Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Straight Outta Lynnwood LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

Straight Outta Lynnwood has the song "White And Nerdy" on it.  I know this was a big deal for Weird Al and I feel like when this record came out is when I started to hear the rest of the world start referring to Al with the sort of reverence that I'd held him in since I was a kid.  I guess after cranking out hits in three decades he finally started getting the credit he deserved.  It may have also just been because of the internet and 'nerd' culture being much more prominent that it had been in the past.  Who knows, I'm just glad people finally started viewing Al as the national treasure he is.

With that stated, I don't really like "White And Nerdy."  I don't know the original and while the lyrics are extremely clever and the rapid-fire delivery is quite impressive, the song itself is not my thing at all.  The Beach Boys inspired "Pancreas" is probably my favorite song on here as Al flawlessly recreates a Pet Sounds vibe while singing about pancreatic juices.  That, my friends, is true talent.

The rest of the album has ups and downs until it hits on the other real highlight, "Trapped In The Drive Thru."  I know that this is a parody of "Trapped in the Closet" by R. Kelly (though I did just have to use Google to see who sung that song) and I actually even heard the original as my wife showed me a long video for it once.  The Weird Al version is just perfect. It's nearly eleven minutes long and is insane in the way it documents every single tedious detail of going to get some dinner.  Hard to do it justice in a couple of sentences, you should have a listen.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pancreas":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqDBB0no6dQ

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Trapped in the Drive Thru":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHnTocdD7sk

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Emptiness 7"

Untitled

K.O.G.A. (2018)

When I went to Japan a couple of years ago (I know, I know, I start way too many reviews like this, but I still have records that I haven't written about from that trip and newer things I buy also have tie ins) the records I had at the top of my shopping list were the three Ron Ron Clou LPs.  I only found one while I was there, but I did track down the other two on Discogs.  I still have some 7"s that I need to hunt down from them, but I certainly didn't expect new records to be added to the want list.  Then, out of nowhere, I was told that Ron Ron Clou put out two new 7"s.  In 2018.  I love that the 90s keep coming back.

The first of these 7"s is Emptiness.  The A side is the the title track and it is a perfect slice of vintage Ron Ron Clou.  The jangly Rickenbackers fuel the Odd Numbers-esque mod pop sound that just drives me wild.  It's an incredibly catchy and well written song, as strong as anything the band has ever released.  On the B side is a Primal Scream cover called "Ivy Ivy Ivy."  I am not familiar with the original, but the Ron Ron Clou version has a more garage-y feel to it than the A side.  It's a fun listen, but I guess I just think that Ron Ron Clou writes better songs than Primal Scream does.

I did also get the second new 7" Ron Ron Clou released alongside of this one.  I'll write about that in the upcoming weeks.  I'm not exactly sure what sparked these guys to record some new songs and release some new records, but I really hope they stick with it.  There's few things that would make me as happy as a new Ron Ron Clou full length in 2019 (or 2020, no pressure).

Monday, May 20, 2019

Herzog - Me vs. You LP

Untitled

Exit Stencil (2019)

It's been quite a few years since the release of Herzog's last album in 2014.  I wasn't sure that they were coming back, to be honest, but luckily Me. vs. You is finally here.  Once again these guys have cobbled together a really strong album full of guitar pop songs.  It's a little less Blue album and a little more Mikal Cronin this time out, but it's still a strong listen.

Right off the bat things start up on a high note with opener "Music Was The Language From When I Mattered."  It's a fast and fuzzy blast of hooks and harmonies, giving me everything I want out of a Herzog song.  When the next song hits, that's when you'll notice things are a bit more varied this time out.  "Winter 2014" is much slower than I would have figured and has a real Beck/Sea Change vibe to it.  It's a good song, but somewhat unexpected.

From there, the album jumps around a bit between the more upbeat and catchy songs and the slower more melodic ones.  I definitely prefer the faster ones and think they're the highlights of the record.  Not that the slower ones don't hold up, but I think if you swapped out one or two for some punchier songs, I'd probably dig the record even more.

Herzog - Me vs. You:
https://herzog-cleveland.bandcamp.com/album/me-vs-you

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last CD

Untitled

Bill Clinton (2019)

Unlikely Friends put out yet another CD.  Still waiting for some vinyl from these guys, but at least they aren't putting out cassettes.  This one is a limited edition album that contains twelve cover songs of other Pacific Northwest bands.  It's a pretty fun idea and they manage to tackle some bands that I really love.  That some of them are pretty under the radar or perhaps forgotten by the sands of time is just a bonus.

I'll start out by saying that I can't believe there's a Flop cover on here.  Flop was such an incredible band, but they are also one that I fear is being lost as time goes by.  Unlikely Friends cover "Hello" and while I personally would have picked "Anne" they do a tremendous job with this incredible track from & the Fall of the Mopsqueezer.  Whereas on the Flow version the song starts off acoustic, Unlikely Friends gives it the barbershop quartet treatment before the guitars roar in.  I love it.

Over the course of the album, Unlikely Friends pay tribute to some incredible bands and songs including "Is This Real" (by the Wipers), "Your Asterisk" (by Halo Benders), "In The Summer" (by Fastbacks) and "Ontario" (by The Posies).  I could really list every song on this CD.  There's not a dud in the bunch and it showcases Unlikely Friends talent of adapting themselves to the sounds of some very different bands.  It looks like the CD is sold out, but you can still download the digital version for Name Your Price on Bandcamp.

Unlikely Friends - We Blast Last:
https://unlikelyfriends.bandcamp.com/album/we-blast-last-a-love-letter-to-the-fabulous-bands-of-the-pacific-northwest

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Poodle Hat LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

Poodle Hat came out after I was out of college and was working in music doing radio promotion.  It had been a really long time since there had been a Weird Al record and it just sort of snuck up on me one day.  It was also some time after this record came out that I finally saw Al's live show.  A friend of mine got me tickets and we went out to somewhere in Long Island or Staten Island or some Island to see him play.  It was a blast.

This record specifically is a mid range Weird Al record for me, there are some incredible songs (all originals) like "Why Does This Always Happen To Me," "Genius in France" and "Bob."  There's also one of Al's absolute masterpieces in "Hardware Store."  This one goes a million miles an hour and is crammed full of insane hardware lyrics and truly ludicrous shopping list style breakdown that I just can't do justice to.

I don't really know the parodies that well to be honest, other than I really hate the Billy Joel song "Piano Man," so I don't think I've made it all the way through "Ode To A Superhero" when I had listed to this on CD.  There's an Eminem one "Couch Potato" which I've at least heard the original one of.  There's also a Nelly one and a Avril Lavigne one, but I had to look those up on Wikipedia to figure that out.  It's a mixed bag of an album, as the years go by I know less and less about the parodies, but the Al originals are always a treat and Poodle Hat is no exception.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Hardware Store":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw7lqXHMLYA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Why Does This Always Happen To Me":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QqD1_g2E4I

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Giggly Boys - Another Close Call 7" - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

It's been a little bit since Snappy Little Numbers put out a 7" and I was happy to see their distinctive record sleeve when I opened up this Giggly Boys record.  They're not a band I had heard of prior to getting this record in the mail, but like most of the Snappy Little Numbers bands, they are a-ok in my book.

Side A starts off with "Another Close Call," drenched in reverb and sporting vocals that sound a lot like Frank Black to me.  There's enough lead guitar to give the song depth and texture, but not so much as to be over bearing or self indulgent.  It really sounds quite a bit like a song that would have been an outtake from Teenager Of The Year and that's not a bad thing at all.

The B side is a little more straightforward and poppy.  "Dead Again" is shorter and more concise than the A side and I probably like it a little bit more since it appeals to the pop kid in me.  It has a real 90s flair and does still have a Pixies/Frank Black vibe to it, but isn't quite as obvious as "Another Close Call."

Giggly Boys - Another Close Call 7":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/another-close-call-b-w-dead-again

Monday, May 13, 2019

Odd Numbers - About Time LP

Untitled

Beer City (2018, Reissue)

I first heard of Odd Numbers from their singles compilation album Jazz Cigarettes.  It came out on Munster records and I was lucky that my record store of choice in the 90s always stocked a good amount of Munster vinyl.  That's how I was able to get my hands on Sicko and Bum vinyl back in the pre-internet days.  I picked up Odd Numbers at the recommendation of my buddy Alan and was pretty blown away by their mod pop sounds.  While Jazz Cigarettes will always be my favorite, I've tried to keep up with their other albums over the year, several of which have been denied a vinyl release.

That changes with this Beer City reissue of the first Odd Numbers record About Time.  It was originally released on Cassette and then on CD.  This is the first time it's been on vinyl and it sounds great.  The throwback vibe of the Odd Numbers always seemed best suited to listing to on a turntable.  Their bouncy hooks and Rickenbacker twang blending together to create some pretty perfect pop songs.

Several of these songs are also on Jazz Cigarettes and I have to say they tend to be my favorites, but I think that's mostly due to my familiarity with them as I had Jazz Cigarettes for a few years before I had tracked down the original CD version of It's About Time.  "Little Kings and Queens," "Holiday" and "If I Only Had You" sound as great as they did the very first time I heard them.  Their version of "Sweet Soul Music" that closes the record is also a highlight.  For a while there was a rumor that this cover was unlicensed in some way and resulted in the CD going out of print.  I don't actually know if that's true and can't find any proof that was the case, but I'm happy the song is on the vinyl.

Odd Numbers - "Holiday":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKeuX2QYhfo

Odd Numbers - "If I Only Had You":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKasKlXhjgo

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hot Snakes - Treat Yourself 7" - Red Vinyl (338/1000)

Untitled

PU (2018)

This 7" was a tour only release from the Hot Snakes jaunt across Europe at the end of 2018.  It entered my possession due to the never ending kindness of Fredrik from Chester Copperpot and Gamla Pengar.  When I realized that the Snakes were hitting Sweden on this tour, I reached out to Fredrik and wouldn't you know it, he's as wonderful as ever.  A truly great man and I thank him immensely.

I did see Hot Snakes this weekend and they were actually selling the leftovers at the merch booth, so this isn't an impossible find just yet.  But I have to say I love the copy the Fredrik sent me way more than I would have just picking it up in Jersey City.  There's something special when punks from around the world work together to help each other out.  Just makes me warm and tingly just thinking about it.

The two songs on this 7" are as incredible as anything else in the Hot Snakes catalog.  If you love the full lengths you'll love this 7".  A side "Treat Yourself" is a mid tempo rocker in the vein of songs like "Light Up The Stars" or "Bye Nancy Boy."  It's my favorite of the two and arguably my favorite kind of Hot Snakes songs.  I don't think they get enough credit for how poppy some of their songs are.  This one is killer.

On the B side is Ungallant, Coarse and Rude; the latest entry in the _______, _______ and _______ series from John Reis bands.  This one is a burner, somewhat similar in execution to "Why Don't It Sink In" from Jericho Sirens or the opening five songs on Audit in Progress, but with a more melodic chorus/breakdown thing worked in.  Unsurprisingly it's great.  I love this band so much.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Running With Scissors LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

When I was in college I worked at a butcher shop/deli.  We did some catering too and occasionally I would make the catering deliveries.  People suck at tipping, just an FYI.  If I carry 10 chafing dishes into your living room and light all of those little sterno heating things, at least hit me with a five spot, you know?  I'm in college and could have used that to buy a 7".  Anyway, I bring this up because I had to make a delivery the day this record came out, so I stopped at the mall and picked this up.  While I was on the clock.  Bonus.  More than anything I remember how bizarre it was to see Al on the cover without classes.  He got his eyes fixed with lasers.  Dudes with glasses everywhere mourned.

As for the record itself, it's not one of my favorites.  The parodies are mostly of songs I either don't know or that are really bad.  His Offspring send up "Pretty Fly For A Rabbi" is painful to listen to.  I know that people love "The Saga Begins," but I hate the song "American Pie" so it's not one I can listen to often.  I don't really know most of the others.  The originals are better, but most aren't that great either. 

What really saves this record are two songs.  "Your Horoscope For Today" is a ska song, so it's upbeat and catchy, but lyrically it's a ton of fun with Al breaking down ridiculous horoscopes for each of the astrological signs.  The other song that saves this album is "Alburquerque."  It's completely and utterly insane with eleven and a half minutes of the craziest story telling Al has ever recorded.  It's a song that is difficult to describe and really needs to be heard to be believed.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Your Horoscope For Today":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjlD6yYq5as

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Alburquerque":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fn58OF_lA-Q

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Record Store Day Haul #2: Otis Redding - Do It One More Time LP - Red Vinyl

Untitled

Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation (2019)

The second and final Record Store Day album I picked up this year (online, not in store due to illness) was this Otis Redding LP.  As I'm sure many know, I absolutely love Otis Redding and reviewing the various albums in his box set this past year was a ton of fun.  There are still a few posthumous albums that weren't part of that box set that I need to add to my collection, but Record Store Day gave me the chance to add his iconic set from the Monterey Pop Festival.

This is the first time the entire Stax set has been released including the three song opening set by the Booker T & The M.G.s with The Mar-Keys.  Those three songs are "Booker-Loo," "Philly Dog" and "Hip Hug Her."  Booker T is another one of my favorites, having become familiar with them via the Blues Brothers as I did with so many other classic soul bands.  "Philly Dog" is the highlight of the set with the Mar-Keys horns just sounding so great.

With all of these years of hindsight, it seems kind of weird that Otis Redding only played five songs at the Monterey Pop Festival.  Considering how important it is looked upon by history as his breakout moment, I'm not sure I knew it was essentially only a half set.  That said, it's a ridiculous great set with definitive versions of songs like "Shake," "Satisfaction" and "Respect."  I'm thrilled to have it in the collection.

Booker T and the M.G.s - "Hip Hug Her":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRbXx7iKOTI

Otis Redding - "Shake" (There's also another live song, but not from Monterey, tacked on to this youtube video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIoQDG-iRn4

Otis Redding - "Satisfaction":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrPxlWEsFSE

Monday, May 6, 2019

Record Store Day Haul #1: Weezer - Dusty Gems & Raw Nuggets - Blue Vinyl

Untitled

Geffen (2019)

As the years have gone by, Record Store Day gets sillier and sillier with fewer and fewer releases I have any interest in.  This year was a little better than most, but there was nothing I had any intention of lining up in the middle of the night for.  On top of that, I got really sick that weekend so for the first time since the very first Record Store Day, I didn't get to go out to Vintage Vinyl at all.  Luckily, I was able to snag the two records I wanted the most online the day after.  I even could have grabbed the Frank Black and Green Day records as well, but once I had them in my cart, I decided I just didn't want to spend that much money.  I stuck with the two I wanted the most, the first of which is Weezer.

This LP collects all of the B sides, live  and compilation tracks of the Blue Album era along with a handful of unreleased songs.  The B sides are outstanding, with "Susanne," "Mykel and Carli"and "Jamie" being as good as any songs the band ever released.  "Jamie" in particular is a pretty important track to me personally as it was the first Weezer song I ever heard.  It was part of the DGC Rarities Vol. 1 compilation that I had bought for an unreleased Beck song.  Discovered a few great bands from that comp.

The live acoustic songs are a lot of fun, though the non-acoustic live ones aren't as interesting.  When it comes to the unreleased songs, it's a mixed bag. "Only in Dreams" and "Lullaby for Wayne" are decent enough with the hooks where they need to be.  Maybe not quite as realized as other tracks from the era, but totally solid.  "Paperface" and "I Swear It's True," on the other hand, aren't very good at all and it's pretty understandable why they never came out in 1994.  They just can't hold a candle to any of the songs that were released.

Weezer - "Jamie":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZwij4_3gGk

Weezer - "Suzanne":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GszQl-DLB2o

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Sista Brytet - Dead Before You Know It 7" (Transparent Cover)

Untitled

No Front Teeth / Luftslott ‎(2019)

I discovered Sweden's Sista Brytet via a review of their most recent full length album that was in Razorcake.  I read the review, checked out a couple songs online and bought that full length and this 7" from their Bandcamp page.  I will get to their LP in the next few weeks, but wanted to start out with this 7" as it's their newest release having only come out a few weeks ago.

The four songs on this 7" are all in English, which is different from the LP which is virtually all in Swedish.  While either language is fine by me, this 7" might make a better entry point for some, particularly as all four songs are outstanding.  The band is able to go from a Marked Men like approach to breakneck pop on "Dead Before You Know It" to a slower more melodic Gentleman Jesse style rocker like "The Revolution Is On The Next Stop" to an upbeat, piano heavy 50's type blast like "Billy Bragg."

The thing that all of the songs on this 7" have in common is that they are ridiculously catchy and teeming with energy.  Being able to find a record like this is one of the main reasons that I will always have a subscription to Razorcake.  I still love being able to stumble across a new band that just knocks my socks off.  It's also one of the main reasons I've been doing this stupid website for over seven years now.  From time to time, I hope I'm able to help someone else discover a new band they may not have heard of otherwise.

Sista Brytet - Dead Before You Know It 7":
https://sistabrytet.bandcamp.com/album/dead-before-you-know-it

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bad Hair Day LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set

Untitled

Pledge Music (2017)

Over the next several weeks, we're going to celebrate Weird Al Wednesday as I go through each of the 15 albums in the Squeeze Box accordion box set. There are many albums in this set that were hugely influential to me as a young kid and there are no shortage of incredible songs throughout. Weird Al and The Blues Brothers are definitely the building blocks for my earliest appreciation of music.

As I mentioned last week, Alapalooza didn't really do much for me and I didn't hear from Al again until 1996, when I was in college.  Bad Hair Day reminded me how much I loved Weird Al and put his discography back on track for me.  It probably helped that in 1996 you couldn't escape Coolio no matter how hard you tried, so I did actually have a reference point for "Amish Paradise."  Lyrically it's a pretty stellar song.  I also enjoyed his take on The Presidents of the United States of America with "Gump" his Forrest Gump tinged version of "Lump."

I don't really know any of the other parodies, but the originals on Bad Hair Day are excellent.  "Everything You Know Is Wrong" is a super upbeat They Might Be Giants style number.  There's also the a cappella doo wop "Since You've Been Gone" and an Elvis Costello fueled "I'm So Sick Of You."

That said, my absolute favorite song on this album is "The Alternative Polka."  In my opinion this is the best of Weird Al's polka medleys, I think in part because of the contrast of the silliness of the polka tempo and the seriousness of the lyrics of a lot of the songs included.  Included in the polka are Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Green Day and many more.  I'm also convinced that the Alanis Morissette song "You Outta Know" is a tremendously written pop song due to Al's reworking of it.  This song alone would make Bad Hair Day my favorite Weird AL record of the 90s, but luckily there's lots of other goodies that make the whole album pretty darn enjoyable.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "The Alternative Polka":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVWjThlEzts

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Everything You Know Is Wrong":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EStEiPVcyPA

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Amish Paradise":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOfZLb33uCg