Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Sensations - Dig Your Own Grave CD

Untitled

I Hate Smoke (2018)

This five song CD was recently released on I Hate Smoke records, a label I've become more familiar with over the past year or so and one that I'm starting to trust just seeing their logo on a release.  The Sensations are another band that's new to me, but I'm pretty impressed by this first encounter.

Dig Your Own Grave is very much a fun, Japanese pop punk record.  It's got a slicker style of production and at times the gang vocal harmonies (and the slight amount of ska that creeps into the songs "Time Flies" and "Keep Your Rough") remind me a little bit of the Beat Crusaders (and you know how much I love the Beat Crusaders since PopKid put out one of their records).  Another thing about this EP that really stands out is the dynamic drumming, running the gamut from fast paced to lower rumbles with super smooth fills and transitions every time.

While I wouldn't necessarily rank The Sensations as one of the greatest things I've heard in my entire life, all five of these songs are fun, catchy and the EP just breezes on by.  It also goes out on a high note as it closes with it's strongest song, "Feel Like Yesterday."  It has much in common with the various Snuff "Nick" songs from over the years.  Mid tempo, a bit soulful and catchy as can be.  It's a keeper.

The Sensations - Dig Your Own Grave:
https://ihatesmokerecords.bandcamp.com/album/dig-your-own-grave

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dirty Few - Volcom Sessions 7" - Purple Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

My only previous exposure to Dirty Few was via a split 7" they did on Snappy Little Numbers a few years ago.  I dug those songs quite a bit, and felt like they sounded somewhat like Randy, specifically of the Welfare Problems era.  These new songs don't sound like that at all.  Luckily they're still good, but it's a pretty big shift from what I was expecting.

Where their songs from the split were tightly wound, energetic explosions, the four songs on this new Volcom Sessions ease off the throttle quite a bit.  The band is taking their time, letting their songs breathe and just sort of relishing in a slower, boozy vibe.  While they show they can still punch with the best on the more energetic "Die High," the other three seem like the band has taken more inspiration from The Replacements, though with a much higher propensity to mention partying in the lyrics of their songs.

This is a solid 7".  It's not a super great, can't miss sort of release like a lot of the things that Snappy Little Numbers releases, but it's a totally enjoyable four song affair.  It's also possible that I just don't party often enough to really appreciate the genius of these songs.  But I'm old and tired.

Dirty Few - Volcom Sessions:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/volcom-sessions-ep

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Twin Guns - Imaginary World LP - White Vinyl

Untitled

Big Neck (2018)

From the first moments of the album opening title track, it's pretty obvious that Imaginary World has a vibe to it.  What that vibe is, can be a little tougher to lock down as the band does tend to wear a lot of different hats throughout the course of this record.  The song "Imaginary World" has a slow, deliberate pace with a punk meets dark western feel to it.  It sounds like the sort of thing they would play on that TV show Westworld.  Though I've only seen the first episode of that show, so use discretion on how accurate that claim may be.

As the album progresses, the tempos change and the melodies evolve, but there always is a certain darkness to it and a feeling like the song was pulled out of some foreign cowboy movie that was really depressing.  That might read like I'm taking a shot at or saying something bad about this record, but I'm not.  I actually like it quite a bit oddly enough.  It's just different enough from everything else out there that it really stands out and the songs are really impactful.

It probably also helps that there are moments where I can connect Twin Guns to other albums in my record collection.  If I listen hard enough I can hear elements that remind me of The Estranged or even the Red Dons, it's that same sort of fight against the bleakness that I can get behind.  I'm not sure this is the sort of album I could see myself listening to all the time or anything, but on a rainy Sunday morning or on a particularly down commute home from work, this is the sort of record that helps cope with those sorts of moods.  This isn't something I would have likely picked up had Big Neck sent me a copy to review.  I'm not sure it would have been on my radar, but it's worth checking out.

Twin Guns - Imaginary World:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/twin-guns-imaginary-world

Monday, August 13, 2018

Trash Knife / Dumb Vision - Split 7"

Untitled

Kitschy Spirit (2018)

I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting when I first got this record in the mail from Kitschy Spirit.  It didn't really look like the sort of thing I would be into.  I kind of pegged for a noisy slab of hardcore that I would end up gritting my teeth through.  While I would not go so far as to say I really like this all that much, I definitely misjudged the book due to it's cover.

Things start off with Trash Knife, a band that I actually think I might like a bit if they could sort out the recording and levels of everything.  The music itself, is fast and powerful, reminding me of a treble heavy Royal Headache, but played at double speed.  The vocals are what keep me from really enjoying it.  They're buried so deep into the mix that you can barely hear them, and the parts that you can hear sound kind of strained.  There's potential, but this particular batch of songs does them no real favors.

On the flip we have Dumb Vision. They're playing a kind of sloppy, garage tinged batch of Ramones-y songs.  They're fast and moderately catchy, but again, the vocals are totally obscured by the guitar fuzz.  They're mixed a little bit better that Trash Knife, so I can hear what's going on more, but it hurts what otherwise sounds like three pretty decent songs.

I'd be curious to hear more by both of these bands, but what they've churned out on this specific 7" isn't really for me.

Trash Knife / Dumb Vision - Split 7"
https://kitschyspirit.bandcamp.com/album/trash-knife-dumb-vision-split-ep

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Collection 2 Medley 7" (Spain)

Untitled

WEA (1992)

This 7" is just like the one I posted about a couple of weeks ago, except with different songs and worse artwork.  Like the first Collection Medley 7", this one has the same song on both sides.  That song is a medley of a minute or so of 3 Blues Brothers songs mashed together.  This time we have "Who's Making Love," "Soul Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'."  All three are obviously great songs, but I still just don't see the purpose of this 7" or what circumstances it would have ever been useful under.

This 7" also marks an odd ending to my trend of highlighting a Blues Brothers 7" every other Thursday.  I've finally run out and don't have any more.  There are a few more picture sleeve 7"s out there that I haven't tracked down yet, so I'm hopeful I'll have more someday, but as a regular recurring thing, this looks like the end.

I have to say that I never realized just how many different Blues Brothers 7"s were out there.  This has been a fun little mission and I just wish I could have tracked down those last few before I ran out of the ones I do have.  I do have a few with no artwork, but those aren't very interesting as I've already written about the ones that have artwork versions.  The last few I have are meant for my jukebox, if I can ever get around to having that fixed.

Below are the last few I am hunting for.  If you ever see them, please let me know:


Soul Man 7" (Netherlands)


Everybody Needs Somebody 7" (France)


Gimme Some Lovin' 7" (Japan)


Old Landmark/Think/Shake Your Tailfeather 7" (US Promo)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Fastkiss - S/T CD

Untitled

Self Released (2015)

Once again I'm indebted to Kazu from Waterslide for showing me yet another great band that I probably wouldn't have come across on my own.  I've felt this way for twenty plus years, but it's become more and more obvious every day that as far as music (and professional wrestling) goes, my heart is in Japan.  I just wish I could be there more going to see great bands like this play and shop for more records.  Also, the G1 Climax is going on right now so pretty much the best pro wrestling of the year is currently happening.  But alas, I'm far too poor for another trip to Japan at the moment, so I'll have to let albums like this help me get by.

Fastkiss has turned in nine songs of upbeat, 90s style pop punk and I love it.  It's not gruff and fast like a lot of the other Japanese bands that I tend to enjoy.  Instead, they have more in common with bands like The Hum Hums who seem to be inspired by the more pop focused side of the Beach Boys.

There's just great melodies on this album from start to finish, with each song fueled by punchy guitar chords and complimented by excellent backing vocals and harmonies.  Some of the songs are sung in English and others are in Japanese, but no matter what language the song is in, Fastkiss put their all into each and come out with endlessly catchy tracks.  This one might be kind of below the radar, but it's definitely worth checking out.

Fastkiss - "きみはFREE":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRLZL25Hn4A&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Superchunk / Wye Oak - Split 7" (/300)

Untitled

Merge (2018)

One morning I received an email stating that there was a new, limited Superchuck split 7" that was being released in conjunction with the record store Rough Trade.  Not to want to risk having an incomplete Superchunk 7" collection, I immediately stopped what I was doing and went right to the Merge website to grab a copy.  While I'm certainly glad I got one, maybe I didn't need to be quite so fast acting as it looks like a month later, they do still have this for sale despite it being limited to only three hundred copies.

I can't say that I'm particularly familiar with Wye Oak's other work, but I also can't really say that their contribution to this 7" is really up my alley.  They've put forth an amalgamation of gently plucked acoustic guitar, minimal electronic sounding drumming and vocals that, to my untrained ear, reming me of Bjork.  I did go and listen to the non-acoustic album version of this song, just so I had something to compare the 7" track to, and I will say that of the two, I do like the version on this split better.

Superchunk's contribution to the split is an acoustic version of the song "Break The Glass" from their last album.  It's actually one of my favorite songs from that album, and the translation to an acoustic track is very successful.  It really highlights Mac's excellent vocal melody.  That being said, no matter how good it is, it's still is something of a novelty and I'm not sure how often I'm really going to pull this out to listen to.  Still, it needs to be in the Superchunk collection, so I'm happy to file it away with the others.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Because - Get Out Through The Back Door LP

Untitled

Debauch Mood (2018)

This LP is a perfect example of something that I would like to see become a trend in Japan.  Back in 2008, The Because self released this album on CD.  Now, ten years later, Debauch Mood have stepped up and rereleased it on vinyl.  I think that Debauch Mood should do this many more times in the future.  If they need a list of records that should be released on vinyl, I'd be happy to give them one.  Let's start with those old Blew and Lovemen CDs.

Anyway, back to The Because.  I never had their self released CD that this LP is a rerelease of, but I do have all five of the bands 7" appearances, the bulk of which were released on Snuffy Smiles.  While in the past I never thought their songs stood out quite as much as some of the other bands that they were sharing those releases with, hearing the band in the context of a full album only containing their songs has really opened my eyes to just how good they are.

There are times where The Because remind me a little bit of Smalltown, particularly the gruffness of the vocals (except for when the bass player is singing) and the similar way that their songs are structured.  But where Smalltown sometimes leaned towards a Clash-y style here and there, the because leans more towards the sort of 90s melodic punk rock that Snuffy Smile made me love.  The Because put out a hell of a record ten years ago.  I'm just glad it's now on vinyl and finally in my collection.




Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Pretty Flowers - Why Trains Crash LP - Yellow Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Dirt Cult (2018)

Let's cut to the chase.  This record is phenomenal.  Go buy it right now.  If you are wondering if there is a great record out there that's slipping below your radar, this is the one you're worried about.  Stop what you are doing and go buy it immediately.

I can't possibly say enough good things about this album.  The Pretty Flowers have created a perfect storm of fuzzy guitar riffs, incredibly catchy hooks and lyrical melodies that are impossible to get out of your head.  From the opening salvo of "Cream Of Canvas," you are instantly drawn into to its big Weezer-esque guitar solo (Blue album era Weezer, not that stuff they're doing on one of those recent Weezer albums that you didn't even know came out).  The guitars keep building up until that flawless chorus hits.  It's a killer song and only the first of many that await.

Let's move on to track three, "Some Girls."  I can say without a bit of trepidation that this is the best non-Hot Snakes song that has come out all year.  It's fucking perfect.  Once again, a short lead guitar riff punctuates the hook, and the vocals are constantly rattling around in my head, made even more impactful with the harmonies that kick in on verse two.  I have probably listened to this song a hundred times since I got this record (I've likely listened to the whole thing about fifty times or so). It gets better every single time I hear it.

The rest of the album continues this excellence.  Whether the song veers towards a mellower Weakerthans vibe like on "Chip My Paint" or if they're blasting into full on Built To Spill guitar insanity like on "Temple of Gunpowder," The Pretty Flowers hit every single song out of the park.

In a year where John Reis didn't put out an album, Why Trains Crash is almost a shoe in for album of the year.  Even with a Hot Snakes record on heavy rotation, I've been playing this Pretty Flowers album kind of non-stop the last few weeks.  After hearing this, I immediately ordered the band's other two 7"s and a T shirt from their Bandcamp page.  Anything I can do to support them and hear more music.  This is that kind of band, the one where you hear their record and you just know you're probably going to be listening to it for the rest of your life.  Go buy this now.

The Pretty Flowers - Why Trains Crash:
https://theprettyflowers.bandcamp.com/album/why-trains-crash
 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Bug Sneakers / Just A Fine Slope - Split 7"

Untitled

Dynamo / Pop Ball (1998)

I've said it before and I'll likely say it a hundred more times, but going record shopping in Tokyo with Kazu from Waterslide records was just one of the best days of my life.  The incredible stores we went to, the insane records that were at each of them and the great conversation all day long was really a highlight of a trip that had its share of highlights.

Throughout the day Kazu would point me towards records that I wouldn't have even known I needed if it weren't for his recommendation.  This split 7"is one that I picked up because I thought it looked like 90s pop punk and Kazu confirmed for me that yes, in fact it was.

Bug Sneakers have three songs on their side of the split, two bouncy and catchy originals and a Ramones cover of the song "Oh Oh I Love Her So."  The two originals are both great examples of quintessential 90s pop punk.  It's not as loud or fast as the sort of thing you'd hear on Snuffy Smile, but it takes a much poppier path and more fits in with some of the bubblegum type stuff that Lookout was putting out in the mid to late 90s.

Just A Fine Slope have two songs on their side and they're certainly a bit faster than the Bug Sneakers songs.  "Sunday" is built on a blazing guitar riff and thousand mile an hour drumming, but the vocal harmonies keep everything grounded in pop.  "Have A Nice Summer Day" is just as good and reminds me a little bit of the faster moments of the band Walker.  The Just A Fine Slope songs are rougher around the edges than Walker ever was, but they both have a similar pop song structure that I just love.

Both of these bands have other records out that I don't have.  I definitely need to get my hands on them, especially the Just A Fine Slope full length that I found out about while searching on Discogs.  It feels like there's always going to be a never ending supply of amazing Japanese punk rock records to buy.  I wish I could go back to Japan to look for them tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gleam Garden - S/T 10"

Untitled

Snuffy Smiles (2016)

I've been sitting on this 10" for a really long time.  I don't know exactly why it's taken me so long to review it.  I think it has something to do with the fact that every time I pick it up to review, I try to figure out where all of the songs have come from before and that ends up taking up too much time so I just waiting until another day.

Well that other day is today.  I think I've finally figured it out.  Of the eight songs on this 10", five of them were previously released on a split cassette with Tony's Bite, two were released on a split 7" with Chestnut Road and one of them was on a split flexi with Car10.  I don't have that Car10 split, so if anyone knows where I can get one of those, please let me know.

I've been listening to Gleam Garden for years.  They are one of the best punk rock bands in Japan and the eight songs on this 10" just prove that even more.  These songs are poppy and straightforward and perhaps a bit less noisy than some of their older releases.  But don't worry that's actually a compliment as they've still managed to maintain the energy of the past records, with a tighter focus on hooks and vocal melodies.  These are some of the best songs they've released in my opinion.

I haven't heard much from these guys since this 10" came out, but rest assured I will continue to pick up everything they release.  Provided I know it has come out.  (Seriously, if anyone can get me that split flexi with Car10, I'm buying.)

Gleam Garden - S/T 10" (Four of the eight songs are on this Bandcamp page)
https://gleamgarden.bandcamp.com/album/gleam-garden-10

Monday, July 30, 2018

Broccoli - In Session 7"

Untitled

Dink (2016)

I'm trying to make a concerted effort to tackle some of the backlog of records that I've had for a while, but haven't written about on this website yet.  More than half of that backlog is 7"s and since I just bought a house and have way less money than I normally would have to buy records with, now seems like a really good time to work my way through this pile.

I honestly have no clue why it has taken me this long to write up this Broccoli 7".  Broccoli is one of my favorite bands in the entire world and I was so very excited when they announced that they were getting back together for a tour of Japan in 2016.  This 7" was released for that tour and contains songs from 2 radio sessions.  The word 'Peel' is missing from the artwork, though I'm reasonably confident that is the type of session that spawned these recordings.  Hope I haven't alerted some sort of Google search police now that I've strung the words, Peel, Broccoli and session together on the same page.

On the A side, we have two songs from a 1996 session (though the internet contends this was a 1995 session, so maybe I'm incorrrect about what sessions these are?) including "Blue" and "Neglect It." ("Relent" and "Cherry Drop Club" were the other two songs recorded that day, for the curious).  The B side contains two songs from a 1998 session, "Broken" and "Television" ("Constance" and "Fido" rounded out that original recording).

Now all of these songs are incredible and it's especially interesting to hear live versions of them.  In particular, this version of "Neglect It" (which happens to be my favorite Broccoli song), really shines from the energy of the band playing live, with the drums sounding particularly intense.  That said, all of these songs sound great as you'd expect because they're great songs.  I do kind of wish they had done two separate 7"s, each containing the whole session for that year, but I will never not be excited about a new Broccoli record to add to the collection.  Now if only they'd get together again to write some new songs...

Broccoli - In Session 7" (Side One):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyXbV3dNtz4

Broccoli - In Session 7" (Side Two):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1NJFYhw00

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Collection Medley 7" (Spain)

Untitled

WEA (1992)

I'll be the first to admit, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel with Blues Brothers 7"s at this point.  We're left with the weird and the pointless now.  I would say this 7" neatly fits into both of those categories as it is kind of weird and it is definitely pointless.

I imagine this is a promotional release, though for the life of me I can't figure out what they were trying to accomplish with this promotion.  This 7" has the same song on both sides and that song is a four and a half minute medley of four different Blues Brothers songs mushed together.  There's about thirty to forty-five seconds of "Do You Love Me," "Going Back to Miami," "Everybody Needs Somebody" and "Jailhouse Rock" blended together in a really bizarre fashion.  They use the crowd noise as cover for their cuts from song to song and really, it's just the freaking weirdest thing.

I don't know where this would ever be useful or where it would be played or why anyone would ever need it.  Then again, on top of all of that, I did buy it so maybe I'm the real asshole in this scenario.  Oh, and there's a second one of these out there, but we'll talk about that in two weeks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Starvingman - Sound of Sirens CD

Untitled 

I Hate Smoke (2017)

I picked up this Starvingman CD at the recommendation of Kazu from Waterslide records.  He rarely steers me wrong and once again, he's shown me another incredible band that I don't think I would have found on my own.

Now, I need to say up front that there are a few songs on this album, including on the opening track "向かい風" where there's some accordion and flute.  In some ways it's kind of a nice incorporation of folksy melodies into modern punk. But in other ways it kind of sounds like the Dropkick Murphys and that's just not my scene.  Luckily, the vast, vast majority of this album is top notch melodic pop punk.

The riffs are punchy with just the right amount of palm muting that leads into giant sing along choruses.  There are aspects that reming me a little bit of the poppier moments of Blew, but everything is a little bit slicker production-wise.  The hooks are incredible throughout the album and in particular the title track "Sound of Sirens" and its immediate follow up "Do The Right Thing" (not the Leatherface song) are two of the highlights on this CD.  This is the band's second album, so if anyone sees their first one, I need that.

Starvingman - "Do The Right Thing":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFbkDHj1P0A

Starvingman - "タックスヘイブン":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hLnDXYUZ2w


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Baseball Furies - All American Psycho LP (Red Vinyl)

Untitled

Big Neck (2018)

This Baseball Furies LP contains a previously released 10" and 7" onto one convenient piece of vinyl.  Having not heard of the band prior to receiving this in the mail from Big Neck, I'm not familiar with the original formats so these songs were all brand new to me.

I have to say that while this is better than many other bands of this ilk, I don't think it's really for me.  The positives are in the music.  The guitar riffs are fast and furious, with explosive garage energy and just the right amount of lead guitar licks.  There's a little bit of a trashy 60s vibe to a lot of the songs, mixed with a more modern sensibility, but vocally it doesn't hold up for me.

The vocals are really blown out and distorted in that way where the singer sounds like he's shouting from the confines of a cave.  Sometimes this works, other times it doesn't and for my ears, there's just too much yelling on this album.  If the vocals were taken down a notch, I think I'd be much more into this than I am.  But again, this is a lot better than some of the other garden variety garage revival bands out there.

The Baseball Furies - All American Psycho:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/baseball-furies-all-american-psycho

Monday, July 23, 2018

Badge 714 - Tearless 7"

Untitled

KiliKiliVilla (2016)

This 7" is another one of that I picked up while in Japan last year.  Yes, here we are a year and a half later and I still have a pretty large pile of records from that trip that I haven't written about yet.  Honestly, there are still so many that by the time I get through them I actually might be able to afford to go back to Japan again.

I wasn't familiar with Badge 714, but from what I can tell, they were a band that was active in the mid 90s and this version on Killi Killi Villa is a reissue of a long out of print 7" that came out way back when.  It's funny that when listening to it, while it still has a 90s vibe to it, if you didn't tell me it was almost twenty five years old, I don't think I would have realized that.  The band has a female vocalist, Wakako Uemura, who has such an incredible grasp of melody and a really powerful voice.

In some ways I'm reminded a bit of Cigaretteman, but only just a bit as Badge 714 is much more melodic and the songs tend to be more relaxed.  The two songs on the record itself are accompanied by two extra songs on the download.  I'm not sure why they weren't on the record itself but if Discogs is to be believed they both originally appeared on compilation albums.  They are both excellent and I do wish they were on the actual record.  Luckily my favorite of the bunch, "Mama Made a Face at the Cloudy Sky," is on the 7" and it's really a hell of a song.

I don't think there's much else out there by Badge 714, but if anyone else knows something about other records they have out, let me know so I can start looking around for them.

Badge 714 - "Tearless":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V0nHSZB9aE

Badge 714 - "Mama Made a Face at the Cloudy Sky":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiYRoJmnCO8



Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Bootleg 12"

Untitled

Bootleg (20??)

This bootleg, one sided 12" has been kicking around for a few years, occasionally popping up on Discogs or eBay at a ridiculous price.  I'm not sure where they came from or why someone would be bootlegging anyone, let along Rocket From The Crypt, these days.  But in an effort to keep the collection complete I did pick up a copy when I found one that dropped to a semi reasonable price.

The songs on here haven't ever been released on vinyl before, so that's a plus.  The record starts out with the song "My Silverhead."  This is one of those Rocket tracks with a mysterious pass.  For the longest time, the rumor was that this song was preloaded on some wacky MP3 player that was sold in the burgeoning days of that technology.  I have no proof that this is the case, but the song has been circulating on the dark web ever since.  The version on this 12" sounds way better than the MP3 that I have, so I'm pretty pleased that this is on here.

The next three songs are three of the four extra tracks that came on the expanded Circa Now
+4 reissue that came out on Swami a while ago.  I'm not sure why they left off "Flight of the Hobo," but since that expanded version of Circa Now didn't come out on vinyl, I don't mind having these songs on that format.  But again, why wouldn't you put on all four?  The bizarre choices one makes when illegally releasing records I guess...

The 12" finishes up with two live cover songs.  These seem to be taken from an in store performance.  When Group Sounds came out, Rocket played a few afternoon in stores before their real show later that evening.  They were loose and low key and the one I went to at Tower Records in NYC was a blast.  The two songs here are covers of "Down In The Boondocks" and "Blue Cowboy."  Both are fun and the sound quality is pretty good all things considered.

While I would prefer an official vinyl release for all of these songs, this 12" is still a decent little addition to the Rocket collection.  They made a few odd choices with track selection and the track list on the sleeve itself is totally wrong ("Lambs For Sale" anyone?), but the sound quality of the vinyl is pretty good and the songs are, of course, pretty damn great.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Crocodile God / The Corpse - Split CD

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2018)

This CD out on Fixing A Hole in Japan pairs 90s UK punk stalwarts Crocodile God with Japanese newcomers The Corpse.  A split with a UK band on one side and a Japanese band on the other is something that I've loved since I started buying Snuffy Smile 7"s back in the mid 90s.  While the concept of a split CD is still a little weird to me, this release brings me back to the glory days of discovering incredible new bands.

Crocodile God is a band I've been listening to for over twenty years.  Their brand of fast paced and catchy punk rock is one I'll never get sick of.  Though on this release, two of the three songs included are also on their split 7" with Not Tonight & The Headaches.  Both songs are still as good as they were on that 7", but for me at least, they aren't new to this release.  What is new is an acoustic version of their song "Ladders."  This has always been my favorite Crocodile God song ever since I picked up the 7" it was on that Crackle put out.  Hearing it in an acoustic context really highlights what a damn perfect vocal melody they came up with for this song.  It's a little slower than the original (which is typically the case with acoustic versions of punk rock songs), but it's just as excellent.

The Corpse turned in one of the highlights of the recent Tribute To Broccoli CD with their version of "Chestnut Road."  I'm happy to report that the three original songs on this split are just as great if not better than their Broccoli cover.  All three songs are perfect example of the sort of melodic punk rock I like to listen to.  There are times where they remind me of some of the classic Snuffy Smile bands of the past, but at the same time they elevate their songs with more complex arrangements that remind me a little bit of Summerman, though with the distorion turned way up and the tempo much faster.  In all honesty, these three songs are some of the best I've heard all year.  I really hope The Corpse puts out some more records really soon.

The Corpse - "Continue To Existence":
https://soundcloud.com/thecorpsefromoita/continue-to-existence

Crocodile God - "Spinning" and "Entomoligist Eyes":
https://crocodilegod.bandcamp.com/album/split-with-not-tonight-and-the-headaches

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Character Actor - Out Of Hands 7"

Untitled 

 Dirt Cult (2018)

I recently picked up a batch of new records from Dirt Cult, a label that I implicitly trust with their releases (except those really fast hardcore leaning ones, they're not my bag so much).  There were several highlights, others that I'll be writing about soon, but I wanted to start out with this fantastic 7" from Character Actor.

While the players have previously been in bands like The Ergs, Black Wine and Night Birds, Character Actor have more in common with the sort of fuzzy guitar punk that bands like Fear Of Lipstick or The Creeps have released.  The first three songs all clock in under two minutes long and are quick bursts of punchy guitar and energetic vocals.  There's some great hooks in here and part of me wishes the band wasn't quite so economical with their time.

The final song on the 7", "72 Paperbacks," changes things up a little bit, slowing down the tempo and extending the length of the song.  It still manages to be just as impactful as the prior three with a lower key, but still driving rhythm section and some minimal, but very effective lead guitar riffs.  All in all a great debut, hopefully this isn't the last we hear from these guys.  I would absolutely pick up a full length.

Character Actor - Out Of Hands 7"
https://dirtcultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/character-actor

Monday, July 16, 2018

Abolitionist - The Instant LP - Red Vinyl (/274)

Untitled

1859 Records (2018)

The Instant is the third album by Abolitionist that I've been able to write about on this website.  Over the years I've watched them start out as an exciting band that I hadn't heard of before to a group that I can count on to churn out a pretty strong record every time.

I was a little concerned when the album starts off with the title track as the drumming is in full on gallop mode with the song careening by at a thousand miles an hour.  But this is something of a false start as by the very next song, "Trouble," Abolitionist takes things down a notch and settles into a slightly slower and certainly more melodic pace for a good portion of this album.  In fact I'd venture to say this is probably the album of their's with the least amount of blazing fast songs and I really think they benefit from that. There are plenty of fast, uptempo songs on The Instant, they just don't pass that speed limit where we start venturing into NOFX territory.

Many times throughout the album I'm reminded of Dead Mechanical, primarily in the vocals, but also in the way that the bands construct their songs.  They achieve maximum catchiness, but never sacrifice the underlying angst or pissed-off-ed-ness that are fueling the songs.  All of their albums are solid, but The Instant may be the best of the bunch.

Abolitionist - The Instant:
https://1859records.bandcamp.com/album/abolitionist-the-instant-lp

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Aretha Franklin & The Blues Brothers Band - Think 7" (Australia)

Untitled

Atlantic (1983)

I'm actually just about through all of the Blues Brothers 7"s that I have.  At this point all that is left are a few that are kind of weird and of course the handful that I haven't tracked down yet.  This one is a Blues Brothers 7" although if anything it's kind of like a split 7" with Aretha Franklin.

Aretha gets top billing with her version of "Think" from the Soundtrack of the Blues Brothers movie.  Always a longtime favorite of mine, Aretha's pipes are on full display here as she careens through an incredibly energetic version of the song.  It's one of the most memorable scenes in a movie that has its fair share of memorable scenes.

On the B side is the Blues Brothers version of the theme from "Rawhide."  Again, from an iconic scene in the movie, the whole section from Bob's Country Bunker is one of my very favorites and I've always been partial to the song, even though it's from the soundtrack and is a slightly different and longer version than what is played in the movie.  I think that I like "Rawhide" so much because it is one of the few songs out there that Elwood sings.  And since he's always been my favorite Blues Brother, I've just dug this since I was a little kid.

This is definitely one of the more unique Blues Brothers 7"s I have, it has unique artwork with pictures that miraculously have not been recycled from other releases.  It's even got a funny, fake newspaper clipping show review of the Bob's Country Bunker show by the Good Old Blues Brothers Boys Band from Chicago.  Quality stuff.

Aretha Franklin & The Blues Brothers Band - "Think":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELVZIlv5fbE

The Blues Brothers - "Theme From Rawhide":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y55zpYfFAE

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Fastbacks - Answer The Phone, Dummy LP

Untitled

Sub Pop (1994)

When I went to the Seattle Pop Punk Festival in January one of the bands that played was K Streets.  A band featuring multiple members of the Fastbacks, playing Fastbacks songs.  For whatever reasons, The Fastbacks were never a band that I had listened to much, if at all, over the years.  They embarrassingly just weren't on my radar and I never bought any of their records.  K Streets, however, blew my goddamn mind and I knew right then I had to go buy every Fastbacks record I could possibly get my hands on.

At the recommendation of my buddy Alan, I've started with their 1994 album Answer The Phone, Dummy.  The dual vocals of Lulu Gargiulo and Kim Warnick coupled with the insane guitar pyrotechnics of Kurt Bloch create a real firestorm of catchy songs that have an unbelievable energy to them.  Guitar solos are not always my favorite things at the best of times, but the way Kurt weaves them into these songs, they never feel like self indulgent wanking, they are always in service to the hook and the song.

There are so many incredible songs throughout this album.  Crazed fast rockers like "Went For a Swim,"slower more introspective ones like "Old Address of the Unknown" and flat out pop masterpieces like “On The Wall” and "I Found The Star."  Every song has something unique to offer but still work in the context of the album as a whole.

Again, it's borderline ridiculous that it took me until 2018 to realize that the Fastbacks are great and that I should be listening to their records.  I'm well over twenty five years behind the curve on this band, but now that I've seen the light my hunt begins to track down the rest of their large and very intimidating discography.  If anyone has a recommendation of the next one to pick up, let me know.

The Fastbacks - "I Found The Star":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50QTl8SYEnA

The Fastbacks - "Trumpets Are Loud":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuArA4BDW3E

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Revolution For Her Smile - A Compilation of Rad Youth CD

Untitled

Road Trip (2017)

This album came out at the very end of last year and Kazu from Waterslide recommended that I check them out as he though they'd be up my alley.  He was absolutely right so I bought this CD when I made my most recent bulk purchase of punk rock from Japan.  Revolution For Her Smile is another amazing band in what seems to be a never ending string of amazing melodic punk rock bands from Japan.

Throughout the ten songs on this album, Revolution For Her Smile turn in some amazing moments.  From the bouncy and upbeat opener "Small Riots" to the more straightforward rocker "Waking Life" to the more subdued, but no less catchy "Three Chord Song" this is a band that knows the value of a high caliber hook.  There are parts of the album that remind me of the equally excellent Summerman, but in general Revolution For Her Smile leans a bit fuzzier with their guitars and a bit louder overall.

I'm not sure what it is, but sometimes I really feel like Japanese bands create the best punk rock in the world.  Revolution For Her Smile is another incredible band in that tradition and I can only hope that A Compilation Of Rad Youth is the first of many fantastic records that they'll put out.

Revolution For Her Smile - A Compilation of Rad Youth:
https://revolutionforhersmile.bandcamp.com/album/a-compilation-of-rad-youth

Monday, July 9, 2018

Raging Nathans / Wonk Unit - Split 7"

Untitled

Drunken Sailor / Rad Girlfriend (2016)

I'm not exactly sure why it took me two years to pick up this 7".  I'm actually not positive that I knew it was out, though that seems weird to me.  Anyway, I grabbed it while looking for something to help qualify for free shipping while grabbing some records from Green Noise.  This split popped up and it fit the bill perfectly.

First up on this split 7" we have Raging Nathans.  A few years ago I wrote about their album Losing It and I definitely enjoyed that.  The two songs on this 7" seem to reflect a somewhat rougher version of the band as they barrel through three chord, pop punk style riffs at blazing speed.  Both songs are short, economical and cram a ton of energy into their brief run times.  "Good For You" is my favorite of the two with it's bouncy, super catchy chorus.  These guys also have a new album out this year called Cheap Fame, but I haven't picked that one up yet.

On the other side of the 7" we have Wonk Unit, a band that I was really late to the party for, but one that I've been trying to make up for lost time with.  "We Came Together" starts thing of with a jangly guitar riff, that feels like something that might be on a deep cut of a Vacant Lot album, but with a slight ska lean to it.  "Candy" showcases Wonk Unit's ability to craft a simple, sparse song that still contains all of the energy of the loudest punk thrasher you can think of.  Their ability to keep things unique, but still cram their songs full of hooks is on full display during both songs.

Raging Nathans / Wonk Unit - Split 7":
https://drunkensailorrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wonk-unit-raging-nathans-split-7
 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

V/A - 14 Soda Punx LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Top Drawer (2018)

Reviewing compilations is a pain in the ass.  You have to try to write about a bunch of different bands all playing different songs and it's often difficult to tie everything together in a way that makes any sense.  For that reason, I've been sitting on 14 Soda Punx for a few months.  Even though there's a nice, built in talking point of my trip out to Seattle to see many of these bands play at the Seattle Pop Punk Festival (it was actually reviewing the Four Lights album the other day that spurred my on to finally tackle this one) it's still tough to navigate compilations.

I'm not going to be able to write something about every band, but I'll hit a few.  The album starts off on side A with a band called Sucesss who have a song called "Kurt Bloch."  That was confusing at first.  It's actually a pretty good song, even though the lyrics are kind of silly.  Coyote Bred have a song called "Pile" that's catchy and poppy, with a little bit of a Social Distortion twang to it.  Burn Burn Burn's drummer plays too fast.  I don't really like Choke The Pope, though I did enjoy the song on here more than I expected to.

"Leave You Guessing" by Four Lights starts off the B side and is as good as anything on their recent full length, so that's a highlight.  The Botherations have a great contribution with "Amor Perdido," that kind of has a darker pop punk feel, like the Red Dons.  The Drolls has Denny from Sicko in the band and "Getting Old" is probably my favorite song on the album.  Dude sure can write a hook.  Date Night With Brian has Ean from Sicko and "Get It In" is indie pop fun.  Really dig this song. Dude can sure write a hook.

13 Soda Punx was one of my favorite compilations of the 90s.  It had Sicko, Mr. T Experience, Bum, Stand GT and a slew of other pretty great bands.  14 Soda Punx is a pretty solid sequel.  The highlights for me tend to be some of the bands that sound like they could have been on the first comp, including the bands that have people that were in bands on the first compilation.  But there are plenty of new sounds to discover on this one and really, isn't that the point of compilations?

V/A - 14 Soda Punx:
https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F359264052%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-4t1pd&color=%23444e59&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=false&show_user=false&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=false

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Practice - Punk Rock Needs Tragedy 7"

Untitled

Niw (2016)

This was a record I picked up while in Tokyo.  Actually, I mistakenly bought it twice, so I have two copies of it.  This was a Record Store Day 2016 release, so I guess in Japan, like in America, a lot of Record Store Day releases end up being around long past the original release date.

The Practice was a band that put out a few 7"s on Snuffy Smiles many years ago.  I loved those 7"s, but then the band kind of fell off my radar.  I know they put out a few CDs that I never was able to pick up, but those Snuffy Smiles 7"s were pretty much all I have heard.  The four songs on this 7" are, in general, pretty good, but they feel a lot cleaner and not as immediately attention grabbing as those earlier 7"s I have.

The 7" starts off with "Yuck Fou," A song that is big and anthemic and sure does have a lot of swearing in it.  It's the very definition of a fist pumper and even though the guitars are jangly and somewhat in the background of the mix, you can definitely feel the energy. "(Super Dirty) Old Town" has a bouncy bass line and is pretty organ heavy you can hear The Clash for sure, but the chorus reminds me of Snuff a bit.

"Another Measure" is the slowest of the bunch with a borderline reggae style drum beat.  It's not my favorite of the four. "Tragedy" closes the 7" and is my favorite this batch of songs.  With a driving rhythm section and a really catchy chorus, it's the the most straightforward song on the 7" and I think, the best.  While I don't think this 7" as a whole is as good as the other Practice records I have, these are still solid songs that I dig.  I'm not sure I need two copies of it, but I'm happy to hang on to one of them.

The Practice - "Yuck Fou" (I could only find a live version on YouTube):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0YOLYGcCGY

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Four Lights - Kobayashi Maru LP - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Bomb Pop / Stardumb (2018)

Four Lights hail from Seattle and they actually played at the incredible Seattle Pop Punk Festival that I went to in January.  There were a ton of great bands that played that weekend and it was pretty cool to have this album show up in the mail.  Whatever magic Four Lights had as a live band that weekend has absolutely transferred to this album.  It's a gigantic ball of energy from start to finish.

To my ears, Four Lights has successfully threaded the needle between bands like Samiam and Superdrag.  They have the big, crunchy guitars and pounding energy you'd come to expect from the Samiams of the world.  But, they manage to incorporate the sort of hooks, song structures and harmonies that one might expect from some of those Superdrag level bands that snuck onto some major labels back in the 90s (only to end up in the used CD bins of the world for all eternity).

That isn't to say Four Lights is destined for the used bin.  Quite the contrary, this is an album filled with songs that get absolutely lodged into your cranium.  Whether the band is blasting forward full steam on songs like "ComRAD" and "We Got Em"or when they slow things down as they do on "Scene of the Crime" and "Jimmy's Song Part 2" (which reminds me a ton of the band Hospital Job) they always deliver on a big fat chorus that you'll be humming for days afterwards.  I'd not heard of Four Lights prior to the Seattle Pop Punk Festival, but I'm sure glad I did as Kobayashi Maru is good stuff.

Four Lights - Kobayashi Maru:
https://fourlightsrock.bandcamp.com/album/kobayashi-maru

Monday, July 2, 2018

Kenny Baker - Out of There, Out of Time CD

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2017)

Going to Japan last year was more than just a great trip, it also stoked the fire I have for the Japanese punk rock scene.  Over the last few years I had been trying to pay more attention to things over there, but since that trip all I want to do is buy more Japanese records.  Luckily, Kazu from Waterslide records has been there to help me find some things I've been looking for and also to recommend some bands that I might have missed on my own.  Kenny Baker was one of his picks for me last year and I am so thankful I listened to him and bought a copy of this CD.

Out of There, Out of Time is practically a perfect melodic punk rock record.  Kenny Baker channels the sort of melodies and hooks that you'd hear from Doughboys or perhaps the more upbeat moments of Senseless Things, but they enchance these hooks with the sort of vigor and energy you'd expect from a band like Samiam or Blew.  Kenny Baker has managed to take some of my favorite sounds of the 90s and put their own stamp on it, creating ten absolutely fantastic songs.

If it's not obvious, I love this album.  I only wish I had gotten it last year when it came out so I could have put it on my list of the best records that came out in 2017.  There's no way Out of There, Out of Time wouldn't have at least been in the top five of the year.  It's one of the best records I've heard in a while.  Now I just have to try to find their other EPs that came out back in the 90s and hope they are already working on a new record.  Seriously, this is the best.

Kenny Baker - "Heavy Moon" (I can't find anything streaming, but Fixing A Hole has an MP3 of this song up):
http://fixingahole.jpn.org/mp3s/kenny_baker-heavy_moon.mp3

Kenny Baker - "I Just Want To Say Something To You" (Also an MP3):
http://fixingahole.jpn.org/mp3s/kenny_baker-something_to_you.mp3

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Who's Making Love 7" (Spain)

Untitled

Atlantic (1981)

This week's Blues Brothers 7" is essentially identical to the one I posted two weeks ago.  It has the same songs and the same recycled picture from the Made In America album cover.  The only real differences are that it's from Spain rather than France and the font that they chose for the title on the front of the sleeve is different.  This time out they opted for a boxier font rather than the bigger more cartoony one of the French version.

I'm still not exactly sure why the American version of this 7" didn't get a picture sleeve, but then again I'm also still trying to wrap my head around why there are so few images available to be used for all of these different releases.  Regardless, it's another fun one for the collection.  I'm definitely getting close to having gone through all of these.  I keep hoping some of the ones I'm missing show up on Discogs pretty soon.  We'll see.

The Blues Brothers - "Who's Making Love":

The Blues Brothers - "Perry Mason Theme":

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Stand Alone - Think Backward CD EP

Untitled

Self Released (2017)

It's always a blast to discover a new band that is wielding their guitars for the forces of good.  Stand Alone are from Japan and like so many other bands from that wonderful country are playing just the kind of rock and roll that my ears wants to hear.

Stand Alone are cut from the same cloth as many of the great Snuffy Smiles bands from the late 90s and early 00s.  There are two singers which gives the band a dynamic vocal range that can go from sounding a bit like Screaming Fat Rat all the way down to a gruffer, more melodic delivery not unlike what you would hear in a band like Shipyards.  Musically there's a mix of big crunchy power chords, energetic octaves and slower, jangling note picking.  

If there's one criticism from me, it's that at four songs (with one an instrumental), this EP is too short.  I want to hear so much more from this band.  I'm pretty blown away by my first time hearing them and can only hope they have more songs like these that I'll get to hear in the future.

Stand Alone - Think Backward:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gallery Night - I Want To Die Here 7" - White Vinyl

Untitled

Big Neck (2018)

This little slab of noise comes via Big Neck records.  Gallery Night recorded a bunch of songs and then split them up on 7"s over three labels; Dusty Medical, Tall Pat and Big Neck.  I can't speak for the others, but the three songs on the Big Neck 7" are something.

I'm not use to hearing this sort of thing in 2018.  The sludgy guitars and pounding drums make me thing of 90s institutions like Hammerhead, Karp or the noisier moments of Unwound.  The production in particular is great, with deep, throbbing bass and perfectly mixed vocals that you can hear above the roar, but don't end up being a bunch of unrecognizable screaming.  

While I'm always happy to have more bands that bring back the 90s heyday of varied and intense rock and roll, this 7" just doesn't quite hit me as hard now as it may have if I'd heard it twenty years ago.  That's not to say it's bad or not well done for what it is, it's just not something that I see myself listening to all that often.  If you were a bigger AmRep fan than I was, your milage may vary.

Gallery Night - I Want To Die Here 7":

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Mr. T Experience - Shards Volume One LP - Blue Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Sounds Rad (2018)

There was definitely a period in the mid 90s where I would have told you without hesitation that the Mr. T Experience was one of the best bands on the planet.  The way they combined essential pop punk hooks with lyrics that were way too smart for me to completely process put them head and shoulders above so many other bands of the era that were mining the same influences.  While I can't say I followed them every step of the way after a certain point, they went on a multi album spree for a while that is an essential part of my record collection.

Shards compiles a bunch of 'lost songs' from a large swath of time that the Mr. T Experience was active.  Most have been released on compilations, singles or hastily added tracks to the CD versions of some of their albums.  For many, this is their first appearance on vinyl.  There are some that have been long time favorites of mine such as the Shonen Knife cover "Flying Jelly Attack," "Semi-OK" and one of several iterations of "God Bless America." 

There also a few that I've never heard including an interesting version of "Sackcloth and Ashes" that is just Dr. Frank and bucket load of tremolo.  I dig the way the song is stripped bare and allows the vocal melody to really shine through.  

The entire album is surprisingly consistent in sound and song quality considering the different sources of each of these songs.  I enjoy finally having these songs in one handy place on vinyl.  There's a volume two out there digitally, I can only assume it'll make its way to vinyl at some point as well.  After that, I hope they get around to doing a proper singles compilation of all of those tracks that aren't on studio albums.  Again, would be nice to have those all in one place for a quick spin on the turntable.

The Mr. T Experience - Shards Volume One (I couldn't find this on Bandcamp or anywhere other than Spotify, which I never use.  Maybe it's useful to you though):

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Governess - S/T LP

Untitled

Radical Empathy / One Percent Press (2017)

I will admit, I've had this album sitting around for a a while, unsure of what exactly I wanted to say about it.  I find it kind of perplexing and it's difficult to articulate the things about it that don't quite land for me, but without insinuating that it's inherently bad.

The album was sent to me to listen to by the folks at One Percent Press.  It's an LP reissue of Governess' self titled album, originally only released on cassette.  For that reason along OPP and co releasing label Radical Empathy should be commend.  I'll always support liberating albums from tape hell.  That being said, this isn't really the sort of album that I would really ever listen to all that often.

The production on the entire record is very soft.  Instruments register in the background, sometimes seeming like they were recorded on a different plane, not quite in the studio and not quite of this dimension.  The vocals are otherworldly, giving a gentle but haunting vibe and they glide over the sparse drumming and even sparser guitar work.

If you are looking for something that's perhaps a bit more chill than your typical punk rock diet or if you are a bit more into soundscape type stuff or albums that make strong use of audio texture, this might be up your alley.  For me, it's just kind of pleasant background noise.  Not present enough to offend or delight.

Governess - S/T:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summerman - Fan CD

Untitled

Super Capsaicin (2018)

One of the best discoveries I made when I went to Japan last year was a band called Summerman.  Their last album Temperature Is... has been on a non stop loop ever since I picked it up.  It's just one of those perfect albums.  Now Summerman is back with their sophomore full length called Fan.  It's aptly named as I am a huge fan of these guys.

While I tend to favor the Japanese bands that slide a bit more easily into the Snuffy Smiles style of gruffer punk rock, Summerman wins me over with their sheer mastery of hooks and ability to build song structures.  Summerman has more in common with bands like Silver Scooter or Falls.  They construct their songs using delicate layers of jangly guitar lines coupled with a forceful rhythm section that keeps the energy level way up.  

There are three guitar players in this band and while the punk rock part of my brain sees that on paper and thinks it might be overkill, when my ears actually hear the complex, but supremely catchy melodies they create with this set up, it's hard to argue its effectiveness.  Let's not also forget to mention, they cover a Chester Copperpot song on this record, which is absolutely insane to me.  Their treatment of "No Wonder"is a revelation, giving the song a fuller sound and a different vibe while still maintaining the same levels of pure joy that the Chester version manages to convey.

I do wish this had come out on vinyl and I'm hopeful that one day it does get released in that format.  But no matter what format it could possibly come out on, there's no denying how great Fan is.  Summerman has put out a pretty stellar release and it's one of the albums I've been listening to the most this year.  Absolutely worth checking out.

Summerman - "White":

Summerman - "Super Health":

Summerman - "No Wonder" (This is a live version, not the one on the album but you'll get the general idea):


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lawsuit Models - Off The Pavement LP - White w/ Green Marble Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I've said in the past that Snappy Little Numbers has become one of those really trustworthy labels over the past few years.  It feels like nearly everything they put out is fine tuned to appeal directly to me.  Lawsuit Models is no exception to this.  It's another great album filled with big hooks and 90s style rock tunes.

The thing that immediately jumps out as a comparison point for Lawsuit Models is the band Pollen.  Especially the later, Wind Up records album Peach Tree.  While musically, they are somewhat similar, each having a knack for crunchy guitars and simple, but extremely catchy riffs, it's really the vocals of one of the singers that evoke the memories of Pollen.  There is a slight rasp, not to the extreme like a Frankie Stubbs, but one that evokes a warmth and a familiarity that allows the lyrics and melodies to really sink in.

There is another singer whose vocals lean towards a more straightforward punk rock delivery, but they're no less effective and these songs give the album a jolt and keeps things dynamic and interesting throughout.  If it isn't obvious, I really dig this record.  These guys may not be on your radar, but they really should be.  Particularly if you're one of the dozen or so people that picked up Pollen CDs out of the $2 used bins during the 90s.

Lawsuit Models - Off The Pavement:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fifteen - Swain's First Bike Ride LP - Blue w/Yellow, White & Orange Splatter (/137)

Untitled

Dead Broke (2017, Reissue)

I probably mentioned when I reviewed the reissue of the first Fifteen 7" a few months ago that I have been embarrassingly unfamiliar with this band until very recently.  While I've been a huge Crimpshrine fan for as long as I can remember, for whatever reason, I never followed along with Fifteen during the bands initial run of records.  Luckily there's a bunch of reissues going on right now, making it easier to catch up.

While I was left pretty flat with the Liberation 7", Swain's First Bike Ride is much better and way more up my alley.  I hear a lot more of the scratchy guitar progressions along with Jeff Ott's distinctive rasp.  It's not as all over the place as the 7" was as the album has a more consistent and cohesive sound, fitting right in with the sort of thing going on at Lookout records in the late 80s and early 90s.  Where the 7" felt like a bunch of songs thrown together, this feels more like an album.

I still have a long way to go to catch up on Fifteen's discography.  I did pick up two more of their albums that were recently reissued and I'll be spending time with those and hopefully writing up a little something about them in the near future.

Fifteen - Swain's First Bike Ride:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Who's Making Love 7" (France)

Untitled

Atlantic (1981)

Here we are, talking about singles from the very last Blues Brothers full length album, Made In America.  As a whole, that album is one that I don't quite have the ties to like I have with Briefcase Full of Blues or the soundtrack to the movie.  I never had Made In America as a kid, it didn't get added to my collection until I was a teenager.  I'm not sure why, especially considering how much I loved the Blues Brothers at the time, but for whatever reason, I just never had it as a kid.

In the US, they did release "Who's Making Love" as a single, but it didn't come out with a picture sleeve domestically.  This week's entry is from France.  Artwork wise, they reuse the cover artwork from the Made in America LP, and just added some text about the songs on this 7".

"Who's Making Love" doesn't pop for me quite the same way that other Blues Brothers songs do, but that's not to say it isn't still a pretty rousing version of this song.  As usual the band is firing on all cylinders and Jake's vocals are fiery and on point.  The B side they chose for this is a little bizarre.  It's essentially an instrumental cover of the theme song to Perry Mason.  I say primarily instrumental because for some strange reason, Elwood kind of mumbles along with the melody, occasionally spitting out a word that can be understood.  It's totally fine in the context of the record as a brief interlude.  But as a focused on B side, it makes less sense to me.

The Blues Brothers - "Who's Making Love":

The Blues Brothers - "Perry Mason Theme":




Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wolves of the Dry Ravine - Play With Matches (Near The Powder Keg) LP

Untitled

Stepdads (2018)

Wolves of the Dry Ravine have the dubious honor of being the record I review today because it's not currently packed away in a box somewhere.  This one showed up during my move, so I happen to have it handy.  The downside being that I haven't spent as much time with it as I typically like to before writing about something on this website, but luckily it's a really good album with short, catchy songs that sink in quickly.

Each song is built off of a wonderfully full, yet not super distorted guitar tone.  It has the right amount of fuzz, but mixed with just enough of the treble end of the spectrum to remain bright and shiny.  In general, each of the album's fifteen songs clock in at about the two and a half minute mark, but man this band can cram an awful lot of hooks into those two minutes.  

It sounds like something that would have fit right in if it had been released on Ptrash and in particular, there are times where it reminds me of Sedatives, though without the dark vibe.  This is most prevalent on songs like "Shut Down" and "Bow Down" where a little flourish of keyboard goes a long way.  Having never heard this band before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but this Wolves of the Dry Ravine album is a really strong debut effort.  Definitely worth checking out.

Wolves of the Dry Ravine - Play With Matches (Near The Powder Keg):

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Figgs - Low-Fi at Society High LP

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Imago (1994)

It took a day longer than I expected to get back online and ready to write about records again.  The new house is nice, but I'd be lying if I were to say it isn't pretty chaotic right now.  The bulk of my records are still packed up in boxes, so it's going to be a little tricky to get reviews done this week.  Luckily, I did receive one record in the mail during the move, and it's one I'm pretty darn familiar with.

I had first heard of The Figgs when I picked up a 7" of the song "Step Back, Let's Go Pop."  I think it was a promo single that I got for a dollar or something like that.  It made me pick up the album it came from, Low-Fi at Society High.  "Step Back" is the lead of track on the album and it really sets the stage for what is to come.  Loud, crunchy guitars, building chord progressions, tight and punchy drumming and strong and catchy vocal melodies.  While that sentence really exhausts my collection of adjectives, it really is the best way to sum up what a dynamic and easy to listen to pop rock band The Figgs are.

I've had this on CD forever, but it took a while to grab the LP at a decent price.  I've had my eye on it for a while and a reasonably priced copy finally showed up on Discogs and I decided it was time to finally add the vinyl version to the collection.

The Figgs have been going for ages and they have a bunch of records out that I'm just not as familiar with. Low-Fi and their 1996 follow up, Banda Macho are the only records of theirs that I ended up owning.  I probably should dig a bit deeper into their discography, but I've got a lot of other records to unpack first.

The Figgs - "Step Back, Let's Go Pop":

The Figgs - "Favorite Shirt":

Monday, June 4, 2018

Hold Please

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As I had mentioned in one of my posts last week, my wife and I are moving into our first house.  I thought that I might be able to prewrite a handful of reviews to keep things going this week, but it became clear very quickly that was not going to work out.  

All of my records are packed up.  All of my LPs are in the new house, though my computer and everything else is still in my apartment.  I'm going to just take a break this week, power through this move and hopefully be back at it on Monday.

I'll be taking stupid pictures and complaining on Twitter during the move, so feel free to follow me there if you can't imagine going a week without my terrible writing.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sea Lilies - Soonest 12" EP

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Tired As A Chicken (2018)

Over the past fifteen years, few bands have delighted me in the way that Sick Sick Birds and Dead Mechanical have.  I love everything that each of those bands have created, so I was pretty devastated when they both broke up.  What I didn't expect was for members of each band to join forces in a new project together.  Lucas Carscadden and Matt Dorsey from Dead Mechanical have teamed up with Mike Hall from Sick Sick Birds to create an incredible EP that only makes me yearn to hear more.

Each of the band's six songs are flawless in their execution, bringing together the melodic pop mastery of SSB with the gritty, fast paced energy and dynamic guitar work of Dead Mechanical.  The thing that really strikes me is how much Sea Lilies really is a sum of their parts.  They've managed to take the very best parts of each of their former bands and merged them into something that lives up to all expectations and in certain ways surpasses their previous work.  

The only criticism I can possibly give is I wish it were longer and had double the amount of songs on it (they have an excellent demo that I would have loved to be included on this vinyl release).  This EP is hands down, easily one of the best things you will hear this year.  I flat out love it, I hope they sell a billion copies of it and I am anxiously awaiting their next release.  Hopefully that comes out real soon.  Go buy this.

Sea Lilies - Soonest EP:

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Triple Junk - Get Away 7"

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Blue My Mind (2018)

As a warning, my posts over the next few weeks are probably going to be a little sporadic.  I'm in the process of packing for a move.  If you are a regular visitor, you probably know that I tend to accumulate a lot of stuff.  Just packing up all of the records is going to be a Herculean task and I collect more than just records.  Also, it's difficult to take pictures of my records when they are in boxes.  I'm going to try to post this week, but next week is the big move, so I may not have anything new up on the site that week.  We'll see.

Anyway, cutting through the chaos of my life right now we have Triple Junk from Japan.  This 7" is four songs of exciting, treble heavy power pop that I just can't get enough of.  Guitar chords ring out and couple with a tight rhythm section that drives each song forward.  The way the songs are structured reminds me a little bit of the first Gentleman Jesse album, but with a crunchier pop punk influence creeping in.  It's undeniably catchy and I really dig this a lot.

Digging around online, I think that Triple Junk has another 7" and a demo CDR.  If they are even half as good as the songs on this 7", these are records I need to find.  So if anyone out there happens to see them, please let me know.

Triple Junk - "Get Away":

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Jailhouse Rock 7" (Japan)

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Atlantic (1980)

This 7" ties pretty directly into the last Blues Brothers single I wrote about, primarily because it is the exact same single.  However, for the Japanese market they switched things up and made "Jailhouse Rock" the A side and "Theme From Rawhide" the B side.  To me, that actually makes a lot more sense and I'm surprised it wasn't the case for both versions.

The artwork on this Japanese version is a lot of fun.  The classic illustrated logo of the band is mixed in with jail cell bars over a bright yellow background.  They threw in a small picture of the photo from the soundtrack album cover just for good measure.  It's an interesting way of creating completely new and original artwork without using anything new.  Both images have been recycled from countless other releases, yet this 7" still stands out as truly unique.

This is actually the last of the Japanese Blues Brothers 7"s I have.  There's one more that I know of for "She Caught the Katy"/"Gimme Some Lovin'" that I haven't been able to track down yet, so if anyone ever sees that, please let me know.

The Blues Brothers - "Jailhouse Rock":

The Blues Brothers - "Theme From Rawhide":

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Unwelcome Guests - Anything You Want LP

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Dirt Cult (2017)

I couldn't tell you why it's taken me so long to write about this newest Unwelcome Guests album.  They're a band I've been listening to for a really long time and I have just about all of their records, but for whatever reason this album lingered in the to do pile for way too long.  I've been listening to it for a while and I can say conclusively that it's as good if not better than anything else they've ever released.  Which is to say it's quite good.

I've often tried to describe Unwelcome Guests by saying they seem to take the lead guitar dynamics of Dinosaur Jr. and mesh them into a rootsy, boozy Replacements style of songwriting.  It's never as chaotic or ear blistering as Dinosaur Jr., but it's certainly not straight up Replacements worship either as the energy of the lead guitar and punk rock song structure keep things lively and engaging.  

If I had to say any sort of generic descriptor, it would be that Unwelcome Guests are pitch perfect indie rock for today in the same way that Archers of Loaf were when they came out with Icky Mettle.  I don't think the records sound the same, but they both set themselves apart as standard bearers for the genre.  Needless to say, I dig this album quite a bit and I wish it hadn't taken me so long to write about it and say so.

Unwelcome Guests - Anything You Want: