Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pale Lips - Wanna Be Bad CD


Waterslide (2016)

I'm still working my way through all of the CDs sent over by Waterslide records to review.  It's just crazy how many great records were in this batch.  Next up is another hit: Pale Lips.

I fully realize I beat this comparison to death, and for that I apologize, but the band that Pale Lips most remind me of is Baby Shakes.  I'll say it again, this is absolutely a compliment as Baby Shakes are one of my very favorites.  Pale Lips employ a similar vintage rock and roll sound with wonderful vocal harmonies.  The songs have those simple, but powerful bubblegum hooks, but Pale Lips take it in a slightly different direction.

What separates Pale Lips from the pack is that their songs tend to sound a bit tougher than other bands going down this path.  To use a vintage reference, Pale Lips sound like they're from the wrong side of the tracks. A group of bad ass ladies that are beating up on their instruments instead of the dorks in their neighborhood.  That being said, the songs that leap out as my favorites tend to be the bouncier ones like "Jangaroo," "Mary Lou Sniffin' Glue" and "Romanne."

Pretty much like everything I've reviewed from Waterslide, this is definitely worth a listen.  It's another band that I'm not sure would have ended up on my radar had a copy not been sent over.

Pale Lips - Wanna Be Bad:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bivouac - Sweet Heart Deal 7" - Green Vinyl (/250)


Reckless Yes (2016)

Now that's a name I've not heard for a long time.  It's been twenty years since Bivouac have released a new record and like many other bands from the 90's, I guess the time just seemed right to get back together.  This is a trend that I will never get tired of.  I encourage all of the bands that I liked in the 90's to get back together.  Someone keep me posted on Alligator Gun's status, OK?

This Bivouac 7" contains two new songs.  The first, "Sweet Heart Deal," is a fast paced and pretty straightforward rocker that picks up right where the band left off.  They've always had those big, chunky guitars and the slightly gruff, but melodic vocals.  As the song moves along, the drumming feels a little one dimensional and the snare drum in particular seems to be getting an unnecessarily consistent smacking, but that one complaint aside, it's still a pretty great song.

Things slow down on the B side "Deep Blue Sea Surround."  The story goes that the song on the 7" is a reworking of a demo that the band was working on twenty years ago for a third full length that never quite panned out.  It's a gradual builder with good dynamics and a satisfying payoff.  

All in all I'm very pleased with this 7".  It certainly blows the doors off of that China Drum 7" that came out a few months ago.  If you're looking for a slice of punky UK rock, this is definitely worth a listen.

Bivouac - Sweet Heart Deal 7":

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

So Cow - Lisa Marie Airplane Tour LP - Blue Vinyl


Tall Pat (2016)

I first started listening to So Cow with 2014's The Long Con.  I was really taken in with its bouncy guitars and an energy that I described at the time to remind me of W.H. Walker a bit.  Two years later and So Cow is back with Lisa Marie Airplane on Tall Pat records.  Over the two years, aspects of So Cow's sound have evolved a bit, but they have kept the catchy tunes that got my attention in the first place.

While it isn't sonically the best comparison I could make, the band that I'm most reminded of when I listen to Lisa Marie Airplane Tour is Reconstruction Site era Weakerthans.  So Cow take this in more of a workman like direction, but a similar knack for melodic storytelling and plainspoken vocals make up the core of both bands.  The other thing I hear a bit more of this time around is a little bit of Pavement style irreverence.  It's bubbling just under the service, but it does steer the album away from the garage based foundation that was more at the core of The Long Con.

What this review really is as a long, convoluted way to say that I really think this is a great record and So Cow is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands.  I have listen to Lisa Marie Airplane Tour so many times since I bought it.  Everyday I've been trying to come up with the words and descriptors to do it justice.  Plain and simple; it's a great record full of catchy songs and interesting stories. You should buy it.

So Cow - Lisa Marie Airplane Tour:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Talkies - Never Fear 7"


La-Ti-Da (2016)

Another new band courtesy of the La-Ti-Da singles pack I bought and this one is a keeper.  Talkies are playing the sort of upbeat power pop that I really dig.  There are certainly nods to the hits of the 70's, but unlike a lot of power poppers, Talkies aren't a nostalgia band living in the past, these guys take those older influences and bring them up to date.

A side "Never Fear" is an upbeat toe tapper with jangly guitar riffs and really catchy backing harmonies.  There's even a nice little shredding guitar solo towards the end, but it is brief and doesn't wear out its welcome.  On the B side is "Hollow," a slightly more subdued number.  This one actually reminds me a lot of Warm Soda, though with completely different vocals.  It's laid back, but still a catchy song that I dig.

I definitely want to hear some more by this band, but I think this is their first release.  Google isn't helping much anyway and there appear to be at least two other bands called Talkies.  Regardless, I'll be on the lookout for anything else these guys put out.

Talkies - Never Fear 7":

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shitbox Jimmy - The Movie LP


Just Because (2016)

When I was sent this Shitbox Jimmy record to review, I thought it was a bit funny that the name of their album is The Movie. because the band name immediately makes me think of my very favorite movie.  Not that I hear the word shitbox all that often, but when I do it's impossible to not be reminded of The Blues Brothers and the Bluesmobile being referred to as "That shitbox Dodge."  So right away this band was putting me in a mindset to want to like them.  I also dug the artwork with the unspooled VHS tape.  Again, tugging on my nostalgic 80's feelings.  Unfortunately, while it's not bad or anything, Shitbox Jimmy's music doesn't really maintain those good vibes as I go through the album.

I think the thing that is the most off putting to me is the vocals.  They're really buried in the mix, unnecessarily full of static and nearly impossible to understand.  They've kind of got a howling in a cave feel to them, but not in an energetic exciting way like say, The Blind Shake.  The way these are recorded kind of make me think they're trying to hide the vocals.  I say this as someone who has gone out of their way to hide vocals on things I've recorded with friends.

On the other hand, the music itself is alright.  They've got a nice jangly guitar sound that reminds me a bit of the tone Royal Headache is able to achieve.  The songs themselves are catchy enough with a bouncy 60's throwback rock and roll vibe to them.  I'd probably like this a lot more if the vocals were better, but alas, it just wasn't meant to be.

Shitbox Jimmy - The Movie:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Against Me - Shape Shift With Me 2xLP - Blue Vinyl (/500)


Total Treble (2016)

I've been listening to Against Me for a really long time.  While I can't say I was one of those first super early fans or anything, I have watched them go from No Idea to Fat Wreck to Sire and then to Total Treble.  I've seen their style morph and change over the years.  Shifting shape, if you will.  They've done some records I've truly loved and have also done a few records that I didn't like as much.  

Where Shape Shift With Me falls in their discography is something of a mixed bag.  There's a few pretty great songs on here, in particular I enjoy the straight ahead rock vibe of "12:03" and the Pogues style pogo-er "Haunted, Haunting, Haunts."  The problem with this album is there is an awful lot of filler.  Songs that aren't very interesting and just kind of go through the motions.  

"Boyfriend" is mid tempo, sung with mid enthusiasm and plods along.  "Crash" is a quick little pop song, but feels so out of place and boring compared to the rest of the Against Me catalog.  "Norse Truth" is certainly different from anything Against Me has ever released, but that's not a compliment.  Sung with a monotone delivery with rapid fire talking vocals, it sounds like it's trying to riff on Ted Leo's "Ballad Of The Sin Eater," but it really, really falls short.  

Shape Shift With Me isn't a bad record, but it's not really all that good either.  It's kind of middle ground.  Worth the occasional spin, but it will never be anything that I listen to repeatedly, especially since there are so many other Against Me records that are much better.

Against Me - "12:03":

Against Me - "Norse Truth":

Monday, October 17, 2016

Chung Antique - Artesian Swell 7" - Clear Vinyl


Electricity & Lust (2016)

I received this 7" in the mail to check out along with a note saying it was being sent to me because I had reviewed The Rutabega album.  That immediately intrigued me, but I did temper my enthusiasm as the note went on to describe the band as being an instrumental band.  Even at their very best, I have a hard time with instrumental bands.  I'm not sure what it is, but unless you are The Minibosses or someone else doing some pretty spectacular shredding, chances are I'm probably going to end up getting bored.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened with this 7" from Chung Antique.  Nothing about it is inherently bad, as far as instrumental bands go, but I'm just left not totally understanding the point of it all when the songs are finished.  Both clock in around the five minute mark and both kind of feel like they just go on forever.  There's nothing particularly interesting going on, it tends to be a handful of riffs repeated over and over.

The songs themselves are a bit mathy and makes me think of some of those old midwest bands like Karate or perhaps NYC's Turing Maching.  I suppose if you like bands like those, this will probably be more your speed than it is mine.  For me, they're just a couple of really long songs that meander around for a while.  

Chung Antique - Artesian Swell 7":

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Color TV - Meat Wagon 7"


Deranged (2016)

I picked up an album by a band called W.H. Walker a few years ago and over the years it has become one of my very favorite records.  The way that album channels the band's infectious party energy is the sort of thing just just sticks with me.  I've been clamoring for a follow up for years.  Unfortunately, as is often the case, it seems W.H. Walker split up.  Sad times for sure.  However, in doing some good old fashion internet digging, I stumbled across a new band that sprung from their ashes: Color TV.

I picked up Color TV's demo tape a few months back and thought it was a good time.  Their first proper 7" is even better.  Though I do miss the unadulterated fun of W.H. Walker, if you are looking for some straight ahead catchy punk rock, you aren't going to do much better than Color TV.  They keep their songs fast and to the point in a way that isn't that sonically different from The Marked Men.  Downstroke laden verses give way to bright singalong choruses making this a pretty killer 7" start to finish.

This is a band that is absolutely off to a great start.  I'm certainly eager to hear where they go next, though it also wouldn't bum me out if they decided to get W.H. Walker going again at the same time.  There's plenty of room in this world for two great bands.

Color TV - Meat Wagon 7":

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart - Red Vinyl (/300)


Dirtnap (2016)

Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart is the second album from the UK's Martha.  I bought and enjoyed their first LP that had come out on Salinas records.  I kind of feel the same way about the new record as I did their previous one.  It's good.  It's not mind blowing or anything, but it is a solid poppy punk record.

The male/female vocals make for some interesting dynamics, both with backing harmonies and the way the melody of each song works out.  I had previously compared them to a band from Japan called Cigaretteman in the way the vocal interplay works over the course of a Martha song.  While I still see that comparison on Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart, I think the music side of the equation is slightly more subdued than it was on their last record, Courting Strong.

That's really it honestly.  It's a good record.  I have plenty of records that are pretty good like this one.  That doesn't mean they're bad at all, but what it usually ends up meaning is that they tend to get filed away and forgotten after the initial 'new release feeling' wears off.  We'll see how this works out for Martha.

Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Patsy's Rats - Rock N' Roll Friend 7"


La-Ti-Da (2016)

Another La-Ti-Da single and another band that's new to me.  Patsy's Rats hail from Portland, OR and have crammed two songs worth of poppy, catchy rock and roll into this 7".  Led by singer Patsy Gelb, the band combines 70's power pop guitar noise and instantly hummable vocal melodies.  

The A side is the highlight for me (which it should be, that's the whole point of an A side, right?).  "Rock N Roll Friend" is fast paced and bouncy, juggling upbeat guitar riffs and a thumping rhythm section.  Things slow down slightly with "Hard Time Karen."  Though just because the tempo is a bit more low key, it doesn't really make the song any less formidable than its companion on side A.  It's another tremendously catchy song with a big hooky chorus.  

All in all a very enjoyable 7" and one that I'm not sure that I would have ever heard if I hadn't picked up the big pack of records that La-Ti-Da offered as a bulk purchase.  It may not have been a singles club in the traditional way, but it still achieved the same goal, getting me a bunch of new bands to listen to.  That's something I can always get behind.

Patsy's Rats - Rock N' Roll Friend 7":

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tenement - S/T EP 12" - Orange Vinyl


Deranged (2016)

Tenement's new 12" was originally released as a tour only cassette, though this new vinyl version has two extra songs and less tape warble than the original release. I've been a pretty big Tenement fan for quite some time and have been borderline obsessed with the band since their Napalm Dream full length.  They're a particularly creative band, sometimes taking detours into areas that I don't necessarily like, but they do always keep things interesting.  

On this latest self titled EP, they stick to a sound that is a bit more pop and a bit more traditional.  Frankly, there are few bands in the world that can dole out a serving of guitar pop better than Tenement, but their ability to mix in some slower, borderline country songs is what is most impressive to me.  From the hyper start/stop guitar buzz of opener "Everyone To Love You," you'd think the segue into the much more subdued "Underworld Hotel" would be clunky, but Tenement manages to swing between tempos and genres with ease and always seem to be able to bring all of the songs under a cohesive umbrella.  It's a remarkable achievement and one that could not be pulled off by most bands.

For me the highlight is one of the newly added songs, "The Strangest Couple In Love."  It's a perfect mid tempo rock song.  It has the big fuzzy guitars that I love, catchy singalong verses and some pretty gigantic hooks. It's simply another great release from one of the best bands playing rock and roll music today.

Tenement - S/T 12":

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Strange Things - Higher Anxiety 7"


La-Ti-Da (2016)

Next up from the batch of La-Ti-Da singles that I picked up is a band from Vancouver called Strange Things.  All I can do is think of the show Stranger Things when I see their band name.  An unintended consequence I'm sure.  I often talk about why I like singles clubs and while the La-TiDa blind buy I did a while ago wasn't a club exactly, it was me committing to purchase a bunch of records that I didn't know if I'd like.  It often works out great, but there is the occasional dud.

You can call this particular dud Strange Things.  There's nothing inherently bad about them, if you like this sort of thing.  The problem is I do not like this sort of thing at all.  Strange Things are playing the sort of 60's tinged psych throwback nonsense that made me stop buying records from Trouble In Mind.  There is so much great music from the 60's, why bands insist on mining this particular strain is something that I don't really understand.

The recording of the songs is cavernous, the band sounds like they're about a mile away from the nearest microphone and all of the sounds sort of blend together into an indecipherable drone.  The vocals are buried, but since they are pretty monotone, I suppose that doesn't really matter all that much.  With all of that said, these guys could be the best band in the world at playing this type of music, but I'd never know as it just isn't the sort of thing I like listening to. 

Strange Things - Higher Anxiety 7":

Monday, October 3, 2016

Beach Slang - A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings LP - Green/Blue Swirl Vinyl


Polyvinyl (2016)

Beach Slang is a really odd band.  While I do like them, sometimes I feel like they're begging me to roll my eyes and make fun of them.  Beach Slang has a lot going against them.  There's the awful over sentimentality of their lyrics, which really border on too cheesy for about eighty percent of the album.  Then there's the truly ridiculous production on the vocals, which sound like a mix of trying-too-hard Blake Schwarzenbach and a Decepticon with strep throat.  It's actually remarkable that the songs themselves are good enough to overcome these things.

That ability to make these songs listenable, more than anything, is at the heart of Beach Slang.  Even if the heart is on your sleeve, in your throat, broken or any other clich├ęd song device (and every one of them is fair game for Beach Slang's middle school diary of lyrics), what this band has been able to capture is a big, important sounding bash of rock and roll songs.  

The tempos vary from straight ahead rockers like ""Future Mix Tape For The Art Kids" to slightly faster ragers like "Atom Bomb" to slowed down, triumphant beauties like "Hot Tramps."  These guys have the chops to make the music itself seem rich, full and important.  That they are using it to delivery the message they are is somewhat suspect, but I'll take a good song when it is presented to me.

At then end of the day, A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings is a good record.  The more I listen to it, the more I become numb to the lyrics and just enjoy the songs for what they are.  I imagine if you are fourteen years old and feel a bit out of place, this type of music is probably somewhat cathartic and helpful.  But when you're closer to forty, you can just appreciate the fact that there's a few guys out there putting out music that's pretty good.  Sometimes, that's enough.

Beach Slang - Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings: