Showing posts with label Drag City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Drag City. Show all posts

Dec 29, 2013

Smashin'Transistors Fave Albums of 2013

I know there wasn't a whole lot of WRITING about records in this place again this year. I can put the blame on distractions, a major change on the domestic front and life in general getting in the way. I did LISTEN to bunches of music both new and old this past year though. After mulling over the tunes that passed through my ears in 2013 here's a list of the most enjoyed and often played albums at home, in my car and on my radio show for the year (in alphabetical order.)

-Dale


BAD NOIDS "Everything From Soup To Dessert" (Katorga Works) Ragin' and retardo, ugly and nasty. Old school sick kid hardcore. There's some toxic things still along the Lake Erie coastline!
Bad Noids on Facebook


BARDO POND "Peace On Venus" (Fire) Guitars that sound like electrical storms cutting through a dense damp fog while voices teeter between the ethereal bliss & indecorous pain. Flutes get pushed through whirling effects while the rhythm section thumps some swing into a sludge beat.
Bardo Pond on the web


BLIND SHAKE "Key to a False Door" (Castle Face) A musical head space where weirdly tuned silt punk goes out on dates with surf music to watch people go-go dance into a chasm of barbed wire and broken glass.
Blind Shake's website


CATHOLIC SPRAY "Earth Slime" (Born Bad) Freaky frogs doing  LSD fried and cheap beer sauteed post-whatever VU boot lickin' garage punk. Wig out while stomping daisies in a black light room.
Catholic Spray on Bandcamp



COUNTER INTUITS s/t aka "Sheets Of Hits" (Pyramid Scheme) A king of atonal rock woe, Ron House sets up camp around a tape machine with a prince of tin sheeting put to a belt grinder pop, Jared Phillips of Times New Viking. The results are like fetching a Swell Maps record out of a running garbage disposal with your bare hand. 
An interview with the Counter Intuits


MIKAL CRONIN "MCII" (Merge) Introspective singer-songwriter coyness, brash guitar fuzz freak outs and things like strings and woodwinds making appearances are all parts of the recipe here. The result is some of the most glimmering pop songs to sugarcoat ears this year.
Mikal Cronin on Bandcamp


The FEELING OF LOVE "Reward Your Grace" (Born Bad) Shoegazing gets tribal. Psychedelia gets stripped bare then chrome plated. Monochromatic drones intertwine themselves with technicolor swirls. Taste the strychnine rainbow.
Feeling of Love on Facebook


The GO "Fiesta" (Burger) If late 60's era Beach Boys moved to Michigan, spent all summer in a resort town riding bicycles, hanging out at the arcade, trying to find someone to buy them beer (or sell them doobies) and striking out when talking to chicks. Then spent cooped up in a Michigan winter to write songs about it
The Go on Bandcamp


The GOSPEL TRUTH "A Lonely Man Does Foolish Things" (12XU) In some universe a swamp country soul band detours into Birthday Party territory and play at the most surly pig roasts for miles around every weekend. If that universe doesn't exist yet-the Gospel Truth are at working on it.
The Gospel Truth on 12XU


The HUSSY "Pagan Hiss" (Southpaw) Heather singing like a girl group gone bad and bashing the drums like a ton of bricks. Bobby making tantrums of psych-punk noise on guitar and blurting things in a nasal tone. Their best record yet.
The Hussy on Bandcamp


HUMAN EYE "4: Into Unknown" (Goner) Laser guns get put into some mischievous hands after a space punk UFO crash lands into ruins and rustbelt rock-n-roll. Feel the ultraviolet slime ooze out of the speakers. 
Goner Records


MORDECAI "College Rock" (Richie) Mangled and out of sync trash rock/art punk that somehow locks into a groove of cohesive chaos. The most glorious and loudest wreck to come of out Butte, Montana since a six hour loop of Evel Knievel greatest wipe outs.
Mordecai on Tumblr


OBNOX "Corrupt Free Enterprise"(12XU) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.


OBLIVIANS "Desperation" (In The Red) Reunion albums by legendary bands are normally a big letdown. With tunes that go well at a backyard BBQ/Dance Party or cruising the streets looking for trouble and possibly a knife fight though Desperation isn't! Older, wiser but still packing plenty rock-n-roll firecrackers.
The Oblivians Facebook page.


OOGA BOOGAS s/t (Aarght!) This is like one of those "everything but the kitchen sink (for the lack of a better coin) "New Wave" fun party records of the mid 80's. Downstroked & elastic guitar rock-n-roll chuggers peppered with horn sections. Pub rock slathered in cheezy synths. Sing-a-long anthems with all of the above.
Ooga Boogas Bandcamp page 



PAMPERS s/t (In The Red) Blues punk (or at least a Scientists/Cramps/"Dial M" era Pussy Galore) gets spun like a top before being severely beaten by deviant art misanthropes swinging red hot tire irons. It's then set on fire and placed by some gas station pumps. The explosions are deafening.
Pampers page on Bandcamp


PSYCHIC ILLS "One Track Mind" (Sacred Bones) Chill out boogie for bikers? Spacemen 3 cruising in a brand new Cadillac through the a wildflower filled countryside? Music to burn a j while sitting under under a big shade tree at the beach? Yep, Something like that.
Psychic Ills place on the web


PURLING HISS "Water On Mars" (Drag City) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.


SATANIC ROCKERS "Fu Kung" (Alberts Basement) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.


WHITE FENCE "Cyclops Reap" (Castle Face) Syd-esque crumbling apart folkie rock gets a bunch of glitter dust tossed at it. Be the songs sound like acid country rock, glam pop played on household items or a heavily medicated Creation playing Byrds songs (or vise-verse) wiggly acoustic strums and big fuzz wails get their equal amounts of attention.
White Fence on Facebook

And with that-let's kick 2013 to the curb. On to 2014!

Mar 21, 2013

PURLING HISS "Water On Mars" LP

     Previous Purling Hiss offerings sound like they were recorded at a biker club.
     Scratch that, they actually sounded like they were recorded in the dirt parking lot of a biker club. While straight drag pipes rumble and dust is kicking up everywhere. All captured on one microphone.
     Loud. Blaring. Everything cranked as loud as it will go in some battle of trying to drown each others roar out. Dirt hanging in the air. Sound and vision muddied as angry boogie and disturbed ambiance is blown forth in a mass of distortion and grit filling all the senses with the smell of exhaust, perspiration and contempt for the subtle. Nuances and detail in the sound be damned-this is a go for it moment before chains start swinging, bottles start flying and blood starts spilling.
     On Water On Mars, their first album for Drag City, the smoke and muck has cleared.
     Well, somewhat at least.
     On the album's opener "Lolita" tracks such tracks as "Face Down" and the title song all the factors of the Hiss are there. Overdriven, hit the highway and drive recklessly fuzz riffs, vocals split the difference between basement apartment dwelling psychedelic warlord growl, punk rock cynicism and old fashion pothead yearning.
     The difference is though that instead of sounding like Blue Cheer, jam band era Black Flag and and those bad trip tales from the guy up the street who will tell you how he used to roadie for Molly Hatchet crammed into the trunk of a car to suffocate instead is a lot of breathing room here. You can actually hear what the rhythm section is doing for instance. Actual production values have allowed the sound to show off much more variety and colors.
     It's something like Dinosaur Jr orchestrating a feel good sunshine pop for Black Sabbath on "Rat Race". Neil Young and Crazy Horse raiding a pharmacy before heading off to the beach an look at the stars for "Mercury Retrograde". Indie slackers attempting the blues but not in a snarky or ironic way for "The Harrowing Wind." Where Purling Hiss releases of the past where all about burning everything to a crisp and frying eardrums there is much more sizzle and appreciating for spice and simmering. All of their records still find their way to my turntable but the do tend to cause fatigue. Now they have made one that can be played over and over again all day long without feeling woozy and and envisioning things so monochromatic.
     Some bands lose their "thing" when they get away from the trash can lo-fi rattling. Water On Mars has successfully made the transition like a champ.
www.dragcity.com

May 25, 2012

TY SEGALL and WHITE FENCE "Hair" LP

     When it comes to making late 60's/early 70's influenced sounds Ty Segall and White Fence come at it from different directions. The former is more known for doing it all snotball; rooted in in the stripped down Back From the Grave suburban garage white boy R&B rawness and the T. Rex groover school of things. The latter a bit more frilly and baroque, touching on sounds that lead to reference points such as the Zombies and Syd Barrett.
     Things Ty Segall and White Fence have in common is a love affair for guitar distortion, a penchant for a clever twist of a musical phrase and a deep rooted belief in analog. Most importantly though is that both have taken their respective "influences" and have used them as springboard to do something different, making their own thing with the sounds instead towing some purist agenda with it. Needless to say when first hearing of a collaboration of the two I thought "Hmmm. This could be interesting."
     And interesting it is. Opening track "Time" first few seconds make one think they are gonna get some Gregorian chant butting heads with some dive bar punk band but then slides into a Neil & Crazy Horse in the desert feeling while Ty's vocal signature hoots and hollers toned into a sleepy eyed John Lennon. Towards the end it abruptly cuts from a walking dazed though a field of wild flowers into a loud and fuzzy bit that, well, sounds like a noisy and fuzzy bit of a Crazy Horse album.
     There are some other moments that, to these ears, remind me of Crazy Horse too, but not so much overtly. It's not like there's a bunch of one note guitar solos or a starving cat looking for a meal "crooning" or anything. There is a locked in looseness in parts though that harkens back to why an albums like Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Zuma still stand up and fresh compared to many other records that one can find for a few bucks at any used record store, take home to put on the shelf and impress their friends with a huge of collections of "vinyls".
     The room for experimentation through such looseness finds itself in spades on this record, like the album's aforementioned lead off piece a centerpiece of the record is  "Scissor People". It's aberrant take on high strung post garage jitters spotlights a Byrds with no fear of a distortion pedal guitar solo before the second part of of the song bangs through several different moments invoking a sense of aural delirium, skipping records and channel surfing all at once.
     Mostly on the record though you get a the sound of things from both their bag of tricks combined together, shook up and a bending each other ears. "Ezy Rider" tosses around the same sort of melody from one of the top standout's from his Lemons album, "Lovely One", and makes it vibrate a bit more with trippy tremelo and an eye of tasty waves at dawn, "Crybaby" is blues-punk coated in sugar then rolled in shards of glass and "Tongues" is early 70's Beach Boys if someone would've turned them on Amon Duul II.
     Yes! It is a collaboration that is showing itself to be very interesting and quite enjoyable. Hoping these two do more of it in the future.
http://www.dragcity.com

Mar 5, 2011

Smashin' Transistors Fave 20 Albums of 2010

Yep. This is waaay late but, hey, life gets in the way sometimes. Because of the distractions, diversions and duties 2010 laid down on me I was not able to give a chunk of the albums listed here a "proper review" posted up even though I listened to them quite a bit. For those I jotted down some scattershot thoughts. For those I did actually manage to get something posted about in the year that just passed-follow the link the revisit the review. Now without further ado and ranked in alphabetical order here's THE 20 albums (and five honorable mentions) from 2010 that stuck to Smashin' Transistors ear holes the most.
















BESNARD LAKES - ....Are The Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar) Lushly orchestrated but not bombastic. Brooding but not alienating. The sound of angels singing above crashing waves or a unforgiving thunderstorm on a otherwise pleasant summer day.
http://thebesnardlakes.com/

















BEST COAST - Crazy For You (Mexican Summer) Loud and (even the quieter songs) swimming in echo girl voiced mid-fi pop that brings some sunshine into the otherwise long dark shadow that's been cast since the post Vivian Girls sweepstakes.
http://bestycoasty.blogspot.com/
















the BLACK ANGELS - Phosphene Dream (Blue Horizon Ventures) Though their previous album's of Roky E and Spaceman 3 worship were find and dandy for what they are-this Austin, Tx band has really hit their stride this go round. A rollercaster ride of reverberation, days in the park and spooky dark corners.
http://www.theblackangels.com/
















BLACK MOUNTAIN - Wilderness Heart (Jagjauwar) Smashin' Transistors review of it here.
















ISOBEL CAMPBELL and MARK LANEGAN - Hawk (V2) Lee and Nancy...Serge and Jane...Johnny and June. They've all been bandied around when talking about Campbell's heavy sweet cream coo meets Lanegan's parched whiskey and mud croon. With tracks ranging from dirtroad folk blues and country tinged jangle rockers to 70's style slinky and string laden RnB love jams all the descriptors fit but that's not to say these two don't have their own thing on.
http://www.isobelcampbell.com/
















JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN - Bad Lady Goes To Jail (Goner) This is the 2nd solo album from Golden Boy Wes and for those who like their reckless and weird Americana will find this just the right thing when they want it but a bit louder, looser, stripped down and loud. The album reeks of booze, weed and sweat dripping all over the tape machine it was recorded on.
http://johnwesleycoleman.blogspot.com/
















the GOODNIGHT LOVING - The Goodnight Loving Super Club (Dirtnap) To call this Wisconsin combo's sound Alt-Country seems a little short sighted. It's not like their trying to ape some "Imagine Merle Haggard fronting AC/DC" thing or sing with a nasally down south I grew up on a farm twang when they actually lived at at the end of a cul de sac in a prefabbed subdivision. Country Rock is not on the mark either because some might think they sound like the Eagles. To call them a true blue American rock band in the tradition of CCR, the Byrds, the Replacements and Big Star might work though. GnL has had a great track record so far and this is one of their best yet.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Goodnight-Loving/84398543385
My label, Bancroft put out a record by the Goodnight Loving a couple years ago. I still have a scant few copies of it. If you'd like to purchase one let me know.

















GRINDERMAN - 2 (ANTI) Most dudes hitting their mid life crisis stage usually go out and buy a hot rod or some shit to compensate. Nick Cave doesn't need all that though. With Grinderman as his time away from being Mr. Bad Seed he gets all the fulfillment he needs. Crotch stuffed raunch rock gets tweaked and mutilated into a bloodied stomp, crawl and creep with Nick the Strippers tells stories from seedy hotel rooms and brothels located between churches and graveyards.
http://www.grinderman.com/

















GUINEA WORMS - Sorcererers of Madness (Columbus Discount) People have been calling Dick Clark the world's oldest teenager for something like two hundred and forty eight years now. Is there anyone in the running for the world's oldest drunk poet college sophomore? And so-is it Guinea Worms main dude Will Foster? Lots of libido, lots of leering, lots of inappropriate pick up lines, lots of intellectual references fueled by lack of sleep and the last beer in the fridge backed by hippie blues one minute, difficult jazz punk the next and some stadium sized hip-hop damaged heavy pettin' garage punk sing-a-longs thrown in for good measure.
http://www.myspace.com/guineaworms


















IDLE TIMES - Idle Times (Hozac) Smashin' Transistors review of it here.
















JAILL - That's How We Burn (Sub Pop) A Wisconsin supergroup if you know their background or current associations but we're here to talk about THIS album. Like how some college rock bands of the 80's took a 60's feeling and sound but brought it into the now while still staying faithful to the feeling and spirit Jaill is talking their cue from those college rock bands. Not lo-fi but also not overadorned jangle and harmony from guys who can stay up til the beer and pop is all gone BUT also do smart things like read books and talk philosophies. Not to be confused with the band from Halifax, Nova Scotia that were on Sub Pop in the early 90's called Jale.
http://www.subpop.com/artists/jaill



















JOE KILE - Southern Beauty Queen (Eastern Watts) Smashin' Transistors review here.


















the MENTHOLS - Michigan Works (UFO Dictator) Smashin' Transistors review of it here.


















SCOUT NIBLETT - The Calcination Of Scout Niblett (Drag City) The much bandied descriptions of Scout's music is "the illegitimate daughter of Kurt Cobain and PJ Harvey". Though it's a lazy/easy description her songs are sparse, her guitar can be all quiet then perforate an eardrum with sick feedback and her voice goes from a cracked whisper to heartbreaking wail-it's somewhat accurate. The princess of the New Weird Blues.
http://www.myspace.com/scoutniblett

















OVERNIGHT LOWS - City Of Rotten Eyes (Goner) This is one of those punk rock-n-roll albums that flies fast out of the gate with hyperactive energy and it's 12 songs in 22 minutes don't let up til the record finishes to a dead stop. Think the Marked Men raised on a steady diet of catfish or a less nerdy and much more pissed off Wax Museums and you be coming close to getting an idea on what these Jackson, Ms. rabble rousers are putting down.
http://www.myspace.com/theovernightlows

















the PLEASURE KILLS - Bring Me A Match (Polypore) It's like the guitar player from the Rezillos never left to hang out with the Human League, Blondie decided to speed things up after Eat To The Beat instead of trying to appeal to suburban moms or the members of the Go-Gos never discovered high limit credit cards, young republican courters and heroin. Bubblegum smacking dancefloor filling new wave party rock. Seeing their full on energy live show seals the deal cuz the band plays hard and Lydia can really belt them out.
http://www.myspace.com/thepleasurekills

















the SUGAR STEMS - The Sweet Sounds of...(Dusty Medical) Another Wisconsin band who's lineage and "Featuring members of..." thing I could go on about for days but know I already have done that somewhere else in public as well as the internet so no need for that now. Glossy and sparkling bright rooted in 60's girl groups and 70's power pop and guitar solos that nod to both James Burton and Rick Neilsen at the same time.
http://www.dustymedical.com/
Betsy and Stef Sugar Stem are also in the Flips. My label, Bancroft, put out a record by them awhile back. If interested in picking up a copy drop me a line.

















SUPER WILD HORSES - Fifteen (Hozac) Smashin' Transistors review of it here.


















WHEELS ON FIRE - Liar, Liar (Alien Snatch) Smashin' Transistors of it here.

















WHITE WIRES - II (Dirtnap) During the height of the whole pop-punk explosion I wonder if the Ramones ever weighed in on their take on it and if they did were they pissed about it. I imagine Johnny was but, then again, judging from the End Of The Century doc when wasn't Johnny pissed or miffed at something. I would hope though that they'd tell all those bands to realized what the Ramones reference points were and look for those as inspiration instead of, well, just aping the Ramones (and, for the most part, not doing it all that well). It's practically impossible to doubt that Ottawa, Ontario's White Wires haven't listened to the brudders from Forest Hills albums but for them it's a jumping off point instead of having their (Converse High Top) shoes cemented in the foundation. Ramshakled but right catchy buzzsaw rock-n-roll songs that nod to good times/great oldies and the 90's garage punk and have you humming the hooks right after the first time you hear them. Their first album was a charm and this follow up is even better. This ain't pop punk. Punk pop perhaps?
http://www.dirtnaprecs.com/

Honorable mentions: Ty Segall Melted, Sleepy Sun Fever, Superchunk Shredding Majesty, Tyvek Nothing Fits and the Vaselines Sex With An X.