Before I get into my first entry, let's establish some ground rules.
1) A record can only be posted about once: Obviously, I'm going to listen to a ton of records on repeat. But, I will not bore you with continued blathering about the same shit over and over again.
2) Even if it's a few songs or one side of a record, talking about the record is fair game: Cos there's only so much time in the day and/or something might just kinda suck (right?).
3) All formats count: Why? Because an hour on lunch by yourself with NO MUSIC is torture. MP3s, vinyl, CDs, cassette, whistling, free style rapping co-workers... it all counts.
Alright, now that that's out of the way, on to the jams.
I've had a mild to serious fascination with the Stiff Records catalog for the past few years, but always have trouble finding the best stuff in the stores. While making my second trip up to UHF in Royal Oak since they opened, I ironically found the first full-band release by singer/actor/current dead guy Ian Dury and his group the Blockheads. Having just read some stuff about him an hour or two before heading up to the record store, I considered it fate, and picked it up without hearing a note.
Dury's output is different from other early releases from the Stiff crew... less punk-y/Elvis Costello type pop fervor, and more of a funky workout (maybe something more akin to Nick Lowe's "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass"), with a singer who sounds like he was socked in the mouth right before tracking the vocals. It's painfully British, and I'd be shocked if Damon Albarn and the rest of Blur weren't bowled over the first time they heard Dury. The jury's out on if I'll get into this or not, but so far I'm intrigued.
Here's the track, "Inbetweenies":
Featuring early R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, Let's Active are always mentioned when listing off all the power-pop greats. What sets them apart from the occasionally lame pack, though, is how awesome their records sound. Whereas a lot of power pop bands will take the safe route, Let's Active channeled punk energy into a tastefully 80s-sounding result (trust me, it's a good thing). Big, wet snares, snarling, semi-effected guitars, and Easter standing front and center, as he recorded most of this record minus the band's original lineup. Their EP "Afoot" and first album "Cyprus" are also highly recommended as well.
Check out "Writing the Book Of Last Pages":
Before picking up this record on a recommendation by UHF's Scotty Hagen, I'd never heard of Pezband. When he mentioned them to me, I already had an idea of what they'd sound like based on the name, and I was mostly right. Punchy, sugary pop, but slightly more refined and less goofy than I would have assumed. So far, it's good shit.
Here's "Baby It's Cold Outside"
In much the same way as I discovered Pezband, Scotty also suggested I check out the Rubinoos. Not nearly as edgy as Pezband, the Rubinoos are almost the quintessential power pop band: totally corny, but super-skilled players, singing love songs and that's about it. They cover the Tommy James hit "I Think We're Alone Now," and do a pretty good job of painting themselves as the type of typical band you'd see making a cameo in the high school dance scene of some lame 70s teen flick. Not completely horrible, but the lack of danger might make this one hard to come back to. (And if you're wondering about the weird Japanese record covers, they're SUPER into power-pop over there.)
Here's the best song on the record, "Rock and Roll Is Dead"
Here's the video for the first single, "Digging for Something":
Everybody should know the amazing, "Whole Wide World"... but to be honest, it's really the only Wreckless Eric song I've ever heard. So I was pretty stoked to find this record, on blue vinyl, so I could see if the rest of Eric's debut stood up to that song. I'm glad to say it does, and that Eric was also SUPER into saxophone on this release. Nothing wrong with a little rock sax, right?
Anyway, here's a video of the hit, "Whole Wide World":