Reviews 11.23.09

Bassholes ...and without a name LP (Columbus Discount)
I don’t know what they serve for lunch at the Greater Columbus Senior Center, but please give me a helping of whatever Don Howland, Tommy Jay, and Mike Rep have been eating because it seems to be good fuel for rock & roll. With …and without a name, Howland and drummer Bim Thomas make an excellent album, full of great noisy songs and unexpected turns. The record starts with “Leather Boy Blues” and one of the evilest sounding mouth harps I’ve ever heard. On to “Mother, Goosed” and its excellent play on nursery rhymes and then the understated “(I like) Smoke & Lightening” with a very cool sounding thumb piano…and those are just the first three songs. The rest of the album keeps up and, man, Bim Thomas is the perfect drummer for this stuff. I thought that a few years ago when I was lucky enough to see the Bassholes live and this confirms it. Columbus Discount bills this as part of their “Archives Series”, though it was only recorded a year ago. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that the Bassholes are over. I know Howland’s been doing this band for a couple decades, and if this is where the band is at, I could use a couple decades more. –SS

John Wesley Coleman III Steal My Mind LP (Certified PR)
Judging by the cover (dude in Lester Bangs shirt pointing two revolvers at the camera) and song titles (“Lawyers Guns & Money”, “Liquor Store”, “Threw It Away”, etc.), I would have guessed this some Confederacy of Scum-style, “FTW, you PC bastards” slab of “punker than thou” punk rock. No way, not a chance. The “Lawyers Guns & Money” is a Warren Zevon cover and you can hear his influence spread across the album, as well as that of Dylan, Peter Laughner, Richard Hell, and other punk singer-songwriter types. One song in, I get to (thankfully) dismiss the punk posturing of the record cover and settle into a pretty damn good record of “adult” punk rock, something you might hear coming out of the Greater Columbus Senior Center. Side one is so fab that it is over before I want it to be. Side two starts off a bit slow, but picks up by the end, finishing with a Lester Bangs song. And, I am playing this one a few more times. Well, worth seeking out and very much recommended. –SS

Colour Buk New Nice Speaker/Don’t Forget Yr Coat 45 (Wir Sollen Wulle)
Pounding + lots of loud fractured guitar = noise jams. At times this reminds me of xNOBBQx or the Pork Queens, and like both those bands a little goes a long way. This duo pushes my patience with the A side, does me fine on the B. Nothing here particularly mind-blowing, but for those who dig the aforementioned bands, Colour Buk is worth checking out. –SS

COUM Transmissions The Sound of Porridge Bubbling LP (Dais)
Early in his life as a career subversive, Genesis P-Orridge hung out at Hull University in Yorkshire, making experimental music with friends under the name COUM Transmissions. In 1967/68, they produced a bunch of recordings, which were released as Early Worm a year or so ago on Dais. The Sound of… is a set of recordings that G and pals did in 1971 in an attempt to get played on John Peel’s radio show (didn’t happen). What’s here is pretty far out for the time: Odd spoken word pieces, freeform noise jams, appropriated music, freak improve, and weird songs. And like most things produced by P-Orridge, COUM plays with extremes. As libertine as the early Seventies was, there was no place in recorded music for a guy singing strange cut-ups over a single drum with a fellow reading bi-sexual pornography in the background. No wonder Peel passed on COUM…and that this stuff hasn’t seen release ‘til now. As the Seventies wore on COUM mutated into an extreme performance art collective and then into Throbbing Gristle. You can hear some TG in COUM, more the approach to music than the sound, though, funny thing is that COUM sounds like some of the stuff inspired by TG, particularly the Mission is Terminated bootleg, which comps TG with a bunch of experimental bands. So is this good? Yeah, but unless you are a TG/P-Orridge, cassette culture, or extreme DIY fan, you might want to check this out somewhere before you track it down. –SS

DC Snipers s/t LP (Daggerman)
With their first album, The Damned not only made a great template (what, are you gonna complain about speedy, compact rock & roll?), but a durable one; and any talented band that uses it is gonna make a good record. The DC Snipers are no exception. Two sides short and with no filler, these guys nail it. There are a few small twists, but no innovations – though I am sure the point here isn’t to break ground. Need a solid, speedy punk rock record? Here ya go. –SS

Flight s/t 10” (Kill Shaman)
This one took me by surprise. From this record label I expected something a bit arty and/or mathy and the record cover got me thinking of Man’s Ruin style stoner rock. Wrong wrong wrong. This is mostly-excellent punk rock very much influenced by 60s mod sounds, but sifted through lots of noise. I am divided about the production. It is part blown out and part piled on. At times it works and then it’s a bit too much. The vocals are processed and, again, for a listen or two it’s fine but after that it starts to grate. What this record lacks is restraint, but given that this is a one-man thing, with no one to play “Uh hey, enough with the effects,” there ain’t gonna be much hold-back. That said, I still like this record a lot. –SS

Ganglians Blood on the Sand/Make It Up 45 (Captured Tracks)
One thing that always used to annoy the fuck out of me about Rolling Stone magazine (this is circa maybe 1983) was their constant wishy washy hedging in the record reviews section. Specifically, if “they” said the record under their cock-eyed microscope was the best thing to come out that year, an unholy combination of everything great about the Allman Brothers and New Order (what have you), no matter what: 4 stars max. I think in a half decade of flipping through the reviews (mainly to see which indie bands had graduated to RS-level critical vanilla-ization…oh neat, Husker Du, how about that…) I saw one, one, five-star review and that was for Springsteen, I think. That’s another great thing about zines, ain’t no Wenner lurking over the proceedings, nixing the Sex Pistols as band of the year for 1977 in favor of Fleetwood Mac, for instance. So I can safely give this Ganglians 45 a 5-star review, I can say it’s better than any Kurt Vile I’ve heard this year, I can throw it out there that the title track is as good as any chimy-arty UK band’s best effort from the 85-92 period you could name (more epic than any Nightblooms kid, right up there with MBV), all without having to check in with marketing to see if the check cleared. It might be because this is only one lonely 45 swimming against the incoming tide of indie shit in 2009, but records like this one make me feel that volunteering to write for free for the last 15 years has been worth it. –RW

General Interest s/t LP (Ride the Snake)
This is a tough record to review. While General Interest has a sound that totally lacks originality, I like where they steal from and they do it very, very well. The sound is early 80s hardcore but not the mindless thrash rehash that’s too common nowadays (why anyone wants to rip off the Mystic catalog is something I do not understand). General Interest has studied the Minutemen, Really Red, the Big Boys, and hometowners The Proletariat. Their lyrics – including some about those misty over the reign of Reagan – also remind me of those years of my wasted youth. So while I am inclined to dismiss these guys as a nostalgia act, I can’t. This record is not only a solid listen, it sounds fresh. Good job. –SS

Mano de Mono s/t EP (Discos Humentes)
Speedy pop punk with an organ, kinda Buzzcocks gone farfisa, that sounds best when they sing in Spanish. Solid but not remarkable. –SS

Mass Shivers Torrid Sex in East Berlin/Tickled on Poppers 45 (Licking River)
Metally & funky but not funk metal or metal funk, instead picture Ides of March/Steely Dan fused with a Guitar Institute of Technology graduate riffing away. Now, that is either gonna send you diving for cover or make you abnormally excited. Count me among the former. The flip is an instrumental with builds toward numbness. Dreadful stuff. –SS

Mayor Daley Facial Expressions LP (Rotted Tooth)
New label Rotted Tooth’s first release and a fine way to kick things off. Mayor Daley plays four songs, each 8+ minutes long. Though MD relies on repetition, big chords, and slower tempos, Facial Expressions is not ponderous. There is too much space here for that. At times the music is very minimalist, even primitive, cut with USA is a Monster-style metal-art riffage. The vocals also remind me of USA is a Monster, especially when the male & female singers start to work together (or against each other). While the songs are not intellectualized, Mayor Daley has thought this stuff through. I’ve played this a few times and find new angles with each listen, which is strange, as the album seems to have very little to dive into. Remarkably good. –SS

Moon Duo Love on the Sea 12” (Sick Thirst)
Moon Duo Killing Time 12” (Sacred Bones)
Ripley Johnson took some time from the helm of the Wooden Shjips to do the Moon Duo. Like the Shjips, the Duo starts with “less is more” and then subtracts. “Love on the Sea” is basically one note/one beat extended over eight or so minutes, with some stuff swirling in and out. I’ve read some complaints that there isn’t enough going on. If I had any criticism, it is that there is too much going on. I say strip this beast down to the bones! “E-Z Street Ext” reminds me of the Seeds sans vocals, and ends in a minute or two of percussion for nice effect.
...While Killing Time, a four song ep, has a beefier sound, it is no less minimalist than the debut. However, Killing Time does offer a bit more variety. The title track and “Dead West” have a proto-goth sound to them, while “Speed” rolls with Suicide. The EP’s closer, “Ripples”, is a mellow guitar/drum meditation. Those who were put off by the first record’s “lack of things going on” might find this a bit more pleasing. –SS

Las Nurses Apples & Hatreds/So Tired 45 (Discos Humentes)
These Spaniards have gotten better since I last heard them. Here they ditch their garagey inclinations for something a bit more art punk, loud art punk of the variety done by Popular Shapes or Hiroshima Rocks Around. I also hear a bit of the Lars Finberg influence here, a man whose impact on Spanish rock & roll surpasses even the Ramones, really. Ahem. So Las Nurses…two songs, high energy, twisty, and damn good. Excellent single, mis amigos! –SS

The Nymphets I See EP (Signed By Force)
Good but unmemorable EP. Title song has a Buzzcocks demo out of the garage sound. Punky version of a Troggs hit. One speedy punker. Thousands of records just like this one out there. –SS

Pigeon Religion Dead Boss EP (Gilgongo)
The newest by a promising, young Southwest band. Not quite as immediate as the Scorpion Milk EP, but given a few listens, a worthwhile release. All the cuts have a nice sludgy swing to them and some good guitar squall. Right now my favorite song is “Henderson”, a dark thuggish anthem. No reason not to check these guys out. –SS

Primitive Hands Split Mind/I’ll Die Alone 45 (Tic Tac Totally)
The guitar fingering on the flipside track is the heatbringer on this 45, a spindly mid-70s lift that gets me every time, since I freely admit I’m a sucker for the anemic “bing-bing…bingbingbing” distortion-free jangle that makes me immediately channel the Sneakers or a Modern Lovers demo. The a-side pales in comparison, kind of an attempt at a rocker that lacks a solid foundation, but the tambourine on “I’ll Die Alone” brings it all back home. 22.5 score, alright, that’s always a passing grade for a 45 from me. And we all die alone, so don’t sweat it. –RW

Psychedelic Horseshit Golden Oldies LP (Wasted)
Psychedelic Horseshit Shitgaze Anthems LP (Woodsist )
Psychedelic Horseshit know full well what they are doing, their image to the contrary. They know that their entire catalog, fumbling beginnings and all, are worth getting down on wax, and so they have presented us with Golden Oldies, a self-released collection of their first CD-Rs from 4 years back or so, back when the shitgaze tag was not even yet an ironic glimmer in the pop-culture watcher’s eye (I wish I still had my original copies, but they’re lost to history and one too many moves). They had the best titles, those early releases: The Anticoncept; Blown Speaker Standards; Dancey Pants. The very first, the all-killer King Tubby’s Badness Dub, starts with enduring favorite “Can’t Get Enough,” and the two following tracks, including “Alastic” and its minimalistic-piano-motif intro, have aged just as well. And the rest of the collection follows suit (and not just the hits, like “Anxiety of Influence”—forgotten gems abound). At times like this I miss PHS’s original bassist Jason Roxas: he provided a relentless, muscular foundation that has not followed them into recent incarnations. These early tracks show them fully exploiting the sonic possibilities of their begged-borrowed-and-stolen equipment, not to mention the psychological weaknesses of their peers (Matt’s nasally invective, aimed with deadly accuracy at scenesters, poseurs, and, more generally, everyone), so basically—no surprises here, just great to hear this stuff again.
...There are lots of terrific bands these days, but few others so perfectly zeitgeist-y, so effortlessly quotable, so brimming with tiny, perfect, crystalline sonic moments. Within the first few moments of Shitgaze Anthems, PHS is telling us, "Let's get off the Internet and hit the streets,” as though they’ve been listening to the clatter of the online hoards and boards arguing their relative worth. The band’s supposed off-the-cuff-we-could-give-a-fuck attitude is a myth and a lie: It's not that they don't care at all, it's that they care so very much. This is a record crafted with obvious loving care by someone in love with the sound of sounds, like the perfectly recreated dub of “Dreadlock Paranoia.” There’s also classic PHS silly Dylan worship with "Are You On Glass?” (“are you on glass or just really stoned?”) and the Donovan-esque “As in Dreams Pt. 2,” a fantasy of a hippified world “frosted with clichés … and tambourines.” If I had to choose 30 minutes of music to accompany an eternal, drug-hazed, dissolute, halcyon summer, this would be it. —LB

Rib Cages Right On or Wrong EP (Lemon Session)
No frills, drum/guitar with a garage aesthetic but Black Flag style riffs and speed. Guitar, cymbals and snare are very much out in front accentuating the fact that this is a two-piece. Good but if you aren’t into bands without bass, you probably won’t get past its absence. –SS

Robedoor Raiders LP (Not Not Fun)
Over the last couple years, Not Not Fun has turned into one of the most trusted labels when it comes to modern psych. And by modern psych I do not mean hair farmers stealing moves from the past. Nah, the stuff NNF puts out isn’t psychedelic in style, but in sound, as in music that taps into “aspects of one's mind previously unknown” or something like that. Hello, Robedoor. Raiders is four songs long, each one of them featuring guitars whining and squalling over primitive, near tribal drums. The guitars sustain and play with feedback a bit, but not to the point of droning. Vocals are done in a near chant. There are a lot of “almosts” here, and that is one thing that makes this record good. Robedoor bring things right up to the point before the music falls into cliché, something too many bands don’t seem to be able to do. While there is nothing inherently loud about this record, it certainly begs to be cranked up. It also produces fantasies of seeing them live. Good shit. –SS

13th Chime s/t LP (Sacred Bones)
Little known outside of collector’s circles and goth fanatics, 13th Chime were an early 80s post-punk band from the south of England. They self-released three singles in four years and called it quits. This archival release comps their singles with three unreleased songs. Until this hit the platter, I hadn’t heard the band. Hell, I hadn’t heard of them, so this one caught me by surprise. In this day, when “everything” you want to know or don’t is on the interweb, it is very nice to be caught unaware of a band, especially when they are good…and 13th Chime are good. The sound isn’t ground breaking – it is your basic Joy Division/Bauhaus inspired music and certainly sounds of its time – but it is very good, at least the first two singles and the unreleased tracks (as strong as the singles). The third single has 13th Chime easing onto the dance floor, the typical path of such bands. Still, “Hide & Seek” and “Sally Ditch” aren’t crap; they just aren’t great. That’s a small mark against them. A worthwhile pick up for genre enthusiasts and those just wanting a taste of early goth sounds. It’s said that there is more unreleased stuff on the way. –SS

Tortured Tongues Arizona Murder/Extension Cord 45 (Lethal Triad)
I’m given to understand that “punk is back” but if that were true I would have a stack of 50 or so killer new scunge 45s crowding my turntable, turning back the legions of the mopey and the introspective with raw cock-thumping rage, or at least a dose of righteous fist swinging sloganeering. Welllll, I’m listening (new hardcore/thrash doesn’t count since at that BPM its “angry” by default, riiiiiiiiight…) and that posited 50-single stack is mighty slim at this late date. Fuckers are lying to someone, not to me. Before I turn out the lights, I give the Tortured Tongues 45 a spin, and turn the dimmer slowly back up to 10. You know from the first few seconds on each side that you are in the presence of a punker band that gets it. The vocals are dissipated without falling into Thunders-ania (think early Clone Defects) and the guitars are both drony and spiky, always a neat trick. Can’t understand a word so I don’t know if the ban is still on against Nestles’ products (???), but I can tell you the Tortured Tongues have one of the best raw rockin’ punk 45s of the annum. Encore shitheads! –RW

Unnatural Helpers / Intelligence split EP (Dirty Knobby)
Always nice to see the name Unnatural Helpers, especially when that name is attached to two good songs, as they are here. The Helpers turn a couple scrungy Red Cross style tricks. Lars Finberg and pals flip three as good as any thing he’s released this year, and I don’t think any of them clock over a minute. –SS

Jackson Van Horn s/t CS (Jerkwave)
Eel Life Cycle The World and Its Demons CS (Dry Well)
Jackson Van Horn, whom you may know as the drummer from teen punk ghouls TV Ghost, has released two cassettes in quick succession, one on Dead Luke’s Jerkwave cassette label and one under his own power, and in the process manages to put the contents of his quite nearly schizophrenic brain on display. If I didn’t know better, I’d be hard-pressed to say they both sprung from the same brain. The Jerkwave tape has a dignified, British-Invasion-era romance about it - the melodramatic twang of “Grey” and an earnest cover of New Folkie Josephine Foster’s “Stone’s Throw from Heaven” show impressive emotional depth and sonic maturity.
...The self-released (under the name Eel Life Cycle) cassette, however, is the sound of slack wit and shut-in paranoia personified, backed by cheap Casio beats. “I can’t play the guitar/though I try really hard/everyone tells me to give up/but I just wanna play my guitar” Van Horn deadpans, nonetheless asserting, “I rule the world with my piece of shit guitar.” Most of the first side is an experimental, sound-collage-y ephemera of keyboard glissandos and the tinkling of – what? A prepared piano? Some Harry Partch-esque contraption? The World… is just this side of “who cares?” bedroom indulgence, while the self-titled release is all sophisticated control, but there’s just enough THERE there to keep me coming back repeated listens … even as I get the feeling it’s telling me to fuck off. In fact, THAT might be the very thing that keeps bringing me back for more. —LB

Vee Dee Public Mental Health System LP (Criminal IQ)
Vee Dee’s new 2xLP is the usual patented blend of Mudhoney and Sabbath I’ve grown to know and love. Unfortunately Vee Dee succumbs to gate-fold fever as their reach exceeds their grasp. Total rookie move: padding what could have been a solid 45-minute single disc to fill it out to two. To make matters worse, instead of front-loading the 4-sided beast, they save the juiciest cuts for sides 3 and 4, where the casual listener might never find them. Only those strong, or stoned, enough to endure will reach the mildly euphoric pleasures of the 2nd disc. Vee Dee are supremely un-selfconscious, in the way that the best heavy rock always is, their occasional ham-fistedness exposed and even glorified, like the archetypal Shadoks basement-psych release but without the requisite 25-year wait for the unveiling. Their taste, wit, and sheer desire enable them to transcend cliché. “Glimpses of Another World” quotes Television’s “Friction” and “Wall of Fire” and “Cleveland, Outerspace” slowly build into the epics of miniature yet powerful proportions. PMHS’s lyrical themes range from Sun Ra-ish exhortations towards a post-apocalyptic utopia, general glorification of outer-space- and other-plane-seeking exploration, paranoid rants about the pressures of urban life in the 21st century - you get the drift. I admire the sheer ambition of the project, even if it fizzles at points, and there are moments of - if not greatness - a certain workaday grandeur. Worth wading into, let yourself get wet. —LB

The Watts Ensemble Crime and Time CD (Kill Shaman)
Noir jazz, the smokey, dark sound most associated with 40s and 50s crime film soundtracks. The difference here is that the Watts Ensemble has a beat that rocks more than it swings. I love the noir sound but don’t like the beat and the production tends toward slick. Crime and Time isn’t my thing. –SS

Peter Wright The Terrifying Realization We Might Be Wrong EP (Dirty Knobby)
“The Terrifying Realization….” is a fantastic soundscape – fantastic in imagination and fantastic in quality. Emotionally bleak and somewhat tortured, Wright’s composition has an alone against the world feel to it, the sonic representation of the moment when you realize that that’s all there is. The flip has two short, quiet pieces which serve as a comedown from the intensity of the A side. Excellent. –SS


Reviews 9.20.09

Baseball Furies Throw Them to the Lions LP (Big Neck)
After the first few records by these guys, I stopped paying attention. Not that they started turning out shitty records. Nah, they made good, energetic garage punk songs with a touch of buzzsaw and enough rawness to tell me that they'd probably be a great live band. But I'm not in Buffalo so I'm not gonna see them live and I've got enough good garage punk records that, well, the Baseball Furies got put on the shelf. Then Throw Them to the Lions comes in the mail and I give it a spin. The Furies are back on the Keep Tabs On list. Lions… is a great punk rock record, one that nabs sounds from past and present, pumped up by smart ears and an always forward driving drummer. This is the kind of punk that a band plays after they've exhausted the genre ghetto they've lurked in, when they get a bit older and bored with counting to four. Not that this is "weird." Rather the Furies pay attention to songwriting - a novel concept, huh?. It results in a "mature punk" sound, one that started with "Blank Generation" and We've Cum for Your Children and exists today in bands like the Hank IV. Also notable is a singer who not only sings but has his own voice, kinda a fusion of Mike Hudson, Eric Davidson and a Cajun with a broken jaw. This pup is well worth checking out. –SS

Black Pus Down Down Da Drain 45 (Corleone/Skulltones)
The list of contemporary bands that make interesting, authentically exciting, noise rock is a pitifully small one. I won’t go into it here, but Black Pus has added their name to the short list. Okay, fine, Sword Heaven and Sightings and AFCGT and a few others are on there…and now Black Pus. The drums are pounding without dulling the sweeping blade of the guitars, which are busy slashing their way through a thicket of hysteria and shattering glass, I would reckon. This thing has actual menace emanating from its grooves, and the sounds they are bashing to pieces spend some effort actually fighting back! This is called tension, and it’s something most noise-rock bands lack because they are trudging through a pre-ordained, well-worn avant-garde groove whose lack of any critical analysis from the audience has rendered the whole process a frictionless squeeze from the puckered asshole of post-Sonic Youth grayness into a welcoming, smothering gauze of low expectations. Most noise bands fail because no one can honestly tell them that they suck, since there are no standards anyone cares or agrees upon. Black Pus seems to be inventing their own standards, which is the sign of true sonic rebels. And, they ain’t boring. –RW

Boppopkillers Rocker in Wasted/Jagermeister! Yeah! 45 (Les Disques Steak)
Damn. I am so fucking tired of basic blown out garage punk. Heard too much of it. However, the French have this shit down, especially now that they aren't trying to sound like some jackass Jon Spencer clone. With the Boppopkillers we get "Hidden Charms"-like punk blasts with very nice overdriven guitar, lots of energy, good sludge and raspy Frenchie vocals. If I was in these guys hometown of Paris and some Kemp said "Get your ass to the Gambatta to see the Boppops, I'll fill you full of beer," how could I say "No"? --SS

Buckets of Bile Outside Mind cs (Speed Tapes)
Back in the mid-90s, a UK band called Crayon Summer released a terrific but overlooked seven called Kiran's Dollar. It's good, dreamy, hypnotic, lo-fi pop, sort of a down-at-the-heels House of Love. Buckets of Bile do two that remind me a bit of Crayon Summer; however like the bunches of other contemp lo-fi pop it isn't very original nor memorable. –SS

Chrome Spiders Black Butterfly 45 (Big Neck)
I know lots of people who really, really dig the late-period Scientists aesthetic; swampy, dirgey, plodding, “evil” growling vocals, etc. This sound pretty much ran rampant across indie releases from about 86-93, when every rock record that wasn’t aping Husker Du or Metallica was instead doing this po-faced Birthday Party thang: it’s all pre-Blueshammer to me. The problem with this stuff is so basic it’s laughable; it’s boring. Bands like this, and Chrome Spiders are just the latest exponent, seem to think that heaviness is a stock setting that can be achieved by tuning to a specific, predictably accessible sonic frequency. See the flaw there? It’s so predictable. You know what the last minute of their songs will do after 10 seconds has elapsed. What’s the point? –RW

Davila 666 s/t EP (Douchemaster)
To be totally honest, this particular label has been letting me down lately. Some, hell, most all of their releases are way past the tipping point between mediocre and dead average, which is all the more perplexing considering the quality of their earlier waxings. The Sweet Faces, the Wax Museums LP, the Perfect Fits…all yawnsville. That doesn’t exactly set poor old Davila 666 up for any luvin’, but I’m here to tell you that they are the band that arrested the run (runs?) of poop from DMR. All three songs on this are sing-along winners that are A-one smyle factory rock ‘n roll that recall all the naïve but sharp retro pop that flooded out of LA in the late 79s/early 80s. And unlike many current bands that dip their toes in the retro trip and choose to completely strip their sound of anything beyond the reverential (thus turning it into a freezer-burned exercise in pure pandering nostalgia), Davila 666 still sound like a “band of today”. Maybe I’ll even dust off that New Years resolution circa 1997 and start learning Spanish beyond the taqueria level so that I can sing along with the choruses without sounding like a douche in the process. –RW

Extra Sexes Gash Bulb cs (Skrot Up)
Cut-ups, loops, glitches, weird vocals over computer songs, etc. Twenty years ago this would have been made on two cassette decks and with tape & razor blade. Nowadays it is assembled with some software sound editing program. Either way, it isn't bad, but probably more rewarding for the people making the music than those listening to it. –SS

Exusamwa Please Allow Me to Induce Myself CD (100% Breakfast)
Man wakes up from coma to college radio set of Idiot Flesh, Boredoms, and Hickey, sinks back into the netherworld and is transported via rocket train to an island in a marshmallow ocean, where people speak only in Pig Latin and close their eyes when they touch you. Could be friends of Le Club des Chats or Oso el Roto. Contains members of Fat Day, Life Partners and other Boston weirdos. Sounds like an army of day-glo vermin. Would find a nice home on Apop. –SS

The Gears Rockin' at Ground Zero CD (Hep Cat)
The D.I.s Rare Cuts! CD (Hep Cat)
This is the third reissue of The Gears classic album. Like the Bacchus Archives version, this features cut from the Gears' 7"; unique to this are five demo recordings from '79, which are good but not essential. Yes, this is one of the Top 100 punk albums of all time. Yup, Ground Zero is pretty much the template for beach punk. And, yeah, if you don't dig "Trudie Trudie", you might as well give up on this rock & roll fad. But if you already own a copy of Ground Zero, no reason to put down some lovelies for another.
...The D.I.s were Gears leader Axxel Reese's post-Gears band (and not the same as the Orange County band D.I.). The liner notes to this CD state that it is "ridiculous" that "the D.I.s are an unknown quantity." To which I say, bullshit. The D.I.s are forgotten because right away they produced a criminally lackluster rockabilly EP (1983), bland like the Polecats, ugh. They quickly switch to proto-garage ('84), before becoming the Gears II ('85 - '90). The liners pump the Gears II errrr the D.I.s to be some army of punk rebel survivors keeping the spirit alive and I guess that is so, but like too many punk survivors that means the style remains consistent while the energy fades. That no one really went looking for the D.I.s post their rockabilly phase is understandable: They weren't a bad band, but why waste your time on them when younger, louder, better punkers - like the Lazy Cowgirls - were starting to blast? And, today, why spend 75 minutes with the D.I.s when there is tons of better music new and old being released?
Packaged as a "Deluxe Edition 2 CD Set", you can also buy these CDs individually. –SS

Hawks Barnburner LP (Army of Bad Luck)
One look at the artwork had me cringing - think Heath Ledger's Joker gone New England metal-noise-core (actually not a bad way of summing up this shit). I had to listen to heavy mediocrity like this each time I went out to a show in the three years I lived in Providence. Apparently Hawks operate on the delusion that they are next in line to top the Six Finger Satellite/Landed/Snake Apartment totem - but they are not - they are worthless, and the album they made is garbage. Sorry dudes, summer's over. –SW

Kaa Antilope VPRO RadioNome, April 2 1982 LP (Enfant Terrible)
This past Summer, Enfant Terrible introduced an on-going series documenting live broadcasts from VPRO's legendary RadioNome radio program (the liner notes on these releases focus as much on RadioNome as on the artists, which luckily clue us young-ish Americans in on its significance). ET kicked off the series with sessions from Belgian synth duo Kaa Antilope and Luc Van Acker (also reviewed...read on). Kaa Antilope released one elusive four-song EP in 1982 and dissolved within a year of their inception. Fred Walheer's eloquently arranged synths and singer Bernard Vranckx's John Cale/Alan Vega balancing act are nothing if not mesmerizing on "Break of Day" and "Island Girl's Game", two of the most gorgeous songs I've ever heard. Elsewhere, the sounds are more abrasive but still somehow retain the intricacies which make their more melodic songs so unforgettable. Fantastic. One of the best records Enfant Terrible has released. –SW

Love City s/t EP (Certified PR)
Vox driven, punkified ? & the Mysterians/Love, Six-Oh inspired tunes which means nothing new to the ears, but very very very good! –SS

Luc Van Acker VPRO RadioNome, December 18 1981 LP (Enfant Terrible)
The second of two LP's documenting VPRO's RadioNome radio program courtesy of the always fabulous Enfant Terrible label. I have to admit that I am out of my element here - I'm approaching this early session from Van Acker without much knowledge of his more famous work in the mid-80's with Ministry side project, Revolting Cocks. The LP opens with a vocal track, Van Acker summons the apocalypse and shrieks his way through its aftermath, and as the piece progresses his screams begin unravel down to a digestible croon. From there, Van Acker surveys the nightmare terrain via guitar, violin, and Revox B77 tape recorder. Interesting stuff, but hard to declare it essential. –SW

The Mantles Don’t Lie/Secret Heart 45 (Mt. St. Mtn)
The Mantles debut 4-track EP was uneven but still had a few great tracks on it, so on this follow up they opt to dump the shaky tunes and just keep the winners. Both songs are straight-on psych pop in the mode of the more “aggressive” Sarah Records-label bands from the mid-late 80s, a time period that is seeing more and more archeological digging these days. The vocals are delivered in that lazy, off-hand style that Mr. Reed perfected on the third VUs LP, an approach that has buoyed singers with a similar limited range ever since. It’s fine, I’d rather have understatement than bellowing technical achievement a la the castrato metal style (say). The brass ring is taken by the song that is slathered in hissing background fuzz that never lets up. I dunno how this will rate in a year, but at least I’ll pull it out for a relisten. –RW

Mayyors Deads 12" EP
The Mayyors make Chrome sound like a bunch of stockbrokers playing top 40 covers at a wine bar, Lake Of Dracula sound like a pre-teen cheerleading practice for religious youth, and Black Flag sound like candy-assed kids. I played their first single in my apartment and it vaporized the roaches, cleaned the refrigerator, paid my bills, added a tasteful patio, and made my elderly landlady explode like Andrew Robinson at the end of Hellraiser. I played it for a homeless guy and all of a sudden he had a monocle, spats, a Bentley, and a butler named Jeeves. I played it for a bald friend and he sprouted a giant pompadour right in front of me. I played it for my dog, and now he has a part-time job at Denny's. I played it in a graveyard and all the corpses clawed out of the ground and started doing the monkey. If this was a fair and just world (note: it is not), this release would have been heralded from on high, the Mayyors riding in a the Popemobile through a ticker-tape parade while grown men wept and screaming nubiles tore out tufts of their own hair and threw their undergarments at the band, instead of their impact being reserved for unkempt, socially maladjusted single people with clothes that smell faintly of urine and who enjoy blogging about records, as if their thoughts carried any economic heft (note: they don't). On Deads, the Mayyors upgrade their scuzzy fidelity for a bit more sonic space, but its not them eating caviar and thumbing their powdered noses at you, its more like giving a painting a gentle nudge to make it flush with the walls, so its presented the way the artiste intended. The skittering clouds of insectoid noise and the guitar that sounds like a UPS truck backing up in a bad acid flashback remain, just with a bit more breathing room. Four tracks on here, all of 'em sound like the middle ground between a controlled avalanche demolition and dissonant sonata fed through a feedback loop, and all of them are home runs. Holy shit. –MB

Dan Melchior und Das Menace Obscured by Fuzz LP (Topplers)
Another new one by Z-Gun office fave Melchior, he of warbley-in-good-way voice, and the cartoon-devil-in-a-good-way facial hair, comes tumblin' off the mountain at the same time as a gaggle of singles and splits with different lineups and iterations all sandwiched after one double LP in 2009 and another due by the end of the calendar year. Enough to give you a numerical headache and more then enough to make you feel lazy for your own dribbling output. Not to overstate the O-B-V-I-O-U-S here but Melchior is in danger of suffering from the Billy Childish syndrome - releasing records too often for his own good. But unlike Childish, Melchior hasn't dug himself into a rut so deep his head is sticking out in fucking China. It may be that one of Dan's recs is easy enuf to overlook, since its a better-then-even-money bet he has another tumbling down the pike destined for the already overburden rackspaces in the better vinyl emporiums, and hey hey Hook Or Crook is finally gonna give the O, Clouds Unfold double LP its belated proper release almost a decade or so after somebody went for the gold shit-for-brains competition. But that's no reason to skip Obscured By Fuzz, where Melchior does more of what he's best at: Writing creative songs which are played well. Its might not be the most flashy stuff you've ever heard, but its still great. –MB

Mudboy Music for Any Speed 45 (Lexi Disques)
Through a freak occurrence, I became a dealer of collectible theatre organ records, a gig that lead me to research the instrument, as well as listen to more pipe organ versions of "Calcutta" than a person probably should. Every once in a while a record gets a little eerie but very, very, very rarely do I find one that strays from standards and silent movie scores. So when I get my paws on something new by Mudboy (real name Raphael Lyon), I am positively psyched. On this slab, Lyon gets philosophic: The title of the record is a challenge to the listener, as well as himself, to do with the record as one wishes. Play it at any speed, play it backwards, alter it: Do what thou wilt to make the listening experience your own. That includes throwing it on a turn table and listening to it as is. And as is what I hear are two songs that swell in sound, as they crash keys. It is difficult to describe Mudboy, because even with a head full of too many Wurlitzers and Conns, I don't have a reference for his sound. Gerd Zacher? Quintron? Rex Koury? What I do hear, though, is something great. --SS

Non! s/t EP (Mono Tone)
Stripped down, neo-garage of the variety the French were thrilling people with in the late 90s/early 00s - very well put together to the point of song-by-numbers. That I predicted the garage scream in the last song pretty much tells you what is up. –SS

Bill Orcutt High-Waisted 45 (no label)
This guy played guitar in Harry Pussy. It’s funny, at the time I was very conscious that that band would become legendary in experimental rock circles, which would have been a safe call at the time given the hyperbole that was heaped on them while they existed, but think about it: who really gives a crap about Blowhole? Or any of the Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers-label bands outside of the self-fellating noise cassette/CDr culture? Harry Pussy are still both funny and exciting to listen to, especially that first LP on Siltbreeze, both of the debut singles on their own label, that double live LP…oh, and the Toxic Drunks side project single, that’s excellent noise-punk right there a la Sunshine Super Scum. Tremendous stuff, indeed. Oh, this single? It’s okay, it’s Orcutt kinda wanking his guitar sonic missile-style to varying levels of effectiveness, but nothing all that game changing, you’ll probably want it to complete the “box set”. Sounds like someone seeing what they could get out of their instrument one random day and someone else saying, “I’ll put that out.” It ain’t no Toxic Drunks! –RW

Adam Payne Maybeline Weeks 45 (Malt Duck)
Malt Duck had previously knocked me out with a pair of bleak and ethereal out-of-nowhere 7"s from Mattress and Them, Themsleves or They... but this here single is startling hyper and melodic. Judas! Payne (formerly of Residual Echoes and the undeservingly ignored San Francisco Water Cooler) goes full pop on this single, like Kleenex Girl Wonder aiming for Sic Alps with a bit of David Kilgour's "Tally Ho" organ. As wonderful as that might sound, its crammed so tight with hooks that the songs start to suffocate. It's not necessarily a deal-breaker, maybe a few more listens would open this up a bit, but I think I've had enough for now. –SW

Pens Hey Friend, What You Doing? LP (DeStijl)
Honestly, I wouldn't have picked this up if it wasn't for it being on DeStijl. I ignored that fact that Times New Viking exists in order to get through the first couple of minutes of this (hell, I think Pens tries to ignore the fact that Times New Viking exists in order to validate their unique UK "craft"), but a few songs deep I start to hear some great hooks sneak their way into my head. They are at their most terrible when they play shrill girl art-core, and are much more effective when they reveal they are not Shaggs-gone-bad after all, but are actually able pound out Love Is All-type pop anthems like "Freddy" and "I Sing For You". The constant switching between focused songwriting and pretentious posturing is frustrating. As much as they'd like to be a wonderfully strange and unique Messthetics-era UK band they are as derivative as you can get. Their only redeeming value is the songwriting talent they seem to mock because Thurston Moore might be looking their way. –SW

Pheromoans Savory Days EP (Savory Day)
Easily my favorite UK band going right now. Like all good Brit bands, they sound like they are from the Island and they have one digit poked in the past while another points to the future. Here the references are UK DIY in the form of the Prats, the Petticoats, and File Under Pop. I could also drop a Fall in there but Mark E Smith has gone beyond influence is part of some collective limey musical unconsciousness or something like that. So the P-moans thrash around the living room as they twang 'n pound, guitars slightly out of tune, drums primitive enough to matter. Four cool tunes on this one, the spectacular "Late Night Mad-Fest" being me fave, at least when "Tattoo Room" isn't. –SS

Pink Noise Graffiti Youth LP (Kill Shaman)
This is Pink Noise's third album, after a handful of singles and comp tracks, and they are doing just fine. They are one of the few bands to mine early Industrial and DIY sounds and actually make something out of them. Granted, Pink Noise isn't a Giant Step into the Unknown, but the map they use isn't trod into tatters. They also don't linger long in the past and are worth a few well constructed songs per release (surrounded by mostly good sounds). If Pink Noise has any flaws it is the over reliance on muffled vocals, which over the span of an album get a bit weary. –SS

Prunalog Susan Pentagram 23 e.p. EP (Trigger on the dutendoo)
Winner of the What the Fuck? award of 2009, PSP's 17 "song" seven inch sounds like these guys took the best 10 - 20 seconds of practice tape jams, faded them in and out, interjected a few moments of dialogue and called it with a record. It is difficult to think of these things as songs in the traditional sense of song and even trying to think of each side of some composition doesn't work. This is closer to a field recording than an actual rock & roll release and that is fine. Time capsule records are a good reference even if they aren't throw-on pleasure listening. –SS

ReachaRounds Rocks Off EP (Certified PR)
Six blasts of Samoanesque p-rock from a turn-of-the-century band of Roy Oden of Last Sons of Krypton and "Human Zoo" fame. Raw, loud, '90s out of the garage style that would have fit fine in that era. 100 pressed. –SS

Reactors s/t EP (Artifix Records)
This reissue of one of the rarest 70s punk singles on Planet Earth is going to either drive the price even further up through the roof or cut its hamstrings and drop it into 127th place behind Sudden Fun and the NY Ravers. Well, let me tell you that I think its rarity factor is definitely a big factor in play here, as my journey began on the flipside, where 3 tracks in a row did nothing but remind me of that scene in Mad Max where The Goose is looking to get some at that roadside café/bar from the singer in the band…you remember, the chick with the head full of pubic hair ululating about licorice? Well, apparently the vocalist must have honed her chops with this crew, as all three songs wither under the attack from the “powerful” blues-warble of her quite ample lung-itude. Now. However. The a-side tracks, “Meltdown” and “LA Sleaze”, are another story entirely, as both are about as punk fucking rock as any femme-fronted Cali band you’ve ever heard this side of the Avengers or Cosmetics, and they more than make up for the wasted vinyl of the flipside tracks. Break out the old editorial screwdriver once again, we’ve got a one-sided monster! –RW

Roman Soldiers Warmer/Yuppie Fires 45 (Captured Tracks)
To the quick: “Yuppie Fires” is blah, but “Warmer” is an amazing underwater synth-art-pop song that sounds like it fell out of the sky from the Heaven of UK DIY pop rarities where all the Fuck You-label tapes exist in great profusion hanging from golden trees and every angel is playing the Beyond the Implode single on their fucking lutes or harps or xylophones or whatever those busybodies strum on. I could listen to the a-side of this thing, let’s see…five times in a row, which I just done. Probably the best few minutes I’ve heard from this label yet, or from anyone else on the weird-pop front in ‘09 for that matter. –RW

Shannon and the Clams Hunk Hunt EP (Weird Hug)
It’s a garage-surf-punk record. What do you look for in a record of this ilk? I want spontaneity, naiveté, a non-slick recording, perhaps a spirited cover of a lost classic to get it back into the canon, distinctive vocals (read: local kooky characters) from either sex, one nice band-defining anthem, and most of all it should sound like it could almost, almost, slide onto a comp from the period without much distress or notice. Shannon and the Clams are lobbing me a curveball in that they succeed a little bit at all of these things, especially the “anthem” part with the ditty “Hunk Hunt”. I would instantly recognize that one played live. But, they fail to really hit it out of the park on any of the other levels, it’s sort of like the various Miss Alex White records I’ve run across; not awful at all, but looking for the perfect vehicle to really bring it home. Both bands are in serious need of a Kim Fowley-esque character to breed a little terror or ambition into ‘em…at least on record. Not bad and not mad but not moved. –RW

Stupid Party s/t LP (Freedom School)
Timeless punk rock made today - which in 2009 means go back five years and five more years and five more years and back and back and you will find pretty much the same record by a band with a different name (albeit some of its own personality). Zero point is 80s Los Angeles just as punk rock was shifting into hardcore and maybe some Halo of Flies wreckage, but that also translates to: I've heard this record before. There are a couple of stand out moments but by the time they came around, I was already bored. Redeeming qualities: It is played well and it is short. –SS

Teenage Panzerkorps s/t EP (Captured Tracks)
Here’s an idea which pops into the discussion while listening to our art-punk friends TPK’s new wax; is someone going to be influenced by this EP in 20 years? I’m listening to the bombastically declaimed vocals, which bellow hollowly over an apathetic drums-n-synth skitter (which is kept firmly chained in the background), and consider the bands’ motives for working in this style. You can’t really want to fuck, drink, dance or read to this, it’s purely Music in Opposition. I have to admire the chutzpah of just going for it but my punk rock bullshit detector always kicks in at that point, because at the end of the day I want to be entertained and this thing does nothing but frustrate that impulse. And while 90% of garage rock bores me because there is no thinking involved, the obvious flipside to that is thinking too damn much about the whole process. This EP is the flagship for the franchise of “thinking too damn much”. Theory can strangle your ass. And so, the verdict is that this EP shall resonate through the ages every bit as much as My Captains or Duet Emmo does. –RW

The Uzi Rash Group Band s/t LP (Freedom School)
If you were "lucky" enough to get on the Uzi Rash mailing list, over the past couple years you probably received more than a dozen CDrs and cassettes documenting pretty much every musical breath that Uzi Rash (Max Trashington AKA Stanley Bingman) took. Unfortunately, many of those breaths were bad, or at least uninspiring. For the first few months (I gave up after that) the CDr was Uzi Rash's notebooks. Great for him, but a waste of time for anyone with a stack of records that they'd rather listen to. So, when the Uzi Rash vinyl LP came in the mail, I was both looking forward to listening to it and dreading what I'd hear. Was it more half-assed, impulsive song dribbles or was this going to be a solid record? Answer: Pretty solid. I am not sure if these tunes were created for this release or some poor sucker waded through the last couple years of Uzi crap to pull out the peanuts. Whatever the case they came up with a good collection of songs, a record that merits repeated listens. The sound is modern DIY which owes a lot to Seattle bands the Factums and the Intelligence. There are also some lo-fi pop things going on here. All of the songs are stripped down and the sound is very boombox-ish, both things that are a plus here. The Uzi Rash play nothing ground breaking or mind melting, but that is fine. Especially considering that they/he has (hopefully) stepped beyond tossing every notebook out for public consumption. –SS

Vibes Psychic EP (Not Not Fun)
Here is a record that is so good and so far in front of the crowd that its difficult not to spew accolades and nothing else. Everything about this four song EP works - the super funky wah-wah guitar, the trashy drum sound, the simple groove of the bass, and the seen-it-all drabness of the vocals. Throw that list at me and I'd think "hipster crap" but Vibes puts it together to make a sound that is fresh and they attack the sound with enthusiasm. I don't want to over hype this thing but, man, what I hear reminds me of that oddball Sly Stone experimental funk (Joe Hicks, Little Sister) filtered through late 70s Frisco art punk, but with a rock solid groove probably informed by shit produced by Dr Dre. One of my favorite records of the year. –SS

The Wicked Awesomes Punk Holograms LP (Psychic Handshake)
When Punk Holograms started off with a modern twist on old Ultravox, I settled myself in for another sound-a-like rip-off of old New Wave. Not that "Time Shit & Crystal Snot" is a bad song; just that I am really tired of hearing the same crap rehashed by a generation who were barely in diapers - if they were even born - and gobbled up by goobs heralding said sounds as something new, when it is really just SOS badly recorded. Sooooo...I was pleasantly surprised when the Wicked Awesomes jangled into some primo Leaving Trains cum Celibate Rifles p. rock. Any New Wave moments that followed were paisleyed-out enough to keeping me happy. Tight songwriting + loose playing, propelled along by cool guitar runs and keyboard accents. I bet that these guys are a killer live band. Looking forward to them tripping out west...and more records! –SS

Wild Thing s/t EP (Clown College)
Speedy 90s style garage punk which would have sounded right on Mortville 15 years. Imagine Jetpack emerging from cryonic tank. –SS

Woven Bones Janie/Let it Breathe 45 (Needless)
It’s used to be easy to review indie records: the fast side was almost always better than the slow one. This was due to the fact that every other band was in the process of escaping their hardcore roots, so you got the residual manic energy still sloshing around in the tank combined with an attempt at tunefulness from the emerging “higher mind”. You know, they had started smoking pot or reading Jung, or something. Now, with Woven Bones in 2009, I think it’s just a case of the band being frankly more interested in rocking out than they are willing to give themselves credit for, since the a-side track, “Janie”, is a really appealing fuzz-pop song that traces its rocket-rocket appeal back to early 60s surf, while the flipside literally comes off like them attempting to play a song “slowly”, like it will lend gravity to the proceedings. Nah, it’s not weird or entrancing guys, just boring. Stick with the giddy-up, and I’ll ride with you any time. –RW

X TV Cabaret Roll EP (Zenith Records)
Here we have a reissue of a reissue of the 4-track X (this is the Australian X) EP that originally came out on the much-missed Rock ‘N Roll Blitzkrieg label like 27 years ago, I think (and was on the Why March When We Can Riot? comp before that). All 4 tracks are pretty much at the top of the heap of primal, throbbing-neck-vein, sweat-drenched punk rock ‘n roll, and are probably already known to the vast majority of “you”. If not, uh, jeez, I don’t even know if there is anywhere you can get their debut record legally at the moment, that’s what your ever-questing typographical fingers are for. It also seems that there has been some futzing around with the mix on this version, the guitar and bass are not at the same familiar levels, but unlike the brightly shitty remix that the reissue of the Absentees single was subjected to, it does not detract in any way, it only stimulates the ‘ol molecules. The only thing wrong with this release on any fundamental, human level is the sleeve: bleeeeeeeeeeeeech. Double blech. Oh well, toss the sleeve and hug the vinyl to your bosoms. –RW

XYX Momento Acido Contemporaneo EP (Skulltones)
This two-piece put out one thee best, if not thee best, art-punk singles of 2008, that’s becoming clearer with every passing month due to the fact that when a pile of singles topples over onto the floor in my record room, and I bend over to straighten them up, the XYX single gets pulled out of the accordion mess and put on to provide me with a brief soundtrack. This follow up single has most of the energy and propulsion while expanding the palette a bit more into the “arty” side of their approach. In other words, they dosed, baby. But unlike their fellow Mex-heads Los Llamarada, XYX are too damn punk to drift into the realms of ESP Recordslandsia; besides, I don’t think they’d be as good at it. There is a directness to the XYX sound that is pure original recipe no wave in it’s approach in only the best way: stripped down and aggressive, so that instead of drifting through hippie-fried sonic cough syrup they are more like a ’70 Galaxie 500 plowing through an abandoned lot full of empty fridges and razor wire, engine roaring, metal bending and giving in protest under the assault. And the lead singer maintains amazing hair throughout. –RW

Various Artists Siamese Soul CD (Sublime Frequencies)
If Thai pop music was looking for a champion, it certainly couldn't do better than the team of Alan Bishop and Mark Gergis. With Siamese Soul, they have put together one of the best compilations I've ever listened to, and that is regardless of genre. In collecting tunes for Sublime Frequencies second volume of Thai Pop, they have come up with 15 winners. Every song on this CD is good, most of the songs are great. True to the title, the songs are as soulful as they are "Siamese," funky grooves are mixed with traditional instruments and vocal styles, and nowhere is there one bit of kitsch or novelty. This collection was put together by and is for serious music freaks, though it will also please those looking to stretch their tastes. And for those of us who have gotten a bit jaded, there are more than a few cuts here that will melt your mind, particularly the two by Kwan Jai & Kwan Jit Sriprajan, which have some of the best vocals I've ever heard. Bishop says "...this is the tip of the iceberg-so many more comps to come...we're dealin with hundreds of top flite tracks to comp in the coming years from thousands of tapes, 45s and lps we have now!" Right fucking on! –SS

Columbus Discount Singles Club rundown

Cheater Slicks Erotic Woman 45 (Columbus Discount)
The Cheater Slicks, unwaveringly primordial garage mutants, de-volving ever further as they age, unleash their sensual side with “Erotic Woman.” Drummer Dana Hatch’s death-rattle yelp is, surprisingly, not terribly sexy (“COME ON!! Erotic Woman!”), but their explicit lack of sex appeal has never stopped them from delivering the goods straight from the groin (check out Tom Shannon’s subtle hip-thrusting when you see them live). But the B-side cover - as usual - of the Outcry’s (some long-lost MI rockers) “Can’t You Hear (My Heartbeat)” - wins as the Cheater Slicks, once again, tap into an eternal vein of hormonal, sweat-soaked truth. –LB

Jim Shepard The Voices of Men 45 (Columbus Discount)
The extra-special super secret surprise record in this series, as promised by the head honchos of CDR, is a marginal-music nerd’s wet dream. It took me years to be persuaded of Jim Shepard’s genius because I’ve lived in Columbus long enough to realize that it’s often supportive to a fault and trust me, I’ve heard the same sort of evangelizing about far lesser groups. There’s simply no reason to think that every 7” shat out by any band that was a Tuesday night regular at Stache’s is worth revisiting. But Shepard, as you probably knew long before me, is the Real Thing, and sealed the deal by hanging himself in 1998, taking leave of a world that appeared to have lost its luster for him many years before. Anyway, this one-sided gem from the vaults (there’s some back story involving Shepard’s widow and her desire to keep this song out of the public’s hands, for whatever reason, and how CDR got a hold of it … you’ll have to ask them) is reminiscent of Husker Du’s introspective moments. He collaborates here with Nudge Squidfish and the result, with its backdrop of droning voices and dread, is truly great and truly disturbing. Appropriately, the voice of Rev. Jim Jones is heard as the song fades out. –LB

Guinea Worms I Know Where Will Foster Lives 45 (Columbus Discount)
Will Foster’s eternal man-child persona cracks a bit on this edition of the CDR Singles Club Year One. Where he’s usually talking about snack cakes and ghosts, he’s now talking about being a stud (if a mutant one). The A-side opens with lecherous horns and a stiff-gaited riff before launching into a creepy and hilarious self-examination: “I know where Will Foster lives/I know how big his ego is.” The flip side, the freak anthem “C.H.U.D.,” is the usual crude blues grind, a 4-note non-riff that is the heart of the Worms’ oeuvre. As you know, that’s short for “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.” So they’re still somewhat obsessed with monsters of the radioactive sort (and not just monstrous egos). On toxic orange clear vinyl. –LB

Little Claw Prickly Pear 45 (Columbus Discount)
The first time I saw Little Claw, maybe 5 or more years ago, they were the worst band I had seen up to that point in time. The drummer (Jaime from the Piranhas, I believe?) refused to deviate from his monotonous caveman thudding the entire set; Kilynn I pegged as a hopelessly amateur Patti Smith impersonator, and Heath—well, Heath has always just been Heath. Still, there was something impressive about their commitment to this absurd spectacle, and now, several years later, that dedication bears fruit in their most recent recordings. “Prickly Pear” is precociously avant-garde, and proves that indulging LC’s sometimes tedious meanderings can pay off (still, they probably could have cut the last minute or two off the song’s hand-percussion coda). The flip, “Crawl Around Inside”, is womb-like in its claustrophobia, with a slow, opiate guitar riff that echoes densely throughout the song, and it’s become one of my favorite LC jams after a few listens. When it works, it works, and you have to admire their insistence on just putting everything out there and letting the listener sort it out. –LB

TV Ghost The Fiend 45 (Columbus Discount)
So, TV Ghost’s recently-released first full-length LP is in retrospect maybe a bit of a disappointment, considering I had such very high expectations for it. How could I not: these guys are so unrelenting live, so commanding, I couldn’t imagine Cold Fish being anything other than a mind-melter. And it’s … good. Really good. But over the course of a full-length, their lurching gothic punk gets a little formulaic. “The Fiend” is more in that vein—and let’s face it, as formulas go, it’s a great one—but it doesn’t really bleed like their live show. The B-side, though, bodes well for the future. The tension is slow-burning instead of explosive, and metallic guitar shards ping like shells on pavement. Recorded by Tom Shannon (Cheater Slicks) and Will Foster (Guinea Worms) as a dramatic vortex of echo, “Prodrome” indicates they could be the modern Midwest equivalent of the Pop Group. While the Pop Group were motivated by a visceral existential nausea, though, TVG just seem attracted to the dark glamour of the undertow. –LB

Dan Melchior und Das Menace The Post Office Line 45(Columbus Discount)
Dan Melchior, like fellow curmudgeon Ben Waller, is here to tell you what’s wrong with what. Like the Rebel, Melchior is dry of wit and a sharp observer of human nature, and ridiculously prolific to boot. And he doesn’t shy away from the provocative phrase: “An urban brown clown filled with crack.” or “A post office line filled with peasant rage.” Melchior’s crankiness is tempered with compassion, though; he clearly pities the miserable fools with whom he has to share society, the “Tourists” in the B-side song of the same name (and the highlight of this release). Alternating a quiet contemplation of his inability to argue facts with the great unwashed, and a ridiculously vicious recurring blast of guitar noise driven by a sledgehammer drumbeat, Melchior’s mirthful anger and disappointment are, as usual, on raw display for your amusement, edification, and commiseration. –LB

Mike Rep Donovan’s Brain 45 (Columbus Discount)
Mike Rep, local treasure, legendary eccentric, and wizard (maybe), offers a twisted tribute to two pop heroes on this latest nugget dug up from the backlog of Harrisburg Player recordings. If you suspect “Donovan’s Brain” is about abducting the Sunshine Superman’s gray matter from the scene of a car accident and holding it hostage for experimentation in a lab - well, you’d be right about that. Ridiculously catchy and just plain old ridiculous. The B is a short and sick ditty sung to the tune of “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” that celebrates the messy end of one Jim Croce. I don’t think you can ask for any better in death than to be immortalized by Columbus’ high priest of rock. Too bad, Jim - and most likely Donovan, either, though he’s alive, ALIVE! - won’t ever get to hear it. –LB

....And, yes, we are working on Z Gun 4. We are aiming for November....


Reviews 5.25.09

Big Cheap Motel LP (Siltbreeze)
Boring old context: The Axemen are legendary Kiwi sound terrorists, they were active in the 80s, back when the Kiwis still knew how to bang out fantastic riffs without coating them in studio gloss or drowning them in spiderwebby melancholia. The Axemen have one stupidly fantastic double LP called Three Virgins and another only slightly less jaw-bopping disc called Derry Legend. The former is organized chaos, the latter great guitar-pop. This LP is neither; it’s a legit reissue of a 1984 cassette that makes the chaos of Three Virgins sound like a Windham Hill sampler. So, a review of this record is a more a review of you, dear reader. If you want to hear a record that evokes nothing so much as chopped salad, with great song fragments ricocheting off each other a la the more crazed sections of the Homosexuals box set (this record, according to the liners, was written in a day or something in response to a series of advertising billboards) with the occasional brilliant song shining though the confusion: then here’s your date for next Saturday. The rest of you waiting for something that makes you think you can slot it in next to the New Bomb Turks, Episode Six, Detroit Cobras, Regulations or Flamin’ Groovies, well, you’re going to want to hit the next bin over. More nearly almost free acid from Siltbreeze. –RW

Bare Wires Let Down 45 (Milk'N'Herpes)
On the title track, there's Matt Melton's trademark guitar drive, only it's softer, a lot more lo-fi and generally catchier than what we've heard outta him before. The flip, "Looking for Some Action", is more illuminating and a better representative of this band as opposed to his others (what makes one tune a Bare Wire while the other is a Snakeflower?). Bare Wires are a move away from Melton's "Biker-Psych" to something that they call "Smooth Punk" (I'm not lying). They even call it "Soft Punk". Can you believe this shit??? This is the world we live in now. Soft Punk. FUCK. Embarrassingly, I even understand exactly what they are talking about...and it works. SHIT. It's good. –MC

Bloody Gears s/t cs (self-released)
Toxic Reason-style punk rock that is played well but is also played safe. No new sounds here, though, to be fair, I don’t think Bloody Gears have any intention of breaking out of a 30+ year punk mold. Good for what it is. –SS

Brilliant Colors s/t EP (Make A Mess)
Brilliant Colors Highly Evolved EP (Captured Tracks)
Early 90s indie pop is back in a big way nowadays, no real problem with this development in this corner. I thought that sound got diverted way too quickly (and exclusively) onto the CD, and later CD-R, formats for its own good (the records got too damn long for one thing). You could still track down good shakey-grate on labels like Blackbean & Placenta, but too many of the bands by mid-decade had incorporated noisy bits that cut the songwriting quotient with pure laziness; or they went all-acoustic “Elliot Smith” world-weary sob sister on you. I bailed completely. The debut EP by Brilliant Colors brings it all back into focus, from the vocals (a very confident twelve -year -old gurl I reckon), to the stinging guitar riffs (front and center in the mix), to the references on display (late-80s K Records and mid-80s Flying Nun). It’s all a non-diabetes-inducing pop-rocks coma for all comers. The follow up on Captured Tracks goes whole-hog for the FN soundz, a bit to its detriment methinks. Where the debut effectively maps out several different styles, this one sticks to that one vein, but the flipside track, “Takes So Little”, saves it from spiraling into the froth. When the guitar leaps out of the murk and lightly slaps you across the chops about 2/3 of the way through, the band all at once seems to get a third and fourth wind and sprints up to the finish line. I love that shifting mid-song dynamic, more bands should, uh, rip off Brilliant Colors in turn. Shamelessly. Please. –RW

Calle Debauche s/t CD (Egg Helmet)
Ethnic music from an indie rock approach or, to be a bit more exact, Calle Debache sounds like a Klezmer band with a Zappa obsession and some fondness for Mickey Katz. Technically there is nothing wrong here. The musicianship is pretty insane. The playing is spot on. However, this CD would be more at home featured on NPR than sitting in my music machine. –SS

Christian Mistress s/t cs (self-released)
Got this one by mistake; it was in the tape case for a Milk Music demo. Fine by me: this Olympia band kills. It's New Wave of American Bands Influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal or NWOABINTNWOBHM for short. While the vocals take a few to get into, the guitars rip like junior Judas Priest fanatics. The music does the speedy plod that is typical of the stuff on NWOBHM indie singles. A good solid four song demo. –SS

El Jesus de Magico Scalping the Guru LP (Columbus Discount)
The last thing I reviewed by El Jesus was their debut CD and I dumped on that as much as one can dump on an album, so I have to say that this record is a pleasant surprise. El Jesus has creamed up a good goo of CLE '75 and OZ '83 or so, for one long song (actually three songs strung together) that would have fit on Homestead during its prime. The album's flip treads similar territory (think mod psych + Death of Samantha). Though I gotta say that starting the side with a couple minutes of contact mic nonsense had me up to the television to see what Dr. House was doing (sending himself into insulin shock, in case you were wondering) and over to Antiques Roadshow during the commercials. Listen, you: Bad move, cut the art, keep the momentum going. Still, this is an excellent album, far far far far better than their debut. –SS

Ebonics Rock ‘N Roll EP (Daggerman)
Wow, I haven’t seen a freehand cartoon-comics-style 7” cover this ‘tarded since another local outfit name of the Neumans, from out of the South Bay, spat out a late 90s garage punk classic that this outfit could only wish they were the equal of. Which isn’t to say that this thing is bad or a waste of your hard-earned, hell, both of the B side tracks are solid punk rawk that would’ve done mid-90s Empty Records proud. Makes me think dreamily of ye olde Kent 3, in fact, before they swallered the Goofy Dada Kool Aid. The problem is a lack of ambition, a flat sound, a lack of zazz, zip or zim. Nothing jumps off this record and kicks my nads through the uprights for that extra special point. I’ll go see them live and report back… –RW

Endangered Ape Ape Shall Not Kill Ape CD-R (self released)
Smart move these Apes did releasing these songs as a demo and not pressing it to vinyl. Though there is nothing remarkable here, the sounds are promising. The band has three styles: sloppy pop punk, near melodic thug pound ala Hank IV, and Blank Dogs style spooky pop - all of it recorded loud enough to distort the sound. Of the three styles, the thug pound seems most natural for these guys. The pop punk is feh and the spooky pop is as good as any of Blank Puppy band, but who needs more of that, eh? –SS

Henry Flynt & the Insurrections I Don’t Wanna LP (Locust)
Henry Flynt Back Porch Hillbilly Blues Vol. 1 LP (Locust)
Henry Flynt Back Porch Hillbilly Blues Vol. 2 LP (Locust)
Henry Flynt Raga Electric LP (Locust)
I first heard Henry Flynt – the artist/philosophy/musician – about a year ago and upon initial listen I thought “Christ, that sounds like me playing guitar.” I’ve been fucking around on guitar since the late-80s and I can’t play worth a shit. The style I’ve developed for myself is some merge of country blues and wildly jabbing at notes, which is, on the surface, what Flynt sounds like when you drop needle on I Don’t Wanna. But listen further, and closely, and enough, and you find that Flynt’s flailing isn’t flailing, that there is a logic to what Flynt plays. Perhaps randomness plays a part in his music, but it isn’t without technique. Still Flynt’s playing is not conventional and, though recorded in 1966 with a backing band of drums, keyboards, and bass, I Don’t Wanna still sounds unconventional today. Being that it is Flynt’s “garage” record (stretch for a comparison to early Fugs, at times), I Don’t Wanna is his most accessible for those with a rock & roll background…Recorded, as well, in the mid-60s, the two volumes of Back Porch Hillbilly Blues are Flynt solo on guitar, fiddle and ukulele. Again, the roots are country blues and hillbilly music, but the playing is unconventional. Minimalist repetition and Indian drone play as much a part in the Back Porch songs as Americana. Volume 1’s highlights are Flynt sawing away at the fiddle on “Acoustic Hillbilly Live” and his pretty amazing side-long “Blue Sky, Highway, and Tyme”, a hypnotic blues that melts in the mind. Volume 2 is more far out than the first Back Porch, partially because Flynt plays nothing other than fiddle. On this volume it becomes more apparent that Flynt’s “sawing” is anything but that. Amidst the discordance and under the repetition are traditional fiddle songs. The longer you listen to the songs, the more spins of the album, the more complex Flynt’s work becomes…Finally we come to Raga Electric. Subtitled “experimental music, 1963 – 1971” it begs the question, “If Flynt’s other work isn’t experimental, how strange is this one going to be?” Drop the needle and not very strange. “Marines Hymn” is one note on guitar and chant/sung vocals, of the style psych artist Bobby Brown did a few years later. Very nice, very relaxing…until the “Central Park Transverse Vocal” starts up. Then you get elastic mouth work reminiscent of Alan Watts’ There It Is LP (also reissued by Locust) or something off the Poetry Now series of albums. Good but brief. Then Flynt takes out the guitar and goes raga, throwing more fucked up vocals atop the pick n’ drone. Side two is one long sax workout called “Free Alto.” As Flynt is not an accomplished saxophonist, the sounds are skronks and squeaks. Still, Flynt is able to “fake it” for about fifteen minutes, at times making some captivating noise…While all of this stuff was recorded in the early Sixties to early Seventies, it wasn’t released until a few years ago, and then – except for I Don’t Wanna – only on CD (I Don’t Wanna had a limited vinyl run on the Bo’Weavel label). Locust is to be commended for getting this stuff out on vinyl. Those enthusiastic about left-of-center experimental rock and ESP Disks or wish John Fahey got more extreme will be pleased. –SS

Foot Village Fuck the Future II CD (Gilgongo)
An odds and sods collection of Foot Village stuff from singles, splits, and comps. Aside from the remixes this pretty much sticks to the standard Foot Village formula of lots of drum pounding and shouted slogan -vocals. The only revelation here (if you haven't heard it already) is the 9 minute long bomb blast "Race til the End of Food", which originally (and recently) appeared on a split 12" with Black Pus. If you don't have that or have a Foot Village fetish but are missing their last year of non-album tracks, you might want this. If you are a casual fan and have enough to listen to, move on. –SS

Francis Harold The Holograms Who Said These Were Happy Times LP (Square Wave)
Are you a fan of...
1. Hatred?
2. Not having friends?
3. Being resentful?
4. Muttering to yourself in the basement all night while taking headache medicine that doesn't help at all?
5. Your existence being defined by the remorse you constantly feel for unspeakable acts you committed that you're too ashamed to even confront?
6. All of the above, plus more shit I can't get into right now because it’s just too heavy?
Well, then these mysterious lowlifes' bag is right up your dank, garbage filled alley. This is punk rock reduced to a oily puddle of antisocial sludge, no sped-up Chuck Berry riffs, no juvenile politics, no playful sense of rebellion, no post punk monotony with art school pretension - just harrowing scrape that makes the hair on the back of your neck goose-step and any passerby that hears you playing it wonder what the hell your problem is. These guys have more in common with the wail of despair a mother makes after discovering her half eaten newborn in a crib with a bloody doberman then the Ramones or the Vibrators. Its about as friendly as the ebola virus and less catchy then teflon. Shit, I haven't even got started on the cover, which is a fucking classic, in the hands of anyone else it would be a real hoot at their expense, but Francis Harold pull it off with panache. Soup to nuts, this thing is the bee's knee's if you're into elderly abuse, firebombing, or throwing wicker baskets full of kittens off of overpasses. Think Pissed Jeans with a lot more midrange, no self-deprecating humor (it might be there, but it's lost in the blast), and “whose the wiseguy that spilled sand in the grooves?” fidelity & you're in the neighborhood. This is music to listen to while you get drunk and hit a priest with your car, or to drown out the pleas for mercy coming from the people you have tied up in your basement. For the vast majority of citizenry who have way more important things to worry about then the latest apex of vicious scuzz steer clear... But for folks with inner-ear calluses that dig the comfort of extreme ugliness; drop a needle on this platter, pop an innertube under your arm and come take a dip an fragrant ambrosia sea with Francis Harold & The Holograms. –MB

Frozen Cloak
s/t LP (self-released)
Guitar drum duo does hard rock instrumentals which alternate between heavy and jammy. I'd guess the influences are Sabbath, Melvins, maybe early Monster Magnet, etc. The performance is mostly fine, but the recording is not. Lo-fi works fine for garage bands and loner weirdos, but when heavy bands try it, the result is practice tape, which is what this sounds like. So the guitar has flat fuzz instead of a hearty punch in the chest and the drums are tinny and slop into nowhere. A better recording and this thing would have rocked. Too bad some of the money spent on the swank packaging wasn't funneled into a studio job. Live and learn. –SS

Frustrations Glowing Red Pill LP (X!)
Ah man, I don’t wanna do this. I like the Frustrations. They’ve released a couple stellar singles, so they are capable of doing killer stuff. And there are a couple songs here at are as good as anything they’ve done. However the band is hampered by two things: Something is wrong with the recording and/or mix. While the guitar sounds hot, the bass tends toward anemic and the drums are really boxy. There are also times in which the drums nearly disappear in the mix. So none of the songs build to a pow. Second thing is that these guys are really in need of a distinctive singer. It isn't that the vocals are bad. It is that they are unremarkable. None of the other instruments – especially on this recording – take up the personality that the vocals lack, The result is a handful of good songs waiting to be done right. Perhaps if the recording was better, I’d overlook the vocals. Or if the vocals were distinctive, the recording flaws wouldn’t be so obvious. But two strikes and you have a good sketchbook but a flawed album. –SS

Ganglians s/t LP (Woodsist)
This Sacramento band shows two big influences, The Clean and Brian Wilson – but rather than sounding like every other indie band with the same influences, the Ganglians bring it into the garage as well as into the Now. They also remind me a bit of the Celibate Rifles, a band that has drifted into obscurity for some reason I can’t figure out. So is this stuff any good. ? Hell yeah it is. In fact, being that we’ve had a string of hot days in the month of May, I’d say Summer is here and so far this is the Record of the Summer. If I have one complaint it is that this fucker is too short. –SS

Ghost Hospital D+ 45 (Teen Ape)
Sounds more like something on K Records than anything on Florida's Dying, but then again it might just be the singer who reminds me a little of Doug Martsch. Hey, no need to run. This is more proof of something good boiling down in Florida. Two bouncy indie-pop sides which play it safe until the end of each song where they either lose interest or decide to jam in some big ideas without fucking up the song. Not earth-shaking but I don't think that was their intention. Not every band needs to find their inner Hairdryer Peace, sometimes a good pop single should be be just that. –SW

Guinea Worms Lost & Found 45 (Savage)
A damn good two sider from Ohio fixtures Guinea Worms. "Lost & Found" has a late Country Teasers feel to it and "Jeans & Heels" is similar to early Intelligence, but to stop there would not be fair to the Guineas. Head Worm Will Foster has been cranking out tunes of this ilk for years and is at the point where he's found a way to translate his ideas to killer finished songs. That was true with last year's excellent "Box of Records" and it is true here. Quality stuff, worth seeking out. –SS

GG King Last of the Night Wiggers Ruff Demo cs (self-released)
Solid punk rock which draws from various KBD bands, NYC 75, Rolling Stones, and (surprise surprise) the Scum Fucs, done by some Carbonas. The punkisms balance convention with cliché. Plenty of attitude, a good amount of slop, and a spirited version of the Boxtops’ “The Letter” (which begs, it took this long for a punk band to record this ‘un?). A good demo. –SS

Hentai Lacerator Sugarsplash CDR (Outfall Channel / Realicide Youth)
There's a lightheartedness here that is obvious as soon as you look closely at the art/packaging, but it's nice to find it carried over into the sound too, which manages to be both playful and hardcore without trying too hard either way. OK, pigeon time: Hentai Lacerator's sound is some kind of grindcore offshoot, as the name-font indicates (originally one of the more reliable guides for pre-judging a band's overall aesthetic, though nowadays, with everyone appropriating everything in hopes of blindsiding with unlikeliness/uncanniness, this is becoming less and less true), blended with elements of power violence in the bipolar slow/fast/heavy/blur riff templates (ala Crossed Out, etc.) and the dual silly/earnest vocals (ala Spazz, Bathtub Shitter, etc.); traces of gore in the layered puke-bucket gut vocals and the vibe of the splattered porn and tentacle-rape obsessed hentai art; and strains of more "arty" grind like Discordance Axis in the angular, undistorted guitar parts. But what ends up reducing any potentially interesting combinations to a familiar and finally bland stock is the mud-fi recording, in the dull din of which much is lost (if anything was there to begin with: I guess we'll never know...); this hardly sounds like it's supposed to be noisecore, but that's how it got recorded. Honestly, while the band isn't bad, I think the singer/illustrator (one Robert Inhuman) should go full- time into erotic lesbian-Picachu Pikachu sci-fi manga stories, because he's a talented artist with interesting and funny ideas that come across, even as sketches. And no one ever actually listened to grindcore anyway. –FSS

Higgs Boson Music for Dark Matter CDR (John Frum)
Not the drippy jazz keyboardist but a free group from New York. I’m not sure at what level of jazzbo-ness these guys are but this has a feel-your-way-through sound to it and the drummer tends to pound more than he riffs. When the group goes crash ‘n’ bash, they tend to lose personality, sounding like any number of punk-jazz CD-Rs I’ve heard over the last couple years. Higgs Boson is best when they are at their most subdued, the highlight here being a short Out to Lunch style vibes piece – difficult to pull off as a group, but fine for the solo vibes player on this disc. –SS

Josetxo Grieta Hitzak, Eginak, Animaliak, Pertsonak DVD (Discos Trudos/Munster)
The Basque band Josetxo Grieta are not very well known. They have released on poorly distributed album (excellent!) and a couple of CD-Rs. The notoriety they have is largely due to sound anti-artist Mattin’s membership in the band (guitar/laptop). This DVD is their final release and probably the one that will turn the most people on to them. A 45-minute performance in front of a handful of friends, Hitzak…is either two songs or one long piece of music. It is difficult to tell, which is nothing new with Josetxo Grieta. Their previous releases also challenge the notion of “song”. Abstract noises give way to shattered riffs which are submerged in ur punk jams until sound fractures or a near silence takes over, instrument hum filling the room. That is on record and that is live on this DVD. However what the vinyl and CD-Rs don’t capture is vocalist Josetxo Anitua’s intensity. Rather than just sing, Anitua groans, spits, growls, pants, screams, moans, wails, and stutters. He wanders the room, stands convulsing, and collapses in a pile. Fine: lots of bands have front men who do the same, but Anitua is different. In his performance – and I hesitate to use that word – there is no showmanship. As corny as it sounds, Anitua becomes part of the music, unaware of anything but the noise that surrounds him. He is possessed. And by the end of the “show”, he looks like he’s aged ten years. As noted this is not only the final Josetxo Grieta release but it is of their final concert. Shortly after this was recorded, Anitua died. This is not only a worthy tribute to his music/performance, but is a captivating watch/listen. –SS

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds Dracula Boots LP (In The Red)
Dracula Boots is bad-ass City strut soul, complete with noised-up psych intervals bringing it into The Now. How Now? Well, their cover of "I Found a Peanut" recalls The Intelligence more than Thee Midnighters, if you can believe it. It goes on from there, tackling the expected dark, semi-spooky backdrop themes and then moving to more trad' grrrage noise "schtuff", deviating juuuuuuuust enough to keep you interested throughout. Still, this is the Kid Congo Show, and repeated spins keep bringing me back to this simple truth: this LP is essentially Kid talking over groove. The whole LP is banking on him oozing Cool. It's a successful gamble most of the time, but the best case scenario here is a vibe. –MC

Locrian Drenched Lands CD (At War with False Noise / Small Doses)
I feel safe using the word "emo" to describe the particular mood-path taken here, since it stopped meaning any one thing at least a year ago. So: Locrian does a somewhat emo version of a sub-doom/drone mutation, in a recognizably Earth/Sunn 0))) kind of orbit -but their approach to the metal side of this legacy is a bit more Bathory and a bit less Sabbath/Melvins. Which is to say it is "black ambient" played with heavyish guitars and keys, and occasional witch-shriek vocals, but when the inevitably minor chords do rip they're more melancholy and broody and cold, less stoned and crushing and warm. Outside of the picked-over corpse of metal, though, I hear good stuff like Asmorod and CMI eeriness on the 'spherics side of things, and even more good stuff like Ash Ra Temple and Skullflower on the mystic kult of thee guitar side. And while it's usually worth getting suspicious when I drop this many names in the process of trying to lay out some sense of what's new here, I'm not saying Locrian does nothing new. I like how they combine and toggle around with several of these inputs, and I'm especially sold on the tracks where they hold off the moody chords and screams and stick to drawn out, pulsing horrordream soundtracks, with time-stretch guitar weaving and droning and even chug-chugging in and out like a cross-dimensional reacharound from one genre to another. –FSS

Long Legged Woman Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere LP (Pollen Season)
I like this album, but there's no getting around that the opening song sounds like Soundgarden. It's terrible. The rest of the album reminds me of the first Dinosaur Jr album both in terms of sound and inconsistency. The inconsistent thing about this album is the sequencing - the A-side is mess, the B-side is dramatic. After a few listens I don't have the stomach to hear a band capable of such powerful psych pop get thrown around in the dryer, so I've just learned to stick to side two. Beyond Dinosaur Jr, I also hear some Bailter Space, some Bardo Pond, and maybe even the contemporaneous influence of their soon-to-be label-mates the Hospitals and Eat Skull (hell, Pollen Season is their label). This LP's worth hunting down if the aforementioned bands don't bug you, but start with the B-side and give it some time to build. –SW

Mattin, Taku Unami Attention CD (h.m.o/r)

Turn up the volume …

...............and decide for yourself .....................whether or not

this....... is ..........worthy .........of your attention.

I …

.......laughed, ...........................awkwardly.

Los Microbios take care...beware! CDR (self-released)
Vermont band with a New England rock & roll sound, the kind of VU cum Modern Lovers shang-a-lang that could have appeared on Arf! Arf! back in the early ‘80s if their bands at the time stumbled a bit more and laid on the fuzz, fuzz which I have to say is problematic at times, especially when the guitar KO’s the drums. Whew. The band sounds best when they are at their most naturalistic, just playing songs. When they try to put on an act, play out characters like low down rock & roll hip hick, it sounds cliché, like a gimmick the band doesn’t need. Nothing revolutionary here, but certainly something to build on. –SS

Middle America Every Night EP (Fashionable Idiots)
An ugly little record, in only the best way. Some art forms that evoke Bon Scott choking on his vomit on an elementary school playground at 3 PM as the kiddies bop out of class bound for home have the unfortunate habit of bumming out the viewing public, as this sort of spectacle rates as just a bit “too much” in today’s overexposed, instantly cynical domus-writ-large. Middle America are thus operating in a very treacherous sonic terrain, filled with frauds, shitheels and wannabe carnival geeks. Luckily, this EP instead evokes Blight, the Nuclear Crayons and Drunks with Guns; early-to-mid 80s Negative Vibe Central. Walking this tightrope is as fraught as trying to do early 80s songwriter-pop; One false move and you’re the Cherubs or Fresh American Lamb, boys. Keep it in-house, don’t talk to the other bands at shows, stay in the van and glare invisibly out the spray-painted windows. You can’t keep this up forever without dying, so try to maximize the experience while you can. We’ll appreciate it in 20 or so years, promise. –RW

Moondog More Moondog LP (Honest Jon's)
Moondog The Story of Moondog LP (Honest Jon's)
Two more Moondog records from Honest Jon's out of London - their fourth and fifth, and both worth a look and a listen. But don't give the label too much credit: More Moondog and The Story of Moondog are exact re-releases of Moondog's third and fourth records -both originally put out by Prestige in 1956/1957, in between stuff by other unknowns like Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, etc. - and other than some handsome repackagery/remastery, they are what they were. Which is not to say that if you haven't heard Moondog you're not missing something: you're totally missing out on the Trimba, a device invented by Moondog that sounds like a heavy-swinging Navajo beat machine (AKA Sun Dance in a Box); and you're missing out on 1950s Manhattan city sounds (Moondog was a street musician for many years) and polyrhythmic jazzical counterpoint and horn rounds and the Oo, another invention. My favorite Moondog songs are always simple, shuffling, fully-in-tune-with-his-moon percussion jams, mostly tapped out in snaketime on his beautiful homemade drums by what sound like eight or nine limbs, and built up with an easy - yet - profound sixth sense (or really fifth sense, since he was blind) for sound and space and variation … it's like someone constructing a purely sonic beaver lodge out of syncopated drummings - right in front of you. The only problem with his fifties records is that Moondog was working before "Minimalism" as a genre and "Albums" as we now understand and expect them, so they're either short on content (the two 10" reissues still available from Honest Jon's) or short on context (these and the other early long-playing reissues/compilations also still available from HJ and others): the individual compositions and ideas are great and forward-minded in the best way, but they're missing the overall frame and pacing and follow-through of a full-on masterpiece and are more like grab -bags for mixtapes or hash parties or something. Still, a respectable number of these tracks are some of the sweetest-ever compositions that can be called "avant-garde" by any standard, and they hold up even better than a lot of good jazz from this era - and I mean the good stuff. Really: you have to hear Moondog if you haven't, and this is a fine place to pick up the trail. –FSS

Jeffrey Novak After The Ball LP (LMN Records)
Jeffrey Novak Home Sweet Home/Three Sisters 7” (Shattered)
Now here’s a nice little evolution that I didn’t see coming. Former garage snot-nosed one-man-bander J. Novak has cornered himself in a cabin outside Woodstock (sure, why not?) with a case of Old Grandad, a piano and a fresh new batch of sonic tonics to source, to wit; early-to-mid-70s rockin’ songwritery junque in the post-Ray Davies mode. “Post”, hell, some of the roly poly tracks on here could be Everybody’s’s in Showbiz outtakes I haven’t never heard. Novak’s got a nice slightly chirpy-atonal vocal style that sucks the schmaltz factor out of the danger inherent in going heavy via the piano rag route, but he also doesn’t really display varied vocal chops, neither. He’s trying to write effective songs that don’t rely on some of the stock schtick that dominates too many indie-punk releases these days: pointless feedback, repeating the same lyrical line over and over and over (for effect, riiiiight?), failing to find a central riff for the song to revolve around or play off of, etc. This he manages to achieve, to best effect on the Shattered-label single (which is frankly great) and on about half the tracks on the LP. The stuff that doesn’t work so good are the songs that have an almost unfinished, unfleshed feel to them, like “The Lost Parade” or “Tired Eyes”. Feels like he’s trying on a new persona but can’t quite fill it out yet. He’s aiming high on this LP, which is a lot more than I can say for many of his contemporaries. But isn’t a .500 batting average about all you can expect from a solid rock LP anyway? Solid rock LP here. –RW

Okie Dokie Bad Hammer 45 (Goodbye Boozy)
Let's hear it for the nu-skool!!! Anyone? Anyyyyone? Maybe not. T'would appear that Mr. Okie is actually Mr. Charlie Moonheart, wearing a chipped-to-shit tiki helmet (naturally affixed with 90s electrodes and PBR labels) and some other bros with a couple hours to kill in the practice room. Aided by divine inspiration and as much noise as possible, it's much more aggressive and uneasy than anything else I've heard outta these folks. Power Garage? Actually, strangely, yes. Too bad it's only a couple hairs better than ho-hum. –MC

OvO Croce Via LP (Load)
I haven't heard this Italian duo's four previous albums, but Croce Via (their second Load release) is being touted as their heaviest yet. Well, it's not all heavy all the way, but considering the fact that the band consists of a two-piece drum kit (floor tom + snare), guitar and vocals (with subtle overdubs), they certainly know how to throw some weight around. (Besides: doesn't "heavy" indie rock only exist in relation to "light" indie rock, the way sad only exists in relation to happy, night to day, etc.?) I love the drums, which are minimal, yes, but so, so metal in their perfect double-chuck bass (tom) flams and rolls that they should make all six-pedal cage-drummers rethink their kits and simplify their lives. Vocalist Stefania Pendretti has my undiluted support when she does the Sepultura growl mixed with quirky throat-gasps, and mostly the Yoko-type acrobatics and wailings please me too - but I'm less enthusiastic about the other Yoko-inherited voice she brings out on a few songs (the annoying monotone "Japanese girl" yip also used by Deerhoof and Melt-Banana and plenty of non-Japanese singers). The title translates to "Crossroad" (or "Daggerpath" or "Roodway," according to my translator, iGoogle), and while they do successfully criss-cross that swollen hump between the lowlands of emotion-driven heavy metal and high-minded art rock, it's difficult to place OvO firmly on one side or the other. But that's probably the point: they like it just fine on the fence, grazie! –FSS

Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi Estcho 2CD (Stunned)
At its best Kabyzdoh Obtruhamchi sounds like what the Butthole Surfers if they wallowed in their dark, fucked up side rather than push their aggressively goofy angle. Unfortunately, this Russian one-person thing hits such heights far too few times to justify two CDs. Estcho contains a lot of self-indulgent, amateurish noodling and long, drawn out, navel-gazing tedium. The lead song, "Jahendra Shitzaga", is fine stuff but only over the last three minutes. Same goes with the lead song on the second CD, another "short" song, "Bendefele Kuhe." The two long songs on CD1 could have been left off, as they are so boring that they made me dread listing to the second CD. Duty prevailed and good thing: "Viva Piskadero!" and "Enptuhi Campusabba" are the winners. At ten minutes "Viva..." is just right; it is violent and hypnotic, the repetition has enough accents to keep me from wandering. "Enptuhi" is a bit too long at sixteen minutes - not enough ideas to sustain it - but it still held my interest, albeit serving as background music to a silent but flickering TV screen for part of its play. As noted, the band is actually one guy, Sergey Kozlov, and like a lot of one-person projects KO lacks a second person who could say "Hey Serge, you are boring the fuck out of me, quit noodling and move to another song". Condensed to one CD, some songs edited, and this would be a might fine thing. As it is, Estcho still needs work. –SS

Pillow Talk Down Town Unga Wunga EP (Columbus Discount)
Hyper-annoying, synthed-out retardo punk, which for about ten seconds has a Black Randy charm but then quickly becomes a cheap joke that only friends, relatives, and the entertainment-starved would enjoy. Sometimes annoyances like this charm over repeated listenings, kinda like some "so grating, it’s good"; but that isn't the case here. Multiple spins just lead to multiple disappointments. Next. –SS

Pygmy Shrews Big Time cs (Work to Death)
The Shrews remind me of a dozen of different band that blurred drunk past me in the 90s, but no names come into my head. What does rattle out of the hippocampus is metal by way of Black Flag + sludge, which is more or less the same thing, isn’t it. Throw in some Splotch-like NY art poses and you got a nice concoction of punk noise. –SS

Neptune's Folly s/t LP (Milk & Chocolates)
I'm guessing that as teens, these guys immersed themselves in Wipers and Naked Raygun records - as NF’s "hardcore that's melodic but doesn't suck" sound seems to be instinct rather than instant. The noise is sure-footed enough that the band can break convention a bit to get a spindly spiral going, something that further removes them from Just Another Band. Really, with this style of punk you either pull it off and create a record that is infinitely listenable or you suck. There is no middle ground. Neptune's Folly has made a record that keeps returning to the turn table. –SS

The Rantouls Little Green Hat 45 (Chocolate Covered)
The resurgence of interest in bubblegum pop is probably the trigger for most readers here to punch a fucking hole in their wall. As if the annoyances of the post-Exploding Hearts power-pop chumps weren't punishment enough. Whatever...calm down. I submit that The Rantouls deserve your fandom rather than your scorn, and an open ear will probably be all the convincing you'd need. A consistent live favorite act for me, I was slightly underwhelmed by their debut single, specifically because it didn't feature the tunes here, my faves outta them by a huge margin. To say that this band "feels" bubblegum would be an understatement: it's true Gum rather than a genre exercise. Innocent, playful trademarks and hit-factory qualities abound, yet there's a beer-friendly undercurrent to it all, making The Rantouls one of the last (potentially latest, assuming the milking can continue) great Bay Area Budget Rock bands, sitting atop the throne with The Flakes. And Gavin's voice is golden, you assholes. See you around best-of-year-list time, you "Little" delight. Buy one for your grand-mammy too! –MC

Royal Pendletons Louisiana Party Music 7" (Allons Records, Inc.)
Wasn't able to pluck a Normals single outta my recent trip to NOLA, but this made a worthy souvenir. It's always been kinda puzzling to me that The Royal Pendletons aren't held in higher regard: the sounds, outfits and party appetites were at roughly the same levels as any Budget Rock project. Fuck, maybe even better outfits?!?!? Location, location, location I guess. Anyhoo, Allons has made a success outta Summpi Werthiemer's (imaginary) failure by actually releasing this 45: the first and hands-down best Pendleton recordings ever, captured in some plaid rumpus room in the oh-so-early 1990s. Songs tackled? "Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)" and "What a Way to Die". Old hat, you say? Predictable? Yes...yet they still fucking smoke. It's rough recommending such a trad' single at this stage, assuming everyone with even passing interest in this has already cleaned their plate and moved on to the next course (synth-punk, apparently). BUT...Yes, Fratty garage fueled by alcohol/amphetamine, played by men with a seemingly unquenchable thirst for gash. A recipe older than any of us. Some might call it soul. Thee Olde Law states that any release touting the excavation of early demo records by a known act at their "savage, young" phase is likely to be nothing more than vinyl dogshit. Certainly not the case here, as this is my new favorite Royal Pendletons record. Put this up against yr Nice Face and see what moves you more. My money is on this. –MC

Silla Electrica Cloaca EP (Solo Para Punks)
Now, this is the current state of punk that I like to imagine in my hazy, time-immunified mind’s eye: fast without blending into puree, passionate without preachiness, quick four-note guitar solos that only underline the adrenaline rush, a sense of melody without devolving into sing-songy chanting, etc. The great part is that this band actually exists and can deliver this package at the drop of a needle. Spanish punk that channels everything about 1981 without draping themselves in cobwebs in the process. Bravura! –RW

The Slowmotions Mystery Action 45 (HG Fact)
Nothing (NOTHING!) gets me going more than a high quality Japanese punker (HC and D-Beat excluded), an all-too-rare commodity now compared to the 90s boom spear-headed by Hiroshi and Fink. One of the recent (and by recent, I mean six years back) greats in this mode was the "Make Love" b/w "Yes, Future" single by The Slowmotions (their fourth). Charting behind Zymotics and The Sneeze, that single is my #3 pick for primo Japanese Punk in the last decade: a frantic, chop'n'stop classic that I'd recommend to ANYONE. None of their other releases touch that single...with the notable exception of this new one! Assuming I've charted the course of International punk correctly, "Mystery Action" is the closest Japanese relation to the sounds of the current Danish retro crop (cue MRR reader interest), which actually works better here than I had envisioned. A strong 80s punk vibe (courtesy of Wipers worship) with trademark anthemic hints, falling just shy of fist-pump due the sheer number of sunglasses and safety-pinned ties worn by the band. Every scene's gotta stick to certain core principles, after all. The flip, "Dance" is the Japanese punk you know and love, delivered at almost hardcore speed (they seem to be friendly in that camp as well, note the label's other releases). It's as if time stopped after that Coastersride 45 and the dominant punko formula of Japan wasn't polluted by Pointed Sticks re-discovery. All balls. One of those "You'll never find it" records too, which sucks. Excellent!!! I can coast for another 4 years after this one. –MC

Snakeflower 2 Renegade Daydream LP (Tic Tac Totally)
Stones-groove from deep in their boring period (when the world -at -large began realizing that maybe Mick Taylor wasn't such a hot idea) that have me looking at my watch & tapping my foot with impatience. SF2 have a way of making the second hand rotating around the clock three and half times seem like a few orbits north of seven. I bet at least one person in this band wears a scarf when the weather doesn't call for it, and they oughta give nice (but not too nice) plaques to people that can tell the dif. between the tracks. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the vocals are way better then average - there's some real feeling & nuance - but they're topping on a musical cake that needs to be taken to the foodbank already. Come to mention: anyone claiming psyche on this LP needs to have their earholes worked over by a disgruntled union janitor with a used toilet plunger. Some of this stuff makes me picture 60's duds and maracas, an image which makes me picture murder. Worst track? “Face In The Crowd” - tries for a fearsome throb but wouldn't be out of place coming a late night TV backing band's musical fade into the the commercials for new vacuums. Best? “Younger Daze,” besides having a title that should be taken out into the street and killed with a hammer, has some nice soaring Greg Cartwright-ness to it. At least they wait until the last song to downshift into a lousy ballad - that's something (I guess). –MB

SS Boat s/t cs (self- released)
Charming DIY punk reminiscent of the stuff squeezed on comps by the early 80s San Pedro crowd, but lacking the variation of the aforementioned and anything close to sound fidelity. A good sketchbook for (hopefully) something above demo quality. –SS

Static Static Psychic Eyes LP (Tic Tac Totally)
Not enough records by these guys to say that they are one of the top punk bands going but, shit, man, my teeth are chattering fast. Like Red Mass or the Wax Museums (at least for the first two singles), Static Static cherry picks the warped loner side of vintage p-rock (Black Randy, Screamers, Simply Saucer...), changes things up just enough and injects the mess with new energy. Right now, Static Static’s music is more individual power blasts than songs. We'll see how far they both draw from their influences while coming into something that is totally their own. When faced with having to murder their mentors, most bands either implode or take the easy path of 1-2-3-4 garage band (see Spits or Wax Museums). Hopefully, Static Static aspire to count to five. I'm eagerly waiting to hear what comes next. –SS

Strange Boys And Girls Club LP (In The Red)
It took me several listens to warm up to And Girls Club (the vocals take some getting used to...how's that for polite?), but they wore me down. Good songs have a way of doing that. "Heard You Wanna Beat Me Up" and "Probation Blues" are way up there with the other heavyweights, garage-wise, but I find myself going back to the countryish tumblers like "Death and All The Rest" for the true meat of this band. One of the great by-products of the doors-thrown-wide-open head space right now is the re-emergence of the dirty, drugged youth big-banging their own universe through their bands. You can add Strange Boys to that list, go ahead. I could speak on and on and on about supposed influences, but I much prefer to think that this is just naturally what comes outta folks today who want to Rock. Fuck...please let that be true! –MC

Sunny & the Sunsets Love & Death 45 (Soft Abuse)
Time machine says 1972, when it was just starting to sink in that The Revolution was not to be and long-haired popsters started turning out cynical sounds soaked in either opiates or nostalgia or both. At least, that is what I hear in this addictive 45. "Death Cream" has a lazy knockabout Stones feel to it, which also owes a bit to Big Star. The flip, "Strange Love", reminds me of one of those songs John Lennon would close an album with. Now the problem with me (or anyone) dropping names this big is that you might think that the songs are as good as those by the names dropped or that I am trying to create some kinda hype around an otherwise average band. Banish both thoughts from you mind. Sunny & the Sunsets are not the Stones, Big Star, or John Lennon; however, they are a very good band and this is an excellent single. I'd like to hear an album. –SS

Tee Pee Aware EP (Weird Hug)
Tee Pee Heal EP (Florida’s Dying)
This band has real sonic ambitions, which will always score points in the paint from me. A band throwing some stylistic elbows is at least halfway to getting me out of my chair and becoming “an active listener”. You know, paying attention to your fucking record. Tee Pee have two EPs to work with here but I have to say, they rather fail to finish their drives on both. The one on the Weird Hug label is the static-driven, mumbling genius effort but nothing particularly pants-wetting occurs on either side. It doesn’t bore me so much as make me restless. The EP on Florida’s Dying is a more engaging affair, as more aggression is evident from the get go, but the vocals (which I think would work great in a punk context) are just too who-gives-a-fuck to keep the interest level at peak levels. I know dissolution is the point, but I picture myself standing on a concrete floor watching this band go through it’s paces and I am not feeling optimistic. I will backtrack for one song: “I’ll Cut You Some Slack” makes me think of the Slugfuckers: nice touch there. They have a couple of cassettes I need to get through, perhaps there is more to this story. Despite my shrugs, I have a positive feeling about this endeavor, the same way the non-classic cuts on a Swell Maps record are still better than a shitty band’s best efforts. Ya know? –RW

Tankj Puissance 36 kw LP (Bloc Thyristors)
Odd juxtaposition of instruments on this one by French free jazz quartet Tankj. Here we have trombone, percussion, bass, and electronics – all of them making a hell of a lot of noise. Some of this is bombast and skronk (that is as much skronk as you can get out of a trombone), some of it is a bit more subdued in volume but not in tension (the sound of a trombone squawking over a drone of electric pulse is pretty damn cool). This isn’t amateur hour. Some of these guys have been doing experimental music and free jazz since the 70s and 80s and are part of the crowd that Thierry Muller runs in. Best free jazz record I’ve heard since Gary Hassay’s Live at WDIY. –SS

Tyvek s/t LP (Siltbreeze)
The bar for this one was set somewhere deep in the cosmos: Tyvek's LP washed in on a tide of borderline-brilliant singles that mixed Modern Lovers uptempo simplicity & flypaper catchiness with a healthy splat of the playful off-kilter experimentation that made UK DIY famous, all coalesced into a happy cloud of skittering adenoid anthems that made you feel like you were in a convertible on its way to the beach no matter where you were actually listening to it. Our jittery chums painted themselves into a corner with all their previous greatness, leaving fickle lady Anticipation just itchin' to clamp her pearly whites on their keisters if their debut didn't make the rest of your record collection grow legs and run away in shame. Let's get it out of the way: 1) This album doesn't cause a thud as your lower jaw involuntarily disengages and thumps onto the floor as you sit paralyzed with awe & wonderment. 2) After gingerly thumbing the tonearm towards the grooves, this album doesn't cause a tremendous aural explosion that just leaves a shadow in the shape of the listener on the wall and the feint smell of burnt hair. 3) Nothing on this album (although “Summer Things” comes awfully close) can touch the outta-this-world moon shots of “Honda” or “Sidewalk”. 4) However, this album is great, and the last thing you will do upon hearing it is make you want to grab a torch and pitchfork and start heading towards Detroit. 5) Some of the material on this album ain't exactly new, but the tunes that got recycled are top-notch, and any crybabies that want some sympathy because an excellent song was already released in an absurdly small edition single, they're barking up the wrong record reviewer. 6) The LP has some meandering little detours that sound half-baked by their lonesome but when they romp through the tall grass as part of a cohesive vinyl whole, they fit like Legos. 7) Its not all beluga: “What To Do” bites where it shouldn't, the intended spontaneous ray of joy vibe doesn't pan out for skunkcrap and slogs slowly to the finish line instead of bursting through the polyester rope with arms raised in triumph. 8) Don't let a real clunker from clumsy town deter you, dear reader - this LP is top shelf full tilt happy racket with catchy to spare. You gotta enjoy this stuff on the rare occasion when it comes around. Why even bother otherwise? –MB

Kurt Vile & Violators The Hunchback 12" (Richie)
The majority of Vile's Constant Hitmaker LP could've been mistaken David Kilgour's last couple of solo albums, but with the Violators at his side, Kurt Vile is hitting close to those classic Clean instrumentals. Even when Vile is singing (2 of the 6 songs are with vocals) the music has that same type of throbbing tribal beat that makes songs like "Fish" and "At the Bottom" so trance-inducing. A lot of people are going to overlook this in search of the gimmicky LP of filler that Mexican Summer put out simultaneously, or the Woodsist reissue of Contsant Hitmaker, but this is by far and away the best thing the guy has made. I have hardly been able to keep away from this for more than a few hours since first the first listen... no wonder I've been zoning out at work so much thinking about the last time I listened to Screamadelica or Ride's Nowhere. It's that good. –SW

Warm Climate Edible Homes cs (Stunned)
From getting this in a batch of unsolicited cassettes to wondering if the first track was a parody of Tyrannosaurus Rex, once this pup kicked in, and upon repeated listens, I remained a bit shocked. Though Warm Climate (one Seth Kasselman) has released about a dozen CDRs and cassettes since 2000, I haven’t heard of it ‘til now. And now this great blend of psych-glam, DIY experimentalism, and Tangerine Dream/Sorcerer style prog comes into my hands and I don’t know what to say other than, “Where is the vinyl?” –SS

Wetdog Enterprise Reversal LP (Angular Recording Corp.)
I was frankly shocked that this LP let me down, seeing as how the English have always been top shelf about reinterpreting/channeling stuff in the Slits mode, which is the vein this outfit is working in. You know, Slampt Records territory, their own national backyard indie theme music; it’s the same deal with rock-a-rolla-muthafuckah!!! stuff, in that only the American bands (with an occasional OZ contender) can bang that shit out with any sincerity. Well, Wetdog have retained the right record collections to dig through before practice, but they forgot to write any really compelling songs. On one track after another, they get the atmosphere and the guitar sounds right and then…nothing. Then the next song. What the fuck!? Plus, the cover’s ugly. –RW

Wicked Witch Chaos: 1978-86 CD (EM)
Cool record here. Two sounds - the first being Richard Simms' solo (almost) instrumental DIY Prince-worship from the 80's, and the second is a muscular twelve-minute full-band Funkadelic meltdown - both hit so fuckin hard that it rattles my license plates. Most of you are going to want to hear this for the solo stuff. Simms is much more maniacal in the bedroom, loading his simple bass riffs with gritty synths, guitar shredding and psychotic head voices. This is deranged Mark Tucker style, but its much more interesting hearing this type of chaos coming from a skilled musician. The six-piece Wicked Witch is tight but more conventional-sounding, and would most likely appeal to those who've already found their way through some great George Clinton albums. It couples well with the more out-there sounds of the first 4/5ths of this, so if you're new to good funk music you get a good idea where this guy was coming from. Wild sounds like these shouldn't be a surprise coming from an Honest Jon's affiliate. –SW

Various New Kids On The Block EP (Randy)
Four-way split of tinky teeny midwest pop-a-billy from the Yolks' label. I started warming up to this Gulcher-style roots revival when that first Romance Novels 7" dropped a few years ago, but until hearing this compilation not much more has made such a strong impression. I heard the two Bad Sports singles when they came out but I honestly can not remember one thing about them. They do well here, giving the comp an energetic start, that is in and out so quickly that the thuggy title-chanting doesn't wear itself out. Day Creeper is one of the best new Columbus bands to emerge in the last couple of years. Their "Outerbelt" has the right mix of Richman, Springsteen and Rep, a combo that has had me follow them around town since last summer. Eric & The Happy Thoughts' effortlessly brilliant "Bad Days" has been bubbling in my head for weeks. I don't know much about Eric or The Happy Thoughts aside from a fantastic live show of theirs I caught last fall, but I'm looking forward to hearing some more from the ex-Romance Novels. Closing this comp is Pleadin' Bradford Trojan's acapella "Amanda", which sounds like a demo from the first Weezer album, but I won't hold it against him. It's little league but sells the romantic innocence at the heart of of this collection. Even the title of the compilation had me cringe a bit, but this is about as unpretentious as you get and I can raise a glass to that sort of conviction. –SW

Various Ten Grand Tonearm LP (Heard Worse)
Pasted-on LP cover art lends the frugal touch to this solid Aussie experimental comp of artists coming together in the spirit of generally whacked and/or wrecked shit. I’m thinking the ordering of tracks must have been done by someone with at most half an ass, because it never once seems chosen, just picked—but then it is a noise comp, so fair enough. Only one of the 14 participants even tries for True Greatness, though, and that is xNoBBQx, who do well what they always do well—despite the fact that their entire sound is built on not going or getting anywhere, and there seems to be a good chance that they’re joking about the whole thing. They make every guitar-and-drums sound except the one you’re waiting for, and then they keep on going: toggle-switching, cable-tripping, field-buzzing, pickup-twurking—plus drums that aren’t exactly “grooving” … they do it all (and their 2007 Siltbreeze LP is well worth the pain). Then before you can say “Hrmnm” the comp’s moved on to more of the grey squall and echo and crushed audio that makes me feel skull-dull like after a long morning smoking black-baked resin off a Sprite can (plastic lining and all). There are some other high-ish points: Castings brings some rhythm and energy and is, if nothing else, briefly overwhelming; Misty Lavender Doughnuts of Shame digs up some good/funny samples but can’t quite do them justice; and Arse Lunch’s nice, simple layered hypno-feedback number could safely be twice as long. Inevitable low points include pointless samples and loops, pointless droning, pointless squealing, pointless contact info and track titles, etc., etc. Like I said, it is a noise comp. (Also-reps: Loachfillet, Marco Fusinato, William de Cunting, Rahdunes, Werewolf Jerusalem, Pigs in the Ground, Mark Harwood, Sun of the Seventh Sister, rlw, Cygnus, The Vitamin B12.) –FSS

Various The World’s Lousy with Ideas Volume 7 (Almost Ready/Aarght!)
Another winner of a comp from the best franchise going. This ‘un is all Aussie and has Super Wild Horses doing primitive girl punk, UV Race sounding as “together” as I’ve ever heard them, Straight Arrows with dreamy 60s fuzz psych, and Eddy Current Suppression Ring being as excellent as they always are (how’s that for objective!). Ten years from now when mooks are trying to figure out what was good about ’00 underground rock & roll they need only turn to World’s Lousy… —SS