Friday, August 19, 2022

Pollen - Crescent LP - Green Vinyl (/300)


Double Helix (2022, Reissue)

Is it shocking that I'm reviewing another old record that's gotten a reissue?  Probably not.  Is it surprising that said reissue is of the relatively obscure, second album by Pollen?  Well it is to me even if it's not for you.  I was really excited when Peach Tree got reissued last year, but even for that one I was surprised that it was finally coming out on vinyl.  That Crescent now exists and is sitting in my record room right now is blowing my mind in the best possible way.

This album was originally released on CD only back in 1995.  It came out on Grass records and went out of print and became very difficult to find, particularly in the pre-Discogs era along with their debut album Bluette.  I'm not going to say anything obnoxious like no one has heard this record, but the amount of people that have heard is probably substantially lower than the two Pollen albums that followed.

But this is a great record, every bit as catchy and well written as Peach Tree.  Lots of catchy hooks and crunchy guitar riffs.  The production isn't quite as polished as Peach Tree, but in some ways I think that's a benefit as it's a little rougher around the edges in a way that I prefer.  Though the reissue is remastered and everything sounds way cleaner than it ever had before.  I'm just incredibly excited that this came out.  They've also released their fourth album Chip, and I have that here waiting in the wings.  I hope they get to Bluette as I would love to have all four of these guys on vinyl.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Zhigge - Zhigge LP


Polydor (1992)

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.

Zhigge is another group that I certainly don't remember by name from the early 90s.  This, their only full length, came out in 1992 which was absolutely a time where I was paying quite a bit of attention to everything that was happening on Yo! MTV Raps.  and while I do not remember this group or any of their videos, I can't shake a weird familiarity with the song "Rakin' in the Dough."  While I can't remember it specifically, it's definitely got a chorus that sticks in a way where I'm positive I must have heard it before.

Based on that, there's a pretty decent chance I heard Zhigge in the 90s, but forgot about them.  Likely because I never bought anything by them, so they were likely just heard in passing.  I am more than happy to play catch up now.  While I'd never say that Zhigge is a can't miss, must hear, essential hip hop record of the 90s, it's still a pretty fun listen.  The production is very strong and reminds me of the first UMCs record in the way that it's upbeat and fun, but still hits pretty hard.

Lyrically, the group has several unique MCs and while I can't put them on the same level as The Pharcyde, I find definite similarities in the two group's dynamics.  The way they pass the mic back and forth to each other and compliment the style of the others is really interesting to hear.  They've got dense and pretty complex lyrical structures and they pull it off pretty flawlessly each time.  This is another group that I'm happy to have stumbled on as it's essentially a new record to me, but one completely steeped in the hip hop era that I love so much.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Sewer Trout - Meet The Sewer Trout LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke / Lavasocks (2022)

I'm definitely reaching that age where I tend to be more excited about old music than new music.  I assume it happens to everyone and if nothing else, I think I held out longer than most.  Not that I'm giving up on new music or anything, it's just that the older hits are the ones that I tend to be most interested in, at least lately.  Enter an old band; Sewer Trout.

They put out releases on Lookout and Very Small and were very much of that era that spawned so many great bands.  However, Sewer Trout wasn't really ever on my radar.  When I started getting into punk rock, they weren't around anymore.  They were from an earlier era (Four years earlier felt like an eternity back then, though that's blink and you miss it time for me now) that I had to play catch up on.  But they weren't quite as noteworthy as say a Crimpshrine or Operation Ivy, so I never got around to them for whatever reason.

With Dead Broke and Lavasocks releasing a discography LP of Sewer Trout material, it felt like the right time to finally play catch up.  The vast majority of these songs are ones I had never heard before aside from those that were on the Turn It Around and Floyd comps.  How do these songs sound for the first time in 2022? Old.  Honesty, they sound really old.

I would never say these are bad songs, but they are absolutely of a past era and sound like it.  Without much in the way of nostalgia holding me to these songs since I didn't listen to them when they were more current, I can't say they really connect with me very much hearing them for the first time today.  Although lyrically they've aged pretty well (or pretty poorly, depending on how annoyed you are with the world), as many of the political and societal criticisms they're singing about are still pretty valid all this time later.  

The songs themselves feel kind of simple and the sound is a little bit thin. Which makes sense.  This stuff was mostly recorded and released in the 80s on a punk budget.  They're not going to sound like fancy records, but they also haven't really aged in a way that makes them stand out to me thirty something years after they were recorded.  Again, nothing on this record is bad.  I like what the band was going for and I think the songs probably sound as good as they possibly could on this LP considering the source material.  I just can't see myself listening to it much when there are tons of other bands from this era that I already have a multiple decade connection with.  Like so many, I'm a prisoner of nostalgia.

Sewer Trout - Meet The Sewer Trout:

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Get Up Kids - Eudora 2xLP - Mint Vinyl (/600)


Vagrant / Heroes & Villains (2016, Reissue)

When I wrote about the Get Up Kids Woodson/Red Letter Day 12" a few weeks ago, I had mentioned that my favorite GUK songs were the ones on the various 7"s that came out before and immediately after their first full length.  That's the main reason that I finally decided to pick up this LP.  I've had the CD since it first came out and the songs on the original 7"s were certainly on quite a few mix tapes in the late 90s, but I didn't have the vinyl.  When I saw the 2016 version pop up unexpectedly on the vagrant site for twenty bucks, I grabbed it.  Seems weird that some were kicking around all these years later if they were limited to 600 copies, it is what it is, I guess.

Now, I do wish the Woodson songs were on this.  It would make life a lot easier and would pretty much dump all of my favorite Get Up Kids songs on one release, but I figure Doghouse didn't want to give up the rights to their cash cow.  It would have been easy to make room by ditching a few of the EIGHT cover songs polluting this release.  There are way too many bad cover songs on here.  "Suffragette City" is OK, "Alec Eiffel" is good and "Burned Bridges" is pretty great (mostly because of how absurd the lyrics are), but the rest of them could have been jettisoned into the sun and the record would be better for it.

The highlights for me on here are the two songs from the first GUK 7" ("Shorty" in particular was always a favorite), the two songs from the Sub Pop 7" and the band's very best song, "I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel."  This version of "Loner" is the one from their split 7" with Braid and is approximately a hundred thousand times better than the one that ended up on their second LP.

Normally, I'm very much in favor of having songs run chronologically when put on a singles comp.  I always find it weird when bands decide to make the track list out of order.  But, the one saving grace about how they organized the songs on this record is that just about every song I really want to listen to is on LP two.  So I can avoid a bunch of the crappy covers and some of the later 7" songs that didn't hit as hard for me.  This is a bloated record for sure, but the hits are still pretty great all these years later.

The Get Up Kids - Eudora:

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Maestro Fresh-Wes - 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!' LP


Attic/LMR (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 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 was digging online and came across one of those 'most overlooked records of the 90s' lists and Maestro Fresh-Wes was on it.  I can't actually remember if it was this specific record or not, but as 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!' came out in 1993, I decided that was the one to listen to.  Well, I listened to it and really, really dug it, so the quest was on to hunt down the vinyl.  I watched out for a copy for well over a year before one finally popped up at a reasonable price.  

I grabbed it, got it home and went to clean it.  I then dropped the cleaning brush thing on the record and scratched it.  Now there's a 30 second period on the first track where there's a pretty loud recurring pop.  Supremely aggravated at myself for doing that, but it's not a big enough deal to try to hunt for another copy of this record.  Not that it wouldn't be worth it, this is really an overlooked gem of a record.

With production handled by Maestro and Showbiz from Showbiz & AG, the beats on this record are pretty incredible.  It has that classic Diggin' In The Crates vibe with excellent, rumbling bass and that snare drum crack that I find to be a mandatory ingredient in hip hop.  Lyrically, Maestro Fresh-Wes has a strong flow.  I wouldn't rank him as a super elite MC of the era (1993 had some pretty insane records that came out at the time), but he's very good and his lyrics can hang with the excellent production.

I expect this one is probably way under the radar for a lot of people.  I sure had no idea it existed back in 1993.  But I'm glad I dug around and found out about it as 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!' can go toe to toe with the best of early 90s hip hop.

Maestro Fresh-Wes - 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!':

Monday, August 8, 2022

Snuff - Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta Borsetta Calzetta Cacchetta Trombetta Lambretta Giallo Ossido, Ooooooh Cosi Magnifico! LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


10 Past 12 / SBÄM (2022)

Along with Rocket From The Crypt and Leatherface, Snuff always ranks as one of my top three favorite bands of all time.  They've put out so many wonderful records over the years and are responsible for some of the greatest songs I have ever heard.  Here we are in 2022 and Snuff is still cranking out records.  Crepuscolo (That's what I'm calling the record in the body of this, I am not typing that insane title more than absolutely necessary) could be anywhere between their ninth and sixteenth full like album, depending on how you want to count a few really long EPs and a live album, but the point I'm trying to make here is that they've got a lot of records.  Crespuscolo fits in nicely with the rest.

If I'm going to make a comparison to earlier records, I feel like this one seems to fit pretty snugly next to Tweet Tweey My Lovely as far as an overall vibe goes.  There's some spectacular pop songs like "Green Glass Chippins" and Lemon Curd."  We've got a 'Nick' style song in "Hard Times."  And there's a few of the really fast shouty ones that aren't usually my favorites, but you can't really have a Snuff album without one or two of them at this point.

This version is on green vinyl, with 100 copies made available on Snuff's website.  There are several other colors out there and I've got some en route, while others I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get my hands on.  But I figures, I'll start with this one and then later on I can take a full family photo when I track down the rest.

While I can't say that I'll probably ever love a new Snuff record as much as I love older ones like Reach or Demmamussabebonk, those records have an unfair amount of nostalgia built into them.  It's hard to match up with albums you've been living with for over twenty five years.  But if you look at Crespuscolo on its own merits and listen to it without trying to make it be a 90s record, you'll find that this is a band still firing on all cylinders and is putting out records that I'm exceedingly happy to purchase. 

Snuff - Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta Borsetta Calzetta Cacchetta Trombetta Lambretta Giallo Ossido, Ooooooh Cosi Magnifico!:

Friday, August 5, 2022

Plow United - Human 2000 Lathe Cut 7" (/50)


Jump Start (2013)

Plow United were pretty much the best band and the kings of what I consider my local scene in the 90s.  Even though I was in northern New Jersey and Plow was from West Chester, Pennsylvania, whenever they came up by us and played shows, they were always something very special.  While I don't think everyone up here thought of Plow as one of the local bands, they always felt that way to me.

This record came out in 2013 as part of that year's Record Store Day, though I wouldn't imagine it was officially part of it.  Rogue RSD records out there.  There were 50 of these made and it's a lathe cut 7".  The four songs on here are all also on the 2013 Plow United full length, Marching Band.  It's a great record and these are great songs, but I can't say I really understand the point of releasing it.

I have these four songs already and the sound quality of a lathe cut is nowhere near that of a normal record.  It's kind of just a limited tchotchke for collector nerds like me to stress out over.  In fact, this was the one Plow record that had been eluding me for years now.  I was excited to see it finally pop up on Discogs a few weeks back and I'm happy to have it, though I cannot imagine why I would ever play it again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Public Enemy - Greatest Misses 2xLP


Def Jam (1992)

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.

This album came out at the very height of my obsession with Public Enemy.  After buying Apocalypse '91 at the K-mart by my dad's house, I was pretty convinced PE could do no wrong.  After I picked up Greatest Misses, I figured that I was wrong.  I think this record might have been my first experience with a band I loved putting out a record that didn't connect with me.  At the very least, it's the first one that I can remember.

I was really angry about this one at the time.  I wrote a review of it in my high school newspaper and while I don't really remember what I said, I'm pretty sure it was quite negative.  And that was the last Public Enemy record I ever bought.  I didn't hear 1994's Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age until many, many years later.  Listening to the record today, I'm not sure what turned me off so strongly.

Is it as good as any of the four Public Enemy records that came out before it?  No, not even close.  It's a distant fifth place, but it's not really that bad.  It's a weak Public Enemy record, but it's still a reasonably solid hip hop record overall.  Sure, "Get Off MyBack" is pretty bad, but "Hazy Shade of Criminal" is kind of great and I don't think would have been out of place on Apocalypse '91.  

The rest of the of the new songs (six in total) are fine for the most part.  Solid beats and great rhyming by Chuck D.  The other six songs are remixes.  Half are just fine, half are OK.  Nothing unmissable, but certainly nothing worth getting angry over in 1992.  The big miss is not including the Pete Rock remix of "Shut 'Em Down."  It's not on the vinyl version at all and on the CD there's just a live version of it that's pretty questionable, sound quality-wise.  Had they included that, I think it would have beefed up an album that isn't exactly essential is still a pretty fun listen.

Public Enemy - Greatest Misses:

Monday, August 1, 2022

Boat - No Plans to Stick the Landing LP - Clear Vinyl


Magic Marker (2022)

I have been a huge fan of Boat since their 2010 album, Dress Like Your Idols.  Since then I've bought every album and vinyl reissue of their older records.  Each and every time I'm so happy that there's a band out there still carrying the torch of the kind of 90s-style indie rock that I adore so much.  

Any Boat record is going to be a pretty great record, especially when compared to the other bands that even bother to play indie rock these days.  They're always got that wonderful guitar jangle and Pavement-esque irreverence.  Though if you compare this to other Boat records, it's very good, but not my favorite of theirs.

I think part of that is the way it was recorded.  From reading, it seems that this was a true pandemic album where the band members where not in the same place together at the same time.  I think that hurts the energy a little bit,  I won't go so far as to say that some of the songs sound clinical, but they don't seem quite as vibrant as prior albums.  There's also something going on with the vocals that I can't quite figure out.  They sound a little static-y and blown out here and there, but it's not always clear if this was a technology issue or an aesthetic choice.  It's not on every song, but it does make things feel a little off at times.

That probably makes it seem like I don't like this record, but that's not the case at all.  These are great songs done by a great band and is definitely one of the better albums I've heard this year.  I just have such high expectations for Boat and there are a few moments where something just sounds a little off in a way I'm not able to easily articulate.  But again, for the most part, this is a very fun listen.

Boat - No Plans to Stick the Landing:

Friday, July 29, 2022

Lawsuit Models - Unknown Ghosts LP


Motorcycle Potluck / Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

Anyone in need of a bright and shiny pop punk record to help jolt you out of the doldrums of day-to-day life?  I'm always looking for something like that and Lawsuit Models deliver that with gusto.  Unknown Ghosts is their second full length album, following up 2018's excellent Off The Pavement LP.  I really dug that album, but this new one hits me even harder.

When I wrote about Lawsuit Models in 2018, I compared them to a Peach Tree era Pollen.  For this new one, I can still hear that a little bit, but the band that more immediately comes to mind this time out is The Stereo.  In particular the way The Stereo sounded on their first album, Three Hundred.  It's got the big, crunchy guitars for sure, but the vocal melodies are what really take it over the top for me.  Just listen to the way they sing "co-o-o-matose" on the album's second song and then try to convince me it won't be stuck in your head for the next six months.

The whole album is full of hooks and melodies like that.  Super catchy stuff, with just the absolute tiniest hint of a Tom Petty-esque twang hear and there.  Ands that's not a complaint or a detriment.  That's very much a selling point as it adds a slightly rough-around-the-edges authenticity to things, even though the production on the record is somewhat slick overall.  In summary: this a great, fun, upbeat, catchy, energetic record.  The raised the bar from their debut and have easily claimed a spot in my list of best records of 2022 so far. 

Lawsuit Models - Unknown Ghosts:

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Gang Starr - No More Mr. Nice Guy 2xLP - Red & White Swirl 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.

I've dipped my toe into the Vinyl Me Please subscription club every so often.  Usually as a one off to pick up a hip hop record they're reissuing that's difficult to get otherwise.  I think that their records are a little overpriced, but it's hard to argue the care and detail they put into each one.  Aside from a slightly dodgy copy of the first Wu Tang Clan album, everything I've gotten from them has looked great and sounded even better. 

The first Gang Starr album recently reissued on VMP is no exception.  It's an excellent package with the main album sounding great and an entire additional LP filled with extras, mostly from singles from that Gang Starr era on Wild Pitch records.  While I could never say that No More Mr. Nice Guy is the best Gang Starr album considering the absolute classics they were about to unleash over the next couple of years, it's still a strong record.  Especially when you put it next to other albums that were coming out in 1989, it's still quite forward thinking - though maybe not as ahead of its time as say a Public Enemy or Ultramagnetic MCs.

The production isn't what DJ Premier became known for.  It's generally faster and more upbeat, with some of the breaks and sounds that you'd kind of expect to hear on a lot of hip hop records that came out before 1990.  There's a definite sound in the late 80s that took a couple of years to blossom into the full flavored production more associated with the early 90s, but that's not taking a shot at this Gang Starr record.  It's just how things were at the time.

Guru is not quite as laid back as the style he'd eventually gain his notoriety for.  To keep up with the beats he's going a little faster than the groove he'd settle into, but he still has the lyrics and the smooth vocals.  In some ways this album is like a time capsule, or maybe a blueprint for what Gang Starr would eventually become.  It's in no way as good as the next few albums that followed, but it's also still a very good album and if it was the only record they ever released, it would still be one I'd want in the collection.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Pinhead Gunpowder - Goodbye Ellston Avenue - Black/Blue Split Vinyl


1234-Go! (2022, Reissue)

Like so many records in the bin next to me, this one has been sitting around for a little longer than I would have liked.  While it did come out this year, I still feel like I could have gotten to writing about it a little bit sooner.  

Throughout the 1234 Go! reissue campaign, I have expressed my affection for Pinhead Gunpowder and Goodbye Ellston Avenue is no exception.  This one came out when I was in college and is probably the first Pinhead Gunpowder album I ever wrote about as I was writing at my college newspaper at the time.  This is also another one that I have the firat pressing of, so I really only bought this for the colored vinyl/remastering/keeping the reissue collection going thing.

I know that a lot of people weren't as in to the later couple of Pinhead Gunpowder records.  It's the first two or bust for many, but I've always been really into their entire catalog and I think this album is still great.  The songs are really short, for the must part, but they sure do cram in a mountain of hooks during the album's twenty-four minutes.  

There's more than a few highlights, but "Train Station" has always been one of my very favorite songs by the band. with it's building verse over chugging guitar riffs and its sing along chorus, it's one of the poppier moments in the band's catalog and a song that I just can never get enough of.  Everything looks and sounds great and as we get closer to the end of the Pinhead Gunpowder reissue campaign, I'm really pleased with how well these have all been coming out.  One more full length to go.

Pinhead Gunpowder - Goodbye Ellston Avenue:

Monday, July 18, 2022

1000 Travels of Jawaharlal / Minority Blues Band - Split LP - Green Vinyl


Bloated Kat/Imomushi (2021, Reissue)

OK, I sat on this one way too long and at this time it's come out almost a year ago.  Shame on me as this is such an incredibly great record.   Originally, this split came out in 2000 on Imomushi records in Japan on CD.  A friend of mine who I was trading records with picked me up a copy as he was pretty confident that I would like both bands, given my undying love for the Snuffy Smile sound at the time.  It was the first time I heard Minority Blues Band and 1000 Travels of Jawaharlal and I was pretty blown away by both.

Of the two, Minority Blues Band are probably the more well known by folks outside of Japan.  After this split they ended up doing two full lengths on Snuffy Smile along with some of the obligatory split 7"s that were so wonderful at the time.  Those splits include two (yes two) different split 7"s with J Church.  J Church is renown for the insane number of 7"s and split 7"s they released, but I'm pretty sure Minority Blues Band is the only band they did two different releases with.  

And their songs on this split LP sound just as amazing as they did the first time I heard them.  A fast, aggressive guitar sound that I typically associate with the sort of thing that Manifesto Jukebox was doing at the time (convenient, as they also did a split with MBB).  But, the big difference for me is Minority Blues Band's uncanny ability to cram the catchiest damn hooks into the middle of their guitar chaos.  Manifesto Jukebox is no where near as catchy and yet Minority Blues Band loses no energy at all in their quest to pull off an extremely memorable hook.

1000 Travels of Jawaharlal are probably not remembered as well from outside of Japan.  They never had that Snuffy Smile release and only put out one other full length.  I have that on CD but I just found out today that there was a vinyl version of that.  Going to have to hunt that one down.  1000 Travels of Jawaharlal has a similar sound to Minority Blues Band.  A similarly aggressive guitar attack along with the ability to keep their choruses pretty catchy as well.  The vocals are a little angrier and remind me a little bit of Screaming Fat Rat at times.

Another place that 1000 Travels of Jawaharlal differs is with the drumming and time signatures. There's some debt to math rock and late 90s emo being paid hear, but at approximately three times the speed of anything you are probably picturing in your head.  They are another one of those supremely great Japanese bands that I wish more people knew about.  But lucky you, here's your chance.  Not only is this release back and not only is it finally on vinyl, but it's been released by a label in the US.  There's no excuse not to go buy it immediately.

1000 Travels of Jawaharlal / Minority Blues Band - Split LP:

Friday, July 15, 2022

Gentlemen Rogues - A History of Fatalism LP - Red Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers / Rocket Heart (2022)

I can't write about Gentlemen Rogues without mentioning how much I loved the band Jill back in the 90s, as they share members and you'll probably hear me say things like they sound like a grown up Jill, which makes sense if you think about it.  Another thing I do when writing about Gentlemen Rogues is double check every mention of their name to try to make sure I didn't write Gentleman Rogues by mistake.  Which I do almost every single time.

This LP is made up of ten of the twelve tracks from two previously released EPs.  The CD only A History So Repeating and the digital only Fatal music.  I assume the two tracks that were left off were done so due to space constraints on the vinyl, but you do get them as part of the digital download.

These are all great songs.  Upbeat and catchy.  Tons of melody and catchy choruses.  A little slower than what I'd typically call pop punk, but punky enough to where there's still just the right amount of energy and enthusiasm coming through.  Every time I hear Gentlemen Rogues, I like them more and more and am eagerly waiting for their first official full length, which I understand they are working on now.  Sign me up.

Oh, and while I have a captive audience, I'd like to say to Danny and Chuck, would you two please talk about putting out a physical version of a Jill discography.  It should be vinyl, but at the very least throw a CD together or something will you?  The people need it. The people demand it. Make it happen!

Gentlemen Rogues - A History of Fatalism

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Leaders Of The New School – T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye) 2xLP


Elektra (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 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've been watching old episodes on Yo! MTV Raps on Paramount+ quite a bit lately.  It's such a great feeling seeing so many of those episodes again, though I definitely wish they weren't missing as much footage as they obviously are.  I can definitely say that they played "Me, Myself & I" by De La Soul way too much.  I never liked that song much to begin with, but I'm now at the point where I'm constantly fast forwarding through it as it's on about half of the episodes I've watched.  Another video that is getting a ton of play on these episodes is Leaders of the New School's "International Zone Coaster."  

I don't remember seeing that video much as a kid.  For me, it was "Case of the P.T.A" that caught my attention in the 90s and made me pick up the first Leaders' album.  After "Scenario" hit off of Low End Theory, I was pretty psyched on the second Leaders of the New School record being released.  T.I.M.E. came out in 1993, I immediately bought it, didn't like it and never really listened to it much at all back then.  Eventually, I got rid of the CD during one of my cullings.

But, within the past couple of years I decided to revisit the album to see if I had missed out on anything.  Turns out that I did.  T.I.M.E. is way better than I gave it credit for in high school.  In particular the beats are really great, classic golden era production.  The vocals are very strong and all three MCs stepped up their game and dropped some of the gimmicky things they were doing on their debut.  I can't figure out what I didn't like about this record back in the 90s.  I just remember thinking it wasn't as good as their debut.  

It's still probably not quite as good as A Future Without A Past, though my opinion is surely colored by nostalgia at least a little bit.  But I can say for sure that T.I.M.E. is an excellent record and one that I really wish I hadn't slept on for so many years.

Leaders Of The New School – T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye):

Monday, July 11, 2022

Pinhead Gunpowder - At Your Funeral 7" - Yellow/Orange Split Vinyl


1234 Go! (2022)

Another in the Pinhead Gunpowder reissue series.  This one takes the songs from the Dillinger Four split 7" and unsplits them.  Then a few compilation songs were added to the B side making this a Pinhead Gunpowder standalone release.  I actually dig that concept as part of this reissue.  While I do have all of their 7"s already, I have been rebuying them as they look great and most of these reissues do sound better than the original versions, particularly the LPs.

I can't say that I can hear massive improvements in the fidelity of these songs, but I think that's probably because they were released later on in Pinhead Gunpowder's discography and already sounded pretty good to begin with.  In addition to the songs from the original D4 split, they've added an acoustic version of Beastly Bit" and live on the radio versions of "Reach for the Bottle" and "Swan Song."

Pinhead Gunpowder - "AT Your Funeral":

Friday, July 8, 2022

Wannadies - Västerbotten 3xLP


Startracks (2022)

The Wannadies had a several album span from the mid 90s to the early 2000s where they really just hit it out of the park every single time.  You want to talk about the best Weezer or Fountains of Wayne songs?  Chances are there's over a dozen Wannadies songs that are probably much better.  I'm not sure that any band does guitar pop better, especially when they really hit their stride.

But it's been a really long time since The Wannadies were putting out records.  Twenty years, if you want to get specific.  The band recently has gotten back together and is playing some shows.  There's no news of a new album just yet, but they have put together Västerbotten, a compilation of B sides and rarities.  Not to be confused with Skellefteå...also a collection of rarities?

Anyway, Västerbotten is a double LP release.  The third LP in my set is an extra 12" single with four cover songs.  Now, I have a bunch of Wannadies CD singles and 7"s, but listening to this set was a reminder that their non album songs are probably non album songs because they weren't quite as good as the ones on the actual albums.

That's not to say any of these songs are bad.  They're not and in fact many of them are quite excellent.  But my main takeaway is that a lot of the B sides are songs that are much slower and/or mellower than what made the albums.  A bit more introspective.  More acoustic guitar.  Still phenomenal songs, but lacking a little bit of the punch that really makes me connect to an album like Bagsy Me.

The cover songs on the bonus 12" are fun, but I prefer Wannadies originals.  I'm glad I got it, but I don't think people would be missing out on too much if they got the regular double LP, which is good news for you as the version with the bonus 12" is sold out now anyway.  I do appreciate so many of these songs being rescued from CD single purgatory in my collection, though this isn't where I would recommend someone start if they were new to The Wannadies.

Wannadies - Västerbotten:

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Terminator X - & the Valley of the Jeep Beets LP


Rush/Columbia (1991)

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.

There's fewer and fewer hip hop albums that I had as a teenager on CD that I need to replace with vinyl, but this Terminator X album checks another off the list.  I don't have this CD anymore, it must not have survived one of the many CD purges that I did in the early 2000s trying to survive on a shitty music industry salary.  My buddy Zach actually reminded me of the record again a couple of months ago when he posted a picture of his CD.  This was on my radar, but I put a little more emphasis on tracking it down and now it's here.

It still holds up as a great album I think and in a lot of ways, I like it even more now than I did back in 1991.  I'm pretty positive the reason I bought this CD way back when was because I saw the video for "Buck Whylin'" on Yo! MTV Raps.  With Chuck D and Sista Soulja holding down the vocals, it's essentially a Public Enemy song without Flav.  The production is great and Chuck really turns in a great performance.  Soulja's "We are at war" battle cry also hits unusually hard in 2022.

The rest of the record is also a lot of fun.  The beats are consistently good throughout and a lot of MCs that really never got a chance to shine elsewhere turn in some cool performances.  In particular, I just love the song "Back to the Scene of the Bass" featuring a group called The Interrogators that I was never able to find out anything more about back in the 90s.  And guess what, in 2022, there's really no information about them either.  Kind of weird, but man what a song.

While no one would ever say this is as good as any of the Public Enemy albums of that era, it's a lot of fun and one I recommend picking up if you see the CD in a used bin somewhere.  Terminator apparently did another record in '94 that I was completely unaware of.  I'm going to have to check that out to see if it's anything like this one.

Terminator X - & the Valley of the Jeep Beets:

Friday, July 1, 2022

Leatherface - Cherry Knowle LP (2022 Remaster)


Rad Girlfriend / Little Rocket (2022, Reissue)

Leatherface is one of my top three all time favorite bands and I certainly go out of my way to make sure I have all of their records.  But, if I'm being honest (since obviously I usually do nothing but lie on this site), Cherry Knowle was not the album of theirs that I typically listened to very much.  Don't get me wrong, there's some pretty great songs on here, but when compared to the albums that followed, it's not in the same league.

When this recent reissue was announced, I thought I could pass on it.  Sure, there were limited colored variants, but again, I just don't listen to the album much and already have two versions of it, so what's the point.  Then Kazu from Waterslide records hipped me to the fact that it was remastered and remastered in a way where it actually sounded quite different from the original.  So, I decided to grab a copy - but it was sold out.  Except on Amazon, for whatever reason.  Not really where I would usually want to buy my punk rock records, but you do what you have to do sometimes.

With that, I can say that this remaster really does sound different.  It's fuller, warmer and the melody of these songs really shine through in a way that I don't think they did before.  You can hear more intricacies and tone.  The songs and in particular, the guitars sound much more purposeful and less wall-of-noise-y.  The wall is still there, but you can hear what's going on in it much better now.

Songs like "Postwar Product of a Fat Man's Wallet" and "Discipline" hit much harder on this version, and those were pretty phenomenal songs to begin with.  I think this is definitely worth picking up whether you have the original or not.  If you don't have it at all, well, duh.  You need this.  If you have another pressing, this one is improved enough to warrant a repurchase.

Leatherface - Cherry Knowle:

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Kaotic Style - A Diamond in the Ruff LP


Dope Folks (2018)

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.

Kaotic Style seemed to have mostly been active in the 1990-1996 era and only really had a few underground singles to their name.  They aren't a group I ever heard about back then as my only exposure to hip hop where I lived was Yo! MTV Raps and The Source.  I'm not going to say it was out of the question that they may have gotten one of their EPs written up in The Source at some point, but I certainly do not remember it.

Dope Folks is one of those great labels that are digging deep to find the forgotten gems of early 90s hip hop.  They've put out some really interesting releases, though I have to say that this Kaotic Style record may be my favorite of the bunch.  The production is really strong with interesting samples, some familiar, some not, but all used in a really cool way.

Lyrically, the two main MCs (Big Grand and Scram) can hang with all but the elite of golden era lyricists.  They're not out of this world wordsmiths, but they are both steady, creative and more than hold their own over the excellent beats they are working with.  

The only thing about this LP that I think is odd is that the song "Intro" is at the beginning of the second side instead of starting off the album.  I assume that's to maintain the integrity of the track order of the EP version of this that originally came out in '94, but it strikes me as being kind of weird from a flow standpoint.  That minor critique aside, this is definitely a record worth checking out if you're looking for new-to-you golden era tunes.

Kaotic Style - A Diamond in the Ruff (This is just the 5 songs from the EP that came out in 94, this LP has 10 songs in total):

Monday, June 27, 2022

Night Court - Nervous Birds Too Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

A few weeks ago I wrote about volume one in the Nervous Birds double cassette epic from the band known as Night Court.  That one came out in December and this second tape was just released in May.  I tried to get this one written about a bit more timely than the last one.  But I'm just one guy with two ears and can only consume so much music at a time (which seems to be getting harder and harder each year that I continue to age).

Nervous Birds Too isn't really any different from Nervous Birds One.  And I am one hundred percent, completely fine with that.  In fact, I applaud it, because this is exactly the sort of thing I want to hear more and more of.  Tight, catchy songs with someone rough, lower fidelity production.  It captures all of the energy of the songs but never sacrifices the insane amount of hooks.

Last time I mentioned that this is a group that's straddling catchy garage rock like So Cow or Wavves, but is also putting in a Pavement-y indie rock perspective and I stand by that statement for this tape as well.  This is great stuff, so great that I will now insert my annoying comment that I wish these had also been released on vinyl. Tapes, you know?

Night Court - Nervous Birds Too:

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Muppet Movie Original Soundtrack Recording LP - Green Vinyl


iam8bit (2022, Reissue)

About ten years ago I picked up a copy of this record as part of a trade that didn't quite pan out and wrote about it here.  As I mentioned, the condition of the record wasn't so hot and I had hoped to get a better conditioned copy at some point.  Well, that point is now as iam8bit has reissued the album with new, fancy artwork.  I will admit, the art is a big draw for me on this one.  I think it looks incredible and is exactly to sort of thing that I want to have hanging out on the record shelves.

As nice as the art is, it's the music that has always been the main draw for me.  I have always loved the songs on this album and "Can You Picture That," "Rainbow Connection" and "Movin' Right Along" are just classic, classic songs.  Sure, I could do without "Never Before, Never Again," but it's in the movie and I get it's inclusion, but I will never understand why they also put an instrumental version of the song on again right after the vocal version.  Odd choice and was always something I skipped as a kid.

But this sounds great, it looks great and is one of those cornerstone albums for me from when I was a young kid.  Really, my only complaint is that the record labels aren't the old school red and green Atlantic labels.  The new ones look great, but watching the red and green label spin is one of those endearing memories from when I was a younger fellow.

The Muppet Movie Original Soundtrack Recording:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Record Store Day Haul #3: The Brand New Heavies - Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1


Craft / Delicious Vinyl (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.

And this is a pretty on point mash up of Record Store Day and Ed Lover Dance Day.  This one came out on the second RSD Drop date this past weekend, I assume because it probably just wasn't able to get pressed in time for round one.  I loved this Brand New Heavies album when it came out in 1992 and this is one of the last few hip hop albums I had on CD as a youngster but had not yet replaced with the vinyl version.  There's not a whole lot of those left to find, but this was a big one.

The 'beats' are provided by The Brand New Heavies who bring a funk sensibility to the proceeding.  They are a full on band, live everything, setting the groove.  Then on top of that, we have some of the best MCs from 1992 joining the party.  Gang Starr shows up for arguably the best track on here, "It's Gettin Hectic."  We've got Main Source, Masta Ace, Kool G. Rap, Black Sheep and The Pharcyde all nailing their appearances.  And we have the omnipresent in 1992 Grand Puba whose "Who Makes The Loot?" probably is the one song battling Gang Starr for the title of best song on the record.  In all seriousness, I feel like Grand Puba made a guest appearance on just about every record that came out in '92.  Dude was everywhere.

I'm stoked this was finally rereleased.  I had been watching Discogs for a copy for quite some time, but it always seemed a bit too pricey and only ever seemed to be sold by overseas sellers.  But now I have a brand new, great sounding and appropriately orange copy.  Definitely worth checking out if you missed it the first time around.  I had no problem picking this up late into the morning on Record Store Day and I've seen more that a few websites still selling copies, so they're out there.

The Brand New Heavies - Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1:

Friday, June 17, 2022

Klazo - 'Demik Dementia


Big Neck / No Front Teeth (2022)

When it comes to bands on Big Neck records, I find that I'm usually presented with a band I was not previously aware of before and Klazo is no exception.  They are a two-piece act, making the equivalent noise of a six piece.  In that way, they remind me a little bit of godheadSilo.  Just a wall of distortion and drums, though Klazo has more of a garage vibe and the songs are, in general, much faster than what godheadSilo would typically crank out.

Vocally, I hear a little bit of The Blind Shake, mostly in the yelpy sort of delivery, but Klazo is definitely less melodic than The Blind Shake are.  And when you combine the vocals and the music, you certainly get a band bristling with energy and it honestly comes together in a way that has me liking it a lot more than I would have expected if you described it to me.

I am guilty for leaning into groups that are more melodic, but there's something to be said about a band that's just got their foot on the gas pedal, smashing it into the floor.  The energy and the vibe from these guys is more than enough to make up for a shortage of super obvious hooks.

Klazo - 'Demik Dementia:

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Rumpletilskinz - What Is A Rumpletilskin? LP


RCA (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 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.

This one is definitely a deep cut from my youth.  I'm not entirely sure where I first heard of Rumpletilskinz.  It had to be either from Yo! MTV Raps or The Source, but I think it was probably Yo!  The reason I think that is because when I was hunting for this LP I learned that the group was affiliated with Leaders of the New School.  If I had read about it in The Source, that's something I would have probably known at the time, but it was news to me when I found out recently.

It isn't surprising though.  While I would classify Rumpletilskinz as being a bit more 'rugged' than Leaders, they clearly have similarities, particularly in the way the lean on gang vocals to spice up their rhymes.  Another group that they remind me of a bit is Das Efx.   Not because they're using the 'diggity' flow or anything like that, but they have a mood that feels similar and the beat also have a little bit of a grimy sound to them.

I don't remember loving the Rumpletilskinz album back when I bought it in '93.  It's clearly not one that I spent as much time with back then, but listening to it now givers me a whole new appreciation for what they were trying to do.  It's really good golden era hip hop.  Strong beats, solid rhymes and a throwback to a time where even a group on the margins could end up with a major label deal and a video on Yo! MTV Raps.

Rumpletilskinz - What Is A Rumpletilskin?:

Monday, June 13, 2022

Good Grief – Shake Your Faith LP - Yellow Vinyl


Everything Sucks / Happy Happy Birthday To Me (2022)

I'm pretty sure that the first time I saw the name Good Grief, it was because of a split 7" they released with BuzzorHowl on Boss Tuneage/Drunken Sailor, though I think the first time I actually heard them was their contribution to the All In Vinyl split 7" series in 2016.  The contributed half of a 7" with Future Virgins on the other side.  I really liked their songs in particular, so I've just been keeping an eye on them ever since.

Now, granted I'm not sure that I figured it would be six years before the next release came out, but there are a lot of things about 2022 that I don't think I could have seen coming in 2016.  But hey, Shake Your Faith is here and I think it was worth the wait.  Good Grief have a strong pop punk foundation, but layered on top of that is a Pavement/Archers of Loaf sort of indie rock vibe that meshes beautifully with those strong hooks.

My pop punk bias does set in though, as I inevitably tend to enjoy the faster, hookier songs on the album the most.  "How Can I Help Falling In Love," "New Town" and "The Oldest Thing On Earth" are the songs that I keep going back to the most, but the entire album is a great listen.  It just has that vibe of an upbeat and warm record, perfect for a weekend morning where you're not quite sure if you need to get motivated to start your day or revel in the fact that you don't really have to do anything and could just as easily hang out in your pajamas all day.

Good Grief - Shake Your Faith:

Friday, June 10, 2022

Record Store Day Haul #2: Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95 2xLP - Orange Vinyl & Green Vinyl

Record Store Day Haul #2: Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95 2xLP - Orange Vinyl & Green Vinyl

Merge (2022, Reissue)

When I pulled up to Factory Records for Record Store Day at 11am, I thought there might be a chance the Czarface record might be there as it was a pretty big pressing.  I had way less confidence that they'd still have Superchunk still floating around, but what do you know, there was one left.

This is an older Superchunk singles comp that came out back in the 90s and was one that I only had on CD.  I'd never grabbed the vinyl version, so I was excited that it was finally being reissued as a double LP.  These are great Superchunk songs from when they were arguably at the height of their powers, cranking out classic after classic.  They dipped into some slower albums after this though came rocketing back in 2010 with Magesty Shredding.

This year they put out another new record, but it's kind of back to sleepytime Superchunk and to be honest I haven't really connected with it.  But hearing the songs on this comp again just reminds me that no matter what, this is a band that has put so much good into the world.  Just because I'm not feeling the new record doesn't mean it's time to write them off.  I'm very confident they could come back with another ripper.

Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95:

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Record Store Day Haul #1: Czarface - Czarmageddon LP


Silver Age (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.

As I wrote about on Monday. I went to a new to me record store for Record Store Day this year.  I honestly didn't have high hopes that they would be stocking the records I needed, but I figured it would just be nice to get out of the house for an hour or two if nothing else.  Low and behold, they had both records I needed and the first one is the new Czarface album.

I fell into Czarface later than probably everybody, but I have been trying to make up for lost time.  Their new record is great, full of the sort of old school drum cracks and full, rich sounding samples that I find completely missing in modern hip hop.  Lyrically, Esoteric and Inspectah Deck dig into some deep nerdy cuts spinning tales and references about comic books, sci fi, pro wrestling and just about anything else that you probably had some passing interest in when you were a kid.  Combine that with the top notch production and you've got something pretty good going.

I can't say I really dig the track "Big Em Up," but aside from that there are eleven songs that fit right in with the sort of hip hop I want to listen to.  Especially when Kool Keith shows up on "Fearless & Inventive" talking about IG-88 and Dengar.  I'm not exactly sure how this Record Store Day version differs from anything else.  It comes with trading cards, but best I can tell any other version of the vinyl you can buy online also seems to have trading cards.  Maybe they'll just disappear on an eventual repress.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Record Store Visit: Factory Records - Dover, NJ - 04/23/22


The best record store that was left in New Jersey was Vintage Vinyl.  Sadly, it finally shut down on July 31, 2021.  That was my usual haunt when Record Store Day came around, though I gave up waiting in line for hours before the store opened many years ago.  But I did still like to get out on RSD and just sort of see the sights and pick through the leftovers.

This year, there were actually three records that I wanted.  In perusing the RSD website, I saw that Factory Records in Dover was supposedly participating.  This was a new record store that had opened up in the past couple of years that I'd never been to.  it's also only about 20 minutes away.  From what I'd seen about them online, I wasn't really sure that they would stock the sort of records that I was looking for, but I decided to pop over there at around 11am, figuring most of the early morning chaos was probably over.

I wasn't really expecting to find the RSD releases I wanted, plus of the three I was after, one of them ended up getting pushed back to the second June RSD drop.  But I went in and was greeted at the door by a really nice guy who asked if I'd been here before, I said no and that it was my fist time and he just told me a little bit about the store.  Very nice.  Then I went into the store, which is pretty damn big

They had a whole special room set aside for Record Store Day releases.  You were given a ticket and they essentially started a timer where you had ten or fifteen minutes to start going through the RSD releases, no backtracking, just work your way around the room.  Super organized.  And amazingly, they had both of the records I was looking for at 11am after being opened for many hours.  A real treat.

After gathering my RSD bounty, I perused the rest of the store.  Very big, lots of record and they were organized really well.  They definitely have a focus on used records and reissues, but the selection was solid and the condition of the used records were top notch (aside from the 'dollar bin' stuff towards the back, but that's the point of that section).  If you are looking to deep dive into a specific or obscure genre, this probably isn't the best place for that.  The curation is pretty broad, but it is expansive and I did find a used Souls of Mischief record that I had been looking for.

I definitely wish it had a stronger punk rock section and that there was a bit more emphasis on 7"s that weren't 60s and 70s rock jukebox type records.  But, considering where it is and how long they have been open, I thought I was a pretty fun day and a great store.  

I don't even really know if being the type of record store that has a super deep and specific focus on a genre is really even in their plans, though I do think that Vintage Vinyl did a great job of stocking the obvious, while also digging deep due to knowledgable staff.  

Maybe Factory Records will get there at some point, but for now they're a store that is starting off strong and I'll definitely be heading back there this weekend to try to get the last RSD release I was looking for that got pushed back from the original date.

Friday, June 3, 2022

The Get Up Kids - Two EPs: Red Letter Day and Woodson


Defiance (2002)

I will never claim to be the biggest Get Up Kids fan in the world, but man oh man did I just love the Woodson EP and the other assorted singles that came out before and right around the time of their first album.  I like their first record Four Minute Mile just fine, but it's the stuff that came out leading up to it that really is what got my attention.  By the time that second album with the robots on the cover came out, they had changed into something I didn't really have any interest in.

But let's get back to Woodson.  I have the two 7"s that make up the Woodson CD EP, but let's be honest, it is something of a hassle to pull out two 7"s in order to listen to four songs.  I recently discovered this German vinyl release of Woodson and the Red Letter Day EP.  I had Red Letter Day as a 10" on green vinyl, but I sold it, probably about ten to fifteen years ago.  Pretty sure I got a decent amount for it, but I hadn't listened to it in ages.

When this record came in I relistened to the Red Letter Day side and you know what, those songs are pretty decent.  They're not as good as the ones from Woodson, but they're probably just as good as the first album, which I also haven't listened to in forever.  The four Woodson songs still rule.  I only wish they put the version of "I'm A Loner Dottie, a Rebel" from the Braid split on here too, then it would have been perfect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Leaders of the New School - T.I.M.E. 2xLP


Elektra (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 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 was super into the first Leaders of the New School album A Future Without a Past.  "Case of the PTA" was a song that really resonated with me when I used to see the video on Yo! MTV Raps.  Then there was the star making performance by the Leaders on "Scenario."  I was pretty excited when T.I.M.E. was being released and while I don't really have any memories of seeing any videos for it on Yo!, I definitely got the record right away when it was released.

I was very disappointed in it and never really listened to it.  I've just always mentally filed T.I.M.E. as a bad second record and then they broke up.  Within the last couple of years I decided to listen to it again to see if I missed something the first time around.  Well, I missed everything somehow.  I cannot possibly tell you what I was looking for in 1993 that this album didn't deliver because when I listen to it today, it's pretty great.

The production is classic golden era style beats, rich and full of life.  The vocals are stellar from all 2 MCs and while Busta Rhymes certainly steals the spotlight on a pretty regular basis, Dinco D and Charlie Brown constantly prove that they were criminally overlooked on the mic.  This LP hasn't been reissued at all, unlike Leaders' debut, so it took me a while to find a decently priced copy in good condition.  This one sounds amazing and only has a promo notch cut out of the cover, so it will fit the bill admirably for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Del The Funky Homosapien & Tame One – Parallel Uni-Verses LP - Purple Vinyl


Parallel Thought Ltd. (2018, 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.

Even though Del the Funky Homosapien is My favorite all-time hip hop artist, sometimes I still find myself not able to keep up with his various releases.  He always seems to be working on something and this 2009 team up album with Tame One was no exception.  I had no clue this was a thing in 2009, it wasn't until the 2018 vinyl version was pressed did it pop up on my radar.  When it did I was kind of surprised that of all people to do an album with, it was Tame One from Atrifacts.

Don't get me wrong, Artifacts a great and represent NJ very well in the world of hip hop.  I just never really pegged them as out there as Del can be at times.  What really surprised me was just how well they did end up working together.  In some ways it reminds me a lot of how well Del meshes with Casual.  Tame One, like Cas, keeps things moving and while I can't call his performance on this album straightforward, it's certainly more grounded than Del and as a result the song structures feel a bit more sturdy.

Del really brings the heat on this one.  Since he only tackles half of the vocals, it's even more impactful when he cuts in with his trademark flow, dropping complicated lyrical structures and rhymes.  The production is pretty solid.  While it's certainly more of a modern sound than the usual golden era boom bap that I prefer, the bass if full and the drums have an aggressive crack to them.  It doesn't sound like some of the minimalist bullshit that seems so popular these days.  These beats have teeth to them, even if the samples are a little more spacey than the more soul and funk driven style that I tend to prefer.

Del The Funky Homosapien & Tame One – Parallel Uni-Verses:

Friday, May 20, 2022

despAIR jordan - Before Your Wings Gave Out 12" - Gray Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

despAIR jordan (did they think people might not get the joke if they didn't capitalize AIR?) is a Denver based band, like so many others that are part of the Snappy Little Numbers universe.  They also sound completely different than pretty much any other band on SNL which is part of the reason that I'm always interested to see what the label will do next.  Though admittedly, I tend to like the pop punk sounding stuff the best.

despAIR jordan is not pop punk.  They have a late 80s, early 90s shoegaze alternative sound that makes me think of bands like The Cure or Depeche Mode, particularly in regards to the vocals.  The songs are pretty slow, deliberate and long.  there are six songs on the vinyl, though the download comes with four extras.  I'm not sure if it was a timing reason that those songs weren't on the vinyl or if it's because it would have been too long to fit everything.

I can't say this is my favorite record I've heard lately.  I like my rock a bit crunchier and/or more upbeat and these songs kind of just feel like downers to me.  That said, they do as good a job as anyone with this style of music.  The musicianship is strong and the production is great.  It's just that for me, this kind of thing just tends to fade into the background when I listen to it.

despAIR jordan - Before Your Wings Gave Out:

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rocket From The Crypt – Live From Camp X-Ray LP - Yellow w/ Black Splatter Vinyl


Vagrant (2022, Reissue)

And here is the second bonus post of the week.  Because I missed Monday and because there isn't much to say about two records that I've already written about five other times each, I decided to post these on Tuesday and Thursday - days that I typically don't write anything.  Thus, bonus.

Another reissue of Live From Camp X-Ray, this time on yellow w/ black splatter.  I don't understand vinyl colors that have nothing to do with the artwork or color scheme, but alas, not all share that opinion.  No matter the vinyl color, if you put a Rocket From The Crypt record in front of me, I will buy it.

Rocket From The Crypt – Live From Camp X-Ray:

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over LP


Get On Down (2018, 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.

Tha Alkaholiks are one of those Golden Era hip hop groups that I was absolutely aware of back when I was in high school, but I didn't have any of their records and I don't remember seeing their videos on Yo! MTV Raps.  They're probably just another one of those acts that I read about in The Source but was not ever able to follow up on due to access or financial limitations, so I hadn't heard anything of theirs until the last few years.

The real highlight here is how great the beats are throughout the album.  They're cobbled together with quirky, funky bass lines and trunk thumping percussion.  As MCs, these boys hold their own for sure, though I can't say any of them really comes off as being an elite lyricist.  They carry the songs just fine though and I find myself engaged the whole time.  There's more sophomoric references to being drunk than I think are necessary, but again in general the lyrics are solid and compliment the production.

I do think I would have liked this even more if I had been able to hear it back in 1993 when it originally came out.  Coming at it twenty plus years later was cool, as it's always nice to hear something new that sounds like the sort of hip hop I enjoy listening to, but if I had been able to live with the record more intently as a youngster I can only assume it would have stuck with me pretty good.

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over:

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Rocket From The Crypt – Group Sounds LP - Orange w/ Black & White Splatter


Vagrant (2022, Reissue)

I wasn't able to get anything written up for yesterday, so I'm going to throw out a couple of bonus posts today and Thursday to make up for it.  Also because neither of these records really warrant a full on write up, since they are just different colored vinyl variants of records I have opined on numerous times in the past.  Vagrant just seems intent on giving me the option to buy these records over and over again.

And speaking of, here it is: the newest version of Group Sounds.  This time it's pressed using the orange with black splatter color way that's typically more associated with Live From Camp X-Ray.  But, I am an annoying variant hunter for Rocket From The Crypt, so I must keep the collection up to date.  It's also an amazing record, but you can read about why in one of the other five posts I've put up about this record.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:

Friday, May 13, 2022

Sugar - File Under Easy Listening LP


Merge (2012, Reissue)

This purchase probably wasn't one hundred percent necessary, but my original copy of File Under Easy Listening is nearly thirty years old at this point.  It still sounds great, but as this is one of my absolute favorite albums, I thought it made sense to grab a copy of the Merge reissue when I saw it go on sale.  For the price, it just seemed like a very worthwhile investment.

The bonus is that the vinyl really sounds great.  It's full and warm sounding, perfectly highlighting those big crunchy guitar riffs.  I know that a lot of people (and what feels to me like a majority) point to Husker Du as Bob Mould's greatest work.  For me, I'll take Sugar every time.  And even more controversial is that I think File Under Easy Listening is superior to Copper Blue.  Take that world.

I'm sure that has something to do with the fact that this album was the first Bob Mould related release that I ever bought.  And it doesn't hurt that I am borderline obsessed with the song "Gee Angel."  Top to bottom I love every song on this album though.  It probably just entered my consciousness at just the right time and has stayed with me all of these years later.

Sugar - File Under Easy Listening:

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

X Clan - To The East, Blackwards LP


4th & B'way (1990)

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.

When I was in high school I had the second X Clan album Xodus.  I really dug it, though would occasionally get fed up with Professor X's Emo Phillips style delivery.  I knew some of the singles from their first album from Yo! MTV Raps, but I never owned it until now.  

This one was a little tougher to track down than Xodus.  I got Xodus on Discogs for about twenty dollars and it was still sealed.  For To The East, Blackwards I had to hunt for a while to find a copy that was in good condition and was an affordable price.  I assume because this album seems to be the more popular and fondly remembered of their two records.  I'm not sure I would agree with that ranking, but I do know it's a great record.

I think the reason I would give the edge to Xodus rests solely on the production.  The bar of hip hop production was raised by such an incredible amount between 1990 and 1992.  X Clan followed suit and Xodus has beats that I think sound fuller and are more interesting.  But that's not to take anything away from this record.  Judging by 1990 standards, the beats are pretty great.  Brother J just tears it apart every time he touches a mic and Professor X's random interjections are pretty entertaining.

Considering some of the more obscure hip hip records that have been rereleased in recent years, I'm pretty surprised no one has touched X Clan yet.  Maybe the rights are tied up in some annoying conglomerate, but I think both of their records are deserving of wider availability.

X Clan - To The East, Blackwards:

Monday, May 9, 2022

Harshmellow - Wrong From Right 7" - Orange Vinyl /1000


DDC (2022)

A particularly influential band in the early days of my punk rock discovery, and a long time favorite, is fluf.  Their early 90s records on Headhunter are some of the records I've probably listened to more than most others.  I spent a lot of time back then hunting down their 7"s.  I also joined their "Value Club" back then to get the membership card and exclusive 7".  Not sure what happened to the card (where they took a picture I sent them and drew a mustache on it), but the record is still tucked away safely.

Harshemellow is a new band fronted by O from fluf and it has the same sort of big, crunchy guitar tones and melodic vocals that I've been missing for so very long.  It's a three song 7"er with two originals and an X cover.  Everything is great and the two originals, in particular, get me really excited about hearing more from Harshmellow.  

The songs are perfectly upper-mid tempo slices of rock and roll.  The hooks are memorable and hit exactly the way I would want them to.  And it's just really cool to hear O singing again.  He's got a really memorable voice that, like an old pair of slippers, just sort of feels comfortable and reliable.  Something that's been part of the soundtrack of my life for such a long time.  It's great to have it back.  From what I see on their instagram, it appears they're working on a full length and I cannot wait to get my hands on that.

Harshmellow - Wrong From Right 7":

Friday, May 6, 2022

Pavement - Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal CD


Matador (2022)

Your eyes do not deceive you.  I have, in fact, purchased the CD version of an album that was also available on vinyl.  There were multiple reasons for this, not the least of which was the $80 price differential between the two.  But on top of that, only two of the super deluxe Pavement albums have been released on vinyl.  If Slanted & Enchanted, Crooked Rain or Wowee Zowee were available, I probably would have picked this up on vinyl as well, just to keep the collection complete.  Since I have all of the other deluxes on CD, it made sense to keep up the consistency there.  Lastly, Terror Twilight has always been my least favorite Pavement record and after delving through all of the demos and B sides of the era I can still say that to be true.

When Terror Twilight came out I wasn't impressed.  I know that's a feeling shared by many, but unlike the vast majority of people out there, I hadn't liked Brighten The Corners that much either.  The peak to me was always Wowee Zowee, though I adored everything that came before it as well.  I felt then, as I do now, that Terror Twilight is just kind of boring.  There some nice songs like Major Leagues and Spit On A Stranger, but nothing that really jumps out as being unique in the way I always felt Pavement was.  One of the reasons I didn't like Brighten The Corners as much as the other albums was because it felt too safe.  It was straightforward.  But if you compare it to Terror Twilight, it's practically avant garde.

When it comes to bonus material, there's not really anything particularly exciting here either.  One of the new unreleased songs, "Be The Hook," is pretty fun, but not remarkable.  And since they stuck it on a reissued 12" single of Spit On A Stranger, I'll probably just grab that so I can have it on vinyl.  Most everything else is demos that don't really differ too much from the final product aside from fidelity and a few B sides that I already have on a bunch of singles.  I am glad that they finally put this out, just so the collection is complete, but it's probably not something I'll listen to very much.  I have the main album on vinyl if I get the urge, the odds and ends are mostly just the sort of things that sit on a CD rack.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Yall So Stupid - Van Full Of Pakistans


Rowdy (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 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.

This is another excellent discovery I made recently as I tried to dig into older hip hop that I missed the first time around.  Yall So Stupid is a group that I definitely remember the name of from back in the 90s, though honestly the Van Full Of Pakistans album title is what I really remember.  I'm positive I read about it or maybe saw ads for it in The Source.  I don't remember seeing them on Yo! at all and I'm pretty sure that means I never actually heard them back then.

I did stumble across Yall So Stupid on one of those overlooked records of the 90s type lists and checked it out.  And it's great.  Exactly the sort of early 90s stuff that I love.  It has rich, full production with interesting bass lines and hard hitting drum loops.  Yall So Stupid is a multi MC group and each member more than holds their own over the course of this record.  They all weave complex flows through the songs and play well off of each other both when they pass the mic back and forth and also jumping in on gang vocals for the hooks.

The one thing that's a little bit of a bummer is that the vinyl is missing four songs that are on the CD, but yet they managed to fit on six interlude skit things.  I'm on record as not being a huge fan of hip hop skits, though these ones aren't really all that annoying to be honest.  What irks me is that they could have fit on at least one of the missing songs if they cut out the skits,  This is an album just screaming for a double LP reissue that includes all of the tracks.  Looking at you 90s tapes.

Yall So Stupid - "Introduce Me":

Monday, May 2, 2022

Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray LP


Salinas (2022)

Oh man, I was so excited when this new Quaker Wedding LP showed up in the mail.  I was such a big fan of their debut LP and the lathe cut 7" that came out last year only whetted my appetite for more songs.  Total Disarray is everything I wanted in a follow up and I'm just blown away with how great is is.

Now, the easy and lazy comparison to make is that there are elements of Jawbreaker present when you listen to Quaker Wedding.  They don't flat out sound like Jawbreaker, but the influence is there and it's just one of those bands that you kind of have to bring up.  If I mention Jawbreaker, chances are you've heard of them and know what they sound like.  And, there's a pretty good chance that if you're reading my website you probably like Jawbreaker at least a little bit and maybe would then be more inclined to check out Quaker Wedding.  It's a win/win comparison, but that still doesn't make me feel any better about writing it.

For me personally, I hear a sound similar to a great, forgotten 90s band from Davis, CA called Playground.  There's the same sort of churning rhythm section laying the foundation for guitar action, sometimes in the form of furious riffage and other times just some light, textural strumming that's inevitable building to a raucous chorus.  

The other big touchstone for me is the endlessly hook-filled, but rough and gravelly vocals.  I'm certainly partial to that sort of thing and Quaker Wedding doesn't disappoint with songs just begging to be sung along to in your car, maybe driving slightly faster than you intended.  There's been some outstanding records so far in 2022, it's been the best year for new records in quite some time already.  But, Quaker Wedding might not have the same sort of spotlight on them as some of the other records that have come out.  It's up to you to make sure you don't miss one of the absolute highlights of the year.

Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray: