Friday, January 31, 2014

Samiam - Samiam LP - Purple Vinyl

New Red Archives (2012, Reissue)

I will be the first to admit that I'm going about Samiam all wrong. I never really listened to them much back in the 90's, but was inspired to start relistening to their albums to give them another shot. Needless to say, I like them much better now than I did then, so it's been a quest to start adding LPs to the collection. Luckily every label on Earth seems to think it's a good idea to reissue Samiam records, so they're very easy to come by at the moment.

The bad part of getting into this band now, is that I'm tending to listen to all of their records out of order, so even though this is the first Samiam LP, i've already heard the albums they put out 5, 10, 15, 20 years later. It gives me some perspective on how the band has evolved over the years, but it definitely makes this first album stand out from the initial batch of the Samiam releases I've picked up.

Compared to albums like Clumsy & You Are Freaking Me Out (the two I am most familiar at this point), the self titled album is significantly rougher around the edges. It takes much more of a hardcore influence and doesn't have the pop sensibilities of their later work. That's not to say the album doesn't have its catchy hooks, it does, but in general it's a much louder, angrier affair than some of their other records. That probably makes it sound like I don't like this record, but that isn't true at all. This album has bursts of energy and enthusiasm that are not as obviously apparent on some of their other albums and it's fascinating to see the band's growth.

I still have a lot of Samiam records to get through. I have had Whatever's Got You Down for a bit but have only played it once as it came during a busy end of the year rush of new records. I got Soar for Christmas but haven't given it a spin yet, I have Astray on it's way over to me and I have to pick up Billy still, so there's a lot to go on my continuing Samiam education.

Samiam - A Youtube Playlist of a bunch of songs off of the self titled LP:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Autistic Youth - Nonage LP - Clear Vinyl (/200)

Dirtnap (2013)

Autistic Youth is one of those bands that I've been keeping tabs on over the years. I buy their records when they come out, I listen to them and enjoy. I'm never blown away, but I'm never disappointed, they've just been a good reliable band. That is until their 3rd LP Nonage. You can mark this record down as the moment that Autistic Youth became a great band.

The biggest change from their past work is that they've slowed things down quite a bit. Rather than sap the songs of their energy, this shift in tempo allows everything room to breathe and expand. The backing vocals are more pronounced and effective and the underlying lead guitar adds so much in the way of dynamics.

The songs are catchier than anything the band has done before, but without giving up their identity. I would never call this a pop record, it's far too dark, but the hooks and choruses are so well written and instantly grab your attention. It's dark punk rock, but it's catchy in the way a band like The Wipers are, with less downstroke guitar though.

The fist 200 were on clear vinyl through Dirtnap mailorder, but those seem to be long gone at this point. Absolutely worth picking up on good old fashion black vinyl though.

Autistic Youth - Nonage LP:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sam & Dave - The Best of San & Dave LP

Friday Music (2012)

This was a Christmas gift, but was a record that had been on the want list for a while. The original pressing of this came out on Atlantic Records back in 1969, but Friday Music did a fancy reissue in 2012. Though you could find an original cheaper for sure, there are times where I'd rather not play the hunt for a copy that some 60's teenage didn't beat up game. Sometimes it's just easier to get the reissue and this is a good one.

Sam & Dave are favorites of mine, stemming from my love of the Blues Brothers. Ass the Blues Brothers were my first favorite band as a 3 year old, I've explored their influences over the years and you'd be harder pressed to find a better influence than Sam & Dave (Though I will certainly hear arguments for Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding). Though maybe this LP isn't as chocked full of songs as some of their CD compilations, this 14 track set is lean and mean. Truly the best of. From "Soul Man," to "Soothe Me" to "Hold On I'm Comin'" these songs are simply amazing even all these years later.

The reissue itself sounds outstanding and I appreciate the little details like the reworked red, white and green Atlantic label on the record itself. This label is reissuing one of the most important records to me in February, Briefcase Full of Blues. After hearing the Best of Sam & Dave, I'm pretty confident that one will be worth picking up as well.

Sam & Dave - Hold On I'm Comin':

Monday, January 27, 2014

Spells - Take Time 7" - Red Vinyl

Snappy Little Numbers (2013)

I can't say I was familiar with Spells, but when I ordered the Hooper record from Snappy Little Numbers I decided to pick up a couple of 7"s from them as well to try out some new bands. That ended up a smart move as I really dug The Knew 7" I wrote about on here a few weeks ago and I like this Spells 7" just as much.

This 7" is something I'm going to call higher level pop punk. There's a lot of pop punk bands that are kind of generic, to the point where the word became something of an insult to throw around. But for me the phrase pop punk will always take me back to the 90's when the term allowed for a bit more variety within the genre. So we'll just call Spells higher level pop punk, it's a group of people getting together and writing a couple of supremely catchy songs with big sing along choruses, tons of backing vocals and a real appreciation for that old time rock and roll music. Looks like this band has some more tunes kicking about, and I will have to start tracking those down as well.

The Spells - Take Time 7":

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wax Packs: The Hundred Acre Woods / Boxer - Split 7"

Secret Audio Club (2013)

This is the 5th and final 7" from my Wax Packs hobby box. Full review of the box itself was posted on Monday at:

2 more bands that I was completely unfamiliar with. The first band on this split is The Hundred Acre Woods. Right off the bat, I think they've picked a pretty great band name, so I'm hopeful that they sound good too. They're probably the best surprise from this batch of records along with John Moreland. The Hundred Acre Woods plays upbeat, banjo tinged, light & catchy folk-punk. Not in an Against Me/Gainesville arnarcho way, but in a laid back, build up that chorus and tap your foot way. The singsong vocals mix with the slightly twangy, but still crunchy guitar to create a song that's definitely one of the best I've heard from this series.

Boxer doesn't blow me away quite the same way that The Hundred Acre Woods does. They're a little more by the numbers agnsty rock. They kind of feel like one of those old Jade Tree bands that I know a lot of people liked, but never really stood out from the back for me. The band plays at a slower, more melodic speed, but counters that melody with some crazy electric guitar noise swirling in the background. I could actually see this being something that others would gravitate to, but it's not really my speed.

That wraps up my Secret Audio Club Wax Packs reviews. 5 records out of 1 hobby box. There's 5 more split 7"s out there, which I would definitely be curious to get my hands on. The question is now, is taking a chance on 9 more bands I've never heard of worth the risk? Maybe, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the bands from this batch. We'll just have to see.

The Hundred Acre Woods:


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wax Packs: Marathon / Fire When Ready - Split 7" - Test Pressing (/20)

Secret Audio Club (20113)

This is 7" number 4 from my Wax Packs hobby box. For a recap on the box as a whole and the story behing the set, please read Monday's review at This split was the 2nd "hit" variation I pulled from my mystery box. I think in trading card lingo, the used to call this a chase card. This particular variant is a limited to 20 copies test pressing for the record. I'm not really one who collects test pressings, so there may be others who would consider this a bigger coup.

As for the 2 bands on the split, again I'd never heard of either prior to putting this on the turntable. I do have to say of all of the bands I've heard from the Wax Packs set, these were the bands I was least impressed with. Marathon's 1st song was a good, upbeat rocker. Big chugging guitar with a catchy chorus, but the vocals didn't hold up to the music. The 2nd songs was an acoustic number with more vocals that just don't work for me.

Fire When Ready is playing a minor chord driven, wacky guitar noodling, late 90s off-beat-drum-signature style that kind of reminds me of some of the Polyvinyl bands from the late 90's era. Again, it's the vocals that I'm just not into with these guys. There's also a bunch of shouting at the end of the 1st song that feels like it comes out of no where. Their 2nd entry is faster and more upbeat, so I like it more than the 1st, but it's still not the sort of band I could see myself listening to very much.

As I said in my first review of the series, there's 19 bands contributing songs to this project. The odds of everyone liking every band seem pretty slim to me. This is just the record that I didn't like of the bunch. I could only find 30 second clips of some of these songs, I couldn't find the whole songs streaming anywhere.


Fire When Ready:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wax Packs: Broken Field Runner / Gifthorse - Split 7"

Secret Audio Club (2013)

This was 7" number 3 from my Wax Packs box set. You can read a synopsis of the entire set here:

Once again, we had two bands that I had not only never heard before, but I had never even heard of prior to this set being announced. Perhaps I'm getting older and falling out of touch with music a bit more than I'm willing to admit. Broken Field Runner chime in with a dynamic, but mid tempo number. Light guitars mesh with cymbal heavy drumming and strong vocals to produce a sound that reminds me a bit of the old 90's band Tugboat Annie. Maybe Broken Field Runner doesn't achieve highs quite as high, but it's a pretty good song.

Gifthorse runs in the acoustic world, but in an early Against Me or Frank Turner sort of way. Both songs on their side of the record are alright, but there's a totally unnecessary lead guitar that weaves through the first song that I find distracting. I think the song is strong enough to stand on its own without the extra noodling.

Broken Field Runner:


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wax Packs: John Moreland / Austin Lucas - Split 7"

Secret Audio Club (2013)

This is the 2nd 7" from my Wax Packs box set.  For a full description of the series and the trading card-esque way they are rolling out this record, I described it in detail in Monday's review:

This split 7" holds the distinction of being the only one in the group with an artist I had actually heard of before, Austin Lucas.  I knew he was part of the growing folky acoustic punk "revival tour" crew, but I can't say I had listened to much of his output.  His song, "Splinters" has more of a country twang than I would have originally thought.  There's certainly no reinvention of the wheel going on, but it's a strong song that I did enjoy.

However for me, John Moreland stole the show on this record, he may have stolen the show on the entire series (though there is another band in the running for that; we'll get to them later in the week.).  Moreland's track "Cataclysm Blues No. 4" is just great.  Like a lost song from Bruce Springsteen's Devils And Dust album (My favorite Springsteen release for those keeping track at home), this gruff vocaled, slow, somber number is just an incredibly well written song.

I was very excited to pull this 7" from my Wax Packs box as it was the one I was most interested in hearing,  As I said yesterday, this is a novel concept and certainly leads to more excitement opening your record when you don't already know what's inside.

John Moreland - Cataclysm Blues No 4:

Austin Lucas - Splinters (Live At New West Records):

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wax Packs: Casual / Crybaby - Split 7" - Violet Vinyl (/154)

Wax Packs: Casual / Crybaby - Split 7" - Violet Vinyl (/154), a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.

Secret Audio Club (2013)

Wax Packs Hobby Box
Wax Packs is one of the more unique things I've come across record collecting.  They're put out by a label attempting to combine their love of record collecting with their love of trading cards.  It's an interesting singles series concept, but instead of getting 1 record every month, all of the singles are released at the same time, the only catch is that you don't know what records you're going to get.  The basic concept of Wax Packs is that they are selling 7"s in generic sleeves that are sealed.  If you go to the store or buy a single record, it's a lot like the vinyl toy blind box phenomenon that's been taking off over the past few years.  Until you buy your record and take it home to open it, the record your buying is a mystery.

The way it becomes a bit more like trading cards is the records are also sold in groups on 5 singles, as a Hobby Box.  The benefit of the Hobby Box is that in addition to having multiple chances to get the record you want, you are guaranteed to get one of the more rare variants of the records.  Let me explain.  For each of the 10 7" releases, there's different variants hidden randomly in these hobby boxes. There's a limited to 150-ish version on colored vinyl, a limited to 50 numbered colored vinyl version and the test pressing for each record is also out there.  So if you buy a box of 5, you get a pretty cool box and a sure shot limited variant. There's also  collectible download trading cards, one for each band randomly distributed in each box.

Box Break
It's one of the cooler ideas for record collecting I've seen and while I don't collect trading cards now, I did as a kid.  I had an awful lot of Star Wars cards if nothing else.  I think if your goal is going to be to collect every variant of every record, you might drive yourself to drinking.  But if you buy a couple of boxes and then try to trade for the other records you're missing, it's kind of fun and opens you up to a collecting community of like minded souls.

That's a lot of describing the concept of this series, but with no talk of the actual music.  As I have 1 Hobby Box, it would be an extremely long review to try to tackle everything in this box.  What I'm going to do is review 1 of the 5 records each day this week, that way I can treat each 7" as its own release and can give the bands on the records a bit more time.  I will also say this.  Of the 19 bands in this series, I had only ever heard of 1 of them going in.  I had no clue what to expect.  Some of the records I liked, some of the records I didn't.  It's the same as every singles series, if you line up 19 bands, no one is going to like all of them, but there's enough interesting diversity in this group that I'm definitely glad I have a box of these.
Casual / Crybaby - Split 7"
On to the record at hand, the Casual / Crybaby split 7".  When I did my "box break" I actually had a heck of a box.  I got 4 records on regular black vinyl.  I also got a test pressing and then this split 7" on colored vinyl, limited to 154 copies.  I had never heard of either band before, so I went into this record blind.

Crybaby turned out to be alright.  They remind me a great deal of the Conor Oberst fronted Desaparecidos.  Pretty decent hooks and quivering vocals.  There's some wacky guitar breakdowns that didn't thrill me and I think the band as a whole could use a bit more oomph, but in general, these songs with ok.

Casual was more my speed.  Though they stray close to being a bit too straight forward rock, they string together 2 good songs with strong vocal melodies.  This sounds similar to some early 2000's bands to me. The first song is poppier, the 2nd has significantly more shouting with a big group singalong chorus.  I prefer them to Crybaby, but for bands I had never heard before, I think both are worth a listen.

I'll be back tomorrow with the next 7" that was in my Hobby Box.

Casual Side:

Crybaby Side:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tony Molina - Six Tracks 7" - Gray Vinyl

Matador (2013)

Alright, with this record I am all caught up on the Matador Singles Club 7"s that have been sent out to date. As I said earlier in the week, there's still a few more out there and I'm hopeful that they're good ones. No singles club from Matador in 2014, but I'm hopeful to start getting them from the Merge Records series soon. Again, I am a real sucker for singles clubs...

Tony Molina is another great surprise from Matador. Again, I was unfamiliar with him prior to this release, but I'm pretty impressed by the songs here. Everything is short fuzzy pop blasts that cram an awful lot of hooks into such short spans of time. Molina even manages to squeeze in some wacky Minibosses like guitar solos. It's a lot of bang for you buck during a 90 second long song.

It appears that there is an out of print Tony Molina full length that is being reissued by Slumberland in a few weeks, I have a feeling you may end up seeing me review that at some point as well. As has been the theme with these Matador singles, I wasn't able to find any of these songs streaming online anywhere.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dick Diver / Lower Plenty - Split 7" - White Vinyl

Matador (2013)

I'm still trucking along with the Matador Singles Club releases I've fallen behind with, I have 1 more for tomorrow and then I'll be caught up. Today's record is actually a split 7" by 2 bands I was not familiar with prior to listening to this record. While it does hit the highs of the Smartboys 7" it comes nowhere near the lows of the Bits Of Shit single, so this ends up being a middle of the road release for Matador's club.

Dick Diver's song starts off with a Pixies Gigantic-esque bassline that leads into some clean, treble heavy guitar work. The vocals remind me a lot of the most recent (and frankly sub par) Soft Pack album. It's a decent enough little song, but it's kind of boringly mid tempo and never really goes anywhere.

Lower Plenty's contribution is built off of light acoustic guitar. While it doesn't actually sound like the Silver Jews, it kind of reminds me of that sort of subset of 90's indie rock, the bands you'd end up hearing if you decided to dig deeper than your Pavements or Built To Spills. Again, it's a fine song, but nothing really earth shattering.

I couldn't find either song available to share online. I'm wondering if that was some sort of deal with these Matador singles, the vast majority of them are really hard to listen to unless you have the records. Not that that's a bad thing, I always like people to be encouraged to actually buy records, but it certainly is unusual these days.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Smartboys - A Different World Now 7" - Blue Vinyl

Matador (2013)

Though I haven't heard of them before, Smartboys has 2 members of the band Fucked Up at the helm. After listening to this 7", along with the solo exploits of Young Guv, I can only assume that Fucked Up secretly wants to unleash the world's best fuzz pop record.

Smartboys deliver 2 tracks of lo fi guitar pop. This is one of a few bands that I think could probably sound even better with a bit more fidelity, but in general I really like both songs. The A-side "A Different World Now" builds the verse over some light background guitar noodling, but pays off with a big chorus.

B-Side "Sacked" is just as good, though for both songs, the vocals are buried just a bit too far in the mix. I wish I could hear what they were saying a little more, but I like both of these songs enough to go hunt down the band's other 2 7"s. So I assume you'll see reviews of them soon enough.

Smartboys - A Different World Now:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bits Of Shit - Riders 7" - Red Vinyl

Matador (2013)

I fell a little behind writing about 7"s I received from the Matador Singles Club last year, so I'm going to try to go through my backlog this week. I'm pretty sure I'm still waiting on 4 more records from the club, but I read somewhere that they'd be wrapped up by February. This one is by a band with a simply delightful name; Bits Of Shit.

I'd never heard of these guys prior to receiving this 7", but I guess with a terrible band name like Bits Of Shit and even worse cover art, I shouldn't have been shocked that the music is pretty bad too. The A-side "Rider" is a slow, plodding mess with a ton of unnecessary pick slides. The vocals are a bunch of yelling with no real melody to speak of.

The 2 songs on the B-side. "Lazy Cowgirls" and "Total Recoil" are thankfully faster than "Rider," but no less annoying. They are both generic, shouty hardcore-ish songs that sound a lot alike to my untrained ears. I love singles clubs, but every so often you just end up with a bunk record from the bunch. The Matador club has had some highs and some lows for 2013; we'll chalk this one up as one of the lows.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of these 3 songs online to stream anywhere, but if you gaze intently at the artwork and try to imagine what Bits Of Shit sound like, you probably wouldn't be too far off.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jawbox - Tongues 7"

Jawbox - Tongues 7" by Tim PopKid
Jawbox - Tongues 7", a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.

Dischord (1992)

To me Jawbox is an awful lot like the band Seaweed. Not really in terms of what each band sounds like, but in the way that both were pretty popular bands in the 90's that I completely blew off for some reason. With Seaweed I corrected that problem and am now the proud owner of every LP and 7" of theirs. Now I'm beginning to see that I'm going to be headed down that same path with Jawbox.

This first 7" in the collection (well aside from the Jawbreaker split that has been in the Jawbreaker section for 100 years) is Tongues. Pretty much the easiest, cheapest one to find, but man is it a good one. Two great melodic songs with dynamic guitars and a real comforting 90's vibe that just makes me so damn happy.

This is likely the beginning of a slippery slope. I have actually picked up a few of the Jawbox LPs already as well, I'll be reviewing 2 of them in the next few weeks.

Jawbox - Tongues:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ween - The Mollusk LP

Ween - The Mollusk LP by Tim PopKid
Ween - The Mollusk LP, a photo by Tim PopKid on Flickr.

Plain (2009, reissue)

As mentioned yesterday, this was a Christmas present from my wife and a mighty fine gift it is. The Mollusk represents the last Ween album that I love from start to finish. Sure, there were some good songs on albums that came after this like White Pepper and Quebec, but for my money the Pure Guava to The Mollusk run was the best of Ween.

Like 12 Golden Country Greats before, 1997's The Mollusk was another concept album of sorts. The album has something of a nautical theme to it. While only a couple of songs blatantly deal with aquatic issues, most everything has something of a jaunty feel to it. This especially rings true for my favorite song on here, "The Blarney Stone." It's as if a traditional Irish folk song was overtaken by pirates and then peppered with a rousing amount of profanity. Not only is it a highlight of The Mollusk it's one of the very best songs in the entire Ween catalog.

The quality of this release is just as good as the 12 Golden Country Greats reissue. It's on 180g vinyl, and the sound quality is top notch. Again, worth replacing your old CD if you ask me.

Ween - The Blarney Stone:

Ween - Johnny On The Spot:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ween - 12 Golden Country Greats LP

Plain (2009, Reissue)

You know that you are loved when someone cares enough about you to get you a Ween record. I received this as a gift from my wonderful wife for my birthday last month (She then scored another home run by getting me The Mollusk for Christmas, but I'll write about that tomorrow). I had been wanting this for a while, ever since the reissue came out. It was one of those records I kept putting off buying in favor of grabbing something new. I'm just glad it didn't go out of print before I got one.

This is the Ween album that came out when I was in college back in 1996. I vividly remember the first time I heard it sitting in the office of my campus newspaper. After the insanity that was Pure Guava and Chocolate And Cheese, it was kind of surreal to be listening to a straight up country record. But Ween's great lyrics and off beat attitude shine through any genre.

In addition to having some of my favorite songs on it, this record also has my all time favorite Ween joke: 12 Golden Country Greats. There are only 10 songs on the record. I don't know why, but I just think that's genius. The sound quality on this reissue is very good. The record sounds warm and full, arguably better than I'd ever heard it before. Definitely worth upgrading your CD copy.

Ween - Piss Up A Rope:

Ween - Japanese Cowboy:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dan Padilla / Down And Outs - Split 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/100)

All In Vinyl (2013)

I believe the All In Vinyl 7" series #3 is winding down with only 1 more release to come after this record. Aside from the Steve Adamyk Band 7", I was most excited about this split 7" by Dan Padilla and Down And Outs, mostly because they were 2 bands I already knew I liked. Both hit a home run with this split.

Dan Padilla has been putting out consistently strong records for years, but the first song on their side of this 7" "Why Bother" might be my favorite song of theirs yet. With a big chorus, dual vocal dynamics and their usual killer guitar work, it's just an incredible song.

Down And Outs also tear up their side of this record as well with 2 songs of sing along anthemic punk rock. It's on par with anything the band has released previously and I really need to pick up their new full length at some point. It's always tough when new records come out at the very end of the year after you've blown through your record buying budget!

Dan Padilla / Down And Outs - Split 7":