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Staff Picks: March 26, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

I’ve been working so much that I have had little time for my typical routine of listening to a record or two while I unwind at night, so what I covered in this week’s Featured Release Roundup is more or less my playlist for the week. However, since many people are cooped up with time to kill, I thought I would recommend a few of my favorite podcasts:

You Don’t Know Mojack
http://www.mojackpod.com/

The conceit of this podcast is that the two hosts—two charming, music-obsessed Canadians—go through the entire SST Records catalog, with one episode devoted to each release. They’re doing the catalog in order, and they’ve now done well over 100 episodes. They are insanely thorough and often have guest interviews that provide information you can’t find anywhere else. This podcast is so fun that I devour every episode whether they’re talking about bands I love like Black Flag or the Descendents or bands I’ve never heard and probably never will, like Zoogz Rift. This is one of those things like The Best Show that might seem bewildering to an outsider, but once you’re hooked, it’s your favorite thing ever.

Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio
https://dynamitehemorrhage.com/

Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio is the podcast arm of the long-running zine Dynamite Hemorrhage. Jay Hinman, the man behind both enterprises, is insanely knowledgeable about music, but if you created a Venn diagram of our backgrounds and tastes, they’d only have about a 20% overlap. He’s well-versed in 90s garage and UKDIY (areas I know a little about, but not a ton), so every episode leads me to check out several bands I knew nothing about. His tastes skew toward the intellectual and arty (the overlap with what Sorry State carries would be labels like Ever/Never, Digital Regress, and C/Site), so if that interests you, you should check out this podcast.

Garbage in My Heart
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/garbage-in-my-heart/id1435736809

If Dynamite Hemorrhage overlaps with my wheelhouse about 20% of the time, Garbage in My Heart is about 90%. That means they play a ton of music I love, with emphasis on the kinds of things that Sorry State carries. If you’ve always yearned for a podcast version of the Sorry State newsletter, this is as close a version as you’ll find, and it’s extremely well produced.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
https://www.earwolf.com/show/conan-obrien/

Definitely the most mainstream selection here, I had to include it because it’s been my favorite podcast for the past few months. Conan O’Brien is hilarious, and the loose, unscripted podcast format plays to his strengths. I’ve gathered that Conan ruffled some feathers in the podcast community because his show has gotten so much attention, but I think that’s less because of his material resources and more because the show is just that good.

Life During Wartime
https://kboo.fm/program/life-during-wartime

You might remember me promoting this show a few weeks ago when I was a guest, but I still listen to every episode even if I’m not on it. They have killer bands play live in the studio (the podcast is based in Portland so they have a pretty much bottomless well), and the segments when they play records feel like hanging out with your buddies, slamming beers and cracking wise while you all try to play the coolest stuff for one another.


Bad Reputation
https://www.badreputationpod.com/podcast/

This is a documentary podcast about the history of the Runaways, though it digresses into other related subjects, making it more of a podcast about the history of women in rock music. This one has excellent, NPR-level production, and even features Scott Plant from Droid’s Blood as the voice of Kim Fowley!

The Nimrods Podcast
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/nimrods-podcast-definitive-green-day-discussion-song/id1456010737

Just as the You Don’t Know Mojack podcast goes through the SST Records catalog, The Nimrods Podcast analyzes every single song in Green Day’s extensive catalog. Sometimes the vibe is a little goofy (as you might expect given the hosts are two guys in their early 30s (I think) who are lifelong Green Day fans), but there’s plenty of interesting history and analysis here too.

Noisextra
https://www.noisextra.com/

This one is way outside my wheelhouse, but I still enjoy it. Noisextra started as a show examining Merzbow’s recorded catalog, but a few months ago they expanded their scope to cover other classics of the noise genre. The hosts are extremely knowledgeable, and I’ve learned a ton about noise by listening to this. I just wish the records they talked about weren’t so hard to find…

Lost Notes
https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/lost-notes

Lost Notes is a music history podcast by KCRW, an NPR affiliate in Los Angeles. Each episode tells a different story, sort of like This American Life, but all about music. Probably the best-produced podcast on this list, and even when they’re talking about music I know nothing about it’s still great.

Henry & Heidi
https://henryandheidi.libsyn.com/

This is Henry Rollins’ podcast that he does with his assistant Heidi. I’m a fan of Rollins’ weekly radio show on KCRW, but there’s no music on this one. Instead, Heidi proposes a topic and Henry just talks about it until he runs out of steam. Some of my favorite episodes have been about Henry’s experiments with LSD, his experiences on the Lolapalooza tour, and his relationship with Black Sabbath and its members. You need to have some degree of Rollins tolerance to enjoy this one, but if you’re a fan, this is essential.

Staff Picks: Jeff

We’ve spending a lot of time at the store listing a bunch of our used inventory on the webstore. One record I always find myself coming back to is the self-titled album by Government Issue from 1986. I love this record. I remember my copy was gifted to me for (I think?) my 15th birthday by a good buddy. I was in a phase of just getting deeper and deeper into hardcore punk. My buddy who bought me the record had this funny anecdote about how when he was in the record store, he overheard another person who was more or less talking shit on the record. Basically, this random guy in the store was saying, “Well yeah, but that’s not GI’s good stuff.” My buddy still got it for me anyway, and honestly, I hadn’t heard Legless Bull yet, so it made no difference to me. As I’ve gotten older, I acknowledge that it’s not exactly an intense or aggressive record, but I think the songwriting -- and particularly the guitar playing -- is great on this record. To me, it’s a classic GI record. The intro track “Visions and ?” still gives me chills. I still have the same copy I got when I was 15 and don’t really plan on getting rid of it. If you want a great, but maybe a less well-known, listen from a classic DC punk band, you definitely can’t beat it for $10.

Staff Picks: Eric

Hate Preachers: Bile Of Progress cassette (Suck Blood)

Absolutely raging hardcore punk from some of the same folks that brought you Blazing Eye, Cruelty Bomb, etc. This sits somewhere between 80s Scandinavian HC and UK82. Very interesting and quick moving riffs while still being pounding and powerful. Plus, this recording is absolutely perfect, I wish all bands would sonically sound like this. I was fortunate enough to see this band in LA last year and they were great, not to mention it's also refreshing to see a great hardcore 3 piece!

Chained Bliss: Stained Red cassette (self-released)

My roommate was jamming this cassette while we were doing our post apocalyptic grocery store run. It's melodic punk I can get behind. My gut reaction is to call it somewhere between Masshysteri and The Marked Men (and I fuckin' love that kinda shit). The guitars are crunchy and chorusy, the vocals are snotty and harmonious, and that drummer's hi-hat hand stays rockin' those 16th notes. This one caught me by surprise, I highly recommend!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Echo And The Bunnymen: Crocodiles (Sire) 1980

The current world situation definitely sucks and I would be lying if I hadn’t thought for a second about whether I might be one of those that doesn’t make it, what with my weak lungs and proclivity to catching colds and all. The only way I can chase those thoughts out of my mind is to replace them with the music that I love. I am always listening to music new and old, but right now it has been a return to the classics and records that I grew up with and have loved since I first heard them. My pick this week is the fantastic Crocodiles by Echo and the Bunnymen.

You may have picked up on the fact that I like Liverpool. The city and people, the football club and particularly the music scene. Obviously the 60’s Mersey Beat scene that birthed the Beatles is foremost in most people’s minds when they think of music from Liverpool, but in the late 70’s and early 80’s some of the best and most interesting sounds were coming out of Merseyside. Two of my favorite groups being Echo and label mates on Korova in the beginning, The Teardrop Explodes. Both these groups I followed and tried to buy their records as soon as they came out.

Crocodiles was released in 1980 on the Korova label in the UK and Sire here in the US. It was the group’s debut. Early versions were ten track affairs but a few months later in the UK a bonus 7” was included with two additional tracks, Do It Clean and Read It In Books. The US Sire version came with those two tracks included and all subsequent versions did too. Apparently a record exec at the time didn’t like those two tracks, thinking them rude.

Side note: The Teardrop Explodes’ version of Books is probably the better version of the tune in my opinion and you should check it out and see whether you agree.

To my young ears at the time and still today, the record just sounded different from most of the stuff coming out at the time and the combination of the band’s look and the lyrics really enforced that. Ian McCulloch had a cool presence from the get go and combined the best of Jim Morrison and David Bowie in his vocal delivery and style. The band itself was killer. Will Sergeant on guitar brought fresh exciting riffs. Les Pattison on bass was like a rock and formed a formidable rhythm section with late joiner Pete de Freitas on drums. Crocodiles was the blueprint and cornerstone that the band built on with each subsequent release and as much as I like all their records, this is the essential one in my book and should be in your collection also. So glad that Do It Clean was restored to the album also as this song rules.

Luckily for you we have a copy for sale here at Sorry State currently. Not that it is a tough LP to find, but take a look at our web store and see if we still have it if you need.

Big Boss Man: Last Man On Earth (Blow Up Records) 2014

A Modern take on 60’s Soul Jazz grooves this week from me. A record that came out a few years back but could be the lost soundtrack to a cool cult movie from the late sixties or early seventies if you didn’t know otherwise. I picked up a copy at a local store here in Raleigh (Nice Price Books, check ‘em out) and have spun it several times since and am really digging it.

Big Boss Man is a four piece from England led by Nasser Bouzida who also aliases as The Bongolian. Their sound is Mod and very sixties influenced, taking in Jazz, Soul, Latin, Psych and Soundtrack vibes as a starting point and adding subtle touches here and there to keep things relevant and fresh. In my opinion they do a very good job at this.  Last Man On Earth is the groups fourth full length from 2014, their first LP coming out circa 2000. I became aware of them and the aforementioned Bongolian records from the Mod scene and from buying most things that came out on Blow Up Records at the time. That label is a fantastic source for cool and groovy Mod sounds and I would recommend picking up most if not all of their releases if and when you see them.

On Last Man On Earth they expand their sound further and add a female vocalist, Princess Freesia on two tracks including the title and delve deeper into the world of Music Library and Soundtrack type sounds. As you listen you will hear shades of Roy Budd and his work on the Get Carter Soundtrack and the late sixties work of Georgie Fame. I also picked up elements of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack and the vibe from those great Norman Whitfield produced Motown records and the ones made by Charles Stepney at Cadet. The latter two being names that I know I have spoken about before and will keep singing their praises to the heavens as they were so great. In addition, there are little borrowed touches from other great songs, for instance you definitely can hear the Nancy Sinatra Boots bass line in a song. I love all these influences and think it makes for a great mix on the record. I really do feel like I am listening to several of my favorite records as I play this one. They are not reinventing the wheel with this one by any means but have done a very nice job putting together an album that will appeal to all of you who dig some grooves in addition to your heavier punk sounds. Shouldn’t be too hard to score yourselves a copy either which is always nice. Cheers!

Staff Picks: Ava

This record is just straight up BRUTAL and the most crushing og death metal i've heard this year. Disembowel will take you on a trip of audial brutality with this full length which came out early March, 2020. Coming out on Maggot Stomp Records, this 34 minute masterpiece is sure to make you press repeat, go ahead and support these guys!


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