Sunday, May 21, 2006

Powerdresser - Split Fingered Fastball

San Diego's indie explosion of the early '90s included Heavy Vegetable, Truman's Water, and Rocket From the Crypt. Powerdresser, while neither the most popular nor influential band of the scene, is probably the most tragic. Lead singer and guitarist Denver Lucas drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1994, just before the band was scheduled to record new material. He was 22. Drummer Lee Chapman had recently left the band, leaving its future unclear. Denver's death ended it.

The band's tricky time signatures owed a debt to prog, but the short run-times, mumbled vocals and dry guitar sound made the sound startlingly unique, if a bit obtuse. The band's only official releases were a split single with Heavy Vegetable and "Split Fingered Fastball," which appears on Ask for Disorder, a San Diego compilation.

Last time I checked, Powerdresser's entire recorded output could be downloaded for free here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Lost, Picking Flowers in the Woods, Excerpt

Although their name suggests a Japanese noise band, Black Moth Super Rainbow is actually from Pittsburgh, PA. The band's affinity for skewed word play isn't just limited to the band's name either; Black Moth Super Rainbow counts Maux Boyle, Seth Ciotti, Donna Kyler, and one Power Pill Fist in its ranks.

The band slithered onto the scene with 2004's Start a People, a record that smashed proggy electronics, lo-fi soundscapes, and fractured noise into a surprisingly attractive package. The band continued to tweak those same elements on their next release, Lost, Picking Flowers in the Woods, which sounds like Air attempting to cover Dark Side of the Moon, with phased moog solos and ambient electronics effectively conjuring up images of a forest, albeit a dark, twisted one. The excerpt here is the first track off that album, and like the other tracks, is untitled.

Click here for the band's My Space profile.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Heron - Big A

A few weeks ago I heard this song at a party and literally charged over to the stereo. After the song was over, I hit repeat and looked around the room to see if anyone noticed. They didn't. Six listens later, they still didn't notice. That pretty much tells you the story of Heron right there. If we could just get people to listen to the damn band, they'd probably be converted too.

Heron's story begins in 1967 at the Dolphin Folk club in Maidenhead, England. It was there that songwriters Roy Apps, Tony Pook and Gerald T. Moore met and played together in free-form sessions. In less than a year they united to form Heron. The only addition was keyboardist Steve Jones, who joined just after the band secured a record deal with Dawn records.

In 1970, Dawn released Heron's self-titled debut. Although featuring worthy contributions from all members, the album is most notable for the fact that all the music was recorded outdoors and for the inclusion of "Yellow Roses," an unquestionably brilliant song on par with Heron's idol Bob Dylan.

Jones asserts that their debut was a "runaway failure" on his website, but Dawn still allowed Heron to release a double album, Twice as Nice and Half the Price, as the follow-up in 1972. It has been said that the album's length is unwarranted and I have to agree. A few songs, such as covers of "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" and "This Old Heart of Mine" are enjoyable, but fluff nonetheless. The remainder of this album however is nothing short of genius. Anyone into freak-folk vegetation like the Espers, Feathers, or Devendra Banhart would find much to chew on here, from the meditative "Winter Harlequin" to the rousing chorus of "Big A." Although recorded over 30 years ago, Heron's music remains vital and fresh, a feat that most of the "known" bands from that era have failed to duplicate.

Buy the album here.