Monday, December 19, 2016

The Absolute Best Records Of 2016


Once again, it's that most wonderful time of the year.  Time to reflect on 2016.  I won't be alone in saying that quite a bit of this past year sucked on ice.  But at least there were some pretty good records that came out.  Top it off with an end of the year trip to Japan and I think I'll make it out of this year in one piece.  2017 is a different story, but we'll deal with that when it arrives.

One of my very favorite records of this past year is one that I just can't bring myself to rank on my list:

Chestnut Road – LP II – PopKid/Brassneck/Snuffy Smiles

Since it came out on PopKid, it doesn't seem fair to put it up against the others, so I'll just let you know that I love this record a lot.

For the rest of the ranked list, we've got some old favorites like Mrs. Magician and Steve Adamyk Band.  Both are bands that never let me down and their records that came out in 2016 were as great I had hoped they would be. That being said, once again I've stumbled across some great new bands this year as well.  Wild Animals, Laika's Orbit and Bent Shapes really hit it out of the park and gave me some new tunes to be excited about.

As always, here's my top 30 list and then some of the other records I picked up in 2016.  This will be my last post of the year.  I'm heading out to Japan the day after Christmas so that'll be a crazy time.  I plan of a lot of record store visits so I should have some interesting things to write about next year.  If you want to follow along with the wackiness, I'll still be active on Twitter and on Instagram as @TimPopKid on both.  Happy New Year!

01 - Mrs. Magician – Bermuda – Swami (Listen)
02 - Steve Adamyk Band – Graceland – Dirtnap (Listen)
03 - Title Tracks – Long Dream –Ernest Jenning (Listen)
04 - Wild Animals – Basements – Music To Fight Hypocrisy – Waterslide (Listen)
05 - Laika’s Orbit – No Matter What it Takes – Total Negativity (Listen)
06 - So Cow – Lisa Marie Airplane Tour – Tall Pat (Listen)
07 - Bob Mould – Patch The Sky – Merge (Listen)
08 - Medictation – Warm Places – Dead Broke (Listen)
09 - Good Shade – Breakfast – Gut Genug (Listen)
10 - Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place – You’re Doomed. Be Nice. – Temporary Residence (Listen)

11 - Bent Shapes – Wolves Of Want – Slumberland
12 - A Giant Dog – Pile – Merge
13 - Lutheran Heat – Louder From The Other Side – Pinata
14 - Low Culture – Places To Hide – Dirtnap
15 - Hurry – Guided Meditation – Lame-O
16 - The Blind Shake – Celebrate Your Worth – Goner
17 - Marvelous Mark – Crushin’ – Drunken Sailor
18 - V/A – Harcore Matinee – Swami
19 - The Rutabega – Unreliable Narrator – Comedy Minus One
20 - Hot Mass – Nervous Tensions – Brassneck

21 - Danger Signs – Reset – Big Neck
22 - Beach Slang – A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings – Polyvinyl
23 - Notches – High Speed Crimes – Young Modern
24 - Dumpster Babies – Lost and Found – Tall Pat
25 - Toys That Kill – Sentimental Ward – Recess
26 - Pale Lips – Wanna Be Bad – Waterslide
27 - Drakulas – Drakulas – Dirtnap
28 - Spells – Staying In > Going Out – Snappy Little Numbers
29 - Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart – Dirtnap
30 - Plow United – Three – It’s Alive

Other Records I Picked Up This Year:
Against Me – Shape Shift With Me – Total Treble
Audacity – Hyper Vessels – Suicide Squeeze
Basketball Shorts – Hot And Ready – Fleeting Youth
California – California - Blackball
Chandeli-ers – Breaker – Dead Broke / Dirt Cult
Greys – Outer Heaven - Carpark
Mind Spiders - Prosthesis – Dirtnap
Mr. Lif – Don’t Look Down – Mello
Real Numbers – Wordless Wonder – Slumberland
Sega Genocide – Trys – Just Because
Shallow Cuts – Empty Beach Town – No Idea
Terry Malts – Lost At The Party – Slumberland
The Thermals – We Disappear – Saddle Creek
Wavves x Cloud Nothings - Wavves x Cloud Nothings – Ghost Ramp


Thursday, December 15, 2016

I Buy Way Too Many Records Dot Com Turns 5!

It’s kind of crazy when I think about it, but five years ago today I started working on I’m not sure I saw myself doing this 5 years later, but you know what, I still really enjoy writing about records and of course, buying them.

The whole reason I started this site to begin with was essentially as a place to put my best albums of the year list. Prior to setting up this site, I was taking pictures of and writing about records on my Flickr page. I still post each review on my Flickr page every day. Probably more out of habit than for any useful reason at this point.  Anyway, even though I had been posting these pictures and reviews on Flickr for quite a while, I wanted a better destination for my end of the year list.

Once I decided on the website name ( was taken, so I had to put in the word ‘way’) I started working on the basic design on December 15th.  On the 17th, I began to import all of the old reviews I had on Flickr. That took a few days, and then I started using the website as my main outlet for the pictures and reviews shortly thereafter.  I guess you could argue that the 17th is the actual birthday of anything being on the site, but I'll stick with the day I started working on it, which was the 15th.

I can honestly say I never, in a million years, thought I’d have as many people reading this site everyday as I do. Not that it’s a crazy amount or anything, but it sure seems like a lot to me. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that reads my ramblings. I’m well aware I’m not the best writer in the world and I sure feel like I run out of adjectives on a daily basis, but I do appreciate your time. I also wanted to say thanks to all of the bands and labels that have sent me things to review. I never expected to get any free records out of the deal. Even if I didn’t like what you sent, I still appreciate you sending it.

On Monday I’ll be posting my annual Absolute Best Records Of The Year list. After that, the website will be on hiatus, just for a bit. The holidays are coming up and then I’ll be going to Tokyo for 2 weeks. Rest assured, once I get back I’ll have a lot more records that will need to be written about. I plan on hitting up as many record stores there as humanly possible. So, Merry Holiday, Merry New Year, Merry Best of 2016 and thanks for reading.


PS - Sorry about the generic stolen image, I should have planned for a cooler picture that I took myself, but this just sort of snuck up on me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Shipyards - About Light CD


Waterslide (2014)

A few months ago Waterslide records sent me a big pile of CDs to review.  There have been some pretty great albums that I've discovered as I've gone through them, but I think I've saved the best for last one I'm going to be able to review this year.  I would have gotten to it sooner, but I started to get into a time crunch to have all of the 2016 albums reviewed in time for my end of the year list, which is coming soon.

I don't know how I had never heard of Shipyards before hearing this CD.  Maybe it's just that I'm getting older and I can't keep track of things as well as I could when I was a younger fellow, but if I had missed this album completely, that would have been tragic.  Shipyards is playing the exact kind of punk rock that I want to listen to.  They are the very epitome of the great Japanese punk band.  When I listen to this album, it reminds me of the glory days of the mid to late 90's, when bands like Blew, Lovemen, Sprocket Wheel, The Urchin and International Jet Set were putting out some of my very favorite records.

About Lights is a direct descendant of the sort of music that these bands bands were playing.  Shipyards are are crafting energetic, but still very melodic punk rock.  They have a fierce guitar attack, but the songs are just so damn catchy.  They have the kind of group backing vocals that just make you want to punch your fist in the air and scream along at the top of your lungs.

If it isn't obvious, I love this record.  I only wish it had come in 2016 so I could have put it on my favorite albums of the year list.  Or, I wish I would have heard it in 2014 so I could have put it on that years list.  Regardless, better late than never.  I'm just glad I didn't miss this near perfect album.

Shipyards - About Light:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Title Tracks - Long Dream LP


Ernest Jenning (2016)

I've been waiting for a new Title Tracks record for a very long time.  Their last LP In Blank is one of my very favorite records of the last ten years, but this follow up has been a long time coming.  When you take five years between albums, that's a lot of anticipation to build up, plus the fact that I was such a gigantic fan of the last record puts Long Dream in a precarious position.  Luckily, Title Tracks really come through and Long Dream is pretty fantastic.

The album starts of with an incredible one-two punch of "Low Cool" and "I Don't Need To Know."  Both show Title Tracks at the very top of their game.  They lean more towards straight up power pop than their last album, but they are every bit as fun and catchy as anything the band released previously.  

From there we hit something of a roadblock on "Empty Heavens."  This one is slower, has an 80's feel to it and kind of grinds the album to a screeching halt.  I'm not sure where this song came from exactly and why it is featured so early in the album.  If this was maybe the last song of the record it would make a little more sense contextually, but placed in the third position it's a real momentum killer.

Luckily, after "Empty Heavens" Long Dream picks back up and never lets go, dishing out great song after great song.  When Title Tracks are on point, very few bands can touch them.  Even though at the end of the day, I probably like In Blank a little bit better, Long Dream is a very worthy successor.  It's easily one of my very favorite albums of the year and and I have a feeling that I'm just going to like it more every time I listen to it.

Title Tracks - Long Dream:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Drakulas - S/T LP - Red Vinyl (/200)


Dirtnap (2016)

Drakulas' debut for Dirtnap is also their first full length, following up on a 7" from a couple of years ago that I don't have.  This is my first exposure to the band and in general, I'm pretty impressed.  Boasting a 'members of' resume that includes bands like Riverboat Gamblers and Rise Against, I wasn't sure what this was going to sound like. That being said, they did have the Dirtnap seal of quality slapped on, so that usually pushes me towards a purchase more often than not.

What I ended up is an album that I think is pretty good, but is missing that little something that pushes it into rarified territory.  I think it's probably the vocals, which tend to live on the snotty, nasal, punk rock side of the spectrum.  I tend to favor vocals that are little more melodic and less acerbic.  With that said, Drakulas still crank out a hell of an album, full of fast paced, Marked Men style downstrokes and some pretty energetic hooks.

When the band really hits their stride on songs like "Sunny Tzu" or "VHS" I'm all in.  The combination of the buzzsaw guitar chords and the snappy choruses are right up my alley.  Less successful for me are when the band goes off the beaten path on something like "My Name In Your Mouth" or when they're simply going too fast even for me as they do on "Headphones/Slit Throats." But these are minor detours on an album that is a fun listen for the vast majority of the time.  It may not be in album of the year territory, but it's definitely worth a listen.  Especially if you like your rock and roll fast, loud and fuzzy.

Drakulas - S/T:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Blind Shake - Celebrate Your Worth LP - Blue Vinyl (/50)


Goner (2016)

Just to mention right off the back, I think that the information I've found online that indicates there are only fifty copies pressed on blue vinyl is a little suspect.  That's a lower amount than is typical for Goner, but that's the information I'll go with unless someone can point me to anything that says otherwise.  Seems awfully low to me.  Anyway, I'm glad mine is on blue.

The Blind Shake is one of those bands that absolutely goes against type for me.  I say this every time I review one of their records, but if you just take a surface look at this band, it doesn't make sense that I like them.  Noisy, kind of sludgy, weird guitar solo things.  It shouldn't work for me, but it always does.  There is something so engaging about this band's manic energy and the way they construct their songs.  There's always the slightest hint of a hook buried in the song, almost like The Blind Shake is daring you to find it.

As is usual with Blind Shake albums, I gravitate towards the fastest and catchiest songs on the album.  In this case it's standouts like "Reasonable World," "Society of Plants" and "Demox."  But as usual, the whole album is captivating as the band jumps from one sound to another with ease.  One thing you can really never say about The Blind Shake is to accuse them of having songs that all sound the same.  Celebrate Your Work is another example of their dynamic songwriting and their ability to pull me into some of the most unlikely bits of noise.

The Blind Shake - Celebrate Your Worth:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dumpster Babies - Lost and Found LP - Gold Marbled Vinyl


Tall Pat (2016)

Lost and Found is the follow up to 2013's self titled Dumpster Babies release.  In the interim, the band has grown older, wiser and much more mature.  OK, that's probably a bunch of bullshit.  These guys still sound like they're having an absolute blast playing an ultra catchy strain of sloppy rock and roll.

Lost and Found is one of those rare albums that, to my ears, is every bit as good as the first record that I heard from them.  Even if the band hasn't matured, they have tightened up their sound just a bit.  While they haven't lost any of their ramshackle, good times vibe, the hooks are a more focused and the slower songs have that little something extra that elevates them above just being rests between the fast ones.

The last time I wrote about Dumpster babies, I had compared them to Earthmen & Strangers and The Yolks.  I think those comparisons are both still apt for Lost and Found, particularly when the band puts their foot on the gas and the downstrokes start flying.  I still don't love the band's name and I can't say the art is really my style, but when the needle hits the vinyl that's where Dumpster Babies really shine.

Dumpster Babies - Lost and Found:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Medictation - Warm Places LP - Orange Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2016)

2016 has kind of been a shit year, taking away so many artists I respect.  And as bad as it has been, when Dickie Hammond passed away in 2015, I felt a profound loss.  This was a man whose music has had such an impact on me directly and had also influenced so many bands that I love.  It was a sad, sad day for punk rock.  Warm Places is the last record that Dickie was part of.

Also featuring member of The Sainte Catherines, Medictation is a roaring tribute to Dickie that is simply spectacular.  Dickie Hammond's guitar work is so distinct.  Whether you go through HDQ or Leatherface or Doctor Bison, you can always hear the way Dickie's guitar influences those band.  It's so powerful, but beautiful at the same time.  Medictation, for the most part, tends to stay closer to the Leatherface playbook.  Though, definitely more in line with the quieter moments of albums like The Last and Minx.

The vocals are appropriately raspy and wonderful.  Aside from an odd turn on "Stalingrad," where the super low, spoken word type vocals actually remind me a little of some of those goofy old Dandy Warhols songs.  Not that this song is a goof, but it stands in contrast so sharply with the rest of the album.  Still, this record is great.  It's a definite highlight in 2016 and we sure could use some of those.

Medictation - Warm Places:

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band - Don't Shake CD


Five-Five Hole (2016)

This particular CD made its way to me, I think, primarily due to the fact that I've been active on Rocket From The Crypt message boards and listservs since the mid 90's.  Sir Coyler is one of the fellows that I've met along the way and it's always interesting to see the sort of music that folks you know create.  Luckily, I don't need to say nice things out of some sort of misplaced loyalty.  Don't Shake is a fun album that I would have been happy to review even if I didn't internet-know this guy.

There's a good mish mash of rock and roll styles throughout the course of this album.  Some songs have a a straight forward noisy garage sound like "S.L.V.M." or "Invisible Blues." Then you have others that lean more toward a borderline boogie feel such as  "Charades at the Condo."  There's even some cool surf moments like the instrumental "Sticky D's."  If you've got an itch, seems like Sir Coyler and his crew are happy to try to scratch it for you.

The songs that tend to stand out to me are the ones that lean on the poppier side of things and have those big hooks that I like, but the whole album is a fun ride from start to finish.  These guys are likely under the radar a bit, so they're worth digging for. Well, I'll dig for you:

Sir Coyler & His Asthmatic Band - Don't Shake:

Saturday, December 3, 2016

40 Albums in 40 Years - 1976-2016

40 Albums in 40 Years - 1976-2016 

My buddy Scott (@skot1107) recently turned 40 and made a list of his favorite records that came out each year he was alive.  I thought this was an interesting idea so I decided to make my list for my birthday as well.  Since I turn 40 today, here we go.

Now, just to get it out of the way: This is mostly a list of how I feel about these records right now.  If you were to look at my best records lists from prior years, they don't all match up anymore.  In some instances my favorite record for a given year has changed over time.  Of course, warm nostalgia for some childhood albums does play a part.

I'm also well aware that my choices for the early 80's are probably suspect to some.  I'll be honest, I don't really listen to a ton of bands from back then.  Sure, I like The Replacements and Husker Du just fine, but I don't relisten to those bands over and over and over.  I guarentee I've listened to these Weird Al records a lot more than any early punk rock band.  And I promise you I've listend to Briefcase Full of Blues more times than any record I own. Also, 1982 appears to be the worst year in the history of recorded music.

I had to leave out some of my very favorite records of all time just because of the year it happened to hit.  I could not imagine making a list like this that didn't include One Foot In The Grave by Beck, but it had the bad luck of coming out the same year as Jehu in 1994. This happens for a few other heavy hitters as well.

Lastly, I haven't put this year's record on the list yet.  I'll come back and update this once I have posted my best records of 2016 list in a few weeks.

1976 - David Bowie - Station To Station
1977 - John Williams - Star Wars Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1978 - The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues
1979 - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Damn The Torpedoes
1980 - The Blues Brothers - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
1981 - The Cars - Shake It Up
1982 - Buckner & Garcia - Pac Man Fever
1983 - Weird Al Yankovic - Weird Al Yankovic
1984 - Weird Al Yankovic - In 3D
1985 - Weird Al Yankovic - Dare To Be Stupid
1986 - Weird Al Yankovic - Polka Party
1987 - Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded
1988 - Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
1989 - Snuff - Snuff Said
1990 - Leatherface - Fill Your Boots
1991 - Leatherface - Mush
1992 - Rocket From The Crypt - Circa Now
1993 - Bum - Wanna Smash Sensation
1994 - Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime
1995 - Rocket From The Crypt - The State Of Art Is On Fire
1996 - Snuff - Demmamussabebonk
1997 - Him Kerosene - Start.Stop.
1998 - Broccoli - Home
1999 - Built To Spill - Keep It Like A Secret
2000 - Hot Snakes - Automatic Midnight
2001 - Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds
2002 - Hot Snakes - Suicide Invoice
2003 - The Thermals - More Parts Per Million
2004 - The Marked Men - On The Outside
2005 - Oranger - New Comes And Goes
2006 - Camp Radio - Camp Radio
2007 - Statues - New People Make Us Nervous
2008 - Night Marchers - See You In Magic
2009 - Sick Sick Birds - Heavy Manners
2010 - Steve Adamyk Band - Steve Adamyk Band
2011 - Title Tracks - In Blank
2012 - Mrs Magician - Strange Heaven
2013 - Night Marchers - Allez Allez
2014 - Cloud Nothings - Here And Nowhere Else
2015 - Clearance - Rapid Rewards
2016 - TBA

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spells - Staying In > Going Out LP - Blue Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2016)

I've said this a few times in the past, but Snappy Little Numbers is fast becoming one of those record labels that I really trust.  It seems that no matter what record they release, I usually end up liking it.  Having enjoyed a prior Spells 7" as well as a split cassette they were on, I was expecting another winner.  Guess what? They didn't let me down.

If you look at the track listing of the new Spells album, it might alarm some.  There are a few kind of silly song titles like "Raditude," Staying In Is The New Going Out," "Leisure Seizure" and "Nitro Breakdown Right On."  Thankfully, even though Spells definitely employs an upbeat, party band vibe, their songs aren't joke songs.  Each is a well crafted, bouncy slice of pop with a punky aftertaste.  The gang style singalong backup vocals punctuate the hooks and the guitar has a nice, nasty snarl to it.

More than anything, they remind me of the band Napalmpom, except Spells did everything right that Napalmpom was doing wrong.  No glam rock underpinnings and catchier songs.  Definitely worth a listen.

Spells - Staying In > Going Out: