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7026 5th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98117
Here's the deal: every record is rated on its Mix Tape Quotient, or MTQ. This is the number of songs on that album that merit repeat listening (and hence, being mix tape-worthy). For example, a great 3-song 7" would get 3/3 or a hit-and-miss 12-song cd would get 7/12. Sure, it can sometimes be a little more challenging for me to rate a record this way, but I still find it more useful than a simple 1-5 star rating system!
Posted on February 24th.
So, Bunnygrunt (version one - the darling indiepop trio) broke up around 1999, and soon after, the main members Matt & Karen played in their own separate bands - Matt was in the Julia Sets and Karen was in the Fantasy Four. Listening to this posthumously released disc, which would've been their debut album had it come out when the band recorded it in 2002, it's easy to see where Karen's head was when Bunnygrunt reinvented themselves as a killer rock band in 2005! Most of these songs are in the same mold: straight-forward powerpop in the vein of Nikki & The Corvettes, vintage Blondie and the Shivvers, with barely any hints of indiepop (save for the toy pianos in "Your Mirrors Must Be Mad", the girl-group influence in "Warm (You Used To Be)" and the totally twee cover art). A couple of the slower songs aren't that memorable, but there are plenty of other super-catchy songs, like "He's So Mod", "Outta My Head" and "Shotgun (I Should Be Ridin')" (which was covered by Bunnygrunt on their most recent album) to make this a really fun, punky pop record! MTQ=13/15
Posted on February 18th.
Though this is a brand new Jasmine Minks release, the songs are actually previously unreleased recordings made before the band first split in 1992. The songs may lack the bite of their earlier, more well-known material, but it's still good jangle-pop from a band that seemed to have aged better than many of their peers, like Biff Bang Pow and the Weather Prophets. This EP is also the debut release for this new Scottish label, and the disc is dedicated to two lost members within the Minks camp with all proceeds going to a cancer support charity, so that just gives you another good reason to pick it up! MTQ=4/4
Posted on February 18th.
This British duo teased us over the past couple years with a pair of 7" singles that hinted at where they were going with their new album, "For The Masses", and now we finally have it! Led by the two earlier A-sides (with both b-sides nestled within the record, as well), the album only gets better as it goes, with other winners including the tense "Enemy" that feels like a bomb waiting to explode (but never does), the completely sunny and carefree "Best Idea" and the bombastic "Lies Like These". In addition to the ones I just mentioned, the band runs through a wide variety of other influences and styles in just under 42 minutes, from Nada Surf-ish alt-pop to bossa nova to electropop, with hints of the Go-Betweens and the Monochrome Set popping up in more than a few places. And despite a couple missteps, like "Sonora Dance Band" (a vocal-effect laden interlude) and the dull "You Were Right", this is still a rather impressive record! MTQ=10/13
Posted on February 14th.
This disc is a perfect example that not all great Swedish music is indiepop - there's some quality punk, too! And what a spirited record this is! Imagine a really young Pogues crossed with This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, and you might be able to picture what you're in for: acoustic-based punk where everyone sings, er, shouts along. But this is plenty poppy, too - check out the simple and perfect guitar melody in "När Kapitalet Tar Till Vapen" or the lively trumpet playing all over the place. I'd even go as far to say that musically, this band is cut from the same cloth as c86 bands like Talulah Gosh or Strawberry Story - all shambling and speedy and full of reckless energy. I can picture popkids balking at the singer's gruff voice, but it kinda works with the predominately Swedish lyrics (don't worry, there's a link to a website with translations and explanations), which themselves are highly politically-charged - both nationally and internationally. This is a really fun and energizing record, and probably my favorite Plan-It-X release! MTQ=11/11
Posted on February 6th.
With the Black Tambourine-inspired band name and record sleeve, this Florida trio doesn't really have much in common with that band. The A-side does pack quite a bit of feedback and noise into its 100 seconds, but I'd liken them more to Boyracer or the Bright Lights instead. On the flip, are two nice acoustic tunes (also each under the two-minute mark) - "Lover's Heart" reminds me of the first couple Shins 7"s while "Scraps" is a bit more stripped down in the vein of the State Of Samuel or early Lil' Hospital. Three different sides to this band packed on one brief single, and it makes me wonder what else they've got up their sleeve! MTQ=3/3
Posted on January 27th.
This is the second album from this Brazilian band and their first on Midsummer Madness Records, and though the title of the album may be "Monotone", the music is anything but! Instead, we've got very melodic pop with a laidback feel in the vein of Teenage Fanclub, the Pernice Brothers and my beloved Seaside Stars, with touches of dreampop courtesy of the slightly-effected guitar sound and the general airy atmosphere throughout the album. The band's style hasn't changed much since their first album in 2007, but their songwriting certainly seems stronger now, with "Kite Song", "Fingerprints" and "Easy To Crack" shining as particular favorites. Oh, and the musical bridge in "Stepping Quietly" (with the guitar bendy-bit) was stuck in my head for DAYS! Additionally, the production of this album is noticeably better than the first, which sounded a bit uneven overall. A big improvement for the band, and a great record as well! MTQ=11/12
Posted on January 27th.
Yes! Remember several years ago when I raved about the Cusacks? Well, that band is long gone and sorely missed, but here's another project from Dave Gibson in his new home (well, not new but recent-ish and not Columbus), Charlottesville, Virginia. Like his previous band, this band plays playful and bouncy '60s-inspired pop in the vein of the Galactic Heroes, Princeton Reverbs Colonial and early Poison Control Center. Five songs in just over eleven minutes, so there's no time for filler - just fun, upbeat music that's impossible not to dance along to! Now let's see if we can get a full-length album from these guys... MTQ=5/5
Posted on January 24th.
This record really caught me off guard when I first heard it. For one, PIAPTK Records isn't really known for this type of pop music, and neither is Olympia (where they come from), for that matter (save for Lake, but they're not really all that similar). I've heard a brief history of this band before, but forgot most of it; I think it involved something about a fluctuating line-up and these songs being recorded a few years back. Judging the band based solely on these six songs, though, I'd say that I totally love them! They sound rather Swedish to me, reminding me of Club 8, Heikki and El Perro Del Mar; half of the songs are keyboard-based and dancey, while the rest are softer and use acoustic guitar or piano instead. Most of them use drum machine and all of them heavily feature boy/girl vocal harmonies (though he takes most of the lead vocal duties). Only released as a limited 12", this record is perfect for any fan of soft, romantic pop! MTQ=6/6
Posted on January 24th.
This was a band that rose from the ashes of two prominent Richmond, Virginia bands, Coral and Honor Role, both of whom released records on Merge in the early '90s. But unfortunately, Dynamic Truths only released one single (also on Merge) during their lifetime. Well, this disc collects those two songs, along with an additional thirteen unreleased songs recorded between 1997-99. While their two previous bands were more heavy and angular sounding, these songs are a bit more straight-forward in some ways, and there are memorable melodies all over the place. Where they really stood out, though, was their darker sound (which wasn't in vogue yet back then), taking cues from Joy Division (even nicking a guitar part in "New Light") or maybe early Public Image Limited. At times, they even remind me of a louder version of For Against! Another band that kept passing through my mind while listening to this was the Muslims, both in the songs' driving rhythms and Bob's vocal delivery. It's a shame they never really went anywhere the first time around, but this strong collection of songs (packaged in a nicely-screened sleeve) is as fine a legacy as anything else. MTQ=14/15
Posted on January 20th.
Following a couple releases on Cloudberry a few years back, we finally have the debut album from Bristol's Westfield Mining Disaster. Led by Paul Towler (from the legendary Haywains and the overlooked Casswells), the WMD play guitar-pop that fits right in line with bands like the Liberty Ship and the Windmills (Paul's voice even reminds me of Roy Thirlwall's tenor). Like those bands, there's an even mix between upbeat jangly songs and more melancholic (but just as jangly) tunes, with added hints of country in places a la Airport Girl. The music may be mostly light-hearted, but the lyrics run much deeper, with songs like "Everyone's So Spiteful In This Town" and "No-One Heard Us Calling" striking the same political chord as, say, Milky Wimpshake - not to mention McCarthy-esque song titles, like "Greedy Bastards, Save Your Souls!"! All told, a rather enjoyable debut album! MTQ=11/11