Thursday, June 27, 2019

Foxhall Stacks - A Copy of a Copy of a Copy of a Copy Cassette (/200)


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

This past weekend my wife and I went to go see Jawbox play in Philadelphia.  If you were reading this website about five years ago, you may remember that I started picking up Jawbox records at that time.  They weren't a band that I listened to in the 90s, for whatever reason I just missed out on them.  They may have been a little too complex for my tastes at the time, but luckily my wife was a big fan going way back, so she helped bring me up to speed.  It was a great show, but the reason I bring it up is that I bought this Foxhalls Stacks tape at the show.

Foxhall Stacks is fronted by Bill Barbot of Jawbox and this tape is the first release by his most recent band.  The tape is limited to two hundred copies and there is a blue paper obi strip unique to each stop of the tour.  Mine is from the Philadelphia show.  Snappy Little Numbers will be selling any leftovers on their site, so if you're not able to see Jawbox on this tour, keep your eyes peeled on their site and you might get lucky.  I couldn't take the risk of not picking one up, though I also need to thank my friend Scott for reminding me that these were for sale the day of the show.

The tape itself is outstanding.  So great that I am kind of annoyed that it's a tape and not a 7". The songs have a similar feel to Jawbox in that the guitars are really strong and crunchy with lots of low end. But the songwriting structure is more straightforward with really catchy hooks and stellar backing vocals.  I've said that Jawbox doesn't get enough credit for how deceptively catchy so many of their songs are, but there's nothing deceptive about Foxhall Stacks.  These songs are flat out hits and I cannot wait for the full length that Snappy Little Numbers mentions on their website. 

Foxhall Stacks - A Copy of a Copy of a Copy of a Copy Cassette

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Modern Gooddays - Wait & See 7"


Eager Beaver (2013)

I went about things somewhat backwards.  While this 7" came out many years before the Modern Gooddays CD that I wrote about a few months ago, it's just now that I'm adding it to my collection.  Sitting here now, I'm trying to figure out if I have the Headsparks/Modern Gooddays split CD.  The artwork on Discogs looks so familiar and I like Headsparks too, so I feel like I should have it.  That said, I can't find it on my CD rack or in my pile of records I haven't reviewed yet.  Maybe I don't have it.  I should probably correct that.

Back to the 7" at hand.  This release from Modern Gooddays has four songs on it, one of which "Wait & See," also appears on their CD on Fixing A Hole Records.  All four songs are gruff punk rock that sounds like a mash of Snuff, Dillinger Four and Off With Their Heads.  I've mentioned before that the singer from Modern Gooddays sounds a whole lot like Paddy from D4 and that comparison is apt on this record as well.

I like the songs on this EP just as much as the ones on the Modern Gooddays CD.  It's strong and forceful, but melodic and catchy at the same time.  Especially worth picking up if you're a fan of the Paddy songs from Dillinger Four but you don't feel like waiting another thirteen years for a new D4 record.

Modern Gooddays - Wait & See 7":

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Big Bliss - At Middle Distance LP


Exit Stencil (2018)

When I ordered the new Herzog LP, somehow my order got lost at Exit Stencil headquarters.  After a few weeks of wondering where it was, I reached out to the label.  They apologized and immediately sent my record over.  Great customer service, honestly.  They also sent me an extra album, this LP by Big Bliss.  They aren't a band I've ever heard of before and since I didn't seek this out on my own, I wasn't sure what I was in store for.

Turns out, Big Bliss have a shoegazer sort of post punk vibe going on.  Jangly guitars with a tinge of reverb, mixed in with a steady rhythm section that keeps things in check while the guitars do some exploring in the breaks.  They remind me a little bit of The Estranged, but with much less of a Wipers influence.

If there's one thing that keeps me from really sinking my teeth into this record, it's the vocals.  They're a little to echo-y and spacey for my taste.  I'm looking for something a little more direct and forceful.  Big Bliss' vocals sound detached, almost like they are existing on a different plane from the rest of the band.  Or maybe the vocals are in a different decade like the 80s.  I'm just not able to get into it all that much.

Big Bliss - At Middle Distance LP:

Monday, June 24, 2019

Steve Adamyk Band - Kinda Ill 7" - Splatter (/100), Mixed (/100) & Black (/100) Vinyl


Rad Girlfriend (2019)

At this point I feel like I don't even have to write anything about Steve Adamyk Band records anymore.  If you can't figure out that I love these guys based on the prior dozen or so times I've written about them dating back to before this website even existed and I was taking pictures of their records on my Flickr account, I don't know what to tell you.  To summarize: This is a great band and all of their records are great.  This 7" of four new songs (and a version of "Take It To The Top" that's a bit faster than the one on the Paradise LP) is great and you should buy it.

The record comes on three different colors of vinyl, each limited to one hundred copies.  The black vinyl and splatter are self explanatory, but there is also a third version that's random colored.  Mine came out green.  I'm not sure what else is floating around out there, but it you have one that's another color, let me know as I'm curious.

Also of note is that Rad Girlfriend has a sale going on right this very second where everything in their shop is half price.  This Steve Adamyk band 7" is only $2.50.  I don't see any reason not to buy it, do you?

Steve Adamyk Band - Kinda Ill 7"

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Superchunk - AF LP - Blue Vinyl


Merge (2019)

When Merge announced their Born Under A Good Sign 30th year subscription thingy, I new I had to subscribe to it.  Even though money wasn't as disposable as I would have liked it to be when the subscription went on sale, I knew that if I didn't join and a Superchunk record came out as a part of it, I'd be hugely pissed off.  Luckily I scraped together enough money and I was rewarded with an entire Superchunk LP that's only available as part of the series.

AF stands for Acoustic Foolish and it's a track by track rerecording of Foolish done acoustically.  It's not just the exact same songs played with different guitars.  In many instances the songs reworked from the ground up with new tempos, arrangements and instrumentation. Looking for some strings and horns?  AF has you covered.  Highlights for me are the complete deconstruction of "Water Wings" and the folked up version of my favorite song from the original version of the album "Driveway to Driveway."

I will say, if I was hearing these songs for the first time on this album, I can't imagine I would like them as much as I do being already familiar with their punky origins.  Already having these songs etched in my head helps me appreciate what Superchunk is attempting with this release.  Songs that I love arranged in a way that a listener with a mellower palate might take a crack at.

Superchunk - AF:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Potty Mouth - I Wanna 7"


Get Better (2019)

To start, I have to say that I don't know for sure that this 7" was released on Get Better records.  There's no label affiliation anywhere on the artwork, but if you look on Discogs, they list this 7" as having come with certain versions of the album SNAFU.  That's not how I got mine, I ordered my copy separately from the band after falling in love with the full length.

I don't like these two songs as much as I like the ones that are on SNAFU.  Those ones struck me as being a little catchier and the guitar seemed more clear and pronounced.  Things are a more raw on this 7" and the guitar sounds a bit muddier to me.  "I Wanna" is the song I like best of the two.  It has a pulsing chorus repeating the phrase "I Wanna" in a way that reminds me of the Pixies.  The song never really finds the gigantic hook that Potty Mouth taps into on so many songs from SNAFU, but "I Wanna" is still pretty solid.

I don't like "The Easy Way" quite as much.  It's slower and more deliberate.  While the tone of the song makes sense when you really listen to the lyrics, I tend to prefer the Potty Mouth songs that are a little crunchier and wrap you up in their huge guitar riffs.  It's not a bad song, I just don't like it as much as some of the others. But, if you really want this, I'd recommend grabbing it sooner than later, their Big Cartel page says it's limited to 50 copies.

Potty Mouth - "I Wanna":

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Yoi / Angry Nerd - Split CD


Fixing A Hole (2018)

This CD brings together Yoi from UK and Angry Nerd from Japan.  The split release with Japanese and UK punk bands were such a staple of my record buying habits in the 90s.  I discovered so many great bands that way, particularly via Snuffy Smile and the 7"s they released.  I love to see that it can still be something that happens all these years later.

There are guys in Yoi that were in the band Chopper.  That's almost all I need to see to be anxious to get this thing in the CD player and hit play.  Yoi has a mellower vibe than the buzzaw guitar blast of Chopper, but Yoi can craft a hook as strong as anything in the back catalogs of their various members.  "The Ghost Of Bobby McGee" is my favorite of the bunch with a faster paced progression of guitar chords and a hooky vocal melody.

Angry Nerd contribute four songs that sounds like a mixing of the sort of Japanese pop punk that I love, with a gruffer almost Off With Their Heads style of melodic tendency.  All four songs are strong, with my favorite being "Inside of My Fist," which I find to be the poppiest of the group.  While I wouldn't say that Angry Nerd is in the upper echelon of my favorite bands from Japan, they have songs that deserve a listen.  Unfortunately, I can't find anywhere to stream anything from this split.

Yoi - "The Ghost of Bobby McGee":

Monday, June 17, 2019

Mutant Love / The Yellnats - Split Cassette


Motorcycle Potluck (2019)

I'm not familiar with either of the bands on this tape (aside from an acoustic song from Mutant Love that's on a comp), but I've liked pretty much everything that Motorcycle Potluck has sent my way so far.  While the band names had me concerned that this might be more along the lines of high school neanderthal punk, I'm happy to report that Mototrcycle Potluck's streak is in tact and both bands are worth checking out.

Mutant Love falls on the gruffer side of the pop punk spectrum.  To me, they kind of sound like a mix of some No Idea bands like Dear Landlord or Shallow Cuts, crossed with the hooks and melodic tendencies of a band like Rumspringer.  All three of their songs are fast, energetic and pretty top notch.

The Yellnats don't have that same No Idea vibe in the two songs they contribute to this split, but they've carved out another section of the pop punk world to inhabit.  Both of their songs, but in particular "Small Town," have a vibe to them that I find similar to American Steel.  There's a storyteller feeling that they've got going here and combining that with their guitar racket yields a pair of strong songs.  They do make some interesting choices regarding breakdowns and tempo changes for their outros that I can't say I'm completely on board with, but there's good stuff here.

Mutant Love / The Yellnats - Split:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ron Ron Clou - Listen Up 7”


K.O.G.A. (2018)

“Listen Up” is the second in a pair of Ron Ron Clou 7”s that were released last year and it’s every bit as good, if not better, than the “Emptiness” 7”.

Ron Ron Clou specializes in the sort of jangly Rickenbacker pop music that would fit right into the collection of anyone that has a few Odd Numbers records kicking around.  The A side “Listen Up” is simply wonderful.  It’s fast and catchy and rivals anything that the band put out on their first full length album, which has always been my favorite of theirs.

The B side is “Sending To Your Heart” which is a cover song of a band called Flipper’s Guitars who I’m not familiar with.  This Ron Ron Clou version is excellent.  Lots of vocals harmonies and punchy guitar work.  I searched out the original so I could listen to it for comparison sake and while it is also pretty good, I like this Ron Ron Clou version better.  I might need to look into this Flipper’s Guitar band a little more if their other songs are as fun as this one.

Ron Ron Clou - "Listen Up":

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Medium Rarities LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


Pledge Music (2017)

Over the past few months I've gone through Weird Al's entire catalog of full length albums that were part of his Squeeze Box set.  We've made it to the last LP, which is exclusive to this set, Medium Rarities.  This is a compilation of various unreleased or under-released songs from Al's catalog over the past thirty years or so.  There's some real gems in here for sure.

The songs are arranged in a rough chronological order and unsurprisingly, my favorites tend to be towards the beginning of the record.  There are super early versions of "My Bologna" and "Yoda" that are not as polished as the final versions, but these are slower renditions that are primarily fueled by the accordion.  "Pac Man" is a previously unreleased parody of "Tax Man" and is as strong as anything on Weird Al's debut, my person favorite record of his.

From there we go into some oddities such as an instrumental version of "Dare To Be Stupid" and a version of "Jurassic Park" that's sung in Japanese.  There's a bunch of songs from TV shows that Al contributed to like The Simpsons, 30 Rock and Comedy Bang Bang, though these tend to be pretty short, likely due to the confines of TV. The album closes with an updated version of "Happy Birthday" that's a little bit slower than the original and not as energetic.  It's also seriously lacking accordion.

I really do love this record, but I think I would love it even more if it focused more heavily on Al's early, more formative years.  I'm sure those songs aren't Al's favorites to listen to all of this time later, but they are the ones that I find most intriguing.  After all of this time, the world really needs an officially released version of "It's Still Billy Joel To Me."

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Yoda (Demo)":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Pac Man":

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Midway Still / Filthy Hate - Split 7” (Tour Sleeve) - Blue Vinyl


Break The Connection (2012)

This split 7” is another record I got on my trip to Japan that I hadn’t gotten around to writing about yet.  In case it isn’t obvious yet, I bought a lot of records on that trip. This particular version is a tour version with an additional sleeve, given to me by a very wonderful man who came out to the PopKid/Waterslide show at What’s Up in Tokyo.

Midway Still is a band that I’ve known and loved for many years.  They were part of that initial blast of UK melodic punk rockers that I got into which included Snuff, Broccoli & Leatherface. On this 7” they have an original and a cover of a Filthy Hate song.  “I Don’t Wanna Feel Anymore” Is a wonderful mid tempo rocker that could easily have been culled from Dial Square or any of the other amazing records that Midway Still put out early in their run.  “Various Cultures - Brutal Edit” is a Filthy Hate song and while I can’t say I’m familiar with the original, the Midway Still version is outstanding.  It’s just a joyous pop song, though with lyrics that are a bit darker.  Still it works incredibly well and exceeded my expectations.

Filthy Hate isn’t a band I had heard of before, but the band name made me assume it was a loud, yelly hardcore band.  Guess what, I was right.  Million mile an hour guitar, drums that sound like someone tossed the drum kit down a flight of stairs and people yelling lyrics that are angry and unintelligible.  I’m sure some folks would like this, but it’s certainly  not the sort of thing I typically listen to.  But the 2 Midway Still songs are phenomenal.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Three Minute Movie - Faraway 7”


Fine Tuning (2013)

This the second of three 7”s by Three Minute Movie that I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years.  I hadn't gotten to this one yet as I've developed a real backlog of records to write about.  In some ways it's a good thing as I haven’t really had the ability to buy too many new records this year.  My record buying budget keeps going to Japan.

I’ve been listening to Three Minute Movie for twenty years now and even though I haven’t kept as current with their more recent releases as I would like, I’m doing my best to go back and fill the gaps. This three song 7” is something of a companion record to the End Of Summer 7” I wrote about a few weeks ago.  As much as I loved that 7", this one is even stronger,

Opening track “Faraway” is an upbeat and crunchy guitar blast that hits me perfectly.  In some ways it's a perfect encapsulation of what I’m looking for in punk rock.  Yet somehow when we flip over to the B side and hit “Beat Kids On The Street” Three Minute Movie have upped their game even more. This is an incredible song and my favorite I’ve heard from the band since their first split 7” with Braid.  The 7” closes out with “My Beer Strikes Marshall.”  This one has a bit more of a noisy, garage-y feel to it, but still has a wonderfully hooky chorus.  Three Minute movie have another essential 7”on their hands.  I love it.

Three Minute Movie - "Faraway" (This is a live version, not the 7" version):

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun LP - From Squeeze Box Accordion Box Set


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.

We are nearing the end of the line here as this is Al's last studio full length.  There is still the rarities compilation that came with this box set that I will write about next week, but as far as full lengths goes, Mandatory Fun is the last stop.  This is actually a record I wrote about on this website when it came out in 2014.  It seems unfathomable that this record came out nearly 4 years ago, but the cruel march of time continues.

My thoughts haven't changed too much since that initial review.  I still think "Word Crimes" is a lot of fun, despite only knowing the original from it being played in Sears. The Al originals are the best of the bunch with "My Own Eyes," "First World Problems" and "Jackson Park Express" being the obvious highlights.  I also still don't know most of the songs from the polka medley.  Still, it's one of Weird Al's stronger modern records and I do enjoy it.

I'm not sure if there will ever be another Weird Al full length.  Mandatory Fun was the last on his prior record contract and he did a bunch of interviews saying the album format is hard for him and being able to release one off singles would keep him more timely.  However, he hasn't done much in the way of those one off releases over the past five years, so I guess we'll have to see.

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "My Own Eyes":

"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Jackson Park Express":

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Spit-take - Falling Star LP - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke (2019)

I have Spit-take's last album Frog Rock.  But what sold my on picking up this new album was a description that included Pavement, Superchunk and That Dog.  You line up three favorites of mine like that and I'm probably going to take notice that you've put out a new album.  While I'm not sure I completely agree with those comparisons, Falling Star is a solid indie rock record.

When I first put this on, I was a little concerned as I think the opening track, "Our Room," is probably the weakest on the album.  The vocal melody is a little out there with bizarre inflections as the song plods forward.  Luckily once we hit the second song "How," things pick up for the most part.  Spit-take is a band that excels when they are playing upbeat songs and keep things closer to the Superchunk descriptor in their bio.  Songs like "How," "At Night" and "Five or Six" are the standouts for me.  At times I'm reminded of bands like The Young Leaves particularly when a guitar solo breaks out.

The slower songs don't really work for me and it usually is because of the vocals.  They often feel like they are being forced out with more energy that the song itself has, leaving the song a bit disjointed.  I wouldn't say anything on the record is bad, but there are skippable moments.  Still, when Spit-take is hitting on all cylinders they are able to churn out some enjoyable indie rock.  Worth a listen if that's your bag.

Spit-take - Falling Star:

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades - Parallax 10"


Debauch Mood (2018)

10"s are starting to become a rarified commodity these days, I think.  You see so few of them, though I think that's mostly due to the fact that it essentially costs the same amount of money to press as a full LP.  I'm not a huge fan of EPs in general, but if you are going to release one, the 10" vinyl is my favorite format.  Debauch Mood takes it up an additional step and included a CD of all of the songs as well.  The best of both worlds.

Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades are from Japan and play a dynamic power pop that leans on the punk side of the spectrum.  I think they have qualities similar to bands like Not Wonk or Hateman, but there's also a strain of that old school Snuffy Smile pop punk weaving its way through the songs.  Blew is the band that I see the most similarity to, but it's not overt.  Just a little bit punky to keep things energetic and exciting.

Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades are a band that I am just getting into, but they have a lot of records that have been released over the past few years.  Theres several singles and two full length albums that I don't have yet.  I'm going to need to rectify that.

The Sleeping Aides & Razor Blades - "One More Minute":