Oct 25, 2011

JACK OBLIVIAN "Rat City" LP

     Each time Jackie O'Yarber releases a record it's like hanging out in a used record store that doubles as a greasy spoon eatery. So not only selling music they serve up cooked in beef tallow french fries, the juiciest burgers for miles around and when you ask for a Coca-Cola they don't tell you "We carry Pepsi products". Instead inform that you've got the choice of RC Cola or a Boilermaker.
     Unlike a lot of record stores too that have their selection somewhat divided up into genres-Jack's used record emporium and grill sometimes don't even bother having them filed in alphabetical order. Forgotten Memphis soul sides of the 60's find themselves leaning next international cheeky pop hits of the 70's, million sellers classic rock standards sandwiched between basement rock and garage punk bands that pressed 300 copies of their only record before fading into obscurity and all but forgotten save for a few collectors of such things and pure country & western slabs find themselves neighboring with synth laden/funny hair driven new wave 12 inches.
     This has resulted in Memphis Jack Oblivian living by the adage of what Pablo Picasso (or was it someone like David Lee Roth) said that "Good artists borrow, great artists steal" and his latest album, Rat City, is no different. Jack processes all of the sounds that has passed through his brain through the years, be it a lick here, a lyric there, and assimilates them into his own brand of musical barbecue sauce. Listening to it can raise some interesting and mostly likely ridiculous conversation amongst collectors of arcane and fans of music that's not so popular with regular everyday people these days.
     For instance would the ghosts of Lightnin' Hopkins and Hound Dog Taylor give Jack the keys to a phantom Cadillac for keeping their boogie alive on the record's full of fuzz title track and the cracked ribs barroom dance beat bottom'd "Old Folks Boogie" or would the pissed and pull out a gun for him not giving them co-writing credit as well doing adding a bit of punk rock mess to the proceedings? A similar question could be raised with the Stax foundation that it sounds "Caboose Jump", a tune about it beinga long time but, baby, she's still looking fine, that would instantly fill dance floors in a more perfect world, is built upon.
    Is the opening line "Yeah, What are you gonna now' of the Jonathan Richman if he wasn't afraid to fight country rock charmer "Girl With The Bruises" inspired after hearing Clash's "Clampdown"? And what happens if you take another country rock charmer, grafted it with some of the vibes that Stiv Bators Disconnected was going for could you get much better results than "Dark Eyes"? I'm thinking mostly likely not. Consult your own Magic 8-Ball if you feel the need though.
     Does Jack hide his copy of the Talking Heads Remain In Light album when company is over because he doesn't want to get cracked on for liking that goofy new york art disco but now is letting the secret out for the goofy new york art disco gets soaked overnight in butter and black pepper with "Crime of Love".
     If Tom Petty heard "Girl On The Beach" and "Jealous Heart" (which opening line has gotta be a subtle nod to Alex Chilton with it's "I'm free to do what I want" and where the songs protagonist goes from working in a gas station in the bad part of town to getting a gig as a late night radio disk jockey. Talk about total American rock! You can't get it much more than that) would he think "I remember when I wrote songs like this. And people still like him" then call Jeff Lynne to curse him for all those plastic coated production jobs he's been doing forever?
    Is it a good thing that Jack doesn't have some disgruntled ex-manager that would try to take him to court over the reasoning that "Mass Confusion" sounds like the dirty funky blues that he's been doing since the Oblivians (but with an, ahem, "more studio rock session guys" rhythm section.)
     With all that said not only are Jack's records a fun time listen but can be a fun game of playing Spot The Difference. Party record of the year!
http://biglegalmessrecords.com

Oct 13, 2011

Spend a Sunday evening at SEX CHURCH

     With a band name like Sex Church some people might be expecting some blatant nudie girl worship thing going on. You know, something silly with a logo that has a wanna porn chick dressed up as a hot zombie nun straddling a cross and a sound band members themselves would consider "Industrial Dance Metal with a White Trash-A-Billy twist" and would tell you so with a straight face.
     Instead of sounding like they have daily dalliances with undead disco dollies though the music of Sex Church is wrought with desperation, depression and daydreams of a handful of downers. The guitars sometimes blare with a wet BLLAAANNGGG of the Cramps living in the dingiest of of windowless basements, at others work up a choir of drone up to the dark skies like Spacemen 3 on a thunderstorming weekend and occasionally howl a Stooges grind. Above it a voice, disconnected and discontented, brays soliloquies of not the best of times. This clamor of celebration of what is electricity electricity is solidified by thudding bass notes & boom-boom drums locked into a throb-n-nod rhythm that nods to the ticking of the motorik heartbeat as well as wiped out surf swinging.
     Featuring Wisconsin expat NickG (Catholic Boys and Strong Come Ons) and Levon (of Ladies Night and some other ridiculousness I can't recall at the moment) Vancouver B.C.'s Sex Church have previously released records on the Hozac and Sweet Rot labels. Their new full length LP, Growing Over, came out on the venerable LOAD records in the past couple of weeks and the band is taking their death trip on the road. They'll be holding an special early Sunday evening sermon/eardrum sacrifice here in Port Huron on October 23rd at the SchwonkSoundStead. Paint may peel, minds may blow, punk rockers may break into hippie dancing.
http://soundcloud.com/sexchurch

Oct 1, 2011

HEAD ON ELECTRIC "Ghost Hunter" 7inch

     Once upon a time it was considered a compliment to say a band sounded like they were influenced by Nirvana. That was many years ago before douchebags like Creed and Nickelback took the basic sound, wiped out all the subtleties, dynamics and nuances out of it, launching a still non-stop parade of other douchebags unimaginatively following in their steps, flooding the ears with a soundtrack appropriate for shopping for a new black t-shirt at Walmart (You know-for "church & shit"), being lame and, when turning it up loud so the neighbors can hear, showing the rest of the world that the average music "fan" not only minds the taste of baloney that has sat on the kitchen counter for three days-they savor it.
    Milwaukee's Head On Electric takes us back to the days when being compared to Nirvana meant something good.
     Full of tension building soft to loud dynamics held together by thick hooks that bring to mind some of the thick and terse moments of In Utero (Nirvana's best album in this writers opinion) and the bad dream daze haunting's of Sonic Youth's EVOL. Much, much more tasty than the wading in a river of mud and Corona Light effect pedal setting that a lot of radio rock bands who THINK they are touching on the same sounds have.
    It's not just the approach they take with the guitar sounds and so on that make them sound like they could've come out of the golden period of "Alternative Rock" in the "years before punk broke". With bands who dream of being heard on the local modern rock station sandwiched between something off Metallica's "Black" album and Theory Of A Deadman-the vocals tend to sound like Emo Phillips with constipation. Head On Electric's are that of a disjointed, moody croon wrapped loosely in a blanket floating in & out around the music instead of a whiny grunt autotuned to high hell and right in your face.
     I suppose it's not really fair to even make such comparisons between what Head On Electric and what some bozo's with a PRS Guitar and Line 6 endorsment deals are doing but all it takes is that ONE SONG to get a band from lugging/plugging it in and out in local dive bars to headlining rock festivals all over the world. This one sided 7inch only hosts one song (they make up for it with some pretty fancy handmade packaging though. There's also a trippy video that goes along with the tune) but it's the first time in a long time where I've said "They remind me of Nirvana" about a band and wasn't ripping on them.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Head-On-Electric/182335031791838