Wednesday, June 29, 2016

1970 Cactus

I've been tossing around the idea of reorganizing my record collection for a long time now. Because my listening habits tend to revolve around specific years or time periods, I was curious as to how my record shelves would look if they were organized by year. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, or one that would frustrate me down the road, but the idea sat there in the back of my mind for a couple of years. When I started obsessing over punk from 1977, it seemed to be the catalyst to put my plan into motion. I was really concentrating on specific years, and was curious to see how my shelves would look visually from this organizational perspective.

It obviously made sense to start at the beginning of my collection timeline, and I was soon digging through albums from the year of my birth...1970.

I is what I do...and records from that year quickly dominated my daily playlist, and a number of them started seeing daily action on my iPod. Once I'd broken out my vinyl collection by year, and was looking at only those seven records that I owned from 1970, the albums that I was missing stood out like a sore thumb. The more I immersed myself in my soundtrack from 1970, the more I needed to fill those holes.

When I set out on my mission to try and nail down the remaining 1970 releases that I needed, the debut Cactus album shot to the top of my list.

Around 10 years ago, I first started to appreciate 70's Rock, and some where along the way I downloaded a copy of that first Cactus record. There was something about it that really struck a chord with me. It was raw and unpolished, bluesy and yet borderline chaotic at times. Hell, their entire purpose of covering Parchman Farm was to play it faster than anybody before them. I can get behind that kind of thinking.

I was actually chasing this record quite a few years ago, but every time I'd find one, I wasn't happy with the condition. Seemed as though every copy out there was beat up and suffering from terrible ring wear. When I came across this one on eBay, looking mint with the shrink wrap still on it, I jumped on it regardless of the higher price.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Buying vinyl for new releases is cool and all, but there is no greater feeling than that of scoring an older record. I think that I burned myself out chasing new bands in 2015. I was constantly on a quest, and always on the go, checking out new albums, and of all the records that I'd bought last year, half of them were for records released in 2015. Man, with a collection that has more holes to fill than a porn film, why am I spending so much time and money chasing new shit?

While I still can get caught up in new releases, I'm trying to commit myself to being more of an old curmudgeon, and to live in the past.

I was late to the party with Negative FX. Even though I was heavily into Slapshot when I first got into Hardcore, for one reason or another, I completely missed the boat on Negative FX until the mid-00's.

These days, that Negative FX album easily tops any of those Slapshot records, so on my mission to concentrate on knocking some classics off my Want List this year, it feels great to finally add this to the collection.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Power Metal Heroes

By all rights, I should not like Sabaton. The singer, with his douchey mowhawk/goatee. The synth keyboards in the background. The militaristic war theme. The band is the definition of Power Metal cheese. With every fabric of my being, I should hate them...but I don't. Listening to old Helloween, and new Gamma Ray records has weakened my resolve...and surprisingly, I find myself headbanging and chanting along to those big Sabaton choruses.

When I was looking to pick up my first piece of Sabaton vinyl, I took the path of least resistance...their 2014 LP, Heroes. I wasn't concerned with chasing down the limited colored vinyl pressing...of which, I use the term "limited" loosely, since there were 5 different color pressings...ah fuck...I might as well be completely honest, and mention that I was terribly tempted to chase the green vinyl version, since it would have looked the best with the cover, but cooler heads prevailed, and I took the cheap and easy way out with black vinyl.

Two bonus songs on the vinyl that didn't make it to the US CD release. Right on.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Evil Divide

Since reuniting in 2004, every release from Death Angel has been solid. When it was announced they were releasing a new album this year, I was eagerly anticipating it's arrival.

Their fifth album since reuniting, and Death Angel haven't lost a step...still thrashing with The Evil Divide. There are very few bands that sound just as urgent and vital in 2016 as they did back when they released their debut in 1987...Death Angel are one of those bands.

Etched vinyl on clear wax is difficult to photograph. 300 pressed on clear.

The copy that I'd ordered from Nuclear Blast, came with a promo poster signed by the band.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

For All Kings

I don't know what it is with Anthrax, but over the years, I seem to have formed a chip on my shoulder about them. While I enjoy everything up to, and including, We've Come For You All, I somehow still looked down on them with some contempt. Maybe it was because I considered Scott Ian as a bit of a self-important douche, or maybe it was because I felt like Joey Belladonna was a bit of a poser, playing the part of a Thrash frontman, while he often preferred the softer side of Rock. Either way, I thought that their 2011 reunion album, Worship Music, was kind of a disappointment, and even before it was released, I was prepared to write off this years new record as a colossal turd. Hell, I wanted nothing more that to rip it apart...and with my preconceived notions, I was underwhelmed when I first heard For All Kings...and choosing their second single as Breathing Lightning did them no favors.

Still, people across the Metal community were raving about how good For All Kings was. I downloaded it, but I was still stuck in my ways and wouldn't really give it a fair listen. Then I came across a recent interview with Scott Ian, and in speaking about how he handled some choices back in 1990, he owned his decisions. He didn't play it off, or deflect blame...he came out and basically said, "yeah, I was in a bad place at the time, and didn't handle things well". It isn't very often that you find someone, especially in the entertainment industry, that will take responsibility like he also talked about he has never been a drinker, and that helped sway me too. It was like my Grinch heart grew three sizes that day. With this new found respect, I queued up For All Kings, and tried to go into it with a more open mind. Goddamnit. I found myself enjoying it a bit.

When I saw the vinyl in the record bin at the local store, I was intrigued by the packaging. With plastic wrap keeping everything secure and tight, I couldn't make heads or tails of what was going on with the sleeve. Unable to resist, I bought it.

With the slipcover, the metallic shine on the record cover, the colored vinyl, and the d-side etching...the packaging on this is extremely well done.

The more that I've sat with this album, the more it has grown on me. While I'd initially thought this would hang out at the bottom of my Year End list, at this point, I'm starting to wonder how high it will climb, and if it has a chance to crack my Top 10. Solid album that continues to surprise the hell out of me.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Locomotive Breath

Season 2: Episode 7 of Fargo has a pretty strong opening, and through it all is a rumbling of an amazing song that perfectly sets the tension and atmosphere. As soon as the scene was done, I was immediately hitting the internet, scrambling to find out what song it was. Locomotive Breath from Jethro Tull's Aqualung album.

To me, Tull have always kind of been nothing more than a joke footnote to the '89 Grammy Award Ceremony, where they beat Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance...oh yeah, and they also played a flute. Despite my history of writing them off, with this introduction of Locomotive Breath, I was suddenly very interested to see if Jethro Tull was something that I'd been missing out on due to my own close minded musical ignorance.

Look, I know that it seems like each week I throw around claims of "this is my new favorite album", well, here I go again. This album surprised the hell out of me, and it is in heavy rotation lately. It is rare for me to spin an album more than once in a day, but Aqualung has hooked me so deep that when as Wind Up winds down, I immediately want to start the album over again.

Lately, I've been looking down on vinyl reissues, and my appetite has been more in collecting original pressings of vinyl. Yeah, I was one of those pretentious record collectors, vinyl-shaming people that were too lazy to dig through the internet vinyl bins for first pressings, and instead took the easy way out and bought the latest vinyl repress. That shit was for the common man, and only the truly dedicated put in the work, and put up the cash, for the originals...and then there I was...a hypocrite, buying the latest pressing of Aqualung.

What can I say...I'm a sucker for great packaging, and this release looks amazing. My audiophile friend, Jeff, says that the mastering for this vinyl releases gives the album the best sound, but I'm more of a visual person, and went for it because of the giant booklet that came with it.

The booklet is full of stories on the recording of the album, explanations on songs, and bits of history. Very well done, and well worth the price of admission for this 40+ year old classic.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Shame, It Grows

I recently picked up the new Rough Kids album, and it quickly worked its way into my daily playlist...climbing the stats as one of the albums I've listened to the most this year. Such a great throwback to that late 70's punk sound.

I haven't made the jump to pick up the band's first album yet, but when I saw that Sorry State was carrying the new Lights Out single, I had to jump on it.

Only pressed in Japan, and limited to 300, grabbing this from Sorry State was a must. Had to get one before they were gone...and that exclusive b-side is another high energy song that makes me want to bounce around the dance floor.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Young And Unaware

When I was young, and starting to get into Hardcore, I remember hearing the name Warzone thrown around a lot. I figured that they must be a big deal, so when I saw their self-titled CD sitting on the racks at the local music store, I quickly grabbed it, eager to check out this legendary Hardcore band.

In hindsight, that release from 1989 might not have been the best place to start...but I didn't know any better, and as I was crossing over from Metal to Hardcore, I quite enjoyed that record.

Sometime down the road, a friend shared the REV comp, The Way It Is, with me...after hearing As One, it suddenly clicked why Hardcore kids revered this band so much. However, even after getting the first two Warzone records dubbed to a blank cassette tape, and recognizing how superior those are, I still had a soft spot for that self titled turd.

Like Token Entry's Weight Of The World, everyone likes to cast stones and ridicule these oddballs...but me, I love 'em...and since I've been checking records off the World's Shittiest Wantlist this year, I figured it was time to scratch another big time player off the list.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Purple Devotion

Back in 2009, when Devotion released their first album, I didn't give it so much as a passing glance. Go It Alone had broken up, and Mark Palm was doing what I understood to be a more "mature" record. Fuck that noise. Without even hearing a note of it, I wrote it off.

Seven years after the release of their debut, Devotion is back with their follow up LP, Headspace Astronaut...and to be honest, I was fully prepared to ignore this one as well. When Doug first brought it to my attention, I quickly dismissed him. I mean, come on, how was I supposed to take that cover art seriously. It was like a K-Mart photo session gone bad.

But Doug was interested in it, and had asked that if I was getting one, could I pick one up for him as well to save him some money on shipping to Canada. Since I'm a big fan of the Record Blog Brotherhood, I figured that I'd check the album out, because...hey, maybe there was a chance I'd like it, and I could help him out in the process. So I took the trip over to the bandcamp page to see if this was anything that I should bother with.

With Mark Palm at the mic, you can easily pick up on the Go It Alone connection, but Devotion have more in common with some fuzzed out Stoner band than they do with mid-00's Hardcore. After listening to a couple songs, and seeing the video for Ocean Of Grief, I was sold on it, and placed an order for two copies. Once again, paying attention to Doug pays off. If it wasn't for him, I would have otherwise missed out on this. Hmmmm...maybe I should check out that first Devotion record at some point.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Second Dimension Of Gruesome

Gruesome were never out to break new ground or push the boundaries of Metal. With their debut album last year, the band's only mission was to pay tribute to Chuck Schuldiner (R.I.P.) and those early Death records. Savage Land was a deliberate nod to the greatness of Leprosy and Spiritual Healing, and they nailed that sound so well, it became one of my favorite records that year.

I expected Gruesome to come raging in, bludgeon us with some old school Death Metal, and then ride off to the gates of Hell. I figured that they would be "one and done", and that would be it. So I was surprised to hear that the band was releasing a follow up EP this year.

This time around, Gruesome are still paying tribute, but instead take us back to the sound of Death's debut, Scream Bloody Gore. Things are a bit more raw this time around...the vocals a bit more guttural...and it still feels like some long lost basement tapes from Chuck.

300 pressed on splatter vinyl.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Another Kind Of Blues

For me, 2016 has been an amazing year for new music...and by new, I mean music that is well over 35 years old, but that I'm just getting around to hearing for the first time.

After uncovering a couple late 70's Punk albums recently, I became a fiend looking for a fix...hunting high and low for hidden gems that I'd never heard before. UK Subs were one of the bands whose name kept showing up on the early Punk lists that I was digging out from the internets.

Initially, I kept writing them off and ignoring them. I'm not sure why. I suppose I kept thinking of them as some kind of Oi! street punk band, and I wasn't interested in that sound. After seeing their name repeatedly thrown around, I finally broke down, and dug out a youtube video of their first album, Another Kind Of Blues.

Say hello to my newest obsession. I couldn't get enough of it, and soon, the album had wormed it's way into my daily playlists. Reading up on the band, I found that there was a Punk wartime parody documentary, Punk Can Take It, and I even found a link for it on youtube to watch during my lunch break at work. The band obviously had my attention, and quickly climbed the list of records that I'd discovered and needed to buy.

The first 20,000 were pressed on blue vinyl, and finding one at a decent price from a US seller sealed the deal. It was mine.

The initial download that I'd grabbed of Another Kind Of Blues included a live version of a song called Telephone Numbers. It was a ripper of a song, but I noticed that it wasn't on the original vinyl release. So where did it come from?

After a bit of research, I found that it was a B-side song to the Tomorrows Girls single. Okay...I obviously needed this as well.

Both Telephone Numbers and Scum Of The Earth are essential UK Subs songs. As B-side exclusives, this single is mandatory.

I love that both of these were pressed on blue vinyl. Such a good look for 1979.