Don't You Know?: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 80

Disclaimer: Record reviews are a tricky business. It's one thing to enjoy music, but to pick out what you like (or dislike) 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. 

Ricky Hell - Blue Lips - Quality Time Records - 3 songs - download

I usually hate to review digital-only releases, because I kinda feel like it doesn't really count (I know this is not a particularly modern stance to take, but whatever), but I've made an exception here. Regular readers may note they haven't seen the name Ricky Hamilton in these pages in a while, while he used to be in here almost every issue. That's because earlier this year, Ricky took off for LA, and there's been little new stuff from him since. However, with very little fanfare (in fact, no fanfare, as far as I saw– not even an Instagram post from the guy), these three songs were put up on the Quality Time Bandcamp not too long ago. Avid readers of this column may recall that I've thought Ricky's solo work (including stuff as Ricky Hell) is somewhat hit-or-miss. I'm pleased to say that this solidly falls under "hit." The title track really brings out Ricky's '80s indie rock influence, in a very melodic, melancholy pop tune. "Nela Park" is a great Cleveland tune, and I like that it's solidly ambivalent, both in the lyrics and the context. It's neither entirely positive nor entirely negative about the city, and while Ricky sings, "Cleveland, the only city that I really love," you can't help but remember that he's no longer living here. Sorry to get all reviewer-creep on you, but I like that kind of thing. I think I'm also starting to understand Ricky talking about how he's influenced by Pulp, which I'm not sure I've ever quite gotten before. Closing out the EP here is "Finger On The Pulse," in which Ricky really brings in the Nick Lowe influence on that chorus, eh? First there was Carter Luckfield quoting Brinsley Schwarz, now there's this, next thing you know Shagg are gonna be covering Little Village. The EP merges what I think Ricky's been going for with some of the previous Ricky Hell/Voidboys releases that didn't really stick for me with the more glam/pop influence of the "Life By The Thorns" tape, which was more my cup of tea. Really, all three songs here are pretty essential in the Ricky Hamilton catalog. If someone ever makes some kind of greatest hits/anthology type thing that includes all of his many projects, I'd say that all three songs here are worthy of inclusion. What's the deal with the release, though? The art (by Noah Depew) looks like it's laid out for a cassette, and yet I've heard no word of a cassette in the works. But then I didn't even hear about this being released in any form at all, so what do I know? It really ought to come out on a physical format of some kind, it's worthy of that. I need a copy when it does, please. 4/5


Straight A's - Demo - Saucepan Records - 5 songs - cassette, download

Five tracks of hardcore punk music. That could really be the whole review. Decent enough stuff, competently executed. I'm not entirely sure of the lineup of this band except I'm pretty sure it's Richard Saucepan on drums. I'm prepared to be wrong. I also was thinking that I remember seeing something suggesting George Chupek (Splat / Bad Noids) was in here, and then the guitar lead in "Good Days" came in and pretty much confirmed it. If that isn't George, it's someone who plays exactly like him. I can't really get into the vocals much on here. Definitely not my preferred style. Forgive me if this seems rather harsh, but this is a perfectly average hardcore tape. If you like hardcore, you might as well check it out. If you don't, well, it's not for you. 3/5

( to download, for the tape)

Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email 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 14, Issue 20, Posted 2:25 PM, 10.16.2018