Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What I Got Out of Record Store Day 2010

Record Store Day, conceived in 2007 by a Bull Moose music employee in Maine, started as a full-fledged idea in 2008.  What started as an attempt to throw a life preserver to independent record stores has become an international event the third Saturday of every April.  Bands create releases exclusively for Record Store Day, primarily vinyl, both as giveaways and for sale.

I've been to the last two; after going in 2009 and getting shut out on some things, in 2010 I decided to get to the Newbury Comics in Norwood about a half an hour before the store opened.

I figured I'd be plenty early -- and I was wrong.  I was about 30th in line.  Yup, 28 guys and one woman ahead of me.  And by the time the doors opened, the line had doubled.

It got ugly quickly.  I grabbed the last Weezer freebie 7" just as an alpha nerd reached for it as well.  Said alpha nerd already had one in hand, but he STILL gave me the "Fireball +20 damage" look.  The geek tension was palpable.

Fortunately, no more shows of dorky one-upmanship occurred.  In the end, I got a lot of music between the freebies, samplers, and limited edition items.  (Confession:  I did have to hit the Needham store on the way home to pick up some items that were already gone in Norwood.  I have a problem.)

So how did it work out in the end?  Pretty well.  I've boiled down just the free compilation/sampler discs to 3 1/2 hours; I used two 7 hour flights to pare down the list to that point.  Not bad for zero dollars.

As for the rest, all are singles on vinyl from 2010 unless otherwise noted:
  • Against Me! - "I Was a Teenage Anarchist."  I've waxed eloquently (and at some length) about Against Me!, and I'd quote myself and link to said reviews if I weren't feeling quite so lazy at the moment.  This is a great pop punk single.  It's not like I wouldn't have bought the album without hearing the single, but it's great to hear on vinyl.  And the "acoustic version" b-side is actually a re-recording, not just stripping out the bass, drums, and electric guitars.  Good stuff.

  • Built to Spill  - "Water Sleepers."  This is actually worth the price of admission for the b-side, "Linus and Lucy (Live)," which is a cover of the "Peanuts" Schroeder song.  But the a-side is no slouch either -- sounds like it's a throwback to the Keep It Like a Secret or Perfect from Now On era.  Very spacey and slow, but in the classic BTS way.  A really cool little single.

  • The Clash - At Shea StadiumI am about to commit many acts of heresy, so please prepare yourself accordingly.  1) I don't like The Clash.  2) I don't like the legendary album London Calling.  So why on earth would I pick up a vinyl single promoting a live album?  Simply, because it was the most visually arresting item there.  It's a picture disc and just looks damn cool.  Now some more heresy.  3) I think this version of "London Calling" is better than the one on London Calling.  And thus 4) At Shea Stadium is going to be a better album than London Calling.  I thank you in advance for your hate mail and comments.

  • The Constellations - "Setback."  Scott and I listened to this at 45 rpm (it is a single, after all), and found it to be quite interesting, although the woman's voice was way out there.  At 33 rpm (correct speed), that dude and his lame sound really did nothing for me.  Adding Cee-Lo to side 2 wasn't enough of a life-saver. Speed it up, kids.

  • Roky Erickson with Okkervil River - True Love Cast Out All Evil.  I was truly shocked to see this in the store.  Since seeing Roky Erickson's comeback in 2005 at Austin City Limits, I've picked up his compilation, but I did not know he was making new music.  This is a combination of home recordings from over the years and new Roky performances, is all over the place and wacky, and is absolutely terrific.  Car CD Changer material.
  • Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move or I'm Gone (Music from Kerouac's Big Sur) (single).  Jay Farrar (Wilco, Son Volt, Gob Iron) writes the music with Jack Kerouac's words, and trades vocals with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, Postal Service).  It's really great sounding:  not surprising, it's alt country.  The two songs here definitely make me want to hear the whole album -- it's an ambitious project for sure, but they do a nice job paying it off.

  • Fly Leaf - "Chasm"/Paper Tongues - "Trinity."  Fly Leaf's lead singer is a powerhouse.  This song is right in the way that most of today's music is wrong:  the vocal presentation is forceful, the lyrics are interesting, and the music has both power and tension.  Paper Tongues, on the other half of the split single, show what's wrong with most of today's new music:  the vocal presentation is soft, the lyrics are cliché, and the music is formulaic and generic; not bad, but not good either.

  • Gogol Bordello - "We Comin' Rougher (Immigranada)."  A bit smoother than what I've previously heard from these guys (probably because it was produced by Rick Rubin), but with the same raw energy and wackiness you'd expect from gypsy punks.  Very impressive.  I will be checking out the full album (Trans-Continental Hustle) for sure.

  • Kasabian - "Fire."  I was on the fence on this one (a bit dance-y for me), but it has a great riff and they really have something nice going on here.

  • John Lennon - Singles Bag.  I picked this up as an afterthought, but the recaps of the event say this was the rarest piece out there.  The three A-sides (despite what Ken might tell you) are classic:  "Mother," "Imagine," and "Watching the Wheels."  The three B-sides are terrible.  I'm not that interested in the poster, the postcards, and custom adaptor hub, but collectors probably are.

  • Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica (2000, re-released in 2010).  One of my favorite albums, finally available on vinyl.  And it sounds great.  One of the best takeaways of the day.

  • Nada Surf - If I Had a Hi-Fi (CD).  The primary reasons I made the second stop in Needham was for the Modest Mouse vinyl and for this CD.  It's a covers album (and I love covers) by Nada Surf (and I love Nada Surf).  Unfortunately, the covers are mostly of songs I'm not familiar with; the best covers are Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" (which was one of the ones I did know), Arthur Russell's "Janine," and Kate Bush's "Love and Anger."  I guess I don't like the same groups these guys do; if I did I might like the album.  But it's all about me, and thus became Sell-back Pile 1 material. The packaging is very nice, though.   

  • Rogue Wave - "Lake Michigan."    Of everything I got on Record Store Day, this was the best surprise.  Think of Sunny Day Real Estate crossed with Glen Echo.  Really excellent stuff.  Not the most revolutionary, but there is something really nice about the sound of these guys.  A check of this album is in order. 

  • Weezer - "(If You're Wondering if I Want You to) I Want You to."  After wrestling Golem for this puppy (see above), I felt like my expectations were not met with this one right off the bat.  Besides an annoyingly long title for the A-side, I really did not like the song, which tends to be an issue.  However, it has grown on me, and thus the yellow vinyl stays. 
- Snilch

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Putting The Whiskey Dregs Reviews into Perspective

    I've been doing some reviews for The Whiskey Dregs... however, they don't use my super-special ratings systems that have become the industry standard.  Well, my standard, at least.

    Here are links to my reviews and their corresponding CD Placement scores:

    The Vaselines - Sex with an X:  Portable CD Case.
    The Thermals - Personal LifeCar CD Changer.
    Superchunk - Majesty Shredding:  Portable CD Case.

    - Snilch

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    I Am a Sucker for Re-Issues

    The headline really needs no explaining.
    • The Beatles - Rubber Soul (1965), The Beatles (a.k.a., "The White Album") (1968; both re-issued 2009).  Rubber Soul takes me back to grade school, playing Dungeons and Dragons and board games at Tom McBride's house.  It's a great album, even after all these years:  besides the classics "Nowhere Man," "Drive My Car, "Norwegian Wood," and "In My Life," there's the keyboard sound on "Think for Yourself," which is epic in itself.  I used to spin sister Carrie around to "Run for Your Life" when she was four... which in retrospect is pretty disturbing.  And as much as Sgt. Pepper's is credited as being a seminal album, Rubber Soul was truly The Beatles' transition album from complete pop to the deeper, more musically interesting experiments of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's The White Album takes me back to childhood as well (we played a lot of Beatles, Blondie, and Abba at the McBride's); this double album follow-up to Sgt. Pepper's still feels like a lot of odds and ends all jumbled together, but it's epic.  As for the re-mastering itself:  it sounds like you're listening to the original vinyl.  And that's as high a compliment as I can give.
      Verdict:  Recommended if you don't have any/some Beatles albums on CD.  They are still the best.

    • INXS - Kick (1987, re-issued 2002).  One of the soundtracks to Smith Middle 2nd floor my freshman year in college.  This re-issue sounds fine, although I really don't hear anything remarkable in the re-mastering.   The four songs they added are really not necessary.
      Verdict:  No need unless you don't own the album, or you are an INXS completist.

    • Jawbox - For Your Own Special Sweetheart (1993, re-issued 2009).  This is the original recording of the album, re-mastered, and was new material for me coming in.  However, it turns out that at least "Savory" is a song I heard on the radio back in the day.  It's very solid, with a couple of above average tracks (like "Reel"); the songs are a bit "same-y" sounding after awhile.  But it's still quality stuff; think Sheila Divine (although not quite as good as them).
      Verdict:  On the border of the CD Rack/Portable CD Case territory.  The extra songs probably aren't worth buying the album again if you already have it.

    • Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979, re-issued 2007).  This is part of the series of re-issues of Joy Division material, featuring deluxe packaging and a live CD in addition to the original album.  From the opening of "Disorder," it's clear why Joy Division spawned so many copycats from the moment of their inception.  The re-mastering really cleans up the recording as well.  It's a great album, although I think I don't appreciate as much now as I probably will with more listens.
      Verdict:  Portable CD Case.  Worth it for the re-mastering, I'd guess.  The live bonus album is nice but not spectacular, and thus is really only for completists.

    • Pylon - Chomp More (1983, re-issued 2009).  After Gyrate's re-issue, Chomp's re-issue was only a matter of time; I really hope they re-release their 1990 finale Chain as well, but I think the band has turned their back on that album.  Summary:  there's no R.E.M., or an Athens scene (with the notable exception of the B-52's) without Pylon; they're not famous because they were constantly at the wrong place at the wrong time in their career.  This re-issue is spectacular and you should own it.  Absolutely worth it for anyone; how did they leave some of these songs (like "Spider," "Gyrate," or the Pylon Mix of "Yo-Yo") off the compilation Hits?  GO OUT AND GET THIS NOW.
      Verdict:  It's okay.

    • Sun Dial - Other Way Out (1990, re-issued 2006).  (PV) at the once-defunct- but-recently-revived [uzine] online zine turned me on to these guys; they're the best psychedelic rock group you've never heard of.  Mojo went as far to call this album "The greatest unheard psychedelic album ever."  And if Mojo and I are on the same page... well, that actually means little to nothing.  This re-issue (which expands the 2003 re-issue with eight additional tracks) is excellent as it's really an album you never want to see end.  So this one works well.
      Verdict:  I'm throwing it (and Pylon) back into the car.  They're both great.

    • U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (1984, re-issued 2009).  Others can wax poetic about The Unforgettable Fire; I will not.  In my opinion, it's the worst pre-Rattle and Hum album (i.e., 1988) they released: I doubt many will argue it was outshone by both its predecessor (War) and successor (The Joshua Tree).  What it does have is the best song U2 ever recorded:  "Pride (In the Name of Love)."  The re-mastering definitely helps put the shine back on this album and reveal the quality that is there.  The bonus disc contains the entire excellent Wide Awake in America EP (including the classic live version of "Bad"), as well the single version of "Pride" and its three b-sides ("Boomerang I," "Boomerang II," and a longer version of "4th of July.")  This may be a case where the bonus disc is better than the actual album. 
      Verdict:  Despite all I've said above, U2 from 1980-1992 were one of my favorite bands, and thus this album (while flawed) is still excellent and a cut above the rest.  A must if you are a U2 diehard, and even if you're not, the bonus disc makes the whole album worth it. 
      An American-obsessed album by an American-obsessed band on the verge of becoming global superstars.

    • Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne (1993, re-issued 2003).  My kind of alt-country.  This is a great re-mastering of a tremendous album -- Uncle Tupelo's last before Jay Farrar founded Son Volt and Jeff Tweedy countered with Wilco.  If there was acrimony between the two (and I've read that there was), it doesn't come through on the album.  I hate country as a rule, but you can't argue with this album.  It's great.
      Verdict:  Probably worth picking up for the five bonus tracks for the diehards.  If you don't own it, you really should.

    • Yes - Close to the Edge (1972, re-issued 2003).  One of my all-time favoritesI still remember playing this on vinyl:  one song on Side 1, two on Side 2.  It works because "Close to the Edge" is the best 20-minute song I've ever heard; "And You and I" is in the top five for 10-minute songs; and "Siberian Khatru" is no slouch either.  All in all a great album.  When you consider that in 1972 Yes released this album and the album Fragile, which many critics see as the two best albums of their career... well, that's a good year.  It's actually shocking that Close to the Edge charted at #3 on the Billboard chart, while the much more poppy and easily consumable Fragile (with the single "Roundabout," no less) only made it to #4.  I love their cover of "America" (one of the bonus tracks), although the other bonus tracks are nothing to write home about.
      Verdict:  I love Yes.  There, I said it.  You happy now?
     - Snilch   

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    New Music Roundup, Part 2

    "This first line is either going to say 'I hate LeBron' or 'I love LeBron'" is what I put in as a placeholder before last Thursday.  (Context:  I am a Cleveland native and lifelong Cavs fan.)

    Then the one-hour special was announced, and I changed it to:  "This first line is either going to say 'I hate LeBron' or 'What an ass.  But at least LeBron made the right move.'"

    As the reality of the farce approaches (I am writing this at 3PM on Thursday; I will not change it regardless of his decision tonight), I am struck by one thought:  I really don't care anymore.  This whole thing is an ego-massaging exercise by someone who has been coddled all his life.  If he signs with the Cavs, he saves some face, but he has irrevocably changed the perception of him as a human being and an athlete.  Does he not understand what a "team" is?  This is as self-centered and vacuous as it gets.

    It's 3:20 and I have music to listen to.  As you read this, the moment has undoubtedly passed.  I hope I had the intestinal fortitude to not watch it play out.  But I will not re-write this either way.

    On to the music:
    • American Music Club - The Golden Age (2008).  I've heard only great things about Mark Eitzel and American Music Club; 1991's Everclear (featuring the epic "Rise") did nothing to dispel this notion.  Their ninth full-length album (and second since reuniting in 2004) features original members Eitzel and guitarist Vudi plus a brand new rhythm section.  The music is sparse; think a stripped-down Hybrasil.  But it's really good low- to mid-tempo pop, well executed, intelligent, and earnest.
      CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case.

    • Built to Spill - There is No Enemy (2009).  Based on this and 2006's You in Reverse, BTS has settled into a comfortable groove of sonically heavier, solidly built albums.  They're sludgy and dirgey, but worth wading through.  However, would I go back to these two albums or something like Ancient Melodies of the Future, which had three great songs and seven fair to good ones?  I'm really not sure.  The fact that I can't recall the last two albums until I play them is probably not good either.  My guess is the next album will be bought based on a good review.
      CD Placement rating: 
      This is a tough one.  CD Rack album gets into the Portable CD Case so I can make a better determination of where it fits into the cosmos.

    • Doves - Kingdom of Rust (2009).  This sounds a lot like 2002's The Last Broadcast.  Don't get me wrong; I like that album.  I don't need two of the same, however.
      CD Placement rating: 
      Sell-back Pile 1.  Hopefully Andrew and Eric Lax will speak to me after this.

    • King's X - XV (2008).  As the title suggests, this is their 15th album, which seems insane; I don't own anything past 1991 from them.  Having seen them live with Scott and Dale, I was open to giving these guys a shot; reviews were good, so I did.  XV:  it's heavy, it's consistent, and it's good.  No real surprises here, but no duds either.  Great album by a very underrated band.
      CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case.

    • Scanners - Submarine (2010).  It's taken this band four years, but they've finally come up with a follow-up to 2006's promising debut Violence is Golden.  This is surprisingly much more restrained than their debut, sounding much more like a mix of Silversun Pickups, Love of Diagrams, and Architecture in Helsinki.  And at times, even a little ABBA.  Don't get excited, as this album does not quite measure up to any of those references.  I'd like to see them go for it a bit more; honestly, it's a bit more boring than I had expected.  It's still very decent alternative pop and very listenable. 
      CD Placement rating: 
      CD Rack. 
     - Snilch

    Thursday, July 08, 2010

    New Music Roundup, Part 1

    We're skipping the preamble today.
    • Against Me! - White Crosses (2010)  The promise of 2007's New Wave is fulfilled in this album.  The "new punks" have slightly refined and smoother the rougher edges of their abrasive sound, but not at the expense of their energy or lyrical vitrol.  "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" is a great single, and the rest of the album is solid to great.  This is a band in their prime, making great music; that's tough to find those these days.  Check them out if you haven't gotten too old to deal with pop punk. 
      CD Placement rating: 
      Car CD Changer.

    • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat the Devil's Tattoo (2010).  BRMC had a brilliant first two albums; their 5th album (a lot like their fourth, Baby 81) has moments of brilliance (like "Conscience Killer," "Shadow's Keeper") which break the mold, but mostly sounds exactly like the first two albums.  (My guess is uber-fans Moira and Kevin will disagree with me here.)  I'm more likely to return to the highlights as opposed to the album.  But it stays in my collection for the time being (i.e., prior to the next culling).
      CD Placement rating: 
      CD Rack.

    • The Cribs - Ignore the Ignorant (2009).  I declared these brothers "to be approaching alternative rock at its logical extension" after 2007's brilliant Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever.  And that was before they added Johnny Marr of The Smiths!  On paper:  a recipe for something sublime, perhaps even transcendent.  In reality:  a step back.  It's a more pop-friendly approach, but lacks the bite and edge of their previous recordings.  It's really pretty bland overall, actually.  Maybe going back to a simpler approach might help.  Hopefully they realize Maar is Dave Navarro to their Red Hot Chili Peppers:  an excellent guitarist, but adding him to the mix does not make the band better.
      CD Placement rating: 
      CD Rack.  Sad, really.

    • Charlotte Gainsbourg -- IRM (2009).  After 2006's startling 5:55, Gainsbourg returns with help from Beck for her follow-up.  I'm not a Beck fan, but his collaboration with Gainsbourg is solid and the production is excellent.  This is a great album, as striking as 5:55 in many ways, although it lacks a true single.  Let's compare her to Cat PowerYou Are Free was a classic, but her follow-up (or follow-ups, for that matter) don't hold a candle to the original.  Gainsbourg has followed one great album with another.  Very impressive quiet, whispered pop.
      CD Placement rating: 
      Car CD Changer.

    • Jesu - Opiate Sun (2009).  Paul H. convinced me to pick up 2006's Conqueror, and I'm pretty sure he recommended this as well.  This picks up where Conqueror left off.  Just great stuff, especially considering it's a genre ("heavy dirge") I'm really not into.  For fun, here are words allmusic uses to describe Jesu:  "Bleak," "Angst-Ridden," "Sad," "Suffocating," "Volatile," "Brooding," "Cerebral," "Visceral," "Wintry," "Gloomy," "Intense," "Somber," "Fierce," "Reflective," and "Unsettling."  How awesome is that!  (Is it bad that this music makes me smile?  What happened to all the small animals that used to live around here?)
      CD Placement rating: 
      Car CD Changer.
    • Kill Hannah - Wake Up the Sleepers (2009).  One of my ongoing guilty pleasures, these guys are a cross between New Order and VHS or Beta; I'd describe them as "glam pop with splashes of dance and goth."  I wouldn't describe this album as brilliant, but it's musically solid, with some albeit lyrically cliche moments.  (Aside:  I still can't believe that's a guy singing.)  However, as with all Kill Hannah, I keep coming back for the brilliant moments they always tease me with.  Oddly, it's their "ballad" on this album ("Why I Have My Grandma's Sad Eyes") that's my favorite -- and this is stylistically, lyrically, and musically off target with everything else they've done.  Speaking as someone who is extremely suspicious of the whole "ballad" phenomenon that appeared in the mid- to late-80's, this is a first.  Not only that, but it's a synth ballad, which is like finding out your scurvy has a case of polio.  But I cannot deny it.  "New York City Speed"  and "Tokyo (Dance in the Dust)" (more typically my speed) would be hits in some other era.
      CD Placement rating: 
      Portable CD Case.
    - Snilch

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Downloads Review (a.k.a. "My Bewildering Love of Golden Earring")

    I don't want to brag, but I get lots of downloads here.  And some are even free!  Here's a rundown of some of the digital-only items I've recently had the pleasure of listening to:  

    No, wait, looks like it will be preceded by a rant. (Yes, I've already ranted about this twice; think of this as the "trilogy that would not finish" ending from Lord of the Rings.)

    I've recently been dragged kicking and screaming into the mp3 world.  To my vocabulary this equates to "settling for crappy music that sounds about the same as AM radio."  I will not settle for this -- but I need to recognize that convenience can be a good thing too.

    My philosophy is quality over quantity; I'd rather have one great sounding track as opposed to ten that sound like they're coming from the inside of a closet.  When you make a sound file so tiny in order to fit 10,000 of them on your 8GB iPod, you have to keep in mind that you are taking information out of the sound file to make the convenience factor work.  In other words, it's smaller because it's compressed.  Smaller size = greater convenience but (generally) significantly impaired quality.

    With that, I've taken the following steps in preparing my digital library for iPod use:
    1. Everything on CD is imported via the Apple Lossless codec.  This is a setting on iTunes (Edit > Preferences > General (Tab) > Import Settings (button halfway down the page) > Import Using: [Select Apple Lossless Encoder]) for  importing CD's.  There are consequences to this you should be aware of:
      Pros:  This gives you near CD quality sound (I can't hear the difference) at half the size of .wav files.
      Cons:  Even at half the size, my music collection is almost 300GB.  So it ain't all going on one iPod.  Also, the .mp4a files that your tracks are compressed to are proprietary to Apple, and thus not editable by programs like Soundforge or Easy CD Creator. 
    2. I download everything at the highest possible quality.  This is a no-brainer, but you can improve quality significantly at 256 kbps as opposed to the two previous download standards (64 and 128 kbps).  Keep in mind that taking a track from CD and encoding it via Apple Lossless is five times higher quality than if you paid to download the same track at 256 kbps.  That being said, you do the best you can with what you can.  When you can.  Sam I am.  I will not eat green eggs and ham.
    Thus endeth the rant.  In alphabetical order:
    • Able and Baker - Forever is Fleeting (2008).  I cannot remember where I saw this or who told me to pick this up, but they deserve a thank you.  It's indie rock crossed with either My Bloody Valentine or Longwave.  (Always dangerous to throw out MBV as a reference; those who might still be looking to avoid the genre of "college radio rock" might mistakenly give this a try.  Even though that genre no longer really exists.  But those people should avoid this.  That's quite a long aside, which does not bode well, gentle reader.)  This is excellent stuff from a band that does not appear to exist outside of this great EP; I hope they make more music.  Very smart spacey guitar rock.
      CD Placement rating: 
      I'm not feeling particularly creative at the moment, so I'm not going to add yet another ratings system to this blog.  So -- Virtual Portable CD Case.  See, I added "Virtual"!  HA HA HA!  Sigh.  Yes, I know that's lame.

    • Devo - Oh No!  It's Devo (1982).  After losing "King Nerd" status by admitting I just picked up my first Devo album last year, Ben suggested I pick this one up, as it's his favorite Devo album.  (I look forward to the endless Devo suggestions that this is bound to produce.)  I can't say that I like this more than Freedom of Choice, but I recognize that I really need to spend some quality time with this band.  The more I listen to them, the more I recognize their wacky genius.  Excelsior!
      CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case. 

    • Golden Earring - N.E.W.S. (1984).  Sandwiched in the Golden Earring catalog between 1982's Cut (which features "Twilight Zone" but little else) and 1986's The Hole (which I bought for $1.99 on cassette in 1988, thinking it was Cut, and found it to be one of my all-time favorites), it's clear I have a softer spot for this band's 80's output than most Americans.  "Clear Night Moonlight" is a great opening track, and I love the rest of the album.  Should you buy it?  Absolutely not.  It's really not going to do anything for you except lower your opinion of me.  Even I can't defend the the album's title track.  But it doesn't matter.  I  c a n ' t  h e l p  i t.  I have a problem.
      CD Placement rating: 
      For me, CD Rack (or its equivalent).  For you, buying this would officially ruin any indie cred you ever gave me.  If you did in the first place.

    • The Information - Natural Language EP (2007).  One of my favorite local Boston bands (who I think have broken up).  I own their first EP and album (each of which are great), but I never picked up their last release as it was available in three formats:  flash drive, 8-track (seriously!), and digital download.  This release has a different approach in stretching more towards the synth side of the band, but lead singer and primary songwriter Max Fresen's mix of pathos and vitrol is still there in spades.  I'd call this less poppy than their previous two offerings, but it doesn't matter.  It's great stuff.
      CD Placement rating:  Portable CD Case.  Lame.

    • Golden Earring - Keeper of the Flame (1989).  Following 1986's The Hole (which I bought for $1.99 on cassette in 1988, thinking it was Cut, and found it to be one of my all-time favorites)... wait, have I written this already?  Wow, this is embarrassing.  I actually got more than one Golden Earring album?  (In my defense:  they are out of print, you know.)
      CD Placement rating: 
      For me, CD Rack (or its equivalent).  Once again, not for you.

    • Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke Special Edition (2009).  This I got for free by following Amazon's Twitter postings.  At some point I threw all the albums in this post onto my 8GB iPod and threw it on shuffle.  After a few hours of listening, four songs made me stop what I was doing and take notice -- one by Able and Baker, and three by Ladyhawke.  That's a good sign.  They sound like a mashup of New Young Pony Club, VHS or Beta, Berlin, and Suzanne VegaSongs like "My Delirium" are mid-to-up tempo guitar and synth dance perfection; others like "Love Don't Live Here" are smoother and poppier.  There are seriously another 7 tunes which are excellent from this album.  This album has an 80's feel to it, for sure, but doesn't drown itself in it.
      CD Placement rating: 
      Car CD Changer.
      Guess I'd better burn it to CD.  
    • Golden Earring - Prisoner of the Night (1980).  Wait, I actually downloaded THREE Golden Earring albums?  And no "Twilight Zone" or "Radar Love" amongst the lot?  I believe that Mrs. Snilch Report now has irrefutable grounds to become ex-Mrs. Snilch Report.  If that were a legal name, of course.
      CD Placement rating: 

    • Mojo Nixon - Bo-Day-Shus!!! (1987).  "If you don't know Mojo Nixon/Your store could use some fixin'."  That lyric by The Dead Milkmen was my only exposure to Mr. Nixon prior to Amazon (once again) supplying this album for free.  Here's what I've learned:  1) he's a novelty act; 2) he's definitely an acquired taste; and 3) it's not one I'll be acquiring anytime soon.  I'll take "Elvis is Everywhere" and dump the rest.
      CD Placement rating: 
      Sell-back Pile 1.  Although I didn't pay for it, so technically I couldn't sell it back, and I'm just deleting the files, so I couldn't even sell it.  This ratings system is so 2002.

    • Revere - The Great City (2010).  This is another free Amazon download (in fact, an "Amzon mp3 Exclusive"), and is full of toothless venom.  They have effort, but it has no edge to it.  Think a poppier, more sugary John Faye Power Trip.  (I'm guessing only Denis will fully understand that reference.)
      CD Placement rating: 
      Pile of Digital Death.

    • The Upper Crust - Let Them Eat Rock (1995).  Thanks to Sean for introducing me to this one.  Where Mojo Nixon fails for me, Upper Crust does quite nicely.  Sure, it seems silly that four guys should dress up as 17th (or 18th?) Century nobles, singing songs like "Let Them Eat Rock," which (as it suggests) is a play on "Let Them Eat Cake," but that's my kind of humor.  They cross the lines in just great ways, but their music is actually great as well.  I'd love to know if anyone else has picked up any of their other four (!) albums.  These guys rule.
      CD Placement rating: 
      Portable CD Case.  I am so inadequate.
    - Snilch

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers (2009)

    I normally like to hold my cards close to the vest when starting a review, but this album has defied my attempts to control it and has a will of its own.  To be brief: this album sums 14 years of one band's journey that has included drama, mystery, and tragedy, into a concise musical statement that exceeds any expectations I had for it.

    Now, the story: and what a crazy story it is.  To sum up the Manics (I highly suggest reading the more detailed version here, if you are interested or want a refresher), you need to look at only two albums:  The Holy Bible (1994), their third (and best) album as quartet, and its follow-up, Everything Must Go (1995), their best album as a trio.  The transition element here was rhythm guitarist and principal lyricist Richey Edwards, who disappeared, never to be seen again, between albums.  His vitrol fueled Holy Bible; what he left behind (including all the lyrics) inspired the other three to follow with EMG.  

    Since 1995, it's been an odyssey for the Manics; they've never recaptured the form of these two albums in their next four.  They still have moments that remind you of their previous high water mark, but both the rate of their output and the overall consistency of their albums have suffered over time.

    Fast forward to 2008.  Edwards' family declared him legally dead; with the family's permission, the Manics went back to Edwards' remaining journals, which included lyrics for the album after EMG.  I can't think of an equivalent scenario; it's equally sentimental, intriguing, and (on some level) macabre.  Scott and I heard a few of the songs when we saw them live; they were clearly of quality, so I went out and picked up the album. 

    The result?  Absolutely inspired.  Not only is it consistently good from front to back, but "Peeled Apples," "Journal for Plague Lovers," "She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach," and the standout "Marlon J.D." can stand on their own with any song in their catalog.  Add in bassist and Edwards' lyric co-writer Nicky Wire's first ever Manic lead vocals on the song "William's Last Words" (which seem a little simple and unprofessional at first, but as the song goes on feel more and more haunting and sentimental)... it's the kitchen sink here.  

    When the Manics are at their best, they feature James Dean Bradfield screaming over a sensible but inspired Brit rock sound:  it comes off as a beautiful cacophonous rage.  It's insistent and inspiring.  The hidden track (and why, for the love of God, do these things still exist on CD's?  WHY?) is even great. 

    My conclusion, rightly or wrongly, is that The Manics were always best when Edwards lyrics fueled a cathartic musical reaction from his bandmates, and it's clear that remains true even today.  They are a good band without him; they make a difference with him.  Why?  I have no idea.  That's just the way it works with these guys.

    Richey Edwards final gift to the The Manics was not wasted, and completes the trilogy of his (and their) best work.  R.I.P. Richey.  (Or, if you've somehow actually successfully hidden yourself for 15 years on some deserted island, enjoy a mojito on me.)

    Merch rating:

    CD Placement rating: Car CD Changer.

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    It's Been a Long Time...

    There are a lot of bands that get lost along the way:  they break up, go on hiatus, stop being relevant, change their sound... and there's too much good music out there to bother to reconnect.

    All the bands in this post fit that bill -- some objectively, and others because I stopped caring long ago.  We'll see what going back to the well one more time turns up.  In alphabetical order:

    • Alice in Chains:  Black Gives Way to Blue (2009).  Hard to believe:  Alice in Chains' fourth (yes, only fourth!) full-length album is their first since 1995.  The two primary songwriters were not exactly prolific in the interim:  Jerry Cantrell recorded two solo albums (the last released in 2002), and Layne Staley recorded one album as part of Mad Season in 1995 before dying as a result of a drug overdose in 2002. So this album is Alice in Chains Dirt lineup, with Staley-soundalike William Duvall in Staley's place.  Not only does Duvall sound exactly like Staley (I literally had to check the liner notes to make sure it was not him), but this is a time machine back to 1994 for the band:  it's classic AIC without being redundant.  It definitely plays to Cantrell's more poppy sensibilities, but he's channeled some of Staley's angst as well; the autobiographical aspects of this album are impossible to miss.  A definite if you loved grunge, or if you want to point out to that idiot who likes Puddle of Mudd that this is how it's really done. One other note:  Elton John (!) makes a guest piano appearance on the title track (which is barely noticeable, to be honest).
      CD Placement rating:
      Portable CD Case.

    • Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back (2010).  Since releasing the pop blockbuster So in 1986 (his sixth album in nine years), Peter Gabriel has surprisingly released only two proper albums:  1992's Us and 2002's Up.  (I'm not counting his soundtracks in 1989 and 2000.)  So for album three (or five, if you're picky) in 24 years... he's released a covers album.  Here's the twist:  he covers 12 different artists on this album; these artists in turn record their own version of a Gabriel song for an album called I'll Scratch Yours (get it?).  With David Bowie, David Byrne, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Neil Young, Radiohead, and Arcade Fire highlighting the artist list, this looked to be quite an idea.  However, the second part of the project has proved to be a bit ambitious -- only three covers have been released; Bowie declined to participate, replaced by Brian Eno; and Arcade Fire's participation is still up in the air (more details here).  Nevertheless, Gabriel has more than held up his end of the bargain.  Orchestral covers with Gabriel's signature vocal delivery are can't miss.  He could probably cover the alphabet and I'd be talking about how emotional the letter "M" sounded.  I'm a sucker for covers, and this album works for me.
      CD Placement rating: Portable CD Case.

    • Grant Hart - Hot Wax (2009).  This is Grant Hart's first album since 1999's Good News for Modern Man, and only his sixth album since the implosion of Hüsker Dü in 1987.  (Basically the same pace as Peter Gabriel, but I'd bet PG can more afford to live off that kind of output than GH can.)  Now, GNFMM was (IMHO) the best solo album Hart has recorded (outshone only by his band Nova Mob's Last Days of Pompeii in his post-HD catalog), and received a good deal of buzz and press... that he didn't capitalize on, unfortunately.  A decade later, he has released an effort just a notch below his best offerings.  This one did not work for me on the first few listens, but after a number of further attempts (it is Grant Hart, after all), I found a very good album.  It's standard Grant:  musically smart, poppy, but still generally misses ex-bandmate Bob Mould's guitar bridges.  This is a fun, summertime album that could have been made anytime from 1970-2010.
      CD Placement rating:
      Portable CD Case.

    • Mötley Crüe - Saints of Los Angeles (2008).  I only own Shout at the Devil, but I found a new appreciation for these guys after reading Nikki Sixx's autobiography (The Heroin Diaries) and listening to the accompanying Sixx: A.M. - The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack album.  Both were excellent and startlingly honest.  With the hopes that another tell-all catharsis could propel Sixx's songwriting to that same level with the Crüe, I gave SOLA a shot.  I have to say, it's really an impressive album.  Superbly mixed, their music sounds fresh, and Sixx really knows how to write for Vince Neil's unique vocal stylings.  On the other hand, there's nothing completely surprising here, and they do tend to run the same path they always do.  What separates this album from their others is their raw energy and the very personal edge to their lyrics.  Nikki, as I'm sure you're reading this, send me an e-mail when you are looking for prime-time interview placement in an obscure blog.
      CD Placement rating: It's on the borderline between the Portable CD Case and the Car CD Changer.  (Yes, it's really that good.)  Ultimately, it's the Portable CD Case.

    • Pearl Jam - Backspacer (2009).  Eric Lax finally got through to me with this album, and it's a pleasant surprise.  True confession time:  I don't even own my favorite Pearl Jam album (Ten), although Mrs. Snilch Report does own VitalogyEddie Vedder's vocals drive me nuts, and thus it's been about 15 years since I've felt the need to give PJ a try.  But on the heels of Vedder's Into the Wild  soundtrack, hearing "The Fixer" on the radio, and the persistent Mr. Lax, I gave this a shot.  And it's very nice.  "Gonna See My Friend" is an odd choice for a lead track, but that's really my only quibble here; "Amongst the Waves" has to be a great Brad track re-purposed for PJ, and it really hits the mark.  It's a nice album that doesn't try to do too much.  In a good way.
      CD Placement rating: CD Rack.
    • The Slits - Trapped Animal (2009).  Scott and I saw this band (which is currently original members Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt, and four new bandmates) play at Great Scott in 2006. Before we move any further:  if you don't own 1979's Cut, it turns out you have a hole in your life you weren't aware of.  I really don't like reggae, much less reggae punk, but you cannot deny Cut.  (If you don't have it, go buy it, consume it, and then continue reading.  It's okay, the internet is not going anywhere.)

      Well, they blew us away at Great Scott's, and I had high expectations for their first full length release in 28 years,
      especially after the three song teaser from 2006, the Revenge of the Killer Slits EP.  I'm not sure whether this meets those expectations, but I can't stop playing it.  I seriously want to say I don't like it, but I guess the continual plays means that I actually like it quite a lot.  Revival grrrrrrrrrrl reggae punk music is often like that, or so I'm told.  Plays great on the big stereo.
      CD Placement rating:
      Who am I to argue with compulsion?  Portable CD Case.
    - Snilch

    Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    CD Labeling Software

    For the remaining 12 minutes that CD's are around, I intend to label my mixes when I make them.  I have for over 10 years, so why stop now?  It makes my creations look more professional.  And purty.

    So, when my CD labeling software would no longer work with Windows Vista or 7, I went online to see what reviewers judged to be the best software.  The pickings were slim, and the opinions I did see did not appear to be completely unbiased; in the end, there really aren't good reviews of this kind of software.

    Hmmm... what to do?  The answer seemed obvious:  I'll just test them out myself.  

    My criteria is pretty straightforward:
    1. Ability to read information off CD's automatically
    2. Ease of use
    3. Flexibility of printing options
    4. Graphic options
    5. Text options
    6. Amount of pre-loaded backgrounds
    Our guinea pigs are as follows:
    1. Acoustica CD Label Maker
    2. AMF CD and DVD Label Maker
    3. CyberLink Label Maker
    4. Dataland CD Label Designer 
    5. Discus
    6. Disketch CD Label Software
    7. Droppix Label Maker
    8. Easy CD and DVD Cover Creator
    9. Kronen Design
    10. MediaFACE CD Label Creator
    11. Roxio Easy CD Label Creator
    12. SureThing CD Creator
    I've been using SureThing for the last few years, and have used MediaFACE, Roxio, and Easy CD in the past.  Now, I could completely demo each one... but who wants to spend 30 days with every piece of software?  I'm just too lazy.  Let's see if I can thin the field here. 
    1. Ability to read information off CD's automatically

    This is a simple pass/fail test:  if the software can't even do this, it's inevitably got a lot of other issues I'll find out about later.  For this, I used the 2008 Snilch Report Hits (Volume 1) and the 2009 Snilch Report Favorites (Volume 2).  (And to those promised these discs -- yes, they are now finally moving into production.)  The former was burned with Roxio's Easy Media Creator and the latter straight from iTunes.

    • Acoustica
    • AMF
    • Droppix
    • Roxio
    • SureThing
    • CyberLink Label Maker
    • Dataland CD Label Designer (which was complicated without being flexible or robust)
    • Discus
    • Disktech (which was was easy to use but it is not robust at all)
    • Easy CD (which was very limited) 
    • Kronen Design
    • MediaFACE (which was a shock)

    And then there were five.

    2. Ease of use
    3. Flexibility of printing options

    Very easy to use:  Acoustica, AMF.  All pass here, but Roxio just barely.

    Flexibility:  Acoustica has lots of options here, although it's unclear from the demo exactly how easy it would be to duplicate label images to fit certain templates.  Droppix and Sure Thing all have plenty of options; AMF has fewer but passes.

    Roxio, however, does not.  It's already lagging behind, and clearly has issues moving forward; so we'll cut our losses here.
    4. Graphic options
    Acoustica is limited, but passes here.  Droppix and Sure Thing have lots of easily accessible options.

    AMF is extremely intuitive and easy to use... but that's partially because your options are so limited.  This is your stop, AMF.

    And then there were three.

    5. Text options

    Ease of use extends to text options for Acoustica.  Droppix seems to be limited in terms of templates, but that just may be the fact that this is a trial.  Lots of LiteScribe options, though.  Sure Thing cruises through.
    6. Amount of pre-loaded backgrounds

    Acoustica has a very limited number of pre-loaded backgrounds, although you can download a lot more from their website for free.  However, it will cost you a $10 each for the six sets of the coolest art they have.  FAIL.

    Sure Thing and Droppix have a ton of cool options.  They both look good.

    Conclusions:  For overall robustness, flexibility, and ease of use, both Droppix and Sure Thing are great choices.  Sure Thing runs at $24.95 for a download, $29.99 for a physical disc; Droppix costs the same for a download but an extra six bucks for the physical disc.  You can't really go wrong either way.  I will ultimately choose Sure Thing, as it's the one "big name" (i.e., company that's been around for ten years) that's fully featured and looks to be around for at least another five.

    It's all so simple when you go to the tale of the tape....

    - Snilch

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Bad Lieutenant - Never Cry Another Tear (2009)

    It's not often I get suckered at Newbury Comics anymore.  I've learned my lesson:  I go in with a list, and that's pretty much what I look for.  

    However (and these stories inevitably have a "However" or a "But" in them), my eye caught Bad Lieutenant's Never Cry Another Tear with the promo sticker:  "Featuring Members of New Order and Joy Division!"  And it was on sale for $7.99.  Nah, I don't have a problem.

    First revelation:  it's really New Order's Bernard Sumner and Phil Cunningham, along with some guy named Jake Evans (from the band Rambo and Leroy, which I've never heard of).  The only Joy Division link is Sumner, which is cheating.  Now, the sessions were aided by Stephen Morris, who was in both Joy Division and New Order... but it's still cheesy to promote the album that way.  With Morris in the mix, it's more like:  "New Order without Peter Hook and Gillian Gilbert, but with some guy you've never heard of who sings half the songs!"  Not as pithy, but more accurate.  Ex-Blur bassist Alex James comes along for the ride for the recording sessions. 

    Confession:  I do love Joy Division (thanks to Yves, Scott, and Sean), but I really have never gotten into New Order; this definitely verges towards the latter.

    That being said, it's the way I want New Order to sound.  BL is still a pop entity, but with more guitar influences than NO.  "Sink or Swim" is a great leadoff track, but it's the second track that sells the album:  "Twist of Fate."  This is an 80's hit that's 25 years late in being released; it's one of the three songs (Manic Street Preacher's "Marlon J.D." and Idlewild's "Little Discourage" being the others) that I am constantly playing these days.  Truly a gem, with Bernard Sumner at his absolute crooning best.  It's fantastic.

    In fact, after the first five songs, it's pretty clear this is safe, well-adjusted 80's revivalist pop with some interesting musical twists, and very listenable.  The issue with the album is its length, and that when I hear Rambo, er, Jake Evans sing, they start to sound like Coldplay.  And not in any good way.  They should have stopped at between eight and ten tracks; that would be a tight, strong album.  Instead they decided to release fourteen tracks, which just drags the plot out way too far.

    In the end, this is a must-buy for New Order fans, and is a should-buy for everyone else, as it is an excellent album.  It loses steam along the way, but that just means the front half is safe and interesting while the back half is inoffensive and bland.  

    Merch Rating:  I'd buy their next album, no questions asked.  Normally I'd look for additional tracks, but I feel like the kitchen sink is already included on the album.  I'd go see them if it was convenient; merch buying at the venue would be based on performance but the album is good enough to think I'd at least buy a t-shirt.

    CD Placement Rating:  On its way to the gold (Car CD Changer), the back half of the event means only silver -- Portable CD Player.

    MP3 Recommendations:  "Twist of Fate," "Sink or Swim."  And MSP's "Marlon J.D." and Idlewild's "Little Discourage."

    - Snilch

    Monday, February 08, 2010

    Pitchfork: Judgement Day

    Generally, I don't read reviews prior to listening to music.  And if I do, I tend to skim.  I've had bad experiences of letting the reviewer's opinion shape my own, rather than complement it.  I remember reading a blurb about Bob Mould's 1996 self-titled release, which complained to no end about the use of a drum machine on the album.  To this day, I can't get past the drums when I listen to it.  Lesson learned.

    One exception for me over the years has been Pitchfork.  They introduced me to Les Savy Fav, The Go! Team, Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Jay Reatard (RIP), British Sea Power, Enon, Iron and Wine, The Fall, and countless others.  They've steered me right with their reviews, and gave me a lot of great music which has made my collection that much better.  Amongst other review sites, their historical place (well, internet historical place, at least) has been the home to the best music you've never heard of.  Their ear has always been on the ground.

    Are there haters out there?  Sure.  You can find them out there (and no, I'm not doing your research for you), and they love to jump all over Pitchfork.  Not me.  The proof has always been in the pudding, and a Pitchfork 8.0 rating or better has generally resulted in a 60-75% success rate in my keeping the album, year after year.

    However, I've had a bad, bad run with Pitchfork over the last two to three years; the metric is now more of a 10-20% rate, which is quite alarming.  In fact, I've had to revise my own formula:  now I won't touch an album unless it's rated 9.0 or better. 

    So at this point, I need to decide whether this has been a lull, a trend, or if Pitchfork and I no longer see eye to eye in terms of what is good to great music.  Here are the albums I listened to, and their respective Pitchfork ratings:
    1. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009): 9.6
    2. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (2007): 8.9
    3. Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Continued (2008): 9.2
    4. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009): 9.2
    5. Girls - Album (2009): 9.1
    6. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009): 9.0
    7. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair (2008): 9.1
    8. Max Tundra - Mastered by Guy at the Exchange (2002): 9.3
    9. M83 - Saturdays = Youth (2008): 8.5
    10. No Age - Nouns (2008): 9.2
    11. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2009): 8.4
    12. TV on the Radio - Dear Science (2008): 9.2
    Out of these twelve albums, I expect the following breakdown:
    • 3-4 Car CD Changer albums
    • 5-6 Portable CD case albums
    • 2 CD Rack albums
    • 1 Sell-back 1 /Pile of death
    In other words, nine out of twelve above average; two that are not necessarily my speed but so good I need to keep them; and one that just misses the mark entirely.  I'm being kind here; really, all nine 9.0's should be at least above average, and three 8.0's should be average or above average.

    To be fair, I included 3 "best new music" albums I have reviewed here previously (Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio, and M83), and probably would have bought regardless of review; the rest were acquired strictly on Pitchfork's review.

    The results?  Here's how they broke down:

    Car CD Changer 
    Projected: 3-4
    Actual: 2 
    1. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009): 9.6 
    2. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2009): 8.4
    - Not a good start -- only two CD's makes it here, oddly the best and worst-rated of the bunch.  Animal Collective is borderline CD Rack/Portable, but gets the nod to this level because its so well produced; ultimately it lacks some soul to be rated higher.  I hear a little Howard Jones and The Beach Boys here, oddly -- and it's a little boring at times, but not terribly so.  For The Pains, the updated shoegazer vibe here is great.

    Portable CD Case  
    Projected: 5-6
    Actual:  4

    1. Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Continued (2008): 9.2
    2. Girls - Album (2009): 9.1
    3. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (2009): 9.0
    4. M83 - Saturdays = Youth (2008): 8.5
    - Strike two.  Not only are we still running behind, but M83 and Grizzly Bear were already known to me.  Deerhunter is quite good, although Microcastle is the strong swimmer of the double album.  The Girls album grew on me, despite the odd vocals (see the trend continue below); here they work. 

    CD Rack  
    Projected: 2
    1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science (2008): 9.2
    -  TV on the Radio was also part of my previous experience.  So of the seven albums I liked enough to keep, I would have bought three anyways.  We all see where this is going.

    Sell-back Pile 1/Pile of Death

    Projected: 0-1
    Actual: 5
    1. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009): 9.2
    2. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity (2007): 8.9
    3. Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair (2008): 9.1
    4. Max Tundra - Mastered by Guy at the Exchange (2002): 9.3
    5. No Age - Nouns (2008): 9.2 
    - What is it with these odd vocals?  To put it kindly, all of these groups have very, er, "non-traditional rock voices."  (Not so kindly:  stop singing.)  And every damn vocalist sounds exactly the same!  All weird falsetto male voices.  Dirty Projectors is a perfect example: one of those "really trying to be quirky" bands that were failed by their ambition -- if you can buy the vocals, you might love these guys.  I didn't.  Meanwhile Hercules and Love Affair wishes for the return of disco in a way that I really don't.  No Age does try hard to rock it out, but I don't believe they understand how to.  Max Tundra was so terrible one of my CD players refused to even read it.  I think I'd rather gouge my eyes out that listen to Deerhoof's broken English warblings ever again.

    Conclusions:  I would have accepted nine above average and two average albums;  I ended up with six and one respectively.  Five albums that don't make the cut is not acceptable.  So their rate of success here is 63% - that's an F where I went to school.  It's even worse if you look at just the 9+ albums -- it's only 5 out of 9!  Dismal.

    My final verdict is that I cannot trust these guys any more.  Sure, there are some gems here, but I'll need more than just their word to go get an album these days.  It was fun while it lasted.

    - Snilch