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:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Plow United - Three LP - Red & Beige Vinyl (/500)


It's Alive (2016)

Plow United return with another album called Three.  It's a relief to see that 2013's Marching Band wasn't a one and done after the band returned from a decade plus long hibernation.  I'm not sure if Three is quite as great as Marching Band was, but it is still a pretty fantastic record.

Three starts off with "We Should Take Time," a brief, punky intro with a fifty thousand mile per hour drum beat.  That sort of drumming isn't usually my favorite thing in the world and it made me a tad nervous the first time I put the record on, but those fears were immediately quashed by the very next song "Break The Barrier."  This is where Plow really shines.  They slowed down the tempo just a bit, inserted a catchy guitar riff and alternate back and forth between palm muted chugging and that sparkling riff.

As we move through the album, Plow unleashes some spectacular tunes.  "Everything," "Trust" and "The Writing on the Wall" are as strong as anything in the band's back catalog.  There are a few quick songs that are so short they kind of whiz by before they really sink in including the blink and you'll miss it "Hello Vertigo" and the criminally too brief "Radio."  

Overall though, this is a logical, strong follow up to Marching Band.  I've been listening to Plow United for a lot of years.  The fact that they've released two albums that are pretty different from the records they put out during their first run, but still manage to be equally enthralling is testament to their greatness.

Plow United - Three:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

New Junk City / Rebot (Re)pair - Split 7"


Night Animal (2016)

One of the interesting things about the recent uptick in records being sent to me to review is that it is exposing me to new bands that aren't on my radar.  Granted, that's not always for the best as there certainly some stinkers that get sent my way.  That being said, the few good ones that manage to sneak through are more than enough reward to sift through sthe sewage.

Case in point is New Junk City from this 7".  I don't really have any idea where these guys came from (OK, their Bandcamp page says they are from Atlanta, but you know what I mean).  I kind of can't fathom that I would have stumbled across this 7" on my own.  Not for any particular reason, I'm just not really sure where it would have popped up for me given my fairly narrow use of the internet.  Anyway, these two New Junk City songs are great.  On "Everything Good," lightly distorted guitar riffs in the verse give way to a chorus that crashes through the song.  The vocals are forceful, but not screamed and most of all it's supremely catchy.  "Wasting" may even be better with its bouncy chord progressions.  It's the best kind of punked up pop, without falling into the trappings of generic pop punk.

Robot (Re)pair doesn't quite hit the same kind of highs that New Junk City hits.  The recording of these three songs is a little flat, which probably doesn't help things.  The first two songs are both about a minute long and they feel like throwaways.  By the third song, "Weird World," they slow things down a bit and take their time.  The results are better and it's a reasonably catchy song, though I liked it more before I read the lyric sheet.  None of the three songs are bad, but they are completely overshadowed by how great these New Junk City songs are.

New Junk City / Rebot (Re)pair - Split 7":

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Satellite Go - Kate 7"


33 Forever (2016)

When 33 Forever sent me the new Plow United single a few weeks ago, they also included this 7" by Satellite Go.  I hadn't heard of these guys previously, but this is a pretty good little record.

Throughout the four songs on this 7", Satellite Go craft a quartet of melodic punk rock songs that have a bit of a rootsy side to them.  There are moments where they remind me of bands like Dan Padilla, Nude Beach and Suspicious Beasts.  Vocally, I can also see similarities to the slower moments of Plow United.

The first three songs in particular are great, mixing in the right amount of catchiness in the choruses and earnestness in the vocals.  I'm not as big of a fan of the last song, "Blackout."  The vocals kind of go off the rails toward the end of the song.  But the other three are top notch and really make me interested to hear more from this band.  This is worth picking up if you're into any of the other bands I mentioned.

Satellite Go - Kate 7"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hooper / Spells - Split Cassingle


Snappy Little Numbers (2016)

Credit again to Snappy Little Fingers, both for bringing back the wacky cassingle artwork of my youth and for sending over a copy of this tape to review.  I was pretty excited to pop this guy in when I opened it up.  After all, I'm a pretty huge Hooper fan and I've enjoys some of Spells prior work as well.

As far as the Hooper side goes, I have to admit I'm a little disappointed.  They start off with a cover of Marissa Nadler's "Diamond Heart."  It's alright, but is really lacking the energy and hooks that have made Hooper one of my favorites.  But again, it's a cover, so you can only do so much.  I had much higher hopes for the second song on their side of the split, "My Friend The Beast."  Best I can tell, this isn't a cover song, but it really doesn't sound much like the Hooper I've come to know and love.  The tempo is slow and deliberate and aside from a few high spots towards the end, the song just feels kind of thin.  Not at all what I was expecting from these guys.

For their side, Spells sticks to the tried and true.  "Starch Ideas" is the best kind of upbeat chord progression pop.  Through in a nice hooky chorus and some nice backing vocals and you've got a really solid song.  For their second song, they provide "A Failure's Wake."  The title makes me wonder.  Do they mean a wake for a failure, like the failure died or do them mean the wake of a failure, like the wake that a boat causes.  Either option provides some interesting thoughts.  Like "Starch Ideas," this is another bouncy, catchy song.  I really didn't expect the Spells side of this tape to be the one that I liked the most, but there you have it.

This is an interesting little split.  I'm especially curious to see where Hooper goes next.  Is this a new direction or just an anomaly?

Hooper / Spells - Split Cassingle:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Notches - Huge 7"


Young Modern / Hip Kid / Cat Dead Details Later (2015)

Young Modern sent me this Notches 7" to review along with the band's recent full length (that review will be coming soon).  This was another in a series of bands I didn't know about that knocked my socks off when I gave them a whirl.

We'll start with the one criticism I have first and that's that the recording quality isn't quite up to how great the songs are.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of slick, overproduced sounding rock & roll and I appreciate a little hiss and grime in a recording.  Unfortunately for the songs on this 7" the recording makes things, particularly the vocals, seem a little flat.  The good news is that these four songs are all so good, they cut through any production issues.

I can't speak for the band and say what their influences are, but they certainly seem to be taking cues from some bands from the 90's that I enjoy.  Superchunk is the easiest comparison to make, but to me I really hear elements of bands like Buford or Corduroy.  For a modern comparison, they make me feel the same way that bands like Hooper and Rumspringer do and that's some pretty great company.

It's a great introduction to the band especially as a primer for the full length.  I'll be reviewing it shortly, but as a spoiler I have no qualms at all with the recording quality on that one.

Notches - Huge 7":

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dan Padilla / Prince - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2016)

I finally got around to picking up a copy of this split 7".  I delayed a bit longer than I normally would, so I was relieved that I was still able to grab the blue vinyl that was limited to 100 copies.

Dan Padilla is a band that's been kicking around for quite a few years and I've reviewed several of their releases over the years on this website.  The two songs on this 7", perhaps two of the last songs the band will ever release, are on par with anything they've put out in the past.  I really dig both of them.  Dan Padilla has always been a band that takes a slight rootsy approach to their punk rock.  You can hear echoes of a Tom Petty vibe buried in their songs, but they still put forth the sort of energy and passion that you'd expect from a Leatherface.

I still don't know what to make of the band Prince.  Well, I should clarify that, I've absolutely loved ever song I've heard from them so far, but I don't really know a ton about them.  I did a little creative googling (you probably wouldn't be surprised to find out they are difficult to search for these days) and it looks like they're going to start working on a full length soon.  I'm pretty excited about that as their contribution to this split is just stellar.  Fast and catchy with lots of hooks, just the way I like.  Counting down the days to that full length.

Dan Padilla / Prince - Split 7":

Monday, June 27, 2016

Charlie Continental - Time Cassingle


Snappy Little Numbers (2016)

While I say pretty consistently that I really do not like all of the cassettes that get released these days, I will freely admit that this Charlie Continental one is pretty neat.  They went all out and did the old cardboard cassingle packaging.  It reminds me of buying the Cypress Hill "Phuncky Feel One/How I Could Just Kill A Man" cassingle back in '91.

Anyway, Charlie Continental doesn't sound much like Cypress Hill, but you could argue that he has a similar nasal delivery style like B-Real does.  If anything it reminds me a bit of Nobunny and bands of that ilk.  The two songs on this cassette are quick, one minute long poppy blasts.  Both of them sort of sound like TV show theme songs, which is funny, because after I thought that I looked on the Snappy Little Fingers website and found that the A-side of this tape, "Quit Wastin' My Time" is actually the theme song of a TV show on TruTV called "Those Who Can't."  I have never seen it or even heard of it, but I guess I was right in thinking these songs sound like theme songs.

I like both of the Charlie Continental songs well enough, but I really have a hard time getting all that excited about one minute long songs.  They come and go before you know it and while both are good, neither are spectacular to the point where it doesn't matter that they are so short.  They just seem like catchy little jingles more than anything else.  If Charlie Continental has some longer songs to release in the future, I would be curious to see where they could take everything with just a little more time.

Charlie Continental - Time Cassingle:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Winter Bear - Jump In The Fire 7"


Hozac (2013)

A little bit ago I got a package in the mail from Hozac, which was interesting as I hadn't placed an order with them recently.  Imagine my surprise to find out they had sent me a stack or records to review.  It wasn't the most recent batch of releases they've put out, but a cross section of records that they've released over a last few years.  I'm certainly game for that, so the first I'll tackle is Winter Bear.

Something that struck me as kind of funny is that as soon as I saw this record, I had an idea of what I thought it would sound like already in my head, and it turns out I was exactly right.  I don't think that is because I'm some sort of savant or anything, but I think it speaks more to how Winter Bear just has an aesthetic down for all aspects of their music, including the artwork. I dig the artwork and I dig the two songs.

I feel like eventually someone is going to hunt me down and beat me in the head for continually comparing bands to Baby Shakes, but I really feel that they are my touchstone for the sort of high energy, 60's throwback, female fronted bands that I tend to enjoy the most.  Winter Bear has this in spades from the lightly fuzzed out guitar, upbeat rhythm section and the well placed "shoo-wah-wah" in the A-side "Jump in the Fire." B-side "Should I Leave" is just as strong.  It has a slightly more jangly guitar sound, but captures the same sort of magic in the vocals.

This record came out back in 2013, and it looks like Winter Bear only put out one other 7" since then.  I'll probably pick that up at some point as this record is so good.  I'm not sure if Winter Bear is still kicking around, but I hope they are, this is pretty great stuff.

Winter Bear - Jump In The Fire 7":

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cut Worms - Don't Want to Say Good-bye 7"


Randy (2016)

I was pretty pleased when Randy records had sent me a pack of records to review a few weeks ago.  Even though I ended up not really liking the Heavy Times 7" they put out, this Cut Worms 7" has really won me over.

I hadn't heard of Cut Worms previously, but as soon as I put this record on, I was immediately taken back to being a kid when my dad was listening to the Everly Brothers.  In particular the moment that stands out is when my dad was listening to "Cathy's Clown" over and over again trying to learn the bass and all of the lyrics (he was in a cover band with my uncle and a few of their friends).  As a result of this, I developed an early and long lasting appreciation for the Everly Brothers and that song especially.

Cut Worms fits right into that same mold.  With gentle instrumentation as the backing, the main focus is on the vocals and the tremendous multi part harmonies coming out of both songs on this 7".  The recording fidelity isn't lo-fi or hi-fi, but it's kind of old-fi and sounds like a pristine relic from another time.  While I'm not sure this is the sort of 7" I could see myself listening to repeatedly, I do enjoy it quite a bit and would definitely check out future records that Cut Worms release.

Cut Worms - Don't Want to Say Good-bye 7":

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hurry - Guided Meditation LP - Swamp Green Vinyl (/100)


Lame-O (2016)

I had picked up Hurry's last record from 2014 called Everything/Nothing.  It was a solid record that I enjoyed, though it never really entered the discussion for best albums of that year or anything.  It was just a good listen for a change of pace.  Fast forward to 2016 and the band has released their next album, this time on Lame-O records.  Suddenly, Hurry is a band that is definitely standing out from the pack.

I've always been a sucker for shimmering, breezy guitar pop.  Throw on a Posies or a Beezewax record and I'm a happy guy.  Find me one of the more upbeat Pernice Brothers songs and I'm pretty content.  These are the feelings that Hurry is channeling over the course of Guided Meditation.  I wouldn't say it's the perfect summer record or use one of those cliche's as there is an underlying strain of melancholy that hangs on each song.  The harmonies are spectacular and really get stuck in your head, but they seem more rooted and less like throwaway melodies as they have a certain level of gravity that you don't hear too often.

Maybe I'm the sort of person that does like a little more fire in my music and I probably lean towards bands playing faster in general, but there's something to be said about a band's ability to create an album this strong.  All in all, this is a big step up for Hurry.  With Guided Meditation they've crafted a pretty close to perfect pop record.  

Hurry - Guided Meditation:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Tenement - Bruised Music Vol. 2 LP - Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl (/225)


Toxic Pop / Grave Mistake (2015) 

I have been writing about Tenement for quite some time on this site.  I was lucky enough to stumble across them pretty early and have watched in amazement as they have taken on a life of their own over the years.  Bruised Music Vol. 2 is the second singles compilation the band has released highlighting some of their songs that originally came out on various 7"s.  

Granted, I have all of these 7"s, so there's only a couple of songs that I hadn't heard previously, but it blows my mind how well they all fit together in a full length album format.  Much like Tenement's last proper full length, Predatory Headlights, Bruised Music Vol. 2 runs the gamut of Tenement's styles; from hugely recorded, catchy pop punk songs to lo fi, treble heavy numbers to a few of those weird soundscape-y songs that aren't exactly my favorite thing the band does.  It is a remarkably diverse set of songs that for reasons I really can't explain coalesce into this perfectly formed body of music.  You'd think they planned this all along.

I'll always be partial to to the catchier Tenement songs like "Taking Everything," Paper Airplanes" and "Your Life or Mine," after all I did first hear about these guys on the Pop Punk Message Board.  Tenement isn't a one trick pony, though.  I think most have realized over the past few years that this is a pretty special band with many tricks up their sleeve.  I'll keep buying their records to see what's next.

Tenement - Bruised Music Vol. 2:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

California - S/T LP - Dark Blue Swirl Vinyl


Blackball (2016)

I stumbled across California when I saw this record was touting that it featured members of Green Day and Jawbreaker.  That was enough to get me to take a look at it, though I certainly can't say I was surprised to find out it meant the old drummer from Jawbreaker, Adam Pfahler, and Jason White, best known as that other guitar player who isn't Billie Joe in Green Day and Pinhead Gunpowder.  

That last sentence may sound derisive, but even though these two may not have the name value of some of their bandmates, they are integral parts of some really tight, white hot bands, so my expectations were still pretty high.  California is just a picture perfect example of a good record.  That's what it is; it's good.  It's not great, but there are some pretty good songs on it.  There are some records that just blow you away with their greatness that make you just want to ball up your fists, scream into the air and tell everyone you know that they must own this record.  I can't see California ever making anyone feel that kind of passion.

But again, it's a completely solid album full of mid-tempo, reasonably catchy tunes that feature serviceable melodies and some pretty interesting guitar riffs.   It's not aggressive enough to really be considered punk, but it is loud enough where I wouldn't dismiss it as pure indie.  It kind of reminds me of old 90's bands like Ridel High or to a lesser extent, Ultimate Fakebook.  Two other bands that just have a lot of good songs (with Ultimate Fakebook having a handful of truly great ones).

I'm sure this review isn't really inspiring anyone to run out and grab this record, but at the end of the day I do think it is worth picking up.  Not everything in this world is off the charts great.  There's room for some records that are just a good pleasant listen, and California fits this bill to a T.

California - S/T:

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pink Wine / Outtacontroller - Split 7" - Clear Vinyl


Young Modern (2015)

When Young Modern sent this record to me, I was actually kind of surprised I didn't already have it.  I'm not sure if I just didn't know it was released or if I knew about it at some point and never got around to ordering a copy.  Regardless, I'm very excited to add it to the collection.

We'll start up with Pink Wine.  The first song on their side is "Wasted Breath."  It's catchy in the right places with tinny, distorted guitar riffs and vocals that straddle the divide between snotty and melodic.  It actually seems like the sort of band that would be pretty comfortable on Hozac.  Their second song is a cover of Outtacontroller's "Put It On High."  That is my favorite Outtacontroller song, so I am predisposed to already love that song.  Pink Wine does a completely fine version.  It's not too dissimilar from the original, but since I love the original, that's ok by me.

Outtacontroller is the band I'm most excited about on the spit.  I'm already a huge fan and I really feel like this is a band that doesn't get the attention they rightly deserve.  They are just as amazing as any band playing catchy punk rock with big hooks and fuzzed out vocals.  Their first song is "I Gave Up On Weezer" and it's as excellent as that song title would have you believe.  It's certainly a topic I can relate to, but it's not just a gimmick song.  It is as much of a toe tapper as anything else in the band's catalog.  

The second song is "Cold Sweats."  It's a Pink Wine cover, though I wasn't familiar with original prior to hunting around for it on the Pink Wine Bandcamp page.  It's a pretty faithful interpretation and a solid song.  Compared side by side, I actually prefer the original by Pink Wine, but I dig the Outtacontroller version as well.  I've always liked the idea of bands covering each other on split 7"s and this record is another example of why I tend to think it's a fun thing to do.

Pink Wine / Outtacontroller - Split 7"