Sunday, September 6, 2020

August Pandemic Record Shopping at Speck's.

I once again forgot to take any photos while I was shopping, so here's a picture of Mark Lanegan's new book, which I just read. He pulls no punches in this thing and it's a well written, extremely wild ride. Never been a huge Screaming Trees guy but this book's got me listening to them, and his solo work, more.

I took a Friday off work and armed with a fat bag of trades I rounded up from thrifting and thinning out my own collection, I hit Speck's and ended up spending a few masked-up hours there flipping through records and shooting the shit. Left with a bunch of great records. Here they are:

Franklyn Ajaye - Comedian (1973) 

I picked up my first Franklyn Ajaye LP in Chicago about four years ago and just happened to come across this one and thought I'd give it a go. He likes to talk smoothly about smoking reefer and being black in America in the early 70's. It's funny and relaxing.
The Howling Hex - Introducing the Howling Hex (2003)

Neil Michael Hagerty from Royal Trux on the solo creep. Limited edition of 500. And hey: if you hate the Trux, I'd be willing to wager you'll hate this, too. Probably more!
Harry Nilsson - Nilson Schmilsson (1971)

Been lazily looking for this LP for a while. Just to listen to. This is not an early copy; just a nice clean one to play while I do the dishes. Never got into this one.
Ween - Live in Toronto Canada (2001)

Original double white vinyl that's in real good shape. This is, believe it or not, the first Ween LP I've ever owned. I have always had their stuff on CD because the LPs are not cheap and I just couldn't even get started. But now I'm eyeing an original copy of White Pepper because I passed one by at Jackpot in 2001 and have never let it go.

David Cross - Shut Up You Fucking Baby! (2002)

Half of this album was recorded at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland at a show I attended and I've owned it on CD forever, but the LP has always been pretty hard to come by, I think. It's on red, white, and blue vinyl because American rules ironically.

Lenny Carr - Lenny Who? (197?)

Private-press LP from a guy who played organ at a popular restaurant in Lincoln City. My Oregon collection keeps getting more legit.

Laurie Brown & Rob McIntosh - A Touch of Sanity (1982)

Folk duo out of Eugene. This looks like it will be very gentle, indeed.

The Elements - Honest Enough (1985)

Rock trio out of Seattle who appear young and ready to get it done. The drummer wrote a good portion of the songs, and that's not something you see a lot. Good for that guy. And good for music. 

Tom Austin - Empty Nights (1977)

Soft rock out of Seattle that feels like it might be alright. Tom's just looking for love. Fill up his nights.

BLT - BLT (1977)

Trio out of Seattle who you would think would each have an initial that spells out BLT but they don't and I'm sure there's a story behind it but it's not clear and really it's a bit of a letdown.

Jerry Goebel - Dreamer (1980)

Recorded in Redmond, WA. That's a very contemplative cover. Very. 

Kidd Afrika - Kidd Afrika (1978)

Blues-funk out of Seattle. Private-press NW, that's how we do it.

Jamie DeFrates - Pegasus Inflight (1976)

Private-press post-hippie folk out of Jacksonville, Florida. Thought I'd give this one a shot.

The Nick Pyzow Band - The Dancers Let Me Down (1987)

What a great album title. Southern California rock. 

Mr Nice Guy - Mr Nice Guy (1983)

Rock out of Portland. This was mostly sealed and I cracked it open so I could get to the gatefold. Felt good. A lot of innuendo in this video.

Ken Roberts - The Start of Something New (196?)

My first song-poem LP. Not planning on going down that hole, but couldn't pass this one up.

On Wings of Song - On Wings of Song (1976)

Vaguely religious, possibly cult-y looking LP. Just sort of grabbed it because the dude on the back had a two-foot beard and was twirling on a mountainside. 

Bob Beland - Bob Beland (1982)

Early-80s rock out of California that I picked up because it looked possibly fun. We'll see.

Dice - On the First Throw (1978)

Country folk with fairly exciting album art for what will, judging by the mellow vibes of the duo on the back, most likely be some laid back music.

Dyslexic Artsehcro - Tomorrow Might Look Better In Someone Else's Eyes (1987)

This is a crazy record. Super dark goth-y, almost industrial noise? One of the more expensive records I picked up. I can see why people want it. It's nuts.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

July Pandemic Record Shopping at Music Millennium, Speck's, and the Trunk of My Friend's Car.

Hadn't been to a record store in months, though I've been buying stuff from Music Millennium through the mail during that time. MM has been reopen for a while now, with strict mask and customer-limit guidelines, so I felt like they were doing it right. They had masks and gloves at the door, and everybody in there was at least wearing a mask. I met a friend there and we hung out for an hour or so, and I ended up grabbing more than I thought I might, as usual.

The picture above is of a jukebox that I saw in an old dude's garage later that same day. Long story. But it's up there because I forgot to take any pictures while I was shopping because I was in pandemic mode. Here's what I got at Music Millennium:

Ghostface Killah - Adrian Younge Presents: Twelve Reasons to Die (2013)

Ghost releases music at such a clip that I miss albums here and there and this was definitely one of them. Standard black vinyl original press that I paid a tiny bit too much for but whatever. I feel like I have so many Ghostface records and there are still a solid handful that I am missing. Like I said, he's prolific. I never copped that Ghostdini or Apollo Kids. Damn.

Crazy 8's - Nervous in Suburbia (1985)

Sophomore album from the early-80s Portland pop-ska legends. I think I've got about half of their full-lengths now. The music is mad dated but always fun and I'm enjoying learning more about this band and their fervent following. Their YouTube video comments sections are just full of 80s Portland stories.

James Gilstrap - Love Talk (1976)

Sultry disco that I picked up for no good reason other than the cover, which encompasses that sultriness.

Heart - "Never"/"These Dreams" 12" (1988)

Etched 12" single that I bought on a whim. It was cheap and an import and I am an unabashed fan of cash-in era Heart, plus I knew I"d never see it again and it's not the kind of record I'd bother buying on the internet. And what a conversation piece! I am, no joke, looking very forward to hearing the extended remixes on this thing. The etching takes up one side and is a band photo. You can see it here.

Quarterflash - Take Another Picture (1983)

Autographed by all five members. Been wanting a copy of this for a while (not hard to find, really) and this one, with signatures all over the front, is indeed a sweet copy to have. This and the Heart record and the next record were all clearly from the same collection.

Rail - Arrival (1980)

Also autographed by all members! I've had this LP for a while - these guys are a hard-rock outfit out of Bellevue, WA - but I think I'll be swapping out my non-autographed copy for this one personalized to a guy named "Brant," with whom they "hope to do it again."

Summit - The Tuna Boat Blues (1981)

Private-press Portland blues (?) that I am not familiar with and haven't listened to yet, but I really love the cover and the price was not high. Collecting local records is just the best. Always more to find. From what I can gather, that car is the "tuna boat" and maybe I don't want to know any more about that.

After that we were going to head to Speck's in our respective vehicles, but first my friend had some stuff to hand off to me that he and another friend were nice enough to secure for me during the recent closing of Salem's Ranch Records, where deals were being made and I was lucky enough to have a couple proxies. This first one is a doozy:

Beauregarde - Beauregarde (1971)

Featuring a pre-Wipers Greg Sage, this LP by Portland wrestler Beauregarde was reissued semi-recently and I've long had my eye on an original. Well, I got one and man: it is a sweet copy. Been putting in some work on my wrestling-record collection lately and this one really shines, sucka.

V/A - Rhino Royale (1978)

Rhino comp with a wrestling theme to the whole thing. Looks like the music is more "wacky" than directly wrestling-related, with the exception of "Classy" Freddie Blassie. Record is clear with blue and red splattered all over it. I enjoy the old Rhino wrestling stuff.

Dwarves - "Lucky Tonight" 7" (1991)

Three quick ones on black vinyl on the Sub Pop label. I think these versions are exclusive to this release. There's actually like five minutes of music on this thing, which is unheard of.

Dwarves - Sex and Violence...Live! 7" (1993)

Bootleg Dwarves on clear yellow vinyl. Exactly the kind of record I'd buy in a close-out, discount sort of situation. Like this.

Next we went to Speck's, put the masks back on, and got to work. I was trading some stuff, which meant I was more willing than usual to pick up whatever, including some mildly high-ticket items. Here's what I left with:

Johnny and the Distractions - "Guys Like Me" 7" (1979)

Portland's Bruce Springsteen. This is an early single, I think from right before the release of their full-length debut. These guys are gritty and they just hammer it out like a seasoned bar band. It's cool.

Uncle Sam - "Welcome to America" 12" (1984)

Private press patriot rock out of Seattle that really leans into the America shit. They had that Los Angeles Summer Games fever.

Madhouse - Madhouse (1985)

Private press hard rock out of Texas that has a great band photo on the back but I could barely find this shitty photo and I'm too lazy to take one of my record. They've got a keyboard player and big aspirations and I'm looking forward to it.

Rist Rocket - Rist Rocket (1978)

Hard rock out of Fresno on the private press tip and I'm not sure I understand the name of this band, but I do love their album cover. My copy is sealed, and I will break the seal when the time is right, and not a moment before.

Gigolo Tony - Ain't It Good To Ya (1989)

1989 rap that is most likely not going to be very good, but I'm a sucker for 1989 hip hop and the price was right on this one. 

As to which of those dudes is Gigolo Tony, it's anybody's guess.

Support your local record stores!

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

My Picks for the Top Fifteen Albums of 2019.

This might be my shortest list yet, and I'd like to blame it on having a two-year-old, but I'm not sure it was entirely that. Am I losing touch? Do rappers release music too fast for anyone to keep up with? Do I clown streaming services yet subscribe to one? Whatever. I still found time for 15 albums this year that I enjoyed to certain and different extents.

15. Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

Took me a while to warm up to this one, and I think I just wasn't in the mood for calculated mellow bullshit this year. I've since grown slightly fonder, but if nothing else, this album was just too long. I always liked that they got in, did their thing, and got out. Still, some solid songs on here.


14. DJ Shadow - Our Pathetic Age

Another one that some might find a little too long, but I actually dig the instrumental first half of this record. Probably gets a little more exciting once the sweet slew of guest rappers show up for part 2, but it ain't like Shadow isn't great at just making beats you can listen to all by their lonesome. Lots of shitting on current society, too, which I endorse.

"Rocket Fuel (feat. De La Soul)"

13. Ghostface Killah - Ghostface Killahs

Not Ghost's strongest effort - and definitely not his strongest album title - but there are still some hard-hitting songs on here. Nice amount of Cappadonna but I could always use a little more. Raekwon nowhere to be seen? Shawn Wigs still hanging around? I do love the cover art.

"Me Denny & Darryl"

12. Beck - Hyperspace

Beck's last album, Colors, was some disappointing pop nonsense to me, so I didn't hold hope too high when I saw this one coming down the future-road in that cherry Supra. It ended up being better than his previous record but still not something I became overly invested in. He dropped the best songs pre-release, and some of the other shit just fizzles. Him clearly trying for radio play makes it not work.

"Uneventful Days"

11. Conway the Machine - Look What I Became

Conway also put out Everybody is F.O.O.D. 3, which should probably get equal weight here, but I can barely keep up with the amount of music these Griselda dudes release. Each release feels like the next chapter of the bigger thing, and this is no exception. Hard ass raps and wrestling references. My shit.

"Tito's Back (feat. Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn)"

10. Cross Control - Outrage Culture 7"

6 songs in 13 minutes, hardcore 7" style. Not my typical fare, but I really like these songs and the fact that these dudes are all around my age and still making music that is aggressive and calling out shitheads. We need that.

"Imaginary Conflict"

09. Mudhoney - Morning in America

7-song EP that gathers up some b-sides and other songs that didn't end up on Digital Garbage, their very good LP from 2018. I really like Mudhoney's recent output. They're pissed, the songs are straight to the point - it's what I'm looking for from this band. It's what we're all looking for from this band.

"One Bad Actor"

08. Griselda - WWCD

Conway the Machine and the whole crew: Westside Gunn, Benny the Butcher, and Daringer, the dude who makes all their sample-free beats from scratch. No hooks. Just guys rapping about cracking your skull open amidst wrestling samples and beats that are simple, dense, and thanks to the use of just one producer, consistent. These guys put out so much music. Benny the Butcher is an insane rapper.

"Cruiser Weight Coke"

07. Pixies - Beneath the Eyrie

Most of the previous post-reunion Pixies music made me uncomfortable and often sad, and it was such a relief to be able to say I'd give this one a solid 7/10. The lyrics are ambitious again, everything about the songs sounds more Pixie-ish without full-on copycatting themselves, and the overall vibe is just much more fluid and competent. A real pleasant surprise.

"On Graveyard Hill"

06. Czarface & Ghostface Killah - Czarface Meets Ghostface

Czarface makes some really great rap music. Esoteric and Inspectah Deck sound strangely similar and they're usually working with upbeat songs, moving quick. Ghostface knows exactly how to get down on tracks like that, and there end up being some really great songs on this thing. And come on: they've got one called "Czarrcade '87." I can't front on that.

"Powers and Stuff"

05. Stephen Malkmus - Groove Denied

Definitely one of Steve's more masturbatory projects, but that's what solo home-recorded projects are by definition, aren't they? Saw somebody compare this to McCartney II, and that makes a lot of sense to me. It's got the same feel: experimental, unpolished, and often doesn't work quite right. That's OK.

04. Dope KNife - Things Got Worse

Been really into this guy's music for the past few years and this one picks up where his last one left off but it's a little more antisocial, a little more paranoid, and just as stoned. Love the beats here and KNife's gravelly voice is pitch perfect for the dark feel of it all.

"So Upset"

03. Royal Trux - White Stuff

Of course the whole release was a mess, with the band breaking up again before this came out and fighting on the internet, and of course the tour got canceled. But man: this is still a really great record, no matter how it came to be. You can definitely feel the Black Bananas influence on the production, but I'd argue that just makes it sound more modern. Still sounds like Trux. Still sounds sleazy and satisfying.

"White Stuff"

02. Alex Cameron - Miami Memory

This one didn't quite take complete control of my life like Forced Witness did, but I still listened to this record a lot over the past year. Alex is in love, and it informed the trajectory of this batch o' songs, sometimes I think to its slight detriment. But overall this is a great album from an increasingly singular performer. Seen him live three times now and he's never disappointed.


01. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana

Gat damn. Album of the year for me for sure. The beats on this thing are just nuts and Freddie Gibbs doesn't waste a word, delivering some of the most on-the-ball lyricism I've heard in a while. The music videos that have accompanied the whole release have been especially dope, and this thing is just a front-to-backer. Can't wait for their next one. Though I'm not sick of this one yet.

"Half Manne Half Cocaine"