Thursday, September 22, 2016

Made In Japan - Instant Hit 7"


HoZac (2016)

Another 7" from the random pack of records HoZac sent me to review.  I know that HoZac has been doing quite a few of these archival releases the last few years.  I've admitted it before and I'll repeat myself now, I've never been all that interested in the power pop scene from the late 70's and early 80's.  Not that I haven't heard plenty of good songs from that era, but it's just not something I get as excited about as a lot of others do.

With that said, the two songs on this Made In Japan 7" are pretty good.  Both are strong, catchy slices of power pop.  I don't think there's anything all that remarkable about either song, but they are both easy listens.  "Instant Hit" reminds me a bit of "Jesse's Girl," though a thousand times less cheesy. "You Never Had It So Good" on the flip side is actually my preference.  With its frantic chorus and bouncy bass lines it definitely gets my head nodding.

The issue I have with this 7", and also with a lot of records from this era, is that the recording quality is a bit muffled and stuffy.  I am not dumb, I realize that this was recorded in a completely different era, especially for punk bands, but it's just one of those things that always seems to jump out at me.  At the end of the day, it's a good enough little 7".  I'm not sure I would have bought it, but I'll be keeping it in the collection.

Made In Japan - "Instant Hit:

Made In Japan - "You Never Had It So Good":

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lutheran Heat - Louder From The Other Side LP


Pinata (2016)

I'll admit it, I was taken in by this band's name and that's why I started looking into them.  Something about the name Lutheran Heat struck me as being funny, but not in a 'stupid band name' way.  I thought it was clever.  I think they had one song up at the label's Bandcamp page at the time along with a preorder for the record.  I liked the song, so I decided to take a chance.  Lucky for me, the whole record is pretty darn great.

I actually find Louder From The Other Side similar to the Laika's Orbit record that I recently reviewed.  Maybe a bit more restrained, with more songs that run mid tempo, but especially the recording and the general aesthetic of the two records have a lot in common.  Lutheran Heat is playing jangly and bouncy guitar, weaving in stupendous male/female vocal harmonies and toe tapping hooks.  This is a band very much playing the sort of carefree and catchy pop as bands like Title Tracks and White Wires.

Needless to say I really dig this album a lot.  It's always especially rewarding when you take a chance on a new band's record and it ends up being this good.  I absolutely recommend checking out Lutheran Heat, this is one of the better records I've bought all year.

Lutheran Heat - Louder From The Other Side:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sega Genocide - "TRYS" LP


Just Because (2016)

Whenever I get an album for review I just don't know what to expect when I pop this on the turntable.  For some reason the things I get sent tend to be on the noisier side of things and usually that's not my bag.  So when I put on Sega Genocide for the first time, fearing some sort of hardcore attack, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a warm, fuzzy guitar.  Luckily, we've got some pop on our hands here.

The first band that immediately popped into my mind when I hear the lead track "New Words" was W.H Walker.  The way the song bounced along the verse only to be met with upbeat gang vocals in the chorus gave me that same sort of shout along enthusiasm.  While that type of energy isn't consistent throughout the record, what is consistent is that warm fuzzy guitar and some pretty top notch pop hooks.

I definitely favor Sega Genocides more upbeat tracks.  The aforementioned "New Words" is a highlight as are songs like "Despite Me," "Peer Mediator" and "Immediate Contact."  The latter of which really reminds me a lot of the quirky pop of bands like Boat.  All in all, this is a pretty good record.  Not a band I was familiar with prior to being sent this record, but I definitely foresee more spins of this guy in the future.

Sega Genocide - "TRYS":

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Steve Adamyk Band - Graceland LP - Clear Vinyl (/300)


Dirtnap (2016)

I have been such a gigantic fan of the Steve Adamyk Band since their very first 7" that came out on Ptrash so many moons ago.  When I picked that record up based on a "this is a dude from Sedatives" descriptions, I really don't think I realized it would turn into the starting point of one of my favorite bands of the entire decade.  Adamyk & company have kept up a furious pace of releasing records and Graceland is their fifth full length since 2010.

I've never really had anything resembling actual complaints about anything that Steve Adamyk Band has ever released, but if I had to point to one hing, it was that I didn't completely love the recording/production of their last album Dial Tone.  The songs were there and it was still one of my favorite records of that year, but the recording felt a little flat on some songs.  Any issues with that have been completely resolved with Graceland.  The production is bright, crisp and punchy.

Graceland starts out with the speedy burst of frantic energy that is "Through My Fingers." It's a burner of an album opener that instantly grabs your attention, but from there the band takes things down half a notch with "Carry On." For me, this is always where Steve Adamyk band hits their sweet spot.  Slightly slower than their fastest songs, the verse has the "whoas" in the right places and it builds into a supremely catchy hook.  I just love stuff like this and it throws me back to my favorite Adamyk song from their first album "Your Only One."  No one can touch Steve Adamyk Band when they're hitting songs like this.

The rest of the album varies from excellent to stupidly good.  Hit after hit with buzzsaw guitars, catchy vocals and even some tasteful synth here and there to give the album a little extra flavor.  If you've been reading this website for any length of time, none of this should be news for you.  I've been screaming at the top of my lungs about how much I love this band for years.  What's really amazing to me is how they are just as incredible on their fifth album as they were the first time I heard them.  Keep it up guys!

Steve Adamyk Band - Graceland:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Rutabega - Unreliable Narrator LP - Clear w/ Black Smoke Vinyl (/250)


Comedy Minus One (2016)

Record labels out there, never underestimate the power of your email list.  I think I ended up on the Comedy Minus One email list from buying an Obits 7" a few years back.  But as the old saying goes, I came for the Obits but stayed for the Karl Hendricks Trio.  Anyway, Comedy Minus One cranks out their update emails every so often and that is where I first heard of The Rutabega.  I guess these guys have been kicking around for an awfully long time, but I had never heard of them prior to now.  The description sounded intriguing and I checked out a song online and I was in.

Unreliable Narrator is a diverse record.  There are some songs that have the sort of concise and hooky guitar pop song structure that I love.  Opener "Shiny Destination" is just a blast of bouncy guitars and sing along rhyming.  It's my favorite song on the album, but the good times certainly don't stop there.  At times The Rutabega strike me as being sonically similar to The Posies, with the higher pitched vocals and the way the guitar weaves in and out between them.  But there are other times where the music gets more complex and demanding like the nine minute plus "Lip."  In this song you can hear the channeling of the Doug Martsch guitar gods as the songs sprawls out in front of you, quiet in places but building more intense moments at the close.

This album has a very late 90's feel to me.  It was a time when some of the poppier bands from the mid 90's began to tinker around with longer songs and more contemplative moments.  The Rutabega has definitely perfected those ambitions.  I'm not sure if their past records are as good as Unreliable Narrator, but I aim to find out.

The Rutabega - Unreliable Narrator:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Creeps / The No Marks - Split 7" - Green Vinyl (/300)


All In Vinyl (2016)

Even if I had never heard of any band in the All In Vinyl singles series this year, I would have bought the entire series based purely off of this one 7".  Sure, you could also just buy it separately, but in my mind, anyone smart enough to release a split like this probably has their act together and is going to provide more gems than just this.

We'll start off with The Creeps; another in a long line of great Canadian bands.  They've taken a slightly darker view of popped out punk.  Not as goofy haunted house as say The Hex Dispensers, but The Creeps have a gloomy vibe that comes through again on these two songs.  I find it impossible to write about this band without saying how much I think the singer reminds me of the guy from that old UK band Reverse, but I say it as a complement. Reverse were great and so are The Creeps.

On the flip side are two new songs by The No Marks.  Along with Chestnut Road, The No Marks are just about my favorite band playing the sort of melodic punk rock that was so tied to the mid nineties UK scene.  If you want to try to describe a certain sound that I'm most drawn to as a music fan, this is pretty much it.  Their side of the split offers two more outstanding songs.  Catchy in all the right places with the sort of hooky choruses that I always go crazy for.  Think the poppier side of Leatherface, Hooton 3 Car or the slower moments of Chopper.  The No Marks are simply one of the best.

The Creeps / The No Marks - Split 7":

Monday, September 12, 2016

Tender Defender - S/T 12" - White w/ Splatter vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2016)

There is a strain of melodic punk rock that certainly wasn't invented by either Iron Chic or RVIVR, but those are the two active bands that I most associate with the sound.  Considering that the band contains a member of Iron Chic and a member of RVIVR, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that Tender Defender does kind of fall right into the middle of this strain.

If you are familiar with either Iron Chic or RVIVR (or Tender Defender's other precursor band, Latterman), you'll probably be pretty content with this 12" EP.  While I have never been a fan of the 12" EP as a format (I'll take a 10" every time as my personal preference), Tender Defender certainly make the most of their time and leave you clamoring for more songs.  Tracks like "Hello Dirt" and "f.e.f.e." feel like home with their fast and powerful guitar work and sing along choruses.  It's hard to not imagine a group of people at a Tender Defender show with their fists in the air singing along to every word.  Even when the band slows things down and takes some chances on longer songs like "Rudes and Cheaps," they still hit it out of the park.

Now, I am going to take some points away for the band having a song called "The Tender Defender," as I've never liked it when bands have songs with the same title as the band name, but I don't have anything bad to say about the song itself.  It's another solid entry on this 12".  Tender Defender has come storming out of the gate with a debut that is really worth checking out.  Hopefully it's the first of many releases and not just a one off side effort in between the member's main bands.

Tender Defender - S/T 12":

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dead Bars / The Kimberly Steaks - Split 7" Cream Vinyl (/300)


All In Vinyl (2013)

More singles club action from All In Vinyl, the last label standing with a good singles club worth subscribing to.  Step it up, other labels.  This 7" is a prime example of why I like singles clubs so much, it's giving me the chance to listen to two bands that I've never even heard of before, chosen by a label whose taste in music I trust.  Even though I'll admit that I don't love either of these bands, they're still both pretty good and I might not have ever listened to them if not for the club.

I'll start off with Dead Bars.  They're from Seattle and as soon as I heard them I though that they sounded like the kind of band that would fit in on No Idea records.  Then I found out they already have a 7" on No Idea so I guess I was right about that.  They have something of a Dear Landlord vibe to them with lots of fast guitar rhythms and some catchy choruses.  The vocals are a little too crackly and shouty for my person taste, but it's pretty alright.

On the other side we have The Kimberly Steaks.  They hail from Glasgow and are playing a much different kind of punk rock than Dead Bars.  They are also rooted in fast guitars and hooks, but they remind me much more of bands like Fear Of Lipstick, a little more Ramones and a little less gruffness in the vocals.  Both songs just go whizzing by pretty fast, but they're catchy and a fun listen.  Neither band is the reason I signed up for the singles club, but both remind me why I like to sign up for clubs like this.

Dead Bars / The Kimberly Steaks - Split 7":

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hot Mass - Nervous Tensions LP - Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl


Brassneck / Waterslide / All In Vinyl (2016)

There was a time where I felt that every single band coming out of the UK was untouchable.  So many great bands for so many years.  Then things seemed to start quieting down over there.  At least to me, it seemed like there weren't anywhere near the amount of killer bands as there once was.  Over the recent years the pendulum is starting to swing back in the other direction and a new band that I like is popping up all of the time. The most recent of these bands is Hot Mass.

They're boasting a pedigree of 'ex members of' when you read the descriptions of Nervous Tensions, but I have to admit that I never really was a huge fan of any of their other bands like The Arteries.  Hot Mass, on the other hand, is a band I have become an instant fan of.  They're capturing a whirlwind of noisy punk energy and forcing it into catchy pop nuggets.  I'm reminded a lot of the band Rumspringer, but with about 37% more chaos in each song.  Early Spraynard might be another touchstone, but Hot Mass exceeds anything and everything that Spraynard ever put out.

Do you like your punk rock catchy, but rough around the edges?  Do you want a vocalist that's shredding his vocal chords, but doing so in a melodic way that doesn't involve unnecessary screaming?  Do you want super dynamic guitar work and big anthemic choruses?  If you answered yes to any of these, you should probably check out this Hot Mass album.  It'll scratch all of those itches

Hot Mass - Nervous Tensions:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Marvelous Darlings - Single Life LP - Pink Vinyl


Deranged (2011)

It's pretty crazy to think that this record came out five years ago and it's been that long since Marvelous Darlings released a record.  I'm not sure why they split up, but man do I miss them.  This is the pink vinyl version of their singles compilation.  I'm kind of surprised it was still kicking around all of these years later.  

When this album was originally put out, Deranged listed a black vinyl version and a blue vinyl version, which I bought right away.  A few weeks later they listed this pink version and I was just never willing to commit the crazy Canadian postage rates required to pick it up.  Fast forward a few years and Deranged started offering a cheaper shipping alternative for the folks in the US, so I picked this up while ordering another record.   There are only a few bands that I really go variant crazy for, but Marvelous Darlings is one of those bands.

This LP is a collection of every 7" that Marvelous Darlings released over their active years.  The way this band combined a rock and roll swagger with some of the biggest pop hooks you've ever heard was something to hear.  It's been especially weird to watch singer Ben Cook's other project Young Guv go off the rails with his first full length after releasing a slew of 7"s and then just kind of go dark.  The torch is still being carried a by Marvelous Mark who is crafting some awfully nice pop tunes, but even those are missing some of the crunch and fervor that Marvelous Darlings were able to capture.

Single Life ends up being a picture perfect document of a band that was together for a few years, wrote some of the best damn songs you've ever heard and then vanished into the night.  It's a pretty essential record if you ask me.  What I wouldn't give for the band to do another.

Marvelous Darlings - Single Life:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Hum Hums - Back To Front CD


Waterslide (2015)

It's impossible to say as many good things about Waterslide records as I want to.  The pile of CDs they sent me to review has yielded gem after undiscovered gem and The Hum Hums is right at the top of the pile.  I will admit, I'm not nearly as up on the current crop of non-Snuffy Smiles Japanese bands as I was when I was a bit younger.  More of them are slipping through the cracks as it is difficult to keep up with a scene that gets so little exposure in America.  I'm positive that if the spotlight was a little brighter over there, more people would be likely to listen to this sort of thing.

I had never heard or even heard of The Hum Hums prior to popping in this CD, but let me tell you I sure am glad I've heard them now.  Back To Front is a little different to describe.  At its core is the very essence of a Ramones-core, 1990s pop punk band.  But the way that The Hums Hums craft their songs, in particular the truly glorious vocal harmonies, elevate every song on this album to something special.

If you listen to "She Won't Spread It" (which is about someone keeping secrets - I know where your mind was going), I just can't imagine you not being impressed with the way the backing vocals lift the song up.  It's nearly impossible for me not to sing along every time it comes on.  That's just one of a myriad of hits on this album.  "Introvert," "Sidewalk Surfers" and "Starway" all have just as many incredible moments that suck you into the record.  All I can do is thank the folks at Waterslide for sending this over to me.  This is great stuff.

The Hum Hums - Back To Front:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Danger Signs - Reset LP


Big Neck (2016)

I think one of the reasons I still do this silly website is because I still read reviews and buy records because of them.  It's definitely not like it was when I was younger, but I still find value in the opinions of others.  That is how I discovered Danger Signs as I found the review of Reset on Razorcake.  The description seemed up my alley, so I decided to pick it up.  There wasn't anything I was able to find online to check out any songs, so I had to just rely on the written word.

I'm glad I took the chance as this is a pretty great record.  If anything, my biggest complaint is that it didn't come with a download code so I had to make my own MP3s of it in order to listen to it on the go.  Regarding the music itself, this is the sort of punked out, garagey stuff that I love.  If you imagine the fastest and loudest Marked Men songs, Danger Signs' slowest songs are a bit faster than that.  They are constantly in the red, tearing through song after song.

Occasionally, they go a little too fast for their own good and sacrifice the hooks and melodies for speed and a bit of shouting.  It's only a few times over the course of the record, but those are my least favorite moments.  I tend prefer the songs where Danger Signs are only playing at ridiculous speed as opposed to ludicrous speed.  These are guys that really know how to punch a hook into the middle of a song.  They will be chugging along when suddenly you are listening to the god damn catchiest thing you ever heard.

If you are into bands like The Marked Men, Chinese Telephones or maybe to a lesser extent The Carbonas, Danger Signs is worth checking out.  Unfortunately, you'll probably have a hard time finding a way to check them out and you may have to just take a chance on the record like I did.  I actually did find one song from the record on their Bandcamp, but that appears to be all that is out there.

Danger Sings - "Little Late":

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Shallow Cuts - Empty Beach Town LP


No Idea (2016)

I have to admit, I was pretty excited to receive this album to review.  I have an older 7" by the band that I really like, so it was nice to finally be able to check out the band's debut full length.  Shallow Cuts is one of those bands that's not quite a band all the time.  The members live in different parts of the country and only get together a few times a year to work on music.  It kind of sounds like the same situation as the drummer I play with.  Except he lives in the same area as the rest of us but still only bothers to show up a couple of times a year.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.  Empty Beach Town is a really strong release from Shallow Cuts.  The album has that feel of older punk rockers that are starting to slow things down a little bit.  They're taking a bit more time constructing their songs and building their hooks.  They're starting to let some rootsy Tom Petty and Springsteen influences subtly creep into their songs.  

In many ways I feel like this a record aimed square at my demographic; someone in their late thirties or early forties with a lot of Leatherface records in their collection.  Let's be honest, that is my demographic to a T.  And while I certainly wouldn't mind if Shallow Cuts had a little more of a bite to some of their songs, this is still a pretty great record and a really great listen when you're crashed out on the couch on a Sunday afternoon drinking a root beer.

Shallow Cuts - Empty Beach Town:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Urchin - 25 Complaints Beside 18 Years CD


Waterslide (2016)

I think I can say pretty easily that this CD is the best record I've ever been sent for review.  It probably doesn't hurt that The Urchin have long been one of my absolute favorite bands from Japan.  They haven't put out an album since their 2001 masterpiece Another Day, Another Sorry State, but I have always held out hope that they were going to release something new.  That's mostly because I saw that they have still been playing in Japan all of these years.  The bad news is that this CD isn't a new full length album, but the good news is that it compiles all of their non album songs into one place.  And hot damn are these songs great.

To me, The Urchin always felt like the Dillinger Four of Japan.  Every song they've ever released has been tight and catchy, with the sort of ridiculously hooky choruses that so few bands are capable of.  They've got so many amazing songs from their various 7"s they've been putting out over the past eighteen years.  Their entire run of Snuffy Smile 7"s are present as are various other splits, the songs from a self released CDEP, several compilation songs and even a couple that were previously unreleased.  Despite having hunted down as many records of theirs as I could find, there were still a few songs on this that I had never heard before.

Even though they haven't put out a new record in fifteen years, it would still be hard for you to convince me that The Urchin is not the best band in Japan.  The songs on this record reminded me just how much I love this band and if I have to wait another fifteen years for a new full length, so be it, I'll keep waiting.  Though, I would prefer to not have to wait that long if possible, so let's get some new songs recorded!

The Urchin - 25 Complaints Beside 18 Years:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Giant Dog - Pile LP


Merge (2016)

Pile is the third album from A Giant Dog and the second one that I have purchased.  I think I should probably go back and pick up their first album as well because this makes two stellar albums in a row for the band.  Much like their last record Bone, Pile is a tour de force of powerful guitars, dark harmonies and spectacular hooks.

The vocals are mainly held down by Sabrina Ellis, with big time help in the backing and harmonies department by guitarist Andrew Cashen.  These two create a whirlwind of powerful howling into the night.  With tales of death, drugs and rock and roll, reading the lyrics alone you'd sometimes question what they heck you were actually listening to.  But this band has a way of disguising their dark themes within one of the most energetic and flat out rocking bands on the planet.  Sure, they might be able to "watch you die and not feel a thing," but you're not going to be all that upset since they've shared this information in the context of one of the best songs of the year, "Creep."

The album is consistently rocking from start to finish.  Sure, there are some minor variations.  Some songs drift into poppier territory while others have more of a glam hint to them.  There's a few garagey stompers and even a tender acoustic moment, but the entire time you just get the feeling that you are in the presence of a mighty powerful rock and roll tornado, bearing down on you at breakneck speed.  A Giant Dog really stand alone in today's world.  I can't think of too many bands that sound much like them, but they are essential listening for anyone that wants to have the doors blown off by a fierce rock and roll band.

A Giant Dog - Pile:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Beck - Mellow Gold LP - Purple Smoke Vinyl (/2016)


Bong Load (2016, Reissue)

I can say, without hesitation that Mellow Gold is both one of my favorite and one of the most important records I bought back when I was in high school.  Even though I've had the original pressing of this forever (the one with the alternate version of "Pay No Mind" on it), I still had to pick this new repress up for a few reasons.  First, I'm certainly a sucker for limited variants of all time favorite records (this is numbered out of two thousand and sixteen copies). Second, I wanted a copy of Mellow Gold on vinyl that had the regular version of "Pay No Mind" on it.  Lastly, I wanted a version that I could play without care and figured a remastered, 180 gram version of it would probably be the way to go.  I was correct in thinking that.

This pressing sounds spectacular.  Everything is crisp and clear.  The bass is warm and satisfying and even the more sparse acoustic songs just sound full and rich.  Comparing it to my original pressing, it actually sounds a little cleaner I think, but both are quite good.  I'm not sure exactly what they tweaked during the remastering process, but it certainly wasn't anything that changed the record other than making it sound great on vinyl.

The music on this record it some of the most influential I've listened to.  Listening to Beck made me start learning how to play guitar.  It was the first time I listened to something and felt I could maybe play some of that.  I first heard Mellow Gold from my friend Scott in high school, on cassette in the tape deck in his Dodge Sundance.  "Loser" wasn't really on my radar at all and the first Beck song I actually ever heard was "Soul Suckin' Jerk."  I liked it right away as I thought it had a cool Beastie Boys vibe to it.  As we went through the record, I was just dumbfounded on how varied the songs were.  By the time we got to the screaming chaos of "Motherfuker" I was sold.  I went out and bought my own copy right away.  

Then I figured out there were other Beck records out like Stereopathetic Soulmanure and One Foot in the Grave. Then I started buying all of the singles.  Then the import singles and from there on out it was a full on obsession.  Trading bootleg tapes with other fans was essentially the first thing I ever used the internet for.  

All of this started to wind down for me when Odelay came out.  Not that it isn't a great album, but Beck never felt the same to me after that.  He always felt more polished than he had when I was first getting into him.  He went from this insane misfit throwing shoes on TV to someone that people were suddenly taking very seriously.  It was never as much fun after that.  Though I've still bought and enjoyed every other record Beck has released, he was never able to recapture that lightning in a bottle of the Mellow Gold era for me.  Twenty two years on, I still listen to the kazoo solo at the end of "Steal My Body Home" and wonder how on earth he tricked a major label into releasing this wonderful mess as his debut full length album.  Genius.

Beck - "Pay No Mind":

Beck - "Nightmare Hippy Girl":

Beck - "Whiskeyclone Hotel City 1997":

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bonehead - You 7"


Miss 45 (2016)

This is another 7" that was sent to me to review.  Artwork wise, I figured it had potential.  Though after listening to it, I'm pretty underwhelmed.  In the accompanying photocopied letter the person behind Bonehead, Alexandra, refers to herself as a "songwriter, producer, musician."  Maybe it's just the world I come from, but that sure seems like a weird trilogy of descriptions to lead with.  What's wrong with 'I made a record?' Anyway, the silly letter isn't the real problem with this 7".  The real problems are the songs and the recording quality.

The 7" starts off with "You." It's a really stripped down and basic song with a slinky bass line and low key vocals.  It has a real 60's vibe, that isn't necessarily bad, but it's nothing very memorable.  What really drags it down is the rudimentary drumming.  I'm not saying I could do better or anything, drums go off beat just with me being in the room sometimes, but I'm also not recording and releasing my own 7" with me drumming on it.

We then move on to "Gone Girl."  It sounds so completely different, recording wise.  The vocals are totally blown out and echo-y which kills any melody.  At least the drumming is a little better, well until the entire song goes completely off the rails during a really weird guitar solo.  Wrapping things up on the B side is "Take Out The Trash."  Again, the recording quality and volume shifts wildly.  The vocals are super compressed the way a cliche 80's song would be (think of that cover of "Money (That's What I Want)" by The Flying Lizards).  Oh, and there's a quick solo played by pushing buttons on a telephone.  Bad news.

Bonehead - You 7":

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lovemen - 1993 - 2000 CH. 2 CD


Waterslide (2015)

Today we have the companion release to yesterday's Lovemen CD.  Chapter two includes a lot of my very favorite Lovemen songs including the songs from their split 7"s with Hooton 3 Car, Eversor, Servo, The Tone, a couple of compilations as well as my favorite of their full lengths, Children Eat a Nightmare.  Also included as a bonus disc is Lovemen's second demo tape along with a song from a cassette only compilation.

As with chapter one, I have owned the vast majority of these songs for quite a few years.  The split 7"s are the records that got me interested in Lovemen originally and Children Eat a Nightmare is perhaps one of the best albums that Snuffy Smile had ever released.  Like everything from yesterday's CD, these records have been out of print forever, so it's so great to have these songs all compiled and available again on Waterslide records.

As far as the songs go, this is a masterclass in melodic punk rock.  Lovemen were very much inspired by the Snuffs, Leatherfaces and Mega City Fours of the day, but I never felt like Lovemen was trying to sound like one of these bands.  They took these influences and crafted something that was unique to them.  That along with the ability to unleash so much energy into their songs, regardless of how fast or how slow they are playing is what always drew me to this band.  I just want to ball my fist up, throw it in the air and shout along to everything coming out of my speakers.

Listening to all of these songs together, especially the 7" songs which I admittedly haven't played in quite some time, it really struck me just how amazing this band really is.  Just like with chapter one yesterday, this is just an essential release if you are interested in Japanese punk rock.

Lovemen - "Drive Back":

Lovemen - "Line":

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lovemen - 1993-2000 CH. 1 CD


Waterslide (2015)

Waterslide records from Japan sent me a package of CDs to review and I couldn't possibly be more excited about it.  Long time readers will probably know that Japanese punk rock is one of my absolute favorite things in the world.  It really started for me with Snuffy Smile records and the split 7"s they have been releasing since the 90's.  I think the first time I had heard of Snuffy Smile was when they put out the Goober Patrol/Sprocket Wheel split 7", but it was very soon after that they started a string of 7"s featuring some of my favorite UK bands like Broccoli, Skimmer, Travis Cut and Chopper.

At first the Japanese bands were just these other bands that happened to be on the records I was buying, but it didn't take long for these bands to start being the highlights.  Two of the first to really make an impact with me were Blew and Lovemen.  This Lovemen CD is the first chapter of a two part set compiling everything they released.  This first set includes the band's debut album December, the two tracks from their split 7" with Exit Condition, four compilation songs and a bonus disc containing their first four song demo tape. 

Now, I am a pretty huge Lovemen fan and I did already have the bulk of the songs on this set, but even for a completist like me, there we still new and interesting discoveries to make.  Lovemen created such a distinct sound in their day, melodic as can be with scratchy vocals that clawed their way into my heart.  The songs are incredibly dynamic with interesting chord changes and tempos.  They can throw down a straight ahead burner just as easily as they can slow things down and get really complex with their song structure.

To have everything compiled on this album is such a crazy thing to see for someone who spent so much time trying to hunt down these records in the dark ages of the 90's.  It's especially great as the vast, vast majority of these records have been out of print for ages.  If you have even the most passing interest in Japanese punk rock, this is an essential collection from one of the most important bands in the early days of the Snuffy Smile scene.

Lovemen - "Believe In Me":

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Brokedowns / Direct Hit - Split 7"


Red Scare (2016)

I was sent this split 7" for review by Red Scare records.  They've never sent me anything before and I'll have to admit, I wasn't all that familiar with either band before listening to this 7".  Considering that the artwork struck me as being a little cheesy (ahem), I was actually pleasantly surprised that I ended up liking this as much as I did.

We'll start with The Brokedowns, a band whose name I have certainly seen around a lot .  Though, aside from a split 7" with Wide Angles that didn't really strike me as anything special, I haven't heard much by them.  Their 3 songs on this 7" are all totally fine.  They definitely have a midwestern punk vibe with vocals that have the same sort of urgency as the Paddy songs from Dillinger Four.  The hooks are nowhere at the level of D4, but all three songs are totally serviceable fast, gruffy vocal punk rock.

On the other side is Direct Hit.  They're a band I don't really know anything about.  Even though they sound eerily similar to The Brokedowns, they still manage to serve up two songs that are pretty good.  While The Brokedowns probably hold the edge in vocals, Direct Hit had the advantage when it comes to big catchy choruses.  Again, if you're into Dillinger Four or the mid 2000s No Idea records sort of bands, you may want to check these guys out.  Maybe this record isn't a blow away must own, but all in all, it's a solid little split 7".

The Brokedowns - "Hing Of The Dust":

Direct Hit - "Chemical Ability":

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rocket From The Crypt - Don't Drop The Baby 7" - 2 Versions


Swami (2016)

So this is pretty momentous, a new record by Rocket From The Crypt.  What's even more exciting is that unless this is a really obscure cover song that I can't find any information about, this is the first proper new Rocket song since the band got back together a couple of years ago.  I could not be more excited about this, if the world needs one thing right now, it's new Rocket From The Crypt music.

The story of this 7" is a little convoluted. Originally, the intent was to only have this available at the ill fated Drive Like Jehu curated All Tomorrow's Party.  When that festival shit the bed, this turned into a record that was being sold at some recent Rocket From The Crypt shows.  It started out in Denver Colorado and was sold as a one sided 7" with only the hand stamped artwork.  A good friend picked up a copy for me and I am forever grateful to him.

A few weeks later this 7" reappeared at the band's Chicago shows and then made the rounds on the East coast, stopping at New York City, Asbury Park and Boston.  This time around, in addition to the hand stamped cover, the blank B-side was replaced with the fancy screen printing that you see on the right.  This did two things.  First, it made the 7" about seventy three percent cooler than it already was.  But the second thing it did was create a rarer version without the screen print that seems to have been only sold at the Denver show.  Kind of neat and definitely keeps in line with Rocket From The Crypt's sprawling and complicated discography.  One of the toughest bands in the world to collect, I assure you.

Oh, and on top of everything else, the song is a sure fire hit single.  Chugging start/stop guitars, huge backing vocals and to sort of big hook that only Speedo can dish out.  It's a great song and leaves me thirsting for more.  All I can do is hope that this 7" is part of some sort of master plan to bring a new Rocket album into the world.  The fact that they are working on new material at all is cause for celebration, I just hope it leads to more.

Can't seem to find this song online anywhere at the moment, aside from as part of a radio show on WFMU, that also has a Rocket live set, so it's worth a listen:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Good Shade - Breakfast CD


Gut Genug (2016)

CD's do still have a place in my world.  Sure, I'd never buy one if there is a vinyl version available, but I'd rather buy a hundred CDs than one cassette.  At this point I can't imagine it's more expensive to do a cheapo CD than to do a cassette.  I haven't price checked either, but you'd think the CD duplication process would be a lot easier.  Regardless, even though I wish this new Good Shade album had been released on vinyl, I'm glad they avoided the tape route and went with a good old fashioned CD.

Good Shade is a band that is flying way under the radar and that's a damn shame because this is the second straight album they've released that just rips from start to finish.  Good Shade is the brain child of Shane Natalie and he plays all of the instruments on this album.  He was also in Tight Bros, a band that I really dig.  I'm not sure if they're still together though.  Anyone know?  Anyway, Breakfast is a non stop attack of hooks and buzz saw guitar.  A little bit Marked Men and a little bit Sonic Avenues.  I could certainly see this album on Dirtnap and it definitely deserves that kind of exposure.

2016 has been something of a lackluster year for new albums so far, especially truly great, fun pop albums.  This is the sort of record that turns your entire year around.  Breakfast is a top tier punked out pop album and it really should be picked up at all costs (and actually the cost is ridiculously cheap on the Good Shade Bandcamp page, so there's really no excuse).  Oh, there's also a little note in the CD artwork that just says "1 of 3" with no other info.  Could that mean Lunch and Dinner albums are on the way? I sure hope so.

Good Shade - Breakfast:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Liquid Breakfast - Let It Be 77 Again 7" - Yellow Vinyl - Variant Covers


Still Unbeatable (2015)

Still Unbeatable records from Germany sent these over to review and I was particularly interested in the fact that they sent me both versions of the same record.  To me, that shows there's a decent chance they might actually read this website unlike a lot of other records that randomly get sent over to me.  I especially like the Japanese cover variant, but the music doesn't live up to expectations.

Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting.  The 7" is called Let It Be 77 Again after all. But this doesn't feel like a tribute to a time gone by, it feels like a hokey grab at fleeting memories from someone that can't move on.  I will be the first to admit that I have no idea who anyone in this band is, so if they're former members of some really important, yet obscure power poppers from the past; they're too obscure for me to know.  

There is a lot that bugs me about this record.  The singer sounds like a cartoon leprechaun.  The lyrics for "Let It Be 77 Again" are cliched at best and silly at worst.  The dual layered lead guitars on B-side "We Won't Do It More" sound like they were pulled out of the worst Castlevania game imaginable.  It's as if this band had the recipe for a couple of good songs, but then dumped in all of the wrong ingredients.  

If you really, really like everything and anything that sort of sounds like power pop and came out in the late 70's or early 80's or if you're just a gigantic fan of Lucky Charms cereal, it's possible you might dig this record.  Personally, I don't like marshmallows very much.  Or this record.  

Liquid Breakfast - "Let It Be 77 Again":

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Laika's Orbit - No Matter What It Takes LP


Total Negativity (2016)

This is one of the few instances where I can flatly say that I have no idea where I heard about this band.  Somewhere in my online record shopping excursions, I must have stumbled across this album and made a mental note to check them out at some point.  I flicked through a few songs on the Laika's Orbit Bandcamp page and then ordered the LP.  I wish I could thank whoever had drawn my attention to this record, because I absolutely love it.

This is the sort of perfect, medium-fi, bouncy pop record that I could listen to a hundred times a day.  Upbeat and energetic with killer vocal melodies and so many hooks that I'm almost tempted to write a bad analogy to compare the record to something that has a lot of hooks.  The first reference point that I immediately hear is the band Title Tracks, who coincidently had put out one of my favorite LPs of the past several years back in 2011.  I also think that fans of The Yolks would be into this, though Laika's Orbit strikes me as much catchier.  Did you like White Wires? Probably a good idea to check this record out.

I love everything about this album from the jangle of the rhythm guitar to the slight fuzz of the vocals to the perfect drumming and the bouncing bass lines.  This is absolutely, no questions asked one of the top five records I've heard this year.  Probably top three really.  I can't recommend it highly enough, especially if you are into any of the bands I mentioned way back in paragraph two.  Seriously, go buy this right now.

Laika's Orbit - No Matter What It Takes:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Notches - High Speed Crimes LP - Red Vinyl


Young Modern (2016)

When I reviewed the Notches 7" a couple of weeks ago I had mentioned that the songs were strong, but I thought the recording had ended up making things sound a bit flat.  They still showed a ton of potential and that potential is absolutely realized with their first full length album, High Speed Crimes. 

The first thing that leaps out at me is how much Notches are able to capture a real chaotic, but still supremely catchy, energy on this album.  They're able to combine higher pitched, melodic vocals and a fuzzed out, crunchy guitar sound that is always on the bleeding edge of being in the red.  Combine that with a drummer that sounds like he is beat the absolute shit out of his drum set and you've got yourselves a potent little band.  Notches remind me so much of early Rumspringer and that's high praise from me as I love that band (Side note: does anyone know if Rumpringer is still a band? Haven't heard anything out of them in quite some time).  

I say this in the most endearing way I possibly can: Notches are the absolute best kind of sloppy pop.  If you long for the days of bands like Corduroy or if you've taken a shine to something a bit more current like Hooper, I really can't imagine that Notches wouldn't also be right up your alley.

Notches - High Speed Crimes:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Toys That Kill - Sentimental Ward LP - Blue Vinyl (/200)


Recess (2016)

I was very late to the party with Toys That Kill.  I pretty much just started listening to them through their last album, Fambly 42.  I will say, that was a pretty amazing introduction to the band and I was primed and ready for Sentimental Ward.  While I don't think it's quite the earth shattering experience that Fambly was, Sentimental Ward is still a hell of a little record.

The thing that really strikes me about Toys That Kill is how much milage they can get out of repeating just a handful of chords.  Just like Rocket From The Crypt is able to own the world with repeating the G chord on "Sturdy Wrists," Toys That Kill can craft a supremely catchy and powerful song using only a handful of notes and chord changes.  I actually think it speaks to the talent of the band to be able to be so economical, yet still churn out hit after hit.

I do feel that 2016 has been a little all over the place with records this year.  Don't get me wrong, there's been some pretty tremendous albums so far, but there's also been some let downs.  Sentimental Ward is a very strong entry for the year.  While I don't anticipate it being a slam dunk top ten or anything, it's an easy top twenty and absolutely worth checking out if you're unfamiliar with the band.

Toys That Kill - Sentimental Ward:

Monday, August 1, 2016

Gutter - Rut 7" - White Vinyl


Speedowax / Punk Fox (2016)

I always approach any record I'm sent with some trepidation.  This Gutter 7" was sent over by Punk Fox who, though I have not liked quite a few of the records they have released, have kind of been on an upswing for me.  Plus it was co-released with Speedowax records, a label I have known and trusted for many years.  So maybe my hopes were a bit higher than they should have been or perhaps I just really had no idea what I was about to listen to, but I am absolutely not the target demographic for this record.

Gutter have that really slick sheen that I don't like on punk rock.  These guys sound like they're making a run to be on Equal Vision or one of those other labels that put out the sort of schmaltzy punk rock crooning that has never done anything for me.  It's not particularly dynamic and is really cookie cutter punk.  I could see it appealing to the younger folks that have taken over the Vinyl Collective message board, but it doesn't work for me.

I like my punk rock a little rougher around the edges,  I like things a bit catchier and I need to really feel like the band is excited about what they are doing.  Maybe the guys in Gutter love every one of these songs, but that enthusiasm just doesn't show through the recording.

Gutter- Rut 7":

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Go White Bronco - Population: Ghost Town LP


86'd (2016)

Doing the whole book by the cover thing, I thought I could have figured out what Go White Bronco probably sounded like.  It just looks like a hardcore record to me (or maybe a mid 90's midwestern band I suppose).  Needless to say, I was kind of taken aback to be presented with a two minute long acoustic instrumental to start the album.

Still, that was just the intro, so I braced myself for some blistering guitar noise.  Track two comes on and would you believe it's move acoustic guitar?  Though they threw me for a loop based on what I was expecting, Go White Bronco is more my speed than any loud shouty hardcore record would have been.  I won't go so far as to say that I love this or I expect to be listening to it on repeat, but it's actually pretty good.

This isn't singer songwriter nonsense, this is a full band playing passionate songs who just so happen to favor acoustic guitars to electric.  It's very rootsy in its approach, some might even tag it as Americana.  To me, it seems more rooted in the sort of folk protest songs of a time long gone.  The lyrics are serious, but try to paint an uplifting picture while still acknowledging the bad times.  Let's be honest, a lot of the records people send me I don't like all that much.  Those records don't make it to the collection, they get tossed after I've written the review.  There is a place in my collection for Go White Bronco, so take that recommendation for what it's worth.

Go White Bronco - Population: Ghost Town:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chandeli'ers - Breaker LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke / Dirt Cult (2016)

There are few labels that I trust more than Dirt Cult and Dead Broke.  When they unite their super powers on a single release, you can be pretty sure it's something special.  Chandeli'ers are following up a 12" EP with their first full length and it's a pretty solid offering.

Chandeli'ers may be a somewhat difficult name to have to type multiple times over the course of a review, but their music is the exact opposite.  Breaker is a collection of easy to listen to power pop hits, perfect for gatherings around a pitcher of iced tea in the backyard.  To me, their most kindred spirit is probably the band Nude Beach.  But Chandeli'ers are more liberal with their accompanying instrumentation, expertly introducing keyboards and brass into their songs.  In many ways they remind me of The Ballantynes in this regard.

Another place Chandeli'ers excel is with harmonies.  The alternating boy/girl vocals are great, but when they join up to sing together, that is when the magic really happens.  If you dig a good power pop record, Breaker is definitely worth giving a listen.

Chandeli'ers - Breaker:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jason Martin - Power Animal System Methods LP


Peter Walker (2016)

Every so often someone will send me a record to review and when I open it up, I'm just not sure what to make of it.  That was definitely my reaction when I received this Jason Martin LP.  Maybe I'm guilty of judging records by their cover from time to time, but when you present me with a dog in a power suit, I'm going to be grasping at what to expect.  The only thing I figured was that the record would probably be weird.

It doesn't disappoint in that regard.  Power Animal System Methods is definitely weird, but not really in a bad way.  It's assembled in a ramshackle sort of way that reminds me of the carefree indie rock days of the 90's.  Maybe Silver Jews meets Ween?  There's certainly some pretty decent pop songs on the album like "Wolf People" and "My Blank Pages."  Though there's also quite a few off kilter wacky songs with odd time signatures and kooky noises in the background.

It's not a bad record at all and at times it's pretty good for the sort of thiNG that Jason Martin seems to be going for.  I can't imagine it is something I would listen to all that often, but you certainly can't say it's boring.

Jason Martin - Power Animal System Methods:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Heavy Times - Black Sunglasses 7"


HoZac (2016)

After I wasn't really feeling the last 7" that Heavy Times released on Randy records, I decided to be a bit more judicious next time they had a record available to purchase.  I intended to try it out before blindly leaping into the next release as it is obvious the band is in the midst of a direction change.  However, since HoZac decided to send me a copy of this new 7" for review, they kind of made the decision for me, so here we go.

Starting off, you kind of feel like this band has been taken over by robots to some extent.  Opening track "Black Sunglasses," like much of their last 7", is single focused in its new wave, pseudo electronic delivery.  In particular, the vocals are completely monotone and devoid of emotion.  It seems intentional, but I kind of miss the chaos of their earlier records.  "City Lights" kind of follows the same path, pretty robotic and not really my thing.

Expecting more of the same, I flipped over to the B side but found a nice surprise waiting for me instead.  "Bad Brother" is very much a rocker, with catchy guitar riffs and the sort of camouflaged pop that I've always loved from Heavy Times. The good times continue with the final entry "Choked Up."  This is also a great song that's the most upbeat and hooky of the bunch.  There's some really cool dueling guitar interplay and the vocals are by far the most melodic.

All in all, this 7" is kind of a mixed bag.  I don't really dig either A side song very much, but the B side is back to back hits.  It's an interesting mix and I'm curious to see which direction Heavy Times heads in next.

Heavy Times - "Black Sunglasses":

Heavy Times - "Choked Up":

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Boilerman - Feel Ways About Stuff LP


86'd / All In Vinyl / Sad Punk / Waterslide (2016)

I've been lucky enough to have some familiarity with Boilerman prior to this album, though that's 100% because of this website and kind folks providing me with their records.  I'm appreciative of it, because I don't really think I would have given Boilerman much attention if left to my own devices.

Here's the thing with Boilerman, they're a really catchy band masquerading as a hardcore band.  If you casually jump through the songs on this record, you're mostly just going to hear loud, fast guitars and a singer with strep throat shouting incoherently.  However, if you really spend some time listening to everything you'll see the way the riffs are laid out and how the hooks are packed in just below the chaos.  They always remind me a little bit of the sort of things you'd find on Lookout during their early, more adventurous days.

I always feel like Boilerman is right on the cusp of being the sort of band that's right up my alley.  If they could just put the hooks a little closer to the surface, we'd be in business.  Still, Feel Ways About Stuff is definitely worth checking out, particular if you're more into hardcore-ish stuff than I am.

Boilerman - Feel Ways About Stuff:

Monday, July 18, 2016

V/A - Strength In Weakness LP - Black / Clear Split Color Vinyl


Lame-O (2015)

I don't buy nearly as many compilations as I did when I was younger.  I actually picked this one up quite some time ago, but have just been dragging my feet on reviewing it.  I had mostly bought it for the at the time unreleased Beach Slang song, Although I was also already familiar with Hurry and Spraynard.  Also, I should note that this is a benefit compilation and all proceeds from this album are going to United Cerebral Palsy.

Spraynard start things up with another one of their passionate, Iron Chic style punk rock offerings. "Haulin' Oats" is every bit as good as anything else they've released, so this is definitely not a throwaway.   Next up is The Weaks.  I've not heard of them before, but they really surprised me with their offering. "Call Me Away" is big and crunchy like the best kind of failed 1990's major label band.  Reminds me a bit of Fig Dish.  I really dig this song.  Modern Baseball fills out the last song on the A side.  This is a band I have heard of before, but never really listened to anything of theirs.  I'm not sure this song will be one to change my mind as it's kind of slow and boring.

Side B doesn't start off on the best foot.  "Old Joe" by a band called Marietta is pretty dull and unremarkable, just plodding along. Things pick up with "Shake It Off" a fantastic song by Hurry, though it is also on their most recent full length album as well.  Still a highlight for sure.  Finishing up is a fully acoustic version of the Beach Slag song "Too Late To Die Young."  It's really not too dissimilar from the version that ended up on their full length, though there's lots of extra static on the vocals on this compilation version.  It is a good song, but it's not really all that necessary if you have the Beach Slang album.

Still, this is a good little compilation for a great cause.  More than anything The Weaks song really blew me away, I'm going to have to look into those guys a bit more.

V/A - Strength in Weakness

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Broccoli - Home LP - Black Vinyl & Clear Vinyl (/100)


Drunken Sailor (2016, Reissue)

It is somewhat rare that I get to write about the records that have been most important to me over the years. Occasionally there will be a reissue or a wacky variant of some Rocket From The Crypt record that I have hunted down, but the records that are most important to me are usually ones that have been in my collection for many, many years. Home by Broccoli is one of these records. It is one of the best records I have ever heard in my entire life. You know those people that like to make those 'Desert Island Disc' lists where they talk about the records they couldn't live without. If I was so inclined to make a silly list like that, it would absolutely, one hundred percent have Home on it. This is one of my five favorite records of all time and I think you could make the argument that they may be one of the most overlooked bands that has ever been.

Sure, I will admit that's a lot of hyperbole for an opening paragraph, but I need you to understand how fundamentally important this record is for me. I started listening to Leatherface because of Broccoli, not the other way around like most folks. Granted, it wasn't this particular album that pushed me towards Leatherface, but Broccoli was already an influential band to me before they release Home in 1998. In 1997 my friend Alan and I went to England for a trip of record shopping and band watching. In addition to picking up a ton of Leatherface and Mega City Four records, we got to see some amazing bands like Chopper, Skimmer, Crocodile God and Starmarket. The other band we got to see was a pre-Home Broccoli opening up for Metroschifter in Leeds. Twenty years on, my memory of this show isn't quite as sharp as I would like, but considering the bomb that Broccoli dropped the following year with Home, I'm so grateful I had that chance to see them play, if only once.

Home is a once in a lifetime sort of record. Sure, you can hit on some easy to digest touchstones like that they are a melodic punk band with leanings towards raspy vocals and an obvious fondness for Leatherface. But is there anything I can write that can truly convey the hugeness of the hook in the song "Chestnut Road?" It's a hook so powerful a band from France named themselves after the song. Can I make you understand the way it makes me feel when that the guitar distortion kicks in right before the chorus of "I Am A Robot?" Are there even words in the English language that can describe how much I just fucking love every single second of "R.S.V.P.?" We're only though the 4th track on this beast of an album and already I feel like my vocabulary is painfully inadequate to try to make you understand just how important this record is to me.

Home has been out of print for years. The label that originally put it out, Rugger Bugger, called it a day many moons ago. Broccoli broke up not too long after this record came out. This is the record that should have made Broccoli one of the most loved and respected bands in the world, but for whatever reason it just didn't pan out that way. Drunken Sailor should be commended for stepping up and bringing this record back to the world.

Home should quite simply be a mandatory addition to anyone's record collection that even remotely likes this sort of punk rock. Yeah, they're better than Jawbreaker and every bit as good as Leatherface. I'll say it and you will never convince me otherwise. Broccoli has also announced that they are getting back together for a tour of Japan. I don't know if that will ever lead anywhere,. I don't know if we'll ever get more shows or another record, but it gives me just a bit of hope that perhaps others will have a chance to experience what Broccoli did for me 20 some odd years ago. Go buy this record right now and if you happen to have their two demo tapes or a Broccoli T-shirt, please email me and sell them to me.

Broccoli - Home:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Eddie Mooney And The Grave - I Bought Three Eggs 7"


Still Unbeatable (2014, Reissue)

I've been getting way more records than usual sent to me to review lately.  Granted, that just means a trickle instead of a drip, but It's been a nice way to pad out the lean summer months.  It's especially great when I like the record that's sent to me.

I will be the first to admit that I'm painfully out of touch with the late 70's/early 80's power pop scene.  I know there's all sorts of interesting bands with obscuro one-off singles that people covet like crazy.  I have plenty of records to buy without diving headfirst into that, but if something is just dropped in my lap, I'm more than happy to take a listen.  This 7" is a reissue of 1978 7" that, according to the liner notes, was released right as the label died so very few actually made it into the world.

Well, I'm pretty please that Still Unbeatable records decided to rerelease this one as both of these songs are fun slices of power pop perfection.  Rapidly strummed, jangly guitar mixes with minimal, but cutting lead guitar and super catchy vocals.  I probably prefer "I Bought Three Eggs" of the two, but "Zombie" is no slouch either.  

I really dig this 7" and it's funny to think how unlikely it is that I would have ever heard these songs if it wasn't sent to me to review. I guess that's a reason to encourage folks to keep sending in records.  This one is great, go buy it right away.

Eddie Mooney And The Grave - I Bought Three Eggs 7":

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Basketball Shorts - Hot And Ready LP - Clear w/ Blue Vinyl


Fleeting Youth (2016)

This record is a perplexing one to write about.  On the surface it's a fast, fun and catchy record, so my natural inclination is to like it.  But when I really sit and listen to it, as opposed to just having it play in the background, there are things that I don't like that really start to stand out.

To start, these guys really sound like The Marked Men.  I mean they REALLY sound like The Marked Men.  Considering that I bought this album based on the fact that they were compared to The Marked Men, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to be annoyed that I think they sound too much like The Marked Men, but it's a bit excessive over the course of this album.  A few of the songs have a little bit of a Mean Jeans lean to them, but as a whole these guys really deliver the sound comparison that's been advertised.

The other thing that doesn't work for me is the lyrics.  I'm not really a big lyrics guy.  I usually only notice them when they are either really great or really bad.  I'm not sure if Basketball Shorts qualify as being really bad, but they're silly enough that I take notice, and not really in a good way.  Whether it's ""With knife in hand, I'll make you understand" or "When you don't scream out my name, it's such a shame" or the entire songs written about Home Alone or Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump, it's all just a bit much for me at times.

But again, I'm torn because there are some genuine toe tappers on this LP.  Even while writing this review, I had the album playing in the background and when I'm not over examining it, I catch myself nodding along to the big hooks and crunchy guitars.  Maybe this is one of those records that will grow on my the more I play it.  Maybe I'll end up being extra annoyed after a while.  I't hard to tell right now, but I can say that I this record is absolutely worth giving a play on Bandcamp. Maybe you won't mind the few things on the record that are bugging me.

Basketball Shorts - Hot And Ready: