Monday, March 27, 2023

Antler Joe and the Accidents - Go Commercial! 7"


Feral Kid (2022, Reissue)

This is a reissue of a 7" that originally came out in 1981.  It's apparently quire rare and sought after and if the sales history on Discogs is to be believed, it has regularly sold for many hundreds of dollars the few times it's actually been sold.  Well, much to the dismay of those that shelled out major cash, you can now grab it for seven bucks.  Score.

Musically, it's OK.  I like it better than I do most snotty punk rock of this era.  People throw around phrases like Killed By Death style and while that means very little to me, I know there are others that base their entire existence around those words.  The songs are catchy for the most part with slightly nasally vocals, but there's enough melody there where the record doesn't sound like a parody of itself.

Of the three songs, I like the last one, "Who Needs a Woman Like You," the best.  It's not super different from the other two, but there's some fun saxophone going on that makes the song stand out more to me.  I'm not really the target demo for this record.  I'm old and like old music, but I'm not as old as the folks that came up in this scene, so it tends to sound dated to me and I have no personal connection to it from my youth.   As songs, they are perfectly serviceable old, catchy punk songs, but it's not the sort of thing that I tend to gravitate towards.

Antler Joe and the Accidents - Go Commercial!:

Friday, March 24, 2023

Overwhelming Colorfast - S/T LP - Clear w/ Yellow & Red Splatter Vinyl (/1000)


Org Music (2022, Reissue)

Releases for Record Store Day have typically been getting less and less interesting as the years go by.  In particular, the Black Friday version of the even essentially never has anything that I'm interested in.  This past year was an anomaly as one of the releases was this reissue of the first Overwhelming Colorfast album.

I'm not sure exactly how this one ended up on their list.  I find it difficult to believe that there was a huge clamoring from the general public for this album.  But for folks like me, this is on e of the more exciting records to be part of RSD in ages.

I first got into Overwhelming Colorfast through the band fluf.  I had heard favorable comparisons and fluf even covered the Overwhelming Colorfast song "Song in D" on one of their 7"s.  This album, their self titled debut, wasn't my entry point.  I had picked up Two Words prior to that and honestly, my absolute favorite record on theirs is Moonlight & Castanets.  But I have had the CD of this album forever and it's chock full of noisy, big guitar pop.

fluf is definitely a solid comparison and if that doesn't work for you, I would think pretty much anyone that likes Sugar or the more recent Bob Mould solo records would be happy to add this record to their collection.  I have seen it teased that the band is currently working on getting Two Words pressed on vinyl for the first time.  I can't wait for that one and am just keeping my fingers crossed that we'll get to my favorite, Moonlight & Castanets after that.

Overwhelming Colorfast - S/T:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust To Dust LP


Def Jam (1993)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Age' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I really liked 3rd Bass when I was a teenager and I feel like their albums have held up pretty well over the years, even if the Cactus. Al/Bum is probably about twenty minutes longer than it really needs to be.  When the group broke up, I purchased the MC Serch solo record, Return of The Product.  I never heard from Prime Minister Pete Nice once 3rd Bass was done.

I don't understand how, but I had no idea this album even existed back then.  I should have, I was recently reading an old issue of The Source that I know I had as a kid and there was a gigantic ad for it.  But for whatever reason I forgot or it just never registered.  I definitely don't remember ever seeing a video on Yo! MTV Raps, but I saw one for MC Serch's "Here It Comes."  That's probably the biggest reason I bought Serch and didn't know about Pete.

And that's a shame, because the sinister Prime Minister was always my favorite of the two.  His gravelly voiced, laid back delivery always seemed elevated and mature, especially next to MC Serch being kind of a clown (a lovable clown, but a clown nonetheless).  This album is just chock full of Pete.  It's a strong record with production that reminds me a lot of the second 3rd Bass album, Derelicts of Dialect. As a whole, it is better than Return of The Product, I think.  But MC Serch has higher highs and there isn't any one song on Dust to Dust that is as good as "Here It Comes" or "Back to the Grill."  

I think I also would have liked this more if I had heard it back in 1993.  While I have discovered lots of great albums from that era later in my life, the ones that always stick with me the most are the ones I listened back when they originally came out.

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust To Dust:

Monday, March 20, 2023

Travis Cut - In Transit 7" - Yellow Vinyl & Orange Vinyl


Brassneck / Speedowax (2021)

I am writing about this record a bit later than probably is ideal for those involved in its release, but my copies were hanging out in a pile of records from the UK waiting for the appropriate time to be shipped to take maximum advantage of crazy postage rates.  Even though it came out a year and a half ago, it was worth the wait and I can only say if you haven't already picked this up, you should do so immediately.

Travis Cut were another one of those great melodic punk bands that was kicking around in the UK at the same time as Broccoli, Chopper, Skimmer, Hooton 3 Car, Crocodile God and that crew.  They leaned a bit more on the pop punk and J Church-y side of the spectrum and boy oh boy did they put out a lot of 7"s.  And boy oh boy do I own a lot of Travis Cut 7"s.

The three songs on this 7" were originally recorded in 2002 and were meant to be part of a full length album that never came to be.  Finally released now (with a fourth as part of a compilation 7" that's also in the queue to write about), these songs are a perfect time capsule of a music scene that will always be my very favorite.  All three songs are fast, tight and super energetic, with the trademark Travis Cut knack for big hooks and a catchy chorus.  These songs wouldn't sound out of place at all on their singles comp, Another Day, Another Drummer, which incidentally really needs a proper vinyl release so I can listed to these songs on my turntable without having to flip forty records over.

There are two versions of this record on different color vinyl and with different sleeves.  I still feel that urge for variants on some bands so I had to pick up both, but ultimately the best thing about this release is the songs and getting to hear new Travis Cut for the first time in decades.  A true cause for celebration.

Travis Cut - In Transit 7":

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin' Lifetime Bidz LP


SOUL (1993)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Age' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

This one brings back a lot of memories, but mostly ones of annoyance.  In 1993, when this Young Black Teenagers album came out, Yo! MTV Raps played the single off it constantly.  I felt like every episode I was forced to watch the video for "Tap The Bottle."  I grew to hate that song and never really thought about the group once that single finally faded from the airwaves.  That is until recently.

Once again, I was digging around for older hip hop albums that I hadn't listened to in the early 90s and I stumbled across "Tap The Bottle" again.  When I listened to it, for whatever reason, I wasn't nearly as annoyed by it as I was as a teenager.  In fact I kind of liked it? Bizarre.  So, I decided to listen to the whole album.  To my surprise, it's actually quite good.

Sure there's the whole dumb thing of a bunch of white kids calling themselves Young Black Teenagers, though I think that stupidity was mostly litigated during the release of their first album.  What really makes this album stand out is how great the production is.  The rapping is totally fine, it's not elite level, but it gets the job done.  The production, however, is elite.  Top notch beats, loops and samples.  I was really surprised by how strong it was until I looked into it a bit more.  The production was handled by The Bomb Squad, architects of Public Enemy's signature albums.  And while this doesn't sound like PE at all, it does sound outstanding.  Top tier golden age beats.

Basically, I'm shocked by how much I like this, but I have no problem saying it's a pretty great as a total package.  Again, if you are expecting something special lyrically, you might be a little let down, but if you're looking for something that simply sounds good and fits in with your early 90s hip hop collection, you could do a lot worse than this album.

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin' Lifetime Bidz:

Monday, March 6, 2023

Jawbox - Absenter 7" - Orange Vinyl (/502)


Bacteria Sour (1995)

This is a fun record, but not one that's probably all that important for most people.  In 1995, Jawbox released this 7" that contains two songs that would eventually find a home on their final, self titled full length album.  The versions on this 7" are different recordings, but they are reasonably similar, I think.  The main version of this 7" (which I haven't picked up, even though it's pretty inexpensive) was released on DeSoto.  This version isn't the main version.

This fancy orange cover is from the Bacteria Sour release of this 7".  Bacteria Sour is a sub label of Pusmort.  Pusmort is Pushead's label.  Pushead did the fancy art for this version.  It's really just a collectible, at the end of the day.  If you just want the songs, there's the regular release that was easy to get a hold of.  If you wanted to wacky, hard to find version, you could chase this one.

Me, I'm often going to chase the hard-to-find, especially when it's a pretty big difference like completely new artwork.  Plus, there's an extra lure for me as anyone who collects Rocket From The Crypt records knows the legend and frustration of their 7"s that came out on Pusmort.  It's just another fun connection for me.  Luckily, this Jawbox 7" isn't anywhere near as sought after as those Rocket ones, so I was able to add this to the collection for an extremely reasonable price.

Jawbox - "Absenter" (7" Version): 

Friday, March 3, 2023

The PeeChees - Life LP


Damaged Goods (1999)

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I am fully aware that I've been writing about a lot more old music than new recordings lately.  I wish I could find more of a balance, but even though last year had some truly incredible records come out, the quantity of new albums I am interested in seems to have decreased quite a bit for me.  The older I get, I suppose it's more likely to happen.  But I certainly haven't lost my passion for music and buying records, my focus has just been more on filling gaps in the collection and revisiting bands and albums that I overlooked the first time around.  This one falls into the 'fill a gap' category.

Life is the PeeChees singles compilation that came out in 1999.  I have the CD, but I never picked up the LP because I had most of the 7"s.  To be honest, I have all of their 7"s that matter to me.  But as I don't really spend as much time with my CDs, I wanted to pick up this on vinyl, for ease of listening when the mood strikes to sit down and crank some LPs.  Many thanks to my pal Scott in the UK for snagging this for me.  In 1994 as I was exploring the world of punk and indie rock for the first time, a friend of mine in high school let me borrow the Kill Rock Stars compilation album Rock Stars Kill.  This was a transformative record for me and even though some of the bands that blew me away didn't pan out to be long time favorites (the Smog song on this album is about a billion times better than any other song I ever heard by them), a few stuck around, at least in the short term.

One of those was The PeeChees.  Their contribution to this comp, "Patty Coahuila," hit me just right for whatever reason.  That song made a bunch of mix tapes for me back in the day and it still kind of gives me chills when I hear it.  That led me to picking up the Cup of Glory 7".  And then the Scented Gum 7" and then the split 7" with Long Hind Legs.  I was obsessed with these records.  In late 1995, Rocket From The Crypt played Irving Plaza and they brought The PeeChees with them to open.  I could not have been more ecstatic.

That was my freshman year of college and I had started writing for the campus newspaper.  The PeeChees ended up being the first band interview I ever did and if I remember correctly, I think they told me it was only the second time anyone had interviewed them.  I'm sure it was awful as I didn't know anything about anything or anyone, but it was a formative experience for me in my burgeoning punk rock life.  They were so kind and it was one of those early experiences realizing that the bands were part of the family, not just aloof people expecting to be fawned over.

This was before their first full length Do The Math had come out, and man oh man did I love that record when it came out.  But those early 7" and compilation appearances always held an extra special place in my heart.  When I listen to the album, the first side is a wonderful trip down memory lane.   About half way through the B side, I kind of lose interest in the songs, wich mirrors my feelings on them as a whole.  I didn't really like their second album and for me, the magic was always in that first barrage of releases.

I don't know if I would like The PeeChees as much if I heard them for the first time right now.  I might, but I just don't know as my love for them is so tightly connected to those early days of finding my way around a new scene.  Regardless of why I do, I really love these songs and am happy to have an easily playable version of them when the mood strikes me to go back in time a bit.

The PeeChees - Life:

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Mr. Lif - Mo' Mega 2xLP


Definitive Jux (2006)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Age' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Aside from Del The Funky Homosapien and Hieroglyphics projects, the one person who kept me somewhat interest in current hip hip in the early 2000s was Mr. Lif.  His I Phantom full length from 2002 really made me sit up and take notice and many did I listen to that album pretty obsessively.  It was one of those records that made me realize that it wasn't so much that I moved away from hip hop, but hip hop moved away from me.  Mr. Lif was speaking to me in a way that almost no one else was at the time.

It took a little while, but the follow up to I Phantom finally was released in 2006.  While I could never say that Mo' Mega reaches the same level of perfection that I Phantom does, it's still a truly great album and stands head and shoulders above the bulk of hip hop albums released after the year 2000.  Mr. Lif's lyrics are political and his rhyme patterns are complex.  But his politics aren't necessarily rooted in the beliefs of either party, rather they are more focused on combatting oppression.  He's very passionate and his delivery straddles that line between providing information and showcasing verbal dexterity.

Production-wise, it's also one of the stronger records to have been released after the Golden Age.  In particular, the beat on the album's third song, "Brothaz," is the ultimate head nodder.  It's a perfect storm where the intensity of the beats lines up perfectly with the message that Lif is delivering.  But the entire album is really strong.  I don't feel like this album got quite as much recognition as I Phantom and it deserves way more.  While it's true, it can't quite reach those heights, that's an absurdly high mark to compare against. 

Mr. Lif - "Brothaz":

Monday, February 27, 2023

Superchunk - Everything Hurts 7" - Pink Vinyl


Merge (2023)

After last years's disappointing Superchunk record, I was curious what their next release would sound like.  Turns out I didn't have to wait all that long as they've released this two song 7".  Both are from the same sessions that spawned Wild Loneliness.  The description of this 7" says they didn't fit because they were " more traditionally Superchunk-sounding than the rest of the LP."  Since I didn't like the LP much, I was hopeful for a turnaround with this 7".

The A Side, "Everything Hurts," does not sound like a traditional Superchunk song to me.  At least not in the "Precision Auto" or "Hyper Enough" sort of way.  It sounds like just another slow song that could have easily been put onto the new album.  It's not bad, there's no such thing as a bad Superchunk song really, but it doesn't have any energy.  It would probably be one of the better songs if it was included on Wild Loneliness, but it's nothing special.

Over on the B side we have "Making a Break."  I can't really say anything all that different about this one either.  If I'm being generous, I could maybe call this a mid tempo song, but it doesn't have a spark.  It's just there, hanging out, being a below average Supercunk song.  Which again, isn't a bad place to be.  I just expect something different when I want to listen to Superchunk, so these songs just don't click with me.  The goofy synth on this one doesn't help either.

Superchunk - Everything Hurts 7":

Friday, February 24, 2023

Star Wars / Return Of The Jedi = スター・ウォーズ / ジェダイの帰還 - Soundtrack LP


Walt Disney Records (2021, Reissue)

The final of the three Japanese reissues of the original Star Wars soundtracks is Return of the Jedi.  That makes sense, since it was the third movie.  There's not a ton to say about this one that I haven't said about the other two as far as sound quality goes.  It sounds great, best I've heard - but it's not like I've heard many versions of this.

What I will say is that the difference between the full score versions of the soundtracks and these reissues of the 80s versions is most noticeable with Return of the Jedi.  It's only a single LP so it contains the least amount of actual music of the three.  But, I will also say that in two very specific ways, it's actually better.  The full score CDs are scores of the special edition versions of the movies that came out in the 90s.  It's really not noticeable at all for Star Wars or Empire.  But for Jedi, it cuts two key things; The original versions of "Lapti Nek" from Jabba's palace and the Ewok's "Yub Nub" from the end of the movie. 

On this version of the soundtrack, both of those original songs are here for your listening pleasure.  The fact that they were removed from the special editions is a travesty, but alas, this many years later it's hard to care that much anymore.  Especially since I have bootleg versions of the original cuts anyway.  This is however, the one instance were I wouldn't call for a straight up vinyl issue of the full score CD.  Grab what they need from there, but keep the Ewoks and Sy Snoodles intact please.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Dred Scott - Breakin' Combs 2xLP


Vinyl Digital (2017, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Age' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Breakin' Combs originally came out back in 1994, the year I always say is the last year of the Golden Age.  When it was originally released on Tuff Break records, a subsidiary of A&M, it didn't make any waves.  At least none that I was aware of.  I don't remember reading about Dred Scott in The Source and I certainly have no memory of him being on Yo! MTV Raps.  It came out in June of 94, so while I certainly was starting to get into punk and indie rock at that point, I was still paying reasonably close attention to what was going on in hip hop land.

As has been the case with many of the records I have been writing about recently, this is an album I discovered much later in life, only a few years ago really.  It was once again perusing those 'best forgotten rap albums of the 90s' type lists and Dred Scott popped up.  I listened to a couple of songs and was completely blown away.  Luckily it had been rereleased on vinyl somewhat recently, so obtaining a copy on vinyl wasn't as challenging as some of the others I've had to hunt down.  I'm so psyched I was able to discover this record and add it to the collection as it's pretty phenomenal.

The production is killer, leaning heavily on the East coast boom bap sound that's got one foot in a somewhat rugged, but is smoothed out just a bit by pulling in jazzy loops and samples.  It's not as rough as EPMD and it's not as chilled out as a Tribe Called Quest, but it's somewhere in the middle without sounding too much like either of those other groups.  I'm not sure if that's a description that helps much, but if you dig early 90s production, this one will be right in your wheelhouse.

Lyrically, Dred Scott can certainly hold his own with anyone that was dropping rhymes in 1994.  He flow is mostly straightforward and doesn't veer into ultra complicated off beat type deliveries, but he's not rapping simplistically, his rhyme structures have interesting internal rhyme schemes at times and he's doing a masterful job of weaving stories into his songs.  As another comparison that makes absolutely no sense, he reminds me a little bit of how Kool G Rap composes songs.  Now, he doesn't sound anything like Kool G Rap, there's not mafioso or super hard core stuff here, but just the way he approaches writing his rhymes strikes me as being similar in the way he's able to put out a finished product that accomplishes multiple goals.

This is definitely one of the better albums I discovered way after the fact.  I'd guess there's a better than average chance this might have fallen under your radar as it did mine.  It's definitely worth correcting that and checking out Breakin' Combs.

Dred Scott - Breakin' Combs:

Monday, February 20, 2023

Otis "O" Barthoulameu

I can't find the pictures I took of fluf at the Warped Tour in 96,
so I had to swipe this from the internet.

It goes without saying that I hate writing things like this.  I haven't done too many of them, but when an artist who has had a real, lasting impact on me has passed, I find the need to write a little something about them.  Otis Barthoulameu, or more simply known as O to most, is one of those people.

Full lengths. I was surprised to find out that I don't own
Road Rage on vinyl.  Need to fix that.  
I've written before that I've always felt like I got into the world of punk rock way later than everybody else.  Sure, I was only seventeen or eighteen years old at the time, but when I started to explore and learn, it always felt like I was years behind everyone else and was constantly trying to catch up.  I couldn't tell you the first time I heard them or how I was alerted to them, but at some point in 1995 or so I was told that if I liked Rocket From The Crypt, I should check out fluf.  And check them out I did.

Aside from hailing from San Diego and a general affection for big guitar sounds, I don't know that I ever thought fluf sounded all that much like Rocket From The Crypt.  Sure, maybe on a couple of songs here and there like "Skyrocket" there were similarities, but that didn't matter as I loved fluf for exactly what they were.  Huge, and I mean HUGE, guitar tones, smooth vocal melodies and the ability to just get loud and angry from time to time to make sure you were paying attention.  I simply adored their first two albums and their singles compilation.  

You can't see it, but my copy of the fan club 7" is numbered
#2 of 1000.
They were one of the first bands where I made a huge effort to try to track down all of their 7"s so I could have a complete collection.  Today, it's not all that difficult to pick up most of their singles on Discogs for reasonable prices, but in those pre-internet days finding Garbage Truck and the split 7" with Further was not easy.  Eventually I talked my buddy Alan into trading them to me for something that I can't remember anymore.  I also joined the fluf Value Club that was advertised on their records and got a free 7" and a membership card with an awful picture of myself on it.  Despite being a gigantic pack rat, I cannot find that membership card anywhere.  I haven't seen it in decades, but I know I never would have knowingly thrown it away.  It must be in my attic somewhere.

I also have some Olivelawn records and really enjoyed the Harshmellow 7" that recently came out, but those fluf records, and especially the first two and the singles compilation, would always be so special to me.

I bought this shirt in 95 or 96 from Vintage Vinyl.
I wore it out, thus the horrid stains.
fluf was also one of the first bands that I interviewed while writing for my college newspaper.  In the
summer of 1996, the Warped Tour came to Vernon, NJ.  Why? I have no idea and I'm not sure anyone else did either as to this day it's the most sparsely attended 'festival' show I have ever been to in my life.  I worked out something with some label to set up an interview with fluf that day.  I'm not even sure what label as their Headhunter records were a couple of years old at this point, but their MCA record, Waikiki, hadn't come out yet.

The entire band, and O in particular, were so gracious to a dumb kid that was definitely asking them really basic and bad questions.  Not that I think I ever became a great writer or anything, but whenever I come across a clipping from back then I cringe about how clueless I was.  All three signed my copy of the Garbage Truck 7" that I brought with me (for the first year or so that I started interviewing bands, I always tried to have them sign something, then one day I decided autographs were kind of stupid and stopped doing that) and I was pretty much ready to go back out into the Warped Tour and watch some bands play.

Before I left, O asked me and my friend Joe who was with me if we wanted to come to the next day's Warped Tour show down in Asbury Park.  We said sure and O put us on the following day's guest list with backstage passes.

This was the MCA press photo for fluf, they didn't
use real pictures of themselves for stuff like this.
The next day we drove down to Asbury Park and met up with fluf.  We watched them play (those two Warped Tour shows would be the only times I was ever able to see fluf play live and they were really great both times) and then hung out with them a bit.  O then said that he was going to go over to the second (or maybe even third) stage to go watch a band that he had recorded a record for play.  We went with him and sat on stage next to band playing really fast pop punk songs to about 20 kids that ventured away from the main attractions.  That band was Blink 182.  That's the only time I ever saw them play as they just never really connected with me.  But that also is something that can be said about O.  I was there to see his band, but the moment they were done playing, he immediately wanted to shift my attention to another band that he liked.

Those two days are the only days I ever interacted with O.  I will never pretend to have been his friend or that I knew him at all.  But everything I have ever heard said about him mirrors my brief interaction.  He was kind, funny and seemed to mostly want the attention on someone other than himself.  There was no reason for him to go out of his way to be so nice to a couple of kids from rural northern New Jersey, but he did.  Because that's what punk rock really is at the end of the day.  It's a big family.  And O seems to have been everyone's favorite cousin.

A few of my favorite fluf songs:

"All the Fuckers Live in Newport Beach":

Friday, February 17, 2023

Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back = スター・ウォーズ / 帝国の逆襲 - Soundtrack 2xLP

Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back = スター・ウォーズ / 帝国の逆襲 - Soundtrack 2xLP

Walt Disney Records (2021, Reissue)

Last week we had Star Wars, this week we have the Japanese reissue of the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack.  A lot of what I have to say about this record echos things that I wrote last week.  I still don't understand why these soundtracks are being reissued as is.  The versions where the entire score is played in order are so much better and it seems crazy to me that there's no vinyl version of any of them.

As far as the three soundtracks go, I find Empire to be the least distracting when it comes to out of order songs.  The vinyl sounds great, but like I've said, I'm no audiophile so I have no idea if it's appreciably better than any other version.

Once again, the main draw for me is the artwork, which is fantastic.  I think it's the best of the three Japanese reissues and it is far, far superior to the original US artwork, which was just the picture of Vader's helmet from the advanced poster artwork.  Again, happy to have a nice version of this on vinyl, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that just having it as something to collect drove the acquisition more than a desire to listen to it repeatedly.  Plus, I got it for Christmas, which is even better.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Guru - Jazzmatazz Voume 3: Streetsoul - 2xLP


Virgin (2000)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years. 

The third volume of Guru’s Jazzmatazz came out in 2000, which is way past my usual hip hop cutoff year of 1994.  It’s always been my feeling that anything that came out in 1995 or later wasn’t really worth my time.  As I’ve been digging deeper into albums thatI missed the first time around, I’ve realized that while that is true in thevast majority of instances, it’s also incorrect in quite a few cases as well.  Jazzmatazz Volume 3: Streetsoul is one of those exceptions. 

My beef with most records that came out after 94 is that the production just seemed to change so drastically.  It rarely lives up to the Golden Age beats that I love so much.  While I can’t say this record is quite as strong as Volumes 1 or 2, it’s a hell of a record to have come out in 2000.  The beats are still smooth and jazzy, not too dissimilar from the prior volumes.  Gang Starr always had a pretty unique sound and they kept that sound more consistent than most over the years.  I will be writing about their album Moment ofTruth in the upcoming weeks, as that was also one I didn’t really pay attention to the first time around.  But as far as this one goes, I really cannot complain about the production or Guru’sexcellent rhymes and delivery. 

The one thing I don’t love is the fact that more songs have R&B crooning in them than I would prefer.  I realize it’s a staple of jazz, but it’s never been something I’ve really been a fan of.  Give me a nice hook, but I don’t really need much singing in my hip hop.  That said, I am glad I was able to hunt down a copy of this LP at a decent price.  It tends to get kind of pricey, though I’m not sure there’s a huge demand for a reissue.  There is a Volume 4 that I have listened to online, but it’s not really a priority for me to pick up. The production takes a pretty steep nosedive between this record and that volume. 

Guru - Jazzmatazz Voume 3: Streetsoul:

Monday, February 13, 2023

The Mr. T Experience - Revenge is Sweet and So Are You LP - White Vinyl (/300)


Sounds Rad (2022, Reissue)

1995's Love Is Dead was a pretty important record for me.  While it wasn't my first exposure to The Mr. T Experience, it was the first new record of theirs to come out after I had gotten into them in 1994.  Love Is Dead hit me like a ton of bricks.  It had built on the sound of their more recent releases and had really set itself as THEE album of this era of MTX.  A couple of years later when Revenge is Sweet and So Are You came out, I was primed and ready for the next chapter in that greatness.

What I got was a record that has always sort of perplexed me.  I like it, as it's hard not to.  It has an very similar sound and vibe to Love Is Dead, but something about it never quite hit me the same way back in 97.  I listened to it a lot.  Examining the lyrics, trying to pick out the chord changes...but for some reason it just didn't hit me with the same sort of impact.  Was it too similar?  Was it something else?  I never figured it out back then and after a few months, the album just sort of faded into the rearview for me.

Eventually I revisited it many years later and had a much warmer reception to it than I had previously.  I still can't pinpoint exactly what happened in 1997.  The best I can come up with is a combination of the record not quite hitting whatever my bizarre expectations were based on how obsessed I had been with their prior record and maybe just being in a somewhat different place musically in 1997 than I had been in 1995.  Looking at it today, it's a fun record to listen to and I appreciate it way more now.

The Sounds Rad reissue is top notch, as they've all been.  The record sounds better now than it ever has.  Slightly less compressed sounding and capturing a bit more of the energy of the recordings that the original did.  The artwork is a lovely gatefold and you can really tell the care that went into all of the packaging.  But it's the way this thing sounds that truly makes it worth purchasing again.  These Sounds Rad pressings are absolutely the definitive versions of The Mr. T Experience catalog and I keep waiting with baited breath that Making Things With Light gets announced very, very soon.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Star Wars = スター・ウォーズ / 新たなる希望 - Soundtrack 2xLP


Walt Disney Records (2021, Reissue)

Keeping with soundtracks for a few more Fridays, today let's start talking about the somewhat recently released reissues of the Star Wars soundtracks in Japan.  First up is Star Wars, and no, I'm not going to call it anything but Star Wars. I don't think it's super necessary to talk about the specifics of John Williams score.  Chances are the melody from one of his compositions is already playing in your head while you read this.  So I'm going to focus more on the records themselves.  

This is a double LP set with the same track list and order from the original soundtrack release back in the 70s.  That's all well and good, but at this point in my life, I'm much more used to listening to the special edition soundtracks that came out in the late 90s on CD.  Those have the score in actual film order, where these soundtracks just sort of have random pieces playing at random times.  I never understood why it was originally released that way back then, and it makes even less sense to me that we can't get a proper vinyl release of that version now. The sound quality is very nice.  There's a lot of historical talk about how Japanese versions of records often sound better.  I don't know that I can really hear a discernible difference, but I'm just a dumb guy and I don't have a particularly well trained ear.  But, this does sound great.  

For me, the major draw is the artwork and obi strip.  There's something about the way those visuals just make me feel and I love the way they look.  Imported, these records are kind of overpriced.  I've seen them sell from fifty to a hundred dollars a pop.  Luckily, I got mine for Christmas.  Very happy to have them, but I would have had a difficult time pulling the trigger and buying them myself.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Organized Konfusion - Stress (The Extinction Agenda) 2xLP


Hollywood Basic (1994, Bootleg Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Like my copy of Organized Konfusion's self titled debut, the version of their second album that I have is a bootleg.  For whatever reason, no one has been able to give either album a proper reissue, but I'm happy to say that this double LP bootleg version sounds great, so it's good enough for me.

I had mentioned last time that I never listened to Organized Konfusion back in the 90s.  I should have as they were shouted out by several of my favorites at the time, but I never heard anything by them and never ended up buying either of their records.  My first exposure to them came much later as I tried to hunt down some hip hop albums that I hadn't heard back in the 90s.  

Stress is probably a stronger album overall that the first Organized Konfusion release.  The beats are pretty solid, mostly relying on jazzy samples and drum loops.  The production tends to be somewhat low key in nature with the tempos being on the slow side most of the time.  But the songs as a whole don't sound slow as Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po lay down dizzying raps with complicated cadences and internal rhyming structures.  It's almost as if the slower production gave them more space to cram in more lyrics on top of lyrics on top of more lyrics.  It's a nonstop display of technical mastery and Stress is an album that really deserves to have a proper reissue so it doesn't have to exist on the fringes as a bootleg purchase.

Organized Konfusion - Stress (The Extinction Agenda):

Monday, February 6, 2023

Discomfort Creature - S/T LP - Orange Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers  Bearded Punk / Monster Zero (2022)

Discomfort Creature is a new project spearheaded by Chris Fogel, who was a part of the early 2000s band The Gamits.  Having spent time on the Vinyl Collective message board during this time period, they came up a lot due to their affiliation with Suburban Home records.  I own exactly one Gamits record, their split 7" with The Murderburgers that was part of an All In Vinyl subscription series.  But I have no memory of it whatsoever.

Because of that, I was pretty much coming into Discomfort Creature with a limited set of expectations or preconceived notions.  I'm not really expecting it to sound like anything specific and there's nothing for them to live up to because of my unfamiliarity with prior works.  The good news is, that it's a pretty fun record.  The band that I really keep hearing echos of for some reason is Armchair Martian.  I'm not exactly sure why as vocally, Chris has more of a Billy Joe style than a Jon Snodgrass one, but there's an air about the songs that puts me in a similar place as I was when I heard Armchair Martian for the first time, even though Discomfort Creature plays things a little faster for the most part.

There isn't a bad song in the bunch with the bulk of the proceedings being fast paced affairs with just the slightest bit of twang creeping into their predominantly pop punk stylings.  This came in a little late to be in the running for my best of 2022 list, but I definitely would have had to make a place for them if I had a bit more time to spend with this record.

Discomfort Creature - S/T:

Friday, February 3, 2023

Seatbelts - Cowboy Bebop (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series) 2xLP - Orange & Red Marble Vinyl


Milan (2022)

Last week I wrote about the vinyl soundtrack to the original Cowboy Bebop anime.  This week, I have the double vinyl soundtrack to the live action Netflix series that came out last year.  I know a lot of folks were griping on the Netflix version saying it was a disgrace or ruined the series because of differences from the original series.  I fell on the other side.  I thought it was great.  It wasn't better or worse in comparison, it was just different.  I found it very fun to watch, with great visuals and a story that maybe wasn't as deep in some places, but I found to be deeper in others.  Whatever, I dug it. No gatekeeping from me.

Like the anime soundtrack, the Netflix soundtrack is equally confusing and frustrating.  The CD version has tracks not on the vinyl and the vinyl version has tracks not on the CD version.  The Vinyl doesn't come with a download card, so there's no getting MP3s of this version either.  While I really like the songs that are on here and am stoked to have them on vinyl, my annoying brain can only manage to be angry that it's missing tracks on the CD version.

Whatever you feel about the show itself, there's no arguing with how great any version of the soundtrack is.  Like the anime, the Netflix soundtrack was done by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts. Jazzy, big band, psych, folk chaos as you go from track to track and it really works genre hopping the way it does.  My only complaint isn't even a complaint as much as it is confusion on my part.  The theme song "Tank!" is the first song on the second LP instead of being the first song on the first LP.  It's the opening song of every episode, why would you put it in the middle of the overall track order?  Makes no sense to me, but it doesn't make it any less of a great song.

Seatbelts - Cowboy Bebop (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series) (FYI, this is the streaming/CD version, tracklist is different than what's on the vinyl):

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Legion – Theme + Echo = Krill 2xLP


Legion (2016, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I wasn't familiar with The Legion prior to picking up this record.  I also bought it over a year ago, so I can't remember how I stumbled on them or what about it originally made me want to check it out.  Looking at the track credits, the fact that we have production and guest appearances from Showbiz & AG and Black Sheep probably played a part in it.  But the reason it's languished in my review pile for so long is because I've never really been able to figure out what to make of the album.

First off, it's really long.  Twenty tracks, almost an hour and fifteen minutes long.  Sure, there's a few sketches on here making the number of tracks go up somewhat artificially, but track count aside this record is way too long.  If they halved it, I think you'd have a much stronger record overall.  The album starts off not particularly impressive.  The first handful of tracks are slower tempo tracks with production that I don't find particularly inspiring.  The lyrics and delivery are solid, but the beats aren't there for me.

About halfway through side B, the album suddenly springs to life and they rip off eight pretty great tracks in a row.  If the album had just started with "Representado," I'd probably be singing a different tune.  I really get into the album while we're going through this stretch which lasts through the end of the C side of this double LP.  When we flip to side D, the production reverts back to the wort of slow, kind of plodding, beats that made up the first part of the record.  So yeah, not sure what to make of it.  A little less than half the record is great, I really dig listening to it.  But that greatness is bookended by production on the other half of the record that just never connects with me.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Pinhead Gunpowder - Compulsive Disclosure LP - Green/White Split Vinyl

Pinhead Gunpowder - Compulsive Disclosure LP - Green/White Split Vinyl

1234 Go! (2022, Reissue)

This is the fifth and final 12"/LP Pinhead Gunpowder reissue from 1234 Go.  Compulsive Disclosure originally came out in 2003, back when I worked in the music biz.  I actually got to promote this album to college radio when it was released as the company I worked for promoted most of the Lookout releases at the time.  The fact that this came out twenty years ago at this point is pretty insane.

I'm not sure why this ended up being the final PHG album, but it was a pretty solid way to go out.  Lots of great songs, though my favorite will always be "Landlords."  The version on the full length is acoustic, and great, but the electric version on the 8 Chords, 328 Words 7" will always be held in slightly higher esteem by me.

This reissue has all of the songs from the original Lookout CD, plus three extra tracks: "Anniversary Song," West Side Highway" and "On The Ave."  All of these were from the West Side Highway 7" that came out around the same time, but of course I bought the reissue of that as well (even though I have the original release).  1234 Go! did a pretty great job with this reissue series.  Everything sounds great and brought some wonderful records that had been out of print for way to long back into circulation.  They're all worth picking up and I'm stoked to have these in the collection.  Even though I already had the original pressings of most of them, these are improved enough to be worth the double dip.

Pinhead Gunpowder - Compulsive Disclosure:

Friday, January 27, 2023

Seatbelts - Cowboy Bebop (Original Series Soundtrack) 2xLP - White Vinyl & Brown Vinyl


Milan / Sunrise (2022, Reissue)

I've been buying a lot more soundtracks lately.  You can absolutely put the blame of that on all of the incredible Godzilla and Toho releases coming out, but it's also reminded me that there are others that I need.  A big one on that list is the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack.  I first heard of Cowboy Bebop from my buddy Keith.  He let me borrow his DVD box set that also included the soundtrack on CD.  I loved the show and loved the music.  I picked up the DVDs myself, but the box set was tough to come by at that point.

Fast forward to a couple years ago and the soundtrack was finally released on vinyl.  It took me a while to commit to buy and at that point it was out of press so it took a bit longer to track one down.  It's great and has the songs from that CD I ripped from Keith many, many moons ago.  It also has a few others.  Here's the thing, in researching, I find the Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack Universe to be one of the most confusing things out there.  There's several CDs, different volumes, CDs with songs on other CDs, EPs with exclusive songs, CD box sets that have exclusive songs, but not songs from the regular soundtrack (well, it has some of those, but not all of those).  It's a confusing mess and I will not even pretend to understand it.

I'm sure there are people smarter than me that will be able to say exactly where the five bonus tracks came from.  I was able to track them down as being part of a "Best Of" CD compilation, but it seems at least three of the songs were exclusive to that Best Of, which maybe makes it not actually a best of?  And we haven't even started talking about the Netflix soundtracks yet.

Anyway, the songs on here are great and I love throwing them on and just kind of zoning out to let my imagination be somewhere else.  Not to mention that the theme song of the show "Tank!" could be the best TV show theme song in the history of the earth.  If it isn't, it's right up there.

The Seatbelts - Cowboy Bebop (Original Series Soundtrack):

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Beastie Boys - Check Your Head 2xLP - Red Vinyl


Vinyl Me Please (2022, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Yeah, this is me doing that thing where I rebuy an album that I already have and wrote about not that long ago.  I'm mostly going to focus on this new pressing, so if you want broader thoughts about the album itself and how I feel about the songs, you can read my last write up here:

This version was part of the Vinyl Me Please club and I was drawn in by the promise that new lacquers had been made from the original masters.  While I do love vinyl, I'm not one of those crazy audiophile jerks that can pick out faint differences in pressings and claim that vinyl always sounds "better" as that's really subjective.  I prefer listening to vinyl as it feels like a more engaged experience to me, but for the most part I tend to think everything sounds pretty good if I like the music.  Despite that, I picked this up as I consider it a fairly important record to me, and I had a bunch of VMP credit.  So this didn't cost me anything out of pocket, really.

Is it better than my other pressing?  Yeah, it really is.  While the other pressing is totally fine and sounds good, this VMP version sounds enormous.  Every sound comes crashing though with tons of low end and richness.  When the Beasties recorded this, they made an aesthetic choice for everything to sound pretty blown out, so I can't call any version of this record "clear" sounding, but I can say this is the best I've ever heard the record sound, at least on my stereo.  In addition to your own ear sound preferences, the gear you play this on will make some difference I'm sure.

So, the last question, is it worth rebuying?  Honestly, I'd probably say no for most people.  If you have another vinyl version of this, you're probably fine.  As good as this sounds, and it sounds really good, I can't tell anyone that they must replace their existing copy.  However, if this is an extremely important record to you, it might be worth double dipping.  And if you don't have a copy of this on vinyl, this is one hundred percent the version that you should buy, no question about it.  If I didn't have store credit, I wouldn't have bought it and if I hadn't picked it up, I don't think my life or collection would have been any worse off.  That said, I'm really happy I do have this as it sounds amazing.

Beastie Boys - Check Your Head:

Monday, January 23, 2023

Beezewax - Oh Tahoe LP - Clear Vinyl (#22/500)


Naked Record Club (2022, Reissue)

I have a somewhat complicated relationship with the third Beezewax full length, Oh Tahoe.  It was supposed to come out on PopKid records when it was originally released, alongside of other labels handling various other non-North American locales.  But, as things often do, everything sort of went sideways and the PopKid version of the record never came out.  It came out on a few other labels in other parts of the world, all with slightly rearranged track orders for reasons I was never completely sure of.  I think the PopKid version was meant to start with "Big Bad Car" if I'm not mistaken, but that was over twenty years ago, so I might be.

This LP is the first vinyl version of the album to ever be released.  It came out as part of a record subscription called the Naked Record Club, though you can also buy it on its own.  It is a really expensive record.  I know vinyl is more expensive everywhere and yes, I'm guilty of buying into some of the fancy and expensive Vinyl Me Please releases, but in fairness, most of those tend to be double albums.  This one is a single LP and the cost of the record, plus shipping to America came out to over $65 US, which is quite a lot, really.  It's cheaper if you join the club, but at this point I personally was only looking for Beezewax.

Is it worth it?  To me, yeah it is.  The record sounds excellent on vinyl.  While I like all of Beezewax's output, those first three albums of theirs will always be something special to me.  The way they took Posies style guitar pop and filtered through their own hook machine produced many of my favorite songs of the late 90s and early 2000s.  There's so many incredible tunes on this bad boy and finally having them on vinyl was worth every penny.  

Now, I just need someone to step up to the plate and get their first album, A Dozen Summits, pressed.  Yeah, I'd pay this much for that one too.

Beezewax - Oh Tahoe:

Friday, January 20, 2023

Gentleman Jesse - Compass 7"


Third Man (2022)

I will admit to being disappointed when the last Gentleman Jesse full length, Lose Everything, came out.  While it certainly wasn't bad, I found it to be a little more down than I was really wanting out of one of his records.  His prior two albums were so bright and energetic, but comparison Lose Everything seemed kind of depressing.  The songs were will written and well executed, I just never really find myself wanting to listen to them.

That brings us to this companion 7" that was released on Third Man Records.  I bought it ages ago, but just wasn't motivated to listen to it.  It's been sitting in a pile of 7"s to review ever since I got it.  But, I figure it's time to go through it.  The A side is "Compass," which is also on the full length.  It's an OK song I guess, but not the one I would have focused on for a 7" single.  But I bought this for the two B sides.

First off is "True," a cover by a band called The Fans that I'm not familiar with.  I can't compare it to the original, but this Gentleman Jesse version is a fun, fairly upbeat jam.  It's catchy and plays well with Jesse's trademark guitar jangle.  The second is an original called "Protecting Nothing."  I probably like this song better than anything that actually made the album.  It's way faster and has more in common with the first two Gentleman Jesse records.  That's probably why it didn't make it on to the new one, thematically it feels like an outlier, but if I'm being honest I would rather have an album full of songs like this.

Gentleman Jesse - "True":

Gentleman Jesse - "Protecting Nothing":

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Del The Funky Homosapien & Kool Keith Present FNKPMPN - Subatomic LP - Clear w/ Splatter Vinyl (#147/200)


Threshold (2022)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

If you had told me in 1993 that Del and Kool Keith would colaborate on an LP together, I would have been one of the happiest people on the planet.  Even in 2022, I was really excited to get my hands on this.  The album is Kool Keith on production (and contributing a verse on album opener "Abominable Squad") and Del handling the vocals.  Unfotunately, I just don't like the beats all that much.

The production is exceedingly minimal, with space bleeps and bloops over percussion that doesn't have much in the way of heft or low end.  It's kind of Casio sounding and isn't bringing that forceful production that I favor in hip hop.

Del's lyrics and delivery are still pretty great.  He is my all time favorite lyricist and once again the rhymes he's bringing out are complicated, unique and very, very Del.  But the production really drags things down.  I realize that I'm old, but I just wish we could have had an album that sounded for like The Four Horsemen or Funk Your Head Up.  90s style beats with Del and Keith trading verses?  Now that's something I could really get behind.  For the most part I ended up getting this album just for collection completest purposes as I want to get all of Del's full lengths on vinyl. 

Del The Funky Homosapien & Kool Keith Present FNKPMPN - Subatomic:

Monday, January 16, 2023

Snuff - Green Glass Chippings (Live Version) 7" - Red Vinyl (/300)


10 Past 12 / Formosa Punk (2022)

I own quite a few Snuff 7"s.  This is the newest one.  I can't say that for most people it will be essential, but for the collector nerds like me, of course I have to buy it.

There are two songs included.  The A side is is a live version of what I think is probably the best song of their most recent full length, "Green Glass Chippings."  The live version isn't wildly dissimilar from the album version, other than the fact that it's a live recording.  But it is a lively, energetic take on the song and is a great example of how impressive it is (at least to me) that Duncan is able to put forth such a strong vocal performance while simultaneously playing the shit out of the drums.

On the B side we have an acoustic version of the song "EFL vs Concrete."  The original version of this song was on the Numb Nuts album that came out back in 2000.  It seems kind of absurd that was so long ago as Numb Nuts still feels like one of the newer Snuff records to me.  While I do typically like the acoustic takes of Snuff songs and would go out of my way to recommend Duncan's Honkypingpongseijinattack!! CD, I can't say that this is my favorite acoustic version I've heard.  I tend to find the double tracked vocals a little distracting, but the violin/fiddle in the background picking out some of the organ parts of the song is quite excellent.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Senseless Things - The First of Too Many 2xLP - Red Vinyl & Black Vinyl


Cherry Red (2022, Reissue) 

Three bands that I find tend to get mentioned in the same breath a lot (or at least they did back in the 90s) were Snuff, Mega City Four and Senseless Things. I’m sure a lot of that was a result of when they were active as all three were kicking around in the late 80s and early 90s indie/punk scene in the UK. I always felt that Snuff was the most obviously punk of the group. Mega City Four veered more towards the pop side of things but were still pretty rough around the edges for most of their tenure. Senseless Things struck me as being the most polished of the bunch, having punk influences but with a sound that was a little more accessible. I’ve always liked all three, but I have personally listened to Senseless Things the least.

Looking back, I think some of that was due to the production of their records. Even though they were on a bigger label (Epic), something about their records always sounded kind of old to me. A tinniness that wasn’t rough enough to come off as punk rock production, but just made things feel a little thin. It was never a big deal, they just always seemed like there were somewhere in the past even though most of their records were only a couple of years old when I first heard them.

Now we have a reissue of the band’s second album, The First of Too Many, which originally came out in 1991. This double LP reissue comes with two versions of the same record. There’s the original mix done back in ’91 and a new “30th Anniversary Mix” that takes all of the original recordings and completely overhauls the mix. There’s no re-recordings or flashy studio tricks, they just made the album sound better. 

First off, I do want to point out that I only ever had the CD of this album and the LP of the original mix included in this set sounds about ten times better than my CD did for whatever reason. But that being said, the new redone mix sounds approximately twenty times better than that. I listened to several songs back-to-back, switching from one LP to the next and there’s just a huge difference in the redone version. Everything sounds fuller, the bass is louder and the vocal harmonies are even more harmonious. Whatever secret sauce they used to spruce things up really worked out well. Honestly, I’ll probably never listen to the original mix again now that this new one is out, but I do think it’s really great that it was included for those that just want a nice sounding version of the one they’ve been listening to for over thirty years

The record itself is great. Catchy songs with excellent vocals and enough punk rock propulsion that keeps things moving. Maybe I’ll never be as into them as I am my beloved Mega City Four, but they were a hell of a band and this is a record that really should be added to your collection if it’s not already there.

Senseless Things - The First of Too Many:

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Organized Konfusion - Organized Konfusion 2xLP


Hollywood Basic (1991, Bootleg Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I'm not exactly sure why I never listened to Organized Konfusion in the early 90s.  It's probably because I never saw any of their videos on Yo! MTV Raps, but it's not like that stopped me from stumbling upon other acts that weren't getting any airplay.  Even more puzzling is the fact that they were shouted out by name on Hieroglyphics tracks, which was pretty much a guaranteed way to make me go buy your records (See: Kurious).  But for whatever reason, it wasn't until many years later that I started to delve into the Organized Konfusion catalog.

I picked up this LP from Discogs about a year and a half ago.  I was able to snag it at a really good price considering what I had seen it go for.  The caveat is that this is the 2xLP version, which means it's an unofficial or bootleg release.  The positive is that said bootleggers didn't try to cram an overly long album onto one record, which is what happened with the original, official release.  In a lot of ways I prefer this double LP bootleg, though I would have preferred someone just reissue it properly.  Considering all of the old rap reissues out there, there must be something wacky going on with the rights for this to still be ignored.

As far as the music goes, this is fun golden era hip hop.  The production is solid and very good most of the time, but it's not in that top tier, upper echelon of the era.  I like it a lot, but it's not the sort of thing that gets my head nodding like a lot of the other records that came out around this time.  Lyrically, it's pretty amazing.  Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po are pretty amazing, stringing together complex rhyme structures while playing off beats of varying tempos and styles.  At the end of the day it's a really cool album that very obviously helped pave the way for the sounds of underground hip hop that would spring up towards the end of the decade.

Organized Konfusion - Organized Konfusion:

Monday, January 9, 2023

Bum - Wanna Smash Sensation LP - Blue Vinyl (/500)


Hey Suburbia / Radiation (2022, Reissue)

Wanna Smash Sensation is one of the best albums I have ever heard in my entire life.  Since the fateful day that I bought the CD from Flipside records in the 90s, I've been completely obsessed with it.  It's just a perfect punk/pop record.  This version is a new reissue from Italy on blue vinyl, with a couple of bonus tracks added on for good measure.  Sure, I've had this record in my collection forever, but it's the sort of album I will buy every possible variation of.  So here's another for the shelf.

It is really hard for me to adequately articulate what it is about this record that I love so much.  Sure, the songs are great and it's easy to say that, but I have a much harder time pinning down what it is that makes these songs so special to me.  They're catchyand that goes a long way for sure.  But I think what makes everything truly special is the balancing act the band does between the songs written by Andrew Molloy and those written by Rob Nesbitt.  It's not that they write songs that are complete opposites of each other, but it's the subtle differences in each that the band coalesces around.

Songs by Molloy are hook machines.  Perfect pop with rock and roll underpinnings.  Nesbitt's songs are a little more aggressively punk, but never sacrificing melody and sing along choruses.  A cut of the knife rather than the party anthem is how that difference has been explained and I can't think of a more perfect way describe it.

This pressing sounds great and looks just as nice.  The two bonus tracks are the same two on the Japanese version of the CD. "Lift Up Your Hood" a DMZ cover originally from the Smugglers split 7"and their version of the Misfits' "Bullet" was a B side from the "Debbiespeak" 7".  I don't know that either cover really adds anything to an album where the originals are so ridiculously great, but they are here for the listening and both are fun to check out.

If for whatever reason you don't already have this record in your collection, now is the time to get it.  I can't imagine going through the last 28 some odd years of my life without it, so if it's an omission in yours, fix that.

Bum - Wanna Smash Sensation:

Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Absolute Best Records of 2022


It is, in fact, that time of the year again.  I used to love putting together my end of the year list, and in many ways I still do.  But what it seems to be turning into is a yearly reminder that I'm either getting old and falling out of touch, or that there are far fewer great records coming out than there used to be.  I'm pretty sure that it's the former and my age is finally catching up to me.  If I'm being honest, I probably spent more time listening to early 90s hip hop than I did most new records.

There are exceptions, of course.  The PLOSIVS record is pretty much the best record I have heard in the last 10 years or so.  I have been a long time supporter of John Reis and have loved pretty much every record he's ever been involved in, but even with expectations that high for his work, PLOSIVS still managed to surprise me and knock me on my ass.  I think it's perfect and I cannot wait to hear more from them. John Reis and Rob Crow are a potent combo.

It was also wonderful to see Denny from Sicko, one of my favorite songwriters, back in the saddle with The Drolls.  That's the other record I probably spent the most time with this year.  Lots of other goodies in here from long time favorites like Skimmer, Snuff, Boat, Archers of Loaf, and Built To Spill.  I also made two exceptions for the list this year.

My rule is that I never put any reissues or records that came out on PopKid on the list.  But, I had to include Dereliks and Gentlemen Rogues if I am really making a list of the best 2022 records.  Gentlemen Rogues had half of the songs on their album come out on CD a few years ago.  The other half were digital only.  Since half of them never got a physical release before and the other half was never on vinyl, I decided they needed to be on the list.  

Dereliks is a four LP set.  One of the LPs is a reissue of an old 12" that came out in 1995.  The other three LPs are either songs off of demo tapes, from an old compilation CD or songs never released before.  There's enough stuff on here that's new to some and definitely new to me, that I had to include it.  Especially considering how many times I listened to it this year.

Lots of good tunes on this list and everything is pretty much worth checking out in some capacity.  Even the Superchunk record that I was pretty down on has its moments if you can get through some of the songs that are kind of a bummer.  I have next week off from work, so I'm probably not going to fire back up with more reviews right away, but before January is out, I'll be back with more nonsense.  Merry new year.

01 - PLOSIVS - PLOSIVS - Swami (Listen)
02 - The Drolls - That Puget Sound - Snappy Little Numbers (Listen)
03 - Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night - Swami (Listen)
04 - DereliksBroken Cyphers: The Anthology – Self Released (Listen)
05 - Boat - No Plans to Stick the Landing - Magic Marker (Listen)
06 - Czarface - Czarmageddon - Silver Age (Listen)
07 - Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray - Salinas (Listen)
08 - Skimmer - All Fired Up - Bloated Kat / Waterslide / Council Pop (Listen)
09 - Snuff - Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta Borsetta Calzetta Cacchetta Trombetta Lambretta Giallo Ossido, Ooooooh Cosi Magnifico! - 10 Past 12 / SBÄM (Listen)
10 - Meat Wave - Malign Hex - Swami (Listen)

11 - Lawsuit Models - Unknown Ghosts -Motorcycle Potluck / Snappy Little Numbers
12 - Archers of Loaf - Reason In Decline - Merge
13 - Night Court - Nervous Birds Too - Snappy Little Numbers
14 - Gentlemen Rogues - A History of Fatalism - Snappy Little Numbers / Rocket Heart
15 - Built To Spill - When The Wind Forgets Your Name - Sub Pop
16 - Good GriefShake Your Faith - Everything Sucks / Happy Happy Birthday To Me
17 - Bear Away - A Drastic Tale of Western Living - Brassneck / Waterslide / Engineer / Sell The Heart / Shield
18 - Jacob Turnbloom - Laughter in the Forever After - Half Way Home
19 - More Kicks - Punch Drunk - Dirtnap / Stardumb
20 - Superchunk - Wild Loneliness - Merge


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Dereliks - Broken Cyphers: The Anthology 4xLP


Self Released (2022)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

The Dereliks are a group that I definitely never heard about back in the 90s.  That said, a quick perusal of their Discogs page pretty much tells me why.  They put out three self released EPs on cassette, one each in 1992, 1993 and 1994.  Then they capped it off by putting out an independently released 12" EP in 1995.  Needless to say, these guys weren't front and center on Yo! MTV Raps or The Source when I was using both as my prime methods of music discovery in rural New Jersey.

Had I heard them back during the golden era, I would have been pretty obsessed.  Luckily they carried enough support in the Bay Area and through collectors trying to get their hands on the lone 12" that the group curated a four LP anthology.  And it is pretty damn incredible.  The first LP is a recreation of their long out of print A Turn On The Wheel Is Worth More Than A Record Deal 12" from 1995.  The remaining three LPs are full of tracks from the early demo tapes along with others unearth for this release.

Being from the Bay Area, it is pretty easy to draw a line to Heiroglyphics. It's absolutely not a bad line to draw as a comparison, particularly when looking at the way the vocals interplay with the production.  But in general, I find Hieroglyphics a little more 'out there' production wise, where I think Dereliks have more in common with the jazzy beats of A Tribe Called Quest. Yes, I am very much saying Dereliks are kind of like Hieroglyphics meets A Tribe Called Quest.  I realize all of the baggage that creates for them as far as living up to expectations, but for me The Dereliks deliver on every one of these tracks.

Four LPs is going to be a lot to digest in one sitting for just about anyone.  It's a lot of songs.  But the thing is, it's a lot of really, really great songs.  I adore this release and if anything sometimes I'm frustrated that there isn't even more included.  Reading the tracklists from their cassette EPs shows me that there are even more songs that didn't make it on to this set.  Chopped Herring put out a 12" containing demos from 1994 and I've picked that up as well.  But I really want at least one more release that collects the last batch of songs that aren't on vinyl.

I can't recommend this set highly enough if you are into jazzy, early 90s hip hop.  It's simply wonderful and while the entry cost looks a little steep when you first see the price, it is a FOUR LP set after all and I think I got every penny's worth.

The Dereliks - Broken Cyphers: The Anthology:

Monday, December 19, 2022

Cyclo-Sonic - Everything Went Stupid LP


Big Neck (2022)

Cyclo-Sonics is a group of punk rock lifers, boasting a resume of bands that in some instances I'm not as familiar with (Choosey Mothers) and others whose reputation is far more well known (The Fluid).  I wasn't sure exactly what I was getting into as the needle was about to hit the turntable, but I came away from Everything Went Stupid pretty damn impressed.

The thing I like about this record the most is the big, fat, chunky guitar sound.  It's deep and crunchy and the riffs that pour out of this album straddle the punk and rock lines not unlike a Supersuckers or a Hellacopters.  All of the songs are pretty hooky really, and I often find myself nodding along to the driving rhythm section as the riffs soar along side.

I can't say I love the vocals.  They tread dangerously close to the glammy side of the street, but they never really cross over to where I'm put off by them.  They've kind of old school punk rock with some good natured screaming here and there, but for the most part they are carrying the songs melodies and playing off some really fun backing group vocals.  

All in all, it's a pretty strong record.  I could nit pick little things about it that I don't love, but when I just put it on and let it play, I find myself enjoying it more often than not.

Cyclo-Sonic - Everything Went Stupid:

Friday, December 16, 2022

Built To Spill - When The Wind Forgets Your Name LP


Sub Pop (2022)

When The Wind Forgets Your Name is the first proper Built To Spill record in seven years.  And they're on Sub Pop, which kind of feels like the label they should have always been on.  When the record was announced, I was pretty excited as I've been a pretty big Built To Spill fan for decades.  When they started releasing songs from it on the internet, I was seriously underwhelmed.  The vocals sounded all weird and distorted in a way that felt just wrong.  So, I didn't buy the record when it came out.  But, for the sake of completion, I did add it to my Amazon wishlist and my wife picked it for me for my birthday.

Once I put this record on the turntable, I couldn't believe how different it sounded from the crappy videos on YouTube or whatever.  I was wrong, turns out this is, in fact, a pretty good Built To Spill record.  The vocals that I was so concerned about sound totally fine.  Maybe there's a touch more reverb on them than usual, but they don't sound blown out at all like I experienced durning the online clips.  I don't know what caused such a disparity, but it's nothing you need to worry about if you were on the fence because of this.  Though, maybe I'm the only weirdo that thought there was an issue.

There's only nine songs on the album, but as is the case with most later era Built To Spill, the songs are all pretty long.  You're getting your money's worth.  In general, things are on the mellow side of the band's catalog.  Good hooks throughout, but not too many upbeat pure pop gems.  There's a part of me that's always going to wish for a record full of songs like "Joyride," even though I'm sure that ship has sailed many moons ago.

At the end of the day, it's a fun, good record.  Not the best Built To Spill album, but certainly not one I would ever call the 'worst.'  If you like the band, you'll like this.  I like Built To Spill, therefore...

Built To Spill - When The Wind Forgets Your Name: