My Hair Hurts (Livid Records)
Admittedly, this LP (vinyl-only) release came out late last year but I had been waiting to pair it up because it is a release by local label Livid Records. San Diego's Jon Cougar Concentration Camp (JCCC) has been sporadically around since the mid-90's and they stem from the Screeching Weasel, Queers, Mr. T Experience and Wynona Riders school of Ramones-influenced funny punk rock and roll that's heavy on nerdy wittiness and black leather jacket ethos.
It's also cool to note that the cover art is by our very own Cristy Road and that while this is the band's second round of covering an album song for song (1998's Ramones tribute Too Tough to Die), they at least had the decency to play a joke on the title. That's right; this is a remake of Screeching Weasel's 1991 My Brain Hurts album. I don't care what anybody says but "Cindy's on Methodone" has always been a funny track and I kinda like Chris Fields' nasalness on it. If you like the original, you'll like this.
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Ten Years Stuck in Traffic EP
This is another effort by a local label (Left Field) and out-of-town talent. In this five song EP we are treated to the troubadour guitar stylings of Scotland's Graham Marshall who is at times way too mild-mannered to imply that he's been stuck that long behind exhaust fumes. Oh well, he does have some honest sensibilities that shine through the opener "Makin' it on My Own" and the slightly more upbeat follower "Emotional Invincible." This flip-flopping of emotions must be a Scottish thing but Marshall has a nice voice on him that I'd hate to peg, but it does remind me of better male vocalists of the mid-90's alternative/college radio scene. The title track does offer some bleakness but as with the rest of the EP, there's something sincere and simple about his arrangements that are immediately infectious and welcome. Good stuff all around.