Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

Vietnam

Not to be confused with the constantly entertaining Social Registry stalwarts from the early aughts, this incarnation under the heading Vietnam reared its head in ’85 on New Zealand’s Jayrem records. The short release falls center square into the hearts of Joy Division and Cure fans. It’s got the moody makeup of the best kind of dark, yet oddly poppy post-punk (see: The Sound, The Names, The Comsat Angels) and knows its way around a smudged eyeliner hook. Pairing a set of damp, reedy vocals with the kind of pessimism that plays well with the goth table, these would have killed had they had wide distribution at the time. Alas, Jayrem was more of a localized label that filled out the needs of the NZ scene at the time, without expanding the way that, say, something like Flying Nun did.

The reissue culls the existing and previously released studio recordings along with a couple of unreleased cuts that round out the picture but pale a bit in comparison with the heavier hitters on the LP. The details are scant on what happened to the band post release of the original, but it’s a nice piece of Kiwi-pop history and a decent addition to any post-punk playlists that might need a bit of an outlier to liven things up. The reissue comes courtesy of the diggers over at Spain’s B.F.E. records, who for their part, are always scrounging the fringes of the ’70s and ’80s for oddities. The only real problem is that the release sounds a bit like a needle drop in terms of quality, but beggars can’t always be choosers. Perhaps the original tapes were long gone. The music remains though, and it’s a worthwhile dig to be sure.





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J. William Parker

Japan’s Guruguru Brain have steadily built themselves up as a well of great new psychedelia from the Pacific Rim. Their latest pickup is Hanoi’s J. William Parker, a man with no reputation and little press to his name. They found him from a fully formed demo that’s been forged pretty much unchanged into Shadowmen. What he lacks in fanfare though, Parker makes up for in home-recorded psych-folk spirit. The record is flecked with the hallmarks of loner folk’s high halls, shades of Jansch, Drake, Spence, Ted Lucas and Masaki Batoh; but he moves further into the dark halls of shut-in territory on his spectral instrumentals that bounce around like faded memories throughout the album.

When he eases back the cardboard boom mic reverberations though he gets some crisp sounds, that if not necessarily on par with his ’70s influences as far as clarity, have a great deal of the same mournful romanticism that’s endeared the loner soul to audiences for years. When he truly goes for the psych-out, Parker finds himself on comfortable footing, as on “The Stranger,” a highlight that pushes his frantic energy well past the limits of his modest setup. On Shadowmen Parker may just be getting started and the studio may find him some welcome comfort and new experimental fortitude as he progresses. Or, this may be one of those one-off gems that endures because it acts as encapsulation of a time and place, rescued from the bins like white label pressings plucked from obscurity in the past couple of years. Either way, its an oddly comforting find that lends its credence to the kind of ears that run the game over at Guruguru Brain for sure.


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J. William Parker – “Tigers In The Glass Room”

Guru Guru Brain quietly slips out news of J. William Parker’s debut. The Hanoi songwriter is a complete unknown that came into the attention of the label with these cracked and quiet home recordings fulling in tact. The songs bristle with the kind of vitality that befit some of the best private presses of the ’70s. “Tigers In The Glass Room” is a warm, present burst of strum, distorted by the limitations of Parker’s setup, but the cracks only add to the intensity of the track. The label’s not so far off base in giving the record accolades of bringing to mind Ted Lucas and the quality reminds me of a favorite from a few years back from B.R. Garm. There’s an intense loner vibe here, that feels like the music is a cry in the night. Its not a cry for help though, maybe just a cry for companionship or just a cry to be heard. Either way, its sounding like a great bit of fractured folk.



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