Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tanner is a plucky, pint-sized racist who plays second base for the “Bad News” Bears in the North Valley Little League outside of Los Angeles. From what I can tell, he's not very fond of Jews, sp*cs, ni**ers, pansies, that booger eating moron Timmy Lupus or coach Buttercrud. He also seems to really hate the Yankees, who he thinks are "real turds."
20 years and some 137 miles away, in San Diego, a band called Fishwife calls it quits and 3/4 of that band (Matt Ohlin, Gar Wood and Chris Prescott) decide to stick it out together under a different name (yes, attentive readers, another 3/4-of-another-band band). Together they help flesh out the 90's San Diego sound as well as the larger post-hardcore thing: using noise and dissonance to contrast more melodic elements; the chug-along; the suddenly-floor-it-only-to-slam-on-the-brakes-and-throw-it-in-reverse. They can be put in the same boat as Drive Like Jehu (Mark Trombino recorded this record for them), though having only one guitar precludes them from being nearly as intricate. But they make the most with what they have. So it’s got the chunk, the pleasing dissonance, some of the math and enough hooks to keep it interesting. "Ill Gotten Gains" is the first of the 2 records they put out and its the one I prefer. And I stole the name of this blog from one of its songs.
we don't need the bullets. the gun is enough.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Today: Antimony. Now, it would have seemed that Antimony had a lot going for them. They were 3/4 of the often-brilliant Circus Lupus (Seth Lorinczi, Arika Casebolt and Chris Hamley); their record, Phantom Itch, was produced by J. Robbins from Jawbox and mixed by Dischord's own Ian MacKaye and all in all it's not a bad record. The guitar and bass get to be louder and more in focus than they are in Circus Lupus, and it turns out they have a lot to say. There are vocals here, but they seem almost superfluous, calibrated not to interfere with what the instruments are doing. Antimony, released from Chris Thomson’s plodding vocal style, created songs that are more driving and busy and joyfully complicated. There's an element of chaos here: You're not sure if it’s all going to come off, but against all odds, it somehow does.
What's working against Antimony? The band was already broken up when the record came out. I think you call that a “DC special.” I don't know if these songs were ever played live outside of a rehearsal space or recording studio. They were conceived, labored over, detailed and polished, only to be abandoned by their owners, destined never to be played again. (I guarantee you there will be no Antimony reunion). Antimony was the aftershock or maybe the death throes of Circus Lupus. An aberration. A rumor. They burned briefly and dimly but loudly. That's right. They burned loudly. It’s as if it was time for Circus Lupus to break up and these three reasoned, “Wait, we have one more thing to say on the subject. What could we do if there were no constraints? If we let ourselves go? If we ignored those voices from without and within that say to us, ‘That is too fucking busy’”?
So. Once more with feeling and busy as fuck.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
"The current lineup continues the mixture of surreal lunacy and singalong pop sludge that have already won them a spot in the hearts of many unemployed people on drugs."
I was listening to WFMU's Tom Scharpling this week, and I heard a couple of startling things about the Volcano Suns. The first: Merge is rereleasing the first two Volcano Suns records, the Bright Orange Years and the beloved All Night Lotus Party, in January. The second: Tom Scharpling seems to like the Volcano Suns better than Mission of Burma. Sacrilege to most, but when someone gave me a cassette of 1987's "Bumper Crop" in 1991, I took to it like a 21-year-old drunk kid takes to Volcano Suns: quickly and often. It was raucous and sloppy but slightly smart and intensely cynical, ie, the essence of Peter Prescott's contributions to Mission of Burma. Loose rhythm with a lot of screaming before the verses. Kristen Hersh says that they were the first grunge band and should have been famous instead of Nirvana. I'd be curious to see a world where Volcano Suns are legends and people criticize them for an acclaim not entirely deserved. I'd also like to see Peter Prescott write a "Dear Abby"-style advice column.
I'm not saying "Bumper Crop" is the best Volcano Suns record, but sometimes your first foray into a band, or inhalants, or intimacy with your own prostate is, at least, your most memorable, and one you inevitably try to recreate for the rest of your life. As in a lot of records of its kind, the vocals are mixed down deep, occasionally causing some confusion. For instance, in "Local Wise Man" I hear one lyric as "I know that one and one comes to two/ and I can put my foot through a nun." And I know that can't be right. But I think misunderstood lyrics are like a Rorschach test; we hear what we want to hear in those mumbly moments. I mean, maybe it's me and not the character in the song who wants to put his foot through a nun. It's something I should probably look into with my therapist or maybe local law enforcement. In "Peal Out" the vocals start with a scream, then some kind of flubber-lipped, head shaking noise that Shemp or Curly might make. Then a couple of "hep heps" followed by some "whoa-oa-oa" before the proper lyrics kick in.
I booked them to play my college a couple of years after this came out. I was so in love with this record, I wanted to hear nothing else. "We've done two records since then," Bob Weston said. I understood that. But it was my (entertainment committee's) $750, and I wanted to hear "Testify."
"I'm in love with everyone/ We're all god's chillun beneath the great big sun/ But don't you put no flowers in my gun"
Friday, August 8, 2008
"I guess it really doesn’t matter what you call this stuff anymore, does it? I could tell you it’s hardcore, or indie-rock, or post-hardcore, or shriek-core, or whatever, but all that really tells you is that there’s probably lots of loud guitars, hyperspeed drums, and a singer who yells or yelps as much as he/she sings—i.e., nothing particularly substantial. I mean, if you can’t tell that this is a loud, fast, violent album just from the name of the band and the cover art, you desperately need to hang out in more indie record stores. The lines are so blurred these days that terms like “hardcore” or “post-hardcore” are only useful to music critics like yours truly.
What the above all means is that, well, despite the declaration in the liner notes that this is “NYC DIY hardcore,” this isn’t your average bunch of NYcore thrash-metal heads. It’s plenty loud, sure, but It a Weapon is much more in the vein of stuff like Sweden’s Refused, Harriet The Spy, or maybe the Dillinger Escape Plan, melding chaotic noise, Fugazi-style song structures, decidely non-anthemic scream-along choruses, and severe sociopolitical critiques. The one nod here to the scenesters (and one of the tracks closest to traditional hardcore) is “Some Guys,” a decent little rant about posers in the scene; the rest is a little off the beaten path, so to speak.
To hit a few high points: first there’s opener “This Guitar Screams ‘Been There, Done That,’” which comes pretty damn close to living up to it’s title and starts the CD off with a brilliant burn; “Adobe,” a bitter anti-love (I think?) song with a strangely catchy, almost defiant chorus that reminds me a heck of lot of Avail’s Over the James; the awesomely noisy “Wonderful, Gorgeous,” which happens to be one of the few songs I’ve heard where the feedback is almost as important as the actual guitar; and the lo-fi instrumentals “Books Lie” and “Only One T,” neither of which sound like nothing I’ve ever heard on a punk album (but both of which make me think weirdly of Space Needle).
What else can I say? Good, loud, raw rock, the kind that’s criminally under-represented in modern music. This is not your little brother’s hardcore—well, okay, it might be, but if that’s the case I’d keep an eye on the little guy, ‘cause there’s no telling what he’s up to."
-Jeremy Hart, Popmatters
It A Weapon
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I can't claim to know a lot about Hladno Pivo. Well, Hladno Pivo means "cold beer" in Croation, and of beers warm and cold I can make all kinds of claims, boasts and denials. But of Hladno Pivo, the regionally famous Croatian punk band, information in English is hard to come by. I first heard of them, ironically, in Serbia in 1996. Despite the animosity that existed between the two countries over the war that had ended only a year earlier (and, believe me, Slavs can hold a grudge), everyone I met recommended Hladno Pivo to me. And I know they weren’t offering me cold beer because, at the time, there was absolutely no cold beer in Serbia. Over the years I've attempted to find their music, with only a little success, but what I could find I really liked. The melodic punk, big guitars and occasional group singing reminded me of a lot of things. Sometimes it sounds like Agent Orange and Cock Sparrer, then it goes all Naked Raygun, and what's with that one song that sounds like Nomeansno? You probably have to be a lot of things to a lot of people when your country's isolated from the rest of the world by war. Just ask the Serbs. They really ended up jelly side down after that war.
This record is as catchy as a really catchy dose of syphilis and you'll be as happy as Vincent Van Gogh that you had one good ear to hear it with. And while you'll hear plenty of familiar things here, including melodies, this is a fun record with good production values and worth having. And I dare you not to drive faster than is safe for the loved ones in your car while listening to the end of "Ne Volim Te" (I don't love you). "Desetka" is Hladno Pivo in their prime. 1997. From what I can tell, like many good bands, they're well past it now. Let's just say I heard what can only be described as a "rap breakdown" in one of their later albums. It seems at this point they’ve jumped the morski pas.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
At first, Hammerhead were scary. Not in the Alice Cooper b horror movie way with kooky make-up and judicious employment of midgets but in the are-these-the-thoughts-and-actions-of-a-blood-thirsy-psychopath way. At first i thought that this could be the soundtrack to "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer." After a while it began to dawn on me that this is Henry's fucking band. It turns out it was just 3 guys from Fargo and none of them were Joseph Edward Duncan III.
When I saw them for the first time in Holloween in 1992. I was kind of left dumbfounded. It was loud, though not terrible fast, and introvertedly violent in a way that transfixed me. Paul Sanders beat and strangled the guitar as if he were trying to silence it, perplexed that all of his clumsy grappling seemed to make it scream and squeal louder and more vociferously. Paul Ericson's bass had so much drive and sound splitting distortion and volume that all the hair on my body fell out and my organs collapsed and then, as the corner of my mouth curled up into what looked like a smile, I soiled myself. After the show, I limped up to the band, all shiny and bald in strange places with trousers that needed to be changed and I thanked them.
"Into The Vortex" traded the etherial killer imagery for this sort of retro futuristic intergalactic murder rock. With graphics, as usual for Amrep bands. courtesy of Tom Hazelmyer. The songs still handle like like an old El Camino: heavy, lumbering and difficult to stop, with hair and some blood wedged in the grill and something unimaginable in the trunk.
Into The Vortex
This song is from a different record but I was at this show.
I used to love anything that sounded like this. Heavy as fuck but meticulously structured, like an epileptic who orchestrates their own spastic convulsions. The Drive Like Jehu's, the hose.got.cable's and, yes, the Thumbnail's. I could never get past "Straight To Zero" without punching out my stereo, my roommate and my fish monger. I'd like to see you do the same. Email me for their current addresses. This is their first record put out on File 13 and again 2 years later on Headhunter.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I wrote this long, rambling, alcohol and drug fueled rant loosely based around Mule. In some way it seemed appropriate given the well documented proclivities of P.W. Long. When I finally got around to reading it again it became clear to me that I shouldn't drink and do drugs. Then I amended that with the stipulation "while I'm writing about Mule." I think I'm going to be able to stick with this one.
if i don't six
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The truth is, I waited tables at the same summer camp Matt Sweeney went to. He was tall and lanky, had curly puffy hair (yes, hair) and played bass in a sort of Smith's / Cure cover band. It wasn't 'till I heard Skunk until I realized how far he'd got. Chavez wasn't bad either. Not as good as they thought they were but pretty damn good.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell." This phrase represents, conversely, a shit policy and an amazing album by Boston band Come. Both are 15 years old (roughly) and both need to be reheard. Plus, you don't want to upset Thalia Zedek. She's not that strong but her bony fingers will tear through your skin faster than a tragic haircut through Williamsburg.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Listen, I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers or piss on anyone's gods but in my humble opinion MOVING TARGETS' RECORDS BURNING IN WATER AND BRAVE NOISE ARE AS GOOD AS HUSKER DU'S ZEN ARCADE AND NEW DAY RISING. There. I'm glad I got that off my chest because its been eating a hole in my stomach for 18 years. Its compounded by the fact that they never got the recognition that they probably deserved. The songs on these two records also sound less dated than Husker Du. Plus, don't you just think it's time for a Husker Du backlash? People can run around denying their influence and all the cool kids can finally get behind Moving Targets. "Now with 66% less gay angst!" or something like that.
Burning In Water
Monday, July 21, 2008
This might seem out of place, but April March is swell. If you're familiar with April March you're probably thinking 60's french pop with an American accent but in 1993 on her first record as the April March persona (she is otherwise known an Elinor Blake from bands The Pussyillows and The Shitbirds) she was less Francoise Hardy and Mireille Mathieu and more Nancy Sinatra and Petula Clark. Its kitschy and its fun and no one can stop me. Download it, tough guy.
Friday, July 18, 2008
A few weeks ago I had a brief relapse into a long occurring crush on Mary Timony. I mean, she just seems so vulnerable but at the same time, unstable and dangerous. The kind of girl who holds a knife to your throat while you're sleeping and doesn't even tell you about it. Then, maybe, she goes and fucks a tv reporter from the local station who she met at a bar and gets pregnant but has a miscarriage because she drinks so damn much and huffs paint with railroad bums even though she doesn't have to because she has a trust fund and you want her to be good to herself and good to you but she just can't 'cause maybe she's evil? Gosh, I just can't help myself
i feel like candy
Shudder To Think were never my favorite band. The first time someone a lady friend played me "Get Your Goat" it just didn't do anything for me. Maybe it was just me but more and more I'm beginning to think that maybe it was just her. She was a bit of a shit and I think it wiped off on everything she touched. A few years later when I heard "Pony Express Record" my dick almost fell off. Turns out, that was her fault as well. Life can be funny like that.
I decided to stick this one up not only because its one of the best records of the nineties to be put out by a band AFTER they made the jump to a major label but also because Shudder To Think is doing the reunion mambo this fall...minus most of the band, of course. If you see that girl, don't say hello. Her mouth is a cold sore display case.
08/10 - Baltimore, MD @ V Fest
09/05 - Chicago, IL @ Park West
09/06 - Toronto, ON @ V Fest
10/03 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of the Living Arts
10/04 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
10/11 - Boston, MA @ Paradise
10/25 - New Orleans, LA @ Voodoo Music Festival
11/01 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey
11/02 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Ok, Unwound. not necessarily underrated but maybe somewhat under appreciated? Another 3 piece west coast band driven by exceptional bass playing. Saw them around this record at Luna Lounge in Manhattan. All these tall skinny boys crowded to the front and no one could see them on that short shin-high stage. I thought to myself "You're on Kill Rock Stars for fuck's sake. Why don't you demand that all the short girls be able to come to the front? Everyone will do as you say. Fuck, they'll think its cool." They did no such insisting but its an incredible record anyway. They were great to watch not because they did a lot of jumping around but because no matter how loud and hard he screamed, Justin, the singer, wouldn't move a single muscle on his face.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
This all would have ben much worse had it not been for the mp3 blogs I've been frequenting in the last few months, re- acquiring music i had already paid for years ago. So i figure other people are in the same boat. Most of the music i'm going to post here is out of print records from broken up bands. I probably should have called it that.
Also, I've never had a blog before, so go easy on me and feel free to make any suggestions. Thanks.
So, I've noticed that one of my all time favorite bands is woefully underrepresented in the mp3 blogging world. What i've seen of it at least. It's San Francisco's own Steel Pole Bath Tub and while i think i saw Butterfly Love out there somewhere and born in the basement put up Tumor Circus (Jello Biafra and SPBT) I thought I should make my favorite SPBT record Tulip this blog's first offering.
I was more or less in a perpetual drunken stuper at a small north east university when this came out. Me and a buddy of mine were listening to Butterfly Love almost full time and I remember thinking that while not being nearly as frightening as their first record, Tulip was a little more focussed. The anger and noise was there (Mecurochrome, The Scarlet) as well as the energy (One Thick Second, Soul Cannon) but the songs were just better realized. Maybe it was just that you could hear it better. You could differentiate between the noisy instruments to realize just how wonderfully fuzzy and bent Dale Flattums bass was. I used to muscle up to the front of the stage at shows to see what his distortion rig was and what they using to run those samples during and between the songs (stenographers equipment, I used to think) and hey, is Darren Mor-X just using a floor tom with a snare strapped to the bottom of it? You can hear it on the record. Things you wouldn't expect.
I think this is Darren Mor-X's video for "One Thick Second"