Saturday, March 27, 2010


While we're on the topic of Mark Robinson, here are a couple of early compilations put out on his Teenbeat label. Mark founded Teenbeat in 1984 with Andrew Beaujon, Phil Krauth, Tim Moran, and Ian Zack, who all attended Wakefield High School together in Arlington VA. They modeled the label after Factory Records, numbering all their releases starting with the "Extemism in Defense of Liberty is No Vice" compilation tape, which was released on February 23, 1985. The interest in numbering has been tied up with a strong archival impulse, marking special numbers with special releases and often releasing updated "books of numbers" that catalogue all the Teenbeat releases to date.

Teenbeat 50 is the first major retrospective comp the label put out. Originally it was going to come out in 1990, but around the same time Teenbeat signed a distribution deal with Matador, and the comp wasn't issued until 1993. I find it interesting that even though the label had only existed for 8 years at that point, the folks at Teenbeat already felt an impulse to self-historicize by adding the "epilogue" on the earlier version of the release. This historical/archival desire has continued over the past 20+ years as they released first a tenth anniversary box set, and then annual compilation CDs chock full of hidden bonus tracks from the archives, and most recently the Teenbeat Originals releases. I feel like this impulse can sometimes border on self-mythologization, but it's definitely one of the things that make Teenbeat unique--so many other labels have been content to let their back catalogue slide into obscurity, but these guys have kept one eye firmly on the past even as they look forward to new things.

Speaking of the past, it's worth noting that Teenbeat 50 features a lot of early and side projects by folks you may know from other bands: Scaley Andrew is Andrew Beaujon from Eggs and Mark Nelson from Labradford; Bastro features John McEntire of Tortoise and The Sea and Cake; Autoclave features Mary Timony of Helium and Christina Billotte of Slant 6; Teenage Gang Debs features Erin Smith of Bratmobile and Cold Cold Hearts; Superconductor features Carl Newman of The New Pornographers; Helter Skillet is Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre; Clarence is Phil Krauth from Unrest. There are probably more connections that I'm missing - but still, this is a pretty illustrious group.

Various Artists, Teenbeat 50, 1991/93
Teenbeat, no. 50/Matador, no. 25

1. Teenbeat Theme 1991 (1:21)
2. Scaley Andrew, "Earle Hotel" (2:50)
3. Bastro, "Sketch for Sleepy" (2:51)
4. Circus Lupus, "Marbles" (2:53)
5. Vomit Launch, "Block of Wood" (2:37)
6. Bells Of..., "Strange Pair" (3:39)
7. Unrest, "Capitalist Joyride" (3:49)
8. Autoclave, "Dr. Suess?" (2:32)
9. Jonny Cohen, "Time Loop" (1:58)
10. Teenage Gang Debs, "On Tape" (2:36)
11. Sexual Milkshake, "California" (2:26)
12. Superconductor, "I'm Going to Blow Your Fucking Head Off" (3:22)
13. Velocity Girl, "Not at All" (1:54)
14. Eggs, "It's Hard to be an Egg" (2:56)
15. Courtney Love "Shaniko" (1:52)
16. Teenbeat Theme 1985 (1:59)

17. Krokodiloes, "Sweet Georgia Brown" (1:07)
18. Helter Skillet, "The Look Out" (3:02)
19. Naomi Wolff, "Teenage Suicide" (2:52)
20. Clarence, "Love Affair is Over" (3:47)
21. Coral, "Merry Go Round" (3:03)
22. Jungle George, "The Equator of Her Navel" (3:14)
23. Mark E Superstar, "Holiday New England "(2:16)
24. S.C.U.D., "You Fucking English Bastard" (1:51)
25. Butch Willis, "The 23rd Rocker" (3:23)
26. Wall Drug, "Peace" (4:22)

Get it here.

Around the same time that Matador finally issued the above album, Teenbeat catalogue number 100 rolled around. To mark the occasion, they released a 7" compilation featuring ten new one-minute songs by the lead bands on the label's roster. This is one of the greatest indie-rock 7"s ever released.

Various Artists, Teenbeat 100, 1993
Teenbeat, no. 100

A1. Blast Off Country Style, "Weiner Dude Attitude" (0:57)
A2. Eggs, "Baked Alaska" (1:04)
A3. Tsunami, "Brickbook Building" (0:57)
A4. Butch Willis, "Falling in Love" (0:38)
A5. Unrest, "International Nautical Miles" (1:04)
B1. The Shoetrees, "Collisions" (1:13)
B2. Bratmobile, "There's No Other Way" (0:57)
B3. Sexual Milkshake, "The United States of Arousal" (1:05)
B4. Cobalt, "Saturday" (1:17)
B5. Los Marauders, "Slicker Than Snot" (1:02)

Get this one here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mark Robinson et al.

Here's a new idea (and by "new" I mean really not new at all): blog as release and diversion from work rather than as burden on top of work. Let's try it out!

"Matthew" requested more rare Unrest material. Sadly I don't have much beyond what's already been posted - certainly not Twister, though I have the Cath Carroll single in 7" and CD versions if anyone is interested. What might be more fun to listen to are the following singles from a few of Mark Robinson's other projects.

Grenadine was a sort of Arlington, VA supergroup comprising Mark R., Jenny Toomey of Tsunami and Simple Machines Records, and Rob Christiansen of Eggs and Sisterhood of Convoluted Thinkers. Here's two of their three singles - I have the songs from the other single on old Teenbeat comps but it seems like cheating to post them without having the real thing.

Grenadine, Triology 7", 1992
Teenbeat, no. 88/Simple Machines, no. 8

A. Gillian (4:11)
B. Fillings (3:32)

Grenadine, Christiansen 7", 1994
Teenbeat, no. 166/Simple Machines, no. 31
A. The Barnacle (4:21)
B1. Snuck (3:49)
B2. Srew (2:05)

The Project was another sort-of supergroup, in which Mark R. joined half of Tuscadero (what a great band!), namely Melissa Farris and Phil Satlof. The only released this single and could have only played live a few times, but I was lucky enough to see one of those performances at a Teenbeat showcase at the Black Cat in DC in 1998. For "In the Drink" Melissa played drums and Mark and Phil did a great little dance while they played guitar and bass, respectively. It was a fun time, and so is the single.

The Project, self-titled 7", 1997
Teenbeat, no. 226

A. Celluloid Dreams of Superman (4:15)
B. In the Drink (4:24)

Mark Robinson formed Flin Flon in 1998, as the "real" follow-up to Unrest and Air Miami. They're still putting out records, which means that actually Flin Flon is probably the longest-running project Mark R. has participated in to date. Besides Mark, the band consists of Nattles (formerly of Cold Cold Hearts) and Mark Datesman (also of True Love Always). They're consistently awesome, and a great outlet for Mark R.'s longstanding obsession with Factory Records-style postpunk. This is their first release.

Flin Flon, Swift Current 7", 1998
Teenbeat, no. 241

A. Swift Current (4:16)
B1. Flintabetty Flonatin (2:21)
B2. Flintabetty Flonatin (Version) (1:27)

Get the whole mess here. Enjoy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Albatross Note

In keeping with the scattershot, semi-impromptu, d.i.y. aesthetic of the Karyo Tengoku record, I thought you might be interested in hearing this record by Albatross Note. Bizarrely enough it is a 9" record, the only one I've ever seen or heard of in this format. The vinyl is a beautiful, marblized green, and the cover art is by the awesome artist Marcel Dzama, who is also the lead singer. There's some info about the band at evilevil, which I am excerpting here:

"Albatross Note is situated in the centre of Canada, in the city of Winnipeg. It is a city of extreme cold, where the temperature can plummet to as low as minus 55 degrees for weeks at a time. The group began as a Yoko Ono and Lee Hazelwood cover band with Marcel's 10-year-old sister, Hollie Dzama, on vocals. This influence can still be heard in the music, which is a mix of honesty and unpretentiousness."

Albatross Note, The Dracula EP, 2005
Trillium Press Record Series, no. 1

A1. Dracula (1:05)
A2. In the Morning (2:52)
A3. Last Winter (3:06)
A4. Stole Your Parents (1:41)
B1. Are You On? (3:18)
B2. Mother (2:31)
B3. The New Crime (2:53)
B4. Please Go (1:55)

Get it here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Karyo Tengoku

By popular demand, here is the "other" side (ie, the non-Unrest side) of the soundtrack to Jon Moritsugu's film Mod Fuck Explosion. There is virtually no information available about this band beyond what is listed on the album cover. Someone said that the band may actually be Unrest in disguise. Listening to the record again, I am not sure which is better--the possibility that this is an authentic Japanese noise band, or the possibility that Unrest was capable of this kind of misbehavior. As far as I'm concerned, either way it's a win-win situation: 8 songs in 17 minutes; lyrics about the atomic bomb, James Dean, and smoking American heroin; all recorded on pristine white vinyl. It makes for a very happy Tuesday evening.

Note that according to the album cover the members of the band are named HonEE-comb, LaidEE, and TEEna.

Karyo Tengoku, Mod Fuck Explosion original soundtrack, 1993
Ball Peen, no. 10

1. Hiroshima
2. Chuin Gammu
3. Freaky Chick (2:26)
4. James Dean
5. Soul Brother (2:18)

6. Moto-Cancer (1:33)

7. Dragonfly (1:38)

8. Here We Come

Get it here.