Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Not Wonk - DisOrdinary 7"


KiliKiliVilla (2016)

Not Wonk is yet another band that I hadn't even heard of prior to my trip to Japan, but boy am I glad I know them now.  Even though they share a word with the band Wonk Unit, Not Wonk is a completely different type of sound.  I'm immediately drawn back to the early 90's in the UK, as Not Wonk remind me of the very best parts of bands like Senseless Things. If you wanted to pop by Canada to name drop The Doughboys as well, I think you could make that argument although Not Wonk certainly favors the sort of atmospheric guitar wail that Senseless things were more know for.

The opening song on this 7" is "This Ordinary."  It just rips along with swirling guitar and pounding drums.  The vocals soar above it all and it really is such a thick slice of 1991 that I almost can't believe it was released in 2016.  Things slow down on "Don't Get Me Wrong."  I don't like it quite as much as "This Ordinary," but it's still a nice song with good melodies and backing harmonies.  

Rounding out this 7" is "DisOrdinary."  It's an alternate version of "This Ordinary" that decreases the tempo and adds even more effects to the guitars.  I don't like it as much as the first version, but it's an interesting alternate take.  I also picked up an LP by Not Wonk while in Japan that I like even better than this 7" and I'll be writing more about that in the coming weeks.

Not Wonk - "This Ordinary":

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Links - Einmal Ist Keinmal CD


Blue Blue Blue (2003)

This CD is another one of those finds in Japan that I didn't even know I was looking for.  I've had a Links split 7" with a band called Ben Grim for a very long time.  I didn't even know they put out a full length, yet here it is in all of its glory.  This came out back in 2003, so I can't believe it took me so long to find it.

The links are playing super melodic pop punk.  There are lots of octave accents in the songs, chugging palm mutes and dynamic drumming in the breakdowns.  It sounds like the sort of bands you would have heard in the late 90's.  Kind of a bridge between the bouncy pop punk of Sicko or Zoinks and the sort of thing the Get Up Kids were doing on their first EP.  Though it's way catchier and upbeat than any of those Get Up Kids songs.

Unfortunately I can't find anything from this album online to link to.  I did find the version of the song "Not Perfect" that came out on the Ben Grim split, but it is a slightly different version than the one that appears on this album.  Still, even without the ability to listen to anything now, I absolutely recommend picking this up if you ever happen to come across it.  It's one of my favorite things I picked up in Japan.

The Links - "Not Perfect" (Split 7" Version):

Monday, February 20, 2017

Record Store Visit: Disk Union Shibuya - Tokyo, Japan - 12/29/16

Another day, another Disk Union.  Let me tell you how utterly incredible this Japanese record store chain is.  We went to so many of them while in Japan and they each had a feeling all their own.  I would be spending my life in these stores if I lived in Japan.  Maybe it's best I don't live there. I'd end up poor, but I would have a hell of a record collection.

The Shibuya location isn't quite as big and awe inspiring as its Shinjuku neighbor, but it is still a pretty gigantic shop.  Many floors and each floor broken up into genre specific shopping.  Although here, two floors are dedicated to used records. I wish we had the time to have spent some of it digging through there a bit, but on this day our objective was the fifth floor, specializing in heavy metal and (you guessed it) punk rock.

This was a great store and I'm guessing the two floors of used records seeped into the punk shop as well.  There were no shortage of used records up there, especially in terms of 7"s.  Also, like the Shinjuku shop, the sub genres of punk rock were split up in super specific sub genres, making it easier to dive into whole chunks of the store at one time.  It's probably no surprised I was digging in the 'Melodic Pop Punk' section for quite some time.

I don't remember the specific records I picked up here, but I do remember that I probably bought more CDs at this store than some of the others.  I also remember seeing some crazy 7"s for super cheap, ones that I already had but were way more difficult for me to find ten years ago.  Simply put, it was another incredible record store in Tokyo.  In case you haven't figured it out, Tokyo has a lot of them.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wonk Unit - Mr. Splashy LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


TNS (2016)

My first experience with Wonk Unit was from their album put out by Drunken Sailor records called Feel The Wonkness.  That one was a compilation of some songs that had been released on other albums originally, but it provided a good starting point for someone not familiar with the band.  I had been hearing of Wonk Unit for a while, but it was that album that really made me a fan.  I decided then to keep better track of them and buy more of their records.

I did a piss poor job of that task as Mr. Splashy came out last year and I didn't have any idea it was out until I stumbled across it in Red Girlfriend's distro while buying another 7" late last year.  So, I missed out on listening to this album last year and didn't include it on my top records list for 2016.  If I had my shit together, there is no way Mr. Splashy wouldn't have been ranked quite high.  The saving grace is that at least I was able to buy the green vinyl version of the album, which if the internet is to be believed was limited to one hundred copies and is the tour version of the record.  So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

It's kind of difficult to describe the madness that is Wonk Unit.  At their core they're a punk band from the UK, with obvious influence from bands like Snuff and China Drum.  However, if you go in expecting Wonk Unit to really sound like either of those bands you're in for a shock.  There are also elements of the story telling side of bands like The Weakerthans.  Some acoustics here, some string arrangements there and a little comedy throughout.  It's the combination of these sounds that gives Wonk Unit a truly unique voice.

Mr. Splashy is a great, diverse album.  It grows on you each time you listen to it, revealing new layers of mad genius.  Their back catalog is still a little intimidating to dive into, but considering how much I've liked everything I've heard thus far, I think it's time to take the plunge.

Wonk Unit - Mr. Splashy:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Short Story - Ignore The Way There Is CD


I Hate Smoke (2011)

One of the many things that I liked about record shopping in Japan was finding albums I didn't know existed.  I knew of the band Short Story, specifically from the Tribute To Chopper compilation that came out a few years ago, but I didn't know that they had any other records out.  For whatever reason, they just weren't on my radar.  Once I was in Tokyo, I was able to buy their full length from a few years ago.

It's funny that I first heard of this band from a tribute to Chopper, because they definitely have some similar attributes.  They play fast, loud and catchy punk rock with lots of backing vocals that go "whoa" and "ohhh."  Vocally, they remind me more of the higher pitch style of bands like Navel or Skimmer.  All in all, a pretty strong combination.

Short Story is at their best when they slow down the breakneck speed of their drummer and get a little closer to mid tempo songs.  They do tend to go a little overboard with the thousand mile an hour galloping drum beat on a few songs, so when it breaks down to something a little bouncier, everything stands out more and the hooks have time to really sink in.  Minor speed criticisms aside, this is a fun record that showcases another side of the Japanese melodic punk scene that I love so much.

Short Story - "It's Too Late":

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Yellow Dogs - The Sheik Of Araby 7" - White Vinyl


Tinstar (2000)

Since I wrote about one of the two Yellow Dogs 7"s I picked up in Japan last week, I figured I'd knock out the other one today.  Just to recap, I picked up both of the Yellow Dogs 7"s because I thought the artwork looked cool.  I wasn't familiar with the band and for whatever reason, during my tear through the record store, I didn't realize that all of the songs on both 7"s were covers of older songs from the 60's. Looking at the art, I had figured this to be a fun power pop/mod something or other.

My opinion of this Yellow Dogs 7" is pretty much the same as my thoughts on their prior one.  The songs are all good and fun to listen to, but I just can't picture any reason that would make me listen to them that often.  "Sheik Of Araby" is a fun upbeat cover with really nice jangly guitar.  "Three Cool Cats" has an easy going swing to it and "Boys" has some really nice call and response backing vocals, but none of the three songs really are that engaging.  They're nice background music, but nothing special.

I haven't bought many records based solely on the artwork in quite some time.  It was fun digging around record stores in Japan and taking some chances, but the chance I took on the Yellow Dogs didn't pay off quite how I was expecting.

The Yellow Dogs - "The Sheik Of Araby":

The Yellow Dogs - "Three Cool Cats":

Monday, February 13, 2017

Record Store Visit: Warehouse / Nat Records - Tokyo, Japan - 12/29/16


After going through the Disk Union punk store in Shinjuku, it was only a short walk (after a brief stop at the giant Godzilla statue) to Warehouse & Nat records.  Now, I can't say that I completely understand how there are two record shops in one store and to be honest, I wasn't really paying a ton of attention to that when I was in there.  But essentially, Nat records specializes in noisy rock and roll and Warehouse seems to focus on used stuff.  Exactly where one store ends and the other begins isn't something that I took a picture of, I guess.

No matter which store is which, Warehouse/Nat was a great place to dig.  Lots of 7"s, lots of punk rock and a good amount of interesting older records to peruse (you should see the Ventures 7" section at this place).

I bought a lot of 7"s while shopping here.  I don't think I picked up any CDs and unfortunately I don't really remember if I bought any LPs, but I would think I grabbed at least one.  As the trip gets further and further in the rearview, I'm having a more difficult time remembering exactly what records I bought in each store.

Warehouse/Nat is definitely a shop worth hitting up if you're in Tokyo.  It doesn't have quite as much foot traffic as the Disk Union stores, but they have a lot of hidden gems here.  If you are into some serious digging, you could probably spend quite a long time pouring over their stock.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Yellow Dogs - Ooh! My Soul 7" - Pink Vinyl


Tinstar (2000)

One of the things I really tried to do while I was record shopping in Tokyo was to try to behave like I did when I went to record stores in America as a younger man.  What that means in the context of this review is that I picked up a handful of records simply because they looked cool or looked like the sort of thing I would enjoy.  I bought two 7"s based on fonts alone.  One of the bands I decided to check out on a whim was The Yellow Dogs.

The sleeve of this 7" and another one of theirs that I picked up just sort of grabbed my attention.  It looked like a fun, power-poppy mod band and that seemed like the sort of thing I'd like to check out.  What I didn't realize at the time was that all of the songs on both 7"s were covers.  The Yellow Dogs absolutely seize a kind of ramped up 60's throwback vibe, though a large portion of that is because they are playing actual songs from that era.

The best song is also the lead off track, "Ooh! My Soul."  It's a Little Richard cover that's sped up and played with a ton of energy and enthusiasm.  It's a fun, though short listen.  Next up is another rocker, "Lonesome Tears In My Eye."  I'll admit I'm not quite as familiar with the original version of this song, but once again The Yellow Dogs deliver a pretty killer version of it.  Last up is "Money (That's What I Want)."  Truthfully, I've never really liked any version of this song over the years and The Yellow Dogs can't really save it either.  The vocals drop to a weird growl and the song just kind of plods along.

This isn't really the victory I was hoping for when I just started grabbing some 7"s based on artwork.  It's not bad at all and the first two songs are pretty good, all things considered.  I just can't imagine it's the sort of thing I would end up listening to very often.

The Yellow Dogs - "Ooh! My Soul":

The Yellow Dogs - "Lonesome Tears Over You":

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Middle - 尖音 CD


Impulse (2015)

I had such a good time while I was in Japan, but I also learned quite a bit as well.  Kazu from Waterslide set up a PopKid/Waterslide show at a club in Uguisudani called What's Up.  When I arrived, I found out that the club was run by Bun, who was in one of my very favorite old school Snuffy Smile bands Lovemen.  On top of that, I then found out that he was currently in a band I hadn't heard about before called Middle.  Then, as if that night could have been any better than it already was, Bun gave me a copy of the Middle CD.  

I've been listening to this album ever since I got back from Japan.  At first glance, it might not seem like the sort of thing that's right up my alley, but the more I listen to it the more I love it.  When you really examine it, it's almost a perfect record for me.  It combines the catchiness and melodies of 1990's punk rock (Lovemen would be a good example, for obvious reasons) with the screeching and powerful guitar antics of Hot Snakes or some of the shorter Drive Like Jehu songs.

According to internet translators, 尖音 means acoustic.  That title ends up being pretty amusing as throughout the CD's seven songs in twenty four minutes, the guitar assault is loud, blistering and nonstop.  However, the thing that really gets me is how the vocal melodies creep in keeping things catchy enough for a pop kid like me.  I was only able to find one song online from this album.  It's called "リセット" and is one of the less melodic songs on this CD.  But this is absolutely an album worth getting, especially if you like your guitars loud and a little chaotic.

Middle - "リセット":

Monday, February 6, 2017

Record Store Visit: Disk Union Shinjuku - Tokyo, Japan - 12/29/16


On the second full day we were in Tokyo, December 29th, Kazu from Waterslide records took my wife and I around for a whirlwind tour of record stores.  This is the day things really picked up as far as buying records went.  Our first stop of the day was the Disk Union in Shinjuku.  This is the best record store I have ever gone to in my entire life.

The store is seven stories and each story focuses on specific genres of music. World music? Head up to the fourth floor.  Looking for some J-Pop? It's down to the basement for you.  But for me, it was up to the seventh floor as that was dedicated to punk rock.  I really could not believe what I was walking into.  This store was just crammed full of records and CDs, all by bands that I love.  The genres were broken down in such specificity that became a little comical to see the sub-sub-sub genres of Psychobilly that had its own section.  But any store that had a special place to browse melodic pop punk is a store that I want to go to just about every day.

The other thing that I loved about the Shinjuku Disk Union was the sheer amount of 7"s they had.  It seemed like they were everywhere.  A section for new 7"s, a section for used 7"s, random 7"s stacked up on shelves that you didn't even notice the first time you walked by.  It was just crazy.  This is also the only store I have ever been in that has its own dedication portion of the used section dedicated to Snuffy Smile 7"s.  That was madness.  Flipping through that part of the used bin, I couldn't believe the 7"s that were just sitting around that had previously taken me decades to find.  Just as incredible as the records I did buy was the amount of records I already had that I couldn't believe I was seeing just sitting in a store.

I bought a ton of records at this Disk Union.  I can't even remember all of the ones that came from this store, but I got a lot of pretty great punk rock and I was completely shocked at how inexpensive it ended up being.  I spent less than a hundred bucks here, but walked out with a stack of 7"s over two inches thick and at least a dozen CDs and a couple of LPs.  More than anyplace I've ever been, excluding Flipside Records in Pompton Lakes NJ during the 90's, this store just felt like home.  I keep telling people that the thing I like most about Japan is the way they seem to really encourage people to find that thing they're passionate about and immerse themselves in it.  It felt like this Disk Union was built specifically with me in mind.  I just loved it there.

The crazy part is that we had such a busy day of record shopping planned, that I never even went into any of the other floors.  Sure, I can't imagine there was a hidden gem waiting for my on the progressive rock floor, but I bet there may have been some other interesting things lying around.  Just another reason to go back someday.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Flatliners - Nerves 7" - Blue Vinyl


Dine Alone (2016)

The Flatliners have been around for quite a few years, though it wasn't until somewhat recently that I began paying attention to them.  It just so happened that I got to see them open up for Rocket From The Crypt one night in Chicago and right away I became a fan.  Looking back, I still think it was something of an odd pairing, but The Flatliners were just so good live that I had to start looking into their records.

This two song 7" is one of the first handful of genuinely new releases the band has put out since converting me to a fan.  I'm still not as familiar with their back catalog as a lot of people, but from the little I know about it, this feels like a departure.  "Hang My Head" starts with the sort of impassioned growl that I'm used to from the band, but the song kind of gives way to more subdued side.  The bouncy guitars and start/stop guitar riff in the verse is a toe tapper and gives way to a really nice chorus, but it still feels different from what I'm used to.

On the B side there's "Mud."  This one is very much a lower key, mid tempo song that is missing some of the balls to the wall energy that I'm used to.  Neither song is bad, if fact I'd argue that both are actually pretty good, but they're a bit different than what I was expecting.  I'm curious to see what The Flatliners' next album holds.  Is this 7" an indication of where the band is going or is it a pit stop getting some different ideas out before getting fast and loud again?  

The Flatliners - Nerves 7":

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Husking Bee - Four Color Problem LP


Ini (2000)

Although I ended up buying the American version of Husking Bee's Put On Fresh Paint LP, I was able to find the Japanese version of their follow-up Four Color Problem.  It's especially gratifying as the artwork on the American version of this album is just awful.  This Japanese version looks so much better.  Again, I hope to add the Japanese version of Put On Fresh Paint to the collection someday (As well as their first album Grip - so if you ever see either, let me know!).

Four Color Problem is the last Husking Bee record that I really liked.  It was the first album to bring on second guitarist Kazuya Hirabayashi, but his vocal contributions are mostly limited to some background singing here and there.  By the time Husking Bee's next album came out, Kazuya was the lead vocalist on about half the songs and my interest in the band plummeted.

But at least on Four Color Problem, things are pretty good.  It kicks off with one of the best songs on the album, "#4."  It's an octave heavy rocker with impassioned vocals and a stellar chorus.  The album is filled with Husking Bee's trademark bouncy, popped up punk sound.  There's always a little more pop than punk and this band has always been one that can avoid the trappings of some of the cheesier moments of the genre.  I'll never really understand what happened to Husking Bee after this record.  They essentially became a completely different band.  But from Grip to Four Color Problem, they were pretty damn great.

Husking Bee "#4":
(Something funny, whoever uploaded this to YouTube used the American artwork, the artwork is of a promo CD from the radio Station WPSC, which was the college station I was music director when this album came out.  Someone must have stolen the stations copy at some point...)

Husking Bee - "Sketch":

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gleam Garden - Singles 2006 - 2013 CD


Snuffy Smiles (2015)

This was a CD that was on my list of things to hunt down while in Japan.  I have to once again thank Kazu from Waterslide records for helping me find it.  Due to its minimal artwork and lack of a spine, I don't know if I would have tracked this down on my own.  Luckily, Kazu found it at one of the record stores we went to and now it is in my collection.

Gleam Garden has been one of the great Japanese bands of the last decade.  They have a few albums out and have released a lot of singles.  This CD compiles most of their 7"s along with a few CD and compilation tracks.  I had most of these songs previously from the various Snuffy Smile 7"s in their catalog, though the compilation songs included are new to me.  Also, it's kind of nice to have everything on one CD that I can just play from start to finish.  Sure, it would be nice if this was an LP, but singles comps are one of those times where I really don't have a problem with their not being a vinyl release.  After all, I do have just about all of these songs on vinyl from the 7"s.

Musically, Gleam Garden are simply amazing.  Fast and loud, they come roaring at you with their guitar attack.  You can hear hints of Dickie Hammond style riffs on some songs, while on others the chord progressions are more immediate and stripped down.  No matter what the song, Gleam Garden is always there to cram in a hook or a chorus that makes you want to start jumping around whatever room you are in.  They've managed to capture an energy in these recordings that can elude so many bands.

Simply put, I just love this band and wish they got more attention here in America.  Pick this or any of their other records up if you see them.

Gleam Garden - "Factory" (this is a live version, but the studio version is on this comp):

Gleam Garden - "Evaporation" (Also a live version, I can't really find many of the regular versions floating around online)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Record Store Visit: Disk Union Ochanomizu - Tokyo, Japan - 12/28/16


The hotel we stayed at in Japan was in a section of Tokyo called Ochanomizu.  It was in between the Akihabara train stations and the Ochanomizu station.  We used both, but the Ochanomizu station was the one that we used a bit more often.  This particular Disk Union was right across the street from the Ochanomizu station and was only 4 blocks or so from our hotel.  Though I only got to go in once, it was always cool that I was walking by my 'local' record shop every time I went somewhere.

Like the Disk Union in Nakano, the Ochanomizu station was something of a one stop shop kind of place.  Most genres were represented at least a little bit.  There were more CDs than vinyl, but the vinyl section was still pretty big, especially the 7" section which was well stocked with cool used records.  The day we went was our first full day in Japan so I think, like in Nakano, that I probably should have tried a bit harder to get back to this shop during the trip for a lengthier dig.  I have a feeling there were probably some undiscovered gems floating around, but we were tired and we hit this store towards the end of the day.

I only picked up one record here, an old four way split 7" that had a Husking Bee song on it.  A cool record for sure, but I think there probably was more here to find if I had a bit more time.

Bonus Store: A couple of blocks away, still in Ochanomizu is a 2 story Disk Union store that specializes in heavy metal.  I didn't totally realize that until we had gone inside and since I don't really listen to any heavy metal, we didn't stay long and I didn't buy anything, but I still think it is neat that a store like this exists and was full of people looking for some loud screeching riffs.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sonny Vincent & Spite - Mary Ann 7" - Gold Vinyl


Big Neck (2015)

I'll admit that I was surprised to get this 7" in the mail from Big Neck records.  I hadn't ever received anything from them before, plus this 7" came out back in 2015, so it's not a new release of theirs.  That being said, I certainly do not put an expiration date on tunes and I'm always happy to write up something about a good record that has been sent my way.

On the A side, Sonny Vincent & Spite serve up "Mary Ann."  It's a mid tempo, really catchy power pop number that honestly kind of caught me by surprise.  I'm used to Sonny being a little bit gruffer than this, but "Mary Ann" sounds straight out of something from the poppier side of The Sultans.  It's probably one of my favorite things I've heard from Sonny Vincent.

On the B side we go back to the snarl and punk rock that I more associate with Sonny Vincent.  "Inflection" is slower, but it has a nasty thump to it.  It's the kind of song that just growls in your face, daring you to mess with it.  There's also some  nice, pissed off sounding saxophone to really bring things home.  I guess I should probably mention there are some other punk rock luminaries playing on this record with Sonny including folks from The Damned, Sex Pistols and Stooges.  For me, it's really Sonny Vincent who shines on this 7" and even just for "Mary Ann," it's worth picking up.

Sonny Vincent & Spite - Mary Ann 7":

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Husking Bee - Put On Fresh Paint LP


Doghouse (1999)

This might be a slightly odd choice for the first record to write about that I picked up in Japan.  But, as I've been out of commission with the sickness for the past few weeks, I haven't really gotten the chance to spend as much time with most of the new records that I bought.  Put On Fresh Paint, however, is an album I've been listening to for almost 20 years, making it much easier to write about.

This isn't the Japanese version of this Husking Bee album.  I looked for the Japanese version while in Tokyo, but I didn't come across it.  However, I did find the version on Doghouse records and it was only four dollars.  So to me, that's an easy buy and I'll have to keep looking for the Japanese one.

I first heard of Husking Bee a couple of years before Doghouse put out the album in America.  Back in the 90's, I used to run Snuff's website.  As their fanbase was much more based in the UK and Japan rather than the US, I ended up with a lot of people from other countries getting in touch with me.  One of those people was a fellow named Tetsu from Japan.  We struck up a friendship and used to send each other records that we thought the other would like.  Husking Bee was one of the bands he sent me.

Of Husking Bee's pretty extensive catalog, Put On Fresh Paint and their first album Grip were always my favorites.  They played a super catchy strain of melodic punk rock with those catchy choruses that I love so much.  The vocals are somewhat gruff, but still very tuneful.  The guitar riffs are big and full and they always manage to sneak in an extra hook or breakdown that really sets their songs apart from your run of the mill pop punk band.

I am excited to have this on vinyl finally and it was great to get it at such a cheap price, but part of me is now even more obsessive about finding the Japanese version of the vinyl.  That's OK though, maybe it gives me another excuse to try to get back to Japan.

Husking Bee - "Sing to Me":

Husking Bee - "Single Word":

Monday, January 23, 2017

Record Store Visit: Disc Union Nakano - Tokyo, Japan - 12/28/16


Sorry for such a long delay since the last time I posted anything.  As I had mentioned, I went to Tokyo over New Years and then when I got home, I ended up pretty sick for about 2 weeks.  I'm still kind of pulling out of it, but I'l at least well enough to start up a little writing about my trip.  So, if I were to exclusively write about the record stores and records I bought while in Tokyo, I would probably fill up the next 4-6 months of this website with that.  To keep things a little more varied, I'm going to mix these purchases in with some of the more current albums that I'm buying this year. 

I went to a fair amount of record stores while in Tokyo.  Especially thanks to the wonderful Kazu from Waterslide records who brought me around to the very best ones for the type of records I was shopping for.  Over the weeks I'll be writing a little bit about each store, though as a warning quite a few of them were Disc Unions.  Still even most of the Disc Unions had their own personality.  It really was an amazing trip and even though I've heard my entire life how great record stores are in Japan, even I couldn't believe how incredible they were once I was actually there.

First up is the first record store I visited in Tokyo, the Disc Union in Nakano.  This was the first full day we were in Tokyo and I will admit that I was a little tired when we were walking around.  We tried to cram in a lot this day and we ended up at this shop after some time walking around Akihabara and then the Nakano Broadway building.  I think if I had gone to this shop a little later in the week, I probably would have done some deeper digging, but even in the limited time I was here, I checked out a good amount of stuff.

Unlike some of the more specialized Disc Unions, the one in Nakano was a store that had a pretty
broad focus and carried records from most genres.  Like most of the stores we went to, there was definitely more of a focus on CDs than vinyl, but their vinyl section was still quite big, very impressive and organized to perfection.  One of my favorite things about record stores in Japan is how specifically they divide the sub genres of each section.  Being able to head right to the used Japanese punk section sure made things convenient throughout the trip.

This store was a pretty good size, taking up the second floor of a decently large building.  We were there at about 3 in the afternoon on a Wednesday and the store was just full of people.  It was very rare that any record store we went to wasn't pretty packed with folks buying records.  Warms my heart.

Anyway, this was a really good store, though not at the top of my list at the end of the day.  I only ended up buying a Practice/What-A-Night's split 7", but again, had we gone back on a different day where we were a little more rested, I think I would have had the energy to dig a little longer at this store.  I'm sure I would have unearthed some sort of hidden treasures.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Please Stand By...

I got sick the 2nd to last day I was in Japan and have just not been able to shake it.  I'm hopeful to start posting some new reviews on Monday.  Rest assured, I bought WAY too many records while I was in Japan so I have a lot of records and stores to write about.  A pretty large portion of my trip looked like the picture above, so If you are interested in reading about Japanese punk rock, have I got some records for you.

I'm going to go back to coughing now.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Absolute Best Records Of 2016


Once again, it's that most wonderful time of the year.  Time to reflect on 2016.  I won't be alone in saying that quite a bit of this past year sucked on ice.  But at least there were some pretty good records that came out.  Top it off with an end of the year trip to Japan and I think I'll make it out of this year in one piece.  2017 is a different story, but we'll deal with that when it arrives.

One of my very favorite records of this past year is one that I just can't bring myself to rank on my list:

Chestnut Road – LP II – PopKid/Brassneck/Snuffy Smiles

Since it came out on PopKid, it doesn't seem fair to put it up against the others, so I'll just let you know that I love this record a lot.

For the rest of the ranked list, we've got some old favorites like Mrs. Magician and Steve Adamyk Band.  Both are bands that never let me down and their records that came out in 2016 were as great I had hoped they would be. That being said, once again I've stumbled across some great new bands this year as well.  Wild Animals, Laika's Orbit and Bent Shapes really hit it out of the park and gave me some new tunes to be excited about.

As always, here's my top 30 list and then some of the other records I picked up in 2016.  This will be my last post of the year.  I'm heading out to Japan the day after Christmas so that'll be a crazy time.  I plan of a lot of record store visits so I should have some interesting things to write about next year.  If you want to follow along with the wackiness, I'll still be active on Twitter and on Instagram as @TimPopKid on both.  Happy New Year!

01 - Mrs. Magician – Bermuda – Swami (Listen)
02 - Steve Adamyk Band – Graceland – Dirtnap (Listen)
03 - Title Tracks – Long Dream –Ernest Jenning (Listen)
04 - Wild Animals – Basements – Music To Fight Hypocrisy – Waterslide (Listen)
05 - Laika’s Orbit – No Matter What it Takes – Total Negativity (Listen)
06 - So Cow – Lisa Marie Airplane Tour – Tall Pat (Listen)
07 - Bob Mould – Patch The Sky – Merge (Listen)
08 - Medictation – Warm Places – Dead Broke (Listen)
09 - Good Shade – Breakfast – Gut Genug (Listen)
10 - Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place – You’re Doomed. Be Nice. – Temporary Residence (Listen)

11 - Bent Shapes – Wolves Of Want – Slumberland
12 - A Giant Dog – Pile – Merge
13 - Lutheran Heat – Louder From The Other Side – Pinata
14 - Low Culture – Places To Hide – Dirtnap
15 - Hurry – Guided Meditation – Lame-O
16 - The Blind Shake – Celebrate Your Worth – Goner
17 - Marvelous Mark – Crushin’ – Drunken Sailor
18 - V/A – Harcore Matinee – Swami
19 - The Rutabega – Unreliable Narrator – Comedy Minus One
20 - Hot Mass – Nervous Tensions – Brassneck

21 - Danger Signs – Reset – Big Neck
22 - Beach Slang – A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings – Polyvinyl
23 - Notches – High Speed Crimes – Young Modern
24 - Dumpster Babies – Lost and Found – Tall Pat
25 - Toys That Kill – Sentimental Ward – Recess
26 - Pale Lips – Wanna Be Bad – Waterslide
27 - Drakulas – Drakulas – Dirtnap
28 - Spells – Staying In > Going Out – Snappy Little Numbers
29 - Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart – Dirtnap
30 - Plow United – Three – It’s Alive

Other Records I Picked Up This Year:
Against Me – Shape Shift With Me – Total Treble
Audacity – Hyper Vessels – Suicide Squeeze
Basketball Shorts – Hot And Ready – Fleeting Youth
California – California - Blackball
Chandeli-ers – Breaker – Dead Broke / Dirt Cult
Greys – Outer Heaven - Carpark
Mind Spiders - Prosthesis – Dirtnap
Mr. Lif – Don’t Look Down – Mello
Real Numbers – Wordless Wonder – Slumberland
Sega Genocide – Trys – Just Because
Shallow Cuts – Empty Beach Town – No Idea
Terry Malts – Lost At The Party – Slumberland
The Thermals – We Disappear – Saddle Creek
Wavves x Cloud Nothings - Wavves x Cloud Nothings – Ghost Ramp


Thursday, December 15, 2016

I Buy Way Too Many Records Dot Com Turns 5!

It’s kind of crazy when I think about it, but five years ago today I started working on I’m not sure I saw myself doing this 5 years later, but you know what, I still really enjoy writing about records and of course, buying them.

The whole reason I started this site to begin with was essentially as a place to put my best albums of the year list. Prior to setting up this site, I was taking pictures of and writing about records on my Flickr page. I still post each review on my Flickr page every day. Probably more out of habit than for any useful reason at this point.  Anyway, even though I had been posting these pictures and reviews on Flickr for quite a while, I wanted a better destination for my end of the year list.

Once I decided on the website name ( was taken, so I had to put in the word ‘way’) I started working on the basic design on December 15th.  On the 17th, I began to import all of the old reviews I had on Flickr. That took a few days, and then I started using the website as my main outlet for the pictures and reviews shortly thereafter.  I guess you could argue that the 17th is the actual birthday of anything being on the site, but I'll stick with the day I started working on it, which was the 15th.

I can honestly say I never, in a million years, thought I’d have as many people reading this site everyday as I do. Not that it’s a crazy amount or anything, but it sure seems like a lot to me. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that reads my ramblings. I’m well aware I’m not the best writer in the world and I sure feel like I run out of adjectives on a daily basis, but I do appreciate your time. I also wanted to say thanks to all of the bands and labels that have sent me things to review. I never expected to get any free records out of the deal. Even if I didn’t like what you sent, I still appreciate you sending it.

On Monday I’ll be posting my annual Absolute Best Records Of The Year list. After that, the website will be on hiatus, just for a bit. The holidays are coming up and then I’ll be going to Tokyo for 2 weeks. Rest assured, once I get back I’ll have a lot more records that will need to be written about. I plan on hitting up as many record stores there as humanly possible. So, Merry Holiday, Merry New Year, Merry Best of 2016 and thanks for reading.


PS - Sorry about the generic stolen image, I should have planned for a cooler picture that I took myself, but this just sort of snuck up on me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Shipyards - About Light CD


Waterslide (2014)

A few months ago Waterslide records sent me a big pile of CDs to review.  There have been some pretty great albums that I've discovered as I've gone through them, but I think I've saved the best for last one I'm going to be able to review this year.  I would have gotten to it sooner, but I started to get into a time crunch to have all of the 2016 albums reviewed in time for my end of the year list, which is coming soon.

I don't know how I had never heard of Shipyards before hearing this CD.  Maybe it's just that I'm getting older and I can't keep track of things as well as I could when I was a younger fellow, but if I had missed this album completely, that would have been tragic.  Shipyards is playing the exact kind of punk rock that I want to listen to.  They are the very epitome of the great Japanese punk band.  When I listen to this album, it reminds me of the glory days of the mid to late 90's, when bands like Blew, Lovemen, Sprocket Wheel, The Urchin and International Jet Set were putting out some of my very favorite records.

About Lights is a direct descendant of the sort of music that these bands bands were playing.  Shipyards are are crafting energetic, but still very melodic punk rock.  They have a fierce guitar attack, but the songs are just so damn catchy.  They have the kind of group backing vocals that just make you want to punch your fist in the air and scream along at the top of your lungs.

If it isn't obvious, I love this record.  I only wish it had come in 2016 so I could have put it on my favorite albums of the year list.  Or, I wish I would have heard it in 2014 so I could have put it on that years list.  Regardless, better late than never.  I'm just glad I didn't miss this near perfect album.

Shipyards - About Light:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Title Tracks - Long Dream LP


Ernest Jenning (2016)

I've been waiting for a new Title Tracks record for a very long time.  Their last LP In Blank is one of my very favorite records of the last ten years, but this follow up has been a long time coming.  When you take five years between albums, that's a lot of anticipation to build up, plus the fact that I was such a gigantic fan of the last record puts Long Dream in a precarious position.  Luckily, Title Tracks really come through and Long Dream is pretty fantastic.

The album starts of with an incredible one-two punch of "Low Cool" and "I Don't Need To Know."  Both show Title Tracks at the very top of their game.  They lean more towards straight up power pop than their last album, but they are every bit as fun and catchy as anything the band released previously.  

From there we hit something of a roadblock on "Empty Heavens."  This one is slower, has an 80's feel to it and kind of grinds the album to a screeching halt.  I'm not sure where this song came from exactly and why it is featured so early in the album.  If this was maybe the last song of the record it would make a little more sense contextually, but placed in the third position it's a real momentum killer.

Luckily, after "Empty Heavens" Long Dream picks back up and never lets go, dishing out great song after great song.  When Title Tracks are on point, very few bands can touch them.  Even though at the end of the day, I probably like In Blank a little bit better, Long Dream is a very worthy successor.  It's easily one of my very favorite albums of the year and and I have a feeling that I'm just going to like it more every time I listen to it.

Title Tracks - Long Dream:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Drakulas - S/T LP - Red Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2016)

Drakulas' debut for Dirtnap is also their first full length, following up on a 7" from a couple of years ago that I don't have.  This is my first exposure to the band and in general, I'm pretty impressed.  Boasting a 'members of' resume that includes bands like Riverboat Gamblers and Rise Against, I wasn't sure what this was going to sound like. That being said, they did have the Dirtnap seal of quality slapped on, so that usually pushes me towards a purchase more often than not.

What I ended up is an album that I think is pretty good, but is missing that little something that pushes it into rarified territory.  I think it's probably the vocals, which tend to live on the snotty, nasal, punk rock side of the spectrum.  I tend to favor vocals that are little more melodic and less acerbic.  With that said, Drakulas still crank out a hell of an album, full of fast paced, Marked Men style downstrokes and some pretty energetic hooks.

When the band really hits their stride on songs like "Sunny Tzu" or "VHS" I'm all in.  The combination of the buzzsaw guitar chords and the snappy choruses are right up my alley.  Less successful for me are when the band goes off the beaten path on something like "My Name In Your Mouth" or when they're simply going too fast even for me as they do on "Headphones/Slit Throats." But these are minor detours on an album that is a fun listen for the vast majority of the time.  It may not be in album of the year territory, but it's definitely worth a listen.  Especially if you like your rock and roll fast, loud and fuzzy.

Drakulas - S/T:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Blind Shake - Celebrate Your Worth LP - Blue Vinyl (/50)


Goner (2016)

Just to mention right off the back, I think that the information I've found online that indicates there are only fifty copies pressed on blue vinyl is a little suspect.  That's a lower amount than is typical for Goner, but that's the information I'll go with unless someone can point me to anything that says otherwise.  Seems awfully low to me.  Anyway, I'm glad mine is on blue.

The Blind Shake is one of those bands that absolutely goes against type for me.  I say this every time I review one of their records, but if you just take a surface look at this band, it doesn't make sense that I like them.  Noisy, kind of sludgy, weird guitar solo things.  It shouldn't work for me, but it always does.  There is something so engaging about this band's manic energy and the way they construct their songs.  There's always the slightest hint of a hook buried in the song, almost like The Blind Shake is daring you to find it.

As is usual with Blind Shake albums, I gravitate towards the fastest and catchiest songs on the album.  In this case it's standouts like "Reasonable World," "Society of Plants" and "Demox."  But as usual, the whole album is captivating as the band jumps from one sound to another with ease.  One thing you can really never say about The Blind Shake is to accuse them of having songs that all sound the same.  Celebrate Your Work is another example of their dynamic songwriting and their ability to pull me into some of the most unlikely bits of noise.

The Blind Shake - Celebrate Your Worth:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dumpster Babies - Lost and Found LP - Gold Marbled Vinyl


Tall Pat (2016)

Lost and Found is the follow up to 2013's self titled Dumpster Babies release.  In the interim, the band has grown older, wiser and much more mature.  OK, that's probably a bunch of bullshit.  These guys still sound like they're having an absolute blast playing an ultra catchy strain of sloppy rock and roll.

Lost and Found is one of those rare albums that, to my ears, is every bit as good as the first record that I heard from them.  Even if the band hasn't matured, they have tightened up their sound just a bit.  While they haven't lost any of their ramshackle, good times vibe, the hooks are a more focused and the slower songs have that little something extra that elevates them above just being rests between the fast ones.

The last time I wrote about Dumpster babies, I had compared them to Earthmen & Strangers and The Yolks.  I think those comparisons are both still apt for Lost and Found, particularly when the band puts their foot on the gas and the downstrokes start flying.  I still don't love the band's name and I can't say the art is really my style, but when the needle hits the vinyl that's where Dumpster Babies really shine.

Dumpster Babies - Lost and Found:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Medictation - Warm Places LP - Orange Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2016)

2016 has kind of been a shit year, taking away so many artists I respect.  And as bad as it has been, when Dickie Hammond passed away in 2015, I felt a profound loss.  This was a man whose music has had such an impact on me directly and had also influenced so many bands that I love.  It was a sad, sad day for punk rock.  Warm Places is the last record that Dickie was part of.

Also featuring member of The Sainte Catherines, Medictation is a roaring tribute to Dickie that is simply spectacular.  Dickie Hammond's guitar work is so distinct.  Whether you go through HDQ or Leatherface or Doctor Bison, you can always hear the way Dickie's guitar influences those band.  It's so powerful, but beautiful at the same time.  Medictation, for the most part, tends to stay closer to the Leatherface playbook.  Though, definitely more in line with the quieter moments of albums like The Last and Minx.

The vocals are appropriately raspy and wonderful.  Aside from an odd turn on "Stalingrad," where the super low, spoken word type vocals actually remind me a little of some of those goofy old Dandy Warhols songs.  Not that this song is a goof, but it stands in contrast so sharply with the rest of the album.  Still, this record is great.  It's a definite highlight in 2016 and we sure could use some of those.

Medictation - Warm Places:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band - Don't Shake CD


Five-Five Hole (2016)

This particular CD made its way to me, I think, primarily due to the fact that I've been active on Rocket From The Crypt message boards and listservs since the mid 90's.  Sir Coyler is one of the fellows that I've met along the way and it's always interesting to see the sort of music that folks you know create.  Luckily, I don't need to say nice things out of some sort of misplaced loyalty.  Don't Shake is a fun album that I would have been happy to review even if I didn't internet-know this guy.

There's a good mish mash of rock and roll styles throughout the course of this album.  Some songs have a a straight forward noisy garage sound like "S.L.V.M." or "Invisible Blues." Then you have others that lean more toward a borderline boogie feel such as  "Charades at the Condo."  There's even some cool surf moments like the instrumental "Sticky D's."  If you've got an itch, seems like Sir Coyler and his crew are happy to try to scratch it for you.

The songs that tend to stand out to me are the ones that lean on the poppier side of things and have those big hooks that I like, but the whole album is a fun ride from start to finish.  These guys are likely under the radar a bit, so they're worth digging for. Well, I'll dig for you:

Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band - Don't Shake:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

40 Albums in 40 Years - 1976-2016

40 Albums in 40 Years - 1976-2016 

My buddy Scott (@skot1107) recently turned 40 and made a list of his favorite records that came out each year he was alive.  I thought this was an interesting idea so I decided to make my list for my birthday as well.  Since I turn 40 today, here we go.

Now, just to get it out of the way: This is mostly a list of how I feel about these records right now.  If you were to look at my best records lists from prior years, they don't all match up anymore.  In some instances my favorite record for a given year has changed over time.  Of course, warm nostalgia for some childhood albums does play a part.

I'm also well aware that my choices for the early 80's are probably suspect to some.  I'll be honest, I don't really listen to a ton of bands from back then.  Sure, I like The Replacements and Husker Du just fine, but I don't relisten to those bands over and over and over.  I guarentee I've listened to these Weird Al records a lot more than any early punk rock band.  And I promise you I've listend to Briefcase Full of Blues more times than any record I own. Also, 1982 appears to be the worst year in the history of recorded music.

I had to leave out some of my very favorite records of all time just because of the year it happened to hit.  I could not imagine making a list like this that didn't include One Foot In The Grave by Beck, but it had the bad luck of coming out the same year as Jehu in 1994. This happens for a few other heavy hitters as well.

Lastly, I haven't put this year's record on the list yet.  I'll come back and update this once I have posted my best records of 2016 list in a few weeks.

1976 - David Bowie - Station To Station
1977 - John Williams - Star Wars Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1978 - The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues
1979 - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Damn The Torpedoes
1980 - The Blues Brothers - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1981 - The Cars - Shake It Up
1982 - Buckner & Garcia - Pac Man Fever
1983 - Weird Al Yankovic - Weird Al Yankovic
1984 - Weird Al Yankovic - In 3D
1985 - Weird Al Yankovic - Dare To Be Stupid
1986 - Weird Al Yankovic - Polka Party
1987 - Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded
1988 - Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
1989 - Snuff - Snuff Said
1990 - Leatherface - Fill Your Boots
1991 - Leatherface - Mush
1992 - Rocket From The Crypt - Circa Now
1993 - Bum - Wanna Smash Sensation
1994 - Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime
1995 - Rocket From The Crypt - The State Of Art Is On Fire
1996 - Snuff - Demmamussabebonk
1997 - Him Kerosene - Start.Stop.
1998 - Broccoli - Home
1999 - Built To Spill - Keep It Like A Secret
2000 - Hot Snakes - Automatic Midnight
2001 - Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds
2002 - Hot Snakes - Suicide Invoice
2003 - The Thermals - More Parts Per Million
2004 - The Marked Men - On The Outside
2005 - Oranger - New Comes And Goes
2006 - Camp Radio - Camp Radio
2007 - Statues - New People Make Us Nervous
2008 - Night Marchers - See You In Magic
2009 - Sick Sick Birds - Heavy Manners
2010 - Steve Adamyk Band - Steve Adamyk Band
2011 - Title Tracks - In Blank
2012 - Mrs Magician - Strange Heaven
2013 - Night Marchers - Allez Allez
2014 - Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else
2015 - Clearance - Rapid Rewards
2016 - TBA

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spells - Staying In > Going Out LP - Blue Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2016)

I've said this a few times in the past, but Snappy Little Numbers is fast becoming one of those record labels that I really trust.  It seems that no matter what record they release, I usually end up liking it.  Having enjoyed a prior Spells 7" as well as a split cassette they were on, I was expecting another winner.  Guess what? They didn't let me down.

If you look at the track listing of the new Spells album, it might alarm some.  There are a few kind of silly song titles like "Raditude," Staying In Is The New Going Out," "Leisure Seizure" and "Nitro Breakdown Right On."  Thankfully, even though Spells definitely employs an upbeat, party band vibe, their songs aren't joke songs.  Each is a well crafted, bouncy slice of pop with a punky aftertaste.  The gang style singalong backup vocals punctuate the hooks and the guitar has a nice, nasty snarl to it.

More than anything, they remind me of the band Napalmpom, except Spells did everything right that Napalmpom was doing wrong.  No glam rock underpinnings and catchier songs.  Definitely worth a listen.

Spells - Staying In > Going Out:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Real Numbers - Wordless Wonder LP - White Vinyl


Slumberland (2016)

Real Numbers are a band that have been on my radar for about 5 years now.  They released a 7" here, a 12" EP there, but would then go back into hibernation for an extended spell.  Wordless Wonders is their first full length and while I won't pretend I've been waiting at the edge of my seat for this moment to arrive, I was excited that the band was finally putting out an album.

The resulting album reminds me a lot more of their 12" from a few years ago than it does their earlier 7".  It's a good album, but that's as high praise as I'll be able to give the whole thing.  Most songs are pretty mellow, though still quite catchy in places.  It has a definite low key, 60's style vibe to it with the vocals having just enough echo effect on them to make you wonder if the band is slipping into the world of psych rock.  Thankfully none of the songs are far out enough to really cross that line.

Where Real Numbers really shine are when they flat out play fast songs.  When the band revs up their Vacant Lot style rippers "Just So Far Away" and "Up & About" it makes me wonder how much I would love this album if it was crammed full of tracks like that.  Regardless, it's a pretty good album start to finish with a handful of standouts.  There aren't any bad songs, there just aren't enough great ones to make this an album of the year contender.  Still worth a listen.

Real Numbers - Wordless Wonder:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bad Sports - Living With Secrets 12" - Clear Vinyl (/300)


Dirtnap (2016)

I'm not sure exactly why, but I've never liked 12" EPs.  I think it's mostly because it seems like a waste of vinyl.  Why not do a 10"? I always thought that was the perfect platform for an EP that's too long to put on a 7".  That's all just a personal preference and it has nothing to do with the actual Bad Sports songs on this EP.

I'm very guilty of being the guy that says things like, this is good, but I liked their last record better.  I do that a lot.  I think there is something hardwired into my brain that makes me have the most affection for the first album that gets me into a band.  There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but in general, I tend to do this.  And that is my big takeaway from this Bad Sports EP.  It's good, I like some of the songs quite a bit, but I don't like it quite as much as previous records that the band put out.

The songs are still pretty catchy with some solid hooks, but they're not quite as in your face poppy as some of their older material.  There's definitely a darker vibe going on here and from time to time the band is pulled into territory I would associate with another Dirtnap band, The Estranged.  All in all, it's still a good EP.  Without comparisons to their earlier records I would probably be into it more, but that's my burden.

Bad Sports - Living With Secrets 12":

Monday, November 28, 2016

Terry Malts - Lost At The Party LP - White w/ Red Vinyl


Slumberland (2016)

Lost At The Party is the second album I've purchased by Terry Malts.  Though I had a few minor issues, I really enjoyed their last record, Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere.  Lost At The Party is something a little bit different this time out.  On some songs, they come out better for it, but on others it's a move that doesn't work out as well.

Terry Malts is a band that I like the most when they are playing fast and loud.  A little bit of fuzziness goes a long way with these guys.  When the pace quickens on this album, as it does on standout tracks like "Won't Come Find You, "Seen Everything" and "Come Back," Terry Malts are at their best.  The hooks are there and with the drums pounding and guitar howling, this is a band to be reckoned with.

The biggest issue with Lost At The Party is an over reliance on slower, eighties sounding songs. These ones are schmaltzy and sound way too much like they're trying to be part of the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie. "Gentle Eyes" and "Waiting For The Bomb" are my least favorite of this bunch.  They just grind the album to a screeching halt.  That being said, when the band is upbeat this is a pretty great record in places.  I just wish they were upbeat a bit more often.

Terry Malts - Lost At The Party:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Turkey Break

OK, I'll admit it, that picture isn't of a record I bought.  But it has a turkey on it, which is big fun.  Anyway, I'm taking the week off from reviews for the holiday.  Enjoy any time off you have coming and Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Felix! (The Band) - What To Do In Case Of Fire? CD


Waterslide (2015)

When I pulled this out of the package of CDs sent to me from Waterslide records, I immediately started to smile.  The artwork for this album is fantastic, a spin on the old art used by Mutant Pop records for their 7"s back in the 90's.  Even though I didn't love everything that Mutant Pop put out, they had some spectacular releases.  If you don't have those Underhand 7"s, you really should go buy them right away.

Felix! (The Band) fits in the Mutant Pop mold as well. At their core they are the epitome of a 1990s pop punk band.  Probably most similar to bands on the pop punk spectrum like The Riverdales, Squirtgun and Zoinks!.  They've got the blasting power chords, the three chord transitions, a little bit of octaves for some dynamics and lots of catchy choruses.  They're at their best when there's a little bit of whoa-ing in the background during the choruses of songs like "Sunday" and "I'm Still Waiting For You."

It's kind of funny listening to Felix! (The Band).  They just sound so much like an American band from the 90's, you find yourself forgetting that this album only came out last year.  It's a nice and refreshing listen.  Twenty years ago this may have gotten lost in the shuffle with so many other bands around at the time, but now they stand out as something new, fresh and pretty unique in 2016 (or 2015 when the record came out). 

Felix! (The Band) - What To Do In Case Of Fire?:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

First Base - Together Again 7"


La-Ti-Da (2016)

This is the seventh and last of the 7"s that I bought as a bundle from La-Ti-Da records.  There have been way more good than bad and I would buy another bundle like this without hesitation.  The best part has been discovering some new bands and the last 7" in this set, by First Base, is one of the best.

The funny thing is, I actually thought I had a record by First Base.  Either I'm confusing them with another band that I can't remember or I've somehow lost a record of theirs.  It's probably the former, though I have misplaced the occasional album.  Regardless, this La-Ti-Da 7" is a corker.  Both songs are tightly wound, harmony soaked, power pop gems.  With the bouncy bass lines you want and the singalong backing vocals that you need.

This is a band that looks to have a bunch of records out, including an LP on HoZac and a couple releases on Hosehead (which is for sure why I know the name of the band at the very least).  You can bet I'm going to be checking out those records soon, this 7" is fantastic.

First Base - Together Again 7":

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mallwalkers - Dial 'M' For... LP - Purple Vinyl (/100)


Peterwalkee (2016)

Dial 'M' For... is another record sent to me for review by the folks at Peterwalkee records.  They're not a band I was familiar with, but as I read the accompanying one sheet, I was intrigued by the fact that they name dropped bands like Rocket From The Crypt, Dun Narcotic Sound System and The B-52's.  That, plus the fact that the album art clearly depicts a horn section got my hopes up that this could be something great.

All the pieces are there.  I'll even go so far to say the band itself is pretty great.  They've got blistering energy as they stomp their way through each song.  A solid barrage of guitar attack with some really excellent horn section accents.  Maybe not in the same ballpark as RFTC necessarily, but I could see how this sort of thing might appeal to similar fans.  Unfortunately all of of this good will is immediately destroyed when the vocals kick in.

I'm not sure I've heard a band so good that has such awful singers.  They have the male/female interplay going on, but it's kind of a disaster.  Singer 1A, Dan sounds like he has a perpetual sore throat and is in dire need of some Sucrets.  I like some raspy vocals, but this is raspy done in the absolute wrong way.  On the flipside, Singer 1B Jaz is a shouting nightmare.  She is just screaming like a maniac most of the time and it's awful.  

The strangest part is when Jaz calms down and actually sings a song like she does on the slow, soul influence "Community," she's incredibly effective.  She is so much more suited to that style than she is to the other ninety percent of the album where she and Dan are yelling at you to "Dance til your pants are off."  It's a shame as the vocals kind of spoil would could have been a pretty fun album.

Mallwalkers - Dial M For ...: