Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Good Natured - More Skeletons

Are my album covers getting worse?

If you listened to punk/alternative through the 90's, you probably know the evils of major labels. They were like a plague, infiltrating one scene or genre, flooding the music market with soundalike bands, then moving on when the next big thing came along. Not that the lazy, mindless and fickle public doesn't bare some responsibility for subduing to any trend that comes along though.

A lot of bands I liked fell victim to punk's major label "heyday." Some bands received no promotion because of label firings/"restructuring" (Sweet Baby), some bands went into debt, some broke up (Jawbreaker), some had their albums shelved (Sense Field), some changed styles (Shades Apart, Weston) and some were allowed to continue making horrible music (The Offspring).

Should I come to my point? The biggest musical heartbreak must be losing rights to your album and not getting to release it. That's the case with The Good Natured. I'd been looking forward to their debut album Prism to come out sometime this year, but a Facebook message a little while ago stated that they had been dropped by their label, which was also retaining rights to their album, and not releasing it. The band might have also lost the rights to their own name (!), but I'm not positive about that. Could this have something to do with the fact that Katy Perry was releasing an album entitled Prism this year too? I wouldn't put it past those fatcats.

If you're not familiar with the band, imagine the Cars with a fantastic female singer, with a cool English accent to boot! Although I love electro/indie pop in theory, a lot of bands just don't really do it for me. Bloc Party for example, not a big fan. But I'm a sucker for keyboards and a catchy harmony, which the Good Natured have plenty of. And a Waitresses cover from a singer in her early 20's? She obviously has good taste for a youngin'.

Unfortunately they've only left us with a smattering of EPs so far, most of which I've compiled here. They have at least 2 earlier EPs, but I don't think they really hit their stride until Skeleton. Plus I couldn't find them in matching MP3 bitrates, and I'm anal like that.

However, their last Facebook message mentions that they are "coming back stronger than ever next year in a new shape and form." Looking forward to that. In the meantime, prepare to dance around the room singing into a hairbrush.

Skeleton ep (2011)
   01) Your Body Is A Machine
   02) Skeleton
   03) Wolves
   04) Be My Animal
   05) Prisoner
   06) The Hourglass
   07) Skeleton (Nfiftyfive Remix)
Christmas Wrapping Ep (2012)
   08) Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses)
Adrian Lux Album (2012)
   09) Alive (Adrian Lux Feat. The Good Natured) (Original Mix)
Video Voyeur Ep (2012)
   10) Video Voyeur
5-Ht Ep (2013)
   11) 5-Ht
   12) She Drives Me Crazy (Fine Young Cannibals)

Update 6/4/2014: Unfortunately I had to take down the download link. Thanks for asking me first! Luckily the band has reformed as Lovestarrs. Hopefully the unreleased Good Natured album sees the light of day eventually. I guess that would be antithetical to current record industry practices though.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Pizza Underground

Macauley Culkin's...Pizza Themed...Velvet Underground...Cover Band

Update 1/6/2014: Their bandcamp page seems to be gone, maybe for the moment. In the meantime:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Future Of The Left - Man Vs. Melody (Self Released, 2012)

I'll add this one right quick. Here's one of those examples of a release being brickwalled, but only mastered to about 50% peak volume, so I just raised it to full dynamic range.

Mclusky were one of my favorite bands when they were around. Luckily I got to see them twice in San Francisco and they were awesome both times. Mclusky Do Dallas was arguably their best release, with a mix of classic indie rock, noise rock, humor and anger.

When they broke up, the singer formed Future Of The Left and the bassist formed Shooting At Unarmed Men. At first, neither struck me as being as good as their former band. I lost track of Shooting At Unarmed Men and Future Of The Left's prolific output proved more daunting than exciting. But lately I've been revisiting all of the Future Of The Left releases and enjoying them a lot. I think Mclusky had the sound a little more finely honed, but Future Of The Left seems freer to explore a little more, producing some great results.

This EP is as good an introduction to the band as any, with abrasive dirges, jangly rock and Andy Falkous' caustic lyrics and delivery. And of course, some of the best song titles ever.

01) The Real Meaning Of Christmas
02) Future Child Embarrassment Matrix
03) Johnny Borrell Afterlife
04) He Is Not A Hymn
05) Hometapingiskillingsusan

Thursday, November 28, 2013


If you've downloaded some of my stuff, you may have noticed that some of the albums have a comment "Remastered By Neal." I've started to "remaster" some of my old stuff that's either really quiet, to match the volume of albums by the same band, or if I'm making a compilation of B-Sides. 

A lot of audiophiles will tell you that the record industry practice of remastering albums is bullshit. I tend to agree. It's just getting you to buy the same album that you already have. If it has been remixed, has bonus tracks added or new liner notes, I understand getting the new version. But remastering is basically just making the album louder, and done so rampantly now to keep up with the loudness wars.

To show you an example, here is the original CD version of Slayer's "War Ensemble" from Seasons In The Abyss:

That's what most older punk or metal songs look like digitally. There are spikes for loud drums, guitar solos or yells and dips for the quieter parts. The sound waves can't go above or below 1 db or else there's clipping of the sound and there can be audio distortion. I think the Dinosaur Jr. remasters are guilty of that.

Here's the remastered version of War Ensemble:

To achieve that new loudness, peaks are clipped and compressed and then the rest of the sound is raised up to 1 db or close to it. This isn't even that bad for a lot of metal remasters. Most of the Century Media remasters (Exodus, Forbidden, Nuclear Assault) are totally brickwalled, meaning there are few spikes or dips, everything is just loud across the board. There's no magic to this process, no talent (I can attest to that) and no real improvement, besides VOLUME!

Now audiophiles will talk about the loss of dynamics and the subtleties of the music. There's where I don't really care. I listen to a lot of old punk and metal. It wasn't recorded very well and probably sounds like shit to a lot of soundologists (that's a word, right?). But I like music for the songs and how it was represented when it was made. It's like with movies for me: I don't care that much about special effects or mind watching avi movie files on a computer screen. I just care how Scott Baio gets back at those jerks with his telekinetic powers and that Scatman Crothers has a weed induced dream about a salami bazooka.

Basically, I have a lot of free time, I enjoy the process and a lot of old stuff is a lot quieter than the first Slayer example above. Plus I listen to music on headphones a lot more now and get annoyed at all the volume differences between stuff. I've gotten it pretty streamlined now. Some old albums only peak at .75 db, so raising them up to 1 is a distinct change that adds volume without removing any of the music. Sometimes it takes a little more work to match the volume of a band's discography across different record labels and eras.

So, if you ever see one of my download links with an (R) after it (like Slammin' Watusis or Lovejunk), that means I've gently remastered it. Don't worry, nothing like the 2nd Slayer example above. I think Dischord has done a good job with their remasters and I've tried not to be much more aggressive that that. In a few cases I've tried to equalize the albums a little if they don't sound that great to me. The original SNFU - Better Than A Stick In The Eye CD was incredibly quiet and muddy, so I remastered and boosted the treble a little in that case and think it sounds way better.

A lot of the stuff I've remastered for myself is in print however, so I'm hesitant to post it. But if people are interested, I'll find a way to share it so you can compare it with the originals.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lies. Aren't. Exercises!

Pretty good article here about punk "dis" songs:

Some omissions I could think of offhand:
Swiz - Wash (take that Dag Nasty!)
The Vandals - Aging Orange (guess who this is about.)
Tons of Screeching Weasel songs, although they're much more deserving.
And I was never sure if Ten Foot Pole's "My Wall" was a response to Pennywise's "Homesick." Maybe I just listened to too much Epitaph back then.

More downloads coming up soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Slammin' Watusis - ST (Epic, 1988)

This band is something of an enigma. I've never really heard anyone else talk about them. And despite living close to their hometown of Chicago, I don't remember them playing Milwaukee. But I was a little clueless about a lot of shows back then.

I discovered the Slammin' Watusis through Thrasher magazine. I think they offered one of their albums free with a subscription. But there was also some other strange Thrasher contest that either involved a Slammin' Watusis deck, a live appearance or meeting the band. I'm a little fuzzy on the details.

Besides their song "Skt, Skt, Skt," I'm not really sure how they fit in with "skate rock," but the term/genre had expanded considerably in the late 80's to include bands like Odd Man Out and the Tar Babies. Basically, if it was played in a skate video, it was skate rock. I'm not sure if the Watusis had a hardcore background like the aforementioned bands though. They had a punk element, and sentiment, as displayed on the opening track "Won't Sell Out." But they had a very blues rock influenced sound, complete with harmonica and saxophone accompaniment. Imagine a mix of Strawberries era Damned and maybe a little Faster Pussycat. Although you'd never hear a Sunset Strip band espousing safe sex (perhaps a little awkwardly) on a song like "Some Sex":

You can reduce your risk of AIDS
If you limit the number of sexual partners
Some sex is possibly safe
Some sex is safe

Not exactly groupie fodder.

But they were an interesting band and it's been fun revisiting their albums. There's a really great song on their 2nd album called "Everytown" that I'm glad to have back in the rotation.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Check Out: Control

Here's a cool new band from the UK that I just heard about. I was initially interested because I read a description of Sugar/Husker Du/Dag Nasty type guitars. There's that, but I also hear some 90's radio alternative in there. I'm reminded of the Goo Goo Dolls, the Gin Blossoms, that Sponge song, "Plowed" and the 3 Doors Down song, "Kryptonite" when listening to this ep. I apologize to the band if those are horrible comparisons and I hope that doesn't scare anyone off from giving this band a listen.

For a first ep, this is incredibly slick, professional and catchy. Apparently they have a demo as well that I'd love to hear. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

All - Scott Reynolds B-Sides

Except for a handful of songs, I can't say (har) that I listen to much All anymore. Those handful are great, but they're scattered throughout their albums alongside a lot of mediocre or weird proggy stuff. And although All laid the groundwork for a lot of pop punk that came soon after, I think the new crop of bands focused on songwriting more than musicianship, producing catchier albums than their mentor. Some heavily influenced bands like Gameface, Alligator Gun or Big Drill Car released much more solid albums than anything All ever did, in my opinion.

Not to dismiss All. I still own almost all of their albums and b-sides. They were definitely an important band to a lot of people like me who grew up on the Descendents and/or early pop punk. Ex Descendents AND Dag Nasty? Sign me up!

But the All era that I always enjoyed most was when Scott Reynolds sang. Although I loved Smalley in Dag Nasty, at the time I didn't think he suited the more sugary pop songs. And Chad is a fine singer, but after Breaking Things, I lost interest. Allroy's Revenge and Percolator remain my favorite All albums and seem the most representative of the band. There are the classic songs like "She's My Ex," "Scary Sad" and "Dot," the more melancholy stuff like "Mary" and "Breathe" and of course the weird instrumentals.

Scott's voice and style seemed to match All's brand of quirkiness the best. He could scat, hit the high notes or just speak the words and it sounded cool. And he made covers like "Boy Named Sue" sound like his own. He went onto Goodbye Harry after All and then the Pavers, which is where he perfected his style, I think. The Pavers discography contains such a wide mix of styles, but everything is so catchy and interesting.

So here I've collected all the Scott b-sides that don't appear on their albums. The TonyALL album was Descendents alumnus/friend Tony Lombardo adding his songs and bass playing to the Scott lineup of All. I've only included the songs that Scott sang on (and that's really all you need). Their "Christine 16" cover is from the Kiss covers album, made rare by the appearance of a young Nirvana. And "Can't Say" is my favorite All song. I've remastered the songs a bit to get them at a similar volume.


She's My Ex ep (1989)
   01) Crazy?
VA - Hard To Believe - A Kiss Covers Compilation (1990)
   02) Christine 16 (Kiss)
TonyALL - New Girl, Old Story (1991)
   03) Telltale Signs
   04) This Is Not A Dream
   05) Casual Girl
   06) New Girl, Old Story
   07) At The Party
Dot ep (1992)
   08) Boy Named Sue (Johnny Cash)
   09) Can't Say

All - Scott (R) (vbr 0)

Monday, August 12, 2013

On Vacation

Sorry for my absence, folks. I've been on vacation back in Wisconsin for the month. More tunes shortly.

Until then, enjoy my favorite Tongan Mormon family 80's band from Minnesota:

The Jets - Crush On You

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Stampeders - Wild Eyes

One time I was in a small town in Canada for work, listening to the classic rock station in the car, and this song came on. I couldn't believe that I'd never heard it before, but i think a Canadian friend also told me that Canadian radio stations were required to play a certain amount of Canadian artists in their programming. Probably explains why I also heard Saga's "Tonight We're On The Loose" a comical amount of times while being there as well. Not that I'm complaining, that's a jam too. Just funny to hear it piped over the speakers at some kind of production plant multiple times in a day, when it's criminally never played on US classic rock stations.

But anyway, The Stampeders. I guess they were a little overlooked in most of the world, even to the neighboring United States. Although they did have a big hit that some might remember, "Sweet City Woman." That song is nothing like this one though. "Wild Eyes" is a boogie rock stomper with some cool violin (?) accompaniment that sounds like a carryover from the disco days.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Reverse - Seven Inches

I first heard these guys from their split with the excellent Exit Condition. I was on a manic hunt for all the Exit Condition stuff at one point (and of course Boss Tuneage went and re-released everything) and wasn't really expecting "some other band on their split" to be that good, but they were. While Exit Condition were a little more on the melodic hardcore side, Reverse were poppier, sounding similar to bands like Mega City 4, China Drum, Hooton 3 Car and Senseless Things. And like those bands, they had a slightly bigger, slicker sound that was almost less like punk and more like straight up catchy rock.

I eventually tracked down all their 7"s, but I was stoked to find out that they were releasing a compilation of all their 7"s and demos. That release, called Glance Sideways - The Complete Reverse, is well worth your money, with 23 tracks that should have seen a wide release when they were recorded. As a fan of English melodic punk, that release was an unearthed treasure and I can still listen to the whole CD without getting bored or skipping tracks.

In 2011, SP Records out of Japan also released another CD from Reverse called Chasing Ghosts. I believe it was supposed to be released as an album in the 90's, but never saw the light of day. At 17 songs, it's also quite worth it. You can pick them both up via Interpunk in the U.S., or listen to tracks here on bandcamp.

So what I've put together here is their actual released output, only 4 7"s and a compilation track, taken from the Glance Sideways CD. The song "Clawfoot" is from the Snuffy Smiles compilation The Best Punk Rock In England, Son, which also featured bands like China Drum, Exit Condition, Pope (featuring Frankie Stubbs), Rugrat (ex Leatherface members), Guns N Wankers (ex Snuff) and Your Mum (ex Snuff). Quite a righteous compilation. Oddly, the Reverse song isn't available on either of the CDs I mentioned, so this (or the out of print compilation CD) is the only place you can get it. I've also included one other song from the Glance Sideways CD, "Jaded," because it's sooo good. My favorite song by them and one of their few (their only?) songs to feature some awesome Hammond keyboard a la Visions Of Change or Snuff.

Sample these songs and pick up the CDs if you don't have them.

Exit Condition split 7" (Vitamin Z, 1993)
   01) Not That Bad
   02) Bird Of Prey
VA - The Best Punk Rock In England, Son (Snuffy Smiles, 1994)
   03) Clawfoot
Stem The Slide 7" (Damaged Goods, 1995)
   04) Stem The Slide
   05) Filter
Lock 7"  (Damaged Goods, 1995)
   06) Lock
   07) Wrong For Me
Stagnant 7" (Damaged Goods, 1996)
   08) Stagnant
   09) Fuelled
Glance Sidways - The Complete Reverse (Damaged Goods / SP, 2009)
   10) Jaded

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bang Your Head Against The Stage

Cool article/interview on Noisey about the beginnings of Bay Area Thrash with some unearthed photos from a dude who was there partying with and taking pictures of bands like Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Slayer, etc. The photos have been compiled into a book called Murder In The Front Row.

I would have loved to have lived there during the grittier years of thrash, hardcore and 48 Hours. Even the funk metal years would have been awesome! But I still miss it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Check Out: Nervosas

It's hard to keep track of the hundreds of blog messages I receive each week. (Wait, I mean day. Yeah, day.) But when someone turns me on to their own awesome band, it stands out amidst the thousands of other messages I receive in a day.

I'm surprised I'd never heard Nervosas before. They seem to be part of the newer crop of Wipers influenced dark punk, and one of the better ones at that. Think bands like the Observers/Red Dons, the Estranged, Arctic Flowers or Night Birds mixed with old So Cal punk like the Adolescents and with a touch of old skate rock. And maybe due to their Ohio origins, I hear a little old Devo in their sound as well. The male singer (the female guitarist provides some vocals and backup) reminds me of a mix between Ian Curtis and Mark Mothersbaugh at times. Oddly enough, I'm listening to them as I write this and just after I typed that last sentence, there was a lyric that mentioned a "controllable urge" in the song "Poison Ivy." Spooky.

So far they have 3 releases available on their bandcamp page, and they just released a new 3xLP with even faster and more manic versions of some of their old songs apparently.

A nice discovery from the millions of messages I get each day hour.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Holy crap! New (old) Bl'ast!

I've never been a fan of the "Black Flag" sounding Black Flag. I like their early stuff, but the short shorts Rollins/noodly Ginn stuff never really did it for me. Loose Nut was actually the first thing I got from them, and I tried to like it before thinking it was totally boring and giving up on them for years.

Bl'ast! was another story. They did Black Flag better than Black Flag. Maybe it helped that they had a song on 120 Minutes talking about shredding (surfing/skating, same thing). But they were way more aggressive. And you can see that by the longevity of singer Clifford. He's since been in Spaceboy, Gargantula and currently Dusted Angel, showing the same ferocity live. Even after years of singing about weed, he's anything but laid back in a live setting.

While we're on the subject, Mankind Records was supposed to release the M.A.D. demo (pre Bl'ast!) a while ago, but they're notoriously slow. Here's hoping that still sees the light of day at some point.

More info on this upcoming Bl'ast! release here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bathtub Michael McDonald


Edit: Haha. I didn't realize this was Will Sasso from MadTV (which might have sucked, but this is probably the best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation/skit ever). And if you're interested in the extended Bathtub Michael McDonald version, go here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bi-Marks - Sleepless (Black Water, 2012)

I thought I'd add something a little current. I caught these guys the other night and they killed it. 2 guitar assault with plenty of solos, great bass playing and a very energetic singer. They had quite the musical chops for a hardcore band, so the comparisons to RKL I've read are fitting. Maybe a little like fellow Portlanders Poison Idea as well. I've only become familiar with these guys recently, but they've quickly become one of my favorite current hardcore bands.

You can grab their old album here and their new 12" here from bandcamp.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Check Out: TV Eye

Do you like The Dickies, The Vindictives, The Zero Boys and Supernova? Well you should, moron.

And since you do, these guys are right up your alley. This Swedish band plays short. snotty punk blasts (most songs around the 1 minute mark) with some of the goofiest lyrics I've ever read. Some examples:

Working on a plantation
picking bananas
Working for Fyffe
packing the banana

Fyffe times better
Fyffe times better
It's a yellow curved fruit they call...BANANA!

Last week I divorced my wife
Now she's no mrs but a miss
all the cooking and cleaning
is now my business

I've bought a table and a fucking chair
and a cuckoo-clock...the price was fair
I have to buy a new home 'cause I was thrown out

Yep, those are all the words. You might not be scribbling their lyrics in your trapper keeper anytime soon, but the songs are catchy and fun, and there's a lot of them. One of their albums is available for "name your price" and another 10 song 7" is just $3. Definitely worth it for a smile and some toe taps.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Seaweed - Beasides

I got into Seaweed a little late. I didn't really check them out until Spanaway came out, by which time I'm sure I missed them playing Madison and Milwaukee plenty of times. I saw them briefly in Chicago in 1994 on a sort of strange bill with Green Day, Bad Religion and All, but missed most of their set. A fitting sounding lineup now, and on the heels of all of their major label debuts, but at the time I wasn't sure how many crossover fans there were for all those bands.

I'm still not quite sure how Seaweed fared in the punk game back then. They were on Sub Pop who were known for, well, you know. Might have been a reason I steered clear of them for a while. (The band Male Bonding might suffer a similar fate being on the same label, which I now associate with boring "indie" rock, even though they sound more like 90's melodic punk.)

It's hard to pick a favorite Seaweed album. Weak, Four and Spanaway probably get equal listens, but I still pop on Despised and Actions & Indications sometimes. I can't say I listen to their earliest CD that much. But it's nice to hear their growth over the course of these b-sides.

After their initial breakup, the singer had a mellower band called Gardener who released an album on Sub Pop. He also had a band with the guitarist from Verbal Assault and a guy from Sunny Day Real Estate called Not From Space. They only released a split EP and they sound amazing on paper, but they still don't come close to Seaweed.

There aren't really bands like this anymore. It's easy to copy the poppy punk formula, but not many bands can do a good job with decent, hard-edged, melodic punk, much less be so unique and prolific. They have a new-ish 7" from 2011 on No Idea Records too that fits in nicely with their discography. Not sure what their status is now, but I did finally see a full set of theirs at The Fest in Gainesville a few years ago.

VA - The Estrus Lunch Bucket CD (Estrus, 1990)
   01) Bewitched (Beat Happening)
VA - Fortune Cookie Prize (Simple Machines, 1992)
   02) Foggy Eyes (Beat Happening)
Measure CDep (Sub Pop, 1992)
   03) Measure
   04) Turnout (Alternate Version)
   05) Taxing (Demo)
   06) Baggage (Demo)
Bill CDep (Sub Pop, 1992)
   07) Pumpkin (Wwax)
   08) Squint: The Killerest Expression
Go Your Own Way CDep (Sub Pop, 1992)
   09) Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
   10) Losing Skin (Remix)
   11) She Cracked (Jonathan Richman)
Kid Candy Promo CDep (Sub Pop, 1993)
   12) Kid Candy (Radio Edit)
   13) Sing Through Me (The Dehumanizers)
   14) Shephard's Pie
VA - Jabberjaw - Good To The Last Drop (Mammoth, 1994)
   15) My Letters (The Fastbacks)
VA - Oh, Merge (Merge, 1999)
   16) Brand New Order
VA - Patchwork (Mere Exposure, 2002)
   17) Days Missed Dearly

Seaweed - Beasides (vbr 0)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why I love the internet.

Bordering on my only music related stuff policy. But who cares? It's fucking Ketchupbot!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Still Believe! (Braaaaapppp)

Tim Capello - I Still Believe (The Lost Boys)

This movie is on like every other day here for some reason. Not that I'm complaining. This is still the best part though.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Marshall Artist - Your Kung Fu Is Pretty Good (Coldfront, 2001)

The last time I went to visit my parents in the States (yeah, I call the U.S. "the States" now), I had a few record orders waiting for me. My favorites of the bunch were Lovejunk and this CD by Marshall Artist. This album would actually make my best of 2012 list, except that it came out in 2001.

I was familiar with Coldfront Records (Limp, Moral Crux, Wynona Ryders) and remember reading at least 1 glowing review of this album somewhere when it came out. But I don't think I have ever seen another physical copy of this before. Somehow I never came across the CD on my weekly trips to Amoeba Records in S.F. either. And I still don't know anyone who has even heard of them.

For some reason, that glowing review (which I can't actually remember in detail) has always stuck with me, so in old school fashion, I ordered this CD late last year having never heard the band (Barnes & Nobles, sealed, $1!). When I found it waiting for me at home, I was a little dubious at first. The artwork and layout wasn't much to look at. But it came with a Coldfront catalog with descriptions of their releases. It mentioned that Marshall Artist had members and guest musicians from the Fastbacks and the Posies. It also mentioned that this was one of the (I think) label owner's desert island albums.

Now I like the Fastbacks enough. Never heard the Posies. And desert island, I wouldn't go that far (as to actually come up with desert island albums). But when I finally put this CD on, I couldn't stop listening to it. Basically, this is a pop punk band, but totally unique and just a little bit quirky. The first thing you'll probably notice are the guitars. These guys are shredders. The punk chugs sometimes give way to more galloping metal rhythms, with little solos and fretboard gymnastics every now and then. Two singers share duties with Kim from the Fastbacks providing some backups and lead vocals on a song or 2. The guy who sings more of the songs has a slightly whiny voice, but not in an annoying way. It's an interesting complement to the metallic guitar parts. Not metallic in an old Fat Wreck/skate punk way. Imagine a mix of the Fastbacks and Sicko and you're somewhat close.

I highly recommend checking out this album. I don't think they got their due when they were around and it's a shame that they didn't release anything else.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Check Out: Ningoonies

Spain, or Barcelona at least, hasn't proven to have much of a pop punk scene. From another pop punk fan I've talked to, I guess most foreign bands skip over Barcelona and the few shows that do take place aren't promoted well. San Francisco was getting the same way though, so maybe pop punk is better suited for smaller towns. City slickers just like house and jungle and dubstep and bleep blorp music now.

That said, Madrid seems to have produced a catchy band with a great name called Ningoonies. I've just heard about them today, but they've apparently been around for years, playing (mostly) female fronted poppy punk.

If you're a fan of the Fastbacks, the Muffs, Screeching Weasel, the Lillingtons or the Manges, this is right up your alley.

Monday, March 11, 2013

These guys make the Beatles sound like a pile of puke!

This video is from an old Spanish movie. From other clips, it doesn't look that funny, but this song is amazing. It's probably a little sad that their English is still better than my Spanish.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brand New Unit - Some Old Units

Okay, another one that JGoon will probably enjoy, hopefully others as well. I forget where I heard about Brand New Unit, but I believe I heard them described as "melodic hardcore" and that was enough. It may have actually been from the review shown on this page. Excursion put out their first CD, which I ordered soon after its release. Another Can I Say? Sign me up!

Dag Nasty comparisons aside, Brand New Unit was definitely a unique sounding band. A little too poppy for their Canadian and Northwest peers (Sparkmarker, Strain, Undertow), but heavier than the pop punk bands that permeated that time period. The singer had a good voice, whether singing or yelling. And the guitarist, Jinx, had a cool, slightly metallic style that was a little reminiscent of Brian Baker.

BYO Records was a good fit for their 3rd CD (which was really just a compilation of some European EPs) with its roster of classic melodic punk and some newer bands like Jughead's Revenge and Bouncing Souls. The band never really got their due though. Maybe because they didn't tour the U.S. much, maybe because they couldn't really be lumped in with either pop punk or hardcore, or maybe because their releases weren't the easiest to find at the time. Not everyone was addicted to mailorder like me.

They only released one proper album called Diddley Squat. It seems to be out of print, which is a shame since it's probably the best of their 3 full length CDs. But maybe I'll post it soon. The drummer went on to join Gob on their best album (in my opinion) How Far Shallow Takes You.

I was lucky to see them play with Link 80 one time in Milwaukee with JGoon. I'm not sure if many people were there for them though. I don't really remember seeing/hearing Link 80, but I know that 1) they were like a ska/hardcore band, 2) the singer was romance writer Danielle Steel's son, and 3) the same singer killed himself not too long after.

Anyways, I've put together the remaining tracks that weren't on their other 3 CDs. I think these are some of their best songs, especially "Left Behind." The live stuff isn't too exciting, but it does feature a previously unreleased Minor Threat cover. So it's got that going for it, which is nice.

Empty Useless Air CDep (Burning Heart, 1999)
   01) Out The Door
   02) Empty Useless Air
   03) No Cure At All
   04) Get Your Trash On
   05) What Do You Care For?
Kill Sadie Split 7" (Modern Radio, 1999)
   06) Left Behind
Quickdraw Richy Rich 7" (Heartfirst, 1995)
   07) Twist My Arm
   08) Land Of The Free
VA - VMLive Series 2, Volume 1 CD (VML, 1999)
   09) Live To See Another Day
   10) All For Nothing
   11) It Follows (Minor Threat)
   12) Crack
   13) Deep Freeze

Friday, March 1, 2013

About Downloads

So mediafire is a dick. What else is new? I've only had a couple of my files denied so far, which isn't too bad, but still really annoying when it's music that's unavailable otherwise. Oh, sorry 1 Missing Persons song is available on a Best Of The 80's CD! I'm not sure how mediafire is in cahoots with Amazon now or how well Amazon even pays the artists for MP3 downloads. I do occasionally buy MP3s from Amazon, but I prefer bandcamp.

Anywho, I'm going to start putting a password on some of the downloads. It's over there in the top left in the About section. If that doesn't work, I'll have to look at other options. I know a lot of other blogs have had to do the same with a much larger backlog. And please let me know if any of the links aren't working.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lovejunk - Amstradivarius (Blind Drunk, 2003)

The next few download posts of mine are dedicated to my buddy JGoon, probably because he's the only one one who might be interested in them. Hopefully not. Lovejunk is very intertwined in our pop punk history, though I'm not sure he's ever heard them before.

(I didn't think I'd make this so long. A couple of good beers will do that I guess.)

So a long time ago I heard of this band called Snuff, who were the introduction to my love of English melodic punk. I believe the label that originally put out Snuff Said in the U.S. (along with the Fuel album and a Mr. T Experience album) went out of business in the early 90's, but you could find cheap cutout versions of those albums on cassette if you did some digging. I think I ordered Snuff Said on cassette from Round Flat Records for like $4 brand new. I loved it right away and played it for JGoon, who also loved it. Now by this time, I had amassed a hefty collection of punk tapes from high school. At this point, however, I would only buy CDs or vinyl, but Snuff was a hard band to find in any format in the U.S. so I took what I could get.

Not long after I introduced my buddy to one of his favorite albums to this day (right?), we were at Rush-Mor on one of our record shopping excursions together. Did I even drive us there? I forget. Anyway, starting at different areas of the CD section, we comb through the selection. Suddenly JGoon makes his way over to me with a CD in his hand. I look at it and then at him. Snuff Said! Awesome! I wasn't even sure if this existed! Thanks! Oh, you're keeping it. Yeah, sure. Finders keepers. It's only fair.

Luckily Fat reissued it some years later.

But I have secretly harbored a deep resentment towards JGoon thoughout these years and I will NEVER FORGIVE HIS CALLOUS ACT OF TREACHERY, BETRAYAL AND GREED AS LONG AS I LIVE!!!!!!!!

After Snuff, I checked out all the English pop punk that I could get my hands and ears on. Some was easier to find than others. China Drum were on an incognito major label and I cleaned up on ebay finding a lot of copies of Leatherface Mush in dollar bins. But I eventually had to do some mailorder from the UK to get my fix. One of the distros that I bought from was Crackle, who also ran a label. I had heard One Car Pile Up from some old mp3 site. JGoon picked up a Chopper 7" that sounded a lot like old Snuff. And I heard of another band that featured an ex member of The Stupids who were releasing an album on Crackle. So I ordered Lovejunk and a few other things.

I loved Lovejunk right away.

A few years later I saw that Lovejunk were releasing a CDep and another album. I downloaded the only 2 or 3 songs that were available from each, one of which was featured on both releases called "Ethan & Emma." That song has been one of my favorites ever since. It's one of those songs, like Big Drill Car's "A Take Away" or the Hard-Ons' "What Am I Supposed To Do?" or Snuff's "Not Listening." A perfectly crafted punk pop song that gets stuck in your head and would fit perfectly on a 90's punk mix tape for someone special.

For some reason, I never ended up buying that Lovejunk CDep and album. I always figured I'd get around to it back then, but I think I ran out of other stuff to buy and didn't want to pay $30 or so for 2 CDs from England. About a year after the time of those releases, JGoon and I were writing reviews and I noticed that he had gotten to review the new Lovejunk album and liked it. I asked him to give me a copy of it, but it turned out that the review was done by someone else with his same initials. I even contacted someone in the band semi recently who couldn't locate an extra copy.

But I finally tracked this CD down. And I'll finally get to it. I'm sure JGoon will like it, because they've always reminded me of another favorite of ours: Sinkhole. I want to say they're like the English version, but they do sound really similar, both musically and vocally. For those not familiar with Sinkhole, imagine a pop punk version of the Replacements at their best. Or maybe old Soul Asylum. As much as I still like current pop punk, I miss the bands who weren't quite as typical of the genre, like Big Drill Car, Pegboy, the Doughboys, etc. Lovejunk definitely fall into that camp. Strong punk rock that just happens to be really melodic and catchy. But not afraid to slow things down at times or take a step outside the mold.

Amstradivarius was a little late in the game and severely under-promoted, so I'm sure it didn't get the attention of Dr. Strange or Lookout fans who probably would have liked it. I can hear some of Lovejunk's sound in a newer band like Rumspringer as well, with that heartfelt punk simplicity done really well. This album was one of the reasons I couldn't concentrate on my best of 2012 post. I was too distracted revisiting 2003. Not that I'm not complaining. I'm sure no one else was either. ;(

Oh, and I've heard mention that Boss Tuneage is going to be releasing something from Lovejunk this year. Hopefully something new, but I'm sure it will be a full discography, just after I finally finished tracking most of their stuff down. Maybe now I'm complaining. ;)

Lovejunk - Own World

Edit 3/15/2013 - Aaannd of course Boss Tuneage is releasing a discography from the band soon. They could have let me know that when I ordered the CDs recently! Nah, they do good work.

Lovejunk - Amstradivarius (R) (vbr 0)

Monday, February 11, 2013

How Could I Forget My Favorite Album Of 2012?

You might think it's pretty juvenile after 1 or 2 songs. Or if you're like me, you'll think this is genius.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Best Of 2012

I'll always remember the eloquent wall scribbling in an old Benny Hill skit:

Time flies like the wind.
Fruit flies like bananas.

Another year gone. More than a month into 2013 already, and another late entry for my 2nd Best Of list. (Happy Anniversary to me!) I do like coming up with these lists, but it gets exceptionally harder with the huge influx of music nowadays. And is a year or less really enough time to truly absorb an album? What about the 2012 albums I'm just learning about now, or will so in 10 years? Was 2012 really that great when the 2 albums I'm listening to the most these days are from 2003 and 1998?

But really, it was another good year for music. There were a few disappointments (NOFX, Jaill, the Darkness) which really weren't that disappointing, some last minute favorites and a plethora of really good EPs.

* Albums *

Tenement, Direct Hit! and now Arms Aloft: the trifecta of great Wisconsin pop punk. These Eau Claire natives might be closer in distance and kinship with Dillinger 4 and Banner Pilot though, with rough, melodic punk and whiskey soaked vocals. Lyrics like those in "Skinny Love" make me heart and homesick: "Here's to waking up shaking, balled up on the floor, of an iced-over, winter Lake Superior. Raise a flag at half-mast and a half empty glass in a toast to remembering what it's like to not have to know she's sleeping somewhere else tonight." They're not reinventing the wheel, but they're whipping some shitties in a snow covered parking lot somewhere.

Somehow after years spent on electronica and pro wresting script writing (???), Bob has returned with basically the 3rd Sugar album. Not as depressing and ambient as some of his other solo work, this album is a return to Sugar's big guitars and bigger hooks. So many bands owe their existence to Mould's legacy and he's still showing them how it's done.

If the first track "Autobahn" doesn't reel you in, then I don't know what to tell you. This album is an infectious blend of punk, 70's psyche and dirty New York rock and roll. Listening to them just conjures up the image of a dirty bar full of smoke, beer, hair and leather. Yeah, maybe a horrible image to fellow almost 40 year olds, but after a couple beers you don't mind the coked up dude with his arm around you spilling half his beer on the crowd. If you miss (and remember) Tight Bros From Way Back When, this might satiate you.

I can't say I've followed Jesse Michael's bands since Operation Ivy. But when I heard the Classics Of Love, something connected immediately. I think I miss when hardcore bands actually had singers who occasionally sang. Jesse's delivery is a combination of urgency and an almost playful singing style, throwing in cool inflections every now and then. It doesn't hurt that the music is awesome as well, reminding me a little of Minor Threat mixed with classic Gilman punk.

There were a lot of strikes going into this album. 1) Their last album was kind of forgettable pop punk (even coming from a lover of plenty of pop punk). 2) My gf interviewed the singer once and apparently he was a bit of an asshole. 3) The album starts out with a really slow song and then an 8 minute song. But, once you get past your A.D.D., this is a great album. Maybe my favorite of the year. They mix the best aspects of the 90's, from indie to garage rock to noise. But it's all just so catchy and that's all that matters to me.

Not the most prolific band in the world, but I'll forgive these veterans of melodic heartache. Blair Shehan's voice seems to have gotten a little lower (more weary?) to my ears and gone are the shouts of the Knapsack days, but the man knows how to write a song. Thoughtful lyrics and plenty of the quiet/loud dynamics of emo's yesteryear. They don't make them like this anymore.

It seems like everyone can agree on this one. The album title says it all. Spunky, anthemic tunes from this 2 man juggernaut. My favorite song would have to be "Evil's Sway," which reminds sounds like a mix of "American Girl" and "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things." The sound of music, indeed.

Nada Surf may still be remembered for their uncharacteristic "hit" back in the 90's, but they've actually been churning out pop gold throughout their career. This album is right up there with their best stuff. Classic indie rock sound with big guitars and great melodies. It's hard to find new bands that carry that 90's emo/punk/indie torch, but luckily bands like Nada Surf and the Jealous Sound are still around.

After a number of eps (collected on last year's The Joys Of Living), Sharks finally release a full length that doesn't disappoint. Plenty of big hooks and punk pop classics. Like a British counterpart to the Gaslight Anthem (substitute Rudy for Peggy Sue or Mary Jane or whatever), their sound seems to embody a romanticized version of the past. I can't say I'm a big fan of the Clash, but I'll take this updated version.

Nothing will probably top To The Confusion Of Our Enemies, my introduction to the band, but I enjoy their maturing sound. They seem to be tackling slightly more serious themes on their recent albums, perhaps the cause of punk rock mixing with growing up or maybe due to the guitarist's serious bike accident a few years ago. Regardless, it's opened up their lyrics to interesting subject matter, while retaining the anthemic quality of their music.

My favorite hardcore album of the year. Tight as a gnat's asshole. The songs are fast and catchy and the noodley guitar parts put them over the top.

This was a random bandcamp find, but these guys deserve to be heard by more people. Imagine a mix of Manifesto Jukebox, Leatherface, the Wipers, Rites Of Spring and later Articles Of Faith (the singer sounds a lot like In This Life era Vic Bondi). Got your attention? Yeah, they definitely got mine. The lyrics are in Macedonian, but they also deserve your attention. The translations are available on their bandcamp page.

* Eps *

I only got this EP a few days before the end of the year, but it became an instant favorite. I can't say this sounds like anyone in particular, but they remind me of classic melodic punk bands like Naked Raygun, old Snuff or Visions Of Change. They do possess a unique sound though. Hopefully a full length is in store soon.

Awesome English inspired melodic punk from France. For fans of Leatherface, Hooton 3 Car and Mega City 4. Apparently this demo along with a bunch of new songs will be released on Waterslide Records out of Japan sometime this year.

Another band heavily influenced by DC Revolution Summer era bands, most prominently Rites Of Spring and Gray Matter. But there's more than enough talent and character to make these guys...unique. Unfortunately they just broke up recently.

I've never listened to a record on bandcamp all the way through as many times as I have with this EP. And at 29 minutes, this is a pretty hefty EP, but they have a full length coming out in 2013 that I'm sure I'll be adding to 2013's list. Awesome melodic punk with touches of Rumspringer, Snuggle! (whose singer shares vocal duties here) and maybe Seaweed. These songs hearken back to the East Bay days where bands like Samiam and Jawbreaker were taking pop punk to a more grown up level. Really bummed that I missed them in SF last fall.

Insomnio put out one of my favorite punk albums in recent years. Of course they broke up too soon and Warsong formed in their wake. I can't say their album debut knocked my socks off, but this 5 song ep is the cat's pajamas! There's a great mix of Wipers style gloom with classic SoCal punk guitars and melodies. The Observers were probably my favorite newer band doing a similar style, and this EP is right up there with them.

It's hard to remember a time when a 2 song 7" wasn't a letdown, musically and/or financially. Their album is one of my faves of the year, but the first song on this is my favorite song of theirs. Definitely looking forward to whatever they have next.

* Reissues *

I can't imagine many younger people getting into the Minutemen these days, much less Firehose. Hopefully I'm wrong, but they seemed like a time and place type band. It did take me a few tries to like the Minutemen, but with that and skateboarding, Firehose just fell into place. I've only recently realized how much they actually sound like old REM as well (who I dislike). I still throw on their SST albums every now and then, but this compilation reminded me of great songs like "Can't Believe," "Rocket Sled/Fuel Tank" and their entire Live Totem Pole EP. A band that definitely needs to be heard by a new generation, and revisited by their old fans.

The first album by these spazzy punk legends is finally reissued. Just having songs like "Houses Made For Mannequins" and "The Family Knows" available again would be enough, but this reissue includes a ton of cool bonus stuff, like their first EP, a completely different recording of the Love Songs 7", compilation songs and some live stuff. Completely manic hardcore, but with a good sense of melody to keep these songs in your head, even 30 years later. These guys are still going to this day and I still listen to everything throughout their entire discography.

My first introduction to these guys was seeing them at The Fest a few years ago and it was the punkest show I've seen in a long time. The band was menacing and the crowd was a little scary. But as the garbage bins went flying, I could tell there was something more to the music than just aggression. They were like a modernized version of early Black Flag with more emphasis on melody. The second volume of their discography contains my favorite EP of theirs, Obsolete, along with 2 other EPs and some previously unreleased songs and covers. Hopefully a proper full length is on the horizon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Have I Never Seen This Video Before?

Paul McCartney - Coming Up

It's like the muppets come to life. And in Ron Mael form!

I'm still working on my Best Of 2012 list. Should be up shortly. Then I'll get back to posting sporadic videos, like this one.