Dusted Features

Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 12

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A big update from Mosurock and crew, including the new Home Blitz, Malachai and One Hundred Dollars.

Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 12

Charles Albright
I’m Happy, I’m a Genius 7” EP

What I’ve gathered about Albright is that he is a Sacramento savant, capable of formidable guitar/loner-rock destruction. The seven songs on this single (following a super-limited offering on S-S) recall an early Andrew W.K., with the jackhammer party beats and mindlessness replaced with heavy sporto rock riffage, Ginn/Hazelmyer-style phrasing, and blown-out live drumming. The sentiments are pretty much the same: anthemage, in Descendents-speak; with the slogans turned inward (the songs are about him, not about you being given permission to party). Everything’s cranked to 11, yet there’s a balance about the recording that is worth mentioning, since most of the solo rock guy projects that come through here are either undercooked or completely pointless, self-indulgent exercises in turd thievery. Been playing this one a lot to soak it in, and it just keeps giving and giving. Definitely check him out. 500 copies (100 orange, 400 black). (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Armedalite Rifles
Shambolic? Indeed! 2xLP

The booklet inside this set proclaims “THE NEW WAVE OF HOME MADE” but it’s more like three bands jammed into one band. Over this double album, upstaters Armedalite Rifles try out the following: 1. Catchy, nervous, ugly guitar pop a la Home Blitz or Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments; 2. Endless mid-80s SST impersonations (instrumentally expedient but sloppy Minutemen “Jams for Peace/Jams Against Reagan” ); 3. Cloying, drunken singalong bike punk, like a really cheap cruster version of Titus Andronicus. They are excellent, and far more competent, in one of these styles than the other two, and four sides of vinyl is a lot to ask of one’s listeners while they figure out a compelling identity. Especially when there are 10 minute closing tracks of throwaway synth gurgle padding it out. Here’s hoping these guys take better control of their canvas next time, because there’s some good potential here. 225 copies. (http://fdhmusic.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Armedalite Rifles/The Reaction
split 7” EP

This split 7”, like so many other anonymous splits before it, could easily be deemed crappy and unessential, yet it eventually semi-charmed this critical recipient’s life with its minor-market, “real people” textures and had some visitors to the living room tapping their clogs in approval. It helps that each band gets three songs per side. Armedalite Rifles are from a tad bit upstate NY but they jam discordantly like your favorite crude ‘70s/’80s Ohio basement art-punkers and aren’t afraid to toss in some penny whistle to make sure things get weird. The Reaction are a good pairing and continue the same vibe, with some chunky Ginn moves on the guitar that take you right inside that dive they always play near wherever they live. They throw a curve with some trippy guitar/drum-sticks-on-a-Coleman-cooler instro-jam, then add female vocals on a closer not really like “Slip It In” but not without its own vaguely salacious bite. Authentic local swill. (http://fdhmusic.com)
(Andy Tefft)

Birds of Maya featuring Harmonica Dan
"Regulation" 7”

Tour-centric release (read: not many copies, minimal artwork) from Philly beef-n-beer blast brigade Birds of Maya. That’s a lot of Bs. Likewise, this is merch table B-roll, the sort of horsin’ around that isn’t as likely from these guys – blame “Harmonica Dan” if you will, whose harp and hollerin’ takes to task this Tascam Blueshammerin’ to a somewhat disheartening degree. I get suspicious of the drunk white man’s harmonica. What can I say, we’ve all been burned. While still heavy and in control of some mighty riffs, “Regulation” cuts a bit too close to your average shitkickin’ bar band, and the outtake on the flipside won’t scorch you like those buffalo chicken fingers you so unwisely ordered during the opening act. Still, some of you have gotta be completists, so have at it. I already know I’m not welcome in Philadelphia anymore… (http://testostertunes.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The C&B
1991 Pre-Shadow Ring Recordings 7” EP

It is almost completely impossible for me to articulate to the uninitiated my love the Shadow Ring, why they were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and why they were so crucial to the dialogue of music in the ‘90s. Frankly, if I play Put the Music in Its Coffin or City Lights for anyone who hasn’t heard them before, and doesn’t know what they’re about, I’m usually challenged with the canard that what we’re listening to is “retarded.” Offensive language by philistines aside, the relative musical ineptitude with which the Shadow Ring confronted its listeners was kind of the point: decades past punk’s exhortation to do it yourself, the Shadow Ring were able to take absolutely stark musical elements (monotone vocals, poorly tuned guitar, abrasive percussion, absurd tape manipulations) and meld them into an expressive whole, far greater than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, many years past their demise as a group, Siltbreeze has released this single of early recordings by Shadow Ring founders Graham Lambkin and Darren Harris, under the name the C&B (short for the Cat & Bells Club). Stylistically, these recordings are just a small step removed from what would become the Shadow Ring’s sound, and indeed, I suspect the riff from “Kent Cluster” was recycled more than once afterwards, but for a fan that only adds to its charm. Edition of 300. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Joel Hunt)

“Neon Jesus” b/w “Neon Autobahn” 7”
(Hell, Yes!)

The A-side is a nu-wavey pop song that is so flat and linear that you can almost see the digital grid with two-finger keyboard lines and spiky guitar effects sprinkled over as simple a drum track one can bother to spend ten seconds programming. The B-side is an instrumental of the same song so you can really hear that keyboard solo. Nice idea for this “exciting” repress of a 2008 debut single by Fat Possum recording artists (ex-Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, so you can trace their shitty roots all the way back to the Revelation family tree - Ed.). File under: redundant crud. (http://hellyeshellyeshellyes.bigcartel.com)
(Andy Tefft)

s/t 7” EP
(Basement Scream/Let’s Pretend)

Austin hardcore trio bangs out six songs that balance out melody and splintered rhythm in the correct proportions, and thus gets praise instead of the indifference/scorn heaped on most of their contemporaries. Check out those triplets on “Running Rats,” that reverse grunge riff on “Berlin Wall,” that tentative two-note lead that dives into rotting dirge on “Snake Charm Man,” which immediately dashes into the falling-apart frenzy of “Ready Set Let Go” – there’s more going on here than on your run of the mill snot-punk record, and once this whole group gets moving in unison, they threaten to turn your room upside down and drive an Econoline van through your wall. It’s a fun, worthwhile record that has gotten better over the handful of spins it’s received here in the past few months, so I hope there’s still some left for you to buy. Stenciled paper sleeve w/ insert, 300 copies. (http://letspretendrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Space Case Vol. 1 7”
(Mind Cure/Dear Skull)

Gangwish is Sam Pace, drummer of Centipede E’est and formerly of the Dirty Faces, two of the more righteously idea-driven bands in Pittsburgh’s recent past. Here, Sam plays drums and marimba, and triggers that send signals out to synths, digital effects units, and a bass rig. The end result is a rhythmo-musical skull of dubby noise, concrete tones, and drumline rhythms. “Run Mr. Vapor” sustains not one but two passages of wide-open breaks, obscured inside and out by dirty oscillator grunt and mutated orchestra hits. It’s a project that stuns an audience, I’m sure, because Pace’s pre-meditation aligns with his city’s propensity for bands where one or two members do all the work (Zombi, Girl Talk, Modey Lemon, all exciting live performers in their own rights). As a former resident, I can empathize with this approach, but still I’m surprised by how much Pace squeezes out of this setup – he’s a solid, jazz-leaning drummer with a big, open sound, laying down two shuffles (pure marching band swagger on “Run Mr. Vapor” and a bit of a Caribbean influence on “Sea of Love”) over which stoned chaos erupts, and the visage of Oneida’s Kid Millions (at work, with computers) scoobies itself into the room. The marimba passageon this is fluid and doleful, tipping its cap to Stereolab circa Dots and Loops, the technology several modules weirded from the source. Female vocals chant, folk-style, on “Sea of Love,” and both tracks really come out of nowhere, with ideas and designs on music being carried out to the terrain of Popular Mechanics, and with the requisite super-skills to keep all of these plates spinning. 200 copies, silkscreened sleeves, go get ‘em. (http://www.myspace.com/gangwishmusic)
(Doug Mosurock)

Greg Ginn and the Taylor Texas Corrugators
“Freddie” b/w “Tea” 7”
(Electric Cowbell)

SST owner and Black Flag founder Greg Ginn has allowed himself back into the public eye with a couple of bands that have been touring the same ceaseless, bleary path as early Flag, but with maybe a flyspeck’s worth of the same inspiration. Look, it’s no big deal anymore that Ginn went off the handle soon after Damaged and began to play music that was just as heavy, but also aimed at pissing off everyone who thought he was interested in repeating himself. I haven’t had the pleasure of hearing *cough* Jambang but today I did Ginn one better: I checked out all three albums he made in the early ‘90s, skipping over the self-indulgent Gone entirely. Dick, Getting Even and especially Let it Burn (Because I Don’t Live There Anymore) come from a mind that is hellbent on some counter-commercial success, like some High Times subscriber discovered Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hotrod” the day it came out and just ran with it. Playing all the instruments by himself (and leaving a computer for drum detail), it sounded like a man alone, playing horse in the backyard against an invisible friend. Many of Ginn’s associates from the heyday of SST seem pretty anti-Greg, so you have to wonder if this Taylor Texas Corrugators single is some sort of penance … but for who? “Freddie” is a late morning wake-n-bake sesh in electric jazz trio mode, like a heavy-lidded Nels Cline Trio, dopey slow and bashful, the rest of the Seven Dwarves following suit. I’d liken it to other late morning rock a la Tortoise but I’ve got another review to write. “Tea” is the sound of this band – Ginn recording most everything, but with a second guitarist and drummer, so he can fit in wherever – stretching out, providing little of musical worth other than the mental image of a Guitar Center in a small Humboldt County village where distortion has been outlawed. Nice Maya Hayuk artwork detracts from the slobber within. (http://www.electric-cowbell.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Golden Boys
Thee Electric Wolfman LP

The Golden Boys’ Whiskey Flower was easily my favorite record of 2007, and one of the best live bands I saw that year as well. I didn’t see last year’s Goodbye Country around much, which can be a bad sign. Few bands can stay raw forever without relying on boutique effects or head trauma; the hunger for rawness is the perpetual motion machine that keeps the indie/garage machine moving, and the lasting power of a band is often determined by how well the can transition from urgent moods to competent ones. Thee Electric Wolfman opens with a rousing Compulsive Gamblers-style blues stomper, before settling into a more relaxed Western swing. The album credits almost ten additional players, including ‘68 Comeback alum Ross Johnson, every member of the Spider Bags, and the Gris Gris’ Greg Ashley, who’s also credited with the mellow, subdued production. Many of the band’s rough edges have been smoothed, which took a little getting used to (I liked them) rough edges. TEW is still dense with sounds, but markedly less wild than previous outings, and sounds like found a warm, comfortable satisfaction that leads to songs like “Goddamn, I Love the Ocean”. Both singers’ voices have matured with Hoopengardner evolving from wailing everyman, to a more laid back Lou Reed style smooth drawl, and the other guy leans more on the organ than trombone and tape loops than previous outings. I wasn’t thrilled at first, but having spun it dozens of times, it’s really grown on me, though I miss some of the wilder moments. Things keep moving forward. (http://www.daggermanrecords.com)

Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch
Andrew Graham’s Good Word LP
(Mexican Summer)

Andrew Graham was last seen out as a member of RTFO Bandwagon, with one LP and single on Dull Knife that showed a lot of promise for a young singer-songwriter steeped in the ‘70s stackfiller of used record stores. A budding Randy Newman in training, Graham returns here with a retooled band, a thinner sound, but a more consistent one, even through the rock ‘n’ roll adventures they take us through. There’s a very strong understanding and reprocessing of the Velvets and antecedents, country swing and New Orleans blues, attention paid to British art-rock from Peter Hammill to the Fall, and innate musicianship and arranging skills that few know how to wield, let alone possess. I got kind of thrown by the circus vibe on the awkwardly-titled “Red Light Green Light is a Game for Schoolchildren and I Can’t Believe We’re Playing It Still,” but the tonk present is enough to satisfy a little whimsy here and there. I wish guys like Jack Nitzsche were still around to hear things like this, so that they’d know their work did not go on unanswered. Graham’s got songwriting talent, lyrics that poke the brain and touch the heart (the beleaguered narration on “Meatloaf at the Steakhouse” is a particularly strong example), and nods towards all sorts of head music, as in the extended, motorik ending of “Take It Easy on Kathy, At Least She Can Dance”). While performing with a tenth of the drama reached on Harangue’s excellent 12” from earlier this year, both bands drank from the same well, and it’s a great thing to know that Graham is out there, along with other insanely-underappreciated rock randos like the Dirty Faces, Viva L’American Death Ray Music, Andre Ethier, and Dimples, balancing the stoned/trashed/poetic xi just so. He seems to be on the other side of the tracks in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio … where is the unity. 500 numbered copies. (http://www.mexicansummer.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Hollows
“Bobby Blueheart” b/w “Walkaway” 7”
(Trouble in Mind)

A boilerplate girl group sound informed by the Fastbacks or the Muffs as much as Phil Spector, the Hollows are steeped in tradition and have a bit of a franticness about them that might translate into better records down the line. Both songs here are very well executed, but will be too cloying/annoying for some listeners. “Bobby Blueheart” sounds like it wants to be on the Sunset Strip circa 1977, but that it doesn’t make for a really memorable song belies the pop factory stance their label seems to be taking. “Walkaway,” with its neener-neener keyboard riff, is a bit more successful. Hermetically sealed and will expire in 2013, so best to use it before then. (http://troubleinmindrecs.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Home Blitz
“Perpetual Night” b/w “Murder in My Heart” 7”
(Almost Ready)

Two more unrequited powerpop hard-ons from New Jersey’s perpetual teen wunderkind Daniel DiMaggio. “Perpetual Night” jangles along like a junior Feelies, and distracts as the math class boner of your youth would from your course of study. “Murder in My Heart” resurrects a late-period gem from a depleted Searchers (who by the late 70s/early 80s had taken to covering “September Gurls,” and whose original doesn’t stray too far from the pop path the Flamin’ Groovies laid straight on “Shake Some Action”), the kind of record you’d only discover after spending hours on hands and knees at PRex trying to scratch the itch that unwashed thrift-store Dwight Twilley t-shirt left you with. Straight shots down the teen line, well-executed and with just enough of the awkwardness of the earlier recordings to really sell it. Awesome as always – I might as well put in the plug for his last LP, Out of Phase, which got mono and slept right through 2009 but is so so so worth your time and dollars. Who doesn’t love this guy?!? (http://www.myspace.com/almostreadyrecords)
(Doug Mosurock)

Honest To Goodness
Live LP
(Fedora Corpse)

Solo guitar and effects pedal drone captured live at a gallery in Rochester, Michigan, courtesy of one Chad Stocker (also guitarist in long-running NYC garage band the High Strung). It’s quiet, sparse and “meditative” in tone so Fripp & Eno’s LPs are major touchstones here, as opposed to a Matthew Bower related blowout or some dense Earth-style metalgazing. If you know what Eveningstar sounds like you probably know that records like this sound much better on quiet nights, with crickets rather than leafblowers outside your open windows, if possible. That’s nice and all, but since perhaps you already have enough guitar drone on your shelves, understand that the playing here is often quite bare and “overt” and the technique will not provide revelations in guitar texture (or more pretentiously, “guitar context”) to hardened improv or ambient listeners. The warts-and-all aspects of the live performance (finger-flubs, a conspicuous boost of the volume knob, general sensation of “ideas” floating by in real-time) keep this within the realm of low-key improv, though its steady and controlled stream of loops shouldn’t break the calm of a quiet evening. (http://www.fedoracorpse.com)
(Andy Tefft)

Jailhouse Fuck
s/t 10” EP
(Clan Destine/Lazy Roar)

Six songs of well-primped but sonically jagged post-punk spew from this mechanized Swedish spazz quartet. Barked, bent female vocals punctuate blistering, speed-competitive rhythms and blasts of guitar, recalling the Scissor Girls as informed by ’98-’02 screamo/electronic rock bands (start with the Locust and end with Lost Sounds for a more accurate frame of ref) and even disco and electroclash. The band is unforgivingly tight, shifting from nimble agit-prog complications to hydraulic bounce grooves in the space of seconds. Some will balk at the technical aspects of their playing, others might complain about the overbearing mid-range in the recording, but there are definitely people who won’t, people who have been waiting for something like early Glass Candy meets Festival of Dead Deer, and ¾ of everything else that used to get shipped out in Bottlenekk distro orders, will legit freak over this. 200 copies w/ insert; apparently it’s been pressed as a 12” as well, in an edition of 137 copies. (http://www.myspace.com/clandestinproductions) (http://lazyroar.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble
Three Christs of Ypsilanti LP

Hot on the heels of the super-limited Butte County Free Music Society Induced Musical Spasticity 4xLP box set comes this related platter on Siltbreeze. Because of the notable guitar droning and occasional industrial noise present, fans of the ‘Breeze may liken some moments on Three Christs of Ypsilanti to Harsh 70s Reality in spots, though there’s hardly anything on it that approaches the Dead C.’s more rock moments, which isn’t a bad thing, of course. What’s even more notable about this Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble recording – aside from its decidedly rural origins in Chico, California – is its completely cut-up methodology, which places Three Christs alongside such almost-contemporaries as Throbbing Gristle, Smegma, or Nurse With Wound, yet without the name-brand cachet. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Joel Hunt)

The Liminanas
“Je Ne Suis Pas Tres Drogue (featuring “MU”)” b/w “Bercruse Pour Clive” 7”
(Trouble in Mind)

Trouble in Mind is a new-ish Chicago label, releasing hand-numbered pop singles in stock sleeves (printed in China, hail our new overlords). The music inside is each of the three singles I’ve heard is as generic as the artwork, boilerplate examples of niche garage/pop with little to recommend. That said, the Liminanas’ single could have been far worse. Much like a handful of vocal groups in and around NYC, these folks (from the same town as the Sonic Chicken 4) stick to emulating fossilized forms of freakbeat expression – here, French pop of the late ‘60s and the chanteuse style that goes hand-in-hand. “Je Ne Suis Pas Tres Drogue (featuring “MU”)” (not the Mu you’re thinking of) bops along like Stereolab plugged into the Dub Narcotic dance machine, and the spoken vocals (“Woof!” on every first beat) and all-too-precious worldview really doesn’t do anything at all for me. I’m sure this band is fun to see live and dance to, but the evidence of a side that thinks people want to sit through chintzy ballads like “Bercruse Pour Clive” makes this a risky proposition for just about anything except instafile status, or they’re your friends and you had to buy the record, or you like the throwback looks of the sleeve and the colors of vinyl on which this is pressed. Coming soon to an Urban Outfitters near you. (http://troubleinmindrecs.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Territories LP
(At War with False Noise/Basses Frequences/Small Doses/BloodLust!)

Chicago-based bad vibe outfit Locrian has been kicking around the primordial, sidelong growing-evil threat thing for a while now, and are starting to unify their stance across separate genres of metal and dark electronics. There’s a few songs in here (like the opener “Inverted Ruins”) that ought to be where these guys decide to head out to, finally – it’s slow, tortured, brutal evidence of deadly sins crawlin’ out of the ground, layering low industrial drone with piercing electronics, death-march drumming and the miserable howls of Bloodyminded’s Mark Solotroff. Elsewhere, they lean into masterful dark drone, and they close both sides of this LP with straight-ahead black metal. The drone works – that’s where this group comes from – but the USBM is so common, and often so not exciting, that even these competent examples draw away from the nastiness this group has already generated. A mixed bag where the hits are awesome and the rest is just OK. (http://www.atwarwithfalsenoise.com) (http://www.bassesfrequences.com) (http://small-doses.com) (http://bloodlust.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Snowflake 12” EP
(Double Six/Domino)

Some manner of sample-based duo out of Bristol, reared by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and let loose on American shelves earlier this year. The album is called Ugly Side of Love, and this 12” single collects four of its strongest moments. Strangely, the full-length starts to lose luster towards the end of its 33 minute runtime, so maybe it’s just as well that most of the great bits have been plucked out. A variety of glam/popsike riffs are run through the mill, a clever deceit that accents the role of the producer over that of the musician, though these guys can sing and probably play some fill-in instrumentals just fine. “Snowflake” has actually gotten some dap on modern rock radio, wherever that’s left (Chicago, LA, and … well that’s it, really) – not hard to see why, as its muscular bass crunch and bellicose, Anglo-fried vocals remind more of the White Stripes than wherever that riff might have originated. “Another Sun” is even better, picking the meat off of Rubble’s bones through a wavering acoustic guitar loop and cracking rhythmic syncopation and wiki-wiki scratch in the bridge. It’s a truly fantastic song, and not an easy one to get out of your head, particularly if you’re as focused on its constituent parts as you are on the delivery. You know that vocalist Gee Ealey was caning the fuck out of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” as well as Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” when coming up with that descending chorus, and if you’re me, you have a great deal of respect for that formula, particularly where the latter track is concerned. Elsewhere, “Moonsurfin’” camps out somewhere between acoustic Can and Richie Havens for a brief moment, and “Fading World” gives us the ominous flute loop, choppy guitar lead, and dubular construction with some telling lyrics of the state of England in a time of decay and cannibalization of culture. It’s a couple of rungs below the Avalanches’ Since I Left You in terms of its construction and impact, but Malachai has indie yo-dudes like Edan sweating a little harder than usual, which can’t be all that bad. It’s gonna be a difficult and expensive task to top this one, but for two songs absolutely in the right time and place, Malachai means something to me right now, no matter how fleeting that moment may be. (http://www.dominorecordco.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Mojomatics
Tears Fall Down 7”
(Hell, Yes!)

Well-dressed Italo garage rockers who are pretty active on the contempo fonzie festival circuit. These studio tracks sound slick and clean-cut compared to depraved American distorto-trackers of the JSBX/HoZac/Reatard/Dwyer milieu, though these ‘Matics had a single on pop friendly Douchemaster Recs which kind of connects them to the U.S. garage underbelly. Definitely poppy and a little bluesy, in a politely thumping mod/British Invasion way, this single has fuzz tone in place of harmonica. Vocals have a touch of Roky vibrato but the hooks are rather generic, though preferable to, say, The Mooney Suzuki, not to compare them just yet to “big time” garage names. Someone call Little Steven if he needs a slot-filler besides a broccoli calzone. (http://hellyeshellyeshellyes.bigcartel.com)
(Andy Tefft)

Joe Morris/Chris Riggs/Ben Hall
Glass Key LP
(You Are Your Own Machine)

Joe Morris! Haven’t heard from him since the ‘90s, and it’s purely my fault (haven’t been totally paying attention to jazz and improv), but this Detroit session, pairing him with electric guitarist Chris Riggs and drummer Ben Hall, is a welcome return. Morris is known for clean tone, and for pulling noise and nuance out of technique rather than effects. On side A, he plays a melodic foil to Riggs’ miniscule picking and pick sliding, while Hall scoots around on top with his kit. Bursts of energy surface as the theme gets more abstracted, until Morris finally takes part in the minutiae on the flip. Hall’s drumming stays consistent and jocular throughout, bringing things down to conversation level, Riggs’ loops and nuances filling out the back. Wonderful work, and it’s good to see Morris back in action, even though this is as street level as you could hope. 300 numbered copies in one of those Chicago-style notched flap sleeves. (http://ageofeverything.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Nudge Squidfish
20,000 Leagues Under Nashville LP
(Columbus Discount/Old Age No Age)

Despite the horribly prescient title, as Music City USA recovers from terrible flooding this past May, this “25th anniversary reissue” of solo recordings by V-3/Mike Rep and the Quotas member Nudge Squidfish is oddly satisfying, and a good companion piece to the two mysterious, recent appearances on LP of Vertical Slit’s Slit and Pre-Slit and that V-3 bootleg. Of course, there are plenty of stylistic differences between this release and those of Shepard’s. For instance, “Drinking for Christmas” could surprisingly fit in with C86 bands of the same period, while songs such as “Goodbye Princess” recall Big Star if Chris Bell was high on Whip-Its. “The Stranger” and “Backlot of Gilligan’s Isle” anticipate The Pod-era Ween (that’s a compliment). Elsewhere there’s tearjerkers like “City of Sorrow” and “Wonder Where You Been,” tributes to fellow Ohioans such as “They Call Me Mike Rep,” two otherwise-unrecognizable Shepard covers (“Metal or Meat?” and “Signals & Warnings”), some spoken-word nonsense, and an overall vibe of loner weirdness that probably couldn’t be replicated in any convincing way today, even if anyone had the balls to try. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
(Joel Hunt)

Nu Sensae
TV, Death, and the Devil LP

Vancouver, punk Mecca, strikes again with the debut album from Nu Sensae, a bass/drums duo that balances the theatricality and raw, impulsive bent of Lydia Lunch and Jim Foetus with the lumbering, grungy bellow of Babes in Toyland and L7. After a jarring, feverish one-sided 12” and a more polished, more aggressive single, the first full-length rips into it hard, the recording allowing Andrea Lukic’s voice to take on further nuance, while her bass playing is more menacing than before. A big ol’ statement, with lyric sheet and a six-panel poster of the band, which looks really cool. Aside from curating releases from Thee Best Scene in North America, Nominal has gotten in the habit of making a very striking-looking album, and the oversaturated B&W artwork and overall vibe of this sesh matches the heat of the album within. Most highly recommended. (http://www.recordsnominal.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

One Hundred Dollars
“My Father’s House” b/w “The Digger” 7”

Well, I must be in my 30s, because I guess I’ve developed a taste for alt-country, arguably the worst country. Can Canada even have country western music? One Hundred Dollars might is better described as dark folk, with a heavy country flavor, like a rougher Allison Krauss & Union Station. Anyway, Deranged is keeping all bets hedged with this single. Smokey voiced singer Simon Schmidt paints a bleak picture of a working class life with little hope, like Denis Johnson’s Angels set to music. “My Father’s House” is about a rental tenement housing a prostitute and other indigent folk, and the girl who blithely collects their rent until she inherits the house and stops. The cover is a picture of a boarded up building, so I’m not sure things worked out so well for the tenants? “The Digger” is folk tale of quarry folk who drown in a cave also serving as a metaphor for men stripping the land to take all they can. The band is robust, with pedal steel guitars, vibes, and a Wurlitzer piano which all come together with a heavy traditional sound, rather than posing as the token country record on a punk label. (http://www.derangedrecords.com)

Opsvik & Jennings
A Dream I Used to Remember LP
(Loyal Label)

Post-Gastr del Sol instrumental rock is certainly not a genre on the tip of most peoples’ tongues in 2010, but the NYC duo of Eivind Opsvik & Aaron Jennings are still drawing within that framework and producing solid results. A Dream I Used to Remember is their third album, following up records on Rune Grammafon and NCM East. While the music is generally based around standard guitar/bass/percussion variations, O&J keep things lively with wordless choir vocals, banjos, horns and various electronic treatments. There’s a sense of homespun charm in the way that the duo do most of the work themselves – the listener gets the impression that they only called in reinforcements when absolutely necessary. Occasionally A Dream I Used to Remember falls on the side of overly familiar “cinematic” tropes; certain tracks feel like readymades waiting for a home in a tasteful indie film. However, Opsvik & Jennings never go too maudlin or too whimsical, and their music is focused around shorter pop song-length pieces so nothing goes on for too long. This is music that’s tough to write about without damning it with faint praise, but this record is a really pleasant experience that stands up to repeated listens. (http://www.opsvikandjennings.com)
(Patrick O’Donnell)

“Honest Man” b/w “DLDD/No” 7” EP
(Rob’s House)

The Rob’s House & Douchemaster member shuffle continues. Brannon & Mike from Beat Beat Beat & Frantic swap instruments, and pick up where the underrated Frantic left off, heading down the KBD Hardcore route. The Atlanta garage element passes into DC Hardcore, like Artificial Peace plus The Mad. The garage boogie elements are gone, stripped down to 3 chords, and the vocals are barked. “Honest Man” & “DLDD” are particularly minimal, but tightly wound. “No” sounds like a sped up “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” It’s all over in a blink of the eye, and I think I could go for more, though the forthcoming lp would benefit from a little more personality in the vocal department. That demonstrative quality seems to be the one element that people don’t want to reproduce. (http://www.robshouserecords.com)

Psychic Ills
Astral Occurrence LP
(The Spring Press)

Psychic Ills have been floating around the perimeter of spectral NYC psychedelia for some time, making grand statements at the wrong time, then completely obscuring themselves with a second album Mirror Eye that successfully confused critics and met with little favor. If these four live practice space jams must be seen as a corrective, it is unfortunate, because bands should take risks and do things their fans might not get right away, if ever. And while brinksmanship with one’s audience is far from a wise idea, it can be liberating. So yeah, four-track four-tracker, sounds like Agitation Free warming up. You love this shit, and as well you should; this shit is pretty awesome, rock drone carpeting the walls with purple-green vines. 250 copies, white vinyl. (http://www.thespringpress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Puffy Areolas
In the Army 1981 LP

Three wild ‘n’ crazy guys pose for a photo in one of those houses furnished with dumpstered couches and shit from the thrift store purchased in the hopes that they will help pass the time in Toledo before happy hour. The back cover looks like someone dumped an ashtray on an already-cluttered coffee table. Puffy Areolas want you to know that at least one of their members is absolutely bonkers, and from the look and feel to their long-delayed debut album In the Army 1981 (if that’s a reference to Ivan Reitman’s “Stripes” then I’ll back it), they want you to buy not only the record, but that x-factor within. The images of Dennis Hopper (young), John Belushi (in full-tilt Blues Brothers mode), and Dallas-area lothario/larcenist Palmer Rockey are strewn about this mess, in the hopes that these figures will inspire new meaning, or maybe just add confusion to the mix. It’s all pretty tough to decipher, particularly as this band wails away in the corridor of space rock, hyper-attenuated thrash, and pin-eyed druggie bloat. There’s an overqualified rhythm section – allegedly they won over a member of the band Tyvek, who split Detroit to commune with these nutters – roiling away underneath the ministrations of “that guy,” the party dude you hoped wouldn’t come over, and his ear-splitting guitar abuse and breathless, unintelligible hollering remind you why. Fresh outta jail, he is, and headed your way for all the “hospitaliano” you’re willing to afford him, but on the trip over he’s going to serve as the ultimate distraction to a band that sounds like they might be a killer live band, but over the course of 36 LOUD minutes, they make you realize how long each one of them is when you find yourself counting them off until the whole operation just fucking offs itself, already. Their CDR singles club 7” was a belter, and dare say more memorable than anything on this one, as Army runs on fumes throughout side 2 (“Puking in Piss” adds a saxophone, so the combo can do the human centipede up Iggy’s ass for real) – anyone who hasn’t questioned their commitment to such abuse by the time “Escape from Guyana” hits its sagging middle probably has too much time on their hands anyway, or at the very least has forgotten all about the existence of Monoshock. If you work all goddamn day like I do, the last thing you want is to be browbeaten by the very things you use to sustain your existence. Puffy Areolas can’t be expected to care, so why should you? (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Shit & Shine
“Bass Puppy” b/w “Fuck You Folk Singers” 12”
(Badmaster/Suicide Tax)

$&$ mines deeper into electro territory than ever before with these two new tracks. Of course the groove is there, but the charge of guitars and cock-rock riffage are gone, here replaced with slow, cone-shredding bass loops for half of “Bass Puppy” and all of “Fuck You Folk Singers.” Both tracks create a very heavy, phased out pulse, sounding like the Miami version of the Butthole Surfers guesting with that noisy A/C unit in my hotel room in Memphis last week. “Bass Puppy” takes some unfortunate steps towards breakcore, but thankfully does not cross the threshold. It’s a weird record to jam out to, but if your skull is in the right place, you will understand. Plus, “Fuck You Folk Singers” – jesus, what a name. What a wit. $hit & $hine remains one of the most intriguing noises in the free world. (http://www.badmasterrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Society Nurse
Junk Existence 7” EP
(Iron Lung)

Kinda new from the Iron Lung/Walls camp, here’s Society Nurse, four piece hardcore that borrows from Flag, the Fix, and maybe Die Kreuzen, but updates the sound with a good ear towards pop songwriting – despite the fury of the tempo and the agitation of the music, the riffs are never forgotten. “Junk Existence” is a slower, heavier, somewhat more tricked-out approach, the super-aggro conjoined twin of Kim Phuc’s brooding, rock-oriented take on the same. The B-sides are fast ragers and the whole thing has pretty gnarly lyrics like “rock of shit floating/in an astral septic tank.” Quality record by a band looking to make an impact in as few steps as possible, which is a fun game to play. 800 spoken-for copies in a pretty elaborate package (obi strip, pro-printed mini-LP jacket, insert). (http://lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

State Champion
Stale Champagne LP
(Sophomore Lounge)

This LP comes in a heavy gatefold jacket and inner sleeve lavishly presenting the sort of amateur landscape photography that gives a distinct “Midwest emo” impression, in the late-90’s sense. This is from Kentucky, but rather than the Get Up Kids-style lad band you’ll anticipate, instead you get a solo project of rural indie rock with a backing band. Saddle Creek is more in the ballpark and I’m not usually in the bleachers. “Thanks Given” starts things very slow and sparse, then builds steam and volume with some ear-catching electric string bending that had me hoping some Giants Chair-style calculations might break out. Nope, that guitar action is soon put to rest and instead they’ll play it safe, going through some shopworn garage-country moves. There’s some passionate, raw-throated singing, and maybe some passionate lyrics, but I’m not exactly compelled to hang on every word, especially with so many drawn out, quiet vocal sections that jump into “big” choruses, with the occasional violin and backup vocals on hand to lend sincerity and much needed variety. Way too earnest for me, but maybe Two Gallants or Lucero fans, or the producers of TV’s Justified could find some songs of use within. (http://sophomoreloungerecords.com)
(Andy Tefft)

Steel Pole Bath Tub
Unlistenable LP

No band of the post-punk era captured the acrid seizure of suburban fallout like Steel Pole Bath Tub. They captured the panic and dread of seeing something on TV that you can’t un-see, of bad news and social ills, wartime fear and sugar cereals, of derelict vans that circle our streets at night. In their nightmare world, every rock concert was Altamont; every movie was Fuller’s “Shock Corridor” mixed with Bava’s “Black Sabbath.” Marsha Brady went through the windshield of the family truckster and landed in the confines of Spahn Ranch. In their best songs, something truly ominous and horrible is happening, or is about to happen amid a greasy, caustic slick of blown-out noise and bad vibes. They weren’t the sludgiest band, nor the heaviest, but the combination of what they did and how they did it made for one of the most convincing sounds in a trajectory that extends back to post-hippie/feel-bad rock (Black Sabbath, Dust, Bloodrock, Bang), and straight into slow/heavy, weird and threatening acts like Flipper, the Butthole Surfers, and one-time labelmates the Melvins. And their use of tape loops, triggered by foot pedal into a multiplex of stacked double cassette decks, punctuated their most paranoid moments with a media-informed analogue that ratcheted the tension up even further. They played the first out-of-town show I went to (in between Killdozer and Ruby Falls at the Black Cat, May 1994), and the menace they blew out into a perfectly empty room that night has yet to be matched. They were absolutely the perfect band for the ‘90s as I knew them, and I still hold them in the highest regard.

was to be the band’s final release, but the story behind it – after years of service to independent labels, the band signed to Slash Records for a seven-album contract. As that imprint changed parent companies, so did their priorities; with their anchor acts falling away, the ‘Tub became a low-performing non-priority. The band submitted demos for the follow-up to 1995’s Scars from Falling Down. The album title summarizes what Slash reps thought of the material. What wasn’t good enough for a struggling major label imprint in the alternaboom-bust is still pretty weird, and the intervening years since the band decided to release it on CD in 2002 haven’t necessarily unpacked it all that much. Certainly we have grown back into the lo-fi hand-me-downs that were becoming passé when this music was made, but a bunch of blown-out Cars covers, a few unspecific moments of the band’s Tylenol-scare gestalt, and some strange instrumentals of film noir lounges and seasick grooves belie its brain dump construction. As a final fuck you to the music biz, it’s a little less than magical, because these guys could have really pissed them off, instead of handing in a great half of a record, and an interesting decay of the band’s progression for the other. And it was very thoughtful of Permanent to choose this record for a re-release, if for no other reason than it closes out my SPBT vinyl collection (now moving onto shirts … if you got one to get rid of, get in touch). 500 copies, first 100 on white vinyl with poster. (Parts of this were lifted from another piece I wrote on this band, which I self-published at Julian Cope’s Head Heritage website some eight years ago. Telling you this will mean you’ll look at that piece, so just bear in mind what a difference eight years can make. – Ed.) (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com) (http://www.steelpolebathtub.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Tropa Macaca
"Fazer Chuva" b/w "Fazer Sol" 7"

Here’s a tour-only single limited to 200 copies from the Portuguese duo of André Abel and Joana da Conceição. “Fazer Chuva” (Google Translation is giving me “Make Rain”) is a bit on the slight side, feeling like a dub version of a song that doesn’t exist. It’s based around a synth repetition that’s occasionally tinkered with by adding clicking percussive noises and various effects – all well and good, except the original kernel of sound isn’t especially compelling. “Fazer Sol” is more expansive, with a warped synth melody and something approaching an actual rhythm that sounds like someone chopped and screwed the “bossa nova” preset on a Casio. Based on their prior efforts, Tropa Macaca is definitely a band to watch, if you can vibe with their peculiar style of sun-bleached and salt-faded beachside kosmiche. But this one is probably for completists only. (http://www.myspace.com/tropamacaca)
(Patrick O’Donnell)

Roman Holiday 2xLP/7”
(DOM America)

Here’s to the libertines, eh? Deluxe vinyl reissue of Ultra’s 1997 CD of the same name, given the business: over an album’s worth of compilation, singles, and unreleased tracks appended, in effect blowing out the impact of a very dense and troubling record to a level of mournful introspection rarely achieved in the noise/taboo timeline. Roman Holiday alone is a visceral lashing of steaming male frustration, made by people who give the impression that they’ve turned a corner few dare to approach.

The uncalculated, everyday volume of masculine anger released by the populace is given a strange new voice by the men who made this record, one which both highlights its overtones of power and dread, and underscores the utter ridiculousness of it all. Wah abuse has rarely been captured in such a telling manner, and the sex dungeon beats of “Doll Rally” are like staring into the dark, waiting for something to attack you. To scream the lyrics of “I Can’t Stand a Bitchy Chick” behind carsick electronics and abrasive, cyclical bursts of noise, is only funny if you think there’s a joke to be in on, and if that’s the case, it’s the most dangerous interpretation of all – though for most, laughter is an acceptable response. Our nerves do that to us. Listen to it alone and you will feel the slump hit you, a blow to your self-control. That’s power. That’s provocative. That’s also somewhat unpleasant, but this music may have been made to draw the beast out of the male ego, and feels so unctuous at spots than many people would gladly run across the room to change the record. Certainly there were points – particularly in the Ted Bundy worship of “A Letter of Introduction” – that sickened me outright. It’s a valid emotional response to something so base and abusive, but the fact that Ultra plays the backing track of soundtrack violins and tape-spliced fear for its intended shock value as well, the interpretation that allows the laughter to cut through the seriousness of the read is there. You may not want to know someone whose voice sounds like that, and who utters these words, but if you did, how funny would it be if he sounded like this hysterical funboy?

This becomes more of a conundrum for the listener who sits in for what comes before and after, particularly the drone-based tracks that make up most of the bonus material. Here, Ultra’s skills in wringing tears out of the dishrag are laid plain. Ambience has rarely been so achingly gorgeous, and it’s in this way that the group proves they have far, far more on the agenda than making you nervous, or of people questioning why something like this is in your home. If TG fucked with decency ‘til it got sick, and Coil let it fester without treatment, Ultra squeezes the infected area until it bursts, proudly oozing forth in a defiant blaze of self-immolation, and it’s only the brave who’ll follow them into quarantine. Fortunately, the people who made this record seem smart enough to escape the piercing, painful one-trick-ponyism of Whitehouse or the Brainbombs (two shockers which the sicklings, who’ll probably miss, have been sweating so hard for some time), and express themselves with an elegance wielded both as a product of restoring beauty through sadness, and as the ultimate faceturn.

Transposing these sentiments to music is neither easy nor acceptable in polite society, so the fact that Ultra gives itself carte blanche to personalize these goings-on with such wild and fruiting abandon, a hat trick that few noise/ambient acts could ever pull off to this measure of success. The easily offended will be better off not knowing this record exists, and the boutique pressing of 500 copies (including a single of outtakes from their Zoll album) will guarantee its obscurity, but as the side three label states, “Ultra offers you a listening experience of unparalleled refinement and sensitivity, and often a great deal less.” This is as fair a self-evaluation as can be told, so I’m gonna leave you to it. (http://dom-america.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Practically Dead LP

Debut long-player from Vancouver’s (Still Single’s official punk city) Vapid, two years after their only single “Do the Earthquake.” Two years between records in today’s punk market is an eternity. They’ve taken time to develop their songwriting chops from a basic snotty garage attack to something a little more substantial. Like many of their citymates Vapid is effective as capturing a moment of music past with fresh eyes. Practically Dead channels that early Lookout Records Riot Grrl sound, sounding like a singles-era Kathleen Hannah, fronting a more aggro Cub. It diverges with the Bikini Kill comparison with the songs remaining mostly poppy despite bursting with profanity and threats. It’s more unapologetic than political. Katie’s voice is a perfect blend of bubblegum and spite, with “Septic” opening with her snarling like a cat then moves into “Death of Youth” which is Ramones influenced girl pop perfection. Caroline’s walking bass lines pulls a lot of weight, which can make or break the chord heavy garage bands. Practically Dead would have benefited from a little editing, including the double speed retake of their single’s “Do The Earthquake” which loses all it’s swing. However hearing her howl “you fucking cunt-hole bitch” gives me the impression they could care less. 500 copies on clear for Records Nominal, 500 on Black/White for Deranged. (http://www.recordsnominal.com) (http://www.derangedrecords.com)

Wet Illustrated
“Born Stoked” b/w “Flying” 7”
(Corvette City)

Pulling the covers off yet another mystery release, Wet Illustrated is a project for one of the guys from the band Photobooth, who sent in one single so good I had to track down another myself. They might be playing as a duo – members are currently squatting on the monikers Garbage Dog and Bobby Milkshake, even though (and likely because) they likely pay taxes every year and are required to be someplace outside of home 30-50 hours a week – but the sound here is energetic and joyous, certainly not something to hide behind. “Born Stoked” grabs the “Teenage Riot” riff and really makes you think about the droning chord behind that entire track, how settling it is, and how much more exuberant that one sound can make two-and-a-half-minute Romper Room pop into the stuff of recent legend. “Flying” is cool too; nobody here is backing down from their sweater-wearing indie pop roots. 300 copies in a pro-printed pocket sleeve. (http://corvettecity.tumblr.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Various Artists

These days, it’s very rare for compilations to hold my attention, unless they’re filled with sidelong Afrobeat jams. Knowing absolutely nothing about Æsjo, or the Escho label that released it, my apprehension towards reviewing it was high, until I actually gave it a spin, and my apprehension turned to dread. Presumably filled with Danish artists, the record begins with songs that reside somewhere between lush pastoralism akin to Morr Music releases from a decade ago, and fart noise wackiness a la DAT Politics. Then, abruptly, a fiercely lame rock song (“Kimberly Shyboy” by KloAK – yes the mis-capitalizations are intentional) that sounds like a throwback to the great major label grunge signing sweepstakes of the early 1990s, makes an appearance, and the mood changes from “whimsical but tolerable” to “just plain bad.” A Six Organs of Admittance rip-off and some other jointless messes finish off side A, and the flip doesn’t redeem the session, as the wackiness continues with some sub-Gang Gang Dance nonsense and gets worse from there. Still, the packaging is fairly nice, as it comes with 32-piece “memory game,” ironic in that the comp is not that memorable. (http://www.escho.net)
(Joel Hunt)

Various Artists
My Estrogeneration
(Not Not Fun)

The title is a groaner, but with My Estrogeneration the minds behind the Not Not Fun label have come up with a sampling of female noise artists and turned it into a quality compilation. The track order is a little fuzzy based on the packaging (hint: the tracklisting on the insert goes clockwise) but the opening track is unmistakably Zola Jesus (lo-fi 2009 version). “Heaven Sold You Back to Earth” marries an aggressive drum machine pattern to her buried croon – the somewhat trite Siouxsie comparisons she draws are justified, both singers have a real sense of mystery and allure that comes through in their vocals. Pocahaunted’s “Hands of Alice” is an interlude that sounds like damaged exotica straight out of a bizarre nature film (or perhaps the Pee Wee’s Playhouse soundtrack). Inca Ore and Tickley Feather also both contribute tracks to the a-side that will appeal to those who enjoyed their previous work. Over on the flip Talk Normal starts things off with some processed moans and percussion that sounds like a dirty run-out groove and includes something akin to an ultra lo-fi version of the breakdown in “Fool in the Rain.” Listeners haven’t heard much from Finland’s Islaja in a while, but the lone international act on this LP steps up with something much more electronic- and new wave-influenced than her previous releases may lead to you expect. The L.A. Vampires track is a highlight, it’s a short and sweet piece of fractured digital dub with ethereal female vocals. Honey Owens wraps things up with a Valet track that does what she does best – stretch out, burn one, and get cosmic. “Thirteenth Time” sublimates some of the new agey sounds that are all the rage right now into something reminiscent of late ‘70s Roedelius, and it’s a treat (especially for those of us who weren’t able to get our hands on a copy of her Mexican Summer 12”). In the wake of last year’s XXperiments comp, it’s really cool to see that the current underground experimental/noise community can support another compilation focused on female artists without too much overlap (Zola Jesus and US Girls make appearances on both). (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Patrick O’Donnell)


Yours must be a single (or vinyl-only album) pressed on any size of vinyl. We will not review CD-R copies of a vinyl release – you need to send the vinyl itself, even if it includes a CD. We need the artifact here with original artwork, not some duplicate/digital copy. Only records released within the past six months will qualify for a review.

ANY genre of music is accepted for review. Do not be afraid.

Information on your pressing (quantity pressed, color vinyl, etc.) should be included if at all possible.

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Doug Mosurock
PO Box 3087
New York, NY 10185-3087

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