Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Live From Camp X-Ray LP - Clear w/ Orange & Black Splatter


Vagrant (2017, Reissue)

Rocket From The Crypt is my favorite band.  All I know about writing about their records is to gush about how much I love them.  Live From Camp X-Ray is another record of theirs that I love.  It's short, but it's a powerful blast of rock and roll straight into my soul.  It also has a special place in my heart as it I was involved in promoting it to college radio in a past life.

I also promoted Group Sounds to radio when that came out, but I was a new member of the radio team at that time.  While my Rocket tattoo was certainly used as a bargaining chip to help my company get on that record, I didn't have any contact with Vagrant and didn't have much to do with it on that side of the promotion world. (It's a weird thing, different promotion companies had to seek out record labels and convince them we were the best team to promote their record.  It was an interesting part of the job).  But I pushed Group Sounds as hard as I could to the radio stations I dealt with. My favorite part was convincing stations that they had to play it the week of my birthday that year.  I got a lot of extra spins that week. What a bizarre job.

By the time Live From Camp X-Ray was coming out, I had moved up the ladder and had many more labels that I was in charge of communicating with.  The moment I heard a whisper about this new Rocket record, I was immediately on the phone with Vagrant trying to make sure we could be involved.  There is no one who would have promoted this record to radio harder than I would, surely they would see that pretty quickly.  For whatever reason, the dude that worked at Vagrant that was in charge of the promotion and hiring of indie promoters for radio was being difficult.  I'm not sure if he was trying to get me to jump through hoops or maybe he just didn't like me, but he cat and moused me for weeks and weeks and just wouldn't give me any information or commit to anything.

Around this time John Reis came to town to play a show.  I actually can't remember for sure if it was a Rocket or Hot Snakes show (I could probably look it up and figure it out, but I need to finish this up), but it was definitely at the Bowery Ballroom.  I searched him out (I had started talking to him recently so that my company could help promote the Swami records releases) to just get his ear about wanting to do the Rocket record.  John was his usual super awesome self and said he'd put a word in.  I consider myself truly lucky to have been able to work with him in any capacity and to have at least a tiny part in helping out some of my favorite records of all time.  

I went back to work the next day and did my weekly follow up call with the Vagrant dude and he reacted really negatively towards the fact that I had spoken to John and accused me of going over his head.  I couldn't tell if he was joking or not but it was all very odd.  Fast forward a few more weeks and I got a call from a different guy at Vagrant.  He said the first guy was no longer with the company, the new guy (who I had actually known from other places) was taking over the promotion side for a bit and that my company was officially hired on Live From Camp X-Ray effective immediately.

He gave me everything I needed and sent over an advance of the record and I've been listening to it constantly ever since.  We had a nice little run with Live From Camp X-Ray and I consider it a highlight of my radio promo career.  We made a photo copy of my Rocket tattoo and mailed it out along with the CD and the bio sheet when we sent the album out to stations.  It was good times.

This newer repress is on clear vinyl with some black and orange splatter.  It looks pretty good for a splatter, though that's not my favorite vinyl type.  I would have gone with a black and orange split color, personally, but as always, I'm glad to add to the ever growing and apartment consuming Rocket From The Crypt record collection. Long live the dead.

Rocket From The Crypt - "I'm Not Invisible":

Rocket From The Crypt - "Too Many Balls":

Monday, February 26, 2018

Shiner - The Egg LP - Green Vinyl (/150)


BCore (2018, Reissue)

This is the second time that The Egg has been reissued and is also the second time I've written about it here on this site. You may (or may not) remember that Shiner is my wife's favorite band.  I dig them too, but the only reason I know about them is because of her.  While my wife isn't really a record collector, we've decided that it is important to have all of the Shiner records in the collection.  We're up for some variants as well.

This variant came out in Spain on BCore discs.  The music is the same as the US version, featuring sprawling, but surprisingly catchy rock that is similar in scope to what Jawbox is known for.  BCore decided the change things up with the artwork, opting for greens where there used to be oranges.  I think it looks good, though it is somewhat jarring having seen everything in orange for so long.  Still, I always say that I'm in favor of substantial artwork changes when something gets rereleased.  I like being able to tell it apart from the original.

In addition to the artwork change, 150 copies were also pressed on green vinyl.  Shiner sold a handful of them directly here in the US, but they sold out in a blink of an eye with no real warning that they had gone up on sale.  Luckily, BCore still had copies available, so we imported this one from Spain.  It wasn't the first time and certainly won't be the last time I pay some extra postage for a variant. Records like this need to be in the collection.

Shiner - The Truth About Cows:

Shiner - Play Dead:

Shiner - Pills:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Songs For Snakes / If It Kills You - Split 7" - Honey Mustard Vinyl


Self Released (2017)

Yep, they are calling it 'honey mustard vinyl.'  That's great and it actually looks like that color, so even better.  This split 7" features a band I've become quite familiar with over the years coupled with a band I'd not heard of previously.

This is the third time I've written about Songs For Snakes and their melodic punk by old punks for old punks.  Combine the aggressiveness of Bivouac era Jawbreaker with huge guitar tones that remind me a lot of Fig Dish and mix that potent cocktail with gravely vocals.  If that sounds like exactly the sort of thing you'd expect me to listen to, you're correct.  Very much my cup of tea.  They also have a new full length out, so I'll be writing up that soon as well.

On the flip side is If It Kills you.  I haven't listened to them before playing their song on this 7", and while I can't say I like them as much as Songs For Snakes, it sure compliments them with their own very 90s sounding song.  If It Kills You, to me, is harkening back to a slightly noisier strain of 90s punk rock.  A little bit of the more chaotic moments of Seaweed mixed in with some of the poppier aspects of the AmRep catalog.  The vocals have that static-y telephone effect on them, kind of how Rocket From The Crypt used it in "The Paste That You Love," though not quite as blown out as Rocket.

I say all the time how the split 7" is one of my favorite ways to listen to music.  There's something kind of timeless about the experience to me and I wish they were more common today than they are.

Songs For Snakes / If It Kills You - Split 7":

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Yellow Vinyl


Vagrant (2016, Reissue)

This is the last of the Vagrant 20th anniversary reissues of Group Sounds.  It's on solid, translucent yellow vinyl.  I suppose it's the least interesting of the three newer reissues, though I will admit that yellow is my favorite color so I have a bit of a soft spot for it.

Considering that the others were wackier splatter variants, I'm not sure how this relatively tame third one ended up coming out.  The color doesn't really tie into the artwork particularly well.  You could make an argument that the cobra is yellow, but that's kind of stretching it and the cobra certainly isn't the same color as the LP itself.  

It could just be one of those unsolvable mysteries, but if there's a Rocket From The Crypt variant out there, it needs a loving home in my collection.  All three of these reissues have that loving home now.  I'll write up the two Live From Camp X-Ray reissues next.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Makes No Sense / Suffering From A Case - Split CD


Suburbia Works (2007)

This split CD features two Japanese bands, Make No Sense and Suffering From A Case.  It came back all the way in 2007 so it's another one that I've been missing out on for quite some time.  Luckily I have it now.

Makes No Sense immediately reminds me of Cradle To Grave, especially in their first song "Chunk of Contradictions."  The way the band effortless changes tempos going from ten thousand miles an hour in the verse to a steady backbeat of a catchy chorus is pretty remarkable.  Though I actually prefer their second song on the disc, "(Not For Me To Decide) Your Choice."  The tempo is a bit more consistent throughout the song and it just delivers the sort of scraggly, high energy Japanese pop punk that I know and love.  It looks like these guys have a couple of other split CDs out and now I need to find them as well.

Suffering From A Case is a band I'm more familiar with.  Actually, it's funny as I ended up with three copies of their other EP on Waterslide.  I picked up a copy back when it came out.  Then while I was in Japan I ended up buying another copy of it.  Finally, I ended up with a third copy as someone from a distro tossed it in with a Brown Trout album I bought.  I found loving homes for the extras, don't worry.  So for the two Suffering From A Case songs on this split they deliver excellent, Dillinger Four style melodic punk.  Energy, flashy breakdowns, bashing octaves and shouting their hearts out.  Excellent stuff and I recommend picking up their EP as well if you don't already have it and I didn't give you a copy.

Monday, February 19, 2018

First Base - Not That Bad LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Drunken Sailor (2017)

Not Thad Bad came out towards the end of 2017.  I also dragged my feet on picking it up/listening to it/reviewing it for a bit, so I didn't get it written up before the year ended.  It's kind of a shame as this is one of those records that really should have been represented on my end of the year list and pretty high at that.  The way that the band rolls together their vintage guitar tones and power pop sensibilities, First Base has a hit on their hands.

I actually got a little confused as I had thought I already owned band's first album, but doing a little bit of digging in the 'F' section and it turns out I don't, I only have a 7" of theirs that came out on La-Ti-Da.  That missing LP seems like a pretty big omission to me, especially if their first one is anywhere near as good as this new record.  I can be hit or miss on straight up power pop at the best of times, but First Base do a great job of keeping up the energy to go along with their bouncy hooks.  

The killer vocal harmonies certainly have a lot to do with how great all of the songs are as well, and it reminds me a lot of The Hum Hums maybe mixed with Gentleman Jesse or the Barreracudas first album.  There is so much on this record for the garage power poppers to love, but there's also a lot here for the pop punkers out there as well.  A damn fine album.

First Base - Not That Bad:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" (Europe)


Atlantic (1980)

This version of the Everybody Needs Some Body To Love 7", according to Discogs, is the European version of the single.  I'm not really sure how that differs from the version of this single I posted two weeks ago which was released in Germany (I had mistakenly listed that one as having been from France initially, but have corrected that review).  The last time I checked, Germany was in Europe, so I just don't know why these two different versions exist.  Probably some 80s distribution model that doesn't make sense anymore.

The songs are the same, as the B side for this 7" is Think by Aretha Franklin again.  The only real difference is the font of the song titles on the front of the sleeve, a completely redesigned back of the sleeve and the red/green split design of the label itself.  There's just something about that red and green Atlantic label that I just love.  

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

Aretha Franklin - "Think":

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Clear w/ Black & Yellow Splatter Vinyl


Vagrant (2016)

This is the second of three Group Sounds reissues that my wife got me for Christmas.  I'm pretty fortunate that she doesn't mind stoking the fire of this collection that has rapidly taken over most rooms in our place.  All I can say is that I'm a lucky, lucky guy.

I like this variant better than the one from last week.  Though splatter vinyl isn't my favorite of vinyl colors, at least this one takes some colors from the actual artwork to use.  I'm not entirely sure why last week's had blue splatter.  Sure there's a bit of blue on the insert, but it just seemed a bit out of place.  Though let's be honest, the best variant of this LP was the record store day variant on white vinyl with yellow splatter from a few years ago.  That one made the most sense anyway.

No matter how you slice it, that doesn't change the fact that this is one of the all time best Rocket records.  Maybe most people don't need so many copies of the same record, but I for whatever reason, I do.  I have one more version of this album that I'll post next week, then it's on to Live From Camp X-Ray.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Corner Boys - Just Don't Care 7"


Drunken Sailor (2017)

Drunken Sailor is a label that always intrigues me.  They have this funny way of splitting their time between UK style melodic punk rock and poppier garage punk.  I don't find this weird, after all I'm a fan of both styles (country and western), but for whatever reason seeing some of the records they release side by side just makes me chuckle. 

Corner Boys hail from Vancouver and if the three songs on this 7" are any indication, they really love 70's style power pop.  Just Don't Care serves up three songs that sound right out of that era with the jangly guitar and bouncy bass lines.  The songs churn out catchy hooks with singalong choruses that will sound right at home next to whatever forgotten band Hozac trots out for their next reissue.  

The vocals are really up front in the mix on these three songs and the singer does have a somewhat nasally, slightly accented vocal style that you have to be ready for.  It's probably not going to be everyone's cup of tea and the vocals are so in the forefront that it might be a dealbreaker for some.  Luckily not for me as I really dig the three songs on this 7".  They're poppy and catchy and there's no screaming.  What's not to like?

Corner Boys - Just Don't Care 7":

Monday, February 12, 2018

Her Spectacles / Skimmer / Piece of Bread - All The Time In The World - 3 Way Split CD


Waterslide (2009)

This CD is nearly ten years old now and that really blows my mind.  Another gem that I managed to overlook for far too long, this three way split compiles one band from the UK (Skimmer) with two from Japan (Her Spectacles and Piece of Bread).  All three bands are great and every song that each contributes is among their best.

Starting with Her Spectacles, they dish out three songs of melodic punk rock in the vein of of some of my very favorite bands like Three Minute Movie.  In particular, the choppy guitar riffs of "Deception" really make the song stand out as one of my favorites that I've heard from these guys.  As I had mentioned last time I reviewed something by them, there doesn't seem to be much that was released, but I definitely need to track down everything that was.

Next up we have three songs from Skimmer.  The thing I love about Skimmer is they're just so damn consistent.  You could play a Skimmer song from 1993 and one from 2020 and you're never going to confuse them with any other band.  Their version of sugar fueled Mega City Four style UK punk rock is among my very favorite sounds in the world and the fact that they are still churning out songs like this all these years later just makes me smile.

Lastly we have Peace of Bread, a band I have become somewhat obsessed with over the last year or so.  They combine punchy and melodic guitar riffs with complimentary boy/girl vocals in a way I haven't seen since the glory days of Cigaretteman.  Ever single song I have heard by them is an absolute smash hit and "Signal of the Start" may be the best one I've heard so far.  They are another band that I'm desperately trying to find as many records by as possible, so if you see any, let me know.

Her Spectacles / Skimmer / Piece of Bread - All The Time In The World - 3 Way Split:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Holiday - Missiles On The Roof 7" - Green Vinyl (/500)


Brassneck / JSNTGM / Lost Cat / Pumpkin / Antik├Ârper Export (2013)

I reviewed the Holiday LP last year and dug it quite a bit.  Scott from Brassneck happened to ask me about their 1st 7" as he had stumbled across his last remaining copy.  I didn't have it and I also don't think I knew that it existed, which seemed odd to me.  So, I let Scott know I needed a copy and here we are.  It still seems a little weird that I didn't already have this, especially as it's the first Brassneck release, but admittedly I have definitely noticed it gets harder to keep track of this sort of thing as I get older.  There's only so much record collecting information you can cram into your head.  I think this is one of the reasons I can never remember anyone's name, there's just no room left in my brain.

This Holiday 7" is great, though it is a bit different from last year's LP.  All the way back in 2013, Holiday didn't have quite as much of a Mega City Four or Senseless Things feeling.  They sounded a bit more straight up melodic pop punk.  The Goober Patrol vibes that I felt on the full length are more front and center on these songs, which in some ways I like even better.  You're never going to upset me when you're channeling UK punk rock like Snuff or the Goobers.  I'll always get behind the big guitar sounds and pounding rhythm section.

In a lot of ways, Holiday matured a lot and became better song writers by the time they got to the LP, but there's something refreshing and undeniably enjoyable about the four raucous songs on this 7".  Even the one song that ended up on the LP as well, "Lunch Break," sounds a lot rougher around the edges.  I'm not sure which is better as they both scratch different itches, but I like having the different options.  

Holiday - Missiles On The Roof 7"

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds LP - Clear w/ Blue Splatter Vinyl


Vagrant (2016, Reissue)

Back in 2016, Vagrant rereleased a handful of records as part of their 20th anniversary.  Two of the records that received the reissue treatment were the two albums that Rocket From The Crypt released for them.  Despite my unhealthy need to own every crazy variant of every Rocket From The Crypt record, I dragged my feet picking them up.  They seemed kind of pricy and also felt a little unnecessary.  They were always on my list of records to pick up, but I kept prioritizing other things.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing wife who really understands and tolerates my stupid hobbies more than anyone actually should.  She picked up all of the rereleases for me for my birthday and Christmas.  I'm going to be trotting them out over the next few weeks.  There likely won't be a lot to say about them as the only difference is the vinyl color, but it is fun for me to document.

This version of Group Sounds comes on clear vinyl with blue splatter.  Splatter variants aren't usually my favorite and on this one I'm not really sure how those colors tie in to the artwork, but so be it.  I'd like to think that if you're reading my website I don't need to tell you what an amazing album this is.  Ranking Rocket records is a difficult task for me, but I can safely say Group Sounds is one of my favorites.  If you're not familiar, please go listen right away.  A wonderful new world awaits.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Spit-Take - Frog Rock LP


One Percent Press / Ice Age / Cat Dead Details Later / Shitty Present (2017)

It seems a little weird to me that I'd never heard of Spit-Take prior to this record being sent in for review.  It seems like they're the sort of band I would have stumbled across in some capacity, but it wasn't meant to be for whatever reason.  All I can say is that I am glad this was sent in.  I might never have heard it otherwise.

Spit-Take hail from Connecticut and they released eleven of the songs on this LP as a cassette back in 2016.  Four other tracks were originally released as a 7".  Luckily a handful of labels stepped in and let it be known that these songs deserved more than a cassette and a fifteen song LP was born.  Spit-Take seem to be pretty obviously influenced by Superchunk, structuring their songs into hooky little gems.  While they don't quite capture the same type of energy on these recordings as Superchunk does (hey, let's be honest, few bands do), Frog Rock has moments where it truly shines.

Songs like "Something Sometimes," "Gloom" and "The Natural Facts" showcase the very best of Spit-Take.  They also are some of the faster songs on the album, which is where I think the band really shines.  More than anything I feel like this is a band who have a ton of potential.  Let's remember, the bulk of these songs are almost two years old.  I bet Spit-Take already has a batch of newer songs ready to blow these tunes out of the water.  I can't wait to see what they do next.

Spit-Take - Frog Rock:

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Fadeaways - Sick and Tired 7"


Secret Mission (2017)

I'll be the first to admit that while I love a ton of Japanese bands, I've always been focused on the pop punk and melodic punk scenes over there.  I've never really delved too much into their garage rock bands and while I know Guitar Wolf, I can't say I've ever spent much time looking into anyone else.  When I opened up the package that Secret Mission sent me containing this Fadeaways 7", I was definitely intrigued.

I can say without question this is a really fun and energetic single.  The Fadeaways harness the spirit of stomping garage rock bands of the 60s.  They actually remind me quite a bit of the Schizophonics in that they sound like an authentic band from that era that was somehow frozen in time, rather than a group paying homage to these sounds.  

The guitar is bracing with big riffs and the occasional blaring solo, while the rhythm section keeps things bouncy, yet pummeling all at the same time.  The vocals are a bit gruff, but they fit the aesthetic of the band perfectly; keeping the melody in tact, but still sounding a bit like they're going to go off the rails at any moment.  I'm super impressed by The Fadeaways and if you dig upbeat,  garage-y fun, this is something worth checking out.

The Fadeaways - Sick and Tired 7":

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love 7" (Germany)


Atlantic (1980)

We're moving on to the "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" single and there are a few different versions out there.  We'll start off with one of the most basic, the Atlantic single from Germany.  Like a lot of single released off of the Blues Brothers soundtrack, this one repurposes the soundtrack's cover art as the single's cover.  Nothing fancy and nothing particularly exciting.  Although it's one of my favorite iconic images of the Blues Brothers, it does tend to get recycled a lot.

I find the choice of B side a bit odd as well since it's not really a Blues Brothers song. Aretha Franklin's "Think" is on the flip side and while it's certainly a great song and obviously appears in the movie, it strikes me as a weird choice for the b side of a single that's credited to The Blues Brothers.  If anything, it seems more like a split single to me.

This isn't a one off occurrence, as we go through the soundtrack singles you'll see a few other interesting pairings like this.  Luckily, they're all pretty great songs.  Though in a perfect world, I'd lose the extra backing vocals in "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" and just use the version that appears in the movie.

The Blues Brothers - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

Aretha Franklin - "Think":