Friday, September 18, 2020

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

Untitled

Merge (2020)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Dr. Bombay 12"

Untitled

1992 (Elektra)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 14, 2020

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

Untitled

Big Neck (2020)

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 11, 2020

Diaz Brothers - Diaz Brothers LP

Untitled

Boss Tuneage (2020)

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

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

Untitled

Elektra (1991)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 7, 2020

Bauwave - U R Everything LP

Untitled

Salinas (2020)

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 4, 2020

Pavement - Sensitive Euro Man Picture Disc

Untitled

Matador (2020)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Del The Funky Homosapien - Mistadobolina 12"

Untitled

Elektra (1991)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 31, 2020

Broken Record - I Died Laughing Cassette

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 28, 2020

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

Untitled

Disorder (1986)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Boogie Down Productions - Sex And Violence LP

Untitled

Get On Down (2015, Reissue)

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

Sex And Violence was the final Boogie Down Productions full length album.  It came out in 1992 and I vividly remember when it was released.  The video for "Duck Sown" had started playing on Yo MTV Raps and I just adored that song.  Even today it would rank quite high if I was making a list of my favorite BDP songs.  I acquired my copy of the CD through one of those BMG Music Club 8 CDs for a penny gimmicks.  My CD copy still has that little BMG barcode type thing on it.

I have read over the years that there are some who do not think this particular BDP album rates as highly as some of their prior releases.  And while I will be the first to admit that there's nothing at the level of say "My Philosophy," it's a bit unfair to try to compare this album to one of the all time great songs in the history of hip hop.

I think Sex And Violence is solid from start to finish.  The songs, while maybe a bit rougher than those on Edutainment, have the same sort of high IQ lyrics that really tell stories and make some salient points.  The beats are much harder hitting and part of me thinks that's why the record took some by surprise when it came out.  I actually like the production on this a lot and think the beats use clever samples and memorable hooks.  "Duck Down" is still the highlight for me, but "The Original Way," "Like A Throttle," "Drug Dealer" and "How Not To Get Jerked" are bubbling right underneath and can hold their own with anything in the Boogie Down Productions catalog.

With this LP, I have all of the BDP full length albums on vinyl.  I don't have the Live Hardcore Worldwide live album, but I'm honestly not sure I need to get that one.  I haven't listed to my CD version of that since I finally tracked down a copy Criminal Minded and had better versions of that album's songs.  I also never enjoyed the KRS-One solo albums anywhere near as much as Boogie Down Productions.  I bought Return of the Boom Bap right when it came out, but it never hooked me and that was the last KRS-One album that I bought.  If I've missed anything important, let me know, but I'm pretty confident that by having all of the BDP albums, I have the best songs covered.

Boogie Down Productions - Sex And Violence (YouTube music full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mRwYXQqvm2pxlfuEyWgoCySVf8Nu8P2R0

Monday, August 24, 2020

See-Saw - Get A Chance! 7"

Untitled

Secret Mission (2019)

I'm having some sort of bizarre deja vu with this record.  I thought I wrote about it already, but I keep looking around and I can't find what I wrote.  I vividly remember this cover artwork, but I don't think I've done anything with it yet.  I even thought that maybe the band had another 7" I'd already reviewed, but I can't find that either.  What I'm getting at here is if I have somehow written about this record before and you find it before I do, you are much better at searching that I am.

Anyway, on to the record.  See-Saw are from Japan and play fast and catchy garage-y pop-punk.  If that sounds like a good mix of descriptors to you, I don't imagine you would be disappointed popping this record on your turntable.  The two A side songs are blazing fast with a slightly distorted guitar tone that still lets some of that nice power pop jangle shine through.

The B side song, "Don't Cry Anymore," slow things down a little bit but still has that same inherent hook-iness that the two faster songs have.  Now, is this a band that ranks as highly as some of my favorite Japanese bands?  No, they are more on the garage end of the spectrum whereas I prefer bands keep things more rooted in pop punk sounds.  That said, I do think this is a pretty good little 7".  I like all three songs and would be interested in hearing some more from See-Saw.

See-Saw - "Get A Chance!":
https://soundcloud.com/secretmissionrecords/get-a-chance-by-the-see-saw

Friday, August 21, 2020

that dog. - Retreat From The Sun LP

Untitled

Third Man (2020, Reissue)

Last week I wrote about that dog.'s (seriously, how do you type the possessive of a band name that's written like this...) 1995 album Totally Crushed Out.  I mentioned how I bought it quite soon after its release and how I was a huge fan of it for twenty five years.  Today, I'm writing about Retreat From The Sun, the next album in the that dog. catalog and the one I blew it on.

When Retreat From The Sun came out in 1997, I didn't like it.  At all.  I'm pretty sure I bought it (though it's also distinctly possible I got it as a promo from my college newspaper) and listened to it a few times, filed it in my CD collection and at some point sold it during a purge.  When that dog. played Riot Fest a few years ago and announced they were playing this album in its entirety, I thought that was such a waste.  I was a total dipshit.

When Third Man announced they were rereleasing these two that dog. records, I texted my buddy Scott as I was really psyched about Totally Crushed Out.  I wasn't even planning on buying Retreat From The Sun, but the way he talked about it made me think I needed to give it a second chance.  I held off on buying Totally Crushed Out and decided to listen to Retreat From The Sun a few times to see if I missed something the first time around.

Well, I sure did.  I'm positive I'll always think Totally Crushed Out is better, especially having twenty five years of history with it, but Retreat From The Sun is really every bit as strong.  I have no earthly idea why I didn't like this in 1997.  I can only assume I was too wrapped up in whatever punk rock hits were being released at that time and this probably sounded too polished for my oh-so-cool ears.  Well, I can say conclusively that I was so wrong about this album and I wish that I could have been listening to it in the years since it came out.

All of the songs are great, but to me the best of the bunch is "Minneapolis."  It is as good as the very best that dog. songs from any album of theirs.  I'm grateful that Third Man decided to rerelease these records.  Totally Crushed Out is a one I've always wanted on vinyl, but had these reissues not come out I still probably would be missing out on the greatness that is Retreat From The Sun.

that dog. - Retreat From The Sun (YouTube Music album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mcNjSurPiflRMYD2mukbAmcG5ASU_GEn8

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Large Professor - The LP 2xLP - Silver Vinyl

Untitled

Paul Sea (2019)

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

Large Professor's debut release was not something I was able to listen to during the golden era of hip hop.  Even if I had wanted to, it was shelved by Geffen before its expected release in 1995 or 1996.  That said, even if it had been released in 1995, there's a better than average chance I would never had heard it as I was well removed from what was going on in hip hop by then.  Luckily for the world, this lost classic was finally released back in 2009 and luckily for me, it was rereleased again in 2019 on silver vinyl for its 10 year anniversary.

If I had heard this record in 1992 or 1993, there's no question in my mind that I would have been a huge fan.  The beats are classic golden era style with rumbling bass and upbeat tempos.  The lyrics are dynamic with innovative rhyme structures.  If anything, I can almost understand why the record might have been shelved as by 1995 this style of hip hop, the one that I always connected with the most, was quickly becoming a thing of the past.  The commercial direction or rap music didn't really have many records that sounded like this anymore.

I really dig it.  Of course it's recommended for Main Source fans as that's the group Large Professor was in and is likely best known for.  But if you haven't been paying as much attention to hip hop since the glory days, it's probable this reissue may have passed under your radar as it did mine in 2009.  It's the perfect kind of throwback.  Something new to listen to that sounds like the older records that I love so much.

The Large Professor - The LP (YouTube music playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kPX4n5J48sV-WsiTbkhN4THwbACyQTW6w

Monday, August 17, 2020

King Kong vs. Godzilla - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP

Untitled

Doxy Cinematic (2018)

This is pretty much the last of the Godzilla soundtracks that is readily available on vinyl, at least that I'm aware of.  During the online San Diego Comic Con it was heavily implied that Mondo will be releasing a bunch of the Godzilla and other Toho soundtracks in time, though what movies may receive this treatment wasn't really clarified.  All I know is that if nothing else, I really hope that some day I will be able to own the soundtracks for all of the Showa Godzilla movies.  They are true slices of my childhood.

And during that childhood, few movies were as big a deal to me as King Kong vs. Godzilla.  While Terror of Mechagodzilla was always my personal favorite, even as a kid I knew that Godzilla's battle with King Kong was much more well known and more important to the masses.  Grownups with zero interest in Godzilla movies knew there was one where he fought King Kong.  The soundtrack is every bit as fun as the movie is.

This is one of my favorite Akira Ifukube scores.  There is plenty of brass heavy Godzilla city pounding music, but what I like the most about this soundtrack are the island themes.  While looking back at some of the island scenes these days, you can't help but cringe a little bit.  That said, Ifukube's score for these scenes, particularly "The Sleeping Devil," steal the show and elevate everything in camera.

I now have vinyl soundtracks for Godzilla 1954, King Kong vs. Godzilla and two compilations of music from the Showa and Heisei era films.  There are a lot of gaps still left.  I'm hopeful that Mondo will be able to fill those up in the coming years, but from what I saw on their YouTube panel, I'd be very surprised if we got a chronological walk through of every soundtrack.  I'll take whatever I can get, but I'm hopeful we get it all.

Friday, August 14, 2020

that dog. - Totally Crushed Out LP

Untitled

Third Man (2020, Reissue)

In 1994 and 1995 I was beyond obsessed with Beck.  I was losing my mind trying to hunt down every record, single, compilation appearance or guest appearance I could get my hands on.  This was a crucial time where the record collecting bug really dug its claws into me.  This was also a time where I was exploring and learning a great deal about other indie rock bands, particularly those from the Pacific Northwest and those that had some ties, no matter how loose, to Beck.  A band whose ties weren't loose at all was that dog.

that dog. (it always looks weird writing the stylized version of their name in a sentence) appeared on several Beck songs during this era.  These songs also happened to be some of my very favorites such as "Totally Konfused" and "Steve Threw Up."  When Totally Crushed out came out in 1995, I won't go so far as to say I bought it immediately, but I definitely picked up pretty soon after it was released.

This is an album that I've loved for quite some time.  I love the way the crunchy guitar plays with Petra Haden's violin. I love the way the vocal harmonies built off of each other to crescendo in the choruses.  I love the sugary pop melodies and the simple stories built upon the emotions and ache that comes with being young and having an unreturned crush.  There's so much about this record that is perfect, and all of it holds up amazingly well twenty five years later.

On top of the great songs and nostalgic emotions that they stir, Third Man has done an incredible job with the reissue.  As far as the artwork and packaging go, the standard version that you can buy isn't anything particularly special.  But when you put this on the turntable, hot damn the speakers just come alive.  They've done an incredible job with this one and I can definitely say that Totally Crushed Out has never sounded better than it does on this reissue.

that dog. - Totally Crushed Out (YouTube Music playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mXI21q7lD9AGCj-a5PhOSl3tFmhngQNmk

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Erick Sermon - No Pressure LP

Untitled

Def Jam (1993)

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

I've said on more than a few occasions that Business Never Personal by EPMD is one of my absolute favorite hip hop records.  I really think it was the peak of EPMD and the fact that they acrimoniously split up after that album is a real bummer and one of the bigger 'what ifs' that I can think of.  I can only imagine what they would have come up with for their next album.  Though, I guess we can see pieces of that with the respective Erick Sermon and Parish Smith solo records.

No Pressure was Erick Sermon's foray into single life in 1993. I'm not sure how exactly, but I completely missed this album in 1993.  I never heard a second of it and it wasn't until much later that I listened to it for the first time.  I've tried out some other Erick Sermon solo records, but this is the only one that ever stuck with me.  It's pretty much the only one that feels rugged and has production that sounds like EPMD.  I feel like the R&B influences were far too prevalent by the time he got to his sophomore release Double Or Nothing, but No Pressure still hits pretty hard.

Parish Smith is definitely missed on this album.  E holds his own on the mic and is pretty masterful when it comes to production, but asking him to essentially carry the entire record is probably too much.  The back and forth that was such a huge part of EPMD is obviously not part of No Pressure, and its absence is really noticeable.  But if you take this album at face value and don't try to compare it to EPMD (which is quite difficult), it's a solid early 90s hip hop record.  It might not hit the highs of Erick's work with EPMD, but it is miles better than Parish Smith's PMD solo record that came out the following year.

Erick Sermon - No Pressure (YouTube music album link):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lYitgUO98oO1KmW-fiftlXMhJ3BUM6TSY

Monday, August 10, 2020

Dinged Up - Mucho Dolor LP - Red Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers / Wallride (2020)

One thing I will say about Snappy Little Numbers as a label is that they put out a lot of records and boy do they have a knack for picking up on bands I have never heard of before.  From what I've read, Dinged Up has been kicking around for quite a while and Mucho Dolor is their second album that was originally released in 2016.  That release was only digital, so the album is seeing vinyl for the very first time.

When I first put on the record, I was put off by the vocals.  They do have something of a muppet quality to them and it comes off sort of affected.  All I will say is that you need to give it a couple of songs.  It quickly becomes normal and actually meshes wonderfully with the bouncy guitar riffs and the upbeat nature of the music.

I find it very difficult to throw out other bands to compare Dinged Up to.  If you're looking for a quick and dirty RIYL, I'm going to let you down big time with this review. What I can say is that the entire record is relentless catchy, no matter what sub genres Dinged Up venture to from song to song. I love the tone of the guitar and I'll be damned that by the end of the record, the vocals I initially thought were too quirky and a detriment become one of the album's biggest assets.  This is a weird one, but I really dig it.

Dinged Up - Mucho Dolor:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/mucho-dolor



Monday, August 3, 2020

Mammals - The Hours 7"

Untitled

Lamont (2018)

This is the last Mammals 7" I have and it's the second one they released.  Having really enjoyed the other two, it was not the least bit surprising that I enjoy this one just as much.  It's been a bummer the last few months.  Trapped in our house for months, no end to the world's stupidity in sight.  A lot of times it just feels like everything is burning down around us.  While it's not an antidote to the troubles of the day, there is something to be said about the healing power of music. Mammals have tapped into an upbeat vibe that just makes me feel better, even if it only lasts the duration of the 7".

Both songs on this record are as good as the other four I've heard.  They've got a bouncy Odd Numbers feel to them mixed in with just the right amount of sunny 60s harmonies and Rickenbacker jangle.  (Full disclosure, I have no idea if they actually play Rickenbackers, but they've really captured the chime that you'd hear on a Byrds or early Tom Petty album).

Mammals are three for three with excellent 7"s.  The only thing that I don't like about them is there's only three of them.  While I love the 7" format and certainly can get down with a barrage of excellent singles, when it comes to Mammals I'm always left wanting more.  I hope these guys keep it up and put out many more of these great tunes.  Maybe a full length one day?  I'd certainly be into that.

Mammals - The Hours 7":
https://mammals.bandcamp.com/album/the-hours

Friday, July 31, 2020

Snuff - The Wrath of Thoth 12" EP - Six Different Colors of Vinyl

Untitled

10 Past 12 / Unless You Try (2020)

I don't know what's wrong with me.  I don't know why I need six copies of this 12".  But I do.  The first pressing of this EP occurred pretty much right as the pandemic was getting underway and my record buying income was reduced to essential nil.  I watched as the orange and green vinyl pressings of these albums sold out without me having bought them.  I scraped together enough cash to at least get the version that Unless You Try was selling, but I felt sad and incomplete.

Then, it was repressed on three more colors of vinyl.  So, I sold a 1980s Rat guitar pedal on eBay.  This gave me the money to pounce on the Snuff website when they miraculously found a few more of the sold out first pressing copies.  So I picked up four copies in total from them and the last one I needed on blue vinyl from Dead Broke.  This was too complicated for me, but I just can't help how much I love Snuff and have for decades.

The songs on here are quite good too.  Every Snuff record has at least a handful of transcendently incredible songs and this one is no exception.  Opener "Drink Freely From The Chalice of Lunacy" is not only in the running for best Snuff songs of the past fifteen years or so, it's also a pretty good description of the year 2020 as a whole.  Yes, have some.  All of the songs on this EP are fun and provide an excellent follow up to the last Snuff full length, There's A Lot Of It About.  I like the idea of more frequent Snuff releases, but next time I would prefer maybe two versions instead of six.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Casual & J Rawls - Respect Game or Expect Flames LP

Untitled

Nature Sounds (2012)

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

As I've mentioned several times, Fear Itself by Casual is my second favorite hip hop album of all time. I still listen to it constantly and feel that it really holds up as a true classic of the genre.  Casual's other work has been a bit more hit and miss for me over the years.  While as an MC, Casual is beyond consistent and incredible, but the beats on his album haven't always been as reliably great.  There have been standouts over the years, in particular Truck Driver jumps out as one of the very best, but there have been other albums that fell flatter for me.

Respect Game or Expect Flames immediately jumps up on the list of my all time favorite Casual albums.  While this came out all the way back in 2012, I heard it for the first time within the last year or so.  J Rawls has created a perfect musical canvas for Casual to display his lyrical prowess.  While it doesn't sound like the quintessential 90s Hiero sound, the beats on this album are rooted in boom bap tradition, but work in innovative and jazzy measures.

Two cuts featuring other Hierglyphics members really stand out.  Del The Funky Homosapien checks in on the title track "Respect Game or Expect Flames" with typically excellent results.  The other is "Hier-o-dot" with it's uptempo bass line and guitar riff hooks.  I always feel these faster songs are where the Hiero crew truly excels and with drop ins from Souls of Mischief it's a real standout on the record.Modern hip hop isn't always the most exciting thing to me, but it's nice to know that 90s stalwarts are still out and about, creating and keeping old people like me interested. Even if it takes us eight years to show up to the party.

Casual - "Respect Game of Expect Flames":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i_3YSqV-4k&feature=emb_title




Monday, July 27, 2020

Songs For Snakes - Airspeed Is Everything 7"

Untitled

Timid Crusher (2020)

It's been two years sing we last heard from Songs For Snakes and their Crystal Vapour Figure LP.  They're back with a two song 7" and it's as potent and excellent as anything else the band has released.  While it may be impossible to listen to Songs For Snakes without conjuring images of Jawbreaker or Playground in your head, they consistently crank out catchy and powerful working class punk tunes.

A side "Airspeed Is Everything" is one of the longer songs in the Songs For Snakes arsenal, and while some of that is due to a lengthy intro there's never a wasted moment once the meat of the song kicks in.  The Bivouac-ian verse pushes the song forward into a brief, but dynamic chorus where the guitars soar.  Also, I should point out that the bass really stands out on this song as being the glue that holds everything together.  It's a great song.

On the B side we have "Let Them Eat Hate."  This one starts off with the tried and true muddled movie quote (I assume it's from a movie or something like that) over guitar feedback until the song kicks off in earnest.  As good as "Airspeed Is Everything" is, this is actually my favorite of the two songs on this 7".  The guitar work is outstanding, creating interesting textures without crossing the line into guitar solo wankery.  It's a concise, straightforward punk song, but has that extra little something that makes it stand out from the pack.

It's another excellent release from Songs For Snakes and it just makes me repeat something I say nearly every time I write about one of their records.  I don't understand how they aren't a bit more well known than they are.  Especially with old punks like me.  If you're reading this, you should fix that and pick up some or all of their records.

Songs For Snakes - Airspeed Is Everything 7":
https://songsforsnakes.bandcamp.com/album/airspeed-is-everything

Friday, July 24, 2020

Frankie Stubbs - Blood Orange Moon 7" (Red, Orange, Yellow and Black Vinyl)

Untitled

Rad Girlfriend / Little Rocket (2020)

There are few songwriters in this world that have had as much impact on me as Frankie Stubbs.  Between Leatherface, Pope, Jesse and his sporadic solo work, he has compiled one of the most impressive discographies that I've had the pleasure of hearing.  This 7" is just Frankie and an acoustic guitar, much like his 1995 Unhinged 7" on Rugger Bugger or his 10" on Sounds of Subterranean that came out in 2000.

I really have been trying to cut down on buying multiple copies of the same record.  But, there are a handful of bands that I'll always be a little variant crazy about.  Seeing four different colors of a Frankie Stubbs 7" was just to much for me to ignore.  Despite my record buying budget being infinitesimal right now, I ponied up and bought all four.  I did something similarly stupid with a new Snuff EP.  There are some bands that I just can't help myself with.

On this 7" are three new Stubbs composition as well as an acoustic version of the Leatherface song "Shipyards" from The Last.  "Shipyards" is a perfect Leatherface song to get the acoustic treatment.  Its melancholy is only emphasized by stripping it down to the very basics.  The other three songs are just the sort of perfect songs you'd expect Frankie Stubbs to be writing.  And while they completely work as solo acoustic songs, they all have the sort of layered chord structures and changes that you know they would be fierce rippers if Frankie plugged in and was backed by a tight rhythm section.

It's been way too long since we heard new music from Frankie Stubbs.  I can only hope that this is the first of many new releases in the upcoming years.  Whether he's by himself or playing with others, the man is a treasure and the world is a better place with his songs.  And if he feels like plugging in, I know that I sure would enjoy it if he put Jesse back together.

Frankie Stubbs - Blood Orange Moon 7":
https://radgirlfriendrecords.bandcamp.com/album/blood-orange-moon-ep

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Ice Cube - Death Certificate LP - Lenticular Cover

Untitled

Priority (2015, Reissue)

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

For me, Death Certificate is the final piece of the Ice Cube trifecta.  Combine this with Amerikkka's Most Wanted and Kill at Will and you have three pretty stellar releases.  While I did buy The Predator when it came out and definitely enjoyed aspects of it, I'd have to say that Death Certificate is really the last of the Ice Cube releases that I thought was truly great.

A large part of why I this record ranks so highly for me is the one-two punch of "My Summer Vacation" and "Steady Mobbin'" on side one.  "My Summer Vacation" spins the tale of LA based drug dealers moving out to St. Louis and setting up shop.  The story is expertly set up with the twists and turns over one of my favorite laid back beats with tight drums and a slinky bass riff.  That gives way to my favorite Ice Cube track, "Steady Mobbin.'"

"Steady Mobbin'" is more upbeat built on P-Funk samples and a looped beeping sound effect. The video for this was frequently spun on Yo MTV Raps and was how this song became permanently lodged in my head.  These are just two highlights, though there are plenty of others.  Not everything is flawless and lyrically there are definitely elements that were questionable at best in 1991 and have aged even worse.  Still, there's something about these early Cube releases that have a fierce energy that elevates them to a higher level than many of the paint by numbers gangsta era releases of the mid 90s.

Ice Cube - Death Certificate (YouTube full album playlist - This is a 25th anniversary version with a few unnecessary extra songs stuck onto the beginning of the album)
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kQ5UMoPsVtt-E3I_ZP_Bgz-IyBxP3a__k

Monday, July 20, 2020

Falls - Egg Hunt CDEP

Untitled

Too Smell (2018)

I'm a little delayed on writing about a few CDs that I mail ordered from Japan quite a while ago at this point.  I'm desperate to do another order, but that's not really viable at the moment.  Luckily I still have some to write about, but I do feel guilty that it took me so long to get to this Falls EP.

For those of you with steel trap memories, you may recall that Falls was one of the excellent bands to play the Waterslide/PopKid show when I went to Japan in 2017.  They made an instant fan of me that night and each release of theirs that I pick up only reinforces that feeling.  Whenever I hear them it always makes me think of those late 90s days where emo was becoming a thing in the US, but it hadn't quite become a dirty word just yet.

The bands that always come to mind when I listen to Falls are Silver Scooter, early Three Minute Movie (Especially those 2 killer songs on their Braid split and my favorite song of theirs, "Fish Don't Think, They Swim," on that 3" compilation CD) and lastly the quieter moments of the band Boys Life.  The 4 main songs on this EP are as strong as anything that I've heard by Falls so far.  If you have either of their other EPs that I wrote about and you liked them, there's no way you won't dig this one just as much.

Falls - Egg Hunt:
https://fallsband.bandcamp.com/album/egg-hunt

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Artifacts - Between a Rock and a Hard Place 2xLP

Untitled

Art of Facts (2018, Reissue)

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

Artifacts were not a group I was aware of when Between a Rock and a Hard Place was originally released in 1994.  As 1994 was a big transitional year for me when it comes to music and what I was listening to, it's not surprising to me that I missed out on this, despite the group hailing from New Jersey.  I'm going to think that if this record had been released in 1993, I would have been on top of things.  But as it turned out, I didn't hear this album for the first time until many years after it came out.

That's a shame because this is an album that is exactly the sort of hip hop I was listening to back then.  The soulful funk beats produced by T-Ray, Buckwild of the Diggin' In The Crates crew and even by Redman on one track provide the perfect template for Tame One and El Da Sensei. To me, the beats straddle the ground somewhere in between EPMD and Black Sheep.

As lyricists, both Tame One and El Da Sensei can hold their own with some of the best of their time.  Their flows both tend to be more straightforward than some of the more out there folks of the golden era, but at the same time they are definitely a step ahead of of the paint by numbers MCs that were starting to be more common by the time 1994 had rolled around.  Artifacts put out a followup album in 1997 that I've actually never listened to.  It's really one I need to check out, but for whatever reason it's always been on the back burner.

Artifacts - Between a Rock and a Hard Place (YouTube full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lYxoI97B9vFf8EMB9sh4osXPUDgMLljLk

Monday, July 13, 2020

DZTN 1980 - Outside The City Cassette (/50)

Untitled

Self Released (2020)

As DZTN 1980 is the new project from Dustin Herron from Abolitionist, I know how DZTN is likely supposed to be pronounced.  But that doesn't stop my brain from calling it "Datsun 1980" every time I look at this cassette.

DZTN 1980 is essentially just Dustin and his electric guitars.  Those guitars are layered with a ton of swirling effects that create something of a dreamlike vibe to each composition.  What's missing is bass and drums.  Had the guitar been acoustic rather than electric, this would have been quickly slotted as singer songwriter by most, but the fuzzy noise keeps this different from your run of the mill bedroom troubadour.

That said, I think I would like this a lot more if it was more of a full band type of situation.  The songs are structured in a way that just beg for loud crashing drum fills to jump in and assist with the transitions.  Without them, the songs feel more like incomplete sketches than they do finished songs.  There's something to this tape that I dig, but I don't think that it's the sort of thing I could see myself listening to very much as is.

DZTN 1980 - Outside The City:
https://dztn1980.bandcamp.com/album/outside-the-city-lp-2020

Friday, July 10, 2020

Archers of Loaf - Talking Over Talk 7"

Untitled

Merge (2020)

Archers of Loaf are one of my favorite bands ever.  I still feel like their output up through Vee Vee is essentially flawless.  They had some bumps in the road after that and by the time they had put out White Trash Heroes, they weren't really ticking the boxes that I was looking for anymore.  I did get to see them play on their last ever tour in 1998 and when they went away into the night, it sort of just felt like the right time for them to do that.

As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and when the band played some reunion shows in 2011, I was all in and was so impressed by their performance in New York that year.  It probably didn't hurt that ninety percent of the songs they were playing were from Vee Vee and earlier.  Fast forward to 2020 and Archers announce that they are putting out new music, starting with a 7" for Record Store Day.  This will be accompanied by a tour.  Which was cancelled. And then the 7" was delayed because Record Store Day was cancelled.  Pandemic. Sucks.

Well, that RSD 7" is still coming out as part of a "RSD Drop" in August, but I'll be damned if anyone has actually explained what that means.  I'll bide my time and see what happens, but I imagine I'll end up having to buy that one on eBay.  All that rambling aside, what that means is that this Archers of Loaf 7", which was actually supposed to be their second release, turns out to be their first new record in over twenty years.

It's good.  It's not great.  It doesn't have the bursting energy of Icky Mettle or the noise-pop hooks of Vee Vee.  It's more subdued, though not as much as the White Trash Heroes era.  When it comes right down to it, both are good, solid songs.  What I'm missing is the dynamics.  The punchy guitar interplay and the feeling that the band was about to go off the rails at any second.  These songs are more straightforward and structured.  That's not to say they aren't good, I just like Archers best when they are a little more ramshackle and a bit angrier.

Archers of Loaf - Talking Over Talk 7":
https://archersofloaf.bandcamp.com/album/talking-over-talk-cruel-reminder

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030 2xLP

Untitled

Deltron Partners (2011, Reissue)

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

By 1995 I wasn't really paying much attention to hip hop any longer.  I was neck deep in indie rock and punk at that point.  I was just so disillusioned with hip hop and found that innovation and passion that I was looking for in a different place.  The one exception is that I did try to pay attention to and keep up with Del the Funky Homosapien and the rest of the Hieroglyphics crew.  I picked up their cassette only releases on Hiero Imperium and I was really excited to grab the Del album Both Sides of the Brain when it came out.

The problem with these records were that even though they were pretty good, they weren't as strong as their golden era counterparts that came out in '93 and '94.  I would eventually come to appreciate them more and more as the years went by, but in that exact moment I was a little underwhelmed, even though they were miles better than any other hip hop coming out at the time.  That all changed when the Deltron 3030 album came out in 2000.

Del was back in his truest, most excellent form.  The album is crammed full of hyper complicated rhyme structures and rhythms.  He bends and twists his lyrics to spin stories of a dystopian cyberpunk future one moment and then switches to full on battle rap mode in the next.  Dan the Automator handled the beats for this and has crafted a textured world that slowly burns from one song to the next.  It's not just that his beats are the perfect compliment to Del's flow, it's that he's so completely nailed the vibe of otherworldliness that the album really feels like something truly different and special.

Even though this album is twenty years old at this point, to me it still sounds way ahead of its time.  No one has ever come close to its uniqueness and I rank this right behind No Need for Alarm as being one of Del's best ever performances.

Deltron 3030 - Deltraon 3030:
https://delthefunkyhomosapien.bandcamp.com/album/deltron-3030

Monday, July 6, 2020

Night Slaves - Three and a Half LP - White Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Swimming Faith (2020)

I don't know that Night Slaves is really the best band name I have ever heard, but we'll put that to the side for right now.  This album was sent to me by the folks at Swimming Faith records.  When I opened up the package I was taken in by its colorful artwork, though less so by the description of the music that promised "a forgotten fever dream album dedicated to proto-punk/psych-garage."

There are a handful of descriptors in music that almost immediately signal to me that it's not going to be something that I like.  "Synth-punk" is the main one, but a close second is juxtaposing the word "psych" with just about any other genre.  And in that way, Night Slaves do not disappoint.  They have crafted a record that is absolutely not geared for me.

Yes, there are definitely traces of psych in this one rolled up into somewhat weaker garage sort of sounds that harkens back to the 60s to an extent.  But it's not done in a way that conveys much in the way of emotion or enthusiasm to me.  Most of the songs just kind of sit there.  You know you're in bad shape when the most memorable song on the album, "Absolute," is only memorable because it rips off the keyboards from ? and the Mysterians' "99 Tears."  Looking at this record in a vacuum, I suppose it's a perfectly serviceable psych-garage fever dream.  The problem for me is that's not the sort of dream I'm looking for in an album.

Night Slaves - Three and a Half
https://nightslaves.bandcamp.com/album/three-and-a-half

Friday, July 3, 2020

Fifteen - Extra Medium Kickball Star (17) LP - Screened Cover (/300)

Untitled

Dead Broke/Rebel Alliance (2017, Reissue (sort of))

IT never ceases to amaze me how I completely missed Fifteen the first time around.  And this is despite the fact that I've always loved Crimpshrine.  I guess it's just one of those weird cosmic anomalies, but I have enjoyed discovering their records over the last few years.

Extra Medium Kickball Star (17) was originally released in '95 and is the fourth Fifteen full length.  It was originally released on Rebel Alliance records and that ties into this version on Dead Broke.  It seems there were 300 leftover copies of the vinyl that were never sold.  Dead Broke scooped these up, made some fancy new screened artwork and unleashed them back into a very grateful world.  So this isn't really a reissue, but the artwork is new and that makes it a different version from the original pressing.

As far as the album itself goes, I love it.  It has the same rugged charm and big hooks of a Crimpshrine record and I think this is every bit as good as the Choice Of A New Generation LP that was reissued a couple of years ago.  I definitely need to track down the remaining Fifteen records that I don't have.  I think Buzz is next on my list and it looks like that one was reissued a couple of years ago and is still in print...

Fifteen - Extra Medium Kickball Star (17) (Youtube full album playlist):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_keJoGNtBbahf5p02fNMbI0XnuFeJxmxgQ

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Das EFX - Straight Up Sewaside LP - Brown Vinyl (/1000)

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Music On Vinyl (2019, Reissue)

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

I went pretty crazy for the first Das EFX album, Dead Serious, when it came out.  It was a huge favorite, one that I absolutely played to death in 1991.  By the time Das EFX was ready to unleash their follow up in 1993, their unique "diggedy" style had been co-opted and beaten into the ground by other, lesser artists.  Even Casual took aim at this on his Fear Itself album with the line "Enough of these motherfuckers biting Das EFX."

It's pretty clear that Das EFX took this rampant copycatting pretty seriously as they dropped that style completely for Straight Up Sewaside.  The result is a record that is still strong.  They delve into their usual pop culture references and  hit with sludgy beats and upbeat vocal interplay. But for whatever reason, it doesn't feel as playful or as fun as Dead Serious.  That's not even necessarily a bad thing, there's just a different vibe to this album.

When it came out in 1993, I loved it.  In many ways I thought it was an even stronger record than Dead Serious and I remember writing something like that in a review I wrote for my High School newspaper (yes, I've been writing this sort of thing for a long time and no, I can't explain why I'm not better at it than I am).  But as the years have gone by, I'm always drawn back to Dead Serious and don't listen to Straight Up Sewaside anywhere close to the same amount.  Ultimately, it's a strong record, but doesn't tug on my nostalgia the same way their debut record did.

Das EFX - Straight Up Sewaside (Youtube full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nQeba7jO-N--5pzb4XNMObFLPsSNeabKc

Monday, June 29, 2020

Don Chicharrón - Valle 7" - Brown/Green Translucent Vinyl

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Snappy Little Numbers / Don Cheech Discos (2020)

First off, I should immediately point out that all proceeds from this fine little 7" benefit Casa de Paz & Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition.  These are organizations dedicated to helping struggling immigrant and that is a cause I can definitely get behind. Especially considering how completely batshit insane things are in this country right now.

Now onto Don Chicharrón.  A side "Valle" is an upbeat instrumental propelled by punch and rhythmic drums.  On top of that is blast of surfy guitar riffing that mixes in perfectly with the salsa-esque beat that drives the song forward.  It's the kind of song that feels cinematic in nature and I can easily imagine it providing the soundtrack to key scene in a movie.  Definitely one where tension is building.

On the B side is "En La Gruta Del Rey De La Montaña."  Another instrumental, this is a cover of a piece of music hat is sometimes also called "In the Hall of the Mountain King" or "I Dovregubbens hall."  You may not know those by name, I sure didn't and had to look them up.  But I assure you that you will know the melody of this piece.  If for no other reason than it's been utilized as cartoon soundtrack music since the beginning of time.  Chicharrón's version ups the frantic nature of this song and once again blasts in some effect laden surfy guitar work.  It's a ton of fun and was a welcome surprise once I hit that side of the record.

Don Chicharrón - Valle 7":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/valle-b-w-en-la-gruta-del-rey-de-la-montan-a

Friday, June 26, 2020

Built to Spill - Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston LP - Clear w/ Yellow & Blue Splatter (/500)

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Ernest Jennings (2020)

I love Built to Spill and have for twenty five years or so.  Sure, I tend to favor their records from the 90s, but I've never heard a Built to Spill record that I haven't liked.  They are all just varying degrees of excellent and I tend to rank There's Nothing Wrong With Love and Keep It Like a Secret as the most excellent of the bunch.

However, when we get to their latest, an album of Daniel Johnston cover songs, it's difficult for me to get very excited.  To be blunt, while there's absolutely nothing bad about the album, it's kind of boring.  I'm not sure if that's because of Daniel Johnston's songs or if the execution is simply not very inspiring.  No matter the cause, you just kind of cruise through this light and airy record which has a habit of fading into background noise when you're listening to it.

I am admittedly not particularly familiar with Daniel Johnston's output, so I'm not going to compare these BTS covers to his originals.  All I can do is judge the album in front of me on its own merits and I just keep coming back to the fact that it isn't very exciting.  They just come across as paint by numbers jangle pop songs.  And while I like them, I can't fathom a time where I would look at my Built to Spill records and decide that this is the one I'm going to listen to when all of the others are significantly more interesting.

Built to Spill - Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston:
https://built-to-spill.bandcamp.com/album/built-to-spill-plays-the-songs-of-daniel-johnston

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Boogie Down Productions - Edutainment LP

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Jive (1990)

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

Edutainment was the most recent Boogie Down Productions full length album that was out when I first started listening to them.  It's never been the album that I tend to go to the most.  I like most of the others better, but I think because of that it always sounds fresh and exciting every time I put it on.

I was never the biggest fan of the album's main single, "Love's Gonna Get'cha," and I think that might be the reason I wasn't as drawn to the album as a whole when I was younger.  But today, when I put on the album and spin through classics like "Blackman in Effect," "Ya Know The Rules" or "The Racist" you get that incredible mix of killer beats with intelligent and well composed lyrics that dominates just about every BDP album.

So maybe this is the least successful of the 5 BDP albums for me, but when you are comparing it to some of the most incredible and well regarded albums in the history of hip hop, you may come up a little short here and there.  That's not to say that Edutainment isn't a classic in its own right, it's just probably not the album I would direct a new fan to first.

Boogie Down Productions - Edutainment (Youtube full album steam):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_niBt3FGQ7FGaec2AvItUXIQ5-YIuPkHA0


Monday, June 22, 2020

The Blues Brothers Movie & Soundtrack - 40 Years Old

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This past Saturday, June 20th, marked 40 years since the release of my favorite movie of all time, The Blues Brothers.  As best as I can tell, it's also the 40th anniversary of the release of its accompanying soundtrack.  I figured that it would be interesting to take a picture of the 2 versions of the soundtrack that I have along with the various singles that I've collected over the past few years.  Even I was a little surprised of just how many there were when I took this picture.  I have already shared this picture on Twitter and Instagram and the like, but I wanted to take a moment to write a little bit more about it here.

I've had the soundtrack since I was a little kid and absolutely played it to death.  Songs like "She Caught the Caty," "Sweet Home Chicago" and Gimme Some Lovin'" have always been perennial favorites of mine.  Couple that with Aretha Franklin's tremendous rendition of "Think" and Ray Charles' "Shake a Tailfeather" and you've got the makings of something pretty special.

The only things that ever bothered me about this soundtrack are the things that aren't there.  The Blues Brothers' version of "Stand By Your Man" and John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom Boom Boom" are super obvious omissions as is some of the non-Blues Brothers songs played in the background during the movie.  I think that a few contributions from Elmore James and Louis Jordan would only enhance the overall experience of the album.

But the thing that has always bugged me the most is that the version fo "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" is different than what is played in the movie.  The unnecessary addition of backing vocals to the album version has always been a pet peeve of mine.  But despite these grumbles and the wish that this could be a double LP of music, I will always cherish this album along with the movie.  They are both hugely important to me and I have a hard time imagining how my life would have turned out without them.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Midnight Vein - Till It Explodes 7"

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Swimming Faith (2020)

First off, kudos on the artwork.  The see through artwork combined with the yellow insert brushed with wildflower seeds is quite the interesting set up.  This 7" immediately jumped out at me when it came in the mail and enticed me to give it a spin right away.

As far as the music, I quite liked the a side "Till It Explodes."  It's a soft and somewhat dreamy song, but reminded me a little bit of The Beta Band in the way the song just builds up, adding layers of instrumentation as if move forward. Also the vocal melody makes me want to compare this to that And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead song "Source Tags and Code" (The song called that, not the entire album).  Maybe not my typical cup of tea, but I definitely like this.

B side "Run From The Light" doesn't grab me the same way.  It's way too long and doesn't lean on poppier melodies the same way the A side does.  This one's a bit more experimental with effects on the vocals and a repetitive beat structure.  I actually know a lot of people from my college radio days that would love this side of the record, but I'm more interested to see if the band has any more tunes like "Till It Explodes."

The Midnight Vein - Till It Explodes 7"
https://themidnightvein.bandcamp.com/album/till-it-explodes

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader 2xLP - Red Vinyl

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Big Dada (2016, Reissue)

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

I thought that this album would be an appropriate follow up to last weeks KMD record.  King Geedorah came out originally in 2003 and was after the former Zev Love X had reemerged as MF Doom.  King Geedorah was another alter ego, this time building an album focused on imagery and sounds from 1960's Toho monster movies.  I'm not above admitting that the only reason I really went out of my way to listen to this in 2003 was because of the Godzilla references.

Luckily, my allegiance to kaiju was rewarded as Take Me To Your Leader ranks up amongst my very favorite 'newer' hop hop releases.  Yes, I realize calling a seventeen year old record 'new' is a bit of a stretch, but as I've mentioned, pretty much any hip hop record that catches my interest after 1994 feels like a newer record to me.  The beats are very innovated and mix in kitschy sound effects with lush strings and beats.  In some ways it reminds me of another favorite, Beauty and the Beat by Edan in the way the beats are constructed.  But Take Me To Your Leader has the advantage of dialog from Xilien Controller.

I don't like everything the MF Doom churns out.  I've heard plenty that doesn't catch my ear for one reason or another. For me, King Geedorah ranks just under KMD if I'm ranking these related projects.  It's a totally different animal than KMD, but succeeds due to its excellent premise and flawless execution.  I'd sure like a follow up release at some point.

King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader (Youtube full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nUjTozCumC1dqxQcj64pziIlVTlEYJvVk

Monday, June 15, 2020

Facility Men - It's Fun To Disappear LP

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Big Neck (2019)

This is another album that's been sitting around far too long waiting for me to give it a spin.  As I've mentioned, the current situation of the world and the lack of spare cash I have to spend on records is having the slightly positive benefit of helping me clear out the backlog.  This album came out in mid 2019, but I don't think I've been sitting on it for a whole year.  Either that or I've completely lost rack of time.

I've actually heard Facility Men before.  Back in 2016, I wrote about their demo tape that came out on More Power tapes.  I had written then that I was a little disappointed as the music was good, but I wasn't that into the vocals.  For their debut full length on Big Neck, the vocals are massively improved.  This time out I'm reminded a bit of The Estranged in how the vocals mix with the angular, almost Unwound-esque guitar attack.

Facility Men have shown so much growth since their tape from a few years ago.  My lukewarm reaction to that cassette is one of the things that kept me putting this LP on the back burner. Well, that was pretty dumb.  There's a lot to like about It's Fun To Disappear and it makes me eager to see where the band goes next.

Facility Men - It's Fun To Disappear:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/facility-men-its-fun-to-dissapear

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

KMD - Mr. Hood 2xLP

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Traffic/Elektra (2004, Reissue)

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

The first time I had heard of KMD was when Zev Love X made a guest appearance on the 3rd Bass song Gas Face.  I can't say that the first KMD full length, Mr. Hood, was on may radar as soon as it came out, but in the intervening years, I've become a really huge fan of this album.  Zev Love X made a far bigger splash in the hip hop community when he disappeared and reemerged as MF Doom, but for me, the KMD albums records are the cream of his crop.

The thing that I like best about Mr. Hood is the storytelling aspect as the songs are strung together with dialogue between KMD and the fictional Mr. Hood, which is primarily strung together using samples from some woefully out of date children's storytelling records and some English language instructional records.  While skits on hop hop records are not always my favorite, these serve a greater narrative purpose than the randomly tossed in comedy skit.

The beats on this record are bouncy and upbeat, a perfect slice of golden era hip hop production.  Combine that in with stellar rhymes and the aforementioned narrative and you've got yourself a real classic.  It is criminally under appreciated despite the relative success and notoriety that MF Doom has achieved.  KMD had one other album called Black Bastards that was pulled by Elektra prior to release.  It floated around bootleg circles for years until finally getting a proper reissue.  That one is still on my list of vinyl to pick up once finances allow for the purchase of more records.

KMD - Mr. Hood (Youtube full album playlist):
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mrQgcU0xVDKBGCL88NEKZQHl2FA63iMrU

Monday, June 8, 2020

BOAT - Tread Lightly LP - Pink Vinyl

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Magic Marker (2020)

It was really nice to get the new BOAT album in the middle of all of the pandemic lockdown stuff.  It was a brief respite from the never ending stream of bad news and felt like a small piece of normalcy had returned.  It's been a while since the last Boat (I'm not going to capitalize BOAT every single time) record and while they never said they had broken up, I wasn't sure we'd see another one.  Especially as members were involved in other projects over the past few years.

Luckily they did put out another album, and it's a stellar one to boot.  Tread Lightly fits perfectly into their catalog showcasing their ability to write 90s sounding indie rock songs that beg you to ignore the alphabet and put their albums on your record shelf right next to Pavement.  Right in the midst of  their casual sounding guitar riffs and song structures, they also sneak in lyrical genius.  I for one really appreciate songs about getting old and the life that follows.

It's weird watching myself and other people my age get older without having done a lot of growing up and it's nice to have that sort of thing articulated by people who are a lot smarter than I am.  What it boils down to is this album speaks to me.  I'm so happy that there is a band that not only can capture the sounds of one of my favorite eras of music, but can also use those vibes to put into words some of the oddness I feel as a forty three year old who still worries about missing out on action figure preorders.  And no, that specific topic is not one covered on this album.  Maybe next time.

Boat - Tread Lightly:
https://boat.bandcamp.com/album/tread-lightly