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THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 biography
A Cisco-based experimental rock combo THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 (named after a group of hick armchair philosophers, TFUL282 for short), founded by Anne EICKELBERG, Brian HAGEMAN, and Mark DAVIES in 1986, had gigged and sessioned just like a commune crammed into one bedroom apartment in El Cerrito. In the following year, after their moving Oakland, Paul BERGEMANN and Hugh SWARTS joined the band and appeared on their first stage at the Gilman Street Project. In collaboration with a producer Greg FREEMAN, they released their debut cassette "Wormed By Leonard" in 1988, and their first vinyl "Tangle" in 1989, via their own label Thwart Productions.

1990 was another memorial year for them - Jay PAGET replaced Paul as a drummer, they went on the first nationwide tour in the summer, and made a contract with Matador Records in New York. Whilst touring around US (with Sun City Girls or so), they released "Lovelyville" (1991) and "Mother Of All Saints" (1992) via Matador Records. Gone on a tour to Europe in 1994 or joined Arena tour as a support act in 1995, they have released some LPs, EPs, compilations, or reissued albums until 2001. Their newest album (as of April, 2012) is "Bob Dinners And Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche" released in 2001.

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Strangers From the UniverseStrangers From the Universe
Matador Records 1994
Audio CD$69.21
$5.07 (used)
TangleTangle
Caroline Distribution 1994
Audio CD$249.94
$6.49 (used)
Mother of All SaintsMother of All Saints
Matador Records 1994
Audio CD$50.85
$6.12 (used)
LovelyvilleLovelyville
Matador Records/Ada 1991
Audio CD$194.94
$18.99 (used)
Funeral PuddingFuneral Pudding
Ajax 1995
Audio CD$10.99
$5.00 (used)
I Hope It LandsI Hope It Lands
Communion Records 1996
Audio CD$11.71
$3.92 (used)
Wormed By LeonardWormed By Leonard
Thwart Records 1995
Audio CD$16.20
$7.29 (used)
Bob Dinners and Larry Noodles present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity AvalancheBob Dinners and Larry Noodles present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche
Communion Records 2001
Audio CD$8.93
$2.27 (used)
Admonishing the BishopsAdmonishing the Bishops
EP
Matador Records 1994
Audio CD$24.67
$2.47 (used)
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THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Wormed By Leonard
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
Tangle
1989
3.83 | 3 ratings
Lovelyville
1991
4.05 | 3 ratings
Mother Of All Saints
1992
4.95 | 2 ratings
Strangers From The Universe
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
Porcelain Entertainments
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
I Hope It Lands
1996
4.00 | 1 ratings
Bob Dinners And Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche
2001

THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
TFUL282
1995

THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bob Dinners And Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche by THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Bob Dinners And Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
4 stars Between 1988's Worned By Leonard and 1996's I Hope it Lands, TFUL282 were quite productive, putting out about an album a year. Though they never put out a bad record, I had been somewhat disappointed by Lands, and when the band failed to put anything else out for the next few years I sadly accepted that maybe they'd hit their wall and moved on. So I was pleasantly surprised when this bizarrely titled album appeared out of nowhere in 2001, and exceeded my expectations, even considering their usual high level of quality.

As a quick introduction for those unfamiliar with this band, they were a five-piece band from the 1990s that seemed a part of the "indie" or "college rock" scene, but were so original and avant-garde oriented that they really didn't sit well in anyone's company, save maybe extreme weirdos like the Sun City Girls (with whom they occasionally toured). Still, they're essentially a rock band, and if you like guitars you're in for a treat, because they have three of them, acting independently but together, creating strange interlocking riffs and dissonant chords that they somehow turn into hooks. They also tended to play a lot of additional random instruments like violins and trumpets and stuff. They all composed together, probably just sitting in a room together and saying, "let's see what it sounds like if we do this".

Back to the album at hand. It's pretty amazing, in that they managed to combine the virtues of their two best albums (Mother of All Saints and Strangers from the Universe) into a single album: the mad whimsy of the former paired with the clear recording and detailed arrangements of the latter. In fact, the first three songs, "Another Clip", "Sno Cone", and "Holy Ghost" are as gripping and complex as anything they've ever done. If the album had kept up this level of invention, it could have easily been their best album. All three are highly melodic, yet incorporate abrupt changes in mood and tempo, and make the most of the three guitars, squeezing several different sounds apiece out of them, crafting complex 3-6 minute progressive mini-epics. Unfortunately, the remainder of the album never quite hits those heights again, although there aren't any true duds on here either. "Everything's Impossible" is a delicate piece with chiming guitars and piano and gentle drum rolls. "You in a Movie" has interesting bits but suffers from repetition, "In the Stars I Can Sizzle Like a Battery" is nearly undone by an annoying vocal effect, but is a cool (albeit in a weird way) song apart from that. "El Cerrito" fleshes out a decent song first presented on Mother of All Saints. The album finishes strong with "The Barker", a multifaceted rocker like the opening cuts, and "He Keeps Himself Fed", a sludgy river of harmonized guitar fuzz, a pretty new guitar effect for them (also heard briefly in "You in a Movie"), before giving way to a lengthy, quiet closing section ending the album on a mysterious note.

Unfortunately, this ended up being their final album, but it ends their career on a high note. Not consistent across the board, but very well recorded, and featuring some of their strongest material. Avant rock fans who haven't heard them should give them a try, and this album wouldn't be a bad place to start - then move backwards.

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 Tangle by THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Tangle
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars The Thinking Fellers second album is an improvement over the sprawling, unfocused debut album, but the band's best days were still ahead. Here, there is a marked increase in the aggressiveness of their playing, taking fuller advantage of the Beefheartian possibilities a three-guitar front line provides. However, there are still too many songs that just aren't that memorable. Knowing the dizzy heights of creative madness this band would soon reach with their next three full length albums, I can't award this album more than three stars. But at its best, this album has moments you won't soon forget.

To begin with, "Sister Hell" is a fantastic opener, with its sinister yet comical shuffling riff and really cool shouted chorus. "Change Your Mind", my favorite track here, also pushes some funny buttons. The main section of the song resembles one of Beefheart's more normal instrumentals (e.g. Semi-Multicolored Caucasian), with a light, almost indifferent shuffle, accompanied by plaintively sung nonsense lyrics. And then the music stops suddenly, interrupted by a couple of unaccompanied lines of screamed lyrics that have me rolling on the floor every time. The song then enters another wacky (different) shuffle section, interrupted again by more screamed lyrics. DC al Coda, and we're done. One of the most bizarrely delightful wack jobs in their discography.

The remainder of the songs are good too, just not the creative melodic powerhouses that I'm accustomed to hearing from this band. They were still developing their writing skills at this point, though their ensemble sound is already gelling into something really original and exciting.

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 Strangers From The Universe by THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.95 | 2 ratings

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Strangers From The Universe
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

5 stars For a band notorious for wild flights of fancy and spontaneous bursts of inspiration, this album is uncharacteristically focused, intricately detailed, and consistently incredible. They have built on the successes of their prior album, Mother of All Saints, although the two albums sound worlds apart. Where MOAS was murky, druggy, and slightly mad, this album is clear as a bell, confident, and passionate. The songs are just as challenging, if not more so, and reveal new depths to their songwriting craft.

"My Pal the Tortoise" kicks things off with a friendly quirky pop vibe, building the song out of a series of dissonant guitar licks and a comical vocal. "Socket" brings out the twisted Magic Band guitar mazes, a variety of guitar sounds, and a rather surprising instrumental middle section. "Hundreds of Years" is a gentle tapestry of clean guitar lines supporting a tender vocal, but again, jarring surprises lurk within, including a dizzying section of trilling guitars giving the sensation of bees buzzing around. "Guillotine" is a droning funeral march, swelling into a thick fog of sound. "February" offers some really fluid guitar runs in an odd yet catchy song. "Cup of Dreams" is a woozy melanchoic shoegaze number with a Mellotron intro and oddly juxtaposing Residents-like vocals throughout. "The Operation" is a completely bizarre piece of creepiness, with several very dissonant clusters working together to make a compelling song. "The Piston and the Shaft" is the most normal song on here, a playfully mellow musing on the topic of sex and lust, with a stirring harmonized chorus that gives me chills. And finally, "Noble Experiment" acts as a lullabye for the human race, ending the album on a gentle yet sinister note.

Each of these songs are creatively written, flawlessly executed, and reveal new details on every listen. It's as perfect as this band got -- even the little instrumental interludes (the "Feller Filler") serve their roles well as little breathers between the uniformly outstanding main songs. Some may miss the psychotic messiness of Mother of All Saints, but I for one am glad the Fellers dropped a little bit of the whimsical craziness to concentrate their offbeat talents into one seamless knockout album. My highest recommendation.

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 Lovelyville by THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.83 | 3 ratings

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Lovelyville
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars Thinking Fellers' third album, this is where the band's eclectic ambition all comes into focus, and provides the template for even greater successes to follow. Songs typically establish an indie-rock riff pattern that you can follow, and then they... do things to it. Three guitars all dive- bombing each other, sending the songs in new directions just as you start to get comfortable. Still, this might be their most accessible album, in terms of what you'd be likely to hear on a college radio station. It's no accident that many of these songs rank among fans' favorites. I'd like to focus on one of them here.

My absolute favorite here, and possibly my favorite TFUL282 song of all, "Sinking Boats". A distant vocal shouted through a megaphone sits atop a thundering rhythm of guitars and drums, playing a simple riff punctuated by little clangy guitar licks. Two verses of this, then WHOA! the song is somewhere else entirely, a quiet foreboding section of throbbing bass and plucked guitar notes. A few measures of this, and then a loud, dissonant riff (probably handled by at least 2 guitars playing different things) comes in. This pattern is repeated a couple of more times, the song stops dead, and then back into the thundering rhythms of the first song before coming to an abrupt end. Total time, just under 5 minutes.

I'm not a bad writer by any means, but that last paragraph just doesn't describe the experience that well. It's hard to put into words. I think the experience can be summed up better by two thoughts that some to mind: "How do they make guitars sound like that?" and "What possessed them to write that?"

The album has several similarly "whoa" tracks, but also contains its fair share of "Feller Filler", little teeny random snippets of rehearsal tapes usually highlighting a unique sound they happened upon. These are fairly disposable, but they do give their albums their own special character. There's also a sequence of extra non-LP tracks at the end (collectively called "The Crowded Diaper", a name I absolutely love), which are basically throwaways.

My third favorite Fellers album, some of their finest music and the first full flowering of their genius.

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 Mother Of All Saints by THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.05 | 3 ratings

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Mother Of All Saints
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars This utterly unique band from San Francisco put out a nice collection of albums in the 1990s, forming a strange collision of Sonic Youth guitar experimentation, The Residents' affinity for weird sounds and voices, and the gnarly multi-guitar counterpoint of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. The band sports a three-guitar front line, any one of whom could pick up a mandolin, banjo, trumpet, kazoo, what have you, at any time. Each of the five band members contributes significantly to the writing and singing, though guitarists Brian Hageman and Mark Davies seem to take the lead vocal the majority of the time.

This is their fourth full-length album, and this is the band at their peak, or close to it. Over the course of their career as a band, they honed a concept that I will call Fellers' Law of Hook Dynamics: "Anything can be a hook if you repeat it enough times." This is similar to the Trout Mask Replica aesthetic, but the Thinking Fellers turn these little noise licks and atonal soundbites into bona-fide post-punk rock songs that are unique, memorable, and yes, pretty rockin' too.

This is probably the band's most sprawling, messy album, the most "damaged" and "out there" they ever got. As a result, as stunning as this album is, I cannot award it five stars because the sprawling nature of it does drag it down just a little bit. HOWEVER, the first 40 or so minutes of the album (tracks 1-12) undeniably contains the best sequence of songs this band ever wrote. "Gentleman's Lament" has the rollicking forward momentum of an avalanche of whirring guitars and drums, complemented by some very melodic, almost manic vocals. "Catcher" offers the same brisk tempo to a darker song. "Hornet's Heart" has a great vocal hook and a woozy vocal, with a pounding rhythm. "Star Trek" is an aggressive riffing instrumental with odd meters. "Hive" is essentially a ballad, with a quiet echoey atmosphere, chiming guitars, and a lovely vocal about bees by Mark Davies. "Tell Me" is a favorite of mine, beginning fairly normally, but erupting unexpectedly into a middle section of pure noise, then into a furious rifferama at the end. This section of the album closes with "Infection", a late-night fuzzy drone number with quietly chugging acoustic guitar and buzzing violin, which eventually fades away, feeling like the conclusion to the best Velvet Underground album that never was......

But you're not off the hook yet. What follows is what is commonly known among fans as "Feller Filler". Feller Filler occurs on each of their albums, usually short little interludes taken from lo-fi rehearsal jams. Fans are pretty unanimous in the opinion that these little pieces are by no means their best works, but they do seem to give their albums their unique character, and they give the listener a glimpse into the creative process - the trial and error that eventually results in the wonderful fully developed pieces. On a typical album, there will be a few of these numbers scattered across the album. On this album, there are about 5 relatively lengthy ones right in a row, taking up about 15 minutes. This effectively takes the album abruptly out of avant-rock bliss and straight into an alternate universe of sinister noise, like a long unused jam from the Trout Mask Replica sessions or something.

The album concludes with a rather quiet, cerebral group of songs that maintain the random, focus-less mood of the prior section, but with smoother pieces. "Raymond H", the closest thing to an classic prog number on the album, sits uneasily among this group, with prominent banjo giving it a Camper Van Beethoven-in-a-prog-mood kind of sound. The other pieces, like "Cistern", "1" Tall", and "El Cerrito" are all brooding, ominous, and just a bit confused.

"Mother of All Saints" is a "trip" record, a strange linear trip with two sudden changes in trajectory. It's a long album, and it's long forays into weirdness rob it just a wee bit of its overall consistency, but in the end this album undeniably ranks up there with their best, in a catalog that has very few low spots.

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