Friday, June 18, 2021

Pollen - Peach Tree LP

Untitled

 President Gator (2021, Reissue)

I have to be honest, I'm shocked beyond words that there is demand for a vinyl pressing of this album.  I'm happy there is, and obviously I bought a copy, but if you were asking me about 90s records I thought would be reissued, I don't think I would have ever mentioned Pollen.

For me, Pollen was another one of those late 90s bands kind of major label bands that probably spent a lot of time in cut out bins.  They were on Wind Up who was distributed by BMG so the promos flowed plentifully.  I got my CD copy when I was writing for my college newspaper.  The band had released two earlier records on Grass, but that was the first time I had personally heard of them.  The record is good and just listening to the vinyl the other day, I was kind of surprised just how well it held up.

You have the big crunchy guitar sound that I love, catchy choruses and slightly gravelly vocals.  The Stevenson/Egerton production credits were always pushed, but I never thought Pollen sounded too much like All or Descendents. For me, they were more melodic and were never playing super fast, trying to race to the finish of the song.  

As much as I think the record holds up ("Almond-Coated" in particular is just such a killer song) I still laugh at the chorus of "Tiny Shoes" every time I hear it.  It's a good song, but the lyrics in the chorus repeating "Tiny shoes for tiny feet" always struck me as being beyond goofy.  I also remember to record label promo item of wind-up walking shoes that was given out, but I don't think I ever actually owned one of those.

Anyway, minor lyrical criticism aside, I do still enjoy this album and I think it's one that probably under the radar for a lot of folks.  It's worth a listen if you didn't check it out in 1997.  And for the one thousandth time, someone please put out Onehundredpercentfreak by Alligator Gun on vinyl.  You can't possibly convince me there's more of a demand for Pollen reissues than there is for AG.

Pollen - "Almond Coated":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ohSZ1RGsZw&ab

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Road to Riches LP - Yellow w/ Purple & Blue Splatter Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Omerta (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.

Road to Riches originally came out in 1989, but I never heard it for whatever reason.  I was well aware of Kool G Rap's reputation of being one of the best lyricists in hip hop, but I don't recall seeing many, if any, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo videos on Yo! MTV Raps.  Most of what I knew about them was from what I read in the source.  At some point over the years, I listened to their third album, Live and Let Die, but I don't really remember thinking it was anything special, so i didn't dig any deeper.

While I was listening to an episode of the Take It Personal podcast (which I recommend if you want to hear some old school 90s style mixes) they played this amazing song with an excellent piano sample.  They didn't identify it at the time, but I went back to try to figure out what it was.  It was the opening track to this album and I love it.

So, next step was to track down a copy of Road to Riches.  I ultimately got it from Discogs at an OK price, but with the shipping it certainly wasn't cheap.  I'm not sure why so much of the good hip hop reissues are on labels based out of Europe.  But, once it arrived I found out it wasn't just the title track from this record that was worthwhile.  Pretty much everything was great with it feeling pretty ahead of its time for 1989.  I'm probably going to give their 2nd album a try to see if I like it as much as their debut, but if nothing else Road to Riches is pretty much a stone cold classic that I really wish I had heard back when it came out.

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Road to Riches:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lD5gt1WPQqrd-Iv7DP9-zdnMuFPCok9-Q

Monday, June 14, 2021

Autogramm - No Rules LP - Clear with Blue & Green Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Nevado (2021)

I wrote about a 7" that these guys put out a few years ago and even though I used the word 'synth' while describing them, I still actually liked it.  Probably because the easiest touchstone for me to reference was The Cars, a band I have enjoyed since I was a child.  Now I have a full album of Autogramm songs to listen to and the question is; can they hold my interest for a full album as opposed to a single?  For the most part, the answer is yes. 

I say for the most part because when the band is playing faster tempo songs, I tend to get into them and really dig what the band is doing.  The opening title track has the energy of a new wave blast with some keyboard work that reminds me of Adventures of Jet.  "Bad Day" is a power pop blast with a great hook. Songs like "Jody Is a Cop" and "Shut Up" have punchy drumming and a frenetic energy that would make Zebrassiers proud.

When things mellow out a little bit on a song like "Mantra" or "Future Primate," it all gets just a little to 80s for me.  I don't want to say they're mall-rock necessarily, but you get the feeling that the hip kids in Fast Times at Ridgemont High would have these songs playing in their cars.   Whatever stupid 80s reference you want to make, the bulk of the music from that decade isn't something I look back towards with much nostalgia.  When Autogramm is rocking, I dig it.  When the sort-of-ballads start, I kind of check out a bit.

Autogramm - No Rules:
https://autogramm.bandcamp.com/album/no-rules-2

Friday, June 11, 2021

Pavement - Shady Lane 7" - Lathe Cut (/25)

Untitled

Fellaheen (1997)

Pavement is one of my very favorite bands and they are among the most influential that I've listened to over the years.  I discovered them early in my initial toe-dipping into punk rock and indie rock in the mid 90s and they have remained a favorite ever since.  It's their first three (four if you count the Drag City Westing compilation) albums that hit with me the most.  Brighten The Corners is still good, but I just never connected with it quite the same way as the others.  Shady Lane is a song from that album.

In Australia, several Pavement records were released on a label called Fellaheen.  For the most part their versions seem to just be the Matador version with a different logo on them, but they did a few weird things.  When the band released the Pacific Trim EP, Fellaheen didn't release a standard 7".  They did a lathe cut version that was limited to only 100 copies.  I was very lucky to have acquired one of those many, many years ago.  Aside from the copy I have, I've never seen another for sale.

When it was time to do the Shady Lane single, Fellaheen decided to do another lathe cut, but this time they only did 25 copies.  How the hell was I supposed to get one of these?  I don't have every single Pavement variant in the world, but I do have all of their 7"s.  If there's different artwork, I consider it a different version and need it in the collection.  This was the only hole I had that wasn't a vinyl color or a record label logo variant.

Well, amazingly one popped up on Discogs a few months ago.  It was about $100 shipped and even though that's more money than I should be spending on a one sided 7" right now, I knew I would never have another chance to get my hands on this.  Thank goodness for credit cards.  Getting it here was a little adventurous as the seller initially gave me an incorrect tracking number and I was terrified to see it delivered to a California address a week or so ago.  Luckily it was just a clerical error and my Pavement 7" arrived safe and sound this week.

I'll probably never play it.  There's really no reason to.  Let's be honest, there's really no reason to even own it.  But something in me is broken and I find the uncontrollable need to hunt down these weird trinkets so my collection feels more complete.  Can't really explain it.

Pavement - "Shady Lane":
https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=ixncbflEqes&list=RDAMVMixncbflEqes

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Ultramagnetic MC's - The Four Horsemen 2xLP

Untitled

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.

A few weeks ago I wrote about picking up a bootleg version of the second Ultramagnetic MCs album, Funk Your Head Up.  It was spaced out on two LPs and sounded much better than the old single LP version I've been dragging around for a while.  That motivated me to start looking for a newer version of the Four Horsemen LP.  I had this already, but my copy was a little bit worn and didn't sound so hot.  I had bought it off eBay or Discogs or something like that quite a while ago, but the condition just wasn't up to par.

So, I stumbled across this copy on eBay that was still sealed.  The cover art was a little beat up (and unfortunately the art on my other copy is a cut out, so it's only marginally better), but having two pristine slabs of vinyl was something I just couldn't pass up.  And man-oh-man does it sound wonderful.

It's hard to rank those first three Ultramagnetic albums.  They're all so different and have elements about them that are superior compared to the others.  I probably will always like Funk Your Head Up more, because I heard it first, but Four Horsemen is definitely a more consistent album start to finish. This is an album where these guys are just embracing their weirdness, making no play at all for crossover appeal and just throwing down off kilter rhymes over tremendous beats. 

In my opinion you really need to own all three of the first Ultramagnetic MCs albums.  They're all perfect in their own way and it's kind of a crime that the second two have been out of print for about a thousand years now.  A new, fancy version of Critical Beatdown just came out (Yeah, I'll be writing about that one pretty soon).  Hopefully that will spark demand for equally fancy reissues of their other golden era classics.

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Stools - Live At Outer Limits 12-28-19 LP - White Vinyl

Untitled

Big Neck (2021)

The Stools aren't a band name I was personally familiar with when I popped open the package from Big Neck Records that contained this LP.  On top of that, it was a live album, which I'm typically not really a fan of to begin with (Aside from the notable exceptions of Bum - Shake Town! and Leatherface - Live In Oslo).  I wasn't sure this album was the ideal way to introduce me to a new band, but you know what...this might be the best way to hear The Stools for the first time.

What I really like about this record is the blistering energy it is able to capture.  The band just sounds like they are on fire plowing from one blues influenced punk stomper to the next.  It reminds me a little bit of the first Black-Eyed Snakes album, at least in the way that the pounding drums keep things pushing along.  That coupled with the fuzzed out, soulful guitar riffs makes for a magic combination.

I can't say that the vocals are my favorite thing in the world and since it's a live album I can't be sure if it's just a recording issue or if the band's vocals typically sound this way.  Lots of distorted shouting for sure, but it doesn't over power the huge rocking band behind them.  

The Stools - Live At Outer Limits 12-28-19:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-outer-limits

Friday, June 4, 2021

Radioactivity - Erased 7"

Untitled

Wild Honey (2019)

My love for The Marked Men is well documented and in particular I've been such a huge fan of Jeff Burke's songwriting for many, many years.  When he started up the band Radioactivity, I dove right in.  I thought i had been keeping up on all of their releases, but apparently this 7" snuck out in 2019.  Luckily I noticed it in a Green Noise email blast and grabbed a copy.

It's a familiar one-two punch.  The A side "Erased" is fast and hooky with the hyper drumming and chord progressions that feel familiar, but always take a slightly unexpected turn. Things calm down a little on B side "Fear," but Burke has an uncanny ability with vocal melodies and I dig this song every bit as much as the A side.

Again, I don't know exactly how I missed this 7" for two years.  I don't know if it's a lack of paying attention or a lack of reliable places to get information about these types of releases.  I'm pretty sure I'm subscribed to the Wild Honey email list, but this one still slipped past me.  I'll blame old age.

Radioactivity - Erased 7"
https://radioactivitytx.bandcamp.com/album/erased


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Czarface & MF Doom - Super What? LP

Untitled

Silver Age (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.

Most Wednesdays I write up something about an album from around 1988 - 1994, what I consider to be the best time for hip hop.  Lately I've been finding the occasional record that was released as late as say 1995 that I hear for the first time or rediscover.  Those are momentous occasions.  But today we go even crazier.  This album came out this year.   And I like it.  Will wonders never cease.

Czarface and MF Doom have collaborated on an album before, but Super What? is my first time dipping my toe into that pool.  I've never listened to Czarface before as I knew Inspectah Deck from Wu Tang was involved and I've never been a Wu Tang fan to be honest.  As far as MF Doom goes, I love his work with KMD from the 90s, but his other work is more hit and miss for me.  I'm not sure what made me go take a listen to this new release, but I'm glad I did.

My biggest beef with modern hip hop is that I find the beats to be weak and uninspired.  I can't really get down with minimalism in hip hop as I need the big bass lines and boom bap snare cracks to connect.  Super What? has the sort of production work that I really can get behind weaving in classic 90s vibes that Czarface (mostly) and MF Doom (here and there) lay down colorful verses and interesting rhyming patterns.  You're going to get my attention if you drop a lyric about pro wrestler Orange Cassidy.  It's a short album, maybe even too short.  But the quality that they maintain from start to finish is quite astounding.

Not only is this the best new hip hop album I've heard in years and years, I'm impressed enough that I plan on seeking out some other Czarface albums to see if this was a one off anomaly, or if there's finally new hip hop I can pay attention to.

Czarface & MF Doom - Super What?:

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange LP - Orange Cover Edition

Untitled

Crypt (1994)

My search for a really excellent listenable version of Orange continues.  I have the original Matador picture disc, which sounds OK but is limited by the lack of fidelity inherent in picture discs.  I also have the semi-recent reissue on Shove, but that one is all crackly and weird for whatever reason.  So I've been searching Discogs trying to find a nice copy of an older pressing.  In the interest of trying to keep things interesting, I zeroed in on this version with different artwork.

I've got to say, as much as I like the usual shiny silver art, I really dig the simple line art on an orange background.   It might be my favorite of the two.  Unfortunately this record is just as full of crackle and surface noise as the recent reissue.  It's not bad or unlistenable.  For its age, it's actually in really nice condition.  But one thing about this record is that there are a lot of pauses and moments of silence where the pops and cracks really stand out in ways that they wouldn't on other albums.

Maybe I'm fighting a losing battle, trying to find the perfect specimen.  But I love this album so much and am so annoyed that I never picked up a good copy over the past twenty seven years.  I'll keep looking and hopefully something will pan out eventually.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange (YouTube Music full album playlist): https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mYhqeq9YyjZFO1hIfdKwtRdRxyY6EK5-s

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

3rd Bass - Derelicts of Dialect 2xLP

Untitled

Def Jam / Columbia (1991)

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

Derelicts of Dialect came out during the summer of 1991, the summer between 8th grade and my freshman year of high school.  I first became really and truly interest in hip hop when I was in 7th grade and Mama Said Knock You Out came out.  I loved that song and credit it immensely with pushing me towards finding more hip hop that I liked.  Even though I never ended up being that big of an LL Cool J fan, that one song is responsible for shifting the way I looked at music immeasurably.

Back to the summer of 1991.  I was aware of 3rd Bass from "Gas Face" being played on Yo! MTV Raps, though I didn't pick up The Cactus Al/Bum until after I had gotten Derelicts.  "Pop Goes The Weasel" was the first single from this new album and it got a lot of play on Yo! and eventually was in regular rotation on MTV.  This was a long time ago and I may have the timing wrong, but I'm pretty sure that summer was when MTV was playing blocks of videos all the same genre.  I remember sitting through trash waiting for more rap videos and 3rd Bass being a frequent part of them.  That prompted me to buy the CD.

I don't know why, but I have an unusually clear memory of buying this CD when I was a kid.  We went to this record store that was in a strip mall up where I grew up in Sussex County, NJ.  It wasn't a cool or hip shop, it was just an independently owned record store that pretty much sold the same stuff you'd get at Sam Goody.  It wasn't there long and I think this was the only thing I ever bought there.  Anyway, I remember picking up the long box CD from a rack and being excited they were actually carrying it.  Why is that memory so vivid? No clue. Nothing interesting happened, but that's when I bought this as a kid.

On to the vinyl. Derelicts of Dialect hasn't been reissued on LP since 1991, so I had to hunt down an older copy.  I picked this one up on Discogs at a reasonable price and am psyched to have it in my collection.  I think it holds up really well, though like a lot of albums of that era, it's probably a little too long and would benefit from a shorter, tighter tracklist.  That happened a ton on early 90s hip hop albums with everyone testing the capacity of CDs.  

In particular the title track, "Pop Goes The Weasel,"No Static At All" and "Ace In The Hole" are jstill really great.  Thirty years later and I'm here nodding my head along with the bass.  Crazy.  Also crazy is how young the 3rd Bass guys look in all of the pictures and videos.  When I was in 8th grade, they seemed like grown up rappers.  Seeing them now, I realize they were kids too.  Wild times.

3rd Bass - Derelicts of Dialect:

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Hamiltones - Dracula Invitational 1791 LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Big Neck / Swimming Faith (2021)

It's really cool to finally see a full length album from The Hamiltones.  I've been a fan since they dropped a demo tape in my lap quite a few years ago and to see them upgraded to full length vinyl on record labels with some notoriety is a wonderful thing.  Add in the fact that the artwork is great and the music is stellar and you've got an entry for one of the best records I've heard this year.

To me, The Hamiltones have always been a weird (in a good way) amalgamation of The Ventures and The Hex Dispensers.  Yeah, they are playing surf music.  But what The Hamiltones are doing is taking that initial spark, running it through a horror movie filter and turning into a sound that['s much darker and ominous, but retains that surfy vibe that keeps the record bouncing along.  This is not dour music, this is something dangerous could be lurking around the next corner - so keep your eyes open.

There's also a kinship here with the Swami John Reis and The Blind Shake album from a few years ago.  Dracula Invitational has less fuzz and distortion than Modern Surf Classics, but there's still that deep, heavy vibe that I just absolutely love.  Listening to this album is such a good time and I hope it helps get The Hamiltones the attention that I think they've been deserving for quite some time.

The Hamiltones - Dracula Invitational 1791:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/dracula-invitational-1791

Friday, May 21, 2021

Boys Life - Departures And Landfalls LP

Untitled

Topshelf (2015, Reissue)

I'm not sure when the first time I heard the word emo was, but it definitely had a different connotation than it does today, or even that it ended up having in the mid 90s.  When I first heard it the bands being talked about were the early DC bands like Rites of Spring.  Then in the mid 90s, it started being used to describe the midwestern scene that was popping up that included Promise Ring, Get Up Kids and bands like that.  But to me, if we're going to misuse that word, the band that is the quintessential mid 90s version of that word (and is actually a good band) is Boys Life.

I first heard Boys Life when Headhunter/Cargo send me a CD copy of Departures and Landfalls when I was the music editor at my college newspaper in 1996.  I had reviewed and interviewed fluf and ended up on their promo list, for which I was grateful.  I remember looking at the album cover and thinking how nice and tranquil it seemed.  I'm not positive I knew what to expect, but ever since that first moment I put the CD in, I've had a fondness for this band that I never had for the others that were in the same camp, like Braid.

The guitar work on this record is wild.  It's jangly and noisy at the same time while veering crazily from quiet to chaotic.  The band is painting soundscapes along the way, but never losing track of the fact that they are playing songs and a little structure is a nice thing to have as the wander from idea to idea.  Departures And Landfalls was never a record I would listen to a lot.  I know it well after all of these years, but it's not a record that lends itself to mixtapes or casual listens.  But sometimes, the mood is just perfect for this album and when that mood strikes, I'm glad to finally have it on LP.

Boys Life - Departures And Landfalls:
https://boyslife1.bandcamp.com/album/departures-and-landfalls-remaster

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Styles of Beyond - 2000 Fold 2xLP

Untitled

Ideal / Mammoth / Bilawn (1999) 

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

As I dig through all of these incredible old school hip hop albums, two things are happening.  The first is I am listening to a lot more hip hop and have rekindled a deep passion for it that I haven't felt since I was a teenager.  That directly leads to the second thing.  I am actively digging around for groups I missed the first time around and am trying to find more records that fit into the late 80s early 90s mold of hip hop that I'm most passionate about.

This record by Styles of Beyond is from 1999, way outside the time frame that I typically associate with the sort of hip hop I love.  Yes, there are outliers like Mr. Lif, Jurassic 5 and Edan, but in general if if came out after 1994, it's usually not something I'm interested in.  Styles of Beyond are another group you can add to that outlier list.  This is a record full of beats and rhymes steeped in the early 90s that I love so very much.  They're not as much of an obvious throwback as Jurassic 5.  If anything, they sound more like a group that got stuck in 1993 and just so happened to take six years for the record to get released.

Even though they are from the west coast and have obvious influences from that scene, they do remind me a little bit of Black Moon, though with somewhat cleaner production and beats.  I had never heard of these guys until I came across some sort of 'most overlooked hip hop records of the 90s' type list.  In digging around since getting this record, I've found out that they might be more known than I though, having released some additional records and appearing on a Transformers movie soundtrack?  I need to look into some of their other records, but I can wholeheartedly recommend 2000 Fold if you're into the sort of hip hop I typically write about on Wednesdays.

Styles of Beyond - 2000 Fold (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nbmx2-XLy6eGWkYDjK_B6zWxNs05yeORY

Monday, May 17, 2021

Red Devil Ryders - Pour Me Another One LP

Untitled

Just Because (2021)

The first thought I had when I opened up the package that contained this record was that it looked like one of the old Flying Burrito Brothers LPs from my dad's record collection.  While I wouldn't ever go so far to compare Red Devil Ryders to the Brothers Burrito, the art did give me a hint that there would be a countrified leaning to the proceedings.  It's not overt or wandering into an alt-country NPR snoozefest, but it colors the direction of the album.  And I mean that in a good way.

With the muddy guitar tone and the rollicking nature of the riffs, I'm reminded a lot of W.H. Walker and their incredible Suds! album.  There's also times where the melodies really come to the forefront and in those moments I think that a tour with Red Devil Ryders and The Goodnight Loving would make a lot of sense.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that this sort of country lean has roots in old fashioned outlaw country and would be better placed next to your Slim Cessna records than it would next to any Jay Farrar LPs.

I do tend to like this the best when the tunes are fast.  "Elvins' Piano," "Smoked Blunt Blues" and "Wings on Monday" are the standouts to me, but the entire record is really consistent and weaves a good story from start to finish.  This one is an early stand out for me in what has been a somewhat lackluster year for new records so far.  Check it out.

Red Devil Ryders - Pour Me Another One:
https://justbecauserecords.bandcamp.com/album/pour-me-another-one

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton LP

Untitled

Priority / Ruthless / UMe (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.

I'm not entirely positive that the version I have is the 2013 reissue.  There have been others since that one came out, though the barcode and matrix etchings match.  Not that it really matters to me, but I know some folks care about those types of specifics.  It's my best guess anyway.

I really like Straight Outta Compton.  It's a classic at this point and in particular really shows just how incredible Ice Cube was when he first started out.  Every time he picks up the mic, it's magic.  Though, if I'm being honest, I'm actually more familiar with the N.W.A. follow up, Efil4zaggin.  That's the one I had when I was in high school.  I didn't pick up Straight Outta Compton until later and I didn't add the vinyl to my collection until pretty recently.

I'm pretty sure the first time I heard N.W.A. was the song "Express Yourself."  I had that one because a version of it was on a Yo! MTV Raps compilation CD I had (Along with a really long, excellent version of BDP's "My Philosophy").  But when the video for "Always Into Something" came out, that's what inspired me to finally buy an N.W.A. album.  Completely backwards to most people, I know, but I've always fallen into bands the wrong way.

Anyway, this record still sounds important and dangerous.  Like many hip hop albums from the late 80s and early 90s there are aspects that do not age well.  But as a time capsule of 1988, this was pretty darn innovative and influential.  Though some of that influence would later on end up what drove me away from hip hop (See: The Chronic & the ten million soundalikes it spawned).

N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n7tQZHCeKZKGghMCNVcHQp51maARM_9xY

Monday, May 10, 2021

Pinhead Gunpowder - Trundle & Spring 7" - White & Black Split Color Vinyl

Untitled

1234 Go! (2021)

If pressed, I really can't give a good reason why I bought this Pinhead Gunpowder 7" reissue.  I have the original pressing of this from the 90s and all four songs are also on the Jump Salty LP.  I think I was mostly suckered in by the split colored vinyl.  It is my favorite colorway when there is a limited version.  Pinhead Gunpowder is also one of those bands where I am a bit more prone to grabbing a variant, though there are two additional versions of this reissue that I didn't buy.

Honestly, there's no really good reason other than it looks cool, they're a band that I really like and I still have that collector bug that sneaks up on me, even when I'm trying to be good.  Plus it's only a 7" and wasn't that much money.

If you don't have these songs, you should really buy Jump Salty.  If you're a weirdo like me and need multiple versions of the same songs, go to town.  It's what I did.

Pinhead Gunpowder - Trundle & Spring 7":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXDg71H9IDs&ab_channel=sweetbabyjaysus

Friday, May 7, 2021

Rocket Bureau - Middle Angst LP

Untitled

Overdue Miracle (2021)

Kyle from Rocket Bureau reached out to me and asked me if I wanted him to send me a copy of this record to write about.  I think this is a better approach than when a random band that obviously hasn't ever read my website sends me something that I'm destined to hate. This way, I can let them know if it's worth them sending out a copy to me.

As soon as the lightning fast opener "Disconnected" fired off, the first thing I thought was 'holy shit, this dude sounds just like the singer from Travis Cut.'  By the time I was thirty seconds in to the second song "Not You" I was already writing Kyle back to let him know that I'd really like to get a copy to write about on this here dumb website.

Middle Angst is a strong guitar pop record.  That initial pop punk rock blast of "Disconnected" is something of a red herring as the rest of the album settles into a uptempo groove.  Lots of big choruses and fuzzy guitars.  There are times, like on "Bummer," where Rocket Bureau veers a little bit towards a rootsy, Tom Petty direction, but for the most part, think Fountains of Wayne style pop hooks with a dude that sounds like Chris from Travis Cut singing away.

This is the sort of record I could see flying under the radar for a lot of people.  I sure would have missed out on it if Kyle hadn't reached out.  But It's one going out of your way to give a listen to.  If you like the sort of nonsense I typically write about, this one might be up your alley as well.

Rocket Bureau - Middle Angst:
https://rocketbureau.bandcamp.com/album/middle-angst-2

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

K-Solo - Times Up LP

Untitled

Music On Vinyl (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.

After I heard the fourth EPMD album, Business Never Personal, I became a huge fan of theirs and their Hit Squad crew.  This was mostly cemented by the fact that I already liked Das Efx and how incredibly amazing the "Headbanger" posse cut on this album was.  That song was the first time I heard Redman and was also the my introduction to K-Solo.  I had picked up Times Up when it came out in 1992.  I liked it, but compared to the EPMD, Das Efx and Redman albums that came out in 1991 and 1992, K-Solo was a distant fourth place for me.  As a result, I didn't really listen to the record all that much, to be honest.

This became another example of the record growing on me more and more over time.  When you drop an album smack dab into the middle of a golden era of music, where some of the best hip hop albums in the history of the earth are coming out, you're going to get lost in the shuffle.  But if you start listening to that album again a few years (or decades) later, you might start to realize you overlooked something pretty great.

That's what happened with K-Solo.  Going through this album you have some killer beats courtesy of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith from EPMD, along with a cut from Pete Rock.  But the bulk of the album is held down by Sam "Sneed" Anderson, who would go on to work with Dr. Dre on Death Row releases.  I can't say I'm a fan of that sort of thing, but he sure understood the Hit Squad sound of the early 90s.  Mixing grimy funk beats with atmospheric flourishes, he laid out an impressive canvas for K-Solo to work with on his rhymes.

And solo performs admirably on this record.  It's easy to be overshadowed by EPMD or Das Efx or Redman.  You are talking about some of the most charismatic MCs to ever touch a microphone.  K-Solo is not at that level, but he solidly occupies a space right underneath.  His flow is straightforward, but fierce, tackling stories and rapid firing out rhyme structures.  The K-Solo debut album Tell The World My Name is also pretty rad, but I prefer Times Up of the two and was pretty psyched when Music On Vinyl rereleased it last year.

K-Solo - Times Up (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lm6e5DyQ90je8ZY8CxpslGqo1vPTvSka4


Monday, May 3, 2021

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange LP

Untitled

Shove (2011, Reissue)

Orange is a really important record to me.  When I started listening to Beck in 1994, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion was one of the first bands I found that had some sort of relationship with him.  I picked up Orange and was just blown away and completely in love with the album.  I know every second of this record by heart and I just love the music.  The vinyl version that I've had was the one Matador put out in 1994 that was a picture disc that was silver sparkled.  It was and is very cool looking, but picture discs don't sound that great and I decided I needed to pick up a normal copy on vinyl that I could just play.  I think I picked the wrong one.

I am not sure what is up with this pressing on Shove, but it's pretty bad.  I ordered one from Amazon, played it once and they returned it, thinking I got a bum record.  I replaced it with another copy and this one sounds just as bad.  The pressing is so noisy, with loud crackling and surface noise throughout.  I've given it a deep clean and played it on multiple record players but any way you slice it, it still sounds bad.  If it hadn't happened on two different copies, I'd probably just dismiss it as bad luck, but I'm pretty convinced that something is wrong with this pressing.

So, now I am hunting around on Discogs to try to find another version of this that I can pick up.  Orange is such a full sounding, warm record with lots of pauses and sections of silence in the middle of songs.  You really need a top notch pressing to enjoy it and this one just isn't it.  But the music, well that's just out of this world.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Orange (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mYhqeq9YyjZFO1hIfdKwtRdRxyY6EK5-s


Friday, April 30, 2021

Pinhead Gunpowder - Jump Salty LP - Yellow w/ Red Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

1234 Go! (2021)

I could not possibly happier about vinyl reissues of the Pinhead Gunpowder catalog and specifically Jump Salty.  I love Pinhead Gunpowder, I've actually always liked them more than Green Day for whatever reason.  I've had the Jump Salty CD for twenty five-ish years and also had the two seven inches and three of the four compilations that make up the album.  That was the rationale I used when Recess started putting out the Pinhead Gunpowder records on vinyl in 2010.  'I already have the 7"s.'  So I didn't buy them.

I don't know exactly what happened after that, but those reissues vanished.  I don't know if they were pulled or what, I've read all sorts of interesting theories, but whatever happened, they just vanished from the face of the earth.  In that time frame I realized that I would really like to be able to sit in front of my record player and listen to Jump Salty without having to pull out five different records.  So I started looking around to no avail.

Luckily, the preorder for these new 1234 Go reissues were announced before I did anything too stupid and paid way too much for a copy.  Now I have a fresh clean album on a pretty nice looking piece of vinyl to boot.  The record sounds really good for what it is.  These songs were recorded a hundred years ago and they don't have the sort of bass heavy fullness that became easier to capture just a few years later. But that's not a slight on this pressing, that's just a reality of the master recordings.  

I think this LP, cut as 45rpm, is the best these sounds have ever sounded.  It was a joy to plop this down on the turntable and crank the volume.  I really like all of the Pinhead Gunpowder records.  Each has a handful of songs you could argue are the best of the best.  But when push comes to shove, Jump Salty is probably my favorite.  I will likely buy the rest of these reissues (despite having the originals of several), but Jump Salty was the one I was most excited to finally get my hands on.

Pinhead Gunpowder - Jump Salty (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_k26W9-71l-MDKs_byf94KcPaXiTGGABGQ

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders LP

Untitled

Jive (2015, 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.

Buying Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest was a watershed moment in my hip hop education.  I loved the "Check The Rhime" video that ran on Yo! MTV Raps and just absorbed the CD the moment I picked it up.  Watching "Scenario" start to blow up a few months later was a little weird, but it was such a great song that it made all the sense in the world to me that it would start to leave to Yo! bubble.  By the time Midnight Marauders was ready in 1993, I was all in and so ready for some new Tribe music.  I was kind of disappointed when I finally listened to it.

I don't know what about this album didn't click with me in 1993.  Maybe I was too invested in Low End Theory?  Perhaps there were a lot of other eclectic hip hop acts to choose from?  I don't really know, but even though I didn't dislike it, I just didn't listen to it that much.  It took a while for me to finally revisit Midnight Marauders and as I listened to it, I couldn't figure out why I neglected it in high school.  It's probably not quite as good as Low End Theory, but it's really, really great.

The beats are innovative and are fresh sounding to my ears even in 2021.  The flow of the album from one song to the next is perfect and I could even argue that Phife shines brighter on this record than he did on Low End.  As I fill out my Golden Era vinyl collection, it was a no brainer that I need the three key Tribe Called Quest albums.  Sure, this is the third of the three to get picked up, but I fully expect to listen to it just as much as the other two.

A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kOrQZYtL5Bzd2S7IyP2nY3MDXd5Hc8c2E

 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Come Closer - Pretty Garbage LP

Untitled

Pirates Press (2021)

I'm in dire need for new music in 2021.  There's been so little that has caught my eye and I'm sure you see it in my weekly write ups, it is quickly turning into 90s reissue land over hear.  Luckily a few key selling points about Come Closer caught my eye.  Primary songwriter has done time in Tiltwheel and Dan Padilla.  Also featuring Davey from Tiltwheel and Chris Prescott from No Knife.  Sounds like Superchunk.  Well, sign me up for a little slice of that.

In listening to Pretty Garbage, what jumps out to me the most is that it doesn't sound anything like Tiltwheel or Dan Padilla.  This isn't a rough around the edges, indebted to Leatherface sort of sound.  As advertised, there's a healthy dose of Superchunk inspired poppy indie rock.  And while Come Pick Me Up era Superchunk is a pretty solid starting point as far as a reference goes, I actually think Come Closer's sound is more akin to the sort of thing that Marvelous Mark was doing or the most recent Audacity album.

There's a real knack to this type of songwriting that not everyone can pull off.  If you're not really loud, it can come across that you're lacking energy.  But if you're playing too fast, you're just another pop punk band.  Come Closer straddles that divide perfectly, providing tuneful pop songs and fuzzy guitar without losing that sense of 'oomph' that keeps things moving and makes it the type of record you're likely to revisit. 

If you want to distill this album into one song, check out the song that ends side one, "Never Say Goodnight."  It has everything I'm looking for in a pop song. Interesting guitar riffs, crunchy chords, excellent vocal melody; I mean seriously it's everything you could want out of this type of music.  This is definitely worth taking a moment to check out.

Come Closer - Pretty Garbage:
https://comeclosermusic.bandcamp.com/album/pretty-garbage

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Beekeepers - Song Demos 3 - 3.5" Floppy Disc

Untitled

Self Released (2019)

This is a new one.  Three songs on a 3.5" floppy disc.  Or at least that's what it says is on here, I have no way to actually check that.  There could be a deadly virus or a gif of a porcupine eating a taco.  What I'm saying here is I haven't had a computer with a 3.5" drive in probably fifteen years so I just have to take The Beekeepers' word for it.

Luckily the songs are readily available on their bandcamp page and as a free download to boot.  I reviewed one of the band's demo tapes a few years ago and enjoyed it.  I'm happy to say I like the three songs on this release as well.  There's a lofi pop thing going on here.  The vocals and melodies remind me of White Wires, though you need to replace the surf vibe with some upbeat jangly guitar if you wanted to see where The Beekeepers were at.

This came out back in 2019, like so many of the tapes that have been lying around here.  Based on the Bandcamp page it seems like this was the last batch of songs released.  I hope they do some more as I have enjoyed what I've heard so far.  Maybe there will be a sudden run on 3.5" floppies now that I've finally wrote about this.  Maybe not.

The Beekeepers  - Song Demos 3:
https://the-beekeepers.bandcamp.com/album/song-demos-3

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Jeru The Damaja- Wrath of the Math 2xLP

Untitled

FFRR/Payday (Reissue, Originally released in 1996)

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 can't figure out exactly when this repress of Wrath of the Math came out, but I'm very glad it exists and is easily obtainable at the moment.  There have been a lot of records, particularly old hip hop releases that have been reissued in the past few years, but then went out of print and are commanding high costs on the secondary market. Not that I should be buying a ton of records right now anyway since my hot water heater shit the bed and have put out about five grand in plumbing bills over the last couple of weeks.  But, I do wish it was easier to get a few records that would have been easy even a year or two ago.

I never heard this album until very recently.  I had Jeru's first CD in high school, but by the time 1996 came around, I was pretty convinced there was nothing useful happening in hip hop anymore.  I still sort of stand by that statement, but I have discovered a few outliers that buck that trend.  Wrath of the Math is every bit as good as The Sun Rises in the East.  DJ Premier holds down the production again and it's a total throwback to a few years earlier.  This probably sounded really bizarre in 1996 when the hip hop world had moved on to copycat G funk nonsense, but it sure has aged better than that stuff.

I wish I had heard this record when it came out.  I think it would have given me pause on my dismissal of hip hop as being a thing I only liked in the past tense.  I'm not sure that I would have found many more records as good as this one, but at least I would have been able to listen to it all this time rather than giving it a first chance a couple months ago.

Jeru The Damage - Wrath of the Math (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nOh5RUXlMgV8Nv6NFtBhTAZ3vraHfO-oU

Monday, April 19, 2021

Starmarket - Sunday's Worst Enemy LP - Silver (/150), Clear (/150) & White/Orange/Green Marble (/150) Vinyl

Untitled

 

Thirty Something (2021, Reissue)

If I'm doing one of those deals where I have to pick desert island discs or rank my all time favorite record, there is absolutely no way that Sunday's Worst Enemy would not be on whatever list I made.  It is easily one of the ten best albums I have ever listened to in my life and I feel just as strongly about it today as I did the first time I heard it back in 1997.  If you were able to find it, if you looked at the December year-in-review issue of my college newspaper, I put Sunday's Worst Enemy as my number one record of that year. My love for this album has not changed one bit since then.

Within seconds of the opening song "Repetition," I lose my goddamn mind when that pick slide hits and the band breaks into the first verse.  What follows is a cavalcade of gigantic guitars, passionate vocals and pounding drums.  There's a definite Sugar/Bob Mould influence, but as much as I love everything that Bob puts out, to me these Starmarket songs perfect the sound he's most associated with. We even ended up putting out this record on PopKid in America, though we had to trade the epic "You Can't Come" for the equally great, but very different "Your Style" from their first album.  We proably should have done vinyl, but we didn't.

When this album originally came out on Dolores records out of Sweden, they did do a vinyl version.  That said, it was only available as a picture disc.  Pretty much the worst way to listen to a record on vinyl.  I've had a copy of that since it came out, and though I wouldn't ever say it sounded bad necessarily, it is lacking in dynamics a bit.  That's a crime as this is one of the most dynamic records I've ever heard in my live. 

These reissues sound excellent.  And though I am trying to cut down on the number of variants I buy for any single record, I just couldn't help but get all of them for this album.  It's too important of a record to me.  I am so happy to have a version of this album that sounds great and can play at will.  If this one isn't in your collection, you should go grab a copy before they are gone, import shipping costs be damned.

Starmarket - Sunday's Worst Enemy
(I can't find the regular version of this on the Thirty Something or Starmarket Bandcamp pages, so here's a link to the PopKid one.  It doesn't have "You Can't Come" or some of the other bonus tracks that the new LP has.):

You can buy the LPs from, Thirty Something here: https://thirtysomethingrecords.bigcartel.com/product/starmarket-sunday-s-worst-enemy-lp-pre-order

https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/starmarket-sundays-worst-enemy

Friday, April 16, 2021

The Human Pigs - Poop Stick Around Cassette

Untitled

Poop Stick (2019)

What's the theme for Fridays? Two year old tapes that I've never listened to.  This is actually the last tape left in my pile, though I do have one more oddball thing that's been sitting around that I'll be writing about next week.  The band with the coveted honor of being the very last tape I wanted to listen to is The Human Pigs.

They achieved this honor by having the first song on the tape be one called "My Dad Should Have Pulled His Dick Out."  That was more than enough to kick this one to the back of the pile.  But, now that I've finally listened to it, I can say that the whole thing isn't as bad as I would have thought going into it.

Don't get me wrong, it's not good and across the board the lyrics are just awful.  But there's more musical competency on display here than I would have expected and vocals aside, it's probably the easiest Poop Stick release for me to get through start to finish.  There's an element of catchiness to the songs and there isn't a constant barrage of screaming and wild drums.  There's something of a 70s punk vibe to it, particularly in the way the guitar rhythms are constructed.

Not that snotty 70s style punk is really my bag either, but can tolerate it way more than hardcore.  At least there are song structures here, which is more than I can say about a lot of bands.  If these guys stick with it and maybe change up their subject matter in an attempt to be slightly less 'shocking,' they could be on to something in a few years.

The Human Pigs - Poop Stick Around:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Masta Ace Incorporated - Slaughtahouse 2xLP

Untitled

Craft (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'm pretty sure the very first time I heard Masta Ace was on the Brand New Heavies' Heavy Rhyme Experience album.  I really liked his track, but didn't persue anything else of his until he started to show up on Yo MTV Raps.  At some point in 1993 they started playing the video for "Jeep Ass N***h."  I loved the rolling bass line that I felt had some similarities with Tribe Called Quest style production, but combined it with a much harder hitting lyrical style.  I bought the cassette single of that with also included the song "Saturday Night Live."  Those two songs led me to picking up the whole album.  His appearance on the  further solidified my need to get it.

For whatever reason, I didn't listen to it much back then.  The two songs from the single always shone the brightest to me and the album as a whole just kind of got lost in the deluge of unbelievably great hip hop records that came out in 1993. It was much later that I revisited the album and really started to appreciate what a great album it is from start to finish.  

In particular, the production is just so good with killer beats on almost every track.  I've listened intently to the album that came out before Slaughtahouse (1990's Atake A Look Around, which is quite good) and to the record that came out right after (1995's Sittin' On Chrome, which I do not like at all), but neither can hold a candle to Slaughtahouse.  Masta Ace also turns the best lyrical performance of his career, hitting it out of the park every single time he picks up the microphone.

I really think this is a forgotten classic of the era.  I'm really happy that someone released it not too long ago though I am somewhat surprised by that.  I'm hopeful that with hindsight more might give this album a chance.  1993 had so many incredible hip hop records, this is one of them that deserves another listen.

Masta Ace Incorporated - Slaughtahouse (YouTube Music full album playlist)

Monday, April 12, 2021

Prospector - Twist & Shout 7"

Untitled

Pop Ball (1998)

Digging around, I found a small stash of 7"s that I picked up during my 2017 trip to Tokyo that I never wrote about for some reason.  I'm going to try to catch up on those and I'm starting off with this record by Prospector.  They're a band that I wasn't really familiar with prior to getting this 7", but I know they had a song on that Dave Parasite Japan comp that came out a million years ago.  Best I can tell, this is their only standalone record.  Which is a shame, because I really like these guys a lot.

When the 7" starts off with "Passin' Through," you immediately know you're in for a treat.  The way the band has blended in lead riffs with their power chords and corralled the energy into an infections pop punk/rock and roll hybrid.  It sort of makes me think about the kind of stuff that Mutant Pop was trying to do with the bulk of their bands, but almost none of them were able to pull it off at this level.

Vocally, I think the sound is somewhat similar to the Navel/Plum end of the spectrum, with a little Hum Hums like harmony thrown in for good measure.  Like I mentioned early, it's too bad this is the bands only record as I'd really like to hear more from them.    

Friday, April 9, 2021

Science Man - Demo Cassette

Untitled

More Power Tapes (2018)

OK, as I clean up the tape backlog, I cannot fathom how I have one from 2018 still hanging around.  Seriously, this is almost three years old?  I sure feel like a scumbag for never listening to it until now.  Not that I probably would have had much to say about it three years ago that differs from what I think about it now.

It's all right for the most part.  The production is pretty solid and it sounds better than your typical demo tape that has a skull on the cover.  The guitars are kind of sludgy on purpose and the vocals have a harsh edge to them that kind of vary back and forth between growling, changing and yelling.  There's something about the song "Science Monster" that feels like it could have been a noise B side to a Beck Mellow Gold era release, but not one of the ones I'd listen to all that much.

The band appears to have gone on to put out two full length records and a 7" since this tape came out.  Maybe it'll be a collector's item someday.  I don't know that I would have expected them to go on to great things based on this tape, but it's not anywhere near as bad as some of the others I've listened to over the years.

Science Man - Demo:

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Ultramagnetic MC's - Funk Your Head Up 2xLP

Untitled

Bootleg (Originally released in 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.

Ultramagnetic MC's are a pretty special band to me.  I know they are lauded by those in the know these days, but when I stumbled across them in the early 90s, they certainly weren't a household name.  I am reasonably sure I saw the video for "Poppa Large" on MTV sometime during 1992.  It wasn't a staple of the show, but I find it impossible to believe I didn't see it once or twice.  That's likely what led me to pick up my first copy of this on CD, which I did at a CD store in Heathrow airport in London.

1992 was my sophomore year in high school and I got a job at McDonalds so that I could save up and go on my school's Spanish class trip to Spain.  I was in debt for a long time after that trip and I had good times there for sure, but it's funny to me that the most memorable part of that trip thirty years later is that I bought this Ultramagnetic MC's album while on a seven hour layover at Heathrow.  I also had the single best glass of orange juice I ever had in my life that day. Whether it was remembering the "Poppa Large" video or just because I had a little extra spending money in my pocket, Funk Your Head Up came along the rest of that trip with me.

Now, is this album a crushing classic from start to finish?  No, it's not.  There are a handful of songs that either are really slow, have a weird R&B vibe to them or seem to be trying to claw at a mainstream acceptance that would never be the band's destiny.  I think the album would be stronger if you removed "I Like Your Style," "Porno Star" and "Bust The Facts."  That said, my life would be so much worse if I had never heard the rest of this album.  "Poppa Large" (any of the 3 versions between this album and the 12" single), "MC Champion," "Funk Radio," "Pluckin' Cards" and "You Ain't Real" are top notch, all time hip hop classics.

I've had a single LP version of this for quite a few years, but this is a long album and it kind of sounded like crap.  It's too much music for 1 piece of vinyl.  This 2xLP bootleg version showed up on eBay and I snagged it.  It doesn't have cover art, so I've put in the cover from my other copy in the picture.  Lack of art aside, it sounds so much better than the single LP version.  Maybe it was pressed straight from the CD version, who knows - but the bass is deep and full of energy and I'm just thrilled to have a really solid sounding version of this album in my collection, bootleg or not.  It's not like I wouldn't instantly buy a remastered 2xLP official reissue of this.  Hell, I'd still buy one even having this bootleg.  Someone get on that.

Ultramagnetic MC's - Funk Your Head Up (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nbDAjv6c6jWanuBHF9N2jpK3BZhPyY1rM


Monday, April 5, 2021

Supersuckers - The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers LP

Untitled

Sub Pop (1995)

For me, the key Supersuckers albums are the first three and while La Mano Cornuda has always been my favorite, The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers has been a very close number two.  Sacrilicious hit my freshman year of college.  It had a big rock and roll sound with just enough pop hooks to satiate my newly forming interest in pop punk.  The band had a similar group of fans as Rocket From The Crypt at the time and I'm pretty sure that's how my good friend at the time Joe and I stumbled across them.

Supersuckers were also one of the first bands he and I interviewed for our college paper at the time and I have odd memories of that Maxwell's basement interview.  I remember coming out of thinking the dudes in the band weren't particularly nice, but I have no recollection of anything they actually did that would make me think that.  Bizarre for sure.  I also remember sitting on the speaker that was at the right hand side of the stage during the show, back when they had one speaker on the ground and the 2nd speaker hanging from the ceiling.  I don't think that set up lasted much longer after that at Maxwell's.

All these years laters, I think the album holds up well.  "Born With A Tail" is still a smash hit and is probably one of the best two or three songs the band ever wrote.  The mid album trifecta of "Marie"/"The Thing About That"/"Ozzy" still smokes pretty hard.  This isn't the sort of album I can listen to every day and  I'm not even sure I would like it if you played it for me for the first time today, but it has those early college memories baked into it and twenty six years later, it's sometimes nice to revisit those feelings. 

It took forever for me to add this one to my collection and it ultimately involved me trading my copy of the first Carbonas record on red vinyl to obtain this copy, which was still sealed.  It wasn't a one for one trade, but it did take a deep dig into the archive and relinquishing a fairly rare record.  I justified the trade for three reasons.  One, I got some cash on top of the deal. Two, I still have the record release version of that Carbonas record, which is the rarest variant of the three. And three, I don't even like that specific Carbonas record.  Everything they did after that one was way better.  

All in all it ended up being a good trade, but I'm surprised I had to make it at all.  It strikes me as being very unusual that the Sub Pop Supersuckers records have never been reissued.  I wonder why. I still need to hunt down a copy of The Smoke Of Hell eventually.  Hopefully it doesn't require another collection sacrifice.

Supersuckers - The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers (YouTube Music full album playlist)

Friday, April 2, 2021

CaveXrage - I Believe In CaveXrage Cassette

Untitled

Poop Stick (2019)

Another 2 year old tape.  The good news is that I'm finally almost all caught up on my pile of tapes and will be able to move on to new things soon, but it's been appalling to me how many of these have been sitting around for so long.  This is another Poop Sick records release, which I think means these are probably high school kids.  As such, I applaud them for being out there, picking up instruments and making some rock and roll racket.  That said, this hurts my ears.

I guess this is hardcore?  It's a lot of really fast drums with fast chord changes accompanied by a bunch of yelling.  The songs are super short and there are mercifully only five of them, so the whole thing is over in less than six minutes.  I'm not really sure I could take more than that.  I've never been one who likes hardcore as the lack of melody and song structure has always driven me crazy.  I don't really know if this band is any better or worse than others that I've heard.  While this is the lamest, old person statement ever; it mostly all just sounds the same to me.

Again, props to the kids out there playing rock music as oppose to whatever else it is that high school kids do these days.  I'm hopeful they will stay interested, grow and contribute great things to the music scene in years to come. 

CaveXrage - I Believe In CaveXrage:
https://poopstick.bandcamp.com/album/i-believe-in-cavexrage

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Various Artists - Music From The Motion Picture Judgment Night - Orange Vinyl (/5000)

Untitled

Music On Vinyl (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.

If there is an album that I would consider to be quintessentially high school, it would be the Judgment Night Soundtrack.  It came out in late 1993 when I was starting out my junior year.  While I wasn't listening to much in the way of rock or alternative music at the time, I was neck deep in one of the best years in hip hop history.  I had really enjoyed the Anthrax/Public Enemy version of "Bring The Noise" a couple years earlier and I remember being pretty psyched about this album, even though I have no memory of actually being aware of the movie.

In a nutshell, this album paired some interesting hip hop luminaries with some rock and roll bands.  History looks back on this album as something of a bridge between those two worlds and the start of the sort of rap-rock stuff that would take hold in mainstream music in the late 90s.  I don't really agree with that assessment.  In my eyes, this is a total fluke record.  It's better than it has any business being and none of the creatively bankrupt followups ever achieved what it did.

That's not even to say this album is a success from start to finish.  There's several songs that I think are pretty terrible.  Ice T and Slayer's cover song medley doesn't have any hip hop in it at all, making me wonder what the point of it even was.  Same thing with Fatal and Therapy?'s "Come and Die."  Even Run DMC (who essentially created this sort of thing, at least on a mainstream level) come up flat when paired with Living Colour on "Me, Myself & My Microphone."

That said, there's some great songs on here.  I'm pretty confident that the very first time I ever heard of Sonic Youth was because of the low key groove they provided for Cypress Hill on "I Love You Mary Jane."  Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. really tear it up on "Another Body Murdered." Even the weird-on-paper pairing of Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot yields impressive results.  

The pinnacle of this album and probably the main reason I bought it is for the Del The Funky Homosapien song.  He teams up with Dinosaur Jr. (Also, definitely the first time I ever heard of them), and their contribution "Missing Link" is the epitome of what could be possible when two unique artists work together to try to create something new. The music that J Mascis put together is a perfect canvas for Del's left of center flow, allowing him to meander around with his innovative rhyme structures and cadence in a way that's completely unique to the album.  The entire record is worth it just for this song.

I couldn't ever listen to this record on a super frequent basis.  It sounds really dated and as mentioned earlier, there's a few songs on here that are pretty bad.  But it does make me nostalgic for a time where music was taking chances.  I don't know that you could ever create another album like this again, so I'm glad it was able to happen when it did.

Music From The Motion Picture Judgment Night (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_laNj5h1FCxWxjqeg6hYTkyM4Y-gujAfnQ 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Billy No Mates - S.F. Sourdough LP - Green Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

10 Past 12 / Unless You Try (2021)

You may or may not know that I am a gigantic Snuff fan.  They are one of my very favorite bands in the world and I usually mention them, Leatherface and Rocket From The Crypt as the three most important bands to me.  Like John Reis from Rocket and Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface, I tend to follow Duncan Redmonds from Snuff to whatever other project he has brewing.  Guns N Wankers is probably the most famous of his other bands, but Billy No Mates is the one that has the most non-Snuff records out.

S.F. Sourdough is the fourth Billy No Mates album and this time Duncan is joined by luminaries of the US punk rock scene.  On this recording are Joey Cape from Lagwagon, Sergie Loobkoff from Samiam/Knapsack and some guy named Chicken.  He's from a band called Dead to Me that I'm not familiar with.  I have to say, I was especially intrigued by what Duncan and Sergie would do together as they both have some much great work under their belts and both have a really distinct point of view in their punk rock.  In that regard I was a little let down.

This album sounds pretty much like the other Billy No Mates albums.  That's not really a bad thing or a complaint, but I mostly hear Duncan's point of view on these songs.  I like his point of view, so that's good, but unless you told me Sergie was on this record, I would have never known.  That said, we have a bunch of nice melodic punk songs that have similarities with some of the more modern Snuff albums and some others that are more unique to what Billy No Mates has cranked out in the past.

It's a good record and it's nice to have something new that has come out in 2021 that I really dig.  Even though this is technically from 2010...

Billy No Mates - S.F. Sourdough LP:
https://snuffuk.bandcamp.com/album/s-f-sourdough-2

Friday, March 26, 2021

Third Year Freshman - Demo Cassette

Untitled

Self Released (Probably 1995 or 1996)

So, here we have a change.  A tape I bought on purpose.  This is a demo tape by the band Third Year Freshman from West Chester, PA.  The poppy punk scene in northern NJ that I was hanging around in when I first started college in 95/96 was a ton of fun.  But it also wasn't made up exclusively by bands from NJ.  Weston, Plow United and Third Year Freshman were a big part of that scene and would come up from PA all the time to play shows.  I'm going to paraphrase something that I heard a person say once: m"You always love your weirdest kid the most."  That was Third Year Freshman.

And they were my favorite local band in that little scene.  Fronted by Tom Martin, armed with an acoustic guitar and a bevy of crazy ass songs, it was impossible to not love them.  Mid 90s pop punk was pretty goofy as a whole, but Tom & crew always took it to the next level.  I have so many great memories seeing them play our local shows and always pulling off something crazy.  

My strongest memory was when they played at Flipside records, opening up for a Mr. T Experience in store.  Except the Mr. T Experience got lost and never showed up.  Third Year Freshman played for a while that day trying to fill time as we tried to figure out what was going on (this is 1996, so not real cell phones or GPS to speak of back then).  They made up songs about some of the people who randomly came in to shop and I remember a song about a patron in a red sweatshirt that was particularly excellent.

This tape is from my favorite era of the band, when their drummer only played a snare drum and just stood up next to the other two members of the band.  I saw them with a full on drummer a bunch too, but there was something magical about that snare only line up.  The first thing that's interesting about this tape is that it contains some songs from the band's only CD, Senior Year.  But most of the versions on this tape are completely different and feature the snare only version of the band, whereas the CD has a full drummer.  Maybe they were taking these songs for another spin once the lineup changed.  I'm extremely certain the CD with the full drummer came before they switched to the snare only line up.

It also features "Disneyland." Arguably one of my favorite songs of theirs that ended up coming out on their split 7" with Wally.  That 7" is the record that I think really captured the band at their peak (and their magnum opus "Two Days Ago I Turned Punk Rock" from the Dad, I Can't Breathe compilation).  But this tape is such a fun nostalgic listen for me and I'm pretty psyched one popped up on Discogs last year.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

3rd Bass - The Cactus Al/Bum LP

Untitled

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.

I don't think I heard 3rd Bass right when this album originally came out in 1989, but I definitely saw the "Gas Face" video before their 1991 follow up Derelicts of Dialect came out (you know, the 'Pop Goes The Weasel' one).  I bought derelicts pretty much the moment it came out and was a little surprised to see so much airplay for that single.  While I still think that is a pretty solid record, I always thought The Cactus Al/Bum was the better of the two.  Primarily because of the song "Gas Face."

I'm not positive that when I first heard it, I initially made the connection that it was built off of a sample from "Think" by Aretha Franklin (her version in Blues Brothers being a particularly influential song to me when I was growing up).  Regardless if I picked up on the source, there was no denying how that piano riff meshed in with the drum track they created to become something pretty special.  From the moment Prime Minister Pete Nice (still one of my favorite hip hop names) starts up the first verse, it's pretty apparent these guys know how to create a great record.  It was years and years and years later that I put together that the guest MC on the last verse, Zev Love X from the amazing KMD was also MF Doom.  I never dug the Doom records as much as KMD and man did he shine on this track.

The rest of the album is good, if not a little inconsistent.  There are highs like "Sons of 3rd Bass,"Brooklyn-Queens"and "Steppin to the A.M."  But, there are probably too many skits, some of which feel like they go on forever and when the beats get slower on tracks like "Monte Hall" or "Triple Stage Darkness" I don't think the back and forth flow between Pete Nice and M.C. Search is done any favors.  Still, it's a fun record all these years later and one that I think is probably overlooked when discussing the pantheon of incredible albums that came out in the late 80s hip hop scene.

3rd Bass - The Cactus Al/Bum (YouTube Music full album stream):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nHAZh4VPksh1NjCgvM7FeaDVgf4jJc0T0

Monday, March 22, 2021

Dan Sartain - 1981 - 2021

I was planning on just posting the reviews that I had written last week, but had forgotten to post.  But over the weekend I read the news that Dan Sartain died.  At the time of writing this, there hasn't been a cause of death announced, so I will not do any speculation about that.

I didn't know Dan, but I met him a few times over the years when he would play shows in the NYC area.  Usually tagging along with other Swami bands.  I can't really speak knowledgeably about him as a person, but what I can say is that his music was very important to me.

I first discovered Dan like a lot of people, through his Swami debut, Vs. The Serpientes.  I was still working in the music business back then and was lucky enough to be able to have had a hand in promoting Swami releases to college radio stations.   I'm not sure what I was expecting when the Serpientes CDs showed up at our office one day, but I can assure you I was totally surprised and blown away.  What a great album.  A little punk, a little rock and roll, a little greaser and little Johnny Cash.  These were sounds that were absolutely not in vogue at that time, but here was this kid, a few years younger than me, cranking out some incredible tunes.

During this time, my wife and I had just started dating.  She was still living in Boston and I was living in Jersey City.  When Dan Sartain came through with Hot Snakes, I set her up so she could go see the show.  I know she liked the record, but that's the night I'm pretty sure she became a big Dan Sartain fan.

Fast forward to 2010, and we used his version of "Besame Mucho" from Join Dan Sartain as our first dance song at our wedding.  His music has always been very special to us and has been interwoven through our relationship.  Neither of us liked everything he did when he started experimenting with his sound after Dan Sartain Lives came out.  She didn't really like the punk leaning Too Tough To Live and I completely checked out on Century Plaza.  But, there's something about Dan where you always knew the next record could have something special on it.  He wasn't the type of artist you could just move on from.

That became very clear in the past couple of years. I absolutely adored his cowboy song cover album Western Hills.  I delighted in the bristling energy of his Vs. Sun Studios release and I was so eager to hear his next offering Arise, Dan Sartain, Arise.  I'm not sure if that album will ever come out.  I also do not know if there will end up being physical releases of Western Hills or Sun Studios.  I hope all three come out someday.

I'm struggling with this one.  It's not the same as when Sam Jayne died and I felt just intense grief.  With Dan, it feels more complicated.  I mentioned to some friends over the weekend that I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone as I couldn't figure out what was going on.  All I know for sure is that his music touched me and I wish that there would always be more on the horizon.

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Illiterates - Demo Cassette

Untitled

Poop Stick (2019)

Ugh, another tape from 2019.  Where did these all come from and how have they been buried for two years?  I'm still trying to get through them all, but man, I don't really like listening to tapes.  Anyway, next up is The Illiterates. They were freshman in high school when they recorded this.  The good news is that even though it took me two years to listen to this, they haven't graduated yet.  So, bonus.

Where do I start.  This sounds like a high school band.  The recording is super rudimentary and is fuzzy and blown out.  The songwriting doesn't really do anything for me and there's nothing particularly interesting going on.  You could have said a lot worse about me my freshman year.  What I will say is at least one of the guitarists is obviously very talented.  If he can figure out how to harness those powers for the forces of good, there's potential there.

I don't want to be super negative about this.  It's not something that I'd ever listen to much and since I'm about thirty years older than these guys, I'm not really their demographic anyway.  But I will say that I'm really happy and excited to see that there's still a subset of kids in school that want to play instruments and be in a band.  They could have just as easily ended up listening to shitty music and being super stoked on cryptocurrency.  I'll take kids playing bad punk rock over that any day of the week.

The Illiterates - Demo:
https://poopstick.bandcamp.com/album/demo

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Souls of Mischief - No Man's Land 2xLP

Untitled

Jive (1995)

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.

Well, I'm out of Casual singles from the Fear Itself era, and while I don't have all of the Souls of Mischief singles from that time period, I figured now would be a good week to tackle the second Souls of Mischief full length, No Man's Land.  This was the follow up to 93 'Til Infinity, which was one of my all time favorite hip hop records when it came at and continues to be to this day.  

Now in 1995, I had really moved away from hip hop and was listening to much more punk and indie rock.  I was really disillusioned with the direction hip hop was moving, but in 1995 I was still game for a new release from anyone that was part of the Hieroglyphics crew.  I bought this CD right away and was extremely disappointed.  It just didn't connect with me at all and I pretty much filed it away after a few listens and moved on with my life.

It wasn't until many years later that I gave it another chance.  I liked it much better when I was a bit older.  While I still contend that the beats are not at the level of 93 'Til, they are way better than I gave them credit for in 1995.  Lyrically, the Souls are on fire and while their tone and delivery is more aggressive than on their debut, they still run circles around most multi-MC groups and pass the microphone back and forth with ease, never losing the flow of the song.

If I'm in the mood to listen to Souls of Mischief, I'm going to reach for 93 'Til Infinity nine times out of ten.  It's just one of those records that is embedded into my consciousness at this point.  But every so often I will pick up one of their other albums and I am never disappointed these days when No Man's Land is playing.  It's the true definition of an album that's a grower.  And I had to have the vinyl in my collection.

Souls of Mischief - No Man's Land:
https://hieroglyphicsimperium.bandcamp.com/album/no-mans-land