Thursday, July 24, 2014

Radioactivity - Danger 7"

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Secret Mission (2014)

There's something to be said for consistency.  If you read this website you can count on the fact that I'll only throw around a handful of adjectives.  If you watch any of the prequel Star Wars trilogy movies you can count on being in a bad mood afterwards.  If you listen to a band that Jeff Burke is singing in (Marked Men, Potential Johns, Novice, Radioactivity) you can absolutely count on that record being spectacular.

What you can also count on is consistency in sound.  I would never say something cliche like the songs all sound the same, but the songs are all coming from a similar place.  Fortunately for me, I could listen to songs from a place like this all day long.  Radioactivity, like Burke's other bands, crank out fuzzy, catchy garage pop.  They write hooks better than most bands I can think of.  Even though the 2 songs on this could probably be considered among their slower or more mid tempo tracks, they are still bristling with energy.

Of the two, I prefer the B-side "Why" but both are equally great.  Word is another full length is nearing completion and you can count on me to be buying that the very second if goes on sale.

Radioactivity - Danger 7":

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fleshy Mounds - You're Welcome Cassette

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More Power (2014)

Let me start off by saying that I'm very grateful to anyone that takes the time to send me something to listen to and review on this website.  It's nice to think (even if I'm just fooling myself) that someone would care about my opinion of a record.  It's also nice to get the occasional free record.  I don't get a lot of people sending me things to review, but considering how I go on and on about how I don't like cassettes, it's remarkable how many tapes I get sent versus those that send me a slab of vinyl to review.  

When this Fleshy Mounds tape came in the mail, I was skeptical.  The artwork and band name made me think it might not be my cup of tea, but hey you never know.  When I popped this guy on, I was floored.  I haven't purposefully listened to something this bad in a while.  Fleshy Mounds sound like every terrible high school VFW hall punk band you've ever heard in your life.  The singer is just shouting and rambling incoherently.  I bet he thrashes around with much fervor when playing live.  The guitar is barely noticeable as the bulk of the music is built around simple bass and a drummer that I can only assume has not been playing all that long.

The songs are slow and sludgy, never really going anywhere.  I don't think any of the songs had a chorus, every one plods along in one direction daring you to continue to listen.  It's like a game of chicken, can you really sit through this whole thing? Luckily it's only 5 songs, so I made it through; but I came out worse on the other side having accepted this challenge.  Again, I appreciate everyone who sends me something to review, but I'm trying to put myself in the head of whoever sent this to me thinking 'yeah, I bet Tim will like that..."

Fleshy Mounds - You're Welcome:



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin LP - Yellow Vinyl (/400)

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Merge (2014)

There are things I am going to write about this record that could make you think that I do not like it.  That could not be more untrue.  I want to start off by saying this is a great record and I absolutely love it; but it's going to suffer some unfair comparisons to Bob Mould's last album, Silver Age.  When I heard Silver Age a couple of years ago, it was a revelation. Bob was back.  

After a string of lackluster rock albums and a horrible electronica mistake; Bob was embracing his inner Sugar and cranking out a powerful set of top notch pop-rock tunes.  It was kind of unexpected as I had figured Bob Mould was just going to be one of those iconic fellows whose best work was behind him.  He knocked that theory on its ass and Silver Age was hands down one of my favorite records of 2012.

With Beauty & Ruin, Bob has the unenviable task of trying to follow up that masterpiece.  Honestly it's just as good.  The only problem is that this time I'm expecting it to be good.  While last record was a surprise, this record has a whole heap of expectations slapped onto it.  That's a tough weight to bear and he does himself no favors by having the worst song on the record, "Low Season," as the album opener.  I was a little nervous after hearing that for the first time.  It's just so sluggish and sounds like back album filler to me.  Things pick up a bit with "Little Glass Pill," but it's still no where near as good as anything on Silver Age.

Luckily by the time you hit the third track "I Don't Know You Anymore" the album just roars to life.  It's fast paced, catchy and has all those great Sugar-esque high spots that you want Bob to hit.  The rest of the album cruises along after that with each successive song being as good or better than the previous.  It's really a hell of a record that probably could just have used some work in the track sequencing department.  While it will be unfairly compared to Silver Age, Beauty & Ruin makes a strong claim as the 2nd best Bob Mould solo record he's put out.  If you liked Silver Age, I just can't imagine not liking this one almost as much.

Bob Mould - I Don't Know You Anymore:

Bob Mould - Nemeses Are Laughing:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blank Pages - S/T LP - Clear Vinyl

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Dirtcult (2014)

Every year that I get older, I'm a little more leery of the fact that I'm not quite as tuned in to new records as I used to be.  I try hard to keep up with everything, and I think as evident from this website, I do a pretty decent job and certainly buy my fair share of records.  That being said, last year I blew it with the new Blank Pages record.  Hardware records in Germany put this album for sale with different artwork and a limited to 100 colored vinyl variant.  I completely missed it.  

By the time I had figured out that it had even come out, Dirtcult had announced their version.  Even though there's something to be said about owning the limited, first press, colored vinyl, German import; there's also something to be said with being able to pick this up for 11 bucks with domestic shipping.  Obviously I went that route.

Sure, I'll probably want to find the other version at some point, but only because Blank Pages are just so damn great.  Rising from the remains of the equally incredible Idle Hands; Blank Pages pretty much pick off where that band had left off.  Wipers/Red Dons style, downstroke heavy, dark but fast & catchy punk rock.  They're one of the current masters of the genre.  If The Estranged were writing songs with bigger hooks, you'd be closer to the sound of Blank Pages.

It's absolutely an essential album to pick up, especially since Dirtcult made it so easy to get in America.  Do you have any idea how much I spent on those German Idle Hands records? A lot, that's for sure.  The only problem I have now is not knowing if I can include this record on a top 10 list of 2014.  It's certainly amazing enough to be a no brainer, but the fact that it came out last year in Germany first makes me unsure if it counts.  Thoughts?

Blank Pages - S/T LP:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friends Of Cesar Romero - The Hold 7" - Jukebox Edition, Clear Vinyl (/100)

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Snappy Little Numbers (2014)

Just a quick post today.  If you want the full scoop on how great the music on this 7" is, just read yesterday's review here: http://www.ibuywaytoomanyrecords.com/2014/07/friends-of-cesar-romero-hold-7.html  Needless to say it's great.

Today's picture is of the limited to 100, clear vinyl, Snappy Little Jukebox edition of the record.  Sure it's a simple little variant, but I just love it.  It's numbered, you've got colored vinyl and I'm just an absolute sucker for those little jukebox tags.  You can probably blame the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Jukebox Series for that.

Not only is this cool, the band was selling it themselves at a shipped price so astronomically low, I'm not even sure how they paid for the shipping.  Punk rockers!  It looks like they still have some left at their bandcamp page: http://friendsofcesarromero.bandcamp.com/album/the-hold-b-w-teisco-telstar-stomp-7


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Friends Of Cesar Romero - The Hold 7"

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Snappy Little Numbers (2014)

Any label can manage to put out one good record.  There's plenty of examples of this, I don't need to take the time to list them off.  When a label starts to string together several great releases, that's when you know the folks running it are onto something.  And when a label starts putting out great record after great record AND they're from mostly new bands; that's when you know that this is a label you can count one.  Snappy Little Numbers are absolutely starting to fall into that category.

Friends Of Cesar Romero are probably the one of the more senior of the bands on Snappy Little Numbers, but I certainly wouldn't classify them as a household name just yet.  Though they really should be. The A-Side "The Hold" is is a mid tempo, vaguely 60's sounding song, but doesn't come off as a pandering retro throwback.  Background organ flows through  and helps build to a bouncy chorus with a banging snare that punctuates everything.

B-side "Teisco Telestar Stomp" sounds a bit tougher; it's not quite as poppy as side A.  It has a little more punch and it leans more towards a garagey sound.  If you could get away with saying the word swagger and not sounding like a dipshit, I'd say the band has some real, old school, tough kid swagger.  But now I sound like a dipshit.  Regardless, both songs are pretty outstanding and you should really check out everything Snappy Little Numbers is putting out. They're onto something.

Friends Of Cesar Romero - The Hold 7":
http://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/the-hold-b-w-teisco-telstar-stomp

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Estranged - S/T LP

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Dirtnap (2014)

When the first Estranged full length, Static Thoughts, came out back in 2008 I was pretty blown away.  The band had taken a Wipres/Hot Snakes downstroke heavy guitar assault and blasted through 10 songs.  That album was easily one of my favorites of the year.  When their second album, The Subliminal Man, came out in 2010, I was a bit disappointed.  While it was still a good record that I enjoyed and played fairly often, it was such a radical departure in sound that I found it jarring.

Now, four years later, The Estranged are finally back with LP number three and this one is a doozy.  I wouldn't say that it's a return to the sound of their earlier work, because it isn't.  But they do incorporate much more of the energy from that time period into this new batch of songs.  You can't help but hear a bit of 80's punk/alternative in their music.  The Cure? Sure maybe a little bit, but certainly not enough to be annoying as first and foremost, The Estranged are a bunch of punk rockers.  Maybe a little darker than your average punk band, but I think they share some traits with the band Crusades.

Regardless, this latest Estranged album is pretty great.  It's deceptively catchy once you've given it a few listens and I'm struck more than anything by the interesting guitar work they employ throughout the record.  While they may have started out bashing away at their strings like the Wipers, they're a significantly more dynamic band than they were six years ago.  As is the usual Dirtnap practice, the first 200 copies are on colored vinyl and amazingly it looks like they still have a few available.  So if that's your thing, you best get moving.

The Estranged - S/T LP:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Unwelcome Guests - Wavering LP

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Dirtcult / One Percent Press (2014)

From 2008 - 2010 or so, Unwelcome Guests were on a tear putting out 7"s. Between their singles, splits and compilation appearances they unloaded a ton of songs and I was only too eager to buy every one of them.  Then in 2010, they released their first full length, Don't Go Swimming.  I didn't find it as exciting as the singles were.  It wasn't bad, in fact it quite good in places, but the band felt a bit more polished and were lacking some of the energy of the 7"s.

Unwelcome Guests are back in 2014 with their second LP Wavering.  I can assure you any questions I had about their energy level have all been thrown out the window because this album just rips from start to finish.  They manage to combine a rootsy sort of appeal with the hooks and passion of bands like Rumspringer or Your Pest Band.  Then add on a huge helping of lead guitar gymnastics that you'd really only find in bands like Dinosaur Jr. or, if you need a more modern comparison, Tenement. 

Every one of the songs on this album are as great as anything the band has previously released.  This is Unwelcome Guests at the top of their game.  I cannot say enough great things about Wavering.  It's the kind of record that you keep going back to over and over again; each time finding something new to love about it.

Unwelcome Guests - Wavering LP:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot Snakes - Skateboard Deck


Just because I had a few people ask, here's a picture of my Hot Snakes deck with my new Rocket one.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rocket From The Crypt - Skateboard Deck

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Foundation (1996)

OK, you got me.  This isn't a record, so it really has no place being written about on this website.  But it is music related, and I've been searching for one of these for many, many years so I'm going to make an exception.

This skateboard deck was sold by Rocket From The Crypt during the 1996 Warped Tour.  Considering it was such a big festival show, I wondered if Rocket would really translate, having only seen them in smaller venues prior to this.  I went to 2 of the dates for that years Warped Tour and Rocket just kicked ass both times.  When they played up in Vernon, NJ near the old Action Park it started pouring rain right before they were about to play.  They just went out anyway and destroyed in front of the 30 or so people brave enough to stand in the storm.  It's one of my fondest Rocket memories.

Anyway, the skateboard itself was one of the things they had at their merch booth.  Frankly, I didn't have enough money for it at the time.  I didn't have enough on me on day one and then I just forgot about it on day two and once again didn't bring enough money to buy one.  I've been looking for one ever since.  It's been estimated that there were about 100 of these made (just an estimate, I cannot confirm that as an official 100% accurate number - but it's probably close). So needless to say they haven't shown up for sale too often in the intervening 18 years.

I had the chance to grab one a few years ago from another person on the Swami message board, but just couldn't come up with the funds at the time.  Then, one finally showed up on eBay the other week.  At $150 (buy it now), it is certainly quite a bit more than it would have cost if I had picked it up at the Warped Tour, but I just couldn't stand it not being in my collection anymore.  So I grabbed it.  I don't skateboard, but I'm just thrilled to have one of these.  Especially as I expect it to look pretty amazing hanging on the wall next to my Hot Snakes skateboard deck!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wye Oak / Telekinesis - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl

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Merge (2014)

The Or Thousand Of Prizes singles club from Merge rolls into June with a split 7" offering from Wye Oak and Telekinesis.  Merge has been very timely with these records.  I don't want to jinx it, but so far this is the best, most consistent roll out of a singles club that I've ever seen.  Hopefully they keep on going strong.

Musically, I can't say the series has been as consistent for me.  Wye Oak employs a clean guitar sound with some electronica and ambient sound effects.  High pitched, other worldly vocals glide over top.  There's a few Beck songs that have a similar flair, but those were always the Beck songs that came off as a bit pretentious to me.  Wye Oak sure sounds like they are trying to be important and artistic, but to me it just comes off as being boring.  "Better" kind of reminds me of "Chariots Of Fire" or some other pseudo-inspirational schlock befitting a slow motion scene in a movie.  There's a somewhat interesting moment towards the middle where Wye Oak indulges in a louder, synth driven solo; but it immediately reverts back to being boring again to close out the song.

Telekinesis, on the other hand, are much more exciting.  Building off of a loud, crunchy guitar with a hooky verse and strong vocals that don't rely on fuzz or other trickery (though there is a slight echo on the chorus).   I can't say that I was really familiar with this band, but I'm pretty impressed with this song.  Though I could not in good conscious say they are as good as Mikal Cronin, I feel like Telekinesis is aiming for a similar place.  Worth checking out.  


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hospitality / Lambchop - Split 7" - WhiteVinyl

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Merge (2014)

For the month of May, the Merge Records Or Thousands Of Prizes singles club dropped another new 7" on my doorstep.  This time I was presented with 2 bands that I had heard of, but never really listened to much at all.  This split would be the first chance I'd have to spend any real quality time with either.

First up is Hospitality.  While the female fronted vocals and wonderful backing harmonies create some very sweet melodies, this band sounds kind of old.  Not necessarily in a good, cool throwback sort of way.  They just sound dated, like they're trying to exist in a completely different time.  There are a lot of genres ripe for a revival, though I'm not sure 70's easy listening is really the one to champion.

Still, I find Hospitality significantly more interesting than Lambchop.  Like Hospitality, they kind of reek of the 70's, but this band seems to be yearning for the days of the lounge piano player.  The song starts simple, and builds, but it doesn't really build into anything all that interesting.  It's kitschy in the way that songs like "MacArther Park" are, but that doesn't make it good.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Knapsack - Silver Sweepstakes LP

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Alias (1995)

This Knapsack record has been a missing piece of my record collection for quite some time.  Though I've had Silver Sweepstakes on CD for ages, I just never was able to pick up a copy of the LP.  Not that the album is particularly rare.  In fact, in comparison to the 2 other Knapsack LPs, Silver Sweepstakes is usually downright cheap.  But, it was always a bit more than I was willing to pay.  When I saw this one hanging around on eBay for $20, that was the sweet spot I've been looking for.  I can absolutely justify $20 for this record.

Silver Sweepstakes wasn't the first Knapsack record I had heard, though it was their first.  I came on board for 1997's Day Three Of My New Life.  I did backtrack pretty much right away and pick this up, but foolishly went the used CD route as oppose to grabbing the vinyl.  While I do think that Silver Sweepstakes is probably the weakest album in Knapsack's catalog, it's still pretty great.

I have a Knapsack sticker that says "Committed To Dynamics" on it.  That is a good summary of Knapsack's music.  All of their songs keep a dynamic balance between gut wrenching emotion and sincerity with an aggressive guitar barrage.  Some of my favorite songs on their debut have always been "Cellophane," "Casanova" and "Centennial."  Vocalist Blair always knew just where to put in a satisfying gravely yell to really drive home the point.

If you hadn't heard Knapsack before, I'd encourage you to start with their best album "This Conversation Is Ending, Starting Right Now," but every record this band put out is worth owning.  They played a reunion show in NYC a few months ago that was incredible.  I can only hope that somehow leads to more records.

Kanpsack - "Casanova":

Knapsack - "Centennial":

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gentlemen Rogues - Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All 7" - Purple Vinyl

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Shifting Sounds (2014)

After their fantastic 10" EP that came out last year, I was eager to hear more from Gentlemen Rogues.  They answered the call with this 2 song 7" that really showcases their songwriting chops and ear for great melodies.

The A-side is "Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All."  It's a mid tempo song that takes me back to bands like Tugboat Annie.  The crunchy verse builds nicely into an intricate guitar jangle chorus with fantastic backing vocals and dynamic guitar work.  The B-side "Mountains Of Your Head" is a Buffalo Tom cover and you can tell that Gentlemen Rogues do take inspiration from the sort of big time 90's pop band scene that Buffalo Tom was a part of.  It's a nice version of the song, but Gentlemen Rogue's originals are so good, I'd probably just prefer another instead of a cover song if I had my choice.

Still, it's a great little 7" and once again I'm eager to hear more.  I read that the band is currently recording for another EP.  Come on guys, enough with the EPs, let's get a full length going!

Gentlemen Rogues - Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All 7":

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Both - S/T LP - Blue Vinyl

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SuperEgo (2014)

It seems like it's been way too long since the last Ted Leo LP came out, so I was pretty excited when I heard that he was finally working on something new.  Sure, it wasn't a new Pharmacists record, but Teddy hasn't let me down yet.  What we ended up with is The Both, a collaborative project with Aimee Mann.  While it's a good listen and quite enjoyable in places, it never soars as high as Ted's usual work with the Pharmacists.

In general, I'd say the biggest thing holding this record back is its lack of energy.  The songs tend to be pretty mid tempo and there's really nothing in the way of raised voices, shouting or any real outpouring of enthusiasm.  From what I've heard of Amiee Mann, this is downright punk rock from her usual records, but for Ted Leo it feels like he's being dragged down a dark path into mom-friendly NPR rock.

That probably sounds worse than it actually is.  When they pick up the pace a bit, like on the songs "Milwaukee" and "Bedtime Stories," the record is actually very compelling with great back and forth vocals and some quality harmonies.  But those are bright shining spots on record that otherwise just kind of fades into the background whenever I put it on.  It's not bad, it's good.  But what it isn't is great and that's what I usually sign up for when I buy a Ted Leo record.  I hope he's on the phone with the Pharmacists planning their next record.

The Both - "Milwaukee":

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Against Me - Unconditional Love 7" - Picture Disc

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Total Treble (2014)

Picture discs have always been an odd bird for me.  While I can appreciate that they can look pretty cool sometimes, there seem to be a lot of instances where I just don't see the point.  Particularly since they often don't sound all that great when compared to a normal record.  This Against Me 7" is one of those records.  You can have a picture disc like Rocket From The Crypt's Boychucker 7" that's just bursting with artwork and color.  But this very minimal, very black and white illustration just isn't screaming out to me that it needs the picture disc treatment.  Plus with all of that blank space, couldn't they put the band name on there somewhere instead of slapping that gigantic sticker on the sleeve?

Anyway, musically it's pretty good.  "Unconditional Love" is a song that I really like, though it is already on the last Against Me full length, so this 7" only exists to me as a vessel for the B-side.  "500 Years" is also pretty good.  Just drums and acoustic guitar.  Slower than you'd think without much of the angst that the band can be known for, but still a good song.  It makes sense to me that it's a B-side, though I'm not sure it's strong enough to really anchor this record.

At the end of the day, you still have to respect what Against Me is doing.  This 7" was $5 in the store I was at.  Almost every other 7" I looked through was between $7 - $10 dollars.  If nothing else, at least Against Me and Total Treble are keeping their prices punk rock.  I'm always happy to support that and this record is absolutely worth every penny of the $5.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Chestnut Road / Panic Attack - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl

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Snuffy Smiles / Speedowax / Rad Girlfriend / You Look Like Shit / Sick Scene (2014)

This record s a coming together of so many great things that have been important to me over the years.  It's a new Snuffy Smiles release, one of my all time favorite labels.  It's a new Speedowax release, a great label and run by a fellow I've known since the 90's.  It' also co-released by Rad Girlfriend, one of the best new American labels going.

Chestnut Road is one of the bands on here, and you can't possibly have missed my never ending stream of praise for them. Then the other band in Panic Attack; a band that's new to me, but one that I've been trying to catch up on and have been quite impressed with so far.  Finally, it's all tied together by the fact that both bands cover a Broccoli song on the record.  It's almost like this was put out just for me.

All fours songs on this 7" are incredible.  The Chestnut Road original is just another example of why I've become obsessed with this band from France (to the point where I nearly accosted a guy I saw at a Steve Adamyk Band show that was wearing a Chestnut Road shirt). "Clocks Ticking" is just a perfectly constructed song that takes me right back to that mid 90's UK punk scene that I'm just so god damned nostalgic about. Their Broccoli cover they chose was "Fido" and while I don't know that any band will ever do Broccoli songs as good as Broccoli, their take on it is still pretty stellar. When these guys put out their next record, can someone please tell me how I can get the PopKid logo on it?

Panic Attack turn in the best song of theirs that I've heard so far and all it does is make me want to hear more from them.  "Recluse (is a euphemism)" is so dynamic, with gravely vocals that still manage to be incredibly melodic.  Another gigantic leap forward for this band from Quebec.  They chose the Broccoli song "Lean" for their side of the record and give a real impassioned take on the song.  I hope this band is working on a full length, because I'll be buying it on day 1.

Hey, I could listen to a whole album full of Broccoli covers (which is being put together here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1421396768145727/ if you want to get involved), so this 7" is one of those records that just makes me happy by existing.  The fact that the music on it is great as well is just another bonus.

Chestnut Road / Panic Attack - Split 7":


Friday, June 27, 2014

Panic Attack - Empty Malls & Parking Lots 7" - Green Vinyl

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Big Wheel / Guerilla / Pouzza (2012)

As I wrote about yesterday, once I found out that Panic Attack was doing a split 7" with Chestnut Road, I immediately went out and bought all of their other records.  Sure it was only two 7"s, but I wanted to study up on the band before their new split came out.  The songs from yesterday's record were just fantastic and I had high hopes for the 5 songs on their debut 7".

Empty Malls & Parking Lots came out back in 2012 and as mentioned, it was Panic Attack's first release.  In many ways it kind of sounds like a band's first record.  There's a few moments of greatness, some real potential, but also moments where things fall a little flat.  I'd have to say that in general the songs are a bit more simplistic than their two on the Jeffrey Lost Control split, but there are moments where the band comes off as something special.

The first two tracks, "No Seriously: Fuck Off" and "Wasting Time" both clock in under less than a minute.  They're fast, a little snotty and over before you know it.  Neither are bad, but neither really go anywhere.  It's not until the band gets into their longer tracks "Pictures" and "Black Cat" that they really shine.  Both slow the tempo down a bit and give Panic Attack room to breathe and really take their songs up a notch.  They display far more dynamics than the shorter songs on this 7" and they are much more representative of the type of music they were able to churn out on their second 7".

Still, even at only two records in, I'm extremely impressed with these Quebec based punk rockers.  Next up is their split with Chestnut Road and since one of their songs on that is going to be a Broccoli cover, I can't even imagine how I could possibly not love it.

Panic Attack - Empty Malls & Parking Lots 7":

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jeffrey Lost Control / Panic Attack - Split 7" - Green Cover (/50)

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Sick Scene / Big Wheel (2013)

I did something very 90's when I decided to buy this record.  Anyone who reads this website, even infrequently, is surely aware of my love for the band Chestnut Road.  They are one of the absolute best bands going and I buy everything they release.  Well, their next record coming out soon is a split 7" with a band called Panic Attack.  On that 7", both bands are going to cover a Broccoli song, so right then I knew I had to go buy some Panic Attack records immediately.  

We'll start off with the band Jeffrey Lost Control first.  Their first song, "Falling Down" wasn't really blowing me away.  It's got good gruff vocals and some well placed "Ohhhs" in the background, but the drumming isn't for me.  Over the years I've just never been able to get into songs with that non-stop, 100 miles an hour galloping drum beat.  After this song, I figured I could just write off the band as pretty good.  But then they hit me with "Under The Gun."  This is a great song.  The tempo is taken down just a notch and the song is 1000 times better as a result.  Great guitar interplay.  They end up reminding me a lot of bands like Manifesto Jukebox or I Excuse.  I would absolutely like to hear more songs like this from the band.

Then we get to Panic Attack, the reason I bought the 7".  They definitely lived up to the hype I created for them. Their first song "Who Read Holden Caufield" is just super energetic with driving drums and dynamic guitar.  The singer has raspy vocals, but still manages to be melodic.  The songs are catchy with sing along choruses, but not at all saccharine pop. Track two, "I Can Work It Out" is just as great.  It has the same punchy energy of the first song and reminds me a lot of Broccoli actually.  Then, right in the middle of the song we get a bass driven breakdown complete with a movie quote sample a la Jawbreaker.  Very cool stuff.

I bought this 7" just looking to study up on one band, but I managed to find two that I'm going to have to pay attention to going forward.  Even when they're not on the record, Chestnut Road is still getting great music to my turntable.

Jeffrey Lost Control / Panic Attack - Split 7":

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Masked Intruder - M.I. LP - Purple Vinyl

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Fat Wreck (2014)

Sometimes there's a really fine line between being average and being great.  On the surface, Masked Intruder doesn't appear to be doing anything all that special or inventive.  It's reasonably basic 3-chord, Ramones-esque pop punk.  But they have managed to craft their songs to really stand out from the pack.

Sure, they have their mask gimmick and though I've not seen them play live, I've heard it's a really fun show.  What really sets Masked Intruder apart from their peers is their attention to detail when recording these songs.  M.I. is perfectly produced.  The guitars sound huge, the drums are powerful, the lead vocals are perfectly balanced in the mix; but the key to Masked Intruder are the backing vocals.  This band utilizes backing harmonies better than probably any other current rock band.  They're on practically every song and elevate each one to be something special.

There's quite a few hits here.  From the fighting against the man (but losing) anthem "I Fought The Law" to blazing lead guitar driven "Crime Spree" to the somewhat lower key album closer "Locked Up And Lonely" Masked Intruder are firing on all cylinders.  In some ways it's a better album than their debut.  There's no annoying shouty songs like "Stick Em Up," but I was more blown away by the first album when I originally heard it.  I wouldn't say M.I. is disappointing in the least, I guess now I just expect great things from this band.  Thankfully, they usually deliver.

Masked Intruder - "I Fought The Law":

Masked Intruder - "Crime Spree":

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Destroyer / King Kahn & The Shrines - Split 7" - Purple Vinyl

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Merge (2014)

For their April release, Merge went back to the split 7" format after a brief one month departure.  The two bands they brought together were Destroyer and King Kahn & The Shrines.

I was particularly excited about Destroyer.  I was a big fan of their earlier releases, particularly Streethawk: A Seduction.  But as the years went on, Destroyer got a bit weirder and I haven't really been keeping tabs on them as much.  I figured that being able to check out a recent song might show me if they are worth giving another shot.  Well, after this entry into the singles club, I think I've made the right choice paying them no mind as of late.  As the title may suggest, "Te Recuerdo Amanda" is completely in Spanish.  While that's not really a deal breaker, the fact that the song is slow, quiet, boring and kind of goes nowhere is.  It just seems like such a throwaway.

King Khan & The Shrines, on the other hand, really brought their A game to the record. Even though it's a Saints cover, the King Kahn version of "Know Your Product" blasts out of the gate with a huge horn section, organ and driving bass.  It's a real rhythm and blues review that pays homage to the original, but is a pretty spectacular stand along track for King Khan.  It's part Rocket From The Crypt, part Blues Brothers and part soundtrack to a car chase.  As bad as the Destroyer side is, the King Khan & The Shrines side more than makes up for it.  I've been lukewarm about King Khan records in the past, maybe it's time to give him another chance if his take on this song is anything to go by.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Clientele - Falling Asleep 7" - Blue Vinyl

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Merge (2014)

This record is the March edition of the Merge records Or Thousands Of Prizes singles club.  Unlike the first 2 volumes, this isn't a split 7".  For March they decided to let Clientele have both sides.  Off all of the bands that have participated thus far, I'm not sure why Clientele earned their own 7".  If it was me, I would have given that to Superchunk.

Not that Clientele is bad.  They're not at all, but they are a little forgettable.  The A-side, "Falling Asleep," isn't one of those songs that you can't figure out why they called it that.  It's pretty mellow and honestly a little boring. Dreamy vocals with a slight layer of cloudy distortion over hippy-esque 60's music.  It reminds me of Donovan a bit actually, but with less energy.

On the flip side is "Orpheus Avenue."  It's also slow paced built over a layer of gently plucked acoustic guitar.  In some ways it reminds me of Sea Change era Beck, but with none of the gravitas or importance that Beck can muster out of a song like this.  I wouldn't say either song was bad or not worth a listen, but at the end of the day both are a bit boring and I honestly can't see myself getting the itch to listen to it again.

Clientele - "Falling Asleep":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK9WkClyCb4

Friday, June 20, 2014

Survival Knife - Loose Power LP

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Glacial Pace (2014)

This is one of those records that I couldn't have been more ready for.  With Numero Group reissuing the Unwound catalog recently, I've been in that mindset for some rough around the edges 90's style indie rock.  Well, Justin Trosper and Brandy Sandero, both formerly of Unwound, answered the call and have released an absolute beast of an LP.

Survival Knife takes the very best parts of Unwound and combines them with the sort of pop sensibilities and catchy choruses that few people probably thought was possible considering the principal players involved.  I've heard several friends compare aspects of Survival Knife to Hot Snakes, and while I agree that they do both have similar tones, Survival Knife is not a non-stop downstroke explosion like Hot Snakes.  Survival Knife keeps things slightly cleaner, a bit less aggressive and, on more than a few instances. really takes advantage of some long, sprawling songs the way Unwound used to.  

Eight minute plus tracks like "Cut The Quick" give Survival Knife the sort of canvas that allows them to meander a bit and explore some intricate but compelling guitar work.  Yet the band is equally adept at blasting out a fast paced, in your face three and a half minute blasts like album opener "Divine Mob" or the stellar "Fell Runner."  No matter the direction Survival Knife goes, the results are impressive.

Loose Power is absolutely one of the best 2 or 3 records to come out in 2014 so far.  It's pretty much perfect.  I'll even go so far as to say it's even better than most of Unwound's catalog.  That's how fantastic I think this album is.  If you were on the fence about checking this out, you are really missing out on something truly great.

Survival Knife - "Fell Runner":

Survival Knife - "Divine Mob":

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Space Wolves - The First Year Cassette

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UT Records (2014)

I was excited to get this tape in the mail.  And that's not a sentence you'll see me type all that often.  But, I was already familiar with Space Wolves having received and really enjoyed their last cassette IV.  This particular cassette compiles the first four Space Wolves tapes into one release.

The band is great.  They play a jangle-y, treble heavy guitar style of pop.  They seem to draw a great deal of influence from the late 50's and early 60's as their songs have a refreshing simplicity and charm that you just don't hear that often anymore.  However, the band manages to take these influences and filter them through a modern garage-pop sensibility that makes Space Wolves stand out from the crowd.

The one thing I will say is while the convenience of having all of these songs in one place is handy and economical (this tape is only 4 bucks from the labels webstore), there's just too much to listen to in one sitting.  There are FIFTY songs on this cassette. Even though many are quite brief, this is just far too much to digest in one go through.  That's not a shot at Space Wolves specifically as I would be stumped to think of any band that I want to listen to that much of all at once.  If you tackle this in segments, it's a great couple of listens.

UT Records Bandcamp (All 4 Space Wolves tapes are up there to stream and download for free):

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Blind Shake - Get Youth 7" (/260)

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Depression House (2014)

I'm very happy I was paying attention to The Blind Shake lately.  Had I not been, it's very possible this 7" could have slipped through the cracks.  Limited to only 260 copies and put out by a label in Italy, it would have been very easy to miss out on this record.  Luckily, Slovenly Record got a few US distro copies and I was able to grab one and avoid the crazy overseas shipping charges that have become so common in buying records.

If I look at this record, and the band as a whole, analytically there's really no reason I should like them as much as I do.  The Blind Shake is extremely noisy with sneering blown out vocals.  I can't really say there's much in the way of hooks, but what the band has in bucketfuls is crazy energy.  The Blind Shake blows through their songs at a breakneck pace with their foot on the floor.  

"Get Youth" has a repetitious driving guitar riff and a nonstop barrage of drumming.  The yelping vocals shouting "get youth" in the chorus brings the madness together briefly, but then the band goes right back into some more feedback mongering.  

I actually like the B-side "Brickhouse Burro" even more as it has a lot in common with the songs on the band's last full length Key To A False Door. The song is primarily built on a crushingly fast guitar riff that allows the band to just rip through the majority of the song.  But then half way through, everything just drops out and you are left with a slow moment where the song is nothing but single notes are plucked from the guitar.  It's a momentary pause as The Blind Shake immediately pick things back up and tear through the end.

The Blind Shake - "Get Youth":

The Blind Shake - "Brickhouse Burro":


Monday, June 16, 2014

Dan Sartain - Dudesblood LP

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One Little Indian (2014)

Strange things have been going on with Dan Sartain records over the years.  After several borderlain perfect albums, he started shaking things up.  While he was a crooning southern greaser with an acoustic guitar and a penchant  for cobras for quite a few records; his last album, Too Tough To Live took things in an altogether different direction.  On that album his love for The Ramones and other older, darker shades of punk rock came into the forefront. While it was a fantastic record, it did leave me wanting some songs like his earlier work.

Dudesblood is kind of the best and worst of both worlds.  Each individual song is actually great.  There's a few fast catchy punk rock songs like "Dudesblood" "Smash The Tesco" and "Love Is Suicide."  There's also instances when Dan slows things down like on "Pass This On," "Marfa Lights" and "You Gotta Get Mad To Get Things Done." While every one of these songs are outstanding as stand alone tracks, the album as a whole suffers a bit as it doesn't really have a cohesive direction and jumps all over the map style-wise.  It's not bad and in the grand scheme of things it's not really that big a deal, but it is a bit jarring the first few times you listen to the record.

I enjoy pretty much every Dan Sartain song released into the world.  I like his slow acoustic based records.  I like his loud punk rock records.  He's one of those songwriters that I really trust, always knowing that whatever direction he's taking his music in; there's a pretty good chance I'm going to love it no matter what.

Dan Sartain - Dudesblood:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Songs For Snakes - Year Of The Snake LP - White w/ Blue Splatter Vinyl (/300)

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Self Released (2014)

Before I say anything about the music, would you look at this record? It's beautiful.  I can't remember the last time a band or label got their colored vinyl to so perfectly match the artwork like this.  It's stunning.  Kudos to the band for taking the step to put out their new record on vinyl.  Equally stunning is the music on this album, it's like the band is making music just for me.

While trying to make it not sound like an insult, to me Songs For Snakes  is old man punk.  I complain often how I'm getting older and the things that I liked when I was younger (which coincidentally tend to be the things I like now too) tend to be out of style or not in vogue.  Music was especially like that for a while.  Over the past few years there has been a real renaissance of bands that take their cues from 90's bands and the result has been a lot more music that I'm interested in.  Songs For Snakes are right at the top of the pile as far as these bands go; they're just one of the best.

You can tell that the guys in Songs For Snakes are older punks too.  These aren't some kids playing an old style of music, these are old punks that are just playing the kind of music that's authentic to them.  You can't listen to this record and not hear the Jawbreaker influence.  But while most bands who like Jawbreaker spin off into a weird emo tribute, Songs For Snakes keep it louder, rougher and much more in common with Unfun era Jawbreaker, but still manage to pack ultra catchy hooks into every song.

The production is great, the songs are phenomenal and frankly I'm shocked that this band isn't way more famous than they are.  They also emailed me personally just to let me know they had a new record that came out so I could go buy it.  See? They know that I'm getting old and forgetful.  In a world full of wacky technology and stupid kids, sometimes it's just nice to be old, cranky and happy about it.

Songs For Snakes - Year Of The Snake:


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sebadoh - Gimme Indie Rock 7" - Gray Vinyl

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Homestead (1991)

Oh Sebadoh, how I've tried to understand you over the years.  For the most part I've been successful, there's an awful lot of Sebadoh that I like, but there's just so much out there and I have to admit quite a bit of it goes way over my head.  In high school my buddy Joe had this 7".  I never picked it up, but I did put the song "Gimme Indie Rock" on one of my mix tapes that got a good amount of play back then.  When I saw a used copy of this pop up at Green Noise records while I was already placing an order, I decided to pick it up.

So the title track is as great and as fun as it ever was.  Slow, then fast, funny lyrics and the chorus of just shouting "Gimme Indie Rock" at the top of their lungs.  It's a gimmicky song for sure, but one that still makes me smile all these years later.  There are, however, 4 more tracks on this 7".  I have zero memory of these so each was like listening to a brand new Sebadoh song to me.  The other song on the A-side is "Ride The Darkness.  It's another electric, reasonably upbeat song that I think is pretty good.

The B-sides are where things get wacky and I don't mean that in a bad way.  This is where Sebadoh goes all sad bastard acoustic 4-track.  3 songs; "Red Riding Good," "New King" and "Calling Yog Soggot."  I've always liked the weirdo Sebadoh acoustic songs more than their rock songs and while I wouldn't say these three are better than the A-side, they feel a bit more comfortable to me.  All in all, it's a fun 7" and I'm trying to figure out why I waited over 20 years to pick up a copy.

Sebadoh - "Gimme Indie Rock":

Sebadoh - "Ride The Dark Wave":

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dan Sartain - Pass This On 7"

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One Little Indian (2014)

I felt like it has been an awful long time between when this 7" was announced and when I finally got to buy it.  Preorders - feh.  Anyway, It's always exciting when new Dan Sartain records are out as he is one of the best things going these days.  One Little Indian has always been a little wacky with his releases.  They seem to put out a ton of 7"s for him, but they almost always end up being just tracks from the album.

This one's about half and half.  "Pass This On" is a track off of the new Dan Sartain album Dudesblood.  It's a cover song by a band called The Knife, but I can't say I'm familiar with the original.  What I can say is it's one of the best songs on the new album.  Slow and dark, with Dan crooning the vocals.  While I do enjoy Dan's punk rock songs, I'll always have a soft spot for his softer side.

The B-side is a Roy Rogers cover called "Dust."  This was originally on the digital only He Touched Me, released as a benefit for The Travis Jackson Memorial Fund.  It is nice to have at least one of the songs from that excellent EP on vinyl and I can't say I'd mind it if they ended up releasing all of them as B-sides if that's what it takes.  There's a lot of Dan Sartain 7"s out in the world.  They're all worth picking up in my opinion.

Dan Sartain - "Pass This On":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfNXgAysFd8&feature=kp

Dan Sartain - "Dust":

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mikal Cronin - MCII LP

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Merge (2013)

I have a couple of people to thank for this record.  First is whoever put that amazing Mikal Cronin song on their split 7" with Superchunk that came out as part of the Merge Singles Club.  2nd is my buddy @chris_whitehead, who assured me that giving this record a chance was the smart thing to do.  Honestly I had all but written Mikal Cronin off as one of those things friends liked but I just didn't get.  MCII has completely changed my opinion on that.

This record is so great.  So great.  The pop that this man conjures is unbelievable. From the opening seconds of "Weight," I'm hooked.  That's it, there's no way this record doesn't end up in my collection.  While I felt the first Mikal Cronin record was spotty at best and full of the sort of psych overlays that do nothing for me; MCII is as unashamedly pop as you could make a record.  What I hear more than anything else is similarities to an older favorite band of mine, The Mull Historical Societ; particularly on the song "Shout It Out." With it's wistful verse and freaking gigantic chorus, it's the kind of song you listen to wishing you could have somehow written it.  It's just too perfect.

The only times the record loses me at all are on 2 songs.  I find "See It My Way" sticks out on the record like a sore thumbs with its screaming guitar solo and high pitched chorus.  "Piano Mantra" also doesn't really do anything for me as a stand alone song, however it does make sense in the form of an album closer, so I don't really have any beef with that.  Those two minor criticisms aside, I think this is simply a fantastic record.  One I really regret waiting so long to give a chance to.

Mikal Cronin - "Weight":

Mikal Cronin - "Shout It Out":

Monday, June 9, 2014

Banner Pilot - Souvenir LP - Brown Vinyl

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Fat Wreck (2014)

I've been following Banner Pilot's output for quite some time, ever since their first full length Resignation Day.  Over the years I've watched them get more and more popular as they've ended up on bigger labels and garnered more fans .  Oddly though on this, their fourth album Souvenir, I'm starting to lose a little bit of interest.  

Not all of my interest in the band, mind you.  I'm still a sucker for their anthemic choruses and tightly focused guitar riffs, but 4 records in I just can't shake the feeling that I've heard this all before.  Now, let's be clear.  I am not one of those guys that wants bands to grow and change into a beautiful butterfly throughout their career.  I'm perfectly fine with a band finding something that works and sticking with it.  I think the difference with this Banner Pilot record is that rather than seeming like new songs under the same umbrella, a lot of it just feels like retreads.

That being said, if you aren't as familiar with the band, this is as good a record as any to start with.  If you like your punk rock catchy, but serious, and you tend to go down that No Idea/Dillinger Four rabbit hole; fewer bands do it better.  At the end of the day I guess I just wish they'd shake things up a bit.  Even though I don't like it when bands change, sometimes you need to do a little tinkering to keep things fresh.

Banner Pilot - "Modern Shakes":

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The No Marks / DeadCuts - Split 7" - Blue w/ Silver (/143)

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Speedowax (2013)

Speedowax is one of those labels that put out so many good records.  Now, they probably put out a few too many hardcore leaning records for my personal taste, but when they're in the mindset for pop, they stand head and shoulders above most labels.  Case in point is the fantastic split 7".

The No Marks are the main reason I picked up this record.  They're playing the kind of glorious melodic UK punk that ruled the mid to late 90's as far as I'm concerned.  They have the raspy vocals and seriousness of bands like Broccoli, but they kind of keep things a little poppier.  If anything, the 2 songs here remind me most of the sort of thing Broccoli was doing on their Chestnut Road 7".  There are fewer compliments higher than that coming from me I assure you, so it would be best if you bought this 7" immediately.

And as a bonus, you get 2 songs from DeadCuts.  Fronted by Mark Keds, formerly of Senseless Things, DeadCuts also pays homage to a UK scene, but they take it perhaps a decade further back than The No Marks.  To me, DeadCuts are just a flat out great rock band.  With heavy effect laden lead guitar way up in front, and slightly echo-y vocals that ebb and flow with the progression of the song, DeadCuts are playing a style of music that I haven't really heard anyone championing in forever.  Even though its roots are old, hearing new music like this is such a breath of fresh air.  Between the 2 bands, this is a can't miss 7".

DeadCuts - "Caution Exorcists":

No Marks - "Renville Road" / "Coming Around":

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Doo Rag - Chuncked And Muddled LP (/500)

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Dependability (1995)

There's always a pretty great feeling when you get to remove a long time item off of your wants list.  It's even better when you get to remove one of the big ones.  This Doo Rag LP was a top 5 item on my list and it's just wonderful to finally have this record in the collection.

I've had the CD version of this forever.  I even have the wacky limited CD version that comes in a box and has a gigantic Doo Rag patch, but the vinyl version had always alluded me.  Sure, I paid a healthy amount for this one, but I have seen it sell for substantially more in the past.  The price was right to finally take the plunge.

For the uninitiated, Doo Rag was one of the wackiest bands to kick around during the mid 90's.  They played with Beck, the played with Ween, frankly they played with an awful lot of great bands.  The drummer, Thermos Malling didn't play a drum set, rather he banged on cardboard boxes and garbage can lids.  The singer & guitarist was Bob Log III, a man with a wicked slide guitar and some pretty unusual methods for distorting his vocals.

Though I never thought Chuncked And Muddled was as amazing as the band's 2nd album, What We Do, this album still has some great songs.  If anything, where the band really made strides between this album and What We Do was in the production department as Chuncked And Muddle does sound a bit thin and tinny.  Still, it's a great record and one that I couldn't be more excited about finally owning.

Rather than just link you to a few songs on this record, here's Doo Rag live.  This is where you'll really understand their greatness:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sanhose - Cicada CD

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Recess (2009)

A few weeks ago I wrote about a 7" on Snuffy Smiles by a band called Sanhose.  I'd never heard of them before, but discovered that in addition to the 7", they had a full length out as well.  It was surprisingly easy to find as it was put out by Recess in Japan.  The US Recess website also stocked a copy.  Now, it's always a bummer having to buy a CD instead of vinyl, but I will say that when you listen to a lot of Japanese punk rockers, you get used to it.  Almost all full lengths seem to come out on CD with only a few exceptions on vinyl.

Now, I will say I was probably a little disappointed in this album by Sanhose.  It's not quite as good as the 7".  But that 7" was nearly flawless, so I imagine it would be tough to live up to it.  Also the band had about another 5 years of getting better between these releases, so I do get it.  That's also not to say this is a bad record, it's pretty good overall and has a handful of moments that really shine.

Like the 7", the bulk of the songs on here are fast melodic punk rock that could fit in on Snuffy Smiles.  The band really excels when they keep things poppier and take the tempo down just a bit, as they do on songs like "Pigeons" and "Your Stars."  To me, the band is less successful when it's got the pedal to the floor, playing at breakneck speed and just shouting along the vocals.  On Cicada, you can see the foundation of what is becoming a great band.  Since I already know how good Sanhose got by the time they released the Parada 7", I'm really eager to see where they go next.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Love As Laughter - Thru The Past, Brightly, Vol. 1 CD

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LAL Industrie (1999)

The absolute number 1 record on my want list is the first self titled Love As Laughter cassette.  I have been searching for a copy for nearly 20 years and I've hardly ever even gotten a hint of it existing anywhere.  The 2nd Love As Laughter cassette Clear Sky = Blue Dye is one of my all time favorite albums, one I've been listening to non-stop in the 20 years that I've been searching for the 1st cassette.  After all this time, I finally went to the source and got in touch with Sam Jayne, the man behind Love As Laughter (and the equally amazing Lync).

Sam was super nice and dug around trying to find me a copy of the 1st cassette.  Unfortunately he wasn't able to procure one, but he did find a copy of this CD for me.  This CD is a self released effort that compiles a bunch of early Love As Laughter songs.  There's a good amount from Clear Sky = Blue Dye.  A song from the split 7" w/ Ringfinger and what I assume are quite a few songs from that first cassette I've been searching for.

Now I can't say for sure which of these new to me songs are from that cassette, but I can say that I just love every single one of them.  This era of Love As Laughter is lo fi, 4 track, recorded at home pop genius.  You've got all the ingredients of classic 90's do it yourselfers.  Fuzzed out electric guitar on one song, strummed acoustic on the next.  Drum machines on a song, super basic kick snare drumming on the next.  Plus there's just that quintessential 4 track fuzz that I loved so much.

This CD is just amazing.  While it will never fill the hole in my record collection that the missing 1st cassette leaves, it's a certainly a more than acceptable placeholder for the time being.  Thanks again to Sam for helping me out with a copy of this and if anyone on Earth has that 1st cassette I'm missing, please get in touch right away.  Even if you won't sell it to me (which you should), I'd really like to get the tracklist for it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else LP - Blue Vinyl

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Carpark / Mom + Pop (2014)

A few years ago I caught wind of Cloud Nothings.  I checked out their self titled album (though I do not believe it was their debut) and thought it was OK.  Some good songs on it, but honestly nothing that special.  They released a follow up that I never even listened to.  Then this year I heard they had yet another record out, "Here And Nowhere Else."  I kept hearing really good things about it, so many that it became impossible to ignore.  I decided to give the band another shot.

I am so glad I did.  This record is out of control great.  Along with Sonic Avenues it is easily one of the 2 best records to come out this year so far.  Not only am I listening to this record all the time, I've actually checked the band's website to see if they're coming to town so I could go see them play (and I hardly ever go out to shows anymore). Currently the east coast isn't on their agenda, but I'll be keeping an eye on that.

On this record Cloud Nothings are playing bombastic, huge pop songs.  The kind that have choruses that will be crammed in your head for months.  They've captured an energy on this record that just makes you want to smack people in the face and make them sing along too.  The production is kind of scratchy, and that gives the band a real edge to them that others playing this sort of thing wouldn't have.  Plus the drumming on this record is some of the best I've heard in a while.  They've perfected the art of making a song great, then making it even catchier and louder in the chorus and then somehow one upping that again and going even louder.  It's an incredible feat and one that keeps me coming back over and over.

I cannot say enough great things about this record.  I didn't think much of the band going into it, but coming out I'm totally converted.  I'm going to have to give their other records a try and even if I'm not as into them, you can be guaranteed I'll be buying everything these guys put out going forward.

Cloud Nothings - "I'm Not Part Of Me":

Cloud Nothings "Psychic Trauma":




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wringer - Bullfighter LP - Red Vinyl (/100)

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Smellhound (2014)

It is no secret that I love a good pop punk record.  Sure, even the term pop punk has been slighted over the years and so many people just disregard the entire genre.  There are a lot of bad pop punk bands, so I can sort of understand where people are coming from, but there's also some truly great bands cranking out pop punk records.  Wringer is one of those bands.

If you take the punchy attitude of Dillinger Four and mash it up with some of the early Lookout records catalog, you'd probably come up with Wringer.  While they don't really lean towards the Leatherface end of the spectrum like D4 does, they have the same sort of grab-you-by-the-throat energy.  Their songs are a bit more straight forward and when the band comes across a hook, they just run with it.  

The first 100 were on red vinyl and according to the label's website, it is possible they have a few available, but you may want to check with them.  Wringer also has a split 7" out in the world with a band called Trapper Keeper.  I'm going to need to add that to the collection at some point as well.  If it's even half as good as Bullfighter, it will be a hell of a 7".

Wringer - Bullfighter:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Warm Soda - Young Reckless Hearts LP - Pentacolor Vinyl (/69)

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Castle Face (2014)

While I wasn't ever totally on board with the records released when he was in Bare Wires (don't get me wrong, those records are good, just not great), I was a reasonably early adopter when Mathew Melton started up Warm Soda.  Their debut record was one of those albums that makes you reevaluate what you're looking for in a record.  He managed to do several things that I hate production-wise, yet somehow made me love every second of it.  When Young Reckless Hearts was announced, I was checking the Castle Face records website every hour waiting for this to go on sale.

I was lucky, I was at the right computer at the right time and I saw the email announcing this wacky, limited to 69 copies pentacolor vinyl go on sale.  It's clear with red, yellow, blue and white colored blotches.  Definitely one of the cooler looking records I have and man did it sell out fast.  As far as the music goes, it's really good, but I don't like it quite as much as their debut.

The thing that this record is lacking for me just a bit is punch.  The first album had a little more energy.  The songs were slightly faster.  The lyrics were more biting.  Young Reckless Hearts is a more laid back affair, but Melton & co. craft some of the best hooks you'll find on a record this year.  With their breathy, way-up-in-the-front-of-the-mix vocals and tight, well constructed accompaniment, Warm Soda is a truly stellar band.  If you enjoyed the last record, there's no way you won;t like this one as well.  It's a fantastic, extremely well written record; I just wish it had a tiny bit more oomph, that's all.

Warm Soda - Young Wreckless Hearts:


Friday, May 23, 2014

Sonic Avenues - Mistakes LP - Clear Vinyl (/175)

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Dirtnap (2014)

Ever since I put the needle down on the very first Sonic Avenues full length that I mailordered from Going Gaga records (which was almost not delivered due to a mailing mishap) I have been such a huge fan this band.  When their 2nd record came out on Dirtnap, it only fanned the flame even more.  Now that their 3rd LP Mistakes has arrived, I've pretty much moved on to full blown obsession.

This is one of the greatest bands in the world right now.  They have such an exciting way of crafting their guitar riffs, always veering off into unexpected places, but always making sense in the end.  In a lot of ways they remind me of the Marked Men in this regard.  The static-y vocals probably also would make others think of the Marked Men as well, but I would venture to say that Sonic Avenues are pretty close to unmatched in supplying vocal melodies.  They sing higher and hold notes longer than most bands I can think of and always deliver something new and exciting.

Sonic Avenues are a band that you will never mistake for being someone else.  They've created a sound that will certainly appeal to fans of other bands playing fast paced garagey-pop; but Sonic Avenues stand so far apart from everyone else it's almost comical.  This new record is just as great as anything else they've released so far and if 2014 ended today Mistakes would hands down be the best record of the year.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The No Marks / Hyalin - Split 7" - Red Vinyl (/110)

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Brassneck (2014)

If you read this website on a somewhat consistent basis, you'll see two things repeated quite often.  1. I'm just a complete sucker for the music of the 90's, the music released then will always just seem like the best to me.  And 2. There has been a real resurgence in bands today taking cues and paying homage to bands from the 90's; which is A-OK by me.  Of all of the 90's things to stage a little comeback, the one I expected the least, but probably love the most is all of these new bands that sound like the glory days of the mid to late 90's UK punk scene.  I'll say it until I'm blue in the face, when bands like Broccoli, Hooton 3 Car and Chopper ruled the world, I never loved music more.

The 2 bands on this 7" not only take cues from that UK scene, several of the guys in these bands were actually part of it.  First up we have The No Marks.  They feature members of Crocodile God and Blocko. The 2 songs on their side of the 7" are phenomenal.  They definitely have that Broccoli-esque raspy vocal thing and intricate guitar playing down, but I find them to be a bit poppier and perhaps slightly more lighthearted than Broccoli was.  In particular the back and forth between clean guitar and fuzzy guitar on "About Tomorrow" really stands out as something unique.

Over on the flip side we've got Hyalin.  A band made up of folks from Blocko and folks from one of my absolute current favorite bands Chestnut Road.  All you really need to know is that of the 2 songs on this 7", one is a cover of the Broccoli song "Constance."  It's great as is their original "Clear As Glass."  If you imagined a band that sounded like a cross between Blocko and Chestnut Road, they would sound exactly like this.

This is just such a great 7" and really, everyone should check it out.  While you're doing that, you really also should make sure you have every Broccoli, Blocko, Chestnut Road and Crocodile God record you can find.  When you have all those don't forget Hooton 3 Car and Chopper.  Oh and you should really grab that donFisher 7" that Crackle put out.  So many record to buy...

The No Marks / Hyalin - Split 7":