Friday, February 26, 2010

It's been a great week as far as record scores go.

First, Wednesday, when I came home from work, my package from Deep Six had finally arrived. Turns out I got the pre-order versions of both the Man Is the Bastard/Endless Blockade Split LP, but also the Low Threat Profile 7". Definitely unexpected. Then, I headed out to Fantasy and American Oldies in Newport News yesterday and picked up some cool stuff.

GODFLESH - Merciless - Columbia/Earache

AUTOPSY - Dead As Fuck (Live in '91+'93) - Necroharmonic
GLAZED BABY - Squeeze the Tail, Suck the Head EP - Allied
GLAZED BABY - Ancient Chinese Secret - Atomic Action
TWILIGHT - Twilight - Southern Lord
ZASTHUR - Telepathic with the Deceased - Moribund Cult

THE CANDYLAND CARCRASH/SERAPHIM - "A Rockt Trip to the Moon" Split 7" (Black) Small Craft Advisory
GLAZED BABY - Squeeze the Tail, Suck the Head 7" (Black) Allied
PEDRO THE LION - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen b/w Silent Night (1st Press; /2000 Purple) Suicide Squeeze

DAVID BOWIE - Let's Dance - EMI
THE POLICE - Outlandos d'Amour - A&M
LYLE LOVETT - Lyle Lovett and His Large Band - MCA
HORR'S HAMMER - Dommedagsnatt - Southern Lord
U2 - New Year's Day 12" Single - Island

Lastly, my copies of the PIG HEART TRANSPLANT/JUHYO - Split 7" showed up today. Beatiful layout, very excited about checking that out.

... also, I snagged about a hundred back-issue comics. Literally. 99 issues, now bagged, boarded, and ready to read.

Looking forward to getting some quality time with my vinyl and newsprint while on vacation next week.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Matt Sharp and the Quest for the Holy Grail of Weezer B-sides

I recently got the Deluxe Edition of the Blue Album for my birthday, and it set off this obsessive streak - I tend to get those often - where I have to find every song released by an artist. As much as I love Weezer’s early albums, their later albums always feel like they miss the mark: basically a failed attempt to recapture whatever kind of dork rock magic they conjured in the early days. Most people believe they suffered from one particular thing: the loss of Matt Sharp (bassist/falsetto singer) to the Rentals.

With this in mind, I set out to get ONLY the material that the band released during his tenure. Here’s the summation of my effort to consolidate all the disparate (and worthwhile) B-sides that featured Matt Sharp:

The Deluxe Edition of the Blue Album has a bonus disc with B-sides, acoustic, live and demo tracks. While the whole disc is great, the first three tracks perfectly capture the dorky, innocent vibe of Blue Album: “Mykel and Carli,” “Suzanne,” and “Jamie.” “Suzanne” is easily the best track on this disc, as it has a 50’s pop song feel to it. An acoustic track of “Jamie” is also on the disc (in addition to the regular version), and the harmonies are pulled off perfectly. So that’s worth checking out too.

Next, we have the The Good Life EP, which features the B-sides “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” (with Rachel Haden of That Dog/The Rentals on vocals) and “Waiting on You.” The first B-side is synth-heavy with chick vocals, while “Waiting on You” is a slower track. The EP also features two live acoustic tracks from Pinkerton: “The Good Life” and “No Other One”. These tracks are pretty good but nothing mind-blowing. “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams” definitely deserves best track of the EP.

Moving on, we have the El Scorcho EP. Both of these B-sides are absolutely amazing. “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” (which originally appeared on the Angus soundtrack) is a faster “rockin’” Weezer track. “Devotion” is heavy as shit and sounds like a fucking Skepticism song because of the slow, droning guitars and constant synths! The chorus has these awesome ascending harmonies with pretty unique riffs playing off each. I would say “Devotion” tops the other B-side only because of how unique it sounds within the pantheon of early Weezer songs.

In between their debut album and Pinkerton, the band began to work on a space-themed rock opera called Songs from the Black Hole. It was supposed to follow the tale of a crew flying into space on some kind of mission. Sounds awesome, right!? Unfortunately, the concept fell apart and a bunch of songs intended for the rock opera were included on Pinkerton instead (supposedly Tired of Sex, Getchoo, No Other One and Why Bother). Some of the other songs ended up as B-sides (all those included in the two EPs above). Rivers had recorded a bunch of the songs as demos on home recordings, which he released through his Alone/Alone 2 albums. Some demos surfaced through various places on the internet for most of the other songs that were entirely unreleased.

I found a version that a fan had compiled that tried to mimic the vision for the album as best as possible through all these different releases – it was, as expected, pretty shitty. However, the first two tracks – an intro called “Countdown” and the first track “Blast Off!” – are actually pretty great. “Countdown” features dreamy and haunting acapella humming behind a NASA countdown sequence into “Blast Off!”, which could have easily been included on Pinkerton. I believe the demo for this song was recorded at the same session for the Pinkerton album – the snare drum and general vibe of the song are so similar to the Pinkerton songs. The other songs are mostly weird little clips trying to convey the story. I would be nice to see what the album would be like if it was recorded and produced entirely.

The last B-side worth mentioning is Weezer’s cover of the Pixies’ song “Velouria”.

So, in full, here are the tracks you should check out if you want some great Weezer B-sides during the Matt Sharp-era:

Mykel and Carli



I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams

Waiting on You

You Gave Your Love to Me Softly



Blast Off!


Finally, I would also HIGHLY recommend the first Rentals album, The Return of the Rentals, if you want to continue the sludgy, dork rock goodness. It was actually released between the Blue Album and Pinkerton, which is probably why a lot of the unreleased Songs from the Black Hole sucked – Matt Sharp was away with Rentals while Rivers was working on writing that album.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top Ten Albums of 2008

Edit: Best of 2008 Compilation d/l linked below!

So another year is coming to a close, and thusly I've spend the past week or so thinking a lot about the best albums that came out over the course of these twelve months. Of what I've checked out (thus far), these topped the "List" for me (in alphabetical order):

Black Mountain, In the Future (Jagajaguar)

Heavy enough not to be lame, diverse enough to keep from becoming redundant. This is what more "Psychedelic" bands should aspire to.
"Queens Will Pay" is easily one of my favorite cuts from 2008.

Didn't think this album would be as good as their self-titled debut... It's better.

Fucked Up, Chemistry of Common Life (Matador)

Picking up with the experimentation 2006's Hidden World introduced us to, the band has taken a step even further away from traditional hardcore.The more I listen, the more I'm convinced this is in our best interests.

I can't help but feel like Fucked Up have become one of those bands our kids will ask us if we were into the way we might ask our parents if they were into Black Flag.

Iron Lung, Sexless//No Sex (Prank)

The "First Name" in modern power violence...

Iron Lung progress where so many bands are content merely replicating their predecessors. This album is fast, heavy, noisy, and chaotic all at the same time. It's the kind of music your parents hope you don't bring home.

Personally, I preferred Sexless to their debut (Life. Iron Lung. Death.) but both albums are stellar.

Made Out of Babies, The Ruiner (The End)

Noisy, tight, and heavy - but definitely not your daddy's metal.

Made Out of Babies' third LP is just as solid as the first two (though some might argue it's less aggressive than 2006's Coward: or 2005's Trophy). Think of The Jesus Lizard with a crazy chick singing and you're not too far off.

If you're a fan, you'll probably be interested in (singer) Julie Christmas's other project; Battle of Mice. They dropped a great split LP with Jesu this year as well.

Mind Eraser, Conscious Unconscious (Clean Plate)

Two songs, each taking up one side of this monster LP.

Released only weeks before the 7" EP The Prodigal Son Brings Death (listed below), this is arguably Mind Eraser's best material to date. Slower and heavier than their earlier material. This album dabbles in the more metallic and doomy side of Mind Eraser's sound, whereas Prodigal keeps things faster and more hardcore. Success on both fronts!

"Neanderthal worship band seen buying Celtic Frost and Sleep albums from Record Exchange?"

...Something like that.

Nadja, The Bungled and The Botched (ConSouling)

My favorite release from the Noise/Drone/Post-Metal behemoth.

An hour of beautiful, carefully constructed soundscapes. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes haunting. I love it.

Highly recommended for fans of Boris, SunnO))), Khanate, Ocean, etc.

Rotten Sound, Cycles (Spinefarm)

Scored the leak for this album a year ago (even though it wasn't officially released stateside until summer '08). From the first listen I knew this would be the best metal album to come out this year.

Incredibly tight, heavy-hitting grind from Finland. If you liked Trap Them's first album, this is where they got their sound. This album is more than just a succession of blast-beats though. It's innovative without being pretentious, and it's still accessible to fans of traditional grindcore as well as those who need a more polished sound to their metal.

Tombs, Tombs (Level Plane/Black Box)
Split 12” w/ Planks (Black Box)

Formed in 2007 from the ashes of a short-lived project called Versoma, Tombs is the brain-child of ex-Anodyne guitarist and frontman Mike Hill. The band explores the layered wall-of-sound approach Versoma had taken to song-writing, leading to a less metallic sound than Anodyne, but one still fulfilling for fans of post-hardcore and punk. As a trio, they make better use of their abilities than most five-piece bands. Their shit sounds (if nothing else) full.

Tombs' cite Swans, My Bloody Valentine, Emperor, Burzum, and Godflesh as some of their many influences. The self-titled debut seems more akin to their shoegaze and no-wave forefathers, where the split LP (with Europe's Planks) has a more overt black metal influence.

Since recording their sophomore album (my most anticipated release of 2009), the band has recruited the former drummer of NY's recently departed grindcore band Asra.

After seeing the band last week I can assure that 1) This new addition benefits us all, and 2) The new album, Winter Hours is going to blow minds. Keep an eye out for it.

With Cursed calling it a day in 2008, Tombs are officially my favorite current band.

Trap Them, Seizures in Barren Paradise (Deathwish Inc.)

While less grind-influenced than their debut LP Sleepwell Deconstructor (read: fewer blast-beats), Trap Them have found their true voice.
The band are bridging the divides between blazingly fast metal, crust-punk, hardcore, and noise-rock; and I think with more success than many of their contemporaries.

Ryan McKenney's lyrics are as bitter and chilling as ever, and the band has hit their stride. Great record, great layout, great band.

Walls, Walls (Painkiller)
One-Sided 12” (Iron Lung)

Basically, this is the new Cold Sweat band. Members of Iron Lung, Cold Sweat, and Akimbo playing slow, noisy punk in the vein of Flipper, later Black Flag, The Butthole Surfers. The newer LP was also great, but has faster and more hardcore songs with a more Rorschach sort of feel. Discordant and vaguely depressing. I love this band.

Saw them at Nara Sushi in Richmond last Month with Cough, Snack Truck, and Sweat Lodge. Walls stole the show and played the best set I saw all year. Given the opportunity, check them out live. Even if you're not into the albums, you need to see this.

Runners Up…

- Boris, Smile (Southern Lord)
- Breathing Fire, Years of Lead (Painkiller)
- Ceremony, Still Nothing Moves You (Bridge 9)
- Coffins, Buried Death (20 Buck Spin)
- Cursed, III: Architect of Troubled Sleep (Goodfellow)
- Devour, Devour (Solid State)
- Endless Blockade, Primitive (20 Buck Spin)
- Faithhealer, Bound and Chained (Inkblot)
- Fight Amp, Hungry for Nothing (Translation Loss)
- Grails, Doomsayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence)
- Hooded Menace, Fulfill the Curse (Razorback)
- Leviathan, Massive Conspiracy Against All Life (Moribound Cult)
- Moss, Sub-Templum (Rise Above)
- Portishead, Third (Mercury)
- Socialcide, Unapproachable (Even Worse)


- Bookburner, Bookburner 7” (16Oh)
- Double Negative, Raw Energy EP (Sorry State)
- Logic Problem, Logic Problem 7” (Sorry State)
- Hatred Surge, Servant b/w Bestial 7” (Deer Healer)
- Mentally Challenged, Doctors, Lawyers, Cops and Priests 7” (Self-Released) and Regressor, Pt. 1 Cassette (Painkiller)
- Mind Eraser, The Prodigal Son Brings Death 7" (Youngblood)
- Moutheater/Vegas, Split 7” (Thrashed)
- Sex/Vid, Nests 7” (Dom America)
- Spanish Bombs, Beasts: Man Is God EP (Self-Released)
- Surroundings/Pellinore, World Darkness Split 10”

I still haven't checked any of these albums out, but I have high hopes for each of them...

- Blank Stare, Blank Stare (Third Party/Refuse)
- David Byrne & Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Todo Mundo)
- Failures, Failures (Youth Attack)
- Hostage Calm, Lens (Redscroll)
- Ocean, Pantheon of the Lesser (Important)
- Protestant, The Hate, The Hollow. (Halo of Flies)
- Sex/Vid, Communal Living (Dom America)

For you, our reader, I've compiled a mix with songs from most of these releases. Sorry, no Nadja or Moss... the half our songs tipped the scale too much.

Happy Holidays! (Link Fixed!)

Oh, and I'd love to hear what the other contributors think as well.