Monday, September 30, 2013

Sick Sick Birds - All the Fins In The Sea 7" - Insub fest Version (/40)

Ghostbot Records (2013)

The folks at Sick Sick Birds were kind enough to allow me to purchase a copy of this 7", even though I was not able to get down to Insub Fest in Baltimore. Between this and the exclusive Dead Mechanical variant that was being sold at the fest, I could have ended up a very bummed record collector if not for the kindness of some friends.

The Sick Sick Birds 7" is actually the test pressing of the upcoming 7" on Ghostbot Records. I expected the official 7" to be out at this point, but I haven't seen any info out of the record label in a little bit. The sleeve is a one sided square, all stenciled out and it looks really sharp. The tracklist and some other information is stamped on the other side of the cover.

Now musically, I couldn't be happier with this record. I was a little hard on the last Sick Sick Birds full length. Not because the songs weren't great (they were), but because the way the vocals were recorded just didn't work for me. They were blown out and distorted. Well, the 4 songs on this 7" sound fantastic, much more reminiscent of the recording quality of the 1st SSB record, Heavy Manners. The songs themselves are all great. Well written, catchy pop with heavy leanings towards 90's indie rock. This 7" is really stellar and I cannot wait to hear what the band does next.

Sick Sick Birds - Burns In The Middle:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Record Store Visit: Logan Hardware - Chicago, IL - 09/16/13

The very last stop for the day on my record shopping tour of Chicago was at a place called Logan Hardware. While I won't say this was the best record store I went to while I was in Chicago, it was absolutely the coolest one I was at.

Logan Hardware is a big store. The room just feels like it goes on for days and they have a great mix of stock. New & used underground rock 7"s, piles and pile of oldies 45s, CDs, LPs, DVDs, VHS tapes, blind box action figures, wacky candy and more. Musically, I wouldn't say they focus on any one specific genre, but it's very much an independent record store so the selection is as it should be.

I really enjoyed the dynamic vibe of the store as there was just so much to look at, but the crowning achievement of Logan Hardware is the secret vintage arcade museum hidden at the back of the store. Maybe it's not really a secret as they do talk about it on the store's website, but being in the actual store itself, I would have had no idea it was there had we not been there with a local.

After you purchase something at the store, you get back a receipt with a secret code on it. You then punch that code into a locked door at the back of the store and enter into a hidden arcade full of vintage video games. Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac Man, Moon Patrol, TMNT, about 8 pinball machines and many more favorites. Simply amazing. Musically, I'd probably be happiest if there was a Reckless Records in New Jersey, but as far as just a flat out cool, fun store; I sure wish there was a Logan Hardware around here somewhere.

That wrapped up my record shopping in Chicago. I had a great time going around and wanted to once again thank the great @swamipat for showing my wife and I the shops to hit and for taking us out for one hell of a good burger.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Record Store Visit: Laurie's Planet Of Sound - Chicago, IL - 09/16/13

Stop #4 of the record store tour of Chicago was Laurie's Planet Of Sound. Incidently, this store was right across the street from a vintage toy store called Quake. Quake looked like it was probably pretty cool, but they were closed (despite the fact that it wasn't closing time according to the sign on their door), so I didn't get to stop in. Laurie's, on the other hand, was open and I got to peruse their stash of records.

I have to say that overall I was very impressed with Chicago's record stores by this point. There's a level of consistency in these shops and each of them has something worth while. Laurie's selection of new records was solid, if unspectacular, but they had a better than usual used selection.

Additionally they were the one store in Chicao I went to that had the coveted "rare records" 7" box behind the counter. I nabbed a pretty old out of print Hex Dispensers 7"s from here, so that makes this visit a success as far as I'm concerned. Also, one of the clerks was originally from a nearby town in New Jersey, so I got a taste of that "it's a small world" thing as well.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Record Store Visit: Reckless Records - Chicago, IL - 09/16/13

I don't know if Reckless Records is the best record store I went to in Chicago, but it is certainly the most broadly stocked store that I was at during my visit. While most of the other stores I went to seemed to to be a bit more focused in their approach, Reckless feels like a great one stop shop for all things underground. In fact, it reminded me a great deal of the glory days of Kim's Underground in New York City.

I guess Reckless leans more indie rock than anything, but this is a pretty big store with a good cross section of different genres. Their used section was great, with tons of old 7"s from the 90's hanging around. Any store that I can go in and pick up a Walker 7" on colored vinyl is a store that's going to get a pretty positive review from me. As New York City record stores die or move to Brooklyn, it's crazy to see the epitome of 1990s NYC record shopping living on in a store in Chicago. I'm jealous I don't have a Reckless Records here in New Jersey.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Record Store Visit: Dusty Groove - Chicago, IL - 09/16/13

The 2nd record store hit up on my Chicago adventure was also the one store I didn't actually buy anything at. Dusty Groove specializes in Jazz, Soul and Funk, though they also had a pretty solid Hip Hop section as well. I wasn't really in the market for anything that Dusty Grooves was selling during this trip as I had decided I didn't want to bring any LPs on the plane ride home with me, but it was certainly a fun store to browse.

I can definitely see a specific type of record collector flipping their wig for the kind of stuff this store carries, though I can't say they had much in the way of used 7"s, which was pretty much my main goal on this trip. It's a neat store though, and one that I'd like to dig through again some other time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Record Store Visit: Permanent Records - Chicago, IL - 09/16/13

I'm back from my Chicago vacation. Let me start off by saying that I was very lucky to see Rocket From The Crypt twice in Chicago. Once at a club show that took place at a venue called the Double Door and once standing in the pouring rain at Riot Fest. Both shows were outstanding. I had a great time in Chicago, it's really a cool city. I'm hopeful to have an excuse to go back again really soon.

While in the windy city @swamipat was kind enough to take me record shopping. I'll be spending this week going over the various record stores that we hit up. All brand new stores for me that I'd never been in before. While I tried to limit my actual purchases to 7"s due to having to travel home with the records, I did check out pretty much everything and I can say that if I lived in Chicago, I would have no problem getting by with the stores they have.

The first stop was a place called Permanent Records. I would call it one of the more specialized stores that we visited. While they had a little bit of everything, you could tell that they specialized in the sort of garage/pop/psych revival rock that's been brewing over the past few years. They had a pretty good selection of new LPs and 7"s plus an easily accessible public rest room, which I thought was a nice feature.

They also had a really strong and affordable used section. I spend a great deal of time digging though their 7"s and found quite a few gems. I was mostly on the hunt for old forgotten 90's stuff and found a few records worth taking home. But the record I was most excited to find was the colored vinyl version of The Paperhead 7" Pictures of Her Demise. This was the only Trouble In Mind 7" on colored vinyl that I didn't have, so it was great to be able to add that to the collection.

All in all a great store. I wish I had the opportunity to shop there on a regular basis.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Vacation is approaching...

So this week I'm heading out to Chicago in order to see Rocket From The Crypt play twice, see some Blues Brothers landmarks and go record shopping in some new stores.  My wife & I have a decent amount of errands to prepare for this, so I'm just going to take the first few days of this off from this website as well. 

There won't be any record reviews for the next 2 weeks, but I will be back posting on Monday September 23rd.  Additionally, if you care, you can follow me on Twitter if the thought of 2 weeks without reading something I write is particularly terrifying for some reason.  @TimPopKid.

I'm quite excited about this trip.  I've never been to Chicago before and I'm going to get to hang out with some people that I've met through the RFTC/Swami message boards over the years.  Should be neat.  Plus I couldn't be happier about seeing Rocket From The Crypt for the 26th and 27th time.  Long live the dead!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Abolitionist - The Growing Disconnect LP

Hahaha cool! / Different Kitchen / 1859 / Lost Cat / Sex Sheets / Tour Van (2013)

This is the first time anyone has sent me an actual full length album to review for this website. I've had a few 7"s come in and even a 12" single once, but it was pretty cool to get this in the mailbox. I had never heard of Abolitionist prior to the band getting in touch with me. These things can go either way. I've gotten a few cool records sent to me and I've gotten some that aren't so hot. The Growing Disconnect turned out to be a pretty nice surprise.

The band is working within the catchy punk rock arena that was really established by bands like Jawbreaker back in the 90's. Gruff vocals, dark lyrics but with razor sharp hooks and an obvious passion for what they do. The Growing Disconnect paints a pretty bleak landscape lyrically, but does it with Dillinger Four like precision and energy that makes the album just fly by. The songs that stand out to me tend to be the ones that lean to the catchier side of things like "Thank Them" and "Blight Blood Red Letters." I just can't imagine someone who likes the sort of fare No Idea typically releases not being into this record.

There are a couple tracks that have a bit more of a straight up Bad Religion inspired sound to them and even though that's not really my thing, the songs whip by at such a fast pace they actually add some variety to the dynamic of the album which can be helpful. Even though this website is really just here for me to document my record buying addiction, it's a pretty cool thing that like minded souls will take the time to send you something of theirs to listen to. The fact that this is a really good record is just a bonus.

Abolitionist - The Growing Disconnect LP

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Royal Headache - Stand And Stare 7"

Matador (2013)

This 7" is part of the Matador 2013 singles club and has absolutely been the highlight of the series so far. Royal Headache's full length from a couple of years ago was one of those records that just immediately clicked for me and it instantly went in heavy rotation. This 7" proves that album was no fluke. Both songs here are just as good as anything on the full length and they've left me chomping at the bit for a new LP.

The first, "Stand And Stare," is a slower paced song, but still has the bright treble heavy guitar and soulful vocals I've come to know and love from this band. But on the b side, "Give It All To Me," Royal Headache kick up the tempo and blaze through an under 2 minute long blast of a song. I can't think of any band that's currently putting out any records as unique and distinctive as Royal Headache is. This 7" is worth subscribing to the entire series for (plus you'll get a Superchunk 7" too, so that's pretty great) and with any luck it's the first of many new releases on the way from this great, great band.

Royal Headache - Stand And Stare 7":

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Superchunk - I Hate Music LP - Orange Vinyl w/ Bonus 7"

Merge (2013)

Let me start off by saying this is a great record. One of the most fun records you are likely to listen to this year. Superchunk is one of my all time favorite bands, heck I have more Superchunk 7"s than a lot of people have total 7"s. That being said, I am going to nit pick 3 small things in this review, but I do not want those things interpreted as me not liking this album because that simply would not be true. Having listened to this band for nearly 20 years now, I just wanted to mention a few things.

Number one, though this record is great, I feel like it's not quite as punchy as Majesty Shredding and in turn doesn't come across as energetic and exciting as the last Superchunk record. While the album has exceptional moments, as a whole it's a lower key affair. Number 2, even though musically Me and You and Jackie Mittoo is one of the highlights of the record, I just can't reconcile the fact that I think the lyrics of the chorus are kind of stupid. It sounds like an idea Ted Leo thought of, but then decided not to use it.

Lastly, number 3. And this ties in to the limited vinyl version that I picked up. I think this package is incredible. The art work is spectacular, I love all of the die cut packaging and the colored vinyl and the fact that it comes with a bonus 7". This brings us to number 3, the songs on the bonus 7" are a waste. Just noise for the most part, I'd be hard pressed to call them actual songs. I'll likely not listen to it again, but I need it for completist reasons.

So those are my gripes with I Hate Music. 3 small things, 1 of which really has no bearing at all on how much I enjoy the record. I cannot stress enough that I really do think this is a great record. It's just when I am so familiar with a band I tend to over analyze a bit. My neurosis certainly shouldn't stop anyone from picking this up right away.

Superchunk - I Hate Music (NPR Stream):

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Southport - Southern Soul LP

Yo Yo (2013)

Simon Wells is the main man responsible for Southport and if his name sounds familiar to you it is likely because this man is responsible for helping to create some of the greatest records of all time during his days playing guitar for the band Snuff. The Snuff records that came out when Simon was in the band are true classics.

Southport has been kicking around off and on for well over a decade at this point. I was actually lucky enough to see one of their early shows when they played with Wat Tyler, Leatherface and Snuff at the Andy Crichton memorial show that I flew to London to see back in the 90's. I ended up with one of their demo tapes that pretty much became their debut album Nothing Is Easy. They vanished for a while, but came back with Armchair Supporters a few years ago. It was pretty good, though maybe not as strong as the first.

Now Southport are back for the third and, from the sound of things, final time with Southern Soul. It's an album that is very easy to listen to, with catchy songs played at a mid tempo pace. There aren't any punked-out burners here, nor are there really any very slow ballad-esque songs to speak of, but what the band has churned out is a very strong swan song.

Southern Soul is a very appropriate name for the record, and it's reflected in the vocals more so than anywhere else. Every song has a laid back vibe and I will admit to wishing there was a bit more urgency like they display on tracks from the band's first album like "Pilot" or "Drive By." But aside from the bizarre "Bob Marlow," which is essentially just a cover of "I Shot The Sheriff," this is an album with a lot of replay value. More than anything, it sounds like music made by old punks for old punks, and that's something I can relate to.

Southport - Last Time: