Monday, October 27, 2014

Braid - No Coast (Top Shelf, 2014)

No Coast
Top Shelf

Rating: 6.5 strips of sealant out of 10

After roughly sixteen years, Braid decided to put out a new record.  It sounds pretty much like an old Braid record, as if they had never aged or dug "No Coast" up from a time capsule - it is maybe a little more polished than their older albums, but the guts are the same.  I absolutely loved (and still love) me some old Braid records, the problem is I'm not the same person I was nearly twenty years ago, and these new songs hold no nostalgia for me the way that "Frame & Canvas" or "The Age of Octeen" do.  This isn't the fault of Braid or my listening tastes or anything really, we've just grown apart.  They still do the punkier side of emo better than anyone probably, and if they play some shows locally I still might go see them just for the chance to sign along to "A Dozen Roses" and feel like I'm 22 again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Superchunk - The Majestic 7'' (Merge, 1999)

The Majestic 7''

Rating: 7 monster trucks out of 10

Both songs on this Superchunk record are also the two opening tracks on the "Cup of Sand" comp, but shit I like having the tiny record of them as well.  Both the title track and the flip "Reg" are strong efforts that might get forgotten since they weren't on a proper album, but I haven't forgotten you!

Superchunk - John Peel Session May 31, 1992 7'' (No Label, 1992?)

John Peel Session - May 31, 1992 7''
No Label

Rating: 7 stranger's laughs out of 10

As the title states, this is record is a Peel session Superchunk recorded in 1992.  There is no indication on the record on when this was actually released or who put it out, but that is just nerd information that really doesn't matter anyways.  Like all Peel sessions the quality is good, and like most Peel sessions there are four songs - "Let It Go," "Tie a Rope to the Back of the Bus," "Fishing" and "Untied."  You know the band, you know the songs, and Peel never disappoints, so this was a no-brainer pick-up for me. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

David Bazan and Passenger String Quartet - Volume 1 (Undertow, 2014)

David Bazan and Passenger String Quartet
Volume 1

Rating: 7 worn out rugs out of 10

If you ever said to yourself "I wish David Bazan would re-record some of his songs with a string quartet," well have I got a treat for you!  As a fan of Bazan and Pedro the Lion, it was a shoe-in I would like this, the question was just how much.  I might have picked some different tracks to include here, but since he did include a couple of my favorite songs ("When They Really Get to Know You They Will Run," "Priests and Paramedics") there will be no need to riot or protest.  To be completely honest I'm not sure I needed to hear his songs with strings added - his voice carries all the emotion of his music in my opinion - but it's pretty, and dammit sometimes that is enough of a reason to do something. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spoon - They Want My Soul (Loma Vista, 2014)

They Want My Soul
Loma Vista

Rating: 6 depressed orangutans out of 10

I was surely gonna write something deep and insightful about this new Spoon record like I do with all of my reviews, but I just can't.  I don't think I care anymore.  Not sure if it's the band or me or (most likely) a little of both, but I just haven't given a shit about any of their records since probably 2005's "Gimme Fiction."  It still sounds like Spoon though, and it always will as long as Britt Daniel is piloting the ship, but something is might just be overproduced and not raw enough, or maybe it's more.  It's probably no coincidence that their best record is still "Girls Can Tell," and it sounds like it might have been recorded in the janitor's closet of a run-down laundromat. 

Most bands can't manage one great album, Spoon has had two or three.  This isn't one of them...but it's fine.  Totally fine, and forgettable.  Does make me want to listen to "Girls Can Tell" or "Kill the Moonlight" though. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Rosebuds - Sand + Silence (Western Vinyl, 2014)

The Rosebuds
Sand + Silence
Western Vinyl

Rating: 7.5 scratching dogs out of 10

It's not like I ever wrote an unbiased review of any recording by the Rosebuds, but now with one of my best friends touring with them it's definitely right out the window.  Nonetheless, I maintain this is a great collection of pop songs, possibly their best since 2005's "Birds Make Good Neighbors."  Opener "In My Teeth" is an instant top five favorite by the band, and the following title track isn't that far behind.  Unfortunately it goes downhill from there, but only on a slight downgrade; the fourth song "Blue Eyes" seems to be the one I get stuck in my head the most even if it does sound more like a tune from a decade ago they are just now putting on a record.   This album is their first since their break with Merge, who have released all of their other full-lengths.  Regardless of label, the Rosebuds still manage to churn out catchy songs that I would definitely love even if I didn't know these kids for nearly two decades. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Redd Kross / Vertical Scratchers - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Redd Kross / Vertical Scratchers
Split 7''

Rating: 7 freaky dates out of 10

More Merge subscription madness.  This recent resurgence of Redd Kross has been delightful, from their 2012 record "Researching the Blues" to their half of this split, "Leave It Where You Found It."  So catchy and rad.  To continue my trend from the last couple of splits, I don't know shit about Vertical Scratchers...I thought I was more tuned in on most/all Merge releases, but apparently not!  I like their song here, "Jackie's Favorite," a jangly pop creation with some interesting falsetto vocals on top.  Need to track down their full-length now. 

Also, the record is pink so I'm not sure where the color is in the picture above.  Somebody done fucked up. 

The Polyphonic Spree & Grandaddy - Split 7'' (Birdman, 2003)

The Polyphonic Spree & Grandaddy
Split 7''

Rating: 7.5 Bolivian tornadoes out of 10

A split from the two of the hot shit acts of the early oughts.  The Polyphonic Spree delivers "The March," which sounds, um, pretty much like other Polyphonic Spree songs of the era.  That is to say, orchestral and big.  The better of the two is the Grandaddy track "The Rugged and Splintered Entertainment Center," which sounds like it was conceived, performed and recorded underwater.  Goofy ass band, but I love them.  Neither of these songs are anywhere else - well, the Spree song was also on another single I think, but that's it. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guided By Voices - Males Of Wormwood Mars 7'' (Guided By Voices Inc., 2014)

Guided By Voices
Males Of Wormwood Mars 7''
Guided By Voices Inc.


Rating: 7 partial airedales out of 10

As always it's next to impossible to keep up with the release schedule of Guided by Voices, but this seven inch caught my ear.  Both the title track and the b-side "A Year That Could Have Been Worse" sound like vintage GBV with plenty of hooks and a lo-fi crunch to the sound.  In fact the b-side sounds so, well, wonky, that it sounds like one of their very early songs.  I'm digging it.  The actual vinyl is sold out so you'll have to let the internet fix things for you here like I did.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fujiya & Miyagi - Artificial Sweeteners (Yep Roc, 2014)

Fujiya & Miyagi
Artificial Sweeteners
Yep Roc

Rating: 7.5 blind snares out of 10

Fujiya & Miyagi is a band stuck between two worlds - the electronic party anthems of Daft Punk and the vintage krautrock of Kraftwerk.  Well, stuck isn't the right word, because that makes it sound like they're in a position they don't wanna be in, when I'm guessing they're exactly where they hoped to be.  You have an opener like "Flaws" that sound like it is destined for the dance floor, and then two songs later the instrumental "Rayleigh Scattering" sounds like a partner song for Kraftwerk's "Tour de France," and the next track "Artificial Sweeteners" employs the same type of lyrical repetitiveness as "Autobahn" or "Pocket Calculator."  It's a nice mix that really works well for me, and I'm glad to have randomly stumbled upon this.  

As a side note, it's totally weird this is out on Yep Roc, home to lots of  aging (gracefully) rockers, adult pop, and alt-country, but it was totally smart on their part to infuse a little fresh (and hip) blood in with the vets. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

East River Pipe / Reigning Sound - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

East River Pipe / Reigning Sound
Split 7''

Rating: 7.5 fundamental flossings out of 10

East River Pipe are one of a very small set of bands on Merge that I've never really listened to.  No reason why really, they just never entered my radar.  Now that I finally own something by them - it's good!  If this song is indicative, laid-back keyboard pop, makes me think of other "adult indie pop" as I call it, stuff like Fruit Bats and Pernice Brothers and all that.  

That was side A - side B is the Reigning Sound, and I'm plenty familiar with them.  Their track is an acoustic version of "Falling Rain," with the regular version on their most recent album "Shattered."  Great song regardless of how it's played, but it is interesting hearing Greg Cartwright play by himself with just an acoustic guitar and a little backing pedal steel. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Superchunk - Ribbon 7'' (Merge, 1994)

Ribbon 7''

Rating: 9 fetal vans out of 10

Two great classic Superchunk songs that I previously only knew from the "Incidental Music" singles compilation, but now own on vinyl.  These are from their golden era when they had so many good songs they didn't even bother putting some of them on proper full-lengths. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Superchunk - Live in NYC 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Live in NYC 7''

Rating: 7.5 motorized questions out of 10

I got this Superchunk seven inch in my goody bag when I picked up my Merge 25 festival pass.  While I'd like to think I'm special, I'm pretty sure everyone who bought a pass got one.  This would get a thumbs up if I paid for it, and it gets a super duper thumbs up since I got it for free.  And now, out of sheer laziness, I'm going to steal the description of the release straight from the Merge website (where you can now buy a copy if you are so inclined):

On September 28, 2013, Eleanor Friedberger joined Superchunk onstage at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC to lend her vocals to covers of The Ramones’ “Oh Oh I Love Her So” and Patti Smith’s “Free Money.” Those two recordings are collected on this limited-edition 7-inch, which features cover art by Casey Burns.

Les Savy Fav - Let's Get Out Of Here 7'' (Frenchkiss / Wichita, 2010)

Les Savy Fav
Let's Get Out Of Here 7''
Frenchkiss / Wichita

Rating: 7 squeaky feet out of 10

I think the record store gave me this when I bought Les Savy Fav record "Root for Ruin," and I always thought it was an odd giveaway / bonus considering both of the songs on this record (the title track and "Sleepless in Silverlake") are also on the full length.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to own anything Les Savy Fav put out, but this is pretty redundant.  Still, both of the songs are excellent regardless. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Total Control - Typical System (Iron Lung, 2014)

Total Control
Typical System
Iron Lung

Rating: 7.5 sassy dogs out of 10

I'm trying to think of a smart or witty way to say this Total Control record "Typical System" sounds pretty much exactly like an early Gary Numan record, but I can't find my way around it.  Bear in mind this is definitely not a complaint - I've actually been listening to a fair amount of Numan lately, and this slides nicely into a playlist with him.  The vocals are a little more laid back/less paranoid sounding than Numan, but I'd be hard pressed to find many more differences than that.  I actually thought the second song "Expensive Dog" was a Tubeway Army cover at first, and don't get me started with the following song "Flesh War" - I'm pretty sure that synth line is directly lifted from Numan. 

Let me really reiterate that I don't give a shit, not even a little one, that these songs sound just like Gary Numan.  Catchy songs are catchy songs, and I plan on listening to these quite a bit...can't say that I give a good goddamn if it's a rip-off of someone else or not.