Thursday, August 17, 2017

Votzco - Run Away 7"

Untitled

Debauch Mood (2016)

Even I am surprised that we're in mid August and I still have records that I haven't reviewed from my Japan trip in December.  I actually still have quite a few that I haven't gotten to yet.  I probably would be closer to done if I had reviewed nothing but those records before moving on to other things, but that didn't make sense to me to do.  I can think of worse things than having kick ass Japanese records to write about all year long.

Speaking of kicking ass, Votzco does a quite a bit of that on this two song 7" of theirs. They are drawing from the great tradition of Japanese bands playing super energetic and catchy punk rock.  It's something that I probably mention a bit too much, but they are the kind of band that I think would fit right in with any of your Snuffy Smile records from the mid 90's.  A little more shouting than Blew, but maybe a bit catchier at least on these two songs.

"Run Away" jumps right in with its big guitars blasting over a thundering rhythm section.  Fast tempo and great vocals make this the highlight for me.  That's not to take anything away from the B side "Gills Besson."  It's a little bit slower (but not too much) and takes a slightly more melodic approach, but it still brimming with hooks and dynamic guitar work.  This is a great, great band and I really need to hear more from them.  I don't think they have anything else out just yet, but if I'm wrong and someone has more records by them, please let me know so I can buy them.

Votzco - "Run Away":

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wood Chickens - Skunk Ape 7"

Untitled

Kitschy Manitou (2017)

I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I put on this Wood Chickens 7" that I was sent to review.  The art was kind of 90's looking, which I guess is a plus though it was leaning pretty heavy on the sasquatch theme, which can be dicey.

At the end of the day, I don't really know exactly how I feel about this.  It's OK, but I can't imagine listening to it again.  Wood Chickens roll out a twang filled countrified stomp, mixed in with a little hillbilly punk.  Southern Culture on the Skids and Slim Cessna's Auto Club are decent comparisons, but Wood Chickens aren't quite as good as either of those bands.

The pace is quick and the energy is high, so points for that, but I guess it's a little too gimmicky at the end of the day for me.  It's fun, but it just isn't as good as other bands I've heard that pull this off more successfully.  Perhaps there's potential for these guys in the future, they seem to be on to something but aren't quite there yet.

Wood Chickens - Skunk Ape 7":

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summerman - Live At Kichijoji Warp 16​/​9​/​16​ (​Fri​) Cassette

Untitled

Too Smell (2016)

A few months ago, I wrote about the Summerman album Temperature Is...  In case you missed that review, let me save you some time and tell you to stop reading this review and go try to buy that album.  It is tremendously great.  That being said, the reason I bought that album was because of this cassette.  At the PopKid/Waterslide show at What's Up in Tokyo, several of the members of Summerman were at the show and this tape was given to me there.  So let me start off by saying thank you again for the tape.

Live At Kichijoji Warp is exactly what it says, a live recording of eight Summerman songs. Most of them are from the Temperature Is... album, but they've got a couple of new songs that are exclusive to this tape (mysteriously labels as "New Song 1" and "New Song 2").  I already know and love the album tracks with "Winter Bargain" and "Summer! Summer! Summer!" being real standouts.  The two new songs are also quite excellent.  "New Song 1" is upbeat and jangly with squalls of guitar feedback piercing through the verse and a hugely triumphant chorus.  "New Song 2" is slightly more low key, but its bouncy guitar riffs and another spectacular chorus make it one of my favorites on the tape.

Now, any live show recording is going to have some fidelity issues, this doesn't sound like a studio album or anything.  But, it shows a glimpse of a great pop band plying their wares live.  I worry that I'll never get the chance to see them play live, so this cassette is the next best thing.  The sneak peak at a couple new songs just makes me even more excited to hear more music from these guys.  Hopefully there's a new record coming soon.  I've already heard rumors of a cover song that they're working on that has me quite intrigued.

Summerman - Live At Kichijoji Warp 16​/​9​/​16​ (​Fri​):

Monday, August 14, 2017

Greensleep - Cheap Headphones LP

Untitled

Dead Broke (2017)

Whenever Dead Broke starts alerting the world that they have a new record coming out, I always go and give it a listen.  About 80% of the time, I usually end up buying the record right there and then.  Such was the case with Greensleep, a band that was apparently kicking around in the mid 90's, but who have recently gotten back together to put out their first full length.

The album runts the gamut of incredible 90's indie and punk influences.  They manage to pull everything together to make a sound that's their own, but if you dissect the album song by song, you can start to see the similarities with others.  On "Restrepo" I'm reminded heavily of the Comedy Minus One band Minutes with it's indie rock vibe.  Moving on to "Cheap Headphones," you can pick out Pavement like twinkling guitar in the verse mixed with a blast of Superchunk fuzz in the chorus.

I can't help but hear a little bit of American Steel on "2nd Avenue," particularly in the vocals. Then I listen to "Pillar To Post" and I hear Fig Dish, but on "Like 4 Like" I can't stop thinking of the band Delay.  There are so many sounds to choose from, but they're somehow all great and also amazingly blend into a cohesive album.  It's pretty remarkable when you think about it.  If you like an indie rock leaning band that throws in a little fuzzy and catchy punk rock from time to time, Greensleep would probably be right up your alley.

Greensleep = Cheap Headphones:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Blues Brothers - Gimme Some Lovin' 7" - Clear Blue Vinyl & Black Vinyl

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

Another Blues Brothers 7" from my Jukebox plans that didn't pan out.  But that's only for the black vinyl version in the background.  While I was grabbing these singles for the jukebox, I started noticing just how many Blues Brothers 7"s were out there with picture sleeves.  As I didn't own any of them, I decided to start picking up a few of them.  I just tried to buy another one yesterday, but some guy in Belgium was trying to charge me twenty four Euro to ship one 7".  I don't know, that just seems crazy to me.

I found the picture sleeve, blue vinyl version up on eBay.  It appears to be some sort of promotional version, though the sleeve itself is light with information.  It does pitch that the movie is coming out on June 20th, so I assume this was released prior to that.  

The two songs are two of my very favorite by the Blues Brothers.  Both appear on the soundtrack album and both also were on the Best of the Blues Brothers album.  I wore these songs out as a kid, listening to them over and over.  These songs are strictly studio affairs, no live audience at all.  In the case of "Gimme Some Lovin'" it is also a completely different version that what is played in the movie (though admittedly, they only play the first few seconds of this song in the movie before Bob shuts them down at his country bunker). 

"She Caught The Katy" is definitely one of my top five Blues Brothers songs. I love the slowly building intro and the laid back vibe of the whole song.  The horns are expertly placed and the harmonica solo in the middle is just perfect.  So many memories attached to these.  I'm still on the hunt for more picture sleeves.  As most were released outside of America, the postage is going to make them a bit tough to track down.  I'm going to give it a try though.  In particular, the Japanese picture sleeves look incredible.  I hope I'm able to find some of those.

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin'":

The Blues Brothers - "She Caught the Katy":

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Static Eyes - The Thaw 7"

Untitled

Kitschy Manitou (2017)

I received this Static Eyes 7" in a little pack of records sent to be reviewed by Kitschy Manitou.  I was immediately drawn to the artwork and decided this would be my first spin.  Unfortunately, the art ended up being my favorite part of this 7".

All three songs sound really dated.  Not in a fun retro way and not in a way that makes it seem like the band is carrying a torch for days long gone.  It just sounds old and out of touch.  I'm sure there will always be a segment of people who like the sort of yell-y garage punk that Static Eyes is dishing out.  You know, the fifty year old Maximum Rocknroll subscriber and the others who just can't give up on their leather jacket with 80's hardcore band patches.  

More than anything it's the vocals that just don't do it for me.  I need a little bit of melody, without I can't overlook the thud of the bass and the wild guitar that don't really go anywhere.  Mostly, this just sounds like the sort of sloppy, angry punk that kids write in high school.  I never went to those shows when I was in high school. The bands from my area sounded too much like this.

Static Eyes - The Thaw 7":

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kerbivore - All Dressed CDEP

Untitled

Urban Sleep (2016)

Allow me to describe the complete ass backwards way I discovered this band.  Kerbivore is from Staten Island, NY.  As recently as last month, they played in Asbury Park, NJ - only 45 minutes or so away from where I live.  Did I discover this band while I was out at a local show?  Did word of mouth sperad of a local band that I had to check out?  Nope.  When I was in Japan the singer of the band 2 Sick Worry told me about the record label he was doing in Japan and then he sent me a handful of CDs he released.  Kerbivore was in that stack.  I had to go to Japan to hear about a band that's playing in my own backyard.  Sure seems weird.

Anyway, this Kerbivore CD is pretty great.  I'm reminded a lot of the band Golden City, one of the post-Christie Front Drive bands that was around for five minutes or so.  Mix that knack for pop with a hint of Dinosaur Jr. style fuzzed out guitar pyrotechnics and blend in some of the ramshackle energy of Demolition Theater era New Sweet Breath and I think that's starts to paint a decent picture of what you can expect from Kerbivore.  On of my favorite things is when a band is writing pop songs, but is skillful enough to complicate things a bit, but not lose that inherent hook and catchiness. Kerbivore pulls that off pretty flawlessly.

All five songs are hits, but the closer of the EP, "My Apartment's a Mess," really drives things home and makes me hungry for more.  The fact that these guys were just playing locally a few weeks ago is hopefully a sign that they're working on so new tunes.  I'd sure like to hear a full length from them.  Thanks for the CD Yu!

Kerbivore - All Dressed Up (It was released on cassette in the US as well, this is the US label's Bandcamp page):

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Chinchees - The Chinchees LP

Untitled

Self Released (2017) 

The Chinchees come from Minneapolis and this is their debut album.  To say this one has caught me by surprise would be a massive understatement.  I received this LP right as I was in the very thick of my '2017 is really a down year for new releases' lamentations.  The very second the needle hit the wax on this one, I completely reevaluated that statement.  Sure, 2017 may not quite have the same number of amazing releases as some of the more recent years, but with an album like this floating around, it's pretty hard to say it's been a dissappointing year for new music.

What gets me the most about The Chinchees is how they straddle the line between Marked Men style fuzz pop and Superchunk-like catchiness.  The hooks are more reminiscent of early Superchunk, but that have the sort of speedy intensity that you find in the Marked Men.  I don't care how you want to split the difference, the fact is that The Chinchees have quietly dropped one of the best two or three albums of the year.  And to think, I could have missed it while I was complaining about 2017.

This particular version is the first pressing that the band self released.  Dirt Cult records has stepped in and is handling the repress.  Hopefully that will help spread the word about The Chinchees.  This debut album of theirs is just great and everyone should have the chance to hear it.  Plus, Dirt Cult did a repress on colored vinyl, so I'm debating grabbing one of those at some point even though I already have this copy.  That's how good this record is.

The Chinchees - The Chinchees:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Shoplifters - Believe CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2016)

Give all the credit in the world to Waterslide records.  I don't think I would have ever found this incredible band from Serbia called Shoplifters without them.  I try really hard to stay up to date with new bands, but Waterslide is on a totally different level.  Back to Shoplifters, this is one of those bands that I would best describe as playing exactly the kind of music I want to listen to.

To me, the most noticeable and easiest touchstones to compare them to would be Big Drill Car mixed with Snuff.  Now, I have to throw in a slight caveat, as they remind me of early, primo, Snuffsaid/Reach era Snuff.  The chaotic punky guitar blasts, the incredible breakdowns and the anthemic vocals that make you just want to jump around singing along.  Add to that the melodic punch of Batch era Big Drill Car and this is an album I can really get behind.

The highlights are too many to list, I could say something about every song if I had the space, but just know that top to bottom, this is a killer record.  If you are like me and have a difficult time giving up on the sounds of the 90's, Shoplifters will help stem the tide as we slip further into the twenty first century.  I only wish I had heard this record last year as it would have assuredly been quite high on my end of the year album list.  Go get it!

Shoplifters - Believe:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Smalltown - Fall Into Line 7"

Untitled

Bridge of Compassion (2002)

Fall Into Line was the second Smalltown 7" released back in 2002.  I first came across these songs when Snuffy Smile released the Smalltown singles compilation, The First Three Years.  As I mentioned when I reviewed Smalltown's 2000 Stuck 7", these are my very favorite songs that Smalltown ever released.

There's just something about these early tracks that exude a youthful energy and a ramshackle vibe that feels punk rock.  The recording quality is totally fine, but still rough enough around the edges to sound a little dangerous.  The way these guys managed to keep their pop side (not too dissimilar from The Odd Numbers) equally balanced with their gruffer more punk leanings was something that always stood out to me.

There remains one last early Smalltown 7" out there that I need, their split 7" with Down And Away.  If anyone knows where I can score a copy of that, let me know.  Also, checking around discogs, it seems I somehow missed out on an entire album of theirs that came out in 2013.  I'm going to have to look into that as well.  While the later Smalltown releases never quite lived up to the brilliance of these first singles for me, I have really enjoyed everything the band has put out.

Smalltown - "Fall Into Line":

Smalltowm - "Tomorrow":

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Holiday - California Steamin' LP - Green Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Brassneck / Pumpkin / Antikorper Export / Prejudice Me (2017)

I think I'm listening to more UK punk rock bands right now than at any time since the mid 90's.  There's something of a renaissance going on where melodic guitar punk is coming back around again.  Holiday is a band that is new to me, but they've released one heck of debut album.

There's something instantly familiar about this band that hits me the very second I pop this on the turntable.  At first I just couldn't place it.  It was the vocals.  They really reminded me of something I just couldn't nail down.  Then Kazu from Waterslide records pointed out to me that they reminded him of Goober Patrol.  That was it, that was the comparison I was looking for.  Vocally, Holiday have a lot in common with early, Dutch Ovens and Truck Off era Goober Patrol. You're not going to get the kind of grit the Goobers were throwing around by the time they got to Vacation, but instead it's a smoother raspiness from their early days.

These vocals combines with a swirling, punked up guitar sound that harkens back to Mega City Four to give Holiday a distinct, but familiar sound.  It's very much a call back to the UK of the early 90's while staying current and exciting.  California Steamin' is a true highlight of 2017 and is easily one of the best records I've heard all year.

Holiday - California Steamin':

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Blues Brothers - Expressway To Your Heart 7"

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

This 7" is another in my (for now) failed jukebox experiment.  Until I move into a new place that I can get the jukebox in, it's relegated to storage in the garage.  While I was gathering some Blues Brothers 7"s for it, it has kind of lit a fire under me to start tracking down some of the other 7"s of theirs that have picture sleeves.  Most of them aren't from America, but none of them seem particularly expensive.  From what I can tell, this one has no picture sleeve equivalent, so I'll write it up as is.

When I was a little kid (we're talking three to five years old) I had two Blues Brothers records; Briefcase Full Of Blues and Best Of The Blues Brothers.  While there was some overlap between the two, Best Of gave me the songs from the movie that I didn't have at the time.  I wouldn't get the soundtrack to the movie for quite a few years later, maybe not until I was nine or ten.  Best Of The Blues Brothers also had one song from the Made In America album (that I wouldn't get until I was probably a teenager) and three songs not on any other record.  Two were different recordings of songs from other albums, one was exclusive to this Best Of release.

"Expressway To Your Heart" is the exclusive song from that album and the A side of this 7".  I have always loved the Blues Brothers version of this song.  The loud chunky piano, horn accompaniment and the insane Duck Dunn bass just resonates with me so much.  I also love the way the the vocals work in the "I was wrong/it took too long" part.  Just great.  

The B side on this is "Rubber Biscuit."  The version of "Rubber Biscuit" is from the Best Of album and is different from the one found on Briefcase Full Of Blues.  I prefer the one on Briefcase and it has been my favorite Blues Brothers song forever.  That being said, I do really like this version of the song as well.  It's a bit longer and has a cool drum beat over the breakdown at the end of the song.  I think the lyrics (if you can call them that) are better and more clear on the Briefcase version, but both are A-OK by me.

The Blues Brothers - "Expressway To Your Heart":

The Blues Brothers - "Rubber Biscuit" Best Of Version:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Shipyards - 見つかった CDEP

Untitled

Self Released (2010)

Shipyards is a band that has quickly become one of my very favorites in a Japanese punk scene that has more than a few amazing bands already.  I have both of their full albums and while I was in Japan I was able to find this CD EP of a demo of theirs.  Of course I had to pick that up for the collection.

This demo predates Shipyards' first album and two of the songs from the CD would end up on that full length.  Both "Bad Illusion" and "Someday in the Rain" are so great, even in this early form.  Sure, the recording is a little fuzzier but the way this band has captured the energy of these songs on this disc is something to behold.  It just seems like the band was formed and they were instantly great.

The two other main songs on this release are also fantastic and I don't believe that they've been released on anything else, but I could be mistaken.  I always seem to stumble across Japanese releases that I had no idea existed.  "Devil Comes" and "No Way" show how this band has taken an obvious appreciation for Leatherface and mid 90's UK punk rock and put their own spin on it.  The rhythm section is fast and punchy and the guitars create a powerful and dynamic blast.  The fact that these songs are so good on a demo is pretty impressive.  The fact that their full lengths are even better is damn near terrifying.  Shipyards is a great band.  I want more!

Shipyards - "Bad Illusion" (This is the version from their first full length, I can't find anything from the demo online):

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Your Pest Band - Old Springhead 2xLP

Untitled

Snuffy Smiles / Brassneck / Dead Broke (2017)

Over the last few years, Your Pest Band has been one of the most prolific and consistently great bands from Japan.  To the best of my knowledge, I have everything they've released and will continue to buy everything they put out.  That being said, Old Springhead isn't my favorite of their records, but it's still pretty great.

If there's one criticism I have with Old Springhead it's that it is just a little too long.  I'm not sure that Your Pest Band needed to do the double LP here.  Trim off a few songs and put out a 7" or two in addition to this LP would have kept the album a little tighter.  I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that the fifteen plus minute long "Swell" is pretty tough to get through.  My favorite Your Pest Band songs are the ones that are catchy and blast in and out again.

Old Springhead has plenty of great songs that lean on the strengths of Your Best Band.  The title track "Old Springhead" is a picture perfect example of what I love about this band.  A catchy lead guitar riff, a fast paced drum beat and a killer vocal melody combine to make it a true highlight.  There are so many great songs on this album from the 50's tinged "Found Out" to the bouncy pop of "Nothing" to "Exits," maybe the best song on the entire album.  This is truly a great record, I probably would have just preferred it be a little shorter, that's all.

Your Best Band - Old Springhead:

Monday, July 24, 2017

J Church - Racked 7"

Untitled

Vagrant (1995)

"Racked" is the song that got me to give J Church another chance recently.  Prior to hearing "Racked" it was the combination of an intimidating discography and having heard mediocre songs by them when I first became aware of the band that kept me from really pursuing any of their records.  "Racked" was such a perfect song that it made me give them another try, and I'm quite glad I did.  Arbor Vitae has become a frequently played LP and I'm starting down that dark path to pick up a few more of their records.  While I don't think I'll ever have the courage to tackle their entire discography (it really is insane), I am going to search out the highlights.  

I wasn't even planning to get the Racked 7" yet, but a friend of mine was purging it from his collection and I figured it would be a great addition to the jukebox project.  Sadly that project is on hold, but at least I have a few new J Church songs.  The way "Racked" combines the upbeat chorus, palm mutes and harmonics in the solo, it really is just an amazing two minutes.  I would encourage everyone to start there if you aren't familiar with the band.

On the B side we have two more songs.  The first is "Mary's Moving Out."  This one is a smash hit as well.  A blisteringly noisy guitar squall starts things off, giving way to a fast paced and dynamic verse.  It's a really short song, but it's excellent.  The last song on this 7" is "You Fucking Trick."  This one isn't your standard J Church pop punk, it sounds more like one of those noisy, sludgy songs Fluf would sneak onto their albums.  It's not awful, but it isn't for me.  Still, just for the first two songs I'd recommend checking this out, especially if you've been looking for an easy entry point into the vast J Church discography.

J Church - "Racked":

J Church - "Mary's Moving Out":

J Church - "You Fucking Trick":

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Needles//Pins - Good Night, Tomorrow LP - Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Dirt Cult / Mint (2017)

I've been a pretty big fan of Needles//Pins for quite some time.  From trying desperately to get their first record label to actually mail me the LP I ordered (I'm pretty sure the band had to intervene on my behalf to finally get me said record) to their newest LP on Mint and Dirt Cult, this is a band I've been all in on.  I think I've mentioned before that the record that I first hear about a band tends to be my favorite of theirs.  Needles//Pins breaks that mold as Good Night, Tomorrow is their best yet.

While the band still has the sort of embedded Canadian pop energy shared by many of their peers, Needles//Pins takes a bit of a turn with their sound on their latest.  It's a little more punk than power pop.  Vocally they're really embracing their gruffness, eschewing some of the nasally inclinations of the past.  The result is an album that leans sonically closer to early Leatherface than Bum or Steve Adamyk Band.

Another change in the band is the overall tempo of the songs.  Things are slowed down a bit on Good Night, Tomorrow to great success.  It gives every chord and riff more meaning and it lets everything breathe a bit.  While the songs on this album aren't slow by any means, taking thing down just a notch has let the band really find their stride and they churn out hit after hit as a result.  It's a pretty great and one of the better records I've heard this year.  Worth checking out for sure.

Needles//Pins - Good Night, Tomorrow:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dog Hotel - Dance On The Cake 7"

Untitled

Debauch Mood (2012)

I picked up this Dog Hotel 7" as part of my vinyl haul from the record shops of Tokyo.  I had originally heard of Dog Hotel from one of those multi-band compilation 7"s that Snuffy Smiles used to put out every so often.  I haven't seen one of those in a bit, but they were a good way for me to hear some of the new sounds of Japanese punk rock.  For whatever reason, Dog Hotel didn't cross my radar again until I was actually in Japan.

I'm so glad I picked up this 7" as it is pretty damn great.  Dog Hotel is playing an interesting hybrid of old school 90's pop punk smashed together with more modern garage-y power pop sounds.  The result is a band that kind of plays like the Marked Men at times, but can venture out more into less strict musical territory.

The big hit on this record is "In The Hole."  Somehow, Dog Hotel has taken the weirdest, most bent sounding guitar riff I have ever heard and managed to contort it into the hookiest thing I've listened to in ages.  I can't even really do justice to it with a description, just click play below and be blown away by its insanity.  Some digging around has shown that Dog Hotel has at least one split 7" out there that I don't have.  If anyone else can point me to more records by these guys, I will buy them immediately.

Dog Hotel - "In The Hole":

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Superchunk - I Got Cut 7"

Untitled

Merge (2017)

One morning a few weeks ago, I woke up to find an email in my inbox from the Merge records mailing list.  It let me know there was a new, limited Superchunk 7" being released to benefit Planned Parenthood.  There was a black vinyl version and an even more limited one on pink vinyl.  Despite ordering it super early in the morning, I wasn't quick enough to snag the pink vinyl version.  That being said, though I do try to maintain a complete Superchunk 7" collection, I've never hunted variants for them and I'm totally fine with the black vinyl version.  Especially since it benefits a good cause.

The A side "I Got Cut" is a new Superchunk original.  Starting off with a squeal of feedback, the guitars quickly sync up with the pounding drum and we're off to the races.  It's a pretty classic Superchunk song, evoking all of those same feelings as when I first started listening to the band.  When they keep things upbeat and energetic, is there a better band?  This one may be a little heavy on lead guitar riffs, but not enough to spoil the good time.

On the B side is "Up Against The Wall."  This is a cover of a song originally done by the Tom Robinson Band.  I'm not particularly familiar with them or this song, so the Superchink version is my first time hearing this.  It's pretty obvious that the source material is tried and true late 70's UK punk/power pop.  Superchunk's version is great with a driving rhythm section and bouncy guitar riff.  In fact, I may prefer it to the A side as it has an innate catchiness that just makes my head start nodding every time I listen to it.  This is a really strong single and I hope it means that Superchunk is off somewhere working on a new full length as well.

Superchunk - I Got Cut 7":

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ron Ron Clou - Second Runner LP

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2003)

Second Runner is the second full length release by Ron Ron Clou and it's the third album of theirs that I've written about on this site.  Sadly, this will be the last one.  Well, it'll be the last full length anyway, they do have a couple of 7"s out there that I don't have, so you may not have heard the last of these guys.

Second Runner starts off with "Merry Go Round." "Merry Go Round" leads with a stuttering guitar riff that's really similar to the "I Want The Moon" by Leatherface, but it quickly shifts to what Ron Ron Clou does best; straightforward mod influenced pop.  I still think they have similarities with bands like Odd Numbers or The Vacant Lot, but they definitely put their own spin on things keeping each song energetic and upbeat.

Another song that leaps out at me is "The Golden Country."  It has a full on pop vibe that reminds me a lot of another older Japanese band called Popcatcher.  I have a bunch of CD singles by Popcatcher and let me tell you, those are some good pop songs.  I think if forced to make a choice I like Ron Ron Clou's debut, First Album, a bit better, but only slightly so.  Second Runner is also pretty great and I'm happy to have all of the band's full lengths in the collection finally. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Blues Brothers - Soul Man 7"

Untitled

Atlantic (1978)

Recently, my wife and I were gifted a jukebox from the early 80's.  It's a beast of a machine that holds one hundred 7"s.  While we were plotting its delivery to our place, I started picking up a few 7"s for it.  I wasn't going to put any records from my personal collection in it, the plan was to buy duplicates of some key records.  I also figured it was a no brainer to put in a few Blues Brothers 7"s.  I actually didn't own any of their singles, as I've had the full lengths for a millions years.  Unfortunately, I put the cart before the horse and the movers weren't able to get the jukebox up the stairs.  By luck, we do have a garage so it has been moved there for storage.  We'll probably move out of our currently place in a year, so I'm hopeful this is just a temporary fix.

However, I've amassed a bit of a Blues Brothers singles collection (along with a couple of other odds and ends) so I'll write up a few of them here.  "Soul Man" seems like an obvious place to start.  This is probably the song most associated with the Blues Brothers, though as the years go by I think people are becoming more familiar with the songs from the movie rather than their big hit single from 1978.  The version on this 7" is the same as on Briefcase Full Of Blues.  It's simply a classic; one of my very favorite songs.

On the B side is a song that wasn't on the album, "Excusez Moi Mon Cherie."  This is the only non album, Blues Brothers B side that exists.  I had no idea that it was out there as a kid.  The first time I ever heard the song was when I picked up a Blues Brothers CD that compiled every song they ever released about a dozen years ago.  The main reason I bought that CD was for this song.  

Despite not being a part of the full album, it's a song that is definitely of the era.  As usual the band is absolutely on fire, with a driving Duck Dunn bassline, rag time piano and potent horn blasts.  Jake/John whips through the song with his usual passion and it's just a thing to behold.  While it's a little weird that I never heard this song as a kid, there's something really neat about finding a relic from that time to listen to with grown up ears.  It's the closest thing the band has to a lost song and I'm really glad it's out there.  I'm even more glad that it's in the collection properly now.

Blues Brothers - "Soul Man":

Blues Brothers - "Excusez Moi Mon Cherie":

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Warm Soda - I Don't Wanna Grow Up - Clear Blue Vinyl

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Castle Face (2017)

I Don't Wanna Grow Up is being advertised as the final Warm Soda album.  It looks like Matthew Melton is moving on to his new psych band Dream Machine.  I'm glad that Warm Soda was given a last hurrah as I've listened to a handful of Dream Machine songs and I will not be following him to that band.  Dream Machine is not for me, but Warm Soda had a solid run of four pretty great albums.

I will say that I'm not as blown away by this last Warm Soda record.  Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it feels a little flat after how great 2015's Symbolic Dream was.  In a lot of ways, I Don't Wanna Grow Up reminds me a lot of the band's second album, Young Reckless Hearts.  It's good, but can't quite live up to the one that came out before it.

That's not to say that I Don't Wanna Grow Up doesn't have it's share of highlights.  Very few people can pull off the breathy AM radio power pop like Matthew Melton.  Album opener "Young In Heart" sets the stage with an upbeat, jangly guitar and octaves in all the right places.  "Don't Leave Me For Another Guy" showcases the band's ability to mix 50's pop themes with modern day power pop.  

Let's face it, there isn't a bad song on the record, but if I'm ranking Warm Soda albums, I Don't Wanna Grow Up would be on the bottom half.  Still, it's up against a couple of pretty stellar releases and it does have its share of hits.

Warm Soda - I Don't Wanna Grow Up:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bear Trade - Silent Unspeakable LP - White/Brown Split Color Vinyl (/200)

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Dead Broke / Everything Sucks (2017)

I'm a sucker for split color vinyl for some reason.  I just think it's the coolest looking variant you can have.  This particular split of brown and white (or 'Chips & Gravy' as they're calling it) is one of my favorites I've seen.  I think it's a great combo and it matches the blown out photograph on the album cover quite well.  Good job all around on the artwork.

Luckily this isn't just a pretty package with no substance, Bear Trade's sophomore LP serves up another dose of their working man's punk rock.  There is also a vibe from this band that is so quintessentially British that you'll never have any doubt as to where these guys call home.  In addition to carrying around the influences of some of the UK's best like Leatherface or Hooton 3 Car, they also manage to paint stories in their songs that really drive that feeling home. 

Comparing Silent Unspeakable to the band's last album Blood & Sand, it seems to me that the songs are slower over all, with more emphasis on storytelling and less concern about being fast or loud.  The album has a cohesive feeling as if each song is building on the one that preceded it.  In some ways it reminds me of the last Arrivals record.  As a whole, I think Silent Unspeakable is the best of Bear Trade and should be a must listen for anyone into melodic UK punk.

Bear Trade - Silent Unspeakable:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lack Of Sense - Small Lights Over There CD

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I Hate Smoke (2014)

Even though it's been six months since I've been in Japan, I still have a stack of CDs by Japanese bands that I haven't written about yet.  This is likely not going to be helped by the fact that another pile of them is currently on its way across the ocean to me right now.  Lack Of Sense is a band that I can't say I had heard of when this record originally came out a couple of years ago, but I'm sure glad I've been able to listen to them now.

Lack Of Sense will appeal to folks that are interested in the Dillinger Fours and Iron Chics of the world.  It's tough, working class punk rock that walks a tightrope between melodic singalong choruses and the sort of razor sharp hooks that you can count on from D4.  There are a good amount of anthemic "whoas" in many of the album's songs.  It's always the sort of thing that makes me think the band would be a lot of fun to see live, with everyone singing along and raising an arm during these parts.

Anyway, I'm definitely glad that I picked up this Lack Of Sense album.  I don't think that the band has released anything else since this album, so I hope they're still around.  I would definitely be interested in hearing more from these guys.

Lack Of Sense - "Just Time Now":

Lack Of Sense - "Take Me Out There":


Friday, July 7, 2017

Not Wonk - This Ordinary LP

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Kili Kili Villa (2016)

I really enjoyed the first Not Wonk record that I picked up while in Japan, so it was a no brainer to grab their second album as well.  This Ordinary is a slight evolution from the band's last album Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower.  While the real core of this record is based off of an obvious appreciation for 1990's UK rock like Mega City Four and Senseless Things, There are some noticeable changes this time out.

Most noticeable is the Not Wonk's movement towards an even poppier sound.  It's a little bit Brit pop, but I think a more accurate comparison would be to say they're starting to stake out the same sort of sonic territory that you'd usually associate with bands like The Posies or Beezewax.  Throughout the album, Not Wonk show a real mastery for crafting the sort melodic songs that get stuck in my head so very easily.  They tend to fall mostly on the mid tempo side of things, but always have an energy that pushes the song forward always driving towards that giant chorus.

I think at the end of the day I'm still a bit partial to Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower. That album has a rougher side that I think makes it a perfect introduction to the band.  With This Ordinary, the band is building on that framework and pushing their songs into new territory.  It's just as good, but in a somewhat different way.  You should pick up both, but maybe start with their debut.

Not Wonk - This Ordinary:

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Diablo Furs - Sweet Janine 7" - Red Vinyl

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Punk Fox (2016)

This is another record that was sent to me to review that I let sit around for much longer than I should have.  Apologies for that to Punk Fox.  I wish I could say it was worth the wait and a gushing review is about to be written, but sadly that isn't the case.  On the plus side, I didn't hate it either.

Diablo Furs are a band that's mashing together a bunch of rock and roll influences with mixed results.  A side "Sweet Janine" has a really fuzzy, yet somehow slick guitar sound.  In some ways it reminds me a lot of Ash, but only from a tone perspective.  While I do enjoy the main guitar riff and the music in general, the vocals don't really do it for me.  They also employ a fuzzy distortion that doesn't really work for me.  That being said, it's not bad at all, I just don't see it being the sort of thing I'd listen to very much.

Of the flip side is "Flowers To Burn."  I don't like this one as much.  The fuzz is still there, but it's not as catchy as "Sweet Janine."  The song moves along at an okay clip, but for me it kind of falls off a cliff at the end where the band just keeps shouting "Flowers to Burn" for a while.  Perhaps if you're into some mid eighties style fuzz-punky throwback, this might be up your alley.  I think I can only throwback to the 90's without adverse side effects.

Diablo Furs - "Sweet Janine":

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mrs. Magician - You'll Fall In Love 7" - 3 Versions

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Thrill Me (2016)

It's taken me way longer to review this 7" than it probably should have.  Let's get the pressing information out of the way first.  It's a pressing of 500 overall.  200 are on Black vinyl, 200 are on Coke Bottle Clear vinyl and 100 are on Doublemint vinyl.  The Doublemint in particular is pretty sharp looking.  It's an awesome color choice.

It's no secret that Mrs. Magician are just about my favorite current band.  There is very little they can do wrong in my book and this 7" is a perfect example of all of the things they do right.  The A side "You'll Fall In Love" is an upbeat and catchy entry into the Mrs. Magician catalog.  The guitars are clean and jangly and I absolutely love the way the chorus closes out the song with the overlapping vocals. 

On the B side we have "Spiritual Awakening."  This one is soaked in reverb and slow surf melodies.  I am, of course, partial to a faster pace, but when Mrs. Magician slows things down they have a real knack for keeping things interesting.  They have a way of layering melodies and tones that keep me enthralled.  At this point I'm all in on Mrs. Magician.  There's very little that they do that I don't love.  This 7" is no exception.  Two more fantastic songs to add to their already impressive resume.

Mrs. Magician - You'll Fall In Love 7":

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Abolitionist - The Vicious Rumor LP - Blue Vinyl

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1859 Records (2017)

This is the second album I've had the opportunity to review by Abolitionist.  I have to say that I was pretty excited when this came in the mail the other day.  This is a band that I'm pretty confident I may not have ever heard of if I didn't do this website.  The last Abolitionist LP was actually the very first full length vinyl record that anyone had ever sent me to review.  Fast forward a few years later and this new one is certainly among the review records I'm most excited about listening to.  This and Zapiain are probably my favorites of the most recent batch I've been going through.

Abolitionist harvest the most raw and angry grains of pop punk.  Every song has a subtle catchiness to it, but the hooks are often somewhat obscured by the sheer energy that the band is able to project.  Much like Dillinger Four or Off With Their Heads, Abolitionist can take gravely vocals about depressing topics and still wrangle a song that has me nodding my head along.

As usual, I tend to favor the songs that lean the most heavily towards straightforward pop, but even the more incendiary burners on this album are pretty damn good.  Every so often it's nice to have an angry album you can just be pissed off with.  Might I recommend Abolitionist for your next time. 

Abolitionist - The Vicious Rumor:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cozy - Button By Button LP

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HoZac (2014)

I absolutely dragged my feet on writing this review.  HoZac sent this album to me quite a while ago.  They didn't send it to me in 2014, but I've probably had this close to a year.  Apologies for the delay, although I am still curious why they chose to send me this one random record from their back catalog.

Anyway, I did go into Button By Button with some trepidation based on the artwork.  I mean, look at those haircuts.  Luckily the album isn't as bad as the hairstyles would indicate, but it also isn't particularly great either.  Cozy has churned out the very definition of a middle of the road power pop album.  It has the sneering vocals and tight chord progressions you'd expect.  It even has some solid hooks and choruses.

Where the album is lacking is in originality and energy.  I never feel like the band is really firing on all cylinders.  They can't capture the magic that a band like Barreracudas is able to.  On the other side of the spectrum, they never hit the polish or smoothness of a band like The Knack.  Cozy is treading a middle ground and their album is totally fine, it just never really exceeds that mark.  Ultimately it's decent enough background music, but not really something I'd go out of my way to listen to.

Cozy - Button By Button:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Radiation Risks - Goodbye Money 7"

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Lumpy (2017)

This 7" is one of the more recent things I've been sent for review (I really am making a concerted effort to get through everything).  I can't say that the artwork led me to believe this was something that I would like, but I did go in what an open mind.  What I ended up with are mixed emotions.  There are certainly things I like about these songs, but over all I don't think I can say I'll ever listen to this 7" again.

First off we'll discuss the positive; the music of the band.  The actual playing of instruments and structure of the songs are fun and unique.  They've got a somewhat nasty rock and roll streak to them with strong guitar riffs and a saxophone wailing along.  There are tiny moments where the band gives off a Rocket From The Crypt vibe, especially with the way the sax interacts with the rest of the band.

Unfortunately, Radiation Risks aren't an instrumental band.  Once you add the vocals to the mix, everything just comes crashing down for me.  The singer has a drawn out growl that sounds completely out of place with the upbeat nature of the music.  There's lots of unnecessary yelling and at the end of the day, I just don't like it.  It's a shame, the band is on to something.  If they could lock down a shit hot soul singer or something, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

Radiation Risks - Goodbye Money 7"

Monday, June 26, 2017

Pissing Match - Break The Seal 7"

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Feral Kid (2016)

Let's get out the hardcore checklist out.  Band is called Pissing Match. Check.  7" has fifteen songs on it. Check.  The longest song is thirty-eight seconds long. Check. Song titles are written in that Crass font. Check.

I do not understand this sort of thing.  It sounds like Anal Cunt, but less metal and not as funny.  If you like growly shouting, maybe you'll like this.  I don't.

For future hardcore band and label people, I appreciate the sentiment, but it's a waste of a record to send stuff like this to me. I'm just not going to enjoy it like you do.  Let's call it a shortcoming on my end and an inability to broaden my horizons.  I like pop.

One last thing, does anyone know why the monsters on the record cover are so mad at that tire?

Pissing Match - Break The Seal 7":

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Schizophonics - Ooga Booga 10" - Orange Vinyl

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Pig Baby (2017)

I don't review nearly enough 10"s on this site.  It's one of my favorite wacky formats, but it's not used nearly as often as it could be.  As someone that's put out records and price checked the cost of the 10" format, I completely understand why.  It's just as expensive as putting out a full length, but it's tougher to justify the cost to the rest of the world for fewer songs.  Regardless, I applaud those that take the leap and I'm happy that Pig Baby records decide to send over a copy of this Schizophonics EP.

I've been hearing about The Schizophonics for quite some time from some friends out in California.  The consensus is that they put on one hell of a live show.  If the high angle suplex the guitar player appears to have given himself on the cover of this 10" is any indication, it seems like it would be an interesting show.  I'd only previously heard the band's contribution to the Swami Hardcore Matinee compilation, so it was nice to finally hear some more from them.

The band definitely has a late 60s/early seventies rock and roll vibe.  We're talking the gritty MC5 type stuff.  A more modern comparison that I see is The Dirtbombs.  The guitars are fuzzy and the vocals have the sort of howling in a cave distortion that really works when applied just right.  I'll always give extra credit to bands that throw in "wooos" and "uhhs"as exclamations during song fills.  

The highlight for me is "Venus Transit."  It has a super catchy escalating chord progression that only lets up briefly for the chorus or the occasional nasty guitar lick.  Ooga Booga is a fun EP and a nice introduction to the band.  I'm curious to see what else they have out there.

The Schizophonics - "Two Thousand Seventeen":

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ned Garthe Explosion - Flashlight Tan LP - Red Vinyl

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Sad Pad (2017)

This was another album sent to me to review.  I was struck by the artwork when I opened up the package, particularly the prevalent use of primary red.  It's very eye catching.  The quality of the packaging is quite nice too.  Thick cardstock, hefty opaque vinyl and nicely done insert.  You can tell a lot of thought and effort went into it.  As far as the sounds contained in this package, it's more of a mixed bag.

Things start out with "Smooth Escalator."  Over a very "Billie Jean"-esque bassline, this little funk outbreak plays like a joke that I'm not in on.  Maybe as an album closer it could have worked but it seems odd to lead off the album with a song that sounds so unlike the rest of the album that follows.   Once you've cleared that hurdle, the bulk of the album plays like a pretty interesting punk/garage guitar showcase.  The songs are tight, snappy and don't overstay their welcome.

Vocally Ned Garthe Explosion remind me a bit of Needles//Pins especially when the choruses kick in.  I can't go so far as to say I really dig this, but it's totally fine rock and roll.  Aside from the first track and the song "Flashlight Tan" that closes out the album, it's a pretty good listen.  The two bookends strike me as a weird way to start and end and record full of crunchy guitar rock, but the middle bit is perfectly serviceable.

Ned Garthe Explosion - Flashlight Tan:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beasteater - Beasteater LP - Green Vinyl

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Big Neck (2016)

I've been letting a few review records pile up, so I'm going to try to clear those out over the next few days.  I haven't been dragging my feet on them for any reason other than I just have had so many records from Japan to get through.  Just a warning, I'm no where near close to done with those either.

Beasteater was sent to me by the folks over at Big Neck records.  I was pretty excited to get a package from them as I had really enjoyed the Danger Signs album they had put out.  I wasn't familiar with Beasteater prior to putting the record on, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  I definitely don't think I was expecting something so loud, though I guess with the word beast in their name I should have been expecting some sort of roar.

The album starts off with "The Night Air," which I can only describe as fury crammed into two minutes.  The sheer chaos and energy of this opener was pretty eye opening, not just for the ferocity, but because the song still managed to retain some semblence of a hook that drives the song forward.  It reminded me a bit (just a bit) of some of the noisier, freakout moments of Rocket From The Crypt.

From there, the band takes their foot off the gas, just a little.  I don't think an entire album's worth of songs at the level of "The Night Air" would be healthy.  Beasteater churns out a respectable set of songs that are on the noisier side of the garage rock spectrum.  Primitive pounding drum beats mesh with thick, chunky guitar riffs with wailing vocals guiding everything.  If you're into some of the noisier things I write about from time to time, this would be up your alley.  

Beasteater - Beasteater:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Zapiain - Giantnormous LP - Blue Vinyl

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All In Vinyl / Bombed Out (2017)

From the very second album opener "My New Home" starts off, it's immediately apparent that Giantnormous is going to be my kind of album.  I could really use one too as 2017 has been stultifyingly mediocre over all for new records.  I'm not saying there hasn't been anything worthwhile, but as a whole we're way behind on the amount of good records that have been released at this point in the year than I can recall in a very long time.  Luckily Giantnormous shakes things up a bit.

Zapiain is plying the trade of my UK punk rock heroes.  A little Hooton 3 Car mixed in with some Leatherface and maybe just a bit of the Great St. Louis join together into a potent blast of melodic rock and roll.  Each of the albums first four songs blast forward with a scorched earth guitar blast tempered ever so slightly by the sheer amount of toe tapping hooks crammed into every chorus.  Once we get to "Shotgun," the band takes it down a notch showing a mastery of a slower tempo song similar to how Broccoli was able to do with one of their masterpieces "Defence."

From there Giantnormous just keeps rolling along and building momentum.  It's absolutely my kind of punk rock and I couldn't be more thrilled that it was sent over to me to check out.  The best part is that it's the band's second album, so now I have an older album to go hunt down.  It's worth your time to listen.

Zapiain - Giantnormous:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dulac - Four Summers 7"

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It's A Sic Life (2015)

This is the third Dulac release I've reviewed on this site.  I think I now have everything the band has released, but I thought that before only to find a rogue 7" I didn't know about.  Previously, I'd compared Dulac very favorably to bands like The Estranged and Red Dons.  I'm not sure exactly what has happened on this release, but those comparisons are out the window.  Gone are the dark, chunky downstrokes, replaced by a cheerful jangly guitar chime.

At first, I was taken aback by this change in direction.  However, I think Dulac really took the title of this 7" to heart and have cranked out three summer appropriate hits.  Make no bones about it, these are great songs.  They're full of the sort of catchy and breezy pop hooks that make you really want a glass of lemonade.  "Summertimin'" starts things off with a catchy melody and bright upbeat chord progressions.  Again, very different from prior Dulac songs, but every bit as good.

When we move on to "Drawing Blanks" the band adds in the soothing tones of Hammond style organ to mix in with their sunny tune.  Lastly we have "Street Scene"  It's probably my least favorite of the bunch as I'm not as into the vocal melody, but it still has a lot to offer with its big drum fills in the bridge and harmonica laden solo.  At the end of the day, I probably like it more when Dulac is playing music that's a bit faster and fuzzy.  Though if the next Dulac full length was full of songs like this, I'd buy that too.  They just have a knack for writing great songs.

Dulac - Four Summers 7":

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sleep Like A Log - Sleep Like A EpiLog CD

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Fixing A Hole (2012)

I don't know quite as much about Sleep Like A Log as I would like.  They're one of those bands that existed at the edge of my knowledge of Japanese punk rock, but I had a harder time keeping tabs on them than some of the bands that would wind up on Snuffy Smiles or other labels I was more familiar with.  I had their split 7" with Rumspringer and their third CD demo, but that was all until I went to Japan and was finally able to find more of their records.

Sleep Like A EpiLog is a compilation of their non album tracks.  It includes the aforementioned split 7" and demo along with the bands two additional CD demos.  Ten songs in total and what a batch of songs it is.  Fast and blistering guitars mix with melodic vocals and hooks everywhere you look.  While they certainly fit in quite well with their compatriots on Snuffy Smile, Sleep Like A Log, to me, is a bit closer to UK style melodic punk with a sound that reminds me of Hooton 3 Car, but with a bit more of an edge.

No matter how you want to mix your "sounds like" adjectives, one thing that's undeniable is that this is a great record.  Every time I hear an album like this I'm exhilarated and a little bummed out at the same time.  Exhilarated because it's another amazing record to listen to.  Bummed out because there are so many bands in Japan playing the exact kind of music I want to listen to.  It feels like the scene I enjoy the most is just going on without me a little too far away.  At least I have the records.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Charly Bliss - Soft Serve 7"

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Father/Daughter (2014)

After being so completely and utterly blown away by the Charly Bliss full length, I wanted to jump backwards and pick up their only other release, this three song 7" from 2014.  Being so much older than their new record, I was wondering what I was going to think as I've read a few times that the band made a pretty significant change in sound while working on Guppy.

I can report that this older 7" is still pretty good.  It does not reach the heights of what they eventually achieved with their album, but it contains two pretty solid and catchy songs.  "Love Me" has a strong hook and some pretty good melodies, but it's much fuzzier and more raw than anything on the album.  Usually I would prefer that in most bands, but Charly Bliss is one of those rare animals that benefits from a cleaner, more polished sound.

On the B side, "Urge To Purge" falls in line more with their recent hits.  It brings a huge wallop of 90's nostalgia with a big chorus and some dynamic guitar work.  "Strings" is a total outlier as it's not sung by usual singer Eva Hendrix, who is relegated to backing vocals on this one.  I can't say it works as it's probably the weakest song I've heard by the band.  It just sort of plods along and doesn't have any of the band's usual barely contained energy.  As a whole, the 7" is a fun listen, but it doesn't come close to what the band achieved on Guppy.  Start there if you're new to the band.

Charly Bliss - Soft Serve 7":

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Against Me - Stabitha Christie Spicture Disc 7" (RSD 2017)

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Total Treble (2017)

Let's face it, I've drastically lost interest in Record Store Day the past few years.  It's not so much that I lost interest in waking up at 3am or standing outside of a record store for 5 hours before it opens, but the releases themselves haven't been very interesting in a while.  You've got your lazy cash grab reissues and your overpriced exclusives.  Bands that I care about seem to be giving up on the day, so my enthusiasm has waned.

I could say similar things about Against Me.  Since the album New Wave, I've been losing interest.  Each record being less engaging than the one before.  It's not to say any of them are bad, they're not and I own them all, but I don't really go back to them repeatedly like the first few.  So many bands get like that after a while so it's even not a criticism leveled exclusively at Against Me.  Nonetheless, it really felt like I was just going through the motions when I went over to Vintage Vinyl at the crack of four pm this year and picked up this record.

That being said, this Against Me Record Store Day 7" is pretty good all things considered.   Despite it's stupid song title, "Stabitha Christie" is a bouncy little song with an old time rock and roll bassline and a surprisingly poppy hook.  To the surprise of no one, I have always gravitated to the poppier Against Me songs.  B side "First High of the Morning" isn't quite as strong.  It's a little slower and more reflective, but it's totally fine.  Worth a nine dollar picture disc?  That's debatable, but there's a better chance of me going back to this 7" than some of the other Against Me records in the pile.

Against Me - "Stabitha Christie":

Against Me - "First High of the Morning":

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Skimmer - Baby Dinosaur CD

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Waterslide / Heroic Failure (2015)

When you talk about glory days or musical scenes that were influential to me, there are few that have been as impactful as the mid-late 90's punk rock scene in the UK.  Based around Crackle records, this first batch of Leatherface and Snuff influenced bands blew my mind when I was younger.  This crew of bands like Broccoli, Chopper, Hooton 3 Car, Crocodile God, Travis Cut and Skimmer jumped out at me like few bands have before or since.  That Skimmer is still putting out records all these years later is a wonderful thing to me.

This was another album picked up while in Japan.  I have to admit that I haven't kept up on Skimmer quite as much as I once did.  They fell off my radar a bit and I didn't realize this album had come out.  I'm happy to report Skimmer is as great as they've always been and their new songs are every bit as good as the ones they put out in those aforementioned glory days.

It's tough for me to describe Skimmer by comparing them to other bands as they are often the band I would compare others too.  I suppose there's certainly a slice of Mega City Four and Senseless Things buried in there as Skimmer has a way with melody very reminiscent of those bands, but Skimmer has a full bore fuzzed our guitar attack guiding them through their songs.  They're soul mates with Japanese bands like Navel, but still have elements that are wholly unique to them.  Chances are if you've listened to Skimmer in the past and enjoyed them, this record will be right up your alley.  If you've never heard them before, this is album is as good an album as any to start with.  Oh, their singles compilations Compitoenail should be next on your list.

Skimmer - "October Flowers":

Skimmer - "She's Gone Again":