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Robyn Hitchcock - Element of Light (Click here to listen on Spotify)

I had “Airscape” from this album pop up on my iPod while eating breakfast this morning, and figured ‘Element of Light’ would be a great candidate to reconsider. I’ve always been a fan of Hitchcock’s stuff, whether on his own or with The Soft Boys, and once I saw him live in the mid 80’s I was hooked. He was brilliant both musically and lyrically, but what really intrigued me was his between-song, stream-of-conciousness banter. Kind of like Henry Rollins (spoken-word version) with ADD and an amphetamine habit.

by Bruce Wheeler

Mr. Mirainga (Click here for their MySpace Page)

Mr. Mirainga. During my student years I was given a college radio station promo cassette of this band, and for some reason listened the hell out of. It was only a couple of tracks, including Loaded and Waterdog, both of which were memorable - especially the one about the dog - well, memorable to me anyhow. Rockin’, fun, a little punky whiny and not too ashamed of it. In thinking about ‘reconsiderations’ I located their self-titled full-length on Amazon, released in 96 a year or two after the demo with both of those tracks, and I plan to give it a shot. Maybe you should too! It looks like they had a song in Ace Ventura II, but you should listen to them anyway. :)

by Martin DeRiso

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The Edsel Auctioneer - The Good Time Music of... (Click here to listen on Spotify)

Another great, under-hyped band. Check out the album “Simmer”. “Slouch” is my favorite track. These guys rocked live: loud, great harmonies. Like mixing Wedding Present with Dinosaur Jr or something…Really great.

by Dan Tedesco

(I realize he called for a different album, but I could only find a link to this one. No one said this blog was perfect, get off’n my back!!! -Ed.)

The Hair And Skin Trading Company - Over-valence (Click here to listen on Spotify)

(Our in-house counsel is short on words! Here’s what he had to say! - Ed.)

One of my favorite, under appreciated albums.

by Dan Tedesco

Prefab Sprout - Jordan: The Comeback (Click here to listen on Spotify)

Here’s an album that I always thought lived a little to far below the radar here in the US. Released in 1990, it’s DDD (digitally recorded, mixed and mastered), produced by Thomas Dolby, who had previously worked with the band on their second album ‘Steve McQueen’ (released in the US as ‘Two Wheels Good’ after a C&D from McQueen’s estate).

As an exercise in how good something can sound this album is in the upper strata. Tight, crisp, lush, full are just a few of the terms that fit. Plus, if you’re a fan of flowery, sometimes sappy lyrics you’ll love this record. “We Let the Stars Go” can easily raise goose bumps. A true Pop gem.

by Bruce Wheeler

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The Thrills - 2002-2007 (Click here to listen on Spotify)

I had a different record slated for my next post but by pure chance I took a listen to this compilation album this morning while I was working out and as a result I offer a slight departure in that rather than an overlooked album, I present to you an overlooked band…The Thrills.

Dublin’s The Thrills put out 3 records between ’03 and ’07. It was weird, that an Irish band was recreating the Beach Boys in a way that suggested early 70’s independent cinema. Take a listen to a song like Santa Cruz or Big Sur and you’ll see what I mean. It sounds like sunny, beachy, California, definitely not dizzily old Dublin town. 
There’s a real cinematic quality to what they guys did too. “Hollywood Kids” sounds like Ali MacGraw’s face looked in “Love Story”. You love it, it touches you but you can’t touch it! It’s the aural definition of longing.

They really were on to something. You can tell from the songs that represent the second album “Let’s Bottle Bohemia” this dichotomy of sunny tunes about aging and loss continues. “Not For All The Love In The World” has a devastating opening line (You show your age when you drown your rage, but I see past those laughter lines). Faded Beauty Queens and The Irish Keep Gate Crashing are two other particular faves of mine, again sun drenched beauty over a twinge of sorrow.

By “Teenager” the final record it becomes clear that The Thrills really have only one gear. That’s the sad thing. They never took any chances outside of doing what they’d already done, which while bold at the start, eventually became safe. But they still did what they do fantastically. “I Came All This Way” and “Restaurant” are really excellent tunes. My wife even likes “Restaurant” and she hates everything I listen to!

The bottom line is, sure The Palace Brothers did a similar thing, and to a lesser extent Girls do it now (although they throw in a bit more Pink Floyd in the mix) but if you’d really like a good slice of California sunshine via Ireland, you could do a crapload worse than The Thrills.

Give it a shot!

by Mike Patterson

Todd Rundgren - Faithful (Click here to listen on Spotify)

Here’s a mid-70’s release from Todd where on the A-side he attempts to somewhat “faithfully” reproduce 6 of his favorite songs from Hendrix, Dylan, the Beach Boys and others, and on the B-side he presents 6 of his own new tracks (a few of which are now considered Rundgren classics).

Todd always has and still tends to confound his fans and the critics by pretty much doing whatever he feels like at any given time. Critics seemed to like the B-side but couldn’t understand why the A-side was all covers that seemed to have no collective theme. Todd had supposedly approached these covers in the way a classical conductor might approach a symphonic piece: something known to the audience that had been performed many times before and figuring how to interpret the piece without changing it. Enjoy!

by Bruce Wheeler

Geggy Tah - Sacred Cow (Click here to listen on Spotify)

Sometimes having a (semi) hit single can shift focus away from the album that song comes from. Released on Luaka Bop in 1996, Geggy Tah’s “Sacred Cow” featured the song & video for “Whoever You Are” (aka “You let me change lanes, while I was riving in my car”), a funky tribute to the rarely-seen courteous driver. But whether you found that song danceable or irritating (It received a second gust of life in a car commercial years later), the album that contained it slipped under the radar of a lot of people. The second release by Geggy Tah ( singer/writer Tommy Jordan and keyboard/guitarist Greg Kurtsin…later of Action Figure Party, and currently in The Bird and The Bee) was a better produced record improving on their lo-fi funky debut “Grand Opening”. Besides the single, the album was a fun, lighthearted mix of song styles, silly lyrics, with some excellent musicianship (drummer Daren Hahn joined the line-up for the record). From Funky (“Whoever You Are”) to pop-punkish (“Lotta Stuff”), from quirky love songs to pets (“Gina”) to pushing out towards prog-rock (“Sacred Cow”, “Century Plant 2000”) to mixing up all of the above (“Las Vegas With The Lights Out”). Sacred Cow is a unique record that is definitely worth giving a few follow-up spins.

by Jeff Smith