Dusted Features

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 7

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Dusted Features

In this edition of must-read raves and rips from Mosurock and crew, check out new releases from Bestial Mouths, Apache Dropout and Double Negative.

Still Single: Vol. 7, No. 7

Angels in America
Narrow Road to the Interior LP

Baltimore’s spin on the witch house/cough syrup/monster magazine conversation going on in modern underground music plays off more like a diorama to one’s possessions, mostly the cast-offs of others, gathered in thrift stores and flea markets and eBay, and the composite effect these items have on building personality. There’s a behind-the-scenes horror movie motif going on to the elements of this release, which doubles down hard on the disaffected/disembodied low ambient ruin rumble and lost ghost girl wander vox, somehow accomplishing the feat of vaguely altering the mood for the precise instant the music is playing, and not a second longer. Turn this record down or off, and the spirits vanish. They were never there to begin with! The funny thing about using horror movie makeup and modeling as a metaphor is that it doesn’t work. Those things were invented as a medium to represent horror, and there’s definitely nothing scary to pin this one on, unless your prom date has that sort of withering acne that turns your face white and ruins your life. After two full listens, I’m left with very little to grasp, other than the fact that these two people (Merv and Moppy! Really!) probably want me to feel all spooked out. But they’re not Spagett, and this record doesn’t provide me with the dread I need to change my mind. Rarely do records sound both unfinished and scam-like the way this one does. (http://ehserecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Anita Fix & Bam Bam
“Run for Joy” b/w “20 Second Bugs” 7”
(Ride the Snake)

Anita Fix, along with The Working Poor, have been the noms de musique of Allen Lewandowski for some time (late of Dead at 24, whose Blast Off Motherfucker LP was released by Ride the Snake as well), and a rotating cast of Pittsburgh-Rickety incorporated musicians. These two tracks were recorded live in concert across a few years, in a small room in Pittsburgh and a basement in Erie, somewhat in the style of the D@24 material, at least in spirit. The lyrics and incongruent arrangements charge ahead in service of warped individualism, two blasted, jagged art-rock songs (think Pere Ubu meets Half Japanese, or given the band’s NWPA connections, perhaps Tripod Jimmie in place of PU) that would fit in the continuum anytime between 1983 and now. Labels are reversed on my copy. Not many of these around. (http://www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Apache Dropout
“Shot Down” b/w “Sister Burnout” 7”
(Trouble in Mind)

Apache Dropout’s full-length has been sitting near the top of the heap for me this year. I listen to it whenever possible, stunned that a garage band could move me the way that they have. New releases can’t come quickly enough, so there’s this single, recorded on their spring tour while in Austin, ready to fill the gap. “Shot Down” begins and ends like you’ve been miniaturized and placed inside a rock tumbler, so loud and forceful and red-raw are the elements that comprise its sound. Booming bass, simple drum patterns, and enough green fog atmosphere to make it difficult for you to drive for a few hours afterwards. It breaks down into fragile guitar beauty for the mid-section, a touch I thought might be beyond this band, but everyone gets to grow a little sometimes. The important thing is, they haven’t gone soft, and flipside “Sister Burnout” stomps along like the best tracks from their LP, making for the most successful bridging of true dementia past with all the right moves since the Cheater Slicks (also still active, also still raging) lit up in the late ‘80s. I think a lot of people will be able to find connections between the Dropout boogie and the music made by Thee Oh Sees, but since I refuse to acknowledge that band anymore, Still Single is gonna ride with these Hoosier derelicts from here on out. First press on mixed swirl colored vinyl with download code. I think we scared off Trouble in Mind at the outset with some deserved harshness, but if this is the kind of band they’re courting these days, I’m ready to make amends. Maybe. (http://www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Art Museums
“S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G.” b/w “Feel Like Dreams” 7”

I guess ‘80s synth pop is back in style? San Francisco’s Art Museums wears the costume convincingly with these two short songs on this 7”. It’s a successful exercise in that genre down to the plinky keyboard tones, dinky drum machine beats, synthetic hand claps, and glib lyrics delivered, as expected, in a faux-British accent. The tracks’ diminutive lengths make them feel more like sneak previews of full-length works to come than proper songs. That this left me wanting more, both in terms of length and production value, is a testament to Art Museums’ happy knack for creating engaging melodies. That it left me wishing it was far freakier reflects a pitfall of emulating a received style that itself was predicated on naivety and nascence (both of technology and style), in that having the sophistication to successfully pull it off strips away the bizarre qualities that made this slice of music history so interesting. Kitsch without the camp is just bad art. That said, these songs are pretty fun (even the slightly darkwave “Feel Like Dreams” seems cheerful) and I can’t but help but think that people with sunnier personalities than mine will enjoy this. (http://www.yakamashirecords.net)
(Ariella Stok)

Atelier Méditerranée
Méditerranée 7” EP
(Bruit Direct)

Members of Cheveu organized this recording with a group of mentally handicapped children, but before you can say Reynols (oh, go ahead and say it anyway), the end result of placing these kids in front of synthesizers and microphones precipitates an avant-garde tonic as bracing as you can hope. “Méditerranée” is like a high tension line snapped loose and whipping around the proximity, a bramble of guitar delay, percussion both live and digital, swarming keyboards, a high pressure atmosphere of effects, and a choir of shapeless, menacing voices. “Flunch” starts off with the ring of a synthesizer and some curious French vocalizing, but soon dissipates in a haze of industrial key pound and tantrum-like excess. “Artena” closes the record with droning, bent church organs that quickly lose their very form against vocals from the group and a communal, agitated descent down the drain hole of drone and irrational, spontaneous musicianship. I wish more singles that came through here were as interesting as this one, and credit must be passed – again – to labels like Bruit-Direct, who have never chosen the smoother path as to what they release to the world. Outstanding, densely (dis)organized music for enthusiasts of LIFE itself. (http://bruit-direct.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

“Reborn ! Reborn” b/w “Love: The Word is Spoken” 7”
Awaken! (artist Jesse Rakusin and whatever he’s got in his system at the time) sent this one in with a bunch of press clippings that use the word “psychedelic” in some form about six times altogether, so we’re not gonna go there. He also produced a single with shrinkwrap on it, which is a big turn-off. Dude, you’re a young guy and an independent musician – stuff the 7” sleeves yourself. The cover art collage and general “too much” vibes of the package nearly sent me packin’, but guess what: dude is legit. This is pretty far outside whatever most folks already consider to be an “outsider stance” for music, more along the lines of barely coherent hippie outside of a Canned Heat concert at some civic auditorium, playing bongos on the lid of a car’s trunk and ranting extemporaneously, and never making it into the show, instead being dragged away by local cops for public urination or something easy like that. Rakusin can’t really sing, and doesn’t have much of an interest for playing guitar in rhythm or key, but there’s something about this record that drew me into it, a method to aberrant sounds that makes sense in the tangled presence of this one breathin’ down your neck. I’m loathe to make the Royal Trux comparison; Jandek might be more appropriate, though Rakusin seems more interested in motion rather than stumbling, the natural high instead of the harsher, bath salts sorta hang. Either way, he’s tapped into the void, rappin’ and blastin’ all the way down into the nervous system of ‘60s anti-establishment rock ‘n’ folk. Dark blue marbled vinyl. (http://www.awakeninadream.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

“Edita V” b/w “Cave” 7”
(Double Phantom)

Recipients of the Darwin Award for feature music journalism as a subject, Atlanta “buzz band” Balkans shoot for musical expediency and a familiar focus. Both of these tracks could dead ring for Walkmen demos by the end, the band leaning heavily on reverberating, surf-laced guitars, pistoning rhythm section, and a big galoot up on vocals who gets the doe-eyed choruses right but sounds pensive and out of tune everywhere else. If you need your rock music in the revivalist style (Gang of Four to the Strokes, solve for x), these guys will do it for you. My guess, however, is that they will be forgotten outside of the region and Internet ventures that scour the Web for content and then make the recipients pay for it. Whatever direction rock ‘n’ roll should go in, this isn’t it. This isn’t even close! (http://doublephantomrecords.tumblr.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys
“Nobody Else” b/w “Help” 7”
(R.I.P. Society)

They’re three handsome young guys from Sydney who play hopeless romantic rock music, seemingly, with all they’ve got. Vocals sound torn raw from the throat in that sort of craggy/smoker sorta way that Blake Schwarzenbach or Paul Westerberg, with both songs running on the truer side of power pop as it folds away from precious moments and into rock ‘n’ roll itself. Both tracks here are great, their original met admirably by a cover of the Apartments’ “Help.” So, then. WHY IS THEIR BAND CALLED BED WETTIN’ BAD BOYS? DO THEY WANT ANYONE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THEM ON WHATEVER LEVEL OF MERIT YOU OFFER? BECAUSE IT IS NOT DOING THEM ANY FAVORS TO WALK AROUND WITH A NAME THIS OFF-PUTTING. Confidential to these guys (who’ve coincidentally had a rough go of booking shows in the USA, or so I’ve been told): so few bands have a worthwhile gift to offer the world. If you got ‘em, don’t obscure them with a name this bad. Don’t wreck your one shot for an in-joke no one possibly wants to understand. And please PLEASE ask a number of people what the best name for your band should be. Give them some selections and take a popular vote. It’s obvious you can’t be trusted to come up with more than the music itself. With your current track record, you guys might re-emerge as The Rectal Polyps. (http://ripsocietyrecords.tumblr.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bestial Mouths
Hissing Veil LP

In one clear, arcing shot, Los Angeles trio Bestial Mouths throws the spear of destiny through the perfumed aura and elaborate posture of high Goth, and the horrific, gutter-birthed shock of the slimiest death rock, fusing the two together into a lurid, ghastly tempest of intensified emotions and raw animal heat. Wailing, screaming vocals (courtesy of siren Lynette Cerezo, channeling a deep and unhealed sorrow) straighten out into passionate, near-operatic mantras, while drummer Ebrahim Saleh and synth/sampler operator Christopher Myrick wall up an urgency and fire behind her, a variety of annihilating sounds and a barrage of drumming that regards both Gravity sweater-core like Antioch Arrow and the miserable scrape of the first Christian Death album as equals in their tormented worldview. This could have easily gone south with the maudlin sappiness that the genre is often eager to characterize, but the significant punk/HC heat and sheer malevolence of the delivery across these 14 songs makes a huge difference in how this band stands far and wide away from much of the contenders and false, category-bending attempts at young mystery. Bestial Mouths sound less like the soundtrack to some straight-to-DVD horror junk and more like actual horror; rituals being performed in your disservice. Life is getting worse and you might as well hitch a ride with a winner like this on your way down to the bottom. 500 copies, clear vinyl, excellent record. (http://www.daisrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bird’s Mile Home
s/t LP
(Minor Bird)

Look, this just isn’t for me. Heart-on-sleeve folk-punk in any permutation will not abide. That’s exactly what this is. Promo material that came with Bird’s Mile Home’s record and the other releases on Minor Bird depict a scattered ideal of rock music based around friends and passion and Montana and dreams of running a label. Far be it for me to shit on those dreams, but few would argue that this music really needed to get out of the Big Sky country. It’s fine on a local level, and for people who can’t get enough Against Me! or Lucero (and that cross-section of people who can’t often see those bands due to their living in Montana), but most of my readers don’t want that. I hope. 524 numbered copies, labor of love, etc. Heart’s in the right place, intent is pure, and the like. NOT FOR ME. THANKS. (http://minorbirdrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Blank Realm
“Hey Little Child” one-sided 7”
(Negative Guest List)

Disassociative rockers from down in Brisbane, Blank Realm are given the challenge by the Neg Guest List people to cover a song for a “jukebox” single; hence, this unsurprising read of Alex Chilton’s “Hey Little Child.” This is about as strait-laced a Blank Realm song as I’ve heard, holding on to Chilton’s original intent for most of the song before devolving into a mash-all-the-keys organ rave up towards the end. Just putting that out there. Do what you want with this info. (http://negativeguestlist.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Blue Sausage Infant
Negative Space LP
(Zero Moon)

Electronic music with a beat (be it the Krauty autobahn riddim of the title track, or the plodding digital exhalations of sidelong “Motion Parallax”) from a DC-area musician whose repertoire extends from synths to bulbul tarang to electroc toothbrush and plastic teeth. He’s joined on guitar by Insect Factory’s Jeff Barsky and a couple of other locals to help the run-up with these three extended pieces. Drone, jammed-up electro Goth fetishism and even space rock get taken for a spin as part of bandleader Chester Hawkins’ double-wide worldview. I prefer the two tracks on side B, maybe out of familiarity, mostly out of what Hawkins and co. are able to do with it. Can’t say I’m not grossed out by the name Blue Sausage Infant, but that’s the price I gotta pay. 180g clear vinyl in a full-color sleeve, nice job. (http://www.zeromoon.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Bone Sickness
“Exhume” b/w “Post-Mortem Perversion” 7”

I had to go to Texas to get this record, and I didn’t even get to see Bone Sickness play. How do you like that? Debut single from an Olympia death-n-roll outfit, all storming, mechanized wehrmacht and skin-splitting atmosphere. “Exhume” locks down hard on hard-shell riffs and phlegm-coated death growl, but “Post-Mortem Perversion” showcases their thrash sensibilities to a far greater purpose and success. The rhythm section of drummer Mitch Martin and bassist Sam Osborne (yes, Buzzo’s nephew) powers what I understand to be a rotating cast of guitarists; the ones who play here (named Anthony and Rusty) kick into some strange, whinnying, high-necked noise soloing on “Perversion” that shows these guys aren’t thinking like all the other metal bands out there right now. At just under five minutes altogether, there’s more ideas, and successful execution of them, in these two songs than in a strong 95% of what’s out there today. Do what you have to in order to score this single. 500 copies. (http://www.detestrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Los Buddies
“Moon Bars” b/w “RKO” 7”
(Buddy Brand)

Los Buddies seems to be the kind of band that doesn’t make an immediate impression until you put the record on, and get a sense for how much ownership they extend over the starry-eyed fervor their music gives off. There are SO MANY bands angling for the power pop crown, but these guys deserve it – songs like these need spirit, which they have the most of, and such are instilled with the sort of recreational bliss you’d hope for. They don’t sound all used up, and they have been careful to release only their best material (I’m assuming) thus far. They’re from Mississippi and they deserve your attention, especially from you garage and p-pop purists. Gray marbled vinyl. (http://www.myspace.com/losbuddies)
(Doug Mosurock)

Can Can Heads
Kusisessions Vol. 2 7” EP

RIDICULOUS skronkin’ rock from this Finnish band, who’ve been at it for about two decades. They got to slug it out with all the Bad Vugum and Trash Can bands like Circle and Deep Turtle when those records were being imported into the States back in the ‘90s, so some listeners with good memories will remember the name. By “session” it means recorded in the studio of the Kissankusi label (Vol. 1 was a Kyklooppien Sukupuutto 7”, which any of you could just send to me, you know … no big deal …), and while this one sounds pretty raw and trebly, the force at which these guys swing is not lost on me, or perhaps you. Maybe you can look past the saxophone jammin’ – to be sure, I don’t really care either way, but some of you are … sensitive to jazz – but it’s a big part of two of the three tracks here. “Short Face Man” is a short, grunting little prog instrumental with horns behaving badly. “Hot Albert Meat” is a sustained torrent of distorted guitar riffing and cymbal ride underneath soulful, Ayler-esque sax serenading, and later, some operatic male vocals. It’s bookended by Luttenbachers-style jazz violence. “Salmonella River” plays against type as a surfy little pop number with keyboards. Put down that NY Post and apply yourself. 314 copies, each with a Michael Jackson sticker. (http://www.kissankusi.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Che Chen
“Pulaski Wave (Violin Halo)” b/w “Newtown Creek Mirror Lag” 7”
(Pilgrim Talk)

Four years ago the True Primes put out a rather winning hunk of clatter-rock, but it’s taken until now to know what the story was with their name. Turns out Che Chen, who was in the True Primes and currently plays with Jozef Van Wissem and Robbie Lee in Heresy Of The Free Spirit, is a tuning nerd. These two tracks are all about the numbers; both pieces originated in tuning ratios, and both sides throb repetitively for so long that they have to spin at 33 1/3. “Pulaski Wave” is the purer effort, composed solely of a violin wailing in the best Tony Conrad/Henry Flynt style. Sine waves and tape loops make “Newtown Creek Mirror Lag” the choogler of the two, with pulsing rhythms and little feedback leaks squeaking out past that Theatre Of Eternal Music wall of sound. Sometimes just intonation means just right, and this is one of those times. Three hundred copies, black vinyl. (http://www.pilgrimtalk.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Silver 7”

Part of a series of singles that match an avant-garde/noise/dark artist with a color, then requires them to write music in the essence of that color. If that wasn’t enough, it’s a new Cindytalk record. Well, partly new: there’s a new remix of Gordon Sharp’s 2003 single “Transgender Warrior” by Silverymoon, who/which/what lays out some of the clearest melodies in a Cindytalk record since he abandoned the earlier styles for brittle sculptures of noise and filtered sound. And the B-side is from 2006, but that’s hardly relevant. New Cindytalk record! This guy totally rules and you really ought to check out his entire body of work. Even if you’ve had enough Pita in your diet, think of this one as the hummus you need to finish. Sorry, Gordon. I’m in your corner. Silver vinyl, 300 copies. (http://www.touretterecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Coitus Int.
Dead Excitement 7” EP

Early punk reissue from a Utrecht band of college kids (at the time – 1980 when this was made) who sound really eager to drink and challenge the wits of the unarmed, and play some intellectual/better-than-you kind of jittery scrape that’s of a piece with most of the Dutch punk scene I’ve heard from that era. They remind at points of a less dance-oriented Gang of Four, eager to play a riff until it cries uncle and do some spiteful narration atop of it, before kicking into some more melodic, wavo-minded rock. Unassuming at first, the five-to-six songs here get more exciting with repeat spins, particularly the B-side offerings “Trap Questions” and “Dry Up Soon.” For the seasoned, hey, one more drop of Everclear in a big tub full of Hawaiian Punch, but if this is the band that makes you want to play music, by all means, follow that dream. (http://bunkerpop.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

John Wesley Coleman III
Little Miss Keith Richards LP
John Wesley Coleman III/Gary Stewart
split 7”
(Sophomore Lounge)

As frontman of the Golden Boys, JWC the Third has shown real knowledge about making some ramshackle but endearing garage records in recent years. This solo outing might top them all in terms of looseness of concept and possible loss of sanity. Coleman is a howling nutjob for most of the record, pulling off a one-two punch at the outset (the rollicking, if taped-together riffage of “On a Bus” and a respectable Roky impression on “Sleeping in a Dog’s Bed”), but eventually spoiling most of the goodwill that a strong riff can generate through affected, drunken antics. If you make it through his spirited but inept cover of Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” then you are probably a prime candidate for the nonsense of “Ding Dong Songwriter,” wherein Coleman declares a bunch of respected musicians before him to be “gay,” with the exception of Johnny Cash, and an abysmal cover of “Tequila” that closes it out. I suppose you could play a drinking game with this one, where you do a shot every few minutes and see if this one makes any more sense by the time it’s over. Most likely you won’t remember a thing, and from the sound of it, Coleman doesn’t either. He fares a bit better on the split 7”, where he does his own take on country singer Gary Stewart’s late ‘70s heartbreaker “Ramona.” Though it’s more sincere than anything else on his own album, it crumbles like laundry soap against Stewart’s original, and perhaps putting these two together on the same record doesn’t do Coleman any favors. Gary Stewart all the way though, may his troubled soul find peace. (http://www.daggermanrecords.com) (http://sophomoreloungerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Summer Jam 10” EP
(We Buy Gold)

First off, Cookies, you don’t get to name the summer jam, even if you try to jump the turnstiles by naming your single “Summer Jam.” The summer jam is chosen by the general population. And I don’t think they are going to go for your wack fuckin’ MGMT/Ratatat little buster-ass electroinnocuous photocopy pop. Not even the Gamble/Huff hook lifted for the chorus is saving this one, though it’s the only thing I sort of remembered after it left. “Throw a Parade” is even worse, and their bonus beat which closes this thing out is marginally worthwhile if you put it up to 45 and let it roll in between, like, Daft Punk and Phoenix. I think this record got lost on the way to some ad agency and ended up in my pile instead. Sad, really. Someone could have used this to sell a car. (http://www.cookiesltd.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Amelia Cuni & Werner Durand
Already Awake in the Night LP

Vocalist Cuni, trained in Northern India and here performing in the dhrupad style of singing, and electronic musician Durand, an associate of Arnold Dreyblatt’s, perform Hindu spirituals which cast a long and inviting shadow. They’re joined on two of these three tracks by David Trasoff on the sarod, a traditional stringed instrument, its lonely string-bent plucks dotting the landscape of sine waves tuned to the raag and pushing the direction of the music in darker, more alien directions. At first I was given to fears that this was going to be assaultive along the lines of that Ghedelia Tazartes LP, but those fears were quickly dispatched, the long-form pieces cutting wide and gentle swaths into a landscape of uncertainty and melancholy. Beautiful record for those with the patience to appreciate it. 250 numbered copies. (http://www.iniitu.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Date Palms
“Honey Devash” b/w “Honey Dune” 12”
(Mexican Summer)

This record is big enough, long enough, and pricy enough to be an album, but it feels like a single. There’s only one track per side, and while the duo of Gregg Kowalsky (who has made two solo CDs for Kranky) and Marielle Jakobsons (of Myrmyr and Darwinsbitch) do nothing to sully their unassailable drone cred here, these are definitely tunes. “Honey Devash” starts out light-headed and low in the saddle, sidling in with some woozy oscillations and a bluesy violin slur. Then an ultra-simple drum machine groove not too removed from “Trans-Europ-Express” turns over as hesitantly as someone with a hangover slipping out of an unfamiliar bed and the jam, such as it is, begins, and fuzz bass and electric piano braid together to form a melody so languid you want to tell it to put a robe on. “Honey Dune” takes some of the same elements and slows them down even more, then lofts a heavily echoed flute and some undulating tanpura over the top for maximum alpha wave stimulation. It would not reflect well on most records if you fell asleep when they were on; for this one, it’d be high praise. Black vinyl, 500 copies. (http://www.mexicansummer.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Les Demoniaques
“Teenage Lust” 7” cardboard flexi
(True Panther Sounds)

West Coast sirens Dee Dee Penny (Dum Dum Girls) and Tamaryn reveal a bond for ‘90s Jesus & Mary Chain with a cover of the second track from Honey’s Dead. Really, were you surprised? They remove most of the original’s drive, pulling away the pulsing rhythm, and leaving behind little more than a pulse – heavily reverbed guitar and bass, some beautiful vocals (as you might expect), and a deflating sense of purpose. Vast improvements in sound technology over the past fifty years has not done much for the medium of plastic-coated paper stock with grooves cut into them. Surface noise aplenty. This l’il fact of the fabric is offset by a picture of boobs (naked, natch) and stuffed in a screened poly bag to obscure that image for family-minded retailers, or anyone who might be shocked or offended by this. It also comes with an MP3 download code so you can listen to this one without all the artificial fuzz. I’m not sure you’ll listen more than once, if that, but who knows. Just confirming that this thing exists. One cover song on a piece of postcard with boobs on it. Might I recommend the last Dum Dum Girls EP, or Tamaryn’s The Waves instead? (http://www.truepanthersounds.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Don Dietrich/Ben Hall
Spitfire LP
(What The…)

Ah, this is more like it. Free jazz skronk duo of Dietrich, unmoored from the bell of Jim Sauter’s sax, and “Hell” Hall on drums. Violent blasts of circular, jagged, left-hand-path saxophone and reckless percussion on three long, improvised pieces guaranteed to remind you of where you stand with this sort of thing. To come clean, it has been a really long time since I’ve heard any jazz approaching this level of red-faced anger and intensity, and it is truly refreshing. Go, men, go. Bust a vein for Ayler’s ghost. Highly recommended if for no other reason than to cleanse your palette from all the smoothness on display in today’s world o’ music. Bottom line: if something strips paint this efficiently, imagine what it’ll do to your head. (http://brokenresearch.bandcamp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Double Negative
Hardcore Confusion Vol. 1 7”
Hardcore Confusion Vol. 2 7”
(Sorry State)

After finally catching Double Negative at Chaos in Tejas, twice – the second set leapfrogging in intensity over the first, which was already in the top percentile of HC/punk bands playing the fest – I was fully committed to their status as The Best Hardcore Band Currently Active in America. Hell, they even held their own against Kriegshog, even if -/-’s singer didn’t launch a half-empty beer directly into Killedbyjeff’s chest while they were playing. The combined resumes and years of punk experience between the three veterans in the group (now playing with a new drummer, the guy from Brain F≠ from what I’ve been told, who’s some 15 years the junior of his new bandmates) allows Double Neg to traverse a lot of directions that most modern HC bands, eager to follow the scripts provided by their early ‘80s progenitors, would have a hard and unconvincing time of pulling off. None of these four songs provided any sense of direction in terms of where they’d end up from their tangled beginnings, but each of them jams a full agenda of ideas and left turns into a very compact space, and the results are like angry ants swarming out of their hills, organized but unpredictable, unpleasant but fascinating. The layman would argue that they are the second coming of Drive Like Jehu, but they’re much more hectic and wound up than that, sound going off in eight different directions at once but somehow still able to focus on their end result: here, HC Confusion, and nothing less. The group’s local-oriented stance and disinterest in touring/getting bigger might frustrate some, but when you get as far as these guys have, writing your own rules is par for the course. I meant it when I said these guys were the best America’s got right now, and I might be able to extend that to this side of the Earth. They are unparalleled in what they do and how they execute it, and these two singles kick off a four-part series in which the cover art and lyric inserts will form the band’s logo. I’m still having trouble with processing just how intense these guys were live, and with these new singles, Double Negative gives me even more to mull over, though I’d recommend not trying to think too hard about these ones and just grab them before they’re gone. Spot varnished sleeves, orange marbled vinyl and download cards included, but most importantly, they are developing their sound even further, becoming brutally efficient and forceful with a high degree of complexity in their sound. They don’t trip up on themselves. (http://www.sorrystaterecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Dreams
Morbido LP
(Kill Shaman)

It’s like New Age Thursday over here, and no signs of it letting up until I get past this stack of LPs sent in that all ply the synth/drone/higher consciousness angle. This example comes from Paris, a co-ed duo tagging each bare wall in the space for such music, but still coming out as an aggressively French post-politipunk/cabaret response to Peaking Lights’ supremely stoned oscillations in the end. The woman in the group has a satisfying, Siouxsie-esque shriek to her voice, and the group’s musical base – in dub, South African post-punk (lots of constructed ideals here a la Kalahari Surfers), and the current triangular thought processes of those riding the synth-wave and symbol-caning spirit of young disaffection – stirs the pot well, but this has been done very recently, and a little better at that. Not bad, but from the hyperbole I heard about these folks, it doesn’t quite match up. (http://killshaman.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Eagle Boys
Kambalda 7” EP
(Negative Guest List)

Punk and requisite after-effects from a group of Australian ex-pats living in London. The band appears to be out of commission at this point, which is a shame as this is one of the better offerings I’ve come across in a while. They drive pretty hard, mimicking ’76 punk but coming out somewhere between the surf-borne tension of Agent Orange and the default aggression of a nth-gen competitor like Hot Snakes. This works on the first track “Kambalda,” the best one here, while the others take on a more simplistic punk-rock tack (chords, some jangle, some energy). Recorded in the raw, so as not to give away their hand. Eagle Boys take their name from a discount pizza chain in Australia, so I’m eager to find the American band who picks up this mantle, and names their band CiCi’s, or maybe Sir Pizza. Cool grab. Sleeve and label have different song titles for the two B-side tracks. (http://negativeguestlist.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Night People LP
(Western Vinyl)

“I’m so shallow! You’re so callous!” WOW. Teen angst prevails well into the 20s, maybe even 30s, for this abbreviated, sonically shifted follow-up to Daniel Burton’s previous project, Early Day Miners. This bloodless outing rolls across several hardened indie rock singer-songwriter stances, each facet – the low rumbling chant building to the big finish (“Terrestrial Rooms”), the last call anthem (“How to Fall”), the brooding synth simmer (“Milking the Moon”) and other perfectly rendered but threadbare concepts – shining dimly across a worldview that barely crosses the Indiana state line. Flat, bassy production and a lack of real conviction ankles this record with tired statements from the class of 2004, or 1995. Doesn’t really matter. (http://westernvinyl.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Estranged
The Subliminal Man LP

Portland punx with Goth/doom leanings class it up to a level not seen on any of their recordings thus far. I picked up The Subliminal Man on a lark, nervous about being burned by flat songs and an even flatter recording yet again, but the Estranged have just about hit their stride here, coming up with songs that wear the necessary affectations rather than allow them to be worn. Never has the group sounded so crisp or urgent, and as a result their previously plodding efforts are jettisoned for a livelier feel all around. This time they dip down closer to the darker punk angst of groups like Agent Orange, particularly on “Faces Stare,” and resurrect an appropriate staple in a cover of “Love and a Molotov Cocktail” by class of ’78 outfit the Flys. I guess the Estranged are never going to shakwe the Wipers comparisons, but by this point in history I think it’s safe to say that Portland owns this particular style of punk, that there must be something about the town itself that draws this sort of response from a number of its bands. If you’ve been burned by this lot before, think again. Great record. Select mailorder copies pressed on red vinyl. (http://www.dirtnaprecs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Factory Floor
“~(Real Love)” 12”
(Optimo Music)

Factory Floor, the Manchester electronic trio with such a stunning EP last year, has left us hanging. The only thing to surface from them in our current calendar year thus far is this single, fine in its own form but hardly an advancement from what they’ve shown us, though it is a move in a poppier, easier-to-digest direction. That’s not what I wanted out of them, though, and I’m sure many would agree with me when given the chance to dig into a difficult, harsh record as their 10”/DVD set was. “~(Real Love)” was produced by New Order’s Stephen Morris, who mutes the snare drum down to a stuck-in-the-teeth flick and allows the synths to power along on top, riding the Donna Summer/Moroder model of robotic dominance against somnambulant singing. It’s classy and it works, but not as well as the Optimo remix on the flip, where the gentlemen from Glasgow fill the track with restive electronic squeals and a tension that might’ve been; this is the reason to pick up the 12”. Still hoping that this band comes through with an album, though at this point I’m not holding my breath. The iron was never struck while hot, and reheating it might take a small, nuclear-powered miracle to achieve. (http://www.optimomusic.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Yellow Eyes and the Sound of Vomit 12” EP

New work from this solo outing for Steve Peffer of Homostupids/9 Shocks Terror finds the Factorymen project even more deeply rooted in ‘80s xpr tape culture, with its political/”duty now” content (“SEC” repeatedly calls out Ben Bernanke, while the follow-up “Our Secret Recipe” cops a buttoned-up Negativland sorta ambiance with a spoken word intro that frames a white guy about to go off) and a truly dazed B-side run, starting with some random rap (over an Olympic Runners sample, even) and fizzling to a synthetic, melted end after a run-in with some Beatles/Lawrence Welk hybrid ossification, certainly a staple in many Parma area households to this day. It’s nice to hear Steve break form from more recent endeavors and go for something truly weird, rather than the hostile nature other projects have taken on. Fans of Mens Recovery Project, please look this way. Comes with a big yellow poster and a download code for this, Factorymen’s debut 45 and the Shitman LP. (http://testostertunes.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Stainless Steel LP

Frans de Waard (Kapotte Muziek, others) develops furious process into middling action with this new Freiband album. Two sidelong pieces figure heavily on technique – here, a process used by Asmus Tietchens where the artist rubs magnetic tape over play heads is somehow transposed to the digital realm – with samples of gamelan, a favorite of artists on ini.itu, stretched and cut and extended and otherwise manipulated for some pleasant, challenging sessions on side 1, and clicks-n-pops on the flip, organized with and against one another to create a minimalist pulse. I read the hyperbolic descriptions on this one and was waiting for something much more extreme, and it feels like I’ve been oversold on what is little more than sound that is far less interesting than the methodologies behind them. All the same, it’s good to space out to, both sides end in locked grooves, and in particular “Steel” feels like a winner. 250 numbered copies. (http://www.iniitu.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

“The Dig” b/w “Panorama (ft. Clive Tanaka)” 7”
(Friends of Friends)

More West Coast hip-hop collective machine beats for your NES or Sega Master System. I read something while trying to figure out what the fuck this record was (the minimal artwork and no release info didn’t help) that likened Groundislava’s work to that of early Japanese RPG music a la the Final Fantasy series. I didn’t really ever get into that sort of thing, except when I did, and it made me feel like more of an outsider than listening to dozens of singles every week does. Needless to say, everyone’s got their reasons. “The Dig” bops along in grandiose manner, and “Panorama” features cooled-out male vocals and a slinky structure not unlike some of the catchier songs by the Knife. Also nice to see Clive Tanaka still going at it. Inconsequential music, maybe, but not without its charms. Gold vinyl, no sleeve. (http://www.fofmusic.net)
(Doug Mosurock)

Gun Outfit
High Places 12” EP
(Make a Mess)

Recent four-song EP from this Olympia pop band, which keeps improving with each subsequent release. An earlier record of theirs was called Dim Light and that is a good metaphor for their music: lush, hopeful guitar pop with sleepy vocals (Carrie Keith in particular has a sort of creaking, self-taught inflection that reminds me of the 3D’s Denise Roughan, fitting nicely against Dylan Sharp’s stoned drawl) and no bass getting in the way, and with a keen sense of how to throw light into a space filled with shadows. Their sound has moved comfortably into the realm of ‘80s guitar-pop wunderkinds like the Feelies and Game Theory, with a pronounced, low-to-the-ground ramble popularized by the Meat Puppets, and for them to be writing within this framework without necessarily drawing attention to it is something of a minor miracle. Yet another great band out of a tightly-knit Olympia, WA scene. May they continue with love and plenty. (http://makeamessrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Happy Thoughts
s/t LP

Hozac serves up this cheapo mess from Indiana, three guys banging away at tinny power pop without even coming close to a memorable riff or legitimate stance. The teen wave comes and goes, someone documents it, this happens. Man, it’s like these guys aren’t even trying to be interesting anymore. Since I’d rather be doing anything than listen to this LP again, I guess this is it. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rory Hinchey/The Collection of the Late Howell Bend
Shape is Nature/Long Fields split LP

Three passes against the press release which accompanies this work have made virtually no sense whatsoever. Hinchey is an interviewer, maybe a musician, who knows Irene Moon (Auk Theatre, Nine Fingered Thug) and started collaborating with her. He’s on both sides of this LP, in a duo with Newfoundlander Alison Corbett for a few tracks and solo for the rest, then as a member of The Collection on the other side with both Corbett and Moon. Hinchey’s “solo” side is a ruminative collection of droning, pensive, mostly quiet pieces on organ that remind me of an important thing about musical instruments: that they can be used to generate tones. Is anyone ever in the mood to learn how through the most basic sustain of these tones across the side of a record? Corbett breaks up the monotony on a few tracks with her subbed-in violin, but it’s not enough to save this one. As for the Collection side, it’s just some exhaustedly gentle parlor tricks on piano, organ and violin. Unlike Hinchey’s side, it at least has a pulse, albeit a faint one, the same tricks applied to a bit better accompaniment and the same music box preciousness. This is a good record if you have just painted a wall and want to know how long before the second coat can be applied. 18 spins and you should be safe. (http://www.ownness.org)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Incredible Kidda Band
“Radio Caroline” b/w “We’re Gonna Make It” 7”
(Last Laugh)

Early recordings, here on vinyl for the first time, from this cult fave British power pop unit. The Kiddas followed the Jam’s recorded debut by about a year, though with the kind of songs they were putting together, sounds that were casing the Mod revival fashion in the high street for a smash-n-grab shopping spree later that night, they were easily contemporaries, albeit ones that didn’t find the same level of commercial success. “We’re Gonna Make It” busts out in the quintessential tough street-punk stance as carried by Cock Sparrer and so many others, and “Radio Caroline” bops along with sentimental thoughts about British pirate radio with the sort of singlemindedness possessed by the Ramones. Good tunes, and another solid presentation by Last Laugh, which has become the premier reissue destination in just over a year. (http://lastlaughrecords.us)
(Doug Mosurock)

√iles LP

Do you know how long it took me to figure out how to put that square root character up on the screen there? I took a long and uncomfortable stare at this one when it came out of the mailer: pouty Chicagoland art student Goth, emulating the cover of the Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” 12” with a disgusting, pasty visage and murderous intent. Song titles explain it all: “Night Stalking,” “Drug Sores,” “Attica.” Whatever the basis for this music is (Robert from Moniker, who’s gotten quite good at releasing things on this axis, claims it as “a ‘first stab at recording’ made to create a map for live performance.”) Essentially it’s the kind of weird, chemically pummeled synth-loner record I look forward to receiving, with two standout tracks amidst the experiments. Normally I don’t fall in for the Suicide/Spacemen 3/”Opa-Locka” eterna-riff, no matter what gets done with it. But Mr. Jealousy subdues things nicely, focusing on the extended pattern and building to a menacing ice-queen riff on “We’re Having Your Children,” and keeping it at simmer for the full run of the intense, dimly-lit “Night Stalker.” Think back to the young white man obsessed with the blues, change his circumstances and mediums available to him, and you’ll get this. And as in that sort of endeavor, you’re not gonna get something new, but you might get something good. Which is something I no longer expect from those who use words that I can’t read. (http://www.moniker-records.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP
(Rockadrome Vintage)

Near-exact reissue of the sole album by Jerusalem, a young British band from the early ‘70s who were an early indicator of the textures and theatrics of metal as it advanced through the ‘80s. They play through a bluesy chunk of night-hardened proto metal, the very mood of which, from Ian Gillan’s thin, angry production to the psychotic wail of singer Lynden Williams, traverses the brain-stem impulse of stupidity and drills down to the blackened soul of rock & roll’s ghastly caricature. It’s so fucking great to hear this guy going off like hardly anyone had before him, especially at the intro of “I See the Light” or in the choruses of “When the Wolf Sits” and “Primitive Man,” sounding for all the world like a teenage James Hetfield might have less than a decade down the line. Opinions seem to be divided on the merits of this one, but I’ve listened to a fair chunk of what the era had to offer at this level of intensity. Hardly any records are great all the way through when stretched out on the scale of all rock and pop music released since the ‘50s, let alone every band in the Sabbath/Purple arms race for meth-Satanic plunder. Anyone who tells you different has not listened to enough records, or knows better than to waste their time on stackfiller. But that’s precisely where this one laid buried. The riffage is strong, but pretty crooked at many points, getting by on the grimness of tone and sentiment rather than groundbusting musical ideas. Still, that’s fine, if the end result is something this evocative and prescient of things to come. Judas Priest would turn this rust into neon lights, Iron Maiden would reinforce it and run over innocent bystanders here (and legend says that this band actually toyed with using that very name for their own, but settled on Jerusalem instead). But the spectre of death is all over Jerusalem’s record, throwing off the evil portrayed in British horror films of the era with no difficulty at all. Gillan’s liner notes describe the importance of catching bands when they’re new, before they get everything figured out, and one must assume that’s what happened with these guys, for the better. They made a single as well, followed by a glammier 45 under the name Pussy. All are worth seeking out. (http://www.rockadrome.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Lady Piss
Streaming 12” EP

Baltimore noise-rock combo with a strong female presence, both in lug-nut spittin’ bassist Rebecca Burchette and the ball-pinched vocals of Noel Conrad. Anyone in the grind for the past 5-6 years will no doubt recognize this band as being in the shadow of Clockcleaner, with their nihilistic scrape and lack of decorum, especially in the Rick Major’s barking guitar riffs and the acid-spitting tenor of the band’s lyrics. Those with longer memory spans might liken this work to that of the departed Laura Carter and her Athens freakshow band Jack O’ Nuts. Neither would be wrong, though one would have to be in the frame of mind/point of life to really get into the latest iteration of such misanthropy in order to enjoy Streaming to its fullest. Thankfully, their sonic presence and crafty, homespun production pull the band a few steps away from all but the most familiar touchpoints, and these six songs are noisy and abrasive enough to stand up against gravity itself. Decent work. (http://www.nosympathizer.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Love Cuts
s/t 7” EP

Three young women from the Vancouver area don the knee socks and barrettes of the Riot Grrl era for today. From their cartoonish demeanor and sleeve art, they appear to be of the yeti persuasion, a cis-specied ball of charm and winsome hollering. Songs deal with crushes, isolation, and mimes, and the way they sing sort of recalls the atonal chanting of the Shaggs, though the music recalls the lighter side of twee pop (Go Sailor, the Softies, etc). Most of you have heard this already with a different name on it, but there’s no way to deny the joy that playing music seems to bring these folks, and you’ll probably grow to love this single as much as I do. Which is a good bit. Five songs, first pressing of 330 copies. (http://recordsnominal.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Man Forever
“Learned Helplessness in Rats – Rock Drummer” Live in Bloomington LP
(St. Ives)
Live documentation of the Man Forever band, performing the compositional whims of Oneida percussionist Kid Millions. Performing the piece “Man Forever,” released last year on St. Ives, it’s every bit as dexterous as the recording itself, and you gotta wonder about the hidden strengths of those who can maintain extended blast sessions of constant, rolling percussion with no room to breathe. Kid is a special guy, though, and I’d like a glass of whatever he’s drinking. He’s backed by Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (a composer himself, Chase assisted Kid in the creation of the piece, and made sure the drums were tuned), Allison Busch of Awesome Color and Call of the Wild, Shahin Motia (Oneida, KNYFE HYTS), Richard Hoffman from Sightings, and a few local friends in Bloomington. From the concert venue, this takes on much more of the mode of free jazz/improvisation than the formidable studio recording did, there being enough room for things to breathe somewhat, and more of a need for synths and bass guitar to fill out the gaps where these folks are hoping and praying that their arms don’t fall off from hitting it so hard. Gorgeous silkscreened sleeve is a nice touch to what some say might be the final St. Ives release. 300 copies. (http://www.enemyhogs.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Man the Hunter
“Less For You” b/w “Dance With Me” 7”

When I hear something like the one-man powerpop exercise that is a single like Man the Hunter’s record here, I get uneasy and less assured about there being hope for music and my writing about it altogether. This record is a virtual perfect attendance award; dude showed up, played as other records had instructed him, stayed perfectly within the lines – even down to chord progressions – and produced a buoyant and banal example of the form, with misplaced enthusiasm and joie de vivre. I’m so goddamned tired of this shit. (http://ginkgorecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Shinji Masuko
Woven Music 12”

Masuko plays guitar in DMBQ and has stepped into the circle of the Boredoms, designing Yamatsuka Eye’s seven-necked guitar for the BOADRUM performance and participating as one of their members on their elaborately-staged concerts in Brooklyn. These two tracks are said to come from one of those sessions, Masuko rearranging them for acoustic and electric guitar threnodies to the sidelong tracks we have here. “Woven Music for Blue Steppe” is the acoustic track, and while it seems like there could be some electric backing, or at least effects processing, on this one, it’s no less stunning. I’m not even sure why discussions of purity need to come into a piece of music as stirring as this one, the artist rising from a proud, scrambling intro into prismatic layers of drone and melody, with a collusion of string contact chiming in like bells tied to a harp. There’s a lot going on here but there’s a high ceiling for this sound, which instantly evokes rapturous, childlike wonder. Don’t ride your bike while listening. Maybe wait until you get to where you’re going. “Woven Music for Silver Ocean” attempts the same feat with lick after lick of burning lead, rising from a sea of e-bowed precision, it (like its partner) never leaving the same key, and hoping to ride it like a rocket pack to the stratosphere instead. Beautiful stuff, and especially perfect for the dorm this fall. Kids, show ‘em what trippin’ is all about. 600 copies. (http://jagjaguwar.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreamer LP

Just like how bubonic plague resurfaces every few years to kill a few unlucky people, only to grow dormant again, some folks think that a perfectly lucid way to spend their time would be to start a new glam band. I don’t think it’s a case of glam being resilient but I do think that there are a lot of unoriginal assholes cluttering up what would otherwise be a pretty nice cosmos. As for Mickey’s turn in the bucket – it’s hard for me to imagine music worse than this: Maybe (maybe) if I was wealthy and had billions upon billions of dollars at my disposal, I could hire hundreds of Ph.D’s in lab coats, working around the clock with flow charts and Tesla coils, toiling for decades in the spirit of spitting-on-your-hands-and-doing-it-for-America, coupled with the finely-tuned logistics and resources of something approaching the Manhattan Project, all working for one united goal: to make a record sucks more than Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreamer, it still might fall short. But I’ll save everyone’s time: these clowns tried for hooky and catchy, but ended up with something insipid and annoying. Its songs go beyond boring into painfully playacted, irritating and arch. Imagine being invited to a party, and when you get there, you’re stripped naked and thrown into a pit of Fiberglass insulation. That’s what listening to this band is like.

And hey: I like glam rock. I even watched Born To Boogie with minimal fast forwarding, but this reminds me of those metal bands that were influenced by punk and glam but ended up being those Sunset Strip atrocities. I figure this is exactly the record these creeps wanted to make: criminally stupid lyrics, a cover that looks like an eighth grader with a wisp of a moustache and a denim vest drew on his Trapper Keeper, and a general aura of stunted development. It you like your music sans intellect, cleverness, ambition, without even the most basic interesting or novel elements, and/or get your nostalgia receptors tickled at the thought of the Rainbo’s jukebox in 1984, then this record might be for you. You deserve each other. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Bob Claymore)

Beholder 7” EP
(Thunderhaus LTD)

A “welcome back” single from this Pittsburgh outfit (disclaimer: they are a band for whom I released a CD, back when they were a trio and Zombi’s Steve Moore was on bass), and possibly the most fun Microwaves effort since their beginnings. Last I saw them, they had stripped down to a duo of guitarist Dave Kuzy and drummer John Roman, with a computer playing bass, Dale Nixon style. Their lineup changes a bit, which is valid because the music these two make perfectly complements their personalities and senses of humor. There’s one new song here, “Cadaver Synod,” a tense squiggle of mechanical klaxon hyper-processed guitar (Dave plays one of those Teuffel Birdfish project guitars with the alien body shape) and manical, precise drumming. You can tell these guys were into Mr. Bungle, probably Zappa too. The opening track is a cover of Big Black’s “The Power of Independent Trucking” – admirable and revealing as well – and on the flip they pull out an older track “R.V.I.S.” in a newer version. This one is even more telling, it always having been an epic in length, here drawn out for maximum yux and theatrics. It’s an extremely loose, comfortable take on their overall uptight sound. Back to work, as usual. N-JOI this l’il record. 190 numbered copies. (http://thunderhauslimited.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Mind Over Mirrors
The Voice Rolling LP

Some people pat themselves on the back for buying a tube amp and a collectible guitar; when it comes to persistence of analog vision, they could learn a few things from Jaime Fennelly. After shifting from Brooklyn, NY to Washington State’s San Juan Islands and taking a job in forestry, he put the energy usually reserved for his trio Pee Ess Eye (aka PSI, Peeesseye, etc) into black and white film photography and acoustic music making. He recorded Mind Over Mirrors, his musical representation of that experience, to tape in a sonic analogy of the grainy immediacy of his photos, and released it only in analog formats. The main instrument is a human-powered harmonium bolstered by oscillators, tape echo, and a harmonizer, all of which combine to give the music an oversaturated density as raw as a February Pacific gale. Fennelly’s churning patterns are so relentless that they have an almost hallucinatory quality; when he strips things back to a stark melody, you know what it’s like to feel like you’re the only human left to face the woods and sea. The sleeve’s gorgeous, the pressing’s flawless, 450 copies. Damn! (http://www.digitalisindustries.com)
(Bill Meyer)

The Thunderclown 10” EP
(Tona Serenad)

The fop is back, boring us all to near-death with songs about nothing other than his giant penis. Man, this guy is the worst. Why resurrect his musical career? Weren’t we all happier when he was inventing Kickstarter to pay down legal fees? 350 numbered copies. No critical analysis here; not warranted. Sorry. Not really. (http://tonaserenad.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Native Cats
Process Praise LP
(Ride the Snake)

For their second full-length outing, Tasmanian duo the Native Cats (vocalist Peter Escott, who also programs the drums and synths, and bassist Julian Teakle) have condensed the dramatic flair and Ludlum novel noir a bit, making for a moodier, more minimal and more consistent listen in an already-sterling catalogue. Many might argue that there’s not a whole lot of direction for a duo in their particular configuration, so it’s a welcome relief to hear people who are self-aware enough to know when they’ve stumbled on a working formula, and moreover, how to enhance it without losing the script. A lot of that resides on their approach; storyteller Escott’s contributions ensure that there will always be that script, and an entertainer to read it off. His fictions are the heart of this band, and the framing they’re given by his skeletal beats and Teakle’s booming lead melodies (no chords, no problem) are all that’s needed to paint his tales of danger and espionage. They’re just enough band to give the words a slightly sinister, theatrical feel; shaken-not-stirred, long-con coolness for the intellectuals and those who favor them. And when they do break rank, as on the noisome synth hammering that closes “Dani Dani,” it feels 40 stories tall. Very hard to classify or qualify, I’d happily point anyone who’s ever enjoyed Britpop, in particular the nighttime sounds of Pulp, to take a listen to The Native Cats and find themselves as lost and in awe of a modern band as I am. (http://www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP
(Solo Para Punks)

Debut single from this Madrid punk band, rolling up a Pac-NW punk desperation/anger into a raw punk template, with a female singer who fits into the frantic proto-riot mold a la Poly Styrene or Lora Logic. Two fast ones and two slightly less fast ones comprise this l’il ripper, which shows great success in getting a full sound out of a tinny recording that falls just shy of overdriven, with a great live, sweaty room kind of sound. Passionate and urgent, the group shows songwriting skills which rise above most bands in their sect, and a throat-clenching immediacy that recalls Bikini Kill at their most fierce, but with a slightly more diverse palette. It’s outstanding music, either way, and there’s only 300 copies, so you’d better hurry. (http://www.soloparapunks.es)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP
(Rescued From Life)

Pig Heart Transplant manipulates elements of the debut single by Bay Area HC outfit Vacuum. So you still get the hardcore – and on one track, something resembling the band itself, blowing out the walls of a small studio. Elsewhere it’s just vocal tracks, manipulated to sound like concussion bombing, or the instruments jumbled up and pushed through a series of filters and effects until it’s unintelligible. I go for the weird records in the genre when I can because sometimes hardcore at this stage of the game is just boring, and no amount of energy can push it back in. Even little tweaks to the nervous system like this one can be exciting, and it makes me a little happier that a band in a somewhat aligned genre could handle this sort of reorganization of its sound. That said, it’s a short record and probably of limited interest, but most people have already beaten you to the punch by now, so get it while you still can. Make this your last purchase before the economy collapses. (http://rflrecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP

Self-styled “closet Goths” from Chicago’s punk/HC community comprise the membership of Population, and their debut single provides a much-needed corrective to the general indifference I’ve felt to the various vinyl snapshots of the Second City’s musical output that make their way through this office. Big JD/Bauhaus influence at play, but through an historical lens, seething with teen angst but cooled out by the allure of it all. No charlatans of VHS-borne revivalism, these three songs – “Bits of Blue” in particular – would easily stand up against any regional responses to the spreading darkness of ‘80s England throughout history. Songwriting is very strong, playing is confident as it is spidery and, by design, inhibited. Just laying it all out there: it’s Goth, if you don’t like that, this band will probably not change your mind (though what if they did?). You can either tout originality or you can evoke the same moods as the classics, so long as you don’t shit all over them. A lot of bands out there are too inept to even get the latter right, but if any of those groups had the ability to evoke the moods of sinister romance and bleak reality the way Population does, I’d find myself a whole lot busier. Excellent record all around. (http://blvdrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Psychic Reality
Vibrant New Age LP
(Not Not Fun)

More focused than the last thing I heard – the split LP w/ LA Vampires … sorry but it’s impossible for me to keep up with NNF’s blitzkrieg release schedule – this iteration of Psychic Reality, which I was told, perhaps incorrectly, is the last, finds artist Reyna Noel juggling the plangent, rubbery side of Arthur Russell’s new age-inspired works with Latin freestyle intimations. There’s some effective, low-cost stabs at otherworldliness, particularly a time-extended, digitally jammed sample of what sounds at first like a calliope, but resolves into a steel drum ensemble. It’s little surprises like, along with the history of the music which anticipated this generation, and works like Vibrant New Age, the little bit of ballast they have. The other elements at play are lighter than Styrofoam peanuts, and almost as substantial. Apart from the woodpecker drum pulses and low-end pressure of the closer “Softscript,” there’s no charge to this music, no tension at all; it just bubbles up and floats along, unconcerned with Earthly goods and more attuned to what’s in the skies. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Puddle
Playboys in the Bush LP

As interest in New Zealand’s musical heritage resurfaces within the minds of bored young people and collector circles, it would be inevitable that some of the artists who made it happen at the outset might jumpstart their careers. The Puddle might’ve been the least likely of that whole crew, the group having started in the early ’80s and disappeared after its excellent Flying Nun album Over the Moon, with a few singles to its credit with sell-by dates no later than 1994. On a sophomore effort for microlabel Fishrider, Puddle main man George Henderson and band draw up a mostly subdued, stately pastiche of styles and focus. Henderson, at his best, reclaims pre-ballroom Vic Godard songwriting (smart and disappointed) as a winning form of expression, with a number of nods towards adult sounds and disused atmosphere-building devices (sax, accordion), and the spectre of mid-fi, late 20th century rock production. That papery-sounding snare notwithstanding, this is a fine effort and though it’s easy to see the flaws, they all kind of fade to the back and let the gentle pop (and occasional rock, as heard on “Valhalla”) guide you to a truer path. (http://fishriderrecords.wordpress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Puerto Rico Flowers
7 LP
(Fan Death)

Another respectable outing by John Sharkey III, dipping deeper into the dark well of belabored Goth/synth rock. 7 (named for the number of songs here; previous releases included 4 and 2) flogs one tempo and style for the majority of the runtime, so unless you didn’t show up for Dave Gahan impressions, well-intended as they might be, and plodding, doomy songcraft, you may need to sit this one out. The development between 4 and 2 is a lot more productive between that of 2 and 7, but it’s still a commendable work by a guy who’s getting everything figured out in due time. Either way, this is a far cry from the days of Clockcleaner, even the abyss of their final EP, which prefaced the direction taken by PRF. Only the closer, “Keep Me Around,” builds on a deeper premise – if nothing but a different tempo – and it’s hopeful that 7 will see the twilight of this era of the band, and move onto something with a little more variety. I like this record a great deal, but I wonder if everyone else would agree with me that its features don’t line up with the flaws. (http://www.fandeathrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Some Kissed Charms That Would Not Protect Them LP

First significant work in some time from Rale, a/k/a sound artist William Hutson. It’s a very foreboding, big, dark piece spread across two sides, one staggering between silence and depression, the other clicking alive with static and disorder. Beneath it all lies one chord which could undo years of therapy, (iso)underscoring the hopelessness that the title bears. Beautiful electric blue sleeve with silver embossing. (http://www.isounderscore.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Rational Animals
Bock Rock Parade LP
(Katorga Works)

Heavy, Flag-style hardcore (side 1 of My War would be a good ref point) from Rochester, NY with a lead guitarist who cribs as much from Tom Hazelmyer as he does from Greg Ginn. Will Machi plays the geometrical Flag patterns while dropping in some serious wheedlin’ for an experience that enlivens the whole of the band. Rational Animals almost live and die on Machi’s presence, and from what friends who’ve seen them more than I have explained, they spent a while woodshedding to the point where they could lock in to this approach without sounding malformed or difficult. This seems to have paid off, Bock Rock Parade being an audacious rearrangement of past mastery in a way that sounds new yet doesn’t smell like musty old records and people talking with authority about a past you might not have experienced firsthand. Rips hard and often. Don’t be denied. (http://katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

The Rebel
The Five Year Plan one-sided 12” EP
(Monofonus Press)

We’re at the point where you really don’t know what to expect with a new record by The Rebel. Could be calculator noise, could be coat-closet rant sesh, could be bong rips through methadone and dry ice. Much like MES to the Fall, if it’s the Rebel, it’s gonna be Ben Wallers and whatever it is he’s in the mood for. Here then is their best since Northern Rocks, three songs played with full band (or at least full band instruments), bearing down on a debauched minor chord dirge trip through New Wave Gardens at around 4 in the morning, focused and ready. Notice I said “songs” and not “fuckarounds,” as Bob Claymore refers to the Rebel as when they don’t come around with asses in gear to make something appealing. Those of you hoping for Wallers’ return to convention, a state of mind he’ll surprise you at, should do well to look here. 300 copies, full-color sleeves, and a red Saturn silkscreened on the B-side. (http://monofonuspress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Jonas Reinhardt
Music for the Tactile Dome LP
(Not Not Fun)

Wresting Reinhardt away from Kranky, at least for one record – sort of a coup in terms of Not Not Fun’s growing relevance – results in a really well-done example for the exploratory synth genre. Sequestered in a Berlin studio, Jonas Reinhardt shows us how it’s done on a variety of analog synths, as well as with more traditional rock instruments, to create an instrumental collage of planetarium stylez and Carl Sagan memories, futzing with the knobs and the pedals (and the levers and the pivots) in a nine-song suite that could stand proudly next to anything by Zombi or Emeralds in terms of quality and righteousness of direction. Reinhardt shows no inclination to transcend the genre, which may bore and anger some, but we shouldn’t have to tell you at this point that everything need be innovative or a breakthrough of some kind; as things are now, anyone wishing for such an awakening will surely be disappointed over and over. Lie back and let it flow. This one is good. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

San Francisco Water Cooler
s/t 7” EP

Five new, short jammers from the SFWC, continuing in their predetermined path of melodic, loose, grungy rock. They’ve got competition right now (Milk Music put a lot of similar bands to shame this year, for one), and that’s probably a good thing, as it gives this duo (trio?) the chance to flex their weirdness muscles on composition and still keep it in the venue of the West Coast Pop Muslide Stickybud Mudsled Competition being held this fall at the Oakland Ramada. Tell me you got your tickets already … Vocals seem to be the weak link this time around, as they barely rise up over the guitar squall and boxy, lo-fi production, but it’s still a fine record by a band that gets better with each new one. Fans of GBV and Dinosaur Jr might want to look into this lovable mess. 300 copies. (http://sunsneezerecords.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat
“Sermon” b/w “Rats” 7”

Haven’t seen it myself yet, but folks seem to keep talking about the inherent radness of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, which smashes the odds (dude is from Baltimore and part of the Wham City thing, and all he does is plays a floor tom and yells … wait, where are you going?) and somehow finds a likely home on El Load-O. Schrader, along with bassist Devlin Rice, make like an inverse negative image of Lightning Bolt, riding the same fearless aesthetic with the approach scaled way, way back, but somehow falling on the same wavelength. That’s not to say this is some manner of intense mega-progressive rock; Schrader and Rice head towards crazed, repetitive industrial chanting and collusion with the beat itself, which is just as heavy but far more direct. Schrader’s setup is about as minimal as they come, and yet the guy has the confidence and conviction to overcome the whole Ed Grimley/triangle motif and make something to turn heads. He pounds that drum, he yells paranoid mantras, and the bass rumbles behind him, the mattress on his back, not necessarily playing leads so much as repeating chords that fill out the rhythmic patterns. Both songs are short and quite exciting. I’m excited. I hope you’re excited, because Schrader takes this opportunity to show us just how much blood you can squeeze out of a stone. (http://www.loadrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Shit & Shine/Expensive Shit
split 7”
(Monofonus Press)

The Shit & Shine breadcrumb trail loops back around to Texas, and gives into its rave impulses yet again – “Romantic and Macho at the Same Time” starts off with a bit of subdued, low-res EBM and some cooling narration, until the title is spoken. Their shift into enormous, agitated feedback loops that push all the air out of the room is not surprising, nor is it novel at this point, but $&$ has prided itself on building some of the most hypnotic and destructive ones of their kind, getting by on the strength of their ambition to drown all the other bands out. Austin burnouts Expensive Shit run some percussion through a mixer and come up with their own “Crueshal Version” of nothing in particular. Limited appeal, but man, what a limit. 300 copies. (http://monofonuspress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sic Alps
Breadhead 7” EP
(Drag City)

Four-song EP by what I can only assume is a reconfigured Sic Alps. They are the prime movers of disassociative rock, akin to a big neon-coloured cloud of smoke rolled over the late ‘60s and turned all of society unmotivated and apathetic. “Breadhead” breaks the three minute mark, a rarity for this outfit, with Comets’ Noel Von H. credited for the music. It’s certainly a little different than even their more abrasive newer material, attempting to cram a lot of structure in the slackest song you could imagine, one that glides and huffs to its end with grandiloquous displays and flapping arms. You’ll need your inhaler to make it through! Two mild castoffs ride in between (their names are sadly a bit more interesting than their attendant songs – “Jammy Soc” and “1/2 Rabbit Sandwich with Fries”), leading up to a cover of the Bob Marley’s “Can’t You See.” Here they’re joined by the volunteer fire department of Bay Area Haight Snow Globe rock (John Dwyer, Ty Segall, Matthew Melton among others) but instead of a champagne jam, they just sound like a normal rock band with less-than-pristine production. Sic Alps have made this record fairly unidentifiable in both the sleeve and the music. They’re in transition and maybe this will only make sense to people who know what the last few Sic Alps records look like. Still like these guys a lot, though, even though their output has been unpleasant at times; they’ve given me more to think about than most bands these days. (http://www.dragcity.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Silver Ash
“Deathless” b/w “Lifeboat” 7”

Silver Ash’s collective address book includes the numbers, or at least old office hours, of Matisyahu, Milford Graves, and Nate Wooley, but their orientation is eyes-rolled-back ecstatic rock, trance variant. The title of “Deathless: may be a comment upon itself, because it has the same single-minded commitment to the groove as Can circa Ege Bamyasi; some good ideas cannot die. Actually the notion is in good hands here, with guitarist Aaron Dugan acquitting himself well enough at pulse maintenance that percussionist Jeff Arnal can indulge in some busy decoration that spirals out from the beats sort of like the swirls in this 33 1/3-spinning record’s rose-colored vinyl. “Lifeboat” is likewise derivative in a good way, answering the question “what if Sonic Youth wanted to sound like This Heat taming a hive of bees?” (http://www.generaterecords.net)
(Bill Meyer)

Spider Fever
“Whatcha Gonna Do?” b/w “Party Girl” 7”

New rule of thumb: if your band features Mario Rubalcaba on drums (with a hidden codicil for Rocket from the Crypt), your band is probably worth checking out. Even OFF! is pretty good, in no small part to Rubalcaba’s presence, a monster on the kit who pushes the members of whatever band he’s in to play as hard as he does. That’s kind of what elevates these two simple pop-punk songs into something solid, if not more than the sum of its parts. The way you play can matter as much as what you’re playing, and this band seems pretty able to get a good fire going inside before splaying this simplistic scree all over the floor. (http://www.hozacrecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Adalita Srsen & Robert Scott/The Puddle
split 7”

Scott (The Clean! The Bats!) performs with vocalist Srsen (ex-Magic Dirt) for a charming, heartfelt acoustic lilt called “That’s What I Heard.” Nothing but sweet, full-sounding acoustic guitar, tambourine, and these two beautiful voices complementing one another. Amazing how one little song like this can erase all the bullshit music you’ve had to endure just to get to it. On the other side of this split, fellow New Zealanders The Puddle continue in an active spurt starting in the mid-‘00s, following over a decade of silence, with “Average Sensual Man,” nodding in the slow, gentle sunset of mannered guitar pop and crooked personality to make it all interesting. Bandleader George Henderson is joined by a number of musicians, none of whom join him on the recent Puddle album Playboys in the Bush (see separate review) and maybe that’s for the best, the easygoing yet richly arranged players, in particular vocalist Sharon Cunningham coaxing all of the charm this song has to offer out into the front. (http://fishriderrecords.wordpress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sympathy Rations 7” EP
(Sorry State)

Chugging hardcore from North Carolina, thick-necked and technical, with the requisite speed of hardcore, all the lines colored in, nothing out of place, and therefore nothing all that exciting. Change up the tempo and this would be Southern boogie rock. Not recommended (though some other Sorry State releases, like Double Negative and Whatever Brains, definitely are). (http://www.sorrystaterecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Sun Araw
Houston Abstros 7”
(Monofonus Press)

Sun Araw is very much the one-trick pony of contemporary neon dub chillwave, but for once it’s a trick worth repeating. He plays in a tropical rainforest bass repository with a spatial concern and trueness of nu-sound self that recalls when Adrian Sherwood did the same thing back in the ‘80s. But really, that’s OK – when there’s music you can feel rather than just listen to, more research needs to be done. It’s a direction worth repeating and expanding on, and here Araw dogg Cameron Stallones lets it roll over some loose funque on “Bump Up” and in a drank-soaked version of Teenage Fanclub’s “December,” a real surprise and an honest appraisal of a beautiful pop song, itself saddled in another generation’s clothes but wearing the outfit like it was tailored just for the band. You got brownies in the fridge? Don’t wait! 300 copies. (http://monofonuspress.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Demonology LP

Swilson (that’s his name) sounds like a one-man band, augmented with a studio and additional players, but he’s the most irritating one-man band you could fathom. Across ballads and swampy, Waits-meets-Beck style “rock statements,” this guy screeches and brays from the Neanderthal’s point of view about women and life in general. It is sheer torture even to look at, and I deeply regret my request for a playable copy after the first one showed up shattered in pieces in my incoming mail. It took at least eight people to make the music on this record, and probably a dozen more to manufacture it. I hope they all got paid well enough to forget about it. Worst, most unoriginal record of 2011 I’ve heard thus far, and it actually makes my balls hurt. White/clear splatter vinyl, 250 copies. (http://www.myspace.com/SSwilson666)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t LP

Return-to-Michigan action from Fred Thomas (Saturday Looks Good To Me, City Center), teaming up with three women who handle most of the music here. On the back cover, they’re sort of standing in the background while Fred is right up front. This all seems a little off, but thankfully the rest of the band and their twangy, reverbed-out stance helps to clarify a bit, and make it their own band as best they can. Swimsuit’s music lies in the roots of girl group sounds, and fumbling K Records-style twee bash. Vocals are all in very high registers and sound a bit off key, though when these folks decide to yelp and holler, like at the start of side two (“Rat Pack,” a very charming and simple song with a great deal of energy, and the best thing here), things begin to look up. It’s a slight record, but will definitely please their constituents, wherever they might be. Several parallels in sound and style exist to latter-day wonders like Grass Widow or Brute Heart, though I have to wonder what purpose Thomas is really serving here. He’s well-loved and seems like a nice enough guy from my interactions, but I’m sure some people would ask a very valid question of his presence in an otherwise all-female band, particularly as they head off in the direction of other current groups (Thomas is guilty of this with City Center, which was one of the most blatant Animal Collective knockoffs you could ever hope to hear). These aren’t criticisms so much as curiosity getting the best of me; what exactly is he bringing to Swimsuit that another woman couldn’t? It’s strange to even have to ask, but the presentation here all but begs the question. Either way, it’s an admirable record, but dingy production and not necessarily inspired songwriting places this firmly in the second string of modern indie pop. (http://www.speakertreerecords.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
“Burning Trash” b/w “Price of My Words” 7”
(Negative Guest List)

Hey, it’s two TJSA songs you’ve probably never heard before, courtesy of some folks from Australia who appreciate the finer things America has to offer. Demo recording quality = monster scuzz; Ron House taunting you behind the Strip-o-gram of “Burning Trash” and downright nasty guitarist Bob Petric offering up more belligerence in “Price of My Words” which, with the going exchange rate, might be like $12 U.S. I won’t be the first to tell you that the national treasure on the mic is worth at least twice that. Why wait? (http://negativeguestlist.blogspot.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Three Man Army
3 LP
(A.G./Wet World)

Unreleased, self-disclosed rock opera from this ‘70s hard rock combo, the follow-up outfit for the Gurvitz brothers (post-Gun and Parrish & Gurvitz, pre-Baker Gurvitz Army), and drummer Tony Newman, sitting in between May Blitz and his future tenure in David Bowie’s band. Some have claimed that this was to be the second in a double-LP set for their second Warner Bros. album Three Man Army Two, while the band members state that these were demos which were scuttled as the band fell apart. This vinyl appears to be legit, and was available at a bargain price recently. I find the three official albums this group produced to be very spotty, with enough hot moments to fill one LP and maybe a single, but the quality of the material on 3 is stronger than their others by a good bit. Recorded in 1974, this is heavily steeped in Ziggy Stardust and Electric Warrior as much as Two was indebted to Led Zeppelin. It’s always a surprise to hear where current sounds are creating influence, and the glam rock, space metal, eye shadow blues, and besotted singer-songwriter sounds of the day are all proudly reflected in this suite. The heavier songs here are better than anything else they’d done in this band or after it, and there are some surprising nods that might’ve been construed as opportunism in their time (the searching ballad “Look at the Sun,” for instance). As expected, there’s a couple of weak spots (“Let’s Go Get Laid” is kinda rough), but in this form, it’s still batting higher than a healthy percentage of full-lengths in the era, including their own. Sound quality comes from remastered demos, and sadly the end result is hissy and the headroom very crowded, especially at the end of side 2. But if you can get past the digital editing and no-frills presentation, and you like ‘70s rock as much as I do, please check this out. Had it been released, it may well have raised their profile through the roof. (http://www.paulgurvitz.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

TM Eye
“Exposure” b/w “Pollution” 10”
(Machine Age)

Pittsburgh cuts in on the electro-pop conversation with the debut single by TM Eye (Phil Boyd from the Modey Lemon on vocals, and studio engineer Preslav Lefterov on synths). People there like to dance again, it seems, as that VIA Festival showed us last year. When I grew up there, the lines were drawn. Nice to see them blurred out a bit. Boyd;s vocals recall no one so much as Trent Reznor, which brings a professional and alluring finish to some bumpin’ computer funk (“Exposure”) and icy repose through the European sheen of “Pollution.” Would go for the flip as the better of the two here, and I’m sure many of you who set up the dance parties will come across this classy jam sooner than later. (http://www.facebook.com/MachineAgeRecords)
(Doug Mosurock)

“Glass City” b/w “Don’t Mess” 7”

This one kinda slipped through the cracks but no way was that deserving. I’ve been burned by Montreal garage/punk/Fonzie doo-wop in the recent past, but this Stooged-out huffin’ sock of a single makes up for it, nothing but wiry, tangled electric guitar, thick bass, frantic screaming and really solid drumming. “Don’t Mess” is my pick, for those who have hair on their middle knuckles to embrace as their own – big, slow, menacing freakout of unintelligible apelike frenzy. Not sure if it’s a selling point to mention that two of these guys comprise the Canadian synth/pop/etc duo the Pink Noise, as I don’t know too many people outside of myself who like that group, but there you go. Now you’ll be thinking about nothing else than the similarities between the two projects. Total smasher, real cool party record, get your mitts on one before they’re gone. Budget noise rock done the right way. (http://badmasterrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Kicks Shade Accident 7” EP

Excavation of New Zealand’s punk/post music scene continues with these three late ‘70s recordings by Vacuum, existing nearly as far back as you can go on the nation’s timeline for this sort of action. Core membership included Bill Direen, Stephen Cogle and Peter Stapleton, whose combined experience across the NZ bandscape cannot go unrecognized. They’re helped out by others through lineup change or additional instrumentation, pushing these practice tapes into the realm of full-time party, somewhere on the axis between the Velvets and Roxy Music that would all but define the root sound of many bands down there for the next 30 years. “Kicks” works itself up from a simple strummer into a foaming-at-the-mouth raver, while “Shade” ascends as the forefather of the quiet mystery that would touch this sound in the decades to come (not really a problem linking this to the Terminals’ Touch, no matter how faded it may be), and “Accident” rolls along in two-chord house arrest with the sort of violent slashing of common sense and accepted stance. There’s no one right way to go about discovering NZ rock if you haven’t been following for a while/all along, though there are a few wrong ways. As a real and historic start, this is impressive, and though the history is part of the reason why, it answers a lot of questions people have entertained about this region’s music for quite some time, without having to address them at all. Here it is. 300 copies. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Ben Vida/Keith Fullerton Whitman
“Aggregatepulseripper (Damaged IIII)” b/w “080114” split LP

Here lies a series of happy convergences. This is the third album in Amish’s Required Wreckers series of art edition LPs, and the third in Keith Fullerton Whitman’s series of split LPs farmed out to labels he does not control. It’s also a reunion, on vinyl if not in person, of Whitman and Ben Vida, who toured together a few years ago along with Greg Davis when they were all Kranky label-mates.

This LP, like the other two Whitman splits, features the man in concert playing a hybrid analog/digital synth rig; Vida plays something similar, but in the studio, with results that differ both from Whitman’s side and Vida’s other recent electronic music. He’s back in school these days, working towards an MFA at Bard, and his piece brings to mind the rigor of 60s experimental electronics more than the playfulness of his last full length Bird Show Band. It’s an episodic assortment of patches that control patterns that, once set in motion, accumulate density and velocity, and then give way to the next patch. Sound dry? Compared to the humanizing swing afforded by the Bird Show Band’s human drummer, it is. But the madly accelerating cycles of flickering tones yield some thrills of their own and the record, cut to play at 45 rpm, will make those tones punch out of your speakers like an army of caffeinated prairie dogs who have woken up from hibernation a couple months too soon and burst out of their snow-covered burrows in insanely tight choreography.

Crowd noises and other assorted room sounds make it clear from the outset that Whitman’s side involves more space and events happening in open air as well as the suggestions of humans and their execution by machines. At the time Whitman (who is currently on a performing hiatus) was reacting against his laptop-dominated performances of the early aughts by using modular synths, but staying away from the conventions both of path-cord and laptop synthesis. Here that translates into a jittery, unstable digital stutter in the low-end and some extravagant, knob-governed tone-sweeps in the high end, each jostling the other for dominance. Since Whitman loves ‘em both, neither is permitted to win, and whenever one sound-stream gets the upper hand he spins it around the room. This side spins at 33 rpm, but it still has a marvelous tactile quality; it’s the best pressed of Whitman’s splits to be released so far (there are still two to go).

The packaging, which showcases the aggregate art of Meredyth Sparks, only relates to the music so far as it is also a composite construction, but it stands quite nicely on its own. There is a 16-page black and white booklet that reproduces several pieces composed of layers of paper, fabric, and what looks like metal shavings; the LP sleeve offers a couple of vivid close-ups and comes wrapped in red string. It’s a very nice present all around. (http://www.amishrecords.com)
(Bill Meyer)

Weird Party
“Honey Slides” b/w “Sarah Palin” 7”
(Sex & Death)

Muscular rock/punk out of a Houston, TX combo with ex-members of the Fatal Flying Guilloteens and Sugar Shack. These two songs veer closer to the latter than the former, though even there it’s not all that close, unless you consider that they all play rock music with guitars and drums. Songs are jammed with lyrics, most of which play up some allegory (“I’m losing my mind” or “Look at this unlikely political candidate who is constantly losing and embarrassing herself and her followers”). I’m thrilled that they didn’t dig into any sexism or misandry while targeting Ms. Palin and the goals of the Tea Party, as confused and hateful a group America has seen since the rise of the Klan, so that’s a point for them. Neither song really packs too much of a punch, however, the band content to bounce some superballs and scoot through these two with as little contact as possible. They use pseudonyms like Keg Noisily and Behest Peen, pretty bold names for such an anonymous-sounding band. Well-meaning, and probably OK live, but this record isn’t really going anywhere new or fun. (http://weirdparty.bandcamp.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Weyes Blood and the Dark Juices
The Outside Room LP
(Not Not Fun)

Philadelphia-area ghost folk talent here, with a bunch of other releases preceding this LP. Natalie Mering, who is Weyes Blood/Bluhd/however you care to spell it makes an effective stab here with a mournful, spectral six-song smoke bomb across the dead of night. Those trying to escape melancholy moods might want to keep away from this one, as it’s a straight up downer from one end to the other, occasionally reaching towards the broken austerity of Alastair Galbraith or Syd Barrett, but infusing it with high pain and sonorous sorrow, rarely looking upward and channeling the aching effort made simply to exist out into the atmosphere. Though beautiful at times, it doesn’t beg to abstraction as much as the music in this realm calls for – only the formless “In the Isle of Agnito” can really claim this – so we’re more left with a Bryn Mawr alum sorta stance than the dead teen witchcraft revival feel that could have sent this soaring. Still good, just not the worldbeaters those Grouper records turned out to be. (http://www.notnotfun.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Skullduggery LP
(Katorga Works)
Silver Shampoo
Higher and Higher LP
(Krazy Punx)

These are getting reviewed together because both bands share three members (drummer “Prince” Gregory Rutherford, bassist “Bad Lt.” Harpal Assi, and guitarist “TV’s” Daniel Zeigler), and the split nature of the review really speaks to the schism between these two works. Really, they couldn’t be more different, and it’s worth paying attention to just why that is. Wiccans are a hardcore band, playing no-nonsense, fast, whip-smart, historically prudent hardcore, a thuggish-sounding vocalist belting over a variety of styles, mostly Midwest/West Coast in lineage rather than towards their Texan home. Of course the Black Flag is waved on the slower tracks; it’s also a gimmie at this point with them and others in their mode of thought. Regardless, it’s a satisfying listen, one which I hope will erect the middle digit to those who love to find the most arcane things to complain about with respect to a hard-working band caning their sound. Said individuals might have a stroke if forced to sit through Silver Shampoo. Let ‘em expire! The first few playthroughs of their debut LP (following a years-old single on What’s Your Rupture, all of which is repeated here) revealed a band whose intentions were absolutely maddening. Can they play? Really? What’s with all these mistakes, all this appropriation of glam rock and motorcycle club imagery? The true nature of this one eventually popped up late at night, without reservation one of the more defiant reveals I’ve experienced from a band in a long while. Much in the same way as Wiccans played their hardcore closer to the vest than most, Silver Shampoo couches British DIY simplicity in with the glam/bubblegum sounds that preceded that movement by a few years, in essence playing a game of their own device, all the rules made and broken by the band itself. Some songs will drive everyone crazy (like “Dogs,” that background noise you hear being the testicles of dudes retracting into their bodies all over the U.S.A.), but there’s the same spirit here as was found in all of the Yummy Fur’s records – sarcasm, boredom, and a willingness to smash boundaries and pre-conceptions. A band for angry people and a band to make people angry. These guys are living the dream. I’m way into both records. Silver Shampoo also features Paul from the Wax Museums, a band that shares members with another Denton band, Bad Sports. Keep pulling the thread and the whole town will unravel. (http://katorgaworks.bigcartel.com) (http://krazypunx.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

Woollen Kits
“Maths” b/w “Out of Town” 7”
(R.I.P. Society)

Even more garage rock from Melbourne, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing so much as an unsurprising one. Woollen Kits aren’t to blame for perpetrating any sort of pox on music, though (this ain’t HoZac!) and their two songs here bite down hard, with some bristling guitar work, psych rec room shroom giggles and punishing staredowns. They have a vocalist who sounds so much like Calvin Johnson, with his baby Frankenstein baritone, that these songs could be misinterpreted for early Beat Happening demos. Not a huge advancement for rock music as we know it, but a pleasant diversion all the same. Both sides are cool, with “Out of Town” edging out for the win. (http://ripsocietyrecords.tumblr.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

X Ray Eyeballs
Crystal 7” EP

Brooklyn via San Francisco ‘60s-worshipping garage rockers serve up a pulpy, soundtrack for juvenile delinquents with this 3-song EP. It’s the debut 7” by this Golden Triangle offshoot, preceded only by a couple of cassette releases and put out in advance of a full-length on Kanine. Side A’s “Crystal” is the catchiest tune of the bunch, and its slightly wavering pitch sounds like surf rock on cough syrup, as though the recording was slowed-down and then sped back up to add extra wooziness in the mix. The greatest distinguishing feature of the two songs on the flip side is the crude thudding of a standing drummer beating away with caveman-like glee, overdriven, fuzzed-out guitars, an in-the-red mix, and some of the whiniest vocals I’ve ever heard. If you can make out any of the lyrics on this, you have better ears than I do; for all I can tell the singer is just sustaining a series of “nyah nyah” playground taunts. It’s a spirited, dumb-on-purpose racket that makes for some good and trashy fun. The songs paint a strong picture of the stylistic trappings associated with the sound: girls with bangs and heavily-lined eyes wearing black stockings, guys in leather jackets, lots of tattoos, cigarettes, and cheap beer, a sweaty beach party peopled by permanently hung-over hoodlums dancing a sloppy twist. It’s a lifestyle and it’s yours for the listening. (http://hozacrecords.com)
(Ariella Stok)

“Natalia’s Song” one-sided 10”
“A Devil Lay Here” b/w “Basquiat” 7”

My introduction to the world of Zomby – you didn’t think I was gonna go tracking this down on my own, did you? – is this elaborate 10”, packaged in a sealed cardboard zip sleeve with inside and outside printing. Pull out the record and it’s all strobelike diagonal lines on the sleeve (what’s that font? Soulwax Condensed?). The record itself is a one-sided 10” with a screened image on the flip. How’s the song? Mellow. Very adult contempo pop stress balladry with dubsteppiness mumbling in the background, and not at all what I was expecting (not that I have any notion of what to expect). The 7”, which also previews Zomby’s new Dedication 2xLP, features two more tracks from the album. “A Devil Lay Here” initially comes across like something you might hear if they reprogrammed Casio consumer keyboards with a dubstep song when you press the “demo” button, a simplistic and rounded little pop song that follows the patterns and nuances of the genre to a mature and somewhat melancholy end. “Basquiat” serves as a piano coda to the track itself. And, incredibly, in the context of Dedication itself, these sounds thrive, percolating in their own environment rather than stripped naked in de-lousing chamber. If you like this guy (and you very well might), you’re probably doing yourself a favor by checking out the album itself, but that probably goes without saying. (http://4ad.com)
(Doug Mosurock)

s/t 7” EP
(Wizard Mountain)

This four-song EP of hardcore thrash looks to be the debut release from the latest project of Aleks Prechtl and Daniel Martens, also of PRSMS, and former Bay Area punk staple, Battleship, before the pair moved east to Brooklyn. Both sides feature deep and roaring vocals rendered unintelligible under a pound of sludge, skuzzy, distorted guitar, and drums that add up to a big, roiling sound that is genuinely frightening and exciting. Dark and doomy, gut-pummeling heaviness to set your heart racing and leave you winded. (http://neckandtongue.com)
(Ariella Stok)

Busted at Oz LP

30th anniversary edition of this longtime want, offering up a you-weren’t-there snapshot of Chicago’s punk/art/HC scene at the last nights of Oz, a former gay bar that opened its doors to the city’s underground music scene, much to the consternation of local cops and aldermen. Chicago machine politics carried over to its music scene, and major label blips on the radar were blown up to unrealistic proportions on radio and in concert venues, while the upstart punk/legit new wave scene was treated to arson, profiling, and abuse of power as a matter of course. That sort of behavior can drive a person mad, and from the looks of this comp and the sounds therein, those people chose to let out their aggressions at whatever venues would have them. Stalwarts of the city’s first and second wave, like the Effigies and Naked Raygun and Strike Under (more like Strike Underage at this point), are captured here in a pretty decent live recording, along with dark rock quartet DA, and “flyer bands” like Silver Abuse (whose closer “Jigaboo Jump” sheds some possibly troubling light against the mindset of this scene). The NR tracks make the comp, playing in the art-damaged, bass-heavy vein that they’d later drop for melodic punk with big choruses. Liner notes complete the story, but the insert pictures really tell it all: this was a hard town to live in, and it drove some of its bands and supporters well over the edge. Few other comps capture that sense of danger, and for that and many other reasons, this remains an oddball classic of an impossible time. Exact reissue, right down to the tip-on cardboard jacket. Sold out at the source, but proceeds for the pressing go to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
(Doug Mosurock)


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.

Submissions can be sent to:

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

Records need to be shipped securely in sturdy mailing materials and marked FRAGILE because the post office will destroy them otherwise.

Keep sending in submissions, please!

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