I’ve blogged before about the great Boston indie rock group Prickly, who released a handful of contributions to various compilations and one album on Harriet Records (the very tall and thoughtful impresario behind which is now a dean, and maybe always was..) I like the description from this site:
Prickly is a soft-spoken intricate little union between four people who have never visited my kitchen but seem welcome any time.
One of the guys from Prickly worked at The Million-Year Picnic in Harvard Square and would give a copy of Prickly’s cassette-only demo, 14 Songs, to anyone who asked. I got one. On the front there’s a drawing of an angry gnome-like man with a hat, highlighted with yellow marker.
I recently learned how to use Audacity to transfer cassette tapes to .mp3. Which means I can now present to you — with the permission of singer Collin Oberndorf, the only member of Prickly I was able to track down — what I believe to be the only digital copy of 14 Songs in existence. Download it here. The sound quality isn’t great, but I think it’s as good as I can get out of this 15-year-old cassette. And the music, a kind of quietly roaring superimposition of soprano harmonies, NZ guitar, and ambient noise, still sounds great to me. That description doesn’t make it sound very twee, but it is. Here is the always on-point Glenn McDonald on one of the best tracks, “Fashion Sense of Famous Monsters of Filmland”:
I think I’ve got everything Prickly did now, three singles, one CD EP and a few stray compilation tracks. This 1995 disk is actually the earliest single, as best I can tell self-released. The prize, in my opinion, is the title track, a hauntingly compassionate Frankenstein slow-dance (to go with Too Much Joy’s rousing “Pride of Frankenstein”, perhaps), intertwining traces of the Velvet Underground, Buffalo Tom and Salem 66. “Phonebill” and “Spotty Dog” are faster, but less dramatic, the contrast between the band’s swirling drive and Collin Oberndorf’s weightless voice less unnerving. 45, black. Strange cartoon art.
My favorite song here is “The Lonely Passion of Joey Heatherton.” You can hear a clean recording of the song as covered by Shumai here: but I much prefer Prickly’s version, with no keyboards, just a lot of strumming and a young woman singing at the top of her range — in a way that sounds more like asserting — “I can’t dance at your thousand dollar wedding….”
- The Lonely Passion of Joey Heatherton
- Hedgeclipping Song
- Stunt Double
- Good Bison Bad Bison
- Fashion Sense of Famous Monsters of Filmland
- Spotty Dog
- Sposeta Be A Funeral
- Gordon’s Gone
- The Intriguing One-Finger Melody