Thursday, July 28, 2016

Go White Bronco - Population: Ghost Town LP


86'd (2016)

Doing the whole book by the cover thing, I thought I could have figured out what Go White Bronco probably sounded like.  It just looks like a hardcore record to me (or maybe a mid 90's midwestern band I suppose).  Needless to say, I was kind of taken aback to be presented with a two minute long acoustic instrumental to start the album.

Still, that was just the intro, so I braced myself for some blistering guitar noise.  Track two comes on and would you believe it's move acoustic guitar?  Though they threw me for a loop based on what I was expecting, Go White Bronco is more my speed than any loud shouty hardcore record would have been.  I won't go so far as to say that I love this or I expect to be listening to it on repeat, but it's actually pretty good.

This isn't singer songwriter nonsense, this is a full band playing passionate songs who just so happen to favor acoustic guitars to electric.  It's very rootsy in its approach, some might even tag it as Americana.  To me, it seems more rooted in the sort of folk protest songs of a time long gone.  The lyrics are serious, but try to paint an uplifting picture while still acknowledging the bad times.  Let's be honest, a lot of the records people send me I don't like all that much.  Those records don't make it to the collection, they get tossed after I've written the review.  There is a place in my collection for Go White Bronco, so take that recommendation for what it's worth.

Go White Bronco - Population: Ghost Town:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chandeli'ers - Breaker LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke / Dirt Cult (2016)

There are few labels that I trust more than Dirt Cult and Dead Broke.  When they unite their super powers on a single release, you can be pretty sure it's something special.  Chandeli'ers are following up a 12" EP with their first full length and it's a pretty solid offering.

Chandeli'ers may be a somewhat difficult name to have to type multiple times over the course of a review, but their music is the exact opposite.  Breaker is a collection of easy to listen to power pop hits, perfect for gatherings around a pitcher of iced tea in the backyard.  To me, their most kindred spirit is probably the band Nude Beach.  But Chandeli'ers are more liberal with their accompanying instrumentation, expertly introducing keyboards and brass into their songs.  In many ways they remind me of The Ballantynes in this regard.

Another place Chandeli'ers excel is with harmonies.  The alternating boy/girl vocals are great, but when they join up to sing together, that is when the magic really happens.  If you dig a good power pop record, Breaker is definitely worth giving a listen.

Chandeli'ers - Breaker:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Jason Martin - Power Animal System Methods LP


Peter Walker (2016)

Every so often someone will send me a record to review and when I open it up, I'm just not sure what to make of it.  That was definitely my reaction when I received this Jason Martin LP.  Maybe I'm guilty of judging records by their cover from time to time, but when you present me with a dog in a power suit, I'm going to be grasping at what to expect.  The only thing I figured was that the record would probably be weird.

It doesn't disappoint in that regard.  Power Animal System Methods is definitely weird, but not really in a bad way.  It's assembled in a ramshackle sort of way that reminds me of the carefree indie rock days of the 90's.  Maybe Silver Jews meets Ween?  There's certainly some pretty decent pop songs on the album like "Wolf People" and "My Blank Pages."  Though there's also quite a few off kilter wacky songs with odd time signatures and kooky noises in the background.

It's not a bad record at all and at times it's pretty good for the sort of thiNG that Jason Martin seems to be going for.  I can't imagine it is something I would listen to all that often, but you certainly can't say it's boring.

Jason Martin - Power Animal System Methods:

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Heavy Times - Black Sunglasses 7"


HoZac (2016)

After I wasn't really feeling the last 7" that Heavy Times released on Randy records, I decided to be a bit more judicious next time they had a record available to purchase.  I intended to try it out before blindly leaping into the next release as it is obvious the band is in the midst of a direction change.  However, since HoZac decided to send me a copy of this new 7" for review, they kind of made the decision for me, so here we go.

Starting off, you kind of feel like this band has been taken over by robots to some extent.  Opening track "Black Sunglasses," like much of their last 7", is single focused in its new wave, pseudo electronic delivery.  In particular, the vocals are completely monotone and devoid of emotion.  It seems intentional, but I kind of miss the chaos of their earlier records.  "City Lights" kind of follows the same path, pretty robotic and not really my thing.

Expecting more of the same, I flipped over to the B side but found a nice surprise waiting for me instead.  "Bad Brother" is very much a rocker, with catchy guitar riffs and the sort of camouflaged pop that I've always loved from Heavy Times. The good times continue with the final entry "Choked Up."  This is also a great song that's the most upbeat and hooky of the bunch.  There's some really cool dueling guitar interplay and the vocals are by far the most melodic.

All in all, this 7" is kind of a mixed bag.  I don't really dig either A side song very much, but the B side is back to back hits.  It's an interesting mix and I'm curious to see which direction Heavy Times heads in next.

Heavy Times - "Black Sunglasses":

Heavy Times - "Choked Up":

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Boilerman - Feel Ways About Stuff LP


86'd / All In Vinyl / Sad Punk / Waterslide (2016)

I've been lucky enough to have some familiarity with Boilerman prior to this album, though that's 100% because of this website and kind folks providing me with their records.  I'm appreciative of it, because I don't really think I would have given Boilerman much attention if left to my own devices.

Here's the thing with Boilerman, they're a really catchy band masquerading as a hardcore band.  If you casually jump through the songs on this record, you're mostly just going to hear loud, fast guitars and a singer with strep throat shouting incoherently.  However, if you really spend some time listening to everything you'll see the way the riffs are laid out and how the hooks are packed in just below the chaos.  They always remind me a little bit of the sort of things you'd find on Lookout during their early, more adventurous days.

I always feel like Boilerman is right on the cusp of being the sort of band that's right up my alley.  If they could just put the hooks a little closer to the surface, we'd be in business.  Still, Feel Ways About Stuff is definitely worth checking out, particular if you're more into hardcore-ish stuff than I am.

Boilerman - Feel Ways About Stuff:

Monday, July 18, 2016

V/A - Strength In Weakness LP - Black / Clear Split Color Vinyl


Lame-O (2015)

I don't buy nearly as many compilations as I did when I was younger.  I actually picked this one up quite some time ago, but have just been dragging my feet on reviewing it.  I had mostly bought it for the at the time unreleased Beach Slang song, Although I was also already familiar with Hurry and Spraynard.  Also, I should note that this is a benefit compilation and all proceeds from this album are going to United Cerebral Palsy.

Spraynard start things up with another one of their passionate, Iron Chic style punk rock offerings. "Haulin' Oats" is every bit as good as anything else they've released, so this is definitely not a throwaway.   Next up is The Weaks.  I've not heard of them before, but they really surprised me with their offering. "Call Me Away" is big and crunchy like the best kind of failed 1990's major label band.  Reminds me a bit of Fig Dish.  I really dig this song.  Modern Baseball fills out the last song on the A side.  This is a band I have heard of before, but never really listened to anything of theirs.  I'm not sure this song will be one to change my mind as it's kind of slow and boring.

Side B doesn't start off on the best foot.  "Old Joe" by a band called Marietta is pretty dull and unremarkable, just plodding along. Things pick up with "Shake It Off" a fantastic song by Hurry, though it is also on their most recent full length album as well.  Still a highlight for sure.  Finishing up is a fully acoustic version of the Beach Slag song "Too Late To Die Young."  It's really not too dissimilar from the version that ended up on their full length, though there's lots of extra static on the vocals on this compilation version.  It is a good song, but it's not really all that necessary if you have the Beach Slang album.

Still, this is a good little compilation for a great cause.  More than anything The Weaks song really blew me away, I'm going to have to look into those guys a bit more.

V/A - Strength in Weakness

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Broccoli - Home LP - Black Vinyl & Clear Vinyl (/100)


Drunken Sailor (2016, Reissue)

It is somewhat rare that I get to write about the records that have been most important to me over the years. Occasionally there will be a reissue or a wacky variant of some Rocket From The Crypt record that I have hunted down, but the records that are most important to me are usually ones that have been in my collection for many, many years. Home by Broccoli is one of these records. It is one of the best records I have ever heard in my entire life. You know those people that like to make those 'Desert Island Disc' lists where they talk about the records they couldn't live without. If I was so inclined to make a silly list like that, it would absolutely, one hundred percent have Home on it. This is one of my five favorite records of all time and I think you could make the argument that they may be one of the most overlooked bands that has ever been.

Sure, I will admit that's a lot of hyperbole for an opening paragraph, but I need you to understand how fundamentally important this record is for me. I started listening to Leatherface because of Broccoli, not the other way around like most folks. Granted, it wasn't this particular album that pushed me towards Leatherface, but Broccoli was already an influential band to me before they release Home in 1998. In 1997 my friend Alan and I went to England for a trip of record shopping and band watching. In addition to picking up a ton of Leatherface and Mega City Four records, we got to see some amazing bands like Chopper, Skimmer, Crocodile God and Starmarket. The other band we got to see was a pre-Home Broccoli opening up for Metroschifter in Leeds. Twenty years on, my memory of this show isn't quite as sharp as I would like, but considering the bomb that Broccoli dropped the following year with Home, I'm so grateful I had that chance to see them play, if only once.

Home is a once in a lifetime sort of record. Sure, you can hit on some easy to digest touchstones like that they are a melodic punk band with leanings towards raspy vocals and an obvious fondness for Leatherface. But is there anything I can write that can truly convey the hugeness of the hook in the song "Chestnut Road?" It's a hook so powerful a band from France named themselves after the song. Can I make you understand the way it makes me feel when that the guitar distortion kicks in right before the chorus of "I Am A Robot?" Are there even words in the English language that can describe how much I just fucking love every single second of "R.S.V.P.?" We're only though the 4th track on this beast of an album and already I feel like my vocabulary is painfully inadequate to try to make you understand just how important this record is to me.

Home has been out of print for years. The label that originally put it out, Rugger Bugger, called it a day many moons ago. Broccoli broke up not too long after this record came out. This is the record that should have made Broccoli one of the most loved and respected bands in the world, but for whatever reason it just didn't pan out that way. Drunken Sailor should be commended for stepping up and bringing this record back to the world.

Home should quite simply be a mandatory addition to anyone's record collection that even remotely likes this sort of punk rock. Yeah, they're better than Jawbreaker and every bit as good as Leatherface. I'll say it and you will never convince me otherwise. Broccoli has also announced that they are getting back together for a tour of Japan. I don't know if that will ever lead anywhere,. I don't know if we'll ever get more shows or another record, but it gives me just a bit of hope that perhaps others will have a chance to experience what Broccoli did for me 20 some odd years ago. Go buy this record right now and if you happen to have their two demo tapes or a Broccoli T-shirt, please email me and sell them to me.

Broccoli - Home:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Eddie Mooney And The Grave - I Bought Three Eggs 7"


Still Unbeatable (2014, Reissue)

I've been getting way more records than usual sent to me to review lately.  Granted, that just means a trickle instead of a drip, but It's been a nice way to pad out the lean summer months.  It's especially great when I like the record that's sent to me.

I will be the first to admit that I'm painfully out of touch with the late 70's/early 80's power pop scene.  I know there's all sorts of interesting bands with obscuro one-off singles that people covet like crazy.  I have plenty of records to buy without diving headfirst into that, but if something is just dropped in my lap, I'm more than happy to take a listen.  This 7" is a reissue of 1978 7" that, according to the liner notes, was released right as the label died so very few actually made it into the world.

Well, I'm pretty please that Still Unbeatable records decided to rerelease this one as both of these songs are fun slices of power pop perfection.  Rapidly strummed, jangly guitar mixes with minimal, but cutting lead guitar and super catchy vocals.  I probably prefer "I Bought Three Eggs" of the two, but "Zombie" is no slouch either.  

I really dig this 7" and it's funny to think how unlikely it is that I would have ever heard these songs if it wasn't sent to me to review. I guess that's a reason to encourage folks to keep sending in records.  This one is great, go buy it right away.

Eddie Mooney And The Grave - I Bought Three Eggs 7":

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Basketball Shorts - Hot And Ready LP - Clear w/ Blue Vinyl


Fleeting Youth (2016)

This record is a perplexing one to write about.  On the surface it's a fast, fun and catchy record, so my natural inclination is to like it.  But when I really sit and listen to it, as opposed to just having it play in the background, there are things that I don't like that really start to stand out.

To start, these guys really sound like The Marked Men.  I mean they REALLY sound like The Marked Men.  Considering that I bought this album based on the fact that they were compared to The Marked Men, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to be annoyed that I think they sound too much like The Marked Men, but it's a bit excessive over the course of this album.  A few of the songs have a little bit of a Mean Jeans lean to them, but as a whole these guys really deliver the sound comparison that's been advertised.

The other thing that doesn't work for me is the lyrics.  I'm not really a big lyrics guy.  I usually only notice them when they are either really great or really bad.  I'm not sure if Basketball Shorts qualify as being really bad, but they're silly enough that I take notice, and not really in a good way.  Whether it's ""With knife in hand, I'll make you understand" or "When you don't scream out my name, it's such a shame" or the entire songs written about Home Alone or Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump, it's all just a bit much for me at times.

But again, I'm torn because there are some genuine toe tappers on this LP.  Even while writing this review, I had the album playing in the background and when I'm not over examining it, I catch myself nodding along to the big hooks and crunchy guitars.  Maybe this is one of those records that will grow on my the more I play it.  Maybe I'll end up being extra annoyed after a while.  I't hard to tell right now, but I can say that I this record is absolutely worth giving a play on Bandcamp. Maybe you won't mind the few things on the record that are bugging me.

Basketball Shorts - Hot And Ready:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Plow United - Three LP - Red & Beige Vinyl (/500)


It's Alive (2016)

Plow United return with another album called Three.  It's a relief to see that 2013's Marching Band wasn't a one and done after the band returned from a decade plus long hibernation.  I'm not sure if Three is quite as great as Marching Band was, but it is still a pretty fantastic record.

Three starts off with "We Should Take Time," a brief, punky intro with a fifty thousand mile per hour drum beat.  That sort of drumming isn't usually my favorite thing in the world and it made me a tad nervous the first time I put the record on, but those fears were immediately quashed by the very next song "Break The Barrier."  This is where Plow really shines.  They slowed down the tempo just a bit, inserted a catchy guitar riff and alternate back and forth between palm muted chugging and that sparkling riff.

As we move through the album, Plow unleashes some spectacular tunes.  "Everything," "Trust" and "The Writing on the Wall" are as strong as anything in the band's back catalog.  There are a few quick songs that are so short they kind of whiz by before they really sink in including the blink and you'll miss it "Hello Vertigo" and the criminally too brief "Radio."  

Overall though, this is a logical, strong follow up to Marching Band.  I've been listening to Plow United for a lot of years.  The fact that they've released two albums that are pretty different from the records they put out during their first run, but still manage to be equally enthralling is testament to their greatness.

Plow United - Three:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

New Junk City / Rebot (Re)pair - Split 7"


Night Animal (2016)

One of the interesting things about the recent uptick in records being sent to me to review is that it is exposing me to new bands that aren't on my radar.  Granted, that's not always for the best as there certainly some stinkers that get sent my way.  That being said, the few good ones that manage to sneak through are more than enough reward to sift through sthe sewage.

Case in point is New Junk City from this 7".  I don't really have any idea where these guys came from (OK, their Bandcamp page says they are from Atlanta, but you know what I mean).  I kind of can't fathom that I would have stumbled across this 7" on my own.  Not for any particular reason, I'm just not really sure where it would have popped up for me given my fairly narrow use of the internet.  Anyway, these two New Junk City songs are great.  On "Everything Good," lightly distorted guitar riffs in the verse give way to a chorus that crashes through the song.  The vocals are forceful, but not screamed and most of all it's supremely catchy.  "Wasting" may even be better with its bouncy chord progressions.  It's the best kind of punked up pop, without falling into the trappings of generic pop punk.

Robot (Re)pair doesn't quite hit the same kind of highs that New Junk City hits.  The recording of these three songs is a little flat, which probably doesn't help things.  The first two songs are both about a minute long and they feel like throwaways.  By the third song, "Weird World," they slow things down a bit and take their time.  The results are better and it's a reasonably catchy song, though I liked it more before I read the lyric sheet.  None of the three songs are bad, but they are completely overshadowed by how great these New Junk City songs are.

New Junk City / Rebot (Re)pair - Split 7":

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Satellite Go - Kate 7"


33 Forever (2016)

When 33 Forever sent me the new Plow United single a few weeks ago, they also included this 7" by Satellite Go.  I hadn't heard of these guys previously, but this is a pretty good little record.

Throughout the four songs on this 7", Satellite Go craft a quartet of melodic punk rock songs that have a bit of a rootsy side to them.  There are moments where they remind me of bands like Dan Padilla, Nude Beach and Suspicious Beasts.  Vocally, I can also see similarities to the slower moments of Plow United.

The first three songs in particular are great, mixing in the right amount of catchiness in the choruses and earnestness in the vocals.  I'm not as big of a fan of the last song, "Blackout."  The vocals kind of go off the rails toward the end of the song.  But the other three are top notch and really make me interested to hear more from this band.  This is worth picking up if you're into any of the other bands I mentioned.

Satellite Go - Kate 7"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hooper / Spells - Split Cassingle


Snappy Little Numbers (2016)

Credit again to Snappy Little Fingers, both for bringing back the wacky cassingle artwork of my youth and for sending over a copy of this tape to review.  I was pretty excited to pop this guy in when I opened it up.  After all, I'm a pretty huge Hooper fan and I've enjoys some of Spells prior work as well.

As far as the Hooper side goes, I have to admit I'm a little disappointed.  They start off with a cover of Marissa Nadler's "Diamond Heart."  It's alright, but is really lacking the energy and hooks that have made Hooper one of my favorites.  But again, it's a cover, so you can only do so much.  I had much higher hopes for the second song on their side of the split, "My Friend The Beast."  Best I can tell, this isn't a cover song, but it really doesn't sound much like the Hooper I've come to know and love.  The tempo is slow and deliberate and aside from a few high spots towards the end, the song just feels kind of thin.  Not at all what I was expecting from these guys.

For their side, Spells sticks to the tried and true.  "Starch Ideas" is the best kind of upbeat chord progression pop.  Through in a nice hooky chorus and some nice backing vocals and you've got a really solid song.  For their second song, they provide "A Failure's Wake."  The title makes me wonder.  Do they mean a wake for a failure, like the failure died or do them mean the wake of a failure, like the wake that a boat causes.  Either option provides some interesting thoughts.  Like "Starch Ideas," this is another bouncy, catchy song.  I really didn't expect the Spells side of this tape to be the one that I liked the most, but there you have it.

This is an interesting little split.  I'm especially curious to see where Hooper goes next.  Is this a new direction or just an anomaly?

Hooper / Spells - Split Cassingle: