Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Saafir - Boxcar Sessions 2xLP

Untitled

 Qwest (1994)

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

While I was never steeped in the lore of Saafir and hadn't listened to his records until very recently, I have been aware of him since 1994.  He made a guest appearance on the Casual record Fear Itself.  I always dug his verse, even though it was a little weird, but never really looked into him much after that.  I was completely unaware that this guest spot launched a beef that ended up as one of the more famous rap battles of all time.  I have since listened to it, and while it's clear to me that Casual is miles ahead, Saafir certainly has skill.

Saafir's debut album doesn't necessarily sound like a Hieroglyphics album, but you can definitely tell that Saafir's crew, Hobo Junction, was heading down a similar path.  There are innovative beats and samples throughout the album and when combined with Saafir's erratic, but very distinct flow, it does create moments of magic.

I could probably do with the record being a little shorter.  As a double LP it starts to feel a little bloated towards the end, but there are more than enough standout tracks to make this one worth adding to the collection.

Saafir - Boxcar Sessions (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kePE6XRKGBeMlA5YRUjvFJfAPSkQ4DF_A

Monday, November 30, 2020

Music From G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero LP

Untitled

Universal/Hasbro (2020)

I love 80s cartoons and toys.  They're just part of me as a person at this point.  Sitting at my desk now I'm surrounded by Star Wars, Voltron, He-man, Godzilla and much more.  When I saw that Hasbro was going to release the soundtrack for the G.I. Joe cartoon, I figured it might be something worth picking up.  After all, I do like collection records.  But I am also trying to cut down on the number of records I have that I don't actually play.  But, the collector won out and I picked up a copy.  

I went with the standard version as opposed to the Barnes & Noble colored vinyl exclusive. Typically, I pretty much always will go for the limited variant if I have the chance, but in this instance it would have cost almost ten dollars more than the one I was able to order from Amazon.  Plus, the standard version has better artwork.

When I put this on the turntable to listen to, I was actually shocked how much I enjoyed it.  The score of this show is pretty incredible, with rousing military themes that remind me a lot of the sort of thing you'd hear in those middle era Showa Godzilla movies.  Not necessarily the tried and true Ifukube themes, but some of the other composers that tackled his adventures in the late 60s and early 70s.  This sort of music is upbeat, bouncy and time and just feels so triumphant. The other thing that I like, though I'll concede others may not, is that the version of the opening theme on this LP is without the vocals.  I vastly prefer it this way, even though it's not specifically what I heard on my TV as a kid.

Even though I had mainly purchased this as a 'collectible,' I have a feeling I'm going to end up listening to it a lot more than I had originally planned.  Just wish it had come with a download code as well.


 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Gentlemen Rogues - Do The Resurrection 7" - Black & Clear Split Color Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

Gentlemen Rogues are skipping to the front of the line when it comes to SLN releases that I haven't written about yet as I have many years of history listening to the bands of singer Danny Dunlap.  I first encountered his music when he was in Jill, an excellent mid 90s pop punk band that probably should be remembered more than they are.  Danny has bounced around in several bands since then, but Gentlemen Rogues have been his project for the past seven plus years.

While neither song is brazenly 90s pop punk that sounds like Jill, it does sound like the sort of warm, glorious power pop that a dude who used to be in a band like Jill would be making twenty five years later.  I hope that reads like a compliment, because it is.  After all, I'm the sort of listener that likes warm, glorious power pop having listened to bands like Jill twenty five years ago. The A side is "Do The Resurrection," and it hits all of the right notes for me with big, crunchy guitar chords and melodic hooks.  Danny's vocals have always had a hint of Billie Joe in them, but luckily he's using them for the forces of good as opposed to whatever it it is that Green Day is doing these days.

On the B side we have an interesting experiment.  It's a cover song medley built primarily off of the Lemonheads song "Rudderless."  Where it gets interesting is that chunks of "Destination Ursa Major" by Superdrag and "When You Sleep" by My Bloody Valentine are worked in to the song as well.  Now, I will admit that of those three, I'm significantly more familiar with the Superdrag song than the others, so when that chunk pops up it does hit me hardest.  That said, the transitions are seamless and it all feels like one song, unlike something like "With or Without U-2" which, while fun, was pretty much a mess.  If Gentlemen Rogues do this sort of thing again, I think they should work in parts of the Quimby version of "Knerd In Shining Armor."

Gentlemen Rogues - Do The Resurrection 7"
https://gentlemenrogues.bandcamp.com/album/new-do-the-resurrection-single

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Group Home - Livin' Proof 2xLP

Untitled

Get On Down (2017, Reissue)

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

Group Home is yet another one of those 'missed it by that much' groups in hip hop for me.  As this album originally came out in 1995, it was pretty much off of my radar when it was released.  By '95 I was deep into punk rock and indie rock and frankly, I didn't have the time or money to keep up with the increasingly few interesting hip hop records that were coming out. Had Livin' Proof been released in 1993 or even 1994, it would have probably hit me in a completely different way.

I heard Group Home for the first time within the past two years.  I really didn't even know they had ever released an album.  My only knowledge of them was from their affiliation with Gang Starr and being collectively shouted out on my favorite track of theirs, "Blowin' Up The Spot." When I found out that they did have an album and it had been produced by DJ Premier, I figured it was worth going after, and for the most part it was.

Like all Premier releases from this general time period, the production and beats on this record are quite excellent.  As good as Hard To Earn? Probably not quite there, but easily on the level of The Sun Rises In The East.  As a crew, Group Home hold their own reasonably well on the microphone.  There's no real stand out to me and when pressed, I can't even think of any lyrics that are particularly noteworthy, but they fill out Premier's beats evenly enough.  

Every time I listen to Livin' Proof, I always like it, but it does often feel a little bit long and there's no one that has the sort of charisma or lyrical dexterity that you'd find in Guru or Jeru. That said, it was cool to be able to find a record of this quality and be able to hear it for the first time in 2018 or 2019.  That's not something I get to experience very often.

Group Home - Livin' Proof (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_m6kA7Z5wLu0JM0ViY95A7X3VcWEw5RFag

Monday, November 16, 2020

Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night 7"

Untitled

Swami (2020)

While Swami John Reis has released music under his own name in conjunction with The Blind Shake and Metz, this two song 7" marks the first release where he's not working with another established band. With John having been responsible for some of my favorite records ever released, I was interested to see how this 7" would differ from say Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes or Night Marchers.

A Side "Ride The Wild Night" is built off of a fast paced acoustic guitar riff that reminds me a little bit of the Rocket cover of "Love Is Lies."  It's not as obviously pop as that cover song is, but it has a similar feel with John & co using that riff as a foundation to layer on the electrics and blast into a chorus that I can't wait to scream at the top of my lungs once shows are a thing again.

On the B side we have "I Hate My Neighbors in the Yellow House."  It starts off with a heavy synth riff and that caused me concern for a brief moment as I am not typically interested in 80s synth sounds.  But, the synth is just the backbone that all of the the guitars and rhythms are constructed around.  It's the noisier of the two songs and I don't think it would have been too out of place on the second Night Marchers LP.

These two songs are from an upcoming full length album.  Said album was supposed have been released this year with a supporting tour, but of course 2020 must be consistently terrible.  I'm looking forward to hearing more from this and I hope the album doesn't get pushed too far into 2021.

Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night 7" (YouTube Music full album playlist)

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Some Body To Love 7" (French Version)

Untitled


Carrere (1992)

I managed to track down one of the very few picture sleeve Blues Brothers 7"s that wasn't already in my collection.  This one came out in France in 1992.  I'm not entirely sure why 7" of this would be released as late as the 90s, but based on the year and the artwork, it's obviously in conjunction with the 1992 Atlantic records collection album, The Definitive Collection.

I remember when that CD came out when I was in high school.  I bought it right away even though I had all of the songs on it already.  I think one of the main reasons I got it was so I could write a review of it in my high school newspaper, which I did.  I remember it vividly as one of the editors suggested using the word "amongst" in it.  I loved it and added that word to my writing toolbox immediately.

The B side on this 7" is "Gimme Some Lovin'" and like "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" it's from the Blues Brothers movie soundtrack.  There's not going to be much that this record does other than sit in my 7" collection.  But I am now one 7" away from having every Blues Brothers picture sleeve variant.  I need a version of Soul Man from the Netherlands, but once I have that it'll just be a matter of upgrading a couple of sleeves that have condition issues.

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love": 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEkvuxjccLA

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin'": 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Gang Starr - Step In The Arena 2xLP

Untitled

Virgin (2019, Reissue)

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

For me, Daily Operation and Hard To Earn are the quintessential Gang Starr records.  They are the two I had in the 90s and the ones that I have listened to far more than anything else.  Over the intervening years I have picked up more of the Gang Starr catalog.  While I haven't upgraded everything to vinyl, I did decide that it was time to add their sophomore album Step In The Arena to the collection.

While there is nothing on this record as good as the material on the two albums that followed, there is a lot to love about Step In The Arena.  This is where DJ Premier really started coming into his own, beats wise.  The production on this album is ten million miles ahead of anything on the group's debut No More Mr. Nice Guy.  

Plus, the vast, vast majority of the record is just Premier and Guru.  One of the things that drove me crazy about the Gang Starr records Moment of Truth and beyond is that they were so crammed full of unneeded guest appearances that they hardly felt like Gang Starr records.  I know that an issue with hip hop records as a whole and isn't limited to Gang Starr.  I don't mind two or three tracks with a guest verse, but when you're relying on others for more than half of your album, it just feels watered down to me.

That's not an issue issue with Step Into The Arena.  You get Guru emerging as one of hip hop's great MCs and laying the foundation for the two certified Gang Starr classics that were next in line.

Gang Starr - Step In The Arena (YouTube Music full album playlist):

Monday, November 9, 2020

Headsparks - Working Parts CD

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2020)

I was a little late to the party and didn't realize that Andy from Gan/Donfisher had been putting out albums with his most recent band Headsparks until their third album Vs. The Metric System came out.  I then tried to make up for lost time and gather everything else they've released (though I stupidly didn't pick up a copy of their first CD when I ordered this new one from their Bandcamp page).  Anyway, Working Parts is the first album by Headsparks that I'm getting right as it is being released and I'm glad I did because I think it's their best yet.

Working Parts sounds like it could have come out in 1995.  And I mean that in the absolute best possible way.  It's not that I think the record sounds old or out of date, it's that it's a record every bit as good as some of my very favorites from the 90s.  This is UK melodic punk rock in the vein of a Hooton 3 Car or a more mature Donfisher.  And while Headsparks doesn't play quite as fast as those comparison bands, they capture the same sort of energy and write songs that are endlessly catchy and stay lodged in your head for days at a time.

It's like they cherry picked the best sounds of that scene, refined and matured them every so slightly and then unleashed them into the world as the band's best record. Not only is this a high water mark for Headsparks, but as far as 2020 releases go, this is without questions one of the top two or three records I have heard all year.  The only thing I can say that could maybe be a negative is that I just wish that there was a vinyl release available.  Working Parts is way too good of a record not to deserve the vinyl treatment as well as the most excellent Japanese CD.

Headsparks - Working Parts:
https://headsparks1.bandcamp.com/album/working-parts

Friday, November 6, 2020

Hot Snakes - I Shall Be Free 7" - Pink Vinyl

Untitled

PU (2020)

I consider myself very lucky to have found Rocket From The Crypt in the mid 90s.  It led me to the Atomjack email listserv when I was in college which led to the RFTC phorum and the Swami forum.  All three of these places are gone now, but the friends I have made in Swami land over the years have stuck around.  Be it on Twitter, that Swami group on Facebook or directly texting with friends made along the way, I am very thankful to be part of this community.  I've been to a lot of Rocket/Hot Snakes/Assorted John Reis shows over the years.  I've often heard him bantering on the stage about the people at the show being family.  I believe every word of that, I have acquired a second family along the way and they are all the fucking best.

If not for said family, I would not have been able to get my hands on this 7".  It was sold at Hot Snakes shows (Remember shows? They were like records only louder with the sound coming out of people instead of the vinyl) and that particular tour didn't make it out east.  Luckily there are kind hearted folks in this world and I was able to add this to my collection.  It was supposed to be the second of four 7"s, one for each of the four seasons (this one is spring) that would lead into the next Hot Snakes full length.  Who knows what happened to that plan with the world being as crazy as it is right now.  As I type this sentence there's one of those fire alarm/air raid sounding sirens going off in my town.  Totally fits the 2020 vibe.

The record itself is great as always.  Hot Snakes doesn't write songs I don't like and both of these fit neatly into their existing catalog while making me hungry for more.  I don't expect shows to start up again anytime soon.  Selfishly, I hope that we don't have to wait for the pandemic to clear before we get more Hot Snakes music, but I also know that it's likely a bummer to put out a record and not be able to tour it.  Chaos all around us.  Hopefully we can get through it soon.

Hot Snakes - "I Shall Be Free":
https://hotsnakes.bandcamp.com/track/i-shall-be-free

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Redman - Dare Iz A Darkside LP

Untitled

Rush (2015, Reissue) 

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

Following up on last week's Redman debut LP update, I also managed to acquire a copy of his sophomore album Dare Iz A Darkside.  One thing that I have noticed is that a lot of classic hip hop LPs have been rereleased over the past ten years, but most of them went back out of print pretty soon after that repress.  There have been several occasions where I had to hunt just as hard for a three year old reissue as I would for an original 90s pressing.

Dare Iz A Darkside falls into this category.  I have been hitting up all of the usual stores as well as keeping an eye on eBay and Discogs.  Funny enough, I finally found it by going several pages deep into a Google search and came across a record store in Costa Mesa that said they had the record in stock.  I wasn't confident it would actually show up, but I ordered it anyway. Figured the worst that could happen is I'd end up with a refund.  I can happily report that a few days later a brand new sealed copy of the lenticular cover version showed up.

I didn't have this record when it originally came out.  1994 was a turning point year where I started listening to more punk rock and less hip hop and I imaging this album slipped through the cracks as a result.  I only heard if for the first time years later.  While I don't connect with it quite the same way as I do with the first Redman record, there is a lot to like about this followup.  The beats are still rugged and hard hitting and Redman proved early on that he was a lyricist a step above many.  

It is a great album and it's actually the only other Redman record I've ever listened to aside from the first one. Are any of the others worth checking out? I tend to be leery of anything that came out after 1995, but maybe it's time to explore Redman's discography a bit more.

Redman - Dare Iz A Darkside (YouTube Music full album playlist):


Monday, November 2, 2020

The Animal Steel - Smooth Jazz Chords Flexi 7"

Untitled

 Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

I haven't seen many flexis in a really long time, but it looks like Snappy Little Numbers is bringing them back.  Hey even though there are limitations to the format, I like them better than tapes.  This flexi is by a band called The Animal Steel and I am disappointed to find out that there isn't anyone in the band named George. But the disappointment ends there.

There's only room for one song on this flexi, but it's a doozy clocking in at five and half minutes long. If I'm being honest, I think they could probably trim off a chunk of the intro and tighten things up a little but, but once the main chunk of "Smooth Jazz Chords" kicks in, there's a lot to like about it.

It's kind of an odd combination, but it works.  There's chunky, Jawbox style guitar work that's slightly dissonant, but still keeps the song catchy and moving forward. Vocally, there's more of an Iron Chic/RVIVR vibe, earnest and powerful and the backing vocals in particular play well with the dynamic guitar work.  I like it.  It's only one song, but it definitely makes me want to hear more.

The Animal Steel - Smooth Jazz Chords:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/track/smooth-jazz-chords

Friday, October 30, 2020

Alligator Gun - Alligator Gun Cassette

Untitled

1991 (Self Released)

My love of Alligator Gun is well documented on Twitter where I call for the release of Onehundredpercentfreak on vinyl several times a year.  It's one of my top three albums that i think is just begging for a vinyl release.  I don't know anyone will ever release it, but if I win the lottery, you can bet PopKid will come knocking.

Back to reality.  This tape was the only Alligator Gun release I didn't already have (Though I am looking to upgrade my Smirk CD as the one I got a year or so ago has a corner cut off of the cover art).  I was surprised to see the tape pop up on Discogs and was even happier to see it's sub-ten dollar price tag.  It was an easy and instant buy.

Is it this sort of era defining classic as Onehundredpercentfreak?  No, of course not.  This is a super early tape released by a band that was just getting started.  It's actually great for what it is, with solid hooks and punchy guitar riffs.  In particular "Theory of Independent Feet" feels like a harbinger of what could come from this band.  But in this instance, you don't have to take my word for it.  The wonderful MKE Punk website has this tape and all of Aligator Gun's releases available to download, so go check them out!

Alligator Gun - Alligator Gun Tape:
http://www.mkepunk.com/releases/pop-punk/alligator-gun-3-song-ep/



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Redman - Whut? Thee Album LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Rush (2014, Reissue)

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

I wrote about the original pressing of this album a few months ago here. You can see that I had issues with the quality of the record I bought on eBay and although the seller was super cool and accommodating, it still left me without a real copy of this record in my collection.  Luckily, I was able to find another at a good price.

This version is even cooler as it's on red vinyl.  Sure, I know some folks prefer the sanctity of the first pressing of a record, but for me, I'll always be most interested in the coolest looking and/or best sounding version that there is.  180g will get me every time, but barring that I'll take a colored vinyl version every time.

This one is in great condition and I can now listen to the album on vinyl whenever I want.  It's a great thing.  If you want to read about the album itself, the last time I wrote about that bunk copy pretty well covered it.  In short, it's the best Redman record and worth checking out if you're unfamiliar for any reason.

Redman - Whut? Thee Album (YouTube Music full album playlist):

Friday, October 23, 2020

Bob Mould - Blue Hearts - Blue, Black & White Tri Color Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2020)

Bob Mould has been nothing if not remarkably consistent since releasing 2012's The Silver Age. Since that time he has cranked out four more albums of good, crunchy, Sugar-style guitar rock.  I've loved all of those records, but the only one that has had real staying power with me has been The Silver Age.  I can't really explain it, but that's the one that keeps standing out.

I'm unsure where Blue Hearts will settle in when all is said and done.  I'm sure listening to it a lot right now and I do love it.  It's got the great aggressive pop sound that Mould is known for.  His loud roaring guitars, his strained vocals and lyrics full of piss and vinegar.  It's fucking great.  But, I have really liked all of his recent records and they all have fallen into a similar pattern.  I play them a lot for a couple of months, I put them into the record collection and then they just sort of hang out there.  When I'm in the mood to listen to Bob Mould, I tend to just keep going back to the Silver Age or Sugar's File Under Easy Listening.

It's nothing against those other records, but when you have an album so strong, it can dominate over the rest of your discography.  For me, ultimately time will tell how I end up ranking Blue Hearts against the others.  Maybe this will be one I keep going back to or maybe it's a record that I'll play a ton now only to have it fade gracefully into the background.  It doesn't really matter to me either way,  Bob Mould puts out great records and I'm happy to buy as many as he releases, even if they end up not being in permanent heavy rotation.

Bob Mould - Blue Hearts:
https://bobmould.bandcamp.com/album/blue-hearts

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Brand Nubian - Everything Is Everything 2xLP

Untitled

Elektra (1994) 

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

I have a complicated relationship with Everything is Everything.  I've never been one of those who thought the group was useless after Grand Puba left, but it's impossible to overstate how large he loomed over their first album.  The other thing is that Everything Is Everything is home of what is probably my favorite Brand Nubian song, "Word is Bond."  Ever since I saw the video for the first time in 1994 the rhyme "I push the Cadillac DeVille and still we real / I drive a garbage truck / and not give a" really hit me as being particularly clever.  Not just because they don't actually say "fuck" but still make you say it to yourself in your head, but I also dig the imagery of Brand Nubian driving around in a garbage truck.

The problem is that after "Word Is Bond," which is the first track on the album, the rest of Everything Is Everything just pales in comparison.  In general the rest of the production is too slow with far too much reliance on sappy R&B style beats.  Lyrically, Lord Jamar and Sadat X still have the goods, but it's a real chore to get through 2 LPs of, frankly, boring beats.

Still, "Word Is Bond" is so good that I did need to get this LP in the collection.  Combine with the groups first two albums, and that's really all I need from the Brand Nubian discography (Plus the first Grand Puba solo record).  While Puba eventually rejoined the group and they released some other records over the years, nothing ever really piqued my interest.  Like so much of the hip hop I love, 1994 seemed to be the last year that Brand Nubian was able to produce anything that really caught my ear.

Brand Nubian - Everything Is Everything (YouTube Music full album playlist):

Monday, October 19, 2020

Fatal Figures - X Minus One LP

Untitled

Big Neck (2020)

This Fatal Figures record is one of a pack of records that Big Neck records sent over to me.  Even though this is the band's third release, I'd not heard of them before opening this record up.  What I can say for sure is that they are loud and noisy, so if you are into loud and/or noisy, this might be something up your alley.

For me, I think they go a little too dissonant to be the sort of thing I would listen to on a regular basis.  I was intrigued by the inclusion of a cover of Unwound's "Lucky Acid," but truth be told, even though Fake Train is one of my favorite Unwound albums, "Lucky Acid" wouldn't rank very high on a best song list.  The Fatal Figures version is fine, pretty similar to the original actually, but it's lacking that big thumping bass that characterizes Unwound's sound.  I don't fault Fatal Figures too much though, that's a tough act to follow.

The rest of the album moves along through sludgy, pummeling songs.  There's no hidden pop hooks on this album, it's just loud and in your face.  I probably would have been more interested if something like this when I was first discovering bands like Unwound, Karp or Fitz of Depression back in the 90s, but today it's a bit much for me.

Fatal Figures - X Minus One:

Friday, October 16, 2020

Pinhead Gunpowder - Kick Over The Traces LP - Green Vinyl

Untitled


Recess (2010)

I've been on a real kick of listening to early 90s Lookout records style pop punk lately.  I think it's in part because of the Mr. T Experience reissues that have been coming out, but I certainly haven't limited my playlist to their records.  I've been listening to a lot of Pinhead Gunpowder and while I do have all of their 7"s and the other 10" and LPs that came out in the 90s and early 2000s, I am missing a few key pieces on vinyl.

I don't have Jump Salty on vinyl.  I have all of the singles and comps on vinyl that make up that album, but I only have the CD Lookout put out of Jump Salty.  I want this on vinyl bad, but apparently there was some sort of issue when it was pressed and most of the copies were recalled.  I'll just say this, if anyone has a copy they'd be willing to sell or trade to me, please get in touch.

In order to fill the gaps a bit, I decided to pick up Kick Over The Traces.  This is essentially a Pinhead Gunpowder greatest hits album.  It has six songs from Jump Salty on it, so at least that's a start.  It's actually a really solid compilation of the band's best songs.  All eras are represented and it features tracks from Carry The Banner, Goodbye Ellston Ave, Compulsive Disclosure, Shoot The Moon and more.

I've always loved this band and I even prefer them to early Green Day when push comes to shove.  Their songs have that little extra grittiness to them that I like while still managing to cram in all of those wonderful pop hooks that drive me wild.  Plus I finally have the electric version of the song "Landlords" on an easy to play format.  It's one of my favorite Pinhead Gunpowder songs, but only has existed on a 7" previously.  When the Compulsive Disclosure CD was put out, an acoustic version of "Landlords" appeared.

Typically I'm not the biggest fan of greatest hits records.  I own very few as I would much rather listen to a band's full album concept.  But in this instance, it's kind of a placeholder until I can find my own copy of Jump Salty.  Plus, Jump Salty was just a compilation of other previously released Pinhead Gunpowder songs anyway.  This will do for now.

Pinhead Gunpowder - "Landlords":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG3oz803RZc

Pinhead Gunpowder - "Losers of the Year":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j5UHfRQrkI

Pinhead Gunpowder - "Swan Song":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6MBvuTR-l0


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

UMC's - Unleashed LP

Untitled

Wild Pitch (1994) 

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

As I had mentioned when I wrote about the first UMC's album a ways back, I didn't listen to this group during their heyday.  Years later, when I was looking for something new to listen to from that era I decided to give them a chance.  And I really dug what I heard.  What I also learned was that apparently there was some backlash against Fruits of Nature, with claims that it wasn't 'hard' enough.  I don't agree with those criticisms and I actually really enjoyed the upbeat nature of those songs.  But that backlash definitely played a part in the sound of their follow up, Unleashed.

Unleashed is much more aggressive than Fruits of Nature ever was.  There's harsher language, subject matter that is a bit more risqué and beats that are a bit grungier.  I do still like it quite a bit and it reminds me of Das EFX somewhat.  Less cartoony as far as the lyrics go and there's no 'diggety' style flow, but the way Haas G and Kool Kim trade verses back and forth and the feel of the production is reminiscent of Das EFX.

It seems that this new sound didn't do much to placate the critics of the first UMC's album, as this time the band was accused of being disingenuous and changing their sound too much to try to fit in.  I'm not sure if I prefer Unleashed or Fruits of Nature, but every criticism I read of either album seems totally off base to me.  I enjoy both quite a bit, but they are very different from each other.  I would recommend either to anyone that digs hip hop from that golden era of 1990-1994 and missed out on these guys the first time around like I did.

UMC's - Unleashed (YouTube full album playlist):

Monday, October 12, 2020

Snuff - The Wrath of Thoth 12" - 3 New Vinyl Colors

Untitled

10 Past 12 / Unless You Try (2020)

Several weeks ago I received an email from the Snuff mailing list alerting the world that they had pressed 2 more color variants of the Wrath of Thoth 12".  I will admit that I swore a little.  Having already purchased 6 different versions of the LP, I was not really up for buying more right at that moment in time.  But, as I read through the email, my concerns dissipated a bit. There was a note acknowledging that some people were buying all of the versions and it wasn't their goal to get these duplicate sales when they repressed the records.  So the deal was this, if you had all six prior versions and you took a picture of them and sent them in, they would send the two newest variants for free to the first six responders.

Very luckily, I was one of the six.  To my surprise, I actually received three new records.  I have the new splatter variant (/295) and the silver/white split color variant (/105) and these both look great.  Split color vinyl is my person favorite color way and it's always nice to add more of those to the collection.  In addition to those two that were advertised, I also received one on orange vinyl.   This orange is darker than the orange one I have from the first pressing, so I'm not really sure of the story with this one.  I'll have to dig around and see what I can sleuth out.  It may just be a transitional color, but maybe not.

As far as the music goes, I wrote more about that in my write up of the other six colors here.  The songs on here are great and it makes me eager for another Snuff full length, even though they did just put one out last year.  Snuff is an all time favorite band and I love buying their records, but I will definitely be content if the variants for this release end here.

Snuff - The Wrath Of Thoth (This is a link to one of those link tree things that take you to a bunch of places you can stream the record, but really you should just go buy the vinyl, shouldn't you?) https://ditto.fm/the-wrath-of-throf

Friday, October 9, 2020

Reverse - Empty Spaces LP - Blue Vinyl


Boss Tuneage (2020)

Even just a few years ago, if you had told me that in 2020 one of the best albums of the year would have been put out by Reverse, I don't think I could have possibly believed you.  It's not that I would have any doubt that they would be capable of writing one of the best records, I would have just been in shock that it actually happened.

Back in the 90s, Reverse released three 7"s and a split 7" with Exit Condition.  These songs along with the one from the Best Punk Rock In England comp were some of my very favorite of the era.  To this day I will put the song "Stagnant" up against anything that came out of that mid 90s UK scene.  It's one of the best of the best.  We never even got a full length Reverse album back then and the band was (at least to me being in America) somewhat mysterious. They cranked of four perfect singles and then vanished.

Now, luckily there has been action from the Reverse camp in the intervening years.  I took possession of one of their demo tapes that had songs that weren't on the singles (more on that later) and their singles were compiled on to the Glance Sideways CD along with some extra tracks by SP records in Japan.  A few years later came Chasing Ghosts, with more unreleased Reverse songs.  I may be mistaken here, but my impression was always that those were older songs and wasn't a proper new full length.  That said, it was incredible and I was happy to have more music by such a great band.  They also put out a new 7" last year.  I don't have that yet as it is sitting in a pile of records put aside for me by a friend in Japan that I haven't been able to get from him yet.  Pandemic and other issues being a key driver of that...

But now, somehow, miraculously, Reverse has a full length album of new songs in the year 2020.  This has been a shitty fucked up year, but Reverse putting out a new album takes just a a fraction of the sting away.  It sounds like it could have been released the week after their last 7" in the 90s.  A perfect blend of melody and punk rock.  This is such a quintessentially sounding UK punk record and I cannot get enough of it.  That scene with Snuff, Leatherface, Broccoli, Hooton 3 Car, Mega City Four, Chopper, Skimmer, Crocodile God, Donfisher and more was my favorite time and place in all of recorded music and this record is every bit as good as anything that came out back then.

The thing about Reverse that gets my more than anything is their complete and total mastery of the chorus.  This has always been the case.  You're listening to one of their songs and the verse is good to great and then they get to the chorus and the song blows your fucking mind.  That happens over and over and over on this record.  From opener "Empty Spaces" to "Opinions" to "Fire Flies" I am never not amazed when that chorus comes blasting in.

Another cool thing is to hear a newly recorded version of a song called "Missuser." Remember that demo tape I mentioned?  This was one of the songs on it that didn't also end up on the Glance Sideways comp.  It was really cool to hear it again in the context of a full album and it fits in perfectly.

Here I go writing way more than I expected to once again, but if you can't tell, when I get really excited about a record I tend to go on and on and on.  Well, I love this record.  It is one of the best two or three albums I have heard all year and the fact that it exists just makes the world a better place in my opinion.  Thank you Reverse, please make more records.

Reverse - Empty Spaces (Only the first two songs are streaming on Bandcamp):
https://bosstuneagerecords.bandcamp.com/album/empty-spaces

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Wrong Place 12"

Untitled

Elektra (1993)

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

If you've been reading any of my Wednesday posts, you've definitely read mention of Del The Funky Homosapien. He & his Hieroglyphics crew are responsible for my favorite releases in the history of hip hop. I had decided that I needed to get my hands on the various golden era singles from those groups as the B sides and remixes were sorely missing from my collection on vinyl.

This is the last of my Del 12" singles.  He had released others, but my main focus was tracking down everything trough the No Need For Alarm era.  I have it in mind to gather some of the others eventually, but I'm still trying to fill some of the holes in my vinyl collection of his full length albums before I move to the singles.  Even though I have been going through these single chronologically, I still managed to save the best one for last.

I did have the cassingle version of this when I was in high school.  Specifically, I had the Maxi-Single version.  This version had two extremely important non album tracks.  One of them is the song "Undisputed Champs."  It was a non album track that was exclusive to this single and it featured Del, Pep Love and Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest.  In 1993, having Del and Q-Tip on the same track was a completely mind blowing thought as they were responsible for some of my favorite records of this era.  The song does not disappoint wither as both are in top form for their verses.  I feel like this could have been a "Scenario" level event if the song had been highlighted on an album or if it had ended up being made into a video, but instead it ends up being something of a lost classic.

As good as "Undisputed Champs" is, that wasn't even my favorite song on this single.  The Casual remix of "Wrongplace" is unbelievable.  I can't go so far as to say it's the version that should have been on the album as the original version fits into that record so flawlessly, but as a standalone track, you could make the argument that this is a superior version. It's not just the production that is different.  This version has an alternate vocal take as well.  The slow grooving bass provides a foundation for Del to essentially go a little crazier than usual.  The structure of his rapping is more out there than the album version, with emphasis on different syllables and rhymes built out differently.  I really love it.

These songs along with the non album tracks from the other singles I've written about over the past few weeks were eventually compiled onto an Elektra 'greatest hits' CD.  But that one never came out on vinyl so I knew I had to hunt down these singles and I'm psyched I have them all now (Aside from version of "Mistadobolina" that just has different artwork, but yeah I'm still looking for that one too).

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Undisputed Champs":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErPZAfz9-Rc&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Wrong Place" (Casual Remix):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsUsLPOVtHQ&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Monday, October 5, 2020

Pinact - The Part That No One Knows LP

Untitled

Kinane (2017)

I stumbled across this band via Twitter.  Though Pinact is from Scotland, I actually saw them mentioned by one of the wonderful Japanese punk rockers that I follow.  They had mentioned this band in a tweet and I decided to do a little exploring.  I came across their Bandcamp page and after listening to the first couple of songs, I ordered the LP.

Pinact is playing gloriously fuzzy guitar pop music and the best way I can describe them is that I think they sound like a failed major label band from the mid 90s.  While it probably sounds like a backhanded compliment, I do mean it as genuine praise.  When I listen, it reminds me of bands like Pluto, Fig Dish maybe a hint of Fretblanket or Engine 88, but filtered through a Weezer sort of sensibility.  Maybe a modern day equivalent would be a band like Herzog.

There isn't a clunker on the record. The energy and tempo are upbeat and lively and the hooks are nice and catchy.  Even though the album is now a few years old, it's definitely one of the better records I've listen to this year.  I wish I had been paying more attention when this had originally come out, but I plan on making up for lost time.

Pinact - The Part That No One Knows:
https://pinactband.bandcamp.com/album/the-part-that-no-one-knows

Friday, October 2, 2020

The Mr. T Experience - ...And The Women Who Love Them LP - Silver Vinyl

Untitled

Sounds Rad (2020, Reissue)

When I wrote about the red vinyl version of the first Mr. T Experience album a few weeks ago, I said that one of the reasons I liked having it in my collection as it was a building block for a band that would become one of my all time favorites.  Everybody's Entitled to their Own Opinion was an album I tracked down after I had been listening to the band for a bit.  The most recent Mr. T Experience record that was available when I heard them for the first time was this EP, ...And The Women Who Love Them.

The first time I heard the Mr. T Experience was on the 1995 Slice of Lemon compilation.  They did a cover of the Schoolhouse Rock song "Adjectives" and that's what made me go look for more of their music.  I wonder how many people discovered them from that compilation.  I'm guessing it probably wasn't many.

I am not totally positive ATWWLT was the very first Mr. T Experience album I bought.  I picked up this one, Our Bodies Ourselves and Making Things With Light all around the same time.  They are the three MTX records I've known the longest and in a lot of ways they will always be fighting each other for the top spot of being my favorite (Along with Love As Dead, which would come out the following year in 1996).

What I can say for sure is that I just loved this EP.  "Tapin' Up My Heart" was immediately a song that jumped out at me and I went crazy for the blown out guitar fuzz lead, start/stop verse and of course the incredibly well constructed lyrics.  The rest of the CD's six other tracks were equally great tackling relationship highs and lows with a sharp wit and even sharper hooks.  Then there was the secret hidden song.

The 7" version of the release had "Tapin' Up My Heart" and "My Stupid Life" from the CD, but it also had an unlisted acoustic song which I now know is called "How'd The Date End?"  When I used to put this song on mix tapes, I titled it myself as being called "Love Connection."  In the early 2000s, Lookout put out the ...And The Women Who Love Them - Special Addition CD.  When they did, they included "How'd The Date End?" but it was a different recording that had a few extra lines.  I hated it.  I felt like it was lacking the urgency of the version from my 7" and I didn't think the extra lyrics were worth sacrificing that energy.  Oomph goes a long way with me and the original version had the Oomph I was looking for.  I got a lot angrier about stupid things twenty years ago than I do now.

With this new vinyl version, the seven songs from the CD are present along with the original version of "How'd The Date End?"  All eight songs in one place and even better yet all finally on vinyl.  To say this record sounds great is the understatement of the year.  None of these songs have ever sounded as good as they do on this record.  I can't believe the fullness of everything that is just not present on my old CD version.

Also, I think I lucked out with my copy.  I put in dibs for the record as soon as it was an option from Sounds Rad, but the people who bought the MTX Forever compilation had first dibs on the dibs.  I didn't buy that comp because I already have those songs.  I'm on board for reissues of full albums that sound better, but I didn't need a Mr. T Experience best-of that wasn't a list of the songs I actually thought were the best.  So, by the time I got to place dibs, I was number seven on the overflow list.  Sadly no spot ever opened up and I was relegated to the second pressing that wasn't on 180g vinyl.  But let me tell you, the version they sent me is pretty damn heavy.  I don't have a scale that weighs in grams, but I think that maybe they had some leftover 180g versions and I still managed to get one even though I missed out.  Regardless which version I have, it sounds incredible.

I have no idea how this write up got so long.  In summary, all that you really need to know is that this is pretty much a perfect slice of mid 90s pop punk, presented as an incredible sounding version and finally compiling all of the tracks from the recording in one place.  You would be a fool not to have this in your collection.

The Mr. T Experience - ...And The Women Who Love Them (YouTube Music full album playlistL
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lw4lASdWJVaKOg60udq5uTkSWO4LcHg_8





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Catch A Bad One 12"

Untitled

Elektra (1993)

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

 If you've been reading any of my Wednesday posts, you've definitely read mention of Del The Funky Homosapien. He & his Hieroglyphics crew are responsible for my favorite releases in the history of hip hop. I had decided that I needed to get my hands on the various golden era singles from those groups as the B sides and remixes were sorely missing from my collection on vinyl.

We've finally arrived at the first single from Del's second album, No Need For Alarm.  I've mentioned before that No Need For Alarm is my favorite hip hop record of all time, but I'm not sure I've also pointed out that "Catch a Bad One" is my favorite song from that album.  The very first time I heard that crazy cello loop I was instantly hooked.  I couldn't say for sure if I heard this song before the album itself was released.  I don't remember seeing it played on Yo MTV Raps, and I have no real memory of buying the album or how I knew it had been released.  I usually have a pretty solid memory for that sort of thing, but these details have sadly been lost to time.

I never had this single back in the 90s, and it didn't seem like a big deal.  It's mostly album tracks with "Catch a Bad One," "No More Worries" and "Wack M.C.'s."  All great songs for sure, but I already had them on the album.  The only exclusive track was a remix of "Catch A Bad One," so never splurged on the cassingle.  It wasn't until many years later that I realized that this remix really wasn't much of a remix at all.  It's essentially an entirely new song.  New beats, new lyrics, pretty much new everything.  Sure, Del does reuse four of the words from the original hook, but aside from that it's pretty much all new.  It's great and I'm really pleased to finally have it on vinyl.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Catch A Bad One":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpP_DslgZvY&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Catch A Bad One" (Remix):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mC1bVAh_iY&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Monday, September 28, 2020

Quaker Wedding - In Transit LP

Untitled

Salinas (2020)

I'm pretty sure that when it comes to records I've been sent this year, when the album in question is by a band I had not heard of before, this Quaker Wedding album is the best one I have listened to in 2020.  When this came in the mail, I was intrigued by the artwork and wanted it to be good.  Once the opening chords of "Sinking Ship" blasted out of my speakers, I knew this record was going to be a keeper.

When I listen to this album, I can hear echoes of other bands that I like. There is an Off With Their Heads/Dear Landlord quality in the vocals.  And of course the great grandaddy touchstone certainly sounds like Jawbreaker to me, but none of these comparisons really do Quaker Wedding justice.  They're not a No Idea sound alike band and to me the most obvious difference between Quaker Wedding and the bands I just compared them to is how much of the album is built on slower and more mid tempo songs.  Sure, there are a few fast paced rockers, but where the album really excels is when the band is taking their tame and building their sound.

I'm uncertain if it was written this way on purpose, but sitting here six months into a pandemic that has kept me from seeing friends and living a normal life, I can really latch on to the themes of isolation and melancholy that are prevalent on the record.  But what really grabs me is how these feelings aren't the defining characteristic of the album.  While they are there, to me the end result is much more uplifting and hopeful. This is a band worth checking out.

Quaker Wedding - In Transit:
https://quakerwedding.bandcamp.com/album/in-transit-2

Friday, September 25, 2020

Booker T & The MG's - The Complete Stax Singles - Vol. 1 (1962 - 1967) 2xLP - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Real Gone Music (2019)

Instrumental music isn't always my bag.  I can get down with an occasional Ventures song and I love the Minibosses, but when you try to play any of that emo Jade Tree instrumental stuff from the early 2000s, it's like NyQuil for me.  But of all of the instrumental bands in the history of recorded music, the one I like the best is Booker T & the MG's.

It doesn't hurt that Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn ended up in the Blues Brothers.  The fact that they are the backing band to most of the best songs in the history of Stax also works in their favor.  But even if you disregard all of the accolades they acquired working with others, their standalone work is still of the absolute highest caliber.  There are few bands that can sink into a groove the same way that Booket T & The MGs do.

The rhythm section of Al Jackson Jr. on drums with Lewie Steinberg or Donald Duck Dunn on Bass (Steinberg: 1962-1965/Duck: 1965-1967) lay down an unshakeable foundation.  You could almost throw anything on top of it and still end up smelling like roses.  The fact that what was added in is the incredible guitar work of Steve Cropper and the keyboard wizardry of Booker T is what makes the band stand out, even with no vocals.

I love having a nice double LP of some of their greatest songs all in one place.  The pressing sounds great and these songs just come alive when the volume is nice and loud.  The only thing that I don't love are that four of the songs are Christmas songs.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas music and the Booker T Christmas album is a long time favorite, but it's a little weird to be listening to the record and have a few Christmas songs pop up in the middle when it's August.  I certainly understand the desire to call something the complete singles and have it actually be complete, but if they left those 4 off the release, I wouldn't have been too bummed.

Booker T & the MG's - "Green Onions":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjBRyG8HouM

Booker T & the MG's - "Hip Hug Her":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BV4Td-Me8L8&ab

Booker T & the MG's - "Boot-Leg":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM3RnmmLdMo

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Made In America 12"

Untitled

Elektra (1993)

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

If you've been reading any of my Wednesday posts, you've definitely read mention of Del The Funky Homosapien. He & his Hieroglyphics crew are responsible for my favorite releases in the history of hip hop. I had decided that I needed to get my hands on the various golden era singles from those groups as the B sides and remixes were sorely missing from my collection on vinyl.

Made and America is essentially a standalone single that came out in 1993.  It was after I Wish My Brother George Was Here, but before No Need For Alarm was released in November of that year.  The song originated on the soundtrack for the film of the same name starring Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg.  Had I not Googled the name of the movie, I wouldn't have known that.  Never heard of the film and it's pretty odd that one, Del is on this soundtrack and two, his song got a single and a video when Gloria Estefan and DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince also have songs on it.

While I do not remember ever seeing the video played on Yo MTV Raps, I do remember the cassingle of this popping up in 1993 at some point.  It's a fun single that has three different versions of the song.  The main one is Whoopi's Mix and that's the one that appears on the actual soundtrack and is the version the video was made for.  Solid song for sure and I dig the percolating bassline that the track is built on.  Del's lyrics are sort of in an in between stage as well, he's not delving into the more complicated rhymes that would become the calling card of No Need For Alarm, but he's definitely upped the ante when compared to some of the songs from his debut.

The other two remixes, one by the SD50s and the other helmed by Del, are also good takes on this song.  I think I probably like Del's version the best of the three as the beat us upbeat and the bass riff is a head nodder.  While I wouldn't rank any of these versions if I were to list the very best Del tracks, that's not a knock on these.  Del's discography is pretty much the best one in the history of hip hop, in my humble opinion.  These tracks float around in the middle of the pack, but it's mostly due to how incredible his body of work is.

Del The Funky Homosapien - Made In America (Whoopi's Mix):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2DL6l9EvQk&ab_channel=UPROXXVideo

Del The Funky Homosapien - Made In America (Del's Mix):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QP1L4Q0-PY

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Beekeepers - Song Demos Cassette

Untitled

Self Released (2019)

I get a decent amount of tapes sent to me to review.  I hate tapes.  But, I don't mind hearing new bands, so when there is one that's good, it makes the slog worth it.  Unfortunately the vast, vast majority of the tapes that get sent to me are terrible (excluding most of those sent by Snappy Little Numbers, their track record is significantly higher than everyone else's).  Like really, really bad high school style punk rock bands.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and I get that, but that doesn't mean you have to send your tape to me.  I'll feel an obligation of guilt to actually write about the stupid thing.

That said, every so often a pretty decent tape slips through.  This Beekeepers cassette is one of them.  It's not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not terrible.  Jangle heavy guitars shimmering along to vaguely 60s style pop rock.  There's a hippie vibe for sure, but at least they've got the pop part down.  All of the songs have nice, melodic verses and reasonably catchy choruses.  Where they lose me a bit is the vocals.

The voice is something that will take some getting used to.  There's definitely something of a Muppets/Kermit vibe to them, which isn't inherently bad, but I found it a little bit distracting as I went through the tape.  Song Demos is a reasonably pleasant little cassette.  I wouldn't go out of my way to pick it up, but you could do worse than spending a few minutes digging through their songs on Bandcamp.

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

Friday, September 18, 2020

Record Store Day Haul #1: Archers of Loaf - Raleigh Days 7"

Untitled

Merge (2020)

Record Store Day lost its sizzle for me several years ago. At this point there's very little of interest to me in the never ending sea of rereleased, fifteen dollar 7"s from bands like Toto.  What started out as a cool way for independent record stores to get a few exclusives to drive people to the stores, quickly turned into a cash grab with overpriced and generally shitty releases.  That's not to say there aren't a few pieces of gold still out there.  Without fail there's always at least one release every year that I want and this year it was an Archers of Loaf 7".  This is the only record I bought this record store day, making it a haul of 1 record.  But it's a good one and I want to thank my buddy Scott for pointing me in the direction of an online store that was carrying it.

This was actually supposed to be the first new Archers single in twenty some odd years, but the pandemic pushing Record Store Day around means that it's now the second, with "Talking Over Talk" beating it to the punch.  Also due to the pandemic, I was just able to buy this online.  The record store I usually go to didn't seem to have the greatest policies for safety and social distancing, so I opted to hit refresh a couple hundred times from my computer instead.

As far as the songs go, I think that "Raleigh Days" is the best of the four that have been released so far.  It has an upbeat and driving rhythm with great guitar work and Eric Bachman's harsh, but wonderfully melodic vocals.  It takes me back to the sort of songs they were doing when Vee Vee came out.  And any chance to hear Archers blasting out noisy pop songs is a real treat for me.

The B side on this one is a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man."  It's actually a really good version of the song.  Archers do an excellent job of making the song their own musically.  But the vocal melody of the original is just so iconic, it's hard to make that sound like anything other than just a cover song.  It's a fun listen but I'm more interested in new Archers of Loaf songs.  I hope I get to hear more soon.

Archer of Loaf - Raleigh Days 7":
https://archersofloaf.bandcamp.com/album/raleigh-days-b-w-street-fighting-man

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Dr. Bombay 12"

Untitled

1992 (Elektra)

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

 If you've been reading any of my Wednesday posts, you've definitely read mention of Del The Funky Homosapien. He & his Hieroglyphics crew are responsible for my favorite releases in the history of hip hop. I had decided that I needed to get my hands on the various golden era singles from those groups as the B sides and remixes were sorely missing from my collection on vinyl. This one is the third and it's the final single from Del's first album.

The album version of "Dr. Bombay" is definitely one of the highlight's of Del's debut.  It didn't get the same sort of airplay that "Mistadobolina" received, but unlike "Sleepin' on My Couch," I do remember it being on Yo MTV Raps at least a couple of times.  For the remix on this single, the beat is not as layered as the album version, and the stripped down production really puts the emphasis on the lyrics.  In a lot of ways it sounds more in line with the styles Del would be known for in a couple of years.

The other remix is of "Hoodz Come in Dozens," this one tackled by the SD50s.  While good, I don't see it being the huge departure from the original the same way that the "Dr. Bombay" is.  The last track on this 12" is the previously unreleased "Eye Examination."  This one was produced by Del and again is a glimpse into what Del was going to unleash into the world when No Need For Alarm came out in 1993.  The beat has hints of Tribe Called Quest, but is still filtered though that bay area funk sound.  Del uses this canvas to put down the type of lyrics and rhyme structures that it seems only he can do.  Killer song and it's a shame that it's not one of his more well known tracks.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Dr. Bombay (Remix)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J4mx5_fJBM&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Eye Examination":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgJ8DqOfZBo&ab&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Monday, September 14, 2020

Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Fake Nature LP (/250)

Untitled

Big Neck (2020)

Despite the font size of Fake Nature being much larger on the album cover, the name of the band is Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  That's an excellent band name as both a movie reference and just a general bad ass name for a punk rock band.  I can't say I had super high expectations going in, the animal heads on the band members as their cover art made me wonder if this was going to just sound trashy, but as it turns out, I really dig this album quite a bit.

The band is absolutely a garage-y punk band at heart and I hear echos of the Carbonas on quite a few songs, particularly in the way the guitar riffs blast through.  The guitar tones are warm, but have just enough crackle to give the songs a tight, yet at the same time slightly ramshackle vibe to them.  Finding that balance is such a difficult thing to do and it maintains all of the band's energy while producing a record that doesn't sound like shit.  The majority of the vocals are carried by Sal Go and her delivery is powerful, but still pretty melodic at the end of the day.

The record is solid from start to finish, but I have to point out the song "Perverse Mortgage" in particular.  It's a bit of a change of pace from the rest of the album as it leans further away from the band's usual sound and reminds me a lot of the band Smalltown.  Just a little bit of bouncy, mod sounding guitar work and the band knocks the song completely out of the park.  This is a band definitely worth checking out.

Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Fake Nature:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb-fake-nature

Friday, September 11, 2020

Diaz Brothers - Diaz Brothers LP

Untitled

Boss Tuneage (2020)

In addition to his highly renown work with Leatherface, Dickie Hammond had is fingers in quite a few other incredible bands.  From HDQ to Doctor Bison, Stokoe to (Fatty) Jones, pretty much everything he touched turned to gold.  The hole that remains from losing Dickie is somewhat immeasurable, but when an album like this comes along it makes things feel a little less empty.

Diaz Brothers are something of a continuation of HDQ, but when Neil Cox joined up it was insisted that it be a new band, not HDQ without Dickie.  Over the course of this album's phenomenal ten tracks, the presence of Hammond looms large, but the album is stellar in its own right and is easily one of the best records I've listened to in 2020.

More than anything, I feel a kinship with the one album that The Jones released many moons ago.  For a long time, I've felt that it is an overlooked part of the UK melodic punk canon, but was always one of my very favorites.  Like Gravity Blues, this album's foundation is built on furious guitar riffs, interesting chord progressions and Golly's incredibly powerful vocals.  This is a band firing loudly on all cylinders, but with a keen grasp on songwriting that lets them weave melodies through, without ever sacrificing the oomph.

I've said many times that my favorite ever time in music was the early to mid 90s UK scene.  So many of my favorite bands came from there and so many more were influenced by that time.  This Diaz Brothers record is every bit as good as the very best from that time period.  Considering what a shit year 2020 has been, it's really nice to have a record this good to help get through the bad times.

Diaz Brothers - Diaz Brothers:
https://bosstuneagerecords.bandcamp.com/album/diaz-brothers

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Sleepin' On My Couch 12"

Untitled

Elektra (1991)

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

If you've been reading any of my Wednesday posts, you've definitely read mention of Del The Funky Homosapien. He & his Hieroglyphics crew are responsible for my favorite releases in the history of hip hop. I had decided that I needed to get my hands on the various golden era singles from those groups as the B sides and remixes were sorely missing from my collection on vinyl. The second 12" single that Del released was also from the I Wish My Brother George album, "Sleepin' On My Couch."

As a single, it's not really all that interesting.  Just the album version fo the song along with the instrumental.  On the B side is "Ahonetwo, Ahonetwo," the same as the B side for the "Mistadobolina" single.  Though this time out, it's just the album version and the album version instrumental.  No remixes here.  More than anything, I wanted this in my collection for the artwork and just for completist purposes.

As big a Del fan as I was and despite how frequent the "Mistadobolina" video got played on Yo MTV Raps, I have zero memories of ever seeing the video for "Sleepin' On My Couch" get played.  I've seen it on the internet since then, but back in the day, I'm not even sure I knew it was a single from the album.  It's a great fun song and was always one of the album tracks I gravitated towards, but I guess as a single, it just didn't make the same inroads as "Mistadobolina" did.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Sleepin' On My Couch":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m4Bxvkpnew&ab_channel=DelFunkeeHomosapien

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Ahonetwo, Ahonetwo":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p2vUsGKcTg&ab_channel=DelThaFunkeeHomosapien-Topic

Monday, September 7, 2020

Bauwave - U R Everything LP

Untitled

Salinas (2020)

U R Everything is the debut from Bauwaves, which likely explains why I hadn't heard of them prior to this record showing up recently.  At least that can be a partial reason, I sure feel like there are a ton of bands floating around these days that I'm unfamiliar with.  Regardless, Bauwaves are one of those bands so I had no frame of reference when I put this record on for the first time.

They first thing that struck me is the sludgy guitars and the fuzzed out vocals.  Though the band's Bandcamp page makes reference to early SST records, what jumped to my mind is early 90s Pacific Northwest noisy, indie rock.  I wouldn't have been shocked to hear this band on one of those Kill Rock Stars compilations that were particularly influential to me when I was figuring out music.  Though I'd probably most expect to find them on the Slice of Lemon comp.  Don't ask me to explain why, I just picture it in my head that way.

I probably would have liked this more in the 90s than I do now.  While I do not dislike it, the muddy production and the almost underwater-like vocals don't have the same currency with me today as they did when I was twenty.  Back then, if I had heard one of the faster songs like "Years Later" I probably would have at least gone digging around the record store bins to see if I could find a 7" of theirs to hear more.  But today, I don't see this as something I'll listen to all that much.  Though it definitely does have its moments.

 Bauwave - U R Everything:
https://bauwaves.bandcamp.com/album/u-r-everything

Friday, September 4, 2020

Pavement - Sensitive Euro Man Picture Disc

Untitled

Matador (2020)

Twenty-five years ago in 1995, Pavement released Wowee Zowee.  It was the first album I heard by them and to this day it remains my favorite.  I'll always be thankful for my friend Scott in high school playing the record for me.  In my opinion it is just an absolutely perfect record.  For its twenty-fifth anniversary, Matador has reissued the record on vinyl, and while I don't need another copy of the full length, I did need to pick up the little bonus record they put out with it.

This shaped picture disc is meant to mimmic the speech bubble on the cover of Wowee Zowee and the flip side image on this is all yellow and says "PAVEMENT?" across it, along with the track information. It contains two songs.  The A side is "Sensitive Euro Man" originally from the I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack.  On the B side is "Brink Of The Clouds/Candylad."  This was from a 1994 radio session that was recorded in Australia.  Both songs are interesting and showcase the weirder side of Pavement, but I don't think either really warrant a standalone shaped picture disc.

These tracks were both collected on the special edition 2xCD Wowee Zowee set that came out some years ago, the Sordid Sentinels edition.  That release contained a ton of B-sides and rarities.  I really wish that rather than creating an expensive picture disc with two songs, Matador had gone forward and released all of that material on vinyl.  They started that process awhile ago by putting out Secret History Vol. 1, focusing on the extra tracks from the Slanted and Enchanted era, but the project never went past that release.

I for one would have taken Vol. 3 over this release any day.  While this picture disc is neat looking, it's mostly just a fancy trinket to add to my collection of Pavement records.  There's no way I wouldn't have bought it as I need to keep my collection as complete as I possibly can, but it's not something I'd ever listen to all that much.  Now Secret History Vol. 3?  I'd listen to that all of the time.

Pavement - "Sensitive Euro Man":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFDbhqkr4iw

Pavement - "Brink Of The Clouds/Candylad":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGTzHvMOUa4

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Mistadobolina 12"

Untitled

Elektra (1991)

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

If you've been reading any of my Wednesday posts, you've definitely read mention of Del The Funky Homosapien.  He & his Hieroglyphics crew are responsible for my favorite releases in the history of hip hop.  I had decided that I needed to get my hands on the various golden era singles from those groups as the B sides and remixes were sorely missing from my collection on vinyl.  The first one up is the very first Del single, "Mistadobolina."

The album version of this song is the one that got me hooked on Del when I was in eighth grade in 1991.  That video playing on Yo MTV Raps would end up being so profoundly important in my musical education and the album version fo the song appears on this 12" along with a remix.  The remix is solid and has a good beat to it, but it doesn't really compare to the much more well known original.  The other album track that makes an appearance is "Ahonetwo, Ahonetwo."  Again, a great album track along with a really fun remix.  I think that it's better than the "Mistadobolina" remix, but it's still not as strong as the original album version.

The real highlight of this single is the exclusive track "Burnt."  This is a Hieroglyphics posse cut and marks the very first time Casual and members of Souls of Mischief would appear on wax.  This is a fantastic song and really showcases the sound that Hieroglyphics would go on to cultivate and in many ways perfect over the next few years.  It's not dripping with P-funk the way Del's full length is, but instead it showcases the collective's homegrown sound. Listening to it now and realizing it came out in 1991 is pretty nuts.  It feels way ahead of its time, both in production and in the lyrical dexterity that the crew would soon become known for.

Del The Funky Homosapien ft. Hieroglyphics - "Burnt":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVsrIeveDAI

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Mistadobalina (Remix)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVLGYREn4-s

Monday, August 31, 2020

Broken Record - I Died Laughing Cassette

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

Let's get it out of the way.  Cassette.  Boo.  And the reason I have to say that specifically with this release is because I really like and wish it was released on vinyl instead of being committed to tape purgatory in my record collection.  Let's be honest, of course I have some tapes in my collection.  It's the only format certain records are available in.  But I hardly ever listen to the actual cassettes.  I'll pop the MP3s on to my iPod and listen that way while working, but I rarely get the same sort of sit-down-and-listen time that I put into vinyl records.  That's my fault more than anything, but again, sure wish this one was on vinyl.

The reason for that is that this tape is a wonderful slice of fuzzy guitar pop.  It has a 90s throwback vibe that makes me think they would have been an excellent companion for one of those early Jimmy Eat World split 7"s.  I'm specifically thinking in the Jejune, Christie Front Drive category.  Broken Record has the pop hooks, but they also bring a health dollop of melodic melancholy to the table.

Combine this wonderful 90s vibe with some killer vocal harmonies and you've got the makings of an album really worth going out of your way to check out.  Who knows, maybe if they blow through all of those tapes and the unrelenting demand is there, a vinyl release could someday happen.  This is one of those records that definitely deserves it.  Good stuff.

Broken Records - I Died Laughing:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/i-died-laughing

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Mr. T Experience - Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Disorder (1986)

At this point in my record collecting career, there aren't too many grail items left on my want list.  Yes, I am still searching high and low for that first Love As Laughter cassette and I have started to become resigned to the fact that I will never find that one, but I have tracked down the vast majority of records that once seemed elusive.  This red vinyl version of the first Mr. T Experience album is one of those records that was practically a myth for a long time.

When I first started listening to MTX, their current record was ...And The Women Who Love Them.  I then began the process of picking up as many of their records as I could find.  Their first three records were out of print at that point and I actually bought Night Shift and Big Black Bugs on cassette at first as that is all I could find.  One day I was speaking to my buddy Alan about these records and record collecting in general and he spun a story of a friend of his that got into record collecting a few years prior.

The story went that he sat in his room and just started writing letters to people listed in zines and acquired a ton of very difficult to find records.  Sometimes I think we all forget how much easier things are these days with eBay and Discogs.  Getting records on your want list in the 90s required actually going to places.  I had to go to England to get the Leatherface and Mega City Four records I was looking for.  Anyway, back to the letter writer.  The big reveal in Alan's story was that as part of this deluge of communication, said writer found a copy of Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion on vinyl.  But not only that, he found a copy on RED VINYL.

That was the first time I had ever heard of this variant and it was years until I actual saw reference to it existing on the internet.  I have seen this version for sale a few times over the years.  Typically when I have seen it for sale on discogs it was in the $150-$200 range, though a quick perusal of their past sales indicate it has gone for lower.  Over $100 was a bit more than I felt comfortable paying.  I already have the black vinyl pressing and that much money seemed a bit extravagant just for a different color.  But I've kept my eye out over the years and it finally paid off as this copy showed up, also on Discogs, for $50.  A more than reasonable amount and I'm thrilled to finally have a copy of my own.

Now the record itself, is it my favorite Mr. T Experience record? No it's not.  This is their first record from 1986 and the band improved with leaps and bounds in the following years.  But there's a handful of fun songs and there's the youthful exuberance of a band finding their way that is charming in its own way.  For me, the most notable thing about this record is that it was the first.  The foundation that helped build a band that would become one of my all time favorites.  When I remember that, I also remember that more than a record, it's a piece of history and one I'm happy to have.

It probably makes no sense, but it makes my life feel just a little more complete to have this record on red vinyl.  Even if it will mostly end up sitting on my shelf next to the black vinyl copy that I hardly ever play, there's something very comforting about it being there.

The Mr. T Experience - Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion (YouTube Music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kvBtfSbTFmV69PVUI4fxTAE8ND8TGUiao