Friday, September 24, 2021

The Crump - The Song for Empty Nights CD

Untitled

Imomushi (2010)

I have had three Crump 7"s for about fifteen years now.  All three of them came out on Snuffy Smiles and I dug them all.  I didn't know they put out a full length when this originally came out in 2010.  In fact, I'm not even sure when I realized that existed, but I had put it on my Discogs want list a few years ago and kept an eye out for it.  A few months ago a copy that was already located in the US dropped to a very reasonable price, so I grabbed it.

I don't exactly know how to describe this without sounding like I'm being somewhat dismissive of the record and its great songs.  So let me be very clear, I absolutely love this CD.  It is very excellent and I've listened to it a ton since it came in.  Now, if you then ask me to describe what it sounds like, I'm going to say it sounds like awesome Japanese pop punk that would be right at home on Snuffy Smiles.  

A lot of the great Japanese punk bands owe a bit of debt to the influence of Snuff and Leatherface.  The Crump are no exception to this, though I feel they're closer to the Snuff branch of things.  The vocals are great, with some killer harmonies.  The guitar work has interesting and unique riffs, without straying to far from what make pop punk fun to listen to in the first place. I feel like it has similarities with bands like Blotto or The Urchin, but has some mod leanings to it that reminds me of a band like Smalltown (yes, I know they are not from Japan).

I feel like my descriptions of this album haven't been very helpful in explaining why I like it as much as I do, but rest assured this is an excellent album.  If you are into anything put out by the likes of Snuffy Smiles, Waterslide or SP records, chances are you're going to dig The Crump as well.

The Crump - "Friday":
https://soundcloud.com/imomushi-records/the-crump-friday

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Science of Sound - Kaleidoscope Phonetics 2xLP

Untitled

90s Tapes (2021)

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.

90s Tapes is quickly becoming a label that I trust almost implicitly.  They are focusing on saving lost hip hop from the 90s.  Sometimes it's reissuing records that have been out of print for decades other times it's compiling 12" singles into full length compilations and then there are times where they're digging in the vaults to find something never before released.  Science of Sound kind of straddles those last two.  

The group self released a four song 12" in 1995.  Additionally there was another 12" that had those four songs plus five additional ones, though that seems to have been limited to some test pressings or promos.  Discogs isn't particularly clear on that one, but they certainly look like white labels.  This double LP from 90s Tapes takes all nine of those songs from the two 12"s and adds on six more.  It seems like this is the entire recorded output of Science of Sound.

This group was closely aligned with A Tribe Called Quest.  Tribe produced several songs on this album and Phife appears on "Who Got The Funk," which was produced by Godfather Don.  This really strong golden era stuff.  Jazzy beats, solid hooks (though I do really hate the R&B crooning in "No Diggity" but it's an isolated incident) and lyrical flows that are laid back and on point.  I really dig this album and while 1995 is a little bit past when I stopped paying attention to a lot of hip hop, had I heard this back then, I'm pretty sure I would have been on board.  If it had come out as is in 1993, I know I would have been all over it.

Science of Sound - Kaleidoscope Phonetics:
https://90stapes.bandcamp.com/album/kaleidoscope-phonetics

Monday, September 20, 2021

Bricheros - Live At Hensley 10" - Red Vinyl (/300)

Bricheros - Live At Hensley 10" - Red Vinyl

Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

I've written more than a few times that live records are not typically my thing.  Even for bands that I love, I rarely listen to their live albums.  The only real exceptions to this are Leatherface - Live in Oslo and Bum - Shake Town! Recorded Live.  For everyone else, the live albums tend to just be collection filler.  Now add to that the fact that I've never heard of the band Bricheros, making a live album be my first exposure to them is probably not an ideal situation, but here we go.

The first thing I'll say is that the recording quality on this thing is great, if you didn't tell me it was a live album, I don't think I would have even noticed on most of the songs.  Everything sounds tight, the vocals sound outstanding and are not buried or overblown, which are usually the main problems with live albums.

The songs themselves are pretty standard three chord garage rockers.  There's enough of a pop element to keep me interested, with solid hooks on most of the tracks.  In 2010, I probably would have been even more into it as I was dabbling in this sort of thing a bit more heavily back then.  But even today, I can recognize that this is great little band who, if nothing else, really have their shit together.  Based on what I see on Discogs, they have one other record out, a full length from 2018.  I don't know if that would be an even better introduction to the band than this live 10", but this record is still a pretty darn good first listen.

Bricheros - Live At Hensley:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-hensley

Friday, September 17, 2021

Baby Silverskins - Yarping Down The Tweeds LP

Untitled

Crackle (2021)

Those that know me know that my all time favorite time, place and genre of music is the wonderful UK punk scene that existed during the 90s.  It's a who's who of some of my all favorite bands and some of the best albums I have ever heard sprang from here.  And that's not even mentioning the countless Japanese bands that took (and continue to take) their inspiration from this era.

When I'm making the family tree of these bands, I always put Snuff and Leatherface at the top.  To me, they're the grandfathers of this particular scene and the various bands that sprung up around them are legion.  One of those bands was Baby Silverskins.  A band that I only know from their one song on the Best Punk Rock in England, Man CD compilation.  Their only proper release, a split 7" with Pig Pile, isn't one I ever owned, so when this LP that compiles all of their recorded output was announced, I was pretty excited to get my hands on it.

Listening to it, I know how much I would have loved it if it had been released at the time.  It can sit nicely right next to those early Snuff records, but has moments of sprinting through songs at what feels like a hundred miles an hour.  I personally prefer the songs that aren't quite so manic and the pop sensibilities shine through a little brighter.  That said, the entire record is an excellent listen and just feels right, if that makes any sense.  I'm really glad the Crackle folks brought this back and put it out on vinyl to boot.  Now, someone just needs to get the third Hooton 3 Car record, By Means of Maybe, out on vinyl.

Baby Silverskins - Yarping Down The Tweeds:
https://babysilverskins.bandcamp.com/album/yarping-down-the-tweeds

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Kurious - A Constipated Monkey 2xLP

Untitled

Amalgam (2007, 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.

When I was in high school, I wrote for the school newspaper.  Surprise, I mostly wrote music reviews.  I'm not sure I'm any better at writing them now than I was back then, but I have been at this for almost thirty years now in some capacity.  Reading that sentence back, I should probably be much better at this than I am.  Oh well.  The point in bringing this up is that a lot of the hip hop albums I've been writing about on Wednesdays are albums that I first wrote about when I was in high school.

If you looked at the size, location and demographics of my high school, it would be no surprise that there wasn't much of an audience from vaguely obscure hip hop albums in 1993.  That was crystalized when I reviewed this Kurious record.  One of the things that the English teachers did was they made people write letters to the editor/newspaper staff.  Only one time was one of these letters directed at me, and it was the week I wrote my review of this album.  I wish I could remember what it said word for word, but in a nutshell it said something to the effect of "Seriously Tim, A Constipated Monkey?"  There were then a few lines about how no one had ever heard of most of the stuff I liked.

It remains amusing to me that this is my strongest memory about the Kurious record.  I was kind of disappointed with it when it was initially released.  Kurious had been shouted out on several Hieroglyphics albums by this point and Casual was a guest appearance on "What's The Real."  This is one of those instances where the intervening years have been very kind to Kurious.  I think this album holds up way better than I would have predicted back in the 90s.  It's flat out great in places, particularly with the production prowess of The Beatnuts and the SD50's.

Kurious has a laid back flow and pulls off some impressive verses, but the reason the record sounds so timeless is because of the production.  I feel like this record is somewhat forgotten to the sands of time, but I am grateful that a 2xLP version was put out in 2007.  It took me a while to hunt down a copy at a reasonable price, but it's here now and it sounds great.  Even better than I thought it did in 1993.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Saturday Night Karaoke - Millennial Kicks 7" - Pink Vinyl

Untitled

Waterslide / SP / Bloated Kat / Monster Zero / Quickening (2021)

Saturday Night Karaoke are a band that has been cranking out a good amount of releases over the past few years, this 7" is their most recent and was released on quite a few labels from around the world.  So chances are if you are reading this, there's probably a label close by that you could pick this up from if you wanted it.

I've written about Saturday Night Karaoke before and I kind of stand by my prior statements that they really feel like a Mutant Pop band to me.  They've got that Ramonesy sing-song version of pop punk going on, but I do really like this particular 7" more than a lot of other bands that go down this path.  I hear elements of bands like Walker and there's definitely a kinship with The Hum Hums that I can't not hear.  

It's very easy for this style of pop punk to end up sounding kind of generic and just fade into the background, but Saturday Night Karaoke manage to avoid those traps.  They write genuinely great pop songs with great hooks, killer backing vocals and sweet, sweet melodies. 

Saturday Night Karaoke - Millennial Kicks 7":
https://saturdaynightkaraoke.bandcamp.com/album/millennial-kicks


Friday, September 10, 2021

The Animal Steel - A Surefire Way to Get Sober LP - Lemon Lime Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Snappy Little Numbers (2021)

So your band name is a pro wrestling reference and your record has come out on Snappy Little Numbers?  Well, yeah, chances are that I might be in your demographic.  Following up on a flexi single that came out a few months ago, The Animal Steel drop off a full length album and it has the same sort of style and energy that made me dig the one song on that flexi.

I can't listen to these guys and not hear some Jawbox creeping in on their guitar work.  The drumming is more straight forward and it doesn't delve into the odd time signature thing much, but there's this low rumble with jagged riffs that really make me think about the 90s.  Vocally, I think they have more in common with the RVIVR/Iron Chic set with impassioned delivery and strong melodies.

The songs are all on the longer side with several topping the four minute mark, but it's only a nine song LP so you're still in and out in under forty minutes.  But it's a fun ride for those nine songs. 2021 has been a lean year for new records, but this is one worth checking out.  Not sure I would rank it super high in comparison to years past, but this year it's a standout.

The Animal Steel - A Surefire Way to Get Sober:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/a-surefire-way-to-get-sober

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Coup - Kill My Landlord 2xLP

Untitled

Wild Pitch (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 wasn't aware of Kill My Landlord coming out in 1993.  I blame it on the sheer number of incredible, genre defining releases that came out that year.  I don't recall seeing a Coup video on Yo! MTV Raps and I don't even remember any coverage of this first album in The Source, but we're talking nearly thirty years ago, so it's possible they were there, but I missed them.  Regardless, I'm glad that I eventually caught up to The Coup as their debut album is pretty incredible.

The beats are really tremendous, with big, clear bass lines rumbling along intricate and socially conscious lyrics.  The Coup should be mentioned in the same breath as Public Enemy and X Clan, but where The Coup takes it a bit further is in the way that attack the entire structure of capitalism, the lynch pin of the inequality they are fighting.  It's a heady, thought provoking record, but not one that is done in a preachy or condescending matter.  First and foremost, the songs are great.  That the message is clear and thought provoking is not what I would call a bonus, but something that just adds to a record I'm already predisposed to enjoy.

Again, this is so much in my wheelhouse that I don't really understand how I missed it the first time around.  I'll blame it on availability and the lack of media penetration.  While I dug as deep into hip hop as someone in rural New Jersey could in the early 90s, without access to the internet the way we have now, it was much harder to find out about everything that was out there.

The Coup - Kill My Landlord:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kCv4OntS3uGDdThofKzttyOXzebBLoGxM

Friday, September 3, 2021

J Church - Quetzalcoatl LP

Untitled

Allied (1993)

I've said it a few times over the years, but J Church is on of those bands that I didn't appreciate enough when they were still active.  I had a bunch of split 7"s with their songs on them, typically from buying the record due to the other band.  I had the Camels, Spilled Caronas... picture disc (which I sold or traded away at some point over the years) and I even went to go see them play at The Pipeline in Newark once.  I've said all of this before, but it's only been in recent years that I've really given J Church a real chance.  And predictably, I've tended to like just about everything.

Quetzalcoatl is the first J Church full length.  While I probably don't like it quite as much as I like Arbor Vitae, it's a really strong record packed full of big hooks and sing along choruses.  It's pop punk, but it's pop punk that's more rooted in a punk place than some of the more popular goofy stuff that had the spotlight shone on it so brightly in the mid 90s.  I feel like J Church has way more in common with early Snuff or Leatherface than they do with some of their US contemporaries like Green Day or Mr. T Experience.

But yeah, long story short is that I totally messed up and should have bought their records back then instead of waiting until nearly thirty years later.  I'm going to try to grab their full lengths and probably the singles comps at some point, but I don't think I'll ever dive into their 7"s too much.  That insane singles discography is one of the reasons I found buying their records to be somewhat intimidating back in the 90s.


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Onyx - Bacdafucup LP

Untitled

Def Jam / JMJ / Respect The Classics (2013, 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.

Bacdafucup is one of those CDs that I had when I was in high school that made certain family members wonder what the hell I was getting into.  Not that any of them listened to it, but just the fact that it was called what it was raised a few eyebrows.  I can't say that Onyx was one of my favorites when it came out in 1993.  I liked "Slam" from when I heard it on Yo! and I think I got the CD from BMG or Columbia House during one of those ten CDs for a penny gimmicks.  But listening to it again in the last few years, I appreciate it more now than I did then.

What makes it stand out, like so many albums of that era, is how great the beats are.  I love this era of hip hop and how the snare just cracks along with rumbling bass lines.  Lyrically, Onyx isn't anything special.  They're a group of gravely voiced MCs that stand out for sure as being unique, but the vocals can be a bit much from time to time.

Bacdafucup probably isn't one of those records I'd be prone to put on all that often, but there are moments where it is kind of the perfect album to listen to, for reasons I'm not really able to articulate.  Plus this is one of the albums i had as a kid and I am still working through my goal of picking up everything I had back then on vinyl.  One more down.

Onyx - Bacdafucup:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_m2P0AWCX11B6gQwzcRAKAR9lx3YKNYuRA