Rummage sales are still the best place for bargain-besotted crate diggers to find that rare local disc that nobody else seems to have for sale ... at least, if you only want to find it for cheap, and are willing to potentially wait years and years and years before one dislodges from some magical dusty box.
Alternately, those willing to perhaps pony up more cash for elusive local items now have a chance to turn up want-list items online somewhere, though for older records diligent searching of online corners is still needed. In some ways, that makes the virtual and real world hunting parties the same, only one is fighting the entire world's population of record nerds rather than just the folks in town who seemingly beat you to all the sales, every time, without fail -- you know who you are.
Both of today's items were found at rummage sales this summer and are relatively local. The fact that neither were a dollar renders my rambling introduction halfway moot. Read on for why!
Zebras/E=MC Hammer: Parasitic Clones Under the Strong Arm of the Robotic Machine/Hurns (the first)
While it may seem strange to buy what is essentially a new release at a yard sale, in this case it makes a bit of sense: The sale was being held by a member of Zebras, so the band apparently still has a few LPs in the merch case. I always prefer to pick up items directly from the band when possible, so it was a happy coincidence that I stumbled into his yard.
The album is a split with Milwaukee's imaginatively-named E=MC Hammer. Since I've managed to miss many, many shows by both bands due to a combination of other commitments and laziness, I'm glad I managed to snag an LP before the limited run is sold out. Zebras sounds sort of like if The Lost Sounds were more heavily influenced by speed metal and Devo, a sonic combination that Zebras awesomely claim for their own. (The liner notes on the E side point out the Devo comparison hilariously repeatedly, enough times that there's probably an inside joke about reviewers mentioning Devo. If so, score a point for E.). E=MC Hammer is a crazy blend of bass and drums, experimental style. There's no use in me trying to describe it. Just support your local artists, buy the album and find out for yourself.
Zebras' drummer recently retired from the band (already minus the bass player from an earlier lineup) so they haven't been playing shows lately. However, they will take the stage with some assistance from IfIHadaHiFi members for a show at the Project Lodge on Thursday, August 19. (Sector Five/Secret Records/FTAM, 2009)
The Burgundy Five: Meet the Burgundy Five
This LP just turned up Friday, and is a prime example of a dollar record that turns out to not be a dollar; the person collecting money didn't make change correctly and I wasn't paying close enough attention! Live and learn. Since this is a Cuca album I don't feel too bad, because I won't be likely to see another one for awhile.
The Burgundy Five was a folk group formed by Viroqua High School students. The liner notes detail their then-current college studies at various University of Wisconsin campuses (and one defector at St. Olaf College in Minnesota), so they must have continued performing somehow while they were scattered during college. Searching Google for the band name turns up no information, nor does the usually reliable search by record number -- though, in an inadvertent nod to Cuca's sometimes haphazard numbering system, this album includes different catalog numbers on the cover and the LP itself! The album was issued on the subsidiary label Sara, which at times was used for custom pressings, so perhaps that's the story in this case.
As far as the music, it's well sung and played acoustic folk material, including both traditionals and more modern songs such as "Puff (The Magic Dragon)." There's also an interesting version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (mistitled on the sleeve!) with a spoken word break. The group gets points for the somewhat novel inclusion of bongos, played by Carl Gulbrandsen. Judging by the picture on the album jacket, this is quite possibly the same Mr. Gulbrandsen who is currently managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Unfortunately, the sound quality is very low-fi by Cuca's usually ok standards -- though despite the fact that it sounds like it was recorded on wet cardboard, the stereo mix is not bad. (Sara, probably mid-1960s)