Kite Party, “Baseball Season” LP

cover-kite-partySometimes I get a huge influx of review material, and something gets shuffled away, only to finally get pulled out on a Sunday morning and thrown on the turntable to refresh my memory. Kite Party‘s Baseball Season LP is one such record.

I’ll admit — I probably first listened to it in a rush of trying to just get through everything (one of those not a problem problems). Additionally, it probably got set aside more than once because it was vinyl, and I couldn’t remember where I put the download slip, and it didn’t get put on the iPod to listen to at work.
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Wolves At Bay, “Only A Mirror” LP

cover-wolves-at-bayWolves At Bay have a couple great tracks on their Only A Mirror album. “The Night A Forest Grew” and “Only A Mirror” manage to work some great riffs, but the vocals do nothing for me, and it seems like the songs might as well not exist, save for the buzzsaw guitar work.

There’s something about the whole Hot Water Music / Small Brown Bike / et al, underground, post-hardcore sound, that I cannot, for the life of me, ever get into. I know lots of people who derive a lot of pleasure from this music, and get a huge emotional boost from the genre. Personally, while this was exactly what was starting to happen when I was the age for it to grab me — 17, 18, 19 around the late ’90s — I missed it.
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The Fake Boys, “Pig Factory” LP

cover-fake-boys-pig-factoryThe Fake Boys are one those acts that — like Foo Fighters, American Hi-Fi, or Lit — synthesized the better parts of ’80s power-pop and melded them with ’80s glam metal. The riffs are punchy, fast, and packed more full of hooks than your average tacklebox. At points, listening to Pig Factory, you’re wondering if they had Rick Nielsen locked in a closet somewhere, just cranking out guitar lines for them.

On their Animal Style release, Pig Factory, the vocals are a little thin, which is really unfortunate, given the meaty aspect of the rest of the band. The bass fairly rumbles, the strings just slack enough to give it a hint of Motorhead, and the drumming’s big, but not Tommy Lee drum kit huge. Just a dude who knows how to pound the skins hard, and not use any jazzy accoutrements — it’s a series of simple, propulsive hits.
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Hold Tight, “Can’t Take This Away” LP

cover-hold-tightWhile enthusiastic, poppy, energetic punk rock ‘n’ roll is available in spades, a good catchy hardcore record is always a pleasure to listen to. Is Hold Tight‘s Can’t Take This Away memorable? No, not by a long shot. Every track reminds me of something else I’ve heard before – an H2O breakdown here, a Blink-182 run there, that thing where it’s just the dude crooning over a guitar before it gets all loud and rocking again. It’s familiar, but comfortable.

Listening to Can’t Take This Away is kind of like watching an episode of Friends. I haven’t watched the show in nearly a decade, but when I catch a re-run, even if I can’t tell you the exact plot line, I can make a pretty good guess as to what’s coming next. The whole situation doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the entertainment, but it’s not like I’m blown away, either. Even so, this is a tasty piece of punk rock candy Animal Style can add to their ever-growing jar of sweets.

Mixtapes’ “Maps” to see vinyl release

Basic CMYKTechnically, this is the first physical release of Mixtapes‘ debut recording, period. It’s been available only as a digital download since its release early last year, but it’s now coming out as the a-side to an LP from Animal Style Records. The b-side to this LP, which will be entitled Maps & Companions, is the Companions EP.

Companions features re-recorded, full-band versions of Maps‘ acoustic tracks “And If We Both Fail?,” “OrangeYellow,” and “Soups Whatever,” in addition to new songs “6 Quarters” and “I Accept That.” Animal Style hopes to have the LP – limited to a pressing of 500 – available in time for the Fest next month. Pre-orders will be posted soon to the Animal Style site, with a pressing breakdown as follows: 100 on orange/yellow, 200 on red, and 200 on clear with black.

Mixtapes’ Maps is still available as a pay-what-you-like download from Death to False Hope.

Born Without Bones, “Say Hello” LP

cover-born-without-bones-say-helloBorn Without Bones
Say Hello
(Animal Style Records)

Sometimes, when I listen to records for review, I don’t have time to listen to both sides of an LP at once. This means that, occasionally, I listen to side A in the morning and side B in the afternoon, or one side on Monday, and another on Tuesday. I take good notes, but every so often, it means that I miss certain details that would’ve been revealed in a listen that went all the way through.

In the case of Born Without Bones‘ new album, Say Hello, it took a Sunday afternoon listen all the way through to notice that each side has a completely different energy level than the other. Opening track, “Say Hello,” and its follow-up, “Out of Step,” are full to the brim with pop and energy. For that matter, the boundless energy follows through the entire first side. The second side? Acoustic. Evidently, frontman Scott Ayote had originally planned for the entire album to be acoustic, but he had a bunch of friends who wanted to play on the record.
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Half Hearted Hero, “Running Water” EP

cover-half-hearted-heroHalf Hearted Hero
Running Water
(Animal Style Records)

Animal Style has been putting out some solid pop-punk as of late. Their emphasis is on the pop edge of things, as evidenced by recent releases from Mixtapes and Born Without Bones, and the Running Water EP from the Massachusetts quintet, Half Hearted Hero, is no different.

Well, that might not be so accurate. While Half Hearted Hero is certainly tuneful and catchy, and will really appeal to fans who miss the glory days of Drive Thru Records, there’s a little more going on. The guitars have a certain throatiness to them. Things drop down into lower tunings here and there (especially on the album opener, “Five Points” and the second side track, “Mirrors”), helping to take the gloss off the whole affair.
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Pre-order two new 7-inch slabs o’ wax you must own

cover-mixtapes-hope-is-for-peoplePerennial favorites down here in the Nuthouse basement, Mixtapes, have yet another 7-inch on its way. Due out May, it’s entitled Hope is For People, and will be out on Animal Style Records. You can, of course, pre-order that sucker via the label’s store.

The pressing is limited to 500, with 200 each on pink and blue, and 100 on white. Preview the whole thing via the embedded Bandcamp widget below.

IKEBE702Also up for pre-order and preview, this next 7-inch (actually, a 45) comes from Ubiquity Records. Funk and soul heads already know that anything Ubiquity puts out is worth your money (just go buy everything they’ve done with Shawn Lee or Clutchy Hopkins and thank me later), and this new release comes from the Brooklyn act, Ikebe Shakedown.

Playing what can best be described as funk African boogaloo, their single “Tujunga” (also limited to 500 copies) comes out a week after the new Mixtapes, on May 10. Pre-order it from Ubiquity and stream the a-side below. If you like it enough, you can get a full-length on June 7.

Ikebe Shakedown – “Tujunga” by Ubiquity Records

Mixtapes, “A Short Collection of Short Songs” 7-inch

A Short Collection of Short Songs
(Animal Style)

Of the two vocalists in Mixtapes, Maura’s voice is the one I like best. It’s no knock on Ryan, who sings just fine, but her voice is distinctive, whereas he has the standard “pop-punk vocal” tone: slightly raspy, slightly nasal, but in tune and on key. Maura’s voice stands out in the same way Lauren from the Measure [sa]’s does. It’s difficult to put into words, but when you hear either of those ladies sing, you know you’re hearing a voice you’d notice anywhere and listen to anything it sang.
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Mixtapes have another release coming

cover-mixtapes-collectionRock Star Journalist is fast becoming a Mixtapes fansite. What can we say? We love the poppy punk from this Ohio foursome.

Coming fast on the heels of the announcement of their split with Direct Hit! (out soon on Kind of Like Records) is the announcement of another 7-inch. This one’s a solo release entitled A Short Collection of Short Songs, and is due out November 30 from Animal Style Records.

The six-song vinyl EP is limited to 500, with 100 on Orange/Yellow, 200 on Lime Green, and 200 on Electric Blue. Pre-orders will be announced shortly, but you can use Tweet For A Track to get a download of the song “I’m Like” right goddamn now. Do it — I just got done listening to it, and I’m going to do it again.

If that’s not enough Mixtapes for you, and you can’t wait to get your mitts on either A Short Collection of Short Songs or their split, you’re in luck. Their original from the Direct Hit! split, “I Was A Teenage Poltergeist,” can be had on the new (free!) compilation from Kind of Like Records, in addition to a whole bunch of great pop punk from the Dopamines, the Measure [SA], and so on. Take a look at the tracklisting and download that record, called Kind of Like A Comp at this link.