Monday, June 5, 2023

Curious Things - Naif LP


Snappy Little Numbers / Dumb Ghost (2023)

I liked the artwork on this one right away.  It reminded me of digging through 7"s in the 'indie rock' sections of record stores in mid 90s New York City.  Yes, I do recognize that this is an LP and not a 7", but the style of art takes me back to a very specific place in time.  Further complicating things, Curious Things are not from NYC, they're from Denver and they're not really playing indie rock, but rather a pop punk influence strain of power pop.  

Two of the folks in this band and are in Lawsuit Models (Were in? Unsure of Lawsuit Models are past tense now), so that made me pretty confident I would like this as that's a band I have been super into whenever I hear something new by then.  And I think most fans of Lawsuit Models would dig Curious Things.  They don't sound alike, but they come from a similar place with a reverence for hooks and catchy tunes.

Curious Things remind me a little bit of Odd Numbers, but maybe without the mod sensibilities.  The guitar tones are warm and jangly at the same time and pretty much every song is anchored by stellar vocal harmonies.  It's such a bright record and you can almost feel the sunshine beaming off of it.  It's one of the best albums I have heard so far this year and if pop is your bag, this is an album to get in on right away.

Curious Things - Naif:

Friday, June 2, 2023

Steve Adamyk Band - Live Cassette


Big Neck (2023)

While I acknowledge that it has been four years since 2019's Paradise, this stretch of time since the last Steve Adamyk Band album came out feels like an eternity.  Granted, there are some real world events that probably adds to that feeling, but I'l not used to waiting quite so long to hear something new from Steve & co.

For now, I'll settle for this live tape that Big Neck has released.  Now, I'm on record as to not really loving tape only releases, but if you're going to do it, a live album really feels like the way to go.  In a lot of ways it brings me back to my days in the mid 90s trading live bootleg tapes on the internet (so help you if you don't use Maxell XL II as your blank).

This was recorded in various spots, with the biggest chunks being five songs recorded in Philadelphia and another five from Brooklyn.  Then we have a few from Toronta, Japan and WFMU in New Jersey for good measure.  The songs are mostly focused from the band's first three albums and include some of my personal favorite heavy hitters like "Better Off," "Forever Won't Wait" and "Speed It Up."  The recording quality of each song is really solid and really captures the live energy the band has.  This is a really fun release, even though live albums are not usually my thing.  It's worth checking out.

Steve Adamyk Band - Live:

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead 2xLP


Chrysalis / AOI  (2023, 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.

When I wrote about 3 Feet High and Rising, I had mentioned how I had a complicated relationship with De La Soul, never having liked them quite as much as I felt I was supposed to.  With the reissues coming out at affordable prices, I figured I would pick up the important ones and try to give them really, dedicated listens.  I really wanted to figure out if I had been missing something all of these years.  The short version of the story is that I have been missing some things, but others I had pegged from day one.

De La Soul is Dead is a different album than 3 Feet High and Rising.  The beats are less innovative and I think things feel a bit more cohesive to me as a result.  Again, I have a much deeper appreciation for 3 Feet these days and it has some incredible songs on it, but De La Soul is Dead speaks to me more.  The production is a little darker and harder, but in no way is it actually dark or hard, if that makes any sense.  Lyrically, they took a pretty big leap forward and the flows of everyone are more dynamic, while still maintaining that laid back groove that has always been their hallmark.

That said, much like on their debut, the skits on this album drive me crazy.  They are such momentum killers and they unnecessarily drag out the album.  I know they tell a story and I also know a lot of people really love them as they were very inventive at the time.  But I can't think of a single album that was ever made better by one skit, let alone a dozen of them. Cut out the fat and this is a much, much better album, at least when it comes to what I want to hear.  But at the end of the day, the actual songs on here do make this a great album and one that I wish I had spent more time with back in the 90s.

Friday, May 26, 2023

208 - Nearby LP


Big Neck (2023)

As soon as you put the needle on this record, you are immediately blown back by a massive wave of swirling, distorted guitar and screaming vocals.  Typically, if you are me, that's about the time where I am already checking out.  Loud screaming isn't usually my bag, but there's something about 208 that differentiates them from your typical howlers.

Immediately, I'm flashing back to the mid 90s when I was finding my way around the sort of punk and indie rock I wanted to listen to and I stumbled into buying a couple of godheadSilo albums.  That was a band pushing the extreme of decibel containment on a recorded medium, but I was nevertheless drawn to their energy and craziness.  208 has a similar vibe to them, just pushing everything into the red for the sake of it.

The other thing this record has going for it is a propulsive, stumping rhythm.  There's a bluesy undercurrent that reminds me a bit of the first Black-Eyed Snakes album, another band that was able to capture lightning in a bottle.  Combining these elements creates an album that at first brush seems way outside of my wheelhouse, but as you peel back the layers, they're using a lot of the same ingredients that have drawn me to others.

208 - Nearby:

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Brothers Uv Da Blakmarket – Ruff Life LP


Select (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.

Brothers Uv Da Blakmarket are another one of those groups that I discovered recently just digging around to see what hip hop records were released in the early 90s.  Ruff Life is the groups only album and came out in 1992 on Select records.  They're from Paterson, NJ and have a vague alliance with Naughty By Nature and The Flavor Unit.  They aren't a group I remember hearing about back in 1992.  I don't recall ever seeing them on Yo! MTV Raps and based on the fact that I lived in rural Sussex County, the fact that this group was from New Jersey didn't help elevate their visibility to me.  I only really ever had access to The Source and Yo.

I am glad that I discovered them finally.  Ruff Life is a really strong record.  The production is great, classic early 90s Hip Hop.  It's fit in nicely right next to anything of the era, particularly if you enjoy the sort of production techniques that defined the Flavor Unit.  You can definitely hear Naughty By Nature influence on the beats, though maybe not as much lyrically.

Cool Money Cee may not be as lyrically as intense as Treach, and might not have the most complicated or rapid fire flow, but he holds his own just fine.  He's primarily a storyteller at heart and while he might not be playing off of crazy internal rhyme schemes, he works narratives better than many from that era. 

All in all, it's just a fun, solid record.  Is it going to be your new favorite album?  Probably not, but if you like golden era hip hop, I just cannot fathom anyone not liking this.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Drolls - Novelty Rock Monthly Singles Club, Vol. One 7" - Café Au Lait Vinyl (/250)


Snappy Little Numbers (2023)

This 7" is volume number one of a one hundred percent confirmed monthly series where The Drolls are writing songs in the style of other bands.  The first fifty of them come with a nifty, hand crafted Drolls 45 adapter.  Very swank.  On this record itself we have two bands that I'm not sure I envisioned being paired together, but perhaps that's my lack of imagination showing.  MC5 and Guided By Voices are the subjects for volume one and The Drolls have delivered two songs that each band would be proud to call their own.

The MC5 inspired song is "Kick Out The Jammies," a profanity laced ode to not going out, staying home and being comfortable.  It's remarkable how The Drolls captured the spirit of those old MC5 songs on this.  There's the same sort of heavy, garage-influenced guitar riffing, a pounding, propulsive rhythm section and an appropriately screeching guitar solo tightly packaged into a sub-three minute song.  Oh, and it's about pajamas and not wanting to leave the house. Perfect.

On the B side we have "I am a Data Scientist," which is meant to evoke the feelings of listening to a Guided By Voices song.  Now, there are approximately five hundred thousand Guided By Voices songs I have not heard, so I'm not exactly sure where in the catalog they are pulling this particular influence from, but this does sound closer to a traditional Drolls song.  It's on the slower side of the spectrum, with maybe "Before The Fall" being the song I could come the closest to comparing it with, but "I am a Data Scientist" is still has a unique enough sound that you can tell the band is attempting something different. Of the two songs, this is the one I personally like the best.

This was a fun record and luckily the band and label have made it very clear that this is the first of many years worth of 7"s paying homage to various bands.  There's absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever that every single month for the foreseeable future there will definitely be a new Drolls 7" released in this same vein.  There is no chance whatsoever that this is a one time release.  Promise.  While no one has told me personally, I assume that June's volume two will feature songs in the style of Boston and Gorilla Biscuits.  I'm also fairly certain that July will pay tribute to the musical stylings of The Locust and Wang Chung.  I don't know about you, but I'm counting the seconds until those records are released.  I've started counting now.

The Drolls - Novelty Rock Monthly Singles Club, Vol. One:

Friday, May 19, 2023

Record Store Day Haul #2: The Dismemberment Plan - Change LP - Blue Vinyl (/2100)


Partisan (2023, Reissue)

The second and final Record Store Day release I picked up this year was The Dismemberment Plan's fourth album, change.  This one wasn't available in-store the day I went, so I had to pick it up online when leftovers were put up for sale the next day.  I don't even remember what store I picked it up from.  Port of Sound, I think?  Anyway, it wasn't tough to track down and I ended up seeing it for sale on multiple sites that day.

After the tour de force that was Emergency & I, folks were understandably pretty psyched for the follow up.  I've always liked Change and thought it was a good record, but it kind of isn't able to hold a candle to Emergency & I.  The songs are all good, if not a bit mellower than the ones on their previous outing in general.  For me, "Pay For The Piano" is the standout as it gets the most raucous of the bunch, but again, every song is good.

I do find it kind of off that the first two Dismemberment Plan records have never been released on vinyl.  Even change had previously been released in 2014, I just hadn't picked it up at the time.  I'd like to see the other ones get the treatment, even though, much like Change, they can't really compare to Emergency & I either.  Sometimes it's tough when a band has a true classic in their catalog like that.

The Dismemberment Plan - Change:


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Record Store Day Haul #1: K-Solo - Tell The World My Name LP - Yellow Vinyl (/1800)


Real Gone Music/Atlantic (2023, 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.

Calling anything Record Store Day related a 'haul' this year is a pretty misleading.  I only added two new records to my collection this year and only got one of them in a store.  The one I'll post about on Friday had to be mail ordered the day after.  But this K-Solo record is the one I wanted the most and was the one I was able to pick up at Factory Records in Dover on the big day.

When I was younger, I only had K-Solo's second record, Time's Up.  It wasn't until many years later that I was able to backtrack and pick up a copy of his debut.  And I'll be honest, the copy that I picked up wasn't in the best condition in the world, so it was nice to see that it would finally be reissued.  It's definitely a fun record to listen to, especially as the bulk of the production was handled by Parrish from EPMD, aside from a song handled by Erick, so it was an all Hit Squad affair. For 1990, the beats are great and doesn't sound old the way some other records of that era do.

K-Solo can also handle his own on the microphone.  If anything, I think the main issue is he's in a crew with some pretty incredible MCs.  EPMD are great, Das EFX are completely insane and few can hold their own with Redman, so K-Solo probably was going top be a little overshadowed being surrounded by talent like that.  So maybe this isn't a must hear classic in comparison, but it's still a great listen that can hang with all but the most elite hip hop albums that came out in 1990.

K-Solo - Tell The World My Name:

Friday, May 12, 2023

Pollen - Chip LP - Silver Vinyl (/200)


President Gator (2022, Reissue)

Originally released in 1999, Chip was the final full length released by Pollen, a band that I really dug at the time.  This album came out a couple of years after Peach Tree, which was (and is) my favorite album of theirs.  By the time Chip came out, the band was no longer on Wind-Up and had relocated to Fueled By Ramen records.  I do remember being quite excited that the record was coming out, but when I did pick it up, it didn't really do anything for me.  I likely listened to it a few times and just filed it away, preferring to listen to Peach Tree again if I needed a Pollen fix.

Looking back on it many years later, I have no idea why I didn't listen to Chip all that much.  When it was announced that Pollen was reissuing this record, I figured I should pick it up.  After all, I still had the CD and did want to put together a complete Pollen collection on vinyl if possible (Still waiting on their first album Bluette).  When I listened to this album again for the first time in decades, the only thing I could really think was that it sounds pretty great.  

It is a strong record that isn't all that dissimilar from Peach Tree at the end of the day.  The songs on here are just as catchy, with lots of great hooks and the sort of big, fat guitar sound that I went crazy for in the late 90s.  It's honestly kind of perplexing that I didn't really get it at the time and I'm glad I ended up grabbing this as it's allowed me to reconnect with an album that I very unfairly didn't give the time that it deserved.

Pollen - Chip:

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Eazy-E - Eazy-Duz-It / 5150 Home 4 Tha Sick 2xLP


Priority / Ruthless (2002, 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.

While I have always enjoyed NWA, the various members solo work has been a mixed bag.  Of course, Ice Cube wins that contest hands down as he has three incredible LPs and a great EP.  MC Ren put out an EP that I really liked, but then I never got into any of his full lengths.  I bought The Chronic by Dr. Dre the week it came out (in a CD longbox) and while I can't say I thought it was bad, I lost interest in it very quickly and I grew to resent it as I tend to think that's the record that ended up killing the Golden Era of hip hop (it's a long story, but I have my reasons).

Eazy-E was my least favorite member of NWA, plus he ended up being the punching bag of Cube and Dre as they left the group.  I never had Eazy-Duz-It when it originally came out, but I did have the 5150 Home 4 Tha Sick EP, based on the strength of seeing the video for "Only If You Want It."  I ended up getting the CD of Eazy-Duz-It for free at some point during my tenure in the music biz.  It made the most sense to just grab this version of the vinyl as it had both in one convenient place.

That said, I have no idea how often I'll actually listen to it.  Eazy-Duz-It sounds about ten thousand years old.  It's crazy how primitive the beats sound, even compared to Straight Outta Compton.  Eazy was never the most gifted on the microphone, but luckily Ren shows up on three of the tracks to save the day.  It's still 5150 that's the real draw for me, mostly because of the production.  Apparently Naughty By Nature actually produced "Only If You Want It," which is something I didn't realize back then and it's the best non-NWA song Eazy ever did.  It takes advantage of his cadence better than most songs, but even then, it can come close to being annoying by the end of the song.

As I write this, I'm trying to figure out why I bought it.  I think it was mostly just because I had the CD and wanted to replace it with the vinyl.  These releases haven't aged that well, but I still think it's better to have the vinyl than a promo CD from twenty years ago.


Monday, May 8, 2023

Replica City - Last Rights Flexi 7"


Snappy Little Numbers (2023)

When I first saw the artwork for this flexi 7", coupled with the name of the song, I have to admit that I did sort of anticipate some yelling, hooting and hollering.  What I'm getting at is I expected it to lean on the hardcore side of things, but I'm happy to report, I was wrong.

I feel like I haven't heard something like this in a few decades.  From the moment the one and only song, "Last Rights" starts playing, I'm instantly transported back to the mid 90s, when I started to discover bands like Boys Life and Blueprint.  Melancholy rock.  Emo? Maybe, though I always felt that term was thrown around a little cavalierly in the 90s (and thrown around with blatant disregard after that).  But for me, Replica City have thread the needle perfectly, combining the nostalgic feeling I have for a band like Boys Life with a hint of a band like The Estranged thrown in for good measure.

"Last Rights" is the song on the flexi, but over on ye olde Bandcamp, there's two more songs that are every bit as good.  Had these two songs been added and a vinyl 7" been released with all three, that would have been a lovely moment that transported me right back to 1995.  But even as is, "Last Rights" is the best song of the three and is absolutely worth picking up in its current, flexible format.  I hope to hear more from these guys.

Replica City - Last Rights Flexi 7":

Friday, May 5, 2023

The Karl Hendricks Trio - Declare Your Weapons LP


Merge (1998)

Here it is, the last Karl Hendricks full length that I needed to pick up on vinyl.  Sadly, 2003's The Jerks Win Again and 2007's The World Says only came out on CD, so until someone decides to press them, I'm all caught up on Karl Hendricks vinyl aside from a split 7" that I've been lazy about picking up.  And it feels good to have all of these records finally.  While I have had the CDs for ages, there's just something different about being able to listen to them on a turntable.

If there's one thing that you can say about Karl and company is that they are nothing if not incredibly consistent.  Their records mostly sound the same from album to album, and in this case I mean that as a huge compliment.  They were never a group that worked well within a 'recommended if you like' culture.  They always just made the sort of music they wanted to make and didn't ever really fit in with the popular sounds of any era that they put out an album during.  But while they may not have had the largest fanbase or the flashiest sound, they just cranked out album after album after album of incredible songs.  Declare Your Weapons is no exception.

As with most Karl records, I tend to favor the faster songs like "A Letter To The Coach," "The Policeman's Not Your Friend" and "The Smile That Made You Give Up."  That said, when Mr. Hendricks is feeling melancholy there are few songwriters that can hit you right in the guts the same way he can.  Sound-wsie, there's nothing 'emo' about The Karl Hendricks Trio, but if you're looking that can weave real emotion and pain into their songs, Karl is better at it than most.

Another great record by one of my favorite, if not somewhat overlooked, bands.  People really need to have more Karl Hendricks Trio records in their collection, and while I don't know that I'd recommend Declare Your Weapons as the first one they should pick up, it should definitely end up on their shelf after grabbing a few of the others.

The Karl Hendricks Trio - Declare Your Weapons:

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

OFTB - Straight Up Watts LP


Big Beat (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.

Operation From The Bottom, or OFTB, were a gangster rap group from Watts, CA.  Straight Up Watts was their only full length album in the 90s, though they put out a few singles and made some compilation appearances before the decade was over.  I had never heard of these guys until somewhat recently when I was digging around for something new (but old) to listen to.  It's a solid record, but it's difficult to listen to without making comparisons to other West Coast hip hop that was coming out at the same time.

The easiest one to make is to NWA.  Subject matter is similar, beats are not too different from what NWA was working with on Straight Outta Compton, but are a little more advanced, from a technology perspective anyway.  The beats sound less old, but I couldn't call them better, if that makes any sense.  On top of that one of the guys in the group sounds just like MC Ren.  Not at the same lyrical level or anything, but the tone of his voice and inflections are eerily similar to Ren.

Ultimately, this is a fun listen.  It captures West Coast hip hop before it was completely transformed into g funk land.  I like this sort of thing way more than I like The Chronic or any of the soundalikes that spawned in its wake.  This feels more like the path that Ice Cube was forging with Da Lench Mob.  I can't say this is elite, but it's pretty good and was worth it to me to add to the collection.

OFTB - Straight Up Watts:

Monday, May 1, 2023

Samiam - Stowaway - Sea Blue And Aqua Blue With Bone And Yellow Splatter Vinyl (/300)


Pure Noise (2023)

First of all, things are starting to get a little out of hand naming these vinyl variants.  Bone splatter?  It looks like white to me.  I mean, it barely looks like white if you look really close.  This particular variant was limited to 300 copies and was one of several variants released.  By the time I went to buy, this was the best looking one left, but I'm not getting any others.  As I've mentioned, with a few exceptions, I'm really trying to not own multiple copies of the same record, so this one will do.

Samiam is a band that I got into later than most people, but are a band I really ended up enjoying.  This is their first full length since Trips came out in 2011 and it's lovely.  The first few times I listened to it, I wasn't sure that I liked it.  But that was primarily because I was listening to it while I was working and was being too strongly influenced by the first song, "Lake Speed."  It's too fast and shouty and lacks the melodic vibe that makes Samiam such a great band.  There's something to be said about picking the right opening track, and I'm not sure this was the correct choice.

The rest of the album is quite nice.  Catchy songs, with Sergie's excellent guitar work topped with lots of melodic vocal harmonies.  It's really a perfect blend of the sort of thing that I tend to like to listen to.  I can't say that 2023 has been knocking my socks off with new releases so far this year, but Stowaway breaks through.  It might not sound like anything fresh, new or exciting, but that's not what I want from this band.  I want Samiam to sound like Samiam, and thankfully, they still do.

Samiam - Stowaway:

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Boogie Down Productions - Live Hardcore Worldwide LP


Jive (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.

Boogie Down Productions has always been one of my very favorite hip hop groups, ever since I was a teenager.  I'm pretty sure the first time I heard them was on the Yo! MTV Raps: The CD compilation album.  It had a version of "My Philosophy" on it that is still my favorite version of the song (and one that I'm not sure was released on vinyl, at least not by cross checking run times on Discogs).  From their I started buying BDP albums and Live Hardcore Worldwide was the first 'new' release of theirs once I had started listening to them.

I've gone on record many times saying live albums are not usually my thing, but when I was fourteen years old, this was the only place I could find any way to listen to songs from the first Boogie Down Productions album, Criminal Minded.  It took another year or so before I was able to find a sketchy looking copy of that CD in a Coconuts one day that I had to convince my dad to buy me as I had no cash on hand.  Despite my feelings for live albums in general, I do like listening to this one still.  I'm sure it's fueled by nostalgia, but I also have more context on the shows themselves now.  

Several songs were recorded at S.O.B's in New York,  When I was a kid, I was really just imagining them playing arenas or gigantic venues because I really just had no idea.  I eventually went to S.O.B.s in the early 2000s to see Del The Funky v play and was pretty surprised how small that place was.  Imagining peak KRS-One just destroying a place that only holds six or seven hundred people is wild to imagine.  I was lucky enough to see him play last year in a small venue and he was amazing.  I can't even imagine what it would have been like to be there live in 90 or 92.

This is also the last of the Boogie Down Production CDs that I needed to get on vinyl.  And even though there are a few songs on the CD that didn't make it to the version on wax, I'm still really happy to have finally been able to find this at a good price.  Now the question is do I want to start hunting down their 12" singles.  I'm not sure I want to commit to that just yet, but I do need to do more research on that extended remix of "My Philosophy."

Friday, April 14, 2023

Steve Adamyk Band - Do You Wanna Know 7" - White Vinyl & Test Press w/ Alternate Sleeve


Drunk Dial (2023)

I cannot say that I was aware of Drunk Dial records before this release, but what I seem to have discovered is that they have a schtick.  And that's not meant in a derogatory way at all.  It's more due to my own personal vocabulary limitations.  The only other word I could think of was to describe it as a gimmick.  Basically, they say that a band is provided with enough alcohol and then some recording takes place.  This 7" is their eleventh foray into this experiment (maybe that was the word all along) and features one of my longtime favorites as Steve Adamyk Band turns in two tunes.

The A side is a cover of "Do You Wanna Know," which was originally by The Kids.  It translates quite well to a SAB song with the rolling guitar chord progressions and call and response chorus.  The B side is a cover of a Sedatives song, "Slip Away."  That's the band that is the reason I became such a big Steve Adamyk band.  I love that Sedatives LP, and I bought the first Steve Adamyk 7" on P Trash because it was Steve from Sedatives.  I don't know that this version is inherently different or better than the original, but it is a fun blast from the past for me.  It is crazy that Sedatives album is fourteen years old already.

I have two versions of the record, the limited to 100 white vinyl version would typically be the one I'd be going after.  But I also picked up the limited to 10 test pressing.  Now, I've gone on record in the past saying I really don't collect test pressing aside from hanging on to PopKid records ones.  This time I was tempted by the alternate cover and the fact that the label made it available via an instagram post and a totally normal and non-gouging price.  It was there.  I was there.  I bought it and I'm happy I did.

Steve Adamyk Band - Do You Wanna Know 7":

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Run-DMC - Down With The King 2xLP

Run-DMC - Down With The King 2xLP

Profile (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 Age' 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.

If you really want to talk about a supremely unpopular opinion in hip hop, allow me to bestow this little nugget of insanity upon you.  I think Down With The King is the best Run-DMC album.  Chaos, right?  Well, hear me out.  So much about what connects with you is about time and place, and to some extent your age.  I was sixteen years old when this record came out in 1993.  All of the earlier, classic, beloved Run-DMC albums had come out years earlier and to a sixteen year old, 1986 seemed like a prehistoric time where Transformers were certainly more important than hip hop.  Down With The King was the album that came out when I was paying attention.

Don't get me wrong, I was aware of their earlier material and how important they were, but those records sounded so old to me.  It's mostly because of the production as things were changing so incredibly fast in the early 90s.  Down With The King has songs produced by The Bomb Squad, Q-Tip, EPMD and of course Pete Rock with his magnificently produced title track.  That song, which features Pete and CL Smooth is one of the classic tracks of that year, in my opinion.  With legendary producers like that all working together to make Run_DMC seem contemporary, it was going to connect more with me, as this was the era of hip hop that I was following.

That's not to say the record or the group's performance is perfect.  It's uneven at times and not everything hits the way it's supposed to.  At times, they lean into the sounds of 1993 a little too much, to the point where I forget this is actually Run-DMC.  They sound like Onyx over here, Naughty By Nature over there (Even the cover is perhaps a bit too similar to 19NaughtyIII).  It's never bad or anything, but it's a group that doesn't sound particularly comfortable with their place in the hip hop landscape of the early 90s.  

Still, when this record hits, it hits pretty hard and of all of the Run-DMC songs that are out there, these have always been the ones that resonated the most with me.

Run-DMC - Down With The King:

Monday, April 10, 2023

Chisel - Set You Free 2xLP


Numero (2023, Reissue)

I think that most people first heard of Ted Leo as he and the Pharmacists started to gain notoriety.  But for me, I was lucky enough to have gotten on board when his main outlet was still Chisel.  From the moment I heard to opening riff of "Hip Straights," the lead track from their album 8am All Day, I was hooked.  I think that Set You Free had just come out when I had first heard 8am All Day so I essentially bought both albums at roughly the same time.

And as great as 8am was, Set You Free really took things up to a higher level.  The songs were a bit more complicated and you could tell that as songwriters, everyone in the band had grown considerably since the last record.  Yes, there was definitely the mod influenced, Odd Numbers type sound as the ground floor of this record, but there was a stronger indie rock feeling starting to seep in.  The songs were still bouncy, for the most part, but there was a different sort of heft to them this time out.

Numero has reissued Set You Free on double vinyl with some bonus tracks.  I have the original pressing of this, so it was a double dip for me.  The bonus tracks aren't the most eye grabbing, spectacular list of tunes that I've seen.  A live version of "Town Crusher," an extended version of the album's instrumental track, and early versions of two songs, one from the OTS 7" and the other from a split 7" with Velocity Girl.  Only the B side "Guns From Meridian Hill" is a song that's not already on the main album.  But the thought of having it this expanded to the double LP was the real selling point as the original track listing was a bit long to fit comfortably onto a single LP.  

In a real departure for me, I didn't even buy the colored vinyl.  I had some store credit kicking around a place that only had the black vinyl in stock and just figured that I already had this album once, so if I'm going to buy it again it probably makes more sense to buy it with 'pretend money' than it does to shell out new spending on the colored vinyl.  I'm not positive I made the right call to be honest, but as I get older I'm starting to shift more towards having a nice copy in the collection that sounds great versus always trying to chase down the rarest variant.

Set You Free and Chisel as a band have long been favorites of mine.  I was always very happy to see Ted start to receive some of the credit I thought he was due as the Pharmacists thing started to take off, but I always held an extra special place in my heart for Chisel.  I am also very eager to finally get to see them play for the first time in May.  More than anything, what I want to know is if Numero ever plans to tackle 8am All Day or Nothing New and the various singles.  There's a lot of great Chisel music still out there needing the deluxe treatment.  Enough for a proper box set, really.

Chisel - Set You Free:

Friday, April 7, 2023

The Karl Hendricks Trio - For a While, it was Funny LP


Merge (1996)

Another LP in my quest to own everything by the Karl Hendricks Trio on vinyl.  For a While it was Funny is the band's fifth full length (again, depending on if you count Some Girls Like Cigarettes as a full length, which I tend to do for whatever reason), and it was their first proper full length release on Merge (though the just mentioned Some Girls... was rereleased on Merge the year prior).  It was a step up in notoriety for the group, but it certainly didn't see them ditching their lower fidelity aesthetic that they had been perfecting.

This is another wonderful record of scratchy guitar crunch, with emotionally charged lyrics.  It's not emo, it's assuredly in the indie rock wheelhouse, but there is a heft and intelligence to the lyrics that flys a little higher than is typical for bands of this era.  

Things start off hot with the full force "Naked and High on Drugs," but settle into a predominantly mid tempo groove.  There's some slower songs and some faster ones, but the bulk of the album cruises along at a pretty perfect speed, allowing the guitar work and vocals to shine.  They've always been a band that never felt like they were as popular or lauded as they should have been, but they sure did crank out a lot of albums, some it must have been clicking with enough people to keep things going.  ANd I'm very grateful for that.

The Karl Hendricks Trio - For a While, it was Funny:

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Gang Starr - Moment of Truth 3xLP


Virgin / Noo Trybe (2051, 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 Age' 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.

Daily Operation and Hard to Earn stand quite high on my list of all time favorite hip hop albums.  They came out in 1992 and 1994, respectively, and sit in that sweet spot of my own personal Golden Era.  I didn't look backwards as much back then, so I wasn't as familiar with their albums before 1992 and by the time Moment of Truth came out in 1998, I was pretty checked out on most hip hop.  I don't know why it took them four years between albums back then, but I'm not sure a year' or two difference would have put it anymore on my radar back then.

I came to find out over the years that many people, to the point where I would a say a majority, place Moment of Truth as the best Gang Starr album.  I don't know that I could say that, but it is really good and way better than I would have figured for a record that came out in 98.  The secret sauce here is how well DJ Premier puts together beats.  While there is certainly a slightly different vibe compared to their early 90s releases, for the most part the production still feels genuine and is similar enough to me that it works.  It does have something of a minimalistic feeling on some songs, but again it still sounds like Gang Starr.

And to me, Guru sounds exactly the same, which is a compliment, I don't want him to sound different.  His laid back, somewhat monotone delivery just works for him.  He's a skilled lyricist, but always shines the brightest when he's working with top tier production.  Do I think this is the best Gang Starr album? No, Daily Operation and Hard to Earn are superior in my opinion.  But Moment of Truth is really strong and is just as good as, and in some instances is better than, Step in the Arena.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Werewolf Jones - Rot Away LP


Big Neck (2022)

This Werewolf Jones record came in at the very tail end of 2022, but to me it feels like a 2023 release.  Anything coming out in December is a record my brain tends to push to the next year.  Regardless of the year, I'm not positive this is a band that would be the sort to make one of my personal end of the year lists.

I've reviewed other releases by Werewolf Jones, tapes mostly, but I am always amused by their name, which I think is a tremendous band name.  I haven't been as enamored with their music, but it's mostly because stylistically, they don't fit that well into the sort of thing that I typically am drawn to.  A lot of that is in the vocals, which are of the throat shredding variety.  I can't say they are particularly melodic, but I will say that they are better than most bands that pursue this sort of thing.  I can feel genuine passion and energy, it doesn't just sound like screaming for the sake of it.

The other thing that I can say is that for the most part, the music itself works, for this sort of thing anyway.  This is a band that is tight and when they play at a million miles an hour, it never feels like things are going to go off the rails.  The recording quality really shines through here as the bass in particular sounds really full and drives home the lightning fast guitar riffs.  Again, this isn't really my sort of thing, but as far as bands straddling that divide between hardcore and garage, Werewolf Jones does it better than most others out there.

Werewolf Jones - Rot Away:

Friday, March 31, 2023

The Karl Hendricks Trio - Sings About Misery and Women LP


Fire (1994)

I recently decided to put my head down and finish acquiring all of the Karl Hendricks Trio full lengths that were released on vinyl.  I've had these CDs forever, but never really committed to snagging all of the vinyl.  I've now since corrected that and have a few of his records to write about in the coming weeks.

Sings About Misery and Women was wither the second or third Karl Hendricks Trio full length, depending on what you categorize Some Girls Like Cigarettes as.  It was the first time the group had released an album on a moderately sized label as in the UK this came out on Fire records.  I'm not exactly sure whether or not that made a huge difference for the band as it has never felt that Karl and company really got their due for being as great as they are.

This album is another prime example of that, song after song of powerful music, with Karls bitter, but never defeated lyrics.  Even though his subject matter tended to focus on some of the down times in one's life, there was always a little bit of unflinching optimism peppered through everything.  Glad to have finally picked this one up on vinyl.

The Karl Hendricks Trio - Sings About Misery and Women:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising 2xLP


AOI / Chrysalis (2023, 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 Age' 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 had a complicated relationship with De La Soul over the years.  Not that anything about them is inherently complicated, but I've had mixed feelings about their albums, particularly 3 Feet High and Rising.  I didn't listen to De La Soul as a kid when they were originally out.  In 1989, when this album first was released, I wasn't super into hip hop yet.  It was 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out that sent me down that path, but I didn't look in the rear view for this one.

I eventually became aware of the group and have tried to give their albums chances over the years.  De La Soul has always been one of those groups that I felt like I was supposed to like.  I'm not sure why they hadn't connected with me in a meaningful way.  There were times where I listened to this album and thought it was good.  There were times I listened to it and found it really annoying and so it went over the years.  I had a reissue of the CD that I got while in the music biz in the early 2000s, but eventually sold it as part of a CD purge.  I've probably downloaded and deleted the MP3s of the album a dozen times over the years.  One thing I never had was the vinyl, which has been out of print and expensive for ages.

When the news came out a few months back that De La Soul was back in the mix with their classic albums and that everything was being released to streaming platforms and rereleased as physical media, I figured I would just grab this.  I was finally able to sit down with 3 Feet High and Rising on a turntable, really listening to it.  I've always felt that listening to a record on vinyl is a very different experience than any other way of listening.  It's not because of some magic, audiophile sound quality mumbo jumbo, I just find that when I put on a record, I really listen to it.  It's a different, tactile experience for me.

So anyway, I've listened to the album on vinyl now and I do have some different opinions, but others were reinforced.  First the negatives.  It's too long.  At nearly seventy minutes, I just don't need that much music in one shot.  I also hate the skits.  I know the album is considered very innovative as far as bringing the skit to hip hop, but for me that's not something to be proud of.  I think they bring every album in the world to a screeching halt and it's especially egregious for 3 Feet High and Rising.  If you cut out all of the skits and maybe a song or two the album would be a lot tighter and easier to listen to, I think.

On the positive side, there are some really great songs on here.  "Eye Know," The Magic Number" and Potholes in my Lawn" stand out in a big way, particularly when you realize this came out in 1989 and how little hip hop sounded like this at the time.  I don't think I ever need to hear "Me Myself and I" ever again, but I think that's probably recency bias in that nearly every classic episode of Yo! MTV Raps that's streaming on Paramount+ shows this video and that wore me down after a while.

I am glad I own this record now.  It's obviously important and quite good in places.  It's a little bloated for my personal tastes, but the good outweighs the bad by a long shot.  I have other De La Soul albums on vinyl preordered, so I'm eager to re-experience those and see what other wrong opinions I may have been holding onto over the years.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Antler Joe and the Accidents - Go Commercial! 7"


Feral Kid (2022, Reissue)

This is a reissue of a 7" that originally came out in 1981.  It's apparently quire rare and sought after and if the sales history on Discogs is to be believed, it has regularly sold for many hundreds of dollars the few times it's actually been sold.  Well, much to the dismay of those that shelled out major cash, you can now grab it for seven bucks.  Score.

Musically, it's OK.  I like it better than I do most snotty punk rock of this era.  People throw around phrases like Killed By Death style and while that means very little to me, I know there are others that base their entire existence around those words.  The songs are catchy for the most part with slightly nasally vocals, but there's enough melody there where the record doesn't sound like a parody of itself.

Of the three songs, I like the last one, "Who Needs a Woman Like You," the best.  It's not super different from the other two, but there's some fun saxophone going on that makes the song stand out more to me.  I'm not really the target demo for this record.  I'm old and like old music, but I'm not as old as the folks that came up in this scene, so it tends to sound dated to me and I have no personal connection to it from my youth.   As songs, they are perfectly serviceable old, catchy punk songs, but it's not the sort of thing that I tend to gravitate towards.

Antler Joe and the Accidents - Go Commercial!:

Friday, March 24, 2023

Overwhelming Colorfast - S/T LP - Clear w/ Yellow & Red Splatter Vinyl (/1000)


Org Music (2022, Reissue)

Releases for Record Store Day have typically been getting less and less interesting as the years go by.  In particular, the Black Friday version of the even essentially never has anything that I'm interested in.  This past year was an anomaly as one of the releases was this reissue of the first Overwhelming Colorfast album.

I'm not sure exactly how this one ended up on their list.  I find it difficult to believe that there was a huge clamoring from the general public for this album.  But for folks like me, this is on e of the more exciting records to be part of RSD in ages.

I first got into Overwhelming Colorfast through the band fluf.  I had heard favorable comparisons and fluf even covered the Overwhelming Colorfast song "Song in D" on one of their 7"s.  This album, their self titled debut, wasn't my entry point.  I had picked up Two Words prior to that and honestly, my absolute favorite record on theirs is Moonlight & Castanets.  But I have had the CD of this album forever and it's chock full of noisy, big guitar pop.

fluf is definitely a solid comparison and if that doesn't work for you, I would think pretty much anyone that likes Sugar or the more recent Bob Mould solo records would be happy to add this record to their collection.  I have seen it teased that the band is currently working on getting Two Words pressed on vinyl for the first time.  I can't wait for that one and am just keeping my fingers crossed that we'll get to my favorite, Moonlight & Castanets after that.

Overwhelming Colorfast - S/T:

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust To Dust LP


Def Jam (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 Age' 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 really liked 3rd Bass when I was a teenager and I feel like their albums have held up pretty well over the years, even if the Cactus. Al/Bum is probably about twenty minutes longer than it really needs to be.  When the group broke up, I purchased the MC Serch solo record, Return of The Product.  I never heard from Prime Minister Pete Nice once 3rd Bass was done.

I don't understand how, but I had no idea this album even existed back then.  I should have, I was recently reading an old issue of The Source that I know I had as a kid and there was a gigantic ad for it.  But for whatever reason I forgot or it just never registered.  I definitely don't remember ever seeing a video on Yo! MTV Raps, but I saw one for MC Serch's "Here It Comes."  That's probably the biggest reason I bought Serch and didn't know about Pete.

And that's a shame, because the sinister Prime Minister was always my favorite of the two.  His gravelly voiced, laid back delivery always seemed elevated and mature, especially next to MC Serch being kind of a clown (a lovable clown, but a clown nonetheless).  This album is just chock full of Pete.  It's a strong record with production that reminds me a lot of the second 3rd Bass album, Derelicts of Dialect. As a whole, it is better than Return of The Product, I think.  But MC Serch has higher highs and there isn't any one song on Dust to Dust that is as good as "Here It Comes" or "Back to the Grill."  

I think I also would have liked this more if I had heard it back in 1993.  While I have discovered lots of great albums from that era later in my life, the ones that always stick with me the most are the ones I listened back when they originally came out.

Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich - Dust To Dust:

Monday, March 20, 2023

Travis Cut - In Transit 7" - Yellow Vinyl & Orange Vinyl


Brassneck / Speedowax (2021)

I am writing about this record a bit later than probably is ideal for those involved in its release, but my copies were hanging out in a pile of records from the UK waiting for the appropriate time to be shipped to take maximum advantage of crazy postage rates.  Even though it came out a year and a half ago, it was worth the wait and I can only say if you haven't already picked this up, you should do so immediately.

Travis Cut were another one of those great melodic punk bands that was kicking around in the UK at the same time as Broccoli, Chopper, Skimmer, Hooton 3 Car, Crocodile God and that crew.  They leaned a bit more on the pop punk and J Church-y side of the spectrum and boy oh boy did they put out a lot of 7"s.  And boy oh boy do I own a lot of Travis Cut 7"s.

The three songs on this 7" were originally recorded in 2002 and were meant to be part of a full length album that never came to be.  Finally released now (with a fourth as part of a compilation 7" that's also in the queue to write about), these songs are a perfect time capsule of a music scene that will always be my very favorite.  All three songs are fast, tight and super energetic, with the trademark Travis Cut knack for big hooks and a catchy chorus.  These songs wouldn't sound out of place at all on their singles comp, Another Day, Another Drummer, which incidentally really needs a proper vinyl release so I can listed to these songs on my turntable without having to flip forty records over.

There are two versions of this record on different color vinyl and with different sleeves.  I still feel that urge for variants on some bands so I had to pick up both, but ultimately the best thing about this release is the songs and getting to hear new Travis Cut for the first time in decades.  A true cause for celebration.

Travis Cut - In Transit 7":

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin' Lifetime Bidz LP


SOUL (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 Age' 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 brings back a lot of memories, but mostly ones of annoyance.  In 1993, when this Young Black Teenagers album came out, Yo! MTV Raps played the single off it constantly.  I felt like every episode I was forced to watch the video for "Tap The Bottle."  I grew to hate that song and never really thought about the group once that single finally faded from the airwaves.  That is until recently.

Once again, I was digging around for older hip hop albums that I hadn't listened to in the early 90s and I stumbled across "Tap The Bottle" again.  When I listened to it, for whatever reason, I wasn't nearly as annoyed by it as I was as a teenager.  In fact I kind of liked it? Bizarre.  So, I decided to listen to the whole album.  To my surprise, it's actually quite good.

Sure there's the whole dumb thing of a bunch of white kids calling themselves Young Black Teenagers, though I think that stupidity was mostly litigated during the release of their first album.  What really makes this album stand out is how great the production is.  The rapping is totally fine, it's not elite level, but it gets the job done.  The production, however, is elite.  Top notch beats, loops and samples.  I was really surprised by how strong it was until I looked into it a bit more.  The production was handled by The Bomb Squad, architects of Public Enemy's signature albums.  And while this doesn't sound like PE at all, it does sound outstanding.  Top tier golden age beats.

Basically, I'm shocked by how much I like this, but I have no problem saying it's a pretty great as a total package.  Again, if you are expecting something special lyrically, you might be a little let down, but if you're looking for something that simply sounds good and fits in with your early 90s hip hop collection, you could do a lot worse than this album.

Young Black Teenagers – Dead Enz Kidz Doin' Lifetime Bidz:

Monday, March 6, 2023

Jawbox - Absenter 7" - Orange Vinyl (/502)


Bacteria Sour (1995)

This is a fun record, but not one that's probably all that important for most people.  In 1995, Jawbox released this 7" that contains two songs that would eventually find a home on their final, self titled full length album.  The versions on this 7" are different recordings, but they are reasonably similar, I think.  The main version of this 7" (which I haven't picked up, even though it's pretty inexpensive) was released on DeSoto.  This version isn't the main version.

This fancy orange cover is from the Bacteria Sour release of this 7".  Bacteria Sour is a sub label of Pusmort.  Pusmort is Pushead's label.  Pushead did the fancy art for this version.  It's really just a collectible, at the end of the day.  If you just want the songs, there's the regular release that was easy to get a hold of.  If you wanted to wacky, hard to find version, you could chase this one.

Me, I'm often going to chase the hard-to-find, especially when it's a pretty big difference like completely new artwork.  Plus, there's an extra lure for me as anyone who collects Rocket From The Crypt records knows the legend and frustration of their 7"s that came out on Pusmort.  It's just another fun connection for me.  Luckily, this Jawbox 7" isn't anywhere near as sought after as those Rocket ones, so I was able to add this to the collection for an extremely reasonable price.

Jawbox - "Absenter" (7" Version): 

Friday, March 3, 2023

The PeeChees - Life LP


Damaged Goods (1999)

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I am fully aware that I've been writing about a lot more old music than new recordings lately.  I wish I could find more of a balance, but even though last year had some truly incredible records come out, the quantity of new albums I am interested in seems to have decreased quite a bit for me.  The older I get, I suppose it's more likely to happen.  But I certainly haven't lost my passion for music and buying records, my focus has just been more on filling gaps in the collection and revisiting bands and albums that I overlooked the first time around.  This one falls into the 'fill a gap' category.

Life is the PeeChees singles compilation that came out in 1999.  I have the CD, but I never picked up the LP because I had most of the 7"s.  To be honest, I have all of their 7"s that matter to me.  But as I don't really spend as much time with my CDs, I wanted to pick up this on vinyl, for ease of listening when the mood strikes to sit down and crank some LPs.  Many thanks to my pal Scott in the UK for snagging this for me.  In 1994 as I was exploring the world of punk and indie rock for the first time, a friend of mine in high school let me borrow the Kill Rock Stars compilation album Rock Stars Kill.  This was a transformative record for me and even though some of the bands that blew me away didn't pan out to be long time favorites (the Smog song on this album is about a billion times better than any other song I ever heard by them), a few stuck around, at least in the short term.

One of those was The PeeChees.  Their contribution to this comp, "Patty Coahuila," hit me just right for whatever reason.  That song made a bunch of mix tapes for me back in the day and it still kind of gives me chills when I hear it.  That led me to picking up the Cup of Glory 7".  And then the Scented Gum 7" and then the split 7" with Long Hind Legs.  I was obsessed with these records.  In late 1995, Rocket From The Crypt played Irving Plaza and they brought The PeeChees with them to open.  I could not have been more ecstatic.

That was my freshman year of college and I had started writing for the campus newspaper.  The PeeChees ended up being the first band interview I ever did and if I remember correctly, I think they told me it was only the second time anyone had interviewed them.  I'm sure it was awful as I didn't know anything about anything or anyone, but it was a formative experience for me in my burgeoning punk rock life.  They were so kind and it was one of those early experiences realizing that the bands were part of the family, not just aloof people expecting to be fawned over.

This was before their first full length Do The Math had come out, and man oh man did I love that record when it came out.  But those early 7" and compilation appearances always held an extra special place in my heart.  When I listen to the album, the first side is a wonderful trip down memory lane.   About half way through the B side, I kind of lose interest in the songs, wich mirrors my feelings on them as a whole.  I didn't really like their second album and for me, the magic was always in that first barrage of releases.

I don't know if I would like The PeeChees as much if I heard them for the first time right now.  I might, but I just don't know as my love for them is so tightly connected to those early days of finding my way around a new scene.  Regardless of why I do, I really love these songs and am happy to have an easily playable version of them when the mood strikes me to go back in time a bit.

The PeeChees - Life:

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Mr. Lif - Mo' Mega 2xLP


Definitive Jux (2006)

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 Age' 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.

Aside from Del The Funky Homosapien and Hieroglyphics projects, the one person who kept me somewhat interest in current hip hip in the early 2000s was Mr. Lif.  His I Phantom full length from 2002 really made me sit up and take notice and many did I listen to that album pretty obsessively.  It was one of those records that made me realize that it wasn't so much that I moved away from hip hop, but hip hop moved away from me.  Mr. Lif was speaking to me in a way that almost no one else was at the time.

It took a little while, but the follow up to I Phantom finally was released in 2006.  While I could never say that Mo' Mega reaches the same level of perfection that I Phantom does, it's still a truly great album and stands head and shoulders above the bulk of hip hop albums released after the year 2000.  Mr. Lif's lyrics are political and his rhyme patterns are complex.  But his politics aren't necessarily rooted in the beliefs of either party, rather they are more focused on combatting oppression.  He's very passionate and his delivery straddles that line between providing information and showcasing verbal dexterity.

Production-wise, it's also one of the stronger records to have been released after the Golden Age.  In particular, the beat on the album's third song, "Brothaz," is the ultimate head nodder.  It's a perfect storm where the intensity of the beats lines up perfectly with the message that Lif is delivering.  But the entire album is really strong.  I don't feel like this album got quite as much recognition as I Phantom and it deserves way more.  While it's true, it can't quite reach those heights, that's an absurdly high mark to compare against. 

Mr. Lif - "Brothaz":

Monday, February 27, 2023

Superchunk - Everything Hurts 7" - Pink Vinyl


Merge (2023)

After last years's disappointing Superchunk record, I was curious what their next release would sound like.  Turns out I didn't have to wait all that long as they've released this two song 7".  Both are from the same sessions that spawned Wild Loneliness.  The description of this 7" says they didn't fit because they were " more traditionally Superchunk-sounding than the rest of the LP."  Since I didn't like the LP much, I was hopeful for a turnaround with this 7".

The A Side, "Everything Hurts," does not sound like a traditional Superchunk song to me.  At least not in the "Precision Auto" or "Hyper Enough" sort of way.  It sounds like just another slow song that could have easily been put onto the new album.  It's not bad, there's no such thing as a bad Superchunk song really, but it doesn't have any energy.  It would probably be one of the better songs if it was included on Wild Loneliness, but it's nothing special.

Over on the B side we have "Making a Break."  I can't really say anything all that different about this one either.  If I'm being generous, I could maybe call this a mid tempo song, but it doesn't have a spark.  It's just there, hanging out, being a below average Supercunk song.  Which again, isn't a bad place to be.  I just expect something different when I want to listen to Superchunk, so these songs just don't click with me.  The goofy synth on this one doesn't help either.

Superchunk - Everything Hurts 7":

Friday, February 24, 2023

Star Wars / Return Of The Jedi = スター・ウォーズ / ジェダイの帰還 - Soundtrack LP


Walt Disney Records (2021, Reissue)

The final of the three Japanese reissues of the original Star Wars soundtracks is Return of the Jedi.  That makes sense, since it was the third movie.  There's not a ton to say about this one that I haven't said about the other two as far as sound quality goes.  It sounds great, best I've heard - but it's not like I've heard many versions of this.

What I will say is that the difference between the full score versions of the soundtracks and these reissues of the 80s versions is most noticeable with Return of the Jedi.  It's only a single LP so it contains the least amount of actual music of the three.  But, I will also say that in two very specific ways, it's actually better.  The full score CDs are scores of the special edition versions of the movies that came out in the 90s.  It's really not noticeable at all for Star Wars or Empire.  But for Jedi, it cuts two key things; The original versions of "Lapti Nek" from Jabba's palace and the Ewok's "Yub Nub" from the end of the movie. 

On this version of the soundtrack, both of those original songs are here for your listening pleasure.  The fact that they were removed from the special editions is a travesty, but alas, this many years later it's hard to care that much anymore.  Especially since I have bootleg versions of the original cuts anyway.  This is however, the one instance were I wouldn't call for a straight up vinyl issue of the full score CD.  Grab what they need from there, but keep the Ewoks and Sy Snoodles intact please.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Dred Scott - Breakin' Combs 2xLP


Vinyl Digital (2017, 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 Age' 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.

Breakin' Combs originally came out back in 1994, the year I always say is the last year of the Golden Age.  When it was originally released on Tuff Break records, a subsidiary of A&M, it didn't make any waves.  At least none that I was aware of.  I don't remember reading about Dred Scott in The Source and I certainly have no memory of him being on Yo! MTV Raps.  It came out in June of 94, so while I certainly was starting to get into punk and indie rock at that point, I was still paying reasonably close attention to what was going on in hip hop land.

As has been the case with many of the records I have been writing about recently, this is an album I discovered much later in life, only a few years ago really.  It was once again perusing those 'best forgotten rap albums of the 90s' type lists and Dred Scott popped up.  I listened to a couple of songs and was completely blown away.  Luckily it had been rereleased on vinyl somewhat recently, so obtaining a copy on vinyl wasn't as challenging as some of the others I've had to hunt down.  I'm so psyched I was able to discover this record and add it to the collection as it's pretty phenomenal.

The production is killer, leaning heavily on the East coast boom bap sound that's got one foot in a somewhat rugged, but is smoothed out just a bit by pulling in jazzy loops and samples.  It's not as rough as EPMD and it's not as chilled out as a Tribe Called Quest, but it's somewhere in the middle without sounding too much like either of those other groups.  I'm not sure if that's a description that helps much, but if you dig early 90s production, this one will be right in your wheelhouse.

Lyrically, Dred Scott can certainly hold his own with anyone that was dropping rhymes in 1994.  He flow is mostly straightforward and doesn't veer into ultra complicated off beat type deliveries, but he's not rapping simplistically, his rhyme structures have interesting internal rhyme schemes at times and he's doing a masterful job of weaving stories into his songs.  As another comparison that makes absolutely no sense, he reminds me a little bit of how Kool G Rap composes songs.  Now, he doesn't sound anything like Kool G Rap, there's not mafioso or super hard core stuff here, but just the way he approaches writing his rhymes strikes me as being similar in the way he's able to put out a finished product that accomplishes multiple goals.

This is definitely one of the better albums I discovered way after the fact.  I'd guess there's a better than average chance this might have fallen under your radar as it did mine.  It's definitely worth correcting that and checking out Breakin' Combs.

Dred Scott - Breakin' Combs:

Monday, February 20, 2023

Otis "O" Barthoulameu

I can't find the pictures I took of fluf at the Warped Tour in 96,
so I had to swipe this from the internet.

It goes without saying that I hate writing things like this.  I haven't done too many of them, but when an artist who has had a real, lasting impact on me has passed, I find the need to write a little something about them.  Otis Barthoulameu, or more simply known as O to most, is one of those people.

Full lengths. I was surprised to find out that I don't own
Road Rage on vinyl.  Need to fix that.  
I've written before that I've always felt like I got into the world of punk rock way later than everybody else.  Sure, I was only seventeen or eighteen years old at the time, but when I started to explore and learn, it always felt like I was years behind everyone else and was constantly trying to catch up.  I couldn't tell you the first time I heard them or how I was alerted to them, but at some point in 1995 or so I was told that if I liked Rocket From The Crypt, I should check out fluf.  And check them out I did.

Aside from hailing from San Diego and a general affection for big guitar sounds, I don't know that I ever thought fluf sounded all that much like Rocket From The Crypt.  Sure, maybe on a couple of songs here and there like "Skyrocket" there were similarities, but that didn't matter as I loved fluf for exactly what they were.  Huge, and I mean HUGE, guitar tones, smooth vocal melodies and the ability to just get loud and angry from time to time to make sure you were paying attention.  I simply adored their first two albums and their singles compilation.  

You can't see it, but my copy of the fan club 7" is numbered
#2 of 1000.
They were one of the first bands where I made a huge effort to try to track down all of their 7"s so I could have a complete collection.  Today, it's not all that difficult to pick up most of their singles on Discogs for reasonable prices, but in those pre-internet days finding Garbage Truck and the split 7" with Further was not easy.  Eventually I talked my buddy Alan into trading them to me for something that I can't remember anymore.  I also joined the fluf Value Club that was advertised on their records and got a free 7" and a membership card with an awful picture of myself on it.  Despite being a gigantic pack rat, I cannot find that membership card anywhere.  I haven't seen it in decades, but I know I never would have knowingly thrown it away.  It must be in my attic somewhere.

I also have some Olivelawn records and really enjoyed the Harshmellow 7" that recently came out, but those fluf records, and especially the first two and the singles compilation, would always be so special to me.

I bought this shirt in 95 or 96 from Vintage Vinyl.
I wore it out, thus the horrid stains.
fluf was also one of the first bands that I interviewed while writing for my college newspaper.  In the
summer of 1996, the Warped Tour came to Vernon, NJ.  Why? I have no idea and I'm not sure anyone else did either as to this day it's the most sparsely attended 'festival' show I have ever been to in my life.  I worked out something with some label to set up an interview with fluf that day.  I'm not even sure what label as their Headhunter records were a couple of years old at this point, but their MCA record, Waikiki, hadn't come out yet.

The entire band, and O in particular, were so gracious to a dumb kid that was definitely asking them really basic and bad questions.  Not that I think I ever became a great writer or anything, but whenever I come across a clipping from back then I cringe about how clueless I was.  All three signed my copy of the Garbage Truck 7" that I brought with me (for the first year or so that I started interviewing bands, I always tried to have them sign something, then one day I decided autographs were kind of stupid and stopped doing that) and I was pretty much ready to go back out into the Warped Tour and watch some bands play.

Before I left, O asked me and my friend Joe who was with me if we wanted to come to the next day's Warped Tour show down in Asbury Park.  We said sure and O put us on the following day's guest list with backstage passes.

This was the MCA press photo for fluf, they didn't
use real pictures of themselves for stuff like this.
The next day we drove down to Asbury Park and met up with fluf.  We watched them play (those two Warped Tour shows would be the only times I was ever able to see fluf play live and they were really great both times) and then hung out with them a bit.  O then said that he was going to go over to the second (or maybe even third) stage to go watch a band that he had recorded a record for play.  We went with him and sat on stage next to band playing really fast pop punk songs to about 20 kids that ventured away from the main attractions.  That band was Blink 182.  That's the only time I ever saw them play as they just never really connected with me.  But that also is something that can be said about O.  I was there to see his band, but the moment they were done playing, he immediately wanted to shift my attention to another band that he liked.

Those two days are the only days I ever interacted with O.  I will never pretend to have been his friend or that I knew him at all.  But everything I have ever heard said about him mirrors my brief interaction.  He was kind, funny and seemed to mostly want the attention on someone other than himself.  There was no reason for him to go out of his way to be so nice to a couple of kids from rural northern New Jersey, but he did.  Because that's what punk rock really is at the end of the day.  It's a big family.  And O seems to have been everyone's favorite cousin.

A few of my favorite fluf songs:

"All the Fuckers Live in Newport Beach":

Friday, February 17, 2023

Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back = スター・ウォーズ / 帝国の逆襲 - Soundtrack 2xLP

Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back = スター・ウォーズ / 帝国の逆襲 - Soundtrack 2xLP

Walt Disney Records (2021, Reissue)

Last week we had Star Wars, this week we have the Japanese reissue of the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack.  A lot of what I have to say about this record echos things that I wrote last week.  I still don't understand why these soundtracks are being reissued as is.  The versions where the entire score is played in order are so much better and it seems crazy to me that there's no vinyl version of any of them.

As far as the three soundtracks go, I find Empire to be the least distracting when it comes to out of order songs.  The vinyl sounds great, but like I've said, I'm no audiophile so I have no idea if it's appreciably better than any other version.

Once again, the main draw for me is the artwork, which is fantastic.  I think it's the best of the three Japanese reissues and it is far, far superior to the original US artwork, which was just the picture of Vader's helmet from the advanced poster artwork.  Again, happy to have a nice version of this on vinyl, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that just having it as something to collect drove the acquisition more than a desire to listen to it repeatedly.  Plus, I got it for Christmas, which is even better.