Dusted Features

Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 17

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Dusted Features

Doug Mosurock, Andrew Earles and the rest of the crew assess more than 70 records, including wax from Clockcleaner, LA Vampires and Zola Jesus.

Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 17

The Art Department
Paperwork/Birdwork 12” EP

Speedy, birdlike guitar/drums duo races through twelve songs of proper, buttoned-up pop. Art definitely comes into it, particularly if you’re thinking “Art & Language” … though they sound nothing like the Red Krayola, I’m nevertheless stuck with that image of industrious, socialist types making pinched-off music that releases their goolies and satisfies their urges. Ecstatic Sunshine with a more playful, ironic sensibility and falsetto vocals might do it too. Belongs in the Recommended canon, I feel – exuberant music with methods which may limit their tolerance among many. Still, pretty neat and ambitious work. 350 copies. (http://genpoprecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bars of Gold
Of Gold LP

Heard and sorta enjoyed that Charles the Osprey record on Friction – lo and behold, this one came along. Bars of Gold plays sprightly, slightly complex, progressive-minded indie-emo-rock with “LOCAL BAND” stamped on the forehead of each of its members. Aesthetic decisions of the label aside, bands like this give their hometown of Detroit the image of an ideological wall built around it, where ideas from the ‘90s came to perch and then found their legs shackled to jersey barriers all around town. Really difficult to listen to, partly because it doesn’t still, partly because I have heard all of this done 100x over, and partly because there seems to be no drive or desire to develop past a very rigid mindset of what independent rock is supposed to sound like. Almost hilariously out of time with these times, and unwilling to discover any traditions not birthed between 1992 and 1999. Anger-inducing! Orange vinyl. (http://www.frictionrecords.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Les Bellas
Belladelic LP
(SDZ/Les Disques Steak)

French garage that’s a little more traditional than most of what these two labels have had on offer up ‘til now, but stay with me here, because this is a good one. Les Bellas were active in the last decade, and were well on their way to releasing this LP in 2006 on “a famed West Coast garage label” (unless you’re that guy Chucky from “Sons of Anarchy” who’s got like two thumbs and that’s all, you can count the number of possibilities here on a single hand), when said label was said to have dropped the anchor, which went straight through their proverbial boat, “Flying Wasp”-style, and that was that. Members of the group have resurfaced in the cutesy, slight Liminanas, while this full-length languished under someone’s bed … UNTIL NOW. What you have here is very, very boilerplate, slightly surfy garage-pop, but its immaculate rendering and classic sound, which not only predates the revival of such sounds by Girls Vivian and Dum Dum, but takes the time to address all of the historical details that are missing from kickball-borne revisionism and dress-up time. The reverb and fuzz elements here sound straight out of ‘67, the arrangements of a sterling historical vintage, and the singing and playing are both professional and personal, something that’s not so easy to accomplish without a lot of practice. Really, this sort of thing can go either way, but it’s important to note that it sounds fresh instead of slavish, and that this thing is full of great songs that belong right in time with their influences rather than as revisionism. Ten originals and two smashing covers of the Cryin’ Shames and Wanda Jackson complete the simple, impeccable package. (http://sdzrecords.free.fr) (http://www.myspace.com/disquessteak)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Better Letters
“That’s Not All” b/w “Container” 7”

Does the first wave of post-punk still has anything left on the shelves to shoplift, or is something different and more disturbing taking place when a new band smacks listeners over the head with that era? Not that long ago, bands could get away with sounding like a Post-Punk 101 amalgam; an aurally-amorphous support structure of Gang of Four, Wire, Joy Division, Devo, P.I.L., circa-’80 Clash, and maybe The Fall if the front-man happened to be halfway interesting. They got away with it because it’s all in how you wrote the song. And keep in mind that the initial run of highly-rhythmic, treble-happy post-punk retreads became viable as an inspired retroactive foundation (or “influence”), sonically, pretty early … Circus Lupus, Fugazi, Coral, and others I can’t remember right now … those bands made it their own. Things stayed interesting throughout the ‘90s, but the gesture became a little emptier each time a skinny little half-man picked up a stock Telecaster (read: no humbuckers) and got all jagged and tight with the riffage. Pretty soon, coworkers with proven sub-shit taste are saying, “I heard a band you’d probably be into…have you heard of ______? It sounds like some of that stuff you have on your computer.” This comment could be about Futureheads, Bloc Party, Hot Hot Heat, or any of the acts pushing it half a decade back. If you haven’t cared to noticed, we’re far past the point in a review where I’d try to rattle your proverbial cage with something like “but out of nowhere, this record spits in the face of the historical poo-pile that post-post-post-post-punk became sometime in the mid-’00s,” and if I’m the only writer careless enough to sit back and watch my fingers type the words “historical poo-pile”, then The Better Letters are the only post-x10-punk band cribbing the Talking Heads and absolutely nothing else. At least Clap Your Hands Say What? incorporated enough secondary crappiness so as to distract from their worship of the creators of quirkiness-as-embraced-by-art-pop (for which they should have been incarcerated after Byrne was finished making one of his only tolerable musical statements with Eno). This band adds nothing to a post-punk GPS system that so desperately needs extra sonic/stylistic accessories. If more than 100 of these were pressed, it will be in print forever. No worries. (http://www.thebetterletters.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Bosom Divine
s/t LP
(Les Disques Steak)

Following up a killer single from a year or two back, Parisian combo Bosom Divine lay bare their intentions across this full-length, a snarling, worshipful ode to California in the early-to-mid ‘80s. Black lights and Dexedrine streak across both sides, revealing a strain of Dream Syndicate/Gun Club/“Rodney on the ROQ” reverence that might not have been so evident on their previous record. They even attack the Rubinoos’ “Revenge of the Nerds” in a particularly triumphant read, with lots of twangin’ and plenty of unruly character jumpin’ out all over this thing. By comparison it’s less intense and more slick than another French rager of today (that Feeling of Love LP that came out in the spring), but where that band has a near-psychotic rage, Bosom Divine plays as a bit more cultured, a bit less worried about breaking ground, but just as much fun and important to shove in the face of anyone who wants to tell you some falsities about rock ‘n’ roll, and why it no longer matters to growing men and women. These guys must be in their 40s and they have learned to channel their pre-pubescence into something legitimately cool and almost classy in its ability to nail down the post-new wave/psychedelic revival of the time and place mentioned above. Valley Girl: the album, part III. Really great stuff. (http://www.myspace.com/disquessteak)
(Doug Mosurock)

George Cartwright & Davu Seru
Rag LP

Saxman Cartwright, celebrating a good long while of having escaped from the proximity of that giant pyramid in Memphis that’s holding everyone down, dances around a live set with drummer Davu Seru. Nice, balanced relationship between the two, Seru giving the traps a light, freeform dusting that matches whatever intensity or mood Curlew’s main man wants to deliver, be it big, expressive streaks of Oliver Lake-ian ‘tude or tiny squeakin’ bursts of pent-up energy. Quite a nice set, with little to intrude on the dynamic these two have built. Looking forward to hearing more. Paste-on sleeve, purple marbled vinyl, 300 numbered copies. (http://roaratorio.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Paul Cary
Ghost of a Man LP
(Stank House)

Solo basher from Paul Cary, former frontman of crazy-insane In the Red garage act the Horrors (the one from Iowa, not to be confused with the one from England that sucks). Now stationed in Chicago, I believe, he’s mining the lonesome howl of aluminum shed rockabilly slam, but steps far enough away from the clichés that genre can levy upon its participants. Mostly it sounds like a stripped-down, non-assholic Coachwhips, one which understands that swagger isn’t necessarily synonymous with wildman instro jambeaux or nonsense, audience-punishing demeanor. Possessing a thin, roomy sound in trio with bassist Toby Summerfield and drummer Johnathan Crawford, Cary possesses enough hip-shakin’ je ne sai quoi, and cautiously steers this away from parody or tribute into a memorable set, something which is not easy to do within this crumbling stylistic tenement. It’s not often than anything-a-billy will turn my crank, but wonders fail to cease over here lately. Thanks for all the good records, people. (http://www.stankhouserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Echo & the Light LP
(Tiny Engines)

1996-style jazzy emo rock by men, with the pretty boy vocals replaced by a hoarse, gruff yelling guy who can barely keep in tune. I remember a day when many of us couldn’t wait for this sort of music to go away. There is a small but dedicated number of people who are glad it hasn’t gone anywhere. For the rest of us, this is likely a dead form, and no amount of post-Don Cab noodling will revive it. 500 copies (200 on 180g black vinyl, 300 on white). (http://www.tinyengines.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Chainsaw Eaters/Melting Walkmen
split LP

12 inches of Danish for your morning wake up! Chainsaw Eaters are a minimal synth duo with a very precise, fast, machine-like drummer to make up for fairly standard synth tones and an overall lack of inventiveness in the riffbuilding department. The use of live drums does push this forward from the pack of, say, Death Domain, and they do pull off some quality dark rock moments towards the end, but this is kind of middle of the road. Melting Walkmen approach similarly dark/stark corners, but from the perspective of a deathrock band, with guitar and bass added into the equation, and an appreciation and drive to do something more punk. Their side is unequivocally excellent, sinister-leaning mayhem, kind of reminiscent of Sort Sol or maybe the Pack. Kinda wished they’d taken the whole record. This one’s gonna make the cut at the new Goth party I’m DJing at the Bell House in Brooklyn on Thursday, October 14th. Either you’re gonna be there and have fun, or you’re not. Join the smaller team. (http://mastermindrec.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Channels 3 and 4
Christianity LP

What’s more confusing: the general Canuck fascination with Screamers-style synth abuse and racing Caucasian robot dance beats, or the fact that it’s still a going concern some 10-15 years after most of the world has stopped caring? Was Black Cat #13 really that much of a force? Channels 3 and 4 would argue as much, slicing up a treatise of relentless monotony, redeemable mainly by the velocity at which it’s played. Everything here is straight up 1999, threeoneg/toilet-stall list, the sort of music that people who fantasize about the replicant Pris freaking out on their sex parts would enjoy. The slash-fiction guise and abandon within certainly make up for the conflation of lockstep rhythmic intensity with new and interesting ideas, and in that sense it’s a win. Their take on “1970” is certainly a surprise, and not necessarily one I would have expected (it’s not listed on the credits, but appears as a bonus track at the end of the record). I’d like to go back in time too, when I had a chance with people like these, pounds lighter and freed from responsibility. But I live in the now, and I like rock ‘n’ roll because it’s almost always done well by me, whereas a bunch of antisocial teens or arrested development cases only serve to make me feel worse about myself. If you wanna bring it back, this is the record in which you must place your faith. Tape microchips to your arm and use it to jack off with. (http://www.gilgongorecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Slates LP
(Sergent Massacre)

Four-song collection of earlier recordings from this beatific UK free-whatever outfit. A lot more musicus-abruptus, if you will, than the plangent reach of their excellent Ruined Parabola LP. Side A is taken up by an untitled collage piece more jarring than anything I’ve heard to date from this ensemble. It begins with an assault of mechanical, rhythmically shook cuts of guitar and dislodged scraps, fades into a section of long bowed feedback and milk pail klang, eases into a quiet section of haunting drone that rises up into electric guitar surges and moaning godspeak cacophony, which juts into a section of plucked strings and army ant marching beats, and closes with a violent amplification of said section. The three tracks on the B side offer up more harsh times and stupendous clatter, culminating in a noise jam much like most of the others you’ve heard. Curious parties will take a shine to learning how these guys got to where they are now (and what a place that is) but there are so many seams in their sound at this stage, it’ll be a rough step backwards for most. (http://www.myspace.com/sergentmassacre)
(Doug Mosurock)

split LP

Every Chora record is an adventure at the very least. This side (back in quartet lineup, same as Ruined Parabola) finds them in sax/percussion/whistle fight mode, which slowly transforms into a beautiful, dense rumination from the jungle canopy floor. Flutes, thumb piano and wood percussion swirl around and choke off the light. Great stuff, as usual. Quivers is a Brooklyn trio that plays in much more brittle forms, the standard guitar/bass/drums trio given a thorough reworking, pulling out of improvisation into something more mechanical and sinister. By the time their third track “Climbing” (part of a four-song suite about camping, called “Camping”) pulls in, they have shaken the bass down little more than a pulse, which anchors untenable, leaking noise and large, bowed objects in service of ideals with stress levels pinned. Every change is striking, every move precise. Great balance between these two groups, part of a new improv movement that’s definitely worth exploring. (http://www.ultramarinerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Christian Mistress
Agony and Opium LP
(20 Buck Spin)

Fuckin’ RIPPER from Olympia, WA, on the heels of a killer debut single. Six songs of technical NWOBHM, each one a showstopper as well as a heartstopper, with the raspily enunciated vocals of Christine Davis, who comes off as a punker version of Geddy Lee, lock down on blue-collar, rust-belt metal, like some unholy combination of Manilla Road, Priest, Scorps, and Mistreater. It’s a short record, without a wasted moment, the sound of five people in a town where there are a lot of bands, and better yet, a lot of good bands. This breeds a form of competition, and engenders the type of atmosphere where people have the time and room to become excellent musicians, can push themselves and each other to create something such as this, and ensure that it does not go unappreciated. The rush of activity around them and the utility of some of these players (Reuben Storey also played in Gun Outfit, and was in sci-fi “VHS thrash” outfit Funerot) speaks to a knowledge and care for music that extends beyond the career level. Something tells me that these people would not be the same had music like theirs not been an integral part of their lives and upbringing, and we are all better for it. Olympia is back. Vancouver is back. Calgary is back. Vibrant local scenes are going to save music from itself, because of bands like this, who play with their hearts on fire. Catch this group out on the road in the next month or two with Thrones, and be happy that the traditions of metal are still blazing on. (http://www.20buckspin.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Auf Wiedersehen 12” EP

Clockcleaner is gone. Many of you are happy about that. They left us a straight up death rock sendoff, recorded in 2008 when it had a prospect to be one-half of an album that was never completed. Sharkey played me these songs, and I stole them when he left the CD in my computer. I never passed them around but have been enjoying them in private for the past few years. Now they have names, and I know what they are. Soon you will too. After discovering these songs, which I am pretty sure were never played live, the band began making the motions of breaking up. It had been a fun ride but being in Clockcleaner could not be something that most would willfully undertake. Karen ran off to a plantation. Sharkey met the woman of his dreams and followed her to Australia to produce Sharkspawn and rail on about the Phillies from the confines of a public library. Richard stayed his course and has released many fine records. And this black-on-black send-off is the last you’ll hear of them. Like most of Clockcleaner’s songs, they are not complex, nor are they subtle, but they strike on a serious side of the band that was rarely revealed. Sharknuts threatens to off someone not-so-special at the end of “Pissing in the Moon,” moans about a life of conscription and whores in “Chinese Town,” and skulks the floor of Wednesday night at Shampoo for the two remaining songs, the bracing “Something On Her Mind” and the martial closer “Midnight Beach.” All songs point to the dark simplicity that’s been at the forefront of the Puerto Rico Flowers recordings, so it’s not like there’s any reason to lament why they didn’t walk in this circle for longer. I met these people at a crossroads in my life, and while I’m sure I overstayed my welcome in their presence, they helped to give me the perspective to start living my life, instead of letting life live me, and brought ten years of shit to a fitting end. See you at goth nite. (http://www.loadrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Cloudland Canyon
“Mothlight Part 2” b/w “In The Cold” 7”

Two long drones that could put the most avid methhead to sleep. This unnecessary single sounds like it was recorded directly into Garageband with the group playing on the other side of a cinderblock wall. Press release claims Krautrock, by which they mean repetition and empty noodling; it also claim shoegaze, by which they mean coming up with one half-assed riff, playing it though various effects, wailing incomprehensibly, then calling it a day. The repetition does nothing; it doesn’t hypnotize or reveal new facets; instead, it just serves as so much background shimmer, with no spark. Here’s an unproductive challenge you can try yourself: listen to the entire thing, then see if you can remember anything about it. If you can, you’re lying. This is quite probably quite pleasant if you’re into inoffensive, harmless dissonance. Fuck this. 300 copies. (http://www.batheticrecords.com)
(Bob Claymore)

Todd Congelliere
Clown Sounds LP
(Burger/Small Pool)

Mr. Congelliere (F.Y.P., Toys That Kill) steps out solo here, with a collection of tracks recorded in a bathroom somewhere over a long period of time. He’s got a fun voice and a good attitude, and is bold enough to stand up to the tragedy of the post-Reatard years with the requisite shouted, tone-deaf melancholy the end of the party really needs. A slight but rewarding walk through the dusk of a movement, worthy of appraisal for exactly what it represents, no more and no less. (http://burgerrecords.webs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Couchie Poochie
s/t CS
(Feeding Tube)

Here’s a real goofball live recording, keeping things simple and stupid up in the eclectic nexus that is Easthampton, MA. Couchie Poochie is the mindmeld floor dump of David Russell (The Frothy Shakes) and Tim Sheldon (Fat Worm of Error), coming together for some outsider jam sessions. This tape was hand painted and limited to 30 copies, recorded in what seems to be someone’s living room. Tongue-in-cheek little ditty love songs, just an acoustic guitar and Casio fill out the listenability factor but then spazz into some random instrument hammering with spastic lyrics which make little to no sense. Good luck trying to wrap your head around this one. (http://www.feedingtuberecords.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Cult of Youth
Filthy Plumage in an Open Sea! 12” EP

More neo-folk from Sean Ragon’s life of turmoil, reaching some sort of lite-FM-meets-Ween apex by the second track, and some sort of Savage Republic free-strum revelry by its third. “Tough times” were reported during the making of this record, and brother I’ve been there too. Maybe I should have made a snarling, evil sounding paean to earth magick and everything would have been better in the long run. I didn’t though. I wrote about records and talked to people, and no one was right or wrong in the end. Those looking for the grounded nature and control of his Dais full-length might be surprised by the poppier, darker turns on this round – his voice pitched somewhere between Peters Jefferies and Murphy, his music scattered like ash. Let’s hope he stays better, that we all may achieve. (http://avantdistro.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Death Sentence: Panda!
Spectral Arms LP
(Explorerist International)

Part of a Bay Area scene of punk-meets-avant music that also includes Deerhoof, Experimental Dental School and all of George Chen’s projects, DS:P! uses non-traditional means – reeds, winds, chimes, samplers – with tried-and-true aggression to bring across a level of expression elevated beyond traditional song structures and instrumentation. By and large they succeed, and almost entirely on their own terms, bearing down hard on no wave aesthetics and musical training put to use, a bracing, hostile, and somewhat robotic approach to expression that belongs as much to NYC circa 1978-80 as it does to San Francisco/Oakland today. If you’ve heard this group before, they’re not moving very far away from where you last left them, but the sonic palette has increased greatly, offering these affable folks even more opportunity to destroy your sanity from the inside. Great design seals the deal. Clear vinyl. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Death-Sentence-PANDA/360374872389)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Dictaphone
s/t LP
(Kill Shaman)

Having been underwhelmed by an earlier single by this French outfit on Sweet Rot, my levels of anticipation for this brand of boilerplate postpunk were not high. I’m kind of unsurprised to report that the full-length doesn’t do much to change those thoughts; a bunch of water-treading in the Fall’s wake (or the Country Teasers’ backwash) with purposefully obscured vocals doesn’t generate much excitement around here anymore, not that it ever did. Think that second Gordons record they don’t care for anyone to hear, or Factums with a little bit more clarity, an nth-tier effort without much explanation for itself. Sad, really. You’ll want the Feeling of Love record instead. Cover fan alert: they do the Crucifucks. (http://killshaman.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bill Dixon/Aaron Siegel/Ben Hall
Weight/Counterweight 2xLP

This slab of pensive atmospheric jazz textures has the unfortunate distinction of being the last record iconoclastic trumpeter Bill Dixon released before his death earlier this year. As far as innovators in mood within the genre are concerned, no one – and I mean no one – ever rivaled Dixon, whose warm/cool tones, reliance on effects, and minimal, painterly style. Rhythm section of Siegel (bass) and “Hell” Hall (drums) keeps it a little busier and less frosty than on some of Dixon’s touchstone releases (Sons of Sisyphus, both volumes of Vade Mecum), but for an artist as criminally underdocumented as he was, you have to take what comes, and if that means a seam or two in Dixon’s surreally smooth front, that’s how it’s gotta be. Best of the four sidelong offerings here has gotta be closer “The Red and the Black,” where Hall whips out the xylophone and allows a triplet of chiming tones to ripple out into the shrouded, still black water of wherever these compositions would have been birthed from this Earth. Probably the easiest step you’ll be able to take in discovering a legend as of right now, so believers and newcomers are welcome to try this on. Subtlety is redefined. RIP Bill. Two thick records in an even thicker gatefold “laserdisc” jacket, so bring your weight truss to the record store or post office. (http://www.brokenresearch.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Le Drapeau Noir
s/t LP

Supersesh of improvised/heavy Earth spiritual vibe-mercantile players, incorporating the members of the Euro outfits Chora, The Hunter Gracchus, and Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides. “For Louise Michel” is a string-borne flight of restless, almost aggressive praise and energy, violins, guitars and drums pushing across the free jazz aisle and beyond meditative borders into the ayahuasca ceremony taking place somewhere off the college campus up into the mountains. “For Théophile Ferré” begins at this cataclysm, voices shrieking and percussion blasts rolling across as strings scrape, harmonium instructs, and electric guitar and bass tune into the celestial frequency therein. Recorded live in Lyon, France, it’s the sound of an eight-person orgy, a tantric expression which never allows for release, holding its feelings beyond the breaking point. Another mindblower from the Chora camp. (http://www.myspace.com/chironex92)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP
(Rob’s House)

Hott NYC garage/punk trio fronted by ex-Carbonas/Beat Beat Beat guitarist Josh Martin. The slop that sometimes plagued the Carbonas is gone, and there’s more than a little big city spitshine on this full-length, maybe a little informed by the Dead Boys but having more in common with the ‘80s run of ‘60s revivalism (the Cynics, New Race, Original Sins, even the punker side of the Replacements come to mind, given the assault that Martin, Martin and Martinez, attorneys at rock, levy upon us). It’s nice to hear quality returning to this arena, well-written and ripped to the tee-tahs, but always in control. Eleven songs which don’t wear you out with the same thing over and over. Really good times here. (http://www.robshouserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Jerry Granelli
1313 LP

Dubious Canuck indie/kids’ stuff label takes an abrupt left turn into the world of improvisation, and pulls in a big ol’ flounder in the form of legendary jazz drummer Jerry Granelli, who drops a solo percussion bomb of much weight on unsuspecting heads. Granelli isn’t playing like an all-over-the-kit sorta guy here until later in the sesh, instead choosing to ruminate on sections of his arsenal (bells, cymbals, and treated snare on “Metal – hail – non-stop”; mallet treatments elsewhere) on the first side. Flip it over and Granelli gets into a bit more of an open, yet highly structured rhythmic stank, concentrating on bells and groove, while still experimenting with odd drum tunings and effects (as on the ghostly “Love Song For U”). Granelli goes where he wants to, takes his time getting there, but isn’t leaving you, the listener, in the lurch while waiting for him to show up. For as far out as some of these ideas get, he stays in the pocket and never forgets to engage with a potential audience. Might be my favorite release on Div/orce to date, which would probably make it their best so far. CD copy included. (http://www.divorcerecords.ca)
(Doug Mosurock)

Darin Gray and Loren Connors
The Lost Mariner LP/7”
(Family Vineyard)

Soul swallowing abounds in this late ‘90s sesh between bassist Gray (Dazzlingkillmen) and esteemed singular blues guitarist Connors. Roomy, doomy tones in a conciliatory mood, sad but profound and dignified, a virtual end of the line for some listeners who might hear this and never fully retreat from the masculine darkness within. The companion single, pressed in mono, captures the duo in the live setting, all the metallic torture of Connors’ instrument choked out by room ambiance and Gray’s watery wah-wah bass mander. Aggression, stylized and filed down. (http://family-vineyard.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sam Hamilton
Pala LP
(Tumbling Strain)

Seizure-inducing electronic/sampler attack with Earth Day IDM riddims spazzing out all over the place, and vocalist/chief cook Hamilton providing some sky-high vocals, the real ghost in the machine. So much high frequency sound, you’ll go nuts – some may see this shooting in the general direction of Animal Collective or Yeasayer, but few will be able to make it through the entire record; it’s like the ADHD art student’s retelling of “The Lion King.” Hakuna matata indeed. Intense and unbearable racket! On sight alone I knew this would be a hard time. Looks don’t lie. (http://parasiticfantasyband.org.nz)
(Doug Mosurock)

High Wolf
Ascension LP
(Not Not Fun)

UK mystery meat man High Wolf gets all shamanistic on your ass, rattling cages with spiritual howl and Godstuff without necessarily providing the requisite cleansing or direction such loose efforts require. Cool if you don’t have a bunch of records already like this, but the level of entry is a bit low and the expectations way too high; if you’re still wont to check him out, might I point you to the Iibiis Rooge LP on Dekorder, where the Wolf collaborates with the guiding hand of Astral Social Club? You’ll thank me later, skater. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Hunters, Run!
“Life of Crime” b/w “Oh, My Ageless Brother” 7”
(Battle Standard Records/At Arms)

These two bit nimrods stink like expired deer repellent. On this criminally awful single, these lousy fuckheads swing for the fences with shamelessly commercial pop, the kind of disposable crummy shit that wouldn’t be out of place in the big montage scene of a movie about rebellious (but not that rebellious) high school students. These piece of shit human beings peddle the kind of insidious, irritating pabulum that’s for folks whose entire record collection was purchased at the local Starbucks. These fucking scumbags make me deeply envious of people that live under the iron thumb of totalitarian military dictatorships, because at least they don’t have to put up with shit like this. The filthy sonsofbitches have the gall to charge $8.50 + shipping for this two song, completely worthless single, which is the kind of thing that should have the citizens marching to At Arms HQ with pitchforks, torches and a guillotine. The label address is: 412 E 11th St., #2RB, New York, NY 10009. I’ll meet you there, I’ll be the one in the yellow rain slicker, carrying the bolt cutters. 200 copies, but don’t waste your fucking time. (http://www.myspace.com/huntersrun)
(Bob Claymore)

s/t LP
(H:G Fact/La Vida Es Un Mus)

Japanese war pigs who play at maximum volume and speed, spewing forth some of the most violent metallic hardcore since the Framtid album; however, where Under the Ashes boasts a trebly assault, Kriegshög goes straight for the midrange, filling every available space with putrid soundfilth. Clean drumming is blotted out by unbelievable, overcharged guitar and bass, and esophagus-vomiting vocals, obliterating the common (or even uncommon) punk or hardcore offering with withering speed and uncompromised NWOBHM (that’s “New Wave of Brutality & Hardcore Massacre,” and it says so inside the gatefold) spirit. What’s more, they don’t give two fucks about you. The back sleeve advises you to “PLAY LOUD AND DIE!!!!!” and the sleeve notes simply state “WE DON’T CARE STAY FREE!!!!! FUCK YOU!!! ALL FUCKERS!!!!!!” Only one listen to this beast, preferably at the gym, and you’ll be throwing free weights at your trainer’s broken, oozing skull. Then you won’t complain about paying $33 and up for this monster, because in six months, or maybe even six weeks, you’ll be pissing in a Ca$h 4 Gold envelope trying to be able to afford this one. And by the time it cools off ever so slightly on side B, you won’t even mind. Sold out from most sources before anyone even heard it, and thankfully it was worth the expense. Kill all! (http://www.interq.or.jp/japan/hgfact) (http://www.lavidaesunmus.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus
s/t 12” EP
(Not Not Fun)

You might think I’m a jerk, Not Not Fun, but I’m a pretty nice guy. A fair guy. I pride myself on the fact that these writers we have over here call ‘em like we see ‘em. And aside from congratulating you on 200 releases – the sheer volume in such a short time is pretty astounding; I remember when you were on like #17 – and your in-house team is making great records as opposed to confusing and slight ones. This LA Vampires thing (Amanda Brown, one-half of this industrious mini-empire, and a remaining member of Pocahaunted) is brill. BRILL. Trill. The split LP was phenom, and this collab with Nika Rosa Danilova, moments before she gets swept up in some big label contract and has to tapdance in front of the xx on tour, shows the versatility of both artists – ZJ to fall into the muse role as hazy dark ambient vocalist, apart from her more traditionally Goth material, and LA Vamps to nail a new flavor of production, couched between the nonsense of triangle witch house and the soon-to-be-forgotten nuances of early-to-mid ‘90s hip hop tracks. Great record that gets by on very little, and I sincerely hope that Danilova keeps Mrs. Brown in mind for the full-length. All sold out, apparently, but I’ll bet you can find a copy in a store somewhere. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

A Common Place LP
(Sorry State)

Boston punk/HC outfit showing significant improvements over previous releases with this new full-length. They have moved beyond melodic punk into where all great bands who want to mine the genre have gone: straight for the gas pedal. It’s thrilling to listen to these folks (complete with raspy, Peppermint Patty style lady on vocals) figure out new dimensions in their sound simply by getting better, strapping it down and just laying into it – the drummer in particular (whose name is Dan) really gets moving on the B-side, an inspiration to all-ages showdwellers everywhere. Politically minded and charged up, the only thing hurting this record is an unfortunate layer of distortion all over the top, which sounds like a digital issue and prevents me from wanting to turn this mishmash up much louder. All the same, a great record, flaws and all. (http://www.sorrystaterecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sean McCann
Chances Are Staying LP

Solo drone and tuneful ambient wander from McCann, a guy in California who seems to be channeling Emeralds’ recently-forsaken nature vibes pretty hard. That’s fine. I was looking for some warbly, multi-instrumental pulseweave sounds earlier, and this is hitting the spot. Side one is seventeen minutes of calm, as told through synth, guitar, and some sort of strings (violin?) and perhaps some brass, or maybe a soprano sax. Side two offers up a little variance in the same mode, with some guiding rhythms here and there, and a heavy cosmic/altered consciousness vibe that makes sense given the lush, primordial forests depicted on the cover. If you’re stoned, or would like to be soon, grab this and float on. But please – don’t drift and drive. Numbered edition of 400 copies. (http://www.dntrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Meltaot/Souls on Board
split LP
(Ash International)

Live recordings of longform experimental/torture sounds from London, featuring folks you know, dating to November 2009 and an event held by exp cassette label The Tapeworm. Meltaot is Savage Pencil, a man I admire, and his musical partner Sharon Gal. They go at it as only two artists would, guitar and bass leaking black sputum while Sav X bangs the cymbal, sticks the instrument cable up his you-know-what and howls in sputtering discontent. Souls on Board is billed as a “mystery group” featuring Wire’s Bruce Gilbert (so much for the mystery) – they offer up a barely-there thrum of low-frequency interference, long on time and kind of short on excitement, though I am positive people want this for something. I plan on scaring my upstairs neighbor tomorrow and I think the subtlety and long-lasting nature of this one will drive him fucking bananas. IF I DON’T GO INSANE FIRST! (http://www.ashinternational.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Myty Konkeror
I Miss the Future LP
(Twin Lakes)

Potential acid blisterers from around the tri-state area give the swirling, earnest ‘90s alt-rock thing – which really wouldn’t have been out of place on some Cell/St. Johnny/Grifters showcase at the New Music Seminar circa 1992 – the proverbial “go,” albeit through the Peter King lathe cut treatment. Songs all sound like growers, the product of some thoughts which are usually buried under the shelves in some college town somewhere where nobody knows how to throw anything away. The fidelity quotient within these long slow acid burners is victim to the handmade “quality” laid upon the record’s physical manufacture, and as such a possibly heavy record gets trapped beneath dictaphonic ice. I’m usually not a critic of King’s work, but if there were ever a band that deserved to sound like their master tapes, it’d be this one – leave the lathe cuts to Witcyst! They say these things are supposed to sound better the more you play them, but you might be busy enough to want to skip the frustration, and check this one out on CD, cassette, or digital download instead. Nevertheless, a good and painfully limited start – only 30 copies of the vinyl exist, in paste-on, hand-numbered sleeves, and it is far from pretty in the art department. You choose how you wanna take it, but you probably should take it. By my count, at least three copies made it to writers. Will you buy the last one??? (http://www.twinlakesrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Needy Visions
s/t LP
(Motorcycle Face/Bodies of Water)

Ten songs of shambling, built-to-annoy-the-punters pop from Boston, MA (part of the Whitehaus collective). The Needy Visions shuffle around country and bubblegum pop tropes like drunks staggering home after last call. There’s something here, though, something beneath these songs which compels you to listen to them again. The lowbrow dressings the band applies to the presentation can’t hide the spreading tunefulness of the enterprise, and ultimately we have a no-more-or-less situation where the more side of the equation wins out with each repeat spin. There’s strength here, and with the right amount of treatment these would be big hit songs on the radio, even. A much better time than the ballgazing album cover would lead you to think. (http://www.myspace.com/theneedyvisions)
(Doug Mosurock)

Neon Blud
Whipps 7” EP
(Fan Death)

This one’s a stunner with a minute or so of free-form guitar squeal a la that track on the Chicago Transit Authority debut (three decades of noise records? What are those?) before an intimidating sucker-punch of femme-vox’d garbage pop tramples without warning. Things don’t let up; maintaining more-or-less the same litmus test level of shit-n-static noise until side 2’s run-out takes the needle. Not to suggest that Whipps sounds like one 10-minute song, as the different tracks are identifiable through respective tempos, minor mood changes, and by whether or not it’s to be pop hooks, un-pop screaming, or fast gibberish from a girl who’s verbally diffusing into some variety of microphone-equipped gadget that was invariably intended for a use that has nothing to do with music vocals. Again, don’t let this mild-mannered retelling detract from the blindsiding, first-listen keeper status assigned to this EP. The past twelve months have been good for noise-rock reinvention, yet another former fantasy realized through the sporadic beacons of inspiration peeping out of what will historically go down as rock/pop/experimental music’s worst era. (http://www.fandeathrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

The Neon Judgement
Early Tapes LP
(Dark Entries)

If you ever wanted to piece together the story behind all those Neon Judgement 12”s you see littered in every used record store in the world, here’s your start – cassette tracks from this Belgian synth/guitar duo from their starting days in the 1981-82 timeframe. The vibe is suitably cold, despite some manic playing on a few tracks; sadly, after a while, a lot of minimal synth starts to blend in with one another, and I for one cannot discern what these guys brought to the table that’s so different from anything else you can find out there on the reissue circuit. Sounds like people forced to grow in dwellings with low ceilings. Would drive me nuts. This copy came with schmutz all over the B-side and big gouges carved into the last few tracks … what gives? (http://www.darkentriesrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

BJ Nilsen and Stilluppsteypa
Space Finale 2x12”
(Editions Mego)

A title couldn’t be more appropriate for the electronic “doop” and cosmic pulse infections from sound artist Nilsen and longtime Icelandic experimental outfit Stilluppsteypa, now reduced to a soloist. Impossible deep and unsettled calm mark these four sides, originally released on cassette, a rush of immense headspace and crushing atmosphere. Side C is positively terrifying and should not be experienced in a dark room, unless terror is what you want. Feel the universe push down on you like the lips of a vice. You’re done. Beautiful, cloudy despair and wonder. 500 copies. (http://www.editionsmego.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bold Mould LP
(Soft Abuse)

Collaboration action between Stefan Neville (Pumice, the Coolies) and a man named Klaus (the Futurians) – this is like the decaying New Zealand Gibraltar version of My Life in the Bush with Ghosts, perhaps, only not as consistent or interesting. After a few listens, these songs evaporate from my conscious mind, something which rarely happens with Pumice records proper. It balances out into an unfortunate zero-sum game where Neville is pushed towards electronics instead of guitar, and good ideas get squelched in a litany of cheapo technology and unserviceable songs. There are a few bright spots, but this is more of a free-rock toss-off than anything you’ll care to remember, a few shining tracks aside. Give it a miss. (http://www.softabuse.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP
(Clan Destine)

There’s a saying that became popularized over the past couple of years, and it haunts me every minute of the waking day. “Fifteen years ago, around 100 bands could each sell 100,000 or more albums. Today, there are around 100,000 bands, and each has album sales of 100 copies or less.” Technological advancements have leveled the playing field, alright … leveled it so smooth, inviting, and idiot-friendly that vinyl loses a little more of its power as a proper litmus test each time I have to review a record like this one. Gone is the passion, the struggle, the drive and the excitement that once dictated the process of putting together a band, playing some shows, recording some material for a single. Nowadays, it’s just something that college-aged folk do for fun … a time-eater for those crawling days between now and graduation, or an accelerant assisting with both pants-removal and knee-dirtying. Long after the bubble has burst and the culture wars have raged, my theme song will be a self-penned ditty titled “I Told Ya So” and it will play at top volume as two of us enter Thunderdome and I leave after defeating yet another thief, vagrant, or deviant cobbler. My weapon of choice? An unending supply of broken 7”s just like this one, their sharpened edges and ends dipped in a powerful poison. Only after crushing my 100th opponent in this fashion, therefore establishing a real and proper use for these things after years of close calls and self-injury, can I finally find peace with the wild and embarrassing overproduction of these 7”s during the pre-war 00’s/10’s. To clarify: If anyone suggests that your record be used as a weapon (and it’s not one of those Acrid sawblade 12”s or Mudhoney/Gas Huffer splits), set your TomTom back to the starting point and rethink what exactly it is that you’re trying to do in music. (http://clandestinerecords.bigcartel.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Outer Limits International
Foxy Baby LP
(Not Not Fun)

Murky synth sloppers from the NNF camp via Berlin, borne of Ariel Pink’s stylized wander and the abandon of the Black Bean and Placenta Tape Club. Intriguing and airy at its source, the treatment this music is given lies somewhere between anaerobic, unwise, seasick and criminal. For the Altered Zones crowd (now you can be identified), maybe not so much for grown ass men and women. Pink marbled vinyl. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Marco Panella
Eastern Landscapes LP
(Tequila Sunrise)

Panella is a guitarist playing in the midst of rock, country, folk and jazz, and this new album of his is a worthy artifact of the creative mind untethered. He doesn’t wander outside of song-based forms, which is harder than you’d think for a lot of folks who play the guitar and want to stand out. Maybe the key here is understatement, which is not the same as underplaying; everything here sounds in balance, from Panella’s deadpan vocals and wry, humorous lyrics (I like “High School, Southern Vermont” and its call-outs of sustainable farms, personally) that crop up throughout this eight-song set. Most listeners will come into this one cold, and be stunned by what he can accomplish in and around known s-sw forms with no more than a few layers of guitar, and the instructiveness and authenticity to pull it off. Really beautiful work, stern and strong and masterful. 400 copies, w/obi strip, as is Tequila Sunrise’s wont. (http://www.tequilasunriserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Parish/Gâte
split 12”

Two sides of basement metal ambition, courtesy of an oft-irritating label out of Wisconsin. The Parish plays up the death metal angle, while Gâte finagles the BM/doomier side of things. I am compelled to tell you about one of my BMs, and how it spelled doom for the toilet of some gracious folks I once crashed with in Texas. It would be more interesting than the lowered expectations you’ll need to get through this one, with its lengthy exposition and wheel-spinning insignificance in the grand scheme of metal today. Blue marbled vinyl, paste-on sleeve, 200 numbered copies. Stuff an issue of Maximum Rock & Roll in the commode and let the filth flood your home. (trigger.on.the.dutendoo@gmail.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The People’s Temple
s/t 7” EP

First track follows a popular circa 2008-to-present recipe that calls for one ultra-simple garage-revival song template to be buried under suffocating, disorienting amounts of reverb. Save plenty for the vocals, and if any extra FX are sitting about unused, plug those orphans into the daisy-chain. Deception is thusly served, and it works on two levels: first, the thick buzz and rapid-fire noise-bounce covers up the lack of songwriting skill for unseasoned listeners (target audience), and if it works really well, all of that vapid, emotionless echo-skree will actually DISTRACT the listener enough so that they never notice the band’s inability to write its way out of the unlocked exit doors. Second level: It matters none whether the band/entity uses a tableful of effects boxes or one Line 6 rack-mounted Pod, your sub-Gories amateur-hour endeavor isn’t automatically qualified for the psychedelic mind-fuck sweepstakes just because it’s carrying around 350 lbs. of effects. If a listener alleges that he or she “got lost” in a song like “Make You Understand,” it’s a lie, or that listener doesn’t understand the meaning behind those words. It is impossible to get lost in a sound or a song’s sound when the sound is done for the sake of itself, or for the sake of meeting the nebulous guidelines required by a mini-trend gasping its last breaths.

Convinced that the journey was headed into predictable waters, I had to check the sleeve in case I’d somehow confused a compilation with a proper 7” EP by a single band/entity. “Machine” is a sterling success in the context of understated quasi-instrumentals (the vocals are nonsensical murmurings designed to add texture) and recalls the beautiful, fully-formed but tiny passages of song glue that held together ‘90s masterpieces like TFUL282’s Mother of All Saints or Fly Ashtray’s Clumps Takes a Ride (shortsighted critics always disregarded these perfect little pop gems as “filler”). It’s got a Flying Nun feel to it, too, though that should come as no surprise in this era of the tardy name-drop. At the end of the day, however, “Machine” is, as the lazy critic once penned, “worth the price of admission.”

Side 2 is taken up by the maddeningly self-referential “Jim Jones,” a standard issue Lou Reed/Velvets rehash done with the same process used in the creation of the opening track. Lastly, when a naming scheme uses references to the Reverend Jim Jones, it speaks volumes about the pop-cultural illiteracy afflicting the minds responsible. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Phantom Pains
Burden CS
(Beach House)

Murky, lo-fi drone compositions for San Francisco’s Beach house imprint by Bay area moniker Phantom Pains. First track entitled Breathing Smoke has a slow build using bowed guitar (I think?) drone interwoven with low-end industrial sound clips like slowed down machinery or churning water at a snail’s pace. Flipside with the piece entitled Burden keeps the same sludgy industrial theme going, but chops up the monotony a bit. Foggy storm-like drone dragging for an eternity that fades quietly into one sustained electronic pulse, stretched far beyond its boundaries until it opens up in an envelope of disquiet noise. Limited to 50 copies. (http://beachhouserecs.blogspot.com)
(Ryan Martin)

Duane Pitre
Origin LP
(Root Strata)

I can say this about very few records that come down this path: this time, I was there. Duane Pitre was my downstairs neighbor in Greenpoint, in a building we have both since vacated. Origin was the work he was composing in our shared time as brownstone-dwellers, and I heard the finely-intoned drones of “Sun AM” and “Sun PM” shaking my floorboards just about every day for a nine-month period. Those were good times, despite the environment and our completely insane landlady. At first I tried to combat the drone with a force equal and opposite (Vol. 4, natch) but it didn’t take long to become thoroughly enamored of what Pitre was attempting with bowed, specially-tuned guitars – to draw them out along an extended timeline to the sweet beyond. Pitre is now back in Louisiana, I believe, and even if we didn’t have these special circumstances, I would still possess a reverence for this work, rooted in documented theory but borne in personal peace and satisfaction. If only these sounds could have pierced the thick domes of the drunks that gathered around our building, or the desperate souls who cut the electrical cords off of discarded appliances to sell for scrap metal, rendering them completely useless to fans of hand-me-downs. (http://rootstrata.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Polyps
The Gong is the Moon CS
(N-Tape Polyps Gong)

Lo-fi drone guitar folk, blown through broken speakers, on repeat. Great smashed-up electronics complement the reverb/treble-coated haze, the sounds of a children’s keyboard amateurishly looped with a fuzzy delay that just isn’t working too well. Featuring members of Idea Fire Company and released through some loose connection of the Raccoo-oo-oon folks, this tape is a real gem for those who appreciate the total homemade styling of sloppy edits and warbled sound effects that made labels like Siltbreeze and Xpressway interesting. (http://www.myspace.com/oulipolyps)
(Ryan Martin)

s/t 10” EP
(Doubtful Sounds)

Three more slices from the ever-expanding loaf that is Stefan Neville’s body of work. “Fool Fool Fool Moon” is the lengthy A-side, a trudge out of a single moaning chord into an overmodulated, rounded-off, expansive treatise on wordless love, worthy of the Xpressway stables were they not torn down 20 odd years ago. Of the two B-sides, “Head High Tackle” makes off with the nutzo award that seems to pop off on every one of this New Zealander’s efforts, a big junkyard slog of awkward, abutting tones which gives the impression of giant stone-based lifeforms moving in the early morning. Neville caps it off with a sweet acoustic strum-ballad called “The Screaming Heap” that simply soars off into that AM sky. Possibly the most canonical of the records Neville’s made thus far, in that it feels of a piece with the history written by the brothers Jefferies, Alastair Galbraith, Roy Montgomery, anyone in the Dead C., etc., instead of building off of their notions into something a bit more personal. You will hear no complaints from me about this activity, though; there are enough Pumice records that any change within them, even inwardly-facing ones, is worthwhile. 500 copies, two postcards and a beautiful, understated sleeve. (http://doubtfulsounds.info)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Rebel
The Incredible Hulk LP
Mouth-Watering Claustrophobic Changes! LP
(Junior Aspirin)

Jumping over a couple of proper LPs and an epic (and great) singles/unreleased/rare double LP finds Wallers suffering from some serious creative cabin fever in the latter half of the latter half of the past decade. It was during the former year that bins were just starting to fill with LPs sporting a particular design layout we now know as the calling card of Sacred Bones Records. One of these records bore the same moniker as the two that are now four miles away, sitting at the beginning of this review. Titled Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable, I had no idea what it was. My ignorance would continue for a few months, no doubt fueled by a strong and continuing distaste for another Sacred Bones concern, Blank Dogs. I felt threatened and alienated by the hype surrounding Mike Sniper’s recycling of a form that thousands of talentless twerps spent the previous 10 to 15 years beating into sub-mediocrity. Am I proud that a handful of solitary, windows-up drives were consumed by long (overlapping) monologues of ripping dissection aimed at Blank Dogs? Am I proud that I treated Blank Dogs like a sort of seventh sign; the confirmation that we were then irreversibly fucked by a controlling era of creative bankruptcy? No, these tantrums of bitter overreaction represent misspent negativity against a guy who, if his MRR interview is any indication (showing my naive side here), seemed like a good guy, if not a candidate for a shoot-the-shit kind of friend if personal history had undergone a slight shift in reality/geography. Point being that despite some snark-rockets fired in the direction of both Sniper, Sacred Bones, and the ponytail that runs said label, I never employed my heightened (of the past two years) sense of self-reflection to obtusely applaud the ear and inspiration shown by deciding to release Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable, a great record drowned out by the dismal shit-storm that was 2008/2009. So yeah, sorry about that.

Conversely, neither Mouth-watering Claustrophobic Changes! nor The Incredible Hulk hint at the genius Wallers is capable of. They sound exactly like the desire at their respective cores … a desire to fuck-off in the home studio. The self-deprecating liners, when they can be understood, tell of stupid amounts of time belaboring these insufferably long explorations into the very essence of filler. Amusing moments are sporadic, such as recording most of The Cure’s “A Forest” unadulterated until some forced skips and hand-powered backwards repeats as the five or six minute mark approaches. By and large, these two records put Wallers’ keyboard minimalism front and center, making them similar to many of the other 40 or so titles bearing The Rebel name. That last sentence was a guess. I’m too let down by Mouth-watering Claustrophobic Changes! and The Incredible Hulk, as Wallers knows and could do much better. One is definitely released in an edition of 500. As to which one that might be, well, that information is going to fall victim to my apathy of disappointment; blocking any further research or memory refreshment in favor of advancing onwards to something that might mandate a much more positive review. (http://www.junioraspirin.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Reds and Blue
Son of the State LP

Familiar-sounding spiel from a Chicago-area trio – light, jazzy, dub-inflected pop where keyboard and somewhat monotone female alto vocals (courtesy of bandleader Ellen Bunch, and backed by a pedigree of the type of older area musicians who play in four to five bands at any given time, none of which you could remember the sound of if they explained it to you from the other side of the coffeeshop counter and gave you flash cards to remember). Apart from the melodies taking on somewhat of an abstracted, play-as-you-go feel, and the rhythm section adding a bit of ruggedness to the proceedings, this is soft rock, ready for the boutique or dentist’s chair. Maddeningly average, and a solid indicator of why a lot of people burn out on avant-rock and post-anything music. (http://addendarecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Kevan Revis
Sollicitudo LP

Thick, obscured dark ambient from a guy who seems to be a newcomer to the field – this is his label’s first release. It’s a workaday mix of weighty tones, obscurant drift, and some channel-changing on the B-side, providing for a good deal of variance but little to grasp. He’s got good sounds and it’s possible that in future releases he’ll know better of what to do with them. 100 copies, paste-on sleeve. (http://www.boxer-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Collie Ryan
The Hour is Now LP
(Yoga/Sebastian Speaks)

Sincerest apologies to the label responsible for sending this in – shit fell between the desk and the wall, and I just found it today. Austere femme-folk from the ‘70s, reissued a while back, so this is probably gone. I was just watching “Young Frankenstein” and all I can think about now is how Collie Ryan sounds like Madeline Kahn. Not much of a review, but whatcha gonna do. “Everything below the vaist … is kaput!” (http://www.sebastianspeaks.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sewer Election
Bristning LP
(Release the Bats)

I think the key to understanding and enjoying the works of solo Swedish noise/tape loop/weirdness merchants like Dan Johansson, d/b/a Sewer Election, is that you have to understand why someone wouldn’t want to hear it, ever. The majority opinion tells you that five to seven minutes of having someone drop a metal washtub on your head, then hit it with a chain is only less tolerable than hearing your assailant burp over and over, or possibly take a piss on you while dry heaving. For some, this is a metaphor for life; for a subset of that small group, it is as such, literally. Someone I didn’t like very much, and who didn’t know me, or anyone (including himself) well enough to make such assessments, once told me that people who want to listen to something like this is only done to make you feel different and special from the rest of the world. I’d take that one better and say that if you are gonna sit down with any Sewer Election, you may not have a worldview at all, and life is one giant shit-stained mystery and other people are just fig newtons of your imagination, ready to be consumed and pooped out. Anyway, I hope this guy stops choking soon. (http://www.releasethebats.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Skind og Ben
s/t 12” EP

Dramatic, striking surfy death rock with some angrier elements. This duo of T. Alexandersen (I’m assuming this is “Skind”) and M. Bender (“Ben”?) work it out on guitar, bass, synth and drum machine, and sing in Danish. Skind’s got a soaring voice and there’s nothing wrong with the music, but there’s not too much right about it either, sounding a bit generic throughout. Nerf Herder’s theme to “Buffy” meets the Misfits, but probably more of the former than the latter. Eh. Doesn’t get much better than the finale, “Byen Brænder.” (http://mastermindrec.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sleep Good
Skyclimber LP

Gentle, strummy, jaunty, non-committal pop from some urban bohos from who knows where. They really ran with that Fleet Foxes influence, lemme tell ya … there’s a good bit of exuberance here, but it sounds forced and played out, the kind of people who reference John Cale by accident and make this swirly, juvenile saccharine pop shit really stick in the wrong places. Teeth-rottingly gross, but pretty well-played, mildly impressive because of their skills but rampantly intolerable because of the songs and direction taken. Makes me shudder with douchechills. No label name, address, or liner notes means that anyone could have made this, so if random beardos with ironic t-shirts start getting jumped, you’ll know why. (http://www.autobusrecs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Super Wild Horses
Fifteen LP

Tomahawk guitar and target-practice drums get banged out and slammed down by two Australian women known as Super Wild Horses, who ascribe to the informal simplicity theories of Eddy Current Suppression Ring (with whom they shared a label, and whose Mikey Young, a busy man also involved in the UV Race and Total Control, gets the producer credit here). Ideas here are clearly not their own – the sort of shambling, forceful punky pop that every time I hear coming from down under, I can’t help but think of Heath Ledger in “10 Things I Hate About You” talking about “Bikini Kill or Raincoats,” but which gets by here quite well in their force of statement and execution of just-catchy-enough songs (there’s a Swell Maps nod here on “Golden Town” and a Breeders bite on “Stranger By the Day,” nice nods from the Appropriation Generation). I hate to sound like a killjoy here, as there are a few great things happening in this band and I wish them the best. But Fifteen is the kind of record you’ll listen to non-stop, or just once, due to the artists’ inability to combine influences, in conflict with your ability to just ignore their flagrant nicking and enjoy it — that is, if a short 12-song record that distinctly reminds you of 12 different bands is even something that’ll interest you. If this duo hopes to win, they need a voice. These aren’t great odds staring them down. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Clive Tanaka y Su Orquesta
Jet Set Siempre 1 CS
(Tall Corn)

Completely professional job on the packaging, style and sound … yet absolutely no information as to what or who the hell this is all about has one confused as to if this is a well-funded joke or a serious attempt at Tanaka’s vehicle to dance stardom. Clear cut “Miami Vice” vibe going on with the first side aptly titled “For Dance” – amazing mixes of freakdown drum beats blasting with Daft Punk style vocoder going all over these vintage sounding inland bass mixes to bring out the Atari-era jungle dance orgy. After you’ve blown enough coke on the disco floor and found yourself alone with your very own Adrienne Barbeau look-a-like, flip it over to keep things real easy with “For Romance,” and its smooth, Caribbean mellow feel still maintains all the hooks and stops that made the beginning so amazing. I will be honest that I completely dismissed this release at first glance, but now have antotal obsession with following around this Tanaka character. By the sounds of it, he knows where the good times are to be had. Highly recommended and limited to 250 beautiful copies. (http://clivetanaka.jp/)
(Ryan Martin)

Jørgen Teller and the Empty Stares
Live Arrogant LP

Free rock-oriented guitar wandering with a rhythm section who showed up for jazz (Soren Gørm’s upright bass is a dead giveaway) but are made to play it straight. Kinda hard to tell where this one was going at first, but any doubts are dispelled in the first five minutes or so. There’s a good bit of interesting musicianship at play, and guitarist Teller and company certainly don’t shy from guttural heaviness where it is needed most. Primal, pounding drum tribe matches well with the enormity of acoustic/pickup string bass, and Teller’s wild, lacerating barbed-wire guitar halos evoke “Death Valley ‘69” with Caspar Brotzmann instead of Lydia Lunch. Four songs that lurch uneasily between jazzbo meditation with spindly noise guitar, and pounding crime beat noir-bop with expressive noise slash guitar (think the “sack of oranges” speech in “The Grifters” is apropos of the dread and premeditated violence at play in this sound). The deeper you go into this one, the more impressed you’ll be – this trio definitely has the chops that most workaday guitar destruction combos are unable to issue forth, and the formal background of non-rock music only makes the pummeling you’ll receive bruise you up even harder. Silkscreened sleeve with few credits. (http://mastermindrec.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Thisquietarmy & Scott Cortez
Meridians 12” EP

Not so much a split as two collaborations with each artist taking the lead, this 12” matches up Chicago drone gent Scott Cortez (Loveliescrushing) with Montreal’s Eric Quach, a/k/a Thisquietarmy. They might want to call it “thisglacialimport,” as what you’re getting here are two sides of evolving but ultimately cosmetic drone, with a lot of parts and shifting ideas but essentially the same sort of peaceful easy feelings you’d expect when you get to chill out in a fortress of solitude that belongs to you and you alone. It’s fine, but not monumental or groundbreaking in the slightest. Song titles are map references, which I now look up for your edification: Side A appears to be a parking lot near the corner of S. Homan and W. Madison in the Garfield Park area of Chicago. Side B points to somewhere mid-block on Rue Saint Helene between Rue Le Moyne and Rue des Recollects in Montreal. Please don’t rob these guys. Edition of 499 numbered copies. (http://www.three-four.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Threads of Grass
Sun Tunnels LP

Project work in folk and pop, courtesy of some wandering souls from Detroit and Portland, OR. Twelve songs written as a whole, with contributions from a dozen or more guests and friends. Gentle, lulling acoustic strumfest here, quaint and yet ambitious in its subtlety. It’s a record that warrants repeat listens with close attention, as there is a good deal of beauty and wonder laced in with a lot of tracks that sound alike from the distance with which most people will approach this music. There’s a lot to be said for a record that makes you work for it, to get into the artists’ specific headspace (many would say “fuck that” and move on), but I do believe there are winning moments here; in particular I was struck by the closing track “Horsehead” as a wonderfully patient and languorous meditation on late afternoon and amber waves of grain. Should be available for free download, and the record was pressed in an edition of 300 copies with paste-on letterpress cover art. It came out a good while ago, so sorry for sleeping on it. (http://www.thethreadsofgrass.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Midnight Cobras 7” EP
(Psychic Handshake)

Looks like the contemporary underground (for lack of a less shudder-worthy term), has finally pulled its head from its ass. This month’s run of review releases, while larger than normal, has nonetheless yielded a much better percentage of disparate bands/entities with one common factor: They are either on-the-level, or less frequently, next-level. Unless this is some cruelly elaborate carrot-waving prank, a cross-section of new records reveal that inspiration, balls, skills with a hook, forward-thinking, volume, force, subtlety, and not-giving-a-fuck are all back. Obviously, all these recently-scarce attributes rarely show up on the same record, and this one is no exception. But this band, one that has committed moniker suicide, transforms early Comets on Fire into what I always thought it should be anyway: Really, really loud pop. With a signature personality poking out through the blatant love of pre-Hot Tuna Ben Chasny, and a more understated resemblance to Wildildlife (an example of hemorrhaging inspiration and laminated Next-Level-Shit ID cards), Tonstartssbandht is the sort of band that reminds me why I’m in this mess. In closing, the world would be a much more accommodating place if SHITTY bands had names that rendered them impossible to recommend to other people. How in the hell am I supposed to word-of-mouth this ooga-boogaland nonsense? Black vinyl … pressing unknown, but probably not into the four digit realm. (http://www.myspace.com/psychichandshake)
(Andrew Earles)

The Vermin Poets
s/t 7” EP

Another Billy Childish joint. Song-structure suggests a post-Beatles template was decided during the inaugural band meeting. To these ears, there’s the bounce and melodic lines of freak-beat with the low-impact punch of pub-rock and production values short of professional but still way north of garden-variety garage-scuzz. A theme song? Sounds like a good idea. Also sounds like something a prog-rock band would do to lighten things up. The unit is a non-traditional four-piece in that the back cover credits two drummers (one’s a lady). Or they could be a three-piece that went through two drummers in the process of recording four songs. What’s certain is the neither good nor bad music on this record has nothing to do with the exhilarating pummel possible when double drummers are done correctly. The band is named after the literary movement born when Billy Childish and four other people decided to affect a fictional literary movement’s fake history for the purpose of writing, recording, and releasing a four-song 7”. (http://www.smartguyrecords.com)
(Andrew Earles)

Nate Wooley
Trumpet /Amplifier LP

Greg Kelley and Axel Dörner have already issued albums entitled Trumpet, with the unwritten subtext being “Just in case you couldn’t tell, this is made by…” Now Nate Wooley has taken up the gauntlet of unaccompanied brass, and not only just as radical and alien as anything any other trumpeter has issued in the past decade, it attains a plane of aggressive badassedness that Kelley needed both religion and electronics to achieve without sacrificing the measured intelligence that he wields in more restrained settings. “Trumpet A” is a barrage of pops, squelches, and squeals, and it’s the most recognizably trumpet-bound thing on the record. “Trumpet B” sounds like the work of some cantankerous electronic music academic from 50 years ago who has come back from the grave to school the Neon Marshmallow nation on the proper way to abuse patch chords. Wind tunnel roars, stripped cable shrieks, and far side of the factory floor resonations coalesce with a surety of sound placement that renders questions of improvisation vs. composition moot; it simply is. It’s totally acoustic, says Wooley’s blog, although there’s no word on whether he used overdubbing to achieve the weave of elements on “Trumpet B.” I really hope he did. The side-long “Amplifier” does bring the electricity, and satisfyingly lacerating tendrils of feedback tie the whole thing together. Despite the name, it’s more identifiably trumpet-derived than “Trumpet B,” at least so long as you consider magnified valve sounds as viable as a blown note. And as with “Trumpet B,” you’re only scratching the surface if you focus on the strangeness of the sounds. Wooley conveys a simulation of motion not found outside of sci-fi guesstimates of how time may be subverted in order to make space travel worthwhile. Phrases composed of amplified metal-on-metal accelerate, disappear into themselves, and pop up fresher than they started. This is relativity wrought as sound. Fold-over screen-printed sleeve, 496 numbered copies pressed on heavy black vinyl. (http://www.smeraldina-rima.com)
(Bill Meyer)

As/If/When LP
(Sub Rosa)

Vault diggin’ with one of percussion’s most inventive personalities, the legendary Z’ev. Two sidelong pieces, recorded in 1978 and 1982, respectively. “As” vacillates between moments of calm and frenzied, almost solid layers of clatter and loose head abuse, rolling out across the veldt as it kicks 100 homeless guys’ shopping carts full of cans and scrap metal off a freeway overpass into traffic. “If” continues that motif of momentum, 25 full minutes of torrential drumming downpour/junkman rattling that works these young SF bohos in the audience into a screaming mass of doomed energy. An important lesson for budding industrialists, and a challenging document of free music and ideas put into action. Clear vinyl. (http://www.subrosa.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
Hozac Hookub Klub Round One LP

Almost wanna make a workflow diagram to describe this compilation, but that may have to wait, as my copy of Visio is at the office. It would probably include such decision points as “GarageBand filters?” and “Cocaine?” and “Generation Borrowed From?” and “Striped t-shirt?” and “Cool?” This is that late ‘00s party that you probably weren’t invited to, but are really uptight about if you were, a group grope in the tub where the bathwater has become flammable and a hideous shade of gray. Constipated production values smash the life out of ten bands’ hopes and dreams in sacrifice to the greater good, though the temporary value of some of the 10 singles that surfaced from this subscription plan more than justified the cost. Look, I don’t wanna be the bad guy here, the “hater” if you will, but I can’t think of a microgenre that encouraged so much useless growth over such a short period of time, teenybopper pop garage set on fire with little regard to second takes or second guesses. Slavish and flat, it’s good enough if you want a survey of the names used today (Dum Dum Girls, Flight, White Mystery, Box Elders, etc.), but you’d be better off with solo records by any of these bands in light of these castoffs. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
Offstrings: Inventions for Guitar LP

Winning collection of new guitar music from the people behind evergreen Chicagoland art-prog rockers Cheer-Accident (can someone please point me in the direction of a copy of The Why Album?). Travis Bird & Daniel Burke (Illusion of Safety) offer up two pieces to start, both in a fluid, cavernous state of being – one player takes somber melody, while the other executes careful scrapes, amp pings and behind-the-nut meditation. Michael Vallera provides a dense, well-considered drone, likely the product of some just intonation exercises. David Daniell, last seen in collaboration with Tony Buck and Christian Fennesz, presents a solo piece entitled “Strobe,” the meaning of which doesn’t really become evident until the last half, when a melodic drone flickers rapidly throughout, giving levity to a heavy rumination. Finally, Mark Shippy presents a piece for acoustic guitar that tops all other offerings here in terms of both musical dexterity and scope. It’s a beautiful, difficult folk-like composition that ascends and descends the scale, slowly adding effects and reverb to the work until it becomes a spindly nightmare of the brighter facets in bleaker tones. Nice package, and even though only one of the pieces is a showstopper, there’s an audience for this. Blue, heavyweight vinyl. (http://www.complacencyrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
The Secret Museum of Mankind Vol. II: Ethnic Music Classics 1925-48 2xLP

A milestone of musical preservation from the ‘90s finds its way back to the world. Musical dexterity and near-possessed ululations, captured from shellac 78s made in countries around the world that wanted to capture their folk traditions before their makers stepped into the void and these sounds were lost forever. The historical angle worked pretty good on the first generation of people who got to rediscover this music through Yazoo’s and Pat Conte’s tireless efforts. The record isn’t compiled geographically by side, and the only things a lot of these tracks have in common is the reasons why they were recorded in the first place, as mentioned above. The overall effect of listening, in the wake of more closely curated collections, lends itself to its title, an intoxicating blend of ethnic expression from times and places gone by. Recommended now, as it has always been. That Indian track on side 1 gets me every time, pure madness in rapture. (http://www.yelp.com/biz/mississippi-records-portland)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
Stuffs LP
(Compost Modern Art Recordings)

I’ll take this over the Hozac dumpers any day; this sort of panic is much more my speed – a new import collection of a “state of scene” for bands with a little more ambition to go with their violence. Side A collects the mostly West Coast-based American contributions (When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Sneakers, Matt K. Shrugg, Ty Segall, Bipolar Bear, Agent Ribbons and Sic Alps), almost all of which turn in quality material. Since it’s a comp, you half-expect throwaways, and since it’s Sic Alps, you know they’re the ones who send in two minutes of electrified/contact mic’d dick-helmet touch, but the manic Sneakers and Matt K. Shrugg tracks make up for any shortcomings, and the rest fall in place. Side B focuses its attention on France, with contributions by the Dictaphone, De La Cave, Cheveu, Crash Normal, the Feeling of Love, Don Vito and Bungalow Ranchstyle. Only Don Vito and De La Cave scrape the bottom of Sic Alps’ shoes and consider it something. Everyone else here performs at a moderate-to-high level, and we’re presented with a reasonable survey of a specific and exciting time for lo-fi/DIY or die music. Glad this exists! Gatefold sleeve, 750 copies. (http://www.myspace.com/compostmodernart)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists
We No Fun: Atlanta and Athens 2009-2010 LP
(We No Fun)

Regional compilations should always be approached with caution. Scene solidarity is admirable on the surface, and reliably immune to criticism; scenes have pathetic politics that poison efforts designed for national/international consumption, namely the provincially-blind back-patting that confuses “local” with “good” more so than the who’s fucking who, who used to fuck who, or who fucked-over who B.S., qualities usually – and mercifully – invisible to the outsider. This comp draws from two naturally interlocked scenes, Atlanta and neighboring Athens GA, and miraculously belies any hint of regional baggage. Not only that, but We No Fun: Atlanta and Athens 2009-2010 rocks a hit ratio that is not only unheard of within the tiny-town constraints of the regional comp, but rare amongst this manner of release in general. This cross-section of dream-scuzz, harsh no-wave revisionism, electro-informed garage, and general junkie business showcases far too much genuine variety and bogeyman no-no styles to smack of a Groundhog Day II: Plural Nouns and Primary Colors agenda. The 2005-06 yearbook is erased by an audio-dismissal of anything resembling the momentarily sway-holding Black Lips, Carbonas, Gentleman Jesse, or even the oddly-related last-twenty-years-never-happened specialists Deerhunter.

The previous handful of sentences is leaving the familiar taste in my mouth … the taste of my foot … no doubt brought on by this comp’s complete lack of any contact, bio, visual, or otherwise useful information. I admire this decision on the part of the label. It forces the listener to consider the bands based on sound alone, though I didn’t have to strain my noodle too hard to envision both origins and current residencies in the outer rungs of hardcore, noise, and of course, whatever you feel like calling gothy post-post-post-punk these days. Regarding this latter showing (a little less than half of the entire comp) on We No Fun, readers will need to seek out someone else’s coverage of this LP, as I’m here to discuss the inspired, blood-boiling, or just irreversibly well-done inclusions.

The following two We No Fun participants go above and beyond expectations, not only in the context of a current compilation, but in the current and near-future scheme of things. Lay Down Mains inflict painful defeat upon any and all other bands on the comp. Their “553” gets the heart-pounding even during the worst of moods. Where are other songs? Is there a 7” or two or three … all orphans sitting neglected in the “local” box at Criminal Records? Don’t tell me these forward-rock geniuses have done a full length. I mean, DO tell me! Greater than 50% of the people reading this right now are of the label-running sort, right? Do I really have to write what’s coming next? I’m going to drop everything and do it myself if the words “Lay Down Mains” don’t pop up on an upcoming releases list by the close of 2010. Secondly, Chrissakes (see, now THAT’S a great band name!) do the unthinkable and drag mid-’90s hand-screened office supply-loving screamo kicking and [I’m not doing it] out of everyone’s (including myself) remembrance of it as something that could never be injected with enough topical invention and conviction to create something that avoids the little kid stigma and simply kicks serious tail. Once again, it would behoove label people, those with the needed set of grapes, to find out what this band might have waiting in the pipeline. 500 copies, silkscreened sleeves. (http://www.myspace.com/wenofuncomp)
(Andrew Earles)


Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. We will not review CD-R copies of a vinyl release – you need to send the vinyl itself, even if it includes a CD. We need the artifact here with original artwork, not some duplicate/digital copy. Only records released within the past six months will qualify for a review.

ANY genre of music is accepted for review. Do not be afraid.

Information on your pressing (quantity pressed, color vinyl, etc.) should be included if at all possible.

Submissions can be sent to:

Doug Mosurock
PO Box 3087
New York, NY 10185-3087

Records need to be shipped securely in sturdy mailing materials and marked FRAGILE because the post office will destroy them otherwise.

Keep sending in submissions, please!

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