All Posts,Old Music,Radio — Dan on November 17, 2009 at 5:18 am

New Viva-Radio Pyjamarama show Victory Garden goes up tuesday at 1pm, and should cycle in and out of the archives thereafter. I’ve been listening to a lot of Broadcast lately and had just discovered the Broadcast Origins youtube series and was thinking of doing a show of Broadcast influences. Then I decided not to and just followed my whims and picked a bunch of typical favorites and less typical favorites and maybe they work together, maybe they don’t…YOU be the judge! I’ll get back to Broadcast and their influences soon though. I’ve decided that Stereolab are my favorite band of the 90s and Broadcast my favorite band of the 00s and they are very similar in many ways but very different in others and I will write another blog post in the (near) future about both bands. For now, VICTORY GARDEN!

1. The United States of America-The American Metaphysical Circus
Another discovery care of the fine-folk at the Oberlin Co-Op Bookstore Record dept, from when the CD was initially released by CBS or Sony. This record is pretty mind-blowing to anybody who had a standard classic-rock upbringing. A band with no guitar, fretless bass, ring-modulated vocals, synthesizers droning and everything heavily processed. Produced by Joe Byrd and released in 1968, the songwriting runs the gamut from fuzzy rockers to ethereal hymns, songs rooted in classic americana, some Beatles rips and moody and dark experiments like this song, who’s closest relative may be The Velvet Underground and Nico. The breadth and ambition of the record could be likened to what Van Dyke Parks might have done if he had studied with Morton Subotnik. The songs aren’t all great, but enough of them are to make this a total classic. This song especially is such a blueprint for certain key aspects of Broadcast that when I first heard the latter I completely wrote them off as a shallow imitation. The first couple of songs on their first LP, The Noise Made By People, for starters. It took me a few years to get over that, and I’ll talk about that more in my forthcoming epic blog post about Broadcast and Stereolab, due out sometime in the next year or two.

2. The Red Krayola-Victory Garden
No clear relationship to the prior song, accept maybe as a nice counterpoint. One similarity of course is that the Red Krayola, originaly the Red Crayola, pre-lawsuit, are among the few other truly revolutionary and avant-garde bands of the period. I’d say that in comparison with the Red Krayola, The United States of America are a conventional rock band plugged into a voltage processor. I suppose I don’t see any reason to go into the history of these bands, you’ve got wikipedia. But if I can say anything personal about The Red Krayola and it’s mainstay Mayo Thompson, well there’s just nothing like The Red Krayola. The first two albums stand alone as such a unique experience. Among the two weirdest, most experimental albums that could even remotely be called “rock” that emerged from the 60s, and completely different from each other, while still having amazing, shining moments of accessibility. Victory Garden is one of the few straight up songs on their second LP God Bless the Red Krayola and all Who Sail With It, and it’s a charming ditty. The few songs on this record pretty much prefigure a very specific but very primal aspect of what could be called “indie-rock”. There were very few bands at the time who were willing to be this loose, this raw, this direct. I’d also like to mention that while I’m cool enough to have been a fan of The United States of America prior to hearing Broadcast, my first exposure to the Red Krayola was because Galaxie 500 covered this song on the Blue Thunder CD EP, which I bought in Portland Maine at a record store called Bad Habits while on a trip during summer camp. Their version is awesome and they also cover New Order’s Ceremony.

3. Flying Saucer Attack-Come and Close My Eyes
This is NOT the kind of indie-rock I was thinking of when I was discussing Victory Garden. But I like this band and this song. I like things that are both noisy and pretty. At the same time. Or taking turns. Some of the new hipster stuff that’s coming out now seems like post-modern versions of this aesthetic. Similar but done with samplers instead of distortion pedals or something.

4. Main-There is Only Light
Couldn’t find a picture of this and sold the actual CD some time ago. (no judgement there, I sold ALL my CDs, except the ones YOU gave me). This is tangentially sonically related to Flying Saucer Attack. I’d say FSA have a relationship to the Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine axises in their merger of a modern british psyche folk with krautrock and shoegaze inspired noise. Main is a more direct descendant, growing out of Loop, who I just now decided are the grunge Spacemen 3. (Sorry if this is getting questionable, I’m really tired.) They put out this really cool record of fuzzy drones and krauty repetition and Wire-esque loops and songs, then got into the whole “ambient isolationism” thing and threw out their guitars and bought field recorders and I stopped listening. I’m sure it’s all good, but I like to sing along.

5. The Trypes-A Plan Revised
Couldn’t find a good enough pic, couldn’t be bothered to scan my copy. Another Feelies side-project. Glenn and Bill from the Feelies joined keyboardist John Baumgartner band The Trypes while the Feelies were on one of their many breaks and recorded The Explorers Hold EP in 1984. When the Feelies would return with The Good Earth, they’d have Trypes members Brenda Sauter and Stanley Demeski. The Trypes have a definite Feelies sound and feel, but a more psychedelic vibe and Baumgartner’s keyboards make it something else all together. The Trypes EP is one of my favorite things ever and I hope it gets reissued in one form or another.

6. Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies-Patriot’s Lullaby
After the United States of America LP, leader Joe Byrd released this LP, which isn’t quite as good, but has a few gems on it.

7. Broadcast and the Focus Group-The Be Colony
The centerpiece of this internet playlist, or any internet playlist. Broadcast’s latest release is a collaboration with the Focus Group. The Focus Group is Julian House, who has been Broadcast’s graphic designer and occasional tour DJ for some time. He also runs the Ghost Box label, which is relatively new to me. An entire label filled with british acts obsessed with old british library records. The label has a great consistent aesthetic and brand, and a somewhat consistent sound. And it’s a really cool sound but a lot of it is more experimental/sampled collages. This song is one of the few moments on the CD where you get a proper Broadcast “song”. For those following Broadcast’s career, on their last album Tender Buttons, they had shed most of the musicians in the band leaving the percussion to be mostly electronic. This collaboration with The Focus Group seems to move them more towards using samples, of actual old library and soundtrack type releases or of their own creations, I’m not sure. No matter, this is awesome.

8. Elephant’s Memory-Old Man Willow
Speaking of Broadcast and soundtracks…Elephant’s Memory were a psychedelic band from New York best known for playing with John and Yoko in the early 70s. This earlier song appeared in the movie Midnight Cowboy, and is often mentioned along with the United States of America as a key Broadcast influence.

9. The Fates-Sheila-She Beats In My Heart
I first heard about this record when it was posted on the blog Bimble’s Windy Weather. The band is comprised of original Fall and later Blue Orchids member Una Baines with her sometimes partner Martin Branah and several other women, with many songs deriving from pre-Christian and feminist themes. It’s a really cool album. I had met Bimble, who’s real name was Mark, on the I Love Music forum where we often talked “post-punk” among other things. I met him at the first Part-Time Punks festival and traded some music with him, I think I sent him a CD of italo-disco, which I don’t think was quite post-punk/new-wavey enough for him. A few months ago I found out he took his own life. I just started writing some thoughts about him but decided I didn’t have the space to make it all make sense and this wasn’t the time or place. I know he didn’t even like this record that much, and he wasn’t that into the Italo I sent him, but we bonded heavily over enough music that his memory and enthusiasm is permanently stamped on countless favorites of mine and other likeminded fans.

10. Mayo Thompson-Horses
My favorite song from one of my favorite records. After the Red K(c)rayola got increasingly experimental and alienated pretty much everyone, I can’t imagine anyone would think that a few years later Mayo would round up some session musicians and whip up this goddamn record, which was reissued on Dexter’s Cigar, the David Grubbs and Jim O’Rourke curated reissue imprint of Drag City. There’s nothing exceptionally sonically avant-garde about this record. It’s an album of adult songs. Songs about relationships and sex and god knows what. Some people may think his voice is less then radio-ready, but I’d rank him with Bob Dylan or Neil Young. He’d emerge again a few years later with a few other versions of the Red Krayola…collaborating with art collective Art & Language, fronting a super-groups of post-punk hipsters, exploring marxism, producing The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, The Raincoats etc and eventually joining Pere Ubu for when they got really weird, including a much stranger version of this song.

11. Galaxie 500-Another Day
Galaxie 500 introduced me to the Red Krayola so I figured they deserved a spot here. This is the one song from On Fire, my favorite album of theirs, that’s sung by Naomi, and it’s beautiful.

12. Movietone-Sun Drawing
Flying Saucer Attack-related british psychedelic post-shoegaze indie rock. Kind of reminds me of Opal.

13. The Oscillation-Head Hang Low
Don’t know much about them. On DC records, which I primarily know for the krautrock-esque nu-disco act The Emperor Machine. I think this was their “rock” signing? A bit of the Spacemen 3/Spiritualized/Main thing going on, but updated for the post-electroclash era. Sorry, I’m really running out of steam here.

14. Labradford-Soft Return
This sounded really great on headphones during sophmore year of college. I just spelled that “softmore”. Time for bed.


  1. Dan, I really love that Mayo Thompson record too. Even without hearing all this together yet, everything looks complementary. I know you just forgot to type it in, but just thought I’d mention for whoever’s reading that The Oscillation track is a Julian Cope cover, it’s on his first solo record and/or from those same sessions.

    Comment by John — November 24, 2009 @ 6:44 am
  2. I didn’t forget…didn’t even know! I haven’t spent much time with the Oscillation record, will have to see if the rest stands up. So often I’ll hear a new record and the one song I really love is a cover of some oldie!

    Comment by Dan — November 24, 2009 @ 2:18 pm
  3. […] or lazy novelty? You be the judge. But before I talk about those, I had two more shows since the last one. These will sometimes appear in the Pyjamarama archives…or go out and buy all these records […]

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