Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fugazi - First Demo (Dischord, 2014)

First Demo

Rating: 9 carbonated flyers out of 10

This isn't a review of this "new" record by Fugazi as much as it is a PSA in case you weren't aware it was recently released.  The album is exactly what the name says - their first studio demo, where they began flashing out what would be their signature sound.  It sounds exactly how you would expect it to - like a looser, not fully formed version of Fugazi.  When you have all of these songs like "Merchandise" and "Waiting Room" and "Song #1" memorized like I do, it's fun to hear these slightly different versions.  To be sure, if you've never listened to the band just go buy "Repeater" or either of their first two EPs and branch out from there, but for an old fan like myself, someone that considers these guys one of my top three favorite bands of all time, this is a special treat. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Various Artists - Radio Ready: Wisconsin (Cheap Rewards, 2014)

Various Artists
Radio Ready: Wisconsin - Lost Power Pop Hits 1979-1982 
Cheap Rewards

Rating: 8 felt glasses out of 10

You had me at power pop.  The title kind of says it all - this is a collection of power pop songs from the prime years of the genre, all performed by Wisconsin bands.  Some of the songs have been featured on other similar compilations and the the Shivvers are pretty well known, but it's still a collection worth digging up.  Nearly every song is catchy beyond belief, as it should be.  Some highlights include songs by the Shivvers "No Substitute" (also available on their recently reissued full-length), the Wigs "180 Degrees," and the Orbits "The Waiting Game."  The material ranges from Dictators-like novelty pop to Elvis Costello-ish crooner jams, but there isn't a bad track in the bunch.  The vinyl is already out of print at Cheap Rewards, but there are copies ot be found at some of the distros and on discogs for fair prices.   

Built to Spill - Ripple 7'' (Warner Bros, 2011)

Built to Spill
Ripple 7''
Warner Bros

Rating: 7 rat dogs out of 10

Having heard Built to Spill play this cover of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" live on a couple of occasions, I was hoping this record of the track was a proper studio version.  Alas, just another live take, though the audio is high quality to be fair.  Same song on both sides - if you're cool with releasing a live track why not just throw any live Built to Spill song on the other side?  Seems like a waste.  Add another song or make this a studio version and this gets a much higher score. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Run the Jewels - RTJ2 (Mass Appeal, 2014)

Run the Jewels
Mass Appeal

Rating: 8 paint owners out of 10

Someone whose opinion I generally respect called this new record by Run the Jewels the best rap record of the last ten years.  While I definitely don't feel that strongly about "RTJ2," I'll definitely give it the nod of best rap album of the year.  I listen to so little rap these day though, that might be even less informed than my general musical opinion...regardless, I love the album.  Both El-P and Killer Mike are firing on all cylinders, especially on tracks "Oh My Darling Don't Cry" and "Close Your Eyes (and Count to Fuck)," the latter which also features Zach from Rage Against the Machine, someone I hadn't thought of in decades.  If there is a complaint it's that the record feels short - you really want more from this terrific duo.   

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reigning Sound - Shattered (Merge, 2014)

Reigning Sound

Rating: 7 orange wrappers out of 10

Reigning Sound might be releasing their records on the hot shit indie label Merge now, but that has apparently had zero bearing on the group's output.  And why would it?  The band got signed to the label for their rootsy garage pop, and by god that is exactly what you get on "Shattered."  Greg Cartwright know his strengths, and it's catchy rock songs played through hollow body electric guitars and with just the slightest touch of twang to take it over the top.  Sure, you could complain that all of their records kinda sound the same, but I want their records to sound the same - they're comforting like an old friend, and this is a very comfortable record.  "Once More" and "My My" are a great one-two punch right in the middle of the album that perfectly sums up why these guys are so great.  Long live Reigning Sound, may you never change. 

Eleanor Friedberger / Spoon - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Eleanor Friedberger / Spoon
Split 7''

Rating: 6.5 mini bars out of 10

The first side of this Merge subscription split is Eleanor Friedberger doing a cover of the Yoko Ono song "Open Your Soul To Me."  Eleanor is/was a member of Fiery Furnaces - I'll admit I've never been much of a fan of that band or Yoko, so this track didn't do much for me.  She has a nice voice and it's a decent enough song, it's just not my bag.  On the flip Spoon does a cover of a Fiery Furnaces' song - "Waiting To Know You" - I've never heard the original, but Spoon very much Spoons this one up, I honestly wouldn't have even thought it was a cover if I didn't know better. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hiss Golden Messenger / Matt Suggs - Split 7'' (Merge, 2014)

Hiss Golden Messenger / Matt Suggs
Split 7''

Rating: 8 pretty tigers out of 10

The Merge subscription series keeps on rollin' - this time with Hiss Golden Messenger and Matt Suggs.  The HGM offering, "Rock Holy," is an upbeat track with MC Taylor's vocals dominating the scene as per usual.  The better of the two songs is Sugg's "This Is My Light," reminding me of why I listened so obsessively to his album from 2000 "Golden Days Before They End."  The former Butterglory frontman has a way of writing new indie pop songs that sound like late sixties / early seventies AM gold classics.  This track is actually very upbeat for him, and way too short...it's been over ten years since he released a new record, hopefully this is a sign of things to come?