Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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

Untitled

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:
https://parallelthought1.bandcamp.com/album/parallel-uni-verses

Friday, May 20, 2022

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

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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:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/before-your-wings-gave-out-deluxe-digital-with-hell-year-ep

Thursday, May 19, 2022

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

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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:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nKnmzeI1FIkTtSDffvbLqcPOwW_sQhUt0

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over LP

Untitled

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:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mJuHTafRFFmShFygn8Bk_SJUNbUrXRvcs

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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

Untitled

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: 
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6lTOyJ0taau3r39jaedwqgMTAlHG4z1o

Friday, May 13, 2022

Sugar - File Under Easy Listening LP

Untitled

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:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lvHmVzheRcXQV_2-QviaypWdxhDoMUcp8

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

X Clan - To The East, Blackwards LP

Untitled

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:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mv_uN4zq1L7-pjh-H0_dLo01OWuC06oIA

Monday, May 9, 2022

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

Untitled

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":
https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=nx3zkNeOdDs&list=OLAK5uy_nBcTjBCRksity-UwM2jYBacIdZ74fLk7c


Friday, May 6, 2022

Pavement - Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal CD

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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

Untitled

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":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3Bp9WMbe9I&ab_

Monday, May 2, 2022

Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray LP

Untitled

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:
https://quakerwedding.bandcamp.com/album/total-disarray

Friday, April 29, 2022

Superchunk - Wild Loneliness LP - Green w/ Yellow Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2022)

Kind of weird to not be writing about Godzilla on Friday now.  Luckily there are more Toho soundtracks on the horizon.  When I wrote about the Endless Summer 7" on Monday, I had noted that I sat on it for a while and didn't write about it in a timely manner.  Part of that was limited days to write about rock music while the Godzilla and Ed Lover days were taking up two of my three review spots of the week.  But the other side was that I just wasn't very excited by the song.  I was hopeful that I'd be more impressed with the full length.  Sadly, I am not.

I don't really know what to say about Wild Loneliness.  It's not like it's a bad record with bad songs.  The songs themselves are beautifully written and performed.  There's an attention to detail and craft that you're not going to find just anywhere, but I think what it boils down to is that I just find the record kind of boring.  It's so loaded full of acoustic guitar strumming over slow tempo songs that whenever I put it on, it fades into the background and I find that I'm not paying much attention to it after a while.

There's ten songs on the album and nine of them are pretty much as I described above, slow.  The only time Superchunk kicks it up a bit is on the eighth song "Refracting."  It's easily the best song on the album and at least contains a little bit of the energy that is what I want out of a Superchunk record.  It takes all sorts of fans to keep a band going for as long as Superchunk has been.  I'm sure there will be a contingent of fans that will like this, particularly amongst the Indoor Living/Come Pick Me Up set.  For me, this will just end up as a Superchunk record on my shelf as I just can't imagine picking it up when there's a double digit amount of better albums sitting right next to it.

Superchunk - Wild Loneliness:
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/album/wild-loneliness

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Beastie Boys - Ill Communication 2xLP

Untitled

Capitol / Grand Royal (2009, 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 have developed a pretty crazy pile of backlogged hip hop albums that I haven't gotten to write about yet.  Some of them are probably over a year old at this point, which is kind of nutty, but I'm gradually making my way through them.  One of the oldest in the pile is Ill Communication something I picked up quite a while ago when the record was popping in and out of print for a bit there. I like the Beastie Boys a lot, but I'm also kind of picky with them regarding what albums I actually like and even them I'm kind of critical on what I consider filler on those albums.  Ill Communication, while not my favorite Beasties album, is probably the best one to listen to straight through without running into tracks that slow things down.

This album originally came out in 1994, which was such a huge year for me music wise.  I was starting to get a little disgruntled with hip hop (see: Warren G & Nate Dogg type nonsense) and getting into Beck had started to open my eyes into the world of indie rock and punk.  Ill Communication was probably one of the last hip hop albums that came out in 94 that really clicked with me.  It has some pretty killer songs on it like "Sure Shot," "Root Down," "Flute Loop" and the untouchable "Get It Together."  You're going to have a hard time finding many albums with four songs that great on it.

It also has "Sabotage."  That's a song that I do not understand at all.  I didn't like it in 1994 and I still don't really like it.  I don't care how cool the video is, it still just sounds like a bunch of yelling to me.  But what do I know, I really dislike the song "Intergalactic" as well and I know plenty of people who swear by that one.

I'll never like this one quite as much as I like Check Your Head and I think a lit of that is time and place.  Check Your Head hit in the middle of my complete and unadulterated fixation with hip hop, but the time Ill Communication came out, I was starting to get ready to move on to other things.  The album truly holds up great and in a lot of ways I like it more now than I did when it first came out, but I think that if it had been released just a year earlier, I probably would have been completely obsessed with it.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Superchunk - Endless Summer 7" - Yellow Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2021)

I sat on this 7" for a bit too long.  It's no longer a precursor for an upcoming LP as the LP has been out for a little bit now.  But, I figured I should probably document this 7" before I get into the full length in the next few posts.  

"Endless Summer" is a song from the full length and is a Superchunk original.  It's a mid tempo song with its foundation built off the strumming of an acoustic guitar.  It has the nice melodies of a typical Superchunk song, but for me it's just a little too slow.  When I look at the Superchunk catalog, I tend to be into the faster songs and albums like Indoor Living are ones that I tend to not revisit as often.  This song is more in line with that sort of lower key Superchunk sound.

The B side is a cover song called "When I Laugh."  It was originally done by a band called The Glands, though I can't say that I'm familiar with the original.  The Superchunk version is alright.  Like "Endless Summer" it's solidly mid tempo.  Nothing too fast or frantic here.  Good hooks, mellow vibes - again a totally fine song.  I'm just used to expecting a bit more than 'fine' from Superchunk.  They had been on a tear lately and it's odd to me that they left turned back to mellow stuff.

Superchunk - "Endless Summer":
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/track/endless-summer

Friday, April 22, 2022

Terror of Mechagodzilla LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the past several Fridays I've be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Here we are, the final LP in this fifteen album boxset containing the soundtracks to all of the Showa era Godzilla movies.  It's been a blast revisiting the movies and the music over the past many weeks.  While I'm sure it wasn't everyone's cup of tea, it was very satisfying for me to write about all of these.  I also think that it is appropriate that the box set wraps up with my favorite Godzilla movie, Terror of Mechagodzilla.

This was a movie that I had on VHS at a pretty young age and boy oh boy did I wear it out watching it over and over and over again.  I love the design of Mechagodzilla.  I love the wacky Interpol storyline.  And even though I always watch the Japanese language version these days, I even love the ridiculous dubbed English version as it's just the sound of my childhood.  But my favorite part might actually be the third monster in the film, Titanosaurus.  The design is fabulous and he might have the best roar (warble?) in all of Toho.  A terribly overlooked monster that needs more toys and shirts immediately.

For the soundtrack Akira Ifukube makes his return and final appearance in the Showa series, providing a dark and ominous soundscape that has a great mix of new passages and previously known Godzilla music.  The triumph of the main title from the original 1954 Godzilla making multiple appearances whenever Godzilla is around is just perfect for this film.

And that wraps it up for the Waxwork Showa Era Godzilla box set.  I really cannot say enough great things about how amazing this set ended up being.  The art for every album is incredible.  The box itself is super sturdy and looks beautiful on the shelf.  The extra turntable slipmat is a lot of fun and most important of all, the records all sound amazing.  Hearing these soundtracks on vinyl, coming from my old 70s Marantz receiver is just one of the most perfect sounding things I've ever heard.  I am so grateful they took on this project and am eagerly awaiting some of the other Toho soundtracks that I already have on preorder from them.

Terror of Mechagodzilla - "Main Title Theme":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz1wuhHPazQ&ab_

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Blahzay Blahzay - Blah Blah Blah 2xLP - Brown Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Tuff Kong (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 said it many times, but aside from a few things here and there, I completely checked out of hip hop in about 1994 after about a five year run of it being my whole world, musically speaking.  It just felt that the fun and innovation had been driven out of rap and my never ending desire to hear something new and different was instead embraced by punk and indie rock.  Over the years I've heard a few albums that I missed out on that came out in 93 or 94, maybe even the occasional 1995 release that I didn't know about.  But Blahzay Blahzay came out in 1996.  That might as well be a different century compared to the type of hip hop I usually listened to.

Regardless of it's original year of release, Blahzay Blahzay's debut album Blah Blah Blah could have stood alongside of just about anything that was released during the timeline that I consider the golden era.  The beats are full on New York boom bap.  It's a rough edged sound that owes influence in equal parts to Gang Starr, EPMD and Tribe Called Quest.  Lyrically, the rhymes are straightforward and powerful, weaving stories, calling out inferior MCs and handling the mic with a deep flow, steeped in gravitas.

I never heard Blahzay Blahzau when the record originally came out.  I don't know if it would have been possible for me to, in all honesty.  I was on a completely different wavelength by then and even if I wasn't, I can't imagine this sort of sound is something that would have been pushed or promoted properly considering what was 'hot' at the time.  But I am really glad I eventually stumbled across this.  Along with Mysterme & DJ 20/20 and The Future Sound, Blahzay Blahzay are one of the best discoveries I've made while digging back into the sounds of 90s hip hop.

Monday, April 18, 2022

PLOSIVS - PLOSIVS - Red Vinyl & Black Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Swami (2022)

Before I get into this wonderful, wonderful album, I just wanted to mention that as the release date of the record approached, I tried to read some reviews on it to see what others thought.  The sheer amount of awful websites that copy and paste the press release and pass that off as a review is staggering to me.  It makes me wonder if any of them even bothered to listen to it.  

It's very easy to write that John Reis is also in Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, Night Marchers, Sultans and more while pointing out the Rob Crow has history in Pinback, Thingy, Heavy Vegetable and others.  Throw out that Atom Willard used to drum for Rocket From The Crypt and has spent time in Against Me, Special Goodness, Offspring, etc.  And Maybe Jordan Clark will get a mention for his work in Mrs. Magician and The Soaks.  Maybe.  

Look at that.  I just filled up an entire paragraph without actually saying anything.  I'm not going to pretend that I'm a great writer with anything particularly useful to say.  Anyone who reads this dumb website knows I just blather on about records and often I write more about my relationship to said record than any intricacy of what the record sounds like or is trying to convey.  But I'll be damned if I just copy a press release and pretend I wrote it.

Diatribe aside, what you need to know about this PLOSIVS record is that it is unbelievably great.  Mind-melting perfection.  I have been a Swami devotee since about 1994, when I first got my hands on a borrowed copy of Circa: Now.  Since then I have joyfully followed John to every band he has been a part of, loving every single thing he's ever touched.  There's always been something about the way his songs come out that really connect to my ears.  But even with all of that history and the insanely lofty expectations that come along with it, I was shocked by just how completely, ridiculously amazing this PLOSIVS record is.

You've got some of John's familiar aesthetic here for sure.  The chugging guitar riffs that drive the songs and the intricate breakdowns that crop up and veer off into unexpected territory that miraculously makes perfect sense when it reconnects back to the main song structure.  But as familiar as you might be with the tricks of John's trade, adding Rob Crow to the mix just blows up everything you thought you knew.  Rob's complete mastery of vocal melodies and innate ability to cram a hook into a song that maybe wasn't expecting one elevates PLOSIVS into mythical territory.

I could go on and on and on about how much I adore Hot Snakes and Night Marchers and everything that John has been involved in, but this truly is one of the best records that has his name on it.  Sure, Rocket will always be my favorite band he's done, but I'll put this PLOSIVS record up against anything he's done in the past, I don't know, twenty years?  And that's twenty years filled with some of the greatest albums I've ever heard in my entire life.

I am a pretty big Pinback fan, I have all of the records and listen to them regularly (especially Summer In Abaddon), but PLOSIVS is probably the best thing Rob Crow has ever released in my humble opinion.  There's an energy and a propulsion that I think is bringing out the best in him.  I know that Atom is an incredible drummer and hearing him with John again is rekindling a magical connection.  Pairing Atom with Jordan on bass gives these songs a depth and a vigor that reminds me a little bit of how Mark Trombino and Mike Kennedy created something really special in Drive Like Jehu.  PLOSIVS has a completely different vibe than Jehu, but a killer rhythm section making songs magical is something they very much have in common. 

There are two versions of the LP.  The red vinyl is the regular edition that you can get at your local record store or online retailer of your choice.  Once again a Swami related band has the black vinyl as the more limited version.  So far it has only been available directly from the band at shows.  I got my copy when I saw them play in Philadelphia.  An unsurprisingly wonderful show.  I am not positive that the black vinyl is limited to 200 copies, but if the quantities of other limited Swami releases are an indicator, I'm going to make an educated guess and just come back and correct it if I find out other information.

I don't know who is still reading at this point.  If you come to this website, you probably are naturally inclined to like something like PLOSIVS.  I don't know that anything I write is going to make you listen to this record if you weren't already planning to.  But what I can say is that this is hands down the best album of 2022.  It's probably the best record I've heard in the last ten years and I'm saying this with only about a month of listening to it.  It's kind of crazy just how completely I've connected with this record.  I love every second of it and can only wait, hoping for more.  I have read that they've already recorded a lot of their second LP already.  I would be happy to get two PLOSIVS records in a year.  I'll take that every year.

PLOSIVS - PLOSIVS:
https://music.youtube.com/channel/UC2XGi1rWjD3eUL-HtChZziA

Friday, April 15, 2022

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

The 1970s Mechagodzilla is such an amazingly cool design.  I have loved it since I was a small child, but it took me a while to finally see the movie where it first appeared.  While I will write about it more next week, Terror of Mechagodzilla is my favorite Godzilla movie and one that I saw a million times as a young kid.  I'm not even completely positive I knew that there was a prior movie with Mechagodzilla in it, though the big long intro that happens during Terror of Mechagodzilla does point that out pretty clear.  This is pre-internet folks, do you really think there was an easy to find list of what Godzilla movies existed when I was 8 years old in 1984?

I did finally come across a VHS copy of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, I'd say when I was maybe twelve or thirteen years old?  I remember being very surprised with how odd it was.  Especially considering Godzilla's new buddy King Caesar.  King Caesar is a giant, brown, furry rabbit like thing that moves really fast and gesticulates wildly.  He was there to give Godzilla the two on one babyface advantage, which everyone knows is poor psychology.  

This fulfills the prophecy that the movie is built around: "When a black mountain appears above the clouds, a huge monster will arise and try to destroy the world; but when the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west, two monsters shall appear to save the people."  Not sure why that is still so clear to me after all of these years, but they do really hammer it home during the human part of the plot.

The soundtrack was handled by Godzilla veteran Masaru Sato.  There are elements of Ifukube style suspense and dread, but there's also a lot of weirdly upbeat passages where characters just kind of feel like they're bebopping around.  It's an interesting mix, but one that I do still find enjoyable.  And look at the art on this LP cover.  It's gorgeous and like all of the others in this set, it just sounds superb.  Next week we tackle the very last LP on the Showa collection.  For the ones that have enjoyed this fifteen week odyssey, sadly it's coming to an end.  For those looking for pop punk, don't worry you've only got one more Friday to go.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla - "Main Title Theme":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u0DJFWXVpg&ab_ 


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Czarface - Every Hero Needs A Villain 2xLP

Untitled

Brick (2015)

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.

After ignorantly ignoring Czarface when they first started releasing records, I've been trying to make up for lost time and backtrack on their catalog.  I've mostly tracked down all of the main releases, but I am still looking for one of the RSD instrumental records at a nice price.  Every Hero Needs A Villain was the second Czarface record, once again featuring Esoteric and Inspectah Deck on the mic with 7L handling the production.

It's really a Golden Era style hip hop album with great, hard hitting beats and lyrics that weave in nods to Sci Fi, comics and an unusually large amount of pro wrestling references.  There are aspects of it that keep it more in the lineage of early 2000s underground hip hop, but if you had dropped this on Jive in 1993, it wouldn't really feel all that out of place.

There's a good amount of guest appearances, including MF Doom, GZA, Method Man and Large Professor.  But it never feels overcrowded or that the guests are taking away from the main Czarface MCs.  Everything just meshes together perfectly and again, I can't compliment the beats enough as they really make this a special album.  I'm not sure why Czarface wasn't on my radar for so long, but I'm doing everything I can to get current.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Gentlemen Rogues - Francy 7" - Red,Blue & Yellow Tri Color Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

Over the years Gentlemen Rogues have but out a bunch of singles and EPs, many of which I have written about in the past, always eager to point out that singer Danny Dunlap was also in Jill, a pop punk band of my youth very near and dear to my heart.  This newest single is their second release for Snappy Little Numbers and it contains an original and a They Might Be Giants cover, both of which are a mighty good time.

A side "Francy" is a an energetic, crunchy guitar fueled blast.  The verse builds ever so perfectly into the supremely catchy chorus.  It's power pop for sure, but has a roughness to it that reminds me that these guys have punk rock roots and that just can't help but seep in and give it that extra little something that I'm always looking for in a song.

On the B side is a cover of the They Might Be Giants song "I've Got A Match."  The original TMBG song is from the album Lincoln and while I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of theirs, I do know some of their earlier material after being exposed to them on Al TV, when Weird Al would take over MTV.  The Gentlemen Rogues version strips out the nursery school vibe and turns it into a straight forward guitar pop blast.  A different take to be sure, but one that I enjoy quite a bit.

All these great Gentlemen Rogues singles.  I enjoy them immensely, but what it does more than anything is make me continue to salivate for an eventual full length.  Let's get on that!

Gentlemen Rogues - Francy 7":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/francy-b-w-ive-got-a-match

Friday, April 8, 2022

Godzilla vs. Megalon LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Godzilla vs. Megalon is not one of the more lauded entries in the Godzilla series, but it is one that is so very near and dear to my heart.  It was the first Godzilla movie I ever owned on VHS as my mom bought it for me one day when we were at the supermarket.  I'm not sure why they were selling a Godzilla tape, but as soon as I saw it and thought that I could then watch a Godzilla movie whenever I wanted, instead of hoping to see one on Saturday morning on channel 9 or 11, I was hooked.

I watched that tape so many times as a kid and it became the cornerstone while I tried to add more VHS tapes to the collection.  I don't think I finally had all of the Show era VHS tapes until I hit high school, but I had Megalon the longest.  It's a very campy movie that is certainly weird in places.  Gigan teams up with Megalon to make a pretty fun monster tag team.  Godzilla receives help from Toho's Ultraman knockoff, Jet Jaguar - who is probably the character/thing this movie is most well known for.

Riichiro Manabe handles the score for this one, which features a pretty upbeat and jaunty feel throughout the movie.  While it doesn't have the same sort of ominous tones one would expect from an Akira Ifukube soundtrack, at least they did a proper score for this movie instead of recycling music like they did for Godzilla vs. Gigan.

Broken record time where I repeat myself again.  What Waxwork has done with this album is fantastic.  Sounds great, looks even better.  Another piece of joy on my record shelf.

Godzilla vs. Megalon - "Main Theme":

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

MC Serch - Return of the Product LP

Untitled

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.

I was a pretty huge 3rd Bass fan when I was in late grammar school/early high school.  I don't know for sure that I was aware they had actually broken up, though I imagine if it was ever mentioned in The Source, I would have read about it.  While I did prefer Prime Minister Pete Nice when 3rd Bass was together, I was certainly more than happy to pick up the debut MC Serch solo album when it came out during the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of high school in 1992.

"Here It Comes" got play on Yo! MTV Raps and I liked it enough to jump into the full CD instead of testing the water with a cassingle.  I never remember liking the album too much aside from a couple of stand out tracks, and now that I'm older and revisiting, I still kind of feel that way.  The aforementioned "Here It Comes" still strikes my fancy as does the title track "Return of the Product."  But then and now the highlight for me is "Back to the Grill."  It's a posse cut that also features Chubb Rock and a young Nas.  Not that it's the guest appearances that put it over the top, it's really just how great the beat is.  But everyone holds their own and easily makes it my favorite thing on the record.

It took a while for me to find a coy at a reasonable price.  It's never been reissued, so the only vinyl out there is thirty years old at this point.  I finally found a copy on Discogs, but it's not quite in the contidion I'd like it to be in.  There's a bit of surface noise on the vinyl itself, but it's not too noticeable most of the time.  It's a perfectly fine filler copy for now, but if they ever reissue it, I'd gladly upgrade.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Night Court - Nervous Birds! One Cassette

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers / Debt Offensive (2021)

This lingered a little longer than I would have liked as it was released this past December.  On my birthday, no less if the Bandcamp release date is accurate.  Snappy Little Numbers does a great job of unearthing bands that fit pretty perfectly into my wheelhouse.  So much so, that I even forgive them for putting out some of it on tape.  Debt Offensive is no slouch in the quality releases department either and Night Court is yet another example of this.

I watched the TV show Night Court a lot as a kid.  I'm not sure I really understood all of the jokes, but they had a wacky cast of characters and Yakov Smirnoff as a recurring guest star.  Gold.  Nervous Birds! One is also gold.  They have a lo-fi guitar sound and beat it into submission resulting in song after song just crammed full of catchy hooks.  

There are times where I hear Wavves, other times where So Cow feels like a good touchstone and still others where Pavement or Guided By Voices seem to make the most sense.  It's an album oddly anchored in early 90s indie rock and early 2010s garage rock, but somehow they mesh perfectly together.  

For me, if you put out an album that's this catchy and memorable, I'm going to be a happy guy no matter what fidelity you're recording in or what era has most inspired you.  Night Court has done that and it seems that Nervous Birds! Two is already lined up for release really soon.  Color me excited to complete the duology.

Night Court - Nervous Birds! One:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/nervous-birds-one

Friday, April 1, 2022

Godzilla vs. Gigan 2xLP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

I've always felt that by the time we hit Godzilla vs Gigan, we've reached a new section of the Show series Godzilla movies.  This and the next two Godzilla films have a vibe to them for sure.  I'm not always sure exactly what that vibe is, but it's different than the others.  It feels like they are simultaneously trying to be more comical and kid friendly, while at the same time using more blood and gore (albeit in a cartoony manner).

The real star of this film is Gigan.  What a wonderfully designed monster.  In a lot of ways I think it's actually a shame that Ghidorah is even in this movie as I think you could have very easily gotten Gigan over as a major threat without recycling a top villain from past films.  That said, I remember my younger brother and I having conversations about if Gigan and Ghidorah were the most devastating monster combo in the series.  Based on the amount of stock footage destruction, probably not...

Speaking of stock footage, that's what most of the soundtrack is as well.  Although it's credited to Akira Ifukube, it's mostly just reused passages from prior Godzilla films mixed in with sections of Atragon, Battle in Outer Space, Frankenstein Conquers the World, King Kong Escapes and some pieces that Ifukube composed for the Mitsubishi Pavilion at Expo '70 (so says Wikipedia anyway).

While not the most necessary of soundtracks, you have to release it if you're doing Godzilla soundtracks so I'm glad it's here and given the same sort of loving, attention to detail that Waxwork has given all of the soundtracks in this box set.

Godzilla vs. Gigan - "Main Title":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdbZldLDAHo&ab_


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Freestyle Fellowship - To Whom It May Concern... 2xLP

Untitled

Key Systems (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.

Despite this album coming out in 1991, right in the thick of my obsession with hip hop, Freestyle Fellowship is a group that I only ever knew the name of back then.  They were rumored to be extremely innovative MCs and I'm pretty sure I read about them in The Source, but I don't believe I ever saw them on Yo! MTV Raps and I definitely don't remember their CDs being around at the time.

So, these guys are another group that I've come to after the fact, trying to find some new-to-me sounds that take me back to the golden era.  It's something of a mixed bag.  As a whole I like the album and liked it enough to buy the newly reissued 2xLP of this album as well as the recent reissue of their second record as well.  The lyrics are strong and they are certainly innovative in a left-of-center kind of way.  

Each of the various members has a unique flow and they pile words and rhymes on top of each other.  Their styles are more complicated than even some of the most tongue twisting Hieroglyphics songs, but the downside is I don't find them as catchy or as memorable.  In a lot of ways it feels complex just for the sake of being complex rather than elevating the proceedings in a meaningful way.

I think if the beats were a little stronger it would probably help things out.  Don't get me wrong, they're perfectly serviceable and pretty strong in places, but they don't stand out in a way that a group that's hanging their hat on their inventiveness probably should.  This probably sounds like a lot of complaints about an album that I actually like quite a bit.  I think that more than anything the reality of the album didn't quite live up to the hype I'd created in my head for Freestyle Fellowship.  I had built them up in a mythical way and the reality is that they're a good group with a good record.  And that should be enough.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night LP - Green Vinyl & Black Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Swami (2022)

I think you can be a casual or occasional reader of this website and still ascertain pretty quickly that I'm moderately obsessed with every band that John Reis has been involved in over the years.  From Rocket From The Crypt to Drive Like Jehu to Hot Snakes to Sultans to Night Marchers to Pitchfork to Plosivs and every weirdo one-off done in between, I collect them all and I listen to them pretty constantly.  I've said recently that his music has simply made my life better and I'm grateful for all of the noise he's put out into the world.

This record is somewhat different.  It's the first time he's released an album exclusively under his own name (there were other projects with Blind Shake and Metz, but those band names were part of the titles for those releases).  I can't imagine that anyone who likes John's other bands wouldn't like this.  There's definitely similarities in song structure and feel.  But it's also different in that the bones of these songs are mostly built around an acoustic guitar and piano. 

That doesn't mean that John has gone troubadour and has made a quiet singer-songwriter record.  The acoustics provide the foundation, but there's electric guitar, some synth and an upbeat rhythm section that keeps everything definitely in the same punk-adjacent wheelhouse that most of John's other work also resides.  He has a sound that's really distinct and I can always hear the common thread from band to band even when the singers change and the tangents veer into different directions.

There are two versions of the record.  The standard version available in stores is on green vinyl.  The limited version is the one on black vinyl, in this case limited to 200 copies and only sold via the Swami webstore.  This isn't the first time the black one is the limited one.  It's funny to me since usually people put the premium on the colored vinyl, but I always enjoy the chase.

No surprise, but I love this record.  In particular the title track, "When I Kicked Him In The Face" and "Days Of Auld Lang Syne" are the songs that stand out the most to me as being stupendously catchy and where I would recommend folks start if they want to sample these wares.  But really, at this point do you need to sample?  If you bother reading my dumb website, you should see John's name and just know that record should be part of your collections.

Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nXej11afJ1d2xZpXMlpQk6NgInfLHKGAM

Friday, March 25, 2022

Godzilla vs. Hedorah LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Godzilla vs. Hedorah, or as I knew it as a kid; Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, is definitely one of the odder Godzilla movies out there.  But I think its inherent wackiness is one of the reasons I'm so fond of it.  Whether it's Godzilla flying as he's propelled by his own atomic breath or the sheer fact that he's fighting a monster made from pollution, this is a Godzilla movie that may not go down quite as smoothly as some of the other Showa entries.  But again, I love it.

The soundtrack is equally wacky.  The score by Riichiro Manabe shrieks and wails and then chills out only to get ramped up again.  In some ways it's kind of cartoony and in other ways it's bizarrely appropriate.  And let's not forget the SIX versions of "Give Back The Sun" which cover varying degrees of psych rock weirdness.

Again, like the others, the LP was handled in an outstanding manner by the Waxwork folks.  Sounds great, looks great and is just a shocking thing that I am allowed to have in my record collection.

Godzilla vs Hedorah - "Opening/Give Back The Sun I":
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5ttz35

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Smif-N-Wessun - Dan Shinin' 2xLP

Untitled

HHV (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.

I've mentioned it before, but my definition of the Golden Era stops in 1994.  That's kind of where I checked out on hip hop as a teenager.  It was partially fueled by my newfound interest in punk and indie rock, but it was also because there were fewer and fewer hip hop albums that I was getting excited about.  There was some sort of seismic shift that happened that rendered post 94 albums useless to me.

Dah Shinin' came out in 1995 and I never heard it.  I remember hearing the name Smif-N-Wessun and thinking it was kind of a goofy name, but I never listened to it.  I don't think I knew that they were affiliated with Black Moon and the Boot Camp Clik, I might have given them more of a chance at the time if I did.  But as I've been digging around for lost (to me) classics, I stumbled across Dah Shinin' and finally picked up a copy.

I can't, in good conscious, say this is top tier Golden Era stuff.  It is good and I like it way more than most records that came out after 1994, but it suffers a little bit from being kind of slow.  Both MCs are also on the more laid back side and coming in at an hour and eight minutes long, it probably goes on a little longer than it needs to.  That's a lot of criticisms for a record that I'm trying to convey that I think is actually good.  

What I can say on the positive side is that the beats are really strong.  They're full and layered and while I do wish they were a little more upbeat, they do match the vocal stylings of the group quite well.  And lyrically, Smif-N-Wessum really bring it on Dah Shinin'.  They are focused and creative.  They are laid back, for sure, but it does typically work out for them.  I do wonder what I would have thought of this record if it had come out in say 1993 and had some Yo! MTV Raps videos behind it, but for now I'm happy that I was able to discover it for the first time now, when I do have a greater appreciation for things I missed out on the first time.

Friday, March 18, 2022

All Monsters Attack LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

As the US has gotten better access to the original Japanese versions of Godzilla movies, they are also starting to be more commonly referred to by their Japanese names.  I'm having a little trouble adjusting to some of them, particularly Godzilla vs The Smog Monster and this film, what I've always known as Godzilla's Revenge.  All Monsters Attack is certainly a cooler sounding name than Godzilla's Revenge is, though I'm not sure that either is really a great title when you consider that the vast majority of the movie is about Minilla (the Son of Godzilla) and a kid named Ichiro.

This was historically derided as the worst Godzilla movie, though further analysis of it as a kids movie that focuses on the latchkey kid generation and the concept of standing up for yourself has seen it painted in a much more favorable light in recent years.  While I can see it for what it is in that regard, it's still my least favorite Godzilla movie and one that I don't really get a ton of joy watching.  It was always the least played VHS tape in the collection as it relies so heavily on stock footage from older films.  And that status of it being least watched hasn't changed since I upgraded to DVD and then again to Blu Ray.

The music on the soundtrack has its hits and misses.  The general score is ok and is handled by Kunio Miyauchi.  There's also a few rock style numbers that are pretty fun and break things up in a positive way.  But holy crap, the first two songs with vocals, "Monster March I" and "Monster March II" are rough listens.  Kids singing isn't my bag at the best of times, but the vocals are particularly grating here.

Like all of the albums in this box set, it looks and sounds great.  But of all of the LPs, I imagine I'll probably play this one the least.

All Monsters Attack - "Monster March":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCh2l47cRck&ab_

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill 2xLP - Red w/ Black Smoke Vinyl

Untitled

Get On Down / Columbia (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 wrote about this record before when I added the basic, single LP version to the collection.  I don't really have too much more to say about it, but I will repeat how I hated the Cypress Hill song "Phuncky Feel One" the first dozen times I heard it on Yo! MTV Raps.  I also couldn't understand why they kept playing it week after week.  They they started up the second single, "How I Could Just Kill A Man."  

My first thought was "oh no, not another Cypress Hill song," but it didn't take long for me to recognize how great a song it truly was.  It lead me to liking Cypress Hill so much that for a little while I actually wore a necklace that had their logo on it.  Hey, I was fourteen years old and it was 1991, have some empathy.

This new 2xLP version looks great, has rad liner notes in the gatefold and finally gives the album enough space to breathe over 4 sides of vinyl.  They also threw on two remixes that weren't on the first version of the album.  If you have this record already, it might be worth considering the double dip, it's pretty solid.  But if you do not already have this album, this one is pretty much a classic of the era and if I were buying any version, this is the one to get.



Monday, March 14, 2022

The Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia 2xLP - Purple Vinyl

Untitled

Capitol / Schizophonic (2021, Reissue)

I'd have to say that during the time I spent working in the music industry, there are probably only a handful of bands that I discovered strictly because I was working where I was working and doing what I was doing.  Dandy Worhols are for sure one of those bands.  I can't imagine that I would have stumbled onto them had it not been for the fact that coworkers played this record pretty often in the office.  What seemed kind of goofy at first eventually just morphed into a band that felt fun and familiar.

Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia is really the only Dandy Worhols record that I really like all that much.  I have a promo CDs of a couple of their others, but I don't think I've listened to those since the year they came out.  Thirteen Tales is on I revisit quite often.  The beginning of the record and the first four songs are kind of nondescript, if I'm honest.  To this day I tend to zone out a little bit when I fire the record up, but by the time their big hit single "Solid" comes on, I'm pretty enthralled by the rest of the album.

"Horse Pills," "Get Off" and "Shakin'" round off my favorite songs on the record, but pretty much everything from "Solid" on is really great.  I'm not even saying the first four songs are even bad, they're pretty good too, but it's more that the record just takes off into the stratosphere once we hit song number five.

I had been looking for a copy of this on vinyl for quite a while, but it had been out of print and expensive.  They finally did another pressing of it late last year and I was able to add it to the collection at long last.

 The Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mnVWfgtRZxOMxBEDs7bzoHfRsegPwGhdc

Friday, March 11, 2022

Destroy All Monsters LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021)

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

After Son of Godzilla, the Showa series really bounces back in the strongest possible way with Destroy All Monsters.  It's always been one of my favorite Godzilla movies with its all star cast of Monsters from the Toho universe.  At this point, the alien invaders taking control of a monster trope was well established, but it still doesn't take away from how much fun the movie is, particularly when we get to the battle royal at the end.  My only wish would have been a bit more of Varan, but that's picking nits.

Akira Ifukube is back for the score and it's as wonderful as anything he ever did.  Menacing when it needs to be, triumphant when it has to be.  It pulls you into the world and builds tension while reviving familiar themes and feelings.  Top notch stuff for what I've read was originally imagined to be the last Godzilla movie.

At this point I'm a broken record about the Waxwork level of quality on this thing.  As with the others, it looks great and sounds even better.  I'll say this over and over, I'm just so happy to finally be able to have something like this in my collection.

Destroy All Monsters "Main Title/Title Credits":

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Mysterme & DJ 20/20 – Let Me Explain LP

Untitled

Taha / JTLM (2020, 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 have spent a lot of time the last couple of years really trying to dig back into golden era hip hop from the late 80s and early 90s.  In addition to rediscovering records that I hadn't heard in quite some time, I've also unearthed a bunch or really great records that I hadn't heard before.  Among those new discoveries, I don't think any have been quite as great as Mysterme & DJ 20/20.

I literally have never even heard of these guys prior to seeing their name on a list of 'overlooked hip hop records of 1993' or some article with a title similar to that.  I did some digging, listened to a few of the songs and immediately went looking for a copy on vinyl.  Luckily, some people way smarter than me were ahead of the curve and had rereleased this album in 2020.  While I did have to pay for it to be imported from Europe, at least I didn't have to pay collector prices for it.

That brings me to finally say something about the actual record.  The beats on this thing are unbelievably great.  This is 90s East coast boom bap, but with the sort of rumbling bass and upbeat samples that I'm more accustomed to hearing on Hieroglyphics records from this era.  You aren't going to find beats much better than this.  Lyrically, while I couldn't put Mysteryme in the upper echelon of MCs from the era, he absolutely holds his own and handles the beats well.  He has a pretty straightforward flow, but that is in no way a criticism as he weaves well crafted stories through the excellent production.  Did I mention how great the beats are on this thing?  Anyway, this is absolutely something worth digging into if you're looking for top tier golden era hip hop.

Mysterme & DJ 20/20 – Let Me Explain:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vEenEPTht0&ab_

Monday, March 7, 2022

Snuff - Potatoes & Melons, Do Do Do's and Zsa Zsa Zsa's LP - Cream w/ Red Splatter Vinyl (/252)

Untitled

10 Past 12 / SBÄM (2021)

Let's get this out of the way.  Yes, this is only one of way too many versions of this LP that are available.  And on top of that, I can't get them all at one place and on top of that all places to get them from are in Europe.  It makes it somewhat expensive to try to be a completist, something that I've always tried to be for Snuff.  This looks like is the album where I may have to finally give up.  I picked up this version from the Snuff webstore and I have another version with different cover art preordered from the SBÄM store.  The other vinyl variants are just going to have to elude me for now.

On to the record itself, this is a compilation of Snuff songs, primarily from the old Potatoes And Melons At Wholesale Prices Direct To You The Public (or Straight From The Lockup if you have the Fat Wreck version) EP.  It also adds in songs from the Do Do Do  and Gandara 7"s among others.  There are a lot of cover songs in here along with Snuff originals of varying seriousness.  That's always been what I like most about Snuff, their records and shows are always so much fun.  Do they have great songs with no comedy elements? Of course.  But what's better than sandwiching those in between commercial jingles?

Everything on here is fun, but the Do Do Do 7" songs stand out to me in particular as it was among the earlier Snuff releases that I picked up when I first got into the band.  The covers of "I Will Survive," "Standing In The Shadows Of Love" and "Soul Limbo" are just so great.  There are actually two versions of "Soul Limbo" on here, I prefer the Do Do Do one.  There are also two versions of "Theme For Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads," for these I prefer the one that was from the Deceptive Christmas 7".

It's great to have all of these songs on one LP.  Of course I have the original 7"s, CDs, 10"s and LPs that originally contained these songs, but it's nice to have one record that I can pop on to hear them all.  If there's only one complaint, it's that I wish the Long Ball To No-One songs were also on here.  After all, "Dow Dow Boof Boof" is my very favorite Snuff song.

Snuff - "Soul Limbo" (Do Do Do Version):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LziwhD8J1Ow&ab_

Snuff - "I Will Survive":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7d9Kp8ezVs&ab_

Friday, March 4, 2022

Son of Godzilla LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Son of Godzilla isn’t one of my favorite Godzilla movies.  It starts with how ugly the suit is.  This is a bad look for Godzilla and I just will never understand why they designed his head to look the way it does.  And then there’s the whole concept of Minilla.  Putting aside the bad design, he’s pretty much just the butt of jokes and abuse for the duration of the film.

I don’t hate it or anything, but when compared to just about any other Godzilla movie, it just comes up short for me.  Luckily the soundtrack is pretty solid.  While I think it falls a little short on the tropical good times of Ebirah, it still feels like a somewhat similar vibe,, though there are certainly more moments of childlike innocence.  While I’ll always probably like Akira Ifukube’s work best, Masaru Sato’s scores are ones that I don’t seem to remember that I like as much as I do until I’m listening to them.

Vinyl sound and art design is great like the rest of the box set.  It’s probably not the first LP I’d grab if I wanted to listen to something, but it’s good to know it’s there if the spirit moves me.

Son of Godzilla - "Main Title Theme":

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Tim Dog - Penicillin on Wax 2xLP - Green Vinyl (/1000)

Untitled

Music On Vinyl (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 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 was another I had on CD back in 91 when it originally came out.  Though the album is probably most well known for it's anti-west coast/NWA diss track, "Fuck Compton," for me it was the song "Step To Me" that always stood out.  It's the song that had a video on Yo! MTV Raps and is what inspired me to grab the CD, I'm imagining as part of a BMG/Columbia house scam.    

"Step To Me" still holds up to me as the best track on the album, but the entire album, if nothing else, is really well produced.  Considering that the bulk of the beats were handled by folks from Ultramagnetic MCs, that shouldn't really be too much of a surprise.  It's remarkably varied on the production side, especially considering how one dimensional Tim Dog is as an MC.  He's not bad, but he pretty much says the same stuff over and over again and doesn't really change up his by the numbers flow.  

Lyrically, lots of cussin' and shock value stuff here.  The skits are universally terrible and I'm grateful that they're all mercifully short.  I think had I heard it for the first time now instead of when I was fourteen years old, I'm not sure that I'd be too keen on the whole package.  But again, the beats are really good and it has that weird baked in nostalgia that I'm certainly guilty of indulging in.  Not sure everyone needs this in their collection, but it has its moments.

Monday, February 28, 2022

The Hamiltones - Live at the Jungle Gym 2/22/2014 Cassette

Untitled

Big Neck / Primitive Screwhead

I've been saving this tape for last.  Here we are at tape number eight of eight from the Big Neck/Primitive Screwhead package, The Hamiltones.  I have been lucky enough to have been following The Hamiltones since I got their first cassette on More Power Tapes back in 2015.  That label sent me a lot of stuff (it looks like they've gone dormant since about 2018), but The Hamiltones were far and away my favorite thing that they ever sent.

This live tape is from a show in 2014 and it mostly features songs from that first More Power demo tape.  The recording quality is OK for what it is.  As they're an instrumental bands, there's no vocals to worry about balancing so that's good.  It gets a little muffled here and there when the band really kicks it into high gear, but it's a perfectly serviceable recording.  

To me, what it really shows is how great of a live band The Hamiltones must be.  This was recorded in 2014, before their first tape even came out, and the crowd is hot and totally up for everything they're doing.  Now that they have some proper releases under their belt, I can only imagine how they'd be able to engage a crowd that really knows their songs.  This is a fun tape and there's a reason I wrote it up last.  I'm the sort of person that tends to save the best for last.

The Hamiltones - Live at the Jungle Gym 2/22/2014:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/the-hamiltones-live-at-the-jungle-gym-2-22-2014

Friday, February 25, 2022

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Next up in Godzilla land is Ebirah, Horror of the Deep - or as it was called in the US - Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster.  The Sea Monster being Ebirah of course.  This was one of those Godzilla movies that I did like as a kid, but not quite as much as the ones that came before it, though I'm somewhat unsure if I was full cognizant of the order that the Godzilla movies had come out as a youngster.  

To me, the biggest thing missing was the city crushing destruction.  As this movie was set on an island, they didn't really need to construct the elaborate sets that they had done for previous films.  But the plot is fun and I do dig the island motif more now than I did when I was 10.  I've also always enjoyed the bit during a fight scene where Godzilla and Ebirah bat a large rock back and forth at each other.  It's wacky, but a good kind of wacky.

The soundtrack is one of the Show Godzilla scores not done by Akira Ifukube.  This one has Masaru Sato back again and I think he hit this one out of the park.  The island/tropical orchestral themes that he weaves in and out mixed with the rousing 60s instrumental rock that creeps up from time to time is a blast.  As I've repeated every time so far, Waxwork did a great job with this LP just as they have with all of the others.  Sounds great and looks great, what more could I ask for?

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep - "Main Title":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ttd17rPuIUQ&ab_

Monday, February 21, 2022

Exploding Eyes - Live at Bello Bar Cassette

Untitled

Big Neck / Primitive Screwhead (2021)

Exploding Eyes is the third Robert O'Braidaigh band that's had a live tape recently released on Big Neck/Primitive Screwhead.  I wrote about The Things a few weeks ago and just last week I tackled Cheap Freaks.  This week, we have the second to last cassette from Big neck; Exploding Eyes.

One thing I will say about the three Robert O'Braidaigh bands is that I'm not positive I would know they had the same front person had I not been told.  While the bands all have that sonic garage sound, the music varies quite a bit,  Exploding Eyes appear to be the most recent of the three bands with this show's recording having taken place on February 27th, 2015.  There's definitely some psych rock influences here with the repeating bass lines that allow for some lead guitar noodling and plenty of instances where the music drops out completely for moments of solo vocals only.

The fidelity of this record is totally solid.  Levels are nice and even and everything is pretty clear.  The band sounds like they're having a blast and I can only imagine that it was a pretty high energy show.  I have one more tape to go from this batch, it's been the one I've been saving for last I was already an existing fan of the band.  But that'll be next Monday.

Exploding Eyes - Live at Bello Bar:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-bello-bar-february-27-2017


Friday, February 18, 2022

Invasion Of Astro-Monster LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Me, I'll probably always call this movie Monster Zero even if that's not it's proper Japanese name.  Monster Zero was one of the earlier Gidzilla VHS tapes I had in my collection as a kid so I have watched it a ton over the years.  It's definitely one of the ones I'm most familiar with, though admittedly I've probably watched the dubbed version twenty times more than the subtitled Japanese one.  

It's mostly built around Godzilla and Rodan against King Ghidorah who is now controlled by spacemen from Planet X.  In particular I love the alien invader plot, which quickly became a staple in Godzilla movies, and I think the Planet X denizens are probably the coolest batch of marauding space people. 

Soundtrack wise, it's another Ifukube masterpiece.  The main title and battle scene scores are impeccable, not only calling on some past themes, but really bringing in new, atmospheric pieces that really set the stage.  I don't know that it's my favorite score, but it's definitely way up there.  As per the rest of this set, Waxwork did great with this LP.  Sounds great, looks great and is happily part of my collection.

Invasion Of Astro-Monster: "Main Title Theme":

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Naughty By Nature - Naughty By Nature 2xLP - Blue/Yellow Splatter Vinyl

Naughty By Nature - Naughty By Nature 2xLP - Blue/Yellow Splatter Vinyl

Tommy Boy (2021, 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.

Naughty By Nature is a group that I think deserves significantly more respect than they're given.  When you have a song that's as big a hit as "O.P.P." was, it's easy to try to write them off as a pop leaning, one hit wonder.  Here's the thing though, Naughty By Nature's first album is a pretty incredible slice of golden era hip hop.

The beats are pretty impeccable all the way through.  Upbeat bass line, snare drum cracks and keyboard flourishes lay down a canvas for the vocals, and that's where Naughty By Nature really shines.  Trech is probably one of the most underrated MCs from this time period in hip hop.  He can rhyme fast, slow, complicated, straightforward...there's really not a flow that he can't hit out of the park.  And it's consistent on song after song on their debut.

Then we have the song everyone knows, "O.P.P."  You know, there's plenty of people who would dismiss it as it was so omnipresent in 1991.  I'm not sure how recently most people have heard it, but it's really a hell of a song.  The samples picked, the lyrical flow, any way you slice it's so ridiculously catchy and you'll never convince me that it's anything other than a very deserving hit.  But ultimately, it's still only one great song on an album full of them.  I'm glad this was finally reissued and am hopeful that Nineteen Naughty III gets its own rerelease in the near future as well.  Though maybe they could pick a slightly less garish vinyl color for that one.

Naughty By Nature - Naughty By Nature:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_k9FgeoABJzT3y2VQWdZfk1sQ3IcPuDdzo

Monday, February 14, 2022

Cheap Freaks - Live at the Olympia Cassette

Untitled

Big Neck / Primitive Screwhead (2021)

We're at tape six of eight from the Big Neck/Primitive Screwhead folks and this time out we have a 2013 set from Cheap Freaks.  This is another great sounding recording.  The levels are all nice and balanced, you can hear the vocals clearly without them overpowering everything else and in particular, the keyboards sound great.

Cheap Freaks are trading in the sort of stomping 60s-ish sounding rock and roll that makes me think of bands like The Sonics.  There are hooks all over the place, but they never soften the kinetic tempo that the band is churning out.  The show itself sounds like it was probably a blast as the band is just humming along and full of energy.  The drumming stands out as being particularly excellent.

After six tapes of live recordings, I don't know that I'm changing my opinion of live albums as a whole (typically never been a huge fan), but I'm warming up to the idea that it is possible to capture some exceptional performances that are definitely worth preserving.

Cheap Freaks - Live at the Olympia:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-the-olympia