Monday, December 6, 2021

Mark Murphy and the Meds - On The Brink LP - White w/ Splatter Vinyl


Bloated Kat / Brassneck / All In / Horn & Hoof / Kezy P (2021)

OK, it looks like everyone waited until the end of the year to start putting out the great records.  I'm sure the labels will say "blah blah blah, vinyl turnaround times," but we all know what really is happening.  This is without a doubt a coordinated effort to make my December more complicated when I'm trying to get my end of the year list together.  Making me scramble to get these albums written up before it's time to post my list.  I'm on to you all...

Mark Murphy and the Meds is fronted by Mark "Guitar" Murphy (I'm going to keep hammering this nickname until someone else starts picking up on it) of Crocodile God/No Marks fame.  It's no secret that he's long been one of my favorite songwriters and most everything he touches turns to gold for my ears.  On The Brink is no exception.

Like with his other bands, he and the Meds have crafted a joyous slice of UK pop punk perfection.  The hooks are all over every song on the album, with buzzsaw guitar melodies galore.  To me, it really doesn't sound too dissimilar from Crocodile God, but that's not a slight.  If anything, I consider that a tremendous selling point.

Now, I do have to say one critical thing and it's just that I don't really dig the artwork too much with the wacky monsters and what not.  But questionable artwork would never stop me from loving a band.  Don't you know how many Snuff albums I have?  This record is just flat out great.  A late contender for one of the very best of the year.

Mark Murphy and the Meds - On The Brink:

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out LP

LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out LP

Def Jam (2014, 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.

There are a handful of records in every person's life that just completely upend what they thought they knew and the sort of sounds they are interested in.  It's not always the coolest or most glamorous albums that do this.  And there are times where the album that launched the change doesn't even end up holding up over time.  That's the very definition of Mama Said Knock You Out for me.  

This record came out in September of my eighth grade year in 1990.  I was certainly aware of hip hop prior to then, but I wasn't emotionally invested in anything until I saw the video for "Mama Said Knock You Out."  It was such a transformative moment that it's likely the reason I even started watching Yo! MTV Raps in an attempt to see the video more often.  It's such an incredibly great song and I really still love it just as much now as I did when I was thirteen.

That song led me to buying the entire album.  It's an uneven experience at the best of times and I thought that in 1990 as well.  In addition to the flawless title track, there's a few other memorable moments like "Eat Em Up L Chill," "Murdergram" and "To Da Break Of Dawn."  There's also a bunch of terrible songs like "Mr. Goodbar," "Around The Way Girl" and the laughably bad "Milky Cereal." Basically any time LL tries to be the romance emporium, he falls flat on his face.

But this is a pretty important record to me, historically speaking.   It seemed silly not to have it on vinyl if for no other reason than to listen to that insane title track over and over again while thinking about the musical direction it pushed me in when I was thirteen.

LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out:

Monday, November 29, 2021

Friends Of Cesar Romero - War Party Favors CD

Friends Of Cesar Romero - War Party Favors CD

Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

I am thrilled to see a new Friends of Cesar Romero album, and I'm even more excited that it's a CD and not a cassette or digital only release.  While I always prefer vinyl, there's nothing bad about the CD format and it's always bewildered me that folks have been putting out so many cassettes over the years when it's probably pretty similar in cost to run off some CDs.  But anyway...

I've really enjoyed everything I've heard by Friends of Cesar Romero over the years and War Party Favors is no exception.  Once again, a complete mastery of the pop song is on deisplay during each of the album's twelve songs.  There's a charming, fuzzy lo-fi feel to these songs that reminds me a little bit of bands like Boyracer or Silver Scooter.  However, Friends of Cesar Romero don't really wade into the overly emotion side of the pool the same way those bands do.  

I could also find some sonic comparisons to The Mean Jeans, but that too isn't really perfect.   War Party Favors is a fun, upbeat album with hooks all over the place.  But the vocals on a FOCR release are significantly better and the lyrics aren't goofy like Mean Jeans.  War Party Favors is definitely on the shortlist of the best records that I've heard this year.  I do wish this had also come out on vinyl, but I'm just content to have a physical release.

Friends Of Cesar Romero - War Party Favors:

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Future Sound - The Whole Shabang Vol. 1 LP

The Future Sound - The Whole Shabang Vol. 1 LP

Eastwest (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.

When you talk about forgotten classics, I'm not sure you can find too many that tick the 'forgotten' box more than The Future Sound.  Until the past year or so, I had never even heard of them, despite their only album coming out on Eastwest (home of Das Efx) in 1992, the height of the golden era.  It was only while diving into some 'overlooked records of the 90s' type lists did I see someone make mention of The Future sound.

I listened to the record online and was immediately drawn to the opening track (well, the first real song after the intro) "This Is A Game."  The horn riff that this track is built on is so great and the production sort of has a similar vibe as Lords of the Underground's "Funky Child."  But the song is a bit more laid back, but at the same time more upbeat than that LOTUG.  The Future Sound is not coming at you aggressively.  They're a group that's making music that's more concerned about being fun than it is about fitting into any sort of specific sub-genre of hip hop.

The entire record is great, with killer beats and solid rhymes.  It reminds of groups like UMCs, De La Soul (though not as hippified) or maybe Freestyle Fellowship (but with less complicated rhyme schemes).  Regardless of how I'm stretching to provide a point of reference comparison, this is a killer record.  I'm so glad I managed to stumble across it.  If I'm going to point to the best records I've found while doing deep dives into the forgotten recesses of the golden era, this is easily a top three find.  Sadly, this was the groups only album, so we never got The Whole Shabang Vol. 2.

The Future Sound - The Whole Shabang Vol. 1:

Monday, November 22, 2021

Spells - Fangirl Flexi & Zine


Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

This is a neat little thing.  A paper zine.  Talk about a throwback to the 90s.  While I know they are kicking around still and I've been a frequent subscriber to Razorcake, you certainly don't see them as often as you once did.  At least not unless it's a poorly written blog (ahem...).  This zine is primarily focused on different aspects of the band Spells.  As this is issue number one of this zine, I assume the goal is to have each issue focus on a specific band. Either that of Spells just hit the motherload when it comes to zine coverage.

There's an interview in here, some history, a discography and some assorted wackiness along the way.  It isn't a serious piece of journalism, but it is a fun read and really, really feels like something I would have picked up at the record store twenty-five years ago.

Additionally, this zine comes with a one song Spells flexi.  The song is also the name of the zine, "Fangirl."  It's a really catchy, fun song that in some ways feels like it's a TV show theme song.  I would have absolutely watched the Fangirl show on TGIF after Perfect Strangers was over.  This is a fun little package.  It warms my heart to see people still putting time and effort into things that I once held so dear, but have now fallen by the wayside for most of the world. Viva the 90s.

Spells - "Fangirl":

Friday, November 19, 2021

Nails of Hawaiian - Jazz CD

Nails of Hawaiian - Jazz CD

Snuffy Smile (1996)

There aren't many Snuff Smile records that I don't have.  At this point it's mostly a handful of super early CDs and a couple of the more recent 7"s that I just haven't gotten yet.  Snuffy Smile is easily one of the most influential labels I've ever listened to and in a lot of ways it probably was the most influential.  I'm not sure why I've had such a hard time tracking down this Nails of Hawaiian CD over the years.  I've known about them for what feels like forever and I have their split 7" with J Church along with a few compilations that they appear on, but this CD always eluded me.

Lucky for me, I have a great friend like Kazu.  He managed to find a copy for me in Japan and sent it over in a recent package.  I've had MP3s of this thing for a long time, so it's not like I'm hearing this for the first time, but finally having the CD in hand and realizing the cover art is just one panel of a four panel fold out picture - that's just a wild experience.

The music is fantastic.  It has the perfect mid 90s Snuffy Smile sound.  Hooks like a pop punk band, interludes like a post punk band and more than a few instances that remind my of San Diego bands like Tanner.  The vocals are impassioned, but never too screamy to where they lose the melody.  It's just a great album and one that I'm thrilled to finally have in the collection.  Just a few more Snuffy Smile CDs to go... 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Fu-Schnickens - F.U. - Don't Take It Personal LP

Fu-Schnickens - F.U. - Don't Take It Personal LP

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.

I had a hell of a time tracking this record down at a reasonable price.  It did come out a few years ago and I just wasn't paying as much attention.  By the time I decided it was time to addd this one to the collection, it was out of print and commanding high prices on Discogs.  Eventually I found a seller in Japan that was selling it at a good price and listed it as being brand new and mint.

When I got the record, it was complete trash.  Every single song had insane static and surface noise to the point where it actually overpowered the music.  I alerted the seller and he was a complete dick about it.  Wouldn't a returtn and just kept arguing with me that it was new and sealed, so it's not his responsibility.  Problem is that it wasn't sealed, it was in a resealable sleeve.  Anyway, I had to force the issue with PayPal, send it back to Japan and about 3 months later I finally got my money back.  Giant pain, but I found another one a few weeks later and this one is perfect.

Fu-Schnickens is one of those hip hop artists that really could have only in the early 90s.  They are a fun upbeat crew and dipped their toe into kung fu references a year before Wu-Tang Clan burst onto the scene.  Of the 3 MCs in this crew, Chip Fu was the one that always took the headlines with his micro machine man rapid fire delivery.  It tends to completely overshadow the other two, even though you can definitely make the argument that their contributions have aged much better that Chip's.

It's really the beats that keep this record sounding good nearly thirty years later.  It's just that perfect golden era production with rich, full beats that are total head nodders.  Aside from one truly awful song that closes out side A in "Heavenly Father," the other nine are a really good time and while they were never one of my favorite groups as a kid, I've always thought this record was a solid listen.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Night Marchers - Live at Bar Pink - Pink Vinyl

Night Marchers - Live at Bar Pink - Pink Vinyl

Swami (2021)

Every time I write about a live album (which, admittedly isn't very often) I always add in the disclaimer that I really don't like live albums.  I'm not sure what it is exactly about them, but I never really have the urge to listen to them.  There are, of course, some exceptions.  But in general, I buy them, file them next to the other records by the same artist and there they stay for all eternity.  I don't think this Night Marchers LP will suffer that fate.

In the pantheon of great live albums like Leatherface's Live in Oslo and Bum's Shake Town Live, you can now add Live at Bar Pink.  I'm not sure exactly why this particular record is hitting me harder than live albums traditionally do.  Maybe it's the fact that I haven't been to a show in over two years.  Maybe I'm just predisposed to love anything the Swami releases.  Or maybe it's because they managed to capture a hell of a set.

Most of my Night Marchers favorites are represented.  "Branded," "All Hits," "Scene Report" and other fantastic selections from the two full lengths the band put out are all here.  There's not as much banter as you'd expect from a Swami show and there are places where it sounds like there may have been cuts made to excise some of that from the album.  The songs, however, sound unbelievably great and really show what a potent live band they were.  That's not really a surprise since all of the Swami bands are known for their killer live shows, but something special was captured on this night.

Of all of the bands that Swami/Speedo/Slasher John Reis has been in, I really think that Night Marchers is the band that has been most overlooked.  They cranked out some pretty flawless songs.  Even if the band doesn't play again, they've left a heck of a legacy behind.  Live at Bar Pink just gives me one more way to listen to these great songs.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Pinhead Gunpowder - Carry The Banner LP - Black & White Split Vinyl

Pinhead Gunpowder - Carry The Banner LP - Black & White Split Vinyl

1-2-3-4 Go! (2021, Reissue)

Another day, another 90s reissue to write about.  I've said it before, but I feel like those are the only kind of records that I've been buying this year.  But it's hard to complain too much when you have a band as good as Pinhead Gunpowder.

Unlike with Jump Salty, I didn't really need to buy this particular LP.  I've had the 10" version put out by Too Many records since the 90s.  But, the Jump Salty reissue sounded so good, I figured I'd just collect all of these new versions that 1-2-3-4 Go is putting out.  I'm glad I did as this one sounds massive.  The bass is full and warm.  The guitars are crunchy, but with the crackling fuzz that still reminds you it's punk rock. I'm also a sucker for split color vinyl.

While I do think Jump Salty is my overall favorite of the PHG releases, this one is probably a very close second.  I think it's aged really well and I am still as into these songs as I was when I first heard them. 

Pinhead Gunpowder - Carry The Banner:

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Digital Underground - Sex Packets 2xLP - Blue Vinyl

Digital Underground - Sex Packets 2xLP - Blue 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.

Like everyone my approximate age, there was no escaping "The Humpty Dance" in 1990.  It was such a huge hit and was omnipresent on MTV back then.  It also has one of the great beats in the history of hip hop. With it's deep, sliding bass line, you couldn't ask for a better canvas for the absurd lyrics that came next.  Now I can't say that the rest of the record ever hits a high that high again, but it's a strong record and is more than just a home for their one hit single.

The record is an odd, sort of concept album about sex packets that you can buy like drugs.  It's kind of a far out idea for a hip hop record, particularly in 1990.  Not every song is tied to that narrative, but in particular the second half of the album leans pretty heavy into that story.  Some things hit and some things miss.  But it's extremely innovated and never boring.  

The songs tend to be kind of long.  And while that's certainly not uncommon for hip hop, eight of the albums ten real songs (excluding skits) are over five minutes with five of them breaking six minutes.  It's a bit much at times and I sometime feel like if they trimmed some of those down a bit this could have been a slightly tighter album.  But, at the end of the day this is a pretty classic release that took hip hop into uncharted territory when it first came out.  Digital Underground had a bunch of albums out after this and I'm admittedly not as familiar with them as I am with this one.  I might need to revist those at some point.

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Cardigans - First Band on the Moon LP


Universal/Stolkholm (2019, Reissue)

Last week I wrote about the Cardigans' record Life, which I kind of bought by mistake as I forgot that "Lovefool" wasn't on it.  It's a great record and defintiely worthy of a spot in the collection, but I did have to immediately fix my mistake and grab a copy of First Band on the Moon on vinyl as well.

This is the record with "Lovefool" and hot damn do I love that song.  I've had the 7" of it for decades, having picked it up in the UK when I was there on a trip in 1997 buying way too many records (no dot com back then).  It';s still the highlight of the album to me.  Granted there are some other great songs like "Never Recover" and "Been It," but as a whole I actually think Life is a much better record as a whole.  

The thing about this record that holds it back a bit is that the songs are a little slower for the most part. It's always good, but for me it only ventures into great when they pick up the tempo a bit.  Life feels like a record that's just a bit more fun overall, but this is the record with the hit.  I guess I just have to have them both.

The Cardigans - First Band on the Moon:

Friday, November 5, 2021

The Farewell Bend - In Passing LP - Neon Orange / Neon Green Half and Half (/100)


Spartan (2021, Reissue)

I feel like all I've been doing this year is buying reissues of old albums.  It's been dire for new releases in 2021, but I guess I can take solace in the fact that I've certainly not bought less records than I usually do.  This one isn't even a record I had originally planned on buying.  My buddy Scott hipped me to The Farewell Bend, who are a band that I'm not even positive I had ever heard the name of before, for whatever reason.  Even more curious is that it's a band fronted by Brandon Butler and also featuring John Rejba, who were both in Boys Life.  

I am very familiar with Boys Life, particularly their excellent Departures and Landfalls album, so I was surprised that this wasn't on my radar back when it originally came out.  I'm definitely making up for lost time since I picked up this LP.  While there are some touchstones that are similar to what you'd hear in Boys Life, in general The Farewell Bend rocks a lot harder.  Their songs are catchier and a bit more traditional in structure, but I would never say they really dive too deep into pop territory.

What you have here is a record that mixes up a little punk rock, some of those midwestern emo vibes, a dash of indie rock and a little bit of that Jawbox/DeSoto flair to churn out an album that I really dig.  In fact, I think that I'm actually in a much better place to appreciate this record now than I would have been in 1998.  I've listened to so much more music now than I had then and I think my tastes, while still probably annoying narrow to some, are much broader than they were back then.  This is a great record and one I'm stoked that Scott gave me the heads up on.

The Farewell Bend - In Passing:

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 2xLP - Gold Vinyl


Vinyl Me Please (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.

I know that I just wrote about this record a couple of months ago and it's probably weird to have re-bought a new version already, especially considering that Wu-Tang has not traditionally been one of my favorites.  But I have gotten way more into them the last few months, in part from listening to the record more and also from watching the Hulu series about their formation.  While I watch the show with a healthy bit of skepticism and assume most of it is bullshit, it's hugely entertaining and and interesting snapshot of early 90s music industry chaos.  They also play the songs from this album nonstop and they get stuck in my head pretty easily.

I read a review of this pressing, which is this first time the album has been stretched across a double LP instead of being crammed onto one.  The review was very complimentary towards how good this version actually sounded and it was really the definitive pressing.  So, I bought it again.  Might as well lock it down now before it goes out of print and gets more expensive.  I've watched that happen to more than a few hip hop reissues over the last couple of years and I've learned that it's important to buy them right away at retail price if it's something you want in the collection.

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers):

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Cardigans - Life LP

The Cardigans - Life LP

Stockholm (2019, Reissue)

The Cardigans were one of those bands in the 90s that I liked, but for whatever reason it felt like doing so was some sort of secret I had to keep.  Not that I kept it particularly well and I've never really been the type to be embarrassed by whatever weird music I was into, but there was this feeling that punk points were at risk for being into The Cardigans.

In particular, I adored their hit, "Lovefool."  Which is how this LP ended up in my collection.  I few months ago word that NJ's best record store, Vintage Vinyl, was closing down.  I headed down that weekend to pay my respects and hopefully buy a T shirt.  No dice on the shirt, but I spent one last afternoon digging around their bins.  I was determined to buy something during my last visit, and that's when I came across this album.  The artwork is kind of iconic and it immediately struck a nostalgic chord with me, so I picked it up.  My brain thought that "Lovefool" was the big single on this record.  Oops. I remembered that wrong.

Turns out, this is the record that came out before the First Band on the Moon album and I don't think I've ever heard it before.  I just saw the artwork so many times in the 90s that my brain filled in gaps that weren't correct.  But hey, turns out, this record is really nice as well.  They play kind of a kitschy, 60s inspired rock/pop hybrid.  It's got this retro house party vibe and boy oh boy, can they write hooks.  While I can't imagine it's the sort of record that I'd be listening to regularly, it's a wonderfully relaxing change of pace and is a pretty perfect Sunday morning record.

The Cardigans - Life:

Friday, October 29, 2021

Booker T & The MG's - The Complete Stax Singles - Vol. 2 (1968 - 1974) 2xLP - Red Vinyl


Real Gone Music (2021)

This is, of course, the companion piece to Vol. 1, which came out back in 2019.  With the release of this double LP, all of the Stax singles that were released by Booker T & The MG's have now been compiled and packaged in a way that is convenient to own and a joy to listen to.  I really wish they'd do something like this for Otis Redding.  He has a surprising number of amazing songs that didn't appear on any full lengths.

Back to The MG's, while I'm not typically a huge fan of instrumental bands, there's always just been something about these guys that enthralls me.  I'm sure it can be traced to my love of The Blues Brothers and the Stax soul sound in general, but I have no problem getting lost in these songs even without the presence of a singer guiding the way.

There's so many hits here.  "Soul Limbo," "Melting Pot" and "Time Is Tight" stand out as my favorites.  I can't really say which volume of this compilation set is better as both have so many wonderful songs.  I feel like you really can't have one without the other.  And I'm happy to have both.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Hard 2 Obtain - Ism & Blues 3xLP - Orange Vinyl (/300)

Hard 2 Obtain - Ism & Blues 3xLP - Orange Vinyl (/300)

90s Tapes (2019)

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.

Hard 2 Obtain have a silly name.  It reminds me of N2Deep with their terrible "Back To The Hotel" song, but even if the name wouldn't be my first choice, this album is unbelievably great.  Ism & Blues originally came out on Atlantic records in 1994.  I have no memory of ever reading about them in The Source or seeing them on Yo! MTV Raps, so I didn't hear them when this first came out.

I stumbled across them when I was listening to the Kurious record.  One of the songs was really resonating with me and I saw that the production was done by the SD50s.  A production team that was also involved with some of the Hieroglyphics records that I love so much.  I decided to do a little bit of research to see what other groups they had worked with that maybe I had missed out on.  Hard 2 Obtain came up as not only a group they had worked with, they had essentially done the production for their entire album.

That's the strongest point of this record, the beats are just excellent.  Bouncing bass lines, upbeat drum beats.  It's such a quintessentially 1990s sound and something I wish was still prevalent in the world of hip hop.  As far as the vocals go, there are two MCs; Taste and DL.  I'm not sure which one is which throughout the course of the record but they have a solid flow and one of them sounds quite a bit like Grand Puba.  In fact the whole album does have something of a Brand Nubian feel to it and I can't think of too many groups that I would rather be compared to.

This album was rereleased in 2019 by the label 90s Tapes.  This is a label that I've gotten really into the past year or so and hunting for this record is what made me start looking at their other releases.  They did an incredible job with this album, expanding it to a triple LP and tacking on instrumentals and other tracks not on the original release.  Sadly this rerelease, like the original, is long out of print and I did have to pay collector prices to get my hands on a copy, but it's really worth every penny and might be one of the best albums from the golden era that sadly seems to have been mostly forgotten about.  I sure wish that I could have heard it in 1994.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Superchunk - Indoor Living LP


Merge (2014, Reissue)

While I have had all of my favorite Superchunk full lengths on vinyl for quite some time, there are a few records that I don't like quite as much as some of the others and haven't picked them up.  One is Here's to Shutting Up, which has been out of print and expensive until a repress that came out this year.  The other is Indoor Living, which is probably my least favorite album by Superchunk.

Now, when I say this is my least favorite Superchunk record, it's kind of like saying Let It Be is my least favorite Beatles album/. When you're comparing a record to some of the ,ost perfect records ever released, something has to be your least favorite, but it's not to say that this record is bad or un-good.  I just don't like it as much as the others. 

I think the main reason why I don't like this one as much is because it's a pretty mellow affair, all things considered.  Especially considering that it was the next album released after the explosive Here's Where The Strings Come In, I think it was bound to be something of a letdown as I was hoping for more of the same.  But the songs are well written and well played, I just think I'd like them more if there was a bit more oomph.  This was the first of a trifecta of slower Superchunk albums.  I think that Come Pick Me Up pulled off this style the best of the bunch, but for me, I like my Superchunk loud, fast and full of that distorted guitar that I love so much.

Superchunk - Indoor Living:

Friday, October 22, 2021

Piggies - ...And Now CD

Piggies - ...And Now CD

Waterslide (2021)

I really needed to listen to something like this.  Piggies hail from Japan and have been kicking around for over twenty years.  They haven't released a ton of records during that time period, but here we are in 2021 and they have a five song EP on Waterslide records.  It's such a blast of fresh air and is one of the best things I've heard all year.

Piggies are playing a very pop forward strain of punk rock.  It's not quite as straightforward pop as something on Mutant Pop and it doesn't lean into hardcore at all the way you'd expect from the golden era of Snuffy Smile releases, but it's somewhere in the middle.  The co-ed vocals are incredible, with sugary sweet harmonies and backing vocals on every single song.  The hooks are gigantic with probably the catchiest choruses that I've heard all year.

The real selling point for me on this EP is just how much fun it is.  There's a lot of bleakness in the world these days and it's pretty easy to get wrapped up in dour feelings and angry music.  That's not Piggies. They are here to make you remember the good times and how much fun you can have with some guitars, drums and a pile of great, great tunes.  I only wish it were a full length instead of an EP.

Piggies - ...And Now:

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Czarface - Czarface 2xLP


Brick (2013)

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.

While buying and rebuying all of these golden era hip hop classics over the last couple of years, I've been desperate to find modern hip hop that has a similar feel.  Though I have found a few labels issuing unreleased 90s gems, finding modern acts putting out records I like has been a much harder quest.  Luckily I stumbled across Czarface earlier this year with their excellent Super What album earlier this year.  That made me start digging through their back catalog.

I've bought the entire Czarface full length discography at this point, but let's start with their debut from 2013.  Czarface is Esoteric and 7L along with Inspectah Deck from Wu Tang Clan.  Considering how I never really appreciated Wu Tang until very recently, it's no surprise that I wasn't paying attention when Czarface started up.  But this is pretty much the sort of hip hop I want to listen to.  The crack of the snare and the thump of the kick drum drives the production forward, it doesn't sound old, but certainly has that late 80s/early 90s boom bap vibe.  And that's what I want.

Lyrically Esoteric and Deck have flows that really compliment each other.  The subject matter tends to be comics, sci fi and a smattering of pro wrestling references sprinkled throughout.  And though I can't say I am a huge comics fan (it is one of the only nerdy things I never got into as a kid), the references still land with me and the record is just an upbeat, good time.  Maybe there are other records like this that I've missed over the years.  I hope there are and I hope I can find them as I've been really digging Czarface the last few months.

Czarface - Czarface:

Monday, October 18, 2021

Rocket From The Crypt - Live From Camp X-Ray LP - Orange with Black & Yellow Splatter (/500)


Vagrant (2021, Reissue)

This is the companion post to last week's Group Sounds review.  As part of the Vagrant Records twenty fifth birthday thing, they've been rereleasing records from their past.  As they had two Rocket records, it was probably inevitable that they'd be rereleased again.  This time out though they were exclusives sold through Newbury Comics.  

This was the last Rocket From The Crypt full length to be released and the fact that it is eighteen years old is a little crazy.  I keep hoping and hoping that we'll get another one someday, but so far there isn't anything in sight, I'll just have to keep on hoping I suppose.

This vinyl variant looks great with the album artwork, but it's also super similar to the 2013 reissue they did for that year's Record Store Day.  I'm fine always buying whatever variants are released to keep the archive up to date, but I wish they had done a version that was a little bit more unique.  While this is certainly the best looking version and is an improvement to the 2013 one, it is pretty much the same and I'm not sure why they didn't make it stand out just a bit more.

Then again, most people probably aren't idiots like me that own six versions of this same record...

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

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Mr. T Experience - Shards Vol. III LP - Sea Glass Vinyl (/300)

The Mr. T Experience - Shards Vol. III LP - Sea Glass Vinyl (/300)

Sounds Rad (2021)

This is the final volume of the Mr. T. Experience Shards project, wherein they compiled all of the weirdo non-album songs from the various singles, compilations and bonus tracks strewn across the land over the course of a few decades.  This particular volume mainly focuses on singles and B sides.  It's twelve tracks long, but for whatever reason I feel like it should be longer in my head.

I think that's primarily because even though I have a bunch of Mr T. Experience 7"s, I keep forgetting that there were a good amount of album tracks on those, not to mention about thirty seven appearances of the song "Together Tonight."  The tracks that are here are pretty great for the most part, with lots of fun cover songs and the tremendous tracks from the Alternative Is Hear To Stay single.

One of the things about these MTX singles is how difficult it was for me to track them down in a pre-internet world.  Now granted, it's not like I'm saying the internet didn't exist in 1995, but it sure didn't have the robust record hunting features that it boasts these days.  I spent a lot of time coming through record stores and trying to come up with interesting trades to other folks to obtain them.  I think in some ways that hunt makes me appreciate those 7"s a bit more than this LP.  While the songs undoubtedly sound better on the comp, there's something special about the memories forged by tracking down those singles, even if I can't really remember the specifics of any of those memories.

The Mr. T Experience - Shards Vol. III:

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton - 20th Anniversary 2xLP


Ruthless / Priority (2007, 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.

You are correct, I did write about picking up a version of this record on vinyl a few months ago, but my main experience with this album was always on CD.  The regular pressing of the vinyl didn't reflect the same tracklist as the CD version and that irked me a little while listening to it.  Yes, I know I'm aggrevated by very trivial things.

This 2xLP version has the same tracklist and song order as the CD I've had for ten thousand years.  It feels more comfortable to me this way.  That tracklist takes up three sides of this double album.  The fourth side is other hip hop groups covering N.W.A songs.  You've got Snoop Doggy Dogg, Bone Thugs N Harmony, WC and Mack 10.  I haven't listened to this side.  I don't know that I'll ever listen to it.  Who could possibly care about listening to N.W.A covers when you've got the real thing right in front of you?

N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton:

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Yellow w/ Black Splatter Vinyl (/500)

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Yellow w/ Black Splatter Vinyl (/500)

Vagrant (2021, Reissue)

For Vagrant Records' twenty-fifth anniversary, they are rereleasing some records from their catalog.  To say that label had an uneven output of albums is the understatement of the century, but they did give the world a few John Reis releases, so they get a pass on the rest.

In addition to being part of the Vagrant reissue campaign, this particular version of Group Sounds was released as a Newbury Comics exclusive variant, limited to five hundred copies.  I already have five other versions of this on vinyl (and two on CD), but I just can't help myself from buying Rocket records.  The urge to have a complete archive of every version of every release is something I just can't shake.  Which is why the red vinyl version of the Pure Genius 7" haunts me daily.  Someone sell that to me please.

Anyway, this version looks pretty solid.  Yellow with splatter.  I don't know that it really stands out as being anything better or worse than the other colorways out there, but when you get to the tunes themselves, there are few records in this land as great as this twenty year old masterpiece.\

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds: 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Reverse - Bloody Mary and Grant Hart 7"


SP Records (2019)

This 7" was meant to be a precursor to the excellent Reverse full length album Empty Spaces.  Of course, I am now writing about it ages after the full length actually came out.  This record was in a pile of Japanese releases that Kazu kept aside for me for a period of time that was way longer than reasonable.  I am forever grateful that he helps me acquire the Japanese records I need and am even more thankful that he lets them accumulate at his place waiting for me to finally say 'ship them.'  A total class act.

On to this 7".  Reverse has been a long time favorite band of mine and the fact that they are active again (or as close to active as a band can get these days) is such cause for celebration.  The A side is "Bloody Mary and Grant Hart," which is the closing track on the Empty Spaces LP.  It's a fantastic song that I can completely understand why it was chosen as a single from the album.  It has those wonderfully rugged guitar riffs combine with the melodic, but somewhat gravely vocals I always associate with Reverse.

On the B side is a song that isn't on the album, "You're the Poison."  This one is a straight ahead rocker, blasting forth with a fast paced verse that erupts into a super catchy, singalong chorus.  Ah Reverse is one of the most under-appreciated bands out there.  Everything they put out is tremendous and the fact that the artwork on this 7" matches up to their three earlier 7"s they released in the 90s just makes me smile.

Reverse - Bloody Mary and Grant Hart 7":

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Cypress Hill - Black Sunday 2xlp


Columbia / Ruff House (2013, 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.

In the lead up to the original 1993 release of Black Sunday, my anticipation to hear the record could not have been any higher.  This was after two solid years of listening to their debut on repeat pretty constantly.  Released during the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, I could not have gotten to The Wall any faster to buy this album at the Rockaway Mall.  When I first heard it, I definitely dug it quite a bit.  

It had the same sort of soul-laced beats and wacky, screeching sound effects that made their debut so very enjoyable.  B-Real's vocals are perfect, with his nasally flow he just glides over the top of the beats and ties everything together.  Sen Dog's barking hype man backup vocals just add to the mix.  

Not too long after the record was released, it seemed like the single "Insane In The Brain" started to blow up.  People in high school that never listened to anything I liked were suddenly getting into Cypress Hill and it was a little jarring.  You have to remember in 1993 there was often a pretty big backlash to 'selling out' in hip hop and punk rock.  As a dumb high schooler I was susceptible to thoughts like this and it tempered my enthusiasm for Black Sunday as I moved on to digging for more obscure acts.

At some point, I even sold my CD copy and only kept their debut in my collection.  Rebuying this on LP gave me a chance to really listen to it again without the baggage of what was going on in music in 1993.  It is still a pretty great album, maybe not as good as the first one, but still absolutely one that should be in the collection.

Cypress Hill - Black Sunday:

Monday, October 4, 2021

Needles // Pins - Needles // Pins LP


Dirt Cult (2021)

I have written several times about the dearth of new records in 2021.  There have been so few albums that have caught my interest and for the first time ever, I'm actually concerned I'm not going to be able to put together a top ten list, let alone a top twenty.  I don't know if it's just fewer records being released or if I'm just started to slip into irrelevance.  Regardless, I've been way more interested in hunting down records from the 90s than I have been about anything coming out this year.

The new Needles // Pins records is something of a microcosm of this dilemma.  This is a band that I know and have been listening to for nearly ten years.  I have all of their LPs and have enjoyed them all.  You can include this new one in that mix as well.  This is an extremely well written and well put together album.  It has that Leatherface-esque gravelly vocal thing going on that I like so much.  You can play it right after Dear Landlord or Off With Their Heads or Dillinger Four and it fits right in.

But for some reason, I'm not as excited about this album as I think I would have been at another time.  Yes, it is a good record and it is absolutely one of the best thing I have heard this year, but it's just not grabbing me and holding my interest as much as I'd expect it to.  I don't really know why.  I can't point to anything about the record that isn't what I usually want out of a band like this, so I assume the problem might be me.  

Either it's fatigue from a seemingly never-ending pandemic or I may have just crossed that line and I'm too old to stay excited about new music.  I'm really not sure, but I feel like if this record had come out a year earlier, I would have been much more enthusiastic about it.  But again, I think it's me - not the album.  If you've dug the band in the past, this record hits all of the right spots, it's definitely worth picking up.

Needles // Pins - Needles // Pins:

Friday, October 1, 2021

Custody / Spells - Split 7" - Green Vinyl (/400)

Custody / Spells - Split 7" - Green Vinyl (/400)

Snappy Little Numbers / Brassneck / Keep It A Secret / Shield (2021)

I don't see as many split singles these days as I did in the 90s, but I'm always psyched when one comes out.  This time we've got two bands I already like, Spells and PopKid alumni Custody.

Custody never disappoints and their song "Into The Great Unknown" is no exception.  I find it difficult to write about Custody without typing the word Samiam, and while there are always some Sergie influences in most Custody songs, I do feel like the guitar work on this particular track does chart some newer ground for the band.  There's a surfy lead in the intro that breaks into a riff that reminds me a lot of the The End Will Be Kicks song "You Are All Kinds of Red Lights."  Once we hit the chorus, you get the booming, crunchy distortion that no one delivers quite like Custody, but I like the journey taken to get there,  Another great song.

Spells come in with "Confidence, Baby. Confidence!" which is a song that has a wide variety of punctuation in its title.  This one starts out by clapping and spelling out the word 'confidence' similar to the Bay City Rollers "Saturday Night" or Rocket From The Crypt's "Tiger Feet Tonight."  It then breaks into a pretty raspy vocal for the verse, the music fades here a little bit only to come roaring back in the chorus.  While I can't say this is my favorite Spells song that I've heard, it's also not so far away from the sound that I'm used to from them.  I could never say anything but good things about it, it just isn't hitting me quite as hard as some of their other songs.

Still, this is a great little record featuring two of the best current bands out there.  If you read my dumb website, chances are you probably need to pick this up.

Custody / Spells - Split 7":

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Funkdoobiest - Which Doobie U B? LP

Funkdoobiest - Which Doobie U B? LP

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.

At the height of my Cypress Hill fandom I was buying pretty much anything that I could get my hands on, even if it was only peripherally attached to them.  Funkdoobiest checked that box as they were part of the DJ Muggs Soul Assassins crew.  It's why I bought the House of Pain album when that came out as well.  That said, House of Pain does not hold up, where with Funkdoobiest, I actually like them more now than I did in 1993.

So it must be acknowledged that this album is definitely an acquired taste.  The beats are excellent, full of funky bass lines and excellent percussion. The sample choices are impeccable and if you just handed this album of beats to Cypress Hill and had them rap on it instead, it would likely be considered a classic LP.  Problem is, they gave the beats to Son Doobie, a goddamn weirdo.  His flow is borderline awful and if you think EPMD over use the "I'm _____ like ______" rhyme structure, you haven't heard anything until you witness Son Doobie use this line twenty times in every single song.

His flow is stilted, nasally and the rhymes are just really bad in places, but for whatever reason there's something kind of charming about the way the entire package comes together.  You end up liking it because of how ridiculous it is.  Many people heard this record and it was green lighted all the way through a major label release.  I can't fathom how no one stepped in and said. "wait, this guy?" but alas, 1993 on Epic records.  I bought it then, and I've bought the LP now.  But as I said earlier, I appreciate this record much more now.  What it comes down to is that it's just fun.  Fun beats, dumb lyrics and a laid back vibe.  Good enough.

Funkdoobiest - Which Doobie U B?:

Monday, September 27, 2021

Superdrag - In The Valley Of Dying Stars LP


Superdrag Sound Laboratories (2021, Reissue)

Superdrag is a band that I have always liked.  Ever since the first time I heard the song "Sucked Out" from their debut album, I was a fan.  I've always liked that first album the most and I admittedly have not kept up with them over the years.  There are definitely entire Superdrag albums that I've never listened to.  But Their first three albums are the ones I'm most familiar with and I'm pleased to finally have that third release on vinyl.

Somehow, I managed to buy this record on black vinyl, even though there are a multitude of other colors available.  I remember waking up early in the morning the day the preorder went live and seeing a few colored versions, but I didn't order right away/. I got up, did my normal morning chores and by the time I got back to the site, only the black vinyl remained.  Then, later that afternoon, other colors suddenly became available.  

It's not really a big deal, Superdrag is not a band that I go crazy collecting variants for, I really just wanted a copy on vinyl so I could listen to it.   But the collector in me is annoyed that I don't have either the most limited or the coolest looking version.  I'll survive.  Musically, this sounds as good as it did when I first heard it in 2000.  It's the last Superdrag album I really listened to extensively, but it's also my least favorite of the first three.  There are other albums that they have that never were released on vinyl.  If those come out, I'll probably be tempted to pick them up.  Maybe I'm missing out on a lost gem.

Superdrag - In The Valley Of Dying Stars:

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Crump - The Song for Empty Nights CD


Imomushi (2010)

I have had three Crump 7"s for about fifteen years now.  All three of them came out on Snuffy Smiles and I dug them all.  I didn't know they put out a full length when this originally came out in 2010.  In fact, I'm not even sure when I realized that existed, but I had put it on my Discogs want list a few years ago and kept an eye out for it.  A few months ago a copy that was already located in the US dropped to a very reasonable price, so I grabbed it.

I don't exactly know how to describe this without sounding like I'm being somewhat dismissive of the record and its great songs.  So let me be very clear, I absolutely love this CD.  It is very excellent and I've listened to it a ton since it came in.  Now, if you then ask me to describe what it sounds like, I'm going to say it sounds like awesome Japanese pop punk that would be right at home on Snuffy Smiles.  

A lot of the great Japanese punk bands owe a bit of debt to the influence of Snuff and Leatherface.  The Crump are no exception to this, though I feel they're closer to the Snuff branch of things.  The vocals are great, with some killer harmonies.  The guitar work has interesting and unique riffs, without straying to far from what make pop punk fun to listen to in the first place. I feel like it has similarities with bands like Blotto or The Urchin, but has some mod leanings to it that reminds me of a band like Smalltown (yes, I know they are not from Japan).

I feel like my descriptions of this album haven't been very helpful in explaining why I like it as much as I do, but rest assured this is an excellent album.  If you are into anything put out by the likes of Snuffy Smiles, Waterslide or SP records, chances are you're going to dig The Crump as well.

The Crump - "Friday":

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Science of Sound - Kaleidoscope Phonetics 2xLP


90s Tapes (2021)

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.

90s Tapes is quickly becoming a label that I trust almost implicitly.  They are focusing on saving lost hip hop from the 90s.  Sometimes it's reissuing records that have been out of print for decades other times it's compiling 12" singles into full length compilations and then there are times where they're digging in the vaults to find something never before released.  Science of Sound kind of straddles those last two.  

The group self released a four song 12" in 1995.  Additionally there was another 12" that had those four songs plus five additional ones, though that seems to have been limited to some test pressings or promos.  Discogs isn't particularly clear on that one, but they certainly look like white labels.  This double LP from 90s Tapes takes all nine of those songs from the two 12"s and adds on six more.  It seems like this is the entire recorded output of Science of Sound.

This group was closely aligned with A Tribe Called Quest.  Tribe produced several songs on this album and Phife appears on "Who Got The Funk," which was produced by Godfather Don.  This really strong golden era stuff.  Jazzy beats, solid hooks (though I do really hate the R&B crooning in "No Diggity" but it's an isolated incident) and lyrical flows that are laid back and on point.  I really dig this album and while 1995 is a little bit past when I stopped paying attention to a lot of hip hop, had I heard this back then, I'm pretty sure I would have been on board.  If it had come out as is in 1993, I know I would have been all over it.

Science of Sound - Kaleidoscope Phonetics:

Monday, September 20, 2021

Bricheros - Live At Hensley 10" - Red Vinyl (/300)

Bricheros - Live At Hensley 10" - Red Vinyl

Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

I've written more than a few times that live records are not typically my thing.  Even for bands that I love, I rarely listen to their live albums.  The only real exceptions to this are Leatherface - Live in Oslo and Bum - Shake Town! Recorded Live.  For everyone else, the live albums tend to just be collection filler.  Now add to that the fact that I've never heard of the band Bricheros, making a live album be my first exposure to them is probably not an ideal situation, but here we go.

The first thing I'll say is that the recording quality on this thing is great, if you didn't tell me it was a live album, I don't think I would have even noticed on most of the songs.  Everything sounds tight, the vocals sound outstanding and are not buried or overblown, which are usually the main problems with live albums.

The songs themselves are pretty standard three chord garage rockers.  There's enough of a pop element to keep me interested, with solid hooks on most of the tracks.  In 2010, I probably would have been even more into it as I was dabbling in this sort of thing a bit more heavily back then.  But even today, I can recognize that this is great little band who, if nothing else, really have their shit together.  Based on what I see on Discogs, they have one other record out, a full length from 2018.  I don't know if that would be an even better introduction to the band than this live 10", but this record is still a pretty darn good first listen.

Bricheros - Live At Hensley:

Friday, September 17, 2021

Baby Silverskins - Yarping Down The Tweeds LP


Crackle (2021)

Those that know me know that my all time favorite time, place and genre of music is the wonderful UK punk scene that existed during the 90s.  It's a who's who of some of my all favorite bands and some of the best albums I have ever heard sprang from here.  And that's not even mentioning the countless Japanese bands that took (and continue to take) their inspiration from this era.

When I'm making the family tree of these bands, I always put Snuff and Leatherface at the top.  To me, they're the grandfathers of this particular scene and the various bands that sprung up around them are legion.  One of those bands was Baby Silverskins.  A band that I only know from their one song on the Best Punk Rock in England, Man CD compilation.  Their only proper release, a split 7" with Pig Pile, isn't one I ever owned, so when this LP that compiles all of their recorded output was announced, I was pretty excited to get my hands on it.

Listening to it, I know how much I would have loved it if it had been released at the time.  It can sit nicely right next to those early Snuff records, but has moments of sprinting through songs at what feels like a hundred miles an hour.  I personally prefer the songs that aren't quite so manic and the pop sensibilities shine through a little brighter.  That said, the entire record is an excellent listen and just feels right, if that makes any sense.  I'm really glad the Crackle folks brought this back and put it out on vinyl to boot.  Now, someone just needs to get the third Hooton 3 Car record, By Means of Maybe, out on vinyl.

Baby Silverskins - Yarping Down The Tweeds:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Kurious - A Constipated Monkey 2xLP


Amalgam (2007, 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.

When I was in high school, I wrote for the school newspaper.  Surprise, I mostly wrote music reviews.  I'm not sure I'm any better at writing them now than I was back then, but I have been at this for almost thirty years now in some capacity.  Reading that sentence back, I should probably be much better at this than I am.  Oh well.  The point in bringing this up is that a lot of the hip hop albums I've been writing about on Wednesdays are albums that I first wrote about when I was in high school.

If you looked at the size, location and demographics of my high school, it would be no surprise that there wasn't much of an audience from vaguely obscure hip hop albums in 1993.  That was crystalized when I reviewed this Kurious record.  One of the things that the English teachers did was they made people write letters to the editor/newspaper staff.  Only one time was one of these letters directed at me, and it was the week I wrote my review of this album.  I wish I could remember what it said word for word, but in a nutshell it said something to the effect of "Seriously Tim, A Constipated Monkey?"  There were then a few lines about how no one had ever heard of most of the stuff I liked.

It remains amusing to me that this is my strongest memory about the Kurious record.  I was kind of disappointed with it when it was initially released.  Kurious had been shouted out on several Hieroglyphics albums by this point and Casual was a guest appearance on "What's The Real."  This is one of those instances where the intervening years have been very kind to Kurious.  I think this album holds up way better than I would have predicted back in the 90s.  It's flat out great in places, particularly with the production prowess of The Beatnuts and the SD50's.

Kurious has a laid back flow and pulls off some impressive verses, but the reason the record sounds so timeless is because of the production.  I feel like this record is somewhat forgotten to the sands of time, but I am grateful that a 2xLP version was put out in 2007.  It took me a while to hunt down a copy at a reasonable price, but it's here now and it sounds great.  Even better than I thought it did in 1993.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Saturday Night Karaoke - Millennial Kicks 7" - Pink Vinyl


Waterslide / SP / Bloated Kat / Monster Zero / Quickening (2021)

Saturday Night Karaoke are a band that has been cranking out a good amount of releases over the past few years, this 7" is their most recent and was released on quite a few labels from around the world.  So chances are if you are reading this, there's probably a label close by that you could pick this up from if you wanted it.

I've written about Saturday Night Karaoke before and I kind of stand by my prior statements that they really feel like a Mutant Pop band to me.  They've got that Ramonesy sing-song version of pop punk going on, but I do really like this particular 7" more than a lot of other bands that go down this path.  I hear elements of bands like Walker and there's definitely a kinship with The Hum Hums that I can't not hear.  

It's very easy for this style of pop punk to end up sounding kind of generic and just fade into the background, but Saturday Night Karaoke manage to avoid those traps.  They write genuinely great pop songs with great hooks, killer backing vocals and sweet, sweet melodies. 

Saturday Night Karaoke - Millennial Kicks 7":

Friday, September 10, 2021

The Animal Steel - A Surefire Way to Get Sober LP - Lemon Lime Vinyl (/300)


Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

So your band name is a pro wrestling reference and your record has come out on Snappy Little Numbers?  Well, yeah, chances are that I might be in your demographic.  Following up on a flexi single that came out a few months ago, The Animal Steel drop off a full length album and it has the same sort of style and energy that made me dig the one song on that flexi.

I can't listen to these guys and not hear some Jawbox creeping in on their guitar work.  The drumming is more straight forward and it doesn't delve into the odd time signature thing much, but there's this low rumble with jagged riffs that really make me think about the 90s.  Vocally, I think they have more in common with the RVIVR/Iron Chic set with impassioned delivery and strong melodies.

The songs are all on the longer side with several topping the four minute mark, but it's only a nine song LP so you're still in and out in under forty minutes.  But it's a fun ride for those nine songs. 2021 has been a lean year for new records, but this is one worth checking out.  Not sure I would rank it super high in comparison to years past, but this year it's a standout.

The Animal Steel - A Surefire Way to Get Sober:

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Coup - Kill My Landlord 2xLP


Wild Pitch (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 wasn't aware of Kill My Landlord coming out in 1993.  I blame it on the sheer number of incredible, genre defining releases that came out that year.  I don't recall seeing a Coup video on Yo! MTV Raps and I don't even remember any coverage of this first album in The Source, but we're talking nearly thirty years ago, so it's possible they were there, but I missed them.  Regardless, I'm glad that I eventually caught up to The Coup as their debut album is pretty incredible.

The beats are really tremendous, with big, clear bass lines rumbling along intricate and socially conscious lyrics.  The Coup should be mentioned in the same breath as Public Enemy and X Clan, but where The Coup takes it a bit further is in the way that attack the entire structure of capitalism, the lynch pin of the inequality they are fighting.  It's a heady, thought provoking record, but not one that is done in a preachy or condescending matter.  First and foremost, the songs are great.  That the message is clear and thought provoking is not what I would call a bonus, but something that just adds to a record I'm already predisposed to enjoy.

Again, this is so much in my wheelhouse that I don't really understand how I missed it the first time around.  I'll blame it on availability and the lack of media penetration.  While I dug as deep into hip hop as someone in rural New Jersey could in the early 90s, without access to the internet the way we have now, it was much harder to find out about everything that was out there.

The Coup - Kill My Landlord:

Friday, September 3, 2021

J Church - Quetzalcoatl LP


Allied (1993)

I've said it a few times over the years, but J Church is on of those bands that I didn't appreciate enough when they were still active.  I had a bunch of split 7"s with their songs on them, typically from buying the record due to the other band.  I had the Camels, Spilled Caronas... picture disc (which I sold or traded away at some point over the years) and I even went to go see them play at The Pipeline in Newark once.  I've said all of this before, but it's only been in recent years that I've really given J Church a real chance.  And predictably, I've tended to like just about everything.

Quetzalcoatl is the first J Church full length.  While I probably don't like it quite as much as I like Arbor Vitae, it's a really strong record packed full of big hooks and sing along choruses.  It's pop punk, but it's pop punk that's more rooted in a punk place than some of the more popular goofy stuff that had the spotlight shone on it so brightly in the mid 90s.  I feel like J Church has way more in common with early Snuff or Leatherface than they do with some of their US contemporaries like Green Day or Mr. T Experience.

But yeah, long story short is that I totally messed up and should have bought their records back then instead of waiting until nearly thirty years later.  I'm going to try to grab their full lengths and probably the singles comps at some point, but I don't think I'll ever dive into their 7"s too much.  That insane singles discography is one of the reasons I found buying their records to be somewhat intimidating back in the 90s.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Onyx - Bacdafucup LP


Def Jam / JMJ / Respect The Classics (2013, 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.

Bacdafucup is one of those CDs that I had when I was in high school that made certain family members wonder what the hell I was getting into.  Not that any of them listened to it, but just the fact that it was called what it was raised a few eyebrows.  I can't say that Onyx was one of my favorites when it came out in 1993.  I liked "Slam" from when I heard it on Yo! and I think I got the CD from BMG or Columbia House during one of those ten CDs for a penny gimmicks.  But listening to it again in the last few years, I appreciate it more now than I did then.

What makes it stand out, like so many albums of that era, is how great the beats are.  I love this era of hip hop and how the snare just cracks along with rumbling bass lines.  Lyrically, Onyx isn't anything special.  They're a group of gravely voiced MCs that stand out for sure as being unique, but the vocals can be a bit much from time to time.

Bacdafucup probably isn't one of those records I'd be prone to put on all that often, but there are moments where it is kind of the perfect album to listen to, for reasons I'm not really able to articulate.  Plus this is one of the albums i had as a kid and I am still working through my goal of picking up everything I had back then on vinyl.  One more down.

Onyx - Bacdafucup:

Monday, August 30, 2021

Custody / Bear Away - Split 7" Lathe (Clear, /30)

Custody / Bear Away - Split 7" Lathe (Clear, /30)

Brassneck / Disillusioned (2021)

I don't have many lathe cut records.  And most of the ones I have are kind of old.  There must have been some big time advances in lathe technology over the past few years as I am shocked how good this split 7" sounds.  Does it sound quite as good as a proper piece of vinyl, just barely, no it doesn't.  It's a little bit heavy on the low end and is maybe lacking in crispness ever so slightly.  But that said, my jaw was on the ground when I put this on the turntable as I couldn't believe how good it did actually sound.  We live in crazy times, folks...

Anyway, there's two bands on this record, the first of which is Custody, a long time favorite of mine and definitely in the running for being one of the best active bands going.  They've long since mastered the Samiam-esque style of melodic punk and their contribution, "Running In Circles," is just another example of said mastery.  The way the powerful vocals mesh in with the dynamic and catchy guitar work is just fantastic.  I wish these guys put out a new record every week, like Rocket From The Crypt 1995-style.

Bear Away isn't a band I was familiar with prior to getting this record, and damn if this isn't the reason I love split 7"s so much.  While they definitely have something of a similar melodic sound as Custody, Bear Away is definitely a beast unto themselves.  The drums are fast, the guitar riffs are warm and fuzzy and the vocals hit all of the right notes.  These guys are from England and when you listen to their song, I feel like they couldn't be from anywhere else.

This split is just excellent and I'm so relieved to have it in the collection.  If you can find one, grab it...but if nothing else at least the songs are up on Bandcamp to download.

Custody / Bear Away - Split 7":

Friday, August 27, 2021

Rexxx - Pure Pleasure II LP - Red Vinyl (/300)


Big Neck (2021)

I wasn't completely sure what to make of Rexxx when I first saw this album.  The artwork had me worried that it was going to be one of those messy synth-punk albums, but no fear - this is some excellent rock and roll.

I'll get straight to the point with this record, Pure Pleasure II is on a short list of the better records I've heard this year.  It's catchy, has big anthemic choruses and scratches that bubblegum power pop/punk itch better than a lot of bands do.  Rexxx could very easily sit right next to your Barreracudas albums or most of the late 2000s Douchemaster Records catalog (if you are the sort of heathen that doesn't file your records alphabetically, that is).  It's short, to the point and a ton of fun.

I don't buy as many records that sound like this as I did about a decade ago.  I'm not sure if that's because that scene dried up or because I just haven't been paying as much attention, but I would have been all over this album in like 2009, and in 2021 it actually stands out even more in comparison to most records coming out these days.

Rexxx - Pure Pleasure II

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) LP

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) LP

RCA / Loud / Wu-Tang (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.

The first time I heard Wu-Tang clan was when I was watching Yo! MTV Raps in 1993.  The video for the song "Method Man" had just started playing.  I think it was the first time the group had ever been on Yo!, but if not, it was definitely the first time I saw them.  I loved that song.  Often in those days I'd buy a cassingle before committing to the full CD, but not this time.  I went right out and bought 36 Chambers.

I was phenomenally disappointed.  Probably listened to the whole CD a handful of times max, put "Method Man" on a few mix tapes and eventually just sold the CD.  I didn't get it.  Then Wu-Tang started getting more popular, became a juggernaut and I never went back and revisited.  I had pretty much given up on hip hop by that point anyway.

Fast forward to now.  I've been digging real deep in 90s hip hop.  Trying to find new relics that I've never heard while also trying to make sure I have vinyl versions of all the CDs I had as a kid.  One of the ways I look for new old hip hop is through a podcast called Take It Personal.  They're currently doing a series of specials dedicated to the year 1993.  On one of these, they played several songs from 36 Chambers and it felt like I was hearing them for the first time.

I decided to give it a whirl and pick up the LP.  I'm glad I did.  I'm not sure exactly why this didn't connect with me when it first came out.  Sure, there are still a few songs that I think are just too slow and you'll never convince me that "C.R.E.A.M." isn't an overblown mess.  But, the vast majority of the record is pretty fun.  I tend to gravitate towards the songs with more robust beats and to this day, "Method Man" is still the highlight track for me.  But, right on its tail is "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" which is a song I don't remember in any capacity.  I can't believe I didn't like it when I was sixteen.

I may be nearly thirty years late to the party, but I am glad I finally realized that 36 Chambers is a pretty good record.  I wouldn't even rank it in the top ten records of 1993, let alone declare it as one of the greatest of all time, but it's a good, fun record that will be a pleasure to bring out for a change of pace every so often.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Extra Width LP


Matador (1994)

I'm not sure I will ever make it and replace all of my Blues Explosion CDs with vinyl, but I do want to track down some of the key pieces if nothing else.  While I have always been a disciple of Orange and never adored any Blues Explosion album quite as much as that one, I have always liked everything else.  Even the albums I would rank on the lower part of the scale still have their moments.  Extra Width, however, probably ranks higher than that for me.

I'm not sure what album is my second favorite one from Blues Explosion, but Extra Width is in the running.  While it's not as slick and catchy as Orange is, you can definitely see the building blocks that would make Orange great being put to use on this album as well.  Slinky guitar riffs, shouting random non-sequiturs and just starting to get into that vibe that would become the Blues Explosion's trademark.

The stand outs for me have always been "Aftro," "History of Lies," "Soul Typecast" and "Inside the World of the Blues Explosion."  Those would be solid standouts on any album.  The rest of the record isn't filler, but I don't think the other songs reach quite as high.  It would take Jon and company one more album to perfect their potion, but once they damn was it ever perfect.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Extra Width:

Friday, August 20, 2021

Gary Young - Hospital LP


Big Cat (1994)

I have something of a long term goal to eventually replace every CD I own with its vinyl companion.  (Well, maybe not replace as I feel like I'm probably not going to get rid of the CD version, but regardless, I want the vinyl).  In some instances this won't be possible as there is no vinyl version (I'm looking at you Alligator Gun and Him Kerosene), but where it is, let's get a record on the shelf.

This Gary Young LP is a prime example of this.  I bought the CD of this in 94 or 95 at the latest when I was still finding my way through the world of punk and indie rock.  I really liked Beck and Pavement and through that family tree my friend Joe and I discovered this Gary Young album.  I loved it.

Now, I'm not going to try to convince you that this is a good record.  It's really not.  In fact, it's actually pretty bad in a lot of places.  But what it does have going for it is that it's weird and fun and feels like it just rambled its way out of someones brain and ended up being released by a label.  That's what a lot of the 90s was, I think, particularly the lofi scene.

So in 2021, does it hold up? No, it doesn't.  But the nostalgia factor is absolutely huge for me.  I can't help but smile during "Plant Man" or "Birds In Traffic" or the insanely depressing "Warren."  The only problem I have with the vinyl version is that it's missing the two bonus tracks that came on the CD, the latter of which was a redone version of the song "Foothill Blvd" that is about a thousand times better than the one in the normal album sequence.  With those bonus tracks the entire CD is only 37 minutes long, so there's no real reason not to have included those on the vinyl (Another reason why I'll need to hang on to the CD version as well).

Even though it's unlikely I will be listening to this album all that often, I'm really glad to have it in my collection.  It was around during a key time in my musical education and frankly just deserves to be on the vinyl shelf with the other 90s gems.  Also, big thanks to my pal Scott for grabbing this album for me from a UK based seller.  I never see this for sale in America and the postage to ship a 1 off LP across the ocean sure is escalating...

Gary Young - Hospital:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Leaders Of The New School - A Future Without A Past 2xLP


Traffic (2004, 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.

In 1991 there was no way to escape the video for "Case of the P.T.A." on Yo! MTV Raps.  It was on a lot.  That's not a complaint as I'm grateful it was on often enough that it stuck with me and made me pick up the CD.  There's lots of interesting history out there on the internet about Leaders of the New School.  Of course, they are most know as that group that Busta Rhymes started off in, but there's other anecdotes out there about them running in the same circles as Public Enemy and a battle rap for the rights to the Leaders name.  But for me, I have just always liked this album as a standalone record.

I have never been particularly interested in Busta Rhymes' solo career.  He had that guest appearance on Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" and his career started to blow up.  There was one more Leaders album called T.I.M.E. that came out in 1993, but after that it was off to the races for Busta and off to essentially nowhere for his cohorts Dinco-D and Charlie Brown. Which is a shame as I think Dinco and Charlie bring quite a lot to the proceedings.  Are they at times overshadowed by the ridiculously charismatic Busta?  Of course, but they hold their own and if they were in any other group they would have shown quite brightly.  I could definitely do without Charlie Brown's random shriek that makes an appearance in too many songs, but when he and Dinco are just rhyming, they're great.

The production is that perfect 1991 style of innovative hip hop that I love.  Big snappy snare drum and rumbling bass.  It's also just a lot of fun.  Something that happened in the 90s that I just don't see at all today is upbeat, happy hip hop.  It doesn't always have to be doom and gloom guys.  And even though this record is somehow thirty years old now, to me it still sounds fresh and fun and brings me right back to my freshman year of high school.