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V/A - A Benefit For Our Friends

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Artist: V/A

Album: A Benefit For Our Friends

Label: self-released

Review date: Jan. 19, 2006

I canít speak for those at your less reputable music-oriented webmags, but here at Dusted, we do it for the love. That, and the pride. We donít make any money. We get paid in smiles, and the occasional satisfaction of shitting on some overblown trend thatís stealing light from the honest stuff. Weíre fans. And speaking for myself, I sometimes lose my objectivity. Unless youíre a computer, objectivity is a dodgy undertaking to begin with, more a bogus journey than a destination. Nevertheless, Iíd like to maintain enough clinical detachment to regard music from fresh angles, maybe educate myself, at least. But I canít always do it. Sometimes Iím lazy, and Iíd rather heap superlative adjectives on the stuff I dig. And sometimes, thereís a conflict of interest. Iíve met the band, I like them, and I want people to buy their new record, even if their last record was better. Or I want people to buy the record and, in so doing, transfer funds to people who need them.

A Benefit For Our Friends perfectly exemplifies the latter case.

DMBQ was a big, raw, rugged, romantic rock band from Japan. In late 2005, they toured the US. I didnít get to see them. On November 4, the bandís van flipped. Its tour manager, Michelle Cable, was severely injured, and its drummer, Yuka ďChinaĒ Yoshimura (also of Shonen Knife), died.

Thatís a fucking nightmare. Every touring bandís worst. In an effort to at least bail them out financially, a lot of fans and contemporaries pooled their resources. Thus, this CD-R compilation, assembled by some Bay Area cats. (Dustedís Mason Jones was a key player.) They got unreleased cuts from Comets On Fire, Trans Am, the Fucking Champs, Lightning Bolt, the Flying Luttenbachers, Burmese, No Doctors, and a lot of relative strangers. All proceeds funnel directly to the DMBQ relief fund. Just for that, you should buy it, I think. Just for that, Iíd be inclined to praise it to the smoggy skies, even if it wasnít that tight. But Iíve got a job to do, and Iím going to do it.

Is this thing good? In its own right? Fuck yes, it is.

Although there are diversions (No Doctorsí campfire singalong ďMellow Soldiers,Ē Romanteekís blue-eyed-bluesy ďNumbĒ), A Benefit For Our Friends is mostly noise rock, sludge metal, and stuff related. Most tracks sound slapped together, almost improvised, assembled from scratch on short notice, maybe salvaged from the trash. Under such conditions, music of this ilk sounds fantastic, much closer to its core spirit than under the sort of glossy production it likely gets in í06, with Wolf Eyes on so many fratboy iPods. Lightning Bolt, in particular, sounds reborn. And for bringing some goofy swagger back onto the noise field (which doesnít look any less exciting in the brilliant Hanson Records catalog, but, in practice, gets safer and safer all the time), Iím putting Child Abuse on my short list.

When I reviewed DMBQís Essential Sound From The Far East for Dusted, I said it sounded better with one channel shot away. Now, it sounds different, but it still sounds better with one channel shot away. Comets On Fireís ďWolf Eyes (Middle Version),Ē an exemplary Benefit For Our Friends cut, is like that, too. The money is nice. But above all, this benefit is to be commended for honoring the DMBQ spirit. Perhaps thatís something that can be done best when done on the fly. Fuck it. This thing owns.

By Emerson Dameron

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