Monday, April 30, 2018

falls - Wednesday CD EP


Waterslide (2015)

I reviewed the excellent falls cassette EP a couple of weeks ago, but I also have the CD EP of theirs from 2015 that I hadn't had a chance to write about yet.  As you may remember, falls was one of the bands that played the Waterslide/PopKid show when I was in Tokyo last year.  They blew me out of the water at the show and they've continued to do so with their recorded output.

When I was talking about their cassette, I had mentioned how appropriate I thought it was that they were covering a Silver Scooter song due to the similarities between the two bands.  That comparison holds true for this EP as well.  Much like Silver Scooter, the band builds their songs off of tight, impactful drumming and impressive bass lines.  The rhythm section laying down this solid foundation allows for the band to create truly dynamic guitar work, transitioning from gentle plucking of the strings to fuzzy blasts of chords at the blink of an eye.

falls have found a way to harvest some of the sounds and intricacies of mid 90s bands like Boys Life, but they manage to keep everything catchy with the sort of hooks and choruses you expect from pop punk bands.  Really, the more I think about it the more I realize that they're just so much like Silver Scooter in so many ways.  A great band, writing great songs.  After these EPs, I'm definitely ready for falls to put out a full length.

falls - Wednesday:

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Jailhouse Rock 7" (Netherlands)


WEA (1980)

This is one of my favorite Blues Brothers 7"s.  This version of the "Jailhouse Rock" single comes from the Netherlands and has "Sweet Home Chicago" as the B side.  It has completely unique artwork and doesn't look anything like any of the other Blues Brothers singles I have.  Even though it's a little weird that the image is chopped off at the ankles, that oddness only makes me love it more.

Even the way I obtained it was somewhat strange.  A seller on Discogs in The Netherlands had it listed.  I tried to buy it from them directly and they wanted to charge an astronomical shipping fee.  I think it was close to $60.  For one 7".  Crazy.  Anyway I came up with a plan and with the help of the wonderful Scott from Brassneck, we had the 7" shipped to the UK and then it was sent over with some stuff from Brassneck (I buy records there, so should you*).  Scott told me the seller shipped this in a gigantic box, so oversized for one 7" that it was ridiculous.  

Anyway, it's really cool addition to the Blues Brothers collection and I thank Scott for helping me obtain it.

*Cheap, but heartfelt plug

The Blues Brothers - "Jailhouse Rock":

The Blues Brothers - "Sweet Home Chicago":

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Custody - S/T LP Blue w/ Black Swirl Vinyl (/300)


Little Rocket (2018)

Custody are from Finland and hot damn what a great, great band they are.  So much so, that last year I put my money where my mouth was and helped release one of their 7"s.  While PopKid wasn't able to get involved with their debut full length, I can unquestionably say that: 1. It's great and 2. I really wish this was on PopKid.  It would have been a wonderful addition to our catalog.

Custody have a knack for melodic punk in ways that I have not seen in many years.  They have a 90s leaning style that often makes me think of Samiam in the way they craft their melodies and hooks.  But to get the full picture you need to add in a band like Starmarket in the way they are able to inject fierce energy and super dynamic guitar interplay.

Each of the album's ten songs just knock me over again and again.  They have an uncanny ability to craft their songs in a way that uses the verse as a launching pad for their killer choruses.  Custody also has incredible skill with constructing the instrumental portions of their songs, with perfectly placed bridges and honestly, some of the best song outros/conclusions that I've ever heard.

Custody's debut full length is so clearly one of the best albums to come out in 2018 so far.  I can't recommend it highly enough and I hope these guys keep cranking out records for many years.

Custody - S/T:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Supercrush - I've Been Around 7" - Orange Vinyl (/100)


Debt Offensive (2018)

I am pretty damn excited that there is a new Supercrush 7".  Though the band's output is sporadic and has been limited to singles so far, they are quietly amassing a collection of some pretty incredible pop songs.  

Everything I loved about 90's era guitar pop bands like Poole, The Merrymakers or perhaps the very poppiest moments of the Lemonheads is captured in the two songs on this 7".  A side "I've Been Around" is the more brazenly catchy of the two with its perfectly executed harmonies and escalating guitar riffs.  I just can't get enough of that warm, California, Overwhelming Colorfast style of guitar tone the band has so expertly dialed in.

Things mellow out a bit on the B side "Brutal Honesty," but again the songwriting chops and big, big hooks are on full display once again.  I really love this band and I desperately want them to put out a full length album.  Don't get me wrong, I'l happily take as many 7"s as they're willing to release, but I feel like the band would really be able to take advantage of a the full length format and really deliver something special.  I hope that time comes sooner than later.  Again, just a fantastic band.

Supercrush - I've Been Around 7":

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips - S/T Cassette


More Power Tapes (2017)

I'm trying to get through these cassettes, but it's becoming something of a slog as a lot of them just aren't very good. Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips are one of those bands that fit in that category.  Their band name isn't good and the 6 songs on this tape also aren't very good.

Now I will say that it's somewhat impressive that every instrument on this album is played by the same guy.  Though you could also make the jack of all trades/master of none argument.  Everything sounds rough.  The recording quality is lo fi and it's really just a demo.  I get that, but it ends up sounding like any one of a thousand high school punk rock bands that play three shows at house parties and then go off to college and/or working at K mart.  I'm sure it's fun for them, but let's be honest.  No one wants to listen to that.

The last song "Scib Dobbin'" is probably the best as it at least makes an attempt to be catchy, but it's also pretty silly.  I don't really have much else to say about this.  I just don't like it.  It's mostly a lot of yelling over basic screechy guitar and the occasional keyboard.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips - S/T Cassette:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

V/A - A Tribute To Broccoli - R.S.V.P.


Fixing A Hole (2018)

If there is a band that deserves a tribute album, in my eyes, it's Broccoli.  In addition to being one of my favorite bands of all time, I also think they are wildly overlooked and under appreciated considering their phenomenal output.  While they were only a band for a short while, they amassed a pile of singles, a pair of albums and some of the best songs I've ever heard.

This double CD tribute album is boasting thirty eight bands, all providing their take on a classic Broccoli track.  Bands from all over the world take part, but Broccoli's influence seems to have been felt most keenly in the UK and Japan.  It would take a long time to point out every cool band and every cool cover, but I'll try to quickly go over a few.

Hyalin does a great version of "Constance." The Corpse's take on "Chestnut Road," a song always in contention for my favorite Broccoli song, is faithful, but still manages to tread new ground. The Hum Hums do a version of "I Am A Robot" that is pretty spectacular.  Though another band doing the same song, Honcho Tiros, is probably the most interesting take on a Broccoli song as they really put their own stamp on it and transform it into something completely new.  I do wish the vocals were just a little louder in the mix, but it is still a highlight of the compilation.

Egotrunk do the song "Short Straw Fate," The No Marks tackle "R.S.V.P." and Bows turn in "Constance."  The band Chestnut Road (named after a Broccoli song) don't cover the song their band is named after, they do "Fido."  The band Short Straw Fate (also named after a Broccoli song) don't cover the song "Short Straw Fate," they do a great version of "Jamaica Street."  And the funniest one to me is Water Closet's cover of "Da-a-a-ance," which isn't even a Broccoli song.  That one was a Lambrettas song that Broccoli covered on a 7". A band covering a band covering a band, but it's still a solid version of the song.

Now, I have to say that you really should own the original Broccoli albums these songs came from.  Their second LP Home is probably the best place to start.  But I think that this tribute compilation could be an interesting way to discover these songs, particularly if you're already familiar with some of the incredible bands that took part in this project.  There's no place online to stream the entire compilation that I can find, trust me.  It's definitely worth a listen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Accident - Platinum Summer Cassette


More Power Tapes (2017)

I've been trying to get caught up on the backlog of tapes I have hanging around to review.  I've probably mentioned before that it's hard to get motivated to go through these as I just have no real connection with cassettes.  Sure I had some Weird Al tapes when I was a kid and I did buy the occasional Eric B and Rakim cassingle during my teenage years, but I would so much rather listen to a record or even a CD.  The tape thing just bums me out, despite the fact that I realize it's a way for smaller bands to cheaply get their music out there.  But really, could cassettes possibly be cheaper than CD-rs at this point?

Anyway, that little diatribe kind of segues into this Accident cassette.  Listening to it, it's very clear that this isn't the sort of thing that really warrants a vinyl release.  It's low budget punk rock with vocals recorded in a way that you can barely hear them.  The songs just kind of plod along with the screechy treble of the guitar drowning out some dude that sounds like his singing in a different room from the one the microphone is actually in.

All six of these songs are one dimensional and not the sort of thing I would ever listen to.  Maybe if I was still in high school, but even then I didn't like any of the local bands playing the town VFW halls.

Accident - Platinum Summer:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Songs For Snakes - Crystal Vapour Figure LP


Timid Crusher (2018)

Crystal Vapour Figure is the third full length album I've reviewed by Songs For Snakes.  Every time I listen to them, I can't help but wonder why they aren't a bit more well known that they seem to be.  This is a band playing the kind of killer, working class, melodic punk rock that you'd think would really resonate with a certain section of older punks, namely the ones that worship at the alters of Jawbreaker and Leatherface.

Now, that's not to say that Songs for Snakes are a carbon copy of either of those bands.  If anything, Jawbreaker and Leatherface are touchstones and influences on the sound of Songs For Snakes.  The Snakes take things their own direction, really owning the melodic side of the punk rock section.  They build their guitar riffs creating music that shows energy, while keeping the vocals somewhat vulnerable, yet still teeming with bitterness and rage.  It's a unique balancing act and one of the things that really sets Songs For Snakes apart from the sort of thing you'd hear on No Idea.

Frankly, Songs For Snakes are probably one of the more under appreciated bands out there.  Every record they've put out is great and they seem to get better every time they release a new one.  Crystal Vapour Figure is their best so far and is really worth checking out if you're not familiar with the band.  I want them to sell enough records to keep putting out new ones for a long, long time.

Songs For Snakes - Crystal Vapour Figure:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Jailhouse Rock 7" (France)


Atlantic (1980)

This version of the Jailhouse Rock 7" comes from France.  The B side is "Sweet Home Chicago," though I personally feel like "Chicago" should be the A side and "Jailhouse Rock" should be the B side.  It's semantics really, I could play whichever side I wanted to first.  Both are great songs, but to me, "Sweet Home Chicago" feels like a Blues Brothers song and "Jailhouse Rock" feels like a cover.  I know all of the Blues Brothers songs are covers, but I guess it's mostly about when I first heard the song.

The artwork on this picture sleeve is pretty cool.  It's a still from the Palace Hotel Ballroom scene at the end of the movie and is one of the few 7"s out there that isn't recycling a picture from another release.  I especially like that you can see a bit of Cropper and Duck Dunn in the background. The nerve center of a great rhythm and blues band. Good stuff.

The Blues Brothers - "Jailhouse Rock":

The Blues Brothers - "Sweet Home Chicago":

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

falls - S/T Cassette


Too Smell (2017)

When I went to Japan last year I got to see one punk rock show.  Four great bands played that show and one of those bands was falls.  I have two records by them so far, a five song CD and this five song cassette.  I'm going to start up with the cassette, but I've been listening to both quite a bit.

This tape starts out with two cover songs.  The first is "Dot Dash" by Wire and the second is an epic cover of one of my all time favorite songs, "Pumpkin Eyes" by Silver Scooter.  falls really do an incredible job with "Pumpkin Eyes," managing to stay true to the song's melancholy vibe but adding in just enough new flair to call it their own.

On the B side, there's three of falls' original songs and this is where they really shine.  They're crafting songs that some might say lean towards the emo side of things, but all three songs are so deeply rooted in guitar pop that they never lose sight of the hook. They've intertwined dynamic guitar leads with a tight rhythm section, resulting in songs that have room to experiment, but are rooted in their service to them main structure of the song.  In a lot of ways, falls remind my of Silver Scooter at the height of their power, so the "Pumpkin Eyes" cover is particularly appropriate.

Let's be honest, this is just a great tape.  I wish it was a CD or a 10" instead of being a tape, but I'll take what I can get when the songs are this good.  I'm pretty lucky I got to see them play, I hope I get to again one day.

falls - "Pumpkin Eyes":

falls - "City Of Hercules" (this live version is all I could find online):

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Big Bleach - Riffin' With Biff Cassette


More Power Tapes (2016)

Riffin' With Biff is another tape I've had kicking around for way too long.  More Power Tapes unloaded a pretty big pile of cassettes on me and it just turned into this never ending pile that started looking more like work than fun.  I am trying to get through them.

Big Bleach isn't really for me.  It's fast for the most part, but isn't really ever poppy enough to hold my interest.  Throughout the cassette's four songs, there are times when it sounds like the music is being played at high speed, but the vocals still sound normal. Even though this tape is only a year or so old, there's something about it that feels kind of old.  Like it's a demo from the 80s that was dug up and put out today, with no context for the time it was actually recorded.  I guess that's a convoluted way of saying it sounds kind of dated.

Big Bleach - Riffin' With Biff:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Aaron & The Burrs - A Burr For All Seasons Cassette


More Power Tapes (2016)

I've fallen way behind on cassette releases.  This is likely because I don't like cassettes, even when I like the music that is on them.  Case in point, Aaron & The Burrs.

Aaron & The Burrs are playing really pleasant instrumental surf music.  It's light and breezy with nods to the softer side of the Ventures and is just a damn fun listen.  There's little to no distortion and the upbeat and sunny guitar riffs betray the somewhat darker artwork the cassette is sporting.

I probably should have taken advantage of the free download link on the More Power Tapes Bandcamp page sooner, that does make things a little easier.  So apologies for taking so long to say something about this tape, but what I have to say is positive.  I really like this album and I highly recommend it for your next BBQ or beach excursion.

Aaron & The Burrs - A Burr For All Seasons:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sleepasaurus - It's All Written Down And I Still Don't Feel Any Better LP


Motherbox / Creep (1996)

About four thousand years ago I bought a split 7" between the bands Buford and Sleepasaurus.  I'll be honest, I was there for the Buford songs and never really paid much attention to the Sleepasaurus side for whatever reason.  I don't know how Sleepasaurus came back on my radar, but I decided to pick up their album off of discogs.  I picked this up quite a while ago actually, but hadn't gotten around to reviewing it yet.

So this is pop punk.  Awesome, 1990s, bouncy pop punk.  They remind me of Zoinks more than any other band, though I think Zoinks were a bit more melodic and Sleepasaurus is a bit more aggressive.  It really couldn't sound more quintessentially 90s and for the life of me, I can't figure out how they weren't one of my favorite bands twenty years ago.  They're so right up my alley and were even somewhat local being from NY, not to mention this was released on Creep.  I can't fathom they didn't play some shows with Plow United that I either missed or somehow have no memory of.

I'm really glad I went back and gave these guys another shot and now I think I'm going to need to start hunting down their various other non-Buford-split releases.

Sleepasaurus - "Little Fonzie":

Sleepasaurus - "She Already Has A Boyfriend":

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Protectors / Egotrunk - Split CD


Fixing A Hole (2013)

First of all, thanks to Kei for sending me a copy of this CD.  He had noticed that I reviewed another Egotrunk release a few weeks back and I had mentioned I was looking for more of their records.  Now that I have this split, it looks like there's just a mini LP called 19 that I need to hunt down.

The split starts off with a band called Protectors.  Unbeknownst to me (but knownst to others I'm sure), Protectors features Chris Charlton.  He was in one of my favorite mid 90s UK bands, Chopper.  I didn't realize he'd been releasing records with this band.  A quick google search tells me they put out a bunch of records that I knew nothing about.  I feel about a hundred years old and helplessly out of touch.  

Anyway, the two Protectors songs on this are quite good.  They don't sound much like Chopper, but instead take a less fuzzy approach to indie rock songwriting while still hanging on to those mid 90s hooks that I like so much.  The vocals are soaring and have an optimistic feel to them.  I like this a lot and need to find some of their other releases.

Egotrunk are from Japan and man do I love these two songs.  Tight, powerful blasts of 90s style pop punk with super dynamic guitar work.  "9.5" starts things off with relentless drumming and a catchy as hell riff.  What a great damn song. "Season 31 and Change" has those stutter stops with palm muted guitar in the verse and that just only makes chorus catchier and more impactful when it hits. The songs seem a bit more energetic and rougher around the edges than the ones on the EP I have, but I'm OK with that and think these are just as good, maybe even better.  Only one more record to find, if you see it, let me know. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Beachheads - S/T LP


Fysisk Format (2017)

I have to thank my friend Jonas for recommending this Beachheads record to me.  I feel like I've really lost touch with the bands coming out in places like Sweden and Norway and it was really nice to have some help in discovering this incredible album. Once upon a time, I was really plugged in to the noisy pop of that region, but as time has gone by it seems like I'm not able to keep up with things over there.

Beachheads hail from Norway and are playing the exact sort of Scandinavian guitar pop music that drives me crazy.  A little bit of a less crunchy Wannadies mixed in with the supreme pop melodies of the Merrymakers with a little bit of Beezewax thrown in for good measure.  Every song on this album is crammed full of the sort of hooks that get stuck in your head for the rest of your life.  It's really a perfect pop album.

It looks like this debut full length is the only Beachheads album currently out.  There's a two song single up on their Bandcamp page, but it doesn't look like it was released on a physical format, I think it was digital only.  Regardless, Beachheads are a band I plan on playing close attention to going forward and I hope this is the first of many great records.  If nothing else, hopefully Jonas will let me know if they put out another album.

Beachheads - S/T LP:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Roy Orbison - The Ultimate Collection 2xLP


Monument / Legacy / Roy's Boys (2016)

A couple of months ago I was flipping through the stations on TV and I stumbled across a Roy Orbison concert on PBS.  It was filmed in black & white even though it was from the 80s and featured Roy along with some other musicians playing Roy's hits. On board were an impossibly young Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen.  Needless to say it was a pretty captivating watch and it got me thinking that I didn't have any Roy Orbison records in my collection despite being pretty familiar with a huge swath of his work.

I didn't think I wanted to go crazy and track down every Orbison release, so I was hopeful to find a serviceable greatest hits collection.  This double LP is way more than serviceable and compiles pretty much every Roy hit that I was looking for and even tacks on a couple of Traveling Wilburys songs for good measure.  From "Oh, Pretty Woman" to " Drove All Night" to "You Got It" (and those are just the first three songs on the album) all of Roy's most popular songs seem to be present or at least the ones I'm most familiar with.  I really wish Electric Light Orchestra would have a hits record this comprehensive as they have too many LPs to hunt down.

Sound quality is great and I really have no criticisms at all about this record.  There was a gap in my record collection and The Ultimate Collection stepped in a filled the gap.  I couldn't ask for more.