Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wonk Unit - Pwoison Idea, Feel The Wonkness LP - Green Vinyl (/100)

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Drunken Sailor (2015)

Before I say anything about Wonk Unit, an extra special thanks to the Drunken Sailor himself who sold me what I believe was the very last copy of this record on green vinyl after I dragged my feet on buying this one.  I'd be kicking myself if I had missed out on the colored vinyl entirely as this is a hell of a record.

Wonk Unit has been kicking around for a few years now.  They've been on my radar for a bit, having put out a few CDs (this LP is actually made up of songs culled from these CDs).  They were a band that I just never bought anything by for some reason.  All the key selling points were there for me.  Duncan Redmonds from Snuff drums for them at times, the main guy Alex was in a band called The Flying Medallions (I have a split 7" of theirs with China Drum) and lots of people whose taste in UK punk I respect have said great things about them.  Maybe it's an aversion to CDs or maybe it's not wanting to pay those postage fees from the UK, but I can tell you I waited far to long to buy a record by Wonk Unit.

While I did expect to like the Snuff style, catchy punk rock songs like "Guts" and "Lewisham," I was not prepared for how much I would like the songs that stray from that formula.  There are several songs that are built off of completely different styles than tradition UK melodic punk.  "Horses" is a slower, borderline plodding song with a simple kick/snare drum beat and incredible sounding string (cello maybe?) accompaniment.  Then there's the primarily acoustic "You Married A Tortured Genius."  You might get some weird looks buy saying this, but it's just a beautiful song with more strings and just the right amount of screaming.

So it goes across the whole album.  Killer song after killer song.  It's one of those records that I cannot recommend highly enough.  But now there's the question, does this qualify as a record you could put on an album of the year list?  It's technically a compilation of previously released material, but I hadn't heard any of it before.  So begins the debate.

Wonk Unit - Pwoison Idea, Feel The Wonkness LP:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Barreracudas - Promises, Promises 7"

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Oops Baby (2014)

This isn't the most timely of reviews as this 7" was released nearly a year ago, but I finally picked it up when I ordered the new Barreracudas LP that just came out.  Barreracudas are another refugee from the Douchemaster records roster.  I really miss that label, they had quite the knack for putting out records that I loved.

This 7" was meant as a teaser for the band's new full length.  The A-Side "Promises" is from the album and is a bouncy, catchy song with a sing along chorus.  I don't think that lyrically it's best song I've ever heard from the band, but if they was looking for an early 60's pop throwback they definitely hit the mark.

On the flip side is "Young & Dumb."  This song is exclusive to the 7" and I actually like it more than "Promises."  The verse is built over a three chord guitar riff with a frantically pounded keyboard part in the background.  The whole song drops down to vocals and a slower drum beat as the song builds to the chorus.  Once that chorus hits though, this song just soars.  Really great stuff.  

As I mentioned, I picked up this 7" when I ordered the band's new album, so I'll be reviewing that pretty soon as well.

Barreracudas - Promises, Promises 7":

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Baby Shakes - She's A Star 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/150)

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Surfin' Ki / Record Shop Base (2015)

I will admit to being slightly less trigger happy about buying some records immediately these days.  It's getting tougher and tougher to justify sending big chunks of money on single 7"s.  When this Baby Shakes 7" was announced, I could only find it from the label in Europe that co-released it.  They did two different sleeves and I preferred the Japanese style one.  Unfortunately to have it shipped to America it would have made this 7" something like $12.  So, as much as it pained me, I had to pass and wait for it to pop up in an American distro.

Unfortunately that never happened (that I saw anyway) and the first pressing went out of print.  Luckily, when Baby Shakes put their new full length on sale they also made this 7" available through their webstore.  Sure, it is the second pressing on yellow vinyl, but at least I was able to get the cool Japanese style sleeve.  This is another fun Baby Shakes 7".  The A-Side "She's A Star" is also on their new full length, but the B-side "Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Your Love" is exclusive to this 7".

Baby Shakes play jangly, Rickenbacker fueled guitar pop that's equal parts 60's girl group and current day power pop supergroup. The vocal harmonies completely sell me on this band and I'm thrilled they're back with some new records.  I have the new full length on tap as well, so look for a review of that sooner than later.

Baby Shakes - "She's A Star":

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Elmerhassel - Self Analysis - Discography Part 2 CD

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Boss Tuneage (2015)

Last week I wrote about part one of the fantastic Elmerhassel discography reissue CD set from Boss Tuneage.  You had to figure part two wasn't far behind, so here we go.  Self Analysis contains the songs from the John Wark LP, the Pride In Ipswitch 7", a song from a split 7" with Six Pack, a comp song and their previously unreleased first demo from 1991.

Like the first part, this second CD is just crammed absolutely full of hit songs.  In particular, just about everything from the John Wark LP is so great.  Not being a Soccer/football fan, the two "Ipswitch (Get That Goal)" songs are a little bit lost on me, but I'm sure they make more sense in the context of the time they were released.  If forced to pick, I probably prefer the first of these two discography CDs, but there is no shortage of Senseless Things/Midway Still style melodic punk from the UK on part two.

Really, there's just no way you only buy one of these two CDs.  You have to get them both.  There is just way too much great music on these to pass up.  Elmerhassel may not be a household name in the UK and in America probably even fewer people are probably familiar with them, but this is a band that deserves a lot more attention than they get.  I'm thrilled Boss Tuneage reissued all of these classic songs.  Now who's going to step up and make the 4xLP vinyl version?

Elmerhassel - "Apology & Explanation":

Elmerhassel - "Positives":

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Plow United / The Scandals - Split 7" - White Vinyl (/100)

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Artistic Integrity (2015)

Another day, another Plow United 7".  I'm not sure that's how the old saying goes, but I would be totally fine if it was.  When a band is consistently cranking out so many great songs, you'll never hear me complain about new records to pick up.  This time, Plow is paired with The Scandals.  They're a band I've never really heard of prior to listening to this record.  Despite their name, I can confirm that The Scandals are not a ska band.

This 7" is arranged with a song by each band on each side as opposed to each band taking a side.  I've never been a big fan of that, so I'm going to lump the songs back together for the purpose of this review.  Plow United gives two more killers.  "Coda" starts off with the band's two thousand mile an hour drum and guitar attack.  The song races through the chorus and then slows down and hits that perfectly timed hook for a gigantic chorus.  So, so great.  "I'm Onto You" is a bit more reserved, but every bit as catchy.  It's got a very slight greaser vibe to it and reminds me a bit of early Social Distortion.  Just a bit.

The Scandals turn in two songs.  "Second Thought" starts off with some Against Me sounding vocals over a light guitar riff intro.  The songs eventually builds into an upbeat rocker and it's a pretty fun song."Sirens" also starts out with just guitar and vocals before the rest of the band kicks in, though they get to things a bit quicker on this one.  It's solid mid tempo punk rock and the Against Me vibe is even stronger on this one, especially in the vocals.  Pretty catchy and a good listen.  It never crosses into being a truly great song, but I have no complaints.

As I've said before, I'll buy any Plow United split 7" regardless of the other band.  Having that other band be pretty good is just a nice bonus.

Plow United / The Scandals - Split 7":

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sonny Vincent And Rocket From The Crypt - Vintage Piss LP

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Swami (2015)

It was interesting to see that this record was suddenly for sale via the mighty Swami records as I had picked up a version of it as an import from Germany quite a few years ago.  Though I realize it never came out in the US, I was still somewhat surprised it was been reissued all these years later.  Let me assure you this is a pretty essential pick up even if you have the other version.

For starters there's 2 extra songs.  Don't get me wrong, they're both pretty great and I'm happy to have them on this album, but the real highlight of this reissue is that it has been remixed, remastered and re-whatever else it is they did to make this album sound so much better than the original version.  It sounds so much fuller and the guitars are significantly sharper and more caustic than ever before.  The bass and drumming is much meatier than the prior version and while I won't quite say it sounds like a whole new record, the difference in fidelity between the two versions is pretty remarkable.  

The songs themselves are the kind of no nonsense punk rock that Sonny Vincent has been cranking out since his time with the Testors.  Short, sweet and deceptively catchy.  There's a lot to love on this album, but for me, the highlight is "It's Not Your Fault."  It could easily be a lost Sultans song with its sing along chorus and stop/start guitar riff.

If you don't already have this, it's worth picking up.  If you already have the original German version, it's still worth picking up.  Until I actually listened to this record I though I was just buying another variant to keep my Rocket From The Crypt collection complete.  Turns out I needed this more than I knew.

Sonny Vincent And Rocket From The Crypt - "It's Not Your Fault":

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Elmerhassel - Entertainment Value - Discography Part 1 CD

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Boss Tuneage (2015)

Everyone should stand up and applaud the actions of Boss Tuneage records.  The fact that they stepped in and blessed this world with a two part Elmerhassel discography is the sort of thing that deserves having a statue erected in their honor.  This is the very definition of a band that could have just fallen through the cracks and been forgotten.  I never had much in the way of Elmerhassel records apart from some comps and a 7", so even I hadn't given them much thought until I saw that these discography CDs had come out.  Getting to listen to all of their songs compiled together, I've really gained an appreciation for just how great they were and how seriously they've been overlooked.

The first volume of this CD set contains the Honour Your Partners mini LP, The Billyous LP, a 7" and 2 compilation appearances.  Melodic punk is probably the best genre definer if you really need one for Elmerhassel, and they're just as good as the best bands playing this sort of thing.  I immediately think of other UK bands of the era.  You can hear a bit of Mega City Four, a little Senseless Things and some Midway Still churned in for good measure.  The pop is every bit as catchy as any of those aforementioned bands and Elmerhassel really had an incredible knack for constructing some seriously catchy tunes.

The only thing, and really this is the only thing, is that there are a handful of cover songs I'm not as into.  I don't really need to hear another cover of "Big Yellow Taxi" at this point, but I will cut them some slack as it was released in 1992 after all.  If you have even the most fleeting interest in 1990's UK punk rock, this is absolutely essential.  Snuff and Leatherface made the biggest name for themselves in the US, but there are a whole pile of other great bands that came out of that time.  Elmerhassel sits very much at the top of that pile.

Elmerhassel - Entertainment Value Volume 1 (2 Songs):

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Clearance - Catalogue Nos. Cassette (/150)

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Unsatisfied (2014)

Since I had tweeted about the preorder for Clearance's debut full length yesterday, I figured it was about time I reviewed this cassette.  I had been holding off on it as I had reviewed the two 7"s that comprise the bulk of it somewhat recently, but there's no time like the present to alert everyone again about this amazing band.

Clearance are playing full on 1990's Pavement inspired indie rock.  Not only would I have loved this when I was in collage, I love it even more now since it's such a refreshing change of pace from most of the current bands putting out music these days.  Maybe I'm somewhat stuck in the past, perhaps I have a misplaced reverence for the 1990's, but as far as music goes, I'm hard pressed to think of a better time to have been buying records.

As I mentioned earlier, most of this cassette was previously released as two killer 7"s.  Nine of the fourteen songs, if you're keeping track.  But the other five songs are also simply outstanding and rebuying a few songs just to get these new ones is completely worth it, even on cassette.  I'll go one step further, buying this whole cassette is worth it just for the soon-to-be classic "Carte Blanche."

If you like your indie rock to be no frills, straight ahead rock and roll, if you don't need any electronica swirls or other studio tricks gumming up the gears and if you just want to listen to a flat out great band, give this Clearance cassette a whirl.  And then after you're blown away, go preorder their full length.  

Clearance - Catalogue Nos.:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

V/A - Bullshit Detector CD

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Snuffy Smile (1997)

At this point, surely you understand my love for the label Snuffy Smile (or as they're now known Snuffy Smiles).  They have released so many records that I simply adore and I've tried to make it my goal to own every record they've ever put out.  I'm doing pretty well with 7"s and I believe that collection is complete for the moment, but I am still missing a fair amount of CDs that they released.  Well, you can scratch one off the list and it's a doozy.  I've been looking for this CD for at least 15 years, probably a bit longer.

This compilation contains two songs each by seven different Japanese bands.  Some of my very favorites are represented as Blew, Lovemen and Navel are all featured.  A big bonus for me are two songs I didn't have from the band Middishade.  I've always really felt that this is a band that never got their due, having only a split 7" with International Jet Set and a split CD with Snatcher in their discography.  So having two new songs from them is a real treat.

The absolute highlight for me and the reason I've been looking for this CD for so long are the two Cigaretteman songs.  Cigaretteman has long been one of my absolute favorite Japanese bands.  The way they weave together their male and female singers and the flat out incredible songs they write just cannot be beat.  Again, a band with only some 7"s and compilation appearances to their name, I've been trying to complete their discography for quite some time.  I think there's a two demos of theirs that I don't have, but I believe I now have just about everything they've officially released.  I'll have to double check on that.

One day I hope to finally make it to Japan so I can dig through their record stores to try to complete all of my Japanese band and label connections.  For now, it's nice to have a small victory and one less record to dig for.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Radioactivity - Silent Kill LP - Clear Vinyl (/500)

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Dirtnap (2015)

Over the past 10 years or so, Jeff Burke has become one of my favorite songwriters and easily one of the most reliable people out there when it comes to putting out records that I like.  I became a fan when the Marked Men record On The Outside came out and watching his bands gain popularity since that moment has been a really wonderful thing to see.  The clear vinyl version of this record sold out in about a day and Dirtnap did 500 copies of that version.  While I realize those aren't the kind of numbers that will be impressive for gigantic bands, to me, that sounds like a good amount of records for a punk band from Texas to be selling.

Silent Kill is the second Radioactivity full length.  Like it's predecessor, it builds on a foundation of fast downstroke heavy guitar, extremely dynamic chord changes and Jeff's howling in the wind vocals.  Unlike the first Radioactivity full length, there's more slower songs (well slow in comparison anyway) that showcase a different side Radioactivity.  These songs aren't some new weird maturation process or anything, they are still cut from the same cloth as the two thousand mile an hour rippers, but they give the album more depth and show that Jeff doesn't only rely on lightning quick guitar to build a catchy hook.

Silent Kill is every bit as great as the first self titled Radioactivity album.  You can hold it right up next to the best Marked Men records and still be impressed.  Sometimes I think the drumming could use a little more flair, it has something of a metronome quality to it, but these songs are just so expertly crafted it is impossible to not have them lodged into your brain all day long after you've had a listen.

Radioactivity - Silent Kill LP:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Basement Benders - Native Tongues 7"

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Drunken Sailor / Dead Broke (2015)

Though I do get some records sent to me to review, I can't say I'm on many record labels proper review lists.  That's not a complaint, fish don't come much smaller than me and the cost of sending out a record probably makes it an unsound business practice.  What I love though, is when I place an order for some records from one of these great labels and they toss in some extra stuff I didn't order to review.  

Basement Benders is one of these records that came packed in with an order from Drunken Sailor.  While I can't say that I really love this, it's still pretty good and I can see other people liking it more than I do.  The band is playing scrappy punk with ragged guitars that hang out on the treble side of the sound spectrum.  The A side contains the catchier of the songs and I tend to favor those, "Native Tongues" being the real standout.  On the B side, "Train Song" keeps the momentum moving along, but things slow down a little bit with "Voices."  I'm not as instantly drawn to those two as they are not as obviously catchy as the songs on the flip, but again, they're totally fine.

I think what really holds this back for me is the vocals.  It sounds like they have several singers, but none of them really stick with me.  I'm am notoriously fussy about vocals and the slightest thing can give me pause at times.  Still, it's a decent little 7" and I think there are a lot of people out there that will probably dig it even more than me.

Basement Benders - Native Toungues 7":

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Spraynard - Mable LP - Orange w/ Splatter Vinyl (/200)

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Jade Tree (2015)

Can you imagine buying a record on Jade Tree in 2015? I think the last thing I bought from them was probably the third Promise Ring album back in the 90's.  Anyway, it's good to see them with some skin in the game again.  Maybe not a label I immediately flock to, but the sense of familiarity you get with old school labels still kicking around is a nice one.

Mable is the third album from Spraynard, though the first two came out so long ago, they predate this website.  If you really sniff around you can find a couple of two sentence write ups of them from when I used to just post pictures of records on Flickr.  In everything I've written about this band, I compared Spraynard to Iron Chic or RVIVR.  I still think those comparisons hold up pretty well, especially when it comes to the vocal similarities to Iron Chic.  Both bands are very much playing a heart on your sleeve, fist in the air style of big anthem punk rock.

For this album in particular, I think Spraynard has really upped the ante with catchy choruses and big hooks.  Several songs venture into a poppier territory that is usually reserved for bands like Hospital Job.  Spraynard is right at home in this element and they've got a few corkers throughout Mable.  While I'll never contend that Spraynard is a can't miss band or that they are reinventing the wheel, Mable is a really fun record and likely the best thing they've released to date.  If you're looking for something to throw on in the car and scream along to at the top of your lungs, this may be the perfect record for you.

Spraynard - Mable LP:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Mandates - In The Back Of Your Heart LP

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Hosehead / Taken By Surprise (2015)

This is the third of a three pack of records I picked up from Hosehead records.  They're developing quite the back catalog over there and this latest batch were all very strong releases.  The Mandates are a band that I've seen kicking around for a little while, though this is the first record of theirs that I've picked up.  If you want to hear some upbeat and poppy garage rock, it's going to be a smart pickup for you.

I immediately think of other bands playing similar styles of music when listening to this album.  You can hear similarities to Crusaders of Love, The Cry and Missing Monuments.  While The Mandates have crafted a supremely catchy record, I wouldn't say that it stands head and shoulders over a band like Crusaders of Love or The Cry.  They're no worse either, but I do tend to feel like I've heard this sort of thing before when spinning In The Back Of Your Heart.

One thing you absolutely cannot take away from The Mandates is the energy and enthusiasm that they've poured into these songs.  They all have an infectious party vibe to them and it's very easy to get sucked into the album.  Even though the critical part of my brain thinks I've heard similar ideas before, that doesn't stop me from tapping my toe or nodding along to the rock and roll music.

The Mandates - In The Back Of Your Heart LP:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Marvelous Mark - Bite Me 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)

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Drunken Sailor (2015)

Marvelous Darlings haven't had any records out in a few years, but for a several year run they released some of my absolute favorite 7"s.  The compilation of those records, Single Life, is a record I still spin all the time.  The fact that they split up still bums me out on a semi regular basis.  Ben Cook is still busy playing in Fucked Up and Young Governor, but this is the first record by Marvelous Mark that I've been able to grab.

It's not the first record he's released.  That honor goes to a lathe cut 7" put out by Ben Cook's label that I was too cheap to buy.  Luckily the A side of that record is the lead off song on this new 7".  "Bite Me" may not qualify as Marvelous Darlings 2.0, but it's actually a really great guitar pop song that reminds me a lot of early Ash.  Sure, maybe not as polished, but the hooks and melodies are still there.

"Waiting" keeps up that mid tempo motif with a positively Doughboys-esque rocker.  Again, I can't say it sounds much like the Marvelous Darlings did, but this is a great song and my favorite on the 7".  The B side wraps up with the frantic "I'm Freaking Out."  It's probably the song that sounds closest to Mark's prior band as it's much faster than the prior two, but again this is a sound much more at home with the mid 90's Senseless Things/Doughboys crowd.

It's a funny thing, I've missed the Marvelous Darlings so much, you'd think I'd be pretty bummed that the songs on this record really don't sound much like that.  Luckily, Mark has tapped into another vein of music that is right up my alley.  If you are into big 90's guitars and catchy songs, you'll be hard pressed to find a better 7" than this.

Marvelous Mark - Bite Me 7":

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Ballantynes - Dark Drives, Life Signs LP

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La Ti Da (2015)

If you want to point to a specific record that I have been waiting for over the last few years, the debut full length from The Ballantynes would be awfully high on my list.  Ever since I received their second 7" as part of a singles club, I have been completely hooked on this band.  I've bought every thing they've released the moment it came out and there was a zero percent chance that I would treat their full length any different.

The Ballantynes are very obvious disciples of the Stax and Motown catalogs.  They've created a powerhouse of a band with alternating deep, soulful male vocals and soaked in harmony female vocals.  This allows them to pay homage to the stylings of Otis Redding in one song and then seamlessly slide into the next track that will touch on the hallmarks of Carla Thomas.  Everything is just such a joy to listen to with the warm bass tones and economical drumming laying down the foundation that drives each number.  As this foundation is accented with touches of guitar, horns and organ, the songs take shape and simply explode with life.

I'll admit to being partial to the faster paced songs like "PMA," "My Place, Your Town" and "Argent."  That being said, when The Ballantynes really slow things down and go for the throat with tracks like "Ghosts" or "Cropper" the results are just as exciting.  Every time I listen to this album all I can think about is how much fun it probably is at a live show of theirs.  The band is based in Canada, but I really hope they end up coming down my way to play some shows now that this album is out.

Dark Drives, Life Signs is such a strange beast in 2015 and I mean that in the absolute best possible way.  You're just not going to find many bands playing such rich soulful music these days.  I guess it's just not fashionable, but the talent and musicianship that went into this record is at a much higher level than so much that comes out these days.  I couldn't possibly recommend this album along with all of the band's preceding singles highly enough.

The Ballantynes - Dark Drives, Life Signs:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Boilerman - S/T 10" - Clear Vinyl (/500)

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86'd / Waterslide / Crapoulet (2015)

I've let the review copies of records pile up over here a little bit lately.  Not that it's a very large pile or anything and it's actually extremely helpful as they give me something to write about during these lean summer times.  So, I guess what I'm saying is that if you've ever considered sending me something to review, now is a pretty good time to do that.

Back to the point, this self titled Boilerman 10" arrived in the mail recently and I was pretty excited about it.  They're a band that I had heard a little bit about so they were already on my radar, at least peripherally.  The 10" itself is a mixed bag for me.  It's pretty punk rock with razor blades guitars and pounding drums.  The vocals can get a little too shouty at times for my personal taste, but when the band is hitting that sweet spot, everything comes together nicely.

In particular, I prefer the poppier songs on this 10" like "II" and "Weak Weak." I'm less enthusiastic about the harsher, angrier ones like bookends "I" and "VI."  In general, it's a pretty fun little one sided 10".  The songs are short and fast and have moments of being pretty good.  I'd likely look into their next release, especially if someone had the kind heart to send it my way to review.

Boilerman - S/T 10":

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sad Ideas - Clockwise 7"

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I Want My Daddy's Records (1997)

While I do get the occasional record sent to review, this is still a first for me.  Typically if I do get something, it's a somewhat new release. The record is usually one that has come out in the last year or so at least.  This is the first time I've been sent an old record strictly for the purpose of reviewing.  That's fine as this website is about records I buy, not just new releases.  It was sent to me by a friend of some of the people that were in this mid 90's band.

Clockwise is a four song 7" that has its highs and its lows, but they certainly lead off with their best song "Too Bad Hotshot."  It's a little bit pop punk, but also has some post hardcore leaning vibes.  It was recorded in 1996, but it actually sounds like it could have been done even earlier.  My ears hear an early 1990's Crimpshrine type thing going on a little (which I do realize would not be the first band to come to mind if you were thinking of a band with post hardcore leanings).

"My Fault" marks the first appearance of the ultra fast galloping drum beat.  That's kind of a pet peeve of mine and this song instantly brings to mind bands like Bigwig or some of the other 2nd generation NOFX inspired bands of the time.  "Clockwise" has a strong and catchy verse and a pretty big chorus, but they do jump into another ill advised galloping drum beat part in the middle that I don't really get.  Lastly there is "Cameron Hair" which really suffers the most from odd mixing.  The snare drum is the only thing you can really hear clearly.  Everything else kind of sounds like it was recorded in a different room than the one the microphone was in.

It was interesting listening to a band like this with nearly 20 years of time having past before the record made its way to me.  I certainly wouldn't turn down anyone else that wants to send me an older record to check out, but as far as Sad Idea goes, "Too Bad Hotshot" is really the song to check out.  The rest didn't really hit me.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zaga Zaga - 2 Songs Demo + 4 Songs EP 7"

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Kus Kus /Lifeisafunnything / Shalush Cult (2015)

I received this record to review in the same package that contained that incredible new Sweatshop Boys 7" a few weeks back.  Because of how good that record was, I had high hopes that Zaga Zaga would follow suit.  My first waring that this might not be up my alley was when I looked at the record and saw that they had crammed six songs on to this 7".  Immediately I thought there was a change that could mean shouty hardcore.  Yep, I was right.

What we have here is six fast, screaming hardcore blasts.  I can't figure out most of the lyrics, but boy do they sound angry.  I hear some swearing here and there and in general all six songs just tear by with little difference between them.  They're all pretty much a loud blast of crazy guitar, the main singer dude screaming something in a deeper growl and then the other singer dude responding with a higher pitched screaming call back.  I'm not sure exactly what they're so angry about, but judging from the songs titles they're not particularly keen on dancers, a dog, food and a band.

Hardcore is just not my thing.  It's difficult for me to really enjoy something that is so lean on melody.  As far as hardcore goes, I guess this is fine.   As far as my listening habits go, I can't imagine playing this one again.

Zaga Zaga - 2 Songs Demo + 4 Songs EP 7"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rocket From The Crypt - Gold 7" - Gold Vinyl, "No Funk" Version (#7 of 12)

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Drunken Fish (1992)

So yeah, fellow Rocket From The Crypt fans who spend a lot of time on eBay, it was me.  I'm the one that picked this up for $325.  I haven't dropped that much scratch on a single record in a really long time, but at this point there aren't many Rocket From The Crypt records I don't already have squirreled away in the archive.

This is the third variant of the Gold 7".  The normal one was limited to 500 copies.  There were also a version that came packaged with some plastic beads. The rumor has always been about 50 of these were released.  This final version was limited to only twelve copies and were hand numbered as being "No Funk."  This one that I grabbed is number seven.  It has a completely different sleeve with the words "There will be no funk in outer space" printed on the cover.  

I had heard rumors of this version for quite some time, but for years there wasn't any real proof that it actually existed.  A picture of it finally ended up popping up on the John Pette Rocket discography page, so the hunt was on once that happened.  I'm actually kind of surprised one turned up, I didn't think I'd ever have the chance to buy it.  Oh, and don't worry, I didn't actually open it.  I grabbed the record out of one of my other copies to take a picture of.

The song itself isn't even one of my favorites.  "Gold" is an MC5 cover and is a noisy, shouting mess of a song.  There's a certain charm to it and I do kind of miss those early Rocket From The Crypt days when they were spitting out all sorts of off beat, crazy noise.  Not that I have any issue at all with the non-stop hit machine they turned into, but I think some people overlook that early 1990's period of theirs.  Some pretty creative stuff going on.

It's hard to express why I feel compelled to spend $325 on a record that I already have two versions of.  I assume it's some sort of sickness, but I just have this thing about having a complete collection.  Anyone who has followed the Rocket From The Crypt discography will know that trying to complete this collection is a foolhardy task.  There are so many weirdo variations and errors and other assorted things keeping the collectors always searching, but I'm getting closer.  I think (and this is only true until the next bizarre variant is discovered) that I only have one more Rocket From The Crypt 7" left to find.  So as I've said a few times, if you have a lead on the Pure Genius 7" on red vinyl, please let me know.  I'll happily overpay for it.

Rocket From The Crypt - "Gold":

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ИO​/​/​/​sé - S/T LP - Orange Vinyl (/100)

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Rotten To The Core/Challenge The Throne (2012)

While it's happened very few times, a big time perk of running this website is when someone gets in touch with me about a record I'm looking for that I can't find.  Have a gander at my wants list some time.  It's not completely up to date, but maybe you've got something on there that I'm looking for.

When I originally wrote about the first ИO​/​/​/​sé record I wasn't able to track down the colored vinyl version.  I did manage to find the much more difficult to obtain test pressing of it however.  I had mentioned that I don't collect test pressings and would happily trade it away for the normal colored vinyl version.

Enter my friend in records Norm (who incidentally has the ONE Rocket From The Crypt 7" that I still need, so you should post in the comments section below about how he should sell or trade that to me).  Norm got in touch, asked for a swap and had this recorded headed my way awfully quick.  A gentleman and a scholar.  Now, about that red vinyl 7"...

Anyway, this record is still every bit as great as it was the moment I first heard it.  ИO​/​/​/​sé manages to come off as a weird concoction of The Marked Men, Leatherface and Hot Snakes.  Those are some pretty top tier comparison points, but ИO​/​/​/​sé really does manage to incorporate elements of each to create some amazing music.   If you missed this album the first time around, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  They have a newer album that recently came out and it is also great, but their debut is in rarified territory.  It's just that good.

ИO​/​/​/​sé - S/T LP:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dead Heavens - History In My Hands 7"

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Thrill Me (2015)

Dead Heavens is a new band fronted by Walter Schreifels of Gorilla Biscuits/Quicksand/Rival Schools fame.  I can't say I was ever all that big of a fan of any of those other bands.  In particular, this guy I used to work with played that first Rival Schools record every day for about a 2 year period, so I kind of hate that one to be totally honest.  Based on their pedigree, I'm not really sure why I picked up this Dead Heavens 7", but when you start to trust a record label sometimes you take some chances.  

I'm actually pretty happy with this 7".  "History In My Hands" has a warm, slightly distorted guitar sound.  Cleaner than you'd expect, it's a laid back, kind of poppy song.  There's a slight 60's influence and I absolutely hear a little of quieter Nirvana in the verse.  There's a somewhat goofy guitar solo that sounds like something out of a 70's rock album, but it's brief and doesn't disrupt the song.

"36 Chambers" is a slower song and it leans on heavier riffs.  The vocals are the star of this as they cut through the distorted muck and keep everything on track.  There's a fair amount of 70's guitar wanking on this one and I don't like it quite as much as the A-side, but it's still a pretty decent song.

Considering I'm not usually a fan of Walter Schreifels' other bands, it might be something of a surprise that I like this 7" as much as I do.  I wish I had gotten it in time to snag the limited blue vinyl version and I'd definitely check out a full length if they release one.  I'm actually curious what fan's of Walter's other bands think of this.  Let me know.

Dead Heavens - History In My Hands 7":

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nervous Talk - S/T LP

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Hosehead (2015)

2015 has been a somewhat disappointing year for new records in my opinion.  While there has been no shortage of good records, the great ones have been fewer and further between. I wouldn't go so far as to put Nervous Talk into the conversation for the best record of 2015, but there is no argument that their debut falls firmly in the the great records category.

Throughout this record, Nervous Talk are throwing out some pretty incredible guitar riffs.  That's my absolute favorite part of this record, sitting back and watching where the next chord progression is going to veer off to.  It's a very poppy and catchy record, but it's also something of am master class in garage rock guitar work.  You've got some searing leads peppered in here and there, but for the most part this is an album all about the main guitar riff.

Vocals have a sheen of static over them, but it works in a similar way as the Marked Men.  It gives the singing something of an otherworldly quality, but I never feel like the production is being used to hide something. From the very second that rocking lead guitar on album opener "Different Person" kicks in to fleeting final moments of laid back closer "Way To Go" Nervous Talk has delivered an album full of amazing power pop moments.  The songs are always catchy, but there's just enough garage buzz to keep you guessing.  

Nervous Talk - S/T LP:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Johns - Grift Marks LP

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Peterwalkee (2015)

Let me tell you, I sure to appreciate it when someone sends me a record to review.  When they go that extra mile and actually send me a full album, that just makes it better.  The real cherry on top is when said record is actually pretty good.  This Johns album fulfills all of the above mentioned criteria.

I'm not going to say Grift Marks is a total home run, instant classic sort of a record.  There are a few songs sprinkled throughout that don't really do it for me.  These tend to be the slower ones where the vocals get a bit more shouty than I like, such as on "Thrust" and "The Blurry Tongue."  I was never much of a hardcore guy, so when things start to take a turn in that direction, I tend to tune out a bit.

That being said, a solid chunk of this record is really strong.  Johns are playing a darker guitar pop.  I immediately think of bands like The Estranged or Nervosas when this is spinning.  The guitar is dark and murky with a tendency to downstroke.  The vocals have a little bit of static and definitely fall in the same range as what The Estranged dabbles in.  They never quite hit that revered Red Dons territory on this record, but I can certainly see fans of all three bands I've mentioned being interested in Johns.  Probably worth a listen below.

Johns - Grift Marks LP:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Jawbox - Tools & Chrome 7" - Clear Vinyl (/1000)

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Dischord / DeSoto (1990)

As I've said in the past, I overlooked Jawbox the first time around and have been playing catch up the last few years.  I've been picking up their full lengths and when I see them lying around, I try to grab the 7"s as well.  This one popped up on the Green Noise site when I was placing another order, so as usual it was the old 'add to cart' button for me.

The thing that I noticed the most about this band is that they became much more sophisticated in the way they wrote their songs in a very short amount of time.  From album to album (at least on their first three albums, I'm still waiting on the reissue of their fourth) there is tremendous growth as far as the band's sound.  That growth it also very apparent listing to this, their first 7" from 1990.

All four songs are significantly more straightforward than the band would become known for.  There's palm muted guitar into chunky riffs on "Tools & Chrome."  "Secret History" showcases some dynamic drumming with a few more varied change ups and a big chorus that kind of sneaks up on you.  When "Ballast" hits, the band is at their most upbeat with poppier vocals and lots of fun guitar riffage.  Closer "Twister" blasts out with furiously pounded drums in the verse.  That moves to a lower key transitional moment into an explosive, big, hooky chorus.

While the recording is a little rough and the band is obviously just getting their feet wet, I love this 7".  Sure it's not as complex as some of the songs that Jawbox would go on to write, but there's something to be said about a no frill, punk rock 7".

Jawbox - "Tools & Chrome":

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jacob Turnbloom - Reborn Boys 7" - Black Vinyl & Red Vinyl (/100)

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Thrill Me (2015)

While I'm doing my best to patiently wait for the new Mrs. Magician album to be released, I've been keeping up on the various other projects that everyone has been involved in.  Recently I've written about the Hideout LP, the Soaks cassette and now we're on to the new Jacob Turnbloom 7".  I picked up the limited to 100 red vinyl version as soon as it went on sale and then much to my surprise, Thrill Me sent a copy on black vinyl to me to review.  It was pretty cool to see something I was anticipating so much show up for review and the fact that this is a damn good 7" only made it better.

Right off the bat I'll point out that neither of these songs sound much like Mrs. Magician.  Jacob Turnbloom really does a great job of making this solo work stand apart from the songs normally released by his main band.  While I will certainly use Mrs. Magician as a frame of reference due to a few similar traits, don't expect a couple of songs that were just not quite good enough for the band, these are top notch.

"Reborn Boys" is built off of a repeating synth lead coupled with big, loud guitars.  There's none of the trademark Mrs. Magician reverb floating around on the guitars in this song, it's a fatter and much crunchier guitar tone.  It's a fantastic, catchy song that is further elevated by Jacob's distinct vocals.  A lot of bands can't pull off hitting those high notes, but they fit right in on this track.

"Heartbreaker" is structured a little more closely to the way that a Mrs. Magician song may sound, but again the execution and sounds created end up sounding totally different and fresh.  I actually like this song even better than the A-side.  "Heartbreaker" starts off with bass & vocals and when that clean guitar kicks in, everything comes alive.  Once again there's a little bit of 80's sounding synth providing the song with an additional layer of dynamics.

Both songs are stellar.  For me this was a must have 7" before I even listened to it, due to its connection with one of my very favorite bands.  But unlike so many other records this year, Jacob Turnbloom managed to exceed my lofty expectations.

Jacob Turnbloom - "Reborn Boys":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lKIcvBMs1M

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sweet Baby - It's A Girl 25th Anniversary Bonus 7" - Green Vinyl (/250)

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Eccentric Pop (2015)

When I reviewed the reissue of It's A Girl last week, I held off on writing about this bonus 7" that came along with it.  While it is a nice little addition to the package, it doesn't really feel like part of the album to me.  I thought it should be dealt with on its own.  

On this 7" we have two previously unreleased songs and two live recordings.  On side A you've got the two studio tracks.  "Pretty Baby" is decent enough, but the recording makes it seem kind of flat.  It's not bad or anything, but it doesn't really stand out from the pack and I can see how it didn't make the cut to end up on the album.  "Loving Every Girl In The World" starts off with some good energy built off of a pretty fun bass line, but the song as a whole is kind of average.  In particular the lyrics are awfully one dimensional. There's this odd breakdown towards the end that brings the song to a screeching halt.  Again, I can see why it wasn't on the full length.

The B side is where the two live tracks live.  I thought I read somewhere that these were taken from a recording of the band's first show, but I can't find that info again anywhere now.  I'm not totally sure, so forgive me if that's wrong information.  What I can tell you is that it sounds like something recorded at a band's first show.  "I Can't Sleep" is just guitar and vocals (and I guess a little tambourine or some other kind of shaker thing).  You can't really hear the vocals and the recording as a whole isn't very good.

One of my favorite songs on It's A Girl is "Gotta Get A Girl."  The live version here can't hold a candle to the one on the record.  Again, the recording is so bad you can't hear much of anything really.  This side of the 7" is an interesting document and certainly a fun little bonus to go along with the reissued record.  You'll never hear me argue for less bonus content, but I think this 7" would have seemed stronger with just the two unreleased tracks.  The live stuff doesn't add much.

I think it's great that Eccentric Pop went all out and even bothered to make this 7" with the extra material.  I'm sure they would have sold just as many copies of a straight reissue of It's A Girl.  That being said, these songs are more curiosities than anything else.  They're fun to listen to once or twice, but I just can't really see it being something that I'll play very often.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Soaks - S/T Cassette

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Riot House (2015)

If you read my website, you probably know how much I love the band Mrs. Magician.  Well, if I hear about one of the guys in the band having another project, I'm going to be buying that other project.  That's how this Soaks cassette ended up in my hands.  Lead by Jordan Clark, this is the band's debut release since a somewhat recent name change from Grand Tarantula.

There are surfy elements to the band, so it's not that far removed from the sort of sounds that Mrs. Magician has been dabbling in.  That's not really a spot on description of the band's overall style.  There are some songs that are much more in line with Mark Sultan-esque grimy doo wop sound while others remind me more of a King Louie/Missing Monuments garage throw back.

What the band has no shortage of is fun, catchy songs.  It's the kind of record that just screams to be popped into the tape deck of your 1989 Chevy Caprice station wagon and blasted around town with the windows rolled down.  I would love to see this album saved from cassette hell and put out on vinyl at some point.

The Soaks - The Soaks:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sweet John Bloom - Weird Prayer LP - Clear Vinyl (/200)

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Tiny Engines (2015)

There are a couple of things working against this Sweet John Bloom record.  First off is the band name.  It's not really my favorite though I'll admit to having something of an aversion to band names that are also people names (I'm looking at you Bob Tilton).  The second issue is the album leads off with arguably the weakest song on the album, "Shapeshifter."  Musically it's fine, but the singer is making some kind of weird vocal stylings.  Not a deal breaker, but not my favorite either.  That being said, if you can get past those two things this is really a hell of an album and one that I have been playing virtually non-stop since I got it.

Sweet John Bloom have done an incredible job of pulling in some 1990's indie rock influences from bands like Guided By Voices, Pavement, Archers Of Loaf and Superchunk, mashing them together and somehow coming out with a sound that's familiar, but all their own.  You're not going to listen to any songs on this album and think "Oh, that sounds like Superchunk."  But you will hear how those types of bands helped shape the songs on this album.

Weird Prayer is just chock full of chunky lead guitar riffs, punchy choruses and some really wonderful harmonies.  The songs are layered and complex, but they never feel overwritten or that any part was thrown on top for no reason.  Everything is expertly crafted and it all makes sense.  I enjoy the band most when they kick up the tempo. I dare you to throw on "Solicitor" and not want to jump around the room like an idiot. Though for that song in particular, I think it should be significantly longer than it is.  It's way too much goodness to cram into a minute and twenty three seconds.  It could be 3 times as long and I'd only love it more.

There's so many other great moments on this record.  "Night Thing" will just blow your speakers off the wall with it's guitar gymnastics and laid back vocals.  The ever so slight country twang on "New Identity Crisis" is a nice mid album change of pace and the twitchy guitar work in "Born Witch" elevates that song to something really special.

Weird Prayer is one of the best surprises I've come across in a while and is sitting awfully high on my tentative best albums of the year list.  Absolutely worth checking out.  

Sweet John Bloom - Weird Prayer LP:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sweet Baby - It's A Girl LP - Pink Vinyl (/250)

Untitled

Eccentric Pop (2015, Reissue)

Punk rock vinyl reissues are in full swing these days.  I can't say I mind too much.  Sure there are some that have been cluttering up the pressing plants, but then you'll get a reissue that helps you pick out a long out of print record for a pretty cheap price.  I've been eyeing up the Sweet Baby album for quite some times.  I keep a casual eye on eBay and on Discogs, but they tend to sell for 30-40 dollars in general.  At that price, I just never picked it up.

I'm a little young to have caught these guys the first time around.  I had first heard of them when Lookout rereleased the CD back in 1996, but even that got lost in the shuffle for me.  A few years ago I started to listen to Sweet Baby again.  Their early refreshing take on pop punk is just so much fun.  Let's not split hairs, this record sounds old as hell with its tinny production and all.  You'll never accuse this record of sounding slick, but it just sounds like a good time.  Basic, catchy songs about girls and falling in love filtered through Ramones colored glasses.

The reissue sounds good, but I've just got to say that I hate the artwork.  If you were going to reissue the record and chose to not use the original artwork, I don't know why you would settle on this simple little line drawing and some off center text.  It's really kind of weird and it makes me feel like I can't take the original off my wants list now.  Hopefully the price will come down a bit on a first pressing since this reissue is out in the wild.  I'm glad it's available and cheap, but with this art it just can't replace having an original for me.  Oh, this came with a bonus 7", but I'll write that up on it's own.

Sweet Baby - "Gotta Get A Girl":

Sweet Baby - "Year After Year":

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tenement - Predatory Headlights 2xLP

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Don Giovanni (2015)

Long time readers of this website will know that I've been chomping at the bit for a new Tenement album for ages.  Pretty much since the day after their prior effort, Napalm Dream, was released.  I've been singing this band's praises for quite some time and they've finally come out with their new record...and it's a double album to boot.

In the past I have often compared Tenement to a poppier and more exciting to me version of Dinosaur Jr.  They've always had the hooks and searing guitar solos to go along with it.  Predatory Headlights is something of a new direction for the band.  While you could have certainly seen this album coming if you were paying attention, it still comes across as somewhat surprising.

While this is a double album clocking in at just a tick under 80 minutes, there's probably only a single albums worth of straight ahead rock songs.  Much like the album's artwork, there's a lot going on during the course of this record. Also like the artwork, it's a bit of a collage of sounds.  In addition to some rock, there is real diversity on this record.  You're going to get some jazzy interludes, some experimental noise meanderings and a couple of atmospheric soundscapes. 

You could argue that these excursions add to the album and you could argue that they detract from the guitar focused rock songs.  That's going to be the opinion of the individual listener.  For me, I don't listen to much in the way of jazz and I can't say that jittery experimental is typically my bag either.  I find myself sitting through the chaos waiting for some more rock, but individual listener milage on these songs may vary.

As far as the rock, there is a very strong album's worth of material on Predatory Headlights.  You could argue that in some ways these songs are more straightforward than what the band has released in the past.  There aren't too many of the screaming guitar solos that Tenement has used in the past and there also isn't much in the way of cutting, energetic punk rock.  These songs tend to be more mid tempo in nature and the focus is much more on the chord progressions and the vocals.

In particular, there's some insane backing vocals going on throughout this album.  We're talking high pitched full on Bee Gee's style harmonies weaving in and out of several songs.   Honestly it sounds incredible.  On paper, that may not sound like something you'd want to hear, but within the context of the songs, the vocals just sound amazing.  You'll also hear a solid amount of keyboard and other complimentary instruments that do a great job of augmenting Tenement's songs and adding new layers of depth to everything.

I can't help but think this is going to end up as something of a polarizing record.  On one hand, you've got some really incredible new Tenement songs.  On the other hand you've got a whole lot of new and unexpected sounds to try to process.  In the end, I think this is a good album and as a piece of music, it works.  But I admit that I would have been content with a single album's worth of rock and roll.  In some ways it's going to depend of how adventurous you are.

Tenement - Predatory Headlights LP:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Brat Kings - Good Drugs 7"

Untitled

Hosehead (2015)

Bands from Canada really scratch a particular kind of itch that I have.  They have this amazing ability to take basic pop punk song structures and melodies and dirty them up with enough garage fuzz that it washes away any chance of a saccharine experience.  Brat Kings are another in this fine tradition.

The band is absolutely not afraid to bust out some unapologetic "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" to drive home the catchiness of their songs.  Don't get too comfortable though, as that loud buzzsaw guitar is just lurking around the corner to remind you that these guys can tear it up when called for.  Both "Good Drugs" and "Water Melons" have big hooks and great guitar work.  They kind of remind me of a dirtier and less stoned version of Mean Jeans.

This is a record definitely worth going out of your way to grab.  If you like your punk rock pretty catchy, but a little scuzzy, then Brat Kings are going to scratch that itch for you as well.

Brat Kings - Good Drugs 7":

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Plow United / The Headies - Split 7" - Clear Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Self Aware (2015)

It's been pretty exciting seeing Plow United as an active band again.  They've played some shows, put out a full length album and now they're going back to another hallmark of the 1990's; the split 7".

Plow United's contributions to this split are pretty great.  "Gary Gygax" has a rolling drum beat and a fast dynamic punch.  To me it sounds like it would fit right in the Plow II era.  "These Six Words" is a bass fueled and palm muted guitar filled track where the band slows things down a little.  It takes a special band to take on a lower key song without compromising the excitement of their fast tracks, but Plow pulls it off flawlessly.

The Headies offer four short rippers on their side of the record.  The songs are decidedly 90's punk rock sounding.  They've got hooks in all of the right places, gang vocals that sweeten the choruses and a pretty ferocious drummer.  When Plow is on the flip side of your record and I'm noticing your drummer, that's a pretty good sign.  I do wish the songs were a little longer in general. I've always had a hard time with bands pumping out sixty to ninety second long tracks.  Everything seems kind of rushed to me.  That being said, The Headies do it better than most and are a nice surprise since honestly, I would have bought this 7" no matter who was on the non-Plow side.

Plow United / The Headies - Split 7":

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jaill - Brain Cream LP - Yellow Vinyl

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Burger (2015)

Ken from Dirtnap recommended Jaill to me quite a few years ago, when their album There's No Sky (Oh My My) was self released and they didn't have two L's in their name.  I absolutely loved that album and was very happy for the band when they signed to Sub Pop for their next two albums.  While I enjoyed both and don't really have anything bad to say about either, I was left with the feeling that these Jaill records just weren't quite as good as There's No Sky.

After the Sub Pop excursion, we find Jaill on Burger records, the label that took There's No Sky from self released to non-self released.  Jaill has come home also.  Though they do not quite hit the highs they did three albums ago, they've made a remarkably consistent record that is the best thing they've done since.  Brain Cream is full of crisp, jangly guitar, bouncy pop melodies and a light psychedelic sheen that adds to the overall vibe of the record.  The psych influence never becomes overbearing or detracts from the pop.

The band has also done a great job of adding some keyboard flourishes to a few songs that truly enhance the experience.  A lot of times when a band starts dipping into that bag of tricks I get the feeling that they're adding layers to hide something.  It never feels like Jaill is doing that on Brain Cream as the keys and atmospheric sounds give the album a rich full sound.  Needless to say I really enjoy this album.  Maybe it's not a balls to the wall catchy as There's No Sky, but it's a well crafted record with a handful of pretty great songs and it's easily the best thing they've done these last few albums.

Jaill - "Getaway":

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hideout - Rookie LP - Pink Vinyl

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Thrill Me (2014)

Since Mrs. Magician is one of my favorite bands in the world, of course I'm going to give a chance to a record put out on the label that one of the guys in the band started.  Sure, that's heaping a world of expectations on an unsuspecting band, but Hideout didn't let me down.

This is one of those bands that you hear about from time to time where the members live in different parts of the country and collaborate over long distances.  I'm sure the hashing out process is slow, but the results are pretty great.  Rookie is a spacey, far out kind of record, but still is anchored in enough upbeat guitar pop to where the songs remain catchy, focused and a good time to listen to.

In the album description the comparison thrown around is early David Bowie.  While Hideout never get quite as wacky as Bowie has a penchant for being, you can hear some sonic similarities with the way the songs are structured and some of the effects used while recording.  At the same time, it's also very easy to compare Hideout to some of the more modern indie rockers out there.  You can hear a little bit of bands like The Shins or Band of Horses if you're listening, but I find Hideout to be significantly more interesting than either of those bands.

If you're going in hoping for Hideout to sound like Mrs. Magician, this record probably isn't going to work out for you.  But if you're looking for some otherworldly pop that doesn't go too far off the deep end, Rookie is absolutely an album that should be checked out.

Hideout - Rookie LP:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Hex Dispensers - III LP - White Vinyl (/100)

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Alien Snatch (2015)

For a while I was getting concerned that The Hex Dispensers may have called it quits.  It had been a bit since their last full length and although there have been some 7"s in the last few years, it just sort of seemed like the band was put on the back burner. Luckily I was wrong and The Hex Dispensers are back with their appropriately titled third LP III.

I can't say that I like it as much as their other records.  While still a good listen, I feel that it is missing a little bit of the speed and energy of their prior works.  Everything is decidedly mid tempo and while some of the songs are still great and most are pretty darn catchy, I find myself wishing there were a few that just ripped.  Another thing that I think hinders this record is the production.  The guitars sound really bassy and kind of muddy.  You could argue that the murky guitar adds to their Ghostbusters meets the Marked Men sound, but I prefer the chainsaw blast of their other records.

My last complaint is that 6 of the 10 songs on this record were previously released on 7"s that I bought.  While I realize that most people who will buy this album probably don't have all of those 7"s, I still would have preferred a few more songs I hadn't heard before.  

All those complaints probably makes it seem like I'm really down on this record, but I'm not.  I'm perhaps comparing it unfairly to past works, but judging the record on its own merits, it is a fun listen.  In particular the one, two, three punch of "Parallel," "Trapped In Amber" and "Agatha's Antlers" starts the album off with a real bang as all three songs just have killers hooks. "I Hope The Sun Explodes Today" is also a highlight with a killer verse and some nice call back 'aaahhhs' in the chorus.

All in all, it is definitely worth picking up, especially if you don't already have all of the 7"s.  It's a fun record and the band has always written interesting lyrics and melodies.

The Hex Dispensers - III LP:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sweatshop Boys - Always Polite Never Happy 7"

Untitled

Twintoe / Crapoulet / SP (2015)

At this point I've gotten a respectable number of records sent to me to review.  The gems are few and far between, but this 7" is notable for three reasons.  One, it's the first record I've been sent from Israel. Two, it's a band I already know and love.  Three, it just absolutely kills from start to finish.  This is a hell of a little 7" that you really should go out of your way to track down.

We've got 4 new Sweatshop Boys songs on this record.  Each of them bringing something slightly different to the table, but all of them bringing the sort of high energy, catchy punk rock that I just go crazy for.  You can hear a bit of the Marked Men in the rapid fire chord progressions.  There's a hint of Sonic Avenues in the vocals and a a few moments of Red Dons style downstroking.

Basically the next stop for these guys should be Dirtnap, so if that's the sort of thing that floats your boat, this is a 7" you need to grab immediately if not sooner.  It's really the kind of record that just absolutely brightens my day and cuts through all of the bullshit out there.  Dear Sweatshop Boys, never split up and put out some more records as soon as you can.

Sweatshop Boys - Always Polite Never Happy 7":