by L.D.

KREAMY 'LECTRIC SANTA: Great Plans Laid To Rest 7-inch (SHUT UP RECORDS)
I really don't wanna go gonzo on ya right now, but several years ago I personally bumped into this band, Kreamy 'Lectric Santa, and I've barely heard from 'em since, so I can't imagine writing this review without getting at least a little autobiographical. Y'see (prepare to be riveted), I was in a band once (I know, hold your applause, I will sign autographs later) that was on a long US tour once (whoah, I'm such a trooper) and after night after night after night of playing with truly EXECRABLE emo-core bands (it was something about the mid-90's and using MRR's Book Your Own Fuckin' Life to try and get shows), we dragged our extremely weary asses to a run-down house in the middle of a Milwaukee, Wisconsin ghetto. Our expectations weren't exactly high.
       After we arrived, however, things were looking up almost immediately. The late fall weather was cool, crisp, and nice, the young woman who put on the show was cute, and the locals were chillin'. They served hot chocolate and beer, and everyone was drinking out in the yard while black kids across the alley were playing basketball, using a milk crate nailed to a garage for a hoop. This being Milwaukee, our hosts were an off-the-hook bunch of friendly sarcastic hard-partiers with goofy regional accents, so at the very least it was a tension-free low-stakes kind of atmosphere. Everyone knows, house shows (can) rule (most often). The first band was okay and, best of all, they were not emo-core (they were burly hessians playing space rock!), the second band was my band (thank you, thanks again, please hold your applause until the end), and then the third band was a wacky outfit from Miami called . . . . . . . Kreamy 'Lectric Santa. And let me tell you, they were a blast to my jaded drunk and tour-weary mind. Intricate and joyful spazz-pop-noise with a wild and sweet lady named Priya on violin and screams, a bespectacled friendly nerd named Robert on guitar and vocals, and a couple smart-aleck clean-cut guys on bass and drums who could really play their asses off. They brought down the house with their joie de vivre -- I mean, in Milwaukee the house is usually brought down before the first band even plays, but these guys REALLY brought down the house. You know those 1970s future-chic egg-chairs? Well, there was a couple of those furnishing this basement, and after the Kreamy set people were so riled up they were giving each other egg-chair rides, where a brave soul would sit inside one, and then three or four other rowdies would spin it around and around as fast as they could on the bare concrete floor. At some point they would let go and the egg-chair would continue at high velocity before finally slowing down enough for the brave soul to peel themselves out laughing and clinging to the floor, waiting for the dizziness to subside. There was actually no vomiting -- it's a good thing people in Milwaukee are used to drinking 10-15 beers a day!
      Anyway, because Kreamy 'Lectric Santa were from Miami, and so friendly, I just had to ask 'em -- "You guys know Harry Pussy?" Boy, did they -- in fact, it turned out Robert and Priya both played in a scorching band with HP's Adris Hoyos known as Monostat 3. (There was a cassette by them, released on Union Pole way back when, that DESTROYS. Holy shit, remember Union Pole?) Indeed, K.L.S. were very much part of the whole infamous Miami-based Churchill's Hideaway petri dish, although they kind of stand alone sonically to my ears, sounding more like the Thinking Fellers than any of their avant/noise/gutter peers -- that weird uncontrived mix of high-speed changes, helium nerd vocals, a surf rock undercurrent, tape fuckery, keening violin, you know . . . . all captured very well, if briefly, on this 7-inch. "1990-2004 5 song retrospective of unreleased material" is the subtitle, but if there are five songs here they go by fast. The first one is definitely a song, "Hanson," with a really sweet hooky melody sung by Priya and some nutty spazz breakdowns -- a real nice song that sounds just like I remember them from the show. After that is a change of pace, an old-timey T. Waitsy guitar-and-violin instrumental. Side two lays on some pretty thick tape loopery about DRUGS and goes into another hooky spazzy song sung by Robert with pretty off-the-hook lyrics such as, "Screwin' and doin' drugs like it's 1979 . . . . And now time seems to spread beneath my wings -- Like 1000 Billion milligrams of hard solar law take on fast 'A Million and two degrees' milk a motion -- I feel it is goin' down -- The world is just so lost 'And I'm Walking Tall.'" Mind you, all that is sung quite melodically . . . . then the record ends with more brief collage/tape cut-up weirdness called "Our Diluted & Grandiloquent Memorys of Miami." Wow. Nice to bump into these guys again!

MAJOR STARS: "Black Road" b/w "Pocket" (TWISTED VILLAGE)
Some, ahem, "major" changes are going on with the Major Stars . . . already an extremely heavy two-guitar band, they are now a ludicrously heavy THREE-guitar band, and also now have a bad-ass WOMAN vocalist! I realize that makes 'em sound pretty metal, but, um, they ARE pretty metal now, or maybe simply "hard rock" is more accurate, in that 1970s Sir Lord Baltimore high school arena parking lot stoner glam devil horn kind of way. Thing is, I don't think Major Stars really planned any of this at all, which is what makes it so enjoyable -- they just got a new line-up and they wanted to blast and this is what came out. My only complaint is that the guitar solos are too short, but hey, it's a 45 RPM 7-inch....

WARMER MILKS: "Rwanda" b/w "Walken Agoraphobic Penn (Version)" (PAPER RECORDS)
Real pretty cover and real pretty music from this emerging Lexington, KY psych-dream-folk unit. "Rwanda" is a dreamy folk mutter built around very pretty and wasted guitar arpeggios. Side B turns the tables, eschewing vocals for a brief instrumental creep through space, played with both restraint and force. Very nice but after basking in the 30-minute-long glow of their masterpiece track "Penetration Initials" (now a highly recommended one-track CDR released by the Mountaain label), the 7-inch format just seems so brief. These two tracks are like spacey afterthoughts, sweet riddles, little breadcrumbs dropped that will entice and maybe lead the curious closer and closer to the Warmer Milks mothership (i.e. "Penetration Initials," or whatever new epics are on the double LP that is currently in the works for Paper Records).

Goddamn, this is some thick vinyl. I didn't know they could make vinyl this thick, but that's kind of beside the real point, which is that the grooves contain an American cover version of a very anti-American rock song that was purported to be from everyone's favorite national security threat North Korea -- but whaddayaknow, it turns out that it's from South Korea! (For more on the story, check out this excellent interview with members of the band.) Some of you Americans might be offended by the whole "Fucking USA" sentiment, but jeez, more and more Americans are agreeing with it every day, and it's a real catchy song that applies this Fair and Balanced worldview to the wild global rock-collision approach that Neung Phak feeds off of. Side two has a couple tracks from when they were in Chicago back in May 2004, recorded live-in-studio up at WNUR Radio in Evanston. One is a nice springy, sexy version of their classic "Tui Tui Tui" (you may know the original from the Neung Phak CD and/or WFMU airplay), and "Far King USA," which I thought was going to be the "clean" version of Side A, and it kind of is, but it's also the weird version, with a lot of tape-loop sinistry and a spooky ballad approach. Great cover art, depicting every red-stater's worst nightmare -- a whole bunch of pissed-off Arabs and Asians, looking at YOU!!

AIR CONDITIONING: "Bachelor Party" b/w "Barrels of Seized Ephedrine" 7-inch (WHITE TAPES/WHITE DENIM)
Side A: People talking and shouting in a rowdy atmosphere. I feel like I'm listening to one of the many verité argument tracks on Cock ESP's We Mean It This Time (1999). Then the band starts fooling around with their instruments a little bit, tuning-up noise, and it's starting to sound like a different specific verité record, that Sun City Girls bootleg 7-inch Live For Chilly (1993). (Yeah, there's a couple references everybody in the world's gonna get.) Eventually the band starts playing and from the get-go it's huge and holy-shit heavy; toxic sludge that would possibly bury the entire worldwide noise-rock scene if it was just let loose. Unfortunately, because of all the opening fiddling around, the side abruptly ends well before the song does. Side B: the same thing again? I really think it is. And, as I have since learned, it IS the exact same thing again; when Air Conditioning played in the ridiculously packed downstairs room at No Fun Fest 2004, their DAT player only picked up about 5 minutes of their set before it was knocked to the ground and broken. And here's that 5 minutes, twice. It's cool and people into fucked-up records will like it -- I mean shit, they only made 200 copies, and they were sold out a few months ago -- but don't let it be your intro to the band. Listen to any of the full-lengths, or go see 'em live!

Apparently this 7-inch features two songs, and they're called "Song 2" and "Song 4." Slightly confusing, right? It gets wackier: the sleeve says "Song 2 is on the side with The Warrior & Fruit Salad," and I'll be damned, there's a warrior and a fruit salad right there on this label. Must be side one, so let's listen! Okay, this is some pretty alien rock music stuff coming out of my speakers . . . . arty prog quirk with one guitar playing amelodic scalar runs and another guitar doing stabby trebly art-funk chords . . . . a singer yelping with a slight emo-core vibe . . . . rather hyper approach with weird sudden changes moving through quite a few different parts . . . . very prog! I really know nothing about this band at all, like where they're from or who they've played with or anything. "Song 4 is on the side with The Leopard Leg & Green Salad," so let's check that out. A rather more introspective/melancholy feel on this one but the busy/chancey arrangements and riff-piling techniques are the same. The cumulative effect of all the changes and rhythms and collisions is really just as colorful as the wild art on the sleeve, not to mention the splatter-colored vinyl itself. Very interesting post-punk band -- they sound contemporary and American, sure, but I'm also getting a heavy 80s UK DIY vibe -- these tunes would not sound out of place on a Hyped 2 Death comp or some other art-punk obscurity reissue. On the other hand, they remind me of a slightly nicer and more melodic My Name Is Rar Rar!

A couple years back this madcap Australian duo released an LP that was one of the more sustained pieces of vicious psycho alien gibberish dressed in the flayed skin suit of 'duo noise improv' that I've ever heard. If anything, the approach has now gotten even more primordial, and reduced down to the length of a 7-inch it's practically over and out before the first rumble has even sounded -- a total head-scratcher, a really large question mark practically visible in the air near your stereo speakers. This is the sound of a pool of bubbling ooze before the first bubble has even surfaced. It's like cave-painting in pitch black dark with someone else's toenail while the shadows are moving all around you. Or, as drummer Oren Ambarchi said in this fine interview: "The Sisters come from a place where there is no language and no technique. One-string, Minnie Ripperton, a footprint, intuitive chants, and two tree trunks." Other than that, I have no idea what's going on here.

STRANGULATED BEATOFFS: "Jacking off with Jacko" b/w "Beat It" 7-inch (APOP RECORDS)
God bless the Strangulated Beatoffs -- I could really go for listening to some of their beyond-retarded endless loopery right now -- it's much better than quaaludes! -- but I don't own anything except for this new 7-inch, which is . . . . . . . . no, don't tell me . . . . a Michael Jackson cover. Yep. "Beat It," played in a straight hate-grunge weird-vocals drum-machine style (who is this, Mr. California and the State Police?), but I'm telling you, when it gets to the part right before the guitar solo (you know, duh-duhn-duhn, duh-duhn-duhn "beat it beat it beat it" duhn-duhn, duh-duhn-duhn etc.), it turns the duh-duhn-duhn into a godheavy loop that really smacks me out --- waaaay better than quaaludes. First time it hit, I wanted the loop to go on for at least four or five hours, and was really hoping it was a lock groove. Unfortunately it wasn't, so maybe I'll have to put out a four-or-five-disc 'remix' version. The flip side, "Jacking off with Jacko" is about as pointless as pointless goofery gets, so much so that I don't even remember it, other than some sort of retardo-techno groove and the title being said in a goofy voice a few times. But don't get excited, I'm keeping the 7-inch, just for the 10-15 seconds of that duh-duhn-duhn loop, as well as the beautiful watercolor painting by band member Stan Seitrich (he was in Drunks With Guns you know), not to mention that it comes with an actual page torn out of an actual unauthorized paperback bio of Michael Jackson, with key phrases underlined. ("It's just neat to become another thing, another person.")

STRANGULATED BEATOFFS: St. Louis's most luded.

HALL OF FAME: "The Cannibal" b/w "Superstring Theory" 7-inch (LAL LAL LAL)
A head-scratcher of a band, New York City's Hall of Fame put out that LP on Siltbreeze a few years ago that jumped from utterly gorgeous femme balladry to totally wacked krautrockisms to spaced-out free jazz folkiness to drooling drone miniatures. It was great, and come to think of it, aren't they a natural for Finland's gorgeous wacked spaced-out drooling drone folk record label Lal Lal Lal? Here's the 7-inch produced from just that union. As I listen to the disjointed electronics of Side A, "The Cannibal," the main thing that pops into my head is just how brief the 7-inch format is. A band that plays like this really needs some time to stretch out and sink in. The track has some cool cosmic tones but it barely happens. "Superstring Theory," on the other hand, is a mean propulsive drone augmented with a tinkling dream-melody and the whole thing has just enough time to really dig in. Sure, it could be about 20 minutes longer, but I'll take what I get. Very Finland -- this sounds a lot like the Fricara Pacchu cassette (also on Lal Lal Lal) that just blew my mind last week. And "Superstring Theory" was recorded in 1997 which is like EIGHT YEARS AGO so, yeah, Hall of Fame was THERE, early.

KOMPLEKSI: "(I Ain't No) Lovechild" b/w "Moscow 1980" 7-inch (LAL LAL LAL)
Right now all of the American trustafarians who read Arthur 'religiously' with a little Wire on the side and who mail-ordered this 7-inch are scratching their new beard going, "Hey, this ain't psychedelic free folk!" That's because it's creepy euro synth disco! The grooves are corny and the singing is awkward, but it is charming -- especially those wildcat yelps on the "Lovechild" turnarounds -- and Irwin Chusid will probably play it on his show. "Moscow 1980" is a more wistful synth pop number -- I detect a Limahl influence -- that starts with a sample of Jimmy Carter laying down the law about a certain Olympic boycott. And it proceeds to go on for over 6 minutes of heartfelt monotonous Limahlian glory! At the very least, it's quite a change of pace for Lal Lal Lal.....no mention of it over at Volcanic Tongue yet....

(The following contains some hyperbole and inaccuracy, but it is at least 15-20% true, and that's the part I want you to focus on.) L.A. keeps on blowin' up -- the DIY music scene down in that massive multicultural place has been crazy for decades now, carrying on from the general Sunset Strip acid madness of the 1960s through the Los Angeles Free Music Society of the 1970s and SST Records et al of the 1980s right into the crazy-quilt multicolored mutant-virus youth-spawned non-stop candy-coated noise-junked punk-rock beach-blasting they've got going on there right now today. The 1990s were kept alive, for me, by The Uphill Gardeners, the Polar Goldie Cats, W.I.N. Records, Blackbean & Placenta Tape Club, and various weird post-SST-related rumblings. And so far, the 2000's are just BLOWING UP, with post-B&PTC conspiracies like Deathbomb Arc and Not Not Fun looking like the real labels to watch. I'm not saying that it's all my cup of tea, because not all the bands in action are escaping a certain fairly fashionable dance-punk zeitgeist, but let me tell you, the LAFMS free/noise aesthetic has PERMEATED the stuff these kids are doing, and to see and hear the true WEIRD NOISE mixing with the ubiquitous multi-generational taste-making influence that the underground pop glam legacy of Rodney Bingenheimer still has on that entire city is a bizarre and oft-beautiful thing. Maybe they don't even really know about the LAFMS -- maybe they think they got the noise/home-taper/folk-form influence from K Records up there in Olympia and from Shrimper over there in the Inland Empire, and they did, but what they don't know is that the LAFMS aesthetic has actually been stored in the very smog of Los Angeles, where it grows and spreads like a Hollywood Hills wildfire, but invisibly. The people of L.A. just breathe it right in, and it continues to infect thousands of children born in the region today. All that said, this split between Lil' Pocketknife and Barr doesn't exactly reflect my favorite part of the L.A. scene. It's pretty corny, in fact, but in true L.A. fashion it is not afraid of being corny, and these three songs are still very appropriate and illustrative of the sun-splashed anything-goes angst-joy of the region. Lil' Pocketknife is a young female rapper who drops cute lyrics over cute rinky-dink happy-Casio tracks. You can imagine, a real new wave party posse for the '05. Now this Barr character, I've heard him about three times now, and I'll admit that I'm still a little annoyed by it, the whole nerdy thoughtful-guy-who-will-be-your-friend poetry slam vibe, but I am starting to appreciate the go-go rhythms of his song on here, and this time I actually am paying attention to the lyrical content, and, you know, he's saying some notable shit . . . . talking about what the crazy art-kids in the midwest and the south are doing, he says, "That stuff is just like so far advanced to me from anything coming out in the entirety of the entire islands of Manhattan and Brooklyn, not to be so judging, but to be truthful, so much stuff just is not interesting. Look, you take the thousands of kids all over America who are trying to figure out their alienation, and then you pit them versus the super-inner cool kids of the cool cool kids nation. How about I will take like every single kid at home on the internet listening to the most fucked-up computer music being part of culture, and using it to make their friends psyched and they're loving it. There's a bigger tiny picture, and I personally -- well, I'm feeling it." And, more on that topic, "I truthfully believe that all the Blink 182 kids and Mexican families at IKEAs in L.A. County are just so much mellower than anyone at any activity in the entirety of the entire East Coast at all." Wow dude, California Love! Go IKEA! See, it's mad corny but it's still a pretty interesting stream of thoughts. People just don't say risky shit like this, unafraid of falling on their face, in the East Coast/Midwest. Only in California. "B is for political, A is for drums, R is for music, R is for RIGHT NOW" to a nerdy go-go beat. It's cool, it's like a zine. Speaking of which, I love the way the 7-inch info is screenprinted right onto the plain sleeve and label.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: L.A. Bands in 2004! 7-inch (DEATHBOMB ARC)
Here's a four-song EP split between and "funded by" four more bands from Los Angeles, with another awesome screen-printing art-job. I'm surprised how much the first track, by Rainbow Blanket, sounds like mid-period Dead C! A duet between total machine destruction sounds and languorous guitar noise. Recorded live at the "Lakewood Youth Center." Track two is by Child Pornography -- first time I've actually heard this band with the notorious name, even though I do have a copy of their CD with the White Album-pisstake cover art, called The Beatles. I still haven't listened to that, sheez. Judging from their song on this 7-inch, they play hyper helium dance-punk, as I suspected (or gleaned from a one-sheet). And as far as the genre goes (not my favorite), it's pretty damn good -- this track would cut through a lot of crap if played on college radio. Side two: Rose For Bodhan are one of the first bands I ever heard from this L.A. renaissance, back in 1997 or so. They're a real ramshackle exuberant noise-pop man/woman duo. Their double-CD from a couple years ago was just too big for me, I couldn't find a way in, but they're killer in small doses like this, especially with the intensely sung subject matter of this wild-ass sex-love song called "Fucko": "And porn love / is good love / for those who wanna watch / you acting / so famous for me / and this love, and this love, and this love... / POW! POW! we rump so loud / the neighbors can't stand the sound! / and if you please don't masturbate / and save it all for me / (the mystery! the mystery!)....." Then the last song is by The Sharp Ease, and it's a relatively straightforward minimal spy/garage rocker that boasts a wonderful rock'n'roll vocal performance by lead singer Paloma Parfrey. She's good! And this 7-inch EP is a good survey of the Los Angeles avant-punk scene!

MIGUEL MENDEZ: Happy Birthday Asshole 7-inch (DEATHBOMB ARC)
Arrghh, these L.A. jokers. Here's a 7-inch wrapped like a birthday present, and you can't get it out to play it without tearing up the wrapping paper! Or, if you want to maintain the package, you have to very carefully untape the scotch tape that holds it together and then carefully reseal it when you're done listening. The only problem with this option, other than it being mad anal, is that cat hair -- and worse depending on how you're living -- might get under the scotch tape, and after a few listens you'd have a pretty grody 7-inch. Gosh, what am I gonna do? [Moments pass. And pass. A year goes by.] Hey, I just used an exacto knife to slice open the top so the record slides right out. I'm a genius! It takes me over a year to finish a 7-inch roundup column, but I am definitely a genius . . . . and right now I'm listening to Miguel Mendez playing the Happy Birthday Asshole title track, and this is a tricky record because the song is presented like a song played at the wrong speed. It sounds way too slow until about a minute in, when the real vocals start and you realize you've been at the right speed all along. It's a trick! These L.A. jokers . . . . . . Side two is a song called "The World Wins (The Whirlwinds)," a sun-dappled busy-strummed folk-pop song. Still very earnest with pleasant melodies, and in fact maybe just a little too Dan Fogelberg-friendly for today's legions of cracked-music enthusiasts. But it is definitely sun-dappled, which is almost always a good thing. A good 7-inch of very earnest pop that is given at least some of that weird post-noise post-DIY treatment.

JACOB SMIGEL: Lovers & Drunkards 7-inch (NOT NOT FUN)
Ah, and speaking of that weird mix of Sebadoh, Dan Fogelberg, and the LAFMS (last seen in the mid-90s from the classic Shrimper label, also from Southern California), here's a singer-songwriter 7-inch from the Not Not Fun label. Now, this is a truly amazing label representing today's L.A. renaissance, not just for the music but also for the mind-boggling packaging. Every single release is some wild never-before-thought-of combination of non-traditional, hand-made, hand-painted, hand-drawn, hand-sewn, spray-painted, silk-screened, and well cared for, and they never do the same thing twice. There'll be more Not Not Fun reviews sprinkled throughout this issue of Blastitude, but go to their website right now and see for yourself. And take this Jacob Smigel 7-inch as a current example: the cover is hand-colored with what looks like a combo of crayons and markers, and even has a credit in the lower left corner where it says "COLORED BY: JACOB" and the "JACOB" is hand-written, by Jacob Smigel himself, I'm assuming. I could also swear that my copy has some small goddamn feathers stuck in it, for real. (You can kind of see 'em in the picture, just to the right of "COLORED BY: JACOB.") As for the songs, I like side one, the title track, quite a bit for its melancholy DIY feel, as well as its fairly ambitious DIY drum-machine orchestration (the high sad piano tinkling is especially nice, and I like the distorted drums that kick in towards the end). Side two has a no-overdubs solo acoustic riddle-song where a bunch of people's names are mentioned and you have to find each one, and it also has a little answering machine bit that is also going to be part of some "found sound" comp that is also going on from this wildly prolific and creative nexus. See what I mean, you need about 7 different scorecards with these folks.....

THE REBEL: Bums on a Rock 7-inch (FLITWICK RECORDS); THE REBEL: Exciting New Venue For Soccer And Execution Of Women EP 7-inch (SDZ RECORDS)
I remember getting these in the mail, but I can't find the letter that came with it. I know that The Rebel is a Country Teasers-related project, and I'm pretty sure it's frontman B.R. Wallers' solo guise. Sure sounds like it. The only reason I doubt myself at all is that there's absolutely no credits on the sleeve. (Lots of cool art though.) These tracks are like weirdo Teaser demos, stitched together via the evil clink of rinky-dink music-boxes, new wave keyboards, and dolorous misanthropic songwriting spun from a roots guitar music basis. As with any hybrid musical form, the quality of what comes out depends less on the ingredients as it does on the person behind the mix, and as always, The Rebel sounds almost totally fresh.
       For another example, here's another 7-inch by him, recorded in 2003, released by French label SDZ Records in 2004. More exciting artwork, with a provocative title, eh? Any of you misogynist armchair eugenicists out there perking up a bit? The first song "Turtle v. Octopus" is a messy bad-ass home-recorded groove-rocker that comes off really well -- all you The Band revivalists take note! (Not to mention Califone buffs!) Side two starts with "Keith," a loud stomper rocker with carnivalesque keyboard mayhem -- hell, sounds like the full-band Teasers to me -- but track two "Spiderman in the Flesh" is much sparser and weirder and home-tapey. Fuck, everything from the big, messy, surrealistic, and mean Teasers camp is good. (Also check that Live Album they just put out on In The Red, a totally dizzying art-raunch mix from about 29 different performances in 17 different cities....)

Here's a couple 7's from a Memphis, TN label called Wrecked 'Em Records. Let's see, 'lo-fi' B&W artwork, trashy foot fetish cover image, titles like "Punk Girl" and "Cop Song" -- I think this is gonna be trash/garage/shit music of some kind. Possibly in the tradition of Memphis's own The Oblivians and The Reatards? We can hope . . . . (needle goes on record) . . . . weeellll, it ain't bad, but it's not quite there. There's a garage raunchiness to it, for sure, but the overall root seems more metal/grunge/doom/stoner than blues/punk. Reminds me of some of the more hairy touring acts back around say 1993 that had a few early Sub Pop cassettes in the van and flailed away at dropped-D tunings in college-town dive bars, never to be heard from again. (Oh yeah, you bet they wore flannel.)         The other 7-inch from Wrecked 'Em is by The Clutters, a trio from Nashville that are a little more blues/punk than Hedgecreep. There's also a picture on the inside of The Clutters playing live at Nashville's legendary music dive Springwater -- nice to see all the fringe/tassel again. They do 5 quick songs which are neither that bad nor that great. They do play well and don't get me wrong, some ass is kicked. If you were listening to nothing but the piped-in music in a Wal-Mart all day, this would sound pretty great, but if you were listening to the (aforementioned) Reatards all day, this would barely register. "Crack Your Heart" ain't too bad with its scratchy "Hand Jive" rhythm, and the last song is interesting because it's a cover of Neil Young's "Are You Ready For The Country" that speeds up the tempo as if trying to exorcise the marijuana influence. They make a good effort, as does Wrecked 'Em -- these 7-inches certainly aren't bad, and I'd really like to hear the Angel Sluts "Hot Teen Action" 7-inch!

DONNA SUMMER: "Last Dance" b/w "With Your Love" 7-inch (CASABLANCA)
Waitaminnit, how did this get in here?! Donna Summer?! Let the rumor mills start cranking: "Larry Dolman -- is he black or white? Is he straight or gay? Con-tro-ver-sy!" Okay, I'll tell the whole story, I was watching some Warhol doc a while back and the backing music under all the talking heads was a very nice melange of 1970s urban pop music. At one point this semi-forgotten Donna Summer hit (from the Thank God It's Friday soundtrack, it went #3 on the Billboard charts in 1978) wove in and out of the mix. I remembered it from my disco childhood, just barely, and hearing it again hit me just right. I don't know, maybe it was the quaaludes. Or the full polyester body suit I was wearing. From that night on, if I was out on the town I would glance around for a copy of it in the dollar bins. Saw a Donna Summer Greatest Hits LP with the song on it, but it was marked at $7.99 -- no way. Finally, at Chicago's great gay-run secondhand store Brown Elephant, I found this 45 RPM single for 25 cents. Now there we go, that's within my budget! And yeah, it still sounds as good as it did in the doc, a nice languorous dance tune, with a fantasy-ballad cool-off intro. A lot of people deride disco for it's mindlessness, and I can agree with that in lots of cases -- but please remember to always listen close, because sometimes what sounds like mindlessness is actually heartfelt melancholy languor . . . . the B-side "With Your Love" bites Bernie Worrell's funk-squiggles, but the groove is fairly pedestrian. Moroder might not have been producing at this point, but nonetheless her vocal is still pretty decadently perfect. It's worth 25 cents, that's for sure.....

JON MUELLER: What's Lost Is Something Important. What's Found Is Something Not Revealed CD (CROUTON MUSIC)
Waitaminnit, how did this get in here?? This isn't even a 7-inch, it's a damn CD packaged in a 7-inch sleeve! All this time I thought it was a 7-inch . . . well, guess I'll go ahead and review it, and put it in this column just for fun . . . . I hope I can take this much time out of my busy schedule, sheez . . . . . alright, it's a slow starter, not much happening yet . . . . probably one of them 'ambient' CDs. Liners say "Play at maximum volume in a large empty room." Wish I could, wish I could, but there ain't no empty rooms in my three-room apartment, believe me . . . . . . actually, even at medium volume, this is starting to cook up a fine head of drone and glow. Not bad at all -- yet another new one-person deep drone LP, a phenomena that I go on about elsewhere in this issue of Blastitude. Deep drone is everywhere these days, and welcome too, and this is as good of an example as I've heard all issue. Pretty artsy, this one, with that wordy title and austere packaging, but still very killer when it gets down to the sounds. And, get this, it's apparently a solo drum record -- this guy is playing heavy composed/improvised sound-based musique concrete deep drone on an acoustic drum kit?? About 6 minutes in, it actually starts to sound like a drum kit, a heavily processed brush-stroke paradiddle from hell, but I'm still confused -- is it acoustic, in which case it's amazing, or is it processed, in which case it's killer? I can't decide, but either way, kudos to Mueller for making a good album.

SEXY PRISON: "Bury My Heart At Vladivostock" b/w "Escape From Dude Mountain" 7-inch (OMNIBUS RECORDS)
A one-sided 7-inch with two songs. It's on clear vinyl, and the flip side is a colorful silk-screened drawing. It's not easy to tell who the band is (Sexy Prison) or what the songs are ("Bury My Heart At Vladivostock" and "Escape From Dude Mountain"), but the insert card does have a drawing of an erect penis on it. As for the music, it's pretty damn good -- sounds a little like Nate Young of Wolf Eyes singing and jamming with one of those campy angry German new wave synth industrial bands from the early 1980s. (See the great CD, just released on C.I.P., of music from 1981 by German group Alu. Sexy Prison reminds me of them!) Which is to say, pretty raucous. I mean, these guys really do know how to blast out and lay waste to their own dorky new wave grooves. Real good singing and screaming with attention paid to careful tension and release, especially on the second track "Escape From Dude Mountain." They're from Sacramento.

THE AMOEBA MEN: Enter: The Amoeba Men 7-inch (C.N.P. RECORDS)
Oh boy, just got this in the mail, the same day I'm going to press, so I'll squeeze it in. Never heard of 'em, needle on the record......and GO. This is a band from Richmond, Virginia that plays in a neo no wave style, by which I mean, you know, energetic disco rhythms, angular staccato trebly guitar, sped-up monster movie basslines played on keyboard, yelpy vocals, the possibility of being described as "dance punk," etc. The first song is called "Shit Tubes," which I like as a title, and it's a pretty good song too. Side two is a style-shift, a slow twangy weird-noir number with vocals almost as absurdly tremeloed as Gibby's were on the "Hurdy Gurdy Man" cover. They're pretty good at both styles but it also leaves the impression that they're kind of new and still not sure what they're going to develop into as a band. The slow thing on Side B is more interesting, but that's also my own personal preference speaking because one, I love tremeloed vocals, and two, I've really gotten tired of yelpy agitated dancey punk wave bands (unless they're from L.A. or Portland, I don't know what it is). But this is not a bad band and any of the three songs would sound fine on college rock radio.













And here's part one of the 7-inch roundup, from back in 1972 (complete with original intro):

My goodness I've been letting the 7-inchers pile up here at Blastitude HQ. Now that the amount in the stack has reached an appropriate number (seven), I had better review 'em RIGHT NOW, and FAST!!!!

These youngsters already get bad reviews for their touring protocol -- in the words of Roger Rimada (Bananafish #18), "I'm just gonna say that brass knuckles are for pussies. If you're gonna talk shit and you wanna fight 'cause you write songs about your mommy, then be a man about it. Don't bust out with whack shit like brass knuckles." And, I always resisted them anyway, because I thought they were a little late on the whole "intense power duo" thing, but Side A of this thinger is a pleasant little melancholy melodic new-wave ditty, largely keyboard-driven, but underpinned with a heavy distorto guitar (or bass) base. It really might indeed be about his mommy, but I like it. Side B has two songs, and whaddayaknow, they're also melancholy melodic new-wave numbers -- weird, this seems to be a new style for them and, mommy or not, it suits them better than the "intense dark screamo" did or whatever that was. (Actually, the second track on side two doesn't really count as a song -- it could be a fine song, but as it stands it's just a short instrumental sketch that peters out after a minute or two.) Who knew, this is a fine record, and I'll play it on my radio show.

MELTED MEN: Abdominal Snowman 7-inch (DEAD MIND RECORDS)
I certainly know of this band but this is one of the few times I've ever actually heard 'em. This 7-inch has about 7 tracks, which officially makes it an EP. They're really short tracks, but it's still an EP. The title track is a weird little stomper . . . on one hand sounds like someone making fun of the imitation-Partch pirate-dwarf percussion arrangements by mid-period Tom Waits, but it's a little heavier and more electronically fupped than that. And the vocals are wicked. In fact, all of these tracks are weird, short, very strange vocally, and filled with interesting sonics, but also (intentionally?) underwhelming in a rough-sketch kind of way . . . I feel like I'm listening to Caroliner rehearsal tapes. Side 2 does up the anti-ante, with a funky spoken intro: "If ah had Charley's pride and Johnny's caaash...." These guys are from Georgia, after all . . . and side 2 goes on to get into a slammin' dance riff that ain't Caroliner at all, and winds down with some sublime ghostly Southern-fried acapella singing! I've been boondoggled!

KEVIN & CHAD: "Summer:Smile!" b/w "Woodhouse: Rolling" 7-inch (WEIRD FOREST)
That would be Kevin Corcoran from Antennas Erupt and Chad Stockdale from sax & drums duo Klondike & York. This unit called Kevin & Chad is also a sax & drums duo, but one whose mission is to "make a hardcore record but through free jazz idioms." That's funny, I think both of the bands they're in already kinda do that, but granted, not with the blistering turn-it-up-to-111 ferocity evinced by this 7-inch. The sax runs through a rat pedal and is just full-on scream-bellow-spazz-guts, while the drums are a particularly monstrous roiling torrent. Plus: happening yellow vinyl and transparent cover art.

RORN: The Mechanical Weather Cousin 7-inch (NAUSCOPY)
Gloopy solo video-game squelcho sounds babble over under sideways down. Weird! Gassy! Short! Obnoxious! Conlon Nancarrow gives his four-year-old nephew a rewired plastic casio toy-guitar for his birthday and son gets FREE. Maybe that's him on the cover. Vinyl color? Totally white.

THE A-SIDES: "Seeing Suzy" b/w "Going Gone" 7-inch (PRISON JAZZ)
Scrappy little pub-beat PA offering from a Philly band and Scranton label. "Seeing Suzy": mod pill R&B with clean guitars whacking out 7th chords and great spastic drum turnarounds. "Going Gone": Starts with acapella "hey hey" chant, and comes in with a riff that is almost from "Last Train to Clarksville" and/or Ted Nugent's "Just What The Doctor Ordered." This is even more adept 60s worship than the first song but the songwriting isn't quite as tight, whatever that means. They seem like a good band, frenetic, loose & gawky, which is just how I like my white-kid mocker R&B, except that I really do try hard not to listen to bands who wear matching business suits and formed in any (of the 38) year(s) after 1966. The tension is marginally exquisite . . . .

PSYCHIC ILLS: "Killers" b/w "Vice" 7-inch (MENTAL VIOLENCE)
For some reason I was kind of scared of this one. Something about the spartan cover, I don't why, I thought it was gonna be some insanely evil Whitehouse type shit. It is indeed kinda mean, but I was totally wrong, it's positively poppy compared to the evil I feared. "Killers": Synth-rock with grinding rhythm section and hooky/aggro guitar stabs, topped by the essential 'echo-y' female vocals. She seems to be repeating "I can't let you kill myself" (or maybe it's "my soul" or even "my son") which I find intriguing. B-side "Vice" is a nice little two-minute moody darkpop instrumental, and there is indeed something in its simple repeated figures that seems to be about certain of the title subject's side effects, such as diminished returns, and a resigned and defeated nostalgia for an allure that turned out to be very short-lived.

I don't even know what this is yet, and I don't remember where it came from. It's got that same font that was used on the recent Crystal Fantasy split 10-inch (with Hair Police), so maybe this is another release from that label, Liquid Death/Hello Pussy Records . . . . alright, open it up and it's a riot of new psychedelic quease-art, just the kind of thing the LD/HP empire always goes all-out on, sick-screened cloth-like die-cut cover folding out into B&W churning water set off by clear vinyl that reveals the back half of a radiant scorpion silk-screened and splashing in a way that is suitably Panteresque. Um, okay, I still don't know who this is, except one of the record labels (no A side or B side marking either -- even the runoff grooves are completely blank) says "SMF" many times, and it appears to come with a . . . CD? Yep, what the scorpion is silkscreened onto is one of those pull-tab envelope things which usually house CDs. This art is great! I've been hornswoggled! Now I have to review a CD on top of a 7-inch! This is gonna take forever . . . .
        Well, gotta start somewhere . . . I guess I'll start with the 7-inch, on the side that says "SMF" many times . . . which, taken as an abbreviation for whatever those weird-font words are on the cover, means that those weird-font words must/might read "Stereo Motherfuckers," which must/might be the name of the band. Haven't heard of 'em . . . . weeelll, oops, that sounds like the wrong speed, I'll try it again at 45 RPM . . . . . okay, that's better, and it's a loud-bangin' pretty-much-improvised lurch-pound destroyed-rock riff thing, all instrumental. I like the freak-out at the end. Not bad at all, pretty destroyed-sounding, but I really hope they don't wear masks and/or costumes when they perform. That might make it not quite as good. Side B is similar but even less beholden to the ideas of "riff" and "song." Total fall-apart, spread throughout the duration of the side. There might be vocals on this one. Not bad at all either.
        Okay, now I'll get the CD out -- I guess I just have to tear this thing open -- won't that hurt the resale value?? Actually, it will tear a nice chunk right out of the back-side of this silkscreen scorpion, which is a shame, because it's a pretty swank painting. Oh man, the CD doesn't have any info either -- just more silk-screen psychedelic ritalin art. I guess I'll never learn how these people spell their name -- on the cover, as best as I can decipher the font, it actually looks like Stareo Mhuthaphukkas! [sic] I search for that on google and get nothing (no surprise), then I search "Stereo Motherfuckers" and only get three results, #2 and #3 just accidental phrases from message boards like "get your hands off my stereo motherfuckers," but result #1 is from the shows page on the Mae Shi website, and it reveals that on August 16, 2003, the Mae Shi played a show "w/ Experimental Dental School, Vholtz, Stereo Motherfuckers and Child Pornography at Grandma's House in Oakland (all ages, super cheap)." [Emphasis added.] Again, I don't remember when or from where I got this record in the mail -- that show is all I know about 'em, if that's even them. (Oops, I forgot to listen to the CD!)
       THIS JUST IN! Rob E writes in from Grandma's House in Oakland, CA: "stereo motherfuckers is/was randy lee sutherland of many many bands including: the Thin Ensemble, Priceless Red Skeleton, Vholtz, Plate Glass, Dr.
Fireworks and Control R Workshop and Daron Key also of
Control R Workshop and Mesmer. they operate out of the sf bay area. they played a great set at my house that night with the mae shi etc, everyone was very drunk.