Monday, April 12, 2021

Prospector - Twist & Shout 7"


Pop Ball (1998)

Digging around, I found a small stash of 7"s that I picked up during my 2017 trip to Tokyo that I never wrote about for some reason.  I'm going to try to catch up on those and I'm starting off with this record by Prospector.  They're a band that I wasn't really familiar with prior to getting this 7", but I know they had a song on that Dave Parasite Japan comp that came out a million years ago.  Best I can tell, this is their only standalone record.  Which is a shame, because I really like these guys a lot.

When the 7" starts off with "Passin' Through," you immediately know you're in for a treat.  The way the band has blended in lead riffs with their power chords and corralled the energy into an infections pop punk/rock and roll hybrid.  It sort of makes me think about the kind of stuff that Mutant Pop was trying to do with the bulk of their bands, but almost none of them were able to pull it off at this level.

Vocally, I think the sound is somewhat similar to the Navel/Plum end of the spectrum, with a little Hum Hums like harmony thrown in for good measure.  Like I mentioned early, it's too bad this is the bands only record as I'd really like to hear more from them.    

Friday, April 9, 2021

Science Man - Demo Cassette


More Power Tapes (2018)

OK, as I clean up the tape backlog, I cannot fathom how I have one from 2018 still hanging around.  Seriously, this is almost three years old?  I sure feel like a scumbag for never listening to it until now.  Not that I probably would have had much to say about it three years ago that differs from what I think about it now.

It's all right for the most part.  The production is pretty solid and it sounds better than your typical demo tape that has a skull on the cover.  The guitars are kind of sludgy on purpose and the vocals have a harsh edge to them that kind of vary back and forth between growling, changing and yelling.  There's something about the song "Science Monster" that feels like it could have been a noise B side to a Beck Mellow Gold era release, but not one of the ones I'd listen to all that much.

The band appears to have gone on to put out two full length records and a 7" since this tape came out.  Maybe it'll be a collector's item someday.  I don't know that I would have expected them to go on to great things based on this tape, but it's not anywhere near as bad as some of the others I've listened to over the years.

Science Man - Demo:

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Ultramagnetic MC's - Funk Your Head Up 2xLP


Bootleg (Originally released in 1992)

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.

Ultramagnetic MC's are a pretty special band to me.  I know they are lauded by those in the know these days, but when I stumbled across them in the early 90s, they certainly weren't a household name.  I am reasonably sure I saw the video for "Poppa Large" on MTV sometime during 1992.  It wasn't a staple of the show, but I find it impossible to believe I didn't see it once or twice.  That's likely what led me to pick up my first copy of this on CD, which I did at a CD store in Heathrow airport in London.

1992 was my sophomore year in high school and I got a job at McDonalds so that I could save up and go on my school's Spanish class trip to Spain.  I was in debt for a long time after that trip and I had good times there for sure, but it's funny to me that the most memorable part of that trip thirty years later is that I bought this Ultramagnetic MC's album while on a seven hour layover at Heathrow.  I also had the single best glass of orange juice I ever had in my life that day. Whether it was remembering the "Poppa Large" video or just because I had a little extra spending money in my pocket, Funk Your Head Up came along the rest of that trip with me.

Now, is this album a crushing classic from start to finish?  No, it's not.  There are a handful of songs that either are really slow, have a weird R&B vibe to them or seem to be trying to claw at a mainstream acceptance that would never be the band's destiny.  I think the album would be stronger if you removed "I Like Your Style," "Porno Star" and "Bust The Facts."  That said, my life would be so much worse if I had never heard the rest of this album.  "Poppa Large" (any of the 3 versions between this album and the 12" single), "MC Champion," "Funk Radio," "Pluckin' Cards" and "You Ain't Real" are top notch, all time hip hop classics.

I've had a single LP version of this for quite a few years, but this is a long album and it kind of sounded like crap.  It's too much music for 1 piece of vinyl.  This 2xLP bootleg version showed up on eBay and I snagged it.  It doesn't have cover art, so I've put in the cover from my other copy in the picture.  Lack of art aside, it sounds so much better than the single LP version.  Maybe it was pressed straight from the CD version, who knows - but the bass is deep and full of energy and I'm just thrilled to have a really solid sounding version of this album in my collection, bootleg or not.  It's not like I wouldn't instantly buy a remastered 2xLP official reissue of this.  Hell, I'd still buy one even having this bootleg.  Someone get on that.

Ultramagnetic MC's - Funk Your Head Up (YouTube Music full album playlist):

Monday, April 5, 2021

Supersuckers - The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers LP


Sub Pop (1995)

For me, the key Supersuckers albums are the first three and while La Mano Cornuda has always been my favorite, The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers has been a very close number two.  Sacrilicious hit my freshman year of college.  It had a big rock and roll sound with just enough pop hooks to satiate my newly forming interest in pop punk.  The band had a similar group of fans as Rocket From The Crypt at the time and I'm pretty sure that's how my good friend at the time Joe and I stumbled across them.

Supersuckers were also one of the first bands he and I interviewed for our college paper at the time and I have odd memories of that Maxwell's basement interview.  I remember coming out of thinking the dudes in the band weren't particularly nice, but I have no recollection of anything they actually did that would make me think that.  Bizarre for sure.  I also remember sitting on the speaker that was at the right hand side of the stage during the show, back when they had one speaker on the ground and the 2nd speaker hanging from the ceiling.  I don't think that set up lasted much longer after that at Maxwell's.

All these years laters, I think the album holds up well.  "Born With A Tail" is still a smash hit and is probably one of the best two or three songs the band ever wrote.  The mid album trifecta of "Marie"/"The Thing About That"/"Ozzy" still smokes pretty hard.  This isn't the sort of album I can listen to every day and  I'm not even sure I would like it if you played it for me for the first time today, but it has those early college memories baked into it and twenty six years later, it's sometimes nice to revisit those feelings. 

It took forever for me to add this one to my collection and it ultimately involved me trading my copy of the first Carbonas record on red vinyl to obtain this copy, which was still sealed.  It wasn't a one for one trade, but it did take a deep dig into the archive and relinquishing a fairly rare record.  I justified the trade for three reasons.  One, I got some cash on top of the deal. Two, I still have the record release version of that Carbonas record, which is the rarest variant of the three. And three, I don't even like that specific Carbonas record.  Everything they did after that one was way better.  

All in all it ended up being a good trade, but I'm surprised I had to make it at all.  It strikes me as being very unusual that the Sub Pop Supersuckers records have never been reissued.  I wonder why. I still need to hunt down a copy of The Smoke Of Hell eventually.  Hopefully it doesn't require another collection sacrifice.

Supersuckers - The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers (YouTube Music full album playlist)

Friday, April 2, 2021

CaveXrage - I Believe In CaveXrage Cassette


Poop Stick (2019)

Another 2 year old tape.  The good news is that I'm finally almost all caught up on my pile of tapes and will be able to move on to new things soon, but it's been appalling to me how many of these have been sitting around for so long.  This is another Poop Sick records release, which I think means these are probably high school kids.  As such, I applaud them for being out there, picking up instruments and making some rock and roll racket.  That said, this hurts my ears.

I guess this is hardcore?  It's a lot of really fast drums with fast chord changes accompanied by a bunch of yelling.  The songs are super short and there are mercifully only five of them, so the whole thing is over in less than six minutes.  I'm not really sure I could take more than that.  I've never been one who likes hardcore as the lack of melody and song structure has always driven me crazy.  I don't really know if this band is any better or worse than others that I've heard.  While this is the lamest, old person statement ever; it mostly all just sounds the same to me.

Again, props to the kids out there playing rock music as oppose to whatever else it is that high school kids do these days.  I'm hopeful they will stay interested, grow and contribute great things to the music scene in years to come. 

CaveXrage - I Believe In CaveXrage:

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Various Artists - Music From The Motion Picture Judgment Night - Orange Vinyl (/5000)


Music On Vinyl (2020, 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.

If there is an album that I would consider to be quintessentially high school, it would be the Judgment Night Soundtrack.  It came out in late 1993 when I was starting out my junior year.  While I wasn't listening to much in the way of rock or alternative music at the time, I was neck deep in one of the best years in hip hop history.  I had really enjoyed the Anthrax/Public Enemy version of "Bring The Noise" a couple years earlier and I remember being pretty psyched about this album, even though I have no memory of actually being aware of the movie.

In a nutshell, this album paired some interesting hip hop luminaries with some rock and roll bands.  History looks back on this album as something of a bridge between those two worlds and the start of the sort of rap-rock stuff that would take hold in mainstream music in the late 90s.  I don't really agree with that assessment.  In my eyes, this is a total fluke record.  It's better than it has any business being and none of the creatively bankrupt followups ever achieved what it did.

That's not even to say this album is a success from start to finish.  There's several songs that I think are pretty terrible.  Ice T and Slayer's cover song medley doesn't have any hip hop in it at all, making me wonder what the point of it even was.  Same thing with Fatal and Therapy?'s "Come and Die."  Even Run DMC (who essentially created this sort of thing, at least on a mainstream level) come up flat when paired with Living Colour on "Me, Myself & My Microphone."

That said, there's some great songs on here.  I'm pretty confident that the very first time I ever heard of Sonic Youth was because of the low key groove they provided for Cypress Hill on "I Love You Mary Jane."  Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. really tear it up on "Another Body Murdered." Even the weird-on-paper pairing of Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot yields impressive results.  

The pinnacle of this album and probably the main reason I bought it is for the Del The Funky Homosapien song.  He teams up with Dinosaur Jr. (Also, definitely the first time I ever heard of them), and their contribution "Missing Link" is the epitome of what could be possible when two unique artists work together to try to create something new. The music that J Mascis put together is a perfect canvas for Del's left of center flow, allowing him to meander around with his innovative rhyme structures and cadence in a way that's completely unique to the album.  The entire record is worth it just for this song.

I couldn't ever listen to this record on a super frequent basis.  It sounds really dated and as mentioned earlier, there's a few songs on here that are pretty bad.  But it does make me nostalgic for a time where music was taking chances.  I don't know that you could ever create another album like this again, so I'm glad it was able to happen when it did.

Music From The Motion Picture Judgment Night (YouTube Music full album playlist): 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Billy No Mates - S.F. Sourdough LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


10 Past 12 / Unless You Try (2021)

You may or may not know that I am a gigantic Snuff fan.  They are one of my very favorite bands in the world and I usually mention them, Leatherface and Rocket From The Crypt as the three most important bands to me.  Like John Reis from Rocket and Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface, I tend to follow Duncan Redmonds from Snuff to whatever other project he has brewing.  Guns N Wankers is probably the most famous of his other bands, but Billy No Mates is the one that has the most non-Snuff records out.

S.F. Sourdough is the fourth Billy No Mates album and this time Duncan is joined by luminaries of the US punk rock scene.  On this recording are Joey Cape from Lagwagon, Sergie Loobkoff from Samiam/Knapsack and some guy named Chicken.  He's from a band called Dead to Me that I'm not familiar with.  I have to say, I was especially intrigued by what Duncan and Sergie would do together as they both have some much great work under their belts and both have a really distinct point of view in their punk rock.  In that regard I was a little let down.

This album sounds pretty much like the other Billy No Mates albums.  That's not really a bad thing or a complaint, but I mostly hear Duncan's point of view on these songs.  I like his point of view, so that's good, but unless you told me Sergie was on this record, I would have never known.  That said, we have a bunch of nice melodic punk songs that have similarities with some of the more modern Snuff albums and some others that are more unique to what Billy No Mates has cranked out in the past.

It's a good record and it's nice to have something new that has come out in 2021 that I really dig.  Even though this is technically from 2010...

Billy No Mates - S.F. Sourdough LP:

Friday, March 26, 2021

Third Year Freshman - Demo Cassette


Self Released (Probably 1995 or 1996)

So, here we have a change.  A tape I bought on purpose.  This is a demo tape by the band Third Year Freshman from West Chester, PA.  The poppy punk scene in northern NJ that I was hanging around in when I first started college in 95/96 was a ton of fun.  But it also wasn't made up exclusively by bands from NJ.  Weston, Plow United and Third Year Freshman were a big part of that scene and would come up from PA all the time to play shows.  I'm going to paraphrase something that I heard a person say once: m"You always love your weirdest kid the most."  That was Third Year Freshman.

And they were my favorite local band in that little scene.  Fronted by Tom Martin, armed with an acoustic guitar and a bevy of crazy ass songs, it was impossible to not love them.  Mid 90s pop punk was pretty goofy as a whole, but Tom & crew always took it to the next level.  I have so many great memories seeing them play our local shows and always pulling off something crazy.  

My strongest memory was when they played at Flipside records, opening up for a Mr. T Experience in store.  Except the Mr. T Experience got lost and never showed up.  Third Year Freshman played for a while that day trying to fill time as we tried to figure out what was going on (this is 1996, so not real cell phones or GPS to speak of back then).  They made up songs about some of the people who randomly came in to shop and I remember a song about a patron in a red sweatshirt that was particularly excellent.

This tape is from my favorite era of the band, when their drummer only played a snare drum and just stood up next to the other two members of the band.  I saw them with a full on drummer a bunch too, but there was something magical about that snare only line up.  The first thing that's interesting about this tape is that it contains some songs from the band's only CD, Senior Year.  But most of the versions on this tape are completely different and feature the snare only version of the band, whereas the CD has a full drummer.  Maybe they were taking these songs for another spin once the lineup changed.  I'm extremely certain the CD with the full drummer came before they switched to the snare only line up.

It also features "Disneyland." Arguably one of my favorite songs of theirs that ended up coming out on their split 7" with Wally.  That 7" is the record that I think really captured the band at their peak (and their magnum opus "Two Days Ago I Turned Punk Rock" from the Dad, I Can't Breathe compilation).  But this tape is such a fun nostalgic listen for me and I'm pretty psyched one popped up on Discogs last year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

3rd Bass - The Cactus Al/Bum LP


Def Jam (2014, 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.

I don't think I heard 3rd Bass right when this album originally came out in 1989, but I definitely saw the "Gas Face" video before their 1991 follow up Derelicts of Dialect came out (you know, the 'Pop Goes The Weasel' one).  I bought derelicts pretty much the moment it came out and was a little surprised to see so much airplay for that single.  While I still think that is a pretty solid record, I always thought The Cactus Al/Bum was the better of the two.  Primarily because of the song "Gas Face."

I'm not positive that when I first heard it, I initially made the connection that it was built off of a sample from "Think" by Aretha Franklin (her version in Blues Brothers being a particularly influential song to me when I was growing up).  Regardless if I picked up on the source, there was no denying how that piano riff meshed in with the drum track they created to become something pretty special.  From the moment Prime Minister Pete Nice (still one of my favorite hip hop names) starts up the first verse, it's pretty apparent these guys know how to create a great record.  It was years and years and years later that I put together that the guest MC on the last verse, Zev Love X from the amazing KMD was also MF Doom.  I never dug the Doom records as much as KMD and man did he shine on this track.

The rest of the album is good, if not a little inconsistent.  There are highs like "Sons of 3rd Bass,"Brooklyn-Queens"and "Steppin to the A.M."  But, there are probably too many skits, some of which feel like they go on forever and when the beats get slower on tracks like "Monte Hall" or "Triple Stage Darkness" I don't think the back and forth flow between Pete Nice and M.C. Search is done any favors.  Still, it's a fun record all these years later and one that I think is probably overlooked when discussing the pantheon of incredible albums that came out in the late 80s hip hop scene.

3rd Bass - The Cactus Al/Bum (YouTube Music full album stream):

Monday, March 22, 2021

Dan Sartain - 1981 - 2021

I was planning on just posting the reviews that I had written last week, but had forgotten to post.  But over the weekend I read the news that Dan Sartain died.  At the time of writing this, there hasn't been a cause of death announced, so I will not do any speculation about that.

I didn't know Dan, but I met him a few times over the years when he would play shows in the NYC area.  Usually tagging along with other Swami bands.  I can't really speak knowledgeably about him as a person, but what I can say is that his music was very important to me.

I first discovered Dan like a lot of people, through his Swami debut, Vs. The Serpientes.  I was still working in the music business back then and was lucky enough to be able to have had a hand in promoting Swami releases to college radio stations.   I'm not sure what I was expecting when the Serpientes CDs showed up at our office one day, but I can assure you I was totally surprised and blown away.  What a great album.  A little punk, a little rock and roll, a little greaser and little Johnny Cash.  These were sounds that were absolutely not in vogue at that time, but here was this kid, a few years younger than me, cranking out some incredible tunes.

During this time, my wife and I had just started dating.  She was still living in Boston and I was living in Jersey City.  When Dan Sartain came through with Hot Snakes, I set her up so she could go see the show.  I know she liked the record, but that's the night I'm pretty sure she became a big Dan Sartain fan.

Fast forward to 2010, and we used his version of "Besame Mucho" from Join Dan Sartain as our first dance song at our wedding.  His music has always been very special to us and has been interwoven through our relationship.  Neither of us liked everything he did when he started experimenting with his sound after Dan Sartain Lives came out.  She didn't really like the punk leaning Too Tough To Live and I completely checked out on Century Plaza.  But, there's something about Dan where you always knew the next record could have something special on it.  He wasn't the type of artist you could just move on from.

That became very clear in the past couple of years. I absolutely adored his cowboy song cover album Western Hills.  I delighted in the bristling energy of his Vs. Sun Studios release and I was so eager to hear his next offering Arise, Dan Sartain, Arise.  I'm not sure if that album will ever come out.  I also do not know if there will end up being physical releases of Western Hills or Sun Studios.  I hope all three come out someday.

I'm struggling with this one.  It's not the same as when Sam Jayne died and I felt just intense grief.  With Dan, it feels more complicated.  I mentioned to some friends over the weekend that I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone as I couldn't figure out what was going on.  All I know for sure is that his music touched me and I wish that there would always be more on the horizon.

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Illiterates - Demo Cassette


Poop Stick (2019)

Ugh, another tape from 2019.  Where did these all come from and how have they been buried for two years?  I'm still trying to get through them all, but man, I don't really like listening to tapes.  Anyway, next up is The Illiterates. They were freshman in high school when they recorded this.  The good news is that even though it took me two years to listen to this, they haven't graduated yet.  So, bonus.

Where do I start.  This sounds like a high school band.  The recording is super rudimentary and is fuzzy and blown out.  The songwriting doesn't really do anything for me and there's nothing particularly interesting going on.  You could have said a lot worse about me my freshman year.  What I will say is at least one of the guitarists is obviously very talented.  If he can figure out how to harness those powers for the forces of good, there's potential there.

I don't want to be super negative about this.  It's not something that I'd ever listen to much and since I'm about thirty years older than these guys, I'm not really their demographic anyway.  But I will say that I'm really happy and excited to see that there's still a subset of kids in school that want to play instruments and be in a band.  They could have just as easily ended up listening to shitty music and being super stoked on cryptocurrency.  I'll take kids playing bad punk rock over that any day of the week.

The Illiterates - Demo:

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Souls of Mischief - No Man's Land 2xLP


Jive (1995)

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.

Well, I'm out of Casual singles from the Fear Itself era, and while I don't have all of the Souls of Mischief singles from that time period, I figured now would be a good week to tackle the second Souls of Mischief full length, No Man's Land.  This was the follow up to 93 'Til Infinity, which was one of my all time favorite hip hop records when it came at and continues to be to this day.  

Now in 1995, I had really moved away from hip hop and was listening to much more punk and indie rock.  I was really disillusioned with the direction hip hop was moving, but in 1995 I was still game for a new release from anyone that was part of the Hieroglyphics crew.  I bought this CD right away and was extremely disappointed.  It just didn't connect with me at all and I pretty much filed it away after a few listens and moved on with my life.

It wasn't until many years later that I gave it another chance.  I liked it much better when I was a bit older.  While I still contend that the beats are not at the level of 93 'Til, they are way better than I gave them credit for in 1995.  Lyrically, the Souls are on fire and while their tone and delivery is more aggressive than on their debut, they still run circles around most multi-MC groups and pass the microphone back and forth with ease, never losing the flow of the song.

If I'm in the mood to listen to Souls of Mischief, I'm going to reach for 93 'Til Infinity nine times out of ten.  It's just one of those records that is embedded into my consciousness at this point.  But every so often I will pick up one of their other albums and I am never disappointed these days when No Man's Land is playing.  It's the true definition of an album that's a grower.  And I had to have the vinyl in my collection.

Souls of Mischief - No Man's Land:

Monday, March 8, 2021

State Drugs - Live. Laugh. Love. LP - Green Vinyl (/140)


Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

A couple of years ago I added the State Drugs album Takings and Leavings to my collection.  It was a solid record and it gave me those warm Tom Petty rootsy rock vibes.  Now we have Live. Laugh. Love., a proper full length album that was recorded to be one, as opposed to Takings' compilation approach.  While I think that this record is stronger overall and absolutely more consistently good, I'm still getting the same sort of RIYL feelings that I did on the last record.

If you've ever listened to bands like Young Leaves, Nude Beach or Unwelcome Guests, I don't think there is a reason in the world not to add State Drugs to your record collection immediately.  While they don't have the same sort of Dinosaur Jr. guitar pyrotechnics that you might find with Young Leaves or the scrappy punk production of Unwelcome Guests, what you will get is excellent song writing fueling mid tempo, hook filled rock and roll.

This is a great Sunday morning record.  That's actually when I'm writing this up.  It's a great soundtrack for a laid back day where you want to relax and be taking away by some warm, fuzzy melodies.  

State Drugs - Live. Laugh. Love.:

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Casual / Souls of Mischief / Extra Prolific - A Low Down Dirty Shame 12"


Jive (1994)

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.

The last of the Casual singles from the golden era is this three-way split EP that also features fellow Hieroglyphics acts Souls of Mischief and Extra Prolific.  It features songs from the soundtrack of a movie called A Low Down Dirty Shame, which I've never seen despite it starring Keenon Ivory Waynes and me being a huge a huge fan of I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.  Maybe I need to check it out one day.

As far as this single goes, we get two versions of an exclusive Casual song called "Later On."  The LP version features a laid back, storytelling vibe with a a jazzy drum vibe, some keyboards in the hook and some atmospheric chatter in the background.  It's not my favorite Casual song from this era as I prefer Casual when he's hitting a little harder, but lyrically there's good stuff here.  The remix of this is far superior in my opinion.  It has a completely different vocal take and some new lyrics over a beat that is still slower in tempo, but hits much harder than the LP version.

Souls of Mischief contribute "Get The Girl, Grab The Money and Run." The LP version probably isn't as strong as anything on their 93 'Til Infinity album that was released the previous year, but it's still a strong offering.  Hiero was operating at a level so much higher than most at this time, even their lesser tracks can hang with the best of the era.  The Souls remix has a beat that's a bit more minimalistic than the LP version.  It's good, but in this instance I think the one the put on the album was better.

Lastly we have the Extra Prolific track "In Front of the Kids."  Nothing really to see here as this is also on the Like It Should Be full length, so nothing exclusive here.  It's not even one of the better songs on that album.  This EP should be a perfect bridge from writing about Casual singles to writing about Souls of Mischief singles, but those Souls singles are expensive and I don't have them all yet.  Hopefully one day.

Casual - "Later On":

Souls of Mischief - "Get The Girl, Grab The Money and Run":

Monday, March 1, 2021

Cloud Nothings - The Shadow I Remember - Silver w/ White Splatter Vinyl


Car Park (2021)

This is the new Cloud Nothings album.  From what I gather, it was meant to be their next full length and was recorded before the pandemic hit.  But, they then ended up recording and releasing The Black Hole Understands in quarantine.  I did like The Black Hole Understands and particularly dug the fact that it was pretty heavy on pop songs.   It was a nice change of pace, but it was missing some of the loudness which is what I typically enjoy the most from Cloud Nothings.  

The Black Hole Understands was another in a line of Cloud Nothings records that I listened to chasing  the sound of Here and Nowhere Else.  While I couldn't say that I've heard a bad Cloud Nothings record, I feel like I keep going back to that album when I'm in the mood to listen to Cloud Nothings. It's unlikely that the band will ever release a carbon copy of Here and Nowhere Else (why would they?), but I think that when I listen to The Shadow I Remember it's the record that has come closest to instilling those same feelings in me.

I definitely think it's the second best Cloud Nothings record I've heard and it does an incredible job of mixing the perfect pop hooks that Dylan Baldi is capable of writing with an aggressive, loud and punishing guitar attack.  This record doesn't sound like Sugar at all, but the way Cloud Nothings have combined melody and LOUD on this record reminds me of the sorcery that Bob Mould was able to conjure in the mid 90s.

I own a lot of Cloud Nothings records.  I like every single one of them.  But now I can add another record that can hang with Here and Nowhere Else.  This is the first great record of 2021 for me.

Cloud Nothings - The Shadow I Remember:

Friday, February 26, 2021

DZTN 1980 - Ode To A Dead Earth Cassette


 Different Kitchen (2020)

This is the 2nd DZTN 1980 cassette that I've been sent.  While there were moments on the first one that I liked, I was begging for some drums and bass to take the songs to the next level. On Ode To A Dead Earth, we've got drums. And bass.  And it really adds a lot to the overall sound of the proceedings, even though I don't think I could ever say I really like it or would want to listen to it all that much.

Me, I like my rock and roll a little more straightforward and my hooks a bit more obvious.  DZTN 1980 has crammed this tape full of swirling guitars, biting vocals drenched in echo and a dreamlike vibe that is punctuated by vocal yelps straight out of a nightmare.  I'm sure there are plenty of people that would be into this sort of thing and I do think the addition of drumming makes it feel more like a band.  But this just isn't my scene.

I can't even come up with a really great comparison.  It sort of reminds me of a lot of that early 2000s slow, dissonant indie rock that had some notoriety, but an attempt to tie this to a specific band from that era is pretty fruitless.  I didn't like that stuff back then, so it's doubtful I'd make any sort of comparison that makes any real sense to fans of this sort of thing.

DZTN 1980 - Ode To A Dead Earth:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Casual - Me-O-Mi-O 12"


 Jive (1994)

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.

This was Casual's third single from Fear Itself, but if I was in charge of the release I would have had "Me-O-Mi-O" the lead single.  I think that of all of the incredible songs on the full length, this is the one that would have the most opportunity for mass appeal in 1994.  The rumbling bass along with killer lyrics and an easily digestible sing along hook should have been a smash hit.  Why it wasn't I'll never know, but it's a true highlight on an album that is packed with high points.

We've got a bunch of extra tracks on the 12" version.  We have "Me-O-Mi-O (It'd A Me Thang)," which isn't a remix at all, but a new track with different production and different lyrics.  Aside from sort of referencing the original's hook in its own hook, I'm not sure why the two are connected at all.  The beat is a little sparser and more dark than you'd think for a Hiero cut from this era, but as usual, Casual is on point and turns in some great verses.

There's also an exclusive song called "Rock On" that features Pep Love.  This one is built off a jazzy brass loop with some great scratching and laid back performances from Cas and Pep.  It's a little on the slow side, but really everything these guys touched during this era was pretty flawless.  Lastly, we have the Disseshowedo remix of "That's How It Is."  Since that song is already on the That's How It Is 12", I'm not really sure why it makes another appearance here.

Casual - "Me-O-Mi-O" 

Casual - "Me-O-Mi-O (It's A Me Thang)" 

Casual - "Rock On" 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Spells - Charlie & The Shithead Take It Down A Notch, Expanded Edition 7"


Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

Hey it's Spells!  I have had nice things to say about pretty much all of their records over the years.  My praise for this one will be no different, even though the content is not quite what you would expect from the Spells folks.  This 7" contains eight (that's right, they crammed EIGHT songs onto this 7") Spells songs, however these are done acoustically so you only get some strumming and hollering.

Without listening to this, if you asked me what I thought of the idea, my gut instinct would be that Spells aren't exactly the first band I would think of to do this.  I didn't think the songs would translate as well acoustically, but low and behold, I was very wrong. These songs have just the right amount of energy and oomph to them, highlighting the poppier aspects of the song while avoiding the typical pitfalls of singer-songwriter nonsense.

These songs remind me most of the acoustic version of "Landlords" that Pinhead Gunpowder did.  You know what you're suppose to get from a Pinhead Gunpowder song and even though the acoustic version is unexpected, it absolutely works because the song is there.  It works regardless of the performance type.  That's what I think about these songs, they really showcase the quality of the songs themselves.  They still shine even without the loud drums and fuzz and the general party vibe I associate with Spells.  These are fun, color me surprised and impressed.

Spells -  Charlie & The Shithead Take It Down A Notch, Expanded Edition 7"

Friday, February 19, 2021

Fan Fiction - No Frontier Cassette


Just Because (2019)

How do I have so many tapes from 2019 sitting around?  I guess running out of new records to write about isn't completely a bad thing as it's forcing me to dig around through the unlistened to piles, but I kind of can't believe I have stuff this old that I never played.

I kind of wish I got to this earlier.  While I could never say that anything on this tape is out of this world awesome, it has a handful of pretty solid songs on it.  There's definitely a 90s slacker rock vibe to it, but in more of a midwestern crunchy way than a Pavement-y indie rock sound.  For some reason I keep thinking about Armchair Martian (who are not really midwestern, I know) but with about half of the energy and a little more sloppy twang to them.

I'm not really sure what to make of it.  I like it in parts, but it starts to feel a little repetitive as you move through the tape.  I wish they were a little more energetic and punk rock in parts, but it's pretty enjoyable for the most part.  A band with potential I think.

Fan Fiction - No Frontier:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Casual - I Didn't Mean To 12"


Jive (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.

As much as I love the Casual album Fear Itself (and I do love it so very much), "I Didn't Mean To" was never one of my favorite songs on it.  It's a really good song, but considering how much of the album is next-level great, it doesn't stand out to me quite as much.  It's particularly weird to me that it was chosen as the second single off of the album with a video and the 12" treatment.

The highlight of the album version of the song is its excellent, slinky beat.  Lyrically, I'm not as into the ladies man vibe, though the storytelling is a unique taker on the subject.  I just enjoy Casual the most when he's unleashing battle raps and self aggrandizing lyrics.  That's where he really shines.

The 12" also comes with a remix of the main track.  It uses the same vocal take, but has a beat that's a little punchier and has a nice baseline.  I don't like it as much as the album version, but it's a fun listen.  In addition to instrumentals of the LP version and the remix, we also have one exclusive track, "That's How It Is Part II."  I'm not sure why it's considered part two, as the beat is new and really it's a brand new song featuring a verse by A-Plus of Souls of Mischief.  It's an awesome track and it is kind of a shame it's relegated to B side status and has been somewhat forgotten as it is as strong as anything on Fear Itself.

Casual - "I Didn't Mean To (Album Version)":

Casual - "I Didn't Mean To (Remix)":

Casual - "That's How It Is Part II":

Monday, February 15, 2021

Night Marchers - Wot's Da Use 7" (/530)


Swami (2021)

Hey it's 2021 and there are two new Night Marchers songs to listen to.  These were both recorded during the Allez Allez session and more than anything, it makes me wonder what else might be lurking in the dark recesses of the Swami archives.  These are both great songs and further cements my opinion that Night Marchers are easily the most overlooked and under-appreciated band that Swami John has been a part of.

A side "Wot's Da Use?" is a a slower tempo song with a beat that reminds me a little bit of "Big In Germany."  It has a scratchy production vibe with a straightforward verse/chorus set up.  What really elevates this song for me are the over the top "Na na na na na na nahs" that punctuate the chorus.  It's gratuitously poppy and catchy but is done in a way that just makes me happy that they are there.

On the B side we have "Dosed."  This one is faster and has main guitar riff that harkens back to the straightforward blasts of some of Reis' work in The Sultans.  But when the chorus hits, it's unmistakably the Night Marchers with the guitar jangle that leads into a pounding punch of guitar and killer backing vocals.  

In a perfect world, I would have Swami John juggling all of his bands, alternating releases every month between Rocket, Hot Snakes, Jehu, Sultans, Night Marchers and his upcoming solo work.  There's no reason for any of these bands to play 'side project' to any of the others.  They're all great and I want more music from all of them.

Night Marchers - Wot's Da Use 7" (YouTube Music full 7" stream):

Friday, February 12, 2021

Pitch & Bark - Two EPs Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

Each side of this tape is an EP by Pitch & Bark.  The A side Nowhere Near Ohio was originally released in 2012 and the B side Father Hoxy came out back in 2011, though it has been remastered for this tape.  I can't say I was familiar with this band prior to receiving this tape from SLN HQ, but I do like what I hear in places.

At its core, this is a tape that embraces the off-time rhythms of late 90s post punk and mixes it with the attitudinal indifference of a shoegaze heavyweight.  Even when the music starts to build up its intensity, the vocals are almost always delivered in a steady, almost monotone way.  The most vocal intensity on the whole tape is during the song "Throat" on the B side, but but even that is pretty restrained when compared to the pantheon of rock and roll singing.  This description probably sounds like a knock, but keeping the vocals mostly subdued is actually a very effective way to put more focus on the instrumentation swelling around it.

I can kind of hear some Malkmus in the vocals, but musically this makes me think a little bit more about bands like Karate or Sweep The Leg Johnny, even though Pitch & Bark are much more restrained.  It's an interesting mix and one that probably shouldn't work if you look at it on paper (or if you're reading this crappy attempt at explaining it), but it does click for the most part and sounds a lot better than I'm probably describing it.  Go have a listen.

Pitch & Bark - Nowhere Near Ohio:

Pitch & Bark - Father Hoxy:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Casual - That's How It Is 12"


Jive (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.

Fear Itself by Casual is my second favorite hip hop album of all time, only No Need For Alarm by Del has had more spins throughout my life.  Much like I did with Del, I decided that it was time to gather up all of the accompanying Casual singles of that era.  I'm starting off with "That's How It Is," this first single from Fear Itself.

I did always think it was a little odd that this was the first song picked as a single.  Not that it isn't great, because it is, but it seemed a little too intense for a new listener.  Over a deliberate, rumbling bass line, Casual unleashes punishing battle raps with intricate rhyme schemes and bars for days.  It's one of the things Casual is best at, but I can't help but wonder if a song like "Me-O-Mi-O" or "Lose In The End" wouldn't have been just a little more digestible to the average Yo MTV Raps fan.

This single has several extra tracks, but most aren't particularly exciting.  There's the instrumental and an a capella version of "That's How It Is" as well as an appearance by another track from Fear Itself, "Thoughts Of The Thoughtful."  Again, another great track, but it is also on the full LP.  The only real exclusive is the Disseshowedo Mix remix of "That's How It Is."  It's more than a remix as there's a completely different vocal take as well with some new rhyme schemes and a completely different cadence.  It's really great and the beat is pretty incredible.  It's almost like a new song and I'm definitely into it.

Casual - "That's How It Is (LP Version)":

Casual - "That's How It Is (Disseshowedo Mix)":

Monday, February 8, 2021

Brain Bagz / Blood Bags - Split 12"


Big Neck (2020)

This is another album that got lost in the shuffle, so I'm getting to it way later than I would have expected.  This is a split 12" by two bands that have Bags(z) as part of their name.  The artwork is done in a clever way so that it looks like either band could be the first one, you have to flip the cover over entirely as the artwork is upside down.  This means the sleeve opening is always to the right of the artwork, regardless of what side you are looking at.  The only thing they should have done to make this even better is they should have written the spin information in both directions as well.  So I'm taking my cues from the spine and am listing Brain Bagz first.

Brain Bagz sound like a chaotic mess.  I don't even necessarily mean that in a bad way, but their songs are full of echo, fuzz and are generally pretty noisy, bordering on psychedelic at times.  I feel like they probably could have a home on a label like Trouble In Mind, although their sound is much more in-your-face than anything TIM put out.  I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.  If you dig some psych, this might be more up your alley.

Blood Bags have an aggressive, punishing sound.  It feels like everyone in the band is just pounding on their instruments, leaving all songs with a primitive, thumping feel.  I like some of the riffs they brandish during their 6 song romp.  I don't really care for the vocals as they are pretty unpolished.  I get that they do fit with the overall atheistic that the band has going, but I think if there was a little less shouting and a little more singing, I'd probably like this more than I do.

Brain Bagz / Blood Bags - Split 12":

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Skitchers - Gleam Another Cube Cassette


Poop Stick (2019)

As I mentioned last week, I'm trying to organize and get through this pile of tapes that I need to write about.  This one from The Skitchers seems to have been here sing 2019, which I find crazy, but then again so was last week's tape.  And I'm usually so organized.

I like the bright orange artwork and Gleam Another Cube is a pretty funny name for an EP, but there's nothing about the music that I find all that interesting.  These are short, fast skate punk songs.  Gravel-throated singer, on top of simple guitar riffs and straightforward drum tempos.  Is it good skate punk or bad skate punk? Honestly, I don't know as it's not really my bag.  It sounds amateurish, but to some that's a selling point I think.

When I'm writing about these kind of bands I run out of things to say pretty quickly.  They sound like a high school band that I wouldn't want to go see play.  I cannot imagine every listening to this tape again.  But skate punk or high school band aficionados might find something in it that I don't, so have at it if that's the sort of thing you're into. 

The Skitchers - Gleam Another Cube:

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Ice-T - O.G. Original Gangster LP


Music On Vinyl (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.

I have had mixed feelings about Ice-T's discography.  I find it uneven at best and not my cup of tea at all at worst.  His dalliances into metal and acting are commendable as far as diversifying his portfolio, but to be honest, they aren't anything I've ever had much interest in.  The outlier to all of these statements is O.G. Original Gangster.

This record is just outstanding.  I think I had it on cassette as a high schooler, but honestly I can't remember.  Most of the hip hop albums I had were on CD, so it's possible I'm misremembering that.  Whichever version I had, CD or cassette, it had a lot more songs on it than the LP does.  Seriously, there's eight less songs on the vinyl version.  It's not even as if a bunch of bonus tracks at the end are lopped off as the missing songs are dispersed throughout the CD tracklist. 

That said, the strongest material is absolutely on the LP.  Of the eight missing tracks, I only really miss "Mic Contract."  The rest, I don't actually mind that they are gone.  My only beef with this album that I've had over the years is that I thought it was way too long.  By cutting out eight songs, it's a much more manageable listen and a tighter album as a result.  If it was me, I would have just left the metal song "Body Count" off the vinyl and put in "Mic Contract" instead. Or, I would have swapped it out and removed a few of the skits.

The vinyl version has the stronger tracks and contains all of my favorite Ice-T songs like "Lifestyles of the Rich & Infamous," "Escape from the Killing Fields," "O.G. Original Gangster" and the best of the bunch; "New Jack Hustler."  "New Jack Hustler" is the song that got me interested in Ice-T to begin with and I remember that video in heavy rotation on Yo MTV Raps.  This might be the only Ice-T record that I like, but to be truthful, I haven't heard a thing on any of his other records in probably thirty years.  Given how well this one stands up, I should probably give one of the others a try.

Ice-T - O.G. Original Gangster (YouTube Music full album playlist - CD VERSION):

Monday, February 1, 2021

Cloud Nothings - The Black Hole Understands LP - Black & White Galaxy Vinyl


2020 (Self Released)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the black vinyl version of this record here, I had mentioned that I ordered the colored vinyl, but for some reason received the black vinyl instead.  I ended up reaching out to Cloud Nothings via their Bandcamp page about it.  They alerted me that some of the colored and black vinyl had been mixed up and they would send me a new copy.  Plus they paid the postage to return the black vinyl copy.  Good folks over there.

So, you probably can't really tell the difference in the picture.  It's definitely more of a black galaxy than a white galaxy, I suppose.  But even though it's not really a showstopper as far as colored vinyl goes, it is a good record and I'm happy to have the more limited version now.

Cloud Nothings - The Black Hole Understands

Friday, January 29, 2021

Lightning Cult - EP2: Ether Waves Cassette


Snappy Little Numbers (2019)

My pile of tapes to review is completely unorganized.  They're just a mess and I have no idea how long some of them have been sitting around.  I'm going to try my level best to get through some of them over the next few weeks as I don't have a lot of incoming vinyl to write about.  I'm going to do my best to tackle some of the lingering records and tapes that are sitting around.  The goal is at least one tape a week.

We're going to start off with this one by Lightning Cult.  On the Snappy Little Numbers Bandcamp page it says this came out in 2019.  I cannot believe this has been sitting around for over a year.  But, I suppose it is possible given the state of things.  I like this.  The band kind of has a shoegazer-y vibe to them, particularly in the vocals, but the music is upbeat enough to where it doesn't sound mopey or boring.

There are some surfy guitar tones here and there and in general the songs are catchy with a few really strong hooks on a couple of these songs.  "Pacific Hits" is my favorite of the bunch on side A, probably because it's the fastest of the bunch.  It's a good place to start if you want to check out something on the Bandcamp.

While EP2: Ether Waves is only five songs long, on the cassette's B side, they've thoughtfully provided the songs for EP1: Burner.  These songs are also really good.  They are a little more varied than the stuff from EP2, but in a good way.  I'm glad they are on this tape and are not something I have to go track down on their own.

Lightning Cult - EP2: Ether Waves

Lightning Cult - EP1: Burner

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Del The Funky Homosapien - Golden Era 2xLP


The Council (2011) 

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.

It's probably pretty obvious that Del The Funky Homosapien is my favorite MC of all time.  I'm constantly extolling his virtues and have been doing that since I was in the eighth grade.  He was particularly influential for me in 1993 when No Need For Alarm came out while I was in high school.  As such, he has been one of the very few artists that I have kept close pretty close tabs on since the golden era of hip hop.  

That's not to say that I've been able to stay right up to date with everything he does, in fact I have another LP of his on his way to me that I was unaware of until pretty recently, despite it being released over a decade ago.  But, I was very aware of Golden Era when it came out in 2011.  But, I opted to purchase a CD version when it first came out.  The Golden Era triple CD set also included two additional albums that had previously been digital only; Automatik Statik and Funk Man.

When I decided that I needed to add the vinyl to my collection (which doesn't include those other two albums), it had gone out of print and became difficult to track down.  I've been keeping my eye out for it and I was pretty psyched to be able to pick it up for $20 off Discogs a few weeks ago.

As far as the album goes, it's one of my favorite Del full lengths, particularly over the past twenty years or so.  I typically like everything Del releases, but sometimes the beats aren't exactly what I'm looking for.  That is definitely not the case with Golden Era.  The beats are full sounding, upbeat and really harken back to the sounds of the Golden Era that Del is referencing with the album title.

In particular, "Double Barrel" may be the best Del track I've heard since "At The Helm."  It has a similar driving drum rhythm giving Del a straightforward beat to weave his lyrics through.  I've always thought Del works best in this arena.  Rich, full beats that are steady in their tempo.  That lets Del create the dynamics with his lyrical flow, coming slightly off beat here and there only to reconnect and make it make total sense a few bars later.

There's a reason I think Del's the best and a lot of that is on display during Golden Era.  While I'll always recommend No Need For Alarm as the best place to start with Del, if you're looking for something of his to sample that's a bit more recent, this is a great album to try out.

Del The Funky Homosapien - Golden Era:

Monday, January 25, 2021

Shiner - Schadenfreude LP - Black Vinyl & Gray Swirl Vinyl


Two Black Eyes (2020)

When there's nineteen years between a band's most recent two releases, there is always cause for concern.  Will they be able to pick up somewhere close to where they left off? Is it even possible to capture that sort of lightning in a bottle a second time?  Will anyone even care?  Luckily, when it comes to the new album from Shiner, they tick off all of the boxes and answer any questions with a resounding yes.

I became aware of Shiner primarily because they are my wife's favorite band.  She played them for me and I especially gravitated towards their 2001 album, The Egg.  Coincidently, that was the last album they put our before the nineteen year gap that preceded Schadenfreude.  Listening to Schadenfreude, I think it is a great follow up to The Egg.  

While Allen Epley has stayed active over the years in his other band The Life and Times, they never spoke to me the same way Shiner did.  Though my wife thinks they are great, for me they were just never loud enough.  If there's one thing that Schadenfreude is, it's loud.  It has those huge, crunchy guitar tones and massive energy that I want out of this kind of Jawbox-flavored rock and roll.  

Now, when I say energy, I want to clarify that a bit.  Shine is not playing fast punk rock songs.  Their vibe is slower, but it still packs a mean punch.  I tend to visualize molten lava flowing down a mountain.  It's not going to fly through a town, but it's got an unstoppable inertia to it, churning and building as it wipes out everything in front of it.  It's a big sound and one that I am happy to hear again.

When Shiner started playing some reunion shows and rereleasing their earlier records, there was always hope that new tunes might come to light.  With Schadenfreude that hope became reality and fortunately Shine was also able to live up to the reputation they created for themselves twenty plus years ago.

Shiner - Schadenfreude:

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Mr. T Experience - Alternative is Here to Stay 7" - Black w/ Red Swirl Vinyl


Sounds Rad (2020)

In case you missed it, The Mr. T Experience and Sounds Rad have been reissuing albums over the past few years.  Rumor has it that this will continue for the foreseeable future until every album has been reissued.  This is a project that I have been following pretty closely and even though I have original pressings of most of these releases, I'm keen to see what's next.  

Something I didn't see coming was a reissue of the Alternative is Here to Stay 7".  I had figured (and hoped) that the Mr. T Experience singles would eventually be compiled onto an LP to go along with the two volumes of Shards compilations that have already been released.  I think that might still be a plan of theirs, but I guess we might see more of the individual 7"s as well. 

You'd be hard pressed to start with a better one than this.  I believe that this was the first 'new' MTX record that came out after I discovered them back in the 90s.  I likely only had a few of their records to my name at the time, but this one knocked my socks off.  Anyone with a partial pulse in 1995 could tell you how much we heard the word 'alternative' on an hourly basis.  To see it sent up as a 60s inspired pop punk ditty extolling its virtues, well that was next level funny to me.

The B side is "New Girlfriend."  One of those classic Dr. Frank relationship songs casting a wry eye at things.  It's fast, it's catchy and there's some talking about breasts.  Just the sort of thing that made me chuckle when I was eighteen years old.  And it still makes me chuckle today, to be honest, as it's not done in a mean spirited or cruel way.  It's just a fun, well written and silly song and that's more than you can say for a lot of things these days.

The CD version from back in 1995 also had a third song called "You Today" (and an 'alternative' version fo "Alternative is Here to Stay" that I honestly have zero memory of).  "You Today" isn't on either of the Shards LPs.  Surely this means they'll still have to do a singles comp, right?  Right?

The Mr. T Experience - "Alternative is Here to Stay":

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels & The Paths Of Rhythm 2xLP


Jive (1990)

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 discovered A Tribe Called Quest in 1993 after seeing their video for "Check The Rhyme" on Yo MTV Raps.  I loved that song so much and was even more enamored with them once I had dug into the full Low End Theory album.  Shortly after that I picked up their debut, People's Instinctive Travels & The Paths of Rhythm.  I am fairly positive I grabbed it as part of one of my Columbia House/BMG Music Club scams.  While I have never liked it the album quite as much as Low End Theory, which to be fair is a tough comparison for album, this debut has its share of great moments.  

I've often felt People's Instinctive Travels was something of an overlooked part of the Tribe discography and listening to my newly acquired copy on vinyl, I'm more sure of that than ever.  The beats are just a step below what you'd hear on Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders, but again, that's a pretty high bar I'm comparing it to.  The same sort of jazzy samples and steady percussion is constant throughout the album and there's no doubt about it, you are listening to a Tribe Called Quest album.

Lyrically, Q-Tip is every bit a great as he is on any other Tribe release and Phife is right there with him.  The interplay between these two as they trade verses is something that has always been special.  They have very different styles, but they are incredible compliments to eat other and every song where they both make an appearance is something special.  I'm thrilled to have this in the vinyl collection and I really need to pick up Midnight Marauders at some point.

A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels & The Paths Of Rhythm (YouTube Music full album stream):

Monday, January 18, 2021

Jiffy Marx - She's My Witch 7" - Black & Red Mixed Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers (2020)

Here we go again, Snappy Little Numbers picking up a band I never heard of before, putting out a record by them and dropping it in my lap to great fanfare.  Their track record includes way more hits than misses and you can absolutely chalk up Jiffy Marx in the 'hit' category.

The A side is "She's My Witch" and man of man, it sounds like it could have been an outtake from the Love As Laughter album Laughter's Fifth.  Specifically it reminds me a lot of the song "Dirty Lives" with its laid back, breezy indie rock sound.  There's a loose feel to the instrumentation and the vocals that gives it a quality of the sort of thing you'd hear hanging out with the friends that you've known your entire life.

On the B side we have "Warning Sign."  This one doesn't sound as much like Love as Laughter as the other, but it's still a strong song and is actually the poppier of the two.  I'm not sure if anyone reading this remembers those Space Wolves tapes I got a few years back, but this song makes me think about them quite a bit.  Both good songs, definitely worth giving a listen to.

Jiffy Marx - She's My Witch 7":

Friday, January 15, 2021

Guns n' Wankers - For Dancing and Listening 10" - Black Vinyl and Blue & Green Mix Vinyl


 Fat Wreck Chords (2020, Reissue)

Randomly, out of nowhere I found an email from Fat Wreck in my 'promotions' folder on my Gmail account.  It harkened the arrival of a few 10" reissues on limited colored vinyl.  One of the items on the list was Guns n' Wankers, originally released on Fat as a 12", but now being condensed by inches and reissued.  The timestamp on the email said it was less than an hour old so I popped over to the Fat Wreck website to collect my prize.

It was sold out already.  I couldn't believe it.  I figured the NOFX reissue would fly out of the door, but I couldn't imagine the GNW 10" would have been blown out that fast.  Dejected, I grabbed a copy on black vinyl and set up an eBay alert.  It didn't take too long for one to pop up and luckily I had just traded in a holiday gift card to get an eBay gift card on one of those exchange sites, so I picked it up for $40.  I'm not as nuts as I used to be about owning every variant of a record, but there will always be a handful of bands where I'm going to get obsessive about things. Snuff and Guns n' Wankers are still on that list.

This version of the GNW songs is not as complete as the one that 10 Past 12 put out recently.  I don't even think it's really called For Dancing and Listening, but it does get referred to as that fairly often.  The three Metal songs and the two songs from the Silly 7" are not on this.  You only get the eight songs that comprised the Pop 7" and the Hardcore 7".  Now, those are the best songs of the bunch and spinning these hits at 45rpm as a 10", there's something that is just very cool about that.  The black vinyl is still up on the Fat Wreck site.  Definitely worth a pick up of these songs aren't in your collection.

Guns n' Wankers - For Dancing and Listening:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Del The Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought - Attractive Sin LP - Red Vinyl


Parallel Thoughts Ltd. (2012)

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.

Despite the fact that Del The Funky Homosapien is my all time favorite MC, there are still albums of his that I haven't tracked down on vinyl just yet.  Attractive Sin was one of the highest on that list but the cost of obtaining a copy a few years after it went out of print kept it at arm's length for a while.

Over on Discogs it regularly sold for $50+ so I just kept searching.  Luckily, eBay ended up saving the day.  One day a copy popped up for $20.  I followed the auction all week and for whatever reason, I was the only person to place a bid.  It seems odd to me that records can be more expensive on Discogs than they are on eBay these days, but I'm just happy to have been able to get this for a reasonable cost.

As far as the music goes, Parallel Thought serves up some really interesting beats.  They are bass heavy with jazz flourishes that set the mood for Del.  As usual, Del's lyrics are borderline insane with complicated rhyme structures and diverse battle rap material.  I really feel that no one can hold a candle to Del when he's got a great beat to rhyme over and this entire is no exception.

Del The Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought - Attractive Sin:

Monday, January 11, 2021

Cloud Nothings - The Black Hole Understands LP


Self Released (2020)

I didn't get a chance to do a proper review of this album before I ran out of time last year, but you may have noticed that the record did rank quite high on my list of the Absolute Best Records of 2020.  I figured that it would make sense to start the year off getting this one written about.

The Black Hole Understands is an album that the members of Cloud Nothings wrote and recorded under quarantine earlier in 2020.  In some ways it's a pretty dramatic departure from their last few records, but in others it's exactly the sort of thing you would expect from cloud nothings.

First off, the differences.  This record is in no way as loud and noisy as usual.  The distortion is dialed way back giving way to cleaner and at times jangly guitar sounds.  As far as the vocals go, there isn't much of the harsh howling that comes up from time to time.  These vocals are more restrained, almost delicate in the way they interact with the music.

But despite these sonic differences, the songs have the classic Cloud Nothings mastery of putting just the right hook in just the right place.  While they certainly have a weariness to them, they nevertheless have an unshakeable optimism.  Just like everyone else, the band is pushing along to get through these times, because surely they'll get better eventually, right?  

The one other comment I have is that when I ordered this record from the Cloud Nothings Bandcamp page, I had ordered the clear with black smoke colored vinyl variant.  When I got this in the mail, it was a straight black vinyl version.  I actually didn't notice this right away as I forgot there was a colored vinyl version and I've contacted the band/label through their Bandcamp page.  Hopefully I'll be able to get my hands on the colored vinyl version.

Cloud Nothings - The Black Hole Understands: