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Friday, December 29, 2017

(the) Hoovers - Skin and Blisters

Name: The Hoovers
Album: Skin and Blisters
Year: 1980
Style: Ska, New Wave
Similar Bands: Madness, English Beat, Capes, Squeeze
One-Word Review: Goofy, Building Hooligan Romp
Based out of: San Francisco, CA
Label: Paradigm, Airstrip Records
 Skin and Blisters - Cover, Sleeve, Record
 Skin and Blisters- Back, Lyrics, Record
Skin & Blisters - Credits
Skin & Blisters (1980)
  1. The Good Life 4:57
  2. Jimmy Jones 2:49
  3. I Got You Babe 2:43
  4. The Brighton Run 3:13
  5. To Your Mother 2:47
  6. The World Gone Mad 3:14 /
  7. The Day They Made Him King 3:53
  8. Roly Poly 2:32
  9. She Want It 3:03
  10. Pretty Little Blossom Song 2:05
  11. Captain Scarlet (Skin & Blisters) 1:50
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands:
Norman Baja - Drums, Synare (A Cruel Hoax)
Michael Helmer - Bass, Guitar
William Sell - Vox, Guitar, Chimes
Paul Whiting - Vox, Keys
Stuart Jacob Glasser - Producer, Engineer
Stephen Hart - Producer
Jeff Tracy - Engineer
Jim Drayper - Engineer
Four by Two - Bells
Jamison Goodman - Photography
Tom Bonauro - Art Direction, Design
Raul Torres - Hair
Keith Hollings - Make Up
Cee lePage - Jewelry
Maggie & Rovilla - Model
George Horn - Mastering

Unknown-ness.
I've never heard of this band. When i picked up the record, i noticed that it has the sticker from the radio station, with notes calling it an "interesting rock/ska sound." From the image on the cover, I'd assume this was some darkwave, Siouxie Sioux style music.

Album Review:
By way of England, the band began as a duo that moved to California. They eventually settled in San Fran to form the band, where, it is hypothesized, that they were the only American band ever approached to join the ska label Two Tone. They only had the one cheaply produced album and an EP, and faded away by 1981.

“The Good Life” is a side to side, sneaky, slinky bass beat and nervous new wave / Elvis Costello- style organ. Thick British hoodlum accent sings along with a melody that strongly resembles a younger Madness. A piano trills behind the blocky chorus. About three minutes into the track, the song changes up to a driving frantic section, with two sets of vocals repeating the same lyric over and over, building to a chaotic ending for (a little long) two minutes.
“Jimmy Jones” is a quick paced authentic ska melody: hipper, happy, with vocals that rely on the percussive nature of the accent. It is a fun romp, and silly lyrics involving romance with a fish. The song ends as the steel drum synth plays out with a manly chant over top.
“I Got You Babe” is just a terrible cover. Piano kicks the song off, and the melody becomes familiar almost immediately, but is light and synth infused. The vocals crack and waver, lacking confidence at first. But musically, it is a fun light ska version of the song that builds at the end.
“The Brighton Run” is a slower paced ticking ska song with a fun bouncy bass and synth lines. It also continues with a story line involving more of the fish theme from “Jimmy Jones.” Part of the instrumental sections are a bit sinister and carnival in nature.
“To Your Mother” is a school-yard mocking song with a fast paced, rollercoaster of a melody that is somewhere between Squeeze and Madness. The build-up to and sing-along chorus is super catchy, and a little goofy. The vocals follow the melody with a spitting cadence, but are very fun to follow along with, and super British.
“The World Gone Mad” continues with a slight different variety of rollicking, spitting/stuttering vocal cadence, but the words seem to just roll of the tongue, falling into melodic place. It has a solid build up and delivery into the chorus, which is anthemic, and stands out brightly. This is a very solid song.

“The Day They Made Him King” starts with some artificial chirping birds seemingly blown up, followed by soldiers marching and church bells. Then a carnival ska melody picks up, and overly pleasant British vocals follow a very comfortable melody. The purposeful pauses in the chorus really builds anticipation and enhances the song. This reminds me of the Capes a lot. There is a short sentimental breakdown with a musical reset, before it launches back into a final verse, and a repetitive chorus section, which is all you’ve been waiting for: repetition of the chorus. Such a fun, bouncy track.
“Roly Poly” seems to pick up right where the last song ended, with bouncy bass and organ melody. The chorus features a down trilling sci-fi synth section that increases anxiousness and jittery reaction. It builds very well to the very end.
“She Want It” is a little slower and swaying sing-songy. It is closer to authentic ska than most of the album, almost feeling like a classic pop oldie. Most of the vocals have an echoing fx added.
“Pretty Little Blossom Song” seems like a somewhat racist song. It is a live recording, and is introduced as “a treat for everyone oriental in the audience.” And it only features chimes that reflect oriental stereotypes in the very beginning. The song itself is a chaotic bum rush of tempo and jittery British vocals that are chewed up and spit out in a very fast pace.
“Captain Scarlet (Skin & Blisters)” feels like a Squeeze and Devo combined song. It is fast paced, too, and has a new wave bouncy feel, and a Difford-Tillbrook style harmony as the two vocalists sing together. It sounds exhausting to sing on repeat as they do.

Stand Out Track: The Day They Made Him King

Links:
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Schramms - Walk to Delphi

 Name: (the) Schramms
Album: Walk to Delphi
Year:1989
Style: Folk-Country
Similar Bands: Yo La Tengo, Jayhawks, Wilco, Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo
One Word Review: Twangy Rodeo Rock
Based Out Of: New York City
Label: OKra, Rough Trade
 Walking To Delphi - Cover & Record
Walking to Delphi - Back, Liner Sheet
Walking to Delphi (1989)
  1. Walk to Delphi 3:47
  2. Out of the Earth 3:16
  3. Living in Confusion 4:59
  4. Letdown Later 4:30
  5. It's Not What She Wants 4:22 /
  6. Big Stink 3:30
  7. Everytime 3:58
  8. The Way Some People Die 4:03
  9. Number Nineteen 3:50
  10. Gusano Verde 3:25
  11. Of All the Souls 2:53 
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Dave Schramm - Vox, Guitar, Harmonica (Yo La Tengo, Kate Jacobs, Chris Stamey)
Terry Karydes - Keys, Vox, Drums (Yo La Tengo)
Ron Metz - Drums (The Human Switchboard, Yo La Tengo)
Al Greller - Bass (Peter Stampfel & Bottlecaps, Yo La Tengo)
Mike Lewis - Bass (Yo La Tengo, Lyres, DMZ, )
Tom Quinn- Mandolin (Jack Lord;s Hair, Mud Pie, Mud Pie Sun, Rocknoceros, The Real Gone)
Pete Linzell - Sax (Andy G & The Roller Kinds, Los Primos, Devil Dogs)
Todd Novak - Guitar (Cowlicks, The Cycle Paths, The Dragsters, Kevin Salem)
Peter Moser - Cover Art
Gary Arnold - Producer

Unknown-ness: Never heard of this band, but I really like the cover art and backing photo artwork. Makes me think it will have an earthy, folksy feel, but still have a worldy, and interesting intelligence about it.  I'm expecting a Los Lobos meets Half Japanese feel.

Album Review: So the Schramms, originally a placeholder name when they found out their previous name was already in use, have a lot of ties to Yo La Tengo’s very early years. Founding and namesake member Dave Schramm left Yo La Tengo after their first album and many other band mates were involved with the early years as well. Their US distribution was through Rough Trade, which coincidentally folded just as they were beginning their first album push.

“Walk to Delphi” is a county rocking song with exaggerated, drawn our vocal syllables. It never really deviated from its pace or tempo, only building a little to go into the chorus. The instrumental at the end relies heavily on country style, mixed with rock, to make the definitive alt-country style.
“Out of the Earth” continues with the twangy vocals, and a slower story-song style, with slide guitar, quiet backing vocals, and harmonica instrumental section.
“Living in Confusion” is light, and features wood block percussion. The long vocal notes rise and fall, offering a defined country style. The instrumental at the end features slide guitar heavily.
“Letdown Later” is all acoustic guitar in the beginning. Then it launches into a jangley stomper with a defined verse-chorus structure. The instrumental features a shrill keyboard section that honky’s up the tonk (this sounded like a good description in my head).
“It's Not What She Wants” is a slower ballad, relying on organ-like notes held. It picks up in energy after a minute goes by, and continues the upward momentum with an almost rocking out chorus. Once it finds the hook and momentum, it rides it out for the rest of the song.

“Big Stink” starts side two as a theatrical western instrumental, with an upbeat tempo and plenty of slide guitar and organ in the latter part of the song.
“Everytime” shuffles along with a quick drum beat, sort of like the tempo of a train. Jangly guitar and drawn out vocals make up the rest of the songs motivation. The momentum is held though out the whole song, until the train makes it to the destination, and the instruments are peeled back
“The Way Some People Die” is a harmonica heavy, jangly singer-songwriter tune. The chorus melody is catchy, reminding me a little of the Violent Femmes (and the Bluebells), as it builds. It’s probably the most approachable and accessible song on the album.
“Number Nineteen” is a slowly building song with a swaying, sing song melody, and dual harmonicas. It kinda makes me imagine what John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants) would sound like singing country. The instrumental section slows down to a near-stall, before guitar kicks it back into gear. This song is more folky than country.
“Gusano Verde” starts as a double dose blast of chaotic, echoing rums and guitar. Then a slower, heel dragging section that also comes off as very cinematic, rolls along, kicking up dust in a small western town’s dirt road and blowing it into mini tornados. The instrumental continues along, with peaks and valleys of emotional and somewhat progressive musical sections until it just gives out.
“Of All the Souls” wraps up the album with acoustic guitar, and sloppy lyrical presentation that hits at drunkenness. It is very folky in execution, and a church organ kicks in about the 2 minute mark to finish out the song and album.

Stand Out Track: The Way Some People Die

Links:
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Allmusic

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kevin Westlake - Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms)

Name: Kevin Westlake
Album: Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms)
Year:1976
Style: Bluesy & Country Rock. 
Similar Bands: Kinks, Rockets, Creedence Clearwater, Blasters, Rod McKuen, Ween's 12 Country Greats
One Word Review: Smooth Country Tributes
Based Out Of: London, England 
Label: Utopia
Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms) -  Cover & Record
Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms) - Back & Record

Stars Fade (In Hotel Rooms) (1976)
  1. Yankee Girl 1:41
  2. Stars Fade 2:32
  3. Anticipation 4:20
  4. The Girl 3:10
  5. I Like Rock n' Roll 2:20 /
  6. Love, Love, Love 3:57
  7. Sweet Green Eyes 3:47
  8. Pretty Boys Daces 2:30
  9. Borrowed From a Dream 3:23
  10. Monkee Tree 3:39
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Kevin Westlake - Guitar, Vox, Composer (BB Blunder, Blossom Toes, Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance, The Frankies)
Tony Meehan - Producer, Arrangement
Hugh Jones - Engineer
Keith Bessey - Engineer
Milton Glaser - Cover Design
Jimmie Jewell - Sax (Keef Hartley Band, Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance, Roger Daltrey, No Dice, The Hollies)
Billy Livsey - Keys (Slim Chance)
Steve Bingham  Bass (Slim Chance)

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this artist. It looks like it may be a kinda plain, singer songwriter album. The straight lines and color fade, although resembles the window of the hotel room in the album title, it also has a bit of a Jazz artistic style to it, including the font- so it may be a little more than tedious guitar folk.

Album Review: Kevin was born into a world where music was prevalent. A drummer in the late 60’s his art college background allowed him to transition and weave easily between a couple of semi-popular bands and a solo career. Although he continued to play, art became the main focus of his career in the 80’s through to his death in 2004

“Yankee Girl” is a boozey, bouncy New Orleans big band jaunt. Lots of horns in the background, and a light pleasant vocal, reminding me of the Kinks. Odd how the song, that drips of bourbon street parade is considered a good style for a Yankee girl.
“Stars Fade” is a quieter, reflection of a song. With layered vocals during the verse, and echoing organ that rings out, the song is almost an easy listening track. But the bass countrifies the song a little.
“Anticipation” follows with a slow, leg dragging tempo, and it is either a big coincidence or appropriating the key line in 1975’s Rocky Horror Picture show, as the vocals drag out the last two syllables of the song title. The song builds as it moves along, bringing in sax, a chorus of backing female vocals, and a bit quicker drive. The vocals are a little singer-songwriter Beatle-y. The sax & keys play the song out to a fade
“The Girl” sounds like a slow Belle & Sebastian song at first, with the organ melody and tempo. But the vocals are soft, and the melody is not too complex, with a sleepy male vocal like Rod McKuen.
“I Like Rock n' Roll” kicks right in with a driving rock and roll tempo thanks to guitar and drums. It then becomes a pub rock version of RnR, driven by the piano melody. A sax plays out the instrumental, sticking to the basic melody.

“Love, Love, Love” starts of side two with a trip back to the southern, bluesy & boozy swamp stomping ditty. The chorus of Loves is layered with harmonizing backing vocals. The demeanor of the vocals are lazy, almost bored.
“Sweet Green Eyes” starts slow and quiet with a couple of chords held for a few seconds and soothing, vocals serenating a woman with mentioned green eyes. Overall it feels a little churchy, especially when the organ emerges from the main chords as its own distinct voice. The song ends somewhat abruptly.
“Pretty Boys Daces” kicks right in with an older honky-tonk style song. Driving bass line and country & wester style vocals, and twangy guitar in the background. The chorus slows the song down alongside the vocals, and supporting “Oooo’s” make the break seem important and angelic.  
“Borrowed From a Dream” begins with a barn dance style song with simple two note bass line and violin strings. The verse only keeps the bass line, and it loses the danceable element. The instrumental breaks should have an accompanying line dance, and it really does feel like it could be on Ween’s 12 Country Greats.
“Monkee Tree” starts with piano, and the vocals croon, with beatle-esq quality over the slowly growing musical accompaniment. The bass is featured prominently along with the pub room piano. There is one section where his vocals train higher for emphasis, which reminds me a lot of how Robert Schneider (of Apples In Stereo) sings “but you” toward the end of their song “Nobody But You.” The sad sax seems to echo sadness in the vocals. The song seems to reset itself with a bouncy section right before it ends.

Stand Out Track: Yankee Girl

Links:
website
Discogs
Allmusic
IMDB

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Payolas - Hammer on a Drum

Name: Payolas
Album: Hammer on a Drum
Year: 1983
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: INXS, The Alarm, Madness, Big Country, Lightning Seeds, Duran Duran
One Word Review: Cruise-ship Arena Punk
Based Out Of: Vancouver, Canada
Label: IRS, A&M Records
 Hammer on a Drum - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Hammer on a Drum - Back, Lyrics, Record
Hammer on a Drum
  1. I'll Find Another (Who Can Do It Right) 3:37
  2. Where Is This Love 5:54
  3. Wild West 3:11
  4. Perhaps Some Day 3:30
  5. Never Said I Loved You 3:18 / 
  6. No Prisoners 5:16
  7. Christmas is Coming 3:40
  8. I Am a City 5:09
  9. Hungry 4:10
  10. People Who Have Great Lives 2:26
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Paul Hyde - Writer, Vox (Northern Lights)
Bob Rock - Writer, Engineer, Mixing, Guitar (Rockhead, Northern Lights)
Mick Ronson - Producer, Backing Vox, Keys (Arnold Corns, David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Ronno, Spiders from Mars, Hunter Ronson Band, The Rats, Rolling Thunder Review, Tony Visconti Trio, The Treacle, The Voice)
Mike Fraser - Engineer
Bob Ludwig - Mastering
Christopher Livingston - Keys
Chris Taylor - Drums (Rockhead, B-Sides)
Barry Muir - Bass (Barney Bentall & the Legendary Hearts, Blue Shadows)
Bruce Fairbairn - Bugle (Fast Forward, Margarita Horns)
David Andoff - Art Direction, Design
Matthew Wiley - Paul's Face (front cover)
Dennis Keeley - Back Cover Photos, Handcoloring
Carol LeFlufy - Lower Right Photo
Carole Pope - Vox (O, Bullwhip Brothers, Rough Trade)

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this group. Based on the collage of images on the front, and the $ for the s in their name, not to mention the year and label, I imagine this will be some creative mainstream new wave, with juvenile humor, but nothing too weird. Maybe like Bram Tchaikovsky.

Album Review: The Payolas were a Canadian rock band that began in 1978. They were failly popular, with some top 10 charting songs in Canada (including one here), but they never broke in America, partly because radio was afraid to play a band that suggested payola in their name. The main force behind the band, Bob Rock went on to produce many popular acts, and guitarist from David Bowie’s backing band, Spiders from Mars, Mick Ronson, produced and performed on this record.

“I'll Find Another (Who Can Do It Right)” was a single. It begins with a stompy, jangley guitar section, with a shouty chorus of vocals. The lead vocals have a nasally Michael Hutchence (INXS) quality to them. It is a bold, hooligan sort of song with typical radio friendly 80’s guitar focused new wave / Arena rock production.
“Where Is This Love” was a single, and lyrically contains the album’s title. It is watery, and soaring with a light, floating crystal purity. It sounds a little like the slower lightning seeds songs. The vocals are spoken with a melodic accent. The chorus yells the song title into a void, not expecting an answer.
“Wild West” was the final single. It really feels like the Alarm. Jangley guitar, echoing electric guitar, chorus-accompanied singing of “Shoot,” all create a wind-swept anthemic soundscape.
“Perhaps Some Day” has a bit of a reggae feel, and is sung like a Madness pub drinking chant. Even down to the supporting backing vocals, this could be seen as Madness appropriation.
“Never Said I Loved You” was a single, reaching #8 in Canada’s RPM 100 chart. The song’s style is of a synthetic Caribbean resort jam, also like later period Madness. It is a duet with Carol Pope, and the back and forth, taking over the main stage is a nice presentation for a bitter, smart ass song such as this, which needs both perspectives in a relationship debate. The form breaks down a little at the end, with the basic repetitive melody taking over, with muted spoken word vocals added to create a realistic effect. This would be a great variant theme song for the show You’re The Worst.

“No Prisoners” faded up very slowly, like a sunrise, with echoing percussion, and a gentle synth hum. It is a political commentary, asking for no prisoners of any ethnicity or nationality. The different groups are read off in the background like a news ticker. The song doesn’t have the punch of a U2 political song, but it fits in the same category.
“Christmas is Coming” was a single. The lead guitar makes the song feel like an 80’s sitcom theme song. There is very little element that makes the song feel like a Christmas song, which is kinda refreshing to not hear bells or familiar melodies. The vocal melody feels like a later period A’s power pop song.
“I Am a City” rings out like a siren with one solo guitar chord strummed, and a doppler shift effect on a watery bass. It takes us back to the Alarm or Duran Duran style arena rock.
“Hungry” continues the watery bass feeling, with a staggered, free flowing sentimental track, sounding a little like Robyn Hitchcock until the bold anthemic chorus. It tackles and explores another statement, like “No Prisoners” in hunger issues.
“People Who Have Great Lives” marches out like an anthemic power pop song with a very bold trumpet. The vocals are comprised by a deep chorus, and are very official and military-like. And to break it up, the music stops except wood block taps and a fast chant by the lead singer follows the same cadence, but adds diversity.

Stand Out Track: Never Said I Love You

Links:
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Historica Canada
Canadian Bands
JAM!
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Allmusic

Friday, August 25, 2017

Party Boys - Daddyland

Name: Party Boys
Album: Daddyland
Year: 1987
Style: Art-Rock, Folk-Blues
Similar Bands: Half Japanese, Velvet Underground
One Word Review: Fragile, theater-minoring surf-folk reverb.
Based Out Of:  Los Angeles
Label: Nate Starkman & Son, Independant Project Records, Fundamental Music
 Daddyland: Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Daddyland: Back, Sleeve, Record
PR Note
Daddyland (1987)
  1. Don't Be Kind 3:11
  2. The Spring Street Shuffle 3:19
  3. Nora 3:54
  4. 10 Minute Song 4:49
  5. Spoonful 2:28
  6. I Love You 3:23 /
  7. Walk Me Down 4:55
  8. Dirty Girls 6:06
  9. Daddyland 7:20
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Gillean McLeod
James Duck
Donald Dunham
Fred Arbegast
John Dyer
Marnie Weber (Spirit Girls)
Gary Held - Promo Contact
Richard Jordan - Distribution Contact
Phil Singher - Engineer

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of them, but this album looks very interesting. A mix of low budget and just out there in randomness, from the image on the back, to the drawing of a model on the front to the headless warrior on the sleeve and record label. It's hard to get an idea of what this is going to contain. The bio included a mix of drenched reverb vox, art-damaged-music, and a reworking of traditional blues. So yeah, still up in the air.

Album review:  
The only member of the band that had a career outside of the band was Marnie Weber, who was more artistically inclined, and made the cover art for Sonic Youth’s A Thousand Leaves record. This is the Party Boys’ third album. Honestly, I can’t imagine how these tracks transitioned live, but I hope there was an accompanying intricate stage show.

“Don't Be Kind” quietly fades up with an ominous, wavering vocal chant, and dark chamber synth. It’s a little Dracula-like performance art. The song slowly grows, and the vocals become unbalanced and emotional. Quite a weird song.
“The Spring Street Shuffle” also comes in with some irregular notes and eerie effects. The vocals are spoken with lots of echoing reverb, and act like directions to a yoga work out or something instructional. There is a little surf element in the short, looping melody. It also ends with some emotion outpouring.
“Nora” has higher pitch vocals, which are equally irregular and brittle. The slide/surf guitar still exists in the background, but a lead bass line is more in the forefront, and overall, the sound is more upbeat, but just by a little. The main lyric is “My Name Is” which leads up to the song title. The song ends as it loses the instrumentation, and the lyrics are sung on repeat upscale to an increasingly high pitch.
“10 Minute Song” begins with watery, “alternative” chords, and some C&W slide guitar, with a horse-slopping tempo underneath. The vocals are nearly whispered, and sound like they are being sung as air is being sucked in, rather than exhaled. The vocals increase in wavering emotion, and appear to be in pain at times. The hooks are very short and quite repetitive, as I was hoping for a little more diversity in the track.
“Spoonful” has a back and forth range-riding cowboy atmosphere to it, but the guitars echo and the vocals are shared, there is the fragile deep set, and a higher pitch that we heard on “Nora,” that reminds me a little of the Velvet Underground.
“I Love You” sounds like a layered single note guitar melody, with bass quietly added in the background. The vocals are quiet, and sound like they are just reading ingredients on the back of a box of cereal. The song grows and becomes more dense with heavier bass and haunting effects added in behind. But there is a certain air of confidence about this song. It gets quite uncomfortable when the calm vocals suddenly emote singing the title. Later they are echoed with a chorus behind.

“Walk Me Down” begins with a catchy hook that is layered and built upon strictly following the 10-note melody. The vocals are barely there, chanted and echoing with reverb. The song builds and the guitar disappears, leaving the bass to play the same hook. The melody shifts a little, sounding more like a New Order bass line, with some whistling behind, and then some vocals sing “Ey-Yigh-Yigh.” Then everything just fades out.
“Dirty Girls” has another nearly 30 second fade up of minimal 2-chord guitar and a dark bass line. A strained vocal, barely able to udder syllables, let alone words chants along. It builds, like many of the songs do in emotional intensity, but it does not change the overall sound or hook.
“Daddyland” is the longest song on the record, and it ends with a straight ahead guitar 2 chord, 4 note progression that repeats to insanity. The vocals are nothing new, a mix of beatnik poetry and instruction reciting that increases in emotion as the song increases in thickness. The side-bar instruments follow the melody and drive, but tend to spur off into their own direction and mini-melodies. The song begins its final decent with fuzzy feedback guitars, and vocals that drift away from the front, and echo as they disperse. It is really too drawn out to keep the attention, and there has been nothing prior to assume there will be something redeeming hidden at the end. 

Stand Out Track: Walk Me Down

Links:
Discogs

Hyenas in the Desert - Die Laughing

Name: Hyenas in the Desert
Album: Die Laughing
Year: 1996
Style: Hip/Trip Hop
Similar Bands: Mobb Deep, Jedi Mind Tricks, Boo-Ya Tribe, Coolio, Eminem
One Word Review: Sinister Lurking Eerie Poetry
Based Out Of: Long Island, NYC
Label: SLAM Jamz, Columbia, 
 Die Laughing - Cover, Sleeve, Record
Die Laughing Back, Sleeve, Record
Die Laughing (1996)
  1. Elephant Graveyard 1:30
  2. Can You Feel It 4:13
  3. Wild Dogs 3:39
  4. The Longest Night (Journal #1) 1:49
  5. Concubinez 2:35 /
  6. Why Me 4:32
  7. Fresh Meat :20
  8. Hyenas in the Desert 2:27
  9. Other Side of Midnight 3:54
Album Rating (1-10): (now this is not in my typical wheelhouse) 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Kendo - Vox (Chuck D)
Sean Evans - Art Direction, Design
Studdah Man - Engineering, Mixing
Chuck D - Executive Producer (Public Enemy)
Gary G-Whiz - Exec. Producer, Mixer, Engineering
Tom Coyne - Mastering
Exum - Photography
Bob Fudjinski - Mixing
Vinny Nicoletti - Asst Mixing

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. From the look of it, font of the band name, Jason hockey mask, and song titles, I'd assume they are some sort of horror/death metal band.

Album Review: This was the first record to be released under Chuck D’s imprint. The duo of Kendo and Gary G-Whiz worked with Chuck D in different capacities, and teamed up to make this record, but never followed up with anything further, perhaps due to lack of promotion of this product. There is a steady concept throughout the entire album, basically placing Hyenas in the Desert as the villain of a typical horror movie: which works, knowing how hyenas stalk their prey and mercilessly attack and kill, all the while cackling with their jarring laughter.

“Elephant Graveyard” echos with cymbals, cynical laughter and bird calls. A slow trip-hop beat starts, with vocals spoken over top. Even the vocals repeat like an echo in a cave.
“Can You Feel It” begins with hi-hat, and an eerie keyboard/piano melody. The pounding bass distorts when it blasts out in tempo. The rhyming starts with a mellow head nodding rhythm. The chorus is a little more melodic, but is still mostly spoken word rhyming in a style Eminem uses. Musically, it is not just a simple backing beat, there are female vocals underlaid and strings like Gangster’s Paradise.
“Wild Dogs” begins with a smooth, echoing bass line hook and steady drum beat. The rhyming is fast but not quite furious. There are support vocals echoing certain words and phrases or commenting uh-huh which bolsters the confidence and emphasis of the lead. The song ends with hyena type laughs, and the spoken album title completes the track.
“The Longest Night (Journal #1)” has more slow, trip hop drum and bass, along with some crystal-like keyboard notes. Lyrics are quiet, and spoken under the sinister beat.
“Concubinez” begins with spoken samples dialogue, and a three note honking synth effect sets the tempo. The crashing drum rhythm pushes the song forward with an array of rhyming lyrics. Twitters and tweaks on a electro/synth devise are use like record scratching.

“Why Me” is introduced with a bit of dialogue, and then a disco era tone rings through. The poetic rapping tells a story, and again is emphasized by a supporting vocal, but it does not rush through; instead, it is a calculated on tempo reflection. A second set of vocals picks up the second story/verse. The chorus is a repetition of why me, expressing the guilt and circumstances that have lead the singers to this point.
“Fresh Meat” is just a pack of laughing hyenas, which acts like a bookend between the last song and this song.
“Hyenas in the Desert” The tempo is quicker, more rushed, and the bass line is dense, reminding me of Bjork’s “Human Behavior.” The vocals rhyme and interchange with each other in a sort of spiral of who’s attention is in the foreground.
“Other Side of Midnight” comes in with a cackling laugh. This is like an eerie, X-Files type version of the previous song. It has a straight forward mid-tempo drum beat, with the rapid fire rhyming overtop. And the horror movie tense-inducing keyboard ends the album.

Stand Out Track: Hyenas in the Desert

Links:
Discogs
Amazon
Lost Tapes
90's Hip Hop
Allmusic
Rate You Music
CD Universe
Youtube full album

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ellis D - Free Your Mind

Name: Ellis "D"
Album: Free Your Mind
Year: 1989
Style: Techno, Dance, Electronic, House
Similar Artists: Shep Pettibone, C + C Music Factory, Manuel Gottsching, Nu Shooz, Bjork Remixes
One Word Review:
Based Out Of: New York City (from Lancaster PA)
Label: Minimal Records, Criminal records
 Free Your Mind - Cover & Record

Free Your Mind - Back & Record
Free Your Mind (1989)
  1. Gotstobeadrag - 5:08
  2. You Got Me Burnin' 5:29
  3. Jungle Jam 5:04
  4. Took My Love Away 4:12
  5. Acid Rain 5:00 /
  6. I Will Survive 6:10
  7. Cum On U Can Git It 4:34
  8. It's Paradise 8:19
  9. Just Like a Queen 6:06
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Junior Vasquez (Donald Gregory Mattern) - Producer, Writer, Realizer, Vocals, Drum Programming, Mixing, Editing, Cover Concept (The Factory Kids, V-Men, too many credits to mention)
Mark Plati - Engineer, Drum Programming, Keys (Janet Jackson, BEF, BADII, David Bowie)
Steve Wellner - Asst. Engineer
Steve Doria - EAsst. Engineer
Wendy Paff - Cover Concept
Tracy Mostrovoy - Photography
David Bronstein - Photo Asst.
KFC - food
Empire Szechuan - food
Jane & Duffy - Management

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this project. I see on the back the name Junior Vasquez is mentioned as being the man being Ellis D, and I have heard of him as a DJ and techno artist. It is a weird juxtaposition, with the name being an obvious play on the drug LSD, yet there being lots of anti-drug, and goddy verbiage on the back. I assume it will just be some decent electronic, sampling and club music.

Album Review: Junior Vasquez, originally from Lancaster, PA, has been a DJ in NYC for many years, and still will spin a s a DJ around the world. This era of his career as Ellis D has been attributed to creating the sound of House music, and more specifically gay house music, so says Wikipedia.
“Gotstobeadrag” begins with a creepy castle organ note, and the sampled phrase “got to be a drag” is skipped and scratched over the top. A variety of jungle deep bass and percussive elements are bonded together, along with early 90’s synth. The momentum of the title hiccupping carries the song along. About half way through there is a skipping female vocals sample plugged in, that eventually smooths out to a soulful “Stand up tell everybody I’ve got it”
“You Got Me Burnin’” begins with a steady bass drum, with layers added in one at a time, including hi-hat, cowbell, electronic drum effects, and other club sounds. The vocals are a deep, echoing monotone voice. Mixed in are female disco vocals, singing the song’s title.
“Jungle Jam” features as you can imagine wood block and bass jungle beats, along with stuttering vocal samples, and skipping synth dance beats, including a Nu Shooz sounding scratch. The vocals samples are quite varied from female disco, to whispering, to a choir call and response. Some chanting is added as well as a flute melody. But the base percussion and maraca beat carries on. The call and response choir finishes the song.
“Took My Love Away” was a single. It starts as a mix of the now-familiar soulful female vocals singing the title, reminding me of C+C Music Factory, and a deep monotone vocals singing “baby don’t be that way.” Another male vocal is sampled, and added in is the famous traffic/streaking late 80’s EDM techno effect. Later a female vocal is sampled that is reminiscent of Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations.”  Like dancing in a round, a couple bars of a variety of effects are spotlit, and then disappear back into the fray.
“Acid Rain” begins with a rubber band strummed effect, and the deep monotone house vocal repeats “acid rain will drive you insane.”  The female vocals are added in to balance the monotony with soulful singing. A shuffling percussion is layered in underneath. The repetitive nature and echoing vocals create the trance like attribute.

“I Will Survive” was released as a single, and is a monotone spoken vocal rendition of the Gloria Gaynor hit. A three-note, downscale synth bass line starts with a drum machine track overlayed. More elements are added, carrying the dance floor groove along. Some of the sounds remind me of EMF.
“Cum On U Can Git It” begins with a simple drum machine track, and the vocal reminds me again of “Good Vibrations,” particularly the “come on swing it” lyric. Robotic synth effects are added, and there is some scratching and hiccup stuttering. Rather than build, sections are introduced and get a chance to play out, and then are removed. There are a few basic effects that remain throughout. But the showcasing of individual sections is key song motivation.
“It's Paradise” used elements of Manuel Gottsching’s epic album, like the glass jar ping, and relaxing waterfall effects and jittery synth melody. I believe it is an artistic homage to the album. As the longest track on the record, it sprawls out, and allows the individual melodies and elements mix in and out of focus. Flutes, female samples and spoken word male vocals are just some of the repeating effects.
“Just Like a Queen” was a single. Tidal waves of synth flow in and out, as dancey drums, wood block percussion, and vocal samples (female of the title track) are added. The streaking siren EDM effect is employed, as well as other female vocals, and the straight-man deep spoken word. Later on a toy piano tinkers out a melody, interplaying with the steady percussion backing track. 

Stand Out Track: Took My Love Away

Links: