Friday, October 24, 2014

Superchunk + Eleanor Friedberger - Live in NYC 7"


Merge (2014)

This is a nice little novelty record, but it's certainly nothing essential.  2 live tracks featuring Superchunk along with Eleanor Friedberger.  It was recorded at the Bowery Ballroom in 2013, but the 7" itself was sold at Merge Records 25th anniversary bash this past year.  I was not at said bash, so I'm thankful that they put the leftovers for sale up on the Merge website.

The first song on here is a cover of the Ramones "Oh Oh I Love Her So" and the 2nd is a Patti Smith number "Free Money."  Neither one of these are really going to blow your socks off.  Recording quality is good and the band is tight as ever, but at the end of the day they're just cover songs.

Being the crazy Superchunk 7" collector that I am, it would have driven me all kinds of crazy if I didn't have this in my collection.  But it's really only something a completist like me would care all that much about.

Superchunk + Eleanor Friedberger - "Free Money" (Fan shot live video):

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Murmurs - Bound LP - Turquoise Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2014)

I've been looking forward to this album for a while.  I felt that Murmurs' debut was one of the most under praised albums of the last few years.  I'm not sure if folks will be dumb again this time out, but everyone should really pay attention to this album.  If you are looking for great, serious, but still melodic punk rock; this is the place.

It's impossible to write about Murmurs without name checking Jawbreaker.  No, Murmurs are not a carbon copy or anything close to that, but you can't ignore that this album certain shares the same sort of sonic space that Bivouac inhabits.  From the gruff vocals to the huge low tone guitar squall, you're just going to hear some Jawbreaker in this, and frankly I am totally fine with that.

The album starts off with a roar with "The Void."  The way the higher pitched backing vocals contrast with the darker tone of the song really makes it a standout.  From there it's just one incredible song after the next.  Not everything is in your face punk rock.  The band mixes things up so well, sprinkling in a few slower songs that really make the album dynamic from start to finish.

You're not going to find a guy who likes happy, upbeat, poppy rock and roll more than me.  But there are times where I want to listen to something darker and more powerful.  Murmurs absolutely scratches that itch and Bound is a can't miss top 10 of 2014 album.  You need this.

Murmurs - Bound:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unwound - Mkultra 7"


Kill Rock Stars (1993)

So, I've been on a real Unwound kick again ever since the Survival Knife record came out and Numero Group started their reissue series.  Despite Numero compiling all of the recorded output of this band into a few handy box sets, the record collector in me was itching to replace some of the old Unwound 7"s that I got rid of for some reason in my mid 20s.

I never had all of the Unwound 7"s as I was really only paying attention to them through The Future Of What back then, but I certainly had a few.  Now, I want them all.  I picked up a handful of used ones at the Green Noise distro recently, the first of which is Mkultra.  The two songs on here really display the extreme sides that Unwound was capable of.  "Mkultra" is a long, slow, brooding song.  The bass drags through the song, with sludgy guitar and drums coming along for the ride.  The vocals are harsh at times, but restrained at others.  I don't know that it's my favorite Unwound song, but it's still pretty neat.

B-side "Totality" is the complete opposite end of the Unwound spectrum.  Fast, loud, mostly instrumental with some occasional shouting here and there.  Again, is it the best Unwound song out there? No, but what a crazy contrast it provides to "MKultra."  It's a microcosm of the world Unwound lived in.  I loved this stuff when I was in high school, but ended up shelving it for a while.  It's nice to be able to go back and be as enthralled by them again as I was back then.

Unwound - "Mkultra":

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Your Pest Band - Time To Go LP


Snuffy Smiles (2014)

I'm not sure how many times I have to say it before everyone agrees, so I'll try again.  Snuffy Smiles is the best record label in the world.  They've been putting out non-stop hits since the early 90's and continue to blow my mind every single time they release a new record into the wild.  Case in point is their current poster child band, Your Pest Band.  Your Pest Band has been cranking out records at almost an alarming rate.  I kind of can't comprehend how they've put out so many great releases over the last couple of years, yet still manage to change up their sound and remain fresh and exciting.

I will admit to not being as completely in love with their last album, In Your Doom.  I felt they stretched out their sound a little to much and sacrificed some of the scrappy pop punk that I love.  Time To Go may be the band's masterpiece.  They still take chances, from the slow, boozy almost Replacements-esque opener "Time To Go" to the twangy guitar riffs on "Await For Something," this is not a band afraid to exploring a multitude of sounds.  However, these explorations are held together with excellent punked up pop songs; the kind that Snuffy Smiles has built their name on over the past few decades.

For some reason, my copy of this record is a test pressing.  I just bought from a distro so I guess it just got mixed into the regular records somehow.  I'm not really into collecting test pressings, so it doesn't really matter to me, but I guess some folks might consider this hitting the lottery in some capacity.  I'm just happy to have a copy of this amazing record spinning around on my turntable.

Your Pest Band - "Time To Go":

Your Pest Band - "You Were The Rebel":

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shallow Cuts - Storm Watch 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/100)


No Idea (2014)

As soon as this was being sold with the tag line 'featuring members of Dear Landlord' I was immediately on the No Idea website adding this 7" to my cart.  I love 2009's Dear Landlord record Dream Homes and have been waiting and waiting for a new album.  5 years on I get the feeling that's probably not happening, but if this 7" sounds anything like they did, it's a smart purchase.

Well, it's a mixed bag.  It's definitely very good, gruff, melodic punk rock.  It's has some of the darker elements of Dear Landlord, but it's just not quite in the same league.  If anything, Storm Watch is the victim of unrealistic expectations and when viewed as it's own release without trying to compare if to another band, it holds up pretty good.

It's 4 solid songs, but the best one is definitely "Calamine."  This is where the band really ramps things up energy wise.  It's got a fast poppy verse that blasts into a really hooky chorus.  But what really makes the song is the singalong breakdown right at the end.  Not taking away anything from the other 3, but if this song is any indication of what the band could achieve over the course of a full length, I'm almost as excited about it happening as I would be a new Dear Landlord.

Shallow Cuts - "SLC":

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Redd Kross / Vertical Scratchers - Split 7" - Pink Vinyl


Merge (2014)

Time to line up some new Merge Records 7" series releases.  First up on this split we've got Redd Kross.  A stalwart on the indie punk scene, and when they put out songs like "Leave It Where You Found It" it's easy to see why.  This one is just a smash hit.  Over pounding drums and an fuzzy guitar riff, the band lays down some great, borderline British Invasion style vocal melodies.  It's probably even better than anything on their last full length "Researching The Blues."  One of the highlights of the entire series so far.

On the flip side we have a band called Vertical Scratchers.  I can't say I've ever heard of them prior to getting this 7", but I am intrigued after listening to their contribution, "Jackie's Favorite."  It's a good, upbeat pop song.  The guitars have a heavy jangle factor and it's got a really catchy chorus.  That being said, the vocals are a little off-putting.  Whenever the chorus hits, the singer leaps in to this super high pitched falsetto.  We're talking Bee Gees high pitched.  I won't go so far to say it ruins the song, but it certainly makes me think twice about looking into any of this band's other releases.

I thought the last couple of singles from Merge were a little lackluster, but this one gets things back on track.  I'm still debating on whether or not I liked the Vertical Scratchers song enough to pursue more music by them, but I guess a quick hunt around the internet for some samples won't take up that much time.

I couldn't find the Vertical Scratchers song online anywhere, but someone did put the Redd Kross on up on YouTube.

Redd Kross - "Leave It Where You Found It":

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tim - German Engineering CD


Vital Cog (1998)

First off, it's a little weird writing about a band that is using your first name as their band name.  You end up writing in a way that feels kind of awkward, as if you're somehow writing about yourself in the third person.  Don't get confused though, Tim the band is full of energy, talent and great songs; so it's actually pretty easy to tell the difference between them and me.

I came across these guys from reading the Wilfully Obscure website.  That guy is just a treasure chest full of forgotten bands.  I'm not usually as on board when he dives into the 70's and 80's, but he's constantly unearthing gems from the 90's and it's really essential reading to discover new bands.  As far as Tim goes, I get the sense that they were just a couple of years too late.  1998 wasn't as kind to their brand of scrappy, upstart indie rock and I think the changing times (along with not being on a name label) is probably why they slipped through the cracks.  If you put this record out on Merge or Alias in 1995, I think you have a classic record on your hands.

Not that being on a bigger label would somehow make this record better.  It wouldn't, but more people likely would have heard how great it is.  Tim has combined the searing, scratchy guitar antics of Archers of Loaf and mixed it with the melodic, higher pitched vocals of Superchunk.  The resulting music is unquestionably influenced by 1990's Chapel Hill, but still manages to be unique and dynamic enough to stand up on its own.

This is one of the best new to me old albums I've picked up in ages.  Sadly, it doesn't look like it ever was put out on vinyl, but you can grab this CD used on amazon for a buck or two.  It'll be the best two dollars you spend, I promise you that. Check out the only clip of their songs I could find on Youtube below, but also know this is probably one of the weaker songs on the record and the rest is even better.

Tim - "Drawl":

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Aaron & The Burrs - Release The Bats 7"


UT (2014)

I've gotten a few things to review from UT records in the past, mainly the Space Wolves cassettes that are so good.  Being that they were cassettes, I couldn't get through the review without lamenting that they were not released on vinyl.  Well, UT records is back in my mailbox and this time the package was square instead of rectangular.  Thanks!

Aaron & The Burrs are not a band I had heard of before listening to this 7", but I sure hope to hear more from them in the future.  They're playing fun, breezy surf rock.  Akin to The Ventures or any one of the great surf bands of yore.  You've got the mild echo effect on the lead guitar.  The bass & drums providing a solid canvas to display the guitar gymnastics.  It's a tried and true formula, but one that works very well for the Burrs.

Lots of modern surf bands tend to muck things up with unneeded effects and noises crammed into their songs, but Release The Bats offers no trickery.  The only thing that they are serving up are short, sweet instrumental jams.  If anything, my only criticism is that there's only 2 songs and both clock in right around 2 minutes.  I would have been even happier if they crammed 2 more songs on this guy.  Regardless, UT records and Aaron & The Burrs on on to something with this 7" and I hope they both work together again to bring some more great music into the world.

Aaron & The Burrs - Release The Bats 7":

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dan Sartain - Crimson Guard LP - Pink Vinyl


Cass (2014)

I've taken pictures and reviewed other versions of this record in the past, so I'm not going to get too bogged down with describing the music.  All that really needs to be known is that these are some of my very favorite Dan Sartain songs.  They're early recordings of his and he originally released this the first version of this LP himself.  Several of the songs were picked up and put on his first Swami CD, Vs. The Serpientes.  Others were latter compiled onto the Sartain Family Legacy CD compilation, but this is how they originally were meant to be heard.

I'm not entirely positive of the circumstances on how this 2nd reissue came about.  It has completely different artwork than the original or even the prior Cass reissue.  It's housed in a plain black sleeve with a white piece of paper glued to the front.  It's on pink vinyl this time (Though I think it was actually pressed on mixed colored vinyl, so there could be a lot of different versions out there).  Lastly, like the original, it comes with a pair of 3D glasses, though this version doesn't have anything in 3D to look at with them.

You should go buy this record.  It's just one of my favorites and if the fact that this is the 3rd version of this LP I've added to my collection doesn't show how much I like this album, I'm not sure what else I could say to reinforce that.  Last check Dan was still selling these on his Bandcamp page.

Dan Sartain - Crimson Guard:

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Pale Faces - Guru 7" - Blue Vinyl


Punk Fox (2014)

Hey, it's another one of those rare instances where someone actually sends me a record to review. It's always pretty fun and exciting to get a mystery package in the mail like that.  This is actually the 2nd record I've gotten from the Punk Fox record label, which is surprising as I wasn't all that into the 1st release they sent me.  Well, it's still nice to be thought of, but unfortunately for me The Pale Faces is one of those records that I'm destined to never play again.

First off, if you look up this band online and end up on their Facebook page there's never ending talk of the 'collective' they're part of.  It's been my experience that people who refer to their friends as a collective are usually kind of pretentious .  I can't say that for sure about The Pale Faces and they may be super cool folks, but I can tell you that I don't really like their record.  

A-side "Guru" is built over a chugging guitar riff that goes nowhere, lots of "oooohs" instead of lyrics and the loudest mixed shaker egg you've every heard on a record in your entire life.  Geez, I can't even believe how loud they left that thing in the final mix, it's borderline absurd.  The B-side "Nature Calls" isn't much better.  This time they add a wacky organ sound to the mix and then play the guitar riff on top of it almost note for note.  Again, the song is repetitious and just does absolutely nothing for me.  Oh, it also comes with a DVD, but this isn't I Buy Way Too Many DVDs Dot Com and I have no motivation to see or hear any more of this band.

I don't like writing bad reviews and I feel especially guilty when it's not something I bought on my own, but someone sending me the record because they think I'll like it.  That being said, I just don't like The Pale Faces.  Hopefully the next time Punk Fox sends me a record I'll be more into it.  If they ever send me anything again.

The Pale Faces - "Guru":

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hospital Job - The Believer LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)


It's Alive / Insubordination (2014)

I like this record a lot more than it's probably going to seem based on this review.  So I'll try to get the negatives out of the way first and then extoll the positives about The Believer.  I hate the 1st song on the album "Tell Me Four Things About Yourself." Just hate it.  Unfortunately it's the lead off track and whenever I listen to the record, it starts off in a bad place and has to work to get me back into it.  I'm not sure what it is about this song that drives me so nuts.  It's probably the endless repeating of the lyrics "Tell me four things about yourself / Three of them true."  I assume that's probably a reference to one of those grammar school 'truth-or-dare' type games, but it just seems so nonsensical to me.  Anyway skip the first song.

What you're left with is actually a very strong album of big hook, crunchy guitar, punked up pop.  The songs tend to be upper mid tempo and as a result it reminds a lot of some of the big guitar bands that were getting signed up by major labels in the mid 90's.  I'm positive I said this when I wrote about their last album, but I always hear a lot of Fig Dish in the songs.  That's absolutely a compliment as I feel Fig Dish just never go their due.

From time to time, things get a little too Blink 182-ish for me, but those times are fleeting and I really like the vast majority of this record.  It's got great energy on songs like "Confusing Times."  Hospital Job can successfully pull of a slower song without it getting boring or dragging down the record like they do on "The Believer."  Though I think of everything on the album, I'm most drawn to the song "Nail Houses."  It's just such a great pop song with a killer sing along chorus that has all of those nice backing vocals that get me bopping around.

So in summation, this is actually a really great record and one worth picking up.  Maybe that first song won't bug you as much as it bugs me.  But I think I'm probably just going to put down the needle a half an inch further into the record when I play this guy.

Hospital Job - The Believer:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So Cow - The Long Con LP - White Vinyl (/150)


Goner (2014)

So Cow is one of those bands that I've heard friends chattering about for a while now.  For one reason or another I had just never gotten around to picking up any of their records.  Even though I buy way too many records, I don't have enough money to buy every record.  Anyway, when I started hearing about this new release of theirs and how it was even poppier and cleaner than their past records, I decided it was time to take the plunge.  Luckily, I decided that earlier enough to still snag the limited white vinyl version.

If there was one band that So Cow really reminds me of on The Long Con it's W.H. Walker.  Both bands have the same jangle-y guitar up front that bursts into fuzz at just the right moments.  Plus both bands sound like they're having a hell of a fun time recording their albums.  The bouncy rhythm provide an electric foundation to pile on all sorts of upbeat vocals and guitar pyrotechnics.  The whole album is just full of song after song of incredibly catchy hits and I just can't help but think that if any of their prior albums are even half as fun as The Long Con, I've been depriving myself of some great tunes.

I'm really glad I pulled the trigger on So Cow.  I could have just as easily kept putting them off, but then I would have absolutely missed out of one of 2014's best. 

So Cow - "Science Fiction":

So Cow - "Barry Richardson":

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Capitalist Kids - At A Loss LP - Red Vinyl (/100)


It's Alive / Toxic Pop / Rad Girlfriend (2014)

At A Loss is one of the albums that I was looking forward to the most this year.  Ever since 2012's double shot of the Sarah 7" and the Lessons On Love, Sharing and Hygiene LP, The Capitalist Kids have been the standard that I've held every pop punk band up to.  They've got the Mr. T Experience catchy tunes with smart lyrics thing down pat.  This is evident from the opening moments of the first song on the album "Not '95."  It's essentially the Capitalist Kids' version of MTX's "Dumb Little Band." Self deprecating and funny, but just crammed full of melody and warm fuzzy guitar.

The rest of the album keeps this high standard of quality as you move through it.  There's songs about girls, songs about overpopulation, songs about girls, songs about racism, songs about girls, songs about capital punishment and songs about girls.  There's a pretty solid dose of left leaning politics here if the song topics don't clue you in, but they're tackled in an upbeat, humorous way. They're also addressed in a way that's that's still factual and raises some pretty good points.  It probably helps that I agree with most of their messages going into the album, but I still think they manage to deal with everything without sounding condescending or preachy.

Most importantly the tunes are there.  So even if you get to a song called "Comin' Up Milhouse," it doesn't matter if you're like me and don't get whatever Simpsons reference they're talking about, the song is still great.  If I had to compare the two, I probably like Lessons on Love, Sharing and Hygiene slightly better, but At A Loss, is right up there and pretty darn close to being just as good as that last phenomenal album.  Absolutely recommended.

The Capitalist Kids - At A Loss:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Negative Scanner - Ambitious People 7" - Brown Vinyl (/500)


Trouble In Mind (2014)

I've probably been a little harsh on Trouble In Mind records lately.  Though I certainly don't think that I've given too many of their recent 7"s what I would call bad reviews, I have been lamenting that they've been moving towards bands that I'm just not as into.  While I can appreciate diverse music and people having different tastes than me, it doesn't really change the fact that I've just been lukewarm on their recent flurry of psych tinged bands.  I am still committed to my goal of having the colored vinyl versions of their first 50 singles, but when you get something like Negative Scanner, you start to rethink if you really want to put an arbitrary cap on things.

Negative Scanner is punk rock.  No frills, downstroke heavy, Wipers with female vocals sounding punk rock.  It's so refreshing and honest.  There's a real trend these days with bands adding tons of extra layers of sound to their music and often time that either clutters things up or perhaps masks the band's shortcomings.  Negative Scanner lays it all on the line without any extra gimmicks.  From the pounding guitar of "Ambitious People" to the short, sweet and to the point "Evening News," this is rock and roll distilled to its most basic and enjoyable form.

This is why I buy all Trouble In Mind singles.  Even if I've never heard of the band, there's usually a pretty good chance I may discover something new.  And the collection of Trouble In Mind colored 7"s grows once again.

Negative Scanner - "Ambitious People":

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Lees Of Memory - Sisyphus Says LP - Red/Blue Starburst Vinyl (/100)


Side One Dummy (2014)

The recent Superdrag vinyl reissues really got me primed for the debut full length from The Lees Of Memory.  Featuring both John Davis and Brandon Fisher from Superdrag, I was pretty confident this would be a killer record.  Though I missed out on their initial limited 7", I was first in line for the LP and managed to snag the very cool looking blue/red starburst vinyl, limited to just 100 copies.  Musically, however, this album is something of a mixed bag.

It boils down to this.  The good songs are really good, but the bad songs are pretty bad.  I'll expand on that a bit.  This album is way too long.  Clocking in at over 60 minutes and featuring NINE songs that are more than 5 minutes long, this record could have used some serious editing.  Sure, when the band is relatively upbeat and rocking, songs like "Little Fallen Star" and "Open Your Arms" fly by enjoyably.  But The Lees Of Memory get so bogged down in atmospheric swooshes and guitar layering that by the time I get to the seventh minute of "Reenactor," I'm just done.

I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of really long songs or really long albums.  35-45 minutes has always pretty much been my sweet spot.  There's nothing inherently bad about this Lees Of Memory album, it's just that it's too boring in places to be this long and still be enjoyable.  I wouldn't write them off completely though.  When this record shines, it does really shine.  The band just needs to tighten things up a bit and not get so lost in sonic nonsense.

The Lees Of Memory - Sisyphus Says LP:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wilson Pickett - The Exciting Wilson Pickett LP


4 Men With Beards (2006, Reissue)

Wilson Pickett has long been one of my absolute favorite musicians.  I was first clued into his music through The Blues Brothers.  They were the starting point of so much of the music I would end up listening to.  But also, my dad had the Wilson Pickett song "Funky Broadway" on a mix tape that he used to play when I was a kid.  I just feel like his music has always been around.  I have a few Wilson Pickett CDs and Best of's, but this is the first piece of wax I've picked up.

And picking it up was easy as it was part of a heavy reduction sale blowout thing that Insound was doing.  I think it only ended up being $7, so I can forgive the slightly bent corner on the cover.  The record sounds great as this is obviously a high quality reissue and the packaging is sturdy and sharp.  Not for nothing, I really miss album covers like this.  Bands need to bring this style back again.  It just looks so classic.

As far as the music goes, you just don't get much better in the 60's soul department than Wilson Pickett.  The lead off track "Land Of 1000 Dances" is so phenomenally good, I based all of the music at my wedding off of that one song.  Everything had to tie back to the mood it set.  But this is not a one song album.  Each and every track on here is a smash hit from "634-5789" to "In The Midnight Hour," Pickett is just untouchable.  I'm definitely thrilled to have this in the collection and I'm absolutely going to be hunting down deals on the rest of his records.  They all deserve a home.

Wilson Pickett - "Land Of 1000 Dances":

Wilson Pickett - "In The Midnight Hour":

Monday, September 29, 2014

Superdrag - Head Trip In Every Key - Clear Vinyl (/1500)


Side One Dummy (2014)

I consider myself fortunate that so many 90's albums that I like are being reissued on vinyl for the first time these last few years.  The mid 90's were that stretch of time where lots of bands ended up on major labels that you wouldn't expect, and then those major labels never produced vinyl versions.  After hearing about how Sony pretty much held the Ultimate Fakebook record hostage from an indie that wanted to release it on vinyl (making that indie attempt a Kickstarter with such a ludicrously high goal; it was never actually going to get funded), it's nice to see that Elektra is playing nice with Side One Dummy so I can have these Superdrag records on vinyl.  Though let's be clear, I wont be satisfied until someone releases the Alligator Gun record 100percentfreak on vinyl.  It's a crime no one has stepped up to the plate.

While I loved Superdrag's debut, Regretfully Yours, I can't say that I really ever spent the same amount of time with Head Trip In Every Key.  My buddy Alan really liked it, but for some reason I just never listened to it all that much.  Hearing it again all these years later is pretty crazy.  It really is a great record.  It's definitely not as instantly catchy as regretfully yours, but that's not to say that this record doesn't have its share of hooks.  Head Trip In Every Key is a progression forward and a more mature sounding album, but Superdrag never gives up on what brought them to the table; big choruses and great guitar work.

The 2 x LP gatefold packaging came out great.  Side One Dummy did a really stellar job bringing this record to vinyl for the first time.  It's limited, but not ridiculously so.  Still, if you have interest in this, you may want to grab it sooner than later.

Superdrag - "I'm Expanding My Mind":

Superdrag - "Do The Vampire":

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pool Party - Born To Lose 7"


It's Alive (2014)

I didn't actually order this 7", but it was thrown in with a batch of LPs I got from It's Alive Records.  I'm still working my way through those LPs, but I figured I'd give this freebee a spin to see how it is.  It's not all that good really.

I like pop punk, I really do.  It's not cool, it's a dinosaur of another era, but it's always been something that I like.  That being said, I don't like boring generic pop punk.  You need to be doing something interesting to keep me hooked.  Super clever lyrics, good production, interesting riffs...these are all things that I like.  Sadly, Pool Party employs none of them.

I knew from the moment the first song "Born To Lose" started up that this was probably going to be average since they immediately break into the same chord progression used on the Squirtgun song "Social" and about ten thousand other songs.  We then move on through 4 songs worth of 3 chord uninspired pop punk.  The lyrics aren't so good either.  I think they're trying to be witty; but it's not really working out.

This is a rare misstep for It's Alive record for me.  I'm digging all of the LPs I ordered and going back many years I've bought an awful lot of records from them.  But Pool Party is destined to be filed away and either not listened to again or sent away to someone else if I end up mailing out some records.

Pool Party - Born To Lose 7":

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Failures' Union - Tethering LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2014)

As I've said a lot lately, you can really count on a few labels and Dead Broke is absolutely one of them.  Even the band appears to have been around for a bit, this record is my first time hearing Failures' Union and I picked it up pretty much exclusively because I tend to buy just about everything Dead Broke releases (Except for the occasional yell-y/shout-y record).

Right away I'm reminded of the band Nude Beach, maybe with not quite as pronounced of a Tom Petty influence.  But this is good, honest, somewhat rootsy pop rock.  A lot of people like to call Leatherface a working man's punk band and while I certainly wouldn't say that Failures' Union is making similar music, I get that same sort of vibe from them.  This is music for the everyman, just solid guitar interplay and passionate, clear vocals ringing through each song.

It's a great listen and one that makes me curious about the band's other records.  I may have to start digging backwards to see what else these guys have come up with.  Just more records to add to the never ending list of things to buy I guess.

Failures' Union - Tethering:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Blind Shake - Seriousness LP - Red Vinyl


Learning Curve (2011)

Depending on when you discover a band for the first time, it can often be a dangerous thing delving further back into their discography.  Sometimes you uncover some real greatness, but at other times you're just left digging through some half baked records by a band that just hadn't put the pieces together quite yet.  I first heard of The Blind Shake when my buddy @swamipat made me buy the Garbage On Glue 7" while we were record shopping in Chicago.  Not only did I love that, but their next full length Key To A False Door was one of my favorite records of last year.

So, now begins the march backwards through their catalog, starting with their 2011 LP Seriousness.  While I'm partial to Key To A False Door, this record is another ripper.  The band has a way of channeling noisy chaos into these perfect songs.  They're deceptively catchy, but the thing that really shines through is their energy.  I just really believe they love cranking out this mess.  

Like the band Heavy Times, on the surface it doesn't really make sense why I like The Blind Shake as much as I do.  They're way more noisy and blown out than I typically go for, but there's something uniquely special about these guys that just makes me obsessed with their records.  With another new album coming out this year on Goner and a couple of more old records to go through, it looks like I've got some work to do to get caught up.

The Blind Shake - Seriousness:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beck - Looking For A Sign 7"


Fonograf (2014)

This is a Beck record that I never thought I was going to get.  It was originally only sold at the merch booth of a tour he did of Australia in 2012.  Since that tour, I've yet to see one on the secondary market.  I'm sure it's been sold, but I haven't seen it.  I just figured it was one that I'd have to move on from.  It wouldn't have been the end of the world as I'm far from having the complete Beck collection I was sporting in the mid 90's, but as the 2 songs were acoustic, it stung.

Well, lo and behold, without warning, Beck threw up some copies of this on his webstore.  At $15 bucks a pop and some unreasonably expensive shipping, I can't help feel a little bilked.  But, I bit my tongue and ordered it.  They must not have lasted too long as they're gone from the store now.  So while I have a problem with Beck setting such a steep price, the truth is I probably would have paid even more for this on eBay due to how scarce it was.

Oh, the music? Both songs are great. Slow, somber, sad Beck.  They both could work easily on Mutations, Sea Change or Morning Phase.  I believe both songs are on other compilation albums, but for me, it's nicer to have the 7" in the collection.  I'm not letting Beck off the hook completely about the cost, but hopefully the money is at least going direct to him instead of some label or other third party nonsense.

Beck - Looking For A Sign:

Beck - Corrina, Corrina:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Plow United - Delco 7" - Gray Vinyl (/250)


It's Alive (2014)

Of all of the 90's bands that have reunited, Plow United is the one that I may secretly be most excited about.  Sure, a new Rocket From The Crypt or Bum record would blow my mind, but Plow was always the closest thing to a great local band that we had when I was younger.  Yeah, they're from Pennsylvania and I'm in New Jersey, but they played so many of the shows around here that it's hard to not think of them as one of ours.  I mean, if I don't claim Plow, who am I going to claim? Bigwig? No thanks.

The Delco 7" is the first record since their fantastic Marching Band LP from last year.  To me, the production was a bit tighter on Marching Band and that gave those songs more of a biting edge.  I think as a whole the 4 songs on Delco sound a little softer in comparison.  Maybe things just sound a bit more relaxed, but the songs themselves are still as great as ever.  Well, the 3 main ones anyway as lead off "That Was Awesome" is pretty much just a 45 second intro/throwaway.

Once the start/stop guitar riff of "All For You" punches in, this 7" just flies by.  Impassioned vocals and dynamic drumming are Plow United staples and they're in full force here as well.  If you like Plow, you're crazy not to pick this up.  If you're new to them, I don't know that this is the absolute best place to start.  I'd grab last year's Marching Band LP or my favorite album of theirs, the recently rereleased Plow II LP.

Plow United - Delco 7":

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Yolks - Kings Of Awesome - White Vinyl (/100)


Randy (2014)

It's been 5 years since the last Yolks record and in that 5 years I've probably listened to that debut a hundred times.  This leads me to my first question. Why so sad Yolks?  On Kings of Awesome, The Yolks have eased way off of the accelerator and have turned in a much more mellow album.  While it's still very good and the songwriting has improved, I kind of miss the pedal to the metal barrage of hooks that made up their first album.

Kings of Awesome is absolutely still influenced by the sounds of the 60's.  But unlike their debut, which was a call back to some of the simple garage bands of yore, Kings of Awesome takes a much more soulful approach.  The production is much cleaner, the guitars less fuzzy and the hooks more subtle.  You'll never deny that a song like "I Want Your Number" is a toe tapping hit, but it's not as immediate and attention grabbing as I was expecting.

Things continue on the B-side, which consists of three 5+ minute long songs.  Two of them are organ soaked instrumentals and the other is a 6 minute long cover of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say."  It's flat out great and one of the highlights of the record, but it is probably a bit longer than I personally need it to be.  I think they could have accomplished the same thing in 4 minutes.

I imagine that if you're reading this, you probably think I don't like this record.  That's actually not true at all.  I enjoy it quite a bit and if this were the first thing I had heard from The Yolks, I would have nothing but positive things to say.  But it's so much different from their first record I can't help but get caught up pointing out the differences.  It's absolutely worth checking out and picking up, just know that you're in for something new.

The Yolks - Kings of Awesome:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Supercrush - Lifted 7"


Grave Mistake (2013)

Man, everything about this record is so perfectly 90's alternative rock.  I love it.  From the artwork, to the music, to the back cover photo of the band, to the name Supercrush.  If they were trying to make me pay attention, they succeeded, even if I'm a little late to the party.

I stumbled across Supercrush going through one of my favorite distros, looking for that one last 7" to push me over the edge to qualify for free shipping.  When I saw the name Supercrush and saw the picture of the record, I figured it was something worth taking a chance on.  Turns out I was right as both songs are that perfect upper mid tempo rock with gigantic guitars and hooks.  I'm actually most reminded of Dear You era Jawbreaker, but the really pop songs on that record.  Others may hear a bit of Swervedriver or other 90's era shoegaze rockers, but I find Supercrush to be much more straightforward, even if they retain some of the same sensibilities.

I can't imagine a better record that I've purchased just to qualify for free shipping.  Though this came out last October and there doesn't seem to be anything else happening with the band, I really hope that this wasn't a one off.  I want a full album from these guys desperately, so I hope they're working on it now.

Supercrush - Lifted 7":

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Young Leaves - Alive and Well LP - Blue w/ Gold Haze Vinyl


Baldy Longhair (2014)

Alive and Well is a record I have really been meaning to pick up for quite some time.  I have been a big fan of The Young Leaves since their great album Life Underneath came out on the equally great Drunken Sailor records a few years back.  But, for one reason or another, I just kept putting off buying this record.  Finally, when I was perusing an Insound vinyl blowout sale, I stumbled across The Young Leaves on their list and snatched it up right away.

You probably can't really see from the picture I took because it's subtle, but the vinyl is pretty cool looking.  It's dark blue with just the slightest traces of gold mixed in.  Though It's not the rarest variant, it's probably the coolest looking one if you ask me.  

Musically, The Young Leaves pick up right where they left off.  Big, hook-filled guitar pop songs that lean towards the Dinosaur Jr.s end of the indie rock spectrum.  Vocally I'm reminded quite a bit of the Swedish band Starmarket and I think that The Young Leaves also manage to capture similar energy in their songs.  Whether it's one of their slower, more straight-forward tracks like ""There Was A Ghost Inside Of Me" or one of the faster, dynamic ragers like "Drowning Pool" or "Holliston,"  the songs are just soaked in a contagious enthusiasm.  Translation; they're just really catchy and a lot of fun to listen to.

I regret taking so long to finally pick this record up, but I assure you that I'm going to spend some quality time with it on my turntable to make up for that.

The Young Leaves - Alive and Well:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun LP


RCA (2014)

There's something just so gosh darn comforting about getting a new Weird Al album on vinyl.  Talk about an instant gateway to my childhood.  The Blues Brothers and Weird Al practically defined my earliest musical memories.  The fact that Al is still around and putting out new records and remaining relevant to the next generation is just remarkable.  The fact that this record debuted at number one on the Billboard charts was also really cool, even though that certainly doesn't mean what it once did.

As far as the record goes, I have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to the more modern Al records. The problem is I have no idea what songs he's parodying any more.  I was kind of aware of the "Blurred Lines" song because I saw it performed on the Colbert Report and I think I heard it in Sears once.  That being said Al's "Word Crimes" version is simply genius.  Lyrically, he's at a level so much higher than the rest of the entire world.  The other parodies are all a good time, even if I don't know the originals.  The song about tin foil in particular is really funny.

He also has a song called "Tacky" which is a parody of that "Happy" song I've heard in car commercials.  Lyrically great, but musically that's a pretty annoying song.  As always Al's originals are top notch and they still feel like a little slice of his music from the 80's to me.  My favorite being the guitar focused rock song "My Own Eyes."  And par for the course, Al has a Polka medley and as usual is one of the album highlights, though again, I don't recognize 3/4s of the songs he's doing on this one.  Maybe I'd be in better shape if I spent more time hanging out and listening to the music they play at SuperCuts.

Who would have thought that 28 years after I bought my first Weird Al record, I'd still be buying new ones.  I'm thrilled he is still releasing records and even more thrilled that his record label saw fit to give it the vinyl treatment.

Weird Al Yankovic - "Word Crimes"

Weird Al Yankovic - "Now That's What I Call Polka":

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Games - Little Elise 7" - Gold Vinyl (/150)


Hozac (2014)

I feel like it's been an unusually long time since the last Games full length, though that just may be time slipping by faster as I get older.  That being said, I've been eagerly waiting the band's follow up and it finally arrived as the Little Elise 7" limited to 150 gold vinyl version on Hozac.  Hozac puts out a lot of records.  Some I love, some being a bit too scuzzy for my personal taste, but I always enjoy getting the gold vinyl version in the mail when I do order.

The Games 7" picks up where their full length left off, though I will say the guitars sound a bit fuller and more pronounced than last time.  To the band's benefit.  A-side "Little Elise" has a vocal melody in the verse that's eerily similar to "California Girls," but it's not a carbon copy all the way through with its call and response bridge that builds into a chorus complete with all of the "aahhhs" and "ooohs" that I'm looking for in great pop music.

B-Side "About Me"is another bouncy pop song to add to Games' catalog of hits. The jangle on the guitar is turned way up along with some fun lead guitar noodling going on through the chorus.  Both songs are excellent and I can only hope it's not as long of a wait to hear what Games comes out with next.  Hopefully it's a new full length.

Games - "Little Elise":

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Jackhammers - S/T 7"


S'Not (2014)

What we have here is your basic "1-2-3-4" cave man punk rock.  Some fellows banging on their instruments and putting their music out into the world.  Though I can't say that this would always be up my alley, The Jackhammers are much better than your average band trying to pull this sort of thing off.

Hailing from Glasgow, The Jackhammers are not going to win any awards for the production on this record.  The vocals are way up front in the mix and at times it hides the music of the band.  They've definitely got chops.  You can tell they're pretty tight and they're putting together some good riffs, but the vocals kind of obscure that at times.  However, when the band is really humming along, they capture an energy that can be lost with overly glossy production.

For me the best song is probably "Count Me Out." It's super fast paced and catchy, but (I hate to harp on this) the vocals are awfully loud and I think the band would benefit greatly from some volume adjusting next time they go back for more recording.  This 7" definitely shows promise, The Jackhammers just need a little fine tuning.

The Jackhammers - S/T 7":

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gold-Bears - Dalliance - White & Green Vinyl


Slumberland (2014)

I'm back from my end of summer vacation and I've made some adjustments to the website as well.  Nothing major, just a bit of a redesign with some new graphics.  Let me know what you think.  We'll start off the fall season with a quintessential summertime record, the new LP from Gold-Bears.

I thoroughly enjoyed the last Gold-Bears record, so I was pretty keen on this new one coming out, but I was not prepared with how much better this band had gotten since their last album.  Everything I loved about their debut has somehow gotten even better.  The songs are faster, the melodies are sweeter, the hooks are catchier and the production is perfect.  

Gold-Bears remind me a little bit of The Thermals at times, but without the barbs and with a ton of vocal harmonies added in.  Songs like"Yeah, Tonight" and "Memo" are two of my favorites but the cream of the crop is "For You."  I just love the interplay between the guitar and the vocals.  The riff holds down the song, while the lyrics just soar over everything.  

Again, I really liked the band's debut, but Dalliance is practically perfect.  If the year ended right now, there's no way this is not in the top 5 best records to have come out in 2014.

Gold-Bears - "For You":

Monday, September 1, 2014

Steve Adamyk Band - Dial Tone LP - Black Vinyl and Gold Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2014)

I don't usually do any new reviews on a holiday, but I'm making an exception today.  I will however be taking a website vacation for the rest of the week.  I'll be back writing again on Monday September 8th.  However, I couldn't take my break without writing about the new Steve Adamyk Band record first.

If you asked me who are my favorite newer bands of the last 10 years, I will immediately answer Mrs. Magician and Steve Adamyk Band.  These 2 groups have been releasing some of the best music I've heard and even though I wouldn't necessarily call them similar, they both have mastered the art of crafting perfect records.

Steve Adamyk Band is pretty much the best popped out punk rock band going.  They have the catchiest choruses and the most contagious energy of just about anyone.  I'll take the Pepsi challenge and put them up against any band playing catchy punk rock.  No one can hold a candle to these guys.  Steve & co. are just the best at it.

Their new album Dial Tone is more of the same greatness I've come to expect.  When you have such high expectations for a band, it's easy to wind up being disappointed when you finally hear their new record, but the Steve Adamyk Band hasn't let me down yet.  Even though I find some of the levels on Matt Melton's production a little uneven on a couple of tracks; the songs here are just so god damn amazing it really doesn't matter how they were recorded.

From the blazing high speed anergy of "Crash Course in Therapy" or "MRI" to the more mid tempo, crammed full of hooks "You're The Antidote" (my favorite song on the album) or "Mirror Ball" it's just smash hit after smash hit.  Somehow, the Steve Adamyk Band is able to release a new album and a handful of singles pretty much every year, yet they still manage to put out just about nothing but amazing songs.  I honestly don't know how they do it.  I'd be hard pressed to think of a band that's so prolific, but so incredibly consistent in the super high quality of their songs.

I've long had a huge soft spot for Canadian punk rock and Steve Adamyk Band is just another reason why I tend to say they make the best rock in the world up there.  Dial Tone is absolutely one of the very best records that has come out this year.  No record collection is complete without everything they've put out.  And if you're like me, that means more than one copy of quite a few of their records...

Steve Adamyk Band - Dial Tone:

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Apes - Bodies 7" (+ Windian Box Set)


Windian (2014)

The fifth and final entry in the 2014 Windian Subscription Series is The Apes.  Again, this is a new to me band, but I can't say that I'll be particularly interested in seeking out more tunes by them.

While I do like that they are in this box since they add yet another layer of diversity to the set, they're brand of slow, somewhat sludgy rock just isn't my cup of tea.  The A-Side "Bodies" is built over a slow, throbbing bass line with dark, gravely vocals.  I could very easily see it as a soundtrack to bury a few bodies to, so I guess it could be considered accurately named.

The B-Side picks up the tempo ever so slightly and this time the band has added some atmospheric synths to the song.  Again, it's just a little to slow to catch my interest, but I'm notoriously picky when it comes to that sort of thing.  It takes quite the band to impress me with a slow jam and The Apes just don't do it for me.

That being said, the Windian Subscription box set as a whole is a tremendous purchase.  The variety of bands is great and the Mrs. Magician and A Giant Dog 7"s are both worth the price of admission on their own.  The box set packaging is outstanding with a hefty booklet & pin.  I can't really recommend it enough.  It is every bit as good as the first volume.  Windian is getting round three going now and you can be sure I will be pre-ordering that one as soon as I can.

The Apes - Bodies:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Overnight Lows - Bullshit Self 7"


Windian (2014)

Round 4 of the Windian Subscription Series brings us a band from Jackson, MS called Overnight Lows.  Sometimes I think that the world has just run out of band names with how goofy some are these days, but I actually think Overnight Lows is a pretty great one.  I've never heard of these folks before, despite what looks like a decent amount of records that came out a few years back.  I'm unable to really find anything that they've been up to recently, so I can't say for sure they're still around, but I also haven't seen any breakup announcement.

Overnight Lows play up tempo, catchy garage rock.  The vocals are ever so slightly snotty, but not in an annoying way at all.  They still keep a decent amount of melody in everything and they do a tremendous job of layering shout-along backing vocals into their songs.  Both are pretty good, but my favorite of the two is actually the B-side, "Steady Hands."

I'd be on the fence about buying this as a standalone record.  These are two fun songs, though I'm not sure how much I'd really listen to them on their own.  However, they are a great addition to the box set. Overnight Lows add another dimension to the proceedings and they are good enough to make me want to check out some of their other records and see how they are.

Overnight Lows - Steady Hands:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Ettes - Cry On My Shoulder 7"


Windian (2014)

The third 7" in the Windian Singles Series is from Nashville's The Ettes.  I can't say that it is my favorite of the bunch, but it's not bad either.

Side A contains the song "Cry On My Shoulder."  It's a slower paced, 50's style throwback with light, clean guitar and subdued vocals.  The vocals are so subdued and wispy that they really remind be of helium induced Ween more than anything else.  While certainly not a negative comparison, it does result in me thinking the song is kind of fun and lighthearted, which I'm not sure is really the vibe they were going for.

B side "Girl I'll Never Be" is a bit harsher and calls back to the 60's more than side A.  The vocals are a little stronger here, with a decent bit of snarl thrown in for good measure.  But the song is darker and not as easy of a listen as "Cry On My Shoulder,"

Both songs are totally fine.  It's a good enough record to be part of a singles series, but I just can't imagine going out of my way to buy it on its own.

The Ettes - Cry On My Shoulder:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mrs. Magician - Friday Night 7"


Windian (2014)

Number two in the Windian Singles Series is from one of my current favorite bands in the world, Mrs. Magician.  I will admit, one of the reasons why it's taken me so long to get around to writing about this box set is because I didn't want to listen to this Mrs. Magician 7" after the band had announced they were splitting up.  Their last full length, Strange Heaven, was just so perfect and my feeble brain couldn't cope with the fact that a band would walk away after releasing something that good.  Luckily, they changed their mind, got back together and are about to disappear into the ether to record their new album.

This allows me to listen to their Windian 7" with joy and anticipation rather than treating it like a funeral.  It's a relief too, because these 2 songs are incredible.  If they were the last 2 Mrs. Magician songs ever released, it would have been a shame.  But they're not so I can rejoice in the Beach Boys gone bad harmonies of "Friday Night."  With very light organ searing through the background, this song picks up right where Strange Heaven left off.  Everything peaks with a soaring, clap your hands along chorus, but then just to keep things interesting the band cuts everything to half time (I don't know if that is a completely technically accurate term, but they make the song slower) and ride out to the conclusion repeating "She was speaking in tongues, just like an angel."

The B-side, "Crosses," takes things into a slightly different direction.  The tone is more reminiscent of "Don't Flatter Yourself," where the band manages to take a reasonably slow song, but turns the dark factor way up.  Yet somehow, they manage to sneak in a ton of hooks and a chorus that rings out "I'm alright, I'm all ri-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yight."  It's just such great stuff.  I am counting down the days until I can hear more new music from Mrs. Magician.  They are pretty much the best band playing music right now and I just hope they can manage to stay together for many, many years to come.

Mrs. Magician - Friday Night:

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Giant Dog - Creep 7"


Windian (2014)

You guys know how much I love singles clubs.  Pay a bunch of money up front and then receive a record every month or so.  Some good, some bad, but always a fun time.  Windian Records takes a slightly different slant on the idea.  Rather than spread the records out over a several month period, they drop all five records in your lap on the same day, and they give you a fancy box set to boot.  It's a different take on the concept and I'll admit it's a pretty great looking set.  Plus, unlike other clubs, Windian actually lets you buy individual singles from the set if you want.  Though I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to grab all of them right away.

This first 7" in the 2014 club is by A Giant Dog.  Having really enjoyed their pink album from a few years ago, I was pretty excited to hear some new songs and the two on this record didn't let me down.  Fun, hooky and absolutely bursting with energy.  They have such powerful vocals and the way they interplay with the huge guitar and driving rhythm section is something to behold.

Both songs are every bit as good as anything on their last full length.  My only complaint is that it just leaves me wanting more.  I hope they're hard at work on another full length because I will absolutely be buying that on day one.

A Giant Dog - Creep:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Martha - Courting Strong LP


Salinas (2014)

This was the third of three records I bought from Salinas records.  I loved the Mapmaker record, but was pretty disappointed with the new one from Delay.  I'd say Martha is in between the two, but much closer to the Mapmaker side of the spectrum.

Now, that's not to say Martha sounds like Mapmaker at all, they couldn't be further actually.  Hailing from the UK, these guys trade in clean, jangle-y guitar that's bouncy and catchy.  The alternating boy/girl vocals make for a dynamic mix and allow for some incredible backing harmonies.  When the guy is singing, things seem a little faster and more energetic to me.  However, when the female vocals take the lead the songs are extremely catchy and the melodies are top notch.  It's really the best of both worlds and they remind me of the old Japanese band Cigaretteman a bit.

I'd never really heard of Martha prior to this album, and I really bought it on the strength of 1 song I heard while perusing the Salinas website.  It's always a risk buying records by bands you've never heard of before, sometimes you end up wasting money, but sometimes you end with something great like Martha.

Martha - Courting Strong LP:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Wet - Let's Get Wet 7" - Gray Vinyl


Tall Pat (2014)

This 7" is the debut release from Chicago's The Wet, and if the songs here are any indication, there's going to be some pretty good things in this band's future.  They're playing a mix of 60's influenced surf riffs with late 70's era punk attitude.  The guitar solos are there and the earth splitting lead vocals from Mae Day are roaring through this 7".

Tracks "Let's Get Wet" and "Miss You" are powerful, creeping along at a mid tempo pace, but barely containing the band's bristling energy.  To me though, the absolute stand out is "Bad Habit."  It's one part Baby Shakes style party rock, one part "I Want Candy" by The Strangeloves and one part whirlwind of profanity.  The poppy songs are always going to be the ones that appeal to me the most, and The Wet has my number with this song.

As I'm not in Chicago and certainly not keyed into their scene of up and coming rock and rollers, finding a band like The Wet this early in the game is great. Thank goodness for the discerning taste of Tall Pat Records.

The Wet - Let's Get Wet 7":

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Science Police / Zatopeks - Split 7" - Clear Vinyl (/100)


All In Vinyl (2014)

This 7" wraps up the 3rd volume of the All In Vinyl split 7" Singles Series.  Since Art Of The Underground vanished into the night (with some unfulfilled subscriptions floating around out there I would think), All In Vinyl stands tall as the kings of the 7" subscription package.  They put out records by bands I like and they don't take my money and not give me records unlike some other singles clubs (cough, cough...Cowabunga Records).  I hope they are already making plans for their 4th series.

From the US we've got Science Police.  They're playing Ramones friendly pop-punk that's short, catchy and sprinkled with some keyboards.  Though I wish they'd invest in some longer songs, the 3 on this 7" are a pretty solid introduction to the band.  I know some of these guys were involved in The Steinways, so I'm sure that'll make some additional people check these guys out.

For me, the highlight is definitely the Zatopeks.  These UK based punkers contribute two stellar songs.  Their first track "Hang Up My Hat"is pretty straight up pop punk, fast paced and like Science Police, quite catchy.  However, when you get to their second song, "All My Dreams Are Borrowed" this band shines.  It's a bit more bouncy and mid-tempo, giving the band a chance to catch their breath and focus on some melodies.  But what seals it for me are the absolutely killer backing vocals that really elevate this song to be something special.  They should do whatever it takes to make those backing vocals a permanent part of the band.  Just a great, great song.

Science Police / Zatopeks - Split 7":

Monday, August 18, 2014

Needles//Pins - Shamebirds LP - Blue Vinyl


Dirt Cult (2014)

Let's combine 2 of my very favorite things, Canadian rock & roll and Dirtcult records.  What you get is Shamebirds, another one of 2014's best albums.  Needles//Pins shouldn't be a new band to anyone that reads this website with any regularity.  Though I missed out on some of the early singles (get in touch if you have any you're willing to part with), I've been on board since before the band's last full length.

On Shamebirds, they're just upping the ante.  Needles//Pins churn out a fiery mix of garage attitude and power pop hooks.  You can put them on right after you're through listening to Seve Adamyk Band or Mother's children, but vocally I'm actually reminded a bit of John Reis.  The lead singer is a little gravely and a bit nasal, but still manages to carry remarkable melody through the songs.  Much like Reis is able to manage.  

It's hard to point to any standouts on Shamebirds as every song on the record is so strong.  There aren't any throwaways or filler here.  But if you have to start somewhere, check out "Far Better Off" or "Hate When You're Leaving."  Both encapsulate what Needles//Pins are all about. Tight, catchy songs that just blast out of your turntable; destined to be stuck in your heads for generations to come...

Needles//Pins - Shamebirds LP:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Edsel / Jawbox - Split 7"


DeSoto (1993)

Much like I did with Seaweed a few years ago, my mission now is to amass the entire discography of Jawbox.  I'm not really going out of my way to hunt anything down, but I am picking up the pieces when I see them.  This split 7" popped up in the used section of an online distro that I frequent, so I added it to my cart during a recent order.  It ended up being a bit more beat up than I anticipated, so this may end up only acting as a place holder until I find a better conditioned copy.

The Jawbox side was no real surprise here.  The song is "Savory" which is also on their full length For You Own Special Sweatheart.  It's just a tremendous song though.  Dark and ominous, without being brooding or over the top.  Plus, they still manage to sneak in enough hooks to keep me a happy camper. 

Edsel is a band I'm admittedly not as familiar with.  Sure they are fronted by Sohrab Habibion, now in Obits, but I don't really like most of the Sohrab Obits songs.  I can't say I was expecting much from their contribution "Penaluna," but it's actually not bad at all.  With high pitched, but gentle vocals and lead heavy guitar work, it holds up reasonably well to the Jawbox side.  If anything, it reminds me of some of the lower key Pixies songs, but Sohrab never freaks out the way Frank often does.

Jawbox - Savory:

Edsel - Penaluna: