Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Scaries - Missing You 7"


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"


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":

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wilson Pickett - The Wicked Pickett LP


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":

Wilson Pickett - "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love":

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Autumn - Edge of Shallows CD


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)

The Autumn "The Physical Principle" (This is a live version, I can't find any album tracks streaming anywhere)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ruler - Jeanie Jeanie Jeanie 7"


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"

Monday, September 17, 2018

Fire Heads - S/T LP


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:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hard Feelings - Sideways LP


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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

2 Sick Worry - Demo CD


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:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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


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":

Deadcuts - "The Less I Want The Less I Need":

Diablo Furs - "Pressure Don't Stop":

Diablo Furs - "Hearts In Motion":

Monday, September 10, 2018

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


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:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour LP - Red Vinyl


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":

Wilson Pickett - "Don't Fight It":

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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


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"

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

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


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":

Treepeople - "Fish Basket":