Friday, November 21, 2014

The Blind Shake - Breakfast Of Failures LP - White Vinyl

Untitled

Goner (2014)

Every time I write something about The Blind Shake I always make mention of how I think it's a little weird that I like them as much as I do.  The recording and vocals tend to be blown out and in the red all the time.  The songs aren't obviously catchy.  But for some reason this band just gets me every single time.

Breakfast Of Failures is their latest and it's full of the same sort of chaotic fuzzy blasts of rock and roll.  The guitar sound that this band manages to get is just ridiculous.  It's just so huge, noisy and powerful.  I would say this album is a bit darker than their last, Key To A False Door, but it's every bit as good.  This is a band that can pair driving rhythms and howling vocals better than pretty much anyone else and I;m just drawn in by the energy and enthusiasm they manage to capture in their recordings.

Also of note, just yesterday it was officially announced that The Blind Shake and John Reis are going to release a surf record together early next year.  They also posted a small handful of tour dates.  You can bet I bought my tickets to that immediately.

Oh, some housekeeping notes.  With Thanksgiving looming, I'm going to be taking next week off from writing up reviews.  I'll be back with some new records on Monday, December 1st.  We'll then begin that December march into the top records of 2014.  This year is flying by.

The Blind Shake - "Parachute":

The Blind Shake - "Old Lake":

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Your Pest Band - Other Bore 7"

Untitled

Episode (2014)

You could make an argument that Your Pest Band is the hardest working band in punk rock.  I feel like every other month, I look up and they have a new single or a new album.  Not that I'm complaining as they hit it out of the park nearly every time.

In fact, this 7" is one of my favorite things they have ever done.  A-Side "Other Bore" is built off of a lead guitar line that takes me back to 60's girl group rock.  Now, the vocals change up that feeling very quick, but it's a great song.  Somewhat slower than a lot of what Your Pest Band typically puts out, but extremely poppy.  I hope to hear more from them in this vein.

B-side "Dice" is just a hit song.  Fast, driving with big hooks.  It's classic, straightforward Your Pest Band mod/punk.  I can't really say enough good things about it, it is one of the best things they've put out.  Plus the video they have up for it just makes them look like the coolest bunch of dudes you've ever seen.  Great stuff.

Your Pest Band - "Dice":

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unwound - Kandy Korn Rituals 7"

Untitled

This week's Unwound Wednesday is the Kandy Korn Rituals 7".  While I can say for sure that I do not like candy corn, my thoughts on this 7" are a little bit mixed.  The first two songs, "Kandy Korn Rituals" and "Against" are really loud and screamy.

While I give Unwound more slack than I would most bands about that sort of thing, these particular songs end up seeming kind of one dimensional.  What I always liked about Unwound was their ability to sharply cut from slow and brooding to loud and full of rage at the drop of a hat.  Both of these are pretty much non stop chaos aside from some feedback between the two songs.

The third song, "Hating In D" is much more in line with the Unwound that really gets me.  The chorus is an explosion of energy, but the verse is much more laid back and is driven by the bass guitar.  The problem with this song is that it was recorded live, so you lose some fidelity there.  The more I'm revisiting these old 7"s the more obvious it is how much Unwound evolved over the course of their time together.  But as my goal is to have a complete 7" collection of theirs, I'm going to end up with some crazy loud early singles, that's for sure.

Unwound - Kandy Korn Rituals 7":

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Koji Kondo - Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack 7" - Orange Vinyl (/500)

Untitled

Do Jo Music (2014, Reissue)

Let's be clear about this.  Buying this 7" was a real waste of money if you're looking at it from a music perspective.  I'll be the first to admit it, and it's kind of silly that I bought a record I'm almost never going to listen to.  But the other side of the coin is that it's a pretty neat little thing just to own.  I collect records. I loved Super Mario Bros. as a kid.  This 7" is just a combination of the 2 things and I thought it would be neat to own.

I tried to pass on it.  When it originally went on sale I hemmed and hawed over the $16 price tag for a 7" and while I was hawing, the record just sold out.  I thought that was it, I just missed out.  No big deal.  But then it got restocked and I just couldn't resist.  I don't know what makes me buy things like this sometimes.  It's a character flaw I guess, but I can tell you that I am glad I got it because the packaging is pretty cool if nothing else.

The sleeve folds out into a little six panel poster with one side being a big illustration and the other side has screen shots from the actual video game.  There's also this sheet of paper with pictures of all the characters that seem to be meant to be cut out for reasons I can't fathom.  It would make more sense as a sticker sheet.

Music wise, the A-side is simply the music from the video game.  Well, it's the music from the above world boards from the video game.  There's no underworld music here, I would have liked that.  But a nice touch is that towards the end of the 'song' it shifts into the 'time running out' sped up music and ultimately concludes with the noise of your time running out.  Kind of cool.

The B-side says it contains on orchestral version of the song.  But it's really just the normal video game music with some odd sound effects and musical accents over some of the parts.  I would have preferred just more video game music honestly.  Maybe a split 7" with the Legend Of Zelda Theme? Regardless, I'm happy I bought it.  It's a cool thing to have, but as far as being a record that I'd listen to, I can't imagine it will really come out for any reason other than just to show it to someone who happens to be at my house and really likes Super Mario.

Koji Kondo - Super Mario Bros Soundtrack - Original Version:

Koji Kondo - Super Mario Bros Soundtrack - Orchestral Version:



Monday, November 17, 2014

Cloud Nothings - Now I'm Blind 7" - Clear Vinyl

Untitled

Polyvinyl (2014)

As most are aware, I love a good singles club.  I sign up for them all the time and I'm reasonably sure I still have a subscription to the Art Of The Underground series that just stopped putting out records for some reason.  Anyway, Polyvinyl's 4-Track Singles Series isn't one I subscribed to, but it's a pretty neat idea.  They have a 4-Track recorder.  They then take that same 4-Track recorder and mail it around to a bunch of bands who then record some new songs on it.  A neat concept, buy they didn't really sign up enough bands I like to make me want to subscribe.

There were two bands that contributed that I did want to track down though, Mikal Cronin and Cloud Nothings.  I managed to score the Cloud Nothings 7" for $16.  A bit pricey for a 7", but worlds cheaper than subscribing to a series I really had little interest in.  The two songs contributed are interesting listens, but cannot hold a candle to the greatness that is their last album.

The A-Side "Now I'm Blind" is a loud and explosive song. Cloud Nothings didn't cop out and contribute a few acoustic songs.  They went full band and really tested the limits of this little 4-Track.  It's blown out, fast and you can barely make out the echoey vocals floating in the background.  I would actually be interested in hearing a version of this song that wasn't quite so lo-fi.  There's just something about it that I'd like to hear more of.

B-side "Living World" isn't really my thing.  It's more of a slower, noisy offering.  I wouldn't exactly call it a noise collage or anything, but it's certainly not a pop song.  It's dark and somewhat meandering.  Again, interesting, but not the sort of thing I'm going to be rushing back to the turntable to play again and again.  

I am glad I was able to get this record without having to commit to eleven other 7"s.  As Cloud Nothings' album Here and Nowhere Else is battling for my number one album of the year, I absolutely want to grab everything that they're currently releasing.  And as I had mentioned earlier, if anyone has a lead on the Mikal Cronin 7" from this set at a good price, please let me know.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Low Culture / Needles//Pins - Split 7" - Clear Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Dirtnap (2014)

I just love Low Culture and Needles//Pins.  I've been writing nice things about both bands for a while, but I feel like they've never really gotten their due.  Low Culture, I think, tends to get lumped in with and then somewhat overshadowed by other Marked Men spin-offs.  Needles//Pins also end up being grouped in with a lot of the current exceptional Canadian garage-y/pop bands of the moment and I've always felt they weren't being given their due.  This 7" lets both bands shine and if there is any justice in the world, both will be recognized for the phenomenal bands that they are.

Low Culture provide 2 fast paced, energetic and extremely catchy songs.  Both are as good if not better than anything on their 2013 album Screens (Go get that now if you don't already have it).  "Reservations" builds off of a deceptively simple guitar rift for the verse and then just explodes into the chorus.  It also has a really cool instrumental breakdown popped in the middle.  "Don't Tell Me" is a bit more straightforward pop, but every bit as great with those "ooh ooh" backing vocals that get me every time.

Needles//Pins are definitely a little scuzzier and less refined than some bands, but in that scuzz the band is writing such incredible pop songs it blows my mind.  The lead guitar riff that starts off "Hateful" (and then kind of acts as the chorus for the rest of the song) is so great.  It's a hit single in every sense of the term. "Bored" sounds like it would have easily fit in on their last album Shamebirds.  Classic Needles//Pins with scratchy vocals, fuzzy guitars and a killer hook.

Hopefully this 7" will really show people the greatness of these two.  Not only should you pick up the 7", it's a crime to not have both of these bands' recent full lengths in your collection.  I suggest you correct that oversight as soon as possible.

Low Culture / Needles//Pins - Split 7":

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Unwound - Corpse Pose 7"

Untitled

Kill Rock Stars (1996)

Unwound Wednesday! By the time 1996's Corpse Pose 7" came out, I wasn't listening to as much Unwound as I had the past couple of years.  I was actually starting to burn out on a lot of that Pacific Northwest scene and had had my fill of bands like godheadSilo and Karp.  I was moving on to focus on poppier bands at the time, but in doing so, I really missed out on some killer Unwound songs.

"Corpse Pose" is just quintessential, brooding Unwound.  The steady bass line and drumming provided a really strong canvas for Jostin Trosper's guitar antics.  The verse is a bit more upbeat than the chorus, but the way the song just kind of freezes for the repetition of the phrase "corpse pose" in the chorus is some pretty masterful songwriting.  It's deceptively simple, but extremely effective.

B-Side "Everything Is Weird" is equally great.  It's a bit more fast paced and punk driven, but it maintains the more mature elements that Unwound had been bringing into their records.  Just like "Corpse Pose," the bass lines just holds the whole song together and really stand out as being something special.  Granted, I had been listening to these two songs a bit more regularly due to their inclusion on the most recent third Unwound box set that came out, but it's still pretty great to add the original 7" to the collection.

Unwound - "Corpse Pose" (This is the album version, not the single version, the mixing is a little different):

Unwound - "Everything Is Weird":

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The No Marks / Not For... - Split CD

Untitled

Fixing-A-Hole (2014)

Though I do not really buy too many CDs these days, I always give a pass to anything released in Japan, where CD is still king.  This CD wasn't something that I thought I urgently needed to add to my pile of records, but I do want to have a complete No Marks collection.  Maybe not every variant, but certainly every release.

For the No Marks part of this split, it's the 4 songs that were already released on vinyl through 2 split 7"s.  The songs are every bit as fantastic as they were when I originally wrote about them, but as a quick refresher, they're absolutely stellar melodic punk rock.  File them under 90's influenced UK pop punk.  They're truly one of my favorite bands at the moment.

Not For... did provide something new on this CD and their three songs are played in the key of Snuffy Smiles.  Being from Japan surely has something to do with it, but these guys would fit right in on a Snuffy Smiles 7".  They're big on anthemic choruses with gruff vocals and they particularly remind me of a mix between The Urchin and Cradle To Grave.  Chances are, if you like any of the Japanese pop punk that I write about on this website, there's a pretty good likelihood that Not For... will be right up your alley.


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Moderns - When She Gets Back 7"

Untitled

UT Records (2014)

So I can't pretend to know a lot about the history of this 7", but in a nutshell this was recorded some 35 years ago and best I can tell was never released.  UT records has corrected that tragedy and thank goodness they did, as losing these songs forever would have been a real shame.

70s - 80s power pop can be a dicey thing for me sometimes.  While I virtually always like it, I'm not often completely blown away by anything.  Then, I watch other people, whose musical taste I really respect, go crazy for something and I'm left feeling like I just don't get it.  Well, this is not a problem for me with The Moderns. I definitely get this. I'm especially glad that UT records sent this to me to review.  I honestly don't know if I would have ever known how much I'd like it if left to my own devices.

On this 7" are 3 songs worth of upbeat, clean guitar driven pop songs.  There's a slight amount of echo on the vocals (as bands were wont to do back then), but other than that the production is very strong and all 3 songs are quite catchy.  These songs remind me a lot of Gentleman Jesse (for a modern reference) meets The Vacant Lot (for a dumb, not so modern reference that's probably not all that helpful to a lot of people).  Regardless, all 3 songs are top notch and if power pop is your bag, this 7" should be that bag.

The Moderns - When She Gets Back 7":

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dan Sartain - Romance In Stereo LP - Pink Vinyl

Untitled

Shed House (2014, Reissue)

Romance In Stereo is one of the 'lost' Dan Sartain albums.  Though a lot of the tracks later appeared on the Sartain Family Legacy CD, even that is getting harder and harder to find these days.  Aside from its original and extremely limited 1st and only pressing on CD, Romance In Stereo has mostly just existed as a record that people heard about but few actually had.  I was a lucky one and managed to snag a copy of the CD on eBay a few years back, but I had always wished it had come out on vinyl.

It seems that wishes do come true and finally this lost gem is back and on vinyl.  Some of my favorite Dan Sartain songs are on here such as "Boy She Knew, " "Walk Among The Cobras Pt. 2," and "Carry Weight."  Dan's crooning on top of the lo-fi and sparse instrumentation captures a certain kind of magic. Although I think my favorite Dan Sartain record will probably always be Join Dan Sartain; Romance In Stereo and Dan's other early self released album Crimson Guard will always hold a special spot for me.

When I was originally looking into buying this record from the record label that released it, Shed House, I got really pissed off.  I was going to write this whole big article about record labels screwing over record collectors and what BS it was.  I've calmed down a lot over the past few weeks and the label did actually lower their album prices at their website, so I guess he's trying.  But I wanted to bring up a few things that I think are wrong.

1. There was a pink splatter variant of this record limited to 25 copies.  The only way that you can purchase it from the label is by buying a pack of 4 copies of this album. The pack contains one copy on pink splatter, one copy on solid pink, one copy on black and a copy of the test pressing.  The cost of this package is $200.  I think it is completely and utterly absurd that you are forced to drop $50 per record if you want to get all of the variants.

And $50 per record is being generous since 2 of the 4 versions in the pack could be bought for way less than $50 bucks each, you end up paying a simply gigantic amount for the splatter variant and for the test pressing.  That is, of course, assuming that you have any interest in test pressings.

There have been labels in the past that have offered the opportunity to buy several variants of a single release in a bundle, sometimes even offering exclusive versions in that pack (Tiny Engines and their recent Beach Slang 7" comes to mind).  However, these labels typically offer a discount to the buyer for purchasing multiple copies of the same record, they don't jack up the price.  Isn't the fact that you're willing to buy several copies of the same album enough? Why try to get more out of your most hardcore buyer?

I realize no one is forcing anyone to buy this pack, and as you can tell, I didn't buy it.  But, I think it's pretty lame that I have to give up on my Dan Sartain variant collection because the guy at the label wants to charge high end eBay prices for his own records.

2. The standard version of this record is on pink vinyl limited to 250 copies.  The label was selling it for $20 plus shipping (which for reasons I don't fully understand they will only ship priority mail so that's another $9.50 in shipping costs).  While I think that's a little steep, it's not out of this world and I wouldn't call it unfair pricing for a small label in today's world.  I am not picking up the pitchfork over that.  But the next limited version is on black vinyl and that is limited to 50 copies.  When this was put on sale, the cost was $25 for this version.  Why is it $5 more than the pink vinyl version? Because it's more limited.

I contacted the guy at the label to ask why on earth a black vinyl version would cost $5 more than a colored vinyl version and he gave some vague answer about circumstances dictating it being necessary and concluded "With only 50 copies made, it's not a bad price.  I would pay it and I don't expect others to pay prices I wouldn't pay." Black vinyl traditionally costs less than colored vinyl to produce, so the only thing I can come up with is that Shed House records is trying to get more money out of record collectors by creating an intentionally limited and higher priced version of this version.  I just think that's nuts.

There are plenty of labels that charge a buck or two more for the more limited colored vinyl version of their releases.  Fat Wreck Chords, Dirtnap and Goner all do this.  I have never once complained about this practice and regularly (and happily) pay the extra money to own the more limited version of the record.  I am totally fine with this because colored vinyl costs more to make and it's only one or two dollars.  But to gouge someone for five extra dollars simply so they can have the privilege of buying a rare version of your record (which isn't even the rarest version) just doesn't sit well with me.  Now in fairness, since these records went on sale, the label has dropped the price of both versions and the pink vinyl is now $15 while the black vinyl is $20.  I assume because they weren't selling at their original prices.  But he's still going after that extra five bucks.  It just makes me crazy.

I spoke with my wallet.  I wasn't comfortable with the record collecting/punk rock ethics of the label.  So I was thrilled when Dan Sartain himself started selling some copies of the pink vinyl version of Romance In Stereo on his Bandcamp page.  I happily paid the $20 for the pink vinyl version to Dan (only $5 for him to ship it) and I feel great knowing the money has gone right to the artist.

I'm honestly not trying top start shit.  I, more than a lot of people, know the costs of running a label.  That's why PopKid records has been dormant for the past 10 years.  It's an expensive hobby and I applaud anyone who is out there trying to get music they love out to people.  I am also ecstatic that someone put out Romance In Stereo out on vinyl.  But all of the weird pricing and overcharging for variants leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

At the end of the day I'm mostly just complaining because I can't afford to buy them.  I want them, I can't have them and I'm annoyed.  I don't mind missing out on a rare record because I wasn't paying attention or didn't get my order in quick enough.  That's the law of the jungle.  If I then have to over pay on eBay to get the record in my collection, so be it.  At least other collectors are setting the price.  I just don't see how a small indie label can arbitrarily decide how much their 'rare' record is worth.  I would never do that with my record label.  But that's just me.

This wound up being way longer than I meant it to be.  Apologies to Dan if this bothers him.  Apologies to Shed House records if this causes anyone to not buy the now very fairly priced $15 normal version of this record.  I'm happy the record is in my collection, and it really should be in everyone else's too.

Dan Sartain - Romance In Stereo:
http://joindansartain.bandcamp.com/album/romance-in-stereo

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright In The End LP

Untitled

Republic (2014)

I have to admit, never in a million years did I ever think I would end up buying or reviewing a new Weezer album on this website.  Sure I have written about fancy versions of their first two albums, they are two of my all time favorites, but I have flat out hated everything they have released since then.  I'm not even one of those Green Album apologists.  Just because it's a little better than the others doesn't mean that it isn't awful.  And it is truly, truly awful. Go listen to "Hash Pipe." I dare you.

Time and time again a new Weezer album has come out and someone said "Oh, it's their best since Pinkerton."  I'd give it a listen online and come to the same conclusion.  Weezer and Jimmy Eat world must be in some sort of contest to see who can write the most awful and embarrassing record.  Weezer typically was the winner.

When Everything Will Be Alright In The End was ramping up to be released, I heard the same scuttlebutt I always hear, it's the best since Pinkerton.  As usual, I fell for it and gave it a listen online.  You know what?  This record is legitimately the best thing Weezer has done since Pinkerton.  Not only that, I actually like it.  Quite a bit - to the point where I spent money on buying a copy on vinyl.  Who would have thought?

Now, if you're of the mindset, you can absolutely pick this record apart and find several annoying things.  All of the 2nd track "Back To The Shack" is terrible with really awful lyrics.  There's this weird riff breakdown that pops up on "Cleopatra" where the band inexplicably starts counting by fives ("Five ten fifteen twenty...") that almost kills the whole song.  The whistling on "DaVinci" is kind of annoying and the 3-song "Futurescope Trilogy" that closes out the album is a little self indulgent.  Being that Weezer has been making me so mad for so many years, I could be hyper critical of this record and not allow myself to like it.  But I don't see why I'd do that.

From start to finish, Everything Will Be Alright In The End is a fun Weezer record. Is it comparable to Pinkerton or Blue? Of course not.  But I think many of the songs are just as good as the B-sides from that golden era.  If this had come out instead of the Green album, I would have been a little let down, but still perfectly happy with a new third Weezer record.  Plain and simple, I just like listening to it.  The songs are good for the most part, I find that the hooks are constantly getting stuck in my head and I feel like I can just ignore the last 15 years of terrible records.  I hope this album does well enough for Weezer to encourage Rivers to keep writing songs like this.  If he keeps writing them, I'll keep buying them.

Weezer - "Ain't Got Nobody":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbLsgH-yn5c

Weezer - "Eulogy For A Rock Band":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du8ayiNj42g

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Unwound - You Bite My Tongue 7"

Untitled

Gravity (1993)

More Unwound Wednesday action.  This time in the form of their one sided 1993 single from Gravity (Though this appears to be the 1996 repress with the grey sleeve).  This is only one sided as on the B-side there is an elaborate etching of just a bunch of text.  It's pretty neat actually, but I wouldn't mind that space being taken up by some more songs.

This era of Unwound is pretty good stuff.  It's punky and fast and shouty, but is starting to show signs of the underlying sludge and darkness that would start to creep into their songs over the next few years.  It's the band at the height of their angry and loud phase.

Despite it being one sided, they still manage to cram 3 songs on here: "You Bite My Tongue," Kid Is Gone Chant Of Vengeance," and Understand And Forget."  "You Bite My Tongue" is likely the highlight of this bunch as it's a but more textured and dynamic than the comparative straightforwardness of the other 2.  I'm starting to run out of Unwound 7"s already, I'm going to have to pick a few more up so I can keep Unwound Wednesday going.

Unwound - "You Bite My Tongue":

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Creeps - Eulogies LP - Grey Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

It's Alive (2014)

I've been a fan of The Creeps for a few years now.  While some dismiss their dark lyrics as gimmicky, I always found that it was more like the band was picking a specific sandbox to play in.  Regardless, one thing is for sure, these fellows sure know how to write some catchy songs.

The best part about the The Creeps fixation with darkness and depression is that it keeps their pop punk songs from slipping into something goofy.  I can take their music seriously and still appreciate the phenomenal hooks and catchy choruses they're cramming into every song.  Every time I write about The Creeps I always end up comparing them to an old 90's band from England called Reverse. In particular, I still think the singers have similar deliveries, but both bands also know the subtle art of making your song full of energy without having to rely on playing it 1000 miles an hour.

Of all of The Creeps' records I've heard, to me Eulogies is their best.  The band has been around for a while and have been getting better and better with every record.  They're reached the top of their game with this new album and it's been in heavy, heavy rotation for me since it arrived a few weeks ago.

The Creeps - Eulogies:


Monday, November 3, 2014

Samiam - Soar LP - Purple Vinyl

Untitled

New Red Archives (1991, 2012 Reissue)

Soar is one of only 2 Samiam records that was missing from my budding collection of their full length albums (the last one left that I don't have is Billy).  So far my favorite of the bunch has been Clumsy, but they've all been pretty good.  The one that I've liked the least was their first self titled one, so I was slightly apprehensive on whether or not I would like Soar, as it is Samiam's sophomore effort.

I had no reason at all to be concerned, the leap in songwriting quality from the self titled debut to Soar is remarkable.  It's so much more melodic and well paced.  To me, Samiam;s debut was just a little too shouty and 'punk rock' for a band that was so obviously striving for a poppier sound.  They shelved all of the over the top angst and crafted an album full of energetic, passionate songs.

There are so many highlights, but for me to shining moments are "Slumbering," "Someone's Got To Lose" and "Sky Flying By." They're just perfectly crafted.  I am extremely excited to pick up Billy next.  After hearing what the band achieved on Soar and knowing what they accomplished on Clumsy; the fact that Billy is the album that got them signed to a major makes me think it's probably pretty great.  I guess we'll see.

Samiam "Sky Flying By":

Samiam - "Slumbering":

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Small - Silver Gleaming Death Machine LP

Untitled

Alias (1995)

Whether you want to call them Small or Small 23, this band is just so great.  Though their legacy isn't as well remembered as some of their peers like Archers Of Loaf, Superchunk or Knapsack; Small is another one of those quintessential 1990's bands that deserve a spot in any well respected record collection.  Though the acquisition of this on vinyl is new to me, I have had the CD of this album forever.

You really could make a strong argument for 1994's Chin Music, but with a gun to my head I'd probably pick Silver Gleaming Death Machine as my favorite Small record.  From the moment that chugging guitar riff on album opener "Steal Some Candy" fires up, I'm just hopelessly captivated by this Chapel Hill powerhouse.  While they are fully entrenched in indie rock, Small, like Superchunk, always pushed towards an upbeat more punk rock sound.  They are masters of the catchy chorus and every song just contains hook after hook.

Honestly I could go on and on about this band, But all you really need is to take a listen to "The Bert Factor."  With its start stop guitar in the verse, its gigantic chorus hook and some tasteful lead guitar shredding; it's a pretty perfect representation of what an incredible band they were.  To me, it seems that every band from the 90's is getting back together for a victory lap, whether it's deserved or not.  While I have a feeling Small probably won't be one of those bands that receive a big money offer for a reunion, they're one of the older bands I'd like most to see come to town and play the hits.

Small - "The Bert Factor":

Small - "Do The Math":


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unwound - Caterpillar 7"

Untitled

Kill Rock Stars (1991)

Maybe we'll do Unwound Wednesday for a few weeks here.  I've got a small pile of Unwound 7"s that I bought recently along with their 3rd box set on Numero, so I can keep it up for a few weeks anyway.

Caterpillar was Unwound's very first 7" on Kill Rock Stars.  The fact that this record is 23 years old is kind of crazy, not that I had it way back then.  But in 93-94 I was probably at the height of my Unwound fandom and was grabbing anything of theirs I could find. As I had mentioned last week, for some reason I got rid of all of my Unwound records in my mid 20's, but now I at least want to replenish my 7" collection.

Listening back on this 7" now, it's very obvious that this is a rough outline of what Unwound was going to become.  It's much more straightforward for the most part with some random outbursts of noise.  They're definitely going for a more traditional sludgy punk sound in these early days and were only just starting to figure out the kind of band they wanted to be.  It's an interesting listen for sure, but at best it's a blueprint for the future of Unwound.

Unwound - "Caterpillar":

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The No Marks - Light Of One LP - Clear w/ Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Brassneck (2014)

I know that at some point in the history of this website I've brought up the old T-shirt that Snuffy Smile records used to have.  It said "You Have Your Punk I Have Mine."  Now if anyone can get me that shirt, I'll pay handsomely for it, but the relevance that phrase has for me is enormous.  There has always been a strain of punk rock that has appealed to me the most and being in the US, there's really only been a small handful of people I've been able to share that with.  The No Marks epitomize this phrase to me as they are playing the exact kind of punk rock that I want to listen to.

UK based, The No Marks are tapping into that deep artery of amazing UK punk rock that flourished in the 1990s.  They are culling the best parts of bands like Chopper and Broccoli and Hooton 3 Car to create their incredible brand of melodic punk rock.  Like Broccoli, and to a lesser extent Leatherface, The No Marks keep the vocals full of melody, but still a little bit gruff and raspy.  While they're significantly smoother than Leatherface, the vocals still carry that same sort of lived in quality that really sets them apart from so many other bands.

Musically, you're going to get big hooks in the chorus and palm mutes in all the right places.  The band is masterful at intricate guitar work when the song calls for it, without crossing into self indulgent wanking that serves no purpose.  The songs are tight and the album just flies by.  For me to really try to spotlight the best songs on this album is nearly impossible, I'd end up writing about all of them.  It's one of the strongest, most consistent albums to come out this year.  

Frankly, it may be the best album that's come out this year.  I can only think of 2 others that even come close.  Light Of One has my absolute highest possible recommendation.  This is my kind of punk rock and I just hope there's a lot more from The No Marks in the future. 

The No Marks - Light Of One LP:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hurry - Everything/Nothing LP

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Hot Green (2014)

I had seen a post on the pop punk message board about this album along with a link to one of the songs so I decided to check it out.  I liked what I heard and I pre-ordered the record.  I'm always in the market for some new bands.  Sometimes I feel like I stay too focused on the tried and true and don't spend enough time cultivating new sounds.

Thus turned out to be a mixed bag.  As a whole it's pretty good, but there a couple of things that really keep me from enjoying the album as much as I could.  The biggest culprit is the blown out static filled vocals on every song.  While I'm not stranger to bands that do this and as a rule, I usually dig it, there are some instances where it can detract from the overall rock.  This is one of those times as the fuzzy vocals are a real minus for Hurry.  On the more upbeat songs it's not much of an issue, but as Everything/Nothing has its fair share of slower songs, the fuzz just totally blows out the softer moments that the band is trying to achieve,

That being said, when Huffy hits their stride, this album can be really enjoyable.  The absolute highlight of the record is "Oozing Positivity."  It's one of the faster songs, built on a catchy guitar riff and straight ahead drumming.  The vocals that you can hear through the fuzz compliment the instrumentation nicely and  there's some fun feedback laden guitar squall thrown into the breaks for good measure.

Sadly, the album isn't that consistently good.  I really feel that it would be so much better if they killed the effects that cover up the vocals on every song.  I realize I keep harping on that one issue, but unfortunately it's the one issue that really detracts from Hurry.

Hurry - Everything/Nothing LP:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Superchunk + Eleanor Friedberger - Live in NYC 7"

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Merge (2014)

This is a nice little novelty record, but it's certainly nothing essential.  2 live tracks featuring Superchunk along with Eleanor Friedberger.  It was recorded at the Bowery Ballroom in 2013, but the 7" itself was sold at Merge Records 25th anniversary bash this past year.  I was not at said bash, so I'm thankful that they put the leftovers for sale up on the Merge website.

The first song on here is a cover of the Ramones "Oh Oh I Love Her So" and the 2nd is a Patti Smith number "Free Money."  Neither one of these are really going to blow your socks off.  Recording quality is good and the band is tight as ever, but at the end of the day they're just cover songs.

Being the crazy Superchunk 7" collector that I am, it would have driven me all kinds of crazy if I didn't have this in my collection.  But it's really only something a completist like me would care all that much about.

Superchunk + Eleanor Friedberger - "Free Money" (Fan shot live video):

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Murmurs - Bound LP - Turquoise Vinyl (/100)

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Dead Broke (2014)

I've been looking forward to this album for a while.  I felt that Murmurs' debut was one of the most under praised albums of the last few years.  I'm not sure if folks will be dumb again this time out, but everyone should really pay attention to this album.  If you are looking for great, serious, but still melodic punk rock; this is the place.

It's impossible to write about Murmurs without name checking Jawbreaker.  No, Murmurs are not a carbon copy or anything close to that, but you can't ignore that this album certain shares the same sort of sonic space that Bivouac inhabits.  From the gruff vocals to the huge low tone guitar squall, you're just going to hear some Jawbreaker in this, and frankly I am totally fine with that.

The album starts off with a roar with "The Void."  The way the higher pitched backing vocals contrast with the darker tone of the song really makes it a standout.  From there it's just one incredible song after the next.  Not everything is in your face punk rock.  The band mixes things up so well, sprinkling in a few slower songs that really make the album dynamic from start to finish.

You're not going to find a guy who likes happy, upbeat, poppy rock and roll more than me.  But there are times where I want to listen to something darker and more powerful.  Murmurs absolutely scratches that itch and Bound is a can't miss top 10 of 2014 album.  You need this.

Murmurs - Bound:


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unwound - Mkultra 7"

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Kill Rock Stars (1993)

So, I've been on a real Unwound kick again ever since the Survival Knife record came out and Numero Group started their reissue series.  Despite Numero compiling all of the recorded output of this band into a few handy box sets, the record collector in me was itching to replace some of the old Unwound 7"s that I got rid of for some reason in my mid 20s.

I never had all of the Unwound 7"s as I was really only paying attention to them through The Future Of What back then, but I certainly had a few.  Now, I want them all.  I picked up a handful of used ones at the Green Noise distro recently, the first of which is Mkultra.  The two songs on here really display the extreme sides that Unwound was capable of.  "Mkultra" is a long, slow, brooding song.  The bass drags through the song, with sludgy guitar and drums coming along for the ride.  The vocals are harsh at times, but restrained at others.  I don't know that it's my favorite Unwound song, but it's still pretty neat.

B-side "Totality" is the complete opposite end of the Unwound spectrum.  Fast, loud, mostly instrumental with some occasional shouting here and there.  Again, is it the best Unwound song out there? No, but what a crazy contrast it provides to "MKultra."  It's a microcosm of the world Unwound lived in.  I loved this stuff when I was in high school, but ended up shelving it for a while.  It's nice to be able to go back and be as enthralled by them again as I was back then.

Unwound - "Mkultra":

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Your Pest Band - Time To Go LP

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Snuffy Smiles (2014)

I'm not sure how many times I have to say it before everyone agrees, so I'll try again.  Snuffy Smiles is the best record label in the world.  They've been putting out non-stop hits since the early 90's and continue to blow my mind every single time they release a new record into the wild.  Case in point is their current poster child band, Your Pest Band.  Your Pest Band has been cranking out records at almost an alarming rate.  I kind of can't comprehend how they've put out so many great releases over the last couple of years, yet still manage to change up their sound and remain fresh and exciting.

I will admit to not being as completely in love with their last album, In Your Doom.  I felt they stretched out their sound a little to much and sacrificed some of the scrappy pop punk that I love.  Time To Go may be the band's masterpiece.  They still take chances, from the slow, boozy almost Replacements-esque opener "Time To Go" to the twangy guitar riffs on "Await For Something," this is not a band afraid to exploring a multitude of sounds.  However, these explorations are held together with excellent punked up pop songs; the kind that Snuffy Smiles has built their name on over the past few decades.

For some reason, my copy of this record is a test pressing.  I just bought from a distro so I guess it just got mixed into the regular records somehow.  I'm not really into collecting test pressings, so it doesn't really matter to me, but I guess some folks might consider this hitting the lottery in some capacity.  I'm just happy to have a copy of this amazing record spinning around on my turntable.

Your Pest Band - "Time To Go":

Your Pest Band - "You Were The Rebel":

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shallow Cuts - Storm Watch 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/100)

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No Idea (2014)

As soon as this was being sold with the tag line 'featuring members of Dear Landlord' I was immediately on the No Idea website adding this 7" to my cart.  I love 2009's Dear Landlord record Dream Homes and have been waiting and waiting for a new album.  5 years on I get the feeling that's probably not happening, but if this 7" sounds anything like they did, it's a smart purchase.

Well, it's a mixed bag.  It's definitely very good, gruff, melodic punk rock.  It's has some of the darker elements of Dear Landlord, but it's just not quite in the same league.  If anything, Storm Watch is the victim of unrealistic expectations and when viewed as it's own release without trying to compare if to another band, it holds up pretty good.

It's 4 solid songs, but the best one is definitely "Calamine."  This is where the band really ramps things up energy wise.  It's got a fast poppy verse that blasts into a really hooky chorus.  But what really makes the song is the singalong breakdown right at the end.  Not taking away anything from the other 3, but if this song is any indication of what the band could achieve over the course of a full length, I'm almost as excited about it happening as I would be a new Dear Landlord.

Shallow Cuts - "SLC":

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Redd Kross / Vertical Scratchers - Split 7" - Pink Vinyl

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Merge (2014)

Time to line up some new Merge Records 7" series releases.  First up on this split we've got Redd Kross.  A stalwart on the indie punk scene, and when they put out songs like "Leave It Where You Found It" it's easy to see why.  This one is just a smash hit.  Over pounding drums and an fuzzy guitar riff, the band lays down some great, borderline British Invasion style vocal melodies.  It's probably even better than anything on their last full length "Researching The Blues."  One of the highlights of the entire series so far.

On the flip side we have a band called Vertical Scratchers.  I can't say I've ever heard of them prior to getting this 7", but I am intrigued after listening to their contribution, "Jackie's Favorite."  It's a good, upbeat pop song.  The guitars have a heavy jangle factor and it's got a really catchy chorus.  That being said, the vocals are a little off-putting.  Whenever the chorus hits, the singer leaps in to this super high pitched falsetto.  We're talking Bee Gees high pitched.  I won't go so far to say it ruins the song, but it certainly makes me think twice about looking into any of this band's other releases.

I thought the last couple of singles from Merge were a little lackluster, but this one gets things back on track.  I'm still debating on whether or not I liked the Vertical Scratchers song enough to pursue more music by them, but I guess a quick hunt around the internet for some samples won't take up that much time.

I couldn't find the Vertical Scratchers song online anywhere, but someone did put the Redd Kross on up on YouTube.

Redd Kross - "Leave It Where You Found It":

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tim - German Engineering CD

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Vital Cog (1998)

First off, it's a little weird writing about a band that is using your first name as their band name.  You end up writing in a way that feels kind of awkward, as if you're somehow writing about yourself in the third person.  Don't get confused though, Tim the band is full of energy, talent and great songs; so it's actually pretty easy to tell the difference between them and me.

I came across these guys from reading the Wilfully Obscure website.  That guy is just a treasure chest full of forgotten bands.  I'm not usually as on board when he dives into the 70's and 80's, but he's constantly unearthing gems from the 90's and it's really essential reading to discover new bands.  As far as Tim goes, I get the sense that they were just a couple of years too late.  1998 wasn't as kind to their brand of scrappy, upstart indie rock and I think the changing times (along with not being on a name label) is probably why they slipped through the cracks.  If you put this record out on Merge or Alias in 1995, I think you have a classic record on your hands.

Not that being on a bigger label would somehow make this record better.  It wouldn't, but more people likely would have heard how great it is.  Tim has combined the searing, scratchy guitar antics of Archers of Loaf and mixed it with the melodic, higher pitched vocals of Superchunk.  The resulting music is unquestionably influenced by 1990's Chapel Hill, but still manages to be unique and dynamic enough to stand up on its own.

This is one of the best new to me old albums I've picked up in ages.  Sadly, it doesn't look like it ever was put out on vinyl, but you can grab this CD used on amazon for a buck or two.  It'll be the best two dollars you spend, I promise you that. Check out the only clip of their songs I could find on Youtube below, but also know this is probably one of the weaker songs on the record and the rest is even better.

Tim - "Drawl":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4g2gXtMWSg

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Aaron & The Burrs - Release The Bats 7"

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UT (2014)

I've gotten a few things to review from UT records in the past, mainly the Space Wolves cassettes that are so good.  Being that they were cassettes, I couldn't get through the review without lamenting that they were not released on vinyl.  Well, UT records is back in my mailbox and this time the package was square instead of rectangular.  Thanks!

Aaron & The Burrs are not a band I had heard of before listening to this 7", but I sure hope to hear more from them in the future.  They're playing fun, breezy surf rock.  Akin to The Ventures or any one of the great surf bands of yore.  You've got the mild echo effect on the lead guitar.  The bass & drums providing a solid canvas to display the guitar gymnastics.  It's a tried and true formula, but one that works very well for the Burrs.

Lots of modern surf bands tend to muck things up with unneeded effects and noises crammed into their songs, but Release The Bats offers no trickery.  The only thing that they are serving up are short, sweet instrumental jams.  If anything, my only criticism is that there's only 2 songs and both clock in right around 2 minutes.  I would have been even happier if they crammed 2 more songs on this guy.  Regardless, UT records and Aaron & The Burrs on on to something with this 7" and I hope they both work together again to bring some more great music into the world.

Aaron & The Burrs - Release The Bats 7":

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dan Sartain - Crimson Guard LP - Pink Vinyl

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Cass (2014)

I've taken pictures and reviewed other versions of this record in the past, so I'm not going to get too bogged down with describing the music.  All that really needs to be known is that these are some of my very favorite Dan Sartain songs.  They're early recordings of his and he originally released this the first version of this LP himself.  Several of the songs were picked up and put on his first Swami CD, Vs. The Serpientes.  Others were latter compiled onto the Sartain Family Legacy CD compilation, but this is how they originally were meant to be heard.

I'm not entirely positive of the circumstances on how this 2nd reissue came about.  It has completely different artwork than the original or even the prior Cass reissue.  It's housed in a plain black sleeve with a white piece of paper glued to the front.  It's on pink vinyl this time (Though I think it was actually pressed on mixed colored vinyl, so there could be a lot of different versions out there).  Lastly, like the original, it comes with a pair of 3D glasses, though this version doesn't have anything in 3D to look at with them.

You should go buy this record.  It's just one of my favorites and if the fact that this is the 3rd version of this LP I've added to my collection doesn't show how much I like this album, I'm not sure what else I could say to reinforce that.  Last check Dan was still selling these on his Bandcamp page.

Dan Sartain - Crimson Guard:

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Pale Faces - Guru 7" - Blue Vinyl

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Punk Fox (2014)

Hey, it's another one of those rare instances where someone actually sends me a record to review. It's always pretty fun and exciting to get a mystery package in the mail like that.  This is actually the 2nd record I've gotten from the Punk Fox record label, which is surprising as I wasn't all that into the 1st release they sent me.  Well, it's still nice to be thought of, but unfortunately for me The Pale Faces is one of those records that I'm destined to never play again.

First off, if you look up this band online and end up on their Facebook page there's never ending talk of the 'collective' they're part of.  It's been my experience that people who refer to their friends as a collective are usually kind of pretentious .  I can't say that for sure about The Pale Faces and they may be super cool folks, but I can tell you that I don't really like their record.  

A-side "Guru" is built over a chugging guitar riff that goes nowhere, lots of "oooohs" instead of lyrics and the loudest mixed shaker egg you've every heard on a record in your entire life.  Geez, I can't even believe how loud they left that thing in the final mix, it's borderline absurd.  The B-side "Nature Calls" isn't much better.  This time they add a wacky organ sound to the mix and then play the guitar riff on top of it almost note for note.  Again, the song is repetitious and just does absolutely nothing for me.  Oh, it also comes with a DVD, but this isn't I Buy Way Too Many DVDs Dot Com and I have no motivation to see or hear any more of this band.

I don't like writing bad reviews and I feel especially guilty when it's not something I bought on my own, but someone sending me the record because they think I'll like it.  That being said, I just don't like The Pale Faces.  Hopefully the next time Punk Fox sends me a record I'll be more into it.  If they ever send me anything again.

The Pale Faces - "Guru":



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hospital Job - The Believer LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)

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It's Alive / Insubordination (2014)

I like this record a lot more than it's probably going to seem based on this review.  So I'll try to get the negatives out of the way first and then extoll the positives about The Believer.  I hate the 1st song on the album "Tell Me Four Things About Yourself." Just hate it.  Unfortunately it's the lead off track and whenever I listen to the record, it starts off in a bad place and has to work to get me back into it.  I'm not sure what it is about this song that drives me so nuts.  It's probably the endless repeating of the lyrics "Tell me four things about yourself / Three of them true."  I assume that's probably a reference to one of those grammar school 'truth-or-dare' type games, but it just seems so nonsensical to me.  Anyway skip the first song.

What you're left with is actually a very strong album of big hook, crunchy guitar, punked up pop.  The songs tend to be upper mid tempo and as a result it reminds a lot of some of the big guitar bands that were getting signed up by major labels in the mid 90's.  I'm positive I said this when I wrote about their last album, but I always hear a lot of Fig Dish in the songs.  That's absolutely a compliment as I feel Fig Dish just never go their due.

From time to time, things get a little too Blink 182-ish for me, but those times are fleeting and I really like the vast majority of this record.  It's got great energy on songs like "Confusing Times."  Hospital Job can successfully pull of a slower song without it getting boring or dragging down the record like they do on "The Believer."  Though I think of everything on the album, I'm most drawn to the song "Nail Houses."  It's just such a great pop song with a killer sing along chorus that has all of those nice backing vocals that get me bopping around.

So in summation, this is actually a really great record and one worth picking up.  Maybe that first song won't bug you as much as it bugs me.  But I think I'm probably just going to put down the needle a half an inch further into the record when I play this guy.

Hospital Job - The Believer:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So Cow - The Long Con LP - White Vinyl (/150)

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Goner (2014)

So Cow is one of those bands that I've heard friends chattering about for a while now.  For one reason or another I had just never gotten around to picking up any of their records.  Even though I buy way too many records, I don't have enough money to buy every record.  Anyway, when I started hearing about this new release of theirs and how it was even poppier and cleaner than their past records, I decided it was time to take the plunge.  Luckily, I decided that earlier enough to still snag the limited white vinyl version.

If there was one band that So Cow really reminds me of on The Long Con it's W.H. Walker.  Both bands have the same jangle-y guitar up front that bursts into fuzz at just the right moments.  Plus both bands sound like they're having a hell of a fun time recording their albums.  The bouncy rhythm provide an electric foundation to pile on all sorts of upbeat vocals and guitar pyrotechnics.  The whole album is just full of song after song of incredibly catchy hits and I just can't help but think that if any of their prior albums are even half as fun as The Long Con, I've been depriving myself of some great tunes.

I'm really glad I pulled the trigger on So Cow.  I could have just as easily kept putting them off, but then I would have absolutely missed out of one of 2014's best. 

So Cow - "Science Fiction":

So Cow - "Barry Richardson":

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Capitalist Kids - At A Loss LP - Red Vinyl (/100)

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It's Alive / Toxic Pop / Rad Girlfriend (2014)

At A Loss is one of the albums that I was looking forward to the most this year.  Ever since 2012's double shot of the Sarah 7" and the Lessons On Love, Sharing and Hygiene LP, The Capitalist Kids have been the standard that I've held every pop punk band up to.  They've got the Mr. T Experience catchy tunes with smart lyrics thing down pat.  This is evident from the opening moments of the first song on the album "Not '95."  It's essentially the Capitalist Kids' version of MTX's "Dumb Little Band." Self deprecating and funny, but just crammed full of melody and warm fuzzy guitar.

The rest of the album keeps this high standard of quality as you move through it.  There's songs about girls, songs about overpopulation, songs about girls, songs about racism, songs about girls, songs about capital punishment and songs about girls.  There's a pretty solid dose of left leaning politics here if the song topics don't clue you in, but they're tackled in an upbeat, humorous way. They're also addressed in a way that's that's still factual and raises some pretty good points.  It probably helps that I agree with most of their messages going into the album, but I still think they manage to deal with everything without sounding condescending or preachy.

Most importantly the tunes are there.  So even if you get to a song called "Comin' Up Milhouse," it doesn't matter if you're like me and don't get whatever Simpsons reference they're talking about, the song is still great.  If I had to compare the two, I probably like Lessons on Love, Sharing and Hygiene slightly better, but At A Loss, is right up there and pretty darn close to being just as good as that last phenomenal album.  Absolutely recommended.

The Capitalist Kids - At A Loss:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Negative Scanner - Ambitious People 7" - Brown Vinyl (/500)

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Trouble In Mind (2014)

I've probably been a little harsh on Trouble In Mind records lately.  Though I certainly don't think that I've given too many of their recent 7"s what I would call bad reviews, I have been lamenting that they've been moving towards bands that I'm just not as into.  While I can appreciate diverse music and people having different tastes than me, it doesn't really change the fact that I've just been lukewarm on their recent flurry of psych tinged bands.  I am still committed to my goal of having the colored vinyl versions of their first 50 singles, but when you get something like Negative Scanner, you start to rethink if you really want to put an arbitrary cap on things.

Negative Scanner is punk rock.  No frills, downstroke heavy, Wipers with female vocals sounding punk rock.  It's so refreshing and honest.  There's a real trend these days with bands adding tons of extra layers of sound to their music and often time that either clutters things up or perhaps masks the band's shortcomings.  Negative Scanner lays it all on the line without any extra gimmicks.  From the pounding guitar of "Ambitious People" to the short, sweet and to the point "Evening News," this is rock and roll distilled to its most basic and enjoyable form.

This is why I buy all Trouble In Mind singles.  Even if I've never heard of the band, there's usually a pretty good chance I may discover something new.  And the collection of Trouble In Mind colored 7"s grows once again.

Negative Scanner - "Ambitious People":

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Lees Of Memory - Sisyphus Says LP - Red/Blue Starburst Vinyl (/100)

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Side One Dummy (2014)

The recent Superdrag vinyl reissues really got me primed for the debut full length from The Lees Of Memory.  Featuring both John Davis and Brandon Fisher from Superdrag, I was pretty confident this would be a killer record.  Though I missed out on their initial limited 7", I was first in line for the LP and managed to snag the very cool looking blue/red starburst vinyl, limited to just 100 copies.  Musically, however, this album is something of a mixed bag.

It boils down to this.  The good songs are really good, but the bad songs are pretty bad.  I'll expand on that a bit.  This album is way too long.  Clocking in at over 60 minutes and featuring NINE songs that are more than 5 minutes long, this record could have used some serious editing.  Sure, when the band is relatively upbeat and rocking, songs like "Little Fallen Star" and "Open Your Arms" fly by enjoyably.  But The Lees Of Memory get so bogged down in atmospheric swooshes and guitar layering that by the time I get to the seventh minute of "Reenactor," I'm just done.

I can't say I've ever been a huge fan of really long songs or really long albums.  35-45 minutes has always pretty much been my sweet spot.  There's nothing inherently bad about this Lees Of Memory album, it's just that it's too boring in places to be this long and still be enjoyable.  I wouldn't write them off completely though.  When this record shines, it does really shine.  The band just needs to tighten things up a bit and not get so lost in sonic nonsense.

The Lees Of Memory - Sisyphus Says LP:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wilson Pickett - The Exciting Wilson Pickett LP

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4 Men With Beards (2006, Reissue)

Wilson Pickett has long been one of my absolute favorite musicians.  I was first clued into his music through The Blues Brothers.  They were the starting point of so much of the music I would end up listening to.  But also, my dad had the Wilson Pickett song "Funky Broadway" on a mix tape that he used to play when I was a kid.  I just feel like his music has always been around.  I have a few Wilson Pickett CDs and Best of's, but this is the first piece of wax I've picked up.

And picking it up was easy as it was part of a heavy reduction sale blowout thing that Insound was doing.  I think it only ended up being $7, so I can forgive the slightly bent corner on the cover.  The record sounds great as this is obviously a high quality reissue and the packaging is sturdy and sharp.  Not for nothing, I really miss album covers like this.  Bands need to bring this style back again.  It just looks so classic.

As far as the music goes, you just don't get much better in the 60's soul department than Wilson Pickett.  The lead off track "Land Of 1000 Dances" is so phenomenally good, I based all of the music at my wedding off of that one song.  Everything had to tie back to the mood it set.  But this is not a one song album.  Each and every track on here is a smash hit from "634-5789" to "In The Midnight Hour," Pickett is just untouchable.  I'm definitely thrilled to have this in the collection and I'm absolutely going to be hunting down deals on the rest of his records.  They all deserve a home.

Wilson Pickett - "Land Of 1000 Dances":

Wilson Pickett - "In The Midnight Hour":

Monday, September 29, 2014

Superdrag - Head Trip In Every Key - Clear Vinyl (/1500)

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Side One Dummy (2014)

I consider myself fortunate that so many 90's albums that I like are being reissued on vinyl for the first time these last few years.  The mid 90's were that stretch of time where lots of bands ended up on major labels that you wouldn't expect, and then those major labels never produced vinyl versions.  After hearing about how Sony pretty much held the Ultimate Fakebook record hostage from an indie that wanted to release it on vinyl (making that indie attempt a Kickstarter with such a ludicrously high goal; it was never actually going to get funded), it's nice to see that Elektra is playing nice with Side One Dummy so I can have these Superdrag records on vinyl.  Though let's be clear, I wont be satisfied until someone releases the Alligator Gun record 100percentfreak on vinyl.  It's a crime no one has stepped up to the plate.

While I loved Superdrag's debut, Regretfully Yours, I can't say that I really ever spent the same amount of time with Head Trip In Every Key.  My buddy Alan really liked it, but for some reason I just never listened to it all that much.  Hearing it again all these years later is pretty crazy.  It really is a great record.  It's definitely not as instantly catchy as regretfully yours, but that's not to say that this record doesn't have its share of hooks.  Head Trip In Every Key is a progression forward and a more mature sounding album, but Superdrag never gives up on what brought them to the table; big choruses and great guitar work.

The 2 x LP gatefold packaging came out great.  Side One Dummy did a really stellar job bringing this record to vinyl for the first time.  It's limited, but not ridiculously so.  Still, if you have interest in this, you may want to grab it sooner than later.

Superdrag - "I'm Expanding My Mind":

Superdrag - "Do The Vampire":

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pool Party - Born To Lose 7"

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It's Alive (2014)

I didn't actually order this 7", but it was thrown in with a batch of LPs I got from It's Alive Records.  I'm still working my way through those LPs, but I figured I'd give this freebee a spin to see how it is.  It's not all that good really.

I like pop punk, I really do.  It's not cool, it's a dinosaur of another era, but it's always been something that I like.  That being said, I don't like boring generic pop punk.  You need to be doing something interesting to keep me hooked.  Super clever lyrics, good production, interesting riffs...these are all things that I like.  Sadly, Pool Party employs none of them.

I knew from the moment the first song "Born To Lose" started up that this was probably going to be average since they immediately break into the same chord progression used on the Squirtgun song "Social" and about ten thousand other songs.  We then move on through 4 songs worth of 3 chord uninspired pop punk.  The lyrics aren't so good either.  I think they're trying to be witty; but it's not really working out.

This is a rare misstep for It's Alive record for me.  I'm digging all of the LPs I ordered and going back many years I've bought an awful lot of records from them.  But Pool Party is destined to be filed away and either not listened to again or sent away to someone else if I end up mailing out some records.

Pool Party - Born To Lose 7":

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Failures' Union - Tethering LP - Green Vinyl (/100)

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Dead Broke (2014)

As I've said a lot lately, you can really count on a few labels and Dead Broke is absolutely one of them.  Even the band appears to have been around for a bit, this record is my first time hearing Failures' Union and I picked it up pretty much exclusively because I tend to buy just about everything Dead Broke releases (Except for the occasional yell-y/shout-y record).

Right away I'm reminded of the band Nude Beach, maybe with not quite as pronounced of a Tom Petty influence.  But this is good, honest, somewhat rootsy pop rock.  A lot of people like to call Leatherface a working man's punk band and while I certainly wouldn't say that Failures' Union is making similar music, I get that same sort of vibe from them.  This is music for the everyman, just solid guitar interplay and passionate, clear vocals ringing through each song.

It's a great listen and one that makes me curious about the band's other records.  I may have to start digging backwards to see what else these guys have come up with.  Just more records to add to the never ending list of things to buy I guess.

Failures' Union - Tethering: