Thursday, February 14, 2019

False Cathedrals - No Map Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2018)

This 5 song cassette EP is something sent over by the folks over at Snappy Little numbers.  I can't remember exactly when they sent it as I have a bad habit of not keeping the best track of tapes.  On the False Cathedral Bandcamp page it says this was released in 2018, so it's probably not that old.  With a name like False Cathedral and artwork featuring an animal skull, I was definitely judging the book by its cover before listening to this cassette. As I mentioned yesterday, it's something that I'm prone to do from time to time.

Frankly this looks like a metal or hardcore tape and when I started listening to opening song "Me Habria Ido Contigo" I felt pretty vindicated.  That said, a strange thing happened as I kept listening though, the feel of the songs changes dramatically with "Salt Your Fate."  That one has a much stronger pop structure with more emphasis on melody.  There's still a lot of eccessive guitar wanking (big lead guitar is just never anything I've been very interested in), but the song is better thank I expected compared to the opener.

From there we go into "The Real Criminals" and I can't tell the difference between it and "Panama" by Van Halen aside from the singer sounds a little more like the guy from Seaweed than David Lee Roth.  After that I just kind of lose interest, honestly.  There are bits that sound like Faith No More and others that seem like the sort of thing the guys in Soundgarden were probably really into.  Everything is played well and these guys obviously can handle a guitar better than most, but there's nothing here that appeals to me.  It's just too flashy and grandiose for my taste.

False Cathedrals - No Map:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Seagulls - Dear John Letter - Gray Vinyl (/100)


Debt Offensive (2018)

I write about judging a book by it's cover from time to time when I talk about a record that I’ve been sent to review.  Often I’m not exactly perfect in what I thought it would sound like, but I usually have a feeling that I won’t like something.  This Seagulls 7" is the same thing in the opposite direction.  I took one look at this and thought it seemed like the sort of thing No Idea would have put out around 2008.  I'm happy to report that I can stand by that prediction and can also validate that the two songs on this 7" can hang with anything released by No Idea around that time.

The comparison that comes to mind most easily when I listen to the A side "Dear John Letter" is Iron Chic.  There is a similarity in the way the vocals are structured with a perfectly placed anthemic chorus.  The guitars and drums create a dynamic foundation to build up the chorus with creative riffs, fills and breakdowns.

B side "Foot Meet Mouth" is a bit faster and more straightforward.  It certainly succeeds in being a powerful whirlwind of impassioned chaos, but I personally prefer the way "Dear John Letter" plays out.  It's a bit slower and has more interesting things going on.  That said, both songs are a really solid introduction to a band I hadn't heard of previously and it's worth checking out if you like your punk rock nice and loud with vocals that sound like Transformers.

Seagulls - Dear John Letter 7":

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Posies - Frosting On The Beater 2xLP - Pink Vinyl


Omnivore (2018)

When I heard that The Posies were finally going to reissue their three Geffen era albums on vinyl, I was really excited.  While I was looking forward to picking them all up, I was especially eager to finally get my hand on Frosting On The Beater.  In addition to it being my favorite Posies album and by far the album of theirs that I'm most familiar with, it's also the release that frustrated me most from a record collector standpoint.

I would consistently see the original pressing of this album on eBay and Discogs for well over one hundred dollars.  And not only were they put for sale at that price, they actually sold for that much over and over again.  As much as I love the album, I just couldn't talk myself into dropping that kind of cash as I couldn't believe that it wouldn't be reissued eventually.  Luckily my patience paid off and I finally have this tremendous album in my collection.

"Solar Sister" is my favorite Posies song and may be one of the greatest guitar pop songs ever written.  The way the vocal harmonies hold the melody during the verse always drives me crazy and when the guitars crash into the chorus, you know that this song is something special.  While it's the obvious highlight of the album, Frosting On The Beater is wall to wall hits.  "Dream All Day," "Flavor of the Month," "20 Questions" and so many others just dazzle with their catchiness.

Like the Dear 23 reissue, this one is split up on two LPs at 45rpm.  While from an audiophile standpoint I know that's going to give you the best sound quality, I still can't help but complain a little about having to get up and flip the record every three songs or so.  I would personally prefer a single LP, but this pressing sounds so amazing, it's a very small complaint and I certainly wouldn't want to sacrifice any sound quality.  These are such great songs and I'm so happy to finally have them on vinyl.

The Posies - "Solar Sister":

The Posies - "20 Questions":

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - King & Queen LP (From Definitive Studio Albums Box Set)


Atlantic (2017, Reissue)

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.

King & Queen is a unique entry in the Otis Redding catalog as it's a joint effort with the equally great Carla Thomas.  They have an undeniable chemistry together and in a lot of ways they bring out the very best in each other.  It's particularly interesting to watch Otis have someone to play off of.  There are times where they just trade vocals back and forth, but then there are times where they come together in a way that's every bit as dynamic as the best Sam & Dave songs.

Most people are likely familiar with the hit from this album, "Tramp."  For good reason, it's a completely killer song that rank among the best either Carla or Otis ever released.  But this album has so many other wonderful moments, the highlight for me being their take on the Eddie Floyd classic, "Knock On Wood."  That's a song that's so amazing and so engrained in the musical history of this country that many soul artists in the 60s took a stab at it. Otis & Carla's stands out as unique, turning it into a dueling vocal masterpiece.  Neither trying to outdo the other, they work in harmony to take an incredible song and somehow elevate it even higher.

It's become repetitive for me to say, but Otis Redding was such a unique artist who churned out an incredible amount of stone cold classics in a relatively short period of time.  There's a reason these songs have endured as long as they have.  I'm just happy to have a nice box set that compiles a great many of them.

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - "Tramp":

Otis Redding & Carla Thomas - "Knock on Wood":

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Chestnut Road / Navel - Split 7" - Blue Vinyl & Cream Vinyl


Brassneck (2019)

I can't tell you how much joy it brought me to find out that this 7" was in the works.  It pairs two of my favorite bands on one 7" put out by one of the best labels going.  There is really nothing not to love about this release and it just makes me so happy that it exists,

This split marks the first appearance of Chestnut Road in quite some time.  They contribute two melodic punk stunners that would have been right at home on their last full length that I liked so much I put out on PopKid records.  "Black Corridor" is the slower of the two, but it still invokes the sort of 90s UK magic that makes that one of my favorite times in music.  It's similar to some of the slower moments of Broccoli.  The second song, "Prison," is just incredible.  This one is faster and makes me think of the best kind of Hooton 3 Car songs with rapid chord changes and supremely catchy hooks.  I've said dozens of times that Chestnut Road is one of the best bands on the planet right now, these two songs further cement that claim.

On the other side of the 7" we have Navel, an incredible Japanese band that I've been listening to for over twenty years at this point. It kind of amazes me that they somehow seem to get better every time that I hear them.  The two songs on this 7" are two of the their best yet.  "Dying" is just an incredible song, blending complex and melodic guitar parts with Tomi's trademark higher pitched, but ultra catchy vocals.  "End of the Line" is just as amazing, with a slower driving beat, but still maintaining the sort of catchiness that has always made me love this band.  Both songs are slower than the sort of rocket fast songs that made up their classic album Uneasy, but as much as I love that album, I'd have to say that these two are even better.

This is quite simply an amazing 7".  I certainly shouldn't have to convince you to buy it.  If you read my nonsense on this website, odds are you are probably inclined to like this sort of thing.  So I'm not sure what you're waiting for.  Go get it.

Chestnut Road / Navel - Split 7"

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Rad Owl - Madison Beast LP - Red Vinyl


Boss Tuneage / Waterslide (2018)

In what is rapidly becoming a recurring theme, this is another 2018 album that I wasn't able to get until after the new year had passed.  As a result, I'm beginning to feel like my end of the year list is becoming woefully inaccurate as the weeks go by.  I'll once again blame it on moving into my first house and some tightness in the wallet for the second half of the year.  No matter what the reason, the fact is that Rad Owl should have made an appearance on that list as Madison Beast is a pretty great album.

While the artwork on the album cover may lead you to think this is either some sort of foreign metal band or a lost 70s prog rock album, Madison Beast actually pays homage to the 90s sounds of bands like Big Drill Car and other Cruz or C/Z records acts.  There's a distinct 90s feel to the album with the perfect mix of chugging guitar riffs and secondary guitar leads.  These guys have chops for sure, but they use them for good and not for evil, overdrawn guitar wanking.

There are folks in this band that were in Samiam, The Stereo and PopKid alumni Marble (as long as I live, I will never tire of listening to their cover of "Holiday Road").  Rad Owl feels like a conglomeration of those past experiences.  It's good enough to hang with any of those 90s bands, but is still forward thinking enough to keep me thoroughly engaged in 2019.

Rad Owl - Madison Beast:

Monday, February 4, 2019

Slinky X - Darn Cassette


Drug Party / Wiener (2018)

I'm still doing my best to work through the pile of tapes that I have sitting here to review.  Even though I've come across a few gems lately, it's still unnecessarily daunting to have to go through these.  It sort of feels like work, which I think is partially because I never really buy tapes for myself.  They are inevitably something that I was sent for review.  Since I buy so many records, when someone sends me something on vinyl review, I just add it to the pile of fun that I'm already working through.  It's just a totally different vibe.

Anyway, back to Slinky X.  At first I couldn't tell if that was the name of the band or the album, but I'm pretty sure it's the band.  The six songs on this tape are totally fine.  Crunchy guitars, poppy song structures and decent enough vocal harmonies.  But that's really all it is, decent.  Nothing is ever catchy enough to sink in as a real earworm.  Most songs have a guitar solo that goes on forever, but is never flashy enough to make you sit up and take notice.

Everything about these tape is pretty much background music.  If you went to a bar and this was playing on the jukebox (or whatever the 2019 equivalent of how music gets played in bars these days is), I don't think you'd even notice it was there.  It's pleasant enough to not be annoying, but not interesting enough to be, well, interesting.

Slinky X - Darn: