Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Custody - Stitches Are All I Have 7" - Red Vinyl (/73)

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Brassneck (2015)

Custody hails from Finland and I feel that is worth mentioning as it's been a while since I featured a band from this part of Europe.  In the 90's and early 2000's, there were a slew of bands from the Sweden, Norway and Finland region that were in constant rotation.  Starmarket, Chester Copperpot, Manifesto Jukebox, Him Kerosene, Beezwax, the list goes on and on.  Then something happened.  I'm not sure if the music scene changed over there or if I gradually fell out of touch as I got old.  If anyone out there knows of great bands from this area that I have been overlooking, please get in touch and let me know.

Anyway, back to Custody.  These guys are playing a really great version of melodic punk rock.  So much of this kind of music can be traced through influences that will eventually lead you back to Jawbreaker or Leatherface.  As a super generic comparison, I'd say Jawbreaker is a more appropriate starting point, but to me Custody really falls into the branch of punk rock that bands like Iron Chic and to some extent RVIVR are existing in.  The vocals are impassioned and somewhat gruff.  There's a heart-on-your-sleeve vibe here that never falls into schmaltzy emo trappings, but makes the songs more engaging and feel more honest.

Musically, there's guitar octaves in all of the right places, some stutter stops in the breaks and most important to me, giant catchy choruses.  It's a great introduction to Custody and I'm very eager to hear some more out of these guys.

Custody - Stitches Are All I Have 7":

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Malos Modales - Cronicas Terrestres 7"

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Drunken Sailor (2015)

I find Drunken Sailor to be a very trustworthy label.  I tend to pick up most everything they release (though they do a lot of split releases, so often I grab those from the American label to save on postage).  When they give their stamp of approval on a band, the odds of me enjoying that band are pretty high.  When they announced this Malos Modales 7" and gave a brief description, I knew pretty much immediately it was a record that I would be picking up.

These guys certainly didn't let me down.  Malos Modales sounds like something of a combination of Fix My Brain era Marked Men crossed with There Are No Answers era Something Fierce.  They've got a ferocity in their guitar riffs and a mastery of catchy hooks that so few bands can combine.   The vocals are all in Spanish, so I only have a small understanding of what they lyrics are about, but let's be honest; I'm not much of a lyrics guy and don't really have any idea what the Marked Men are singing about either.  I'd be surprised if that would really affect your enjoyment of these songs, it certainly doesn't make me love these songs any less.

The Drunken Sailor description of this 7" mentions that it's the best EP they had heard in ages.  I'll alter that slightly and say that this is far and away the best debut 7" I have heard in a long, long time.  It's so instantly memorable and just so great.  I really hope that Malos Modales is working on some more records because rest assured, I will be buying those the very second they are available.

Malos Modales - Cronicas Terrestres 7":

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Jones - Gravity Blues LP - Blue Splatter Vinyl

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Boss Tuneage (2015, Reissue)

It took me a little while to realize that this album had actually been released on vinyl, but I couldn't begin to tell you how thrilled I was to discover that it was.  The Jones is arguably the most under appreciated band to feature Dickie Hammond.  I'm not sure if it just got lost in the shuffle and not enough people heard it, but whenever I read anything about the great albums that Dickie was a part of, I never heard this mentioned.

It's a bit of a shame as aside from Leatherface, The Jones could be my favorite thing that Dickie ever did.  Just give the opening track "Monotone" about forty-five seconds.  With its searing guitar riff in the verse, the slowed down, hook filled chorus and impassioned vocals from Golly (also from HDQ like Dickie), you'd be hard pressed to find a more impressive song in Dickie's arsenal.  But it's not the only one.  The album is nearly perfect in execution with song after song of incredibly dynamic guitar work.  It's kind of crazy to me that more people don't know and love this album.

For this vinyl reissue the fine folks at Boss Tuneage have also tacked on two 7"s that preceded the Jones full length.  The Stokoe 7" and Fatty Jones 7" both featured Dickie and Golly, but each had a different cast of characters supporting them on other instruments.  Fidelity wise, the three Stokoe songs stand out a bit from the rest, but as far as song quality goes, they are every bit as good.  

Again, I couldn't be more excited to finally have these songs on vinyl.  Maybe The Jones isn't quite as well known as Leatherface, HDQ or even Doctor Bison; but they should be.  Every song on here is incredible and this is absolutely a record you should go out of your way to pick up if you don't already own it.

The Jones - Gravity Blues:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gleam Garden / Chestnut Road - Split 7" - Green Vinyl (Japanese Cover)

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Snuffy Smiles / Brassneck (2015)

This is the Japanese version of the Gleam Garden / Chestnut Road split 7".  The songs are the same as the UK version, so you can click on yesterday's review of this 7" for more details about the music.  In a nutshell, both bands are insanely good and you should buy this 7" immediately if not sooner.

Also, in case you missed it yesterday, PopKid will be joining these fine labels (Brassneck & Snuffy Smiles) and we are going to be putting out the new Chestnut Road full length album very soon.  We're just waiting on a few more things and then you'll be able to hear this great, great record.  In the mean time, we have one song from that album "Handshake," streaming over at the PopKid Bandcamp page.  Check it out and let me know what you think:

Chestnut Road - "Handshake":
https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/lp-ii

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gleam Garden / Chestnut Road - Split 7" - Green Vinyl (UK Version)

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Brassneck / Snuffy Smiles (2015)

Now we're really talking.  A split 7" by two bands that I already have a bunch of records by and two bands that I just love.  Plus, with the addition of Brassneck records as a label co-conspirator, we get a rare Snuffy Smiles 7" on green vinyl.  This 7" was made with two covers.  The one is pictured above is of the Brassneck version.  Snuffy Smiles has their own exclusive cover for this record, but I'll post that picture tomorrow.

We'll start up with Gleam Garden.  A wonderful Japanese band that have been cranking out tremendous records for the last few years.  They've managed to pull from the influences of older Japanese pop punk bands like Blew or Husking Bee, but still keep things interesting and fresh.  Both songs on this record are just picture perfect examples what Gleam Garden is capable of.  "Empty Night, Empty Cry" is an upbeat and ultra catchy rocker in the best possible way.  "Stop The World" slows things down just a bit but still maintains the energy that the band is known for.  The closing moments of the song, in particular, are just perfect.

The other band on this record are from France.  They are Chestnut Road and if you've been reading my website for any length of time you know how much I love this band.  Even though they are from a completely different country, they are carrying the torch of my favorite music scenes ever, the mid 90s melodic punk rock of the UK.  The most obvious comparison is to the band Broccoli, but you can certainly hear how the band has been influenced by other bands from that scene as well as some of the great Japanese bands of the 90s like Lovemen or Blew.  Their two songs on this split are just as good as anything the band has ever released.  I just adore this band and encourage you to buy anything of theirs you can get your hands on.

And now an unpaid message from PopKid Records:

Speaking of which, I like Chestnut Road so much, I'm going to help people get their hands on at least one of their records.  There's a little something up on the PopKid Records website as well, but I'm thrilled to announce that PopKid will be releasing the new Chestnut Road full length in a few weeks. It's the first new record we're putting out on PopKid in about ten years.  I couldn't be more excited and I can't wait to tell you more about it and start selling these records.  We're not going to do a preorder because we hate those. Once the records are in hand, they will be for sale.  You will be able to get this new record in the US from PopKid, in Europe from the wonderful Brassneck Records and In Japan from the legendary Snuffy Smiles.  We're streaming one song from the record on our Bandcamp page, so go check it out here: https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/lp-ii

And publicly, please let me thank Scott from Brassneck, Yoichi from Snuffy Smiles and everyone in Chestnut Road for letting us be a part of this album.  We couldn't be more excited.

Gleam Garden / Chestnut Road - Split 7":
https://brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/gleam-garden-chestnut-road-split-7

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Your Pest Band / The Invisible Teardrops - Split 7"

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Snuffy Smiles (2015)

This split is another in the never ending stream of Snuffy Smiles split 7"s that have been coming out of Japan for over 20 years.  These days, I think you can safely say that Your Pest Band are the standard bearers of Snuffy Smiles.  They are insanely prolific and have constantly been putting out new records, but their home base has always been Snuffy Smiles.

The two Your Pest Band songs continue their descent into a spaced out mix of traditional Japanese pop punk and a more melodic, garagey sound.  There's a little echo going on in the vocals and the guitar riffs will get stuck in your head for days.  No matter what Your Pest Band releases, it's always deeply rooted in a catchy, if not sometimes warped, pop hook.  Both songs on their side of the split are perfect additions to their rapidly expanding catalog.

On the flip side is a band called The Invisible Teardrops.  Prior to getting this 7", I had never heard of them.  I find it fascinating that Yoichi from Snuffy Smiles always manages to get his hands on relatively unknown bands from America before the rest of the world catches on.  On "Shiver," The Invisible Teardrops ease through a nice mid tempo pop song with a tiny bit of twang, reverb tinged vocals and a little keyboard.  Definitely the highlight of their side of this record.  The second song "Shoaly" is a bit slower, but still pretty good.  You'll need to be patient though as there's a reasonably long intro/drum thing that seems like an odd way to start off a song to me.

Definitely better than yesterday's split, you really need this 7" for the Your Pest Band songs.  The Invisible Teardrops are just a nice bonus.  As usual, you can't really find anywhere to stream Snuffy Smiles releases, but this is worth going out of your way to pick up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Holy Shit / Groaning Groove - Split 7"

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Snuffy Smiles (2015)

It's always a wonderful time when I can take a few days and review a handful of 7"s from Snuffy Smiles, perhaps the greatest record label in the history of the earth.  I could certainly make an argument for it anyway.  That being said, with over a hundred and thirty 7"s in their catalog, they are not all going to be slam dunks for me.  This is one of those 7"s that doesn't quite hit that bar that Snuffy Smiles sets so high.

First up we have the band Holy Shit.  They've put out other records through Snuffy Smiles, so they are not a new addition to my collection.  Typically, I listen to their songs once as a courtesy (or to review) and then I never really go back again.  I picture that being the same for their side of this split.  Holy Shit is playing a super fast style of short hardcore songs.  They've crammed seven songs onto their side of the record that have insane drumming and way too much yelling for my taste.

On the other side is Groaning Grove.  While not playing the sort of hardcore that Holy Shit is going through, there is still quite a bit more shouting on their songs than I really want to listen to.  Musically, they lean more towards an abrasive and fast garage sound.  There are definitely some interesting riffs and a general enthusiasm that I can get behind, but when the singer starts up I immediately tune out.  I would buy this 7" no matter what in order to keep my Snuffy Smiles 7" collection complete, but I cannot recommend it if you want to pick it up and actually listen to it.  Unless you like yelling a lot more than I do.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Please Stand By

Will return with new reviews next week (2/01).  Sorry for the lack of updates this week.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

By Default By Design - Rise 7" - Red Vinyl

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3345 Music (2015)

Last year I was sent the first By Default By Design 7".  I didn't like it and gave it quite the shellacking (or schlonging if you prefer) here. I guess that didn't discourage the fellow behind the music to send me his next 7", Rise.  Amazingly, this might even be worse.

By Default By Design is still working with the worst sounding guitar tone known to man.  Not quite acoustic and not quite electric, but rather a combination that somehow highlights the worst elements of both.  On top of that, on this 7" he seems to have forgotten how to sing.  A-side "Rise" is delivered in the goddamn weirdest falsetto you've ever heard.  You would almost think it's a Ween joke song if not for the heavy handed, over sentimentality of the lyrics.  Then if you flip this to the B-side "Beautiful Boy" he's just whispering the entire song.

This is terrible.  I can appreciate that this guy is psyched about having a kid, but I don't need to be beaten over the head with that while listening to a 7".  I see from the By Default By Design Bandcamp page that this guy is working on a full length.  I've never said this before, but please don't send it to me.  You'll just waste a copy and money on postage.  I don't want to listen to a full album of stuff like this.  I appreciate you sending what you have, but I think at this point we should agree to disagree.

By Default By Design - Rise 7":

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wavves x Cloud Nothings - S/T LP - Red Vinyl

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Ghost Ramp (2016)

For starters, I ordered this months and months ago.  I'm the sort of person who does enough pre-orders that I understand the delays that can happen, but I ordered and paid for this record in June and didn't get it until about a week ago.  That's a little ridiculous and the label now has a monthly vinyl club subscription up for sale.  Don't be surprised that I don't have a ton of faith in that one...

So as far as I'm concerned, this record came out in 2016, not 2015.  When first reading about this collaboration between Wavves and Cloud Nothings, I was pretty intrigued.  I like Wavves and I really loved the last Cloud Nothings record, so this was sure to be good right?  Well, it is good, but that's all it is.  In pooling their talents, for some reason Wavves and Cloud Nothings sort of cancel each other out and this collaboration isn't nearly as good as either band on their own.

In general they mostly sound like lesser Cloud Nothings throwaways.  They don't have the oomph or the strong production that Cloud Nothings has and end up sounding a little murky. It's a short nine song record as is, plus two of the songs are just minute and a half instrumental noodling, so you really only get seven full songs.  This record isn't bad and a couple of the songs are actually pretty good, but it ended up being a bit of a let down compared to what I know both bands are capable of.

Wavves x Cloud Nothings - S/T:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The DTs - Dirty Jack 7" (/300)

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Five-Five Hole (2015)

It's always interesting opening up a package of records that I didn't specifically order.  When someone sends something for me to review, I've been sent more misses than hits, but I'm still always hopeful that something new is going to pop in and blow my mind.  When you open the package and you see that the band in question is sporting ex-Mono Men, you tend to think there's a better than average chance that you've hit pay dirt this time.

This 7" is my first exposure to the DTs and if this 7" is any indication, this is a band I could get behind.  The A-side "Dirty Jack" is a slow building, guitar chugging beast of a song.  With the wailing vocals of Diana Young and the repetitious, but hard hitting guitar riff, it's a pretty good time.  In many ways it reminds me a lot of a tougher Boss Hogg.

On the B-side we have "Restless."  This is a cover of a song by the Cobras.  The Cobras only released one single on Stax back in the 60's, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything that Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn touched that wasn't pretty stellar.  The DTs version is a little meaner and a little louder, but every bit as fun and grooving.  

The DTs - Dirty Jack 7":

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pavement - The Secret History, Volume 1 (1990 - 1992)

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Matador (2015)

Even though I wanted this record from the moment it was announced, from the get go I've been trying to contain any disappointment concerning this release.  I knew from the second the track listing was revealed that this particular record would essentially just be the bonus tracks from the CD reissue of Slanted And Enchanted from 2002 on vinyl for the first time.  And that is what it is, no more no less.  Yet I'm still somehow a little let down.

I think the real tipping point for me was opening this guy up and seeing all the liner notes were still dated 2002.  They refer to Slanted and Enchanted as being ten years old.  I realize there probably aren't any new songs to add to this, but some new liner notes couldn't have been that hard, could it?  All of this only matters if you bought the deluxe CD reissue back when it came out.  If you didn't, why this record is essential my good friends.  Early Drag City 7" tracks, some compilation rarities, Peel sessions and a live performance pack this double LP.

I could take or leave the live show.  I've never been much of a live album or bootleg guy.  But everything else is either a great song or just something fascinating to listen to in order to see where the band was at during this time frame.  I'm admittedly much more eager to see what comes out in further volumes of this series.  The rumor has it that everyone is aware this first volume is mostly just to give a vinyl release to these songs, but going forward there are more unreleased gems to share.  We'll see how that goes, but at the end of the day this is Pavement.  It's unlikely that I won't buy everything that comes out no matter what it is.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Color T.V. - Demo 2015 Cassette

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Self Released (2015)

I'll be honest, right about now I'm getting sick of reviewing tapes.  Even though the last few (including today's) are ones that I actually bought myself, give me a slab of wax or even a CD any day over these dumb little things. Despite my cassette fatigue, this demo tape from Color T.V. is enough to shake some of my blues away.

I hunted down these guys while trying to find out what happened to the band W.H Walker.  Those guys released a perfect LP and then just seemed to vanish.  My quest (eventually) led me to the Color T.V. Bandcamp page where you can listen to the three songs on this release and order a copy of the tape.  Never one to be satisfied with only having digital copies of songs, I of course plunked down for the cassette.

While Color T.V. doesn't quite have the same kind of free wheeling, house party stomp, good time vibe of W.H Walker, they have still managed to crank out three songs that I think are pretty incredible.  The infectious vibe of W.H. Walker still exists in these songs, but they are a little more straight forward.  You have a similar downstroke guitar action like The Marked Men or Chinese Telephones, but the hooks are filtered through a completely different lens.

I really, really dig this release and am hopeful to hear more from these guys as soon as possible.  Someone should jump on Color T.V. and get some vinyl out ASAP.

Color T.V. - Demo 2015:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Herzog / Chomp - Split Cassette

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Exit Stencil (2015)

This split was another tape that was released as part of Cassette Store Day.  Luckily I didn't have to figure out what a cassette store was and go in search of it out in that cold, cruel world.  I was able to pick it up from the website directly.  I grabbed this and the Chomp cassette from yesterday within a day or two from each other.

Speaking of Chomp, I would discover when both tapes arrived the songs from Chomp on this split are both already on the Bruise Cruise cassette as well.  My opinion of these two songs hasn't changed since yesterday.  They're both pretty awful.  After posting my review of the Chomp cassette yesterday I went back and re-listened to their older full length to see if I was giving them a hard time without reason.  I can assure you I was not.  The Buddha Jabba Mumma album is still fantastic, no clue what happened to these guys in the mean time.

Luckily on the flip side is Herzog.  They have stayed true to the spirit of their last album and haven't disappointed me one bit.  Their nearly ten minute long opus "Slow Days / Arizona" is just a fantastic little slab of great song writing.  As the title suggests, it is essentially two different songs that are joined together by a little intermission meandering in the middle.  Both sections of the song are stuffed with catchy guitar riffs, soaring harmonies and all of the early-Weezer-filtered-through-a-garage-band goodness that I've come to love about this band.  I may be off Chomp at this point, but I am counting down the days until a new Herzog record.

Herzog / Chomp - Split Cassette:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chomp - Bruise Control Cassette

Untitled

Mirror Universe (2015)

While I was initially bummed that this new Chomp release was only coming out on cassette, I was really excited to hear some new tunes out of these guys.  Having been a huge fan of their 2012 Buddha Jabba Mumma I was eager to enjoy some fuzzy and catchy songs.

Somewhere between 2012 and the release of this new tape, there have been some big changes in Chomp.  The pop has vanished.  Where there was once hints of Superchunk and Wavves there is now a bunch of unnecessary yelling.  The guitar work is muscular and loud, but the hooks that this band used to cram into every song have also disappeared without a trace.  The biggest issue I have with this album is the total lack of singing.  Even on the songs where they are not screaming for the entirety, the vocals have this odd talk-sing thing going on.  Chomp has somehow gone from a band writing perfect pop songs to one that sounds like that crummy 'punk' band at high school shows that you tend to avoid.

Bruise Control is a huge disappointment for me.  It's hard to reconcile how this could even be the same band as the one that released Buddha Jabba Mumma.  Before listening to this album I figured my review would be full of pleas to put this out on vinyl, but having listened to it I don't think anyone should bother. 

Chomp - Bruise Control:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Beach Slang - Here, I Made This For You Cassette

Untitled

Polyvinyl (2015)

I'm going to try to keep knocking out some of these cassettes I have lying around.  Throughout the pages of this website, you'll see me saying how much I don't like the modern day cassette revival over and over again.  I will say this about Here, I Made This For You: If there was ever an actual reason to make something a cassette only release, this is a pretty good one.  

Released on Cassette Store Day (That's seriously the best name they could come up with? What the hell is a cassette store?) This tape is made up of five songs from other bands that Beach Slang has decided to cover.  It's presented as an old school mix tape, something very near and dear to my heart.  The band selection that they've decided to cover is great.  They've tackled groups that are likely long forgotten by the vast majority of their fans like Best Kissers In The World, Ride, Dramarama, The Plimsoles and my personal favorite of the bunch Senseless Things.

The Beach Slang version of "Too Much Kissing" really is stellar.  It's even better than the Travis Cut version of the song, which is quite the compliment coming from me.  Beach Slang take it slow and steady and have made a really spot on version of the original.  You could argue that maybe they should have taken some chances with this song to distinguish it a bit more than the original, but for me it's really the vocals than shine through here as they have an earnestness and sincerity to them that really makes this song.

This tape is labeled as "Volume 1"so hopefully this is something Beach Slang will revisit again in the future.  If they're looking for songs, may I suggest some Mega City Four or Doughboys for volume 2?

Beach Slang - Here, I Made This For You:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Space Wolves - V Cassette

Untitled 

More Power Tapes (2015)

This is the last of the More Power Tapes releases that were sent to me and I saved the best for last.  I've reviewed prior albums from Space Wolves on this website and if you've read those, you probably already know that I really dig these guys. Their fifth album V is no exception.

I really wish someone was putting these Space Wolves records out on vinyl.  I'd certainly buy a copy.  Heck, put them out on CD and I'd pick one up. Sadly all five Space Wolves records are confined to cassette tape hell, but that shouldn't dissuade you from giving these guys a shot.

Jangly, treble heavy guitar can be one of my favorite sounds in the world. It can be used in so many ways from the power pop of folks like Gentleman Jesse to the slower groove of a band like Silver Scooter.  Space Wolves actually sit very nicely in the middle of those two bands, calling on each side of the spectrum throughout this record. You've got some uptempo fast and catchy burners and then there are a fewer that slow things down and take a more melodic approach.  The band is equally successful at both.

I only have two negatives on this album.  One isn't even really a negative as I think this tape is a little too short and I wish there was more to listen to.  So that's more me being selfish than the band doing anything wrong.  The other one is more of just a pet peeve of mine as there are quite a few songs that end with the song fading out.  I couldn't tell you why that bugs me, but it's just one of those things that I don't like.  Still, these criticisms are very minor and I really dig this as a whole.  Keep it up guys.

Space Wolves - V:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/space-wolves-v

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

3 Cassettes - Faculty Men, Blobs & Found Drowned

Untitled 

More Power Tapes (2015)

Here we go, three more Cassettes form More Power Tapes:

Faculty Men - S/T - This is another one where I was hopeful based on the artwork, but this time I didn't end up being as into it as I hoped.  Faculty Men is playing a dissonant sort of punk rock.  If I had to guess, I think they might be trying for an early Unwound sort of vibe.  They are using some of the thudding bass guitar, screeching guitars and odd transitions that remind my of Unwound, though vocally, the singer from Faculty Men isn't quite as dynamic.  There's a lot of shouting and that takes away from the interesting guitar work these guys have.

Faculty Men - S/T:


Blobs - Shame - Six more songs from Blobs, who you probably remember from me not liking their first cassette yesterday.  What I can say about Shame is that it's a bit better than their debut.  The vocals aren't quite as monotone as they were on their first tape, but they are still the worst thing about this band.  I think the music portion is kind of interesting. It's fast and dynamic; even catchy in some places, but I could never listen to this unless the singer changes something.

Blobs - Shame:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/shame


Found Drowned - Spooky Sounds - I was very please to find out that Found Drowned was another surf band.  As far as More Power Tapes goes, in general they do much better with their surf bands than with their punk bands.  At least as far as getting me to like the record goes.  Like the Hamiltones, Found Drowned has something of a movie monster vide to it, though it's not as pronounced as the Hamiltones.  You can tell these guys like their cult horror movies (the tape is called Spooky Sounds afterall), but they don't beat you over the head with it.  Of all the surfy tapes in this recent batch, Found Drowned is my favorite.

Found Drowned - Spooky Sounds:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/spooky-sounds

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

3 Cassettes - The Televisionaries, Blobs & Kharlos

Untitled 

More Power Tapes (2015)

I'm going to keep trying to get through this cassette backlog I've got brewing, so here's three more tape reviews:

The Televisionaries - Freezing To Death - Of all the cassettes sent to me by More Power Tapes, this was the one I was most hopeful about.  The band name and the art set it apart from everything else.  Happily, I can report that this is pretty good.  It's another instrumental surf band, though I would say much more straight ahead and less gimmicky than the Hamiltones tape More Power Tapes had sent also sent me.  The tones are full of reverb and The Televisionaries bring a lot of energy to their songs.  The recording could use a little help on the low end side of the sound spectrum, but this is fun stuff.

The Televisionaries - Freezing To Death:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/freezing-to-death

Blobs - S/T - I wasn't expecting much from this Blobs cassette, but it's actually much better than I would have thought.  I can't go so far as to call it good, because the vocals are awful and really kill this band dead.  The music itself isn't so bad as the band is playing fuzzy, fast paced chords with some interesting change ups and a ragged garagey feel.  I've never heard high pitched vocals like this that somehow still managed to sound monotone.  Kind of weird.

Blobs - S/T:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/blobs-demo


Kharlos - Don't Think About Dying At My Party - This one is kind of interesting.  It's one of the more full sounding recordings from this batch of tapes.  I might be wrong, but I would bet these guys like The Blind Shake.  They're not making the same sort of music really, but I get the sense that on some songs they are aiming for that kind of noisy, but still catchy chaos that Blind Shake does so well.  Then again, parts of this just sound like the singer is trying to be in Jane's Addiction or in a power pop band, so what do I know.  It's alright.

Kharlos - Don't Think About Dying At My Party:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/dont-think-about-dying-at-my-party

Monday, January 4, 2016

3 Cassettes - Dudes, Cruelster & The Hamiltones

Untitled

More Power Tapes (2015)

I've said before that I don't get a lot of records sent to me to review. The vast majority of what I write are records I buy myself however I do get the occasional record sent to me and that's always fun.  Every vinyl record that anyone ever sends me will always get reviewed.  Always.  I'm less excited about tapes, but I tend to get more tapes sent to me than records for some reason.  It's probably due to the difference in cost in sending out a review copy, even though it's pretty much a lock that if you send me a tape I'll almost always write in the review that I really don't like cassettes (or tapes).

I've fallen a bit behind on these, mostly because the folks at the label More Power Tapes decided to send me this freaking gigantic pile of cassettes over the course of a few days several months ago.  It's been a daunting pile to look at, but I'm going to do my best to go through as many as I can.  I'll start with three for today.

Dudes - Ultra Vague - I decided to write these up in something of the order they appear on the label's Bandcamp page.  I can't say I was super looking forward to this based on the artwork.  It looks like the sort of crummy demo that a high school band would release.  Still, I was somewhat optimistic when the first guitar riff kicked in on "Dudes Just Wanna Have Some Fun."  That quickly faded when the vocals kicked in.  There's far to much yelling on this tape for my tastes.  To me, this is just kind of generic punk rock.

Dudes - Ultra Vague:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/ultra-vague


Cruelster - First Demo 2006 - Even though their tape is called First Demo 2006, there is a little note saying it was actually written and recorded in February of 2015.  That's not as good of a joke as Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats album only having ten songs on it.  This is a different strain of punk rock than Dudes.  There's yelling, but not as much of it.  The guitars are quieter and this is very much built on the rhythms of the bass guitar and some sort of end of song freak out.  Again, I wouldn't say this is particularly inspired and it's not really the sort of thing I'd listen to.

Cruelster - First Demo 2006:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/cruelster-first-demo-2006


The Hamiltones - S/T - Last up for today is The Hamiltones with their self titled cassette.  I'm not sure why, but I had higher hopes for this one than I did for the other two.  Some of it was the artwork being less silly looking and part of it was the fact that I kind of dig the name.  I try not to judge books and covers and all that, but sometimes I do end up being right.  Turns out that The Hamiltones are a pretty fun instrumental surf band.  They definitely have a Hex Dispenser-ish haunted house sort of vibe to them, but I can definitely get into a spooky sounding surf band. There's only six songs and two of them are under thirty seconds long, plus one of the remaining four is a cover of the Batman TV show theme.  I actually wouldn't have minded this being a little long.  Far and away the best of the three I've written about today.

The Hamiltones - S/T:
https://morepowertapes.bandcamp.com/album/the-hamiltones

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Absolute Best Records Of 2015

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Many times throughout the year I had commented on how 2015 seemed like a year that had a lot of really good records, but seemed to be lacking in drop dead great ones.  I'll admit that when I sat down to work on this list, I ended up being presented with a lot more records that I loved this year than I was expecting.  The top 20 in particular is damn strong.  Aside from Clearance, I didn't have those records that I just played non stop over and over again this year, but looking back at it, 2015 was nothing to sneeze at.  Some pretty good records came out this year.  I don't have time to discuss them all, but I do have some extra thoughts on a few.

The record that really did it for me this year was Clearance.  I am a sucker for Pavement, so when Clearance decided to pop by and pick up that torch, I was all too pleased to follow along.  It's such a perfect record from top to bottom.  I can't think of a record that I went back to over and over again as much as Clearance.  These guys are on the right track and I really hope they keep pumping out new tunes.

The Mountain Goats and Royal Headache also both received a ton of play out of me this year.  Even though the record was about pro wrestling and I figured that would be fun for a listen or two, I was shocked at how much I genuinely enjoyed the Mountain Goats, especially as I had never been that much of a fan previously.  Royal Headache was top notch, but there were a couple of songs in the middle of the record that slowed things down a bit and may have kept it from the top spot. Third of the year is still pretty great.  Good Shade technically was released digitally in 2014, but the LP came out this year, so it's going on my list.  Wonk Unit may not totally deserve to be on the list on a technicality as it's a compilation of previously released songs, but it was their first time on vinyl, and I hadn't heard them previously, so on it goes.

Lastly at number fourteen is Unlikely Friends.  I didn't review that record this year.  It didn't come out on vinyl, so I kept putting off buying it hoping it would eventually be released.  It didn't happen so I finally ordered the CD but I waited too long.  I'll get a review of that up first thing in the new year, but it's really worth a listen.

01 - Clearance - Rapid Rewards - Tall Pat (Listen)
02 - The Mountain Goats - Beat The Champ - Merge (Listen)
03 - Royal Headache - High - What's Your Rupture (Listen)
04 - Good Shade - Good Shade - Gut Genug (Listen)
05 - Wonk Unit - Feel The Wonkness - Drunken Sailor (Listen)
06 - Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake - Modern Surf Classics - Swami (Listen)
07 - Warm Soda - Symbolic Dream - Castleface (Listen)
08 - Red Dons - The Dead Hand Of Tradition - Taken By Surprise (Listen)
09 - Outtacontroller - Television Zombie LP - Southpaw (Listen)
10 - Lost Balloons - Lost Balloons - Alien Snatch (Listen)

11 - Widows Watch - This Message Repeats - Toxic Pop
12 - Radioactivity - Silent Kill - Dirtnap
13 - Hungry Tiger - Hungry Tiger - Sex Sheet
14 - Unlikely Friends - Solid Gold Cowboys - Jigsaw
15 - Sweet John Bloom - Weird Prayer - Tiny Engines
16 - Ash - Kablammo - E.A.R.
17 - Tenement - Predatory Headlights - Don Giovanni
18 - Beach Slang - The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us - Polyvinyl
19 - The Barreracudas - Can Do Easy - Oops Baby
20 - Beach Party - Broken Machine - Sex Sheet

21 - The Ballantynes - Dark Drives, Life Signs - La-Ti-Da
22 - ИO​​/​​​/​​​/​​sé - Lower Berth - 1859/Man In Decline
23 - The Blind Shake - Fly Right - Slovenly
24 - Nervous Talk - Nervous Talk - Hosehead
25 - King Khan and BBQ Show - Bad News Boys - In The Red
26 - The Sonics - This Is The Sonics - ReVox
27 - Built To Spill - Untethered Moon
28 - Mikal Cronin - MCIII - Merge
29 - Legendary Wings - Do You See? - Dirtnap
30 - Apocalypse Meow - The End Is Nigh - Sex Sheet/Rad Girlfriend

Other Records I Picked Up This Year:
Archers Of Loaf - Curse Of The Loaf - ARRA Music
Baby Shakes - Starry Eyes - Lil Chewy
Built In Sun - Built In Sun - PIAPTK
The Butterscotch Cathedral - The Butterscotch Cathedral - Trouble In Mind
Casual - Casual - Dead Broke / Square of Opposition
Hex Dispensers - III - Alien Snatch
Hysterese - Hysterese - Dirt Cult
Hospital Job - Never Get Cold - Rad Girlfriend / It's Alive
Jaill - Brain Cream - Burger
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Freedom Tower - Mom + Pop
The Knew - Schmew - Greater Than
Mandates - In The Back Of Your Heart - Hosehead/Taken By Surprise
Maniac - Demimonde - La-Ti-Da
Mac McCaughan - Non Believers - Merge
Nervosas - Nervosas - Dirtnap
Pale Angels - Imaginary People - Recess
Phylums - Phylum Phyloid - Dirtnap
The Rubs - The Rubs Are Trash - Tall Pat
Sanhose - Pi - Snuffy Smiles
Shadow In the Cracks - Shadow In The Cracks - Goner
The Soaks - The Soaks - Riot House
Spraynard - Mable - Jade Tree
Wavves - V - Mom + Pop
World's Fair - Leisurely - Rok Lok

Previously:
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hospital Job - Never Get Cold LP - Purple Vinyl (/100)

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Rad Girlfriend / It's Alive (2015)

It's very difficult to tell from this picture, but the vinyl color is actually a very dark purple.  You can really only notice when you hold it up to the light, but it's there.  This will be my last normal review for the year.  Tomorrow I'll be posting my end of the year list and then I'll take another little break until Monday of next week.  

Hospital Job comes in right under the wire as the last record I picked up in 2015.  It'll be the last one eligible for my year end list, but it's kind of difficult to rank (and review for that matter) as I've only been able to go through it a couple of times.  I am, however, familiar enough with the band from their past albums to know that if you like the prior Hospital Job records, chances are you'll dig this one as well.

I've always felt that Hospital Job walks a tightrope between the big guitar rock of ill fated major label rock bands of the mid 90's and poppy-punk sounds of the late 90's/early 2000's.  When the band is leaning on the crunchy guitar attack of bands like Treble Charger and The Figgs is when Hospital Job is at their best.  The times where they drift over to the sounds of bands like Blink-182 (which vocally they are always on the cusp of doing) are the times where Never Get Cold doesn't resonate as strongly with me.

The one thing you can count on when you listen to a Hospital Job record is a solid album with a handful of pretty great songs.  They never write any bad songs and there's usually enough monkeying around and weirdness thrown into the mix to keep things interesting.  I'm not sure that I'll ever rank them as one of my favorite bands, but I always end up enjoying their songs and will always buy their new records.

Hospital Job - Never Get Cold:


Monday, December 28, 2015

Apocalypse Meow - The End Is Nigh LP

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Sex Sheet / Rad Girlfriend / Bigger Boat / Catnap / Night Animal (2015)

I ended up getting a few albums kind of late in the year and now I'm scrambling to get them reviewed in time for my end of the year list. Last year I posted my list on the 29th of December. This year, it's looking like the 30th will be when I'll be able to get it up.  I have to review today's record and one more LP for tomorrow.  There's a third, final album that I really should get to, but it's not going to be here in time.  I've listened to it enough times to rank it on my list, but it never got the proper review for the year that it should of because I held out hope for too long that it would eventually be pressed on vinyl.  The CD is now finally en route.

That being said, 2015 is ending on a positive note.  For today we have Apocalypse Meow.  They're a band with a silly name, but they are definitely not a jokey band.  The End Is Nigh is seriously good and I'm thrilled that Sex Sheet sent me this to review.  That's three for three from those guys; they are definitely a label to keep an eye out for.

If you have to categorize Apocalypse Meow, they definitely lean towards the pop punk end of the rock and roll spectrum.  They are not, however, one of those goofy pop punk bands singing about high school love problems.  The songs are tight, catchy and lyrically they stand out from the crowd.  One of the things I like the most about the album is the tone the band gets out of their guitar.  They eschew the big loud fuzz that you may expect from a band like this and instead employ a less distorted, but somewhat muddy tone that adds real warmth to their songs.  It sounds a little dirty, but it compliments the mood the band is creating on the album.

I honestly didn't go into this record with super high expectations.  Apocalypse Meow were a band I was aware of, but hadn't taken the time to listen to.  Aside from a goofy rap part in the middle of "Life Is Hard" that sounds like it was taken right out of the song "Tangerine Speedo" by Caviar, this is a great record top to bottom.  I wish I had a bit more time to spend with it before I make up my end of the year list, but rest assured,  The End Is Nigh will make the list.

Apocalypse Meow - The End Is Nigh:
https://sexsheetrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-end-is-nigh

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Knew - Schmew LP

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Greater Than Collective (2015)

The fine folks from the band The Knew sent me their LP recently as I had written some nice things about a prior 7" of theirs that had come out on Snappy Little Numbers.  While I'm not sure anything on this album hits me quite as hard as the two songs on that 7", there is no denying that Schmew is a fun album to take for a spin.

What originally drew me to The Knew, and what continues to be what I like most about this band, is their infectious party attitude.  The energy very much reminds me of the band W.H Walker.  The big difference is that where W.H Walker leaned more on older 60's rock references, The Knew take it a decade later and really seem inspired by poppier 70's glam.  Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy and all that.  For a modern reference, this album reminds me a lot of the band Napalmpom, though I think The Knew pulls off this style of music significantly better.

While I'll admit to being partial to the songs that are heavier on the power pop side of things like "We're Coming Back" and I could probably do with a few less screaming guitar solos, the record as a whole is just an upbeat good time.  While it's probably not the kind of record I can see myself listening non-stop on repeat (I'm just not as big on glam as some), if you are looking for a record to motivate you while you are dusting the living room, give Schmew a try.

The Knew - Schmew:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just Jeffrey - Coffee, Tea & Me LP

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La-Ti-Da (2015)

The man behind this Just Jeffrey album is Jeffrey McCloy, familiar to me (and maybe to you) from his work in Tranzmitors.  While McCloy recruited some musicians to help flesh out the tracks on this album, this is essentially his solo album and very much plays like one.

It's not unusual for someone who is used to the dynamics of being in a band to let loose a little when they start up a new project.  You can see lots of examples of this going well, but you'll find even more examples of this not working out at all (hi Eric Bachmann!).  Just Jeffrey kind of runs the gamut over the course of this record.  I really enjoy the more upbeat, mod leaning songs on Coffee Tea & Me like "Hello Eleanor" and "Disposable Culture".  He's tapping in to a catchiness that always gets my attention.  

Less successful are the handful of songs that are sparser and more introspective. There are times where I'm very much reminded of bands like So Cow and The 'Tone over the course of Coffee Tea & Me, but there are some times where it just sounds like some dude dicking around by himself.  Those are the songs that I don't get as much mileage out of.  Still, at eighteen songs there is a lot to like on this record.  A little editing probably could have made it tighter, but it's worth checking out regardless.

Just Jeffrey - Coffee Tea & Me:

Monday, December 21, 2015

Outtacontroller - Television Zombie LP

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Southpaw (2015)

Sorry for the unannounced break at the end of last week.  Real life occupied my mornings for a bit, but things are getting back on track.  I can't think of a better return than being able to write about this Outtacontroller LP.  I really dug their last album and couldn't wait to get my hands on this new one.  It was definitely worth the wait and is every bit as good as their debut.

For some reason I think Outtacontroller tends to get left out of the conversation when people talk about all of the great Canadian bands that are floating around right now.  They very much fit in with the heavy hitters of that scene like Sonic Avenues and Steve Adamyk Band.  This album, in particular, also reminds me a lot of the second Something Fierce album There Are No Answers (also known as the really, really good Something Fierce album).

Outtacontroller are masters of stitching together downstoke heavy chord progressions, vocal harmonies and ultra catchy choruses.  The hooks on this album are, pardon the really, really bad pun, out of control and I've been playing this album pretty much nonstop since getting it in the mail the other week.

2015 is wrapping up and I'm getting my best of the year list in order.  Television Zombie is so good that it's really shaking up my list.  Don't be surprised to see them quite high on my list when it is eventually posted.  This is a hell of a way to close out the year.

Outtacontroller - Television Zombie:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chandeli'ers - S/T 12"

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Tender Buttons (2012)

This record is a few years old, but it just ended up on my radar recently courtesy of a tweet from the fabulous Dead Broke Rekerds.  All I needed to listen to was the first 30 seconds or so of the opening track "Sweet Time" and this was an immediate purchase for me.  The lightly distorted guitar with the bouncy riffs and mod-ish tendencies immediately made me think of the band Smalltown and that's all I needed to convince me to buy this 12".

The rest of this EP has some ups and downs, at least as far as song tempo goes.  The other two tracks on side A slow things down a bit but the alternating boy/girl vocals are wonderful and create some killer harmonies.  The B side picks the pace back up and at times reminds me a little bit of the poppier moments of The Ballantynes, especially with the prominent keyboards.

Chandeli'ers is a really easy band to listen.  They simply write good, catchy songs.  The rumor is these guys are working on a full length for next year and this EP has certainly built my anticipation to hear more from these guys.  

Chandeli'ers - S/T 12":

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lawsuit Models - Dudeman 7" - Red Vinyl

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Snappy Little Numbers (2015)

Somewhere along the line the word pop-punk turned into a criticism as opposed to a description.  These days, I feel like if you call a band pop punk you're somehow insinuating that you shouldn't be taking their music seriously.  It seems a bit silly to me as I've been know to take pop punk pretty seriously myself.  You should feel totally fine calling Lawsuit Models an awesome pop punk band and know that the band should take that as a compliment.

These guys have put two songs down on this 7" that take me right back to 1995.  You want a catchy hooks?  Both songs have them.  Want some of that palm muted, chugga-chugga, start/stop guitar work?  That's here too.  Octaves and guitar leads? Check and check.  You could just run down the list of everything that makes for a great punked out pop song and Lawsuit Models always seem to fit the bill.  Vocally, they remind me of a slightly smoother Paddy from Dillinger Four, though the songs in general are more upbeat and lean towards that 90's West Coast sound.

Snappy Little Numbers has done it again.  They always send me records by bands I have never heard of and miraculously they're always good.  Very few labels have that kind of track record.  I really dig this 7" and I'm hopeful the band is already hard at work mixing up some more pop punk greatness.

Lawsuit Models - Dudeman 7":

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Conan Neutron And The Secret Friends - The Enemy Of Everyone LP - Blue Vinyl

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Seismic Wave (2015)

I virtually always mention when I am about to write about a record that someone sent me to review to help distinguish them from the records I actually buy.  I'm not sure where that need comes from, but it is just one of those things I do.  When I opened up the package containing this record I very much did a book/cover/judgment sort of thing based on the artwork.  It just didn't look like the sort of record that would be up my alley.  That being said, if you send me a full length record to review, damn it, I will review that record.  Luckily The Enemy Of Everyone was much better than I thought it was going to be.

That's not to say that I love this record or that it's the sort of see I can see myself listening to all that often.  It is heavier and more 70's glam rock leaning than I typically like.  But, it is way poppier and catchier than I would have anticipated from the art.  There are a lot of big, crunchy guitar riffs, some strong vocals and the drumming is really tight and locks down this entire record.  That's probably due to Dale Crover of the Melvins on drums.  Not that I'm really much of a Melvins fan either, but that guy sure can hit those drums with those sticks pretty good.

The albums starts out with a bang and "Casuually Intense" is arguably the best song on the album.  It's one of those upbeat and infectious songs that has a way of making you nod along whether you realize you were doing it or not.  The rest of the album is hit or miss for me.  The slower sludgier songs aren't really my bag and some of the faster ones drift a little too far into glam for my tastes as well.  While someone with more of an affinity for heavier bands would probably enjoy this record a lot more than me, Conan Neutron And The Secret Friends doesn't really captivate me in a way that would make me go back and listen again and again.  It's not bad (OK, the song "Fight Math" is kind of bad, but it's really the only one), it's just not really the sort of thing I tend to spend time with.

Conan Neutron And The Secret Friends - The Enemy Of Everyone:


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Shadow In The Cracks - S/T LP

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Goner (2015)

Discovering The Blind Shake is one of the smarter things I've done over the past few years (thanks again @swamipat).  Their potent blend of noise, punk and hooks have made quite an impact on me.  Shadow in The Cracks is two thirds of The Blind Shake (Jim & Mike Blaha) and chances are if you dig The Blind Shake, you will dig parts of this record as well.

I won't pretend to like this quite as much as I like The Blind Shake.  One of the things that I think really defines that band is how deceptively catchy they are.  Sure those hooks are buried deep in the grime, but they are there.  Shadow In The Cracks is much more of a dissonant record.  Not to say that there aren't any hooks, but the grime is thicker and there is a more experimental sound.  If anything, you'd have to say these are much more in line with the further out there, weirdo Blind Shake songs.

This Shadow In The Cracks album is an economical nine songs and thirty minutes long.  It's long enough to let the ideas of each song play out, but not so long that they become self indulgent or overbearing.  It's an interesting listen, with lots of unique ideas.  I hate to bring up The Blind Shake in nearly every sentence in this review, but that's going to be your touchstone as what to expect.  If you like one, it's probably likely that you'll like the other as well.

Shadow In The Cracks - "Timeless":


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lost Balloons - S/T LP - Clear Vinyl

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Alien Snatch (2015)

Very few things will get me to buy a record quicker than saying one of the guys from The Marked Men is in the band.  Not only was The Marked Men one of my very favorite bands, but every single other band that has splintered off in their wake tends to be incredible as well.  Just add the fact that the particular Marked Man on this record is Jeff Burke and there is literally no way I am not buying this, import from Germany or not.

The other important factor in Lost Balloons is Yusuke Okada of Suspicious Beasts and formerly of the great, great Japanese band Blotto.  Combine these two songwriting titans and you are essentially guaranteed a great record. Lost Balloons does not let down.  Both Burke and Okada share the singing duties on this record, but I would say that in general the sensibilities of Burke shine through a bit more.  You can certainly hear echoes of his other bands in quite a few of the songs.  Chances are that if you like The Marked Men or Radioactivity, there's a pretty good chunk of this record that will make you just as happy.

The remaining chunk tends to slow things down a bit and play with the texture of the songs.  While most of the songs on this album tend to be a bit poppier than the Suspicious Beasts records, Okada brings an element of experimentation to the party.  But don't assume catchy aspects of the songs are all Burke as when Okada was in Blotto, he knew a thing or two about creating perfect two minute punk rock hits.

Needless to say, I really dig this record.  If forced to choose (and I will be in a couple of weeks while making my best of the year lists), I might even say I like this album even better than the stellar Radioactivity release from earlier this year.  Lost Balloons is a can't miss collaboration of two tremendous songwriters.  Even as a pricey import, it's still very much worth picking up.

Lost Balloons - "Too Many Eyes":

Monday, December 7, 2015

The First Part - S/T EP (CD Single/Cassette)

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Self Released (2014)

I stumbled across The First Part through fellow Texas band Gentleman Rogues.  As it turns out, both have members who were previously in a band that was active in the mid 90's called Jill.  I enjoyed those guys immensely and still go back to their their small, but potent discography all these years later.  While The First Part is not as straight up 1990's pop punk as Jill was, they still write supremely catchy songs and I really enjoy this first release of theirs.

This EP is available on two formats, a cassette and a CD single.  No vinyl, which is obviously the format of choice for me, but I'd rather have a CD any day of the week over a cassette only release.  So, kudos to the band for providing some options.  This EP starts out with the songs "Would Be Queen" and "The Catalyst."  Both are hook filled, mid tempo rockers that remind me a bit of Hospital Job if I'm going to make a current reference. Really good stuff.

Just when I thought I had The First Part pegged, the third song comes on, "Perfect Hair."  To me, this is totally different than the prior two songs.  It's heavy on harmonies and has a slight British Invasion feel to it.  It immediately makes me think of the Resonars and that is certainly not a bad thing.  Things wrap up with "Honor Among Thieves."  It's a great closing song with a driving rhythm section, jangling guitar riffs and soaring vocals.  A great capper to a very strong debut EP.  I hope to hear more from these guys soon.

The First Part - The First Part EP:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Beach Slang - The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us LP - Clear Vinyl (/800)

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Polyvinyl (2015)

The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us is the first full length from Beach Slang, following up on two prior 7"s that I've also reviewed on this site.  While they maintain a similar sound, there's something about The Things We Do... that gives it more impact and makes it feel like it's making a real statement.

When I listen to the record, the statement I hear it making is that singer James Snyder is getting older and at times doesn't really know what to do with himself.  He spends a lot of time singing about being young or conversely being older.  I described James Snyder to a friend as a living, breathing Instagram filter.  There are times where things come across a little over dramatic and perhaps borderlining on cheesy, but in general Synder's filter is one that highlights specific details and brings aspects of his stories into sharper focus.

Musically, this is a band that's trying to channel the raw emotion of bands like The Replacements and to a lesser extent Jawbreaker.  Snyder's prior band Weston dealt in the currency of upbeat catchy pop punk tunes.  Beach Slang is much more somber in nature, but still manages to maintain the hooks that you'd come to expect from a guy who served time playing 90's pop punk.  As I'm sure it's obvious to long time readers, I'm a total sucker for 90's pop punk, but Beach Slang blows away anything Weston ever did. 

As someone who is also getting older (today is my 39th birthday, actually) and who also doesn't always know exactly what to do with himself (let's face it, look at all these records I'm still buying), it is interesting to hear a record that seems pointed towards folks in my age group.  While I may not love this record quite as much as a lot of other people seem to judging from the never ending stream of extremely positive reviews I've seen, I do think this is a pretty great record and absolutely one worth checking out.

Beach Slang - The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sanhose - π Japanese Cassette

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Snuffy Smiles (2015)

I had already discussed the music on π Japanese back when I reviewed the CD version of this album a couple of months ago.  You can read that here, but to briefly recap, this is a sterling example of a Japanese punk rock band putting out a record on Snuffy Smiles.  Fast, catchy and just one of my favorite strains of melodic punk rock music.

Despite my typical aversion to cassettes, the real reason I needed to get this on top of already owning the CD version really just comes down to the matrix number used.  Snuffy Smiles has 2 matrixes that they use: SMILE-xxx for CDs and SNUFF-xxx for 7"s and LPs.  While I do not quite have a complete collection of Snuffy Smiles CDs, I do have all of the 7"s, all one hundred and thirty something so far.  When this cassette was released, Snuffy Smiles used the SNUFF-131 matrix number and that meant there was sort of a hole in my 7" collection.

I realize that probably doesn't make a ton of sense.  Sure, I'm not actually missing a 7" but just having that gap in the numerical order drove me crazy.  Luckily the Dead Broke Rekerds distro restocked this tape, so I picked it up and once again the collection is complete.  At least until the next batch of 7"s.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wavves - V LP - Purple Vinyl

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Mom + Pop (2015)

V is the newest album from Wavves, though it's only the III one of theirs that I've picked up.  I've been paying attention since 2010's King Of The Beach.  Since then, Wavves has been a pretty reliable band for me.  While I don't think they've ever released a slam dunk classic of an album, they have a respectable catalog of songs and it's always a good time when I break out one of their records.

V starts off the way it seems that most Wavves albums start, with the very best song right up front.  "Heavy Metal Detox" is everything you'd look for in a Wavves song.  Upbeat, tight chorus, wacky lead riff thing...you could go so far as to say it's quintessential Wavves.  The rest of the album follows suit.  I would rank this ahead of 2013's Afraid Of Heights album, but it doesn't quite reach the level of King Of The Beach.

Chances are that if you are playing catchy, punk pop with big guitars and bigger choruses I'm going to like your record.  Maybe Wavves haven't knocked me on my ass with the perfect song, but there's something to be said for putting out three extremely solid records that are fun to listen to.  That's a formula that will get me to pick up the next record every time.

Wavves - "Heavy Metal Detox":

Monday, November 30, 2015

Beach Party - Broken Machine LP

Untitled

Sex Sheet (2015)

A few weeks ago I had reviewed another Sex Sheet record by a band called Hungry Tiger.  At the time I called it potentially the best unsolicited record I was ever sent to review.  One of the records that is its main competition came in the same package from the same label.  Sex Sheet also sent this Beach Party record and it's also on the short list of greatest records anyone has ever sent me for review.

There are a lot of beach bands these days: Beach Slang, Beach House, those pesky Beach Boys.  For future bands, I think the word beach is pretty well used up at this point.  That being said, Beach Party is worth every bit as much of the attention that those other bands have been receiving.  Beach Party is playing a 90's leaning indie rock that owes something of a debt to the lead guitar shredding of bands like Dinosaur Jr.  I wouldn't say that Beach Party sounds much like Dinosaur Jr. overall, it's mainly the lead guitar riffing.  

The band leans more towards the poppier side of things reminding me at times of Superchunk, but certainly occupying the same space that melodic bands like Overwhelming Colorfast did. The two singers layer on some great harmonies in the always catchy choruses and elevate each vocal melody.  Songs like "Hardwick," "Nightmares" and "Carelessly Undefined" really drive the point home and are some of the highlights of the album.

Beach Party was not on my radar at all.  If I hadn't been sent this record to review, I'm not sure I would have ever found it on my own and that would have been a real shame.  It's one of the better records of the year so don't miss out.

Beach Party - Broken Machine LP: