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New releases – March 2014
The Clash – Sound System boxset (Columbia)
Remastered collection from The Clash. This boxset is exhaustive and I’ve been hearing a lot of gripes about the cost of the boxset. Sure, everybody has the studio LP’s (you better had) but this is first time that the remastered catalog has been commercially available. Let me just say that the remasters have to be heard to be believed. Every nuanced guitar, every half-spoken word, every closed high-hat can be heard loud and clear and it is somewhat alarming to hear them cleaned up. I spent an entire day just soaking up “Combat Rock” remastered, there was that much stuff hidden in the original mix. We blasted this box set in our house, in our cars, on our iPods for two weeks straight. My favorite part of the boxset is the sixth disc, which contains a slew of unreleased material and demos. I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the difference between the self-titled debut LP in America and the UK version for years. I didn’t hear “Protex Blue” and “Deny” until years and years later, but all of those songs are here and they sound incredible. Box set also contains a bunch of swag like dog tags, bumper stickers, stickers and a DVD, plus reprinted issues of The Clash fanzine, Armagideon Times. Essential, and well worth the price IMHO.
Bl’ast – The Expression Of Power (Southern Lord)
Remastered three LP reissue set, along with a 28 page book. Bl’ast pioneered the HUGE drum sound of the late 80’s. Literally. They had a bass drum so big that you could hide a person inside of it. Their guitar work and songwriting is so fractured and bent that it takes time to get used to. To virgin ears, it may all sound like sludge. But once you wrap your head around their rhythm section, (which is typically out-of-sync with the rest of the band) it all makes sense. Such perfect sludgy sense. Southern Lord is doing an excellent job with these reissues, the packaging is awe-inspiring and graphically pristine. Can’t wait to see what they do (and find in terms of unreleased material) for “Take The Manic Ride” and “It’s In Our Blood”.
Nina Persson – Animal Heart (Lojinx)
Debut solo record of Nina Perrson, formerly the singer of The Cardigans and A Camp. The record is diverse – it’s forty-five minutes of carefully composed post-rock with lots of electronic elements. The record sounds like a movement – a suite of songs that are highly personal at first glance. It also features an arsenal of vintage synths with that unique voice layered on top.
Kevin Seconds – Off Stockton (Rise Records)
Stripped down, eleven song acoustic LP. I really wasn’t sure what to expect here, but I was pleasantly surprised. Whether he realizes it or not, Kevin Seconds is capable of writing a really powerful song. He can instantly connect emotions with melodies and he does it with his own style. Kevin has been touring almost non-stop for the last three years as a solo artist and it’s obvious that he is not slowing down anytime soon. Speaking of 7 Seconds, their new LP comes out on May 27th on Rise Records and is called “Leave A Light On.”
The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits (Sacred Bones)
I really like this record. Lots of stuff happenin’ here. I don’t know this band and I’ve never seen them live, so I hesitate to paint any kind of picture. But I will say this: at the record store I overheard someone pick up this LP and say, “Well this looks exactly like that Big Star record…” and I chuckled to myself.
State Of Alert – First Demo 12/29/80 (Dischord)
Early recordings of SOA, the Washington DC band that Henry Rollins was in before he joined Black Flag. I feel like I know all the lyrics to SOA, but then discovered that I only thought I did.
Dead Kennedys – In God We Trust, Inc : The Lost Tapes (Music Video Distributors)
Eleven inch picture disc w/ DVD of the infamous recording session. Still wildly offensive and hilarious. Pretty sure this is the fastest batch of songs the DK’s ever wrote.
Murphy’s Law – Best Of Times (I Scream Records)
Third LP from this NYHC band, originally released in 1991, repressed for the first time. I had not heard this in years until recently and suddenly remembered how FUN this record is. “Burnt Toast” is one hell of an anthem. When this came out, lots of people trashed it because it was too goofy / too metal, etc. In hindsight, from my point of view, MOST records from 1991 sound goofy. Bands like Scatterbrain, Leeway and Mucky Pup were at the height of their game in this era. I attribute this to a change in taste regionally and revenge – revenge for so many east coast bands being dominated by super serious, ego-centric, over-dramatic hardcore bands for years. People were tired of being preached to, they were tired of rhetoric falling short of reality, tired of the endless violence. Enter Murphy’s Law with the solution: songs about Santa Claus and beer. If you didn’t already know, “Ilsa” is a tribute to the greatest 70’s shlock, nazi-exploitation flick ever made.
The Offenders – Endless Struggle / We Must Rebel (Southern Lord)
Complete discography of The Offenders, repressed remastered and repackaged. One of the best punk bands from Texas ever.
No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History Of The Legendary City Gardens (DiWuelf Publishing)
Book about the legendary club on Calhoun Street in Trenton, New Jersey by writer Steven DiLodovico and former Hard Times Fanzine editor Amy Yates Wuelfling. The book is chock-filled with anecdotes, photos and stories from tons of people and bands who frequented the club. Writing up a full review later this week, so be sure to check that out.
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