Friday, August 19, 2022

Pollen - Crescent LP - Green Vinyl (/300)


Double Helix (2022, Reissue)

Is it shocking that I'm reviewing another old record that's gotten a reissue?  Probably not.  Is it surprising that said reissue is of the relatively obscure, second album by Pollen?  Well it is to me even if it's not for you.  I was really excited when Peach Tree got reissued last year, but even for that one I was surprised that it was finally coming out on vinyl.  That Crescent now exists and is sitting in my record room right now is blowing my mind in the best possible way.

This album was originally released on CD only back in 1995.  It came out on Grass records and went out of print and became very difficult to find, particularly in the pre-Discogs era along with their debut album Bluette.  I'm not going to say anything obnoxious like no one has heard this record, but the amount of people that have heard is probably substantially lower than the two Pollen albums that followed.

But this is a great record, every bit as catchy and well written as Peach Tree.  Lots of catchy hooks and crunchy guitar riffs.  The production isn't quite as polished as Peach Tree, but in some ways I think that's a benefit as it's a little rougher around the edges in a way that I prefer.  Though the reissue is remastered and everything sounds way cleaner than it ever had before.  I'm just incredibly excited that this came out.  They've also released their fourth album Chip, and I have that here waiting in the wings.  I hope they get to Bluette as I would love to have all four of these guys on vinyl.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Zhigge - Zhigge LP


Polydor (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.

Zhigge is another group that I certainly don't remember by name from the early 90s.  This, their only full length, came out in 1992 which was absolutely a time where I was paying quite a bit of attention to everything that was happening on Yo! MTV Raps.  and while I do not remember this group or any of their videos, I can't shake a weird familiarity with the song "Rakin' in the Dough."  While I can't remember it specifically, it's definitely got a chorus that sticks in a way where I'm positive I must have heard it before.

Based on that, there's a pretty decent chance I heard Zhigge in the 90s, but forgot about them.  Likely because I never bought anything by them, so they were likely just heard in passing.  I am more than happy to play catch up now.  While I'd never say that Zhigge is a can't miss, must hear, essential hip hop record of the 90s, it's still a pretty fun listen.  The production is very strong and reminds me of the first UMCs record in the way that it's upbeat and fun, but still hits pretty hard.

Lyrically, the group has several unique MCs and while I can't put them on the same level as The Pharcyde, I find definite similarities in the two group's dynamics.  The way they pass the mic back and forth to each other and compliment the style of the others is really interesting to hear.  They've got dense and pretty complex lyrical structures and they pull it off pretty flawlessly each time.  This is another group that I'm happy to have stumbled on as it's essentially a new record to me, but one completely steeped in the hip hop era that I love so much.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Sewer Trout - Meet The Sewer Trout LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


Dead Broke / Lavasocks (2022)

I'm definitely reaching that age where I tend to be more excited about old music than new music.  I assume it happens to everyone and if nothing else, I think I held out longer than most.  Not that I'm giving up on new music or anything, it's just that the older hits are the ones that I tend to be most interested in, at least lately.  Enter an old band; Sewer Trout.

They put out releases on Lookout and Very Small and were very much of that era that spawned so many great bands.  However, Sewer Trout wasn't really ever on my radar.  When I started getting into punk rock, they weren't around anymore.  They were from an earlier era (Four years earlier felt like an eternity back then, though that's blink and you miss it time for me now) that I had to play catch up on.  But they weren't quite as noteworthy as say a Crimpshrine or Operation Ivy, so I never got around to them for whatever reason.

With Dead Broke and Lavasocks releasing a discography LP of Sewer Trout material, it felt like the right time to finally play catch up.  The vast majority of these songs are ones I had never heard before aside from those that were on the Turn It Around and Floyd comps.  How do these songs sound for the first time in 2022? Old.  Honesty, they sound really old.

I would never say these are bad songs, but they are absolutely of a past era and sound like it.  Without much in the way of nostalgia holding me to these songs since I didn't listen to them when they were more current, I can't say they really connect with me very much hearing them for the first time today.  Although lyrically they've aged pretty well (or pretty poorly, depending on how annoyed you are with the world), as many of the political and societal criticisms they're singing about are still pretty valid all this time later.  

The songs themselves feel kind of simple and the sound is a little bit thin. Which makes sense.  This stuff was mostly recorded and released in the 80s on a punk budget.  They're not going to sound like fancy records, but they also haven't really aged in a way that makes them stand out to me thirty something years after they were recorded.  Again, nothing on this record is bad.  I like what the band was going for and I think the songs probably sound as good as they possibly could on this LP considering the source material.  I just can't see myself listening to it much when there are tons of other bands from this era that I already have a multiple decade connection with.  Like so many, I'm a prisoner of nostalgia.

Sewer Trout - Meet The Sewer Trout:

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Get Up Kids - Eudora 2xLP - Mint Vinyl (/600)


Vagrant / Heroes & Villains (2016, Reissue)

When I wrote about the Get Up Kids Woodson/Red Letter Day 12" a few weeks ago, I had mentioned that my favorite GUK songs were the ones on the various 7"s that came out before and immediately after their first full length.  That's the main reason that I finally decided to pick up this LP.  I've had the CD since it first came out and the songs on the original 7"s were certainly on quite a few mix tapes in the late 90s, but I didn't have the vinyl.  When I saw the 2016 version pop up unexpectedly on the vagrant site for twenty bucks, I grabbed it.  Seems weird that some were kicking around all these years later if they were limited to 600 copies, it is what it is, I guess.

Now, I do wish the Woodson songs were on this.  It would make life a lot easier and would pretty much dump all of my favorite Get Up Kids songs on one release, but I figure Doghouse didn't want to give up the rights to their cash cow.  It would have been easy to make room by ditching a few of the EIGHT cover songs polluting this release.  There are way too many bad cover songs on here.  "Suffragette City" is OK, "Alec Eiffel" is good and "Burned Bridges" is pretty great (mostly because of how absurd the lyrics are), but the rest of them could have been jettisoned into the sun and the record would be better for it.

The highlights for me on here are the two songs from the first GUK 7" ("Shorty" in particular was always a favorite), the two songs from the Sub Pop 7" and the band's very best song, "I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel."  This version of "Loner" is the one from their split 7" with Braid and is approximately a hundred thousand times better than the one that ended up on their second LP.

Normally, I'm very much in favor of having songs run chronologically when put on a singles comp.  I always find it weird when bands decide to make the track list out of order.  But, the one saving grace about how they organized the songs on this record is that just about every song I really want to listen to is on LP two.  So I can avoid a bunch of the crappy covers and some of the later 7" songs that didn't hit as hard for me.  This is a bloated record for sure, but the hits are still pretty great all these years later.

The Get Up Kids - Eudora:

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Maestro Fresh-Wes - 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!' LP


Attic/LMR (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 digging online and came across one of those 'most overlooked records of the 90s' lists and Maestro Fresh-Wes was on it.  I can't actually remember if it was this specific record or not, but as 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!' came out in 1993, I decided that was the one to listen to.  Well, I listened to it and really, really dug it, so the quest was on to hunt down the vinyl.  I watched out for a copy for well over a year before one finally popped up at a reasonable price.  

I grabbed it, got it home and went to clean it.  I then dropped the cleaning brush thing on the record and scratched it.  Now there's a 30 second period on the first track where there's a pretty loud recurring pop.  Supremely aggravated at myself for doing that, but it's not a big enough deal to try to hunt for another copy of this record.  Not that it wouldn't be worth it, this is really an overlooked gem of a record.

With production handled by Maestro and Showbiz from Showbiz & AG, the beats on this record are pretty incredible.  It has that classic Diggin' In The Crates vibe with excellent, rumbling bass and that snare drum crack that I find to be a mandatory ingredient in hip hop.  Lyrically, Maestro Fresh-Wes has a strong flow.  I wouldn't rank him as a super elite MC of the era (1993 had some pretty insane records that came out at the time), but he's very good and his lyrics can hang with the excellent production.

I expect this one is probably way under the radar for a lot of people.  I sure had no idea it existed back in 1993.  But I'm glad I dug around and found out about it as 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!' can go toe to toe with the best of early 90s hip hop.

Maestro Fresh-Wes - 'Naaah, Dis kid Can't Be From Canada?!!':

Monday, August 8, 2022

Snuff - Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta Borsetta Calzetta Cacchetta Trombetta Lambretta Giallo Ossido, Ooooooh Cosi Magnifico! LP - Green Vinyl (/100)


10 Past 12 / SBÄM (2022)

Along with Rocket From The Crypt and Leatherface, Snuff always ranks as one of my top three favorite bands of all time.  They've put out so many wonderful records over the years and are responsible for some of the greatest songs I have ever heard.  Here we are in 2022 and Snuff is still cranking out records.  Crepuscolo (That's what I'm calling the record in the body of this, I am not typing that insane title more than absolutely necessary) could be anywhere between their ninth and sixteenth full like album, depending on how you want to count a few really long EPs and a live album, but the point I'm trying to make here is that they've got a lot of records.  Crespuscolo fits in nicely with the rest.

If I'm going to make a comparison to earlier records, I feel like this one seems to fit pretty snugly next to Tweet Tweey My Lovely as far as an overall vibe goes.  There's some spectacular pop songs like "Green Glass Chippins" and Lemon Curd."  We've got a 'Nick' style song in "Hard Times."  And there's a few of the really fast shouty ones that aren't usually my favorites, but you can't really have a Snuff album without one or two of them at this point.

This version is on green vinyl, with 100 copies made available on Snuff's website.  There are several other colors out there and I've got some en route, while others I'm still trying to figure out the best way to get my hands on.  But I figures, I'll start with this one and then later on I can take a full family photo when I track down the rest.

While I can't say that I'll probably ever love a new Snuff record as much as I love older ones like Reach or Demmamussabebonk, those records have an unfair amount of nostalgia built into them.  It's hard to match up with albums you've been living with for over twenty five years.  But if you look at Crespuscolo on its own merits and listen to it without trying to make it be a 90s record, you'll find that this is a band still firing on all cylinders and is putting out records that I'm exceedingly happy to purchase. 

Snuff - Crepuscolo Dorato Della Bruschetta Borsetta Calzetta Cacchetta Trombetta Lambretta Giallo Ossido, Ooooooh Cosi Magnifico!:

Friday, August 5, 2022

Plow United - Human 2000 Lathe Cut 7" (/50)


Jump Start (2013)

Plow United were pretty much the best band and the kings of what I consider my local scene in the 90s.  Even though I was in northern New Jersey and Plow was from West Chester, Pennsylvania, whenever they came up by us and played shows, they were always something very special.  While I don't think everyone up here thought of Plow as one of the local bands, they always felt that way to me.

This record came out in 2013 as part of that year's Record Store Day, though I wouldn't imagine it was officially part of it.  Rogue RSD records out there.  There were 50 of these made and it's a lathe cut 7".  The four songs on here are all also on the 2013 Plow United full length, Marching Band.  It's a great record and these are great songs, but I can't say I really understand the point of releasing it.

I have these four songs already and the sound quality of a lathe cut is nowhere near that of a normal record.  It's kind of just a limited tchotchke for collector nerds like me to stress out over.  In fact, this was the one Plow record that had been eluding me for years now.  I was excited to see it finally pop up on Discogs a few weeks back and I'm happy to have it, though I cannot imagine why I would ever play it again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Public Enemy - Greatest Misses 2xLP


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.

This album came out at the very height of my obsession with Public Enemy.  After buying Apocalypse '91 at the K-mart by my dad's house, I was pretty convinced PE could do no wrong.  After I picked up Greatest Misses, I figured that I was wrong.  I think this record might have been my first experience with a band I loved putting out a record that didn't connect with me.  At the very least, it's the first one that I can remember.

I was really angry about this one at the time.  I wrote a review of it in my high school newspaper and while I don't really remember what I said, I'm pretty sure it was quite negative.  And that was the last Public Enemy record I ever bought.  I didn't hear 1994's Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age until many, many years later.  Listening to the record today, I'm not sure what turned me off so strongly.

Is it as good as any of the four Public Enemy records that came out before it?  No, not even close.  It's a distant fifth place, but it's not really that bad.  It's a weak Public Enemy record, but it's still a reasonably solid hip hop record overall.  Sure, "Get Off MyBack" is pretty bad, but "Hazy Shade of Criminal" is kind of great and I don't think would have been out of place on Apocalypse '91.  

The rest of the of the new songs (six in total) are fine for the most part.  Solid beats and great rhyming by Chuck D.  The other six songs are remixes.  Half are just fine, half are OK.  Nothing unmissable, but certainly nothing worth getting angry over in 1992.  The big miss is not including the Pete Rock remix of "Shut 'Em Down."  It's not on the vinyl version at all and on the CD there's just a live version of it that's pretty questionable, sound quality-wise.  Had they included that, I think it would have beefed up an album that isn't exactly essential is still a pretty fun listen.

Public Enemy - Greatest Misses:

Monday, August 1, 2022

Boat - No Plans to Stick the Landing LP - Clear Vinyl


Magic Marker (2022)

I have been a huge fan of Boat since their 2010 album, Dress Like Your Idols.  Since then I've bought every album and vinyl reissue of their older records.  Each and every time I'm so happy that there's a band out there still carrying the torch of the kind of 90s-style indie rock that I adore so much.  

Any Boat record is going to be a pretty great record, especially when compared to the other bands that even bother to play indie rock these days.  They're always got that wonderful guitar jangle and Pavement-esque irreverence.  Though if you compare this to other Boat records, it's very good, but not my favorite of theirs.

I think part of that is the way it was recorded.  From reading, it seems that this was a true pandemic album where the band members where not in the same place together at the same time.  I think that hurts the energy a little bit,  I won't go so far as to say that some of the songs sound clinical, but they don't seem quite as vibrant as prior albums.  There's also something going on with the vocals that I can't quite figure out.  They sound a little static-y and blown out here and there, but it's not always clear if this was a technology issue or an aesthetic choice.  It's not on every song, but it does make things feel a little off at times.

That probably makes it seem like I don't like this record, but that's not the case at all.  These are great songs done by a great band and is definitely one of the better albums I've heard this year.  I just have such high expectations for Boat and there are a few moments where something just sounds a little off in a way I'm not able to easily articulate.  But again, for the most part, this is a very fun listen.

Boat - No Plans to Stick the Landing: