Please Take The Time Out Of Your Day To Read About Music: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 54

Obligatory Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to, like, pick out what you like about it? That being said, if I review your thing and I didn't like something, don't feel too bad. My opinion doesn't matter all that much. 

The Cowboy - The Cowboy Album - Fashionable Idiots - 12 songs - LP, download

The first thing I wanna address here is the press release, which falsely claims that this band contains half of Pleasure Leftists. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, this is a darn good album. "Everyday We Grow" starts out with a riff that kinda reminds me of that one My Chemical Romance song (you all know which one I'm talking about, I know it's not "cool" but we all know it). This is a song that every time I've heard them play it, I've thought to myself "I really like this song." Something about that chorus ("the long hand of my best man…") just inspires me. The perfect way to kick the record off. Then, "The Cowboy" kicks in as the second track as more of a punker tune, and boy, it's another great one. "Hear my voice, it's always twangin', and ZOOMIN'! past the trees." You're telling me you don't like that? Come on. I'm gonna take the easy way out and tell you that the band this really reminds me of is Homostupids. I know, that's shocking. I think where they differ from Homostupids (besides the different drummer) is a clearer, more together sound. Your opinion may vary on whether that's a good or bad thing. "Golden Man" is the third great song in a row here, nice throwback to "The Glow" in the lyrics, and I just keep thinking of all the times I've seen them start this over live. I kinda wanted to say something about how the lyrics are childlike in a way, how they talk about the simple things in life and are sometimes nonsensical, or whimsical even, and then a little voice in my head went "Every time I ride the bus…" so I'm not gonna say that. The next song, "My Champion" really makes you think about how different Josh's vocal approach here is as opposed to, say, "Apeshit." They're older, wiser, and don't need to yell to get their point across. Or something like that. You may remember "Sneaking Leaker" from being the phenomenal A-side of the last Homostupids 7", but I wasn't tired of it yet and was happy to hear it again here, as it's an A+ tune. "The Door" closes out the first side of this and gets me thinking about whether The Cowboy actually does have more of a post-punk sound than Homostupids did or whether the cleaner production (courtesy of Mike "Yes Yes" Gill) just helps reveal what was always there. Really makes you ponder. Take a moment here to flip the record over. "Peaceful Dreamer," which opens with a decidedly not peaceful guitar solo also has a great middle instrumental section that I just can't get enough of. I gotta say, I like this band. "Smaller Rider" also has a great opening riff/solo thing, and I think this one and "Everyday We Grow" probably have my favorite sets of lyrics on the record ("The Cowboy" is up there as well). I also like Steve laughing at the end. I assume it's Steve, anyway. Sounds like Steve to me. Hold on, let me say Steve one more time. What was I talking about? "The Burner" has what I referred to in my notes for some reason as "softer" in-between verse instrumentals which juxtapose (there's a good bad reviewer word for you) nicely with the lyrics, "DIVE RIGHT IN JUST RELAX." Following up on that one is another killer tune, "The River." I like the stop-start thing the drums are doing. For some reason, this one makes me think of what a movie scored by this band would sound like. Someone should get on that. "Beyond The Yard," as an instrumental, furthered this line of thought for me. And then the album closes with "Back On The Farm," another great tune and the perfect way to end. This is a darn good record. Darn good, I say. Oh, and it's also available on cassette via Blow Blood. Once I get a copy of that, I'll write another review. 4.8/5

(fashionableidiotsrecords@gmail.com / fashionableidiotsrecords.bandcamp.com)

Bill Fox - Before I Went To Harvard - Eleventh Hour Recording Company - 14 songs - LP, download

I've long wanted the cassette version of this that came out in 2011 and feared that I may never hear the songs contained within. Fortunately, Eleventh Hour comes through with a reissue. This is a compilation of various, otherwise unreleased Bill Fox tunes that I would guess are probably early '90s through early '00s, but I really have no idea. There's lots of great folk songs of the kind that Bill does so well, my favorites of which are "Standing On Nothing Now," "Greenlove," "On The Way," and especially "Chain To Your Heart." Also, a Peter Laughner cover ("Baudelaire") that I wouldn't have recognized if not for the lyrics (Bill does it his way, you see) and two traditional folk songs that, to be honest, are the weakest links here. Especially "Sal's Got A Meatskin." Of all the great unreleased Bill Fox songs, I'm not quite sure why that one made the cut. Anyway. The real big plus for me here is the inclusion of three tracks by The Radio Flyers, a group featuring Bill, Tom Fallon (New Salem Witch Hunters), Rick Brom (Revelers), and Dave Swanson (New Salem Witch Hunters). "I Only Did It Cuz I Felt So Lonely" is a great power pop tune (written by Wally Bryson–- doesn't get much more power pop than that) that is just such a great song I can't even find the words to talk about it. "Alienated" is another amazing tune, this one a Bill original. Somebody really, really should put out a record of all the Radio Flyers songs. I'd buy it. Their final appearance here is "Whenever I," which, believe it or not, is another absolutely killer tune. I mean, I like Bill Fox on his own quite a bit anyway, but the inclusion of these tracks really sold me. Quite a fine addition to your Bill Fox collection, or any collection of lo-fi folk really. Now I'm just waiting on that vinyl pressing of "Transit Byzantium…" 4.4/5

(eleventhhourrc.bandcamp.com)

Part-Time Lover - Animal, My Soul - self-released - 5 songs - Cassette, download

This is the second tape from Part-Time Lover, and I think they've got a 7" coming out eventually as well. "Here Comes The Worms" starts this out with what might be my favorite song of theirs yet. A droning guitar intro goes into an upbeat garage/psych tune with slower, psychedelic bridges in a few places. I think there are six people in this band these days, and you can hear it. They've got a real full sound. I also like when they really jam out on the coda, particularly the synth and guitars. Following that, they do "Love Has Taken Over My Brain," obviously a cover of the 1971 tune by Buster Jangle's Flying Mattress. I like it when bands choose weird or obscure things to cover, and it doesn't get much more obscure than a song from what, according to my extraordinarily quick Discogs check, was a promo-only 7". It's a good tune, and Part-Time Lover do it well here. I hate to say this because I've already proved myself to be uncool this week by mentioning My Chemical Romance in a review, but the opening of "It Stresses My Beast" really reminds me of "December" by Collective Soul. Fortunately, (as do The Cowboy with the reference I've foisted upon them) they do quite their own thing with it, and darned if this isn't also a really good song. Softer, not as garage rockin' as the first two, but definitely mining that same vein of music, if you know what I mean. Sunshine pop? I don't know. It's good though, melodic and I kinda wanna say Beatlesque. For "The Rhythm In Our Blood," they slow it down even further for a reallll psych groover. I like the harmony vocals between Jason Look and, I assume, Mandy Look (drummer Roseanna Safos is also credited as performing vocals on this tape, but this song sounds more like Mandy to me) and they go into a sorta-faster instrumental jam where the keys (played by newer member (or at least he wasn't on the last tape, I don't know how new he actually is) Aaron Terkel) really get a chance to shine. I was going to say that the little guitar riff in there reminds me of something, and then I realized that it reminds me of "Living In The Past," which is a different Part-Time Lover song. Oops! I'll say that "The Rhythm In Our Blood" is my least favorite here, but maybe I just wasn't in the zone. I really do like the fake-out ending on it though. "Monday Hill" closes out the tape, and I'll just come right out with the term Beatlesque for this one, especially with the acoustic guitar interlude after the first chorus. Speaking of "the zone," this one actually does get me in it. Good closing track for this whole thing. There's some folk, there's some garage, there's lots of psych. Not bad stuff, man. The more I listen to this tape, the more I like it. Oh, but I will say that they need to get a better graphic designer. This cover on this thing's printed real blurry. 4.2/5

(part-timelover.bandcamp.com)

Rubber Mate - Cha Boi - Total Punk Records - 2 songs - 7", download

I was curious as to how Rubber Mate would do given only two songs to work with, as their previous releases have been EPs. Don't know why I was thinking about this, but I thought you should all know. "Cha Boi" starts out with a slow intro then goes into a fast part. I think I mentioned last week that I like that kind of thing. It's Rubber Mate's typical very noisy hardcore punk stylings. Fear not, their jump to a major label doesn't mean that the sound quality improved, despite the fact that Paul Mac actually does know how to not make things sound like garbage. I guess that's just how they like it. More power to them. There's a guitar in there that sounds like a synth, which is enjoyable, and I like the lyrics more than I usually do. A good song, despite the dumb name. "Hogtied" on the flip side is less my thing, though I do like that it sounds like 4NR is trying to merge his standard Doc Dart impression with a southern accent. Decent enough, but "Cha Boi" is definitely the hit here. And hey, what are b-sides for anyway? I go back and forth on whether I like Rubber Mate or not (for reasons that I thought about getting into here but actually no one cares so I decided against it), but I think this one is good. They cut their own stamp for the cover as well, which is pretty cool. 3.7/5

(floridasdying.com for the 7", rubbermate.bandcamp.com to download)

Rubber Mate - Tour Tape MMXVII - self-released - 2 (3) songs - Cassette, download

I'm reviewing this along with the 7" because they're kinda companion pieces. This tape was made for Rubber Mate's spring tour with Atlanta hitmakers (and Total Punk label mates) Nag, a match made in…I don't know. Probably somewhere gross. The first track is "Hogtied." See above to hear my thoughts on that. Following that is "Gotta Get Off," a nice long one that I was told they closed with on tour. I can definitely see that. They grind that riff into your head so many times that it somehow becomes catchy while 4NR spews his normal spew, the only lyric of which I can make out is "gotta get off." Actually a pretty solid track. It's followed by "Gotta Get Off," the "noised out" version, which seems to be the same recording played slow, which takes Rubber Mate from sounding weird to sounding evil. Maybe not the first RM release you should listen to, but if you've been a fan thus far, "Gotta Get Off" is worth adding it to your collection. These were all done on thrift store tapes, and mine was supposed to return me to Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers but instead someone else had taped over that and it was some kind of eastern European music in a language that I do not know. 3.7/5

(rubbermate.bandcamp.com)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email vaguelythreatening@gmail.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 12:35 PM, 09.06.2017