THAT IT'S ALL GRAVY: Band on the Run CD (THE
platter's been in the can for awhile. I first heard of it
two years ago when it was one of the 189 or so releases then
"upcoming" on Freedom From. Word on Gravy was that
Julia Cafritz was in the band (approximately everyone reading
this will know her from Pussy Galore and Free Kitten) and
the album was a song-for-song cover of the Wings best-seller
Band on the Run (1973). Sounded like fun but not
too remarkable, I thought -- probably just a trashy rock version,
lots of bum notes, bad vocals, bad taste, you know the drill,
"deconstructionism," a/k/a "f***ing around."
But, in a personal conversation, when Freedom From's CEO Coke
Limo described the album as "good," there was something
about the weird gleam in his eye that gave me pause, and with
Tom "Om Myth" Smith involved I had to wonder . .
Well, before Freedom
From could get it into production, it got picked up by new
Florida-based record label The Smack Shire, and now it sits
in my hand and stereo, and, well, FUCK. This is not "deconstructionist,"
this is DE CON (FUCK ING) STR UCTIO NIST. Good move #1 (among
many): the band didn't play trashy rock covers. Apparently
all they did was have the one and only Don Fleming record
their vocals, and then the one and only Om Myth did the rest.
If that's the case, this just might stand up there with The
Wigmaker as Mr. Myth's magnum opus. It took my second
listen, but getting into this album is deeply psychedelic,
its events steadily unfolding with weird, unsturdy dream logic,
plunderphonic sounds appearing suddenly and receding just
as fast, loops from bad (and good!) records spinning out of
control, restrained oozing concrete everywhere, strong and
long silences giving the whole thing the rigor of a 20th Century
Composition by Varese or the Pierres or even Morty Feldman
. . . . if Myth's roll call of dub exemplars from Blastitude
#14 didn't make sense to you when you last read it, it just
might after you hear this album. Meanwhile, the cheeky / soulpacked
/ earnest / sarcastic / authorative / strained readings of
McCartney's lyrics swim in and out of focus, sometimes gliding
on and sometimes slowly sinking under a strange sea of hooks
both pop and concrete, the lyrical snippets intermittently
crooning to the surface of the warpage like messages in bottles.
Such as, "Well the night
was falling as the desert world began to settle down / In
the town they're searching for us everywhere, but we never
will be found," and I'm left to ponder, as the sound
of this record goes on warping my brainwaves like Laffy Taffy,
was Sir Paul STILL singing about Charlie Manson? "Jet!
I can almost remember their funny faces / That time you told
me that you were going to be marrying soon / And Jet, I thought
the only lonely place was on the moon." Was Jet another
name for John? And the ballad: "I'm a bluebird, I'm a
bluebird, I'm a bluebird bluebird bluebird blewbeard bloobord
blooboorooroor . . . [and so on, warped as crazily as you
can imagine]." What else, it doesn't matter, the hits
keep coming and I've literally listened to this twice a day
for over a week now. Fans of Om Myth really need to hear this
. . . and so does everybody else!
ARTISTS: Tarot or Aorta: Memories of a PRE Festival CD (THE
mania seems to have swept my mind lately, mainly due to the
massive DeStijl/Freedom From fest in Minneapolis. I didn't
go, but I feel like I did, having checked out the pics and
heard the reports, and seeing practically half the bands anyway
because they played Chicago on their way to or from. Then
there was that Wire festival at the Empty Bottle (see show
report), the Chicago Jazz Festival (see show
report), the Hideout Block Party (see show
report), Kentucky Ear and Eye Control, and etc. And now
it's time to review this new CD called Tarot or Aorta,
a remembrance of a festival past.
The Tora Tora Tora fest was
curated by Tom "Om Myth" Smith and held in Atlanta
in that strange year of 1996. No slouch of a festival, it
spanned three nights, and a whopping 25 bands from really
all over the place offer one full song or healthy excerpt
from their performance. The CD opens ceremonially with Bobby
Conn's rendition of "What Do You Like About Shabbat?,"
a nice call and response piece which mixes glam punk with
network TV showbiz and old-world tradition. From there on
the artists are presented in alphabetical order, and interesting
collusions emerge from this random approach. For one, all
present Electric Eels alumni have appeared by track 9. Without
Dave E. present, and the distinctive aura of 1975 being long
gone, things aren't quite the same. But they certainly do
still rock, and their cuts are better than a good 98% of today's
most hyped. The obscurely named Amoeba (raftboy) features
John Morton and Paul Marotta on guitars and rocks the hardest;
Brian McMahon and the Choke Cherries kind of sound like the
Replacements or something but squiggly synth makes it weirder
than that; and finally, (Original Members Of) Electric Eels
certainly rock and roll over, but replacement vocalist Christian
Brown really throws things off for me. Where is Dave E now?
Nobody seems to be talking about it.
Also within the first
third of the disc appear Accustat and Delarosa, two acts featuring
Atlanta native Scott Herren, who now records with some worldwide
IDM / trip-hop (??) reknown as Prefuse 73. Both cuts are excellent
ominous instrumental synth-rock, the Delarosa track especially
impressive due to the (uncredited) drummer. An improv by LaDonna
Smith and Davey Williams takes a while to get going, but builds
up a nice scratch-pile of sonic claws and gewgaws . . . Alva
does their weird chamber (of horrors) music thing . . . and
Dixie Blood Moustache, whoever that is / was ("Laura
Carter and Associates" is the only credit), also bring
some great instrumental scare-squall.
Arriving in the tenth position,
Eugene Chadbourne ushers in the second two thirds of the album
with a long & spacey piece of protest folk called "People
Will Vote For Whoever Gives Them Food." Sounds quite
pertinent seven years later in these dire political times,
and following the previous Accustat track "Fragile Fragile
USA," a theme emerges . . . even with his lowest approval
ratings ever and blatant disregard for the country's economy,
Bush still has a strong chance of getting reelected . . .
the end pretty much seems to be here . . . and Scott Herren
no longer lives in the USA.
Also, this track spreads out
and clears the air and cleanses the palate for a veritable
volley of trash rock that follows. The lewd Frosty are the
MVP of the whole comp, bringing down the house and starting
a momentum that never really slows. Following them, the mighty
Harry Pussy sound like some bizarre prog band . . . or even
quite a bit like Sonic Youth at their darkest and most splayed,
i.e. Sonic Death and Confusion Is Next .
. . Hercules follows, a short-lived Aaron Dilloway group.
They lay down a quick and quirky number, similar to Galen,
Dilloway still in his 'adept of Couch' phase . . . Then Leslie
Q plays some mean gutter folk that amazes me every time I
hear it by being just plain good, and then Liquorball lay
down a surprisingly involved sledge of tribal rock, and I
can almost imagine that THEY, not the Beastie Boys, have invited
the Tibetan monks onstage. Maybe it's because Bon Matin's
Ed Wilcox is on drums, but on that night Liquorball appear
to have fucked the sky indeed . . . . . Loren Mazzacane Connors
does an odd, gutsy solo piece where he plays guitar over his
own taped guitar accompaniment . . . Monotrona's track is
nuts. She plays clattering drums, grinding electronics, and
some seriously involved vocals. I think it's from before her
Korean superhero phase, and sounds more like Duotron, or at
least a one-woman-band version, which I guess would be Solotron.
Or no, it would be Monotrona! Never mind!
Mr. Quintron and Miss
Pussycat contribute a blown-out funk jam (the puppet show
didn't make it onto the disc), followed by Tom Smith's pick
of the festival, and possibly mine too: Quim Gremlin. Just
a killer track, which riffs further on the "fragile USA"
theme, as a dude off the street is spontaneously invited to
be the lead singer of the group. Quim Gremlin are already
a scary enough jammy cracker noise band as it is, but the
new recruit, Smokey D, seemingly taking his cues from the
clipped funk of the drummer, unleashes some basically wordless
falsetto howling, bringing a nice chunk of the fragile streets
right into the nightclub. It's a weird moment.
A good time for a wind-down,
but things stay pretty intense. Simeon Coxe + Obliterati is
next, the legendary Silver Apple and builder of oscillators
back from retirement, performing a more than capable version
of "A Pox Of You." Actually sounds a little discofied,
and in a good way! . . . . Splotch is one of those bands I've
never actually heard. Are they like Frosty? Are they part
of the "Miami scene"? Indeed, like Frosty, and a
whole lot of the other noise bands of today, they are kind
of a blues-rock band. Pretty good, pretty good, but not one
of the more psychotronic tracks on here . . . . . . Speaking
of psychotronic, Temple of Bon Matin are next, here a duo
of Ed Wilcox on drums and Linda Searnock on guitar. Wilcox
has already gotten his share of props for being amazing, but
how about Searnock on guitar?? Man, she's the real force behind
this track, and Wilcox just stays in the background on this
one, because he knows . . . . . . . . The Flying
Luttenbachers are next, with a track that was called "wildly
fractured," and oh man, is it. They actually stop after
a few seconds and start again. It cracks me up to hear Weasel's
voice, "Aaah I can't fuckin' believe this . . . yeah,
this is fucking choice, man . . . we're gonna keep tryin'
this shit 'til we get it right . . . " He sounds exactly
like freakin' (mid-period) Dennis Miller. They sort of
start up again, but someone's screaming into the mic and it's
louder than everything else (like that guy screaming "METALLICA!!"
on the America's Funnyman album), and Weasel's still
talking in the background . . . what the hell's going on here?
It sounds like it got 'post-produced' by someone accidentally
overdubbing chunks from a completely different show [actually
it's a 5-minute edit/composite/remix of the entire 15-minute
Speaking of the Miami
scene, To Live and Shave in L.A. are next, with a bleak bombed-out
track. Sounds like late-nite Shave. I like Tom Smith's live
singing, his voice really makes sense that way. Or maybe it's
because of the subtle pacing of Fred Ware III's "revox."
Or maybe it's just because Simeon Coxe himself is sitting
in with the band on this track (as well as Greg Chapman of
the aforementioned Quim Gremlin and of Ugly American magazine)
. . . . Jeez, one more track, and it's by the Zeek Sheck Care
Co., a real Golden Age of Chicago No Wave lineup: Ms. Sheck,
Monica Bou Bou, Bobby Conn, Chuck Falzone, and Bill Pissari,
plus "Solly," "the old lady," and "Zarconia
Sheck." (I don't know what golden age of what scene those
last three are from, but I'm guessing Zarconia is Zeek's sister.)
Track is . . . . silence? Nope, I just had to turn it up more.
Bit of a level discrepancy, perhaps . . . often an issue with
compilations. Weird spacy synth-infected helium song. Tumbly
and jammy, more low-key than what I usually expect from the
bombastic Chicago scene. Though I first heard of her in like
1996 this is somehow the first time I've ever actually heard
Sheck . . . and I like it! Chorus sounds like "Dave Geffen,
Dave Geffen, indeed she would . . ." Hmm . . . the song
is called "Hotel California."
Well, that's finally it
. . . . and this is much more than a mere rock compilation,
this is like a State of the Union address, a summary of the
increasingly tortuous and lowdown twists & turns some
of us have to take to find our freedom, with gnarly vibes
spilling onto the stage from the streets outside . . . . .
and the streets inside. (Know what I mean?)
LESTER KNOX: Put Your Faith in Gwod! CD (THE
in The Smack Shire's inaugural trifecta of handsome new music
compact discs. I should point out that all three titles are
presented in a gatefold card envelope kind of thing, really
like a miniature gatefold LP. It's a little taller than a
jewel box, so they stand out in your stacks and shelves. And
as for the music on this trio, what a nice mix of styles and
sounds. As Tom Smith said in a recent interview: ''These artists/recordings
test the mettle of the industry, period. Our releases will
either prove anathema or elixir. It's too broken to be repaired,
but perhaps the shattered undercarriage may be reanimated.
A bizarre industry would be preferable to the present, banal
Indeed! This one goes
into a completely different place: live religious radio broadcasts
from Valdosta, Georgia, all taped and archived off of live
shortwave radio transmissions back in the 1980s by Mr. Smith.
Definitely one for the Time Capsule; in fact, if a song or
two from here showed up as-is on the 1951 Smithsonian Anthology
of Folk Music, I don't think anyone would notice for awhile.
In some people's minds, time doesn't move near as fast as
it does on the calendar, and it sounds like Lester Knox and
Co. are still close enough to the 1950s to be able to pull
it off, and to get it broadcasted on a radio station to boot.
Listen to this CD for evidence; at 78 minutes, a whole overstuffed
sock drawer of deep South holy-man fever. Check out Robert
Duvall getting loose in The Apostle all you want,
that's okay, that was good, but after that go to Reverend
Knox for some of the real living thing.
LESTER KNOX: "One of the ultimate sonic
CAT IS AN ALIEN: El Segno LP (STARLIGHT FURNITURE CO.)
know much about these guys . . . [listening] . . . . and I
still don't! Hmm, it's really minimal . . . . just one guitar
/ tampura / Bertoia sculpture / you-tell-me droning softly,
unassuming and static, with some fuzzy spoken word coming
in after a while and making the whole thing crackle. How about
this for the next press kit: It's one thing to be a drone
rock group, but it's something else entirely to be a drone
rock duo of two brothers from Italy that come off like Mark
E. Smith fronting the Taj Mahal Travellers!
OF EXTERNAL SECRETION/DECAER PINGA: Tubular Bells LP (STARLIGHT
of my favorite records of 2003, this is a split LP in which
each artist offers a "no-instruments" cover of Mike
Oldfield's hippie/prog/muso fantasy epic Tubular Bells.
If "Tubular Bells" wasn't the title I probably wouldn't
have related it to the original at all, even when (on the
Glands side) Barbara Manning introduces various office supplies
just like Viv Stanshall introduced each instrument in the
(overdubbed) orchestra back in '72. The Glands' take is both
austere and severe, playful and foreboding. Hearing it played
with only tape gunk and home junk makes it sound more like
"Tubular Smells," especially on the Decaer Pinga
side with their creepy spine massage noise. Quite aromatic
smells too. If musos could be said to be "pricks,"
then this is prick decay indeed!
DEAD C: The Damned CD (STARLIGHT FURNITURE CO.)
was a pretty big Dead C fan in the mid-to-late 90s. The first
time I heard them was live in person, opening for Sonic Youth
in 1995, and they blew my mind with huge sad lost-seacoast
wall-of-sound noise-folk by which the very venue in which
Morris Day and The Time had taught the world to do "The
Bird" a mere 10 years earlier was transformed into a
floating hall of epic black mourning. After this show, I bought
up as many of their records as I could, listening to them
avidly for the next couple years, when they started transitioning
from a real rock band with songs into a worryingly 'anti-rock'
and completely improvised direction.
The 1997 album Tusk
has been, until now, their last domestic release, and
it also stands as the last time they truly rocked. Apparently
the album was almost wholly improvised, but at least they
were still improvising REAL SONGS. It was a pretty amazing
tightrope walk, check that one out if you haven't. But by
the time of their big self-titled and self-released double
CD from 2000, which is not coincidentally the last Dead C
album I sought out, they had completely given up playing songs
-- no vocals whatsoever -- and not much of anything else either.
That album has been described as "soporific," and
indeed, a lot of it sounds like the band was literally asleep
while the 'record' light was on! I missed New Electric
Music (2001) completely, but people like it, and some
may have even called it a "return to form."
Hell, they're saying that about
this one too! How many returns to form do these guys need?
Sure enough, track one "Truth" comes out rockin'
with an actual guitar riff, but jeez, it's barely rockin',
nothing like, say, the epic "Bitcher" from The
White House LP. So what if the other guitar is making
crazy feedback noises underneath the uninvolved riff? I actually
preferred the soporific stuff because at least they were there
100%. On here, they're stuck somewhere in between "soporific"
and "rocking" that ends up being kind of nowhere.
Like track 5, "Casino,"
on which Yeats pounds out his trademark funky backbeat while
the guitarists are just humming along with feedback. For a
good 20 minutes. They've been doing this since 1995 at least
-- see the last few minutes of "Air" on Operation
of the Sonne. It was pretty bracing then but to still
be doing it eight years later? Sorry, but it doesn't really
sound like "The Damned was recorded during sustained
and intensive sessions from 2001 through 2003." Sounds
more like this one took 20 minutes or so. Nothing wrong with
that, that's what the Dead C always did and it was classic,
I just don't know if I believe the press release. Anyway,
not a bad album, but not a great one either.
here for special feature.
COMET CREW: DCC America LP (TROUBLEMAN
figured more people would be talking about how killer this
release is. Then again, I never talk to people. Four hardcore
hip-hop death tunes, recorded in 1983 in New York City by
a crew of multiracial artists / punks / b-boys. A lot of this
sounds like Wolf Eyes, seriously. Plus Rammelzee's already
cut-up texts get cut up further into clouds of echo and the
beat don't stop even as the war death sounds disrupt. Better
than Schooly D! Only warning is that it's short -- apparently
this is Death Comet Crew's entire discography, only 4 tracks
at about 20 minutes, pressed on a 45 RPM 12-inch, or as a
CD EP. Still well worth it!
LUTTENBACHERS: Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder CD (TROUBLEMAN
Weasel's going nuts and getting all sci-fi conceptual on our
ass. These liner notes even contain a handy 'story cycle'
for the last six Luttenbachers albums, culminating with this
release, in which the Earth explodes (track #1) and the band
mascot robot reassembles itself in the wreckage, represented
by remaining tracks #2-7. The liner notes describe these tracks
as representing "the increasing complexity of cellular
reactions leading to the creation of an enormous sentient
creature." Track 7 is an epic called "Rise of the
Iridescent Behemoth," twenty painstaking minutes long
in order to fully depict the Lovecraftian rise of this "horrible
planetoid being." Weasel Walter metaphorically reinvents
the world as a giant robot that looks like a combination of
Galactus and . . . himself! Those Jack Kirby via Skin Graft
roots are showing.
As for the music, this outing
was composed and performed entirely by WW, doing all the crazy
overdubs and one-man banding it. This means that he can finally
achieve the desired complexity without having to stress out
and teach and drill musicians, at the same time devising a
sci-fi storyline that explains his music's devotion to complexity
better than ever. So it's kind of a breakthrough album, and
I'll be damned if this doesn't sound like Weasel's most loose-limbed
and dare I say PLAYFUL set since, well, the Live on WNUR
7-inch! The most obvious example is "kkringg number two,"
which sounds like Magma and the Magic Band having F-U-N together.
Speaking of Magma and the Magic
Band, it is kind of funny how this album's press release reads
"There isn't another album like Systems Emerge From
Complete Disorder on this planet," when it is in
fact quite easy to play "spot the influence" throughout.
For example, I can spot Varese from a mile away, especially
in the woodblock-driven percussion thunder on "Thorned
Lattice." The overwhelmingly large "Rise of the
Iridescent Behemoth" lays down endless roiling piano
-- at first I spotted Cecil Taylor, of course, but then a
few minutes later I noticed that Conlon Nancarrow was in there
At the same time, this
track is an extremely intense landmark epic, and in fact it's
true, there isn't another album like this, because this particular
synthesis of specific daunting influences has not yet been
so precisely attempted under the aegis of science fiction
rock. However, I am suspicious that, besides the guitars,
Weasel did everything on a Synclavier or some shit . . . which
would make it kind of similar to one album: Frank Zappa's
Jazz From Hell (1986)!
ERRATA: At Crystal Palace LP (TROUBLEMAN
first album Other Animals didn't really register
with me. The one time I heard it (friend's house), it was
just clang bounce clang yip! and repeat about 17 times somewhere
in the background. Then I saw them live and I just thought
they were great -- tons of energy, audience dancing naturally,
and the singer knocked me out with her charisma and her 'having
an excited conversation' singing style. I figured that over
the course of creating an album and touring a lot they had
grown into a powerful style and the next album would be the
one to get, so I bought this the week it came out, got it
home, put it on, and . . . well . . . it's kinda clang bounce
clang yip! and repeat all over again. And now my favorite
Erase Errata song ("Marathon," see next review)
is one from Other Animals and it doesn't sound like
the live show, so who knows? There are quite a few hooks on
here that sounded good the second time, and I like that song
on side two where the band stops and she sings "alive,
alive, alive, alive" and then the following unaccompanied
ultra-tin metal guitar solo really rips.
ARTISTS: Troubleman Sampler CD (TROUBLEMAN
know, I always figured that Mike Simonetti and the bands he
put out were all bad-asses. More bad-ass than me, anyway.
Their roots were bad-ass hardcore and hip hop, with a backbone
of metal and a soul full of the great black music (soulfunkjazzetc).
I even said in a previous feature in this magazine that Troubleman
was signing every rock band left that wasn't emo.
Of course, I said this
before I had actually heard too many of the bands on his roster.
This sampler allows me to hear a whole bunch of 'em . . .
. . and some of 'em are pretty emo! There's even one song
that is unabashedly Pavement-esque indie-pop (The Walkmen).
As for that unmistakable emo twang, it can be detected in
Song of Zarathustra (emo in that Drive Like Jehu kind of way),
Metamatics (if James Chance were emo -- not too bad, but how
many more "not too bad" tracks on compilation CDs
do we need?), The Panthers (more Emo Like Jehu -- the song
is even called "Are You Down?," ugh), Kepler (TOTAL
emo name, and, I shit you not, their song is actual slowcore),
and Milky Wimpshake (they sound almost exactly like their
name, like R.E.M. at their twee-jangle peak . . . . chorus
sounds like "meow, meow, meow," yikes). Pussycat
Trash also sound exactly like their name. They're not emo,
they're pretty good trash-rock. Not quite as lowdown as something
on Bulb Records, but not too bad, and the song is only like
1 minute long.
And really, every other
band on here is at least good, and some are excellent. The
Glass Candy opener I didn't want to like because they seemed
so new-posing-as-no wave trendy, and I didn't like the first
few times I heard it because it actually sounded like dumb
bar rock, but this is like the fourth time I've heard it and
my goodness, I like it. Because it IS dumb bar rock, and I'm
intrigued by how the band intentionally doesn't take it very
far. It's like dumb bar rock except both the keyboard player
and the bassist couldn't make it to practice, and the guitarist
forgot his really good distortion pedal.
Pixeltan I know nothing
about, but I really like their song. Another woman on vox,
but more breathy and soothing than Glass Candy, tweaked ever
so slightly by pitch shifter, and then, where the guitar solo
might normally go, mercilessly cut-up and randomized. Next
track is a third 'girl singer band' in a row, and I like this
one better than Glass Candy as well: Erase Errata, here remixed
by Adult. (Yet another 'girl singer band,' but not on this
track.) The song is called "Marathon," and it's
from their first album Other Animals. Really sweet
synth pulse-hooks and it's probably the most chill (and one
of the most melodic) vocals I've heard from Jenny Hoysten.
The chorus goes "The winner comes in second place,"
and just today I was thinking, "That could be about Gore
vs. Bush," because my wife and I, also just today, were
talking about how, for the 2000 Presidential Election, the
polling company hired by the Florida state government erroneously
declared 173,000 voters to be felons, making it illegal by
Florida law for them to vote. Of course, in states where it
is legal for felons to vote, they vote 90% Democrat . . .
I'm not saying that this large-scale error happened in order
to rig the election . . . but the erring polling company WAS
hired by the governer of Florida, George W. Bush's brother
Jeb (working closely with Secretary of State Katherine Harris),
so YEAH, these people are crooks -- does anyone remember ENRON???
Does anyone remember the Haliburton-engineered War in Iraq
that is STILL GOING ON RIGHT NOW?? Remember when you went
and protested the pending War in Iraq for one or two days,
and it felt good, and then George W. Bush publicly dismissed
the millions of worldwide protesters with three words ("I
respectfully disagree") and one week later the government
started bombing and we realized that IT DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER
because CROOKS DON'T LISTEN.
The Rogers Sisters are
not bad at all either with a nervy pop song that uses a classic
songwriting technique, the verse in which the song title is
repeated at the end of each line. Here it's "I dig a
hole." But it sounds like a guy singing -- I thought
the Rogers Sisters really were all girls. (I just found out
they're two girls and one guy.) Clean punky guitar sounds
like vintage B-52s.
Then, Wolf Eyes sound
like pretty much the best band ever, with the song "Dead
Hills II," which is also on their picture-disc/CD Dead
Hills, except I SWEAR the version on here is a remix.
At least I find myself hearing more than usual what each guy
is doing: Dilloway's playing great straight doom guitar, Olson's
clipping around in the air above it, while Young brings the
beat, the bleep, the funk (yep), the slow black cloud that
stays. And the always amazing vocals. Mike McGuirk in the
Francisco Bay Guardian: "Young is the best vocalist
in music today."
Orthrelm of course are
great (I can really only pay attention to them for about a
minute or so before just giving up, but they're still great),
the Flying Luttenbachers are on here with "Infektion"
which is sort of like the 'hit' off of their Infection
and Decline album, ridiculously complex in a goofy way
that is almost 'hooky,' Subtonix are good gothic
sort of punk, actually like the second coming of 45 Grave,
except the production is better, and so is the singer. The
Lack may be a "screamo" band, but they deliver a
very powerful performance and I have to say "hats off"
while asking "Blood Brothers who?"
ABCs are real good
and stand out from anything emo, and not just because they
have an accordion in the group, but because they do a very
mechanical process-oriented version of minimal / maximal prog.
Do check out these guys. And do check out Touchdown, with
a fine variation on the practically ubiquitous 'brutal prog
duo' concept; the complexity is there, and it's played by
that brutal combination of bass and drums, but both instruments
are produced and played with a more dry, clean tone. Same
amount of aggression with less feedback and distortion --
a surprisingly novel idea.
Red Monkey's track
isn't too special musically, more off-kilter Touch & Jehu
post-math-rock, but the lead vocal is pretty nice and deadpan
(another "girl singer" saves the day). The original
version of Erase Errata's "Marathon" is on here
too. I didn't get into Other Animals when I heard
the whole thing but this is a great song. You can really hear
how the three instrumentalists combine their minimal parts,
with guitarist Sara Jaffe's single-note melody riffs really
standing out. However, the earlier Adult. remix
seemed to really accent the vocal melody.
Ah, and then Numbers.
I didn't think I'd like this band, and when I saw 'em live
this summer I didn't like 'em. (See show
report.) However, "Insomnia," their short closer
on here, I kinda like. It's got this near-helium dweebiness
that I just didn't catch at the live show. (Granted, I was
not that close to the stage.) I'll give 'em one more chance
. . .
CONDITIONING: I'm In The Mountains, I'll Call You Next Year
LP (WHITE DENIM)
speed dirge. Stopped keeping track of Acid Mothers Temple?
Mainliner too monochromatic? High Rise left you feeling low?
Well, why cross the pond? Sit back and turn on the Air Conditioning,
the skull-wrapping sounds of some all-American yankees going
to WORK. Judging from the picture that graces the handsome
inner gatefold (a gatefold?? nice!), this monster band is
two guitars and drums -- maybe this is what the Dead C would
sound like nowadays if they'd gotten meaner instead of sleepier.
I don't know, one or two or all of these guys used to be in
a more straight-up noise group called An Oxygen Auction, remember
them? This is total speculation, but I think they were saying
something to themselves like "I love gnarling out with
all this crazy noise but why can't we rock out with a drummer
like we're in fucking Hawkwind?," and then they heard/saw
Lightning Bolt and Sightings and were given the KEY. And they
were able to use this key without having to MAKE A COPY. (Get
my metaphor?) Also, their particular knowledge of black metal
is tastefully assimilated (check the vocals on the third and
last track, "Citizen's Band/I'm In The Mountains, I'll
Call You Next Year"). Pretty fucking heavy overall --
one of the best new names on the 'heavy' scene out there in
2003 besides the usuals (Wolf Eyes, the aforementioned L.B.
& S., bands with Matt Pike in them, etc.).
ARTISTS: Closet Full Of Clothes LP (WHITE
monumentally colored vinyl! The White Denim label does a lot
of colored vinyl, and this is actually one-half rosy pink
and one-half white! What was I saying about candy? This one
looks like an all-day sucker. And, the record comes with a
crossword puzzle! Starting things off is Chicago act My Name
Is Rar-Rar. At first I'm like "These guys actually remind
me of Harry Pussy" but then J. Hischke's utterly retarded
synth bass changes that, as do the tortuous prog guitar lines
Small Rocks I've never heard
of, but it's electronic, almost dancey spooked X-Files music,
actually better than that might make it sound. From the UK,
it seems. Pearls and Brass I've heard of a little bit but
I don't know much -- they do "I'm Not Living, I'm Just
Waiting In Line," and it's weird -- kind of a blues-rocker!
Can't say it's my thing, really, but at least someone is just
playing roots guitar without it being part of some Wire Magazine
and/or Drag City-approved lifestyle. Nice Nice: their debut
7-inch, also on White Denim, got reviewed twice twice last
ish . . . here they contribute three songs. Again, they indulge
in some 1980s vintage "Downtown NYC avant-funk"
stylings, and somehow make it sound better than it should.
Black Eyes is next, and I think
this is the band on Dischord or whatever . . . maybe you're
like me and decided you probably didn't like 'em because they
stole their name from the Black Dice / Wolf Eyes collab, but
this is my first time hearing 'em and they aren't too bad.
Vocalist might be a little too trad screamo but the guitars
and drums wreak slow lurching havoc. I probably still won't
buy the album. Hair Police you've all heard of . . . they're
immediately killer with a weird noisy band-fighting-its-way-out-of-buzzing-sculpture-jail
jam -- weird vocals make the track sound like it was mastered
at the wrong speed -- and then it just thrashes out for dear
life -- long track too, almost like a whole EP . . . Door
Mouse are another from the 'I have no idea' file . . . more
one-man noisy electronica . . . a lot of samples for that
'moving towards (or away from) Negativland' feel . . . Mammal
you've all heard of, his track on here is substantially quieter
than the preceding one and it's ill, sounds like some far-away
sheet metal storm or Sightings record on crappy car stereo
as car drives past on nearby overpass . . . let me go turn
it up . . . oh yeah, that's Mammal, brain-firing slam codes
as always . . . . . . . . . .
Well yeah, real nice 'thrash
psychedelia' comp, pretty much worth it for that colored vinyl
and the cover art by "E*Rock" alone but practically
none of the music disappoints either.
7-inch (WHITE DENIM)
COLORED VINYL!!! This is actually some disgusto vinyl -- last
issue Barnacled got the "Is that puke on the cover?"
award, and now they get the "Is that puke on my vinyl?"
award. What's the deal with puke and Barnacled? Maybe something
to do with being seasick? Anyway,
the music: if you recall I was kind of undecided about Barnacled's
CD last ish -- while it was not without its bracing innovation,
some of it seemed too 'studio Klezmer' and 'Zorn game piece'
and 'more post than PRE' for me to give in completely. So
this 7-inch is kind of make or break for these guys, huh.
Well, I got it in the mail yesterday, but then today it got
'made' for me before I could even think about it getting 'broke,'
because I heard it at work on WFMU's
live webstream and I was like, "Damn, who's this? This
is kinda nice." It turned out to be side A here, "Vulcanizing
Society," and it's really good, like Ginger Baker's Air
Force jamming over a loop that Conrad Schnitzler sent 'em.
Side B starts kind of fancifully, for tuned glass or something,
but it gets overtaken by electrosplunge, concussion, and horn
rock. Ends up sounding like . . . . . . . . . . Ginger Bakers'
Air Force jamming over a loop that Conrad Schnitzler sent
'em! Good record! (Wow, I just read on the White
Denim site that on Halloween 2003 Barnacled played a NINE
HOUR LONG SET!)
WORM OF ERROR: Feelin' Fine 7-inch (FAT
WORM OF ERROR)
is my sonic introduction to these Western Mass. freaks who
have been making the rounds. According to the accompanying
letter (no press release!): "Oh, & Fat Worm of Error
is that band that has five members, some may have or had connections
to Caroliner, Bromp Treb, Angst Hase Pfefer Nase, Deerhoof,
Commode Minstrels in Bullface & B.S.C." First track
quickly arrests with a skipping-CD type riff that is broken
up by real-time helium-influenced vocals. Side two is immediately
more splattery, with instrumentation that seems to be electric
whoopee cushion (through a Marshall stack), crashing automobile
(acoustic), and drums (played really crazy). Track two is
a little quieter, more eerie, while track three splatters
again. Smells a lot like the hugely and understandably influential
Caroliner, right down to the ragged 'n' way hard to read insert,
but the aroma is quite pleasant, and in no way spoilt. To
quote a certain Mr. Abplanalp: "the caroliner roots are
showing but not in a pandering or anxious type of seep or
WORM OF ERROR: Summer Mixtape 2003 CS (YEAY!
Nice tape case: the cover has no card insert, it's
just painted yellow with see-through 'eyeballs'. Music streams
along, a song here and there, and lots of slurpage and bleepage.
Gleeping electronics get hi-jacked by exploding clusters that
are sometimes identifiable as guitar, bass, and drums. Vocalist
knows better than to overdo it or try to keep up, so he just
kind of cuckoos every now and then, and does it well. Absolutely
whacked song structures; they work hard on this. At 40 minutes,
this tape is an excellent introduction to the band.
WORM OF ERROR: I think that's the singer in the middle.
INSIDE THE SUN: So that I may not die, while I am still alive
CS (YEAY! CASSETTES)
up for this release, which kind of blew my mind. Dark Inside
The Sun is the solo performance project of a Knoxville, Tennessee
resident named Steve Gigante, who has an interesting pedigree,
having played with Brother JT, Deerhoof, and 7 Yr. Rabbit
Society. And, when he plays solo under the name Dark Inside
The Sun, he does athis one-man tribal freak-punk explosion,
playing drums and guitar at the same time like he's trying
to singlehandedly recreate the Cromagnon album. Kind of inexplicable
and invigorating. And, there's another side to his coin, some
songs "recorded in his van," a fragile & haunting
'folk song' side, which sounds like one of the few legitimate
heirs to the Jandek throne. Dig it!
ARTISTS: Rap Pouch 3" CDR (BREAKING
another excellent 3" CDR! This one's a comp / label /
region / 'scene' sampler of sorts, yes, it's that Fat Worm
/ West Mass / Bromp Treb / Yeay! scene, CAROLINER EAST! Well,
maybe not consciously, but even if it is conscious, they can
hang. Lotsa littl'uns here, like first four are 1:16, 1:01,
1:40, 1:35, :57, and so on, with the longest track of the
15 being a whole 1:43! First two tracks are by Anthro Rex
and then Diagram A, and they sound like the same thing and
remind me of Caroliner side project Rubber O Cement. Then
Fat Worm of Error themselves contribute track 3, and they
KIND OF sound like a 'rock band' in this context! Great little
gibbering cuckooing track, better still than the stuff on
their 7-inch. They're getting that 'we're trying to play our
song but our whole band is falling down the stairs' vibe just
right. It's 1:40, the second longest track on here. Next track,
by Moxy Van Float, might just be free folk! Or maybe even
twee pop, with some of that Bay Area acid gnarl, although
I have no idea where Moxy Van Float is from. Next is X.0.4.,
with some mean-sounding noise-prov beat-down, but it's good
too! Ah shit, it goes on, I'm not gonna track by track it,
but it's a damn fine introduction to this particular Western
Massachusets freak scene. Here's the rest of the players:
6. Barn Owl (aggressive scrapy 'prov, a little punkier/noisier
than like Bob Marsh but only a little), 7. Noise Nomads (they're
on tour right now I think, Fat Worm also toured already, touring
is good, they've got the right idea . . . track is some children's
record samples + gnarly codeine gibberish that sounds kinda
like Volvox), 8. Tumble Cat Poof Poofy Poof (includes accordion
and triangle but it's noise, really), 9. Steve Zultanski (weirdo
poof pop), 10. Josh Burkett (hey isn't he "Joshua,"
that folk guy??), 11. Dekin Squad Buttfire as 'Destructive
Blast' (I think I'm spelling "Dekin" right, it's
kinda hard to read the handwriting . . . their song is called
"Tedious Buttscrew"), 12. DEFNEG (with a noise-rock
rethinking of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" called
"Shine on Acid," NO, none of these people have done
acid, have they???), 13. Belltone Suicide (or maybe
it's Belltane), 14. BenGeorge7 (profane and perverted singer
/ songwriter), and 15. Bromp Treb Slaw Bag (you remember this
guy, I reviewed him last ish when he was called Bromp Treb
Mind Phantom and Bromp Treb Sound System). So, if you like
spastic noise buttflop, you should really look into obtaining
this 3" inch CDR comp! It may be cheap or even free,
but it won't be around forever.