Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels - Doomsday Troops EP (Loud Punk, 2013)

Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels
Doomsday Troops EP

Loud Punk

Rating: 5 Mexican air conditioners out of 10

This is a reissue of this EP by Ernst And The Edsholm Rebels, the first pass being self-released in 1984 and worth a damn fortune apparently (if you consider a fortune somewhere between $100 and $200 dollars).  I'll be totally honest, I grabbed this out of the used bin and thought it was actually a seven inch by the great Eater, what with the way the band wrote their name and all.  Still, it's an ok slab, five songs of hardcore punk in typical early eighties fashion - the band might be Swedish, but the songs aren't.  This has never been one of my favorite styles of punk, but I bet they were a lot of fun live.  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions (Concord, 2017)

The New Pornographers
Whiteout Conditions

Rating: 7.5 melted ice cubes out of 10

I love pretty much everything about the pop stylings of the New Pornographers, but there are two things I love most about them - the inclusion of Dan Bejar and Neko Case.  In fact, while I normally quite like AC Newman (and I'm well aware that he's the real brains behind this endeavor), sometimes I get mad that he is singing songs that those two could be performing instead.  Which isn't particularly fair, because most of his tracks are aces too... they're just not Dan and/or Neko.  Few are. 

Anyways, "Whiteout Conditions" is the seventh record by this ragtag supergroup, making the New Pornographers more stable and longer-lasting than most of groups from which the band members are actually "appearing."  In a lot of ways this is more of the same from TNP - upbeat, catchy, and very poppy songs (that some people and/or reviewers like to call power pop even though it isn't power pop at all in my opinion, but I admit I'm a bit of an old school purist with that genre term), but with a couple of key differences: no Dan Bejar (boo!!!), who was busy on the new Destroyer album apparently (yay!!!); and it's way more upbeat/electronic than the band typically is.  One of life's great pleasures is hearing a country crooner like Neko belting out a dance pop jam like album opener "Play Money."   

Long story short, if you're already a fan you know you're going to pick up "Whiteout Conditions" anyways; and if you've never listened, I reckon it's as good a place to start as any.  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Spider Bags - Hey Delinquents 7'' (Daggerman, 2008)

Spider Bags
Hey Delinquents 7''

Rating: 6.5 closed motels out of 10

Spider Bags first seven inch!  It's fine - not as good as the band they would become a few years after this, but still totally listenable and worth checking out if you randomly happen across it like I did.  Both the title track (also available on the full-length "Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World") and the b-side "Professionals" are mid-tempo affairs, kinda intentionally loose and sloppy (a descriptor that would fit their entire catalog), but not real strong in the hooks department.  Start with 2012's "Shake My Head" if you want to hear this great band once they hit full stride.  I'm not saying they got better because they moved to North Carolina, but...

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Superchunk - I Got Cut 7'' (Merge, 2017)

I Got Cut 7''

Rating: 8.5 dead eye lights out of 10

I suppose it's only fitting the the 600th (!) release on Merge records would be from label founders, stalwarts, and owners Superchunk.  Moreover, this seven inch was also a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, with all proceeds from the limited run of 500 going to help the beleaguered organization.  Good on Merge and Superchunk for doing the right thing, and good on me for buying this slab right away because it sold out pretty damn quick.  

Anyways, the record itself - the title track on side A is a fairly punk affair, sounding like an old Chunk song with a chorus that reminds me of the Damned's "Smash It Up."  If that's not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is because everyone loves that damn Damned song.  The flip side is "Up Against The Wall," a cover of a Tom Robinson Band track that I quite liked.  To be honest my only knowledge of Tom Robinson was their one hit "2-4-6-8 Motorway," but now I'm going to make a point to listen to the original.   

Monday, July 3, 2017

Spiral Stairs - Doris & The Daggers (Nine Mile, 2017)

Spiral Stairs
Doris & The Daggers
Nine Mile

Rating: 7.5 wizard balls out of 10

Spiral Stairs aka Scott Kannberg aka the other dude from Pavement who sings occasionally doesn't appear to be in any hurry when it comes to music or life in general.  His last release was "The Real Feel" in 2009, and since then he's moved around the world and seemingly just enjoyed life without worrying about any music industry bullshit.  I'm not sure if that time off was a necessary recharge that was needed to produce this damn fine record "Doris & The Daggers," or if I should be mad I had to wait nearly a decade to get another recording from him, but I guess better late than never.  The Pavement pedigree is clearly there in most of these songs, especially if you've listened to that band as much as I have, but it's mixed with a mature Kiwi-pop vibe, be that intentional or I'm just imagining shit because I've been listening to a lot of New Zealand pop lately.  You know, the Verlaines and the Bats and the Clean and all those other amazing bands that all your favorite musicians love but don't get nearly enough recognition from the general public.  "The Unconditional" is probably my top jam here, followed closely by "AWM" and "Dance(Cry Wolf)"'s all pretty much gold though.  Scott had a ton of well known musicians show up on this, folks from the National, Shudder to Think, Broken Social Scene, Kelley Stoltz, and plenty more.

Spiral Stairs was great live too, when I saw him recently.  If he happens to play in your town I would get my butt to the venue because god knows when the next time will be that he decides to record and tour again...might be next year, might be in 2030.  

Also: it's never been clear to me if Spiral Stairs in this case is intended as a nickname for Scott, since he went by it in the early years of Pavement, or if it's the name of the band.  I'm treating it as his name, but given my track record I'm probably wrong.