Category Archives: The TVD Record Store Club

TVD Radar: Record Store Crawl announces second annual series of dates across US record shops

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Audiophiles, record enthusiasts, and music lovers are invited to join the second annual series of official Record Store Crawls, taking place in various U.S. cities throughout the next few months.

The first of this year’s Record Store Crawls takes place in New York City on Record Store Day, April 22nd, while the remainder of the cities’ Crawls will take place from June through August. Participants will be escorted by bus to some of each city’s best record stores with performances from various artists along the way. Tickets range from $34.95 to $59.95, and can be purchased at www.recordstorecrawl.com.

Record Store Crawl participants will enjoy: • A seat on the Record Store Crawl bus • A one-of-a-kind performance • Food and drinks • A gift bag including a mystery vinyl LP and other limited edition gifts • Discounts at participating records stores; and • Various other giveaways.

Bands confirmed to perform at select Record Store Crawl dates include: Savoire Adore (Nettwerk Records); Craig Brown Band (Third Man Records); Four By Fate (The End Records); The Sweeplings (Nettwerk Records), Angelica Garcia (Warner Bros. Records), Ryan Kinder (Warner Music Nashville), Steff and the Articles (independent), and more to be announced. Record Store Crawl is proudly presented in partnership with Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, March 2017

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for March, 2017. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Molly Burch, Please Be Mine (Captured Tracks) This study in classic femme vocal pop form will probably leave “heard it all before” cynics unimpressed, but Burch and her band excel at skirting triteness; Patsy Cline is a clear and admitted influence, yet the tunes avoid twang and instead gravitate toward the Brill building and Spector. Furthermore, her background in collegiate jazz vocal studies insures a talented showing but with nary a supper-club cliché in sight. Largely cut in one day, Please Be Mine places Burch somewhere between Hope Sandoval and Britta Phillips, and it’s a treat. A-

Thelma, S/T (Tiny Engines) Beginning as the solo project of Natasha Jacobs, evolving circumstances resulted in the full band scenario of Thelma. It’s a maneuver helping to loosen the “confessional” tag too frequently slapped onto the records of female singer-songwriters. Don’t think this smartly economical seven-song debut lacks emotional heft, it just doesn’t get overtaken by it. Instead, Jacobs’ voice is pretty and playful without preciousness as the indie rock-ish instrumentation, often quite heavy, is productively enhanced with electronic elements. But it’s her writing that makes this one a winner. A-

REISSUE PICKS: Camera Obscura, “Teenager” and “Keep It Clean” (Elefant) 25th anniversary first-time vinyl reissues of two EPs from this long-running Scottish group’s classic sophomore full-length. At the time (’03), they were routinely lumped with Belle and Sebastian (not unfairly, as Stuart Murdoch produced their debut), but Underachievers upped the bite in their brand of twee indie pop; “Teenager,” “Keep It Clean,” and that EP’s “Suspended from Class” get to the heart of this development, while “A Sister’s Social Agony” hits a fruitful ’50s vibe. The bonuses cut mustard, especially “Amigo Mio.” A- / A-

Albert Ayler, Prophecy (ESP-Disk) Ayler’s regular appearances in this column relate to personal fondness exacerbated by memories of the once terrible difficulty in laying hands on this key avant-jazz figure’s records. As his work continues to pepper our ongoing vinyl resurgence, spreading the news feels essential; bluntly, Ayler rates as one of the 20th century’s sweetest musical iconoclasts. This is his trio, filled out with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, captured live in ’64 at NYC’s Cellar Café. Later included on CD with the mind-blowing Bells, this is a core piece of the puzzle. A-

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, March 2017

Part one of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for March, 2017.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: The Feelies, In Between (Bar/None) A considerable internal debate transpired over awarding this pick status. Not due to matters of quality, but rather that I’d come-off as an utter sycophant regarding a band I’ve long loved as they gravitate toward strum-pop. It’s a style that’s always been a facet in their overall attack, but the increase here turns these Hoboken beauties’ second post-recommencement album into a grower of sublime proportions. With a refreshing lack of late-career baggage, it’s crystal clear this is what The Feelies want to be doing. If you’re a fan, you’ll eat it up. A

Cindy Lee Berryhill, The Adventurist (Omnivore) Berryhill’s first album in decade is a gorgeous song cycle inspired by her late husband (and Crawdaddy magazine founder) Paul Williams, and it’s a long way from “Damn, I Wish I Was a Man” and her stature as a prime player in the late-’80s anti-folk movement. Here, warm and woody production (thanks to recurring use of cello and violin) and a crack band including Syd Straw, DJ Bonebrake, Danny Frankel, and Probyn Gregory and Nelson Bragg of Brian Wilson’s group, enhance Berryhill’s already splendid writing, as she’s nimble of finger and strong of voice throughout. A-

REISSUE PICKS: Buzzcocks, “Spiral Scratch” and Time’s Up (Domino) A core document of DIY punk (self-released on their New Hormones label) and one of the genre’s greatest statements, the limited-edition reissue of “Spiral Scratch” came out in late January; it’s still very much available and pairs nicely with this 11-track studio session. Recorded for 45 pounds at Revolution Studios in October of 1976, Time’s Up isn’t as sharply honed as the EP, but it does deliver a glorious glimpse of brilliance in bloom. NOTE: these two releases encompass the audio portion of Domino’s new Buzzcocks Mk. 1 box set. A+ / A-

V/A, The Sound of Jazz (Analogue Productions) This one ain’t cheap, but as history it’s indispensable; derived from the December 8, 1957 CBS telecast Seven Lively Arts, this gave the mainstream public a rich taste of the jazz milieu, with music consultants Whitney Balliett and Nat Hentoff insuring the opportunity was not wasted. They roped in Basie’s cornerstone band, the post-Armstrong-isms of the Henry Allen Orchestra, Lady Day with Mal Waldron, plus Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Pee Wee Russell, and Jimmy Giuffre. Everyone is in fine if not peak form. Special is an understatement. A

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, February 2017

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for February, 2017. Part one is here. 

NEW RELEASE PICKS Satoko Fujii, Invisible Hand (Cortez Sound) Satoko Fujii Joe Fonda Duet (Long Song), and Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo Peace (Libra) Like a lot of jazzers, Japanese pianist Fujii has a loaded discography; these three are her most recent, running from Invisible Hand’s two CDs worth of solo action through the sustained inspiration of Duet’s lengthy duo with US bassist Fonda (and shorter trio with guest trumpeter Natsuki Tamura) to expansive-eclectic large band creativity. Fujii’s avant bona fides bring cohesiveness to all three tricky modes, including the raucous beauty of Peace. A-/ A-/ A

REISSUE PICKS The Skatalites, Foundation Ska (Studio One) Originally on the Heartbeat label, this is an utter doozy, collecting 32 tracks of jazzy groove bliss from one of Jamaican music’s greatest collectives. Indeed foundational; this is all material waxed for Coxsone Dodd, some from before the group was known as The Skatalites, with other tracks originally issued under the names of the individual composer or main soloist. Although far from comprehensive, this sprinkles in a few nifty vocal cuts across its four sides, and is a carefully compiled, essential hunk of the genre’s history. A+

The Damned, Damned Damned Damned (BMG) Brit punk’s first LP remains one of the best the genre ever coughed out. Given its stature and frequency of reissue, this shouldn’t be too difficult to find on the cheap, but those needing a Cadillac copy should cozy up to this 40th anniversary deluxe edition. The lack of bonuses is a plus, as the original Nick Lowe-produced sequence is essentially perfect. With cornerstones “Neat Neat Neat” and “New Rose” opening each side, it features thud, snot, a Stooges hat-tip finale, and amp spillage that burns like a dose of the heavenly clap: What else could one need? A+

10,000 Russos, “Fuzz Club Session” (Fuzz Club) This Portuguese heavy psych trio’s S/T full-length debut came out on Fuzz Club in 2015, so their getting chosen as the second installment in the label’s new vinyl series (Seattle’s Night Beats delivered the inaugural entry) makes complete sense. Given the freedom to do anything they want during 30 minutes of studio time, the group picked two from 10,000 Russos, an older non-LP number (“Policia Preventiva” from the Fuzz Club Festival 2015 live tape) and what appears to be an unreleased song. The whole is loaded with motorik drive and reverberating amps. B+

Ahmed Abdul-Malik, The Eastern Moods of Ahmed Abdul-Malik (Doxy) Originally from 1962 on Prestige, this was Abdul-Malik’s fifth LP in a series of Middle Eastern folk and jazz fusions; it features a smaller more cohesive group than on previous sessions, with Abdul-Malik alternating between bass and oud. Mostly remembered today as one of Thelonious Monk’s bass players, Abdul-Malik’s claim to Sudanese ancestry is apparently spurious, though his actual Caribbean descent hasn’t overtaken the fiction, possibly because his records thrive on ingenuity and a palpable sense of the sincere. B+

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, February 2017

Part one of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for February, 2017. 

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Howe Gelb, Future Standards (Fire) As the title clarifies, this plunge into the Great American Songbook focuses entirely on ambiance; rather than corralling the umpteenth versions of bedrock compositions, Gelb tackles 12 of his own with satisfying and increasingly intimate results. Favoring depth of mood over an interpretational tightrope, he gets to keep and eat his cake, reveling in the foundational appeal of chestnuts while leading a warm piano trio (and occasionally duetting with Lonna Kelley) on a program of classic-minded yet subtly and fruitfully off-center tunes. A-

Mark Eitzel, Hey Mr. Ferryman (Merge) Gelb and Eitzel’s co-headlining tour reaches into the springtime, and based on the ex-American Music Club leader’s tenth solo effort in a long career attendees shouldn’t leave disappointed. These 11 tracks (+ two bonuses) rank high in Eitzel’s discography, largely due to the input of former Suede guitarist and solo artist Bernard Butler; his extensive instrumental contribution and supervisory role, sometimes symphonically bold and at other moments almost Brit-folk restrained, enhances the singer-songwriter’s veteran touch and produces a late-work of polished intensity. A-

REISSUE PICKS: Max Roach, We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite (Cornbread) Not just a monumental achievement in jazz but one of the 20th century’s finest protest artworks. The key to this LP’s present day resonance is directly related to the refusal to tone down the musical verve in favor of the message, eschewing a tactic that reduced the lasting impact of a whole lotta folk stuff from the same era. To the contrary, Abbey Lincoln’s letting loose during the middle portion of “Triptych: Prayer/ Protest/ Peace” still triggers goosebumps. With Coleman Hawkins, Booker Little, Julian Priester etc. A+

Vic Chesnutt, Little and Drunk (New West) The Mike Stipe-produced 1990 debut Little and third album Drunk are two of seven entries from Chesnutt’s superb catalog scheduled for vinyl reissue across 2017. A demo so effective nobody wanted to attempt improving upon it, Little gets to the core of this inspirational and much missed singer-songwriter’s talent. Brandishing lyrics laced with poetry, his (mostly) solo acoustic folk approach lends familiarity to the eccentricities, and a similar effect is achieved on the more rock-inclined Drunk. Both are key works from a one-of-a-kind artist. A- / A-

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, January 2017

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for January, 2017. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICK: OST, Iris (Erased Tapes) Composer Dustin O’Halloran and Stars of the Lid member Adam Wiltzie are A Winged Victory for the Sullen, and their blend of modern classical, ambient, and drone gets its third full-length release via the soundtrack to the 2016 French thriller from director Jalil Lespert. While often tagged as cinematic, this is the duo’s first film score, with the music on prior album Atomos serving as accompaniment to a dance piece by choreographer Wayne McGregor. Iris taps into the above-listed styles and underlines the duo as a major exponent in contemporary post-rock. A-

REISSUE PICK: Pat Thomas & Ebo Taylor, Sweeter Than Honey, Calypso “Mahuno” And High Lifes Celebration (Presch Media GmbH) This reissues an excellent and pricey 1980 LP from a pair of Nigerian Highlife kingpins, Thomas the vocalist and Taylor the composer, arranger and lead guitarist. Those having scooped up Strut’s 3LP/ 2CD Thomas retrospective Coming Home will know this album’s “Ma Huno,” and it delivers Sweeter Than Honey its highpoint. But that’s no indictment of the quality found throughout this superb if succinct album, for in the truth in titling department, this baby rates high. A

Amas, Grill (Presch Media GmbH) Per PMG’s promo blurb, which quotes extensively from Peter Moore via the website African Revolutions, not only is Nigerian vocalist Gbubemi Amas smooth, articulate, cultured, and classy, he also possesses immaculate enunciation on this reish of a big-bucks 1981 boogie funk LP. Indeed, furthering the good-natured vibe is a cover of “Fire and Rain,” with Amas’ version closer to pop crooning than boogie or funk. Lacking the kick of Afro-rock or Highlife, this is solidly in the post-disco pop mold. Exuding hints of Talking Heads and Boz Scaggs, “Slow Down” is a highlight. B

Bash & Pop, Friday Night is Killing Me (Sire/Reprise) Tommy Stinson, with a lengthy cast of notables on hand, has a new record coming out this week under the revived Bash & Pop moniker. It’s titled Anything Could Happen, and I haven’t heard it. Hopefully, what happens will mark an improvement upon this formerly one and done group’s ’93 release, which is hitting vinyl for the first time on 1/24. To be fair, Stinson’s initial post-Replacements effort isn’t terrible; in fact, it’s a little better than the Mats’ final effort All Shook Down. Giving it a fresh spin, it persists as an okay but not terribly exciting listen. B

Black Anvil, As Was (Relapse) Reportedly one of the few black metal acts based in New York City, Black Anvil are now four albums deep, with all but their 2008 debut Time Insults the Mind on Relapse. That sort of label consistency frequently bodes well for overall quality, and so it is here. This is exactly the sort of LP to stoke the demonic fire of the genre’s sticklers the globe over, as it’s got the mauling guitars, the thudding rhythms, and the threatening croak-growl in spades, but there is a musicality to the 8-songs in 50-minutes that helps them to stand out. Familiar moves resist becoming mere tropes. A-

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, November 2016

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the reissued wax presently in stores for November, 2016. Part one is here.

REISSUE PICK: Jungle Brothers, Done by the Forces of Nature (Get On Down) Jazzed by We Got It from Here…? Jonesing for more in the same vein? If so, then check out the 2LP reissue of this ’89 classic from Tribe’s contemporaries. To be accurate, Mike Gee, Africa Baby Bam, and DJ Sammy B slightly preceded their cohorts in the Native Tongues collective, blazing a trail without reaping the immediate recognition; instead, they’ve been the next step for those knocked out by 3 Feet High or People’s Instinctive Travels. Through uplift and inclusion, this sharp album’s immaculate flow has only improved with age. A

REISSUE RUNNER-UP: Waylon Jennings, Dreaming My Dreams (Fat Possum) That Jennings’ 22nd album (in a decade!) is arguably the best he ever cut inspires pause, for that’s hardly ever how it works. Ultimately, the fact reflects newfound artistic freedom through a fresh RCA deal, and the byproduct is subdued but rich with positives; tributes to Hank and Bob Wills (the latter recorded live in Austin), production (by Jennings and Jack Clement) that disdains overdubs, and an utterly non-dated atmosphere. The man is in superb voice (of course he is), and the material consistently delivers. A

Las Kellies, Friends and Lovers (Fire) The fifth studio album (and third for Fire) from this Argentinian grrl group (herein composed of Silvina and Cecilia Kelly) is impressively varied, its contents inhabiting the post-punk end of the spectrum; there’s the soul liberation through body movement of “Sugar Beat,” the reggae-infused “Tied to a Chain,” the riffy VU-update “Make it Real,” the new wavy “I’m on Fire,” the indie poppish “Summer Breeze,” and up-tempo rocker “I Don’t Care.” And that’s just the first six cuts; the LP’s second half tightens the focus. “Sundays” is a late pop-tinged highlight. A-

Lungfish, Rainbows from Atoms (Dischord) From the perch of hindsight some have painted this as a formative work, but at the time this third LP connected as a major stride forward. Sure, the Baltimore group’s roots in ’80s post-HC emo are still very much in evidence (“Mother Made Me,” “Open House,” “Seek Sound Shelter”), but Daniel Higgs’ poetic sensibility was beginning to cohere (“Fresh Air Cure” and especially “Creation Story”) and the cyclical-drone-roar was rapidly evolving as well (“Instrument,” “8.21.2116,” “You Might Ask Me What,” closer “Seek Sound Shelter” again). A minor classic. A-

Harvey Mandel, Snake Pit (Tompkins Square) Guitarist Mandel contributed to a handful of classics (like Charlie Musselwhite’s debut) but he’s also taken part in some iffy sonic situations, so I approached his first widely distributed album in two decades with a certain amount of trepidation. Recorded over two days at Berkeley, CA’s Fantasy studios with a solid band (all Ryley Walker alumni), like a percentage of Mandel’s prior output (e.g. Baby Batter) this is all-instrumental blues-rock; the fusion-y use of keyboards/ strings inspires a personal tug-of-war between pleasure and ambivalence. B

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, November 2016

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the brand new wax presently in stores for November, 2016. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICK: Wadada Leo Smith, America’s National Parks (Cuneiform) This 96-minute six-movement suite might seem an arduous undertaking, but in resisting nature’s majesty in favor of celebrating the idea of preservation and public works, the trumpeter-composer sidesteps Ansel Adams-style grandeur for the poetic (think Whitman and Gary Snyder). And by celebrating New Orleans, the Mississippi River, and the writing of Eileen Jackson Southern as deserving of National Park status, he eclipses the danger of mere respectfulness. Yet another highpoint in a long, distinguished career. A+

NEW RELEASE RUNNER-UP: Elliott Sharp, Port Bou (Infrequent Seams) Sharp’s been a crucial part of avant-NYC from the late ’70s right up to this release, an opera devoted to the final moments in the life of philosopher Walter Benjamin at Port-Bou Spain in 1940 as he fled Nazi-occupied France. The tenor of the times has surely deepened the emotional impact of this demanding but not formidable avant-classical work, but the primary reasons are bass-baritone Nicholas Isherwood, pianist Jenny Lin, accordionist William Schimmel, and of course Sharp, who adds electro-acoustic backing tracks. A

Apostles, S/T (Presch Media GmbH) Once The Funkees left for London, it was reportedly The Apostles who stepped into the void to become the leaders of the Nigerian rock scene; this first-time reissue of a ’76 EMI LP is proof positive pudding. Presch Media states that album opener “Never Too Late” “could well be the best Afro Rock song ever recorded,” and after listening that seemingly bold statement isn’t at all farfetched. Although they don’t maintain that level of quality, the rest is consistently up to snuff, particularly the organ-infused “Play Girl” and the psychedelic guitar flights all over side two. A-

Beastie Vee, “Vee Sides” (BUFU) Native of France Bastien Vandevelde previously beat the skins for Juan Wauters. Beastie Vee is his side project, tagged as post-punk/ noise rock; I’d assess it as nearer to the former, though to Vandevelde’s credit it’s not easy to draw direct lines to precedent. “Outro” sets this 4-song EP into motion and is something This Heat fans might want to check out, a scenario that persists during “Lvvrrss.” A subterranean ’80s vibe does inform “Make a Wish Break a Stick,” while the brief “Bonus Clic” concludes matters with shout-racket. Promising stuff. B

Kadhja Bonet, The Visitor (Fat Possum/ Fresh Selects) Enjoyable debut from an LA soulster with a considerable amount of tradition in her scheme, though the finished product still connects as a contempo situation. Merging psychedelia with strains of sci-fi and hip-hop rhythm during “Intro: Earth Birth,” much of what follows extends from the progressive soul-R&B of the 1970s, utilizing string-sections, bilingualism, and a general tony atmosphere to positive effect. Falling short of a knockout, folks with collections holding Roberta Flack, Curtis Mayfield, Sun Ra, and Shabazz Palaces should investigate. B

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, November 2016

Part one of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new or reissued wax presently in stores for November, 2016.

NEW RELEASE PICK: Wayne Hancock, Slingin’ Rhythm (Bloodshot) Specializing in ’40s-’50s honky-tonk, rockabilly and post-Bob Wills country bop, Hancock’s been dishing it out for over two decades; his latest solidifies the unlikelihood he’ll ever modernize his style, and that’s good news all around. Unashamedly throwback, the depth of feeling, lack of playacting, and utter love for bygone genres keeps him out of the mere retro pile. As usual, a few wildcards are pulled from his sleeve, e.g. the rich gospel of “Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine” and a sweet reading of the Merle Travis nugget “Divorce Me C.O.D.” A

REISSUE PICK: V/A, Cologne Curiosities: The Unknown Krautrock Underground 1972-1976 (Mental Experience) An intriguing reissue from one of the multiple subsidiaries of the Spanish label Guerssen, the consumer hook comes in form of a question: “the Nuggets of Krautrock?” Opener “Interstellar Shortwave” by The Astral Army gets off to an underwhelming start, but thereafter the program expands rather nicely. The story here relates to lathe cut LPs from a “label” called Pyramid that were art objects rather than store-bought items, and if not in the league of Nuggets it’s surely good listening. A-

Hamish Anderson, Trouble (Kobalt/AWAL) From Melbourne and currently residing in LA, this is Anderson’s debut studio LP after a couple of EPs and live album. Noted for his guitar prowess, he’s undoubtedly got chops, but the accolade ultimately isn’t about flash. Instead it relates to his bluesy approach; citing Albert, B.B. and Freddie King as influences, the trifecta underscores a decidedly pro-like sophistication. Roping in over a half-dozen session heavies, the songwriting here is impressive and the results likeable a la Petty or the Black Crowes, but I’ll confess to needing a higher ratio of grit. B

Arrowhead, Desert Cult Ritual (Ripple) Stoner stuff from Down Under, specifically Sydney, that has its Sabbath-isms in check, largely keeps the vocal wail of Brett Pearl from going overboard in the mix (he also plays guitar), and retains a proper balance of heaviness to riff motion, with drummer Matt Cramp and bassist Arron Fletcher forming a powerful rhythm section. There’s also plenty of psych-tinged pedal-stomping going on, which assists in keeping the pot-permeated grooves from getting monochromatic, man. A few more stinky behemoths like “Weed Lord” would take these guys right over the top. B+

Tredici Bacci, Amore Per Tutti (NNA Tapes) Simon Hanes’ influences range from soundtracks to big band to exotica to Broadway stuff infused with an aura of the New York-ish New, and this debut LP puts a gaggle of guest vocalists (JG Thirlwell, Ruth Garbus, Jennifer Charles, Ryan Power) in front of a classically trained crew as Hanes adopts the persona “Luxardo” in his role as arranger, composer, conductor, and guitarist. Edgy yet approachable, I’m reminded a bit of Zorn and Mike Patton’s soundtrack stuff and even Hal Wilner in a not-bad way. Classique post-modern on the cusp of great things. B+

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores, October 2016

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new or reissued wax presently in stores for October, 2016. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICK: Tony Molina, “Confront the Truth” (Slumberland) An 8-song 7-inch in a B&W pic sleeve radiating like a gem rescued from a dusty 50 cent bin, these guitar-pop miniatures lean toward Beatles-esque psych, particularly the utter gem “Hung Up On the Dream,” which oozes the influence of “Strawberry Fields…” with nary a trace of heavy-handedness. Fully stuffed platters such as this surfaced with some regularity back in the ’90s, and Molina’s brevity also recalls early Guided by Voices, but “No One Told He” actually reaches 2:28 as it extends the moves Teenage Fanclub copped from Big Star. A

REISSUE PICK: The Flesh Eaters, Forever Came Today (Superior Viaduct) As great as A Minute to Pray a Second to Die? Nope, and frankly only an overzealously ruthless B-movie reform school taskmaster would demand such a thing. But hey, Chris Desjardins does get in the ballpark, assembling a fresh band (only saxophonist Steve Berlin remains from the prior unit) for a leaner, harder rocking result. Easier for punk sticklers to digest (the genre mavens I know have taken a liking to it, at least), the playing is anything but generic and one of rock’s most fruitfully unconventional vocalists is in fine form. A

Axis:Sova, Motor Earth (God? Records) Third full-length effort from a project led by Brett Sova, and it really only takes a listen to understand its release through the Drag City-distributed imprint of Ty Segall. This shouldn’t be misconstrued as an exercise in predictability, however; comparable garage guitar haze is definitely in evidence, but so are some very pleasurable differences, in particular an occasional use of drum-box giving “Emoticog” a more than passing resemblance to Metal Urbain and a consistent psych-punk quality reaching an apex in the extended amp-pedal shitstorm “Routine Machine.” A-

Kurt Baker Combo, In Orbit (Wicked Cool) Garage denizen Steven Van Zandt is a fan, but this is better pegged as a Raspberries-Cheap Trick scenario dolled up in punk finery a la the Replacements. Some tough biscuits are sure to consider this album too polished/ calculated, an assessment missing Baker’s musical point; during “Baby’s Gone Bad” and especially “Modern Day Rock N Roll Girl,” In Orbit deftly approximates early ‘80s power pop-new wave FM radio crossover. A cover of Devo’s “Jerkin’ Back ‘N’ Forth” is carried into the neighborhood of The Romantics, so if that sounds enticing, step right up. B+

Born Loose, “Death from Above” (Hound Gawd!) This label’s running theme is punk with the emphasis on rock. With a moniker nodding to Johnny Thunders, Born Loose dive into the ’76-’78 zone and come out faster and brawnier, so it’s clear these five songs derive from the present-day; simultaneously, the band (which features members of Candy Snatchers, Iron Prostate, Ghetto Ways, and Heroin Sheiks) avoid befouling the waters with any offputtingly contempo gestures. The cover art is by Mort Todd, so this tidy blast should really stoke fans of the Back from the Grave comps also into New Bomb Turks. A-

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