Monday, September 26, 2016

Konvoi - Konvoi (Snot, 2016)


Rating: 7.5 soft rubber lids out of 10

Konvoi is from Boone, North Carolina.  For any non-locals reading this, Boone is a hippy town in the mountains, and absolutely nothing good ever comes out of there (I say this as someone who grew up right down the road).  Apparently Konvoi didn't get this message, and instead decided to release this blast of post punk snarl that sounds like the Fall, early Whatever Brains, and maybe Ex-Cult all blended together.  I even hear a little bit of Strokes-style garage-pop catchiness to a couple of their songs, but there's a good chance no one else will agree with me on that one.  This is a great record (or actually, tape only much to my chagrin) on any level, but locally it might be the best thing this year and is definitely my favorite "new" local band/release of the last few years.   Nice job for once, Boone, keep up the good work. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Big Business - Command Your Weather (Joyful Noise, 2016)

Big Business
Command Your Weather
Joyful Noise

Rating: 6.5 shining lenses out of 10

Having seen them live so many times and being a huge fan of their performances, it's hard to know what to say about a Big Business record.  First and foremost, they're almost nothing alike - the recordings are melodic, well-produced, shit there are even vocal harmonies!  You get none of that live - live, it's just pummeling, sludgy noise metal, and I love it even if I can rarely tell one song from another.  You can listen to their records all you want, when you see them play the songs in front of you and that wall of amps is blasting your face and laughing at your ear plugs you're likely not going to know what the fuck they're playing, and you're also likely not to care - or at least I don't.  Because of this, I don't think about their recordings very much to be honest - recordings that are totally fine, though not particularly spectacular.  I may or may not listen to this album very much, but you can be damn sure I'll be at the show the next time they come through town. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Incredible Kidda Band - (Watch Out) Thief 7'' (Last Laugh, 2011)

The Incredible Kidda Band
(Watch Out) Thief 7''
Last Laugh

Rating: 8 dead subscribers out of 10

There are two things the Incredible Kidda Band do well - pub rock and power pop.  It just so happens that the title track falls into the pub rock fold, and a decent example of it...not a genre I always love, but this track works.  Side B is a power pop gem "You Belong To Me" -  all of their best songs are power pop for my money, this one is no different. 

Fugazi - 3 Songs 7'' (Dischord, 1990)

3 Songs 7''

Rating: 10 lady fighters out of 10

I've owned/known these three Fugazi songs forever as they are also available on the CD version of "Repeater," which I bought in the mall in Boone on a Model UN trip around 1991.  I'm stoked to now finally own the seven inch version, for no good reason larger than "just because." "Song Number One" is an all-timer, "Joe Number One" is probably their second best instrumental (after "Sweet and Low" from "In On The Killtaker"), and "Break-In" is classic Guy Picciotto.  If you needed a perfect three song primer on what Fugazi is all about, you'd be hard pressed to do better than this trio. 

Barren Girls - Hell Hymns 7'' (Merge, 2013)

Barren Girls
Hell Hymns 7''

Rating: 5.5 psychedelic periodontists out of 10

Barren Girls are an interesting case...despite being from the same town as them, they somehow showed up with this EP on Merge out of nowhere before I had ever heard their name mentioned.  Then they seemed to play a couple of shows, and then promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. The music is fine if a little forgettable, female-fronted garage punk that sounds like a thousand other bands...I'm sure they were fun live though.  They didn't stick around long enough for me to find out. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Outer Spaces - A Shedding Snake (Don Giovanni, 2016)

Outer Spaces
A Shedding Snake
Don Giovanni

Rating: 7.5 moving bags out of 10

I've been thinking and thinking of what I want to say about this Outer Spaces record, and not a lot is coming to's just a really damn pleasant pop record - no frills, no fuss, no muss, just solid, catchy songs.  Singer Cara Beth Satacino has a great, warm voice that sounds instantly familiar, and is very comforting.  With her voice and the way the songs are structured, this almost feels like an alt-country record minus all the twang.  That probably doesn't make any damn sense but it's something that keeps popping into my head while I listen.  This just doesn't move me to many words, but I'll be damned if I don't really like it.  Also: excellent live. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Wolf Parade - EP 4 (Self-Released, 2016)

Wolf Parade
EP 4

Rating: 8.5 drippy bottles out of 10

Hey, Wolf Parade is a thing again!  Color me glad, because I'll finally get to see them later this summer at Hopscotch after missing out the first time around.  During their hiatus or break-up or whatever the hell it was, I listened to a lot of the excellent solo efforts of the two frontmen: Dan Boeckner's Handsome Furs (as well as Divine Fits) and Spencer Krug's Moonface (as well as Sunset Rubdown).  So now when they get back together and come out with a new Wolf Parade EP, it no longer sounds like Wolf Parade to my ears but rather their solo endeavors, depending on the singer of the particular song playing obviously.  But...I don't really fucking care.  All four tracks on this EP are fantastic no what act they make you think of.  It's actually quite impressive that nearly everything either of those dudes touch sounds like gold to me...usually a split means weaker output, but somehow both Dan and Spencer have tapped a bottomless well of catchy goddamn songs.  Friggin' Canadians right?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pipe / Rubbermaid - Split 7'' (Amish, 1996)

Pipe / Rubbermaid
Split 7''

Rating: 7 expressed men out of 10

The was final Pipe seven inch I need to complete my collection of all of the Pipe seven inches.  All five of them!  I could have ordered it cheap off of Discogs but there's something more exciting about finding that final piece in the wild.  Their track "Raceway Park" can also be found on their "International Cement" full length, a good song but probably wouldn't have been my first choice for a single.  At no point have I ever known anything about Rubbermaid, and this one song hasn't changed that.  Pretty typical mid-nineties indie punk I guess. 

Spoon - Someone Something 7'' (Merge, 2002)

Someone Something 7''

Rating: 7 boom screams out of 10

The title song can otherwise be found on the great 2002 Spoon record "Kill the Moonlight." Damn do I love that record, nearly every track is gold.  There are actually two b-sides here, "Is This the Last Time?" and "In the Right Place the Right Time."  Neither is in the top tier of the band's work, which is probably why they got stashed on the other side of a single and are not on an album proper.  But it's still a couple of Spoon tracks from their golden era, so I'll take it.   

Teenage Fanclub - Free Again 7'' (K, 1992)

Teenage Fanclub
Free Again 7''

Rating: 8 dumb hopes out of 10

Two non-album covers from one of the greatest pop bands to ever exist, Teenage Fanclub.  Side A, "Free Again," is an Alex Chilton number that sounds just like a track that Fanclub might have written early in the oeuvre.  It's a match made in heaven.  The flip track "Bad Seeds" is originally a Beat Happening piece that doesn't work quite as well, but then again I've never gotten my feathers ruffled over the Beat Happening so I'm sure that's a big part of it.  Regardless, anything Teenage Fanclub releases is worth having, and I was excited to stumble upon this. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Moonface / Siinai - My Best Human Face (Jagjaguwar, 2016)

Moonface / Siinai
My Best Human Face

Rating: 8 butter funks out of 10

I guess Moonface (aka Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade & Sunset Rubdown) enjoyed his first pairing with Finnish krautgazers Siinai so much that both groups decided to do the whole damn thing over again.  Before this pairing Moonface was plenty enjoyable, but could sometimes get a touch repetative with the organ dirges.  The addition of a full band to the proceedings have really given the songs focus, no more so than on the second track "Risto's Riff" - goddamn does that track burn white hot.  "Prairie Boy" also has a strong kraut vibe that I'm way into.  My only complaint really, and it's more an observation than a complaint, is that when you add a full band to what Moonface was already doing, you kinda just end up back at Wolf Parade...I'm guessing casual fans wouldn't be able to spot the difference.  I'm almost positive I don't really care though, as I'll definitely be spinning this record quite a bit for the next while, no matter who it sounds like. 

Also, we've got a real contender here for worst album cover of the year, right?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fruit Bats - Absolute Loser (Easy Sound Recording, 2016)

Fruit Bats
Absolute Loser
Easy Sound Recording

Rating: 7.5 fresh fish bets out of 10

It seems like bands don't really go away anymore, at least not like they did in my youth.  Not that I have a problem with that, mind you, just an observation.  Fruit Bats (aka Eric Johnson and whoever he gets to play with him for any particular record or tour) have been making really terrific, occasionally twangy, seventies-style soft rock since the early 2000s.  They would sort of disappear and reappear from time to time (or so it seemed), depending on if there was a new record to promote or not.  There was even an actual "break-up" of the band announced on the usual music websites a couple of years ago...and though it's not clear to me how (what is essentially) a one man band breaks up, apparently he patched things up with himself because here we have a new record, "Absolute Loser."  

All of that nonsense aside, this is a great "return" by the Bats.  Things kick off with the best track on the release, "From a Soon-to-Be Ghost Town," and never really let up.  Well, I guess they must let up at least a little bit if the first song is the best, otherwise they would all the best or better, and that makes even less sense than most things I write.  "Baby Bluebird" is also excellent, and there's honestly not a dud in the bunch.  That's typically true of everything Fruit Bats have released - I can't think of a bad song they've ever recorded.  

A few years from now when Fruit Bats release yet another excellent record, it's entirely possible I'll write this same stupid review again.  Next time it might include even more run-on sentences and grammatical errors!

Friday, June 17, 2016

David Bazan - Blanco (Barsuk, 2016)

David Bazan

Rating: 7 brown napkins out of 10

I've not paid a ton of attention to David Bazan (aka Pedro the Lion) lately, but I've loved the guy for years.  Since college even, and I'm old!  Those first three Pedro records are permanently burned into my psyche, and I'm always happy to lend any new material the dude releases a friendly ear.  "Blanco" might be dressed up a little different with it's synth contortions and electronic drums, but at it's heart it still sounds like a classic Pedro the Lion album.  Bazan's deep, raspy voice, morose lyrics, and the the pacing of his songs dominate his sound no matter what name he records under or how much some tracks might superficially sound like Grandaddy ("Kept Secrets"), Peter Gabriel ("Trouble with Boys"), or Gary Numan ("With You").  I like it though, this additional layer of artificial melody peppering his songs...a little extra texture never hurt anybody.     

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool (XL, 2016)

A Moon Shaped Pool

Rating: Unnecessary

There is absolutely no point in reviewing a new Radiohead record.  Unless you're a little kid just now getting into music or you've been in a coma for twenty years, you know what you're getting here.  I will say: I like it, but it's not my favorite record by the band.  Aesthetically, feels pretty much like their last record "The King of Limbs."  Might make my favorite records of the year list, I'd say it's a toss-up at this point.  It always takes me a while to fully digest my feelings on any given Radiohead release. 

I doubt Radiohead fans are gonna be disappointed, and I doubt anyone changes their mind about the band based on "A Moon Shaped Pool."  You pretty much already know what this is and whether you give a shit about it. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Little Scream - Cult Following (Merge, 2016)

Little Scream
Cult Following

Rating: 6 additional pleated fans out of 10

Based solely on most write-ups of this or any other Little Scream record, it's highly doubtful I would have paid much attention had it not been released by Merge.  That label is batting about .750 or .800 for my tastes, so anything they sign off on is worth a once over.  

The bad - I'm not crazy about the whole record.  There is an insane amount of genre hopping from one song to the next, with Prince-like falsetto funk-pop being the most frequent comparison.  There's also spacy folk pop, weirdo art rock, and god knows what else.  It can almost be dizzying.  I'm not often in the mood to hear all types of music all the time. 

The good - there are a few songs though that are beyond fantastic.  "The Kissing" features guest vocals from Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, and has guitar solos reminiscent of the Wyld Stallyns from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."  Yes, I recently watched that movie again so it was fresh in my mind.  "Someone Will Notice" gives me a strong Aimee Mann vibe, and both it and "Wreckage" really make me think of Wye Oak - and I mean that in the best possible way.  Wye Oak is everything.   

I wish I was excited about this whole record as I am about those few songs, but it's worth a listen just for those alone.  And maybe I'll grow into the rest...