Monday, August 24, 2015

The Make-Up - R U A Believer 7'' (K, 1995)

The Make-Up
R U A Believer 7''
K
1995

Rating: 6.5 fired hats out of 10

I love all things Make-Up, and while this isn't their strongest release it's still worth having.  The title track is a jammer, and also available on their singles comp "I Want Some."  To be fair, Ian Svenonius could read the ingredients off of a Shake-n-Bake box, set it to a funky beat, and I'd shill for it.  The B-side title is listed as "Version," but in actuality it's a Dub Narcotic remix of the title track.  Maybe not necessary, but certainly a sign of the era this record is from. 

The Ends - New Rome 7'' (Dirtnap, 2003)

The Ends
New Rome 7''
Dirtnap
2003

Rating: 6 sandpaper fingerprints out of 10

The Ends put out a catchy, decent punk record called "Concrete Disappointment" years ago on Dirtnap, but I haven't thought about them in probably decade.  Came across this seven inch used at Amoeba and bought it on a whim, because why the hell not.  Turns out both tracks on this slab (the title track and the b-side "Saw It Comin") are both on that previously mentioned album, so this release is more or less superfluous.  Still, decent tracks and it didn't cost much so whatevs. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Golden Boys - Got Time 7'' (Sold Sex Lovie Doll, 2005)

Golden Boys
Got Time 7''
Sold Sex Lovie Doll
2005

Rating: 6.5 hard-working matrices out of 10

I couple of good-but-unremarkable garage stompers from the Golden Boys, the garage punk kings of Texas.  This is out of Italy I guess, and the sleeve appears to be photocopied, but the wax is good so no big whoop.  I like these cats but recorded was never their strong suit - seeing them live is the way to go, because they put on a scorcher of a show.  The songs are decent though, and if you came across this like I did in a bargain bin it's worth a nab.  

Let's not discuss that label name though.  Oof. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mikal Cronin - MCIII (Merge, 2015)

Mikal Cronin
MCIII
Merge
2015

Rating: 7.5 hemorrhagic pails out of 10

Can something be slightly disappointing and totally great at the same time?  Because that's how I feel about this most recent Mikal Cronin record, "MCIII."  By most measures it's an ambitious, big pop album...the only problem is he released one of the best pop albums of the past decade in 2013 with "MCII."  While I instantly loved this new one, it's just not quite as good as it's predecessor, and it's difficult not to compare.  "MCIII" is still better than almost everything else of it's ilk though.  There isn't a 1-2 punch as strong as "MCII" openers "Weight" and "Shout It Out," but this new record does have a shitload more instrumentation and what appears to be a six-part pop opera or something of that nature.  Make no mistake I'm going to listen to this a lot...but probably not as much as the other one.

Thomas Function - The Insignificants 7'' (Tic Tac Totally, 2006)

Thomas Function
The Insignificants 7''
Tic Tac Totally
2006

Rating: 7 Chicago clutches out of 10

At first I thought this was a split between Thomas Function and "The Insignificants," but it turns out that is just the name of the song on side A.  There are three songs total ("Blue & Green" and "Conspiracy of Praise" make up side B), and they all walk a fine line between garage rock and art punk.  I've always liked this band, and have never thought they got due credit, but the flip side of that is I managed to pick up this record for 50 cents so it's not all bad.  "Blue & Green" is my top choice, sounding like the Lapse trying to cut a demo for Goner Records. 

Flock of Dimes - (This Is Why) I Can't Wear White 7'' (Frenchkiss, 2012)

Flock of Dimes
(This Is Why) I Can't Wear White 7''
Frenchkiss
2012

Rating: 8 devilish talons out of 10

I love all things Jenn Wasner, from her work with her main band Wye Oak to this solo offshoot called Flock of Dimes.  I was particularly stoked to be digging through the Amoeba bargain bins on a recent trip to SF and snagged a copy of her/their first seven inch (I'm never sure how to refer to bands that only have one member...).  Given what a commanding performer she is regardless of band name, it would be hard not to make Wye Oak comparisons here, although this music is a little more upbeat/electronic/almost dancey compared to her parent act.  The vocals still sound like Wasner though so those comparisons are going to be there no matter what.  Both tracks, the title song and the b-side "15" are excellent and worth seeking out.  So far she's only released three seven inches so hopefully a full-length record will make an appearance at some point in the near future. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Run the Jewels - Bust No Moves EP (Mass Appeal, 2015)

Run the Jewels
Bust No Moves EP
Mass Appeal
2015

Rating: 8 house scourers out of 10

Yes, this Run the Jewels EP was released months ago for Record Store Day, but I never get to anything on time.  Big surprise - this collection of songs fuckin' kills; this duo can seemingly do no wrong right now.  "Pew Pew Pew," featuring DJ Qbert, is as strong as anything they've ever released, equal parts new shit and a throwback to hiphop of the late eighties/early nineties...it's time for scratching to come back!  Title track "Bust No Moves" sounds like lyrical syrup, just drippy, especially the chorus from Cuz.  "Blockbuster Night Part 2" is likely the predecessor to part one from "Run the Jewels 2" only lyrically, because it doesn't actually sound anything like it.  Possibly the most interesting track is "Love Again (Akinyele Back)," which is exactly like the same song from the last full-length, until the final verse when Gangsta Boo flips it up and talks about oral stimulation from the female point of view.  Yeah, it's been done before, but it's done real damn well here.  

This vinyl is already getting expensive, so grab one if you see it.  Otherwise, cop the tracks online. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Caustic Resin - Yeah Right 7'' (Up, 1995)

Caustic Resin
Yeah Right 7''
Up
1995

Rating: 6.5 upstairs couches out of 10

I didn't even know this Caustic Resin seven inch existed until I stumbled across it at my local record store.  The two songs are "Yeah Right" and "Yeah Right Pt. 2," and while neither are stand-out songs by the band, they're still worth hearing.  It's fuzzy, spacey and sludgy in that way Brett Netson does so well.  As a side note, anyone and everyone should track down their amazing record "The Medicine Is All Gone," it's a vastly underrated nineties masterpiece. 

Future Islands - The Chase 7'' (4AD, 2015)

Future Islands
The Chase 7''
4AD
2015

Rating: 8 cement bells out of 10

As near as my brain can figure, this is the first release by Future Islands since they done blown the fuck up.  And as much as it sucks that I no longer get to see them play in small venues multiple times a year, I'm glad for them - they deserve all the success they get.  Certainly no complaints here with theese new songs - both tracks on this seven inch measure up to the high bar these guys set with their last few records, and fame doesn't seem to have messed with their creative process.  Title track "The Chase" starts off with a very Kraftwerk-like keyboard line, but then quickly goes down the path already well worn by the band - I'm guessing this track is already a favorite at their live shows.  The b-side "Haunted By You" is a little mellower but no less enjoyable - it's like you can see lead singer Sam Herring emoting with his hands through the music, grasping at the air like a high school drama teacher performing Hamlet.  My only worry about these two songs is they'll get "lost," having not been put on a proper full-length - because both are certainly worthy. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Make-Up / Lung-Leg - Split 7'' (Southern, 1998)

The Make-Up / Lung-Leg
Split 7''
Southern
1998

Rating: 7 super shredders out of 10

I'll buy anything that has the Make-Up on it, even if I already have the song ("Pow! To The People") on their compilation "I Want Some."  It's  rad song and there is no such thing as owning too many Ian Svenonius recordings.  The flip was totally new to me, a Scottish group called Lung-Leg - sort of a jangly, C86ish all female Fall or something, a good pairing.  Someone else recommended this short-lived band to me as well, I guess I need to get digging. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Belle and Sebastian - Live 2015 (Concert Live, 2015)

Belle and Sebastian
Live 2015
Concert Live
2015

Rating: <insert photo of baby duck here>

Belle and Sebastian released a live album via their website recently (CD only, cross your fingers for an eventual vinyl release), and being that I love all things B&S I had to acquire it via the internets.  It was recorded at SECC Hydro in Glasgow, and they did it with the help of the Scottish Festival Orchestra.  The set list is damn near impeccable and does a great job of hitting highlights from across their career...shit, look it up if you don't believe me.  The epic medley of "Boy with the Arab Strap" and "Legal Man" followed by "Sleep the Clock Around" are worth the price of admission alone.  The whole thing clocks in at about an hour and fifty minutes long, and I have no idea why they decided to span that over three discs, but they did.  I would say that any fan of the band needs to hunt this down, but knowing their fanbase they already have. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jeff the Brotherhood - Wasted on the Dream (Infinity Cat, 2015)

Jeff the Brotherhood
Wasted on the Dream
Infinity Cat
2015

Rating: 7.5 sneezing dogs out of 10

I thought it odd that Jeff the Brotherhood had signed with major label Warner Bros. in the first place before their previous record "Hypnotic Nights," and it was no huge shock that the label dropped them right before the band released "Wasted on the Dream."  Based on their reaction after getting dropped, JtB seemed more than ecstatic being able to release their music on their own imprint again, so it seems like it all works out in the end.  The band has pop hooks, and you can sorta see why a major might think they can mold these kids into some version of stoner rock Weezer, but anyone who has seen them live or listened to their older material isn't surprised this didn't work out.  JtB seem like the types to do exactly what they want to do, no matter how much money they have behind them.  

That said, there was definitely loot involved in this record, as it was finished before they got the boot - the production is through the roof.  I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call it over-produced, but it's just an ass hair away from it.  I'd love to hear the original rough masters of these tracks.  They got Ian Anderson to play flute on the second song "Black Cherry Pie" - yes, that Ian Anderson, from Jethro Tull - it's such a weird decision, it kinda works.  You hear songs like "Cosmic Visions," "Coat Check Girl," and "Prairie Song" and you start thinking these guys actually have a shot at radio airplay if the right pockets got lined with cash (aka why they got signed to a major in the first place), but I'm pretty sure that is out the door now.  And I'm not sure the band minds...you don't even need that much money to buy cut-off jean shorts at the thrift store and drink crappy beer. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Lees of Memory - Sisyphus Says (SideOneDummy, 2014)

The Lees of Memory
Sisyphus Says
SideOneDummy
2014

Rating: 7.5 dental flossers out of 10

If you ever wondered what it would be like if Superdrag sounded more like My Bloody Valentine, you're old like me.  Also, you're in luck - two of the members of the Drag (including singer John Davis) have a new act called the Lees of Memory.  I've actually had this sitting on my computer for a while, reluctant for some reason to listen to it; a foolish move on my part (I'm good for a few of these every day).  Bands that rise from the ashes of your favorites can often be disappointing, but that definitely isn't the case here.  And that shouldn't really be a surprise - with Davis' voice, anything they put out is just going to sound like Superdrag, the only difference here is the addition of extra swirly/distorted guitar parts on some of the songs.  My favorite track after the first few listens is "Not a Second More," which to be totally frank sounds exactly like a Superdrag song that would have been on their classic record "Regretfully Yours."  Not complaining about that at all. 

Fugazi - Furniture 7'' (Dischord, 2001)

Fugazi
Furniture 7''
Dischord
2001

Rating: 9 broken sandals out of 10

I always assumed this Fugazi seven inch was the result of too many songs for their album "The Argument," but if this is true god knows how they decide which songs go where - certainly all three songs on this short player are worthy of a full-length album.  I'd love to be able to listen to these songs more easily than busting out this seven inch every time, and I'm too cheap to buy the songs again as digital downloads from the Dischord site.  Anyways, like everything the band has recorded, this is well worth having. 

Electro Group - Lifter 7'' (Omnibus, 1999)

Electro Group
Lifter 7''
Omnibus
1999

Rating: 6.5 mighty beds out of 10

Like most people, when I think of shoegaze I think of Sacramento, from where Electro Group hail.  Jokes aside, they do a pleasant enough job running through a couple of tracks in this well worn style.  This single might be 16 years old, but given the recent resurgence in this genre you could easily think this is a modern release.  Apparently these kids are still out there playing gigs and writing new music based on their Facebook page, and good on them...I saw them once or twice in the early oughts and they were a good time.