Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Palomar - 3.5 (Self Released, 2005)

So JGoon and I used to write record reviews for Punk Planet. It was a good chance to write and get free music and then trade in said music for good stuff at Amoeba (when even shitty review CDs were actually worth something). Punk Planet wasn't quite either of our steez though. I think it was ultimately an important zine with a broad content of music, politics and DIY information. And while it provided a wider spectrum of "punk" (especially following the period when MRR was confining their definition and coverage of the music side) it just went too far outside my interests. In depth articles about publishing and emo didn't really speak to me. I moved to Spain for a year so I had to give up receiving my bi-monthly PP care packages. But they had started to edit our reviews around the same time (not for grammar or punctuation) so we had both sort of soured on the whole thing. Punk Planet folded soon after, probably because of our absence.

However, I did get to check out a bunch of bands I probably wouldn't have heard otherwise. Like Palomar. I received their third album (creatively titled III) and loved it right away. The female vocal harmonies were super catchy and pleasant and every instrument stood out. Just perfect indie pop, great for summer driving music.

And though I loved their followup album, All Things Forests, I hadn't really listened to this EP much since reviewing it, until recently. I'm usually more of a fan of full albums, and back then I don't think I was immediately ripping every CD to mp3, so some EPs got stocked away in my collection. But this is a nice addition to the Palomar collection, with a few rougher versions of All Things Forests songs and a few unreleased songs. The first song on here, "Whoa," is one of my favorites by them, and it's interesting to hear in a slightly more primitive form.

I believe this EP was only available in download form officially. My copy was a CDr with a taped on label. I'm not sure if my CD drive at the time even liked that. It was also very quiet, so I boosted the volume a little. Enjoy.

And check out their bigcartel site for a good deal on their CDs, including a T-shirt. I want to order soon because I still haven't heard their most recent album, Sense & Antisense.

Palomar - 3.5 (R) (vbr 0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

R.I.P. Dennis Flemion of The Frogs

The Frogs - These Are The Finest Queen Boys (I've Ever Seen)

Although I made a pretty mean mixtape back in the day, my friend trumped me by introducing me to The Frogs with the song "Hot Cock Annie." My friends and I became instant fans of the entire It's Only Right And Natural album, and later discovered that the band was actually from our hometown of Milwaukee. I'm not sure how I had missed out on them up until that point, or how they became endeared by some of the biggest alternative bands at the time like Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Beck, etc. Of course, these were the days before something went viral every hour, so funny songs, prank calls and videos were more of a rarity, getting passed from friend to friend via dubbed cassettes or VHS tapes. Remember The Tube Bar?

Sadly, I never got to see The Frogs live. I thought their songs might be too lo-fi and ridiculous to translate live. But from watching YouTubes and hearing anecdotes of their shows over the last 2 days, it seems like I missed out. I'm just happy to have the term "snoot snout" in my vocabulary.

A nice little obit for Dennis can be found here on the Matador Records site.

And here's a considerably revved up version of "Hot Cock Annie" if you're only familiar with the album version:

The Frogs - Hot Cock Annie (Live)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nuclear Assault - Survive (IRS, 1988)

Although I do really like Municipal Waste (segue), it's hard not to think of 2 other thrash forefathers (happy 4th, y'all!) when I listen to them. One is Tankard, the original beer obsessed thrashers from Germany. And the other, at least vocally, is Nuclear Assault.

I followed most of my favorite punk bands into crossover in the late 80's, but I wasn't into a lot of straight up metal at first. The complexity, the song lengths, the operatic vocals, they didn't really speak to me. It wasn't until Slayer and Nuclear Assault that I started to get it.

Nuclear Assault was one of the thrash bands with more obvious ties to hardcore. Their style of metal was a little more aggressive than most, Danny Lilker had been in S.O.D., their name would pop up in the thank you lists of New York hardcore bands and John Connelly's lyrics dealt with a lot of social and political issues.

I remember my friends and I buying metal albums, having never heard the band, only to be totally disappointed when the vocals kicked in. Overkill and Annihilator were 2 of those for me. John Connelly and Sean Killian (Vio-lence) seem to be 2 other vocalists that a lot of people couldn't get into, but I really like their voices. Like I mentioned earlier, Tony from Municipal Waste reminds me of Connelly, but he can't really match that menacing, high-pitched shriek.

Now, my favorite Nuclear Assault album is actually Handle With Care, but since that album is still in print (and semi-recently re-released), I'm sharing their second album Survive, which is no slouch by any means. I've also punched up the volume a bit since the original CD is super quiet.

Survive features the song "Brainwashed," which was the first video I ever saw from them on Headbanger's Ball. It's interesting to think of the lyrics to the song now. Even though the internet is quickly replacing all forms of media and providing us with seemingly unlimited information and choices, are we really that much more informed, broad-minded and better off than we were in the 80's?

Radio, an insidious form, helps shape your thoughts making you conform
Programming music easy listening, help you achieve that moronic grin
Playing you regurgitated pap, selling products that are mostly crap
Rarely hearing music you want to hear, it has an effect over all these years

Why don't you think for yourself
Live in this self made Hell

Television, the idiot tube, helps to raise our children as fools
Watch the news, see what they want you to see, our awareness is limited by network VPs
Moronic sit-coms and one-sided news, alter your feeling, give you conformist views
Why can't you get that garbage out of your head, you'd be better off to read a good book instead

Why don't you think for yourself
Live in this self made Hell

Newspapers, what do they say? Not much I think when they want school kids to pray
Getting the facts from some daily news, you hate the system but adhere to its views
Blaming the dead because they can't complain, shielding officials holding them above blame
You'd better wake up and see what's plain to see, or end up a willing part of the machine