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Last Active 09-13-19 8:56 pm
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03.22.19 R. Stevie Moore Discography Run12.11.18 Pie Charts 2018
11.04.18 Let Me Rec You Something III | The Bad 05.14.18 Glenn Branca Discography Run
04.23.18 Sandwich Goes Into Debt | K Records Gra01.25.18 The Fall Discography Run
11.04.17 Let Me Rec You Something II | The Rec-o09.26.17 Sonic Youth Discography Run
03.02.17 Albums With Fewer Than 15 Ratings II | 11.04.16 Let Me Rec You Something
11.01.16 Top 10 | Bull of Heaven's Numerical Alb10.26.16 Albums With Fewer Than 15 Ratings
10.06.16 Let's Draw!

Sandwich Goes Into Debt | K Records Grab Bag

So instead of heading out for Record Store Day, I purchased a metric ton of CDs from K Records. On their Mail Order site, they're selling mystery boxes of either CDs, LPs, or Cassettes. Since I don't own a record player and the only tape deck I have is in my car, I opted for CDs (https://shop.krecs.com/products/cd-grab-bag). List is in order of catalog number.
1Mecca Normal
Dovetail


Indie Rock | June 1992 | KLP 014 | 3.8

As the earliest K Records CD I got in this Grab Bag, Dovetail definitely sets the bar high right from the very start. Some of the freshest indie rock you'll find with some great vocals by Jean Smith. With the swaths of people clamoring over the female-led bands of today, I can't for the life of me understand why something like this wouldn't be herald as a "defining disc" or whatever. The bottom line is this: Dovetail is a great set of early-90s indie rock tunes.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
2Some Velvet Sidewalk
I Scream EP


Indie Rock | 1993 | KLP 019 | 1.8

I'm already slightly familiar with Some Velvet Sidewalk after checking their first full length, so I thought I had some idea of what to expect going into this EP. But boy, this is some crap. It reeks of awkward 90s cheese. Sure you have "Ice Cream Overdrive," which is a pretty good track, but its all downhill from there. 2 remixes on this thing, both terrible on every conceivable level. Such a shame, cause if it were just the first 3 tracks, this would be fine. But as is, I'd pass.

Worth the Price of Admission? No!
3Fitz of Depression
Let's Give It a Twist


Punk | 1994 | KLP 031 | 3.2

Well here's something a bit different. K Records isn't really known for it's large selection of straight punk, so I was definitely interested in this when I saw it in my Grab Bag. This brought back a lot of memories of my old cassette punk days, which is always a plus. But this era of the genre wasn't the most memorable in my recollection. It all kind of blended together, and that's definitely the case with Fitz of Depression. They play to that one sound that 1000s of other bands were doing at the same time, but that shouldn't be a slight against them. No, Let's Give It a Twist is an enjoyable slice of 90s punk and I'd recommend it to the aging 30-going-on-40 punks out there.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
4The Crabs
Brainwashed


Indie Rock/Pop | July 1996 | KLP 056 | 3.5

Jonn Lunsford and Lisa Jackson play that hooky indie rock that seemed to swallow the underground whole around the time this was released. How this translates years later probably would benefit a listen from someone who wasn't around for this boom, but of course I really enjoyed this. I'm a sucker, what can I say? Short tunes, duo vocals, crunchy guitar, nonsense lyrics: it's all here. The thing about albums like this (at least for me), it that you tend to get sucked into the vibe as it goes on. Almost like it's all one big set at a live show. And all that's to the album's favor. Check this one out for a throwback that won't leave you disappointed.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
5Dub Narcotic Sound System
Bone Dry


Alternative | 1996 | KLP 068 | 2.5

Dub Narcotic Sound System is another Calvin Johnson-led project that I've yet to be really impressed by. To be fair, I've only heard a couple of tunes by the group, but that's sort of the issue I've had with Dub Narcotic from the beginning: I just never found them very interesting. Could be because I was never that into funk and Dub Narcotic Sound System is 200% funkalicious. On Bone Dry, they definitely hit the marks you'd expect in a funk EP. But again, I find myself not a big fan. There's a few good moments scattered across, but overall I can't say I'm too impressed.

Worth the Price of Admission? Nah.
6Dub Narcotic Sound System/Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Sideways Soul


Blues | September 1999 | KLP 103 | 3.1

(Editor's Note: The formal name of this collaboration is "Dub Narcotic Sound System Meets the John Spencer Blues Explosion in a Dancehall Style", but I felt that was a bit too much for sputnik to handle.)

Sideways Soul is stupid. Really, really, really, really stupid. A collaboration between Dub Narcotic Sound System and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is a stupid idea and it's stupid in practice.

But it's fun stupid, I will admit that.

Hear these two indie rock mini-celebrities yell stupidly over stupid guitars and stupid drums. There are two songs with the word "banana" in the title. If you want an entire album of Beck outtakes mixed by an insane person, here you go.

Worth the Price of Admission? If only for the spectacle: Yes!
7Chicks on Speed
The Un-Releases


Indietronica | March 2000 | KLP 120 | 2.6

(Editor's Note: The issue I'll be talking about here is the re-issue.)

At a whopping 33 tracks, The Un-Releases is a tall order. But seeing as how I was a big fan of Lolita Storm, an electroclash band very similar to Chicks on Speed, I was actually a bit optimistic for this compilation of unreleased tracks. But I guess I should've been a bit more discerning, because that's pretty much what this sounds like: unreleased tracks. There are some funky little experiments on this, but nowhere near enough to justify 33 tracks. If this was distilled into a dozen or so tracks, this might actually be worth its salt as a full-length LP. But that's but a dream.

Worth the Price of Admission? Nah.
8Modest Mouse
Sad Sappy Sucker


Lo-Fi | April 2001 | KLP 131 | 3.7

You know I was happy when I saw this show up in my Grab Bag. Recorded in 1994-95, Sad Sappy Sucker was originally slated to be the band's debut, but it was shelved until 2001. What we have is a more conventional lo-fi indie rock sound than what Brock and co. would go on to be known for. But don't let that be a dissuasion. If you're at all interested in the history of the band, this is essential listening (along with Modest Mouse's other early 90s releases).

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
9Jason Anderson / Wolf Colonel
Something/Everything!


Lo-Fi Pop | August 2002 | KLP 132 | 2.8

I had no idea what I was going to get popping Something/Everything! into my disc tray. Honestly, the vibe I got from Anderson is that he had a lot of ideas for what he wanted to put in this record and just threw what he thought were the most interesting into an album. I can respect that in some manner, but boy does it come off as a bit haphazard. There's a few good tunes here and a few hummable hooks there. But as for if I'd recommend it? Probably not.

Worth the Price of Admission? Eh.
10The Blow
Poor Aim: Love Songs and Remixes


Indietronica | April 2007 | KLP 167 | 2.5

(Editor's Note: The issue I'll be talking about here is the re-issue with remixes. Yay...)

The first 7 tracks make up the original EP, a pretty good ape of pop music layered with that definitive Olympia flavor. I have actually heard a song off this EP ("The Sky Opened Wide Like the Tide" specifically) so I didn't go into this too blind. On the EP side, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It's pretty much the Postal Service, so exactly what every indie artist sounded like in 2004. You could do a whole lot worse.

There's an easy joke about how the remixes "blow," but I'll try and refrain. But it's not like they're restoring the Ecce homo here. The Lucky Dragons remix of "The Sky Opened Wide Like the Tide" is actually pretty good, everything else ranges from pointless to awful.

Worth the Price of Admission? For this re-issue: Nah.
11Calvin Johnson
Before The Dream Faded...


Calvin Johnson | October 2005 | KLP 170 | 3.6

Good album cover.

Calvin Johnson is the head of K records and in so many great bands that'd it'd be a waste to try to list them all. This here is one of the few times he released an album under his own name. Before The Dream Faded... is sort of what I would've expected from Johnson this deep into his career, but what I didn't expect was how much I enjoyed it. Music-wise, it's mainly comprised of slow sing-speech over a sloppy guitar. I'm not sure how others may fare with this, but I had a big, dumb smile on my face listening to this. It's like a clearer-spoken Tom Waits record, if that makes sense. The last three tracks are essential listening. A nice surprise from an indie hero.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
12Old Time Relijun
2012


Experimental Rock | September 2005 | KLP 171 | 3.8

As a very new fan of Old Time Relijun, I've gone through a few of the band's early releases as well as the work of one of it's members (Arrington de Dionyso). So it's no surprise that I was excited when I saw 2012 in my Grab Bag, as it's one of the album's I haven't heard from them. I popped it in and it did not disappoint. While a bit more reserved than the group's early work, 2012 still gives listeners enough deliciously weird goodness to make you jump out of your seat. It's hard to describe what makes Old Time Relijun work, so I'll leave that assignment for you. Just know that fans of experimental rock should be on the lookout for this one.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
13Woelv
Tout Seul Dans La Foret En Plein Jour...


Indie Folk | September 2007 | KLP 172 | 3.8

Woelv is the pseudonym of Geneviève Castrée, a Canadian folk musician and late wife to Phil Elverum. Tout seul dans la forêt en plein jour, avez-vous peur? is an excellent folk record with beautiful vocals, guitar, and a wonderful sense of atmosphere. While I'm not fluent in French, the lyrics are translated in several languages and reference death and rape among other things. It's definitely one that you have to check from start to finish, but it's more than worth it to get the full experience.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
14The Pine Hill Haints
Ghost Dance


Alt-Country | November 2007 | KLP 186 | 2.9

As a first impression, Ghost Dance says a mouthful about the still-active Pine Hill Haints. This Alabama-native group oozes country flair right from the very start and runs with it for 20 short-form tracks. How you stomach this depends on how much you enjoy mid-2000s "folk-punk" or whatever we're calling it this week. As for me, I found it enjoyable, if not a bit overdone. But is that fair to the Pine Hill Haints? No, it's not. I'll totally admit that. So many bands have done this shtick since this album was put to record, that it almost seems quaint here. Even though it didn't excite me as much as I'd hope, there are some good songs here and there to recommend. I'll give it a pass, but not something I'd come back to often.

Worth the Price of Admission? Eh.
15Arrington de Dionyso
I See Beyond The Black Sun


Throat Singing | December 2008 | KLP 200 | 4.1

Arrington de Dionyso (member of Old Time Relijun) appears quite a bit on this list, and all I can say is "thank you K records Grab Bag packager." From the ridiculous throat singing on the opening track, I knew I See Beyond The Black Sun was going to be my thing. It's just a fact of life at that point. And yeah, I loved this. I've heard a fair bit of Arrington de Dionyso's solo works and side projects, but this is on another level. K catalog number 200 doesn't play around. "Aion (Intuition and Science)" and "Pluto in Capricorn (I See Beyond the Black Sun)" are the obvious highlights here, but the whole album is worth the listen.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
16Desolation Wilderness
New Universe


Dream Pop | August 2009 | KLP 204 | 2.4

Perhaps I need to be on the beach to fully enjoy this, but listening to Desolation Wilderness' New Universe in my air-conditioned house in my underoos doesn't really do it any favors. This one reminds me a lot of the weaker output of Beach House, another dream pop band from around this timeframe. Just drowsy, slow songs that are made for falling asleep beneath the sun and mentally preparing for the impending sunburn upon waking up. Nothing painfully bad on here, but with albums as limp as this one is, it's not an engaging listen. At least if there was something painful on this, it'd wake me up before I accidentally inhale a cigarette butt someone littered on the beach.

Worth the Price of Admission? Nah.
17Karl Blau
Zebra


Lo-Fi | October 2009 | KLP 205 | 3.2

I'm already familiar with the work of Karl Blau, aka "The 3.5 Wonder," so I suppose this should be considered a long overdue relisten. There's a lot of dirty synths, mumbling directly into the mic, and a very laid-back atmosphere on Zebra. Even though I've never been the biggest fan of Blau, I still find myself enjoying Zebra at times. Pop this in during an afternoon drive in the summer and I could see it becoming the soundtrack to some great road listening. Probably should listen to this without anyone else in the car though, unless dirty looks and awkward silence are your thing. "Turn that shit off!" Oh, fine. No need to be rude.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
18Tara Jane O'Neil
A Ways Away


Indie Folk | May 2009 | KLP 207 | 3.7

Tara Jane O'Neil has been a member of a great deal of bands I've never heard of, with a catalog spanning several decades of work. And this is the first time I've heard of her or her work. Real shame, because if A Ways Away is any indication, I've been missing out. I can't say for sure what separates this from other albums like it on this list. Perhaps it's the blend of tried and true indie folk with sprinkles of somber post-rock mood lighting, or perhaps it's her wonderfully dream-like vocals. Whatever it is, I'm all for it.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
19Hornet Leg
Ribbon of Fear


Garage Rock | September 2009 | KLP 209 | 2.9

Another band I had no idea about, Ribbon of Fear sounds like it was plucked right out of the early-80s underground, or the mid-1960s if you really strain yourself. And with a sound that's been done to death like garage rock, you have to try your very hardest to distance yourself from the pack. Hornet Leg doesn't do this, leading to a very same-y sounding record with only a few highlights that glue it together. While nothing here is unlistenable, or even below-par, there's some truth to the saying that something unmemorable sometimes ends up being worse than something outright terrible.

Worth the Price of Admission? Eh.
20Kendl Winter
Apple Core


Alt-Country | July 2011 | KLP 224 | 3.2

All right, I suppose the jig is up: I'm not the biggest fan of country music. Not a vehement hater of the genre or anything, like those "everything except rap and country" dullards. Just never found myself drawn to it. So I suppose I'm not the best to talk about Kendl Winter here. But much to my surprise, Apple Core grew on me as it went along. It's on the higher side of a 3.0, so it's not damning praise or anything. It's just a nice album with some good tunes. I can respect that.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
21City Center
Redeemer


Psychedelic Pop | April 2011 | KLP 231 | 3.8

2011's Redeemer is the last album City Center put out as of this writing and I find myself being upset by this. While nothing that's going to blow you away, Redeemer packs a whole lot of punchy hooks and noisy soundscapes. "Thaw" is one impressively catchy number, and one that I can see getting stuck in my head for days (THE ONE TO, THE ONE TO, THE ONE TO). There are other great moments like this sprinkled about Redeemer that make it stand out a lot more than one would think on first glance. Definitely looking forward to repeat listens of this one, if I can get manage to get some of these songs out of my head first.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
22Chain And The Gang
In Cool Blood


Garage Rock | June 2012 | KLP 240 | 2.9

Retro-rockers Chain and the Gang don't earn many originality points on In Cool Blood, but they make up for it in the style department. What you'll find here is some rough garage tunes played without much forethought. I will give them credit: they do ape this style well. It's enjoyable, but once you've heard one throwback album, you've heard them all. The phrase "unearned swagger" comes to mind, where a band tries to emulate bands that have more clout but try to play it off cool. And anyone who's anyone knows that acting cool is certifiably uncool. This is doing that in a self-aware way I guess, but it's borderline.

Worth the Price of Admission? Eh.
23Neo Boys
Sooner or Later


Punk | November 2013 | KLP 242 | 4.7

Neo Boys are considered one of Portland's first all-female punk bands, so it was about time they got a compilation of their work.The first disc is 1978-1980 and features some great examples of early lo-fi punk. The second disc is 1981-1983 and sees the band adding a more new wave sound to their punky nature. Spanning 6 years of material over 45 tracks, Sooner or Later is definitely the longest album on this list. But I'd be damned if I said I didn't enjoy every second of it. Now keep in mind that this is meant to chronicle a band through all of its stages. So if early demos and live shows turn you off, I can't say you'll find this to be worth your time. If that isn't an issue for you, I can't endorse this enough.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
24Arrington de Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa
Open the Crown


Free Jazz | April 2013 | KLP 244 | 4.6

It might not be incredibly fair to say this, but the 2010s haven't produced many "classics" to me. I'm sure as the years go on, albums will grow on me and new albums will crop up to take my breath away, but it's a slow process. That said, Arrington de Dionyso has become a contender for my favorite artist of the decade with his wonderfully strange records and Open the Crown might be my favorite of the albums I've heard from him and his ever-changing group of collaborators. A blend of free jazz, noise rock, and punk, Open the Crown is a good time. Until I have time to hear Arrington's (admittedly large) discography, I'll just have to imagine that they're all as good as this one. And that's exciting.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
25Jeremy Jay
Abandoned Apartments


Synthpop | January 2014 | KLP 247 | 1.9

As one of the more "established" artists on this list (I don't really know what that means, but we'll just go with it), I think there might have been a bit more pressure put on Mr. Jay here. But man, this was a huge disappointment. As someone who has enjoyed his work in the past, this was a bit of a chore. There's one or two mediocre songs on here, but that's only because they look good when put against the rest of the "songs" on this album; I say "songs", but they're more like unfinished synth solos. Not a decent tune to be found. Except "Graveyard Shift," that song's okay. Rest can get carried off by the wind for all I care.

Worth the Price of Admission? No!
26The Hive Dwellers
Moanin'


Indie Pop | April 2014 | KLP 249 | 3.2

The Hive Dwellers are a group comprised of Calvin Johnson, Evan Hashi, and Gabriel Will. They play like a sort-of bar band version of Beat Happening, or at least that's the only way I can describe it. On one hand, I kind of like the sound they have going on here. It's a very relaxed vibe and Calvin's vocals fit really well. On the other hand, it isn't really the most enthralling listen. There are a few points on here that bring that mellowness to unhealthy extremes, almost like the album itself is about to go into a coma. But those are readily balanced out by some pretty fun, tambourine-filled tunes that are sure to get your feet tapping. Not something I would have sought out if it weren't for this Grab Bag, so it's a welcomed surprise.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
27Ruby Fray
Grackle


Psychedelic Pop | September 2014 | KLP 251 | 3.3

I didn't really know what to expect when I hit 'play' on Ruby Fray's Grackle. She hasn't exactly put out a lot of material, with this only being her 2nd album. What I got was an incredibly well-done indie pop album with a folk-y edge to it. The description given is "psychedelic witch wave," and I think that describes it well enough. The thing is, I feel like there isn't very much to talk about with this one. I dig it immensely, but other than that, there's not too much to this one. What I can say is that it does what it does pretty damn well: which make some good tunes and provide some great vocals. Nothing to go out of your way for, but worth a listen if you just happen to find it.

Worth the Price of Admission? Yes!
28Thee Xntrx
All Your Friend's Friends


Hip-Hop | November 2014 | KLP 255 | 2.0

All Your Friend's Friends is a hip-hop compilation released by K Records that chronicles hip-hop from the Northwest area. Suffice it to say, this is definitely the strangest release that came with my Grab Bag. But hey, I'm equal-opportunity. Rap isn't out of K's realm, so I gave this a fair shake. I will say that some of the sampling work on this is really good. But, and I'm not trying to disrespect the "oldheads" (or whatever people call old rappers these days) that appear on here, this compilation doesn't really get me excited for the Northwest hip-hop scene like a compilation should. Maybe because most of the songs are by members from the same rap collective (Oldominion), so all of the songs sound similar. The best talent on here has to be MG! The Visionary, but other than him this really doesn't impress.

Worth the Price of Admission? No!
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