I don't know about anybody else, but I still haven't adjusted to new releases being on Fridays. For a long, long period of my life, Tuesdays were just a little more exciting than other weekdays, because it was when new music came out. I miss that. I'm old. But I have music for you!
Craw, "Days in the Gutter/Nights in the Gutter"
Craw was an underground rock band from Cleveland playing music in the vein of bands like the Jesus Lizard, Bitch Magnet, etc. Note my delicate avoidance of the "post-hardcore" label! Note, also, that I still managed to get it in there. At any rate, despite being very plugged into that scene at the time, and even living not far away in Pittsburgh, I managed to completely miss them. However, thanks to a Kickstarter project, their three albums got reissued, and it's great stuff. It really was a pleasure discovering a new band from that scene and suddenly having three albums of material to listen to. There's a strong Steve Albini vibe to this track, which is OK by me!
The Minders, "Bicycle"
Elephant 6 is a label that was known for cranking out lightweight pop band after lightweight pop band. Lots of harmonies, lots of jangle, lots of hooks. At their worst, Elephant 6 bands were just slavish Beatles worship. At their best, they were still slavish Beatles worship, but executed well. That's probably unfair, actually. Sometimes, they slavishly worshiped the Kinks instead.
All of which is to say the Minders are an Elephant 6 band, which in this case, mostly means weightless, forgettable pop.
Shudder to Think, "Earthquakes Come Home"
Shudder to Think were a Dischord band that played music that straddled the line between punk and emo, with the most characteristic thing about them being Craig Wedren's sometimes very affected vocals. Shudder to Think is a band that will always have a special place for me, because Megan and I agree that a Shudder to Think concert was our first real date. Great show, by the way! At any rate, I think Shudder to Think are unfairly forgotten, along with a lot of the Dischord roster at the time, possibly due to the Fugazi worship that people (including me!) have.
Kanye West, "The New Workout Plan"
There's nothing I can really say about Kanye West that hasn't already been said a hundred times over. My opinion is pretty simple: he's done some great stuff, some so-so stuff, his releases almost always have something interesting going on, and I try and ignore his public persona as much as possible.
Office of Future Plans, "Fema Coffins"
Dischord Records, represent! I guess I was making an assumption about people knowing about Dischord, so I suppose I'll write a bit here. Dischord is the label started by Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson in Washington DC (harDCore!), and became one of the central labels of the US rock underground. They were particularly known for low prices, both for records and their shows, completely independent distribution, and the DIY ethos. We've already heard from several of their bands - Rites of Spring, Shudder to Think, and now Office of Future Plans. Dischord continues to this very day, still fiercely independent.
Office of Future Plans is one of the many bands from J. Robbins, who started as the leader of Jawbox, and was later in a bunch of other bands, including Burning Airlines, Channels, and others. Office of Future Plans is very well done, so if you like Robbins' other projects, you'll like this. If you're unfamiliar, Robbins has always played a more tuneful version of the kind of rock that populated the underground at the time. A little more melody, a little less noise, but still fitting in with the rest of his Dischord label mates.