Godzilla [2014] (7/10)

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Well, like everyone else who saw this movie, I think the first quarter is very good, mostly because Brian Cranston’s character is actually interesting. The rest of the film is by-the-numbers summer faire. The characters are merely signposts to get us from one plot point/set piece to the next. The monster battles are very well done so I guess characters and solid plotting don’t really matter. Just sit back and watch the cool battles and be nauseated by the 3-D crap.

Tube City! The Best of the Trashmen! by Trashmen, The - CD (9/10)

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The Trashmen were a standout band from the surf era known mostly for their hit, “Surfin’ Bird.” That single captures much of the appeal of the band. They are at their best when they are going crazy and having goofy fun. They will often fall back into covering rock standards like “It’s So Easy” and the result is never as good when they’re doing their own crazy thing. Fortunately, they maintain a high level of stupidity through most of this disc. Oh, and the liner notes are fantastic.

Ten Years of Toys by Toy Dolls - CD (9/10)

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I got this back when it came out and it was about the only way to get Toy Dolls on CD here in the States (I only had the first LP on vinyl at the time). I absolutely loved it at the time. Now, more than 20 years later, I still like the compilation but I can hear its flaws.

First and foremost these are not the original versions of the songs (in the case of songs from the Idle Gossip, it’s an improvement over that LP’s terrible production). I imagine this was just a way for the new record label to cash in on the band’s early hits without securing the rights to the original recordings (The tracks from Bare Faced Cheek are all the LP versions). For the most part, Toy Dolls are a consistent and professional band so new renditions aren’t going to differ much from the originals. However, listen closely… they are using a drum machine on 90% of the tracks! When I finally noticed this it almost killed this record for me. The drums are just so perfect and sterile sounding, especially when compared to skilled playing on their later records.

That said, it took me a decade to realize that those weren’t real drums. So, if you just want a good overview of some of the band’s finest songs this is a nice place to start.

Orcastrated by Toy Dolls - CD (6/10)

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What’s with the “Z” in Toy Dollz? That was the first sign that this might be a questionable release. In fact I think this was their weakest record. The sound is tinny and the songs just didn’t hook me. There are parts that are okay such as the chorus from “I Loathe You” or the Andrew LLoyd Webber cover, but nothing really jumps out as being great. After this came out I stopped buying Toy Dolls records. They have had a few good songs since then, but that’s what Spotify is for.

Absurd-Ditties by Toy Dolls - CD (9/10)

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After a string of just okay records, The Toy Dolls finally released an LP that almost stands up to their first recordings. I guess I like the raw, punk aesthetics of the first three records, but I have to admit that, despite the heavy metal-esque shredding solos, this record sounds great. The song highlights on this one are “My Wife’s a Psychopath,” “Toccata in Dm,” “Sod the Neighbours” and “Alec’s Gone.”