Friday, July 1, 2022

Leatherface - Cherry Knowle LP (2022 Remaster)

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Rad Girlfriend / Little Rocket (2022, Reissue)

Leatherface is one of my top three all time favorite bands and I certainly go out of my way to make sure I have all of their records.  But, if I'm being honest (since obviously I usually do nothing but lie on this site), Cherry Knowle was not the album of theirs that I typically listened to very much.  Don't get me wrong, there's some pretty great songs on here, but when compared to the albums that followed, it's not in the same league.

When this recent reissue was announced, I thought I could pass on it.  Sure, there were limited colored variants, but again, I just don't listen to the album much and already have two versions of it, so what's the point.  Then Kazu from Waterslide records hipped me to the fact that it was remastered and remastered in a way where it actually sounded quite different from the original.  So, I decided to grab a copy - but it was sold out.  Except on Amazon, for whatever reason.  Not really where I would usually want to buy my punk rock records, but you do what you have to do sometimes.

With that, I can say that this remaster really does sound different.  It's fuller, warmer and the melody of these songs really shine through in a way that I don't think they did before.  You can hear more intricacies and tone.  The songs and in particular, the guitars sound much more purposeful and less wall-of-noise-y.  The wall is still there, but you can hear what's going on in it much better now.

Songs like "Postwar Product of a Fat Man's Wallet" and "Discipline" hit much harder on this version, and those were pretty phenomenal songs to begin with.  I think this is definitely worth picking up whether you have the original or not.  If you don't have it at all, well, duh.  You need this.  If you have another pressing, this one is improved enough to warrant a repurchase.

Leatherface - Cherry Knowle:
https://radgirlfriendrecords.bandcamp.com/album/cherry-knowle

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Kaotic Style - A Diamond in the Ruff LP

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Dope Folks (2018)

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.

Kaotic Style seemed to have mostly been active in the 1990-1996 era and only really had a few underground singles to their name.  They aren't a group I ever heard about back then as my only exposure to hip hop where I lived was Yo! MTV Raps and The Source.  I'm not going to say it was out of the question that they may have gotten one of their EPs written up in The Source at some point, but I certainly do not remember it.

Dope Folks is one of those great labels that are digging deep to find the forgotten gems of early 90s hip hop.  They've put out some really interesting releases, though I have to say that this Kaotic Style record may be my favorite of the bunch.  The production is really strong with interesting samples, some familiar, some not, but all used in a really cool way.

Lyrically, the two main MCs (Big Grand and Scram) can hang with all but the elite of golden era lyricists.  They're not out of this world wordsmiths, but they are both steady, creative and more than hold their own over the excellent beats they are working with.  

The only thing about this LP that I think is odd is that the song "Intro" is at the beginning of the second side instead of starting off the album.  I assume that's to maintain the integrity of the track order of the EP version of this that originally came out in '94, but it strikes me as being kind of weird from a flow standpoint.  That minor critique aside, this is definitely a record worth checking out if you're looking for new-to-you golden era tunes.

Kaotic Style - A Diamond in the Ruff (This is just the 5 songs from the EP that came out in 94, this LP has 10 songs in total):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUlUNcHxXc0&ab_channel=Rare%26UnfamiliarHipHopUndergroundAndVintage

Monday, June 27, 2022

Night Court - Nervous Birds Too Cassette

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Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

A few weeks ago I wrote about volume one in the Nervous Birds double cassette epic from the band known as Night Court.  That one came out in December and this second tape was just released in May.  I tried to get this one written about a bit more timely than the last one.  But I'm just one guy with two ears and can only consume so much music at a time (which seems to be getting harder and harder each year that I continue to age).

Nervous Birds Too isn't really any different from Nervous Birds One.  And I am one hundred percent, completely fine with that.  In fact, I applaud it, because this is exactly the sort of thing I want to hear more and more of.  Tight, catchy songs with someone rough, lower fidelity production.  It captures all of the energy of the songs but never sacrifices the insane amount of hooks.

Last time I mentioned that this is a group that's straddling catchy garage rock like So Cow or Wavves, but is also putting in a Pavement-y indie rock perspective and I stand by that statement for this tape as well.  This is great stuff, so great that I will now insert my annoying comment that I wish these had also been released on vinyl. Tapes, you know?

Night Court - Nervous Birds Too:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/nervous-birds-too

Friday, June 24, 2022

The Muppet Movie Original Soundtrack Recording LP - Green Vinyl

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iam8bit (2022, Reissue)

About ten years ago I picked up a copy of this record as part of a trade that didn't quite pan out and wrote about it here.  As I mentioned, the condition of the record wasn't so hot and I had hoped to get a better conditioned copy at some point.  Well, that point is now as iam8bit has reissued the album with new, fancy artwork.  I will admit, the art is a big draw for me on this one.  I think it looks incredible and is exactly to sort of thing that I want to have hanging out on the record shelves.

As nice as the art is, it's the music that has always been the main draw for me.  I have always loved the songs on this album and "Can You Picture That," "Rainbow Connection" and "Movin' Right Along" are just classic, classic songs.  Sure, I could do without "Never Before, Never Again," but it's in the movie and I get it's inclusion, but I will never understand why they also put an instrumental version of the song on again right after the vocal version.  Odd choice and was always something I skipped as a kid.

But this sounds great, it looks great and is one of those cornerstone albums for me from when I was a young kid.  Really, my only complaint is that the record labels aren't the old school red and green Atlantic labels.  The new ones look great, but watching the red and green label spin is one of those endearing memories from when I was a younger fellow.

The Muppet Movie Original Soundtrack Recording:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_ksbsRmSZvICYrDeXFmo1KEdlr7J14E-ls


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Record Store Day Haul #3: The Brand New Heavies - Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1

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Craft / Delicious Vinyl (2022, 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.

And this is a pretty on point mash up of Record Store Day and Ed Lover Dance Day.  This one came out on the second RSD Drop date this past weekend, I assume because it probably just wasn't able to get pressed in time for round one.  I loved this Brand New Heavies album when it came out in 1992 and this is one of the last few hip hop albums I had on CD as a youngster but had not yet replaced with the vinyl version.  There's not a whole lot of those left to find, but this was a big one.

The 'beats' are provided by The Brand New Heavies who bring a funk sensibility to the proceeding.  They are a full on band, live everything, setting the groove.  Then on top of that, we have some of the best MCs from 1992 joining the party.  Gang Starr shows up for arguably the best track on here, "It's Gettin Hectic."  We've got Main Source, Masta Ace, Kool G. Rap, Black Sheep and The Pharcyde all nailing their appearances.  And we have the omnipresent in 1992 Grand Puba whose "Who Makes The Loot?" probably is the one song battling Gang Starr for the title of best song on the record.  In all seriousness, I feel like Grand Puba made a guest appearance on just about every record that came out in '92.  Dude was everywhere.

I'm stoked this was finally rereleased.  I had been watching Discogs for a copy for quite some time, but it always seemed a bit too pricey and only ever seemed to be sold by overseas sellers.  But now I have a brand new, great sounding and appropriately orange copy.  Definitely worth checking out if you missed it the first time around.  I had no problem picking this up late into the morning on Record Store Day and I've seen more that a few websites still selling copies, so they're out there.

The Brand New Heavies - Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kbd5OdFZI9a4W8xUJoKdFx65hnlJT5gV4

Friday, June 17, 2022

Klazo - 'Demik Dementia

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Big Neck / No Front Teeth (2022)

When it comes to bands on Big Neck records, I find that I'm usually presented with a band I was not previously aware of before and Klazo is no exception.  They are a two-piece act, making the equivalent noise of a six piece.  In that way, they remind me a little bit of godheadSilo.  Just a wall of distortion and drums, though Klazo has more of a garage vibe and the songs are, in general, much faster than what godheadSilo would typically crank out.

Vocally, I hear a little bit of The Blind Shake, mostly in the yelpy sort of delivery, but Klazo is definitely less melodic than The Blind Shake are.  And when you combine the vocals and the music, you certainly get a band bristling with energy and it honestly comes together in a way that has me liking it a lot more than I would have expected if you described it to me.

I am guilty for leaning into groups that are more melodic, but there's something to be said about a band that's just got their foot on the gas pedal, smashing it into the floor.  The energy and the vibe from these guys is more than enough to make up for a shortage of super obvious hooks.

Klazo - 'Demik Dementia:
https://bigneckrecords1.bandcamp.com/album/demik-dementia


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Rumpletilskinz - What Is A Rumpletilskin? LP

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RCA (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.

This one is definitely a deep cut from my youth.  I'm not entirely sure where I first heard of Rumpletilskinz.  It had to be either from Yo! MTV Raps or The Source, but I think it was probably Yo!  The reason I think that is because when I was hunting for this LP I learned that the group was affiliated with Leaders of the New School.  If I had read about it in The Source, that's something I would have probably known at the time, but it was news to me when I found out recently.

It isn't surprising though.  While I would classify Rumpletilskinz as being a bit more 'rugged' than Leaders, they clearly have similarities, particularly in the way the lean on gang vocals to spice up their rhymes.  Another group that they remind me of a bit is Das Efx.   Not because they're using the 'diggity' flow or anything like that, but they have a mood that feels similar and the beat also have a little bit of a grimy sound to them.

I don't remember loving the Rumpletilskinz album back when I bought it in '93.  It's clearly not one that I spent as much time with back then, but listening to it now givers me a whole new appreciation for what they were trying to do.  It's really good golden era hip hop.  Strong beats, solid rhymes and a throwback to a time where even a group on the margins could end up with a major label deal and a video on Yo! MTV Raps.

Rumpletilskinz - What Is A Rumpletilskin?:

Monday, June 13, 2022

Good Grief – Shake Your Faith LP - Yellow Vinyl

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Everything Sucks / Happy Happy Birthday To Me (2022)

I'm pretty sure that the first time I saw the name Good Grief, it was because of a split 7" they released with BuzzorHowl on Boss Tuneage/Drunken Sailor, though I think the first time I actually heard them was their contribution to the All In Vinyl split 7" series in 2016.  The contributed half of a 7" with Future Virgins on the other side.  I really liked their songs in particular, so I've just been keeping an eye on them ever since.

Now, granted I'm not sure that I figured it would be six years before the next release came out, but there are a lot of things about 2022 that I don't think I could have seen coming in 2016.  But hey, Shake Your Faith is here and I think it was worth the wait.  Good Grief have a strong pop punk foundation, but layered on top of that is a Pavement/Archers of Loaf sort of indie rock vibe that meshes beautifully with those strong hooks.

My pop punk bias does set in though, as I inevitably tend to enjoy the faster, hookier songs on the album the most.  "How Can I Help Falling In Love," "New Town" and "The Oldest Thing On Earth" are the songs that I keep going back to the most, but the entire album is a great listen.  It just has that vibe of an upbeat and warm record, perfect for a weekend morning where you're not quite sure if you need to get motivated to start your day or revel in the fact that you don't really have to do anything and could just as easily hang out in your pajamas all day.

Good Grief - Shake Your Faith:
https://hhbtm.bandcamp.com/album/shake-your-faith

Friday, June 10, 2022

Record Store Day Haul #2: Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95 2xLP - Orange Vinyl & Green Vinyl

Record Store Day Haul #2: Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95 2xLP - Orange Vinyl & Green Vinyl

Merge (2022, Reissue)

When I pulled up to Factory Records for Record Store Day at 11am, I thought there might be a chance the Czarface record might be there as it was a pretty big pressing.  I had way less confidence that they'd still have Superchunk still floating around, but what do you know, there was one left.

This is an older Superchunk singles comp that came out back in the 90s and was one that I only had on CD.  I'd never grabbed the vinyl version, so I was excited that it was finally being reissued as a double LP.  These are great Superchunk songs from when they were arguably at the height of their powers, cranking out classic after classic.  They dipped into some slower albums after this though came rocketing back in 2010 with Magesty Shredding.

This year they put out another new record, but it's kind of back to sleepytime Superchunk and to be honest I haven't really connected with it.  But hearing the songs on this comp again just reminds me that no matter what, this is a band that has put so much good into the world.  Just because I'm not feeling the new record doesn't mean it's time to write them off.  I'm very confident they could come back with another ripper.

Superchunk - Incidental Music 1991-95:
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/album/incidental-music-1991-1995

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Record Store Day Haul #1: Czarface - Czarmageddon LP

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Silver Age (2022)

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 I wrote about on Monday. I went to a new to me record store for Record Store Day this year.  I honestly didn't have high hopes that they would be stocking the records I needed, but I figured it would just be nice to get out of the house for an hour or two if nothing else.  Low and behold, they had both records I needed and the first one is the new Czarface album.

I fell into Czarface later than probably everybody, but I have been trying to make up for lost time.  Their new record is great, full of the sort of old school drum cracks and full, rich sounding samples that I find completely missing in modern hip hop.  Lyrically, Esoteric and Inspectah Deck dig into some deep nerdy cuts spinning tales and references about comic books, sci fi, pro wrestling and just about anything else that you probably had some passing interest in when you were a kid.  Combine that with the top notch production and you've got something pretty good going.

I can't say I really dig the track "Big Em Up," but aside from that there are eleven songs that fit right in with the sort of hip hop I want to listen to.  Especially when Kool Keith shows up on "Fearless & Inventive" talking about IG-88 and Dengar.  I'm not exactly sure how this Record Store Day version differs from anything else.  It comes with trading cards, but best I can tell any other version of the vinyl you can buy online also seems to have trading cards.  Maybe they'll just disappear on an eventual repress.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Record Store Visit: Factory Records - Dover, NJ - 04/23/22

 Untitled

The best record store that was left in New Jersey was Vintage Vinyl.  Sadly, it finally shut down on July 31, 2021.  That was my usual haunt when Record Store Day came around, though I gave up waiting in line for hours before the store opened many years ago.  But I did still like to get out on RSD and just sort of see the sights and pick through the leftovers.

This year, there were actually three records that I wanted.  In perusing the RSD website, I saw that Factory Records in Dover was supposedly participating.  This was a new record store that had opened up in the past couple of years that I'd never been to.  it's also only about 20 minutes away.  From what I'd seen about them online, I wasn't really sure that they would stock the sort of records that I was looking for, but I decided to pop over there at around 11am, figuring most of the early morning chaos was probably over.

I wasn't really expecting to find the RSD releases I wanted, plus of the three I was after, one of them ended up getting pushed back to the second June RSD drop.  But I went in and was greeted at the door by a really nice guy who asked if I'd been here before, I said no and that it was my fist time and he just told me a little bit about the store.  Very nice.  Then I went into the store, which is pretty damn big

They had a whole special room set aside for Record Store Day releases.  You were given a ticket and they essentially started a timer where you had ten or fifteen minutes to start going through the RSD releases, no backtracking, just work your way around the room.  Super organized.  And amazingly, they had both of the records I was looking for at 11am after being opened for many hours.  A real treat.

After gathering my RSD bounty, I perused the rest of the store.  Very big, lots of record and they were organized really well.  They definitely have a focus on used records and reissues, but the selection was solid and the condition of the used records were top notch (aside from the 'dollar bin' stuff towards the back, but that's the point of that section).  If you are looking to deep dive into a specific or obscure genre, this probably isn't the best place for that.  The curation is pretty broad, but it is expansive and I did find a used Souls of Mischief record that I had been looking for.

I definitely wish it had a stronger punk rock section and that there was a bit more emphasis on 7"s that weren't 60s and 70s rock jukebox type records.  But, considering where it is and how long they have been open, I thought I was a pretty fun day and a great store.  

I don't even really know if being the type of record store that has a super deep and specific focus on a genre is really even in their plans, though I do think that Vintage Vinyl did a great job of stocking the obvious, while also digging deep due to knowledgable staff.  

Maybe Factory Records will get there at some point, but for now they're a store that is starting off strong and I'll definitely be heading back there this weekend to try to get the last RSD release I was looking for that got pushed back from the original date.

Friday, June 3, 2022

The Get Up Kids - Two EPs: Red Letter Day and Woodson

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Defiance (2002)

I will never claim to be the biggest Get Up Kids fan in the world, but man oh man did I just love the Woodson EP and the other assorted singles that came out before and right around the time of their first album.  I like their first record Four Minute Mile just fine, but it's the stuff that came out leading up to it that really is what got my attention.  By the time that second album with the robots on the cover came out, they had changed into something I didn't really have any interest in.

But let's get back to Woodson.  I have the two 7"s that make up the Woodson CD EP, but let's be honest, it is something of a hassle to pull out two 7"s in order to listen to four songs.  I recently discovered this German vinyl release of Woodson and the Red Letter Day EP.  I had Red Letter Day as a 10" on green vinyl, but I sold it, probably about ten to fifteen years ago.  Pretty sure I got a decent amount for it, but I hadn't listened to it in ages.

When this record came in I relistened to the Red Letter Day side and you know what, those songs are pretty decent.  They're not as good as the ones from Woodson, but they're probably just as good as the first album, which I also haven't listened to in forever.  The four Woodson songs still rule.  I only wish they put the version of "I'm A Loner Dottie, a Rebel" from the Braid split on here too, then it would have been perfect.


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Leaders of the New School - T.I.M.E. 2xLP

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Elektra (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 was super into the first Leaders of the New School album A Future Without a Past.  "Case of the PTA" was a song that really resonated with me when I used to see the video on Yo! MTV Raps.  Then there was the star making performance by the Leaders on "Scenario."  I was pretty excited when T.I.M.E. was being released and while I don't really have any memories of seeing any videos for it on Yo!, I definitely got the record right away when it was released.

I was very disappointed in it and never really listened to it.  I've just always mentally filed T.I.M.E. as a bad second record and then they broke up.  Within the last couple of years I decided to listen to it again to see if I missed something the first time around.  Well, I missed everything somehow.  I cannot possibly tell you what I was looking for in 1993 that this album didn't deliver because when I listen to it today, it's pretty great.

The production is classic golden era style beats, rich and full of life.  The vocals are stellar from all 2 MCs and while Busta Rhymes certainly steals the spotlight on a pretty regular basis, Dinco D and Charlie Brown constantly prove that they were criminally overlooked on the mic.  This LP hasn't been reissued at all, unlike Leaders' debut, so it took me a while to find a decently priced copy in good condition.  This one sounds amazing and only has a promo notch cut out of the cover, so it will fit the bill admirably for me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Del The Funky Homosapien & Tame One – Parallel Uni-Verses LP - Purple Vinyl

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Parallel Thought Ltd. (2018, 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.

Even though Del the Funky Homosapien is My favorite all-time hip hop artist, sometimes I still find myself not able to keep up with his various releases.  He always seems to be working on something and this 2009 team up album with Tame One was no exception.  I had no clue this was a thing in 2009, it wasn't until the 2018 vinyl version was pressed did it pop up on my radar.  When it did I was kind of surprised that of all people to do an album with, it was Tame One from Atrifacts.

Don't get me wrong, Artifacts a great and represent NJ very well in the world of hip hop.  I just never really pegged them as out there as Del can be at times.  What really surprised me was just how well they did end up working together.  In some ways it reminds me a lot of how well Del meshes with Casual.  Tame One, like Cas, keeps things moving and while I can't call his performance on this album straightforward, it's certainly more grounded than Del and as a result the song structures feel a bit more sturdy.

Del really brings the heat on this one.  Since he only tackles half of the vocals, it's even more impactful when he cuts in with his trademark flow, dropping complicated lyrical structures and rhymes.  The production is pretty solid.  While it's certainly more of a modern sound than the usual golden era boom bap that I prefer, the bass if full and the drums have an aggressive crack to them.  It doesn't sound like some of the minimalist bullshit that seems so popular these days.  These beats have teeth to them, even if the samples are a little more spacey than the more soul and funk driven style that I tend to prefer.

Del The Funky Homosapien & Tame One – Parallel Uni-Verses:
https://parallelthought1.bandcamp.com/album/parallel-uni-verses

Friday, May 20, 2022

despAIR jordan - Before Your Wings Gave Out 12" - Gray Vinyl

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Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

despAIR jordan (did they think people might not get the joke if they didn't capitalize AIR?) is a Denver based band, like so many others that are part of the Snappy Little Numbers universe.  They also sound completely different than pretty much any other band on SNL which is part of the reason that I'm always interested to see what the label will do next.  Though admittedly, I tend to like the pop punk sounding stuff the best.

despAIR jordan is not pop punk.  They have a late 80s, early 90s shoegaze alternative sound that makes me think of bands like The Cure or Depeche Mode, particularly in regards to the vocals.  The songs are pretty slow, deliberate and long.  there are six songs on the vinyl, though the download comes with four extras.  I'm not sure if it was a timing reason that those songs weren't on the vinyl or if it's because it would have been too long to fit everything.

I can't say this is my favorite record I've heard lately.  I like my rock a bit crunchier and/or more upbeat and these songs kind of just feel like downers to me.  That said, they do as good a job as anyone with this style of music.  The musicianship is strong and the production is great.  It's just that for me, this kind of thing just tends to fade into the background when I listen to it.

despAIR jordan - Before Your Wings Gave Out:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/before-your-wings-gave-out-deluxe-digital-with-hell-year-ep

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rocket From The Crypt – Live From Camp X-Ray LP - Yellow w/ Black Splatter Vinyl

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Vagrant (2022, Reissue)

And here is the second bonus post of the week.  Because I missed Monday and because there isn't much to say about two records that I've already written about five other times each, I decided to post these on Tuesday and Thursday - days that I typically don't write anything.  Thus, bonus.

Another reissue of Live From Camp X-Ray, this time on yellow w/ black splatter.  I don't understand vinyl colors that have nothing to do with the artwork or color scheme, but alas, not all share that opinion.  No matter the vinyl color, if you put a Rocket From The Crypt record in front of me, I will buy it.

Rocket From The Crypt – Live From Camp X-Ray:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nKnmzeI1FIkTtSDffvbLqcPOwW_sQhUt0

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over LP

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Get On Down (2018, 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.

Tha Alkaholiks are one of those Golden Era hip hop groups that I was absolutely aware of back when I was in high school, but I didn't have any of their records and I don't remember seeing their videos on Yo! MTV Raps.  They're probably just another one of those acts that I read about in The Source but was not ever able to follow up on due to access or financial limitations, so I hadn't heard anything of theirs until the last few years.

The real highlight here is how great the beats are throughout the album.  They're cobbled together with quirky, funky bass lines and trunk thumping percussion.  As MCs, these boys hold their own for sure, though I can't say any of them really comes off as being an elite lyricist.  They carry the songs just fine though and I find myself engaged the whole time.  There's more sophomoric references to being drunk than I think are necessary, but again in general the lyrics are solid and compliment the production.

I do think I would have liked this even more if I had been able to hear it back in 1993 when it originally came out.  Coming at it twenty plus years later was cool, as it's always nice to hear something new that sounds like the sort of hip hop I enjoy listening to, but if I had been able to live with the record more intently as a youngster I can only assume it would have stuck with me pretty good.

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mJuHTafRFFmShFygn8Bk_SJUNbUrXRvcs

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Rocket From The Crypt – Group Sounds LP - Orange w/ Black & White Splatter

Untitled

Vagrant (2022, Reissue)

I wasn't able to get anything written up for yesterday, so I'm going to throw out a couple of bonus posts today and Thursday to make up for it.  Also because neither of these records really warrant a full on write up, since they are just different colored vinyl variants of records I have opined on numerous times in the past.  Vagrant just seems intent on giving me the option to buy these records over and over again.

And speaking of, here it is: the newest version of Group Sounds.  This time it's pressed using the orange with black splatter color way that's typically more associated with Live From Camp X-Ray.  But, I am an annoying variant hunter for Rocket From The Crypt, so I must keep the collection up to date.  It's also an amazing record, but you can read about why in one of the other five posts I've put up about this record.

Rocket From The Crypt - Group Sounds: 
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6lTOyJ0taau3r39jaedwqgMTAlHG4z1o

Friday, May 13, 2022

Sugar - File Under Easy Listening LP

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Merge (2012, Reissue)

This purchase probably wasn't one hundred percent necessary, but my original copy of File Under Easy Listening is nearly thirty years old at this point.  It still sounds great, but as this is one of my absolute favorite albums, I thought it made sense to grab a copy of the Merge reissue when I saw it go on sale.  For the price, it just seemed like a very worthwhile investment.

The bonus is that the vinyl really sounds great.  It's full and warm sounding, perfectly highlighting those big crunchy guitar riffs.  I know that a lot of people (and what feels to me like a majority) point to Husker Du as Bob Mould's greatest work.  For me, I'll take Sugar every time.  And even more controversial is that I think File Under Easy Listening is superior to Copper Blue.  Take that world.

I'm sure that has something to do with the fact that this album was the first Bob Mould related release that I ever bought.  And it doesn't hurt that I am borderline obsessed with the song "Gee Angel."  Top to bottom I love every song on this album though.  It probably just entered my consciousness at just the right time and has stayed with me all of these years later.

Sugar - File Under Easy Listening:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lvHmVzheRcXQV_2-QviaypWdxhDoMUcp8

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

X Clan - To The East, Blackwards LP

Untitled

4th & B'way (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.

When I was in high school I had the second X Clan album Xodus.  I really dug it, though would occasionally get fed up with Professor X's Emo Phillips style delivery.  I knew some of the singles from their first album from Yo! MTV Raps, but I never owned it until now.  

This one was a little tougher to track down than Xodus.  I got Xodus on Discogs for about twenty dollars and it was still sealed.  For To The East, Blackwards I had to hunt for a while to find a copy that was in good condition and was an affordable price.  I assume because this album seems to be the more popular and fondly remembered of their two records.  I'm not sure I would agree with that ranking, but I do know it's a great record.

I think the reason I would give the edge to Xodus rests solely on the production.  The bar of hip hop production was raised by such an incredible amount between 1990 and 1992.  X Clan followed suit and Xodus has beats that I think sound fuller and are more interesting.  But that's not to take anything away from this record.  Judging by 1990 standards, the beats are pretty great.  Brother J just tears it apart every time he touches a mic and Professor X's random interjections are pretty entertaining.

Considering some of the more obscure hip hip records that have been rereleased in recent years, I'm pretty surprised no one has touched X Clan yet.  Maybe the rights are tied up in some annoying conglomerate, but I think both of their records are deserving of wider availability.

X Clan - To The East, Blackwards:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mv_uN4zq1L7-pjh-H0_dLo01OWuC06oIA

Monday, May 9, 2022

Harshmellow - Wrong From Right 7" - Orange Vinyl /1000

Untitled

DDC (2022)

A particularly influential band in the early days of my punk rock discovery, and a long time favorite, is fluf.  Their early 90s records on Headhunter are some of the records I've probably listened to more than most others.  I spent a lot of time back then hunting down their 7"s.  I also joined their "Value Club" back then to get the membership card and exclusive 7".  Not sure what happened to the card (where they took a picture I sent them and drew a mustache on it), but the record is still tucked away safely.

Harshemellow is a new band fronted by O from fluf and it has the same sort of big, crunchy guitar tones and melodic vocals that I've been missing for so very long.  It's a three song 7"er with two originals and an X cover.  Everything is great and the two originals, in particular, get me really excited about hearing more from Harshmellow.  

The songs are perfectly upper-mid tempo slices of rock and roll.  The hooks are memorable and hit exactly the way I would want them to.  And it's just really cool to hear O singing again.  He's got a really memorable voice that, like an old pair of slippers, just sort of feels comfortable and reliable.  Something that's been part of the soundtrack of my life for such a long time.  It's great to have it back.  From what I see on their instagram, it appears they're working on a full length and I cannot wait to get my hands on that.

Harshmellow - Wrong From Right 7":
https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=nx3zkNeOdDs&list=OLAK5uy_nBcTjBCRksity-UwM2jYBacIdZ74fLk7c


Friday, May 6, 2022

Pavement - Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal CD

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Matador (2022)

Your eyes do not deceive you.  I have, in fact, purchased the CD version of an album that was also available on vinyl.  There were multiple reasons for this, not the least of which was the $80 price differential between the two.  But on top of that, only two of the super deluxe Pavement albums have been released on vinyl.  If Slanted & Enchanted, Crooked Rain or Wowee Zowee were available, I probably would have picked this up on vinyl as well, just to keep the collection complete.  Since I have all of the other deluxes on CD, it made sense to keep up the consistency there.  Lastly, Terror Twilight has always been my least favorite Pavement record and after delving through all of the demos and B sides of the era I can still say that to be true.

When Terror Twilight came out I wasn't impressed.  I know that's a feeling shared by many, but unlike the vast majority of people out there, I hadn't liked Brighten The Corners that much either.  The peak to me was always Wowee Zowee, though I adored everything that came before it as well.  I felt then, as I do now, that Terror Twilight is just kind of boring.  There some nice songs like Major Leagues and Spit On A Stranger, but nothing that really jumps out as being unique in the way I always felt Pavement was.  One of the reasons I didn't like Brighten The Corners as much as the other albums was because it felt too safe.  It was straightforward.  But if you compare it to Terror Twilight, it's practically avant garde.

When it comes to bonus material, there's not really anything particularly exciting here either.  One of the new unreleased songs, "Be The Hook," is pretty fun, but not remarkable.  And since they stuck it on a reissued 12" single of Spit On A Stranger, I'll probably just grab that so I can have it on vinyl.  Most everything else is demos that don't really differ too much from the final product aside from fidelity and a few B sides that I already have on a bunch of singles.  I am glad that they finally put this out, just so the collection is complete, but it's probably not something I'll listen to very much.  I have the main album on vinyl if I get the urge, the odds and ends are mostly just the sort of things that sit on a CD rack.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Yall So Stupid - Van Full Of Pakistans

Untitled

Rowdy (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.

This is another excellent discovery I made recently as I tried to dig into older hip hop that I missed the first time around.  Yall So Stupid is a group that I definitely remember the name of from back in the 90s, though honestly the Van Full Of Pakistans album title is what I really remember.  I'm positive I read about it or maybe saw ads for it in The Source.  I don't remember seeing them on Yo! at all and I'm pretty sure that means I never actually heard them back then.

I did stumble across Yall So Stupid on one of those overlooked records of the 90s type lists and checked it out.  And it's great.  Exactly the sort of early 90s stuff that I love.  It has rich, full production with interesting bass lines and hard hitting drum loops.  Yall So Stupid is a multi MC group and each member more than holds their own over the course of this record.  They all weave complex flows through the songs and play well off of each other both when they pass the mic back and forth and also jumping in on gang vocals for the hooks.

The one thing that's a little bit of a bummer is that the vinyl is missing four songs that are on the CD, but yet they managed to fit on six interlude skit things.  I'm on record as not being a huge fan of hip hop skits, though these ones aren't really all that annoying to be honest.  What irks me is that they could have fit on at least one of the missing songs if they cut out the skits,  This is an album just screaming for a double LP reissue that includes all of the tracks.  Looking at you 90s tapes.

Yall So Stupid - "Introduce Me":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3Bp9WMbe9I&ab_

Monday, May 2, 2022

Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray LP

Untitled

Salinas (2022)

Oh man, I was so excited when this new Quaker Wedding LP showed up in the mail.  I was such a big fan of their debut LP and the lathe cut 7" that came out last year only whetted my appetite for more songs.  Total Disarray is everything I wanted in a follow up and I'm just blown away with how great is is.

Now, the easy and lazy comparison to make is that there are elements of Jawbreaker present when you listen to Quaker Wedding.  They don't flat out sound like Jawbreaker, but the influence is there and it's just one of those bands that you kind of have to bring up.  If I mention Jawbreaker, chances are you've heard of them and know what they sound like.  And, there's a pretty good chance that if you're reading my website you probably like Jawbreaker at least a little bit and maybe would then be more inclined to check out Quaker Wedding.  It's a win/win comparison, but that still doesn't make me feel any better about writing it.

For me personally, I hear a sound similar to a great, forgotten 90s band from Davis, CA called Playground.  There's the same sort of churning rhythm section laying the foundation for guitar action, sometimes in the form of furious riffage and other times just some light, textural strumming that's inevitable building to a raucous chorus.  

The other big touchstone for me is the endlessly hook-filled, but rough and gravelly vocals.  I'm certainly partial to that sort of thing and Quaker Wedding doesn't disappoint with songs just begging to be sung along to in your car, maybe driving slightly faster than you intended.  There's been some outstanding records so far in 2022, it's been the best year for new records in quite some time already.  But, Quaker Wedding might not have the same sort of spotlight on them as some of the other records that have come out.  It's up to you to make sure you don't miss one of the absolute highlights of the year.

Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray:
https://quakerwedding.bandcamp.com/album/total-disarray

Friday, April 29, 2022

Superchunk - Wild Loneliness LP - Green w/ Yellow Splatter Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2022)

Kind of weird to not be writing about Godzilla on Friday now.  Luckily there are more Toho soundtracks on the horizon.  When I wrote about the Endless Summer 7" on Monday, I had noted that I sat on it for a while and didn't write about it in a timely manner.  Part of that was limited days to write about rock music while the Godzilla and Ed Lover days were taking up two of my three review spots of the week.  But the other side was that I just wasn't very excited by the song.  I was hopeful that I'd be more impressed with the full length.  Sadly, I am not.

I don't really know what to say about Wild Loneliness.  It's not like it's a bad record with bad songs.  The songs themselves are beautifully written and performed.  There's an attention to detail and craft that you're not going to find just anywhere, but I think what it boils down to is that I just find the record kind of boring.  It's so loaded full of acoustic guitar strumming over slow tempo songs that whenever I put it on, it fades into the background and I find that I'm not paying much attention to it after a while.

There's ten songs on the album and nine of them are pretty much as I described above, slow.  The only time Superchunk kicks it up a bit is on the eighth song "Refracting."  It's easily the best song on the album and at least contains a little bit of the energy that is what I want out of a Superchunk record.  It takes all sorts of fans to keep a band going for as long as Superchunk has been.  I'm sure there will be a contingent of fans that will like this, particularly amongst the Indoor Living/Come Pick Me Up set.  For me, this will just end up as a Superchunk record on my shelf as I just can't imagine picking it up when there's a double digit amount of better albums sitting right next to it.

Superchunk - Wild Loneliness:
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/album/wild-loneliness

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Beastie Boys - Ill Communication 2xLP

Untitled

Capitol / Grand Royal (2009, 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 have developed a pretty crazy pile of backlogged hip hop albums that I haven't gotten to write about yet.  Some of them are probably over a year old at this point, which is kind of nutty, but I'm gradually making my way through them.  One of the oldest in the pile is Ill Communication something I picked up quite a while ago when the record was popping in and out of print for a bit there. I like the Beastie Boys a lot, but I'm also kind of picky with them regarding what albums I actually like and even them I'm kind of critical on what I consider filler on those albums.  Ill Communication, while not my favorite Beasties album, is probably the best one to listen to straight through without running into tracks that slow things down.

This album originally came out in 1994, which was such a huge year for me music wise.  I was starting to get a little disgruntled with hip hop (see: Warren G & Nate Dogg type nonsense) and getting into Beck had started to open my eyes into the world of indie rock and punk.  Ill Communication was probably one of the last hip hop albums that came out in 94 that really clicked with me.  It has some pretty killer songs on it like "Sure Shot," "Root Down," "Flute Loop" and the untouchable "Get It Together."  You're going to have a hard time finding many albums with four songs that great on it.

It also has "Sabotage."  That's a song that I do not understand at all.  I didn't like it in 1994 and I still don't really like it.  I don't care how cool the video is, it still just sounds like a bunch of yelling to me.  But what do I know, I really dislike the song "Intergalactic" as well and I know plenty of people who swear by that one.

I'll never like this one quite as much as I like Check Your Head and I think a lit of that is time and place.  Check Your Head hit in the middle of my complete and unadulterated fixation with hip hop, but the time Ill Communication came out, I was starting to get ready to move on to other things.  The album truly holds up great and in a lot of ways I like it more now than I did when it first came out, but I think that if it had been released just a year earlier, I probably would have been completely obsessed with it.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Superchunk - Endless Summer 7" - Yellow Vinyl

Untitled

Merge (2021)

I sat on this 7" for a bit too long.  It's no longer a precursor for an upcoming LP as the LP has been out for a little bit now.  But, I figured I should probably document this 7" before I get into the full length in the next few posts.  

"Endless Summer" is a song from the full length and is a Superchunk original.  It's a mid tempo song with its foundation built off the strumming of an acoustic guitar.  It has the nice melodies of a typical Superchunk song, but for me it's just a little too slow.  When I look at the Superchunk catalog, I tend to be into the faster songs and albums like Indoor Living are ones that I tend to not revisit as often.  This song is more in line with that sort of lower key Superchunk sound.

The B side is a cover song called "When I Laugh."  It was originally done by a band called The Glands, though I can't say that I'm familiar with the original.  The Superchunk version is alright.  Like "Endless Summer" it's solidly mid tempo.  Nothing too fast or frantic here.  Good hooks, mellow vibes - again a totally fine song.  I'm just used to expecting a bit more than 'fine' from Superchunk.  They had been on a tear lately and it's odd to me that they left turned back to mellow stuff.

Superchunk - "Endless Summer":
https://superchunk.bandcamp.com/track/endless-summer

Friday, April 22, 2022

Terror of Mechagodzilla LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the past several Fridays I've be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Here we are, the final LP in this fifteen album boxset containing the soundtracks to all of the Showa era Godzilla movies.  It's been a blast revisiting the movies and the music over the past many weeks.  While I'm sure it wasn't everyone's cup of tea, it was very satisfying for me to write about all of these.  I also think that it is appropriate that the box set wraps up with my favorite Godzilla movie, Terror of Mechagodzilla.

This was a movie that I had on VHS at a pretty young age and boy oh boy did I wear it out watching it over and over and over again.  I love the design of Mechagodzilla.  I love the wacky Interpol storyline.  And even though I always watch the Japanese language version these days, I even love the ridiculous dubbed English version as it's just the sound of my childhood.  But my favorite part might actually be the third monster in the film, Titanosaurus.  The design is fabulous and he might have the best roar (warble?) in all of Toho.  A terribly overlooked monster that needs more toys and shirts immediately.

For the soundtrack Akira Ifukube makes his return and final appearance in the Showa series, providing a dark and ominous soundscape that has a great mix of new passages and previously known Godzilla music.  The triumph of the main title from the original 1954 Godzilla making multiple appearances whenever Godzilla is around is just perfect for this film.

And that wraps it up for the Waxwork Showa Era Godzilla box set.  I really cannot say enough great things about how amazing this set ended up being.  The art for every album is incredible.  The box itself is super sturdy and looks beautiful on the shelf.  The extra turntable slipmat is a lot of fun and most important of all, the records all sound amazing.  Hearing these soundtracks on vinyl, coming from my old 70s Marantz receiver is just one of the most perfect sounding things I've ever heard.  I am so grateful they took on this project and am eagerly awaiting some of the other Toho soundtracks that I already have on preorder from them.

Terror of Mechagodzilla - "Main Title Theme":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz1wuhHPazQ&ab_

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Blahzay Blahzay - Blah Blah Blah 2xLP - Brown Vinyl (/300)

Untitled

Tuff Kong (2022, 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've said it many times, but aside from a few things here and there, I completely checked out of hip hop in about 1994 after about a five year run of it being my whole world, musically speaking.  It just felt that the fun and innovation had been driven out of rap and my never ending desire to hear something new and different was instead embraced by punk and indie rock.  Over the years I've heard a few albums that I missed out on that came out in 93 or 94, maybe even the occasional 1995 release that I didn't know about.  But Blahzay Blahzay came out in 1996.  That might as well be a different century compared to the type of hip hop I usually listened to.

Regardless of it's original year of release, Blahzay Blahzay's debut album Blah Blah Blah could have stood alongside of just about anything that was released during the timeline that I consider the golden era.  The beats are full on New York boom bap.  It's a rough edged sound that owes influence in equal parts to Gang Starr, EPMD and Tribe Called Quest.  Lyrically, the rhymes are straightforward and powerful, weaving stories, calling out inferior MCs and handling the mic with a deep flow, steeped in gravitas.

I never heard Blahzay Blahzau when the record originally came out.  I don't know if it would have been possible for me to, in all honesty.  I was on a completely different wavelength by then and even if I wasn't, I can't imagine this sort of sound is something that would have been pushed or promoted properly considering what was 'hot' at the time.  But I am really glad I eventually stumbled across this.  Along with Mysterme & DJ 20/20 and The Future Sound, Blahzay Blahzay are one of the best discoveries I've made while digging back into the sounds of 90s hip hop.

Monday, April 18, 2022

PLOSIVS - PLOSIVS - Red Vinyl & Black Vinyl (/200)

Untitled

Swami (2022)

Before I get into this wonderful, wonderful album, I just wanted to mention that as the release date of the record approached, I tried to read some reviews on it to see what others thought.  The sheer amount of awful websites that copy and paste the press release and pass that off as a review is staggering to me.  It makes me wonder if any of them even bothered to listen to it.  

It's very easy to write that John Reis is also in Rocket From The Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, Night Marchers, Sultans and more while pointing out the Rob Crow has history in Pinback, Thingy, Heavy Vegetable and others.  Throw out that Atom Willard used to drum for Rocket From The Crypt and has spent time in Against Me, Special Goodness, Offspring, etc.  And Maybe Jordan Clark will get a mention for his work in Mrs. Magician and The Soaks.  Maybe.  

Look at that.  I just filled up an entire paragraph without actually saying anything.  I'm not going to pretend that I'm a great writer with anything particularly useful to say.  Anyone who reads this dumb website knows I just blather on about records and often I write more about my relationship to said record than any intricacy of what the record sounds like or is trying to convey.  But I'll be damned if I just copy a press release and pretend I wrote it.

Diatribe aside, what you need to know about this PLOSIVS record is that it is unbelievably great.  Mind-melting perfection.  I have been a Swami devotee since about 1994, when I first got my hands on a borrowed copy of Circa: Now.  Since then I have joyfully followed John to every band he has been a part of, loving every single thing he's ever touched.  There's always been something about the way his songs come out that really connect to my ears.  But even with all of that history and the insanely lofty expectations that come along with it, I was shocked by just how completely, ridiculously amazing this PLOSIVS record is.

You've got some of John's familiar aesthetic here for sure.  The chugging guitar riffs that drive the songs and the intricate breakdowns that crop up and veer off into unexpected territory that miraculously makes perfect sense when it reconnects back to the main song structure.  But as familiar as you might be with the tricks of John's trade, adding Rob Crow to the mix just blows up everything you thought you knew.  Rob's complete mastery of vocal melodies and innate ability to cram a hook into a song that maybe wasn't expecting one elevates PLOSIVS into mythical territory.

I could go on and on and on about how much I adore Hot Snakes and Night Marchers and everything that John has been involved in, but this truly is one of the best records that has his name on it.  Sure, Rocket will always be my favorite band he's done, but I'll put this PLOSIVS record up against anything he's done in the past, I don't know, twenty years?  And that's twenty years filled with some of the greatest albums I've ever heard in my entire life.

I am a pretty big Pinback fan, I have all of the records and listen to them regularly (especially Summer In Abaddon), but PLOSIVS is probably the best thing Rob Crow has ever released in my humble opinion.  There's an energy and a propulsion that I think is bringing out the best in him.  I know that Atom is an incredible drummer and hearing him with John again is rekindling a magical connection.  Pairing Atom with Jordan on bass gives these songs a depth and a vigor that reminds me a little bit of how Mark Trombino and Mike Kennedy created something really special in Drive Like Jehu.  PLOSIVS has a completely different vibe than Jehu, but a killer rhythm section making songs magical is something they very much have in common. 

There are two versions of the LP.  The red vinyl is the regular edition that you can get at your local record store or online retailer of your choice.  Once again a Swami related band has the black vinyl as the more limited version.  So far it has only been available directly from the band at shows.  I got my copy when I saw them play in Philadelphia.  An unsurprisingly wonderful show.  I am not positive that the black vinyl is limited to 200 copies, but if the quantities of other limited Swami releases are an indicator, I'm going to make an educated guess and just come back and correct it if I find out other information.

I don't know who is still reading at this point.  If you come to this website, you probably are naturally inclined to like something like PLOSIVS.  I don't know that anything I write is going to make you listen to this record if you weren't already planning to.  But what I can say is that this is hands down the best album of 2022.  It's probably the best record I've heard in the last ten years and I'm saying this with only about a month of listening to it.  It's kind of crazy just how completely I've connected with this record.  I love every second of it and can only wait, hoping for more.  I have read that they've already recorded a lot of their second LP already.  I would be happy to get two PLOSIVS records in a year.  I'll take that every year.

PLOSIVS - PLOSIVS:
https://music.youtube.com/channel/UC2XGi1rWjD3eUL-HtChZziA

Friday, April 15, 2022

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

The 1970s Mechagodzilla is such an amazingly cool design.  I have loved it since I was a small child, but it took me a while to finally see the movie where it first appeared.  While I will write about it more next week, Terror of Mechagodzilla is my favorite Godzilla movie and one that I saw a million times as a young kid.  I'm not even completely positive I knew that there was a prior movie with Mechagodzilla in it, though the big long intro that happens during Terror of Mechagodzilla does point that out pretty clear.  This is pre-internet folks, do you really think there was an easy to find list of what Godzilla movies existed when I was 8 years old in 1984?

I did finally come across a VHS copy of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, I'd say when I was maybe twelve or thirteen years old?  I remember being very surprised with how odd it was.  Especially considering Godzilla's new buddy King Caesar.  King Caesar is a giant, brown, furry rabbit like thing that moves really fast and gesticulates wildly.  He was there to give Godzilla the two on one babyface advantage, which everyone knows is poor psychology.  

This fulfills the prophecy that the movie is built around: "When a black mountain appears above the clouds, a huge monster will arise and try to destroy the world; but when the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west, two monsters shall appear to save the people."  Not sure why that is still so clear to me after all of these years, but they do really hammer it home during the human part of the plot.

The soundtrack was handled by Godzilla veteran Masaru Sato.  There are elements of Ifukube style suspense and dread, but there's also a lot of weirdly upbeat passages where characters just kind of feel like they're bebopping around.  It's an interesting mix, but one that I do still find enjoyable.  And look at the art on this LP cover.  It's gorgeous and like all of the others in this set, it just sounds superb.  Next week we tackle the very last LP on the Showa collection.  For the ones that have enjoyed this fifteen week odyssey, sadly it's coming to an end.  For those looking for pop punk, don't worry you've only got one more Friday to go.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla - "Main Title Theme":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u0DJFWXVpg&ab_ 


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Czarface - Every Hero Needs A Villain 2xLP

Untitled

Brick (2015)

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.

After ignorantly ignoring Czarface when they first started releasing records, I've been trying to make up for lost time and backtrack on their catalog.  I've mostly tracked down all of the main releases, but I am still looking for one of the RSD instrumental records at a nice price.  Every Hero Needs A Villain was the second Czarface record, once again featuring Esoteric and Inspectah Deck on the mic with 7L handling the production.

It's really a Golden Era style hip hop album with great, hard hitting beats and lyrics that weave in nods to Sci Fi, comics and an unusually large amount of pro wrestling references.  There are aspects of it that keep it more in the lineage of early 2000s underground hip hop, but if you had dropped this on Jive in 1993, it wouldn't really feel all that out of place.

There's a good amount of guest appearances, including MF Doom, GZA, Method Man and Large Professor.  But it never feels overcrowded or that the guests are taking away from the main Czarface MCs.  Everything just meshes together perfectly and again, I can't compliment the beats enough as they really make this a special album.  I'm not sure why Czarface wasn't on my radar for so long, but I'm doing everything I can to get current.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Gentlemen Rogues - Francy 7" - Red,Blue & Yellow Tri Color Vinyl

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Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

Over the years Gentlemen Rogues have but out a bunch of singles and EPs, many of which I have written about in the past, always eager to point out that singer Danny Dunlap was also in Jill, a pop punk band of my youth very near and dear to my heart.  This newest single is their second release for Snappy Little Numbers and it contains an original and a They Might Be Giants cover, both of which are a mighty good time.

A side "Francy" is a an energetic, crunchy guitar fueled blast.  The verse builds ever so perfectly into the supremely catchy chorus.  It's power pop for sure, but has a roughness to it that reminds me that these guys have punk rock roots and that just can't help but seep in and give it that extra little something that I'm always looking for in a song.

On the B side is a cover of the They Might Be Giants song "I've Got A Match."  The original TMBG song is from the album Lincoln and while I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of theirs, I do know some of their earlier material after being exposed to them on Al TV, when Weird Al would take over MTV.  The Gentlemen Rogues version strips out the nursery school vibe and turns it into a straight forward guitar pop blast.  A different take to be sure, but one that I enjoy quite a bit.

All these great Gentlemen Rogues singles.  I enjoy them immensely, but what it does more than anything is make me continue to salivate for an eventual full length.  Let's get on that!

Gentlemen Rogues - Francy 7":
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/francy-b-w-ive-got-a-match

Friday, April 8, 2022

Godzilla vs. Megalon LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

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Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Godzilla vs. Megalon is not one of the more lauded entries in the Godzilla series, but it is one that is so very near and dear to my heart.  It was the first Godzilla movie I ever owned on VHS as my mom bought it for me one day when we were at the supermarket.  I'm not sure why they were selling a Godzilla tape, but as soon as I saw it and thought that I could then watch a Godzilla movie whenever I wanted, instead of hoping to see one on Saturday morning on channel 9 or 11, I was hooked.

I watched that tape so many times as a kid and it became the cornerstone while I tried to add more VHS tapes to the collection.  I don't think I finally had all of the Show era VHS tapes until I hit high school, but I had Megalon the longest.  It's a very campy movie that is certainly weird in places.  Gigan teams up with Megalon to make a pretty fun monster tag team.  Godzilla receives help from Toho's Ultraman knockoff, Jet Jaguar - who is probably the character/thing this movie is most well known for.

Riichiro Manabe handles the score for this one, which features a pretty upbeat and jaunty feel throughout the movie.  While it doesn't have the same sort of ominous tones one would expect from an Akira Ifukube soundtrack, at least they did a proper score for this movie instead of recycling music like they did for Godzilla vs. Gigan.

Broken record time where I repeat myself again.  What Waxwork has done with this album is fantastic.  Sounds great, looks even better.  Another piece of joy on my record shelf.

Godzilla vs. Megalon - "Main Theme":

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

MC Serch - Return of the Product LP

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Def Jam (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.

I was a pretty huge 3rd Bass fan when I was in late grammar school/early high school.  I don't know for sure that I was aware they had actually broken up, though I imagine if it was ever mentioned in The Source, I would have read about it.  While I did prefer Prime Minister Pete Nice when 3rd Bass was together, I was certainly more than happy to pick up the debut MC Serch solo album when it came out during the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of high school in 1992.

"Here It Comes" got play on Yo! MTV Raps and I liked it enough to jump into the full CD instead of testing the water with a cassingle.  I never remember liking the album too much aside from a couple of stand out tracks, and now that I'm older and revisiting, I still kind of feel that way.  The aforementioned "Here It Comes" still strikes my fancy as does the title track "Return of the Product."  But then and now the highlight for me is "Back to the Grill."  It's a posse cut that also features Chubb Rock and a young Nas.  Not that it's the guest appearances that put it over the top, it's really just how great the beat is.  But everyone holds their own and easily makes it my favorite thing on the record.

It took a while for me to find a coy at a reasonable price.  It's never been reissued, so the only vinyl out there is thirty years old at this point.  I finally found a copy on Discogs, but it's not quite in the contidion I'd like it to be in.  There's a bit of surface noise on the vinyl itself, but it's not too noticeable most of the time.  It's a perfectly fine filler copy for now, but if they ever reissue it, I'd gladly upgrade.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Night Court - Nervous Birds! One Cassette

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Snappy Little Numbers / Debt Offensive (2021)

This lingered a little longer than I would have liked as it was released this past December.  On my birthday, no less if the Bandcamp release date is accurate.  Snappy Little Numbers does a great job of unearthing bands that fit pretty perfectly into my wheelhouse.  So much so, that I even forgive them for putting out some of it on tape.  Debt Offensive is no slouch in the quality releases department either and Night Court is yet another example of this.

I watched the TV show Night Court a lot as a kid.  I'm not sure I really understood all of the jokes, but they had a wacky cast of characters and Yakov Smirnoff as a recurring guest star.  Gold.  Nervous Birds! One is also gold.  They have a lo-fi guitar sound and beat it into submission resulting in song after song just crammed full of catchy hooks.  

There are times where I hear Wavves, other times where So Cow feels like a good touchstone and still others where Pavement or Guided By Voices seem to make the most sense.  It's an album oddly anchored in early 90s indie rock and early 2010s garage rock, but somehow they mesh perfectly together.  

For me, if you put out an album that's this catchy and memorable, I'm going to be a happy guy no matter what fidelity you're recording in or what era has most inspired you.  Night Court has done that and it seems that Nervous Birds! Two is already lined up for release really soon.  Color me excited to complete the duology.

Night Court - Nervous Birds! One:
https://snappylittlenumbers.bandcamp.com/album/nervous-birds-one

Friday, April 1, 2022

Godzilla vs. Gigan 2xLP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

I've always felt that by the time we hit Godzilla vs Gigan, we've reached a new section of the Show series Godzilla movies.  This and the next two Godzilla films have a vibe to them for sure.  I'm not always sure exactly what that vibe is, but it's different than the others.  It feels like they are simultaneously trying to be more comical and kid friendly, while at the same time using more blood and gore (albeit in a cartoony manner).

The real star of this film is Gigan.  What a wonderfully designed monster.  In a lot of ways I think it's actually a shame that Ghidorah is even in this movie as I think you could have very easily gotten Gigan over as a major threat without recycling a top villain from past films.  That said, I remember my younger brother and I having conversations about if Gigan and Ghidorah were the most devastating monster combo in the series.  Based on the amount of stock footage destruction, probably not...

Speaking of stock footage, that's what most of the soundtrack is as well.  Although it's credited to Akira Ifukube, it's mostly just reused passages from prior Godzilla films mixed in with sections of Atragon, Battle in Outer Space, Frankenstein Conquers the World, King Kong Escapes and some pieces that Ifukube composed for the Mitsubishi Pavilion at Expo '70 (so says Wikipedia anyway).

While not the most necessary of soundtracks, you have to release it if you're doing Godzilla soundtracks so I'm glad it's here and given the same sort of loving, attention to detail that Waxwork has given all of the soundtracks in this box set.

Godzilla vs. Gigan - "Main Title":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdbZldLDAHo&ab_


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Freestyle Fellowship - To Whom It May Concern... 2xLP

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Key Systems (2022, 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.

Despite this album coming out in 1991, right in the thick of my obsession with hip hop, Freestyle Fellowship is a group that I only ever knew the name of back then.  They were rumored to be extremely innovative MCs and I'm pretty sure I read about them in The Source, but I don't believe I ever saw them on Yo! MTV Raps and I definitely don't remember their CDs being around at the time.

So, these guys are another group that I've come to after the fact, trying to find some new-to-me sounds that take me back to the golden era.  It's something of a mixed bag.  As a whole I like the album and liked it enough to buy the newly reissued 2xLP of this album as well as the recent reissue of their second record as well.  The lyrics are strong and they are certainly innovative in a left-of-center kind of way.  

Each of the various members has a unique flow and they pile words and rhymes on top of each other.  Their styles are more complicated than even some of the most tongue twisting Hieroglyphics songs, but the downside is I don't find them as catchy or as memorable.  In a lot of ways it feels complex just for the sake of being complex rather than elevating the proceedings in a meaningful way.

I think if the beats were a little stronger it would probably help things out.  Don't get me wrong, they're perfectly serviceable and pretty strong in places, but they don't stand out in a way that a group that's hanging their hat on their inventiveness probably should.  This probably sounds like a lot of complaints about an album that I actually like quite a bit.  I think that more than anything the reality of the album didn't quite live up to the hype I'd created in my head for Freestyle Fellowship.  I had built them up in a mythical way and the reality is that they're a good group with a good record.  And that should be enough.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night LP - Green Vinyl & Black Vinyl (/200)

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Swami (2022)

I think you can be a casual or occasional reader of this website and still ascertain pretty quickly that I'm moderately obsessed with every band that John Reis has been involved in over the years.  From Rocket From The Crypt to Drive Like Jehu to Hot Snakes to Sultans to Night Marchers to Pitchfork to Plosivs and every weirdo one-off done in between, I collect them all and I listen to them pretty constantly.  I've said recently that his music has simply made my life better and I'm grateful for all of the noise he's put out into the world.

This record is somewhat different.  It's the first time he's released an album exclusively under his own name (there were other projects with Blind Shake and Metz, but those band names were part of the titles for those releases).  I can't imagine that anyone who likes John's other bands wouldn't like this.  There's definitely similarities in song structure and feel.  But it's also different in that the bones of these songs are mostly built around an acoustic guitar and piano. 

That doesn't mean that John has gone troubadour and has made a quiet singer-songwriter record.  The acoustics provide the foundation, but there's electric guitar, some synth and an upbeat rhythm section that keeps everything definitely in the same punk-adjacent wheelhouse that most of John's other work also resides.  He has a sound that's really distinct and I can always hear the common thread from band to band even when the singers change and the tangents veer into different directions.

There are two versions of the record.  The standard version available in stores is on green vinyl.  The limited version is the one on black vinyl, in this case limited to 200 copies and only sold via the Swami webstore.  This isn't the first time the black one is the limited one.  It's funny to me since usually people put the premium on the colored vinyl, but I always enjoy the chase.

No surprise, but I love this record.  In particular the title track, "When I Kicked Him In The Face" and "Days Of Auld Lang Syne" are the songs that stand out the most to me as being stupendously catchy and where I would recommend folks start if they want to sample these wares.  But really, at this point do you need to sample?  If you bother reading my dumb website, you should see John's name and just know that record should be part of your collections.

Swami John Reis - Ride The Wild Night:
https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nXej11afJ1d2xZpXMlpQk6NgInfLHKGAM

Friday, March 25, 2022

Godzilla vs. Hedorah LP - From Godzilla: The Showa Era Soundtracks, 1954-1975 Box Set

Untitled

Waxwork (2021) 

For the next several Fridays I'll be writing about an LP from the fantastic Godzilla Show Era soundtrack box set. Godzilla was such an important part of my childhood and the music was such a vital piece of that puzzle. Thrilled to finally have these on vinyl.

Godzilla vs. Hedorah, or as I knew it as a kid; Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, is definitely one of the odder Godzilla movies out there.  But I think its inherent wackiness is one of the reasons I'm so fond of it.  Whether it's Godzilla flying as he's propelled by his own atomic breath or the sheer fact that he's fighting a monster made from pollution, this is a Godzilla movie that may not go down quite as smoothly as some of the other Showa entries.  But again, I love it.

The soundtrack is equally wacky.  The score by Riichiro Manabe shrieks and wails and then chills out only to get ramped up again.  In some ways it's kind of cartoony and in other ways it's bizarrely appropriate.  And let's not forget the SIX versions of "Give Back The Sun" which cover varying degrees of psych rock weirdness.

Again, like the others, the LP was handled in an outstanding manner by the Waxwork folks.  Sounds great, looks great and is just a shocking thing that I am allowed to have in my record collection.

Godzilla vs Hedorah - "Opening/Give Back The Sun I":
https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5ttz35

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Smif-N-Wessun - Dan Shinin' 2xLP

Untitled

HHV (2018, 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've mentioned it before, but my definition of the Golden Era stops in 1994.  That's kind of where I checked out on hip hop as a teenager.  It was partially fueled by my newfound interest in punk and indie rock, but it was also because there were fewer and fewer hip hop albums that I was getting excited about.  There was some sort of seismic shift that happened that rendered post 94 albums useless to me.

Dah Shinin' came out in 1995 and I never heard it.  I remember hearing the name Smif-N-Wessun and thinking it was kind of a goofy name, but I never listened to it.  I don't think I knew that they were affiliated with Black Moon and the Boot Camp Clik, I might have given them more of a chance at the time if I did.  But as I've been digging around for lost (to me) classics, I stumbled across Dah Shinin' and finally picked up a copy.

I can't, in good conscious, say this is top tier Golden Era stuff.  It is good and I like it way more than most records that came out after 1994, but it suffers a little bit from being kind of slow.  Both MCs are also on the more laid back side and coming in at an hour and eight minutes long, it probably goes on a little longer than it needs to.  That's a lot of criticisms for a record that I'm trying to convey that I think is actually good.  

What I can say on the positive side is that the beats are really strong.  They're full and layered and while I do wish they were a little more upbeat, they do match the vocal stylings of the group quite well.  And lyrically, Smif-N-Wessum really bring it on Dah Shinin'.  They are focused and creative.  They are laid back, for sure, but it does typically work out for them.  I do wonder what I would have thought of this record if it had come out in say 1993 and had some Yo! MTV Raps videos behind it, but for now I'm happy that I was able to discover it for the first time now, when I do have a greater appreciation for things I missed out on the first time.