Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Mountain Goats - Blood Capsules 12" - Red Vinyl

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Merge (2015)

This 12" came bundled with the limited fancy version of Beat The Champ.  It contains two songs not on the full album; "Blood Capsules" and "Dub Capsules."  It's also on blood red vinyl, which is a nice touch.

"Blood Capsules" carries over the basic theme of Beat The Champ, spinning yarns about pro wrestling.  This particular song tackles the plight of the down on his luck wrestler trying to pay the bills. "But there just isn't any money on the independent scene" as one line goes.  The story is told over a mid tempo bouncy guitar riff.  It comes off a little lighter than some of the other album tracks, but that's not a slight at all.  It's a fantastic song.

The B-side is a re-working of the song into "Dub Capsules."  I don't think I can really judge this fairly.  I'm not a fan of dub and have a hard time telling the good from the bad.  It's pretty unrecognizable from the original version aside from a few snippets of lyrics woven through the track. I would have preferred another album outtake (assuming there were any), but as this was not something I had buy on it's own, it's hard to get bent out of shape over it.  Plus the A-side is great, so that helps.

The Mountain Goats - "Blood Capsules":

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Mountain Goats - Beat The Champ 2xLP - Green and Yellow Vinyl

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Merge (2015)

I've always kind of liked The Mountain Goats, harkening back to their early days when I knew them mostly from Shrimper catalogs or as part of the mid 90's tape label scene that I briefly dipped my toe in back then.  I can't say I was ever a big fan and never actually picked up any of their records.  When I heard they were going to do an entire record about professional wrestling I was immediately intrigued.  If you know me, or even if you follow me on Twitter you probably realize that in addition to collecting records and collecting toys, watching pro wrestling is one of my big three pastimes. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I ordered this record.  I can tell you that I was not expecting to love Beat The Champ anywhere near as much as I do.  The album focuses on the late 70's and early 80's territorial wrestling scene that has long been bulldozed into obscurity.  As such you'll hear songs about Chavo Guererro Sr. ("The Legend Of Chavo Guererro") and Bruiser Brody ("Stabbed To Death Outside San Juan").  

Singer John Darnielle has a real gift for telling stories in his songs and all of the scenes and characters that he's describing just leap to life.  When he's describing a match in "Choked Out" ("Two hundred dollar take all purse/half-nelson to suplex reverse") I can vividly see the everything he's talking about.  The musical arrangement range from bleak and somber to upbeat and full of energy.  It all depends on the subject matter being tackled.

You could make an argument that this is the best record of the year to date.  Worst case scenario it's top three and Beat The Champ is certainly the album I've listened to the most lately.  Lyrically, this is absolutely the best record to come out so far this year.  Even though the all of the songs are about pro wrestling, they're handled with a respect and reverie that you'll seldom see.   I think that this record can be enjoyed whether you enjoy pro wrestling or not, but if you do like it, it's absolutely a mandatory listen.

The Mountain Goats - "The Legend Of Chavo Guererro":

The Mountain Goats - "Choked Out":

The Mountain Goats - "Werewolf Gimmick":

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #7: The Sonics - This Is The Sonics LP

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ReVox (2015)

The last thing I picked up on Record Store Day was definitively not a Record Store Day exclusive.  When I go to the record store on this holiest of days, I still look at the rest of the store and do some shopping.  I also picked up some clear LP sleeves, but they've proven difficult to take pictures of.

I read a lot about this Sonics record before taking the plunge.  A reunion album 50 years after their last full length? Dudes in the band in their 70's?  Seems like a recipe for disaster, but The Sonics are still more punk rock than most bands whose members are a third of their age.  The Is The Sonics simply rips from start to finish.  

The chunky guitar riffs and the howling lead vocals of Freddie Dennis are a potent combination.  Add in the Circa Now style fog horn saxophone and you'll see that there is a taste of the 60's that pepper these songs.  Don't mistake this for a throwback album though, there's a fire and intensity that can only come from guys who have had more time on this planet getting pissed off than most.

There isn't a bad song on the album and the hits are plentiful. Every time I listen to this album I pick out a new favorite.  The songs that I dig the most tend to be "Don't Need A Doctor," "You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover," "The Hard Way" and "I Got Your Number."  That being said, there really isn't a bad song on the record and it's just a joy to throw on the turntable and crank it up as loud as it goes.

The Sonics - "The Hard Way":

The Sonics - "I Got Your Number":

Monday, May 18, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #6: Masked Intruder - Incriminating Evidence 2011 Demo 7"

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Red Scare (2015)

We're in murky territory again as far as this being a Record Store Day release.  It came with a Record Store Day sticker on it, but it wasn't on the official list.  I also didn't pick it up at a record store, it was available via Interpunk or through the label's website.  I can't say for sure that it wasn't available at any actual record stores, but it seems to me that the bulk were sold online.

Not that my enjoyment of the record is affected by any of that, I just question whether or not to count it as a Record Store Day release.  I decided to.  The four songs on this 7" comprise Masked Intruder's 2011 demo.  It's an interesting peak into the band before they started riding a gigantic wave of momentum that took them all the way to Fat Wreck.  

Two of the songs on this demo ("How Do I Get To You" and "Unrequited Love") wound up on the band's first full length while one of them ("I Fought The Law") was held off until the second Masked Intruder album.  I can't say any of these three songs sound that much different than the versions that ended up on their records.  They certainly not recorded as well, but the basic song structure remained intact.

One song ("I Plead The 5th") is exclusive to this 7" as far as I can tell.  Maybe it ended up on a compilation or something, but I don't have it on any Masked Intruder records in my collection.  It's a very short song that doesn't consist of much other than the repeating of the phrase "I Plead The 5th" over and over.  It's not bad, but there's nothing all that special about it and I can see why it was never really used on any of the band's proper records.

This isn't an essential 7" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a neat listen.  More than anything, it just feels like a collection completer to me.  I have the rest of their releases, so I guess I need this one in the collection as well.

Masked Intruder - Incriminating Evidence 2011 Demo 7":

Friday, May 15, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #5: Otis Redding - Otis Blue LP (Mono)

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Sundazed (2001, Reissue)

One of my recent fixations lately is old records from the 60's in mono.  While I haven't broken the bank buying dozens and dozens of them, I do want to start picking up the records and artists that I think are important to me.  Though I haven't gotten around to reviewing it (mostly because I haven't made the time to take a bunch of pictures) I have the Beatles Mono Box set and I've been slowing picking up some of the old soul that I love.  One of the best is Otis Redding.

This year for Record Store Day, Otis Blue was rereleased as a double LP with one LP of the mono mix and one LP of the stereo mix.  It was $45 dollars.  Kind of insane, but I wanted it.  When I arrived down at Vintage Vinyl, it was already sold out.  While going through the non Record Store Day items, I stumbled across this.  A version of Otis Blue, in mono that was released back in 2001.  Honestly, I only really wanted the mono version anyway and this one was only $22.  Buy!

So many tremendous Otis Redding songs reside on this LP.  "Loving You Too Long," "Respect," his killer version of Sam Cooke's "Shake" and Otis' take on The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" are just the start of the list of hits on this album.  The record sounds very good and it's quite clear.  A lot of people have beef with some of the reissues that have been released over the past few years, but it's not like used versions of this record in mono are cluttering up the dollar bins.  For me, it's nice to have a good sounding, clean copy for the collection.

You could argue if I should be writing about this in the context of Record Store Day.  Sure, it wasn't one of the official releases, but I did buy it on Record Store Day, so to me, that makes it part of the haul.

Otis Redding - "Shake":

Otis Redding - "Respect":

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #4: The Saints - Eternally Yours LP - Green Vinyl

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Harvest (2015, Reissue)

You can only listen to Rocket From The Crypt for so long before somebody at some point brings up The Saints.  Specifically, I've got to assume they're talking about the lead off track on Eternally Yours, "Know Your Product.  Hey, it's a really great song and it has horns, so I get it.  And to be honest, if it wasn't for reading about The Saints due to Rocket From The Crypt, I couldn't say for sure if I would have ever listened to this band.

When the complete Record Store Day list came out, I thought this reissue would be a good way to finally add this record on vinyl to the collection.  It'll be on colored vinyl and I can just grab it with my other pickups.  As I had predicted, this was one I was able to acquire much later in the day with minimal hassle, so no camping out needed. 

I'll admit it, in general I'm not as frequent a listener of 70's and 80's punk rock as a lot of people.  Not that there isn't plenty of good stuff out there and not that I don't own my share, because I do.  But I tend to spend the bulk of my time on the 90's to the present.  The thing has always struck me about The Saints is that they just don't sound as dated as a lot of bands from a similar time frame. 

The highlight is the horn accented "Know Your Product," but the album certainly doesn't die there.  Song after song of punky, slightly garage-y hits follow like "Private Affair," "Orstralia" and the cleverly titled "No, Your Product."  The whole album is rock solid though; not a dud on either side.  They did a pretty good job with this reissue, though I'll admit to not really knowing if the cover photo looks quite this blown out on an original copy.  From a music standpoint, it's absolutely worth picking up if you don't already own it

The Saints - "Know Your Product":

The Saints - "Orstralia":

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #3: The Wrestling Album/Piledrive 2xLP - Red & Yellow Vinyl

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Epic (2015, Reissue)

If ever there was a record that kind of sums up the problem with Record Store Day, this is probably it.  An overpriced reissue of a record that there wasn't much demand for.  That being said, I bought it, so I'm definitely part of the problem.  As much as I can take a step back and realize this is the epitome of why some people hate Record Store Day, I just couldn't convince myself not to buy the fancy colored vinyl versions of two of the records I completely wore out as a kid.

I had both of these when I was younger, though I had them on cassette.  The funny thing about these is that the cassette versions came attached to LP covers.  It was kind of weird, but I was appreciative of the larger artwork way back when.  I'm most familiar with the first Wrestling Album.  It has all the hits.  "Real American," "Grab Them Cakes" by the Junkyard Dog and "Cara Mia" by Nikolai Volkoff.  All these years later they still make me smile as does the super wacky version of "Land Of 1000 Dances" featuring a who's who of 80's wrestlers delivering some lyrics that are quite a bit different than the originals.

Piledriver is not as fresh in my memory, so it was kind of funny listening to it for the first time in more than 20 years.  The Demolition theme song is still the best thing on this record, though I take some perverse joy in "Girls In Cars" by Strikeforce, "Stand Back" by Vince McMahon and Koko B. Ware singing "Piledriver."  The two LPs come in a gatefold cover for the Wrestling Album.  It was a nice touch having the inner sleeve for the 2nd LP mimic the original Piledriver artwork.

I'm not going to listen to this record very much.  Most of the songs on here are pretty bad.  But it is a definite slice of my child that I think is fun to revisit every so often.  Since I never grew out of watching pro wrestling, I guess it makes sense that I never really grew out of listening to wrestlers singing either.

Nikolai Volkoff - "Cara Mia":

Rick Derringer - "Real American" (You HAVE to watch this video if you've never seen it)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKzEKdY3eo0

Rick Derringer - "Demolition":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aS1Xfb6ckE

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #2: Built To Spill - Untethered Moon LP

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Warner Brothers (2015)

Releasing the new Built To Spill record on Record Store Day was a neat move I think.  It really wasn't limited (10,000 copies!), so if you wanted it, it's unlikely you had to line up in front of a record store to get a copy.  It also wasn't limited to only being released of Record Store Day, you could just buy it then first.  Plus there was the scavenger hunt aspect where 500 blue vinyl copies were randomly inserted for the Record Store Day release, though I'm a little skeptical that actually happened as not one single copy has turned up on eBay.

A new Built To Spill record is always cause for celebration and it's a nice change of pace from the reissues that tend to clog up Record Store Day.  Built To Spill has yet to disappoint me with a record and Untethered Moon is no exception.  What I can say about it is that it is not as immediately impactful as some of their other albums.  It's deliberately a slower burn and it's a record that I like more and more every time I listen to it.  Maybe it doesn't have some of the surefire pop singles some of their other albums have, but you'll be challenged trying to find another record that's so easy to enjoy from start to finish.

Built To Spill has a tried and true formula of jangled out guitar in the verse, Doug's high pitch vocals and blasts of fuzzed out lead guitar.  It's a formula that has worked for quite a while and Untethered Moon delivers more of that sort of greatness.  Built To Spill has long been one of my all time favorite bands.  It has been far too long in between albums, but you can bet I'll be listening to Untethered moon constantly to try to make up for lost time.

Built To Spill - "All Our Songs":

Built To Spill - "Living Zoo":

Monday, May 11, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #1: Leatherface - Razorblades And Aspirin LP Box Set

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Fire (2015, Reissue)

This box set was hands down the most sought after record on my Record Store Day list this year.  In fact, its release was what pushed me into driving down to Vintage Vinyl so far in advance.  Until it was announced, I only had passing interest in most of the Record Store Day titles and figured I could just grab them whenever.  Leatherface made participation mandatory.

Leatherface is one of the three most influential bands I've ever listened to, their impact on my taste in music simply cannot be overstated.  Their albums are long out of print on vinyl and it took a long time for me to track them all down.  Granted, I locked down that collection quite a long time ago at this point, but you should have seen some of the wacky record stores in England I ended up digging through in the late 90's.

The Razor Blades And Aspirin box set was limited to 1500 copies overall; 500 in the US and 1000 in the UK.  I was lucky that a nice guy from Utah picked up a copy for me and sent it over at cost.  I only had to pay for the shipping.  Prior to that, I was freaking out a little bit, concerned I wouldn't get this record.  Luckily everything worked out.

The box set contains the three middle Leatherface LPs of their first run, arguably their creative peak.  It's missing their first album, Cherry Knowle, and their 1994 swan song, The Last, but that's not too surprising as Rouchneck/Fire didn't put them out originally.  All three albums are remastered and there is a download card with a bunch of B-sides and extras.  There's also lengthy liner notes written by Jack Rabid that are a fascinating read.  He really should write an entire book about the band.

The Fill Your Boots reissue sounds really good.  This was the first great Leatherface record.  While Cherry Knowle has its moments, Fill Your Boots is the first time the band truly showed what they were capable of.  The songs as a whole are a little faster and more straightforward than they would be as the band progressed, but their are several untouchable songs on here.  Fill Your Boots is a short eight song record and it feels like it flies by. Compared to the original pressing, this reissue is just as good.  Maybe a little louder, but I don't see much of a difference as far as the remastering goes.

Mush is Leatherface's absolute classic.  You could argue that it is the most perfect puck rock record ever written.  It's angry and ferocious, but dynamic and full of hooks.  Lyrically intelligent and sonically belligerent.  This is one of my three favorite records of all time and an album I encourage everyone to go out of their way to hear.  The first song, "I Want The Moon" could be the best side one, track one of all time.  Really its only competition is "Here Come The Rome Plows" by Drive Like Jehu.  The box set reissue sounds pretty good.  It's miles better than the bootleg reissue that began popping up a few years ago.  But I played the original pressing right after the reissue and to me the original still sounds brighter, more clear and louder.  The reissue is very, very good, but there's something about that first pressing that keeps it a notch above.

Minx rounds out the full length albums in this set.  The production on this album was never quite as pristine as Mush, but the songs were always equally great.  In fact, my very favorite Leatherface song, "Do The Right Thing" is from this album.  For this album, the new reissue sounds a little cleaner than the original pressing, though the difference is subtle at best.  Unlike Mush, this version is a totally acceptable replacement for having the original.

The box set also comes with a digital downloaded containing a bunch of B-sides, acoustic versions and the entire Smokey Joe and Compact And Bijou EPs.  There are some amazing songs on here, though there isn't anything previously unreleased if you'd been hunting down their singles.  For this to be the definitive boxset, there should have been two more LPs with all of these B-sides.  I do get frustrated by download only extra tracks, but at least Fire did get them out there in some way. I also don't really like the redone artwork of the individual album covers.  I'm not losing any sleep over it, but I like the originals better.

Considering how long the original pressings of these records have been out of print, it's great news that they're finally back.  I'm curious if this will remain a one off pressing for Record Store Day or if Fire will try to keep some version of it in print going forward.  While maybe not the most popular band of all time, you'd think Leatherface has enough of a following to justify keeping these records out there.  

If you don't have the originals, this box set is absolutely essential.  If you do have the originals, it still might be worth picking up. Fill Your Boots and Minx sound equally good, if not a touch better than the originals, but the Mush reissue falls a bit short.  One way or another, everyone should own these records.

Leatherface - "New York State" (Fill Your Boots):

Leatherface - "I Want The Moon" (Mush):

Leatherface - "Do The Right Thing" (Minx):

Friday, May 8, 2015

Record Store Day - 2015

Untitled

Record Store Day 2015 worked out a bit differently than it typically has in the past for me.  There did end up being several things I wanted, so I decided to line up nice and early as I have previous years.  I was out on the Friday before until about 10:30.  As I was planning on being in line by about 2:30 or 3:00am anyway, I just decided to skip out on the few hours sleep and drive right down to Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ.  I arrived at 11:00pm the Friday night before Record Store Day.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I was complete shocked.  There were already about 50 people in line ten hours before the store was scheduled to open at 8:00am the next day.  From a quick scan of the crowd and my superhuman ability to determine bad music at a distance, I can tell you for sure that everyone was there for that god damn Brand New record.  I had said many times in the preceding weeks that I knew that stupid record was going to make Record Store Day too much trouble.

I am absolutely willing to put in my time to get the records I want. Never once have I ever complained about Record Store Day or the fight to get what you want.  All part of the day if you're up to participate.  But what I'm not willing to do is sit in front of a record store for ten hours 50 people back.  There's no way to know if I would get the records I want.  I'm sure most of the crowd in front of me wasn't after what I was, but I was not willing to sit there that long and put that much of my time into it.  So without even getting out of my car, I just pulled back out of the parking lot and went home.

The following morning was spent trolling vinyl message boards, watching eBay and doing everything possible to wheel and deal to get the records I wanted without paying through the nose.  Then later on in the day I went back down to Vintage Vinyl and was able to pick up a couple of the lesser in demand records that I had correctly assumed would still be hanging around after the initial flurry.  All in all I managed to track down every record that I wanted with the exception of one.  I ended up spending a grand total of $18 more than retail for all of the records combined to accommodate postage and a one record being a few dollars more on eBay.

The only record I wasn't able to find and still haven't gotten is the Against Me 7" that was released.  It's on eBay for around $30 but I'm not willing to drop that on a 7", at least not right now.  Especially since it's just two versions of the same song that's already on the last full length.  So if anyone happens to have one or knows of anywhere to get one and want's to sell at a low price or trade it to me, please get in touch.  Starting Monday I'll be posting reviews of this year's record store day haul.  A good amount of money was spent, but I also did get a few pretty great records.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe - Music From The Television Series CD

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La-La Land (2015)

You'll be hard pressed to find someone that clings to the nostalgia of their childhood more than me.  As I write this I'm surrounded by Shogun Warriors, Battle Beasts, Wheeled Warriors and other assorted action figures that took up many hours of my youth.  When I heard about this He-Man soundtrack being released, I knew I had to pick it up if for no other reason that it would be a great companion piece to my Art Of He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe book that just came out.

On a positive note, this CD is extremely complete, sans one bizarre omission.  They're found every single possible chunk of synth soaked pretend orchestra music that could have possibly ever aired on this show.  We're talking one hundred and eleven tracks spread over two discs.  Main Title Theme with the triumphant "He-Man" shouted? Sure - 2 versions of it.  Main Title with no vocals? Got it.  Main Title with Spanish vocals throughout the entire song? Why not!  Amazingly, the one version of the Main Title that isn't on this CD is the one actually used in the show with the dialog explaining the backstory.  How that isn't on here is beyond me considering how packed this thing is.

If you're looking for a completists archive CD, this is for you.  If you are looking for a fun record to pop on and listen to, I'm not sure this is going to help.  This CD is so freaking long.  It's over two hours between the two discs.  Most of these musical pieces are just rehashes of three or four key themes.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times the Main Title Theme is recycled into these other tracks.  Sped up, slowed down, played happy, played sad...it's king of nuts and it becomes a chore to listen to after a while.

I wish this CD had been out when I was in college doing my radio show or even a few years ago when I was doing a podcast.  There's tremendous bed music opportunities on this disc.  But to just sit down and listen to it?  After a while it just feels like a chore.  Just buy the Art book instead, that thing is incredible.

He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe - Main Theme:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beach Slang - Broken Thrills LP - Split Color Splatter Vinyl (/100)

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Big Scary Monsters (2015)

Technically, I have already reviewed the music on this LP as it is comprised of the first two Beach Slang 7"s.  Though you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of the 7" format than me, there's certainly something to be said about the convenience of having all of these songs on one LP.  If nothing else, it certainly makes it easier to pop on without having to get up from the couch so many times to flip the record.

I enjoy these Beach Slang songs just as much, if not more, than I did when the 7"s first came out.  I stand by my belief that the singer reminds me an awful lot of the guy who sang in Tugboat Annie.  The more I listen to these guys, the more I hear elements of Knapsack as well.  Maybe Beach SLang isn't quite as polished and they certainly don't yell as much as Knapsack, but I feel like both bands are trying to convey similar feelings.

The band is working on their debut full length for Polyvinyl right now.  You can bet that I'll be preordering that guy on day one. 

Beach Slang - Broken Thrills LP:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Good Shade - S/T LP - Yellow Vinyl (/200)

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Gut Genug (2015)

Even though this record is brand spanking new, I've actually spent quite a bit of time with these songs.  I first became aware of them as a digital only Bandcamp download.  It's one of the dudes from Tight Bros, so you can bet I grabbed that instantly.  I was really hoping for a proper vinyl release so when Smellhound Records announced it and tossed up a preorder, I was on that immediately as well.  Time went by and Smellhound no longer was part of the equation, but at long last the vinyl is here courtesy of Gut Genug records.

Good Shade are playing high energy, fast paced, super catchy punk rock.  They have some similarities to Tight Bros for sure and if you enjoy The Marked Men or Chinese Telephones, this record is essential to add to your collection.  The lightning quick downstroke guitar strumming blasts into big sing along choruses.  The vocals have that slight coating of fuzz that enhances the song, rather than try to hide the singer's voice.  Simply put, Good Shade has crafted a phenomenal album 

I really can't say enough great things about Good Shade.  This is hands down one my favorite records of the year so far and honestly you're a fool if you don't go grab this right away.  It's just a tremendous record.

Good Shade - Good Shade LP:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Modest Mouse - Strangers To Ourselves 2xLP

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Epic (2015)

This will wrap up Modest Mouse Monday for at least a couple of weeks I think.  Though I have two more reissues ordered, they're coming from the UK and haven't shipped yet.  It's unlikely they'll arrive before next Monday, but I guess we'll see.  The last few weeks of Modest Mouse reviews have been building towards their new album, Strangers to Ourselves.  I wouldn't call it my favorite of all Modest Muse records, but I still like it quite a bit.

I've read some very odd reviews of this album the past month or so.  It seems that a lot of music writers are surprised by the fact that Modest Mouse put out a record that sounds like a Modest Mouse album.  I can't say that I really know what they were expecting, but if you typically like Modest Mouse, I have a hard time seeing how you wouldn't like Strangers To Ourselves as well.

It starts off with a super strong one-two punch, beginning with the slower, string accompanied title track "Strangers To Ourselves."  It's a gradual builder and I think it works great as an album opener, gently bringing you back into the world of Isaac Brock and company.  That leads to the bouncy, explosive and easily my favorite song on the record, "Lampshades Of Fire."  To me, this is just a quintessential fun Modest Mouse song with lots of strong drumming and "ba ba ba's" to go along with Isaac's trademark yelped vocals. 

The album isn't perfect, as shown by perhaps the worst song that Modest Mouse has ever written "Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)."  The one dimensional drum beat doesn't kill the song, but the vocal inflection that Isaac chooses to deliver the lyrics with is, for the lack of a better word, simply stupid.  I can't fathom what sort of fever dream would make someone intentionally sing a song like this.  It's just terrible.  I'm also not a particularly big fan of "The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box."  This song has too many sound 1980's sounding effects for me.  It's a throw back to an era where I think the worst music was made.

Still, these are two missteps on an otherwise very strong record.  I can't see this being to sort of record that will win you over if you don't like Modest Mouse already.  But if you are a fan, I also can't really see how you would have all that much to complain about.  Modest Mouse made a Modest Mouse record.  What else did you expect them to do?

Modest Mouse - "Strangers To Ourselves":

Modest Mouse - "Lampshades On Fire":

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015 LP - Green Vinyl

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Mom + Pop (2015)

There's something comforting about having a long time favorite like The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion still making records in 2015.  I've been a pretty gigantic fan of JSBX since 1995's Orange.  That record stands as one of my very favorite records of all time and I've perhaps unfairly compared every other record this band has ever released to that seminal masterpiece.  So let's get it out of the way right upfront.  No, Freedom Tower isn't as good as Orange, but it's still a pretty great little record.

It's a progression away from 2012's Meat + Bone.  While Meat + Bone was more of a fuzzy howling garage inspired record, Freedom Tower sees Spencer and company going back to a cleaner sound and a funkier vibe.  While I'm not sure this is a proper dance party as the title suggests, the record has a strong groove and is the sort of thing that makes you catch yourself bobbing your head along to the tunes.  I do find the vocals to be somewhat more high pitched than usual, but the more I listen to the record, the more it fits in with the songs.

I've never though lyrics were particularly important to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion experience. To me they've mostly just felt like random things for Jon to shout in between scorching guitar outbursts.  While there is some of that here, such as Jon going on about Jack and Jill going up a hill on opener "Funeral," most of the album tends to deal with New York City and the crazy changes it's gone through over the years.  It's not preachy and not blatantly in your face about it, but the lyrics do unify the record and helps segue from song to song.

At the end of the day, this is somewhere in the middle if I'm ranking all of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion albums.  I don't love it quite the way I do classics like Orange or Meat + Bone, but it's still a great record and probably one of the albums I've listened to the most in 2015 so far.  If you're a fan, definitely pick it up.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Do The Get Down":

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Betty vs. The NYPD":

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ist - Boyfriend 7" - Clear w/ Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Punk Fox (2014)

I was going to skip out on reviewing this record, to be honest.  I feel like I've been pretty harsh on Punk Fox records. So when their latest 7" by Nervous Twitch had come along and I actually liked it, I figured I'd quit while I was ahead with that one.  I've started feeling a little guilty though as I've had this Ist 7" sitting around for a little while and I just don't want to have the label send me a copy and not get a review out of it, whatever my feelings.

I can't say I really like Ist very much.  I like them more than I figured I would based on the art work since I expected it to be manic screaming hardcore, but they're just not for me.  There's nothing inherently wrong with their music.  "Boyfriend" is a mid tempo rock song with a bouncy start-stop guitar riff and a reasonably catchy chorus.  Unfortunately everything falls apart with the lyrics as the song seems to be and excuse to just swear a lot and talk about how much the singer hates "your fucking boyfriend" over and over again.  

I'm certainly not offended by a bunch of swearing or anything, I think in the right context swearing can be elevated into a fine art form (just watch Veep or The Thick Of It).  Ist just doesn't do anything special with it.  It's just a bunch of bad words and it seems kind of lazy to me.  The B-side is just another version of "Boyfriend" that isn't really much different than the version on the A-side, so I don't really get that either.  You could do worse than this record, but it's not really anything all that interesting either.

Ist - "Boyfriend":

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baby Ghosts - Maybe Ghosts LP

Untitled

Dirt Cult / Drunken Sailor / Hip Kid / Waterslide / Lost Cat (2014)

I had a minor snafu when ordering a few records from Dirt Cult.  And when I say minor, it really was virtually nothing.  I popped Dirt Cult an email alerting them to the issue and they were on top of it so fast and were so apologetic it would have made your head spin.  Then, on top of that, they sent me this Baby Ghosts LP as an additional apology.  While that was totally unnecessary and they absolutely didn't need to do that to keep me coming back and buying more records, it was very appreciated as this was a band that I was overlooking.

I'm not going to say that I flat out love this record.  Starting with the aspect of it that don't thrill me as much; I don't really like how the vocals are recorded.  They have a weird way of being loud enough to hear, but kind of sounding far away and like they're in a cave.  On top of that, they layer so many vocal harmonies on top of each other, I think it ends up sounding a little cluttered due to the recording.  

That's really the only negative I have to say about Baby Ghosts.  As a whole the record is really good.  They've got tremendously catchy songs and kind of remind me of Cub, but with significantly more guitar fuzz and a bit more spring in their step.  They also have elements of bands like Baby Shakes, but instead of venturing down that 60's garage throwback vibe, they keep things a little more current and a bit punchier.

Again, I'm not sure I would have gotten around to picking this up on my own accord, but I'm really happy to have gotten the chance to listen to this record and add it in to the collection.  Chances are if you can get down to Cub or Baby Shakes, I'd be pretty shocked if you didn't dig Baby Ghosts just as much.

Baby Ghosts - Maybe Ghosts LP:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank LP

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank LP

Epic (2006)

After missing last week, I'm back with another Modest Mouse Monday.  I'm pushing through the band's back catalog that I've recently added to my collection on vinyl.  This week we're up to We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank.  I know a lot of people were disappointed in this record when it came out and I certainly wouldn't rank it as my favorite Modest Mouse album, but I still think it gets more grief than it deserves.

Three of the first four songs really kick off this album strong as I think you can put "March Into The Sea," "Dashboard" or "Florida" up against almost any later era Modest Mouse song and do just fine.  I'll admit that this album does suffer slightly from something that plagues all Modest Mouse albums; it's a little longer than it needs to be.  I always think cutting out two to four songs from any of their records would create a tighter and more focused result. That being said, at worst there's a few songs on here that are a little boring, but nothing that's outright bad.

I've always felt that if you like Modest Mouse, there's no reason not to like this album.  I don't see it being the kind that would win over new fans or change the mind of someone that doesn't like the band, but if you already like them, this just another good record for the collection. Especially if you're able to grab it for about ten dollars from a sale on the Best Buy website.

Modest Mouse - "March Into The Sea":

Modest Mouse - "Florida":

Friday, April 24, 2015

The King Khan And BBQ Show - Bad News Boys LP - Purple Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

In The Red (2015)

I've had a weird relationship with King Khan And BBQ Show over the years.  They're one of those bands that so many people like and these people generally seem to have good taste in music.  I have really enjoyed all of the Mark Sultan (BBQ) solo records quite a bit, however, I've just never really liked the King Khan stuff anywhere near as much.  When they get together, it's been a mixed bag in the past, but Bad News Boys is, for me, easily the best thing they've ever done.

The King Khan And BBQ Show is at their best when they are cobbling together doo wop inspired, late 50's - early 60's style rock songs.  This album's got them in spades.  From the opener "Alone Again" to "Ocean Of Love" to my absolute favorite "Illuminations" when these guys are hitting their stride it doesn't get much better.  "Illuminations" has an incredible catchy vocal melody through the verse that builds into each big chorus.  A little guitar solo action in the middle and you've got the recipe for one of the best songs I've heard in 2015 so far. 

Where the band always falls apart for me is when they start up with the ultra fast and trashy garage songs.  There's only really two songs on this record that fit this description and neither of them are very good.  "D.F.O" is just a shouting mess that is is about diarrhea.  It's so bad it threatens to kill the whole record, but it's mercifully short and the rest of the album is so good that I can't get too bent out of shape about it.  

Album closer "Zen Machines" isn't anywhere near as bad, but it also seems out of place from the rest of the record with its shouting and tin can guitar sound.  King Khan And BBQ don't need snotty garage rock about diarrhea on their album; their pop songs are what carry the band.  Bad News Boys is a twelve song album and ten of the songs are really pretty great so it's definitely worth a pick up.

The King Khan And BBQ Show - Bad News Boys LP:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Default By Design - New Best Friend 7" - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

3345 Music (2014)

When I was a little kid, there was this one time when my grandparents took me out to some restaurant.  I don't remember much about it, but I can only remember going to this place once and it stands out to me because my younger brother wasn't with us for some reason.  At this restaurant there was a fellow there playing music.  

He had an acoustic guitar plugged into an amp, giving the guitar that unmistakable sound that is no longer acoustic or electric, but just loud metallic treble.  This guy played "Rainbow Connection" while we sat there and ate.  Despite the fact that I love the song "Rainbow Connection," even as a really little kid I immediately came to the conclusion that this sucked pretty bad.  

That is the first memory that popped into my mind when I put this Default By Design 7" on.  As always, I'll state that I'm flattered when someone sends me a record to review.  Also, as the title track appears to be about the birth of his first child, I'm hesitant to be too mean, but this is just terrible.

Oddly strummed acoustic guitar, low rent synth beats and sound effects combined with the most gently sung, buried in the mix, go-nowhere vocals you'll ever hear.  You know that guy in college that plays at the student center with his acoustic guitar, wearing that weird poncho looking thing? That's what this sounds like. As I don't have kids, maybe I don't completely get the sentiment here.  Perhaps I'm missing something in the emotion that he's trying to convey, but I don't think children typically are the cause of bad taste in music.  Sorry guy, this just isn't for me.

Default By Design - New Best Friend 7":

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tenement - Bruised Music Volume One LP - Green Vinyl (/220)

Untitled

Toxic Pop / Grave Mistake (2015)

Bruised Music Volume One is a collection of some of Tenement's earliest material.  Culling tracks from various 7"s and a few from one of their first demo tapes, it's pretty striking how cohesive these songs are as a full album.  Sure they were all recorded around the same timeframe, but it is interesting just how great these songs all sound together as one piece of music.

I was lucky enough to have caught wind of this band when these songs were first being put out, so I actually have all of the 7"s and most of these songs already.  I didn't have the two songs lifted from the Tenement Sucks demo tape and there are two more from Dead Broke tape compilations that are also new to me.  Still, these songs still sound fresh to me all these years later.  

Tenement is playing with punk rock energy, but keep their songs catchy.  You can't really call them a pop punk band, but god damn can this band write a hook. Layer on top of that some Dinosaur Jr.-esque guitar shredding and that might paint a better picture of what they sound like.  Or just click on the Bandcamp link at the bottom of this review and blow out your speakers with their greatness.

It's very cool having all of these incredible songs on one LP.  I'm eager to get Volume Two of Bruised Music and am even more excited about the upcoming Tenement full length that has been talked about for a few years.  They're simply one of the best bands going right now.

Tenement - Bruised Music Volume One:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity 2xLP

Untitled

Traffic (2010, Reissue)

I have been writing up a lot of reissues lately.  One reason for that is that this has been something of a slow starter of a year for new music.  The second reason is there are some really good reissues out there and I have a little extra to pick them up.  I'd been keeping my eye on this Souls Of Mischief record for a little bit, but then it looked like it had gone back out of print.  I didn't want to pay through the nose for it, so I was patient and kept a look out.  Luckily, it popped back up on Amazon and I was able to grab a copy.

Along with Del The Funky Homosapien's No Need for Alarm and Casual's Fear Itself, 93 'Til Infinity rounds out my three favorite hip hop records of all time.  Yeah, I realize that's a pretty heavy lean towards the Hieroglyphics crew, but what can I say, these albums hit me like a ton of bricks twenty some odd years ago.

The beats are just fantastic.  While you could make the argument that similarities could be heard to the sort of jazzy, bebop influenced beats that A Tribe Called Quest was using, I always felt that Souls managed to hit on some of the melodic elements of that, but keep things more aggressive.  While no one is ever going to mistake these guys for NWA, you can't deny the very obvious West Coast feeling of this songs.

Four different guys rapping also provide such a dynamic style to these songs as they play off of each other and finish each others lines from time to time.  The lyrics are innovative and the rhyming is unique. Even twenty two years later I think you'd be hard pressed to find any current rappers putting out a record this interesting.

Again, 93 'Til Infinity is one of my very favorite records.  I'm thrilled to finally have a copy to complete my trinity of the best hip hop records on vinyl.

Souls Of Mischief - "That's When Ya Lost":

Souls Of Mischief - "93 'Til Infinity":

Friday, April 17, 2015

Corduroy - I'll Get Around To It 7"

Untitled

Truckstop (1993)

Today's review is going up a little bit later than usual as I took the day off from work in order to sleep in this morning.  With Record Store Day tomorrow and the thought of way less sleep than usual for tonight, I figured I'd treat it like a real holiday and just relax today.  Hanging out on the couch listening to this Corduroy 7" again is a pretty great way to spend a Friday morning in the spring.

This two song 7" from 1993 completes my Corduroy 7" collection to the best of my knowledge and what a capper it is.  Both songs are just outstanding.  "I'll Get Around To It" is the more aggressive of the two.  It's got an upper mid tempo beat, fuzzy guitars and those raspy vocals that just make this band for me.  Listening to these records again, it surprises me that Corduroy seemingly ended up as just a forgotten footnote of the early 90's because they're so great.

The B-side "Ill Be On My Way" could be even better than the A-side.  Slightly slower, it's a total throwback to 60's guitar pop.  While it's a bit gruffer and contains more static than your typical 60's production, the singalong chorus and catchy riffs just make me smile when I listen to it.  Throw in the little bit of whistling in the middle and I'm a fan for life of this song.  I wish I could find it streaming online somewhere, but sadly I cannot.  Trust me, it's worth grabbing off Discogs.  It's cheap and it's just fantastic.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Corduroy - Hum 7"

Untitled

Truck Stop (1992)

It was about a year ago where I noticed that my Corduroy 7" collection wasn't complete.  I'm not sure how that happened exactly but I knew it was something that I needed to fix.  Well, it slipped my mind again until randomly their CD compilation Dead End Memory Lane popped up on iTunes shuffle the other week.  That got me over to Discogs and I picked up the two 7"s I was missing to complete the collection.

This first one is the Hum 7".  It's a four song 7" from 1992 that sounds amazing.  There's something about this sort of low budget, fuzzy and poppy punk rock that just takes me back.  I feel like you don't hear too many bands like this anymore, but twenty-three years later, I guess things are bound to change.  

What hasn't changed are how great these songs are.  First track "Hum" is an upbeat, but mid tempo pop song with raspy vocals and that quintessential 90's move of dropping to drum and bass only in the first part of the verse when they come back from the chorus.  I'm just a sucker for that.  Second up is "Cornflake," which is built off of a slower pace and a more subdued guitar sound.  Another great song though.  

"Strychnine Porcupine" is next and it has a bit of a more generic take on punk rock with the the guitar riff in the verse stopping so some vocals can be shouted, kind of like a hundred mile an hour "Bad To The Bone."  It's probably the weakest song of the bunch, but it segues into "Four Wall Drive."  Perhaps saving the best for last, "Four Wall Drive" is another blast of sing along punk rock with a definite 1990's East Bay flair, but a little more melodic.

All these years later and I just love this band.  I have no idea how this record was not in my collection, but it's here now.  I'll write a bit about their other 7" I picked up tomorrow.

Corduroy - "Cornflake":

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways LP

Untitled

American (2014, Reissue)

Last up in my Johnny Cash American series reviews is the fifth of the bunch, A Hundred Highways.  As I had said earlier, I already had the original pressings of IV and VI, so I won't be writing about them, but adding V to the collection gives me the complete set of six.

Like all of the other Johnny Cash reissues, this one sounds fantastic.  They did a great job of presenting these songs in the best possible light and I really recommend anyone who is a fan to grab them.  They've actually done a box set of all six that I probably should have tried to get.  I just figured since I already had two of them why buy them again, but it would have been worth it to have that nice set in the collection.

Musically, it's hard to talk too much about this record with any sort of perspective.  It was the first of two American albums to come out after Johnny Cash had died.  He sounds weak in some of these songs and there is definitely a mood over the record that is hard to pin down.  Despite any frailties due to age or illness, Cash is still a master of presenting songs and making them his.  While I don't think this is my favorite of the bunch, it's still an amazing assortment of incredible songs.

I love the six Johnny Cash American records.  It's what opened the door to his music for me.  I've spent a fair amount of time going backwards and listening to his older albums as well and he was just a once in a lifetime performer.  I'm hopeful at some point they decide to put out the Unearthed box set on vinyl as well.  It deserves as respectful of a treatment as these LPs have received.

Johnny Cash - "Like The 309":

Johnny Cash - "A Legend In My Time":

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hey Mandible - The Arse LP - Green Vinyl (/500)

Untitled

Fort Lowell (2015)

I'll admit it, I'm completely perplexed by this record.  I just don't know what to make of it.  It was sent to me for review and when I first took a look at the cover art and the fact that this band thought it would be a good idea to name their album The Arse, I figured it would probably be pretty terrible.  However, when I popped it on the turntable to give it a listen, it couldn't have been more different than I thought it would sound.

Hey Mandible definitely have a mid 90's sludgy Sub-Pop-trying-to-find-themselves-after-the-grunge-explosion sort of sound. Right from the start of the album's first song "Supernovatone" you're smacked in the face with this vocal effect that sounds like it's something right out of the bad dreams of bands like Six Finger Satellite.  The album gets progressively poppier and more upbeat from there, but I'm not sure that was the best idea for a lead off track.

There's some interesting guitar noise throughout the album.  The one sheet wants to push a Dinosaur Jr. comparison, but I'm not sure any of the leads really get that intricate.  That being said the band is not just recycling power chords on here. You can tell they've put thought and effort into these songs; they're just not connecting with me for whatever reason.

While this isn't a bad record by any stretch of the imagination, more than anything Hey Mandible reminds me of the type of bands from the 90's that I didn't like listening to at the time.  I had this buddy Joe in high school that would have loved this. He was always trying to get me to listen to bands that were playing this sort of rock, but I just couldn't ever get into it.  Maybe if Hey Mandible can target the Joe demographic they'll find some more fans, but I can't see myself listening to this very often.

Hey Mandible - The Arse LP:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News 2xLP

Untitled

Epic (2011, Reissue)

Modest Mouse Monday.  This is probably the record that people are most familiar with, in general, when it comes to Modest Mouse.  Though I wouldn't argue it is their number one record, it is certainly the one with the big hit song, "Float On."  I love that song, I'm glad the band gained more notoriety from it.  Like last week's album, I did have a copy of the original vinyl pressing of this record, but I sold it around the same time for equally silly eBay money.  Luckily I was correct in my thoughts that it would get reissued.

Also, as I did with The Moon & Antarctica, I grabbed this album during a Best Buy online vinyl sale.  I believe I got it for $10, but I picked it up a few months ago so I don't remember for sure.  The cover of mine got a little dinged up during shipping, but it's not too bad.

Modest Mouse was never more poppy and accessible than they were on "Float On," but the album as a whole is equally great. "The World At Large," "Ocean Breathes Salty" and "Black Cadillacs" are incredible songs and the entire album is just littered with good tunes.  Like all Modest Mouse records, I think it goes a little long.  My opinion has always been if the band were able to cut out about 3 or 4 songs from each album, everything would end up a little tighter.  That being said, I'm sure there are plenty of people glad to have as much Modest Mouse as humanly possible crammed into each album.

Modest Mouse - "Black Cadillacs:

Modest Mouse - "Ocean Breathes Salty":

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Legendary Wings - Do You See? LP - Blue Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Dirtnap (2015)

I've remarked to a few friends as of late that I think 2015 is starting off kind of slow for new music.  Between reissues and older records that I need in the collection, there's never a shortage of things for me to write about, but I feel like 2015 as a whole isn't really living up to the last few years.  Now it's only April, so there is plenty of time to pick up but slower times make me appreciate a record like this from Legendary Wings even more.

Now, it's not perfect.  Do You See? is really short. Shorter in total length and a lot of shorter songs making up the album.  They also have quite a few movie/TV quotes inserted before and after a lot of their songs.  While it's not quite as frequent as it was on their killer debut album, I still can't say I'm a really big fan of that.

Now the songs themselves are pretty tremendous.  Legendary Wings puts forth a wave of fuzzy guitar and pounding drum beats.  Every song is as catchy as they come and this is a band extremely skilled at writing a big time chorus.  I wouldn't say they sound like the Marked Men, because they don't, but I think they are playing in the same ballpark as bands like that do.  Not quite garage, certainly not pop punk, but taking some of the best elements of both and turning it into some kick ass guitar rock.

Despite some minor silly complaints, I heartily recommend picking up this album along with the band's debut from a couple of years ago.  While maybe not the most famous name on the Dirtnap roster, they can certainly hang with the big boys from an album quality standpoint.

Legendary Wings - Do You See?:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Johnny Cash - American III: Solitary Man LP

Untitled

American (2014, Reissue)

The third of the Johnny Cash American Recordings releases is as great as the previous two.  When this album came out I was an intern at the radio promotions company that I eventually ended up working at for several years.  So while I didn't officially promote this record, it was nice to feel that I was involved with it just a little bit.  The three main promo folks in my department all got autographed Johnny Cash posters out of this campaign.  I was pretty jealous of those.

As far as the record itself goes, once again Cash has picked some incredible songs and somehow made them his own.  From "I Won't Back Down" to "Solitary Man" to to his incredible take on what may be the only U2 song I actually like, "One," it amazes me how Johnny Cash can put his stamp on a tune like no other.  For me, the absolute highlight is "The Mercy Seat."  The way that song reaches its slow building crescendo is just a thing of beauty.

Like the other two before it, this reissue sounds just fantastic.  I won't call it a flawless pressing, because I'm not sure I'm enough of an audiophile to really make that sort of judgment, but I can tell you that I don't think this record has ever sounded better.  I won't actually be reviewing American IV as I already have an original copy of that one (though I am tempted to re-buy as these reissues sound so good), so next up is American V.

Johnny Cash - "The Mercy Seat":

Johnny Cash - "One":

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Audacity - Cold Rush 7" - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Recess (2014)

One of the best discoveries I've made over the past few years has been Audacity.  They've been putting out some pretty flawless records and their summertime power pop is just a joy to listen to.  It's even more appropriate than ever since the spring is finally starting to pry the temperatures around here out of the twenties and thirties and into something that's you can actually live in.

Audacity is the definition of windows down, tunes up rock and roll.  You've got the jangly guitar and the slightly (slightly, not annoyingly so) fuzzy vocals crammed into these little nuggets of pop rock. This Japan tour 7" contains a different version of "Cold Rush" from their last album.  Honestly, while I can tell it is different, I wouldn't say it's a huge change from the album version.  Also on the 7" is "Dentist Appt." This one is a little slower, but still hangs with anything from Audacity's past catalog.

Finally, you get a download for a third song called "Fun Spot."  This one is back to being upbeat, though I don't know why they didn't just put this song on the 7" and leave the alternate version of an already released song to the digital download realm.  That's just me.  Still, it's a cool little 7" to pick up.  Audacity pretty much can do know wrong and I hope they're huddled together in a studio somewhere recording a new album and continuing to do no wrong.

Audacity - Cold Rush 7":
http://recessrecords.bandcamp.com/album/japan-ep

Monday, April 6, 2015

Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica 2xLP

Untitled

Epic (2012, Reissue)

The main reason we're even having a Modest Mouse Monday on this website is because of The Moon & Antarctica.  While not the first Modest Mouse songs I had heard, this is definitely the point in time where everything clicked and I became a fan.  I actually had the original pressing of this from when it first came out.  But around 2008-ish, it was selling for about $100 and at the time I needed that $100 more than I needed the record.  Besides, there's just no way it wouldn't have been rereleased at some point, right?

By now it's actually been rereleased a few times.  This is the 2010 Tenth Anniversary Edition.  I got it for an absolute steal during some website sale that Best Buy was having.  I want to say it was under $10, but I can't be positive of that.  Regardless, I'm happy to have it back in the collection.  While I think the highs may be higher on some Modest Mouse records, I also think the lows are lower on the rest.  The Moon & Antarctica is the band's most consistent effort in my opinion and my feelings for this record are probably also enhanced by the fact that this is the record that started me listening to them.  I always find that a band's first record that winds up in my collection tends to have more of an impact on me than any others.

Not much to say about this specific reissue.  The double LP on 180 gram vinyl is as you would expect.  Artwork looks nice.  I'm not sure if there's a definitive version of this album to own, but this one certainly works out just fine for me.

Modest Mouse - 3rd Planet:

Modest Mouse - A Different City:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

ИO///sé - Lower Berth LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

1859 / Man In Decline (2015)

The first ИO///sé record was one that I came around to a bit later than others (and missed out on the limited colored vinyl version in the process).  Despite my tardy arrival, I played the hell out of that record and more than made up for lost time.  When their new album, Lower Berth, was announced, I made sure I was first in line with my preorder and this time the colored vinyl is mine.

ИO///sé is a unique combination of some of my favorite kinds of rock and roll.  You've got the raspy vocals of a Leatherface, there's the darker leaning, downstroke crazed assault of Hot Snakes and everything is filtered through a Marked Men like knack for catchy tunes and killer choruses.  Needless to say, ИO///sé is a pretty great band.  I'll admit to being a bit concerned when I first put on Lower Berth as the opener "If I Told You Once" was a bit harsher than I was expecting.  It's still a solid song, but it's not quite what I am looking for from these guys.

Turns out to just be a blip on the radar. By the time "The Little Things You Love To Hate" roars through the speakers, ИO///sé is hitting all of the marks that I want from them.  Lower Berth is just crammed full of stellar songs. It's absolutely one of the best records to come out in 2015 so far and I think both labels still have a few of the colored vinyl versions kicking around if you hurry.

ИO///sé - Lower Berth:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nervous Twitch - Jonny's Got A Gun 7" - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Punk Fox (2015)

Punk Fox probably came pretty close to not even sending me this 7".  I had said in my last review of one of their records that I felt bad about not liking anything they sent and maybe it would save them money if they didn't send them to me.  Well, like the troopers they are, they soldiered on and sent over their 5th release from a band called Nervous Twitch.  This is far and away the best record they have ever sent my way.

The first of three songs, "Jonny's Got A Gun," is a three chord blast of upbeat punk rock mixed with the vocals of classic 60's girl groups.  It's short, but they cram a ton of energy into that small amount of time and the song really reminds me of bands like The Baby Shakes.  "And We Did" slows things down just a little bit, but it still retains the enthusiasm and general likability of the first track.  At this point I am really digging this 7".

Only the final song, "This Modern World," doesn't quite live up to the rest of this record.  It is again a bit slower and seems to lack the fun of the other songs.  It's easily the most serious song of the bunch and while I don't have anything bad to say about it, I think it kind of stands out as having a totally different vibe of the other two.

All in all this is a nice little 7".  I would definitely recommend to to anyone into some of the more recent groups like The Baby Shakes or Stolen Hearts that have been kicking around.  Pretty good stuff.

Nervous Twitch - "Jonny's Got A Gun":

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Johnny Cash - American II: Unchained LP

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American (2014, Reissue)

This is the album that turned me into a Johnny Cash fan.  Prior to hearing it, I don't know that I had ever given much thought to him at all.  In my mind he was probably just some old country singer, but after hearing Unchained my opinion was forever changed.  In 1996 I was writing at my college newspaper, mostly doing album reviews but also a handful of interviews when a band came to town.  When I opened up the mail one day I saw that I had been sent the new Johnny Cash record by the label.  I'm not sure that even then I would have really paid that much attention, but there was one thing that made me immediately put the CD into the player.

The first track of Unchained is a cover of "Rowboat" by Beck.  It's one of my favorite Beck songs and in 1996, I was a pretty gigantic Beck fan (I still am, but the pre-Odelay stuff has always been my favorite).  Cash's take on Rowboat is a baritone filled somber affair.  I won't say that his voice elevates the song, but it changes it and gives it a different meaning to me.  I'm not going to be the first person to say that Johnny Cash has a unique ability to make a song his own, but I will reinforce it.

The rest of the record is equally great.  The Soundgarden cover "Rusty Cage" is probably one of his more famous covers and deserves all of the accolades heaped on it.  "Sea Of Heartbreak," "I Never Picked Cotton," "Solitary Man" and "I've Been Everywhere" are all stone cold classics.  I love every one of the Johnny Cash American albums, but Unchained was my first and will probably always be my favorite.  Having this record on vinyl and the vinyl sounding so ridiculously good makes my record collection feel just a bit more complete.

Johnny Cash - "Rowboat":

Johnny Cash - "I've Been Everywhere":

Monday, March 30, 2015

Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West 2xLP - Split Color Vinyl (/1000)

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Glacial Pace (2014, Reissue)

Even though this was the album that really put Modest Mouse on the map, I still wasn't following them at all when this record first came out.  I do have vivid memories of seeing it sitting around in record stores, but I never wanted to buy it.  I thought I knew Modest Mouse and was pretty confident that I did not like them.

After changing my mind on the band in the early 2000's, I went backwards and added The Lonesome Crowded West to my CD collection.  The vinyl was hopelessly out of print and even though I had finally come around to Modest Mouse, I certainly wasn't about to pay the insane prices that the vinyl version was going for.  At its peak I'd seen it for $300 - $400 and I just don't like this record that much.

For years there were rumors about this reissue and when it finally was announced last year, I jumped at the chance to grab the wacky limited colored version from Newbury Comics.  Sure it was a few dollars more than the black vinyl, but I am just a complete sucker for split colored vinyl.  I think it came out looking great.  They kept the two sleeve layout of the original version and they did a decent job of matching the vinyl colors to the artwork.

Musically it was silly of me to have written off this record before I ever heard it, but I've had over 10 years of this being in my CD collection, so I have had a chance to make up for lost time.  I'd argue about whether or not this is definitely the best Modest Mouse record, but it is very, very good.  It still has the ramshackle feeling of their first release, but they were absolutely becoming a more polished band at this point.  Maybe they weren't writing full on pop songs yet, but you could tell that they were growing as musicians and songwriters.  It's a record that still sounds pretty fresh even though it's nearly twenty years old.

For Modest Mouse Monday next week, I'll be going over The Moon And Antarctica.  That's the Modest Mouse record that finally brought me on board.

Modest Mouse - "Teeth Like Gods Shoeshine":

Modest Mouse - "Polar Opposites":