Thursday, March 30, 2017

Raise Mind - Sixpack For The Story Of Wasted Life CDEP

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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

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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:
https://outkzoo.bandcamp.com/album/swim-buddies

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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

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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"

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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)

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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":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epGLkx147nI

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ron Ron Clou - Good Melodies LP

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Capitalist Kids / Hospital Job - Split 7" - Beige Vinyl

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Rad Girlfriend / It's Alive (2016)

This record is quite the throwback.  It's like the glory days of the 90's when two pop punk heavyweights would share a split 7" bringing joy to the world.  It was also a good way to discover new bands back then.  Maybe you didn't know Goober Patrol until you picked up that split with Mr. T Experience.  Perhaps you'd never heard Lovemen until you bought that split 7" with Hooton 3 Car.  The split 7" can be a gateway to many wonderful new things.

On this one we have two bands I've been following since the get go.  First up is Hospital Job.   They've always been walking a fine line between Fig Dish and Blink 182.  There are times that they threaten to bleed over to a side of punk rock that's a little cheesy, but they always manage to keep the hooks full and their melodies tight.  The two new songs on this split are their tried and true formula of mid tempo, catchy rockers.  Two more songs worthy of their catalog.

Capitalist Kids are more of the throwback to the sort of Mr. T Experience style of mid 90's punk rock.  The songs are straightforward with killer choruses.  They're also usually know for intertwining some politics into their songs, but the ones on this split don't address that topic so much.  Still, how can you go wrong with a song about how you'll always be second place in your girl's life to Morrissey.  Fun, witty stuff as always from these guys.

Capitalist Kids / Hospital Job - Split 7"

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Midway Still - Go Team No Hope CD

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Waterslide / Bitter and Twisted (2016)

While in Japan, I certainly bought a lot of records by Japanese bands, though I did pick up a few things here and there by bands from elsewhere.  One of those was the latest record by Midway Still.  I am so glad I grabbed this as it is easily the best album they've released since reforming a few years ago and you could make the argument that it holds up against any of their hits from the 90's as well.

The album starts off with the terse and tough guitar blast of "Wicked World." It's moments like this that remind you of how uniquely positioned the bans was when they were around originally.  They're not quite as melodic or moody as Senseless Things, they're not quite as catchy as Snuff and they're not as blistering punk rock as Leatherface.  However, Midway Still kind of straddles a midway point (ahem) between all of these great bands.  They take pieces from each and create their own sound that really is the exact kind of punk rock I want to listen to.

Just take a listen to the one-two punch of "Hey Summer" and "What's The Price."  Talk about back to back hits, these two songs are among the best Midway Still has ever released with hooks and catchy choruses that just beg to be shouted along to.  Go Team No Hope is another fantastic record from Midway Still and it's a great starting point if you've never heard them before.  Then go buy Dial Square.

Midway Still - Go Team No Hope: