Monday, June 16, 2014

Wye Oak - Shriek (Merge, 2014)

Wye Oak

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''

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

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)


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

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. 

? & the Mysterians - 96 Tears 7'' (Cameo, 1966)

? & the Mysterians
96 Tears 7''

Rating: 9 dream plugs out of 10

This song is eternally stuck in my head.  I can't even hear the words "96" or "Tears" without instantly getting that organ line running in a loop in my brain.  Despite this, I still absolutely love this classic by ? & the Mysterians.  It's near-perfect.  The b-side is "Midnight Hour," and no not that "Midnight Hour," and no one cares because everyone just keeps listening to side a. 

The Get Up Kids / Volcano, I'm Still Excited!! - Split 7'' (Devil in the Woods, 2004)

The Get Up Kids / Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!
Split 7''
Devil in the Woods

Rating: 6 grave diggers out of 10

Man I really have a lot of these Devil in the Woods records!  It's like a surprise every time I find one.  This split finds the Get Up Kids performing a "Live In The Studio" version of their song "Wouldn't Believe It," also found on their record "Guilt Show."  I was way into these guys for a while but this track is after I sorta stopped listening - it's decent enough, catchy, but can't really speak to how different (or necessary) it is compared to the album version.   

The b-side is a demo version of "Trunk of My Car" by Volcano, I'm Still Excited!!.  They only released one self-titled record and (I'm assuming) the version found there is polished and fancy.  The music is fine, typical Elephant 6-inspired pop, but the most noteworthy thing about this band is it is fronted by Mark Duplass, filmmaker and Pete from the hilarious show "The League." 

Neutrino - Flight Paths 7'' (Box Factory, 1997)

Flight Paths 7''
Box Factory

Rating: 6.5 bloody hands out of 10

Pretty run-of-the-mill mid-nineties math rock seven inch from Neutrino.  That is to say it's good and enjoyable and I was nuts for this genre at the time, but nothing life changing.  The four songs are mostly instrumental with occasional vocals that are too low in the mix.  The best track is the final song "Figure 1," which carries a heavy Slint vibe, and that is always a good thing. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

1.6 Band - Pimpin' Ain't Easy 7'' (Wardance, 1993)

1.6 Band
Pimpin' Ain't Easy 7''

Rating: 7 northern southerners out of 10

I have absolutely no idea who 1.6 Band is or why I ever bought it, but I'm into it.  They are apparently referred to as a hardcore band, though I would call them a metal-math rock-harcore mish-mash.  Think Breadwinner but with Minor Threat-era Ian McKaye handling vocals.  It works well together actually.  In hardcore fashion they have fit four songs on this record...actually, that's a pretty low number for a hardcore seven inch.  And while opener "Pushing Shit Back Into My Ass" wins the award of Best Song Title, the following track "Bullet To The Brain" is actually the best song.

Cars Get Crushed - Warped Speed 7'' (Deluxe, 1997)

Cars Get Crushed
Warped Speed 7''

Rating: 6 small fingers out of 10

Cars Get Crushed were a late nineties Bay Area rock group that walked a fine line between slowcore and emo, or something along those lines.  Think Rex and/or Codeine meets Christie Front Drive or Strictly Ballroom.  It's pretty ok.  I don't think I have anything else to say about it. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Terry Malts - Something About You 7'' (Slumberland, 2011)

Terry Malts
Something About You 7''

Rating: 7.5 great closers out of 10

For my money, Terry Malts are one of the best current bands to combine the best of seventies pop punk and eighties c86 indie rock into a fantastic, catchy fuzzed-out mess.  Two of the three songs on this release, the title track and "No Sir, I'm Not a Christian" are also featured on their full-length "Killing Time," but these versions are slightly different - I don't know the musical jargon for it, but these are echoier.  Like they were recorded in a giant tin room.  I prefer the cleaner album version, but I'm still happy to have this slab of pink wax.  Oh yeah, and there is a third song "Fun Night" that is great and exclusive to this. 

Tommy James And The Shondells - I Think We're Alone Now 7'' (Roulette, 1967)

Tommy James And The Shondells
I Think We're Alone Now 7''

Rating: 8 fault lines out of 10

Yes, that "I Think We're Alone Now."  Tiffany's version might be better known these days, but the smart kids know it was first a hit for Tommy James and the Shondells.  It sounds mostly the same, only far superior with a real beat band playing the music instead of a bunch of glossy studio musicians (guessing on that part).  Oh, and a dude is singing instead of a girl obviously.  B-side "Gone, Gone, Gone" is worth a mention as well, a catchy, upbeat track with simple lyrics, what I think is some sort of low horn being used as a bass line, and a goddamn flute solo!  MORE FLUTE SOLOS PLEASE. 

Finger - Everywhere 7'' (Merge, 1990)

Everywhere 7''

Rating: 7 passing dumptrucks out of 10

Finger was before my time, but I've always enjoyed these local vets' take on Husker Du-ish guitar-driven indie rock.  Not only is this one of Merge Record's earliest releases (catalog number 12), it might be one of the first releases by the band.  Neither the title track or the b-side "Awful Truth" seem to appear anywhere else, and the title track is well worth seeking out if you're a fan of early nineties Triangle rock.  Or if you just like awesome songs. 

Side note: I just realized local alt-country legend John Howie, also of Two Dollar Pistols and solo work, played drums in Finger.  Trivia!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rex - All 7'' (Southern, 1995)

All 7''

Rating: 6.5 contract ducks out of 10

Musically Rex is a little bit all over the map, with the unifying factor that it all seems rather "morose."  I always struggle to compare them to anyone else though, and I love comparing bands so it drives me an extra bit crazy.  "All" is a mellow, slightly twangy number, but the b-side "Nayramadin Orgil" with it's slightly Idyll Swords-like vibe is the better of the two tracks.  The cover is letter pressed and awesome, by the way.  

Fin Fang Foom - Ravenous 7'' (Tritone, 2000)

Fin Fang Foom
Ravenous 7''

Rating: 6 botched murders out of 10

Fin Fang Foom are a local Triangle three-piece that I used to skate with all the time back during my college years.  They still seem to play from time to time, but their heyday was the late nineties into the early oughts. They were/are math rock, but of the slightly more melodic variety, and occasionally a little weird.  Neither song here, "Ravenous" and "Blood and Iron," appear anywhere else that I can find.  The title track has a long piano intro and then sounds a little like an off-kilter Joan of Arc song, and the other track lends a heavy PArty of Helicopters vibe (this is a good thing, for the record).