Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" (Belgium)


Atlantic (1980)

This Blues Brothers 7" is from Belgium and it's one of the more interesting picture sleeve 7"s that was released.  It contains two songs from the Blues Brothers movie soundtrack, "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" and Jailhouse Rock."  Both of which are great, of course.

Where things get interesting is the artwork.  At first glance, it seems like brand new, unique artwork (a rarity for Blues Brothers 7"s).  But in actuality, the two images are from the same picture used as the cover for the Made In America full length.  It seems odd to me that a picture from a record that came out after the soundtrack would be used as the image for a single that is from the actual soundtrack.  All I can think of is this single just came out after Made In America was released for some reason.

Regardless of the reason, I still think it's pretty cool as I always tend to favor the Blues Brothers singles that at least make an attempt at having interesting artwork.

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

The Blues Brothers - "Jailhouse Rock":

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ruler - Tiger 7"


Secret Mission (2018)

Ruler is a new band featuring Fink.  You may already know Fink as he was in Teengenerate.  I, of course, know Teengenerate first from their split 7" with Bum.  That 7" has some of my favorite artwork ever.  Good tunes as well.

Back to Ruler.  They are playing the kind of fast buzzsaw punk rock that Fink has always made his calling card.  Equal parts timeless and stuck in the 70s, "Tiger" hits all the marks you'd expect of this kind of song.  Savage riffs and howling vocals that peak to a singalong chorus.  

"Gimme Some Noise" starts off with a lead guitar riff that sounds like the theme music to The Munsters, but quickly starts chugging along.  Everything builds until it hits the chorus, complete with 50s style callbacks.  Both songs are totally fine and I'd even go so far as to say pretty good, but neither song is anything that new or particularly exciting.  Still, there's something to be said for nice, consistent punk rock.

Ruler - Tiger 7":

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Bum - Wanna Smash Sensation CD (Japanese Version)


1 + 2 (1993)

Back in January I was lucky enough to go to Seattle for the Pop Punk Festival that Ean from Sicko put together.  It was a great time with a lot of cool bands playing.  For me, no highlight was higher than finally getting to see Bum play live after over 20 years of waiting.  They were the number one band on my list of bands that I'd never seen live and that show was everything I could have hoped for and more.  Their setlist contained nearly all of Wanna Smash Sensation, which is one of my favorite records of all time.  They also had a few copies of this Japanese version of the CD with two bonus tracks for sale.  As a crazy completist, of course I had to buy a copy.

I'm not kidding when I say this is one of my favorite all time albums, handily in my top ten desert island whatever you want to call it.  It's pretty much a flawless record and trying to dissect each song would be quite the task, likely leading to a review a bit longer than a normal person would want to read.  It's the epitome of the early nineties, fired up poppy punk record.  Hooks galore, incredible vocals and a songwriting duo unrivaled in my generation.

From the opening blast of Debbiespeak, to the singalong anthem of "Wedding Day" to the horn tinged pop of "Bent of Being Bent" to the absolute perfection of "I Hardly Breathe" to the party anthem of "I'm Not One," Wanna Smash Sensation has all of your bases covered.  These songs are part of my life's soundtrack and I love every single one of them more than I could really articulate in a brief review like this.  I didn't even mention how incredible songs like "Mallory," "Instant Kool Ayd" or "a Promise Is A Promise" are.  Just look at the track listing and randomly pick a song, you could make an argument that it's the best song on the record.  They are all that good.

This Japanese version differs from my other copies in that it contains two bonus tracks.  The first is "Lift Up Your Hood" a DMZ cover that was also available on the Bum split 7" with the Smugglers.  The second is a cover of the Misfits song "Bullet." This one I had in my collection from its appearance as a B side on the "Debbiespeak" 7".  So, while neither were new songs to me, this CD was still one that had to be in the collection.  After all I am a sucker for an Obi strip.

In all seriousness, you should own this record in any version that you are able to find.  I cannot say enough good things about it and I really don't think you can really understand how much I love it just from this silly review.  It's perfect.  A flat out perfect album.  Go find one.

Bum - Wanna Smash Sensation:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive LP - Pink In Clear Vinyl


Merge (2018)

Superchunk is a band that I can count on.  The world may throw curveballs at me, but Mac & Co. are there to provide a fuzzy soundtrack.  On their eleventh album, they're a little grumpy about the situation in the world, but they have something that will help out just a little - Loud Music.

I find myself comparing the album to their other two most recent albums, Majesty Shredding and I Hate Music.  Partly because I tend to think of this three album run as Superchunk mach 3 and also because I find them sonically similar.  Majesty Shredding is probably the best of the three with big, loud songs with tons and tons of hooks.  I Hate Music was equally catchy, but had a bit more of a somber mood and they took their foot off the gas just a bit.

What A Time To Be Alive is right in the middle.  Both in sound and also if I were to rank which are my favorites.  There are some tremendous songs on here like the title track "What I Time To Be Alive," the bouncy "Break The Glass" and my absolute favorite of the bunch "Reagan Youth."  You'll read a lot about this album and it's political statement.  While you can certainly hear the frustration with current events, it's never overtly preachy or dour.  Superchunk is loud and maybe they're a bit pissed off, but they never lose their optimism and they never lose their ability to write a damn fine pop song.

Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Spells - Big Boring Meeting 7"


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I was pretty excited about a new Spells 7" coming in the mail.  They've been a really consistent band the last few years and I've dug everything they've released so far.  This new 7" is no exception and boy did they cram as much stuff as they possibly could on to this guy.

On the A side we have two songs, "Deceiver" and "I Wanna Know."  I've described Spells as something of a party band that I think has a Rocket From The Crypt-esque vibe to them and I still feel that way.  That's not to say I think their music sounds super similar, but they have the same sort of attitude and can churn out some garage-y hits.  In particular "I Wanna Know" with its snake charmer lead guitar riff is one of the top songs in this batch.

On the B side, Spells cram in four short brief songs.  I don't think any of them live up to the heights set up on the A side, but I've got to say "She Wants To Die Before I Do" is damn catchy.  I kind of wish they explored that one a little more instead of cutting out at the one minute mark.  I still think Spells sound like they'd be a hell of a lot of fun live, someone let me know if they hit the East Coast.

Spells - Big Boring Meeting 7":

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Live From Camp X-Ray LP - White w/ Black Splatter


Vagrant (2016, Reissue)

This version of Live From Camp X-Ray is the last of the newer Vagrant reissues to write about.  Like most of the others, it's a splatter vinyl variant.  I will say that even though these colors don't really go with the color scheme of the artwork particularly well, I do like the way this looks more than a lot of the others.  It's one of the more simple and classy looking splatters that I've seen.

Music is just as good as always, so there's not really a ton more to say, particularly after the yarn I spun about this album last week.  So enjoy the picture and but the record if you don't already own five copies of it.

Rocket From The Crypt - "I'm Not Invisible":

Rocket From The Crypt - "Too Many Balls":

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Boys Order - Do The Wildcat LP


Secret Mission (2017)

This Boys Order LP was sent to me to review by Secret Mission records.  It's one of a few records they sent over, all by Japanese bands that I had never heard of.  I'm fairly tuned in to some of the great Japanese bands out there, but this package was a bit of a slap to the face and a reminder that I'm always going to be painfully unaware of what's really going on over there.  I'll try my best to keep up.

Boys Order are playing a hyperactive strain of punky power pop with quick tempos, manic drumming and a penchant for playing lots of high bass notes. It's undeniably catchy and a pretty fun listen.  Whether it's the buzzsaw pace and killer chorus of "Midnight Triangle" or the the straight up pop punk of "Blue Blue Red," Boys Order have their share of hits on Do The Wildcat.  The vocals are definitely going to leave an impression, they're very up front in the mix and I think you'll probably love them or hate them.  For me it depends on the song, but for the most part I think everything comes together pretty well.

There are a handful of songs that slow things down just a little bit on here like "Out Of Sight Out Of Mind" and those are probably less successful than the rest of the album.  But they are few and far between.  The bulk of the album is sugar fueled, dynamic punk rock that I'm pretty glad I had the opportunity to check out.

Boys Order - Do The Wildcat:

Monday, March 5, 2018

Hooper - No Monument LP


Snappy Little Number (2018)

No Monument is the long awaited follow up to Hooper's 2013 masterpiece, How To Become A Ghost.   Five years is a long wait between albums and it's pretty obvious that the band has emerged from this break somewhat different than how they went into it.  Where How To Become A Ghost reveled in the 90s pop stylings of bands like Fig Dish and Tugboat Annie, No Monument takes a different path for most of the album.

No Monument is more indebted to different sounds of the 90s this time out, with a very post punk sound that expands the band's songwriting chops, but dampens the hooks a bit.  The opening one-two punch of "Red Shift (and the Irish Goodbye)" and "The Method" is a pretty good indication that things have changed since the last time we were hanging with Mr. Hooper.  Slower paced, with shifting rhythms and pained vocals, these two songs definitely grabbed my attention and alerted me that Hooper has altered the plan.

It's not all doom and gloom however.  Even though the first two songs aren't exactly my favorites, from the third track on, this is still a pretty excellent Hooper album.  "Unfinished Basements" and "Tides" are more in line with what I was expecting from Hooper, crunchy guitars, energetic song building and hooks that payoff that build.  When these guys are on, they are on.  Other highlights include the pop nugget "Spit Down A Well" and the more expansive, but no less catchy "Redacted."  Any song where the band plays things more straightforward and the tempo is a bit faster tend to be the ones that get my attention.

No Monument is still a strong, solid record.  There are moments that I don't like as much as others, but Hooper is still a band worth paying attention to and checking out if you're not already familiar with them.  Also, I apologize for that obviously terrible hanging with Mr. Hooper joke earlier in the review.

Hooper - No Monument:

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" (Europe)


Atlantic (1980)

This version of the Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" also comes from Europe, though this time there's a different B side.  Like with the last version I reviewed that had "Think" by Aretha Franklin as the B side, this one also has someone other than the Blues Brothers on the flip.  "Minnie The Moocher" by Cab Calloway makes an appearance here and while I do love the song, it still seems weird to me not to treat this more like a split 7".

Sure, the Blues Brothers band is Cab's backing band on this excellent version of "Minnie," but I think Cab deserve his name on the marquee a bit more prominently.  It's impossible for me to listen to "Minnie The Moocher" and not picture the movie scene where Jake & Elwood are sneaking around outside of the Palace Hotel Ballroom in time with the horn section.  It's just a classic moment in my very favorite movie.

As I've said before, the soundtrack version of "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" has never been my favorite version of the song because of the backing vocals mixed in that aren't in the actual movie.  Oh another interesting thing, this vinyl itself on my copy has been dinked.  Dinking is the process where someone makes a big hole in a 7" that was pressed with a small hole.  Typically done so it can be used in a jukebox.  If I ever am able to get my jukebox out of the garage and into somewhere that's usable, I'll probably be doing a bit of dinking here and there.  Plus it's just fun to say.  Dink.

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

Cab Calloway - "Minnie The Moocher":