Classic CD Review: The Rekoys [2003]

Band: The Recoys
Label: Troubleman Unlimited

1. “Song on the Paper Dolls” – A
2. “Shake Off Your Nerve” – A
3. “Over Your Shoulder” – A-
4. “That’s the Punchline” – A
5. “Blizzard of ’93” – A-
6. “Let’s Get Educated” – A
7. “Let You In” – A-
8. “Modern Art Museum” – A-
9. “Look Out Your Window” – A-
10. “Roy Orbison” – B
11. “Tribute: The Recoys” – A

Comments: As a big Walkmen fan, I’m impressed by the mere fact that Hamilton Leithauser was playing stuff this good when he was only 19 to 22 years old. You’ll be able to tell these guys had been playing in bands since middle school. Right off the bat, “Song of the Paper Dolls” is distinctively Hamilton. It’s clean garage/power pop — at least compared to most of the stuff I call that on this site. “Shake Off Your Nerve” has shakers and saxophones. It’s a dancer that’s more punk than most of anything that would end up coming out of The Walkmen catalog. Speaking of The Walkmen catalog, “Over Your Shoulder” starts a trend on this collection of tunes (The Recoys never released an LP) of “Walkmen” songs. “Over” has all the niceties that Leithauser and Bauer would wind up incorporating in their future band. Of course, “That’s the Punchline” and “Blizzard of ’93” (renamed “Blizzard of ’96) wound up on the Walkmen’s debut full-length Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. This has nothing to do with anything, but when Ham says “that’s a change of style” on “Punchline,” I realized that these songs actually do represent a change of style. “Blizzard” is sloppier and heavier on Rekoys. “Let’s Get Educated” is perfect garage rock revivalist material. It’s like the Strokes, but before the Strokes. Dirtier than the Strokes. Nice and dirty. “Modern Art Museum” is a passionate rocker. You can really hear it in Ham’s voice. “No one understands The Recoys” is sung on the very last song. Don’t worry, though, when their “ship comes in” you will understand them. What that means I don’t know! Fans of The Walkmen, definitely try to get your hands on this. You’ll appreciate this as a reference point in Hamilton Leithauser’s (and Pete Bauer’s, if you’re really looking) career. The Recoys broke up in 1999 after a three year stint.

Grade: A- (92)

Classic Review: Stanley Road [1995]

Artist: Paul Weller
Label: Go! Discs

1. “The Changingman” – A
2. “Porcelain Gods” – A-
3. “I Walk On Gilded Splinters” – B+
4. “You Do Something To Me” – A+
5. “Woodcutter’s Son” – B+
6. “Time Passes” – B+
7. “Stanley Road” – B+
8. “Broken Stones” – B
9. “Out of the Sinking” – A-
10. “Pink on White Walls” – B+
11. “Whirlpool’s End” – A+
12. “Wings of Speed”- A+

Comments: I consider this the Modfahjah’s serious, yet bittersweet phase. I’ve been listening to these songs on a fairly irregular basis since about the year 2000. Collectively, they’ve never struck me as worthwhile listens… up until very recently. After seeing Weller in a live setting, I realized that the guy isn’t that bad! No, no, even more shockingly…he’s good! Of course, the sound he’s maintained over his solo career is in a faraway land from punk rock or “mod” rock…whatever that was. On this release in particular, Weller is pretty much down for anything. An extended guitar solo here and there, a soft piano-rock unrequited love ballad, an inspirational oldies power-pop number, country sounding tunes, and other goodies. Even the songs that aren’t “great” tend to flow real well with this album as a whole. The core of this album is in “You Do Something to Me,” Weller’s solo magnum opus “Whirlpool’s End,” and, of course, the gospel piano track “Wings of Speed.” I remember listening to “Wings” when I was a wee lad. I hadn’t heard anything like it. Its gospel swagger (which was something I never would have termed it years ago) was captivating. I think I downloaded it on Napster or Kazaa. That’s how much impact it had on me. It’s still such a touching ditty.

Grade: A- (90)

Classic Review: Pinkerton [1996]

Band: Weezer
Label: DGC Records

1. “Tired of Sex” – A
2. “Getchoo” – A-
3. “No Other One” – B+
4. “Why Bother?” – A
5. “Across the Sea” – A
6. “The Good Life” – A
7. “El Scorcho” – A
8. “Pink Triangle” – A-
9. “Falling for You” – B
10. “Butterfly” – B

Comments: Blue vs. Pinkerton. Blue vs. Pinkerton. What’s the deal? Those two are the only albums that independent-minded fans of Weezer consider worthy of discussion. As you all know Weezer Blue is a heck of an album.  It’s loaded with indefatigable pop/rock numbers.  This record has been claimed to be ‘darker’ and more ‘raw’ and that’s relatively accurate. The rhythm guitar, as on Blue, is the main force behind the goodness on here. It’s not nearly as catchy as Blue (no standout tracks), but a large portion of it is awesome.

Grade: A- (91)

Classic Review: Locust Abortion Technician

Artist: Butthole Surfers
Full Title: Locust Abortion Technician
Year: 1987
Label: Touch and Go/Latin Buggerveil
Tracks:
1) Sweat Loaf– 9
2) Graveyard- 8
3) Pitsburg to Lebanon- 7/8
4) Weber- 5
5) Hay- 7/8
6) Human Cannonball- 8
7) U.S.S.A.- 8
8) The O-Men-7
9) Kuntz– 9
10) Graveyard- 8
11) 22 Going on 23- 8/9

Comments
: Early Butthole Surfers equals Music made for, by, and of heavy psychedelic drug use and Locust Abortion Technician is no exception. This is the pinnacle of the Buttholes’ highly experimental music. They dabble in Punk, Heavy Metal, Noise Rock, and definitely psychedlia. Without a doubt this is the group’s best offering up until then and since. I really dig the humor and chaos of “Sweat Loaf,” it is certainly a fantastic opener and really sets you up for what is to come. “Kuntz,” a remixing of an old Thai song and “22 Going On 23,” a disturbing/awkwardly amusing recount of a sexual assault case and its effects on the victim, round out my favorite tracks on this record. Overall, this is the kind of album that should be heard for its experimentation and the overall sound collage, oh and yeah, also for you and your pals to giggle and say “WTF?!!!” Turn it up at loud volumes, blast it as high as you can and freak out the whole neighborhood! In short, I feel like this serves better as a handbook for those who want to make experimental music, rather than an album you listen to again and again. With that being said, it is quite listenable and worthy of praise for it’s somewhat brave and unquestionably unique style. Basically, the Buttholes entered the studio and fumbled around with what they had (which was limited), took tons of acid (amongst other substances I can imagine) and ultimately created a really cool, trippy experience for all of us music lovers.

Grade: B

Classic Album Review: Superfuzz Bigmuff


Artist: Mudhoney
Full Title: Superfuzz Bigmuff plus Early Singles
Year: 1988 (recorded), 1990 (released)
Label: Sub Pop
Tracks:
1) Touch Me I’m Sick– 10
2) Sweet Young Thing (Ain’t Sweet No More)– 9
3) Hate the Police (The Dicks)- 8
4) Burn It Clean- 8
5) You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face)– 9
6) Halloween (Sonic Youth)- 8
7) No One Has- 8/9
8) If I Think- 8
9) In “N” Out of Grace– 9
10) Need- 8
11) Chain That Door- 7/8
12) Mudride- 7/8

NOTE: “The album contains the entire Superfuzz Bigmuff EP, the A-sides and B-sides of 2 singles, and 2 covers from split singles with Sonic Youth and The Dicks.”- Wikipedia.

Comments:
For those of you youngsters out there that are strugglin’ with the ladies, here’s a new pick up line for y’all to try out. Tell em’ “Touch Me I’m Sick!” So, after you get clocked in the face, grab a case of beer and get rowdy with this sucker. Here we have the legendary Mudhoney at their muddiest. Loud, fuzzy, muzzy guitars, pouding drums and the distinctive, apathetic drone of singer, Mark Arm. These songs have that filthy feel to them, but at the same time the riffs are memorable/catchy and Arm’s vocals are pretty damn clear, especially for this kind of music. As we all know this became the template for the Seattle Scene and what would become known to the rest of the world as “Grunge” (yes, I hate the term too, but it’s useful as a point of reference). This record and this band are without a doubt influential, but a tad bit overrated. Don’t get me wrong, most of the songs on here are good, it’s a very good record, but there are only a few great, stand out tracks, and yes they are exquisite. “Touch Me I’m Sick,” is fucking great for headbanging and I can imagine moshing; as a whole Mudhoney is great for an intoxicated state, particularly “Touch.” It’s a classic for a reason, well many reasons. Of course sonically it showscases the garagey Seattle sound better than any other tune in their catalog, but for me, the lyrics and presentation of those lyrics are also extremely vital. It’s a song I can relate to, a different kinda love ballad, if you will. You see it’s the honest male emotion that’s key here- “I’m a creep and I’m a jerk”- Arm’s nastiness and brutal delivery turns girls off, while spineless blokes like John Mayer sing about your daughter and tell the females exactly what they want to hear, so they can love him, at least they used to. But enough of that ranting and raving, “Touch” is complemented by its B-Side, “Sweet Young Thing,” which is the second track on this compilation, making it one of the greatest singles of all time. “In ‘N’ Out of Grace” is certainly one of my favorite tracks and exemplifies the group’s excellent guitar playing; one of the best riffs I have ever heard. All in all, this is a really good record, but not exceptional. I feel like Mudhoney is more of a “sound” band, like they have a great sound to almost all of these songs, but for me to love this thang, I need more fabulous tracks. It’s definitely worth a few listens and if you like “grunge” music, then well, you suck if you haven’t heard this and shouldn’t call yourself a fan of said style, but I’ll give you a break and let you listen to this and impress your average mainstream listening friends.

Grade: B+

Classic Review: Is This It? [2001]

Band: The Strokes
Label: RCA

1. “Is This It?” A+
2. “The Modern Age” – A+
3. “Soma” – A
4. “Barely Legal” – A+
5. “Someday” – A+
6. “Alone, Together” – A+
7. “Last Nite” – A+
8. “Hard to Explain” – A++
9. “When It Started” – A+ / “New York City Cops” – A+
10. “Trying To Your Luck” – A+
11. “Take It Or Leave It” – A+

Comments: The best of the bunch of so-called revivalists that spawned in the late ’90s and early ‘2000s, The Strokes weren’t really revivalists at all. What were they reviving? These guys weren’t punks, either. This album is vintage pop-rock gold. Pop-rock gold that completely triumphs the dumb, uninspiring, and utterly boring, pop-rock of bands of today like…The Script. Despite widespread media coverage of this record and The Strokes legacy in general, it’s a shame they’ve never really crossed over into mainstream pop radio’s heart. Just a few years ago I was informed of this band, so I’m not going to try to pretend these guys were a favorite when I was eleven. I’d heard odds and ends off this album…most amazing to me, initially, were “Someday” and “The Modern Age”…but this was my first time listening to in its entirety. There’s hardly any bands that have produced a better start-to-finish(er). The little bursts of distortion and Casablancas’ distinctive voice are awesome moments on so many of these tunes. Even the songs that I’ve heard only a few times vs. hundreds of times for the others are immediately likable.

Grade: A+ (97)

Classic Review: Weezer [1994]

1. “My Name Is Jonas” – A
2. “No One Else” – A
3. “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” – A
4. “Buddy Holly” – A++
5. “Undone (The Sweater Song)” – A+
6. “Surf Wax America” – A
7. “Say It Ain’t So” – A+
8. “In The Garage” – A
9. “Holiday” – A
10. “Only In Dreams” – A-

Comments: Before a bunch of shitty bands entered the “alternative rock” or “power-pop” fray, there was Weezer. Before Weezer was Pixies and Pavement…their distinct musical styles come through on a lot of these songs. The thing about Blue Weezer is that Blue Weezer is pure mid-tempo heavy fun. Do debuts get better than this in terms of quantity/quality of hooks? “Buddy Holly,” maybe because I’ve known it for years and years, is just pure pop genius. From start to finish, it’s a listening experience that’s really one of a kind. “Undone” follows a groundbreaking “talk-verse-chorus-talk-verse-chorus” format that makes it extremely hard not to like. Also, the ending’s awesome. “Say It Ain’t So” is one of those songs that doesn’t really hit you until the chorus hits. And then it’s all fine and dandy from there. I’ve realized I’ve only brought up the hit singles in this little comment space, but every song on here is a winner.

Grade: A (95)

Classic Album Review: You Turn Me On


Artist: Beat Happening
Full Title: You Turn Me On
Label: K/Sub Pop
Year: 1992
Track List:
1) Tiger Trap– 9
2) Noise– 9/10
3) Pinebox Derby– 10
4) Teenage Caveman– 10
5) Sleepy Head– 9/10
6) You Turn Me On– 9
7) Godsend- 8
8) Hey Day– 8/9
9) Bury the Hammer– 9

Comments:
Right off the bat, this is definitely my favorite Beat Happening album and one of my all time favorite albums altogether. From the first chords of “Tiger Trap,” you know you are in for something special. The song is nearly seven minutes long, much longer than previous BH tunes and yet the simple, endearing, and always fascinating quality to their music is reatained. Most of the tracks here are longer than their previous LPs, but they don’t drag and you never feel bored. I take that back, “Godsend,” is wayyyy longer than necessary. It’s a great song…. for the first few minutes. 9:28 is too long! Besides that, I have nothing bad to see about this record. It is fantastic and proves that Beat Happening can utilize cleaner production to their advantage. Overall, the music sounds better than ever (though this was not the first cleaner sounding album), but specifically the vocals are phenomenal. Heather’s singing is the best, better than Calvin’s; “Noise” and “Sleepy Head” showcase her talent. Calvin’s classic baritone is prominent in catchy numbers like “Pinebox Derby,” “Teenage Caveman,” and “You Turn Me On.” On Teenage’ when he holds the “oneeeeeeee” in alone, it is easily one of the greatest musical moments ever recorded. For me, this album simply conists of amazing pop songs, what would be hits in another universe where earnest and quality music is appreciated on a grand scale. On first listens, that’s all I heard. I really had to pay attention, to notice the lo-fi, primitive nature of the music that was more obvious in other BH records. They did not feel like simple, Daniel Johnston esque, musically limited creations (not to say there is anything wrong with that stuff). My point being: the power of this album is in its presentation. I just hear a fabulous pop record with songs that hit you as complete ideas. I have to make a real dedicated effort to key in on that lack of musicality, which is clearly there, no doubt, but these songs are so damn excellent that it becomes of little concern. Though You Turn Me On may not be as seminal as their earlier work, it certainly continues that very same spirit and demonstrates the consistent awesomeness in their catalog.

Grade: A/A+

Top 25 Absolute Favorite Albums

If you are a die hard music fan like me and if you are reading this, then you probably are, naming your top 25 favorite albums of all time is no easy task. Hell, it’s hard enough to narrow it down to 100 or 50, but 25 is a whole other beast. Now, I use the term “absolute” because there are numerous LPs that I consider favorites and I love them, but these ditties are really special to me; I’m talking heavy rotation, play track by track, till you wear em’ out. THIS IS NOT A LIST OF THE ‘GREATEST’ ALBUMS OF ALL TIME, SO DON’T COMMENT, THAT THIS IS BS, MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN POST! BUT, BY ALL MEANS SHARE YOUR FAVES IF YOU LIKE. Here they are from 25 to 1.

25) Tender Prey (1988)- Nick Cave- Mute (“Watching Alice”)
– Cave and his Bad Seeds unleash some of the darkest, deepest, and sometimes creepiest ballads and Rock jams to come out of the 80s by far.

24) Either/Or (1997)- Elliott Smith- Kill Rock Stars (“Between the Bars”)
– Smith delivers a truly unique and highly distinctive sound for himself on this record, perfecting all of his previous efforts and never matching the same quality on future offerings (at least in my opinion). His vocals are soothing to the ears and I really dig the simple percussion and oft acoustic guitar strumming.

23) Neon Bible (2007)- Arcade Fire- Merge (“Intervention”)
– Epic, gigantic, orchestral number after number, few popular “indie” groups can boast such quality recordings.

22) Microcastle (2008)- Deerhunter- Kranky (“Twilight At Carbon Lake”)
– Deerhunter take their ambiance and chill it down a couple of notches, instead, strengthening their pop elements and ultimately creating a mind blowing experience from start to finish.

21) Strawberry Jam (2007)- Animal Collective- Domino (“Peacebone”)
– Bonefish! This is the first AC LP I really got into. The pop hooks are stronger than ever (well up until this point) and yet the group still retains their experimental and certianly bizarre mystique.

20) Songs About Fucking (1987)- Big Black- Touch and Go (“Fish Fry”)
– Sure, the songs may be about fucking and chucking and killing and what have you, but clearly, there’s no fucking around here. The album showcases the band’s knack for producing walls of in your face, relentless noise that sounds soothing to my ears. Definitely Albini’s best work to date.

19) Psychocandy (1985)- Jesus and Mary Chain- Reprise- (“The Hardest Walk”)
– Insane noise pop- probably the definition of noise pop. Beach Boys harmonies drenched in “unbearable” noise- a modern masterpiece.

18) The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)- The Kinks- Reprise (“Do You Remember Walter?”)
– You think you know The Kinks? If you haven’t heard VG then you know nothing. Here, we have an extremely “British” record, featuring some of these bad boys’ greatest, catchiest numbers. In many ways, this LP is proof that The Kinks were one of the most mature groups to originiate out of the British Invasion-with themes of adolescence lost and dreams of happiness shattered by the weight of the world.

17) Revolver (1966)- The Beatles- Capital (“Here, There, and Everywhere”)
– What else can be said?! That’s what I thought………. perhaps first album that truly abandoned the “Yeah Yeah Yeah” era for good.

16) Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)- Velvet Underground- Polydor (“Sunday Morning”)
– I first heard this when I was thirteen and within just a few seconds of “Sunday Morning” I knew I was listening to something special. This was before I had seen all the Greatest Albums lists it vastly appears on. For an album that deals with S & M, Heroin, and unrequited love, there’s an affectionate side to the Velvets that makes this old favorite timeless.

15) Rage Against the Machine (1992)- Rage Against the Machine- Epic (“Know Your Enemy”)
– I have pretty much ruined my CD from playing it over and over and over again. I’d say each Rage album has lasting playable quality to it, but not nearly as much as this first LP. The opener, “Bombtrack” should be studied as easily one of the greatest examples of a band displaying all of their distinctive attributes (guerrila politics, quick rhymes, and flawless guitar riffs) in a matter of seconds. Rage’s debut stands as one of the greatest manifestos of the 20th Century.

14) Darkside of the Moon (1973)- Pink Floyd- Capital (“Time”)
– This album evokes various memories for me and like a good friend is always there when I need it. Just a great record to throw in and just chill out for about an hour. No matter how big this LP or Floyd has become, it still holds a very personal feel to it for I’m sure not just me, but all Floyd fans. For a while, this was my favorite album, for about ahhh let’s say- 6.5 years… Admittedly, I don’t like this as much as I used to, well obviously. But still, this is probably the first album to truly change my life- musically, philisophically, spiritually, and in every other way. The simplicity and timing of the music is key- you don’t have to sync it with OZ to be mesmerized by it’s magic.

13) Weezer (The Blue Album) (1994)- Weezer- Geffen/DGC (“Only In Dreams”)
– If you have not heard this album because you think Weezer sucks, there’s a good chance you have only heard post Blue Album/Pinkerton Weezer (or you simply don’t like them!). Well, do yourself a favor and let go of the prejudice- I am not a big fan of any of their later recordings, but I love this album and distinugish from the rest of the group’s discography. Every track here is a hit (not in the charting sense of the word)- a blow to my catchy-surf poppy- jangly guitar desiring bones. Is it mainstream? Of course. Is it commmercial? You bet. Is it passionate songwriting? Without a doubt. So, isn’t that the most important ingrediant? I feel like Weezer is being Weezer naturally here, a naturally popular band. Alas, it seems we never ever heard that same band again, instead, from here on, it is like Weezer trying to be Weezer.

12) The Mollusk (1997)- Ween- Elektra (“It’s Gonna Be (Alright)
– Before hearing this ditty, I was already a big fan of the humorously bizarre, Experimental Rock duo. However, it is on this record that they became one of my favorite bands. This is Ween at their finest; perhaps their only great, great album? (at least in their opinion). As always, we hear adventerous, psychedlic tunes from all sorts of genres/styles, and yet this time around there is a real unifiedalbum feel to it, rather than a collection of cool, wacky songs. “It’s Gonna Be (Alright)” stradles the line between silly Ween number and serious, sentimental AM Pop single; some folks may prefer a clear artistic intention, but the group’s ambiguity is what makes the music brilliant.

11) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2009)- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart- Slumberland- (“Come Saturday)
– One of my first impressions of this band/album was damn, I feel like I’m at a Junior High dance in the mid 80s, I’m standing in the dark corner and these guys are playing on stage, playing the same kind of song over and over again. Only difference? It’s fucking amazing. Now, with most bands that have similar sounding songs, it doesn’t quite work. With the Pains, this is totally not the case. You hear one of their ballads and you immediately think, “this is my new favorite band!” The pop hooks are that powerful. With Summery pop melodies and 60s vocals being smashed together with unflinching noise, I second several music critics’ comparison to the seminal Jesus and Mary Chain, except one thing, they are much better.

10) Alice and Friends (2009)- Box Elders- Goner (“Atlantis”)
– I saw the Box Elders live opening for Jay Reatard quite some time ago and experienced something that has never been duplicated: Without ever hearing them before or even having knowledge of their existence, just mere notes into their performance I was hooked. Who were these guys? Well, not too long after that show I picked up this record and discovered a unique and entertaining “Cave Pop/Hippie Punk” trio with superb energy and affection for their incredibly catchy and endearing songs. What really stands out about the BE is their knack for intriguing subject matter i.e. songs about walking “One Foot in Front of the Other,” the apocalypse “2012,” ” loving dead people “Necro,” and so on. They may fall under the “Garage” label, but they stand out far more than most bands of that variety. On this album the band approaches the material in a delicately innocent manner, without losing their badass Rock and Roll edge.

9) I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (2005)- Bright Eyes- Saddle Creek (“Road to Joy”)
– For me, this is the only Bright Eyes record that hits home, perhaps too close to home. I hate being that guy that only digs their biggest release, but for whatever reason, no other BE album has hit me as hard. This is definitely a work that strikes an emotional chord for me. You can enjoy it when you’re really down, cause clearly Conor is in most of the songs, and it will bring you right up. Or you can toss it on when you’re a happy camper and shout along to the triumphant anti-war declarations such as, “So when you’re asked to fight a war thats over nothin’ its best to join the side thats gonna win. No one’s sure how all of this got started but we’re gonna make ’em God damn certain how its gonna end.”

8) Doolittle (1989)- Pixies- 4AD/Elektra (“Wave of Mutilation”)
– The Pixies take their raw Husker Du like sound and inject more traditional pop songwriting creating a beautifully sounding, but horrifying mess. Lyrically the album is pretty ugly with tunes about the spinning and slicing of eyeballs “Debaser,” suicide “Wave of Mutilation,” and bizarre bibical imagery “Gouge Away.” “Hits” like “Here Comes Your Man” and “Monkey Gone to Heaven” prove the band can reach a wider audience without compromising their sound. I’ve seen this album live in it’s entirety and that was one of the best concerts I have ever experienced. This album exemplifies the “loud quiet loud” dynamic better than any Pixies recording. If you haven’t given this some ear time, than you have some serious homework to attend to.

7) You Turn Me On (1992)- Beat Happening- K/Sub Pop (“Teenage Caveman”)
– Beat Happening retain their passion over musicianship attitude and use quality studio production to strengthen this fine aesthetic. The songs sound better than ever and there is very little to no dead areas. Both Calvin and Heather perfect their vocals here; deep baritone, but not exhausting to the ears and light, almost innocent-girl group singing, respectively. This offering is BH’s strongest work as an all together album experience.

6) King of the Beach (2010)- Wavves- Fat Possum (“Post-Acid”)
– Before hearing this fantastic Summer Twenty Ten companion, I liked and admired Wavves, but they weren’t a favorite of mine particularly. Often when a lo-fi/noise band makes the leap to a cleaner production sounding record I start to cringe. As with Beat Happening, this is not the case with King. The production brings out the best in Wavves and only makes the songs that much catchier and more intriuging. I really dig the various, sometimes experimental, styles Wavves throw in: fast surf pop- “King of the Beach,” psychedelic- “Linus Spacehead,” the neo psychedelia a la Animal Collective- “Mickey Mouse,” 90s pop punk- “Post-Acid,” and dance pop/electronica- “Convertible Balloon.” The variety on this record really makes it stand out from similar artists like say Best Coast, whom I am a fan of, but have songs that all sound alike, it seems. And at the same time, Wavves has their own distinctive side to them. Two factors really make this LP exceptional and a rarity. 1) There are few songs that aren’t totally kick ass! and the ones that are “ok” are actually quite good and worthy of numerous listens, just not in the same league as their counterparts. Most albums have at leas their fair share of truly weak songs. 2) This major change in sound is such a surprising treat to Wavves fans and makes this release all the more memorable and notable.

5) Gay Singles (2010)- Hunx and His Punx- True Panther Sounds (“Cruisin”)
– Not too many days go by without me hoppin and boppin around to my favorite Gay Singles! No, you don’t have to actually be of the peter puffing persuasion to enjoy this compilation, you just have to be open minded and willing to hear the most flaming music in the world! If you’re a fan of 60s girl groups, Old School Rock and Roll, The Ramones, Nobunny, etc I think you will really dig this shit. Here, we have some of the catchiest love songs my ears have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Hunx aka Seth Bogart is a fabulous student of Malt Shop Memories and that’s all it really is. Classic Rock and Roll, youthful, love numbers, but with a queer touch to it and the ocassional sweaty, vulgar comment or two. Not to mention a real bad ass garage sounding percussion; overall the production is extremely pleasing to 60s audio freaks, such as myself. Hunx has more balls than all the pussy mainstreamers combined and in many ways he is one of most charismatic frontmen in all of modern music. So GET BENT!

4) Invisible Girl (2009)- King Khan & BBQ Show- In the Red (“Anala”)
– Doooo ba ba ba dooo aahhh yeah! Doo Wop till ya drop! Throw in some songs about being a lonely boy and loving your baby round the clock and you’ve got a masterpiece. Being a huge fan of the KK BBQ before hearing this, I was initially not as enthusiastic as I thought it would be. But not too long after it grew heavily on me and has since become my favorite KK BBQ album and one of my favorite albums of all time. Their first two LPs were good and fun, but had too much disparity in amazing tunes and average suckers. With this record there is never a dull moment and plenty of variety. From the unsavory “Tastebuds” to the sensitive “Third Ave,” KK BBQ are the masters of reinterpreting old genres/eras of music and then some.

3) Blood Visions (2006)- Jay Reatard- In the Red (“My Shadow”)
– What haven’t I said about this man and his great musical contributions. You know how I feel. Look it up! Definitely Jay’s best studio album. His Let It Bloom (2005)if you will.

2) Matador Singles ’08 (2008)- Jay Reatard- Matador (“See/Saw”)
– Like we don’t talk about this fucking guy enough on this blog and this (not so) boring fuck gets two albums on the list! Absolutely, Jay, the pop master, as I have called him, unleashes thirteen killer singles with better production than ever before. The pop hooks are stronger here than anywhere else and his Garage Punk Rockin style is not totally obliterated either. This is vintage Reatard, still too good for the naysayers. For most that do hear this, they acknowledge how simple, yet astonishing Jay’s songwriting is. I bet Angry Angels Singles ’10 sounds sweet in Heaven.

1) Los Valientes Del Mundo Neuvo (2007)- Black Lips- Vice (“Sea of Blasphemy”)
– “This is going to be the best live record of all time,” announces Jared Swilley in “Stranger.” Funny thing is, Mr. Swilley probably didn’t realize how accurate his declaration was. Most of y’all will disagree with me here, but I’m sure we can all agree this is the best Black Lips record (probably of all time, but who knows?). This guerrila pop classic captures everything essential to the Black Lips chaotic craft: Drunkem sing alongs, amateur caterwoul hollers, fast and noisy Rockers, and all the jostling craziness of a Black Lips show. This set includes most of the Lips pre-Vice, classic material. Live albums should make you feel like you are sonically at the scene of the crime or at least want to be within the musical tornado; I would give my left nut to shake dirty hands with the Mexican, finger poppin prostitute and be amidst the bedlam in Tiajauna with the baddest Rock and Roll band of our time.

Classic Review: Cryptograms [2007]

Band: Deerhunter
Album: Cryptograms
Label: Kranky Records

1. “Intro” – (B-)Reminds me of an atmospheric No Age number.
2. “Cryptograms” – (B+) Not really my kind of Deerhunter tune, although it does have a lot of little hints of catchiness.
3. “White Ink” – (C)Relaxing and probably great under the influence of some kind of drug, but as a stand alone track…boring.
4. “Lake Somerset” – (B)Too chaotic for my liking, but still decent enough. If pure noise and subliminal hooks are your kind of thangs then God bless you.
5. “Providence” – (C)See “White Ink” for this.
6. “Octet” – (B-)Too long, but has a decent drumbeat.
7. “Red Ink” – (D)Really, really, really pointless. Top of the line pointlessness.
8. “Spring Hall Convert” – (B+)Mellow rock. Perhaps veers too much in the ambient direction.
9. “Strange Lights” – (B)Similar in quality to the track before it.
10. “Hazel Street” – (A-)Down to earth (woo hoo!). A fun adventure.
11. “Tape Hiss Orchid” – (D)See, “Red Ink.” Thanks.
12. “Heatherwood” – (B+)Pretty neat. Not a great closer, but it’s fun.

Final Comments: If you are sucker for ambiance and I mean AMBIANCE, this record is for you! If you like rock and roll and I mean ROCK AND ROLL, this record is probably not for you. For those suckers who like a delicate mix, it will probably be like flipping a quarter. TAILS, you like it. HEADS, you hate it. For me, unfortunately, this would probably fall somewhere in the middle or lower end of my favorite albums of a given year. In other words, this record isn’t very notable in Deerhunter’s discography let alone music. Period. I feel like I might be too harsh to a certain degree…I mean this isn’t an aimless record. Deerhunter is better than that.

Grade: B- (80)