds a little better with the light vocals from the main singer (I’m assuming of the three vocalists, it’s the one who goes by ‘Princess’ aka guitarist Holly Jacobs), though the tune warms up with a sort of sixties-sounding duet exchange early on.  “Superstar” seems to continue where “Something Wrong 2001” left off, and though it has some pretty harmonizing over the power riffs, I’m still waiting for the stand out track.  Unfortunately, the songs are starting to get longer …

When looking over the time stamps of the songs beforehand, tracks that I was weary of listening to were “So Sweet”, “Bloodsugarsister”, and “Giant Ants” since they all lasted longer than four and a half minutes.  I thought oh man, what kind of pop rock song lasts that long and retains its interest?  Well, it’s a mixed bag.  I think “Oh Sweet” is actually one of the stronger songs on the record with its grim, urgent tone and uncharacteristic seriousness from the Hissyfits vocalists.  The build up and chorus sound engaging, though at about three minutes one could easily argue that the song begins to overextend itself.  When the guitar takes over and the chorus repeats itself periodically without anything new, a casual fan of the song could begin to edge that finger closer to the skip button.

Unfortunately, the other two tracks don’t fare as well.  “Bloodsugarsister” starts off really slow with some really light vocals, yet thankfully picks up after about a minute and a half.  The song itself isn’t all that interesting to wait out the rest of it.  “Giant Ants” suffers from a chugging riff that just goes on and on while one of the singers ‘raps’ about Bruce Lee.  It is apparent she’s been labeled a vocalist so as to fit in, but really, it may be because the band is still trying to figure out who in the group can actually sing.  You either have the rapper girl who can’t sing, the very light vocalist who sometimes is overdone by the rockin’ raucaus, and the incognito vocalist who seems to prefer to stay in the background.  Despite all the noise going on, it’s the vocalists as well as the over-extension of the song that makes it forgettable.  The Hissyfits just do better when the songs don’t require a marathon length.

Speaking of short songs, I think one of the better tracks on the disc is the thrashing “Lock ‘N Load” that nearly ends the album.  It completely stands out as some kind of lark by the band given that nothing else matches its tempo, but it probably fits the band’s namesake most accurately.  The band quickly moves on back to its usual slower speed with “Today is the Day”, though this time Jacobs’ vocals are all fuzzed out.  It certainly gives it a nice summer feeling, especially with some summer thoughts-inducing hand claps included.  The song ends up as a nicely calming ending to a somewhat confusing album.  Oh by the way, the song is nearly five minutes long.

If you must hear some pop rock by three or so women *right now*, well, have a listen at Last.fm.  (Edit:  Unfortunately, their old website is down as of 2013.)

The Hissyfits have gone through quite a few lineup changes in their time, though the lead guitarist Holly Jacobs has been the consistent element.  Either way, the band hasn’t put out a record since this one and, though the band toured for a few years afterward it unfortunately looks like the Hissyfits have thrown their last tantrum.  As promising as the Hissyfits looked when I picked up this record I can’t say it fulfilling delivered, though I would have been interested to see what the group put out next to see if they got a little more exciting.  As it is, the Hissyfits left some fun untapped on the floor amidst the toy wreckage.

Trenchcoat Club – College Radio Won’t Play This, It’s Not On a Major Label

May 16, 2011 4 comments

Caveat Emptor Records, 1995

Back in the nineties I listened to a decent amount of independent music due to being a college radio show disc jockey.  There was some really good stuff to be found off the main market, but much of it was completely forgettable.  When I saw the debut disc from Trenchcoat Club lying amidst a humongous stack of exiled discs at a local record shop it brought back some memories.  Of the few groups I grew particularly acquainted with in those radio days, these guys I remembered fondly.  So despite the budget cover design and the image that could be considered as foreshadowing regarding the music featured within, I quickly scooped this one up to relive a little.

Trenchcoat Club is mainly just two clever guys from Athens, GA.  Since I’m familiar with a few of these songs from back when I first heard the record, I’ll dwell on some of the better ones.  “Save the Ants” is a riff on the usual environment or animal support from the populace, even if it defends those pesky insects that seem to find themselves all over the place.  The main message is “Ants have a place/and it’s not between your toes”, which is debatable.

“Pruneberry Crunch” is a light-hearted ditty about a cereal with the most sugar, crunch, and, er, prunes.  It also introduces the best foul-mouthed mascot in Pitty the Prune, who hates your family but whose “life is a laxative”.  Pitty, I’d watch your commercials anytime.

My favorite track on the disc is “Theme From Knight Rider”, which essentially has the band playing the theme show’s bass riff continuously while a guy provides critical commentary regarding the show.  He delivers it in a ‘too cool for you’ voice, which one could consider to be Michael Knight’s look from the 1982 program.  He spends most of the time discussing the absurdity of some of the car’s abilities as well as characters, only to change the channel mid-song and get into “CHiPs” and “The Love Boat”.  Stream of consciousness is usually a risk in music, but when it comes off as a lark already then it’s amusing all the way.

“Summer of ’63 (I Wanna Be Frozen)” has a peppy sound that could be construed as a song that might be construed as slightly serious.  Woah!  It is primarily driven by a light keyboard that gives it that upbeat feel, and even though the tune came out fifteen years ago it could easily fit on any modern lo-fi record.  I suppose that if any song could step away from sounding like it was made in a basement on a drunken late night in Athens, (sort of like the rest of this record), it’s this one.

If one gets past some of muted sound and quality of some of the tracks, one can hear the members of Trenchcoat Club comment on a few aspects of the time.  “Sellout Song ’89” name drops Julie Brown, Paula Abdul and even Milli Vanilli in its distaste for the commercialism of MTV.  Heck, I’d take that MTV these days anytime.  The Milkmenish “Hello Dahlonega” doesn’t have a lot of grunge era references, but it does cheerily feature a band struggling to be accepted.  They recommend you have a few beers and then go see them open for the headlining crew of “dwarf-tossing midgets”.  I’m there, dudes.

I was shocked that they have a MySpace page, if only because it’s hard to find anything that proves they exist on the internet.

I can’t find these guys on Allmusic.  You can actually get their follow up album “Hitch Your Station Wagon to a Star” for a dime on Amazon.  I don’t even know where you could get this album I’m reviewing … well, if you even wanted to get it.  Admittedly, this whole review is based on a combination of nostalgia, a fondness of They Might Be Giants and the Dead Milkmen, and an appreciation of a band that had some music ability while dishing out a lot of tongue in cheek.  Although you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has heard Trenchcoat Club, never mind owning a copy of an album of theirs, maybe you might find something of theirs when combing a large quantity of dusty music.

The band hasn’t put out anything since 2002 and, given that it has been quite awhile, it is doubtful there will be a resurgence of output from the duo.  I imagine if one wants to hear their humor in the form of music they can pick up the usual TMBG or Ween disc.  However, if anyone is thinking of starting a band that focuses more on the laughs than the music then they should know that there’s certainly a willing listening audience out there.