Thursday, July 18, 2019

Crocodile God - Thirteen LP - Orange Vinyl

Untitled

Brassneck / Crackle (2019)

It's pretty darn exciting that there's a new Crocodile God album.  Even more exciting is the fact that it's the early Crocodile lineup from their run of classic 7" singles on Crackle Records from the 90s.  Another neat thing is to see that Crackle Records logo again, proudly next to the logo of the mighty Brassneck records.  Everything about this album is a reminder of probably my favorite time in music from my favorite scene in the world.

I've been listening to Crocodile God for close to twenty five years at this point.  They, along with Broccoli, Chopper, Hooton 3 Car, Reverse and Skimmer, were part of a crew of mid 90s bands from the UK that managed to release some of my favorite records of all time.  To this day, I'll hold up the Crocodile God song "Ladders" next to anything released that decade.  It's a perfect song. 

Thirteen sees the band in top form once again, cranking out song ofter song of their trademark buzzsaw guitar pop gems.  The vocals of Mark "Guitar" Murphy are probably less gravely than Broccoli on the gravely vocals scale, but still have that sort of gruff, but melodic tone that is part of so many of my favorite bands. I am also steadfast in my quest to make people call him Mark "Guitar" Murphy.  That should be mandatory when talking about the band.

There's a good mix of songs from Croc on this record.  Some blast by at a million miles an hour with super fast drumming, while others have a more subdued pace.  It's in these slightly slower songs where I think the songwriting of Crocodile God really shines. "Drunk" in particular is my favorite song on the entire record.  Even songs with drumming a little more gallop-y than I typically prefer always seem to have a killer breakdown in the chorus.  It's a such a fun listen and reminds me so much of being on vacation in England in 1997 digging around record stores hopping to find that next gem.

Crocodile God - Thirteen:
https://brassneckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/thirteen

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Gauche / Joyero - Split 7"

Untitled

Merge (2019)

This split 7" came along with the acoustic Superchunk album AF as part of the Merge 30th subscription series.  Born Under A Good Sign has been pretty scattershot for me personally.  While I realize I haven't subscribed to a series of Superchunk records, I do wish I liked more of the bands that have had records be part of this subscription.

Gauche is kind of middle of the road, jangly guitar rock.  It's mid tempo and mid good.  I don't really like the vocals much at all, though they are the only thing that really stands out when you listen to the song.  Unfortunately, they don't stand out in a good way.

Joyero is even less up my alley.  "Evacuate" is built off of synth sounding 80s electronic drum beats and strained, reverb drenched vocals.  I don't listen to New Order, but they are who I thought of when this song was playing.  Except this Joyero is even slower and more forgettable.  Hey, at least there was a Superchunk record in this package.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The CSS - What A Coincidence! CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2018)

The CSS is another in a long line of great bands putting out releases on Waterslide records.  There are several albums on Waterslide that use the same sort of artwork layout as the old Mutant Pop 7"s, but almost every one of the bands on Waterslide are better than most of those old Mutant Pop records. (Well, except for Underhand maybe, those are some of my favorite 7"s ever).

The CSS most remind me of The Hum Hums.  Both band have a bubblegum pop lean to them and both have outstanding backing vocals and harmonies.  Where CSS differs for me a bit is that I feel like they have more guitar chord progressions that remind me of older Lookout bands like Squirtgun.  But The CSS are so much better than Squirtgun ever was.

The golden era of pop punk in America was definitely in the 90s, but Japan continues to carry the torch today.  The CSS are just the latest band that I've heard playing the sort of music that I've always loved.  It's wonderful.

The CSS - What A Coincidence!
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/what-a-coincidence

Monday, July 15, 2019

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band / State Drugs - Split Cassette

Untitled

Motorcycle Potluck (2019)

Minus three points for being on cassette.  OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way, lets talk about this split cassette release from Motorcycle Potluck.  It has five songs and two bands.  One band I'm familiar with and the other I haven't heard before.

Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond Band are the band I've heard of before.  I have a split 7" of theirs with Your Pest Band and I'm super familiar with one of Nato's older bands, Modern Machines.  I really liked the Modern Machines and I was reasonably into Nato's next band, Used Kids.  There hasn't been anything that he's released as Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band that has really struck a nerve with me.  It's just a little too rootsy and Springsteen-ish for my personal taste.  It's certainly not bad, but it kind of feels like old people music to me.  Yes, I know I'm old, but there's that 80s rock sound that Bruce champions and I'm not really a fan of it.

State Drugs are more my speed.  Even though you can still hear something of an Americana influence (Tom Petty is the reference that comes to mind), they're playing it faster and more dynamic.  None of the three State Drugs songs sound like they are trapped in the past.  The inspiration is there, but the band is using it as a jumping off point to create their own sounds.  These songs are pretty decent and I would check out more from them in the future.

Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band / State Drugs - Split Cassette:
https://motorcyclepotluckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/nato-coles-and-the-blue-diamond-band-state-drugs-split


Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Pretty Flowers - Golden Beat Sessions CD

Untitled

Self Released (2019)

In case you haven't been paying attention, The Pretty Flowers released not only one of the best records of 2018, but one of the best records of the last five years when they put out Why Trains Crash.  If you don't already have that album, stop what you are doing and go buy it immediately.  Once you are back we can discuss their newest release, an eight song CD of covers they've released themselves.

The Golden Beat Sessions has The Pretty Flowers and their take on songs by groups as diverse as The Wipers, Teenage Fanclub, Thin Lizzy and Warren Zevon.  While the source material is pretty diverse, once they are run through the Pretty Flowers filter, they come out the other side feeling like a complete, congruous album.  In fact, you could probably stick just about any one of these songs into the middle of Why Trains Crash and I don't think I'd bat an eyelash at it.  Rather than serve up carbon copies of the originals, Pretty Flowers make these songs their own.

While I'm not a huge fan of EPs at the best of times, when you are doing a project like this of all cover songs, I'm going to have a different opinion than if you served up an EP of original songs.  Now, while I think that something like this is just begging to be released as a 10", I take solace in the fact that there's at least a CD version and I didn't have to buy a cassette.

The Pretty Flowers -  Golden Beat Sessions:
https://theprettyflowers.bandcamp.com/album/golden-beat-sessions

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sista Brytet - Hjärtat i Handen LP

Untitled

Luftslott (2018)

I bought this Sista Brytet LP (and a 7" I wrote about a few weeks ago) because of a review I read in Razorcake.  Razorcake still is my go to source for trying to find new bands that are interesting to me.  I have a type to be sure, and Sista Brytet fits those parameters quite nicely.

All of the songs on this LP bristle with the sort of dynamic energy that makes me think of The Marked Men, but if they were crossed with the Randy album Welfare Problems.  There are singalong choruses and downstroke heavy guitar riffs played by a band that feels like they have a chip on their shoulder and are out to prove just how damn good they really are.

The songs on this LP are primarily sung in Swedish, so I can't really comment on their lyrical prowess.  Ultimately, I don't really care too much about what they're saying when I slap this on the record player.   I'm only concerned with incredible punk rock blasting out of my speakers.

Sista Brytet -  Hjärtat i Handen:
https://sistabrytet.bandcamp.com/album/hj-rtat-i-handen

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Black Dots - Everything Has Gotta Change 12" - Orange Vinyl (/285)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

What's the deal with single sided 12" vinyl?  I don't get it.  Why doesn't everyone wait for a few more songs and put out a full length?  This is likely one of my weird opinions that I'm projecting out into the world.  I like LPs and I like 7"s singles, but the five to eight song EP is something I find kind of frustrating for whatever reason.  It didn't bother me so much when I was younger, making mix tapes to listen to in my station wagon, but these days it's one of those things that irks me for whatever reason.

I really like these Black Dots songs.  I think the fact that they are so good is one of the things that heightens my annoyance of the fact that there's only eight songs on this 12".  Black Dots are playing that gruff, working class punk rock that I always seem to like.  You can hear a little bit of Eternal Cowboy era Against Me along with the lower key moments of Dear Landlord, but I also find Black Dots to be more melodic than either of those bands.  They've got the hooks and a good amount of grit that keeps the songs relatable.  The fact that they have song names that reference Spaceballs and Three Amigos only makes them more lovable.

Everything Has Gotta Change is a fun listen, if only I could flip the record over and hear more.

Black Dots -  Everything Has Gotta Change:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/everything-has-gotta-change

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sprocket Wheel - 1992 - 1997 Best of Shits 2xCD

Untitled

Sweft (2000)

I wrote about a Sprocket Wheel 7" a few weeks ago and mentioned that I had found another interesting release at the same time.  This double CD is the release I was talking about and it's one that I found in a 7" bin while record shopping in Tokyo during my trip a few years ago.  I didn't really know what it was at the time that I bought it (I was buying a lot of records and in some ways not paying total attention to what I was buying), I just knew it was a Sprocket Wheel release I didn't have.

When I got back to the hotel to review my bounty, I realized this was a double CD full of Sprocket Wheel songs and from what I can tell now, it appears to be a complete collection of their entire discography.  It has all of the songs from both of their full lengths.  It has songs from their split 7"s with Goober Patrol and Less Than Jake along with the 7" I wrote about a few weeks ago.  It also contains every compilation song that I am able to find as well as a few demos.  What I'm getting at is that it's very complete.

I have a lot of these songs already, but I'll admit that it is nice to have everything compiled in one place, particularly all of those compilation songs.  Now if I want to sit down and listen to all of the wonderfully fast and melodic punk blasts that these guys released in the 90s, I don't have to tear apart my entire CD rack to accomplish that.  This Sprocket Wheel compilation is similar to a Lovemen compilation that I have..  Now if someone would put one out for Blew, I'll have the trifecta of the three biggest Japanese bands that I listened to when I first started buying records from Japan.

Sprocket Wheel - Five songs from 1992 - 1997 Best of Shits:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVg4QAXTrVw

Monday, July 1, 2019

Summer Vacation


Taking a week off from reviews since it's a short work week as well.  I'll be back on Monday 7/08.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Foxhall Stacks - A Copy of a Copy of a Copy of a Copy Cassette (/200)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

This past weekend my wife and I went to go see Jawbox play in Philadelphia.  If you were reading this website about five years ago, you may remember that I started picking up Jawbox records at that time.  They weren't a band that I listened to in the 90s, for whatever reason I just missed out on them.  They may have been a little too complex for my tastes at the time, but luckily my wife was a big fan going way back, so she helped bring me up to speed.  It was a great show, but the reason I bring it up is that I bought this Foxhalls Stacks tape at the show.

Foxhall Stacks is fronted by Bill Barbot of Jawbox and this tape is the first release by his most recent band.  The tape is limited to two hundred copies and there is a blue paper obi strip unique to each stop of the tour.  Mine is from the Philadelphia show.  Snappy Little Numbers will be selling any leftovers on their site, so if you're not able to see Jawbox on this tour, keep your eyes peeled on their site and you might get lucky.  I couldn't take the risk of not picking one up, though I also need to thank my friend Scott for reminding me that these were for sale the day of the show.

The tape itself is outstanding.  So great that I am kind of annoyed that it's a tape and not a 7". The songs have a similar feel to Jawbox in that the guitars are really strong and crunchy with lots of low end. But the songwriting structure is more straightforward with really catchy hooks and stellar backing vocals.  I've said that Jawbox doesn't get enough credit for how deceptively catchy so many of their songs are, but there's nothing deceptive about Foxhall Stacks.  These songs are flat out hits and I cannot wait for the full length that Snappy Little Numbers mentions on their website. 

Foxhall Stacks - A Copy of a Copy of a Copy of a Copy Cassette
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Modern Gooddays - Wait & See 7"

Untitled

Eager Beaver (2013)

I went about things somewhat backwards.  While this 7" came out many years before the Modern Gooddays CD that I wrote about a few months ago, it's just now that I'm adding it to my collection.  Sitting here now, I'm trying to figure out if I have the Headsparks/Modern Gooddays split CD.  The artwork on Discogs looks so familiar and I like Headsparks too, so I feel like I should have it.  That said, I can't find it on my CD rack or in my pile of records I haven't reviewed yet.  Maybe I don't have it.  I should probably correct that.

Back to the 7" at hand.  This release from Modern Gooddays has four songs on it, one of which "Wait & See," also appears on their CD on Fixing A Hole Records.  All four songs are gruff punk rock that sounds like a mash of Snuff, Dillinger Four and Off With Their Heads.  I've mentioned before that the singer from Modern Gooddays sounds a whole lot like Paddy from D4 and that comparison is apt on this record as well.

I like the songs on this EP just as much as the ones on the Modern Gooddays CD.  It's strong and forceful, but melodic and catchy at the same time.  Especially worth picking up if you're a fan of the Paddy songs from Dillinger Four but you don't feel like waiting another thirteen years for a new D4 record.

Modern Gooddays - Wait & See 7":
https://eagerbeaverrecords.bandcamp.com/album/s-t

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Big Bliss - At Middle Distance LP

Untitled

Exit Stencil (2018)

When I ordered the new Herzog LP, somehow my order got lost at Exit Stencil headquarters.  After a few weeks of wondering where it was, I reached out to the label.  They apologized and immediately sent my record over.  Great customer service, honestly.  They also sent me an extra album, this LP by Big Bliss.  They aren't a band I've ever heard of before and since I didn't seek this out on my own, I wasn't sure what I was in store for.

Turns out, Big Bliss have a shoegazer sort of post punk vibe going on.  Jangly guitars with a tinge of reverb, mixed in with a steady rhythm section that keeps things in check while the guitars do some exploring in the breaks.  They remind me a little bit of The Estranged, but with much less of a Wipers influence.

If there's one thing that keeps me from really sinking my teeth into this record, it's the vocals.  They're a little to echo-y and spacey for my taste.  I'm looking for something a little more direct and forceful.  Big Bliss' vocals sound detached, almost like they are existing on a different plane from the rest of the band.  Or maybe the vocals are in a different decade like the 80s.  I'm just not able to get into it all that much.

Big Bliss - At Middle Distance LP:
https://bigblissesr.bandcamp.com/album/at-middle-distance

Monday, June 24, 2019

Steve Adamyk Band - Kinda Ill 7" - Splatter (/100), Mixed (/100) & Black (/100) Vinyl

Untitled

Rad Girlfriend (2019)

At this point I feel like I don't even have to write anything about Steve Adamyk Band records anymore.  If you can't figure out that I love these guys based on the prior dozen or so times I've written about them dating back to before this website even existed and I was taking pictures of their records on my Flickr account, I don't know what to tell you.  To summarize: This is a great band and all of their records are great.  This 7" of four new songs (and a version of "Take It To The Top" that's a bit faster than the one on the Paradise LP) is great and you should buy it.

The record comes on three different colors of vinyl, each limited to one hundred copies.  The black vinyl and splatter are self explanatory, but there is also a third version that's random colored.  Mine came out green.  I'm not sure what else is floating around out there, but it you have one that's another color, let me know as I'm curious.

Also of note is that Rad Girlfriend has a sale going on right this very second where everything in their shop is half price.  This Steve Adamyk band 7" is only $2.50.  I don't see any reason not to buy it, do you?

Steve Adamyk Band - Kinda Ill 7"
https://radgirlfriendrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ep

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Superchunk - AF LP - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2019)

When Merge announced their Born Under A Good Sign 30th year subscription thingy, I new I had to subscribe to it.  Even though money wasn't as disposable as I would have liked it to be when the subscription went on sale, I knew that if I didn't join and a Superchunk record came out as a part of it, I'd be hugely pissed off.  Luckily I scraped together enough money and I was rewarded with an entire Superchunk LP that's only available as part of the series.

AF stands for Acoustic Foolish and it's a track by track rerecording of Foolish done acoustically.  It's not just the exact same songs played with different guitars.  In many instances the songs reworked from the ground up with new tempos, arrangements and instrumentation. Looking for some strings and horns?  AF has you covered.  Highlights for me are the complete deconstruction of "Water Wings" and the folked up version of my favorite song from the original version of the album "Driveway to Driveway."

I will say, if I was hearing these songs for the first time on this album, I can't imagine I would like them as much as I do being already familiar with their punky origins.  Already having these songs etched in my head helps me appreciate what Superchunk is attempting with this release.  Songs that I love arranged in a way that a listener with a mellower palate might take a crack at.

Superchunk - AF:
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/album/acoustic-foolish

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Potty Mouth - I Wanna 7"

Untitled

Get Better (2019)

To start, I have to say that I don't know for sure that this 7" was released on Get Better records.  There's no label affiliation anywhere on the artwork, but if you look on Discogs, they list this 7" as having come with certain versions of the album SNAFU.  That's not how I got mine, I ordered my copy separately from the band after falling in love with the full length.

I don't like these two songs as much as I like the ones that are on SNAFU.  Those ones struck me as being a little catchier and the guitar seemed more clear and pronounced.  Things are a more raw on this 7" and the guitar sounds a bit muddier to me.  "I Wanna" is the song I like best of the two.  It has a pulsing chorus repeating the phrase "I Wanna" in a way that reminds me of the Pixies.  The song never really finds the gigantic hook that Potty Mouth taps into on so many songs from SNAFU, but "I Wanna" is still pretty solid.

I don't like "The Easy Way" quite as much.  It's slower and more deliberate.  While the tone of the song makes sense when you really listen to the lyrics, I tend to prefer the Potty Mouth songs that are a little crunchier and wrap you up in their huge guitar riffs.  It's not a bad song, I just don't like it as much as some of the others. But, if you really want this, I'd recommend grabbing it sooner than later, their Big Cartel page says it's limited to 50 copies.

Potty Mouth - "I Wanna":
https://pottymouth.bandcamp.com/track/i-wanna

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Yoi / Angry Nerd - Split CD

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2018)

This CD brings together Yoi from UK and Angry Nerd from Japan.  The split release with Japanese and UK punk bands were such a staple of my record buying habits in the 90s.  I discovered so many great bands that way, particularly via Snuffy Smile and the 7"s they released.  I love to see that it can still be something that happens all these years later.

There are guys in Yoi that were in the band Chopper.  That's almost all I need to see to be anxious to get this thing in the CD player and hit play.  Yoi has a mellower vibe than the buzzaw guitar blast of Chopper, but Yoi can craft a hook as strong as anything in the back catalogs of their various members.  "The Ghost Of Bobby McGee" is my favorite of the bunch with a faster paced progression of guitar chords and a hooky vocal melody.

Angry Nerd contribute four songs that sounds like a mixing of the sort of Japanese pop punk that I love, with a gruffer almost Off With Their Heads style of melodic tendency.  All four songs are strong, with my favorite being "Inside of My Fist," which I find to be the poppiest of the group.  While I wouldn't say that Angry Nerd is in the upper echelon of my favorite bands from Japan, they have songs that deserve a listen.  Unfortunately, I can't find anywhere to stream anything from this split.

Yoi - "The Ghost of Bobby McGee":
https://soundcloud.com/yyyoiiii/the-ghost-of-bobby-mcgee

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mutant Love / The Yellnats - Split Cassette

Untitled

Motorcycle Potluck (2019)

I'm not familiar with either of the bands on this tape (aside from an acoustic song from Mutant Love that's on a comp), but I've liked pretty much everything that Motorcycle Potluck has sent my way so far.  While the band names had me concerned that this might be more along the lines of high school neanderthal punk, I'm happy to report that Mototrcycle Potluck's streak is in tact and both bands are worth checking out.

Mutant Love falls on the gruffer side of the pop punk spectrum.  To me, they kind of sound like a mix of some No Idea bands like Dear Landlord or Shallow Cuts, crossed with the hooks and melodic tendencies of a band like Rumspringer.  All three of their songs are fast, energetic and pretty top notch.

The Yellnats don't have that same No Idea vibe in the two songs they contribute to this split, but they've carved out another section of the pop punk world to inhabit.  Both of their songs, but in particular "Small Town," have a vibe to them that I find similar to American Steel.  There's a storyteller feeling that they've got going here and combining that with their guitar racket yields a pair of strong songs.  They do make some interesting choices regarding breakdowns and tempo changes for their outros that I can't say I'm completely on board with, but there's good stuff here.

Mutant Love / The Yellnats - Split:
https://motorcyclepotluckrecords.bandcamp.com/album/mutant-love-the-yellnats-split

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Listen Up 7”

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2018)

“Listen Up” is the second in a pair of Ron Ron Clou 7”s that were released last year and it’s every bit as good, if not better, than the “Emptiness” 7”.

Ron Ron Clou specializes in the sort of jangly Rickenbacker pop music that would fit right into the collection of anyone that has a few Odd Numbers records kicking around.  The A side “Listen Up” is simply wonderful.  It’s fast and catchy and rivals anything that the band put out on their first full length album, which has always been my favorite of theirs.

The B side is “Sending To Your Heart” which is a cover song of a band called Flipper’s Guitars who I’m not familiar with.  This Ron Ron Clou version is excellent.  Lots of vocals harmonies and punchy guitar work.  I searched out the original so I could listen to it for comparison sake and while it is also pretty good, I like this Ron Ron Clou version better.  I might need to look into this Flipper’s Guitar band a little more if their other songs are as fun as this one.

Ron Ron Clou - "Listen Up":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxs3k_5vSVM

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the past few months I've gone through Weird Al's entire catalog of full length albums that were part of his Squeeze Box set.  We've made it to the last LP, which is exclusive to this set, Medium Rarities.  This is a compilation of various unreleased or under-released songs from Al's catalog over the past thirty years or so.  There's some real gems in here for sure.

The songs are arranged in a rough chronological order and unsurprisingly, my favorites tend to be towards the beginning of the record.  There are super early versions of "My Bologna" and "Yoda" that are not as polished as the final versions, but these are slower renditions that are primarily fueled by the accordion.  "Pac Man" is a previously unreleased parody of "Tax Man" and is as strong as anything on Weird Al's debut, my person favorite record of his.

From there we go into some oddities such as an instrumental version of "Dare To Be Stupid" and a version of "Jurassic Park" that's sung in Japanese.  There's a bunch of songs from TV shows that Al contributed to like The Simpsons, 30 Rock and Comedy Bang Bang, though these tend to be pretty short, likely due to the confines of TV. The album closes with an updated version of "Happy Birthday" that's a little bit slower than the original and not as energetic.  It's also seriously lacking accordion.

I really do love this record, but I think I would love it even more if it focused more heavily on Al's early, more formative years.  I'm sure those songs aren't Al's favorites to listen to all of this time later, but they are the ones that I find most intriguing.  After all of this time, the world really needs an officially released version of "It's Still Billy Joel To Me."

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Yoda (Demo)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1OkLbFx9Wk

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pac Man":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlU60vGRVHc

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Midway Still / Filthy Hate - Split 7” (Tour Sleeve) - Blue Vinyl

Untitled 

Break The Connection (2012)

This split 7” is another record I got on my trip to Japan that I hadn’t gotten around to writing about yet.  In case it isn’t obvious yet, I bought a lot of records on that trip. This particular version is a tour version with an additional sleeve, given to me by a very wonderful man who came out to the PopKid/Waterslide show at What’s Up in Tokyo.

Midway Still is a band that I’ve known and loved for many years.  They were part of that initial blast of UK melodic punk rockers that I got into which included Snuff, Broccoli & Leatherface. On this 7” they have an original and a cover of a Filthy Hate song.  “I Don’t Wanna Feel Anymore” Is a wonderful mid tempo rocker that could easily have been culled from Dial Square or any of the other amazing records that Midway Still put out early in their run.  “Various Cultures - Brutal Edit” is a Filthy Hate song and while I can’t say I’m familiar with the original, the Midway Still version is outstanding.  It’s just a joyous pop song, though with lyrics that are a bit darker.  Still it works incredibly well and exceeded my expectations.

Filthy Hate isn’t a band I had heard of before, but the band name made me assume it was a loud, yelly hardcore band.  Guess what, I was right.  Million mile an hour guitar, drums that sound like someone tossed the drum kit down a flight of stairs and people yelling lyrics that are angry and unintelligible.  I’m sure some folks would like this, but it’s certainly  not the sort of thing I typically listen to.  But the 2 Midway Still songs are phenomenal.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Three Minute Movie - Faraway 7”

Untitled

Fine Tuning (2013)

This the second of three 7”s by Three Minute Movie that I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years.  I hadn't gotten to this one yet as I've developed a real backlog of records to write about.  In some ways it's a good thing as I haven’t really had the ability to buy too many new records this year.  My record buying budget keeps going to Japan.

I’ve been listening to Three Minute Movie for twenty years now and even though I haven’t kept as current with their more recent releases as I would like, I’m doing my best to go back and fill the gaps. This three song 7” is something of a companion record to the End Of Summer 7” I wrote about a few weeks ago.  As much as I loved that 7", this one is even stronger,

Opening track “Faraway” is an upbeat and crunchy guitar blast that hits me perfectly.  In some ways it's a perfect encapsulation of what I’m looking for in punk rock.  Yet somehow when we flip over to the B side and hit “Beat Kids On The Street” Three Minute Movie have upped their game even more. This is an incredible song and my favorite I’ve heard from the band since their first split 7” with Braid.  The 7” closes out with “My Beer Strikes Marshall.”  This one has a bit more of a noisy, garage-y feel to it, but still has a wonderfully hooky chorus.  Three Minute movie have another essential 7”on their hands.  I love it.

Three Minute Movie - "Faraway" (This is a live version, not the 7" version):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWipV1aqq7E

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun 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.

We are nearing the end of the line here as this is Al's last studio full length.  There is still the rarities compilation that came with this box set that I will write about next week, but as far as full lengths goes, Mandatory Fun is the last stop.  This is actually a record I wrote about on this website when it came out in 2014.  It seems unfathomable that this record came out nearly 4 years ago, but the cruel march of time continues.

My thoughts haven't changed too much since that initial review.  I still think "Word Crimes" is a lot of fun, despite only knowing the original from it being played in Sears. The Al originals are the best of the bunch with "My Own Eyes," "First World Problems" and "Jackson Park Express" being the obvious highlights.  I also still don't know most of the songs from the polka medley.  Still, it's one of Weird Al's stronger modern records and I do enjoy it.

I'm not sure if there will ever be another Weird Al full length.  Mandatory Fun was the last on his prior record contract and he did a bunch of interviews saying the album format is hard for him and being able to release one off singles would keep him more timely.  However, he hasn't done much in the way of those one off releases over the past five years, so I guess we'll have to see.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "My Own Eyes":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PMvU6knXKQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Jackson Park Express":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZvgT4pVC_w

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Spit-take - Falling Star LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Dead Broke (2019)

I have Spit-take's last album Frog Rock.  But what sold my on picking up this new album was a description that included Pavement, Superchunk and That Dog.  You line up three favorites of mine like that and I'm probably going to take notice that you've put out a new album.  While I'm not sure I completely agree with those comparisons, Falling Star is a solid indie rock record.

When I first put this on, I was a little concerned as I think the opening track, "Our Room," is probably the weakest on the album.  The vocal melody is a little out there with bizarre inflections as the song plods forward.  Luckily once we hit the second song "How," things pick up for the most part.  Spit-take is a band that excels when they are playing upbeat songs and keep things closer to the Superchunk descriptor in their bio.  Songs like "How," "At Night" and "Five or Six" are the standouts for me.  At times I'm reminded of bands like The Young Leaves particularly when a guitar solo breaks out.

The slower songs don't really work for me and it usually is because of the vocals.  They often feel like they are being forced out with more energy that the song itself has, leaving the song a bit disjointed.  I wouldn't say anything on the record is bad, but there are skippable moments.  Still, when Spit-take is hitting on all cylinders they are able to churn out some enjoyable indie rock.  Worth a listen if that's your bag.

Spit-take - Falling Star:
https://spit-take.bandcamp.com/album/falling-star

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades - Parallax 10"

Untitled

Debauch Mood (2018)

10"s are starting to become a rarified commodity these days, I think.  You see so few of them, though I think that's mostly due to the fact that it essentially costs the same amount of money to press as a full LP.  I'm not a huge fan of EPs in general, but if you are going to release one, the 10" vinyl is my favorite format.  Debauch Mood takes it up an additional step and included a CD of all of the songs as well.  The best of both worlds.

Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades are from Japan and play a dynamic power pop that leans on the punk side of the spectrum.  I think they have qualities similar to bands like Not Wonk or Hateman, but there's also a strain of that old school Snuffy Smile pop punk weaving its way through the songs.  Blew is the band that I see the most similarity to, but it's not overt.  Just a little bit punky to keep things energetic and exciting.

Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades are a band that I am just getting into, but they have a lot of records that have been released over the past few years.  Theres several singles and two full length albums that I don't have yet.  I'm going to need to rectify that.

The Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades - "One More Minute":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO65TZlPmRY

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Outcasts - Tell Me The Whole Story 2xLP

Untitled

Secret Mission (2019)

I was born in December of 1976, so the while the whole '77 punk thing wasn't technically before my time, from a practical standpoint it absolutely was.  I would have to go back and study up in order to be up to speed on such a historically significant time in music.  Though honestly, that's not something I've ever really done to any sort of extensive degree.  I know a bit of the really obvious stuff, but as far as the bands that stayed underground, I don't really know anything if I'm being truthful.

The Outcasts are not a band I've ever listened to.  Until this record arrived from Secret Mission, I'd never even heard of them.  But I'm learning to trust the folks over at Secret Mission as they have sent me quite a few records over the past year or two that have really impressed me.  You can add The Outcasts to this list.

The Outcasts are very obviously late 70s/early 80s UK punk rock.  They have that sort of sound that you would expect with a high pitched, razor blade guitar attack combined with poppier basslines and vocals.  You can tell they were around at the same time as The Clash and Sex Pistols and while I wouldn't say they really sound too much like either of those bands, there is a commonality between the three that lets you know they are certainly of the same era.

This double LP is full of songs compiling all of the bands singles as well as track by track liner notes with recording history and anecdotes.  The Secret Mission here was to make sure that the Outcasts were not lost to the sands of time.  This is a band that I would have never heard if they didn't rerelease these songs, so at least for me I would say mission accomplished.

The Outcasts - Tell Me The Whole Story:
https://secretmissionrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tell-me-the-whole-story

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Alpocalypse 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.

Alpocalypse came out in 2011.  I was no longer working in the music industry and had actually started putting together the building blocks of this website by taking pictures of records and posting them on Flickr.  I didn't really write anything about Alpocalypse when I posted that picture, but if I had, it probably would have been similar to what I think about it now.  I don't really know any of the song parodies at all.  I'm now aware of the Lady Gaga song, but that's really only because of the brouhaha surrounding the release of this record back in 2011.  Past that, I don't know any of these and I really don't like them.

On the flip side, this record is home to some of my very favorite Al originals.  "CNR" is a wonderfully ridiculous tribute to my favorite Match Game star, Charles Nelson Reilly.  This song is in the style of early 2000s garage bands, primarily The White Stripes.  It's a hoot.  But the real highlight is "Skipper Dan."  This might actually be the Weird Al song that's most similar to a song I would listen to day to day.  To me, it sounds like something Fountains of Wayne would have written for Utopia Parkway, but with better harmonies and a tremendously silly story about someone working on the Disney World Jungle Cruise ride.  It's such a hit song and I love it.

Ultimately it's an uneven Weird AL record, but the highs are high enough to where I still enjoy it immensely.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "CNR":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLnapb-30hA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Skipper Dan":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0cCRRFi1aA

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Hamiltones - The Shape of Walter 7" - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Swimming Faith (2019)

When I opened up the package that contained this Hamiltones 7", I was kind of excited.  Despite the fact that I don't really like reviewing cassettes, The Hamiltones were a discovery I made a few years ago digging through a pile of tapes that got sent to me to write about.  I'm glad to see them with a record on vinyl.

To me, The Hamiltones are something of a cross between The Hex Dispensers and The Ventures.  At their core they are an instrumental surf band, but like the Hex Dispensers, they lean towards a style that seems more at home in a haunted house than it would at a beach party.  With song titles like "Flowers for Wolfman (In Human Form)" and "Dracula Goes To The Gas Station...Alone...Again" you can see the vibe they are going for, but the fact that they are able to convey this vibe without any vocals is impressive.

Equally impressing is the artwork.  My cover is screened on a piece of sandpaper.  That is definitely something I have never seen before and I think it's a really cool idea, provided I'm able to keep the grain away from the vinyl itself.  I'm a fan of this one.

The Hamiltones - The Shape of Walter 7":
https://thehamiltones.bandcamp.com/album/the-shape-of-walter

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bad Year - My Escape 12"



Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

There's a pretty decent chance that if you start a pop punk band and name it after my second favorite Sicko song, I'll probably be into whatever you release.  And that's the case with Bad Year from Denver.  They play pop punk, they like Sicko and apparently G.I. Joe based on the cover artwork.  There's a lot to like here.

The one thing that I don't like is that this is a one sided 12".  Come on guys, record five more songs and put out a full length.  EPs always end up getting buried in my collection and as nice as the screen print on the B side is, I would happily replace it with some more songs.  The good news is that all seven songs that are on the A side are a ton of fun.  While there is surely a Sicko influence present, I wouldn't say that any of these songs really sound that much like Sicko (aside from the slightly hidden cover of the actual Sicko song "Bad Year" snuck in as a sort-of unlisted track at the end).  ''

The 90s vibe is unmistakeable, but I kind of feel like Bad Year has more in common with the poppier side of the spectrum that you'd expect to hear on No Idea.  I think it's mainly the vocals that brings this to mind as they have the sort of gruffness you'd come to expect from bands that are probably much angrier than Bad Year seem to be.  These songs are catchy and upbeat, with choruses that beg you to sing along.  I really dig this EP and it leaves me wanting to hear more.  If only there was somewhere on this 12" that they good have fit some more songs.  Maybe next time...

Bad Year - My Escape 12":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/my-escape

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynnwood 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.

Straight Outta Lynnwood has the song "White And Nerdy" on it.  I know this was a big deal for Weird Al and I feel like when this record came out is when I started to hear the rest of the world start referring to Al with the sort of reverence that I'd held him in since I was a kid.  I guess after cranking out hits in three decades he finally started getting the credit he deserved.  It may have also just been because of the internet and 'nerd' culture being much more prominent that it had been in the past.  Who knows, I'm just glad people finally started viewing Al as the national treasure he is.

With that stated, I don't really like "White And Nerdy."  I don't know the original and while the lyrics are extremely clever and the rapid-fire delivery is quite impressive, the song itself is not my thing at all.  The Beach Boys inspired "Pancreas" is probably my favorite song on here as Al flawlessly recreates a Pet Sounds vibe while singing about pancreatic juices.  That, my friends, is true talent.

The rest of the album has ups and downs until it hits on the other real highlight, "Trapped In The Drive Thru."  I know that this is a parody of "Trapped in the Closet" by R. Kelly (though I did just have to use Google to see who sung that song) and I actually even heard the original as my wife showed me a long video for it once.  The Weird Al version is just perfect. It's nearly eleven minutes long and is insane in the way it documents every single tedious detail of going to get some dinner.  Hard to do it justice in a couple of sentences, you should have a listen.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pancreas":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqDBB0no6dQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Trapped in the Drive Thru":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHnTocdD7sk

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Emptiness 7"

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2018)

When I went to Japan a couple of years ago (I know, I know, I start way too many reviews like this, but I still have records that I haven't written about from that trip and newer things I buy also have tie ins) the records I had at the top of my shopping list were the three Ron Ron Clou LPs.  I only found one while I was there, but I did track down the other two on Discogs.  I still have some 7"s that I need to hunt down from them, but I certainly didn't expect new records to be added to the want list.  Then, out of nowhere, I was told that Ron Ron Clou put out two new 7"s.  In 2018.  I love that the 90s keep coming back.

The first of these 7"s is Emptiness.  The A side is the the title track and it is a perfect slice of vintage Ron Ron Clou.  The jangly Rickenbackers fuel the Odd Numbers-esque mod pop sound that just drives me wild.  It's an incredibly catchy and well written song, as strong as anything the band has ever released.  On the B side is a Primal Scream cover called "Ivy Ivy Ivy."  I am not familiar with the original, but the Ron Ron Clou version has a more garage-y feel to it than the A side.  It's a fun listen, but I guess I just think that Ron Ron Clou writes better songs than Primal Scream does.

I did also get the second new 7" Ron Ron Clou released alongside of this one.  I'll write about that in the upcoming weeks.  I'm not exactly sure what sparked these guys to record some new songs and release some new records, but I really hope they stick with it.  There's few things that would make me as happy as a new Ron Ron Clou full length in 2019 (or 2020, no pressure).

Monday, May 20, 2019

Herzog - Me vs. You LP

Untitled

Exit Stencil (2019)

It's been quite a few years since the release of Herzog's last album in 2014.  I wasn't sure that they were coming back, to be honest, but luckily Me. vs. You is finally here.  Once again these guys have cobbled together a really strong album full of guitar pop songs.  It's a little less Blue album and a little more Mikal Cronin this time out, but it's still a strong listen.

Right off the bat things start up on a high note with opener "Music Was The Language From When I Mattered."  It's a fast and fuzzy blast of hooks and harmonies, giving me everything I want out of a Herzog song.  When the next song hits, that's when you'll notice things are a bit more varied this time out.  "Winter 2014" is much slower than I would have figured and has a real Beck/Sea Change vibe to it.  It's a good song, but somewhat unexpected.

From there, the album jumps around a bit between the more upbeat and catchy songs and the slower more melodic ones.  I definitely prefer the faster ones and think they're the highlights of the record.  Not that the slower ones don't hold up, but I think if you swapped out one or two for some punchier songs, I'd probably dig the record even more.

Herzog - Me vs. You:
https://herzog-cleveland.bandcamp.com/album/me-vs-you

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last CD

Untitled

Bill Clinton (2019)

Unlikely Friends put out yet another CD.  Still waiting for some vinyl from these guys, but at least they aren't putting out cassettes.  This one is a limited edition album that contains twelve cover songs of other Pacific Northwest bands.  It's a pretty fun idea and they manage to tackle some bands that I really love.  That some of them are pretty under the radar or perhaps forgotten by the sands of time is just a bonus.

I'll start out by saying that I can't believe there's a Flop cover on here.  Flop was such an incredible band, but they are also one that I fear is being lost as time goes by.  Unlikely Friends cover "Hello" and while I personally would have picked "Anne" they do a tremendous job with this incredible track from & the Fall of the Mopsqueezer.  Whereas on the Flow version the song starts off acoustic, Unlikely Friends gives it the barbershop quartet treatment before the guitars roar in.  I love it.

Over the course of the album, Unlikely Friends pay tribute to some incredible bands and songs including "Is This Real" (by the Wipers), "Your Asterisk" (by Halo Benders), "In The Summer" (by Fastbacks) and "Ontario" (by The Posies).  I could really list every song on this CD.  There's not a dud in the bunch and it showcases Unlikely Friends talent of adapting themselves to the sounds of some very different bands.  It looks like the CD is sold out, but you can still download the digital version for Name Your Price on Bandcamp.

Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last:
https://unlikelyfriends.bandcamp.com/album/we-blast-last-a-love-letter-to-the-fabulous-bands-of-the-pacific-northwest

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Poodle Hat 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.

Poodle Hat came out after I was out of college and was working in music doing radio promotion.  It had been a really long time since there had been a Weird Al record and it just sort of snuck up on me one day.  It was also some time after this record came out that I finally saw Al's live show.  A friend of mine got me tickets and we went out to somewhere in Long Island or Staten Island or some Island to see him play.  It was a blast.

This record specifically is a mid range Weird Al record for me, there are some incredible songs (all originals) like "Why Does This Always Happen To Me," "Genius in France" and "Bob."  There's also one of Al's absolute masterpieces in "Hardware Store."  This one goes a million miles an hour and is crammed full of insane hardware lyrics and truly ludicrous shopping list style breakdown that I just can't do justice to.

I don't really know the parodies that well to be honest, other than I really hate the Billy Joel song "Piano Man," so I don't think I've made it all the way through "Ode To A Superhero" when I had listed to this on CD.  There's an Eminem one "Couch Potato" which I've at least heard the original one of.  There's also a Nelly one and a Avril Lavigne one, but I had to look those up on Wikipedia to figure that out.  It's a mixed bag of an album, as the years go by I know less and less about the parodies, but the Al originals are always a treat and Poodle Hat is no exception.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Hardware Store":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw7lqXHMLYA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Why Does This Always Happen To Me":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QqD1_g2E4I

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Giggly Boys - Another Close Call 7" - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

It's been a little bit since Snappy Little Numbers put out a 7" and I was happy to see their distinctive record sleeve when I opened up this Giggly Boys record.  They're not a band I had heard of prior to getting this record in the mail, but like most of the Snappy Little Numbers bands, they are a-ok in my book.

Side A starts off with "Another Close Call," drenched in reverb and sporting vocals that sound a lot like Frank Black to me.  There's enough lead guitar to give the song depth and texture, but not so much as to be over bearing or self indulgent.  It really sounds quite a bit like a song that would have been an outtake from Teenager Of The Year and that's not a bad thing at all.

The B side is a little more straightforward and poppy.  "Dead Again" is shorter and more concise than the A side and I probably like it a little bit more since it appeals to the pop kid in me.  It has a real 90s flair and does still have a Pixies/Frank Black vibe to it, but isn't quite as obvious as "Another Close Call."

Giggly Boys - Another Close Call 7":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/another-close-call-b-w-dead-again

Monday, May 13, 2019

Odd Numbers - About Time LP

Untitled

Beer City (2018, Reissue)

I first heard of Odd Numbers from their singles compilation album Jazz Cigarettes.  It came out on Munster records and I was lucky that my record store of choice in the 90s always stocked a good amount of Munster vinyl.  That's how I was able to get my hands on Sicko and Bum vinyl back in the pre-internet days.  I picked up Odd Numbers at the recommendation of my buddy Alan and was pretty blown away by their mod pop sounds.  While Jazz Cigarettes will always be my favorite, I've tried to keep up with their other albums over the year, several of which have been denied a vinyl release.

That changes with this Beer City reissue of the first Odd Numbers record About Time.  It was originally released on Cassette and then on CD.  This is the first time it's been on vinyl and it sounds great.  The throwback vibe of the Odd Numbers always seemed best suited to listing to on a turntable.  Their bouncy hooks and Rickenbacker twang blending together to create some pretty perfect pop songs.

Several of these songs are also on Jazz Cigarettes and I have to say they tend to be my favorites, but I think that's mostly due to my familiarity with them as I had Jazz Cigarettes for a few years before I had tracked down the original CD version of It's About Time.  "Little Kings and Queens," "Holiday" and "If I Only Had You" sound as great as they did the very first time I heard them.  Their version of "Sweet Soul Music" that closes the record is also a highlight.  For a while there was a rumor that this cover was unlicensed in some way and resulted in the CD going out of print.  I don't actually know if that's true and can't find any proof that was the case, but I'm happy the song is on the vinyl.

Odd Numbers - "Holiday":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKeuX2QYhfo

Odd Numbers - "If I Only Had You":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKasKlXhjgo

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hot Snakes - Treat Yourself 7" - Red Vinyl (338/1000)

Untitled

PU (2018)

This 7" was a tour only release from the Hot Snakes jaunt across Europe at the end of 2018.  It entered my possession due to the never ending kindness of Fredrik from Chester Copperpot and Gamla Pengar.  When I realized that the Snakes were hitting Sweden on this tour, I reached out to Fredrik and wouldn't you know it, he's as wonderful as ever.  A truly great man and I thank him immensely.

I did see Hot Snakes this weekend and they were actually selling the leftovers at the merch booth, so this isn't an impossible find just yet.  But I have to say I love the copy the Fredrik sent me way more than I would have just picking it up in Jersey City.  There's something special when punks from around the world work together to help each other out.  Just makes me warm and tingly just thinking about it.

The two songs on this 7" are as incredible as anything else in the Hot Snakes catalog.  If you love the full lengths you'll love this 7".  A side "Treat Yourself" is a mid tempo rocker in the vein of songs like "Light Up The Stars" or "Bye Nancy Boy."  It's my favorite of the two and arguably my favorite kind of Hot Snakes songs.  I don't think they get enough credit for how poppy some of their songs are.  This one is killer.

On the B side is Ungallant, Coarse and Rude; the latest entry in the _______, _______ and _______ series from John Reis bands.  This one is a burner, somewhat similar in execution to "Why Don't It Sink In" from Jericho Sirens or the opening five songs on Audit in Progress, but with a more melodic chorus/breakdown thing worked in.  Unsurprisingly it's great.  I love this band so much.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Running With Scissors 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.

When I was in college I worked at a butcher shop/deli.  We did some catering too and occasionally I would make the catering deliveries.  People suck at tipping, just an FYI.  If I carry 10 chafing dishes into your living room and light all of those little sterno heating things, at least hit me with a five spot, you know?  I'm in college and could have used that to buy a 7".  Anyway, I bring this up because I had to make a delivery the day this record came out, so I stopped at the mall and picked this up.  While I was on the clock.  Bonus.  More than anything I remember how bizarre it was to see Al on the cover without classes.  He got his eyes fixed with lasers.  Dudes with glasses everywhere mourned.

As for the record itself, it's not one of my favorites.  The parodies are mostly of songs I either don't know or that are really bad.  His Offspring send up "Pretty Fly For A Rabbi" is painful to listen to.  I know that people love "The Saga Begins," but I hate the song "American Pie" so it's not one I can listen to often.  I don't really know most of the others.  The originals are better, but most aren't that great either. 

What really saves this record are two songs.  "Your Horoscope For Today" is a ska song, so it's upbeat and catchy, but lyrically it's a ton of fun with Al breaking down ridiculous horoscopes for each of the astrological signs.  The other song that saves this album is "Alburquerque."  It's completely and utterly insane with eleven and a half minutes of the craziest story telling Al has ever recorded.  It's a song that is difficult to describe and really needs to be heard to be believed.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Your Horoscope For Today":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjlD6yYq5as

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Alburquerque":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fn58OF_lA-Q

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Record Store Day Haul #2: Otis Redding - Do It One More Time LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation (2019)

The second and final Record Store Day album I picked up this year (online, not in store due to illness) was this Otis Redding LP.  As I'm sure many know, I absolutely love Otis Redding and reviewing the various albums in his box set this past year was a ton of fun.  There are still a few posthumous albums that weren't part of that box set that I need to add to my collection, but Record Store Day gave me the chance to add his iconic set from the Monterey Pop Festival.

This is the first time the entire Stax set has been released including the three song opening set by the Booker T & The M.G.s with The Mar-Keys.  Those three songs are "Booker-Loo," "Philly Dog" and "Hip Hug Her."  Booker T is another one of my favorites, having become familiar with them via the Blues Brothers as I did with so many other classic soul bands.  "Philly Dog" is the highlight of the set with the Mar-Keys horns just sounding so great.

With all of these years of hindsight, it seems kind of weird that Otis Redding only played five songs at the Monterey Pop Festival.  Considering how important it is looked upon by history as his breakout moment, I'm not sure I knew it was essentially only a half set.  That said, it's a ridiculous great set with definitive versions of songs like "Shake," "Satisfaction" and "Respect."  I'm thrilled to have it in the collection.

Booker T and the M.G.s - "Hip Hug Her":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRbXx7iKOTI

Otis Redding - "Shake" (There's also another live song, but not from Monterey, tacked on to this youtube video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIoQDG-iRn4

Otis Redding - "Satisfaction":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrPxlWEsFSE

Monday, May 6, 2019

Record Store Day Haul #1: Weezer - Dusty Gems & Raw Nuggets - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Geffen (2019)

As the years have gone by, Record Store Day gets sillier and sillier with fewer and fewer releases I have any interest in.  This year was a little better than most, but there was nothing I had any intention of lining up in the middle of the night for.  On top of that, I got really sick that weekend so for the first time since the very first Record Store Day, I didn't get to go out to Vintage Vinyl at all.  Luckily, I was able to snag the two records I wanted the most online the day after.  I even could have grabbed the Frank Black and Green Day records as well, but once I had them in my cart, I decided I just didn't want to spend that much money.  I stuck with the two I wanted the most, the first of which is Weezer.

This LP collects all of the B sides, live  and compilation tracks of the Blue Album era along with a handful of unreleased songs.  The B sides are outstanding, with "Susanne," "Mykel and Carli"and "Jamie" being as good as any songs the band ever released.  "Jamie" in particular is a pretty important track to me personally as it was the first Weezer song I ever heard.  It was part of the DGC Rarities Vol. 1 compilation that I had bought for an unreleased Beck song.  Discovered a few great bands from that comp.

The live acoustic songs are a lot of fun, though the non-acoustic live ones aren't as interesting.  When it comes to the unreleased songs, it's a mixed bag. "Only in Dreams" and "Lullaby for Wayne" are decent enough with the hooks where they need to be.  Maybe not quite as realized as other tracks from the era, but totally solid.  "Paperface" and "I Swear It's True," on the other hand, aren't very good at all and it's pretty understandable why they never came out in 1994.  They just can't hold a candle to any of the songs that were released.

Weezer - "Jamie":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZwij4_3gGk

Weezer - "Suzanne":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GszQl-DLB2o

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sista Brytet - Dead Before You Know It 7" (Transparent Cover)

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No Front Teeth / Luftslott ‎(2019)

I discovered Sweden's Sista Brytet via a review of their most recent full length album that was in Razorcake.  I read the review, checked out a couple songs online and bought that full length and this 7" from their Bandcamp page.  I will get to their LP in the next few weeks, but wanted to start out with this 7" as it's their newest release having only come out a few weeks ago.

The four songs on this 7" are all in English, which is different from the LP which is virtually all in Swedish.  While either language is fine by me, this 7" might make a better entry point for some, particularly as all four songs are outstanding.  The band is able to go from a Marked Men like approach to breakneck pop on "Dead Before You Know It" to a slower more melodic Gentleman Jesse style rocker like "The Revolution Is On The Next Stop" to an upbeat, piano heavy 50's type blast like "Billy Bragg."

The thing that all of the songs on this 7" have in common is that they are ridiculously catchy and teeming with energy.  Being able to find a record like this is one of the main reasons that I will always have a subscription to Razorcake.  I still love being able to stumble across a new band that just knocks my socks off.  It's also one of the main reasons I've been doing this stupid website for over seven years now.  From time to time, I hope I'm able to help someone else discover a new band they may not have heard of otherwise.

Sista Brytet - Dead Before You Know It 7":
https://sistabrytet.bandcamp.com/album/dead-before-you-know-it

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bad Hair Day LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

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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.

As I mentioned last week, Alapalooza didn't really do much for me and I didn't hear from Al again until 1996, when I was in college.  Bad Hair Day reminded me how much I loved Weird Al and put his discography back on track for me.  It probably helped that in 1996 you couldn't escape Coolio no matter how hard you tried, so I did actually have a reference point for "Amish Paradise."  Lyrically it's a pretty stellar song.  I also enjoyed his take on The Presidents of the United States of America with "Gump" his Forrest Gump tinged version of "Lump."

I don't really know any of the other parodies, but the originals on Bad Hair Day are excellent.  "Everything You Know Is Wrong" is a super upbeat They Might Be Giants style number.  There's also the a cappella doo wop "Since You've Been Gone" and an Elvis Costello fueled "I'm So Sick Of You."

That said, my absolute favorite song on this album is "The Alternative Polka."  In my opinion this is the best of Weird Al's polka medleys, I think in part because of the contrast of the silliness of the polka tempo and the seriousness of the lyrics of a lot of the songs included.  Included in the polka are Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Green Day and many more.  I'm also convinced that the Alanis Morissette song "You Outta Know" is a tremendously written pop song due to Al's reworking of it.  This song alone would make Bad Hair Day my favorite Weird AL record of the 90s, but luckily there's lots of other goodies that make the whole album pretty darn enjoyable.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "The Alternative Polka":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVWjThlEzts

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Everything You Know Is Wrong":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EStEiPVcyPA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Amish Paradise":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOfZLb33uCg


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Something - Still Plaing... CD

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Dish and Plate (2017)

(Update - 04/30/19)

I wanted to update this post quickly with the artwork for the incredible Something CD I wrote about a few weeks ago.  I was contacted by Tommy (@tommynyo on twitter) from the band who was kind enough to send me the artwork.  I'll say it again, this is a fantastic album and absolutely one worth tracking down if you enjoy melodic punk rock from Japan as much as I do.

(Original Review):

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, April 29, 2019

Gentleman Jesse & His Men - Bryan 7" (/200)

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Wild Honey (2019)

It's been so long since there was a new release from Gentleman Jesse that I thought there would never been another one.  Then, out of nowhere, Wild Honey announced that they would be selling a new two song 7" at the Fuzzville Festival in Spain, limited to two hundred copies.  Well, I knew there was no way I was getting to Spain and I don't think I know anyone in Spain who could have picked one up for me, so I started to stress out about how I was going to get my hands on this record.

I wish I had a really creative story about how I was able to track one down, but inexplicably a copy just popped up on Discogs a few weeks ago.  I grabbed it immediately at a very reasonable price as I would have been willing to pay significantly more if necessary.  I'm very lucky to have been able to get this record and I have to just chalk it up to dumb luck, but I'll take it.

The two new songs on this 7" were recorded during the Leaving Atlanta sessions.  A side "Bryan" is upbeat and reminds me of my very favorite Gentleman Jesse song "I Don't Wanna Know."  On the B side is "Hate To See You Say."  This one has a slower tempo, more reminiscent of the lower key moments of Leaving Atlanta, but still every bit a poppy of an earworm as anything else Jesse has ever release.

I'm really thrilled to finally have a few new Gentleman Jesse songs.  I can only hope this somehow leads to another album one day.  Jesse writes some of my very favorite songs and I just want to hear more of them.

Gentleman Jesse & His Men - "Bryan":
https://wildhoneyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/bryan-hate-to-see-you-stay

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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

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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"

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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

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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

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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.