Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Johnny Cash - American II: Unchained LP


American (2014, Reissue)

This is the album that turned me into a Johnny Cash fan.  Prior to hearing it, I don't know that I had ever given much thought to him at all.  In my mind he was probably just some old country singer, but after hearing Unchained my opinion was forever changed.  In 1996 I was writing at my college newspaper, mostly doing album reviews but also a handful of interviews when a band came to town.  When I opened up the mail one day I saw that I had been sent the new Johnny Cash record by the label.  I'm not sure that even then I would have really paid that much attention, but there was one thing that made me immediately put the CD into the player.

The first track of Unchained is a cover of "Rowboat" by Beck.  It's one of my favorite Beck songs and in 1996, I was a pretty gigantic Beck fan (I still am, but the pre-Odelay stuff has always been my favorite).  Cash's take on Rowboat is a baritone filled somber affair.  I won't say that his voice elevates the song, but it changes it and gives it a different meaning to me.  I'm not going to be the first person to say that Johnny Cash has a unique ability to make a song his own, but I will reinforce it.

The rest of the record is equally great.  The Soundgarden cover "Rusty Cage" is probably one of his more famous covers and deserves all of the accolades heaped on it.  "Sea Of Heartbreak," "I Never Picked Cotton," "Solitary Man" and "I've Been Everywhere" are all stone cold classics.  I love every one of the Johnny Cash American albums, but Unchained was my first and will probably always be my favorite.  Having this record on vinyl and the vinyl sounding so ridiculously good makes my record collection feel just a bit more complete.

Johnny Cash - "Rowboat":

Johnny Cash - "I've Been Everywhere":

Monday, March 30, 2015

Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West 2xLP - Split Color Vinyl (/1000)


Glacial Pace (2014, Reissue)

Even though this was the album that really put Modest Mouse on the map, I still wasn't following them at all when this record first came out.  I do have vivid memories of seeing it sitting around in record stores, but I never wanted to buy it.  I thought I knew Modest Mouse and was pretty confident that I did not like them.

After changing my mind on the band in the early 2000's, I went backwards and added The Lonesome Crowded West to my CD collection.  The vinyl was hopelessly out of print and even though I had finally come around to Modest Mouse, I certainly wasn't about to pay the insane prices that the vinyl version was going for.  At its peak I'd seen it for $300 - $400 and I just don't like this record that much.

For years there were rumors about this reissue and when it finally was announced last year, I jumped at the chance to grab the wacky limited colored version from Newbury Comics.  Sure it was a few dollars more than the black vinyl, but I am just a complete sucker for split colored vinyl.  I think it came out looking great.  They kept the two sleeve layout of the original version and they did a decent job of matching the vinyl colors to the artwork.

Musically it was silly of me to have written off this record before I ever heard it, but I've had over 10 years of this being in my CD collection, so I have had a chance to make up for lost time.  I'd argue about whether or not this is definitely the best Modest Mouse record, but it is very, very good.  It still has the ramshackle feeling of their first release, but they were absolutely becoming a more polished band at this point.  Maybe they weren't writing full on pop songs yet, but you could tell that they were growing as musicians and songwriters.  It's a record that still sounds pretty fresh even though it's nearly twenty years old.

For Modest Mouse Monday next week, I'll be going over The Moon And Antarctica.  That's the Modest Mouse record that finally brought me on board.

Modest Mouse - "Teeth Like Gods Shoeshine":

Modest Mouse - "Polar Opposites":

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Colonies - S/T Cassette (/100)


Self Released (2014)

On several occasions over the years I've mentioned that one of the best current bands going is Rumspringer.  I've tried to do my best to keep tabs on them so I don't miss out on any of their records and in doing so I came across the band New Colonies, featuring Wes from Rumspringer.  You can insert my usual 'I'm not really big on tapes' comment here, but I will say that when a band puts out a limited run cassette as their first release, that doesn't really bother me much at all.  If anything that just seems like how it's suppose to happen.  Feels like the 90's to me.

Anyway, where I think Rumspringer tends to follow the sounds of west coast, Crimpshrine style punk rock, New Colonies is taking a very different path.  I would put the songs on this much closer to a Leatherface, Manifesto Jukebox or I Excuse kind of loud, raspy voiced attack.  You can hear a lot of the Frankie Stubbs influenced palm muted riffs and New Colonies manage to weave those riffs into giant choruses and big hooks.

I will admit to being a complete sucker for this sort of thing.  Leatherface is not only one of my favorite bands in the world, but they've influenced so many of my other favorite bands as well.  This is the sort of music that really clicks with me and I cannot wait to hear more from New Colonies.

New Colonies - S/T Cassette:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Metronome The City - Isonomia LP (& 720° 7")


Self Released (2015)

A fellow record collector that I had met through the wonderful world of Rocket From The Crypt variants sent me this LP & &".  I'm not sure of his exact connection with the band other than he likes them a lot and they play out around the New Orleans area.  One, I'm always happy to listen to a new record and two, I always give a fellow Rocket fan more of my attention than your average Joe on the street.  In addition to the band's full length, he also sent over a 7" where they cover music from the video game 720°.

We'll start with the 7" as it's my preference of the two.  I spent a lot of hours playing 720° in the lobby of the Ground Round that my dad used to take us to when I was a kid.  I vividly remember the wacky joystick that could only move in a circle and furiously trying to get as many spins out of it as possible when jumping.  I also logged in a good amount of time with the Nintendo version when that arrived a few years later.  It was interesting hearing the band's interpretation of the music.  It was very faithful and not unlike the Minibosses in some ways.  However Metronome The City's bag of tricks goes a bit deeper and the addition of some synth sounds just sounds great.

I was not as into the songs on their full length.  I can't say they are really all that different from the 720° soundtrack.  It's instrumental rock with synthy flourishes and technical playing.  You can tell they are all very talented musicians and they create some really interesting soundscapes that could fit right in with the video game music of the 80's.  I don't want to say I don't like it, because that isn't true, but I don't have the connection to their original tunes the way I have a link to the 720° soundtrack.  It's video game music for a game that doesn't exist and maybe I just need the gameplay to go along with it.

I do think that a lot of folks would like this, especially if you are into instrumentals more than me.  If you dig bands like The Minibosses or The Advantage, you really should at least check out a few songs on their website.

Metronome The City - Isonomia (3 Songs):

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Johnny Cash - American Recordings LP


American (2014, Reissue)

During the holidays it's nice to get some records as gifts, but considering the type of music I mainly listen to, it can prove difficult to list off anything that is readily available at major retailers for family to grab.  This past year, when all of the Johnny Cash American Recordings reissues came out, they seemed to be perfect gifting ideas.  I put the four that I didn't have the original pressings of on my list, and now they're in my collection.  I'll get through all four over the next few weeks.

When the first American Recordings album came out in 1994 I can't honestly say I was paying much attention to Johnny Cash.  Though I know this is the record that made him relevant again, it's not really something that entered my little world way back when.  It was American Recordings II where I came on board, but I'll write more about that some other time.  I did, of course, backtrack and pick up this album a long time ago, but I had just grabbed a used CD.  

It is such a wonderful record and I would never question why so many people loved it.  It's borderline perfect.  The entire record is just Johnny, his guitar and some songs.  The gigantic and epic sound he's able to make on this album with so few tools is more than anything to the powerful voice of Johnny Cash.  He owns each and every one of the performances in this record.  Songs like "Deliah's Gone, "The Beast In Me" and "Like A Soldier" are so impactful and just feel important. 

The other bonus is this pressing sounds phenomenal.  Everything is crisp and clear.  I've honestly never heard these songs sound any better.  The odds of anyone reading this review and buying the record based on what I say about the songs of Johnny Cash are pretty slim.  Most everyone knows who he is and already knows if they like him or not.  But what I can say is this pressing is absolutely worth picking up.  If you don't have the album at all, it's essential and while I don't have an original pressing to compare the reissue to, it sounds amazing and may even be worth an upgrade.  Maybe not though, I've never heard the original.

Johnny Cash - "Deliah's Gone":

Johnny Cash - "The Beast In Me":

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dan Sartain - Romance In Stereo LP - Clear w/ Pink Splatter Vinyl (/25)


Shed House (2014, Reissue)

A few months back I wrote a lengthy piece about the Shed House records reissue of this LP.  I had drawn the conclusion that I didn't like the way the rarest variant was being bundled as it was only available for a hefty price tag.  I decided to just buy the most common version direct from Dan Sartain and be done with it.  I was a bit bummed as Dan is one of my favorites and I had been trying to acquire as many of his variants as I could, but I couldn't justify the cost.

My patience paid off big time.  My pal @charles1981 sent me a message the other day saying that he found both the test pressing of this album as well as the splatter variant for sale at a store by him.  He kept the test pressing and sold me the splatter for a silly low price.  Now this record is finally in my collection and I didn't have to pay through the nose to get it either.  Thanks Charles!

As I've mentioned before, the record itself is just stellar.  Hearing the early rough Dan Sartain recordings are what really elevated him to be in the upper echelon of my favorites and having Romance In Stereo on vinyl is such a treat.  I may not have totally agreed with the pricing breakdowns that Shed House employed, but I absolutely applaud and thank them for bringing this amazing record to vinyl.  

Dan Sartain - Romance In Stereo:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Modest Mouse - This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About LP - Silver & Blue Haze Vinyl (/1000)


Glacial Pace (2014, Reissue)

Modest Mouse has a new record out this year, plus they've gone on a pretty extensive reissue campaign over the past few months.  As I didn't really have any Modest Mouse vinyl, I figured this would be a good time to start picking up everything else since it's the first time in decades most of this has been readily available.  So, for the next few weeks, we'll have Modest Mouse Monday.

I'm going to do the records chronologically and first up is This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About.   I can't say this has ever really been my favorite Modest Mouse album.  I'll admit to not really getting that into the band until they had released The Moon And Antarctica.  That was the first record that really made me pay attention to this band and I think part of that may have been that I found their earliest music a little underwhelming when I had first heard it.

I can go back to this record now with fresh ears and I was wrong to completely dismiss it.  There are moments that are very strong.  Songs like "Breakthrough," "Novocain Strain" and "Exit Does Not Exist" are obviously great songs and real standouts on this record.  But there are a few too many long, slow songs that I don't think have quite as many interesting ideas in them as the band was able to produce in later years.  It's a good record, but I just don't think it will ever get quite as much play from me as the rest of their catalog.

The pressing itself is very nice.  I paid the few extra bucks and ordered my copy from Newbury Comics.  Their version was limited to 1000 copies and the exclusive was the blue and silver haze vinyl.  I think it looks really sharp and completely matches the artwork, so even though it was a little more expensive than the black vinyl, I think it was worth it. Additionally, it sounds fantastic.  I don't have an original pressing to compare it to, but I think this reissue sound great and it's worth picking up if you've been on the fence. 

Modest Mouse - "Breakthrough":

Modest Mouse - "Novocain Strain":

Friday, March 20, 2015

No Knife - Riot For Romance LP


Day After (2002)

This is another record that I have been after for quite some time.  Though I wouldn't call it exceedingly rare, I have had a difficult time finding it at a decent price.  Typically when these things end up on Discogs or eBay, people seem to think this is a $50 record.  Then it tends to go unsold.  Finally one of these popped up on Discogs for about $20, and that was my price point to add the vinyl version of this to the collection.

Riot For Romance was the last No Knife album and you could make the argument that it was the worst of the four.  But using the word 'worst' is kind of silly as even though this album may not have been quite as perfect as some of the band's other records, it is still a pretty fantastic album.  No Knife's entire discography is extremely strong and every album is borderline essential to have in your collection.

The way the band is able to layer guitars and shift the dynamics of songs, even within the same song at times, has impressed me to no end.  Few bands can go from a loud booming guitar part and so seamlessly segue into a quiet, bass driven mathy breakdown.  To me the album is really held down by the standouts "Riot For Romance," "The Red Bedroom" and one of my all-time favorite No Knife songs "Permanent For Now."

With a gun to my head, I probably say Fire In The City Of Automatons is my favorite No Knife record, but Riot For Romance is no slouch either.  I'm thrilled to finally add it to the collection and I certainly wouldn't mind if the band decided to start putting out some new records. 2002 is way to long ago at this point.

No Knife - "Permanent For Now":

No Knife - "Riot For Romance":

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Zonaea - Apocalypse Beach 12" - Clear w/ Splatter Vinyl (/75)


Zoo & A Movie (2015)

Let's start off talking about the thing that I first noticed about this record when I opened up the package that was sent to me, the artwork.  It's a tremendous set up.  I see a lot of artwork for bands that press super limited amounts of a record, it usually looks pretty cheap and flimsy.  Not so with Apocalypse Beach.  The screened cover looks great, the splatter vinyl matches the artwork nicely and they even include a CD in it's own little matching cardboard slipcase. Kudos for a nice layout.

I had not heard of this band prior to them sending me this record to review and I'm pretty impressed by it.  Six songs (Five original and one Sebadoh cover) of quiet-then-loud indie rock.  I really prefer when Zonaea leans towards the quiet end of the spectrum as they remind me of Pinback in places.  They have a way of weaving together intricate muted guitar parts with soft spoken vocals that are very Rob Crow-ish.  

On the other side, the band isn't afraid to get a little loud and screamy, sometimes with mixed results.  At times the vocals mixed with the loud guitar parts ends up sounding a bit like Faith No More to me.  It's an interesting little EP and certainly worth heading over to their Bandcamp page to give a listen to.  Not sure if it's an immediate must buy, but it's pretty good.

Zonaea - Apocalypse Beach 12":

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Eliot Pride - Warm Blood 7" - Red Vinyl


Self Released (2014)

I'll admit it, when it comes to records sometimes I'm a bit of a judge-a-book-by-its-cover kind of guy.  I don't mean to be, but there are times where I get a record in the mail, particularly one sent to me for review, and survey the landscape I tend to pretty much know that I'm not going to like it.  When I opened up the package that this Eliot Pride 7" was in and took one look at the dude on the cover with his acoustic guitar, illuminated by the streetlights of a cold dark city, my expectations were set pretty low.

I'm happy to say I was wrong.  While I wouldn't go so far as to say I love this 7" and everyone should go buy it right away, it's significantly better than your average guy with a guitar release.  In particular, the title track "Warm Blood" is very strong.  While it doesn't have quite as much of a breakneck, ramshackle sort of feel as Slim Cessna's Auto Club, I hear similarities between the two.  There's a lot of country and alt-country that sounds forced and labored to me, "Warm Blood" has an authentic quality to it makes it far more memorable than most.

The rest of the 7" isn't quite as strong.  The other three tracks are mostly just Eliot Pride and his acoustic guitar with no backup band.  Even these three are fine though.  It's a good little record and if your tastes lean more towards the alt/punk/country/thing, you'll probably like it even more than I did.

Eliot Pride - Warm Blood 7":

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RVIVR - Bicker And Breath 12"


Rumbletowne (2014)

RVIVR is one of the few bands I'll forgive for committing the mortal sin of having a band name that's missing vowels.  Thank goodness for that lone "I" holding things down in the middle.  Discounting any silly feelings about bands that overuse the missing vowels gimmick, RVIVR has been one of the most reliable punk rock bands releasing records over the past few years.  They started off strong with a few 7"s back in 2009 and you could really make the argument that they continue to get better with each new release.

Bicker And Breathe is no exception to this rule.  If you wanted to say this is the best batch of RVIVR songs yet, I couldn't really find too many reasons to disagree with you.  The songs are all packed with this contagious enthusiasm and energy,  The first three songs in particular are all fantastic, hit after hit.  Heavy on big hooks and fast, catchy music.  The male/female vocal dynamic really makes this band something special as each vocalist compliments the other and both sound stronger as a result.

The fourth song, "The Sound," slows things down just a bit and gives the band a moment to catch their breath, but it is just as well written and dynamic as the trifecta that open this EP.  The very last track, "Bicker/Breathe," is the only one that I find doesn't live up to four before it.  I think it's a little too straightforward and feels a bit out of place sitting next to four of the band's very best.

RVIVR hasn't let me down yet.  So often my favorite album by a band tends to be the first one of theirs that I hear.  RVIVR is one of those rare groups that just improves with every new song and every new idea.  I hope they keep making tons of record going forward.  If they all continue to improve at this rate, their next full length is going to be a real doozy.

RVIVR - Bicker And Breath 12":

Friday, March 13, 2015

Suspicious Beasts - Never Bloom LP


Alien Snatch (2013)

This record kind of got lost in the shuffle.  Even though I was not on top of things and didn't order it right when it came it in 2013, I have had it sitting in my record pile for a solid three or four months before finally getting to it today.  I ordered this when I saw it for sale at an online distro that I was buying some other records from, so I missed out on the limited colored vinyl version that could have been mailordered direct from Germany.  

Never Bloom is the second album from Suspicious Beasts. While I don't think these guys are making music quite as good as some of their previous bands (The Urchin and Three Minute Movie), that's a pretty high water mark to try to live up to.  Never Bloom is a very strong garage rock record.  It's poppy in the right places and they manage to employ a little psych into things without it becoming overbearing and annoying.  It's a fun energetic record and although I could do with a bit less distortion on the vocals (I see this becoming a more frequent complaint of mine) I really like it.

I actually think it's even better than their first album Used To Be Beautiful.  Where Used To Be Beautiful was a little boozier and looser, Never Bloom seems more focused, more upbeat and a lot tighter.  There's a lot of garage-y bands out there in the world right now.  This deluge is creating a glut of mediocre records.  Never Bloom stands out from that pack and is definitely worth grabbing if you see it.

Suspicious Beasts - "With The Devil":

Suspicious Beasts - "Who Wants To Buy My Soul"

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dharma Dogs - Drown 7"


Kitschy Manitou (2012)

It's been really wacky to see the uptick in the number of records people are sending me to review.  I'm not sure exactly why this started to happen all of a sudden.  It's not a complaint, but I'm curious what changed to make people want to start sending me things.  This 7" is a bit of a weird one.  It's from 2012.  I'm not sure why the person who sent it decided to send me a three year old record.  Not that I'm against that or have any sort of rules about how recent a record is before sending it, but it's a little unusual to receive a record that's not a current, brand new record.

Dharma Dogs is an odd little band.  The three songs on this record are all somewhat dark and the band had managed to really wack out the guitar sound on the record.  It's got a swampy, muddled tone that makes the songs tend to bleed into each other.  On top of that there's some pretty angry sounding yelling and wailing by the main vocalist.  I'm not really into this sort of thing.  I typically need a bit more melody than Dharma Dogs are providing me on this record.

For it's genre, I guess it's OK, but there's almost never going to be a time where I want to listen to this sort of music.  It always comes across to me like a bunch of dudes yelling and presumably flailing around on stage during a live show and that's just not my thing. Oh and label folks, I'm probably not going to do a full review of that Tiny Daggers cassette.  I didn't really like it and you probably know how I feel about tapes. We'll see, I'll hang on to it and maybe I'll get to it during a slow week.

Dharma Dogs - Drown 7":

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Supercrush - I Don't Want To Be Sad Anymore 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Debt Offensive (2015)

This was a record sent to me to review, but I couldn't even tell you how excited I was when I picked it up from the post office.  The number of records people have been sending me to review lately has been increasing, but the number of good records I've been getting is a debatable topic.  I think I can say that this Supercrush 7" is the best record I've ever been sent to review.

That probably has a lot to do with the fact that I already knew and liked the band's first 7".  This 7" was on my radar, but I've been trying to cut down a bit on the number of one off 7"s that I buy by themselves.  With the postage, it just makes for an expensive deal sometimes.  This means I'm occasionally (and I stress occasionally) missing out on colored vinyl or running the risk of just forgetting about the record.  I'm very thankful Debt Offensive sent this over to me as it would be a shame to miss out on this one, plus the fact that they hooked me up with the colored vinyl version makes it even better.

Supercrush is playing the kind of laid back, pop leaning alternative rock that I just loved back in the 90's.  You can hear bands like Poole, The Merrymakers, The Wannadies and maybe the quieter moments of the Doughboys in these songs.  Sure, that's kind of a rogue's gallery of failed major label bands (I'm in America, not Canada - Doughboys never really got big here), but all of those bands are near and dear to my heart.  Supercrush is doling out the kind of warm, gigantic guitar tones with stellar melodies that can't be beat.

This 7"s is one of the best, if not the best I've heard all year long.  It's worth going out of your way to get and I'm hopeful that Supercrush is working on more records as we speak.  I would particularly love to hear a full album's worth of material from this great, great band.

Supercrush - I Don't Want To Be Sad Anymore 7":

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Him Kerosene - Start. Stop. CD


Telegram (1997)

I wouldn't say I'm breaking the rules of my own website, but I'm going to bend them here a little bit.  When I write about a record, I only write about new records that I've bought recently.  I don't go diving into the archives because I'm not really documenting my entire collection, only the new things I am adding to it.  I've had a copy of this Him Kerosene album since the late 90's, so it's not really new.  But I just bought a second copy.  I'll use that as an excuse to write about this record because more people deserve to hear it.

Start. Stop. is one of my top ten favorite records of all time.  I've said numerous times that I think Him Kerosene are the most under appreciated band that have ever walked the planet.  In a perfect world, they would have been one of the most famous bands there was, but they just ended up being something of an obscurity.  This album was released on Telegram records, a subsidiary of Warner in Sweden.  From what I can gather, it was released and then quietly faded away.  I'm not sure if it ended up being the equivalent of a Fig Dish caliber used bin band over in Sweden, but these CD's didn't really make it to America.  

I received my original copy from Magnus, the drummer from the band Starmarket and the guy who ran a record label called Chalk Sounds for a while.  I have just cherished this record ever since.  I never see copies come up, so when one recently appeared on Discogs from a seller in France, I grabbed it.  That's how important this record is to me, I just felt that I had to have a back up copy in case something ever happened to my original.

The music on this little silver disc is some of the best I have ever heard. Giant, dynamic, insane guitar work highlights Him Kerosene.  They have an incredible way of weaving a tapestry of noisy riffs out of two amazingly talented guitarists.  The rhythm section is a powerful force, keeping the band grounded while the guitar chaos is swirling around them.  In that regard I see some similarities to how The Pixies operated, but I wouldn't say the two bands sound alike. 

The vocals on this album are what elevate it to the highs it reaches.  Niklas Quintana's higher pitched, pissed-off-Doug-Martsch sounding voice, layered on top of this storm of music is simply a perfect combination.  Just listen to a few moments of "Untied" or "Neutrino" or "Whatever Gets You By."  Start. Stop. is an absolute classic.  It is one of the best records ever released in the history of mankind and it is the number one record that I'm begging someone, anyone to rerelease on vinyl.  It deserves so much more than to just be a forgotten album, hiding in a used CD section in some forgotten record store in Europe.  This is an album that should be celebrated.

In a tragic turn of events, I can't find most of the songs on this album streaming anywhere online.  Only "Whatever Gets You By."  It's a tremendous song, but I don't think it is representative of the fast paced energy of the rest of the album.  It's the song that is closest to being this album's ballad, if you could use that word to describe any song on this record.  It does look like the album is available on iTunes and some other online download services, so if you can't find a copy of the record anywhere, it's certainly worth a download.  You wouldn't find me willing to pay for an electronic version of an album often, but this is one time that I would if there were no other option.

Him Kerosene - "Whatever Gets You By":

Monday, March 9, 2015

World's Fair - Leisurely LP - Blue w/ White Splatter Vinyl (/100)


Rok Lok (2015)

I love 1990's indie rock.  It's just one of my absolute favorite things and one of the easiest ways to get me to check out a record is to tell me it reminds you of Archers of Loaf.  That's what happened with the band World's Fair.  I read an Archers comparison online and immediately bought the record.  While I'm still not sure that Archers are the best point of reference for this band, I'm glad I picked up Leisurely.

Reading that last paragraph, it should come as no surprise that World's Fair's music does in fact lean towards 90's indie rock.  While they do have some of the fuzzy guitar flourishes of Archers of Loaf in general I think they lean more towards the Built To Spill side of the spectrum.  An even more accurate comparison would be to the first Yuck record, I think.  Whatever bands you want to reference, World's Fair is playing dynamic, intricate indie rock with no shortage of hooks and catchy melodies.  There are a couple of songs that go a little too far down the distorted vocal path for my personal taste, but that isn't how every song is recorded.

Overall, it's a very strong record, one that I've found myself repeatedly going back to over the past few weeks.  I think 2015 has started off a little slow as far as the number of new records that have come out that I'm into, but with band's like World's Fair on the list, at least the quality level has been quite high,

World's Fair - Leisurely LP:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

MAKO1972 - Cannonball Lecture 7" - Pink Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2015)

I've been singing the praises of the Snappy Little Numbers label for a bit here on this little website.  They've been putting out some great records lately by smaller, but incredible bands.  I'll admit it though, I was pretty surprised when I popped this guy on the turntable.  While the label has made a name for itself (with me anyway) for some solid, poppy indie and punk, MAKO1972 is a little slice of some dissonant, noisy chaos.

Despite my obvious pop leanings, I can get down with the occasional loud and noisy band if they're doing something interesting.  All you need to do is look towards my Drive Like Jehu or Blind Shake albums.  While MAKO1972 may not be quite at that level yet, this 7" is a fun listen.

A side "Cannonball Lecture" is a fast, screaming, intense ripper.  The lead guitars on the verse are intricate and dynamic, coupled with some intense shouted vocals.  They build into a huge chorus where the guitars somehow manage to get even louder.  B side "Even Ghosts Perish" is the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  It's significantly slower and more deliberate with subdued vocals compared to "Cannonball Lecture."

Considering that this 7" doesn't really play directly to my personal tastes, the fact that I think it is pretty good should say something about the quality of the songs.  If your tastes favor the noisier end of the Dischord catalog (my tastes always lead me back to Trusty), I imagine you'll like this record even more than I do.

MAKO1972 - Cannonball Lecture 7":

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hysterese - S/T LP - White Vinyl (/100)


Dirt Cult (2015)

As always, I trust the taste of the fine folks over at Dirt Cult records almost unconditionally.  While I don't buy every single thing they put out, I feel like I pick up an awful lot of their records, and with reason.  Especially in the world of catchy punk rock, their tastes line up with mine just fine.

Hysterese is a band from Germany that I hadn't really heard much about, but the description of their record in Dirt Cult's upcoming releases updates had me intrigued, so I decided to grab it.  I am so glad I did as this is a real powerhouse of an album.

It's an interesting mix of styles as the band manages to incorporate elements of the Marked Men's two thousand mile an hour guitar riff insanity with a more intense tone.  If you need another frame of reference, the band that I hear the most similarities to is Sedatives (minus the organ).  It's a darker, serious punk album that doesn't shy away from big hooks. The alternating male/female vocals really give the songs a massive impact as the combo creates a huge, powerful sound.

Top to bottom this is simply a great record.  If you can get into bands like The Estranged, Red Dons or Hot Snakes, this is record that should really be in your collection.

Hysterese - S/T LP:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Low Culture / Iron Chic - Split 7" - Orange Vinyl (/200)


Dead Broke / Dirt Cult (2015)

I love a good split 7" and when you team up two bands like this, well I guarantee you that I'll be picking it up on day 1.  Both Iron Chic and Low Culture have been cranking out fantastic records for a bit and neither one has let me town yet.  On this split, rather than have each take a side, both the A side and B side have a song by each band.  I'll break it up by band for the sake of the review though.

The first of the two Iron Chic songs is "L'espirit de L'escalier."  I can't say this is my favorite Iron Chic moment that's come around.  It's built around a one hundred mile an hour galloping drum beat, the exact drum beat that tends to drive me crazy whenever any band uses it.  There's a few nice breakdowns, but in general I think the song is just so fast it ends up being a little one dimensional.  That being said, their second contribution "Subhumanoid Meltdown" is incredible and showcases everything I love about this band.  The tempo is slowed down and the band really hits it's stride with a huge chorus that begs you to scream along with it at the top of your lungs.

Low Culture is just so damn great.  Their two songs on this 7" could be some of their best to date.  I really hope these guys are working on a new full length very soon.  Their first song "Not A Machine" is a punchy blast of garage-y guitar and pop hooks.  Just outstanding.  Somehow, their second track "Oh Jazelle" is even better.  A little slower, but even catchier than "Not A Machine."  I think Low Culture is an hugely underrated band, everything they've touched has been absolute gold since they started up.  If you don't have any of their records in your collection, this split is a pretty great place to start.

Low Culture / Iron Chic - Split 7":

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mad Doctors - Snake Oil Superscience LP


King Pizza (2014)

I'm still in the process of going through this little stock pile of records that people have sent me to review.  It's a good thing I have them as it's been kind of a slow start to the new year for new records coming out that I want to buy.  A lot of times when someone sends me a record, I have no idea why they sent it and at times I question if they have ever read anything on my website.  I can't say for sure, but The Mad Doctors are much more up my alley than the typical band-I've-never-heard-of records that occasionally show up at my door.  I get the feeling that someone involved with this band or record label might actually read this website every so often.

The Mad Doctors are playing a version of 60's influenced garage rock.  Their guitars are absolutely soaked in reverb and tremolo, giving the band a vintage, but otherworldly sound.  There are strong hooks, interesting guitar leads and a good showing of energy that makes Snake Oil Superscience an easy record to pop on the turntable for a spin.

My major criticism of the band is that I really don't like the way the vocals were recorded.  Based on the type of music they are playing and the general tone of the entire record, I'm sure the vocals were an aesthetic choice.  I am, however, a little sick of the super fuzzy, recorded-in-an-abandoned-cave-somewhere vocal effect. I think the songs are strong enough to stand up to cleaner production and not be hidden behind a wall of static.

This certainly isn't the best or most original album I have ever heard, but it's definitely one of the better records that someone has mailed to me to check out.  Due to my issue with the vocals, I'm not sure that this is the sort of thing that I'll end up playing that often, but if garage rock is your thing, specifically if you like some scuzzy vocals, The Mad Doctors are worth checking out.

The Mad Doctors - Snake Oil Superscience: