Friday, August 16, 2019

Shoplifters - Secret Free World LP - Clear Ochre Vinyl

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PopKid / Brassneck / Waterslide / Bartolini / White Russian (2017)

Here we are. 2019 and another release for PopKid Records.  2019 is the 25th year that PopKid has been a thing and even though we haven't put out records every year, it's been a really important part of the past twenty five years for us.  Being able to put out this Shoplifters LP certainly feels like the sort of celebratory event that one would want to commemorate their silver anniversary.

Following up on their incredible Forgiver 7", Shoplifters have returned. The boys from Novi Sad, Serbia have turned in eleven songs of the sort of hook filled rock and roll that keeps me up at night singing the songs back in my head.  I think that Shoplifters have managed to string together the sort of melodic vocals that China Drum perfected and have mixed the with energy and pop mastery of Snuff and the bouncing bass lines of Big Drill Car.

It's nearly impossible for me to pick my favorites on this album as I love the entire thing so dearly.  For those looking for a straight forward blast of catchy hooks, I'll direct you to "Eraser," Secret Free World" or "Fortifier."  If you are looking for something a little bouncier and poppier "Overdoser" and "Fortifier" will likely scratch that itch.  If it's something a little more melodic, with perhaps a darker edge to it then look no further than "Between Us" or "Saved By The Bell."  And of course if you are looking for a perfect, anthemic singalong album closer, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one than "Do Better."

I do realize I am biased as I am helping to put this record out into the world, but let me assure you that my love of this record is so genuine.  Even if I had nothing to do with it, this would be my favorite record of the year.  It's hits that perfect sweet spot for me bringing together sounds from the 90s that I know and love and mixing them in with twenty additional years of influences.  I cannot say enough great things about this record.  Shoplifters have hit it out of the park and I can only hope others will like it as much as I do.

Now for the conflict of interest stuff.  This record is available to purchase on vinyl right now.  It would mean the world to me if you would check out the record and pick up a copy if you like it.

Purchase the record from our webstore here: 

Stream all 11 songs and buy the digital version on our Bandcamp page here: 
https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/secret-free-world

PopKid is the lucky label releasing this record in North America.  If you are from another land, there may be a label close by that is co-releasing this great LP with us:

Available in North America from PopKid Records 
Available in the UK from Brassneck Records 
Available in Japan from Waterslide Records
Available in the Netherlands from White Russian Records 
Available in Spain from Bartolini Records 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Great Record Pruning of 2019 - My Records are For Sale!

Untitled 

As anyone who collects things knows, a collection is a living breathing organism that at times needs something other than just adding more to it.  This is one of those times for me.  Every few years I go through and prune out some of the records that I just do't listen to as often.  All of the records in my collection are there for a reason.  There are a ton of good records that I'm going to part with.  There's just only so many hours in the day to listen to things and I can't let records take over the entire house.

So, what this means for you is that you have a chance to pick up records direct from me.  They've been cared for by a person that's pretty obsessive of taking care of his collection.  There are a lot of first pressings and limited edition colored vinyl.  Most of the prices are way less than what I paid for them with the bulk listed between $5 - $12.

Shipping is $5 flat no matter how many records you buy.  Even if one person decides to buy every record here, they get 'em for $5 shipped.

I'm also hopeful that you'll pick up the new Shoplifters record that is being officially released on PopKid tomorrow.  I have them in hand and they are shipping now.  Maybe selling some of my personal collection will make a few people more likely to grab Shoplifters when they can combine the shipping with some other releases.

You can view everything I am pruning here:
https://popkid.limitedrun.com/categories/great-record-pruning-of-2019

And don't forget to pre-order the Shoplifters LP here.  It's officially coming out tomorrow and I'm shipping them now:
https://popkid.limitedrun.com/products/647470-shoplifters-secret-free-world-vinyl-lp

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Guns n' Wankers - The Complete Recordings LP - Orange (/100), White (/100), Blue (/100) and Black (/300) Vinyl

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One Wank/Unless You Try (2019)

In a conflict of interest plug.  I have copies of the white vinyl and blue vinyl version to sell on the PopKid site.  I wasn't able to find anywhere in the US carrying these records, so I worked out something with Unless You Try to distro a handful of them myself.  I do not have many.  As of this posting I have 5 left in total. There's also some other interesting stuff added to the distro, but I'll talk about that more in depth tomorrow.

Guns n' Wankers - The Complete Recordings LP for sale in the PopKid web store:
https://popkid.limitedrun.com/products/649494-guns-n-wankers-the-complete-recordings-lp-white-or-blue-vinyl

In 1994 Guns n' Wankers released their only recordings over the course of four 7"s.  Pop, Hardcore and Metal were joint released by Rugger Bugger, Damaged Goods and Gap.  The fourth 7", Silly, was released as part of the September '94 issue of the zine Feat and Loathing.  Later, most of the songs from Pop, Hardcore and Metal were compiled onto CDs that came out on Rugger Bugger/Damaged Goods/Gap and a Japanese version on Snuffy Smile.  In America the songs from Pop and Hardcore were released on Fat Wreck Chords as For Dancing and Listening.  That's a lot of milage for thirteen songs.

I picked up the CD on Fat first, way back when.  I had just gotten into the band Snuff and was told GNW was an offshoot.  I loved those songs so much and that's when the record collector bug set in.  Over the next year or so I hunted far and wide for all of the other weirdo versions.  The Silly 7" and the Japanese version of the CD were the trickiest to find, but those have both been in my collection for over twenty years.  Funny enough, the only one I don't have anymore is that CD on Fat as I gave it to my brother.

All these years later, Guns n' Wankers started playing shows again.  With that came this reissue of every song they recorded from those '94 era releases.  And in typical Wankers fashion, they gave me some variants to track down.  There are 100 copies on orange vinyl that were only sold by the band at their shows.  There is a blue vinyl version and a white vinyl version both limited to 100 copies and both sold via the label Unless You Try.  300 were put out on black vinyl for general release to stores and distros.  And there are 200 more on yellow vinyl as part of a second pressing.  I don't have one of those just yet, but it's on my to do list.

As far as the actual songs go, the ones from the Pop and Hardcore 7"s are some of my favorite songs of all time.  "Raise Your Glass" is often in the discussion as my actual favorite song ever.  There's something truly special about the way the incredible drumming makes that song pop. These songs have a hint of Snuff to them, but I've always felt they stood on their own as Jools' backing vocals create dynamic that's very much only part of GNW.

The Metal songs are fun, but not ones that I go back and listen to repeatedly.  I love it as part of the three 7" gimmick, but just mixed in with the rest of the songs they tend to stand out.  The two songs from the Silly 7" were certainly the hardest to track down prior to this compilation LP coming out.  Now everyone can hear the jingle for "Gillette" and "For Whom the Bing Bongs," a song made up of catchy guitar riffage and a doorbell.

Guns n' Wankers - "Raise Your Glass":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZqqydweYtA

Guns n' Wankers - "Blah Blah Blah":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8KYC1eYbTo






Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Figgs - Banda Macho LP

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Capitol (1996)

Lo-Fi at Society High and Banda Macho by the Figgs are two albums that used to be permanent fixtures of the used CD bins in the NY and NJ area back in the 90s.  I could never figure out why as I knew quite a few people who were into them and I personally thought both records were pretty outstanding.  I imagine it's because both were on major labels and due to the excesses of the industry there were probably more promo copies than people on the planet.

I've had the CD version of this forever, but had never picked up the vinyl.  I had my eye on it for a while, keeping tabs on Discogs and eBay, but the price always ended up being way more that I had to spare at any given moment.  Then one day The Figgs threw a bunch up on their webstore.  Sealed stock from the 90s that they came across.  I went over to their store and they were all sold out.  The store had one of those 'notify me when this is back in stock' buttons and while I figured it was unlikely they would be back, I hit the button and provided my email address.

Wouldn't you know it, several weeks later I got an email saying Banda Macho was back in stock.  I immediately stopped what I was doing, went to their website and secured a copy.  This record still sounds as fun and exciting to me as it was the day I first heard it.  The way the band mixes pop punk hooks with good old fashion roan and roll sensibilities sets them apart from so many other bands.  For whatever reason, Low-Fi and Banda Macho are the only Figgs records I've ever listened to.  I know they have a ton of other records out there.  One of these days I need to dig in a little deeper.  Any recommendations on where to start?

The Figgs - "Bad Luck Sammie":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOnCEKP1q3s

The Figgs - "FTMU":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awMkBXWV_Xg

Monday, August 12, 2019

Gang Starr - Daily Operation LP

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Chrysalis/Cool Tempo (1992)

It's no secret that in addition to poppy punk rock, I also love golden era 90s hip hop.  I have several key pieces on vinyl, but the vast majority of my hip hop collection is on CDs that I bought when I was in high school.  I'm trying to track down some more on vinyl, but a lot of it is out of print at collector prices.  That's certainly not something I can swing right now, but as luck would have it, I managed to pick up a couple of Gang Starr records at a totally reasonable price.

Daily Operation was the first Gang Starr record I bought when I was younger.  I'm pretty sure that I saw the video for "Take It Personal" on Yo MTV Raps and that let to me grabbing the CD.  It remains one of my all time favorite rap albums.  While it may not hit the highs of Hard To Earn, as a whole record, I think Daily Operation is stronger overall.  At least there aren't any three minute long songs that's nothing but answering machine messages.

There's something magical about the way the Guru's smooth vocal delivery played over the beats that DJ Premier served up.  There's always been a mix of hip hop, jazz and funk samples, but I don't think anyone filtered like Gang Starr to create such a unique sound that could never be replicated by anyone else.  Pretty much every song on here is perfect and I'l glad to finally have the vinyl in my collection.

Gang Starr - "Take It Personal":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69PcbIxF-04

Gang Starr - " Ex Girl To Next Girl"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwSXfocnt48

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Treepeople - Bonus Tracks LP - Clear Vinyl

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Self Released (2018)

Though it has taken me a while to write about this LP, I actually purchased it at the same time as the vinyl reissue of the first Treepeople tape on vinyl, No Mouth Pipetting.  I bought them from a record store in Idaho, though I see now that K records is also stocking it in their distro for a nice price.  My copy of this Bonus Tracks LP was missing the little postcard sized track listing, but the band were nice enough to mail me one when I reached out to them.  Class act.

This LP has ten songs in total, mostly mimicking the listing of the bonus tracks that were available on the original Toxic Shock CD version of Guilt Regret Embarrassment.  "Lazerbeam/Flamegrape" was on that CD and I think that it was only ever out on that CD.  The rest of the nine songs originally were released on various 7" singles the band released in the early 90s.

"Important Things," "Handcuffs" and "In My Head" are from the Treepeople's 1989 single on Silence records.  "Making The D" and "Pretty Girl" (aka "PG") are from the 1990 7" released on Battery.  "Cartoon Brew" is originally from a 7" compilation called Silence Sampler, though it eventually made its way on to the full length Just Kidding.  "Mistake" and "Ballard Bitter" are from a '91 Sonic Bubblegum 7".  "Neils Down" is from a split 7" on Toxic Shock with a band called House Of Larger Sizes.

It's nice to have all of these songs on an easy to play LP.  I love 7"s and collecting them has been a real passion of mine for twenty-five years plus, but there's something to be said about being able to just put this down on the turntable and enjoy, rather than getting up to flip 7"s every few minutes.

Treepeople - "Handcuffs":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvEN6CGIjCw

Treepeople "Mistake":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIcAWZnv2CI

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hateman - Welcome To Neverland CD

Untitled

1000% D.I.Y. (2018)

I was absolutely floored by the Hateman record Radio Hate when I heard it for the first time.  I just loved it.  I've gotten use to the fact that a lot of bands from Japan put out an album and then don't put out a follow up for many years, if they ever do one at all.  The fact that a few short months later Hateman put out another full length album full of songs is pretty crazy, but I couldn't be happier about it.

In comparison to Radio Hate, this album leans more towards the jangly guitar and pop hook side of the punk rock spectrum.  I find myself often being reminded of the band Popcatcher, especially when it comes to the vocals.  I do like Hateman the most when they crank up the fuzz on their guitars and blast out rockers like "Dream Worker" and "My Daughter," but every song on this album is great.

I'm not sure if this is a band that is getting the credit and exposure that they deserve.  In 2018 they put out 2 full length albums that are barn burners.  I hope the band continues this pace because I will buy everything they put out.

Hateman - Welcome to Neverland (Two of the album's twelve songs are streaming):
https://hateman.bandcamp.com/album/welcome-to-the-neverland

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Pavement - Westing (By Musket and Sextant) LP

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Domino (2016, Reissue)

This LP has been missing from my Pavement collection for way too long.  Yes, I have had the Perfect Sound Forever and the other various 7"s that make up the bulk of the songs for a really long time.  And sure, the CD version of this is actually the 2nd Pavement record I ever bought back in 1995 after being thoroughly blown away by Wowee Zowee (At the time I thought surely the indie one before they were even on Matador would be even cooler).  But I never got around to buying this on LP.

Domino rereleased it a couple of years ago.  It's on nice thick 180 gram vinyl and these terribly recorded songs have never sounded more terrible (and by that, I mean they sound great).  The fidelity was never the point of any of these songs.  They were recorded super early in the bands history and a recording budget was pretty much nonexistent at the time.  Still, these songs are some of my favorite all of these years later.

"Box Elder" is a smash hit from the band's very first, self released 7"  "Forklift" is a fuzzy bit of weirdness that really connected with me in high school and has been lodged in my brain ever since.  "Debris Slide" is just perfect with an anthemic chorus that gets me singing along all these years later (even though it still sounds like they're saying "grease fire" and not "debris slide" to me).  Maybe this compilation isn't Pavement's most polished or best outing, but there's something magical in these songs that has kept me coming back over and over again for the past twenty five years.

Pavement - "Box Elder":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_6NEePhHCA

Pavement - "Debris Slide":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwHTMrZptG4

Pavement - "Forklift":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k67p7DN-SWo

Monday, August 5, 2019

Three Minute Movie / Litters - Split 7"

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Fine Tuning (2018)

I'm always happy to see a split 7" released in Japan.  So much of the music I loved was discovered on split 7"s that were put out by Snuffy Smile in the mid 90s.  The format will always have a special place in my heart.

Three Minute Movie are the reason I bought this 7".  I love these guy, but I am still missing two of their full length CDs from my collection.  I really need to fix that.  Both songs on this split are the sort of uptempo rockers that have been their calling card on the other recent 7"s.  They are a band that has evolved a lot over the years.  You could certainly say that their earlier albums leaned towards the emo end of pop punk, but everything I've heard from Three Minute Movie lately have been super catchy rockers.  I seem to like whatever style of punk rock they want to play.

Litters are a band I'm not familiar with and that's always been my favorite thing about split 7"s.  You never know what you are going to get on the other side of the record.  Yes, I bought this because of Three Minute Movie, but the two Litters songs are just great.  Big and catchy with crunchy rock and roll riffage, but pop-punky enough that everything the band does is in service to the hook.  According to Discogs, Litters have two other 7"s.  I think I'm going to have to track those down.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Water Closet - You And Me 7"

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Episode Sounds (2014)

Water Closet is a band that I've known about for ages and ages.  I've had their first 7" for nearly twenty years and I bought their second LP via over the seas mailorder from Rugger Bugger back when I used to stick cash in an envelope and mail it all over the world.  While I've always enjoyed the band, I haven't kept up with them as much as some of the other bands of their era I was interested in.

Water Closet has a bunch of records that I don't have, but this 7" is the one that I decided to pick up while I was in Tokyo.  It has three totally solid pop punk songs with nice hooks and melodic vocals.  The vocal duties are shared so you get some of that really nice male/female dynamic with some particularly strong backing vocals.

My favorite of the three is "As It Is."  It's the most upbeat of the three and definitely has the best vocal melody.  But all of the songs are quite good.  Listening to it makes me want to go break out that Rugger Bugger LP that I probably haven't played in fifteen years.

Water Closet - You and Me 7":
https://episodesounds.bandcamp.com/album/you-and-me-2

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Hidden Spots - New Me / New You LP - Pink Vinyl (/100)

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Dead Broke (2019)

I bought the first Hidden Spots album on Mauled By Tigers back in 2009.  I liked it, but it predates this website by a few years and was even before I started taking pictures of records on my Flickr account.  It was a fun record, but not one that I can say I went back to over and over again as the years went by.  That said, I did like it enough to pick up this posthumous album that apparently has been sitting around for years before finally getting a release from the fine folks at Dead Broke.

New Me/New You is great.  It's better than their 2009 LP and really makes me think of the old Davis, CA band Playground.  There's a gruffness and an obvious Jawbreaker worship going on, but it's not a cover band or a copycat.  It's a band taking the inspiration and using it to create stellar songs. Much how Playground did.  (In all seriousness, you really should check out the unreleased Playground album No Angel.  The band put it up on Bandcamp a few years ago and it's just unbelievably good).

This Hidden Spots record is really worth checking out.  If you're into Off With Their Heads or Iron Chic, these guys will probably fit in your record collection quite nicely.

Hidden Spots - New Me/New You:
https://deadbrokerekerds.bandcamp.com/album/new-me-new-you

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Pointed Sticks ‎- My Japanese Fan 7"

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Sudden Death (2007)

The Pointed Sticks are a band whose name I've been hearing for years, but are also one that I never got around to buying any records by.  I know they are lauded power pop agents from the late 70s and early 80s.  I also know that in more recent times they've gotten back together and put out new music.  This 7" appears to have been the first of those latter day releases.  I picked it up at a record store in Tokyo when I went in 2017, mostly because it looked cool and seemed like an appropriate record to buy at the time.

In general both songs are good, but they don't blow me away.  "My Japanese Fan" is sweet and I can certainly get behind the sentiment of the song.  But it's also kind of simplistic and never really bangs out the huge hook that it seems to be building.  The B side "Found Another Boy is slower and is an OK song, but there's nothing really special or particularly interesting about it.

The paragraph above is one of the main reasons why it's taken me two and a half years to write about this record.  It just isn't all that exciting.  Both songs are good, but that's all they are to my ears.

The Pointed Sticks - "My Japanese Fan":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzIRkHqY0Do

Monday, July 29, 2019

Slow Cooker - Do a Kickflip Cassette

Untitled

Drug Party (2019)

Another tape in the mail.  I get a lot of tapes from the upstate New York area for some reason.  But as I haven't been buying as many records as I usually do lately, I have time/space to write about random tapes and records that have been piling up for a while.  This Slow Cooker cassette is certainly random.

The little note sent with the tapes compared the band to the Dead Kennedys meets the B-52s.  That sure did sound like a terrible combination to me and these guys kind of live up to the billing a bit.  I hate the the vocals.  In fairness, I hate Dead Kennedys vocals as well.  And Sleater-Kinney.  They all have this affected warble that does absolutely nothing for me.

This sounds a lot more professional than a lot of the tapes that I get sent.  It's well recorded and the songs have definitive structures and aren't just chaotic noise.  But Slow Cooker are just not writing songs that I like at all.

Slow Kicker - Do a Kickflip:
https://drugparty.bandcamp.com/album/do-a-kickflip

Thursday, July 25, 2019

J. Robbins - Un-Becoming LP

Untitled

Dischord (2019)

I discovered the world of J. Robbins much later than most other folks my age.  I was very lucky that Jawbox was one of my wife's favorite bands, so that inspired me to give them another listed after I had pretty much written them off in the 90s.  The fact that I ended up liking Jawbox as much as I did led me to digging into other bands like Burning Airlines and Channels. With a body of work as large as Robbins has, it's difficult to talk about his newest release without calling back to prior triumphs.

The good news is that if you have liked J. Robbins other bands, there's essentially no way you won't also love Un-Becoming.  As a whole, I find that it leans to the catchier side of his previous bands.  Song like "Anodyne" and "Abandoned Mansions" seem like they could probably have fit in with Burning Airlines pretty easily.  But, Un-Becoming still has plenty of moments where Robbins takes detours into songs significantly less straight forward,

"Our Own Devices" is built off of a guitar riff that is frankly kind of bizarre, but the rest of the song coalesces around it making it one of the best songs on the album.  "Kintsugi" is a sort-of electronic soundscape that pops up at the end of side one.  While I don't really like it that much as a standalone song, it makes sense within the context of the album and allows for a chance to catch your breath before diving into the second half of the record.

Chances are, if you like Jawbox or Burning Airlines, you probably have this record already if you know that it came out.  But if you're not familiar, this would be a pretty decent starting point to get a well rounded look at the styles of songs J Robbins is a master at creating.

J. Robbins - Un-Becoming:
https://jrobbins.bandcamp.com/album/un-becoming

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Abolitionist - Ugly Feeling LP - Purple Vinyl (/269)

Untitled

1859 Records/No Time Records/Between The Days/Different Kitchen (2019)

I have a lot of Abolitionist records.  They just keep coming and coming and this is the 5th full length album of theirs entering my collection.  Luckily, they are pretty consistent with their records and all of them harness an incredible amount of fire and fury.

If anything, Ugly Feeling might be the harshest of the bunch.  These dudes are pissed and have been getting more and more pissed off as the years go by.  Watching the news for thirty seconds, I can't imagine why that would be.  Things seem so stable and normal...  I think that this album probably has the least amount of obviously catchy songs on it.  They definitely veer towards harshness and less toward the pop hook.

That said, there is definitely a subtle catchiness baked into the album, but it's much more subtle than some of their past records.  Abolitionist is a band that I always thought seemed like would have fit right in on an early 2000s No Idea.  There's an inherent gruffness in everything they do and you can tell they are extremely passionate about the message they are trying to get out into the world.

Abolitionist - Ugly Feeling:
https://1859records.bandcamp.com/album/abolitionist-ugly-feeling-lp

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Wild Animals - The Hoax CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2018)

I really liked the last Wild Animals record Basements: Music To Fight Hypocrisy.  It was a record that caught me by surprise and one I've subsequently spend quite a bit of time with.  They had high expectations to live up to when they released their follow up, The Hoax, but they've met those expectations and then some.

I still think the best comparison to make would be to bands like Silver Scooter, though with much fuzzier guitars and significantly better vocal harmonies. The record starts off with an ode to traveling to Japan, "Lost In Translation," which makes me yearn to go back myself.  From there, The Hoax is off to the races with song after song of catchy indie rock with just enough pop punk influence to keep things moving along nicely.

I really dig this record a lot.  It's every bit as good as their last album and there are moments where it even exceeds it.

Wild Animals - The Hoax:
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-hoax

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Half Hearts - S/T Cassette EP

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

The Half Hearts have an energy about them that I really like.  They are a duo on this EP, just guitar and drums.  While I think bass guitar would flesh things out and make the songs sound fuller, they still have managed to create four really solid pop songs.

The band that comes to mind when listening to The Half Hearts is Title Tracks, in particular the first Title Tracks album In Blank.  It's a combination of the way the vocals are recorded and how crammed full of hooks the songs are.  I love In Blank, so having a band like The Half Hearts leaning in that same direction is something I can totally get behind.

This EP is a really cool introduction to The Half Hearts.  They are definitely onto something.  With a bass player, more songs and some vinyl, they could be a band really worth paying attention to.

The Half Hearts - S/T:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/s-t-ep-sln-157

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Crocodile God - Thirteen LP - Orange Vinyl

Untitled

Brassneck / Crackle (2019)

It's pretty darn exciting that there's a new Crocodile God album.  Even more exciting is the fact that it's the early Crocodile lineup from their run of classic 7" singles on Crackle Records from the 90s.  Another neat thing is to see that Crackle Records logo again, proudly next to the logo of the mighty Brassneck records.  Everything about this album is a reminder of probably my favorite time in music from my favorite scene in the world.

I've been listening to Crocodile God for close to twenty five years at this point.  They, along with Broccoli, Chopper, Hooton 3 Car, Reverse and Skimmer, were part of a crew of mid 90s bands from the UK that managed to release some of my favorite records of all time.  To this day, I'll hold up the Crocodile God song "Ladders" next to anything released that decade.  It's a perfect song. 

Thirteen sees the band in top form once again, cranking out song ofter song of their trademark buzzsaw guitar pop gems.  The vocals of Mark "Guitar" Murphy are probably less gravely than Broccoli on the gravely vocals scale, but still have that sort of gruff, but melodic tone that is part of so many of my favorite bands. I am also steadfast in my quest to make people call him Mark "Guitar" Murphy.  That should be mandatory when talking about the band.

There's a good mix of songs from Croc on this record.  Some blast by at a million miles an hour with super fast drumming, while others have a more subdued pace.  It's in these slightly slower songs where I think the songwriting of Crocodile God really shines. "Drunk" in particular is my favorite song on the entire record.  Even songs with drumming a little more gallop-y than I typically prefer always seem to have a killer breakdown in the chorus.  It's a such a fun listen and reminds me so much of being on vacation in England in 1997 digging around record stores hopping to find that next gem.

Crocodile God - Thirteen:
https://brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/thirteen

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Gauche / Joyero - Split 7"

Untitled

Merge (2019)

This split 7" came along with the acoustic Superchunk album AF as part of the Merge 30th subscription series.  Born Under A Good Sign has been pretty scattershot for me personally.  While I realize I haven't subscribed to a series of Superchunk records, I do wish I liked more of the bands that have had records be part of this subscription.

Gauche is kind of middle of the road, jangly guitar rock.  It's mid tempo and mid good.  I don't really like the vocals much at all, though they are the only thing that really stands out when you listen to the song.  Unfortunately, they don't stand out in a good way.

Joyero is even less up my alley.  "Evacuate" is built off of synth sounding 80s electronic drum beats and strained, reverb drenched vocals.  I don't listen to New Order, but they are who I thought of when this song was playing.  Except this Joyero is even slower and more forgettable.  Hey, at least there was a Superchunk record in this package.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The CSS - What A Coincidence! CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2018)

The CSS is another in a long line of great bands putting out releases on Waterslide records.  There are several albums on Waterslide that use the same sort of artwork layout as the old Mutant Pop 7"s, but almost every one of the bands on Waterslide are better than most of those old Mutant Pop records. (Well, except for Underhand maybe, those are some of my favorite 7"s ever).

The CSS most remind me of The Hum Hums.  Both band have a bubblegum pop lean to them and both have outstanding backing vocals and harmonies.  Where CSS differs for me a bit is that I feel like they have more guitar chord progressions that remind me of older Lookout bands like Squirtgun.  But The CSS are so much better than Squirtgun ever was.

The golden era of pop punk in America was definitely in the 90s, but Japan continues to carry the torch today.  The CSS are just the latest band that I've heard playing the sort of music that I've always loved.  It's wonderful.

The CSS - What A Coincidence!
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/what-a-coincidence

Monday, July 15, 2019

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band / State Drugs - Split Cassette

Untitled

Motorcycle Potluck (2019)

Minus three points for being on cassette.  OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way, lets talk about this split cassette release from Motorcycle Potluck.  It has five songs and two bands.  One band I'm familiar with and the other I haven't heard before.

Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond Band are the band I've heard of before.  I have a split 7" of theirs with Your Pest Band and I'm super familiar with one of Nato's older bands, Modern Machines.  I really liked the Modern Machines and I was reasonably into Nato's next band, Used Kids.  There hasn't been anything that he's released as Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band that has really struck a nerve with me.  It's just a little too rootsy and Springsteen-ish for my personal taste.  It's certainly not bad, but it kind of feels like old people music to me.  Yes, I know I'm old, but there's that 80s rock sound that Bruce champions and I'm not really a fan of it.

State Drugs are more my speed.  Even though you can still hear something of an Americana influence (Tom Petty is the reference that comes to mind), they're playing it faster and more dynamic.  None of the three State Drugs songs sound like they are trapped in the past.  The inspiration is there, but the band is using it as a jumping off point to create their own sounds.  These songs are pretty decent and I would check out more from them in the future.

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band / State Drugs - Split Cassette:
https://motorcyclepotluckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/nato-coles-and-the-blue-diamond-band-state-drugs-split


Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Pretty Flowers - Golden Beat Sessions CD

Untitled

Self Released (2019)

In case you haven't been paying attention, The Pretty Flowers released not only one of the best records of 2018, but one of the best records of the last five years when they put out Why Trains Crash.  If you don't already have that album, stop what you are doing and go buy it immediately.  Once you are back we can discuss their newest release, an eight song CD of covers they've released themselves.

The Golden Beat Sessions has The Pretty Flowers and their take on songs by groups as diverse as The Wipers, Teenage Fanclub, Thin Lizzy and Warren Zevon.  While the source material is pretty diverse, once they are run through the Pretty Flowers filter, they come out the other side feeling like a complete, congruous album.  In fact, you could probably stick just about any one of these songs into the middle of Why Trains Crash and I don't think I'd bat an eyelash at it.  Rather than serve up carbon copies of the originals, Pretty Flowers make these songs their own.

While I'm not a huge fan of EPs at the best of times, when you are doing a project like this of all cover songs, I'm going to have a different opinion than if you served up an EP of original songs.  Now, while I think that something like this is just begging to be released as a 10", I take solace in the fact that there's at least a CD version and I didn't have to buy a cassette.

The Pretty Flowers -  Golden Beat Sessions:
https://theprettyflowers.bandcamp.com/album/golden-beat-sessions

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sista Brytet - Hjärtat i Handen LP

Untitled

Luftslott (2018)

I bought this Sista Brytet LP (and a 7" I wrote about a few weeks ago) because of a review I read in Razorcake.  Razorcake still is my go to source for trying to find new bands that are interesting to me.  I have a type to be sure, and Sista Brytet fits those parameters quite nicely.

All of the songs on this LP bristle with the sort of dynamic energy that makes me think of The Marked Men, but if they were crossed with the Randy album Welfare Problems.  There are singalong choruses and downstroke heavy guitar riffs played by a band that feels like they have a chip on their shoulder and are out to prove just how damn good they really are.

The songs on this LP are primarily sung in Swedish, so I can't really comment on their lyrical prowess.  Ultimately, I don't really care too much about what they're saying when I slap this on the record player.   I'm only concerned with incredible punk rock blasting out of my speakers.

Sista Brytet -  Hjärtat i Handen:
https://sistabrytet.bandcamp.com/album/hj-rtat-i-handen

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Black Dots - Everything Has Gotta Change 12" - Orange Vinyl (/285)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

What's the deal with single sided 12" vinyl?  I don't get it.  Why doesn't everyone wait for a few more songs and put out a full length?  This is likely one of my weird opinions that I'm projecting out into the world.  I like LPs and I like 7"s singles, but the five to eight song EP is something I find kind of frustrating for whatever reason.  It didn't bother me so much when I was younger, making mix tapes to listen to in my station wagon, but these days it's one of those things that irks me for whatever reason.

I really like these Black Dots songs.  I think the fact that they are so good is one of the things that heightens my annoyance of the fact that there's only eight songs on this 12".  Black Dots are playing that gruff, working class punk rock that I always seem to like.  You can hear a little bit of Eternal Cowboy era Against Me along with the lower key moments of Dear Landlord, but I also find Black Dots to be more melodic than either of those bands.  They've got the hooks and a good amount of grit that keeps the songs relatable.  The fact that they have song names that reference Spaceballs and Three Amigos only makes them more lovable.

Everything Has Gotta Change is a fun listen, if only I could flip the record over and hear more.

Black Dots -  Everything Has Gotta Change:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/everything-has-gotta-change

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sprocket Wheel - 1992 - 1997 Best of Shits 2xCD

Untitled

Sweft (2000)

I wrote about a Sprocket Wheel 7" a few weeks ago and mentioned that I had found another interesting release at the same time.  This double CD is the release I was talking about and it's one that I found in a 7" bin while record shopping in Tokyo during my trip a few years ago.  I didn't really know what it was at the time that I bought it (I was buying a lot of records and in some ways not paying total attention to what I was buying), I just knew it was a Sprocket Wheel release I didn't have.

When I got back to the hotel to review my bounty, I realized this was a double CD full of Sprocket Wheel songs and from what I can tell now, it appears to be a complete collection of their entire discography.  It has all of the songs from both of their full lengths.  It has songs from their split 7"s with Goober Patrol and Less Than Jake along with the 7" I wrote about a few weeks ago.  It also contains every compilation song that I am able to find as well as a few demos.  What I'm getting at is that it's very complete.

I have a lot of these songs already, but I'll admit that it is nice to have everything compiled in one place, particularly all of those compilation songs.  Now if I want to sit down and listen to all of the wonderfully fast and melodic punk blasts that these guys released in the 90s, I don't have to tear apart my entire CD rack to accomplish that.  This Sprocket Wheel compilation is similar to a Lovemen compilation that I have..  Now if someone would put one out for Blew, I'll have the trifecta of the three biggest Japanese bands that I listened to when I first started buying records from Japan.

Sprocket Wheel - Five songs from 1992 - 1997 Best of Shits:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVg4QAXTrVw

Monday, July 1, 2019

Summer Vacation


Taking a week off from reviews since it's a short work week as well.  I'll be back on Monday 7/08.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Foxhall Stacks - A Copy of a Copy of a Copy of a Copy Cassette (/200)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

This past weekend my wife and I went to go see Jawbox play in Philadelphia.  If you were reading this website about five years ago, you may remember that I started picking up Jawbox records at that time.  They weren't a band that I listened to in the 90s, for whatever reason I just missed out on them.  They may have been a little too complex for my tastes at the time, but luckily my wife was a big fan going way back, so she helped bring me up to speed.  It was a great show, but the reason I bring it up is that I bought this Foxhalls Stacks tape at the show.

Foxhall Stacks is fronted by Bill Barbot of Jawbox and this tape is the first release by his most recent band.  The tape is limited to two hundred copies and there is a blue paper obi strip unique to each stop of the tour.  Mine is from the Philadelphia show.  Snappy Little Numbers will be selling any leftovers on their site, so if you're not able to see Jawbox on this tour, keep your eyes peeled on their site and you might get lucky.  I couldn't take the risk of not picking one up, though I also need to thank my friend Scott for reminding me that these were for sale the day of the show.

The tape itself is outstanding.  So great that I am kind of annoyed that it's a tape and not a 7". The songs have a similar feel to Jawbox in that the guitars are really strong and crunchy with lots of low end. But the songwriting structure is more straightforward with really catchy hooks and stellar backing vocals.  I've said that Jawbox doesn't get enough credit for how deceptively catchy so many of their songs are, but there's nothing deceptive about Foxhall Stacks.  These songs are flat out hits and I cannot wait for the full length that Snappy Little Numbers mentions on their website. 

Foxhall Stacks - A Copy of a Copy of a Copy of a Copy Cassette
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Modern Gooddays - Wait & See 7"

Untitled

Eager Beaver (2013)

I went about things somewhat backwards.  While this 7" came out many years before the Modern Gooddays CD that I wrote about a few months ago, it's just now that I'm adding it to my collection.  Sitting here now, I'm trying to figure out if I have the Headsparks/Modern Gooddays split CD.  The artwork on Discogs looks so familiar and I like Headsparks too, so I feel like I should have it.  That said, I can't find it on my CD rack or in my pile of records I haven't reviewed yet.  Maybe I don't have it.  I should probably correct that.

Back to the 7" at hand.  This release from Modern Gooddays has four songs on it, one of which "Wait & See," also appears on their CD on Fixing A Hole Records.  All four songs are gruff punk rock that sounds like a mash of Snuff, Dillinger Four and Off With Their Heads.  I've mentioned before that the singer from Modern Gooddays sounds a whole lot like Paddy from D4 and that comparison is apt on this record as well.

I like the songs on this EP just as much as the ones on the Modern Gooddays CD.  It's strong and forceful, but melodic and catchy at the same time.  Especially worth picking up if you're a fan of the Paddy songs from Dillinger Four but you don't feel like waiting another thirteen years for a new D4 record.

Modern Gooddays - Wait & See 7":
https://eagerbeaverrecords.bandcamp.com/album/s-t

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Big Bliss - At Middle Distance LP

Untitled

Exit Stencil (2018)

When I ordered the new Herzog LP, somehow my order got lost at Exit Stencil headquarters.  After a few weeks of wondering where it was, I reached out to the label.  They apologized and immediately sent my record over.  Great customer service, honestly.  They also sent me an extra album, this LP by Big Bliss.  They aren't a band I've ever heard of before and since I didn't seek this out on my own, I wasn't sure what I was in store for.

Turns out, Big Bliss have a shoegazer sort of post punk vibe going on.  Jangly guitars with a tinge of reverb, mixed in with a steady rhythm section that keeps things in check while the guitars do some exploring in the breaks.  They remind me a little bit of The Estranged, but with much less of a Wipers influence.

If there's one thing that keeps me from really sinking my teeth into this record, it's the vocals.  They're a little to echo-y and spacey for my taste.  I'm looking for something a little more direct and forceful.  Big Bliss' vocals sound detached, almost like they are existing on a different plane from the rest of the band.  Or maybe the vocals are in a different decade like the 80s.  I'm just not able to get into it all that much.

Big Bliss - At Middle Distance LP:
https://bigblissesr.bandcamp.com/album/at-middle-distance

Monday, June 24, 2019

Steve Adamyk Band - Kinda Ill 7" - Splatter (/100), Mixed (/100) & Black (/100) Vinyl

Untitled

Rad Girlfriend (2019)

At this point I feel like I don't even have to write anything about Steve Adamyk Band records anymore.  If you can't figure out that I love these guys based on the prior dozen or so times I've written about them dating back to before this website even existed and I was taking pictures of their records on my Flickr account, I don't know what to tell you.  To summarize: This is a great band and all of their records are great.  This 7" of four new songs (and a version of "Take It To The Top" that's a bit faster than the one on the Paradise LP) is great and you should buy it.

The record comes on three different colors of vinyl, each limited to one hundred copies.  The black vinyl and splatter are self explanatory, but there is also a third version that's random colored.  Mine came out green.  I'm not sure what else is floating around out there, but it you have one that's another color, let me know as I'm curious.

Also of note is that Rad Girlfriend has a sale going on right this very second where everything in their shop is half price.  This Steve Adamyk band 7" is only $2.50.  I don't see any reason not to buy it, do you?

Steve Adamyk Band - Kinda Ill 7"
https://radgirlfriendrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ep

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Superchunk - AF LP - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2019)

When Merge announced their Born Under A Good Sign 30th year subscription thingy, I new I had to subscribe to it.  Even though money wasn't as disposable as I would have liked it to be when the subscription went on sale, I knew that if I didn't join and a Superchunk record came out as a part of it, I'd be hugely pissed off.  Luckily I scraped together enough money and I was rewarded with an entire Superchunk LP that's only available as part of the series.

AF stands for Acoustic Foolish and it's a track by track rerecording of Foolish done acoustically.  It's not just the exact same songs played with different guitars.  In many instances the songs reworked from the ground up with new tempos, arrangements and instrumentation. Looking for some strings and horns?  AF has you covered.  Highlights for me are the complete deconstruction of "Water Wings" and the folked up version of my favorite song from the original version of the album "Driveway to Driveway."

I will say, if I was hearing these songs for the first time on this album, I can't imagine I would like them as much as I do being already familiar with their punky origins.  Already having these songs etched in my head helps me appreciate what Superchunk is attempting with this release.  Songs that I love arranged in a way that a listener with a mellower palate might take a crack at.

Superchunk - AF:
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/album/acoustic-foolish

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Potty Mouth - I Wanna 7"

Untitled

Get Better (2019)

To start, I have to say that I don't know for sure that this 7" was released on Get Better records.  There's no label affiliation anywhere on the artwork, but if you look on Discogs, they list this 7" as having come with certain versions of the album SNAFU.  That's not how I got mine, I ordered my copy separately from the band after falling in love with the full length.

I don't like these two songs as much as I like the ones that are on SNAFU.  Those ones struck me as being a little catchier and the guitar seemed more clear and pronounced.  Things are a more raw on this 7" and the guitar sounds a bit muddier to me.  "I Wanna" is the song I like best of the two.  It has a pulsing chorus repeating the phrase "I Wanna" in a way that reminds me of the Pixies.  The song never really finds the gigantic hook that Potty Mouth taps into on so many songs from SNAFU, but "I Wanna" is still pretty solid.

I don't like "The Easy Way" quite as much.  It's slower and more deliberate.  While the tone of the song makes sense when you really listen to the lyrics, I tend to prefer the Potty Mouth songs that are a little crunchier and wrap you up in their huge guitar riffs.  It's not a bad song, I just don't like it as much as some of the others. But, if you really want this, I'd recommend grabbing it sooner than later, their Big Cartel page says it's limited to 50 copies.

Potty Mouth - "I Wanna":
https://pottymouth.bandcamp.com/track/i-wanna

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Yoi / Angry Nerd - Split CD

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2018)

This CD brings together Yoi from UK and Angry Nerd from Japan.  The split release with Japanese and UK punk bands were such a staple of my record buying habits in the 90s.  I discovered so many great bands that way, particularly via Snuffy Smile and the 7"s they released.  I love to see that it can still be something that happens all these years later.

There are guys in Yoi that were in the band Chopper.  That's almost all I need to see to be anxious to get this thing in the CD player and hit play.  Yoi has a mellower vibe than the buzzaw guitar blast of Chopper, but Yoi can craft a hook as strong as anything in the back catalogs of their various members.  "The Ghost Of Bobby McGee" is my favorite of the bunch with a faster paced progression of guitar chords and a hooky vocal melody.

Angry Nerd contribute four songs that sounds like a mixing of the sort of Japanese pop punk that I love, with a gruffer almost Off With Their Heads style of melodic tendency.  All four songs are strong, with my favorite being "Inside of My Fist," which I find to be the poppiest of the group.  While I wouldn't say that Angry Nerd is in the upper echelon of my favorite bands from Japan, they have songs that deserve a listen.  Unfortunately, I can't find anywhere to stream anything from this split.

Yoi - "The Ghost of Bobby McGee":
https://soundcloud.com/yyyoiiii/the-ghost-of-bobby-mcgee

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mutant Love / The Yellnats - Split Cassette

Untitled

Motorcycle Potluck (2019)

I'm not familiar with either of the bands on this tape (aside from an acoustic song from Mutant Love that's on a comp), but I've liked pretty much everything that Motorcycle Potluck has sent my way so far.  While the band names had me concerned that this might be more along the lines of high school neanderthal punk, I'm happy to report that Mototrcycle Potluck's streak is in tact and both bands are worth checking out.

Mutant Love falls on the gruffer side of the pop punk spectrum.  To me, they kind of sound like a mix of some No Idea bands like Dear Landlord or Shallow Cuts, crossed with the hooks and melodic tendencies of a band like Rumspringer.  All three of their songs are fast, energetic and pretty top notch.

The Yellnats don't have that same No Idea vibe in the two songs they contribute to this split, but they've carved out another section of the pop punk world to inhabit.  Both of their songs, but in particular "Small Town," have a vibe to them that I find similar to American Steel.  There's a storyteller feeling that they've got going here and combining that with their guitar racket yields a pair of strong songs.  They do make some interesting choices regarding breakdowns and tempo changes for their outros that I can't say I'm completely on board with, but there's good stuff here.

Mutant Love / The Yellnats - Split:
https://motorcyclepotluckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/mutant-love-the-yellnats-split

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Listen Up 7”

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2018)

“Listen Up” is the second in a pair of Ron Ron Clou 7”s that were released last year and it’s every bit as good, if not better, than the “Emptiness” 7”.

Ron Ron Clou specializes in the sort of jangly Rickenbacker pop music that would fit right into the collection of anyone that has a few Odd Numbers records kicking around.  The A side “Listen Up” is simply wonderful.  It’s fast and catchy and rivals anything that the band put out on their first full length album, which has always been my favorite of theirs.

The B side is “Sending To Your Heart” which is a cover song of a band called Flipper’s Guitars who I’m not familiar with.  This Ron Ron Clou version is excellent.  Lots of vocals harmonies and punchy guitar work.  I searched out the original so I could listen to it for comparison sake and while it is also pretty good, I like this Ron Ron Clou version better.  I might need to look into this Flipper’s Guitar band a little more if their other songs are as fun as this one.

Ron Ron Clou - "Listen Up":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxs3k_5vSVM

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Medium Rarities LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the past few months I've gone through Weird Al's entire catalog of full length albums that were part of his Squeeze Box set.  We've made it to the last LP, which is exclusive to this set, Medium Rarities.  This is a compilation of various unreleased or under-released songs from Al's catalog over the past thirty years or so.  There's some real gems in here for sure.

The songs are arranged in a rough chronological order and unsurprisingly, my favorites tend to be towards the beginning of the record.  There are super early versions of "My Bologna" and "Yoda" that are not as polished as the final versions, but these are slower renditions that are primarily fueled by the accordion.  "Pac Man" is a previously unreleased parody of "Tax Man" and is as strong as anything on Weird Al's debut, my person favorite record of his.

From there we go into some oddities such as an instrumental version of "Dare To Be Stupid" and a version of "Jurassic Park" that's sung in Japanese.  There's a bunch of songs from TV shows that Al contributed to like The Simpsons, 30 Rock and Comedy Bang Bang, though these tend to be pretty short, likely due to the confines of TV. The album closes with an updated version of "Happy Birthday" that's a little bit slower than the original and not as energetic.  It's also seriously lacking accordion.

I really do love this record, but I think I would love it even more if it focused more heavily on Al's early, more formative years.  I'm sure those songs aren't Al's favorites to listen to all of this time later, but they are the ones that I find most intriguing.  After all of this time, the world really needs an officially released version of "It's Still Billy Joel To Me."

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Yoda (Demo)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1OkLbFx9Wk

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pac Man":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlU60vGRVHc

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Midway Still / Filthy Hate - Split 7” (Tour Sleeve) - Blue Vinyl

Untitled 

Break The Connection (2012)

This split 7” is another record I got on my trip to Japan that I hadn’t gotten around to writing about yet.  In case it isn’t obvious yet, I bought a lot of records on that trip. This particular version is a tour version with an additional sleeve, given to me by a very wonderful man who came out to the PopKid/Waterslide show at What’s Up in Tokyo.

Midway Still is a band that I’ve known and loved for many years.  They were part of that initial blast of UK melodic punk rockers that I got into which included Snuff, Broccoli & Leatherface. On this 7” they have an original and a cover of a Filthy Hate song.  “I Don’t Wanna Feel Anymore” Is a wonderful mid tempo rocker that could easily have been culled from Dial Square or any of the other amazing records that Midway Still put out early in their run.  “Various Cultures - Brutal Edit” is a Filthy Hate song and while I can’t say I’m familiar with the original, the Midway Still version is outstanding.  It’s just a joyous pop song, though with lyrics that are a bit darker.  Still it works incredibly well and exceeded my expectations.

Filthy Hate isn’t a band I had heard of before, but the band name made me assume it was a loud, yelly hardcore band.  Guess what, I was right.  Million mile an hour guitar, drums that sound like someone tossed the drum kit down a flight of stairs and people yelling lyrics that are angry and unintelligible.  I’m sure some folks would like this, but it’s certainly  not the sort of thing I typically listen to.  But the 2 Midway Still songs are phenomenal.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Three Minute Movie - Faraway 7”

Untitled

Fine Tuning (2013)

This the second of three 7”s by Three Minute Movie that I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years.  I hadn't gotten to this one yet as I've developed a real backlog of records to write about.  In some ways it's a good thing as I haven’t really had the ability to buy too many new records this year.  My record buying budget keeps going to Japan.

I’ve been listening to Three Minute Movie for twenty years now and even though I haven’t kept as current with their more recent releases as I would like, I’m doing my best to go back and fill the gaps. This three song 7” is something of a companion record to the End Of Summer 7” I wrote about a few weeks ago.  As much as I loved that 7", this one is even stronger,

Opening track “Faraway” is an upbeat and crunchy guitar blast that hits me perfectly.  In some ways it's a perfect encapsulation of what I’m looking for in punk rock.  Yet somehow when we flip over to the B side and hit “Beat Kids On The Street” Three Minute Movie have upped their game even more. This is an incredible song and my favorite I’ve heard from the band since their first split 7” with Braid.  The 7” closes out with “My Beer Strikes Marshall.”  This one has a bit more of a noisy, garage-y feel to it, but still has a wonderfully hooky chorus.  Three Minute movie have another essential 7”on their hands.  I love it.

Three Minute Movie - "Faraway" (This is a live version, not the 7" version):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWipV1aqq7E

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

We are nearing the end of the line here as this is Al's last studio full length.  There is still the rarities compilation that came with this box set that I will write about next week, but as far as full lengths goes, Mandatory Fun is the last stop.  This is actually a record I wrote about on this website when it came out in 2014.  It seems unfathomable that this record came out nearly 4 years ago, but the cruel march of time continues.

My thoughts haven't changed too much since that initial review.  I still think "Word Crimes" is a lot of fun, despite only knowing the original from it being played in Sears. The Al originals are the best of the bunch with "My Own Eyes," "First World Problems" and "Jackson Park Express" being the obvious highlights.  I also still don't know most of the songs from the polka medley.  Still, it's one of Weird Al's stronger modern records and I do enjoy it.

I'm not sure if there will ever be another Weird Al full length.  Mandatory Fun was the last on his prior record contract and he did a bunch of interviews saying the album format is hard for him and being able to release one off singles would keep him more timely.  However, he hasn't done much in the way of those one off releases over the past five years, so I guess we'll have to see.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "My Own Eyes":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PMvU6knXKQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Jackson Park Express":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZvgT4pVC_w

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Spit-take - Falling Star LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Dead Broke (2019)

I have Spit-take's last album Frog Rock.  But what sold my on picking up this new album was a description that included Pavement, Superchunk and That Dog.  You line up three favorites of mine like that and I'm probably going to take notice that you've put out a new album.  While I'm not sure I completely agree with those comparisons, Falling Star is a solid indie rock record.

When I first put this on, I was a little concerned as I think the opening track, "Our Room," is probably the weakest on the album.  The vocal melody is a little out there with bizarre inflections as the song plods forward.  Luckily once we hit the second song "How," things pick up for the most part.  Spit-take is a band that excels when they are playing upbeat songs and keep things closer to the Superchunk descriptor in their bio.  Songs like "How," "At Night" and "Five or Six" are the standouts for me.  At times I'm reminded of bands like The Young Leaves particularly when a guitar solo breaks out.

The slower songs don't really work for me and it usually is because of the vocals.  They often feel like they are being forced out with more energy that the song itself has, leaving the song a bit disjointed.  I wouldn't say anything on the record is bad, but there are skippable moments.  Still, when Spit-take is hitting on all cylinders they are able to churn out some enjoyable indie rock.  Worth a listen if that's your bag.

Spit-take - Falling Star:
https://spit-take.bandcamp.com/album/falling-star

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades - Parallax 10"

Untitled

Debauch Mood (2018)

10"s are starting to become a rarified commodity these days, I think.  You see so few of them, though I think that's mostly due to the fact that it essentially costs the same amount of money to press as a full LP.  I'm not a huge fan of EPs in general, but if you are going to release one, the 10" vinyl is my favorite format.  Debauch Mood takes it up an additional step and included a CD of all of the songs as well.  The best of both worlds.

Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades are from Japan and play a dynamic power pop that leans on the punk side of the spectrum.  I think they have qualities similar to bands like Not Wonk or Hateman, but there's also a strain of that old school Snuffy Smile pop punk weaving its way through the songs.  Blew is the band that I see the most similarity to, but it's not overt.  Just a little bit punky to keep things energetic and exciting.

Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades are a band that I am just getting into, but they have a lot of records that have been released over the past few years.  Theres several singles and two full length albums that I don't have yet.  I'm going to need to rectify that.

The Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades - "One More Minute":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO65TZlPmRY

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Outcasts - Tell Me The Whole Story 2xLP

Untitled

Secret Mission (2019)

I was born in December of 1976, so the while the whole '77 punk thing wasn't technically before my time, from a practical standpoint it absolutely was.  I would have to go back and study up in order to be up to speed on such a historically significant time in music.  Though honestly, that's not something I've ever really done to any sort of extensive degree.  I know a bit of the really obvious stuff, but as far as the bands that stayed underground, I don't really know anything if I'm being truthful.

The Outcasts are not a band I've ever listened to.  Until this record arrived from Secret Mission, I'd never even heard of them.  But I'm learning to trust the folks over at Secret Mission as they have sent me quite a few records over the past year or two that have really impressed me.  You can add The Outcasts to this list.

The Outcasts are very obviously late 70s/early 80s UK punk rock.  They have that sort of sound that you would expect with a high pitched, razor blade guitar attack combined with poppier basslines and vocals.  You can tell they were around at the same time as The Clash and Sex Pistols and while I wouldn't say they really sound too much like either of those bands, there is a commonality between the three that lets you know they are certainly of the same era.

This double LP is full of songs compiling all of the bands singles as well as track by track liner notes with recording history and anecdotes.  The Secret Mission here was to make sure that the Outcasts were not lost to the sands of time.  This is a band that I would have never heard if they didn't rerelease these songs, so at least for me I would say mission accomplished.

The Outcasts - Tell Me The Whole Story:
https://secretmissionrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tell-me-the-whole-story

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Alpocalypse LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled 

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

Alpocalypse came out in 2011.  I was no longer working in the music industry and had actually started putting together the building blocks of this website by taking pictures of records and posting them on Flickr.  I didn't really write anything about Alpocalypse when I posted that picture, but if I had, it probably would have been similar to what I think about it now.  I don't really know any of the song parodies at all.  I'm now aware of the Lady Gaga song, but that's really only because of the brouhaha surrounding the release of this record back in 2011.  Past that, I don't know any of these and I really don't like them.

On the flip side, this record is home to some of my very favorite Al originals.  "CNR" is a wonderfully ridiculous tribute to my favorite Match Game star, Charles Nelson Reilly.  This song is in the style of early 2000s garage bands, primarily The White Stripes.  It's a hoot.  But the real highlight is "Skipper Dan."  This might actually be the Weird Al song that's most similar to a song I would listen to day to day.  To me, it sounds like something Fountains of Wayne would have written for Utopia Parkway, but with better harmonies and a tremendously silly story about someone working on the Disney World Jungle Cruise ride.  It's such a hit song and I love it.

Ultimately it's an uneven Weird AL record, but the highs are high enough to where I still enjoy it immensely.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "CNR":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLnapb-30hA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Skipper Dan":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0cCRRFi1aA

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Hamiltones - The Shape of Walter 7" - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Swimming Faith (2019)

When I opened up the package that contained this Hamiltones 7", I was kind of excited.  Despite the fact that I don't really like reviewing cassettes, The Hamiltones were a discovery I made a few years ago digging through a pile of tapes that got sent to me to write about.  I'm glad to see them with a record on vinyl.

To me, The Hamiltones are something of a cross between The Hex Dispensers and The Ventures.  At their core they are an instrumental surf band, but like the Hex Dispensers, they lean towards a style that seems more at home in a haunted house than it would at a beach party.  With song titles like "Flowers for Wolfman (In Human Form)" and "Dracula Goes To The Gas Station...Alone...Again" you can see the vibe they are going for, but the fact that they are able to convey this vibe without any vocals is impressive.

Equally impressing is the artwork.  My cover is screened on a piece of sandpaper.  That is definitely something I have never seen before and I think it's a really cool idea, provided I'm able to keep the grain away from the vinyl itself.  I'm a fan of this one.

The Hamiltones - The Shape of Walter 7":
https://thehamiltones.bandcamp.com/album/the-shape-of-walter

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bad Year - My Escape 12"



Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

There's a pretty decent chance that if you start a pop punk band and name it after my second favorite Sicko song, I'll probably be into whatever you release.  And that's the case with Bad Year from Denver.  They play pop punk, they like Sicko and apparently G.I. Joe based on the cover artwork.  There's a lot to like here.

The one thing that I don't like is that this is a one sided 12".  Come on guys, record five more songs and put out a full length.  EPs always end up getting buried in my collection and as nice as the screen print on the B side is, I would happily replace it with some more songs.  The good news is that all seven songs that are on the A side are a ton of fun.  While there is surely a Sicko influence present, I wouldn't say that any of these songs really sound that much like Sicko (aside from the slightly hidden cover of the actual Sicko song "Bad Year" snuck in as a sort-of unlisted track at the end).  ''

The 90s vibe is unmistakeable, but I kind of feel like Bad Year has more in common with the poppier side of the spectrum that you'd expect to hear on No Idea.  I think it's mainly the vocals that brings this to mind as they have the sort of gruffness you'd come to expect from bands that are probably much angrier than Bad Year seem to be.  These songs are catchy and upbeat, with choruses that beg you to sing along.  I really dig this EP and it leaves me wanting to hear more.  If only there was somewhere on this 12" that they good have fit some more songs.  Maybe next time...

Bad Year - My Escape 12":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/my-escape

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynnwood LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

Straight Outta Lynnwood has the song "White And Nerdy" on it.  I know this was a big deal for Weird Al and I feel like when this record came out is when I started to hear the rest of the world start referring to Al with the sort of reverence that I'd held him in since I was a kid.  I guess after cranking out hits in three decades he finally started getting the credit he deserved.  It may have also just been because of the internet and 'nerd' culture being much more prominent that it had been in the past.  Who knows, I'm just glad people finally started viewing Al as the national treasure he is.

With that stated, I don't really like "White And Nerdy."  I don't know the original and while the lyrics are extremely clever and the rapid-fire delivery is quite impressive, the song itself is not my thing at all.  The Beach Boys inspired "Pancreas" is probably my favorite song on here as Al flawlessly recreates a Pet Sounds vibe while singing about pancreatic juices.  That, my friends, is true talent.

The rest of the album has ups and downs until it hits on the other real highlight, "Trapped In The Drive Thru."  I know that this is a parody of "Trapped in the Closet" by R. Kelly (though I did just have to use Google to see who sung that song) and I actually even heard the original as my wife showed me a long video for it once.  The Weird Al version is just perfect. It's nearly eleven minutes long and is insane in the way it documents every single tedious detail of going to get some dinner.  Hard to do it justice in a couple of sentences, you should have a listen.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pancreas":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqDBB0no6dQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Trapped in the Drive Thru":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHnTocdD7sk

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Emptiness 7"

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2018)

When I went to Japan a couple of years ago (I know, I know, I start way too many reviews like this, but I still have records that I haven't written about from that trip and newer things I buy also have tie ins) the records I had at the top of my shopping list were the three Ron Ron Clou LPs.  I only found one while I was there, but I did track down the other two on Discogs.  I still have some 7"s that I need to hunt down from them, but I certainly didn't expect new records to be added to the want list.  Then, out of nowhere, I was told that Ron Ron Clou put out two new 7"s.  In 2018.  I love that the 90s keep coming back.

The first of these 7"s is Emptiness.  The A side is the the title track and it is a perfect slice of vintage Ron Ron Clou.  The jangly Rickenbackers fuel the Odd Numbers-esque mod pop sound that just drives me wild.  It's an incredibly catchy and well written song, as strong as anything the band has ever released.  On the B side is a Primal Scream cover called "Ivy Ivy Ivy."  I am not familiar with the original, but the Ron Ron Clou version has a more garage-y feel to it than the A side.  It's a fun listen, but I guess I just think that Ron Ron Clou writes better songs than Primal Scream does.

I did also get the second new 7" Ron Ron Clou released alongside of this one.  I'll write about that in the upcoming weeks.  I'm not exactly sure what sparked these guys to record some new songs and release some new records, but I really hope they stick with it.  There's few things that would make me as happy as a new Ron Ron Clou full length in 2019 (or 2020, no pressure).