Thursday, January 31, 2019

Starmarket - S/T LP - White Vinyl (/300)


Assembly Line (2018, Reissue)

When the news came out several months ago that Starmarket was getting back together to play some shows focusing on the early material in their catalog, I was pretty upset that I wasn't in Sweden or Japan.  Those first two Starmarket full lengths are among my favorite records of all time.  We were even lucky enough to release the US version of the band's second album, Sunday's Worst Enemy on PopKid.  Their first self titled release hadn't been released on vinyl when it came out back in 1995, but the fine folks at Assembly Line records have issued in on wax in conjunction with the band's reunion.

I still remember how completely blown away I was when I first heard this album.  My buddy Alan played a few songs for me at the Flipside record store in NJ.  When that machine gun guitar intro blasts out of the speakers in the opening track "Your Style," it still gives me chills almost twenty-five years later.  The entire album is full of dynamic pop-core guitar that would make Bob Mould proud.  Starmarket managed to harness so much energy into these songs.  Even on the slower ones like "Parking Lot" and "Cozy and Warm" there's a palpable electricity that so few bands are able to achieve.

This vinyl version sounds great.  Every high hat is crystal clear and every bass line rumbles along with the sort of warmth that envelops the room.  I really couldn't be more excited to finally add a vinyl version of this album to the collection.  It's probably been one of the biggest omissions up to this point (still waiting for Onehundredpercentfreak by Alligator Gun though).

I'm hopeful that a vinyl version of the Starmarket EP Calendar gets released (along with some extra B sides of the era would be nice).  I also really hope that Sunday's Worst Enemy gets a proper vinyl treatment.  While Dolores records put out a vinyl version of that album when it came out in 1997, it's a picture disc that frankly doesn't really sound that great.  A better vinyl release would be a very welcome addition.

Starmarket - "Your Style":

Starmarket - "Unwanted":

Starmarket - "Cozy and Warm":

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

JSR - ...It Roars Cassette


Motorcycle Potluck (2018)

The moment that the fist song on this tape, "I'm Not Gonna Lie, It's Been A Weird Year," starts off, the only thing I can think of is how much it sounds like The Karl Hendricks Trio.  Specifically my favorite Kark Hendricks song, "Dead Flowers."  Now the ending bit of the JSR song is a bit more frantic than how Karl chose to crescendo his opus, but there's a humanity and storytelling aspect of the song that makes me think they are kindred spirits.

The rest of the album is full of punchy rock songs with heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics.  Let me make that description crystal clear, the lyrics have a personal, almost poetic feel to them, much like Karl Hendricks.  I am not referring to some bullshit over emotional midwestern band desperately trying to get signed to Polyvinyl.

I had no expectations going into this tape.  If anything I was holding the fact that it was released on cassette against it.  But after listening to it a few times, I can say I'm pretty shocked by JSR.  I don't think they have a really easy modern comparison, but I believe that had they been around in 1994 or so, a lot of folks would have really taken notice.  I would absolutely buy this album again on vinyl if it ever were to be released and I recommend checking these guys out.  This is a sleeper release, it deserves your attention.

JSR - ...It Roars:

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Spoilers - Roundabouts LP - Cornetto Vinyl (/150)


Brassneck / Boss Tuneage / Little Rocket / SBAM / Waterslide (2018)

I took way too long to buy this record.  I knew it was going to be good based on prior EPs I had by Spoilers, but the full length came out at a time where I was a bit strapped for cash due to moving into my first home.  The extra shipping was something that I felt I needed to push back for a bit.  Once I was able to add a few more records to the package, I finally had Brassneck send this album over and after listening to it over the past few weeks, I'm even more annoyed that I waited so long.  This absolutely should have been in my top albums of the year list, probably quite high too,

To me, Spoilers sound like if Snuff was fronted by Mark from Crocodile God.  The vocals are melodic and of a higher pitch, but that is combined with an organ drenched punk rock sound that would have been right at home on Demmamussabebonk.  Much like later era Snuff, I tend to prefer the mid tempo songs on Roundabouts the most like "The Same Again," "Skimming Stones" and "Collision Course."  The latter of which has a vocal melody that reminds me of the Cat Stevens song "Father and Son."  Though let's be serious, I don't really know the Cat Stevens version of the song very well, I'm much more familiar with the cover by Horace Goes Skiing.

I don't love the really fast songs as much.  The ones with that galloping NOFX style drum beat sort of just blow by in a haze.  But, I feel the same way about most Snuff songs like that as well, and they are one of my favorite bands of all time.  Roundabouts is a killer record and Spoilers are very quickly becoming one of my current favorite UK bands.  To top it all off, they're about to play some shows opening up for Guns N Wankers.  I mentioned this on Twitter once, but I'll repeat it here, if anyone wants to give me a plane ticket to the UK for those shows, I'll be your best friend.

Spoilers - Roundabouts:

Monday, January 28, 2019

Raise Mind - Farewell 7"


Anti-New Waves (2002)

This Raisemind 7" is another record that I grabbed while I was record shopping in Tokyo a couple of years ago.  I was especially excited to stumble across this 7" as I've had Raisemind's full length album since it came out back in the early 2000s.  I didn't know that the band had released anything else, but I came across this 7" along with a CD EP while in Japan.  According to Discogs, there is also a split CD that I don't have.  Hopefully I can track that down at some point to complete the collection.

This 7" is great, just like everything else I have by Raise Mind.  They play the sort of fast, melodic punk rock that would be right at home on Snuffy Smiles in the late 90s.  That's some of my favorite kind of music in the world.  Raise Mind are right up there with some of the other bands of the era like Just One Day or 8Roof.

Two of the four songs on this 7" also appeared on the album Back Number.  Of the other two, "Half A Wake, Half A Die" looks like it was also on that aforementioned split CD that I don't have, but the opening track "Farewell" seems to be exclusive to this 7" as far as I can tell.  Even if all of the songs had appeared elsewhere, I still would have bought this to have them on vinyl.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Otis Redding - Complete And Unbelievable...The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul 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.

One thing you can say about Otis Redding is that he didn't shy away from long album titles.  Complete And Unbelievable...The Otis Redding Dictionary Of Soul is the longest album title and yet another where the word soul is featured.  In my opinion Otis absolutely earned the right to use the world soul wherever he wants.  In many ways he's the king of soul to me and this album is another that cements his status as one of the greatest of all time.

The album starts off with one of his best, "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)."  The earnest way that Otis delivers the lyrics couple with the accents of the horn section simply create magic.  This is one of my very favorite Otis songs and it's just the start of a pretty incredible album.  Whether he's working with a slower song like "Tennessee Waltz" or something more upbeat like "Love Have Mercy" or putting his own signature stamp on The Beatles' "Day Tripper" pretty much everything on this record is simply great.  Even in a discography as strong as Otis Redding's, Dictionary of Soul stands out as something special.

Otis Redding - "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)":

Otis Redding - "Day Tripper":

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Not Wonk / The Full Teenz - Split 7"


Second Royal (2015)

I picked up this split 7" after really enjoying the two Not Wonk LPs that I had.  While I wasn't familiar with The Full Teenz, one of my favorite things to do is to buy a split 7" only knowing one of the two bands.  It's lead to so many great discoveries over the years and I was hopeful this would be another.

Not Wonk's side includes the song "On This Avenue."  I already had that song on their second LP This Ordinary, but I'm not really all that great at remembering song names, so I didn't realize it until I played this 7" for the first time.  Still, it is a really great song with a slower, Senseless Things meets 90s Brit pop style chorus.  The other song they contribute is a cover of a Full Teenz song called "水彩画." I'm not familiar with the original, but the Not Wonk version is on the slow side and I can't say I like it quite as much as the song that they wrote.

The Full Teenz side of this split is a lot of fun.  The songs are upbeat and catchy, with a treble heavy reverb on the guitar tone. They remind me of another Japanese band called Popcatcher that I have a bunch of CD EPs from that I picked up in the late 90s.  The Full Teenz was a nice surprise and I actually liked their side of this 7" better than the Not Wonk side.  I'm going to have to see if they have any other records that I'm able to get my hands on.

Not Wonk - "On This Avenue":

The Full Teenz - "swim! swim!":

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Treepeople - Actual Re-Enactment LP - Orange Vinyl (/250)


Gravy Lane (2018. Reissue)

After the bang-up job Gravy Lane did on the Stuntman LP they rereleased a little while back, I was extremely excited to hear that they were going to put out this Treepeople album on vinyl.  Actual Re-Enactment originally came out on C/Z records in 1994, but was only out on CD and cassette.  This left a gigantic hole in the Treepeople vinyl discography and thankfully that omission has finally been rectified.

Actual Re-Enactment is a post-Doug Martsch Treepeople album, but in my eyes it's just as dynamic and listenable as anything that came out while he was still a member.  Actual Re-Enactment still has heaps of the dynamic guitar interplay that I always felt was the most distinguishing trait that the band brought to the table.  It's a unique balancing act between noisy chaos and catchy riffs and this is a balance few bands ever pulled off as successfully as Treepeople.

Just take a listen to "Slept Through Mind."  It's my favorite song on the album, mostly for the way the band perfectly places sludgy guitar drone right smack in the middle of an otherwise chill pop song.  On paper it shouldn't work as well as it does, but leave it to Treepeople to not only make it work, but make it a highlight of the album.  The vinyl version Gravy Lane released has been remastered for vinyl and the album pops even more brightly than the CD I've been carrying around for the past few decades.  I'm quite thankful to the label for helping me finally add this record to my collection.

Treepeople - "Slept Through Mine":

Treepeople - "Boot Straps":

Monday, January 21, 2019

Friends Of Cesar Romero - Trashionista Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

I will be totally honest.  Friends Of Cesar Romero confuse the shit out of me.  I have a couple of 7"s by them and now I have this cassette, but if you look at their Bandcamp page, they have about nine thousand albums available for download, almost none of which seem to have any sort of physical release.  I don't understand why my shelf isn't packed with records by this band, who are simply outstanding.

Trashionista is another perplexing release.  Not only is it cassette only, it's a full length album packaged up like a cassingle.  Why isn't this a full length vinyl LP?  It's a fantastic record and I'm embarrassed I didn't put this on my top albums of the year.  It fell through the cracks in a pile of cassettes I misplaced as a result of moving that I just dug up.

Trashionista is packed full incredibly catchy punk rock that straddles garage rock, pop punk and something you might have heard bubbling up from the underground in the late 70s.  If the Marked Men's songs were written by The Knack, maybe it would sound a bit like this.  Maybe not, but whatever Friends Of Cesar Romero are up to, I hope they continue to crank out hits like this.  I also hope more of these hits end up on vinyl.  This album especially would really shine I think.

Friends Of Cesar Romero - Trashionista:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Posies - Dear 23 2xLP


Omnivore (2018, Reissue)

Dear 23 is the first of three Posies reissues that were sold via Pledge Music.  While it seems that you can still buy it essentially anywhere, I did throw down my cash at the very beginning for the reissue of this album, Frosting On The Beater and Amazing Disgrace.  So far only the first two have been released so we'll start with Dear 23 today.

Dear 23 isn't the Posies album I'm most familiar with.  I got interested in the band a little later than many and it was really Frosting On The Beater that I played on repeat over and over.  I did backtrack and picked up the CD of Dear 23, but I just never listened to it quite as much as the others.  Having a really nice vinyl reissue is just the kick in the ass that I needed to pay more attention to this album.  I'm glad I did as there are so many incredible songs.  The first half of the album in particular is pretty crazy with songs like "My Big Mouth," "Golden Blunders" and "Any Other Way."

The reissue sounds incredible and they've done that thing where the album is split over two LPs and is at 45rpm instead of 33 1/3.  I know there are audiophile and sound reasons to do this, and I certainly would never say to do anything to impede the sound quality of an album, but part of me does just wish it was a standard single LP.  It might just be a laziness issue as you have to get up to flip the record to accommodate four sides more often than you would for a single LP.  Then there's also the fact that 45rpm on my record player is being a little wonky lately and everything seems to be playing just a hair slow.  But really, my turntable servicing needs aren't the fault of the folks who put this record out and I'm glad they did their best to make it sound as great as it possibly could.

The Posies - "My Big Mouth":

The Posies - "Any Other Way":

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

V/A - All Temptation 7"


Coconut's House (1996)

This four band compilation 7" is another record that I picked up record shopping in Tokyo two years ago.  Since Husking Bee was one of the bands on it, there was no way I wasn't going to buy it, though I wasn't familiar with the other three bands.

First up on side A was Crickets with their song "Sad Rubbish."  They reminded me a bit of the UK band Exit Condition and also a little bit of the band Reverse.  Their song has a strong melody and a catchy chorus with a pretty cool tempo change.  It looks like they put out a few other releases back in the 90s, so I may have to look into them a bit more.  Next up is Scrap Yard Dogs.  They're a little bit faster and a gruffer than Crickets, but have a similar knack for putting together a catchy song.  While I'm not sure I'm as inspired to go try to find more of their record as I am with Crickets, it's still pretty good.

On the B side we have "Listen To This Song" by Scape Goat.  Scape Goat is a band name that I'm pretty sure I've heard before and I wouldn't be surprised to find out I own some other Japanese compilation that they are on.  That said, this is my least favorite song on the 7", built around that galloping NOFX style drum beat that is never my favorite thing to hear on a pop punk song.

Last up is Husking Bee and their song "Only Way."  This song is also on their first album Grip, which I highly, highly recommend if you haven't heard before.  Husking Bee has been a longtime favorite of mine, ever since an old friend named Tetsu put them on a tape of Japanese bands he made for me back in the 90s.  He was such a big part of helping me discover a lot of non-Snuffy Smiles bands and it makes me sad that I lost touch with him.  I often wonder if he still listens to punk rock as one of the last emails I remember getting from him was him telling me he was mostly listening to techno, but It's probably been twenty years since I last heard from him.

V/A - All Temptation 7":

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Unlikely Friends - Crooked Numbers CD

Swoon (2018)

I had mentioned how much I enjoyed this Unlikely Friends album when I posted my year end list of my favorite records of 2018.  I hadn't written about this album prior to making the list as I hadn't yet purchased the CD.  I kept holding out hope that eventually it would receive a vinyl release.  Unfortunately that never came to pass, so I grabbed the CD version.  All that did was make me wish there was a vinyl release even more.

I love Unlikely Friends.  As I was a pretty big fan of the band Boat, I eagerly follow D. Crane (or Dee Krain - whatever his name actually is) when the first Unlikely Friends album Solid Gold Cowboys came out (also only on CD...).  As great as Solid Gold Cowboys was, Crooked Numbers raises the game even higher.  It's simply a tremendous album of indie rock with a powerful 90s feel to it.  You could easily name check Pavement, Built To Spill, Superchunk, Guided By Voices and many others and while that would put you in a decent frame of reference, none of them truly describe what Unlikely Friends sounds like.

The way the guitars intertwine with the vocal melodies and the incredible lyrical imagery is something very unique to Unlikely Friends.  They are releasing some of my favorite music, I just wish someone would release this incredible music on vinyl.  This is an album that deserves it and Unlikely Friends are band that deserves to be significantly more famous.  Definitely check this one out.  Heck, I'm even considering buying a 2nd copy as the cardboard sleeve of my CD split apart in shipping.

Unlikely Friends - Crooked Numbers:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Flight Kamikaze - Going Down Cassette


Motorcycle Potluck (2018)

I received a package of cassettes from Motorcycle Potluck.  I'm certainly on record as not being a big fan of cassettes and the amount of stuff I still get from More Power Tapes has made me reconsider if I should even review them, but the person from Motorcycle Potluck included a note saying they were friends with Chuck from Snappy Little Numbers and also is in the band Lawsuit Models.  Since both of those are true symbols of quality in my book, I went into these cassettes with an open mind and perhaps some slightly high expectations.

I'm starting off with Flight Kamikaze's four song EP.  The short story is it's pretty good.  The note enclosed with these tapes compared them to The Marked Men and Samiam.  Those are definitely solid starting points from a frame of reference, particularly with Samiam when it comes to guitar riffage and The Marked Men when it comes to playing fast and loud.

All of the songs are pretty short and this tape just flies by when you listen to it.  I do like what I hear though and would be interested in seeing where Flight Kamikaze goes next.

Flight Kamikaze - Going Down:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Otis Redding - The Soul Album 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.

The fourth album in the Otis Redding Studio Albums box set is The Soul Album.  Originally released in 1966, this album has not gone on to have quite the same level of notoriety as some of Otis' other records, but one listen through, it's easy to see the quality of the songs on here is just as high as anything else he released.  It may be lacking that one signature hit single, but with songs like "It's Growing," "Chain Gang" and "634-5789" it's certainly not lacking in incredible songs.

Like the other albums in this box set, the sound quality is quite nice, with everything sounding crisp and clean.  While this may not be my favorite Otis Redding album, it's certainly an integral part of his discography and one that I'm happy to give more attention to as a result of this box set.

Otis Redding - "It's Growing":

Otis Redding - "Chain Gain":

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Not Scientists - Destroy To Rebuild CD

Waterslide (2015)

If it's not obvious from the release date above, I took way too long to write about this album.  Though I haven't had it since 2015, I've definitely had it for a few years and it's just been sitting in a pile of CDs that I haven't written about yet.  Now that's not to say I haven't listened to it.  In fact, this has been on my iPod since mid 2016, and I've listened to it many, many times.  I've just never put pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) and let the world know how much I like this album.

Not Scientists are from France and they've concocted an album full of jagged guitar riffs and melodic choruses that pull together a lot of disparate influences into their songs.  At times I hear the sort of energetic downstrokes that I associate with bands like Idle Hands, but then there are moments where a Superchunk-esque hook takes over the song (They actually cover Superchunk's "Precision Auto" on one of the bonus tracks that's on this Japanese version of the CD).  Sometimes I think they remind me of the band The Sedatives, only to suddenly hear a hook that makes me think they're playing 1990s UK punk like fellow countrymen Chestnut Road.

Throughout all of this shapeshifting, the one consistent is every song is catchy and has a forward driving beat that keeps my toes tapping and my head nodding.  Why it took me over two years to finally write about this album, I'll never know, but it's definitely an album worth checking out.  Looking around the internet, it looks like the band put out another album in 2018.  I'll have to hunt that one down as well.

Not Scientists - Destroy And Rebuild:

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Crimpshrine - Free Box 3xLP


Numero (2017)

I've had this Crimpshrine box set sitting around for ages, but just never got around to taking pictures of it or writing about it.  The main issue I've had is that writing about Crimpshrine's discography can be a little confusing.  They had one full length and a bunch of EPs.  Though part of that full length and some of the EPs were gathered onto one compilation album and then other songs from the full length and some other EPs were compiled onto another album.  A few songs from the lone full length never ended up anywhere else, and that's not even counting the nine song demo cassette thing that had a B side that didn't even have any Crimpshrine songs on it at all.  It had songs by five different bands.  Confused yet? So am I.

Free Box contains vinyl versions of the two most well know Crimpshrine releases; Duct Tape Soup and Sound of a New World Being Born.  These were the aforementioned compilations originally released on Lookout Records.  These are also the records that I first listened to when getting into Crimpshrine, Duct Tape Soup being my introduction to the band.  After all these years, I still think the songs on that album are so powerful and exciting to listen to.  There's an energy about those songs, and pretty much everything they released, that's hard to quantify.  I think it has a lot to do with how bands just don't record like that anymore.  We've made some great leaps with recording technology, but in some ways we've lost that magic spark that the recording studios on those older punk records provided.

In addition to the two main LPs, there is a third album in this box set called 7 Song Demo + Berkeley Sampler.  This is a reissue of a cassette that was put out back in 1987, though there were nine Crimpshrine songs on the cassette version.  The two missing songs on the vinyl release, "Wake Up" and "Rancid Death Cafe," are on the other LPs, so I believe this demo is still complete if you count the contents of the rest of the box set.  On the B side of this LP are 2 songs each from Basic Radio, Soup, Kwikwa, Distorted Truth and Sweet Baby Jesus.  Just like on the original cassette.

In some ways, I love that I'm able to have nice clean versions of two amazing albums.  But in other ways, I kind of wish Numero had taken this opportunity to clean up the band's confusing discography and re-release every song the band put out, grouped as their original releases.  I also wouldn't mind those two missing songs from Lame Gig Contest being a part of this. That said, I still love this release and am happy my old Crimpshrine CDs can be retired in favor of a wonderfully put together vinyl rerelease.

Crimpshrine - Duct Tape Soup:

Crimpshirne - The Sound Of A New World Being Born:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sprocket Wheel - 2nd EP 7" - Clear Vinyl


Swept (1997)

Sprocket Wheel is one of the first Snuffy Smile bands I ever heard of when I started buying records from Japan.  I think their split 7" with Goober Patrol was the first time I became aware of them, although it's possible it was their split with Less Than Jake in 1996.  They were always kind of the band in the background at the time.  I didn't like them as much as bands like Blew or Lovemen, but still managed to accumulate a few records by them.  When I went to Japan two years ago, I found this 7", the only one of theirs that I didn't have.

It really hit me again over the new year how much I miss being in Japan.  I had such an amazing time and I really hope to go back again someday soon.  That said, I find it kind of insane that I still have records I bought on that trip that I haven't written about on this site yet.

Sprocket Wheel deliver five songs on this 7" and as is the case with most of their discography, I tend to prefer the songs of theirs that are a little bit slower and more melodic.  The cream of the crop on this 7" being the closing track "Easy Going."  It has a nice mid tempo beat with an ultra catchy chorus.  All five songs are great in their own way and they actually are the songs that make up the first half of the Broken Rekids singles compilation that came out in 1998.

I picked up another interesting Sprocket Wheel release while in Japan and I'll try to get that one written up in the next few weeks. 

Sprocket Wheel - 2nd EP 7":