Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Jailhouse Rock 7" (Japan)

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

This 7" ties pretty directly into the last Blues Brothers single I wrote about, primarily because it is the exact same single.  However, for the Japanese market they switched things up and made "Jailhouse Rock" the A side and "Theme From Rawhide" the B side.  To me, that actually makes a lot more sense and I'm surprised it wasn't the case for both versions.

The artwork on this Japanese version is a lot of fun.  The classic illustrated logo of the band is mixed in with jail cell bars over a bright yellow background.  They threw in a small picture of the photo from the soundtrack album cover just for good measure.  It's an interesting way of creating completely new and original artwork without using anything new.  Both images have been recycled from countless other releases, yet this 7" still stands out as truly unique.

This is actually the last of the Japanese Blues Brothers 7"s I have.  There's one more that I know of for "She Caught the Katy"/"Gimme Some Lovin'" that I haven't been able to track down yet, so if anyone ever sees that, please let me know.

The Blues Brothers - "Jailhouse Rock":

The Blues Brothers - "Theme From Rawhide":

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Unwelcome Guests - Anything You Want LP

Untitled

Dirt Cult (2017)

I couldn't tell you why it's taken me so long to write about this newest Unwelcome Guests album.  They're a band I've been listening to for a really long time and I have just about all of their records, but for whatever reason this album lingered in the to do pile for way too long.  I've been listening to it for a while and I can say conclusively that it's as good if not better than anything else they've ever released.  Which is to say it's quite good.

I've often tried to describe Unwelcome Guests by saying they seem to take the lead guitar dynamics of Dinosaur Jr. and mesh them into a rootsy, boozy Replacements style of songwriting.  It's never as chaotic or ear blistering as Dinosaur Jr., but it's certainly not straight up Replacements worship either as the energy of the lead guitar and punk rock song structure keep things lively and engaging.  

If I had to say any sort of generic descriptor, it would be that Unwelcome Guests are pitch perfect indie rock for today in the same way that Archers of Loaf were when they came out with Icky Mettle.  I don't think the records sound the same, but they both set themselves apart as standard bearers for the genre.  Needless to say, I dig this album quite a bit and I wish it hadn't taken me so long to write about it and say so.

Unwelcome Guests - Anything You Want:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Return To Monkey Island 7" - Picture Disc

Untitled

Self Released (2017)

Towards the end of last year the greatest band on the planet, Rocket From The Crypt, went on the UK tour.  They brought with them this two song 7" that was only available at those shows.  So far, that has held true.  This record hasn't been sold anywhere else and has become one of the harder to find releases in the Rocket catalog.  For whatever reason I figured they'd have some of these leftover and would sell them stateside, but that hasn't been the case yet.  Perhaps it's because of less Rocket shows with Hot Snakes taking the spotlight currently, but I do hope these are released to some more folks that desperately want them.

I'm lucky.  I had a friend pick me up a copy at one of the UK shows.  So, I'll take this opportunity to say thank you, and I highly encourage everyone to buy as many records from Drunken Sailor as possible.  Though that's a cheap plug, I do mean it and would say that even if the juice man hadn't picked this up for me.

On this 7" we have two brand spanking new Rocket FromThe Crypt songs.  The first is "Waiting for the Shoe to Fall."  It starts off with a simple guitar riff that reminds me a little bit of the Sultans, but the song just grows from there.  The hook on this thing is unreal.  I don't think the Speedo John gets nearly enough credit for how god damn catchy his songs can be.  The punk rock bonafides can never be questioned, but the dude can write a hook.  Once the chorus kicks in, the horns swell and stay involved for the duration of the song, elevating everything.  If this is a taste of what we could hear on a future rocket album, sign me up.

On the B side we have "Too Dangerous."  This one has some guitar work that at first, makes me thing about one of the shorter, more straightforward Night Marchers songs.  But like on the A side, once the horns hit and the chorus revs up, it is unmistakably Rocket From The Crypt.  Like "Waiting For The Shoe To Fall," "Too Dangerous" is a short powerful blast of Rocket energy in the verse and the sort of chorus that I can just imagine myself jumping up and down to surrounded by my Swami family.  If it's not obvious, I love both of these. 

It still feels surreal to have new Rocket From The Crypt songs.  Greedily I just wish we had more.  I love Hot Snakes and could not possible be more thrilled that they have a new record and are touring.  But if I'm being honest, Rocket From The Crypt is my favorite band in the whole wide world.  Once this batch of Hot Snakes shows wrap up, I really hope Rocket gets down to the task of a new album.  I can't think of anything more exciting than a possibility of a dozen or so new songs by the mighty RFTC.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Miles Apart - Almost Light 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Green / Assurd (2017)

What a blast from the past it was to see a new release from Italy's The Miles Apart.  Forming from the ashes of the very wonderful Eversor, The Miles Apart put out a handful of albums and singles during the early 2000's.  This band was on my radar mostly due to being such a big Eversor fan, but also because they were one of those bands featured on a Snuffy Smile split 7".  When that happens, there's pretty much a one hundred percent chance I'm going to hear your band.

This 7" features three songs from The Miles Apart, their first new material in over ten years.  It doesn't sound like it's been that long at all as the band picks up right where they left off, turning in three songs of their melodic, bright and ultra catchy pop songs.  Their band name is also the name of a pretty spectacular Mega City Four song, and you can certainly hear the influences of not only MC4, but the entire early 90's scene they sprang from.   

Hints of Senseless Things creep up in "Lost In Nowadays" and you can hear some of the energy and guitar dynamics of early Snuff in "Almost Light."  I'm not sure what made The Miles Apart decide to get back together and release some new songs, but whatever the reason I hope they stick with it.  The songs on this 7" are exactly what I need to hear right now.  All three songs are flat out perfect.

The Miles Apart - Almost Light 7":

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Katamari Damacy - Original Video Game Soundtrack - 2xLP: Green & Purple Swirl / Red & White Swirl

Untitled

Mondo (2018)

I can't say that I am much of a gamer.  Sure, I played a lot of Colecovision and Nintendo when I was a kid, same as most folks.  I even kept up pretty well with Nintendo products up through the Game Cube, but after that I went through a period where I really didn't play much.  I did pick up an Xbox360 when I lived in Boston for a while, so that I could play online with some of my friends and try to keep in touch, but once I moved back to NJ I didn't really keep up with it.

There were a few games that really connected with me during those Xbox years.  The first Gears of War, both Portal games and Katamari Damacy.  The first Katamari game never came out for Xbox, I don't think, but my wife had a playstation and we picked up that game based on a recommendation from my friend Alan.  What a wacky game.  You push around a little ball and as smaller items get stuck to it, it becomes bigger in a snowball effect.  Then you can pick up bigger things as the size of your ball increases.  Sounds silly, but it was pretty addictive.   The best thing about the game was its incredible soundtrack.

This is the first release on vinyl of this soundtrack, full of insanely catchy J pop/rock hits.  Some songs are in English, some are in Japanese, but all of them are outstanding.  After listening to the opening theme, it's pretty impossible to not have "na na na na na na na na" stuck in your head for about a month.  It also makes the phrase"I want to wad you up into my life" sound way more romantic than it probably should.

I will say that as a general rule, I'm not a fan of the vinyl movie and game soundtrack boom that's happened over the past few years.  It seems like every weirdo horror movie and every obscure game is getting a vinyl pressing when I still can't even get Onehundredpercentfreak by Alligator Gun on vinyl.  Sure, I partake occasionally. After all, I was very excited to be able to pick up the soundtrack to the original Godzilla a few years back.  But for the most part, I think it's overdone and I can't fathom listening to those kinds of things very often.

Obviously I've made an exception for Katamari, the songs are just too good.  And Mondo has done an incredible job with this pressing.  The artwork looks amazing, the vinyl colors are sharp and it's just a really nice package.  I'm glad I grabbed this and I'm tempted to pick up the Portal soundtrack that they released, but past that, I just don't see what other video game soundtracks would be worth owning.  OK, maybe I'd buy a 7" with the RC Pro Am song on it.

"Katamari On the Rocks":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMH49ieL4es

"Que Sera Sera":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mv90uA0tmgc

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Burning Spring / Cuddlefish - Split 7"

Untitled

Debt Offensive (2017)

Debt Offensive sent me this split 7" of two bands I wasn't previously familiar with.  As I've said many times in the past, the split 7" is one of my absolute favorite ways to listen to music.  You get to hear from two bands that may or may not be similar, but have some sort of kinship.  Otherwise, why would they be on the split?  In this instance we have two bands that lean towards the melodic end of the punk rock spectrum.

The two Burning Spring songs are really impressive.  They have gruff, chunky guitar riffs that rattle around their songs, mixing in with the rhythm section and the slightly raspy, melodic vocals.  They've got a knack for dynamic starts and stops within the songs, particularly "Seven Years Bad Taste."  It's a really incredible song, catchy in all of the right places, but still with a rough around the edges feel that I find incredibly endearing.  I don't think these guys have anything else out, but these two songs make me eager to hear more.

Cuddlefish is a little bit tighter and a little bit slicker than Burning Spring, but they don't connect with me quite the same way.  Cuddlefish is leaning in a direction that reminds me of The Flatliners, particularly with the really scratchy, borderline screaming vocals.  It's not to say these songs aren't good, they are still pretty catchy and have really hooky choruses.  Their three songs aren't quite as captivating as the Burning Spring songs, but they are enjoyable with heaps of energy to spare.

Burning Spring / Cuddlefish - Split 7":

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Theme From Rawhide 7" (Europe)

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

When I started digging into information about Blues Brothers singles, this was definitely one of the more surprising discoveries I came across.  I didn't expect to find that "Rawhide" had ever been released as a single from the soundtrack album.  I could see it perhaps making an appearance as a B side, but not as an A side picture sleeve.  Yet here we are.

I've always loved this song, mostly because it gave Elwood a showcase; something I always wanted when I was a kid.  Elwood was my favorite and yeah, he drove the car in the movies, but he wasn't as in the forefront on record.  "Rawhide" was one of the rare instances where he took center stage, never mind that it was just a theme song to a TV show I had never seen.  The B side on this one is "Jailhouse Rock," which I'd really expect to be the A side.  That song will get its chance next time.

The artwork on this is interesting.  Again, they are pulling from the same batch of stock photos that keep turning up, though this time they've taken the Briefcase Full of Blues album cover, split it in half and then switched Jake and Elwood to the opposite side.  The film strip imagery cutting down the middle is a nice touch.  I don't mind the recycling of photos as much when they do something interesting with it.

The Blues Brothers - "Theme From Rawhide":

The Blues Brothers - "Jailhouse Rock":

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Gamla Pengar - Ingen Kan Allt - Men Alla Kan Dra åt Helvete 7"

Untitled

Gaphals (2016)

I was hipped to Gamla Pengar because Fredrik of the ever wonderful Chester Copperpot told me he started to play with them.  While Fredrik isn't on this recording (unless he recorded under a rockstar pseudonym that I'm unaware of), I can certainly see why this is a band that would make someone want to jump on board.  These guys are pretty great.

So the two comparisons that immediately jump to mind for me are Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt.  Now, I realize that is some lofty praise and it sets expectations perhaps a bit too high, but sonically those are the bands that come to mind.  You have the furious downstroking and dark melodies of Hot Snakes, mixed in with an overtly catchy, party/singalong vibe that I can only compare to Rocket.

Vocally they are worlds different as the singer from Gamla Pengar has a more guttural growl as opposed to the smoother tones Reis is known for or the pained howl that has become Rick Froberg's hallmark.  Also, Gamla Pengar is singing in Swedish, so that's a difference as well (According to Google, the title of the 7" is something about everyone can go to hell).

All four of the songs on this 7" are a rocking good time. Loud and aggressive enough to leap to the forefront, but the songs are catchy enough to where you still find yourself nodding along and tapping a toe.  This is the most recent release that Gamla Pengar has put out, but Fredrik sent me a few more of their older records, so I'll write a bit about those as well in the next few weeks.  Go check these guys out, it's worth it.

Gamla Pengar - Ingen Kan Allt - Men Alla Kan Dra åt Helvete 7":

Monday, May 7, 2018

Bedford Falls - Send More Bees LP - Greenish Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Brassneck / Dead Broke / Boss Tuneage (2018)

Send More Bees is Bedford Falls' third album, but for whatever reason it's the first one of theirs that I've heard.  No matter how much I'd like to think I stay on top of things, at least within the genre of music I tend to like the most, bands like this still slip through the cracks.  I'm not entirely sure how I've missed Bedford Falls until now, but I'm happy to be correcting that problem at last.

Bedford Falls are playing a slow burning slice of the fuzzed out bliss of bands like Superchunk, but with a lower key take on the proceedings.  The bulk of the songs take mid tempo pace to allow the vocals melodies and lyrical imagery to really take hold.  Taking a more measured approach does give everything a bit more room to breathe and some of the songs flourish in this atmosphere.  

If there's a criticism, it's that the first batch of songs tend to somewhat blend together a bit, but it also makes the songs were Bedford Falls step on the gas, like "Reason To Believe" and "Defeat Artist" stand out more.  These songs take on a dynamic, Starmarket-like feel and the energy builds and the vocals have a focused urgency to them.  I do tend to prefer the faster ones at the end of the day and wish there were a few more over the course of the album.  Still, when Bedford Falls are on, they are really on and it's an album absolutely worth checking out.

Bedford Falls - Send More Bees:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

New Junk City / Hot Mass - Split 7" - Orange Vinyl

Untitled

All In Vinyl (2018)

I have to admit, it's been so long since I got a new split 7" from the All In Vinyl singles club, I forgot it was still going on.  When I first started seeing pictures of this record online I thought that they had started up a new year that I hadn't signed up for yet.  Then I realized that this was part of the club I had already subscribed to.  And there's still one more 7" to go.  Good times.

New Junk City is a band that I was blown away by from a 7" randomly sent to me to review in 2016.  I was so into that record, but they completely fell off of my radar again.  This split is a nice reminder that they're still out there.  The songs are somewhat ramshackle in construction, with everything sounding kind of loose, but at the same time loud and exciting.  The guitars are perfectly blown out and fuzzy and the vocals are raw, but still maintain solid melodies.  Both of their songs on this 7" are crunchy and catchy and great.  I want to hear more by these guys and I really need to pick up their first EP that I see on their Bandcamp page.

Hot Mass is another band I wrote about in 2016 when their phenomenal album Nervous Tensions came out. It seems inconceivable to me that was nearly two years ago, but those are the trappings of growing old I guess.  In those two years, it appears that Hot Mass have gotten even better than they were.  The first song on this split is a short, catchy blast of punk rock, but it's the second song "Flatman" that is a real world beater.  It's probably the best song they've released so far and it's just a perfect mix of jagged UK punk pop, with dynamic transitions and a most excellent breakdown towards the end.  Hot Mass still remind me of Rumspringer, but with that extra little bit of aggression that make them stand out.

This really is a hell of a split 7".  Highly, highly recommended.

New Junk City / Hot Mass - Split 7":

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Empty Heads - Ugly 7"

Untitled

Debt Offensive (2016)

Debt Offensive sent me this little gem from their back catalog along with the Supercrush 7" from the other day.  While the bands take completely different paths, both have a penchant for 90s style rock & roll and both are pretty darn great.

Where Supercrush is mining for pop gems, Empty Heads is their noisier stoner cousin.  All three songs on this 7" are sludgy, yet surprisingly catchy guitar rock numbers.  There's the sort of distortion you'd expect to hear on middle era Sebadoh records, but with choruses and hooks that remind of a mix between Seaweed and The Karl Hendricks trio.  Imagine that "Some Girls Like Cigarettes" came out on Sub Pop.

I think that this 7" is even better than the band's debut 7" I reviewed a few years ago.  I'm definitely curious to hear more, though it looks like the only other release they have out right now is a cassette.  I'll have to track that down so I can say bad things about the cassette format.  While this isn't the sort of thing one would typically think would immediately be my cup of tea, it's the hooks that will keep me coming back.

Empty Heads - Ugly 7":

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Record Store Day Haul #1: Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive (Acoustic) 7" - Clear Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2018)

This will be my first and only post about the 2018 version of Record Store Day.  I didn't even buy this at my local record store as they didn't have a copy of it by the time I had arrived.  I own this record thanks to the generosity of my friend Charles.  So, thank you Charles, I really appreciate it.  In a nutshell, Record Store Day pretty much sucks now.  What was once a fun event that I looked forward to every year has turned into something I have almost zero interest in.

It's not because of some ethical statement of major labels taking it over, or indies being pushed out.  I'm also really glad that there is something driving people to record stores for at least the one day of the year, so that's not a bad thing either.  To me, the bad thing is that almost all of the releases labels decide to put out pretty much universally suck.  This Superchunk 7" and a Rascals 4xLP that I decided was too expensive to buy were the only things I had any interest in whatsoever.

Even this 7" isn't particularly enthralling.  Of course I love Superchunk and of course I needed to buy this 7" no matter what was on it to keep my Superchunk 7" collection complete. But both are acoustic versions of songs from the latest Superchunk LP.  They're slower and played with an acoustic guitar, but there's nothing all that interesting going on.  A fun novelty, but nothing I would listen to that often.  Again, needed for completist purposes, but not something I would recommend if you don't care about that sort of thing.  I do care, so thanks again to Charles for picking this up for me.