Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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


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:

Friday, May 20, 2022

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


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:

Thursday, May 19, 2022

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


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:

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over LP


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:

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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


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:

Friday, May 13, 2022

Sugar - File Under Easy Listening LP


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:

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

X Clan - To The East, Blackwards LP


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:

Monday, May 9, 2022

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


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":

Friday, May 6, 2022

Pavement - Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal CD


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


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":

Monday, May 2, 2022

Quaker Wedding - Total Disarray LP


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: