Monday, August 31, 2020

Broken Record - I Died Laughing Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

Let's get it out of the way.  Cassette.  Boo.  And the reason I have to say that specifically with this release is because I really like and wish it was released on vinyl instead of being committed to tape purgatory in my record collection.  Let's be honest, of course I have some tapes in my collection.  It's the only format certain records are available in.  But I hardly ever listen to the actual cassettes.  I'll pop the MP3s on to my iPod and listen that way while working, but I rarely get the same sort of sit-down-and-listen time that I put into vinyl records.  That's my fault more than anything, but again, sure wish this one was on vinyl.

The reason for that is that this tape is a wonderful slice of fuzzy guitar pop.  It has a 90s throwback vibe that makes me think they would have been an excellent companion for one of those early Jimmy Eat World split 7"s.  I'm specifically thinking in the Jejune, Christie Front Drive category.  Broken Record has the pop hooks, but they also bring a health dollop of melodic melancholy to the table.

Combine this wonderful 90s vibe with some killer vocal harmonies and you've got the makings of an album really worth going out of your way to check out.  Who knows, maybe if they blow through all of those tapes and the unrelenting demand is there, a vinyl release could someday happen.  This is one of those records that definitely deserves it.  Good stuff.

Broken Records - I Died Laughing:

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Mr. T Experience - Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion LP - Red Vinyl


Disorder (1986)

At this point in my record collecting career, there aren't too many grail items left on my want list.  Yes, I am still searching high and low for that first Love As Laughter cassette and I have started to become resigned to the fact that I will never find that one, but I have tracked down the vast majority of records that once seemed elusive.  This red vinyl version of the first Mr. T Experience album is one of those records that was practically a myth for a long time.

When I first started listening to MTX, their current record was ...And The Women Who Love Them.  I then began the process of picking up as many of their records as I could find.  Their first three records were out of print at that point and I actually bought Night Shift and Big Black Bugs on cassette at first as that is all I could find.  One day I was speaking to my buddy Alan about these records and record collecting in general and he spun a story of a friend of his that got into record collecting a few years prior.

The story went that he sat in his room and just started writing letters to people listed in zines and acquired a ton of very difficult to find records.  Sometimes I think we all forget how much easier things are these days with eBay and Discogs.  Getting records on your want list in the 90s required actually going to places.  I had to go to England to get the Leatherface and Mega City Four records I was looking for.  Anyway, back to the letter writer.  The big reveal in Alan's story was that as part of this deluge of communication, said writer found a copy of Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion on vinyl.  But not only that, he found a copy on RED VINYL.

That was the first time I had ever heard of this variant and it was years until I actual saw reference to it existing on the internet.  I have seen this version for sale a few times over the years.  Typically when I have seen it for sale on discogs it was in the $150-$200 range, though a quick perusal of their past sales indicate it has gone for lower.  Over $100 was a bit more than I felt comfortable paying.  I already have the black vinyl pressing and that much money seemed a bit extravagant just for a different color.  But I've kept my eye out over the years and it finally paid off as this copy showed up, also on Discogs, for $50.  A more than reasonable amount and I'm thrilled to finally have a copy of my own.

Now the record itself, is it my favorite Mr. T Experience record? No it's not.  This is their first record from 1986 and the band improved with leaps and bounds in the following years.  But there's a handful of fun songs and there's the youthful exuberance of a band finding their way that is charming in its own way.  For me, the most notable thing about this record is that it was the first.  The foundation that helped build a band that would become one of my all time favorites.  When I remember that, I also remember that more than a record, it's a piece of history and one I'm happy to have.

It probably makes no sense, but it makes my life feel just a little more complete to have this record on red vinyl.  Even if it will mostly end up sitting on my shelf next to the black vinyl copy that I hardly ever play, there's something very comforting about it being there.

The Mr. T Experience - Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion (YouTube Music full album playlist):

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Boogie Down Productions - Sex And Violence LP


Get On Down (2015, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Sex And Violence was the final Boogie Down Productions full length album.  It came out in 1992 and I vividly remember when it was released.  The video for "Duck Sown" had started playing on Yo MTV Raps and I just adored that song.  Even today it would rank quite high if I was making a list of my favorite BDP songs.  I acquired my copy of the CD through one of those BMG Music Club 8 CDs for a penny gimmicks.  My CD copy still has that little BMG barcode type thing on it.

I have read over the years that there are some who do not think this particular BDP album rates as highly as some of their prior releases.  And while I will be the first to admit that there's nothing at the level of say "My Philosophy," it's a bit unfair to try to compare this album to one of the all time great songs in the history of hip hop.

I think Sex And Violence is solid from start to finish.  The songs, while maybe a bit rougher than those on Edutainment, have the same sort of high IQ lyrics that really tell stories and make some salient points.  The beats are much harder hitting and part of me thinks that's why the record took some by surprise when it came out.  I actually like the production on this a lot and think the beats use clever samples and memorable hooks.  "Duck Down" is still the highlight for me, but "The Original Way," "Like A Throttle," "Drug Dealer" and "How Not To Get Jerked" are bubbling right underneath and can hold their own with anything in the Boogie Down Productions catalog.

With this LP, I have all of the BDP full length albums on vinyl.  I don't have the Live Hardcore Worldwide live album, but I'm honestly not sure I need to get that one.  I haven't listed to my CD version of that since I finally tracked down a copy Criminal Minded and had better versions of that album's songs.  I also never enjoyed the KRS-One solo albums anywhere near as much as Boogie Down Productions.  I bought Return of the Boom Bap right when it came out, but it never hooked me and that was the last KRS-One album that I bought.  If I've missed anything important, let me know, but I'm pretty confident that by having all of the BDP albums, I have the best songs covered.

Boogie Down Productions - Sex And Violence (YouTube music full album playlist):

Monday, August 24, 2020

See-Saw - Get A Chance! 7"


Secret Mission (2019)

I'm having some sort of bizarre deja vu with this record.  I thought I wrote about it already, but I keep looking around and I can't find what I wrote.  I vividly remember this cover artwork, but I don't think I've done anything with it yet.  I even thought that maybe the band had another 7" I'd already reviewed, but I can't find that either.  What I'm getting at here is if I have somehow written about this record before and you find it before I do, you are much better at searching that I am.

Anyway, on to the record.  See-Saw are from Japan and play fast and catchy garage-y pop-punk.  If that sounds like a good mix of descriptors to you, I don't imagine you would be disappointed popping this record on your turntable.  The two A side songs are blazing fast with a slightly distorted guitar tone that still lets some of that nice power pop jangle shine through.

The B side song, "Don't Cry Anymore," slow things down a little bit but still has that same inherent hook-iness that the two faster songs have.  Now, is this a band that ranks as highly as some of my favorite Japanese bands?  No, they are more on the garage end of the spectrum whereas I prefer bands keep things more rooted in pop punk sounds.  That said, I do think this is a pretty good little 7".  I like all three songs and would be interested in hearing some more from See-Saw.

See-Saw - "Get A Chance!":

Friday, August 21, 2020

that dog. - Retreat From The Sun LP


Third Man (2020, Reissue)

Last week I wrote about that dog.'s (seriously, how do you type the possessive of a band name that's written like this...) 1995 album Totally Crushed Out.  I mentioned how I bought it quite soon after its release and how I was a huge fan of it for twenty five years.  Today, I'm writing about Retreat From The Sun, the next album in the that dog. catalog and the one I blew it on.

When Retreat From The Sun came out in 1997, I didn't like it.  At all.  I'm pretty sure I bought it (though it's also distinctly possible I got it as a promo from my college newspaper) and listened to it a few times, filed it in my CD collection and at some point sold it during a purge.  When that dog. played Riot Fest a few years ago and announced they were playing this album in its entirety, I thought that was such a waste.  I was a total dipshit.

When Third Man announced they were rereleasing these two that dog. records, I texted my buddy Scott as I was really psyched about Totally Crushed Out.  I wasn't even planning on buying Retreat From The Sun, but the way he talked about it made me think I needed to give it a second chance.  I held off on buying Totally Crushed Out and decided to listen to Retreat From The Sun a few times to see if I missed something the first time around.

Well, I sure did.  I'm positive I'll always think Totally Crushed Out is better, especially having twenty five years of history with it, but Retreat From The Sun is really every bit as strong.  I have no earthly idea why I didn't like this in 1997.  I can only assume I was too wrapped up in whatever punk rock hits were being released at that time and this probably sounded too polished for my oh-so-cool ears.  Well, I can say conclusively that I was so wrong about this album and I wish that I could have been listening to it in the years since it came out.

All of the songs are great, but to me the best of the bunch is "Minneapolis."  It is as good as the very best that dog. songs from any album of theirs.  I'm grateful that Third Man decided to rerelease these records.  Totally Crushed Out is a one I've always wanted on vinyl, but had these reissues not come out I still probably would be missing out on the greatness that is Retreat From The Sun.

that dog. - Retreat From The Sun (YouTube Music album playlist):

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Large Professor - The LP 2xLP - Silver Vinyl


Paul Sea (2019)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Large Professor's debut release was not something I was able to listen to during the golden era of hip hop.  Even if I had wanted to, it was shelved by Geffen before its expected release in 1995 or 1996.  That said, even if it had been released in 1995, there's a better than average chance I would never had heard it as I was well removed from what was going on in hip hop by then.  Luckily for the world, this lost classic was finally released back in 2009 and luckily for me, it was rereleased again in 2019 on silver vinyl for its 10 year anniversary.

If I had heard this record in 1992 or 1993, there's no question in my mind that I would have been a huge fan.  The beats are classic golden era style with rumbling bass and upbeat tempos.  The lyrics are dynamic with innovative rhyme structures.  If anything, I can almost understand why the record might have been shelved as by 1995 this style of hip hop, the one that I always connected with the most, was quickly becoming a thing of the past.  The commercial direction or rap music didn't really have many records that sounded like this anymore.

I really dig it.  Of course it's recommended for Main Source fans as that's the group Large Professor was in and is likely best known for.  But if you haven't been paying as much attention to hip hop since the glory days, it's probable this reissue may have passed under your radar as it did mine in 2009.  It's the perfect kind of throwback.  Something new to listen to that sounds like the older records that I love so much.

The Large Professor - The LP (YouTube music playlist):

Monday, August 17, 2020

King Kong vs. Godzilla - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack LP


Doxy Cinematic (2018)

This is pretty much the last of the Godzilla soundtracks that is readily available on vinyl, at least that I'm aware of.  During the online San Diego Comic Con it was heavily implied that Mondo will be releasing a bunch of the Godzilla and other Toho soundtracks in time, though what movies may receive this treatment wasn't really clarified.  All I know is that if nothing else, I really hope that some day I will be able to own the soundtracks for all of the Showa Godzilla movies.  They are true slices of my childhood.

And during that childhood, few movies were as big a deal to me as King Kong vs. Godzilla.  While Terror of Mechagodzilla was always my personal favorite, even as a kid I knew that Godzilla's battle with King Kong was much more well known and more important to the masses.  Grownups with zero interest in Godzilla movies knew there was one where he fought King Kong.  The soundtrack is every bit as fun as the movie is.

This is one of my favorite Akira Ifukube scores.  There is plenty of brass heavy Godzilla city pounding music, but what I like the most about this soundtrack are the island themes.  While looking back at some of the island scenes these days, you can't help but cringe a little bit.  That said, Ifukube's score for these scenes, particularly "The Sleeping Devil," steal the show and elevate everything in camera.

I now have vinyl soundtracks for Godzilla 1954, King Kong vs. Godzilla and two compilations of music from the Showa and Heisei era films.  There are a lot of gaps still left.  I'm hopeful that Mondo will be able to fill those up in the coming years, but from what I saw on their YouTube panel, I'd be very surprised if we got a chronological walk through of every soundtrack.  I'll take whatever I can get, but I'm hopeful we get it all.

Friday, August 14, 2020

that dog. - Totally Crushed Out LP


Third Man (2020, Reissue)

In 1994 and 1995 I was beyond obsessed with Beck.  I was losing my mind trying to hunt down every record, single, compilation appearance or guest appearance I could get my hands on.  This was a crucial time where the record collecting bug really dug its claws into me.  This was also a time where I was exploring and learning a great deal about other indie rock bands, particularly those from the Pacific Northwest and those that had some ties, no matter how loose, to Beck.  A band whose ties weren't loose at all was that dog.

that dog. (it always looks weird writing the stylized version of their name in a sentence) appeared on several Beck songs during this era.  These songs also happened to be some of my very favorites such as "Totally Konfused" and "Steve Threw Up."  When Totally Crushed out came out in 1995, I won't go so far as to say I bought it immediately, but I definitely picked up pretty soon after it was released.

This is an album that I've loved for quite some time.  I love the way the crunchy guitar plays with Petra Haden's violin. I love the way the vocal harmonies built off of each other to crescendo in the choruses.  I love the sugary pop melodies and the simple stories built upon the emotions and ache that comes with being young and having an unreturned crush.  There's so much about this record that is perfect, and all of it holds up amazingly well twenty five years later.

On top of the great songs and nostalgic emotions that they stir, Third Man has done an incredible job with the reissue.  As far as the artwork and packaging go, the standard version that you can buy isn't anything particularly special.  But when you put this on the turntable, hot damn the speakers just come alive.  They've done an incredible job with this one and I can definitely say that Totally Crushed Out has never sounded better than it does on this reissue.

that dog. - Totally Crushed Out (YouTube Music playlist):

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Erick Sermon - No Pressure LP


Def Jam (1993)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

I've said on more than a few occasions that Business Never Personal by EPMD is one of my absolute favorite hip hop records.  I really think it was the peak of EPMD and the fact that they acrimoniously split up after that album is a real bummer and one of the bigger 'what ifs' that I can think of.  I can only imagine what they would have come up with for their next album.  Though, I guess we can see pieces of that with the respective Erick Sermon and Parish Smith solo records.

No Pressure was Erick Sermon's foray into single life in 1993. I'm not sure how exactly, but I completely missed this album in 1993.  I never heard a second of it and it wasn't until much later that I listened to it for the first time.  I've tried out some other Erick Sermon solo records, but this is the only one that ever stuck with me.  It's pretty much the only one that feels rugged and has production that sounds like EPMD.  I feel like the R&B influences were far too prevalent by the time he got to his sophomore release Double Or Nothing, but No Pressure still hits pretty hard.

Parish Smith is definitely missed on this album.  E holds his own on the mic and is pretty masterful when it comes to production, but asking him to essentially carry the entire record is probably too much.  The back and forth that was such a huge part of EPMD is obviously not part of No Pressure, and its absence is really noticeable.  But if you take this album at face value and don't try to compare it to EPMD (which is quite difficult), it's a solid early 90s hip hop record.  It might not hit the highs of Erick's work with EPMD, but it is miles better than Parish Smith's PMD solo record that came out the following year.

Erick Sermon - No Pressure (YouTube music album link):

Monday, August 10, 2020

Dinged Up - Mucho Dolor LP - Red Vinyl (/300)


Snappy Little Numbers / Wallride (2020)

One thing I will say about Snappy Little Numbers as a label is that they put out a lot of records and boy do they have a knack for picking up on bands I have never heard of before.  From what I've read, Dinged Up has been kicking around for quite a while and Mucho Dolor is their second album that was originally released in 2016.  That release was only digital, so the album is seeing vinyl for the very first time.

When I first put on the record, I was put off by the vocals.  They do have something of a muppet quality to them and it comes off sort of affected.  All I will say is that you need to give it a couple of songs.  It quickly becomes normal and actually meshes wonderfully with the bouncy guitar riffs and the upbeat nature of the music.

I find it very difficult to throw out other bands to compare Dinged Up to.  If you're looking for a quick and dirty RIYL, I'm going to let you down big time with this review. What I can say is that the entire record is relentless catchy, no matter what sub genres Dinged Up venture to from song to song. I love the tone of the guitar and I'll be damned that by the end of the record, the vocals I initially thought were too quirky and a detriment become one of the album's biggest assets.  This is a weird one, but I really dig it.

Dinged Up - Mucho Dolor:

Monday, August 3, 2020

Mammals - The Hours 7"


Lamont (2018)

This is the last Mammals 7" I have and it's the second one they released.  Having really enjoyed the other two, it was not the least bit surprising that I enjoy this one just as much.  It's been a bummer the last few months.  Trapped in our house for months, no end to the world's stupidity in sight.  A lot of times it just feels like everything is burning down around us.  While it's not an antidote to the troubles of the day, there is something to be said about the healing power of music. Mammals have tapped into an upbeat vibe that just makes me feel better, even if it only lasts the duration of the 7".

Both songs on this record are as good as the other four I've heard.  They've got a bouncy Odd Numbers feel to them mixed in with just the right amount of sunny 60s harmonies and Rickenbacker jangle.  (Full disclosure, I have no idea if they actually play Rickenbackers, but they've really captured the chime that you'd hear on a Byrds or early Tom Petty album).

Mammals are three for three with excellent 7"s.  The only thing that I don't like about them is there's only three of them.  While I love the 7" format and certainly can get down with a barrage of excellent singles, when it comes to Mammals I'm always left wanting more.  I hope these guys keep it up and put out many more of these great tunes.  Maybe a full length one day?  I'd certainly be into that.

Mammals - The Hours 7":