Thursday, February 26, 2015

Overwhelming Colorfast / Stuntman - Split 7"


Dust Bowl (1996)

While I do not have the same sort of story time prose that I had for yesterday's Crocodile God 7", I have been searching and searching for this Overwhelming Colorfast/Stuntman 7" for an even longer time.  It's all because of the Overwhelming Colorfast album Moonlight & Castanets.  That album is another one of my all time favorite, but criminally overlooked and under-appreciated records of the 1990's.  

Overwhelming Colorfast is a band that employed those big powerful fluf-esque guitar riffs, coupled with Bob Reed's smooth vocals and a killer rhythm section.  I don't understand why they didn't end up significantly more famous than they did.  All three of their full lengths are well worth checking out, but Moonlights & Castanets has always been my top pick of the bunch.  

Funny enough the Overwhelming Colorfast song on this 7" is, I assume, an early version of a song that ended up appearing on Moonlights, "How It Should Be."  It doesn't really matter to me all that much that I don't have a new song after finally acquiring this 7".  Sometimes it's just the thrill of the hunt.  Keep in mind I have been actively looking for this record since 1996.  It came out in 1996 and even back then I couldn't find one anywhere.

The Stuntman side is really just a bonus.  Stuntman is a band that I never explored as fully as I probably should have.  They came to be after Treepeople finally called it quits and their sound isn't too dissimilar to what Treepeople were up to on their later era albums.  Their song "Chickens Don't Have Fingers" is a noisy, totally 90's, Archers of Loaf sounding indie rock song.  Definitely good enough to make me think I should probably go back and re-listen to their other records.

It's hard to remember a time when this 7" and yesterday's Crocodile God 7" were not on my records wants list.  It's an incredible feeling to finally have both in the collection.  But the number 1 record on my list is still out there.  If anyone can help me find the first, self titled Love As Laughter cassette my longest hunt would finally be over.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crocodile God - Two Days 7"


Big Fella (1994)

There have been a handful of records on my wants list for years and years. Several approaching the 20 year mark.  The ones that have been there for the longest were from bands that have a small, but passionate fan base. The rarity wasn't as much from hordes of people wanting the same record, but more from ultra small pressings and an obscurity that kept them off the radar a bit.  

In an insane bit of luck, I scored two of the top three records on my wants list within the span of a couple of weeks.  It was all kind of crazy as I have literally been looking for both for at least 18 years.  Number three on the all time sought after list was the Two Days 7" from Crocodile God.  You've heard me talk at length about the mid 90's punk scene from the UK and my undying love for bands like Broccoli, Hooton 3 Car, Chopper, Skimmer and more.  Crocodile God was right in the mix with those bands having released some singles on Crackle Records along with their full length and a 12" EP.

I first discovered the band through their second 7" Boss in 1996.  At that stage I was pretty much buying anything that Crackle Records put out as aside from the band Toast, I adored everything they were releasing.  I was pretty impressed with that record and those songs appeared on many mix tapes I made at that time.  But what really blew the doors down was the band's fourth 7", Ladders.  Those songs are absolutely amazing and that record stands as one of my absolute favorite 7"s from the 90's.  I'd been hunting for their debut 7" ever since, including multiple trips to the UK searching through dozens and dozens of record stores.  And sure, I have a complete Mega City Four collection as a result of those trips, but man did I want that freaking Crocodile God 7".

When I found the second biggest record on my wants list, on a lark, I decided to mention that I was still searching for this Crocodile God 7" on Twitter, tagging a few pals from the UK just to see in any of them had any leads.  Well much to my surprise, the main man from Crocodile God himself Mark "Guitar" Murphy (he doesn't call himself that, but he really should) stepped up and agreed to send me the one extra copy of the record he had squirreled away.  

On top of that, he wouldn't even take any money from me for it.  Punk rock really is the greatest thing on earth.  I've been involved with people into this type of music for a really long time and I am never not amazed at what incredible, genuine people they all are.  I'm thankful I have such great taste in music as it really has led to so many wonderful things in my life.

That's a lot of story telling and not a lot of talking about this specific record.  I had heard all of these songs before from the Crocodile God singles collection. So getting this 7" was not as much about obtaining the songs as it was tracking down a piece of history that I was missing.  That being said the songs are all still quite good after all of this time.  I think the band definitely improved as they went on, but if you compare it to the debut 7" of one of my other favorite bands at the time, Chopper, Two Days comes out on top.

Opener "Kamarrah" has all of the speed, vocal melody and change-ups that really defined Crocodile God throughout their time.  In 2015, you cringe a little bit at the quick "oi oi" part at the beginning, but hey, Snuff was doing it at the time too! "Still Bleeding" is a ten million mile an hour punk rock ripper. "Coming From" is probably my favorite song of the bunch as I always felt the band was at their very best when they slowed things down just a little bit and showcased their knack for catchy hooks.  And finally "Clockwork" is a short closing blast with more of the tempo shifts that the band was always so good at.

It's just an amazing thing to have this record in hand.  It's the completion of a nearly two decade long quest and the fact that it was just sent to me as a gift by another long time punk rock makes it that much better.  Thank you Mark, both for all of the years of great music and for sending me this record.  Everyone should also know that Mark's current band. The No Marks, just happened to put out one of the best records of 2014.  So everyone should go buy that and then start hunting down some Crocodile God 7"s.  A warning though, it may take a little while to find Two Days.

Crocodile God - "Kamarrah":

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Lives LP


One Little Indian (2015, Reissue)

The second of the two Dan Sartain reissues is Dan Sartain Lives.  It's another album that wasn't on vinyl previously and that was a crime.  You're not going to hear me say much about Dan Sartain that isn't a compliment and among Dan's records, this is one of the best.

I think Join Dan Sartain will always be my favorite of his records, but Dan Sartain Lives is definitely in the discussion for number two on the list.  Once again he's just packed this album full of great songs.  From the slower fuzzed out "Doin' Anything I Say" to the latest manic installment of "Walk Among The Cobras IV" to the stripped down and deliberate "Atheist Funeral" you can really see Dan growing as a songwriter on this album.

Dan Sartain would start experimenting more with some good old fashion punk rock after this Dan Sartain Lives came out.  While those records are also tremendous in their own way, to me the one-two punch of Join and Lives really epitomizes what I love about Dan Sartain's music.  As with Vs. The Serpientes, the card stock that One Little Indian used on the album cover is kind of cheap and flimsy, but I'm just so happy that this record is finally out on vinyl, it's hard to complain too much about that.

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras IV":

Dan Sartain - "Atheist Funeral":

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dan Sartain - Vs. The Serpientes LP


One Little Indian (2015, Reissue)

For the longest time Vs. The Serpientes and Dan Sartain Lives were two of the records that I was most annoyed had never come out on vinyl (Onehundredpercentfreak by Alligator Gun, Start.Stop. by Him Kerosene and Shipwrecked by The Sultans round out the top five if you're curious).  I wasn't sure if these Dan Sartain records would ever be released and I had nearly dropped a large sum of money on a Dan Sartain Lives test pressing, thinking it would be the only way to own it on vinyl.  Luckily, I was outbid on that record and shortly thereafter common sense prevailed over at One Little Indian and I finally have both of these amazing Dan Sartain records on vinyl.

Vs. The Serpientes is what started it all for me.  I vividly remember how completely blown away by it I was and how I immediately had to share this incredible record with everyone.  There was just something so unique and exciting about Dan Sartain.  He had that southern, Johnny Cash outlaw thing going.  He played some acoustic guitar, but was unabashedly punk rock.  The fact that he had cozied up to Rocket From The Crypt and Swami record certainly didn't hurt as I'm not positive he would have ended up on my radar otherwise.  But the songs on this record were just so amazing.

All three "Walk Among The Cobras" are essential listing and the one-two opening punch of "Trying To Say" and "P.C.B. '98" is one of the strongest I can think of from the 2000's.  The real knock out punch for me has always been the slow and somber "Place To Call My Home."  It's simply a gorgeous song and puts Dan right up there with some of the best things Beck ever wrote for One Foot In The Grave.

I'd be remiss to not mention the fact that One Little Indian skimped out on the artwork here.  The cardstock they used is really flimsy and the spine of my record was completely obliterated by the time my record got to me.  I had actually bought my copy direct from Dan Sartain as he was selling a handful that he had redecorated himself.  He drew over the cover with red and blue ink and funny enough, if you look at it with the enclosed 3-D glasses, it does jump out at you a bit.  Pretty neat.

Regardless of the cover issues, this record is beyond essential and I really am thrilled to have it in the collection.  Tomorrow I'll write a bit about the other reissue, Dan Sartain Lives.

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras, Pt. 1":

Dan Sartain - "Place To Call My Home":

Friday, February 20, 2015

Warm Soda - Reaction 7" (Clear Vinyl)


Southpaw (2012)

I came on board the Warm Soda bandwagon as their first full length had been released.  I missed out on their debut 7" on Southpaw and just kept putting off grabbing it.  Then one day they were all gone.  Well, no worries as Southpaw pressed up another batch recently so I was able to get one on clear vinyl.

What it comes down to is this, if you like other Warm Soda records, you're going to like this one as well.  The trademarks are all their.  Bouncy guitar riffs? Check. Whispered vocals? Check. Sounds like it was recorded in a room made of tin foil? Check.  These are the things that make Warm Soda instantly identifiable and I really like them.  That being said, I have some friends that just don't like Matthew Melton's vocals.  They are different enough to warrant someone having a reaction to them I guess, but I have always thought that within this band, they match perfectly to the pop tunes being created.

Even though I was a little down on the most recent Warm Soda full length (I thought the recording wasn't good and zapped all of the energy out of the songs), listening to their debut 7" again reminded me why I like this band so much.  They just write great, catchy songs.  Hopefully they have another new album this year, I'm definitely ready for one.

Warm Soda - "Reaction":

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hell City Kings - One Night Stand Ego 7" - Purple Vinyl


Artificial Head (2014)

I'm still trying to tear through this little pile of records that were sent to me to review.  Next up on the list is a 7" from Hell City Kings.  The artwork didn't make this seem like a particularly inviting 7" to throw on the turntable, but looks can be deceiving.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I like this record, though it's not nearly as bad as some others that I've reviewed lately.

Hell City Kings are very much your prototypical rock and roll band.  More than anything I hear a big time Supersuckers influence.  It's grimy, driving rock with lots of lead guitar licks and chord changes.  The singer has something of a gruff wail that certainly suits the music, even if it doesn't really thrill me.  I can't say that either of the 2 songs really stand out as they are both pretty similar.

If you like your rock and roll or really like the Supersuckers but thing Eddie Spaghetti's voice is too finely tuned of an instrument, Hell City Kings may be just the band for you.  If you think there's already plenty of this sort of thing out there, you can probably pass on this.

Hell City Kings - One Night Stand Ego 7":

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Les Chaussettes - Kate 7" - Red Vinyl


Punk Fox (2014)

There are times that I wish I got a few more records sent to me to review.  After all, who doesn't want free records? Then there are times where I'm kind of glad I don't get a ton of records sent to me.  I do this website because I think it's a fun way to catalog my weird record buying habit.  If this was to turn into a predominantly review driven website, I think that would suck the joy out of it for me.  So I guess the moral is, if you put out good records, send them over.  If you don't, keep them.

Punk Fox should maybe think about keeping their records instead of sending them to me.  I honestly feel bad, they have sent me every record they've released so far and I just don't like any of them.  I really would like to write nice things about someone that sends me records, but these just aren't my cup of tea.  I don't want to constantly be in the position of writing bad things about someone who is doing a nice thing.

That being said, Les Chaussettes is probably the best record of the bunch to date.  A-side "Kate" has a warble-y, underwater sounding guitar riff that reminds me a little of early Beck.  Despite the interesting guitar tone, the song is still not very good mainly due to the vocals. The just don't have any energy to them at all.  They sound like a bored grammar school chorus being forced to sing in front of the rest of the school.  B-side "Volcanoes" is just kind of there.  It elicits no feeling from me one way or the other.

Another thing about the records Punk Fox is sending me is that the cover art for all of them kind of look the same.  I assume it's the same person doing all of the art.  I know for a fact it is for their 3rd and 4th single, but there's no art credit on the first two.  The person designing these covers seems to be hung up on odd angled close up shots of people with writing on them.  I'm no artist, so it's probably not my place to critique, but I just don't like the way they look at all.  I have one more Punk Fox 7" waiting in the wings.  If I'm to judge the book by its cover, it is probably the worst of the bunch.  I'll get to it eventually, but the last thing I want is for doing my review in the morning to become a chore.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory LP


Carpark (2012)

In 2014 the record I listened to more than any other was Cloud Nothing's Here And Nowhere Else.  When a record hits me like that, my immediate thought is to snatch up as many of the band's other records as possible.  Even though I I had only listened to one of Cloud Nothings records previously, I felt it was important to try out some of the band's other works.

I didn't really like their self titled album back when it had originally come out and because of that I never even listened to Attack On Memory.  Listening to it with fresh ears, it's not as good as Here And Nowhere Else, but it is a lot stronger and certainly more interesting that their self titled record.  Had I given is a shot when the album originally came out, I bet I would have liked it.  It is a good album and one I've been listening to, but now I compare it to Here And Nowhere Else.  That's a bit of an unfair comparison as most records will fall short based on that standard.

Attack On Memory doesn't do itself any favors by starting out with the worst song on the album "No Future/No Past."  It's a bit of a chore with a repetitious verse and chorus.  Slow, a little whiny.  Not a great first impression, but as soon as the 2nd track "Wasted Days" hits, things are looking up.  Sure it has a really long outro that drags things down a little, but it's still a great song that showcases how much the band has grown since their prior record.

The rest of the album is just as good.  It's never quite as great as Here And Nowhere Else, though judged on its own merits, Attack On Memory is a worthy album to have in your collection.  Here And Nowhere Else, however, is essential.

Cloud Nothings - "Stay Useless":

Cloud Nothings - "Cut You":

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake - Modern Surf Classics LP


Swami (2015)

When John Reis' name is attached to a project, you are guaranteed my money immediately.  Over the past 20 years I cannot think of anyone who has consistently provided me with so much amazing music.  Even now he still surprises me.  When I heard he was putting out an album of surf music with Minnesota powerhouse The Blind Shake, I figured that I would like it.  I enjoy everything both have done.  But even I was unprepared by what an incredible, absolutely immersive experience this record is.

I've read several interviews with John where he states that although the history and lore of surf music was his starting point, he major inspiration for this album was the sea.  You can really hear that throughout the course of the album.  From the chaotic choppy turbulence of opener "Sea Saw" to the laid back, but still somewhat ominous "Brown Room" to the stormy "Zulu As Kono" the many moods of the ocean are interpreted though these songs.  Modern Surf Classics is not a paint by numbers surf copycat album, it's a sprawling instrumental that pulls equally from a variety of styles and influences.

The odds of me writing a bad review of a John Reis band are pretty slim, his music just speaks to me.  But this isn't just lip service, Modern Surf Classics is truly a fantastic record and an essential pick up.  They are playing a handful of shows in February and when they come to New York City, I will be there.  I don't go to many shows anymore, so if these guys are getting me out of the house, rest assured it's an album you should be buying.

Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake - Modern Surf Classics:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Spells - At Sea/Landlocked 7" - Brown Mix Vinyl (/250)


Snappy Little Numbers (2014)

I was pleased to open up a package from Snappy Little Numbers containing a couple of their new releases.  Readers may recognize that label from the stellar Hooper record that came out a couple of years ago or the equally great Friends Of Cesar Romero 7" they released last year.  It's a label putting out some killer records and Spells fit in with the group nicely.

I'm not sure exactly how to describe Spells without raising your expectations too high.  They have a party rock style that in places sound like a more garage-y Rocket From The Crypt.  Now, don't let the RFTC comparison set you up expecting Spells to be the best band in the world, that's the domain of Rocket exclusively.  Spells do share the same penchant for crafting songs with something of an attitude to them.  I haven't seen them play live, but I definitely get the impression that they probably know how to work a crowd.

Loud guitars, catchy hooks, driving drums; all of the ingredients I like in a band are there.  Spells are really tight and show a ton of promise for a group with just a handful of singles under their belt so far.  I'll be keeping my eye on them and absolutely encourage Snappy Little Numbers to keep sending hits like this my way.

Spells - At Sea/Landlocked 7"

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brown Plaid - Chico's Revenge 7" - Gray Vinyl (/300)


Splits McGee (2014)

This was another 7"sent to me to review.  As soon as I looked at the back and saw that they crammed nine songs on to one 7", I figured this would be bad news.  While I guess it isn't quite as terrible as I had feared, the vast majority of the songs on here are pretty awful.

Brown Plaid is aiming for that early Screeching Weasel sound.  I'm not sure they achieved it, but I can't say that I've ever been a Screeching Weasel fan either, so maybe they did.  What you've got here are 9 short snotty blasts of average pop punk a la Screeching Weasel or maybe early Queers (Just so you know I still haven't said "Screeching Weasel" as many times as it's written on the band's Bandcamp page - well now I've written it the same number of times).  

Brown Plaid leans heavily on that non-stop galloping drum beat that drives me out of my mind.  The songs are so dense and crammed full of drums, guitars and shouting that you can't really hear anything that's going on.  Occasionally you'll pick up a nugget of lyrical wisdom like "Hippies stink, literally," but for the most part this isn't good.

I always say that I appreciate when anyone takes the time to send me a record, and I do.  If I had one thing good to say is that when the band does slow everything down a little bit, like on "Baby Wants A Bottle," you can see some potential here.  If they started working on those hooks, slowed things down a little bit and weren't so insistent on making silly, dated jokes they could be on to something.

Brown Plaid - Chico's Revenge:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Widows Watch - This Message Repeats LP - Orange Vinyl (/100)


Toxic Pop (2015)

Toxic Pop has become one of those labels that I will blindly buy whatever they put out.  Their penchant for putting out records that I love is remarkable and all I can really say is that they sure do have some good taste in music over there.  Widows Watch is their latest band and while they are new to me, they sound like an old friend.

Widows Watch seem to take inspiration from some of my favorite bands, particularly those from the 90's UK punk scene.  You can hear some Leatherface in there, but more than anything they remind me of a band from Stoke-On-Trent called Reverse.  Reverse only put out a few 7"s on Damaged Goods records, but those 7"s have had a lasting effect on me for years.  They were a band that never got their due for putting together melodies and huge guitars, a trait that Widows Watch also has in spades.  The lyrics are gritty and have a China Drum-ish quality to them.  Not quite over the top enough to be considered poetry, but they definitely have more to say than your average band.

This Message Repeats is the first great record of 2015.  It's always thrilling to me when a band seems like they're playing the exact kind of punk rock I want to listen to.  I like melodies, but I need a band with a backbone that wants to make loud aggressive pop music.  Widows Watch absolutely fits that bill.  This is an essential pick up.

Widows Watch - This Message Repeats:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

PopKid Records Update

This was just posted over at the PopKid Records website, but I figured I'd copy it here too, since this site gets updated more frequently.


Welcome to 2015 everyone.  It has been an incredibly long time since we've updated this poor little website, but rest assured we are still here, filling orders for back catalog records and planning world domination.

First up is that our friends from Davis, CA have unleashed their long lost full length album into the world.  You may remember Playground from PKD001, the If You Were Me 7".  It's the record that started it all for PopKid.  Playground was also meant to be one of the first bands to release a full length for PopKid in 1996.  No Angel was recorded and ready to go, but the band split and the record just disappeared.

It's a crime, because this album is so completely phenomenal.  If you are even remotely into Jawbreaker influenced melodic punk rock, this record is essential.  The sounds of the 90's are experiencing something of a renaissance these days, but No Angel isn't a throw back.  It's an authentic piece of 1996 finally available to hear.

Playground has put this up on Bandcamp as a pay what you want download.  We strongly urge you to check it out.  In a perfect world, we would love to have this released on vinyl as well.  If the demand is there or if any other labels want to step up and co-release it, maybe that's something that can happen.

In other, slightly more cryptic news, unless something changes PopKid records will officially be back this year.  We are planning to release a full length vinyl record from one of our very favorite current bands.  It's a co-release with some other tremendous record labels and we cannot wait to tell you more about it.  PopKid records is 21 years old in 2015.  We feel old, but we're getting back in the game!

Playground - No Angel:

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Grave Walks - She's A Suicide 7" (White Vinyl (/150) & Green Vinyl (/150)


Windian (2014)

Talk about a supergroup.  The Grave Walks is Jacob Turnbloom from Mrs. Magician and Dan Sartain. You'd be harder pressed to find 2 people who have been making better records as of late.  Dan has been a perennial favorite of mine for years and Mrs. Magician released my favorite record of probably the last decade.  Teaming them together is probably going to lead to some magic.

If you thought that, you'd be right.  The A-side "She's A Suicide" steers closer to the Mrs. Magician side of the spectrum.  Dan take vocals over a lightly distorted, surf-y guitar riff.  The tempo is probably a little bit slower than most Mrs. Magician songs, but the song has a haunting melody that is just fantastic.  Dan Sartain's vocals truly elevate this song.

B-side "Teresa, I Love You" could be categorized as being similar in style to previous Dan Sartain songs.  Particularly I'm reminded of "Marfa Lights" off his last album Dudesblood.  It's a slow somber song with Dan crooning over acoustic guitar and very light percussion accompaniment. Very few people can pull off this style of music better than Dan Sartain and again, it's his vocals that make this song something special.

The odds of me not liking a project put together by two of my very favorite musicians were slim to begin with.  The Grave Walks is every bit as good as you'd want it to be.  I just hope this isn't a one off; I wand to hear more from these guys in the future.

The Grave Walks - "She's A Suicide":

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Jody Seabody - Some Witch 7"


Artificial Head (2014)

I've got a few 7"s lying around that people sent to me for review.  I'm going to try to knock off at least two a week and get through them all.  They run the gamut from pretty good to pretty bad.  As far as Jody Seabody goes, they are probably closer to the bad end of the spectrum.

I really don't know what to make of these guys.  The two songs on this 7" are just all over the place.  Both songs are five minutes long and neither really warrant that much time spent on them.  The A side "Some Witch" shifts from mood to mood.  There are parts with vocals over minimal guitar and washed out drums.  Then the song kicks in to a pretty awesome guitar riff.  This riff repeats itself a couple of times throughout the song, but Jody Seabody never really does anything with it.  The rest of the song alternates between somber moaning vocals and some other dude just shouting.  They're trying to be psychedelic and punky all in the same song and it really doesn't work.

While "Some Witch" is a bit of a mess and could use some focus, at least there's a few interesting ideas going on.  The B side "Tuesday" is just a slab of meathead punk rock that essentially is an excuse for gang vocals to shout "Everybody wants to talk about Tuesday" over and over again for three minutes.  Then as a bonus, the song shifts into this weird synthy acid trip for another two minutes.  Then we get muttered spoken word over over a heartbeat drum machine track and assorted swooshes and other noises.  This is the sort of song that should be ninety seconds long and thrown in as a joke between real songs.  It should not be a five minute opus.  I do not understand it at all.

As always, I'm appreciative of anyone that sends me a record to check out, it is one of the nice benefits of doing a dumb website like this, but man this is a record I just can't get behind.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Survival Knife - Survivalized 12" - Clear Vinyl


Chunklet (2014)

I'm all out of records for Unwound Wednesday.  Best I can tell, I now have a complete set of Unwound 7"s.  Since the last of the Numero Group box sets will catch me up on all of the full lengths, I'm content stopping there.  Though somehow I managed to buy 2 copies of the Unwound/Versus split.  Don't ask me how I pulled off that one.

So, as a closing to this great day of the week, I'll wrap up with the newest Survival Knife EP.  That seems fitting to me as it is the new band of Justin Trosper of Unwound along with the original Unwound drummer, Brandt Sandeno.  Right off the bat, let me just make clear that although it doesn't rival my dislike of cassettes, I do not like EPs.  I figure if you only have a few songs, put out a 7".  If you have too many songs for a 7", save up a few more and put out a full album.  12" EPs are just too expensive for the amount of music you get.

That being said, this is one hell of an EP.  Last year's full length, Loose Power, was one of my absolute favorites.  This EP shows the band is still firing on all cylinders.  There are 3 new songs along with an alternate version of album track "Gold Widow" and a live version of "Roman Fever."  Honestly, I'd be fine chucking those 2 and just having a 7" of the 3 new amazing songs.

The two A side songs are fast and intense with searing guitar and Justin's trademark soft/scream vocals.  They have the energy of Hot Snakes, but with more left of center guitar work.  In particular, "Tropic Of Chaos" is just outstanding.  The B side's new track, "Lasso or Noose" is more of a sprawling instrumental.  It clocks in at over seven minutes, but explores some pretty interesting paths during that run.  It's probably the main reason this had to be a 12" rather than a 7".  OK, maybe the EP is a format that annoys me, but these Survival Knife songs are worth every penny.  I hope they are already hard at work on a new LP because I want more.

Survival Knife - Survivalized 12":

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Harpoon Forever - American Flag 7"


Sweaters & Pearls (2014)

One of the interesting things about doing this website is the occasional record that someone sends me to review.  I don't get many, but recently there's been a bit of an uptick in the amount I've been receiving.  Sure they typically range from 'just OK' to pretty awful, but every so often I'll get one that hits just the right spot with me.  I'm so picky when it comes to music and I really can't put my finger on what makes me dislike one band and like another at times.  What I can tell you is that I like Harpoon Forever.

The description that came with this record references the Silver Jews first 7" as well as Palace Music.  I think those are good touchstones for what you can expect from Harpoon Forever.  They're mining that rich artery of 90's bedroom indie rock.  They're not necessarily lo fi and they're probably a bit more straightforward than that first Silver Jews 7" (which incidentally, was always my favorite Silver Jews record), but there's some really solid mid tempo, hooky indie rock on this four song 7".  

The highlight of the record for me is the 3rd song "Chickens."  Over lightly distorted guitar and gently pattered drums, the vocals just lazily take you through the song.  Then after the first verse, everything drops out but the guitar. Slowly the drums and bass come back in and that leads into some supremely 90's fuzzed out Sebedoh quality guitar shredding that closes out the song.  Just tremendous.  It's short and sweet and the best thing on this record.

All 4 songs are strong on American Flag.  I hadn't been familiar with the band before getting this 7" sent to me.  I'm not sure I would have picked this up on my own, but I'm very glad to have this in the collection.

Harpoon Forever - American Flag 7":

Friday, January 30, 2015

Modern Warfare - Dayglo Shadows Delivered 7"


UT (2014, Reissue)

The folks at UT records have been pretty great about sending me copies of their records as they've come out.  I'm glad as there have been many more hits than misses so far.  Also exciting is that they have been doing more vinyl as of late.  This Modern Warfare 7" is the second time they've reissued an old 7" from a largely forgotten band.  I can't say that I was particularly familiar with these guys prior to getting this 7", but based on what the original pressing seems to cost on Discogs, they must be well known to others.

I have to say that this is probably my least favorite thing that UT has sent me so far.  While I would not call it bad or anything like that, it's not really the sort of punk rock that has ever been my thing. I think it's probably the vocals as there are a lot of older 70's and 80's punk bands that have a sort of nasally sneer that I've never been been able to get behind.  There's some good guitar work and the treble heavy guitar tone lends itself to the vocals, but I can't help but think it just sounds kind of old.

I'm not sure that's a valid criticism as it is old.  This 7" came out in 1980 and was recorded and pressed with the sort of punk rock budget that came with those times.  If you are into the punky power pop of this era, Modern Warfare is probably more up your alley. For me, I'm just more stuck in the 90's I guess.

Modern Warfare - Dayglo Shadows Delivered 7":

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues LP - White Vinyl


Music On Vinyl (2014, Reissue)

This will mark the third time that I've written about Briefcase Full Of Blues on this website.  A brief recap of what was previously written: This is the single most influential album I've ever had.  It's the first record I owned and without exaggeration, I've listened to it thousands of times.  I can't say enough good things about the music.  It's really one of those records that I think everyone should own.

As far as this reissue goes, I'll mostly be comparing it to the other recent pressing that came out in the US on Friday records.  This white vinyl version is only available as an import and of course, comes with a healthy price tag because of that.  The white vinyl is pretty neat looking and unlike the Friday version, Music On Vinyl uses the red, white and green Atlantic records label.  I couldn't tell you why that is so important to me, but it is.

The sound quality of both reissues are really top notch.  The Friday version may sound slightly better, but I'm really just splitting hairs as both are comparable and either version would spruce up any collection that's missing this essential record.  Keep in mind that the Friday records version is also on the pricey side, but will probably be easier to find than the Music On Vinyl version.

The final verdict?  I obviously have them both and I don't think I could settle with one or the other.  The Atlantic Records label on this version tips the scale slightly for me, purely because of nostalgia.  But anyone would be happy with the Friday records version as well.  I don't know, I suggest you buy as many blues albums as you can.

The Blues Brothers - Hey Bartender:

The Blues Brothers - Almost:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Unwound - 06/30/1999 Reykjavik, Iceland LP


Numero Group (2014)

Unwound Wednesday is hanging in there for another week.  Next week may be the last one for a while though.  This time we've got the 06/30/1999 Reykjavik, Iceland LP that was available to purchase with the third Unwound box set from Numero Group.

This LP is a five song live document from, not surprisingly, Reykjavik, Iceland.  It was recoded by RUV according to the description on the Number Group website.  I assume they're a radio station because the sound quality of these five songs is outstanding.  I've never really been a live album guy and I do somewhat question the song choices here, though the version of "Here Come The Dogs" is pretty stellar.

The LP was limited to 1000 copies and only available to purchase directly from Numero Group.  I would not call this essential by any stretch of the imagination, but for only $10 while you're picking up the No Energy box set, I don't see why you wouldn't pick it up. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Blues Brothers - Original Soundtrack Recording LP - Blue Vinyl


Music On Vinyl (2014, Reissue)

If I already own a record, I've been trying to stay away from silly, high priced cash grab reissues.  Now, if I didn't already have the record, that can be another story.  I don't always follow that rule as gospel, but I've been trying not to buy multiple copies of the same record unless it's one of my absolute favorite bands.  The Blues Brothers qualifies.

I've had this soundtrack LP since I was a child.  Unlike my childhood copy of Briefcase Full Of Blues, my copy of the soundtrack is actually still in pretty good shape.  Even so, I just had to buy this reissue on blue vinyl.  It's  UK import so there's that added expense in addition to it being a fairly pricey reissue.  I think it's around $35 - $40 depending on where you look. 

As far as quality goes, this is a really nice reissue.  The artwork looks great.  The blue vinyl is striking.  They used the old school red, green and white Atlantic records logo.  The sound quality is really nice too.  I'll say this, even though it's a pretty expensive reissue for a record that's probably not all that tough to find in $5 used bins, they really did try to make this as high end as possible.

Musically, this is just one of my favorites.  You've got Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and James Brown.  There's killer Blues Brothers songs like "Gimme Some Lovin," "She Caught The Katy" and "Sweet Home Chicago."  The only negative things I could ever say about it is that there are songs in the movie not on the original soundtrack.  It would have been nice to get a 2nd disc with those.  Plus, even since I was a little kid I never liked the female backing vocals that have been bizarrely added to "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love."  I actually recorded the version from the movie off of my DVD a long time ago and slid that into the version that lives on my iPod.

If you don't have this soundtrack, this is the best version of the LP you can currently buy.  But it's a big money commitment for someone that maybe doesn't have quite the history and passion for these songs that I have.   The Blues Brothers is the only favorite movie I've ever had since I was about 4 or 5 years old.  Having two copies of the soundtrack seems totally fine to me.

The Blues Brothers - "She Caught The Caty":

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin":

Friday, January 23, 2015

China Drum - It's Punk Rock, Son 7"


Too Pure (2014)

Early China Drum is right at the very top of my list of absolute favorites in the world.  Their first few singles and their debut album Goosefair are about as good as rock and roll gets if you ask me.  To this day, I still probably listen to Goosefair at least once or twice a month, it's just that good.  The problem is that after that initial flurry of greatness, they put out an extremely mediocre second album.  They then changed their name to The Drum and released a truly terrible record and that was that.

When news came out that China Drum was back together and playing shows again I was pretty excited.  Even better, they apparently were focusing mainly on Goosefair era tracks and ignoring some of the songs that I thought were sub par.  Then came the news that they were writing new songs.  This 7" is the first document of this new material.

The return of China Drum is a two song 7" that came out as part of the Too Pure Singles Club. Luckily, it was easily available to get without joining the club.  Unfortunately, this new China Drum 7" isn't very good.  The A side "Water" just plods along without any real energy or purpose.  This 7" is called It's Punk Rock, Son, but this song just sounds like the worst of 90's alternative rock deep album cuts.  I can't fathom why this would be the song they'd lead off their resurrection with.

B-side "Kitty's Burn" is at least a little better.  It's faster and catchier, being somewhat more representative of the band's earlier work.  But there's this ridiculous drum fill during the verse that absolutely murders the momentum of the song.  Again, how could they think that this was a good idea?  

There is a reason most people a skeptical when bands that they love get back together again.  This 7" is exhibit A.  I will not write off China Drum because of this 7", but if they put out a new album, there is absolutely no way that I will blind buy it without hearing a good chunk of it first.  The band has proven in the past they are capable of truly great things.  But they've also proven that they are not infallible and can put out some bunk songs too.

China Drum - It's Punk Rock, Son 7":

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Against Me - The Daytrotter Sessions 7"


Total Treble (2014)

This was released for the yearly Black Friday Record Store Day from this past year.  I never really understood the Black Friday one.  It always seems to me like the very worst of Record Store Day without the handful of cool records that make it tolerable.  This was literally the only thing I had any interest at all and I just ordered it online after the fact.  Like Black Friday's Record Store Day, this 7" is kind of pointless as well.

This is the very definition of a collection filler to me.  I like Against Me quite a bit, I have all of their LPs and every one of their 7"s.  So, I did feel to keep the collection complete I should pick this up as well.  I can't imagine ever listening to it again though.

It's 4 of their previously available songs.  "500 Years," "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" and "Pretty Girls" are done using an electric guitar, but played as if they were slowed down acoustic songs with minimal accompaniment from Atom Willard of Drums.  "Two Coffins" is actually played on an acoustic guitar.  I guess they're kind of interesting takes on the songs and I don't think it's wrong of them to document this with a 7" or anything like that.  I'm sure some people will be excited that this is available to own.  But for me, I just don't really care that much. 

Maybe if there was one unreleased song or something.  But honestly, the only radio sessions I want to see on vinyl at this point are those first three Beck at KCRW sessions.  That's some radio gold right there.

Against Me - The Daytrotter Sessions:
(You do have to sign up to actually listen to this on their website)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unwound - No Energy LP Box Set


Numero Group (2014)

For this week's Unwound Wednesday, I'm taking a look at the 3rd Unwound box set from Numero Group.  There's only one more to go after this and we're starting to enter into the territory of Unwound songs I'm not really as familiar with.

Starting off with 1995's The Future Of What, this box set starts off with a bang.  This is the last Unwound album I bought back in the 90's.  I was starting to move on to other things around this time and while I really did like this record, I never loved it quite as much as some people.  I'll stand by my claim that New Plastic Ideas is their best record.  Listening to The Future Of What twenty years later, I'm much more struck by how good of a record it is.  Unwound was definitely maturing in their songwriting and while they still had their share of noisy freak outs, the album is held together with a darker, bass driven undertone.

By the time 1996's Repetition came out, I wasn't paying as much attention anymore.  I'm sure I must have heard it at some point, but I never bought it and certainly don't remember much of it anymore.  So for me, this was like listening to a brand new Unwound record (as will everything in the next box set coming out).  I enjoyed Repetition way more than I thought I would and honestly, I can't figure out why I didn't like this when it came out.  Especially considering that "Corpse Pose" is such a ridiculously good song.

The last LP is a bunch of singles and rarities.  Maybe they're not quite as strong as the songs on the LPs, but everything on here is also pretty darn great.

As always, Numero did a stellar job with the box set.  The original album art is recreated on the inner album sleeves, which are then encased in larger, sturdy cardboard sleeves.  It comes with another incredible booklet with detailed writing about this stage in Unwound's history and everything is housed in in an outer box.  If you've seen the first two sets, you know what you're getting into.  This set is every bit as good as those.

I can't recommend these Unwound box sets enough.  For the price you pay (Less than some of the BS reissues you'll see on Record Store Day) you just can't beat the quality or all of the great music.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ex Hex / Twerps - Split 7" - White Vinyl (+Merge Box & CD)


Merge (2014)

The last 7" in the Or Thousand Of Prizes series from Merge is a split 7" between Ex Hex and Twerps.  Ex Hex is a band that I am somewhat familiar with.  I had seen the Mary Timony fronted band open up for Rocket From The Crypt last year.  While I did enjoy them, it wasn't to the point where I felt that I wanted to pick up one of their records.  I'm pleasantly surprised with how much I like their contribution, a cover of The Real Kids' "All Kindsa Girls."  It's tremendously catchy in a garage-y Ramones sort of way.  Just a really fun song.  

Twerps, on the other hand, is a band that I'd never heard of before getting this 7".  Their song "Science" is pretty good.  It leans towards the indie rock side of the spectrum with muddy production, but strong harmonies piercing through the fog.  It has a distinct 90's sound, but I'm having a difficult time really pinning it down.  It mostly reminds me of Cub or Go Sailor, but not nearly as in-your-face upbeat and energetic.  I actually like this song a bit more.  I'll have to check out more of their records as I was pretty intrigued by this.

Since this is the last of the series, I've also taken a picture of some of the bonuses.  It comes with a nice, sturdy box set to hold all of the singles.  They also sent along a CD of every song in the series (I nice bonus since the 7"s didn't have MP3 download coupons). I also got a Merge shirt and another bonus 12" of Merge bands covering other Merge bands (That's a review for another day).  

For the money, the quality of these records is really worth it.  Merge handled this like champs.  The records always came out on time and the extras were really cool.  Musically, I can't say this series thrilled me as a whole.  Though I was really into Superchunk, Mikal Cronin, King Kahn and a few others; for the most part this just seemed like a box set of mid afternoon NPR bands.  I wish there were some more bands with a little more oomph.  Still, it's hard to complain about this series as it was just presented so flawlessly.  Kudos to Merge.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Crooked Fingers / Spider Bags - Split 7" - Green Vinyl


Merge (2014)

We're in the home stretch for the Merge Records Or Thousands Of Prizes singles series.  For the November release they paired up Crooked Fingers and Spider Bags.

Let me admit right up front that I hate Crooked Fingers.  That band drives me out of my mind.  Sure, it may simply be because Eric Bachmann was in Archers Of Loaf and Crooked Fingers sounds nothing like Archers.  But I think even past that it's because I've always felt that Crooked Fingers was making pretentious music just for the sake of it.  I'm sure I'm wrong, but I've tried to give them another chance again and again and I just never like anything they's done.  Their contribution to this split is no different.  "Western Line" is built over minimal rhythmic drumming, the occasional quick guitar overlay and harmonized lyrics that sound like their off of a band Paul Simon benefit record from the 80's.  It's just not for me.

On the flip side, Spider Bags are a band I find much more agreeable.  While they don't knock my socks off or anything, their song "Into A Tree" benefits from being much more upbeat and cohesive.  The cadence of the lyrics remind me a little bit of The Dandy Warhols, but just slightly.  When compared to the other side of this record it sounds like the best song in the world, but in reality it's just ok.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Samiam - Billy LP - Green Vinyl


New Red Archives (2012, Reissue)

Billy is the last of the Samiam full length albums that I needed to round out my collection.  There are still quite a few EPs and 7"s floating around out there, but at least I have the main ones taken care of.

Billy was Samiam's 3rd full length and was absolutely their best one up until that point if you ask me.  It still was reasonably tough and punk rock but it showcased the band's pop songwriting chops way more than anything else they had previously released.  For my money, I still think that Clumsy is the best Samiam record, but Billy is definitely no slouch.

Especially when you have a song as good as "Well" on your record.  With it's vaguely sinister lead guitar riff and buckets of energy, you could make the argument that "Well" is the best Samiam song they ever wrote.  But let's not discount the rest of this album as it quite good for the most part.  There's a handful of slower songs that drag down the record in places, but in general Billy has way more high points than low. 

It still blows my mind that this record came out in 1992.  The fact that these punk rock records that I remember seeing in the record store and passing on because I just wasn't that interested at the time is just weird.  I remember it all like it was yesterday.  At least with age I was able to go back and appreciate Samiam in ways that I didn't when I was younger.  They ended up being a pretty great band.

Samiam - "Well":

Samiam - "Hey Brother":

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Unwound / Steel Pole Bathtub - Split 7"


Honey Bear (1996)

I probably don't have many more Unwound Wednesdays left.  I'm pretty much through all of the 7"s of theirs I picked up.  This one is a split with Steel Pole Bathtub.  I generally love split 7"s.  They were pretty much my favorite thing back in the 90's.  You buy a record for a band you like and then you get to hear another band on the flip side.  I discovered a lot of new music that way and I still love picking up new split 7"s when I have the chance.  They're not quite as common as they were back then, but they're still around.

This split is an odd bird.  There is no label at all on the record itself and the bands are not identified on the artwork anywhere.  I guess that's not really that big of a deal as your loyal record store employee would likely just write it on the plastic sleeve for you before putting it out in the store. Though it does make me wonder how many of these records went out into the world and sat around because no one knew who was on it.

Anyway, Unwound deliver one of their slower paced, gradually building songs for their side of the split.  It's classic mid 90's Unwound working off of a sliding bass guitar loop with softly spoken vocals.  I tend to like it when they're a bit more chaotic, but it's still a very good song. 

Steel Pole Bathtub delivers all of the chaos you would need on this record as their side is really just noise.  I'm sure I sound like an uneducated poser and all, but I do not understand this sort of thing at all.  The song starts with a fury of pounding drums and feedback before dissipating into the occasional noisy squall over some primal and repetitive chanting.  I couldn't tell you if this is good noise or bad noise.  All I can tell you for sure that the only way I'll ever play that side of this record again is if I put it on by mistake because the sides aren't labeled.  I couldn't find this song streaming online, but you probably don't need to hear it to be honest.

Unwound - "Seen Not Heard":

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Remember The Radio - Owls From The Firewater LP


Self Released (2014)

I don't really get a whole lot of records sent to me to review and even when someone sends me a record rarely is it a full length album.  Not only did Remember The Radio send me their newest release, but they also sent their two prior LPs as well.  That's a lot of music by a band to go through in one sitting, so I'll have to get to the other two at a later time.

Owls From The Firewater starts off slow.  Really slow actually.  I wouldn't say in a bad way, but it definitely has a Sea Change era Beck vibe to it.  From the acoustic guitar to the plaintive distant sounding vocals, it's pretty spot on.  Now an album full of that could have been pretty annoying honestly, but luckily Remember The Radio has more than one trick up their sleeve.

As the album goes on the songs get louder and fuller.  The acoustic guitar gives way to fuzzy electric.  The drumming becomes more intent and hard hitting and I guess the singer moves a little closer to the microphone.  Tempo wise, Everything remains pretty slow for the duration of the album, but there is some variety thrown around.

That being said, I really can't say I like this album all that much.  It's not bad, but it never grabs me and screams at me to pay attention.  I find that it tends to just play in the background as I lose focus and start working on something else.  Owls From The Firewater is decent listening, however it never really rises above decent for me.  Maybe if you can get down with ten pretty slow songs in a row this will be more up your alley. I need bands to step on the gas every now and then.

Remember The Radio - Owls From The Firewater:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Prince - In The Living Room 7"


Dead Broke / Drunken Sailor / ADD / No Breaks (2014)

No, not the purple Prince.  This Prince is an actual band hailing from Austin, TX.  It makes you wonder how long they can hold this out before the purple one tries to make them change their band name.  We'll see I guess.

This Prince is has certainly put out a better record than the other one has in a few decades as this 7" is packed with four killer punk rock songs.  They bridge that gap between garage and pop punk in a way that reminds me a bit of Low Culture with furious guitar strumming and big catchy choruses.  Though all four are great, the one that really stands out to me is "Tips From Margarita."  It's a masterclass in incorporating a simple two note lead guitar riff into a song that just elevates everything around it.

I know that Prince has another 7" floating around out there somewhere and after hearing this one, I am going to have to track that one down as well.  This is just such a fun, listenable record and I am very hopeful we'll hear more from these guys really soon.

Prince - In The Living Room 7":

Friday, January 9, 2015

Beach Slang - Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street 7" - Orange Vinyl (/100)


Tiny Engines (2014)

Sometimes people really get bent out of shape about preorders.  Sure, I ordered this record back in September and just got it a few days ago, but vinyl delays at pressing plants shouldn't be anything new to people.  I've seen a lot of folks freaking out on message boards about this delay, but Tiny Engines did a pretty good job of keeping everyone in the loop.  The one thing that they probably could have done but didn't would have been to send out an email to everyone that bought the record updating them on the delay.  That would be helpful for those not as active on message boards and the label's website and what not.  Still, a silly thing to get worked up ocver.

This is the 2nd Beach Slang 7" and you could argue it's just as good as the first 7".  For the most part this is slower paced, serious punk rock.  It still has solid hooks and some great melodies, particularly on "American Girls And French Kisses."  I really like these guys a lot, but I will caution that they may get a bit sentimental and syrupy for some people.  I don't want to throw around the "E" word, but the lyrics certainly have that heart-on-your-sleeve flavor.

The orange vinyl was limited to 100 copies sold direct by the label.  My wife bought this for me on my phone while we were driving on the New Jersey Parkway.  Isn't technology grand?

Beach Slang - Cheap Thrills On A Dead End Street 7":

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Even Hand - Even Hand LP


Mandible (2013)

This album was just another one of those records I picked up on a lark.  Whenever I order a record direct from a label, I try really hard to go through their distro list and add to my order.  It takes the sting of shipping costs out of my main purchase and I'd like to think kicking a few more bucks to the label is helpful in some capacity.  I can't remember what part of their description made me pick up this album, but I am quite glad I did.

I'm never going to be offended if I'm accused of being too into 90's sounding bands.  I will own up to that right away, I love the 90's musically and Even Hand would have fit in nicely during that decade as well.  Their debut is a little bit indie rock, a little bit post punk but every song just has a killer hook.  They have the noisy guitar work of an Archers Of Loaf type band, but the vocals are completely different and don't have that Eric Bachmann rasp to them.

Typically I'm one to gravitate to the faster, poppier songs on an album and Even Hand delivers a show stopper in "The More It Shows."  But, I find myself going back to some of the slightly slower and more textured songs on the record like "Down The Lighted Strip" and "I'm Not Concerned.  It's just a great record overall and I'm a little bummed that it took me this long to discover these guys.  It looks like they just released their followup album digitally on Bandcamp. I don't see any mention of it coming out on vinyl, but I sure hope some label gets it together and puts that out.

Even Hand - Even Hand:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

V/A - Jabberjaw No. 1 7"

Mammouth (1994)

The first Jabberjaw CD was one of my favorite compilations back in the 90's.  It just had a little bit of everything on it and believe me I played it quite a bit.  I'd never really gone crazy trying to get the four 7"s that made up the original version of the compilation even though they don't tend to be particularly expensive.  However, when I decided that I wanted to complete the Unwound 7" collection, it would never be finished unless I owned this record.  So after a few weeks of end of the year and holiday wackiness, Unwound Wednesday is back.

We'll start out with Unwound as they are the entire reason I bought this 7".  Their contribution "Broken E Strings" is my absolute, hands down favorite Unwound song.  Its slow, quiet verse suddenly explodes into one of the more chaotic choruses you're likely to hear.  I could listen to this song over and over and over again.  Though the band had many highlights, you'll find none higher than this song.

The other 3 were never really among my favorites on the compilation.  I always found Helmet a bit too noisy, but always in a sterile kind of way that I didn't quite understand.  "Turned Out" is no exception.  I can't say it's inherently bad, but I can't say that I like it either.  "Borax" by Slug also isn't going to win any prizes from me.  It feels a little directionless, but it is quite loud.  So it's got that going for it.  Hammerhead's song "Cleaning Woman" would probably be my second favorite on this 7". It has a blazing fast guitar riff, pounding drums and although the singer is quite loud and shouts a lot, he never breaks down into an annoying scream.

Really this 7" is just all about that Unwound song.  It's just perfect.  You could interchange any other 3 bands around it and it would still be an absolutely essential purchase.  Or I guess you could by the Numero Group Unwound box set that has this song on it.  That way you'll also end up with a ton of other great Unwound songs.

Unwound - "Broken E Strings":

Helmet - "Turned Out":

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - I Wish My Brother George Was Here 2xLP


Traffic (2004, Reissue)

Admittedly, I don't buy a ton of hip hop records anymore.  I listened to a lot of rap from about 1988 to 1993 or 4, but after that I just lost interest.  As the genre became more popular, I feel like the options became less diverse.  I know a lot of the really innovative stuff got pushed underground and I have stuck my toe in from time to time, but to me, that late 80's early 90's era was the golden age of rap.

Released in 1991, this could be considered one of the most important hip hop records I ever bought.  Not necessarily because of its direct influence, but because I liked it enough to purchase Del's follow up No Need For Alarm, in 1993.  No Need For Alarm became my all time favorite hip hop record ever and led me to go crazy buying everything in that was released by Del's Hieroglyphics crew.  Souls Of Michief, Casual, Extra Prolific; they all ended up being some of the greatest records I ever heard, but it all started here.

I Wish My Brother George Was Here is primarily built off of Parliament Funkadelic samples.  Though, when this record came out, sampling P-funk wasn't quite as common as it later became.  Most people know the hit single off this record "Mistadobalina," and it's a hit in every sense of the word.  Seeing the video on Yo! MTV Raps made me immediately rush out and buy this album.  But's in not a one song record.  "Hoodz Come In Dozens," "Pissin' On Your Steps" and The Wacky World Of Rapid Transit" all should have been big hits.  The entire album is remarkably strong and it's downright eerie to think that this record came out 24 years ago.

While Del would absolutely surpass his debut with No Need For Alarm, I Wish My Brother George Was Here is no slouch of a record.  Del's dynamic lyrics and slightly off kilter flow are still on display and while it doesn't hold up quite as well as No Need For Alarm, it's still a pretty important record to have in the collection.  I couldn't tell you why it took quite so long to add the vinyl version to mine.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - "Mistadobalina":

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - "Dr. Bombay":

Monday, January 5, 2015

Screamfeeder - Kitten Licks LP - Red Vinyl


Poison City (2014, Reissue)

Kitten Licks is one of my very favorite records of the late 90's.  Though it originally came out in Australia in 1996, I first heard of it when it was reissued in America in 1999 by Time Bomb.  I'm not sure that Screamfeeder ever made it out of the used promo bin back then, but for me and a handful of likeminded friends, this record was just amazing.

It had super catchy, fuzzed out guitar work that built a foundation for the male/female vocal interplay of Tim Stewart and Kellie Lloyd.  Nowhere is their chemistry more evident than on on their masterpiece of a song "Dart."  Over a start/stop guitar riff, the two engage in some incredible call and response melodies.  This is a song that was put on mixtapes for years after the fact and it's just one of the many, many highlights of this album.

Screamfeeder was around for a while and put out quite a few records in Australia during their time. While everything of theirs that I have heard is pretty good, Kitten Licks is just something special.  Poison City did a tremendous job with this reissue.  The vinyl sounds top notch and the packaging looks sharp.  I like that they used the original Australian art (Which they should as the band, the original label that released the record and Poison City are all based in Australia) instead of the wacky purple tornado that adorned the American version.  

You may not be familiar with Screamfeeder, but they are well worth going out of your way to listen to.  Conveniently, the album is up on Bandcamp to check out, so make with the checking.

Screamfeeder - Kitten Licks LP:

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Absolute Best Records Of 2014


2014 was another year where I bought way too many records.  Luckily there was no shortage of fantastic albums released this year.  Everything on my list is a great record and worthy of a listen, but in particular the top 5 records on this list are all essential purchases.

Cloud Nothings and The No Marks dominated my turntable in 2014 as I couldn't even tell you how many times I listened to each.  I'm always extra excited to add bands to my year end list that have never been on before.  Sonic Avenues and Steve Adamyk Band are both longtime stalwarts of my end of the year lists and once again they each delivered a truly fantastic album. So Cow and Stay Clean Jolene couldn't be more different, but they both jumped way up on my list despite the fact that they came out later in the year and I haven't spent nearly the amount of time with them as some of the others.

I also wanted to make sure I specifically point out Minutes, Bear Trade and Freak Wave as I think they are bands that likely didn't get as much attention as some of the bigger name bands in 2014, but all three put out amazing records that really shouldn't be missed.

01 - Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else - Carpark  (Listen)
02 - The No Marks - Light Of One - Brassneck  (Listen)
03 - Sonic Avenues - Mistakes - Dirtnap  (Listen)
04 - Steve Adamyk Band - Dial Tone - Dirtnap  (Listen)
05 - So Cow - The Long Con - Goner  (Listen)
06 - Survival Knife - Loose Power - Glacial Pace  (Listen)
07 - Minutes - Roland - Self Released  (Listen)
08 - Gold-Bears - Dalliance - Slumberland  (Listen)
09 - Unwelcome Guests - Wavering - Dirtcult / One Percent Press  (Listen)
10 - Stay Clean Jolene - Stay Clean Jolene - Dead Broke / Rad Girlfriend / Drunken Sailor / Eager Beaver  (Listen)

11 - Murmurs - Bound - Dead Broke
12 - Blank Pages - Blank Pages - Dirtcult
13 - The Blind Shake - Breakfast Of Failures - Goner
14 - Herzog - Boys - Exit Stencil
15 - Bear Trade - Blood And Sand - Dead Broke / Everything Sucks
16 - Freak Wave - Don't Let Me Down - Poison City
17 - Dan Sartain - Dudesblood - One Little Indian
18 - Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin - Merge
19 - Your Pest Band - Time To Go - Snuffy Smiles
20 - Needles//Pins - Shamebirds - Dirtcult

21 - Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright In The End - Republic
22 - The Capitalist Kids - At A Loss - It's Alive / Toxic Pop / Rad Girlfriend
23 - Wringer - Bullfighter - Smellhound
24 - Songs For Snakes - Year Of The Snake - Self Released
25 - The Creeps - Eulogies - It's Alive
26 - Nude Beach - 77 - Don Giovanni
27 - Average Times - Average Times - Hosehead
28 - Mother's Children - Lemon - Taken By Surprise
29 - The Estranged - The Estranged - Dirtnap
30 - Matthew Melton - Outside Of Paradise - Southpaw

Other Records I Bought & Enjoyed This Year:
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues - Total Treble
Banner Pilot - Souvenir - Fat Wreck
Beck - Morning Phase - Capitol
The Both - The Both - SuperEgo
Brick Mower - Teenage Graceland - Don Giovanni
The Cry! - Dangerous Game - Taken By Surprise
Failures' Union - Tethering - Dead Broke
Hospital Job - The Believer - It's Alive / Insubordination
Hurry - Everything/Nothing - Hot Green
Jet Black - In Paradox - Self Released
Mapmaker - Critical Path - Salinas / One Percent Press
Masked Intruder - M.I. - Fat Wreck
Martha - Courting Strong - Salinas
The Men - Tomorrow's Hits - Sacred Bones
Missing Monuments - Missing Monuments - Dirtnap
Napalmpom - The Unconditional Love Of - Teenage Rampage
The Pixies - Indie Cindy - Pixies Music
The Raging Nathans - Losing It - Dead Broke / Rad Girlfriend / Recess
The Yolks - Kings Of Awesome - Randy
The Young Leaves - Alive And Well - Baldy Longhair
Warm Soda - Young Reckless Hearts - Castle Face
"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun - RCA