Dollar 7-inch therapy.

Sorry it's been a few days since I posted--this whole writing every day thing is harder than I'd like it to be. I'm always having tons of trouble with motivation, and then sometimes even when I can make myself write, I hate what I'm writing. That happened earlier tonight; I was halfway through writing a post and I suddenly looked up and thought, "This is a bunch of bullshit." I saved it as a draft, but that's probably where it'll stay, because I can't see how to rewrite it at all. My impression of it right now is that it's wall-to-wall bullshit. Maybe I'll see it differently in a few days, if I even bother to go back and look at it at all. We'll see, I guess.

Anyway, I was 20 minutes away from being off of work when I had that realization. It totally ruined my mood, which I don't think was doing that great as it was. I was supposed to go to a show after work, but I suddenly couldn't see doing it at all. Instead, after closing up the store and buying a sub for dinner, I walked a block down the street to the hip independent record store. My friend Kyle has this thing he does sometimes, when he's sitting around the house with nothing to do. To keep himself occupied he goes up to this same record store, goes through the bins of used 7 inch EPs, and buys the cheapest one that strikes his fancy. He usually only spends a dollar, but it'll take him upwards of an hour to go through the bins, and that's something he enjoys doing, so it does what he needs it to do--cures boredom. Tonight I decided to try that myself, though I was more trying to cure a crappy bad mood and a sudden bout of anti-social tendencies than anything else.

It was 8 PM by the time I got in there, only an hour before they closed. I was almost the only one down in the used vinyl room (which is in the basement), and I didn't want to keep the guy working down there any later than he had to be, so I only went through a small section of the used 7 inches before making a bunch of selections, which I proceeded to listen to on the headphone-equipped turntable provided for that use. The Rein Sanction Sub Pop single was good, but nothing outstanding, and honestly not as good as the album ("Broc's Cabin") that I own by them. I only listened to the Pony Up! side of their split with Ben Lee that I found, mainly because I've long been curious about what they sounded like. I get the idea from the song I heard that Pony Up, an all-female 5 piece, are good with pop melodies in the same way that Heavenly and some of the other early 90s K Records twee-pop bands were. However, the song on the single was a novelty, with joking lyrics and the band vamping behind two girls talking for most of it. I did pick up two singles though, for a total expenditure of $4.

The first one I grabbed was by the short-lived Goodbye Blue Monday. They were part of the slightly more melodic/rock-oriented second wave of mid-90s emocore, and featured one of the guitarists from Frail. I already have a split EP that they released with a band called Across Five Aprils--bought it back when they were still together, in fact. I'd heard at the time that they also had a solo EP, but I'd never seen a copy before tonight. The second song from their split with Across Five Aprils has long been a favorite of mine; it's an upbeat, rocking slice of emocore driven by a funky, rolling bassline. This EP is a good bit more melodic and less 'core, straying closer to indie-rock than the songs on the split EP ever did. I don't know if I'd have liked it as much back then, but now I find myself liking it even better. "7600" is slow and quiet at first, but when it builds up to the chorus, it hits that same note of angst-ridden mournful longing that was present in the best Still Life songs. Goodbye Blue Monday's singer can hit notes with far more precision than Still Life's vocalists ever could, though, and it's almost reminiscent of Mineral's earlier work because of that. "Endless Waiting Route" is more uptempo, but still only attains a medium pace, and probably could have been a bit longer. As it is, it leaves the listener wanting more. "Chicago Coin" comes closest to the loping basslines of the songs from the Across Five Aprils split, but still features more melodic vocals than those did, at least until the last verse, when singer Brian Hutchison kicks things into overdrive for a powerful climax. "Summer Nights" begins much the same as the other songs, but soon the rhythm section drops out for a short section of unaccompanied vocals and guitar before kicking back in. The entire record hangs together well, and while none of the songs stand out as head and shoulders above the rest, all are quite good. Certainly worth a dollar.

The other record I got was a newer single that I didn't know existed by Cleveland Bound Death Sentence, one of many bands over the years to feature zine legend Aaron Cometbus playing drums and writing lyrics. These bands all play a similar variety of late 80s vintage pop-punk, long before said genre contained any trace of emo. Aaron's projects often stand or fall based on the people he enlists to play with him, and since Cleveland Bound Death Sentence features Patrick of Dillinger Four on bass and vocals, it stands at or near the top of the heap where Cometbus-related bands are concerned. This record is far more punk than pop, with faster tempos and less melodic flourishes than I'm used to from Aaron. In fact, it's considerably less poppy than the last CBDS EP I heard, which may be because that record came out at least five years before this one, or may be due to the fact that founding CBDS guitarist Spitball is absent on this record, due to current incarceration in the federal prison system. He's replaced by Buddha, who may or may not be the same Buddha who played in the early 90s Florida punk band Chickenhead.

I'm actually kind of surprised at how much I like this record. It's been years since I've had any real tolerance for pop-punk, especially the sort that boils everything down to simple power chords and elementary melodic hooks. I don't usually like fast, non-poppy punk rock, either, so the fact that this record is almost as close to that style of music as to standard pop-punk doesn't explain it either. Whatever, the fact is that I do like it, and that's good enough for me. Patrick and Emily's harmonizing vocals, which I hesitate to call singing or yelling (it's somewhere inbetween), sound rough and clean over the speedy, fill-heavy drumming and loud guitars. The whole thing is over in blink-you-miss-it time--maybe 5 minutes total. There's a pattern between each two-track side; first song is faster and more punky, second song has more melody to it and goes on slightly longer. The back cover lists the songs in the wrong order, by the way--for some reason it lists the first song on side one as being followed by the second song on side two, and vice versa. What's it matter, though? They're all good, and you're probably gonna play the whole thing through half a dozen times before you get tired of it. For the record, though, "Somedays When" is my favorite song on here, at least so far.

Hey, what do you know? Not only did I get a couple of good records for a small amount of money, not only did I make myself feel better about my writer's block, I even managed to write something that I don't hate! That's what I call a successful evening. I'm gonna go find my friends.


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