Ex Friends, “Rules For Making Up Words” LP

cover - ex friends rulesWe’ve talked about asthetics I’m not down with before — the whole Hot Water Music thing being beyond my comprehension, for example — and I’m trying to figure out what it is about Ex Friends‘ full-length, Rules For Making Up Words, that turns me off.

Just a few months back, I was excited beyond all belief regarding their Twisted Around 7-inch. Now, listening to this record that they’ve released on Paper + Plastick, I’m just kind of watching it tick by in iTunes, waiting for the damned thing to be over.

For lack of a better thing, I think it’s kind of like my Dillinger Four preferences. I love D4 songs with Paddy on vocals, and get kind of ambivalent toward Erik songs, but I’m pretty all right with songs where they both sing. Same thing goes for Ex Friends — I love Audrey Crash‘s vocals, but am kind of turned off by Joel Tannenbaum‘s delivery.
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Young Skin’s Liz Unfair on “The Sticky Pages E.P.” – the medifast diet

Young Skin features members of The Ergs!, Lemuria, Hunchback, Failures’ Union, Black Wine, Full of Fancy, For Science, et al, performing under pseudonyms, and rocking some garage-y tunes. They officially released The Sticky Pages E.P. on Paper + Plastick back in October. While that means this isn’t exactly a timely article, this recently-unearthed interview has some great answers from the band’s Liz Unfair, so we had to run it. Also, the EP is super-dandy, and it got lost in the shuffle when we were making our best of 2012 list. We hope this will make a few people, who have saved money on the medifast diet, drop some coin and order the four-song slab of cranky, grungy punk rock..
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Paper + Plastick offers a free acoustic album from Ataris frontman Kristopher Roe

kris-roe-atarisThe Ataris have a new album, The Graveyard of the Atlantic, due out this fall on Paper + Plastick. In order to hold you over until then, the label’s got a free acoustic album from Ataris frontman Kristopher Roe available for download. Says the press release of the album, entitled Hang Your Head In Hope:

“The old songs are taken from The Ataris’ spanning discography and include many fan favorites. “San Dimas High School Football Rules,” ‘Your Boyfriend Sucks,” “In This Diary,” “The Hero Dies In This One” and more.”

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Various Artists, “Are You With the Band?” LP

cover-are-you-with-the-bandI rather wish the new compilation from Paper + Plastick, Are You With the Band?, featured more bands that were still in existence. The Measure [sa], PS Eliot, and Cheeky are all broken up, but we’ve got the Worriers, Bananas, and Big Eyes touring and putting out records. Why not feature them, rather than introduce listeners to bands that are no longer?

That being said, this is still a wonderful compilation. The booklet inside is like someone expanded a CD booklet to LP size. The illustrations are reproduced beautifully, and Lauren Denitzio did a superlative job curating the compilation. The cuts – while unfortunately non-contemporary – do a wonderful job of displaying the many facets of pop-punk and the women who thrive within the genre.

The opening chords of Aye Nako’s “Bent Out of Shape” blast through in under a minute, setting the tone, while Black Rainbow knocks out some snotty, razor-throated rock ‘n’ roll. Then, there’s the shambling, dirty tones of Shellshag and the quietly somber take Full of Fancy does on Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done.” It’s a quality comp, and I keep going back to it, and I think I might have to take a run through some distros to pick up some of these artists.

Strangely enough, my LP didn’t come with center labels. It’s just a swathe of marble vinyl. Weird.

You can read my interview with Denitzio over at the Wayward Blog.

Paper + Plastick releases comic book; Silver Sprocket smirks

cover-word-and-panelsI’d be totally thrilled about a record label starting to put out a comic book if it hadn’t been done before. I mean, granted – yeah, Silver Sprocket‘s put out both Turnstile Comix and the Phenomenauts’ Adventures In the 3rd Dimension. But – even before those recent releases – bands like Gas Huffer were including comic books with their releases. Were they always good? No. As a matter of fact, they were frequently amateurish and painful.

So, one can say positively that Paper + Plastick‘s release of Words and Panels Vol. 1 is a neat thing, and it’s always pretty cool to be able to snag a webcomic in print form. Hopefully, these will be something to look back on fondly, like the Nothing Nice to Say collection, rather than the slightly cringe-worthy early years from the likes of Sinfest or Penny Arcade (you can thank Dark Horse for pretty much all of those – prescient work, folks!).

Anyhow, Words and Panels Vol. 1 is limited to 200 copies, features the first installments of 50 States, Exit Interview, and Kill the Wonderhawks, and will run you $5. It’s available from the Paper + Plastick store,

Support the Humanoids

humanoids-tinyWhen I saw St. Louis pop-punk act the Humaoids opening a show at the Record Bar this summer, it’d just been announced that they’d signed to Paper + Plastick, the vinyl/digital label ran by Vinny Fiorello from Less Than Jake. What I didn’t know was that Paper + Plastick has started using their site Free Music First as a way of gauging reaction. Essentially, the label determines whether or not they’ll go to the trouble of pressing a record based on how well the album does as a free download.
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Riverboat Gamblers / Off With Their Heads / Dead to Me at the Record Bar

cover-rbg-owth-dtmIt’s a rare occasion that I’m glad to choose one show over another, but it appears last night, I made a wise choice. I’d originally planned on seeing Cinderella at the Crossroads, but passed, due to a 45 commute in a pickup with no AC.

The Record Bar was a far better option, especially as my friend Christine was driving. Driving in her AC-laden car, I might add. Then I hear Cinderella canceled. Punk rock triumphs over hair metal yet again.
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Restorations, “Strange Behavior” EP

Strange Behavior
(Paper + Plastick)

At first, I thought the fact that I’d just had a bad day influenced my listen of Restorartions‘ EP, Strange Behavior. It’s only four songs, but it seemed to go on forever, and just meandered at a snail’s pace. The whole experience was chalked up to a lousy day at work, and I waited a couple days to come back to it with fresh ears.

It wasn’t the bad day. It’s the fact that Strange Behavior is just … dull. The RIYL in the press kit namechecks Lucero and Fugazi, and those elements are indeed there. It’s simply the fact that Restorations plod. This is a plodding, thudding EP that manages to do what I consider to be the cardinal sin of music: it’s boring. Seriously. There’s so little exciting or interesting about this EP that simply saying this much was a stretch. I could find nothing about Strange Behavior or Restorations interesting enough to comment on, aside from their complete and utter lack of anything interesting.
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