Plush - Three-Quarters Blind Eyes (1994)
Did you have a good Record Store Day? Mine was okay. Showed up late enough to the Reckless Records on Broadway to be worried about the massive line of people being a sign that the "exclusive releases" that I went over there for would be all gone but early enough to be reminded that the shit I wanted is hardly even in demand compared to a lot of the stuff that was being sought out (a limited edition Against Me! single, for instance.) Two minutes after the place opened, more specifically. Scored a reasonably priced double vinyl copy of one of the greatest collections of music known to man, Arthur Russell's Calling Out of Context, in addition to an unreasonably priced white vinyl copy of another one of the greatest collections of music known to man, Sonic Youth's Confusion Is Sex (the first and only SY album I have ever owned! Roughly halfway through to owning everything they've done that's actually worth listening to, as well.) And last but not least, a splendid LP/cassette package of Kurt Vile's previously out of print God Is Saying This To You..., one of the best things I heard last year. Also ended up with a dollar bin CD copy of Eggs Teenbeat 96 Exploder by Eggs thanks to the generous fellow who I was lucky enough to stand around with. Later at Permanent Records, I finally bought the Puerto Rico Flowers 12" and the awfully fucking essential Harry Pussy compilation CD You'll Never Play This Town Again. That's five must have recordings that I needed to obtain sooner or later. And I did. Today. They're covered and I can move on to the rest of my infinite wishlist. And that's not even mentioning the free "Light My Fire" 7" with the exact same song on both sides! Considered splitting this in two and throwing it on the ground but decided that an embarrassingly clean gent like me could use some dust to wipe off every now and then.
Besides spending money and walking an unnecessary amount, I also managed to catch a few in-stores. Outside the Broadway Reckless, I noticed a four o'clock P.M. performance from "Liam Hayes & Plush" at the Milwaukee location listed on a flier. I think it took me a few seconds to even make the connection. "Liam Hayes & Plush as in... the 'band' Plush fronted by that guy Liam Hayes?" Seeing the name written in that way was jarring... what can I say. It's usually just "Plush." Maybe it was listed on the store's website all along and my mind glanced over it for this very reason? That had to be the case, as my second thought, then, was "Shit! Plush is playing for free! What do you know, a band that I'm somewhat interested in seeing is gonna be doing one of these in-stores. Well." And so I ended up in yet another Reckless location by four o'clock.
Plush's recordings are elaborate affairs. Do you remember when everyone in the Chicago music scene was making a big deal about how Hayes's second LP was taking years and far too much money and studio time to complete? And then it was only available in Japan? Of course you don't. Unless you spent the first few years of the 21st century as an internet savvy music fan rubbing his or her dick all over ILX and downloading the This Heat discography on dialup, you most certainly do not give a shit about this guy or his music. Which is great because it means that I have an easier time getting a spot where I can stand up front. Thanks.
Plush's recordings are elaborate affairs. And so I was surprised to enter the store and realize that the only non-Liam Hayes musicians that the tiny "stage" (there's a first for an in-store!) had room for were the bassist and drummer who were already chilling up there. Two black guys who were probably in their 50s. Maybe even 60s. What are they doing hanging out with such a goofily dressed skinny frizzy haired white dude who has forged a career penning '60s/'70s orchestral pop throwback tunes and receiving props from MOJO Magazine? I don't know. The bassist was reading off of charts and the drummer fucked up a couple endings so I'm going to assume that they learned the songs about an hour before. And so it was a charmingly awkward but still enjoyable six song set. Liam played a telecaster through an ultra vintage looking Brownface Fender Vibrolux. No distortion, no effects. I dug the tone and rhythm guitarwork. Decent voice on this guy, too. Perfect for the kind of music he goes for, I would say.
And what does the music sound like, then? I pretty much summed it up back there. '60s, '70s, Brian Wilson, Harry Nilsson, George Harrison. Liam Hayes introduced himself to the world with this single released on Drag City back in the mid '90s. Both the songs are fairly slow, about the speed at which you're used to hearing Nick Mason play drum fills. That kind of slow. The floaty drifting in the clouds while listening to "The Porpoise Song" kind of slow. Good production, with tambourine, guitar, some strings and a horn or two. You get the idea. I probably would have been pretty excited about this if I were an indie rock fan in 1994 waiting around for all that fruity Elephant 6 shit to become the talk of the town. Both songs are pretty decent. I might like the second one better. Who knows. There's an instrumental version of that one, too, and it's pleasant. Whatever.
Rating: Pretty okay stuff! This guy was in High Fidelity, apparently. Probably should have referenced that while I was talking about record stores, eh???
1. "Three-Quarters Blind Eyes"
2. "Found A Little Baby"
3. "Found A Little Baby (Instrumental)"