Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Kaotic Style - A Diamond in the Ruff LP

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.