The Cutout Bin

A collection of discarded or otherwise forgotten music.

-My fileserver is free, and you get what you pay for... so try rightclicking the mp3s and selecting "save link target as". You may have to do it more than once.

-Please see post #1 "Begin the begin" (3/24/06) for the raison d'etre for this blog. If you object to your music being posted here, email me and I will remove it.

My Photo

Repo Man's got all night, every night...

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

clockwise from top left:

Clint Conley: Guitar, Vocals
Matt Kadane: Drums
Winston Bramen: Bass
Chris Brokaw: Guitar

Hometown: Boston, Mass

By the time Consonant released their first album in 2002, the four members already had lengthy resumes from playing in Boston-based bands over the last 20+ years. Band leader Conley had achieved cult stardom playing bass for indie rock legends Mission Of Burma in the early '80s, but had essentially given up music when Burma split in 1983. Although not as prolific a writer as Burma guitarist Roger Miller, I always liked Conley's songs best- "Peking Spring", "Academy Fight Song", "That's When I Reach For My Revolver", etc. I was understandably stoked to hear that Conley was forming a band of his own with former Come guitarist Chris Brokaw (another favorite of mine- he'll appear here later both solo and with Come).

2002's "Consonant" is a little quieter and more well-mannered than one would expect from someone with Conley's past (the band name refers to the opposite of "dissonant"), but the material is far from sedate. The album bases itself around edgy melodies and fluid guitar playing- the overall effect being a kind of off-kilter guitar pop. Lyrically, Conley enlists the help of poet Holly Anderson (his co-writer for one of my favorite Burma songs, "Mica")- actually setting several of her poems to music. It isn't easy to create melodies for material that was never meant to be sung, although Conley proves adept at making the odd lyrical meters work.

"Love And Affliction" came out the following year and showed a more sure-footed band. The first album had been recorded before Consonant had ever played live, but by now they had gelled into a more cohesive unit. Musically the album is in the same vein as before, but the playing is more aggressive and the overall sound is denser and less tentative.

All four band members have multiple other projects (and Conley keeps his day job as a video producer for public TV), and Consonant seems to have been on the back burner since the release of "Love And Affliction" in 2003. I hope it's a project Conley returns to, because this is no side project ego trip- Consonant is a unique, fully realized band. It also provides an interesting counterpoint to his work with Burma (who have reformed and issued two excellent albums of new material since 2004).

Consonant band website

That Boston Life.mp3
From "Consonant", 2002
Click here to buy "Consonant" from Amazon

Are You Done-.mp3
From "Love & Affliction", 2003
Click here to buy "Love And Afflcition" from Amazon

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Favorite band?

On one of the messageboards I lurk, someone recently posted a question- who is your favorite band? I didn't respond, because the answer would be too long and boring for the folks on a Swedish news site. I did decide to take the question here though, where music geekery is the order of the day. Like everyone, my "favorite band" changes depending on my mood, and my "favorite bands" have evolved over time.

The first band I was really passionate about was Van Halen. This was in 1984, and I was 13 years old. I collected all their albums, proudly hung their posters in my room, and drew the band's winged "VH" logo on every surface I could find. Even today I can appreciate Eddie Van Halen's genius for writing catchy rock riffs, which was really the band's greatest strength, not his vaunted guitar shredding. Once goofball singer David Lee Roth screwed things up for everybody by quitting the band to go solo in 1985, things were never the same. I tried to convince myself I liked the bands' "Van Hagar" incarnation (even seeing them live in 1986- my second concert after Rush), but even at such a young age I knew the magic was gone.

I grew up in Maine, so it was inevitable that as a rock fan I would be drawn into the hoary, hallowed halls of Classic Rock. My main source of indoctrination was WBLM, the biggest AOR station in the state. It was through BLM that I learned all the classics- Zeppelin, Stones, Deep Purple, Floyd, Who, Jethro Tull, etc. After watching the 3/4 reunited Led Zeppelin play Live Aid in 1985 (which in retrospect was an awful gig, and what the fuck was Phil Collins doing there?), I had a new favorite band.

I repeated the ritual of collecting all their albums, even getting a few concert bootlegs from a friend's older brother ("Mudslide" 1970, and Copenhagen 1979). I read Stephen Davis' trashy Zeppelin bio Hammer Of The Gods, which I viewed as a sort of Rosetta Stone to unlock the secrets of Rock. Oh come on, I was 14! Although I listened to other bands, Zeppelin was my favorite. Great songs, great playing, power, mysticism, Zeppelin had it all. Their music inspired me so much I worked all through the summer of 1986 at my father's greenhouse to earn enough money to buy a guitar (I didn't quite earn enough, but Dad gave me the rest- thanks, Dad!). It was a Fender Squire Bullet, which I still own.

By spring 1987, I had discovered that playing guitar was really, really hard. Joe Strummer talked of similar frustration in an interview once, where he described trying to learn a Cream song as a kid- "I got the first bit alright, but then Clapton goes into this solo, and it's like 'weedeeweedeeweedeewee' and I said man, I'll never get this!". Strummer's salvation came via punk rock, mine came in the form of REM. I spent a few weekends painting a house with friends, and one brought a tape of REM's "Murmur" which went into the boombox rotation along with "Houses Of The Holy" and "Hooligans". Over repeated listenings "Murmur" slowly crept into my consciousness, and I began to realize "hey, I can actually play these guitar parts!"

REM would be my introduction to the world of "underground" music. Until then, I thought of rock bands as deities descended from the heavens (usually England) to bring their magical musical gifts to the mortals. REM looked like four regular guys whose songs were still guitar based, but not centered around virtuoso soloing (although I eventually discovered that Mike Mills was a hell of a bass player). REM traded more in melodies and textures than bombastic Rocking Out (something people forget Zeppelin often did, too). I was fascinated. That fall, three school friends and I formed our first band, which we suitably named "The Fringe".

Many bands that form in this fashion pattern themselves on a central influence, and we were no exception- we blatantly ripped off REM at every turn. We covered their songs and unabashedly rewrote their material into our "originals". To counterbalance this extreme REM influence that was obvious even to us, we began to learn covers of other artists- namely ones that REM had done that we learned from bootlegs. We figured we were safe because back then, very few people in Maine had ever even heard of REM. Have no fear, recordings of The Fringe will never stain the pages of the Cutout Bin.

It was during this time that I began to notice an extreme conservatism in the music fans in my area- rock and roll was past tense. It had happened, and my generation had missed it. The gods had come and gone- Zeppelin, The Who and Pink Floyd (this was before the "reunion") had all broken up. Neil Young was making bizarre records no one liked (this was before "Freedom"), the Stones continued to hang around, but everyone knew their spark was gone. There was new music of course, and some of it was deemed listenable (ZZ Top and Whitesnake, for example), but no one would ever again scale the Mount Olympus heights of Rock greatness like the bands of yore.

This attitude pissed me off. I viewed music as a living legacy- from the first chanting cavemen through wandering minstrels, sea shanties, Beethoven, gospel, blues, jazz, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Sex Pistols on down to my crappy band banging out REM covers in Steve Williams' basement. I found the attitude of classic rock fans stifling, so as I began to explore the world of "underground" music, I stupidly purged myself of all classic rock except The Who (who I somehow understood to be different in some way) and Pink Floyd (who I just plain liked). In Stalinist fashion, Led Zeppelin were repudiated, their records sold off. It would be several years before I realized I'd been stupid to hold the bands themselves responsible for the attitudes of their fans, and I eventually re-acquired the Zeppelin catalog, which I still listen to occasionally (except for the radio songs- I was burned out on those when I was 16).

By 1988 REM had begun to change, as all artists do, and I wasn't happy with their new direction. I mean, listen to any song off "Murmur", then try listening to crap like "Stand" and tell me they hadn't started to suck. I'd read a review of the Replacements' "Pleased To Meet Me" in Musician magazine, and it sounded cool so I ordered it from the Columbia Record And Tape Club. Usually, buying records based only on reviews is a really bad idea (ask anybody who bought a Royal Court Of China record), but this time it paid off in spades. The Replacements were my idea of the perfect band: don't-give-a-fuck balls-out rock based on well written songs whose lyrics were insightful and showed genuine emotion. They also had an underdog vibe that Paul Westerberg once described as "four geeks who got invited to the cool kids' party and were dumb enough to show up". By the time I left for college in the fall of 1989, the Replacements had eclipsed REM for the title of "favorite band".

I took my bass with me and started a band that was, naturally, based on the Replacements. This time though we didn't cover or steal their songs, we copped their attitude. We became infamous for shambolic shows, stupid antics, and always shooting ourselves in the foot. Four years later the band was still together, although we'd changed names and my friend Jim (guitar/vocals) and I were the only original members. By then we'd managed the task of incorporating influences rather than simply regurgitating them (this band was called Truckasaurus, and will eventually be chronicled here).

In college I sampled a bewildering array of music, much of which is still dear to my heart, some of which is not (I may still have that first Material Issue record, I'm not sure). It was then that the concept of having a "favorite band" sort of lost meaning for me. There was no longer a single band that I loved above all others, but instead a gigantic library of music to choose from, depending on the situation and my mood. For example, if I'm going to be driving long distance I might choose any (or none) of the following-

Bob Dylan- "Blonde On Blonde"
Bruce Springsteen- "The River"
Eleventh Dream Day- "Prairie School Freakout"
Neil Young- "Ragged Glory"
The Buzzcocks- "Singles Going Steady"

One of these might be my "favorite" for a day or two, but after that I'll be on to something different. If I had a gun to my head and was forced to choose a short list of artists I like the most after years of listening, it would probably look like this-

Bevis Frond
The Replacements
The Who
Neil Young

So... who's your favorite band?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Boy Wonder Jinx

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Dan Phillips- Vocals
Todd "Flash" Miller- Drums
Greg Eyman- Bass
Scott Phillips- Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Hometown- Raleigh, NC

The Boy Wonder Jinx began life in the mid '80s as Rotary 10, an REM-inspired high school band in Fairview Park, Ohio which featured Greg, Dan, and Scott with a different drummer. In an odd twist, the band had no guitar player because they couldn't find one who shared their musical tastes. For those who've never tried to start a band, this is unusual because it's usually the guitar players who are a dime a dozen, just check the bulletin board at your local music store.

Anyway, that quirk of fate set the trio's future musical destiny in motion. After releasing four demo length cassettes (each a marked improvement over the last), the group relocated to Ithaca, NY in 1993 while Greg finished his senior year of college. By spring 1994 Greg had graduated, and the band began considering their future.

I had met Scott Phillips during our freshman year at Ohio University in 1989. We bonded immediately over shared musical interests and a general sense of alienation from mainstream college life. Scott transferred to Ithaca College after that year, but we kept in touch. During the late spring of 1993, Rotary 10 came and played a show in Athens, Ohio where I was living and doing sound at the local music bar. Their next shows were in Cincinnati and Mt. Vernon Ohio, and I tagged along and did their sound for those, too. A few weeks later they came back through Ohio to play shows in Cleveland and Louisville, KY- this time I brought along some recording gear I "rented" for peanuts from my friend Robin Peckinpaugh. We were all so broke that we could only afford to buy enough tape to record the six songs they planned on using for their next release- man, I wish I'd had the foresight to spring a little extra to record the whole sets!

By the summer of '94, the band had decided to relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina. I'm still not sure why they picked Raleigh, and I don't think they ever really knew, either. I knew it was time for me to leave Athens, so I called and asked Dan if anybody'd mind if I came with them. He said no, so in September 1994, Rotary 10 and I rolled into Raleigh. As I mentioned before, we were all seriously poor. Dan managed to find a studio apartment he could rent without a security deposit, so he and I moved in there while the other three guys limped home to Cleveland to make enough money to move back to Raleigh. During this time, drummer Chris Solt decided he'd had enough and elected to stay in Cleveland. At the time we called him a big pussy, but in retrospect he was the only one of us with any brains.

Eventually Scott and Greg saved up enough money for a security deposit, they changed the name of the band to Boy Wonder (no "Jinx" yet) and found drummer Matt Schneider. Boy Wonder cut two 7" singles with Matt before he quit in 1996. Later that year, Todd "Flash" Miller joined, and would play on all the group's subsequent work.

We headed to Jerry Kee's Duck Kee Studio in early 1997 to start recording the band's debut CD "Left Handed Smoke Shifter" (I co-engineered with Jerry, who is a great guy- if you're in need of a studio in eastern NC, I highly recommend him). The band name had by now morphed into The Boy Wonder Jinx, after the phenomenal bad luck they encountered at every turn (catastrophic van breakdowns while on tour, practice space and all their equipment flooded in a hurricane, etc). The album was conceived to be a showcase of all their diverse influences, from indie pop to country, loud to soft. It works, although I was still learning the ropes in the studio, and it shows.

The following year's "The Problem With Fun" (much of which was recorded in their basement practice space where I'd cobbled together a small studio) was designed to be a much more straightforward, almost commercial album. It's also short, considering we'd recorded at least three songs that didn't make the album that were superior to some of the songs that made the cut.

In any event, "The Problem With Fun" turned out to be a prophetic statement about the group's state of mind- Dan left the band in 1999 due in large part to his growing disillusionment with the "indie rock lifestyle". Living hand to mouth and only worrying about where your next beer is coming from is fun for a while, but at some point it starts to seem kind of pathetic. Flash left shortly after Dan. Scott and Greg teamed up with drummer Chris Dalton and played a couple of gigs as Boy Wonder Jinx before changing their name to Goner, who still play occasionally and are rumored to be working on a new CD. I lost contact with them years ago, but they seem to have made their own peace with being in a rock band in your 30s but not acting like you're still in your 20s. Dan now plays music under the name Zapruder Point. Both are well worth checking out.

Justin Estes.mp3
From "Left Handed Smoke Shifter", 1997

Hal The Fifth.mp3
"The Problem With Fun" outtake, 1998

From "The Problem With Fun", 1998