Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jacuzzi Boys - Jacuzzi Boys (Hardly Art, 2013)

Jacuzzi Boys
Jacuzzi Boys
Hardly Art

: 7 dance companies out of 10

They may have been at one time, but the Jacuzzi Boys are not punk anymore.  Or garage, or garage-punk, or whatever identifier is generally attached to these cats.  This often seems to be the path a lot of these bands take - my theory is it's likely a function of them becoming more skilled with their instruments combined with better honing their songwriting skills.  Or maybe they're just getting soft in their old age - and by old age, I mean early twenties probably.  This self-titled album lives somewhere in the void between their old sound and pretty straight-forward indie pop.  Not only has their technical skill improved, but they've clearly upped the production.  It's not totally shiny compared to a good power pop album, but it's heading in that direction.  Good record though, worth a listen for old fans or the curious. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Mothballs - Come Out of the Closet 7'' (Car-Hole Adult Party, 2005)

The Mothballs
Come Out of the Closet 7''
Car-Hole Adult Party

Rating: 9 young administrations out of 10

I saw the Mothballs a crazy number of times over the years I lived in the Bay Area, one of the funnest local live bands and they played out a lot.  Their songs are incredibly catchy and you can't help but dance and sing along.  This release has four songs, all great, the best being "Walking Down a Street Called Love" which just worms it's way into my brain for days every time I hear it.  It's been years since they broke up and I last saw them play (often in the drummer's dirt floor basement), but I think about this band a lot.  

So many great things about this record - for one, the b-side plays inside-out instead of the normal way.  I'm sure that confused a ton of people and the band probably loves that.  Also, etched into the run outs: 
A-side: Mothballs 40 oz Coaster
B-side: We wrote all these songs!

Obits - One Cross Apiece 7'' (Sub Pop, 2009)

One Cross Apiece 7''
Sub Pop

Rating: 8 low property values out of 10

Rick Froberg has now been a major figure in three amazing bands - Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, and now Obits.  Most people would kill to be part of just one.  I picked up this record when they came through town on tour in 2009 (I think), a blisteringly good show that easily lived up to their recordings.  Both tracks here are great, both the title and the flip "Put It in Writing" - if you dig the band's driving punk style, you won't be let down. 

Various Artists - Lonestar Showdown - Volume One 7'' (Little Deputy, 1998)

Various Artists
Lonestar Showdown - Volume One 7''
Little Deputy

Rating: 5 urban centers out of 10

Four bands, four tracks of Texas-based dirty, slightly goofy hardcore.  The Reclusives lead off with "UT Fight Song" and it's the strong point of the slab.  The other acts are Wormdirt, the Motards, and the Cryin' Out Louds, none of which put forth an effort worth getting worked up over IMO.  Not awful or anything know.  Whatever.  No idea what led me to buy this. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Guided by Voices - Tigerbomb 7'' (Matador, 1995)

Guided by Voices
Tigerbomb 7''

Rating: 10 neon lights out of 10

Six songs on one seven inch?  It's gotta be Guided by Voices.  Or maybe a hardcore band, except it's definitely GBV cause I'm listening to it right now.  Don't argue with me.  This includes different versions of two of GBV's greatest songs - "My Valuable Hunting Knife" and "Game of Pricks," plus four other truly great additional songs.  It's entirely possible these alternate versions are even better than the originals, big words coming from me.  Out of every seven inch I own, I've probably listened to this one the most. 

Lubricated Goat - Play Dead 7'' (Sub Pop, 1993)

Lubricated Goat
Play Dead 7''
Sub Pop

Rating: 6 hidden pricks out of 10

I'm certain I only bought this because it was (a) on Sub Pop and (b) the band name Lubricated Goat is so awesome.  And dig that crazy cover art!  The band is Australian and reside somewhere in the fold between punk and noise rock, likely drawing comparisons to Pere Ubu or Scratch Acid or some of those types, with maybe just a tinge of grunge sheen given when this was recorded.  The title track is stellar, catchy and rough at the same time.  The flip "Prayer for Blood" is fairly mediocre though.  Not a bad record if you see it lying around in a bargain bin somewhere.  On clear red vinyl. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Polvo - Siberia (Merge, 2013)


Rating: 8 broken mirrors out of 10

A new record by one of my top 5 favorite bands of all time, Polvo.  Let's not beat around the bush here, it's fuckin' fantastic from this obviously completely unbiased reviewer.  For the most part this sounds like it could have come out after "Cor-Crane Secret" or one of their early classics.  The production is a little better and there are synths and/or keyboards on some of the songs, but if you told me tracks like "Total Immersion" and "Light, Raking" were outtakes from those early years just now getting recorded I would completely believe you.  There isn't a weak spot at any point of the album, just eight songs of Sonic Youth-inspired math rock the way the band was always meant to be.

Chavez - Repeat the Ending 7'' (Matador, 1994)

Repeat the Ending 7''

Rating: 10 symbol cymbals out of 10

In the pantheon of bands who never got their due, Chavez has to be top 5. They had a big rock sound with catchy songs and a high level of musicianship.  I listened to their full lengths basically on repeat for much of my college years.  This record, on Coke bottle clear vinyl, was one of a handful of records I transferred to cassette so I could listen to it in my car.  Eventually I purchased the "Pentagram Ring" EP, where both the title track and the b-side "Hack the Sides Away" could also be found.  Later on they were also released on the compilation "Better Days Will Haunt You."

Now if we could just get Matador to re-release their two full-length albums on vinyl (they both seem to go for north of 50 bucks), I would be a very happy man.   

Velocity Girl - Your Silent Face 7'' (Merge, 1994)

Velocity Girl
Your Silent Face 7''

Rating: 7 war pigs out of 10

I went through a serious Velocity Girl phase in college, and it wasn't just because of the crush I had on singer Kelly Riles, though that certainly didn't hurt.   They were never on Merge but released this seven inch of covers on the local label.  The title track was originally by New Order, and Velocity Girl does a decent nineties pop version of the song.  The b-side is actually the better of the two, a cover of the Beach Boys' "You're So Good To Me."  IT might be tough to fuck up a copy of this one, but I still enjoy what VG does with it. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Breadwinner - '' '' + 2 7'' (Merge, 1991)

'' '' + 2 7''

Rating: 10 personal issues out of 10

KIDS THESE DAYS NEED TO LISTEN TO MORE BREADWINNER YO!!!  Glorious beautiful instrumental math rock from before such a designation even existed.  All of these songs are on their compilation Merge put out.  A short lived but glorious act that got played A LOT in my college years. 

The Renderers - Million Lights 7'' (Merge, 1993)

The Renderers
Million Lights 7''

Rating: 8 bags of feelings out of 10

I honestly never listened to the Renderers much outside of the title track on this seven inch that was included in the "Rows of Teeth" compilation.  I listened to that compilation over and over and over my freshman year of college, setting a huge tone for my music fandom for years to come.  Superchunk, Polvo and Archers of Loaf might have brought me there, but I ended up a fan of nearly every group on the release.  This band sort of occupies the same "weird country" space that Lambchop does, with very different vocals.  And that title track still sounds awesome twenty years later.  The b-side "Primitive Country" is decent too, though not on par with the title track. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Destroyer - Five Spanish Songs EP (Merge, 2013)

Five Spanish Songs EP

Rating: 5 ceramic Speedy Gonzales figurines out of 10

I don't have any idea what to do with this Destroyer EP.  It doesn't really sound like Destroyer...but it still sounds ok I guess?  It's entirely in Spanish which means I can't even sing along if I wanted to, and I usually love singing along to Destroyer.  This is the sort of shit that is cute and works when Jonathan Richman does it, but I'm kinda tuning out quickly when it comes from Dan Bejar. 

Small 23 - Noodles 7'' (Matt / Landspeed, 1993)

Small 23
Noodles 7''
Matt / Landspeed

Rating: 9.5 Spanish flies out of 10

Another lost local classic from Small 23 - the title track is one of the band's all-time best songs, this version sounding just a hair different from the version also available on their full-length "True Zero Hook."  The flip, "Wet Cement," is a track that is only available here as far as I know and features Eric Bachmann on guitar - I can only assume the band recorded this before he left Small and started Archers of Loaf.   On burgundy red vinyl! 

Pipe - Human Gutterball 7'' (Merge, 1994)

Human Gutterball 7''

Rating: out of 10

Any time I listen to Pipe I try my best to dance around like singer Ron Liberti.  I'm not successful because no one can quite pull off his moves like he does, but goddammit I try!  I've just been grabbing these seven inches out of my storage boxes willy-nilly without looking, and I've luckily really hit a run of some of my favorites lately - hence all the high scores.  Cause how you gonna give Pipe a low score?  Two rad songs of North Carolina slacker punk, and any time I listen it just makes me think of how great they are live.  I've seen them countless times and they have never come close to disappointing. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Nation of Ulysses - The Birth Of The Ulysses Aesthetic (The Synthesis Of Speed And Transformation) 7'' (Dischord, 1991)

The Nation of Ulysses
The Birth Of The Ulysses Aesthetic (The Synthesis Of Speed And Transformation) 7''

Rating: 10 bottles of cough syrup out of 10

Pretty sure it's against the law to give Nation of Ulysses any score less than perfect, because that band was perfection personified.  Sure, all the songs are can also be found on their full-length "Plays Pretty for Baby," but that doesn't fucking matter.  You should own everything NOU puts out, it will make you smarter and a better person simply through osmosis. 

Cole - Filthy Skin 7'' (Hep-Cat, 1996)

Filthy Skin 7''

Rating: 7 touchdowns out of 10

Cole were our own local answer for Codeine, one of my all-time favorite bands.  The vocals for Cole are different, a little gruffer, but musically it's almost like they were a Codeine cover band.  I dug this seven inch when I bought it years ago, but hadn't heard it in ages - it stands up IMO.  Title track is the stronger of the two, but the b-side "N. East by N. East" is a strong effort as well.

Note: runout etching reads "Girls got skin, call it a strtagy."  No idea what that is all about. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Archers of Loaf - Classic Rock Is for Pussies 7'' (Esther, 1995)

Archers of Loaf
Classic Rock Is for Pussies 7''

Rating: 10+ scuzzy drunkards out of 10

Archers of Loaf, if not my very favorite band of all time, are at least top three.  Both songs on this seven inch, "Mutes in the Steeple" and "Smokin' Pot in the Hot City" are also available on their singles compilation "The Speed of Cattle," but that doesn't mean I'm not going to purchase every single thing I ever see the band's name on.  Plus the versions on the compilation sound slightly different - according to the liner notes, they were recorded as part of a John Peel session.  I'm not sure where the seven inch versions came from, but they definitely sound dirtier.  "Mutes" is a favorite of mine regardless of format. 

The Functional Blackouts - Razorblade Blues 7'' (Electrorock, 2002)

The Functional Blackouts
Razorblade Blues 7''

Rating: 6.5 naval vessels out of 10

The Functional Blackouts play scuzzy Oblivians-inspired garage punk, and they do it pretty well.  I saw them live once years back and all I really remember is that it was chaotic.  IT was also at Thee Parkside, one of the worst sounding rooms I've ever listened to bands in, so that either helped or didn't helped depending on your opinion of how live punk rock should sound.  

Anyways, this seven inch has four songs, two per side, and I don't have anything special to say about any of the particular tracks.  They all rock balls though. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

ASG - Blood Drive (Relapse, 2013)

Blood Drive

Rating: 7 well buckets out of 10

I'll listen to old Slayer or Metallica records with the best of them, but when it comes to new metal I'm not particularly well versed outside of a couple of bands.  When a good friend who is deep into the metal world insisted I check out ASG, I figured why not. 

I'd barely call this metal - the band and their fans may find that insulting but I don't mean it to be.  It's very melodic, more of a psychedelic hard rock than anything I think of as metal.  It's (usually) not fast enough for the classic metal definition and (usually) not dark and sludgy enough to fit into the slower metal genres like stoner rock.  The singer actually sings on most of the tracks, and does it well - not a mainstay of the metal world.  Regardless of dumb genre drawer you do or don't decide to put the band in, the record is very good.  There is a proggy aspect to their music that really works, and I'm rarely complimentary of anything proggy.  I'm diggin' it. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Kent 3 / Leatherboy - Split 7'' (Extra Ball, 1999)

The Kent 3 / Leatherboy
Split 7''
Extra Ball

Rating: 6.5 sweet cider out of 10

I think the Kent 3 had already ceased existing when I got turned onto their twitchy surf punk sound by a dude named Virgil.  Their track "Cave Ball" is a pretty good representation of the band.  Seems like you can always find them in the bargain bin, and they are definitely worth checking out.  

The b-side is "What Sisters Do" by Leatherboy, a band I know nothing about and have only seen listed on this seven inch.  Their track is in the same vein as the Kent 3, but a little grungier and dirtier.  Can't find shit for them online and I looked for at least a couple of minutes!

Ben Lee - Pop Queen 7'' (Grand Royal, 1994)

Ben Lee
Pop Queen 7''
Grand Royal

Rating: 7 open doors out of 10

The title track is still one the better non-Noise Addict songs by Ben Lee, and I believe this was the first thing he released under his own name.  Unfortunately for him it was kinda all downhill after these first couple of years, but hey - at least he had a couple of good years.  

The flip side is two songs "The Waiting Game" and "Get Your Sleep," two short, mellow, acoustic tracks that are good but nothing worth banging your head into the wall over. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Track Star - Removable Parts 7'' (Suicide Squeeze, 1998)

Track Star
Removable Parts 7''
Suicide Squeeze

Rating: 7.5 forks and spoons out of 10

I listened to the shit out of the Track Star album "Communication Breaks" when it came out - I had it on one side of a cassette and the first Death Cab for Cutie on the other, and I would just let the thing play over and over in my car.  This seven inch falls very much in line with the music from that record, and is damn enjoyable.  I've never been entirely sure how to describe this band - the aforementioned Death Cab isn't far off, but Track Star is a little more subdued or mellow with just a hint of shoegaze thrown in there maybe.  These guys never got as popular as they should have. 

Rex - Leak Through 7'' (Bubble Core, 1996)

Leak Through 7''
Bubble Core

Rating: 6 gangster movies out of 10

Let me say first off fuck a seven inch record that is 33 instead of 45 and they don't state that anywhere on the record label or jacket.  Drives me fuckin' insane.  

But I can't stay mad at Rex for long.  The title track is classic slow core greatness.  I'm not entirely what more needs to be said.  The flip side "Pour Down" completely confuses me - I'm not sure what speed it's supposed to be played at, and since it's instrumental I don't have the chipmunk or death metal vocal to let me know it's at the wrong speed.  Seriously people, label your fucking records. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Finger - Wedding Boots 7'' (Third Sister, 1993)

Wedding Boots 7''
Third Sister

Rating: 7 awkward scripts out of 10

Despite being local lads, I never got that into Finger - I think it's because they faded out right as I started college, and I missed the window.  It's too bad - I enjoy their recordings.  They're definitely in that early nineties pocket of college rock/"120 Minutes"/Chapel Hill indie rock that made this area somewhat famous for good bands during that era.  I'm certain I would have been way into them if they were still playing out in my college years.

Jon Wurster of Superchunk and the Mountain Goats and a thousand other bands played drums on this release, though I don't think he is the regular drummer.  And it's possible Discogs is lying to me.

Coconut Coolouts - The Spinaround 7'' (Heads Up, 2007)

Coconut Coolouts
The Spinaround 7''
Heads Up

Rating: 7 old hen-pecked guys out of 10

I probably bought this seven inch when I saw the Coconut Coolouts play in my friend's basement (aka "The Cereal Factory") around the same time as the release date.  Really REALLY fun live band.  The title track is a party dance jam, barely having any lyrics more than the title.  I actually prefer the b-side "Swim," which is still fun but more of a garage punk stomper than just instructions on how to make yourself dizzy. 

The Metroshifter - For the Love of Basic Cable 7'' (Foresight, 1995)

The Metroshifter
For the Love of Basic Cable 7''

Rating: 6 disco rubs out of 10

I once saw the Metroshifter randomly when visiting a friend who lived in NYC; it was CMJ and we just randomly picked a show to go to.  I really dug them live but it never really translated to purchasing much of their music.  They had sort of an Archers of Loaf-meets-melodic post hardcore (a sill genre name but a style very popular in the early nineties as dudes from hardcore bands learned to play their instruments and slowed down their songs).  The two songs on this release, ""Link" and "Whatever's Wrong with Me Is Here to Stay," are both still very listenable. 

As a side note that is super on the side, the founder/frontman of this band, Scott Ritcher, ran for mayor of Louisville a while back.  I remember it being talked about in some circles as I generally didn't listen to music performed by mayoral candidates. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Edsel / Jawbox - Split 7'' (DeSoto, 1993)

Edsel / Jawbox
Split 7''

Rating: 8 happy beds out of 10

I've barely even listened to the Edsel song "Penaluna" on side A.  It's fine, they were just never a band that ruffled my feathers.  No idea if this song is also available elsewhere, I've never bothered to look.  

But the flip side is Jawbox and their hit "Savory" - shit, I've listened to this song a lot of times in my life.  The track is also available on the full-length "For Your Own Special Sweetheart," but the fan and record nerd side of me loves owning this.

Note: Instead of going to noise as you allow the needle to play to the middle of "Savory," it just keeps repeating the last riff of the song.  You see this every once in a while, just one of those neat quirks that delights my simple mind.

Additional note: runout on side A reads"Succullent Monk"; on side B it is "I'll Call My Daughter Persia."

The Charming Snakes - Hang Your Head 7'' (Haunted Horse, 2003)

The Charming Snakes
Hang Your Head 7''
Haunted Horse

Rating: 5.5 down coats out of 10

Not only do I not remember ever purchasing this Charming Snakes record, my crack research team can barely find anything about it's not even listed on Discogs for some reason (and I'm way to lazy to create a listing myself).  I guess some of these guys went on to perform in Coconut Coolouts, one of the funner bands I've ever seen live that included members in banana suits.  This material isn't as fun as the Coolouts, but not a lot is.  It's perfectly fine modern garage pop, or at least as modern as 2003.  Nothing you're gonna wet yourself over though. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Arcwelder - Captain Allen 7'' (Touch and Go, 1995)

Captain Allen 7''
Touch and Go

Rating: 6 big birds out of 10

I've probably not given Arcwelder a single thought since I likely bought this seven inch in a bargain bin at Amoeba a decade or more ago.  My gut reaction is they sound like a band who wanted to be a little bit math rock (though the band existed before that was even a term), a little bit Melvins, and a lot Fugazi.  Maybe it's just because they're on Touch an Go but the music gives off a real midwest vibe.  A decent record but it may be a decade before I listen to it again. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Zumpano - Wraparound Shades 7'' (Sub Pop, 1994)

Wraparound Shades 7''
Sub Pop

Rating: 7 salmon wheels out of 10

Zumpano was a great, short lived power pop band out of Vancouver that is probably best known these days as where AC Newman got his start.  Newman of course went on to some solo success and more visibly with his all-star band the New Pornographers.  It doesn't take a strong imagintion to hear these Zumpano songs and not hear where Newman ended up, they're all cut from the same cloth.  The title track is especially catchy.  

Dis - Ed Was Solace 7'' (Twelve Inch, 1992)

Ed Was Solace 7''
Twelve Inch

Rating: 7.5 cleveland steamers out of 10

Dis (or Dis-) was one of those mid-nineties math rock bands that seemed to pop up everywhere all at once, all seemingly in homage to the almighty Slint.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, we could use more bands these days that sound like Slint IMO.  They never generated the buzz of June of 44 or Dianogah or some of those cats, but they were just as good - both sides of this record are great.  I might even prefer the slow melter on the b-side called "Girl Song."  This record was engineered by Steve Albini for those that care about such things. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Best Coast - Best Coast 7'' (Art Fag, 2010)

Best Coast
Best Coast 7''
Art Fag

Rating: 7 unmarried heterosexuals out of 10

Best Coast are kinda hot shit these days and I've been unwilling to pay the steeper ticket prices, but they can write a pop song.  I think I picked up this orange vinyl when I saw them play the first Hopscotch festival back in 2010.  The standout track is the last one of the three, a cover of the Lesley Gore song "That's the Way Boys Are."  Catchy shit. 

Prince - I Would Die 4 U 7'' (Warner Bros, 1984)

I Would Die 4 U 7''
Warner Bros

Rating: 10 surprise laser tag dinners out of 10

Is this the best Prince song of all time? "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" is very close.  "When You Were Mine" might be even closer.   But I'm pretty sure this one is the winner.  

No one gives a shit about b-side, something about christmas.  I don't do christmas music.  Wham's "Last Christmas" excluded of course. 

Shudder to Think - X-French Tee Shirt7'' (Sub Pop, 1994)

Shudder to Think
X-French Tee Shirt 7''
Sub Pop

Rating: 9 mooch gangsters out of 10

As one of the purest examples of how weird the music business was in the nineties, Shudder to Think was signed to a major label.  I absolutely love this band but the idea of that is completely absurd. This band is the definition of "art punk" in my mind, ever since seeing them open for Fugazi a couple of times back in 1992.  Most of their records came out on Dischord so not entirely sure why Sub Pop released it, but both songs are grand.  The title track is perfection, and can also be found on the full length "Pony Express Record," an amazing album from start to finish.  The flip side is a live version of "Shake Your Halo Down," a song also found on the criminally underrated record "Get Your Goat."  This record may not really offer anything new, but as a huge fan of the band I'm still glad to own it.