Friday, September 3rd, 2004

Let's Electrify!

New York’s Versus went on semi-permenant hiatus at almost exactly the moment I discovered them. Which just figures, really. Fairly seminal figures in the indie scene of the 90s, they traded in fairly intense jagged chunks of rock (their name was taken from the Mission Of Burma album) with sweet pop nougat centres. Prolific in their time, (five full length records and numerous EPs over the course of seven years), I thought they really hit their stride with 1996’s Secret Swingers and much prefer listening to their later stuff over the earlier, rougher material. The band was very much a family affair featuring three Baluyut brothers in their lineup at various times throughout their career in addition to constant bassist and vocalist Fontaine Toups. While they’ve all gone on to concentrate on other projects, they still reunite as Versus every once in a while for special one-off live shows. Odds of a new record or proper tour, however, are slim to none.

Despite the dismantling of Versus, there’s still some very good music coming from the extended family. In 2004 +/-, featuring James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos from the parent band, released You Are Here, their second album of hybrid laptop and guitar pop. I haven’t heard it, but their debut record was quite good and they put on an incendiary live show. Given the success of similar genre artists like The Postal Service and The Notwist, +/- should be bigger than they are. Primary Versus singer/songwriter Richard Baluyut continues to put out music as Whysall Lane – I’ve never heard any of this stuff, so I can’t comment on it. Same goes for Ed Baluyut’s The Pacific Ocean. Finally, Fontaine Toups has gone through a few side projects but is currently concentrating on The Fontaine Toups, which brings the power-pop tendancies of her Versus material to the fore. What I’ve heard is actually as good or better than her contributions to her old band, and that’s saying something. Their self-titled debut record came out this year on Teenbeat.

The Versus link up at the top has links to sample music all over the web, if you’re interested. And you should be. Versus were damn good.

The two new Bright Eyes records have titles – Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning will be in stores sometime in January. I am assuming the former is the rock record and the latter is the country record. How very Osmond of them.

Steve Earle tells Rolling Stone that he and George W Bush have more in common than just being Texan.

Salon’s Scott Cohen recalls being a poetry class with Jeff Buckley shortly before his death and offers a scan of one of Jeff’s poems. Both of the last couple links came from Zap.

The Von Bondies and their new replacement bassist will be at the Mod Club October 6.

Filed under “sorta neat news of interest mainly to me”, a long-lost Lake Holiday track has surfaced on a compilation from Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. Happy Happy Birthday To Me Volume 3 is limited to 500 copies and features a whole host of bands I’ve never heard of, so we’re in appropriate company. The track, “Awake Too Long”, is pretty old – 3/5 of the lineup on that song are no longer in the band – and the recording is anything but precise but I’ve always liked the recording anyway (though I think my guitar should be a touch louder… gee, never heard that one before). Hell, it even got played on Australian college radio once. Seriously. But this is exciting for me as this is the first recording that I’ve played on that’s been pressed as a real CD (not a CD-R). Baby steps, man. Baby steps.

Lake Holiday – “Awake Too Long”

One of my bike’s brake cables snapped on the way to work this morning. That made things more interesting.

np – Rilo Kiley / More Adventurous

By : Frank Yang at 8:41 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. anne says:

    you can get the versus show from the recent mergefest at

    that is, you can if bit torrent and flac files are your thing.

  2. solace says:

    Bright Eyes sucks my nuts.


  3. sam says:

    george w bush is not a texan. he was born in new england somewhere, wasn’t he? connecticut(sp?), mass, or new hampshire, i think. please let this myth die now. thank you :)

  4. pinder says:

    about half of "You Are Here" is really good. the other half, not so much

  5. Five Seventeen says:

    How can you make mention of this without listing the Teenbeat MP3 of the week? that often hosts rare tracks from all of the Versus related bands… Hell, you even host it. http://…/

  6. mike says:

    Funny thing, I was thinking of posting a link to the Versus torrents, which actually Largehearted Boy posted several days back…Versus were and are a seminal band for me because my parents are Filipino and Versus were the first band of Filipino heritage that validated my musical interests…before them I hadn’t met one ‘flip’ who was into indie music. I’ve caught them a couple of times live and +/- once. Just bought a used copy of their "Dead Leaves" CD compilation which for the longest time I had had only on vinyl. Their "Ear of the Dragon" tour back in the mid-90’s [with other bands with asian members like Seam] was actually my first ‘club’ concert I had ever been to. They are awesome!

  7. Scott says:

    I got lucky and witnessed the Versus show here a month ago at Mergefest. It was unbelievable …