Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Galaga - Winter

Galaga existed for a decade, but barely released anything in that time. They started out promisingly enough, releasing the excellent "Winter" single in 1992 on their own Spider label. The track garnered some radio play in England on the Gary Crowley show and in America on CMJ.

The band formed in 1991 as a four piece with Matt Ayotte on drums, Dave Lampton on Guitar, Peter Park on Bass, and Andre Vogel on Guitar. The latter two sang vocals on "Winter," an excellent, driving slice of early '90s indie rock.

Vogel, like many others at the time, was experimenting with different tunings and setups for his guitar. "I was heavily influenced by Sonic Youth, tweeking tunings," he said. "So for 'Winter' I just doubled the stings in unison. It sounded like a sitar."

Later, in 1997, the band released a single on the Noise Pop label that included "Arilang," a trippy melding of Hendrix and Kevin Shields that is featured on the Tiny Idols, Vol. 2 CD.

Galaga called called it quits in 2000.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blue Sparks - Paint it Gold

Lost in the post-Strokes deluge of NY rock-revivalists was Blue Sparks, an interesting quartet that had the talent but lacked the distinctive voice to get noticed. Of course, the other New York bands that achieved more success at the time--The Witnesses, Elefant, The Flesh, the Fever, Ambulance LTD--are all forgotten now too. Perhaps the band's biggest problem was their outsized expectactions. After the Strokes blew up overnight, every talented New York band thought they could do the same.

The Blue Sparks were actually far less rock-oriented than their press pics suggested. If they were retro-anything, it was more late-'80s college rock in the mold of the Feelies or Yo La Tengo. The quartet, fronted by Phil Aceto and Kerry Kennedy, were long touted as the best unsigned band in the area, but they only managed to release a five song, self-titled EP in 2004 before breaking up the next year.

"Paint it Gold" was written by Kennedy. I wonder what she is up to now...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big Louise - Angels

Big Louise was less a band than a collision of various talents on their way to other projects. Naming themselves after a Scott Walker tune, the New York band formed in 1990 around the core of Spike Priggen and twin sisters Laura and Leslie Sink. Priggen soon brought in bassist Robert Vickers and drummer Doug Wygal to complete the lineup, but Lisa Jenio and Mark Mulcahy also had brief stints with the band.

Big Louise began building up a set of songs, most of which were written by the Sink sisters, with contributions from Vickers and Priggen. In 1991 they did a short north-east tour opening for Jack Frost and later recorded a live to air performance on the WFMU show "The Water Faucet".

In May of 1991, Big Louise went into the studio and cut two songs for a 7" single that they released on their own label, #1 Records. The A-side featured Leslie’s "Angels" and the B-side was Vickers’s "Morning Glory." The label, named for the Big Star album, also released singles by The Streams, The Caroline Know, The Hello Strangers and Deep Six. The Big Louise single was released that September.

In 1992 the band drifted apart to pursue other agendas, Robert Vickers and Spike Priggen to record with Malcolm Ross (ex-Orange Juice) and the Sinks to return to college. Vickers later formed The Mad Scene with Hamish Kilgour (The Clean), recording two albums for Merge Records.

In August 1993, Rough Trade Record store in London compiled an album of US 7” vinyl singles called Unnecessary Niceness, for release in the UK and included the track "Angels." It was however, too late for a band who had already moved on, leaving only the merest trace of vinyl behind.