May 27, 2015

The TRENDEES "We Are Sonic Art"

     Back in my high school days calling someone a trendy was a blanket slam of disdain on the rich kids, the cheerleaders and anyone else that was deemed a follower or simply late to the game. Y'know, what they called in movies (though we never used the term much if at all) the Soshes.
     Us punk rockers urchins and new wave misfits did our what we could to avoid them. For the most part it was easy. We weren't invited to their parties and they kept out of the video arcade we claimed our turf in this small town.
     With vocals that sound flailing about like Mark E. Smith with his hair on fire while some guys re-imagine what Mordecai's College Rock album would sound like if they attempted to be Flipper taking a stab at doing pop songs on circular saws, New Zealand’s Trendees probably aren't getting invited to many rich kids pool parties.
     Right from go, "Power Waves", guitars caked in mud blare a feedback infested squall and drums that sound firecrackers shut inside an armored car go bang. From there uncontrollable musical spams herk, jerk and pant through cyclones of introspection like "Boring Party", rants while pissing on an electrical fence for "Small Town/Dressing Gown", drops acid at dawn on "Center Of Town" and "Concorde #3" so they can wait for a bad trip to happen and, for "Motorcycle (Make Loud Noise)", take the term Biker Rock way more literately than most by sounding like they are living right inside the tail pipe.    

May 14, 2015

Belita Woods "Grounded"

     Before making a name for herself with songs such as “Lovin’ Is Really My Game” as lead singer for the Funk/Soul band Brainstorm in the 1970s and being a singer in the P-Funk All Stars in the 90s, Belita Woods first started recording in the mid 60s.
     After cutting some sides for Detroit record label impresario Ollie McLaughlin, her first single was released on his label, Moira, in 1967.
     The legend about this record is that though the sass pack floor filling groover “Grounded” was suppose to be the a-side but the pressing company went with the recording notes on the tape instead of the label’s request so the more soul ballad leaning (but still smokin’ in its own right) “Magic Corner” was viewed as the plug side. Both side of the record got a fair amount of play in Detroit but the record never broke through nationally.
     By 1969 McLaughlin was having financial problems and sold the distribution rights of his labels Carla, Karen and Moira (all of which were named after his daughters) to Atlantic Record records. In 1969, Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion re-released this single to little fanfare (and still with “Grounded” as the b-side.) 
     Belita passed away from heart failure on this day, May 14th, in 2012 at the age of 63. 

May 8, 2015

BENNY and the ROIDS 2015 Demo Cassette

     The School of  '77 English punk rock played through a USA sleaze filter. Sure, we've all head the claim. And, if you're into that kind of thing, have felt duped when a band that gets showered with such a distinction ends up just sounding like KISS without the explosions or Mötley Crüe's Theatre of Pain album but even crappier.
     Calling Los Angeles home, Benny and the Roids are in one of the epicenters where such a declared sound come from and, more often than not, wind up more like those latter examples. It seems they've made a note of such shenanigans though and chose to walk a path that's paved with rusted barbed wire and shattered beer bottles.
     Sporting four mid-tempo Humpers via Chuck Berry via the New York blast it's all about rumbly bass runs, guitars that sound distorted more likely because they are being cranked up high through a battered amp that could catch fire at any minute than any pedal that might be in use and a singer that sways between gruff slurring and a throaty bellow.
     Toss in some gang vocal choruses and keep all the songs around a minutes and you got a the fixins of sordid night out at your favorite dive bar to see a live band.
     No, these guys aren't tearing down any walls but also sound like you don't have to ask them twice to help kick some holes in some drywall.
Download the demo here or just give it a listen.

May 7, 2015

HEATERS "Mean Green" 7inch

Photo by shuttersam
     Night swimming at the lake. It's frowned upon by summer downers and fun governors due to its potential dangers. After a long day of toiling in the humidity that can dampens everything a person owns in the Great Lakes State during the summertime though those warnings are ignored. The moon light sparkling off the lake that gives off a shimmering liquid light show that only Mother Nature can produce. Cooling off the body and mind, washing away the grit that has caked both throughout the day. Many who grew up near the lakes know will take that over any warning of risks.
     The a-side of the latest record by Grand Rapids band Heaters, "Mean Green", is like a soundtrack for night swimming right before a thunderstorm rolls in. A driving surf beat agitates the motion of the water while a lustrous guitar chug joins in with a force that pushes the waves to go higher and higher and gracefully crash against the pebbles on the shore. The mashed together vocals of Andrew and Nolan echo in the distance like a calling from the beach that the weather is getting gonna get rougher but bounce and thrashing of water has become exhilarating and the risk addicting.
     It seems, at first, the storm is subsiding on the b-side's "Levitate Thigh." A trippy surf guitar line ripples along the shoreline over a easy going and hazy skip of a rhythm. Then the wind picks up and lightning throws a blinding flash in the night sky while puncturing the water. A waterspout forms and pulls everything into a whirling vortex of a violent sound storm.
     Night swimming, man. Perhaps it IS best not to do it alone.

May 4, 2015


     Are we at the point where we can proudly call something grunge again and people will not think we're talking about how Pearl Jam begat the cesspool that Creed invited a bunch of assholes to come swimming in with them to stink up an already crap commercial rock climate?
     If we are, it's as easy to say with a wave of a hand that Milwaukee's Slow Walker are in the process of scaling a mountain of contaminated soil to plant a grease stained flannel flag at it's peak. Fuzz-n-Wah are used brazenly, a fat bass bottom and drums with a particular boom waste no time in getting right down business with opening track, "Dog Meat", sounding like it should be used for the soundtrack for a film of nitro burning funny cars bursting in to actual flames.
     Listening to the album though the thing is with these guys, unlike, say, the Ramones Jr. bands that became a bane some time ago, the band doesn't stick straight to a grunge template. They dig deeper to find out where the sound they're going for got its sound from as well as they places it has went since and, all the while, avoiding the plastic alternative rock ghettos.
     "Too Much" takes a Black Lips bounce and injects it with David Allan practicing speed metal riffing, the hazy day feeling of "Never Coming Back" is something like Feelies stripping the Shocking Blues "Venus" of all its proto-prog jazz adornments and making things much straight forward as a result and songs like "Sight In Mind" and "Stale Heat" have a backstreet proto-metal/hesher punk clobbering groove that should be cranking from a weed dealer's El Camino.
     Throw in some summer stroll feelings on "Dawn At Sunrise" and "Losing It" along sounding like Spacemen 3 being locked in a closet with some Kyuss albums on "Bathroom Tile" and you've got a meal almost as well balanced as Mudhoney's finest hour Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
     A couple of my Milwaukee bud's (who have some pretty good bands themselves) have told me this is the favorite band from town (and not just because they did a Saints tribute set last Halloween.) Jamming the album a bunch of times now I have no reason to doubt them.