Doug Mosurock is joined by A. Evan Woodward in a thorough examination of new wax by Lamps, Pantha Du Prince, Fucked Up and more.
Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 10
Antibodies 7” EP
Non-programmable drum machine with speed variance providing a back-beat for a non-programmable talent that assigns a great deal of importance to the apparent life-choices made to insure each track moves with its own tempo. Jumpy. Shuffling. Plodding. Records like this are always a shame. Not that there’s a real effort made to push this chosen sound – demented childlike warble treatment given to typical garage-sleaze scowl and guitars phoned-in from a really bad day in 2002 – beyond some extremely tight boundaries. It can’t even rock, much less get all quirky or psyched-out like the cooler bands. Production quality this bad only means someone knowingly chose the setting “Warmed-Over Asshole” ….and came outta pocket for it, or otherwise seriously neglected an already-compromised analog 4-track. The three separate tempos heard here are just that … different speeds, not some range of inspiration. The inspiration dial on this unit is like the “darkening” knob on a toaster or the “close-door” button on an elevator. All results will be equally as maddening. (Andrew Earles)
Alabama band of white kids starts off a side of their single by yelling “yeah, nigga!” CLASSY. You still got it, Alabama. Don’t let anyone take it away from you. (Doug Mosurock)
Blue Sabbath Black Cheer & Nihilist Assault Group
Planned Obsolescence LP
I get it. For some reason, an obsolete future is not a hard vision to form in relation to either of these outfits, or for that matter, anyone within their secret-handshake club. Now, a little harder to swallow is the idea that either is actually prepared or totally enthused about total and terminal obsolescence at some juncture on down the road. They may be happy, lifting a finger to entertain the same 200 to 400 people with each release, or they may be ingrates, respectively, but no one involved is allowed to say “we make music for ourselves … not an audience” with a straight face, even after they’ve laid a side like either of these. I’m guessing that’s a shared attitude or is nurtured by one or both of these entities, though confirmation has not come this way. As far as each side is concerned, well, it shouldn’t be a concern. A more interchangeable pair of noise-burps doesn’t exist, and maybe that was the point. If you’ve already landed this, you most likely have several if not a TON of albums that sound exactly like this one. No discernible melody. Distorted gurgling is the focus. One-dimensional, ragged sheets of noise from a partially-operating table of FX boxes, etc. No shifts or changes worth mentioning. If a riff has ever entered Blue Sabbath Black Cheer’s musical vocabulary, it’s a slip-up everyone’s too embarrassed to even joke about. This is the anti-individualist, anti-heart, anti-riff, anti-urge-to-throw-on, anti-mood, anti-clarity, anti-involved, anti-endeavor…this is the anti-good. (http://gnarledforest.blogspot.com)
Congratulations to whoever made this MP3-sourced, minimally-appointed bootleg of the Desperate Bicycles/Evening Outs singles: at some point in the future, provided you are still alive, Nicky Stephens will punch you in the face. It’s a bold move, less egalitarian than the CD-R/digital files that have been passed around since the early ‘00s, but don’t let it obscure the fact that Stephens’ fist is going to come crashing into your mug, perhaps when you aren’t expecting it, because records like this don’t really solve the problem – namely, how to represent England’s first truly DIY folk punk band, a band whose legacy sits next to late ‘70s Scritti Politti as the most ingenious and important of the era. A tiny bootleg pressing isn’t going to get the job done – the 500 or so copies of this going around aren’t making it into the hands of people who’ve never heard of the Desperate Bicycles before, so this just becomes a stopgap fetish object for people like me who waited too long to shell out for original copies and are now at the mercy of HIGH PRICES. That beatdown isn’t a how or a why, but a when. Personally I think it’s a shame that this music has never received a proper reissue, but it’s not my call as to why or why not. The anti-authoritarian political message in this music should appeal to both sides of the party line, and they were a really fun, inspired band to make music that thinned the boundaries of punk and “punk,” all while keeping every aspect of control over their output. For people to represent “and, not or” in this era of music was precisely what needed to happen, despite their divorce from the times due to lack of historical representation. Reading about this music is like reading a missing person’s report, which couldn’t be further from the truth – the brash, somewhat detuned chords of “Smokescreen” hit like Nicky Stephens’ fist, plowing into the face of whoever did this record, and the maintenance between stompier and more mellow styles of music will no doubt feel like that hot, flushed feeling you’ll have in your head when he makes your face a total loss, when you find yourself on the ground, fishing through the gore to find some of your teeth, the taste of blood gushing down the back of your throat. Hope it was worth it, buddy.
“Couple Tracks” b/w “Heir Apparent” 7”
Backlashes can be very infuriating, namely the type of backlash that has no dynamic aside from herd-mentality, “hate ‘em cuz I’m supposed to” bullshit. Fucked Up has weathered a lot of that over the past two-three years. They’ve followed natural creative restlessness into territories that your garden variety hardcore ham ‘n’ egger doesn’t understand, and when dipshits don’t understand something, they do what? One guess. Even as a young band, it was apparent they had something special. Then they became that something. The collective frame of reference at work here – at least three serious heads for a wide range of musical loves – is greater than the braintrust at some university departments. They are surgically-precise with desired aesthetics. They are smart – really smart, that sonically and intellectually, their music is no longer indicative of the accepted idea of hardcore. Ideally, they come off as a nice, fresh injection into that long-suffocating genre when others attempt to place them within the strata of hardcore punk. They just do what they do, and it happens to be unique and inspired on several levels. Considering the landscape they travel and profile they’ve achieved, in general and regardless of people’s genre tagging, this is something rare. Personally, since becoming versed on Fucked Up’s “thing” and getting cozy with a handful of releases (some of the bigger ones), I’ve had a deep appreciation of the band that outweighed my desire to throw them on randomly throughout the day. Now, they’ve gone and written a song that can be held high as a masterpiece. “Couple Tracks” is a brilliant pop-rager that transcends each and every trapping assigned to the band by the innumerable ninnies with opinions. It’s the type of song that lasts. It will always be powerful; long after there’s no Fucked Up to play it live, and hearing how golden it really is, that first time a week or two back, recalled some of those other, younger firsts that all of us believe are forever lost to nostalgia. It’s so good that it doesn’t even matter what I think of the other side. (sold only as a gift with pre-orders of the Couple Tracks double LP set, but try anyway at http://www.matadorrecords.com)
And Then You Fucking Die, Man LP
I handed this to my pal Ronnie the last time we DJed. Drunkenly, he took a look at the back cover, and asked me when this band existed. When he learned the answer was “right now,” his face kind of fell. Had he been duped? They certainly looked the part, as the monochromatic band photo on back shows four hesher looking guys, two longhairs, one beardo wearing a Dario Argento shirt, and a bassist, resplendent with windscreen ‘fro. “People still dress like that, man,” I told Ronnie, but he wouldn’t budge: “Yeah, but you know they got that look from some metal magazine photo of some thrash band from the ‘80s or something.” True, but where do our ideas come from anyway? I doubt anyone in Funerot is going to claim originality to what they do – make thrashy, historically proper ‘80s metal/’core with lyrical subtexts leaning towards the dusty horror/sci-fi wall at the last video store in the Pac-NW (where, confidentially, I hear that one of the clerks wears ill-fitting denim). And if I saw a photo of this band, I’d have a good idea of what to expect, and I’d be stoked, rather than put off. Nobody here is striking the pose (this isn’t a Jaguar Love record, folks). Maybe Ronnie wants his youth back. If you feel the same, take a Cialis, shove the nearest copy of “XTRO” into your VCR, turn the sound off, and slap this one on your turntable – the hand-drawn cover art, the rough edges, the grain of their sound should mesh perfectly with that hint of “rush” you realized you were smelling down at the local newsstand with the adult novelties and the arcade in the back room. If your erection lasts for more than four hours, find yourself the nearest watermelon and cut a hole in there. Then the horrors of your personal life can match Max Gorbman’s lyrics, which step up the previous descriptions of alien terror into a document of the fear that isolation and misunderstandings bring to the life of an outlander. It’s nice hearing a band like this as they grow out of one form into another, especially when they lose so little in the transition. Great fun and nothing more, but how often can you even claim that as a win? Another fine Funerot release. (http://www.inimical.com)
“Niels Bohr Was an Excellent Ping Pong Player” b/w “I’ve Been on a Lot of Camels” 7”
“The Role of the Dogcatcher in African American Urban Folklore” b/w “Salvation Road” 7”
Since these song titles are longer than the bodies of some reviews altogether, this will be brief. Lamps play a log-splitting strain of noisy rock, informed by garagelike/Pussy Galore-style pounding that sounds at once lumbering and complete, against songs that are forced into very basic composition by the weight of the noise itself. It could also be that these guys aren’t really adept musicians, but what they do is enough for them, and for their fans – think of them as a Los Angeleno counterpart to the Country Teasers or A Frames. No surprises here; these singles are of a piece with their last LP for In the Red. If forced to choose, I’d go with the Dull Knife one – “Niels Bohr” is one of the catchiest songs they’ve released to date – but both are essential for those careening into middle age without any sort of backup plan. Live and die alone amidst a library’s worth of books. Time enough at last… (http://www.dullkniferecords.com) (http://www.fandeathrecords.com)
Pantha du Prince
The Splendour 12” EP
The opening offering from Hendrik Weber’s latest Pantha du Prince album has me completely jacked to hear the rest. I was brought under this German’s spell on his last long player This Bliss, which was highly rated by the Panda Bear guy. That album was full of propulsive, ticking warmth and got a lot of spins when mood uplift was the desired goal. “The Splendour” starts off with these familiar staccato tones that pop and cling together, before a thumping, amniotic gauze enters the picture to coat everything in goo. All of the rhythm here sounds plucked, calling to mind the coil-wound tension of Arnold Dreyblatt. Weber gets every detail right; as the track progresses, sounds elongate and wind around eachother, culling a frivolity out of tension. A beautiful cut. (http://www.roughtraderecords.com)
(A. Evan Woodward)
Entanglements in the Orthopedic Sensorium LP
With filename track titles like “Rough Cut Strings Reversed,” “Yafi Loop,” and “Short Circuit with Wind,” one is tempted to dismiss Pekler’s latest as a pedantic click-n-cut exercise, lost in time. To do so would be to miss out on an exquisitely modern snapshot of Berlin blip-concrète. The record is constructed from unused tidbits in Pekler’s archive (which, judging from the depth here, is an embarrassment of riches), edited into four distinct suites. Each interval of music alternately sweeps and saunters by, as if mounted on a Viewmaster; harpsichord loops unravel, drum and string loops wind up and down like maypole strands, hollow drones boom and swell. There is an air of childlike wonderment here; you get the sense that the artist has probably wake and baked with “Fantastic Planet” at least a half a dozen morgens. Pekler plays in a couple formations with another Frankfurt maestro, Jan Jelinek, and you recognize a shared aesthetic here: warm vintage tones, vertiginous, swirling loops, and a dedication to natural ruptures in flow. The breaks are tended to and cropped like bonsai. 300 copies. (http://www.schoolmap-records.com)
(A. Evan Woodward)
Voice of the Seven Thunders
“The Burning Mountain” b/w “Dry Leaves (Alt. Version)” 7”
Rick Tomlinson is one hell of a folk guitarist, and since those early Voice of the Seven Woods records got a little lost in the wake of guys like Jack Rose and James Blackshaw, he turned his gaze to the electric, kicking in an Eastern influence with muscular studio-honed hustle. It was captivating, but for some reason it sort of felt like you might hear one of these songs in a spy movie; an effort to break rank with one tradition planted it firmly into another, one where uniqueness doesn’t necessarily play a key role. Consider Voice of the Seven Thunders the continuation of that sensibility, a standard rock trio with more dexterity than character. “The Burning Mountain” is a face-first shove into the spice barrel with ear-catching musicianship, while “Dry Leaves” a brooder of a folk exercise. It seems unlikely to me how this band can take the notion of evocative, ethnically-tinged instrumental rock any further than other attempts in the past couple of decades (no offense as they made some fine records, but I’m not digging out anything by Scenic or Friends of Dean Martinez any time soon), so unless the album has some massive reveal on it, I’m guessing their noses are already pressed against the glass ceiling. (http://www.tchantinler-recordings.com)
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By Dusted Magazine