issue 10  october/november 2001
page 9



Reviews of
(and other stuff encountered on the Reynols/American John(s) tour 2001)

When Matt St. Germain of the American John(s) introduced me to this record by playing the first couple tracks at the New Faggot Cunt house in Nashville, I asked him which one of the Pussies it was, Galore or Harry. I was leaning towards Galore but MSG informed me that it was in fact the Hair Police, a band of 20-year-old kids from Lexington, Kentucky that the John(s) were gonna play with that very night and the two after that. (We were on tour.) Indeed, less than two hours later I met them as we all loaded in for the show, and I watched 'em play three nights in a row before hearing the rest of the record.
       I didn't totally know what to make of their shows. I certainly enjoyed hanging out and drinking beer with 'em, but onstage their youthful compulsion to ROCK OUT ALL THE TIME frankly made me feel my age (10-11 years older than these whippersnappers). The lineup is mostly standard: a drummer, bassist, and two guitarists (sure, one of 'em's a toy guitar, but still), but the music was completely fucked up and almost entirely beatless spastic noise, kind of like rock but only because bassist/singer Mike struts around and kicks stuff off of the stage and the drummer sings while wearing sunglasses.
      Without this visual, who knows what the fuck you're hearing. I left my walkman recorder onstage during their Nashville show while I worked the merch table in the other room. I didn't see their set and barely heard it through the walls, but on tape the whole thing sounds like I recorded it on half-speed with low batteries. The funny thing is, I didn't. Over the next two nights they started to make a little more sense. I started to recognize when songs started and stopped, and by the last of the three shows I was joining the crowd in singing along. ("Shirts versus skins! Only one wins!")
      This CD-R is really just as noisy, but it works quicker for me because I can always hear when the songs start and stop, which they do often, with intent and focus. The opening song ("Superfly 'won't work'") is a much more cohesive riff than I ever heard from them live, and by the time it breaks down into the kind of bratty freakout I know them from, they've earned the right to do it. And they keep hittin' too -- the tracks speed by faster than I keep up with 'em, and by track 8 ("RUDON 1 KIBO") when they go into a fucked horn and percussion march, it's like it's back in 1993 and I'm listening to the Dog-Faced Hermans only now they've got some Dirty South funk to 'em. New elements keep sneaking in; later in the album, track 17 "A.S. Down 1 Pizza" actually features a jazzy recorder flute. Normally, I would take this as a sign that things were running a little long, but the next track, "Teen Age," is another great dirt-rock song with an actual drumbeat that breaks down into a ferocious abstract jam that sounds like it has The Beast People themselves guesting on vocals! And, you want electronica? Don't miss the 21st and final track, "Mommy's Little Jazz Angels," the finest piece of electronica I've heard in 6-8 months, I shit you not. It's so good, it ain't even electronica. It's electro.

Mike Connelly runs Gods of Tundra and plays bass in the Hair Police and records solo noise as Zombi. A guy who runs a label and plays in a noise-rock band and has a solo noise side project? Not the most original setup in the world, but Mike's a pretty suave MF so he can get away with that shit. Still, this tape of ongoing continuous abstract solo harsh noise wasn't what I wanted to hear on the drive home from a week-long noise tour. I mean, at home I listen to America and Bread, and I needed to get mellow again.
      But now that I've been home for awhile, and I've listened to all my America, Bread, AND Ambrosia LPs a few times, I get a hankering for a little noise again. In that mood, this cassette actually kicks it out pretty good. The first quarter or third is pretty much just over-amped room hum, complete with occasional nearly inaudible conversational patter. It's pretty normal squall, but a little ways in there's some nice stop-and-start strategies with a broken drum machine in the mix somewhere, and then it gets better still when he starts jamming on real instruments, probably with another person or two. It sounds like they're trying to play Harry Pussy songs from memory, which is actually a really great thing for a band to do.
       Even so, my favorite part of the cassette is the last third, in which Killa Mike fills out the side by recording tracks from one of his hip hop CDs right onto your tape. I mean, that's the thing about noise music: even when it's good, it always makes you wanna hear something else. Mike understands, and deejays the rest of your evening for you so you don't have to get up and go to the stereo after yet another truncated noise record.
      It's good hip-hop too -- The Roots? Something from the Wu Tang dynasty? A mix CD, like the Soundbombing series on Rawkus? "A future flavors exclusive..." says a sexy woman announcer, and then it cuts into a really hard funky guitar sample. "Hip hop motherfucker...I rap like a savage..." he says, and then he describes himself "sippin' ice-cold mamosas" and how "when I awake I can make a wish and from my rich servant some steak and fish." And whaddayaknow, all of side two is filled up with more hip hop! They keep talking about "future flavors" and "MCA"...They mentioned Rahzel, from the Roots...ah, so they're actually talking about MCA the big-time record company...okay, now someone's chanting "Pete Rock! Marley Marl! Pete Rock! Marley Marl!", probably Pete Rock and Marley Marl themselves, which is definitely who this record is by, and they're working with Rahzel from the Roots, Black Star (Mos Def and Talib Kweli), Common Sense, and probably some more names I didn't catch during the introductions. It took 'em a while to introduce themselves...with hip-hop, it usually doesn't take over half the album. As for Zombi, his opening act for Pete Rock and Marley Marl's Future Flavors was pretty exciting, but I can barely remember it.

OM MYTH, NONDOR NEVAI, FRED WARE III: Without the "C" - October 5, 1996 CD-R (GODS OF TUNDRA)
To Live and Shave in L.A. is, of course, one of the inventors of the kind of glam/noise/cock/surrealist/cut-up rock that the Gods of Tundra label aspires to, so it's only natural that Shave 'bandleader' Tom Smith/Om Myth would do something for the label.
    This 'found object' CD-R is a bit of a curveball, though the 12-minute spoken intro might be my single favorite Om Myth recording. It's Tom as giggly solitary intelligent raconteur, and I like the style with which he tells the story of what you're about to hear: a verite recording of he and two friends going to see Blue Öyster Cult, "22 years past their sell-by date," playing at a chili cook-off in a park outside of Atlanta in 1996. Om performs a bit of the B.Ö.C. classic "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll," and reminisces on the effect the band once had: "They were fucking great, those first three albums. I mean the whole [sings] 'three thousand guitars [laughs; quits singing] they seem to cry' shit was pretty goofy, but fuck it, man, it was B.Ö.C. That was radical shit. Not Alan Silva playing bamboo flutes with fuckin' Buckminster Fuller or something, but it's kinda close, you know?" Then, only a few seconds later, he fully admits to his own "excessive posturing." Later, while meticulously introducing Blue Oyster Cult's lineup that fateful night, he even goes into a sort of 'apathetic surfer dude' character: "Bloom...what the fuck's his first name...Eric Bloom...the singer dude...guitar dude...whatever." It's by turns casual, funny, enlightening, and discomforting, like a lot of conversations with interesting people are. Either way a fairly balls move on Om's part -- it's notable that the whole thing is performed in one take.
       Track two is almost as good, depicting the morning of the concert, starting with Om's "extremely poor" attempt to be "goofy on cue" at Nandor's "bidding," that is, Nandor turning on the tape recorder and sticking it in Om's face. Om's performance really is pathetic, unless you find lyrics like "Black metal is my mind/It's my shmind..." to be enlightening. Nandor proclaims "that's the worst shit you've ever recorded in your life," to which Om replies as if he was Pootie Tang in Russia: "It's the best shit, because it's fantashtisha. Nothing I do sucks." Om says he has to go out for a morning run so he can wake up, offers Nandor some coffee, makes fun of Lake of Dracula being recorded by Jim O'Rourke, and then, as introduced during track one, he attempts a "face-saving endeavor" for his earlier poor attempts at goofiness by recording some "on-the-fly tape manipulations" of his voice, presumably using the varispeed switch on his recorder. In the introduction, Om giggles as he says he'll "let history be the judge" on how successful his endeavor was, but I say they're as natural (PRE, right?) a hunk of musique concrete sound poetry as we've had in the last 50 years, no shit. A 'true' artist would've edited out the poor attempts at goofiness and left only the 'successful' moments. Om leaves 'em both in, side by side, and is a 'true' artist anyway.
       With track three and the (also described in the introduction) sounds of the recorder sliding against Om's "very expensive silk shirt" while opening act Randy Bachman emotes in the distance begins the cheese-metal bootleg piece de resistance. Here, the entertainment level of the disc drops considerably. Those hoping for a "MSTK3000 with Om and Nandor" type show will be disappointed, as their yakking is pretty much buried in the 'mix.' This is probably because the recorder remained in Om's pocket throughout, but I also think these guys are probably a little lower-key at public events than the 'legend' would have you believe. Even if the concert portion of the performance isn't as entertaining as the protagonists' witty commentary, it is still just as enlightening. What's being taught is that musical posturing is like food; over time, even the best of it can turn stale, if not completely rotten.
      On "The Drive Home" (fifth and last track) we get some music that isn't stale: an a capella version of B.Ö.C.'s "Workshop of the Telescopes," sung by Om in his quite singular 'free glam' voice. Lyrics like "By silverfish imperetrix, whose incorrupted eye / Sees through the charms of doctors and their wives / By salamander, drake, and the power that was ondine/ Rise to claim Saturn, ring and sky..." will always be fresh -- we just have to know where to buy our groceries.

NEW FAGGOT CUNTS: The Little Purse CD-R (self-released)
And speaking of drone-blues tenors, how about the drone-blues alto singing by Angela "Funky Cold" Messina on track five ("There, you're on the floor") of the self-titled CD-R by her band The New Faggot Cunts? Tenor, alto, either way it's some of that lost wordless blues, the good kind of lost, over the good kind of light-groove broken percussion. Mostwheres else on the disc (and live) the Newfangled Cunts (as they threaten to rename themselves) serve a much harsher cup of live-band noise-tea, lotsa hard metal drones and amplified furniture, which ace-in-the-hole drummer Chris Davis coheres into a particularly scathing and entertaining brand of jammed-out space-rock. It's all on here, though from evidence of recent live shows, I'd say they've gotten more ROCK than they were when this was recorded, which is a good thing too. To get one of these, or maybe something even newer, write halcyonbooks and ask for "The Cunts." Tell 'em Blastitude sent ya. I can't guarantee it'll still come in the cute little cloth pouch that mine did, but here's hopin'.

Transmitting what whatty? Actually this is some solo music by the guy who does the Outer Orbit label and plays in Cult of the Dead Wizard, one of Chattanooga (Tennessee)'s most important bands other than the Shaking Ray Levis and Shadow Builder. I haven't heard 'em yet myself, but I can guess they're pretty important, can't you? Besides, I've slept on Robbie's floor, and I know for a fact that he's at least got an important record collection.
      This tape ain't too damn bad either. It's pretty low-key and pretty much drony, but it's got a heavy slow pulse that'll sneak up on the inside of your head, not the outside. Very atmospheric, excellent room music. Like the Pimmon CD-R, this promises the bacchanalia of noise buried somewhere within but never resorts to pummel. Just slow heavy massage. Nice Jandekian cover image too.

More Lexington, KY stuff, I'm guessing...dare I say it...pre-Hair Police? Each side is a single live performance by the respective band. Hexose is a Mike Connelly band that offers more of that ole shoutin' adrenaline no-wave noise-rock blues I've come to associate with the Tundra camp. Much respect, but my apologies, I'm just a little old for that shit. Still, keep the tape on for ten minutes and what started as a set of songs somehow becomes an extended (like 10-minute) stomping chant-fest with screaming and general insane revelry that's fucking great. It's the groove that makes it, same reason I still dig the Godz better than Pussy Galore, and I'd rather listen to trance anything than power violence 4 times out of 5. That fifth time can really be a doozy, but the first couple songs on here aren't quite up to that level.
       But the midset! Very invigorating. And it just keeps going and going. I can't help but think this is what 'hippie' era Boredoms would sound like if they'd stop having Jimmy Iovine produce their albums. The crowd likes it too, and even chants "Hex-ose! Hex-ose! Hex-ose!" at the end because they "want more." They don't play an encore, but we do get the next fifteen minutes or so of post-set audience chatter. What sounds vaguely like grunge-rock is played over the P.A. while people hang out and flirt. After a while someone starts playing grunge-rock guitar live, probably 'soundchecking' for the next set. In my life, when it comes to listenable post-noise subgenres, recordings of audiences talking are right up there with recordings of shoutin' adrenaline no wave noise rock blues sets.
      The Shirt Co. is another Mike Connelly band, a duo with another Hexose guy, recorded live at the same venue (a venue with a great name, by the way: Yats, as in "live at Yats") like three months later. It instantly sets itself apart with a trippy slammin' drum machine beat. Not instantly different is non-stop guitar shriek, and more of those extremely distorted hollering vocals--them Tundra kids go for the jugular every time. The second track is pure churning noise, no drum machine, just noise, and much more vocal bellerin', now buried even deeper in the huge muck. It's kind of a huge jam, and coming where it does in the set (second, after a first piece that wasn't "just noise"), it's kind of startling. After this epic centerpiece, the set artfully becomes a triptych when The Shirt Co. go back to the drum machine and emerge into a more chilled-out bit of ominousness, a bad-android trip hop number that ends up being the last song. Pretty good set! (Though an audience member doesn't seem to agree, and lets them know as soon as they finish.) Contact for the Freesound label:

Reynols and American John(s) also played with two Cincinatti bands featuring one Spencer Yeh and compatriots: Death Beam, a gtr/elec/drm trio that kicks out excellent jams with occasional Russian vocals, and Burning Star Core, a violin/electronics/percussion trio that played one of the more elegant extended free-sounding compositions I've heard in a while. For some reason, I didn't get any Yeh-affiliated records, but I'm gonna. Heard the Death Beam CD-R on the drive home and it was as good as the live show. Here's links:, or

And, at Chicago's Empty Bottle nightclub, the Reynols & John(s) were joined by Panicsville, the harmolodic cock rock of No Doctors, and Michigan's mighty Wolf Eyes. I've heard the Eyes can be hit or miss live, but on the evidence of their show at the Bottle, they are the best live 'rock' band on the planet right now. The set started with some fire-drill drone that had me going "And...?" but very soon they answered that question by getting their groove on...slow cavernous dubbed-out broken beats, like hearing gabber techno in a really loud club only it's somehow playing at 6 RPM and every huge monster-beat sounds slower and more stretched-out than the last. In between these vast spaces comes echoing electro-crinkle, the hint of evil metal, and punk vocals. For one particularly slamming number, John Olson took off his Misfits shirt and just, like, rocked out. I did too. In retrospect, the fire-drill drone opening was right on -- for the whole rest of the set, they earned it. They're going to be on tour in November and December, perhaps even as you read this. Go to for dates. And while you're there, place an order for their LP Dread if you still can -- like Big Whiskey's Don Rettman said in the last ish, "It's a ripper."



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