Tuesday, March 31, 2009


(Note - this was originally posted on Detailed Twang on 8/28/07 - I'm re-posting it because our old hosting provider took the file down).

Maybe it's old hat to you, but I just heard this 1981 EP from arty, goth, big-haired doomkings THE VIRGIN PRUNES this month, and I gotta say, one song in particular just knocked my friggin' socks off. That would be "Twenty Tens (I've Been Smoking All Night Long)", the lead song of their debut EP, the rest of which is just abominable. A stuttered, totally wacked-out PUBLIC IMAGE-esque dance macabre, with this whomping bassline & creepy-crawl guitar that's near-perfect. I remember these guys found a home in the hearts of some hardcore punk heavyweights back in the day - Jimmy Johnson at Forced Exposure & Tesco Vee of Touch and Go fanzine - and now I know why. It certainly can't be for the other stuff. The haircuts - maybe.

Play The Virgin Prunes - "Twenty Tens"

Friday, March 27, 2009


I got into FREAKWATER at the dawn of the 90s mostly because Thrill Jockey Records, then a young label helmed by my pal Bettina Richards, put out their stuff. I was slowly getting into country & western music (well no western actually, just country), and my entrée into it back then was full-throated female singers of the 60s. You know, the holy trinity: Loretta, Dolly and Tammy. Still love that stuff to this day, along with their 60s brethren Conway Twitty, Johnny Paycheck, George Jones and Merle Haggard. Though I enjoy a lot of ruff-n-ready, “outlaw” stuff, it’s the syrupy, strings-and-backing-vocals cheeseball country of the 1960s that I listen to. For example – my favorite Wanda Jackson thing I’ve ever heard is a cornball countrypolitan LP called “Cream of the Crop” that’s never been reissued.

Why am I telling you all of this? Aw hell, I don’t know. Blog posts just have a way of writing themselves, usually poorly. So anyway, around this time, 1992-93 or so, my mind was opening to country music in a big way, and that’s when Bettina turned me onto her new signing, FREAKWATER, featuring not one but two fantastic female vocalists. The sad one and the happy one! They’d just released a 45 (not on her label) called “Your Goddamn Mouth”, backed with a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”, done all country/a capella-like. I thought the B-side was pretty unamusing, but “Your Goddamn Mouth” totally slayed me. It still does. The follow-up album, the band’s third, on Thrill Jockey, “Feels Like The Third Time” (ha!), was just as good if not better, and I bought pretty much every LP or CD that came after it. Live, they were a hoot. They played a free show in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on my 40th birthday last year – uh OK, the year before – and I had to get together with my family or whatever. So I’m not sure what’s going on with them now. This 45 represents when they burned their brightest, though the rest of the discography definitely deserves some scourin’.

Play Freakwater “Your Goddamn Mouth”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


There’s no magic in this post today – no rarities, no vinyl-to-digital transfers, no 45rpm-only treats that I’m presenting to the world for the first time. Nope, it’s just one of my all-time favorite songs, “Rock and Roll Toilet” by THE SOFT BOYS. This is easily the band’s most Stones-ian, raw, snotty, punk-infused track ever, and was a cut on the 1983 album “Invisible Hits”, the band’s third. My college radio station of choice back then played this to death, along with the great “Kingdom of Love” from their previous album, and coincidentally or not, those two have fused in my brain as the band’s high-water marks.

Here’s what I wrote about this song on my old blog in 2003 after incessantly playing it one weekend:

Untold repeated spins this past weekend of my #1 favorite SOFT BOYS tune, the overlooked and underplayed “Rock and Roll Toilet”, from the "Invisible Hits" LP. If anyone not named the Glimmer Twins has written a Rolling Stones song as fine as this one, I haven’t heard it. This is first-class gutter rock, played with a cocky, bold swagger unbecoming of a band better known for psychedelic, thoroughly English eccentricities. It’s a killer. Listen closely and you can even hear the groupies mounting the tour bus in the background.

It would make me so, so happy if you’d listen to it or download it and see what I mean.

Play The Soft Boys – “Rock and Roll Toilet”

Download THE SOFT BOYS – “Rock and Roll Toilet” (from 1983 “Invisible Hits” LP)

Monday, March 23, 2009


(Note: this is a re-post of an unpublished piece I wrote in 2007 for a Canadian magazine called ACHE that has yet to see the light of day. With their permission, I'm posting it here. The actual written piece also will contain an interview with Julie Cooper of The Kiwi Animal).

We are currently in the midst of an extended revival and belated celebration of lost outsider folk music of the 1970s, defined by obscurity more than anything else, with simplicity & pureness of sound running a close second. Examples of said 70s folk artists include the excellent VASHTI BUNYAN, LINDA PERHACS and SIBYLLE BAIER. It may be many years before the lost acoustic children of the 1980s are accorded the same due respect, yet the magical, often experimental New Zealand duo THE KIWI ANIMAL deserve their just psychic rewards posthaste. It’s probably a decent time to be paying them as well, as there’s an oft-delayed CD retrospective set to come out “soon” – current rumors place it this year, in 2008 – on a German label called Pehr. This set encompasses both of the band’s LPs: 1984’s minimal, beautifully weirdMusic Media” and the following year’s sinister, ten-song acoustic concept piece “Mercy”. Completists, of whom there will surely be more of once this music sees a wider release, will be shattered to learn that the band’s 1983 7”EP “Wartime” & assorted cassette-only live tracks won’t be on the CD, but I’m certain that this is due only to the 80-minute space limitation of the storage media itself. These fragile and wonderful sounds weren’t asked to be “file(d) under New Acoustic Music” on the back of their first album for nothing.

Let’s take a step back for a second and think about what the 80s represented in terms of New Zealand and its place in the larger world of independent rock music. This small two-island country garnered an obsessive amount of “indie cachet” during the decade – I knew of Americans at the time who would have given a left arm for the complete discography of Flying Nun records; later in the decade, the rough & homemade Xpressway label burrowed an even deeper level of allegiance to the country and its seemingly endless supply of strange & unique bands.

A partial role call would include larger acts like THE CLEAN, THE CHILLS and THE VERLAINES – all pretty much on the fuzzed-out, alterna-pop side of the spectrum – to more difficult-to-peg acts ranging from all of BILL DIREEN’s projects to THE GORDONS, THE BATS and even smaller-scale bedroom geniuses like SHOES THIS HIGH, SCORCHED EARTH POLICY and MARIE & THE ATOM. This lowest level was the milieu in which The Kiwi Animal worked during their career – 1982-1986 – while still touching a fair share of their countrymen & -women thanks to a well-timed video of their lovely 1st-album track “Blue Morning”. They arose from the aforementioned Shoes This High – in a matter of speaking. Brent Hayward, one half of the duo that formed the core of The Kiwi Animal, was the vocalist for that fantastic art/punk act, who left behind a criminally underpressed single that was very much akin to a spastic Pere Ubu or a de-bluesed “Safe As Milk”-era Captain Beefheart. Hayward struck out on his own, after that act imploded, and released a small handful of 45s under the appetizing moniker of SMELLY FEET; I’ve not heard them but intend to, as I’m sure you will as well.

When Hayward, then in Auckland, met theater performer and local artist-around-town Julie Cooper, a bond was sealed, a pact was made, and in 1982 The Kiwi Animal arose. Both played guitar, and both sang, sometimes in unison but more often taking turns or signing entirely different but complementary vocal lines at the same time. I’m unfortunately unable to comment on the band’s work the first eighteen months of their existence, having mistakenly spent my time in America as a teenager during those years, while also not having sufficient current adulthood resources to procure a copy of their debut single “Wartime”. But here’s what Gregor Kessler wrote about it online (see the bottom of this article on how to access this piece on the “internet”):

“….their first output, the purely acoustic Wartime five-track 7" EP, released on their Brent and Julie Records label, oscillated between near-classic minor-key folk territory (in the achingly beautiful "Flying (Again!)" or the sinister "Back to the Moon" which, in all its purity, gains a menacing touch through the floating chord changes that convert dissonance into sinister hypnosis) and Smelly Feet-like sparse and angular song sketches like "Private Stanley." Julie’s input and especially her crystal-clear voice had added a breathtaking gentleness, and at the same time intensity, to Brent’s formerly often harsh musical ventures. The combination of their voices and guitars in songs such as "Jokers & Clownes" make the back of your neck tingle time and again…..”

I can imagine, because that’s what happened to me the first time I heard their debut album “Music Media” a couple of years ago. I immediately decided I needed to spread the word about their majesty, in hopes that others could approximate the same sensations. This twelve-song set could be easily, and somewhat mistakenly, summarized as a lovely acoustic folk record with a not-too-well-hidden experimental streak. The strange echoes, baroque instrumentation and the uplifting, pitch-perfect clarity of Julie Cooper’s vocals have many parallels with Barbara Manning’s late 80s LP “Lately I Keep Scissors”, especially on ghostly, hypnotic tracks like “Just How Close”. Her voice has this ethereal but not corny quality that drifts way, way beyond “pretty” – it’s an accented aural massage, one that you can’t imagine ever shifting out of pitch or yelling, screaming or cursing.

When Cooper is not singing, Hayward is sing/shout/talking over their folk-cum-acoustic rock music, like on the pulse-quickening political murder tale “Assassin” or the pseudo-pornographic “Performance Peace”. The two sing together on the opening “Union Song”, which puts one in the mood for an album’s worth of reflective protest/troubadour music that never follows. These different moods slot in very well between Cooper’s more spectral (the incredible “Time of the Leaves”) and sometimes buoyant tracks (“Every Word is a Prayer”), making this a carefully crafted, multi-varied, every-track-a-winner LP, the likes of which I’m sure you’ll agree are exceptionally rare. It’s a fairly quick learn that the album is not all sweetness and light by any means – there’s a somewhat nasty undercurrent to some of the tracks, carefully camouflaged by the sparse instrumentation and lovely vocals. Something sinister and jarring is hiding within the grooves, only peeking its head out in strange couplets about stiff penises, government cover-ups and tired, frustrated clock-punchers.

This darker undercurrent comes full circle on 1985’s “Mercy”, a record almost completely taken over vocally by Hayward, though still very much a Cooper/Hayward production. Patrick Waller, who played a bit of viola and cello on the first album, is also given equal billing on this one as being a full-fledged member of The Kiwi Animal, and he plays on nearly all of the tracks. It is a record that perhaps lacks the instant gratification and classic status of “Music Media”, but its rewards are returned in proverbial spades with repeated listens. Only one track truly sounds like something that could be plopped back onto “Music Media”, and that’s the opening “Flesh and Time”, perhaps not coincidentally only one of two songs that feature Brent & Julie and no one else. The experimental nature of this LP at times reminds me of soundtrack work rather than out-and-out folk music. I hear the sorts of sounds in “Conversation Piece” and its companion “Fag Piece” that could have scored bleak, wintry tales like those in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s incredible 10-part “Decalogue”. Haywood works some anger loose into these songs, some of which appears to be remotely political in nature, and yet it’s a sort of gently seething anger, on a slow boil rather than a big bang of released tension. As mentioned previously, one also gets the feeling that there might have even been a “concept” at play behind the record, but it’s certainly not easy to put a finger on. Pluck just about any single track from the record and you’re left with stark, minimalist folk music, full of warmth & depth, and bursting with strange & wonderful feelings of all kinds. Peter, Paul & Mary this most definitely ain’t. I can only hope that when the 80s folk revival steamrolls through your town in a few years, you’ll remember to give your thanks & prayers for the glories of The Kiwi Animal, and tell that bandwagon that they arrived just a little too late at your house.

** Much – no, check that – all of the “history” portion of this article was swiped from a great online piece/interview on & with Brent & Julie, written by one Gregor Kessler, who appears to be one of the folks behind the upcoming CD reissue. You can find said piece by typing the following into your browser window: www.pehrlabel.com/kiwianimal/index.htm .

Tracks from "Music Media" LP

Play The Kiwi Animal, "Time of the Leaves"

Download THE KIWI ANIMAL - "Time of the Leaves"
Download THE KIWI ANIMAL - "Assassin"
Download THE KIWI ANIMAL - "Blue Morning"
Download THE KIWI ANIMAL - "Just How Close"

Friday, March 20, 2009


Our final post this week during "Detailed Twang Gibson Bros mania" is this 1991 single that came out on a great short-lived Australian label called Giant Claw. This label also put out a fantastic Gories single, and was run by a cool fella named Bruce Milne, who might even still read this blog. If so, I think I'll use a couple of Australian phrases on him right now: "Good on ya, Bruce", and "Don't mean to piss in your pocket or anything".

Wait, where were we? Oh yeah, THE GIBSON BROS put out a rash of 45s on this time, including whoppers on Siltbreeze, Sympathy and elsewhere. "My Huckleberry Friend" has a riff I'm pretty sure you're going to recognize right away, and "Old Devil", like a lot of this band's later-period B-sides, is just strange. It wasn't too long after this that the band toured the west coast of the United States, and I got to see them play live at San Francisco's Paradise Lounge, along with about 15 other people. They were outstanding - kinda surly, kinda pissed-off, maybe a little drunk, and really raw & loud as hell. Hope you've enjoyed listening to this band this week as much as I have posting their stuff for ya.

Play The Gibson Bros, "My Huckleberry Friend"

Thursday, March 19, 2009


This 45 came out in 1991 or so after an extended “quiet period” for THE GIBSON BROS. I actually thought they’d broken up, but then this torrent of singles started flooding out, led by this excellent one on Siltbreeze. A strange and loopy take on Rex Garvin’s “Emulsified” leads off, and then on the flip is Furry Lewis’ “Broke Down Engine”, which I remember saying at the time was the absolute best thing they’d done. I know it made its way to about 100 comp tapes I made folks in the early 90s. (The other day I was wondering what I did to fill my time when I was single, childless and with an easy job. Make compilation tapes for friends and potential lovergirls, that’s what).

I also have this great photo of guitarist/singer Don Howland with a tuff “FMLN” hat on, live at the Paradise Lounge in San Francisco, 1991. Photo courtesy of Nicole Penegor, the staff photographer on my own SUPERDOPE fanzine back then. Enjoy.

Play The Gibson Bros “Broke Down Engine”

Download THE GIBSON BROS – “Emulsified” (A-side)
Download THE GIBSON BROS – “Broke Down Engine” (B-side)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


(Note: this is a re-post that we originally published on 11/2/2007).

I credit the GIBSON BROS for being my entrée into the world of pre-WWII blues and early country, and they hit me with a wallop when I heard their debut album around 1988. They arrived in 1986-87 at the height of indie rock’s fascination with noise, “scumrock” and SST/Homestead/Touch & Go heavy punk rock. Somehow this roots-reverent band was quickly grasped to the bosom of budding - mostly east coast - scenesters , likely due to their '86 debut 7” EP “Keepers” , which we’re posting for you today, and their '87 LP “Big Pine Boogie”’s loose-limbed Cramps-style primitivism and heavily reverbed, cranked-up guitars. The records have been seemingly lost to time, and criminally remain out of print and unavailable on CD. Their sound had a fantastic front porch feel to it, like no one’s taking the whole thing particularly seriously, and there’s a big bucket of beers beckoning nearby for consumption when the set’s wrapped up. Guitarists Don Howland, Jeff Evans and Dan Dow and drummer Ellen Hoover took their cues from the pantheon of rough-hewn American genius, from shambling Bo Diddley thumping, deep-South country a la Charlie Feathers, and pre-WWII delta blues giants like Skip James and Charley Patton. Trouser Press generously called it “intentional amateurism”, which perhaps bestows musical abilities on the band they hadn’t yet earned. But you won’t care.

Play The Gibson Bros "My Young Life"

Monday, March 16, 2009


I've decided that this week we're going to present a handful of the early 45s from Columbus. Ohio's GIBSON BROS, a band that I credit more than any other with introducing me to the scuzzed-out delta blues of the 1920s and 30s, as well as the one that helped me appreciate, admire and celebrate the slapdash, one-take, who-the-fuck-cares ethos inherent in so much of the rock and roll I love today. These records are really hard to find, and I get the feeling that most folks today don't know how great or revered by record dorks the GIBSON BROS were in their time.

I bought the band's "Big Pine Boogie" LP in 1987 - I can't remember why; I'm guessing because I'd read somewhere that it was a raw, feedback-drenched country/blues record on Homestead - and it opened up all sorts of new worlds for me. The record, and those that came before and after it, was this righteous blend of cornpone, nearly-comedic hucksterism and this great, loose-limbed approximation of some killer 1951 radio station from the deep, deep American South. I love every song on it to this day, and from around 1987 to about 1993, there were a bunch of us who were deeply indebteded to and huge boosters of this band, & talked 'em up every chance we got.

So let me take it from the top. First, I have an apology of sorts to make. I sold most of my 45s earlier in this decade in what's now known in the Hinman house as "the great purge", which proceeded after I had digitized each of them. I needed some cash to buy an ipod or some beer or something. What I could not have forseen back then was that I might want to scan the covers of these 45s on my 2009 mp3 blog Detailed Twang, so that readers might then be able to "envision" the 45s that they were listening to on their computers. Because nobody else on the Interweb has scanned the single I'm posting for you today, you're going to have to make do with a 1992 promo photo of the band, which only includes two members (Don Howland & Jeff Evans) who were in the same 1985 band that actually made these recordings.

The 45rpm EP I'm posting for you today is called "Southbound". Though the recordings are from 1985, and originally came out on a great cassette on Mike Rep's Old Age/No Age label called "Build A Raft , this "Southbound" EP came out on German label Glitterhouse in the early 90s. They culled 5 humdingers from the tape (including great Charley Patton & Charlie Feathers reinterpretations) and presented it to a mostly uncaring public, and after I bought the thing I maybe saw it once again. "OOP", as they say. I hope you like it. We'll have more GIBSON BROS later in the week, so click on back here now, ya hear?

Play The Gibson Bros, "Big Pine Boogie"

Thursday, March 12, 2009


(Note - this post originally from 9/10/2007, which I'm re-doing now so those of you who missed the tracks can get them again, is easily the most popular post in the history of this blog. I've had mulitple requests to re-post these songs. I'm also adding the super-rare "No Mag Commercial" as a bonus; thanks very much to Leah for sending it....!)

Totally have appreciated the seething scorn heaped upon me every time I mention my love for the first couple of BANGLES releases. It certainly makes it all worth it, doesn't it? Well in high school I got really into that first EP of theirs on IRS (recorded when they were still called THE BANGS), and I still believe every track on it to be fantastic 60s fuzz/jangle with harmonies to die for, including their outstanding cover of New Zealand 60s punkers THE LA-DE-DAS ("How Is The Air Up There").

When their real first album came out, of course it was a total slide down the dumper, and after that into the realm of the unmentionable. I've told this story before on other blogs, but I've got a pal who claims he saw the very early Bangs totally blow away BLACK FLAG and RED CROSS at the Cathay De Grande in LA around 1981; four mildly scared, miniskirted young women who decided to play their bouncy 60s pop at lightning speed to the assembled meathead multitude, and won at least one new fan in the process.

So I got to college and had this clued-in next door neighboor in the dorms, and he had that first BANGS single, the one I'd never heard. Totally dug it, and still do. "Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me", from 1981 on Downkiddie Records, apparently got a smidgen of local airplay, but was really only one of dozens of cool Los Angeles records coming out at the time. Because of their sixties leanings, these ladies got lumped in the with "paisley underground" of the Three O'Clock, Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade et al. I guess that's fair, but they exited the paisley ghetto just about as fast as they could, and their bank accounts are undoubtedly still thanking them. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do - c'mon, it's OK to fess up.

Play The Bangs, "Getting Out of Hand"

Download THE BANGS - "Getting Out of Hand" (Side A)
Download THE BANGS - "Call On Me" (Side B)

As a bonus, I'm also including a very early send-up The Bangs did of "Getting Out of Hand" for the Los Angeles art/punk magazine NO MAG in 1981. The magazine was great and incredibly un-PC; each issue filled in every random spot in the layout with scary pictures of mentally retarded individuals. It was comped on the first "Radio Tokyo Tapes" LP the next year. Again, thanks to Leah for sending this track along to us here at the 'Twang.

Download THE BANGS - "No Mag Commercial"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I was already a big NIGHT KINGS fan when this single arrived in the mailbox from IN THE RED in 1992, but whoa…..this might be my favorite thing they did outside of their lone LP, “Increasing Our High”. I’ve written so much about Rob Vasquez and his bands, including this one, over the years that I’ll spare you another re-hash on why I think he’s one of the most important and underrated guitarists and songwriters ever to play simple, raw, aggressive rock and roll. Instead, you can read what I’ve written about his ouvre here, here, here, here and here. But just to fill out the post a little, here’s a smattering:

“….brings forth Link Wray’s pencil-poked amps as played through by a ham-handed SONICS. And that voice – man, what a howler. Loud, overloaded, garage scorch with no precedent and no antecedent – something pure & unique and totally wild….”

“Bum / Ain’t No Fun” came out the same year I interviewed these fellas for my then-fanzine SUPERDOPE. These poorly-scanned photos are the only NIGHT KINGS documents I could find to represent the 45; I actually sold this thing years ago once I digitized it, so I don’t even have the single anymore. Someone in Europe probably does. I know, right? But these two tracks are available nowhere else, and to the best of my knowledge, are making their first world wide web appearance right here. Prepare to be bulldozed by the sound of Vasquez’s guitar – it’s represents the most animalistic guitar screech from the early 1990’s “third wave of punk”.

Play The Night Kings “Bum”

Sunday, March 08, 2009


(This is a re-post of our June 20th, 2008 post - by popular and overwhelming request)

I had a pretty sizable yen for a few of the short/fast garage-influenced punk rock bands of the mid/late 90s, most affiliated with Greg Lowery’s RIP OFF RECORDS – you know, Teengenerate, Loli & The Chones (more from them another time), Motards, Registrators, that whole crew. I simply took my brain out of its hinges, placed it upon the bar, picked up a beer, and proceeded to get down. The best of these records, I’m thinking, is the 1997 debut one-sided 45 from THE BRIDES, from Chicago. I saw these guys burn the house down at a “scene showcase” called The Rip Off Rumble in San Francisco with the Oblivians and I bunch of I-forgets….they were fantastic. Total snotty, punk-by-the-alphabet, lightning-fast rock and roll, the sort where you can’t help but want to get your shirt dirty a little bit from everyone else’s beer, sweat, and tears of joy. This single gives you an idea of how hot they were; their other two records were merely average, if that.

Play The Brides - "Pushed Around"