Aug 30, 2007

WHITE SAVAGE "Destroy Your Style" 7inch EP

With Jered of the Ponys, Jimmy of the Baseball Furies/the Tyrades and guys from Chin Up Chin Up and SYZ in the band White Savage were already off to a start of something that would prove interesting even before they played a song together. I don't know if this is what people expected though. Obstinate hollering and vestigial pounding at times sounding like a really drunk Gang Of Four (the Entertainment! album more than "I Love A Man In A Uniform") or the Pop Group if they aspired to be a rock-n-roll band every once in awhile than trying to see how far they could avant out the "funk". "Destroy Your Style" is a war chant (or at the least) an anthem for the fed up. The quick curt guitar noise cuts your skin abd the rhythm beats the blood out. They cover Teenage Jesus and the Jerks "Orphans" on the b-side. It's a tall feat to attempt the genuine creepy sickness of the original but there's surely a genuine approach to diseasedness here and everything sounds like it was turned up just a bit louder.

Aug 28, 2007

JEANIE & the TITS "Slut Fame" 7inch EP

The thing with "Bad Girl" punk is that it either totally charms me or it makes me gag. The "thing" that is the "thing" on both sides of the coin ends being the same "thing" and that "thing" is the Runaways. Maybe it's one of those lazy rock journalism thing that I've been exposed to through the years where that's the first thing that clicks in. I believe I recall reading reviews of the first Go-Go's albums waaaay back in junior high where the Runaways were mentioned. As a matter of fact I think that might've the first place I saw their name. I do remember when I picked up my first Runaways records (A promo single of "Cherry Bomb") I thought "this sounds nothing like the Go-Gos". It didn't stop me from buying Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" album a month or so later though.
I think my "thing" with the Runaways "thing" is that maybe if a "bad girl" band uses them as a template it's how they use it. Do they go for what the Runaways were striving for but didn't quite have the ability for so the bands try to right those wrongs and end up sounding like some Sunset Strip band circa '86 thick frosting and all? Or do they take the spirit of it's simple thud and pit their own primitive urges and lipstick smears all over it? I'm putting Jeanie & the Tits in the latter. Trashy and catchy punk rock with not a big rock solo anywhere in sight but everything catchy/sleazy/flirty wrapped up in an arrest warrant enough to make you by drinks for the ladies all night even though they're gonna do is make fun of you then and take off with some other dude.

Aug 27, 2007

HARLAN T. BOBO "I'm Your Man" CD

A couple of years back I had a couple of friends going through the end of some long term relationships. I did my best to lend a sympathetic ear but I'm not that good at advice so eventually I'd say something like it's okay to wallow in woe and natural to be sad then bitter then maybe (more than) a bit reckless as long as you come out the other side. Balls are always gonna get pitched at mood swings and it's important not to let them strike you out. Putting everything into it and purge those bad feeling demons. A lot of squares at that moment would then suggest some book to read. Me, well I would then turn them on to Harlan T Bobo's first album "Too Much Love." It told a story better than a lot of books I've read. A story of a guy break up and he ain't taking it too easy. Letting him eat it his insides up, missing his kids, self medicating the mood swings, hoping for forgiveness even though maybe one last night together might be okay and mean just as much. Delivered in a Leonard Cohen type of suaveness meets Lou Reed's darkness in both it's musical execution and Harlan's baritone whisper (though Harlan can belt it out loud when he needs to) it was one of the best "dark" novels I've ever listened to.
Leading off his new album with it's title track it seems as if Harlan days are a bit brighter. Much more self assured. He sounds almost downright happy as he promises to his new love that he'll make her children feel at home, treat them as his own and even though he misses hanging out with his friends and hates her coffee but like the way he feels when he's with her over a simple acoustic guitar and sparse harmonies backing. He proves it when he mentions that he'll sing it up high so it touches bird's wings and then does it (well, as high as his smokey barroom voice will allow him at least). Maybe "downright happy" is a bit too much to assume but he at least seems decidedly content at the moment...following it is "God's Lamb" though, where's past demon's stop buy to visit and throw broken glass all over a his sheet of comfort. A rollercoaster of nerves that build up to a high point then drop into an abyss. Jerking to the left, tipping to the right and moments of feeling safety is back on to be dumped back into desperation til it grinds to a halt. The not so safe landing finds someone in the hospital "Baptist Memorial." What happened? Is our narrator having an out of body experience and watching his life pass before his eyes? Is he the one responsible for putting others there? An accident? A heart attack? An overdose? Observations of tubes up noses and in hearts and there's only so much poison one can take (Depression meds? Alcohol?). With a Berlin era Bowie diggin' southern church sounds musical bed and a very despondent cello-the song stands out not only for being a departure from other works the general has heard from Harlan so far but also for the questions like the ones I was asking.

"My first love is the one I think most about" he explains in his smoke and honey voice over a 50's-ish ballad part to start off "My Life" blaming youth on relationships gone wrong all those years ago and is still doing to this day while wishing he had a family and a home even if it isn't the one of his dreams but...IT HIS LIFE so cue the band and have them play something upbeat. Upbeat like a Buddy Holly song being shot through a cannon of dysfunctional advice from your father, a bit of distortion, way more bite in the guitar sound, Memphis horn stabs and possibly a subliminal nod to the Patti Smith Group's arrangement of "Gloria". "I could scream at the walls and lose my hair over problems the could easily be cured by prescriptions drugs." Is there is a bit or sarcasm in that line? I've had my shares with bouts of things where that is what the doctor ordered. No, ya don't feel so "bad" anymore but just as many times you don't "feel" anything. Emotions can be a bitch but it better than feeling nothing at all.
"Tick Tock" starts out appropriately in a watching the hands on a clock tempo. Almost like a nursery rhyme or a lullaby which then leads into a grand country waltz with lots of piano and cello. It's one of those kind of songs that you'd sing to your young child while they stand on the tops of your feet to dance with you. Shake every hour and part. It's followed by "Pragmatic Woman", a country-ish feeling but much more stripped down tune about a lady who has a lot on her hands when it comes to keeping a relationship together. Think a much more somber and dysfunctional update of Waylon's 'Good Hearted Woman."
Now that I've mentioned Waylon "So Bad" seems to have a musical nod the sound him and some of the other original outlaw country guys were making in the 70's. Lyrically though it's more complex though wondering where the next step to go in a love affair and the one of the most clever ways of telling the female in your life that her friends are sluts. "Last Time" mentions that "he's not the brightest boy in the land but we love him still" with a barrelhouse piano and the bluesier end of the late period Beatles. He's "alive living in dreams" and keeps pushing on.
"Sick Of It" is the noisiest song on the album with a stumbly off time tempo, dirty guitar and distorted vocals. It's followed by "One Of These Days" seems like the sequel to "Pragmatic Woman". Same type of sparse arraignment but she just couldn't take it anymore and the man is trying to convince himself it was all her fault and she's gonna regret it. The thing is that the vocals sound so heartbroken and the strings behind it cry where it's he's the one that is full of regret.
The album ends with "Pretty Foolish Things" a Nick Drake like piece who's first line is about not being trusted with cash and the last about not being able to be trusted with love with different kinds of that that some people can't manage wisely in between.
"I'm Your Man" didn't grab my attention as instantly "Too Much Love" did. Part of that was because it "Too Much Love" sounded much more immediate both lyrically and musically. The right time/right place kinda thing. The more I let this one sink and soak into my brain though the more I get out of it. I've been listening to it on at least a 2x's daily basis for the past few weeks and the story here is a bit more varied, both shrouded in ambiguities and glaring in insecurities. I am probably way off base on what I have interpreted from the songs here but that's why I keep coming back. Lots of artist have a problem making some as good or as interesting as their first work but Harlan does it almost flawlessly.

Aug 24, 2007

BLANK DOGS "Yellow Mice Sleep" 7inch EP

I have a friend of mine who get's kinda irritated whenever I describe a band sound as something like "Mars Rock".
"Dude! Have you ever been there? How
do you know what the music would sound like? It might be like something we can't even understand. All we've ever heard is music that want us to THINK it's from outerspace." I've known the guy for quite along time now so we've been though this discussion more than a few times. The guy prefers to hear genre's that refer to the known rather than the unknown. It has been decided on that Chrome were "Inner Earth Rock", Kraftwerk were "German Scientist Rock", Flying Saucer Attack were "Acid Rain Rock" and Human Eye are "Dying Factory Town Soundtrack Rock". He digs all those bands but just gets a little bent on my blanket statement I guess. I'd also like to mention that he's the only I know in town who owns a copy of Meco's "Star Wars" on LP and throws it on at a parties with no intention of irony though. I asked him one night how would he describe the album. "Intergalactic Funk." Well, of course I shoud've know that cuz it is the record's subtitle? For some reason I guess that is different than mentioning a specific planet.
Now I'm sitting here and wondering the next time he stops by and is thumbing through my records and quizzing me about what they sound like and which one's do I think he'll like and he pulls out a Blank Dogs 45 (and I know he will). Wanting to go awhile again before I have to hear the contention again.
"Robot Punk"
"Crosswired Android Pop"
Hell, I don't know. It'll probably take me awhile to figure it out. "Yellow Mice Sleep" sounds like it's surging a power strip and the electricity is loving every minute of it. It's an overloaded murk that twinkles and shimmers. It reminds me of a time and era but as far as finding the why's and when's of what it is leave me a feeling a little open ended but the song the metallic (as in steel not the genre) guitar line is stuck in my head for more than a couple of days now.
"Housefly" is like being stuck inside of a Haunted House that may not have a lot of coin for high-tech shocks and gore but a demented enough mind to make up for it tenfold. "Smashed By People" is like Devo locked inside a humid closet while the guy standing outside holding on to the key is humming the melody of some Cheap Trick song I can't recall at the moment.

Aug 23, 2007

Pyramid Apricot Weizen and Hefeweizen

The better half has a sewing circle with a few friends. One of the things they always have is a bottle of wine or a small sampling of beers. I get a call from work to "pick something up different for the girls and me" on my way home. Pyramid is new to the beer stores of this town and I noticed they were a buck or so cheaper than most of the other craft brewery six packs on the shelf.
"Hmmm. Apricot? Ladies like those fruity tasting brews..." I did take moment to mull over it though cuz even they were grossed out by the Leinenkugel Summer Wheat from earlier in the summer (Yes. The memory of it's badness has made a permanent mark on my psyche). They guy at the counter gave me a convincing enough spiel though to make a sale and I was on my way.
When Pyramid says this is an Apricot brew they ain't kidding. It's a cloudy orange in color so it looks a bit like apricot juice. The smell is pretty much apricot all the way and, other than a slight hint of wheat, apricot is pretty much all you can taste. The aftertaste is, you guessed it, apricot. I mean, you hardly taste anything BEER in it but a whole lotta apricot. A lightly carbonated apricot malt beverage maybe...but not a straight up beer. The thing is though is that the apricot tastes artificial. Like it's an extract or a Jello flavoring. Whatever it is-it gets kind of annoying half way through. Not enough not to finish the bottle or anything but enough as where I don't care for a second bottle in a sitting. The ladies seemed to dig it though.
Not being one to judge an entire family based off one goofy sibling I decided to give Pyramid another shot and their Hefeweizen seemed just as good of choice as any. Well, colour me unimpressed. I'm not the biggest expert of Hefeweizen but I've tried enough of them now to know, at least in my own tastes, what is good about them. This, other than it's golden color, lack those qualities. No distinctive smell other than a sourness I can't quite pin. TOO MUCH of a lemon flavor. Watery and a funky bitterness. Doesn't remind me of anything good about a Hefeweizen. There just isn't any characteristics that make this stand out at all. Nothing horrible but not very exciting either. Bland.
The store that stocks it also has the company's Pale Ale in. I imagine that I'll give it a try down the road for the sake of trying it but after these two I'm not in any hurry.

Aug 20, 2007

$2.00 OUT THE DOOR "Champagne Of Fears" 12inch

I bought Suicide's first album when I was in 9th grade. Being that the town I grew up in is always way behind the times the record has been out for over half a decade but I was going through some kinda rockabilly phase at the time and remember seeing the word with "esque" tagged at the end of it used in a magazine (probably Trouser Press but it might have been Creem) to describe Alan Vega's voice. I believe it was same article where they were credited as forerunners to the synth-pop movement that was going on. I was also into Fad Gadget and Human League ("Travelogue" mind you-"Dare" wouldn't come out til later a year later I believe) then so between the two I figured that it would be right up my alley. Of course when I went to the record store the (which I didn't realize at the time but quickly learned) sarcastic music geek clerk told me when I asked if what I read was close to what they sounded like and he said "Oh, Exactly". I made the purchase, hopped the bus and anticipated what I'd be hearing when I got home in about half an hour.
"Ghostrider" starts with it's ominous gurgles and buzzing sounds. Completely bewildered by what was going on. Then the vocals start. "Is this guy normal" I wonder with his yelps all echoed out. It really freaked me out. With the quickly developing technology at the time it was completely primeval to most people and especially a 14 year old. It was (and still is) cold, seedy and uncomfortable. That Monday at school I was talking to some classmates who were into more "extreme" stuff than I was (keep in mind that Port Huron once held the distinction of selling the most Throbbing Gristle related product in any region of the United States) about how it had creeped me out.
"Rock and Roll is over! Guitars are dead." is what they told me than made snide comments about how I wasn't "underground enough to get it."
"Yeah. Well fuck you. Like anyone in this backwater is truly underground. It just freaked me out."
$2.00 Out The Door kinda remind me of Suicide. No six strings but no old electronics either. Drums cracking loud, a bass with all the gain turn wide open and a yelping & welping voice bathed in echo. It ain't no New York city sleaze either but one that is plunked right down in one of the most degenerate parts of San Francisco. Ragged gutter spirits rise at night just to crawl through the mud and blood in search of kicks that might end up killing them again. Suicide always seemed like a soundtrack tape for such a thing. $2.00 Out the Door the type of thing that belongs on the other side of that cassette.

Aug 17, 2007

SYZ "Complicated" 7inch EP

Originally naming themselves after a brand of candy coated popcorn til some suits put the kibosh on that might have been a blessing in disquise for this. A name like Screaming Yellow Zonkers makes me think of one of those "tribute to the 80's" type bands that play gigs like 20 year high school reunions, corporate parties and that retard market down on mainstreet that claims to be a "New York City styled night club in our very own town". SYZ seems a bit more fitting. It makes one ask "What does does it mean? What does it stand for?" Besides the letters look cool together. Like it's a stock market listing or an abbreviation for a disease that is going around eastern Europe.
With members of the Krunchies, Vee Dee and the Worst in their ranks this Chicago band is a bit of an angular drone in a rock throwing contest of detuned swampness. Like if the guys from Vertigo were trying to learn a couple of Scientists songs but the turntable runs a little slow so they take turns of trying to speed it up a little bit by putting their finger on the label near the spindle a winding it around and around. It causes the record to make a weird pitch wobbly "wow" effect in the sound so they go for playing it that way.

Aug 13, 2007

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

A nice dark golden color and a scent like walking through the wood in a perfect summer day when the wildflowers are in complete bloom and the leaves of hundred year old trees shade the trail...Well, maybe that's a bit over the top but the brewery itself is fond of pushing itself that way sometimes and it is fun to play along and the claims I just made are kinda/sorta spot on what I was thinking before I turned the volume up on them there.
The most important part of this "continually hopped India Pale Ale" made by the people who proudly claim that they make "off centered ales for off centered people" is how it tastes. I dunno what kind of weird experiments the Dogfish Head brewmasters out in Delaware are doing to their hops but I hope they keep doing it. GRAPEFRUIT!!! That's what I'm tasting? It's all about the hops here and they have have this total sour-n-sweet smack and a sharp and spicy yet somewhat clean finish. Tart yet sweet...Bitter yet sparkling. If you're one of those people who likes the balance and complexities between the hops and malt this may not be your thing but if you're not afraid of hoppy zing (This IS NOT a brew for the hop shy) as I am but sometimes feel that a twist and turn needs to be thrown into the works every now and then this IPA (which actually reminds of a different slant taken on an American Pale Ale more than an IPA really) 6%er totally hits the spot.

Aug 12, 2007

LOS GATOS SALVAJES "Complete Recordings" CD

Though mostly recognized primarily as a North American and UK thing the 60's beat boom reached many parts of the world. In Argentina, the bug bit Los Gato Salvajes and in 1965 they released their debut album which historically as well as musically put them ahead of the game than their contemporaries in their home country. Singing in mostly in their native Spanish but taking musical cues from the Beatles (they cover "Ticket To Ride" here titled "Boleto Para Pasear" and "She Loves You") with the harmonies and jangly guitars, tinges of Dave Clark 5 with the kinda cheesy keys here and there (as well as their takes on "Glad All Over" and "Catch Us If You Can") and, to a lesser extent, the Rolling Stones (they do "Congratulaciones" aka "Congratulations" as well as Chuck Berry, Dale Hawkins, Drifters and Willie Dixon tunes Keith and the boys did which is where I'm guessing is where the band heard them from 'cuz there not many hints of "the blues" in these recordings elsewise) at the poppiest they could be at that time it easily understood why the songs they penned too were such a sensation in their country at the time. This is NOT some type of crazy BFTG stomp, scream or damage (which means it's a bit more clean and refined then what I usually lean to) but for those with an interest of what was going on in the 60's teen beat seen outside of England and the US this might very well be worth your hard earned dollar. If I was from Argentina I would think this would be a much cooler representation of what the country has done rather than Madonna starring in "Evita".

Aug 11, 2007

the AUTOMATIC ERASERS "Make It Right" 7inch

Hailing out of the Tempe, Az area the Automatic Erasers play "punk-n-roll" (Heh, how's that for feeling nostalgic for over a decade ago...Pulling out stupid pigeonholes that made me roll my eyes after seeing it used more than ten times in a zine or two. I vowed not to ever use it. Looks like I've broken that vow now) or also known as, like some of the modern age zinesters say, "Bar punk." Meat, potatoes and a couple cans of Busch to wash it down type of stuff. "Make It Right" reminds me a bit of the locally lamented Smackmadam. I know that ain't gonna help anyone who doesn't live around here but they were into the Lazy Cowgirls and Motorhead quite a bit and I don't doubt these guys are too. "On The Road" trades up the Lemmy with a head cold vox for a more straight forward shout and a slight bit more reckless instrumentation (a couple 40's of some kinda 'High Gravity' malt will do that to most). If the "Mighty Madam" were still around and these guys came through Port Huron the floor of the Roche would be covered in more than it's usual amount of split beer, half burned dollar bills (What the hell is up with that? Somebody sets fire to dollar bill then tosses it on the stage and waits for someone from the band to step on it to put it out? The only place I've ever seen it done is in this town...The first time at a Smackmadam show as a matter of fact...and I asked what it is suppose to signify. I've never gotten an answer. Is it something like shouting "Hey Everybody, Get Laid, Get Fucked" when a band plays 'Mony Mony' or something? Does anyone out there know?) and cigarette butts.

Aug 9, 2007

the ELECTRICUTIONS "Sedition, Subversion and Espionage" 7inch EP

Odie of the Baseball Furies brother is in this band. As where the Baseball Furies hit left the land of 30 foot snowdrifts off to the Windy City the Electrocutions guys found a piece of turf in Washington DC. Both bands play a brand of punk rock that each place was in dire need of. Chicago had it's share of good people into good music but the portion of cool bands per capita could be counted on less than one hand (keep in my this is just my opinion. Some contacts there would and perhaps will dispute it). DC, except for a rare exception, seems to be still suffering from some kinda Fugazi and David Grohl hangover that they just couldn't shake. Other than a more than a nod and a shake for the 60's teenage blast and howl the similarities get blurred and like all siblings they find a different path to cut though equipped with pretty much the same tools.
The Electricutions are more about a slow burn and thoughts to ponder than the flame throwing and watch it all explode approach of the Furies. A sound grafted off the Stiff Little Fingers then allowed to root in water rained down from the likes of the Standells while words of sociological importance provided some sunlight it would be easy for these guys to take the asshole know it all and I'm gonna bore ya with my dogma soapbox hogger platform but they do it in a regular guy from down the the block kinda way and pack enough swing into it to not make it sound like some stupid lecture.

Aug 6, 2007

WATCH IT BURN "How America Motherfucking Works" 12inch EP

This isn't that band that sounds like Jawbreaker by the same name. That's a good thing too because I always thought Jawbreaker sucked and any band that wanted to sound like them sucked harder (which is some pretty hard sucking considering how hard Jawbreaker sucked in the first place). This is archival recordings from the early 00's of total hicks from the Wisconsin sticks making some sick and evil dirge sludge courtesy of the label that brought us Razor Fist! This shit is so thick that even the record it's self is heavy that the cover is two pieces of floor tile. Seriously, it makes it weigh as much any 5 other albums combined and it's got so much sludge that there aren't even breaks in the grooves from track to track. It's oozes and spews into the next. Black Sabbath and Black Flag put cough syrup in their bong then drink it while they listen to Napalm Death and their fresh out of prison biker neighbor rev's up his Harley at 3 in the morning. Fucking sick shit!!!

Aug 4, 2007

the GUT REACTIONS "So Sick Of You" 7inch EP

Smash! Bang! Crash 'Em Up!!! Whenever I go to a demolition derby (and I do go to at least a few every summer...What do you expect? I live in the county seat of a total Hicktown. You can't throw a carp 'round here in the summertime without hitting one and besides I have two sons...all red blooded American boys are into stuff like that) they're always playing some cheesy Nu-Country over the sound system between the heat. Yeah, yeah-I get it. It's all about dirt & dust & some kinda Junior Johnson spirit and isn't that what country music is all about? But c'mon...Kenny Chesney? Why not just play some fucking Liberace instead? After all, there are some similarities between the two that are uncanny and none of them have to do with dirt or dust or Junior Johnson. What they should be playing in stuff that is noisy and brash and sounding like it's overheating and might just blow sky high if it keeps taking that beating and overheating. Y'know....stuff like the Gut Reactions! Guitars buzzing like a fly in your ear if the fly had a thing for the Cramps and the Scientists, vocals cracked from cheering, screaming and drinking Night Train (or whatever cheap wine they drink in Madison, Wi.) all day and a rhythm section that the fly befriended while hanging around the garbage cans behind the restaurant with the most health department violations in town. The demo derby season is coming to and end for another season 'round these parts though so I can't propose the idea and make it happen this summer but there's always next. I have every intention on making this record blasting out over all those loud speakers then.