Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bent Shapes - Wolves of Want LP - Pink Vinyl

Untitled

Slumberland (2016)

I'm not sure that there is a label in the world whose email updates I rely on more than Slumberland.  Even though I don't like everything they release (some bands tends to be a bit sleepy for me), they do have several bands that I do enjoy so I always read about their new releases to see if the next one is something more up my alley.  When the description of this Bent Shapes album ended up in my mailbox, it seemed like my cup of tea.  

Wolves of Want is just a wonderful blend of clean, peppy guitar tones, upbeat rhythms and such great vocal harmonies.  Bent Shapes hit it out of the park with this one. These hooks just get stuck in my head for days at a time.  There's enough energy and enthusiasm to keep me engaged, but they never sacrifice the melody just to play a little fast or louder.  The melody is the key and the songs are built spectacularly around that.  

The only time things get a bit wonky for me is during "USA v. POR."  It's slow and there's this odd spoken word thing going on that sticks out a bit from the rest of the album.  But truthfully, the song is short, not inherently bad or anything and provides a nice little break from the rest of the songs.  I don't think it's as clever as maybe some other folks do, but it doesn't really hurt the album.

Other than that it's just hit after hit on Wolves oif Want.  Bent Shapes have put out easily one of the best records of the year so far.  I'm very thankful Slumberland keeps sending out those email updates.

Bent Shapes - Wolves of Want:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Divers - Hello Hello LP

Untitled

Rumbletowne (2015)

Divers weren't a band on my radar until they ended up on a Snuffy Smiles 7".  I had liked what I heard enough to grab their LP from last year as well.  It's ended up being something of a mixed bag as there are songs that I like and others that just kind of bore me.

I will say this, when Divers are playing their faster songs they really hit that sweet spot between Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.  Rootsy and earnest, but still having enough pop hooks and rock and roll chops to keep things from ending up in a weird Americana place.  Songs like "Blood Song" and "Tracks" are true standouts and are really fantastic.  If Hello Hello was full of songs like this, I would probably be much more enthusiastic about this record as a whole than I've ended up being.

My main issue is that there are far too many slow songs.  These slower ones just don't have the energy and passion that the band shows when they speed up the tempo a bit.  Large swaths of this record are taken up by slow, meandering guitar, barely there vocals and gentle drumming.  A song or two like this would be a fine change of pace, but when they end up being the majority of your record, things get a bit dull.

Still, the highs on this record are pretty darn high and there aren't really any bad songs, just a few too many that are a bit boring to me.  It's probably worth picking up if you see it, but I wouldn't go too far out of my way to hunt it down.

Divers - Hello Hello:

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Thermals - We Disappear LP - Clear Vinyl

Untitled

Saddle Creek (2016)

We Disappear is the seventh album by The Thermals and at this stage, one thing is very clear: The Thermals know how to put out a good record.  Although there are some that I don't like quite as much as others, these guys simply do not know how to write a bad record and they have thirteen years worth of releases to back that up.  My only issue is that for the last ten years, they just haven't been able to manage a great album.

In my opinion, the first two Thermals records, More Parts Per Million and Fucking A, are the band's flat out classics.  I never thought that they managed to capture the energy of those records ever again.  Maybe it's because drummer Jordan Hudson left the band?  Maybe it's because their third album The Body, The Blood, The Machine was the one that really gained them the notoriety they had been deserving all along?  I'm not really sure, but all I know is that after thinking their first two records were flawless masterpieces, I've just thought every record since then has been good.

Thats not really a knock, I've bought them all and have enjoyed each one in its way.  We Disappear is the same.  Lots of great, catchy songs with strong hooks and Hutch's trademark vocal yelp.  This record is packed full of really good songs.  I'm just missing the 'fuck the world' energy of the first two records.  I miss going to their shows and jumping up and down while screaming along until I'm blue in the face.  We Disappear is a good record; at times a very good record.  I just wish it was great.  

The Thermals - We Disappear:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Preacher & The Bear - Can't Afford No Train 7" - White Vinyl

Untitled

PinkBox (2016)

I'm not sure where to begin with this one.  Preacher And The Bear's 7" was sent to me all the way from the UK to review, so I'm sure it cost a little bit to send it to me.  I'm appreciative that they took the effort, but man, I don't like this.

It's somewhat sloppy, questionably recorded "blues" music.  They kind of sound like a bunch of drunk old guys who got together at a bar to play a song, only for some reason the singer is trapped in some sort of metal box that he's shouting in.  The band yells over and over again on this 7" that they "can't afford no train."  It doesn't sound like they can afford no microphones either.  

I think the band is aiming to be the sort of cool, throwback blues band like Ballantynes.  The problem is that the Ballantynes write awesome songs, play them flawlessly and record them nicely.  I can't say that Preacher & The Bear do any of that.

Preacher & The Bear - "Can't Afford No Train" (This is a live version of the song, I couldn't find the 7" version anywhere.  The 7" version is a bit faster and does sound better than this at least):

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Divers - Achin' On 7" - Clear Vinyl (/100) & Black Vinyl

Untitled

Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles (2016)

I'm not sure if it's all that noticeable, but despite the crazy amount of records I buy, I try not to get too caught up in the variant hunt.  Sure there are a handful of bands where I do feel the need to have every version of every record, but for most part I'm perfectly content just having one copy.  Though admittedly, I do always want the most limited version.  Well, in addition to the few bands I will go variant crazy for, I also want to try to have a complete collection of Snuffy Smiles 7"s, so when this Divers 7" popped up, I had to pick up both versions.

The A-side, "Achin' On" is a nice little slab off Tom Petty inspired rock and roll.  It has a pulsing bass line and some subtle hooks.  I definitely hear some similarities to the band Nude Beach, but Divers seems to be a touch more melancholy.  It's a great song though.  B-side "Can't Do That" is a Dead Moon cover.  While I'm not familiar with the original, The Divers version is a low key, somewhat murky track.  Pretty good, but I dig the A-side more.

I did like these songs enough that I also orders the Divers full length from last year.   I'll write something up about that in the next week or so as well.

Divers - Achin' On 7":

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bob Mould - Patch The Sky LP - Clear Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2016)

For the third straight album, Bob Mould is on an absolute tear.  Like Silver Age and Beauty & Ruin before it, Patch The Sky is a tremendous collection of aggressive pop songs that prove once again that when he's in his element, no one can touch Bob Mould.

It's been so great to see Bob Mould embracing this kind of heavy guitar rock again.  Once upon a time, I was working in the music biz and had the opportunity to promote a Bob Mould record.  He came into the office and was nice as you could imagine.  We talked about what he wanted to accomplish with his current record and even took some time to chat about pro wrestling and the time he spent working for WCW in their dying days.  Unfortunately the album I had to promote was Modulate, his foray into sort-of electronic music.  The record wasn't very good and it didn't do very well.  I felt bad for Bob because he was such a nice guy, but he just wasn't playing to his strengths.

Patch The Sky plays to all of Bob's strengths.  It's even better than Beauty & Ruin and comes awfully close to the level of perfection that Silver Age reached.  Song after song of loud, crunchy guitar mixes with Bob's signature vocal howl.  The songs are all spectacularly catchy and for the third straight album, Jon Wuster provides some of the punchiest and most dynamic drumming you could ask for.  His percussive attack has really been a driving force in the resurrection of Bob Mould and and his importance on these last three records cannot be overstated.

So far, Patch The Sky is the best record I've heard all year.  It's everything I love about Bob Mould on record and as far as I'm concerned, he can keep putting out albums like this every other year for the rest of his life.  I will buy every single one.

Bob Mould - "The End Of Things":

Bob Mould - "Voices In My Head":


Monday, April 18, 2016

Snuff - Demmamussabebonk LP - Yellow Vinyl

Untitled

10 Past 12 (2016, Reissue)

It's kind of crazy to me that Demmamussabebonk is twenty years old this year.  Snuff has been one of my favorite bands in the world for over two decades and this album has been in my top five albums of all time ever since I thought about trying to rank albums like that.  A lesser know fact about Demmamussabebonk is that there were two versions of it released back in 1996.  The version on Fat Wreck in the US and the UK version that came out on Deceptive records.  Fat Wreck rereleased their version as a limited colored vinyl run a couple of years ago.  For its twentieth anniversary, Snuff has rereleased the UK version on their own 10 Past 12 records.

In my opinion, the UK release has always been the superior version of the record.  For starters, the track listing is in a different order and the album comes storming out of the gate with "Martin."  If that's not a perfect opening track, I don't know what is.  For the life of me, I can't understand why Fat changed that.  Also, the mix of the record is completely different from the Fat Wreck version.  It's a rougher mix that doesn't sound quite as slick.  It just feels like it has more energy and really encapsulates what Snuff is supposed to sound like.  The new reissue also comes with a CD of the demos that Snuff recorded for the album.  It's an interesting listen for sure and contains all of the songs from Demmamussabebonk as well as demos of the B-sides from this era of the band.

When I first opened this reissue, I thought the artwork looked a little strange.  Sort of like when some band does a reissue and they don't have the original art files so they try to scan in a copy and use that.  I thought the pictures of the toys on the cover looked a little washed out.  Well, it turns out it's not from the pictures being reused, it's from the toys getting older.  They retook the pictures on the cover using the same toys 20 years later.  The clear plastic of the scooter has started to cloud up over time and Happy Clock is also fading a bit.  

Once I figured out what they had done, I actually really liked the concept of recreating the art twenty years later.  After all, we've all aged a bit since this record originally came out.  But even though Demmamussabonk is twenty years old, it still sounds as fresh and exciting to me as it did the very first time I listened to it.  My highest possible recommendation.

Snuff - "Martin":

Snuff - "B":

Snuff - "Sunny Places":

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spoilers - Stay Afloat 12" - Blue w/ Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Brassneck / Boss Tuneage (2015)

Let me tell you something, when Spoilers are clicking for me they're at the very top level of current punk rock bands that I like.  The only issue that I have is that as far as my taste in music goes, Stay Afloat has its moments that veer sharply into territory I don't like as much.

There are two main reasons I didn't pick this up right when it came out.  The first was postage related and I was waiting for the chance to bundle it up with some other records that I wanted from the UK.  The second reason is that I just don't like the lead track on this EP, "All For One."  It flies by at two thousand miles an hour, leans heavily on that galloping drum beat that I really don't care for and has biting, shouted lyrics.  It's kind of a perfect storm of tthings that turns me off of bands.  Spoilers don't play this style of music poorly or anything, it's just not the kind of thing I like to listen to.

Once you get past that opening song though, the next two songs on side A are simply tremendous.  They're much more in line with the sort of middle tempo, organ fueled pop that Snuff has mastered late in their career.  The vocals are super melodic, a stark comparison to the prior song's shouting, and they've worked in hooky choruses in all the right places.  I couldn't ask for two better songs, truthfully.  

When you flip over to side B, we have the exact same scenario.  The first song is too fast and loud for me, but the next two are essentially perfect.  It's and interesting situation.  Six songs, two of which I don't like, but four that are among the best UK punk songs I've heard in quite some time.  Those four are great enough that I recommend this 12" without hesitation, but I definitely hope the band goes in the direction of their more melodic work as they move forward and put out more records.

Spoilers - Stay Afloat 12":

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mind Spiders - Prosthesis LP - Clear Vinyl (/500)

Untitled

Dirtnap (2015)

To me it's impossible to write about Mind Spiders without bringing up Mark Ryan's past band The Marked Men.  It's also difficult to not compare Mind Spiders in some way to the band Radioactivity (which Ryan is also a part of).  While Radioactivity has become the more logical evolution of The Marked Men's brash and poppy rock and roll, Mind Spiders have been morphing into something else completely and that is no more evident than it is on Prosthesis.

Now, there are still hints of the Marked Men, and for sure that is what keeps drawing me back to this band time after time.  There's some sneaky hooks hidden in the songs along with some big, chunky power chords that occasionally rear their heads.  But at its essence, Prosthesis is a completely different type of band.  They're kind of quirky, with stuttering rhythms like a truly bummed out Devo.  There's liberal use of synth (usually the kiss of death for me), but they're not used in a way that seems frivolous or gimmicky.  The keyboards here really add to the texture of these songs, giving them a darker feel.

Do I like Mind Spiders as much as I like The Marked Men or Radioactivity?  No I don't.  But it's such an unfair comparison as Mind Spiders are really forging their own way and creating some unique and interesting sounds.  I don't listen to a lot of bands that go down this path, but the ones that I do listen to all do it exceptionally well.  Mind Spiders absolutely fit in that category.  After all, I don't typically buy four full length albums by a band that I don't like. 

Mind Spiders - Prosthesis:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Future Virgins / Good Grief - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

All In Vinyl (2015)

This is round two of the All In Vinyl subscription series.  This particular split pairs two bands that I see the names of quite often, but I've never really spent that much time with.  As a result I have to plead guilty to not really knowing very much about either, despite owning records by at least one of them.  I know that sounds kind of weird, but let's be honest.  With the amount of records I buy, there's going to be some 7"s that might not get played as often as I'd like.

I had a Future Virgins split 7" with Toys That Kill.  Toys That Kill were the band that drove that purchase, but I do remember thinking that Future Virgins were pretty good and worth diving further into their catalog.  I never really got around to that, so they are still pretty much a new band to me.  The two songs on this split are pretty good.  I enjoy the music side of their equation quite a bit.  It's straightforward and catchy with hooks in the right places.  I'm not digging the vocals as much.  We all know I like some raspy/gruff vocals, but it's taken a bit to far here.  The vocals sound strained and I kind of want to check to see if the singer needs a cough drop.  These songs are pretty good, but I'm not liking it as much as I would if the vocals were slightly more melodic.

Good Grief is another band that I've seen around when buying records.  I actually thought I had something else by them already, but I guess I never bought that split of theirs with BUZZorHOWL (or at least I can't find it right now).  Good Grief lean more towards the indie rock side of the punk rock spectrum.  The vocals are clean and there are some pretty stellar backing harmonies thrown in for good measure.  The vocals remind me of The Vacant Lot and that's never a bad thing.  There's a nice amount of fuzzy guitar and catchy riffs.   Honestly these two songs are great, I really should try to find more by these guys, but there seems to be another band called Good Grief that advertises themselves as classic rock...with an edge!  I'll figure it out eventually.

Future Virgins - "No Black Cars":

Good Grief - "I Don't Know What To Say":


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Make It Plain / Deep Pockets - Split 7"

Untitled

Dead Broke (2012)

I've had this 7" kicking around for quite awhile.  The fine folks at Dead Broke had tossed it in with an order I had placed with them at some point.  I couldn't tell you exactly what I had ordered in that package, but it's always nice to get a little bonus.  For one reason or another, I just didn't get around to listening to this split 7" until very recently.  It's about time that I did.

First up we have Make It Plain.  I'm very impressed by the two songs that they contribute to this split.  Make It Plain has a really distinct Silver Scooter, but with female vocals vibe to them.  The first of the two songs, "Fresh Start" is the more upbeat and catchier of the two.  It's definitely the one I prefer.  "ICU" is no slouch either.  It's not as fast and more deliberate, but despite its slower pace the song has strong energy and, to me, kind of veers into Boys Life like territory a bit at the end.

The other half of this record is a band called Deep Pockets.  As much as I dig Make It Plain, Deep Pockets is the real star of this 7".  On "Cyclone Cellar" Deep Pockets blast through with fuzzy guitars and a singer that really has a Lou Barlow type delivery.  This is real Bakesale era Sebadoh style rock in the best possible way.  "I Like To Have Dinner Every Night" is a little weirder.  The guitars are more muted and the vocals are pretty much just spoken.  The lyrics are someone odd talking about things like going to Ikea and getting into a fight with Randy Savage.  I don't know if I love it, but it's interesting if nothing else.  Still, "Cyclone Cellar" is so damn good I am absolutely going to dig up some more info about these guys.

Make It Plain / Deep Pockets - Split 7":

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sabertooth - Spaces Between LP

Untitled

Debt Offensive (2015)

Sabertooth hail from Calgary, Alberta Canada, and just like fellow denizen Lance Storm I would make the argument that they are under appreciated for just how good they are. On Spaces Between, the band brings a hyper attack that's part Dear Landlord and part Plow United.

I love it when bands are able to play really fast, loud poppy punk without the drummer having to rely on that crummy NOFX galloping drum beat.  That's one thing that really sets Sabertooth far ahead of the pack, their drummer is simply phenomenal laying down tight rhythms with super dynamic fills and transitions.  On top of that foundation, we've got some buzzsaw guitar riffing and impassioned gruff vocals.  Throw in big hooks in the chorus and really, how could I not like this band.  They're singing my song.

A little blurb on the Debt Offensive Bandcamp page mentions that this could be Sabertooth's final release.  I sure hope that doesn't end up being the case.  Spaces Between is far too good to be anyone's swan song.

Sabertooth - Spaces Between:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Stay Clean Jolene / Does It Float - Split 7" - Red Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

All In Vinyl (2015)

When done properly, I sure do love a good singles series.  While I've been a part of quite a few that fizzled out and disappeared into the night, All In Vinyl is still going strong with their singles club, which is entering its fourth year.  Once again, the quality of bands they've brought on board this year is pretty stellar.

Volume 1 starts off with Stay Clean Jolene, one of my current favorite punk rock bands from the UK.  Everything you would want from these guys are featured on their two songs.  Raspy, impassioned vocals over loud and brash guitar riffs.  They manage to straddle the divide between heart on your sleeve punk like Iron Chic (with those big, big sing along choruses) and the full throttle, driving style you've come to expect from bands like Leatherface.  I've yet to hear a Stay Clean Jolene song I haven't liked, and these two are no exception.

On the other side is Does It Float from Japan.  These guys fully encapsulate what I love about a good singles series.  I'd never heard of this band previously, but man these two songs just knocked my socks off. They could so easily fit in with the very best bands on Snuffy Smiles.  In particular, they really remind me of the slightly slower, more thoughtful Japanese punk of bands like Three Minute Movie or Lovemen.  Two absolutely spectacular songs.  If anyone can point me towards any more of their records, please get in touch.

Stay Clean Jolene - "Red Salt":

Does It Float - "Speak For My Secret":

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Snuff - No Biting! 12"

Untitled

10 Past 12 (2016)

It truly warms my heart when there is a new Snuff record.  These guys have been one of my absolute favorite bands for over twenty years at this point.  They are essentially the only band that can give Rocket From The Crypt a run for the top spot in my heart.  The fact that the band is still recording and releasing new music in 2016 is something to celebrate. Also, the appearance of Happy Clock on the cover again is a nice touch.

The really amazing thing about Snuff is that the quality of songs they are able to pull off has not diminished at all over the years.  The EPs lead track, "Bob's Song," immediately pulls you back into the late 90's/early 2000's Tweet Tweet My Lovely era of the band.  Bouncy guitar riffs, catchy hooks and perfectly placed trombone accents make this on of the highlights.  As is usual for any Snuff release, you are going to get a variety of styles as each of the EPs seven songs unfold.  From the harsher, more hardcore leaning "Conductor 71," to the every so slightly metal guitar tinges on "Rue The Day" to the flat out wackiness of their cover of "Galloping Home (Theme From Black Beauty)," Snuff is firing on all cylinders and haven't lost a step.

No Biting, coupled with a recent reissue of my favorite Snuff album Demmamussabebonk, and a recent UK tour have Snuff front and center once again.  Hopefully this leads to more music, more touring (maybe America again?) and to a new full length.  I have a lot of Snuff records in the collection, but there's always room for more.

Snuff - No Biting 12":
(It's just a  little preview video thing with clips of each song, I can't find any whole songs streaming anywhere)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Audacity - Counting The Days 7"

Untitled

Suicide Squeeze (2014)

This was an extra 7" that I received when I pre-ordered the new Audactiy full length.  I've only had the full length play once in the background, so I can't really say much about that just yet, but I'll take a crack at this 7".  It's a little odd, the A-side is also the lead track of the new Audacity full length, but it looks like this 7" was released all the way back in 2014.  That raises two questions: 1. Why did it take so long for the full length to come out? And 2. How did I not know this 7" had been released?

I guess at the end of the day it doesn't matter.  "Counting The Days" is a great song, even if it is something of a departure from the band's last album Butter Knife.  This song is definitely more of a raucous endeavor with strained vocals and bags of fuzz heaped on the guitars.  It also has all of the hooks and catchiness you'd want out of an Audacity song.  Even the crazy guitar solo in the middle fits in nicely, and as you may know, I'm not usually big on solos.

The B-side "Mind Your Own Business" doesn't grab me quite the same way.  It's a cover song that was originally done by Delta 5.  I'll admit to not being particularly familiar with the Delta 5 version, but I fired it up on YouTube before writing this review.  Can't say I really I'm a big fan.  The Audacity version is definitely a fuller song with quite a bit more muscle behind it.  At the end of the day I just don't dig this song, but again, it's a cover song and a B-side, so it's really just a bonus more than anything else.  Especially since it was free.

Audacity - Counting The Days 7":

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

JJCNV - Braniac Handsome LP

Untitled

Flab Fjord (2013)

I've said it many times in the past, if you send me an album to review I will eventually get to it.  Especially if it is on vinyl.  There have been a few over the years that I've just dragged my feet getting around to and Braniac Handsome is one of those records.  It was sent to me a few months ago and I just couldn't get motivated to write about it.  Since it originally came out back in 2013, there didn't seem to be a real rush on a timely write up.

I'm not entirely sure what lead JJCNV to my website.  I wish I knew what reviews I've written in the past that made someone think I would like this.  Sure, I have a definite affinity for 90's sounding music, but I can't really think of bands similar to these guys that I've positively reviewed in the past.  

Well, to try to get to the point, JJCNV is playing a very sludgy, dark strain of Melvins style rock and roll.  There's a good amount of shouting and noise, but to the band's credit the alternating male/female vocals and the fact that they're not afraid to slow things down every once in a while gives Braniac Handsome and more dynamic feel than I would have expected.  Additionally, it seems like the band isn't afraid to be a bit wacky every so often.  I give kudos to that as well.

What it really boils down to for me is that I really don't like this sort of thing.  The deep, distorted bass, the AmRep guitar howl and all of the yelling is just not my cup of tea.  If that is yours, it may be worth checking these guys out.  I personally can't see myself listening to this again.

JJCNV - Braniac Handsome LP:

Monday, March 28, 2016

The No Marks / Spoilers - Split 7" - Gray Vinyl (/330)

Untitled

Brassneck / Boss Tuneage (2016)

This fun little 7" came out on Brassneck records, familiar to some as one of the great labels that PopKid records got to co-release the Chestnut Road record with.  I've been a fan of Brassneck for a bit now.  In the short time they have been a label, they've managed to amass a catalog of bands that I'm really into.  One of the bands towards the very top of this list is The No Marks.

Their side of this 7" contains 3 songs, each highlighting a different strength of the band.  "Spirit" starts off with a cavernous drum beat that quickly bleeds into jagged guitar riffs and gravelly vocals calling into the night.  On "Guilt As A Control Mechanism" the band picks up the pace with a breakneck verse traveling at a thousand miles an hour, but just wait for the chorus that hook will pull you in immediately.  Lastly they serve up "Get Out," a 30 second semi-hardcore blast, not dissimilar from the sort of track Snuff would toss on a record to break things up.

Speaking of Snuff, that leads to the folks on the other side of the record, Spoilers.  Coming off the heels of a strong 12" EP (which I do have, but haven't reviewed yet), the two songs on this 7" are my favorite songs of theirs to date.  They have a strong Snuff influence, clearly seen on the organ fueled "The Same Again."  The backing 'whoa's' are right where you'd want them and there's a fast, catchy mod vibe that reminds me a lot of The 'Tone on top of the already mentioned Snuff influence.  

Their second contribution "Lost Your Way" is more straight forward.  It's faster, though I would say the drumming isn't particularly dynamic for most of the song.  Though everything comes together nicely at the end for an extremely poppy chorus.  It's the weaker of the two songs, but this is a band I will absolutely be keeping tabs on.  The flashes of brilliance they have are extremely bright.  All in all this is a pretty great 7".  Two bands making the kind of punk rock I want to listen to.

The No Marks / Spoilers - Split 7":

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Self - Gizmodgery LP - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

El Camino (2015, Reissue)

There are a lot of vinyl reissues going on these days.  Many of them instances where a CD only album is being put to vinyl for the first time.  Some of these are kind of ridiculous and while I guess there's a demand, I can't help but feel they're just clogging up pressing plants for the most part.  On the flip side, there are so many albums out there that I am just begging to be put out on vinyl.  Shipwrecked by The Sultans and Onehundredpercentfreak by Alligator Gun immediately jump to mind.  Self's Gizmodgery is kind of in the middle of these two extremes.  As far as reissues go, I'm not sure it was essential that it get released, but I do like this record and am happy to have it on vinyl.

I don't know if I would go so far as to call Gizmodgery a guilty pleasure.  I don't think there's anything embarrassing about liking this record.  I don't think cool points are subtracted for owning it.  But, it's definitely something of a gimmick.  All of the songs on Gizmodgery were recorded using toy instruments only.  It give the album a very unique feel and it's a pretty remarkable set of songs that were able to be crafted with such an odd set of resources.

Luckily, the songs underneath the gimmick are also pretty strong.  There's a certain poppy Beck like quality to everything and a little genre hopping.  From the bouncy power-pop chorus of "Dead Man" to the Casio-fueled, stupid-lyrics-containing "Trunk Fulla Amps" to the surprisingly fun and faithful cover of "What A Fool Believes" there's no shortage of interesting sounds throughout.  Is this the kind of record that you can listen to all the time, a staple in the rotation?  Probably not, but it's certainly fun to pop on every so often and just indulge in a little sugary pop.

Self - "Dead Man":

Self - "What A Fool Believes":

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Les Chaussettes - Triple Water 7" - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Punk Fox (2016)

I had reviewed the first Les Chaussettes 7" when Punk Fox had sent it to me for review.  I said some less than flattering things about it, but then again I less than enjoyed it.  You could say I felt some trepidation about firing up this latest 7" of theirs, but it turns out their new one is significantly better than the last.

On this 7", Les Chaussettes is definitely moving more in the direction of jangly guitar bands like Baby Shakes.  I realize that Baby Shakes are becoming a somewhat common reference point that I use for female fronted guitar bands, but since they are undoubtedly my favorite of those kinds of groups it should be taken as a flattering comparison.

The songs are more upbeat than on the prior Lew Chaussettes single.  I still think the vocals are the weakest part of the band.  While they're a massive step up from the dead inside monotone of their last record, I still never get the feeling that they are really all that excited about singing these songs.  I just wish they had a bit more oomph.  Still, I particularly like the little Pizzicato Five-esque chanting part thrown into "Russian Boy."  As a whole it's such a big improvement from their last 7" that I'm curious to see where they go next. 

Les Chaussettes - Triple Water 7":

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Leatherface - Discography Part Two LP

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Rejected (1998)

Even after all of these years, I have a few holes in the collections of some of my very favorite bands.  At this point it's mostly just some variants, but of course the ultimate goal is to catch them all.  I've been keeping an eye out for the Rejected records version of the Discography Part Two LP for quite a while.  It was never really a priority though, as I already have the Deranged records version that comes with a bonus 7", plus I had the CD version of the Rejected release.

What I was really waiting for was a good price.  I wanted this in the collection, but it wasn't until one popped up on Discogs for $15 that I finally picked it up.  Happy to have it on the shelf, though I probably won't actually end up listening to it too much as in some cases these are the third or fourth times I've bought most of these songs.

Oh, but what songs they are.  Leatherface put out a good amount of singles over their career.  Despite the fact that nothing that Leatherface released on Fire records was able to be included, there's still quite a few hits.  The absolute highlight for me os one of my very favorite Leatherface songs, "Dreaming." This sucker is worth the purchase all on its own.  Throw in the live staple cover of Wat Tyler's "Hops and Barley" and their blistering take on Abba's "Eagle" and baby, you've got a stew going.

This certainly would feel more complete if the songs from the 1992 Compact and Bijou EP could have been included, but considering the limitations Discography Part Two is a pretty good little compilation.  I do still think it's weird that Discography Part One never came out on vinyl, though that one only contained live recordings.

Leatherface - "Dreaming":

Leatherface "Eagle":

Monday, March 21, 2016

Superchunk - Come Pick Me Up LP

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Merge (2015, Reissue)

Superchunk is one of my favorite bands in the world.  They've got some records that I could listen to over and over again.  They've graced this website multiple times, especially as I was finishing out my collection of their 7"s a few years back.  There is a section of the band's catalog where I don't have all of the Superchunk full lengths on vinyl.  This was during a stretch of time where it was more cost and space effective to grab new albums on CD rather than on vinyl.  Come Pick Me Up received the vinyl reissue treatment last year, so I figured it was time to add it to the collection.  

As much as I love everything Superchunk released up until Here's Where The Strings come in and their two most recent albums they put out,  There was a three album run that I was less fond of.  Come Pick Me Up is right in the middle of that run.  When it came out, I was wrapping up my time in college.  I remember thinking the record was just too slow, there wasn't enough punky energy for me at the time.  Going back to it now, I definitely have a greater appreciation for what they tried to accomplish on this record, but in some ways I just can't shake those feelings from 1999.

I like a nice slow song from Superchunk.  I've always felt that they make for a great change of pace on their albums and let you catch your breath.  That being said, when you have an album that is essentially full of slower, sparser songs, I start to miss the fuzz and the energy a bit.  There are some tremendous moments.  I've always loved the songs "Hello Hawk" and "1000 Pounds," But I think I would like them more if they were followed up by some punchier pop songs.

The reissue is pretty simple.  The album has been remastered and put on 180 gram vinyl.  Everything sounds as good as you'd expect.  Let's be honest here.  This is a Superchunk record and all of their records are pretty great.  I just think that some of their other releases stand a bit higher than this one.

Superchunk - "Hellow Hawk":

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Defect Defect - Deefography Cassette

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Snuffy Smiles (2015)

In the never ending quest to own all of the Snuffy Smiles releases, some tapes have been sneaking in over the last couple of years.  I don't know what spurred the label to begin releasing cassettes.  This is a pretty new phenomenon. There aren't really many cassettes released over the label's twenty-plus year history.  I'm also unsure why Snuffy Smiles releases so few CDs these days, but at the end of the day I'm always happy to support my favorite label in the world.

I'll admit that Defect Defect is not really a band I have paid too much attention to over the years.  They've had the occasional song pop up on my radar, most notably through other Snuffy Smiles 7"s, but they've never really grabbed me.  This cassette is supposed to be something of a discography release.  Poking around on Discogs, it does seem like this is almost everything they've released.  There's a few songs here and there that didn't make it on, most notably the ones from the band's recent 7", also on Snuffy Smiles.

The music itself is kind of hit and miss for me.  When the band is playing a bit slower and really lets that Wipers-esque downstroking be in the forefront, they churn out some pretty great songs.  These songs remind me a lot of the better moments of The Estranged.  But when Defect Defect really picks up the tempo and starts yelling, I tend to lose interest.  There's a wide range of songs here, but the ones that I seem to like the most are the cluster that made up the band's only LP.  

I don't know if I like Defect Defect enough to actually go pick up that album on vinyl, but it's certainly an OK listen.  That being said, no matter what music was on this tape, it's an automatic buy for me as I need to keep the Snuffy Smiles collection complete.

Defect Defect - Self Titled LP (About half the songs on this cassette are on this LP):

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Hollow Mountain - Maiden 7"

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Tall Pat (2014)

Sure, I do buy a lot of records.  And yes, I have an awful lot of them floating around, but even I don't think I have so many that it makes sense losing one of them.  That's what happened to this Hollow Mountain 7".  I picked it up in Chicago when I was went out there to see Drive Like Jehu.  Somehow, I brought it home and misplaced it.  I just stumbled across it again and realized that not only had I not written about it on this website, I somehow managed to never even listen to it.  Rest assured, I'm making up for lost time.

Hollow Mountain is another fine example of The Tall Pat Sound.  This is a band that understands the value of a sharp, biting guitar tone and that tone is used masterfully over the course of this 7".  The band just can't help but sounding like they mean business.  Their sound is tough, but tempered by the subtle catchiness and the disarming vocals of Esther Kim.  Something of a contrast for sure, but it really sets Hollow Mountain apart from the rest of the rabble.

Tall Pat is at the center of some pretty great things happening in Chicago.  Hollow Mountain is no exception.  Sure, I was a bit late to the party with this one, but it's never a bad time to catch up on some quality rock and roll.

Hollow Mountain - Maiden 7":

Monday, March 14, 2016

Yawners - So Long 7" - Splatter Vinyl

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Punk Fox (2016)

Up today is another 7" sent to me to be reviewed by Punk Fox records.  This time they've tapped the city of Salamanca and released three songs by Yawners.  As long time readers of this website know, Punk Fox has not been a label that I have enjoyed consistently, however they have a winner on their hands this time with Yawners.

Female fronted, high energy pop songs are what you're going to find on this 7".  This is a band that picks out their three chords, lets the drummer loose and cranks out catchy songs with nice loud, crunchy guitars.  They remind me a bit of Baby Shakes, but with less harmonies and a meaner sounding guitar tone.

Although Yawners are not reinventing the wheel, these are three pretty fun songs.  Worth checking out if you wish Cub used a bit more distortion on their songs.

Yawners - So Long 7" (This is actually a stream to a full album of theirs, but the first three songs are the three songs on this 7"):

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Doctor Bison - Dewhursts: The Musical / Bring It On 2xLP - Gray / Yellow Vinyl

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Boss Tuneage (2015, Reissue)

Along with The Jones record that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, this Doctor Bison album is the one that I was most excited to finally be able to purchase on vinyl.  Kudos to the kind folks at Boss Tuneage for giving me something so wonderful to spend my money on.

Dewhursts: The Music came out when I was in college.  Specifically it was out right when I was the music director of my school's radio station.  No one sent a copy of this in to us, this was a record I liked so much that I brought a in a copy for the station myself.  Let me tell you how many completely different kinds of DJs coalesced around this record.   Everyone loved it.  In particular, the banjo fueled, ever so slightly country tinged "Fractured Jaw" was probably played every few hours for a while there.  

The way that the incomparable Dickie Hammond poured his energy into these songs, mixing his dynamic punk rock assault into a band that leaned towards a much more to soulful side of things is something to behold.  I was hooked after the first time I ever heard "Delusion of Grace."  Please, take that Pepsi challenge.  If you like the records I typically review here, I think there's a good chance you'll be a fan as well.

As a bonus, the 2nd LP contains the Bring It On EP that the band had released many years later along with some extra unreleased songs.  I'll admit that I never had the Bring It On EP for whatever reason.  Honestly, it came out and I didn't find out about it for a couple of years after.  Then it just sort of slipped off my radar for whatever reason.  Rest assured, these are also phenomenal songs.  Maybe they're not quite at the level of perfection that Dewhursts reaches, but keep in mind that I have an extra 17 years or so of listening to those Dewhursts songs.  So it's tough to compare them fairly.

Regardless, this is an amazing reissue, one that I'm just thrilled to be able to add to the collection.  And one more CD I could theoretically move into storage.  If I was theoretically moving any CDs into storage.  Which I'm not.  I probably should though, I'm running out of room.

Doctor Bison - "Delusion of Grace":

Doctor Bison - "Fractured Jaw":

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chestnut Road - LPII - Orange Vinyl (/428)

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PopKid / Brassneck / Snuffy Smiles (2016)

So, you can probably file this one under conflict of interest or paid advertisement.  The fact that I do a record label with my buddy Alan hasn't really bled into my dumb little website here too often, primarily because it's been twelve years since we've put out a new record.  That drought has finally come to an end as PopKid is one of the lucky labels that gets to release the newest album from Chestnut Road.

If you're a long time reader, there's a better than average chance you probably know Chestnut Road already.  I've reviewed every one of their records here.  I'm not reviewing their new LP because PopKid is releasing it, PopKid is releasing their new LP because I love to review their records.  Without question, Chestnut Road is one of my favorite current bands.  You can find example after example of me gushing over how great they are.  Their latest full length is no exception.

Chestnut Road's LPII embraces the past work of the band while continuing to develop their songwriting skills.  In many ways it reminds me of the growth that Broccoli showed on their 2nd album, Home.  Each track on LPII packs a huge blast of the catchiness and intensity that I love of Chestnut Road, but there are moments where the sounds expand and the band really puts it all out there.  From the full throttle, hook filled "Handshake" to the dynamic guitar work of "Bittersweet" to the blistering chorus shouting "die alone!" on "Lost In The Snow," this is Chestnut Road really standing up and proclaiming themselves as being every bit as good as their influences.

Leatherface, Broccoli, Hooton 3 Car, Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four, Hot Water Music and the list goes on and on of bands that have been playing raspy vocaled, intricate punk rock that is catchy and intense all at the same time.  You can add Chestnut Road to this list.  They've earned it.  I would be writing this exact same review regardless of who put out this record.  It's simply amazing and the fact that PopKid is able to be a part of it is wonderful and humbling.  The fact that we're able to co-release with Brassneck Records and Snuffy Smiles also blows my mind as I have infinite amounts of respect for both labels.  I hope everyone else out there loves it as much as I do.

You can pick up the record a few ways.

In North America, you can buy the full length vinyl LP from PopKid records at:
http://popkidrecords.bigcartel.com/product/chestnut-road-lpii-orange-vinyl

If you're not into records and just want MP3s, the PopKid Bandcamp page can assist:
https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/chestnut-road-lp-ii

If you are in Europe, Brassneck Records will be your destination.
Lastly, if you are in Japan, you can grab a copy from Snuffy Smiles.

Chestnut Road - LPII:
https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/chestnut-road-lp-ii

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cancers - Missed 7" - White Vinyl

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Debt Offensive (2015)

Every so often I come across a record that I'm kind of at a loss for words over.  Cancers may fit the bill as one of these records.  I'll do my best to describe it, but I feel that any words I put to page here are not going to truly encapsulate what Cancers is doing on this record.

I can't say I've ever listened to this band before, so when the label's website describes this as a departure from the band's earlier work, I can't really chime in with anything.  What the band is doing is recording everything on this 7" with the sort of production that makes it sound like it's being broadcast live from an underwater cave.  There's mountains of static and fuzz on everything. Vocals, guitars, drum machine loops; they're all buried in a distortion avalanche.

With a few notable exceptions, that sort of production isn't really my thing.  While I do tend to favor bands with a grittier recorded sound, there comes a point where there's so much ambient crust I think the songs start to get lost a bit.  For me, that's what's going on here.  There's a couple of pretty decent indie pop songs hidden in here somewhere.  I'm just having a hard time digging them out.

Cancers - Missed 7":

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Brother Kite - Model Rocket

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Clairecords / Light Fighter (2013)

Back during that hectic year of 2006, my buddy Jason in Baltimore had hipped me to an album called Waiting For The Time To Be Right by The Brother Kite.  It was a very enjoyable record, but for one reason or another, I never really kept up with the band.  2006 was a low point for me musically.  The toll of a lengthy stay in the music industry was starting to affect me.  I didn't really want to go to shows anymore and frankly I was getting burned out on music in general.

After I left "the biz" I was able to enjoy music as a hobby again and as you can see from the results of this website, my love for buying records has never been stronger.  Somewhere along the way, The Brother Kite continued to release records that I wasn't aware of.  When I was picking up the Unlikely Friends CD, I noticed this album hanging around in the label's distro.  What do you know, The Brother Kite was still around.  Sure,Model Rocket came out a few years ago at this point, but it's brand new and wonderful to me.

I will go so far to say that it is even better than Waiting For The Time To Be Right.  The band's light and upbeat vocal melodies soar over a bed of crunchy guitars and big, big hooks.  Maybe a sunnier Superdrag? Perhaps a punkier Fountains Of Wayne? A faster Pernice Brothers? Regardless of how you want to compare them, this is a great guitar pop record and frankly, I'm almost a little bummed that it took me this long to realize it was out.  I assure you, this one will be making up for lost time on my turntable.

The Brother Kite - Model Rocket:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sebadoh - Bakesale LP

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Sub Pop (2011, Reissue)

This is an attempt of going back to the 90's to give another chance to a record I didn't really pay attention to at the time.  I'm not really sure why I never listened to Bakesale when it was out.  Bakesale was the current Sebadoh record available when my friend Joe and I stumbled across them in high school.  For some reason I was first drawn to their wackier, lo fi releases.  I had the Freed Weed CD and several Sentridoh albums as well (I was also going through a tape label phase at this time).

By the time I was in collage and '96 rolled around, I picked up their record of that year Harmacy.  Bakesale was a record I skipped and I have no real valid reason aside from possibly lack of funds.  But that's not really a great excuse as I sure managed to buy a lot of other records during that timeframe.  Back to the task at hand, Bakesale is pretty damn great.  This is a revelation that is probably not much of a surprise to a lot of folks, but it's likely the Sebadoh record I like best now.  That is extremely noteworthy as it is a rarity for my favorite record by a band to not be the one that I heard first.  To go back 20 years later and have this replace The Feed Weed as my favorite is definitely an anomaly.

I think it has a lot to do with how well this album is constructed and how strong the pop hooks are.  Sure, they're not really blatant, in your face singalongs or anything, but this record has a real knack for drawing me in with its droopy catchiness.  It's a reminder that there's still a lot of music out there to check out.  Even a record as obvious as Bakesale eluded me for a while.  Who knows what else is out there waiting to blow my mind?

The reissue LP comes with a download code that has a bunch of extra stuff.  Some interesting, some not so much.  The CD reissue is the one that got the real deluxe treatment, so that might be worth grabbing for some.  For me, I'm just happy to own the regular album on vinyl.

Sebadoh - "License To Confuse":

Sebadoh - "Not A Friend::

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why+The+Wires - Flame Failures LP - Clear Vinyl

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One Percent Press / Jetsam-Flotsam (2015)

There's a few things about this album that I really like.  I'll always be partial to gruff vocals like this.  They have a sort of lived in quality that reminds me a bit of Eric Bachmann from Archers of Loaf.  Those gruff vocals are really the only similarity to Archers on this record.  I also really enjoy the saxophone.  It's used very much in a Circa: Now sort of foghorn blast.  But again, for me, the Rocket From The Crypt comparisons end there.

More than anything, this reminds me of the sort of somber, midwest rock that was prevalent the late 90's and early 2000's.  I immediately start thinking of bands like Sweep The Leg Johnny or Karate or Dianogah.  Basically, I could really see this as the sort of thing Southern records would have put out.  It's a mixed bag for me because although I never had anything against those bands and thought they were all fine, I never bought any of their records.

There's just a bass fueled darkness that surrounds records like this.  While I can appreciate the craft and respect the musicianship, it's never been the sort of thing I wanted to spend much time listening to.  So, if that's the sort of thing you can get behind, absolutely give Why+The-Wires a chance.  But if you're looking for something upbeat and hooky, this probably isn't going to scratch that itch.

Why+The+Wires - Flame Failures:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Fur Coats - Short-Brain 7" - Green Vinyl (/300)

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Drunken Sailor / Rad Girlfriend (2015)

Drunken Sailor threw in this Fur Coats 7" with the most recent order I had placed with them.  I encourage more labels to do this.  If you don't send me records to review because I already buy a lot from your label, cool.  I'm happy to give my money to support your stuff.  But if you wanted to toss in things that I'm not already buying, even cooler.  I'll certainly get around to reviewing it at some point.

Anyway, from what I've read The Fur Coats are fronted by one of the dudes that runs Johann's Face records. Marc Ruvolo.  It is also said that this fellow is a big fan of bands like Naked Raygun and The Smoking Popes.  I can definitely see that.  There's a simplistic charm to these three chord (at times only two chord) poppy punk songs.  The guitar has that unmistakeable 1990's Chicago buzzsaw sound and the hooks are built up pretty nicely.

Vocally, things sound a little odd to me at times. Ruvolo sounds like a cross between the singers from Fear Of Lipstick, Toys That Kill and the guy who sung that old novelty song "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun."  While I wouldn't say the vocals are bad or even detract from the songs, they'll definitely be an acquired taste for some as it took me a few listens before I everything clicked for me.  All in all it's a solid little 7".

The Fur Coats - Short Brain 7"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Marvelous Mark - Crushin' LP - Yellow Vinyl (/100)

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Drunken Sailor (2016)

We're pretty deep into February at this point and you may have noticed that there has been a severe lack of new releases featured on this website.  I'm not sure if the year is off to a slow start in general, or if I'm just being extra picky this year.  It's probably a combination of the two, but I can say without hesitation that this Marvelous Mark record is the first really great album that I've heard this year.

Marvelous Mark used to play in one of my favorite bands, Marvelous Darlings.  Though they are sadly missed I can take solace in the fact that Mark has churned out a pretty great little record on his own.  While Marvelous Mark is missing some of the balls to the wall energy and the swagger of Marvelous Darlings, he appears to have won custody of all of the hooks.  

Each song on this record is a perfect little guitar pop masterpiece.  Though everything is pretty mid tempo, the album has a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon vibe to them.  If I had a porch and a lawn chair, all I would need is a glass of lemonade and this record and you could color me a happy dude.

This record reminds me a bit of some of that 90's major label rock that I like so much; the slower moments of Fig Dish or maybe even Pluto with a fuzzier sound and a smaller recording budget.  No matter the reference you want to throw at Crushin', it can simply be said that this is a very good record and one that I've been listening to pretty nonstop since I picked it up.

Marvelous Mark - Crushin' LP:



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A House Safe For Tigers - S/T LP

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Headless Actor (2015)

I am really leery of bands that are described as, or describe themselves as chamber pop.  The first time I heard that phrase used was to describe the band Matt Pond PA.  And let me tell you, I really hate Matt Pond PA.  Talk about a band with nothing to say.  Anyway, the point is that whenever I see that to describe a band, I just automatically assume I won't like it.  After getting this record in the mail to review, I trotted over to the A House For Tigers Bandcamp page and looked at the tags, sure enough: fucking chamber pop.

I guess chamber pop is an accurate description.  This isn't the most exciting band in the world.  The songs are slow, somewhat boring and have a lot of whimsical instrumentation in the background.  You know, things like keyboards, xylophones and all the rest of the sort of atmospheric nonsense bands use when they're trying to add depth to songs that are lacking it.

This isn't awful.  In no way does it create the sort of rage I feel towards Matt Pond PA.  That being said, this just isn't the sort of thing I would listen to.  It's just too sleepy and lacking oomph for me.  The thing I want out of bands more than anything else is that I want to feel their passion and their enthusiasm coming from their songs.  When I listen to this record, I just feel tired.

A House Safe For Tigers - S/T LP:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Empty Heads - Deceiver 7"

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Debt Offensive (2015)

Debt Offensive sent me a few records to review along with a note that said "Not sure any/all will be up your alley."  I can definitely appreciate that my taste in music can be a little weird.  I'll like some bands that folks would automatically think I'd hate, but then I won't like others that seem like they should be my cup of tea.  I can absolutely understand why this note was included with the first of the records I'm listening to, this Empty Heads 7".

This is a loud, somewhat abrasive band.  The vocals are buried under a mountain of fuzz and the guitars are muddy and thick.  These are descriptors I would typically use as I would launch into an unfavorable review, but for whatever reason I really dig this 7".  I think it all comes down to the fact that even though the band is loud, even though they are real distortion mongers, even though I really can't understand a word they are singing about, they never abandon the hook of the song.

Each of the 7"s four songs are deceptively catchy.  The band isn't just making noise for the sake of it.  Hidden in each mess of a track is a wonderful little pop song just begging to rip out from the chaos.  It's a surprisingly fun listen and I'm not positive I would have really given these guys a chance had the record not been sent to me.  This is worth checking out, as long as you can handle a little noisy insanity.

Empty Heads - Deceiver 7":

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Boat - Setting The Paces LP - Orange Vinyl

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Magic Marker (2009)

Since discovering Boat through their tremendous album Dress Like Your Idols, I've been gradually working my way through their back catalog.  This was gradual on purpose.  There have been times where I was so enamored by a band that I went out and bought a bunch of their earlier records all at once.  The result tended to be that I would end up so overwhelmed by sheer amount of music, nothing would really stick.  Don't believe me? Come over and I'll show you the seven Screamfeeder CDs that I haven't listed to since 1998.

Setting The Paces is the third Boat album that was released and it is now the fourth one of theirs that I've checked out.  It's kind of a cop out to say this, but really, if you've heard and enjoyed any of their prior records, it's a pretty safe bet you'll dig this one as well.  Most Boat songs just reek of 1990's indie rock in the absolute best possible way.  There's copious amounts of high pitched guitar interplay and shifting rhythms. The vocals have a Doug Martchs meets Stephen Malkmus vibe and the lyrics are quirky, but still manage to suck you into the story.

It looks like there's only one more Boat record that I don't have and that is 2007's Let's Drag Our Feet.  Seems to be CD only at the moment, but I'm hopeful someone will kick up a vinyl reissue.  Otherwise, I'm going to give Setting The Paces some more time to sink in and then I'll spring for that CD.  Of course the best case scenario is a new batch of Boat songs.  The band has been quiet for a bit.  Hopefully they'll start making some noise again real soon.

Boat "Lately":


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Unlikely Friends - Solid Gold Cowboys CD

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Jigsaw (2015)

While I don't have nearly the ill will towards CDs that I have towards cassettes, I still don't really like buying them anymore.  It just doesn't really feel like I own the record the way I do when I pick up something on vinyl.  That being said I have so many CDs, many of which never came out on vinyl, so it's not like Unlikely Friends are going to be lonely on the shelf they end up on.

This is the only record that ended up on my Absolute Best Records Of 2016 list that I hadn't reviewed prior to sharing the list.  They reason?  Because it only came out on CD.  I kept putting off buying the record in the hopes that eventually someone would press it on vinyl.  It was available as MP3s.  Then as a cassette.  Then as a CD.  I figured that vinyl should surely be just around the corner, but it never happened.  Maybe it will someday.  If it does, I will buy immediately because I love the record.

Featuring members of another favorite band of mine, Boat, Unlikely Friends are plugging away with a similar stain of catchy and quirky indie rock.  Kind of like Pavement, Archers of Loaf and Built To Spill all mixed up into an upbeat guitar pop.  The lyrics are somewhat irreverent, the vocal melodies soar and musically the band branches out and takes chances, but they never sacrifice the hook while trying to do something weird.

Essentially this is just one of the best indie rock records of the 1990s that came out in 2015 by mistake.  I hope this doesn't signal the end of Boat, because I would hate to see those guys stop putting out records, but I'm happy to get some more Unlikely Friends records as well.  Though they really should do vinyl next time.

Unlikely Friends - Solid Gold Cowboys:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Nervous Twitch - I'm Sorry That I Made You Cry 7" - Tri Color Vinyl

Untitled

Punk Fox (2016)

Punk Fox graces the pages of this website once again with the second Nervous Twitch 7" they've released.  You may or may not remember that the first Nervous Twitch 7" was the one that finally broke the streak of me not really liking any of the records Punk Fox had sent me.  For the most part, this new 7" keeps that on track.

The obvious highlight of the record is lead track, "I'm Sorry That I Made You Cry."  It's got an upbeat tempo and those jangly guitars that I love so much.  Very reminiscent of Baby Shakes to my ears; it's just a fun slab of rock and roll.  On the B-side is the mid tempo, surfy instrumental "East Coast Rumble."  As far as surfy instrumentals go, it's no better or worse than any other I've ever heard.  If nothing else, it sort of acts as a palate cleanser between the other two songs.

Unfortunately, the 7" kind of ends on a downer as "A Little Self Discipline" is the least enjoyable of the three songs and of anything I've heard by Nervous Twitch.  It's intentionally slow and deliberate, but I just get the feeling that I'm being scolded while listening to this.  The vocals are very direct and not particularly melodic.  Honestly, it kind of sounds like a different band than the one on the prior two songs.  I like the band of those first two songs much better.  Still, "I'm Sorry That I Made You Cry" is a strong enough song that this is still a 7" worth looking into.

Nervous Twitch - "I'm Sorry That I Made You Cry":