Friday, May 29, 2015

Mac McCaughan - Non Believers LP - Gray Vinyl


Merge (2015)

Non-Believers is the first solo album from Mac McCaughan of Superchunk fame.  Typically when he's experimenting outside of Superchunk he uses the Portastatic moniker, but there was something about Non-Believers that made him want to attach his own name to it. Reading interviews and website descriptions it seems that Mac considers this a highly personal work and that warranted the change up.  I'm not really concerned about what Mac decides to bill himself as on the record, my only concern is whether I like the record or not.

Frankly, it's a mixed bag.  On the handful of upbeat tracks with prominent guitars, I think it's pretty fun.  Songs like "Our Way Free," "Box Batteries" and "Barely There" showcase why Mac is respected as such a great songwriter.  They're not as loud or rambunctious as Superchunk, but they still retain the enthusiasm and melodies of his other outlet.

When Mac strays from this formula is when I tend to lose interest.  There's a good amount of synth and electronic drums and those songs just don't work for me.  Once you start into the territory of the slow, plodding "Real Darkness," I've pretty much checked out.  The other song that doesn't work for me is "Only Do."  Musically it's pretty good, but lyrically it really suffers with it's Yoda-like chorus "There is no try/there is only do."

As I said at the beginning, this is definitely a mixed bag of an album.  The songs that are great are really great.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, the bad songs are pretty bad.  As a whole, it's probably worth picking up if you're a big Superchunk fan.  You'll probably want to skip a few songs here and there though.

Mac McCaughan - "Barley There":

Mac McCaughan - "Our Way Free":

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ultimate Fakebook - Electric Kissing Parties LP


Rocket Heart (2010)

A few years ago Rocket Heart rereleased the first Ultimate Fakebook album on vinyl.  It started with a Kickstarter plan and worked its way out to an actual release.  I was a bad person and I didn't pledge any money for a copy.  A few months ago, Rocket Heart decided to clear out some stock and make this LP available for pretty much any price you wanted.  I threw down a few bucks to add it to the collection.

Though this really isn't my favorite UFB record by a long shot, it does have its moments.  Like most of the band's albums, this one is heavy on loud, beefy guitars and higher pitched vocal melodies.  Sure, songs like "Far, Far Away" are about George Lucas and there's something inherently goofy about that, but the band finds a way to make it charming and ernest.  They come off way better than you might fear after reading that they are writing songs about George Lucas.

Sure, Electric Kissing Parties really can't hold a candle to Ultimate Fakebook's masterpiece This Will Be Laughing Week.  That album was a band really hitting their stride.  Rocket Heart tried to gather the funds to put This Will Be Laughing Week out on vinyl as well, but were not able to raise the outrageous some of money needed to wrestle the rights from Sony.  It's a shame, but it really was a ludicrous amount of money they had to come up with.  Don't blame me, I pledged for that one.

Ultimate Fakebook - "Far, Far Away":

Ultimate Fakebook - "Downstairs/Arena Rock":

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dillinger Four - Situationist Comedy LP - Blue Vinyl


Fat Wreck (2015, Reissue)

This is one of those records that I bought out of habit more than anything else.  I already had Situationist Comedy on vinyl and I even already had the limited colored vinyl pressing that was on pink.  So why did I feel the need to buy it again on blue vinyl?  I'm not really sure.  

For a while I was trying to collect every variant of every D4 record, but No Idea made that pretty much impossible with the ten million different pressings of This Shit Is Genius.  I gave up on that about 4 represses ago.  I guess what it boils down to is that if you change the color of vinyl and call it a limited repress, there are some bands I'm just always going to buy.  Dillinger Four is one of them.

This is one of the stronger Dillinger Four full lengths.  Versus God will likely always be my favorite, but you cannot deny the sheer number of hits on Situationist Comedy.  From "Sellthehousesellthekids..." to "All Rise For The Rational Anthem" to the excellent album closer "New Punk Fashions for the Spring Formal," there are no shortage of fast, catchy, ball your hand into a fist and shout alongs moments on this record.

I can't say that I really needed this repress, but if this album isn't already in your collection, it's definitely a record worth grabbing, no matter what color of vinyl it's on.

Dillinger Four - "Sellthehousesellthekids...":

Dillinger Four - "New Punk Fashions for the Spring Formal":

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Mountain Goats - Blood Capsules 12" - Red Vinyl


Merge (2015)

This 12" came bundled with the limited fancy version of Beat The Champ.  It contains two songs not on the full album; "Blood Capsules" and "Dub Capsules."  It's also on blood red vinyl, which is a nice touch.

"Blood Capsules" carries over the basic theme of Beat The Champ, spinning yarns about pro wrestling.  This particular song tackles the plight of the down on his luck wrestler trying to pay the bills. "But there just isn't any money on the independent scene" as one line goes.  The story is told over a mid tempo bouncy guitar riff.  It comes off a little lighter than some of the other album tracks, but that's not a slight at all.  It's a fantastic song.

The B-side is a re-working of the song into "Dub Capsules."  I don't think I can really judge this fairly.  I'm not a fan of dub and have a hard time telling the good from the bad.  It's pretty unrecognizable from the original version aside from a few snippets of lyrics woven through the track. I would have preferred another album outtake (assuming there were any), but as this was not something I had buy on it's own, it's hard to get bent out of shape over it.  Plus the A-side is great, so that helps.

The Mountain Goats - "Blood Capsules":

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Mountain Goats - Beat The Champ 2xLP - Green and Yellow Vinyl


Merge (2015)

I've always kind of liked The Mountain Goats, harkening back to their early days when I knew them mostly from Shrimper catalogs or as part of the mid 90's tape label scene that I briefly dipped my toe in back then.  I can't say I was ever a big fan and never actually picked up any of their records.  When I heard they were going to do an entire record about professional wrestling I was immediately intrigued.  If you know me, or even if you follow me on Twitter you probably realize that in addition to collecting records and collecting toys, watching pro wrestling is one of my big three pastimes. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I ordered this record.  I can tell you that I was not expecting to love Beat The Champ anywhere near as much as I do.  The album focuses on the late 70's and early 80's territorial wrestling scene that has long been bulldozed into obscurity.  As such you'll hear songs about Chavo Guererro Sr. ("The Legend Of Chavo Guererro") and Bruiser Brody ("Stabbed To Death Outside San Juan").  

Singer John Darnielle has a real gift for telling stories in his songs and all of the scenes and characters that he's describing just leap to life.  When he's describing a match in "Choked Out" ("Two hundred dollar take all purse/half-nelson to suplex reverse") I can vividly see the everything he's talking about.  The musical arrangement range from bleak and somber to upbeat and full of energy.  It all depends on the subject matter being tackled.

You could make an argument that this is the best record of the year to date.  Worst case scenario it's top three and Beat The Champ is certainly the album I've listened to the most lately.  Lyrically, this is absolutely the best record to come out so far this year.  Even though the all of the songs are about pro wrestling, they're handled with a respect and reverie that you'll seldom see.   I think that this record can be enjoyed whether you enjoy pro wrestling or not, but if you do like it, it's absolutely a mandatory listen.

The Mountain Goats - "The Legend Of Chavo Guererro":

The Mountain Goats - "Choked Out":

The Mountain Goats - "Werewolf Gimmick":

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #7: The Sonics - This Is The Sonics LP


ReVox (2015)

The last thing I picked up on Record Store Day was definitively not a Record Store Day exclusive.  When I go to the record store on this holiest of days, I still look at the rest of the store and do some shopping.  I also picked up some clear LP sleeves, but they've proven difficult to take pictures of.

I read a lot about this Sonics record before taking the plunge.  A reunion album 50 years after their last full length? Dudes in the band in their 70's?  Seems like a recipe for disaster, but The Sonics are still more punk rock than most bands whose members are a third of their age.  The Is The Sonics simply rips from start to finish.  

The chunky guitar riffs and the howling lead vocals of Freddie Dennis are a potent combination.  Add in the Circa Now style fog horn saxophone and you'll see that there is a taste of the 60's that pepper these songs.  Don't mistake this for a throwback album though, there's a fire and intensity that can only come from guys who have had more time on this planet getting pissed off than most.

There isn't a bad song on the album and the hits are plentiful. Every time I listen to this album I pick out a new favorite.  The songs that I dig the most tend to be "Don't Need A Doctor," "You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover," "The Hard Way" and "I Got Your Number."  That being said, there really isn't a bad song on the record and it's just a joy to throw on the turntable and crank it up as loud as it goes.

The Sonics - "The Hard Way":

The Sonics - "I Got Your Number":

Monday, May 18, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #6: Masked Intruder - Incriminating Evidence 2011 Demo 7"


Red Scare (2015)

We're in murky territory again as far as this being a Record Store Day release.  It came with a Record Store Day sticker on it, but it wasn't on the official list.  I also didn't pick it up at a record store, it was available via Interpunk or through the label's website.  I can't say for sure that it wasn't available at any actual record stores, but it seems to me that the bulk were sold online.

Not that my enjoyment of the record is affected by any of that, I just question whether or not to count it as a Record Store Day release.  I decided to.  The four songs on this 7" comprise Masked Intruder's 2011 demo.  It's an interesting peak into the band before they started riding a gigantic wave of momentum that took them all the way to Fat Wreck.  

Two of the songs on this demo ("How Do I Get To You" and "Unrequited Love") wound up on the band's first full length while one of them ("I Fought The Law") was held off until the second Masked Intruder album.  I can't say any of these three songs sound that much different than the versions that ended up on their records.  They certainly not recorded as well, but the basic song structure remained intact.

One song ("I Plead The 5th") is exclusive to this 7" as far as I can tell.  Maybe it ended up on a compilation or something, but I don't have it on any Masked Intruder records in my collection.  It's a very short song that doesn't consist of much other than the repeating of the phrase "I Plead The 5th" over and over.  It's not bad, but there's nothing all that special about it and I can see why it was never really used on any of the band's proper records.

This isn't an essential 7" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a neat listen.  More than anything, it just feels like a collection completer to me.  I have the rest of their releases, so I guess I need this one in the collection as well.

Masked Intruder - Incriminating Evidence 2011 Demo 7":

Friday, May 15, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #5: Otis Redding - Otis Blue LP (Mono)


Sundazed (2001, Reissue)

One of my recent fixations lately is old records from the 60's in mono.  While I haven't broken the bank buying dozens and dozens of them, I do want to start picking up the records and artists that I think are important to me.  Though I haven't gotten around to reviewing it (mostly because I haven't made the time to take a bunch of pictures) I have the Beatles Mono Box set and I've been slowing picking up some of the old soul that I love.  One of the best is Otis Redding.

This year for Record Store Day, Otis Blue was rereleased as a double LP with one LP of the mono mix and one LP of the stereo mix.  It was $45 dollars.  Kind of insane, but I wanted it.  When I arrived down at Vintage Vinyl, it was already sold out.  While going through the non Record Store Day items, I stumbled across this.  A version of Otis Blue, in mono that was released back in 2001.  Honestly, I only really wanted the mono version anyway and this one was only $22.  Buy!

So many tremendous Otis Redding songs reside on this LP.  "Loving You Too Long," "Respect," his killer version of Sam Cooke's "Shake" and Otis' take on The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" are just the start of the list of hits on this album.  The record sounds very good and it's quite clear.  A lot of people have beef with some of the reissues that have been released over the past few years, but it's not like used versions of this record in mono are cluttering up the dollar bins.  For me, it's nice to have a good sounding, clean copy for the collection.

You could argue if I should be writing about this in the context of Record Store Day.  Sure, it wasn't one of the official releases, but I did buy it on Record Store Day, so to me, that makes it part of the haul.

Otis Redding - "Shake":

Otis Redding - "Respect":

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #4: The Saints - Eternally Yours LP - Green Vinyl


Harvest (2015, Reissue)

You can only listen to Rocket From The Crypt for so long before somebody at some point brings up The Saints.  Specifically, I've got to assume they're talking about the lead off track on Eternally Yours, "Know Your Product.  Hey, it's a really great song and it has horns, so I get it.  And to be honest, if it wasn't for reading about The Saints due to Rocket From The Crypt, I couldn't say for sure if I would have ever listened to this band.

When the complete Record Store Day list came out, I thought this reissue would be a good way to finally add this record on vinyl to the collection.  It'll be on colored vinyl and I can just grab it with my other pickups.  As I had predicted, this was one I was able to acquire much later in the day with minimal hassle, so no camping out needed. 

I'll admit it, in general I'm not as frequent a listener of 70's and 80's punk rock as a lot of people.  Not that there isn't plenty of good stuff out there and not that I don't own my share, because I do.  But I tend to spend the bulk of my time on the 90's to the present.  The thing has always struck me about The Saints is that they just don't sound as dated as a lot of bands from a similar time frame. 

The highlight is the horn accented "Know Your Product," but the album certainly doesn't die there.  Song after song of punky, slightly garage-y hits follow like "Private Affair," "Orstralia" and the cleverly titled "No, Your Product."  The whole album is rock solid though; not a dud on either side.  They did a pretty good job with this reissue, though I'll admit to not really knowing if the cover photo looks quite this blown out on an original copy.  From a music standpoint, it's absolutely worth picking up if you don't already own it

The Saints - "Know Your Product":

The Saints - "Orstralia":

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #3: The Wrestling Album/Piledrive 2xLP - Red & Yellow Vinyl


Epic (2015, Reissue)

If ever there was a record that kind of sums up the problem with Record Store Day, this is probably it.  An overpriced reissue of a record that there wasn't much demand for.  That being said, I bought it, so I'm definitely part of the problem.  As much as I can take a step back and realize this is the epitome of why some people hate Record Store Day, I just couldn't convince myself not to buy the fancy colored vinyl versions of two of the records I completely wore out as a kid.

I had both of these when I was younger, though I had them on cassette.  The funny thing about these is that the cassette versions came attached to LP covers.  It was kind of weird, but I was appreciative of the larger artwork way back when.  I'm most familiar with the first Wrestling Album.  It has all the hits.  "Real American," "Grab Them Cakes" by the Junkyard Dog and "Cara Mia" by Nikolai Volkoff.  All these years later they still make me smile as does the super wacky version of "Land Of 1000 Dances" featuring a who's who of 80's wrestlers delivering some lyrics that are quite a bit different than the originals.

Piledriver is not as fresh in my memory, so it was kind of funny listening to it for the first time in more than 20 years.  The Demolition theme song is still the best thing on this record, though I take some perverse joy in "Girls In Cars" by Strikeforce, "Stand Back" by Vince McMahon and Koko B. Ware singing "Piledriver."  The two LPs come in a gatefold cover for the Wrestling Album.  It was a nice touch having the inner sleeve for the 2nd LP mimic the original Piledriver artwork.

I'm not going to listen to this record very much.  Most of the songs on here are pretty bad.  But it is a definite slice of my child that I think is fun to revisit every so often.  Since I never grew out of watching pro wrestling, I guess it makes sense that I never really grew out of listening to wrestlers singing either.

Nikolai Volkoff - "Cara Mia":

Rick Derringer - "Real American" (You HAVE to watch this video if you've never seen it)

Rick Derringer - "Demolition":

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #2: Built To Spill - Untethered Moon LP


Warner Brothers (2015)

Releasing the new Built To Spill record on Record Store Day was a neat move I think.  It really wasn't limited (10,000 copies!), so if you wanted it, it's unlikely you had to line up in front of a record store to get a copy.  It also wasn't limited to only being released of Record Store Day, you could just buy it then first.  Plus there was the scavenger hunt aspect where 500 blue vinyl copies were randomly inserted for the Record Store Day release, though I'm a little skeptical that actually happened as not one single copy has turned up on eBay.

A new Built To Spill record is always cause for celebration and it's a nice change of pace from the reissues that tend to clog up Record Store Day.  Built To Spill has yet to disappoint me with a record and Untethered Moon is no exception.  What I can say about it is that it is not as immediately impactful as some of their other albums.  It's deliberately a slower burn and it's a record that I like more and more every time I listen to it.  Maybe it doesn't have some of the surefire pop singles some of their other albums have, but you'll be challenged trying to find another record that's so easy to enjoy from start to finish.

Built To Spill has a tried and true formula of jangled out guitar in the verse, Doug's high pitch vocals and blasts of fuzzed out lead guitar.  It's a formula that has worked for quite a while and Untethered Moon delivers more of that sort of greatness.  Built To Spill has long been one of my all time favorite bands.  It has been far too long in between albums, but you can bet I'll be listening to Untethered moon constantly to try to make up for lost time.

Built To Spill - "All Our Songs":

Built To Spill - "Living Zoo":

Monday, May 11, 2015

Record Store Day Haul #1: Leatherface - Razorblades And Aspirin LP Box Set


Fire (2015, Reissue)

This box set was hands down the most sought after record on my Record Store Day list this year.  In fact, its release was what pushed me into driving down to Vintage Vinyl so far in advance.  Until it was announced, I only had passing interest in most of the Record Store Day titles and figured I could just grab them whenever.  Leatherface made participation mandatory.

Leatherface is one of the three most influential bands I've ever listened to, their impact on my taste in music simply cannot be overstated.  Their albums are long out of print on vinyl and it took a long time for me to track them all down.  Granted, I locked down that collection quite a long time ago at this point, but you should have seen some of the wacky record stores in England I ended up digging through in the late 90's.

The Razor Blades And Aspirin box set was limited to 1500 copies overall; 500 in the US and 1000 in the UK.  I was lucky that a nice guy from Utah picked up a copy for me and sent it over at cost.  I only had to pay for the shipping.  Prior to that, I was freaking out a little bit, concerned I wouldn't get this record.  Luckily everything worked out.

The box set contains the three middle Leatherface LPs of their first run, arguably their creative peak.  It's missing their first album, Cherry Knowle, and their 1994 swan song, The Last, but that's not too surprising as Rouchneck/Fire didn't put them out originally.  All three albums are remastered and there is a download card with a bunch of B-sides and extras.  There's also lengthy liner notes written by Jack Rabid that are a fascinating read.  He really should write an entire book about the band.

The Fill Your Boots reissue sounds really good.  This was the first great Leatherface record.  While Cherry Knowle has its moments, Fill Your Boots is the first time the band truly showed what they were capable of.  The songs as a whole are a little faster and more straightforward than they would be as the band progressed, but their are several untouchable songs on here.  Fill Your Boots is a short eight song record and it feels like it flies by. Compared to the original pressing, this reissue is just as good.  Maybe a little louder, but I don't see much of a difference as far as the remastering goes.

Mush is Leatherface's absolute classic.  You could argue that it is the most perfect puck rock record ever written.  It's angry and ferocious, but dynamic and full of hooks.  Lyrically intelligent and sonically belligerent.  This is one of my three favorite records of all time and an album I encourage everyone to go out of their way to hear.  The first song, "I Want The Moon" could be the best side one, track one of all time.  Really its only competition is "Here Come The Rome Plows" by Drive Like Jehu.  The box set reissue sounds pretty good.  It's miles better than the bootleg reissue that began popping up a few years ago.  But I played the original pressing right after the reissue and to me the original still sounds brighter, more clear and louder.  The reissue is very, very good, but there's something about that first pressing that keeps it a notch above.

Minx rounds out the full length albums in this set.  The production on this album was never quite as pristine as Mush, but the songs were always equally great.  In fact, my very favorite Leatherface song, "Do The Right Thing" is from this album.  For this album, the new reissue sounds a little cleaner than the original pressing, though the difference is subtle at best.  Unlike Mush, this version is a totally acceptable replacement for having the original.

The box set also comes with a digital downloaded containing a bunch of B-sides, acoustic versions and the entire Smokey Joe and Compact And Bijou EPs.  There are some amazing songs on here, though there isn't anything previously unreleased if you'd been hunting down their singles.  For this to be the definitive boxset, there should have been two more LPs with all of these B-sides.  I do get frustrated by download only extra tracks, but at least Fire did get them out there in some way. I also don't really like the redone artwork of the individual album covers.  I'm not losing any sleep over it, but I like the originals better.

Considering how long the original pressings of these records have been out of print, it's great news that they're finally back.  I'm curious if this will remain a one off pressing for Record Store Day or if Fire will try to keep some version of it in print going forward.  While maybe not the most popular band of all time, you'd think Leatherface has enough of a following to justify keeping these records out there.  

If you don't have the originals, this box set is absolutely essential.  If you do have the originals, it still might be worth picking up. Fill Your Boots and Minx sound equally good, if not a touch better than the originals, but the Mush reissue falls a bit short.  One way or another, everyone should own these records.

Leatherface - "New York State" (Fill Your Boots):

Leatherface - "I Want The Moon" (Mush):

Leatherface - "Do The Right Thing" (Minx):

Friday, May 8, 2015

Record Store Day - 2015


Record Store Day 2015 worked out a bit differently than it typically has in the past for me.  There did end up being several things I wanted, so I decided to line up nice and early as I have previous years.  I was out on the Friday before until about 10:30.  As I was planning on being in line by about 2:30 or 3:00am anyway, I just decided to skip out on the few hours sleep and drive right down to Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ.  I arrived at 11:00pm the Friday night before Record Store Day.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I was complete shocked.  There were already about 50 people in line ten hours before the store was scheduled to open at 8:00am the next day.  From a quick scan of the crowd and my superhuman ability to determine bad music at a distance, I can tell you for sure that everyone was there for that god damn Brand New record.  I had said many times in the preceding weeks that I knew that stupid record was going to make Record Store Day too much trouble.

I am absolutely willing to put in my time to get the records I want. Never once have I ever complained about Record Store Day or the fight to get what you want.  All part of the day if you're up to participate.  But what I'm not willing to do is sit in front of a record store for ten hours 50 people back.  There's no way to know if I would get the records I want.  I'm sure most of the crowd in front of me wasn't after what I was, but I was not willing to sit there that long and put that much of my time into it.  So without even getting out of my car, I just pulled back out of the parking lot and went home.

The following morning was spent trolling vinyl message boards, watching eBay and doing everything possible to wheel and deal to get the records I wanted without paying through the nose.  Then later on in the day I went back down to Vintage Vinyl and was able to pick up a couple of the lesser in demand records that I had correctly assumed would still be hanging around after the initial flurry.  All in all I managed to track down every record that I wanted with the exception of one.  I ended up spending a grand total of $18 more than retail for all of the records combined to accommodate postage and a one record being a few dollars more on eBay.

The only record I wasn't able to find and still haven't gotten is the Against Me 7" that was released.  It's on eBay for around $30 but I'm not willing to drop that on a 7", at least not right now.  Especially since it's just two versions of the same song that's already on the last full length.  So if anyone happens to have one or knows of anywhere to get one and want's to sell at a low price or trade it to me, please get in touch.  Starting Monday I'll be posting reviews of this year's record store day haul.  A good amount of money was spent, but I also did get a few pretty great records.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe - Music From The Television Series CD


La-La Land (2015)

You'll be hard pressed to find someone that clings to the nostalgia of their childhood more than me.  As I write this I'm surrounded by Shogun Warriors, Battle Beasts, Wheeled Warriors and other assorted action figures that took up many hours of my youth.  When I heard about this He-Man soundtrack being released, I knew I had to pick it up if for no other reason that it would be a great companion piece to my Art Of He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe book that just came out.

On a positive note, this CD is extremely complete, sans one bizarre omission.  They're found every single possible chunk of synth soaked pretend orchestra music that could have possibly ever aired on this show.  We're talking one hundred and eleven tracks spread over two discs.  Main Title Theme with the triumphant "He-Man" shouted? Sure - 2 versions of it.  Main Title with no vocals? Got it.  Main Title with Spanish vocals throughout the entire song? Why not!  Amazingly, the one version of the Main Title that isn't on this CD is the one actually used in the show with the dialog explaining the backstory.  How that isn't on here is beyond me considering how packed this thing is.

If you're looking for a completists archive CD, this is for you.  If you are looking for a fun record to pop on and listen to, I'm not sure this is going to help.  This CD is so freaking long.  It's over two hours between the two discs.  Most of these musical pieces are just rehashes of three or four key themes.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times the Main Title Theme is recycled into these other tracks.  Sped up, slowed down, played happy, played's king of nuts and it becomes a chore to listen to after a while.

I wish this CD had been out when I was in college doing my radio show or even a few years ago when I was doing a podcast.  There's tremendous bed music opportunities on this disc.  But to just sit down and listen to it?  After a while it just feels like a chore.  Just buy the Art book instead, that thing is incredible.

He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe - Main Theme:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beach Slang - Broken Thrills LP - Split Color Splatter Vinyl (/100)


Big Scary Monsters (2015)

Technically, I have already reviewed the music on this LP as it is comprised of the first two Beach Slang 7"s.  Though you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of the 7" format than me, there's certainly something to be said about the convenience of having all of these songs on one LP.  If nothing else, it certainly makes it easier to pop on without having to get up from the couch so many times to flip the record.

I enjoy these Beach Slang songs just as much, if not more, than I did when the 7"s first came out.  I stand by my belief that the singer reminds me an awful lot of the guy who sang in Tugboat Annie.  The more I listen to these guys, the more I hear elements of Knapsack as well.  Maybe Beach SLang isn't quite as polished and they certainly don't yell as much as Knapsack, but I feel like both bands are trying to convey similar feelings.

The band is working on their debut full length for Polyvinyl right now.  You can bet that I'll be preordering that guy on day one. 

Beach Slang - Broken Thrills LP:

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Good Shade - S/T LP - Yellow Vinyl (/200)


Gut Genug (2015)

Even though this record is brand spanking new, I've actually spent quite a bit of time with these songs.  I first became aware of them as a digital only Bandcamp download.  It's one of the dudes from Tight Bros, so you can bet I grabbed that instantly.  I was really hoping for a proper vinyl release so when Smellhound Records announced it and tossed up a preorder, I was on that immediately as well.  Time went by and Smellhound no longer was part of the equation, but at long last the vinyl is here courtesy of Gut Genug records.

Good Shade are playing high energy, fast paced, super catchy punk rock.  They have some similarities to Tight Bros for sure and if you enjoy The Marked Men or Chinese Telephones, this record is essential to add to your collection.  The lightning quick downstroke guitar strumming blasts into big sing along choruses.  The vocals have that slight coating of fuzz that enhances the song, rather than try to hide the singer's voice.  Simply put, Good Shade has crafted a phenomenal album 

I really can't say enough great things about Good Shade.  This is hands down one my favorite records of the year so far and honestly you're a fool if you don't go grab this right away.  It's just a tremendous record.

Good Shade - Good Shade LP:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Modest Mouse - Strangers To Ourselves 2xLP


Epic (2015)

This will wrap up Modest Mouse Monday for at least a couple of weeks I think.  Though I have two more reissues ordered, they're coming from the UK and haven't shipped yet.  It's unlikely they'll arrive before next Monday, but I guess we'll see.  The last few weeks of Modest Mouse reviews have been building towards their new album, Strangers to Ourselves.  I wouldn't call it my favorite of all Modest Muse records, but I still like it quite a bit.

I've read some very odd reviews of this album the past month or so.  It seems that a lot of music writers are surprised by the fact that Modest Mouse put out a record that sounds like a Modest Mouse album.  I can't say that I really know what they were expecting, but if you typically like Modest Mouse, I have a hard time seeing how you wouldn't like Strangers To Ourselves as well.

It starts off with a super strong one-two punch, beginning with the slower, string accompanied title track "Strangers To Ourselves."  It's a gradual builder and I think it works great as an album opener, gently bringing you back into the world of Isaac Brock and company.  That leads to the bouncy, explosive and easily my favorite song on the record, "Lampshades Of Fire."  To me, this is just a quintessential fun Modest Mouse song with lots of strong drumming and "ba ba ba's" to go along with Isaac's trademark yelped vocals. 

The album isn't perfect, as shown by perhaps the worst song that Modest Mouse has ever written "Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)."  The one dimensional drum beat doesn't kill the song, but the vocal inflection that Isaac chooses to deliver the lyrics with is, for the lack of a better word, simply stupid.  I can't fathom what sort of fever dream would make someone intentionally sing a song like this.  It's just terrible.  I'm also not a particularly big fan of "The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box."  This song has too many sound 1980's sounding effects for me.  It's a throw back to an era where I think the worst music was made.

Still, these are two missteps on an otherwise very strong record.  I can't see this being to sort of record that will win you over if you don't like Modest Mouse already.  But if you are a fan, I also can't really see how you would have all that much to complain about.  Modest Mouse made a Modest Mouse record.  What else did you expect them to do?

Modest Mouse - "Strangers To Ourselves":

Modest Mouse - "Lampshades On Fire":