Thursday, May 25, 2017

Boilerman - Doing Great 7"


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)


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


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


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)


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"


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


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


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)


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:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Scaries - Over You CD


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:
(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


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):

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Adult Magic - Collide 7" - Orange Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke / Drunken Sailor (2017)

When you have a band that starts up with a bunch of folks who play or used to play in other bands, a lot of times you can go into a record with a set of expectations that might not be fair to the new project.  In the case of Adult Magic, I was somewhat drawn in by the "members of Iron Chic" tag line, though to be honest I check out everything on Dead Broke and Drunken Sailor as they're two labels that I tend to implicitly trust.

The point here is that I think I went into this expecting a band that kind of sounded like Iron Chic and Adult Magic doesn't really, to their benefit. To me, Adult Magic completely stands on their own as a great band that have cobbled together four pretty killer songs.  There are parts of songs that remind me a bit of Seaweed with the loud dynamic guitars, but mingled in with a gruff, Beach Slang meets Hot Water Music style of punk rock.

It's an interesting combination that keeps the songs catchy and delivers a a unique spin on a familiar sound.  It's a strong debut and I would definitely check out the next record these guys put out.

Adult Magic - Collide 7":

Monday, May 1, 2017

Odd Numbers - I Am One 7" - Brown Vinyl


Dolores (1997)

Odd Numbers Monday is back and this time we have a 7" from the 1997 Dolores records singles club.  I didn't join said club back in '97, but I do have experience hunting down a record from it before.  One of my all time favorite bands is Starmarket.  They put out a 7" called Nailbox as part of this club.  My actual memory of where I finally found a copy is somewhat hazy, I think it might have been on back when that was still a thing (I found a lot of cool records there in the earlier days of the internet). But I remember frantically trying to find a copy as I couldn't have that hole in my Starmarket collection.

This Odd Numbers 7" from the same club was substantially easier to find on Discogs, though I did also buy it twenty years after it came out.  The songs themselves hold a unique distinction as ones that only appear on this 7" and didn't wind up on a full length at a later point.  Based on the release date, it is easy to identify these as being from the same time period as the A Guide To Modern Living album, though you'd never know that by listening to the record.

A side "I Am One" is a slow acoustic song that seems to be borrowing from folk rockers of the past than the usual mod underpinnings that the Odd Numbers are more known for.  You keep waiting for the song to kick in, but it never does.  B side "Move On Up" fairs a little better as the band is plugged in at least.  But again, the song doesn't really go anywhere and the tropicalia style drum accompaniment sounds kind of silly, to be honest.  I'm not exactly sure what the band was thinking with this one but it's pretty unlike anything else they ever released and it's simply not very good.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Summerman - Temperature Is... LP (/200)


KiliKiliVilla (2015)

One of the most amazing times I've ever had was at the PopKid/Waterslide show that happened while I was in Japan.  I've written about it over the course of some of the reviews I've done since I've been back.  This album is another direct result of that show.  While there I was able to meet so many wonderful people who were in bands I already admired and some who were in bands I hadn't previously heard of.  One of those bands I hadn't heard of before was Summerman.

A very kind fellow was nice enough to give me a Summerman live cassette.  While I haven't written about that yet, I will be in the future.  But that cassette inspired me to dig around for some more information about Summerman and I found out that not only had they released a full album, but it was actually on vinyl too.  I picked up a copy right away.

Temperature Is... quite simply is wonderful.  I absolutely love this record.  It's exactly the sort of thing I like to listen to.  The bulk of the album is breezy guitar pop with jangly guitars and lots of harmonies in the choruses.  There are parts of songs that remind me of the song structures of Beezewax but with a fuzzy dose of Superchunk tacked on for good measure.

The entire album is fantastic, but the true peak is a song called "青春" (On the band's Bandcamp page it's called "Youth" and Google translate comes up with the same thing when I type in 青春).  To put it plainly, this is one of the best songs I have heard in a long, long time.  I can't think of many songs that I love as much as this one.  From the way the guitars slowly build up at the beginning, to the main lead guitar riff blasting in, to the impassioned vocals that get even fuller and more dynamic as the song progresses, I love every single second.  I don't say this often, but "青春" is an absolutely perfect song.  Perfect.

A friend in Japan said the band is working on some new songs and I couldn't be happier.  I really want to hear as much as possible from Summerman, a great, great band.  

Seriously, go listen to "青春" right now.

Summerman - Temperature Is...:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jim and the French Vanilla - Afraid of the House LP - Yellow Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2017)

Jim and the French Vanilla is a spin off project by Jim Blaha, more famously known as one half of the Blind Shake's Blaha brothers.  Those boys in the Blink Shake have stockpiled so much good will with me over the last few years that it was a no brainer to pick this up.  I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting from this, something a little more poppy and traditional I think, but Afraid of the House defied my expectations.

I guess the most surprising aspect of this album to me is how much it sounds like pieces of the Blind Shake.  The jagged downstroke guitars are there as are the otherworldly solos and the drowned surfer vibe that has been creeping in on their more recent records.  These comparisons aren't complaints.  If anything, I'm kind of happy to have something with a similar vibe to Blind Shake to listen to.

I think where Afraid of the House really stands on its own is how varied it is within the context of the world it has created for itself.  Yes, most of the songs have signature sounds and tones that are consistent from song to song, but there is a lot of variety on this album.  You've got a faster paced rockers like "I'm Just Sitting Here," slowed down ones like "Not Even War" and frantic pounding on songs like "I Have to Slow Down."  It is the very definition of a good record.  I like all of the song and it's just something that's fun to listen to.  It is missing that certain something that would make it a drop dead great album, but it's absolutely worth checking out.

Jim and the French Vanilla - Afraid of the House LP:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Smalltown - Stuck 7"


Dull (2000)

Sorry about missing yesterday, it was one of those days where I just woke up and didn't feel like writing.  I was going to write about another Odd Numbers 7", but now it's Tuesday, so I'll just save it for next Monday.  Today I have another 7" from the same batch of records I bought on Discogs, the first Smalltown 7"

This band crept onto my radar the way a lot of bands do, they released some records on Snuffy Smile.  The big one of which was a singles compilation called The First Three Years.  All of the songs from this 7" also appeared on that CD, but it took nearly fifteen years to finally track down the 7".  Now truthfully I'm not going to pretend that I was scouring the globe nonstop every day looking for this record, but I always had my eye out for it, hopeful to score a copy.

The songs are among my favorite that Smalltown released.  I'll always be partial to that first CD of theirs that I picked up.  They have a way of merging a bouncy mod sound like The Jam or even The Odd Numbers at times with a grittier punkier rock that made them fit in on the Snuffy Smile roster.  It's the right mix of catchy and gruff and I'm pretty excited to add this one to the piles.  From the same order I also grabbed another 7" that appeared on that comp CD, so I'll post that one soon as well.

Smalltown - "Stuck":

Smalltown - "One Day At A Time":

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dulac - Must Be You 7"


Access X Denied (2013)

A few years ago, Dulac put out a fantastic record called The First of the Last Chords.  It was a hit and I've been waiting to hear more from them.  Oddly enough it ended up being an older 7" of theirs that I didn't know existed that recently came across my radar.  Released in 2013, this four song 7" appears to be the vinyl version of the band's first cassette release.

If nothing it's a reminder of what a fierce and energetic band this is.  Channelling bands like Red Dons or early Estranged, they have the fast and melodic downstroke wizardry down pat.  But you really need to mix that with the pop sensibilities of a band like Statues to have a clearer picture of what Dulac brings to the table.  Each of the 4 songs on this 7" are just perfect; they've fast, loud and catchy - just how I want my music to sound.

A day or two after I bought this record, I stumbled across another newer Dulac 7" that had been released.  That one has been ordered and is on its way to me as well.  Look for that soon and hopefully the band is working up on a follow up full length.  I know I will buy it immediately.

Dulac - Must Be You 7":

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Clearance - Are You Aware 7"


Tall Pat (2016)

The elephant in the room about Clearance is that it's virtually impossible to write about them without at least making a passing reference to Pavement.  I'm sure there will come a day (if it hasn't already come) that the guys in Clearance will get pretty sick of that comparison. For now it's still an apt reference point, especially for those that may not have yet heard of this wonderful band.

What really makes Clearance stand out is the breezy way they cruise through their songs while still projecting a laid back intensity that lets you know they're not just going through the motions.  The churning guitars in A-side "Are You Aware" propel the song forward.  It lurches into a screechy and jagged guitar solo before jumping right back on track, only to be derailed by a sleepy, but absolutely perfect, mellowed outro.

On the B-side "Owner/Operator" the vibe is a more laid back as the vocals glide over jangly chord progressions.  Things come to a head with the hooky chorus full of noodling guitar dynamics and a super catchy melody.  The download that comes with this 7" gives two additional bonus tracks.  Both are nice, but neither are on the 7".  It's good to have more songs from these guys, but I do hope they end up on wax at some point.

Clearance - Are You Aware 7":

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

J Church - Arbor Vitae LP


Rugger Bugger (1995)

Where to begin with J Church?  I guess I'll start by saying I was never really all that impressed with them way back when.  I had Camels, Spilled Coronas and the Sound of Mariachi Bands and I thought it was OK.  I went to see them play a show at the Pipeline in Newark, NJ and thought they were pretty good.  Over the years I've accumulated about a dozen J Church split 7"s, all bought for the band on the other side of the record.  It's not that I didn't like them, but nothing ever struck me as special and there seemed to be a lot of filler.

Let's not even start on how completely freaking intimidating their discography is.  I don't know if it would ever be possible to track it all down, so I was content just letting them exist in the background.  Then enter my buddy Alan who wanted to learn and play a J Church cover in the pseudo band we mess around with every so often.  He sent me the song "Racked."  Hot damn what a great song and it totally opened my eyes to the possibility that I've been overlooking these guys.

I picked up Arbor Vitae as it's the album with "Racked" on it.  The fact that the vinyl version came out on Rugger Bugger, an all time favorite label, just made it easier to pick up when I was digging around on on Discogs. I can't stress what a great song this is.  Chugging palm mutes in the right places, big catchy chorus and even some harmonics in the very brief guitar solo.  It's just a blast of sugary 1990's pop punk and I love it.  It's the clear highlight on the album, but everything on the record is really strong, especially the A side with "Cigarettes Kill," "Drinking Down" and "Your Shirt" really standing out as killer songs.  

This album is certainly not the sort of thing that would make me try to hunt down the entire J Church catalog.  I know that's a silly idea with my prior experiences with the band, but Arbor Vitae has opened my eyes and I'm certainly up for checking out some more of their albums if anyone out there has recommendations.

J Church - "Racked":

J Church - "Drinking Down":

J Church - "Cigarettes Kill":

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Odd Numbers - Thrift Shoppin' 7"


Sessions (1999)

I am getting closer to wrapping up the pile of Odd Numbers 7"s I recently picked up.  This is a later era one that came out of Sessions records.  Like many of their 7"s, you can also find these two songs on a full album as well, this time the songs are also on The Trials And Tribulations Of The Odd Numbers.  That's a record of theirs I'l admittedly not familiar with.  I don't own it and honestly, I didn't even know it was out there.  It'll have to be a pick up at some point.

That being said, for the first time I've been writing about The Odd Numbers both songs on this 7" are new to me.  "Thrift Shoppin'" is a pretty standard fast paced Odd Numbers songs.  Building over a bass line that rises and falls, it has a bit of a bouncy break before the hooky chorus kicks in.  A strong song for sure, even if the 'oohs' in the chorus sound a little silly.  

B-side "Dee Major Tom" is a bit choppier, though still retains the mod vibe that really is the hallmark of The Odd Numbers.  The song isn't much shorter than "Thrift Shoppin'" but for some reason it feels like it blows by so quickly.  I can't say that either of these really rank with my all-time favorite Odd Numbers songs, but both are respectable entries into their catalog.

The Odd Numbers - "Thrift Shoppin'":

The Odd Numbers - "Dee Major Tom":

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hero Dishonest - Liha Ja Teräs LP


Peterwalkee (2016)

Over the past few months, I've received a few records to review.  Not too many, but a handful that I haven't really spent much time with as my record collection is still swelling from the influx of all the great Japanese records I bought in Tokyo.  Those, plus some excess older 90's things I picked up from one of my buddies and I've just had a lot on my plate.  I'm going to make a conscious effort to try to get caught up and this Hero Dishonest LP is my first attempt.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to say about this record.  It's one of those head scratchers that make me wonder why it was sent to me.  It's loud, fast, screaming hardcore from Finland.  Is it good hardcore or bad hardcore?  I don't know that I'm really qualified to say as I just don't like this sort of punk rock.  You have your punk, I have mine.

I'm pretty sure the lyrics are in Finnish, though they could be Swedish or even English and I still don't think I'd have any idea what the band was talking about.  Whatever it is, they sure seem upset about something.  I don't know.  Take a listen if you like this sort of thing, but it just gives me a headache.

Hero Dishonest - Liha Ja Teräs:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ruby - Deadlock 7"


Rockstar (2017)

I was pretty excited to stumble across this Ruby 7" (along with a one-sided 12" that I'll be writing about soon enough).  Ruby is fronted by Andi, who was also in favorites of mine like Blank Pages and Idle Hands.  I was bummed when each of those previous bands split up, so it was good to see a new project come forward.  The best part?  Ruby essentially sounds the same as Blank Pages, who pretty much sounded the same as Idle Hands as well.

I realize that's a sloppy comparison, particularly as one of the songs has a completely different singer and there are a lot more backing vocals and harmonies than either of Andi's previous bands.  The truth is I love all three as they bring the sort of fast paced, jangly guitar sort of power pop that I go crazy for.  Imaging the hooks and downstroke madness of the Marked Men, but peel away the guitar distortion and you've sort of got Ruby.

I did have to order this and the 12" from overseas, so the cost is a bit higher when you factor in postage, but this is definitely one of the better 7"s I've heard this years.  It's worth picking up and I hope that I'll be hearing more from Ruby very soon.

Ruby - Deadlock 7":

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Egotrunk - Letter CDEP


Nodevans (2005)

I've said before that I was very lucky to have Kazu from Waterslide records as a guide while record shopping in Tokyo.  For starters, he was invaluable helping to find some of the stores that were off the beaten path.  But where he really became indispensable was in the stores themselves, helping find things and recommending a slew of albums I would never have bought otherwise.  Egotrunk was one of his selections.

I'd never heard of the band prior to Kazu handing me this CD, but I was taken by the artwork right away.  The CD comes in a small envelope and the art itself is printed on a piece of transparent paper, the kind your teacher would have used on an overhead projector in the eighth grade in 1991.  It's a striking little package that really grabs your eye.  But once you've opened the envelope, it's the music that grabs your attention.

Starting things off is a slower instrumental intro song.  It's weaves and drifts through gently played guitar and reminds me quite a bit of Boys Life.  Once the rest of the songs kick in, the volume goes up.  There's still a bit of a 90's emo vibe to things, again with Boys Life being a good comparison, but that mixes with loud stuttering guitar riffs and catchy vocal melodies.  Nothing about this is the sort of mopey complaining a lot of people think of when you typically drop the "E" word.  This is much more akin to the sort of punchy songs you'd expect from Eversor or Rusty James.

Perusing the internet, it looks like Egotrunk have at least one more CDEP as well as a split that I'm going to have to track down.  If those songs are as good as these, it'll be worth the hunt.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Odd Numbers - Easy Life 7"


Detour (1995)

I've still got a few more Odd Numbers 7"s to get through, so there's several more Mondays dedicated to their records coming up.  Today we have The Easy Life, a 7" of theirs from 1995.  I bought this one on Discogs along with a handful of other records a couple of weeks ago, mostly looking to fill holes in my collection.

The two songs on this 7" also make appearances on the Odd Numbers album A Guide To Modern Living.  When it came out, I was kind of disappointed in that album.  I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked Jazz Cigarettes so I honestly didn't listen to it all that often.  In fact, I didn't even end up keeping the CD of it as I must have sold it off during one of the purges of my CD collection.  Listening to it again, as I've gotten older, I actually like it a lot more than I did back then. 

The versions of the songs on this 7" are different than the album version.  Both seem a little muddier with a bit more fuzz and distortion on the guitars.  In particular, "The Easy Life" is a toe tapper and I find myself bobbing my head along to it as I listen.  But the version on the album is much cleaner and catchier.  "Clubbin'" is a little longwinded and meandering for me.  It's not really the Odd Numbers' best work if I'm being honest.  Still I wanted to lock down all of the Odd Numbers 7"s, so this was one that needed to be added to the pile.

The Odd Numbers - "The Easy Life":

The Odd Numbers - "Clubbin'":

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Crocodile God - Two Days 12"


Big Fella (1994)

You may remember several months ago I reviewed the 7" version of this single.  That was a really big deal to me as it had been at the very, very top of my wants list for nearly twenty years.  I always put more emphasis on finding the 7" version of this release, but I knew that in time, I'd need to hunt down the 12" version as well.

I first heard of Crocodile God from the Best Punk Rock In England, Man compilation compiled by Sean from Rugger Bugger and released on Snuffy Smile records.  That is also where I first heard of this release as in the liner notes Sean had mentioned the pressing plant did the second pressing of the 7" as a 12" by mistake.  At least I assume it was supposed to just be a repressing of the 7", though maybe Mark "Guitar" Murphy can chime in with the rest of the story. Regardless, a variant was born and while it has been an interesting hunt over the years, it's pretty satisfying to finally have both in the collection.

My opinion of the songs remains the same as the 7" review.  Not as fully realized as their next few 7"s, but solid songs that are on the buzzsaw side of UK punky pop.  I also still think the "Oi oi's" are kind of funny in "Kamarrah."  But more than anything, I'm just thrilled to own this piece of my punk rock history.  Croc God has a new split 7" out as well.  That is currently making its way across the ocean to me, so you'll be hearing more from them soon enough.

Crocodile God - "Kamarrah":

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shipyards - Night of Fire CD


Waterslide (2013)

Night of Fire is another album I picked up while in Japan.  before the trip I had been listening to the first Shipyards album About Lights quite a bit.  If you read the review I did of that album, you'll know that I absolutely loved it.  While in Japan, I really wanted to make sure I grabbed whatever else of theirs I could find and the first off that list was their debut full length Night of Fire.

In many ways Night of Fire is a pretty obvious precursor to About Lights as the two records have a pretty similar sound.  Shipyards is crafting the same sort of super energetic punk rock that made me fall in love with other Japanese punkers like Snatcher or International Jet Set.  The strained vocals convey a sense of urgency while the guitar interplay keeps everything sounding fresh and exciting.  But of course the real key for me is how catchy these songs are and how I immediately start tapping my foot whenever I put this album on.

I really wish I had been able to see Shipyards play when I was in Japan.  Their songs contain the sort of infectious energy and sing along choruses that I know would be an absolute blast to see in person.  It wasn't to be during my trip in December.  I guess that's just another reason why I need to go back to Japan some day.  In the meantime, I'll just keep listening to both Shipyards albums on repeat.

Shipyards - Night of Fire:

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Odd Numbers - From Cradle To Grave 7" - Green Vinyl


Eight One Nine (1992)

Another Monday, another Odd Numbers record.  This time up we have thew band's second 7".  As with a great many of Odd Numbers singles, all four of these songs are also on other releases.  Every song from this 7" is on the Retrofitted For Today album and the title track "From Cradle To Grave" is also on Jazz Cigarettes.  

We've got four classic Odd Numbers tracks on this one though. All four are upbeat mod rockers with great melody in the vocals and the sort of bouncy energy that sounds like late era Chisel or peak The Jam.

I do love this band and while I'm excited to add so many new singles to the collection, I do wish there were more songs that weren't already on other albums.  Still, they are great songs.

Odd Numbers - "From Cradle To Grave":

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Raise Mind - Sixpack For The Story Of Wasted Life CDEP


Anti-New Waves (2006)

Raise Mind is a Japanese band that I was familiar with long before ever going to Japan.  I've had their Back Number CD since it came out, though I was not aware they had any other releases out.  I probably should have been paying more attention to places like Discogs, but it all worked out in the end as I picked up this six song EP while in Tokyo.

To me, Raise Mind always fell right in the middle of bands like Dillinger Four and Cradle to Grave.  They're not quite as fast and crazy as Cradle to Grave, but they're not as poppy as Dillinger Four.  Instead, Raise Mind hits the sweet spot right in the middle.  Gruff but melodic. Punk but catchy. Fast but not crazy.  Really, it's a pretty perfect balance.

Just take the song "Step Outside."  It's relatively straightforward and mid tempo, but it's practically perfect.  Palm muted guitar riffs take you through the chorus twice before paying things off with a big, hooky chorus.  I wish I could fid the song online somewhere, but you'll have to trust me on this one, top notch.

The funny thing is, after consulting Discogs, I'm also missing another split CD and a 7" from Raise Mind.  Looks like I need to go back to Tokyo for some more record shopping. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Out - Swim Buddies LP


Comedy Minus One (2017)

We're nearly through March and I think that today is the day where I will come out and say that 2017 isn't starting out all that strong as far as new releases go.  It's been really, really quite for these first three months with only a few good records in my humble opinion.  What's even more frustrating is I don't really see all that much on the immediate horizon.  Sure, I absolutely have a few preorders for things I'm excited about, but I feel like it's far fewer than I normally would have.

Anyway, what this is bringing me to is that Out is one of the few brights spots in an otherwise lackluster beginning of the year.  Containing three quarters of the wonderful band Minutes, Out is somewhat following in their footsteps with an album full of 90's sounding indie rock.  You've got your crunchy, powerful songs that are reminiscent of Archers of Loaf.  There's a few that go for a more wonky pop sound like Pavement and a few noisy ones that remind me of bands like Polvo.

All those comparisons mentioned, Out mostly feels like the next logical step in what Minutes probably would have done on another record.  Aside from one song called "Dance, Like" that I really don't like for whatever reason, this is a very strong album that scratches that indie rock itch I have every so often.

Out - Swim Buddies:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pinback - Some Offcell Voices LP - Green/Blue Splatter Vinyl


Temporary Residence (2017)

This LP is the first vinyl pressing for two older Pinback CDEPs.  Some Voices was originally released on Absolutely Kosher back in 2000 while Offcell was put out in 2003 by the same label.  Stuck next to each other on wax, this ends up being a surprisingly cohesive album.

I will say this about the songs on this LP, if you've never really been into Pinback before, there likely isn't going to be anything on here that's going to change your opinion about the band.  Luckily, I happen to adore this band and to me, Pinback never disappoint.  While I do have all of Pinback's full length, I never went out and tracked down all of their various EPs, so a lot of these are brand new songs to my ears.  As you might expect, they are full of the type of soaring vocals and staccato guitar plucking that I just love.

If nothing else, it's a nice little slab of vinyl to keep me satiated until the next Pinback full length.  I haven't heard too much about one of those; but I am hopeful it'll arrive sooner than later.

Pinback - Some Offcell Voices:

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Odd Numbers - Something New 7"


Eight One Nine (1991)

I decided that for the next few Mondays, I'll post something about the Odd Numbers 7"s I've picked up recently.  I'm in the process of filling out their discography in My collection, so seems like an OK idea to me.

As with all of their songs, the three on this Odd Numbers 7" certainly veer into mod/The Jam territory.  "Something New" is a mid tempo entry to their catalog that was also on their albums Jazz Cigarettes and Retrofitted for Today.  A lot of Odd Numbers songs do double and triple duty appearing on singles and albums.  "Sometimes Girl" is a faster paced song and is just as catchy as anything they ever released.  It also appears on the Retrofitted for Today album.

The only song that is exclusive to this record is "Between the Two of Us.  A short, poppy and stripped down blast, it actually reminds me quite a bit of the sort of thing Ted Leo would end up doing a few years later when he was playing on his own.

The Odd Numbers - Something New 7":

Thursday, March 23, 2017

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


Ghost Ramp (2016)

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

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

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

Weezer - "Fake Smiles and Nervous Laughter":

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ron Ron Clou - Good Melodies LP


K.O.G.A. (2004)

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

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

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

Ron Ron Clou - "Sports & Wine":

Ron Ron Clou - "Teenage Kicks":

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Plum - Secret Night Charm CD


Spring Leaf (2014)

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

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


Eight One Nine (1993)

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

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

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

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

The Odd Numbers - "So Many Girls":

The Odd Numbers - "Autumn Leaves":

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Not Wonk - Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower LP


KiliKiliVilla (2015)

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

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

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

Not Wonk - "Laughing Nerds And A Wallflower":

Not Wonk - "Little Magic":

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

Monday, March 13, 2017

V/A - Ultimate Slow Beats CD


Snuffy Smile (1996)

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

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

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

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

Cigaretteman - "Sister":

Navel - "Chaos Mind":

International Jetset - "Today":

Thursday, March 9, 2017

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


Dead Broke / Cat Dead Details Later (2017)

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

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

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

Notches - Change My Mind 7":

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

V/A - The Pro-Wrestling LP


Invitation (1983)

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

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

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

Bruiser Brody Theme:

Stan Hansen Theme:

Hulk Hogan Theme: 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sleep Like A Log - Shadows/Lights CD


Fixing A Hole (2012)

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

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

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

Monday, March 6, 2017

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


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

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

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

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