Friday, July 29, 2022

Lawsuit Models - Unknown Ghosts LP


Motorcycle Potluck / Snappy Little Numbers (2022)

Anyone in need of a bright and shiny pop punk record to help jolt you out of the doldrums of day-to-day life?  I'm always looking for something like that and Lawsuit Models deliver that with gusto.  Unknown Ghosts is their second full length album, following up 2018's excellent Off The Pavement LP.  I really dug that album, but this new one hits me even harder.

When I wrote about Lawsuit Models in 2018, I compared them to a Peach Tree era Pollen.  For this new one, I can still hear that a little bit, but the band that more immediately comes to mind this time out is The Stereo.  In particular the way The Stereo sounded on their first album, Three Hundred.  It's got the big, crunchy guitars for sure, but the vocal melodies are what really take it over the top for me.  Just listen to the way they sing "co-o-o-matose" on the album's second song and then try to convince me it won't be stuck in your head for the next six months.

The whole album is full of hooks and melodies like that.  Super catchy stuff, with just the absolute tiniest hint of a Tom Petty-esque twang hear and there.  Ands that's not a complaint or a detriment.  That's very much a selling point as it adds a slightly rough-around-the-edges authenticity to things, even though the production on the record is somewhat slick overall.  In summary: this a great, fun, upbeat, catchy, energetic record.  The raised the bar from their debut and have easily claimed a spot in my list of best records of 2022 so far. 

Lawsuit Models - Unknown Ghosts:

Monday, July 25, 2022

Pinhead Gunpowder - Goodbye Ellston Avenue - Black/Blue Split Vinyl


1234-Go! (2022, Reissue)

Like so many records in the bin next to me, this one has been sitting around for a little longer than I would have liked.  While it did come out this year, I still feel like I could have gotten to writing about it a little bit sooner.  

Throughout the 1234 Go! reissue campaign, I have expressed my affection for Pinhead Gunpowder and Goodbye Ellston Avenue is no exception.  This one came out when I was in college and is probably the first Pinhead Gunpowder album I ever wrote about as I was writing at my college newspaper at the time.  This is also another one that I have the firat pressing of, so I really only bought this for the colored vinyl/remastering/keeping the reissue collection going thing.

I know that a lot of people weren't as in to the later couple of Pinhead Gunpowder records.  It's the first two or bust for many, but I've always been really into their entire catalog and I think this album is still great.  The songs are really short, for the must part, but they sure do cram in a mountain of hooks during the album's twenty-four minutes.  

There's more than a few highlights, but "Train Station" has always been one of my very favorite songs by the band. with it's building verse over chugging guitar riffs and its sing along chorus, it's one of the poppier moments in the band's catalog and a song that I just can never get enough of.  Everything looks and sounds great and as we get closer to the end of the Pinhead Gunpowder reissue campaign, I'm really pleased with how well these have all been coming out.  One more full length to go.

Pinhead Gunpowder - Goodbye Ellston Avenue:

Monday, July 18, 2022

1000 Travels of Jawaharlal / Minority Blues Band - Split LP - Green Vinyl


Bloated Kat/Imomushi (2021, Reissue)

OK, I sat on this one way too long and at this time it's come out almost a year ago.  Shame on me as this is such an incredibly great record.   Originally, this split came out in 2000 on Imomushi records in Japan on CD.  A friend of mine who I was trading records with picked me up a copy as he was pretty confident that I would like both bands, given my undying love for the Snuffy Smile sound at the time.  It was the first time I heard Minority Blues Band and 1000 Travels of Jawaharlal and I was pretty blown away by both.

Of the two, Minority Blues Band are probably the more well known by folks outside of Japan.  After this split they ended up doing two full lengths on Snuffy Smile along with some of the obligatory split 7"s that were so wonderful at the time.  Those splits include two (yes two) different split 7"s with J Church.  J Church is renown for the insane number of 7"s and split 7"s they released, but I'm pretty sure Minority Blues Band is the only band they did two different releases with.  

And their songs on this split LP sound just as amazing as they did the first time I heard them.  A fast, aggressive guitar sound that I typically associate with the sort of thing that Manifesto Jukebox was doing at the time (convenient, as they also did a split with MBB).  But, the big difference for me is Minority Blues Band's uncanny ability to cram the catchiest damn hooks into the middle of their guitar chaos.  Manifesto Jukebox is no where near as catchy and yet Minority Blues Band loses no energy at all in their quest to pull off an extremely memorable hook.

1000 Travels of Jawaharlal are probably not remembered as well from outside of Japan.  They never had that Snuffy Smile release and only put out one other full length.  I have that on CD but I just found out today that there was a vinyl version of that.  Going to have to hunt that one down.  1000 Travels of Jawaharlal has a similar sound to Minority Blues Band.  A similarly aggressive guitar attack along with the ability to keep their choruses pretty catchy as well.  The vocals are a little angrier and remind me a little bit of Screaming Fat Rat at times.

Another place that 1000 Travels of Jawaharlal differs is with the drumming and time signatures. There's some debt to math rock and late 90s emo being paid hear, but at approximately three times the speed of anything you are probably picturing in your head.  They are another one of those supremely great Japanese bands that I wish more people knew about.  But lucky you, here's your chance.  Not only is this release back and not only is it finally on vinyl, but it's been released by a label in the US.  There's no excuse not to go buy it immediately.

1000 Travels of Jawaharlal / Minority Blues Band - Split LP:

Friday, July 15, 2022

Gentlemen Rogues - A History of Fatalism LP - Red Vinyl


Snappy Little Numbers / Rocket Heart (2022)

I can't write about Gentlemen Rogues without mentioning how much I loved the band Jill back in the 90s, as they share members and you'll probably hear me say things like they sound like a grown up Jill, which makes sense if you think about it.  Another thing I do when writing about Gentlemen Rogues is double check every mention of their name to try to make sure I didn't write Gentleman Rogues by mistake.  Which I do almost every single time.

This LP is made up of ten of the twelve tracks from two previously released EPs.  The CD only A History So Repeating and the digital only Fatal music.  I assume the two tracks that were left off were done so due to space constraints on the vinyl, but you do get them as part of the digital download.

These are all great songs.  Upbeat and catchy.  Tons of melody and catchy choruses.  A little slower than what I'd typically call pop punk, but punky enough to where there's still just the right amount of energy and enthusiasm coming through.  Every time I hear Gentlemen Rogues, I like them more and more and am eagerly waiting for their first official full length, which I understand they are working on now.  Sign me up.

Oh, and while I have a captive audience, I'd like to say to Danny and Chuck, would you two please talk about putting out a physical version of a Jill discography.  It should be vinyl, but at the very least throw a CD together or something will you?  The people need it. The people demand it. Make it happen!

Gentlemen Rogues - A History of Fatalism

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Leaders Of The New School – T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye) 2xLP


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've been watching old episodes on Yo! MTV Raps on Paramount+ quite a bit lately.  It's such a great feeling seeing so many of those episodes again, though I definitely wish they weren't missing as much footage as they obviously are.  I can definitely say that they played "Me, Myself & I" by De La Soul way too much.  I never liked that song much to begin with, but I'm now at the point where I'm constantly fast forwarding through it as it's on about half of the episodes I've watched.  Another video that is getting a ton of play on these episodes is Leaders of the New School's "International Zone Coaster."  

I don't remember seeing that video much as a kid.  For me, it was "Case of the P.T.A" that caught my attention in the 90s and made me pick up the first Leaders' album.  After "Scenario" hit off of Low End Theory, I was pretty psyched on the second Leaders of the New School record being released.  T.I.M.E. came out in 1993, I immediately bought it, didn't like it and never really listened to it much at all back then.  Eventually, I got rid of the CD during one of my cullings.

But, within the past couple of years I decided to revisit the album to see if I had missed out on anything.  Turns out that I did.  T.I.M.E. is way better than I gave it credit for in high school.  In particular the beats are really great, classic golden era production.  The vocals are very strong and all three MCs stepped up their game and dropped some of the gimmicky things they were doing on their debut.  I can't figure out what I didn't like about this record back in the 90s.  I just remember thinking it wasn't as good as their debut.  

It's still probably not quite as good as A Future Without A Past, though my opinion is surely colored by nostalgia at least a little bit.  But I can say for sure that T.I.M.E. is an excellent record and one that I really wish I hadn't slept on for so many years.

Leaders Of The New School – T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye):

Monday, July 11, 2022

Pinhead Gunpowder - At Your Funeral 7" - Yellow/Orange Split Vinyl


1234 Go! (2022)

Another in the Pinhead Gunpowder reissue series.  This one takes the songs from the Dillinger Four split 7" and unsplits them.  Then a few compilation songs were added to the B side making this a Pinhead Gunpowder standalone release.  I actually dig that concept as part of this reissue.  While I do have all of their 7"s already, I have been rebuying them as they look great and most of these reissues do sound better than the original versions, particularly the LPs.

I can't say that I can hear massive improvements in the fidelity of these songs, but I think that's probably because they were released later on in Pinhead Gunpowder's discography and already sounded pretty good to begin with.  In addition to the songs from the original D4 split, they've added an acoustic version of Beastly Bit" and live on the radio versions of "Reach for the Bottle" and "Swan Song."

Pinhead Gunpowder - "AT Your Funeral":

Friday, July 8, 2022

Wannadies - Västerbotten 3xLP


Startracks (2022)

The Wannadies had a several album span from the mid 90s to the early 2000s where they really just hit it out of the park every single time.  You want to talk about the best Weezer or Fountains of Wayne songs?  Chances are there's over a dozen Wannadies songs that are probably much better.  I'm not sure that any band does guitar pop better, especially when they really hit their stride.

But it's been a really long time since The Wannadies were putting out records.  Twenty years, if you want to get specific.  The band recently has gotten back together and is playing some shows.  There's no news of a new album just yet, but they have put together Västerbotten, a compilation of B sides and rarities.  Not to be confused with Skellefteå...also a collection of rarities?

Anyway, Västerbotten is a double LP release.  The third LP in my set is an extra 12" single with four cover songs.  Now, I have a bunch of Wannadies CD singles and 7"s, but listening to this set was a reminder that their non album songs are probably non album songs because they weren't quite as good as the ones on the actual albums.

That's not to say any of these songs are bad.  They're not and in fact many of them are quite excellent.  But my main takeaway is that a lot of the B sides are songs that are much slower and/or mellower than what made the albums.  A bit more introspective.  More acoustic guitar.  Still phenomenal songs, but lacking a little bit of the punch that really makes me connect to an album like Bagsy Me.

The cover songs on the bonus 12" are fun, but I prefer Wannadies originals.  I'm glad I got it, but I don't think people would be missing out on too much if they got the regular double LP, which is good news for you as the version with the bonus 12" is sold out now anyway.  I do appreciate so many of these songs being rescued from CD single purgatory in my collection, though this isn't where I would recommend someone start if they were new to The Wannadies.

Wannadies - Västerbotten:

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Terminator X - & the Valley of the Jeep Beets LP


Rush/Columbia (1991)

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.

There's fewer and fewer hip hop albums that I had as a teenager on CD that I need to replace with vinyl, but this Terminator X album checks another off the list.  I don't have this CD anymore, it must not have survived one of the many CD purges that I did in the early 2000s trying to survive on a shitty music industry salary.  My buddy Zach actually reminded me of the record again a couple of months ago when he posted a picture of his CD.  This was on my radar, but I put a little more emphasis on tracking it down and now it's here.

It still holds up as a great album I think and in a lot of ways, I like it even more now than I did back in 1991.  I'm pretty positive the reason I bought this CD way back when was because I saw the video for "Buck Whylin'" on Yo! MTV Raps.  With Chuck D and Sista Soulja holding down the vocals, it's essentially a Public Enemy song without Flav.  The production is great and Chuck really turns in a great performance.  Soulja's "We are at war" battle cry also hits unusually hard in 2022.

The rest of the record is also a lot of fun.  The beats are consistently good throughout and a lot of MCs that really never got a chance to shine elsewhere turn in some cool performances.  In particular, I just love the song "Back to the Scene of the Bass" featuring a group called The Interrogators that I was never able to find out anything more about back in the 90s.  And guess what, in 2022, there's really no information about them either.  Kind of weird, but man what a song.

While no one would ever say this is as good as any of the Public Enemy albums of that era, it's a lot of fun and one I recommend picking up if you see the CD in a used bin somewhere.  Terminator apparently did another record in '94 that I was completely unaware of.  I'm going to have to check that out to see if it's anything like this one.

Terminator X - & the Valley of the Jeep Beets:

Friday, July 1, 2022

Leatherface - Cherry Knowle LP (2022 Remaster)


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: