Aug 25, 2011

the MIDWEST BEAT "Gone Not Lost" LP and "Back To Mono" 7inch EP

     What exactly is the beat of the Midwest?
     Is it the sound of flannel shirts sitting around a bonfire sipping on cans of beer that may not be exactly cold?
     Is it about trying to find the happy medium between being blasted with two to ten foot snowfalls in sub arctic temperature winters and scorching, humid, sweat drenched summers?
      Is it the sound of rust belt wonders revving up outside the corner store mixed in with sound of freighters chugging across the Great Lakes and their can be heard for miles horns?
     Is it the sound one hears while humming to their self at their favorite fishing hole or the songs going through their head being accompanied by the clang of factory noise of the third shift one has to do to make ends meat in these tough times?
     Is it the sound of sound of the country music that rural elders and first cousins listen too which is then filtered through growing up on parents and grandparents favorite songs on the oldies station and "weird" records friends and family acquired during their college years which they then brought home to have them neglected until one decided to look for some kind of new inspiration and give them a spin?
     Is it a sound that could be of naivety of what the world is trying to tell you what is cool and hip but a determination of what it's in the heart and mind musically is more important than some new flavor that'll be discarded in a year or so?
     Who knows for sure but the band the Midwest Beat sound as if they've got a bit of everything from the above rolled up into one nice package.
      Budget beer basement bash find it's way to a Wall Of Sound where harmonies soar like unwashed angels over a musical bed of what sounds like a perfect summer day. The album kicks off with the hyper jangle and squeaky wail of "Ain't It Strange" and then swerves around in plenty of different places. Stoned country rock lounging around listening to the Ohio Express looms large on tracks like "Too Late To Care" and "All Night Long", while others, such as "When She Came To Town" suggest the Walker Brothers raised on hot dogs and Hamm's beer taking a 3 day weekend trip to the Upper Peninsula. They also don't shy away from doing a campfire sing-a-long with the likes of Miss Besty from the Sugar Stems ("Crawling Back"), fiddling with a 50's rock ballad structure ("Firefly") and just wanting to make people dance ("Spent Love" and "Sister Mary Katherine").
     The "Back To Mono" single is exactly that. Tight and concise pieces of guitar pop bliss recorded (side one by Kyle of the Motorz, the flip taped by the band themselves) without any extra adornments or an overindulgence of flourishes. All four tracks on it are just as good as anything they've released in the past, but even if they weren't, the single would be worth the price of admission for their peaches and cream take on the Hussy's rough and tumble "Sexi Lady".
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Midwest-Beat/15907127759

Aug 24, 2011

DAY CREEPER "Problem At Hand" 7inch EP

     At first impression here, if Columbus, Ohio based Day Creeper wanted to, they could be sporting girls pants, Rod Stewart haircuts and killing it in front of power-pop festival audiences all over the world. Loud, catchy and kinda toe tapping kinda stuff is what the first think the ear tells the brain it's hearing.It's the following though where both the ear and brain notice something a little more than standard songs about cars and girls structures going on. It sounds like if the band would ever want to play for throngs of popsters, who are waiting for all the original members of the Spongetones or whoever to take the stage, it would be to confuse or frustrate them.
     The reason why is because instead of spending weeks practicing harmonies that would make the Beatles blush from such idolizing or taking a guitar solo the way Rick Neilsen does this is much more plug in, see what happens and go for broke here. What results is something much more rag-tag, comfortable and broken in on the four songs here than studied and starched.
     The sound is that of the Midwest where 70's punk rock buzzsaw downstrokes the same rust belt environs of 60's teenage jangle and where handclaps and snotty singing are commonplace. Think if during the recording of their album Hootenanny the Replacements spent time wanting to be a machine bent of perpetual motion instead of wanting to sounding like poetic wino's with their hearts wrapped in flannel or bands like the Yolks and Home Blitz laying sloppy kisses all over the Gizmos and you're in the same bar that has Black Label for a dollar a can that Day Creeper call a home away from home. 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Day-Creeper/119929404710560

Aug 8, 2011

CONSPIRACY OF OWLS s/t LP

     At a first and somewhat casual listen I was thinking about counting how many records over the past couple years have been declared Pet Sounds for the modern age. After running out of fingers but before taking off my shoes to keep the tabulation straight I put the album on again. It made me realize that if I was going to start the review off on some kind of "You're not Brian Wilson" rant I would be off base and would look the fool (not that it would be the first time that's happened...but still). All Beach Boys references that can be made about this album would be from some of the things they made after that always touted holy grail of pop music. Y'know, like 20/20 and Sunflower. Even some people that consider themselves "big Beach Boys fans" those are albums that don't really ever come up much in conversation. It was a period when Brian Wilson's influence and musical vision on the band had become diminished due to his brain teetering on the edge of a cliff which left the others scrambling to keep something somewhat cohesive in the sound they had established with their fans. The problem with that though was pop music at the time was growing by leaps and bounds. The band did their best to stay loyal to their original sound while also attempting to keep up to minute. That's not to say those records didn't have their good moments but there were also a lot of things that just fell flat or were trying to hard.
     Taking a wild stab in the dark it sounds as if members of Detroit's Conspiracy Of Owls (which includes cats who've done time in the Go, Rocket 455 and Human Eye just to rattle off a small bit of their lineage) must all own copies of both albums (and at least a couple of them having copies of Wild Honey and Friends in their record collection) and have had them on their turntables on a regular basis.
     Making these comparisons aren't just because the Conspiracy Of Owls, dressed in cut off shorts, tank tops or unbuttoned shirts, hair that looks it needs to be washed with beards to match look like that era of the Beach Boys either. Two songs out of more than a few on the record that particularly show more than a nod to that wilderness period of the Wilson family and friends here are"Tower Of Diamonds" and "The New Me". The former, a song about the days of yore, except in this case not being about malt shops it's about things like when K-Mart was the main discount retail chain and they had a Frozen Coke machine always close to the front door, Sir Graves Ghastly was still on Saturday afternoon TV and video arcade we're located inside bowling alleys and roller rinks, has a cheerful about being melancholy Carl Wilson vibe. The latter about reawakening but without all that creepy Mike Love transcendental meditation hooey and his later rubbing shoulders with the Reagan's and money grab tricks.
     To say that the brain into only clicks into just Beach Boys deep cut referencing while to Conspiracy Of Owls, though it does loom large over the entire album, would be short selling it. For example, the record's lead off track, "Puzzle People" would not sound out of place on  Hawkwind's Quark, Strangeness and Charm while other tracks such as "Raving Mad" nods to Syd Barrett, mid-70's AM radio and "The Lesson" is a fine Flaming Lips from Soft Bulletin that the Flaming Lips didn't write.
     Going in to this record expecting some crazy, wild and loud "Detroit Rock" record based on the members lineage could bum out to downright pissing off some listeners but for those looking for well crafted, harmony laden and clever psych-pop-this record is one that will make them smile.
https://www.facebook.com/conspiracyofowls

Aug 7, 2011

APACHE DROPOUT s/t LP

     Album of the year?
     Is it too early to declare such things?
     So far, it's been a pretty decent year for releases. A lot of things have found themselves on my turntable and in my portable Mp3 playing device when I'm in the car, riding the bike, mowing the lawn, going for a walk, hanging out the beach and so on. Then there are those that find themselves staying there for a much longer time.
     This Indiana trio, who took their name from the classic Edgar Broughton band song, and feature a former member of soul punks John Wilkes Booze (who's song "Whiskey and Pills" is still a standard I whip out on dj nights), have released a debut album that definitely falls into the later category.
     It's a sound of after being cooped up in a humid, claustrophobic cinder block box finally getting out and ready to do a swamp shimmy and hoot & holler. Why are their clothes all bloodstained in the morning though? The don't know and everyone that watch what went down would rather pretend they didn't see what happened.
     Part murder blues finds a back woods baptism, part post Oblivians/Gories slobbering over the bible that the Velvet Underground wrote bonk and all pressure cooker ready to burst tension.
     Sounding like the Good Earth era Feelies battling the Cheater Slicks in a loser the leave town match that ends in static-the album's opener, "I'm So Glad", throws the ears into a world of nervy, dripping in cold sweat sound that works for both shaking the hip or drowning sorrows in poison. Carnival organ accentuates a train chug on the, in a more perfect world, angst anthem "Teenager" and the super-agitated Cramps throwing the distortion into the deep red line of "Nothing In My Hand."
     Legendary records label proprietors and obscure record collector/even more obscure music historians get named checked too. The former with the acid boogie of "Sam Phillips Rising", the latter with a the caffeinated rooster rhythm of "God Bless You Johan Kugelberg".     
     I could go on about each and every track extolling it's execution and at moments sounding CCR covered in used motor oil while practicing fuzz-fest voodoo or some other attempt at rock-crit lit wit but I'd rather just listen to the record again and again as much as I have been these past few months.
Album of the year? So far I am thinking so.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apache-Dropout/124872621463