Bonnie

BonnieOh, Bonnie Tyler… how you will forever be synonymous with the summer of 1996. I think it was the constant radio play of Nicki French’s 1993 cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart that ruined it for me, that or a friend’s sister had Faster Than the Speed of Night on cassette. Either way, I absolutely despised both versions… with a raging passion, but with anything that’s repeatedly shoved into your skull without your control, usually at full volume, you begin to find pleasure in the agony. I’ve grown to admire the original, now that I’m older and own the album, but I can’t shake the adventurous happenings of the warm, humid summer of 1996 every damn time I hear that song, or see this album cover. Also, hair.

Maniacal Laughter

ManiacalLaughterWhen anger and rage are your evening companions, a little Maniacal Laughter is certainly in order. Falling under the ever-growing nostalgia umbrella, East Coast pop-punkers The Bouncing Souls returned to the mid-90s middle class punk scene with their sophomore effort, 1996’s nearly perfect Maniacal Laughter. One of my early introductions to the band was this and their first, 1994’s The Good, the Bad & the Argyle, but for me, Maniacal Laughter is much more sophisticated than its predecessor, while still managing to embrace the slick, lighthearted, bratty aura that made them fan favorites all across the world. If you haven’t seen The Bouncing Souls live, you most certainly should. They’re a hell-of-a lot of fun… or, at least they were 20 years ago. We all may be getting older, but we’re never too old for some hearty Maniacal Laughter.

24K Fingers

GoldOne of my favorite high school jams finally received a vinyl pressing earlier this year, and my copy of Goldfinger’s self titled debut magically arrived at our doorstep yesterday afternoon. Pressed on blue (this), gold, and lavender vinyl, each version was released, as far as I can tell, with a limited run of 500 copies. Unfortunately, Goldfinger’s followup (1997’s Hang-Ups) was nothing short of a disaster (at least for our listening circle), and the band was squarely written off. Listening to this album now, some 19 years later, I’m knocked out by a raging flood of adolescent memories. For those who missed this gem, and are fans of quirky, snarky, pop-punk, get this record!

DON’T BLAME ME

FPSo reads the warrior of accountabilities pin on the lapel of the heavily saturated, liver-wigged, bloodstained, and anti-patriot of yesterday’s future on the cover of Ministry’s 1996 album, Filth Pig. Scumbags reunite and cast your hollow vote for this season’s cosmetic romance, and paint those faces of joyful optimism and mirroring nationalism with the juice stains of filtered truth and industrial bruising.

It’s Been Nearly a Decade…

RFTCI haven’t seen them since they said goodbye, the first time, back on Halloween of 2005. Ever since seeing them in 1996, they’ve always held the title of “best live band, ever.” Tonight, then again tomorrow night, at the luxurious Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, I’ll experience adolescence in the form of the greatest rock n’ roll band of my generation.

Long live the frenzy, of Rocket from the Crypt.

Pave the World

Pave the WorldFile tonight’s venture under the heading of 10” pictures discs that haven’t been played in over 18 years. One of the most memorable live bands my teenaged self has ever had the pleasure of witnessing, the Chicago-based new, new wave ska hardcore band, The Blue Meanies, combined big band numbers with post-hardcore aggression, offered eye-opening repetitive (and loud) percussion, horns, and spitting lyrics bellowing forth from an amplified megaphone.

Pave the World, like most spot-on commentaries on the everyday unraveling of social morality (based on the motivation of greed and fatter stacks), wails like an uneasy siren of truth. The Blue Meanies were not a band to be taken lightly, and their wisdom will continue to paint the horizons of willing truth seekers generations to come.

Naked Eye

LJIn the process of sheathing my collection with 3 mil polyethylene jimmy hats (started with A, currently at L), I’ve discovered a few hidden, sealed treasures I’d somehow forgotten about. I count five virgin records living between A and L, among them is this 1996 maxi 12” from Grand Royal’s Luscious Jackson.

Naked Eye, the band’s most commercially successful song, was the only offering from the band to enter the Billboard Hot 100, and the first to penetrate these ears. Word around the barrio is that LJ reunited and were collaborating on new music, a certain and promising upswing from this severely underrated band.

Refuse Nothing

White_vinylSongs that fan anything, are worth a healthy listen. Song fanning the flames of discontent… well, that’s a horse of a different color. White, in this case, and a European RSD (Record Store Day) exclusive, Refused’s 3rd full-length offering, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent saw both a red vinyl 2010 reissue, as well as a 2012 white vinyl reissue after the initial bomb-dropping 1996 release.

SongsColors shouldn’t dictate a quality listen, but in this case, pure white (or anti-black), fits like a glove.

Unofficially Tool

Tool_DiscIn 1996, Tool released Ænima, their 2nd and most prolific album to date. In (roughly) 2012, various colored, and reportedly unofficial reissues began hitting the record racks. With originals going for $200 – $400, logic told me that $30 for a double translucent orange, high quality bootleg (“unofficial,” likely not a bootleg) of Tool’s masterpiece wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, but that was back in 2012.

ToolThey go for close to $60 now (still not a bad deal), and the unofficial, roughly 2012 version came in the following, furious flavors: Orange (featured here), Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow Marble.

Setting Sun

Setting SunTaking the day off today to read under the California sun (I’m enthralled with the 33 1/3 book series… almost finished with Piper at the Gates of Dawn, then will likely head to American Recordings… I’m a huge fan of Johnny Cash’s autobiography, Cash by Johnny Cash… thanks, High Fidelity), and to play a bit of catch (baseball) with the SO… I won’t fault her for being a Phillies fan… or maybe, yeah I will.

Bombastic big beat, baby! This 1996’s single by the Chem Bros from their 1997 full length, Dig Your Own Hole, Setting Sun features Noel Gallagher on vocals (don’t fault the band), and showcases heavy sirens and all the body movin’ dance floor glory that late 90s Chem Bros were known for. So, bump this fool to your iPod, or mobile stereo system, find a good tree, a better book, and enjoy the frills of a sunny afternoon… unless you live where it’s cold, in which case I pity your frozen soul!

Not Your Mother’s Hip-Hop

DrBy every conceivable understanding of the phrase, Dr. Octagon is without question NOT your mother’s Hip-Hop. Defined by Google as:

hip-hop

noun

1. a style of popular music of US black and Hispanic origin, featuring rap with an electronic backing.

OctagonDr. Octagon is an X-rated barrel-shot through the grotesque-minded brilliance of the lyrical magician Kool Keith, backed with the autonomous production of the genre-bending (never breaking) Mr. Dan Nakamura (AKA Dan the Automator), mingled with the turntable chemist DJ Q-Bert (as well as a slew of genteel guest stars). In short, Dr. Octagon is the last doctor you’ll ever need, because he’s the last doctor you’ll ever see. Your mother would not approve of this disgusting display of Hip-Hop-ery.

What would qualify as “your mother’s Hip-Hop” you ask?

– Fat Boys

– PM Dawn

– Vanilla Ice (after a sixer of Zima)

The doctor is out… call back after midnight to make an appointment with the receptionist.

(Please note that this is not an album review. This has been explicitly stated so that I may repurpose this album for a future, much less lazy-minded post, you dig?)

Sealed With A Kiss

JWEBack when Grand Royal Records went under, its remaining assets were acquired (by means of online auction) and distributed via the short-lived GR2.com site (it’s still up, but the store closed its virtual doors a few years back). It was at GR2.com that I began ingesting a good third of the Grand Royal catalog at insanely cheap prices. Since I’m a never-happy-completist-nut, any and everything released by Grand Royal, roughly 90+ records, were placed into an Excel doc, created and printed out by me, with some now years old chicken scratch as a quickly obtainable Need It vs. Got It list. Maybe my OCD began in my younger days when I tried desperately to obtain all 792 cards in the 1990 Topps baseball card set, but really, who knows.

BackThat brings us to the Josephine Wiggs Experience. Released in 1996, Bon Bon Lifestyle was the only record of any speed released by the band, and as you can painfully see (or not), this copy is still sealed. If asked what I’m waiting for, I wouldn’t be able to offer a believable retort, the stupidity in which is magnified considering I don’t even know what this band sounds like. Someday I’ll unveil her virgin grooves, but until then, she stands alongside Janis and Journey, eager and patiently awaiting her debut spin.

Survival of the Fattest

FatCertain albums carry unintentional weight heavy enough to destroy the basic foundation of a listener’s musical experience.  Survival of the Fattest, the 2nd of the Fat Wreck Chords comps serves as one (of maybe a handful) of these crucial albums. Timing is everything… be it love, a career, no lines at your local record shop on Record Store Day, and what is deemed important say, in 1996 (when this album was released), wouldn’t necessarily wear the same badge of importance as it does in 2013.

Fat BackYou see, I was a budding teen when I acquired this album (of the compact disc persuasion at the 1996 Vans Warped Tour in Milwaukee), and its function as a concrete door-opening battering ram unleashed a lifetime of new and exciting music both directly and indirectly involving the 14 bands contained within it. My love affair with NOFX, albeit cooled to a slight simmer these days, was solidified with this album. The same goes for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Lagwagon, Propagandhi, Good Riddance and a personal favorite, Strung out… essentially the soundtrack to my late teen years. From there, I would go on to collect any and everything NOFX-related (I’m still searching for 1994’s Don’t Call Me White 7”, although I’m not sure I’d really listen to it much these days), every Lagwagon album and 7″, and any colored vinyl reissue of early, classic Fat albums (mainly Propagandhi, Lagwagon and Good Riddance). I can either blame Survival of the Fattest, for this neverending quest of obtaining the “perfect” collection, or I can thank it for opening my eyes. I haven’t necessarily made up my mind yet.

(A few side notes: 1) This album holds so much adolescent importance that I bought a second, sealed copy just in case my first copy scratches or up and walks away. 2) This was also the album my buddy and I were listening to when we totaled his father’s 1988 Monte Carlo SS. Oh, how impressionable young minds can be.)

This is for the People of the Sun

RAM JFJamie Fisk looking album covers aside (and yes, that’s a deceased spider preserved on the “R” in EMPIRE), RATM’s Evil Empire was 1) released, on vinyl, but more importantly, and without my knowledge (imagine that) 2) with a badass slipmat…

Upon the looking’s up of my vinyl copy of 1999’s The Battle of Los Angeles (complete with fist-raising slipmat), I was reluctant to discover that 1996’s Evil Empire also featured a limited edition slipmat… message to self: gas up the DeLorean and get your ass to 1996’s Madison, WI State St. Exclusive Co. and obtain this Evil Empire slipmat by any, preferably violent, means necessary!

RAM SlipStill a worthy listen, Rage documents a very dark and exciting era of my adolescent life. Hey Lancer & the Mij, remember seeing Rage w/ the Beasties at Alpine Valley performing at the Tibetan Freedom Concert back in ’98?! Yeah… we’re old.

Captain Vapour Athletes AKA Mid-90s Japanese Groove Music

BD CoverBuffalo Daughter are an intriguing blend of hard hitting groove rock colliding with hints of hip hop and just the right amount of downtempo-electro-flair to keep things teetering (crazily) on the edge of complete and outright chaos. This Japanese 3-piece cut-and-paste act takes a bit of discipline on the part of the user at first spin, but like with many exemplary albums, the everlasting joy is found the deeper one digs.

BD were indie rock when the term still mattered. I just kick myself in the ass for not getting into them more when Grand Royal Records was still around (it took me YEARS to track down a reasonably priced copy of BD’s New Rock… their 2nd album).

BD AdAnyway, not much to say today (or any other day for that matter), so if you find yourself in the mood for spaced-out grooves performed and produced by Japanese women from the mid 90s, and let’s be honest, we ALL struggle with that blend of mood from time to time, I strongly suggest you take a leap of faith and check out Buffalo Daughter’s first album, Captain Vapour Athletes. To some, it may just be a wall of noise, but to others, it may open a concrete door into a vast and fruitful new musical landscape… I mean, something happened to me.

Enough Bass to Make Your Neighbors Call the Cops

LoopsWith little to no time today, I present Loops of Fury by the Chem Bros. Featured in the Playstation game, Wipeout 2097 (and released on the jam-packed, gonna-make-your-ears-bleed, but in a good way, soundtrack to the game titled, you guessed it, Wipeout 2097: The Soundtrack), Loops of Fury is a perfect example of late 90s Chem Bros, and stands as a highlight of Big Beat music in general.

With enough bass to make your neighbors call the cops, Loops of Fury would make a great addition to any collection, especially if pissing off your neighbors is your style.

1996: Spinal Scratch

Spinal ScratchMade famous by the labors of his day job, as exactly ½ of Daft Punk, Thomas Bangalter’s solo work finds the artist taking a minimalist approach to the Funk-rich Electronic (House music) sound. In no way does that mean Spinal Scratch, and its B-Side, Spinal Beats, are “less than.” These two tracks hit hard, and when combined, offer over 11 minutes of sweaty dance-friendly beats.

Released a year before Daft Punk’s eponymous debut, Homework, Spinal Scratch finds Mr. Bangalter cutting his teeth on a pair of monster beats that almost scream the letters, S-E-X in a rhythmic and soothing loop, but you know, in that classy French way. It’s almost as though because this is French music, there is a certain amount of leniency attached to it. Not that this, or anything Bangalter or Daft Punk do require any sort of leniency, but French House music, with its repetitive yet weighted bass can become something of a nuisance if done improperly. Good thing for all involved that Mr. Bangalter’s work is pure gold. The fact that he is French is just the icing on the delicious French pastry.

LabelSpinal Scratch, or Roulé 302, is the second solo offering by Bangalter, following 1995’s Trax on Da Rocks. (I purchased Trax on Da Rocks from eBay a few years back, but it was lost in transit. I was refunded my money, but have been looking for a copy ever since.) Both DJ 12” records were released on Bangalter’s own Roulé Records. Roulé is French for, “rolled,” so you get the target demographic he was going for with this label.

You can find Spinal Scratch on the Irréversible soundtrack, which is mainly comprised of the back catalogue of Bangalter’s solo work. It’s nice to have everything together, but there is a certain amount of intimacy owning these tracks individually. If you haven’t already, seek out Bangalter’s solo work. Your sex-crazed dance partner will thank you.