Listed: Peter Jefferies + The Mendoza Line
Jefferies has been one of New Zealand's most daring rock stars for the past twenty years. Jefferies first began to attract attention in the mid-eighties when he fronted This Kind of Punishment with his brother Graeme. This Kind of Punishment ventured past the punk fashion of the day in search of more experimental sound, earning the group many comparisons to The Velvet Underground. After TKP fell apart, Jefferies struck out on his own and acted as producer for many records on the Xpressway label. Jefferies began to make waves in America in the early 90’s when his records found release on Chicago’s Ajax label. Check out his The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World, you won’t regret it. Jefferies has also released a few albums on Austin’s Emperor Jones label, including last year’s Closed Circuit.
10 things I’ve been listening to…in the last 12 months…
1. Chris Smith – Map Ends (Emperor Jones) – Textural guitar soundscapes that go far beyond the usual places that people with guitars get to go. Huge vistas of sound and expression, balanced with newer sparser pieces, the whole album displays a keen sense of tone and harmony that’s not easy to find words at this out of the morning. Monumental.
2. Bruce Russell – The Movement of the Free Spirit (Smalltown Supersound) – Live recording of Bruce’s solo show in Melbourne that makes it clear that he’s still New Zealand’s most innovative and original free-thinking noisemaker. Still talked about by certain souls that were there, this performance opened a lot of eyes and ears across the Tasman.
3. V/A – Move to Riot (Raw Power) – A New Zealand Punk Compilation. Oh, the nostalgia! NZ punk from 78-86. Fills in a lot of the gaps and revives more than a few memories. Killer version of “Hate Me, Hate Me” by The Spelling Mistakes gets my vote for top dog, but there’s 22 others to choose from, including The Scavengers, Shoes This High, Androidss and The Enemy. Info and pics come with the CD booklet to help capture the feeling of the time.
4. The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas (Emperor Jones) – Brilliant melding of content and form. John Darnielle continues to chart his own unique course. Mostly voice and guitar, performed in a simple and direct way and recorded like that too. Great lyrics. As real as it gets. “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton,” “Riches and Wonders,” and “The Mess” are personal favourites, but the whole CD is pretty damn fine. Exciting in the way that Patrick Fitzgerald used to be.
5. The Hi God People – Play To The Temple of Depth (Spill) – More a collection of music and sound collages than anything else. At times the jagged edges have been left showing, which can be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint, but tracks like “Cuneiform” can’t be denied. The whole thing is never less than interesting.
6. Minisnap – 3 song demo – The Bats without Bob? Well, no, not really. Kaye Woodward’s lyrics and vocals offer a new perspective. OK, yeah, the overall sound is kinda familiar on the opener “In My Pocket,” but it’s the other two tracks “Nova” and “Shade” that show you what they’re really capable of, with the sound redefined enough to give a fresh setting to the voice.
7. Dimmer – I Believe You Are A Star (Columbia) – I played this relentlessly throughout 2001, and it still gets a few spins even now. “Seed,” “Evolution,” “Under the Light,” “Pendulum,” the title track and all three of the instrumental pieces are landmark songs and show Shayne P. Carter at the top of his personal game. I don’t think anyone in New Zealand has bettered this in 2002 either, so it’s on the list, OK?
8. Tinsel – The Lead Shoes (Broken Face) – This arrived in the post one day, unbidden, and it’s turned out to be one of those special things you play by yourself in the quiet moments. Very personal, kinda confessional, and even awkward at times, but I feel like I know the place from which it comes. Made with care.
Classic Re-Issue of the Decade…
9. Spacemen 3 – Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To (Space Age Recordings) – One of the greatest recordings of all time, finally issued on CD, complete with extra tracks. I know the vinyl has been around for ages, but this came out in 2000, and yes, I do want all of it, even the repeats (well, three versions of “2.35” might be a bit much). But hey, who can say no to “Things’ll Never Be The Same” or “Transparent Radiation” (neither of which appeared on the original vinyl). I’m assuming the idea was just to issue the sessions as they were, which is just fine with me.
Forthcoming in 2003…
10. Anita Anker – Another Full Moon – Her second album that advances well beyond 2000’s “3 Ring Circus”…well, at least it will be when it’s finished. Anita, myself, and engineer Michael Hill listen to some part or another most weekend. Couldn’t resist mentioning it. 16 songs, we’re about a quarter of the way through recording them at the moment.
The Mendoza Line
The Mendoza Line, a rock band from Brooklyn, survived the late-90’s extinction of indie-rock and continue to make engrossing, emotional records, often with a distinctly pessimistic bend. Albums like I Like You When You’re Not Around and We’re All In This Alone tell it how it is without resorting to broken-heart clichés. Perfect rock songs for cynics of all ages. The Mendoza Line’s latest album, Lost In Revelry was featured in Dusted earlier this year, and predictably, received a glowing review. Here, leading men Peter Hoffman and Tim Bracy offer up five picks a piece:
Pete's Top Five:
1. Don Mossi – A good to great relief pitcher for the Tigers, Indians, White Sox and A’s from 1954-1965. He was recently listed as perhaps the most unattractive player in Major League Baseball history in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. If you need proof, go to ebay and do a search, you’ll be shocked; he looks like Tony Shaloub in Men In Black.
2. Spoon – Kill The Moonlight (Merge) – I hate to admit it, but I totally missed the boat on these guys. All my friends have been obsessed with them for a while and I just never felt like listening to them. I don’t know why, maybe I’m just a contrary son of a bitch. Anyway, I picked up this record three weeks ago and can’t stop listening to it.
3. The American Book Congress Electronic Journal (americanbookcongress.com) – Sprung from the smoldering embers of the once mighty Greenpoint, Brooklyn book club that met weekly at the popular watering hole – Enid’s; this is a warehouse for the inner thoughts of Paul Deppler, our bass player, and the members of the aforementioned book club. I’m not sure what the hell they are talking about and I’m certain they have no idea what they are talking about. Nonetheless it’s interesting.
4. Bob Dylan – Street Legal (Columbia) – This lesser Dylan record was recently remixed and re-mastered and sounds like it was recorded last week. “Changing of the Guards,” “Baby Stop Crying,” “Is Your Love In Vain” and “New Pony” are near classics.
5. Bob Dylan – Hard Rain (Columbia) – A live recording of the Rolling Thunder Revue in Denver in 1976 with Mick Ronson on lead guitar. It’s so bad that it’s good. “Lay, Lady, Lay” is so torturous, it must be listened to over and over again. A constant tour van and pre-show favorite for our band, we actually forced the kind folks at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to play this before our recent show with Lampchop. You could literally see the faces melting as Dylan’s shrieking came to a painful crescendo on the sped-up, off-key, off-kilter “Maggie’s Farm.”
Tim's Top Five:
1. The Larry Sanders Show on Bravo – Still funny even without the swearing!
2. Max Kellerman – The 30ish co-host of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights,” this insightful contemporary is pretty much doing what Pete and I might be doing if it weren't for this cursed rock band. Like Pete and I, Kellerman grew up a hard core boxing nut and has transformed his fanaticism, intelligence, wit and insight into a career as perhaps the fight game's most influential commentator. Soon getting his very own show on ESPN. Go Max!
3. Destroyer – This Night (Merge) – That's correct, another release on Merge Records. And make no mistake: Dan Bejar is a legitimately important poet who is making the most fascinating, courageous folk music of our generation. Ignore galling reviews with glib references to Bowie or suggestions that Bejar is simply jabbering on without rhyme or reason. Listen a few times and consider what he's saying – you will not be disappointed. A masterpiece.
4. Fantasy Football – Pete's the commissioner and defending champion of our fantasy football. He's a little sore because his record dropped to an unfortunate 2-5 this past weekend. And I do sympathize with him, but because I am now 4-3 and solidly in playoff contention, this deeply diverting past-time still makes the list.
5. British Colloquialisms – The Mendoza Line doesn't get out much so you can imagine what an exotic delight it has been for us to encounter the various unusual "across the pond" expressions we've heard recently, concurrent to the UK release of our Lost In Revelry CD by the charming Cooking Vinyl label. One time, for instance, Pete e-mailed some sort of joke to one of the very friendly staff members at CV and her response was: "Oh Pants!" We thought that was just great. And a review from the UK, forwarded to us recently, concluded with the following phrase: "time to pun up on those graduating to the major league howlers." What does that mean?!?!! We don't know, but we LOVE it.
By Dusted Magazine