Friday, July 18, 2014

Tortoise - Tour 1998 7'' (Thrill Jockey, 1998)

Tortoise
Tour 1998 7''
Thrill Jockey
1998

Rating: 7 broken floors out of 10

This is exactly what it says - a seven inch Tortoise sold on their 1998 tour.  Two songs - "Madison Ave." and "Madison Area," both very much sounding like Tortoise of that time period.  Not only did I buy this record on that tour, I even had stuck the ticket stub in the seven inch sleeve, something I never do but sixteen years after it's pretty cool that I did it.  On white vinyl. 

Licorice / Kendra Smith / Red House Painters - Split 7'' (4AD, 1995)

Licorice / Kendra Smith / Red House Painters
Split 7''
4AD
1995

Rating: 7 years away out of 10

Let's ignore the first two artists here because who gives a shit.  The key here is the last song, which is Red House Painters covering the Yes song "Long Distance Runaround."  The notes say "not available on the CD Ocean Beach," but it was on the double 10'' version of the record (long out of print).  It would later also be used on their album "Songs for a Blue Guitar."  You're welcome for this useless information!  Oh, and it's an awesome cover.

The Comas - You Got the Bumblebee, I Got the Stinger 7'' (Sit-N-Spin, 2001)

The Comas
You Got the Bumblebee, I Got the Stinger 7''
Sit-N-Spin
2001

Rating: 6 love pretenders out of 10

The Comas were one of the few local Triangle bands that completely existed between my first stint here in the nineties and were gone by the time I moved back in 2008.  I've picked up a number of their releases over the years out of bargain bins, this picture disc included.  The band plays a slightly country-tinged version of jangly indie pop, and they manage to neither be great or awful but do have an occasional great song.  This seven inch is three songs total, with the last (and shortest) song "1:30" being the stand out and catchiest track available. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Unwound - Rat Conspiracy (Numero Group, 2014)

Unwound
Rat Conspiracy
Numero Group
2014

Rating: 9 sad dolls out of 10

Unwound was a criminally underrated noise punk band that existed in the nineties and early oughts.  They made a few of my very favorite records of all time, and one of those records is a part of this collection "Rat Conspiracy."  As stoked as I am Numero Group is reissuing these near-perfect records on vinyl, I really wish they were being done individually instead of grouped together as we have here.  "Rat Conspiracy" is actually three different releases - their first record "Fake Train," their second record "New Plastic Ideas," and a collection b-sides/demos/rarities from that era.  "New Plastic Ideas" is a must have, and while the other parts are totally great I wish I could just buy that record right away and maybe come back to the other parts later.  Honestly, this isn't one of my shitty reviews as much as it is notice that this release exists, and for me to bitch about it not being to my liking.  Here's to hoping they continue though, regardless of approach, because I need vinyl copies of "Repitition" and "Leaves Turn Inside You" in the worst way. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jimmy Eat World / Blueprint - Split 7'' (Abridged, 1996)

Jimmy Eat World / Blueprint
Split 7''
Abridged
1996

Rating: 7 transparent doctors out of 10

A double helping of mid-nineties emo.  Jimmy Eat World takes side A with a pair of songs called "Christmas Card" and "Untitled," but if memory served "Untitled" is a barely a song at all.  It's a very catchy song though, very much inline with their early sound that was poppy but not completely polished for a radio-friendly audience.  The song would even be included as a bonus track on later versions of their first full-length "Clarity."  The B side is Blueprint with "In-Between Angels," a much lesser-known band that follows the same basic recipe musically as Jimmy Eat World.  If it weren't for the vocals being a little different you'd probably assume it actually was JEW. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Afghan Whigs - Do To The Beast (Sub Pop, 2014)

The Afghan Whigs
Do To The Beast
Sub Pop
2014

Rating: 6.5 dull pens out of 10

For months I've put off listening to this new record by the Afghan Whigs.  I'm not entirely sure why - Greg Dulli has made plenty of great music since the Whigs' broke-up via the Twilight Singers.  They were also fantastic live on their reunion tour in the fall of 2012. Then again Frank Black did plenty of great solo work and were great on their (first) reunion tour, and look where we are with them now...

Anyways, "Do To The Beast"....it's good.  Pretty good.  Not great.  Not an embarrassment to their catalog and legacy, but not likely to get the top ranking on any "greatest Afghan Whigs' records" list.  The best song for my money is "Royal Cream," but further listens may change that.  And I definitely want to listen to it more, which I suppose is the best indication that it's an enjoyable record - there is just too much out there to waste your time listening to junk.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Lambchop / Hospitality - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Lambchop / Hospitality
Split 7''
Merge
2014

Rating:
7.5 bowls of beans out of 10


As far as I know, this is the first of the Merge subscription seven inches that feature music that was previously recorded and available elsewhere.  The a-side is the Lambchop song "FA-Q" that first appeared on one of their very earliest releases, though this version appears to be a new (fancier) recording of the track.  And it's a great song, but then again most Lambchop songs are.  Also, bonus points that the song is a reference to "Dazed and Confused."

The b-side is "Inauguration (Super Timeline Version)" by Hospitality, one of the few Merge bands I've never paid much attention to.  The track is also featured on their most recent record "Trouble," though presumably in non-"Super Timeline Version" whatever that means.  Let's just assume it's code for "alternate take."  Regardless, it's a very catchy song, sounding a little bit like a more upbeat, modern version of Camera Obscura.  I've gotta check out that full-length by them now. 

The Honeydrippers - Sea of Love 7'' (Es Paranza, 1984)

The Honeydrippers
Sea of Love 7''
Es Paranza
1984

Rating: 9 drunk danishes out of 10

My folks had the one EP the Honeydrippers released and I used to listen to it all the time.  White soul crooner suited Robert Plant, and it's a shame he didn't record more of this type of music.  I found it interesting that the title track here charted higher in the US than any Led Zeppelin song ever did.  It's certainly a great cover, and despite already owning the EP I was still happy to grab this 45 of the song.  The b-side "Rockin' at Midnight" is also on that EP, so this really doesn't offer anything new other than just a different release of a great song. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wye Oak / Telekinesis - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Wye Oak / Telekinesis
Split 7''
Merge
2014

Rating: 7.5 dirty hats out of 10

Another batch from the Merge subscription series has arrived, much to my great joy.  This split, on opaque blue vinyl, has Wye Oak on one side and Telekinesis on the other.  The Wye Oak song is fantastic and well worth the wax, and I think it even has guitar on it unlike most of their most recent record.  At a minimum, download this song when you get a chance.  The Telekinesis song is fine too, though not nearly as catchy as most of his material. 

The First Edition - Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) 7'' (Reprise, 1967)

The First Edition
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) 7''
Reprise
1967

Rating: 8 banged gongs out of 10

The First Edition was Kenny Roger's band from before he was the Kenny Rogers we know today.  I'm guessing a lot of people, especially the younger set, know this track from it's important placement in the classic "The Big Lebowski," and proud we are of all of them.  The band did a very radio-friendly version of psyche rock that was catchy, weird and safe all at the same time.  I dig it.  The b-side is called "Shadow In The Corner Of Your Mind," and I think we can all imagine what that sounds like. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wye Oak - Shriek (Merge, 2014)

Wye Oak
Shriek
Merge
2014

Rating: 7.5 savage balls out of 10

What do you do if you're a two-piece band with a front woman that is a shredder on guitar?  You make an album heavy in keyboards and nearly devoid of guitar, obviously.  Don't read that as my saying their new Wye Oak record "Shriek" isn't good - far from it - but it's a really damn confusing turn they've taken.  I mean, shit like Lykki Li and Future Islands and Rhye are really popular these days, so why not give it a shot?  Wye Oak are a little mellower, maybe even "jazzier" than those acts, but this sounds a hell of a lot more like those bands than it does like old Wye Oak records.  I'm known to act like a petulant child and whine when bands I like drastically change their sound, but it works here. 

Angels of Epistemology - Response 7'' (Merge, 1991)

Angels of Epistemology
Response 7''
Merge
1991

Rating: 7 decent balls out of 10

To quote straight from the Angels of Epistemology page on the Merge website, "Although the Angels of Epistemology existed from 1986 to 1989, their first release, a six-song 7” EP, did not come out until 1991."  This is that release.  I knew one of the songs ("The Charm") from the five year anniversary Merge comp "Rows of Teeth," so why not pick this old dusty gem up out of the bargain bin?  Stylistically it's kinda all over the map with these three songs, sounding like a band influenced equal parts by the jangle pop of the Triangle (the Connells, Dillon Fence, etc), REM, and Sonic Youth.  What I'm saying is their songs are weird and catchy at the same time.  The sixth release by Merge!

Lustre King - She's a Bomb 7'' (Actionboy 300, 1996)

Lustre King
She's a Bomb 7''
Actionboy 300
1996

Rating: 6.5 substituted strikers out of 10

I was way into the Lustre King full-length "Shoot the Messenger" and their "We're gonna try to sound pretty much just like Shellac" take on math rock.  I'm not a purist, I love Shellac and most anyone that sounds like them too.  This appears to be the band's first release of any sort, and the pair of songs "She's a Bomb" and "Horsebuilder" are both quite good, though the recording sounds a bit muddy.  These don't seem to appear anywhere else either, for the record. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Liars - Mess (Mute, 2014)

Liars
Mess
Mute
2014

Rating: 6.5 northern humanity out of 10

I don't even know what the fuck you would call Liars anymore - industrial electronica?  Techno noise rock?  Just weird?  Whatever it is, I am totally on the fence about it in recorded form, though live it works really really well. 

Part of the problem with "Mess" is it starts off on a bad foot - opener "Mask Maker" is the worst song on the record, but it does get better.  By the middle of the album a dancefloor banger in "Pro Anti Anti," followed by the very Brian Eno-like "Can't Hear Well" and then another strong jammer in "Mess on a Mission."  The album is probably worth it for these three songs alone, but the whole thing is pretty good - if you're in the mood for it.  And you skip that first song.   

Monday, June 9, 2014

Polvo / New Radiant Storm King - Split 7'' (Penny Farthing, 1995)

Polvo / New Radiant Storm King
Split 7''
Penny Farthing
1995

Rating: 8 handwriting samples out of 10

This is actually a recent used purchase, and I can't explain the excitement I felt acquiring two vintage Polvo songs from their golden age that I'd never heard before.  Neither of their tracks would be considered hits by this band's standards, but given they sound right out of the "Celebrate the New Dark Age" / "This Eclipse" era, this shit is still gold to me. 

The flip side is two more songs, this time from New Radiant Storm King.  One of those bands I heard about for years but never got around to listening to until now.  You'd call them noise rock I guess, but there is some pop blood running through their veins.  I would have sworn they were on AmRep but their discography says I am wrong...they sorta have that vibe though.  Neither song here is groundbreaking, but I would like to give some of their full-lengths a whirl to come to a little more informed opinion.