Thursday, April 25, 2019

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

Untitled

With One Accord (2019)

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

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

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

Denomi - "Move On":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzLWt0pGE_c


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Frank's 2000" TV":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQJ4v8QkEAw

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Traffic Jam":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyGaqmvdvZY

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Harvey The Wonder Hamster":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2-LxoVR2dU

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Hum Hums - Battle Line 7"

Untitled

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

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

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

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

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

The Hum Hums - Battle Line 7":
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/battle-line

Monday, April 22, 2019

Good Shade - Way Out LP

Untitled

Dirtnap (2019)

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

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

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

Good Shade - Way Out:
https://dirtnaprecords.bandcamp.com/album/good-shade-way-out

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2018)

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Smells Like Nirvana":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FklUAoZ6KxY

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "I was Only Kidding":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAOJ7EAoF14

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Smells Like Nirvana":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DC-sb54mkU

Monday, April 15, 2019

Potty Mouth - SNAFU LP - Blue Vinyl



Get Better (2019)

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

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

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

Potty Mouth - SNAFU:
https://pottymouth.bandcamp.com/album/snafu

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Baby Blue / Triple Junk - Split 7"

Untitled

Self Released (2018)

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

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

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

Baby Blue / Triple Junk - Split 7":
https://babybluejapan.bandcamp.com/album/rocknroll-or-what

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Spam":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki2ut23MRGQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Attack Of The Radioactive Hamsters From A Planet Near Mars":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGJeUv5Jqpk

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBob4Iz0rhE


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Hateman - Neverland 7"

Untitled

H&M (2017)

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

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

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

Hateman - Neverland 7":
https://hateman.bandcamp.com/album/neverland-7

Monday, April 1, 2019

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

Untitled

Dirtnap (2019)

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

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

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

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

Steve Adamyk Band - Paradise:
https://dirtnaprecords.bandcamp.com/album/steve-adamyk-band-paradise

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Posies - Amazing Disgrace 2xLP

Untitled

Omnivore (2018, Reissue)

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

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

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

The Posies - "Daily Mutilation":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-Hc6JJGDa0

The Posies - "Throwaway":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgBLuEyu8e4

The Posies - "Everybody Is A Fucking Liar":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXpb_xX2n_0


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gocPZA0HLA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do5vXn_Rap4

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Good Old Days":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XYyphia1JM

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Custody / The Phoenix Foundation - Split 7"

Untitled

Little Rocket (2019)

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

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

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

Custody / The Phoenix Foundation - Split 7":
https://custody.bandcamp.com/album/custody-the-phoenix-foundation-split-single

Monday, March 25, 2019

Suspended Girls - Pop Punk Is Back CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2018)

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

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

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

Suspended Girls - Pop Punk Is Back:
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/pop-punk-is-back

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Basement Brats - Shining Down 7”

Untitled

Sneakers (1996)

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Living With A Hernia":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8Ow1nlafOg

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Addicted To Spuds":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abo6318zHew

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Polka Party!":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lA-V2yjw-U

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Something - Still Plaing... CD

Untitled

Dish and Plate (2017)

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

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

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

Something - "Something":
https://soundcloud.com/something-19/something

Monday, March 18, 2019

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

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

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

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

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

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

Low Forms - Gaze To Bow/The Watchful Eye:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/gaze-to-bow-the-watchful-eye

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Browntrout - Blues, Blues, Blues 7"

Untitled

Dirty Snuggies (2010)

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Yoda":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdu8I1gWqk4

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Dare To Be Stupid":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMhwddNQSWQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "One More Minute":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWhpk-8QLFQ

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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

Untitled

Merge (2019)

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

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

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

Bob Mould - Sunshine Rock:
https://bobmould.bandcamp.com/album/sunshine-rock

Monday, March 11, 2019

Bender! - Reputation Proof CD

Untitled

Self Released (2009)

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

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

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

Bender! - Reputation Proof:
https://benderteikoku.bandcamp.com/album/reputation-proof

Thursday, March 7, 2019

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

Untitled

Atlantic (1980)

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

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

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

Aretha Franklin - "Think":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELVZIlv5fbE

Ray Charles - "Shake Your Tailfeather":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ka-rGmXr7A

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

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

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

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

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

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

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Midnight Star":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A42ZYNno5oQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Theme from Rocky XIII":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iwedkOmTGc

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Polkas on 45":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS5Dc6u1j8o

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Mike Krol - Power Chords LP - Clear Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2019)

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

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

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

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

Mike Krol - Power Chords:
https://mikekrol.bandcamp.com/album/power-chords

Monday, March 4, 2019

V/A - Because We Can Cassette

Untitled

Motorcycle Potluck (2018)

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

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

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

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

V/A - Because We Can:
https://motorcyclepotluckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/because-we-can-4

Friday, March 1, 2019

Beck - 25 Years of Mellow Gold & Other 1994 Releases

Untitled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beck - "Nightmare Hippy Girl":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=908rhVHQfoY

Beck - "Pay No Mind":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHjjqYQpBQg

Beck - "Painted Eyelids"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyCj98DoRI4

Beck - "Steve Threw Up":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQEvq2WDh9Y

Beck - "Satan Gave Me a Taco":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RSTbT7BByM

Beck - "Totally Confused":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oWtgaD77ek

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Abolitionist - A New Militance 10" - Pink Vinyl (/250)

Untitled

1859 / Different Kitchen (2019)

Abolitionist are back with a new 10" release.  Even though their last full length only came out in May of last year, they's put together a mini-album (maxi-ep?) of eight new songs.  While this is a band that has always had a certain thematic slant to their albums, this 10" is a full blown concept piece with each song almost directly connected to the one before it.

The songs focus on an uprising of women that are frankly sick of the bullshit that's been brewing in the country.  The liner notes specifically point out that the songs were written in February of 2017, right after the 2016 presidential election.  Each of the eight songs is a short powerful blast that moves the story forward, ultimately showing the autocrats being overtaken.  It's a loud and angry record, but the topics covered sure are ones that should make people pretty angry.

From a strictly musical standpoint, there are songs on other Abolitionist albums that I like better.  They're a little catchier and not quite as bleak.  But when you look at this 10" as a complete work, you could argue this is the most powerful release the band has put out so far.

Abolitionist - A New Militance:
https://abolitionist.bandcamp.com/album/a-new-militance-mlp-2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

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

Untitled 

Pledge Music (2017)

Since I finished up the Otis Redding Box Set, I figured I would tackle the incredible Weird Al Squeeze Box Set.  Since this box contains a hell of a lot more records than the Otis one did, I'm going to try to go through albums weekly instead of every other week.  We'll try to get Weird Al Wednesday to be a thing over the next few months.  I'll start with his first self titled album and finish up with the exclusive rarities LP that comes with the set.

Weird Al's first, self titled album has just about always been my favorite of his.  I've read interviews with him where he states that there are songs on here that make him cringe and it's a little rough for him to listen to.  He's also said that it's kind of his punk rock album and as time went on he got better at his craft.  While I will not deny that Al has had incredible, incredible albums that came out after this and while I agree that the musicianship certainly improved over the years, there is an energy on this album that surpasses anything else he ever did in my opinion.

The thing that I love the most about this album is how ridiculously accordion heavy it is.  It's not something in the background or used for a polka medley, the accordion is front and center and is far and away the focal point of the record along with Al's lyrics.  Hearing Al bust out accordion fueled parodies of "I Love Rock N Roll" ("I Love Rocky Road"), "My Sharona" ("My Bologna") and "Another One Bites The Dust" ("Another One Rides The Bus") blew my goddamn mind as a kid trying to figure out what I wanted to listen to. Up until about 1988 or so, Weird Al and The Blues Brothers were just about the only bands that really connected with me. 

I also adore Al's originals on this album.  "Gotta Boogie" is kind of a one note pun joke, but the intro of the song and the way the instruments layer on top of each other is something I've always found inspiring.  "Happy Birthday" is a fast paced and lyrically dark song that always hit my funny bone in just the right way.  And "I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead" is perfect catharsis for a kid that was constantly restless in a remote part of NJ, who didn't quite mesh in with his classmates at the time.

I love this album.  I mean, I love pretty much all of Weird Al's albums, but this one will always be extra special to me.  It wasn't the first album of his that I heard, but it was the one that struck me as being the most brazen and exciting.  I still vividly remember that day I found the cassette in Caldor and how I thought I had found a secret that no one else knew about.  Just a phenomenal record that I found at exactly the right time.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "My Bologna":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ic3QnRj9Ev4

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Happy Birthday":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nm37gzDnk0

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "I'll Be Mellow When I'm Dead":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAOYUTdkM-w

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Drains - S/T Cassette

Untitled

Drug Party (2017)

I am almost through the pile of tapes I've had building up over here.  I'm sure now that I say that, I'll end up with another batch in the mail, but I feel accomplished that I'm nearly finished with the current backlog.

The Drains are a band that I'm not familiar with and from the songs on this tape, I don't think I'm likely to become more familiar with them anytime soon.  That's not to say it's awful or unlistenable, but it's not very interesting to me.  The Drains are playing the sort of tried and true scuzzy garage punk that countless Hozac inspired bands have been trafficking over the years.

They don't do it any worse or better than the other bands that sound like this that I don't particularly like.  It's just not poppy or catchy enough for me. I like my share of garage-y bands, they have to  have at least a bit of pop punk influence in order for me to pay attention.  The Drains don't have that and as a result, my interest wains after a few songs.

The Drains - S/T:
https://thedrains.bandcamp.com/album/the-drains

Monday, February 25, 2019

Frankie Stubbs - Heart Is Home 7"

Untitled

Sounds of Subterrania (2018)

Before I begin writing about this record specifically, I want to very quickly mention that I found out this weekend about the passing of Marc Maitland (Mates to some).  Known to me as the drummer of fantastic bands like Blocko and The No Marks.  I only knew Marc a little bit and had only ever interacted with him on the internet, but he was such a nice, genuine guy who was always so excited that someone liked his bands.  The world will miss him terribly and I hope he knew that the records he made had a big affect on some guy all the way out in New Jersey.

Mentioning this at the beginning of a Frankie Stubbs review seams appropriate.  Snuff, Chopper, Broccoli and Leatherface were my gateways into the mid 90s UK punk scene, arguably my favorite time in the history of the earth for music.  Those bands lead me to Blocko and that lead me to Marc.  Frankie Stubbs is one of the grandfathers of that scene.  Though my path to Leatherface was different than most (Snuff to Chopper to Broccoli to Leatherface), I still ended up very quickly realizing what an incredibly important and influential band they were.  They still rank in my top three bands of all time and there's not a single Frankie Stubbs related record that I don't love with all of my heart.

The 7" contains a different version of "Heart Is Home" than is found on the severely underrated Leatherface album Dog Disco.  The version on this 7" is Frankie's voice accompanied only by piano and violin.  It makes an already beautiful song that much more impactful.  I really love this version of the song and am happy to add it to the other solo Frankie Stubbs releases I've acquired over the years.  I wish he put out records more frequently, but I will take what I can get.

This 7" also has a gimmick called Vinyl Video.  Supposedly if you purchase a converter, you can play one side of this record and a video to the song is encoded into the grooves.  It's a pretty neat concept, though I personally can't fathom buying the converter necessary to view this.  It makes the record more expensive than your typical 7" and makes it so it's essentially one sided, but to be fair, the artwork is quite incredible.  Regardless of the cost, there is no way that there would ever be a Frankie Stubbs record not in my collection.  I couldn't have it any other way.

Frankie Stubbs - "Heart Is Home":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95hYuhGY1fY

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Otis Redding - The Dock Of The Bay LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)

Untitled
Atlantic (2017, Reissue)

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

The Dock Of The Bay is the last record in this tremendous box set, although there are several other posthumous Otis Redding albums that contain songs that weren't released on the LPs in this set.  I wish that the box could have been all encompassing, but it's hard to knock the set too much considering how great the material is that was collected.

"(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" may be the most famous of all Otis Redding songs and for good reason.  It's a perfect song with a ridiculously singable melody.  It's a slower one, but it's far from downtrodden as it has a wonderful uplifting feel to it.  The rest of the album is a mix of songs that haven't been released before alongside a few that have.  I'm not sure why it was set up the way it was for its original release as there were so many other unreleased Otis songs recorded, but it's a great collection nonetheless.  I have to remember what was going on when the record first came out and not try to view it as part of this box set.

Going through all of the albums in this set was such a joy.  So many great records and so many great songs.  I have to try to dig up nice copies of the rest of the Otis full lengths that came out after his untimely death.  They haven't been treated to nice reissues yet, but hopefully the will one day.  Or hopefully I'll be able to find copies that aren't too beat up on eBay or Discogs.

Otis Redding - The Dock Of The Bay":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zu5chXCp1Ag

Otis Redding - "Don't Mess With Cupid":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0VF2BxLAgE

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Invisible Teardrops / Tony’s Bite - Split 7”

Untitled

Snuffy Smile (2018)

Every time I stumble across a new Snuffy Smile release, I’m both relieved and excited that the label is still chugging along after all these years.  They are responsible for so many records that I love and I would be really bummed out if they ever stopped completely.  That said, I can’t say that this is my favorite release that they’ve put out.

On one side of the record we have three songs from The Invisible Teardrops.  They’ve put out a few releases on Snuffy Smile at this point, but they just haven’t managed to capture my attention the way other bands have.  The first of their three songs, “Someone Wrote You a Letter,” is pretty bad.  It’s a slow, organ heavy song that just kind of sits there and never goes anywhere.  Luckily, the next one, “Run, Run, Run Away” picks up the pace quite a bit.  It’s catchy and energetic and while I still don’t love it, it’s a decent enough song.  They close out with a song called “Cool Out” which was either recorded live or is a super lo-fi recording.  It’s better than the first song on this 7”, but not as good as the second.  It’s OK, but nothing special.

On the flip side we have Tony’s Bite.  They also contribute three songs to the split.  Their first one “Black City” is pretty heavy on the garage scale with a slick riff in the verse and and some lead guitar shenanigans in the break.  “Brains Out” is more of the same with a dark repetitive guitar riff that reminds me a little bit of Gas Huffer for some reason.   Last up is “Nard Play” which like the other two is also kind of dark and built off of a finger lifting guitar riff.  Honestly I can’t say any of these songs really jumped out as anything that I could see myself listening to very often.  I will always support Snuffy Smile, but I personally prefer when they release pop punk records as opposed to garage-y stuff like this.



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Eyes & Ears - Burn It To The Ground Cassette

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

Burn It Down To The Ground is a cassette that compiles the entire recorded output of Denver based band Eyes & Ears.  While they were the first band that Snappy Little Numbers released a record by, I have to admit that I'm not particularly familiar with them.  A quick trip over to Discogs reveals that they have a few singles and a split LP to their credit and from what I gather all of those songs are present on this tape.  On top of that there are ten additional songs that are being released for the first time.

Each of the twenty-one songs on this cassette has scuzzy garage rock vibe to them, but most of them are catchy enough to keep me interested.  There are a few that I don't dig quite as much like "Explorer" that are a bit screamy, but when the band is working a hook like they do in "Howl at the Moon" it's hard not to nod your head along.

All in all, it's a totally fine cassette.  I wouldn't say it'll change your life or anything like that, but for six bucks, you could certainly do worse than Eyes & Ears.

Eyes & Ears - Burn It To The Ground:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/burn-it-down-to-the-ground-the-complete-recordings-2

Monday, February 18, 2019

Three Minute Movie - End of the Summer 7”

Untitled

Fine Tuning (2013)

Three Minute Movie is a band that I’ve been listening to for such a long time.  I vividly remember getting their split 7” with Braid and the 3” tour CD comp they had out on Snuffy Smile at the same time.  I was so completely blown away by how great those songs were.  Over the years, Three Minute Movie put out quite a few albums and singles.  They even broke the Snuffy Smiles 2 album curse when they went ahead and released a third full length album on that label.  This is the stuff of legend for someone like me.  I’m still waiting for the third Urchin album...

This 7” is one of two that I picked up while record shopping in Tokyo.  I wasn’t aware that Three Minute Movie had anything out at the time and was excited to find them.  In fact, these were sort of precursors to another full length album that I haven’t picked up yet.  It looks like I am somehow missing two entire Three Minute Movie albums in my collection.  I always feel like I’m playing catch up with Japanese punk rock.  It’s difficult to stay on top of everything that comes out.

All three songs on this 7” are classic Three Minute Movie.  They reinforce why I’ve been listening to them for so long.  My favorite of the bunch is “All Starts On Wednesday Night.”  It’s a short fast paced rocker with a bouncy verse and singalong chorus with killer backing vocals.  The other two songs are equally catchy and fun.  I really love this band and I need to figure out how to get the other records they’ve put out that I’m missed.  I sure wish it could be as easy as just going to a local record store.  Sadly, I’m record shopping in New Jersey, not Tokyo.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

False Cathedrals - No Map Cassette

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

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

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

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

False Cathedrals - No Map:
https://falsecathedrals.bandcamp.com/album/no-map

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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

Untitled

Debt Offensive (2018)

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

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

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

Seagulls - Dear John Letter 7":
https://debtoffensiverecords.bandcamp.com/album/dear-john-letter-b-w-foot-meet-mouth

Monday, February 11, 2019

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

Untitled

Omnivore (2018)

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

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

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

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

The Posies - "Solar Sister":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMhK2enxy4g

The Posies - "20 Questions":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j52dXm_Is8c