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Listed: Busy Signals + Antony Milton

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Busy Signals and Antony Milton.

Listed: Busy Signals + Antony Milton

Busy Signals

There aren’t a ton of bands these days bridging punk rock and power pop, which makes Busy Signals a pretty hot commodity. The Chicago fivesome have been around a couple years, but just recently released their debut LP on Portland indie Dirtnap Records. Initial spins suggest it’s one of the best rookie efforts of 2007.

While Busy Signals have not done much touring thus far, they were one of the most buzzed about bands at this years Radio Heartbeat Festival in New York City, where they shared the stage with such power-pop legends as The Shoes, 20/20, Pointed Sticks, and many more.

The group’s members cut their proverbial teeth in bands like The Carbonas, Tyrades, Krunchies and Feelers before releasing kick-ass singles on Douchemaster and Shit Sandwich Records. Ana's on vocals, Jeremy's on bass and vocals, Kevin's on guitar, Eric's on the other guitar, and Frank's on drums. And they all took part in this week’s Listed.

1. Bram Tchaikovsky - "Girl of My Dreams"
This is the a-side of the second single from this former member of the English group the Motors ("Dancing the Night Away") and it's fucking top-notch. Released on Radar in '79, it even cracked the Top 40 here in the States for a minute or so. Amazing powerpop. Seriously. And the flip, "Come Back", totally delivers as well. A fantastic single. Yeah! (Frankie)

2. Teengenerate - "Do You Wanna Know?"
From a great, great single released in '96 on a French label. Teengenerate put out a bunch of singles, but this is arguably their best. And it's all covers of songs by Belgian punk legends the Kids! Steve Baise handles the guest vocals on this one. Awesome. (Frankie)

3. Shoes - “Black Vinyl Shoes”
Dr, Eric Cecil first played this record for me 3 years ago and I still can't understand or get over the way in which this album was recorded. It's really ( at least by me) indescribable, totally unlike any other band of the time doing the powerpop thing. The kicker here is that this record was recorded in one of the members living rooms by the band for their own tiny label. Anyways, production and recording aside, the songs on this record are so well written you will NEVER get sick of them. The cover looks cool, and there is a private press version( with extra photos, stickers, letters, locks of hair etc..) included in the sleeve and a more common PVC version for all the collector dorks who want to feel special and own the "rare" one. They recently did a reunion show at 3:00 in the afternoon in Millennium park on a tiny little stage to about ten fans and 40 confused downtown tourists, they sounded great.
Here is "Okay" from black vinyl shoes courtesy of punkmodpop.free.fr. (Jeremy)

4. Rotjotch - Bad Boy
Major labels always did the best punk records, and this 1981 release on Polydor in the Netherlands is near perfect. First off, the cover is great, it's totally a record you would flip right past if you saw it in a bin. The recording is crisp and loud just escaping 80's overkill somehow. The songs are very well written, walking the THIN line between punk and pop, and the vocals totally make it, weird English pronunciations and all. Dumb in all the right ways, this record should seriously be re-issued so it can be ignored again. p.s. the band photos on the back get an A+ (they all look like shit).
Here's a link via punkmodpop.free.fr to an mp3 of "Bad Boy".
Here's a link to "Tomorrow".(Jeremy)

5. Rudi - I Spy
The best Rudi release in my opinion, and my fave good vibrations single. The rhythm guitars are really loose and klanging with really tuneful, fucking awesome bass lines and guitar hooks weaving in and out of each other. every song is amazing and you can tell this was recorded in one or two takes, {there are little mistakes left in almost all the songs}...Also, the hand drawn signature fold over good vibrations sleeve is both "oooohh coool,, and woooaaahhh neeeaaattttt inspiring..bands don't make singles this good anymore because bands really aren't this good anymore.
Here's a link to "I Spy" via punkmodpop.free.fr. (Jeremy)

6. Stripes - Stripes
This record pretty much sums up all great female led bands for me. She's not screaming or trying to be overly sexy or cute- she just belts out catchy hooks and pop melodies. The guitars and rhythm are amazing and get stuck in your head just as much as her voice does. I also like the crappy effects like "on the telephone" with the operator and phone sounds. The LP is perfect. (Ana)

7. Break the Rules #8 (Rare Punk Rock 1978-82)
When I was in High School my best friend and I would go to SMASH records in D.C. The people who worked there probably thought we were brats but they’d still put stuff aside for us. A lot of my best records are stuff they put aside for me--like this one. This comp has 32 songs from various punk bands such as X-press, Hitler SS and Jack and the rippers. It's just a great starter record to get you interested in rare, WEIRD, worldwide punk rock. It also made me obsessively start looking for small press punk releases. The sleeve shows the amount of records pressed from band to band. This has lead to my financial unbalance and the feeling that there are never enough records in my collection. I'd have it no other way :) (Ana)

8. Non Compos Mentis (ncm) - Ultimate Orgasm EP
Before you even listen to this great Texas single ( and use their suggestion "it sounds better live" printed on the back) you are will be drawn in by the great cover. A woman in trashy lingerie sitting on trash bags with a gun to her head in pure ecstasy -brilliant! Ok but it does go perfectly with the hit song on the single: Ultimate orgasm. Its weird vocals and thundering drums, fast guitars and just the crappy hooks to forever get stuck in your head will make you play this over and over again. It’s just the right mix of a simple punk song with dark violent humor that gets you off in all the right ways. (Ana)

9. Soft Boys - Underwater Moonlight LP
Perhaps the most impressive meld of languid psych and jangly pop this side of the Byrds. A tall claim, I know, but I still get the chills when I throw on "Kingdom of Love." Hitchcock's lyrical twists are sharp enough to grab the ear of the most cynical listener, and the strangulated guitar that winds through the tune is an awesome and smirking oddity. There isn't one bad or even mediocre song on the entire alb, really -- it's a rare evening when I'm not in the mood to hear it. (Eric)

10. Easter Monkeys - Splendor of Sorrow
These four Cleve-o misanthropes surely made a bit o' noise in their home turf throughout the early '80s, but on this rec, they pulled out all the stops. "Splendor of Sorrow" is a dark, nasty, unforgiving punk nugget that occasionally reaches into unlit corners of absurdist humor ("Underpants"), religious fervor ("Nailed to the Cross") and all-out oblivion ("Take Another Pill"). Though the band sometimes veers into instrumental, discordant territory, they often fall back into the din with twice the focus/vengeance. Understated and effective guitar-ing abounds. Fave tune: The Dolls-by-way-of-Detroit attack of "Monkey See, Monkey Do." Outta site! (Eric)

Antony Milton

Operator of the PseudoArcanalabel and its sister Seedy R, New Zealand's Antony Milton has been active since the mid-90s as an artist and distributor of truly underground sounds. From his early Wire Bridge label and cassette releases up to his recent solo works, involvement with The Stumps, Nether Dawn, and Mrtyu, Milton's been an indefatigable worker who continues New Zealand's long-running place at the forefront of challenging, truly independent music. Recent releases include Glory Fckn Sun's Vision Scorched CD/Book and Orla as A.M.

1. Shriekback - Oil and Gold'
I've approached this whole list chronologically trying to pick out different influences and the way they have shaped my musical imagination and Shriekback was the 1st band I got a serious passion for. I was living in small town New Zealand with not much other than but Kenny Rogers on the local radio. My stepfather used to videotape a television program called 'Radio With Pictures' broadcast on TVNZ late on Sunday nights. This program introduced me to 'somewhat left of centre' music for the first time and one night I saw the video for 'Big Black Nemesis'. I was so impressed that I hid the cassette so that it couldn't be taped over next week and after some haggling managed to convince the local record shop to order me a copy of the album. To me Shriekback was all about the esoteric. They had this kind of creepy witchy aesthetic that wasn't a million miles from the Cocteau Twins. To a kid who had grown up obsessed with spooky 1970s BBC children's dramas about 'lightning trees' and labyrinths haunted by portentous ravens this was very appealing. They mixed tracks of sublime haunting ambience with others that were some kind of funny looking English eccentric bald-guy violent blood/sex funk. Very Crowleyesque…

2. The Waterboys - A Pagan Place
“I have heard the big music, and I'm never going back”… There was something about the wholehearted passion with which Mike Scott threw himself into his music that just made my heart and imagination soar away up with him. I can look around now and see that there were any number of other less mainstream artists who had a similar intent and perhaps superior ethic in relation to 'losing oneself' in song, but I was ignorant, knew nothing about them then, and still get goosebumps listening to the Waterboys. I loved the way they could take a 2 chord strum and build it up into some kind of big religious epic, and as that religion seemed to be largely about developing a sense of wonder for nature it was pushing all the right buttons for me at the time. It's kind of depressing what happened to them…

3. Neil Young - Tonights the Night
Well I could have listed any of those earlier Neil Young albums really.. Neil comes in really early, probably around 1987, and is reminiscent for me of learning to play the guitar, the gradually opening vistas of late adolescence and the romantic essentially hippy utopian view of the world and the future I had at the time. A kind of 'lived nostalgia' for a fantasy time that never existed except in idealistic dreams of barefoot reveries. I was brewing my first homebrew and smoking my 1st pot. 'Tonight's the Night' is an album I took away with me as a dubbed copy (that I still have and play for nostalgia hit sometimes) when I left home on my bicycle. Obviously its not the cheeriest of Neils albums, but the melancholy and bitterness that are apparent in the music just made it a better album to me.

4. Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
I wound up putting this song on nearly every mix tape I made during the 90s. I'm afraid I can be a bit of a sentimental 'wuss'; I was drawn to the melancholy beauty of the melody. The reason I list it here is because of the impact that hearing Cohen's spare arrangements made on me. I love the simple chord progression and that finger picking pattern he used on pretty much all his songs back then. My father had insisted on showing me basic finger picking techniques when he was teaching me to play the guitar and so I played a lot like that myself. I was also writing and reading a lot of poetry at the time and the way in which Cohen put songs together, their sheer simplicity, his speak-singing, was hugely inspirational to me. It was a different approach . It opened my ears to artists like Peter Jefferies, and maybe even the sparer Velvet Underground stuff.

5. The Gordons - s/t
I was tossing up whether to list The Birthday Party or The Gordons here and it seems the appropriate thing to go with the New Zealanders. Violence, intensity and guitar noise. Big Black? Sonic Youth?. I had a dubbed copy of The Gordons that I used to terrorise my workmates with on a crappy old tapedeck that I would drag out into the trees of the orchard I was working on at the time. I can't believe that I was such a prick and that they for some reason let me get away with it.. I was 19 or something. A huge testosterone charged exciting angsty racket. VIOLENCE! INTENSITY! GUITAR NOISE!!! What more needs to be said?

6. Flies Inside the Sun - An Audience of Others (Including Herself)
This album, which I only ever had as a copy dubbed from the Christchurch Public Library, is perhaps the record that has meant the most to me. I certainly cherished that tape and have carried it around the world with me. It did me great service in India where its weird otherworldly beauty was the perfect distraction from particularly hairy bus trips. Sounding something like an improvising noise band covering Arvo Part its got all bases covered for me: ecstatic guitar noise freakouts, Peter Stapleton's hypnotising rolling drums, Kim Peters' sublime, almost liturgical vocals and gestural bass playing… It conjures up for me the New Zealand landscape. It is literate, evokes the simple mysticism of winter Sundays and has an almost perfect balance of tension between ecstatic peak and easy lull.

7. Alastair Galbraith - Cry
Someone said I should check out Alastairs albums. Up to that point I had only really been aware of him from his violin playing on This Kind of Punishment albums. I got a copy of Morse and Gaudylightand have been a serious fan ever since. I've read someone say of Alastair's stuff that that he composes sound-poems more than he does 'songs' and I can hear what they meant. There's something about the timing in Alastair's songs that relates more to poetry than it does to any kind of traditional song structure. The timing and placement of sounds onto tape seems completely subservient to the meaning - the images and fleeting lucidities expressed. I have tried to do similar things with some of my 'solo' albums but think that Alastair does this a lot better than I do. I have listed Cryhere because it moves me to the extent that I can only listen to it very rarely. It sits on my shelf offering a profound shift in consciousness should I ever need one.

8. Armpit - Passover
Splendid nonchalance, like the Dead C on valium. I got this cassette in with my first ever trade with Clayton Noone. I had been listening to a fair bit of minimalist 'architectural' electronic stuff for a few months ('air-conditioning music'…) and this was a real breath of fresh air. Because it kind of sounded the SAME, but it was waaayyy more punkrock. All the hiss was tape noise and all the rumble line hum through crappy amps from way over there in the corner, next to the TV, which provided the small incidental sounds. And every so often someone would knock over a drum or hold down the keys on some old electric organ. Nothing much really happened over the 60 minutes but one found oneself transfixed all the same, like you had to tilt your head on a funny angle to get all the sounds to pour into your ear properly. And then theres the great fuckin pop songs, when Pumice joins them on drums!- But no! That's another album…

9. Charlemagne Palenstine - Strumming Music
Anyone who's engaged in a lifelong quest to find “the Golden Music” is ok with me. Ditto Haino channelling the “sound of the Universe”, or Birchville Cat Motel distilling holy bliss from the grand mythologies of the kitchen sink.. The holy DRONE, crafted from the impassioned exciting of a million strings. Lying on the floor with the lights off music.

10. Ralliez Denudes - Live 77…
Theres something more to records than the music (obviously…). Legends and mythologies add a whole other layer of significance. I first heard this album whilst being driven around Singapore on a sight seeing mission when on tour with Birchville. I first heard some of the stories about Ralliez Denudes at the same time…I love the sheer psychedelic excess of the Denudes sound, and that has been an influence on The Stumps for eg, but I suspect I am as much besotted by the myth of Denudes. Angus MacLise would be another example of this. Artists who made great music that has been made even greater through story telling and urban myth. I'm a bit of a sucker for a good myth.

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