Thursday, May 25, 2017

Boilerman - Doing Great 7"

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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

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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)

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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"

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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):

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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 Gemm.com 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.