Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

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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"

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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"

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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

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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"

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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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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"

Untitled

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"

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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"

Untitled

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)

Untitled

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":

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ron Ron Clou - First Album LP

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2003)

While in Japan, my number one record shopping goal was to pick up the three Ron Ron Clou LPs.  I'm not sure why I set that as my top priority (aside from obviously wanting the records), but I ended up only finding one of the three.  This lit a fire under me to track down the other two at all costs.  For whatever reason, as soon as it seems like I can't have something, it just makes me want it even more.  Luckily I was able to find a kind soul on Discogs who not only had both LPs I was looking for, but was also based in America.  I managed to pick them up at a nice price and didn't have to pay for shipping them overseas.  Bonus.

Of the three Ron Ron Clou albums, I think First Album is the strongest.  It has a very clear Odd Number-esque mod-pop vibe. Cross that with some Vacant Lot style hooks and you've got an album I can really sink my teeth into.  I really love the little things about this album like the backing vocals and "oohs" in album opener "Annoying Kids Are" and the quick guitar riff wedged into the breaks of "It's Not Everything."  

I would have never heard of Ron Ron Clou if it weren't for the split 7" they did with Samantha's Favourite that came out on Snuffy Smile many years ago.  That may be why I especially gravitate to the song "Stage" which appears on this album, but was also on that split 7".  It's probably my favorite Ron Ron Clou song and I just can't get enough of the melody and energy the band has wrangled into it.  It was worth the wait tracking down this album.  It has been a long hunt, but finally being able to sit back and put it on the turntable is such a rewarding thing.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Color TV - Demo 7"

Untitled

Drunken Sailor (2016)

This 7" is the vinyl pressing of a demo tape I reviewed about a year and a half ago.  I'm pleased it was released on vinyl as I can only take so many cassettes in my life.  Although I did miss the colored variant, I was able to pick this up through a US distro.  Sometimes you have to weigh postage vs. colored wax I guess.  Postage won this battle.

The reason Color TV first came across my radar was because I was trying to find more information about the band W.H. Walker.  Sadly, they had split up, but Color TV is carrying on the tradition of creating good music, even though it's not particularly similar to WH Walker.  Color TV is a much more straightforward catchy punk band.  They remind me a bit of the Marked Men, but with a heavier lean on garage-y sounds and guitar leads.

The four songs on this 7" are all strong, with lots of fast paced, downstroke heavy riffs and upbeat choruses.  I'll admit to missing the party vide of W.H Walker, but judged on their own merits, Color TV is a tight little combo cranking out some big tunes.

Color TV - Demo 7":

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Treepeople - Guilt Regret Embarrassment Promo LP - Clear Vinyl

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Toxic Shock (1991)

This LP is another fun oddity I pulled from a friend's collection that he was downsizing.  I've had other versions of this album for quite some time.  Both the full artwork LP on Toxic Shock and the original CD version on Toxic Shock that had a bunch of extra songs from 7"s that weren't on the K records reissue.  As a lot of people did, I started trying to listen to Treepeople albums because I was a big Built To Spill fan.  What I've learned over the years is that Treepeople's output is more than enough to stand on its own.

I could make the argument that Guilt Regret Embarrassment is the best Treepeople album.  It certainly has the most upfront presence of Doug Martsch, but it also has two of my very favorite songs leading off this album.  "No Doubt" into "Andy Warhol" is the sort of one-two sonic punch that other bands would kill for.  Killer pop sensibilities mixed with ultra dynamic guitar work and blistering solos that never dip into feeling like self indulgent wanking.  

Those two songs on their own are reason enough to pick this album up, but the entire thing is packed with great songs.  Even simpler, straightforward punky songs like "Transitional Devices" have a little extra something that keeps them above the fray.  Just a great, great album.  This particular version seems to be a promo LP of some sort.  It's in a black DJ sleeve with little paper cutouts of the artwork glued on.  It does come on clear vinyl, which is a nice little treat as well.  I can't say I know too much about it and the internet isn't a ton of help, but it's a cool version to add to the collection.

Treepeople - "No Doubt":

Treepeople - "Andy Warhol":

Treepeople - "Transitional Devices":

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Jetpilot - Seven Songs EP CD

Untitled

Urban Sleep Discs (2008)

I've mentioned before that I met a bunch of wonderful people at the Waterslide/PopKid show that happened while I was in Tokyo.  One of the people I met was one of the guys in the band 2 Sick Worry (they played the show).  He was also in the band Plum and on top of that, does a record label called Urban Sleep Discs.  In addition to playing a great show with his band, he also gave me a few CDs from his label.  One of the CDs I got was this Jetpilot EP.

Jetpilot being from Sweden immediately got my attention.  There were so many amazing Swedish popcore bands in the late 90's, but it's a scene I haven't stayed as in touch with as I wish I did.  Had I stayed alert, I probably would have heard Jetpilot long before now as they are right up my alley.  They're more straightforward than a band like Starmarket, but they inhabit the same space.  Big on warm, distorted guitar and strained, but earnest vocals.  Some may call it emotional, but to me it's just another unique strain of pop music.

In particular, the opening song "Worst Reminder" bursts out of the gate and really sets the pace for the duration of the EP.  The guitars start off explosive, fade back a bit into some lead work for the verse and then come charging back in full force for the chorus.  It's a formula that's tried and true because when it's done right, there's no better sound to my ears.  Digging around the internet, it doesn't appear that Jetpilot is still together, but between this and a split CD I was also given (review of that coming soon), I've been made a huge fan of the band.  It again makes me wonder if there are other amazing bands in Sweden that I'm missing.  If you know of any, send them my way.

Jetpilot - Seven Songs EP (Full EP on YouTube.  I couldn't find any other songs online)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RVIVR - The Tide 7" - White Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Dead Broke (2017)

It's been a little bit since I had last heard from RVIVR.  I guess I just wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been as I missed a new 7" of theirs that coincided with a tour of Australia.  Luckily for me, the decision was made to also release the 7" on Dead Broke.  I was paying more attention to that announcement and was able to snag one of the limited to one hundred copies white vinyl versions.

Both songs are just outstanding.  "The Tide" kicks off with a quick lead guitar riff and then blasts into the verse.  Fast paced, chugging guitars with vocal harmonies and sing along hooks.  Everything I want from RVIVR amplified to ten.  B-side "Shaggy" is just as ferocious with jagged guitar chords and impassioned vocals.  

Both songs are among the very best the band has ever released. There is mention on the Dead Broke website that RVIVR is also working on an upcoming full length.  If this 7" is any hint of how great that album is going to be, it could be the best one yet.

RVIVR - The Tide 7":

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Boilerman - Doing Great 7"

Untitled

86'd / All In Vinyl (2015)

This 7" sort got lost in the shuffle with some other records sent to me for review.  It may sound silly, but my record piles still feel pretty disheveled since my Japan trip.  It sort of feels like I'll never be able to catch up.  I will try however, so today let's talk about this Boilerman 7".

I've reviewed two other Boilerman releases, though this 7" seems to be older than the other two.  I've said a few times that Boilerman is a band that's trying to mask their catchy hooks in some fuzzy yelling.  The three songs on this 7" are much more straightforward and I may actually like them the most of anything I've heard from the band.

Sure, things get a little crazy about halfway through "Doing Great," but that's only after the band has established a nice little guitar riff into palm mute verse with vocals that reming me a bit of middle era Plow United.  "We're The Worst" is a crunchy blast of guitars and even their Warren Zevon cover of "The Factory" hits all the right notes.  Boilerman are a consistently good band to check out, especially if you're in the mood for something a little louder.

Boilerman - Doing Great 7":

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sicko - Chef Boy R U Dumb CD (Japanese Version)

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Real Cool (1995)

I don't think that the phrase 'pop-punk' meant quite the same thing in 1995 as it does today.  It certainly didn't have the sort of negative connotations that some people associate with the genre.  But I think that most agree that the mid 1990's was a different time and a different place.  Back then you would hear people extolling the virtues of Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Green Day and the Mr. T Experience.  But for me, my holy trinity of 1990's pop-punk would be the aforementioned Mr. T Experience, Zoinks! and at times the best of them all, Sicko.

I've had the American version of this record since the very moment it came out in 1995.  I remember counting down the days until it showed up at my local record store.  I loved it from day one.  So it's kind of cheating to write about it here and now on my website where I'm documenting recent purchases.  Although, since this is the Japanese version and I did just get it from a friend that was downsizing his physical record collection, I'll use it as an excuse to tell everyone that if they don't already own this album, they should fix that oversight immediately.

I go back and forth on if this is my favorite Sicko album, of if it's Laugh While You Can Monkey Boy.  Let's just agree that both are pretty spectacular.  Chef Boy R U Dumb is packed full of gleeful and catchy punk rock, highlighted by some songs that are among the best Sicko ever churned out like "Obsessive Compulsive Complainers," "The Dateless Losers" and "Escalator."  

The Japanese version of this release has a couple of bonus tracks (and the fancy obi strip seen in the picture). "80 Dollars" is originally from the Sicko split 7" with the Mr. T Experience.  You could definitely argues it's one of the top two or three songs in the band's catalog.  The other is exclusive to this CD, "The Rainy Day Song." This one is similar to "The Breakfast Song" in that it's just guitar, undistorted, and Ean crooning his heart out.  Essential? Probably not, but a fun little bonus added on top of an already stellar album. No matter which version of this album you pick up, it is a pretty essential piece of the 90's that everyone should have.

Sicko - "Escalator":

Sicko - "The Dateless Losers":

Sicko - "Obsessive Compulsive Complainers":

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Charly Bliss - Guppy LP

Untitled

Barsuk (2017)

I was trying to think of the last time I bought a record on Barsuk.  I think it may have been the Dismemberment Plan Emergency and I vinyl reissue.  But if we're talking about a Barsuk original, it may go all the way back to the first Death Cab For Cutie record.  I don't know if there's a specific reason, but I never seemed to get as moved by their releases as a lot of other folks do.  That changes with Charly Bliss.

Flat out, this is my absolute favorite record of the year so far.  Nothing else has grabbed me with the sort of immediacy that Guppy has.  It's essentially a perfect album.  That Dog crossed up with Weezer?  Kind of.  The Rentlas meets Cub? Closer.  Ultimately, Charly Bliss have crafted a picture perfect pop album.

Peppy vocal melodies mixed with crunchy guitars producing the sort of choruses most bands would die for.  On "Glitter," when Eva Hendricks belts out "Am I the best/or just the first person to say yes" it's just the best hook of the year.  Some lyrics can stray to the goofy side of the spectrum (wait until you hit the trampoline song), but in general they come across as sly and playful with a knowing, self deprecating wink.

Every song on Guppy is steeped in the sort of dynamic 1990's guitar pop that I've always loved.  You can hear bits of Fig Dish, maybe a dash of Treble Charger mixed in with a little Superdrag for good measure.  All of the best parts of all of the best bands stirred together into one perfect album.  It's been a while since a new band knocked my socks off the way Charly Bliss has.  I've been listening to this album nonstop since I got it and with summer coming up, I expect it to keep dominating my turntable.  It's just that kind of record.

Charly Bliss - Guppy:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kpants - Charmless CD

Untitled

Grinning Idiot (1994)

This is a weird one.  I've known about and listened to Kpants since the mid 90's when discovering them on a compilation called I-5 Killers.  I have both of their 7"s and I've been listening to this album for years.  Yet somehow, I didn't have a copy of this record.  I don't know how that's possible.  I'm not sure if I'm the only one that has issues with their record collection eating albums and having them disappear forever, but that sure seems to happen to me from time to time.  Anyway, I've added this back to the collection, so I figured I'd write up a bit about them as they're a band that definitely didn't get their due.

The funniest part about Kpants is that I was, at first, completely infuriated they existed.  Why? They stole the band name I wants to use in high school.  It's from an episode of the show Get A Live, when Chris gets food poisoning, suddenly becomes an amazing speller and finally realizes that the word pants doesn't have a silent K at the beginning.  I couldn't believe someone else decided to use that.  But after I got past my initial frustration I came to realize what a quality band Kpants really is.

They have a crunchy guitar sound, not unlike an early era Small or similarly poppy Chapel Hill style band.  They don't go as far our there as an Archers of Loaf, but they have the same sort of gruff vocal tendencies and dynamic hooks.  They're just a bit more straightforward, again kind of like Small (or Small 23 if you prefer).  I could honestly do with out the slow ballady "She's Got You," but aside from that one song, the album is just loaded with fuzzed out rockers.  

It's a worthy addition to the collection of any self respecting, aging indie rocker.  I read somewhere that the band's unreleased 2nd album was finally going to be released, but that was posted a few years ago and I haven't seen anything since.  Anyone else know anything about that?

Kpants - Charmless (YouTube playlist):

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Dirtbombs / Soledad Brothers - Split 7" - Green Vinyl (#61/100)

Untitled

Cass (2016)

First and foremost, I have to send out a gigantic thank you to my friend @skot1107 as I would not have this record if not for his kindness.  On New Year's eve this past year The Dirtbombs and Soledad Brothers played a show in Detroit at a venue called The Magic Stick.  There, and only there, could you buy this split 7".   It was limited to 100 copies and Scott was a wonderful person and picked up a copy for me as he was at the show.

Soledad Brothers are a band that I remember from my days working in the music biz.  I'm fairly confident I worked with one of their records at some point, but I honestly don't really remember.  So many of those records are just a blur.  Anyway, their contribution to the split is a slow and funky, yet rootsy song called "Human Race Blues."  It has a bluesy charm to it and is a good listen, but honestly it doesn't really blow me away.  It's a good song, but not the sort of thing that would make me run out and buy a bunch of their records.

For me the main attraction is the Dirtbombs.  They are a band that I like more often than I don't, but they have enough weird stuff out there that I've never really gone all in on them.  Though it appears that their contribution to the split, "Kick Me," is also available on another 7" of theirs, this was the first time I've heard it.  It's definitely one of their better songs.  The soulful groove of the bass and drums churn forward with the fuzzed out guitar leading the way.  It's got a big sing along chorus and I feel like I would have all of The Dirtbombs records if they all sounded like this.  Or if they sounded like the Ooey Gooey Chewy Kablooey LP.  I love that one too.

The Dirtbombs - Kick Me:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Practice / What-A-Night's - Split 7"

Untitled

Imomushi (2016)

This was the first record that I bought when I went record shopping in Tokyo.  I picked it up in the Disk Union that was in Nakano by Nakano Broadway.  I will admit to being a little overwhelmed when I first started looking around in that store.  Luckily I was greeted by two familiar faces when this 7" popped up.

The Practice is a band who have a bunch of 7"s on Snuffy Smile that I really like.  They also have a few CDs that are not on Snuffy Smiles.  I have one of those, but the others have been a bit more elusive and I've not been able to pick up any more of the band's albums.  The end result is I'm not quite as familiar with The Practice as I would like, but even that didn't really prepare me for the sounds coming out of my speakers one I started playing their side of the 7".  "Fiasco" is a straight up 70's-80's style ska song.  It's old school for sure and it's not going to remind you of Less Than Jake or anything like that.  It's more in line with The Specials.  I can't say it's my favorite thing I've ever heard by The Practice.  I was expecting the sort of wound up pop as their older records.  I have a feeling it's a one off rather than a new direction, but I'm not really sure.  I guess I'll need more of their records.

What-A-Night's, on the other hand, dish up exactly what I want from them.  Two songs of poppy and catchy guitar rock.  Their first song "Rude Awakening" reminds me a lot of The Stereo, especially in the way the vocals soar in the chorus.  Their second song, "Man In Collapse" is actually my favorite song on the whole 7".  It has really dynamic guitar work, reminiscent of bands long gone like Pollen.  Lots of chord progression changes and searing lead guitar.  Not a bunch of wanky solos, but really good and intricate lines laid over the entire song.  Really good stuff.  Their last full length was quite a while ago at this point.  I hope the band is working on some more new tunes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Blotto - Life Dances On CDEP

Untitled

Anti-New Waves (2003)

Blotto was one of those quintessentially great Snuffy Smile bands.  Over the course of a few years they cranked out a slew of wonderful 7"s and later compiled them all onto an LP.  For whatever reason the songs on this EP, their first release, weren't included on that compilation.  So thanks to record shopping in Tokyo, I was able to get two new Blotto songs into my collection.

Blotto always had a place in my heart as the boozier, Japanese cousins of Dillinger Four.  Blotto was a little rougher around the edges, but could pack a shout along chorus into any song.  Their wizardry with these hooks always impressed me as sometimes it would seem that they were starting to slip down a path that would lead to some shouty hardcore, but they'd always save the song last minute and keep things nice and catchy.

The two songs on this CD are early example of their songwriting prowess.  "Action" starts off as a mid tempo rocker with all the right singalong moments you'd expect, until the drums kick in at a thousand miles an hour and the songs just blazes through from there.  "Otherwise" is a more straight forward tempo-wise.  It has all the makings of a classic pub sing along with gruff choruses and chunky palm mutes.  Two great songs by one of the best Japanese bands that was putting out records in the mid 2000's.  I wish they were still putting out records.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ruby - S/T One Sided 12" - Clear Vinyl w/ Screen Print

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Stencil Trash (2016)

When I picked up the Ruby 7" that I reviewed a few weeks ago, I also grabbed the band's self titled 12" EP as well.  This one sided 12" comes on clear vinyl with a splotchy blue screen print on the side with no music.  Since the vinyl is clear, you can see the print on both sides.  It's a neat gimmick that I've enjoyed in the past, but in this case it goes particularly well with the similarly splotchy screen printed artwork.  A nice package.

The music on this 12" is the same as found on Ruby's first demo.  I'm always a fan of making sure there's a vinyl version of everything, so I'm glad this decision was made.  I'll have to say that the songs are not quite as strong as the ones that are on the Ruby 7".  To me, that seems to be a recording quality issue more than anything else.  Things sound a little muffled on the 12", but even that can't hide the fact that ruby is cranking out some great songs.

The remind me a lot of what Red Dons would sound like if you took away their distortion.  Ruby also sounds quite a bit like the two bands that preceded them, Idle Hands and Blank Pages.  Both of those bands were incredible, so I have no issue at all with a similar sound to them.  Fast, catchy and jangly is the order of the day on this Ruby EP.  While it may not be essential on its own, I feel like it will end up being an important piece in the overall picture of this band.  I, for one, can't wait for a full length and some more tunes from these Berlin punk rockers.

Ruby - Ruby One Sided 12":

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Heavy Heart - Distance LP - Clear w/ Black Splatter (/500)

Untitled 

Brassneck / Can I Say / Don't Trust The Hype / Guerilla Asso / Inhumano / Monster Zero (2017)

Heavy Heart hails from France and they are a band that I wasn't familiar with before I started seeing them mentioned by Brassneck records.  As Brassneck is one of those labels that I trust, I picked this album, up along with a couple of other things in a recent order.  I was starting to feel like 2017 was turning into a lackluster year for new music, but Heavy Heart has given this year the kick in the pants it has so desperately needed.

The band that instantly comes to mind as a comparative touchstone for Heavy Heart is Banner Pilot.  I hear similar vocal inflections with just the right amount of sandpaper delivery coupled with a tight powerful guitar attack.  I would say that Heavy Heart leans more melodic than Banner Pilot, but that's a lean that just makes me like the band even more.

You have your sing along group vocals, slick transitions into palm mutes and raucous choruses.  It's just a fun, engaging listen start to finish.  Even though it was released by six labels, I don't think any of them were in the US, so you may have to dig around through some reputable distros or grab one from overseas.

Heavy Heart - Distance:
https://brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/heavy-heart-distance

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Scaries - Over You CD

Untitled

Fab Del Ray (1998)

Over You is a terrifying record to be almost twenty years old.  It just doesn't feel possible, but sure enough, it was nineteen years ago that I first heard it.  I got this record right when it was released, but a couple of years later I traded it to friend in Japan.  Probably for some Snuffy Smile records, but honestly I can't remember.  I figured it would be much easier for me to grab another copy of this CD.  I was wrong, I never came across another copy.

All these years later, I'm happy to say it's back in the fold after a friend of mine decided to get rid of his records.  I was only too happy to grab both Scaries CDs while digging through everything.  These songs still sound as fresh and exciting as the first time I heard them.  It's a melodic strain of pop punk that owes equal debts to Superchunk and to Walker.  The guitar work is punchy, with palm mutes and stutter steps in the right places and big catchy choruses.

The vocals are of a higher pitch with lots of great backing harmonies.  There's something so quintessentially 90's about this record.  Not in a way that feels dated, but in a way that reminds you that this is an overlooked classic of the era.  An album that deserves another chance to be heard by the masses.  It's tough to come by these days, but it's definitely worth the hunt.

Scaries - Over You:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCaUXl1pKZA
(I don't usually like linking to YouTube pages where the whole album is dumped as 1 file, but it's the only thing I can find out in the wild.  The Scaries should set up a Bandcamp page.  If anyone knows them, tell them to do that.)

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Odd Numbers - A Guide To Modern Living LP - Picture Disc

Untitled

Dolores (1997)

When A Guide To Modern Living came out I was already a gigantic fan of The Odd Numbers due to their prior record Jazz Cigarettes.  I played that one to death and was really eager to add another record to the collection.  Well, technically it was a CD at the time, but you get the idea.  For whatever reason, A Guide To Modern Living just didn't resonate with me the same way.  I never listened to it much and eventually sold away my copy during one of my CD prunings of the mid 2000's.

When a friend of mine was unloading the last of his record collection, I perused to see if there was anything I needed before the inevitable sale.  He had a copy of A Guide To Modern Living, so I decided to give it another shot.  I'm glad I did as I like it a lot more now than I did the first time I listened to it twenty years ago.

I will contend that the highs are still not as high as the ones on Jazz Cigarettes.  There's certainly no song that is the caliber of "So Many Girls," but Modern Living has its own charms, despite some missteps that are probably the reasons I didn't like it when I first listened to it.  The pace is quick and the songs are the sort of bouncy mod that you'd expect from the Odd Numbers for the first few songs.  It's really what they're best at.  From their things do start to meander.  You've got weirdly arranged songs like "Clubbin'" an even weirder dub version of it called "Dubbin'" and probably more acoustic numbers than should be around.

While the slower songs just don't hit, the faster, poppier ones land every single time.  I can even appreciate the lesser songs more now within the context of the album.  Sure there's a few strange detours, but as a whole, it's a solid listen.  

The Odd Numbers - A Guide To Modern Living (You Tube playlist):