Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Evens - The Odds (Dischord, 2012)

The Evens
The Odds

Rating: 6 nervous shakes out of 10

For a long-time Ian MacKaye fan like myself, the biggest obstacle with the Evens has been getting over the fact that he isn't playing Fugazi-style rock anymore.  This band is just a duo, Ian accompanied by his wife Amy Farina, and the aggro anthems are gone, replaced by what would loosely be called folk music I guess.  They spend time harmonizing and at no point does anything rock my balls off, so...yeah.  I like this pretty well if I'm in the mood for it, but the problem is I start listening and then I hear Ian's voice and I just want to put a Fugazi record on.  You can choose to take that as a slight to the Evens, but I think of it as a testament to the staying power of one of the best bands of the last quarter century.  

I think this might be one of the worst reviews I've ever written, and that's saying something.  Fuck it, let's go listen to some Fugazi. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Men - Think 7'' (Karmic Swamp, 2011)

The Men
Think 7''
Karmic Swamp

Rating: 7.5 possum tracks out of 10

Yeah, this seven inch by the Men  is a couple of years old but I just got around to listening to it.  Get off my case about it, I've been busy.  Side A, "Think," is one of their typical blistering noise punk tracks, good but not grand.  The joy is in Side B, a cover of Devo's "Gates of Steel" - the greatest Devo song of all time.  Don't argue with me, it's a fact.  They very much own the song, recording a lo-fi punk banger that sounds as if Robert Pollard had a hand in producing it.  Best of all - the band is offering it up for free here.  Got it right from their website, no guilt necessary.  In fact they have a lot of their older out-of-print releases on mediafire free to us fans.  You gotta love a band looking out for us little people. 

Starflyer 59 - IAMACEO (South Co., 2013)

Starflyer 59
South Co.

Rating: 7 skinny ties out of 10

Maybe the only thing noteworthy or different about this newest Starflyer 59 release is that the band left their long-time label Tooth & Nail and funded it themselves via Kickstarter. Otherwise, it very much fits their mold of downer pop songs with a shoegaze sheen that they've been more or less performing for nearly two decades.  None of the songs really stood out to me after just a couple of listens, but their albums often require repeated listens for the subtle nuances and hooks to catch you just right.  I don't always give bands that much rope, but Starflyer 59 have paid off for me so many times they're always worth a little extra effort. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Rosebuds - Love Deluxe (Self-Released, 2012)

The Rosebuds
Love Deluxe

Rating: 8 ordinary loves out of 10

I love the Rosebuds and I love Sade.  But Ivan from the Rosebuds really really LOVES Sade, so much so that he decide to record a cover of her "Love Deluxe" album in it's entirety.  I sorta went into this from a novelty perspective, but it actually works pretty well.  It probably helps that I listened to this Sade album a lot in high school (an album I came to from skateboard videos of all things), so all of the songs are incredibly familiar.  The best part - it's free!  Maybe you're a Sade fan who doesn't know who the hell the Rosebuds are, or a Rosebuds fan wondering what the hell they are thinking, or even someone like myself who is a fan of costs the same for everyone.  Grab it here

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rites of Spring - Six Song Demo (Dischord, 2012)

Rites of Spring
Six Song Demo

Rating: 9.5 electoral votes out of 10

On the one hand, you already know all of these Rites of Spring songs from their completely perfect full-length record "End on End" from 1985.  All six songs are just different takes/versions recorded at the same time as the album.  On the other hand, it's Rites of fuckin' could probably release a seven inch of the band farting and I'd jump on it quicker the Fonz can fix a jukebox. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mogwai - A Wrenched Virile Lore (Sub Pop, 2012)

A Wrenched Virile Lore
Sub Pop

Rating: 6 vocoder solos out of 10

I've been a Mogwai fan for a long time, but it's interesting how time can change your opinions on a band and their music.  When they released the collection of remixes called "Kicking a Dead Pig" in 1998, I couldn't get enough of it.  I listened to that double CD constantly, and it was probably the single most played item at my video store seemed to go well with alphabetizing old horror movies or making sure creepy perverts weren't stealing from the porn room in the back.  

Now it's fourteen years later and the band has released another batch of remixes called "A Wrenched Virile Lore," all alternate takes and remixes of songs from the album "Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will."  And honestly, I couldn't be any more nonplussed about the whole matter.  It sounds totally fine and I'm sure plenty of Mogwai fans will dig it, but I'm just not sure I need remixes of their songs in my life at this point.  The originals are plenty.  Well, the Zombi remix of "Letters to the Metro" is pretty boss, but other than that, <insert photo of shrugging shoulders here>.  Soft Moon and Tim Hecker and a bunch of other people I've never heard of also do work here. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fuzz - This Time I Got a Reason 7'' (Trouble in Mind, 2012)

This Time I Got a Reason 7''
Trouble in Mind

Rating: 7 loud cicadas out of 10

Fuzz is a new band out of SF featuring Ty Segall and Charlie Mootheart.  At this point I've given up trying to keep up with all of Segall's releases, but with only this seven inch under their belt I can at least say I'm up-to-date on Fuzz.  This isn't a typical Ty Segall affair - like the name implies, this is distorted hard rock in the vein of Sabbath or the always underrated Blue Cheer.  Segall on drums and vocals, Charlie on guitar, the smell of bong smoke in the air.  It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's hard not to like some good stoner rock jams. 

It will be interesting to see how far the guys take this - hopefully a full length is in the works.  Knowing Segall, a half-dozen full lengths are in the works, all to be released before the summer gets here.   

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Allo Darlin' - 7777777 7'' (Where It's At Is Where You Are, 2012)

Allo Darlin'
7777777 7''
Where It's At Is Where You Are

Rating: 7 wrapped sandwiches out of 10

This Allo Darlin' seven inch is part of some limited subscription-only series that is apparently already sold out, so if you want this you're gonna have to drop some loot on eBay or scrounge the internets for a download.  Three songs, all mid-tempo affairs...not the catchiest songs the band has ever written but worth seeking out if you're a fan.  And I'm on record that Allo Darlin' is one of the best pop bands currently in existence, so even some b-sides make for a good listen.  Based on the attendance last time I saw them play not enough people are loving this band the way I do - pull your collective heads out of your collective asses people, and listen to this great band.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Will Johnson - Scorpion (Undertow, 2012)

Will Johnson

Rating: 6.5 freeway dividers out of 10

Will Johnson apparently likes to keep busy.  He has Centro-matic, presumably his main band; South San Gabriel, an offshoot that I always assumed was his solo work; but then he also records under his own name.  And that's not to mention all the other various side projects he's involved in like Monsters of Folk and writing/recording with Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.  How he decides what songs go to which bands is beyond me, but it seems more than reasonable to call him the Robert Pollard of the alt-country/folk rock world.  

"Scorpion" is a nice, pleasant (and possibly depressing depending on your mood) folk record.  It's mostly just Johnson, his guitar and his signature gravelly voice, with the occasional bit of drums or organ or whatnot added in for color.  It's not nearly as exciting as the fantastic Centro-matic record from last year, "Candidate Waltz," though it's still worth a listen if you're in the mood for some rainy day music.  Hell, it might even sound good on a bright sunny day.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Spider Bags - Shake My Head (Odessa, 2012)

Spider Bags
Shake My Head

Rating: 8.5 tough titties out of 10

To call Spider Bags unclassifiable is to state the truth.  There is no real unifying factor throughout all of their songs other than them being of extremely high quality.  They're so unclassifiable I find a hard time summing the band up in one of my shitty short reviews.  Their music is this weird stew pot of punk, garage, country, old school r & b...basically, everything short of polka and field recordings of the ocean.  Perhaps the most contemporary artist you could think of comparing them to would be the Golden Boys, but when I listen to them they always make me think of the Replacements.  Not so much in sound, and certainly Spider Bags singer Dan McGee sounds nothing like Paul Westerberg, but they have the same spirit, the same moxie or some such shit.  As an added bonus, they are just mesmerizing and amazing live.  This probably shouldn't color a review of their record, but in my mind the two things are intertwined.  And as they are a local group for me, I get to see them live a lot - though not as often as I want to listen to this record.