Thursday, February 14, 2019

False Cathedrals - No Map Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

This 5 song cassette EP is something sent over by the folks over at Snappy Little numbers.  I can't remember exactly when they sent it as I have a bad habit of not keeping the best track of tapes.  On the False Cathedral Bandcamp page it says this was released in 2018, so it's probably not that old.  With a name like False Cathedral and artwork featuring an animal skull, I was definitely judging the book by its cover before listening to this cassette. As I mentioned yesterday, it's something that I'm prone to do from time to time.

Frankly this looks like a metal or hardcore tape and when I started listening to opening song "Me Habria Ido Contigo" I felt pretty vindicated.  That said, a strange thing happened as I kept listening though, the feel of the songs changes dramatically with "Salt Your Fate."  That one has a much stronger pop structure with more emphasis on melody.  There's still a lot of eccessive guitar wanking (big lead guitar is just never anything I've been very interested in), but the song is better thank I expected compared to the opener.

From there we go into "The Real Criminals" and I can't tell the difference between it and "Panama" by Van Halen aside from the singer sounds a little more like the guy from Seaweed than David Lee Roth.  After that I just kind of lose interest, honestly.  There are bits that sound like Faith No More and others that seem like the sort of thing the guys in Soundgarden were probably really into.  Everything is played well and these guys obviously can handle a guitar better than most, but there's nothing here that appeals to me.  It's just too flashy and grandiose for my taste.

False Cathedrals - No Map:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Seagulls - Dear John Letter - Gray Vinyl (/100)


Debt Offensive (2018)

I write about judging a book by it's cover from time to time when I talk about a record that I’ve been sent to review.  Often I’m not exactly perfect in what I thought it would sound like, but I usually have a feeling that I won’t like something.  This Seagulls 7" is the same thing in the opposite direction.  I took one look at this and thought it seemed like the sort of thing No Idea would have put out around 2008.  I'm happy to report that I can stand by that prediction and can also validate that the two songs on this 7" can hang with anything released by No Idea around that time.

The comparison that comes to mind most easily when I listen to the A side "Dear John Letter" is Iron Chic.  There is a similarity in the way the vocals are structured with a perfectly placed anthemic chorus.  The guitars and drums create a dynamic foundation to build up the chorus with creative riffs, fills and breakdowns.

B side "Foot Meet Mouth" is a bit faster and more straightforward.  It certainly succeeds in being a powerful whirlwind of impassioned chaos, but I personally prefer the way "Dear John Letter" plays out.  It's a bit slower and has more interesting things going on.  That said, both songs are a really solid introduction to a band I hadn't heard of previously and it's worth checking out if you like your punk rock nice and loud with vocals that sound like Transformers.

Seagulls - Dear John Letter 7":

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Posies - Frosting On The Beater 2xLP - Pink Vinyl


Omnivore (2018)

When I heard that The Posies were finally going to reissue their three Geffen era albums on vinyl, I was really excited.  While I was looking forward to picking them all up, I was especially eager to finally get my hand on Frosting On The Beater.  In addition to it being my favorite Posies album and by far the album of theirs that I'm most familiar with, it's also the release that frustrated me most from a record collector standpoint.

I would consistently see the original pressing of this album on eBay and Discogs for well over one hundred dollars.  And not only were they put for sale at that price, they actually sold for that much over and over again.  As much as I love the album, I just couldn't talk myself into dropping that kind of cash as I couldn't believe that it wouldn't be reissued eventually.  Luckily my patience paid off and I finally have this tremendous album in my collection.

"Solar Sister" is my favorite Posies song and may be one of the greatest guitar pop songs ever written.  The way the vocal harmonies hold the melody during the verse always drives me crazy and when the guitars crash into the chorus, you know that this song is something special.  While it's the obvious highlight of the album, Frosting On The Beater is wall to wall hits.  "Dream All Day," "Flavor of the Month," "20 Questions" and so many others just dazzle with their catchiness.

Like the Dear 23 reissue, this one is split up on two LPs at 45rpm.  While from an audiophile standpoint I know that's going to give you the best sound quality, I still can't help but complain a little about having to get up and flip the record every three songs or so.  I would personally prefer a single LP, but this pressing sounds so amazing, it's a very small complaint and I certainly wouldn't want to sacrifice any sound quality.  These are such great songs and I'm so happy to finally have them on vinyl.

The Posies - "Solar Sister":

The Posies - "20 Questions":

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - King & Queen LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)


Atlantic (2017, Reissue)

Over the next few months, I will be writing about each of the individual albums in the Otis Redding Definitive Studio Albums box set. It would be far too daunting a task to try to summarize so many great albums into one review for the entire set. Otis Redding is one of my favorites and each album deserves to be savored.

King & Queen is a unique entry in the Otis Redding catalog as it's a joint effort with the equally great Carla Thomas.  They have an undeniable chemistry together and in a lot of ways they bring out the very best in each other.  It's particularly interesting to watch Otis have someone to play off of.  There are times where they just trade vocals back and forth, but then there are times where they come together in a way that's every bit as dynamic as the best Sam & Dave songs.

Most people are likely familiar with the hit from this album, "Tramp."  For good reason, it's a completely killer song that rank among the best either Carla or Otis ever released.  But this album has so many other wonderful moments, the highlight for me being their take on the Eddie Floyd classic, "Knock On Wood."  That's a song that's so amazing and so engrained in the musical history of this country that many soul artists in the 60s took a stab at it. Otis & Carla's stands out as unique, turning it into a dueling vocal masterpiece.  Neither trying to outdo the other, they work in harmony to take an incredible song and somehow elevate it even higher.

It's become repetitive for me to say, but Otis Redding was such a unique artist who churned out an incredible amount of stone cold classics in a relatively short period of time.  There's a reason these songs have endured as long as they have.  I'm just happy to have a nice box set that compiles a great many of them.

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - "Tramp":

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - "Knock on Wood":

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Chestnut Road / Navel - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl & Cream Vinyl


Brassneck (2019)

I can't tell you how much joy it brought me to find out that this 7" was in the works.  It pairs two of my favorite bands on one 7" put out by one of the best labels going.  There is really nothing not to love about this release and it just makes me so happy that it exists,

This split marks the first appearance of Chestnut Road in quite some time.  They contribute two melodic punk stunners that would have been right at home on their last full length that I liked so much I put out on PopKid records.  "Black Corridor" is the slower of the two, but it still invokes the sort of 90s UK magic that makes that one of my favorite times in music.  It's similar to some of the slower moments of Broccoli.  The second song, "Prison," is just incredible.  This one is faster and makes me think of the best kind of Hooton 3 Car songs with rapid chord changes and supremely catchy hooks.  I've said dozens of times that Chestnut Road is one of the best bands on the planet right now, these two songs further cement that claim.

On the other side of the 7" we have Navel, an incredible Japanese band that I've been listening to for over twenty years at this point. It kind of amazes me that they somehow seem to get better every time that I hear them.  The two songs on this 7" are two of the their best yet.  "Dying" is just an incredible song, blending complex and melodic guitar parts with Tomi's trademark higher pitched, but ultra catchy vocals.  "End of the Line" is just as amazing, with a slower driving beat, but still maintaining the sort of catchiness that has always made me love this band.  Both songs are slower than the sort of rocket fast songs that made up their classic album Uneasy, but as much as I love that album, I'd have to say that these two are even better.

This is quite simply an amazing 7".  I certainly shouldn't have to convince you to buy it.  If you read my nonsense on this website, odds are you are probably inclined to like this sort of thing.  So I'm not sure what you're waiting for.  Go get it.

Chestnut Road / Navel - Split 7"

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Rad Owl - Madison Beast LP - Red Vinyl


Boss Tuneage / Waterslide (2018)

In what is rapidly becoming a recurring theme, this is another 2018 album that I wasn't able to get until after the new year had passed.  As a result, I'm beginning to feel like my end of the year list is becoming woefully inaccurate as the weeks go by.  I'll once again blame it on moving into my first house and some tightness in the wallet for the second half of the year.  No matter what the reason, the fact is that Rad Owl should have made an appearance on that list as Madison Beast is a pretty great album.

While the artwork on the album cover may lead you to think this is either some sort of foreign metal band or a lost 70s prog rock album, Madison Beast actually pays homage to the 90s sounds of bands like Big Drill Car and other Cruz or C/Z records acts.  There's a distinct 90s feel to the album with the perfect mix of chugging guitar riffs and secondary guitar leads.  These guys have chops for sure, but they use them for good and not for evil, overdrawn guitar wanking.

There are folks in this band that were in Samiam, The Stereo and PopKid alumni Marble (as long as I live, I will never tire of listening to their cover of "Holiday Road").  Rad Owl feels like a conglomeration of those past experiences.  It's good enough to hang with any of those 90s bands, but is still forward thinking enough to keep me thoroughly engaged in 2019.

Rad Owl - Madison Beast:

Monday, February 4, 2019

Slinky X - Darn Cassette


Drug Party / Wiener (2018)

I'm still doing my best to work through the pile of tapes that I have sitting here to review.  Even though I've come across a few gems lately, it's still unnecessarily daunting to have to go through these.  It sort of feels like work, which I think is partially because I never really buy tapes for myself.  They are inevitably something that I was sent for review.  Since I buy so many records, when someone sends me something on vinyl review, I just add it to the pile of fun that I'm already working through.  It's just a totally different vibe.

Anyway, back to Slinky X.  At first I couldn't tell if that was the name of the band or the album, but I'm pretty sure it's the band.  The six songs on this tape are totally fine.  Crunchy guitars, poppy song structures and decent enough vocal harmonies.  But that's really all it is, decent.  Nothing is ever catchy enough to sink in as a real earworm.  Most songs have a guitar solo that goes on forever, but is never flashy enough to make you sit up and take notice.

Everything about these tape is pretty much background music.  If you went to a bar and this was playing on the jukebox (or whatever the 2019 equivalent of how music gets played in bars these days is), I don't think you'd even notice it was there.  It's pleasant enough to not be annoying, but not interesting enough to be, well, interesting.

Slinky X - Darn:

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Starmarket - S/T LP - White Vinyl (/300)


Assembly Line (2018, Reissue)

When the news came out several months ago that Starmarket was getting back together to play some shows focusing on the early material in their catalog, I was pretty upset that I wasn't in Sweden or Japan.  Those first two Starmarket full lengths are among my favorite records of all time.  We were even lucky enough to release the US version of the band's second album, Sunday's Worst Enemy on PopKid.  Their first self titled release hadn't been released on vinyl when it came out back in 1995, but the fine folks at Assembly Line records have issued in on wax in conjunction with the band's reunion.

I still remember how completely blown away I was when I first heard this album.  My buddy Alan played a few songs for me at the Flipside record store in NJ.  When that machine gun guitar intro blasts out of the speakers in the opening track "Your Style," it still gives me chills almost twenty-five years later.  The entire album is full of dynamic pop-core guitar that would make Bob Mould proud.  Starmarket managed to harness so much energy into these songs.  Even on the slower ones like "Parking Lot" and "Cozy and Warm" there's a palpable electricity that so few bands are able to achieve.

This vinyl version sounds great.  Every high hat is crystal clear and every bass line rumbles along with the sort of warmth that envelops the room.  I really couldn't be more excited to finally add a vinyl version of this album to the collection.  It's probably been one of the biggest omissions up to this point (still waiting for Onehundredpercentfreak by Alligator Gun though).

I'm hopeful that a vinyl version of the Starmarket EP Calendar gets released (along with some extra B sides of the era would be nice).  I also really hope that Sunday's Worst Enemy gets a proper vinyl treatment.  While Dolores records put out a vinyl version of that album when it came out in 1997, it's a picture disc that frankly doesn't really sound that great.  A better vinyl release would be a very welcome addition.

Starmarket - "Your Style":

Starmarket - "Unwanted":

Starmarket - "Cozy and Warm":

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

JSR - ...It Roars Cassette


Motorcycle Potluck (2018)

The moment that the fist song on this tape, "I'm Not Gonna Lie, It's Been A Weird Year," starts off, the only thing I can think of is how much it sounds like The Karl Hendricks Trio.  Specifically my favorite Kark Hendricks song, "Dead Flowers."  Now the ending bit of the JSR song is a bit more frantic than how Karl chose to crescendo his opus, but there's a humanity and storytelling aspect of the song that makes me think they are kindred spirits.

The rest of the album is full of punchy rock songs with heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics.  Let me make that description crystal clear, the lyrics have a personal, almost poetic feel to them, much like Karl Hendricks.  I am not referring to some bullshit over emotional midwestern band desperately trying to get signed to Polyvinyl.

I had no expectations going into this tape.  If anything I was holding the fact that it was released on cassette against it.  But after listening to it a few times, I can say I'm pretty shocked by JSR.  I don't think they have a really easy modern comparison, but I believe that had they been around in 1994 or so, a lot of folks would have really taken notice.  I would absolutely buy this album again on vinyl if it ever were to be released and I recommend checking these guys out.  This is a sleeper release, it deserves your attention.

JSR - ...It Roars:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Spoilers - Roundabouts LP - Cornetto Vinyl (/150)


Brassneck / Boss Tuneage / Little Rocket / SBAM / Waterslide (2018)

I took way too long to buy this record.  I knew it was going to be good based on prior EPs I had by Spoilers, but the full length came out at a time where I was a bit strapped for cash due to moving into my first home.  The extra shipping was something that I felt I needed to push back for a bit.  Once I was able to add a few more records to the package, I finally had Brassneck send this album over and after listening to it over the past few weeks, I'm even more annoyed that I waited so long.  This absolutely should have been in my top albums of the year list, probably quite high too,

To me, Spoilers sound like if Snuff was fronted by Mark from Crocodile God.  The vocals are melodic and of a higher pitch, but that is combined with an organ drenched punk rock sound that would have been right at home on Demmamussabebonk.  Much like later era Snuff, I tend to prefer the mid tempo songs on Roundabouts the most like "The Same Again," "Skimming Stones" and "Collision Course."  The latter of which has a vocal melody that reminds me of the Cat Stevens song "Father and Son."  Though let's be serious, I don't really know the Cat Stevens version of the song very well, I'm much more familiar with the cover by Horace Goes Skiing.

I don't love the really fast songs as much.  The ones with that galloping NOFX style drum beat sort of just blow by in a haze.  But, I feel the same way about most Snuff songs like that as well, and they are one of my favorite bands of all time.  Roundabouts is a killer record and Spoilers are very quickly becoming one of my current favorite UK bands.  To top it all off, they're about to play some shows opening up for Guns N Wankers.  I mentioned this on Twitter once, but I'll repeat it here, if anyone wants to give me a plane ticket to the UK for those shows, I'll be your best friend.

Spoilers - Roundabouts:

Monday, January 28, 2019

Raise Mind - Farewell 7"


Anti-New Waves (2002)

This Raisemind 7" is another record that I grabbed while I was record shopping in Tokyo a couple of years ago.  I was especially excited to stumble across this 7" as I've had Raisemind's full length album since it came out back in the early 2000s.  I didn't know that the band had released anything else, but I came across this 7" along with a CD EP while in Japan.  According to Discogs, there is also a split CD that I don't have.  Hopefully I can track that down at some point to complete the collection.

This 7" is great, just like everything else I have by Raise Mind.  They play the sort of fast, melodic punk rock that would be right at home on Snuffy Smiles in the late 90s.  That's some of my favorite kind of music in the world.  Raise Mind are right up there with some of the other bands of the era like Just One Day or 8Roof.

Two of the four songs on this 7" also appeared on the album Back Number.  Of the other two, "Half A Wake, Half A Die" looks like it was also on that aforementioned split CD that I don't have, but the opening track "Farewell" seems to be exclusive to this 7" as far as I can tell.  Even if all of the songs had appeared elsewhere, I still would have bought this to have them on vinyl.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Otis Redding - Complete And Unbelievable...The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)


Atlantic (2017)

Over the next few months, I will be writing about each of the individual albums in the Otis Redding Definitive Studio Albums box set. It would be far too daunting a task to try to summarize so many great albums into one review for the entire set. Otis Redding is one of my favorites and each album deserves to be savored.

One thing you can say about Otis Redding is that he didn't shy away from long album titles.  Complete And Unbelievable...The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul is the longest album title and yet another where the word soul is featured.  In my opinion Otis absolutely earned the right to use the world soul wherever he wants.  In many ways he's the king of soul to me and this album is another that cements his status as one of the greatest of all time.

The album starts off with one of his best, "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)."  The earnest way that Otis delivers the lyrics couple with the accents of the horn section simply create magic.  This is one of my very favorite Otis songs and it's just the start of a pretty incredible album.  Whether he's working with a slower song like "Tennessee Waltz" or something more upbeat like "Love Have Mercy" or putting his own signature stamp on The Beatles' "Day Tripper" pretty much everything on this record is simply great.  Even in a discography as strong as Otis Redding's, Dictionary of Soul stands out as something special.

Otis Redding - "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)":

Otis Redding - "Day Tripper":

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Not Wonk / The Full Teenz - Split 7"


Second Royal (2015)

I picked up this split 7" after really enjoying the two Not Wonk LPs that I had.  While I wasn't familiar with The Full Teenz, one of my favorite things to do is to buy a split 7" only knowing one of the two bands.  It's lead to so many great discoveries over the years and I was hopeful this would be another.

Not Wonk's side includes the song "On This Avenue."  I already had that song on their second LP This Ordinary, but I'm not really all that great at remembering song names, so I didn't realize it until I played this 7" for the first time.  Still, it is a really great song with a slower, Senseless Things meets 90s Brit pop style chorus.  The other song they contribute is a cover of a Full Teenz song called "水彩画." I'm not familiar with the original, but the Not Wonk version is on the slow side and I can't say I like it quite as much as the song that they wrote.

The Full Teenz side of this split is a lot of fun.  The songs are upbeat and catchy, with a treble heavy reverb on the guitar tone. They remind me of another Japanese band called Popcatcher that I have a bunch of CD EPs from that I picked up in the late 90s.  The Full Teenz was a nice surprise and I actually liked their side of this 7" better than the Not Wonk side.  I'm going to have to see if they have any other records that I'm able to get my hands on.

Not Wonk - "On This Avenue":

The Full Teenz - "swim! swim!":

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Treepeople - Actual Re-Enactment LP - Orange Vinyl (/250)


Gravy Lane (2018. Reissue)

After the bang-up job Gravy Lane did on the Stuntman LP they rereleased a little while back, I was extremely excited to hear that they were going to put out this Treepeople album on vinyl.  Actual Re-Enactment originally came out on C/Z records in 1994, but was only out on CD and cassette.  This left a gigantic hole in the Treepeople vinyl discography and thankfully that omission has finally been rectified.

Actual Re-Enactment is a post-Doug Martsch Treepeople album, but in my eyes it's just as dynamic and listenable as anything that came out while he was still a member.  Actual Re-Enactment still has heaps of the dynamic guitar interplay that I always felt was the most distinguishing trait that the band brought to the table.  It's a unique balancing act between noisy chaos and catchy riffs and this is a balance few bands ever pulled off as successfully as Treepeople.

Just take a listen to "Slept Through Mind."  It's my favorite song on the album, mostly for the way the band perfectly places sludgy guitar drone right smack in the middle of an otherwise chill pop song.  On paper it shouldn't work as well as it does, but leave it to Treepeople to not only make it work, but make it a highlight of the album.  The vinyl version Gravy Lane released has been remastered for vinyl and the album pops even more brightly than the CD I've been carrying around for the past few decades.  I'm quite thankful to the label for helping me finally add this record to my collection.

Treepeople - "Slept Through Mine":

Treepeople - "Boot Straps":

Monday, January 21, 2019

Friends Of Cesar Romero - Trashionista Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I will be totally honest.  Friends Of Cesar Romero confuse the shit out of me.  I have a couple of 7"s by them and now I have this cassette, but if you look at their Bandcamp page, they have about nine thousand albums available for download, almost none of which seem to have any sort of physical release.  I don't understand why my shelf isn't packed with records by this band, who are simply outstanding.

Trashionista is another perplexing release.  Not only is it cassette only, it's a full length album packaged up like a cassingle.  Why isn't this a full length vinyl LP?  It's a fantastic record and I'm embarrassed I didn't put this on my top albums of the year.  It fell through the cracks in a pile of cassettes I misplaced as a result of moving that I just dug up.

Trashionista is packed full incredibly catchy punk rock that straddles garage rock, pop punk and something you might have heard bubbling up from the underground in the late 70s.  If the Marked Men's songs were written by The Knack, maybe it would sound a bit like this.  Maybe not, but whatever Friends Of Cesar Romero are up to, I hope they continue to crank out hits like this.  I also hope more of these hits end up on vinyl.  This album especially would really shine I think.

Friends Of Cesar Romero - Trashionista:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Posies - Dear 23 2xLP


Omnivore (2018, Reissue)

Dear 23 is the first of three Posies reissues that were sold via Pledge Music.  While it seems that you can still buy it essentially anywhere, I did throw down my cash at the very beginning for the reissue of this album, Frosting On The Beater and Amazing Disgrace.  So far only the first two have been released so we'll start with Dear 23 today.

Dear 23 isn't the Posies album I'm most familiar with.  I got interested in the band a little later than many and it was really Frosting On The Beater that I played on repeat over and over.  I did backtrack and picked up the CD of Dear 23, but I just never listened to it quite as much as the others.  Having a really nice vinyl reissue is just the kick in the ass that I needed to pay more attention to this album.  I'm glad I did as there are so many incredible songs.  The first half of the album in particular is pretty crazy with songs like "My Big Mouth," "Golden Blunders" and "Any Other Way."

The reissue sounds incredible and they've done that thing where the album is split over two LPs and is at 45rpm instead of 33 1/3.  I know there are audiophile and sound reasons to do this, and I certainly would never say to do anything to impede the sound quality of an album, but part of me does just wish it was a standard single LP.  It might just be a laziness issue as you have to get up to flip the record to accommodate four sides more often than you would for a single LP.  Then there's also the fact that 45rpm on my record player is being a little wonky lately and everything seems to be playing just a hair slow.  But really, my turntable servicing needs aren't the fault of the folks who put this record out and I'm glad they did their best to make it sound as great as it possibly could.

The Posies - "My Big Mouth":

The Posies - "Any Other Way":

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

V/A - All Temptation 7"


Coconut's House (1996)

This four band compilation 7" is another record that I picked up record shopping in Tokyo two years ago.  Since Husking Bee was one of the bands on it, there was no way I wasn't going to buy it, though I wasn't familiar with the other three bands.

First up on side A was Crickets with their song "Sad Rubbish."  They reminded me a bit of the UK band Exit Condition and also a little bit of the band Reverse.  Their song has a strong melody and a catchy chorus with a pretty cool tempo change.  It looks like they put out a few other releases back in the 90s, so I may have to look into them a bit more.  Next up is Scrap Yard Dogs.  They're a little bit faster and a gruffer than Crickets, but have a similar knack for putting together a catchy song.  While I'm not sure I'm as inspired to go try to find more of their record as I am with Crickets, it's still pretty good.

On the B side we have "Listen To This Song" by Scape Goat.  Scape Goat is a band name that I'm pretty sure I've heard before and I wouldn't be surprised to find out I own some other Japanese compilation that they are on.  That said, this is my least favorite song on the 7", built around that galloping NOFX style drum beat that is never my favorite thing to hear on a pop punk song.

Last up is Husking Bee and their song "Only Way."  This song is also on their first album Grip, which I highly, highly recommend if you haven't heard before.  Husking Bee has been a longtime favorite of mine, ever since an old friend named Tetsu put them on a tape of Japanese bands he made for me back in the 90s.  He was such a big part of helping me discover a lot of non-Snuffy Smiles bands and it makes me sad that I lost touch with him.  I often wonder if he still listens to punk rock as one of the last emails I remember getting from him was him telling me he was mostly listening to techno, but It's probably been twenty years since I last heard from him.

V/A - All Temptation 7":

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Unlikely Friends - Crooked Numbers CD

Swoon (2018)

I had mentioned how much I enjoyed this Unlikely Friends album when I posted my year end list of my favorite records of 2018.  I hadn't written about this album prior to making the list as I hadn't yet purchased the CD.  I kept holding out hope that eventually it would receive a vinyl release.  Unfortunately that never came to pass, so I grabbed the CD version.  All that did was make me wish there was a vinyl release even more.

I love Unlikely Friends.  As I was a pretty big fan of the band Boat, I eagerly follow D. Crane (or Dee Krain - whatever his name actually is) when the first Unlikely Friends album Solid Gold Cowboys came out (also only on CD...).  As great as Solid Gold Cowboys was, Crooked Numbers raises the game even higher.  It's simply a tremendous album of indie rock with a powerful 90s feel to it.  You could easily name check Pavement, Built To Spill, Superchunk, Guided By Voices and many others and while that would put you in a decent frame of reference, none of them truly describe what Unlikely Friends sounds like.

The way the guitars intertwine with the vocal melodies and the incredible lyrical imagery is something very unique to Unlikely Friends.  They are releasing some of my favorite music, I just wish someone would release this incredible music on vinyl.  This is an album that deserves it and Unlikely Friends are band that deserves to be significantly more famous.  Definitely check this one out.  Heck, I'm even considering buying a 2nd copy as the cardboard sleeve of my CD split apart in shipping.

Unlikely Friends - Crooked Numbers:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Flight Kamikaze - Going Down Cassette


Motorcycle Potluck (2018)

I received a package of cassettes from Motorcycle Potluck.  I'm certainly on record as not being a big fan of cassettes and the amount of stuff I still get from More Power Tapes has made me reconsider if I should even review them, but the person from Motorcycle Potluck included a note saying they were friends with Chuck from Snappy Little Numbers and also is in the band Lawsuit Models.  Since both of those are true symbols of quality in my book, I went into these cassettes with an open mind and perhaps some slightly high expectations.

I'm starting off with Flight Kamikaze's four song EP.  The short story is it's pretty good.  The note enclosed with these tapes compared them to The Marked Men and Samiam.  Those are definitely solid starting points from a frame of reference, particularly with Samiam when it comes to guitar riffage and The Marked Men when it comes to playing fast and loud.

All of the songs are pretty short and this tape just flies by when you listen to it.  I do like what I hear though and would be interested in seeing where Flight Kamikaze goes next.

Flight Kamikaze - Going Down:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Otis Redding - The Soul Album LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)


Atlantic (2017)

Over the next few months, I will be writing about each of the individual albums in the Otis Redding Definitive Studio Albums box set. It would be far too daunting a task to try to summarize so many great albums into one review for the entire set. Otis Redding is one of my favorites and each album deserves to be savored.

The fourth album in the Otis Redding Studio Albums box set is The Soul Album.  Originally released in 1966, this album has not gone on to have quite the same level of notoriety as some of Otis' other records, but one listen through, it's easy to see the quality of the songs on here is just as high as anything else he released.  It may be lacking that one signature hit single, but with songs like "It's Growing," "Chain Gang" and "634-5789" it's certainly not lacking in incredible songs.

Like the other albums in this box set, the sound quality is quite nice, with everything sounding crisp and clean.  While this may not be my favorite Otis Redding album, it's certainly an integral part of his discography and one that I'm happy to give more attention to as a result of this box set.

Otis Redding - "It's Growing":

Otis Redding - "Chain Gain":

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Not Scientists - Destroy To Rebuild CD

Waterslide (2015)

If it's not obvious from the release date above, I took way too long to write about this album.  Though I haven't had it since 2015, I've definitely had it for a few years and it's just been sitting in a pile of CDs that I haven't written about yet.  Now that's not to say I haven't listened to it.  In fact, this has been on my iPod since mid 2016, and I've listened to it many, many times.  I've just never put pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) and let the world know how much I like this album.

Not Scientists are from France and they've concocted an album full of jagged guitar riffs and melodic choruses that pull together a lot of disparate influences into their songs.  At times I hear the sort of energetic downstrokes that I associate with bands like Idle Hands, but then there are moments where a Superchunk-esque hook takes over the song (They actually cover Superchunk's "Precision Auto" on one of the bonus tracks that's on this Japanese version of the CD).  Sometimes I think they remind me of the band The Sedatives, only to suddenly hear a hook that makes me think they're playing 1990s UK punk like fellow countrymen Chestnut Road.

Throughout all of this shapeshifting, the one consistent is every song is catchy and has a forward driving beat that keeps my toes tapping and my head nodding.  Why it took me over two years to finally write about this album, I'll never know, but it's definitely an album worth checking out.  Looking around the internet, it looks like the band put out another album in 2018.  I'll have to hunt that one down as well.

Not Scientists - Destroy And Rebuild:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Crimpshrine - Free Box 3xLP


Numero (2017)

I've had this Crimpshrine box set sitting around for ages, but just never got around to taking pictures of it or writing about it.  The main issue I've had is that writing about Crimpshrine's discography can be a little confusing.  They had one full length and a bunch of EPs.  Though part of that full length and some of the EPs were gathered onto one compilation album and then other songs from the full length and some other EPs were compiled onto another album.  A few songs from the lone full length never ended up anywhere else, and that's not even counting the nine song demo cassette thing that had a B side that didn't even have any Crimpshrine songs on it at all.  It had songs by five different bands.  Confused yet? So am I.

Free Box contains vinyl versions of the two most well know Crimpshrine releases; Duct Tape Soup and Sound of a New World Being Born.  These were the aforementioned compilations originally released on Lookout Records.  These are also the records that I first listened to when getting into Crimpshrine, Duct Tape Soup being my introduction to the band.  After all these years, I still think the songs on that album are so powerful and exciting to listen to.  There's an energy about those songs, and pretty much everything they released, that's hard to quantify.  I think it has a lot to do with how bands just don't record like that anymore.  We've made some great leaps with recording technology, but in some ways we've lost that magic spark that the recording studios on those older punk records provided.

In addition to the two main LPs, there is a third album in this box set called 7 Song Demo + Berkeley Sampler.  This is a reissue of a cassette that was put out back in 1987, though there were nine Crimpshrine songs on the cassette version.  The two missing songs on the vinyl release, "Wake Up" and "Rancid Death Cafe," are on the other LPs, so I believe this demo is still complete if you count the contents of the rest of the box set.  On the B side of this LP are 2 songs each from Basic Radio, Soup, Kwikwa, Distorted Truth and Sweet Baby Jesus.  Just like on the original cassette.

In some ways, I love that I'm able to have nice clean versions of two amazing albums.  But in other ways, I kind of wish Numero had taken this opportunity to clean up the band's confusing discography and re-release every song the band put out, grouped as their original releases.  I also wouldn't mind those two missing songs from Lame Gig Contest being a part of this. That said, I still love this release and am happy my old Crimpshrine CDs can be retired in favor of a wonderfully put together vinyl rerelease.

Crimpshrine - Duct Tape Soup:

Crimpshirne - The Sound Of A New World Being Born:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sprocket Wheel - 2nd EP 7" - Clear Vinyl


Swept (1997)

Sprocket Wheel is one of the first Snuffy Smile bands I ever heard of when I started buying records from Japan.  I think their split 7" with Goober Patrol was the first time I became aware of them, although it's possible it was their split with Less Than Jake in 1996.  They were always kind of the band in the background at the time.  I didn't like them as much as bands like Blew or Lovemen, but still managed to accumulate a few records by them.  When I went to Japan two years ago, I found this 7", the only one of theirs that I didn't have.

It really hit me again over the new year how much I miss being in Japan.  I had such an amazing time and I really hope to go back again someday soon.  That said, I find it kind of insane that I still have records I bought on that trip that I haven't written about on this site yet.

Sprocket Wheel deliver five songs on this 7" and as is the case with most of their discography, I tend to prefer the songs of theirs that are a little bit slower and more melodic.  The cream of the crop on this 7" being the closing track "Easy Going."  It has a nice mid tempo beat with an ultra catchy chorus.  All five songs are great in their own way and they actually are the songs that make up the first half of the Broken Rekids singles compilation that came out in 1998.

I picked up another interesting Sprocket Wheel release while in Japan and I'll try to get that one written up in the next few weeks. 

Sprocket Wheel - 2nd EP 7":

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Absolute Best Records Of 2018


2018 was an interesting year to say the least.  From the highest of highs when my wife and I purchased our first house (with a dedicated music/records room) to the lows of watching the rest of the world seemingly burning down around us.  Once again I had a pretty great soundtrack to get me through everything.

It's probably no surprise that Hot Snakes tops the list this year, it's almost impossible to believe they wouldn't.  But I have to point out again just how great The Pretty Flowers album is.  It would likely have grabbed the top spot in any year that didn't have a John Reis band record released.  It's an incredible album that everyone really needs to go check out.

The top 10 is really strong this year.  Custody put out an unbelievably good album and followed that up with a great show that I was able to go see.  The Stayawakes also deserves your attention if they slipped under the radar.  I didn't even review Unlikely Friends this year as I didn't buy the CD in the hopes that it would eventually be released on vinyl.  It never was so I just ordered it.  I'll have a full review up in a few weeks.

Usually I have a top 30 list, but this year there just wasn't quite enough to fill it out since I don't count singles compilations (Marked Men, Carbonas) or reissues.  I'm uncertain as to why I had less records than usual.  Was it just a weaker year?  Am I getting older and more out of touch? Did I just not have as much disposable income due to the house purchase?  I'm not really sure.  I guess we'll have to wait until next year to see if this is a trend or a one year anomaly.

I'll be back writing my daily reviews on January 7th.  Until then, I'm just going to relax, enjoy some days off from work and sit on my couch and watch the New Japan Pro Wrestling Tokyo Dome show on January 4th.  See you next year.

01 - Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens - Sub Pop (Listen)
02 - The Pretty Flowers - Why Trains Crash - Dirt Cult (Listen)
03 - Custody - Custody - Little Rocket (Listen)
04 - The Stayawakes - Dogs And Cats / Living Together - Bad Horror (Listen)
05 - Unlikely Friends - Crooked Numbers - Swoon (Listen)
06 - JD McPherson - Socks - New West (Listen)
07 - Hateman - Radio Hate - 1000% D.I.Y. (Listen)
08 - Clearance - At Your Leisure - Top Shelf (Listen)
09 - Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive - Merge (Listen)
10 - Summerman - Fan - Super Capsaicin (Listen)

11 - Wild Animals - The Hoax - Waterslide
12 - Lawsuit Models - Off The Pavement - Snappy Little Numbers
13 - Down And Outs - Double Negative - Waterslide/All In Vinyl/Yo-Yo
14 - Hurry - Every Little Thought - Lame-O
15 - New Junk City - Same Places - Night Animal
16 - Songs For Snakes - Crystal Vapour Figure - Timid Crusher
17 - Cloud Nothings - Last Burning Building - Carpark
18 - V/A - A Tribute To Broccoli - Fixing A Hole
19 - Hooper - No Monument - Snappy Little Numbers
20 - V/A - 14 Soda Punx - Top Drawer

Other Records I Picked Up This Year:

Abolitionist - The Instant - 1859
Bedford Falls - Send More Bees - Brassneck/Dead Broke/Boss Tuneage
Carbonas - Your Moral Superiors - Goner (Singles Compilation)
Creeps - Beneath The Pines - It's Alive
Four Lights - Kobayashi Maru - Bomb Pop/Stardumb
Hard Feelings - Sideways - Dirt Cult
The Marked Men - On The Other Side - Dirtnap (Singles Compilation)
The Mr. T Experience - Shards Volume One - Sounds Rad (Singles Compilation)
The Mr. T Experience - Shards Volume Two - Sounds Rad (Singles Compilation)
Spells - Loose Change Vol. 1 - Snappy Little Numbers (Singles Compilation)
Treepeople - No Mouth Pipetting - Self Released (Reissue)
Soundtrack - Katamari Damacy - Mondo (Reissue)


Thursday, December 20, 2018

JD McPherson - Socks LP - Green Vinyl


New West (2018)

If you know me well, you probably know how much I love Christmas music.  While it seems that Christmas music can be a source of frustration for many, I have always embraced the warm sounds of songs singing the praises of Santa Claus.  I've be curating a playlist of Christmas songs for years now, fine tuning it constantly. Adding new songs, purging ones that don't quite cut it, it's a living breathing organism that I play with every year.  This year, I was able to add the best new addition I've found in ages, Socks.

I discovered this album on Instagram.  I follow a guitar maker called TK Smith and they posted a picture of this album on their feed.  As I picked up on the Joel Paterson Christmas album from them last year, I figured I would check out JD McPherson and see what it was all about.  What it's about is probably the best Christmas album released in the last forty years or so.  Every single song on this album is incredible and each deserves to be enshrined as classic Christmas songs going forward.

The album has a retro, 60s rock feel to it.  The tempo of the Beach Boys mixed with the energy of the Phil Spector Christmas album mixed with the vocal story telling of Gene Autry.  It's a conglomeration everything I love about Christmas records.  "All The Gifts I Need" has a horn accented swing feel to it, while "Bad Kid" is more of a Ventures-style (though with vocals) guitar track.

I've been debating which song on this album is my favorite and it tends to come town to the title track "Socks" and "Hey Skinny Santa."  "Socks" is a wonderful tale of disappointment in opening up the gift you've been waiting for all year only to find footwear waiting for you.  "Hey Skinny Santa" is a culinary tour of various cities and foods that Santa needs to make sure he's at the appropriate level of rotundness by the time the big day rolls around.

The thing about this album that makes it special is not only is it an incredible Christmas album, it's an amazing album period.  It's easily one of my favorite albums that has been released the entire year.  Even though this record will likely be relegated to December spins going forward, I can't fathom not listening to it every year for the rest of my life.  It's going to be a new staple of the season and I cannot recommend it enough.

JD McPherson - Socks:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Lisa Marr with the Tranzmitors - In The Summer 7" - Yellow Vinyl


Top Drawer (2019)

This 7" is really great.  I have to be honest that when I heard that Lisa Marr (from Cub) was getting together with The Tranzmitors to release a 7" of primarily cover songs, I though it sounded neat, but not particularly necessary.  Since two of the covers are Cub songs, I wasn't really sure what a rerecording could add to the musical canon as the originals are already out there existing on their own quite nicely.  Well, I was wrong.  This 7" is so much fun on every level.

First up is "In The Summer," originally by the Fastbacks, a band I was embarrassingly late to the party on.  This version of the song by Lisa & Co. is pretty faithful to the original with the same sort of bouncy rhythms and dynamic guitar work.  While it's not a reimagining of the original, it succeeds based on the sheer joy that comes through on this recording.  You can tell that everyone involved loves this song.

Next up are two Cub songs; "Magic 8 Ball" and "Pretty Pictures."  These two interpretations are much more different than the originals than "In The Summer" is.  Both have a little more fuzz and distortion on the guitars and maybe just a pinch more volume than you may be used to.  In particular the new dueling vocals on "Magic 8 Ball" are excellent and worth the price of admission all on their own.  Wrapping things up is a new composition called "Salvation."  If this is a hint of what could come of a longer term collaboration between Lisa Marr and The Tranzmitors, all I can say is someone really needs to book that studio time right now.

Lisa Marr with the Tranzmitors - In The Summer 7":

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Marked Men - On The Other Side LP - Teal Vinyl, White Vinyl & Black Vinyl


Dirtnap (2018)

One of the bands I miss more than any other is The Marked Men.  Yes, the Radioactivity records are great and give me my biennial dose of Jeff Burke songwriting, but there was a certain magic that The Marked Men had that puts them apart from all of their members various other projects.  Since it seems unlikely that The Marked Men will ever make a new album, it is nice that they've finally released a singles compilation.

One thing that I particularly enjoy about this release is that it's actually a complete compilation.  So many bands put out these sorts of things and then leave songs off of them, a decision that I will just never understand.  But The Marked Men do it right and every single song from every single 7" is represented along with a couple of previously unreleased songs.  Even though I had all of the prior singles, I was still pretty excited to have them compiled onto one easy to listen to LP.  As much as I adore the 7" format, I just don't listen to them as much as I listen to LPs.  This album gives me the chance to give these songs the attention that they've deserved all along.

On The Other Side is almost as strong as any of The Marked Men's full lengths.  There is very little in the way of filler and some of these songs like "She Won't Know," "Oh My Pretty Face," and "The Other Side" are just flat out incredible. 

Even though I tend not to go as variant crazy as I once did, it was important to me to keep my Marked Men collection complete.  I bought both limited version on teal vinyl (/300) and white vinyl (/300) plus the standard black.  While I still wish that we will hear from The Marked Men again, On The Other Side is a pretty incredible finale to one of my favorite bands of the past fifteen years.

The Marked Men - On The Other Side:

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hollie Cook - Sweet Like Chocolate 7"


Merge (2018)

I subscribed to the Merge Born Under A Good Sign, 30th anniversary subscription thing.  The description of what would be in this subscription was somewhat vague, but I couldn't run the risk of a Superchunk release that I might miss out on.  After all, I really can't fathom a Merge 30th celebration that didn't include something from Superchunk.  I guess we'll have to wait and see what 2019 holds.

2018 brought the first surprise release from this subscription.  I received a 7" from Hollie Cook.  I don't know anything about Hollie Cook and have never heard of her prior to this 7".  I can say that this isn't my bag at all and it'll likely just be filed away in the collection.  The A side is "Sweet Like Chocolate."  It's an unoffensive little slab of light, reggae tinged pop.  There's nothing bad about it, but it's really just kind of there.  Background music maybe.  I don't know, it's a mid tempo song that exists in some tropical club that I'd never go to.

The B side is a dub version of the same song.  So it has more sound effects.  That's about it.  Hey, it's a free surprise as part of the subscription.  I'm certainly not going to complain that it was sent, but it isn't the sort of thing I would have ever bought on my own.

Hollie Cook - Sweet Like Chocolate 7":

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues LP - Japanese Version


Atlantic (1978)

I made mention of this record in the 40th birthday tribute to Briefcase full of Blues I wrote a few days ago.  Unfortunately this Japanese version didn't show up in time for the group portrait.  Since it's here now, I figured I'd take a picture and write up something really quick.

I won't spend too much time talking about this record again.  It's great.  You probably know that already or at the very least, you know that I think it's great.  This version has the super cool Obi strip that's the standard for Japanese releases.  It also has liner notes that include the lyrics to every song in English and Japanese.  They even transcribed Elwood's speech thing during the "Can't Turn You Loose" introduction.  The little things like this are what fascinate me and make me collect multiple versions of certain records.

Sound quality wise, it sounds great.  It sounds a little bit crisper than most of the other versions I have.  I won't go so far as to say it's drastically different from any of the other pressings, but there is a clarity on this Japanese version that probably moves it to the front of the line.  That said, It was mostly the artwork that made me pick this up.

The Blues Brothers - "Soul Man":

The Blues Brothers - "Rubber Biscuit":

The Blues Brothers - "Messing With The Kid":

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Modern Goon - This Empty Space 7" - Red Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I'm trying to do some end of the year clean up to get through the last few items that were sent to me to review this year.  I've been putting off this 7" as I haven't been sure what exactly to say about it.  I guess what it boils down to is that this is the very first release on Snappy Little Numbers that I flat out do not like, with no caveats.

There were times where something they put out wasn't exactly up my alley, but it had the hooks or some other positive characteristic that made me understand where they were coming from.  That way, I can at least acknowledge the skill of the band and recommend it to people who are more into that particular sub-sub-genre.

I can't really find anything redeemable about Modern Goon.  It's just blunt force, punk/hardcore.  There's lots of yelling, lots of guitar noises that I'm not positive can be classified as chords and there's just nothing remarkable about any of the four songs.  It seems like the sort of thing you could hear from any high school band playing at any VFW punk show in the country.  Sorry SLN, everything else is great, but this one isn't for me at all.

Modern Goon - This Empty Space 7":

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Cyber Bullies - Leather And Lazers Cassette


More Power Tapes (2018)

I'll admit it, while looking through the small pile of tapes I have looking for one to review, I chose Cyber Bullies because of what complete dorks these guys look like on their album cover.  I'm sure it's supposed to be some kind of ironic, tongue in cheek thing that I don't get.  But seriously, look at these dudes.  I have no words.

Musically, it's fast and sloppy, with really loud keyboards. I wouldn't go so far as to say the songs are catchy, but they're not offensively bad and in general breeze past pretty quick.  The vocals, however, are pretty awful.  I can't say that the singer is screaming, because that's not accurate, but he's yelping in a way that pretty close to screaming and it's high pitched and all over the place.

I don't seem to like many of the releases that More Power Tapes put out.  Occasionally there will be something nice and surfy, or maybe leaning towards power pop, but the bulk of it seems to be by weirdo punk rockers doing weirdo punk rock things that go sailing over my head.  Maybe I'm an old square now, but I cannot wrap my head around who this tape would actually be geared towards.

Cyber Bullies - Leather And Lazers:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winstons / Invisible Teardrops - Split 7"


Snuffy Smiles (2016)

As I got ready to review this split 7", I had to look it up on Discogs to double check the year it was released.  I cannot believe this is from 2016.  I definitely haven't been sitting on this for two years, so maybe it was out in Japan for a while before I managed to pick up a copy.  It's not like me to be so behind on writing about a Snuffy Smiles record.

The Invisible Teardrops seem like an odd fit for a Snuffy Smiles release.  They have sound that reminds me a bit of Sedatives, in no small part due to the extremely prominent use of organ.  There's lots of good downstroked guitar chords that I like, but I'm not really into the reverb drenched, echo-y vocals.  Perhaps I was expecting something with a bit more pop punk behind it.

Winstons also aren't the sort of band I would typically associate with Snuffy Smiles.  With their jangly guitars and soul-style delivery, it's totally out of left field.  I like this a lot more than the Invisible Teardrops side as it has a vaguely Stax-esque flavor to it and I do dig that sound a lot.  It's just not the sort of release I'd expect from my favorite punk rock label of all time. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Otis Redding - Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)


Atlantic (2017)

Over the next few months, I will be writing about each of the individual albums in the Otis Redding Definitive Studio Albums box set. It would be far too daunting a task to try to summarize so many great albums into one review for the entire set. Otis Redding is one of my favorites and each album deserves to be savored.

The third full length album from Otis Redding in this box set is the classic Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul.  I already have another version of this LP, but I'll probably let that one go now that I have this box set.  Otis Blue is pretty much nonstop hits from start to finish.  Whether it's on his version of "Respect" (quite different than Aretha's, but just as good) or the undeniable energy of "Shake" or Otis' take on the Rolling Stones classic "Satisfaction" every song on here is just amazing.

I would be hard pressed to pick my favorite Otis Redding album.  He has so many songs that are all so incredible, but if you wanted to argue that Otis Blue is the best, that's an argument that I would take seriously.  It's definitely one of my favorites.

Otis Redding - "Respect":

Otis Redding - "Shake":

Otis Redding - "Satisfaction":

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Cheap Clone - Barely Smile 7" - Green Vinyl


Just Because / Peanut Butter (2018)

I wasn't familiar with Cheap Clone prior to Just Because sending this record to me to check out.  I've ended up being pretty impressed by it.  And that is my favorite thing about someone sending me a record to review, you never know when you're going to stumble across new sounds that really click with you.

Cheap Clone definitely have a 90s indie rock feel to them.  There is a bit of a ramshackle feel to their jangly guitars that makes me think of a less boozy Replacements.  But that's kind of a lazy, half ass comparison and the band is very obviously not trying to sound like the Replacements with their dynamic harmonies and the way they seem to pursue the song's melody above all else.

Of the four songs, "430 Miles" is my favorite of the bunch.  Likely because it's the fastest, but also the vocal melody of the chorus really stands out from the other free.  It's an earworm in the best possible way.

Cheap Clone - Barely Smile 7":

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Great American House Fire - Promise Me Endings 12" - White Vinyl (/300)


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I have to say that I was completely taken aback by Great American House Fire when I put this record on the turntable.  I've come to expect plenty of great things from Snappy Little Numbers over the years, though in general, their releases have a pretty strong pop lean that is right up my alley. So I was quite surprised at how soulful this Great American House Fire EP is.

Musically, they seem to have one foot in the Jawbox school of punk rock witch crunchy guitar sounds and a penchant for start/stop riffs.  But the vocals layered on top of this are more in line with bands like The Ballantynes or something out of the 70s Stax catalog.  All I can say is it's just a warm, soul drenched delivery that is in pretty stark contrast to the music, but somehow works better than you'd think just reading that description.

On paper, I don't think this should work.  But when the record is actually playing and the songs are coming out of the speakers, it seems like this sort of pairing absolutely goes together.  Oh, this is also a really cool one sided 12" with a screen print on the B side.  So, it's sharp looking to boot.

Great American House Fire - Promise Me Endings 12":

Monday, December 3, 2018

Superchunk - Our Work Is Done 7"


Merge (2018)

Superchunk released another in their series of benefit 7"s recently and it features two new songs, one original and a cover.  I opted to get the black vinyl version of this 7" this time.  From the stats they posted online, it looks like there were actually less black pressed than the autographed, colored vinyl version.  While I am a sucker for colored vinyl, autographs aren't anything I really care about all that much.  With the holidays coming up, it was just easier for me to opt for the version that was $15 cheaper.  That said, the funds go to a good cause, so this is in no way me griping about any costs.  It's a benefit and people should give as much as they can.

The A side is a new Superchunk original called "Our Work Is Done."  It's almost great.  As a song, it's one of the poppiest they've done in a while.  It scratches every itch I have for a Superchunk song, and I probably like it more than any of the songs on their also great last full length.  But then there are the backing vocals by Fucked Up's Damian Abraham.  I don't know why they were added.  The harsh, hardcore scream along with Mac's higher pitched, melodic vocals is a total disconnect for me and it really drags down an otherwise incredible track.

The B side is "Total Eclipse" and that's a cover song that was originally done by Klaus Nomi.  I'm not familiar with Klaus, but a quick Google search brought up some pretty interesting videos.  The Superchunk version of the song is heavy on background guitar feedback, but that doesn't overtake the hook the same way that Damian does in "Our Work Is Done."  "Total Eclipse" is a perfectly serviceable Superchunk B side.  It's not incredible, but it's good and a solid addition to my ever growing Superchunk 7" collection.

Superchunk - Our Work Is Done 7":

Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Junk City - Same Places LP


Night Animal / Secret Pennies / Real Ghost (2018)

New Junk City is a band that keeps randomly popping back into my life when I'm not expecting them.  I had a split 7" of theirs sent to me to review a few years ago, they ended up as one of the bands on an All In Vinyl single series that I subscribed to and now a full length album has shown up at my door. 

Same Places is a full length album's worth of all of the things that have made me like the New Junk City 7"s I've heard over the last several years.  This is a band playing energetic, punked up pop songs.  In reading the bio sheet, the label compares the band to several other bands that I don't think they sound like much.  Looking around the internet at other reviews of this album, it seems like most websites are essentially copying and pasting that bio and trying to pass it off as a review.  That sort of thing annoys me to no end.

What I hear are gruff vocals that remind me a little bit of that guy from Flatliners, but over top of music that's significantly better than anything The Flatliners ever released.  There's a certain amount of late 90s energy, in a Burning Airlines sort of way, but more straightforward and with a heavier emphasis on being catchy.  Or maybe a less polished version of late era Samiam, keeping the hooks in tact, but assembling things a bit rougher around the edges.

However you want to try to describe New Junk City, it boils down to the fact that the record is really good and worth checking out.  I might not being paying as much attention to them as I should, but I'm happy that outside forces keep putting this band back in front of me so I don't miss out on anything.

New Junk City - Same Places:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues - 40 Years Old Today


On November 28th in 1978, the Blues Brothers album Briefcase Full of Blues was released.  Today marks forty years since this album came out.  I was still a week away from my second birthday, but this album being released still ranks as one of the most important events of my life.  Now, as a not-quite two year old, I have no memory of the day this was released.  I also don't know exactly how long it was before I heard the record for the first time, but I can say that by the time I was three, the Blues Brothers were my favorite band in the world.

I've asked my parents how I got into The Blues Brothers and neither one of them really seem to remember.  My mom thinks she was the one who bought the record as she liked them on Saturday Night Live, but the actual music they are playing is more in line with the sort of music my dad liked a bit more.  Neither one of them view the moment as life altering as I do and I wish they had been paying a little more attention to the events as they unfolded.  However this record came into my life, its impact has never waned and while I've said it many, many times in the past, I don't think I would be the same person and I'm not sure I would have ever gotten so into music if it weren't for the initial spark that the Blues Brothers provided.

Over the years I've listened to this album countless times.  I've bought it repeatedly to have different versions on colored vinyl, remastered reissues and various singles that were released from it.  I even recently bought the Japanese pressing of the LP, but it didn't show up in the mail in time to take a picture of it for today.  I've reviewed this record several times on this site in the past.  You can read those if you want more of a song by song account and further details of how important this record is to me.  For today, I just want to make mention of this milestone and say how thankful I am to everyone that played a part in putting this record out.  It means more to me than I could ever articulate.

The Blues Brothers - "Soul Man":

The Blues Brothers - "Rubber Biscuit":

The Blues Brothers - "Messing With The Kid":

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cloud Nothings - Last Burning Building LP - Clear Vinyl


Carpark (2018)

I spent  a great deal of 2018 counting down the days until the new Cloud Nothings album was released.  Everything I read about it made it seem like it would be right up my alley.  While their last album, Life Without Sound, took things in a slightly quieter direction for the band, Last Burning Building was advertised as a return to the loud, heavy guitar sound that the band had employed on earlier albums.  I think they went too far in the other direction.

Here And Nowhere Else is the album that got me into Cloud Nothings and I still that record is essentially perfect.  A wild blend of crunchy and loud guitars, mixed with big hooks and impassioned melodies.  Everything else I've listened to from Cloud Nothings has been me chasing that perfect mix.  Last Burning Building falls short.  In general it's just too dour and is lacking the melodies that are the reason I fell for the band to begin with.

Whether it's the non-stop screaming in album opener "On An Edge" or the plodding guitar riff of "So Right So Clean" or the super unnecessary, never-ending feedback mess of the ten plus minute long "Dissolution," Life Without Sound is directionless and lacks cohesion as an album.  That said, when the band does stick to the upbeat and noisy pop songs that they are best at, the results are incredible. Both "Leave Him Now" and "Another Way Of Life" are outstanding songs, as great as anything else the band has ever churned out.  What I wouldn't give for an album full of songs like these.

Cloud Nothings - Last Burning Building:

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bud Bronson & The Good Timers - Between The Outfield and Outer Space LP - Green Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I think this band has a silly name and although I'm not one that typically puts too much stock in a band's name (I do have four Goober Patrol records, after all), I wonder if some folks might overlook this record.  I certainly wasn't expecting such strong pop hooks based on the band name and album artwork.

While I do appreciate all of the singalong choruses and the general catchiness of most of these songs, there is probably a bit too much lead guitar noodling for my personal taste.  I find myself digging into a song only to have it morph into a Minibosses style shred fest.  Those are the moments where I'm less interested, but when the band keeps is simpler and relies more on the riffs than the leads like on "Back To The Womb" or "Leave It Open" I'm completely captivated.

Ultimately Between The Outfield And Outer Space is a bit of a mixed bag for me.  There are moments in every song that I like and a handful of the songs are pretty great.  But there's so much lead guitar on this record and I keep having late 80s pop metal flashbacks when they kick in.  I'm just a simple man and I guess I like music that's a bit simpler as well.

Bud Bronson & The Good Timers - Between The Outfield and Outer Space:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Otis Redding - The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)


Atlantic (2017)

Over the next few months, I will be writing about each of the individual albums in the Otis Redding Definitive Studio Albums box set.  It would be far too daunting a task to try to summarize so many great albums into one review for the entire set.  Otis Redding is one of my favorites and each album deserves to be savored.

Next up is Otis Redding's second full album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads.  It's a lengthy little album title and it does seem a little presumptive to be calling Otis great on just his second album.  But by the time the album ends, there's just no doubt that he richly deserves that moniker.  Incredible song after incredible song reveal themselves as the record plays.  I think the most famous song from this album is the classic "Mr. Pitiful," and it's a classic for a reason.

That's just one of so many great tracks on this album. "That's How Strong My Love Is," "I Want To Thank You" and "Home In Your Heart" are easily on par with "Mr. Pitiful" and show just how much Otis grew from his first album to this one.  You can tell already that he's something special and is every bit as great as the album title suggests.

Otis Redding - "Home In Your Heart":

Otis Redding - "That's How Strong My Love Is":

Otis Redding - "Mr. Pitiful":

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Jamie 4 President - The Heartbreak Campaign CD


Waterslide (2017)

Jamie 4 President is another project from Wild Animals singer/guitarist Jamie Ruiz Green.  I really think Wild Animals are a fantastic band, so I was excited to listen to this album.  While you will absolutely hear similarities to his other band (it is the same singer after all), Jamie 4 President explores new sounds that really differentiate it from Wild Animals records.

What I hear most from Jamie 4 President is a similarity to the sort of lower-fi US indie rock of the mid 90s. Maybe a little bit like poppier Guided By Voices (though not quite that lo-fi) or perhaps owing some inspiration to the more upbeat moments of the Polyvinyl catalog.  I tend to enjoy the louder songs the best like "Everything Fades" and "Power Ballad Prince," but every song on this album is worth checking out.  I'd also be remiss not to point out "Far From Blue," with it's "Lucky Denver Mint" style drumming and big, catchy chorus.

The Heartbreak Campaign is a great listen.  Whether you're already familiar with Wild Animals or not, it's worth checking out.  And if you haven't heard Wild Animals, you should correct that oversight right away.

Jamie 4 President - The Heartbreak Campaign:

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Black Paw - Bait 7"


Night Animal (2018)

I've been missing the band Rumspringer for years.  They were one of my favorite discoveries of the past ten years or so and I still have both of their albums in heavy rotation.  It's so exciting to see Wes from Rumspringer with a new band called Black Paw.  Formed from the ashes of the short lived New Colonies, Black Paw provide four songs of the sort of crunchy, melodic pop punk that I love.

Black Paw is gruff without sacrificing the hooks and they are aggressive without losing sight of the melody.  The four songs on this 7" are every bit as good as anything Rumspringer ever cranked out.  I'm so thrilled it exists and the only issue I have is that there are only four songs.  A fourteen song full length would be much better and would have certainly placed high on my records of the year list if the other theoretical songs were as good as the four on this 7".

 I have nothing further to add.  This is excellent.  Go buy it right now.

Black Paw - Bait 7":