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Staff Picks: June 18, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Television Personalities: ...And Don't the Kids Just Love It 12" (Fire)

Last week we got in a fresh reissue of one of my favorite records of all time: …And Don’t the Kids Just Love It, the debut LP from Television Personalities. I could be wrong, but I get the impression that Television Personalities' most well-known music is their first EP, Where’s Bill Grundy Now?, which features the title track and the all-time classic “Part Time Punks.” That EP is great and those songs are classics, but on that EP I think the actual songwriting gets overshadowed by the lyrics, which are among the first self-referential meta-commentaries on punk (a tradition that continues to this day, not the least with North Carolina’s own ISS). On ADTKJLI, however, the band’s songwriting packs atomic force. “The Angry Silence?” “The Glittering Prizes?” “World of Pauline Lewis?” “Geoffrey Ingram?” “Look Back in Anger?” In my mind, punk has produced very few pop nuggets that eclipse these songs. While those are just the highlights, the album also includes moodier moments like “Silly Girl” and “La Grande Illusion” and playful psychedelia like “I Know Where Syd Barret Lives” and “Jackanory Stories,” giving this album a three-dimensionality that makes it feel like a journey, as all great albums should. It’s a shame Fire Records releases are expensive here in the States (a problem that has also affected another one of my favorite bands, Leatherface), but as the saying goes, this one would be a bargain at twice the price.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Battlefields: 4 Track Demo cassette (self-released)

New demo from this band made up of members from US and Canada (I think?). It’s safe to assume the band name was lifted from one the most raging Iconoclast songs. Musically, this reference-point isn’t too far off either. With the recent Iconoclast reissue on Sealed, you can finally hear the band’s early recordings in high fidelity. That said, there was something magical about hearing the rage and power when those songs from their demo were still totally muffled and blown-out. Battlefields seems to have taken this approach to heart, because this tape is totally fucked up sounding. Crushing, catchy and raging fast riffs are obscured by a veil of noise. The tape honestly sounds like they stuck one microphone in the middle of a room, plugged it into an old 4-track and recorded everything pushed all the way into the red. The pulse and hits of the drums are almost unintelligible. Still, you can feel the energy of the band playing. This demo doesn’t feel overworked or overthought -- it comes across more like an urgent attempt to make something furious and intense. Don’t worry about artfully putting together songs as part of your “craft”. Make raging hardcore by any means necessary…

Staff Picks: Eric

Bad Religion: Against the Grain 12" (Epitaph)

The other day I scooped a few original pressings I have wanted in my collection for a while: Bad Religion: Against the Grain, Bad Religion: Suffer, and Minor Threat: Out Of Step (with misprint black back cover... it's so fucking sick). Needless to say, I've been spinning these on repeat for the past few days. As much as I love all three records, the one I keep going back to is Against the Grain (plus no one wants to hear me review Minor Threat, how fuckin' whacky would that be?).

Against the Grain is Bad Religion's fifth studio album. It is the last album of what Jeff refers to as "The Holy Trifecta": Suffer, No Control, and ATG. This record feels darker than the others; to me it seems like there are more minor chord structures in these songs. Moreover, Greg Graffin sings with intensity and conviction I don't hear on other albums. I have always been a sucker for BR's infectious "woahs" and "ahhhs"; Greg Graffin has a natural sense of harmony and it shines on this record in a way that is still aggressive and punk. The guitar work feels haunting (check out "Anesthesia" for instance, plus, it has a badass sad/heavy outro). An interesting thing I learned while doing some light background research for my staff pick is that ATG is one of few BR records to feature songs that aren't written by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz.

Bad Religion isn't for everyone. Many people fuck with their early 80s HC material, which is great (don't get me wrong), but to understand Bad Religion's influence on contemporary punk you gotta work your way through their discography (arguably this era of the band defined their sound moving forward). If you're into melodic punk but haven't dived into Bad Religion, I think Against the Grain is a great place to start.

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hello friends, we are making steps to begin “normal” operations here at the store but at least for one more week let’s have another edition of Dom’s Digs, shall we? Those of you who are regulars to the newsletter will know the drill by now but for the newbies, basically I have been going through our cache of bargain bin records and pulling out interesting and good titles for your potential enjoyment. These are records that normally only in-store customers would see. I try to mix it up genre wise and most if not all are in excellent condition. A full list is viewable here and a quick flip video is posted to our social media. Okay, here are a dozen out of a fresh batch of thirty I pulled for you this week.
 
1: $5 The Yardbirds: Original Recordings 1963-1968. A cheap and cheerful German compilation of some fine Yardbirds recordings. Starts with the great The Train Kept A Rolling and is worth it for that track alone. This is the band that had Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in it at the same time and previously featured Eric Clapton as guitarist in case you were wondering.

2: $5 Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene. A classic in electronic music. Not quite Kraftwerk but still enjoyable music and great to have in the background to relax to. This was a huge hit and put Jarre on the map back in the late 70’s.

3: $4 Roberta Flack: The Best Of. Modern listeners know her from The Fugees cover of Killing Me Softly but there is plenty more to dig and enjoy here, including The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and her duets with Donny Hathaway. Beautiful copy this too.

4: $5 Delaney & Bonnie” The Best Of. This duo covered a lot of ground musically, from country to soul making stops at folk, blues and rock along the way. Buddies of Clapton and were in the movie Vanishing Point. I have always loved the track When The Battle Is Over which leads this collection. Features Duane Allman on some tracks and a whole host of big session players.

5: $4 B.B. King: 20 Greatest Hits. To repeat a line I use often, every household should have some B.B. King in it. The King of the blues. This is a pretty tight Italian collection of twenty prime King sides.

6: $4 The Beat: What Is? Or the English Beat as they are known this side of the pond. Such a great band and one of the original ska groups that came out of the Two-Tone movement. This collection has non-album singles and live tracks along with the hits like Mirror In The Bathroom and my personal fave Twist & Crawl.

7: $5 Muddy Waters: Rock Me. Back to the blues with the great Muddy Waters and this Dutch collection of ten of his killer blues sides. No thrills package but all you need is the music.

8: $5 Various Artists: Blues From The Fields Into The Town. This German produced collection has some cool country blues sides and hot Chicago type blues cuts. Makes for a good blues primer for those new to the genre but will appeal to more seasoned listeners too.

9: $4 Mott The Hoople: Greatest Hits. If you don’t own any of the albums this is the perfect introduction to the band. Includes All The Young Dudes, written for them by David Bowie but Ian Hunter shows that he knew how to write a song too.

10: $5 Various Artists: The Best Of Disney. Pretty cool double album of prime Disney movie soundtrack highlights. Well worth the five bones.

11: $5 Stray Cats: Built For Speed. The US version of their first album with different tracks and running order to the UK pressing that included later single sides. So many good songs on this including their awesome cover of the Eddie Cochran cut Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie where Brian Setzer shows his guitar playing chops. Rockabillies Rule OK.

12: $5 ZZ Top: Fandango. Another American trio that rule, the ‘Top of the 70’s mixed blues and hard rock with Tex-Mex flavors to great effect. This one from 1975 has them at the mid-point of their career, is partly live and a fun play.
 
Alright, there you have it. Another dozen cheap but cheerful platters needing a good home. Remember music is your best friend and will reward with repeated listening time and time again. It’s also one of the best ways to expose yourself to other cultures, people, races and political stripes. You can get quite a good education from playing records folks. Thanks for following along and get in touch with us if you want any of these or the other titles in this week’s batch. Cheers!

Staff Picks: Usman

Systematic racism is so mechanized, sometimes it’s hard to understand each individual cog. Regardless of how "woke" you think you are, you will inherently play a role as an oppressor. I was born as a man, and I do my best to watch my footsteps. I also try to reflect on the path I have taken. Reflection allows me to actively address and combat misogynies embedded into my brain and inform my action. But this doesn’t make me exempt from being a misogynist. Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I am an anarchist. But this doesn’t change the fact that all men, including me, are misogynists. Or the fact that all white people are racist. You cannot escape your privilege. To try and do so means you refuse to acknowledge the plight of the oppressed. Feel me? Anyway, I say this stuff cos in these trying times there’s a lot more important things you can do and read to help understand your role as an oppressor and use your privilege to help your community and protect the human targets around you. The difference between punk/hc and other “music” is that punk is a revolutionary movement, a state of mind. Yes, I buy pieces of plastic (records) but in the plastic grooves you will hear thought-provoking, insurrectionary ideas. And in the papers that surround the plastic you will find words and images that critique society while addressing the privileges we bask in at the expense of marginalized populations. Punk is the only subculture I know where you can travel (almost) anywhere in the world and find like-minded strangers who will give you a spot to sleep and something to eat. Punk is the only subculture I know that practices acceptance of all people, except those who are intolerant of others. Punk is about learning and teaching, punk is about recognizing social injustices and taking action against them! In punk there is no hierarchy (except for those pretentious assholes who seem to be having an identity crisis..move along tourist!) In punk, we work TOGETHER to reach goals. If the entire world adopted a "punk" lifestyle, maybe we would not live in such a sad place. I will never stop being punk and buying records. It may sound weird to say it's important to buy something, but I believe it's important to buy records, especially from current bands/labels! It is integral to our lifestyle to support bands and labels. If that were to stop, then punk would ultimately stop… look what happened to MRR. When a culture dies, its ideologies and practices will soon be ideas of the past. Anyway, this a record review not a “political” platform..

Löckheed Conflict Delirium EP (Blown Out Media)

I recently got this EP in a trade with the label. It’s the kind of EP I put on and then continually flip over the course of the afternoon cos I just can't get enough. Grooving Discharge-beat locked into the blown-to-hell buzzsaw guitars and its near-perfect production makes this record stand out. The riffs are straightforward, but the drums and guitar parts compliment each other. Certain elements of the EP remind me of 偏執症者 (Paranoid)'s Satyagraha 12” (which is a hands-down unfuckwithable album; I'm sure you’ve all heard it). Sorry State will have this EP in stock soon as well as a restock on the Project GBG EP.

Various Artists: Pultti EP (Pultti – GLASH-1)

I recently got this EP with a few Skitkids records. Skitkids rule and you should listen to 'em immediately if you have not! I think I have all their records, but I was getting some duplicates to send to a friend. To be honest, when I first saw the Pultti EP I had not heard of it, but when I saw Appendix and Maho Neityst were on it, I was sold! The record was released by the vocalist of Maho Neitsyt, Pexi, in 1982. It is the only release on his label, Pultti. This compilation features two Appendix songs from the 1982 LP but with the vocalist before Mikki! I didn’t even know they had a vocalist before him!! So cool. The tracks are more raw in production and played a bit slower. The vocalist sounds so much like Mikki that I had doubts it was a different vocalist, but I read a bio about the EP that says it’s a different person. To cross-reference, according to Discogs, Appendix had vocalist named Olli, but it doesn’t specify on what albums. Aside from the tracks from Appendix and Maho Neitsyt, it features three other exclusive tracks from obscure Finnish bands such as Nato, Etuala, and Antikeho. Appendix were the first "trallpunk" band I had ever heard, so I was very excited to hear these early recordings. Maho Neitsyt is a band I have developed an affinity for later in life. The thing about trallpunk is it's played too HC to seem like "pop punk" and Swedish naturally sounds more aggressive than English, so it is easy for me to separate the idea that Appendix sounds like pop punk. Unlike Maho Neityst. Ive always hated poppy sounding bands, I even hated the Ramones when I was a young punk haha. Maho Neityst has pretty much all "poppy" or catchy riffs, but all the recordings are blown out as shit and the main thing is the vocalist is fucking brutal. The contrast is so sick. It's like the same idea where Gai (Japan) has riffs that sound ridiculous (in a catchy way) but they are plastered with disgusting vocals. Nato and Antikeho both have tracks on the Russia Bombs Finland compilation (Propaganda) and Etuala's appearance on this record is their only vinyl appearance!


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