Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gleam Garden - Singles 2006 - 2013 CD


Snuffy Smiles (2015)

This was a CD that was on my list of things to hunt down while in Japan.  I have to once again thank Kazu from Waterslide records for helping me find it.  Due to its minimal artwork and lack of a spine, I don't know if I would have tracked this down on my own.  Luckily, Kazu found it at one of the record stores we went to and now it is in my collection.

Gleam Garden has been one of the great Japanese bands of the last decade.  They have a few albums out and have released a lot of singles.  This CD compiles most of their 7"s along with a few CD and compilation tracks.  I had most of these songs previously from the various Snuffy Smile 7"s in their catalog, though the compilation songs included are new to me.  Also, it's kind of nice to have everything on one CD that I can just play from start to finish.  Sure, it would be nice if this was an LP, but singles comps are one of those times where I really don't have a problem with their not being a vinyl release.  After all, I do have just about all of these songs on vinyl from the 7"s.

Musically, Gleam Garden are simply amazing.  Fast and loud, they come roaring at you with their guitar attack.  You can hear hints of Dickie Hammond style riffs on some songs, while on others the chord progressions are more immediate and stripped down.  No matter what the song, Gleam Garden is always there to cram in a hook or a chorus that makes you want to start jumping around whatever room you are in.  They've managed to capture an energy in these recordings that can elude so many bands.

Simply put, I just love this band and wish they got more attention here in America.  Pick this or any of their other records up if you see them.

Gleam Garden - "Factory" (this is a live version, but the studio version is on this comp):

Gleam Garden - "Evaporation" (Also a live version, I can't really find many of the regular versions floating around online)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Record Store Visit: Disk Union Ochanomizu - Tokyo, Japan - 12/28/16


The hotel we stayed at in Japan was in a section of Tokyo called Ochanomizu.  It was in between the Akihabara train stations and the Ochanomizu station.  We used both, but the Ochanomizu station was the one that we used a bit more often.  This particular Disk Union was right across the street from the Ochanomizu station and was only 4 blocks or so from our hotel.  Though I only got to go in once, it was always cool that I was walking by my 'local' record shop every time I went somewhere.

Like the Disk Union in Nakano, the Ochanomizu station was something of a one stop shop kind of place.  Most genres were represented at least a little bit.  There were more CDs than vinyl, but the vinyl section was still pretty big, especially the 7" section which was well stocked with cool used records.  The day we went was our first full day in Japan so I think, like in Nakano, that I probably should have tried a bit harder to get back to this shop during the trip for a lengthier dig.  I have a feeling there were probably some undiscovered gems floating around, but we were tired and we hit this store towards the end of the day.

I only picked up one record here, an old four way split 7" that had a Husking Bee song on it.  A cool record for sure, but I think there probably was more here to find if I had a bit more time.

Bonus Store: A couple of blocks away, still in Ochanomizu is a 2 story Disk Union store that specializes in heavy metal.  I didn't totally realize that until we had gone inside and since I don't really listen to any heavy metal, we didn't stay long and I didn't buy anything, but I still think it is neat that a store like this exists and was full of people looking for some loud screeching riffs.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sonny Vincent & Spite - Mary Ann 7" - Gold Vinyl


Big Neck (2015)

I'll admit that I was surprised to get this 7" in the mail from Big Neck records.  I hadn't ever received anything from them before, plus this 7" came out back in 2015, so it's not a new release of theirs.  That being said, I certainly do not put an expiration date on tunes and I'm always happy to write up something about a good record that has been sent my way.

On the A side, Sonny Vincent & Spite serve up "Mary Ann."  It's a mid tempo, really catchy power pop number that honestly kind of caught me by surprise.  I'm used to Sonny being a little bit gruffer than this, but "Mary Ann" sounds straight out of something from the poppier side of The Sultans.  It's probably one of my favorite things I've heard from Sonny Vincent.

On the B side we go back to the snarl and punk rock that I more associate with Sonny Vincent.  "Inflection" is slower, but it has a nasty thump to it.  It's the kind of song that just growls in your face, daring you to mess with it.  There's also some  nice, pissed off sounding saxophone to really bring things home.  I guess I should probably mention there are some other punk rock luminaries playing on this record with Sonny including folks from The Damned, Sex Pistols and Stooges.  For me, it's really Sonny Vincent who shines on this 7" and even just for "Mary Ann," it's worth picking up.

Sonny Vincent & Spite - Mary Ann 7":

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Husking Bee - Put On Fresh Paint LP


Doghouse (1999)

This might be a slightly odd choice for the first record to write about that I picked up in Japan.  But, as I've been out of commission with the sickness for the past few weeks, I haven't really gotten the chance to spend as much time with most of the new records that I bought.  Put On Fresh Paint, however, is an album I've been listening to for almost 20 years, making it much easier to write about.

This isn't the Japanese version of this Husking Bee album.  I looked for the Japanese version while in Tokyo, but I didn't come across it.  However, I did find the version on Doghouse records and it was only four dollars.  So to me, that's an easy buy and I'll have to keep looking for the Japanese one.

I first heard of Husking Bee a couple of years before Doghouse put out the album in America.  Back in the 90's, I used to run Snuff's website.  As their fanbase was much more based in the UK and Japan rather than the US, I ended up with a lot of people from other countries getting in touch with me.  One of those people was a fellow named Tetsu from Japan.  We struck up a friendship and used to send each other records that we thought the other would like.  Husking Bee was one of the bands he sent me.

Of Husking Bee's pretty extensive catalog, Put On Fresh Paint and their first album Grip were always my favorites.  They played a super catchy strain of melodic punk rock with those catchy choruses that I love so much.  The vocals are somewhat gruff, but still very tuneful.  The guitar riffs are big and full and they always manage to sneak in an extra hook or breakdown that really sets their songs apart from your run of the mill pop punk band.

I am excited to have this on vinyl finally and it was great to get it at such a cheap price, but part of me is now even more obsessive about finding the Japanese version of the vinyl.  That's OK though, maybe it gives me another excuse to try to get back to Japan.

Husking Bee - "Sing to Me":

Husking Bee - "Single Word":

Monday, January 23, 2017

Record Store Visit: Disc Union Nakano - Tokyo, Japan - 12/28/16


Sorry for such a long delay since the last time I posted anything.  As I had mentioned, I went to Tokyo over New Years and then when I got home, I ended up pretty sick for about 2 weeks.  I'm still kind of pulling out of it, but I'l at least well enough to start up a little writing about my trip.  So, if I were to exclusively write about the record stores and records I bought while in Tokyo, I would probably fill up the next 4-6 months of this website with that.  To keep things a little more varied, I'm going to mix these purchases in with some of the more current albums that I'm buying this year. 

I went to a fair amount of record stores while in Tokyo.  Especially thanks to the wonderful Kazu from Waterslide records who brought me around to the very best ones for the type of records I was shopping for.  Over the weeks I'll be writing a little bit about each store, though as a warning quite a few of them were Disc Unions.  Still even most of the Disc Unions had their own personality.  It really was an amazing trip and even though I've heard my entire life how great record stores are in Japan, even I couldn't believe how incredible they were once I was actually there.

First up is the first record store I visited in Tokyo, the Disc Union in Nakano.  This was the first full day we were in Tokyo and I will admit that I was a little tired when we were walking around.  We tried to cram in a lot this day and we ended up at this shop after some time walking around Akihabara and then the Nakano Broadway building.  I think if I had gone to this shop a little later in the week, I probably would have done some deeper digging, but even in the limited time I was here, I checked out a good amount of stuff.

Unlike some of the more specialized Disc Unions, the one in Nakano was a store that had a pretty
broad focus and carried records from most genres.  Like most of the stores we went to, there was definitely more of a focus on CDs than vinyl, but their vinyl section was still quite big, very impressive and organized to perfection.  One of my favorite things about record stores in Japan is how specifically they divide the sub genres of each section.  Being able to head right to the used Japanese punk section sure made things convenient throughout the trip.

This store was a pretty good size, taking up the second floor of a decently large building.  We were there at about 3 in the afternoon on a Wednesday and the store was just full of people.  It was very rare that any record store we went to wasn't pretty packed with folks buying records.  Warms my heart.

Anyway, this was a really good store, though not at the top of my list at the end of the day.  I only ended up buying a Practice/What-A-Night's split 7", but again, had we gone back on a different day where we were a little more rested, I think I would have had the energy to dig a little longer at this store.  I'm sure I would have unearthed some sort of hidden treasures.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Please Stand By...

I got sick the 2nd to last day I was in Japan and have just not been able to shake it.  I'm hopeful to start posting some new reviews on Monday.  Rest assured, I bought WAY too many records while I was in Japan so I have a lot of records and stores to write about.  A pretty large portion of my trip looked like the picture above, so If you are interested in reading about Japanese punk rock, have I got some records for you.

I'm going to go back to coughing now.