Tuesday, May 25, 2004

World: Round. Part 1.

The Mommyheads were a quirky-pop outfit from Brooklyn who didn't exactly sound like XTC, but sort of came from a similar place: their songs featured more complicated chord changes than you normally get from a pop band, with angular verses often leading into catchier choruses. Just to define where I stand: I'm not a particularly great fan of XTC (don't love them, don't hate them).

One thing that a lot of Mommyheads fans apparently don't know (I'm basing this on personal experience, not scientific analysis) is that their first album Acorn (at one time a very hard-to-find item, rabidly sought by a very small number of people) was finally issued on CD last year by their still extant label Fang Records. From that, here's the first track Cactus Farm.

My favorite Mommyheads song was released as a vinyl-only single. It's called The World Is Round, and it smoothes out their songwriting into an incredibly catchy little should-have-been-a-college-radio-hit. Annoyingly, the Mommyheads' website has mp3s of some of their rarer singles but the quality of the mp3 of World Is Round really stinks! Some of the other ones sound ok, though, and it's more convenient than trying to find the actual vinyl.

A quick rant. A ton of singles/compilation tracks/etc. were released during the 80's-90's indie explosion, and the vast majority are essentially worthless. It's very tempting to give up looking, and I really couldn't argue with someone who preferred to invest their time in learning that new way to fold shirts or something else with more tangible benefits. And yet...there's a handful of vinyl-only, or from-obscure-compilations tracks that I'm incredibly happy to have heard. What I'd like is for someone with taste that exactly matches mine to go listen to everything, then email me a list of what's worth checking out. Thanks!

Ok, so many fans of the Mommyheads consider the out-of-print Bingham's Hole CD to be the group's high point. From that, here's the title track. In general the album is hard to find, but a fairly steady stream of used copies seems to fill Salvation Army shops in the Brooklyn area. I actually hear this album as something that could have appealed to a large number of more mainstream fans, but as usual I'm wrong. The Mommyheads did end up getting a shot at the big time (yet again on Geffen, the label that loved doomed indie bands) but despite the Allmusic rating, the fans of the band I've I've talked to tend to think the Geffen album wasn't so hot.

Trivia nugget stolen from the band's website: Adam Elk/Cohen, the Mommyheads' songwriter, provided vocals for the Yu-Gi-Oh album Music To Duel By.

Tomorrow is most likely going to be more informative than fun. If you're familiar with all the bands mentioned (or hinted at) in Nick Hornby's NY Times Op-Ed piece last Friday, you might want to skip tomorrow's post and come back on Thursday.

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