Monday, November 27, 2023

Three Minute Movie – March Winds And April Showers Bring May Flowers LP


Bloated Kat / Dead Broke (2023)

I have been listening to Three Minute Movie since their first 7" and 3" CD compilation appearance came out in 1999.  At that point, I was already instantly purchasing anything that Snuffy Smile released in Japan.  I was completely blown away by the three songs that came out over those two releases.  There was a late 90s emo lean for sure, but like so many of their label mates, Three Minute Movie elevated the material into being something truly special.

As the years have gone by Three Minute Movie's sound evolved.  They've still had sons that venture into emo territory, there's been dalliances with garage rock and some good old pop punk thrown in for good measure along the way.  The band's newest album, March Winds And April Showers Bring May Flowers, is an amalgamation of those sounds. 

The main thing you will hear when you listen are some tremendous, catchy songs with great harmonies and hooks all day long.  The songs are probably not quite fast enough to be considered 'pop punk' in the most literal interpretation of that word, but the pop is definitely front and center.  There are still moments that have a garage flavor to them, such as "Stay By Yourself," which really showcases their lovely, fuzzed out guitar tones.

Then there's a song like "Talking to my Heart."  This is one that reminds me of the bands earliest days.  The band has put together a song that sounds influenced by that 90s emo the band came up during, but not in a way that sounds like a retread.  It's a song that has heart (just look at the song title), but still feels like something that actually came out in 2023.  After all of these years, I'm psyched that Three Minute Movie is still putting out music, and I'm especially psyched that one of their albums has finally been released on vinyl.

Three Minute Movie – March Winds And April Showers Bring May Flowers:

Friday, November 24, 2023

Spoilers - There or Thereabouts LP - Green With Purple & Blue Splatter Vinyl

Spoilers - There or Thereabouts LP - Green With Purple & Blue Splatter Vinyl

Brassneck / Waterslide / Rad Girlfriend / SBÄM (2023)

I have a major complaint with this album.  I get it in the mail, I'm excited to hear something new by a band that I like and it's only eight songs?  How dare Spoilers write eight perfect melodic punk songs and have the temerity to stop there and not write three or four more?  I am being deprived of more great melodic punk and I won't stand for it.  Sure, sure it's very clear on every label's website that it's a mini album, but do you expect me to admit that I didn't notice that at first?  Am I supposed to cop to the fact that maybe the band didn't release this only with me in mind?  Never.

All kidding and stupidity aside, whether this release was two songs or twenty songs long, it would be in the upper echelon of albums I've heard this year.  I've liked Spoilers for a while now and have all of their other records, but this one is hitting me differently this time.  There's so many amazing hooks and melodies in this album.  In the past I'd compared them to Demma-era Snuff, but they've evolved a bit from there and while that Snuff energy is still there for sure, I'm really hearing a different kind of melody, a Crocodile God/Mark Murphy style delivery that punches me right in the face.

I really can't say enough good things about this album and I was serious when I said every song is pretty much perfect.  I very selfishly wish there were a few more songs on here, but only because I just want more once the record ends.  Hopefully Spoilers are hard at work and have more songs in the hopper ready to for a full or maxi or whatever we need to call the album type to get me more of these great songs.

Spoilers - There or Thereabouts:

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Ultramagnetic MC's - Funk Your Head Up 2xLP

Ultramagnetic MC's - Funk Your Head Up 2xLP

Music On Vinyl (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.

I've written about this Ultramagnetic MC's album twice before.  Once back in 2012 when I found the original, single LP pressing of the album and then again back in 2021 when I purchased a bootleg, double LP version of the album.  When I wrote about that album, I said that I would instantly purchase and official, double LP reissue of this album if one were ever to come out.  Well, finally in 2023 my dreams have come true,

Music On Vinyl has released a 180g two LP version of this classic and it sounds better than it ever has.  I've twice spun the yarn about how I first picked up the CD of this album in the Heathrow airport in 1992 while on a seven hour layover as part of a school trip.  But that purchase made because I had some extra trip money in my pockets turned out to be such an eye opening moment when it came to how I viewed hip hop.

While it's definitely colored by nostalgia, Funk Your Head up has always been my favorite Ultramagnetic MC's album.  That isn't taking anything away from Critical Beatdown or The Four Horsemen.  All three arte stone cold classics that should be in anyone's Golden Era hip hop collection.  But now, for the first time in decades, it's pretty easy to finally pick up a copy of this album on vinyl.  Don't miss out, I've watched several past Music On Vinyl reissues go out of print and end up selling for way more than I'm comfortable paying.  I just hope someone completes the trifecta and does a proper reissue of The Four Horsemen next.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Reverse - Behind These Walls LP - Mustardy Brown Vinyl


Boss Tuneage (2023)

Normally, I don't post any reviews the week of Thanksgiving as I typically take off from work that week and try to relax a bit.  But, since I have missed so many posts over the last few weeks, I'm going to try to power through and get some up this week as well.  It's especially important to try to do this for me as I've gotten in a sudden deluge of new records and want to make sure I've gotten to everything so that I can put together my end of the year list.

That brings us to Reverse and their new album Behind These Walls.  If you want to talk about an album that is guaranteed a top spot on my year end list, this would be one of the first albums I'd be talking about.  Reverse was originally active in the 90s UK punk scene and they put out a string of four 7"s that completely blew my mind at the time.  They disbanded without having put out a full length and most times, that would probably be that.

Fate intervened and the band started to release their 7" tracks and other unreleased goodies on SP records from Japan in the form of two CDs.  Then a new 7" followed and that all led to the band putting out their first proper full length a few years ago, Empty Spaces.  What a record that was.  Somehow, I think Behind These Walls is even better.  If anything the songs feel even closer to the magic the band captured on those early 7"s and I haver been listening to this record non-stop since it arrived.

I feel like I may have said something like this about Reverse before, but Behind These Walls sounds ripped straight out of the 90s.  Not that it's a 90s bands with new tunes that sort of sound like the music of yore.  If you told me that the band actually recorded these songs in 1995 and they were just releasing it now, I would one hundred percent believe you.   And this is not some backhanded compliment insinuating that the songs sound old, they sound fresh and vibrant and exciting in a way that so few bands are able to put together these days.  The album has that glorious feeling that so many of my most favorite albums of the 90s had.  It's a palpable energy that is so difficult for me to describe, but it's there and I feel it in my bones when the record is spinning.

Anyone that is into the mid 90s UK punk scene really needs to give Reverse a listen.  They can stand shoulder to shoulder with groups like Broccoli and Hooton 3 Car, that next batch of bands that were following in the footsteps of Snuff, Leatherface, Senseless Things and Mega City Four.  It's so great that a record like this can exist in 2023 and I hope that the boys in Reverse keep this going for many, many more years.

Reverse - Behind These Walls:

Friday, November 17, 2023

Otis Redding - The Singles 2xLP (From Otis Forever: The Albums and Singles 1968 - 1970 Box Set)


Rhino / ATCO (2023) 

My plan of reviewing every Otis Redding album in this box set over a series of consecutive Fridays and/or Mondays failed miserably. But at long last, we can get to the final, double LP of this set, The Singles. For me, this was absolutely the main even of this box set and is something I’ve been waiting for when it comes to Otis. A proper singles compilation.

To me, the comparison must be made to the Three CD set, The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Collection. This set captures every single that Otis Redding released, but there was never a vinyl equivalent. Is The Singles that equivalent now? Not exactly, but it gets us very close. I actually made an Excel spreadsheet and listed every song on the CD set. I then went through and noted when that song appeared on any of the records in the two Otis Redding vinyl box sets. My goal was to see if by having both box sets, do I have all of these songs on vinyl. Turns out, it’s pretty close.

There’s only three songs (excluding live versions) that only exist on the CD set: “Mary’s Little Lamb,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “I’m Depending on You.” That’s not bad considering the CD set has seventy songs on it. Spreadsheet aside, The Mono Singles is an excellent collection of non-album Otis Redding tunes and includes some of my very favorite songs of his.

When you have an album that has hits on it like “Hard To Handle,” “The Happy Song” and “Can’t Turn You Loose,” that’s a pretty high bar. And those are just the highest of highs on an album crammed full of them. To me, this album is worth the purchase of the entire set and having nice shiny copies of all of his posthumous albums is a bonus. I still don’t understand why both box sets include The Dock of the Bay album as that’s just an extra, unneeded copy of you buy both sets, but being able to make two purchases and have pretty much the entire catalog of Otis Redding on vinyl is a truly wonderful thing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Digital Underground - Sons of the P LP


Tommy Boy (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. 

Sons of the P was the second Digital Underground full length, though it was actually the first one of theirs that I bought when it came out in 1991. Naturally, I was very aware of “The Humpty Dance” but it wasn’t something that was driving me to buy a Digital Underground album that felt a little old to me. In hindsight, that’s ludicrous as it was not even a year old, but for whatever reason I didn’t prioritize picking it up immediately. I fixed that pretty soon and grabbed the Sex Packets CD as part of a Columbia House/BMG scam within the next year. 

But, that’s not what we’re talking about right now, we’re talking about Sons of the P. Why did I pick up this album right away? It was the strength of the “No Nose Job” video. That made me buy the cassette single of that before the album came out and then I grabbed the album when that was finally released. I’m not sure why I liked “No Nose Job” as much as I did, but I did and still do. I’ve always had affinity for the less popular Humpty songs for whatever reason. I’ve always liked Digital Underground, but as a kid, I really didn’t appreciate the diversity of their albums the same way I do now. 

At the time, I wished everything was a bit more straightforward and ‘hip hop.’ The Parliament style dalliances where more distracting to me then. But now, I can understand the artistic vision of these albums as something more ambitious than a typical early 90s hip hop album. The experimentations seem more interesting now and the flow of the album has more of a narrative quality than I was aware of in my younger years. Do I still prefer the more straightforward hip hop songs? I do, but I just have a lot more respect for the whole puzzle now. 

I’d been looking for a decently priced version of this on vinyl for quite some time and when one popped up on Discogs, the time was finally there. Though, I would not have been able to grab it without some overseas assistance from my buddy Scott, from Brassneck – so many thanks for helping me finally get my hands on the vinyl version.

Digital Underground - Sons of the P:

Monday, November 13, 2023

Pop Marshal - Rejoice! CD


Fixing A Hole (2023)

Apologies for going such a long time without posting anything.  I've had some real life stuff going on that has made it a bit difficult to be on my normal schedule.  It's still ongoing so I might miss some time here and there in the next few weeks, but I am going to try to get things back to normal as much as I can.  I've got some records to get to before the end of the year, so I'm going to give it my best shot.

Today we have a CD, which isn't as common for me to pick up as vinyl, but when there's a band putting out great tunes, you go where the music is.  Plus, it's on a label in Japan where CD releases are still pretty common for punk rock bands.  The band, however, is not from Japan.  Pop Marshal formed in the wake of Headsparks calling it a day.  I've written about Headsparks before, fronted by Andy Barnard who I've known from his 90s bands of Donfisher, Ohno Express and Gan.  There's still a piece of me that hopes there's a lost Donfisher album out there somewhere that's been hidden all these years, but I digress...

Pop Marshal is very much the next logical step after the last Headsparks album.  You can't say they are all that dissimilar at their cores.  It's another album of outstanding, melodic punk rock that has the quintessential UK feel from the 90s that has always been my favorite scene in the world.  I always feel a similarity in Andy's bands with Hooton 3 Car.  There's something about the way his songs are structured and how the hooks reveal themselves that always reminds of one of my favorite all time bands.

This time out we've got ten songs and they've got fast paced pop songs like "Big Scene," "Less You Know" and "Act Normally."  These are balanced out nicely by some lower tunes that have, to me, more in common with The Last-era Leatherface like "More For Equals" and "Lie Low."  There's even a song the leans into surf sounds on "Bad Beach."  It's a diverse and easy to listen to album that's definitely one of my favorite things to come out this year.  For sure I wish this was on vinyl, but the CD has been spinning in heavy rotation ever since it came in.  Go out of your way to check this one out if you're a fan of the 90s UK scene.

Pop Marshal - Rejoice!: