Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Yellow Vinyl

Untitled

Vagrant (2016, Reissue)

This is the last of the Vagrant 20th anniversary reissues of Group Sounds.  It's on solid, translucent yellow vinyl.  I suppose it's the least interesting of the three newer reissues, though I will admit that yellow is my favorite color so I have a bit of a soft spot for it.

Considering that the others were wackier splatter variants, I'm not sure how this relatively tame third one ended up coming out.  The color doesn't really tie into the artwork particularly well.  You could make an argument that the cobra is yellow, but that's kind of stretching it and the cobra certainly isn't the same color as the LP itself.  

It could just be one of those unsolvable mysteries, but if there's a Rocket From The Crypt variant out there, it needs a loving home in my collection.  All three of these reissues have that loving home now.  I'll write up the two Live From Camp X-Ray reissues next.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6lTOyJ0taau3r39jaedwqgMTAlHG4z1o

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Makes No Sense / Suffering From A Case - Split CD

Untitled

Suburbia Works (2007)

This split CD features two Japanese bands, Make No Sense and Suffering From A Case.  It came back all the way in 2007 so it's another one that I've been missing out on for quite some time.  Luckily I have it now.

Makes No Sense immediately reminds me of Cradle To Grave, especially in their first song "Chunk of Contradictions."  The way the band effortless changes tempos going from ten thousand miles an hour in the verse to a steady backbeat of a catchy chorus is pretty remarkable.  Though I actually prefer their second song on the disc, "(Not For Me To Decide) Your Choice."  The tempo is a bit more consistent throughout the song and it just delivers the sort of scraggly, high energy Japanese pop punk that I know and love.  It looks like these guys have a couple of other split CDs out and now I need to find them as well.

Suffering From A Case is a band I'm more familiar with.  Actually, it's funny as I ended up with three copies of their other EP on Waterslide.  I picked up a copy back when it came out.  Then while I was in Japan I ended up buying another copy of it.  Finally, I ended up with a third copy as someone from a distro tossed it in with a Brown Trout album I bought.  I found loving homes for the extras, don't worry.  So for the two Suffering From A Case songs on this split they deliver excellent, Dillinger Four style melodic punk.  Energy, flashy breakdowns, bashing octaves and shouting their hearts out.  Excellent stuff and I recommend picking up their EP as well if you don't already have it and I didn't give you a copy.


Monday, February 19, 2018

First Base - Not That Bad LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Drunken Sailor (2017)

Not Thad Bad came out towards the end of 2017.  I also dragged my feet on picking it up/listening to it/reviewing it for a bit, so I didn't get it written up before the year ended.  It's kind of a shame as this is one of those records that really should have been represented on my end of the year list and pretty high at that.  The way that the band rolls together their vintage guitar tones and power pop sensibilities, First Base has a hit on their hands.

I actually got a little confused as I had thought I already owned band's first album, but doing a little bit of digging in the 'F' section and it turns out I don't, I only have a 7" of theirs that came out on La-Ti-Da.  That missing LP seems like a pretty big omission to me, especially if their first one is anywhere near as good as this new record.  I can be hit or miss on straight up power pop at the best of times, but First Base do a great job of keeping up the energy to go along with their bouncy hooks.  

The killer vocal harmonies certainly have a lot to do with how great all of the songs are as well, and it reminds me a lot of The Hum Hums maybe mixed with Gentleman Jesse or the Barreracudas first album.  There is so much on this record for the garage power poppers to love, but there's also a lot here for the pop punkers out there as well.  A damn fine album.

First Base - Not That Bad:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" (Europe)

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

This version of the Everybody Needs Some Body To Love 7", according to Discogs, is the European version of the single.  I'm not really sure how that differs from the version of this single I posted two weeks ago which was released in Germany (I had mistakenly listed that one as having been from France initially, but have corrected that review).  The last time I checked, Germany was in Europe, so I just don't know why these two different versions exist.  Probably some 80s distribution model that doesn't make sense anymore.

The songs are the same, as the B side for this 7" is Think by Aretha Franklin again.  The only real difference is the font of the song titles on the front of the sleeve, a completely redesigned back of the sleeve and the red/green split design of the label itself.  There's just something about that red and green Atlantic label that I just love.  

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

Aretha Franklin - "Think":

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Clear w/ Black & Yellow Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Vagrant (2016)

This is the second of three Group Sounds reissues that my wife got me for Christmas.  I'm pretty fortunate that she doesn't mind stoking the fire of this collection that has rapidly taken over most rooms in our place.  All I can say is that I'm a lucky, lucky guy.

I like this variant better than the one from last week.  Though splatter vinyl isn't my favorite of vinyl colors, at least this one takes some colors from the actual artwork to use.  I'm not entirely sure why last week's had blue splatter.  Sure there's a bit of blue on the insert, but it just seemed a bit out of place.  Though let's be honest, the best variant of this LP was the record store day variant on white vinyl with yellow splatter from a few years ago.  That one made the most sense anyway.

No matter how you slice it, that doesn't change the fact that this is one of the all time best Rocket records.  Maybe most people don't need so many copies of the same record, but I for whatever reason, I do.  I have one more version of this album that I'll post next week, then it's on to Live From Camp X-Ray.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Corner Boys - Just Don't Care 7"

Untitled

Drunken Sailor (2017)

Drunken Sailor is a label that always intrigues me.  They have this funny way of splitting their time between UK style melodic punk rock and poppier garage punk.  I don't find this weird, after all I'm a fan of both styles (country and western), but for whatever reason seeing some of the records they release side by side just makes me chuckle. 

Corner Boys hail from Vancouver and if the three songs on this 7" are any indication, they really love 70's style power pop.  Just Don't Care serves up three songs that sound right out of that era with the jangly guitar and bouncy bass lines.  The songs churn out catchy hooks with singalong choruses that will sound right at home next to whatever forgotten band Hozac trots out for their next reissue.  

The vocals are really up front in the mix on these three songs and the singer does have a somewhat nasally, slightly accented vocal style that you have to be ready for.  It's probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea and the vocals are so in the forefront that it might be a dealbreaker for some.  Luckily not for me as I really dig the three songs on this 7".  They're poppy and catchy and there's no screaming.  What's not to like?

Corner Boys - Just Don't Care 7":

Monday, February 12, 2018

Her Spectacles / Skimmer / Piece of Bread - All The Time In The World - 3 Way Split CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2009)

This CD is nearly ten years old now and that really blows my mind.  Another gem that I managed to overlook for far too long, this three way split compiles one band from the UK (Skimmer) with two from Japan (Her Spectacles and Piece of Bread).  All three bands are great and every song that each contributes is among their best.

Starting with Her Spectacles, they dish out three songs of melodic punk rock in the vein of of some of my very favorite bands like Three Minute Movie.  In particular, the choppy guitar riffs of "Deception" really make the song stand out as one of my favorites that I've heard from these guys.  As I had mentioned last time I reviewed something by them, there doesn't seem to be much that was released, but I definitely need to track down everything that was.

Next up we have three songs from Skimmer.  The thing I love about Skimmer is they're just so damn consistent.  You could play a Skimmer song from 1993 and one from 2020 and you're never going to confuse them with any other band.  Their version of sugar fueled Mega City Four style UK punk rock is among my very favorite sounds in the world and the fact that they are still churning out songs like this all these years later just makes me smile.

Lastly we have Peace of Bread, a band I have become somewhat obsessed with over the last year or so.  They combine punchy and melodic guitar riffs with complimentary boy/girl vocals in a way I haven't seen since the glory days of Cigaretteman.  Ever single song I have heard by them is an absolute smash hit and "Signal of the Start" may be the best one I've heard so far.  They are another band that I'm desperately trying to find as many records by as possible, so if you see any, let me know.

Her Spectacles / Skimmer / Piece of Bread - All The Time In The World - 3 Way Split:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Holiday - Missiles On The Roof 7" - Green Vinyl (/500)

Untitled

Brassneck / JSNTGM / Lost Cat / Pumpkin / Antikörper Export (2013)

I reviewed the Holiday LP last year and dug it quite a bit.  Scott from Brassneck happened to ask me about their 1st 7" as he had stumbled across his last remaining copy.  I didn't have it and I also don't think I knew that it existed, which seemed odd to me.  So, I let Scott know I needed a copy and here we are.  It still seems a little weird that I didn't already have this, especially as it's the first Brassneck release, but admittedly I have definitely noticed it gets harder to keep track of this sort of thing as I get older.  There's only so much record collecting information you can cram into your head.  I think this is one of the reasons I can never remember anyone's name, there's just no room left in my brain.

This Holiday 7" is great, though it is a bit different from last year's LP.  All the way back in 2013, Holiday didn't have quite as much of a Mega City Four or Senseless Things feeling.  They sounded a bit more straight up melodic pop punk.  The Goober Patrol vibes that I felt on the full length are more front and center on these songs, which in some ways I like even better.  You're never going to upset me when you're channeling UK punk rock like Snuff or the Goobers.  I'll always get behind the big guitar sounds and pounding rhythm section.

In a lot of ways, Holiday matured a lot and became better song writers by the time they got to the LP, but there's something refreshing and undeniably enjoyable about the four raucous songs on this 7".  Even the one song that ended up on the LP as well, "Lunch Break," sounds a lot rougher around the edges.  I'm not sure which is better as they both scratch different itches, but I like having the different options.  

Holiday - Missiles On The Roof 7"

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Clear w/ Blue Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Vagrant (2016, Reissue)

Back in 2016, Vagrant rereleased a handful of records as part of their 20th anniversary.  Two of the records that received the reissue treatment were the two albums that Rocket From The Crypt released for them.  Despite my unhealthy need to own every crazy variant of every Rocket From The Crypt record, I dragged my feet picking them up.  They seemed kind of pricy and also felt a little unnecessary.  They were always on my list of records to pick up, but I kept prioritizing other things.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing wife who really understands and tolerates my stupid hobbies more than anyone actually should.  She picked up all of the rereleases for me for my birthday and Christmas.  I'm going to be trotting them out over the next few weeks.  There likely won't be a lot to say about them as the only difference is the vinyl color, but it is fun for me to document.

This version of Group Sounds comes on clear vinyl with blue splatter.  Splatter variants aren't usually my favorite and on this one I'm not really sure how those colors tie in to the artwork, but so be it.  I'd like to think that if you're reading my website I don't need to tell you what an amazing album this is.  Ranking Rocket records is a difficult task for me, but I can safely say Group Sounds is one of my favorites.  If you're not familiar, please go listen right away.  A wonderful new world awaits.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spit-Take - Frog Rock LP

Untitled

One Percent Press / Ice Age / Cat Dead Details Later / Shitty Present (2017)

It seems a little weird to me that I'd never heard of Spit-Take prior to this record being sent in for review.  It seems like they're the sort of band I would have stumbled across in some capacity, but it wasn't meant to be for whatever reason.  All I can say is that I am glad this was sent in.  I might never have heard it otherwise.

Spit-Take hail from Connecticut and they released eleven of the songs on this LP as a cassette back in 2016.  Four other tracks were originally released as a 7".  Luckily a handful of labels stepped in and let it be known that these songs deserved more than a cassette and a fifteen song LP was born.  Spit-Take seem to be pretty obviously influenced by Superchunk, structuring their songs into hooky little gems.  While they don't quite capture the same type of energy on these recordings as Superchunk does (hey, let's be honest, few bands do), Frog Rock has moments where it truly shines.

Songs like "Something Sometimes," "Gloom" and "The Natural Facts" showcase the very best of Spit-Take.  They also are some of the faster songs on the album, which is where I think the band really shines.  More than anything I feel like this is a band who have a ton of potential.  Let's remember, the bulk of these songs are almost two years old.  I bet Spit-Take already has a batch of newer songs ready to blow these tunes out of the water.  I can't wait to see what they do next.

Spit-Take - Frog Rock:

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Fadeaways - Sick and Tired 7"

Untitled

Secret Mission (2017)

I'll be the first to admit that while I love a ton of Japanese bands, I've always been focused on the pop punk and melodic punk scenes over there.  I've never really delved too much into their garage rock bands and while I know Guitar Wolf, I can't say I've ever spent much time looking into anyone else.  When I opened up the package that Secret Mission sent me containing this Fadeaways 7", I was definitely intrigued.

I can say without question this is a really fun and energetic single.  The Fadeaways harness the spirit of stomping garage rock bands of the 60s.  They actually remind me quite a bit of the Schizophonics in that they sound like an authentic band from that era that was somehow frozen in time, rather than a group paying homage to these sounds.  

The guitar is bracing with big riffs and the occasional blaring solo, while the rhythm section keeps things bouncy, yet pummeling all at the same time.  The vocals are a bit gruff, but they fit the aesthetic of the band perfectly; keeping the melody in tact, but still sounding a bit like they're going to go off the rails at any moment.  I'm super impressed by The Fadeaways and if you dig upbeat,  garage-y fun, this is something worth checking out.

The Fadeaways - Sick and Tired 7":

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" (Germany)

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

We're moving on to the "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" single and there are a few different versions out there.  We'll start off with one of the most basic, the Atlantic single from Germany.  Like a lot of single released off of the Blues Brothers soundtrack, this one repurposes the soundtrack's cover art as the single's cover.  Nothing fancy and nothing particularly exciting.  Although it's one of my favorite iconic images of the Blues Brothers, it does tend to get recycled a lot.

I find the choice of B side a bit odd as well since it's not really a Blues Brothers song. Aretha Franklin's "Think" is on the flip side and while it's certainly a great song and obviously appears in the movie, it strikes me as a weird choice for the b side of a single that's credited to The Blues Brothers.  If anything, it seems more like a split single to me.

This isn't a one off occurrence, as we go through the soundtrack singles you'll see a few other interesting pairings like this.  Luckily, they're all pretty great songs.  Though in a perfect world, I'd lose the extra backing vocals in "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" and just use the version that appears in the movie.

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

Aretha Franklin - "Think":

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Higley - Higley CD

Untitled

Waterslide / Boss Tuneage (2017)

Even though this CD is from Japan, the band isn't.  Higley is comprised of a bunch of punk rock all-stars from bands like G-Whiz, River City High, Fun Size, Pollen and that Bill Stevenson fellow from All and Descendants.  If you want an 'ex members of' band, these guys take the cake.

Considering the people involved, I think I'm a little surprised that it's a similarity to Pollen that I hear the most.  The slick, distorted guitar and slightly gravely vocals mesh well with the steady, mid tempo rhythm section churning the songs along.  By the books pop hooks and chorus melodies pepper throughout the album and you can't deny their potency and effectiveness.  

Sometimes the songs feel a little too polished and somewhat clinical.  I wouldn't mind if things went off the rails a bit more and some of the perfection was traded in for a little chaotic energy.  Also the lyrics do lean towards a sort of confessional travel journal direction.  They can get overly heartfelt at times, particularly on "For A Minute," but the band is powerful enough to keep things from getting too sentimental.  It's a totally solid debut album and worth checking out, particularly if you dig Pollen or G-Whiz.

Higley - Higley:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Autogramm - Jessica Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll 7"

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

Snappy Little Numbers came through with another care package of records to review.  I have a couple of others that you'll see in the upcoming weeks, but I wanted to start with the one band I wasn't previously familiar with, Autogramm.

These guys hail from Vancouver and have turned in two synth laced, new wave pop songs that sound like they're straight out of 1979.  Now, there are plenty of times where I could say a sentence like that and go into a pretty negative review.  Typically, nothing sends me running for the hills faster than seeing the worth synth when a band is being described.  But, to their credit, Autogramm has latched on to a particular style of new wave that I have a great fondness for.  Specifically both of these songs remind me a lot of The Cars.

Like The Cars, Autogram have a strong pop structure at the root of both songs.  They build to the chorus with almost robotic precision, and when the hook appears the whole song comes to life.  The synth is used as a decorative flourish here, it's not the defining characteristic of the band or a gimmick that's being leaned on too heavily.  While I can't say this is my favorite Snappy Little Numbers release to come down the pike, it's a solid record and a fun listen.

Autogramm - Jessica Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll 7":

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nervous Hearts - Falling In Love With... CD EP

Untitled

Simply Thrilling (2012)

I can say pretty confidently that with this review, this is the longest stretch where I have reviewed a format other than vinyl.  Yeah I had that Blues Brothers 7" last week, but aside from that it's been all CDs this year.  It's mostly an attempt to catch up on all of the Japanese CDs I picked up last year and while I certainly have made a dent in the backlog, I still have a surprising amount left.  That being said, I'm going to start bringing the vinyl back in pretty soon.  I've got a backlog of that brewing as well.

Nervous Hearts is another Japanese band I hadn't heard of prior to my trip to Tokyo last year.  The cover art certainly grabbed me and I was assured that it was power poppy and likely up my alley.  Well, that's the fact, Jack.  Falling In Love With.. contains 6 songs of somewhat mod, slightly Buzzcocks style power pop punk.  Even through they're playing a pretty different style of music, the guitar tone reminds me a lot of early Snuff, though it's used for a much different purpose.

Aside from the opening instrumental (which is quite excellent), each of the songs is a revved up mix of bouncy guitar, tight rhythms and catchy vocal melodies.  It reminds me a lot of the sort of thing you'd expect HoZac to release, when they're feeling more poppy than garagey.  While Nervous Hearts aren't playing the sort of Snuffy Smiles style pop punk that I tend to favor in Japanese bands, they've crafted a slick EP that makes me want to hear more.  Problem is, I think this is the only record they ever released.  If I'm wrong, let me know.

Nervous Hearts - "Loser On The Street" (I could only find a live version online):

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Girlfriend - A Boy's Dream CD EP

Untitled

Waterslide (2017)

If you look at this CD and recognize the layout as being an homage to the label Mutant Pop records, I think that I can safely say you're probably going to like Girlfriend.  To me, this EP is the perfect thing to write about that combines my desire to finish reviewing more of the Japanese CDs I've let pile up and the high that I still feel from going to the Seattle Pop Punk Festival.  The best of both worlds, if you will.

Girlfriend is pretty straightforward, traditional sounding pop punk.  But they attack it with a passion and energy that sets them apart from the pack.  Like label mates The Hum Hums, Girlfriend excels at stringing together harmonies and addictive hooks.  This is most strongly evident on my favorite track of the bunch, "Be My Girlfriend."  Over a punchy, mid tempo rhythm, Girlfriend builds a catchy, anthemic song with the sort of chorus that you picture everyone shouting along to with their hands in the air.

For a band that is working within the confines of "three chord pop punk" these songs are all surprisingly dynamic.  The chord progressions are unique with lots of layered lead guitar work throughout.  The melodies are infectious and, to me, it's impossible not to get sucked in to these songs.  

Girlfriend - A Boy's Dream:

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Record Store Visit: Singles Going Steady - Seattle, WA - 01/19/18

Untitled

I went out to Seattle this weekend for the Seattle Pop Punk Festival.  A gathering of some fantastic bands and people in Seattle.  I had the most amazing time seeing some of my very favorite bands and hanging out with some great people.  So before I say anything about my record store visit, let me just say thanks to Ean, Denny & Josh from Sicko - Kevin, Rob, Andrew & Graham from Bum - Jonas for the place to crash - Alan for taking the clock back twenty years - and all of the cool people we met and chatted with during the weekend.  It was one for the ages.

We only ended up being able to get out to one record store while in Seattle.  I had every intention of hitting up more, but once we got there it just wasn't realistic.  Between the limited time and the flat out old man exhaustion from the travel and walking, it wasn't meant to be.  We hit up the one place that was recommended above the others; Singles Going Steady. 

Singles Going Steady was one of the sponsors for the Seattle Pop Punk Festival, so the recommendation to go there certainly carried some weight.  It was a good sized store with a solid mix of stock.  They mostly carry vinyl, but there was a corner of CDs towards the back of the store.  A good amount of new stuff, but also a lot of used, particularly when it came to 7"s.  The selection definitely skews punk rock, though there was plenty of indie rock and a smattering of complete randomness in the used bins.

I enjoyed digging through the 7"s, where there were all sorts of weird things hanging out.  Lots of 90's stock and obscure gems.  It's not every day you run across used Boris The Sprinkler 7"s in 2018, but you will at Singles Going Steady.  I didn't actually pick up anything while we were there, but part of that was due to jet lag/airplane exhaustion and a real lack of focus on the task at hand.  If I were to go back well rested with more time to kill, I'm pretty sure I would have unearthed something.  If I was local, it's definitely the sort of store I could see myself hanging around in.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Gimme Some Lovin 7" (France)

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

First Blues Brothers post of the new year.  Even though when I first started collecting and writing about these 7"s, I was posting them at random, I decided a few weeks ago that what I was going to do was to work my way through each album chronologically.  I finished up all of the Briefcase Full Of Blues singles last year (aside from a few Soul Man variants that I haven't been able to track down yet) and today I'm going to start up the Blues Brothers movie soundtrack singles.  I did write about the US version of the Gimme Some Lovin 7" on blue vinyl at the very beginning of this project, but I'm going to pick up on the rest of them now.

First up is the French version of Gimme Some Lovin.  Music wise it still has "She Caught The Katy" as a B side and these are still two of my absolute favorite Blues Brothers songs ever.  The variance here is in the art work.  Even though they are using the same picture as the US version of the 7", it has been taken into black and white.  The fonts on the text are slightly different and there's also the little French blurb in the bottom right hand corner of the picture.  This picture is also the image used on the cover of the soundtrack as a whole.  Get used to this picture, there's a lot of singles that use a version of it.

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin'":

The Blues Brothers - "She Caught the Katy":


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Her Spectacles - Remain CD EP

Untitled

Waterslide (2006)

I've really been in a state of constant disbelief lately.  So many of the recent Japanese records that I've been reviewing lately have come out quite a while ago.  This one from Her Spectacles came out all the way back in 2006.  I just don't know how I missed out on all of these.  Well, I have a little bit of an idea for something this old as 2004-2007 was a really down time for buying new records as my job was beating the life out of me and I didn't want to listen to anything.  But still, had I known about a record this good, I would have absolutely made time for it.

This EP by Her Spectacles actually reminds me of something that's kind of in the middle of the last two records I've reviewed on this very site.  They've got the same sort of attention to melody and dynamic guitar work of Does It Float (riyl Three Minute Movie), while at the same time keeping things poppy and catchy like Tin Soldiers (riyl Kevlar, Sugar).  The combination of these two style makes Her Spectacles the most impressive of the bunch as these sounds are combined into energetic and hook filled songs, while still displaying a level of musicianship and song craft that lets you know that these folks really know how to play.

I still can't believe this EP is as old as it is.  Remain sounds so fresh and exciting and all it does is make me want to listen to more by this band.  Sadly, there doesn't appear to be much more out there.  I have the three way split with Skimmer and Peace of Bread and the only other record I can find is a split 7" with Phoenix Foundation.  I'll be keeping my eye out for that, but I just wish there was more.'

Her Spectacles - Remain:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tin Soldiers - Boys Love Songs CD EP

Untitled

Self Released (2010)

Boys Love Songs is another wonderful treasure I picked up while record shopping in Tokyo.  I wasn't familiar with the band, but they were recommended to me, so I grabbed a copy.  This is another one of those records that is so right up my alley, I don't understand how this could have been kicking around since 2010 without me knowing about it.

Tin Soldiers is is from Japan, but they are a far cry from the usual Snuffy Smile leaning punk rock sound that I typically gravitate towards.  Instead, Tin Soldiers keep things much more mid tempo and eschew ferocity for wonderfully crafted guitar pop tunes.  There are times where they remind me of Sugar and other times where they sound a lot like the more poppier leanings of Kevlar.  The band has a gigantic sound for only being a three piece and most impressive is the huge, dynamic guitar work of Daichi Sato.

If the Waterslide records distro is any indication, it looks like Tin Soldiers have another seven song EP and a demo floating around out there (sadly sold out at Waterslide).  If anyone ever sees any other records by this band please let me know, I definitely want to pick them up.  Unfortunately I can't really find any music online by this band apart from a MySpace page that I can't get to play anything.  I'll link it below, just incase you can coax some music out of it that I'm not able to.

Tin Soldiers - "Boy's Song":

Tim Soldiers - "The Hate":

Monday, January 15, 2018

Does It Float - Every Words In Your PS CD

Untitled

Urban Sleep (2009)

This CD was sent to me by Urban Sleep Discs along with a few others.  I'm trying my best to get all of the Japanese CDs I've acquired in the past year reviewed for this site, so if there seems to be more of them than usual, this is one of the reasons why (Another reason being that very few new albums tend to get released in January, so it's a good time to play catch up with some others).

Does It Float is playing an extremely catchy variant of melodic, emo tinged punk rock.  The thing that stands out to me more than anything else is the impressively complex lead guitar noodling in each song.  It adds a level of depth and musicianship that you don't hear just anywhere, but the band never dives too far into self indulgent guitar wanking.  Every note means something and serves the incessantly catchy hooks that the band manage to sneak into every song.

It actually reminds me a lot of the first few Three Minute Movie songs I heard from their split with Braid and that 3" CD that came out around the same time.  Mix in some Scaries style pop hooks and that's a pretty decent road map to the sounds that Does It Float are working with.  It may not be a brand new release, having come out in 2009.  But it's definitely work backtracking to check out.  

Unfortunately, I'm not able to find any of their songs online to link to, But the band also has a split 7" with Stay Clean Jolene that came out on All In Vinyl some time back that's easier to hear online.  I'm just happy to add more song by these guys to the collection.  


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thirsty Chords - Kioku No ED CD

Untitled

Shirafu (2016)

I have three CDs by Thirsty Chords that I acquired last year.  I reviewed one of their full lengths a few months ago and I have another full length of theirs still in the review pile.  I figured I'd go with this seven song EP today.  With this EP, the band is two for two when it comes to putting out releases that I think are pretty great.

As a whole, I feel like this EP is a bit more melodic than the last full length of theirs that I wrote about.  Where their debut album was pretty fast and passionate in a way that reminded me a lot of Minority Blues Band, this time out Thirsty Chords have taken the tempo back a bit and with incredible results.  More than anything, I keep hearing echoes of recent Leatherface, but really only in the guitars.  Leatherface has a very distinct guitar sound with palm muted leads that blossom into frantic chord changes and Thirsty Chords have tapped into this sort of song structure.  It's particularly evident in the first two songs of the album, though the song titles for both are in Japanese so it's difficult to list them here.

That's not to say there aren't a few blasts of energy on this EP.  Both "Middle Class" and "Man Is Said" are full throated rippers with blazing guitar riffs and enough energy to power a small village.  Thirsty Chords is another one of those bands from Japan that I just can't figure out why it took me so long to hear about them.  I'm relieved I finally did as their records are pretty spectacular, but I wonder if there are other bands out there that I'm just not hearing about. 

Thirsty Chords - "エイトセンチメートルランニング":

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Blackender - Demo CD

Untitled

Self Released (2015)

I have to admit, I don't remember where I got this CD.  I may have picked it up record shopping in Tokyo, though it's equally possible it was recommended to me as part of a mailorder spree from this past year.  No matter how it ended up in the collection, I'm pretty glad it did.  From the looks of the artwork, you'd think that there might be some metal going on here, but fear not.  Blackender is another in the seemingly never ending line of excellent, poppy Japanese punk bands.

There's only two songs on this CD and boy do I wish there were more.  Particularly because of how great the first track, "Try To Find," is.  It seems like such a throwback to the nineties, in the best possible way.  There's a little bit of that Husking Bee pop mastery mixed in with the more punk leaning energy of Blew.  It's an incredible song that I can't say enough good things about.

The second song, "Bravado," doesn't soar quite as high, but it's still a pretty good showing.  The verse is a little darker with slightly fuzzy vocals, but once again the band shows that they know how to write a chorus that's destined to get stuck in your head.  I don't think there's anything else available from these guys, but if there is, someone please let me know where I can get it.

Blackender - "Try To Find":

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Trashmind - Longtime Losers' EP CD

Untitled

Self Released (2017)

I think this was self released by the band.  There are no markings of a record label and I can't find any information on line, so I'm just going to assume it's self released.  This three song EP from Osaka based Trashmind is outstanding.  It looks like this EP has been about ten years in the making and honestly, it sure seems like it was worth the time and effort to me.

The first comparison that comes to mind is that Trashmind seems to inhabit a space right in the middle of early Green Day and early Pinhead Gunpowder.  It's not quite as slick as Green Day, but it's also not as gruff as Pinhead Gunpowder.  Trashmind somehow sits perfectly in between the two, churning out three incredibly catchy and upbeat songs.  For good measure there's also a hint of the No Idea records sort of group vocal choruses here and there that mix wonderfully with the Lookout records sounds the band is churning out.

My biggest complaint is that there are only three songs on this CD.  I desperately want to hear more.  Trashmind has a bandcamp page with another demo of theirs available to download.   Rest assured I'm going to go grab that immediately.  If anyone in Trashmind reads this, please make more records as soon as you can.  I don't want to wait ten years for the next one.

Trashmind - Longrime Losers' EP:

Monday, January 8, 2018

Without - Westgate No. 5 EP CD

Untitled

Raft (2017)

Hello and happy new year.  I'm starting off the new year with a goal of finally getting through all of the Japanese CDs that I have piled up over here.  It's amazing that I still have records that I bought in Japan last year that I haven't gotten to.  Couple that with a few spots of mailorder over the past year and I have a pile that has been sorely neglected.

First up for 2018 is this Without EP.  I can't say I know a whole lot about them outside of the three songs on this CD, but I'm sure it was recommended to me as something I'd like.  That recommendation was correct, this is good stuff.  Without have an interesting combination of the sort of Snuffy Smiles Japanese punk rock sound mixed with slightly more melodic (some might say emo) tendencies.  The band has a knack of having explosive verses and catchy choruses, but then you'll come across a really dynamic breakdown or outro.

In particular the ending of the song "Dislike" really reminds me of the sort of thing that you would have heard from the Get Up Kids back when they were good.  You know, on that first CD EP.  The only time the Get Up Kids were really, really good.  Anyway, Without captures those sort of energetic detours and manages to integrate them seamlessly into the rest of their punk rock.  This is a very strong debut EP and I hope it isn't the last I hear from Without.

Without - "Dislike":

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Absolute Best Records Of 2017

Untitled

This is the 2017 edition of my annual list of the Absolute Best Records of the year.  There were some real winners this time out and in particular, the top 5 really monopolized my time in 2017.  I listened to those five records a lot this year.

2017 is the first year in a long time where I don't have a list of records that extended past a top 30.  I mean, sure, I bought a few more records that what I've listed below, but I usually have quite a long list of albums after 30.  I think that pretty much confirms what I've thought for most of the year, 2017 just didn't have quite as many amazing records as usual.

That's not to say there weren't great records.  Just a quick listen to the ones listed below will shatter that notion.  The Chinchees, Charly Bliss and Short Straw Fate would be fighting for the top spot in almost any year and honestly, it's really a coin flip on which of the three I like best.  Plus, all three are bands that are brand new to me, so you have to give bonus points for that.

I'll be taking a little break from posting new reviews for a bit, but I should be back with new records to write about on January 8th.

01 - The Chinchees - The Chinchees - Dirt Cult (Listen)
02 - Charly Bliss - Guppy - Barsuk (Listen)
03 - Short Straw Fate - For The Heroes In My Record Rack - Fixing A Hole (Listen)
04 - Racquet Club - Racquet Club - Rise (Listen)
05 - Remnants - True Places Never Are - Tour Van / Different Kitchen / Emily (Listen)
06 - Needles // Pins - Good Night, Tomorrow - Dirt Cult / Mint (Listen)
07 - A Giant Dog - Toy - Merge (Listen)
08 - Lost Balloons - Hey Summer - Dirtnap (Listen)
09 - Phoenix Foundation - Closer - Waterslide / Boss Tuneage (Listen) 
10 - Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound - Carpark (Listen)

11 - Good Shade - Lunch - Gut Genug / A-F
12 - Warm Soda - I Don’t Wanna Grow Up - Castle Face
13 - Ted Leo - The Hanged Man - Self Released
14 - Cheap Wine - Cheap Wine - Drunken Sailor
15 - Greensleep - Cheap Headphones - Dead Broke
16 - Holiday - California Steamin’ - Brassneck / Pumpkin / Antikorper Export / Prejudice Me
17 - Your Pest Band - Old Springhead - Snuffy Smiles / Brassneck / Dead Broke
18 - Zapiain - Giantnormous - All In / Bombed Out
19 - Bear Trade - Silent Unspeakable - Dead Broke / Everything Sucks
20 - Marvelous Mark - Buzzin’ - Drunken Sailor

21 - Iron Chic - You Can’t Stay Here - Side One Dummy
22 - Capitalist Kids - Brand Damage - Brassneck / Eccentric Pop
23 - Midnight Reruns - Spectator Sports - Dusty Medical
24 - The Golden Boys - Better Than Good Times - 12XU
25 - The Obleeks - The Obleeks - Good Land
26 - Heavy Heart - Distance - Brassneck / Can I Say / Don’t Trust The Hype / Guerilla Asso / Inhumano / Monster Zero
27 - The Lillingtons - Stella Sapiente - Fat Wreck
28 - Out - Swim Buddies - Comedy Minus One
29 - Jim And The French Vanilla - Afraid Of The House - Dirtnap
30 - Sweet Knives - Sweet Knives - Big Neck

Previously:
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009

Friday, December 22, 2017

Gene Autry - Christmas Favorites LP

Untitled

CBS (1981)

Excluding the Ventures' Christmas Album, this Gene Autry LP is hands down my favorite Christmas record.  While it certainly isn't as rocking as the Ventures and likely may not appeal to everyone that typically reads this website, there's something about these songs that are so ingrained into me that I can't get into the Christmas mood without them.

My dad had this album on cassette when I was a kid and when it was Christmas time, it would always get broken out.  The songs, by Gene Autry - the singing cowboy, are very obviously geared towards children, which was probably a lot of the appeal.  About ten years ago or so, I picked up a CD that contained every Christmas song that Gene Autry recorded for Columbia records.  It covers everything that is on this LP plus another dozen or so more songs.  That tends to be my go to this time of the year, but I wanted to have these songs on vinyl and I really wanted the specific album I listened to as a kid.  Luckily while kicking around on eBay, I found a copy that was brand new, still sealed and it was only ten bucks.  An easy decision.

The songs on this album are some of the most classic every written.  You have "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" (the song that Gene originally made famous), "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."  There's no way you haven't heard these before as they are the very essence of traditional Christmas music.  

For me, it's the deep cuts on the album that really make it for me.  "If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas" spins a tale of how could Santa Claus get to your house if there's no snow and he can't use his sleigh.  It's full of charming imagery of Santa flying a plane and other unusual modes of transportation.  "Christmas Waltz" is a slow, wonderful song about a couple dancing together while the spirit of the season affects everyone around them.  

Then there are my two personal favorites: "The Night Before Christmas (In Texas That Is)" and "Merry Texas Christmas You All."  Both put a cowboy spin on the traditional Christmas story, and I have to admit, they have an even funnier, more personal connection for me now since my wife is originally from Texas.  It's impossible for me to say enough good things about this album.  I just love it to bits and rest assured it's going to be played pretty non stop for the next few days.

This will be my last proper review of the year.  Right around New Years, I'll post my Absolute Best Records of 2017 list, but aside from that I'll be taking a break and doing a lot of eating.  Hope everyone has a nice holiday and a happy new year.

Gene Autry - "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer":

Gene Autry - "If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas":

Gene Autry - "Merry Texas Christmas, You All":

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Blues Brothers - I Got Everything I Need (Almost) 7" (Japan)

Untitled

Atlantic (1978)

"I Got Everything I Need (Almost)" was the last song from Briefcase Full Of Blues to be released as a single.  Like "Rubber Biscuit," it wasn't released in the US or Europe with any picture sleeve.  The only region that received one was Japan and it's a good one.  This 7" has completely unique artwork that wasn't recycled from any previous Blues Brothers record and features a pretty excellent shot of the boys dancing on stage.  It's uniqueness makes it one of my favorite Blues Brothers 7"s that I've picked up during this quest to find all of their picture sleeves.  

"I Got Everything I Need (Almost)" has long been one of my favorite Blues Brothers songs.  It's positioned in that first run of songs on Side A that leads up to "Rubber Biscuit," perhaps one of the greatest album stretches I've ever heard.  I always liked the affectation that Jake uses on his voice on this song, it gives it a feeling that you don't really hear on any of the others, almost as if the character of this song has just stumbled out of a bar drowning his sorrows and this song is his confession of why he's so down.

On the B side we have "Hey Bartender."  This is another song pulled from that same batch of songs on side A of Briefcase Full Of Blues. It's the first real song on the album after the "Can't Turn You Loose" intro and again, it's a long time favorite of mine.  The band is on fire and Jake is all revved up for this one.  It could be argued this song is one of the most emblematic songs The Blues Brothers ever did.  While certainly not their most well known or popular, it really sort of captures the band at their peak on Briefcase Full Of Blues.  Both are incredible songs and this 7" is absolutely one of the crown jewels in my budding Blues Brothers 7" collection.

The Blues Brothers - "I Got Everything I Need (Almost)": 

The Blues Brothers - "Hey Bartender":

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Hussy - I See Just Fine 7" - White Vinyl

Untitled

Big Neck (2017)

This 7" is the last one left out of the package that Big Neck sent me to review. I didn't leave it for last  for any specific reason.  It's not my least favorite of the Big Neck records I received, though I can't quite say I've saved the best for last either.  It's actually just a pretty solid, easy to listen to 7".

The Hussy is pumping our treble heavy guitar mixed in with an abundance of raw energy and fast paced drumming.  The songs have a pretty straightforward pop catchiness to them, but it's rammed through a meat grinder of fuzz, keeping it rough and ready.  A side "I See Just Fine" rests on the strength of a hooky, repeated guitar lead and the lost-in-a-cave vocals that tie everything together.  I don't love the breakdown in the middle where a bunch of sampled dialog drifts through the song, but other than that, it's a hit.

There's two songs on the B side, but the second one "Better Stuff" is the highlight.  It's a short, fast blast of garage-y pop punk.  It feels like the entire song is a chorus, with its super catchy vocal melody and bouncy drumming.  It may be the best thing on the 7" and I wish it were twice as long as it is.  I wasn't really familiar with Hussy prior to checking out this 7", but this 7" of their's is pretty good stuff.

The Hussy - I See Just Fine 7":

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

V/A - Christmas In Soulsville LP - Green Vinyl (/500)

Untitled

Stax (2015, reissue)

I'll admit it.  I bought the wrong soul Christmas album.  I thought I was buying Soul Christmas with "Gee Whiz, It's Christmas" by Carla Thomas and "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter.  I was wrong.  Christmas In Soulsville, focuses more on later era Stax Chirstmas releases.  Moving more into that 70s funk/Hot Buttered Soul sound.  There's two Isaac Hayes songs on this one.

My issue is twofold.  One, I don't really like the direction that Stax moved to when they started doing the Isaac Hayes era releases.  I prefer my soul a little earlier and a bit more upbeat.  That brings me to my second issue with this compilation; there's just too many slow songs.  Both Isaac Hayes songs are excruciating to get through, they're just so damn slow.  "Please Come Home For Christmas" by Johnny Taylor and "What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas" by The Emotions are similar in that they don't feel festive to me.

That being said there are still great songs on this.  It's a Stax record after all, they were bursting at the seams with talent.  Otis Redding's "Merry Christmas Baby" makes an appearance and is a show stopper.  "Winter Wonderland" by Booker T and the MG's isn't my favorite of their Christmas tunes, but it's still a solid entry.  I also really enjoy "I'll Be Your Santa Baby " by Rufus Thomas and "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'" by Sir Mack Rice.  

This wasn't a wasted purchase as there are plenty of great Christmas songs on here.  But, it's just not the non stop hit factory that Soul Christmas is.  So that's going to have to be top of the list next year.

V/A - Christmas In Soulsville:

Monday, December 18, 2017

Turncoat - I. R. I. S. CD

Untitled

Waterslide / Mostoff (2015)

Turncoat is another one of those Japanese bands that I somehow completely missed keeping track of.  I picked up their first album back in 2011, but never kept up on their other releases.  In addition to the CD Ep that I'm reviewing today, I just realized that Turncoat have a second full length CD that I didn't know existed either.  I really need to do abetter job of keeping track of bands that I like.

I guess it was worth the self inflicted wait on listening to this EP, because it is pretty great.  Strong, mid tempo and catchy punk rock with dueling male/female vocals and hooks in all of the right spots.  This CD is also a reminder that I actually have no idea how to play the guitar as they effortless shift from delicate and intricate leads to crunchy and dynamic chord progressions.  

There are elements of the way the band structures their songs that remind me of Dear You era Jawbreaker, though the vocals are completely different.  This comparison is especially interesting as the band also tackles an early Jawbreaker song with their cover of "Want" on this release (it's not up on the Bandcamp link, but it is on the CD itself).  It's a really great version that blends in surprising well with the rest of the band's original material.  If nothing else, I'm going to try really hard not to miss any future releases by Turncoat.  Oh, and I also have to go back and try to find their second album as well.

Turncoat - I. R. I. S.:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Beach Boys - Christmas Album LP - Green Vinyl (/1000)

Untitled

Capitol (2016, Reissue)

It's no secret to those around me that I absolutely love Christmas music.  Every year at this time I break out my Christmas playlist and fine tune it.  Adding new songs and removing ones that just don't cut it anymore.  It's a constantly evolving organism and every year I get just a bit closer to it being perfect.  Additionally, I've been trying to snag at least one of my favorite Christmas albums on vinyl every year.  This year I actually ended picking up three, so I'll sprinkle their reviews in over the next week.

The Beach Boys Christmas album really should be a total slam dunk.  And on the A side it is.  Six straight songs of good time, rock and roll Christmas music.  We've got the Beach Boys original staples like "Little Saint Nick," "The Man With All The Toys" and "Santa's Beard."  It's the very best of 1960s Beach Boys meets the Christmas Season.  They also do a really fun, spirited version of "Frosty The Snowman."  The A side of this album is pretty flawless.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for the B side.  The album just grinds to a screeching halt with a series of slow, traditional covers. "We Three Kings of Orient Are" is comically terrible and they even manage to ruin some of my traditional favorites like "Blue Christmas" and "White Christmas."  The only thing worthwhile on the B side is "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," but even that can't hold a candle to anything on side A.

I wish that when they were recording this album, they just kept writing original Christmas songs.  Those are the highlights here.  When they veer from that, a lot of this record becomes skippable.  Still, that A side is so white hot, it's a record that has to be in my collection.

The Beach Boys - "Little Saint Nick":

The Beach Boys - "Santa's Beard":

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Heavy Lids - Bleed 7" - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Big Neck (2017)

Of the recent batch of records that Big Neck sent me, I'm probably least interested in this Heavy Lids 7".  Not that it's inherently bad or anything, but it's not the sort of band that typically connects with me.

Both songs are pretty barebones, full force ahead, stomping blasts in the tradition of early 80s punk rock forefathers. The guitars are a brutal wall of fuzz that combine with very prominent keyboards and gritty vocals.  There's a subtle hook buried in the A side "Bleed," but it's really subtle.  You're mostly smacked in the face with a barrage of pounding drums.

On the B side "No Reason," things slow down a little, but it's still a pretty angsty and powerful.  For the type of music they're playing, Heavy Lids do a totally fine job of things.  This just isn't really the sort of thing that I'm usually into.  I need songs that are a bit catchier.

Heavy Lids - Bleed 7"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Phoenix Foundation - Closer LP

Untitled

Waterslide / Boss Tuneage / Best Seller (2017)

First off, I should point out that this isn't the Phoenix Foundation band from New Zealand.  I don't know anything about those dudes other than they sure come up a lot when you're searching for the Phoenix Foundation Bandcamp page.  I'm sure they're nice guys and all, but the record I'm writing about is by the Phoenix Foundation from Finland.

I first heard of these guys as a recommendation since I liked the band Manifesto Jukebox.  I picked up a CD of theirs that came out back in 2003.  It was good stuff, really fiery and fast.  For whatever reason, they kind of fell off my radar after that.  I picked up the occasional single and EP, but I never grabbed another one of their full lengths.  I guess they were one of those bands that ware harder for me to keep tabs on.

Fast forward to this year and Phoenix Foundation's newest release Closer is back on my radar thanks to Waterslide records.  I can say this is a band that has gone through some changes since 2003.  The entire tempo of the record has calmed way down since their ballistic debut.  It's for the better really.  With a slightly slower pace, the songs have more freedom to expand and the hooks have more time to build and get lodged in your head.  Before, things would rush by so fast you couldn't always grab each subtle nuance.  This time out the songwriting quality is much more obvious because you have time to hear the details.

The band still has an obvious debt to the gravel throated, Leatherface style of punk rock.  But, like Leatherface, The Phoenix Foundation has become more confident in their craft.  Closer is a really outstanding record.  If there's one complaint I have, I just wish it was even longer.

The Phoenix Foundation - Closer:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Red Dons - Genocide 7" - Red Vinyl (/150)

Untitled

Man In Decline (2017)

I'd be hard pressed to name a band that has been more consistently great over the past ten years than Red Dons.  While they never seem to get the sort of accolades or attention that I think they deserve, this is a band that is incapable of not churning out a hit record every time.  

Red Dons have been a bit quiet since the release of their 2015 album, The Dead Hand of Tradition.  Apparently they've been hiding and writing masterpieces.  Side A of this 7" kicks off with "Genocide."  The band once again shows their mastery of dark, downstroke heavy punk rock that still manages to hide incredible pop hooks.  Hot Snakes may be downstroke warlords, but Red Dons surely have a fiefdom of their own.

B side "Letters" is just as great with a jangly guitar tone that still manages to sound kind of sinister, yet retains the sort of catchiness you'd expect to find in a much more lighthearted band.  There's something really special about this group and I sure hope that this 7" is a precursor to a new album.  That's something I'd pick up on day one.

Red Dons - Genocide 7":

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Blues Brothers - Rubber Biscuit 7"

Untitled

Atlantic (1978)

"Rubber Biscuit" was the first favorite song I ever had.  I have a book that my parents had gotten for me when I was four years old.  It's one of those books where the kid fills in the blanks about stuff they like.  What's your favorite color? What do you want to be when you grow up? That kind of thing.  In the section that says What is your favorite song?  My answer was "Bow Bow Bow."  That's what I first thought "Rubber Biscuit" was called at my youngest due to the chorus.

It was probably the fast pace and the gibberish lyrics that hooked me as a four year old, but there's still something pretty exciting about this song thirty seven years later.  The band has this irrepressible energy that just exudes through the song. The vocals, while still gibberish, have a melody to them despite their rapid fire delivery that always gets me nodding along.  I can't really explain it, there's just something magical about this song.

The B side on this 7" is "B Movie Box Car Blues."  This wasn't one of my favorites off of Briefcase Full of Blues as a kid, but that's somewhat misleading as I've always loved every single song off that record.  But what I can say is that "B Movie" has grown on me even more over the years.  It's slinky lead guitar riff, story telling vocals and the up tempo instrumental outro are all something to behold.  It's another perfect song in the Blues Brothers catalog.

Unfortunately this, my favorite Blues Brothers song, was never released in any country with a picture sleeve that I was able to find.  I really wish one had been made as it feels a little naked in the collection without one.  It's not alone, of course, and someday I hope it finds a more permanent home in the jukebox currently sitting in my garage that I'm not able to use right now.  

The Blues Brothers - "Rubber Biscuit":

The Blues Brothers - "B Movie Box Car Blues":

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Radiation Risks - Headless Horseman Flexi

Untitled

Feral Kid (2017)

This is the first time I've been sent a flexi to review since I started up this website.  Right away, that stood out.  Plus, while I can't say I like the artwork, it's definitely colorful and attention grabbing.

I reviewed another Radiation Risks 7" earlier in the year and while I do like the songs on this new flexi more than the older 7", I still can't go so far as to say I like this band.  But I don't dislike them.  It's complicated.  I like the music quite a bit.  It's fast and upbeat with jangly guitar, fun chord progressions and pretty decent hooks.  I find my head bobbing along when I listen to it and in particular I just love the guitar tone they achieved with this recording.  They should bottle that stuff.

By only hang up is that I'm not really partial to the singer.  Though, again, it's a big improvement from the last 7".  I still think the band as a whole would benefit from some more melody in the vocals and a less ferocious delivery.  This singer kind of feels like he's still trying to transition from a hardcore band into whatever Radiation Risks is turning into.  The progression is happening and change is obvious; these are much better songs.  But, i don't think that the band is there yet.  If they truly embraced the pop songs that they're writing, I think they could be great.

Radiation Risks - Headless Horseman Flexi:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Golden Boys - Better Than Good Times LP - White Vinyl

Untitled

12XU (2017)

It's been five years since the last Golden Boys record.  While I did listen to Dirty Fingernails quite a bit when it first came out in 2012, I can't say it's been one that I've gone back too all that often over the last few years.  When I received an email alerting me that Better Than Good Times had been released, I hesitated for a moment, but decided to take the plunge and order it.  I'm still looking for that blow away album of 2017.  Better Than Good Times isn't it, but it's a pretty solid record and likely an improvement from Dirty Fingernails.

The Golden Boys play a somewhat rustic version of electric guitar rock and roll.  I wouldn't go so far as to say they lean country, but you can hear just a bit of twang and it tinges most of the songs on this record.  Luckily, the songs also have pretty good pop rock hooks that help move things along and keep the album interesting to me.

I think the album is most successful when the band picks up the pace like they do on "Lonely Girls" and the title track "Better Than Good Times."  This is where they start sounding like prime era Goodnight Loving to me, which is always a good thing.  When The Golden Boys slow things down. the songs are still pretty good, but they just don't reach the heights of the quicker ones.  Better Than Good Times is good times, but I'm not sure it's better than good times.  It's kind of the definition of a good, solid record.  A fun listen and one I recommend checking out, but it isn't the the record I'm looking for to take over my best of 2017 list.

The Golden Boys - Better Than Good Times: