Dusted Reviews

Thrones - Day Late, Dollar Short

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Thrones

Album: Day Late, Dollar Short

Label: Southern Lord

Review date: Sep. 12, 2005

The jaded half of my psyche views one-man bands as exclusives on the Gong Show; however, I’ve recently come terms and realized they’re ultimately an attraction that has stood the fickle entertainment litmus test. Think of those who swallow swords, or wrecks automobiles in a competitive state. Artists like Phil Roebuck, Jeremy “Lonesome Organist” Jacobson, Bob Logg III, and Mark “BBQ” Sultan reign supreme in the underground circles for their abilities to create full sounds with four limbs, two lips and a set of lungs. And they all invariably share a silver lining of rural Americana in their music: blues, folk, carnival music, primitive rock and the like.

Joe Preston is a man who at this point could be considered an Arthur Zelig of sludge metal Americana. Preston started off in Earth, the nascent doom drone band that begat Sunn 0))) (another Preston associate). He also spent a short time in the Melvins (Preston’s 5BPM stint in Earth undeniably had an effect on the lone group recording that bore his name, Lysol), got together with Karp’s rhythm section for the criminally short-lived The Whip, and is now doing duty on the SS Pike with High On Fire. In between it all – when he wasn’t recording the likes of Witchypoo, Tracy & The Plastics, The Need, C-Average or Sue P. Fox – Preston worked out the kinks of his inner-demons with his one-man band Thrones.

Live, Thrones are a towering inferno of doom-metal, with Preston usually helming a double neck bass, a triggered drum machine and a shelf of pedals by which synths, vocal effects, and multi tracked guitar/bass line emit.

The first traces of Thrones can be heard in Preston’s “solo” album for the Melvins (their left-handed tribute to Kiss); barring any resemblance to KISS, the album was blast of industrial noise, screaming children, uncoiled guitar chords and detuned bass rumblings that guitarist Buzz Osbourne referred to as “a homework assignment.” But over the years, Thrones has evolved into a slow-moving ship of torrential low-end sludge. Examples of this lie in Sperm Whale which compiles two EP’s onto one CD.

The sardonically titled Day Late, Dollar Short is metal label Southern Lord’s attempt to fill in the gaps between Preston’s solo Melvins EP and Sperm Whale. Compiling singles, unreleased tracks, covers, and compilation appearances, Day Late… is hardly a new Thrones record, nor is it “a beginners guide to…”, but it will keep collectors from blowing massive amounts of cash on GEMM or eBay.

The opening track “The Suckling” is a great statement of intent – a sludgy stop-start of metal derived bass, shredded vocals and helicopter swirls of electronic drums. This aesthetic carries through tracks like “Senex,” “Reddleman,” “Simon Degree” and “Coal Sack”

However this is just one side of the Thrones sword; the other lies in tracks like “Silvery Colorado” “Algol” and “Piano Handjob” – lone transmissions of experimental abandon that teeter on a mournful void, closer to Ghost Carnivals and The Residents than Sabbath and Venom.

Then there are the covers; Preston offers five renditions on five very distinct bands. His take on Ultravoxx’s “Young Savage” is a fast and bouncy punk rumble with Built To Spill drummer Scott Plouf making the album’s lone guest appearance. Whereas his tribute to Rush’s <1>2112 with “Oracle” sounds like that of a lone man, lost in a world he could never find a home in than that of the cosmic arena swill it originally was.

It’s his rendition of The Who’s “A Quck One” that’s the most amusing though; originally intended for a four-way split 7” with each band taking on a different passage of the Townsend anthem, Preston drew the first straw. In return, he turned the intro and the first passage into an earnest tribute that has as much to do with Townsend’s operatic psychosis as it does Barbershop quartets and the house band at Chuck E. Cheese.

The two that come closest to the originals lie in Blue Oyster Cult’s “Black Blade” and the Residents “Easter Woman” which speaks so much of Preston’s musical id; if anything, this is what Preston has been trying to do for over 10 years now – find a delicate but deranged balance between something like BOC’s ham fisted epic jams of metallic, leather gloved bliss and the Residents’ warmhearted but oblique desire to create simple pop music. The result is something that belies conventional song craft, a sonic textural field where Preston somehow summons redwoods from scorched earth.

By Stephen Sowley

Read More

View all articles by Stephen Sowley

Find out more about Southern Lord

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.