So it’s Halloween and it’s the last post of the month, and we thought it would be appropriate to go in a darker direction, but not quite as dark as our BAB post a couple of days ago…so...maybe a long lost post punker obscurity….Please meet Jeff Pawson, Peter Burns and Gary Economy from the mid 80’s alternative trio The Gathering. These guys were from Vancouver, British Columbia and had a great affinity for gothic overtoned underground music. Fitting somewhere between Sisters Of Mercy and Jesus & Mary Chain, this threesome put forth flawless deep droning gothic influenced songs that have just the right amount of guitars and keyboards. It’s not too dark, but not too wimpy either…just the right amount…. All five songs are first rate cuts, with song titles that fit this particular day of the month, like “This Hell” and “A Day In October”…Released via InTone Music, Vancouver...Post Punk and Gothic fans please direct your attention below:::
RECALLED::REVIEWED::SAMPLED - This obscure indie LP was conceived by the New York based brother duo of Nick and Ron DiFabbio. Both of these guys were very talented in the engineering, production and mixing side of the music business. They also had a penchant for the instrumentation as each one plays keyboards, guitars and programs sound effects. So lets just say, these brothers were all over this alternative new wave rock album.
Side One displays a reserved anthem like approach to the songs with soaring programmed arrangements and studio shine. Side Two pushes the envelope into more experimental territory and the brothers seem to let their hair down to tell you how they really feel about creating music. There are major tempo changes, lyrical shifts and a driving edge to many of the songs….Check out the escalating sounds of “Raising Hell To Heaven” ….the synth induced “Sign Of The Times”....and the urgency of “Bleed The People”…. This first and believed only album was independently pressed and distributed via Brontosaurus Records, New York. You will find this 11 song album is not really rare and can be found for favorable prices…
Moving to a more malleable side of the alternative wave spectrum, we present an unknown duo from Ontario, Canada. Blake Manning & Gary Canale of Napolean Solo create quite a catchy set of polished new wave melodies….A self produced single that was distributed via independent label Impressive Records. DOWNLOAD ME
We have been remiss in not posting Gothic items. It’s been quite a few weeks…. Well, what better time than Halloween to get things started… Here is a great little gem of scary dark gothic infused songs that we hope will have the alternative goth fans in fixation mode for the time being. This creepy band was composed of four members and seemed to have had a home base in Montreal, Quebec in the mid 80’s. There are some scary song titles too!! “Bones” and “Follow The Dead” are the most frightening….The standout track is the spooky mid tempo fusion of “Elephant Man”……This is dark and menacing music and yes, it’s almost Halloween…so here is an early trick or treat…..What follows is a five song private pressing on Bone Records. Distributed via Horror, Montreal, Quebec…how fitting….Boo!….Get it below….
Coming out of the shadows is this mercurial indie trio hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska. Yes, they did have a once thriving alternative music scene there or maybe Omaha was more appropriate. You will be treated to great guitar work coupled with a unique low toned raspy vocalist that sounds like he could have been right at home with some of the more commercially successful indie alternative rock acts at the time - The Church, Waterboys, The Pogues, etc…They do have some extra help on some songs and also employ a synthesizer on others….Private pressing on Chrome Angel Records, Lincoln, NE. Its obscure, just the way we like it, but not that hard to find…A few highlights are posted below:::
A special edition 3 track EP….Side One’s title song is a mellow guitar synther that envelopes the listener during the four plus minutes of chill out time…listen carefully to the computer generated voice..nice touch…Side Two gets more into the early 80’s synth machines that are used – Korg ES-50 and a Prophet 10. This unknown group was composed of four members and called home Easthampton, Massachusetts. Futuristic cover photo courtesy of Michael Blaine (1975)…Recording studio – The Schoolhouse in Easthampton, MA….An interesting private press indie on Videoview Records.
We have an alternative wave trio trying to make a name for themselves in the early 80’s Hollywood, CA indie scene. We do think Scotty, Spud and Rob have the look down with their 80’s new wave fashion attire. This is a self produced 2 song spirited affair. How fitting, it’s on a record label called D.I.Y. Productions. It was recorded at Skip Saylor Studios, which is still in existence today! There’s probably not too many of these floating around. For the fans of obscure modern rock with an independent flair...
It is a four song EP by an obscure United Kingdom duo. Belfi – vocals, guitar, simmons kit, keyboards. Bunka – vocals, guitar…and guest appearance by Julie Binns for some female vocal action. This is a self produced record that proves to be very challenging to track down. Discogs even mentions it’s “very rare”….We tend to agree with that assessment. Private and limited pressing on the very short lived, but cutting edge Next Wave Records, UK…..Get it right down there and enjoy!
The Flex was an alternative rock band with three core members. They were founded and operated out of Chicago, IL. The group enlisted session assistance from seven other members, who supported on Saxophone, guitars, vocals, etc…Overall, the band sticks with the alternative rock formula that was very prevalent during the mid 80’s with such bands as Husker Du, The Replacements, The Pixies, and many more….There are times where they push the boundaries and create a roaring hybrid of punk pop, which ended up becoming a popular off shoot genre in its own right. With song titles such as Acceleration and Drunken Aerobics, one can see that they have their creativity genes intact. The Flex traversed the alternative underground scene and never reached the critical acclaim as their mainstream compatriots…however, they didn’t feel the need to conform either…thus you get a 13 song album of uncompromising music that hasn’t lost any integrity or creative control due to major label meddling. This lone album was recorded at The Pits in Rockford and independently released on Sonic Dinner Music. Check out the crawling excellence of “Sleeping Boys”…and song selections below….. “Sleeping Boys”
RECALLED:::Rock Fiction is Mel Galli [vocals, songs, lyrics], Ken Weller [bass], Scott Singer [keyboards], Sal D’Amato [drums], Steve Mitchell [tambourine], Peter Graves [sax]. We can’t seem to hear the tambourine, so don’t get turned off yet….We do hear lightweight new wave pop sensibilities invading this obscure four song EP. Wait a minute…so the proceedings do take a serious turn on the melancholic “Young Girls”, which we believe is the bright spot on this 4 song EP….. Indie private pressing released on Bruzas Productions out of San Francisco, CA. There is some fluff and a new wave ballad about Maureen …what more could you ask for??….Take in the four songs below:::
This post starts with a tricked out female on the front album jacket that looks like she just walked off the set of Blade Runner. Systems Of Romance was a Southern, CA based foursome that kept a low profile and produced this obscure alternative four song EP…. Side one gets off to a exceptional start and dives into a synth wave frenzy with “Girls Want Thrills”….Up next you have “Stay” which retains the stellar synth workings and adds a crooning passionate vocal. It’s the standout track….The second side’s two numbers take on additional edge with doses of electric guitar action but don’t stray too far from the powerful synthesizers…they still call out….Private press on Stolen Riff Music out of Los Angeles…Recorded at Trax Studios in Los Angeles…There seems to be a few copies bouncing around if you so desire….obtain the four songs below:::
Changing music styles from the past few posts, here is a real obscurity and it seems to be quite a challenge to locate these days. This was an indie pop garage trio that was located in the tiny little 24 square mile town of Watertown, South Dakota. Independent, DIY music has no boundaries as this little 4 song guitar induced nugget proves…and does it in somewhat convincing fashion. Two of the members even play synthesizers, but they are hard to decipher. These guys would have fit nicely in the Athens, GA alternative scene…An opening act for REM?…sure.…The front cover photograph – ‘a piece of dead wood’ by Kim Christensen….Check out the four song platter below…..
RECALLED:::An unknown American foursome that seemed to have been in business in the early-mid 80’s. They produce a blend of clean guitar driven alternative wave sounds that are complemented by synthesizers, new wave zeal and female background singers in all the right places. The team even produced a rather unique new wave rendition of the Kinks “You Really Got Me”…. A presumption is made that this was their only output. The album was mastered, lacquered, recorded, mother stamped and pressed in Culver City, CA via Sheffield Lab Matrix. The hat model for the front jacket:::Cara Derrick….
This one is hard to pin down at times, but you get a slight idea of what you're in store for with the album’s almost ambiguous artwork on front and back…We got the hunch of a possible alternative styled affair...that served correct …A variety of styles are on display on this very cryptic looking ten song obscurity. When one explores further, the overall underlying themes become apparent and are of the new wave synth vein…
There is the peculiar new wave of “You Know What I Want” to the fast paced ultimate Power Poppers “Just A Kick” & “Too Hip To Be Happy”, stellar spacey synth rock on “Driving In The Rain” and then the album concludes with the synth wave sound effect laden “Video Hero”….This one will grow on the listener with repeated spins on the turntable…There is virtually no information to be found on the album jacket or vinyl record…it looks to be self released and produced…..
A rare two song piece of vinyl from an undistinguished trio….Side A “The Dust Collector” is the clear favorite here. This track propels you into a fast paced rumbling electro synthesis. It’s dark and gripping…and exceptional…. Side B “It’s Time” changes it up with a female and male duo of chirpy synths and selected sound effects. The female voice is credited as Oona… The record was recorded and mastered in New York…distributed via Stradvek Music….
Jimi Zhivago made his one and only ten song album of new wave oriented tunes back in the mid 80’s. The album was preceded by the made for radio or dance club single – “Fire With Fire.” Jimi struck up a relationship with German label Zensor, who also ran a record shop. Zensor Records catalogue was known for an eclectic mix of styles and artists within the German music scene, but also worked with the like of The Smiths and Throbbing Gristle. Jimi incorporated some varied styles, but played it mostly safe by staying within the borders of polished new wave alternative pop. His style is reminiscent of the late Cee Farrow. If you like Cee’s album Red And Blue, you will find this album interesting. This album is not scarce and can be found in the marketplace.
An obscurity presentation from the United Kingdom’s General Seven….This was the second release on Lady Into Fox & The Man In The Zoo Records…wow, that’s a mouthful for a record label…and it’s a better known title for a vintage classic UK book….Side A is fluid new wave synth with male and female vocals. Side B has a more urgent tone with an emphatic male vocal and prominent drumming that clearly wants to stick out from the crowd….
There are a variety of groups out there called Two and The Two…We feature one that hails from the land of Holland, Netherlands. The band consists of, you guessed it…two main members. Their music is packed with minimal synth characteristics and quirky splashes of electronic experimentation.
Side One starts off with the dreamy wave of “Reflection In Time” and proceeds to wander more and more into minimalism with shorter vocal arrangements and added electronic sound effects... Side Two starts with the stripped down “Strassenheimerstreet” – a song with sparse features coupled with a sinister sounding synth undertone as a backdrop. The album pushes on to continue the minimal themes and slight experimentations of electro. It even ventures into new wave pop territory with the bouncey sound effect filled “Blue Jeans”.
There is a self expression spirit of experimentation that fills this 12 song album. It can take you into the clouds with the aforementioned “Reflection In Time” and then turn gloomy and dark......Recorded and mixed at Studio T Woud, Bergen, Holland. Record label via Dureco Benelux and Forest Records...A gatefold sleeve is present….A selection of the quality songs is provided below:::
Elements of Design was a female fronted band that formed in the mid 80’s. This slick new wave obscurity consisted of four members – 2 female / 2 male…The entire band had strong ties to Baltimore, MD, having previous stints in such local alternative outfits as Boy Meet Girl, Question 47 and Talk Show. Their style had a variety of influences which bring to fruition a four song set of dynamic, rhythmic and memorable new wave synth pieces. Press releases characterized their sound as a cross between Gang of Four and The Pretenders… We are favorable to leader Rose Manfre’s passionate mesmerizing vocal calls….A private pressing via Impact Records, who were a Towson, Maryland based recording and artist management company…
For those who favor the digital media format, please take in the 4 song download below…and for those vinyl junkie hounds, such as ourselves, this EP can be found in the marketplace for moderate prices…Enjoy..
This unknown American wave duo doesn’t seem to take their band name seriously, as they don’t employ nicknames, but they do present a shadowy appearance... Both members share a full set of instrument duties to include – synth, drums, guitar, more synth, bass and vocals. The EP is keen and tight in delivery with fast moving compositions on each of the four songs. The standout track in our opinion is “Sharon”, which has layered synth lines that yearn to grab your attention… We attempted to no avail to obtain information on this obscurity…sometimes it just better that way….
Turning to more adventurous realms, we delve into the rare full length album by the Louisville, KY based alternative band - Poor Girls. The band was founded in 1982 and called themselves an “artistic tribal collective.”…..The genesis of the band consisted of four members that were augmented at times by other band members who would produce noises with pots, pans and kitchen chairs. A sax was incorporated from time to time as well. Poor Girls would end up gaining local attention by playing the local beat club circuit. The band shared stages with groups as diverse as the quirky Violent Femmes and the hard-rocking UK Subs and Big Black. They ended up producing one cassette and this lone eight track studio album before breaking up in 1986. The music on this 13 song affair is in one word primitive. Poor Girls use thick, densely layered arrangements of guitar, bass and drums to give motion to their thought provoking lyrics. Many of the songs exude ponderings on life and love, and are delivered in an avant-rock style. The bass guitar has a more audible role than in most alternative bands, and we find it similar to very early Cure tunes. Just check out the first song on side 1 to get an idea of what your in store for:::
The album was independently pressed and comes with a blue colored lyric sheet, but apparently in an attempt to maintain an artful element, have printed them in a style that’s extremely difficult to follow…it can be done though… Without any further adieu, we’ve selected some of the standout tracks to peruse and download below….enjoy this raw energy….
Continuing to stay within the geographic confines of Vancouver, BC, we present the only release by the Canadian foursome - 4th Floor….Rumbling extended versions of two new wave synth songs that have distinct influences and share similar sounds to the great Canadian electronic outfit Images In Vogue is what you are delivered. This makes perfect sense due to the fact that the producer here is synthesizer master Joe Vizvary, who was a core member of Images In Vogue. We also get Dave Ogilvie from Skinny Puppy fame contributing to the overall production efforts. Dave was a producer and one time member of Skinny Puppy and had a more industrial sense of things. He also has worked with Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.
This particular two song 12” is a melodious blend of both synth pop and industrial wave. Check out below:::
We head to British North America for another underappreciated indie obscurity. This post starts with an imposing front picture of artist Kim Clarke wearing a gas mask. Kim Clarke has spent the majority of his time in Vancouver, BC. In his early days, he was a skilled guitarist by trade and even taught guitar lessons. He played in a variety of bands in the mid-late 70’s and then in the early 80’s he joined the obscure guitar post punk band Mocassin Telegraph. Kim wrote what would be the first edition version of “It’s A Grey Day” with Mocassin Telegraph and subsequently the group produced a very rare 1984 psychedelia video. The video is below….Kim then struck out on his own in the mid 80’s to record and produce this only solo full length effort. The main driving force behind this energetic album comes from the multi-talented Al Rodger, who was producer, engineer and instruments guru. Al would go on to work with major Canadian music talent and have his own production studio.
By the looks of the front album jacket, one would expect an apocalyptic type of session here….well, Kim does deliver the goods in an ominous post punk style with some of the more notable tracks, which I’ve provided below. Other tracks move into a guitar oriented alternative rock sound…. Overall - this is a worthy addition to a post punk angled 80’s vinyl collection. We find that it’s rather scarce and available in limited quantities in the market.
Go visit Kim, he’s got a presence in the online world….you can find more detailed info, bio, videos and songs HERE
United Kingdom alternative foursome who plays a competent set of two clearly different new wave influenced numbers…The title song is an upbeat synth wave ride with the keyboards taking a prominent role in the mix …The B side “Metal Man” takes things down a level and has a very uncanny resemblance to early 80’s The Police sounds…Even the vocal sounds similar.…Sting and crew were definitely a major influence on this particular song….. It is a private pressing on Secret Records, London. We can’t find anymore releases by the band, so it may have been one and done…It’s obscure, but not scarce…it is currently available in the marketplace…listen below..
Infantry was an indie rock trio that held court in San Diego, CA during the mid-late 80’s. As you can hear in the samples below, the production was limited in scope, but these guys still put forth a valiant effort of guitar driven modern rock. Big vocal choruses, driving guitars, prominent drumming and high octane characterize this threesome’s only limited output. We can only imagine what kind of sounds would have been achieved with extra production efforts and money behind them…oh well, there were many like them finding early exits in the alternative music circles…This five song album was privately pressed on BOB Records in San Diego, CA. The inner sleeve lyric sheet has a artful collage of pictures on one side and lyrics on the other..nice touch…. We’ve provided a couple of the more mentionable songs in the below stream and download….
We shift to a more minimal electro sound on this posting….Paper Faces were a group of five located in a small town outside Buffalo, New York in the early 80’s…They started out small and DIY in 1981 with a two song independent label 7” release via Family Only Records…The songs were “Riding A Bomb” & “Deep Sleep”. These songs were very minimalistic in nature, which is always a positive thing…The group then moved up the stack and produced a three song 12” EP on Kulifupabu Music in 1983. This EP’s main single “I’m The Target” is anthemic and sounds ahead of its time with strong electro synth undertones. The full download for their 12” EP is below…
As for their 7” single, which is pictured to the left, we don’t have the pleasure of owning it… but have been able to acquire a sample for you to review. We believe the 7” is a more common acquisition than the scarcer 12” EP.
Tools of Romance were a five member indie new wave synth band that took up roots in DeKalb, Illinois in the early-mid 80’s. We believe TofR even played well into the late 80’s, but are awaiting confirmation. They were very active in the live club circuit and performed on many occasions in a variety of venues throughout DeKalb, Chicago, and the surrounding areas. Radio rotation was also in the cards and they were featured on a regular basis via local Dekalb station WDEK. Recording and distribution was handled by private press label Ribbed Records out of DeKalb, IL.
Their music is magnetic and wickedly infectious male and female vocaled synth wave…Check out the synth lines on “Cool Heart”…. there is a definite early Gary Numan influence in the sounds...Tools of Romance were clearly adept in the art of writing and producing hook laden songs…we just wish they had realized more national recognition in their time….Also, take in crude video footage of a live performance of the song “Red To Blue” further below song streams….
A female fronted new wave sextet that called the United Kingdom headquarters in the early 80’s. There is little to nothing to be culled about this indie band. We do know that this was produced by private label No Rip Off Records and that the lead singer looks like Anne Clark’s sister….The two songs treat you to strumming guitars, impassioned female & male vocals and all important healthy doses of keyboards…
This group’s name is definitely in the self deprecating manner, but they had guts to go with it…We initially thought punk or hard stuff by the name and the looks of the front jacket, but not the case here… Skank was a very large band (3 females & 4 males) on display and produced an alternative new wave sound with flashes of off-center sounds and vocal lines. Female fronted and many instruments in play here – 6 & 12 string guitars, synthesizers, bass synths, synth horns, DX-7, Casio, and much more electronica being utilized on this 11 song LP. The group was from Texas and utilized Spindletop Records as their go to indie label. We find that it’s not rare at all and is widely available for affordable prices in the online and brick & mortar world. Take a listen to the song samples below and decide if this is worthy of a cheap dollar inclusion to your vinyl collections….we hope so, it’s rather fun listening…
A recent pick up for us during a record finding expedition in the local Metropolitan areas….many obscure items were found and will be loaded in the coming months…This item in particular traverses the guitar dominated indie pop genre that was so very popular in the 80’s. A trio of young enterprising musicians, these guys were from the upstate New York area and sealed a deal with independent label Adventure Records to produce this 3 song EP. Take a listen to the title song and if there is interest, why don’t you take in the 3 song download below…thanks and enjoy…
We will start off October with an elusive four song EP by this Miami, Florida based duo. Tom Sivo had vocal and bass duties…Cliff Guest had the synthesizers and drum programming chores. These guys waiver on their styles, but seem to come in with danceable synth heavy grooves. They employ guitars and a saxophone on some of the songs via extra musician assistance. “Numbers” is a funky almost instrumental piece with vocal countdowns strategically placed during the proceedings…”Scream” is more rough around the edges with razor sharp guitar effects and of course some screams here and there by Tom….The other two songs are much more of the same....
This EP was the 2nd release on the very short lived independent label Duotone Records in Miami, FL….Duotone was owned and operated by Stephen Nester who had a solo outfit called Slap. It was cutting edge label focusing on electronic and experimental music….Unfortunately there is a defect in our vinyl copy, so we can only offer two songs for examination….the underground 80’s Miami scene this way….
→ This blog will focus on private and independent releases that are out of print from the 1980s alternative music scenes - new wave - minimal synth - post punk - power pop - darkwave - electro - experimental - avant garde - coldwave - gothic - indie rock - industrial wave - All records are sourced from my personal collection, unless noted otherwise.
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