Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Blimp

Not Beer 12" EP

Violet Times Records [2012]

The Blimp are a few dudes and a chick from Eugene, Oregon who supposedly named themselves after the Captain Beefheart track of the same title. Visually, the album comes across as one of those lost oddball SST or Homestead Lps from the mid 80's that you could easily scoop up for under five bucks in any store that carried punk and alternative vinyl. The four tracks on this one-sided 12" clank and slam like bumbling dadaists warding off imminent mental breakdowns. The record features songs about boobs and beer and dead things, and The Blimp frantically try to stay focused enough to endure the tumultuous and brazen song path they lead each listener down. Not Beer comes off as a whirlwind of modern drunk/art/outdoor punk suitable for any perma-haze college-failed longhair.

-Jeff Ogiba

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Split 7" EP

Self-Released (Deathwish Direct / The Armageddon Label)

About two weeks ago I needed to add a jolt to my Friday night so I could stay up past 10pm and play video games. The six minute round-trip drive to the convenience store needed the perfect soundtrack and my choice was equal parts nostalgic, moody, and cathartic: DROPDEAD's 1993 self-titled album. As soon as I heard those buzz saw guitars and that pitch-perfect screech, I knew I'd made the right choice, but I couldn't help but to wonder what DROPDEAD had been up to lately. Cut to a crowded record store the following weekend, my fingers rifling through the New 7" bin, I spot something that almost seems like a dream concocted by a 16-year-old me using some kid of primitive Photoshop. The Converge/DROPDEAD split 7", a sure-to-be earsplitting oasis in a desert of half-hearted one-offs and Johnny-come-lately's. Two of my absolute favorite bands since I first got into hardcore, celebrating their shared 20 year history in music. I doubt the 7" would have been $7.99 in '92, but let's leave that discussion for another day. I've considered Converge the best modern hardcore band since the days when Petitioning the Empty Sky would lay on the floor mat of my friend's car as we left school for a quick record store trip before band practice. "Runaway" won't surprise anyone who's kept up all these years. It's a frantic yet meticulous pummeling where Jacob Bannon's voice (something like a possessed jaguar gargling lava) and Kurt Ballou's guitar work remain their unassailable best. DROPDEAD's cut, "Paths of Glory", was at first somewhat underwhelming, but after repeat listens I've realized it's just that a minute and thirty-nine seconds felt like a tease - they haven't lost a step. I've spent half my life happily toiling in the lovably cantankerous world of punk and hardcore, and to see something like this come along is almost indescribable. I may no longer leave shows with a messenger bag full of merch, but this record should put a genuine smile on the face of anyone who's ever cared about "the scene".

-Brian Muirhead

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

V/A 7"

The World's Lousy With Ideas Volume 9

Almost Ready Records [2012]

Here's yet another fantastic volume from ARR's rapidly growing catalog. The World's Lousy with Ideas Vol. 9 is far from lousy as a compilation; the record features three exciting bands who each provide one strong, definitive track. Cheater Slicks, the noisy garage rockers who turned 25 as band this year own the A side with the slow burner "Silver Fox". Side B features "Men Don't Cry", a sassy, punchy, feel good rock song by UK glam boys, Thee Spivs, and "Singing in the Shower", a dirty indie rock track by 80's indie pop legend Ron House's group, Psandwich. TWLWI vol. 9, comes off as more of a triple A-side than anything else and it's sure to please fans of any or all groups or genres mentioned here within.

-Jeff Ogiba

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Life Stays Great 7"

Let's Pretend Records / Houseplant Records [2012]

Yesterday, my good pal was generous enough to gift me this single along with Parlor's first s/t LP. He had me check out the LP before the 7" because he had "already heard the album and it's great so let's go with that". My initial response was that I instantly knew that Parlor was a landlocked surf-influenced rock group. On their debut LP, the group came off as a bunch of indie rockers in the windy city daydreamin' about waves they'd have to drive 2,000 miles in any direction to actually encounter. It excited me to know that even more groups were journeying this successful and trendy path, but that Parlor was approaching their sound with a subtlety that didn't cue the horrid smell and feel of gritty sand-polluted suntan lotion. When my friend left, I investigated the single alone. This new split label release, aptly titled Life Stays Great , speaks for the band's growth as a group who are distinctly remaining creatively gravid while exploring new sounds. On LSG, Parlor hardly dabbles in sunshine and seagulls, and all four songs take a hard cold turn toward a dancier post-punk ideal a la Aussie boppers Love of Diagrams or legendary Georgians, Pylon. All four songs are tighter, vocals are often doubled and hardened, and the overall vibe of the songs are more mechanical versus the group's previous approach as lemonade-drinking hammock swingers. Whatever Parlor's next move is might surprise, but if it compares to what they've tracked so far, it's going to be juuust fine.

-Jeff Ogiba

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sean Bones

Here Now 7"

S/S Friends [2012]

As someone who has always judged the proverbial book by its cover, what exactly can I expect from a band/artist called Sean Bones? Weed-centric post-reggae jams? An awkwardly modern Bobby 'Boris' Pickett? As phenomenal as those may sound, it would appear that Mr. Bones is firmly entrenched in the kind of indie pop that is inescapable these days. "Here Now", the A-side of this makeshift 45, is an infectious and charming piano-driven ditty that I could easily see over the closing credits of a better-than-average rom-com. The shimmery production and laid back delivery recall early Brendan Benson or something off The Thrills' Teenager album. "Hit Me Up", the cringe-inducingly titled B-side, isn't quite as fun as its counterpart, but works in its own way. It's rather (dare I say...) tropical and could those actually be steel drums I hear? The plucky reverb and relaxed vibe conjure a driving-with-windows-down feeling, which is useless to overanalyze. What really sold me on this record was the mysteriously DIY packaging: a plain cardboard sleeve with pasted artwork, and "49/100" scrawled on the back cover. My musical history is riddled with classics that blend the DIY aesthetic/ethos with unapologetic pop, and seeing as how that term has been dragged through the mud for decades now, it's always exciting to find something like this. There was a special effort to put into this release, and not get overly sentimental, but there's something to be said for that. Of course, if the music was garbage nothing else would matter, but this happens to be a solid little record and you could do a lot worse than to grab one of the other 99 copies floating around out there.

-Brian Muirhead

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sonic Avenues

Television Youth

Dirtnap Records [2012]

Oh lord, here comes another generic mid-tempo melodic contemporary indie punk band, right? Wrong. This record fucking rules! This is the second LP by Canadians Sonic Avenues and it sounds more or less like Jay Reatard and The Marked Men covering '78 UK punk. It has the "We sing, play, and record through an oscillating fan" sound that everyone loves (I, included) and it essentially all comes off as a radical, fun time. It's the type of music that evokes an image of bright stripped shirt wearing mods bopping around in an all white room flashing sets of knobby teeth and bowl cut hair. Flash forward to current-day reality and Sonic Avenues are just another great group with another great record who seem to channel their amicable musical influences via solid, interesting songs.

-Jeff Ogiba

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Zola Jesus

In Your Nature 7"

Sacred Bones [2012]

Zola Jesus continues to rule her own brand of washy, dreamy indie with a new and impressive move, one after another. If she isn't teaming up with a classic cult music hero of mine she's popping up in a professional photo shoot, sporting some tasteful and dramatic pose. "In Your Nature" happens to be a single off of her 2011 LP, Conatus, and what originally appeared as the seventh song on the eleven track album can be purchased after the fact as a true "single". The song took three listens for me to catch on, but now the memory of it seems to whisper to me, begging for another listen. The b-side is the same song, remixed by the legendary David Lynch. Although I didn't hear much of a difference between the two songs, I'm sure Mr. Lynch sneaked something in there that I will realize at a later date, thus increasing future playback value of the entire 45.

-Jeff Ogiba

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Troubled Sleep

Poltergeist 7" EP

Ripe [2012]

It's always refreshing to discover a contemporary indie group that obviously cares more about their music and having fun than pretentious overtones associated with most current releases - especially here in Brooklyn, NY. Troubled Sleep nail four soothing female fronted indie jams on their debut 45, Poltergeist. The songs could have been written by some of my favorite bands who were released in the late 90's on then game-changing labels like Polyvinyl or Big Wheel Recreation. Troubled Sleep come off as melodic and honest, and although my first impression was that their sound may be a decade and half too late, I'm now realizing that they might just be doing one of the great things that happens naturally in the evolution of sound: Perfecting the past.

-Jeff Ogiba

Friday, March 16, 2012


Treehouse EP

Small Plates Records [2012]

Sporting an autumnal color palette and symmetrical nature scene on its sleeve, and boasting to be the work of a "bored Philly dog walker", I had a fairly strong sense of what to expect from Gracie's Treehouse EP. However, after giving this honey-hued 12" a couple spins, I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't some bizarro-for-the-sake-of-being-bizarro folk recording, or another aimlessly ambient noise project. What it turned out to be was a solid little collection residing somewhere between Gang Gang Dance at their mellowest and something a witch might listen to on vacation. The five tracks on Treehouse swirl in a vortex of drum loops, twinkling pianos and synths, and vocals barely (yet confidently) overcoming a stage-frightened whisper. "Candii" and "Tryck r Treat" are standouts, but more importantly, as a whole this record succeeds as a cohesive, fluid, and earnestly sweet release that could connect with anyone - be they rabid vinyl junkies, people who haven't bought a record since The Postal Service, or that goth cousin you only see at Christmas. Anyone with a penchant for quiet avant-pop will be happy to discover Treehouse, and although it may not get the party started by doing ironic keg stands, it will be waiting near the back of the stack… ready to perfectly close out the night.

- Brian Muirhead

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Inward Eye

Lost Treasures of the Underworld [2012]

I had no idea what I was getting into when I threw this one down on the turntable. Before committing to listening, I became so intrigued with the appearance of this record that I tried for a few days to figure out exactly what in the hell it was that I was going to be listening to. The cover art looked like something that The Cure would have released in the early 90's as a limited run of a 12" single off of the album, Wish - but it wasn't that. I don't know if I was straining my eyes to read the spiraling handwritten, hand-screened information on the back or what, by my brain just could not process anything. I was giving up - I had no idea who the group was, what label the record was released on, or any other pertinent information I felt that I required in order to warm up and fully check this record out. When I finally put the album on, it was almost like my brain back-engineered the entire knowledge required for a complete understanding of the product. The album was spacious, almost quiet and peaceful at moments. Strange noises jumped across my speakers while a dull humming and a subtle whistle echoed in my living room. My mind could finally relax. It felt like someone had given me a wonderful gift and wrapped it with way too much paper and tape. Once I was able to break through the mysterious shroud, things really began to pick up and the preliminary all-inclusive stressors that Inward Eye brought my way were officially forgiven.

-Jeff Ogiba

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


"Slug" b/w "Yea, Yea"

Sire Records [2012]

Thirty-five years later, you can finally have two unreleased Ramones tracks, complete with new layout artwork on one high quality 45. "Slug", an outtake from their 1977 classic, Rocket To Russia can be found on the first side, and "Yea, Yea", a demo off of Ramones' 1978 LP, Road To Ruin can be found on the flip. Both songs deliver the classic melodic rock sounds you'd expect from one of punk rock's founding groups, and you have to admit that this beauty would look so nice in your what-you-thought-was-complete Ramones vinyl discography.

-Jeff Ogiba

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



PPM [2012]

I had no idea what to expect from this one. Judging by the cover and the band name, I figured the group HAD to be indie and more than likely would be noisy, minimal, or both. I wasn't far off. Noctiluca by Los Angeles trio, Dunes fits somewhere between a Best Coast demo and an early 80's Siouxsie and the Banshees full length. The group is female fronted and packed with swirly, surfy guitars and ethereal and vividly visual lyrics. Despite the group's West Coast vibe, I could see myself listening to this record year round - come tropical weather or paralyzing snowfall.

-Jeff Ogiba

Sunday, March 11, 2012

makestapes/birdlikebats split 7"

no label [2012]

My girl grabbed this one for me in response to a note on the sleeve which read: "Self-released Bed-Stuy hip hop". Naturally, she chose the record based on that attractive information and considering that we live on the far cusp of Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill Brooklyn… somewhere right between the ODB mural and the shop fronts where Biggie did his infamous street battling. Since there is minimal information on this single (besides the group and song names), I did a little research and found out that this split record contained two tracks, one each from a Texas group and Brooklyn, NY group, "makestapes" and"birdlikebats" respectively. Both sides play well. "Blindfold" by makestapes starts with repetitive guitar strum reminiscent of a mid-80's track by Echo and the Bunnymen or The Church. The song continues to breaks into a classic hip hop beat and is eventually nicely decorated with a melodic and distorted guitar solo which gracefully finds its way into and out of the song's groove. The end product is something that reminds me of an instrumental version of "Long Hot Summer" by The Style Council, or even that Washed Out song used in the intro of the show, Portlandia. I don't know if that's something anyone wants to be compared to right now, but I mean it as a compliment. "My Corner Office Combust" by birdlikebats can be found right around the corner on side B. This song is another instrumental track with ambient moments and interesting samples that have a soft industrial sound (if that's even possible). The tempo of "My Corner Office Combust" reels back and forth and leaves me reminded of a track I swear I heard at the end of one of my favorite late 90's indie records (also a compliment). The record may not have turned out to be a rhyme-laced journal of Brooklyn street life like I first expected based on the enclosed note, but I am pleasantly surprised by this indie hip hop meets chillwave split and isn't discovery what it's all about?

-Jeff Ogiba

Saturday, March 10, 2012

How To Wreck A Nice Beach

Stop Smiling Books [2012]

This is the 7" that was recently released as an accompaniment to Dave Tompkins's comprehensive, historic guidebook of the same name about the electronic speech processor, the vocoder. I could review the book in great detail, but instead I'll stick to the review of the now included record. After reading this, do yourself a favor and learn about the book: HOW TO WRECK A NICE BEACH. Side one of the record starts off strong with Tom Noble's tasteful edit of Geno Jordan's 1982 electro boogie cult jam "You're a Peachtree Freak on Peachtree Street". The song demonstrates an amazingly successful application of the vocoder as both vocals and an instrument simultaneously, without distraction. The flip side of the single includes two more tracks. The first track is an even more obscure 1983 electro boogie track off of AMP records: IZ Army's "Brainwash". This song takes a more minimalist approach to vocoder use than "…Peachtree Freak…" with a similar groove, more repetition and simplified lyrics. The final track exemplifies the most abstract use of the vocoder of all three songs included. "Biters in the City", by Fantasy Three gets showcased as "All You have is Yore Teeth" edit. This 1983 NYC electro gem includes the use of the vocoder as more of a noise instrument by amplifying and distorting sequenced breathing sounds. All of the songs on this record are a perfect fit for HTWANB (and NYC early 80's is pretty prime for this style), but now that Tompkins has me started up, I want to hear volumes more…

-Jeff Ogiba

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Colleen Green

Milo Goes to Compton

Art Fag [2012]

It's a great time to be a solo lo-fi indie artist. You don't need originality, you don't need real song writing skills, and as long as some new hip label decides to pick you and your drum machine up, you're golden. I really wanted to like this record, and I'm sure Colleen Green is a nice young lady, but there are too many things that irk me about this entire project. Firstly, when you cover a band it's an awful idea to include the cover song on an album and even more of a failure to include it as the first track. Sure, you may attract someone who will only drop the needle on the first track and say "Wow, Colleen Green's minimalist cover of "Good Good Things" by Descendents is awesome!" but the reality is that you are now fucking with one of my favorite groups. To add to that disappointment, the album is called Milo Goes to Compton. The only reason there should ever exist a record with that title is the day that Milo Aukerman makes the executive decision to release a Descendents tribute to 90's gangsta rap. And trust me, as great as you think that sounds, it's not happening soon and if it did the group would more than likely disband over it. The rest of this LP has its moments, but even two tracks in you find ANOTHER homage to a classic American punk band with "I Wanna Be Degraded". Guess what that's in reference to. It's albums like this that make me feel like a real dickhead about music and that's something I try tediously not to be while checking out new records (regardless of how much more difficult it seems to get with each passing day). I'm not doubting that Ms. Green has talent, I just wish it was better managed. Decent skills, good non-tribute tracks, horrible umbrella of concepts. I won't turn my back on Colleen Green, but damn it, this is something I'd expect on a mixtape from a fleeting high school crush.

-Jeff Ogiba

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dirty Three

Toward The Low Sun

Drag City [2012]

While Dirty two thirds Warren Ellis and Jim White have been so busy with side projects that they haven't been able to produce a new album until now, seven years since their last, (Ellis, working with Nick Cave projects both group and film related, and White working with legends Bill Callahan and Will Oldham), Toward The Low Sun adds another notch to the group's release belt. Where has Mick Turner been? Painting... mostly in silence (or so it's rumored). Toward the Low Sun comes off as a record created by people with a lot of other things on their plate. It's meandering and unfocused, free jazzy, soft, and relaxing but pointless. There are occasional bursts of rocked out energy, but the album sounds more like a midnight jam session in the studio with an end product most suitable for background music while lethargically splattering enamel on your wannabe Jackson Pollock work in progress.

-Jeff Ogiba

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bonnie Prince Billy

the b-sides for time TO BE CLEAR

Drag City/ Palace [2012]

The music contained therein is rather self explanatory: the b-sides for TIME TO BE CLEAR. "Time to be Clear", the single off of BPB's 2011 LP ,Wolfroy Goes To Town became available as a downloadable bonus song on the Drag City website the same day (2/28/12) of this double b-side single's release. The 7" includes two non-LP tracks "Whipped" and Out of Mind". The label claims that all three songs would not fit, hence the 45 RPM play speed and the clearly packed grooves that run from edge to center on both sides. Money saver? Marketing ploy (get that song out there to the people who are too cheap to buy the full album, but can afford the single)? You decide. I've flipped this record several times now, enjoying each track (and sort of privately hoping that another song would appear out of thin air, not upset just accepting that I may HAVE to actually buy the album now). If you dug Wolfroy…, you will enjoy relaxin to and reflecting on these two spillovers. The King (Elvis Presley) had the first double A-side with "Don't Be Cruel" b/w "Nothing But a Hound Dog" and now Bonnie "Prince" gives you his Double B-side. That's all I will say.

-Jeff Ogiba

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Royal Baths

Better Luck Next Life

Kanine Records [2012]

Royal Baths follow up their debut rocker, Litanies with the dark garage-meets-psychedelic blues LP, Better Luck Next Life. Better Luck Next Life sounds as if it could have been recorded late at night, under very poor light in a cold smoke-filled room. It's what I'd imagine seeing and hearing if Thurston Moore somehow filled in for Lou Reed on an early Velvet Underground performance to a crowd of seven or eight enthralled concertgoers.

-Jeff Ogiba

Friday, March 2, 2012

The New Highway Hymnal

Blackened Hands b/w Hey Kid (Gotta Run)

Vanya Records [2012]

I wasn't super excited about the A side, "Blackened Hands" at first listen. Sounded like a poor quality recording of something I've already heard off of The Gun Club's Miami. My friend overheard the song while I was listening to it and initially disliked it as well, calling it an "INXS performance recorded with a single microphone in an abandoned warehouse". It grew on both of us on the very next listen, and in recent retrospect we remember it as "good". We also both agreed that the B side, "Hey Kid (Gotta Run)" is the prized side of this Boston dream pop rock outfit's two songer. The song has more dynamic changes and interesting guitar work (something of a psych 60's tube amp tone played through an extremely tasteful tangle of effect pedals).

-Jeff Ogiba

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Italian Horn

The Bells of Spring

Dais Records [2012]

If you've lived on the east coast for the past decade and a half and you get into hardcore music, you've more than likely heard the name Anthony Pappalardo. Pappalardo is an inspirational renaissance man of sorts, from writing to performing and producing various genres of music, his arsenal of tricks goes on and on and his creative energy never seems to slow. His latest project is called "Italian Horn" and it comes packaged in the form of a six song 12" EP titled The Bells of Spring. The cover art makes a solid first impression - a collage by none other than GBV's Robert Pollard. Then, there's the actual tracks: half a dozen lo-fi, addictive, swirling, and dreamlike mini-adventures. Imagine getting in late from a bad dinner with food poisoning just setting in. You fumble to put on your favorite nineties indie record but knock one speaker over and twist a bunch of knobs on your receiver. Now visualize what that band would sound like while fading away confused, with your back to the floor and your eyes watching the ceiling fan as it pulls you inward.