Saturday, January 31, 2015

Blink 182 - All The Small Songs

In the wake of the devastating (!!!) news that Tom DeLongedong is out of Blink 182, I thought I'd finish this collection of b-sides that I've been meaning to compile.

I know, I know, "Dey ain't ponk!" (That's how you speak.) But hear me out. In college I used to frequent Mad City Records in Madison at least once a week to spend the money I should have used for food, and then stop in the skate shop next door. Mad City had/has a great section of used CDs that you could listen to on their 3 listening stations. So I'd get first chance at a lot of their used and promo stuff.

One day there was a cutout CD by a band called Blink on Grilled Cheese/Cargo Records. I liked a lot of stuff on Cargo/Headhunter (7 Seconds, Drive Like Jehu, Big Drill Car, Heavy Vegetable) and I was already a regular mailorder customer of Cargo from their catalog that included other labels like Nemesis, Workshed, Psyche Industry, etc. So I grabbed Blink and my preliminary pile of CD purchases and brought them to the listening station.

I popped in the Blink CD and it was pretty good. Of course those days I was listening to the usual stuff on Epitaph, Lookout and Dr. Strange, and Blink fit right in. Melodic, fast, snotty, scatalogical. Plus it was produced by O. (fluf, Olivelawn, skate photographer, friend of Neil Blender). Why wouldn't I like them?

Well that CD was Cheshire Cat. The version before they had to change their name to Blink 182. And I still have it. That's right. You know you totes jelly! Someday I'll sell it on eBay and retire!

Honestly though, I can't say I listen to it much these days. I've never bought or downloaded another Blink 182 album since Dude Ranch. I saw the videos and I'm sure I could hang with Enema Of The State, but I just kind of lost interest in them. I do throw Dude Ranch on my mp3 player from time to time. That's a pretty quintessential pop punk album. I mean, if you still like the movie American Pie, you can probably hang with it.

Over the years I acquired all the compilations that they appeared on, usually because they were in pretty good company. Almost all of these tracks feature their original drummer, Scott Raynor. Maybe I would have kept up with them if he had remained in the band. I looked up their later discography at some point and saw that they had a couple other b-sides that didn't stray too far from the early days. I think this is actually all of their b-sides, but they might have some during their weird "I Miss You" period and that I don't know or care about. Mostly I did this just so I'd have "Good Times" and "Family Reunion" together somewhere.

01) Wrecked Him
02) Waggy
03) Zulu
04) Lemmings (7" Version)
05) Enthused (Demo Version)
06) Dancing With Myself (Billy Idol)
07) I Won't Be Home For Christmas
08) Good Times Theme Song
09) Mutt (Early Version)
10) Family Reunion
11) Man Overboard
12) Another Girl, Another Planet (The Only Ones)

Blink 182 - All The Small Songs (vbr 0)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Humanoids - Unreleased (2013)

I feel like lately I've been saying "this is one of my favorite recent bands" an excessive amount of times. Maybe that's a good sign for music. Or maybe it's a sign of Alzheimer's.

Either way, The Humanoids are one of them. I think JGoon and I first heard them through MySpace. Then we got to see them at The Fest, where we picked up their awesome first EP, Are Born. We were so taken with the band that we wanted to release something of theirs on our record label (which never got off the ground). We all could have been hundredaires by now if they had signed with us!

Instead, their first album was supposed to come out on a member of Less Than Jake's label, got delayed forever, and was finally self-released by the band. I managed to find a copy for JGoon and I from a St. Louis (their hometown) record shop.

And of course now I find out that most of their stuff is easily available through Bandcamp. Including these 2 unreleased songs that were recorded during the sessions for their self-titled album. But hey, I'm not complaining.

So what do The Humanoids sound like? Well, just move your little sausage fingers to the link below! I'd say Are Born is my favorite stuff, sounding like a more hardcore version of Dillinger 4. They have touches of classic punk as well, like Naked Raygun, Adolescents, The Wipers and Dag Nasty (the latter 2 I know they've covered). This first unreleased song reminds me a little of Jawbox too. And I'm always a fan of a band with prominent, rumbling bass.

Hopefully they put their 7" Year Of The Snake up on Bandcamp too. I ripped it once, but it came out sounding a little crappy, probably due to the 80's Fischer receiver that I should have replaced ages ago. They also have a song on the Traffic Street Records' Dangerous Intersections VI, which you can find a download of on Amazon or Emusic.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Too Many Cooks

I don't keep up with Adult Swim stuff as much since being outside the states. Maybe you've seen this already, but it's pretty great.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Best Of 2014

Maybe I'll get to my 2013 list one of these days.

* Albums *

I end up going to a lot of hardcore shows here in Barcelona since there's kind of a glut of mid-sized punk bands who make it over here. Most of the bands don't impress me too much, but these guys did. They remind of 80's Italian hardcore, even though they're from Austria. Intricate and tight, these guys blaze through their first full length in 17 minutes. If that's not enough for you, they have another EP that came out in 2014 as well.

Now, Prince is still awesome, but he'll never write another Purple Rain. Chromeo might one of these days. I won't deny liking a song or 2 from modern pop acts, but I don't think any of them put out albums this solid. Maybe because Chromeo is channeling pop from the 80's, which speaks to me more. When I listen to this, I think of bands like the Jets, New Edition, Atlantic Starr or the big funk bands as they were transitioning into the 80's. Plenty of synths, handclaps and funky bass. I saw them recently, by myself, at the end of a very long night, and still couldn't pull myself from the dance floor for their entire set.

Love these guys. Actually saw them the same night as Chromeo (weird mix). You've probably heard the hype (and band) by now. Awesome mix of punk and 90's indie rock with plenty of buildups that payoff in full. They've streamlined their sound a bit on this album. Oddly for me, I actually prefer their last album for not being so direct, but I'm not complaining. A good song is a good song, and this is a whole album full of them.

Musically, this fits right alongside Screeching Weasel or most Danny Vapid bands, but the morose tone puts them in a whole other category. The Creeps have always taken their name to heart, with depressing lyrics concerned with death, dismay and darkness. You can tap your toe to it, but then you'll think, "Did they just say that?" Something to unite the high school punks and goths.

These guys sound like someone gave them a tape in their formative years with Warsaw on one side and the Wipers on the other. Their energy keeps them from being too derivative of either. Catchy post punk with swirling guitars, driving rhythms and a great singer.

This album was promised for a long time and it doesn't disappoint. Ever since seeing them in SF, I've been impressed by their unique style. Like many of my other favorites of this year, the guitarwork really makes this band. They're like an updated version of Untitled era JFA, with twisty/surfy guitars, slightly monotone vocals and an overall skate rock feel. One of the best best newer punk bands who will probably be underappreciated unfortunately.

If these guys were around in the 90's, I would have mail-ordered this from Lookout or Dr. Strange. The song "Career Progression" even has a "Lookout! 1993 breakdown." They sound like old Green Day, Sicko or Ramones-core stuff, only with funny Scottish accents. The lyrics follow similar themes of lethargy, isolation and heartache (and then drowning those sorrows) that a lot of us experience in our 20's. Now in my 40's, I'm happy to revisit those feelings through the Kimberly Steaks.

Totally catchy indie pop with a touch of punk from this English band. Apparently the album is dedicated to "growing up weird," and the male/female vocals display a mix of naivete and cleverness befitting an artsy, new kid in town. But with songs this infectious, I don't think they'll get any hinder binders from the cool clique. Just listen to "1967, I Miss You, I'm Lonely" and try not to be hooked.

Snuggle! put out one of the best pop punk albums of the last 10 or so years, so I was sure to follow their members where ever they went. The singer went onto Murmurs who didn't disappoint with 2012's Fly With The Unkindness. Bound continues their grungy punk sound with lots of meaty guitars and their dual vocal attack. They combine a lot of the classic East Bay sound, from straight forward pop punk to the crustier hardcore side. The singer's acoustic side project, Pipsqueak, even rears its head on a couple songs.

More great gloomy punk from this Bay Area band. The New Flesh reinvigorate the post punk sound and demonstrate why they're one of the best of the new breed. Dark and brooding, with throbbing basslines, tight drumming, Frank Agnew inspired guitars and anguished singing. Happy I got to see them in Barcelona a few months ago.

The Preatures have a similar Fleetwood Mac vibe as Haim, but they take it in more of a Linda Ronstadt direction. Like a mix of 70's soft rock and honky tonk, with a modern feel. There are 3 definite hits on this album that I could imagine either on classic or modern rock radio stations. One of which, "Is This How You Feel?" from their previous EP might be my most played song of the last couple years. This description so far might only appeal to my mom, but I promise, this is catchy, original (for 2014) stuff.

These newcomers tread a similar territory to Cloud Nothings, straddling punk and 90's indie rock. You don't immediately know what the next song is going to sound like, and you're not disappointed at the results. "Reservoir" is probably the hit here, sounding like bombastic radio rock that could drown out anything I've ever heard from the Foo Fighters (besides Dave Grohl's incessant babbling). Aggressive enough to rock out to, but the cool guitars and jerky rhythms will hold your attention as well.

I don't even really know what most Ryan Adams stuff sounds like. Isn't he alt-country or something? But I do know that he (and everyone else it seems) has some punk roots and he digs them up for this mini album full of mid 80's style melodic punk. Think Husker Du, Moving Targets, the Nils or Squirrel Bait. Which makes me wonder why none of the songs break the 2 minute mark. These aren't short hardcore blasts, so I would have welcomed some more verses, maybe some solos or something. Brevity aside, this is classic sounding stuff; catchy and quick with a roughness he's probably been jonesing for after all his disco albums or whatever he plays normally.

This is definitely my favorite album of the year. Most new bands playing 80's inspired metal only provide a decent rehash, but this ranks right up there with the greats, IMO. Mix NWOBHM, thrash and power metal ("Bad For Good" almost borders on hair metal too) and add the production value of any major label band and you have this tight as fuck album. Riffs, solos, melodies; they're all there. Plus the singer can hit the high notes without going into opera metal territory. There's even a song about skating, and the singer isn't just paying lip service. I went searching for similar new bands after hearing this and nothing else compared, even Skull Fist's older stuff. But they knocked it out with this one and I'm looking forward to what comes next.

When I used to dork around on my friends Cascio keyboard in my apartment, I wished I had the talent to start a band combining my love of synth and classic rock guitar either in the style of Aldo Nova or something like this. Anything with keyboards over muted power chords and I'm sold. You only need to see the cover art to figure out that Teledrome play retro 80's new wave. Imagine Devo's Freedom Of Choice mixed with some darkwave and then filtered through the (slightly) more modern sound of  Jay Reatard/Lost Sounds. It's like the soundtrack to an undiscovered 80's sci-fi movie.

We went on a roadtrip this summer and this album was the perfect soundtrack for driving at night, quietly reflecting on our day and just looking at the road and mountains and stars ahead of us. This is thoughtful music that builds slowly and then locks into a groove that you don't want to end. They remind me of Dire Straits or Tom Petty, but with the 80's soundtrack quality of Tangerine Dream. Classic rock mixed with synth pop. Whatever it is, I'm on board.

These guys and gals put out a couple really good EPs a few years ago. Then they kind of faded away. I decided to look them up a few months ago and was happy to learn that they had quietly released their first album. There's been a resurgence of this sound lately, but the Weed Hounds are a bit mellower and dreamier with their take on shoegaze and 90's alterna rock. It's good to finally have a full album of their blissed out, hazy pop tunes.

I feared with all the hype last year that White Lung would start to mellow or "experiment" over time, or that I'd tire of them. But this new album laid those fears to rest. Deep Fantasy is even more pummeling than the last. There's an almost industrial feel to a lot of the songs with their jackhammering rhythms. And of course, there are still plenty of incredible guitar parts. "Face Down" is a face melter! I'm bummed I missed them the last time they came through, but their increased hype has unfortunately increased their ticket prices. But I'm satisfied with the home experience.

* Eps *

New band featuring an ex Weston dude, playing slick emo punk/alterna rock ala Jawbreaker, Goo Goo Dolls or Pop Unknown.

More great English style melodic punk by way of France.

The first bitcoin accepted punk release? Another great track from the Gamblers, plus a Big Boys cover.

* Reissues *

Finally! This was the holy grail for ST/Venice Hardcore fans. Maybe someday I'll tell the story about the first time I "acquired" this album.

Classic new wave. "Christmas Wrapping," "I Know What Boys Like" and "Square Pegs" are here, as well as their 2 albums, an EP and a few bonuses.