Thursday, November 15, 2018

Otis Redding - The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)

Untitled

Atlantic (2017)

Over the next few months, I will be writing about each of the individual albums in the Otis Redding Definitive Studio Albums box set.  It would be far too daunting a task to try to summarize so many great albums into one review for the entire set.  Otis Redding is one of my favorites and each album deserves to be savored.

Next up is Otis Redding's second full album, The Great Otis Redding Sings Soul Ballads.  It's a lengthy little album title and it does seem a little presumptive to be calling Otis great on just his second album.  But by the time the album ends, there's just no doubt that he richly deserves that moniker.  Incredible song after incredible song reveal themselves as the record plays.  I think the most famous song from this album is the classic "Mr. Pitiful," and it's a classic for a reason.

That's just one of so many great tracks on this album. "That's How Strong My Love Is," "I Want To Thank You" and "Home In Your Heart" are easily on par with "Mr. Pitiful" and show just how much Otis grew from his first album to this one.  You can tell already that he's something special and is every bit as great as the album title suggests.

Otis Redding - "Home In Your Heart":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6XXKSamVpw

Otis Redding - "That's How Strong My Love Is":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySvRbV3_C6g

Otis Redding - "Mr. Pitiful":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba5cNmXA-W8

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Jamie 4 President - The Heartbreak Campaign CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2017)

Jamie 4 President is another project from Wild Animals singer/guitarist Jamie Ruiz Green.  I really think Wild Animals are a fantastic band, so I was excited to listen to this album.  While you will absolutely hear similarities to his other band (it is the same singer after all), Jamie 4 President explores new sounds that really differentiate it from Wild Animals records.

What I hear most from Jamie 4 President is a similarity to the sort of lower-fi US indie rock of the mid 90s. Maybe a little bit like poppier Guided By Voices (though not quite that lo-fi) or perhaps owing some inspiration to the more upbeat moments of the Polyvinyl catalog.  I tend to enjoy the louder songs the best like "Everything Fades" and "Power Ballad Prince," but every song on this album is worth checking out.  I'd also be remiss not to point out "Far From Blue," with it's "Lucky Denver Mint" style drumming and big, catchy chorus.

The Heartbreak Campaign is a great listen.  Whether you're already familiar with Wild Animals or not, it's worth checking out.  And if you haven't heard Wild Animals, you should correct that oversight right away.

Jamie 4 President - The Heartbreak Campaign:
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-heartbreak-campaign

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Black Paw - Bait 7"

Untitled

Night Animal (2018)

I've been missing the band Rumspringer for years.  They were one of my favorite discoveries of the past ten years or so and I still have both of their albums in heavy rotation.  It's so exciting to see Wes from Rumspringer with a new band called Black Paw.  Formed from the ashes of the short lived New Colonies, Black Paw provide four songs of the sort of crunchy, melodic pop punk that I love.

Black Paw is gruff without sacrificing the hooks and they are aggressive without losing sight of the melody.  The four songs on this 7" are every bit as good as anything Rumspringer ever cranked out.  I'm so thrilled it exists and the only issue I have is that there are only four songs.  A fourteen song full length would be much better and would have certainly placed high on my records of the year list if the other theoretical songs were as good as the four on this 7".

 I have nothing further to add.  This is excellent.  Go buy it right now.

Black Paw - Bait 7":
https://nightanimalrecords.bandcamp.com/album/black-paw-ep

Monday, November 12, 2018

V/A - Mainspring Tribute CD (/300)

Untitled

Further Platonic (2017)

I will have to admit up front that I am not familiar with the band Mainspring.  I bought this compilation CD based on the fact that The Hum Hums and Short Straw Fate were both on it.  Though after listening to this six song tribute, it's pretty clear to me that I may have missed out on a band that is probably right up my alley.

The CD starts off with a band called Springwater.  I've also never heard of them, but their contribution "The Sun Has Not Yet Come Out" is a hell of a song and a great way to start off this CD.  It's got guitar octaves in just the right places and an incredibly catchy chorus.  I think this is another band I need to hear more from.  The Hum Hums's song "Turn Up" is exactly what I would expect from one of my current favorite bands.  Lots of wonderful harmonies and a melody that will be stuck in my head for weeks.  Short Straw Fate (another of my current favorite Japanese bands) takes things up a notch with their rendition of"Ordinary Persons."  They have a bit more of an aggressive sound, channelling their mid 90s influences.   They would sound right at home on Crackle or Snuffy Smile. 

I don't know Cody and The Checkmates, but their song stands out as being mellower than some of the others.  A little less distortion than some bands, but they still have a great guitar tone and this is another extremely catchy song.  Passive Chord turns the fuzzy guitars back up and their song "Still"  reminds me a little bit of the band Thirsty Chords.  They are another band I'd like to hear more from.  Wrapping things up is Slugger Machine, a band that I do have other records by.  "Belief" is their contribution and it's great.  The way the guitars sound remind me of a much faster Silver Scooter, but with stronger vocals and more emphasis on the hooks. 

This is a great CD.  It makes me want to hear more of the band that wrote all of these songs, Mainspring, plus it's given me my first taste of three new bands that I'd like to find more records of.  It seems like every time I buy a record from Kazu, it makes me want to buy ten more.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Mudhoney / Hot Snakes - Split 7" - White Vinyl

Untitled

Sub Pop (2018)

This week, I'm going to go through each of the four split 7"s that Sub Pop released as part of their SPF30 singles spectacular.  These 7"s were available at the Sub Pop 30th Anniversary show and then were later sold online.  Last on the list is the split 7" between Mudhoney and Hot Snakes.  This 7" is the reason I wanted these.  I was very lucky as a friend in Seattle picked up a copy for me at the festival itself.  At the time it was unclear if the records were going to be available elsewhere, so I just wanted to say than you Sir.

Mudhoney is a band that I don't think I've tried listening to in twenty five years.  They were never really my thing and I always felt they had more noise than hooks.  Their contribution is "One Bad Actor."  They still seem to have a fair amount of lead guitar wanking and a sludgy, heavy sound that's probably not too dissimilar to what they were cranking out in the 90s.  Chances are if you already like Mudhoney, you're going to like this.  For me, it's just not a sound that's ever been close to my heart.

A band that is very close to my heart is Hot Snakes.  They are one of my all time favorites and it's no surprise that I love this song as much as I do.  "They Put You Up to This" ticks all of the boxes that I want to hear from Hot Snakes.  It has a riff that is reminiscent of "Bye Nancy Boy" and it builds while the drums pound into a deceptively catchy crescendo.  It's another in a proud line of mid tempo maulers from the Snakes and I couldn't love it any more if I tried.  It's an essential addition to your Hot Snakes collection.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Frankie Cosmos / LVL UP - Split 7" - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Sub Pop (2018)

This week, I'm going to go through each of the four split 7"s that Sub Pop released as part of their SPF30 singles spectacular.  These 7"s were available at the Sub Pop 30th Anniversary show and then were later sold online.  Next  up is the split 7" with Frankie Cosmos and LVL UP.

Frankie Cosmos took me by surprised as it reminded me of something that would have fit in on K Records in the mid 90s.  There are elements of "Home is Where" that bring Go Sailor to mind, but it's not quite as cuddlecore as that.  I also think it's something that probably could have fit in on the Juno soundtrack as it has a similar vibe to those songs.  The vocals seem a little loud in the mix to me, but it's a decent enough song.

LVL UP on the flip side is slower and has some psychedelic leanings.  There's a bit of fuzz on the vocals and the music itself is very full, with the bass guitar very prominent.  It sounds like a cross between a less poppy Mikal Cronin and some of the bands on Trouble In Mind that are too far out for me.  "Orchard" isn't a bad song, but it's nothing I find that exciting either.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Shabazz Palaces / Chad VanGaalen - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Sub Pop (2018)

This week, I'm going to go through each of the four split 7"s that Sub Pop released as part of their SPF30 singles spectacular.  These 7"s were available at the Sub Pop 30th Anniversary show and then were later sold online.  Next  up is the split 7" with Shabazz Palaces and Chad VanGaalen.

Shabazz Palaces is another group that I hadn't heard (or even heard of) before I put this 7" down on the turntable.  I can't really say I know what to make of it.  It's drum machine beats paired with a warped bass sound that sort of makes me think of godheadSilo, but with no distortion.  The vocals as kind of spoken word, but also somewhat odd.  This might just be one of those things I don't get.

Chad VanGaalen is someone who I'm familiar with, but I've never been particularly impressed with the songs I've heard.  On "Friendly Aliens" it starts off pretty much like I would expect.  Minimal drums and electric guitar, but it's just barely louder than being acoustic.  There's a few sound effects buried in there and it seems like the sort of song that's boring indie rock to me.  But, as the song progresses things really pick up in the chorus.  Everything thing gets louder and the drums are pounding and the guitars are roaring in a way that reminds me of the first Black Eyed Snakes album. Probably the best song I've ever heard from Chad.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Metz / Clipping - Split 7" - Orange Vinyl

Untitled

Sub Pop (2018)

This week, I'm going to go through each of the four split 7"s that Sub Pop released as part of their SPF30 singles spectacular.  These 7"s were available at the Sub Pop 30th Anniversary show and then were later sold online.  First up is the split 7" with Metz and Clipping.

Metz is a band that I always want to like a lot more than I actually do.  There's something intriguing about every song that I hear from them, but for whatever reason there is also something that keeps me from really getting into it.  Their contribution, "Escalator Teeth / On and On" has pounding drums and a repetitive, but quite excellent, guitar riff.  It's somewhat marred by spacey sound effects inserted here and there and vocals that I don't really love.  It's noisy, but still pretty catchy.  Again, I want to like this, but I'm not there yet.

I've not heard Clipping prior to this 7" and I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  It's hip hop, but it's lacking the sort of thing I look for.  The flow of the rapping itself is very good and reminds me a bit of Akrobatik from The Perceptionists, but musically I just don't get what they are doing.  There is no real beat to speak of, just an electronic drone that sounds a bit like Flash Gordon background music whenever Ming is on screen.  It does get progressively louder throughout the song, but it's a total case of blue balls as you keep waiting for that beat to kick in, but it never does.  While I think this song is kind of a bust, I am intrigued enough to check out some of their other stuff to see if that's more my speed.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Otis Redding - Pain In My Heart LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)

Untitled

Atlantic (2017)

As I continue to grow and document my collection of old soul records, I figured I would write up each of these Otis Redding records individually as opposed to just trying to cram in everything I want to say into one review about the entire box set.  That said, I really like having the box set as a whole, I just wish it had included the other main posthumous albums so I could have everything in one nice and easy set.

First up is Otis Redding's debut album, Pain In My Heart.  As great as it is, you really can tell this is his first release.  It's a little sparser than some of his other albums and in a lot of ways you can hear how he was still trying to find his voice.  The really plays like a collection of random songs than it does a cohesive album.  It's a little scattershot with a few chugging rockabilly songs, some slower soul ballads and a somewhat unnecessary version of "Louie Louie."

But, when Otis is playing to his strengths on songs like "Pain In My Heart" and "Security" you can tell that he's really, really close to hitting on the formula that he's been looking for.  Pain In My Heart may not be the Otis album crammed with the most hits, but it's probably the only record of his where you really see his talents coming together.  By his next album he emerged a full blown soul superstar, so it's really interesting to listen to his first crack at it, even if there are a few moments that don't hold up as well as the others.

Otis Redding - "Pain In My Heart":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR0qfLnbwPI

Otis Redding - "Security":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXM_4YVsDHs

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

V/A - Radical Punk For Shits CD

Untitled

Anti-New Waves (2000)

This compilation CD is one that I definitely picked up while I was in Japan.  In addition to the fact that it has quite a few bands that I'm already a big fan of, it's also the very first release that Anti-New Waves ever released.  While that label isn't really known outside of Japan as well as a label like Snuffy Smile, they've put out quite a few records that I really enjoy, so it was kind of cool to be able to buy the record that started it all.

The basic concept of this compilation is Japanese punk rockers covering older UK punk songs.  While cover songs aren't always the most exciting thing for me to listen to, I certainly understand how much fun it is for a band to play a song that they love and was influential to their music.  The good news is that most of the covers on this comp are pretty great.

For me the standouts are Cradle To Graves' take on "Kleenex" by Generation X, Oval's version of "Ulster" by Stiff Little Fingers and Short Circuit taking on "In The City" by The Jam.  Each manages to pay homage to the original version of the song, while still allowing the band's to put their own stamp on the recording.  But really, all eight songs on this are pretty solid.  They all manage to capture the energy and passion that I love about Japanese punk bands, and pour that into some classic punk rock tunes from a prior generation.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Carbonas - Your Moral Superiors 2xLP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Goner (2018)

The Carbonas are a band that I haven't really written about much as I had purchased the vast majority of their records prior to starting up this site.  I don't remember how I heard of the Carbonas originally and I'm not sure if I bought one of their records or the first Gentleman Jesse 7" first, but I kind of came into both bands around the same time and spent a lot of time hunting down weirdo variants of 7"s and LPs.  Some of that was a little frustrating for The Carbonas as several of their really early records were perhaps just a bit too punk rock for me.  But as time went on their songs got poppier and I became more obsessed with finding everything.

This double LP acts as both a singles compilation and an outlet for a bunch of unreleased songs that never saw the light of day when the band was still together.  Like their overall discography, this double LP set can be uneven at times.  For every surefire hit like "Blackout (Waiting To Happen)" or "Frothing At The Mouth" you are going to come across a song or two that is more concerned with being a fast and loud blunt object than making sure the hooks and melodies are all in the right place.

That's one of the charming things about the Carbonas.   While you know that they could bust out the catchiest song in the world if they wanted to, they also just had a love of trash and fuzz that couldn't be contained.  While I think their third full length album that came out on Goner is their best, if you aren't familiar with the band this compilation is actually a really great starting point.  You get a lot of songs from several eras of the band and at least seven or eight songs that are just incredible.  Even if you have all of their 7"s like I do, there's plenty of new material to keep you entertained.

Carbonas - Your Moral Superiors: Singles And Rarities:
https://carbonas.bandcamp.com/album/your-moral-superiors-singles-and-rarities

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Pretty Flowers / Last Good Sleep - Split 7" - Yellow Vinyl (/250)

Untitled

Self Released (2016)

I've mentioned a few times that I've been completely obsessed with The Pretty Flowers' full length Why Trains Crash.  It's one of my absolute favorite records of this year and I have essentially been playing it nonstop since I bought it.  More than anything, it's made me want to hear even more from the band, but unfortunately there aren't too many other releases out there.  One of the few is this split 7" with a band called Last Good Sleep.

We'll start with the Pretty Flowers songs since they're what made me pick up this 7".  The first song is "Inconsiderate Dreams."  It doesn't appear on Why Trains Crash, but it could very easily fit right in with the songs on that album.  It has the dynamic guitar work and insanely catchy hooks that just make me love this band.  The second song on their side of this split is a cover of "Year Of The Cat" by The Lemonheads.  It's a good take on the song and The Pretty Flowers do a nice job of making it sound like one of their own, but let's be honest - I like The Pretty Flowers more than the Lemonheads and would rather just have another original song.

Last Good Sleep isn't a band I'm familiar with.  They have such a strong early 90s feel, I can't even believe this record came out two years ago.  In particular the first song, "Jacranda Mimosifolia" really reminds me of a lot of the fuzzy punk that came out of the Pacific Northwest.  It sounds so much like Some Velvet Sidewalk to me, and that's a band name I haven't written down in a really long time.  The second song, "Candy Knife," is a bit more straightforward, but still sounds like the sort of thing that could have come out on K records in 1992.  That's a compliment, I really dig both of these songs.

The Pretty Flowers / Last Good Sleep - Split 7":
https://theprettyflowers.bandcamp.com/album/the-pretty-flowers-7-split-w-last-good-sleep

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Pavement - Wowee Zowee LP



Domino (2010, Reissue)

There are a few reasons I bought this Pavement reissue.  One is it is one of my favorite albums of all time.  Two is because the version I already had was the original pressing on Big Cat and the vinyl was just so damn thin and flimsy (I don't know why I have the Big Cat version and not the Matador version - though I had the CD originally and picked up the vinyl at some point later on).  And three, I really just wanted to write about it on this site, and buying a new version is a good excuse to do that.  I can say that this 180 gram reissue sounds incredible, better than my original copy.  Though that’s not really why this record means so much to me.

Simply stated, Wowee Zowee is one of the most important records of my life.  It came out at the absolute perfect moment for me to be super impactful and I've just been obsessed with it forever.  I know that Crooked Rain and Slanted & Enchanted were bigger for a lot of folks and I also am aware that as the years have gone by Wowee Zowee has finally started getting the praise it so richly deserves, but for me it's always just been my favorite Pavement album.

Wowee Zowee was the first Pavement record I ever heard.  My friend Scott played it for me when it came out our senior year in high school.  I don't actually know where Scott heard of them.  Of my high school friends he didn't seek out music in quite the same way some of the rest of us did, but he definitely brought this to the table and I will always be indebted to him for doing so.  Right away I was taken by the the fast, noisy songs.  "Flux = Rad" (still my favorite Pavement song), "Best Friends Arm" and "Serpentine Pad" immediately scratched the itch I had at the time for loud raucous tunes.  But as time went by, the slower songs and the variety of the album just started to consume me.

The first one to hit was "We Dance."  Something about that song just started to dig its claws into me.  It's the perfect album opener and my high school group of friends were so into the idea of somehow trying to have it made into the senior prom song.  Didn't happen, I grew up in the northwestern, rural part of NJ, so of course it ended up being a Garth Brooks song.  But I still think of that every time I hear the song.  As the years went by new songs would assert themselves as being incredibly important.  "AT&T" became a mixtape anthem.  "Rattled By The Rush" turned into that song that I just couldn't figure out why it wasn't a huge hit single.  "Fight This Generation" was the one that I blasted in my car when I was feeling a bit riled up.  And way later in the story I figured out that "Grounded" was probably one of the most beautiful and incredible songs ever written.

This is an album that has been with me forever, but the sheer audacity of the different sounds that Pavement crammed into it means I'm always discovering something new and exciting, even twenty three years later.  It's the perfect album to put on when I'm feeling stressed out or overwhelmed.  It's instantly familiar and instantly soothing.  It makes me nostalgic for some things, but never makes me dwell on the past since I've never stopped listening to it.  It's been a constant in my life and something I've always been able to count on.  No matter how fucked up the world gets, Pavement still released Wowee Zowee and it's just perfect.

Pavement - Wowee Zowee (Youtube Playlist):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcJ7GpHQT24&list=PLlnyljGQRkcVovZyD1ypWhlELgag_SD8-

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Him Kerosene - Loser Outfit 7"



Telegram (1997)

There will never be enough words in the English language to express how much I love Him Kerosene.  They are one of the greatest bands to ever pick up instruments and the fact that they are not remembered as one of the best ever is a never ending source of frustration for me.  Their second full length album Start. Stop. is a masterpiece and is the absolute #1 record on my I-wish-they-would-press-this-on-vinyl list.  Sadly, I don't think that's like to happen anytime soon.  The demand probably just isn't there, despite the fact that it is one of the most incredible albums I have ever heard in my life.

That album's lack of vinyl brings us to this 7".  I've had the Loser Outfit CD single since the late 90s.  Two songs, both perfect.  It wasn't until very, very recently that I discovered it had also been released as a 7".  I stumbled across it on Discogs and added to my wants list.  A couple of weeks ago it popped up for $30.  Honestly, I'm not sure there is a price that it could have been listed at that would have stopped me from buying it immediately.

These songs are so damn good.  From a band at the height of their powers, "Loser Outfit" is a showcase for the insanely dynamic guitar work that is what sets Him Kerosene apart from every other band out there.  They fly from chord to chord, jumping from palm mutes to octaves to feedback in the space of seconds while still somehow manage to compliment the almost angelic and poppy vocals they accompany.  It's unbelievable to me.

B side "Raceday" is slightly more straightforward, but still is a rush of energy, hooks and insane guitar work.  Both songs are incredible as is pretty much everything the band ever did.  It is a crime they are not more well known and again, it's a shame they don't have more releases on vinyl.  I will tell you, if I ever win the lottery, the first thing I'm going to do is buy the rights to the Him Kerosene catalog and give everything the love and attention it deserves.

Him Kerosene - "Loser Outfit":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lidlAc_TGg

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cross Brothers - Living On Sheepheads



Just Because (2018)

I don't feel like I have anything particularly interesting to say about this album.  I like it.  It's got a bunch of pretty good songs on it.  It never gets overly loud or crazy, it's never slow and boring and from start to finish it's really pleasant.  But for whatever reason when trying to figure out a way to describe what it is I like about it, I keep finding myself at a loss for words and comparisons.

It's generally pretty catchy, with really nice jangly guitars that reminds me just a little bit of Title Tracks, but then again not really.  The same kind of sensibility is there, but the bands go in totally different directions.  Sometimes I think a couple of the songs sound a little bit like Tom Petty, but then just as quickly something will happen in the song to completely change my opinion.

I will say that the songs I like the best are "Back From The Dead,"Where The Water's Fine" and "Hard Earned Trap."  Go check those songs out at the Bandcamp link below.  I feel like there's a pretty good chance you'll enjoy if you're reading my dumb website.  Maybe you'll think of a better way to describe it and start up your own website so I have something to read.

Cross Brothers - Lining On Sheepheads:
https://justbecauserecords.bandcamp.com/album/living-on-sheepheads

Monday, October 22, 2018

Headsparks - Vs. The Metric System CD



Fixing A Hole (2017)

I few weeks ago I wrote about another Headsparks album called Beastro.  This time out, we've got the band's most recent release, Vs. The Metric System.  As I said last time, it seems insane to me that this band has existed for as long as it has without me being aware of it.  I've said in the past that I'm probably slipping a little as I get older, I think Headsparks are Exhibit A in that argument.

Vs. The Metric System is another amazing album of the kind of melodic, UK punk rock that I've been going crazy for the last twenty-five years.  Headsparks manage to isolate everything that I love about the 90s era of Hooton 3 Car style punk, but it a way that never sounds dated or pandering for nostalgia.  The songs on this album are immediate and urgent sounding, with blistering guitar blasting its way throughout.  The hooks are incessantly catchy and honestly I just can't say enough about how great each of the songs are.

If anything, the only thing I wish were different would be for there to be a vinyl version of this album.  I'm very happy to have the CD in my collection, but there's a warmness to the sound of Headsparks that makes me think would sound even better rocking out from my turntable.  Still, no matter the format, this is great, great stuff.

Headsparks - Vs. The Metric System:
https://headsparks1.bandcamp.com/album/vs-the-metric-system

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sam & Dave - Soul Men LP

Untitled

Stax / Rhino (2017, Reissue)

I'm out of Wilson Pickett records for the time being, but I'm going to keep going through some older soul records every other Thursday until I completely run out.  Luckily I either picked up (or received as gifts) quite a few records that fit the bill towards the end of last year.  This week's entry is Sam & Dave.

Sam & Dave were one of the very first bands I learned about stemming from my love of the Blues Brothers as a kid.  They were the original artist responsible for the Blues Brother's biggest hit, "Soul Man."  I remember as a kid watching some Atlantic Records anniversary TV special and Dan Aykroyd came out to sing the song with Either Sam or Dave, I don't remember which (I suppose I could look it up, but I'll just keep the memory warm and fuzzy as opposed to finding footage of it that makes it seem less magical). Since John Belushi had passed when I was about 4, this special was one of the only 'new' Blues Brothers events that happened.

Anyway, I've always had a Sam & Dave greatest hits CD.  But, like with Wilson Pickett, I thought it was time to pick up some of their actual albums.  Soul Men is the first and only one I have so far.  I want to get more, but the record buying budget is currently a bit tighter than it's been in a while.  Luckily this album has "Soul Man" on it in addition to some other incredible songs like "Broke Down Piece of Man" and "Hold It Baby."

I just love all of these old Stax record.  They're very much a part of the building blocks that made me love music to begin with, but they still sound as fresh to me as they did the very first time I heard them.

Sam & Dave - "Soul Man":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVx2i6jGzf8

Sam & Save - "Broke Down Piece of Man":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0rUeSccx-I

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Hateman - Radio Hate CD

Untitled

1000% D.I.Y. (2018)

As most people who bother reading this website know, I am pretty obsessed with Japanese pop punk bands.  They have been an obsession of mine for over twenty years and I always want to hear as much as I possibly can.  That said, when Kazu at Waterslide asked me if I wanted to buy a CD from a band called Hateman, I wasn't immediately sure it was something I would be interested in.  When bands get too loud or too screamy, I tend to lose interest pretty quick.  Surely a band called Hateman would be end up being more of the hardcore side of punk rock, right?  Wrong.

This CD is unbelievably great.  I can't even wrap my head around how much I love it.  It's almost a distillation of every style of Japanese pop punk that I love.  There are poppy songs like "Heartache" and "Change Your Jive" that are catchier than anything a band like Popcatcher ever wrote.  Then you have faster, noisier songs like "Dancing In The Darkness" and "Radio Hate" that lean much more towards the more melodic moments of the Snuffy Smile side of the punk spectrum.  And then you'll hit a song like "Summer Rain" that doesn't have a super obvious comparison, but it just blows your goddamn mind with how catchy and incredible it is.

I've gotten so many great bands from Kazu, but this might be one of the very best.  The band has a few other releases, 7"s and CD demos and that sort of thing (some of these songs appear to be from those other releases, though I'm not entirely sure) and I really want them all.

Hateman - Radio Hate (Two of the album's twelve songs are streaming):
https://hateman.bandcamp.com/album/radio-hate

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Spells - Loose Change, Vol. 1 LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers / Anxious & Angry (2018)

I've let this LP linger in the to-do pile a little longer than I probably should have.  It certainly wan't because I wasn't excited about the record, I've been writing about Spells for a few years and I have never had anything but wonderful things to say about them.  That trend continues with this record, though I already knew I liked a handful of these songs going in.

Loose Change, Vol. 1 is a singles compilation from Spells, but only two songs are from an actual Spells 7".  Aside from "Take Time" and "Slice Away" everything else on this album was either from a compilation, a digital only release or relegated to cassette hell.  If you're keeping track at home, that's fourteen songs making their way to vinyl for the first time.  And thank goodness for that, these songs are way too good to just disappear into the ether or be eaten by someone's shitty Sony walkman from 1989.

I've always made Rocket From The Crypt comparisons when writing about Spells.  It's not because I think they sound similar, it's always been more about the attitude and energy that the band is able to harness on their records.  They just have a way of writing songs that capture a certain sort of party vibe, without being overtly silly.  It also doesn't hurt that the songs are super catchy, so that's a big part of the reason I've always liked them so much.

This is a really good starting point if you want to check out Spells.  It's mostly early material from the band, but since so little of it had a proper release before It's not going to end up getting replaced if you decide to go all in and track down their entire discography.  Hell of a band, hell of a record.

Spells - Loose Change, Vol. 1
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/loose-change-vol-1

Monday, October 15, 2018

Record Store Visit: Creme Tangerine - Costa Mesa, CA - 09/26/18


I had to go out to Costa Mesa, CA for work a couple weeks ago (it's looking like I'll be out there again soon as well).  Though I was only there for a couple of days, I had to hit a record store while I was there.  After all it's a city I've never been to before, so I always try to get to at least one record store when I am in a new town.  At the recommendation of my friend Casey and with the help of my other friend Chris, I managed to get out to Creme Tangerine.

This record store is located in an "anti-mall" called The Lab.  I guess the gimmick is that it's supposed to be a bunch of cool stores that you won't find in a traditional mall.  While I did think it was a pretty neat place overall and had several interesting looking stores, the presence of an Urban Outfitters in it kind of kills the gimmick a little bit.  Despite that, Creme Tangerine still ranks as one of the wackiest record stores I have every been to.

The whole store is an old trailer.  Gutted out, filled with records and parked next to Urban Outfitters.  I will give them points for originality, that's for sure.  Selection-wise it was a decent store.  It seemed to be all used records with a definitely lean towards older 60s and 70s albums.  Not that there wasn't some newer stuff, there was but your more likely to find a Rascals record here than a newer indie rock band.

I didn't end up getting anything while I was there, but Chris picked up a Turtles LP.  If I was local it's definitely the sort of place I could see myself popping into every so often to see if anything interesting came in, but it's not the sort of place I could see being able to consistently supply you with the latest goods.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Mr. T Experience - Shards Volume Two LP - Red Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Sounds Rad (2018)

This is the second of two LPs of Mr. T Experience songs that had no real home on any albums or EPs.  It will also be another instance where I write about this band and aside from this sentence will exclusively refer to them as The Mr. T Experience and not MTX.  For reasons I cannot explain, but will attempt to describe, the use of the three letter abbreviation as the defacto band name has always kind of bugged me.

When I worked in the music 'biz,'  I worked at the company that did the college radio promotion for Yesterday Rules when that album came out.  Lookout insisted on using the abbreviation for the promo materials and on the CD itself and how the album was listed in the trade charts.  When I asked them why they were burying a band name with almost twenty years of history at that time - who were also, by the way one of my very favorite bands - I was given some sort of non-committal answer about it being hipper and for 'the kids' and to definitely not mention it to Dr. Frank when he came to our office to say hi.  I didn't mention it.  I've always wondered what would have happened if I did as it was the only thing on my mind the entire time he was in our office.  Oh well.

Back to the matter at hand, this is a compilation of a lot of random Mr. T Experience songs from a lot of different eras of the bands existence.  Some are great and I've always loved like "Hello Kitty Menendez" and "T Shirt Commercial," both from influential compilation albums I had as a youngster.  Others are somewhat newer to me like "We Are The Future People Of Tomorrow" and "Crash."  These are also from compilations, but I didn't have those when they originally came out, so I don't have the preexisting connection and nostalgia.

Lastly, it also includes one of my very favorite songs, "How'd The Date End?"  But, it's not the same version as the one that's on the Tapin' Up My Heart 7".  This one has an extra part with more lyrics that wasn't on the 7" version, but I just don't like it as much.  That 7" version has a certain roughness and energy to it that has always connected with me and I have loved it just the way it is for the last twenty-four years.  Part of me thinks that it is kind of humorous that all these years and rereleases later, it is still sort of the hidden gem you can only get on that specific 7", but then the other part of me wonders how many people have never heard the version of the song I like the best.  I also wonder why on earth I would possibly care?  I still have the 7" and the song, why does it matter what anyone else hears?  I do not have answers to quandaries like this.

I can say that it is nice to have all of these songs compiled into one nice and easy LP.  I will also echo a point I made from the last Shards review and that is I really hope that somewhere along the line, an actual singles compilation with every 7" and EP song gets released. That's what I would most like to see next in the Mr. T Experience reissue project anyway.

Once again I can not find a version of this album to listen to online to point you towards aside from a Spotify listing.  If that's your thing, you can give it a whirl here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2bJPJUnzxI2QTNH8JNHbGY


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Part-Time Lover - Kelly Cruise Kelly 7"

Untitled

Just Because (2017)

Part-Time Lover is a band I was not previously familiar with prior to Just Because sending me a copy of this 7" to listen to.  While I do get a chuckle out of the band name, the music isn't really anything that stands out as being particularly interesting to me.

A side "Kelly Cruise Kelly" starts out with a lead guitar riff that sounds so similar to the opening of "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees that I had to double check at first to make sure it wasn't a cover song.  Unfortunately "Kelly Cruise Kelly" doesn't have the same sort of pop hooks that the Monkees were able to churn out.  The song is somewhat psychedelic in nature with swirling guitars and echo-y vocals.  But again, aside from the similarity in the opening guitar riff to a song I actually do like, this one by Part-Time Lover just doesn't go anywhere.

"Shee-Ra" is the B-side and is remarkably even slower than the A side.  It's dreary and kind of depressing.  Not the She-Ra I'm used to.  Again, Part-Time Lover just meanders through the song, never turning it into anything interesting aside from briefly making it more annoying with a crummy keyboard solo.  If you're into dreamier sounds, this might be up your alley, but it's not for me.

Part-Time Lover - Kelly Cruise Kelly 7":
https://justbecauserecords.bandcamp.com/album/kelly-cruise-kelly-b-w-shee-ra

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Big City - S/T CD

Untitled

Self Released (2017)

Following up on the Big City EP that I wrote about yesterday, this self titled CD is the first full length release from the band.  They build off of the early promise of that EP and in almost every way exceed expectations.  This album is a big leap forward in songwriting and production, while still hanging on to the passion and energy that made the EP so thoroughly enjoyable.

The first thing I notice about the songs on this album is the increased fidelity of the production.  Everything sounds a little more polished and the songs themselves are just a touch slower.  Often times this is where bands start to lose the charm that made them fun to listen to in the first place, but for Big City it is exactly what the band needed.  Like their first EP, you can hear the connection to bands like The Urchin and Dillinger Four.  That said, this time out there are more melodic tendencies.

I hear similarities to bands like RVIVR and Iron Chic, especially when it comes to the choruses and backing vocals.  There's a definite increase in anthemic singalongs.  But the way they combine this with the faster paced, driving energy that's more in tune with the Japanese scene they call home, the end result is a mix unique to Big City.

Big City - Big City:
https://bigcity-okayama.bandcamp.com/album/bigcity

Monday, October 8, 2018

Big City - 4 Songs CD

Untitled

Self Released (2016)

This four song CD EP is one of two CDs that I have from Big City.  I will actually review the other one tomorrow, rather than hang on to it for a later date.  This EP is one in a pretty big pile of Japanese punk rock CDs that I've acquired over the past two years that I haven't been able to write about.  In some ways, I feel like I will have a pile like this forever, especially since Kazu is already making another pile in Japan for me to buy at some point.

On their EP, Big City rushes out of the gate with a fast paced pop punk sound that makes me think of bands like The Urchin and Dillinger Four right away.  They have just the right mix of powerful aggression and catchy hooks. For me that's always been one of the main reason I gravitate towards Japanese punk bands.  There's just a little something extra in the energy department, I always feel like everyone in the band believes in every single note they play and every word they sing.  Passion.

This EP is a solid introduction to Big City.  Fast and catchy is the best way to describe things.  The EP is good, but the full length I'll write about tomorrow is even better.

Big City - Four Songs CD:
https://bigcity-okayama.bandcamp.com/album/4songs

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Wilson Pickett - The Sound of Wilson Pickett LP

Untitled

Atlantic (2014, Reissue)

This is the last of the Wilson Pickett Reissues that I've added to the collection over the past year.  It doesn't seem that the reissue campaign extended past The Sound of Wilson Pickett.  I'm not exactly sure why (not being as familiar with his non-Greatest Hits output as I would like to be), but I'm definitely going to be looking around for decent condition copies of The Midnight Mover and I'm In Love.  I can't imagine his work falls off a cliff over the span of a year.

Back to The Sound Of Wilson Pickett.  First off it has one of my absolute favorite Wilson Pickett songs on it, "Funky Broadway."  When I was a little kid, there were times that my dad would take my brother and I to a little lake where they had a pseudo 'beach' and swimming.  He'd set up at a picnic table with his little hibachi-style grill that could cook two hamburgers at a time and break out one of his three mix tapes on his little portable tape deck.  One of those mixes had "Funky Broadway" on it (Another had "All I Need Is A Miracle" by Mike & The Mechanics, but we'll not talk about that one).  "Funky Broadway" always felt like a missing Blues Brothers song and I truly feel that had John Belushi not died, they would have eventually recorded a version of it.  I just love this song.

The rest of the album is just as great if I'm being honest. From slower crooning jams like "I Found A Love" (both Parts I and II) to uptempo hits like "You Can't Stand Alone" there's no filler on this album.  I'm not sure it's ultimately quite as strong as some of his other full lengths like The Exciting Wilson Pickett or The Wicked Pickett, but it's pretty damn great.

Wilson Pickett - "Funky Broadway":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RAUoUD0uak

Wilson Pickett - "You Can't Stand Alone":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKSwNSa_URE

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Drolls - Follow That Dinosaur 7" - Purple Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Top Drawer (2018)

I have been waiting for this 7" ever since I first got word that it was in the works many moons ago.  Having previously heard The Drolls' contribution to the 14 Soda Punx compilation and being lucky enough to have seen their performance at the Seattle Pop Punk Festival back in January, it seemed pretty safe to assume this debut 7" would be top notch.  I assure you, top notch it is.

It's impossible to write about this without mentioning that Denny (and now Josh on drums, though not on this recording) was in Sicko.  Sicko are one of my all time favorite bands and when I listen to this 7", it's hard to not draw comparisons to Denny's past work.  I can say that if you liked Denny's tunes in Sicko, it's inconceivable to me that you wouldn't like these two Drolls offerings.  At the same time, they don't sound exactly like Sicko as there's something unique about what The Drolls are bringing to the table.

"Follow That Dinosaur" starts out with a bouncy, driving rhythm in the verse that eases into one of those trademark Denny choruses.  Equal parts punchy and catchy, this sounds exactly the direction I would have hoped Denny would have gone on a fifth Sicko album.  "Alternate Timeline" starts off immediately making me think of one of my favorite Sicko songs, "Little" off of Chef Boy R U Dum.  It's got a similar quiet/loud/quiet dynamic and man does that make the hook feel even more powerful when it kicks in.  But again, though there are elements of Denny's prior work, these songs go off in their own direction and stand on their own.

These songs are perfect.  I love this record so much.  If I have one complaint it's that there are only two songs instead of twenty.  I hope this is the first of many, many Drolls releases in the future.  Especially hopeful of a full length real soon.

The Drolls - Follow That Dinosaur 7":
https://thedrolls.bandcamp.com/album/follow-that-dinosaur-alternate-timeline

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Down And Outs - Double Negative CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2018)

Sometimes I don't know what's wrong with me.  I've been aware of Down And Outs for years and have always liked what I heard.  But for whatever dumb reason, I've never bought any of their albums.  None of them.  I could try to justify that by saying they were usually imports, costly postage, blah blah blah, but let's be honest.  I've just been stupid. Sure, I have one split 7" of theirs, but to not own any of their full lengths...I have no excuse for that.

This stupidly kicked me square in the face when Kazu from Waterslide records sent me the CD version of Double Negative.  It's so damn great.  It's UK punk rock that shows a debt to Stiff Little Fingers and Leatherface, but also has so much in common with the Swedish band Smalltown.  The way Down And Outs combine their working class lyrics, melodic punk rock and catchy hooks is pretty much perfect and for the life of me I can't figure out what I don't have more of their records.

I need this record on vinyl.  And the rest of their records on vinyl.  I'm still paying off plumbing bills and other crazy house expenses, but once I get my finances back in order, getting my hands on some more Down And Outs records is at the top of my to do list.

Down And Outs - Double Negative:
https://downandouts.bandcamp.com/album/double-negative

Monday, October 1, 2018

Clearance - At Your Leisure LP - Clear w/ Blue Splatter Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Top Shelf (2018)

I've been waiting so very patiently for this new Clearance LP.  Ever since the band's debut album topped my 2015 year end list I've just been craving more.  For At Your Leisure, Clearance has changed their label to Top Shelf and from what I've seen has gotten a lot of advanced press for this record.  The weird thing is, while reading this press I've noticed is most people seem to be allergic to saying the word Pavement.

I have freely said that Clearance sounds a lot like Pavement to me, both due to their jangly guitar sound and the laid back vocal delivery.  This record does feel like a slight update in sound from their last LP.  The songs are a bit more straightforward and less likely to meander off into instrumental explorations.  But everything is still quite catchy while capturing a vibe that is calming and exciting all at the same time.  That said, they still give off a really strong Pavement-y vibe at the end of the day and I will always love them for that.

With a gun to my head, I would probably say that I liked Rapid Rewards a bit more than At Your Leisure.  It's a little rougher around the edges and charming as a result.  Plus I've been listening to it pretty nonstop for the past three years, so there is a built in familiarity that gives it an advantage.  At Your Leisure is a strong follow up that's packed with great songs.  Definitely one of the better records I've heard this year.

Clearance - At Your Leisure:
https://clearance.bandcamp.com/album/at-your-leisure

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Scaries - Missing You 7"

Untitled

Self Released (1997)

Quite a while ago, my buddy Jim was downsizing his record collection and before he made the trip to the used record store, he had me take a look through it to see if there was anything that I needed.  As luck would have it, there were a few things I wanted, one of which was this Scaries 7" that I never had.

As I had written about previously on this website, I had picked up the Scaries record Over You back when it came out and then traded it to a friend in Japan who was helping me hunt down some Snuffy Smile records I was chasing.  After I traded it away, thinking I could easily replace it since I was in America, it was nearly fifteen years before I was able to track down another copy.  I wasn't expecting that, but at least it was able to work out in the end.  I mention that album as two of the four songs on this 7" also appear on the Over You full length, "Anymore" and "Never Fade Away."  A third song, "Disappear" also appears on another Scaries full length called Wishing One Last Time.

The only song exclusive to this 7" is the title track "Missing You" and it's a hell of a song.  Fast and punchy like Superchunk mixed with Walker (I have made this comparison before, but it really captures the sound I think), stutter stop palm muting in all the right places and a big anthemic chorus.  Everything I wanted in 1997 and to be honest, it's what I still look for in 2018.  Sadly a band that is probably somewhat forgotten (except in Japan for whatever reason), but one that should be in ever respectable pop punk collection.

Monday, September 24, 2018

V/A - TOTY Split Series #1 7"

Untitled

Trace Of The Youth (2017)

I haven't bought many records lately.  I recently moved into my first house and money is a bit tighter than usual.  There's only been a few sporadic new things coming in over the last few weeks.  But as I dig around to find records to write about on this website, it's amazing how much of a backlog I have of Japanese CDs and 7"s that I haven't gotten to yet.  Some are still from my trip to Japan nearly two years ago and others are from various mailorder acquisitions since then.  The point is, I'm not running out of things to write about anytime soon.

This compilations 7" features two songs each from three different Japanese bands.  On the record, they're arranged kind of haphazardly, but for the sake of this review, I'll write about each band's songs together.  Summer Months gives us "Before We Fall Asleep" and "Nothing."  "Before We Fall Asleep" is slower and reminds me a little bit of Boys Life.  They have the mid 90s midwestern vibe down pat while still keeping the chorus upbeat and catchy.  "Nothing" is a shorter, faster burst of energy.  Not as intricate as "Before.."is, but it's even catchier.

I was already familiar with the band Bows before I got this 7" and if I'm being truthful, they're the main reason I picked it up.  Their two songs are just what I've come to expect from this incredible band.  They have the I Excuse/Manifesto Jukebox version of dynamic punk rock perfected and both "Other Town, Other Light" and "Time Waits For No One" showcase wild guitar noise channelled into hooky choruses.  One of the more overlooked bands out there right now.

Finally we have Gremlin.  Like Summer Months, I hadn't heard of them prior to picking up this 7".  I should have expected yet another pretty great band.  Really, no one does pop punk better than all of these great bands from Japan.  Gremlin manage to fit right in with the other two bands on this compilation, while still sounding completely unique.  They have some similar elements that you can hear in Bows and Summer Months, going back and forth between fuzzy guitar chords and jangly guitar leads.  However, the way the structure these parts into their two great songs stand out as being different. 

V/A - TOTY Split Series #1 7":
https://traceoftheyouth.bandcamp.com/album/toty-split-series-1

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wilson Pickett - The Wicked Pickett LP

Untitled

Music On Vinyl (2014, Reissue)

The Wicked Pickett along with The Exciting Wilson Pickett are the two albums that have the most songs that I had been familiar with prior to building up my Wilson Pickett collection.  I had grabbed a Record Store Day version of The Exciting Wilson Pickett a few years ago, so I won't be writing up anything new about that album, but The Wicked Pickett is new to my collection and a welcome addition it is.

This album is full of some of the best Wilson Pickett songs out there,  "Mustang Sally" is the sort of hit that's just a part of the fabric of music at this point and there is no surprise as to why.  It's a pretty damn perfect song. Then we have "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love."  For me, this will always be a Blues Brothers song as I don't remember a time in my life where it wasn't a part of it.  But the original Wilson Pickett version is every bit as good and exciting as the Blues Brothers rendition that's so special to me.

There are other songs that I'm not as familiar with, including Pickett's versions of songs that had more notoriety from being performed by other bands.  Most people are probably more familiar with the Gary US Bonds version of "New Orleans," but man the Wilson Pickett version is on fire. I can't believe I've never heard this before.  He also does an incredible interpretation of the Eddie Floyd classic "Knock On Wood."

Pretty much everything on this album is essential.  It's kind of silly that took me as long as it did to get these records.

Wilson Pickett - "Mustang Sally":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gqQ7hzTJa0

Wilson Pickett - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRRdhY5jOBE

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Autumn - Edge of Shallows CD

Untitled

Narrow Gauge (2017)

The Autumn are another in what seems like an endless list of great melodic punk rock bands from Japan.  This is yet another album recommended to me by Kazu from Waterslide.  I really don't know what I'd do without him.  There is absolutely no way I would be able to keep up with the never ending deluge of releases that are coming out over there. I just wish I had the money to buy even more than I do.

The Autumn definitely put the emphasis on the melodic side of the melodic punk description.  I wouldn't go so far as to say they have emo tendencies, but the songs are slower in tempo and more deliberate in their execution.  That doesn't mean that there are any shortage of great guitar riffage or catchy hooks, you're just not going to find the same sort of thing that you would find in one of the poppier punk bands that I tend to like.

In a lot of ways, the songs reminds me of the slower songs on the Leatherface album The Stormy Petrel.  The vocals are obviously completely different, but the tone of the songs have similarities in structure and their overall emotional weight.  There's something about The Autumn, much like Leatherface, that just feels important.

The Autumn "Reflection" (This is a live version, I can't find any album tracks streaming anywhere)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_EUTqONxe8

The Autumn "The Physical Principle" (This is a live version, I can't find any album tracks streaming anywhere)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeLybVKlZSc

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ruler - Jeanie Jeanie Jeanie 7"

Untitled

Secret Mission (2018)

This is the second 7" by Ruler that Secret Mission has sent over to me.  I'm really grateful that they are putting out these records as it's a window into a Japanese punk scene that I'm just not very familiar with.  Sure, I know Fink from a prior band he was in, Teengenerate, but there's so much of this garage-y style rock that isn't on my radar.

The first song on the 7" is "Jeanie Jeanie Jeanie."  Of all the Ruler songs I've heard so far, it's probably my least favorite of the bunch. It's not a bad song, but I think the vocals are a bit off putting for me.  There's a little too much growl in the delivery that distracts me from the otherwise fun guitar chugging.

The B side is the sort of song that is more my speed.  "(It's Not) Saturday Night" has a much more obvious power pop edge to it and the growling vocals are significantly more subdued than they are on "Jeanie."  There's great stutter stops in the breaks of the verse and a really catchy chorus.  This is the best song I've hear by Ruler so far and I hope I'll be able to hear more from them in this vein.

Ruler - Jeanie Jeanie Jeanie 7"
https://secretmissionrecords.bandcamp.com/album/second-single

Monday, September 17, 2018

Fire Heads - S/T LP

Untitled

Big Neck (2017)

This Fire Heads LP is my first exposure to this band, despite the fact that they've been going since 2012 under various other incarnations and even another name.  That said, I am slightly more familiar with one of their guitar players, Bobby Hussy and his work in The Hussy.  So I thought I had something of a frame of reference for this album.

One thing I can say is that this is a pretty dynamic record, blasting you in the face with noisy chaos like "Dirty Body" and "Next To Nothing" one minute only to drastically shift to bouncier poppy songs like "Dad's Theory" or "Park Walker" the next.  For me, I favor the poppier songs and while I'm certainly one that likes their recordings a little loose and fuzzy, I think that the songs where Fire Heads shine the most are the ones that have a little more polish to them.

I don't love this record, but it's got a few pretty good songs on it that I think are probably worth checking out.  Though, if you like scuzzier garage rock a bit more than power pop leaning bands, this LP may be more suited to your needs.

Fire Heads - S/T LP:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/fire-heads-s-t

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hard Feelings - Sideways LP

Untitled

Dirt Cult / Lost Cat (2018)

Sideways is the second album by Hard Feelings, though it's the first I've heard from them.  It's a really eclectic record that at times sounds like the one of the best bands I've ever heard and at other times leaves me scratching my head a little.

I will say this, the highs on this record are really high and absolutely make it a worthwhile pickup.  Opener "Tomorrow Never Knows" and others like "Don't Know You" and "Evildoers" see the band as a fast paced, melodic punk powerhouse.  Channeling crunchy guitars and midwestern basement show vibes into a potent blast of hooks.  The band is firing on all cylinders and this side of their sound is pretty flawless.

When the band strays from that formula, the results are a bit more scattershot.  There are huge successes like "Vision" that brings in a Marked Men meets A Giant Dog vibe.  You could argue this is the best song on the album and it's a sheer delight to listen to.

But then there are songs like "Morality" and "Black Skies" that are glammy in a way that reminds me of the aforementioned A Giant Dog as well as the band Napalmpom.  These songs really jump out when you're listening to the record and not always in the best way as they sound so different than what came before.  I give a ton of credit for making a diverse record with surprises around every corner, but there are songs where, for me, it doesn't come together as well.

Still, the successful songs far outnumber the ones that I don't like as much and Sideways is a bold, inventive record that warrants multiple listens.  Each time out it makes a little more sense to me.

Hard Feelings - Sideways
https://dirtcultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sideways

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2 Sick Worry - Demo CD

Untitled

Self Released (2017)

I was really excited when Kazu from Waterslide Records told me he had the 2 Sick Worry demo CD for me.  They were one of the bands that played the Waterslide/PopKid show that I got to go to when I was in Tokyo at the very beginning of 2017.  2 Sick Worry were one of the highlights of that show, so I've been looking forward to finally hearing more from them.

This demo CD contains three songs, two of which are just incredible, though criminally short. The first song is "Drawn" starts off at a million miles an hour until they reach the breakdown right before the chorus that emphasizes the incredible hook they've managed to cram in here.  The other highlight is the third song "Change Of Rain."  This one has a slightly (and I do mean slightly) slower tempo, but conjures the very best of bands like Navel or Skimmer.  I'm particularly reminded of those bands when it comes to the vocals.

While the second song on this CD, "Heartache" doesn't soar quite as high as the other two, I'm really curious to see what 2 Sick Worry come up with as they keep writing and recording.  After all, this is just a demo and the fact that they're so good already makes me thing great things are coming in the future.

2 Sick Worry - Demo:
https://2sickworry.bandcamp.com/album/demo-2017

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Deadcuts / Diablo Furs - Split 7" - Purple Vinyl (/250)

Untitled

Punk Fox / Speedowax (2018)

The first band on this split 7" is Deadcuts.  A band that I really feel like I should be listening to more of, since they feature two members of the mighty Senseless Things.  But every time I've tried to give them a listen, it just hasn't grabbed me like those old Senseless things records do.  I realize it's tough to compare a band releasing music right now to records that that I really love from twenty five years ago, but if I know there's dudes from Senseless things in the band, I go in with a certain set of expectations, fair or not.

So by that measure, the two Deadcuts songs on this split 7" leave me a little flat once again.  I think it's because they're just not pop enough.  Both songs are more goth inspired, Cure sounding affairs with big swirling guitar sounds and raw, dark vocals.  There's just nothing I can sink my teeth into as far as hooks go so once again, I feel like I'm missing something.

In stark contrast are Diablo Furs on the other side of this 7".  This is a band that is nothing but hooks.  I'd reviewed a 7" of theirs a few years ago, but the two songs on this split are infinitely better than what I've previously heard.  "The Pressure Don't Stop" is bouncy with an older 80s mod-ish influence and is essentially a nonstop singalong chorus.  It's simple, but endlessly catchy.  "Hearts In Motion" is a more well rounded pop number with "whoas" in the right place and it drives relentlessly forward with energy and enthusiasm.

So while I don't really care for the two Deadcuts songs on this split, the Diablo Furs songs are definitely keepers.

Deadcuts - "Single":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z1RxbAPrH8

Deadcuts - "The Less I Want The Less I Need":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtqh9duL368

Diablo Furs - "Pressure Don't Stop":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8cWH-hLcZ4

Diablo Furs - "Hearts In Motion":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAlB9w_Lqjo

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Wimpy's - Do The Wimpy's Hop CD

Untitled

Waterslide (2017, Reissue)

I feel like I've known the name of The Wimpy's for a really long time, but from what I can tell, I only have one compilation record that they appear on in my collection and nothing else.  That compilation was a tribute album to the band Bum and The Wimpy's contribution of "Why Go Out Of Your Way" (from the Bum split 7" with Fifi and the Mach III) also makes an appearance on this CD as one of seven bonus tracks.  It's really great.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  The main portion of this CD is a rerelease of the 2002 debut Wimpy's length album, Do The Wimpy's Hop.  This is an album that you can kind of judge a little bit by its cover.  I look at the cover artwork and I tend to think that this will be pop punk in the vein of the Ramones.  Putting on the album, I found that I was correct.  This is upbeat and catchy power pop punk that draws from the simple chord progressions of The Ramones and mixes them with Beach Boys style harmonies and backing vocals.

In some ways, I see similarities to the Hum Hums, but The Wimpy's have more of an older school 60s influence mixing with their Ramonescore tendencies.  There's a little bit of a garage feel that you can hear manifest as lead guitar riffs in the breaks and a general energy that keeps this album cruising along.

I'm shocked that this album is twenty three tracks long and has a one hour and eight minute duration.  It just flies by. Every song is so catchy that I can't help but think they must be an amazing live band.  The songs have that sort of energy where I imagine the band plays everything twice as fast live and everyone in attendance is dancing and singing along. Sounds like a show I would want to be at.

The Wimpy's - Do The Wimpy's Hop:
https://watersliderecords.bandcamp.com/album/do-the-wimpys-hop

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Atlantic (2013, Reissue)

This reissue of Wilson Pickett's first album for Atlantic came out a few years ago.  This particular version came out on Red Vinyl and while it wasn't my absolute first choice for reissues (there was a 180g version from 2014 that I had my eye on), I was happy to discover that this red vinyl one was also a repress of the original mono mix.

This album has many more Wilson Pickett songs that I was previously familiar with than the last one I wrote about, It's Too Late.  First of we have the absolute classic title track.  That is one of songs that's just been ingrained in my brain as long as I can remember.  As a kid getting my musical education from The Blue Brothers, songs like this immediately jumped out at me when I heard them back then.

But this album's greatness is not limited to its most famous single.  Other incredible, soulful songs like "Take A Little Love," "That's a Man's Way" and "Don't Fight It" make this album an absolute treat to listen to.  It's a record that sounds so fresh and exciting even though it's fifty three years old.  The real insane thing to think about is that when I first heard these songs in the early 80s, they were not even 20 years old.  That's less of a time gap than if I go back and listen to Pavement records now.  This music (like the music of Pavement) is simply timeless and no matter how far in the rear view the release date gets, it is still as impactful as it ever was.

Wilson Pickett - "In The Midnight Hour":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGVGFfj7POA

Wilson Pickett - "Don't Fight It":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A47uNen5-Q

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Needles//Pins / Epic Problem - Split 7" - Purple Vinyl

Untitled

All In Vinyl (2018)

This split 7" finishes up the current All In Vinyl subscription series.  It took a little longer to get everything out than previous volumes, but I sure could make an argument that it was their best series yet.  To me it's been worth the wait, especially when closing out with a split this strong.  This last 7" features a band I already know and love and another that I'm not particularly familiar with.  To me, that's always the mark of a great split 7".

I've been listening to Needles//Pins since their first album 12:34.  Watching their progression over the years has been nothing short of astounding.  That first record sounds like a 33 1/3 LP played back at 45 in comparison to their more recent releases.  This 7" is more akin to the band's recent album Good Night, Tomorrow.  Both of the songs on this split feature gruff vocals over a mid tempo, but still very powerful base of melodic punk rock.  The band really excels at this and their songs are significantly more dynamic than that first record.

Epic Problem is a band I'm not as familiar with for some reason, though for the life of me, I can't figure out why.  Their name was super familiar and looking online I see that they put out records on Brassneck and Rad Girlfriend, so I really couldn't say how I don't have any of their other records.  Honestly it makes no sense to the point where I went digging around in my 7" boxes to make sure I didn't have something hiding that I forgot about.  No dice. Hopefully the songs on this 7" are as good a place to start as anywhere else.  Both are the sort of UK working class punk rock that I think ultimately always spawns from Leatherface.  Epic Problem are a bit more straightforward, perhaps owing more to the No Idea lineage of the sound.  Both songs are top notch and a nice companion to the two Needles//Pins songs on the flip side.

Needles//Pins / Epic Problem - Split 7"
https://allinvinyl.bandcamp.com/album/split-7-21

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Treepeople - No Mouth Pipetting LP - White Vinyl (/250)

Untitled

Self Released (2018, Reissue)

Back in 1988, Treepeople released a cassette only album called No Mouth Pipetting.  This was back before Guilt, Regret, Embarrassment.  I never had this cassette and only became aware of its existence a few years ago when I found it on Discogs.  A little creative searching online led me to MP3s of the tape, but I never held out much hope for tracking one down.  Then the band decided to start playing some shows again.  And went on a short tour.  And rereleased the whole thing on limited edition white vinyl.  Crazy times.

Once I found out about this, I went a little nuts trying to track a copy down, finally locating one on the online shop of a record store in Boise.  It's a little easier to get one now if you're looking as the band put their leftovers up on eBay. So go grab one before they're gone.  I'll wait.

Back?  This record is really great.  Yes, the recording sounds a little dated and sure, in particular the drum fills sound really tinny.  But that doesn't change the fact that the songs are still powerful and Doug Martsch & Scott Schmaljohn seem to have had a real chemistry with their guitar playing right away.  For what is essentially a demo, Treepeople very obviously had their shit together pretty early on.  The LP sounds a lot better than the files that were ripped from the original cassette that I had found online, but at the end of the day it is a self released record from 1988, so it's never going to sound like something recorded yesterday.

I'm thrilled that this album was released on vinyl. Now I don't need to looks for that original tape anymore and if there's one thing that my life doesn't need any more of, it's cassettes.

Treepeople - "Pack of Lies":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mabTAHIi-lM

Treepeople - "Fish Basket":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqWhQgaze3U

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Headsparks - Beastro CD (Japan Tour 2017)

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2017)

Headsparks are a band that remained a secret to me for far longer than it should have.  Considering that the band features Andy from Donfisher, Ohno Express and GAN(!).  I can't believe they've been around for years and had released three albums before I had caught wind of them.  I'm doing my best to make up for lost time with the records I have of theirs now and the first one I'll write about on here is their album Beastro.

This particular version of Beastro is the version they sold on their 2017 tour of Japan.  From what I've read it's a remastered version of an album they released in 2016.  In addition to the new mastering, there's also new bass on every song from a new bass player who wasn't around for the original recording of the album.  Having not heard the original version, I can't compare the two, but what I can say about this version of Beastro I have is that it's pretty damn great.  And the bass sounds very nice.

Headsparks are playing the sort of melodic UK punk rock that's just about been my favorite kind of music since forever.  They definitely highlight the melodic part of the equation and I find their songs to have the intricacies of some of the latter Leatherface records while still having the same sort of catchy urgency that you'd hear from Hooton 3 Car at the height of their powers.  Every song on this album is a crackling with energy and super dynamic guitar work.  It just creates a whirlwind of noise that still allows the melodies and hooks to shine through.

It's a hell of a record.  I wish I had been paying attention to these guys all along, but I'll certainly be keeping track of them now.  I have their most recent 2017 record, Vs. The Metric System, as well and I'll be writing a little bit about that one sometime in the next few weeks.

Headsparks - Beastro:
https://headsparks1.bandcamp.com/album/beastro-2

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Firestarter - First Album LP

Untitled

Secret Mission (2018, Reissue)

This LP is a reissue of a nearly twenty year old album from the Japanese band Firestarter.  I can't say I know much about them.  Honestly my knowledge of Japanese punk rock has always been more focused on the poppier, melodic side of things and I've never paid much attention to the Japanese garage rock scene.  Admittedly, I know that scene is huge and way more visible to our side of the ocean than the pop punk that I like, but I've never really listened to much of it.

I'm not sure I'm going to do that deep dive now, but I will say that if I hear of any other bands like Firestarter, I'm certainly going to pay a little bit more attention.  Yes, this definitely has a garage vibe to it with the sort of lead guitar riffs here and there that you'd expect.  That said, more than anything this is a pop record.  Pop in the way that you'd expect from Marvelous Darlings or The Barreracudas. Sickly sweet melodies and hooks blasted in your face as loud as they can get their guitars to go.

Songs like "Trashy Dreams" have that perfect combination of catchy guitar riffs with a killer chorus amplified further with perfect backing vocals.  Amazingly it can segue directly into a song like "Flex Your Muscle."  That one is just a straightforward, short explosion of tough guy guitar.  Yet the two songs live side by side perfectly, giving the album a dynamic flow.  This is one of two Firestarted reissues that I have and rest assured I'll be firing up Livin' On The Heat real soon.  I wanted to spend more time getting familiar with their debut before I moved on to the other, but if it's half as good as this one is, I'll be pretty excited.

Firestarter - First Album:
https://secretmissionrecords.bandcamp.com/album/firestarter-first-album-lp

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Supercrush - I Can't Lie 7" - Pink Vinyl (/100)

Untitled

Debt Offensive (2018)

Supercrush has really managed to tap into a very specific vein on 90s nostalgia for me with the four 7"s they've released over the past few years.  There aren't many bands playing the sort of warm and fuzzy pop tunes that Supercrush seems to churn out effortlessly.  Everything I love about bands like Poole and Super Deluxe is encapsulated in the perfect pop nuggets that Supercrush have been releasing.

The two new songs on this 7" are no exception.  The band hasn't strayed from their winning formula, but they are focusing on the mellower side of their songwriting with these two songs.  Both "I Can't Lie" and "Walking Backwards" are slower and more deliberate.  But with the slower tempo, the band is able to conjure up such lush harmonies and really capture the essence of a lazy Sunday afternoon in the summer, with their tunes providing the cool breeze you are so desperately craving.

Four 7"s in and Supercrush continues to delight.  I wonder if they will ever commit to a full album or if the plan is to keep with the 7" format.  I would love to hear a full album by these guys, but as long as they keep the songs coming, I'll take them however I can get them.

Supercrush - I Can't Lie 7":
https://debtoffensiverecords.bandcamp.com/album/i-cant-lie