Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pleasers - Reject Teen 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/100)


Southpaw (2015)

This will conclude my three day run of Matthew Melton related 7"s released on Southpaw records.  I have saved the best for last as this Pleasers 7" is miles better than the other two.  That being said, I don't completely understand why Melton formed another band that for all intents and purposes sound pretty much exactly like Warm Soda.  If Warm Soda broke up, I could understand, but I'm a bit confused as to why he needs two bands that sound like this (and a solo record that only strays slightly from the formula).

I'm not going to get too worked up about it as both songs on this 7" are quite good.  A-side "Reject Teen" spins a yarn about not fitting in during high school and some of the hijinks gotten into.  It's a bit goofy, lyrically, but the song is saved by a super catchy vocal melody and some good lead guitar work.  The thing that most reminds me of Warn Soda is the same type of click track style drumming and what ever they do while recording to make the snare drum sound like it was plucked from a 1986 Boogie Down Productions album.

On the flip is "Judy."  It's slightly lower key in nature, but just as easily stuck in your head.  The highlight being the way the pre-chorus gradually builds into the simple but ultra catchy hook.  Of the two songs I probably prefer "Judy," but both are excellent and could easily work their way on to a Warm Soda full length and fit right in.  Of the three 7"s I've reviewed this week, this one is the one I most recommend picking up.

That's going to wrap up this week as tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I'll be back on Monday, but don't forget that PopKid records is having a black Friday sale at  Help me clear out some of these old records and make room for a new LP coming in 2016.

The Pleasers - Reject Teen 7":

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Matthew Melton - Too Many Hearts Lack Lovers 7" - Red Vinyl (/100)


Southpaw (2015)

As I had mentioned yesterday, I was a little disappointed with the newest Warm Soda 7".  After knocking it out of the park with their full length earlier this year, I felt that the 7" was OK, but not anywhere near as good.  Today, we have Matthew Melton of Warm Soda's solo 7".  This is also following up a solo LP that I enjoyed quite a bit, but just like the Warm Soda 7" from yesterday, these two new songs are something of a let down.

I'm not sure what exactly is going on with these new Melton tunes, they feel so weirdly produced and so very, very 1980's.  The recording has this swirling ambience that gives the songs an odd dream-like feeling.  I don't really like either of these two songs.  "Too Many Hearts Lack Lovers" covers Melton's often revisited topic of heartbreak.  Typically, he wraps those discussions in a power pop coating that makes everything seem optimistic despite the breaking of the heart.  This time, the song is just a major league bummer.  I have about as much hope for the situation as I do after listening to "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics.  Which is to say no hope at all.

On the B-side "Was It A Song" isn't quite as much of a downer, but it's kind of a throwaway song.  It's a simple mid tempo song with a clockwork drum pattern and is just sort of there.  I wouldn't say it's bad, but it's just not the sort of thing that really grabs your attention.  

It's kind of odd writing such a critical review of something Matthew Melton is involved in.  He's done so much that I really love including releasing one of my very favorite albums of the year with Warm Soda.  Unfortunately this 7" just doesn't work for me.  Hopefully it's more of a blip on the radar than a sign of things to come.

Matthew Melton - "Too Many Hearts Lack Lovers":

Monday, November 23, 2015

Warm Soda - Renegade Mode 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Southpaw (2015)

I think I'm going to knock out the 3 new Matthew Melton related 7"s that I recently picked up from Southpaw records.  I'll start up with the Warm Soda one.  I was relieved to have been able to pick up a copy on the limited to 100 blue vinyl.  My understanding is those sold out pretty quick.  While I'm not sure either song is as good as anything from the most recent Warm Soda full length, it's still a fun little 7".

"Renegade Mode" is upbeat with a little dash of synthy keyboard lead.  It's not the octave rock party that that their full length Symbolic Dream was, but it still keeps the music catchy and the vocals breathy.  The song was originally available on a split cassette that the band sold on a tour, so it's nice to have the tune committed to wax.

On the B-side we have a completely new song, "No Place To Fall."  I can't say I'm as big of a fan of this one.  It's built primarily on low key drums and bass, with a smattering of guitar accenting here and there in the verse.  The chorus sounds much fuller than the skeletal verse, but in general this feels very much like the kind of song that would have come out in the 80's.  It's not really my thing as I prefer when Melton & co keep things fast and loose.

Oh, in other news and if you care at all, I just posted a news update about PopKid records on the PopKid website.  So give it a look if you can.  Or don't if you can't.  Your call: 

Warm Soda - "Renegade Mode":

Friday, November 20, 2015

Your Pest Band - Never Fall You Again 7" - Test Pressing (/10)


Brassneck (2015)

I'm not going to write about the music again, you can read yesterday's review of this same 7" for that.  When I purchased the regular version of this record, I also won a copy of the test pressing.  I was pretty psyched, I never really win anything, so that was neat.  Brassneck made a special sleeve and they're hand numbered out of ten copies.

Pretty neat.

Your Pest Band - Never Fall You Again 7":

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Your Pest Band - Never Fall You Again 7"


Brassneck (2015)

I've been a huge fan of the Snuffy Smile(s) record label for decades at this point.  They've released records by some of my very favorite bands of all time.  But of all the bands to spring from that fertile scene in Japan, I have never seen one as prolific as Your Pest Band.  These guys put out so many records it's actually difficult to keep up at times.  In addition to the sheer number of records they release, the myriad of different styles they manage to incorporate into their songs is kind of nuts.

This wonderful 7" on Brassneck records is a great example of Your Pest Band in a nutshell.  The record starts off with "Never Fall You Again," a slower paced song with liberal use of a keyboard melody that accentuates the earnest vocals.  On the surface it may seem like an odd song for Your Pest Band, but the way it's recorded and the sounds they are able to capture makes it fit right in with their prior work.

We then move on to "Escape" which is much more of a traditional upbeat and catchy punk rock ripper.  When Your Pest Band unleashes a song like this, they do it better than almost any band I can think of.  There's a certain strain of punk rock that Japanese bands have perfected and this is a shining example of that.  The 7" closes with "You Fit."  With its bouncy rhythm section and shining acoustic guitar, it almost has something of a Tom Petty sound to it.  It's impressive the way the band can put out a 7" with three absolutely different songs, but yet they all manage to compliment each other and all sound unquestionably like Your Pest Band.

Your Pest Band - Never Fall You Again 7":

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Archers Of Loaf - Curse Of The Loaf 2xLP


ARRA Music (2015)

Let's stick with another 90s band this week, and one of my absolute favorites, Archers Of Loaf.  Curse Of The Loaf is a live album recorded over 2 days at Cat's Cradle in 2011.  At the best of times I don't love live albums.  Some of my favorite bands have them, Rocket From The Crypt, Snuff, Letherface and more, and they don't come up in rotation all that frequently.  It was more of a need to keep my collection complete that I purchased this Archers record.  I will admit, I'm pretty surprised by how great it is.

First off, the song selection is stellar.  There's only one song from that turd of a record White Trash Heroes and only a couple from the somewhat disappointing All The Nations Airports.  Everything else is solid gold taken from the high point in the band's existence, their first two albums and their Vs. The Greatest Of All Time EP.  The recording quality is quite amazing.  The vocals are crisp and clear, but they're not unusually loud sitting on top of the music the way a lot of live albums can go.  The band sounds big and powerful and still tight after all that time apart.

Even when they played the one song that I actively don't like, "Dead Red Eyes," within the context of the show, surrounded by all of these other amazing songs it doesn't even sound so bad.  I think I would have saved it for a deeper cut rather than plop it down as track number three, but still, it's the most I've ever enjoyed that song.

Usually when I have a live album from a band I listen to it once, maybe twice and file it away into the collection.  I've already listened to Curse Of The Loaf way more times than I typically would.  It's a testament to just how good the recording is and also how great this slice of songs from their catalog is.  It sounds like one of the best shows you could have gone to, although since the songs were culled from 2 days, I'm not entirely sure which day each song was recorded or what the actual set list from either looked like.  Still, it's a hell of a live record.

Oh, it comes with a live DVD as well, but I haven't actually watched that yet.

Archers Of Loaf - Curse Of The Loaf 2xLP:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jawbox - S/T LP


Dischord /DeSoto (2015, Reissue)

Since I was already in the reissue state of mind with yesterday's Built To Spill LP, I figured I would keep that going today with the new reissue of the final Jawbox album.  The big difference between yesterday and today is that with Built To Spill, I was writing about an album that I had 20 years of history with and had listened to hundreds of times.  Jawbox, on the other hand, is a band I completely missed out on the first time around and have only started picking up their records over the past couple of years.

The good news about getting into Jawbox right now is that most of their albums have recently been reissued.  This S/T final album of theirs was the last one I needed.  I'll still be on the hunt for some 7"s, as I want to complete the collection, but I do have all of their full lengths on vinyl now.  I'm not sure what the perception of this record was when it originally had been released.  I don't remember it being as big of a deal as some of their prior albums, but again, I couldn't say I was paying very close attention back then.  

What I can say is that this is a pretty stellar record.  The one thing I didn't know back in the 90's and the thing that I still don't think Jawbox gets enough credit for is how catchy some of their songs can be.  Even though their music is complex, with lots of interesting shifts and chord progressions, they manage to sneak in some of the catchiest hooks into their choruses.  All you need to do is look to songs like "His Only Trade," "Excandescent" or "Mirrorful."  While decidedly more complex than your run of the mill poppy punk song, you can argue that they're every bit as catchy the moment the chorus blasts off.  It's a remarkable show of songwriting talent and it's really what keeps me coming back to these records.

Hopefully you were paying more attention than me and already know how great Jawbox is, but if not, you can grab just about all of their records on the cheap now.  Too me, they seem like the sort of albums that should be n everyone's collection.

Jawbox - "Mirrorful":

Jawbox - "Excandescent":

Monday, November 16, 2015

Built To Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love LP - Yellow Vinyl


Up/Sub Pop (2015, Reissue)

I first discovered Built To Spill, probably sometime in 1995.  At the recommendation of a friend, I picked up the "So And So, So And So From Wherever, Wherever" 7" from a used bin.  I was pretty floored with how great it was and that continues to be one of my favorite Built To Spill songs all these years later.  Very soon after that, I grabbed a copy of this record.  I am one of the lucky ones who has been sitting on an original pressing of There's Nothing Wrong With Love for about 20 years.  Because of that, I'm probably not quite as excited about this reissue as a lot of folks are, but I still decided to pick up a copy and at least I can compare it to the original pressing here.

So as far as the pressing itself goes, I think it sounds great.  It's every but as warm and inviting as my original copy.  The treble leaning guitars shimmer just as brightly and the low end of the bass is as full as it has ever sounded.  Unlike the recent Leatherface reissues where I could notice a real difference between the original and new pressings, There's Nothing Wrong With Love sounds just as good as the original.  From a sound standpoint, there's no reason to not grab this pressing and be pretty content.

Musically, this album is just wonderful.  Though I think Built To Spill eventually topped this when they released Keep It Like A Secret, There's Nothing Wrong With Love still stands as my second favorite of their records.  The songs are not as complex as some of the extended jams they would go on to release later in time, but there is something so perfect about the simplicity and honesty of this album.  The songs are all supremely catchy and with surefire classics like "Car," "Big Dipper" and "In The Morning," some of Doug Martsch's very best work is collected here.

If you've been one of the many waiting so long for this reissue, there's no reason to be on the fence.  It is absolutely worth picking up and is really an essential part of any good indie rocker's record collection.

Built To Spill - "Car":

Built To Spill - "In The Morning":

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Butterscotch Cathedral - S/T LP - Orange Vinyl


Trouble In Mind (2015)

This Butterscotch Cathedral record is one that I had been looking forward to ever since I first heard about it.  I was admittedly late to the party when it came to The Resonars, but I really enjoyed the soaring British Invasion style harmonies.  Once I heard that Matt Rendon had another band and was putting out this album, I waited in anticipation and then ordered a copy the day it went on sale.

After spending some time with Butterscotch Cathedral, I have mixed feelings.  I'm not sure how to describe it other than I don't think it's bad, but I don't really enjoy listening to it. Many of the things that I like about The Resonars are here.  Huge vocal harmonies mix in to predominantly upbeat and catchy songs.  There's some nice guitar work and a rhythm section that can really get your head nodding from time to time.  At the end of the day, I think these positives get lost in the meandering psychedelic aspects of the album.

First off, this record is essentially three songs.  Side A is one song.  Though that song is then split up into seven sections.  On side B you have one song called "Loud Heavy Sun" and then a second song called "Lisa's Dream."  "Lisa's Dream," however, is then broken up into nine parts.  I'm not entirely sure why the album is arranged like that, but whatever, that's not a deal breaker. What does drag the album down for me is the way the band sinks into these overblown and self indulgent moments of oohing and ahhing complete with swirling noise and over the top guitar solos.  

We've got some machine gun sound effects here and little dream sequences there.  Looking for a call back to an earlier moment?  Yep, it's got those too.  While I can't say that the songs themselves are bad, I think the album is a little gimmicky and gets bogged down in extra noise that detract from the songs rather than enhance them.  I've ended somewhat bummed out by the record.  I wanted to like it more than I do but it looks like I'll just wait for the next Resonars album.

The Butterscotch Cathedral - Side A:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Yolks - Don't Cry Anymore 7"


Randy / Bachelor (2015)

When I came across the first Yolks record, I became an instant fan of the band.  That record was so catchy and just so much fun it would have been pretty difficult to not get caught up in its infectious grooves.  On the second Yolks album, Kings of Awesome, the band changed things up a little bit.  They took a somewhat mellower approach overall with mixed results, for me at least.  I liked it sure enough, but it didn't grab me like their first LP.

This newest Yolks 7" is kind of a like a microcosm of those feelings.  The A-side reminds me of a lot of the songs on Kings Of Awesome.  Built over a gently strummed, distortion free guitar, "Don't Cry Anymore" is a showcase for the softer, Everly Brothers influenced sounds The Yolks have been tinkering with.  Tightly woven vocal harmonies put a bow on this package and while it's a perfectly good song, it's difficult to get too excited about.  The best way I can sum it up is that I just think it's a nice song to listen to, but not an attention grabber.

However on the B-side we have "I Wanna Be Dumb."  This one is very much a throwback to the first Yolks album.  Loud, fuzzy and brash; this is the version of the Yolks that I like the best.  Just a bunch of dudes pounding out downstrokes, but keeping everything nice and melodic.  I'll never say I dislike the A-side, but songs like "I Wanna Be Dumb" are what keep me coming back for more Yolks records.

The Yolks - Don't Cry Anymore 7"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Clearance - Rapid Rewards LP


Tall Pat / Unsatisfied (2015)

It's possible that you've read my lament about how 2015 has been a year of quite a few good records. Some of them have been very good, but what I think 2015 has been lacking so far is drop dead great records.  The instant album of the year contenders.  It may have taken until November to get there, but please everyone welcome Clearance.  They have not only created a great record, but as it stands right now, I'm calling it and saying this is the best record of 2015 so far.  There's only a month and a half left in the year, but it's going to take a hell of a record to knock Clearance out of my top spot.

A recurring theme for me is that I tend to favor bands that have a 90's leaning sound.  I think that the music you listen to in those formative late high school/early college years becomes your base and there's always a part of you looking for sounds that excite you in the same way.  Clearance has that in spades.  Not only does this record knock me off my socks now, I'm positive they would have been just as much of a heavy hitter in 1995 as well.

Clearance is playing the sort of warm, jangly indie rock that I adore.  Vocally they're very reminiscent of Pavement with a talking sort of delivery and obtuse lyrics.  On the music side, while you can get hints of Pavement there as well, I tend to think that Clearance pulls together a slightly tighter sound.  It's more deliberate, not as ramshackle and doesn't drift out into weirdo noise freak-outs as Pavement was wont to do.  Rapid Rewards is thirteen songs of glorious mid tempo pop.  I dare you to listen to the churning rhythm of "You've Been Pre-Approved" or the bright, cherry guitar part making up the bridge of "Rather Not Bother" or the fuzzy background squall of "Swiftboating (Onto The Reels)" and not be blown away.

I had very nice things to say about both of Clearance's prior 7"s.  Those were some great songs and are absolutely worth picking up.  But man, Rapid Rewards is light years ahead of those records and is without a doubt the best record I have listened to all year.  See you in December for the Absolute Best Records of 2015 list.  I'm saving a spot for Clearance right at the very top.

Clearance - Rapid Rewards LP:

Monday, November 9, 2015

Wooden Waves - Wilder Dreams LP


One Percent Press (2015)

If you send me a full length LP, it's a guaranteed review out of me.  Though honestly, if you send me most anything I'll eventually review it.  (Though the dude in Buffalo that sent me 13 cassettes is probably going to have to wait a little bit for those.)  When I received this Wooden Waves album in the mail, I had high hopes.  The artwork made it look like the sort of playful indie rock record that I enjoy.  Low and behold, I do enjoy it.

Playful indie rock is a reasonably good description for Wooden Waves, but I can't help but feel it sounds somewhat dismissive of the band's songwriting chops.  These are not throwaway novelty songs.  Wooden Waves has gathered a very stong set of songs rooted in a sort of jumpy, 90's indie rock sound.  Perhaps a more upbeat Silver Scooter with some early Jejune style of back and forth vocals?  Maybe a slightly less fuzzy version of Tugboat Annie?  Regardless of what touchstones you want to use, fact is, this is a pretty great record.

One of my absolute favorite things about doing this dumb little website is discovering a new band thanks to someone else getting in touch with me.  So thanks One Percent Press, you've made a new fan for Wooden Waves.  Hopefully I can do the same for someone else reading this.

Wooden Waves - Wilder Drerams LP:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dickie Hammond - 1965 - 2015

Dickie Hammond
Photo by @AlanRappa

I've been sitting with the news that Dickie Hammond died for a few days now.  I've posted about it briefly on Twitter and I also re-tweeted a few little articles about it, but in general it's been something that I've just been thinking about a lot.  Considering I've never met him, it's amazing the profound influence he's had on my life.  I only had the pleasure of seeing him play with Leatherface one time and for reasons I'm not sure of, I didn't say hello to him.

Leatherface has been one of my top tier favorite bands since I first heard them.  I admittedly got into them kind of backwards and perhaps a bit later than some other folks.  I am pretty sure the first time I had heard them was in 1995 or 1996 when I purchased the Do The Right Thing CD single at Flipside records in New Jersey.  I had really gotten into the band Broccoli and was told that Leatherface would be right up my alley as they were sort of the grandfathers of that sound.

Ever since that moment I have simply been obsessed.  I tracked down every record of theirs I could find, including a great many of them on a trip to England in 1997 that consisted almost exclusively of trips to record shops.  I paid $110 for a copy of Mush on Vinyl in the earlier days of eBay (Outbidding Billy of Dillinger Four it turned out).  I flew to England to see Leatherface, Snuff and Wat Tyler play a show to memorialize Andy Crighton.  

Leatherface stayed at my apartment when I was in college for a night after a show in New York City. This and the Andy gig were both Dickie-less versions of the band, but rest assured, Dickie was always there in spirit as the band raced through so many of the genuine classics that he helped craft.  

Listening to Leatherface not only made me love that band, but it really shaped the way I looked at music and specifically punk rock.  While the sounds that poured out of their records were fierce and blistering with energy, they had humanity in them.  Soul, if you will.  These were not a bunch of angry punks shouting, these were artists crafting magnificent and beautiful songs.  To this day, if I read a review comparing any band to Leatherface, I always go and take a listen.  I've discovered so many bands this way and the number of bands I listen to that were influenced by Leatherface is almost impossible to count.

I also don't want to pigeonhole him with Leatherface.  I have records by HDQ, Doctor Bison, The Jones and Stokoe that all benefit from this man's mastery of the guitar.  Everything he touched turned to gold, but Leatherface is always the one that spoke to me the most.

Dickie Hammond is one of the greatest guitar players I have ever heard.  The world is a sadder place without him.  I feel so awful for the people that actually knew him, were friends with him and shared stories with him.  Their loss eclipses mine by a mile.  What I can say is it's depressing to think that I will never hear any new sounds emanating from his guitar.  It's a real bummer, but I take solace in how much joy this man has brought me over the years.  How many perfect records he was a part of.  How he set me down a path that would help me discover so many bands and meet so many people that I consider friends.  I didn't know him and he didn't know me, but despite that, I will never forget Dickie Hammond.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dirty Few / Rootbeer And Mermentau - Set 'Em Free Split 7" - Gray Vinyl (/300)


Snappy Little Numbers (2015)

Snappy Little Numbers has quietly become one of my favorite labels over the past few years.  With little fanfare they've steadily built the sort of catalog that showcases newer, incredible bands.  They always manage to turn me on to some new sounds and every time I get a package in the mail from them there is much rejoicing.

First up in their new batch of releases is a split 7" with two bands: Dirty Few and Rootbeer And Mermentau.  Starting up with Dirty Few, the guitar sequel in the first seconds of "Yo Loco" instantly took me back to the opening moments of The Figgs song "Favorite Shirt."  From there, the band settles in to a more of a stomping garage sound that reminds me a lot of Welfare Problems era Randy.  Both songs on their side of the split are catchy and energetic.  I've never heard of these guys before, but it's a solid first showing.

On the flip side is Rootbeer And Mermentau.  Now, as a big fan of the beverage root beer, I was hopeful that the band would do justice to their namesake.  While taking a somewhat similar tact as Dirty Few, Rootbeer And Mermentau leans more towards a fast paced, lo fi sound.  At times they remind me of the more heated moments of Boyracer.  Again, both songs are pretty good, but with a gun to my head, I probably prefer the Dirty Few side of the record.

It's always worth giving a Snappy Little Numbers release a spin.  I'm rarely disappointed and always end up with some new bands to listen.  Oh and if Mr. Snappy is reading, any new Hooper music in the future? The world is waiting for more of that greatness.

Dirty Few / Rootbeer And Mermentau - Set 'Em Free Split 7":

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Son Of A Gun - No Bread LP - Mixed Vinyl


Tall Pat (2014)

I'm still marching my way through the Tall Pat records that I picked up while in Chicago to see Drive Like Jehu.  While I had known that I fell somewhat behind on things, I didn't realize it had gotten so bad that I hadn't bought albums that had come out in 2014.  Well, shame on me because that's when this Son of Gun LP was released.

I couldn't tell you why I was denying myself this album.  Son Of A Gun are another in a line of great bands playing that Tall Pat Sound .  Son Of A Gun just tear through the album's twelve tracks, leaving a pile of hooks and energy to spare in their wake.  You're going to get the catchy choruses that keep me coming back to the table, but the songs all have that slight grimy haze to them that keeps things crunchy and honest.  

When No Bread is firing on all cylinders, the band takes the very best moments of 60's garage trash, but filters it through a modern lens, never sounding like a rehash of something from the past.  It's an impressive balancing act and one I can't see many bands being able to pull off like this.  If you can't tell, I really dig these guys.  If you like your rock leaning on the garage side, but you still want catchy songs and a strict avoidance of psych-rock trappings; Son Of A Gun is absolutely worth checking out. 

Son Of A Gun - No Bread LP:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Jawbox - My Scrapbook Of Fatal Accidents 2xLP - Purple Vinyl (/400)


Arctic Rodeo (2015, Reissue)

Long time readers of my website know that the two bands I most regret not listening to in the 90's are Seaweed and Jawbox.  I've gotten into both way after the fact and had to do some digging to get those records into my collection.  Seaweed was tough, but I've been pretty lucky to have been presented with quite a few Jawbox reissues to make their quest a little easier.  I was especially excited to see that Arctic Rodeo was involved in this 2xLP as they did such great work with their Burning Airlines reissues.

That high water mark for quality is still being met with this Jawbox reissue.  The artwork is printed on thick, sturdy cardstock.  There's not one, but two hefty booklets with pictures, discography information and what looks to be a list of every single show the band ever played.  I'm pretty blown away by everything before even listening to it.

Musically, it just annoys me that I wasn't able to appreciate this band when they were around.  The way they are able to craft serious, powerful songs, but still cram in deceptively catchy hooks and melodies is something that so few bands are able to do.  This album compiles a slew of 7" and compilation tracks, a Peel session and a few live nuggets.  It's a pretty essential add on to the other Jawbox full lengths.

At an hour and twenty minutes, it is a bit long to get through in one sitting.  I've always thought forty-five minutes was a pretty ideal album length, though I certainly understand the desire to present as complete a package as possible and wouldn't dream of cutting anything from this set.  You'll just need to block off a bit more time to listen to it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hungry Tiger - S/T LP - Blue Vinyl


Sex Sheet (2015)

When I got a package of records in the mail from a label called Sex Sheet, I had pretty low expectations.  I am certainly guilty of a little pre-judgment here and there when it comes to band names and things like that.  Sex Sheet didn't sound like the sort of label that would really be putting out records that I would be into.  Still, when someone sends me something to review, I feel something of an obligation to listen and write about it.  I did hold out some hope for Hungry Tiger as I thought the artwork looked pretty cool.

Turns out, I love this record.  I was completely floored by how great it is.  This is probably not going to sound like a compliment, but to me they sound like one of the late, great, failed guitar pop bands of the mid '90s.  I'm talking of amazing bands that never got their due like The Figgs, Pluto, Treble Charger, Fig Dish, Flop and the rest of the champions of the 1990s dollar bins.  These were bands that were great, but for whatever reason, never caught on the way they should have.

I hope the same fate doesn't fall on Hungry Tiger (though not being on a major label in 1996 is probably a good start).  They have everything I'm looking for in a band.  All of the songs are tight and punchy.  Catchy verses lead into even catchier choruses.  They have great backing vocal harmonies and huge, full sounding guitars that maintain the band's obvious melodic leanings while providing enough crunch to keep things from sounding over produced.  The singer reminds me a lot of the guy from the old Canadian band Punchbuggy.  Especially the My Norwegian Cousin incarnation of those guys.

Hungry Tiger is a band that may not be on your radar, but man oh man they should be.  This is in the running for the absolute best thing I've ever received unsolicited as a review.  I am thrilled that it has snuck its way into my collection and have been playing it pretty non-stop for a few weeks now.  Go get it!

Hungry Tiger - S/T LP:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Iron Chic - Ys 7"


Poison City (2015)

Maintaining a complete discography by a band can be an expensive proposition sometimes.  This is especially the case when you start factoring in buying different variants of the same record.  Luckily, I never got sucked into that level when it comes to Iron Chic, but I do try to maintain a complete collection of at least one copy of each of their records.  The first thing I ever bought by this band was their 2008 demo tape, so I kind of feel like I have a responsibility to keep up.

The expense comes in as this particular 7" comes from Poison City records from Australia.  The cost of importing it was a bit prohibitive, so I waited patiently in the hopes that an American distro would pick up a few copies.  This did eventually occur, but the cost of the 7" was still pretty high.  It's not really a complaint, I understand the distro had to cover the cost of shipping and it was probably for the best that I didn't have to worry about the post office destroying the package all the way from Australia.

As usual with Iron Chic, musically this 7" was absolutely worth the wait and the cost.  At this point, you can almost say that this sounds like Iron Chic.  I tend to use them as my standard bearer for this kind of passionate, melodic punk rock.  They are band with the biggest anthemic choruses in the world and as a result, I usually compare everyone else to them.  The two originals on this record, "Ys" and "The Dreaming And The Waking World," are everything I want out of Iron Chic songs.  Verses that build up into that trademark punchy chorus.  They stand shoulder to shoulder with anything the band has released previously.

The third song, "Dog Bite," is a Dead Kennedys cover.  I'm not as into this as the originals.  It's a good enough version of the song, but I honestly can't say that I've ever like The Dead Kennedys quite as much as a lot of other folks do.  Regardless, the originals are as great as ever and I think are worth grabbing, if you were on the fence about picking up this 7".

Iron Chic - Ys 7":

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Rubs - The Rubs Are Trash LP - Pink Vinyl


Tall Pat (2015)

You could make an argument that the color of this record is actually orange, not pink.  Or maybe you could get fancy and say it's grapefruit colored, but something tells me Joey Rubbish is not the sort of guy sitting around on Sunday morning eating grapefruit.  Rather he strikes me as the kind of guy that on Sunday morning still hasn't stopped partying from Saturday night yet.

Is party garage a genre yet?  Because that's the vibe I get from The Rubs album.  Purveyors of a boozy good time at your favorite local dive bar.  It has got the hooks and it has got the songs, but rather than deliver you a clean little pop nugget, each song is wrapped in fuzzed-out static and the sound of every needle in the recording studio being buried in the red.

At its most frantic The Rubs Are Trash reminds me a bit of the first Yolks record, but it also brings in the sounds of some early 60's trash-rock bands.  The Rubs have crafted a record that is both laid back and at the same time deceptively urgent.  You'll want to jump around screaming at the top of your lungs, but you'll also keep listening to it on the way to the Sunday brunch you're heading to after Saturday night's debauchery.

The Rubs - The Rubs Are Trash:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Casual - Casual LP - Clear Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke / Square Of Opposition (2015)

Back when I was in high school, I listened to a lot of hip hop.  In particular, I loved Del The Funky Homosapien and pretty much everyone in his Hieroglyphics crew. In 1994 there was a rapper from this crew named Casual and he put out what is probably one of my top three favorite hip hop albums of all time, Fear Itself.  While that Casual has been around for quite some time and has put out several other albums, I don't think he was ever truly able to capture that lightning in a bottle perfection of his first album.  I still throw it on from time to time and am just as big a fan of it now as I was twenty one years ago.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have a band, from New Jersey no less, also called Casual.  Right away I'll admit to being concerned as they used a band name that was kind of already being used, albeit, not by an actual band.  I will also admit that I've been pretty tough on bands from my home state over the years and can't say too many have ended up in my collection.  That being said, I trust Dead Broke so I picked this up.  While I can't say I was knocked out of my chair like I was when I hear Casual the rapper for the first time, this Casual has put together a pretty strong album of gritty, but melodic punk.

To me they sort of sound like a cross between the gruff punk of bands like Iron Chic and the kinetic guitar rock of Sundials.  Vocally, they definitely lean closer to Sundials, with yelping vocals that are enhanced with some female backing vocals to produce some nice harmonies that really elevate some of the songs.  I wouldn't plant my flag and proclaim this one of the tip top best albums I've heard this year or anything, but if you like your punk poppy (which I do) and enjoy when a band is bristling with energy and hooks (check) then Casual is absolutely worth giving a whirl.

Casual - Casual LP:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Barreracudas - Can Do Easy LP - White Vinyl (/100)


Oops Baby (2015)

The Barreracudas are another refugee from the sadly missed Douchemaster records.  They have paired up with Oops Baby records for their sophomore album Can Do Easy.  It's a very strong follow-up to their debut, with more party-garage anthems and buckets and buckets of hooks.

While their sound is definitely rooted in a poppier garage rock, the band shows some real diversity on this album.  From the pogo punk blast of "Playliens" to the Tom Petty style rambling of "Cut Me Loose" to their tried and true pop of "Promises,"  Can Do Easy certainly covers more ground than they did on their first album.  It's just hit after hit, though I will say one thing has started to stick in my craw a bit about the lyrics to "Promises."

I probably should have mentioned this when I reviewed the "Promises" 7" a few weeks back, but I've listened to this album many more times than that 7".  Part of the lyrics to "Promises" go: "I've got a pocket full of quarters now/and I'm your Donkey Kong."  I don't know what that means.  If the singer is the actual Donkey Kong, why would he need a pocket full of quarters for anything?  If the singer is the game Donkey Kong, first off, where would these pockets be? And again, to what end would having a pocket full of quarters benefit him?  If he wanted someone to 'play him' wouldn't they need the pocket full of quarters?  I'm probably trying to read way to much into a line that just fit in the rhyming pattern, but every time I hear the songs I start thinking about this now.

Anyway, Donkey Kong confusion aside, Can Do Easy is a top notch Barreracudas album.  It has so many catchy songs and good times; it was absolutely worth the wait.

The Barreracudas - Can Do Easy LP:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Sings LP - Screened Cover (/110)


Slice Of Wax (2015)

What we have here is the follow up to yesterday's review of this album.  While yesterday's talked about the standard versions of the record, in both black and white vinyl, this version has a completely different cover.  It's limited to 110 copies and screened black on white.  You probably can't really tell from this picture, but the black that is making up the image is actually text that says "Dan Sartain" over and over again.

It's a pretty neat little effect.  The vinyl color is technically different as well.  Even though it looks white based on my picture, it's actually white with some gray swirling.  It's subtle, but it's there.  Musically, this is the same exact alum as yesterday, so you can read my thoughts on the record there.  In a nutshell; it's great and I like it.

I think this screened cover version is sold out on the label's website, but they still have the other two variants in you need to complete (or start) your Dan Sartain collection.

Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Sings LP:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Sings LP - White Vinyl (/165) & Black Vinyl (/265)


Slice Of Wax (2015)

The fine folks over at Slice Of Wax record have stepped up and made Dan Sartain's first ever, cassette only album available for the first time.  They've made three different versions and unlike some other labels, they actually cut me a deal to order all three rather than jack up the price and charge an unnecessary premium.  I actually hadn't planned on buying all three as the variant game is becoming a little overblown for me, but I couldn't pass up the deal and at the end of the day, I do want everything.

I'll take a picture of the third version tomorrow as it warrants an individual shot, so what we have today is the standard black vinyl version and the more limited white vinyl.  The quality of this reissue is pretty impressive.  Thick card stock on the album cover, super high quality paper on the printed inner sleeve and a big old fat slab of wax.  Quality is job one over at Slice Of Wax.  Considering what the One Little Indian vinyl reissues of Dan's other records came out like, this is just stellar.

Musically, it's an early feeling Dan Sartain album.  It leans a little more towards the darker country and rockabilly stylings and is not at all out of place grouped with Romance In Stereo or Crimson Guard.  Dan Sartain Sings is probably not quite as realized as those two, but it's a strong precursor and shows Dan at an early age when he was still pulling his influences and ideas together.

It's just another fun listen as is virtually everything in Dan Sartain's catalog.  I'm pretty thrilled that Slice Of Wax made this available on vinyl as now I can finally say I have a vinyl version of every Dan Sartain album.  And that's a good feeling.

Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Sings:

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Flatliners - Division of Spoils 2xLP - Gray & Splatter Vinyl


Fat Wreck (2015)

Prior to seeing The Flatliners open up for Rocket From The Crypt in Chicago a couple of years ago, I had never really paid much attention to them.  They impressed me so much that night I started to keep tabs on them a bit more.  This is only the second record of theirs that I have picked up since that night, but every time I hear more buy these guys I become more of a fan.

Division of Spoils is a two LP collection of singles, comp songs and etc.  While there are some great, great songs on here, I will admit that this is a really big chunk of music to try to get through in one sitting.  An hour and ten minutes of any one band can be a bit much at times and I definitely show some fatigue whenever I pop this guy on.  While I do think that a singles compilation is the one time where you can be more of a completist and err on the side of putting in too much, at about the fifty minute mark, it does feel like you've listened to more than enough.

Still, there are killer songs on this album.  The band plays a super energetic style of punk rock.  It owes a debt to a Social Distortion style greaser vibe at times,  but it's also equally as steeped in the Dillinger Four tradition of explosive hooks and huge choruses.  Plus they even cover one and a quarter Rocket From The Crypt songs, so you're always going to get some bonus points from me for that.  

If you already like the band, it's a no brainer of a pick up.  I'm not so sure that it's the best place to start off with The Flatliners for the first time.  All I have from them so far is a 7" and this singles compilation. It's probably about time that I actually pick up one of their full length albums.

The Flatliners - Division Of Spoils:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Red Dons - The Dead Hand Of Tradition LP - White Vinyl (/200)


Taken By Surprise (2015)

To say that I was excited that there was finally a new LP by Red Dons would be a drastic understatement.  Their last LP, Fake Meets Failure, was such a perfect slice of dark, driving and melodic punk rock I could hardly stand the five year wait.  Sure there have been a few 7"s here and there, but there's nothing quite the same as a new full album.

The Dead Hand Of Tradition is simply a great album.  I will admit that my expectations were perhaps unrealistically high.  I loved Fake Meets Failure so much, I couldn't help feeling slightly disappointed in the new album the first couple of times I listened to it.  I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly and I couldn't tell you what I felt was missing, but I didn't like it quite as much as their prior record.

Those initial feelings have been swept away the more I listen to this album.  I'm not sure if it's a grower or if it's just easier to appreciate now that I'm more familiar with it.  The Dead Hand Of Tradition really an essential album and one of the better records to have been released in 2015.  The band is still churning out their Wipers style downstroke heavy punk rock.  It's catchy, but deadly serious and if you have even passing interest in bands like The Estranged or Hot Snakes, you really need to give these guys a shot.

Taken By Surprise had pressed up a limited amount on white vinyl which seem to be sold out now.  I normally like to put the number of colored vinyl in the title of my review, but digging around I can't seem to find how many came out on white.  If you happen to know, pop me a line and I'll update this review.  If nothing else, I try to document this sort of thing for the other nerds like me out there.

Update: There were 200 on white vinyl.  100 sold by the label and 100 sold by the band on tour.  Thanks for the info Michl!

Red Dons - The Dead Hand Of Tradition LP:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Bingers - Gonna Get You 7"


Tall Pat (2014)

I slacked and fell behind on some of the Tall Pat records releases that had been coming out.  On my recent trip to Chicago I corrected that and picked up everything I had been missing.  I've got quite a few to get to, but I'll start out with this 7" from The Bingers.

I'll admit that I'm not always up for this sort of slower tempo, scuzzy guitar rock, but The Bingers have found a way to make 4 songs worth of it that I really enjoy.  I think it has a lot to do with the great bass playing on the record.  It goes from hypnotic snake charmer on songs like "Fukishima Hornets" and "Motorbike Cha Cha" right into a practically Silver Scooter-esque melodic pop on "Hideous Heart."

"Hideous Heart" is probably my favorite song on the record.  It is the most upbeat and catchy of the songs and that pleases my simple caveman brain.  Plus. I really dig the reverb heavy surf-guitar.  The Bingers are definitely on to something here and I'm curious to hear more from these guys.

The Bingers - Gonna Get You 7":

Monday, October 12, 2015

Get Bent - Discography LP - White Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2015)

I've said before that Dead Broke is one of those record labels that I trust more often than not.  While I can't claim to buy every single record they put out, I sure seem to pick up most of them.  The fact that they released this Get Bent discography LP is one of the reasons I trust them. 

I already have two Get Bent 7"s in my collection, the Dead It 7" on It's Alive as well as their split with Jean Claude Jam Band that came out on Kiss Of Death.  I knew what I was getting into buying this LP and I was aware that I already would have some of the songs.  Still, it's nice to just have everything in one place and all of the songs work really well as a full length album.

Get Bent is playing the style of melodic punk that I most often associate with bands like Iron Chic, Spraynard and to a lesser extent, RVIVR.  Catchy shout along choruses, biting lyrics and a rough around the edges presentation.  Get Bent are so good at this style of music, you start to wonder how they ended up kind of forgotten.  By any rights they should have been just as popular as any of the bands I mentioned earlier.

Regardless, it's awfully nice to be able to put on one record and hear everything they released.  Maybe with this discography LP, they'll finally get some of the notoriety that they deserved all along.

Get Bent - Discography LP:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Scream Dracula Scream

Interscope / Headhunter (1995)

Another big 20th anniversary today. Happy Birthday to Rocket From The Crypt's Scream Dracula Scream.  A huge record in an incredible catalog of music from the greatest band of all time.

I bought my first copy of this record a couple of months before it came out. I picked up an advance copy from a creepy guy selling promo CDs on a blanket dumped down on the sidewalk at the Dover Flea Market in NJ.  That is how much I couldn't wait for this album to come out.  It was everything I had hoped for and more. 20 years later it is every bit as great as it was the first time I listened to it.

"We hope you can relate to our desire to rock and roll. punk is dead."

Friday, October 9, 2015

High Hi - Calm Down Sir 7" - White w/ Splatter Vinyl


Punk Fox (2015)

I have a somewhat complicated relationship with the Punk Fox record label.  On one hand they were one of the earliest supporters of my dumb little website, sending me review copies of records before almost anyone else.  They're also incredibly loyal, having sent me every single record they've ever released.  Additionally, I've got to give it up for a small UK label trying to make their way in the world releasing vinyl with little to no web presence.  With Snuffy Smiles and Rugger Bugger being at the very top of the list of record labels I respect, seeing someone else take a similar path is exciting.

The complicated part of the relationship comes in because I haven't really liked most of the records they've put out.  Not all of them, there's been a few that were pretty good, but the bulk just haven't been up my alley.  This brings us to High Hi, a band that I feel just as conflicted about.  

On one hand, it's really not bad at all.  A-side "Calm Down Sir" is instrumental for the first 3 minutes or so, with crunchy guitars and a leisurely tempo.  The energy gradually builds throughout the song and when the vocals kick in, it's pretty triumphant.  On the B-side is "Tommy" which is a more traditional and straightforward song.  The guitars are a bit more swirly and the vocals a bit more structured and pointed.  

That's the one hand.  The other hand is that even though these songs are alright, I don't really like them all that much either.  Again, they aren't inherently bad or anything, but this sort of thing just doesn't really do anything for me.  I like my rock a bit punchier I guess and every time I listen to this record I tend to start zoning out. I'm sure there are folks that would like this, though I'm not positive they'd turn to my website for recommendations...

High Hi - Calm Down Sir 7":

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Atom Age - Hot Shame LP - Yellow Vinyl


Asian Man (2015)

A couple of years ago I came across The Atom Age.  They were billed as a band that owed a great debt to the sound of Rocket From The Crypt.  To the point where many of the Rocket faithful dismissed them as a copycat band.  I could see their point, though if there's a band that you're going to ape, I could think of worse bands than Rocket to try to emulate.  I thought both of the band's prior records were good, though perhaps not essential additions to anyone's collection.  Still, I was excited to hear that The Atom Age had a new album out this year.

First things first.  There is way too much fucking keyboard on this record.  It's all over every single song and it rarely adds anything.  More often than not it is just a distracting noise whizzing in the background.  If you removed the keyboard from this album completely, it would instantly get 23% better.  Unfortunately that's not the only thing that makes Hot Shame a disappointment.  

Rather than keep with the big guitar and wailing saxophone that their first two records were built on, the band has taken a hard detour into a 1960's, Question Mark And The Mysterians sort of sound.  While that isn't an inherently bad direction to go, it doesn't really help when your singer's only range is shouting at the top of his lungs.  

If The Atom Age are still trying to live up to Rocket From The Crypt, this record is an attempt to mimic songs like "When In Rome" or "Venom Venom."  Unfortunately, they just don't have the chops for this sort of diversity.  If anything, they should stick to the loud, fast and catchy songs they had been writing up to this point.  And seriously, lose the keyboard.

The Atom Age - Hot Shame:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ash - Kablammo LP


E.A.R. (2015)

A few weeks ago I was listening to the Ash record 1977 and wondered what the band was up to these days.  A quick search on line and I discovered they actually had a new record out.  I'm not sure if that says that I'm not able to pay attention as closely as I once was, or if Ash's new record isn't being met with that much fanfare.

I've really liked Ash for quite some time, but over the years they've been a frustratingly inconsistent band.  Well, it's probably more accurate to say they've been consistently frustrating as every other record of theirs is good, while the follow up isn't so much.  Starting with the first album I had, the aforementioned 1977 which is great.  Its follow-up Nu-Clear Sounds was a pretty big let down.  After that we had Free All Angels, which I thought was a thousand times better, but that high was brought back down by the next record Meltdown.  The band was back on form with Twilight of The Innocents next.  

Then the band decided to abandon the album format and release twenty six one sided 7"s each representing a letter of the alphabet.  Though I guess not an album proper, those songs effectively make up a full length (albeit a long full length) that really wasn't very good.  I actually gave up on picking up all of the 7"s as it is hard to get motivated to spend so much money on songs you don't really like.  I would like to finish up the set for nerdy completist purchases one day, but that will have to wait.

All of that back and forth leads us to the band's newest; Kablammo.  Lo and behold Ash is back to making another pretty great record.  There's no goofy experimentation, there's very little in the way of ambient electronica swooshes and noises in the background.  What the band decided to do was record and release a bunch of catchy rock songs.  Perfect.  Please Ash, just keep doing this.  Keep giving me songs as great as "Cocoon" and "Headonism."  I have no problem with the occasional slower song mixed like "Free" within the context of an album like this.  It all works together.

I feel that inevitably the band will do something wacky with their next record, it's just what they do.  But, at least I can enjoy Kablammo for right now and take solace that the band always seems to come back to writing great guitar pop songs once they get those weird ideas out of their system.

Ash - "Cocoon":

Ash - "Hedonism":

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Century Palm - Valley Cyan 7"


Deranged (2015)

Valley Cyan is the second Century Palm 7" that I received for review (the first was reviewed yesterday, in case you missed it).  As with their debut, there is a definite new wave lean to these songs, with even more liberal use of synth this time around.

The title track "Valley Cyan" has a steady groove fueled by ringing out guitar strumming and sitar-like accompaniment from the synthesizer.  It's pretty catchy and just as good as either song on the band's first 7".  Though I will say it has a heavier lean towards the new wave sounds of the 1980's than anything else the band has released so far.

I'll admit, I'm not sure what to make of the B-side "Accept."  It sort of sounds like the kind of song that would be playing in the background of an early John Hughes teen movie while the main hero contemplates their sadness at the low point of their story arc.  It's slow and for reasons I can't explain, the vocals take a severe turn from the lighter side to full on, baritone Leonard Cohen style brooding.  It's my least favorite thing I've heard from the band so far, but it's also something of an outlier, so I couldn't say if this is the sort of thing we'll hear more of in the future.

Regardless, three pretty strong songs out of four over the course of two 7"s is a pretty solid start for a new band.  Digging around online a bit, it looks like the band has more records in the works.  I'm looking forward to hearing what comes next.

Century Palm - Valley Cyan 7":

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Century Palm - White Light 7"


Symbolic Capital Industries (2014)

This is the first of two Century Palm 7"s that were sent to me to review.  As I've said in the past, this dumb little website isn't really a magnet for tons of free records sent my way.  I get a little something every so often and even if they're not very good, I'm always appreciative that anyone is paying attention (Although judging some of the records, I question if they're actually paying attention, but that's another story).  

When I opened up the package that contained the Century Palm records, I was even more optimistic than usual.  The artwork was nice and simple, but in a way that I could take the band seriously.  Also, I found out that the band is comprised by some of the same folks in bands like The Zebrassiers and Ketamines, so there's some pedigree there as well.  The two songs on this 7" delivered in a big way.

A-side "White Light" is a tight, upbeat song built off a great choppy, guitar riff.  It's catchy in the right places and draws upon new wave influences, but keeps them grounded enough in straight up rock and roll so as not to get too weird or annoying.  On the flip side we have "New Creation."  This one goes a little deeper into synth territory than the A-side.  I hear more of The Zebrassiers in this song, though it's significantly more laid back than The Zebrassiers frantic pop output.  While "New Creation" probably drifts a bit further into a 1980's sound than I typically like, it's still a strong song that had me nodding my head along every time I listened to it.

It looks like from their Bandcamp page, this 7" was also released as a cassette that had two additional songs on it.  I still prefer getting vinyl!  Though the other two songs are quite good too if you want to give them a listen as well.

Century Palm - White Light 7":

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mother's Children / Mandates - Split 7"


Taken By Surprise (2015)

I'm not sure if I'm just buying fewer 7"s this year or if we're starting to see a down tick in the number of them being released.  One that I sure hope doesn't become extinct is the split 7".  It's always been one of my favorite music listening vessels.  Though I love getting split 7"s that have a new band I wasn't familiar with on it, there's something extra fun about a split 7" that has two bands I already know and enjoy.

Mandates are first up, off the heels of their recent full length album.  Their song "Sycophantic Romantic" picks up where their last record left off; with fast paced and catchy power pop.  A slight coating of glam on the vocals and start/stop guitar riffage in the verse leading up to a bit hook with stuttering vocals in the chorus.

Mother's Children are definitely cut from the same cloth as Mandates.  They serve up their own power pop masterpiece with "No Rules."  To me, Mother's Children are a bit more subtle with their hooks and are not quite as in your face as Mandates can be.  Their song is probably my favorite of the two on this 7" and stacks up easily with anything the band has released in the past.

Mother's Children / Mandates - Split 7":

Monday, September 28, 2015

Royal Headache - High LP


What's Your Rupture (2015)

Very few records blew me away like 2011's self titled Royal Headache debut.  It was such a unique sound hitting at the perfect time.  It became an instant classic and a record that I continue to spin frequently to this day.  After waiting patiently for a few years, the band has finally followed up with their sophomore release High.

I've lamented the lack of great records in 2015.  It's been a year of quite a few good records, but it's been slim pickings on game changers.  The first time I put High on the turntable I was instantly caught up in an excitement that's been tough to come by this year.  I was immediately thinking this might be the best record of the year and was playing it multiple times a day.  Having spent some time with it these last few weeks, some of that initial rush has settled down and I think I have a more composed view of Royal Headache's 2nd album.

It is a great record.  It is definitely one of the best albums of 2015.  Top 10 for sure, top 5 probably as well.  However, with a bit of perspective I don't think that this album is quite as good as the first Royal Headache album.  For starters it's kind of front heavy with the hits, which I think helps lead to the rush of enthusiasm for the album.  The first four songs in particular are among the best the band has written and sets a high bar for the rest of the album.  

Unfortunately, the album hits a bit of a brick wall with track five ""Wouldn't You Know." While not a bad song or anything, it's a real momentum killer and to me, the band struggles to recapture the energy of the songs that precede it.  That's not to say the rest of the album is no good.  It is good, it's very good actually with one or two songs borderlining on great.  But as much as I like this album, which is quite a lot, it's not album of the year level and it is just a bit shy of the greatness of the first Royal Headache record.

That being said, this is a great record and this is definitely one of the best albums of the year.  Don't mistake this review for anything other than a positive one.  This is a record you should buy.

Royal Headache - High LP: