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Records of the Week
BLACK RAIN Dark Pool (Blackest Ever Black) lp 27.00
We've been super obsessed with this killer slab of grim, blackened, nocturnal, techno minimalism, a dread fueled sprawl of bleak electronica and droned out sci-fi industrialism that's even more remarkable as it's the first Black Rain release in 18 years!!Black Rain mastermind Stuart Argabright is hardly a household name, yet the man has an impressive catalog of high-caliber recordings along an axis of futurist / cyberpunk / darkly post-punk electronica dating back to the late '70s. His first fruits were in the form of the Factory sponsored Ike Yard, whose gloomy electro-dirges followed in the wake of the No New York contingent, followed by some far more club-oriented projects including the one-hit wonder Dominatrix and the eccentric Death Comet Crew (working with the pioneer of Afro-futurism, Rammellzee). Black Rain was the band that Argabright began with fellow DCC-member Shinichi Shimokawa in 1992 or thereabouts, and was originally commissioned to draft the score for a film version of Johnny Mnemonic. Despite his long-standing friendship with Phillip K. Dick, the Black Rain tracks were scrapped in favor of a high-budget Hollywood score after Keanu Reeves was pegged for the lead. After Blackest Ever Black pressed up a short-program lp 2010 of that soundtrack work from the early '90s (all of which had appeared on the Fifth Colvmn cd entitled 1.0), Argabright returned to the Black Rain moniker, possibly with Shimokawa at his right hand again.Dark Pool continues the thread of tense cyborg-electronica crafted through those nixed Johnny Mnemonic soundtracks. The introductory track features a spoken word preface from Sean Young (best known as the android Rachel from Blade Runner) amongst a flurry of electrically screeching birds, extending the P.K. Dick allusions. Dystopian electronic shadows and hauntological drones brace much of Dark Pool, with Black Rain snapping into rhythmic passages of taut pneumatic samples and polished-machine drum programming. "Xibalba Road Metamorph" is a track that Dominick Fernow could only dream of producing as Prurient or Vatican Shadow, hammering its electro-static pulses with iron-fisted brutality and cold-blooded precision. The aptly named "Data River" spills out clinical beeps and drill-hammer rhythms on par with the sterility of Mika Vainio's Metri or any of the Raster Noton folk, with toxic drones of any villainous techno track lurking in the distance. Black Rain does pull the rug out from under us on the final track which rockets forward with a modern-day Moroder-esque tension, all dynamic arpeggiation and teeth-gritting electronic suspense only to abruptly cut the power, marking the end of the album. If we were to apply the cinematic, gothic / sci-fi allusion that this albums begs for, then this coda marks the unexpected termination of the android protagonist. Achtung! Bang! Click. End.
MPEG Stream: "Burst"
MPEG Stream: "Xibalba Road Metamorph"
MPEG Stream: "Night In New Chiang Saen"
MPEG Stream: "Who Will Save The Tiger?"
TREEPEOPLE Guilt Regret Embarrassment (K) lp 11.98
This is not a normal Record Of The Week. It's not new. It's not even a newly released reissue. But what it is, is one of our favorite records EVER. And it just so happened Andee was in Olympia this last weekend, and got to visit K Records, where they discovered a little box of these stashed away in the warehouse. And since most of the records by this band predate the current version of the list, we were psyched to suddenly be presented with the opportunity to gush like crazy over the debut album from the late great Treepeople. And really, as far as we're concerned, if any band deserved a comprehensive reissue campaign, it's the Treepeople, but until then, dig this...For those unfamiliar with the Treepeople, it's essentially pre Built To Spill, with BTS mastermind Doug Martsch honing his chops in a much wilder, more punky, noisy, but no less catchy context. In fact, if you've heard the first Built To Spill record, Ultimate Alternative Wavers, that record essentially sounds like a slightly more polished Treepeople Record. Imagine the glorious hooks and super catchy melodies of BTS, but wrapped in spidery intertwined guitars, swirls of feedback, wild chaotic drumming, the whole vibe more noisy, and loose, definitely more punk, aggressive and heavy, but still impossibly poppy. With every track here, on the group's 1991 debut, a stone cold killer, the opener "No Doubt" lays out the template, multiple guitar lines in constant motion, as if there were multiple solos being played at once, a dizzying backdrop of distort melodies, wound around sinewy basslines, and frenetic drumming, all beneath Martsch's distinctive vocals, oh and feedback, EVERYwhere, but somehow these guys make it sound as much a part of the sound/song as any other instrument. When people talk about noise pop, this is the sort of thing we imagine, equal parts jangle pop and urgent post punk, with some hints of proginess and psychedelia. And since we're all friends here, we'll fess up to the fact, that one of us here (ahem, Andee) had no idea that track two, "Andy Warhol" was a Bowie cover. Which also helps to give you an idea of the sound happening here. The opener bleeds right into the Bowie cover, almost as if they were conceived and composed together, with the Treepeople's version extra fierce and fuzzy (they'd do something similar to the Smiths' "Big Mouth Strikes Again" a year later)."Gre" comes next, and might be one of our favorite Treepeople songs ever, frantic and fuzzy, noisy and punky, but again, super catchy, with drums and guitars in a seemingly constant squall, and yet molded into something most proper pop bands would kill for, if they could even figure out what to do with it. And from there on out, it just keeps getting better, some songs jangly and woozy, others straight up punk pound, more often than not a little of both, and almost as often, with even more sonic weirdness swirled into the equation. The Treepeople are one of those rare groups whose sound is actually totally and truly unique, there are definitely moments and parts and sounds and hooks that touch on other strains of indie rock, but much like Polvo, they seem to have taken the parts of a proper sound, pulled them apart and then reassembled them with no regard for the instruction manual, the resulting musical monstrosity emerging far more twistedly beautiful than it was ever meant to be, and the sort of sound that has stood the test of time like little else, this record (along with the group's entire catalog) on constant heavy rotation pretty much nonstop for that past 20+ years. And as much as we love Built To Spill, we find ourselves, almost without thinking, replying to almost every BTS related query with something like "yeah, but have you heard Treepeople?!?", cuz really, they're like a much crazier, noisier, heavier, more experimental version, which obviously for us, means even BETTER. A gloriously noisy concoction that should be essential listening for all indie rockers, young and old, and which should eventually, hopefully one day, get these guys, and all their records, the sort of love and accolades they so totally deserve. For now, we'll just do our part. And you should do yours, you won't be sorry, you might just have a new (old) favorite band!Non musical note: this was the record that first introduced us to the stunning and horrifyingly beautiful pencil art of Mike Scheer!
MPEG Stream: "No Doubt"
MPEG Stream: "Andy Warhol"
MPEG Stream: "Gre"
MPEG Stream: "Pity"
ANOPHELI A Hunger Rarely Sated (Alerta Antifascista) lp 10.98
Anopheli are a new, sort of local outfit, featuring members of East Bay doom crust crushers Monuments Collapse (whose recent full length was a big hit around here, along with their split with Breag Naofa) teamed up with members of UK crust punk legends Fall Of Efrafa. The result is a dark, epically heavy slab of melodic, melancholic, string laden crusty doom! Huge, heaving riffage, infused with mournful melodies, churning atmospheric heaviness that explodes into furious D-beat blowouts, galloping and ferocious, but even then, rife with a haunting, wistful moodiness, due in no small part to the strings, which soar and shimmer, moan and keen throughout. Lush, brooding heaviness, all loping, lumbering doomic epicry, sounding a bit like Neurosis by way of Godspeed, especially with those strings, adding all sorts of pathos to the proceedings, and giving the sound a seriously cinematic vibe, the sounds flecked with cool samples as well. A Hunger Rarely Sated is the perfect mix of pummeling metallic crush, furious crust punk bombast, and dense, mathy, melodic, post rock majesty.LIMITED TO 500 COPIES!!! Includes a printed inner sleeve, and housed in a nice, heavy jacket.
MPEG Stream: "The Embittered Living"
MPEG Stream: "Incompetent Sires"
MPEG Stream: "Forest Of The Genocides"
ARP Pulsars & Quasars (Mexican Summer) 12" 15.98
This brand new ep by Alexis Georgopolous aka Arp (previously of Tussle and The Alps) cements the retro-fueled art-pop tendencies of his last album, More, with the atmospheric textures of his earlier work into something more fluid and immediate. What drives it along is the use of a full band (More was a multi-tracked solo affair), and that not only gives it a much-welcomed sonic heft, but allows for a more organic and unpredictable flow. The meteoric guitar noise from Alps bandmate Jefre Cantu-Ledesma bathes the tracks in a luscious shoegazed sheen, channeling Tiger Mountain era Brian Eno and propelling it outward into the stratosphere. There is definitely a more cosmic feel here, less kosmiche and more electric, propulsive and magnetic, boosted by the addition of a Le Revelateur remix that reminds us of an instrumental La Dusseldorf track passed through the Harmonia blender. Quite Stellar!
MPEG Stream: "Pulsars e Quasars"
MPEG Stream: " Chromatiques II (Extended Mix)"
MPEG Stream: " The Violet Hour (Film Dub)"
AUDITOR Form Destroyer (Annihilvs) cd-r 14.98
We raved recently about Iron Forest, a one man band trafficking in gloriously bleak and blackened industrial noise, his disc a murky expanse of wasted beatscapes and zoner dub power electronics. Auditor is the same guy. Not sure if this record by Auditor signals the end of Iron Forest (we hope not), or if it's just another gnarled offshoot, either way, Form Destroyer (possibly named after the Skullflower record, which would make sense...), basically takes up where that last Iron Forest left off, unfurling a caustic sprawl of gristled dronemusic, grinding fields of electronic static, moaning heaving swaths of suffocating low end, dense roiling clouds of sinister chordal thrum, not to mention, glitched out sort-of rhythms, processed vokills, sheets of hiss and hum, and eventually, fragmented distorted beats, which comes together on the second track, a twisted bit of dance floor destruction, with a rhythm constructed from drum machines and jackhammers (literally we think), a sort of gnarled, blackened IDM, fractured industrial techno recast as grimly groovy lurch and lumber, which quickly (d)evolves into a harrowing black ambient epic, all grinding, pulses, crumbling rib cage rattling rumbles, staticky drum machines, and primitive programmed rhythms, straddling the line between dark and moody, and truly terrifying, ultimately, and seemingly impossibly fusing the two, into something heady and hypnotic, darkly hypnotic and strangely mesmerizing. The last two tracks change tack considerably, with "Betrayer Of Sleep" slipping into seriously blackened doom territory, a heaving slo-mo-crawl, with crumbling distortion, and oozing downtuned riffage, a lumbering deathmarch that is constantly on the verge of blurring into a blackdronedirge, while the nearly 15 minute long closer "I Can Never Be Far Enough From You", adds some female vocals, a keening, mewling cry off in the distance, over a swirling tangle of wild hiss and static drenched churn, almost like a disembodied Diamanda Galas torchsong, smeared into a bleary, blackened drift, the sound pulsing and dynamic, moments of crushing malevolence aside moments of delicate shimmer, a bit cinematic for sure, the blackness and grinding distortion eventually receding completely, leaving just some muted murk, buried melodies, distant rhythms, and that female voice repeating the title, everything eventually enveloped by soft noise and blurred buzz, for one final, almost shoegaze sounding coda, before it's just that voice, and that mantra, wreathed in effects. A haunting, and surprisingly delicate finale.
MPEG Stream: "And Vomit As You Devour Them"
MPEG Stream: "Flea On A Dead Dog"
MPEG Stream: "I Can Never Be Far Enough From You"
BLONDE REDHEAD Barragan (Kobalt Label) lp 27.00
When we kept reading bad reviews for the latest Blonde Redhead record, one that comes after of a four year hiatus, we were curious to hear how bad it could possibly be. Or actually was. But you know what? We took one listen and didn't find it that bad at all, in fact we ended up liking it quite a bit and have been listening to it a lot. Ok, perhaps some of us here are indifferent, but there is nothing here that is so outright horrible that we feel warrants the level of dismissive vitriol we've read about it. After the bright drum machine-driven pop of Penny Sparkle, Barragan is a much more nuanced and textured affair, elegant, subtle, sexy, and beautifully sad. We suppose it's the slow burning reveal of it, the sparse arrangements, the late night world it embraces, filled with mysterious sounds and instrumentation of flutes, harpsichords and acoustic guitars, that perhaps leave folks with not enough to immediately grab onto sonically. But that is exactly why some of us like it. It's actually a lovely record that harkens back to their moodier atmospheric albums like Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons or Misery Is A Butterfly...
MPEG Stream: " Dripping"
MPEG Stream: " No More Honey"
MPEG Stream: " Defeatist Anthem (Harry and I)"
BUG, THE Angels & Devils (Ninja Tune) 2lp 31.00
Never really imagined we'd hear Grouper's Liz Harris toasting on a ragga / dancehall record, and sadly, we still haven't, but she does lend her voice to the opening track on this, the first record from The Bug, aka Kevin Martin, since 2008's London Zoo (not counting a handful of singles). While we were envisioning Liz getting all Lady Saw, instead, it probably is more like you might imagine, the vocals still ethereal and gauzey, over a surprisingly subdued Martin production, that makes this sound more like Portishead, although a bit more brooding and tense, with some sinister synths, some tightly coiled rhythms, and some bleak atmospheres, and somehow, it works, really well, enough that we wouldn't mind hearing a whole record of Bug / Grouper collabs. The second track is actually sonically quite similar, a dark sort of trip hoppy vibe, but with some seriously thick, rib cage rattling bass, the vibe though still sort of nocturnal and smoldering, a lot like "Ascension" another low slung brooder, big beats, and lots of hiss and crunch and static, but still pretty subdued and slithery. "Mi Lost" cranks the volume a bit, but again, it's much less bombastic than London Zoo, and with way more of a focus on female vocalists, Miss Red doing the honors on "Mi Lost", a tangled ragga dub groover, with wild hi-hat skitter, and spacey drifty synths behind a seriously funky groove. "Pandi" is almost all organ, a dense, tense sprawl of throbbing drones, and lush layered thrum, the beats, when they do surface, more sort of pulsing and crackling and textural. And so it goes. The sound veering toward a late night somnambulence, Gonjasufi guests on the creepy slo-mo-soul dub of "Save Me" replete with super dramatic strings, and billowy clouds of soft focus static.It's not really until "The One", that things get bangin', with Flowdan joining in for a fucked up fierce grime workout, a crunching big beat, some Twilight Zone melodic stabs, machine gun rhythms (literally) and plenty of noisy chaos, culminating in a dense, distorted finale. The follow up "Function", is another grime-y blowout, with some awesome rapping from Manga, over a bed of gristly, ultra-distorted bass buzz, and suddenly it occurred to us, that okay, we must be in the 'Devils' half of Angels & Devils, duh. Anyway, the rest of the record plays out sonically devilishly as intended, maybe the only misstep is the collab with Death Grips, which has its moments, but is ultimately mostly annoying, especially when you hear "Fat Mac" which comes right afterward. That track's a crushing chunk of doom-dubstep, if there is such a thing (there is now), thick, lumbering beats, insane, distorted guitar buzz, maybe riffage, or maybe just blown out synths molded into something totally metallic. Wow. Couple more ragga / dubstep / grime bangers to finish things off, the first with longtime Bug collaborator, Warrior Queen, and one more with Flowdan, who kind of ends up being the surprise star of Angels & Devils...
MPEG Stream: "Void (Feat. Liz Harris)"
MPEG Stream: "Fall (Feat. Copeland)"
MPEG Stream: "Save Me (Feat. Gonjasufi)"
MPEG Stream: "Function (Feat. Manga)"
CLEAN, THE Anthology (Merge) 4lp 44.00
This past Record Of The Week finally available on VINYL, and a fancy quadruple lp boxset at that!!!The history of the legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun quite literally begins with The Clean. Impressed by a slew of The Clean's live performances in their home town of Dunedin, New Zealand back in 1980, Roger Shepherd began Flying Nun, simply in order to release the band's first single "Tally Ho." That song, an upbeat but simple post-punk number that crashed together jangling guitars and persistent organ melodies, surprised everybody with a considerable amount of commercial success in New Zealand, and became one of many songs by The Clean that found enthusiastic audiences in the US during the college rock days of the '80s, offering a quirky, exotic alternative to staples like REM, the Replacements, Robyn Hitchcock, and Elvis Costello. Formed in 1978 by the Kilgour brothers David and Hamish, The Clean never stooped to the depths of the Gallagher brother's public fisticuffs; but the band - which flushed out its membership with Robert Scott and (in the early days) Peter Gutteridge - spent more time broken up than together. Yet, their eternally catchy pop songs became the blueprint for almost all of the other Flying Nun bands (in part due to the numerous Clean related projects on Flying Nun, including The Bats, The Great Unwashed, Bailter Space, Snapper, Stephen, and others). The Clean's self-explanatory "Anthology" runs through their numerous albums, offering a good chunk of their fantastic early work (the aforementioned "Tally Ho," the "Boodle Boodle Boodle" ep, the "Great Sounds..." ep, and a couple of oddities) all in one epic collection. Edgy yet unswervingly optimistic, these songs were sloppy four-track recordings of monomaniacally simple rhythms, cacophonously jangly guitar melodies, and happy-go-lucky vocals. Also included are excerpts from the '90s albums "Vehicle," "Modern Rock," and "Unknown Country," which marked a considerable polishing of The Clean's sound, in part because they recorded that material in well established studios like Blackwing studios in London, but also the songs, while still simple in their own right, became slightly more restrained.Highly recommended!
RealAudio clip: "At The Bottom"
RealAudio clip: "Tally Ho"
RealAudio clip: "Point That Thing Somewhere Else"
CUNTZ Here Come The Real Boys (Chunklet) lp 15.98
Vinyl-only documentation of these Melbourne bad boyz assault on America last year, consisting of live recordings of many of the scuzzy, sardonic ugly rock "hits" off their two lps for Homeless and Permanent, recorded at WFMU, Gonerfest, Death By Audio and The Earl (in Atlanta, where the Chunklet crew must have seen 'em). We wish we'd witnessed one (or more!) of these shows ourselves, sadly we didn't, but blasting this LOUD while jumping around the room after downing a few tins of beer ought to give an idea. Noisy bad attitude Aussie punk as catchy as it is shambolic, that's what Cuntz dish out, live AND on record. Must have been a good time. Still can be if you grab one of the 450 copies pressed of this!
MPEG Stream: "Never Felt Better"
MPEG Stream: "Meth"
DEAF WISH s/t (Homeless) lp 21.00
More excellent noiserockin' punk pigfuck gutter-wallow from the Homeless camp Down Under (Cuntz, The Stickmen, Gentlemen, et.al.). Lotsa distortion and feedback, attack attack! Strumming guitars like shaking the bars of a cage. Ragged rough-gruff vocals, both male and female, with anguished, negative vibes lyrics galore; "Mum Gets Punched In The Face" is a song title here. Naturally, a sense of humor too. Of course, bonus points for grabbing the name Deaf Wish! (Somehow they're the only one, according to the internet.) Melody gets punched in the face a few times as well, and sometimes punches back. F'd up in all kinds of good ways.Limited to 500 copies on green vinyl; comes with download, but you're already loaded.
MPEG Stream: "Take What You Want"
MPEG Stream: "Mum Gets Punched In The Face"
MPEG Stream: "Freeze The Sound"
EARTH Primitive And Deadly (Southern Lord) 2lp 30.00
We'd been hearing a lot of gripes about this new Earth record, and seen more than a few bad reviews, most of them based on the fact that this is the first Earth record to feature singing, and not just any singing, but from guest vocalists, as in Mark Lanegan, and Rabi Shabeen Qazi of Seattle psych rock outfit Rose Windows, and heck, speaking of guests, even the guy from Built To Spill plays guitar! But don't get to freaked out, the sound is most definitely very Earth-like, and if anything it's a lot heavier than the last few records, it's still all twang flecked and glacial, a woozy, loping sprawl equal parts SUNNO))) and Morricone, and this time around, it actually sounds like the went all the way back to their 1996 Pentastar record for some inspiration, the opener, is dense, and heavy as fuck, with a killer main riff, not to mention lots of extra guitars keening and winding their way around the proceedings, the drums more of a minimal pulse, but the sky full of swirling guitars, sheets of feedback, down tuned chugs, it's fierce and fucking fantastic, and we'd have been happy if that was the only song and it just stretched out forEVER. So let's get to the vocals by starting with the fact, that we'd be hard pressed to find someone who didn't think Lanegan has a killer voice. Sure some of his record have been a bit blah, but his voice is fantastic, weathered and worn, raspy and emotional, expressive and passionate, his low rumbling croon easily swooping into a wail, and really, it's not hard to imagine why Earth chose him, his voice is perfect for Earth's slow burn dirge metal blooze, and like the first track, the sound is massive, lots of feedback, and tangled melodies, a plodding behemoth of a rhythm, and Lanegan's voice, which transforms it into the heaviest Screaming Trees song that never was, which is absolutely a good thing. The there's Rabi Shabeen Qazi, who sings on "From The Zodiacal Light", the track that had been making the rounds before the record's release, and it's gorgeous, languorous, smoldering and sultry, twangy, bloozey, a little dirge, dusky, dusty, and Qazi' vocals work perfectly, he voice smokey and sultry, and powerful, sounding a times a little like Perry Farrell too which is strange, but makes sense, that timbre of voice paired with heaving heaviness, at times we expected thing to explode into "The Mountain Sound", but instead, the track unwinds gradually, a heady, heavy, psychedelic slow burn that really, it's tough to find anything not to like about it. Lanegan returns again closer "Rocks Across The Gate", and more than the other track, this almost sounds like a jam from one of Lanegan's solo records, albeit a bit heavier, and again, it works, perfectly. Wouldn't be surprised if he joined Earth on a semi-permanent basis, we sure wouldn't complain, that's for sure. Either way, musically, it's more of the Earth we love, a bit heavier, but essentially, more blown out twang flecked metal blooze, the vocals add a whole 'nother dimension, that we are digging a LOT.The lp version includes a bonus track not on the cd, which is a sort of sonic bookend to the opener, another slow-blooze heavy psych crawl, this time with some extra fuzz and FX, but a pretty perfect finish for sure...
MPEG Stream: "Torn By the Fox Of The Crescent Moon"
MPEG Stream: "There Is A Serpent Coming"
MPEG Stream: "From The Zodiacal Light"
GOAT Commune (Sub Pop) lp 15.98
Eagerly anticipated new batch of tripped out voodoo-psych from these mysterious Swedes, their first for Sub Pop, and much like their debut, World Music, Commune explores much of the same sonic ground, fusing Afro Psych with fuzzy garage, lots of groovy rhythms, Eastern style melodic buzz, tranced out and hypnotic, minimally maximal, those strange, soaring female vox, we got to experience these guys (and gals) live when they were in SF not too long ago, and we were blown away, elaborate costumes, ZERO stage banter, the two vocalists dancing and gesticulating wildly for the whole set, while the rest of the band nearly faded into the shadows, but sonically, super powerful and utterly mesmerizing, and while we've only had this new record for a week or two, it definitely already has the potential to be just as addictive as World Music. The opener here is much more sixties sounding, all sitar like buzz, and spidery guitar leads, over a relentlessly groovy tribal rhythm, the vocals swooping in here and there, but mostly the band just locked tight into some seriously heady psychedelic hypnorock. The second track darkens considerably, channeling a sound much more akin to Spacemen 3, processed pulsing guitars, minimal motorik drumbeat, definitely sounding like the results of Spacemen 3's famous MO: "taking drugs to make music to take drugs to", but with a bit of a more tribal feel, right down to what sounds like some faux field recordings at the end. "The Light Within" starts out straight up African style High Life, before those vocals come in, witchy and powerful, and then the guitars come in fuzzed out and fierce, the song a push pull between groovy tribal psych-funk and something much more hard rocking, which in a way, is where much of this record, and Goat's sound in general dwells, and it's that tension that makes it work. Some of the tracks get much more blissed out and dreamily trippy, while others are freaked out and wildly psychedelic, and still others almost sound like sixties classic rock, filtered through Goat's cracked voodoo psych rock filter, and like the first record, the closer is a doozy, the song we'd imagine they'd finish with live, a sprawling psych jam, that builds to a seriously blown out psych-noise freakout, replete with bleating horns, layered vocals wails, and dense guitar fuzz, the whole thing swirling noisy, chaotic, and dizzyingly trippy.Like the first record, this new one comes in a fancy die cut package as well, once again with minimal liner notes.
MPEG Stream: "Talk To God"
MPEG Stream: "Words"
MPEG Stream: "Goatchild"
MPEG Stream: "Gathering Of Ancient Tribes"
GOLDEN DAWN Power Plant (Burger) cassette 6.98
REISSUED ON TAPE! (THAT'S RIGHT, CASSETTE TAPE!) For, uh, "Cassette Store Day". We're kind of conscientiously objecting to the Cassette Store Day thing becoming a thing, not that we have anything against tapes, but come on. Still, this one's a cool album, so why not, if you collect cassettes...Golden Dawn were 1960s Texas brethren of Thirteenth Floor elevators, but their brand of psych garage involves a more British invasion type sound- like Aftermath era Stones or the Kinks. OK, like the Kinks if they smoked massive amounts of the "power plant" (take a look a the cover) and were heavily into occult metaphysics. This is the only album they ever made, and it contains some pretty great poppy psych-garage gems. While not as heavy or whacked out as Texas contemporaries such as the Elevators or Red Krayola, Golden Dawn are badass and solid none the less, and well deserving of this handsome cassette reissue.
HUNGERS The Unobserved (Belief Mower) lp 11.98
Originally recommended to us by fellow Northwestern psychedelic doomgaze heavies Megaton Leviathan, Portland's Hungers return with their first full length lp, and like the previous tape we reviewed, it's another blast of churning, blackened, noise rock heaviness. We mentioned the tape sounding like the most recent Satyricon, but on The Unobserved, the band sound a bit more old school AmRep, at least on opener "The Devouring". After a stretch of trippy droned out ambient shimmer, the song erupts into a roiling sprawl of bass heavy, thick riff-ed churn and pound, the vocals a raspy growl, the band locked into an lost tranced out grind, before a brief bit of chuggy breakdown, just to lurch right back into it, sounding almost like a more upbeat, more punk rock Brainbombs, a similar sort of minimal heaviness, which seems to seep into the whole rest of the record, but then on tracks like "Ablution", things get downright melodic, sans the harsh vox, it wouldn't be hard to imagine the band on Temporary Residence, but before you know it, the song splinters and explodes into a jagged, chugging, churning noisy punk metal blowout. And so it goes, the band whipping up dense dervishes of sound, whether it be blown out blasts of metallic crush, wild flurries of tribal drummage, or lumbering doom crawls, the sound throughout locking into mesmeric metallic throbs in places, grinding noise rock freakouts in others, the band at their best when they weave everything into mesmerizing stretches of super heavy hypno-rock, lacing the sound with minor key melodies, lush textures, and plenty of epic atmosphere. Which thankfully is most of the record, barring the acoustic guitar driven closer, which takes the group's metallic heft, and fuses it to something WAY more melodic, sounding almost like some lost B-side or demo from Alice In Chains or Soundgarden, albeit a bit dronier and heavier. Killer stuff. Comes house in a eye popping red and black cover, includes a heavy card stock insert too.
HUSERE GRAV / FRKSE split (Divergent Series) lp 14.98
Finally some new music from aQ faves FRKSE, whose last lp, Guilt Surveillance, we made Record Of The Week, and for good reason. A stunning collection of home brewed mad scientist rhythmic experiments, all twisted loops, mutated samples, home built machines, noise and sonic detritus, somehow sculpted into heady, hypnotic, robotic soundscapes, reminding us a bit of Strotter Inst, but even more damaged and decayed, the sound gorgeously hypnotic, but at the same time, like the soundtrack to some dystopian wasteland. But before we get to the new FRKSE tracks, this here is a split, with another aQ fave, Husere Grav, a Texan one man band who specializes in harrowing, Lustmordian black ambience, and twisted industrial soundscapery, and these tracks here are some of his best yet. The opener, a haunting sonic smoldering, that sounds like a blackened Caretaker, all buried melodies, wistful and melancholic, but wreaths in crumbling, rumbling buzz, and burnished hiss and whir, hazy and hypnotic, we would have been more than happy if this dystopian drift filled up the whole side, but instead, the sound shifts into something even more abstract, what sounds like a field recording of some subterranean passage, the whir of distant machines, fragments of conversation, all blurred and smeared into a dreamlike sibilance, and amidst this sort of slow moving, near static shimmer, all manner of melody and texture seem to fade in and fade out, ghostly and ephemeral. The rest of the side is easily the most lovely stuff we've heard yet from Husere Grav, no caustic crunch, no ominous rumbling, instead, it's a darkly delicate sprawl of reverberant thrum, softly pulsing tones, all spread out into lush layers, deep dense billows of sound, softly haunting, deeply tranquil, some seriously lowercase, cinematic, slo-mo bliss out of the highest order. Fans of hushed ambient drift and deeeeeep listening drone music will be smitten for sure. The FRKSE side is just as good as we expected/hoped. A ramshackle assemblage of beats, percussion, rhythm, some bits sound like actual drums, but mostly it sounds like found sounds, hiss and static from old records, the clang of metal on metal, the pulse and throb of an lp run off groove, what might be plucked rubber bands, or a processed heartbeat, who knows, and who cares! The sound settles into a totally hypnotic rhythm right out of the gate, and then the sound is constantly in flux, a sort of junkyard industrial, the main rhythm, gathering noise and detritus as it goes, whether that's simply more rhythm, or thick swaths of crumbling crunch, or squalls of hissy, staticky psychedelia. Like pretty much every track we've heard from FRKSE, it's so immediately mesmerizing, you sort o never want it to end, but invariably it does, only to conjure up a new rhythm, which is equally enthralling. But here, that first rhythm fades out, leaving the surrounding sounds to swirl and shimmer, a long stretch of soft-noise ambience, that like the HG side is surprisingly lovely, only to culminate in one final rhythmic stretch, a slow brooding bit of almost doom sounding lope, but it's not heavy, instead, it's a muted pulse, a lumbering, somnambulant groove, a dreamily lovely tarpit-creep, that again, sounds like it's being performed by junkyard automatons, or some strange crew of cobbled together robots, but the amazing thing is that it doesn't sound robotic, it sounds human, and emotional, the sound infused with a haunting, pathos, a melancholia, that transforms it into something otherworldly. Fantastic!Beautiful packaging too, simple plain white covers with a piece of white plaster/gauze affixed to the front. Includes two inserts. NO download. And as you might imagine. EXTREMELY limited!
IDES OF GEMINI Old World New Wave (Neurot ) cd 14.98
Serenades from the cemetery! Neurot bring us another melancholic, majestic missive from this LA based boy-girl-girl trio, who kind of sound like a metal Mazzy Star (but not metal enough for the internet's Encyclopaedia Metallum site it would seem, can never figure that out). Featuring Decibel columnist J. Bennett on guitar, Kelley Johnson-Gibson on drums, and Sera Timms on vocals & bass, this witchy groop toured the US last year opening for Ghost (!) and we wonder how that went, the Ides Of Gemini possibly fitting in with the vibe of Ghost, being both quite melodic and occultic, grandiose and gothic, but much more stripped down, slo-mo, and serious sounding... On Old World New Wave, we get nine new tracks of their funerary shoegaze, all doomy guitars, doomy drums, and doomy - but beautiful - female vocals, soaring over the plodding gloom below, like a depressed angel singing sweetly, sadly, intoning cryptic lyrics of love and sorrow. It draws you in, each song building up the moody atmosphere, this album definitely one meant to be played straight through, for totality of effect, a hypnotic one which should leave you with fists clenched, and weeping. Another sterling outing from this aQ fave outfit!
MPEG Stream: "Black Door"
MPEG Stream: "Seer Of Circassia"
MPEG Stream: "Fememorde"
IRON REAGAN The Tyranny Of Will (Relapse) lp 21.00
Get yer moshin' shoes on!! These dudes with the amusing '80s inspired name have unleashed their second full-length, now via Relapse, showing Iron Reagan not to be a one-off nostalgia-based side-project, but a serious (and seriously kickass) band in its own right. Featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour, Iron Reagan play hardcore thrash punk metal, total crossover mayhem like back in the day when the Gipper was Prez, a la D.R.I. and S.O.D. and early Suicidal, with a dash of Slayer too. The lyrics/song titles are violent ("Eyeball Gore") and so is the ripping music... They've got the socio-political protest thing happening too ("In Greed We Trust"). A few more of the many song titles here: "Class Holes", "Your Kid's An Asshole", and of course, "Four More Years". It's what you'd hope for from a band named Iron Reagan, really - blasting drums, gang choruses, some widdly guitar shred, a few samples here and there, speeding by fast and furious, 24 tracks in under 32 minutes. Good times, kind of like the '80s were when you look back on 'em now, if you're that old.Spin this a few times, and you'll be itchin' to go out and vote for Mondale!!! Iron Mondale.
MPEG Stream: "Eyeball Gore"
MPEG Stream: "Rat Shit"
MPEG Stream: "Bill Of Fights"
JARSE Det Gar Runt Igen (Fonal) lp 23.00
It seems like ages since we've featured a new Fonal release, one of our favorite Finnish labels, and this one is quite beautiful. Jarse is the solo project of Jari Suominen, who is a member of those aQ faves, Shogun Kunitoki, as well as Kiila, both bands we have extensively reviewed in the past. The psychedelic sound of Jarse falls somewhere between Zomes and the mellower psych side of Dungen. Suominen builds his own instruments and uses a brand new, self-built synthesizer based on the schematics of the 'Sahkokvartetti', a machine which was used by the first electronic band in Finland, led by M.A. Numminen, back in 1968. It was this original synth that was used on Shogun Kunitoki's last album, Vinonaamakasio.Det Gar Runt Igen consists of four long tracks, but within each track Suominen packs a myriad of ideas - and space as well. Repeating and building synth loops coalesce into spacious structures of texture and rhythm, introducing soaring guitar maelstroms that funnel in on themselves before relaxing tension and bringing in soft-sung vocals and classical string and bell textures, all within a psychedelic shimmering skin. Lovely, hypnotic and majestic!
MPEG Stream: "Det Gar Runt Igen"
MPEG Stream: "Kuulen Jo Kellot"
MPEG Stream: "Kultainen Portti DD"
KING TUFF Black Moon Spell (Sub Pop) lp 17.98
Frontman King Tuff, along with bandmates Magic Jake and Old Gary, are back to cast a Black Moon Spell with this new full length Sub Pop release full of their usual uber-catchy, fuzzed-out power pop rock n' roll. Yep, it's always a good day when a new King Tuff hits our ears!! Once again, it's indeed enchanting, an energetic mix of distorted garage stomp, punk velocities, and bubblegum glamminess, complete with handclaps - shimmering shades of The Sweet and T-Rex, especially the latter when it comes to Tuff's very Marc Bolan-esque vocals, his fey, 'sexy' whine certainly affected but perfect in context. Everything's just a bit over the top, the melodies always soooo earwormy, the guitar soloing often super gnarly, the lyrics sometimes kinda goofy - among others, gotta love the lyrics to the lascivious "Headbanger", with lines like: "Me and you we got a true connection / I knew it when I saw your record collection / you had Sabbath and Priest and Number Of The Beast / It was heavy metal perfection / Then you went South of Heaven and my love went to eleven"! And by the way, King Tuff's the same guy who fronts doomsters Witch, so he does have plenty of metal cred, though his eponymous band's closest metal comparsion would probably be Kix - if they made a record with Ty Segall, that is (who, also by the way, guests on one song here on drums). Anyhoo, King Tuff offer no apologies for their exuberant rockin' and rollin', and why the heck should they? These are the sort of good times its well worth paying to own and experience again and again. Bow to the King!
MPEG Stream: "Black Moon Spell"
MPEG Stream: "Magic Mirror"
MPEG Stream: "Madness"
LE REVELATEUR Extreme Events (Root Strata) lp 17.98
The Third release from Montreal's synth-wizard Le Revelateur, aka Roger Tellier-Craig, former member of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Fly Pan Am, returns to Root Strata where we were first introduced with the Motion Glares cassette. Extreme Events has evolved from the flow-motion kosmiche of his last release Fictions and is much more dynamic, restless and ultimately alien. While we have connected Le Revelateur sonically with contemporaries like Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds and Steve Hauschildt in the past, this album takes us to a slightly different place. There is still an underlying flow of spacious energy, but it's overlaid with some fluorescent woven sonic textures and rhythms blunted with abraded digital decay and glitchery. The constant push-pull between space and movement give the album an organic intensity that sonically pokes and implores our eardrums rather than cradles and envelops, forcing us to actively engage rather than passively listen. The range of synthetic sounds and textures is jaw-dropping and though it doesn't seem that Tellier-Craig is deliberately trying to make difficult music, we can't really say this music is necessarily pretty either. But it has a searing burning beauty that like a sun-made diamond, is at once magnificent and soul-destroying.
MPEG Stream: "Stream Terminal"
MPEG Stream: " Fiber Miles Away"
MPEG Stream: " Afterimage Selves"
LEWIS Romantic Times (Light In The Attic) cd 16.98
Since we reviewed the reissue of the mysterious private press album L'amour by the equally mysterious single-named crooner Lewis, who was rumored to have disappeared shortly after its release in 1981, a lot has happened. First, there was a discovery of not just one, but of two previously undiscovered albums he released in the early eighties, of which Romantic Times is one, now reissued. But perhaps more importantly is the news that Lewis himself has been discovered, complete with last name, Baloue, alive and well in Canada, and he apparently has no interest in drudging up his previous life as a hopeless jet-setting and rumored bill-skipping romantic. In the L'Amour review, we mentioned the legendary rumors of his arrival into Los Angeles seemingly out of nowhere in a white suit and white Mercedes with models on each arm before running up a fancy hotel bill and studio time and then skipping town, tapes in hand, without paying his bills. While those rumors may be dubious, it's hard to argue with the cover photo of this newly discovered record of Lewis in fancy white suit with not only said Mercedes, but a white private jet to boot!If L'Amour was all about epic space and heartbreak, an atmospheric personal lament projected onto the big open landscape, Romantic Times is much more about inviting and nurturing love back into life. Some of the songs sound like classic love songs with new words, for example the opener, "We Danced All Night", is basically "Strangers In The Night" with new lyrics and a snail's tempo. The spacious synths are tempered by narcoleptic waltz rhythms from a drum machine, and there is, of course, also some romantic sax inflections. Lewis's croon is more soulful and breathy, kind of like a mumbling Bryan Ferry, that quivers and soars with each pulse of the drum machine. But with all the romantic allusions, the slow dancing, candlelight and roses, the silhouettes shot through a brandy glass, there is this pervasive creepy stalker vibe that we imagine women would run for restraining orders if they heard this music on a date. Which is kind of why we are digging this so much, the allure of romance and affluence blind-sided by some creepy sentimentality makes for an incredibly bizarre listen.
MPEG Stream: "We Danced All Night"
MPEG Stream: " Don't Stop It Now"
MPEG Stream: " So Be in Love With Me"
MEGATON LEVIATHAN Past 21 Beyond The Arctic Cell (Seventh Rule) lp 13.98
NOW ON VINYL!! We had a cassette of this not long ago, straight from the band, now Seventh Rule has done the vinyl deed! Here's more or less what we said before:Finally! New music from these aQ faves, Megaton Leviathan Northwestern masters of psychedelic doom, or doomgaze, or, well not sure what we should call it now. When we made their Water Wealth Hell On Earth album an aQuarius Record Of The Week a few years ago, their sound was definitely doom, like doom with MANY oooooo's, but even then it was blurry and washed out and super psychedelic, and at times, barely even metal. Which is where this new one lands for sure. It's definitely heavy, but it's more spacey, and droney and dreamy, two epic songs per side, the first more of a slowcore shoegaze blissout, slow, but not a doomy crawl, just sort of mesmerizingly hypnotically midtempo, the guitars warm and billowy, the vocals whispery and washed out, almost like another layer of drone, the whole thing a dreamy dirge that really could go on forever. Gorgeously tranced out psych-doom bliss of the highest order. There are strings too, courtesy of Amber Asylum's Kris Force, which just adds to the epicness and spaciousness, fans of Godspeed and all who sail with her, if you've yet to discover Megaton Leviathan, now is the time, and this is the record, er, tape. Soaring, slow building musical majesty. Henry Barnes from Amps For Christ contributes sitar and 'oscillations', again, adding to the trancey raga-like mesmer of the songs.The B side is a bit more doomy, but only a bit, the heavy downtuned churn is blurred into extended chordal streaks, and hazy black ambience, the sound on the B side hews closer to the minimal dub-doom of OM, fans of that band will flip for these guys too, the same sort of lumbering, minimal, metallic crush, but here, wreathed in swirls of effects, constantly shifting atmospheres and textures, laced with minor key melancholic melodies, pulsing, undulating until the momentum begins to ebb, leaving just a field of abstract chug, clouds of cymbal shimmer, only then to blossom into something even heavier, a murky death march plod, the bass and guitar impossibly distorted, the drums a rib cage rattling crush, locked into Gore-like minimal-metal mesmer, before exploding again, into some serious psych-doom drift, replete with FX heavy guitars and angelic female vocals.The tape finishes off with maybe the oddest of the bunch, a sort of slowcore psych folk ballad, all clean guitars and crooned vocals, still plenty murky and druggy, and HEAVY, even sans metallic heft - although, ironically enough, that track is a cover of "Here Come The Tears" by Judas Priest, from Sin After Sin!! Cool.Also - if you buy this, you'll find this very review on the back cover, ha! (That's how much we like ML, and vice versa!)
MPEG Stream: "Past 21"
MPEG Stream: "The Foolish Man"
MYRRORS, THE Solar Collector (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 21.00
The latest from UK psych rock label Cardinal Fuzz, and the first we've heard from UK psych garage kosmonauts The Myrrors, who like many of their labelmates, deliver long, smoldering sprawls of hazy, distorted drift, and slow burn motorik space rock! All four of the tracks here are built from a simple bass and drums groove, some extremely slow, some with a little swagger, over which guitars swoop and soar, the sound occasionally so blown out and in the red (like on "Escape Attempt") that you can hear the it peak and crunch, only adding to the heady / heavy vibe, a little bit Spacemen 3 for sure, but via Hawkwind, no real proper 'songs' to speak of, just extreme, and extremely stoney-y jammage of the highest order. The first track may only clock in at 7 minutes, but it feels like it could have been 70, same with the 11+ minute follow up, slowly unwinding, epic wasted zoner psych that seems to billow ever outward, like some slow motion time lapse film of a sonic mushroom cloud, slowly and gradually enveloping everything in its path, we the listeners letting ourselves get sucked under. "Ascension" adds some organ, a whirring droned out shimmer, beneath clouds of cymbal sizzle and deconstructed riffage, when the sound coalesces into song, it's a drone-y dirge, a hazy, murky, moody plod, pulsing amidst streaks and shards of fuzz guitar and crumbling distortion, the organ giving it a sort of liturgical vibe, at least until the final track, an epic nearly 15 minute slow groove, that sounds a bit like Can crossed with the Velvet Underground, but then revved up, and doused in distortion. An endless psych sprawl, that is all low slung and a little bit murky and moody, and the sort of thing that we've taken to calling BVNKVRFVNK. Bunkurfunk. Bunker funk. Which obviously means WAY recommended!As with all Cardinal Fuzz stuff, SUPER LIMITED, and while we likely can get more when we run out, they come from overseas, so it might take a couple weeks to restock...
MPEG Stream: "Solar Collector"
MPEG Stream: "Escape Attempt"
NO WAY Sing Praises (More Mutant Music) cassette 5.00
These NY heavies are friend of local noise rockers Kowloon Walled City, and you know what they say about the company you keep, so yeah, if you like your guitars thick and downtuned, your drums pummeling and punishing, and your music heavy, noisy, metallic and LOUD, then No Way will definitely hit the spot. Or more likely, they'll bash that spot in, until it's a bloody, bruised pulp. But this is not all knuckle dragging neander-noise pound and howl, these guys mix it up, most notably with the vocals, that actually sound a bit like Jello Biafra on the opening track, only a bit though, and way more gruff and growly, but it gives the sound a much different vibe, as do the dynamics, with the sound lurching and lumbering from heaving metallic churn, to hushed post rock drift, to stuttery, feedback drenched psych-noise crunch, and back again for more roiling heavy rocking dirgery. The second track gets a little mathy, some pigfuck crunch mixed with classic midwestern style noisiness, and the vocals getting even gruffer, and drifting into almost Killdozer territory, which is not a bad thing at all. "War Dance" is all math rock blooze, before exploding into something epic and massive, sounding a bit like Down, if THEY still sounded more like Corrosion Of Conformity. All swaggery and swoonsome, pocked with some bursts of explosive crunch. And finally, the sprawling 8+ minute closer, that lays down a bed of extremely thick, distorto bass, over which is laid another few layers of droned out guitars, clouds of cymbal sizzle, and in come the drums, sounding MASSIVE, the track unwinding as a gloriously drum heavy noise-blooze swagger, that is transformed into something downright metallic part way through, right down to the caustically bellowed vox, again sounding like a noise rockier Down, or even a way heavier, WAY meaner, WAY WAY more metal Alice In Chains, which again, is in fact a very very good thing indeed.LIMITED TO 100 COPIES!!
MPEG Stream: "The Cutting"
MPEG Stream: "Shake The Meat"
OVENS s/t (#3) ( Catholic Guilt) 7" 5.98
The latest (posthumous?) single from local noise pop geniuses the Ovens, fronted by Tony Molina of the Tony Molina Band, and if you've been digging Tony's recent solo lp, and have yet to hear the Ovens, prepare yourself for some seriously mind blowing pop overload. This single is untitled like the last two (and the cd on tUMULt) and like those records, this new (old) 7" is another dizzying survey of this group's impeccable pop chops. Eight songs in about 6 minutes, equal parts Weezer, Guided By Voices, Teenage Fanclub, the Beatles, the Fastbacks, Dinosaur Jr, plenty of fuzz and crunch and jangle, glorious harmonies, some shredding leads, laid back laconic vox, and as always, hooks galore, oodles of catchiness crammed into seconds. These tracks were recorded back in 2008, and this 7" is meant to be a sort of companion to the last single on Catholic Guilt. The sounds is a bit more lo-fi, but there's no disguising this sort of utter pop mastery. The only frustrating part of these micro-missives is that you'll find yourself flipping this single over and over and over and over and over, every three minutes...
MPEG Stream: "Left Behind"
MPEG Stream: "Talkin' Shit"
MPEG Stream: "Alone Again"
MPEG Stream: "I'm Not Insane"
PROBE 10 There Is A Universe (Lion) cd 14.98
Just in case you were wondering, there IS a universe. A universe in which a band from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley released a privately-pressed lp in 1975 containing some crazy sci-fi jazz fusion prog rock jams. You may not have heard that record yet, but you live in that universe, too. That band was called Probe 10, and that lp was called There Is A Universe. Imagine an underground hippie space rock band, with plenty of acid rock guitar and fuzz bass, teaming up with a groovy trumpet playing jazz cat who wandered in from some '60s nightclub. It's like Herb Alpert, smoking a lot of herb (ha). Usually when obscure private press reissues are billed as long lost psych/fuzz gems, especially when there's any sort of 'jazz' component, you have to be skeptical. But, in this case, it's actually pretty cool artifact. Super over the top with chops, and with the fuzz. The band, obsessed with the likes of Return To Forever, get busy with hectic tempo changes and rollercoaster song structures, brassy attacks, and flute too, lots of flute. And there's a big drum solo on here as well, part C of the five part suite "Invasion Of The Malladroids". Just ridiculous, really. And when they aren't conjuring jazzy sci-fi space battles with their instruments, they get all new agey, check out the babbling brook and spiritual spoken word on "To Improvise A Dream", and then there's the very first song, the title track, the only one with singing on it (courtesy guest vocalist Susan Rudelich), shrill and sweet at the same time, misleadingly melodic and hippified though, setting you up for a surprise as the band kicks into the first of the Malladroid invasion cuts immediately afterwards, some of the fuzziest, freakiest prog fusion absurdity we've ever heard.Nicely packaged in a miniature lp sleeve, the cd booklet featuring personal liner notes from two of the band members, Jim McGee and Barry "Buzz" Bachman. Also, there's five unreleased bonus tracks on the cd (a vinyl version of this reissue is forthcoming too, btw).
MPEG Stream: "Invasion Of The Malladroids: A. Invasions"
MPEG Stream: "Intergalactic Crossfire"
MPEG Stream: "Solar Winds"
PURLING HISS Weirdon (Drag City) lp 17.98
Latest batch of lo-fi '60s style retro-psych paisley-jangle garage-fuzz from these Philly phreaks, although this time around, the sound is actually a lot less lo-fi, and while we thought up until now, Purling Hiss was a one man band, this time around, they sound more like a proper group (which according to the liner notes they indeed now are). In fact, where past records often sounded like super stoned bedroom 4-track jams, or wasted zoner-psych via old school power pop, the new record almost sounds more like a weird mix of early Sebadoh and Guided By Voices, some mutant version of the British Invasion via the early American indie rock underground. But there's still plenty of seventies style Yellow Pills-y power popisms, loads of fuzz and buzz, jangle and crunch, hooks galore, but the sprawling jammage of past records is definitely dialed back a bunch, minus the occasional slow psych smolder or wild shreddy blowout, shifting into something more like some druggy strain of downer power pop, or maybe some outsider indie-psych gem that could have come out on Homestead back in the day, although these guys occasionally let loose and do some hard rocking, peppering their fuzzy jangle and psych garage thrum with bursts of swaggery, garage pop crunch.Some will miss the murk, we do a little, but with all that noisiness, all that hiss and hum, stripped away, these guys reveal themselves as an indie rock force to be reckoned with, maybe a group out of time, who could be beaming these sonic transmissions from some alternate universe, where it's always 1992, or heck, maybe even 1978, and all the bands come from the Midwest, armed with 4-track recorders, big amps, beat up old vans, long hair, lots of weed and a clutch of killer jams, and until someone can actually find that glorious place, Weirdon might just be about as close as you can get...
MPEG Stream: "Forcefield Of Solitude"
MPEG Stream: "Sundance Saloon Boogie"
MPEG Stream: "Reptili-A-Genda"
MPEG Stream: "Where's Sweetboy"
SHELLAC Dude Incredible (Touch & Go) lp+cd 27.00
The best comment we heard amidst all the bitching about the recent U2 record, you know the one that just showed up in your iTunes, uninvited (and in most cases, unwanted), was that there would have been a whole lot less complaining had we all woken up to find THIS record in our iTunes. If only...So yeah, it's a new Shellac record, and people have been freaking out (ourselves included) since word first leaked about its impending release, and its goofy/brilliant title. Thankfully, and maybe not surprisingly, very little has changed since their last record, 2007's Excellent Italian Greyhound. Right from the get go, the title track finds Steve Albini, laying down what sounds suspiciously like a lost ZZ Top riff (harkening back to that bad ass Rapeman cover of "Just Got Paid"), but then in comes Todd Trainer's ultra precise drumming, and Bob Weston's thick sinewy bass, and BAM, couldn't be anything other than Shellac, especially when Albini's sung/spoken vocals come in, and then the lyrics, a snippet of which includes the line "we'll go where the females congregate, perhaps they'll let us fuck them, and on the way, we'll have adventure", or something like that. And the sound, pure Shellac, super tight, lots of chug and pound, crazy dynamic (check out the super weirdly arranged "Compliant", that veers from some very Big Black sounding churn, to ultra spaced out stop/start breakdowns, and then some downright prettiness, along with some surprisingly croony vox!), but also UN-dynamic for much of the record, the band doing what they do best, and locking into tense / tranced out grooves, that could go on forever. Some of the tracks, like "You Came In Me" (with more 'fucking' lyrics), are super fierce, minus some goofy call and response vox, that one's a stunner, with some wild, octopoidal drumming, and one of the best guitar sounds we've heard in ages. "Riding Bikes" is a sweet curious slab of downer slowcore pound, while the beginning of "All The Surveyors" starts off with one of those parts, like the Shellac classic "Wingwalker", where live they all spread their arms out like the wings of a plane, and do a little a capella bit. Here the band do yet another little vocal intro, culminating in them howling "FUCK THE KING!!", not to mention Albini making crazed bird calls throughout. Which is kind of what makes this record (and Shellac in general) so good, and so fun. They never gave a fuck, that was obvious, but somehow now they seem to give even less of a fuck, taking the music utterly seriously, but injecting humor, whenever or wherever they feel like, the sort of stuff that to us on the outside is so obviously some sort of inside joke, or something dumb from the van or the rehearsal space, but the band take that stuff, and transform it into something as crucial to the song and sound as the music itself. That said, even without that stuff, the music itself, BY itself, is more than enough. Tracks like "The People's Microphone" are so tight, so progged out, but not wanky, it's math rock, but ultra minimal math rock, every note, and hit, concise and perfect, they're like a machine, but one that emotes, bleeds, broods, and most importantly, thinks that really goofy shit is hilarious! Like the monkey-hoisting-another-monkey-over-his-head-pro-wrestling-style cover art. And yeah, probably every review of this record will end like this, but how can we resist? Dude, INCREDIBLE!
MPEG Stream: "Dude Incredible"
MPEG Stream: "Compliant"
MPEG Stream: "You Came In Me"
MPEG Stream: "Riding Bikes"
SHIT & SHINE Powder Horn (Diagonal Records) 2lp 29.00
BACK IN STOCK! You could argue that EVERY record from these Texas via UK via Texas noise rock weirdos is sort of a 'dance' record. Every one rife with rhythms and grooves, hypnotic and repetitive, tranced out and yeah a little bit groovy. Although most of that was countered by blown out distorted bass buzz, squealing noise made by squeezing air from balloons, thick swaths of analog synth blurt, crushing down tuned bass buzz, multi drummers, bizarre and ultra creepy costumes, but really, at the core of $&$, was rhythm. And as the band has shed its revolving phalanx of multiple drummers, and slimmed down its ranks to what is essentially just one man, $&$ mastermind Craig Clouse, the sound has changed as well, with Clouse pushing the music of his previously bombastic noise rock juggernaut into something more electronic, the entity that is now Shit & Shine, instead of being some weirdo noise rockers, are in fact some twisted, avant, and yeah, still noisy and WTF version of electronic music, one that's not strictly electronic, just to muddy the waters just a little more. In fact, right from the get go, the sound is akin to the Butthole Surfers recording for Warp, or some extremely bastardized version of that new slo-mo soul sound. Opener "Hiss" sounds like Burila or How To Dress Well, but all drugged up and doused in FX, at least for a minute or two, then in comes some proper guitar some synths, and the 'band' sound like an actual band, a cleaner, more streamlined, more 'danceable' Buttholes perhaps, but in the history of $&$, it doesn't sound all that out of place, even though it is a lot different than most of what's come before. But we dig it, a noisy, rock groove, peppered with swirls of squelch and gristle, some buried progged out synths, FX that send sounds stuttering into cloud of dizzying psych, but al wedded to that unwavering groove. And that's just the beginning, with Clouse utilizing his kitchen sink approach, but in this case, the kitchen sink in question is a dirty rusty sink in an old abandoned meth lab on an empty lot somewhere in bumfuck Texas, but that only adds to the WTF of Clouse's 'electronica' and doesn't prevent him from conjuring up squelchy little bas driven synth heavy grooves like "You Can't", which sounds like some warped version of Neu!, or the ultra minimal glitchy electro skitter static of 'Pearl Drop", or the big bass, block rockin' "PG 13" that takes a super funky groove, adds some metallic vokill screech, some distort blasts of psych noise, all of which eventually devolves into a sort of eighties soundtrack groove. From there on out, there's the demented James Brown-ish "Blowhannon', which sounds like his back up band was either Earth Wind And Fire or Rusted Shut or BOTH. "Who's Your Waitress", is a shittier shinier take on FM radio yacht rock, a smooth groove, laced with just enough subtle WTF-ness to keep it confusional, "Value" is all big beat bombast, sounding like it could be some lost DHR b-side or another Meat Beat style cruncher. There's more of course, from low spun, creeps wrapped around rubbery bass billows, and dubbed out drum splatter, and some pounding 4 on the floor acid house, albeit equally acid fried, and wreathed in some creepy John Carpenter synthiness. And if you're lucky, and remain a cd person, the aluminum version has bonus tracks from the last $&$ 12", one a cool collaged rhythmic groove, replete with mangled vocal samples, skipping bass blurt, some gurgled cookie monster vox, even some guitar crunch, one is a full on disco blowout, albeit a bit distorted and twisted, and FX heavy, especially toward the end, where it seems to melt into a sort of Butthole Surfers megamix, and one is a murky skitter, that slowly builds to a sort of warbly dubbed out funk-murk electro dirge, that is about as danceable as it is weird. Which is 'very' on both counts.
MPEG Stream: "Hiss"
MPEG Stream: "You Can't"
MPEG Stream: "Pearl Drop"
MPEG Stream: "PG 13"
MPEG Stream: "Blowhannon"
STACIAN / GEL SET Voorhees (Moniker Records) 12" 15.98
New split from former aQ Record Of The Weeker Stacian, who delivers two tripped out kosmische synth workouts that sound like alien Kraftwerk, pulsing and tranced out, the tons in constant flux, locked into stiff robotic grooves, but then occasionally growing all slippery and squiggly, and then the vocals come in, weird processed, FX heavy bellows, drifting above the field of bleeps and bloops below, but somehow transforming the blessed out sci-fi synthiness into some weird fractured future pop, dizzying and drone and druggy and divine. The second track on the Stacian side slips into something a bit more lo-fi and new wave-y, all primitive drum machines, and sing songy synth melodies, but all the sounds distorted and crunchy, a little crumbly, the vibe melancholy and minor key, a little wistful, some sad robot, drifting through space, alone for eternity, and then again, the vocals, now pitched down to a Scott Walker like croon, make this some sort of interstellar torch song, epic and majestic, a sprawling slab of downer space pop that sounds like it could easily not just be from another galaxy, but also another time, like some lost eighties artifact that could have been a reissue on Medical or Dark Entries!Gel Set, who we've previously heard on a split with Windbreaker, delves into something sonically similar, weaving a minimal cold wave electro pop from squelchy synths, minimal programmed drums, what sounds almost like tablas, and some haunting processed vocals, again that sound pitched down into some spooky spectral croon. The background synths get more and more active, soon all tangled up into intricate melodies, wound around a roiling dark pop murk. The second track gets a bit more electro/new wave, sounding like it might have been transported from some alternate universe eighties MTV, but something went wrong in the process, rendering the resulting sound more woozy and warped, slowed down, and a bit sonically smeary, a hazy, gauzy, drowsy and druggy electro space pop that is definitely a good fit with Stacian. The coolest/weirdest track might be the close, which is super stripped down and percussive, moody and murky, rhythmic and -almost- funky, almost like some alien electro / hip-hop, but slowed down, and pulled apart, and stretched way out, the vocals here too a deep moan buried in the mix, it's all about the beat, and the rhythms, and it ends way too soon, would have happily listened to a whole record of this sort of warbly, alien electro-kraut space-hop!LIMITED TO 500 COPIES. Each one hand numbered. Housed in cool metallic silver on matte black sleeves.
STONE DAGGER The Siege Of Jerusalem (Electric Assault) 7" 8.98
Ahhh, the musty aroma of archaic heavy metal, like dried blood upon the brittle pages of Robert E. Howard pulp magazines... Sorry, halfway through the first sentence and we're already getting carried away, but it's hard not too when the metal's this epic! This is the vinyl pressing of the debut demo from Stone Dagger out of Massachusetts, who'll probably be most notable to perusers of this list for sharing literally every one of their members with big time aQ doom metal faves Magic Circle (who will soon be playing right down the street from us at the Elbo Room in San Francisco on October 25th, with Satan, Slough Feg and Space Vacation - aieee!!), but just a few seconds into the A-side, and it's clear they've traded in their Sabbathian Pagan Altarisms for a much hairier chested sound. Right off the bat "The Siege Of Jerusalem" slinks out of the gate with a windswept barbaric plod, a stone cold dead ringer for some lost Manowar track circa Into Glory Ride, Brendan Radigan's vocals an absolute perfect accompaniment to the torchlit din - rugged, timeless, world weary and wise, like a cross between Ian Gillan, Eric Adams, Mike Taylor from Quartz with maybe even a dirty hint of Blackie Lawless. And then two minutes in the song erupts into a driving NWOBHM stomper, all swirling guitar solos, fist pumping drums, and soaring vocals with just a hint of bittersweet lament, like early Iron Maiden soundtracking Conan The Barbarian. B-side "Black Clad Rider" keeps the high energy rock & roll heavy metal ride going, again sounding like equal parts early Manowar and '80s British metal as well as recalling Manilla Road & Cirith Ungol's hookier, more uptempo numbers. To say this demo is a promising start for this band feels like a pretty serious understatement. One of the most exciting pieces of true metal heroism we've heard in quite some time, and we absolutely can't wait to hear more!
MPEG Stream: "The Siege Of Jerusalem"
THOMPSON, HANK Songs For Rounders / At The Golden Nugget (The Omni Recording Corporation) cd 17.98
Rootin' tootin' rounders, bounders, no-good son of a guns! The hard livin', hard lovin' types who won't be tied down ("I'll Be A Bachelor Till I Die", "Bummin' Around"), who'll spend their last dollar at the card table ("Rovin' Gambler") if they haven't already spent it on liquor ("Drunkards' Blues", "A Six Pack To Go"), that's who these songs are all about. Fun stuff from rhinestone-studded honky tonk cowboy Hank Thompson, a real Western Swinger all right, twangy of voice and guitar, who sings of drink ("Teach 'Em How To Swim") and drugs ("Cocaine Blues") and other such wholesome subjects, making the low-life lifestyle sound pretty dang cool - and for sure nobody can tell him what to do, even if it might wind 'em up in prison after shooting a man down for cheating at cards. These two country music classics, Songs For Rounders (1959) and the live At The Golden Nugget (1961), the latter complete with authentic casino ambience of spinning roulette wheels, etc., and Thompson's between-song patter, are both full of such gems, mostly material penned by Thompson, as well as by Merle Travis, Hank Williams, and other greats. Lots of jumpin' good-time grooves and clever lines ("Take my glass, fill it to the brim / If I can't drown my troubles, babe, I'll teach 'em how to swim")... But Hank also slows it down for some bluesier ballads, getting serious about the likely outcomes of the lifestyle choices he had been seemingly celebrating; ultimately, singing the sad "I Cast A Lonesome Shadow", taken from a rare 7" single (the disc is rounded out with bonus tracks from some other early '60s Thompson releases).While we can't say that anyone here at aQ has ever been a big, big country music fan, the Omni Recording Corporation's various reissues like this one and others by the likes of Dick Curless, Johnny Paycheck, Porter Wagoner, have gone a long way to changing that. This 2-on-1 disc is a definite delight!
MPEG Stream: "Three Times Seven"
MPEG Stream: "Deep Elm"
MPEG Stream: "I Cast A Lonesome Shadow"
V/A Mystic Males 2 (Pet) lp 17.98
As the title indicates, this is the 2nd installment in Pet's Mystic Males series of comps, itself a subset of their Soft Sounds For Gentle People series, devoted to mellow, mystical '60s men doing flower power pop psych and folk tunes. Lovely stuff, all about girls and flowers and daydreaming and suchlike. Sample song titles: "Lady Of The Burning Green Jade", "I'm A Deeper Blue", and "Four Robins Singing". The songs live up to the titles! 13 tracks in all, circa 1966-69, featuring the following obscure "tripped-out troubadours" we hadn't heard of before: Tyree Forest, Darrius, John Dunn, Gerry Pond, Shalynn, Ed Power, Dick St. John, Paul Stoop, Richard Coronado, Stephen Hartley, Malcolm Mitchell, Art Gee, and Jeff Monn.
MPEG Stream: TYREE FOREST "Four Robins Singing"
MPEG Stream: JOHN DUNN "I'm A Deeper Blue"
MPEG Stream: DICK ST. JOHN "Lady Of The Burning Green Jade"
V/A No Seattle: Forgotten Sounds Of The North-West Grunge Era 1986-97 (Soul Jazz) 2cd 30.00
Obviously, we listen to all sorts of music here, and maybe also obviously, a lot of it is way outside the mainstream, whether it's psychedelic space rock, cinematic avant doom, dirgedronedrift, but when we're totally honest with ourselves (some of us at least, sure you can guess who), there are two genres that we always go back to. The stuff we listen to when we're NOT writing reviews, for pure pleasure, on roadtrips, on iPods, the soundtrack to many a journey, and those two genres would be eighties metal, and grunge. And for sure it has to do with our ages, and when we grew up, and what we grew up listening to, but grunge was HUGE for some of us. We subscribed to the Sub Pop singles club, we hunted down obscure 7"s on C/Z, and other smaller labels, we of course dug the usual suspects, Tad, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Green River and all the rest, but we were (and are) pretty obsessed, digging way deeper, and trust us, we could go on and on about our favorite super obscure (and sort of obscure) grunge outfits: Swallow, Cat Butt, Sprinkler, Thirty Ought Six, Malfunkshun, Love Battery, The Fluid, Green Magnet School, Gruntruck, Best Kissers In The World, Truly, Blood Circus, and yet not a single one of them are found here, nope, the folks at Soul Jazz dig REALLY DEEP, so much so, that even the grunge nerds around aQ only recognized EIGHT of the bands included on this comp, so we were super psyched to get schooled on one of our favorite genres. And to be fair, not all of this is strictly grunge, some of the stuff here is more straight up punk rock, some is pretty experimental, but some is seriously and fantastically grungy. Things start off with a band we knew and loved already, Starfish, whose girl grunge dabbled heavily in shoegaze, sounding to us at least, like a grunge version of Team Dresch, which is most definitely a good thing. Vampire Lezbos are pretty grungy too, and before now totally unknown to us, but all swagger, snarly riffage, some hard rock shreddery, that is until the song explodes into full on punk rock bash and howl, the rest of the song seesawing back and forth between the two. Nubbin are pretty great too, definitely grungy, a little bit jangly and Nirvana-esque, their song "Windyyy" borrowing the opening riff from a much more famous sing with the same (sort of) title. Saucer, who we had never heard before, are total grunge, all sort of hard rock swagger, and laid back riffage, heavy but also sort of stone-y. The first real WTF moment comes from Hitting Birth, who we were of course familiar with, but who we never considered grunge, and they're not grunge here either, more sort of early lo-fi industrial, to be fair it is SORT of grungy, but the metallic rhythms, the strange percussion, there's even some turntable scratching, makes it an interesting sonic reference point for the movement, and we do have to say, it's the coolest Hitting Birth song we've heard. Other favorites include Pod, the pre-Mudhoney, pre-Tad outfit Bundle Of Hiss, the very Skin Yard sounding Helltrout, who were considered one of the heavier bands in Seattle at the time (late eighties to mid nineties), then there's the fuzzy jangle pop of Chemistry Set, that seems to owe more to R.E.M. than anything, and My Name, who are almost like funk-grunge (and we mean that as a compliment), the all female grunge-chug of Shug, and the noisy girl-grunt post punk of Calamity Jane, and so much more. Anyone into grunge will dig this like crazy, and a bunch of these bands have full lengths, well worth tracking down, and of course, it's Soul Jazz, so there's a huge book, full of extensive liner notes, with rare photos, and a blurb on each band, as well as some appendices, like a list of various band members still active today and what bands they play in now, as well as a six degrees of Nirvana chart, that connects each band on the comp to the godfathers of grunge, in some cases in just one move, with a handful of band members having actually played in the group, and at least one having had the group play their birthday party!Available as a double cd, or a fairly pricey 4 lp set, sold in two separate 2lp volumes.
MPEG Stream: STARFISH "This Town"
MPEG Stream: NUBBIN "Windyyy"
MPEG Stream: SAUCER "Jail Ain't Stoppin' Us"
MPEG Stream: HITTING BIRTH "Same 18"
MPEG Stream: HELLTROUT "Precious Hyde"
MPEG Stream: BUNDLE OF HISS "Wench"
MPEG Stream: CHEMISTRY SET "Fields"
MPEG Stream: CALAMITY JANE "Magdalena"
VASILISK Acqua (Steinklang) cd 17.98
Akin to William Bennett's Cut Hands or perhaps to the acoustic-leaning facets of Muslimgauze or to the slightly more obscure British project O Yuki Conjugate, Vasilisk were a well-regarded Japanese outfit of ritual-industrial musicians who released a handful of albums in the late '80s. Now, they've undergone a necessary reissue campaign thanks to the Austrian imprint Steinklang. Acqua (1989) was the third and final album from the band's first incarnation. And while they's since reformed, with a couple of albums that's we've not yet heard including one with the nihilist industrial project Dissecting Table, Vasilisk have long been lumped into the continuum of industrial culture (mostly since two members of Vasilisk started out in the brutalist punk-noise trio White Hospital with Jun Konagaya later christening himself Grim), but the music of Vasilisk falls more on the hypnogogic, dreamy side of tribal esoterica. Synths, organs, flutes, and guitars float through Acqua's processional tracks. This is especially true for the lengthy title cut which has much more of the kosmische atmospherics of a Popul Vuh or even a Motion Sickness Of Time Travel, before an ominous clamor from hand-drums turns the vibe in a completely different but wholly cinematic direction. The shorter tracks follow Vasilisk's mantra-based hypnosis through acoustic rhythms, moody flute drone, and suspended ambience; but the longest piece marks one of the earliest appearances from long-standing aQ-favorite Tatsuya Yoshida, aka the ringleader of the Ruins. This is a live session recorded with Yoshida behind a drum-kit and pushing the velocity at a considerably greater speed than what Vasilisk had typically performed. Around Yoshida's Charles Hayward / Jaki Leibezeit timekeeping, the rest of Vasilisk punctuates with tumbled percussion, time-warp electric drones and more of those ghostly flutes. Limited to just 300 copies...
MPEG Stream: "Awakening"
MPEG Stream: "Acqua"
MPEG Stream: "Live At Shinjuku-Loft, Tokyo, 1988"
VASILISK Mkwaju (Steinklang) cd 17.98
Probably the most fully realized of the Vasilisk records, Mkwaju was originally released via Eskimo Records in 1988 with a xerox of a xerox of a xerox of a Diane Arbus print as the cover. This portrait of patients in a mental hospital, masked in their Halloween garb from what they could gather from the dustbins and forgotten closets is a potent metaphor for the autodidactic / outsider temple music that Vasilisk began creating in the mid-'80s. Unfortunately, the cd reissue campaign neglected to reproduce the original liner notes for Mkwaju, which stated: "Vasilisk's musick, as an expression of human consciousness and will, is an attempt to break through the cycle of determinacy and establish an independent existence for man... Ritual, based on the principle of gradual intensification, with ecstatic, cathartic climax, promotes the solidarity of life. Man acts as the responsible center of the rite." These rituals for Vasilisk are hypnotic in nature, with fundamental architectural drones, throat singing harmonics, and blurred miasmas of synths, tape loops, & guitars woven throughout Vasilisk's signature tribal percussive patterns. The somber, arcane atmospherics of Mkwaju align Vasilisk most closely with the ritual industrial practitioners that spawned from the early '80s metal bashing of Einsturzende Neubauten, Test Dept., and Dissecting Table, with all of that aggression tempered in favor of a ritualized solemnity cloaked in buzzing mesmer and transcendent aspirations. Like all three releases in the Vasilisk reissue campaign, this disc is limited to 300 copies.
MPEG Stream: "You Are Not The Target"
MPEG Stream: "The Spirit As Ancestor"
MPEG Stream: "Mkwaju II"
VASILISK Whirling Dervishes (Steinklang) cd 17.98
An eccentric proposition, Vasilisk's Whirling Dervishes (1987) was the group's first album after Tomo Kuwahara and Jun Konagaya dissolved their politically charged noise/punk unit White Hospital. Konagaya kept screaming against the sky with his aptly named industrial project Grim; and Kuyahara turned inward with the ritual-industrial outfit Vasilisk. Through the connections back to White Hospital, Vasilisk had often been associated with the Japanese noise community even as their aesthetic steered clear of the aktionist bloodletting, dada nihilism, and junkyard brutalism found in every other Japanese noise outfit. Swaddled in lush reverberation and acoustic drones, Vasilisk's hypnotic, tribal percussion and occasional psych-folk jams offer a direct link to the holy minimalism of the Taj Mahal Travellers, Angus Maclise, and John Cale through the magickal liturgies of the British industrial practitioners (e.g. PTV's Themes, 23 Skidoo, Masstishaddhu, etc.) and looking forward to the pine-cone drones of the more shambolic artists from the Y2K freak-folkers (e.g. Avarus, Sunroof!, Toho Sara, etc.). The album's title track is a 22 minute excursion built up from a fundamental drone with interlocking hand-drummed rhythms punctuated by lysergically bellowed Kecak-like vocalizations, low-key Kosmische guitar work, and circular breathing chants. The shorter program pieces which flesh out the album operate mostly along those lines with the power-tool blur and militant staccato of "Bricks" and the cagey, whispered rendition of Suzanne Vega's "Cracking" (sounding more like Current 93, mind you) as the furthest axis points for Vasilisk's sensibility for miasma drone and opiated psychedelia. This reissue on Steinklang is completed with Vasilisk's contribution to RRRecord's Noise And Junk Omnibus overview of late '80s / early '90s Japanese noise - a track called "The Ritual Mask." Only 300 copies pressed...
MPEG Stream: "Whirling Dervishes"
MPEG Stream: "Cracking"
MPEG Stream: "Incarnation"
WHITE GLOVE Summertime (Crimp Wax) lp 11.98
It all started with the MSG lp we reviewed a while back, a record called Songs From A Gated Community, a seriously damaged collection of lo-fi Casio keyboard driven suburban-nerd outsider pop that sounded like it was recorded by an ADD latch key kid, high on jello, and cheetos, and afternoon cartoons, and probably a little weed too. To our ears, the first White Glove lp sounded like that kid's older brother, the same basic ingredients, but more teenage, drug fueled, girl obsessed skate rock. So here we have full length number two from this Portland lo-fi skate-pop combo, and before we get to the music, let's talk about the INSANE album cover. A seventies skater, doing some sort of trick and spewing a huge cloud of smoke from his mouth, directed at some female shaman, calmly tending to her fire, and whatever potions she might be brewing, all in front of an epic backdrop of snow capped mountains and forests. Woah. And yeah, the music takes up right where the last record left off, a sort of minimal punk / pop, acoustic guitar, drums, weary laid back, drawly vox, the songs still about girls and skating, being bummed, and bored, the sound a bit like a more lo-fi Violent Femmes, or a little bit sixties jangle, like early EARLY Who, but WAY stripped down, the vocals this time around are a bit more polished, with some proper harmonies, plenty of ooooh's and aaaah's, and some goofy noodly keyboard solos, the music too, a bit more 'produced', but only a bit. Really, the best thing about this new record is the songs, which are WAY better. More fleshed out, still simple and minimal, but the band seem to have a better handle on song craft, on catchy choruses, memorable melodies, but fear not, it may be catchier, and a bit more polished, but the vibe is still all pot smoking, parking lot, bored small town rebellion, black light posters, beer bong, dead end job, pissed off at parents, bad haircuts, broken hearts, old mix tapes, late night cruising, small town blues, all delivered via a set of songs that we're finding surprisingly addictive!
MPEG Stream: "No Reason"
MPEG Stream: "Summertime"
MPEG Stream: "Dead Man"
WHITE MANNA Live Frequencies (Cardinal Fuzz) lp 21.00
More heavy duty jammage from these Arcata hard psych space rockers, whose sound is often described as Hawkwind meets the Stooges, and not sure what else we can add cuz that's pretty dang spot on. This new one on UK psych/space label Cardinal Fuzz is a live set from Europe, recorded on tour in 2013, and finds the band unleashing their particular brand of heavy space rocking, all epic druggy sprawls of fuzzed out stoner stomp, and droney motorik fuzz rock drift, woozy, super melodic Sabbath like basslines and some seriously muscular drumming, all wrapped up in squalls of freaky guitar-noise and crunchy, buzzing riffage. The vocals are drawled and echo drenched, and surface throughout, but really, like most bands of their ilk, White Manna are all about the jams, and like their last record, Come Down Safari (originally a picture disc on Valley King, recently reissued on cd by Captcha) the band can jettison 'the song' at any point, and head for the heart of the sun, or the outer reaches of the cosmos, or the depths of some subterranean pit, filling whatever space they end up with oodles of psych freakout ("Acid Head"), but they can just as easily lock into straight up droned out, hard rocking psych pop ("Evil"), or sometimes that above mentioned Sabbathy vibe gets pushed right to the fore, with some super doomy heaviness ("X Ray"). Needless to say, heavy psych nerds and space rock headz are gonna want to grab one of these quick, before they're gone, and it's SUPER LIMITED, and on Cardinal Fuzz, so odds are they'll be gone before you know it. Housed in a cool acid blotter sleeve. Includes a download too!
MPEG Stream: "E Shra (Stangade)"
MPEG Stream: "Acid Head (Le Kalif)"
MPEG Stream: "Evil (Le Kalif)"
WITCH MOUNTAIN Mobile Of Angels (Profound Lore) cd 13.98
The veteran PDX doomsters return, with their 3rd album of the band's "Uta Plotkin era". Her sultry, soulful singing has gotten Witch Mountain a lot of deserved attention since she joined in 2009, and this new effort once again benefits from her presence. Where else can you hear such epic, bluesy doooooom crawls with vocals by someone who, while tuff enuff, also kinda sounds like she could be a contestant on "The Voice", but crooning lyrics (her own) like "Classy, fornicating rodents / Grafting thumbs on fishes foreheads / Portentous pustules popping discreetly / Meat streaked sheets do whisper sweetly". Uta's definitely the star of the show, bringing an almost pop diva skill set to the band's heavy slo-mo sound, and she throws in a cookie monster vocal growl at least once, just to show she's down with that too. The mix of metal and melody here pretty satisfying, especially for anyone who enjoyed the previous two albums, South Of Salem and Cauldron Of The Wild with her on the mic. We just heard, however, that Uta is splitting with the band soon, so this will be their last album with her. Going back to having the guitarist sing might not be the best option, we wonder what they'll decide to do?
MPEG Stream: "Psycho Animundi"
MPEG Stream: "Can't Settle"
MPEG Stream: "The Shape Truth Takes "
WOLFE, CHELSEA The Grime And Glow (Sargent House) lp 21.00
Reissued once again! Here's what we said the first time around:Yeah, she covered a Burzum song before releasing this album, but there's a hell of lot more to Chelsea Wolfe than copping a few moves from Mr. Vikernes. This Los Angeles minstrel has quipped she writes "spiritual realm funeral songs," and that's a pretty apt description given the acoustic guitar dourness, doom-laden atmospheres, grimy production values, and witchy goth-folk vocals that come together as the perfect hybridization of Zola Jesus and PJ Harvey. Her arrangements are pretty stripped down with little more than acoustic and / or electric guitar occasionally fleshed out with a rhythm section. She puts an outsider folk spin on her songwriting, as if she were penning acoustic black metal songs channeled through the freak-folk mysticism of Topanga Canyon. This also has a lot of similarities to the apocalyptic folk stylings of Death In June / Sol Invictus / Current 93 circa 1992 although Chelsea Wolfe is far less precious with the song and is not afraid to let some blood spill as she violently scrapes her knuckles on the guitar strings. In so many ways, what she does is so much better than what Douglas P and Tony Wakeford could conjure through their cryptic folk songs. The haunting "Cousins Of The Antichrist" is one track that effortlessly exceeds the songwriting achievements of those aforementioned British esoteric musicians, with the urgency of the violent strum on her acoustic guitar stuck in minor chords buttressing the soaring vocals. Similarly, "Deep Talks" works its blown out 4-track recording of her grab-every-string-on-the-guitar-and-pull method of playing along with her wordless vocal delivery that's as impressionistic as Grouper, but with Grouper's narcolepsy replaced by night terrors. "Moses" (a track which interestingly follows "Cousins Of The Antichrist") plays on stomping Southern spirituals but turned ashen and turgid in pace and demeanor. And the album's closing number "Widow" is a bleak, half-whispered song mired in morose atmospheres and just the right amount of narcotic smoke and exhumed-from-a-swamp 4 track production values, sounding a lot like the criminally underappreciated Corpses As Bedmates (whose sole album was reissued under an entirely different band name - Venus Handcuffs, probably worsening things for the band, but we digress). The short of it is that Chelsea Wolfe's The Grime And The Glow is fucking great, highly recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Advice & Vices"
MPEG Stream: "Cousins of the Antichrist"
MPEG Stream: "Moses"