Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wilson Pickett - The Exciting Wilson Pickett LP


4 Men With Beards (2006, Reissue)

Wilson Pickett has long been one of my absolute favorite musicians.  I was first clued into his music through The Blues Brothers.  They were the starting point of so much of the music I would end up listening to.  But also, my dad had the Wilson Pickett song "Funky Broadway" on a mix tape that he used to play when I was a kid.  I just feel like his music has always been around.  I have a few Wilson Pickett CDs and Best of's, but this is the first piece of wax I've picked up.

And picking it up was easy as it was part of a heavy reduction sale blowout thing that Insound was doing.  I think it only ended up being $7, so I can forgive the slightly bent corner on the cover.  The record sounds great as this is obviously a high quality reissue and the packaging is sturdy and sharp.  Not for nothing, I really miss album covers like this.  Bands need to bring this style back again.  It just looks so classic.

As far as the music goes, you just don't get much better in the 60's soul department than Wilson Pickett.  The lead off track "Land Of 1000 Dances" is so phenomenally good, I based all of the music at my wedding off of that one song.  Everything had to tie back to the mood it set.  But this is not a one song album.  Each and every track on here is a smash hit from "634-5789" to "In The Midnight Hour," Pickett is just untouchable.  I'm definitely thrilled to have this in the collection and I'm absolutely going to be hunting down deals on the rest of his records.  They all deserve a home.

Wilson Pickett - "Land Of 1000 Dances":

Wilson Pickett - "In The Midnight Hour":

Monday, September 29, 2014

Superdrag - Head Trip In Every Key - Clear Vinyl (/1500)


Side One Dummy (2014)

I consider myself fortunate that so many 90's albums that I like are being reissued on vinyl for the first time these last few years.  The mid 90's were that stretch of time where lots of bands ended up on major labels that you wouldn't expect, and then those major labels never produced vinyl versions.  After hearing about how Sony pretty much held the Ultimate Fakebook record hostage from an indie that wanted to release it on vinyl (making that indie attempt a Kickstarter with such a ludicrously high goal; it was never actually going to get funded), it's nice to see that Elektra is playing nice with Side One Dummy so I can have these Superdrag records on vinyl.  Though let's be clear, I wont be satisfied until someone releases the Alligator Gun record 100percentfreak on vinyl.  It's a crime no one has stepped up to the plate.

While I loved Superdrag's debut, Regretfully Yours, I can't say that I really ever spent the same amount of time with Head Trip In Every Key.  My buddy Alan really liked it, but for some reason I just never listened to it all that much.  Hearing it again all these years later is pretty crazy.  It really is a great record.  It's definitely not as instantly catchy as regretfully yours, but that's not to say that this record doesn't have its share of hooks.  Head Trip In Every Key is a progression forward and a more mature sounding album, but Superdrag never gives up on what brought them to the table; big choruses and great guitar work.

The 2 x LP gatefold packaging came out great.  Side One Dummy did a really stellar job bringing this record to vinyl for the first time.  It's limited, but not ridiculously so.  Still, if you have interest in this, you may want to grab it sooner than later.

Superdrag - "I'm Expanding My Mind":

Superdrag - "Do The Vampire":

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pool Party - Born To Lose 7"


It's Alive (2014)

I didn't actually order this 7", but it was thrown in with a batch of LPs I got from It's Alive Records.  I'm still working my way through those LPs, but I figured I'd give this freebee a spin to see how it is.  It's not all that good really.

I like pop punk, I really do.  It's not cool, it's a dinosaur of another era, but it's always been something that I like.  That being said, I don't like boring generic pop punk.  You need to be doing something interesting to keep me hooked.  Super clever lyrics, good production, interesting riffs...these are all things that I like.  Sadly, Pool Party employs none of them.

I knew from the moment the first song "Born To Lose" started up that this was probably going to be average since they immediately break into the same chord progression used on the Squirtgun song "Social" and about ten thousand other songs.  We then move on through 4 songs worth of 3 chord uninspired pop punk.  The lyrics aren't so good either.  I think they're trying to be witty; but it's not really working out.

This is a rare misstep for It's Alive record for me.  I'm digging all of the LPs I ordered and going back many years I've bought an awful lot of records from them.  But Pool Party is destined to be filed away and either not listened to again or sent away to someone else if I end up mailing out some records.

Pool Party - Born To Lose 7":

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Failures' Union - Tethering LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2014)

As I've said a lot lately, you can really count on a few labels and Dead Broke is absolutely one of them.  Even the band appears to have been around for a bit, this record is my first time hearing Failures' Union and I picked it up pretty much exclusively because I tend to buy just about everything Dead Broke releases (Except for the occasional yell-y/shout-y record).

Right away I'm reminded of the band Nude Beach, maybe with not quite as pronounced of a Tom Petty influence.  But this is good, honest, somewhat rootsy pop rock.  A lot of people like to call Leatherface a working man's punk band and while I certainly wouldn't say that Failures' Union is making similar music, I get that same sort of vibe from them.  This is music for the everyman, just solid guitar interplay and passionate, clear vocals ringing through each song.

It's a great listen and one that makes me curious about the band's other records.  I may have to start digging backwards to see what else these guys have come up with.  Just more records to add to the never ending list of things to buy I guess.

Failures' Union - Tethering:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Blind Shake - Seriousness LP - Red Vinyl


Learning Curve (2011)

Depending on when you discover a band for the first time, it can often be a dangerous thing delving further back into their discography.  Sometimes you uncover some real greatness, but at other times you're just left digging through some half baked records by a band that just hadn't put the pieces together quite yet.  I first heard of The Blind Shake when my buddy @swamipat made me buy the Garbage On Glue 7" while we were record shopping in Chicago.  Not only did I love that, but their next full length Key To A False Door was one of my favorite records of last year.

So, now begins the march backwards through their catalog, starting with their 2011 LP Seriousness.  While I'm partial to Key To A False Door, this record is another ripper.  The band has a way of channeling noisy chaos into these perfect songs.  They're deceptively catchy, but the thing that really shines through is their energy.  I just really believe they love cranking out this mess.  

Like the band Heavy Times, on the surface it doesn't really make sense why I like The Blind Shake as much as I do.  They're way more noisy and blown out than I typically go for, but there's something uniquely special about these guys that just makes me obsessed with their records.  With another new album coming out this year on Goner and a couple of more old records to go through, it looks like I've got some work to do to get caught up.

The Blind Shake - Seriousness:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beck - Looking For A Sign 7"


Fonograf (2014)

This is a Beck record that I never thought I was going to get.  It was originally only sold at the merch booth of a tour he did of Australia in 2012.  Since that tour, I've yet to see one on the secondary market.  I'm sure it's been sold, but I haven't seen it.  I just figured it was one that I'd have to move on from.  It wouldn't have been the end of the world as I'm far from having the complete Beck collection I was sporting in the mid 90's, but as the 2 songs were acoustic, it stung.

Well, lo and behold, without warning, Beck threw up some copies of this on his webstore.  At $15 bucks a pop and some unreasonably expensive shipping, I can't help feel a little bilked.  But, I bit my tongue and ordered it.  They must not have lasted too long as they're gone from the store now.  So while I have a problem with Beck setting such a steep price, the truth is I probably would have paid even more for this on eBay due to how scarce it was.

Oh, the music? Both songs are great. Slow, somber, sad Beck.  They both could work easily on Mutations, Sea Change or Morning Phase.  I believe both songs are on other compilation albums, but for me, it's nicer to have the 7" in the collection.  I'm not letting Beck off the hook completely about the cost, but hopefully the money is at least going direct to him instead of some label or other third party nonsense.

Beck - Looking For A Sign:

Beck - Corrina, Corrina:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Plow United - Delco 7" - Gray Vinyl (/250)


It's Alive (2014)

Of all of the 90's bands that have reunited, Plow United is the one that I may secretly be most excited about.  Sure, a new Rocket From The Crypt or Bum record would blow my mind, but Plow was always the closest thing to a great local band that we had when I was younger.  Yeah, they're from Pennsylvania and I'm in New Jersey, but they played so many of the shows around here that it's hard to not think of them as one of ours.  I mean, if I don't claim Plow, who am I going to claim? Bigwig? No thanks.

The Delco 7" is the first record since their fantastic Marching Band LP from last year.  To me, the production was a bit tighter on Marching Band and that gave those songs more of a biting edge.  I think as a whole the 4 songs on Delco sound a little softer in comparison.  Maybe things just sound a bit more relaxed, but the songs themselves are still as great as ever.  Well, the 3 main ones anyway as lead off "That Was Awesome" is pretty much just a 45 second intro/throwaway.

Once the start/stop guitar riff of "All For You" punches in, this 7" just flies by.  Impassioned vocals and dynamic drumming are Plow United staples and they're in full force here as well.  If you like Plow, you're crazy not to pick this up.  If you're new to them, I don't know that this is the absolute best place to start.  I'd grab last year's Marching Band LP or my favorite album of theirs, the recently rereleased Plow II LP.

Plow United - Delco 7":

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Yolks - Kings Of Awesome - White Vinyl (/100)


Randy (2014)

It's been 5 years since the last Yolks record and in that 5 years I've probably listened to that debut a hundred times.  This leads me to my first question. Why so sad Yolks?  On Kings of Awesome, The Yolks have eased way off of the accelerator and have turned in a much more mellow album.  While it's still very good and the songwriting has improved, I kind of miss the pedal to the metal barrage of hooks that made up their first album.

Kings of Awesome is absolutely still influenced by the sounds of the 60's.  But unlike their debut, which was a call back to some of the simple garage bands of yore, Kings of Awesome takes a much more soulful approach.  The production is much cleaner, the guitars less fuzzy and the hooks more subtle.  You'll never deny that a song like "I Want Your Number" is a toe tapping hit, but it's not as immediate and attention grabbing as I was expecting.

Things continue on the B-side, which consists of three 5+ minute long songs.  Two of them are organ soaked instrumentals and the other is a 6 minute long cover of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say."  It's flat out great and one of the highlights of the record, but it is probably a bit longer than I personally need it to be.  I think they could have accomplished the same thing in 4 minutes.

I imagine that if you're reading this, you probably think I don't like this record.  That's actually not true at all.  I enjoy it quite a bit and if this were the first thing I had heard from The Yolks, I would have nothing but positive things to say.  But it's so much different from their first record I can't help but get caught up pointing out the differences.  It's absolutely worth checking out and picking up, just know that you're in for something new.

The Yolks - Kings of Awesome:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Supercrush - Lifted 7"


Grave Mistake (2013)

Man, everything about this record is so perfectly 90's alternative rock.  I love it.  From the artwork, to the music, to the back cover photo of the band, to the name Supercrush.  If they were trying to make me pay attention, they succeeded, even if I'm a little late to the party.

I stumbled across Supercrush going through one of my favorite distros, looking for that one last 7" to push me over the edge to qualify for free shipping.  When I saw the name Supercrush and saw the picture of the record, I figured it was something worth taking a chance on.  Turns out I was right as both songs are that perfect upper mid tempo rock with gigantic guitars and hooks.  I'm actually most reminded of Dear You era Jawbreaker, but the really pop songs on that record.  Others may hear a bit of Swervedriver or other 90's era shoegaze rockers, but I find Supercrush to be much more straightforward, even if they retain some of the same sensibilities.

I can't imagine a better record that I've purchased just to qualify for free shipping.  Though this came out last October and there doesn't seem to be anything else happening with the band, I really hope that this wasn't a one off.  I want a full album from these guys desperately, so I hope they're working on it now.

Supercrush - Lifted 7":

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Young Leaves - Alive and Well LP - Blue w/ Gold Haze Vinyl


Baldy Longhair (2014)

Alive and Well is a record I have really been meaning to pick up for quite some time.  I have been a big fan of The Young Leaves since their great album Life Underneath came out on the equally great Drunken Sailor records a few years back.  But, for one reason or another, I just kept putting off buying this record.  Finally, when I was perusing an Insound vinyl blowout sale, I stumbled across The Young Leaves on their list and snatched it up right away.

You probably can't really see from the picture I took because it's subtle, but the vinyl is pretty cool looking.  It's dark blue with just the slightest traces of gold mixed in.  Though It's not the rarest variant, it's probably the coolest looking one if you ask me.  

Musically, The Young Leaves pick up right where they left off.  Big, hook-filled guitar pop songs that lean towards the Dinosaur Jr.s end of the indie rock spectrum.  Vocally I'm reminded quite a bit of the Swedish band Starmarket and I think that The Young Leaves also manage to capture similar energy in their songs.  Whether it's one of their slower, more straight-forward tracks like ""There Was A Ghost Inside Of Me" or one of the faster, dynamic ragers like "Drowning Pool" or "Holliston,"  the songs are just soaked in a contagious enthusiasm.  Translation; they're just really catchy and a lot of fun to listen to.

I regret taking so long to finally pick this record up, but I assure you that I'm going to spend some quality time with it on my turntable to make up for that.

The Young Leaves - Alive and Well:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun LP


RCA (2014)

There's something just so gosh darn comforting about getting a new Weird Al album on vinyl.  Talk about an instant gateway to my childhood.  The Blues Brothers and Weird Al practically defined my earliest musical memories.  The fact that Al is still around and putting out new records and remaining relevant to the next generation is just remarkable.  The fact that this record debuted at number one on the Billboard charts was also really cool, even though that certainly doesn't mean what it once did.

As far as the record goes, I have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to the more modern Al records. The problem is I have no idea what songs he's parodying any more.  I was kind of aware of the "Blurred Lines" song because I saw it performed on the Colbert Report and I think I heard it in Sears once.  That being said Al's "Word Crimes" version is simply genius.  Lyrically, he's at a level so much higher than the rest of the entire world.  The other parodies are all a good time, even if I don't know the originals.  The song about tin foil in particular is really funny.

He also has a song called "Tacky" which is a parody of that "Happy" song I've heard in car commercials.  Lyrically great, but musically that's a pretty annoying song.  As always Al's originals are top notch and they still feel like a little slice of his music from the 80's to me.  My favorite being the guitar focused rock song "My Own Eyes."  And par for the course, Al has a Polka medley and as usual is one of the album highlights, though again, I don't recognize 3/4s of the songs he's doing on this one.  Maybe I'd be in better shape if I spent more time hanging out and listening to the music they play at SuperCuts.

Who would have thought that 28 years after I bought my first Weird Al record, I'd still be buying new ones.  I'm thrilled he is still releasing records and even more thrilled that his record label saw fit to give it the vinyl treatment.

Weird Al Yankovic - "Word Crimes"

Weird Al Yankovic - "Now That's What I Call Polka":

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Games - Little Elise 7" - Gold Vinyl (/150)


Hozac (2014)

I feel like it's been an unusually long time since the last Games full length, though that just may be time slipping by faster as I get older.  That being said, I've been eagerly waiting the band's follow up and it finally arrived as the Little Elise 7" limited to 150 gold vinyl version on Hozac.  Hozac puts out a lot of records.  Some I love, some being a bit too scuzzy for my personal taste, but I always enjoy getting the gold vinyl version in the mail when I do order.

The Games 7" picks up where their full length left off, though I will say the guitars sound a bit fuller and more pronounced than last time.  To the band's benefit.  A-side "Little Elise" has a vocal melody in the verse that's eerily similar to "California Girls," but it's not a carbon copy all the way through with its call and response bridge that builds into a chorus complete with all of the "aahhhs" and "ooohs" that I'm looking for in great pop music.

B-Side "About Me"is another bouncy pop song to add to Games' catalog of hits. The jangle on the guitar is turned way up along with some fun lead guitar noodling going on through the chorus.  Both songs are excellent and I can only hope it's not as long of a wait to hear what Games comes out with next.  Hopefully it's a new full length.

Games - "Little Elise":

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Jackhammers - S/T 7"


S'Not (2014)

What we have here is your basic "1-2-3-4" cave man punk rock.  Some fellows banging on their instruments and putting their music out into the world.  Though I can't say that this would always be up my alley, The Jackhammers are much better than your average band trying to pull this sort of thing off.

Hailing from Glasgow, The Jackhammers are not going to win any awards for the production on this record.  The vocals are way up front in the mix and at times it hides the music of the band.  They've definitely got chops.  You can tell they're pretty tight and they're putting together some good riffs, but the vocals kind of obscure that at times.  However, when the band is really humming along, they capture an energy that can be lost with overly glossy production.

For me the best song is probably "Count Me Out." It's super fast paced and catchy, but (I hate to harp on this) the vocals are awfully loud and I think the band would benefit greatly from some volume adjusting next time they go back for more recording.  This 7" definitely shows promise, The Jackhammers just need a little fine tuning.

The Jackhammers - S/T 7":

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gold-Bears - Dalliance - White & Green Vinyl


Slumberland (2014)

I'm back from my end of summer vacation and I've made some adjustments to the website as well.  Nothing major, just a bit of a redesign with some new graphics.  Let me know what you think.  We'll start off the fall season with a quintessential summertime record, the new LP from Gold-Bears.

I thoroughly enjoyed the last Gold-Bears record, so I was pretty keen on this new one coming out, but I was not prepared with how much better this band had gotten since their last album.  Everything I loved about their debut has somehow gotten even better.  The songs are faster, the melodies are sweeter, the hooks are catchier and the production is perfect.  

Gold-Bears remind me a little bit of The Thermals at times, but without the barbs and with a ton of vocal harmonies added in.  Songs like"Yeah, Tonight" and "Memo" are two of my favorites but the cream of the crop is "For You."  I just love the interplay between the guitar and the vocals.  The riff holds down the song, while the lyrics just soar over everything.  

Again, I really liked the band's debut, but Dalliance is practically perfect.  If the year ended right now, there's no way this is not in the top 5 best records to have come out in 2014.

Gold-Bears - "For You":

Monday, September 1, 2014

Steve Adamyk Band - Dial Tone LP - Black Vinyl and Gold Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2014)

I don't usually do any new reviews on a holiday, but I'm making an exception today.  I will however be taking a website vacation for the rest of the week.  I'll be back writing again on Monday September 8th.  However, I couldn't take my break without writing about the new Steve Adamyk Band record first.

If you asked me who are my favorite newer bands of the last 10 years, I will immediately answer Mrs. Magician and Steve Adamyk Band.  These 2 groups have been releasing some of the best music I've heard and even though I wouldn't necessarily call them similar, they both have mastered the art of crafting perfect records.

Steve Adamyk Band is pretty much the best popped out punk rock band going.  They have the catchiest choruses and the most contagious energy of just about anyone.  I'll take the Pepsi challenge and put them up against any band playing catchy punk rock.  No one can hold a candle to these guys.  Steve & co. are just the best at it.

Their new album Dial Tone is more of the same greatness I've come to expect.  When you have such high expectations for a band, it's easy to wind up being disappointed when you finally hear their new record, but the Steve Adamyk Band hasn't let me down yet.  Even though I find some of the levels on Matt Melton's production a little uneven on a couple of tracks; the songs here are just so god damn amazing it really doesn't matter how they were recorded.

From the blazing high speed anergy of "Crash Course in Therapy" or "MRI" to the more mid tempo, crammed full of hooks "You're The Antidote" (my favorite song on the album) or "Mirror Ball" it's just smash hit after smash hit.  Somehow, the Steve Adamyk Band is able to release a new album and a handful of singles pretty much every year, yet they still manage to put out just about nothing but amazing songs.  I honestly don't know how they do it.  I'd be hard pressed to think of a band that's so prolific, but so incredibly consistent in the super high quality of their songs.

I've long had a huge soft spot for Canadian punk rock and Steve Adamyk Band is just another reason why I tend to say they make the best rock in the world up there.  Dial Tone is absolutely one of the very best records that has come out this year.  No record collection is complete without everything they've put out.  And if you're like me, that means more than one copy of quite a few of their records...

Steve Adamyk Band - Dial Tone: