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....