# 15    SUMMER OF 2003



by Tony Rettman


Unlike many others of the human race, I don't see much greatness in summertime. When I was a wide eyed, innocent tyke, my father took me to the beach one early, early morn. As we walked further and further down the slope of that hot pain-in-the-ass sand, my eyes caught sight of the hypnotic rippling of the shore. As my pops took my hand and led me down the way, I couldn't get my peepers off the tide going in and out. It seemed to calm me, make me feel at one
with all around me. As I got closer and my eyes more clearer, I noticed something real weird-like caught in the waves' dance. Just then, the item in question rode itself off the tide and washed up near me. A foot long turd laid not three feet from me. I didn't scream or make note of it to my dad. I simply walked away from the water and that's where my love affair with the sea ended. When you bring up the glory of the shore, I just think back to that peanut-encrusted loaf and run back to the sancutary of my apartment. 'In that air-conditioned craphole there lies beer and records and I'm sure I'll
never wake up to find a turd in my bed. At least, I hope I never
do . . . Anyways . . . All the below mentioned stuff has made this gross ass humid as hell season pass by a little quieter and quicker, so give 'em your time, will ya???

If memory serves you right, you might recall a rather spiteful review I did a year ago for the debut LP by The Suntanama. I wrote something about how if a great straight up Rock record goes past the radar of the Blastitude readership in this age of wrestling masks and Neo No Wave, then I give up. As I watched ignorant review after ignorant review pile up on the record, I really contemplated retiring from the concept of hope all together. Just when the proverbial neck was in the noose, The Suntanama's highly unapologetic and appropriately titled second full lengther Another came through to raise both my spirits and roof. The record steps down further into the murky tar of late night grooving while obscuring and mixing the influences even more to keep the Mad Lib happy critics on their toes. (But don't worry, I'm sure we'll see at least one review mention CCR.) A deeper, grittier production this time 'round provides the proper spotlight for all involved. Tight, chooglin' rhythms with John Allen's simple, effective leads almost dancing around Keith Connolly's knee-buckling, load-bearing guitar style. Although everyone comes out a winner here (here...have a trophy) I gotta say Catfish's voice and wordage have progressed in a big way. His voice creates something outta everything, and volleys around grunts, whispers and aches with little effort. The words on tracks like 'Missolit' and 'Roughcommon' are the anthems I've been waiting for my whole, crappy adult life...no doubt about it. If you've got shelves full of early 70s Englanders pretending to chew on dung (and Americans for that matter), then this will obviously ring your bell. If you don't fall into that club, still give it a try and learn to love the fact that whiskey is the new ginseng. www.dragcity.com

And since we're in the neighborhood, let's talk about some recent No Neck Blues Band crap...like the 'Intonomancy' CD recently released on their own Sound @ One imprint. Like 2001's 'Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Names Will Never Hurt Me' CD, this batch of jams was recorded in a proper studio, and it might take some time to get used to the streak-free recording. Once you work yourself over this useless hump, you'll come to the conclusion that the band's natural intimacy is still there and the stunning capture of sound fits their development like a red rubber glove. The general gist of the disc is the sound of bygone English freak units like The Third Ear Band or Hapsash and The Coloured Coat funneled through the eyes and ears of American paranoia. For those who like their NNCK raw and dirty, I will point you towards the ridiculously packaged 'Ever Borneo!' set on the Seres label. Apparently the contents of this LP and single spans the past five years of NNCK's activity and plays to me like a greatest hits of jams I've never heard. The way the tracks are presented forces sequential thinking as far as the group's progression is concerned and the moments where the pyramids of 'improvisation' and 'jamming' meet and dissolve are plenty. Parts of this sound like what the meeting between Sun Ra and The Blues Project SHOULD OF sounded like and some of it sounds like butt nekkid mud caked hippies searching for Glastonbury Tor. Both Dickie Treece and Brother Ah would be proud to claim these guys as their spiritual sons...and why the fuck shouldn't they??? Both of these things should be available at www.forcedexposure.com.

Enos Slaughter have a NNCK member in 'em, so let's throw them in here. The fledgling Philadelphia label Tequila Sunrise has released a limited CDR of a performance E.S. did last fall outside of The Philadelphia Record Exchange. And, of course, it's a good 'un. The selection of tracks from the show makes the event come off like some backwoods backporch throwdown where someone spiked the sour mash with acid. The trio picks, plucks and pulls their strings into almost unfathomably dense moments, but they always seem to know when to pull back and give the strings, sounds and crowd a time to breath and figure out what the fuck is going on. This must of been the shit to watch...where the hell was I that night? Probably watching Fox or eating Trenton-style at Scavo's. What an onionhead I am . . . tequilasunrise@nme.com

When Rob Thomas handed me a copy of Sunburned Hand Of The Man's new LP on Eclipse, 'The Trickle Down Theory Of Lord Knows What,' I was naturally ecstatic. When he later told me in the evening it was a record of 'nothing,' I was naturally bemused. When I got the thing home and spun it, I kinda/sorta understood where he was coming from. Compared to the funkified Ash Ra Tempel style jamming to be found on their CDRs and limited vinyl releases, this stuff does seem a bit stripped down. It might lack something in the electrified instrumentation department, but it makes up for it in spades as far as severe mind fuckery goes. Like all of SBHOTM's material, there's always a groove to latch onto, no matter how minimal, so that element is there, but it's the shit clipping around the air of it that's so dangerous. Cheapo keyboards and sequencers, tranced-out acoustic guitars, effects-laden ghosts/vocals and the
sound of Tim Buckley on the top of a mountain, singing through a busted megaphone. Anyone who was lucky enough to score a copy of their 'Tour Only' CDR 'Magnetic Drugs' is probably still cowering in a corner over its sinister, dissident ways, as it is just as fucked as this LP. How long these dudes will dwell in their new found maraca and casio glory, I dunno. Whatever they do, I'll be happy as hell over it, knowing they're always trying to confuse and please everyone and anyone who's a breather. www.eclipse-records.com

Another unit everyone has been blabbing about is the Portland duo Nice Nice. Their three song 7" entitled 'There Will Be Slogans' makes me wonder what all the fuss is about. The drummer sounds like he's trying out for a spot on Tortoise's 'Monsters of White Rock' tour. There are a few moments of well-intentioned electronic burps and bursts from the non drum playing part of the unit (Jason Burhler) but the cold white funk has gotsa go. To think they come from the same land of Lockjaw and Poison Idea is truly frightening. I could picture a whole loft fulla Brooklynites really digging on this and THAT is where I just can't hang. www.whitedenim.com

Although the idea of a mag containing a Keiji Haino update doesn't really get my maurdo pumpin', I can't really dismiss this second issue of Arcane Candy. The main reason for this is the very lengthy and highly interesting/informative/entertaining interview with Don Bolles, former member of such LA combos as The Germs, 45 Grave, Vox Pop, Nervous Gender and...oh yeah...Celebrity Skin (ugh). Besides being the inventor of the generic Hardcore Punk drumbeat, Don has been a collector of Avant Garde vinyl since his early teens and the interview concentrates on how he discovered these sounds and used them to prolong his dementia over the years. Both the photos and dialogue are priceless, and serve as a large wad of insight into the ying-yanging neurosis/psychosis that fueled The Germs. It should sit very nicely next to your copy of the 'Lexicon Devil' book that came out last year. But still, I look through this guy's review section and I can't help but wonder what he listens to for fun. When he invites his buddies over to get blasted, what does he put on? A Harry Partch box set? On the good side, he seems to keep a non-snewty pants attitude on the proceedings, so that's cool. A few more issues certainly won't hurt the world, so let's see some more. You can get it from www.forcedexposure.com.

The Scissor Girls, AZ, Birde of No No, etc. I never really got. But this solo LP by Azita called 'Enantiodromia' suits me quite well, thank you. Some have said something about this being Steely Dan-esque, but I wouldn't know about that... REALLY, I WOULDN'T! (Quick, stash that copy of 'Pretzel Logic' under the couch NOW!!!) What I do know is this album gives me a queasy feeling of desperation and shattered bliss that only comes to me when I hear Robert Wyatt's 'Rock Bottom' or 'Ruth is Stranger Than Richard.' Anyone who's cried their eyes out to Bill Fay's 'Time of the Last Persecution' on a late night would probably benefit from owning this as well, but I digress...The melodies are lilting, the rhythms solid and the wordage poignant. There's little doubt in my weak mind that this is a good contender for one of this year's best. If this endorsement doesn't have you jogging down to the local record shoppe, you're either A) A person who doesn't give a crap about my opinion (I can understand that), B) A person who doesn't understand a word I say (ditto) or, C) Yet another phoney, too-young-to-be-so-jaded asshole. Either way, I gain and you lose and that's fine by me. www.dragcity.com

Why Frontier has bothered to reissue Rikk Agnew's solo LP from '83 entitled 'All By Myself' is beyond me. But I am quite happy they did it, seeing as my OG copy is sitting somewhere in used record store heaven. Hearing this with new ears (and I got 'em on sale too!) I can't help but feel this might be some sorta Punk Rock version of 'Oar.' Rikk played all the instruments himself and to say his brain wasn't as swiss-cheesed out at this moment in time (in between being in The Adolescents and Christian Death) as Skip Spence's might be a fib. Whether or not he ever came at Steve Soto with an axe I do not know. The album coaxes itself around the classic OC Beach Punk sound, and nods to the Paisley Underground sound that was just coming out of the West Coast at that time. The moments of long-winded aggro (like the album closing "Section Eight") show this record to be just as confused, disturbed, and life- affirming/altering as any of these highly regarded and priced one-manned efforts men with floppy (or no) hair won't shut up about. This record sticks its middle finger high and mighty in the name of individuality. Do you do the same? www.frontierrecords.com

So if you've been hanging around the same social clubs as me, you've probably been hearing much bally-hooing about a new Finnish ensemble named Avarus. Of course, most of their shit has been done up in miniscule editions on cassette and CDR. The kinda stuff only Don Rettman and Sir Sienko would own. Luckily, the HP Cycle label out of Canada has done up a whole ACTUAL LP of their stuff in a decent sized edition, entitling it '3' and I'm loving the thing like a shrub. Like most of the newer Finnish improv units before them (Kemialliset Ystavat, The Anaksimandros, etc.) they do the communal acoustic hippy hoe down quite well, but it's not all roasting weenies around a campfire and talking mysticism for this lot. Thank fucking Christ. When they do plug in, strap down your bric-a-brac because it's a low end rumbling stumbling type-a-thing like you wouldn't believe. 'But,' I hear you say, 'Are they as good or maybe better than Finnish groups like Appendix or Rutto?' How dare you even ask a question like that! I thought you had more style and class than that! That's it! Get out! hp_cycle@hotmail.com

The Geeks were a band that existed in the Northern California area from the late 60s to the early 80s. If you believe everything liner notes tell you (and I suppose you should) they turned onto Free Jazz in their early teens and started to play out and record under the influence of the Punk Rock shot heard around the world in the late 70s. They put out an LP and a 7" in their time of existence, but the S-S label has just put out a 45 of totally unheard stuff of theirs from '82 that's pretty dang interesting. The one track has a snakey maraca-shakin' groove behind it while guitars and brass toot and false-start around its edges. It sounds like a NNCK jam twenty years before the fact. The other track, 'Hey Wreck,' is a belligerent bass- heavy sax-squealing number with vocalist Mark Chambers bellowing like a burgerless Marlon Brando. This would probably make Dave Morton giggle his ass off, but it makes me wanna/hafta crap my pants. Oops! Pooped 'em! Anyone willing to part with copies of their 'It's Not About Notes Anymore' LP or 'Poland' 7", get in touch. www.s-srecords.com

If you're like me, you're probably real fat and lazy. Thus, you most likely missed The Magic Markers when they blew through on an east coast tour in the start of this summer. Well, lucky you (and me), as they squeezed all the best jams from their trip onto a CDR to enjoy in the idiot-free air-conditioned joy of your sitting room. Sure, you don't get the visuals, but that's what eyelids are for. Those who haven't had the pleasure of seeing or hearing this trio are in for some real disorienting fun. One minute you'll be bopping along to a simple, danceable beat with guitars slashing in and out, and then the fuckers will abruptly throw you down a corridor of darkened mirrors while creaky electronics and aimless drums ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!!! The loops thrown are what make this the treasure that it is, of course. Steve Howe could never do this shit. Peter Banks maybe, but certainly not Howe. A whole LP of Magic Markers material is going to be served up soon on Ecstatic Peace and you better be ready for it. As far as getting a hold of this thing, well, um, er....your best bet might be bugging the kids at Apostasy. Give 'em a try at apostasy.tripod.com. [This just in -- contact the Magic Markers direct at petenolan@hotmail.com --ed.] P.S. Word I just hoid is that The Magic Markers will be doing another tour with new loves of Northern Mass. The Believers by the end of the summer. Check it out...

I've only known two people who ever owned Ernie Graham's solo record from '71 and one of them played on the damned thing. So ya know you better dance a dance, light a sparkler, and buy a pound of pot over the fact it's been reissued by TWO labels in a year's span. Jesus, do you know how good your life is? Let me fill you in...Ernie was an Irish rocker who hung out with the trad folk group Sweeney's Men back in the mid-60s. He lured one of their members (Henry
McCullough, later member of Wings) into starting a Psychedelic band named Eire Apparent. E.A. went off and did well, even touring the U.S. with The Soft Machine and Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix later produced the band's sole LP 'Sunrise' (Buddah, 1969). When Ernie got back to the U.K. he fell in with the 'Down Home' posse of Brinsley Schwarz, Help Yourself, etc. These bands had thrown their puffy silk shirts and velvet bellbottoms into the wind to don overalls and dig into the cold, wet British soil to find some U.S. West Coast sunshine. Of course, they succeeded with results that would make Steve Stills shit in D. Crosby's droopy moustache. Right before Ernie joined Help Yourself for a spell, he did a solo LP for United Artists with everyone from the above mentioned bands sitting in and this is the thing I'm talking about. The vibe of the record is obviously laid back, but not too mellow to keep you on your toes. The opening track 'Sebastian' sounds like a twist between Van Morrison's 'Sweet Thing' and Lennon's 'Oh! Yoko!' 'Blues For Snowy' is a sinister Beefheartian groover, complete with my all time favorite guitar solo from my all time favorite guitarist, Richard Treece. Hell, to make matters even more brow-raising, the track 'Belfast' makes the act of pixie dancing into a funky, sultry thing. Of course, tracks like 'The Girl Who Pulled The Lever' and 'Don't Want Me 'Round You' fill the quota on sleepy eyed dope-fueled Band-inspired greatness. This disc is yet another testimony (like The Brinsleys' 'Silver Pistol' or Help Yourself's 'Strange Affair') to the bizarre unpinnable thing this group of bands had going on. They interpreted an entire culture of music into their own vision and style and ended with something so bizarre, it still baffles motherfuckers to this day. Throw that CDR of blender noises in the trash and get with this NOW. www.vinyljapan.com or www.huxrecords.com.

If you have anything you want talked about in 'Living Like Burt Reynolds On A Mac Davis Income' send it along to:

Tony Rettman
1189 Parkside Ave
Trenton NJ