Wednesday, May 22, 2019

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


Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pancreas":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Trapped in the Drive Thru":

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Emptiness 7"


K.O.G.A. (2018)

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

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

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Herzog - Me vs. You LP


Exit Stencil (2019)

It's been quite a few years since the release of Herzog's last album in 2014.  I wasn't sure that they were coming back, to be honest, but luckily Me. vs. You is finally here.  Once again these guys have cobbled together a really strong album full of guitar pop songs.  It's a little less Blue album and a little more Mikal Cronin this time out, but it's still a strong listen.

Right off the bat things start up on a high note with opener "Music Was The Language From When I Mattered."  It's a fast and fuzzy blast of hooks and harmonies, giving me everything I want out of a Herzog song.  When the next song hits, that's when you'll notice things are a bit more varied this time out.  "Winter 2014" is much slower than I would have figured and has a real Beck/Sea Change vibe to it.  It's a good song, but somewhat unexpected.

From there, the album jumps around a bit between the more upbeat and catchy songs and the slower more melodic ones.  I definitely prefer the faster ones and think they're the highlights of the record.  Not that the slower ones don't hold up, but I think if you swapped out one or two for some punchier songs, I'd probably dig the record even more.

Herzog - Me vs. You:

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last CD


Bill Clinton (2019)

Unlikely Friends put out yet another CD.  Still waiting for some vinyl from these guys, but at least they aren't putting out cassettes.  This one is a limited edition album that contains twelve cover songs of other Pacific Northwest bands.  It's a pretty fun idea and they manage to tackle some bands that I really love.  That some of them are pretty under the radar or perhaps forgotten by the sands of time is just a bonus.

I'll start out by saying that I can't believe there's a Flop cover on here.  Flop was such an incredible band, but they are also one that I fear is being lost as time goes by.  Unlikely Friends cover "Hello" and while I personally would have picked "Anne" they do a tremendous job with this incredible track from & the Fall of the Mopsqueezer.  Whereas on the Flow version the song starts off acoustic, Unlikely Friends gives it the barbershop quartet treatment before the guitars roar in.  I love it.

Over the course of the album, Unlikely Friends pay tribute to some incredible bands and songs including "Is This Real" (by the Wipers), "Your Asterisk" (by Halo Benders), "In The Summer" (by Fastbacks) and "Ontario" (by The Posies).  I could really list every song on this CD.  There's not a dud in the bunch and it showcases Unlikely Friends talent of adapting themselves to the sounds of some very different bands.  It looks like the CD is sold out, but you can still download the digital version for Name Your Price on Bandcamp.

Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last:

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Poodle Hat LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

Poodle Hat came out after I was out of college and was working in music doing radio promotion.  It had been a really long time since there had been a Weird Al record and it just sort of snuck up on me one day.  It was also some time after this record came out that I finally saw Al's live show.  A friend of mine got me tickets and we went out to somewhere in Long Island or Staten Island or some Island to see him play.  It was a blast.

This record specifically is a mid range Weird Al record for me, there are some incredible songs (all originals) like "Why Does This Always Happen To Me," "Genius in France" and "Bob."  There's also one of Al's absolute masterpieces in "Hardware Store."  This one goes a million miles an hour and is crammed full of insane hardware lyrics and truly ludicrous shopping list style breakdown that I just can't do justice to.

I don't really know the parodies that well to be honest, other than I really hate the Billy Joel song "Piano Man," so I don't think I've made it all the way through "Ode To A Superhero" when I had listed to this on CD.  There's an Eminem one "Couch Potato" which I've at least heard the original one of.  There's also a Nelly one and a Avril Lavigne one, but I had to look those up on Wikipedia to figure that out.  It's a mixed bag of an album, as the years go by I know less and less about the parodies, but the Al originals are always a treat and Poodle Hat is no exception.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Hardware Store":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Why Does This Always Happen To Me":

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Giggly Boys - Another Close Call 7" - Red Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

It's been a little bit since Snappy Little Numbers put out a 7" and I was happy to see their distinctive record sleeve when I opened up this Giggly Boys record.  They're not a band I had heard of prior to getting this record in the mail, but like most of the Snappy Little Numbers bands, they are a-ok in my book.

Side A starts off with "Another Close Call," drenched in reverb and sporting vocals that sound a lot like Frank Black to me.  There's enough lead guitar to give the song depth and texture, but not so much as to be over bearing or self indulgent.  It really sounds quite a bit like a song that would have been an outtake from Teenager Of The Year and that's not a bad thing at all.

The B side is a little more straightforward and poppy.  "Dead Again" is shorter and more concise than the A side and I probably like it a little bit more since it appeals to the pop kid in me.  It has a real 90s flair and does still have a Pixies/Frank Black vibe to it, but isn't quite as obvious as "Another Close Call."

Giggly Boys - Another Close Call 7":

Monday, May 13, 2019

Odd Numbers - About Time LP


Beer City (2018, Reissue)

I first heard of Odd Numbers from their singles compilation album Jazz Cigarettes.  It came out on Munster records and I was lucky that my record store of choice in the 90s always stocked a good amount of Munster vinyl.  That's how I was able to get my hands on Sicko and Bum vinyl back in the pre-internet days.  I picked up Odd Numbers at the recommendation of my buddy Alan and was pretty blown away by their mod pop sounds.  While Jazz Cigarettes will always be my favorite, I've tried to keep up with their other albums over the year, several of which have been denied a vinyl release.

That changes with this Beer City reissue of the first Odd Numbers record About Time.  It was originally released on Cassette and then on CD.  This is the first time it's been on vinyl and it sounds great.  The throwback vibe of the Odd Numbers always seemed best suited to listing to on a turntable.  Their bouncy hooks and Rickenbacker twang blending together to create some pretty perfect pop songs.

Several of these songs are also on Jazz Cigarettes and I have to say they tend to be my favorites, but I think that's mostly due to my familiarity with them as I had Jazz Cigarettes for a few years before I had tracked down the original CD version of It's About Time.  "Little Kings and Queens," "Holiday" and "If I Only Had You" sound as great as they did the very first time I heard them.  Their version of "Sweet Soul Music" that closes the record is also a highlight.  For a while there was a rumor that this cover was unlicensed in some way and resulted in the CD going out of print.  I don't actually know if that's true and can't find any proof that was the case, but I'm happy the song is on the vinyl.

Odd Numbers - "Holiday":

Odd Numbers - "If I Only Had You":

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hot Snakes - Treat Yourself 7" - Red Vinyl (338/1000)


PU (2018)

This 7" was a tour only release from the Hot Snakes jaunt across Europe at the end of 2018.  It entered my possession due to the never ending kindness of Fredrik from Chester Copperpot and Gamla Pengar.  When I realized that the Snakes were hitting Sweden on this tour, I reached out to Fredrik and wouldn't you know it, he's as wonderful as ever.  A truly great man and I thank him immensely.

I did see Hot Snakes this weekend and they were actually selling the leftovers at the merch booth, so this isn't an impossible find just yet.  But I have to say I love the copy the Fredrik sent me way more than I would have just picking it up in Jersey City.  There's something special when punks from around the world work together to help each other out.  Just makes me warm and tingly just thinking about it.

The two songs on this 7" are as incredible as anything else in the Hot Snakes catalog.  If you love the full lengths you'll love this 7".  A side "Treat Yourself" is a mid tempo rocker in the vein of songs like "Light Up The Stars" or "Bye Nancy Boy."  It's my favorite of the two and arguably my favorite kind of Hot Snakes songs.  I don't think they get enough credit for how poppy some of their songs are.  This one is killer.

On the B side is Ungallant, Coarse and Rude; the latest entry in the _______, _______ and _______ series from John Reis bands.  This one is a burner, somewhat similar in execution to "Why Don't It Sink In" from Jericho Sirens or the opening five songs on Audit in Progress, but with a more melodic chorus/breakdown thing worked in.  Unsurprisingly it's great.  I love this band so much.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Running With Scissors LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

When I was in college I worked at a butcher shop/deli.  We did some catering too and occasionally I would make the catering deliveries.  People suck at tipping, just an FYI.  If I carry 10 chafing dishes into your living room and light all of those little sterno heating things, at least hit me with a five spot, you know?  I'm in college and could have used that to buy a 7".  Anyway, I bring this up because I had to make a delivery the day this record came out, so I stopped at the mall and picked this up.  While I was on the clock.  Bonus.  More than anything I remember how bizarre it was to see Al on the cover without classes.  He got his eyes fixed with lasers.  Dudes with glasses everywhere mourned.

As for the record itself, it's not one of my favorites.  The parodies are mostly of songs I either don't know or that are really bad.  His Offspring send up "Pretty Fly For A Rabbi" is painful to listen to.  I know that people love "The Saga Begins," but I hate the song "American Pie" so it's not one I can listen to often.  I don't really know most of the others.  The originals are better, but most aren't that great either. 

What really saves this record are two songs.  "Your Horoscope For Today" is a ska song, so it's upbeat and catchy, but lyrically it's a ton of fun with Al breaking down ridiculous horoscopes for each of the astrological signs.  The other song that saves this album is "Alburquerque."  It's completely and utterly insane with eleven and a half minutes of the craziest story telling Al has ever recorded.  It's a song that is difficult to describe and really needs to be heard to be believed.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Your Horoscope For Today":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Alburquerque":

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Record Store Day Haul #2: Otis Redding - Do It One More Time LP - Red Vinyl


Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation (2019)

The second and final Record Store Day album I picked up this year (online, not in store due to illness) was this Otis Redding LP.  As I'm sure many know, I absolutely love Otis Redding and reviewing the various albums in his box set this past year was a ton of fun.  There are still a few posthumous albums that weren't part of that box set that I need to add to my collection, but Record Store Day gave me the chance to add his iconic set from the Monterey Pop Festival.

This is the first time the entire Stax set has been released including the three song opening set by the Booker T & The M.G.s with The Mar-Keys.  Those three songs are "Booker-Loo," "Philly Dog" and "Hip Hug Her."  Booker T is another one of my favorites, having become familiar with them via the Blues Brothers as I did with so many other classic soul bands.  "Philly Dog" is the highlight of the set with the Mar-Keys horns just sounding so great.

With all of these years of hindsight, it seems kind of weird that Otis Redding only played five songs at the Monterey Pop Festival.  Considering how important it is looked upon by history as his breakout moment, I'm not sure I knew it was essentially only a half set.  That said, it's a ridiculous great set with definitive versions of songs like "Shake," "Satisfaction" and "Respect."  I'm thrilled to have it in the collection.

Booker T and the M.G.s - "Hip Hug Her":

Otis Redding - "Shake" (There's also another live song, but not from Monterey, tacked on to this youtube video)

Otis Redding - "Satisfaction":

Monday, May 6, 2019

Record Store Day Haul #1: Weezer - Dusty Gems & Raw Nuggets - Blue Vinyl


Geffen (2019)

As the years have gone by, Record Store Day gets sillier and sillier with fewer and fewer releases I have any interest in.  This year was a little better than most, but there was nothing I had any intention of lining up in the middle of the night for.  On top of that, I got really sick that weekend so for the first time since the very first Record Store Day, I didn't get to go out to Vintage Vinyl at all.  Luckily, I was able to snag the two records I wanted the most online the day after.  I even could have grabbed the Frank Black and Green Day records as well, but once I had them in my cart, I decided I just didn't want to spend that much money.  I stuck with the two I wanted the most, the first of which is Weezer.

This LP collects all of the B sides, live  and compilation tracks of the Blue Album era along with a handful of unreleased songs.  The B sides are outstanding, with "Susanne," "Mykel and Carli"and "Jamie" being as good as any songs the band ever released.  "Jamie" in particular is a pretty important track to me personally as it was the first Weezer song I ever heard.  It was part of the DGC Rarities Vol. 1 compilation that I had bought for an unreleased Beck song.  Discovered a few great bands from that comp.

The live acoustic songs are a lot of fun, though the non-acoustic live ones aren't as interesting.  When it comes to the unreleased songs, it's a mixed bag. "Only in Dreams" and "Lullaby for Wayne" are decent enough with the hooks where they need to be.  Maybe not quite as realized as other tracks from the era, but totally solid.  "Paperface" and "I Swear It's True," on the other hand, aren't very good at all and it's pretty understandable why they never came out in 1994.  They just can't hold a candle to any of the songs that were released.

Weezer - "Jamie":

Weezer - "Suzanne":

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sista Brytet - Dead Before You Know It 7" (Transparent Cover)


No Front Teeth / Luftslott ‎(2019)

I discovered Sweden's Sista Brytet via a review of their most recent full length album that was in Razorcake.  I read the review, checked out a couple songs online and bought that full length and this 7" from their Bandcamp page.  I will get to their LP in the next few weeks, but wanted to start out with this 7" as it's their newest release having only come out a few weeks ago.

The four songs on this 7" are all in English, which is different from the LP which is virtually all in Swedish.  While either language is fine by me, this 7" might make a better entry point for some, particularly as all four songs are outstanding.  The band is able to go from a Marked Men like approach to breakneck pop on "Dead Before You Know It" to a slower more melodic Gentleman Jesse style rocker like "The Revolution Is On The Next Stop" to an upbeat, piano heavy 50's type blast like "Billy Bragg."

The thing that all of the songs on this 7" have in common is that they are ridiculously catchy and teeming with energy.  Being able to find a record like this is one of the main reasons that I will always have a subscription to Razorcake.  I still love being able to stumble across a new band that just knocks my socks off.  It's also one of the main reasons I've been doing this stupid website for over seven years now.  From time to time, I hope I'm able to help someone else discover a new band they may not have heard of otherwise.

Sista Brytet - Dead Before You Know It 7":

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bad Hair Day LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

As I mentioned last week, Alapalooza didn't really do much for me and I didn't hear from Al again until 1996, when I was in college.  Bad Hair Day reminded me how much I loved Weird Al and put his discography back on track for me.  It probably helped that in 1996 you couldn't escape Coolio no matter how hard you tried, so I did actually have a reference point for "Amish Paradise."  Lyrically it's a pretty stellar song.  I also enjoyed his take on The Presidents of the United States of America with "Gump" his Forrest Gump tinged version of "Lump."

I don't really know any of the other parodies, but the originals on Bad Hair Day are excellent.  "Everything You Know Is Wrong" is a super upbeat They Might Be Giants style number.  There's also the a cappella doo wop "Since You've Been Gone" and an Elvis Costello fueled "I'm So Sick Of You."

That said, my absolute favorite song on this album is "The Alternative Polka."  In my opinion this is the best of Weird Al's polka medleys, I think in part because of the contrast of the silliness of the polka tempo and the seriousness of the lyrics of a lot of the songs included.  Included in the polka are Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Green Day and many more.  I'm also convinced that the Alanis Morissette song "You Outta Know" is a tremendously written pop song due to Al's reworking of it.  This song alone would make Bad Hair Day my favorite Weird AL record of the 90s, but luckily there's lots of other goodies that make the whole album pretty darn enjoyable.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "The Alternative Polka":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Everything You Know Is Wrong":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Amish Paradise":

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Something - Still Plaing... CD


Dish and Plate (2017)

(Update - 04/30/19)

I wanted to update this post quickly with the artwork for the incredible Something CD I wrote about a few weeks ago.  I was contacted by Tommy (@tommynyo on twitter) from the band who was kind enough to send me the artwork.  I'll say it again, this is a fantastic album and absolutely one worth tracking down if you enjoy melodic punk rock from Japan as much as I do.

(Original Review):

I have no idea where I got this CD from.  I assume it must have come in one of the Waterslide packages that Kazu sent me, but it's been sitting in a pile of stuff in my room.  I don't have any artwork for it, just this disc.  Recently, I realized I hadn't ever played it and popped it into the CD player.  Wouldn't you know it, it's actually a pretty great album that's been hiding out in my room for about a year now.

This ten song album is full on melodic punk rock from Japan, with the hooks in all of the right places and singalong choruses.  This album is on the poppier side of the Japanese punk spectrum and I think they have more in common with bands like Hateman than they do with I Excuse.  The standout tracks for me are "Lost One's Face" and "Something."  Normally, I'm not into bands that have songs that are named after the band's name, but both of these songs are fast, dynamic rockers with killers hooks.

I'm really impressed with this CD.  It's great and has totally taken my by surprise.  I would really like to get ahold of the artwork that goes with the CD, so if anyone happens to have a sleeve with no CD in it, please let me know, it's probably mine.

Something - "Something":

Monday, April 29, 2019

Gentleman Jesse & His Men - Bryan 7" (/200)


Wild Honey (2019)

It's been so long since there was a new release from Gentleman Jesse that I thought there would never been another one.  Then, out of nowhere, Wild Honey announced that they would be selling a new two song 7" at the Fuzzville Festival in Spain, limited to two hundred copies.  Well, I knew there was no way I was getting to Spain and I don't think I know anyone in Spain who could have picked one up for me, so I started to stress out about how I was going to get my hands on this record.

I wish I had a really creative story about how I was able to track one down, but inexplicably a copy just popped up on Discogs a few weeks ago.  I grabbed it immediately at a very reasonable price as I would have been willing to pay significantly more if necessary.  I'm very lucky to have been able to get this record and I have to just chalk it up to dumb luck, but I'll take it.

The two new songs on this 7" were recorded during the Leaving Atlanta sessions.  A side "Bryan" is upbeat and reminds me of my very favorite Gentleman Jesse song "I Don't Wanna Know."  On the B side is "Hate To See You Say."  This one has a slower tempo, more reminiscent of the lower key moments of Leaving Atlanta, but still every bit a poppy of an earworm as anything else Jesse has ever release.

I'm really thrilled to finally have a few new Gentleman Jesse songs.  I can only hope this somehow leads to another album one day.  Jesse writes some of my very favorite songs and I just want to hear more of them.

Gentleman Jesse & His Men - "Bryan":

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Denomi - It's Never Too Late, Go Forward CD


With One Accord (2019)

From the very second that Kazu from Waterslide sent me a link to the Denomi video for the song "Move On," I knew that this was a band I was going to love.  Once I got the CD and was able to listen to all eleven songs, I ended up loving them even more than I thought I was going to.  This is a spectacular album and one of the absolute best things you could possibly listen to this year.

Denomi reminds me most of bands like Peace of Bread and one of my all time favorites, Cigaretteman.  They combine fast and catchy pop punk guitar chords with a mix of male and female vocals that creates an album that is incredibly dynamic and so much fun to listen to.  When I hear songs like the aforementioned "Move On" or ones like "Now Or Never" or "Seize The Day" I can't sit still.  I reflexively just start banging my hands on whatever piece of furniture is handy in time with the drums and shaking my head along with the vocal melodies.  This is the kind of music you can just lose yourself in when played at maximum volume.

My favorite song on the entire record is "Cream Soda."  The vocals are unbelievably catchy and I always end up singing along the second the verse hits.  If you can't tell, I love this album.  I really wish there was a vinyl version of it available and I would buy it in a second if anyone decided to release it.  This Denomi record will be in the fight for my album of the year in 2019.  It's worth whatever it takes to hunt down a copy.

Denomi - "Move On":

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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


Pledge Music (2017)

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

Alapalooza is one of the Weird Al albums I have the least connection to.  It's another one that came out when I was in high school when I was particularly deep into my early 90s hip hop obsession.  None of the parodies really hit for me, despite the fact that I've always had a soft spot for the song "MacArthur Park" that I can't really explain.  "Jurassic Park" doesn't really live up to the ridiculousness of the original.  Other than that we have Red Hot Chili Peppers parodies about the Flintstones and a parody of Billy Ray Cyrus that was a lot easier to skip on the CD version I had.

Even the originals aren't particularly great.  "Frank's 2000" TV" is probably the highlight with it's breezy R.E.M. vibe, but others like "Young, Dumb & Ugly" and "She Never Told Me She Was A Mime" kind of fall flat for me.  Even the album's polka song isn't that great as it's just a polka style version of one song, "Bohemian Rhapsody."  It's not bad, it just isn't very exciting.  If forced to choose, I'd say this is my least favorite Weird Al record.  There are a couple of good moments, but it's mostly skippable.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Frank's 2000" TV":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Traffic Jam":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Harvey The Wonder Hamster":

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Hum Hums - Battle Line 7"


Waterslide/Eccentic Pop/Monster Zero/One Chord Wonder (2018)

I really love The Hum Hums.  They are one of my current favorite bands and the fact that I got to see them play while I was in Tokyo will always be something that's very special to me.  Battle Line is a four song 7" that highlights everything that I love about this band.

"Baby Mine (No One But You)" starts things off with an uptempo chord progression and a hooky chorus with the band's trademark backing vocal harmonies that give any band a run for their money.  "The Girl From Romania" slows this down just a bit, and has a feel to it that reminds me of mid 90s era The Mr. T Experience.

First up on the B side is the title track "Battle Line."  This one is a punchy blast of crunchy guitar and is a pretty straightforward pop punk song.  The final song, "I Can't Take It," is my personal favorite of the bunch, once again because of the absolutely tremendous vocal harmonies.  I've definitely caught myself singing along to the chorus on this one.

The Hum Hums are great.  I've yet to hear a song by them that I didn't love and I'm glad they keep putting out more records.  Hopefully they'll have another full length coming soon.

The Hum Hums - Battle Line 7":

Monday, April 22, 2019

Good Shade - Way Out LP


Dirtnap (2019)

I'm really happy to see Good Shade releasing an album on Dirtnap records.  Since I picked up their first LP that came out after the dissolution of Tight Bros, I've always thought that they would fit well in the Dirtnap sonic landscape and there's nothing that I like more than being right.  Way Out is the fourth Good Shade album I've bought and I think it's probably my favorite of the bunch (Though I'm surprised it's called Way Out and not Dinner as the last two Good Shade albums were called Breakfast and Lunch).

Good Shade have a Marked Men vibe going on for sure and that's the main reason why I though Dirtnap would be a good home for them.  The album starts off with hyper speed drumming that meshes in with interesting chord progressions to create a canvas for the soaring vocal melodies.  As the album progresses, the velocity comes down a notch, but the hooks never waver.  While the B side is more low key than the songs that came before it, in a lot of ways this is where Good Shade really shines.

There isn't a bad song in the bunch, but the faster ones that stand out most to me are album opener "Maybe" and "Must Have Been."   "I Don't Want Anymore" and "Just Leave" are my favorite of the slower batch.  If you are into albums by Chinese Telephones, Steve Adamyk Band or Mike Krol I'd be shocked if Way Out didn't end up in your record collection.  Birds of a feather and all...

Good Shade - Way Out:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Modern Gooddays - This Is The Modern Gooddays World That I've Learnt About CD


Fixing A Hole (2018)

I had a split CD with Modern Gooddays on it so I wan't completely unprepared for this album when I listened to it for the first time.  But even with being somewhat familiar with the band, I still couldn't believe how much Snuff and Dillinger Four influence comes through on Modern Gooddays' first full length album.

The singer of this band sounds so much like Paddy from Dillinger Four that I almost refuse to believe it's a different person.  It's eerie how similar their inflection and delivery is and you can particularly hear it on the songs "Got For It" and "Sunshine Girl."  If you told me these were outtakes from the D4 Vs. God album, I'd have no reason to doubt you.

The other band that Moddern Gooddays obviously has a lot of admiration for is Snuff.  You can hear it in the chord progressions, you can hear it in the song structures and you can hear it in the organ that's prevalent on quite a few songs.  Where I hear it the most is on "Nick."  It sounds so much like the Snuff song "Marbles" it's kind of crazy.  The heavy Snuff influence is also very noticeable on the instrumental track "Rhinorrhagia" which obviously owes a debt of gratitude to the Snuff instrumental "Bit Cosy."

Don't mistake me pointing these similarities out as any sort of complaint.  The Modern Gooddays have put out a great record, chock full of moments inspired by some of my favorite bands to ever release music,  If you dig Snuff or Dillinger Four, it seems inconceivable to me that you wouldn't also enjoy Modern Gooddays.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Off The Deep End LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

Off The Deep End came out in 1992 and by that time I was in high school and pretty locked in to listening to hip hop.  This album totally snuck up on me at the time as I had heard nothing about it until I stumbled across a cassingle of "Smells Like Nirvana" at Sam Goody one day.  When I finally picked up the album I enjoyed it, but this was the first time where I didn't really know a lot of the songs that were being parodied.  I can't say I was particularly familiar with New Kids on the Block ("The White Stuff") or Milli Vanilli ("The Plumbing Song") at the time.

"Smells Like Nirvana" is outstanding and I do like the "Rico Suave" parody "Taco Grande," but the Al originals really were the highlight of Off The Deep End for me.  "Trigger Happy," "I Was Only Kidding" and "You Don't Love Me Anymore" are among the strongest songs on this album along with the excellent polka medley "Polka Your Eyes Out."

This was a definite transitional record as it was released when I was really trying to figure out what I wanted out of music.  It's a great record, but it doesn't hit me quite as strongly as the ones that had come before it.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Smells Like Nirvana":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "I was Only Kidding":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Smells Like Nirvana":

Monday, April 15, 2019

Potty Mouth - SNAFU LP - Blue Vinyl

Get Better (2019)

I will admit that when I first saw the name Potty Mouth, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  I can't say it's one of my favorite band names that I've heard.  But as I've mentioned several times, anyone with multiple Goober Patrol albums in their collection can't get hung up on a silly band name.  Name aside, I adore every second of this record and it is easily one of my very favorite albums of 2019 so far.

The easiest comparison that I can make is that to me, SNAFU sounds like an album released by a female fronted Fig Dish.  Both bands have a slick production that still captures the energy of their songs and both have a complete mastery of crafting choruses with amazingly catchy hooks.  The other reason that I like this album as much as I do is because, like Fig Dish, it sounds like it could have been released in 1995.  If this album came out twenty some odd years ago it would fit right in with any of the great pop rock records of the era.

That isn't to say this is just a nostalgic throwback album.  SNAFU sounds so fresh and exciting to my ears with "22," "Liar" and "Smash Hit" being true standouts on the record.  My absolute favorite song is album closer "Bottom Feeder."  It's a slower song with a quieter verse that builds into an explosive chorus that Weezer or Fountains of Wayne wishes they could have written.  This is quite simply an excellent record that should be in the wheelhouse of anyone that likes fun guitar pop.

Potty Mouth - SNAFU:

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Baby Blue / Triple Junk - Split 7"


Self Released (2018)

I picked up this split 7" as I really loved a Triple Junk 7" I bought last year.  Once a band like that gets their hooks in me, I'm always going to try to hunt down other records if I can find them.  Luckily I had some help acquiring this one.

We'll start off with Baby Blue as they are a band I hadn't heard of prior to this 7",  Their first song, "I Don't Wanna Be Your Sorry" is a mid tempo crunchy rock and roll song.  It reminds me a little bit of Blew for some reason, but with a much, much more prominent 60s rock flair to them.  The lead guitar solo in the middle is a little ridiculous, but it's a solid song.  "I Can't Let You Go" takes things down a notch and has a much more melodic feel to it.  I'm usually the sort that prefers the faster songs, but this time out the slower one gets my vote.

Triple Junk was the band I bought this 7" for and their songs do not disappoint.  I still think that they have a slight Gentleman Jesse feel to them, but if Jesse's songs were filtered through a band like Three Minute Movie.   "Make Up My Mind" has a slick verse built off of hanging guitar chords and bass guitar.  When the chorus kicks in is where this song shines.  Their 2nd contribution "Tax" has a bouncier feel to it with a choppy guitar driven verse and a hooky chorus that wouldn't be out of place on an early Weezer record.

Baby Blue / Triple Junk - Split 7":

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

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


Pledge Music (2017)

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

Technically this album is called UHF Original Motion Picture Soundtrack And Other Stuff, but that's a lot to write in the title of this review considering I'm already taking up a lot of room noting this is from the box set.  This is one of my favorite Weird Al records and in some ways marks the end of an era for Al's releases, at least the way they impacted me.

This was probably the last Weird Al record that I loved from start to finished and I actually know all of the original songs that were being parodied.  Once Off The Deep End came out, there were a lot (and I mean A LOT) of parodies on his albums that I had no idea what the originals were about.  UHF had parodies of songs I knew like "Isle Thing" ("Wild Thing" by Tone Loc), "She Drives Like Crazy" ("She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals) and "Spam" ("Stand" by R.E.M.).  "Spam" in particular is an absolute joy to listen to.  It probably helped that I knew the original so well from it being the theme song to the TV show Get A Life.

Al's originals are also top shelf this time out.  The title track is a super catchy rocker.  "Attack Of The Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near Mars" is a worthy sequel to "Slime Creatures from Outer Space."  And "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota" ranks as one of my favorite Weird Al songs ever.  Some say "Albuquerque" is his epic masterpiece, but for me I'll take the nearly seven minute long opus about a trip to Minnesota every time.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Spam":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Attack Of The Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near Mars":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota":

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Hateman - Neverland 7"


H&M (2017)

Hateman is one of my favorite discoveries from Japan in the last few years.  I absolutely loved their 2018 full length Radio Hate and I have been on the lookout for anything else I could get my hands on.  Luckily I was able to grab this two song 7" from the Waterslide records distro.

I had pretty high expectations going into this 7", considering how great their last album was.  I'm happy to say those expectations were met and both songs are outstanding.  I still think Hateman remind me a little bit of the band Popcatcher as both bands are masters of crafting ultra catchy vocal melodies with the sort of backing harmonies that never cease to get lodged in my brain.

A side "Neverland" is built off of minimal, jangly guitar in the verse, with the bass driving the majority song.  When we hit the chorus, the guitars get a little bit louder and the backing vocals soar.  It's so great.  On the B side we have "Boys Keep Out Tonight" which is my favorite of the two.  It's a little bit faster and the guitars are more in the forefront, but again the strength of the band is how great the vocals are.  It's impossible to not sing along to "boys, boys, boy" and "girls, girls, girls" for about seven hours after listening to this.  It's just that damn catchy.

Hateman - Neverland 7":

Monday, April 1, 2019

Steve Adamyk Band - Paradise LP - Yellow (/200) & Black Vinyl


Dirtnap (2019)

Paradise is the sixth Steve Adamyk Band full length.  I was trying to think how many bands there are that I have six great records by.  It's not many and the ones who have that many have probably been kicking around my record collection since the mid 90's.  If you look at this specific decade, since 2010 there isn't anyone on the planet who has put out as much great music as Steve & co.  It's amazing.

You can say a lot of great things about Steve Adamyk band, but if there's one accolade I want to bestow on them it's that there isn't any band that kill the opening track of their record as hard as these guys do.  And they do it every single album.  "The Letter" starts things off with a bang.  It's built off of a simple, catchy lead guitar riff, packs a knock-out chorus and has the perfect backing 'oooooh' vocals that elevate this great song even higher.  From there it's off to the races with hit after hit like "In Death," "Something Vicious, "Left In Pieces" and "The Deep End."

That list is comprised of the faster, punchier songs that I like best.  But even when they slow it down on a song like "Waiting To Die Part 1" or "When I Was Gone,"  There's so many great hooks and energy crammed in.  Nothing feels like filler padding out an album, every song on here stands out as something great.  Production-wise, everything sounds full and clean.  They've managed to find that sweet spot between slick production and still being rough enough around the edges to not feel over done.

Nothing I'm saying could possibly be a surprise if you've read this website with any sort of regularity.  I've been saying great things about Steve Adamyk band since I got their first 7" on Ptrash.  Paradise is just another fantastic record. Go buy it and the other five.

Steve Adamyk Band - Paradise:

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Posies - Amazing Disgrace 2xLP


Omnivore (2018, Reissue)

Amazing Disgrace is the third Posies vinyl reissue that was released by Omnivore as part of their Pledge Music campaign.  It was the final one to arrive (which makes sense chronologically) and is also the Geffen album of theirs that I am least familiar with.  I've never actually owned this album previously and only really know the songs that were featured on the Dream All Day best of CD that I've had for about twenty years.  I don't really have a good reason as to why I've never bought it, I also don't have their first album Failure that they rereleased on vinyl a couple of years ago.  I should pick up that one too, eventually.

What I can say is that Amazing Disgrace is an incredible album.  The songs are just as strong as anything on Frosting On The Beater, though they hit me a little differently since I don't have the twenty years of nostalgia coloring the way I feel about everything.  One of the things that the Posies to better than almost anyone are the way Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow blend vocal harmonies into their fuzzy guitar rock.  I can't think of a band that is their equal when it comes to that and all you need to do is listen to opening track "Daily Mutalation" as proof.

From there, the songs that I seem to like the most are the ones I've heard before like "Throwaway" and "Ontario."  That said, I think it might be my preexisting familiarity with these that make them stand out, because everything on this album is pretty damn great.  I'm happy to finally have this whole album and on a nicely reissued double LP to boot.  It's probably time to track down Failure next.

The Posies - "Daily Mutilation":

The Posies - "Throwaway":

The Posies - "Everybody Is A Fucking Liar":

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Even Worse LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

I have very, very vivid memories of when Even Worse came out in 1988.  Weird Al was everywhere as "Fat," his send up of Michael Jackson's "Bad," was a monster hit.  People may have slept on Polka Party, but Al was back in a big way with Even Worse.  It was the one time I can remember where some other kids in school were paying attention to a Weird Al and a few people other than me even owned one of his records.  It was a short lived phenomenon in my world, but I still have pleasant memories of that brief period of time in the fifth grade.

The entire record is great.  The Weird Al originals are top notch with "Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White," "Melanie" and "Good Old Days."  The parodies are also strong as this was one of the last few Weird Al records where I either knew or liked the songs that were being taken on.  "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long" is a fantastic version of George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You."  I've always loved "I Think I'm A Clone Now," though these days I wish it was a parody of the Snuff version of "I Think We're Alone Now" rather than Tiffany's.  It was also a thrill to hear prevalent use of the accordion on the "La Bamba" parody "Lasagna."

This is one of only two Weird Al records that doesn't have a polka medley.  I think the inclusion of one would have made this an even strong record, but even with that omission it's still one of his best.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Good Old Days":

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Custody / The Phoenix Foundation - Split 7"


Little Rocket (2019)

I've been anticipating this 7" for quite some time.  When Custody came to the US for The Fest, I was lucky enough to hear their song on this split live when they band played a show in New Jersey.  As soon as I heard "Tuesdays" I loved it and I let the band know how much I thought it should come out on PopKid.  While things didn't pan out for that, I'm still very excited to have this 7" in my collection, even if it's on another record label.

"Tuesdays" is a classic Custody rocker.  The way they channel a furious mix of 90s UK punk sounds and a Samiam style melody always blows me away.  This is a band that can just do no wrong right now.  Every song I hear by them I love more than the one I heard before (except for "Whatever We Decide," that one is still the best).

Phoenix Foundation is a band I've been buying records of for a really long time.  I first heard of them through a release they had on Snuffy Smile in 2004 and it's great to see them still putting out records.  Their last full length from 2017, Closer, was outstanding and is worth hunting down.  Their contribution to this split is "Secrets."  It's a great song, but it is kind of long.  We're talking six and a half minutes long and the vocals don't start until two minutes in long.  The songs itself is terrific, but can't help but feel I'd probably like it more if a bit was shaved of the intro at lease.  That's probably a fault of my attention span though and not the song itself.

Custody / The Phoenix Foundation - Split 7":

Monday, March 25, 2019

Suspended Girls - Pop Punk Is Back CD


Waterslide (2018)

I'm trying to figure out if there's an album title you could come up with that would draw my attention more than Pop Punk Is Back?  While I think the term pop punk has undergone many changes and meanings over the years, at this point I've really embraced it as a catch all term for the kind of music that I tend to like.  Will some people think of terrible bands when you say 'pop punk?'  Sure, but why let a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

Suspended Girls are from Japan, like most of the great pop punk bands of the moment.  They feature some punk rock veterans who have done time in bands like Disgusteens and Nobodys and the album artwork is essentially made of of smaller images of other pop punk album covers, predominantly from the 90s.  If this doesn't give you a vague idea when Suspended Girls sound like, I'm not sure what words I could write to clue you in.

I will of course alert you that the songs are very catchy and upbeat, drawing huge inspiration from the 90s era bands that drew inspiration from the Ramones.  If anything, their sound seems more indebted to America bands than the sort of Japanese bands I was listening to in the mid 90s.  They use simple, snappy chord progressions and top them off with melodic vocals along with occasional shouts or 'ooohs' in the background.  It's a real blast from the past, even though this album just came out in 2018.

Suspended Girls - Pop Punk Is Back:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Basement Brats - Shining Down 7”


Sneakers (1996)

I bought this 7” while in Tokyo.  I was not familiar with The Basement Brats, but I’m always happy to take a chance on a 7” that might lead me to something new that I might like.  Since these guys were also from Norway and this came out in 1996, it seemed to me that there were enough positives in favor of picking it up.

I can say without hesitation that I really like the A side “Shining Down.”  It’s got a power pop vibe to it, with slick guitar riffing and nice vocal melodies that really help to drive home the hook of the chorus.  I was pretty excited about this record after that song finished, but my opinion changed a bit when I flipped over to the two songs on the B side.

The first one, “It’s Not The Right Time,” is more of a straightforward garage rock song, with those weird lead guitar licks and the ‘oh yeah!’ kind of shouting that has never been my bag.  The second song is “Disconnected Love” and that one is closer to what I like.  In fact it sits right in the middle of the two other songs, poppier than “It’s Not The Right Time,” but garage-ier than “Shining Down.”  But there’s a guitar solo I’m not particularly keen on that drags the song down a bit.

The A side is good enough that it was worth the purchase of this 7” by itself.  I’m just not sure if it’s enough to make me take a chance on some of this band’s other records.  If they have albums full of songs like the B side of this 7”, that’s probably not something that I would listen to all that much.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Polka Party! LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

Polka Party! was the first 'new' Weird Al record that I remember.  This was his newest thing and it was being actively promoted unlike the others, which I had just sort of stumbled across in the Jamesway cassette section while looking for his records.  Polka Party is the album that seems to have slowed down Al's momentum and perhaps made it look like his 'one-hit wonder' time was finally up.  From what I've read and heard, this album didn't sell all that well and didn't spawn a big single.  In interviews Al has said it wasn't even a record he wanted to put out right at that point and it was pretty rushed and forced out due to record label pressure.

Now I personally don't understand any of that.  I love this album and always have.  "Living With A Hernia" is an outstanding send up of James Brown's "Living in America."  This is one of those songs that made me notice that Al was a really smart dude with the way he wove all of the different types of hernia names into the call back section towards the end of the song.  This album also has the Talking Heads pastiche "Dog Eat Dog," a song that still pops up on his live sets.  While "Addicted to Spuds" is certainly silly, I have still always enjoyed the potato puns over Robert Palmers's biggest hit.

The polka medley, which is the title track this time out, is as great as ever blending together hits of the era like "Sledgehammer," "Sussudio" and "Rock Me Amadeus."  I will say that "Toothless People" is probably the song of this era of Weird Al that I like the least.  To this day I don't think I've ever heard the original and have no desire to.

Luckily the album closes out strong with the hilarious country style original "Good Enough for Now" and Al's Phil Spector inspired "Christmas at Ground Zero."  Due to the phrase Ground Zero having a much different meaning today than it did in 1986, this one doesn't end up on a lot of Christmas playlists anymore, but it's still a great song with its crazy contrast of incredibly dark lyrics and super cheery music.

Polka Party! is probably one of the most overlooked albums in Al's discography, but if it's one you're not as familiar with, it's definitely worth giving another shot.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Living With A Hernia":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Addicted To Spuds":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Polka Party!":

Monday, March 18, 2019

Low Forms - Gaze To Bow/The Watchful Eye LP - Red Vinyl (/300)


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

I get into stupid arguments with myself all the time about really mundane topics.  Is it OK for a band to put a picture of themselves on the cover of an album?  Is it really OK to have a singer that doesn't play an instrument?  Can a song still be good if it fades out as opposed to just ending?  Will someone burn in hell if they don't wave at me if I let them in front of me in traffic?  None of these are particularly important and never actually stop me from enjoying a record, but they're the sort of weird things that pop into my head from time to time.

Another of these is wondering how many songs are needed to call something a full length.  Is it based on the number of tracks or is it based on the running time of an album?  I tend to think that your record needs to have ten tracks to be a full length, unless it's eight or nine songs and has a few really long ones (which I don't recommend unless you are Drive Like Jehu).  This brings us to Low Forms, who have released a record with seven songs.  A few of them are in the neighborhood of five minutes, but there aren't any crazy long opuses here and the speed for the record is 45rpm, not 33.  So is this a full length or not?  And why do I care?  I can't answer those questions, but I'll just say that I'd feel better about calling it a full length if there were three more songs.

That's a lot of rambling without actually talking about this record which is split into two thematic sides.  The A side is Gaze To Bow and features two upbeat and punchy songs.  The first one "Idle Hour" is probably my favorite on the album.  The second, "De La Grave," is pretty good, but does go on a pretty long instrumental detour.  Side A ends with "Gaze To Bow."  This one is four minutes long, but it feels like it's about fifteen or so with its slow droning feel.

It had me worried about side B, The Watchful Eye.  Luckily things pick up again with "Rope Store," a song that is catchy, though has something of a country-fried feel to it.  I think it's that lead guitar twinkling.  The other songs on this side are all pretty good and mostly keep to fairly traditional rock and roll songs, appropriate to sing in the dive bar of your choosing.  All in all, this is a decent little 12".  It's nothing that blows me away, but there's also nothing bad on here aside from that "Gaze To Bow" song. That one's a little rough.

Low Forms - Gaze To Bow/The Watchful Eye:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Browntrout - Blues, Blues, Blues 7"


Dirty Snuggies (2010)

This is yet another record that I picked up record shopping in Tokyo that I haven't written about until now.  I am actually almost caught up with these finally, though I do have a new pile of records coming in from mailorder from Waterslide, so there won't be any shortage of records for me to write about any time soon.

Browntrout is a band that I discovered back in 2007 when their first CD came out on Anti-New Waves.  That was a label that I was really trying to keep track of at the time, but it was more difficult than keeping up with Snuffy Smile; who at least had a loyal, if small, US following.  I was immediately taken with Browntrout's dynamic guitar attack and did the best job I could acquiring their other records.  As it turns out, I hadn't done a great job as I discovered an entire new LP in the last couple of years.  This 7" also eluded me until stumbling across it in Tokyo.

I can happily report that this 7" is just as great as everything else I've heard by Browntrout.  Everything is fast and tight, with the guitar attack coming in at a million miles an hour, but never veering off into anything hardcore or sloppy.  Razor sharp hooks and the kind of choruses that I just go crazy for.  In particular, "My Pest Old Moon" stands out as maybe one of the band's very best songs.  I think at this point I have everything released by Browntrout aside from their very first CDEP.  Hopefully I'll be able to track that one down someday.

I couldn't find these songs online anywhere, but trust me - they're great.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Dare To Be Stupid LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

I don't remember exactly how or when I discovered Weird Al.  While I can pinpoint a lot of the most influential things that have entered my life, I'm really hazy with Al.  I assume I must have seen him on Nickelodeon on Nick Rocks or something like that, but I genuinely have no concrete recollection.  What I do know if that Dare To Be Stupid was probably his 'current' album when I found Al, as I do remember Polka Party being the first 'new' Weird Al record that I got.

Dare To Be Stupid is a record I know so very, very well.  I wore out the cassette of it I had in my walkman and listened to it over and over.  I don't know that it's the best Weird Al record, but it certainly has some of his best songs.  You can't even really talk about Weird Al to me without a conversation about the song "Yoda" on here, a parody of "Lola."  Honestly, I don't even really know the original version of this song, yes I've heard it and I sort of know some of the words, but "Yoda" is the definitive version of the song if you ask me.  Music about Star Wars?  My young brain could barely contain itself.

Also incredible are the Devo inspired title track, The doo wop pastiche "One More Minute" and "This Is The Life" (if you haven't seen Johnny Dangerously for some weird reason, you really need to).  I can't say that "Girls Just Want To Have Lunch" is one of my favorites, but Al has also gone on record saying he didn't really want to do it, but acquiesced to record label pressure.  He also brought back a polka medley with "Hooked On Polkas."  Making the cut this time are songs like "Sharp Dressed Man," "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "99 Luftballoons."

I just love this record.  Absolutely love it.  In many ways it's a definitive Weird Al release with iconic songs and tremendous energy. It's not my very favorite, but it's right up there.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Yoda":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Dare To Be Stupid":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "One More Minute":

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Bob Mould - Sunshine Rock LP - Yellow & Red Swirl Vinyl


Merge (2019)

Bob Mould has been on an absolute tear this past decade.  After some questionable electronic records that I got stuck promoting during my radio promotion days in the early 2000s, Mould has been on fire since 2012's Silver Age.  That record completely rekindled my love for Bob Mould records and he hasn't been this consistent since the Sugar days, if you ask me.

Sunshine Rock is another of Mould's trademark aggressive pop albums.  That said, aggressive might be a somewhat misleading description.  While the album still features loud, forward guitar along with a pounding rhythm section, the songs themselves are more upbeat than the past few Bob Mould albums.  That's not to say the energy level has dropped, in fact this is probably the punchiest and most fun to listen album of his since Silver Age.  If anything it sounds more optimistic, with the easiest comparison for me to make being that it reminds me a lot of File Under Easy Listening.

Sunshine Rock is easily one of the best records of 2019 so far, on par with his best albums.  At this point, Bob Mould has to be considered a national treasure.  Is there anyone who has been at it this long that can still consistently deliver the goods today?  Perhaps there are a few, but I can't think of anyone with the track record of Bob Mould.

Bob Mould - Sunshine Rock:

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bender! - Reputation Proof CD


Self Released (2009)

This Bender! (with an exclamation point) was from Japan and is not to be confused with Bender (no exclamation point) from Canada.  Bender! features Yu, who some may remember from recent write ups I've done on other bands he was in like Plum and 2 Sick Worry.   Yu send me this six song CDEP along with a few other releases from his Urban Sleep label.  It took me a little while to get to this one (sorry Yu!) but it's worth the wait as all six songs on this CD are tremendous.

While I definitely hear similarities to Yu's other bands, particularly in the Navel-esque vocals, the thing that jumps out the most to me is how much I'm reminded of the band New Sweet Breath when listening to this.  It's ironic, since the Canadian Bender put out records on Ringing Ear records, home to my favorite New Sweet Breath album, Demolition Theater.  Like that 1996 classic, Bender! trades is fast, jangly guitar riffs with hooky vocal melodies that just have a way of making me smile.

It doesn't look like Bender! released anything else outside of a couple of compilation appearances, but this EP is wonderful and I'm really happy to have it in the collection.  It's especially worth tracking down if you've liked the Plum or 2 Sick Worry records I've written about.

Bender! - Reputation Proof:

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Blues Brothers - The Old Landmark/Think/Shake Your Tailfeather 7"


Atlantic (1980)

There are a couple of Blues Brothers picture sleeve 7"s that still elude me, but I recently grabbed what I believe is the last non-picture sleeve 7" that I needed from Discogs the other day.  While this isn't technically a Blues Brothers 7", it's three songs from the movie, with artists backed by the Blues Brothers band and Jake & Elwood make an appearance on one of the songs.  It's also a promo only 7" that I imagine was meant for jukeboxes or something like that.

Things start up with James Brown's "The Old Landmark."  This is from the church scene where Jake sees the light and realizes it's time to get the band back together. It's a lively performance and once that does differ slightly from what ended up in the actual movie.  Next up is "Think" by Aretha Franklin.  This one is on couple other Blues Brothers 7"s, but it stands as my favorite Aretha song and is the definitive version of the song in my highly biased opinion.

On the B side is "Shake Your Tailfeather," performed by Ray Charles with a little backing vocal help from Jake & Elwood.  This was always one of my favorite scenes in the movie and I just love this damn song.  There's nothing on this single that I don't already have multiple times over, but I think it's interesting that Atlantic decided to gather three of the main guest appearance songs onto a single.  I guess "Minnie The Moocher" wouldn't fit.

Aretha Franklin - "Think":

Ray Charles - "Shake Your Tailfeather":

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - In 3-D LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

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

Weird Al's 2nd album, In 3-D, came out in 1984 and is most remembered for being the album that has "Eat It" as its first single.  This is the song that broke weird all through to the mainstream in a big, big way and made him a staple of the early days of MTV.  While "Eat It" was never my favorite Weird Al song (which is probably in part to not being much of a fan of the original song), this album is packed full of hits.

"Midnight Star" is an incredible song documenting the tabloid era of nonsense supermarket headlines.  It was interesting to see Al at one of his shows say that he wanted this to be the lead single rather than "Eat It."  Though he admits in retrospect, that would have been a poor business decision.  "Buy Me A Condo" is a reggae pastiche that was my favorite Weird Al song for a spell in elementary school. I don't rank it quite so high anymore, but I still enjoy it immensely.

"Theme from Rocky XIII" is a send up of "Eye of the Tiger" and is probably the song that really cemented my love of people singing about food.  "Nature Trail To Hell" is a maddening journey through slasher flick troupes with a backmasking message about cheese whiz.  In 3-D also contains "Polkas on 45," the first appearance of a polka medley on a Weird Al album.  These would go on to be the highlights of many albums for me over the years.  This one is particularly fun, mashing together songs like "Smoke on the Water," "Hey Jude" and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" into an accordion fueled polka blast.

Ultimately, In 3-D is a big change from the first self titled album, but this is where Weird Al really put his flag into the ground and was noticed by many, many more people.  It's a varied, exciting album and even though it's not as rough around the edges as his debut, really set up the template for future releases.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Midnight Star":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Theme from Rocky XIII":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Polkas on 45":

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Mike Krol - Power Chords LP - Clear Vinyl


Merge (2019)

I have had friends whose taste in music that I implicitly trust sing the praises of Mike Krol for years.  I've dipped my toe in a few times over the years and I have to admit, I've just never quite gotten it.  I think it's been the fuzz on the vocals more than anything else.  Despite that, in the run up to the release of Power Chords I once again started hearing the Krol buzz.  I decided to give it another go and what do you know, it stuck this time.

Power Chords is a big fat pop record.  It's built on incredible hooks and vocal melodies.  While I still would like it if the distortion on the vocals was toned down a bit, this time out I feel like it has a little bit more in common with The Marked Men and less tied into the sort of static I associate with Nobunny.  While the tempo of most of this album isn't as fast as the frenzy that The Marked Men are known for, Mike Krol has crafted an album that is every bit as catchy.

The ones I tend to like the most are the songs that may not be the fastest, but they are the ones with the biggest choruses.  "An Ambulance" is probably my favorite of the bunch with a singalong melody that I'm definitely guilty of muttering to myself while at work or the supermarket.  "Left For Dead" is another smash hit, with its stutter-stop opening that launches into a downstroke heavy chord progression that eventually gives way to another incredibly catchy chorus.

In a lot of ways I'm actually relieved that I like Power Chords as much as I do.  I always wondered what others saw in Mike Krol that I didn't see.  Now that I've finally made the connection, I think it might be time to re-listen to some of the other records that I passed on originally.

Mike Krol - Power Chords:

Monday, March 4, 2019

V/A - Because We Can Cassette


Motorcycle Potluck (2018)

I believe this is the very last cassette that I have that hasn't been reviewed yet.  It's certainly possible that I misplaced a some others that were sent in to be written about, but I'm pretty sure this is it.  I really made a concerted effort to finally get through them all, so I'm glad the pile is no longer sitting there, taunting me.

This final tape is a compilation sent over by Motorcycle Potluck.  It's a batch of bands from the Denver Area and beyond, though the bulk are certainly flying under the radar for the most part.  There a few bands I already know.  I recently reviewed Seagulls and their contribution is another Iron Chic meets OWTH burner.  Bud Bronson & The Good Timers have song that has a lot of 80s sounding guitar riffage, so that would fit on their LP pretty seemlessly.  Spells check in with "Run Away," a track that seems a little darker than most of their other output.  It's still pretty catchy though, particularly when the shorus kicks in.

My favorite song on this comp is by Jack's Smirking Revenge, a band I wrote about recently under the name JSR.  I guess that's what JSR stands for.  Their song "Queen Pity of the Plains" is a slice of tight pop punk a la Zoinks, with vocals that sound like a cross between The Weakerthans and American Steel. They still have that Karl Hendricks style storytelling in tow and I've just been really impressed with everything I've heard so far.

This is a $2 tape.  It's totally worth the two bucks as there are quite a few gems in the bunch.  Worth checking it out, even if you hate cassettes.

V/A - Because We Can:

Friday, March 1, 2019

Beck - 25 Years of Mellow Gold & Other 1994 Releases


Twenty-five years ago today, on March 1st, 1994, Geffen released the album Mellow Gold by Beck. There are a lot of records that I love that are quite old now and have hit milestone anniversaries. Very few are as important to the person I turned out to be as Mellow Gold is.

It’s hard to quantify how much impact the three albums that Beck released in 1994 had on me. In many ways they completely changed my life and put me on the path to become the person I am to this day. Other than the Blues Brothers, Beck is probably the most influential musician in my life. While bands like Rocket From The Crypt, Snuff and Leatherface far eclipsed Beck in how much I enjoy their records and how impactful their music is to me, the truth is that I would have never gotten to them without Beck.

In a lot of ways, I’ve always felt a little bit like a poser as I didn’t get into punk rock quite as early as some of the other folks that I would eventually befriend. Yes, I jumped into the deep end of the pool right away and I certainly learned a lot quickly, but since I started listening in 1994 and not 1991, I’ve always felt like the newcomer. At this point I’ve been into these types of bands for two and a half decades, but some of those feelings I had in 1994 still linger.

In 1994 I was seventeen years old and a junior in high school growing up in Sussex County in New Jersey. Sussex County is the north westernmost county in New Jersey and is about an hour and change from New York City. While it probably seems reasonably close to a gigantic city to people who aren’t from the area, it couldn’t be more dissimilar from the New York metropolitan area. The town I lived in was small to the point where it didn’t have its own post office, we had to share one with the neighboring town. It was mostly clusters of residential developments, lots of farms and a ton of trees. My high school was a regional school that funneled kids from 5 different towns into it. Even with all those towns, my graduating class was still only about a hundred and ten people. In New Jersey you can’t get a driver’s license until you are seventeen years old, so in the prior sixteen years, you’re essentially trapped in whatever town you happen to be living in.

I moved to Sussex County in the third grade and most kids already had their groups of friends. Being a kid who was super into the Blues Brothers and Weird Al, there wasn’t a ton of common ground right away, which was weird to me as that didn’t seem to be an issue in the town I had moved from. Regardless, over the years I was usually hanging out with a small group of close friends. Musically I never really was interested in the sort of music that others seemed to be into. Van Halen, Guns N Roses, Metallica…these were bands that I just didn’t care about. What really hit me more than anything else was hip-hop. That was the first music that I listened to that was current, starting around 1989 or so.

I was an avid watcher of Yo! MTV Raps during the so-called ‘golden age’ of hip-hop. The first groups that I remember grabbing my attention were Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy. I remember the shift when things started getting more innovative with Tribe Called Quest, Nice & Smooth, Gang Starr and groups like that. Then my mind was blown when I came across Del The Funky Homosapien and the rest of the Hieroglyphics crew. Not only was I amazed by this music, I could actually find out about it on television because Yo! MTV Raps was taking a lot of chances at the time. Hip-hop was an emerging artform so a lot of groups were given a platform to see what would hit. Way more snuck through to a giant mainstream outlet than probably could have at another time. I was very lucky, and I devoured anything I could get my hands on. Did anyone else buy that Kurious album A Constipated Monkey? Probably not. It wasn’t very good, but I just wanted to hear more.

While this was going on, the alternative explosion hit. Nirvana, Pearl Jam – those sorts of bands. They didn’t register with me at all. My friend Pat (who would later be my introduction to Karl Hendricks Trio, Archers of Loaf and Operation Ivy) gave me a tape of Nevermind my freshman year before I had ever heard it mentioned anywhere else. He suggested I listen to it as he thought it was great. I gave the tape back to him the next day and told him I didn’t get it. I had so much great music to listen to, it didn’t really matter to me what was going on in rock and roll.

Then in 1992, The Chronic came out by Dr. Dre. I was excited, having been pretty into NWA, and I remember buying that CD when they still came in long boxes. Little did I know at the time was that The Chronic essentially killed innovative mainstream hip-hop dead. Suddenly, that record was gigantic. Everyone at my high school had it and as I watched Yo! MTV Raps there was a big shift to soundalike groups. It didn’t happen overnight, but every week the playlist got more and more similar. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate that Warren G & Nate Dogg “Regulate” song. By 1994, I was getting a little desperate for new tunes. Sure, I had Fear Itself by Casual, but there weren’t a lot of other records that were as exciting.

I vividly remember the first time I heard Mellow Gold. I was in my friend Scott’s car - A Plymouth Sundance, I believe - and he played it for me on our way to Rockaway Mall. I hadn’t heard the song “Loser” and I had never heard of Beck before that car ride. Scott wanted me to hear a song called “Soul Suckin’ Jerk” as he thought it sounded like the Beastie Boys. Since I did like the Beasties I was certainly up for it. He popped that cassette into the tape deck and my whole world changed.

Yes, “Soul Suckin’ Jerk’ did sound like the Beastie Boys to me, but as the album kept playing, I couldn’t believe the craziness that was coming out of the speakers. I had never heard anything like this. It was as if someone made an album that was purposefully difficult to listen to. Like it was a gauntlet thrown down to see who could get through it. Songs like “Truck Drivin’ Neighbors Downstairs” and “Nightmare Hippy Girl” were lyrically very funny, but they were minimal acoustic songs that were a stark contrast from the hip-hop leaning songs on the album. “Beercan” had an amazing bassline and was catchy as hell but was almost a pop song. “Sweet Sunshine” and “Steal My Body Home” were bizarre and confusing and “Mutherfuker” was an uncontrollable burst of yelling and screaming. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t this wild mix of styles.

It was weird to then realize that Beck was actually quite popular because of the song “Loser.” I only watched Yo! MTV Raps on MTV and didn’t listen to the radio, so I had no idea what else was going on in the music world. I wondered if most of the people who liked Beck had heard the whole album. Looking back on things now, I highly doubt it. I bought Mellow Gold and wanted to hear more. That’s when I figured out that Beck had other records out.

The next one I bought was Stereopathetic Soulmanure. This was the album that turned my fandom into a full-blown obsession. I could not believe how weird and random this record was. There were no hip-hop songs at all, but there were noisy punk songs like “Pink Noise” and “Thunderpeel,” Slower country songs like “Rowboat” and “Modesto,” weird tape collages and of course, “Satan Gave Me A Taco.” What an incredible song to hear. Here was a guy that was writing music and just being weird and random. It spoke to me like nothing else really had before.

The next thing I found was One Foot In The Grave. This one also took me completely by surprise. It was essentially a barebones folk album with a couple of indie rock songs mixed in. This was the album that made me realize that Beck wasn’t just a wacky dude, but he was also writing deeper serious songs. Prior to hearing it, I can’t say I would have ever thought I would listen to a record like that, but I loved it so much and to this day it’s my all-time favorite Beck record.

I essentially went insane at this point trying to find every single Beck release I could find. He became the first musician that inspired me to collect records. I’d long had the collecting bug because of toys and I remember buying a couple of Del The Funky Homosapien cassette singles so I could get the remixes, but this was the first time I ever actively was trying to search for every single record by someone.

So many important firsts in my life were because of Beck. The first time I went into NYC to go record shopping was to try to find Beck stuff at Generation Records (found some bootlegs – and I found the Western Harvest Field By Moonlinght 10” at Second Coming). The first time I went on the internet, I did so to try to look up information about Beck at a friend’s house. I eventually ran an online Beck discography from a Geocities page early on in college. The first concert I went to was Lollapalooza in 1995, to see Beck (and Pavement) and that’s where I saw Superchunk for the first time. The first time I tried to play guitar was to learn to play Beck songs. He inspired me to do so many things I wouldn’t have done previously.

The other big part of this was that Beck was a huge gateway drug for me to other music. I started looking into the names of other people who played on his records and I started looking into other bands that were on labels that Beck was putting out records on. Beck is a direct link to bands like Lync, Built To Spill, Halo Benders, Superchunk and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Those bands helped me branch out into other bands like Rocket From the Crypt (who were discovered on a Merge records compilation my friend Joe bought), Supersuckers, Snuff and Leatherface. Asking questions at record stores led me to more and more discoveries until I ultimately turned into the weird asshole that I am now, obsessed by a constant barrage of random bands that never seem to get the attention that I think they deserve.

As the years went by, Beck records got less and less interesting to me. As much as I tried to convince myself that Odelay was just as good as his ’94 releases, I never liked it as much. Mutations was a letdown as I was expecting Two Foot In The Grave. He’s had good songs on just about every album and it’s always interesting for me to hear his latest tunes, but it’s never been like it was that first year I was buying his records.

The sheer amount of songs he has, particularly from the ’94 and ’95 era, that were never commercially released is staggering. You could fill several albums with the songs I’ve heard on radio performances and concert bootlegs. A giant compilation of this material is a release that I wish would come to fruition, but Beck seems embarrassed by these songs at this stage in his career. While I won’t pretend to be the same person I was in 1994 either, I find it strange that he would turn his back on such an important chunk of his career. Not only is this a time period beloved by many but it is also the reason he ever had the spotlight shined on him in the first place. He wouldn’t have been able to have the career he has without these early songs.

Beck may be a serious and mainstream artist now, but he was never more exciting to me as he was when he was just a complete nutcase, setting his guitar on fire and singing about squeegees. He’s no longer the guy wearing a stormtrooper helmet and playing a banjo, but he was exactly what I needed in 1994, and for that I will always thank him.

Beck - "Nightmare Hippy Girl":

Beck - "Pay No Mind":

Beck - "Painted Eyelids"

Beck - "Steve Threw Up":

Beck - "Satan Gave Me a Taco":

Beck - "Totally Confused":