Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Monday Night Record Shopping at Speck's Records & Tapes.

I'd been meaning to check out Speck's for close to a year, and I finally made it over last Monday night. (We have a zero-year-old at home and my free time has been mercilessly ripped from my grasp, never to return.) It's in the Kenton neighborhood and has only been open for about a year.

Folks, this is my kind of record store. Cassettes, well-organized crates, a "NW" section which I pulled a ton of records from...I really don't have enough nice things to say about Speck's and Michael, the dude who runs it. He was very cool to me, his prices are mad fair, and I went home with a gang of great stuff. First, my cassette purchases:

That Faith No More tape is a rare one for me. I have the maxi-CD (the same one I've had since I bought it when it came out), but I'm not sure I've ever even seen the cassette. Looks great right under Angel Dust.

The L.A. Posse tape is sealed. The Luke tape is the clean version of his I Got Shit On My Mind album, which I have the cassette of. Thank god. Definitely need to keep both versions of that on hand. I think that Oaktown's 3.5.7 tape was a buck, which I was happy to shell out. I bought that Asphalt Ballet tape (also sealed) because I've got this KGON calendar from 1992 that I hang on my wall in my basement and every February I stare at them, wondering what exactly their deal is:

You just know those dudes were ass-rocking in lace spandex a year before that photo was taken. Alright, let's get into the records:

Comrade Bane - "Childhood Bridge" 7" (1993)

Out of Portland in '93 and I'd never heard of this. Nabbed it for cheap. It's Gits-y.

And that was the only 7" I picked up.

Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990)

Cleeeeeeean copy of this for a real reasonable price. Just realized it's a 1997 reissue but whatever. Early Freddie Foxxx verse on this one.

Scandal - Really Worth Waiting For (1978)

Pop/rock out of Eugene, OR. Because the internet is great, here is the Eugene Register-Guard reviewing it in December of 1978. And here's the title track.

The Esquires - Play (1987)

Funk-blues out of Portland on the Flying Heart Records label. This one looks real sweet. Includes a lyric insert.

The Esquires - The Esquires (1982)

Earlier release by the same gang of Portland musicians. They have another LP in between these two; I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for that one.

Wild Bill - Let's Look for the Good Times (197?)

Folk/country out of Vancouver, WA. Pretty big-time album cover for a private-press-type situation. Wondering if ol' Bill legit brought the cops out with his wacky antics.

Tom McFarland - Just Got In From Portland (1986)

Also on the Flying Heart Records label out of Portland. Tom's looking to play some blues for you.

Tom Miles - It's So Easy (1986)

Private-press country-pop out of Portland. 19th and SE Morrison, to be exact. Having trouble finding much info on this dude.

Wildman Steve - King of Them All (197?)

I own another album by Steve, his Wild! Wild! Wild! Wild! LP, so I guess I figured I might as well pick this one up. This is one of those "party records" you've heard about. You honestly don't see these in the NW too much. I always see them when I'm in LA or the East Coast. Which probably makes sense.

Rhinoceros - Satin Chickens (1969)

I have the first Rhinoceros LP, which I bought a few years ago after looking at it and seeing that Billy Mundi - who previously was in The Mothers of Invention - played drums on it. I liked it and I'm curious to hear this one. It's jammy, freewheelin' peacenik rock, I know that already.

Woody Simmons - Oregon Mountains (1977)

Private-press lesbian virtuoso banjo jams. Title says Oregon but it seems to be out of San Francisco.

Crazy 8's - Out of the Way (1986)

I think this might be my first Crazy 8's record. Portland's own ska-pop fun-time band. I'm just a little too young to have been fully aware, but I remember hearing their name all the time on the radio when I was a kid. They may have played the Starry Night. I bet they did.

Can't wait to get back to Speck's. Too much good stuff. I gotta be careful.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Event Attendance: The 2018 Eugene Record Show - February 25, 2018.

Was telling myself I'd missed the Eugene Record Show last year but attended the year before, but after checking my records I determined that it had, in fact, been two years since I last made the jaunt. I was due.

So with federal-tax-return cash in wallet, I left Portland at 8AM to make it to the Eugene Hilton by 10. Rain was heavy but traffic was light, so I made it down there right on schedule, and at 10 sharp I was waiting in line with a my fellow rain-soaked, bearded losers.

I bought mostly LPs on this trip, but I did pick up some cassettes. Check 'em:
That Juice Crew tape for 3 bucks? That's some shit right there. I used to have that Velvet Underground 2-tape live reunion set when I lived in Eugene (1996-ish) and I remember being really into it for a while. No idea what happened to it. Seemed fitting to pick it up. Mercury Rev was an impulse buy.

I also picked up a short stack of 7" records. Some solid stuff here:

Coffin Break - "Kill the President" 7" (1991)

The back cover of this one features Jesse Helms fucking a donkey. Button pushers! Flip is a precious 90's anti-censorship call-to-action.

Dwarves - "She's Dead" 7" (1990)

I have the black vinyl version of this one; this is the white vinyl. Includes the B-side "Fuckhead." Total running time for both songs? One minute, twelve seconds.

Dwarves - Lucifer's Crank 7" (1991)

Blue vinyl. 9 songs on this 45, and I think they're older than 1991. Includes an alternate version of "She's Dead," along with the classics "Get Pregnant," "Dead Brides," and "Eat You to Survive." Sound quality can only be described as "dicey at best."

Kurt Vile - "He's Alright" 7" (2009)

Already had the black vinyl version of this record; this is the "sky blue" edition. It's got some white mixed in with the blue. You know, like a sky.

Kurt Vile - "In My Time" 7" (2010)

Couple of alt versions of some Smoke Ring for My Halo tracks and another unreleased song. I am a Kurt Vile fan.

And that was it for 7" records. Didn't realize how many LPs I bought until I got home and unloaded my trusty satchel. Fat stack. Good mix of stuff here:

Jr. Cadillac - Classic 1977-1978 (1979)

I am actively collecting private-press NW records at this point, and the dealer that I normally go to first at this show was right inside the door like he always is, and he actually had a whole section of vintage Northwest vinyl. I ended up buying a bunch of stuff from this dude, like I usually do: he's always got the best organized and priced Beatles, Doors, Zappa, and Talking Heads records, and I've learned to go through his stuff before I go anywhere else. I could've bought more from him, honestly. I stopped looking after my pile got a little wobbly. Anyway - this is a band out of Seattle who put a bunch of records out on their own label during the 70s and 80s.

Lloyd Jones - The Lloyd Jones Struggle (1986)

Blues guitarist out of Portland who is still active, I believe. Signed on the back to "Brian."

Lloyd Jones - Small Potatoes (1989)

Lloyd's follow-up. This is on Portland's Criminal Records label, as was the previous one.

The Razorbacks - More Love Less Attitude (1986)

LP out of Portland on the Nebula Circle label, which is listed at being on 34th and SE Hawthorne. Here they are performing the title track. I love the internet.

The Doors - Strange Days (1967)

I believe this is the second Taiwanese Strange Days bootleg I own. This one uses the original back cover for the front cover and prints the full lyrics on the back - and they're impressively correct. Usually with these records the printed lyrics are wildly, hilariously off. Though on the label "I Can't See Your Face In My Mind" is listed as "I can't see your face in my mine." So that's something.

Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts - Johnny Limbo and the Lugnuts (1985)

When it comes to bands I saw the most as a young child, these guys are at the top of the list. Think I saw 'em twice. Fan club address is listed as being in Wilsonville.

The Doors - The Soft Parade (1969)

Not sure why I owned four copies of Waiting for the Sun and zero copies of this record, but that was the score going into this one. This is a mid-70's pressing, but I finally got a nice clean copy of what I consider a very underrated album from the band from Venice.

The Doors - Morrison Hotel (1970)

This is hard for me to admit, but I didn't own this one, either, and it's usually my favorite Doors album. But it's fixed now: this is a sweeeeeet original pressing of this - the cover and vinyl are both in great shape. And I can say that I now have solid copies of every Doors studio album. Phew.

Group Du Jour - Wonderful Vision (1987)

New-wave synth-pop out of Portland that I'm already liking.

Sand - Sand (1973)

I bought this band's other LP late last year (possibly from this same dude) and I've been on the lookout for this one, their debut, ever since. It's a weird one: gatefold cover housing two slabs of one-sided vinyl. You never have to stop the music, brother. Country-rock out of Portland on an MGM subsidiary label.

Billy Idol - "Heroin" 12" (1993)

Double 12" on white vinyl with 8 ridiculous long-ass remixes of an already ridiculous song. I am all about this. I need a copy of Cyberpunk on wax, stat.

And all of those LPs were from that same guy. I had to move on.

The Paul DeLay Band - The Paul deLay Band (1985)

More mid-80's blues out of Portland, and also on Criminal Records. Wanting to learn more about this label. Because it's such an obvious name and has been used so many times, Discogs is a mess when trying to figure it out.

The Paul deLay Band - Burnin' (1988)

Another one on Criminal Records, and it appears to be the follow-up to the S/T LP. Red-hot blues!

Larry Coryell - The Restful Mind (1975)

If you read this blog, you know I've become something of a fledgling Larry Coryell fan in the past year or so. Great music for puttering around my house to. Dude's a wild guitar player. Saw this one for three bucks and I didn't already have it, so yoink.

Thurston Knudson - Primitive Percussion: African Jungle Drums (1961)

My percussion record collection is two crates deep and I'm always trying to add to it. These are going for close to $20 on Discogs but I nabbed this one for less than 5, I think. Should be a banger.

Missy Mist - "Gettin' Bass" 12" (1989)

Didn't find a lot of rap records this time around, but I did grab a few. This one's direct from Miami with the boomin' bass. Contains two tracks and two "dancetramentals." Big plans to bump this thru the 24" kick in my low-rider's trunk.

Wu-Tang Clan - "C.R.E.A.M." 12" (1994)

Original version of this 12". Pairs nicely with the die-cut one I paid too much for a few Record Store Days ago. Still in the shrink with that classic cover.

Ace Weems and the Fat Meat Boys - It's All Gone Now (1981)

Couldn't pass this one up on name alone, but the LP is sealed, too, which is pretty sweet. Private-press old-timey blues/country out of Natural Bridge, VA.

Rouvaun - The World's Greatest Singer Rouvaun Sings Love Songs (1966)

I was shocked to see that this guy actually went on to a somewhat successful recording career with RCA records, because that's a fairly bold claim he's making on the cover there, and the textbook sign of a madman. But the leather suit lets you know who you're dealing with, as does the photo on the back of him riding his Harley down Sunset. World's greatest? You be the judge.

Mark Korven - Passengers (1984)

This one just looked cool as shit, so I picked it up. Private-press LP out of Canada on the new-wave tip. Bummed I can't find any clips online because it's fun, pop-fused Talking Heads-type stuff. Dude has gone on to become a very successful film and TV composer. He's listed on this one as providing "vocals, guitar, guitar & keyboard synthesizers, spray can, alarm clock." Good stuff.

And that was it! I only had two hours to spend at the show, so I do think I scooped some stuff without thinking too much about it, but I feel good about the haul, overall. Sometimes the rap records just aren't there. But man: my NW private-press collection is becoming super legit. Fear me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Picks for the Top Twenty Albums of 2017.

I'm not putting Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. on here because its praises have been sung far and wide, and I honestly didn't listen to it enough in 2017 to add anything interesting to the mix. It's a terrific rap record: There you go. Also: shout out to Royce Da 5'9"'s The Bar Exam 4, which houses some serious lyrical flexing. Not really an "album," though. Shady Records signee Conway's Reject on Steroids and More Steroids were also solid mixtapes. Eminem's cronies are looking good! Can't say the same for him after listening to Revival. The new Vince Staples record was of course also dope, but he didn't put it out on vinyl so I didn't buy it and didn't end up listening to it that much.

Here's what I did listen to this year, ranked.

20. Raekwon - The Wild

I caught up with this album late in the year and was surprised I hadn't heard a little more about it - this is a worthy addition to the Chef's catalog. As usual I could do without things like "(feat. G-Eazy)" and minute-long "skits," but I understand the realities of the music industry in 2017 and Rae is apparently never gonna stop padding out his tracklists with innocuous segues. Regardless, the full-on tracks here hit hard, particularly this one:

"This Is What It Comes Too"

19. Everlast - War Porn

Or maybe it's called The Warporn Industries Mixtape? I dunno. But it's Everlast, Divine Styler, and Sick Jakken, and while it's ostensibly House of Pain for the 2010's, it's much meaner than that. Didn't think Everlast would come back hard? Dude's grey and old and still getting it done. Wild stuff.

"World's End"

18. Kool G Rap - Return of the Don

G Rap is the only dude who could call his album Return of the Don and have it mean something. The fur coat on the cover is perfect, and though there are more features on this album than you might expect, they're aware of who they're repping here and they step it up. Kool G Rap still has it, and though he's not breaking any new ground here, these 11 tracks are gold to an old-guy rap-fan like me.

"Wise Guys (feat. Lil Fame and Freeway)"

17. Prince Paul - The Redux

Leave it to Prince Paul to go back and "fix" one of his records. Personally, I never felt Politics of the Business was an inherently flawed record - maybe not one of Paul's best. but whatever. However, when you hear the new version, you can see what he was talking about. I still don't think this replaces Politics, but it sure is a crazy, standalone supplement to it. You can download this album here for free.

"People and Places"/"No I Didn't (feat. Chubb Rock, Wordsworth, and MF Doom)"

16. Beck - Colors

Straight up: This is Beck's worst record, but of course it's not without its merits. I've never minded Beck going pop, but this one took it too far, burying itself in thick globs of sugar on duds like "Seventh Heaven" and "Up All Night." Meanwhile, "Dear Life" finds him channeling Elliott Smith and coming up with one of his best songs ever. You can see why I had a hard time with this one.


15. The Upper Crust - Delusions of Grandeur

Pinkies up! I had no idea 2017 would bring a new Upper Crust full-length album, but the lords hath not disappointed. They busted out a live split with The Grannies last year and followed it up in 2017 with 12 new songs and a re-do of a previous number ("I Stand Corrected (Corrected Version"). They even came to Portland for the first time in about 20 years. Long live The Crust!

"Little Castrato"

14. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions

The most reliable band in rock does it again, cranking out 11 tracks that all deserve to be here. I got the white vinyl version of this one and spun the shit out of it on the weekends. Adult rock? Sure! But A.C. and Neko and the gang still don't sound soft. Lots of crunch and angles throughout this one.

"High Ticket Attractions"

13. Jason Loewenstein - Spooky Action

Sebadoh's Loewenstein released his solo debut At Sixes and Sevens in 2002. "Casserole" remains a criminally undiscovered song. Anyway, this is the follow-up. Can't wait for 2032's release! Thankfully this batch of self-produced-and-recorded gems will tide me over. Tight indie rock that sounds like the dankest, smoke-stained basement.


12. Dead Cross - Dead Cross

Didn't see this one coming, but when it showed up? Blammo. Mike Patton doing hardcore is something that makes total sense but seemed past its prime time. Challenge accepted! This album is blistering, with double-bass-drum Dave Lombardo just pummeling the shit out of his kit while Patton distends his vocals cords until he's fit to explode. It's great stuff.

"Church of the Motherfuckers"

11. Grandaddy - Last Place

Feels like slipping right back into that ultra-comfortable shirt you used to wear all the time but lost, and that's what I was hoping for with this LP. Just a solid Grandaddy record without any need for new-fangled trickery. Lytle and Co. delivered. This is such a great song:

"Way We Won't"

10. Big Boi - Boomiverse

Daddy Fat Sax is still out here making great music, and this time around he ditched the alt-pop crossover goofiness (ignore that Adam Levine feature) in favor of more straight-up rapping, and I think it worked. Killer Mike showing up and rapping his ass off on three tracks doesn't hurt a bit.

"Kill Jill (feat. Killer Mike and Jeezy)"

09. Royal Trux - Platinum Tips + Ice Cream

A live recording capturing their 2016 mini-reunion, this record is as raw as you'd expect but maybe even a little nicer than you might think, too. Sounding crisper (relatively) and less heroin-y, these songs span their career, giving a little bit of something to the noise and melody-heads alike. Accessible? Of course not. Great recording? Not especially. But man: this one is crazy for existing.


08. Dope KNife - NineteenEightyFour

Don't even remember how I came up on the KNife, but I bought this CD and it stayed in my car stereo for weeks at a time earlier this year. Love this dude's voice and he's got gritty beats and guest spots that don't muddy up his vision. Been trying to see him live for a while and I think he might be coming out here in early 2018. I'm keeping my eyes open. He's ready to go nuts.

"Inner Party"

07. Action Bronson - Blue Chips 7000

I was a little worried when I realized that - besides the fact that Bronson seems to be a part-time rapper at this point - Party Supplies wasn't going to be at the helm of this thing. But my fears were assuaged when I listened to it a few times through. Another great addition to the Blue Chips lineup, with Bronson still brimming over with lyrics about food, boats, and other luxurious shit.


06. Stallion - From the Dead

This is about the only current power metal I listen to, so, you know, I'm not lending my expert opinion here, but I've latched onto this band and have yet to be disappointed. These dudes are straight outta Germany, hate fascism, and they're ready to rock. For a second I thought they were parodying glam-metal, but it's clear the love is real. This will knock your dick in the dirt.

"Hold the Line"

05. Queens of the Stone Age - Villains

The most divisive QOTSA album? I guess, but that ain't saying much. Rock dorks turned their noses up at the first mention of Mark Ronson, and then when the guitar tone on "The Way You Used to Do" didn't sound right to them, they checked out. Fuck 'em: this record is thick as a brick and contains songs as good as any they've put out in the last decade. Let Josh Homme do what he wants. We need him happy. This is the best song on the record and one of their best songs ever:


04. Kurt Vile & Courtney Barnett - Lotta Sea Lice

Sometimes I just wanna have a mad jangly Sunday morning, and this has been my go-to soundtrack for days like that this year. I'd never purchased a Courtney Barnett record before, but I may be picking some up in the future. This one won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for my money there weren't many songs I heard this year better than "Over Everything" and this one:

"Let it Go"

03. Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 3

This thing came out a year ago and its momentum may have slowed, but not by much even 12 months later. At this point it's looking like these dudes are incapable of putting out a shitty record. As someone who's been down since Day One I feel lucky I got to see Mike and El in smaller venues while I had the chance. Now the shit's gone major. But RTJ deserves the shit out of it.

"Call Ticketron"

02. Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

An ode to a housing project long torn down, this record is Mike's most personal, most complex, and most impressive. The guest spots work, the narrative never loses track, and his mini-melodies carry the whole thing throughout. It's a bit difficult to fully explain this album, and I think that's part of its charm. You have to front-to-back it to truly take it all in. You should. Plus, Mike's a wrestling fan. So you know I'm down.

"No Selling (Uncle Butch Pretending It Don't Hurt)"

01. Alex Cameron - Forced Witness

In 2017, no other record spent more time on my turntable or in my car stereo than this one. I was looking forward to this release but had no idea it would take me over. Those are the good ones. From the best lyric of the year ("Our love was like a fire/Yeah I pissed on it so I could sleep") to the best song of the year ("Runnin' Out of Luck"), this one has it all. Jerks won't grasp the irony and sense of humor here, and they can hit the bricks. I'm going to see Alex Cameron in two months and can't wait. If you haven't heard this one, I can't recommend it enough.

"Candy May"