Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Black Sheep - A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing 2xLP


Get On Down / Universal (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 25+ 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 most folks in the 90s, I was taken by the Black Sheep video "The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)" which I saw on Yo MTV Raps pretty often in 1991.  That song is one of those that broke out of Yo and had pretty big impact on the rest of the world.  Recently I heard used on a car commercial with CGI hamsters, so for whatever it is worth, this isn't one of those songs that didn't make a dent in the mainstream.

The record as a whole is one that I have grown to appreciate more and more as I've gotten older.  For whatever reason when I was fourteen in 1991 I was a little disappointed the first couple of times I listened to my CD.  I think it's because the vast majority of the album is much more laid back than the video that made me pick it up to begin with.  However as the years have gone by, my appreciation has only grown and in some ways I like the rest of the album even more than the single that initially caught my interest.

Most beats are the sort of mellow Native Tongue style jazz loops that I always associated most closely with A Tribe Called Quest.  But Dres and Mista Lawnge have a darker approach that doesn't have the sort of upbeat hopefulness that Tribe pulled off.  Black Sheep are more content to wallow in the shadows a bit and spin songs that are a bit edgier, but also allow Dres to opportunity to showcase his smooth multisyllabic flow.

This version of the LP is one of the only ways to get all of the songs from the original CD on vinyl.  Most single LP versions are missing "Flavor Of The Month (Revisited)" (which seems pretty insane when you think about it) and the closing track "Yes."  For me to upgrade my CD to vinyl, there was no way I was going to lose those songs.

Black Sheep - "The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)":

Black Sheep - "Flavor of The Month"

Monday, December 9, 2019

Jacob Turnbloom - Cemetery Luau LP - Pink Vinyl (/100)


Cheddar Goblin (2019)

Jacob Turnbloom is the main singer in one of my favorite bands, Mrs. Magician.  He's started up a record label called Cheddar Goblin and his first release is a solo record of his own.  It's going to be hard to not compare them to prior work done with Mrs. Magician, but if you are a Mrs. Magician fan, I cannot fathom you also not digging Cemetery Luau.

More than anything, these songs remind me of early Mrs. Magician.  The types of songs they were releasing on their 7"s prior to Strange Heaven or some of the tracks compiled onto their B Sides compilation.  You aren't going to get the sheen of Bermuda, but you also aren't going to get the lo fi hiss of the Jacob Turnbloom Death Tape.  Cemetery Luau is kind of that perfect middle ground, and that really lets the songs shine through.  Even though this is a solo album, it's not one of those sparse 'dude with a guitar' records.  Jacob handles the bass and drum duties as well resulting in a full band sound.

While there are minor surfy elements in Jacob's guitar playing, to me I find the songs on this album to have more of a Bakesale era Lou Barlow in Sebedoh type of lived in quality to them.  Low key for the most part and mostly concerned with telling the story of the song.  And the songs tell great stories.  Jacob Turnbloom is one of my favorite current lyricists as he always manages to cast a wry eye at the world and at relationships, but never comes across as bitter or hopeless.  I really love this record.  It's one of the best in a year crowded with some pretty incredible records.

Jacob Turnbloom - "Ride The Past Waves Of The Future"

Jacvob Turnbloom - "Suncoast Digest":

Friday, December 6, 2019

Chilton - Little Birds LP


Dead Broke (2019)

Chilton is a newer band and Little Birds is their debut album.  This record was put out by Dead Broke, who are on just an absolute tear through 2019 when it comes to releasing incredible records.  Chilton is another notch in their belt and I can't say enough good things about it.

Here's the deal with Chilton, in my opinion.  If you miss Seaweed and that sort of aggressive, but melodic, rock from the 90s, Chilton has you covered.  Vocally, the singers from Chilton and Seaweed have undeniable similarities, but musically the bands are kindred spirits as well.  Both have a knack for noisy guitar squalls that still manage to convey a hook and both bands are able to capture an energy on their records that elude so many other bands.

Here we are in December and I'm still writing about a record that will undoubtably end up on my year end best of.  For most of 2019 I felt that it was something of a quiet year for new music.  Yes there had been some really great releases, but quantity-wise, things seemed to be a little slower than years past.  All of a sudden, over the last two months or so, I feel like there's been on onslaught of great music.  2019 is closing out incredibly strong and suddenly making my year end list is becoming a more arduous task than I originally thought it would be.  I'd like to thank Chilton and Dead Broke for adding to the pile of great records to go through.

Chilton - Little Birds:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Edan - Beauty And The Beat LP


Lewis (2005)

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 25+ 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.

Beauty And The Beat is probably the best hip hop album that I've heard the most recently.  Even though this came out nearly fifteen years ago at this point, I still consider it a modern album and don't group it in with my favorites from high school.  I got the CD version of this right when it had come out as I was familiar with Edan having worked on tracks with Mr. Lif and also a friend had recommended the first Edan record, Primitive Plus, to me.  I did like Primitive Plus, but it was on his sophomore release where Edan truly blew my mind.

The beats on this album are incredible.  They border on being psychedelic, but always stick to a tried and true rhythm that allows the rapping to stay focused and on point.  Edan takes chances as well and the biggest payoff for me is the album closer, "Promised Land."  Over a string fueled beat, the lyrics have this unique repeating quality where a line closes one section and then starts off the next.  It's difficult to explain without hearing it, but an example is "I slapped a 40-ounce out of a young man's hand / and fed him lesson's of life to formulate a plan / I wore the Prime Meridian as a wrist band... / I wore the Prime Meridian as a wrist band / and gave away my riches but I still remained a rich man / I thought of freedom and I jetted to the Promised Land"  It probably doesn't reads on paper as interesting as the actual execution sounds, but it's hands down one of my very favorite hip hop songs of all time.

Funny thing is that I picked up this album on Discogs at a somewhat inflated collector price.  I didn't pay an absurd amount for it, but I paid enough and was OK to do so as the album had been out of print for quite a while on vinyl.  Literally the day after I got my shipping notification I found out that the album was being rereleased as part of the Record Store Day Black Friday list.  I could have picked it for about twenty bucks less than I paid for my copy.  Bad timing I suppose, but I am still happy to finally have a copy of this on vinyl.

Edan - Beauty And The Beat:

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Subjunctives - Sunshine And Rainbows LP - Red Vinyl


Top Drawer (2019)

The final full length Sicko album, You Are Not The Boss Of Me, came out in 1997.  Ever since then, it feels like there's been something of an eMpTiness.  A missing piece of music that I had been able to count on for the prior few years.  As far as American pop punk goes, my favorite bands were Mr. T Experience, Zoinks and Sicko.  By 1998, Sicko broke up, Zac left Zoinks and the Mr. T Experience wasn't making records that I really liked that much anymore.

My interest in overseas bands was already reaching a fever pitch and with the essential disappearance of my three favorites from America, I pretty much figured pop punk was something I'd have to find outside of the states.  There have been exceptions over the years, but for the most part this has remained true for me.  Japan and the UK have long housed my favorite bands that play hooked filled, loud guitar punk rock.

It's 2019 and Ean from Sicko has released an album with his new band The Subjunctives.  This isn't the first time that I've listened to a new Ean band.  I've always liked most of his output.  Tales From The Birdbath had some wonderful songs and the more recent Date Night With Brian also produced some real hits.  But, those bands didn't scratch that Sicko itch, they tended to lean a little more to the indie rock side of things, which is fine by me, I like good indie rock too.  Then came the Subjunctives.  Ean playing pop fucking punk.  I love it.

The Subjunctives are definitely going to get Sicko comparisons.  It's impossible for them not to.  While the Subjunctives have a similar energy and knack for killer hooks, sonically they also share a similar space with Sugar.  The warm, crunchy guitar sound is one that Mr. Mould would be proud of and the songs, in general, are a tad slower than what Sicko cranked out.  To their benefit.  As Ean and Co. tell tales of growing older and the joyful tedium of day to day life, the music is perfect.  Fast where it needs to be (No one is going to accuse "Waste My Time" of being a slow song), but finding that perfect upper mid tempo groove needed to spin their yarns.

Ean doesn't sing every song on the album (the ones he doesn't are also fun and a nice change of pace), but he does handle the lion's share.  This is easily my favorite post-Sicko Ean project.  Combine this with the fantastic songs that Denny and Josh are cranking out with their band, The Drolls, and for the first time in a while, I'm not mourning the loss of Sicko.  I'm excited about what everyone is working on now and planning for the future.  Though it doesn't hurt that Sicko reunion shows are happening from time to time.  They help scratch that Sicko itch as well.

The Subjunctives - Sunshine and Rainbows:

Friday, November 29, 2019

Beezewax - South Of Boredom LP


Boss Tuneage / Sellout! (2019, Reissue)

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this Beezewax record finally coming out on vinyl twenty years after its initial release.  I'm thrilled that it's available and I'm happy that labels that I love like Boss Tuneage and Sellout! are the ones who released it.  But, there is a part of me that's a little sad that this isn't on PopKid.  The original CD came out on PopKid records back in 1999, but we just never figured out a good way to do a vinyl version.  It's super cool to have this record in my collection.  I'm just a bit jealous that it's not in my collection as a PopKid records release.

Still, that's a just a weirdo thing for me to work through.  Everyone else should rejoice that one of my favorite records of all time is finally available on vinyl.  I remember when @alanrappa first played me the band's debut album A Dozen Summits.  They had sent it to PopKid HQ along with some other tunes.  I remember liking it right away, but Alan was the one who really loved it and knew they were the perfect fit for PopKid.  Alan & I both did radio shows at my old college station back in the 90s.  It was there where Beezewax finally sunk in and I understood it like Alan did.  He would play the song "In The Stands" on his show before we had the CDs actually pressed.  Or as I referred to it as "THE HIT."  That's the song that really made me fall for the band.

It's still my favorite song on the album, but South Of Boredom is a virtually perfect record front to back.  All of the songs are now "THE HIT" in my mind and it's been something I've been playing constantly for the past twenty years.  For the uninitiated, Beezewax play melodic guitar pop, not too dissimilar from the very, very best of The Posies.  But they also have their own way of structuring songs that in my minds, make them even better than The Posies.  I would put the first three Beezewax albums up against just about any three album run.  They're all so perfect.  I hope that those ones are next on the Sellout/Boss Tuneage agenda.  Vinyl versions of A Dozen Summits and Oh Tahoe would look pretty great on my record shelf next to South of Boredom.

Conflict of interest time.  I have a few copies of this record available on the PopKid website.  Seriously, just a few - single digits.  If you want to pick up a copy, grab it quick:

For those in the UK, Boss Tuneage is the place to go.  For Norway, Sellout! is your source.  And in Japan, Waterslide has some in their distro as well.  No matter where you get it from, you'll be a better person with this record in your collection.

Beezewax - South Of Boredom:

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Black Moon - Enta Da Stage LP Box Set


Fat Beats / Duck Down / Wreck Records (2017)

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 25+ 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.

Enta Da Stage by Black Moon was one of the last handful of hip hop records that really resonated with me back in the 90s.  The album is another one that I don't really remember how I discovered, but I imagine Yo MTV Raps or The Source were probably behind it.  What I do remember is that the gnarly rumbling bassline of "Powaful Impak!" was just about one of my favorite beats in the world in that era.  Not to mention the lyric "Get on my skateboard and do a motherfucking drive by" is also one of the best lines of the 90s.  That said, I didn't really know anyone else who listened to these guys and I always sort of felt that they were a forgotten band that didn't get their due.

I certainly didn't think they were the sort of band that would end up getting a six LP box set dedicated to their debut record.  As it turns out, Black Moon are beloved and fondly remembered and that makes me really happy.  I don't know that I personally needed a six LP box set for the record, but it appears to be the only way to get every song from the original CD I had on vinyl.  If you buy just the LP separately, a few tracks are cut out of the vinyl version.  This box seems to be the only way to get everything on vinyl.  So be it.

I still love the main LP.  The beats are jazzy and soulful, but are really hard edged and have more in common with DJ Premier type production, even though the source elements are the sort of thing you'd expect to hear on a Tribe Called Quest track.  Lyrically, Buckshot Shorty is on fire for the entire album.  He's telling tales and battle rapping and generally coming off as the sort of MC that you want to follow down whatever path he feels like leading you on.  It's a true classic release.

Instrumentals haven't really ever been a big thing for me, but I am starting to gain more of an appreciation for them lately.  So, it's cool to have those are part of this set.  The remixes are something that I've never heard before.  I assume most are from 12" singles and B sides, but the liner notes don't really source them, so I'm not sure.  I did think it was weird that there was no remix for my favorite song on the album, the aforementioned "Powaful Impak," but there are some interesting variations on most of the album's songs.  I'll probably always be partial to the album versions that I've been listening to for twenty five plus years, but it's still cool to hear something new.

Black Moon - Enta Da Stage (Full Album YouTube Stream):

Monday, November 25, 2019

Laika's Orbit - Chosen No Ones LP - Clear Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2019)

No Matter What It Takes, the 2016 album by Laika's Orbit knocked me on my ass when I first heard it.  I've been anxiously waiting for their follow up and I'm happy to say it's finally here.  Chosen No Ones picks up where the last LP left off, with hook-filled guitar pop songs and a bouncy energy that fills the room.

The first comparison that always comes to mind when I listen to Laika's Orbit is with the band Title Tracks.  Vocally, I think both bands are very similar and both singers have a knack for writing earworm melodies that rattle around in my head for weeks at a time.  Both bands also lean towards the jangly guitar power-pop spectrum of rock music and share similarities with a band like The White Wires on one song and Tom Petty on the next.  In fact, there's something about the song "Lucky Ones" that really puts my brain in Damn The Torpedoes mode.  This song feels like a kindred spirit with "Even The Losers."

The whole album is a fun listen.  I tend to listen to a lot of vinyl on Sunday mornings and there's something about throwing on this Laika's Orbit record that really fits the mood.  No Matter What It Takes had the advantage of coming out of nowhere to impress me.  With Chosen No Ones, I came in with high expectations, but Laika's Orbit had no problem at all living up to the bar that I had set for them in my mind.  It's a really great record.

Laika's Orbit - Chosen No Ones:

Friday, November 22, 2019

State Drugs - Takings & Leavings LP - Blue Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers / Toxic Pop (2019)

This isn't the first time I have heard State Drugs.  I really liked their contributions to a split cassette that they were a part of that I heard a few months ago.  That said, I ended up liking this LP even more than I thought I would.  This album collects a bunch of EPs and demos that State Drugs put out over the last few years.  I don't have any of these (the songs from the aforementioned split cassette are not part of this release), so for me, this is essentially like getting a new full length album to listen to for the first time.

What's really striking to me is how cohesive this sounds as a full record despite culling the recordings from several different sessions with different band members.  If you didn't tell me that up front, I don't think I would have realized that this wasn't meant to be a full album all along.  Anyway, This is rootsy indie rock that has one foot in Tom Petty and the other in The Replacements (there's even a cover of "Left of Dial" to really drive that home).  If you are into bands like Nude Beach, or to a lesser extent Unwelcome Guests, you should probably check out Takings & Leavings.

State Drugs - Takings & Leavings:

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Das EFX - Dead Serious 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 25+ 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.

Das EFX was something of a revelation when I first heard them.  This was a band that was spitting out lyrics that were almost ninety percent pop culture references, mixed in with a little creative jibberish and the occasional story telling plot point.  I had never heard anything like it prior to its release in 1992.  The first Del record was probably my first experience with a hip hop record that was light and comical, without being a joke, but Das EFX took the silliness to a higher level while keeping the music grimy and tough.

As part of the EPMD led Hit Squad, Das EFX instantly had cred, but it's the quality of the ten songs on this record that make it a bonafide classic twenty seven years later.  The beats are sludgy, but still punch in a way where it's impossible to not nod your head along.  Album opener "Mic Checka" sets the stage for what's to come, highlighting Das EFX's "diggedy" style flow and name dropping The Captain and Tenille for no real reason.  It's hard hitting, but ridiculous and I just love it.

Considering that a lot of the 90s had hip hop acts cramming their CDs full of music to the maximum run time, Dead Serious coming in at a lean forty-ish minutes makes each song more impactful.  Plus there's not much in the way of filler or stupid skits that weigh down a lot of other albums of the era.  In 1992 this was one of my very favorite albums.  In 2019 I still think it's as great as ever.  I also really dig their often slept on sophomore album Straight Up Sewaside, but I haven't picked up the vinyl for that one just yet.

Das EFX - "Mic Checka":

Das EFX - "They Want EFX":

Das EFX - "Straight Out The Sewer":

Monday, November 18, 2019

Flashlights - Shadows and Lights LP


Secret Mission (2019)

Over the last couple of years, Secret Mission records has been giving me a real education.  I have often felt that I was reasonably tied in to Japanese punk rock.  At least more so than your average bear here in America.  Yet with release after release, Secret Mission drops a band I have never heard of into my lap.  Flashlights are another great one to add to the list.  This album originally came out in 2016 on Stay Free records in Japan.  That is a label that I know as the band Three Minute Movie put out a couple of records on Stay Free.  But it makes it all the more perplexing that I haven't heard of Flashlights before popping this on the turntable.

Anyway, this is fast and jangly power pop at its very best.  Sonically, I think they are somewhat similar to Ron Ron Clou, though probably leaning a little poppier and less of that punky energy that Ron Ron Clou harnesses so well.  That said, the pop that Flashlights churn out is pretty perfect.  Wonderful harmonies wrap themselves around the band's hooks and really elevate the proceedings.

Top to bottom, Shadows and Lights is a fun listen.  Perfect for a sunny weekend morning while you are kicking around the house, not really wanting to do much other than take in the tunes and relax.

Flashlights - Shadows and Lights:

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Wannadies - Be A Girl LP


Music On Vinyl (2019, Reissue)

I adore The Wannadies.  As far as pure pop guitar bands, I'd be hard pressed to think of a band that does it better than they do.  I've had the CD of Be A Girl since the 90s and I also had the import first pressing of the vinyl that I picked up in maybe 2009 or so?  But, recently Music On Vinyl reissued the three Best Wannadies records on 180 gram colored vinyl.  Due to an Amazon snafu, I didn't get the colored vinyl version of Be A Girl.  But the price was nice and this pressing of the record sounds outstanding, so I decided to keep it anyway instead of looking for and paying collector prices for the colored version.  Though I make no promises I won't buy that as well someday.

Be A Girl starts off with their biggest hit, "You and Me Song."  This was a legitimate hit song, featured in some Romeo & Juliet movie I never saw and actually getting radio play in America.  Bizarrely enough, they played this song at the McDonalds in Pennsylvania that I went to a couple of weeks ago making my pilgrimage for a McRib.  As great as that song is (and it's great), it is just a small sample of the incredible songwriting throughout this album.

"Might Be Stars" is probably my favorite song on the record with its forward pushing beat, huge fuzzy guitars and chorus harmonies.  There isn't a bad song on this album.  You could throw a dart at the tracklisting and you're always going to hit a stellar song.  The craziest part is that this isn't even my favorite Wannadies record.  This is definitely a band to revisit if you've never given a whole record of theirs a close listen.  The hooks are undeniable.

The Wannadies - "Might Be Stars":

The Wannadies - "How Does It Feel":

The Wannadies - "You And Me Song":

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The UMC's - Fruits Of Nature LP


Wild Pitch (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 25+ years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

This album stands out from some of the others that I have written about over the past few weeks.  I didn't have any UMC's records back in the 90s.  I heard them for the first time in the last few years.  Like I've done with many rock and roll bands, I have spend some time going backwards and checking out records and groups that either I never heard during their heyday or that I just didn't like for one reason or another.  In the case of The UMC's, I'm not sure I ever listened to them in the 90s.  I think a lot of that was because of their name.  As I was already a fan of Ultramagnetic MCs, I didn't like that The UMC's name was so similar.  I get that this is a dumb reason, but I was a teenager at the time.

Unfortunately, I was missing out on some excellent records for twenty plus years.  On Fruits of Nature, UMC's are hitting that exact style that I loved back then.  Catchy beats that lean on jazz and soul samples, uptempo rhythms and lyrical flows that are a little left of center.  Whenever a hip hop act of the 90s was taking chances, that's when I tended to jump up and take notice.  Why it took me so many years to finally notice UMC's is something I can't quite explain or rationalize.

I will say this, Fruits of Nature will slide into your record collection very neatly next to your Souls Of Mischief, Tribe Called Quest and Pharcyde records.  If you are into that sort of laid back style, this is an album you need to add to your piles.  I've also picked up the second UMCs record, Unleashed.  It's different from Fruits of Nature, but is also excellent in its own way.  I'll write a bit about that one in the next few months.

The UMC's - "Blue Cheese":

The UMC's - "Swing It To The Area":

Monday, November 11, 2019

Adult Magic - Adult Magic LP


Dead Broke / Specialist Subject (2019)

There are a handful of bands that are sure fire hits for me if you drop their names in a RIYL list.  The most obvious one is Leatherface.  You mention the Sunderland boys and it's a guarantee that I'll give that band a chance.  Also very high on the list are two that were used to describe Adult Magic; Superchunk and Sugar.  As soon as I saw that those two were referenced, I knew I had to add Adult Magic to the collection.

Now I certainly can see touchstones of those two bands.  Adult Magic employs a thick and crunchy guitar tone that is so very much like Bob Mould and other guitar heroes from the 90s.  And the way they are able to wrap their vocal melodies around around the guitar riffage certainly brings to mind moments of Superchunk.  Acknowledging those two bands, Adult Magic isn't a copy of either.  They are forging their own way at times bringing in other influences and sounds.  Sometimes I hear a nod to mellower bands like Silver Scooter, while at other times things get a little punchier not unlike the very best of The Weakerthans.

I'll be honest, that's a lot of comparisons for one paragraph, but ultimately what you need to know is the Adult Magic are creating some really excellent, 90s influenced guitar pop songs.  They've got the hooks where you want them and the melodies where you need them.  Their debut is definitely worth checking out, especially if you dig on the sounds of twenty five years ago as much as I do.

Adult Magic - Adult Magic:

Friday, November 8, 2019

Somerset Thrower - Godspeed LP - Gray w/ Splatter Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2018)

So I am definitely late to the party with Somerset Thrower.  This record came out last year, but for whatever reason, I never bought it.  Honestly, I think I probably just forgot about it as 2019 started up it faded in the rear view a bit.  Luckily when perusing the Dead Broke website, I was reminded that I never got this album last year and rectified that oversight.  I'm glad that I did as Godspeed is a strong record with a huge 90s sound that would have made me crazy in 1995 or so.

Somerset Thrower has a way of mixing melodic guitar rock with earnest, scratchy vocals that is something to behold.  I hear some elements of Seaweed when I listen to Godspeed, but I think that Somerset Thrower is taking that sound and dragging it a little more towards a Sunny Day Real Estate vibe.  Though I'll be totally honest, I like this album a lot more than most of the Sunny Day Real Estate I've heard in my life (they're one of those bands that just never clicked for me, despite multiple attempts and relistening to them to try to figure out what I'm missing).

Just about every song on the record is pretty great.  The only one that's not really doing it for me is "Eject."  It's a bit slower than the others and clocking in at six and a half minutes, by about the four minute mark, I'm ready to get back to some catchier songs.  Luckily, the very next song is "Jellyfish Scene," which is probably my favorite on the album.  It has a driving rhythm section, with punchy guitar riffs layered on, forming a foundation for a vocal melody that simultaneously reminds me of Fluf, Knapsack and The Posies somehow.

If, like me, you missed out on this record last year, it is worthwhile to backtrack and check this album out.  If you like the rock and roll sounds of the 90s, there are few bands delivering those sounds as well as Somerset Thrower does.

Somerset Thrower - Godspeed:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Brand Nubian - One For All 2xLP


Traffic/Elektra (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 25+ 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 exactly remember when or where I heard of Brand Nubian for the first time.  Like so many other artists of the era, I can't fathom it not being from Yo MTV Raps, though it's possible that the legend of the five mic review in The Source was one of the first times I was made aware of them.  I distinctly remember being drawn to singles from each of the groups albums that were released between '90 and '94, but I'm not sure which one I heard first.  I figure it was probably the title track from the first Brand Nubian record One For All, but there is a chance that I originally picked up this CD after the group's second album In God We Trust.

All these years later, I can say with certainty that One For All is my favorite Brand Nubian release.  Although Lord Jamar and Sadat X held down the fort admirably on their next two records, the group was never as potent as they were when Grand Puba was part of the act.  His laid back, nasally flow is a perfect mix with the funk and R&B fueled beats.  However he was never better than when he was able to play off of Jamar and Sadat.  The three MCs together have a chemistry that is undeniable.

Considering that this record came out in 1990, the production feels ahead of its time.  This is one of those albums that really changed the game when it came out and it holds up unbelievably well all of these years later.  The next two Brand Nubian records were really strong and I love Grand Puba's debut solo album, but when everyone was still together on One For All, that's when the magic really happened.

Brand Nubian - "One For All":

Brand Nubian - "Concerto In X Minor":

Brand Nubian - "Drop The Bomb":

Monday, November 4, 2019

Guns n' Wankers - The Complete Recordings LP - Yellow Vinyl (/200)


One Wank/Unless You Try (2019)

I finally picked up the yellow vinyl variant of the Guns n' Wankers compilation LP.  I don't go as wild variant hunting as I did ten or fifteen years ago, but there are still a few bands where I feel that I really need to make sure I have everything.  Snuff and Guns n' Wankers are bands that still fit in that category.  As of now, I am comlpete.  Until Duncan & Co. press it again anyway.

I don't really have much to add to this write u regarding the music that I didn't say when I talked about the other versions of this LP that I bought.  But to quickly summarize, this LP contains some of my very favorite songs of all time.  I highly suggest picking up a copy.

Guns n' Wankers - "Raise Your Glass":

Guns n' Wankers - "Blah Blah Blah":

Friday, November 1, 2019

A Giant Dog - Neon Bible LP - Purple Vinyl


Merge (2019)

This record was part of the Merge Records Born Under A Good Sign subscription series.  I've now received everything from the subscription, though I haven't written about everything just yet.  I'm not sure how I feel about it overall, but there have certainly been highs and lows.  Going into things I would have thought that a full album from A Giant Dog would be one of the records I'd be most excited to receive, as I've really enjoyed everything I've heard from them previously.  But, these aren't A Giant Dog songs, they've instead covered the Arcade Fire's album, Neon Bible, in its entirety.

I don't like Arcade Fire.  I don't have any of their records, but I had promoted some during my stint in the music biz in the early 2000s.  Whatever it is that they're selling, I was never buying.  Now that's not to say that their songs, when run through the A Giant Dog filter, couldn't end up being pretty good, but the end result is an album that's uneven at best.  When A Giant Dog takes on a rocker, like album opener "Black Mirror" or other louder songs such as "The Well and the Lighthouse" and "(Antiochrist Television Blues)," it's a huge success.  This is a band that knows how to push the pedal to the floor and blast out some high energy and catch rock.

That said, the majority of this record is mired in slower songs and a bit more keyboard/synth than I typically like.  I think it's probably due to the source material.  I don't like Arcade Fire, so unless the songs really sound like ones from another A Giant Dog album, it's just not for me.  There's a few standouts worth your time, but the record as a whole isn't something I see myself listening to very much.

A Giant Dog - Neon Bible:

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Redman - Whut? Thee Album LP


Rush (1992)

For this Ed Lover Dance Day Wednesday, I have the first Redman record, Whut? The Album.  The first time I heard Redman was on the EPMD posse cut "Headbanger" from Business Never Personal.  That's always been my favorite EPMD record.  "Headbanger" was one of the highlights and Redman's verse is pretty much the highlight of the song.  After hearing that one, it was a guarantee I'd be picking up Redman's debut.

Back when I got this album in high school, I actually ended up being a little disappointed.  It didn't hit me as hard as Business Never Personal and felt kind of long.  I honestly didn't end up listening to it a whole lot aside from the undeniable first single "Time 4 Sum Aksion."  That song ruled back then and is still my favorite thing on the record.  But past that, it felt like there were too many skits and not enough songs that had the same sort of energy I was expecting.  The CD ended up lingering in the collection as Redman went on to be a pretty well known dude.  I never really listened to anything else of his during his ascent.

I rediscovered the record in the mid 2000s when I started relistening to a lot of my hip hop records.  It ended up being much better than I remembered.  I still think there are too many skits, but in no way is "Time 4 Sum Aksion" the only track worth listening.  "Rated R," "Watch Yo Nuggets" and "Tonight's Da Night" all prove that I was way too dismissive of this record when I was younger.  I still do wish I could trim some of the skits out and shorten the record as a whole just a bit, but even in it's current form it's a great listen.

I definitely wanted to have the vinyl in my collection as the highs are really high on Whut? The Album.  Unfortunately, when this copy showed up from eBay, I discovered that it wasn't in the sort of condition I expected.  The A side, in particular, is in rough shape with hiss and pops and a few skips.  Don't worry, the seller made good and I didn't get swindled out of any money.  But for now this copy will end up as a placeholder until something better comes along.

Redman - Whut? The Album (YouTube Playlist):

Monday, October 28, 2019

Roka Hueka - Que No Quedo Huella 7" - Blue Vinyl (/155)


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

Full disclosure, this is a ska 7".  I haven't listened to a new ska band of any kind since 1996.  I really liked Operation Ivy and Less Than Jake back then, so I tried listening to a few other bands of that era, but nothing really stuck with me.  I quickly assumed that I just didn't like ska and Op Ivy and LTJ were the exceptions not the rules.  Even those Less Than Jake records didn't age particularly gracefully.  Have you heard Losing Streak lately?  That might be the worst guitar tone ever captured on a record (Op Ivy still blasts though).

And now in 2019, we have Roka Hueka, a latin ska band from Denver, Colorado.  To say I wasn't sure what to expect going into this record is an understatement, but I quickly discovered something.  Ska was absolutely meant to be played with the singing in Spanish.  It just makes so much more sense.  The way the bouncing bass lines and horn accents mix with the lyrics on "Que No Quedo Huella" transform this genre of music that seems comically out of style into something that sounds fresh and contemporary.  I could absolutely see this being played in a packed club filled with enthusiastic folks dancing the night away.  This song is a hit.

The B side is "Back To You" and is in English.  I don't like this song quite as much as the A side, but it is slower and has a sincerity to it that keeps it from sounding cliche and dated.  To quickly quote the Snappy Little numbers website: "This record is a Community Collaboration project and is fully sponsored by Cereveceria Colorado with 100% of the money raised from the sales of this release benefiting Casa de Paz and Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, two organizations dedicated to fighting for immigrants' rights."  That is absolutely something I can get behind, whether you like ska or not.

Roka Hueka - Que No Quedo Huella 7":

Friday, October 25, 2019

Rocket From The Crypt / Dead Bolt - Split 7" - Pink Cover

Rocket From The Crypt / Dead Bolt - Split 7" - Pink Cover

Standard (1992)

It's rare that I get to buy a new Rocket From The Crypt release these days.  I am committed to trying to track down every single stupid variant of every one of their records, but at this point there's really not many left.  That said, something new always manages to pop up and this 7" is an example of that.

I have had a version of this record since around 1995.  That version had a blue sleeve.  In the early 2000s I found out there was a version with a yellow sleeve as well, so that was added to the archives.  Well, it turns out there was a third version that showed up on eBay a few weeks ago.  This one has a pink sleeve.  Aside from that it's the same as the other two, but whenever I find a Rocket From The Crypt record that I previously didn't know about, it makes me wonder what else could be floating around out there.  Probably more than I really want to know at the end of the day.

Song wise, I can't say too much about Deadbolt.  Their spooky surf didn't really grab me in the 90s and I've probably only listened to their side of this record a couple of times at the most.  But the Rocket side is a favorite of mine.  "Cha Cha Cha" blasts forward with pick slides, hammered chords and that fuzzy vocal feedback that was present on so many of those early RFTC masterpieces.  I just love it and it still gets me pumped up all these years later.  Give it up for the band.

Rocket From The Crypt - "Cha Cha Cha":

Deadbolt - "Down In The Lab":

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

D-Nice - Call Me D-Nice LP


Jive (1990)

As we go through Wednesday Ed Lover Dance Day each week, there will be some things that start create a pattern and explain where my brain was at in the late 80s and super early 90s.  Boogie Down Productions was probably the first hip hop group that I would have considered my favorite when I started to fall into that world in grammar school.  When D-Nice's debut album came out, I remember him being featured pretty regularly on Yo MTV Raps and it being mentioned that he was part of the BDP crew. 

In addition to playing the video a decent amount, I also remember him appearing on the show live to preform.  I won't say that it is for sure the first live act I saw on the show, but it's the earliest one I can remember.  I definitely got the CD as part of one of my BMG music club scams, but have just recently added the vinyl to my collection.

I think this album holds up really well considering that it's creeping up on thirty years old.  The one-two punch of opener "Crumbs On The Table" and lead single "Call Me D-Nice" still hit pretty hard all of these years later.  While the record doesn't really maintain those sorts of highs throughout, I think it's a much better album as a whole than it's probably given credit for.  "A Few Dollars More" combines a slick bass line with forceful lyrics.  "It's All About Me" is built off of a repeating 60s sounding sample, that mixes with bouncing bass and solid scratching in the breaks.  Closing track "And You Don't Stop" loops some 70s funk sounds that provide a base for D-Nice to throw out some 90s shout outs and lay down some quick rhymes on his way out the door.

The whole record is strong.  There was a period of decades where this wasn't an album I really listened to at all, but relistening to it with fresh ears for the last year or so made me realize that not having it on vinyl was a pretty glaring hole in my collection.

D-Nice - "Call me D-Nice":

D-Nice - "Crumbs On the Table":

Monday, October 21, 2019

Warp Lines - Human Fresh LP - White Vinyl (/200)


Dirt Cult (2019)

I've bought fewer new records released in 2019 than any year I can remember since the darkest days of my music consumption in 2004-2005.  The big difference between this year and those years where the passion was being forcefully driven out of my by the music industry is that although I have bought fewer records, the quality of the records I've picked up this year is pretty through the roof.  There have been several albums that I've listened to and thought, 'this could easily be the album of the year.'  Add Warp Lines to that list.  This record is hot shit.

When I found out that the band was from Canada and had a member that did time in the Steve Adamyk Band, I knew it would be worth taking a listen to.  That said, I was totally unprepared for how incredible this album is.  Warp Lines manage to take the sort of riffs and innovative chord progressions that you would hear on a Hot Snakes album, but use them with completely different guitar tones and melodies.  There's a retro vibe in the production with a bit of a dreamy haze floating over the record, but the band cuts through that with sharp hooks and creative song structure.

There are times where I hear a Jawbox sort of vibe emanating from the band's killer rhythm section.  The drumming in particular is outstanding and elevates the songs even higher.  Pounding toms and punchy fills create the backbone of the band's compositions, allowing the guitars to explore new ground, while staying rooted to the goal of ultimately providing a catchy song.  It's rare that I hear a band that can change things up and create interesting soundscapes without losing the plot.  This is an album full of pop songs at the end of the day, but they're delivered through a band that is taking chances and building off of many disparate influences.

To sum it up, this record is outstanding.  It's definitely one of the best I've heard all year.  Maybe the best to be totally honest.  There's nothing I can say to recommend it as much as it deserves.  Just go buy it immediately.

Warp Lines - Human Fresh:

Friday, October 18, 2019

Chippendale - Kill The Time Until Die CD


Fixing a Hole (2018)

I feel like I’m probably gong to be writing about the amazing Waterslide/PopKid show that happened when I was in Tokyo for the rest of my life.  It was such an incredible time and I will never forget how much fun I had and how important that night was to me.  One of the great bands that played the show was Chippendale.  I wasn’t really all that familiar with them prior to the show, but I left that night a pretty big fan of the songs they had played.

Fast forward a couple of years later and I have their full album in my possession finally.  Kill The Time Until Die is a nine song journey through some fantastically bleak, but energetic punk rock.  The bands that come to mind when I listen to the record first are Scandinavian imports such as early Manifesto Jukebox and Phoenix Foundation.  I also hear a little bit of I Excuse is some of the album's more frantic moments.  But where those bands would be a nonstop, aggressive bash in the skull, Chippendale leans towards a borderline shoegaze sound.  I still hear the tinges of anger and dissolution, but they’re presented in a more melodic way.

That’s not to say the band isn’t perfectly capable of turning their amps up to ten and unleashing a barrage of downstroke mayhem.  But I think the band is most successful when they indulge their melodic tendencies.  Kill The Time Until Die is a really dynamic listen.  I’m so glad I got to see them play live, even if it was just that one time.

Chippendale - “Unexpected”:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown LP


Next Plateau (1988)

Ultramagnetic MC’s have long been a favorite of mine.  The first album I ever heard by them was Funk Your Head Up.  I bought that CD at a record store in Heathrow airport while I was on a layover going to Spain as part f a class trip my sophomore year of high school.  I think I may have seen the video for Poppa Large prior to picking up the CD, but I’m not positive.  It was mostly just taking a chance on something I heard of when I had a little extra spending money in my pocket.  To this day, that’s my favorite Ultramagnetic record.

I bought The Four Horsemen as soon as it came out.  I remember seeing a review for it in The Source and I went out looking forward almost immediately.   It’s also a great album and one I’ve listened to countless times.  The reason I bring these records up is because they are my foundation for Ultramagnetic MC’s.  I didn’t get Critical Beatdown until many, many years later.  It wasn’t something easily found when I was younger, so I don’t think I heard the CD until my late 20s and I only added the vinyl to my collection in the past few weeks.

The fact that this record came out in 1988 is kind of insane.  The fact that several of the songs on this album were released in the years prior to 1988 is even crazier.  It’s so different from other albums of the era and so far ahead of its time, I kind of can’t even fathom how it was put together.  There was nothing like this out in 1988, which is probably why it’s super respected by hip hop folks, but also not really know as much by the outside world.  Even today, after thirty more years of hip hop innovation it sticks out a bit as this off center masterpiece.  Kool Keith is one of the most unique MCs to ever pick up a microphone.  I don’t like everything he’s ever done, but the three Ultramagnetic albums are pretty untouchable.

Funk Your Head Up is still my favorite Ultramagnetic record, but relistening to Critical Beatdown, it’s hard not to be floored by the sheer audacity of this album being released in 1988.

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown (YouTube full album playlist):

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sicko - In The Alternate Timeline - White Vinyl (/100)


Red Scare (2019)

Sicko is an all time favorite band of mine.  They came into my life at the perfect time and those records are still in perpetual heavy rotation for me all these decades later.  Few bands in the world mastered the craft of pop punk like Sicko.  I always felt like they were probably the best of my big three pop punk favorites.  Mr. T Experience had been around longer and put out more records, but had more filler on their albums than Sicko.  Every Sicko full length is wall to wall classics.  Zoinks probably could have given Sicko a run for their money, but once Zac left the band after their first record, it was all downhill for them.  That leaves Sicko at the head of the class.  Perfect pop punk.

I saw them play at the Pipeline in Newark, NJ in 1996 and of all of the amazing shows I was lucky enough to see in the 90s, it really stands out as one of the true highlights.  It was just so much fun.  I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t go see them at Coney Island High the next night (or maybe it was the night before, I can’t remember the order), but whatever the reason, it was probably a pretty dumb one in hindsight.  Especially since I don’t remember said reason and I remember that Pipeline show like it was yesterday.

At the beginning of 2018, Sicko played in Seattle as part of the inaugural Seattle Pop Punk Festival.  My buddy Alan & I went out to see them (and the mighty Bum).  What a great trip and what a fun couple of nights of rock and roll.  Sicko hadn’t lost a thing all these years later.  This past Saturday, Sicko played in Brooklyn.  In 2019.  It’s not really something I would have expected, but once again Alan & I made our way to another Sicko show. Just like the prior times I got to see Sicko play, it was just an absolute blast.  In addition to being a great band with great songs, they’re such nice dudes.  So much fun to be around.

The reason Sicko played this show was because of this ‘new’ record.  In The Alternate Timeline is a compilation of previously released songs, but don’t call it a greatest hits record.  That said, this sucker is packed full of hits.  If you want a solid snapshot of Sicko’s material, I think this is a pretty good starting point.  You have classics like “80 Dollars,” “Bad Year,” “Kathy’s Dance,” “Believe” and so many more. 

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t a few glaring omissions.  I don’t see how you summarize Sicko without “The Dateless Losers” (It was the name of their fan club in the 90s) or “Escalator” (They even made a video for this song) but in some ways leaving out these songs is kind of a very Sicko thing to do.  Plus I sort of like the idea of someone who has never heard of Sicko buying this album, liking it, deciding to dig deeper and then hearing those songs for the first time.  It’s kind of impossible to squeeze all of Sicko’s great songs into one LP.  They had way too many awesome ones for that.

The version of the record pictured is the tour only white vinyl version limited to one hundred copies.  Only available during a handful of reunion shows.  If they are coming to your neck of the woods, you would be a fool to not stop by, pick up a record and catch one of the best pop punk bands that ever walked the earth.

Sicko - In The Alternate Timeline:

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Blues Brothers - Gimme Some Lovin' 7" (Japan)


Atlantic (1980)

I haven't added a new 7" to the Blues Brothers collection in quite some time.  At this point there are so few left that I need, they're becoming more difficult to track down.  Even this one is probably going to end up being something of a placeholder as it has been promo'd by cutting off the bottom left corner of the artwork.  But it's definitely OK to have in the collection for right now.

The artwork for this 7" is the same picture used as the cover of the entire soundtrack as well as a bunch of the singles from the album.  The addition of the Japanese text makes it more interesting to me than some of the other variants that aren't as distinct, but I still wish there was more artwork variety for these singles.

As a reminder, these are two of my favorite Blues Brothers songs with "She Caught The Katy" likely being a top five song.  I still hope to track down some of the weirdo 7" variants I haven't found yet, but so far, no Discogs alerts on those.

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin'":

 The Blues Brothers - "She Caught the Katy":

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded LP - Red Vinyl


Traffic (2016, Reissue)

For Ed Lover Dance Day this week, I'm going to talk a little bit about Boogie Down Productions.  They were one of the first hip hop groups to really make an impact on me.  I couldn't say for sure when it was that I started listening to them, but I feel like it most have been something involving Yo MTV Raps and the song "My Philosophy."  When I was at the height of my BDP fandom, the album Criminal Minded was somewhat hard to come by.

I had the main BDP full lengths on CD (By Any Means, Ghetto Music, Edutainment) and I also had their live album.  On the live album there were a handful of great songs that weren't on the other full lengths, so I needed to figure out where they came from.  This is pre-internet (or if not completely before the internet existed it was definitely before I had access to anything), so you can only really get info from magazines and other people.  Not having much in the way of like minded friends at this time, I had to get the info where I could.  I knew there was a first album, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

Then, one day randomly I was at a record store with my dad and I was digging around the rap CDs and I found it.  It looked a little shady to be honest, cover art was blurry and it was decidedly kind of budget looking, but I had it in my hands.  Bootleg or not, I was buying it.  It ended up being one of my favorite albums by BDP.  The production sounds old and dated, but in the best possible way.  It's a classic record with classic hip hop sounds.  I love the piano riff on "The Bridge Is Over."  "Poetry" and "South Bronx" are perfectly old school, but forward reaching.  You could tell they were doing something special and innovative for the time.

For me though, the highlight is the title track, "Criminal Minded."  I had only heard the version on the live CD before finally hunting down this album and was shocked that it was so much longer than the live version.  It's just such a great song and the fact that it came out in 1987 is kind crazy.  BPD went on to release several additional records (all of which I will be writing about at some point as I've added the vinyl of each to the collection), but being able to listen to their starting point on nice heavy red vinyl is a treat I sure didn't think I would be able to experience in 1991.

Boogie Down Production - Criminal Minded (Full Album YouTube playlist):

Monday, October 7, 2019

Your Pest Band - Automatic Aspiration 12" - Brown Vinyl


Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles (2018)

I have a lot of Your Pest Band records.  They just keep releasing music and as long as they do, I'll keep buying it.  This one actually slipped through the cracks on me as I am not positive I knew it was released late last year until very recently.  It's also possible that I saw it was out, made a mental note to grab it and then promptly forgot that mental note.  As I get older I find that these sort of things happen.  I should start keeping more actual notes I think.  I'll make a mental note to do that.

The songs on this 12" are all wonderful.  I like Your Pest Band the best when they lean closer to the pop punk side of the musical spectrum.  Sometimes they get a little too psychedelic for my personal taste, but always seem to have a killer hook waiting for me around the corner.  While the six songs on this EP are really diverse, they are all super catchy and fit together like puzzle pieces.  It's just a great listen start to finish.

12" EPs aren't my favorite format on the best of days, I always just think that it would be better to wait until you have a few more songs and then put out a full length.  But when you hand me six songs this good and this cohesive, it's hard to argue that it wasn't the right call.  Though you could probably convince me that adding four more songs just as good wouldn't be a bad idea either...

Your Pest Band -  Automatic Aspiration 12":

Friday, October 4, 2019

Snuff - There's A Lot Of It About LP - Black w/ Splatter Vinyl


Fat Wreck (2019)

Snuff has been one of my favorite bands in the history of the earth for the last several decades.  They've been going since 1986 in one form or another and having a new record from them in 2019 is pretty exciting.  After all, I have a Snuff tattoo and also ran their website for a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s.

In many ways, There's A Lot Of It About is kind of the quintessential post-Demmamussabebonk Snuff album.  Ever since Tweet Tweet My Lovely, there's been things you can count on whenever Snuff puts out a record.  There's always going to be a handful of super catchy, mid tempo pop masterpieces like "Summer's Over," "A Smile Gets A Smile" and "Gyoza." There's a few punchy pop punk blasts like "Kings of the Spanish Oi Scene" and "Bob's Song."  There's a couple of songs with slightly off kilter guitar rhythms like "Dippy Egg" and "Big Shot."  And of course there's always one or two screaming punk hardcore songs.  This time out there's "Kiss My Ring."

There is so much variety in a Snuff album and I always feel like there is a segment of their fanbase that will think each piece is their favorite.  For me, I like a pop song.  Give me something like "Dow Dow Boof Boof" or "Take Me Home" or "Reach" or "Bottom Of The River" and I'm a happy dude.  But I'm positive that there's another section of fan that wants to hear "Who," "Timebomb" and "Fuck Off" even though I'd personally be fine if Snuff dropped that particular song style.  Their ability to appease this wide range of tastes is what's made Snuff so great and so enduring.

There's A Lot Of It About is just as strong as any Snuff record that's come out in the past twenty years.  They are consistent and they are just a great band.  I hope that I keep getting a new Snuff record every few years for the rest of my life.  There's just something so perfect and comfortable about putting their records on the turntable.

Snuff - There's A Lot Of It About:

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Casual - Fear Itself 2xLP


Jive (1994)

Wednesday is Ed Lover Dance Day and this album is the last of the records that were already in my collection that I'm going to write about.  As I start writing about the various golden age hip hop records I've picked up over the last couple of months (finally upgrading the CDs I've had since high school), I wanted to talk about the three most important hip hop albums to me.  I've already written about Del the Funky Homosapien's No Need For Alarm and Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, and now we're going to complete the trifecta with Fear Itself, this debut from Casual.

Like Del and Souls, Casual is part of the Hieroglyphics crew.  Fear Itself came out after their records did and was released at the beginning of 1994.  In some ways, it was the last truly mind blowing rap album I ever heard.  To this day, I haven't heard anything that has been released since then that is as good as this.  Though in fairness, it is my second favorite hip hop album of all time, so it's a pretty high bar to try to reach.

Everything about Fear Itself is perfect.  The album slams from start to finish and not only is there not a weak track in the bunch, there isn't really much of anything sub-phenomenal.  I guess "Interlude" might not stack up as high as everything else, but Casual doesn't even rap on that song, so I don't think that counts.  The beats on this record are some of the most consistently incredible I've ever heard.  Innovative sampling that bridges funk, soul, jazz and boom bap.  Whether it's the bounce of "Me-O-Mi-O," the upbeat piano and bass of Hireo posse cut "Who's It On" or the slow dragging bass of "This Is How We Rip Shit" and album closer "Be Thousand," Casual hits it out of the park every single time.  He even manages to put to tape my favorite ever verse from Del The Funky Homosapien on the all too brief "A Little Something,"

It's just a pretty unbelievable album from start to finish, yet I've always felt that Fear Itself didn't get the accolades it has deserved over the years.  I think a lot of folks have either never heard of or have forgotten about this classic album.  It's not super available on vinyl.  I have the old Jive release and that doesn't even have proper artwork.  There is a UK version that does, but the price and shipping costs have kept it just out of arms reach for me over the years. I wish one of those 'Respect The Classics' type of reissue labels would get their hands on this and give it the lavish reissue it so rightly deserves.  When you are talking about the best hip hop albums of the 1990s, they don't get much better than Fear Itself.

Casual - "A Little Something":

Casual - "This Is How We Rip Shit":

Casual - "Who's It On":

Casual - "Be Thousand":

Monday, September 30, 2019

Bad Banana - Stand Next To Me 7"


Merge (2019)

This 7" was in the most recent Merge records Born Under A Good Sign package.  It also came with an LP that I haven't had a chance to really listen to yet, but you can expect more about that in a couple of weeks.  This is a four song 7" by Bad Banana, a band I wan't familiar with until opening this package from Merge.

A little digging around the internet reveals that the four songs on this 7" were pulled from a 2010 demo tape that Bad Banana put out.  They are a two piece of Allison and Katie Crutchfield.  Those two have been involved in other bands that I've heard of such as PS Eliot and Swearin' among others.

The songs on the record are raw in a way that reminds me of the first Thermals record.  The vocals are totally blown out, but in a good way I think.  While I think these songs are reasonably catchy and have good energy, Bad Banana isn't the hook machine that The Thermals are, and because of how the vocals are recorded, that's who I keep thinking about when listing to this.

I will say this, it's a lot better than some of the other stuff that's come in from this Merge subscription.  I signed up knowing that Superchunk would have something in it, but aside from that, it's been something of a let down.  That said, I haven't listened to the new LP that came with this 7" and it is a band that I like.  And there's one more pack of records due before the end of the year, so we'll see what happens.

Bad Banana - Crushfield Cassette (I can't find the songs individually, but this has the four 7" songs along with the rest of the original tape):

Friday, September 27, 2019

Lync - Remembering The Fireballs (Part 8) LP


K (1997)

Lync is one of those bands that I want everyone in the world to hear, though it seems to me as the years pass, fewer and fewer people are aware of their greatness. Lync was Sam Jayne's first band before he started up Love As Laughter. Remembering The Fireballs (Part 8) is a singles compilations that contains all four of Lync's 7"s, a cassette only compilation track and a handful of unreleased tunes. I've had all of the Lync 7"s on this comp for decades.  They are some of the prizes in my collection and I hold them in such high regard.

I've also had the CD version of this album since it came out in '97.  The LP has been one of those records that just continuously eluded me over the years.  About five years ago I picked up a vinyl copy on the cheap, but once I got it on the turntable, I discovered that it was warped to the point where the first songs on both sides skipped like crazy when played.  Ever since them I've had my eyes peeled for a replacement copy.  Happily, I can report that I finally found one.

Lync was one of those bands that defies easy categorization. They're certainly on the indie rock side of things and are often mentioned in the same breath as bands like Modest Mouse and Built To Spill if someone is talking about them.  But to me, there was something really special about Lync.  I always felt like they pushed the envelope a little further and were content to be a little weirder.  Yes, every one of their songs has a subtle catchiness to it, but they were also noisy and dynamic when they needed to be.

While Modest Mouse and Built To Spill went on to be considered indie rock staples, Lync split up after their only full length, the phenomenal These Are Not Fall Colors.  Singer Sam Jayne moved on to Love As Laughter, a group with revolving members that has been putting out pretty great records for the past several decades.  As great as Love As Laughter is (and they are really great), there's magic in these old Lync songs and they feel like they've been part of my life forever.

Lync - Remembering The Fireballs (Part 8):

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity 2xLP


Traffic (2010, Reissue)

I have written about this record once before on this site, but if I am going to begin a journey writing about influential 90s hip hop records every Wednesday (Ed Lover Dance Day), I cannot do that without mentioning 93 'Til Infinity.  This album, along with Del's No Need For Alarm and Casual's Fear Itself (more on that next week), pretty much make up my holy trinity of hip hop.  Yes all three are Hieroglyphics related, but these three records hit me like nothing ever had previously.  I love them all so very much.

93 'Til Infinity was actually the first of the big three Hiero records to come out.  I remember when I first saw the video for the title track on Yo MTV Raps.  It was laid back and reminded me of the Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By" a little bit.  I don't know for sure that I was aware that they were affiliated with Del The Funky Homosapien when I first heard the song.  No Need For Alarm wasn't out for a few more months and with no internet, the only way I would have known that was if I read it in The Source, which was a distinct possibility.

Once I had bought the full Souls record and No Need For Alarm came out in November of 93, it was pretty clear to me that something special was happening.  93 'Til Infinity is a remarkably consistent record, full of incredible songs with amazing rhymes and killer beats.  I love the way the jazzy samples mix with the bouncing bass lines to provide canvases for all of the Souls' vocal interplay.  These guys riff off of each other so well and it comes off unnervingly laid back and effortless.  I'm sure a ton of work goes into making something sound this tight, but the whole record has the vibe of just being tossed together on a summer afternoon because the guys just didn't have anything else to do that day.

93 'Til Infinity is twenty six years old.  I was sixteen when I heard it for the first time.  Here I am at forty two, and whenever I play this album it still sounds so cutting edge to me.  Maybe part of that is me still being stuck in the 90s, but I think the much bigger part of it is that Souls Of Mischief created a bonafide classic album.  One that will likely outlive all of us.

Souls Of Mischief - "93 'Til Infinity":

Souls Of Mischief - "Limitations":

Souls Of Mischief - "That's When Ya Lost":

Monday, September 23, 2019

Pleather - Wasting Time With Riot 7"


Feral Kid (2019)

This 7" showed up in the mail a couple of weeks ago courtesy of Feral kid records.  It's the debut slab of vinyl from Pleather, hailing from Mississippi.  On the 7" are two really short and economical pop songs.  While neither are anything that I find particularly exciting, I don't think they are bad either.

To me, Pleather sound like a cross between Baby Shakes and that old 90s band The Brentwoods. The guitars have a treble heavy tone to them and there's definitely a throwback vibe in their rock and roll music.  Lyrically, the songs are kind of light on typical rhyming structure.  There are couplets in "Wasting Time" that build off of each other, but the construction of the song is a little out there.  "Riot" doesn't have much rhyming either and appears to be about either a cat or a dog (or is a song with such deep meaning, I'm far too stupid to pick up on the possible hidden metaphor).

Both songs clock in at about a minute and a half, so if you happen to love the songs, they're over pretty quick.  Though the flip side to that would be if you hate them, at least you don't have to listen to them for any sort of extended duration.  I'm in the middle.  These songs are just OK and they don't stick around long enough to make any more of an impression on me than that.

Pleather - "Wasting Time":

Pleather - "Riot":

Friday, September 20, 2019

Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse LP - Clear Blueish-Green Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

Ever since picking up the two song Foxhall Stacks cassingle that was sold at the Jawbox merch table at their most recent tour, I've been chomping at the bit to hear the full length.  It built up some pretty high expectations for me and it could have been difficult for the band to live up to them, because I really loved the two songs on that tape.  I can happily report that the entire album is fantastic and one of the best I have heard all year.

In other excellent news, the two songs from the cassingle are also on this full album, captured on glorious vinyl and not resigned to cassette purgatory.  While I'm not positive I can declare "Turntable Exiles" and "Law Of Averages" are my favorite songs on the record, they are pretty incredible and stand out every time I listen to The Coming Collapse.  What I think may be happening is since I'm more familiar with those two from the tape, when I hear them within the context of the album, they just jump out at me more due to that familiarity.

The entire album is just great, with huge chunky guitars and big, big hooks.  Whether it's the stutter stop guitar riff of "The Old Me" or the Posies-esque pop hooks of "Take Control" or the mid tempo harmonies of "Top Of The Pops,"  Foxhall Stacks hit it out of the park pretty much every single time.  The Coming Collapse is easily one of the best records I have heard all year.  It's one that will absolutely be in the running for the very top spot when I start making my year end list.  This is one worth going out of your way to check out.

Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Del The Funky Homosapien - No Need For Alarm 2xLP


Elektra (1993)

As I start up with Ed Lover Dance Day Wednesdays, I'm going to write about four albums that are not new additions to my collection, but rather cornerstones in my love of early 90s hip hop.  This is the second of the four.

When writing about the first Del album I Wish My Brother George Was Here I mentioned that it was a really important record to me.  While it certainly stands on its own as being great, the real influence is the fact that I liked it enough to buy Del's second album as soon as it came out.  No Need For Alarm was a total turning point for me.  Nothing had ever resonated quite as much before and to this day it remains my favorite hip hop album of all time.

I had some experience with rap that was a little left of center prior to No Need For Alarm.  I was super into Tribe Called Quest and I adored the second Ultramagnetic MCs album Funk Your Head Up, so it's not like everything was strait-laced for me prior to No Need For Alarm.  The early 90s were a time where innovated hip hop was celebrated and accessible.  That window would start to close from the time The Chronic came out until about '94 or '95.  That said, I had never heard anything like the sounds coming out of my speakers when I played this album for the first time.

No Need For Alarm is probably one of the most innovative and uncompromising albums released during the so called Golden Era.  You are not going to find pop hooks or easy listening here.  The samples are jazzy, but can be jarring.  You go from the cello riff on "Catch A Bad One" to the choppy bass of "Wack MCs" to the bouncy low end of "No Need For Alarm" and through the course of these three consecutive songs you have three completely different production dynamics.  But what ties everything together is Del unleashing some of the punishing battle raps committed to tape.  He's got no time for mediocrity in rap and he's not shy to show the world why virtually no one can hold a candle to him.

No Need For Alarm completely changed the way I thought about hip hop and music in general.  It led me to other Hieroglyphics albums (more on those in the next two weeks) and eventually led me to punk rock.  As mainstream hip hop became more homogenized, I still wanted to hear music that made me feel like No Need For Alarm did.  Eventually, I had to go to other genres to find music that impacted me the same way Del The Funky Homosapien did.  This really is one of the ten most important records I've heard in my entire life. It was a game changer for me in 1993 and in 2019 it still sounds as fresh and exciting as ever.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Catch A Bad One":

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Wrongplace":

Del The Funky Homosapien - "No Worries" (This is a live version that's pretty great):

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sad Days Indeed - Foral CD


SP (2018)

Sad Days Indeed were a band from Finland that were together in mid 2000s.  They put out one full length record in 2006 (that I don't have, but really need to hunt down) and split up a couple of years later.  Before they split they started working on a second full length in 2008.  It never saw the light of day until this CD release on SP records.  I wasn't familiar with the band, to be honest, but this CD was recommended to me, so I picked up a copy.  I sure am glad I did as it's a hell of a record, even though I'm not positive if the name of it is Foral or For Al.

When the first track, "...And Justice For Al," starts up, I thought I had this band pegged.  It sounds like other Scandinavian punk rock that I like.  Manifesto Jukebox or Phoenix Foundation.  Loud chords, gruff-ish vocals and a forward moving energy.  It's a sound I like, so I would have been complete fine with a whole album in this vein.  But from track two onward, the band takes a sharp left turn with their sound and the influence I hear most is what I expect to here from the UK in the Mid 90s.

In particular, there's a really strong Hooton 3 Car vibe coming through on songs like "She's My Pez" and "P.S."  Other times on songs like "Regardless" or "Relief" I can hear a touch of Mega City Four or Senseless Things.  No matter where the comparisons go, I always seem to be comparing Sad Days Indeed to another band that I really like a lot.  Foral is a really great album and now I must find a copy of the first Sad Days Indeed record as soon as possible.

Sad Days Indeed - Foral:

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dan Sartain - Walk Among The Cobras (Redux) 7"


One Little Indian (2015)

Dan Sartain is one of my absolute favorites.  I've really loved just about everything he's released over the years, but I tend to dig the first four or five of his albums the most.  Whether it's a rockabilly sound or a Ramones-y punk offering, I can usually get behind whatever he's doing.  Until he put out that electronic album Century Plaza.  I didn't buy that one because I didn't like it.  Felt weird to miss out on a record, but it didn't make sense for me to buy something I would literally never listen to.

I also ended up with a hole in my Dan Sartain 7" collection as the redone, electronic version of "Walk Among The Cobras" was put out as a 7" with the original on the B side.  Again, it didn't make sense to import a 7" and pay the shipping costs for a record I didn't plan on playing much.  I didn't really think about it a whole lot over the past couple of years until I was digging around on Discogs one day and found someone in the US selling the 7" for one dollar.  For a buck and US shipping, I can justify picking this up to keep the 7" collection complete.

I still don't like the new version of "Walk Among The Cobras."  It's slow, it's dark and there's no emotion in the vocal delivery.  I realize that's the point, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.  Just because this sort of thing works as a soundtrack to Stranger Things doesn't mean it works as a Dan Sartain song.  It's especially jarring when you flip the record over and play the original, bursting with energy and hooks.  This is just a weird record.  I hope Dan got this electro-thing out of his system as I'd really like to see a return to the style of music he pretty much perfected on records like Join Dan Sartain.

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras (Redux)":

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras (Original)":