Thursday, March 23, 2017

Weezer / Wavves - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl (/1000)


Ghost Ramp (2016)

I've long documented my love of the split 7", both as a way to discover new bands and as a way to pair like minded folks for a quick little burst of music.  I can't say that my favorite split 7" gimmick is when the two bands cover each other's songs.  Though I don't really mind it when each band contributes one original and then the cover songs.  The Weezer / Wavves split 7" is not like that.

On the Wavves side, you only get a less than two minute long cover of the Weezer song "You Gave Your Love To Me Softly."  Now, as far as Weezer songs go, that's a pretty great one, but Wavves doesn't really do anything to make it their own.  Sure there is a little bit of surfy echo during the "La la la" part of the bridge, but other than that it's a pretty paint by the numbers cover song.  It's good, but just not particularly interesting.

The Weezer contribution is one original song called "Fake Smiles and Nervous Laughter."  Compared to a lot of the band's post-Pinkerton output, it's a pretty solid song.  It's a low key, mid tempo rocker that doesn't really build to anything in particular, but kind of doubles down on the melodies they've worked into the verse.  It would have fit nicely on their more recent album Everything Will be Alright in the End.  It's certainly better than anything I heard on that new White Album of theirs.  Still, I can't really recommend this as an essential pick up.  It's really meant for completists, either Wavves or Weezer collectors.  For casual fans, it's an easy pass.

Weezer - "Fake Smiles and Nervous Laughter":

Wavves - "You Gave Your Love To Me Softly":

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ron Ron Clou - Good Melodies LP


K.O.G.A. (2004)

When I went to Japan, I didn't really put together a proper wants list.  In hindsight, I probably should have.  I wasn't really prepared to be as overwhelmed by so much great, new music as I was.  Even though I had built the trip up in my head for decades, it still over delivered once I was there.  That being said, the one thing that I knew I wanted to pick up were the Ron Ron Clou full lengths.  I wasn't able to find their first two, but Kazu from Waterslide pulled Good Melodies out of an LP bin at Record Shop Base for me.  

I actually didn't even know this Ron Ron Clou record existed.  It came out in 2004 and is an album of nothing but cover songs.  As a whole, they're actually pretty fun.  Sure some of the super obvious ones like "Mr. Roboto" and "Like a Virgin" are pretty cheesy, but I will say that Ron Ron Clou does a pretty great version of Ash's "Kung Fu." (Sadly, I can't find this on YouTube or anywhere else online)

This certainly doesn't take the place of the two actual Ron Ron Clou full lengths, but it's a nice addition to the collection and I was very excited to have at least found one of their albums while in Japan.  Last week I actually found a US seller on Discogs that had the other two Ron Ron Clou records for sale at a pretty good price.  I bought them and they're actually in the mail heading my way now, so expect those reviews in the upcoming weeks.  

Ron Ron Clou - "Sports & Wine":

Ron Ron Clou - "Teenage Kicks":

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Plum - Secret Night Charm CD


Spring Leaf (2014)

One of the best nights I've ever had in my life was at the Waterslide/PopKid show at a club called What's Up in Uguisudani.  I met many wonderful people and saw four very excellent bands play.  One of the bands was called 2 Sick Worry.  They were quite great, but they don't have any records out yet.  However the singer from 2 Sick Worry gave me this Plum CD as it was the band he had been in previously.  No surprise, this is great too.

Immediately I'm drawn to make comparisons to Navel because of the excellent, high pitch vocals.  Nice and melodic, in the liner notes they are listed as 'chirps' and I can see where that would come in as a description.  Musically, they stray away from Navel's more traditional pop punk sound and have more in common with bands like The Scaries or Delay.  Jangly, treble heavy guitars belting out big hooks.

When I was in Tokyo I really felt like I was interacting with the music scene that I should have been in all along.  Even though I've been listening to a lot of Japanese bands over the past twenty years or so, there was another new one every time I turned around.  I didn't see Plum play and I didn't see this record at any of the record stores I went to, but out of the kindness of someone's heart it was given to me, just because it was thought that I might like it.  That's the kind of scene I want to be part of.  Secret Night Charm is a killer record and I can't wait to hear from 2 Sick Worry.  As good as Plum were, 2 Sick Worry was even better when I saw them play.

Plum - Secret Night Charm (only three of the CDs thirteen songs are up on Bandcamp):

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Odd Numbers - So Many Girls 7" - Green Vinyl


Eight One Nine (1993)

My buddy Alan has been downsizing his record collection over the past ten years or so.  During his most recent cull, I went through his records to make sure there wasn't anything I needed.  Well, naturally there was, after all, I always need more records.  The things I was most excited to pull were Treepeople, Jolt and Odd Numbers 7"s.

This Odd Numbers 7" is actually the one I've been wanting to add to the collection the most.  "So Many Girls" has long been my favorite Odd Numbers song, ever since I heard it so many years ago on their Jazz Cigarettes album.  It's bouncy guitar chord progressions (knowingly similar to "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love") combined with the catchy mod influenced vocal melody has stood the test of time for me.  I love it just as much today as I did the first time I heard it. 

The other three songs may not be as good as "So Many Girls," but really how could they be?  Still, the two of the three are pretty fantastic.  "Autumn Leaves" with its punchy lead guitar riff is also a long time favorite of mine.  "Do You Know What Love Is" is a definite earworm with its downstroke heavy chorus and simple, but memorable vocals.  The only song on here that I don't totally love is the closer "Long Live Love."  Not that there's anything inherently bad about it, but with its jaunty somewhat island vibe to it, I don't think it's as strong as the other three.  

Regardless, it's a hell of a little 7" and one I'm thrilled to have in the collection finally.  I grabbed two other Odd Numbers 7"s from Alan and also bought a few on Discogs to round out the collection, so you have not seen the last of these guys.

The Odd Numbers - "So Many Girls":

The Odd Numbers - "Autumn Leaves":

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Not Wonk - Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower LP


KiliKiliVilla (2015)

This is one of a handful of LPs that I bought in Japan.  While I always want to buy vinyl, the fact of the matter is that most of the Japanese albums that I wanted to pick up were only released on CD.  Hey, it beats cassettes, but it still is most rewarding to be able to find something on vinyl.  

I picked up Not Wonk based on a description in the Waterslide records distro.  In it, Not Wonk is compared to Senseless Things and Mega City Four.  These are very apt comparisons and after spending some time with this record myself, I echo those feelings.  The way that the vocals melodies build around the light guitar work in the verse of "Chill Out," only to come bashing through full force in the chorus is very reminiscent of the early 90's UK sound.  Throughout the album Not Wonk shows the same sort of mastery of their sound, always knowing when things need to be a bit quieter, but also knowing when it's time to get things loud and fuzzy.

In particular, the vocals on this album are very strong.  They mesh so well with this type of music and really make Not Wonk stand out.  I dug this record so much, I ended up mailordering the band's follow up (also on wax, thankfully), so I'll be reviewing that one in a few weeks as well.  If it's half as good as Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower, it'll be a hell of a record.

Not Wonk - "Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower":

Not Wonk - "Little Magic":

Not Wonk - "Chill Out" (This is a live version, but it's all I could find. Great song.):

Monday, March 13, 2017

V/A - Ultimate Slow Beats CD


Snuffy Smile (1996)

I'm very lucky that I've been able to gather a complete Snuffy Smile 7" collection over my years of buying records.  I've said it many times, but they have essentially been my favorite record label in the world for close to 20 years now.  When I went to Japan, one of my goals was to try to fill some holes in my Snuffy Smile CD collection.  I didn't find many of the missing albums, but I did find a couple. One of which is this fine compilation.

I've actually had a different version of this comp for quite a long time.  It was released in America on Broken Rekids under the name Peace And Love.  That never deterred me from seeking out the original version.  Ultimate Slow Beats has some of my very favorite bands from the first wave of Japanese punk rock that I started listening to.

You've got some of the more well known bands like Blew, Lovemen and Navel, all of which are among the best of the best bands you'll ever listen to.  However, there are also some songs from equally great, but not quite as well known bands like Snatcher, International Jet Set and Just One Day (pre-The Urchin).  Let's not forget about Cigaretteman, one of my all time favorites who dish up arguably my favorite song of theirs, "Sister."

These bands are just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many interesting sounds to hear across this compilation.  While this Snuffy Smile version is a bit tougher to track down, if you're not as nutty about things as I am, you can hunt down the US version much easier.  In fact, there's one on Discogs right now for five bucks.  Probably the best five dollars you'll spend today.

Cigaretteman - "Sister":

Navel - "Chaos Mind":

International Jetset - "Today":

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Notches - Change My Mind 7" - Gray Vinyl (/50)


Dead Broke / Cat Dead Details Later (2017)

I've reviewed a couple of other Notches records previously.  Since I dug those, it was a no brainer to pick up the new 7" when Dead Broke announced it was coming out.  I've always enjoyed the band, but even I wasn't prepared for how great this 7" is.  

Notches have always hung their hat on the sort of 90's sounding melodic punk rock that I enjoy so much.  On Change My Mind, they've really emphasized the melodic part of the equation.  The songs are all so catchy with gigantic choruses.  Think of Rumspringer meets Fig Dish (maybe?) or any of your favorite East Bay rockers mixed with one of those 90's used bin champions like Super Deluxe or Treble Charger.

No matter how you want to make your comparison, what is undeniable is how great the songs are on this 7".  Notches are a band truly coming into their own and now I'm eagerly awaiting their next set of songs.

Notches - Change My Mind 7":

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

V/A - The Pro-Wrestling LP


Invitation (1983)

This album here was a total surprise.  It was given to me as a gift at the Waterslide/PopKid show at What's Up in Uguisudani.  Everyone that night was so amazing, but this LP turned out to be one of the coolest and wackiest things I got while in Japan.

What's on this record you ask?  Why it's an album filled with pro wrestling entrance music from Japan.  You have a mix of Japanese stars like Antonio Inoki, Riki Choshu and Jumbo Tsuruta as well as some of the top foreign stars of the era such as Hulk Hogan, Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody.  The songs are all so much fun and so cheesy in their own perfect way.  "Sunrise," the Stan Hansen theme starts off with a country flair as you'd expect, but then takes a sharp and dramatic turn into disco.  It's hard to imagine Hulk Hogan not coming out to "Real American," but "Theme from Galactica" is an interesting, spage-age substitute.

However, the best of the best belongs to Bruiser Brody.  The version of "Immigrant Song" he comes out to, with all vocals replaced by a particularly gnarly horn section is simply one of the craziest things you'll hear.  Go on, click the YouTube link below.  You'll thank me.

Bruiser Brody Theme:

Stan Hansen Theme:

Hulk Hogan Theme: 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sleep Like A Log - Shadows/Lights CD


Fixing A Hole (2012)

Coming across this Sleep Like A Log CD in Japan was another one of those great finds that I didn't even realize I was looking for.  I had a split 7" of theirs with another of my favorite bands, Rumspringer, but I was unaware that they had released a full album in Japan.  Shadows/Lights builds on the promise of that first 7" and really delivers a killer album.

Sleep Like A Log is in some ways the quintessential Japanese melodic punk rock band.  They sound like they would just fit right in on a Snuffy Smiles 7".  They remind me a lot of Snatcher, an older Snuffy Smile band that put out a really amazing record fifteen some odd years ago. I also hear similarities with bands like Minority Blues Band and even Lovemen to a lesser extent.

Musically they can crank out a fast and loud song with the sort of big chunky riffs that I go crazy for and then segue into a much slower, more melodic song that somehow doesn't lose any energy.  The vocals are raspy, just how I like them and top to bottom it's just a great record.  I picked up a lot of records while in Japan, but this has been one of my favorites so far.  I'm not able to find any of their songs online, but rest assured, this is good stuff.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Record Store Visit: Record Shop Base - Tokyo, Japan - 12/29/16


Sadly, this is the last of the Tokyo record stores that I visited on my trip to Japan.  No matter how much I write about each one, it's impossible to accurately describe how great these stores were and how much it meant to me to finally go record shopping in Japan.  It was something that I had been wanting to do as long as I can remember.  Again, I must thank Kazu from Waterslide records.  Not only did he take me around to all of these stores, he also dug with me and helped me find quite a few things I was looking for.  It would have been easy to get overwhelmed if it wasn't for his assistance.  Cheers friend!

Record Shop Base was a killer store.   It just felt right.  Kind of small, packed to the rafters with tons
of records and a pretty heavy emphasis on the punk rock side of the spectrum.  Though they stocked more than just punk rock.  They had a solid used section and in particular some great 7"s to dig through.  The thing that stood out most to me here was that this was the store that I finally was able to find a Ron Ron Clou record at.  Sure, it was their covers album, but I was so thrilled to finally find one of their albums after coming up empty at the rest of the stores.

In addition to Ron Ron Clou, I also picked up a bunch of 7"s and some CDs as well.  That's the one thing that I really took away from record shopping in Japan: CDs.  I bought more CDs on this one day than I had probably bought in the previous 5 years.  It's just different there, CDs never went away and I would say that most of the Japanese punk rock I was looking for just never was released on LP.  Still at least it wasn't a bunch of cassettes!

I had such an amazing time in Tokyo, from start to finish it was simply the trip of a lifetime.  Every day we did something amazing, but that day we did nothing but record shopping will always stand out.  Everyone should get the chance to do that.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Capitalist Kids / Hospital Job - Split 7" - Beige Vinyl


Rad Girlfriend / It's Alive (2016)

This record is quite the throwback.  It's like the glory days of the 90's when two pop punk heavyweights would share a split 7" bringing joy to the world.  It was also a good way to discover new bands back then.  Maybe you didn't know Goober Patrol until you picked up that split with Mr. T Experience.  Perhaps you'd never heard Lovemen until you bought that split 7" with Hooton 3 Car.  The split 7" can be a gateway to many wonderful new things.

On this one we have two bands I've been following since the get go.  First up is Hospital Job.   They've always been walking a fine line between Fig Dish and Blink 182.  There are times that they threaten to bleed over to a side of punk rock that's a little cheesy, but they always manage to keep the hooks full and their melodies tight.  The two new songs on this split are their tried and true formula of mid tempo, catchy rockers.  Two more songs worthy of their catalog.

Capitalist Kids are more of the throwback to the sort of Mr. T Experience style of mid 90's punk rock.  The songs are straightforward with killer choruses.  They're also usually know for intertwining some politics into their songs, but the ones on this split don't address that topic so much.  Still, how can you go wrong with a song about how you'll always be second place in your girl's life to Morrissey.  Fun, witty stuff as always from these guys.

Capitalist Kids / Hospital Job - Split 7"

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Midway Still - Go Team No Hope CD


Waterslide / Bitter and Twisted (2016)

While in Japan, I certainly bought a lot of records by Japanese bands, though I did pick up a few things here and there by bands from elsewhere.  One of those was the latest record by Midway Still.  I am so glad I grabbed this as it is easily the best album they've released since reforming a few years ago and you could make the argument that it holds up against any of their hits from the 90's as well.

The album starts off with the terse and tough guitar blast of "Wicked World." It's moments like this that remind you of how uniquely positioned the bans was when they were around originally.  They're not quite as melodic or moody as Senseless Things, they're not quite as catchy as Snuff and they're not as blistering punk rock as Leatherface.  However, Midway Still kind of straddles a midway point (ahem) between all of these great bands.  They take pieces from each and create their own sound that really is the exact kind of punk rock I want to listen to.

Just take a listen to the one-two punch of "Hey Summer" and "What's The Price."  Talk about back to back hits, these two songs are among the best Midway Still has ever released with hooks and catchy choruses that just beg to be shouted along to.  Go Team No Hope is another fantastic record from Midway Still and it's a great starting point if you've never heard them before.  Then go buy Dial Square.

Midway Still - Go Team No Hope:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound LP - Green Vinyl


Carpark (2017)

I have been eagerly anticipating this new Cloud Nothings record for quite some time.  Their last, 2015's Here and Nowhere Else, completely took me by surprise and ended up my most played album of that year by a pretty significant margin.  It was without hesitation that I preordered Life Without Sound the day it came out.  Though I apparently hesitated long enough to have missed the green vinyl version for sale on its own.  I ended up having to buy a bundle with a T-shirt.  Unfortunately, the T-shirt was white. I hate white band shirts.  Then to add insult to injury, the label restocked the colored vinyl version on its own the next day.  At least the album is great.

Life Without Sound is definitely a change for Cloud Nothings.  As a whole it's a little bit mellower, lacking some of the really passionate shouting moments of Here and Nowhere Else.  But the songwriting and hooks are every bit as strong.  As soon as you hit the second track, "Things Are Right With You" you're drawn in to the vocal melody and the always building guitar riffs.  It's one of the best songs on the album and can hold its own against anything Cloud Nothings have released.

The entirety of the album is just packed with great songs.  There are moments that remind me a bit of Idlewild, but we're talking about a thousand times better than the very best Idlewild song that was ever written.  Still as a touchstone for a comparison, you could do worst.  The thing I'll say most about this album is that for me it was a grower.  It didn't blast me out of my chair like Here and Nowhere Else. Life Without Sound gradually took hold of me with each listen and once it clicked, I was all in.

Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound:

Monday, February 27, 2017

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


As the light started to fade, we hit up the last Disk Union we were to visit on out trip to Tokyo.  This one was located in Shimokitazawa.  It was an interesting neighborhood, though we were told that a lot of the construction going on for the upcoming Tokyo olympics was threatening to change the area a bit.  Still, it was a really cool part of town to walk around in for a while.

This Disk Union was another that had a broad range of musical genres represented.  It was only one
story, but it had a larger footprint than some of the other stores we had went to.  As with most stores in Tokyo, a substantial portion of the store was dedicated to CDs, but there was some solid vinyl representation as well.  They had lots of 7"s (Including stocking of a pretty killer record by this band called Custody), once again broken up by genre for easy digging.

They also had an interesting selection of LPs.  In particular, I was drawn to a section that was 90's rock and alternative.  It was interesting parsing through old Beck 12"s and seeing records by bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden.  Not because I had any interest in buying them, but it was just kind of funny to see those sort of records displayed so prominently.

I don't really remember what specific records I bought here, but I did buy a few.  I bought at least one record in every single record shop we went to (Except from the heavy metal store we went in by mistake).  Our Tokyo record store quest was starting to wrap up, but we had one more store to hit and I'll write about that one next week.

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: