Friday, November 15, 2019

The Wannadies - Be A Girl LP

Untitled

Music On Vinyl (2019, Reissue)

I adore The Wannadies.  As far as pure pop guitar bands, I'd be hard pressed to think of a band that does it better than they do.  I've had the CD of Be A Girl since the 90s and I also had the import first pressing of the vinyl that I picked up in maybe 2009 or so?  But, recently Music On Vinyl reissued the three Best Wannadies records on 180 gram colored vinyl.  Due to an Amazon snafu, I didn't get the colored vinyl version of Be A Girl.  But the price was nice and this pressing of the record sounds outstanding, so I decided to keep it anyway instead of looking for and paying collector prices for the colored version.  Though I make no promises I won't buy that as well someday.

Be A Girl starts off with their biggest hit, "You and Me Song."  This was a legitimate hit song, featured in some Romeo & Juliet movie I never saw and actually getting radio play in America.  Bizarrely enough, they played this song at the McDonalds in Pennsylvania that I went to a couple of weeks ago making my pilgrimage for a McRib.  As great as that song is (and it's great), it is just a small sample of the incredible songwriting throughout this album.

"Might Be Stars" is probably my favorite song on the record with its forward pushing beat, huge fuzzy guitars and chorus harmonies.  There isn't a bad song on this album.  You could throw a dart at the tracklisting and you're always going to hit a stellar song.  The craziest part is that this isn't even my favorite Wannadies record.  This is definitely a band to revisit if you've never given a whole record of theirs a close listen.  The hooks are undeniable.

The Wannadies - "Might Be Stars":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFdBX_jn9Zg

The Wannadies - "How Does It Feel":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh8GU64gDOg

The Wannadies - "You And Me Song":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_e_45Szprk

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The UMC's - Fruits Of Nature LP

Untitled

Wild Pitch (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 25+ years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

This album stands out from some of the others that I have written about over the past few weeks.  I didn't have any UMC's records back in the 90s.  I heard them for the first time in the last few years.  Like I've done with many rock and roll bands, I have spend some time going backwards and checking out records and groups that either I never heard during their heyday or that I just didn't like for one reason or another.  In the case of The UMC's, I'm not sure I ever listened to them in the 90s.  I think a lot of that was because of their name.  As I was already a fan of Ultramagnetic MCs, I didn't like that The UMC's name was so similar.  I get that this is a dumb reason, but I was a teenager at the time.

Unfortunately, I was missing out on some excellent records for twenty plus years.  On Fruits of Nature, UMC's are hitting that exact style that I loved back then.  Catchy beats that lean on jazz and soul samples, uptempo rhythms and lyrical flows that are a little left of center.  Whenever a hip hop act of the 90s was taking chances, that's when I tended to jump up and take notice.  Why it took me so many years to finally notice UMC's is something I can't quite explain or rationalize.

I will say this, Fruits of Nature will slide into your record collection very neatly next to your Souls Of Mischief, Tribe Called Quest and Pharcyde records.  If you are into that sort of laid back style, this is an album you need to add to your piles.  I've also picked up the second UMCs record, Unleashed.  It's different from Fruits of Nature, but is also excellent in its own way.  I'll write a bit about that one in the next few months.

The UMC's - "Blue Cheese":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLV_Vl9ttoc

The UMC's - "Swing It To The Area":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1-LgEQ7xxo

Monday, November 11, 2019

Adult Magic - Adult Magic LP

Untitled

Dead Broke / Specialist Subject (2019)

There are a handful of bands that are sure fire hits for me if you drop their names in a RIYL list.  The most obvious one is Leatherface.  You mention the Sunderland boys and it's a guarantee that I'll give that band a chance.  Also very high on the list are two that were used to describe Adult Magic; Superchunk and Sugar.  As soon as I saw that those two were referenced, I knew I had to add Adult Magic to the collection.

Now I certainly can see touchstones of those two bands.  Adult Magic employs a thick and crunchy guitar tone that is so very much like Bob Mould and other guitar heroes from the 90s.  And the way they are able to wrap their vocal melodies around around the guitar riffage certainly brings to mind moments of Superchunk.  Acknowledging those two bands, Adult Magic isn't a copy of either.  They are forging their own way at times bringing in other influences and sounds.  Sometimes I hear a nod to mellower bands like Silver Scooter, while at other times things get a little punchier not unlike the very best of The Weakerthans.

I'll be honest, that's a lot of comparisons for one paragraph, but ultimately what you need to know is the Adult Magic are creating some really excellent, 90s influenced guitar pop songs.  They've got the hooks where you want them and the melodies where you need them.  Their debut is definitely worth checking out, especially if you dig on the sounds of twenty five years ago as much as I do.

Adult Magic - Adult Magic:
https://adultmagic.bandcamp.com/album/adult-magic-2

Friday, November 8, 2019

Somerset Thrower - Godspeed LP - Gray w/ Splatter Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Dead Broke (2018)

So I am definitely late to the party with Somerset Thrower.  This record came out last year, but for whatever reason, I never bought it.  Honestly, I think I probably just forgot about it as 2019 started up it faded in the rear view a bit.  Luckily when perusing the Dead Broke website, I was reminded that I never got this album last year and rectified that oversight.  I'm glad that I did as Godspeed is a strong record with a huge 90s sound that would have made me crazy in 1995 or so.

Somerset Thrower has a way of mixing melodic guitar rock with earnest, scratchy vocals that is something to behold.  I hear some elements of Seaweed when I listen to Godspeed, but I think that Somerset Thrower is taking that sound and dragging it a little more towards a Sunny Day Real Estate vibe.  Though I'll be totally honest, I like this album a lot more than most of the Sunny Day Real Estate I've heard in my life (they're one of those bands that just never clicked for me, despite multiple attempts and relistening to them to try to figure out what I'm missing).

Just about every song on the record is pretty great.  The only one that's not really doing it for me is "Eject."  It's a bit slower than the others and clocking in at six and a half minutes, by about the four minute mark, I'm ready to get back to some catchier songs.  Luckily, the very next song is "Jellyfish Scene," which is probably my favorite on the album.  It has a driving rhythm section, with punchy guitar riffs layered on, forming a foundation for a vocal melody that simultaneously reminds me of Fluf, Knapsack and The Posies somehow.

If, like me, you missed out on this record last year, it is worthwhile to backtrack and check this album out.  If you like the rock and roll sounds of the 90s, there are few bands delivering those sounds as well as Somerset Thrower does.

Somerset Thrower - Godspeed:
https://somersetthrower.bandcamp.com/album/godspeed

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Brand Nubian - One For All 2xLP

Untitled

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 25+ years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I don't exactly remember when or where I heard of Brand Nubian for the first time.  Like so many other artists of the era, I can't fathom it not being from Yo MTV Raps, though it's possible that the legend of the five mic review in The Source was one of the first times I was made aware of them.  I distinctly remember being drawn to singles from each of the groups albums that were released between '90 and '94, but I'm not sure which one I heard first.  I figure it was probably the title track from the first Brand Nubian record One For All, but there is a chance that I originally picked up this CD after the group's second album In God We Trust.

All these years later, I can say with certainty that One For All is my favorite Brand Nubian release.  Although Lord Jamar and Sadat X held down the fort admirably on their next two records, the group was never as potent as they were when Grand Puba was part of the act.  His laid back, nasally flow is a perfect mix with the funk and R&B fueled beats.  However he was never better than when he was able to play off of Jamar and Sadat.  The three MCs together have a chemistry that is undeniable.

Considering that this record came out in 1990, the production feels ahead of its time.  This is one of those albums that really changed the game when it came out and it holds up unbelievably well all of these years later.  The next two Brand Nubian records were really strong and I love Grand Puba's debut solo album, but when everyone was still together on One For All, that's when the magic really happened.

Brand Nubian - "One For All":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6n7ZXxGbio

Brand Nubian - "Concerto In X Minor":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBM2C97Mdhg

Brand Nubian - "Drop The Bomb":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKVWWwZ0eyU



Monday, November 4, 2019

Guns n' Wankers - The Complete Recordings LP - Yellow Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

One Wank/Unless You Try (2019)

I finally picked up the yellow vinyl variant of the Guns n' Wankers compilation LP.  I don't go as wild variant hunting as I did ten or fifteen years ago, but there are still a few bands where I feel that I really need to make sure I have everything.  Snuff and Guns n' Wankers are bands that still fit in that category.  As of now, I am comlpete.  Until Duncan & Co. press it again anyway.

I don't really have much to add to this write u regarding the music that I didn't say when I talked about the other versions of this LP that I bought.  But to quickly summarize, this LP contains some of my very favorite songs of all time.  I highly suggest picking up a copy.

Guns n' Wankers - "Raise Your Glass":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZqqydweYtA

Guns n' Wankers - "Blah Blah Blah":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8KYC1eYbTo

Friday, November 1, 2019

A Giant Dog - Neon Bible LP - Purple Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2019)

This record was part of the Merge Records Born Under A Good Sign subscription series.  I've now received everything from the subscription, though I haven't written about everything just yet.  I'm not sure how I feel about it overall, but there have certainly been highs and lows.  Going into things I would have thought that a full album from A Giant Dog would be one of the records I'd be most excited to receive, as I've really enjoyed everything I've heard from them previously.  But, these aren't A Giant Dog songs, they've instead covered the Arcade Fire's album, Neon Bible, in its entirety.

I don't like Arcade Fire.  I don't have any of their records, but I had promoted some during my stint in the music biz in the early 2000s.  Whatever it is that they're selling, I was never buying.  Now that's not to say that their songs, when run through the A Giant Dog filter, couldn't end up being pretty good, but the end result is an album that's uneven at best.  When A Giant Dog takes on a rocker, like album opener "Black Mirror" or other louder songs such as "The Well and the Lighthouse" and "(Antiochrist Television Blues)," it's a huge success.  This is a band that knows how to push the pedal to the floor and blast out some high energy and catch rock.

That said, the majority of this record is mired in slower songs and a bit more keyboard/synth than I typically like.  I think it's probably due to the source material.  I don't like Arcade Fire, so unless the songs really sound like ones from another A Giant Dog album, it's just not for me.  There's a few standouts worth your time, but the record as a whole isn't something I see myself listening to very much.

A Giant Dog - Neon Bible:
https://agiantdog.bandcamp.com/album/neon-bible

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Redman - Whut? Thee Album LP

Untitled

Rush (1992)

For this Ed Lover Dance Day Wednesday, I have the first Redman record, Whut? The Album.  The first time I heard Redman was on the EPMD posse cut "Headbanger" from Business Never Personal.  That's always been my favorite EPMD record.  "Headbanger" was one of the highlights and Redman's verse is pretty much the highlight of the song.  After hearing that one, it was a guarantee I'd be picking up Redman's debut.

Back when I got this album in high school, I actually ended up being a little disappointed.  It didn't hit me as hard as Business Never Personal and felt kind of long.  I honestly didn't end up listening to it a whole lot aside from the undeniable first single "Time 4 Sum Aksion."  That song ruled back then and is still my favorite thing on the record.  But past that, it felt like there were too many skits and not enough songs that had the same sort of energy I was expecting.  The CD ended up lingering in the collection as Redman went on to be a pretty well known dude.  I never really listened to anything else of his during his ascent.

I rediscovered the record in the mid 2000s when I started relistening to a lot of my hip hop records.  It ended up being much better than I remembered.  I still think there are too many skits, but in no way is "Time 4 Sum Aksion" the only track worth listening.  "Rated R," "Watch Yo Nuggets" and "Tonight's Da Night" all prove that I was way too dismissive of this record when I was younger.  I still do wish I could trim some of the skits out and shorten the record as a whole just a bit, but even in it's current form it's a great listen.

I definitely wanted to have the vinyl in my collection as the highs are really high on Whut? The Album.  Unfortunately, when this copy showed up from eBay, I discovered that it wasn't in the sort of condition I expected.  The A side, in particular, is in rough shape with hiss and pops and a few skips.  Don't worry, the seller made good and I didn't get swindled out of any money.  But for now this copy will end up as a placeholder until something better comes along.

Redman - Whut? The Album (YouTube Playlist):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9FrcyJgMY4&list=PLX8B0DqjbT28XbRTyT4HTE8hEv2YdoAhU


Monday, October 28, 2019

Roka Hueka - Que No Quedo Huella 7" - Blue Vinyl (/155)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

Full disclosure, this is a ska 7".  I haven't listened to a new ska band of any kind since 1996.  I really liked Operation Ivy and Less Than Jake back then, so I tried listening to a few other bands of that era, but nothing really stuck with me.  I quickly assumed that I just didn't like ska and Op Ivy and LTJ were the exceptions not the rules.  Even those Less Than Jake records didn't age particularly gracefully.  Have you heard Losing Streak lately?  That might be the worst guitar tone ever captured on a record (Op Ivy still blasts though).

And now in 2019, we have Roka Hueka, a latin ska band from Denver, Colorado.  To say I wasn't sure what to expect going into this record is an understatement, but I quickly discovered something.  Ska was absolutely meant to be played with the singing in Spanish.  It just makes so much more sense.  The way the bouncing bass lines and horn accents mix with the lyrics on "Que No Quedo Huella" transform this genre of music that seems comically out of style into something that sounds fresh and contemporary.  I could absolutely see this being played in a packed club filled with enthusiastic folks dancing the night away.  This song is a hit.

The B side is "Back To You" and is in English.  I don't like this song quite as much as the A side, but it is slower and has a sincerity to it that keeps it from sounding cliche and dated.  To quickly quote the Snappy Little numbers website: "This record is a Community Collaboration project and is fully sponsored by Cereveceria Colorado with 100% of the money raised from the sales of this release benefiting Casa de Paz and Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, two organizations dedicated to fighting for immigrants' rights."  That is absolutely something I can get behind, whether you like ska or not.

Roka Hueka - Que No Quedo Huella 7":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/que-no-quede-huella-b-w-back-to-you-version

Friday, October 25, 2019

Rocket From The Crypt / Dead Bolt - Split 7" - Pink Cover

Rocket From The Crypt / Dead Bolt - Split 7" - Pink Cover

Standard (1992)

It's rare that I get to buy a new Rocket From The Crypt release these days.  I am committed to trying to track down every single stupid variant of every one of their records, but at this point there's really not many left.  That said, something new always manages to pop up and this 7" is an example of that.

I have had a version of this record since around 1995.  That version had a blue sleeve.  In the early 2000s I found out there was a version with a yellow sleeve as well, so that was added to the archives.  Well, it turns out there was a third version that showed up on eBay a few weeks ago.  This one has a pink sleeve.  Aside from that it's the same as the other two, but whenever I find a Rocket From The Crypt record that I previously didn't know about, it makes me wonder what else could be floating around out there.  Probably more than I really want to know at the end of the day.

Song wise, I can't say too much about Deadbolt.  Their spooky surf didn't really grab me in the 90s and I've probably only listened to their side of this record a couple of times at the most.  But the Rocket side is a favorite of mine.  "Cha Cha Cha" blasts forward with pick slides, hammered chords and that fuzzy vocal feedback that was present on so many of those early RFTC masterpieces.  I just love it and it still gets me pumped up all these years later.  Give it up for the band.

Rocket From The Crypt - "Cha Cha Cha":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF_jMxwopk0

Deadbolt - "Down In The Lab":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJs7SzQOPx0

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

D-Nice - Call Me D-Nice LP

Untitled

Jive (1990)

As we go through Wednesday Ed Lover Dance Day each week, there will be some things that start create a pattern and explain where my brain was at in the late 80s and super early 90s.  Boogie Down Productions was probably the first hip hop group that I would have considered my favorite when I started to fall into that world in grammar school.  When D-Nice's debut album came out, I remember him being featured pretty regularly on Yo MTV Raps and it being mentioned that he was part of the BDP crew. 

In addition to playing the video a decent amount, I also remember him appearing on the show live to preform.  I won't say that it is for sure the first live act I saw on the show, but it's the earliest one I can remember.  I definitely got the CD as part of one of my BMG music club scams, but have just recently added the vinyl to my collection.

I think this album holds up really well considering that it's creeping up on thirty years old.  The one-two punch of opener "Crumbs On The Table" and lead single "Call Me D-Nice" still hit pretty hard all of these years later.  While the record doesn't really maintain those sorts of highs throughout, I think it's a much better album as a whole than it's probably given credit for.  "A Few Dollars More" combines a slick bass line with forceful lyrics.  "It's All About Me" is built off of a repeating 60s sounding sample, that mixes with bouncing bass and solid scratching in the breaks.  Closing track "And You Don't Stop" loops some 70s funk sounds that provide a base for D-Nice to throw out some 90s shout outs and lay down some quick rhymes on his way out the door.

The whole record is strong.  There was a period of decades where this wasn't an album I really listened to at all, but relistening to it with fresh ears for the last year or so made me realize that not having it on vinyl was a pretty glaring hole in my collection.

D-Nice - "Call me D-Nice":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbWnRyPzce4

D-Nice - "Crumbs On the Table":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP0-e0seNII


Monday, October 21, 2019

Warp Lines - Human Fresh LP - White Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Dirt Cult (2019)

I've bought fewer new records released in 2019 than any year I can remember since the darkest days of my music consumption in 2004-2005.  The big difference between this year and those years where the passion was being forcefully driven out of my by the music industry is that although I have bought fewer records, the quality of the records I've picked up this year is pretty through the roof.  There have been several albums that I've listened to and thought, 'this could easily be the album of the year.'  Add Warp Lines to that list.  This record is hot shit.

When I found out that the band was from Canada and had a member that did time in the Steve Adamyk Band, I knew it would be worth taking a listen to.  That said, I was totally unprepared for how incredible this album is.  Warp Lines manage to take the sort of riffs and innovative chord progressions that you would hear on a Hot Snakes album, but use them with completely different guitar tones and melodies.  There's a retro vibe in the production with a bit of a dreamy haze floating over the record, but the band cuts through that with sharp hooks and creative song structure.

There are times where I hear a Jawbox sort of vibe emanating from the band's killer rhythm section.  The drumming in particular is outstanding and elevates the songs even higher.  Pounding toms and punchy fills create the backbone of the band's compositions, allowing the guitars to explore new ground, while staying rooted to the goal of ultimately providing a catchy song.  It's rare that I hear a band that can change things up and create interesting soundscapes without losing the plot.  This is an album full of pop songs at the end of the day, but they're delivered through a band that is taking chances and building off of many disparate influences.

To sum it up, this record is outstanding.  It's definitely one of the best I've heard all year.  Maybe the best to be totally honest.  There's nothing I can say to recommend it as much as it deserves.  Just go buy it immediately.

Warp Lines - Human Fresh:
https://dirtcultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/human-fresh

Friday, October 18, 2019

Chippendale - Kill The Time Until Die CD

Untitled

Fixing a Hole (2018)

I feel like I’m probably gong to be writing about the amazing Waterslide/PopKid show that happened when I was in Tokyo for the rest of my life.  It was such an incredible time and I will never forget how much fun I had and how important that night was to me.  One of the great bands that played the show was Chippendale.  I wasn’t really all that familiar with them prior to the show, but I left that night a pretty big fan of the songs they had played.

Fast forward a couple of years later and I have their full album in my possession finally.  Kill The Time Until Die is a nine song journey through some fantastically bleak, but energetic punk rock.  The bands that come to mind when I listen to the record first are Scandinavian imports such as early Manifesto Jukebox and Phoenix Foundation.  I also hear a little bit of I Excuse is some of the album's more frantic moments.  But where those bands would be a nonstop, aggressive bash in the skull, Chippendale leans towards a borderline shoegaze sound.  I still hear the tinges of anger and dissolution, but they’re presented in a more melodic way.

That’s not to say the band isn’t perfectly capable of turning their amps up to ten and unleashing a barrage of downstroke mayhem.  But I think the band is most successful when they indulge their melodic tendencies.  Kill The Time Until Die is a really dynamic listen.  I’m so glad I got to see them play live, even if it was just that one time.

Chippendale - “Unexpected”:
http://fixingahole.jpn.org/mp3s/chippendale-unexpected.mp3


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown LP

Untitled

Next Plateau (1988)

Ultramagnetic MC’s have long been a favorite of mine.  The first album I ever heard by them was Funk Your Head Up.  I bought that CD at a record store in Heathrow airport while I was on a layover going to Spain as part f a class trip my sophomore year of high school.  I think I may have seen the video for Poppa Large prior to picking up the CD, but I’m not positive.  It was mostly just taking a chance on something I heard of when I had a little extra spending money in my pocket.  To this day, that’s my favorite Ultramagnetic record.

I bought The Four Horsemen as soon as it came out.  I remember seeing a review for it in The Source and I went out looking forward almost immediately.   It’s also a great album and one I’ve listened to countless times.  The reason I bring these records up is because they are my foundation for Ultramagnetic MC’s.  I didn’t get Critical Beatdown until many, many years later.  It wasn’t something easily found when I was younger, so I don’t think I heard the CD until my late 20s and I only added the vinyl to my collection in the past few weeks.

The fact that this record came out in 1988 is kind of insane.  The fact that several of the songs on this album were released in the years prior to 1988 is even crazier.  It’s so different from other albums of the era and so far ahead of its time, I kind of can’t even fathom how it was put together.  There was nothing like this out in 1988, which is probably why it’s super respected by hip hop folks, but also not really know as much by the outside world.  Even today, after thirty more years of hip hop innovation it sticks out a bit as this off center masterpiece.  Kool Keith is one of the most unique MCs to ever pick up a microphone.  I don’t like everything he’s ever done, but the three Ultramagnetic albums are pretty untouchable.

Funk Your Head Up is still my favorite Ultramagnetic record, but relistening to Critical Beatdown, it’s hard not to be floored by the sheer audacity of this album being released in 1988.

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown (YouTube full album playlist):
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LPNdeEDXgSw&list=PLTO6u2v7-f2ahz68veXwvSVmaujJ10XcN&index=1&client=mv-google

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sicko - In The Alternate Timeline - White Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Red Scare (2019)

Sicko is an all time favorite band of mine.  They came into my life at the perfect time and those records are still in perpetual heavy rotation for me all these decades later.  Few bands in the world mastered the craft of pop punk like Sicko.  I always felt like they were probably the best of my big three pop punk favorites.  Mr. T Experience had been around longer and put out more records, but had more filler on their albums than Sicko.  Every Sicko full length is wall to wall classics.  Zoinks probably could have given Sicko a run for their money, but once Zac left the band after their first record, it was all downhill for them.  That leaves Sicko at the head of the class.  Perfect pop punk.

I saw them play at the Pipeline in Newark, NJ in 1996 and of all of the amazing shows I was lucky enough to see in the 90s, it really stands out as one of the true highlights.  It was just so much fun.  I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t go see them at Coney Island High the next night (or maybe it was the night before, I can’t remember the order), but whatever the reason, it was probably a pretty dumb one in hindsight.  Especially since I don’t remember said reason and I remember that Pipeline show like it was yesterday.

At the beginning of 2018, Sicko played in Seattle as part of the inaugural Seattle Pop Punk Festival.  My buddy Alan & I went out to see them (and the mighty Bum).  What a great trip and what a fun couple of nights of rock and roll.  Sicko hadn’t lost a thing all these years later.  This past Saturday, Sicko played in Brooklyn.  In 2019.  It’s not really something I would have expected, but once again Alan & I made our way to another Sicko show. Just like the prior times I got to see Sicko play, it was just an absolute blast.  In addition to being a great band with great songs, they’re such nice dudes.  So much fun to be around.

The reason Sicko played this show was because of this ‘new’ record.  In The Alternate Timeline is a compilation of previously released songs, but don’t call it a greatest hits record.  That said, this sucker is packed full of hits.  If you want a solid snapshot of Sicko’s material, I think this is a pretty good starting point.  You have classics like “80 Dollars,” “Bad Year,” “Kathy’s Dance,” “Believe” and so many more. 

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t a few glaring omissions.  I don’t see how you summarize Sicko without “The Dateless Losers” (It was the name of their fan club in the 90s) or “Escalator” (They even made a video for this song) but in some ways leaving out these songs is kind of a very Sicko thing to do.  Plus I sort of like the idea of someone who has never heard of Sicko buying this album, liking it, deciding to dig deeper and then hearing those songs for the first time.  It’s kind of impossible to squeeze all of Sicko’s great songs into one LP.  They had way too many awesome ones for that.

The version of the record pictured is the tour only white vinyl version limited to one hundred copies.  Only available during a handful of reunion shows.  If they are coming to your neck of the woods, you would be a fool to not stop by, pick up a record and catch one of the best pop punk bands that ever walked the earth.

Sicko - In The Alternate Timeline:
https://sicko.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-alternate-timeline

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Blues Brothers - Gimme Some Lovin' 7" (Japan)

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

I haven't added a new 7" to the Blues Brothers collection in quite some time.  At this point there are so few left that I need, they're becoming more difficult to track down.  Even this one is probably going to end up being something of a placeholder as it has been promo'd by cutting off the bottom left corner of the artwork.  But it's definitely OK to have in the collection for right now.

The artwork for this 7" is the same picture used as the cover of the entire soundtrack as well as a bunch of the singles from the album.  The addition of the Japanese text makes it more interesting to me than some of the other variants that aren't as distinct, but I still wish there was more artwork variety for these singles.

As a reminder, these are two of my favorite Blues Brothers songs with "She Caught The Katy" likely being a top five song.  I still hope to track down some of the weirdo 7" variants I haven't found yet, but so far, no Discogs alerts on those.

The Blues Brothers - "Gimme Some Lovin'":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_r37wVxrbA

 The Blues Brothers - "She Caught the Katy":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hB3eCv_FOk

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Traffic (2016, Reissue)

For Ed Lover Dance Day this week, I'm going to talk a little bit about Boogie Down Productions.  They were one of the first hip hop groups to really make an impact on me.  I couldn't say for sure when it was that I started listening to them, but I feel like it most have been something involving Yo MTV Raps and the song "My Philosophy."  When I was at the height of my BDP fandom, the album Criminal Minded was somewhat hard to come by.

I had the main BDP full lengths on CD (By Any Means, Ghetto Music, Edutainment) and I also had their live album.  On the live album there were a handful of great songs that weren't on the other full lengths, so I needed to figure out where they came from.  This is pre-internet (or if not completely before the internet existed it was definitely before I had access to anything), so you can only really get info from magazines and other people.  Not having much in the way of like minded friends at this time, I had to get the info where I could.  I knew there was a first album, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

Then, one day randomly I was at a record store with my dad and I was digging around the rap CDs and I found it.  It looked a little shady to be honest, cover art was blurry and it was decidedly kind of budget looking, but I had it in my hands.  Bootleg or not, I was buying it.  It ended up being one of my favorite albums by BDP.  The production sounds old and dated, but in the best possible way.  It's a classic record with classic hip hop sounds.  I love the piano riff on "The Bridge Is Over."  "Poetry" and "South Bronx" are perfectly old school, but forward reaching.  You could tell they were doing something special and innovative for the time.

For me though, the highlight is the title track, "Criminal Minded."  I had only heard the version on the live CD before finally hunting down this album and was shocked that it was so much longer than the live version.  It's just such a great song and the fact that it came out in 1987 is kind crazy.  BPD went on to release several additional records (all of which I will be writing about at some point as I've added the vinyl of each to the collection), but being able to listen to their starting point on nice heavy red vinyl is a treat I sure didn't think I would be able to experience in 1991.

Boogie Down Production - Criminal Minded (Full Album YouTube playlist):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de0Ll_W5RvI&list=PLWkhuBo9IpsCbJo_Cv-7d4ftbSDCpxe-L&index=1

Monday, October 7, 2019

Your Pest Band - Automatic Aspiration 12" - Brown Vinyl

Untitled

Dirt Cult / Snuffy Smiles (2018)

I have a lot of Your Pest Band records.  They just keep releasing music and as long as they do, I'll keep buying it.  This one actually slipped through the cracks on me as I am not positive I knew it was released late last year until very recently.  It's also possible that I saw it was out, made a mental note to grab it and then promptly forgot that mental note.  As I get older I find that these sort of things happen.  I should start keeping more actual notes I think.  I'll make a mental note to do that.

The songs on this 12" are all wonderful.  I like Your Pest Band the best when they lean closer to the pop punk side of the musical spectrum.  Sometimes they get a little too psychedelic for my personal taste, but always seem to have a killer hook waiting for me around the corner.  While the six songs on this EP are really diverse, they are all super catchy and fit together like puzzle pieces.  It's just a great listen start to finish.

12" EPs aren't my favorite format on the best of days, I always just think that it would be better to wait until you have a few more songs and then put out a full length.  But when you hand me six songs this good and this cohesive, it's hard to argue that it wasn't the right call.  Though you could probably convince me that adding four more songs just as good wouldn't be a bad idea either...

Your Pest Band -  Automatic Aspiration 12":
https://dirtcultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/automatic-aspiration

Friday, October 4, 2019

Snuff - There's A Lot Of It About LP - Black w/ Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Fat Wreck (2019)

Snuff has been one of my favorite bands in the history of the earth for the last several decades.  They've been going since 1986 in one form or another and having a new record from them in 2019 is pretty exciting.  After all, I have a Snuff tattoo and also ran their website for a few years in the late 90s and early 2000s.

In many ways, There's A Lot Of It About is kind of the quintessential post-Demmamussabebonk Snuff album.  Ever since Tweet Tweet My Lovely, there's been things you can count on whenever Snuff puts out a record.  There's always going to be a handful of super catchy, mid tempo pop masterpieces like "Summer's Over," "A Smile Gets A Smile" and "Gyoza." There's a few punchy pop punk blasts like "Kings of the Spanish Oi Scene" and "Bob's Song."  There's a couple of songs with slightly off kilter guitar rhythms like "Dippy Egg" and "Big Shot."  And of course there's always one or two screaming punk hardcore songs.  This time out there's "Kiss My Ring."

There is so much variety in a Snuff album and I always feel like there is a segment of their fanbase that will think each piece is their favorite.  For me, I like a pop song.  Give me something like "Dow Dow Boof Boof" or "Take Me Home" or "Reach" or "Bottom Of The River" and I'm a happy dude.  But I'm positive that there's another section of fan that wants to hear "Who," "Timebomb" and "Fuck Off" even though I'd personally be fine if Snuff dropped that particular song style.  Their ability to appease this wide range of tastes is what's made Snuff so great and so enduring.

There's A Lot Of It About is just as strong as any Snuff record that's come out in the past twenty years.  They are consistent and they are just a great band.  I hope that I keep getting a new Snuff record every few years for the rest of my life.  There's just something so perfect and comfortable about putting their records on the turntable.

Snuff - There's A Lot Of It About:
https://snuffuk.bandcamp.com/album/theres-a-lot-of-it-about

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Casual - Fear Itself 2xLP

Untitled

Jive (1994)

Wednesday is Ed Lover Dance Day and this album is the last of the records that were already in my collection that I'm going to write about.  As I start writing about the various golden age hip hop records I've picked up over the last couple of months (finally upgrading the CDs I've had since high school), I wanted to talk about the three most important hip hop albums to me.  I've already written about Del the Funky Homosapien's No Need For Alarm and Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, and now we're going to complete the trifecta with Fear Itself, this debut from Casual.

Like Del and Souls, Casual is part of the Hieroglyphics crew.  Fear Itself came out after their records did and was released at the beginning of 1994.  In some ways, it was the last truly mind blowing rap album I ever heard.  To this day, I haven't heard anything that has been released since then that is as good as this.  Though in fairness, it is my second favorite hip hop album of all time, so it's a pretty high bar to try to reach.

Everything about Fear Itself is perfect.  The album slams from start to finish and not only is there not a weak track in the bunch, there isn't really much of anything sub-phenomenal.  I guess "Interlude" might not stack up as high as everything else, but Casual doesn't even rap on that song, so I don't think that counts.  The beats on this record are some of the most consistently incredible I've ever heard.  Innovative sampling that bridges funk, soul, jazz and boom bap.  Whether it's the bounce of "Me-O-Mi-O," the upbeat piano and bass of Hireo posse cut "Who's It On" or the slow dragging bass of "This Is How We Rip Shit" and album closer "Be Thousand," Casual hits it out of the park every single time.  He even manages to put to tape my favorite ever verse from Del The Funky Homosapien on the all too brief "A Little Something,"

It's just a pretty unbelievable album from start to finish, yet I've always felt that Fear Itself didn't get the accolades it has deserved over the years.  I think a lot of folks have either never heard of or have forgotten about this classic album.  It's not super available on vinyl.  I have the old Jive release and that doesn't even have proper artwork.  There is a UK version that does, but the price and shipping costs have kept it just out of arms reach for me over the years. I wish one of those 'Respect The Classics' type of reissue labels would get their hands on this and give it the lavish reissue it so rightly deserves.  When you are talking about the best hip hop albums of the 1990s, they don't get much better than Fear Itself.

Casual - "A Little Something":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdHkZfRSYfM

Casual - "This Is How We Rip Shit":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M44ZLp1tuTw

Casual - "Who's It On":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH5m5ErAOs8

Casual - "Be Thousand":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I81CnjhcyXU


Monday, September 30, 2019

Bad Banana - Stand Next To Me 7"

Untitled

Merge (2019)

This 7" was in the most recent Merge records Born Under A Good Sign package.  It also came with an LP that I haven't had a chance to really listen to yet, but you can expect more about that in a couple of weeks.  This is a four song 7" by Bad Banana, a band I wan't familiar with until opening this package from Merge.

A little digging around the internet reveals that the four songs on this 7" were pulled from a 2010 demo tape that Bad Banana put out.  They are a two piece of Allison and Katie Crutchfield.  Those two have been involved in other bands that I've heard of such as PS Eliot and Swearin' among others.

The songs on the record are raw in a way that reminds me of the first Thermals record.  The vocals are totally blown out, but in a good way I think.  While I think these songs are reasonably catchy and have good energy, Bad Banana isn't the hook machine that The Thermals are, and because of how the vocals are recorded, that's who I keep thinking about when listing to this.

I will say this, it's a lot better than some of the other stuff that's come in from this Merge subscription.  I signed up knowing that Superchunk would have something in it, but aside from that, it's been something of a let down.  That said, I haven't listened to the new LP that came with this 7" and it is a band that I like.  And there's one more pack of records due before the end of the year, so we'll see what happens.

Bad Banana - Crushfield Cassette (I can't find the songs individually, but this has the four 7" songs along with the rest of the original tape):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKEZV2EDGf0

Friday, September 27, 2019

Lync - Remembering The Fireballs (Part 8) LP

Untitled

K (1997)

Lync is one of those bands that I want everyone in the world to hear, though it seems to me as the years pass, fewer and fewer people are aware of their greatness. Lync was Sam Jayne's first band before he started up Love As Laughter. Remembering The Fireballs (Part 8) is a singles compilations that contains all four of Lync's 7"s, a cassette only compilation track and a handful of unreleased tunes. I've had all of the Lync 7"s on this comp for decades.  They are some of the prizes in my collection and I hold them in such high regard.

I've also had the CD version of this album since it came out in '97.  The LP has been one of those records that just continuously eluded me over the years.  About five years ago I picked up a vinyl copy on the cheap, but once I got it on the turntable, I discovered that it was warped to the point where the first songs on both sides skipped like crazy when played.  Ever since them I've had my eyes peeled for a replacement copy.  Happily, I can report that I finally found one.

Lync was one of those bands that defies easy categorization. They're certainly on the indie rock side of things and are often mentioned in the same breath as bands like Modest Mouse and Built To Spill if someone is talking about them.  But to me, there was something really special about Lync.  I always felt like they pushed the envelope a little further and were content to be a little weirder.  Yes, every one of their songs has a subtle catchiness to it, but they were also noisy and dynamic when they needed to be.

While Modest Mouse and Built To Spill went on to be considered indie rock staples, Lync split up after their only full length, the phenomenal These Are Not Fall Colors.  Singer Sam Jayne moved on to Love As Laughter, a group with revolving members that has been putting out pretty great records for the past several decades.  As great as Love As Laughter is (and they are really great), there's magic in these old Lync songs and they feel like they've been part of my life forever.

Lync - Remembering The Fireballs (Part 8):
https://lync1994.bandcamp.com/album/remembering-the-fireballs-part-8

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinity 2xLP

Untitled

Traffic (2010, Reissue)

I have written about this record once before on this site, but if I am going to begin a journey writing about influential 90s hip hop records every Wednesday (Ed Lover Dance Day), I cannot do that without mentioning 93 'Til Infinity.  This album, along with Del's No Need For Alarm and Casual's Fear Itself (more on that next week), pretty much make up my holy trinity of hip hop.  Yes all three are Hieroglyphics related, but these three records hit me like nothing ever had previously.  I love them all so very much.

93 'Til Infinity was actually the first of the big three Hiero records to come out.  I remember when I first saw the video for the title track on Yo MTV Raps.  It was laid back and reminded me of the Pharcyde's "Passin' Me By" a little bit.  I don't know for sure that I was aware that they were affiliated with Del The Funky Homosapien when I first heard the song.  No Need For Alarm wasn't out for a few more months and with no internet, the only way I would have known that was if I read it in The Source, which was a distinct possibility.

Once I had bought the full Souls record and No Need For Alarm came out in November of 93, it was pretty clear to me that something special was happening.  93 'Til Infinity is a remarkably consistent record, full of incredible songs with amazing rhymes and killer beats.  I love the way the jazzy samples mix with the bouncing bass lines to provide canvases for all of the Souls' vocal interplay.  These guys riff off of each other so well and it comes off unnervingly laid back and effortless.  I'm sure a ton of work goes into making something sound this tight, but the whole record has the vibe of just being tossed together on a summer afternoon because the guys just didn't have anything else to do that day.

93 'Til Infinity is twenty six years old.  I was sixteen when I heard it for the first time.  Here I am at forty two, and whenever I play this album it still sounds so cutting edge to me.  Maybe part of that is me still being stuck in the 90s, but I think the much bigger part of it is that Souls Of Mischief created a bonafide classic album.  One that will likely outlive all of us.

Souls Of Mischief - "93 'Til Infinity":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VwfYCFYZws

Souls Of Mischief - "Limitations":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orDlWs6BphQ

Souls Of Mischief - "That's When Ya Lost":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MMc9UVXyUM



Monday, September 23, 2019

Pleather - Wasting Time With Riot 7"

Untitled

Feral Kid (2019)

This 7" showed up in the mail a couple of weeks ago courtesy of Feral kid records.  It's the debut slab of vinyl from Pleather, hailing from Mississippi.  On the 7" are two really short and economical pop songs.  While neither are anything that I find particularly exciting, I don't think they are bad either.

To me, Pleather sound like a cross between Baby Shakes and that old 90s band The Brentwoods. The guitars have a treble heavy tone to them and there's definitely a throwback vibe in their rock and roll music.  Lyrically, the songs are kind of light on typical rhyming structure.  There are couplets in "Wasting Time" that build off of each other, but the construction of the song is a little out there.  "Riot" doesn't have much rhyming either and appears to be about either a cat or a dog (or is a song with such deep meaning, I'm far too stupid to pick up on the possible hidden metaphor).

Both songs clock in at about a minute and a half, so if you happen to love the songs, they're over pretty quick.  Though the flip side to that would be if you hate them, at least you don't have to listen to them for any sort of extended duration.  I'm in the middle.  These songs are just OK and they don't stick around long enough to make any more of an impression on me than that.

Pleather - "Wasting Time":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjYoxV7K9Qg

Pleather - "Riot":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVg10ix1ri4

Friday, September 20, 2019

Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse LP - Clear Blueish-Green Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

Ever since picking up the two song Foxhall Stacks cassingle that was sold at the Jawbox merch table at their most recent tour, I've been chomping at the bit to hear the full length.  It built up some pretty high expectations for me and it could have been difficult for the band to live up to them, because I really loved the two songs on that tape.  I can happily report that the entire album is fantastic and one of the best I have heard all year.

In other excellent news, the two songs from the cassingle are also on this full album, captured on glorious vinyl and not resigned to cassette purgatory.  While I'm not positive I can declare "Turntable Exiles" and "Law Of Averages" are my favorite songs on the record, they are pretty incredible and stand out every time I listen to The Coming Collapse.  What I think may be happening is since I'm more familiar with those two from the tape, when I hear them within the context of the album, they just jump out at me more due to that familiarity.

The entire album is just great, with huge chunky guitars and big, big hooks.  Whether it's the stutter stop guitar riff of "The Old Me" or the Posies-esque pop hooks of "Take Control" or the mid tempo harmonies of "Top Of The Pops,"  Foxhall Stacks hit it out of the park pretty much every single time.  The Coming Collapse is easily one of the best records I have heard all year.  It's one that will absolutely be in the running for the very top spot when I start making my year end list.  This is one worth going out of your way to check out.

Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/the-coming-collapse

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Del The Funky Homosapien - No Need For Alarm 2xLP

Untitled

Elektra (1993)

As I start up with Ed Lover Dance Day Wednesdays, I'm going to write about four albums that are not new additions to my collection, but rather cornerstones in my love of early 90s hip hop.  This is the second of the four.

When writing about the first Del album I Wish My Brother George Was Here I mentioned that it was a really important record to me.  While it certainly stands on its own as being great, the real influence is the fact that I liked it enough to buy Del's second album as soon as it came out.  No Need For Alarm was a total turning point for me.  Nothing had ever resonated quite as much before and to this day it remains my favorite hip hop album of all time.

I had some experience with rap that was a little left of center prior to No Need For Alarm.  I was super into Tribe Called Quest and I adored the second Ultramagnetic MCs album Funk Your Head Up, so it's not like everything was strait-laced for me prior to No Need For Alarm.  The early 90s were a time where innovated hip hop was celebrated and accessible.  That window would start to close from the time The Chronic came out until about '94 or '95.  That said, I had never heard anything like the sounds coming out of my speakers when I played this album for the first time.

No Need For Alarm is probably one of the most innovative and uncompromising albums released during the so called Golden Era.  You are not going to find pop hooks or easy listening here.  The samples are jazzy, but can be jarring.  You go from the cello riff on "Catch A Bad One" to the choppy bass of "Wack MCs" to the bouncy low end of "No Need For Alarm" and through the course of these three consecutive songs you have three completely different production dynamics.  But what ties everything together is Del unleashing some of the punishing battle raps committed to tape.  He's got no time for mediocrity in rap and he's not shy to show the world why virtually no one can hold a candle to him.

No Need For Alarm completely changed the way I thought about hip hop and music in general.  It led me to other Hieroglyphics albums (more on those in the next two weeks) and eventually led me to punk rock.  As mainstream hip hop became more homogenized, I still wanted to hear music that made me feel like No Need For Alarm did.  Eventually, I had to go to other genres to find music that impacted me the same way Del The Funky Homosapien did.  This really is one of the ten most important records I've heard in my entire life. It was a game changer for me in 1993 and in 2019 it still sounds as fresh and exciting as ever.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Catch A Bad One":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spcKBTfjW1M

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Wrongplace":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A46nqP1gd-Y

Del The Funky Homosapien - "No Worries" (This is a live version that's pretty great):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9_eC3Vjb8Y


Monday, September 16, 2019

Sad Days Indeed - Foral CD

Untitled

SP (2018)

Sad Days Indeed were a band from Finland that were together in mid 2000s.  They put out one full length record in 2006 (that I don't have, but really need to hunt down) and split up a couple of years later.  Before they split they started working on a second full length in 2008.  It never saw the light of day until this CD release on SP records.  I wasn't familiar with the band, to be honest, but this CD was recommended to me, so I picked up a copy.  I sure am glad I did as it's a hell of a record, even though I'm not positive if the name of it is Foral or For Al.

When the first track, "...And Justice For Al," starts up, I thought I had this band pegged.  It sounds like other Scandinavian punk rock that I like.  Manifesto Jukebox or Phoenix Foundation.  Loud chords, gruff-ish vocals and a forward moving energy.  It's a sound I like, so I would have been complete fine with a whole album in this vein.  But from track two onward, the band takes a sharp left turn with their sound and the influence I hear most is what I expect to here from the UK in the Mid 90s.

In particular, there's a really strong Hooton 3 Car vibe coming through on songs like "She's My Pez" and "P.S."  Other times on songs like "Regardless" or "Relief" I can hear a touch of Mega City Four or Senseless Things.  No matter where the comparisons go, I always seem to be comparing Sad Days Indeed to another band that I really like a lot.  Foral is a really great album and now I must find a copy of the first Sad Days Indeed record as soon as possible.

Sad Days Indeed - Foral:
https://sprecords.bandcamp.com/album/foral

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dan Sartain - Walk Among The Cobras (Redux) 7"

Untitled

One Little Indian (2015)

Dan Sartain is one of my absolute favorites.  I've really loved just about everything he's released over the years, but I tend to dig the first four or five of his albums the most.  Whether it's a rockabilly sound or a Ramones-y punk offering, I can usually get behind whatever he's doing.  Until he put out that electronic album Century Plaza.  I didn't buy that one because I didn't like it.  Felt weird to miss out on a record, but it didn't make sense for me to buy something I would literally never listen to.

I also ended up with a hole in my Dan Sartain 7" collection as the redone, electronic version of "Walk Among The Cobras" was put out as a 7" with the original on the B side.  Again, it didn't make sense to import a 7" and pay the shipping costs for a record I didn't plan on playing much.  I didn't really think about it a whole lot over the past couple of years until I was digging around on Discogs one day and found someone in the US selling the 7" for one dollar.  For a buck and US shipping, I can justify picking this up to keep the 7" collection complete.

I still don't like the new version of "Walk Among The Cobras."  It's slow, it's dark and there's no emotion in the vocal delivery.  I realize that's the point, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.  Just because this sort of thing works as a soundtrack to Stranger Things doesn't mean it works as a Dan Sartain song.  It's especially jarring when you flip the record over and play the original, bursting with energy and hooks.  This is just a weird record.  I hope Dan got this electro-thing out of his system as I'd really like to see a return to the style of music he pretty much perfected on records like Join Dan Sartain.

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras (Redux)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KIyCC_3fss

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras (Original)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByLeoDScJxw

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Del The Funky Homosapien - I Wish My Brother George Was Here 2xLP

Untitled

Elektra (1991)

Something I am going to be doing for the foreseeable future is write about old school hip hop records every Wednesday.  Partly because I've spent the last few months stocking up on key records that I only had on CD and partly because I'm just in the mood to have something different to write about.  Wednesdays are the most appropriate day to do this as Wednesday was Ed Lover Dance Day back on Yo MTV Raps in the 90s.  I spent a lot of time watching that show in the early 90s.  It was responsible for exposing me to so many great records.  Today's record is one of those.

So, full disclosure, I didn't just get this record on vinyl recently.  I've had it for many years, but when starting up something new, I thought it was an appropriate album to begin with.  That will be the case over the next three weeks as well.  I'm going to writer about the three most important hip hop records to me before I start getting into recent acquisitions.  But before I get into the big three, I have to write about I Wish My Brother George Was Here as it really starts there.

I was in 8th grade when I saw the video for "Mistadobalina" on Yo MTV Raps.  I had been listening to hip hop for a couple of years at that point, scamming CDs from BMG Music Club and Columbia House in my quest to hear new things.  I was a huge Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions fan, but something about Del struck a different chord with me.  He was a little weird.  He wasn't all that serious and "Mistadobalina" was an incredibly catchy song.  I picked up the album and really liked the whole thing.  "Dr. Bombay," "The Wacky World Of Rapid Transit" and "Sunny Meadows" were some of the highlights and made many a mix tape played in my walkman in the back seat of the car to avoid talking to the rest of my family.

Now while I really do like this record, the reason it's so important to me is because it made me anxious for Del's second album, No Need For Alarm.  That is one of those records that changed the way I thought about music and is my all time favorite hip hop album.  We'll get to it in more detail next week, but who knows if I would have found it had it not been for I Wish My Brother George Was Here.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Mistadobalina":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFieSQHmQT0

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Dr. Bombay":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AUP4KLCW6s

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Sunny Meadowz":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoXaT00rKa4


Monday, September 9, 2019

Husking Bee - Grip LP

Untitled

Pizza of Death (1996)

Husking Bee is a band that I discovered when I used to run the old website for Snuff.  Through that site I made friends with a guy from Japan named Tetsu.  He was the first person I knew in Japan that would help me buy records.  He also made mix tapes for me of Japanese punk rock and he put Husking Bee on one of those early tapes.  I absolutely loved them and had Tetsu help hunt me down everything by them he could find.  I never got any of the albums on vinyl back then, but he did hook me up with the CDs of their first two albums.  It was pretty weird to see the second Husking Bee album, Put On Fresh Paint released in America a bit later.

But back to this album.  Grip is the first Husking Bee full length and it came out on Pizza of Death.  This one was never released in America and while I've had the CD for about twenty years now, the vinyl has eluded me.  I finally caved in when a copy on Discogs dropped to a price I was comfortable paying and I'm just really happy to have this record in the collection.  Those first two Husking Bee records are pretty much perfect.

Grip is a straight forward pop punk record, with dynamic hooks, tons of energy and melodies that have been stuck in my head for decades.  I've feel like on this album in particular, there are a lot of similarities to the old midwestern band Walker, particularly in the guitar riffage.  Husking Bee vocals are gruffer and more melodic, but I feel like they are kindred spirits.  Songs like "8.6," "Share The Joy Of Our Tour" and "Anchor"kick my ass after all of these years, but I'll always keep coming back to the song "Question."  It's different from everything else on the album as it's built on a bouncy piano riff, but it's just so great and one of my favorite songs the band ever did. Unfortunately it's not one I can find on YouTube.  Trust me, it's great.

Husking Bee - "8.6":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTBjnqLv64

Husking Bee - "Anchor":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfbN7mw0qr4


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Don't Call It A Comeback

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Well, I guess you can kind of call it a comeback actually.  Starting up Monday, I'll be putting reviews up on the site again.  I'm going to make a few little changes though.

I have to admit, after doing this site for nearly eight years (on top of the really shitty reviews I wrote on Flickr prior to that) I've started feeling burnt out.  Writing my reviews has felt like work at times and while I love listening to records and telling people about the records that I love, I hated feeling like it was something I was required to do constantly.  There were days where I'd really struggle for something to say or didn't have a record handy that I felt I had listened to enough to really give a solid opinion on.

Again, I was burnt and that's a big reason why I took a few weeks off. And of course to give people time to read about and buy the fantastic Shoplifters full length we put out on PopKid records

(If you haven't already picked up a copy, it would be wonderful if you could: https://popkid.limitedrun.com/products/647470-shoplifters-secret-free-world-vinyl-lp)

Starting this week, I'll be doing my new schedule.  Rather than new reviews Monday through Thursday, I'm going to do three reviews a week and I'll post them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  While it may not seem like much, writing one less review a week for me makes a big difference and it's one less day a week that I'll have to scramble around in the morning to make sure everything is posted while I'm getting ready for work.

Some of the things I've done over the past few years that I've had the most fun doing have been things like the Weird Al Box Set review series where one day a week I tackle a theme for a few weeks.  I'm going to do more stuff like that when I can and on Wednesday, I'll be starting up the first one I have planned.  It'll probably last a while, so I won't have to think up a second project for quite some time.

Anyway, thanks to those that come around this site and say nice things on Twitter.  It's appreciated, but what I like most is being able to share great bands with people that care.  If you discover a band because I've written about them, let me know.  That's the greatest thing for me to hear.  Well, that and the email notification sound I get when someone buys a Shoplifters LP.

Oh yeah, and one last reminder - Make sure you check out the PopKid webstore and dig through the records I'm pruning from the collection.  Most I've reviewed in the past on this site and a lot are pretty great, there just isn't enough time in the day to listen to them all and I want them to have better homes:

https://popkid.limitedrun.com/categories/great-record-pruning-of-2019

See you Monday.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Record Review Vacation


I'm going to take a couple of weeks off from writing new reviews for the site.  Need to recharge the batteries and also, I need some more records.

You can help me get the money to purchase those new records by picking up a Shoplifters LP on PopKid records:


And as I've mentioned before, I'm selling some of my personal collection, most of which have been reviewed on this website.  If you pick a few of those up, that will only help matters.


Let me emphasize, I'm not actually going anywhere the next few weeks.  I'll be home and can happily and quickly pack up and ship any records you want to order.

I anticipate starting up reviews again the week after labor day, most likely Monday 9/09.

Happy summer!
Tim

Friday, August 16, 2019

Shoplifters - Secret Free World LP - Clear Ochre Vinyl

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PopKid / Brassneck / Waterslide / Bartolini / White Russian (2017)

Here we are. 2019 and another release for PopKid Records.  2019 is the 25th year that PopKid has been a thing and even though we haven't put out records every year, it's been a really important part of the past twenty five years for us.  Being able to put out this Shoplifters LP certainly feels like the sort of celebratory event that one would want to commemorate their silver anniversary.

Following up on their incredible Forgiver 7", Shoplifters have returned. The boys from Novi Sad, Serbia have turned in eleven songs of the sort of hook filled rock and roll that keeps me up at night singing the songs back in my head.  I think that Shoplifters have managed to string together the sort of melodic vocals that China Drum perfected and have mixed the with energy and pop mastery of Snuff and the bouncing bass lines of Big Drill Car.

It's nearly impossible for me to pick my favorites on this album as I love the entire thing so dearly.  For those looking for a straight forward blast of catchy hooks, I'll direct you to "Eraser," Secret Free World" or "Fortifier."  If you are looking for something a little bouncier and poppier "Overdoser" and "Fortifier" will likely scratch that itch.  If it's something a little more melodic, with perhaps a darker edge to it then look no further than "Between Us" or "Saved By The Bell."  And of course if you are looking for a perfect, anthemic singalong album closer, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one than "Do Better."

I do realize I am biased as I am helping to put this record out into the world, but let me assure you that my love of this record is so genuine.  Even if I had nothing to do with it, this would be my favorite record of the year.  It's hits that perfect sweet spot for me bringing together sounds from the 90s that I know and love and mixing them in with twenty additional years of influences.  I cannot say enough great things about this record.  Shoplifters have hit it out of the park and I can only hope others will like it as much as I do.

Now for the conflict of interest stuff.  This record is available to purchase on vinyl right now.  It would mean the world to me if you would check out the record and pick up a copy if you like it.

Purchase the record from our webstore here: 

Stream all 11 songs and buy the digital version on our Bandcamp page here: 
https://popkid.bandcamp.com/album/secret-free-world

PopKid is the lucky label releasing this record in North America.  If you are from another land, there may be a label close by that is co-releasing this great LP with us:

Available in North America from PopKid Records 
Available in the UK from Brassneck Records 
Available in Japan from Waterslide Records
Available in the Netherlands from White Russian Records 
Available in Spain from Bartolini Records 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Great Record Pruning of 2019 - My Records are For Sale!

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As anyone who collects things knows, a collection is a living breathing organism that at times needs something other than just adding more to it.  This is one of those times for me.  Every few years I go through and prune out some of the records that I just do't listen to as often.  All of the records in my collection are there for a reason.  There are a ton of good records that I'm going to part with.  There's just only so many hours in the day to listen to things and I can't let records take over the entire house.

So, what this means for you is that you have a chance to pick up records direct from me.  They've been cared for by a person that's pretty obsessive of taking care of his collection.  There are a lot of first pressings and limited edition colored vinyl.  Most of the prices are way less than what I paid for them with the bulk listed between $5 - $12.

Shipping is $5 flat no matter how many records you buy.  Even if one person decides to buy every record here, they get 'em for $5 shipped.

I'm also hopeful that you'll pick up the new Shoplifters record that is being officially released on PopKid tomorrow.  I have them in hand and they are shipping now.  Maybe selling some of my personal collection will make a few people more likely to grab Shoplifters when they can combine the shipping with some other releases.

You can view everything I am pruning here:
https://popkid.limitedrun.com/categories/great-record-pruning-of-2019

And don't forget to pre-order the Shoplifters LP here.  It's officially coming out tomorrow and I'm shipping them now:
https://popkid.limitedrun.com/products/647470-shoplifters-secret-free-world-vinyl-lp

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Guns n' Wankers - The Complete Recordings LP - Orange (/100), White (/100), Blue (/100) and Black (/300) Vinyl

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One Wank/Unless You Try (2019)

In a conflict of interest plug.  I have copies of the white vinyl and blue vinyl version to sell on the PopKid site.  I wasn't able to find anywhere in the US carrying these records, so I worked out something with Unless You Try to distro a handful of them myself.  I do not have many.  As of this posting I have 5 left in total. There's also some other interesting stuff added to the distro, but I'll talk about that more in depth tomorrow.

Guns n' Wankers - The Complete Recordings LP for sale in the PopKid web store:
https://popkid.limitedrun.com/products/649494-guns-n-wankers-the-complete-recordings-lp-white-or-blue-vinyl

In 1994 Guns n' Wankers released their only recordings over the course of four 7"s.  Pop, Hardcore and Metal were joint released by Rugger Bugger, Damaged Goods and Gap.  The fourth 7", Silly, was released as part of the September '94 issue of the zine Feat and Loathing.  Later, most of the songs from Pop, Hardcore and Metal were compiled onto CDs that came out on Rugger Bugger/Damaged Goods/Gap and a Japanese version on Snuffy Smile.  In America the songs from Pop and Hardcore were released on Fat Wreck Chords as For Dancing and Listening.  That's a lot of milage for thirteen songs.

I picked up the CD on Fat first, way back when.  I had just gotten into the band Snuff and was told GNW was an offshoot.  I loved those songs so much and that's when the record collector bug set in.  Over the next year or so I hunted far and wide for all of the other weirdo versions.  The Silly 7" and the Japanese version of the CD were the trickiest to find, but those have both been in my collection for over twenty years.  Funny enough, the only one I don't have anymore is that CD on Fat as I gave it to my brother.

All these years later, Guns n' Wankers started playing shows again.  With that came this reissue of every song they recorded from those '94 era releases.  And in typical Wankers fashion, they gave me some variants to track down.  There are 100 copies on orange vinyl that were only sold by the band at their shows.  There is a blue vinyl version and a white vinyl version both limited to 100 copies and both sold via the label Unless You Try.  300 were put out on black vinyl for general release to stores and distros.  And there are 200 more on yellow vinyl as part of a second pressing.  I don't have one of those just yet, but it's on my to do list.

As far as the actual songs go, the ones from the Pop and Hardcore 7"s are some of my favorite songs of all time.  "Raise Your Glass" is often in the discussion as my actual favorite song ever.  There's something truly special about the way the incredible drumming makes that song pop. These songs have a hint of Snuff to them, but I've always felt they stood on their own as Jools' backing vocals create dynamic that's very much only part of GNW.

The Metal songs are fun, but not ones that I go back and listen to repeatedly.  I love it as part of the three 7" gimmick, but just mixed in with the rest of the songs they tend to stand out.  The two songs from the Silly 7" were certainly the hardest to track down prior to this compilation LP coming out.  Now everyone can hear the jingle for "Gillette" and "For Whom the Bing Bongs," a song made up of catchy guitar riffage and a doorbell.

Guns n' Wankers - "Raise Your Glass":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZqqydweYtA

Guns n' Wankers - "Blah Blah Blah":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8KYC1eYbTo






Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Figgs - Banda Macho LP

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Capitol (1996)

Lo-Fi at Society High and Banda Macho by the Figgs are two albums that used to be permanent fixtures of the used CD bins in the NY and NJ area back in the 90s.  I could never figure out why as I knew quite a few people who were into them and I personally thought both records were pretty outstanding.  I imagine it's because both were on major labels and due to the excesses of the industry there were probably more promo copies than people on the planet.

I've had the CD version of this forever, but had never picked up the vinyl.  I had my eye on it for a while, keeping tabs on Discogs and eBay, but the price always ended up being way more that I had to spare at any given moment.  Then one day The Figgs threw a bunch up on their webstore.  Sealed stock from the 90s that they came across.  I went over to their store and they were all sold out.  The store had one of those 'notify me when this is back in stock' buttons and while I figured it was unlikely they would be back, I hit the button and provided my email address.

Wouldn't you know it, several weeks later I got an email saying Banda Macho was back in stock.  I immediately stopped what I was doing, went to their website and secured a copy.  This record still sounds as fun and exciting to me as it was the day I first heard it.  The way the band mixes pop punk hooks with good old fashion roan and roll sensibilities sets them apart from so many other bands.  For whatever reason, Low-Fi and Banda Macho are the only Figgs records I've ever listened to.  I know they have a ton of other records out there.  One of these days I need to dig in a little deeper.  Any recommendations on where to start?

The Figgs - "Bad Luck Sammie":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOnCEKP1q3s

The Figgs - "FTMU":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awMkBXWV_Xg

Monday, August 12, 2019

Gang Starr - Daily Operation LP

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Chrysalis/Cool Tempo (1992)

It's no secret that in addition to poppy punk rock, I also love golden era 90s hip hop.  I have several key pieces on vinyl, but the vast majority of my hip hop collection is on CDs that I bought when I was in high school.  I'm trying to track down some more on vinyl, but a lot of it is out of print at collector prices.  That's certainly not something I can swing right now, but as luck would have it, I managed to pick up a couple of Gang Starr records at a totally reasonable price.

Daily Operation was the first Gang Starr record I bought when I was younger.  I'm pretty sure that I saw the video for "Take It Personal" on Yo MTV Raps and that let to me grabbing the CD.  It remains one of my all time favorite rap albums.  While it may not hit the highs of Hard To Earn, as a whole record, I think Daily Operation is stronger overall.  At least there aren't any three minute long songs that's nothing but answering machine messages.

There's something magical about the way the Guru's smooth vocal delivery played over the beats that DJ Premier served up.  There's always been a mix of hip hop, jazz and funk samples, but I don't think anyone filtered like Gang Starr to create such a unique sound that could never be replicated by anyone else.  Pretty much every song on here is perfect and I'l glad to finally have the vinyl in my collection.

Gang Starr - "Take It Personal":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69PcbIxF-04

Gang Starr - " Ex Girl To Next Girl"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwSXfocnt48

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Treepeople - Bonus Tracks LP - Clear Vinyl

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Self Released (2018)

Though it has taken me a while to write about this LP, I actually purchased it at the same time as the vinyl reissue of the first Treepeople tape on vinyl, No Mouth Pipetting.  I bought them from a record store in Idaho, though I see now that K records is also stocking it in their distro for a nice price.  My copy of this Bonus Tracks LP was missing the little postcard sized track listing, but the band were nice enough to mail me one when I reached out to them.  Class act.

This LP has ten songs in total, mostly mimicking the listing of the bonus tracks that were available on the original Toxic Shock CD version of Guilt Regret Embarrassment.  "Lazerbeam/Flamegrape" was on that CD and I think that it was only ever out on that CD.  The rest of the nine songs originally were released on various 7" singles the band released in the early 90s.

"Important Things," "Handcuffs" and "In My Head" are from the Treepeople's 1989 single on Silence records.  "Making The D" and "Pretty Girl" (aka "PG") are from the 1990 7" released on Battery.  "Cartoon Brew" is originally from a 7" compilation called Silence Sampler, though it eventually made its way on to the full length Just Kidding.  "Mistake" and "Ballard Bitter" are from a '91 Sonic Bubblegum 7".  "Neils Down" is from a split 7" on Toxic Shock with a band called House Of Larger Sizes.

It's nice to have all of these songs on an easy to play LP.  I love 7"s and collecting them has been a real passion of mine for twenty-five years plus, but there's something to be said about being able to just put this down on the turntable and enjoy, rather than getting up to flip 7"s every few minutes.

Treepeople - "Handcuffs":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvEN6CGIjCw

Treepeople "Mistake":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIcAWZnv2CI