Monday, July 16, 2018

Abolitionist - The Instant LP - Red Vinyl (/274)

Untitled

1859 Records (2018)

The Instant is the third album by Abolitionist that I've been able to write about on this website.  Over the years I've watched them start out as an exciting band that I hadn't heard of before to a group that I can count on to churn out a pretty strong record every time.

I was a little concerned when the album starts off with the title track as the drumming is in full on gallop mode with the song careening by at a thousand miles an hour.  But this is something of a false start as by the very next song, "Trouble," Abolitionist takes things down a notch and settles into a slightly slower and certainly more melodic pace for a good portion of this album.  In fact I'd venture to say this is probably the album of their's with the least amount of blazing fast songs and I really think they benefit from that. There are plenty of fast, uptempo songs on The Instant, they just don't pass that speed limit where we start venturing into NOFX territory.

Many times throughout the album I'm reminded of Dead Mechanical, primarily in the vocals, but also in the way that the bands construct their songs.  They achieve maximum catchiness, but never sacrifice the underlying angst or pissed-off-ed-ness that are fueling the songs.  All of their albums are solid, but The Instant may be the best of the bunch.

Abolitionist - The Instant:
https://1859records.bandcamp.com/album/abolitionist-the-instant-lp

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Aretha Franklin & The Blues Brothers Band - Think 7" (Australia)

Untitled

Atlantic (1983)

I'm actually just about through all of the Blues Brothers 7"s that I have.  At this point all that is left are a few that are kind of weird and of course the handful that I haven't tracked down yet.  This one is a Blues Brothers 7" although if anything it's kind of like a split 7" with Aretha Franklin.

Aretha gets top billing with her version of "Think" from the Soundtrack of the Blues Brothers movie.  Always a longtime favorite of mine, Aretha's pipes are on full display here as she careens through an incredibly energetic version of the song.  It's one of the most memorable scenes in a movie that has its fair share of memorable scenes.

On the B side is the Blues Brothers version of the theme from "Rawhide."  Again, from an iconic scene in the movie, the whole section from Bob's Country Bunker is one of my very favorites and I've always been partial to the song, even though it's from the soundtrack and is a slightly different and longer version than what is played in the movie.  I think that I like "Rawhide" so much because it is one of the few songs out there that Elwood sings.  And since he's always been my favorite Blues Brother, I've just dug this since I was a little kid.

This is definitely one of the more unique Blues Brothers 7"s I have, it has unique artwork with pictures that miraculously have not been recycled from other releases.  It's even got a funny, fake newspaper clipping show review of the Bob's Country Bunker show by the Good Old Blues Brothers Boys Band from Chicago.  Quality stuff.

Aretha Franklin & The Blues Brothers Band - "Think":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELVZIlv5fbE

The Blues Brothers - "Theme From Rawhide":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Y55zpYfFAE

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Fastbacks - Answer The Phone, Dummy LP

Untitled

Sub Pop (1994)

When I went to the Seattle Pop Punk Festival in January one of the bands that played was K Streets.  A band featuring multiple members of the Fastbacks, playing Fastbacks songs.  For whatever reasons, The Fastbacks were never a band that I had listened to much, if at all, over the years.  They embarrassingly just weren't on my radar and I never bought any of their records.  K Streets, however, blew my goddamn mind and I knew right then I had to go buy every Fastbacks record I could possibly get my hands on.

At the recommendation of my buddy Alan, I've started with their 1994 album Answer The Phone, Dummy.  The dual vocals of Lulu Gargiulo and Kim Warnick coupled with the insane guitar pyrotechnics of Kurt Bloch create a real firestorm of catchy songs that have an unbelievable energy to them.  Guitar solos are not always my favorite things at the best of times, but the way Kurt weaves them into these songs, they never feel like self indulgent wanking, they are always in service to the hook and the song.

There are so many incredible songs throughout this album.  Crazed fast rockers like "Went For a Swim,"slower more introspective ones like "Old Address of the Unknown" and flat out pop masterpieces like “On The Wall” and "I Found The Star."  Every song has something unique to offer but still work in the context of the album as a whole.

Again, it's borderline ridiculous that it took me until 2018 to realize that the Fastbacks are great and that I should be listening to their records.  I'm well over twenty five years behind the curve on this band, but now that I've seen the light my hunt begins to track down the rest of their large and very intimidating discography.  If anyone has a recommendation of the next one to pick up, let me know.

The Fastbacks - "I Found The Star":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50QTl8SYEnA

The Fastbacks - "Trumpets Are Loud":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuArA4BDW3E

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Revolution For Her Smile - A Compilation of Rad Youth CD

Untitled

Road Trip (2017)

This album came out at the very end of last year and Kazu from Waterslide recommended that I check them out as he though they'd be up my alley.  He was absolutely right so I bought this CD when I made my most recent bulk purchase of punk rock from Japan.  Revolution For Her Smile is another amazing band in what seems to be a never ending string of amazing melodic punk rock bands from Japan.

Throughout the ten songs on this album, Revolution For Her Smile turn in some amazing moments.  From the bouncy and upbeat opener "Small Riots" to the more straightforward rocker "Waking Life" to the more subdued, but no less catchy "Three Chord Song" this is a band that knows the value of a high caliber hook.  There are parts of the album that remind me of the equally excellent Summerman, but in general Revolution For Her Smile leans a bit fuzzier with their guitars and a bit louder overall.

I'm not sure what it is, but sometimes I really feel like Japanese bands create the best punk rock in the world.  Revolution For Her Smile is another incredible band in that tradition and I can only hope that A Compilation Of Rad Youth is the first of many fantastic records that they'll put out.

Revolution For Her Smile - A Compilation of Rad Youth:
https://revolutionforhersmile.bandcamp.com/album/a-compilation-of-rad-youth

Monday, July 9, 2018

Raging Nathans / Wonk Unit - Split 7"

Untitled

Drunken Sailor / Rad Girlfriend (2016)

I'm not exactly sure why it took me two years to pick up this 7".  I'm actually not positive that I knew it was out, though that seems weird to me.  Anyway, I grabbed it while looking for something to help qualify for free shipping while grabbing some records from Green Noise.  This split popped up and it fit the bill perfectly.

First up on this split 7" we have Raging Nathans.  A few years ago I wrote about their album Losing It and I definitely enjoyed that.  The two songs on this 7" seem to reflect a somewhat rougher version of the band as they barrel through three chord, pop punk style riffs at blazing speed.  Both songs are short, economical and cram a ton of energy into their brief run times.  "Good For You" is my favorite of the two with it's bouncy, super catchy chorus.  These guys also have a new album out this year called Cheap Fame, but I haven't picked that one up yet.

On the other side of the 7" we have Wonk Unit, a band that I was really late to the party for, but one that I've been trying to make up for lost time with.  "We Came Together" starts thing of with a jangly guitar riff, that feels like something that might be on a deep cut of a Vacant Lot album, but with a slight ska lean to it.  "Candy" showcases Wonk Unit's ability to craft a simple, sparse song that still contains all of the energy of the loudest punk thrasher you can think of.  Their ability to keep things unique, but still cram their songs full of hooks is on full display during both songs.

Raging Nathans / Wonk Unit - Split 7":
https://drunkensailorrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wonk-unit-raging-nathans-split-7
 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

V/A - 14 Soda Punx LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Top Drawer (2018)

Reviewing compilations is a pain in the ass.  You have to try to write about a bunch of different bands all playing different songs and it's often difficult to tie everything together in a way that makes any sense.  For that reason, I've been sitting on 14 Soda Punx for a few months.  Even though there's a nice, built in talking point of my trip out to Seattle to see many of these bands play at the Seattle Pop Punk Festival (it was actually reviewing the Four Lights album the other day that spurred my on to finally tackle this one) it's still tough to navigate compilations.

I'm not going to be able to write something about every band, but I'll hit a few.  The album starts off on side A with a band called Sucesss who have a song called "Kurt Bloch."  That was confusing at first.  It's actually a pretty good song, even though the lyrics are kind of silly.  Coyote Bred have a song called "Pile" that's catchy and poppy, with a little bit of a Social Distortion twang to it.  Burn Burn Burn's drummer plays too fast.  I don't really like Choke The Pope, though I did enjoy the song on here more than I expected to.

"Leave You Guessing" by Four Lights starts off the B side and is as good as anything on their recent full length, so that's a highlight.  The Botherations have a great contribution with "Amor Perdido," that kind of has a darker pop punk feel, like the Red Dons.  The Drolls has Denny from Sicko in the band and "Getting Old" is probably my favorite song on the album.  Dude sure can write a hook.  Date Night With Brian has Ean from Sicko and "Get It In" is indie pop fun.  Really dig this song. Dude can sure write a hook.

13 Soda Punx was one of my favorite compilations of the 90s.  It had Sicko, Mr. T Experience, Bum, Stand GT and a slew of other pretty great bands.  14 Soda Punx is a pretty solid sequel.  The highlights for me tend to be some of the bands that sound like they could have been on the first comp, including the bands that have people that were in bands on the first compilation.  But there are plenty of new sounds to discover on this one and really, isn't that the point of compilations?

V/A - 14 Soda Punx:
https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F359264052%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-4t1pd&color=%23444e59&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=false&show_user=false&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=false

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Practice - Punk Rock Needs Tragedy 7"

Untitled

Niw (2016)

This was a record I picked up while in Tokyo.  Actually, I mistakenly bought it twice, so I have two copies of it.  This was a Record Store Day 2016 release, so I guess in Japan, like in America, a lot of Record Store Day releases end up being around long past the original release date.

The Practice was a band that put out a few 7"s on Snuffy Smiles many years ago.  I loved those 7"s, but then the band kind of fell off my radar.  I know they put out a few CDs that I never was able to pick up, but those Snuffy Smiles 7"s were pretty much all I have heard.  The four songs on this 7" are, in general, pretty good, but they feel a lot cleaner and not as immediately attention grabbing as those earlier 7"s I have.

The 7" starts off with "Yuck Fou," A song that is big and anthemic and sure does have a lot of swearing in it.  It's the very definition of a fist pumper and even though the guitars are jangly and somewhat in the background of the mix, you can definitely feel the energy. "(Super Dirty) Old Town" has a bouncy bass line and is pretty organ heavy you can hear The Clash for sure, but the chorus reminds me of Snuff a bit.

"Another Measure" is the slowest of the bunch with a borderline reggae style drum beat.  It's not my favorite of the four. "Tragedy" closes the 7" and is my favorite this batch of songs.  With a driving rhythm section and a really catchy chorus, it's the the most straightforward song on the 7" and I think, the best.  While I don't think this 7" as a whole is as good as the other Practice records I have, these are still solid songs that I dig.  I'm not sure I need two copies of it, but I'm happy to hang on to one of them.

The Practice - "Yuck Fou" (I could only find a live version on YouTube):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0YOLYGcCGY

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Four Lights - Kobayashi Maru LP - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Bomb Pop / Stardumb (2018)

Four Lights hail from Seattle and they actually played at the incredible Seattle Pop Punk Festival that I went to in January.  There were a ton of great bands that played that weekend and it was pretty cool to have this album show up in the mail.  Whatever magic Four Lights had as a live band that weekend has absolutely transferred to this album.  It's a gigantic ball of energy from start to finish.

To my ears, Four Lights has successfully threaded the needle between bands like Samiam and Superdrag.  They have the big, crunchy guitars and pounding energy you'd come to expect from the Samiams of the world.  But, they manage to incorporate the sort of hooks, song structures and harmonies that one might expect from some of those Superdrag level bands that snuck onto some major labels back in the 90s (only to end up in the used CD bins of the world for all eternity).

That isn't to say Four Lights is destined for the used bin.  Quite the contrary, this is an album filled with songs that get absolutely lodged into your cranium.  Whether the band is blasting forward full steam on songs like "ComRAD" and "We Got Em"or when they slow things down as they do on "Scene of the Crime" and "Jimmy's Song Part 2" (which reminds me a ton of the band Hospital Job) they always deliver on a big fat chorus that you'll be humming for days afterwards.  I'd not heard of Four Lights prior to the Seattle Pop Punk Festival, but I'm sure glad I did as Kobayashi Maru is good stuff.

Four Lights - Kobayashi Maru:
https://fourlightsrock.bandcamp.com/album/kobayashi-maru

Monday, July 2, 2018

Kenny Baker - Out of There, Out of Time CD

Untitled

Fixing A Hole (2017)

Going to Japan last year was more than just a great trip, it also stoked the fire I have for the Japanese punk rock scene.  Over the last few years I had been trying to pay more attention to things over there, but since that trip all I want to do is buy more Japanese records.  Luckily, Kazu from Waterslide records has been there to help me find some things I've been looking for and also to recommend some bands that I might have missed on my own.  Kenny Baker was one of his picks for me last year and I am so thankful I listened to him and bought a copy of this CD.

Out of There, Out of Time is practically a perfect melodic punk rock record.  Kenny Baker channels the sort of melodies and hooks that you'd hear from Doughboys or perhaps the more upbeat moments of Senseless Things, but they enchance these hooks with the sort of vigor and energy you'd expect from a band like Samiam or Blew.  Kenny Baker has managed to take some of my favorite sounds of the 90s and put their own stamp on it, creating ten absolutely fantastic songs.

If it's not obvious, I love this album.  I only wish I had gotten it last year when it came out so I could have put it on my list of the best records that came out in 2017.  There's no way Out of There, Out of Time wouldn't have at least been in the top five of the year.  It's one of the best records I've heard in a while.  Now I just have to try to find their other EPs that came out back in the 90s and hope they are already working on a new record.  Seriously, this is the best.

Kenny Baker - "Heavy Moon" (I can't find anything streaming, but Fixing A Hole has an MP3 of this song up):
http://fixingahole.jpn.org/mp3s/kenny_baker-heavy_moon.mp3

Kenny Baker - "I Just Want To Say Something To You" (Also an MP3):
http://fixingahole.jpn.org/mp3s/kenny_baker-something_to_you.mp3