Tuesday, June 30, 2015

John Wesley Coleman III - I Feel Like A Sad Clown 7" + Windian Box Set - Clear Vinyl


Windian (2015)

With its sixth record, the Windian Singles Series #3 box set really goes out with a bang.  As with everyone in this series, this is my first time hearing John Wesley Coleman III and once again, I like what I hear.  Although I had heard of him before, this is my first time actually listening to any of his music.  Windian has done a pretty tremendous job gathering all of these bands together. While they all bring completely different things to the table, they also have a cohesive enough sound that it makes perfect sense to have them all in the same set.

The first band that comes to mind when I put on this Coleman 7" is W.H. Walker.  A side "I Feel Like A Sad Clown" is a bass driven party song.  Despite feeling like a sad clown, Coleman manages to really bring a ton of energy into this bouncy, catchy track.

B side "I Found A Home" is a bit more straightforward, but still every bit as fun and exciting as the flip side.  With its lead keyboard line and howling chorus, I can't help but be impressed by this record.  It's pretty remarkable that Windian gathered all of these great bands together.  Rest assured I will likely be buying additional records by almost every single one of them in the future.  Well, provided they put out more records.  I've got some digging around to so.

John Wesley Coleman III - "I Feel Like A Sad Clown":

Monday, June 29, 2015

War Party - Teenager On Drugs 7" - Clear Vinyl


Windian (2015)

Round five of the Windian Singles Series #3 brings us War Party.  I think that some folks would probably dismiss this as a bit gimmicky, but I really like this 7".  It may be my favorite of the bunch when it comes right down to it.

The A-side "Teenager On Drugs" is a straight up 50's style doo wop rocker.  It's not so much an homage or an interpretation of a doo wop song, so in that way it differs quite a bit from what Mark Sultan is doing.  This is a tried and true formula with the soaring backing harmonies and storytelling lead vocals that you'd expect from the genre.  It's just such a fun and refreshing thing to hear these days.  

Then the B-side "D.R.U.N.K." flips everything on its head and is completely different from the song that preceded it.  With its searing organ the song reminds me a bit of "Gimme Some Lovin'" by Spencer Davis Group, though it's not quite that triumphant.  It does bring War Party into the 60's and shows off a dirtier rock vibe than they were showing on "Teenager On Drugs."  I think it's impressive to hop from one sound to the other so effortlessly and I really dig this record.

 War Party - "Teenager On Drugs":

Oh, and Dan from the Vinyl Score podcast did a little interview/conversation thing with me a few months ago that he's put up to listen to on his website.  We talk about this website a little and Rocket From The Crypt a lot.  You can listen to it hear if you like:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Church Bats - Foreign Land 7" - Clear Vinyl


Windian (2015)

We're getting deep into the Windian Singles Series #3 box set at this point. Single number four is by a band called Church Bats. Another new to me band and another fun surprise out of this series.

Starting off with the A-side we have "Foreign Land." It's a full throttle, no nonsense rock and roll force.  We're talking old school, caveman hitting a log with a stick, repeating guitar chords and howling in a cave vocals.  It all works tremendously, giving the song a real intensity and energy that pours through the speakers.  Needless to say, I dig this.

On the B-Side the band puts forth "Half Man, Half Shellfish."  Despite its excellent title, the actual song isn't quite as exciting as you'd hope.  It ends up being a pretty straightforward instrumental number.  Nothing bad, nothing amazing; it's just there.  I think on an album, it would give a nice break hanging out towards the end of the first half.  As a standalone song on the 7", it's going to be compared unfairly to the killer A side.

All in all, another fun 7" out of Windian and I've got two more to go.  I'm going to try to get the next one done for tomorrow, but I may not be able to until Monday.  Regardless, you'll see it soon.

Church Bats - "Foreign Land":

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Platinum Boys - Candy 7" - Clear Vinyl


Windian (2015)

Rather than having to start every review this week the same way, let's just get one fact out of the way.  I hadn't heard of any of the bands in this year's version of the Windian Singles Series.  For the prior two, there had always been one or two heavy hitters that prompted me to buy the set.  When Series #3 was announced, I hemmed and hawed about buying it at first.  When Windian put up some of the songs on Soundcloud, it was Platinum Boys that made me jump up and immediately add the box set to my cart.  I trust Windian, so I figured if I liked one of the bands that was enough to earn my cash.  Then I just hoped for the best with the rest.  Luckily, they've been pretty good so far.

Platinum Boys are playing some awfully catchy guitar pop.  In particular the A-side "Candy" is built off of a bouncy riff and slightly fuzzy vocals.  The verses are built around that tried and true 60's or 70's era description of meeting a girl who was "18 with an attitude."  Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but songs about 18 year old girls sure sound a lot weirder than they did when I was high school.  Though I guess 'the kids' probably don't want to listen to tales about folks in their late thirties.

The B-side "Wild Child" slow things down a little bit, but Platinum Boys still keep the energy up.  There's some excellent lead guitar riffage in this one and the songs has something of a classic rock feel to it.  Normally I would probably use that description as an insult, but Platinum Boys make it work and the song is actually a great compliment to the A-side.  I'm definitely a big fan of this 7".

Platinum Boys - "Candy":

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DD Owen - Violent Pacifier 7" - Clear Vinyl


Windian (2015)

Round two of the Windian Singles Series #3 brings us DD Owen.  Like yesterday's 7", I can't say I was familiar with DD Owen before putting this record on and let me tell you, this thing knocked me on my ass when it started up. 

A-Side "Violent Pacifier" starts up with some extremely distorted guitar wailing.  I'm not enough of a gear head to be able to accurately describe what sort of effects are being applied to the guitar to make these noises, but the best I can do is say that it sounds like a guitar from outer space.  This coupled with the choppy vocals that have thick echo and distortion on them give the song an otherworldly feeling.  And this is the catchier of the two songs.

On the other side is "Setting Fire To Your Loft."  More insane guitar noises, more effect laden vocals and more aggressive than the first song.  I don't think I could go so far as to say I really like either song and I'm not sure that this is a 7" that I'll be spinning with much regularity.  But I do like some variety in my singles clubs.  You don't want a bunch of records that all sound the same.  DD Owen isn't really for me, but they certainly stand out from the pack.

DD Owen - "Violent Pacifier":

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Seeers - Without Lites 7" - Clear Vinyl


Windian (2015)

The Windian Subscription Series has been one of my favorite things the last few years.  As it is I'm a sucker for a good singles club, but with Windian you get the records all at once and in a fancy little box set as well.  I'll take a picture of the box on Friday, but I'm starting off today with the first of the five 7"s in the set.

I can't say I had ever heard of The Seeers prior to listening to this record, but that's exactly what I like best about a singles club.  Any chance I have to check out some new bands from a label I trust is a chance I'm going to take every time.  Kind of like how I used to buy tons of compilation albums back in the 90's.  Of course, I just read that this 7" is the band's debut release, so I suppose that could have something to do with me being unfamiliar with them.  Anyway, this Seeers 7"s is really great.  A-side "Without Lites" is upbeat and poppy with lots of vocal harmonies and shimmering lead guitar in the chorus.

On the flip side is "In Jail. On My Mind, In A Prison..." which is slightly more aggressive and a bit faster than the band's other song.  The guitar riffs are a bit dirtier, but the softer vocal melody provides a nice contradiction and keeps the song rooted in pop.  Both of The Seeers' contributions to this record are real eye openers.  I really dig both songs and this is a band I'm going to have to keep an eye out for in the future.

The Seeers - "Without Lites":

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Warm Soda - Symbolic Dream LP - Ketchup & Mustard Splatter Vinyl


Castle Face (2015)

When last year's Young Reckless Hearts came out, I was a bit let down by Warm Soda.  While there were certainly some good songs, I felt that there was something major missing from that record.  I think it may have been the recording as the band just sounded zapped of their energy.  I was hopeful it was an anomaly and things would be back on track with Warm Soda's third album, Symbolic Dream.

Not only has Warm Soda righted course and improved upon their last album, Symbolic Dream is arguably the best record they have made yet.  The punchy songs and smooth vocals have returned with some of the bands finest songs.  From the first few seconds of album opener "I Wanna Know Her" you can tell that the band is on point.  The album is littered with pop hits, great guitar leads and some simply wonderful choruses.  

I'm kind of over the whole splatter vinyl craze personally.  I find that most of them just end up looking kind of ugly and have very little to do with the album artwork.  You certainly cannot say that about the red and yellow ketchup and mustard split color vinyl of Symbolic Dream.  Not only is it a cool looking take on a tired concept, but it perfectly matches the album art,so the band gets points for that as well.

Everything about Symbolic Dream is an improvement from the last Warm Soda record.  Its near flawless execution has shot it right up to the top of my favorite albums of the year list and is really only battling one other record at this point.  There's a lot of 2015 left to go, but rest assured this Warm Soda record will end up being one of the very best things you'll hear this year.

Warm Soda - Symbolic Dream LP:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Daddy Issues - So Hard 7" - Clear Vinyl


Punk Fox (2015)

Another record from Punk Fox arrived in the mail for me to review.  I'll give them credit, they sure are pumping out a steady stream of 7"s.  The latest from them is by a band from North Carolina called Daddy Issues.

In general it's a decent enough record.  The songs are both light, breezy surf pop tunes.  The female vocals match up nicely with the gently strummed, fuzz-free guitar.  The drumming is appropriately minimal and the bass just coasts along keeping everything together.

Lyrically, I'm not feeling this quite so much.  The ladies in Daddy Issues aren't big on metaphors and the songs are pretty much exactly about what their songs titles suggest: "So Hard" and "Sex On The Beach."  At the end of the day, it's still a fun little 7" and may be worth picking up if you're into something mellow and surfy.

Daddy Issues - So Hard 7":

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Blind Shake - Fly Right LP


Slovenly (2015)

I'm stuck in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to The Blind Shake.  I really dig these guys, so I keep buying their records whenever they're released.  The problem in that is I have a difficult time describing them.  Whenever I take to this website to try to describe them, I feel like I can never really articulate why I think they're one of the best bands going.  Just rest assured, this is another top notch release from the second best band in Minnesota (though I think Dillinger Four should really put out a new record if they want to keep that crown).

Fly Right is another example of The Blind Shake's mastery of the guitar.  Few bands can wield an axe quite like The Blind Shake and they tear through the album's nine songs with a focused, intense fury that is something to behold.  From the straight up fuzzed out opener "Tar Paper" to the slowed down, surf tinged "A Clock, A Window, A Pyramid" to the jagged lead guitar riff on "Holy Road" this is a band that's at the top of their game.  And those are just the first three songs on the album.

There are a few surf inspired in Fly Right and the band is a natural fit for this sort of thing.  I'm not sure if this release was recorded before or after the band's collaboration with Swami John Reis for the Modern Surf Classics album, but this album strikes me a something of a companion piece.  Either as a band ramping up to the surf album or perhaps taking the influence of those surf songs into an album of their own.  Regardless, Fly Right is simply a hell of a record.

The Blind Shake - Fly Right LP:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pale Angels - Imaginary People LP - Clear Vinyl


Recess (2015)

We live in a world where it is just so easy to hear new bands and consume albums.  Try before you buy is the norm and it would be hard to argue that's a bad thing.  That being said, I often practice my record buying as if I was still in the 90's.  I am constantly buying records that I read a decent review  for or someone recommends to me without listening to the whole thing first.  Usually I'll try to sample at least one song, but I'm still very much of the mind set that you should take chances with your record buying.

Most of the time, it works out pretty well for me.  The vast, vast majority of these records end up being just what I wanted.  However, every once in a while I manage to land a real stinker.  Enter Pale Angels.  I saw this pop up as a new Recess records release.  They're a label that I tend to trust and the description sounded pretty good.  Plus I was able to listen to one song that I liked so I grabbed it.  I wish I could figure out what the one song I had listened to prior to ordering this record, because I sure can't find it now.

While this album certainly isn't terrible, I don't really like it at all.  The songs all kind of just drone on and on.  There's a few faster ones that aren't so bad, but even those aren't particularly exciting. The vocals are scratchy and kind of scuzzy, but not in a good way.  They just end up sounding like the singer is bored and can't be bothered to enunciate.  

Often on this website I write about how much I like a band with a real 90's sound.  Well, Pale Angels fit into that category a bit, but I'm mostly being reminded of all those bad grunge bands that I didn't like in high school.  Hey, I can't pick a winner every time.

Pale Angels - Imaginary People LP:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Clearance - Greensleeve 7"


Microluxe (2013)

This is the second Clearance 7" I picked up.  Honestly, I bought everything they had for sale on their Bandcamp page as soon as I was made aware of how great they were.  Greensleeve picks up where their first 7" left off with more phenomenal Pavement inspired indie rock and roll.

As I mentioned yesterday, the thing that really makes me love this band is the casual effortlessness they project in their songs.  Everything just sound so natural and relaxed.  Talk about a band for the summer.  All I can picture when I listen to these songs are lush green landscapes and indie rockers having picnics.  I know that sounds odd but it's a compliment, trust me.

Every song on Greensleeve is as good if not better than anything on Dixie Motel Two-Step.  As the bar was set pretty high by their debut, Clearance certainly proved that record was no fluke.  My only complaint is I waited too long to find these guys and missed out on the colored vinyl version of this record.  If you happen to have one lying around for whatever reason, please get in touch.  Again, my highest possible recommendation for both 7"s.  I eagerly await their debut full length which is hopefully coming soon..

Clearance - Greensleve 7"

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Clearance - Dixie Motel Two-Step 7" - Blue Vinyl


Microluxe (2013)

I was clued in to this Chicago band from my good friend @swamipat.  He's the mayor of Chicago as far as I'm concerned and he's brought a few really great bands to my attention.  I hope that I've returned the favor for him at least a couple of times.  Clearance is another stellar recommendation from Pat.

It would probably be physically impossible to write a review of Clearance without mentioning Pavement.  Pavement is so obviously a major, major influence for Clearance and it really shines through on the four songs crammed on to this 7".  If you're going to wear influence like this on your sleeve the way Clearance does, Pavement is a pretty good band to be inspired by.  While they're absolutely not a carbon copy, they take me to that same place when I listen to this record.

Breezy, mid tempo pop that comes across so completely natural and effortless.  I'm sure this band works and practices just as hard as any other band, but they have this disarming ability to sound like they just happened to be wandering by a recording studio and spat out four nearly perfect songs on a whim.  They're relaxed without delving into psych tinged nonsense.  Catchy without succumbing to the obvious hook and intelligent without making you feel stupid.  

It's a marvelous balancing act and my biggest regret is that this 7" has been floating around for 2 years and I wasn't listening to it already.  Luckily I'm on board now and there's more Clearance coming in the future.  Highest possible recommendation if you're a sucker for 90's indie rock like I am.

Clearance - Dixie Motel Two-Step 7":

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Purple 7 - Jewel Finger LP


Self Released (2014)

You may be impressed by the pedigree of this band as it features members of hot shitters like Landlord, Hot New Mexicans and Defiance, Ohio.  It's fine to be wowed by this credentials, but what you should really be impressed by is the actual record that these folks have managed to put together.  I received Jewel Finger out of the blue in the hopes that I would review it for this website.  As long time readers know, typical submissions tend to run the gamut from 'eh' to 'meh.'  In contrast, Purple 7 is quite good.

The label that is hosting the Bandcamp stream of this album is called Basement Pop and that's a pretty accurate description of what's on this record.  Kind of jangly and kind of fuzzy, but still catchy and structured.  The songs have a vaguely rootsy feel and reminds me a bit of Modern Machines or maybe Nude Beach.  Not quite so heavy on the Tom Petty worship and somewhat more ramshackle, but definitely a similar vibe.

They deftly weave from punchy ragers like "All The Dogs" into more laid back tracks like "Jewel Finger."  The album never sounds choppy and always flows very naturally from one song to the next.  It's a true album in that regard, not just a mish-mash of songs thrown together.  As you can probably tell, I like this album quite a bit and it has turned out to be a nice surprise.  And bands or labels putting out records this good, please flood my mailbox with albums to review.

Purple 7 - Jewel Finger LP:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sanhose - π Japanese CD


Snuffy Smiles (2015)

I've said it before and I'll say it every time I have the chance to write about something that comes out on this record label.  It's still a thrill all these years later to get a new Snuffy Smiles record in the mail.  They've been my favorite label for quite some time and you can just always count on them.  I feel like it's been a while since they had released a new full length CD, though I suppose they may have put out a CD version of some of the recent vinyl full lengths that they have co-released with various other labels these past few years.

Coming off the heels of a pretty killer 7", I had high hopes for Sanhose this time out.  For the most part my hopes were met and surpassed.  They are a quintessential 90's Snuffy Smile band with fast paced punk songs with poppy choruses.  Sanhose are at their most effective when they slow things down just a hair as some of the songs are just so damn fast they whiz right by.  But when the tempo is dialed down from insane to merely breakneck, this record is a lot of fun.  

I'm reminded a lot of the faster moments of The Urchin with a hint of Cigaretteman, particularly when the female backing vocals kick in here and there.  As a Snuffy Smiles release goes, it's pretty much right where it needs to be.  

The one thing that bothers me is the matrix number.  It is Smile 58 - which is fine, that's how all of the CDs are numbered.  However there's apparently a cassette version of this that uses the SNUFF- matrix code, the numbering typically used for the 7"s that Snuffy Smiles releases.  So now my complete Snuffy Smiles 7" collection has a missing matrix number for a cassette that I can't find.  If you've got the heads up on where I can snag one of those, please let me know.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Modest Mouse - Interstate 8 LP - Blue Vinyl


Glacial Pace (2015, Reissue)

As part of their Modest Mouse reissue campaign, Glacial Pace has brought Interstate 8 to vinyl for the first time.  Of all of the Modest Mouse records out there, this was probably the one I was least familiar with going in, or so I thought anyway.  

Turns out, many of the songs on Interstate 8 ended up on other albums.  This is likely common knowledge and I'm probably the only goof that didn't know that.  I still enjoy listening to Interstate 8 on its own as the songs have a different context than when they're plucked out an placed amongst others, but at the end of the day I prefer listening to Building Nothing Out Of Something for my day to day dose of "All Night Diner."

The Europe only blue vinyl looks great.  I've heard some folks complaining about the sound, but mine seems totally fine to my untrained ears.  It's worth a pick up if you want it, but it is probably the least essential of the Modest Mouse reissues if you ask me. 

Modest Mouse - "Edit The Sad Parts":

Modest Mouse - "Buttons To Push The Buttons":

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mikal Cronin - MCIII LP - Clear Vinyl


Merge (2015)

I didn't get Mikal Cronin when he hit the scene with his first album.  In fact, going back to it now, I'm still not really a fan of that record.  When MCII was released, I didn't pay much attention.  Eventually I ended up giving it a listen and was thoroughly blown away by how incredible it was.  I was an instant convert.

Ever since then I've been clamoring for a new Mikal Cronin album.  The appropriately named MCIII is out now and I can write a review of it in a timely matter.  This is going to be a difficult review to write as I'm sure it is going to seem like I don't like the album based on a few criticisms.  Let's try to dispel that right up front as I think this record is really good and is absolutely worth picking up if you're a fan of his last record.  Again, I'm really reminded of the Mull Historical Society when listening to these songs and that's a good thing.

MCIII is not, however quite as good as the last Mikal Cronin record.  The highs never soar quite as high and as a whole it feels like its missing just a little something.  Actually, that's probably the wrong way to say it, as I think what holds back some of the songs is that there's too much something.  A lot of the songs feel kind of cluttered and bogged down by too many added instruments.  Horns, strings, pianos; some add to the flavor of the song, but some just don't really feel like they're needed.

The best example of this is on the first song "Turn Around."  Coincidently it is also my favorite song on the record.  Strong verse, big catchy chorus and some nice string accompaniment to accent certain portions.  However on top of that is this "Mr. Crazy Fingers" piano riff that lays on top of the rest of the song. I don't think it adds anything and removing it would have given the strings more impact I think.

That is certainly not a deal breaker, nor are any of the other extra flourishes that probably weren't really needed.  MCIII is still very good.  One of the better albums I've listened to this year.  There's just a little something that's keeping it from being truly great.

Mikal Cronin - "Turn Around":

Mikal Cronin - "IV - Ready":

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Colonies - Bleached Bones 7" - Gray Vinyl


33 Forever (2015)

I reviewed the cassette version of this New Colonies record a few weeks ago and to say I'm thrilled it has made its way to vinyl is a severe understatement.  They shaved off two of the six cassette tracks and present this four song 7".  I am hopeful that someone will rescue those two missing songs from the graveyard, especially "X's on the Eyes."  The four songs that did make the cut are all stellar though.

I will be repeating myself from the last review as far as the music goes.  New Colonies features Wes from Rumspringer and although they manage to keep up writing great hooks, this band is much more in the vein of Leatherface or Manifesto Jukebox.  Raspy vocal, palm muted guitars and gigantic choruses as far as the eye can see. They're one of the new bands I'm most interested in hearing more from and I hope this is the first of many, many records out of these guys.

Kudos to 33 Forever for rescuing these for songs from cassette hell, they are simply way to good to not get the vinyl treatment.  I highly recommend picking this record up.

New Colonies - EP (This is a link to the Bandcamp page of the cassette release, so there are 2 extra songs here):

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

der Faden - Best Guess 7" - Red Vinyl (/100)


Dirt Cult (2015)

One of the biggest musical tragedies of the last few years was when the band Statues decided to pack it in.  Sadly I never got to see the band that put out one of my favorite albums of the 2000's play a show.  Their album New People Make Us Nervous is essential and if you don't already own it, I suggest you stop what you're doing right now and go find a copy.  Needless to say I was pretty darn excited when I discovered that Rob from Statues had a new band called der Faden.

That excitement was tempered by the fear that the new band might try to be completely different from what made Statues so great.  I've seen it before.  Dude is in a great band, band breaks up, dude starts a new band that is terrible.  Just ask Eric Bachmann.  Luckily der Faden doesn't fall into this problem.  While certainly not a carbon copy of Statues, the two songs on this 7" have enough similarities to keep existing fans happy.

A-side "Best Guess" catchy with a mid-tempo start/stop guitar riff that breaks into a sing along chorus.  It doesn't have quite the punch as some of the Statues songs had, but it's a strong first impression.  On the flip side we have "Filaments."  It's a bit more straight forward than "Best Guess," built on downstroke guitar blasts and Rob's distinctive vocals.  

This 7" is a solid first showing from der Faden.  Both songs are quite good, though they both leave me wanting to hear more for the band.  To me they feel a bit like the two slower songs you'd mix into an album full of fast paced attacks.  I'm not sure what the future holds for der Faden.  Maybe they've got some burners being worked on or maybe they're going to try to keep things at this pace.  Regardless, I'm pretty thrilled Rob is making music again and I'm eager to see what comes next.

der Faden - Best Guess 7":

Monday, June 1, 2015

Modest Mouse - Building Nothing Out Of Something LP - Red Vinyl


Glacial Pace (2015, Reissue)

I have two more weeks of Modest Mouse Monday I can write about now as the reissues of Interstate 8 and Building Nothing Out Of Something finally arrived at IBWTMRDC headquarters.  I decided to try to keep up with the colored vinyl versions of these reissues so I grabbed them both from a UK based website.  Although I really expected Newbury Comics to end up with an exclusive variant, as of right now this version from Europe is the only one out there.

I'm not positive the red vinyl really goes with the artwork all that well, but the artwork itself is phenomenal.  I don't have the original pressing that came out on Up records, but from what I've been able to find out by looking online, I don't think it was made with the really incredible looking vellum slip that goes over the main artwork printed on the album cover.  The first pressings of the original CD had this and its even more impressing looking as an LP, even if it makes taking a picture of the record a bit more difficult.

From a music standpoint, you really could make an argument that this is in fact the best Modest Mouse album released.  Granted, it's not a proper full length album as the tracks had been previously released as singles and bonus tracks.  That being said, the quality of the songs and how well they match up with each other really makes it feel like an album that was somehow planned all along.  Some of my favorite Modest Mouse songs live on this guy like "Never Ending Math Equation" and "All Night Diner."

Great presentation and great songs.  I can't really think of a reason not to buy it.  You don't even have to be a goof like me and buy it from England if you don't care about the colored vinyl.

Modest Mouse - "Never Ending Math Equation":

Modest Mouse - "All Night Diner":