Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holy fuck....

...does this blog have shitty writing. It's so pretentious... so novice rock critic... I can't believe this contrived nonsense is actually a product of mine. Why does everything I ever write seem so good when I'm writing it but so fucking obnoxious a month later?

I have a new blog. So far it's not a piece of shit dangling into the mouth of literature:


Saturday, September 11, 2010

James Blood Ulmer - Black Rock

Hey, how would you like to be FUNKED in the ass? Well if the answ

No, no... that will simply not do. We are all mass-attending, traditionalist, nuclear family suburbanites with strong Christian morals and family values in mind. Allow me to rephrase:

Hey, how would you liked to be FUNKED in the consenting, virginal, recently wed vaginal canal in the missionary position beneath the covers with the lights off with candles lit and procreation in mind? Well if the answer is y

Actually, that whole peel sounds way more condescending than I imagined it would. Sadly, it's been tattooed on the lascivious breast of the internet forever and ever, with no hope for an E-mastectomy in the near future. Or in layman's terms: this entry has been rotting in my post queue for way too long now, and (as usual) my motivation to keep this blog afloat is delicate as a soap bubble, I feel like beginning a complete revision may totally shatter the illusion of will necessary for it's completion. On with the show, then...
[strike]So here today, we are here today to speak ever so highly of the work, today, of [/strike]

I'm tired of strike through text.

Anyway, today, we're not only celebrating the fact that I finally found a cheap copy of this LP in a record store, but the fact that it's an awesome slab of music by pro-badass and talented songwriter and guitarist, James "Blood" Ulmer. Also, is the "Blood" part of his name hyphenated? I feel like it's never a consistent enough notation for me to make conclusion on. Anyway (again), if you're unfamiliar with the banquet of baby makin' grooves James "Pus" Ulmer, his unique mixture of abstract jazz, funk, punk-energy, and caustic rock that both predated no wave and went along for the ride is something I'd recommend to just about anyone who's stumbled upon this blog. Black Rock is the second album in the historical anomaly now known as "the Great Columbia Records Disaster" in which Columbia signed Ulmer for three whole albums of avant-garde jazz/funk/punk nonsense that sold a total of 5 units(!). An unmitigated disaster, indeed.

Shamelessly bunk statistics aside, this is probably Ulmer's most accessible work, especially with the inclusion of the teeth-grittingly "UHN!" laden title track and the cheesy-yet-undeniably-catchy gospel-esque rock ballad "Family Affair", sung by both Ulmer and Irene Datcher. Aside that, the rock and funk fixations are definitely bumped up a notch here from his past work, with Amin Ali slappin' and poppin' the living fuck out of his bass throughout the 9 tracks and Ulmer bringing more guitar bombast than ever. That said, the technical proficiency on display here is still mind numbing, the melodics stil har, the rhythms still poly, and the instrumentals still ripe for gettin' down to.
I'm not sure if I'd call this his best work, but then... who actually cares what I consider to be his crowning achievement? The important thing is, this, and everything from Tales Of Captain Black to Odyssey are fantastic, and worth tracking down (or downloading considering how difficult most of them are to come by). Actually, everything after Odyssey might be fantastic, too, but I haven't heard them. I know you're too scared to go deep into the twisted labyrinth of cacophony known to some as James Blood Ulmer's back catalog without my stamp of approval, but fret not - I will be with you in spirit.

Can we all agree this would be side splittingly hilarious if I used strikethrough text on that last part?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sonny Sharrock - Monkey Pockie Boo

Are my reviews getting too reviewery?

Early in my career as a word alignment artist, I penned a lavishly post-modern review of Sonny Sharrock's 1969 ethereally transcendent debut LP, Black Woman - an timeless snapshot of jazz and flamenco deconstructionism I've become irreparably enchanted by since my discovery (on my own, that is, and before anyone else would even give this stunning record the time of day, ha ha!). Trekking through the remainder of Sharrock's largely approachable and enchanting catalog of soundscapes, I've sdsfg5

You see? That's what I mean by too reviewery. Wordy, self-assured, wiser-than-thou, garbage. And it's an unconscious thing, too. Ugh. Let me see if I can meet up with these pretensions, but at the other end of the spectrum. So here we go: equidistant to the center of normalcy as the above paragraph, just in the opposite direction:
Sunny ShaROCK is KUHra-zy! Lots of wEiRd noises and big ol' screamy AHHHH parts and boop-bop drums going slappety-slap with the woodle wo00dle string thing in the 1st track and oh MY GOD the BEST pa

Maybe both of these are sort of exaggerated a fraction, though.
Alright, that's enough amusement of any kind. We are here to do business like adults. Adult men, to be precise, as women are inferior in every way. In my travels, I've discovered that, much like every artist ever, Sonny Sharrock has a few lame albums in his musical armory; namely Paradise and the super rare follow-up, Dance With Me Montana. The former is slick-as-oil fusion-esque bullshit with big clean-as-a-whistle funk grooves and keyboards providing a backdrop for Sonny to get quasi-nonsensical over and Linda to sing quasi-nonsensically with. It's truly a bizarre release when you consider it's attempted commercialization leaves most of the elements that made the first two unprofitable intact, just smeared with high-gloss resin. Oh, and the latter has a silly painting of Sonny doing a panged Eric Clapton face on the cover. I haven't heard it, actually, but it's probably bad. Alright fine I'll listen to it before I say I hate it.
Monkey Pockie Boo is the cryptically/retardedly titled follow-up to the aforementioned LP, and is a rather different affair, with all the melodic, flamenco-esque guitar flourishes kidnapped, brutalized, and hastily concealed beneath a soft bed of soil and decomposing leaves alongside a highway completely depleted in favor of a rickety mess of comparatively standard free jazz noise bursts. No negative implications, though, because despite it's corresponding "normalcy", it's still what you'd call a classic (because it's really easy to use this as a justification of one's approval) of near comical AGGRESSION. This album will flog you senseless, in other words.

Just like Black Woman, this album is pretty damn short, and frankly, that's the way I typically enjoy my albums - just barely cracking the 35 minute mark. Why? Perhaps my IQ is remarkably low and I get intimidated by double albums half the time. "27th Day" is a hair over 17 minutes, bustin' in dis bitch with a clunky, brooding scrape of the bass punctuated by Linda's wails and most tubular of all, a kazoo/slide-whistle. The moments where the kazoo harmonizes with the upward sweep of Linda's vocals are truly awesome, and provide one of the very few moments of clarity in the album. Unlike most free jazz releases where the band begins by playing a motif, the scratchy bass and the relatively composed vocal emissions are about as close as you get - heck, the band even returns to this "motif" at the songs conclusion.
"Soon" is the real gem here as far as I'm concerned, which begins with an unaccompanied vocal melody that could bust into gospel at any second, but instead slams a crowbar at your head with a startling burst of improv-noise from all involved. The aggression displayed on this song is ludicrous, with the percussion at it's busiest, Sonny's shards of guitar coming across as more blistering noise than fragmented abstractions, and Linda losing the fuck out of her shit all over the place. For 7 minutes! Great stuff, and it makes the closer, a title track, sound like an exercise in restraint in comparison. The two (Linda and Sonny) start chanting, and everything stays relatively grounded despite the frantic percussion. It's good, but I'm tired and don't feel like writing anymore today, so just trust me here.
Sorry for the lame rapidshituponmyface link (seriously, why hasn't the galaxy embraced mediafire?), but I'm not at my laptop right now. Expect a new link, soon. "SO HEY", you interject most rudely, "HOWZ ZHIS STACK UP TO BLACK WOMAN, LOL?" This is probably the more celebrated, reputation-packed affair, but I'd take Black Woman over this most days of the week. Not "any day", since Monkey Pockie Boo is really good. No sir. But most days, sure. Black Woman presented a unique vision that sadly was never expanded upon or even heard by most jazz-wads of the era (as far as I've heard), which sorta blows considering how beautiful, chaotic, and mesmerizing it is as a whole. I'd love to hear more artists meld the flamenco-esque guitar virtuosity with angular, aggressive guitar improv, busy percussion, and such blaring vocalesce.
Sadly, this would never be.

Until I took up the challenge, that is.

No wait, I've never played an instrument.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Khanate - s/t

It's about time I shared an unusual little personality disorder with you, the presumed reader: annually, if not bi-annually, I slip off my avant-dork coil and recede into the most harmless cache of my music collection - namely, a stew of nostalgia-overloading pop punk, ska-punk, and indie rock. In this exclusive time span, I become what the snottiest of the hipster cognoscenti might consider a music wastrel, jiggling my angsty hindquarters to the emotionally resonant crash-n-scream of The Broadways, Discount (who I actually did a post on), Archers Of Loaf, Lucero, Defiance Ohio, Assorted Jelly Beans, Crimpshrine, Scared Of Chaka, Common Rider, and even a brief encounter or two with fucking Alkaline Trio (I know, shut up).

Now I know what you're thinking: "Steve, who the fuck cares? Why be embarrassed by anything you listen to (except Alkaline Trio, you giant vagina)? Music is there to be enjoyed, not for status" - and you'd be right! There's no reason to be embarrassed by anything I enjoy, but that's what hits me as so fucking strange - it's not that I'm embarrassed to tell people I like this stuff, it's the fact that I DON'T EVEN REMOTELY LIKE half of this music when I'm not in the aforementioned pop punk/ska/folk punk/indie phase. Confused? I am too! There are a handful of artists I flog in these yearly dark ages I would defend any day of the week (The Broadways, Operation Ivy, Discount, early American Steel, Pavement, Boris The Sprinkler, J Church etc...), but then there's the other stuff - the stuff that has no real musical merits that I know sucks ass even when I'm listening to it heavily. This category includes The Lawrence Arms, Doughboys, Fifth Hour Hero, The Lillingtons, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, Built To Spill, and a zillion other lame-beyond-comprehension musical nadirs who happen to write a few super catchy tunes in relentlessly stupid fashion.

Why bring this up now? To explain the lack of entries, primarily. I started this blog to detail my adventures in the wild-n-woolly - free jazz, RIO, no wave, ethno-whatever, psychedelic, noise rock, just plain noise, drone, lost gems, etc - while keeping the rest of my library on the sidelines. I'm beginning to rethink this stance, though - why halt entries completely just because I'm not getting a headache from some Brotzmann squawk or Solmania shriek? THINGS ARE GONNA CHANGE AROUND HERE - just not right now, since I'm totally diggin' some Sun Ra as I type this.
Anyway, now that we got that drivel out of the way, let's talk about the album above (way above) - New York's drone/doom juggernaut Khanate's debut. Back in late 2006, I was wading through the gloomy jungle of doom and sludge metal (of which I'd only made excursions into via Dystopia and Man Is The Bastard previously) when I read a largely negative review of Khanate's self-titled debut on Teufel's Tomb (a metal review site I have a history with). It essentially dismissed the record as too slow and too heavy for staff member Double D's to enjoy. Being a sucker for the utmost extremes of any genre, I excitedly downloaded a sample track, the suffocatingly dense and sick-as-a-mutha' "Skincoat" - a near 10 minutes of feedback, disjointed sub-Burning Witch riffery, and some of the most harrowing and utterly disturbed vocals I've ever heard. After the 9 minutes and 40 seconds elapsed, I was fucking SOLD and hurriedly ordered a copy o'er the web.

No surprise, the rest of the album was just as good, albeit far less accessible than the sample track (if you can believe that after hearing it). The guitarwork is the cornerstone here, alternating between crushing, sub-zero BPM riffage, bursts of feedback, passages of echo-y twang a la Hex-era Earth, and even a few malnourished, skeletal, and quiet melodies rendered even creepier by the juxtaposition of a faceless bass growl rumbling in the distance. Pretty much any Khanate enthusiast will tell you the real hook here is former O.L.D mouthpiece Alan Dubin's unbelievably psychotic yelps and sputtering whispers, and I'd have to agree. If you're familiar with the aforementioned grind band's Old Lady Drivers LP, imagine the cartoonish psychobabble elicited at a third of the speed and heavily enunciating quasi-abstract lyrical blurbs of pain, hatred, and unconscious insanity. Throughout the album, little whispered words are looped and distorted to great effect amongst the quieter portions, especially the three-and-a-half minute interlude, "Torching Koroviev". Also, no covers of Eric Clapton's "Cocaine"*.

The 4th track (of five) is perhaps my favorite, albeit not a track I've been man enough to listen to outside the context of the album. "Under Rotting Sky" is perhaps one of the most deadening pieces of music I've ever heard, with the riffage slowing to such a crawl that it forgoes any semblance of melody or rhythm towards the conclusion and edges close to pure, discomforting, abstraction. Alan's crazed exclamations about strangulation of himself and another with a "blanket of you" escalate this track into a number one hit for cocktail parties. Try listening to this album while biking through your quiet little town at midnight. It's funny how vulnerable it can make you feel.

Hey, I have a fun idea! To get all Julian Cope/Pitchfork-y for a second, let's make a pretentiously artsy and largely visual interpretation of this album's sound. Okay, here goes: a rundown farmhouse in a barren field. A series of mindless daily endeavors delivered with unhealthy precision. A sole inhabitant falling through a delirium of anti-social anxieties and insatiable obsessions. A corpse redressed and positioned at a dinner table. Self loathing complimenting a god complex. A massive UFO abducting all the world's styrofoam before jettisoning into the nearest star. A single woman breaking the heel off her designer high heels. A sentient pineapple. A boxer accused of

In conclusion, I will never make any money through artistic means in this lifetime.

(*Also, this isn't a wAcKy, RaNdOm, quip, O.L.D do a cover of "Cocaine" on their first album)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sonic Youth - Confusion Is Sex

To quote Bruce "The Employer" Springsteen: "a man who turns his back on his blog just ain't no good". As such, I will no wait ju

So yesterday I had a near unfathomably dull and seemingly interminable dream segmented into literally dozens of loosely connected "acts", each of which would require at least one paragraph to detail and one additional paragraph to describe the excruciating levels of boredom associated. It all started with a blindfolded car ride to the envelope factory, when suddenly t

Have you ever taken a dump so tremendous that you craved the cold embrace of an earthen plot? If not, well lemme tell you, mister, the

I think we can all agree that the above are not the most engaging opening lines for a blog entry, and since I have close to nothing interesting to say, let's move directly into the actual content.
As weird as this may seem, I got into Sonic Youth all those years back through a hastily conceived research paper on the New Yawk No Wave scene for an 11th grade English assignment. At the time, I was reveling deep in the world of post-punk snob-rock and spiraling towards it's ultimate artistic conclusion in the fields of punk-funk and mutant disco. No Wave, as it was, became a short lived obsession of mine, and I ended up hording every DNA, Gynecologists, Theoretical Girls, Friction, and Lydia Lunch associated hunk of laughably overserious shit within reach. It wasn't until this brush with research fields of the utmost prestige (ie: wikipedia) that I'd heard a whole lot about Sonic Youth's involvement in the scene, or at least, Thurston Moore's.
The Noise Festival was an influential festival of art noise music curated by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth at the art space White Columns in June 1981. Sonic Youth made their first live appearance at this show. Each night three to five acts performed, including Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatman, Jeffrey Lohn, Dog Eat Dog, Built on Guilt, Rudolph Grey, the Avant Squares, Mofungo, Red Decade, Robin Crutchfield's Dark Day, Ad Hoc Rock, Intense Molecular Activity, Smoking Section, Chinese Puzzle, Avoidance Behaviour, and Sonic Youth.
Good enough context for me to take the plunge. After all, quite a few people consider 1983's Confusion Is Sex the last legitimate No Wave release (which is not something I necessarily agree with, as I'm not one of those elitist dorks who claim that any artist replicating a genre who's scene has long since expired to be illegitimate).
To those who haven't heard this album, there are a number of ways I could describe it, including Glenn Branca orchestrating an indie rock unit. That said, this is a seriously art-damaged mess, severely de-& re-tuned, with odd little inconclusive lyrical quips meandering hazily out of the disaffected maws of Thurston and Kim (who remarkably, sounds even more atonal than she does now). As I recall, there is no studio wizardry or effects pedals at play here (aside the distortion of course), just a mass of otherworldy tunings and heavily prepared guitars that often take on a metallic, clanking, percussive edge.

"So how about the songs? Are they even any good?" you and I say in unison, bored to hell by my increasingly slipshod reviewing style. Well, while this is likely the least accessible material Sonic Youth ever recorded (barring their hit-or-miss live improv sessions and the hilarious TV Shit EP with Yamatsuka Eye), it's the most easily ingested No Wave (or at least No Wave-indebted) album next to The Contortions' monstrous Buy LP I detailed a year ago. There have been far more whacked out takes on the genre, but Sonic Youth had the knack early on for taking these unusual components and crafting actual melodies out of them. Sure, they're often extremely unwelcoming, idiosyncratic, melodies braced with extremely cold 'n' dark inflections, but it not once sounds like the band is just fucking around or even experimenting too heavily. If I can go out on a limb here, the stark, disjointed, make-up of each song sounds a league or two more natural here than the like-minded mid-song passages found in the late 80's incarnation of the band.

To answer that earlier "question"/lame literary device, this is a fucking great album that any fan of the band (or avant-garde rock) needs to check out. It definitely requires some foreplay, especially considering that two of the album's most somber, downright creepy tracks start up the party, but once you let it sink in, it's a super rewarding listen.
For the record, I actually prefer college-friendly Sonic Youth most of the time, so if you need a more eardrum-friendly fix, start at EVOL and work your way up to Goo. BUT OH, wouldn't it be soooo subversive to ONLY like this album? I would trade in so much indie cred for an opportunity to solely enjoy all the albums the world ignores for relatively logical reasons. Here's a potential top 10 list for me to adopt once I reach the apex of eclectic hipster contrarianism:
1.) Gerogerigegege - Showa
2.) Bad Brains - Black Dots (and ONLY Black Dots)
3.) Earth - Extra Capsular Extraction
4.) The Fall - Live In London 1980 (Cassette Version)
5.) John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Wedding Album
6.) ZNR - Traite De Mecanique Populaire
7.) Whitehouse - Right to Kill: Dedicated To Denis Andrew Nilsen
8.) Led Zepellin - Coda
9.) Friction - Live '79 (B-Side ONLY)
10.) Discharge - Never Again EP

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

3 Newer Hardcore Bands That Make Life Worth Living

Back at the beginning of June, I trotted to Failuresville on a horse called "Voluntary Unemployment". Since that fateful day, the quality of my everyday life (contrary to logic as far as most are concerned) skyrocketed. My original intent was to travel the country like a vagrant 'til the wheels fell off, but all alone out there, all the beautiful, poetic, aspects of total liberation that drew me in initially faltered to the swelling frustration and boredom that a complete lack of community entails. I suppose I could've viewed it as an opportunity to pack on the character through long bouts of hardship, but fuck that, I've got more character than you could shake a {noun} at. Well, that isn't true, but please give me a break; I'm attempting to coalesce my sub-"gonzo" ramblings ov olde with a writing style that actually keeps my brain from destabilizing into a thin syrup. As such, this blog probably sucks just as hard as usual.

The above was committed to the back of a band flyer with a dried out Bic pen in a span of 20 minutes at my buddy Joe's apartment in which I was fortunate enough to inhabit for a few days before hitting the road again. This particular doodle represents a moment in between a blissful leaving of home and making the distraught pilgrimage back where I finally reconvened with the artistic coil I shuffled off 2 years back in favour of debilitating hollowness. I ask you though, who hasn't fallen victim to the sexy siren we call debilitating hollowness? I'm not particularly proud of the doodle itself - it's pretty standard fare as far as I'm concerned, and done in a shit medium besides - but for whatever reason, it became the harbinger of a long dormant desire to improve and communicate with other art dorks. The next thing you know, I'm pregnant.
With a yearning for the art world, that is! HA HA HA HA HA hahjkvbk,,kfudicc9jn davh,w

The next thing you know, I actually feel a wind beneath my wings (if I'm using this stupid cliche properly), and decide a mountain of debt is worth expanding my horizons and allowing myself the chance to land a job I could actually derive more than monetary worth from. Either art school will deliver the goods, or I'll be wrong as a denizen of my age range typically is.

Ever since Maryland Deathfest, I've had my favoritism for the more extreme branches of music rejuvenated, and thus, have started coiling up the mountain of slack accumulating from the moment I put away my ratty, membrane-thin, Napalm Death tee and threw on a fashionably tight Pavement shirt. "YEAH, MORE LIEK GAYVMENT", says you, incorrectly.
But anyway:

Weekend Nachos - Unforgivable

With a name bespeaking such incredible frivolity, your irony detector's should short-circuit when this bubbling cauldron of dark, humorless, and brutal, hardcore-and-sludge inflected powerviolence punches you square in the eardrums with it's teeny little balled up fists perfectly evolved to frictionlessly navigate the human auditory canal. Weekend Nachos have been kicking the veritable ass since 2004 (presumably) and have a few EPs and a full length preceding Unforgivable, and recently, an EP of pure sludge proceeding it. It's always nice to bear witness to a band unveiling their best work to date, and Unforgivable is totally on my nonexistent "Top 10 Of 2009" list somewhere. Y'know, floating in the intangible ether. Just like fellow face grinders Iron Lung's Sexless/No Sex "opus" (ie an album I like a lot), Weekend Nachos take this opportunity to further baste themselves in the sumptuous tar prepped by sludge cuistôts Eyehategod and low-end Man Is The Bastard, giving this album a biting dynamic betwixt the powerhouse blast-a-thons of yore, comparatively rockin' hardcore punk, and crushing doom riffery. It's nice to see Relapse Records can still throw a fastball here and there.
Get it here.
Then get it here for cheapsies.

Punch - s/t LP
Punch is a fantastically fresh and tear-ass'ing youth crew damaged powerviolence (or "fastcore" if you want to spat about it) unit with a collective straight-edge and vegan mandate that doesn't really fucking matter because as is the case with most hardcore, the lyrics are smothered to intelligibility by the Nah, I kid, we're all good enough sports to have the lyric sheets tattooed on the inside of our eyelids. Ooh, but there is a song about bikes:
Always thought that one is one, but I guess that’s not the case, because now I know two does not equal four wheels. Better step aside- where you’re going is not as important as where they’re headed.
Unless it's metaphorical. The music ist fucking krieg, though. Quite a few bands in this niche sacrifice technicality and songcraft for adrenaline-OD'ing frenzies, but Punch is way leaner than the pack, with bursts of melody amongst the frenetic blasts and intelligently structured vocal delivery, replete with tasteful "crew" shout-outs. Lastly, vocalist Meghan's impassioned, top-of-the-lungs, screaming is god-tier quality and makes me yearn to hear more "goils" (as Peter "The Corpse" Steele may have said) pick up the mic for this brand of intense hardcore. I was planning on seeing them in New Yawk Shitty, but my friends ended up bailing and adding to the canon of grim memories on getting lost at the subway was too much to bear.
Get it here.
Then get it here.
Also, I was kidding before. The lyrics are quite good.

Cult Ritual - s/t LP
Approaching this album was a little intimidating, as up until this point, Cult Ritual have kept their trifecta of top notch releases below the 10 minute mark. The release of a full length - especially regarding hardcore - typically reveals whether or not the band in question is capable of bearing close to their roots without turning into an interminable bore. For a recent example, see Bone Awl's Meaningless Leaning Mess - an album full of quality songs, but bogged down by a running time too great for the number of ideas presented. Fortunately, Cult Ritual can handle an LP's length and then some, as their 4th self titled disc is easily their greatest and most infatuating work so far. Armed with a crusty, warm, production sound and a slew of great riffs, these guys offer up a platter of U.S. style noise melded with scathing hardcore punk, fragments of melody, sound samples, a 3 minute exercise in minimalist drumming, intelligent lyrics, crushing sludge, and enough variation from track to track to lead me to believe these guys could tackle a double LP with little fatigue. Yes, these guys are hyped to shit, but they really are as great as you've heard.
Get it here.
And I'd tell you to buy it here, but apparently it went OOP already. Woops.

Now that this megafuck of a post is complete, I'll see if I can get some shorter, punchier, reviews and uploads out at a greater velocity. Don't hold me to it, though. I didn't use my own links this time around, so if any of them cease to deliver the goods, let me know and I'll stop being a leech and upload them myself.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MDF 8 & bullshit

Lately, I haven't posted anything. I'm not totally certain I can settle on a singular reason for doing so, but it's somewhere in the murky waters of 9-5 purported apathy, a lack of confidence in my quantification of musical qualities, or some other vague sense of literary dejection. Either way, I've just not been feeling much propulsion behind my fingertips when the keyboard is adjacent. None of which is to say I've been listening to any less music than I ever have - my aural input is consistently huge - it's just that acting as anything but a spectator has felt like a chore recently.
Also, I quit my job, cut all my hair off, and am days away from traveling like a vagrant.
But enough about me, let's talk about
Nah, let's continue talking about me. Last year, two of my friends headed down to Baltimore for the Maryland Deathfest VII - a 3 day "extreme music" festival featuring an all-star cast of punk, grind, black/death metal, and powerviolence groups from around the world, and one of which I was too broke to attend at the time.
Actually, that's bullshit, I could've made it I had the mind to, but at the time, my interest in these particular branches of extreme music sunk down to primordial depths; so low in fact, that I could hardly stomach the idea of spending three full days bludgeoned by the soundtrack to 3/4ths of my high school career. I even performed a mighty cull of my itunes library, eliminating all but a handful of artists eligible for gatherings of the MDF variety.
In retrospect, I was clearly deluded and potentially hazardous to those cohabiting. If you've ever performed such rash processes of elimination, you'll surely get where I'm coming from, as it never takes long to regret your decision and begin a descent into self-mutilation as restitution. I dunno. But hey, check out this gorgeous lineup I could've lived without witnessing for a pathetic 115 dollars:
Bolt Thrower

Napalm Death



Brutal Truth
Venomous Concept

Pig Destroyer

Flesh Parade

Jig Ai

Agenda Of Swine
Kill The Client

Despise You
Weekend Nachos

What the fuck, man. I was an anus for passing this up, even if just Devourment (who's track record includes one of my all-time favorite albums with Molesting The Decapitated), Weekend Nachos (a fantastic powerviolence band notorious for their spasmodic live performances), Crowpath (at the forefront of forward thinking heavy music), Immolation (perhaps the most consistently excellent band in their gene pool), and Grief (a cranium cave-in of sludge) crawled out of a ludicrously skyscraping tour van pile-up featuring the entire roster. Luckily, I was panned over by this all-encompassing sense of regret shortly after the opportunity was lost to time and ordered tickets to 2010's shindig within a week of the line up's confirmation. Little did I know at the time, everything in the entire universe fucking blows. Everything. There's not an iota of solace to be found across the face of time and space. As such, I discovered my tickets were chilling atop my dresser only after myself, buddy Steve, and buddy Logan exited New York, traversed the entirety of Piece Of Shit (New Jersey, colloquially), signed in at the reception desk, nabbed a few grams of Bolivian marching powder and a cheap trick, and began walking up the block to the festival.
IN SHORT: after waiting in line for at least 15 minutes, wracked with fear that their would be no 3-day passes available and Steve high-fiving the dude from Cannabis Corpse, some true American hero and his buddy shot past us offering up an extra ticket, fellatio was performed, and I entered the festival 100 lbs. of anxiety and self-loathing lighter.
Apparently there was actually a performance the night before the festival officially commenced, but due to our collective ignorance, we passed up Birdflesh, P.L.F, General Surgery, and fuckin' Iron Lung, consarnit. Fortunately, this was just the tip of the 'berg of stationary hydrogen molecules, as the preceding days contained as much ass-blistering madness as one corporeal body could endure before total deliquesence.
The adjacent snapshot illustrates just some of the effects of such exposure to such rocktensity.
(not pictured: concave buttocks from severe hindquarter-boot exposure)
Gorguts - Decent show from a great band. Probably would've helped if we could hear anything during the first half of their set.
Autopsy - Similar fate as the above, but we tunneled through the flesh wall to remedy this. Played the classics to get the honey's bumpin'.
Obituary - Ruled. Illustrated exactly how a live band should sound - amped-up, more intense versions of their studio work. Steve (center) moshed for Satan throughout the duration of the set.
Entombed - Sucked. They played "Crawl" from the EP of the same name, but the remainder of the set was devoted to the shitty powerchord "death 'n' roll" style that dominates the bulk of their releases.
D.R.I. - Sounded great and played some of their best shit, yet we turned in like a bunch of bedwetters. Whatever, I was too sluggish to brave their pit for more than a few minutes anyway.
Asphyx - Fucking killed the shit out of our shit. Mosh pits are especially brutal when performed on the side of a blacktop hill. Even when the material was unfamiliar, the thick, crushing, grooves and the full on blasting made it incredibly easy to get into.
Repulsion - Eh. I dig Horrified, but constant high speed assaults from a great enough distance to totally muddle the sound don't really get the blood pulsing.
Pestilence - Ruled. Stuck primarily to their gritty, crushing, straight-up death metal material with only one or two forays into the proggy sound of their later works.
Eyehategod - One of the highlights for me, which was especially satisfying considering their position among my favorite bands of all time. They played all their best shit, and played it with gusto.
Watain - Caught about 3 minutes of this. Just sounded like humorless, deadpan, melo-black metal to me, but I suppose I wasn't witnessing them in the best window of opportunity.
Incantation - Eh. I love Incantation on CD, but I can't say I remember a second of this one.
Sinister - Weak, lifeless, performance of their later, drier, material. Coulda lived without this one.
Deceased - Considering that I'm unfamiliar with pretty much all but their debut, Luck Of The Corpse, it was rad that these guys played quite a few numbers from said album, being it's somethingsomething anniversary. This one was a lot of fun, and super energetic.
Blood Duster - These guys were fucking awesome. Lots of inflatable shit being throw around (including a giant, smiling, penis) and the introduction: "This next song is about stomping in piss. It's called "Piss Stomper".
Impaled - Decent, but kinda underwhelming considering the hype I read up on regarding their live shows.
Coffins - Really great shit. I spent the show swaying to the crushing doom or full body rocking to the more punkish, up-tempo, numbers.
Capitalist Casualties - THE highlight for me. They played the second to last spot on the third night, so Logan and Steve turned in, unfamiliar with the band. I thrashed my ass off and ended up getting picked up by this monster truck of a man and thrown into a bunch of crusty girls. Fucking awesome.
Gride - High paced Czech grind antics made for a fucking spastic mosh pit. I'd forgotten about these guys, but the show inspired me to track down their catalog again.
Gridlink - These guys are ex-Discordance Axis, and as such, follow suit with the group's final sound niche, but advance the technicality to even more ridiculous heights. Unfortunately, they just sound like an amplified blender live.
Captain Cleanoff - Awesome, tight performance by the absolute best grindcore band running today.
Rompeprop - A fucking party of dumb, chunky, goregrind heralded in with an overlong intro of some goofy Dutch traditional number. A cover of Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild" sealed the deal.
Gorod - Missed all but a few minutes of these guys. Super high musicianship, lower competence in songwriting. Whatever.
Malignancy - Nothing I was too familiar with, but fun nonetheless. More pinch harmonics than Zakk Wylde imitating a laser blaster. Vocalistman brought the giggles.

So hey, that sums up the Deathfest. I hope the stragglers enjoyed quickly skipping over this mess to resume their everyday tasks. Stay brutal.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Meat Puppets - s/t

You know what song F U C K I N G S U C K S ? "December" by Collective Soul.
However, it must be stated that such a song acts as a rather peculiar variable when unleashed upon the subject (ie my ears). As if introduction of the song induces a powerful, very particular emergence of internal chemicals, I find my larynx, tongue, lungs, and esophagus contort and spasm, and on the gust of my exhalation, an archaic and guttural maelstrom of primitively aligned consonants and vowels clump together and pulse through my gums and out my gaping mouth: "p... p... pantywaists...".
You remember Collective Soul, don'tcha? That agonizingly lame "post-grunge" band from the mid 90's? The one who's slogan was "grungey as a box of wet matches and a flaccid scrotum"?

In conclusion, Meat Puppets' first album.
I know I've toted this as my favorite Meat Puppets album in the past, but really now, how can I make such a claim when their catalog totes such visionary works such as II, Up On The Sun, and the great, yet non-visionary (even trashed) Monsters and Huevos?. Because I'm more unique than the most unique of us. dgvjhvbkdb.
I'm probably too scatterbrained to be writing this right now, but fuck you, I play by my own rules so I must offer up my sincerest apologies, my good sir or ma'am.

(ugh, even that strikethrough text gag was a lazy abortion)

Y'see, Meat Puppets The First is quite pretty much irrelevant to the rest of the band's works (if you exclude the preceding In A Car EP), and instead presents the band as a wildly idiosyncratic hardcore punk band with more sloppy twang than a pubfull of inebriated cowboys. Even this early in the game, Kirkwood was busting with clever riffage and compositional know-how, which fortunately was executed here as haphazardly as humanly tolerable in the midst of a 3-day LSD recording haze - rehearsal style; not to mention the Darby Crash with head trauma, making-fun-of-'tards, vocal style. In a way, it's similar to Flipper's Generic, but the with tight skinsmanship taking precedent over the anchor-like qualities the comparison's bass had beneath the drugged-up guitar slop. I'm honestly having a lot of trouble thinking up any albums that come close to the sound achieved here, so let's just settle on it's uniqueness as a piece that could potentially sit between your earlier Half Japanese, Thrown Ups, and Happy Flowers records (but not necessarily sound like any of those bands).
All in all, this is one of those rare albums that has to be heard without the band's more "accomplished" works in tow; the 21 sparse minutes of unhinged riff-slop and lunatic wailing teetering ever so gracefully atop the snappy drumming is goddamn ridiculous and makes for a massively enjoyable repeat listen. If you lose focus, just give it another shot - it'll sink in soon.

In conclusion, elephants are the heaviest land mammal.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kimya Dawson - Remember That I Love You

For startsies, the film Juno isn't how I found about the music of Kimya Dawson, The Moldy Peaches, or even Antsy Pants. You see, all I care about deep down is the maintenance of my credit as a deeply subversive, blindingly hip outsider who enjoyed certain things "before they were cool" back in high school, I was friends with a lovely little musky-aroma'd, axillary hair-unshaven, veggie-consuming, environmentalist lass with what I can tell now, a lot more maturity than I had at the time (as well as a lot more lofty idealism and conviction, but that's another matter for a more "bloggy" blog than this'un) and a great love of the anti-folk movement. After exchanging a few mix-tapes (that were actually CD-Rs, but I'm a romantic), she finally handed me one filled to the diameter's edge with her favorite Kimya Dawson songs. Being relatively unfamiliar with folk of any suit at the time, I was hooked instantly and proceeded to gobble up everything I could find of her's.

A few months later, the album on the left was released, and I immediately loved it from beginning to end. Come 2007, Juno features a few songs from here on the soundtrack and all the hepcats are shitting themselves over the infringement of their sacred territory. Listening to her catalog again for the first time in close to 2 years, I'm still impressed by what I hear. After the decidedly more hi-fidelity, full sound of 2004's critically acclaimed Hidden Vagenda, Remember That I Love You sounds like a retreat to the minimalism of her earlier works but still pulling the guest-instruments in tow including ukulele, vocal harmonies, mandolin, and chimey, unringing keyboards - all encased in a warm production style that's clean as it is claustrophobic.

Getting waaaay ahead of myself there, but if you've never heard any of Kimya Dawson's material, it's a pretty subdued and bare, acoustic folk sound (no scratched cords) accented by various low-key instruments and sweet, childish vocals bespeaking lots of clever, sometimes abstract, but mostly personal lyrics loaded with cultural references and commentary on the US's socio-political ongoings.
In my mind, Remember That I Love You is Kimya's best album for one simple reason: the songs are all great. Each one is memorable, sonically interesting and digestible, accessible and fully developed. Plus, it aces on a nostalgic level. A few tracks in and I'm sitting on the aforementioned girl's porch assessing our friend's descents into drug abuse and rehabilitation. RIP SNORTIN' FUN! I can see this stuff not being your thing if you're a fan of the more left field crazy shit I post here regularly, but if you're having an identity crisis, check this out.

Also: even if I hated Juno (which I can't say I do, despite it being eye-rollingly stylized indie dork fodder), Ellen Page is adorably boyish and looks sprite as a 12 year old.

(a comment that proved most insightful years later as a gangly, bloodied and battered Steve Hughes was escorted from his shelter in the woods to court on counts of homosexual pedophilia)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sun City Girls - Dante's Disneyland Inferno & 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda

Skimming through here, improbability of all improbabilities, I somehow avoided showcasing my love for everyone's favorite triangle of unclassifiable wankmaestros, the Sun City Girls. Dabbling and Wonka brand "Fun Dipping" in everything from improv, free-jazz, ethno-eastern traditionals, lounge sleaze jazz, folk Americana, and whatever else paints a target on itself, the 'Girls has one of the most fantastic and expansive catalogs out there - close to 20 full length LPs, an even greater slew of cassettes, an oodle-point-five of live albums (most of which fly under the Carnival Folklore Resurrection series), a wickerbasket of "7 inches, and a hammock of singles collections (one of which, Box Of Chameleons, clocks in at 3 stuffed CDs and is littered with prank calls the 'Girls made in the 70's (?)).
Anyhoover vacuum, today we're covered 1996's excursion into the uber-epic with the two double-CD full lengths, Dante's Disneyland Inferno and 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda. Unfortunately, like most of Sun City Girls' catalog, they were quick to vanish from the label rosters and the remaining copies made their collective way into the fat-pocketed collector dips. Then, come 2001, Locust Records kindly reissued the duo on monstrous triple LP formats - repressings of the most tasty and extravagant kind. Unfortunately (again), within a year or so, they disappeared back into the ether without a squeak since (like anyone would expect from a small label issuing such a costly, limited audience package).

SO: Movement The First -
Both a major departure from their previous work and an expansion of some of their earliest ideas, Dante's Disneyland Inferno is a strongly dialogue/lyric-cornerstoned album with yakking taking precedent over the tunes for once. There are a handful of full fledged songs on here (and GREAT ones at that), but for the most part, what we have is a mesmerizing collage of sickness, absurdity, and religious mockery delivered by mouth and propelled by background instrumentation. Lots of lounge jazz, screwed-up folk meanderings, bongos, ambiance, and whatever else fits. If you ever found Bishop's lyrics clever on past releases, this is a fucking shrine to these sensibilities, and all gold to it, as it's one of the most consistently disturbing and hilarious recordings I can think of. Plus, it's the return of the wizened Uncle Jim, has a comic adaptation of the song "The Brothers Unconnected", and contains the lines "Is that Prince Albert in a can? Or is it just Prince Albert in your mind?". Brilliant stuff here.
THEN: Movement The Second -
330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda. Poignant. Deep. This is the perfect counterpart to the talkative aforementioned, as it's a monstrously epic music focused release with but a small handful of decipherable lyrics to be found. Presumably Dante's... parasitically drained this'un of mouth-jive. This is apparently considered to be the quintessential Sun City Girls album as it sounds more like a retrospect of the band's entire career rather than a singular vision cooked up for one release. Intriguing, no? The first portion of the album is made up of polished actual songs in the vein of the first 4 LPs, while the second half is a loose, beautiful mixture of ragas, free-jazz, and improv, including the hypnotic epics/epic (depending on whether you own the CD or LP version) "Ghost Ghat Trespass" and "Sussmeier"; the former being an incredible raga piece with Eyvind Kang on violin accompanied by the 'Girls drum 'n guitar antics, the latter being a huge, rattling improv that gets better on subsequent listens.
Apparently, according to Richard Bishop, these two releases were supposed to be a spiritual follow-up to the notes and sentiments exhibited on their first handful of releases, which is pretty clear if you've heard the bulk of their work. Sadly, drummer Charles Gnocher died in the past few years, putting their career to an end. It's hard to imagine how much losing your bandmate of 20 years must suck, but Rick Bishop is still performing under his name today and offering up a slew of great albums. Summed up, these are two albums you need: two masterpiece triple albums from one of the best bands out there.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stretchheads MEGAPOST


(patent pending)

So alright! Let's get this gravy train of lucrative endeavoring 'a chuggin'. Back about 10 hundred trillion seconds ago, I made a big-ass post about Scotland's Dawson in an attempt to make accessible a giant stew of fantastic releases rendered virtually impossible to acquire in their original formats (or unoriginal formats, at that... the Cheesemarket compilation released on Gruff Wit is just as off grid as the LPs it contains!). Dawson were part of an incredible regionally-relative scene back in the closing years of the '80s and early '90s made up of heavyweights like De Kift, Whirling Pig Dervish, Archbishop Kebab, Dog Faced Hermans (who stand strong as one of my all-time favorite bands), Badgewearer, Mug, Keatons, and today's rodeo sweethearts, 87' to '91's (the) Stretchheads.

While the above list contains a wide range of sounds and styles, Stretchheads still end up sticking out like a clown's brutally defiled corpse laying just off the shoulder of I-80 with a sore thumb in an implied sea of upturned thumbs. Instead of dabbling in funk-punk ala Minutemen/Pop Group like Whirling Pig Dervish and Dawson, anarcho or folk and free jazz aesthetics in the Dog Faced Hermans' case, these guys seemed to wrap up their Big Flame/Bogshed fanship in a whacked out, sped-up, silliness the Boredoms were championing simultaneously, littered with samples, effects, and electronic dickery of all varieties. As to whether they were even aware of the Boredoms' existence at the time I'm not so sure, but it's a hard comparison to avoid.

Anyhow, the band's debut LP Five Fingers, Four Thingers, A Facelift, And A New Identity is a bit different from the rest of their catalog with it's seemingly powerviolence-timbered, bass-heavy bleats of raw hardcore speed and aggression with militant, rolling drums. Definitely tough on the ears, but a great disc nonetheless. In the following years, 3 EPs that showed a much cleaner, less speed-oriented version of the band emerged which amalgamated to their swan-song and one of my all-time favorites, Pish In Your Sleazebag - a raucous epic of silliness, squealing vocal upchuck, great songwriting, and lots of tape-edits and sound manipulations.
Sound good?
On with the share!

1.) Five Fingers, Four Thingers, A Facelift And A New Identity LP 1988

2.) 23 Skinner EP 1990

3.) Eyeball Origami Aftermath Wit Vegetarian Leg EP 1990

4.) Barbed Anal Exciter EP 1991

5.) Pish In Your Sleazebag LP 1991

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sonny Sharrock - Black Woman

As I mentioned in previous entries (I think), I'm tunneling through the vast, dark, jungle of free jazz wackiness - the apparent truest showcase of black musical expression (as well as a trend Miles had no trouble shrugging off in favour of music that doesn't clear banquet halls in under 30 seconds). Hey did you catch the metaphorical use of "dark" and "jungle" in tandem with sentiments for black musicians in that last sentence? Dial 3 if you'd like to paint me a racist. Dial 4 if you're aware of the phenomenon known as 'unfortunate coincidences'.

Bullplopage aside, let's just say it's... challenging to find a foot hold in the murk of free jazz at times. There certainly is appeal, as I've found a lot of enjoyment is derived purely at the sonic force of these musicians, but for all that and a jar of dimes, Sonny Sharrock's '69 debut is in-fucking-credible. A total mindblower here, as well as a perfect balance of melody and blistering improv chaos, with wifey Linda Sharrock screaming, howling, and even singing all over this bad boy. The percussion is pounding and clattering away neat little rhythms and falls into the painfully abstract while the piano dips in and out of nonsense, complimenting Sharrock's fast picked tunefulness and improv alike.
As far as I can tell at this point, the ideal form of free jazz dips it's fingers into the traditional, but always reverts back to the sanity-damaging improv. No damages to Brotzmann and his particular vehicle - it's definitely a vision I enjoy - but man do the more traditional moments compliment the improv (and vice versa!).

Hey, did I mention how much this album rocks? 'Cause it's the bee's knees AND tibia. "Black Woman" sways and shrieks, "Peanut" clamours and smashes, and "Bialero", "Blind Willie", and "Portrait Of Linda" are all just beautiful. Reeks of hyperbole, but I could seriously see this album working it's way into an all-time favorites list some day. Totally awesome stuff.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goma & The Jungle Rhythm Section - Rhythm And Breath

Going for a post record this month!
I've been pretty much artistically devoid lately (and then some), but fortunately good ol' music and the inane, uninteresting ramblings she imparts with me keep this blog turd afloat. Before we get to that album on the left, though, lemme tell you about an album tying my knickers in a troop-leader impressing knot - Joanna Newsom's new full length, Have One On Me; a godblessed TRIPLE ALBUM of new material. What other modern artist can you think of released a 3XLP in recent years? I know it's already leaked (and released in stores, too!), but with my iron will, I'm holding out til' I can acquire it in it's most prim and prose incarnation - wax. This'll mark my 4th album exceeding 2 discs, with the other two being Sun City Girls' Dante's Disneyland Inferno and 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda, as well as Bastard Noise's truly monstrous 5XCD(!!) Our Earth's Blood IV (which I'll be covering in a future entry).

But enough about ridiculous excess, let's focus on that enigmatic album in the corner. To be honest, I don't know much of anything about these guys (and can't really find anything, either), so I'll keep this short. Goma & The Jungle Rhythm Section are apparently a side project of the band's leader and didgeridoo player, Goma, with this being the first of currently 2 full length albums. Urm... here:
In the 1998 Arnhemland Barunga Didgeridoo Competition, Goma received The Northern Land Council prize (judged by Galarrwuy Yunupingu), surprised audiences by being the first non-Aboriginal to be recognized. Since that time, as a solo player, session musician, and band member, he has steadily increased his audience by consistently striving to innovate and expand his musical horizons.
...that was posted on the JPOP Lover blog, and is only available information I could find about this dude in English. The music itself isn't much easier to describe, though... it's tribal. Very rhythmic and pounding, likely featuring lots of homemade percussion (again... "likely")with the didgeridoo warbling in it's earthy tones all over the record. It's all instrumental, and while I wouldn't call it "danceable", it's definitely moving. But ENOUGH weak descriptors: this stuff kicks some supple ass. It's certainly not the most varied, but it's got a lot of punch, and if nothing else, is a perfect oddity for your collection. Czech it:

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Pop Group - We Are All Prostitutes

I'm afraid this blog's got an expiration date - approximately 4 months away, too. Y'see, although you don't care, I'm going off grid. New York's cold, my job is monotonous, I've worked myself into an artless rut, and I'm chock-full of pent-up crust punk idealism. How does one break this strain of wide-eyed hopefulness? Likely by going into the muck of the U.S. with a backpack, a bike, and a friend or two. No date set for it's conclusion, either, so if I ever choose to revive this here blog, it might be 6 months to a year-plus away.

Anyhookers, I'm in the middle of a free jazz/70's prog odyssey right now, but since the former is still digesting and the latter's not delivering the goods as I'd hoped (Gentle Giant? Bleah), I figured it was time to whip out an old favorite of mine - The Pop Group's stupidly scare singles collection, We Are All Prostitutes; a bag of hits I started rotating back in high school and never looked back.
Now if you're unfamiliar with the music of said Pop Group, it's a bizarre, somewhat even composure of spacey dub reggae, funk, skeletal jazz, and noise, all weaved into a sweater of post-punk sensibilities and hard-as-tacks political staunchness - and a phenomenally ugly sweater at that. In fact, if I were pressed to describe The Pop Group's sound in a single word, it'd probably be "ugly". This compilation is essentially a split between the creeping, disjointed minimalism of their legendary debut, Y, and the undeniably danceable funk-punk of the follow-up and neglected classic, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?, but the quality is consistent as either release.
Another thing worth noting (but uninteresting to read, much like this entry as a whole) is the production, which is raw, scratchy and full - totally unlike the spaciness of the rest of their catalog. Makes Gang Of Four sound like total pansies.

Oh, and once again, my stupid laptop is still broken because everything sucks and/or should die.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Organisation - Tone Float

If there's a better example of a band with "classic" status I'll never find an affection for, it certainly hasn't topped Kraftwerk on my list. Both critically lauded and perpetually glorified by music buffs of a far too similar persuasion to mine, I can't help but feel bewildered whenever I catch a fragment of the praise heaped on them in my periphery. Am I overlooking some key historical principles that make them anything but the progenitors to a genre as personally maligned as synth-pop? Or maybe that's where the problem lies...
Either way, after the 'Werk's 4th LP, the better constraints of krautrock all but dissipated, leaving a cheesetoothed, starched suit pop band of the "dorkiest" variety. But hey, enough about corny keyboard progressions, lifeless, processed vocals and simple melodies that ramble on and on longer than the universe is vast - let's talk about Organisation!

Who are actually Kraftwerk.

For whatever reason, the RCA decided the relatively phonetic Kraftwerk moniker ("Kraaftverk") had less of a hook for U.S. audiences than the plain-as-toast British variant on the the word "organization". But whatever; at this point, Organwerk was a totally different entity: almost entirely acoustic and stationed firmly in the krautrock territory with nary an electronic bloop or bleep to be found. The group's sole recording under this name is a bit like the 2 following releases from Kraftwerk - Kraftwerk and Kraftwerk 2 - and stands as a colossus of the hippie-dippie magic we all ashamedly enjoy.
The title track is a 20-some minute spiritual epic of flute, organ, bass and bongo with a particularly meditative, eastern-vibed, and almost Pharoah Sanders-esque quality, followed by the high density, Miles Davis-indebted fusion murk of "Milk Rock". From there, the tiny, creepy interlude "Silver Forest" pops in and out to allow my favorite track on the album, "Rhythm Salad" to bongo the fucking house down. It's a seriously great piece that grows in intensity over the course of 5 minutes with a whole slew of unorthodox percussive devices clattering and bopping their brains out. The album closes with an extension of the title track's sonic terrain, but pulling a scratchy electric violin in tow to a bongo/cymbal backdrop.
All in all, a solid, enjoyable release. Probably nowhere near as groundbreaking as Kraftwerk's later material, but it also doesn't sound SO AGONIZINGLY OUTDATED. Here's the ideal usage of Kraftwerk's material:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pigbag - Dr. Heckle And Mr. Jive

Say! How about a/an hilarious anecdote from the ol' grind? Alright, so this one time - oh, by the Wayans Brothers, I'm a cashier/cart-pusher/merch-handler/tire-salesman at BJ's Wholesale Club ("Felatio's" for short). Anyhoo, there was this one time not so long ago where I came to a run-in with the law at my humble, paycheck-dealin' dojo. I was standing at register, thumbs a' twiddlin' and tongue a' tonguin' when this dude walks over to my station giggling and chattering with his standard, middle-class, nuclear family, presumably aiming to purchase a full boat of high-mass groceries at a low, low price. We exchange greetings, everything's going along fine, when I suddenly interject: "May I scan your member card?".
That was the first Domino brand domino to fall.
If you're unfamiliar with Blowjob's Wholesale Club, shoppers are required to purchase a membership card we scan at the beginning of each transaction and return at the conclusion of each fast and courteous checkout - sadly for the man and his family, such was not the case.
I glanced down at the man's extended hand and beads of sweat began to accumulate on my steadily furrowing brow. My stomach turned. My hands trembled. A darkness took hold as I studied the faint, well-worn lettering on the Sam's Club Wholesale Club card he extended to me.
" son of a bitch."
Needless to say, things got ugly from there, and perhaps more needlessly to say, I ended up beating the man into years of relearning to feed himself using the corpse of his victimized son as a bludgeon. A night or two of food court probation later and I've got myself a little story to share.

Anyway, Pigbag.
Pigbag comes from a relatively short lived scene I've been slowly re-familiarizing myself with over the course of the past 2 weeks. In tandem with both the post-no wave "mutant disco" scene and the funkier side of post-punk, these dudes ripped out a beautiful instrumental mix of smart, somewhat straight-faced brass-heavy disco pomposity, pronounced funk, hints of world music, and just the right amount of dissonance to fit snuggly into the "post" half of the "post-punk" equation.
Btw, if you're unfamiliar with the term "mutant disco", it's basically a post-mortem term for the bands that popped up after certain tangents of post-punk got rooted heavily in the funky, decidedly less Caucasian roots of rock music and typically performed a parodist form of disco (think James White And The Blacks' Off White or anything by Kid Creole And The Coconuts).

The barely-amusingly titled Dr. Heckle And Dr. Jive is the first full length and followup to the chart storming (really!) instrumental and shameless play on James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" (which is actually considered a classic single nowadays in England... apparently even making it's way into the stadiums at sports events!) and sounds as forward-thinking as it does ironically retro. Slap on a seal of credit via Simon Underwood of the Pop Group's presence and a deal with Y Records, and you've got a recommendation packed full of teeth-grinding hyperbole.
Need a list of contemporaries? : probably somewhere in line with Lizzie Mercier Descloux, ESG, Liquid Liquid, and Simon Reynolds-appointed Pigbag imitators, Konk. All good, all worth checking out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Unrest - Kustom Karnal Blaxploitation

I feel my entries have become a little too formal as of late, or at least, a little too reserved for me to be comfortable with at an expressionist level. No foolin', either. I started this blog for fun, first and foremost. The desire to connect with other musical nutjobs across the interbutt is definitely in the mix, too, but personal amusement has always been the target.
So then you might ask:
"Where are the strike-through text gimmicks, Steve? And what about those delightfully irrelevant accounts of your daily toils? I'm beginning to think you sold out to contextual clarity and ramblings that actually pertain to album in the spotlight... for this, I weep."
- You, Presumably 2010
My reparations are as follows:

Anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus anus.

Self-absorption aside, let's say we were to cover today the Unrest album that approximately no one in the entire universe likes - Kustom Karnal Blaxploitation.
If you're unfamiliar with the band, here's a brief, 10th-hand history lesson: Unrest started off as a sub-punk, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink, indie rock band formed in Washington, DC circa '82 as sort of a rejection of the newborn hardcore punk scene for no disclosed reason. While largely directed by Mark Robinson (later of Grenadine and Air Miami), the band had two distinct phases - the experimental, constantly genre-swappin', line-up shiftin' early run ('82-'89) and the heavy-duty yet minimalist romantic pop phase initiated by the inclusion of bassist/vocalist Bridget Cross in 1990 that would carry on 'til the break up in '94.

Kustom Karnal Blaxploitation is the band's third full-length LP (probably 7th or 8th release overall), and the last album of the aforementioned first phase. What we've got here is an uneven mix of punky indie rock, fuzzy, sub-metallic riffage that hearkens back to the first two Melvins albums, as well as a couple pop 'n' folk remnants ("Teenage Suicide" and "She Makes Me Shake Like A Soul Machine" are particularly enjoyable), the funky "Foxey Playground", and even a dirge-metal track reminiscent of well... later Melvins material ("Kill Whitey").
Unlike the band's sophomore album (the equally good Malcolm X Park), this 'un is rooted much less starkly in poptones, and is typically regarded as an inessential piece of their discography. I don't really know if I could argue the relevance or impact this release had (it probably didn't have much at all), but it's certainly worth a listen, and I go as far as to say it's my favorite of their first era.
Czech it oot:
Personally, I love both phases of the band equally. The first is certainly less accessible than the second, but it has that rare hook of being just out of comprehension that makes me return to it over and over again.

Hey, did I mention it also feature a 12 minute spoken word piece about Sammy Davis losing an eyeball in a car accident? SOLD!