Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Century Palm - White Light 7"


Symbolic Capital Industries (2014)

This is the first of two Century Palm 7"s that were sent to me to review.  As I've said in the past, this dumb little website isn't really a magnet for tons of free records sent my way.  I get a little something every so often and even if they're not very good, I'm always appreciative that anyone is paying attention (Although judging some of the records, I question if they're actually paying attention, but that's another story).  

When I opened up the package that contained the Century Palm records, I was even more optimistic than usual.  The artwork was nice and simple, but in a way that I could take the band seriously.  Also, I found out that the band is comprised by some of the same folks in bands like The Zebrassiers and Ketamines, so there's some pedigree there as well.  The two songs on this 7" delivered in a big way.

A-side "White Light" is a tight, upbeat song built off a great choppy, guitar riff.  It's catchy in the right places and draws upon new wave influences, but keeps them grounded enough in straight up rock and roll so as not to get too weird or annoying.  On the flip side we have "New Creation."  This one goes a little deeper into synth territory than the A-side.  I hear more of The Zebrassiers in this song, though it's significantly more laid back than The Zebrassiers frantic pop output.  While "New Creation" probably drifts a bit further into a 1980's sound than I typically like, it's still a strong song that had me nodding my head along every time I listened to it.

It looks like from their Bandcamp page, this 7" was also released as a cassette that had two additional songs on it.  I still prefer getting vinyl!  Though the other two songs are quite good too if you want to give them a listen as well.

Century Palm - White Light 7":

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mother's Children / Mandates - Split 7"


Taken By Surprise (2015)

I'm not sure if I'm just buying fewer 7"s this year or if we're starting to see a down tick in the number of them being released.  One that I sure hope doesn't become extinct is the split 7".  It's always been one of my favorite music listening vessels.  Though I love getting split 7"s that have a new band I wasn't familiar with on it, there's something extra fun about a split 7" that has two bands I already know and enjoy.

Mandates are first up, off the heels of their recent full length album.  Their song "Sycophantic Romantic" picks up where their last record left off; with fast paced and catchy power pop.  A slight coating of glam on the vocals and start/stop guitar riffage in the verse leading up to a bit hook with stuttering vocals in the chorus.

Mother's Children are definitely cut from the same cloth as Mandates.  They serve up their own power pop masterpiece with "No Rules."  To me, Mother's Children are a bit more subtle with their hooks and are not quite as in your face as Mandates can be.  Their song is probably my favorite of the two on this 7" and stacks up easily with anything the band has released in the past.

Mother's Children / Mandates - Split 7":

Monday, September 28, 2015

Royal Headache - High LP


What's Your Rupture (2015)

Very few records blew me away like 2011's self titled Royal Headache debut.  It was such a unique sound hitting at the perfect time.  It became an instant classic and a record that I continue to spin frequently to this day.  After waiting patiently for a few years, the band has finally followed up with their sophomore release High.

I've lamented the lack of great records in 2015.  It's been a year of quite a few good records, but it's been slim pickings on game changers.  The first time I put High on the turntable I was instantly caught up in an excitement that's been tough to come by this year.  I was immediately thinking this might be the best record of the year and was playing it multiple times a day.  Having spent some time with it these last few weeks, some of that initial rush has settled down and I think I have a more composed view of Royal Headache's 2nd album.

It is a great record.  It is definitely one of the best albums of 2015.  Top 10 for sure, top 5 probably as well.  However, with a bit of perspective I don't think that this album is quite as good as the first Royal Headache album.  For starters it's kind of front heavy with the hits, which I think helps lead to the rush of enthusiasm for the album.  The first four songs in particular are among the best the band has written and sets a high bar for the rest of the album.  

Unfortunately, the album hits a bit of a brick wall with track five ""Wouldn't You Know." While not a bad song or anything, it's a real momentum killer and to me, the band struggles to recapture the energy of the songs that precede it.  That's not to say the rest of the album is no good.  It is good, it's very good actually with one or two songs borderlining on great.  But as much as I like this album, which is quite a lot, it's not album of the year level and it is just a bit shy of the greatness of the first Royal Headache record.

That being said, this is a great record and this is definitely one of the best albums of the year.  Don't mistake this review for anything other than a positive one.  This is a record you should buy.

Royal Headache - High LP:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Baby Shakes - Starry Eyes LP


Lil Chewy (2015)

It's pretty crazy to think about how much talent was gathered on the Douchemaster Records roster a few years ago.  They had so many great bands releasing records with them.  Since the label went kaput, the talent has scattered across a myriad of labels.  Some labels appear to have been created just to release the records of some of these bands.  Enter Lil Chewy records and Baby Shakes.

Starry Eyes is the second Baby Shakes full length and it is every bit as fun and catchy as their debut.  Two guitars, a bass, some drums and melodies and harmonies for days are what Baby Shakes bring to the table.  Their back to basics take on low distortion, high enthusiasm rock and roll simply makes me smile whenever I listen to it.  While the subject matter of the songs isn't heavy, it perfectly accompanies the light and breezy mood of this album.  A good time out in the summer sun is the first thing I think of when listening to this band.

If you've listened to Baby Shakes in the past, you won't be surprised or disappointed with Starry Eyes.  It's a logical follow up to their debut that's full of catchy songs and killer vocals.  I'm a big fan in the same way that I always loved the straightforward pop of the band Cub.

Baby Shakes - Starry Eyes LP:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Phylums - Phylum Phyloid LP - Green Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2015)

If I don't hold the record for the number of Dirtnap records purchased within the first minute of them being put on sale, I figure I have to be at least in the top five.  This is a label that I've trusted for years and I buy virtually everything they release.  When this Phylums record was announced, I once again started counting down the days until I could buy it.

It didn't hurt that the singer from Phylums was also in another band that I was a big fan of, The Goodnight Loving.  While Phylums skews less country twang and more rock and roll stomper, I figure if you like one, you'll probably like the other too.  Phylums are taking rock and roll back to the basics. Their stripped down approach and bristling energy reminds me a lot of The Trashmen or Sam The Sham when the tempo is up and the band is kicking.  The record is just a joy to listen to in these moments.

There are a one or two songs that slow things down and, to me, aren't really as strong as the faster paced songs.  "Route 66" takes the energy down a bit too far and it kind of zaps the energy on side one that had been building through the preceding three songs.  The others are more mid tempo than slow and even those are pretty good, so my complaints are minimal.  If you enjoy a little ramshackle guitar with some surfy overtones, a pounding rhythm section and 60's innocence in your rock and roll, Phylums are likely right up your alley.

Phylums - Phylum Phyloid LP:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Maniac - Demimonde LP


La-Ti-Da (2015)

La-Ti-Da records is becoming a label whose taste in music I simply trust.  When they offered an opportunity to preorder a group of new releases at a discounted price (even though they didn't say what those new releases were), I jumped at the chance.  The first batch consisted of the incredible Ballantynes LP I reviewed a few weeks ago and this album by Maniac.

The Maniac LP is a little bit of a mixed bag for me.  I really like a lot of it, musically.  The band has a knack for mixing stuttering guitar riffs in the verse with big old catchy hooks in the chorus.  Songs like "Wendy, Same Thing," "Dans Le Sang" and "When I'm Gone" deliver the goods, but even on my favorite songs I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the vocals.  They're not bad necessarily, but the delivery leans on the nasal side of things.

It's not a deal breaker by any stretch as Demimonde had a frequent turntable presence on my turntable.  It's worth checking out if you're into some catchy tunes that have just a bit of garagey fuzz.

Maniac - Demimonde LP:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Built In Sun - S/T LP - SIlver w/ Blue Haze Vinyl (/250)


People In A Position To Know (2015)

I read a pretty positive review of this album that likened it to some 90's indie rock that I was a fan of.  The fact that the record was put together by Joe Plummer, a man who played drums for The Shins, Modest Mouse, Black Heart Procession and more didn't really weigh into the decision to pick this up.  After all, he's the drummer, it could sound like anything.  At the time I decided to purchase this, I was able to listen to the lead track "Honeybear."

After hearing that first song, I figured this would be a worthwhile pick up.  It had an upbeat, but still somewhat jangley and sloppy vibe to it.  A little Pavement and little Built To Spill.  I also found out that there had been a limited amount of colored vinyl, which I had missed out on.  That only made me want it more.  I kept on looking for it and checking around and finally one popped up on Discogs and essentially no mark up at all.  I immediately grabbed it.

After several spins of the entire album, I think I've ended up pretty let down by it.  The first song "Honey Bear" is still pretty good as are the next two "V" and "1313."  They're not quite as good, but they're alright.  After that, this album is just all downhill for me, starting with the fourth song "Due To Rain."  I can't say I'm even sure how to describe it, but if you like whining, yelping vocals over slow drumming and an odd psuedo-funk bass line, then this songs for you.

Built In Sun never really recovers after that song.  Sure there are a couple of songs that are OK, but at best they sound like low rent Three Mile Pilot songs.  It's an below average record with a handful of songs worth a spin, but Built In Sun just isn't consistent enough to pick up if you ask me.

Built In Sun - Built In Sun:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nervosas - S/T - Clear Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2015)

When it's done well, I really like darker, downstroke heavy punk rock.  You can probably blame Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu for that one (and obviously the Wipers).  Whenever I hear bands like Crusades, Red Dons or The Estranged, it flips a switch in my brain.  While I still need a little bit of catchy pop as part of the equation, if you can give me something fast, dark and serious, I'm in.

Nervosas definitely fall into the same category as these other great bands.  They're got the same sort of searing guitar work along with a tight, but somewhat muddy rhythm section.  It's a potent combination that gives Nervosas a familiar, but still distinct sound.  

Vocally, the singer has something of a warble going on.  It's not as cartoony as say a Jello Biafra delivery, but it is different from my usual preference of gravely worn in vocals.  It does work amazingly well in the context of this band.  Especially when paired with some of the more complex guitar work that kicks in every so often.

Nervosas is just great punk rock.  If you're into any of the other bands mentioned earlier, it's pretty much a no brainer to pick up.  Seriously, how often has Dirtnap steered you wrong?  Almost never.

Nervosas - S/T:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Record Store Visit: Shuga Records - Chicago, IL - 09/11/15


So the only other new record store I hit while in Chicago (I also went to a few I had been to already, but those don't really warrant write ups) was Shuga Records.  I walked there after hitting up Reckless Records at the Damen Blue Line stop.  Again, as I was trying to travel light, I didn't end up buying anything, but as always it was fun to peruse.

I wouldn't say that Shuga leaned towards any specifc genre.  They seemed to have a good cross section of everything and in particular, I thought they had a nice selection of older 'rare' records.  For my taste, they tended to be a bit on the expensive side, but I will cop to not really knowing what the current market value is for first pressing Pearl Jam LPs.  

They did have a copy of Strictly Business by EPMD, but the cover was completely destroyed.  We're talking tears, rips and no corners left to speak of.  They still wanted $20 for it.  Don't get me wrong, that's a great record, but in the condition it was in I don't think I would have paid $3 for it, let alone $20.

I wouldn't make it my first stop going back to Chicago, but I would definitely pop in if I was already in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Record Store Visit: Bric-A-Brac Records - Chicago, IL - 09/10/15


I am back from my little vacation and my trip to Chicago to see Drive Like Jehu.  Both times I saw Jehu were incredible and I'm so glad that I managed to go to those shows.  It was also great to see loads of friends from around the country who had also come out for the shows.  It was a truly great time and I hope I see everyone again really soon.  

I can't say that I did a ton of record shopping while I was in town, but I did hit up two new stores.  The first of which was called Bric-A-Brac Records.  Located in Logan Square, it's a medium sized shop, but they sure have crammed a ton of stuff in there.  While I didn't buy anything (I was traveling pretty light and needed to keep it that way), that had a good selection of rock and roll.  As a whole I guess you could say they lean towards the garage-ier type stuff, but I saw plenty of neat things from all genres digging through their 7"s.

The thing that actually makes this the sort of shop I really wish we had in New Jersey is that they also sell vintage toys.  The toy section is pretty small in comparison with the records, but they had a lot of great stock.  In particular they had quite a few of the old Kenner Ghostbusters toys and a ton of He-Man.  The prices seemed pretty reasonable to me, but again, I wasn't really set up to be buying a bunch while in town.

Absolutely a store worth sticking your nose in if you are in Chicago.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Collection: Drive Like Jehu LPs & 7"


It's been a little while since I did one of these collection posts.  Dragging out older records and arranging them for a group shot can be a tedious and time consuming process.  Plus there's all that extra vacuuming.  But if there ever was a band that was worth the effort and a time to write this post, this is the time and this is the band.

Drive Like Jehu is one of the most important bands I've ever listened to.  While I love their first self titled record, the follow up, Yank Crime, is one of my all time favorites.  We're talking top 5 record, desert island disc, whatever silly cliché you want to talk about.  

The furious pounding of the bass guitar and drums mixed with the dueling guitar pyrotechnics of John Reis and Rick Froberg are a potent combination.  To steal a quote from Donald "Duck" Dunn, they're "powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline." From the second "Here Come The Rome Plows" rips out of the gate to the very last moments of this album, Yank Crime is essentially perfection.

The reason this post is so timely is because next week I am flying to Chicago and I am going to see Drive Like Jehu play twice.  This will be the first time I have ever gotten to see them play and they have been the number one band on my list to see for twenty years.  It's something I almost never thought I'd get the chance to do, but it's finally on the horizon.

Also, once that happens, Bum is moved to the number one spot as far as bands I need to see live goes, so they need to get a little closer to the East Coast so I can see them play.

Anyway, this will be my last post for about a week.  I'll be taking a small end of summer vacation, which will include the trip to Chicago and the Drive Like Jehu shows.  I'm hopeful I'll also get some new pictures of record stores I haven't been to yet and of course some new records to write about.

If you're a masochist of some sort and you just can't bare to not see me write something for a week, I'll be posting on twitter @timpopkid. Otherwise, peruse the archives of this site and I'll be back and writing more the week of 14th.

Aloha.  Suit up.

Drive Like Jehu - Drive Like Jehu - Headhunter - Black Vinyl
Drive Like Jehu - Drive Like Jehu - Headhunter - White Vinyl
Drive Like Jehu - Drive Like Jehu - Headhunter - Greenish-Blue Swirl Vinyl
Drive Like Jehu - Drive Like Jehu - Headhunter - Red Vinyl
Drive Like Jehu - Drive Like Jehu - Headhunter - Clear Vinyl
Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime - Headhunter - Black Vinyl LP, Black Vinyl 7"
Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime - Headhunter - Blue Vinyl LP, Red Vinyl 7"
Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime - Headhunter - Red Vinyl LP, Red Vinyl 7"

Drive Like Jehu - Bullet Train To Vegas - Merge - Black Vinyl

Who knows really.  Cargo represses these things so often, especially the S/T, that I can't imagine there aren't more wacky variants out there.  If you see one, let me know!

Drive Like Jehu - "Here Come The Rome Plows":

Drive Like Jehu - "Luau":

Drive Like Jehu - "Spikes To You":

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fakers - Personality Voices 7" (/300)


Chain Letter (2015)

This 7" is the debut of Fakers, they ended up on my radar due to Travis from Piebald being in the band.  While I'll never claim to be a Piebald super fan, I really do enjoy a few of their records quite a bit.  To me, it seemed worth picking up this record.

Honestly, I'm somewhat let down.  It's not nearly as catchy and melodic as I figured it would be.  Neither song is bad, but both kind of give off something of an LA bar band vibe. "Six Hundred Dollars" is aptly titled as the singer shouts that phrase quite a few times throughout the course of the song.  Musically, it also sounds surprisingly thin especially considering that I'm pretty sure there are three guitar players and a bass.

"Gold Room" is more up my alley.  It's not as repetitious as "Six Hundred Dollars" and the singing is not as shouty as it is on the flip side.  There's some gang vocals that come off a little cheesy, but in general it's an okay song.  It reminds me a little bit of Napalmpom, though not nearly as glammy. 

I'm not going to write Fakers off after one 7".  It may not be a super impressive, knock your socks off debut, but it's not bad.  I'll probably give their next record a try, but this time I may need to listen to a few songs first.

Fakers - "Six Hundred Dollars":

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wonk Unit - Pwoison Idea, Feel The Wonkness LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


Drunken Sailor (2015)

Before I say anything about Wonk Unit, an extra special thanks to the Drunken Sailor himself who sold me what I believe was the very last copy of this record on green vinyl after I dragged my feet on buying this one.  I'd be kicking myself if I had missed out on the colored vinyl entirely as this is a hell of a record.

Wonk Unit has been kicking around for a few years now.  They've been on my radar for a bit, having put out a few CDs (this LP is actually made up of songs culled from these CDs).  They were a band that I just never bought anything by for some reason.  All the key selling points were there for me.  Duncan Redmonds from Snuff drums for them at times, the main guy Alex was in a band called The Flying Medallions (I have a split 7" of theirs with China Drum) and lots of people whose taste in UK punk I respect have said great things about them.  Maybe it's an aversion to CDs or maybe it's not wanting to pay those postage fees from the UK, but I can tell you I waited far to long to buy a record by Wonk Unit.

While I did expect to like the Snuff style, catchy punk rock songs like "Guts" and "Lewisham," I was not prepared for how much I would like the songs that stray from that formula.  There are several songs that are built off of completely different styles than tradition UK melodic punk.  "Horses" is a slower, borderline plodding song with a simple kick/snare drum beat and incredible sounding string (cello maybe?) accompaniment.  Then there's the primarily acoustic "You Married A Tortured Genius."  You might get some weird looks buy saying this, but it's just a beautiful song with more strings and just the right amount of screaming.

So it goes across the whole album.  Killer song after killer song.  It's one of those records that I cannot recommend highly enough.  But now there's the question, does this qualify as a record you could put on an album of the year list?  It's technically a compilation of previously released material, but I hadn't heard any of it before.  So begins the debate.

Wonk Unit - Pwoison Idea, Feel The Wonkness LP: