Friday, September 20, 2019

Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse LP - Clear Blueish-Green Vinyl

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Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

Ever since picking up the two song Foxhall Stacks cassingle that was sold at the Jawbox merch table at their most recent tour, I've been chomping at the bit to hear the full length.  It built up some pretty high expectations for me and it could have been difficult for the band to live up to them, because I really loved the two songs on that tape.  I can happily report that the entire album is fantastic and one of the best I have heard all year.

In other excellent news, the two songs from the cassingle are also on this full album, captured on glorious vinyl and not resigned to cassette purgatory.  While I'm not positive I can declare "Turntable Exiles" and "Law Of Averages" are my favorite songs on the record, they are pretty incredible and stand out every time I listen to The Coming Collapse.  What I think may be happening is since I'm more familiar with those two from the tape, when I hear them within the context of the album, they just jump out at me more due to that familiarity.

The entire album is just great, with huge chunky guitars and big, big hooks.  Whether it's the stutter stop guitar riff of "The Old Me" or the Posies-esque pop hooks of "Take Control" or the mid tempo harmonies of "Top Of The Pops,"  Foxhall Stacks hit it out of the park pretty much every single time.  The Coming Collapse is easily one of the best records I have heard all year.  It's one that will absolutely be in the running for the very top spot when I start making my year end list.  This is one worth going out of your way to check out.

Foxhall Stacks - The Coming Collapse:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/the-coming-collapse

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Del The Funky Homosapien - No Need For Alarm 2xLP

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Elektra (1993)

As I start up with Ed Lover Dance Day Wednesdays, I'm going to write about four albums that are not new additions to my collection, but rather cornerstones in my love of early 90s hip hop.  This is the second of the four.

When writing about the first Del album I Wish My Brother George Was Here I mentioned that it was a really important record to me.  While it certainly stands on its own as being great, the real influence is the fact that I liked it enough to buy Del's second album as soon as it came out.  No Need For Alarm was a total turning point for me.  Nothing had ever resonated quite as much before and to this day it remains my favorite hip hop album of all time.

I had some experience with rap that was a little left of center prior to No Need For Alarm.  I was super into Tribe Called Quest and I adored the second Ultramagnetic MCs album Funk Your Head Up, so it's not like everything was strait-laced for me prior to No Need For Alarm.  The early 90s were a time where innovated hip hop was celebrated and accessible.  That window would start to close from the time The Chronic came out until about '94 or '95.  That said, I had never heard anything like the sounds coming out of my speakers when I played this album for the first time.

No Need For Alarm is probably one of the most innovative and uncompromising albums released during the so called Golden Era.  You are not going to find pop hooks or easy listening here.  The samples are jazzy, but can be jarring.  You go from the cello riff on "Catch A Bad One" to the choppy bass of "Wack MCs" to the bouncy low end of "No Need For Alarm" and through the course of these three consecutive songs you have three completely different production dynamics.  But what ties everything together is Del unleashing some of the punishing battle raps committed to tape.  He's got no time for mediocrity in rap and he's not shy to show the world why virtually no one can hold a candle to him.

No Need For Alarm completely changed the way I thought about hip hop and music in general.  It led me to other Hieroglyphics albums (more on those in the next two weeks) and eventually led me to punk rock.  As mainstream hip hop became more homogenized, I still wanted to hear music that made me feel like No Need For Alarm did.  Eventually, I had to go to other genres to find music that impacted me the same way Del The Funky Homosapien did.  This really is one of the ten most important records I've heard in my entire life. It was a game changer for me in 1993 and in 2019 it still sounds as fresh and exciting as ever.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Catch A Bad One":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spcKBTfjW1M

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Wrongplace":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A46nqP1gd-Y

Del The Funky Homosapien - "No Worries" (This is a live version that's pretty great):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9_eC3Vjb8Y


Monday, September 16, 2019

Sad Days Indeed - Foral CD

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SP (2018)

Sad Days Indeed were a band from Finland that were together in mid 2000s.  They put out one full length record in 2006 (that I don't have, but really need to hunt down) and split up a couple of years later.  Before they split they started working on a second full length in 2008.  It never saw the light of day until this CD release on SP records.  I wasn't familiar with the band, to be honest, but this CD was recommended to me, so I picked up a copy.  I sure am glad I did as it's a hell of a record, even though I'm not positive if the name of it is Foral or For Al.

When the first track, "...And Justice For Al," starts up, I thought I had this band pegged.  It sounds like other Scandinavian punk rock that I like.  Manifesto Jukebox or Phoenix Foundation.  Loud chords, gruff-ish vocals and a forward moving energy.  It's a sound I like, so I would have been complete fine with a whole album in this vein.  But from track two onward, the band takes a sharp left turn with their sound and the influence I hear most is what I expect to here from the UK in the Mid 90s.

In particular, there's a really strong Hooton 3 Car vibe coming through on songs like "She's My Pez" and "P.S."  Other times on songs like "Regardless" or "Relief" I can hear a touch of Mega City Four or Senseless Things.  No matter where the comparisons go, I always seem to be comparing Sad Days Indeed to another band that I really like a lot.  Foral is a really great album and now I must find a copy of the first Sad Days Indeed record as soon as possible.

Sad Days Indeed - Foral:
https://sprecords.bandcamp.com/album/foral

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dan Sartain - Walk Among The Cobras (Redux) 7"

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One Little Indian (2015)

Dan Sartain is one of my absolute favorites.  I've really loved just about everything he's released over the years, but I tend to dig the first four or five of his albums the most.  Whether it's a rockabilly sound or a Ramones-y punk offering, I can usually get behind whatever he's doing.  Until he put out that electronic album Century Plaza.  I didn't buy that one because I didn't like it.  Felt weird to miss out on a record, but it didn't make sense for me to buy something I would literally never listen to.

I also ended up with a hole in my Dan Sartain 7" collection as the redone, electronic version of "Walk Among The Cobras" was put out as a 7" with the original on the B side.  Again, it didn't make sense to import a 7" and pay the shipping costs for a record I didn't plan on playing much.  I didn't really think about it a whole lot over the past couple of years until I was digging around on Discogs one day and found someone in the US selling the 7" for one dollar.  For a buck and US shipping, I can justify picking this up to keep the 7" collection complete.

I still don't like the new version of "Walk Among The Cobras."  It's slow, it's dark and there's no emotion in the vocal delivery.  I realize that's the point, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.  Just because this sort of thing works as a soundtrack to Stranger Things doesn't mean it works as a Dan Sartain song.  It's especially jarring when you flip the record over and play the original, bursting with energy and hooks.  This is just a weird record.  I hope Dan got this electro-thing out of his system as I'd really like to see a return to the style of music he pretty much perfected on records like Join Dan Sartain.

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras (Redux)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KIyCC_3fss

Dan Sartain - "Walk Among The Cobras (Original)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByLeoDScJxw

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Del The Funky Homosapien - I Wish My Brother George Was Here 2xLP

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Elektra (1991)

Something I am going to be doing for the foreseeable future is write about old school hip hop records every Wednesday.  Partly because I've spent the last few months stocking up on key records that I only had on CD and partly because I'm just in the mood to have something different to write about.  Wednesdays are the most appropriate day to do this as Wednesday was Ed Lover Dance Day back on Yo MTV Raps in the 90s.  I spent a lot of time watching that show in the early 90s.  It was responsible for exposing me to so many great records.  Today's record is one of those.

So, full disclosure, I didn't just get this record on vinyl recently.  I've had it for many years, but when starting up something new, I thought it was an appropriate album to begin with.  That will be the case over the next three weeks as well.  I'm going to writer about the three most important hip hop records to me before I start getting into recent acquisitions.  But before I get into the big three, I have to write about I Wish My Brother George Was Here as it really starts there.

I was in 8th grade when I saw the video for "Mistadobalina" on Yo MTV Raps.  I had been listening to hip hop for a couple of years at that point, scamming CDs from BMG Music Club and Columbia House in my quest to hear new things.  I was a huge Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions fan, but something about Del struck a different chord with me.  He was a little weird.  He wasn't all that serious and "Mistadobalina" was an incredibly catchy song.  I picked up the album and really liked the whole thing.  "Dr. Bombay," "The Wacky World Of Rapid Transit" and "Sunny Meadows" were some of the highlights and made many a mix tape played in my walkman in the back seat of the car to avoid talking to the rest of my family.

Now while I really do like this record, the reason it's so important to me is because it made me anxious for Del's second album, No Need For Alarm.  That is one of those records that changed the way I thought about music and is my all time favorite hip hop album.  We'll get to it in more detail next week, but who knows if I would have found it had it not been for I Wish My Brother George Was Here.

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Mistadobalina":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFieSQHmQT0

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Dr. Bombay":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AUP4KLCW6s

Del The Funky Homosapien - "Sunny Meadowz":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoXaT00rKa4


Monday, September 9, 2019

Husking Bee - Grip LP

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Pizza of Death (1996)

Husking Bee is a band that I discovered when I used to run the old website for Snuff.  Through that site I made friends with a guy from Japan named Tetsu.  He was the first person I knew in Japan that would help me buy records.  He also made mix tapes for me of Japanese punk rock and he put Husking Bee on one of those early tapes.  I absolutely loved them and had Tetsu help hunt me down everything by them he could find.  I never got any of the albums on vinyl back then, but he did hook me up with the CDs of their first two albums.  It was pretty weird to see the second Husking Bee album, Put On Fresh Paint released in America a bit later.

But back to this album.  Grip is the first Husking Bee full length and it came out on Pizza of Death.  This one was never released in America and while I've had the CD for about twenty years now, the vinyl has eluded me.  I finally caved in when a copy on Discogs dropped to a price I was comfortable paying and I'm just really happy to have this record in the collection.  Those first two Husking Bee records are pretty much perfect.

Grip is a straight forward pop punk record, with dynamic hooks, tons of energy and melodies that have been stuck in my head for decades.  I've feel like on this album in particular, there are a lot of similarities to the old midwestern band Walker, particularly in the guitar riffage.  Husking Bee vocals are gruffer and more melodic, but I feel like they are kindred spirits.  Songs like "8.6," "Share The Joy Of Our Tour" and "Anchor"kick my ass after all of these years, but I'll always keep coming back to the song "Question."  It's different from everything else on the album as it's built on a bouncy piano riff, but it's just so great and one of my favorite songs the band ever did. Unfortunately it's not one I can find on YouTube.  Trust me, it's great.

Husking Bee - "8.6":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTBjnqLv64

Husking Bee - "Anchor":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfbN7mw0qr4


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Don't Call It A Comeback

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Well, I guess you can kind of call it a comeback actually.  Starting up Monday, I'll be putting reviews up on the site again.  I'm going to make a few little changes though.

I have to admit, after doing this site for nearly eight years (on top of the really shitty reviews I wrote on Flickr prior to that) I've started feeling burnt out.  Writing my reviews has felt like work at times and while I love listening to records and telling people about the records that I love, I hated feeling like it was something I was required to do constantly.  There were days where I'd really struggle for something to say or didn't have a record handy that I felt I had listened to enough to really give a solid opinion on.

Again, I was burnt and that's a big reason why I took a few weeks off. And of course to give people time to read about and buy the fantastic Shoplifters full length we put out on PopKid records

(If you haven't already picked up a copy, it would be wonderful if you could: https://popkid.limitedrun.com/products/647470-shoplifters-secret-free-world-vinyl-lp)

Starting this week, I'll be doing my new schedule.  Rather than new reviews Monday through Thursday, I'm going to do three reviews a week and I'll post them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  While it may not seem like much, writing one less review a week for me makes a big difference and it's one less day a week that I'll have to scramble around in the morning to make sure everything is posted while I'm getting ready for work.

Some of the things I've done over the past few years that I've had the most fun doing have been things like the Weird Al Box Set review series where one day a week I tackle a theme for a few weeks.  I'm going to do more stuff like that when I can and on Wednesday, I'll be starting up the first one I have planned.  It'll probably last a while, so I won't have to think up a second project for quite some time.

Anyway, thanks to those that come around this site and say nice things on Twitter.  It's appreciated, but what I like most is being able to share great bands with people that care.  If you discover a band because I've written about them, let me know.  That's the greatest thing for me to hear.  Well, that and the email notification sound I get when someone buys a Shoplifters LP.

Oh yeah, and one last reminder - Make sure you check out the PopKid webstore and dig through the records I'm pruning from the collection.  Most I've reviewed in the past on this site and a lot are pretty great, there just isn't enough time in the day to listen to them all and I want them to have better homes:

https://popkid.limitedrun.com/categories/great-record-pruning-of-2019

See you Monday.