The Perfect John Carpenter LP at Modern Vinyl

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Perfect LP is a feature in which the Modern Vinyl writers take on the tall task of summarizing an artist or band’s career in an LP sized selection of tracks. Bypassing what was the single, what was the “hit” and what fans call for throughout shows, it’s time to decide what makes up the Perfect LP.

The Rules

The selections will total no more than 50 minutes. The selections are arranged in logical fashion, as in how you’d like to hear them in a real tracklisting.

The Subject

John Carpenter, horror and sci-fi director, is known for iconic films such as Halloween, Escape From New York, and The Thing, but deserves as much credit as a composer and performer, primarily accompanying his visual work. After a lengthy hiatus in both films and music, he returned in 2015 with the release of full length Lost Themes on Sacred Bones. It was a collection of original music, ostensibly composed music for various things, but never used. It was followed up with the release of Lost Themes II earlier this year, as well as a sold-out international concert tour.
Listen to the LP and read my comments at Modern Vinyl. Published 9/19/16

The Grindhouse Sounds of Isaac Williams at Cinepunx

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Nearly every afternoon last week, my wife came home to me blasting music out of my laptop while I read on the living room couch. Despite a stack of half a dozen vinyl LPs awaiting review, I couldn’t stop listening to Isaac Williams’ Soundcloud mixtapes. Going back four years, Williams’ mixes all cull their sounds from cult and exploitation film scores and trailers, but the shapes they sonically take are astonishingly diverse.
Listen to all of Williams' best tracks at Cinepunx. Published 8/1/16

Tracklisted: Roadtrip at Modern Vinyl

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Much like the classic mixtape, Tracklisted presents a collection of songs under a selected theme, which you can check out below. Click on the provided Spotify playlist and listen to this week’s arrangement while you read a few words about the selections. The best car songs have that propulsive beat, mimicking the sound of tires eating up mile after mile of blacktop. Building offMeghin’s fifty states playlist from a couple months back, why not take a trip down the highway and visit as many as we can? Songs were chosen based on their propulsive nature, beats, and whether or not they’re actually about driving/roads/etc. Explanations of a few follow, and the rest, and their reasons for inclusion, ought to be readily apparent.
Read the complete notes of and listen to the Roadtrip mixtape at Modern Vinyl. Published 7/19/16

The Girls Rock Lawrence theme song, all-star deluxe edition

grl campers 01 Check out this all-star, deluxe edition of the Girls Rock Lawrence theme song, featuring the GRL board members, along with Kelley Hunt, Kristie Stremel, Kawehi, Nadia Imafidon from Sharp 9, STITCH81CLASSIC, Sarah Storm from Vigil and Thieves, Britt Adair from The Bad Ideas, Alex Williams from Ultra Vivid, Lizz Weiler from Vedettes / Cave Girls, and The Sugar Britches: Ashley “Ziggy” Zeigenbein, Brianne Grimmer, Kahlen Mitchell, Kimberly Simonetti, and Monica Greenwood. It was coordinated by me and engineered by Matt Pelsma at the Lawrence Public Library's Sound + Vision Studio, with funding and organizational support from Lawrence Magazine. Additional thanks can be found on the Sound + Vision Soundcloud. You can go to the Girls Rock Lawrence site to donate. Also, check out the GRL camp showcase next Saturday, June 12, at Liberty hall in Lawrence, Kansas. You can find details about that show here.

LP Review: Eureka California’s “Versus”

cover - eureka california versusEureka Califonia is one of those myriad band names that’s irritating as hell to search for online, but the difficulty’s kind of the point. This is a band you want people to have to earn the discovery of, which makes this review kind of a double-edged sword. I want you all to know about the band’s rough-hewn power pop, but I feel like it’s something for which you should work. Versus is one of those records you put on, and you’re rewarding with track after track which reward you for taking the time to pull the record out of its jacket and onto your turntable. Calling the whole affair ramshackle implies that the duo put the record together hastily and without thought, but it’s actually more that it feels as if it’s being played so enthusiastically, it might fall apart in delightful shambles. Songs like “Sign My Name With An X” are the Replacements playing My Bloody Valentine songs, or vice versa, even. The loud, rocking midwestern feel of all this belies Eureka California’s Athens roots, but it’s not your standard rock music. The duo twists tropes and standards in a way that recalls the genre-bending efforts of so many other artists which have made their way out of that Georgia town and into American consciousness. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/hhbtm-records/eureka-california-sign-my-name-with-an-x[/embed] “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City” is a downtempo piece of strummed acoustics, and it manages to have enough life it in that it doesn’t kill the momentum of Versus. There’s still a level to it that maintains the energy off the first side and onto the second -- and that’s important, because the second side is where the gold is. Hidden in the middle of Versus’ second side is the slow rocker, “Realizing Your Actuality,” which might just be the album’s highlight. It’s not a blaster or flat-out rocker, but manages to convey a sense of urgency and intensity, even at its grinding pace. It’s a precursor the slowed-down quiet jams of “Everybody Had a Hard Year” and the loud-quiet-loud epic closer, “I Will Write Mine Over the Potomac.” If you freaked out over Titus Andronicus’ latest, or anything that’s come down that bearded indie rocker doing punk rock pike in the last few years, this is for you. If you find that style of music detestable, here’s it done right. If that closer doesn’t grab you and shake your emotions loose, you’ve no heart. Get on it. The cover’s a little bit faux screenprint, which is kind of a bummer. I don’t know if it would be cooler as an actual screenprint, or if the art was just a little less garish. The cover for Crunch was understated and classy, but this seems to scream “LOOK AT ME!” a little more than I’d like. The vinyl sounds amazing, and has a really nice range. There’s also an insert with lyrics, along with a download card. Solid package. You can pre-order the LP from the HHBTM store. It's due out March 25.

Windian Records’ Subscription Series Number 3 is bonkers cool

windian subscription header Let us discuss the amazingness that is the new Subscription Series from Windian Records. We really enjoyed the singles we heard from the last round, with music from the Ettes and Mrs. Magician, but those were just solo copies, not as part of the whole collection. In other words, how do you talk about a box set when you have neither the box, nor the set? Well, we've the third installment sitting here in the Nuthouse basement, and it is the bee's knees. It's six 7-inch, bog hole, 45rpm singles in a custom box with a big, glossy booklet that showcases the sleeves these singles would have, were they to be purchased individually (which you can, with the art for an additional 79 cents). There's even a download code, and a glow in the dark 45 adapter. The cardboard shipping container the set came in was custom-stamped with the Windian logo, and the pieces of cardboard inside the box, holding everything tight were stampd with the logo of the Subscription Series on the top piece, with another on the bottom saying "Thank You, Come Again." That is devotion to an aesthetic ideal far beyond anything I can remotely conceive of. How's that for vinyl fetishism? This is beyond fetish object into full-on totemic territory. As a bonus, you can get two versions, on black and clear vinyl, limited to 150 and 100 copies, respectively. However, for $6 a single, I'm assuming you want some quality music, too, unless you're just one of those peopel who buys things and sticks them on a shelf to stare at. It's a bit of a mixed bag, as are all single series. In this case, I wasn't familiar with any of the artists being featured, so it was rather like getting a label sampler and hoping for the best. Norfolk, Virginia's the Seeers do a rather nice straight-ahead garage power pop. It's a little muddy and midtempo, but I can really see myself getting into those harmonies come springtime, while DD Owen (aka Drew Owen of Sick Thoughts) rocks dirty electronic punk with enough reverb to drive you mad. Platinum Boys hail from Wisconsin and certainly do have the guitar chops of Thin Lizzy, if a bit skinnier in terms of tone. "Candy" is pure pop sugar, while "Wild Child" has an underlying scuzzy fuzz. NYC's Church Bats could be accused of worshipping a little too devotedly at the feet of cavestomp artists. The way they ape that whole lo-fi, hollow recording aesthetic on "Foreign Man" could come across as fake, were it not for the fact that the song's a genuine rave-up, excellently contrasted by the perfect fuzzed-out instrumental "Half Man, Half Shellfish" that does Link Wray's grinding strip club undertones in a way I've not heard in ages. War Party's a-side is absolutely perfect psychedelic pop, but the b-side is another garage song about being drunk, and if you're not going to bring anything new, find something else to write about. Finally, John Wesley Coleman III's a-side is the cut that really doesn't grab me. "I Feel Like A Sad Clown" is fine enough power-pop, but "I Found A Home" is so absolutely off-kilter musically (that keyboard really goes freaky at points), but absolutely touching lyrically. It sounds like nothing so much as the Troggs covering "Care of Cell 44," and I can't get enough of it. You can listen to 8 out of the 12 tracks below, via Soundcloud. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/windian-records/sets/windian-subscription-series-3[/embed] The Windian Subscriptions Series #3 is available for order through the Windian Records store

The Nevermores, “Lock Your Doors” LP

cover - nevermoresBig thanks are due Magnetic South for resurrecting these 14 cuts from wherever they've been hidden the last 25 years. Honestly, at this point, I'd thought all the lost recordings worth hearing had been collected by Pebbles, Nuggets, Back From the Grave, Killed By Death, Bloodstains, et al, and that we were at the end of the road for quality dirtying rock 'n' roll. It's nice to be surprised. From the unlikely town of Bloomington, Indiana, comes the Nevermores: this great, strange, organ-fueled garage rock from the early '90s. This a band for which little information exists, and as the history on the back over was written with a eye to whimsey, it's difficult to parse what's fact and what's fantasy. That said, Gretchen Holtz is your most famous alumnus, having gone on to found the all-woman trash power trio the Smears, and you can hear a little of the dirt and filth in these songs. Not lyrically -- this is typical garage rock innocence, down to the point that the group turns "Auld Lang Syne" into a twistin' and turnin' masterpiece. The whole thing is ramshackle as hell, and to more sophisticated ears, this might sound like garbage. The absolute joy in these recordings has made it a favorite this past month or so, and while there's not a lot that really rises up and makes you wonder why the Nevermores weren't ever previously comped (the brilliant "Auld Lang Syne" notwithstanding), Lock Your Doors is way more fun than usually comes across the turntable these days. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/magnetic-south-recordings/nevermores-theme-from-nevermore[/embed] The Nevermores' Lock Your Doors is available from the Magnetic South store on black vinyl. It's limited to 300 copies, and comes with a fanastic-looking screenprinted jacket. There's no download code, but you should be spinning this on a turntable, anyway.

Weak Teeth, “So You’ve Ruined Your Life” LP

cover - weak teeth so you've ruined your lifeA more appropriate record for holiday release, I can't possibly imagine. Weak Teeth's sophomore full-length, So You've Ruined Your Life (out not from Tor Johnson Records) continues the anger and frustration the group started with on their debut single, and refines and focuses it even further than they did on What A Plague You Are. The stark imagery of the cover gives a clue as to what you'll find on the 12 inches of vinyl within the jacket. Weak Teeth rage against world destroyed by political infighting, but what really seems to come through is the yearning for something with meaning. "I'm Better Than OKay" sums it up best, with "a constant burden that you can't know or understand" being the throughline of So You've Ruined Your Life. The rage and frustration which comes through in everything -- the agonized vocals, the tense rhythms, and terse guitars -- actually find their greatest release in an instrumental, "Providence Music Scene Soccer Camp Trophy," which begins with FDR's Flag Day fireside chat, and then launches into a minor epic of stop-start blasts paired with wide-open stretches of grandiosity. When it ends, you feel exhausted and refreshed, like you've just been through a boxing match in a sweat lodge. Maybe it's come too late to make your best-of list for 2014, but Weak Teeth's So You've Ruined Your Life might be the first great album for 2015. From the moment the album blasts alive with "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Kill Yourself," to the fading moments of "Nothing Is Cool," you realize that you might've waited over three years for this record, but it's been totally worth it. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/dog-knights-productions/weak-teeth-life-is-bullshit[/embed] Weak Teeth's So You've Ruined Your Life is available on silver vinyl from the the Tor Johnson webstore, on mixed green vinyl from Riotous Outburst Records, or on clear with black smoke vinyl from the FITA Records store in the UK.

Acid Baby Jesus, “Selected Recordings” LP

cover - acid baby jesus selectedAcid Baby Jesus' last proper full-length, 2011's LP was kind of a hodgepodge of '60s rock tropes. There were sludgy stompers, flower-power psych jams, and jangly bouncy things. It was fun, but never quite got into regular rotation the way their "Hospitals" single had originally hooked us. In the meantime, they did a teamup with Hellshovel for the Voyager 8 EP, which was fun, but never really gelled the way I wanted it to. The two bands seemed to be doing their own things simultaneously, rather than finding a joint sound together, which really kept otherwise-agreeable numbers like "I Went Down" from clicking. So, why should you listen to their upcoming full-length, Selected Recordings, out November 17 from Slovenly Recordings? Because it's amazing! It's been a solid two years since the band's released anything of note (not counting the "Vegetable" single they released in advance of this back in September), and they've changed, but in a good way. The whole psychedelic rock thing is 100% in the forefront. The album manages to remain thematically and tonally coherent, while also playing around with tempos and textures. A big part of the problem with LP was that it sounded like a collection of singles, but Selected Recordings sounds like an album (although the names seem to suggest otherwise -- weird). Acid Baby Jesus remains the band they once were. You can hear echoes of LP in this new album -- "I'm Becoming a Man" rocks that dirty fuzz the same way "Tomboy" did, and "Row By Row" echoes the stomp and freakout of "Tyrannosaurus Rex." Also, in addition to just being recorded more coherently, Selected Recordings is sequenced in such a way that the album flows, rather than jumping from B to X to G to V to Z. By the end, you feel like you've journeyed down the river of Lethe, and things are groovy and all right. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/slovenly/acid-baby-jesus-selected-4[/embed]