CD Babies

11 Sep

CD BABY is my idea of a great idea. Recordings made and sold by the artists and/or their friends, pure and simple. Where else can you find MP3 downloads of bands by two different ex NEGATIVE TREND singers (Rozz Rezabek and Rik L Rik) next to CDs on tiny labels like LowArtMusic and Trakwerx Records, all bumping shoulders with your crazy Uncle Bob’s homemade banjo CD-R? Only at CD BABY, buster. No it may be socialist, but as an equalizing force in the increasingly genre-specific world of recorded music consumer outlets, it’s pretty hard to beat. While the original owner sold his baby off in 2008, it hasn’t resulted in too many changes, other than a kind of annoying new website interface. But whatever – I’m still a total CD BABY believer and wanna talk recent stuff I’ve stumbled upon there, all SoCal specific.

1. farmersTHE FARMERS – “Bohemia” (from Hand Picked, self-released, 2003) – Folky MEAT PUPSian alt rockin’ from this Bill Bowman-led South Bay band of VIDA spinoffs. And as VIDA were originally a DC3 spin-off, and DC3 was originally a BLACK FLAG spin-off . . . yep these boys will always be NeareSST Relatives in my book. Doesn’t hurt to have giant octopus-turned-drummer George Hurley on board to expand the rhythmic kick in dozens of subtle ways. While they don’t strive to give you much more than a collection of appealingly friendly tunage, astute listeners will connect the down-to-earth intimacy at work here to nowhere else but the South Bay. Now if only I could find more bands here in London capable of knocking off stuff this tasty . . .

2. bgardenbBLUE GARDEN BLUE – “Simple Times” (from Garden Music, CD-R, recorded 1985) Started reading a great blog this year called Stars Eat Toys only to find that the man at it’s helm had once been in a 60’s-influenced garage band who gigged around West LA in the mid 80’s called BLUE GARDEN BLUE. They evoked that optimistic vibe of THE BYRDS and folky spirit of THE BLUE THINGS via VELVET UNDERGROUND strum-a-go-go more so than even THE RAIN PARADE were capable of back then. Though I like that they are honest about their actual influences: “Joy Division, The Kinks, Bowie, U2, Beatles, Echo & The Bunnymen, Chameleons, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, AC/DC, Rodney on the ROQ.” Ha! The cave-like acoustics give them a real period charm, and their earnest tunes really do stick – methinks this lead vocalist coulda gone on to pop/rock greatness. Had BLUE GARDEN BLUE scored a track on a mid-80’s Enigma Records comp LP, not only BOMP’s Greg Shaw, but Yours Truly would have tagged em Ones To Watch back then.

3. fountain94THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT aka FOUNTAIN – “Addicted” (Weird, CD-R, recorded ’90-’92) Real People rock from my neck of the woods back in the day, this actually has a heck of a lot going for it. Do I kinda sorta remember their homemade cassettes for sale on the counter at Go Boy Records in Redondo Beach at the end of the 80’s? Kinda sorta yes. By this time, they’d had ditched the happy-finger gtrist who dragged down their early recordings, developed a knack for writing unhinged but still catchy songs, and started using their 60’s/70’s influences to good effect. Not unlike Brian Kild’s ELECTRIC PEACE or Honey Davis’ HOLLYROCK, Clark Hagins’ THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT might actually be remembered by a few more folks today, had they been able to convince audiences they were part of any of the prevailing trends of their day. As it is what they left us is histrionically weird fr sure, but wholly their own. It exudes a nagging loneliness few wanna talk of, but we all know exists just the same. Bravo, Clark.

4. wigtitansWIG TITANS – “What About Us” (from End of the World, 4Q2 Publishing, 2002) Veterans of a few dozen rock n roll wars, THE WIG TITANS might call San Diego and environs their home, but dammit if the core of this band weren’t born/bred around the South Bay. Tom Gardner was once a great writer for the mythic (in my mind anyway) Back Door Man magazine outta North Torrance; Mary Fleener grew up near me in Palos Verdes, and has been inking trippy, comic/cubist-inspired art since the mid 80’s; and Paul Therrio was in Torrance’s godlike pre-punk IMPERIAL DOGS back when I was still sucking my thumb. This CD teeter-tooters between Mary’s straight ahead ROCKPILEisms & Tom’s more PLIMSOULSian subtleties, and therefore might feel a bit schizophrenic to some. But hey, I’m a mental health social worker by trade, these are the kinda juxtapositions I live/die for, and oh fuck how I love “What About Us”. You’re gonna remember to blast this one at my funeral, right?

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