Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Junk City - Same Places LP


Night Animal / Secret Pennies / Real Ghost (2018)

New Junk City is a band that keeps randomly popping back into my life when I'm not expecting them.  I had a split 7" of theirs sent to me to review a few years ago, they ended up as one of the bands on an All In Vinyl single series that I subscribed to and now a full length album has shown up at my door. 

Same Places is a full length album's worth of all of the things that have made me like the New Junk City 7"s I've heard over the last several years.  This is a band playing energetic, punked up pop songs.  In reading the bio sheet, the label compares the band to several other bands that I don't think they sound like much.  Looking around the internet at other reviews of this album, it seems like most websites are essentially copying and pasting that bio and trying to pass it off as a review.  That sort of thing annoys me to no end.

What I hear are gruff vocals that remind me a little bit of that guy from Flatliners, but over top of music that's significantly better than anything The Flatliners ever released.  There's a certain amount of late 90s energy, in a Burning Airlines sort of way, but more straightforward and with a heavier emphasis on being catchy.  Or maybe a less polished version of late era Samiam, keeping the hooks in tact, but assembling things a bit rougher around the edges.

However you want to try to describe New Junk City, it boils down to the fact that the record is really good and worth checking out.  I might not being paying as much attention to them as I should, but I'm happy that outside forces keep putting this band back in front of me so I don't miss out on anything.

New Junk City - Same Places:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Blues Brothers - Briefcase Full Of Blues - 40 Years Old Today


On November 28th in 1978, the Blues Brothers album Briefcase Full of Blues was released.  Today marks forty years since this album came out.  I was still a week away from my second birthday, but this album being released still ranks as one of the most important events of my life.  Now, as a not-quite two year old, I have no memory of the day this was released.  I also don't know exactly how long it was before I heard the record for the first time, but I can say that by the time I was three, the Blues Brothers were my favorite band in the world.

I've asked my parents how I got into The Blues Brothers and neither one of them really seem to remember.  My mom thinks she was the one who bought the record as she liked them on Saturday Night Live, but the actual music they are playing is more in line with the sort of music my dad liked a bit more.  Neither one of them view the moment as life altering as I do and I wish they had been paying a little more attention to the events as they unfolded.  However this record came into my life, its impact has never waned and while I've said it many, many times in the past, I don't think I would be the same person and I'm not sure I would have ever gotten so into music if it weren't for the initial spark that the Blues Brothers provided.

Over the years I've listened to this album countless times.  I've bought it repeatedly to have different versions on colored vinyl, remastered reissues and various singles that were released from it.  I even recently bought the Japanese pressing of the LP, but it didn't show up in the mail in time to take a picture of it for today.  I've reviewed this record several times on this site in the past.  You can read those if you want more of a song by song account and further details of how important this record is to me.  For today, I just want to make mention of this milestone and say how thankful I am to everyone that played a part in putting this record out.  It means more to me than I could ever articulate.

The Blues Brothers - "Soul Man":

The Blues Brothers - "Rubber Biscuit":

The Blues Brothers - "Messing With The Kid":

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cloud Nothings - Last Burning Building LP - Clear Vinyl


Carpark (2018)

I spent  a great deal of 2018 counting down the days until the new Cloud Nothings album was released.  Everything I read about it made it seem like it would be right up my alley.  While their last album, Life Without Sound, took things in a slightly quieter direction for the band, Last Burning Building was advertised as a return to the loud, heavy guitar sound that the band had employed on earlier albums.  I think they went too far in the other direction.

Here And Nowhere Else is the album that got me into Cloud Nothings and I still that record is essentially perfect.  A wild blend of crunchy and loud guitars, mixed with big hooks and impassioned melodies.  Everything else I've listened to from Cloud Nothings has been me chasing that perfect mix.  Last Burning Building falls short.  In general it's just too dour and is lacking the melodies that are the reason I fell for the band to begin with.

Whether it's the non-stop screaming in album opener "On An Edge" or the plodding guitar riff of "So Right So Clean" or the super unnecessary, never-ending feedback mess of the ten plus minute long "Dissolution," Life Without Sound is directionless and lacks cohesion as an album.  That said, when the band does stick to the upbeat and noisy pop songs that they are best at, the results are incredible. Both "Leave Him Now" and "Another Way Of Life" are outstanding songs, as great as anything else the band has ever churned out.  What I wouldn't give for an album full of songs like these.

Cloud Nothings - Last Burning Building:

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bud Bronson & The Good Timers - Between The Outfield and Outer Space LP - Green Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I think this band has a silly name and although I'm not one that typically puts too much stock in a band's name (I do have four Goober Patrol records, after all), I wonder if some folks might overlook this record.  I certainly wasn't expecting such strong pop hooks based on the band name and album artwork.

While I do appreciate all of the singalong choruses and the general catchiness of most of these songs, there is probably a bit too much lead guitar noodling for my personal taste.  I find myself digging into a song only to have it morph into a Minibosses style shred fest.  Those are the moments where I'm less interested, but when the band keeps is simpler and relies more on the riffs than the leads like on "Back To The Womb" or "Leave It Open" I'm completely captivated.

Ultimately Between The Outfield And Outer Space is a bit of a mixed bag for me.  There are moments in every song that I like and a handful of the songs are pretty great.  But there's so much lead guitar on this record and I keep having late 80s pop metal flashbacks when they kick in.  I'm just a simple man and I guess I like music that's a bit simpler as well.

Bud Bronson & The Good Timers - Between The Outfield and Outer Space:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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


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":

Otis Redding - "That's How Strong My Love Is":

Otis Redding - "Mr. Pitiful":

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Jamie 4 President - The Heartbreak Campaign CD


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:

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Black Paw - Bait 7"


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":

Monday, November 12, 2018

V/A - Mainspring Tribute CD (/300)


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


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


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


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


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)


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":

Otis Redding - "Security":