Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique 2xLP


Capitol / UMe (2019, 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 thirty 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.

It's 2024 and I'm writing about Paul's Boutique.  Granted, I did buy this double LP version close to two years ago at this point, but that doesn't really explain why such a classic album took over 30 years to get in my collection.  When I went looking for this double LP version to finally buy, I had a really difficult time finding it.  Eventually one popped up on Amazon.  When it arrived, the top left corner was dinged in pretty bad.  When I contacted Amazon to exchange it, they didn't have anymore, so they ended up just refunding me for the record and they let me keep it.  So yeah. normally a corner crease like that would bug me quite a bit, but on a free record?  That's much easier to stomach.

Back to why I didn't have this in my collection until a few years ago.  If I'm being honest, it's because I didn't really pay it much mind for a really long time.  When it was originally released in 1989, I had no idea it even had come out.  Zero visibility at all in my world.  I'm I'm not sure I would have cared at the time.  License To Ill was a record I found incredibly annoying as a kid.  I thought the videos I had seen were dumb and I really didn't like the other kids that were listening to it.  It wasn't until 1992 that the Beasties came back onto my radar when videos from Check Your Head started getting played on Yo! MTV raps.  

I loved "Pass The Mic" and bought the cassette single.  I picked up the whole album after seeing the Video for "So What'cha Want."  I didn't really think of going backwards at the time and was happy with Check Your Head and Ill Communication when that came out.  It wasn't really until college that I started to hear the lore of the 'forgotten' Beastie Boys record that was very loved for being so ahead of its time.  It still took a while for me to hear anything on it and even then it was piecemeal.  What I heard was good, but it didn't wow me like their 90s work.

I ended up with the CD in my collection when I was working in the music industry in the early 2000s.  I got it along with a bunch of other Capitol records back catalog from a friend that worked there.  But I really didn't listen to it, I just filed it away in the CD rack and it just sort of hung out there for many, many years.

It was my wife that really opened me up to the album and listening to the whole thing, as an album instead of a handful of songs,  That made me finally appreciate what an incredible record this is.  I think it's meant to be listened to as an album.  Chopping it up for singles, videos or mixtapes does a serious disservice to the overall piece of music that they created.  So yes, I grabbed the 30th Anniversary double LP version and it gets to sit right alongside of Check Your Head and Ill Communication on my record shelf.  For me, that's the Beasties trifecta.  And while Paul's Boutique is very different from the other two, it's every bit as good as they are.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Bear Away - A Drastic Tale of Western Living LP - Yellow Vinyl


Brassneck / Engineer / Sell The Heart / Shield (2022)

This is a record that has been inexplicably sitting in my 'to do' pile for way too long (I have one that's been there for even longer that I desperately need to get to very soon).  I first heard of Bear Away via their split lathe 7" with Custody and was instantly charmed with their take on melodic punk rock.  When it was time for a full length, they ended up on the always stellar Brassneck records, so of course it was a no brainer to pick this up.  

At it's core, it's awesome punk from the UK with one foot in that 90s, influenced sound that I love so much and the other channeling Iron Chic, RVIVR style US influences.  There's lots of heart-on-your-sleeve emotion, but never in a way that feels cheesy or like bad emo.  It's much mopre authentic and comes from a real place of passion for the music being created.

I often say that passion, enthusiasm and energy goes a long way with me when it comes to bands.  If you can make me believe that you believe in what you're doing, I'm halfway hooked already.  Bear Away has that in spades.  I never doubt how into being in this band they are, it comes across on each of the songs on this album.  I feel bad that I'm writing about it so long after the fact, but hopefully this will put it in front of some folks that may have had it fly under their radar.  It's a great album and one that deserves more attention.

Bear Away - A Drastic Tale of Western Living:

Friday, February 23, 2024

Custody - Get Stoked Lathe Cut 7" - Clear


Say-10 (2023)

Hey, it's my favorite band from Finland, Custody.  Talk about a band that can just do no wrong, in my opinion, they are easily one of the best and most consistent bands that are currently active.  While they are gearing up for their third LP, we have two new songs courtesy of a new, Lathe Cut 7" on Say-10 records.

If you are unfamiliar with Custody, I'm not sure how you are even reading my dumb website.  But in any case, they are a perfect, melodic punk rock band that wears their Samiam and Leatherface influences on their sleeve.  The channel a furious dual-guitar attack, with impassioned vocals and a seemingly never-ending supply of hooks.  If it's not clear, I love these guys and the two new songs on this record are every bit as good as their prior output.

The record itself is a lathe cut, double sided on clear plastic (I guess?).  It doesn't sound as good as a traditional vinyl record.  It's a little flat and not as full sounding.  My copy is kind of all over the place with certain parts of songs sounding fine and other parts being a little blown out.  But in general it does a serviceable job delivering the music and it looks really nice.  I would have preferred a proper 7", but I certainly understand the financial constraints of that particular format these days.  I'm just happy to have some new tunes by one of the best bands going.

Custody - Get Stoked Lathe Cut 7":

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Gang Starr - Daily Operation 2xLP - Red Vinyl


Urban Legends / Virgin / UMe (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 thirty 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.

Gang Starr is one of my favorite hip hop groups and the one-two punch of Daily Operation and Hard To Earn is a hell of a two album run.  One of the best, I think.  Daily Operation has always been my favorite Gang Starr record.  I've said this before, buit although the highs on Hard To Earn are higher, Daily Operation is the more consistent album start to finish.

I've had a single LP pressing of the album for a few years, and that one wasn't cheap.  It sounded good enough, but the rest of the Gang Star catalog had been reissued over the years and all sounded better.  Not sure what took them so long to get to Daily Operation, but I finally have a nice, double LP version.

It's easily the best this album has ever sounded in my house.  It's got a warm, lived in feeling that hits all of those nostalgic notes of when I first discovered it in 1992.  Daily Operation is a top, top tier record and if you don't have it in your collection due to its difficulty to find in recent years, now's the time to grab the best version that I've heard of it.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Gentleman Jesse - Where Time Stands Still 7" - Blue Vinyl (/100)


Drunk Dial (2024)

It seems very odd to me that the last Gentleman Jesse full length is already more that two years old.  And I know I have mentioned this before, but as I get older, my perception of time is completely whacked out.  But regardless, it's been a minute since we last heard from Jesse and I was happy to see that he was taking part in the Drunk Dial 7" series.

Gentleman Jesse's entry into this club is a two song 7", the first 100 of which were pressed on sky blue vinyl.  Those went pretty quick, but I was able to snag one before they sold out.  The black vinyl version is still out there though.  

I was kind of disappointed in the last Gentleman Jesse release.  The songs all felt slow to me and in a lot of instances, kind of downer at times.  They were well written, well performed songs, but they didn't capture that upbeat, poppy Jesse energy that I had been used to from his prior releases.  This 7" is pretty similar to me.  The A side, "Where Time Stands Still," is an original and while it is a bit more uptempo than a lot of the songs on his last album, there is still a strain of melancholy here that I'm still getting used to.

On the B side is a cover song called "Return of the Mack" which is a mid 90s R&B song that I had not ever heard of prior to Jesse's cover.  This one is definitely on the slower side of things and honestly, it doesn't really do a whole lot for me.  Maybe it's more clever if you know the original, but for an uncultured heathen like me, it just sounds like a slow song where there isn't a lot going on that connects with me.  Still, Gentleman Jesse has built up more than enough goodwill with me over the years that will make me keep buying his records.  I'm just the type that likes the faster, poppier side of his catalog a bit more.

Gentleman Jesse - Where Time Stands Still 7":

Friday, February 16, 2024

Gentlemen Rogues - Surface Noise LP - Blue Vinyl (#10/275)


Shifting Sounds / Double Helix (2024)

I wrote about Gentlemen Rogues for the first time on this website in 2013.   That's how long I've been waiting for these fellows to crank out a full length album (I could go even further and say I've been waiting since 1995 if you include one of Danny's earlier bands, Jill).  Every time Gentlemen Rogues release something, I whine about wanting a full length.  They came close in 2022 by cramming two EPs onto a a 12" record with a full length running time.  That was nice, but it's still not the same to me as a proper full album.  Maybe I'm just old at this point, but I still feel that a full album is the best way to consume music.

Surface Noise finally delivers on the on the promise of all of the singles and EPs that the band has put out over the last ten years.  Gentlemen Rogues have never disappointed me with one of their releases, and that hasn't changed with Surface Noise.  It's an album full of punchy pop songs, threading the needle of being power pop, while still maintaining the buzzsaw guitar crunch and energy of a 90s pop punk band.  Add in the non-stop hooks and singalong choruses that are sure to become firmly lodged into your cranium and I don't really know what else I can say to sell you on these guys.

If you're of a certain age, there was a time in the 90s where it felt like every day you'd discover a new band putting their spin on catchy punk songs.  There was a never ending source of bands that could scratch that itch.  In 2024, that well does not runneth over as it once did. It's getting harder and harder to find new records that really connect with me the way the older ones did.  But every so often, like a beacon of shining light, some group will put out an album as good as Surface Noise and my faith in rock and roll is restored. 

Here we are in the second week of February and I can tell you for a fact, there's no way this album doesn't end up in the upper echelon of my year end album list.  And if it someone doesn't, then we're in for a hell of a 2024 when it comes to new albums coming out.

Gentlemen Rogues  - Surface Noise:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Artifacts - That's Them 2xLP


Big Beat / Atlantic (1997)

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 thirty 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 missed the boat of Artifacts back in the 90s.  Their first album, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, came out in October of 1994.  That's a time were I was definitely starting to put more focus and energy into punk and indie rock than hip hop, so it's not entirely surprising it flew under my radar.  But I found it later on in life and adored that album by some of New Jersey's finest.

Their second album, That's Them, didn't come out until 1997.  That is typically far past the expiration date for a hip hop album being released that still appeals to me.  At least, that used to be my stance; that the Golden Era ended in 1994.  I still feel that is true, but I have learned over the years that there we some sneaky records released after 1994 that still hit the way I want a hip hop record to hit.  Chalk up That's Them as one of these exceptions.

While I can't say I love it the same way I love their debut, there is still a lot to like about what Tame One and El Da Sensei put together for their sophomore effort.  Lyrically, I would never be worried about these two, but the typical production of a 1997 record is suspect at best.  I'm happy to report that the vast majority of the album still retains a similar vibe to what Artifacts captured on their debut.  We've got hard hitting kick and snare, rolling bass lines and a warm, full sounding array of beats that feels right.  There's a few trappings of later 90s era sounds popping up here and there, but those are sounds mostly utilized in the burgeoning indie scene of that time.  There's no jiggy, puffy nonsense here.

Smoke On records put out a fancy reissue of this in 2018 with a few bonus tracks.  I really wish that was the version I was able to track down, but the prices on that guy make it just out of reach for me.  Luckily I was able to find an affordable copy of the original pressing from 1997 in wonderful condition.  It'll have to hold me until there's another repress or the costs come down on that version with the extra tracks.