Doug Mosurock go to town on some David Pajo, Serena-Maneesh, Girls and much (but not too much) more.
Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 8
Beautiful Supermachines/The Distant Seconds
split 12” EP
Hey! Great name on that label! Guess what? It’s yours forever! Ten years from now, when folks ask “what was the name of your label?” there will be no feeling like cringing so hard that a little trickle of urine escapes down your left leg. People! Think! Anyways … The Distant Seconds sound exactly like Wowee Zowee. Take this cold, hard, indisputable, fact and do as thou whilst. Gerard Cosloy is quoted on their one-sheet, and absolutely nothing witty can be mustered from this corner about that second cold, hard, indisputable fact. All three songs are in the big-hook arena and apparently there is danger of trampling death at their local (Austin) shows. Flipped over, and Beautiful Supermachines belie their Not Ugly Whelming Contraptions naming-prowess by … that’s right … by kicking ass like a fantasy split 7” of Unwound covering Pavement’s “Grounded” and getting the same duty done to their “All Souls Day.” By Pavement, that is, and another keeper has been on the turntable for an hour! Three tracks a piece! (http://www.chickenranchrecords.com)
Cold Nice Gold LP
(Laboratory Standard Recordings)
Back in that great decade that gave life to the first half of my 20’s, there was this Polvo-lovin’ band on Squealer Records that had a violin player and a fixation on avant-classical noodlings rather than a need for vocals. The name will come to me after I’ve turned in this review. (Was it Spatula? –Ed.) Anyway, that’s really the only band that full-on copped Polvo’s guitar-thing, which is really odd when you stop to consider just how unique (good or bad, you be the judge) that band sounded. Polvo sounded so Polvo that imitators were halted at the basement level … something that should have happened to about 90% of the bands that decided Mogwai might make a suitable trampoline into/onto the realm of musical releases. Come 2009 and this little band comes out of Knoxville with a label (I think) and a record pressed in an edition of 300 on nice “giant matchbook” cardboard. There’s a big college in Knoxville … it’s called “UT Knoxville,” and isn’t without its own little history of feeding bands into the mix; Thumbnail and the Red Scare come instantly to mind. Bright Shuttle, despite the dim moniker, help some of us forget the limping remnants of post-worthwhile ‘90s instro-tedium that Chicago (scene, not band) hemorrhaged behind the motive of “I-own-jazz-records-that-you-don’t” and sound of a leftfield Spiro Gyro, if such a thing ever graced the planet with its putrid existence. The guitar tunings are halfway bent between Sun City Girls and Polvo, but the atmosphere is jacked up to Jessamine levels on some tracks. The side-long’er lost my interest until it exploded out of nowhere about fourteen hours in, and the flipside’s shorter tracks show way more breadth (within a template not known for taking off the blinders) than expected after Bright Shuttle got so Tales of Topographic on my ass that I actually started cleaning an adjoining room halfway through the song. A lot more was revealed upon second and third spins, though that’s asking a ton from most readers, I’ll bet. The Washed Out can wait another ten minutes (or can be donated to the neighborhood mission if logic prevails) … give this one another listen. (http://www.laboratorystandard.com)
Gracias Ghost of the Future LP
This privately-pressed affair from Chris Brokaw (late of Come, Codeine, Consonant, the New Year, and in the midst of a varied and worthwhile solo career) finds him wordlessly re-enacting the Oslo Accords alone in the studio. Side A features the tenor banjo exclusively, weaving in and out of a repeated theme with effects-laden, even withering compositions, where this thing is tricked out by teen goth flange (“Hiding Place”) wall-of-fire distortocombustion tactics (“The Ghost”) and field recordings of a heavy rainstorm (“Unknowable”). Flip it over for the sidelong piece “The Blue Ambulance,” where Brokaw extends an electric guitar and melodic to sound like he’s pulling on some harmonium the size of a train station, to beautiful, workmanlike effect. Pressed up for a short tour of Europe and New England, there have been only 100 hand-numbered copies pressed, and since it came out last year I’ve seen it around on a couple of occasions. Paste-on sleeve, stamped labels. (http://www.chrisbrokaw.com/merch.shtml)
Didimao is a trio of Bay Area weirdos, and the seven songs gathered on this self-titled piece of plastic make up their debut. It’s a tough one to figure, too – equal parts spastic Skin Graft-ery (think Lake of Dracula, or so says the lady), rumbling Neubauten-esque clatter, a touch of the Ex’s filterings of Eastern European folk, and maybe a little of the more punched up side of Sun City Girls for good measure. On first listen, it’s an absolute mess, a moody, schizophrenic record that sounds like three guys throwing as much shit as possible against the wall (in English AND Russian, no less), to see what might stick. Subsequent passes, though, reveal bits and pieces of a method, and an album that’s not necessarily designed as a collection of discrete songs, but rather as a multi-faceted end-to-end mindfucker that largely succeeds. There are still definitely parts of this record that rub me in all the wrong places, but I’m willing to give them credit for putting in more of an effort than most. They even manage a pretty great version of the Urinals’ “Surfing with the Shah,” which is no small feat. 200 copies. (http://www.myspace.com/ddiiddiimmaaoo)
“Laura” b/w “Oh Boy” 7”
(True Panther Sounds)
“Laura” is too wordy a la the Costello comparisons that this band gets in the pages of fucking Rabbit Fancy or Marine Fabricator Quarterly, thus it can’t go for the big hook like the couple of focus tracks that are sadly out of favor already. This still beats when they try to go shoegaze (clumsy and most likely a growing pain). “Oh Boy” is a gentle ballad with no beat and related cover art that’s gentle with no beat, but also a combo of disturbing, irritating, and almost Throbbing Gristle, if you get my zipper-drift. I like these two because they appear to at least have the type of opinions born of (some degree of) isolation (unless I fell for that, too) and they care how their records sound ... not because they sound like 10cc. I still don’t feel vindicated over being obsessed with 10cc in my very own early-20’s – people made fun of me and women physically vacated my apartment. (http://truepanther.com)
Old Punks LP
Here’s a solo effort by Gumo, bassist of the mysterious and heralded Les Rallizes Denudes, and it’s kind of a mixed bag, combining a handful of well-written songs that crib from the past 20 years of poppy/surfy Japanese punk, with a few slogs through traditional Japanese folk plod, set to electric instruments. Maybe it’s just me – can’t stand those chord progressions, they remind me of nursery rhymes and my unhappy childhood, and that’s just a whole ‘nother thing we’re not gonna get into. Includes some fellers from Maher Shalal Hash Baz … I know, keep your hat on. Strange rock music that aims for a moldy, depleted center as well as old dude mourn; occasional glimpses into well more than competent rock, crossed with god knows what. Things brighten up somewhat at the beginning of side two, but let’s face it – most of the studio hounds on Jagjaguwar could have pulled off a track not too dissimilar from “Lulu,” anyway. If you were lookin’ for LRD, it’s here, albeit in name only. (http://www.holymountain.com)
Pure Moods 12” EP
(True Panther Sounds)
I’ve got to hand it to Lemonade: Any band that has the audacity to name a record Pure Moods and proceed to utterly massacre calypsos on songs with names like “Banana Republic” and “Remain in Jah” deserves … something. I’d say a chance, but they use that up within a minute. The only comparably embarrassing sounds I can think of is that Latin beat infinite loop that every corny bar mitzvah DJ uses to get the kids “pumped up and out of their seats.” Thing is, no one ever gets up. Ever. There’s a videographer and adults around to confirm that you might have enjoyed something so devoid of a soul. I’m not one to dismiss a record so quickly and completely, but there’s not much else to latch onto here. This take on Caribbean dance music is ultimately drained of any real movement or heart. Beats run unerringly and robotically for between four and eight minutes, without ever relenting. It’s a mechanical simulacrum that drains all the charm and replaces it with errant drum machine sounds and inhuman handclaps. “Lifted” atonally harps on “reaching for something new” over and over, but I can’t for the life of me imagine what that is. After the critical dust-up that went down around Vampire Weekend’s colonialist tendency, this band should be thankful that they’ll never get big enough to draw the kind of ire they deserve. It’s not worth breaking out the torches and pitchforks for this one. But God help any sheltered kid who stumbles across steel drum this way. Because he won’t ever make it back from that kind of experience. Also available as a fucking bracelet, for chrissake. (http://truepanther.com)
“Love ‘Em or Leave Em” b/w “Goodbye Sunshine” 7"
Austin, Texas band (well San Marcos to be precise) that plays thee garage rock with roll. "Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em" wastes no time chugging ahead with a dependable, tried-and-true rock riff that bands have been leaning on since they first heard Exile On Main St. or the Velvets. No wheels are being reinvented here, as the band instead joyrides this old jalopy into the ground. Vocals are energetic and fitting to this sound but I’m wondering if they’re a bit of a put-on. Nothing wrong with some affectation in this case, but I’ve heard them somewhere before in another band (Marked Men? Carbonas? maybe a hint of Arthur Lee). “Goodbye Sunshine” is weaker, with guitars sounding sour but not mashing together in top shelf fashion. Limited to 200 copies. (http://www.supersecretrecords.com)
This Town LP
Real analogue 4-track recordings by Mike Hyde. I literally forgot what it meant for someone to go at it in modern times without “4-track” = “pirated recording software” but was reminded how the world feels about analogue cassette multi-tracking by the $50 price tag on a perfectly good used Fostex staring all lonely-knobbed the other day from a pawnshop shelf. Then I played this LP and remembered just how godawful it sounds when one decides to steer around usage of 2 – 3 tracks. Wait a second…wasn’t this just a bunch of indie-marigold garbage back when it was actually good? It might be a funny experiment to dig out some old Hozac issues to find the unkind words reserved for Shrimper-like efforts or Sebadoh/Sentridoh or Portastatic…they must be there. Then again, it might be even funnier to dig out some shit I wrote ten or fifteen years ago when I thought I knew a lot about metal and Japanoise and free-jazz (I knew, and continue to know, very little about anything) and was trying to impress girls by reprinting Jim Shepard’s letters to my zine. When this record isn’t charming (40% of the time), it’s gets a little grating by way of the when-in-doubt-pile-on-the-reverb hat trick, though when it’s charming (40% of the time), it’s real-deal catchy and when it’s actually gorgeous (20% of the time… “Farewell Letter” stacks up to any bedroom ballad from any decade) it’s downright creepy in its prescient pleas for friends’ and colleagues’ avoidance of death, as only lately has it been laid out plain and clear in front of me how that business can be nothing short of straight-up fucking haunting and wrong. This clusterfuck is supposed to be a good review. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
Stackticon 7” EP
Do the Mental Twist 7” EP
Lady-led garage-slop that is spot-fucking-on. It sounds like the Cheater Slicks put microphones in front of all three Vivian Girls but wouldn’t let them touch their instruments. There’s a scope here, too, as perhaps three different approaches are fiddled with: textured-but-sounds-like-crap pop, blown-out garage-hate, and medium-warm garage-rock. The Hozac single does with a bit less variety than the Bachelor 7”, but is still fine, and not without the ability to divert attention from the fact that Hozac is a wildly-inconsistent beast, or at least from the fact that I probably know one or two people that would let that NoBunny fellow defecate in their pie-holes (which is exactly what at least one of his records effectively DOES). There is a determined focus on THE GUITAR and the many things someone can wrangle out of even the shittiest Squire Affinity model if run through the right floor-full of eff-ex boxes. Again, it must be spelled out: T-h-i-s-i-s-a-g-o-o-d-t-h-i-n-g. Stay tuned! Alright, get these records. They’re good. (http://www.bachelorrecords.com) (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
Scream With Me LP
Professional musician David Pajo makes like a zit on Lou Barlow’s teenage cheek, and oozes a chunky, spurting sense of conceptual know-how. Here, he takes nine Misfits songs, gives each an emotive arrangement for breathy male voice and acoustic guitar, and essentially turns each one into a love song. Even “Bullet” seems a bit less vile in this environment, lit by votive candles and sitting cross-legged on a large pillow, looking very cool indeed. As you can imagine, the hissing fumes of the first two Sebadoh LPs is all over this, and likewise, the mental image of a teenage dude beating his meat to this sort of thing gets burned in the old memory bank of regret after a couple of spins. It’s fine and all, and clearly Pajo isn’t faking his way around songs, but only the truly young and inexperiences aren’t going to listen to it at least once, go “hm” and file it away. This omelet of disease awaits your noontime meal in a fine paper sleeve, with a CD backup, in an edition of 1000. (http://www.blacktentpress.com)
Legit, exact reissue of this private press torpedo from ‘72, save for a couple of digital errors in the transfer. Piazza was an Italian singer-songwriter, and working with noted American musician Shawn Phillips, slide guitarist Tony Walmsley, and drummer Antonio Esposito, he created a curious waft of basement psych songcraft that would have made sense in any of the three to four years before its release. He sings in English with a nice, braying Romantic drawl, and keeps it less weird than Franco Battiato, less orchestrated than Lucio Battisti; it’s a swell document of a handful of guys working it out for little to no reward, with a brace of heavy/destroyed fuzz guitar and a rhythmic constancy that really drives three of these seven songs. The other four are in a folky, mellow mood that may not sit well with those looking for hard psych, but heads will recognize value in both – they kind of remind me of the quiet Free tracks. Clearly Donovan, with whom Phillips had a contentious history, hangs large over both flavors Piazza had to offer. I first heard two of these tracks from the great “Rare Music Radio” stream that Dan Cook compiled for grandroyal.com way back when, and was stoked to not have to pay thousands of spacebucks for an original. “In the Station,” “Going Into the Sunset” and especially the driving, almost Krauty “House on the Hill” earn this one’s keep by a lot. I’ve busted this one out at my last few DJ nights and had people running up each time, trying to figure out what it is. If that’s your scene, and even if it isn’t, here you go. Gatefold sleeve with stapled-in liners. As with the Truth 2xLP on this label, it’s an excellent job with few flaws. (http://www.veamusic.com/missing_vinyl/mv)
“Ayisha Abyss” b/w “Call-Back from A Dream” 12”
This month’s stack generated at least three or four joyful urges to curse out loud to no one in particular, and that’s peculiar re: the piss-poor condition of a sonic demographic that will never knock my dick off like it did fifteen years ago. Sorry about that, and it’s got nothing to do with age or bitterness. I harbor more excitement (and the requisite lack of life-stability) about new music than I have in ages, but the delivery rate leaves a lot of empty feelings at an age when that sort of thing can result in genuine insanity/disturbing behavior. Luckily, Serena-Maneesh will NOT be one of the new(er) bands that sends me up a water tower with a high-powered rifle. Far too noisy to win over the idiot-throngs that find Midlake exciting, these two tracks preview album #2 for the Norwegian outfit, and it’s looking to be a monster. Their debut s/t LP (released in 2005) was a refreshing train-wreck of psych-noise-rock confusion, an unknown or otherwise respectful nod to Bardo Pond or Major Stars through the “accepted in 2010” idea of “shoegaze” or whatever it’s being called these days. Don’t be fooled by the drone-proposal in those references, however, because S-M has a lot more teeth when it wants to, jettisoning the whole affair somewhere close to but not within Neur-Isis Hydra-Heavy territory. A promising band with some bank behind them means the parent album is bound to impress on the packaging side of things, and it gives hope that maybe they went and bankrupted a studio or two in the process of making a masterpiece. Wreck-O-Mended. (http://www.4ad.com)
Black and Blue 12” EP
Cold Cave inadvertently created a cure for reviewer’s block by…existing. At this stage in the game, with the corpse of “electro-shock” still lukewarm (bands that were making music in 2001 and 2002 are still, uh, bands making music), if you’re going to come along and slap a faux-authentic genre tag (neither “Minimal Synth” nor “Cold Wave” were used all that much back in the early 80’s) on what never went away, you’d best be able to write a song. Some well-written gems come from the Cold Cave brand, even some, if you will, warmth and heart, but that leaves very little wiggle room for an entity like Terminal Twilight. Remove the hooks, memorable tunes, and general human features from Cold Cave and the world gets Terminal Twilight, an L.A. duo with four sets of fingers crossed that one of these barely-danceable forget-a-thons takes off with the decidedly anti-rock club crowd. So, if you’re seeking out the record reviewed before or after this one, chances are quite slim you’ll ever hear this one without an unhealthy taste for stepped-on baby laxative disguised as cocaine. (http://www.myspace.com/terminaltwilight)
Sensação Do Princípio LP
For their third LP (and first domestic release), Portuguese duo Tropa Macaca presents two side-long pulls from the same draught of murky, basement kosmiche that colored their earlier records on Ruby Red and Qbico. Really, it’s quite a nice sound, and one that’s fallen strangely by the wayside, especially now that folks like Yellow Swans have gone kaput and Double Leopards only appear on very special occasions. Blasting off with the help of an early, Schnitzler-aided Kluster vibe, “Canos Serrados” sounds like it’s coming on through the walls of your neighbor’s apartment, with layers of gnarled guitars and corrugated synths announcing the fact that the folks on the other side of you probably have some halfway decent weed. “Semba de Fevereiro” is the winner here, though, opening with a more percussive force that eventually imposes its own swaying logic, with a surprisingly (and unexpectedly) melodic crescendo. This kind of stuff is pretty easy to fuck up in the wrong hands, but thankfully these two are not only capable of creating a mood with their arsenal of junkshop gear, but giving it a much-needed purpose as well. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
Upsilon Acrux/Honey Ride Me a Goat
Upsilon Acrux has been building gold geodesic sculptures in the fourth dimension for some time now, and it’s nice to see some of their desire for clashing, studiously abrasive prog sharing some screen time with flourishes of modal jazz and synth windowdress. They bring it, a little more playful than usual too, as splits aren’t where you’re going to put some grand statement. They’re the undisputed winners of this split LP if only for their song titles (“Acetate of Puppets” and “Caspar Brötzmann of Faux-Hawks”), the latter a sprawling piece, working from well-oiled, intricate aggressive/progressive pieces into a minefield of noise brutality, orchestrated by Peter Kolovos. Honey Ride Me a Goat are a trio, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems like every piece of available real estate in the confines of a progressive rock trio with standard gtr/bs/dr instrumentation has been claimed, and what that music can show me at this point, particularly with the comically aggressive take at play (big D. Boon lookalike manhandling guitar, jokey band photo with bassist holding a rifle, steely p-bass booming all over like the muscle suit George Michael has to wear on that one “Arrested Development”), is particularly limited. Some of the jokes make a little more sense once you realize these guys are from England, but why they’d want to assume this strange Midwestern stance is beyond me or anyone I know. There’s some worship of My War side B on “Sloth Putty,” which is counteracted by some choppy, showroom quality free rock on “Jipper Flow.” These song titles are making my ball sack shrivel, so let’s just say that this is on white vinyl is limited to 500 copies, and the recipe for Burmese Chili Chicken on the front, done up really small on the dust sleeve sticker, may prove more valuable in the long term than the record itself. (http://www.kitchendweller.com)
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By Dusted Magazine