Monday, August 31, 2015

Barreracudas - Promises, Promises 7"


Oops Baby (2014)

This isn't the most timely of reviews as this 7" was released nearly a year ago, but I finally picked it up when I ordered the new Barreracudas LP that just came out.  Barreracudas are another refugee from the Douchemaster records roster.  I really miss that label, they had quite the knack for putting out records that I loved.

This 7" was meant as a teaser for the band's new full length.  The A-Side "Promises" is from the album and is a bouncy, catchy song with a sing along chorus.  I don't think that lyrically it's best song I've ever heard from the band, but if they was looking for an early 60's pop throwback they definitely hit the mark.

On the flip side is "Young & Dumb."  This song is exclusive to the 7" and I actually like it more than "Promises."  The verse is built over a three chord guitar riff with a frantically pounded keyboard part in the background.  The whole song drops down to vocals and a slower drum beat as the song builds to the chorus.  Once that chorus hits though, this song just soars.  Really great stuff.  

As I mentioned, I picked up this 7" when I ordered the band's new album, so I'll be reviewing that pretty soon as well.

Barreracudas - Promises, Promises 7":

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Baby Shakes - She's A Star 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/150)


Surfin' Ki / Record Shop Base (2015)

I will admit to being slightly less trigger happy about buying some records immediately these days.  It's getting tougher and tougher to justify sending big chunks of money on single 7"s.  When this Baby Shakes 7" was announced, I could only find it from the label in Europe that co-released it.  They did two different sleeves and I preferred the Japanese style one.  Unfortunately to have it shipped to America it would have made this 7" something like $12.  So, as much as it pained me, I had to pass and wait for it to pop up in an American distro.

Unfortunately that never happened (that I saw anyway) and the first pressing went out of print.  Luckily, when Baby Shakes put their new full length on sale they also made this 7" available through their webstore.  Sure, it is the second pressing on yellow vinyl, but at least I was able to get the cool Japanese style sleeve.  This is another fun Baby Shakes 7".  The A-Side "She's A Star" is also on their new full length, but the B-side "Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme Your Love" is exclusive to this 7".

Baby Shakes play jangly, Rickenbacker fueled guitar pop that's equal parts 60's girl group and current day power pop supergroup. The vocal harmonies completely sell me on this band and I'm thrilled they're back with some new records.  I have the new full length on tap as well, so look for a review of that sooner than later.

Baby Shakes - "She's A Star":

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Elmerhassel - Self Analysis - Discography Part 2 CD


Boss Tuneage (2015)

Last week I wrote about part one of the fantastic Elmerhassel discography reissue CD set from Boss Tuneage.  You had to figure part two wasn't far behind, so here we go.  Self Analysis contains the songs from the John Wark LP, the Pride In Ipswitch 7", a song from a split 7" with Six Pack, a comp song and their previously unreleased first demo from 1991.

Like the first part, this second CD is just crammed absolutely full of hit songs.  In particular, just about everything from the John Wark LP is so great.  Not being a Soccer/football fan, the two "Ipswitch (Get That Goal)" songs are a little bit lost on me, but I'm sure they make more sense in the context of the time they were released.  If forced to pick, I probably prefer the first of these two discography CDs, but there is no shortage of Senseless Things/Midway Still style melodic punk from the UK on part two.

Really, there's just no way you only buy one of these two CDs.  You have to get them both.  There is just way too much great music on these to pass up.  Elmerhassel may not be a household name in the UK and in America probably even fewer people are probably familiar with them, but this is a band that deserves a lot more attention than they get.  I'm thrilled Boss Tuneage reissued all of these classic songs.  Now who's going to step up and make the 4xLP vinyl version?

Elmerhassel - "Apology & Explanation":

Elmerhassel - "Positives":

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Plow United / The Scandals - Split 7" - White Vinyl (/100)


Artistic Integrity (2015)

Another day, another Plow United 7".  I'm not sure that's how the old saying goes, but I would be totally fine if it was.  When a band is consistently cranking out so many great songs, you'll never hear me complain about new records to pick up.  This time, Plow is paired with The Scandals.  They're a band I've never really heard of prior to listening to this record.  Despite their name, I can confirm that The Scandals are not a ska band.

This 7" is arranged with a song by each band on each side as opposed to each band taking a side.  I've never been a big fan of that, so I'm going to lump the songs back together for the purpose of this review.  Plow United gives two more killers.  "Coda" starts off with the band's two thousand mile an hour drum and guitar attack.  The song races through the chorus and then slows down and hits that perfectly timed hook for a gigantic chorus.  So, so great.  "I'm Onto You" is a bit more reserved, but every bit as catchy.  It's got a very slight greaser vibe to it and reminds me a bit of early Social Distortion.  Just a bit.

The Scandals turn in two songs.  "Second Thought" starts off with some Against Me sounding vocals over a light guitar riff intro.  The songs eventually builds into an upbeat rocker and it's a pretty fun song."Sirens" also starts out with just guitar and vocals before the rest of the band kicks in, though they get to things a bit quicker on this one.  It's solid mid tempo punk rock and the Against Me vibe is even stronger on this one, especially in the vocals.  Pretty catchy and a good listen.  It never crosses into being a truly great song, but I have no complaints.

As I've said before, I'll buy any Plow United split 7" regardless of the other band.  Having that other band be pretty good is just a nice bonus.

Plow United / The Scandals - Split 7":

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sonny Vincent And Rocket From The Crypt - Vintage Piss LP


Swami (2015)

It was interesting to see that this record was suddenly for sale via the mighty Swami records as I had picked up a version of it as an import from Germany quite a few years ago.  Though I realize it never came out in the US, I was still somewhat surprised it was been reissued all these years later.  Let me assure you this is a pretty essential pick up even if you have the other version.

For starters there's 2 extra songs.  Don't get me wrong, they're both pretty great and I'm happy to have them on this album, but the real highlight of this reissue is that it has been remixed, remastered and re-whatever else it is they did to make this album sound so much better than the original version.  It sounds so much fuller and the guitars are significantly sharper and more caustic than ever before.  The bass and drumming is much meatier than the prior version and while I won't quite say it sounds like a whole new record, the difference in fidelity between the two versions is pretty remarkable.  

The songs themselves are the kind of no nonsense punk rock that Sonny Vincent has been cranking out since his time with the Testors.  Short, sweet and deceptively catchy.  There's a lot to love on this album, but for me, the highlight is "It's Not Your Fault."  It could easily be a lost Sultans song with its sing along chorus and stop/start guitar riff.

If you don't already have this, it's worth picking up.  If you already have the original German version, it's still worth picking up.  Until I actually listened to this record I though I was just buying another variant to keep my Rocket From The Crypt collection complete.  Turns out I needed this more than I knew.

Sonny Vincent And Rocket From The Crypt - "It's Not Your Fault":

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Elmerhassel - Entertainment Value - Discography Part 1 CD


Boss Tuneage (2015)

Everyone should stand up and applaud the actions of Boss Tuneage records.  The fact that they stepped in and blessed this world with a two part Elmerhassel discography is the sort of thing that deserves having a statue erected in their honor.  This is the very definition of a band that could have just fallen through the cracks and been forgotten.  I never had much in the way of Elmerhassel records apart from some comps and a 7", so even I hadn't given them much thought until I saw that these discography CDs had come out.  Getting to listen to all of their songs compiled together, I've really gained an appreciation for just how great they were and how seriously they've been overlooked.

The first volume of this CD set contains the Honour Your Partners mini LP, The Billyous LP, a 7" and 2 compilation appearances.  Melodic punk is probably the best genre definer if you really need one for Elmerhassel, and they're just as good as the best bands playing this sort of thing.  I immediately think of other UK bands of the era.  You can hear a bit of Mega City Four, a little Senseless Things and some Midway Still churned in for good measure.  The pop is every bit as catchy as any of those aforementioned bands and Elmerhassel really had an incredible knack for constructing some seriously catchy tunes.

The only thing, and really this is the only thing, is that there are a handful of cover songs I'm not as into.  I don't really need to hear another cover of "Big Yellow Taxi" at this point, but I will cut them some slack as it was released in 1992 after all.  If you have even the most fleeting interest in 1990's UK punk rock, this is absolutely essential.  Snuff and Leatherface made the biggest name for themselves in the US, but there are a whole pile of other great bands that came out of that time.  Elmerhassel sits very much at the top of that pile.

Elmerhassel - Entertainment Value Volume 1 (2 Songs):

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Clearance - Catalogue Nos. Cassette (/150)


Unsatisfied (2014)

Since I had tweeted about the preorder for Clearance's debut full length yesterday, I figured it was about time I reviewed this cassette.  I had been holding off on it as I had reviewed the two 7"s that comprise the bulk of it somewhat recently, but there's no time like the present to alert everyone again about this amazing band.

Clearance are playing full on 1990's Pavement inspired indie rock.  Not only would I have loved this when I was in collage, I love it even more now since it's such a refreshing change of pace from most of the current bands putting out music these days.  Maybe I'm somewhat stuck in the past, perhaps I have a misplaced reverence for the 1990's, but as far as music goes, I'm hard pressed to think of a better time to have been buying records.

As I mentioned earlier, most of this cassette was previously released as two killer 7"s.  Nine of the fourteen songs, if you're keeping track.  But the other five songs are also simply outstanding and rebuying a few songs just to get these new ones is completely worth it, even on cassette.  I'll go one step further, buying this whole cassette is worth it just for the soon-to-be classic "Carte Blanche."

If you like your indie rock to be no frills, straight ahead rock and roll, if you don't need any electronica swirls or other studio tricks gumming up the gears and if you just want to listen to a flat out great band, give this Clearance cassette a whirl.  And then after you're blown away, go preorder their full length.  

Clearance - Catalogue Nos.:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

V/A - Bullshit Detector CD


Snuffy Smile (1997)

At this point, surely you understand my love for the label Snuffy Smile (or as they're now known Snuffy Smiles).  They have released so many records that I simply adore and I've tried to make it my goal to own every record they've ever put out.  I'm doing pretty well with 7"s and I believe that collection is complete for the moment, but I am still missing a fair amount of CDs that they released.  Well, you can scratch one off the list and it's a doozy.  I've been looking for this CD for at least 15 years, probably a bit longer.

This compilation contains two songs each by seven different Japanese bands.  Some of my very favorites are represented as Blew, Lovemen and Navel are all featured.  A big bonus for me are two songs I didn't have from the band Middishade.  I've always really felt that this is a band that never got their due, having only a split 7" with International Jet Set and a split CD with Snatcher in their discography.  So having two new songs from them is a real treat.

The absolute highlight for me and the reason I've been looking for this CD for so long are the two Cigaretteman songs.  Cigaretteman has long been one of my absolute favorite Japanese bands.  The way they weave together their male and female singers and the flat out incredible songs they write just cannot be beat.  Again, a band with only some 7"s and compilation appearances to their name, I've been trying to complete their discography for quite some time.  I think there's a two demos of theirs that I don't have, but I believe I now have just about everything they've officially released.  I'll have to double check on that.

One day I hope to finally make it to Japan so I can dig through their record stores to try to complete all of my Japanese band and label connections.  For now, it's nice to have a small victory and one less record to dig for.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Radioactivity - Silent Kill LP - Clear Vinyl (/500)


Dirtnap (2015)

Over the past 10 years or so, Jeff Burke has become one of my favorite songwriters and easily one of the most reliable people out there when it comes to putting out records that I like.  I became a fan when the Marked Men record On The Outside came out and watching his bands gain popularity since that moment has been a really wonderful thing to see.  The clear vinyl version of this record sold out in about a day and Dirtnap did 500 copies of that version.  While I realize those aren't the kind of numbers that will be impressive for gigantic bands, to me, that sounds like a good amount of records for a punk band from Texas to be selling.

Silent Kill is the second Radioactivity full length.  Like it's predecessor, it builds on a foundation of fast downstroke heavy guitar, extremely dynamic chord changes and Jeff's howling in the wind vocals.  Unlike the first Radioactivity full length, there's more slower songs (well slow in comparison anyway) that showcase a different side Radioactivity.  These songs aren't some new weird maturation process or anything, they are still cut from the same cloth as the two thousand mile an hour rippers, but they give the album more depth and show that Jeff doesn't only rely on lightning quick guitar to build a catchy hook.

Silent Kill is every bit as great as the first self titled Radioactivity album.  You can hold it right up next to the best Marked Men records and still be impressed.  Sometimes I think the drumming could use a little more flair, it has something of a metronome quality to it, but these songs are just so expertly crafted it is impossible to not have them lodged into your brain all day long after you've had a listen.

Radioactivity - Silent Kill LP:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Basement Benders - Native Tongues 7"


Drunken Sailor / Dead Broke (2015)

Though I do get some records sent to me to review, I can't say I'm on many record labels proper review lists.  That's not a complaint, fish don't come much smaller than me and the cost of sending out a record probably makes it an unsound business practice.  What I love though, is when I place an order for some records from one of these great labels and they toss in some extra stuff I didn't order to review.  

Basement Benders is one of these records that came packed in with an order from Drunken Sailor.  While I can't say that I really love this, it's still pretty good and I can see other people liking it more than I do.  The band is playing scrappy punk with ragged guitars that hang out on the treble side of the sound spectrum.  The A side contains the catchier of the songs and I tend to favor those, "Native Tongues" being the real standout.  On the B side, "Train Song" keeps the momentum moving along, but things slow down a little bit with "Voices."  I'm not as instantly drawn to those two as they are not as obviously catchy as the songs on the flip, but again, they're totally fine.

I think what really holds this back for me is the vocals.  It sounds like they have several singers, but none of them really stick with me.  I'm am notoriously fussy about vocals and the slightest thing can give me pause at times.  Still, it's a decent little 7" and I think there are a lot of people out there that will probably dig it even more than me.

Basement Benders - Native Toungues 7":

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Spraynard - Mable LP - Orange w/ Splatter Vinyl (/200)


Jade Tree (2015)

Can you imagine buying a record on Jade Tree in 2015? I think the last thing I bought from them was probably the third Promise Ring album back in the 90's.  Anyway, it's good to see them with some skin in the game again.  Maybe not a label I immediately flock to, but the sense of familiarity you get with old school labels still kicking around is a nice one.

Mable is the third album from Spraynard, though the first two came out so long ago, they predate this website.  If you really sniff around you can find a couple of two sentence write ups of them from when I used to just post pictures of records on Flickr.  In everything I've written about this band, I compared Spraynard to Iron Chic or RVIVR.  I still think those comparisons hold up pretty well, especially when it comes to the vocal similarities to Iron Chic.  Both bands are very much playing a heart on your sleeve, fist in the air style of big anthem punk rock.

For this album in particular, I think Spraynard has really upped the ante with catchy choruses and big hooks.  Several songs venture into a poppier territory that is usually reserved for bands like Hospital Job.  Spraynard is right at home in this element and they've got a few corkers throughout Mable.  While I'll never contend that Spraynard is a can't miss band or that they are reinventing the wheel, Mable is a really fun record and likely the best thing they've released to date.  If you're looking for something to throw on in the car and scream along to at the top of your lungs, this may be the perfect record for you.

Spraynard - Mable LP:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Mandates - In The Back Of Your Heart LP


Hosehead / Taken By Surprise (2015)

This is the third of a three pack of records I picked up from Hosehead records.  They're developing quite the back catalog over there and this latest batch were all very strong releases.  The Mandates are a band that I've seen kicking around for a little while, though this is the first record of theirs that I've picked up.  If you want to hear some upbeat and poppy garage rock, it's going to be a smart pickup for you.

I immediately think of other bands playing similar styles of music when listening to this album.  You can hear similarities to Crusaders of Love, The Cry and Missing Monuments.  While The Mandates have crafted a supremely catchy record, I wouldn't say that it stands head and shoulders over a band like Crusaders of Love or The Cry.  They're no worse either, but I do tend to feel like I've heard this sort of thing before when spinning In The Back Of Your Heart.

One thing you absolutely cannot take away from The Mandates is the energy and enthusiasm that they've poured into these songs.  They all have an infectious party vibe to them and it's very easy to get sucked into the album.  Even though the critical part of my brain thinks I've heard similar ideas before, that doesn't stop me from tapping my toe or nodding along to the rock and roll music.

The Mandates - In The Back Of Your Heart LP:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Marvelous Mark - Bite Me 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Drunken Sailor (2015)

Marvelous Darlings haven't had any records out in a few years, but for a several year run they released some of my absolute favorite 7"s.  The compilation of those records, Single Life, is a record I still spin all the time.  The fact that they split up still bums me out on a semi regular basis.  Ben Cook is still busy playing in Fucked Up and Young Governor, but this is the first record by Marvelous Mark that I've been able to grab.

It's not the first record he's released.  That honor goes to a lathe cut 7" put out by Ben Cook's label that I was too cheap to buy.  Luckily the A side of that record is the lead off song on this new 7".  "Bite Me" may not qualify as Marvelous Darlings 2.0, but it's actually a really great guitar pop song that reminds me a lot of early Ash.  Sure, maybe not as polished, but the hooks and melodies are still there.

"Waiting" keeps up that mid tempo motif with a positively Doughboys-esque rocker.  Again, I can't say it sounds much like the Marvelous Darlings did, but this is a great song and my favorite on the 7".  The B side wraps up with the frantic "I'm Freaking Out."  It's probably the song that sounds closest to Mark's prior band as it's much faster than the prior two, but again this is a sound much more at home with the mid 90's Senseless Things/Doughboys crowd.

It's a funny thing, I've missed the Marvelous Darlings so much, you'd think I'd be pretty bummed that the songs on this record really don't sound much like that.  Luckily, Mark has tapped into another vein of music that is right up my alley.  If you are into big 90's guitars and catchy songs, you'll be hard pressed to find a better 7" than this.

Marvelous Mark - Bite Me 7":

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Ballantynes - Dark Drives, Life Signs LP


La Ti Da (2015)

If you want to point to a specific record that I have been waiting for over the last few years, the debut full length from The Ballantynes would be awfully high on my list.  Ever since I received their second 7" as part of a singles club, I have been completely hooked on this band.  I've bought every thing they've released the moment it came out and there was a zero percent chance that I would treat their full length any different.

The Ballantynes are very obvious disciples of the Stax and Motown catalogs.  They've created a powerhouse of a band with alternating deep, soulful male vocals and soaked in harmony female vocals.  This allows them to pay homage to the stylings of Otis Redding in one song and then seamlessly slide into the next track that will touch on the hallmarks of Carla Thomas.  Everything is just such a joy to listen to with the warm bass tones and economical drumming laying down the foundation that drives each number.  As this foundation is accented with touches of guitar, horns and organ, the songs take shape and simply explode with life.

I'll admit to being partial to the faster paced songs like "PMA," "My Place, Your Town" and "Argent."  That being said, when The Ballantynes really slow things down and go for the throat with tracks like "Ghosts" or "Cropper" the results are just as exciting.  Every time I listen to this album all I can think about is how much fun it probably is at a live show of theirs.  The band is based in Canada, but I really hope they end up coming down my way to play some shows now that this album is out.

Dark Drives, Life Signs is such a strange beast in 2015 and I mean that in the absolute best possible way.  You're just not going to find many bands playing such rich soulful music these days.  I guess it's just not fashionable, but the talent and musicianship that went into this record is at a much higher level than so much that comes out these days.  I couldn't possibly recommend this album along with all of the band's preceding singles highly enough.

The Ballantynes - Dark Drives, Life Signs:

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Boilerman - S/T 10" - Clear Vinyl (/500)


86'd / Waterslide / Crapoulet (2015)

I've let the review copies of records pile up over here a little bit lately.  Not that it's a very large pile or anything and it's actually extremely helpful as they give me something to write about during these lean summer times.  So, I guess what I'm saying is that if you've ever considered sending me something to review, now is a pretty good time to do that.

Back to the point, this self titled Boilerman 10" arrived in the mail recently and I was pretty excited about it.  They're a band that I had heard a little bit about so they were already on my radar, at least peripherally.  The 10" itself is a mixed bag for me.  It's pretty punk rock with razor blades guitars and pounding drums.  The vocals can get a little too shouty at times for my personal taste, but when the band is hitting that sweet spot, everything comes together nicely.

In particular, I prefer the poppier songs on this 10" like "II" and "Weak Weak." I'm less enthusiastic about the harsher, angrier ones like bookends "I" and "VI."  In general, it's a pretty fun little one sided 10".  The songs are short and fast and have moments of being pretty good.  I'd likely look into their next release, especially if someone had the kind heart to send it my way to review.

Boilerman - S/T 10":

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sad Ideas - Clockwise 7"


I Want My Daddy's Records (1997)

While I do get the occasional record sent to review, this is still a first for me.  Typically if I do get something, it's a somewhat new release. The record is usually one that has come out in the last year or so at least.  This is the first time I've been sent an old record strictly for the purpose of reviewing.  That's fine as this website is about records I buy, not just new releases.  It was sent to me by a friend of some of the people that were in this mid 90's band.

Clockwise is a four song 7" that has its highs and its lows, but they certainly lead off with their best song "Too Bad Hotshot."  It's a little bit pop punk, but also has some post hardcore leaning vibes.  It was recorded in 1996, but it actually sounds like it could have been done even earlier.  My ears hear an early 1990's Crimpshrine type thing going on a little (which I do realize would not be the first band to come to mind if you were thinking of a band with post hardcore leanings).

"My Fault" marks the first appearance of the ultra fast galloping drum beat.  That's kind of a pet peeve of mine and this song instantly brings to mind bands like Bigwig or some of the other 2nd generation NOFX inspired bands of the time.  "Clockwise" has a strong and catchy verse and a pretty big chorus, but they do jump into another ill advised galloping drum beat part in the middle that I don't really get.  Lastly there is "Cameron Hair" which really suffers the most from odd mixing.  The snare drum is the only thing you can really hear clearly.  Everything else kind of sounds like it was recorded in a different room than the one the microphone was in.

It was interesting listening to a band like this with nearly 20 years of time having past before the record made its way to me.  I certainly wouldn't turn down anyone else that wants to send me an older record to check out, but as far as Sad Idea goes, "Too Bad Hotshot" is really the song to check out.  The rest didn't really hit me.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Zaga Zaga - 2 Songs Demo + 4 Songs EP 7"


Kus Kus /Lifeisafunnything / Shalush Cult (2015)

I received this record to review in the same package that contained that incredible new Sweatshop Boys 7" a few weeks back.  Because of how good that record was, I had high hopes that Zaga Zaga would follow suit.  My first waring that this might not be up my alley was when I looked at the record and saw that they had crammed six songs on to this 7".  Immediately I thought there was a change that could mean shouty hardcore.  Yep, I was right.

What we have here is six fast, screaming hardcore blasts.  I can't figure out most of the lyrics, but boy do they sound angry.  I hear some swearing here and there and in general all six songs just tear by with little difference between them.  They're all pretty much a loud blast of crazy guitar, the main singer dude screaming something in a deeper growl and then the other singer dude responding with a higher pitched screaming call back.  I'm not sure exactly what they're so angry about, but judging from the songs titles they're not particularly keen on dancers, a dog, food and a band.

Hardcore is just not my thing.  It's difficult for me to really enjoy something that is so lean on melody.  As far as hardcore goes, I guess this is fine.   As far as my listening habits go, I can't imagine playing this one again.

Zaga Zaga - 2 Songs Demo + 4 Songs EP 7"