Monday, February 17, 2020

The Suitesixteen - Mine Would Be The Sun - 2xLP


Self Released (2020)

The Suitesixteen is a project that Rob Nesbitt has been working on for quite some time.  You may know Rob from his work in Bum, one of my all time favorite bands.  They have a little slice of perfection called Wanna Smash Sensation and I highly recommend you check that album out if you haven't heard it before.

I have heard Rob talking about this record for years in interviews and social media posts.  You can feel the passion he has for it and see the work he has poured into it.  Mine Would Be The Sun is very much his magnum opus.  To be honest, I was worried about how the album would actually turn out.  The way that Rob has spoke of it over the years, you could tell it was super important to him and he was in deep.

My concern was that it would lose the energy and fun that made Bum such an enjoyable listen.  Often when an artist really dives into a project like this they can very easily fall into traps of self indulgence and over thinking things.  I was worried this might turn into another example of someone with an upbeat band take things in completely the opposite direction and write a bunch of sad sack songs.  How many times have you seen a solo record turn out shit because the artist was trying to make it more important than what they did with their band?

I can happily report that Rob avoided all of these pitfalls and has released an absolute classic of an album.  It retains all of the spark that made Bum work, but still manages to further his songwriting and storytelling abilities.  This is a record about the sort of love, heartache and loss that you experience when you are young.  Those emotions hit so much differently when you are in your teens or early twenties and you find yourself feeling, saying and doing things that sometimes don't make sense when you look back through more experienced eyes.

Rob has documented those triumphs and follies throughout the course of this album's sixteen songs.  In some ways it may be the most perfect embodiment of youthful longing that I've ever heard.  It resonates with feelings I had when I was nineteen that I look back on wondering what I was doing.  But at the same time, they're experiences I wouldn't change as they were part of the journey that got me to the present day.

The best part about this album is while Rob is telling these stories, the music rules.  This isn't an album full of somber, melancholy songs.  These are songs that sound like they could be on a Bum record in 2020.  The vast majority are uptempo with the sort of driving rhythm section and punky chord progressions that were so prevalent in the 90s.  At the same time, there's more of a power pop vibe than Bum typically presented.  The vocal harmonies are Electric Light Orchestra level glorious and bring the hooks and choruses to new heights.

Plus there is the simply insane artwork.  Triple gatefold.  52 page booklet.  Double LP.  Lyrics.  The whole shebang.  It's one of the most insane packaging set ups you'll find.  Though I will say, I wish the band name and album title were on the spine as I think it's the thickest non boxset spine I've ever seen in my life.  That minor issue aside, this is such an amazing package for an amazing album.  It's set the bar extremely high for 2020 and I'm unsure how another record is going to beat it for album of the year.

The Suitesixteen - Mine Would Be The Sun:

Friday, February 14, 2020

Gino And The Goons - Off The Rails LP


Big Neck (2019)

Whenever I see a band name that is _____ and the _____, I usually assume there's going to be some garage rock going on.  Gino And The Goods doesn't disappoint my judging of this book by its cover.  We've got ten tracks of stomping, outcast written rock and roll from these folks from Tampa.

For me personally, if you're a band dipping a toe into the garage sound pool, I like it best when you've still got the other foot firmly planted in power pop or pop punk.  My brain needs those hooks.  Gino And The Goons are ankle deep in a garage swamp, though they do cast a spare glance to some pop hooks every so often.  It kind of reminds me of a looser version of some of the songs on the first Sultans record.  Off The Rails has some similar style riffs, but everything is played with a bit more recklessness and some Marked Men-esque vocal fuzz.

I actually like this more than I thought I would the first time I listened to it.  There's the sort of energy that I like, there's enough catchy choruses to keep me engaged and they never take the slop too far and actually go off the rails.  It's a fun listen when you're looking for something brash and in your face, though it's not the sort of album that I would probably go to super frequently.

Gino And The Goons - Off The Rails:

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Cypress Hill - S/T LP - Red Vinyl


Get On Down / Sony /Ruffhouse / Columbia ‎(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.

The first dozen or so times I heard the song "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung when I was a kid, I absolutely hated it.  I would cringe when it came on and wanted nothing to do with it.  For whatever reason, that song was omnipresent in 1986 and I just couldn't avoid it.  But a funny thing happened, I started to enjoy it.  I'm not exactly sure how it happened or why I had a change of heart, but I asked my dad to buy me the 7" of it.  I played it to death.  To this day it's my favorite song of the genre of music people are talking about when they say 80s music.

How does Wang Chung play into a Cypress Hill review?  For me, Cypress Hill was a very similar thing.  The first song I heard from their self titled debut was "The Phuncky Feel One" and I saw the video for it quite a bit on Yo MTV Raps.  I really did not like that song and was pretty annoyed that Yo was wasting their very valuable time with this video.  Eventually it went away, but soon after that the video for "How I Could Just Kill A Man" showed up.  Much to my surprise, I was taken in by that song.  While B Real's nasally vocal delivery annoyed me in "The Phuncky Feel One," here it was a real positive and meshed wwell with the more upbeat production.

I ended up buying the album and just played it so, so many times.  It became one of my absolute favorites and to this day I still get a fuzzy nostalgic feeling when I listen to it. I never really liked any of the other Cypress Hill albums as much as this one.  Black Sunday had some good songs on it, but "Insane In The Membrane" kind of got played into the ground back then.  But, this first album is a little slab of perfection and was a key album to pick up as I replace my hip hop CDs with vinyl.

Cypress Hill - S/T (YouTube Playlist):

Monday, February 10, 2020

Doo Rag - Barber Shop Cassette


Self Released (1995)

Doo Rag is one of those bands that I have just loved ever since the moment I first heard them.  The two times I saw them live rank as some of the more memorable shows I have ever seen and I adore  their records, particularly their second album, What We Do.  I've been on the lookout for this cassette for quite some time.  It was self released and sold at shows in 1995, the year before their second full length album was released.

Of the six songs on this tape, five of them would end up on What We Do, but on this cassette every one of them is a different version than the one that would end up on the full length.  We get early takes on some of my favorites like "Kick Walkin," "Mop Down" and "Rectifier."  There's also one song that is only available on this tape, "Barn Pornstar."  That one is more midtempo with a vibe somewhat similar to their song "Crooked," but not as blown out and wild sounding.  "Barn Pornstar" is strong and I'm not sure why it never ended up on anything else.

While Bob Log III has definitely put out some fun releases over the years since Doo Rag disbanded, I've always thought that there was a special magic when he was still playing with Thermos Malling in Doo Rag.  That's the 90s reunion that I want to see.  Someone make it happen.

Doo Rag - Barbershop:

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Wannadies - Yeah LP - Pink Vinyl


Music On Vinyl (2019, Reissue)

I've recently written about the Wannadies albums Be A Girl and Bagsy Me.  I had picked up reissues of each, even though I already had the original pressings of both.  The reason I ended up buying them was actually because I was also purchasing this Wannadies album Yeah.  This is one that I didn't have on vinyl in any capacity and it was a glaring hole in the collection.  I was even fortunate enough to get the limited pink vinyl version.

While I do like pretty much every Wannadies album, I consider Yeah to be the last of the big three releases of theirs.  It's not as good as Be A Girl or Bagsy Me, I think in party because it's a bit more adventurous than the band typically was.  More risks are taken and there's a lot of extra 'stuff' in many of the songs.  But even with the extracurricular electronic noises, you can't change the fact that few bands on this planet could write hooks as catchy as The Wannadies.

The songs I like the best on Yeah tend to be the most straightforward.  "No Holiday," "Idiot Boy," "Ball" and "Big Fan" stand up to anything in the bands catalog.  In particular, "Big Fan" has one of my favorite choruses that The Wannadies ever put to tape.  While Yeah isn't quite as consistently great as some of the band's other records, the highs are really high and it's always a fun listen.  The band's last album, Before & After, wasn't part of this reissue campaign, but that's OK as I already have the vinyl version of that.  I would be interested in someone reissuing the first two Wannadies albums.  While I don't ever listen to either of them as much as the others, for completist purposes, I'd like to be able to add both to the rest of the collection.

The Wannadies - "Big Fan":

The Wannadies - "Idiot Boy"

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Eric B & Rakim - Don't Sweat The Technique 2xLP


UMG/Geffen (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.

Eric B & Rakim are one of those revered hip hop artists from the early 90s.  I remember from reading The Source at the time that Rakim was always lauded as one of the top 2 or 3 MCs on the planet back in those days.  My first exposure to them was the title track from the Juice soundtrack "Juice (Know The Ledge)."  After buying said soundtrack I was primed and ready for the song "Don't Sweat The Technique" to be released as a single.  That's the one that prompted me to buy the full album on CD in 1992.

While maybe a slightly unpopular opinion, it has always been my favorite Eric B & Rakim release.  Others sing the praises of Paid In Full and how ahead of the curve it was and others will die on the hill of saying Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em is the best.  But for me, Don't Sweat The Technique is where the beats and production finally caught up to Rakim's lyrics.

Sure the record isn't perfect and in fact starts off with my least favorite song "What's On Your Mind."  It's kind of a slow, sappy track that doesn't showcase Rakim or the group's production chops all that well.  It sounds like a grab at some sort of crossover that never panned out.  But once you get past that, the album is hit after hit.  "Pass The Hand Grenade" and "Casualties of War" are a one-two shot of fierce beats and imagery and are some of the real standouts.  But just as strong are "The Punisher" and "Kick Along."

Though, to this day, my very favorites are "Know The Ledge" and the title track "Don't Sweat The Technique."  All these years later it's striking how perfect these two songs are.  It's kind of funny how they are buried at the back end of the album and it makes me wonder if the fact they had both been out before the album itself led to their placement.  Sequencing aside, this is such a great album.  Eventually I will likely need to add some of the other Eric B & Rakim albums to the vinyl collection, but it was important to me to make sure I added this one first.  It will always be my favorite of theirs.

Eric B & Rakim - Don't Sweat The Technique (Full album playlist):

Monday, February 3, 2020

Hot Snakes - Checkmate 7" - Blue Vinyl


P U (2019)

Oh those Joh Reis bands.  Always putting out records to sell at shows that are difficulty to acquire.  While I am all about a tour only release, it always seems to feel like it is in conjunction with a tour that's not stopping by me.  That just might be me complaining, but I've bought far fewer myself than those that had to be bought for me. 

This 7" was released as part of a UK tour and I was lucky that a friend of mine was willing to pick up a copy.  However, once they got home, Hot Snakes actually sold a handful of these on their website.  That's the first time one of these tour releases was made available online.  I hope that's a trend that continues, or that they make these exclusive releases more available for the East Coast tours.

The two songs on the 7" show once again why Hot Snakes are one of the best bands on the planet.  "Checkmate" is a middle tempo track that reminds me a little bit of "Hair and DNA" as far as the way that the chorus hits.  The verse is a bit more dynamic in the way that the guitars interplay.  "Not In Time" is built off of straight ahead guitar downstroke riffige, maybe a little similar to a song like "Why Does It Hurt?"  Both songs are stellar, just like pretty much everything else in the Hot Snakes catalog.

It makes me wonder if this is leading up towards another album.  Jericho Sirens came out in 2018, so 2020 sounds like a good year for the next record.  I am hopeful that I'll get a new Rocket From The Crypt record at some point, but I'm certainly not going to complain if we get another Hot Snakes release this year.

Hot Snakes - "Checkmate":

Friday, January 31, 2020

Supersuckers - La Mano Cornuda LP


Sub Pop (1994)

Supersuckers are one of those early rock and roll bands that caught my attention in the 90s as I was figuring out the sort of things that I liked most.  They tended to go hand in hand with Rocket From The Crypt in those early days and it was my high school friend Joe that first picked up one of their albums.  Even though the Supersuckers have released about ten thousand records at this point, the only ones that I really like are the first three.  This is likely because they have some strong nostalgia built into them, but also because I think that is when they were at their peak as far as writing songs that appealed to my taste.

I have always thought that La Mano Cornuda was the best Supersuckers album and it starts off with "Creepy Jackalope Eye," my favorite song of theirs.  The building guitar riff and the punchy chorus are a perfect combination and it's a song I always drum along to on the steering wheel of my car when played.  The entire album is pretty strong, with the Supersuckers laying down their version of rock and roll that pulls from garage and punk elements without veering too far from straight up rock.

With all of that said, I don't know if I would like any of their albums if I heard them for the first time today.  They were all something of a time and place sort of thing and my affection for them is very much tied to hearing them for the first time over twenty-five years ago.  Regardless of when, how or why I like them, I so still think their first three albums are a lot of fun.  They've been hard to add to the collection at a reasonable price on vinyl.  I've got the most important one locked in, now I need to get my hands on the other two.

Supersuckers - "Creepy Jackalope Eye":

Supersuckers - "On The Couch":

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Jeru The Damaja - The Sun Rises In The East 2xLP


FFRR / Payday (2009, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for 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.

The Sun Rises In The East is one of those 1994 hip hop albums that came out as I was starting to lose interest in hip hop as a whole.  The lure of Beck and other new-to-me rock and rollers had the lion's share of my attention by the time that year had come to a close.  But albums like Fear Itself by Casual and Jeru The Damaja's debut definitely caught my ear.

I know that "Come Clean" was released as the first single, but I don't remember hearing that at the time.  "D. Original" was the first song that I heard and it totally captivated me with its beat based on a loop of what sounded like a piano falling over.  The entire album is full of beats like that.  Dark. Perhaps deceptively simple, but DJ Premier lays down an incredible foundation for Jeru to unleash his gritty, unapologetic flow.

I didn't really give this album as much attention as it probably warranted in 1994.  As mentioned before, that was a big transitional year for my taste in music.  As far as hip hop went, I was neck deep in Hieroglyphics albums.  Not to mention Gang Starr's Hard To Earn also came out that year so I had a pretty damn strong album from the DJ Premier side of things as well.  As the years have gone by, I've revisited my Jeru CD quite a bit and have much more of an appreciation for how strong it is.  Adding the vinyl to the collection was a no brainer.

Jeru The Damaja - The Sun Rises In The East (Full Album Playlist):

Monday, January 27, 2020

Cheap Perfume - Burn It Down LP - Blue Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

I wasn't familiar with Cheap Perfume prior to getting this record in the mail from Snappy Little Numbers.  As a label they've got a hell of a track record, so I'm always excited to check out one of their new releases.  When it comes to Cheap Perfume, it's a bit of a mixed bag for me.  There are elements I enjoy and parts that I'm not as into.

Lyrically, I can say that this is a band that puts a ton of thought and emphasis on the message they are conveying.  They deal with sexism, racism, violence, fascism and a myriad of other topics that many bands would shy away from.  They tackle these matters with ferocity and vigor.  The lyrical structures are done extremely well, nothing feels shoehorned in just to make the rhyme scheme work.  There's a narrative to their songs that are really impressive.

Musically, this isn't a band that's really my cup of tea for the bulk of the record.  There's kind of a Pretty Girls Make Graves energy to the songs, though most of them don't have the same sort of hooks.  The big exception for me is "Fauxminism."  This is by far the catchiest song on the record and the vocal melody has the sort of memorable melody that my brain tends to gravitate towards.

A lot of the other songs are more aggressive and sometimes it feels like the dual vocals are fighting rather than complimenting each other.  For the style the band is playing, they do a hell of a job.  It's just not the sort of thing I tend to listen to as much.

Cheap Perfume - Burn It Down:

Friday, January 24, 2020

Singing Lungs - Mutter Cassette


Count Your Lucky Stars (2019)

Whenever I get a cassette, it usually breaks down into one of three situations.  The first is that I already know and like the band, so I had no choice but to buy the cassette since there was no CD or vinyl release.  The second one is that one of those tape labels from Buffalo sent me another weirdo tape from some local band that has way too much yelling in it.  The final scenario is what I've experienced with Singing Lungs.  It showed up in the mail one day, isn't from upstate New York and actually has pretty solid artwork.  I was definitely more intrigued than usual.

That intrigue paid off with a pretty solid listen.  Singing Lungs are playing a relatively poppy strain of punk rock with crunchy Armchair Martian style guitars and earnest vocals that venture into a rootsy territory from time to time.  While I wouldn't classify them as the sort of band that's going to instantly catapult into your favorites list, all five songs are genuinely good and worth a listen.

The band also sent a full CD that I haven't listened to yet.  I figured I'd tackle the tape first at is was newer.  But this EP has left a good impression and I'm excited to check out some more tunes by these guys.

Singing Lungs - Mutter:

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Grand Puba – Reel To Reel 2xLP


Elektra (1992)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for 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.

As I had mentioned when I wrote about the first Brand Nubian album One For All, I don’t remember exactly when I discovered them. I’m pretty sure the first song I heard was the title track from that debut album, but in thinking about things a bit more, it’s actually possible that the first thing I ever heard was the Grand Puba solo debut. I am positive that I was aware that Grand Puba came from Brand Nubian when I first saw the video for "360° (What Goes Around)." I also remember how much I loved that damn song.

"360° (What Goes Around)" immediately made me hunt down the Grand Puba CD and it quickly became a favorite. A lot of the hip hop records from the early 90s are over long with a decent amount of filler. I always thought the records that had shorter track listings always seemed to be better. At fourteen tracks (fifteen on the CD as it also included an extra track featuring Puba’s contribution to the Brand New Heavies album) Reel to Reel is long enough to let Puba spread his wings and tackle a bunch of beats, but it also is short enough where the album isn’t full of unnecessary skits and filler tracks. Aside from a couple of slower beats used on tracks towards the end of the record, it's pretty strong throughout.

Production wise, I love this almost as much as the first Brand Nubian record. The beat are simple, but full sounding with innovative sampling and a vibe that just feels like a party. Lyrically, Puba didn’t often delve deep into complex topics, he tends to come off like he’s freestyling with words that sound really nice together but aren’t delivering a super specific narrative. That said, few match his easy flow and line delivery. I’ve never been someone quite so concerned with the actual lyrics as much as how they sound within the song. Grand Puba kind of mastered that, economical lyrics and beats that somehow come together to equal far more than the sum of their separate parts.

Grand Puba - "360° (What Goes Around)":

Grand Puba - "That's How We Move It":

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sweet Knives - I Don't Wanna Die 2x7"


Big Neck (2019)

I wrote about a Sweet Knives LP a few years ago that I thought was pretty good.  I'll admit to not having listened to it a ton during the interim, but it makes an appearance on a work playlist every so often.  This new double 7" is the first bit of new music from them since that full length and I like it even more than that last record.

These songs feel much poppier to me than the last.  Where before they had a darker vibe, with flourishes of synth, now they've turned those forces towards a catchiness not previously explored.  There is still a lot of downstroking and fuzzy guitar tones, but the synth has been moved to more of a supporting role.  As I'm not a huge fan of synth on the best of days, this is a positive transition for me.  The synthy riffs are still there, but now they are working more in tandem with the vocal melodies.

All four songs are pretty great.  If the band continues to move in this direction, I'll be quite excited to see what they come up with next.

Sweet Knives - I Don't Wanna Die 2x7"

Monday, January 13, 2020

Holy Shit! - Not My Tempo 7"


Snuffy Smiles / Vinyl Smash (2019)

Going into this, I already know that I don't really like Holy Shit.  I have a handful of their split 7"s on Snuffy Smiles and pretty much the only reason I bought this one is because it's a co-release between Vinyl Smash and Snuffy Smiles.  To keep the Snuffy Smiles 7" collection complete, it's a necessary purchase.

Holy Shit play really fast and the singer yells a lot.  It sounds like an older hardcore record, but one that might have been a Berkeley based sound.  There's a little bit of catchiness to their songs and I can tolerate them more than a lot of hardcore bands, but this just isn't for me.  This is a 7" that is truly not my tempo.

I will say that the last couple of years from Snuffy Smiles have been underwhelming.  They haven't put out many records and the ones they have aren't as focused on Japanese bands as I would like.  Still, I have quite a history collecting records from this label, so I'm likely to keep buying them year after year, no matter what band is actually on the record.

Holy Shit! - Not My Tempo 7":

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Wannadies - Bagsy Me LP - Turquoise Vinyl


Music On Vinyl (2019, Reissue)

Music On Vinyl has been reissuing some pretty classic albums from the 90s lately.  In 2019 they did the three best Wannadies albums on colored vinyl.  While I didn't get the colored version of Be A Girl, I was able to get Bagsy Me on turquoise vinyl.

I go back and forth on which of the Wannadies records is my favorite.  Be A Girl has a number of incredible songs, some of my favorites like "Might Be Stars" and "New World Record."  Bagsy Me more than keeps up with hits like "Because," "Someone Somewhere" and "Shorty."  Honestly, they are both pretty perfect and even though I had the original pressings of both, I like these both enough to have reissued 180 gram vinyl versions.

And this version sounds wonderful.  Everything sounds full and clear as day.  The guitars are warm and fuzzy and the vocals cut through the noise with catchy melodies.  I'll never totally understand how they didn't catch on more in America.  Other than "You and Me Song" being on that movie soundtrack and having some notoriety, you never hear of many people extolling the virtues of the Wannadies.  Well, that should stop.  They are an amazing band and I'd put their three album stretch of Be A Girl to Bagsy Me to Yeah up against just about any band's three albums.  They're that great.

Maybe we'll get a 90s nostalgia reunion one of these days.  Though I doubt they'd come to America, I would absolutely be front row for that if it ever happened.

The Wannadies - "Because" (The very beginning is cut off of this on YouTube):

The Wannadies - "Shorty":

The Wannadies - "Hit"

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Casual - Meanwhile... LP


Dope Folks (2016, 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.

Fear Itself by Casual is one of the greatest hip hop records of all time.  Gun to my head and forced to rank my favorites, I'd probably put it at number two on my all time list.  I've listened to that album so many times over the years and it was a real staple of my junior/senior year of high school in 1994.  I didn't hear from Casual again until I was in college.  In 1997 the Hieroglyphics crew had all been dropped from their respective labels and regrouped on the internet to start self releasing their music.  I bought two cassettes from their website; Del The Funky Homosapien's Future Development and Casual's Meanwhile...

Honestly, both felt like a little bit of a let down at the time.  I had moved on from most hip hop by 1997 and even though I was really excited to finally have new music by two of my favorites, it was pretty obvious to me that hip hop's golden era was over.  Over the years I've come to appreciate these records more than I originally did.  Even though Meanwhile doesn't hit the same highs as Fear Itself, it is still a really strong record showcasing Casual's pretty unmatched battle rap prowess.

In 2016 Dope Folks freed this album from tape only purgatory and finally remastered and rereleased it on vinyl.  I was unaware that this had happened at the time and as a result missed out on the red vinyl version.  Still, I'm happy to finally have this album on vinyl and the remastering really helps out the production as it previously had sounded a little thin to me.  The bass is now fuller and the vocals a little crisper than they had been on the original version.

I hadn't listened to this album in a while before picking up this vinyl version.  I'm really glad it was reissued as I'm listening to it again with a bit more context and more of an open mind than I had in '97.  It's a good record, probably the third best one Casual put out (I also really love an early 2000's record of his called Truck Driver).  I'd still like to add the red vinyl version to the collection if I can find one at a decent price, so we'll see if one turns up.

Casual - Meanwhile:

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Best of Godzilla 1954-1975 - Original Film Soundtracks 2xLP


Crescendo (2019)

I love Godzilla movies.  I have since I was a little kid watching them on Saturday and Sunday afternoons on either channel 5, 9 or 11.  Back in the 80s, it was pretty easy to stumble across a Godzilla movie on a weekend afternoon as they played them all the time.  I also ended up with a pretty sizable VHS collection so my brother and I could rewatch them whenever we wanted. While Godzilla didn't really seem to stick in my brother's consciousness, I became a life long fan hunting down bootlegs of the Japanese versions and buying figures, shirts and all sorts of other silly things.  It's only really been over the last fifteen years or so that you could buy legal versions of the Japanese cuts of these movies stateside.

Then there is the music.  I've always loved the soundtracks to the Godzilla movies.  These were impossible to come by when I was a kid.  I remember freaking out as a teenager finding a Godzilla CD in the import section of a Tower records.  It was the first time I was ever able to listen to the music on command.  I also drooled over the Perfect Collection CD box sets that came out in the early 2000s, but they were just way too expensive for me, despite containing nearly every musical note ever played in every single Godzilla movie.  Honestly, I'd still really like to get those if I could ever find them at a decent price.

This double LP is a nice compromise in the meantime.  It compiles music from the Showa series of Godzilla films that ran from 1954 to 1975.  There's at least one suite of music from every Showa Godzilla movie except for Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Godzilla vs the Sea Monster).  Though we do get "Mothra's Song" from the standalone Mothra movie, so it's an OK trade.  Also interspersed throughout the record are various monster sound effects.  These are neat to hear, but kind of disrupt the flow of the music a bit.  They also scare the shit out of my cat.  I could have passed on them in order to have a more cohesive album.

That minor complaint aside, this is a fun collection fo Godzilla tunes that I'm excited to have on vinyl.  While I wish that someone would release all of the individual soundtracks on vinyl (and a couple have come out), I know that is something that is likely never going to happen.  At least this record gives me a taste of the good life.

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Absolute Best Records of the Decade - 2010-2019


After seeing so many other folks list theirs, I thought it would be interesting to try to put together a list of my favorite albums from the past decade.  I discovered some surprising things as I went through everything.

To start, I made a rule that only 1 album per band could be on the list.  Otherwise that darn Steve Adamyk Band would have taken up too many spots.  They are hands down the band of the decade.  Six absolutely killer albums in ten years.  No one else came close to that.  Plus their debut album is my second favorite album of the last ten years.

The most interesting thing that I noticed was that the bulk of the records that mean the most to me weren't the albums that I thought were the number one record of their particular year.  As time went on certain records grew on me more and others faded away a bit.

The other thing that jumped out at me was how great of 2010 was.  There are six records from 2010 in my top twenty of the entire decade.  Taking up almost a third of the entire list seems pretty crazy to me, though in fairness, they did have the longest amount of time for me to become attached to them.  It's hard for a 2019 record to be one of the best of the entire decade, as I've only had a few months to listen to them, though Foxhall Stacks and Shoplifters were on the shortlist as I was whittling down to a top 20.

What isn't crazy to me at all is the fact that the first Mrs. Magician record was my absolute favorite of the past ten years.  When making this list, there was never even a question of that.  It is such a perfect record from start to finish.  I truly believe that it is one of the greatest albums in the history of the earth.

01 - Mrs. Magician - Strange Heaven - Swami
02 - Steve Adamyk Band - Steve Adamyk Band - Ptrash
03 - Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens - Sub Pop
04 - Year Zero - Year One - Ptrash
05 - Dead Mechanical - Addict Rhythms - Toxic Pop
06 - Title Tracks - In Blank - Windian
07 - Leatherface - The Stormy Petrel - Big Ugly Fish/No Idea
08 - The Night Marchers - Allez Allez - Swami
09 - Sonic Avenues - Television Youth - Dirtnap
10 - The Pretty Flowers - Why Trains Crash - Dirt Cult

11 - Boat - Dress Like Your Idols - Magic Marker
12 - Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Lives - One Little Indian
13 - Bob Mould - Silver Age - Merge
14 - Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else - Carpark
15 - Superchunk - Majesty Shredding - Merge
16 - Tenement - Napalm Dream -Mandible
17 - The No Marks - Light Of One - Brassneck
18 - Dirtbombs - Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey - In The Red
19 - Chestnut Road - Chestnut Road - Brassneck
20 - Gentleman Jesse - Leaving Atlanta - Douchemaster

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Absolute Best Records of 2019


Wrapping up my eighth year of doing this dumb website, I'm really impressed by how many great records came out this year.  While it felt like a slow year for a while, it really picked up in the latter half.  Any year where Snuff and Steve Adamyk Band don't make the top ten is a pretty incredible year of music (and both of those records were great, I think they would be easy top ten most years).

To be completely honest, my favorite record of the year was probably the one I helped put out on PopKid:

Shoplifters - Secret Free World - PopKid /Brassneck / Waterslide / Bartolini / White Russian

That said, I feel weird ranking records I released, so I'm going to disqualify them from the official ranking.  It would have been a tough battle for first place as I think I listened to Foxhall Stacks, Shoplifters and Warp Lines more than any other records this year.  Potty Mouth was right up there as well.  Denomi and Turncoat represented Japan this year, though I didn't actually write about the Turncoat record as a vinyl version is going to come out next year, so I'll take pictures of that one once it's out.

It was also great to hear the hitmakers from years past still kicking ass this year.  The Subjunctives, Bob Mould and J. Robbins all put out records just as good as any of their former bands put out in the 90s.

01 - Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse - Snappy Little Numbers (Listen)
02 - Warp Lines - Human Fresh - Dirt Cult (Listen)
03 - Potty Mouth - SNAFU - Get Better (Listen)
04 - Denomi - It's Never Too Late, Go Forward - With One Accord (Listen)
05 - The Subjunctives - Sunshine And Rainbows - Top Drawer (Listen)
06 - TurncoatMy Dear Ex - Waterslide (Listen)
07 - Jacob Turnbloom - Cemetery Luau - Cheddar Goblin (Listen)
08 - Bob Mould - Sunshine Rock - Merge (Listen)
09 - J. Robbins - Un-Becoming - Dischord (Listen)
10 - More Kicks - More Kicks - Dirt Cult / Snap / Beluga / Wanda / Adrenalin Fix (Listen)

11 - Steve Adamyk Band - Paradise - Dirtnap
12 - Snuff There's A Lot Of It About - Fat Wreck
13 - Notches - New Kinda Love - Dead Broke / Salinas
14 - Adult Magic - Adult Magic - Dead Broke
15 - Chilton Little Birds - Dead Broke
16 - Laika's Orbit Chosen No Ones - Dead Broke
17 - Good Shade Way Out - Dirtnap
18 - Crocodile God - Thirteen - Brassneck / Crackle
19 - Hidden Spots - New Me / New You - Dead Broke
20 - Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last - Bill Clinton

Other Records I Picked Up This Year:

Abolitionist - Ugly Feeling - 1859 Records/No Time Records/Between The Days/Different Kitchen
A Giant Dog Neon Bible - Merge
Brat Curse - Brat Curse - Just Because
Flashlights Shadows and Lights - Secret Mission
Herzog - Me vs. You - Exit Stencil
Mike Krol Power Chords - Merge
The Pretty Flowers - Golden Beat Sessions - Self Released / Dirt Cult
Spit-take - Falling Star - Dead Broke
State Drugs - Takings & Leavings - Snappy Little Numbers / Toxic Pop
Superchunk - AF - Merge


Friday, December 27, 2019

Notches - New Kinda Love LP


Dead Broke / Salinas (2019)

This will be my last post of 2019 aside from my end of the year list that I'll have up early next week.  There are still some records from this year that I didn't get to, but I wanted to make sure I fit in most of the real heavy hitters.  You can definitely call New Kinda Love a heavy hitter as even though it's come out at the very, very end of the year, it's good enough to be a decent disruptor in my 2019 album rankings.  

I wrote about the first Notches album a few years ago (and somehow missed the 2nd one entirely?) and back then I compared them favorably to Rumspringer.  I still that's a pretty solid comparison, though I think Notches have an even stronger grasp of putting together a killer vocal melody.  They maintain a really great balance of noisy and crunchy guitar sounds with super melodic hooks and choruses.  In some ways they reming me of early Archers of Loaf with their guitar squalls, but Notches are more rooted in a pop punk sound than Archers were.

I really dig this album a lot and only wish I had a little more time to spend with New Kinda Love before writing about it.  I have a feeling that if it had come out a little earlier in the year I probably would end up liking it even more than I do right now, but it's very obvious how strong a record this is with only a week's worth of plays.  Probably the last great record of the decde.

Notches - New Kinda Love:

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Brat Curse - S/T LP


Just Because (2019)

I've been trying desperately to get through as many of the 2019 records as I can before I put together my end of the year best of list. While this felt like a slow year for records overall, it feels like the floodgates have opened over the past couple of months.  There's no way I'm going to get through everything as I plan on posting my year end list on Monday, but I'm trying to get through a few last minute additions.

Brat Curse are a band that my buddy Scott likes, he's where I first heard their name mentioned.  Now that I've been able to listen to the record, I can see what he was on about.  Brat Curse are playing a fuzzy, lower fidelity strain of guitar pop that has rough edges where I like them and strong hooks where I need them.  There are elements of Superchunk to their songs, particularly when they slow things down a bit.  But in their faster moments, what they remind me most of is a slightly noisier Tight Bros.  I loved that Tight Bros record and wish they had made more, but Brat Curse is standing in nicely with their debut LP.

I really like this record and though I've only been able to listen to it a few times, it already feels like a grower to me, the sort of album I'm going to enjoy more the more I listen to it.  Could be a good last minute gift to yourself.

Brat Curse - S/T LP:

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Gene Autry - Merry Christmas Christmas You All 7"


Columbia (1952)

As Christmas day falls on a Wednesday, we're going to skip Ed Lover Dance Day for this week.  While I know a lot of folks would try to make me believe that "Christmas In Hollis" fits the bill as a Christmas song, for me it's just a little too gimmicky and doesn't really put me in the same sort of place as something a bit more melodic.

When it comes to melody at Christmas time, you'd be hard pressed to find someone better than Gene Autry.  Gene Autry is the purveyor of many of my very favorite traditional Christmas tunes and while he doesn't always get mentioned in the same breath as a Bing Crosby or a Perry Como (Or those Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer people), his catalog of Christmas tunes is second to none.

The two songs on this 7" are not two of his most well known, but they are two of my favorites.  Gene was known as the Singing Cowboy in the 50s and was part of many of the kid friendly westerns of the era.  Now I'll be honest, I've never seen any of those, but I'm impressed by the cross marketing he came up with to make those cowboy fans grab a Christmas record of his.  "Merry Texas Christmas You All" is one of my all time favorites.  Over a bed of slide guitar, acoustic strumming and rousing woodwinds, Gene tells us about how Texans see things a bit differently from the sort of Christmas songs you usually hear full of snow, but they are as jolly and festive as the next folks.

"Twas The Night Before Christmas (In Texas, That Is)" goes down a similar path as the A side, paining Santa Claus as more of a cowboy character on his 'buck board' filling little kids boots with candy galore.  While I always really liked these songs as a kid, I've grown to love them even more as I've gotten older, especially as my wife is from Texas.  While she never heard these songs growing up, I've really enjoyed sharing them with her and they've become part of our yearly Christmas music traditions.

Gene Autry - "Merry Texas Christmas You All":

Gene Autry - "Twas The Night Before Christmas (In Texas, That Is)":

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Mavericks - Hey! Merry Christmas!


Mono Mundo (2018)

I came across this album digging through Connor Ratliff's Rolling Stone article where he reviewed fifty plus Christmas records that had come out last year (I keep waiting for his 2019 version, but alas, it hasn't shown up yet).  I came across that list as I was trying to find records similar to last year's sensational JD MacPherson album.  That is one of the all time great additions to my Christmas playlist, so if I could find more like that, I'd be quite pleased.  That's would led me to this Mavericks record.

While I was originally taken by the fun artwork, it was the opening track "Christmas Time Is (Coming 'Round Again)" that sealed the deal and made me pick up the vinyl.  It has that Phil Spector influenced instrumentation along with a timeless vocal melody that I can really get behind.  There's so many wonderful Christmas songs in the world that have been kicking around for decades.  I'm most excited by the folks writing new songs that fit into that mold rather than a new take on a song I already have seventeen versions of.

The one unfortunate thing is that this first song is probably the highlight of the album.  Aside from the excellent title track "Hey! Merry Christmas!," most of the other songs are merely good.  While fun songs to throw down on a mix, listening to the whole album start to finish does kind of highlight the overall shortcomings of record.  Still, the songs "Hey! Merry Christmas!" and "Christmas Time Is (Coming 'Round Again)" are bonafide hits and many of the others work fine plugged into my sixteen and a half hour Christmas playlist.

The Mavericks - Hey! Merry Christmas! (YouTube full album playlist):

Monday, December 23, 2019

Los Straitjackets - Complete Christmas Songbook 2xLP


Yep Rock (2018)

Every year I spend a lot of time fine tuning my Christmas music playlist.  It's a yearly tradition where I add some new tunes, remove some that no longer hold up and generally try to set the mood for the holiday season.  This year, nothing from 2019 has really jumped out at me, but I have picked up a couple of records from last year, one of which is this Los Straitjackets LP.

This LP compiles their Christmas 10" Yuletide beat, their LP 'Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets and a few 7" and compilation songs.  Since I already had the LP and 10", I also already had the vast majority of the songs on this double LP, but for some reason I was still drawn to add this to the collection.  Partly for the few extra songs I didn't have, but also so I could have everything in one nice, easy to play package.

These songs are great. Christmas tunes done in the surf instrumental way very similar to what the Ventures did on my favorite ever Christmas album.  Maybe too similar from time to time as the Los Straitjackets version of "Sleigh Ride" is essentially a cover version of the Ventures tune.  But Los Straitjackets also take on songs that the ventures never did and it's here where their contributions to Christmas really shine.  "Marshmallow World" is one of the best and it's actually the song that made me look into these guys in the first place.  I think I heard it first in The Gap one year and my wife managed to figure out who it was.  I'm glad she did as Los Straitjackets have really become one of my favorite yearly Christmas traditions.

Los Straightjackets - Complete Christmas Songbook:

Friday, December 20, 2019

More Kicks - S/T LP


Dirt Cult / Snap / Beluga / Wanda / Adrenalin Fix (2019)

We've got another late entry into the 2019 record list sweepstakes, creating havoc for me as I try to put together my best of list.  This is one of the reasons why I always wait until a day or two before the end of the year to post my list.  There's always a few records that I end up getting at the last possible moment.  When a record is as good as this More Kicks album is, I absolutely do not mind the list disruption.

What a great power pop record this is, reminding me right away of the less frantic moments of the Cute Lepers at times.  There are so many tremendous hooks and vocal melodies throughout the album.  They are on display during the more uptempo numbers like "What A Mess You Make" and "It's a Drag" just as much as they are on the more subdued "You Left A Stain On Me" and "Ain't That Just The Way."  There are moments where I get the same sort of feelings as I get when listening to early Ted Leo and there are other times where I'm positive this is straight up Mega City Four worship.  No matter what references I hear hints of, I'm always in the moment and digging what More Kicks are laying down.

I feel like I listened to a lot of bands in 2008-2010 that straddled that line between garage, power pop and pop punk.  Over the decade, I feel like most of those bands drifted too far into the garage territory for me.  There used to be a sweet spot for me and I haven't heard a band hit it like More Kicks has with this record in many years.

More Kicks - S/T:

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Boogie Down Productions - By All Means Necessary LP


Music On Vinyl (2015, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for 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.

There are not many records as important to my musical education as By All Means Necessary was when I first heard it.  This was pretty early into my hip hop explorations of the early 90s.  I had seen some BDP videos on Yo MTV Raps and had liked pretty much all of them, but it was the purchase of a Yo MTV Raps compilation CD that introduced my to one of the greatest hip hop songs ever written, "My Philosophy." The extended remix on that comp was something that I played over and over and over.  I was totally obsessed, so of course I had to find the album it came from.

While "My Philosophy" is the highlight of By All Means Necessary, let's be honest, it would be the highlight on just about any album.  The rest of By All Means Necessary is equally vital and powerful throughout the duration.  From the storytelling prowess of "Stop the Violence" to the battle rap perfection of "I'm Still #1" to the reggae fusion of "Part Time Suckers," KRS-One stands taller than just about any other MC out there.  In 1988, this was super cutting edge and the growth from Criminal Minded to By All Means Necessary was a quantum leap in terms of beats and production.

To me, this album and Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back are the corner stones for the late 80s and early 90s golden era of hip hop.  Rap would have sounded a lot different without these two groups paving the way and it's a testament to their visions that both records could sound so potent over thirty years later.

Boogie Down Productions - "My Philosophy":

Boogie Down Productions - "I'm Still #1":

Monday, December 16, 2019

The First Part - Offset From The Normal 12" EP


Self Released (2019)

I was very pleasantly surprised to have this new 12" EP by The First Part show up at my door a couple of weeks ago.  I really liked a CDEP of theirs a few years back, but had honestly lost track of them a little bit.  As I get older, I notice I have a more difficult time keeping up on current bands and what they are up to.  I do my best, but inevitably things slip through the cracks for one reason or another.   I'm glad this EP didn't become one of them.

Boasting a former member of "90s pop punk sensations" Jill, I'm going to be inclined to like these guys since I was such a big Jill fan back in the day.  But if this record was a total turd, no amount of good will for a prior band would make me like the new one.  Crooked Fingers really blows, for example, and those first two Archers of Loaf records are among my very favorite ever.  Luckily, I can happily report that the four songs on this EP are pretty great.

One of the things I remember about the bands first EP is how I felt they had a similar, mid tempo pop structure that reminded me of bands like Hospital Job.  While I would still classify the tempo on the bulk of this EP as "mid," I feel like these songs have more of a pop punk feel to them.  Maybe a little closer to Jill, particularly in the vocal melodies.  My favorite song of the bunch is "We're No Strangers" and while it certainly doesn't feel dated, it makes me think back to the 90s in the best possible way.

This is a great record.  That said, I always have weird feelings for 12" EPs.  It always seems like it would make more sense to stick more songs on there.  Why not have thrown the songs from that first CDEP on the B side?  Anyway, my bizarre person feeling about EPs aside, this is a worthwhile record to check out for the pop kids out there.

The First Part - Offset From The Normal:

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Missed - Stiff 7" - Gray Vinyl (/50)


Just Because (2019)

I hadn't heard of The Missed prior to receiving the 7" in the mail from Just Because.  I little perusing around the internet and I think this is their second release, after a tape that came out a couple of years ago.  It's possible they have more out there, but Discogs isn't particularly helpful and The Missed isn't an especially easy band name for Google to parse the results of.  Regardless, they seem to be a reasonably new band if nothing else.

I like all four songs on this release.  The guitar has a nice warm tone with just the right amount of fuzz.  The band is playing catchy rock and roll, it's not really poppy enough to be pop punk or fast enough to be labeled as garage, if you are trying to dole out basic genre assignments.  But whatever you want to call them, they've cranked out four really solid songs.

Of the four, my favorite is "I Wanna Know."  The choppy guitars in the verse build up to a really nice hook in the chorus and each time I've listened to the song, I end up bobbing my head along.  That's always the sign of a well written hook.  Worth checking out.

The Missed - Stiff 7":

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":