Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Thursday, January 21, 2016
3345 Music (2015)
Last year I was sent the first By Default By Design 7". I didn't like it and gave it quite the shellacking (or schlonging if you prefer) here. I guess that didn't discourage the fellow behind the music to send me his next 7", Rise. Amazingly, this might even be worse.
By Default By Design is still working with the worst sounding guitar tone known to man. Not quite acoustic and not quite electric, but rather a combination that somehow highlights the worst elements of both. On top of that, on this 7" he seems to have forgotten how to sing. A-side "Rise" is delivered in the goddamn weirdest falsetto you've ever heard. You would almost think it's a Ween joke song if not for the heavy handed, over sentimentality of the lyrics. Then if you flip this to the B-side "Beautiful Boy" he's just whispering the entire song.
This is terrible. I can appreciate that this guy is psyched about having a kid, but I don't need to be beaten over the head with that while listening to a 7". I see from the By Default By Design Bandcamp page that this guy is working on a full length. I've never said this before, but please don't send it to me. You'll just waste a copy and money on postage. I don't want to listen to a full album of stuff like this. I appreciate you sending what you have, but I think at this point we should agree to disagree.
By Default By Design - Rise 7":
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Ghost Ramp (2016)
For starters, I ordered this months and months ago. I'm the sort of person who does enough pre-orders that I understand the delays that can happen, but I ordered and paid for this record in June and didn't get it until about a week ago. That's a little ridiculous and the label now has a monthly vinyl club subscription up for sale. Don't be surprised that I don't have a ton of faith in that one...
So as far as I'm concerned, this record came out in 2016, not 2015. When first reading about this collaboration between Wavves and Cloud Nothings, I was pretty intrigued. I like Wavves and I really loved the last Cloud Nothings record, so this was sure to be good right? Well, it is good, but that's all it is. In pooling their talents, for some reason Wavves and Cloud Nothings sort of cancel each other out and this collaboration isn't nearly as good as either band on their own.
In general they mostly sound like lesser Cloud Nothings throwaways. They don't have the oomph or the strong production that Cloud Nothings has and end up sounding a little murky. It's a short nine song record as is, plus two of the songs are just minute and a half instrumental noodling, so you really only get seven full songs. This record isn't bad and a couple of the songs are actually pretty good, but it ended up being a bit of a let down compared to what I know both bands are capable of.
Wavves x Cloud Nothings - S/T:
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Five-Five Hole (2015)
It's always interesting opening up a package of records that I didn't specifically order. When someone sends something for me to review, I've been sent more misses than hits, but I'm still always hopeful that something new is going to pop in and blow my mind. When you open the package and you see that the band in question is sporting ex-Mono Men, you tend to think there's a better than average chance that you've hit pay dirt this time.
This 7" is my first exposure to the DTs and if this 7" is any indication, this is a band I could get behind. The A-side "Dirty Jack" is a slow building, guitar chugging beast of a song. With the wailing vocals of Diana Young and the repetitious, but hard hitting guitar riff, it's a pretty good time. In many ways it reminds me a lot of a tougher Boss Hogg.
On the B-side we have "Restless." This is a cover of a song by the Cobras. The Cobras only released one single on Stax back in the 60's, but you'd be hard pressed to find anything that Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn touched that wasn't pretty stellar. The DTs version is a little meaner and a little louder, but every bit as fun and grooving.
The DTs - Dirty Jack 7":
Monday, January 18, 2016
Even though I wanted this record from the moment it was announced, from the get go I've been trying to contain any disappointment concerning this release. I knew from the second the track listing was revealed that this particular record would essentially just be the bonus tracks from the CD reissue of Slanted And Enchanted from 2002 on vinyl for the first time. And that is what it is, no more no less. Yet I'm still somehow a little let down.
I think the real tipping point for me was opening this guy up and seeing all the liner notes were still dated 2002. They refer to Slanted and Enchanted as being ten years old. I realize there probably aren't any new songs to add to this, but some new liner notes couldn't have been that hard, could it? All of this only matters if you bought the deluxe CD reissue back when it came out. If you didn't, why this record is essential my good friends. Early Drag City 7" tracks, some compilation rarities, Peel sessions and a live performance pack this double LP.
I could take or leave the live show. I've never been much of a live album or bootleg guy. But everything else is either a great song or just something fascinating to listen to in order to see where the band was at during this time frame. I'm admittedly much more eager to see what comes out in further volumes of this series. The rumor has it that everyone is aware this first volume is mostly just to give a vinyl release to these songs, but going forward there are more unreleased gems to share. We'll see how that goes, but at the end of the day this is Pavement. It's unlikely that I won't buy everything that comes out no matter what it is.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Self Released (2015)
I'll be honest, right about now I'm getting sick of reviewing tapes. Even though the last few (including today's) are ones that I actually bought myself, give me a slab of wax or even a CD any day over these dumb little things. Despite my cassette fatigue, this demo tape from Color T.V. is enough to shake some of my blues away.
I hunted down these guys while trying to find out what happened to the band W.H Walker. Those guys released a perfect LP and then just seemed to vanish. My quest (eventually) led me to the Color T.V. Bandcamp page where you can listen to the three songs on this release and order a copy of the tape. Never one to be satisfied with only having digital copies of songs, I of course plunked down for the cassette.
While Color T.V. doesn't quite have the same kind of free wheeling, house party stomp, good time vibe of W.H Walker, they have still managed to crank out three songs that I think are pretty incredible. The infectious vibe of W.H. Walker still exists in these songs, but they are a little more straight forward. You have a similar downstroke guitar action like The Marked Men or Chinese Telephones, but the hooks are filtered through a completely different lens.
I really, really dig this release and am hopeful to hear more from these guys as soon as possible. Someone should jump on Color T.V. and get some vinyl out ASAP.
Color T.V. - Demo 2015:
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Exit Stencil (2015)
This split was another tape that was released as part of Cassette Store Day. Luckily I didn't have to figure out what a cassette store was and go in search of it out in that cold, cruel world. I was able to pick it up from the website directly. I grabbed this and the Chomp cassette from yesterday within a day or two from each other.
Speaking of Chomp, I would discover when both tapes arrived the songs from Chomp on this split are both already on the Bruise Cruise cassette as well. My opinion of these two songs hasn't changed since yesterday. They're both pretty awful. After posting my review of the Chomp cassette yesterday I went back and re-listened to their older full length to see if I was giving them a hard time without reason. I can assure you I was not. The Buddha Jabba Mumma album is still fantastic, no clue what happened to these guys in the mean time.
Luckily on the flip side is Herzog. They have stayed true to the spirit of their last album and haven't disappointed me one bit. Their nearly ten minute long opus "Slow Days / Arizona" is just a fantastic little slab of great song writing. As the title suggests, it is essentially two different songs that are joined together by a little intermission meandering in the middle. Both sections of the song are stuffed with catchy guitar riffs, soaring harmonies and all of the early-Weezer-filtered-through-a-garage-band goodness that I've come to love about this band. I may be off Chomp at this point, but I am counting down the days until a new Herzog record.
Herzog / Chomp - Split Cassette:
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Mirror Universe (2015)
While I was initially bummed that this new Chomp release was only coming out on cassette, I was really excited to hear some new tunes out of these guys. Having been a huge fan of their 2012 Buddha Jabba Mumma I was eager to enjoy some fuzzy and catchy songs.
Somewhere between 2012 and the release of this new tape, there have been some big changes in Chomp. The pop has vanished. Where there was once hints of Superchunk and Wavves there is now a bunch of unnecessary yelling. The guitar work is muscular and loud, but the hooks that this band used to cram into every song have also disappeared without a trace. The biggest issue I have with this album is the total lack of singing. Even on the songs where they are not screaming for the entirety, the vocals have this odd talk-sing thing going on. Chomp has somehow gone from a band writing perfect pop songs to one that sounds like that crummy 'punk' band at high school shows that you tend to avoid.
Bruise Control is a huge disappointment for me. It's hard to reconcile how this could even be the same band as the one that released Buddha Jabba Mumma. Before listening to this album I figured my review would be full of pleas to put this out on vinyl, but having listened to it I don't think anyone should bother.
Chomp - Bruise Control:
Monday, January 11, 2016
I'm going to try to keep knocking out some of these cassettes I have lying around. Throughout the pages of this website, you'll see me saying how much I don't like the modern day cassette revival over and over again. I will say this about Here, I Made This For You: If there was ever an actual reason to make something a cassette only release, this is a pretty good one.
Released on Cassette Store Day (That's seriously the best name they could come up with? What the hell is a cassette store?) This tape is made up of five songs from other bands that Beach Slang has decided to cover. It's presented as an old school mix tape, something very near and dear to my heart. The band selection that they've decided to cover is great. They've tackled groups that are likely long forgotten by the vast majority of their fans like Best Kissers In The World, Ride, Dramarama, The Plimsoles and my personal favorite of the bunch Senseless Things.
The Beach Slang version of "Too Much Kissing" really is stellar. It's even better than the Travis Cut version of the song, which is quite the compliment coming from me. Beach Slang take it slow and steady and have made a really spot on version of the original. You could argue that maybe they should have taken some chances with this song to distinguish it a bit more than the original, but for me it's really the vocals than shine through here as they have an earnestness and sincerity to them that really makes this song.
This tape is labeled as "Volume 1"so hopefully this is something Beach Slang will revisit again in the future. If they're looking for songs, may I suggest some Mega City Four or Doughboys for volume 2?
Beach Slang - Here, I Made This For You:
Thursday, January 7, 2016
More Power Tapes (2015)
This is the last of the More Power Tapes releases that were sent to me and I saved the best for last. I've reviewed prior albums from Space Wolves on this website and if you've read those, you probably already know that I really dig these guys. Their fifth album V is no exception.
I really wish someone was putting these Space Wolves records out on vinyl. I'd certainly buy a copy. Heck, put them out on CD and I'd pick one up. Sadly all five Space Wolves records are confined to cassette tape hell, but that shouldn't dissuade you from giving these guys a shot.
Jangly, treble heavy guitar can be one of my favorite sounds in the world. It can be used in so many ways from the power pop of folks like Gentleman Jesse to the slower groove of a band like Silver Scooter. Space Wolves actually sit very nicely in the middle of those two bands, calling on each side of the spectrum throughout this record. You've got some uptempo fast and catchy burners and then there are a fewer that slow things down and take a more melodic approach. The band is equally successful at both.
I only have two negatives on this album. One isn't even really a negative as I think this tape is a little too short and I wish there was more to listen to. So that's more me being selfish than the band doing anything wrong. The other one is more of just a pet peeve of mine as there are quite a few songs that end with the song fading out. I couldn't tell you why that bugs me, but it's just one of those things that I don't like. Still, these criticisms are very minor and I really dig this as a whole. Keep it up guys.
Space Wolves - V:
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
More Power Tapes (2015)
Here we go, three more Cassettes form More Power Tapes:
Faculty Men - S/T - This is another one where I was hopeful based on the artwork, but this time I didn't end up being as into it as I hoped. Faculty Men is playing a dissonant sort of punk rock. If I had to guess, I think they might be trying for an early Unwound sort of vibe. They are using some of the thudding bass guitar, screeching guitars and odd transitions that remind my of Unwound, though vocally, the singer from Faculty Men isn't quite as dynamic. There's a lot of shouting and that takes away from the interesting guitar work these guys have.
Faculty Men - S/T:
Blobs - Shame - Six more songs from Blobs, who you probably remember from me not liking their first cassette yesterday. What I can say about Shame is that it's a bit better than their debut. The vocals aren't quite as monotone as they were on their first tape, but they are still the worst thing about this band. I think the music portion is kind of interesting. It's fast and dynamic; even catchy in some places, but I could never listen to this unless the singer changes something.
Blobs - Shame:
Found Drowned - Spooky Sounds - I was very please to find out that Found Drowned was another surf band. As far as More Power Tapes goes, in general they do much better with their surf bands than with their punk bands. At least as far as getting me to like the record goes. Like the Hamiltones, Found Drowned has something of a movie monster vide to it, though it's not as pronounced as the Hamiltones. You can tell these guys like their cult horror movies (the tape is called Spooky Sounds afterall), but they don't beat you over the head with it. Of all the surfy tapes in this recent batch, Found Drowned is my favorite.
Found Drowned - Spooky Sounds:
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
More Power Tapes (2015)
I'm going to keep trying to get through this cassette backlog I've got brewing, so here's three more tape reviews:
The Televisionaries - Freezing To Death - Of all the cassettes sent to me by More Power Tapes, this was the one I was most hopeful about. The band name and the art set it apart from everything else. Happily, I can report that this is pretty good. It's another instrumental surf band, though I would say much more straight ahead and less gimmicky than the Hamiltones tape More Power Tapes had sent also sent me. The tones are full of reverb and The Televisionaries bring a lot of energy to their songs. The recording could use a little help on the low end side of the sound spectrum, but this is fun stuff.
The Televisionaries - Freezing To Death:
Blobs - S/T - I wasn't expecting much from this Blobs cassette, but it's actually much better than I would have thought. I can't go so far as to call it good, because the vocals are awful and really kill this band dead. The music itself isn't so bad as the band is playing fuzzy, fast paced chords with some interesting change ups and a ragged garagey feel. I've never heard high pitched vocals like this that somehow still managed to sound monotone. Kind of weird.
Blobs - S/T:
Kharlos - Don't Think About Dying At My Party - This one is kind of interesting. It's one of the more full sounding recordings from this batch of tapes. I might be wrong, but I would bet these guys like The Blind Shake. They're not making the same sort of music really, but I get the sense that on some songs they are aiming for that kind of noisy, but still catchy chaos that Blind Shake does so well. Then again, parts of this just sound like the singer is trying to be in Jane's Addiction or in a power pop band, so what do I know. It's alright.
Kharlos - Don't Think About Dying At My Party:
Monday, January 4, 2016
More Power Tapes (2015)
I've said before that I don't get a lot of records sent to me to review. The vast majority of what I write are records I buy myself however I do get the occasional record sent to me and that's always fun. Every vinyl record that anyone ever sends me will always get reviewed. Always. I'm less excited about tapes, but I tend to get more tapes sent to me than records for some reason. It's probably due to the difference in cost in sending out a review copy, even though it's pretty much a lock that if you send me a tape I'll almost always write in the review that I really don't like cassettes (or tapes).
I've fallen a bit behind on these, mostly because the folks at the label More Power Tapes decided to send me this freaking gigantic pile of cassettes over the course of a few days several months ago. It's been a daunting pile to look at, but I'm going to do my best to go through as many as I can. I'll start with three for today.
Dudes - Ultra Vague - I decided to write these up in something of the order they appear on the label's Bandcamp page. I can't say I was super looking forward to this based on the artwork. It looks like the sort of crummy demo that a high school band would release. Still, I was somewhat optimistic when the first guitar riff kicked in on "Dudes Just Wanna Have Some Fun." That quickly faded when the vocals kicked in. There's far to much yelling on this tape for my tastes. To me, this is just kind of generic punk rock.
Dudes - Ultra Vague:
Cruelster - First Demo 2006 - Even though their tape is called First Demo 2006, there is a little note saying it was actually written and recorded in February of 2015. That's not as good of a joke as Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats album only having ten songs on it. This is a different strain of punk rock than Dudes. There's yelling, but not as much of it. The guitars are quieter and this is very much built on the rhythms of the bass guitar and some sort of end of song freak out. Again, I wouldn't say this is particularly inspired and it's not really the sort of thing I'd listen to.
Cruelster - First Demo 2006:
The Hamiltones - S/T - Last up for today is The Hamiltones with their self titled cassette. I'm not sure why, but I had higher hopes for this one than I did for the other two. Some of it was the artwork being less silly looking and part of it was the fact that I kind of dig the name. I try not to judge books and covers and all that, but sometimes I do end up being right. Turns out that The Hamiltones are a pretty fun instrumental surf band. They definitely have a Hex Dispenser-ish haunted house sort of vibe to them, but I can definitely get into a spooky sounding surf band. There's only six songs and two of them are under thirty seconds long, plus one of the remaining four is a cover of the Batman TV show theme. I actually wouldn't have minded this being a little long. Far and away the best of the three I've written about today.
The Hamiltones - S/T: