Friday, April 18, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Monday, March 31, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Monday, March 24, 2014
Sacred Bones (2014)
I find there to be something fascinating about The Men. The way they soldier on and change up their sound from record to record despite the pained cries of protest from the fans of their earlier releases is really remarkable. Whenever a new record by The Men comes out, I always see threads on vinyl collecting message boards about how "the new album totally sucks, man." It seams like The Men just don't care. And more power to them.
Tomorrow's Hits really elevates their game. While I still like the energy of their 2012 release Open Your Heart a bit more than the Springsteen style classic rock stylings of Tomorrow's Hits, I think it's worlds better than their last album New Moon. I found New Moon kind of disappointing, enough so that I didn't preorder the wacky, fancy version of the new record. Though I'm still OK with the fact that I don't have the expensive variant, I ended up liking Tomorrow's Hits way more than I expected.
The band is finding new ways to build their songs off of somewhat simple guitar riffs. It starts with a riff, that riff is repeated, but then the band layers dynamic rhythm, lead guitar background noodling, lead guitar solos, horns, catchy vocals, the list goes on. The songs come off seeming just crammed full of layers, but the original riff that everything is built on anchors the song so that all the other components don't steer the song into something absurd. In particular "Dark Waltz," Another Night" and "Pearly Gates" really exemplify this.
Despite the Men constantly reinventing themselves, they've managed to become a band I can count on. Even though New Moon wasn't my favorite record of theirs, they've come back and proven that they can take their music in new directions and still put out a great record.
The Men - "Pearly Gates":
Friday, March 21, 2014
Though it is self titled, this is actually the 2nd Missing Monuments full length album, the first having come out on Douchemaster back in 2011 (Does anyone know what happened to that label? Are they gone forever?). While I did enjoy that first record, this second one is such gigantic leap forward in quality it's pretty amazing. While the first had quite a few great songs, this one is just wall to wall hits.
Missing Monuments have always had something of a gritty southern flair to them, but they've managed to tie it in with their power pop in a way that creates a distinct sound that separates them from the pack, but manages not to take away from the poppy hooks and great melodies. There's probably a few more guitar solos than I typically like, but it's not like the record is full of endless indulgent wanking. The solos are there, but they are short, sweet and punchy.
"Answer The Call" is just a stellar album opener and really sets the stage for what's to come. The non-Louie fronted "Another Girl" packs a hell of a pop punch. And it's hard not to love a song like "Super Hero" that manages to work the line "You've got queso on your face-o" into the chorus. All in all, this is just a great album. It's by far the best Missing Monuments release to date and proves once again that if there's a label you can trust, it's Dirtnap.
Missing Monuments - S/T:
Thursday, March 20, 2014
It's funny, I thought I had all of the Corduroy singles. In fact, I thought I had this one, but not only was I missing the Overhauls 7", there's 2 other 7"s I don't have that I'm going to have to pick up. See kids, I didn't have the internet back then and it used to be tougher to keep track of all of the records bands released. I'm old.
And this 7" sounds old, but in the best possible way. It's wonderful 90's rock. Corduroy have a dash of the Bay Area punk rock sound, but they lean a bit more towards raspy vocal 'alternative rock' than some of their peers. The A-side "Overhauls" has big fuzzy guitar riffs, a gigantic punchy chorus and stomp-on-the-floor overdriven guitar solos/breakdown.
The B-side "GE" takes it down a notch with borderline sludgy bass and palm muted guitar. The muffled, distorted vocals are just audible during the verse that lead into the chorus. I think it's the chorus anyway, it's mostly just a loud chaotic blast of noise with a few random shouts here and there that is sandwiched between the verses. It reminds me of a noisier version of some of the weirder Pavement songs.
I love these old 90's 7" bands. Corduroy, Jolt...the bands that never ended up doing a full length. Well, I won't let them be forgotten, even if I forgot to get 2 of their other 7"s. Discogs, don't fail me now...
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Snuffy Smiles (2013)
The greatest record label in the world still lives. 20+ years later and they manage to blow me away once again with a new band. Well, a new to me band anyway as it looks like Sanhose put out a full length in 2012 that I must immediately hunt down.
Like the greatest Snuffy Smiles releases, Sanhose is fast, catchy, loud guitar rock. They have just the slightest garage influence as far as production goes, but in general they are much more in line with some of the mid 90's records that Snuffy Smiles released. If you think of bands like Blew or Cigaretteman (minus the female vocals) you're probably on the right track.
All four songs are equally amazing. This 7" is a total throwback to the golden age of Japanese pop punk bands, complete with the rad 90's lead guitar in the breaks. It is just such a fun 7" to listen to and I will absolutely be picking up their full length CD as soon as possible.
Sanhose - Parada (All I could find online is this 1 minute commercial type thing):
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Cassette Deck (2012)
As 2014 has been pretty slow with new releases so far, I've been able to tackle a lot of the backlog that's been building up over the last few months. This 7" goes all the way back to my September trip to Chicago.
The Brokedowns are kind of your run of the mill gritty vocal punk band. Nothing really all that special, but certainly better than a lot of bands as well. Their first song is loud, fast, angry and short. There's not much time for it to really develop into anything. The 2nd & 3rd songs are called "Beast Resources IV" and "Beast Resources V." As the names would lead you to suspect, they are kind of linked together. They are both significantly more dynamic than the first song, though there still is quite a bit of shouting going on in the chorus of "IV." "Beast Resources V" is probably the best song on their side of this 7", in large part because The Brokedowns slow things down a bit.
Wide Angles are one of the better bands I've heard over the last few years. Their other 7"s and especially their full length, Smile More, are just essential. The songs on this split are just as good as anything else they released during their short time together. Significantly more melodic than The Brokedowns, Wide Angles really understand how to craft an energetic, serious punk rock song. With this seriousness, the still manage to cram tons of hooks into their songs. A great band that I truly wish hadn't decided to split up.
Wide Angles - "Painted In":
Monday, March 17, 2014
Jukebox Records set up a singles series last year, limited to 300 copies for each record. It's another example of the time honored tradition of subscribing and then you get some records every once in a while. I do love me a good singles club, but based on the bands that were going to participate, I couldn't justify pulling the trigger. Lucky for me, the one record that I did want to make sure I got a copy of ended up for sale by itself on the Recess Records website.
This Toys That Kill 7" is solid, but unremarkable. It has one original (which was already released on their last album) and 3 cover songs. 2 of the cover songs are by the band Warsaw, an early incarnation of Joy Division (I had to look that up, I am not well versed on Joy Division at all) the 3rd cover is an Adam Ant tune.
All 3 covers are OK, when filtered through the Toys That Kill lens they do fit in with the band's catalog someone, but they just can't shake the stigma of really, truly just sounding like extra songs earmarked for B-sides. It's a good enough record to add to the collection, and I like the idea of jukebox singles, but there's nothing on here that's essential.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Samiam - Whatever's Got You Down LP - Clouds In The Sky Vinyl, a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
No Idea (2013, Reissue)
As loyal readers of this website probably know, I've been on a quest to reclaim some older bands from the 90's that for one reason or another just didn't click with me back then. Seaweed and Jawbox have been the most impactful of these bands, but right on their heels is Samiam. As stated in another Samiam review I wrote, I am going through their discography completely out of order, so I'm getting snapshots of the band at different stages of their career.
Whatever's Got You Down originally came out in 2006, apparently to some mixed opinions. I will have to say, I'm not familiar with that initial release of the album, but it seems that many people have very strong feelings about the production of the record and it's effect on the songs. Well, No Idea jumped into the fray and re-released the record with a completely redone mix. Again, I can't compare it to the original, but I think this record sounds great.
The guitars are full and crunchy, the vocals are clear and the songs all have a great energy to them. There's definitely some aspects of later Samiam records that do remind me an awful lot of Knapsack. Maybe not in the vocals so much, but certainly in the way some of the song structures are set up. Probably not surprising as guitarist Sergie Loobkoff has done time in both bands. Still, this is a very strong album and if the production really was that bad on the original release, it's definitely worth checking out this reissue as everything sounds peachy to me.
I really wish I had been keeping up with Samiam all these years. It's fun having a band that has such a lage amount of records to go out and get all at once, but it can be a bit overwhelming. Thus far it's only been their debut self titled release that hasn't really clicked with me. Every other Samiam record I've heard has been great. And I still have more to go.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full of Blues LP - 2014 Reissue, a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Friday Music (2014, Reissue)
Briefcase Full Of Blues by The Blues Brothers is arguably the most important record that was ever released in the history of the Earth. Well, in my world anyway. I was probably only 3 years old when I got a copy of this record for the first time in 1979 or 1980. It was my first favorite record, my first favorite band and The Blues Brothers was my first and only favorite movie. I've been living with this album for over 30 years, so when I read that a fancy reissue was on the way, I immediately pre-ordered it, despite a pretty hefty price tag.
I have little to say about the music on the record, some of my favorite songs I've ever heard. It's simply a timeless classic. If you don't have this record, it's an essential addition to any collection. What I want to talk more about is the quality of the actual reissue pressing.
If you go to Amazon right now, this reissue will set you back $30. Thirty dollars! When it was first announced I figured they had to be doing an expanded version of the record, a 2 LP set with unreleased songs or something. Nope, it's the same single LP record it's always been, so no new music. As far as the sound, it sounds great. It's probably the best this record has ever sounded. The music is clear, the vocals are crisp and even the crowd noise sounds better. I don't know that I would call it a revelatory experience or anything, while it sounds great it certainly didn't change how I already felt about the record.
The pressing is 180 gram vinyl, they've remastered everything from the original tapes, the artwork looks like it was cleaned up a bit. It's a good presentation, but I do think Friday Music completely dropped the ball by not using the old red, white & green Atlantic records label on the actual record. That label is so iconic and so much a part of this record that it's jarring to me to not see it on the turntable. Odd choice when so much was done to keep this faithful to the original pressing.
I guess at the end of the day I'll say this. If you don't have this record, you should add it to your collection. It's not going to sound any better than it does on this pressing. But, I think $30 is way too much for a single LP and you can probably find a good condition original pressing for a third of the price of this. I guess ultimately you'll have to decide how important a brand new record is to you vs. a used one.
The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues:
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Off With Their Heads / Morning Glory - Split 7" - Black Vinyl (/200), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Fat Wreck (2013)
I don't like all of the records Fat Wreck puts out, but over the years they've ended up with quite a few bands on their roster that I enjoy. Considering the mad scramble on their site that usually occurs when their limited colored vinyl variants go on sale, I've been pretty lucky over the years and I've been able to grab most of the records I wanted. For this split 7", it was actually the black vinyl version that was the most rare at only 200 copies, so of course that's the version I had to buy.
I do have a lot of Off With Their Heads 7"s. Seriously, I have a ton of these. I wouldn't call the songs on their side of this split essential, but they're pretty good. The first is a redone version of a song off their album Home called "Always Alone," though on this 7" it's called "Alone Again." It's kind of an acoustic take on the original, but not totally acoustic. It's good, but I like the original better. Their 2nd song is a Morning Glory cover; "Care Of Me." Not being familiar with the original I can't compare and contrast, but it's another OK song. Not bad, but nothing that really stands out.
The Morning Glory side of the record is a cover of the OWTH song "Nationality Anthem." This is pretty terrible. Their take on it turns it into something that sounds like one of those old late 80's early 90's skate punk bands. It just sounds weird to me.
It's a cool 7" that they were able to sell when they were on tour together. It's a record I need to keep my Off With Their Heads collection complete. However, It isn't something I see myself listening to particularly often.
Off With Their Heads - Care Of Me:
Morning Glory - Nationality Anthem:
Monday, March 10, 2014
Matador records is still finishing up their 2013 singles series and after this Coho Lips 7" I believe there are only 2 more coming. I'm curious to see how those last singles shake out as this series is one that I've found inconsistent at the best of times.
I'm going to be very upfront about this 7". I do not have much to say about it because I don't think I have a strong enough knowledge base about this sort of thing. Oh don't get me wrong, I heard plenty of records like this when I worked in music doing radio promotion, but I always just tuned it out and couldn't tell you the difference between any of the bands putting out this kind of record.
Coho Lips are playing a slow, ambient kind of electronica with off time "drum" noises and atmospheric sound effects. The wispy vocals have almost no impact and are content to just meander through the song with the rest of the other noises that don't seem to have much direction. I have an appreciation for an awful lot of music, but this is the sort of thing that my brain just cannot process. Call me dumb, I just need more structure in my songs.
Coho Lips - Less of Everything:
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Heavy Times - No Plans 7" - Gold Vinyl, Alt Cover (/200), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
So this is a weird one. I was reorganizing my 7"s the other day and while I was filing recent purchases into the main vault I found this 7". I bought this way back in 2010 but never reviewed it on this site. Best I can tell, I'm not even sure I ever listened to it. A very odd situation for sure, but I'll rectify that today.
Those familiar with Chicago's Heavy Times are probably aware of their stomp rocking squall. They're a band that funnels a tremendous amount of energy into their songs. Well, that wall of sound is not representative on the 2 songs from this 7" at all. I'm not saying that as a criticism or a compliment, this 7" is just a different beast altogether, but I like it.
The A-side "No Plans" is an economic, simple song. Just a voice and a guitar. There's is the slightest touch of reverb on the vocals and that's combined with a repeating, gently plucked, descending guitar riff. It's very basic and stripped down, but it's a great song, The B-side is a bit more robust with a full compliment of backing instruments. Again, it's much more subdued than anything on either of the two Heavy Times full lengths and shows a calmer band, but one that can still put together a hell of a tune.
I have no clue how this 7" got lost in my collection, but I'm lucky that it came back to the surface. Would have been a shame to miss it completely.
Heavy Times - "No Plans"
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Sick Scene / Boss Tuneage / Note To Self / Waterslide / Le Syndrone de Galilee (2013)
That's a whole lot of labels to be involved releasing one 7" record, but it's something I've seen more and more lately. I assume part of it is to defray the rising cost of putting out a record, but in some instances it has to be because of the amazing music contained on the record. I'll say this, someone needs to let me know what I have to do to get the PopKid logo on the back of the next Chestnut Road album, because they are quickly becoming one of my current favorite bands.
But let's start out with the other band on this split, Varsity Drag. I wasn't familiar with them and honestly I would have bought this 7" no matter who was the other band on here with Chestnut Road. Varsity Drag is fronted by Ben Deily, who was in The Lemonheads for their first few albums. There are 2 originals and a cover. The originals are both pretty good. Musically, they're upbeat and catchy with climbing guitar riffs and big hooks. Vocally, I don't think they're quite as strong, but these 2 originals are good enough to make me want to seek out more from the band. The 3rd song is a cover of a band called The Dark Matter. I don't know the original, but this cover is pretty terrible. 2 out of 3 ain't bad.
Chestnut Road can do little wrong as they continue to put their Broccoli/Hooton 3 Car inspired stamp on everything they've released. They also have 2 originals and a cover. The 2 originals are on par with any of the classics from their full length last year. They're such a dynamic band, cramming so much depth and excitement into their songs. Even the cover song, appropriately an song from The Lemonheads catalog, is certainly not phoned in. Chestnut Road really make it their own and it could easily be mistaken for one of their own.
I don't care if their next record has to be co-released by 100 labels, please keep filling this world with more Chestnut Road releases.
Varsity Drag Side:
Chestnut Road Side:
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
When someone trusts my opinion in music enough to send me a full length LP to review, it's a pretty nice feeling. When that LP is actually good, it's even better. Vesuvio Nights is Adam Widener's debut full length and it's full of the foot-tapping power pop he's been putting out on his recent 7"s.
The other band that immediately comes to mind when listening to Adam Widener is the Italian band Love Boat. I see big similarities in their vocals with their high pitched, slightly distorted up and down delivery. but while Love Boat is more know for straight ahead fast paced pop, Widener shows a bit more range and diversity.
Admittedly, some of the diversity doesn't hit as strongly for me. There's a couple oddly timed, stuttering song with stop/start guitar riffs like "Telephone Traps" and "Crystal Caskets" that are not quite as successful as some of the other songs on the album. But when Widener aims for the pop hit, that's where the real successes of this album are. Particularly strong are "Pools Of Light," "Average People In An Average World" and "Gentle Swarm."
In total Vesuvio Nights is a strong collection of songs for Adam Widener and a great debut album. Every release I've heard of his has gotten progressively better. If this trend continues, there's some great songs on the horizon.
Adam Widener - Vesuvio Nights LP:
Monday, March 3, 2014
This may be a somewhat long and meandering review, so I do apologize for that right off the bat. For a quick synopsis; I really like this record and while I think some may interpret the criticisms I have for it as dislike, it's only because I probably judge Beck a bit more harshly than I should. His early records were so impactful on me as a younger man that I still hold him to an impossibly high standard.
This past Saturday, March 1st 2014 marked 20 years to the day that Beck's DGC debut Mellow Gold was released. I was a junior in high school and that record just hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was a guy that was on a major label and putting out a record that was so off the wall it couldn't have been any other time but the 90's. That run of records Beck put out in 1994 (Mellow Gold, Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot In The Grave) put me in a totally different space musically than I had ever been in before.
He single-handedly blew open the entire Pacific Northwest scene for me as Beck was directly responsible for me getting into Lync, Built To Spill, Beat Happening, Unwound, Karp, godheadSilo and many, many more. He never caputured that lightning in a bottle again for me. I was even a bit disappointed in Odelay, but I've kept coming back album after album; year after year.
Beck has changed a lot in 20 years and I guess I just haven't changed as much as he has. What I loved most about those early Beck records is the relaxed attitude of the recording. Hell, he coughs in the middle of the song "Outcome" on One Foot In The Grave. Since then, Beck has become a meticulous studio musician. Often times, I think, to his detrement. In my opinion he has a bad habit of overproducing.
Morning Phase (yes I'm finally getting to the new album) suffers from this over production. The songs on this record are great. Flat out great. Well written, serious songs. But, I think they lose a lot of their impact as Beck crams too much atmospheric ambiance, multitracked vocals and other unneeded sound effects into ever square inch of each song. If the production was stripped down, if the songs were given a bit more room to breathe, Morning Phase would be a complete different, but equally revelatory album.
Don't get me wrong, In general I prefer somber, serious Beck to kind of rapper Beck, but I just miss the spontaneity of his 90's work. I just believed in it more. But again, like its spiritual brother Sea Change, Morning Phase is a truly great album. While Beck has grown up a lot more than I have, it is comforting that 20 years later he's still here for me. He's still putting out records and I'm still buying them. But would it kill him to just sit in front of a microphone with an acoustic guitar and hit the record button once in a while?
Friday, February 28, 2014
Steve Adamyk Band - High Above 7" - Black Vinyl & Orange Vinyl (/150), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Wrapping up my week of La-Ti-Da singles with my favorite of the bunch and one of my absolute favorite current bands. The Steve Adamyk Band can almost do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, but despite my lofty standards for them, they still manage to blow the doors off of this record.
This is a band that has put out quite a few great 7"s in the last year or so. High Above is the best of the bunch. The 2 originals on the 7" are instant classics. Fast, full of energy and the hooks this band churns out are just insane. In particular "High Above" is yet more proof that no band can write choruses as catchy as these guys. But for me, the main event is the 3rd song, an unsuspecting cover song that I imagine most people outside of Canada probably have never even heard of before.
"A Promise Is A Promise" is one of my favorite songs of all time. It was written by a Canadian band called Bum. It was first released on a 7" in 1991 that came out on Lance Rock Records. It also ended up on the full length album Wanna Smash Sensation. That record came out in 1993 on Pop Llama/Munster records. Wanna Smash Sensation is easily in my top 10 records of all time. They never amassed the biggest following in America from what I could tell, but there were a group of us in New Jersey that really loved this band. Just go buy Wanna Smash Sensation, please.
The Steve Adamyk Band take on the song is just perfect. Don't fix what isn't broken. The band plows through it full speed ahead, picking out all of the buried lead guitar parts & background harmonies. They also brought in some guest vocals from one Chris Page. Chris fronted The Stand GT many moons ago and is still cranking out hits both solo and with his other great band Camp Radio.
There are rumors of a Dirtnap Records showcase in NYC this year. One would think that Steve Adamyk Band might play that show as they have NEVER come to the NYC area. All I'm saying is it would be pretty great if they pulled out A Promise Is A Promise while they were playing. I never got to see Bum play. But anyway, go get this 7", it's great!
Steve Adamyk Band - High Above 7":
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Needles // Pins - Outta This Place 7" - Clear Vinyl (/150), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Outta This Place is the Needles//Pins entry into the La-Ti-Da singles subscription, and if you're getting the feeling I'm saving my absolute favorites for last, you'd be right. I truly believe that Needles//Pins are the Canadian all star team. Not because of the individual folks in the group; but because they manage to harness the best parts of some of my favorite bands into their songs.
For starters, I can't fathom you not liking Needles//Pins if you don't like Mother's Children as the bravado they take to their songs strikes me as being very similar. Do you like your pop music with straightforward hooks and a slight retro vibe like something the White Wires might do? Well, all you need is one listen to the B-Side "Date Night (You Bring The Napalm)." Wrap all of this up in a high energy, crunchy guitar sound not too dissimilar from The Steve Adamyk Band or Sonic Avenues and you've got a band that has really cranked out some great records over the past few years.
It's really a must have 7", and La-Ti-Da also just reissued the band's debut full length from a couple of years ago, so you'd be a fool to not grab that as well while you're at it.
Needles // Pins - Outta This Place 7":
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I decided that I'll spend the rest of this week catching up on the remaining La-Ti-Da singles subscription releases I've recently received. Today's entry comes from a band called the Wild Ones. I wasn't familiar with them prior to hearing this 7" and I don't know that they would have ended up on my radar otherwise. But that is what I love best about signing up for a series of singles. It's the surprises and discoveries that keep me coming back. Even if I've been burned by some labels that just never fulfilled what I subscribed for, I'll probably always be a sucker and come back for more. I just love the discovery process.
The Wild Ones immediately remind me of the old Douchemaster band The Baby Shakes. They play a similar jangley, 60's girl group influenced style of guitar pop. The songs are infectious and the vocals are so much stronger than what you'll get out of your run of the mill garage band. The first song, "Day Drunk" is a faster, carefree track that really harnesses the bands energy. It's an immediate attention grabber and I can't think of a better first song to hear by a band.
The B-side, Come Around, slows things down a bit, but really captures that 60's style song of yearning better than anything I've heard in quite some time. La-Ti-Da is becoming particularly adept at finding bands who can cull the sounds of 50 years ago; but present them in a fresh and exciting way that holds up with anything being released in 2014. I wish them continued success in this endeavor and offer more money flung at them for future singles subscriptions.
The Wild Ones - Day Drunk 7":
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Jay Vons - Night (Was Stealing From The Sun) 7", a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Part of the 2013 La-Ti-Da singles subscription, The Jay Vons seem to be coming from a similar place as their equally fantastic label mates The Ballantynes. The Jay Vons are playing organ laced, 60's style soul. They have a real attention to detail when it comes to production as both songs sound less "retro" and more like an actual product of the time frame that they obviously have a great affection for. I've thought for a long time that old soul music was ripe for a renaissance and it's great to see La-ti-Da leading the charge.
The one thing I find confusing is that the record I received was on black vinyl. I thought as part of the La-T-Da singles subscription, I was supposed to get a limited colored vinyl variant, but I'm wondering if that ended up not happening as I couldn't find a reference to what color it was supposed to be anywhere on the La-Ti-Da website. If anyone out there knows if there is another version of this 7" floating around, please let me know.
The Jay Vons - Night (Was Stealing From The Sun) 7":
Friday, February 21, 2014
This album was released in on Bandcamp in December of 2013, but it looks like the vinyl wasn't out until January. This means you can file Roland 1 of 2 ways. It's either one of the best records so far of 2014 or it's an early contender for the best record of last year that I missed. For the sake of year-end lists, I'm going to call this a 2014 release.
Minutes is a band from Michigan that is carrying on indie rock traditions of the 90's with much success. Though the album starts off kind of slow, once it hits; it really hits. You might want to dismiss them during the lead song "Get Off Your Ass." A slower, darker song that would really make you want to lump these guys in with the slacker movement of 20 years ago. Things aren't a lot better on the 2nd track "Stolen Wallet." While neither are bad songs, they don't make the band seem like anything special.
Once you get to the third song, "Against Your Will," that is where the album really starts to pick up. From there the band starts showing their mastery of the genre. Some songs have a Pavement pop feel to it. Others have the crashing energy of Vee Vee era Archers of Loaf. And more often than not, you can hear Minutes channeling the melodies and excitement of The Dismemberment Plan, without all the goofy, pretentious sound effects. It's such a great album that I absolutely must find their out of print first LP. It just needs to be in my collection immediately.
Roland is absolute one of the best records I've heard so far this year, even if it's not officially a 2014 release. This year is not starting off nearly as packed with good records as 2013 did, so now is a good time to go check out this album, like me, you might have missed it.
Minutes - Roland LP:
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Flying Kangaroo Alliance - Hit The Wall 7" - Clear Splatter Vinyl, a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Punk Fox (2013)
I've mentioned before that I don't get sent records for review very often (feel free to fix that and send me some) so when I do, I really take my time and listen very carefully before I pop something up on this site. Especially if I'm not really a huge fan of the record. Case in point is this Flying Kangaroo Alliance 7".
I've had this 7" for a few months and I've been trying to articulate exactly how I feel about it. I don't hate it, it's certainly no the worst thing I've ever heard, but there's something that just sounds so dated to me. Flying Kangaroo Alliance is a female fronted band that at best I can describe as a 90's grunge tribute. The singer slips into that Sleater-Kinney warble that I've never been a huge fan of and the music is total 90's start/stop guitar verse with a slightly faster chorus.
You can name drop a who's who of 90's female rock bands; Garbage, Hole, Veruca Salt...there are bits and pieces of all of these bands in the 2 songs on this 7". Like I said, it's OK, I would rather listen to 90's knock off bands than a lot of other things these folks could be doing, but it's not something I would anticipate going back to very often.
And lastly, if you're a record label, don't send out a one sheet talking about how punk rock your label is because you don't have a website or a Facebook or whatever. If you don't want to have one, fine, but that shouldn't be some sort of bizarre selling point. It just comes off as being really goofy.
Flying Kangaroo Alliance - Hit The Wall:
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Boat - 50 Sweaty Boat Fans Can't Be Wrong LP (/200), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Hail The Sound (2013)
This was a bonus LP bundled with the first 200 pre-orders of the vinyl release of the Boat album Songs That You Might Not Like. It gathers some demos and rarities that the band recorded in 2004. After listening to the album a few times, it's pretty obvious why these recordings were shelved for so long. While the band shows flashes of brilliance, in general the songs are lacking the punch that Boat was able to harness on later recordings.
The thing that really stands out to me about these songs are the bands heavy reliance on keyboards sprinkled throughout their songs. While it adds to some, it kind of stamps certain songs definitely as rough demos. A lot of the album reminds me of some of the deeper cuts on mid era Pavement albums, where the band sounds a little tinny and the vocals are a bit distorted.
There's 15 songs on the album, so it is an enjoyable listen overall. But the LP also comes with a digital download containing even more tracks; 28 in total. It's a lot of Boat demos to get through in one sitting. I'm glad the band emptied the vault for this record, it was a great bonus to come along with the Songs That You Might Not Like LP, but I probably won't get as many listens out of this record as I will with the rest of the band's albums.
Boat - 50 Sweaty Boat Fans Can't Be Wrong:
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
I stumbled across the band Boat via their 2011 LP, Dress Like Your Idols. I was immediately taken by their unabashed 90's indie rock throwback vibe. While that is a theme that has become more common over the past 3 years, Boat was on the forefront as far as I was concerned. They had been kicking around for years beforehand, but I haven't really explored their back catalog as much as I'd like.
However, when it was anounced that their 2006 debut was finally being released on vinyl with an entire 2nd LP of rarities, I figured now was as good a time as any. We'll deal with the rarities LP tomorrow, but for today I'll focus on the first Boat full length Songs That You Might Not Like. Hearing this made me really wish I had been on board right from the get go in 2006. It's a very strong LP of loose, upbeat Pavement style indie rock. Not as pretentious as Malkmus can be, but really embracing the laid back ease of their rock.
It's not quite as good as either of their more recent LPs. The production is a little too scrappy and the songs could benefit from a slight amount of tightening, but as a debut or a launching pad for what this band went on to achieve, it's a pretty spectacular start. There are 2 more Boat albums missing from my collection, Hopefully the 1 that isn't on vinyl yet gets the same type of reissue treatment that Boat's debut has received. I'll have a quick write up about the companion LP that came with Songs That You Might Not Like tomorrow.
Boat - Songs That You Might Not Like (4 Song Sampler):
Monday, February 17, 2014
As I've stated previously on this website, I missed the boat on some bands in the 90's. Be it due to sheer ignorance or an over abundance of amazing music that no one could possibly keep up with, there are bands that slipped through the cracks for me. One of those bands that I'm desperately trying to catch up with is Jawbox.
Novelty came out in 1992. That's 22 years ago, yet it still sounds like a fresh exciting album. One thing I did not give Jawbox enough credit for when I was younger was their ability to write a catchy song. The band is masterful at building tension in a verse until it explodes into a spectacular chorus. I just couldn't see the melody over what I perceived as a much gruffer exterior. Though looking at the band with fresh eyes, I can only assume that I was probably judging them mostly on some sketchy songs I had heard on compilation albums.
Novelty is a spectacular album, it's not as polished as For Your Own Special Sweetheart, but I've always been one who likes my production a little rougher around the edges. This is the 2nd Jawbox album that has been a total home run for me. Now it's time to really flesh out the rest of their albums & singles as I've decided that my collection needs a complete Jawbox discography.
Jawbox - Novelty:
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Rocket From The Crypt - Boychucker 7" - A's & B's Label Variant, a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
I have a lot of Rocket From The Crypt records. No seriously, I mean a LOT. But, I never seem to be able to have all of them. The labels that they were involved with released so many wacky variants over the years that I feel like I will never get them all (Sell me your red vinyl Pure Genius 7" Norm!!!).
Case in point is this Boychucker 7". I have bought this over and over and over. I have 4 different copies of the picture disc version and now I have 6 copies of the black vinyl version, all with different labels on the record. This last one is actually one of the easier variants to find, but for some reason it just never made it's way into the collection as I was always prioritizing other things. Then one day, I just stopped seeing it. Luckily it popped up again and I can continue my march towards a complete RFTC collection.
Oh, and the song Boychucker is one of my top 5 Rocket songs ever.
Rocket From The Crypt - Boychucker:
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
I had been waiting for new Deltron 3030 record for such a long time, but I was getting nervous as its release date approached as I read review after review on how this album was a let down and how this was a problem and that was a problem. I went in with tempered expectations. Having listened to this album many times at this point I can honestly say I have no idea what record all of those other reviewers were listing to; this album is outstanding.
The first Del The Funky Homosapien album, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, came out when I was in the 8th grade in 1991. I loved that album from day 1, but it was 1993's No Need For Alarm that permanently entrenched Del as my all time favorite hip hop artist. Everything I love about Del is on display on this record. His absurdly complex lyrics and rhyme structures, his over the top delivery and the fact that listening to him execute a song just makes almost every one else look like a bunch of amateurs. Del has a way of standing head and shoulders above the rest.
Others have remarked that they find this album too dark and they like when Del is more fun and jokey. Well I completely disagree and think Del & Dan The Automator have constructed a rich, deep world that their characters inhabit. Sure it's not all fun and games, but very few things are. The beats that Dan churns out are every bit as good as the first album, with dark bass and an old sci fi movie futuristic vibe throughout.
It's a fantastic album start to finish and I have no idea why so many others have been lukewarm or even down on this record. As someone who has been listening to Del for 23 years now, I can say there's not a moment on this record I feel like I've been let down or that Deltron 3030 hasn't delivered. It's just great.
Deltron 3030 - Event 2 (Several songs on their SoundCloud page):
Friday, February 7, 2014
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues LP - Blue Vinyl (/1000), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.
Total Treble (2014)
I like all of the Against Me albums. Every single one of them, but even I will admit that the last couple seemed to be a bit lacking in the intensity department. I blame it on the glossy production values of New Wave and White Crosses (though the release of the Black Crosses version of the latter album corrected a lot of the issues I had with that record). While the songs were always there, Against Me sounds best a little rougher around the edges. It just lets the passion shine though.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a step back in the right direction. The glossy sterile recording is gone, but this is far from a lo fi affair. It's just perfectly produced with full guitars and clean vocals, but none of the angst lost to the sheen of knob fiddling. Plus the songs; oh these songs. There is a fury in this album that's been missing for a while. Right from the rolling drum roll intro of the first track "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" it's immediately apparent that Against Me is back.
Incredible song after incredible song follow like "True Trans Soul Rebel" (A full band version infinitely better than the acoustic version released on a prior 7"), "Drinking With The Jocks," and "Dead Friend." As the name of the song may insinuate, things do get a little heavy handed on the song "Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ" but it's a rare misstep on this otherwise stellar album.
Against Me - Transgender Dysphoria Blues:
Against Me - Drinking With The Jocks: