Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prag-demo CS (2013)

Trashed noise is a staple in these parts, and Prag delivers on their demo. I know nothing about this band but the music speaks for itself (it also helps that their name is an Oz reference). This is nasty, brutish rock played by a buncha cretins who sobered up long enough to do their homework on what good garbage sounds like. Somewhere along the line-I'd place it around the emergence of all the bands that followed in the Reatards' wake-garage and punk diverged from each other. By now conditions have worsened so badly that my punk friends think I'm being too obscure when I rave about Heavy Times, and my garagescuzz friends don't bother listening to anything, like Criminal Damage, that's popular amongst hardcore types. This is, of course, despite the fact that bands like Crim Dam and the Times are sonically indistinguishable to folks who haven't devoted (wasted) their youth to this mess we call punk.

    It's stupid, and someone should get to work healing the bridge between Punk and Garage (since at this point they deserve capitolization, given the sharp divergence). Prag may help us on that bridge over the River Kwai. Their sound is extremely simple, and thus effective: flailing morning star drumming, incoherently distorted gits, a bass that I'm sure is in there somewhere, and a singer who may or may not be singing in English-if it is, it's filtered through the raw Italish of bands like Negazione. "Concentrated Visuals" is the best track on this demo: a killer opening of brooding guitar and galloping bass drums, followed by vocals that sound like Tolkien's orcs. The song goes nowhere in particular; it just sorta swirls in and outta focus, like that hot girl/guy you just saw at the bar through whiskey-streaked eyes.

   Prag's good at building a world of misery out of the crude instruments afforded by the garage punk sound. And fuck do those drums nail you in place, while you watch the Discharge-style guitars soar and swoop like Stukas outta da sky. Hell, the singer's so bored by the band's radness that he's whistling by song's end!

I just spent two 'graphs ranting about one song and I didn't even talk about the coolest part of the demo (it follows "Concentrated Visuals"). If I hadda name-drop, I'd say these doods passed out in the rainwater-choked gutter somewhere between early Crazy Spirit and the brazen, chest-thumping stupidity of Sick Thoughts.

Do your part in re-inventing the wheel and making peace between Punk and Garage by supporting Prag. You can do that HERE! Then do yourself a favor and BUY A COPY OF THIS TAPE!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dot Dash-s/t LP (Totally Wired, 2013)

What can I say about an Austrian band that does  a pisstake on one of Johnny Cash's best and manages not only to not insult the Man in Black, but also does the tune justice, in the band's own incredibly idiosyncratic way? Tell you that they're good, that's what. Vienna's Dot Dash sound the way late November feels: playful in a somber sorta way. Like, it's cold now but fuck the Danube's gonna freeze soon and man I don't wanna leave my apartment but shit I REALLY won't wanna go outdoors in January, so I might as well go out while I can still get outta bed before 9 am.
The point is that winter's coming, folks, and this is one of the only good post-punk LPs I've heard in this beshitted year of Our Lord, 2013. There's a fundamental tension between work and play in Dot Dash's sound that they never resolve, intentionally, I think. After all, that was the question at the heart of the original bands' work, right?: Gang of Four, the Au Pairs, et. al., were always demanding that you answer for yourself the question, "revolution or drugs?" "good times or doing something that matters?"

Retrogressive snark aside, Dot Dash does the lilting, Leeds ca. '79 sound full justice on this LP. The winter gloom progressively darkens as the album moves forward: "Freeze" is trite, "No" simply confusing, "Care" fucking discombobulating, but by "Shy" we're in fully disconcerting territory. The singer barks out "I like watching things on TV" over numb, insistent minor-note guitar and Bauhaus-style riddim. The song mourns without stewing in gloom. The bassline of "Voodoo" is sinuous, menacing enough that I could probably listen to it alone without the slow-burn guitarwork. Sure it sounds like  Joy Div outtake, but at this point I'd rather listen to Dot Dash than Peter Hook & the Light. "Escape" could be the best track of the LP: a staccato, stop-start beat, talk-singing vox not unlike the great, majestic Sally Timms..

Anyways, look for this one on my year-end best-of list. Check it out, then buy it, HERE. Brought to ya care of Totally Wired Rex.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Natural Child-White Man's Burden 7" EP (2010)

I'm pretty sure that this is the sorta music white American teens had sex to back in the '70s, disco notwithstanding. Look up "sleaze rock" in the dictionary and you very well might find the cover art for this EP. Keith Richardisms aside, I love Natural Child for their unabashed celebration of rock as dumb teenage noise: blunt, straightforward riffage, lyrics about sex 'n' drugs, and a complete lack of interest in everything else.

I won't bother exploring why Natural Child felt compelled to write a song about the White Man's Burden; I'm pretty sure they're not in favor of (re-)colonizing Central Asia. Either way, it's a majestic, sprawling rock ballad that coulda been penned circa 1973. Best line: "thought rock 'n' roll was my own/but I found out we stole IT!/we ain't been here long enough to ever pay for IT/we ain't got 'nuthin' to our names but a shitload of MONEY...." Could you do better than that if you were Ernest Hemingway? No.
"Ray Thompson's Blues" is even better: pitterpatter drumming and vocals mixed so clearly you can hear every line as the singer yearns for Mexico. He probably isn't aware that for the last decade, Mexico's been a warzone, 'cause he's celebrating what us Yanks think of when we hear the name: beaches, sun, easy sex, and generally a life without any superego to get in the way of good times. It's blues-based sendup rock of the best kind. "Bang My head" is more of the same. Slightly more aggressive than the first two tracks, it's rambunctious, teenage blooz of the highest caliber.

I'm unabashedly re-blogging this from Iamtheleastmachiavellian blog. If you don't follow that dood already, you should be; you can download the EP there. Then you should BUY IT, for one lousy stinkin' gringo dollar, HERE!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lauren Bousfield-Avalon Vales LP (2013)

I don't know how this thing wound up on my "to review" list, nor do I understand why someone thought I would dig it. The PR page for this guy says that his main influences are Renaissance music and Tori Amos.*

I'm not remotely qualified to review this slab of high-pitched nebulousness. It reminds me of the first time I did 'shrooms. I was at some fancyschmancy outdoor concert (not a show, but a concert: y'know, assholes in suits and evening dresses on DATES! With their FIANCEES! Hilarious!). Half-way through this debacle, as choral singers were intoning about whateverthefuck over a harpsichord or somesuch classical biz I started seeing various historical figures of yore in the clouds: Genghis Khan, Charlemagne, Kim Il Sung (well, not him, but you get the idea). Shit got ugly real quick and I had to smoke about an eighth of weed with a friend before I started calming down.

 This LP  is a nightmare of fat, shrieking opera singers, breakbeats, and some sort of incessant, throbbing tic that may be my own impatience with pretentiousness, or it may be some sort of downtempo bullshit background noise, whateverthefuck.

 Listen to this LP, or not, here.

*When I'm not busy with real life (that is, punk rock, drugs, and alcohol) I study the Middle Ages and thus have a professional grievance with the Renaissance, conceptually. Buncha over-educated, under-employed Italian mofos workin' for the Medici and Visconti and Sforza et. al. thought they were fuckin' clever 'cause they re-discovered Carolingian minuscule and were duped into thinking they had found original, autograph-copies of Cicero's works when in fact C.m. was from the 9th century! HA! Fooled ya!And those assholes invented the term "Middle Ages" (Lat. medium aevum) 'cause these pretentious fucks thought that nothing worthwhile had happened between the Roman Empire and the 1400s.  Fuck the Renaissance and fuck high culture. And Tori Amos? Well, the less said the better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Another anti-censorship petition

Signing petitions is a pretty passive and futile sorta form of political action, but there ya go-looks like the U.S. govmint is trying to re-tool SOPA in conjunction with several Pacific Rim nations. This treaty would vastly expand the power of ISPs, private companies, and the US government (as if it isn't already powerful enough?) to store info on internet use and ramps up the penalties for downloading music.

Anyways, you should sign another petition, HERE!
(Do it even if you're not a U.S. citizen; it's not like the government of the U.S. listens to us more than you foreigners).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thee Hugs-Drug Use & Alcohol Abuse LP (2013)

Drums rarely set the tone for a band, at least in rock. Brisbane's Thee Hugs is an exception to that rule: this band's rhythm section careens, thunders, and clunks through this LP like a truck driver on crank. These ten songs manage to walk a thin line between Dick Dale surfrockisms and the more musically-adept end of  first-wave L.A. punk (like dis crew).

The debut single, "She's My Girl," spurts jangled surf guitar before the drums set the pace: this is rave-up garage played right, by guys who prolly were at home playing along to Sham the Sham records while the rest of us home, smoking weed. Again, though, the drums set the tone: mid-way through, they jerk the song to a halt and it closes on a crooning note. Helps that the singer ain't half-bad at sounding like a more frenetic, less controlled Jeffrey Lee. The guitar edges out the competition on "Sarsaparilla Shoes," putting in a memorable performance. My faverave track here though might be "Nazi Shooter," which is so charmingly juvenile in its faux-swagger that Legs McNeil himself couldn't'a done a better job. Holler-shouted vocals, needle-thin guitar notes, and rumble-in-the-jungle bangclang, although the rock-out-with-yr-cock-out bassline of "How Good Looking" is in a league of its own. Live it up.

In short, Thee Hugs are trafficking in an extremely formulaic and formalized genre, and manage to make it their own. That's no mean feat, given that most of the musicians and bands they reference here are at least thirty years old, if not going on fifty.

Get into it, and then buy the LP, HERE!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sideasideb-Old Adventures in Lo-Fi EP

Any of you kiddies like doing downers? Lemme tell ya, there's nuthin' like it this side of a major depressive episode. Things just sorta slow down and then (if you're lucky) stop moving altogether. Kinda like a normal day except with all the bad shit (read: most of it) carefully edited out so that it becomes a choose-your-own-adventure.

Of course, if you're operating on a head fulla Xanax, there ain't many adventures happening, but I digress. Sideasideb's second EP is sorta like that: things are indeed moving, out there, somewhere, but it all sort of mushes together in a blur of glacial synthesizer and mumble-whispered vocals in the distance. "Ten Speed" is probably the best track here: cutesy artsyfartsiness gradually gets serious by imploding into drum-guitar spazzfukery worthy of Hella. In fact, the mix of beats and spazziness sort of makes the comparison more apt now that those Hella guys are doing DeathGrips. I think they sped up the drum track at one point but who cares, right? Just let the Xanies guide you through this bit of rambling rattlenhum.

You can demo this bit of downed out weirdness here; hang out with the band here.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Louie Louie"

....'cause I'm too out of it to write:
"you know the pain/that's in my heart/it just shows/I'm not very smart...."
"...I said, ah, we gotta go now....."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Divided Minds-s/t tape (Doomtown Rex, 2013)

One of the reasons I started this blog was to scream and shout (textually, that is) in English about bands whose native language ain't said bastard tongue, in an effort to force you fuckers to check out non-Anglo bastard noise. So I'm always happy to rave about another Eastern European punk band,* and this time it's Zagreb, Croatia's Divided Minds.

DM traffiks in the same sorta mid-tempo slopcore we know and love from such past luminaries as Young Wasteners and The Observers. But both those bands just ripped off these guys or even The almighty Saints, you're saying to yourself. So what? Since Sham 69 started by stealing Mick Jones' best riffs, punk has meant nothing more than making good choices about who you wanna steal ideas from, musically or politically.

So Divided Minds does a good job of it! My favorite track is "Close to Death," which as far as I can tell is sung in Croat (I dunno which dialect, I understand that there's 3). Snazzy, mid-tempo punk much like the bands I mentioned above. Although "Black and Blank" is even better: neurotic, nervous, jerky punk that never slides into sheer ripoff runoff slop.

The cover looks like a cheap Discharge offprint, but don't let that deter you (or, depending on who you are, that's an endorsement). Check it out, THEN BUY IT, on bandcamp. Brought to ya care of Doomtown Records, Zagreb's best. DT Recs also dropped the Nuclear Spring 7", which you should be blasting as you get blackout drunk, RIGHT NOW. You haven't heard Nuclear Spring, you say? What are you, wicked, or something? Jeez.

*NOT a Warsaw Pact nation, thanks to lokalpatriot for the correction. All hail Comrade Tito!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sick Thoughts-Need No One 7" (2013)

So in case you fuckers haven't heard or noticed, B-More's Sick Thoughts is the current toast of the null-node-garageville-scene (constituted by me, whatever bartender can stand my presence here in the Old Country, a rolling pouch of Vannelle tobacco, and a bottle of bottom-shelf gin). Monsieur Jay Reatard left a massive void in all uv ower hartss when he kciked the bucket awhile ago and, dare I say it, add two or three more years to his run than I envision him actually goin', and Sick Thoughts' Drew will (is, in fact) fill[ing] said void.

Yup, the I-don't-give-a-fuck-but-God-do-I-love-Rock vibe I always got from Jay's best shines, even spits and shouts,* through, on everything Sick Thoughts has shat out since its brilliantly moronic inception. Which is a lot, in fact-dood has thrown three or more proper releases at us since the beginning of 2013, in addition to the sickeningly-awesome collabo project he's got goin' with Nick from Kent State.
All of this makes for preemo-primeo noise, voidoids. "Need No One" has everything you need for a great Saturday night: throwaway guitar leads that Johnny Ramone woulda thought rude, drums that Tommy never bothered learning 'cause they're that crude, and vocal lines that, and I have it on good information straight from whatever Ramone is still alive, y'all, Joey himself wrote and then discarded in a dumpster in Queens ca. 1976 'cause the kids at CBGBs woulda laffed him outta da rooom for singin' 'em. This beautifully beshitted 7" is ample proof that dood behind the sleez, Sick Thoughts don't need no one, and neither should you!

Get the picture? No? Well let me illustrate it WITH CRAYONS, you stupid cunts. Good, I finished this review and now I can get back to drinking gin straightout ov a plastik cupp.

Anyways, if you love crude rock and everything it entails, go buy yrself a pack of smokes, go home, blast this as you get blackout drunk, then start yr evening. I love you all, shitbirds.

*Especially given the blatant aesthetic rip-off-appeal of the cover aesthetics. JR LIVES, SHITBIRDS!

The Zoltars-Walking through the Dark LP (2013)

This band has a real knack for writing quirky, off-the-cuff garage tunes. Their Live Like Dragons EP had me jazzmatazzed and their second LP don't disappoint, neither. The sound is much the same, but there's more of it and the songs feel more focused than on said 3-song effort.

You get the feel, listening to this LP, that the Zoltars are playing more for their own enjoyment than 'cause they really wanna sell records or impress the girls. The production (recording? Same shit to me) gives it a hushed, almost subdued feeling that suits the lyrics well. Topics usually focus around lonely night trips, and wanting to get out of yr house simply 'cause it makes you feel alright. Sentiments I'm certainly familiar with, and the instruments are balanced just right on tunes like "Here in My Room," the opener. But let's take "Fear not Death" for a showpiece: constrained, restrained instrumental layouts, menacing guitar notes, and a singer gently, menacingly, repeating "fear not death." Ok, fucker, gimme that 6-shooter, the gin, and whatever pills you've got.

Make of that what you will, Zoltars are one of the few smash-it-up stellar reps of what passes for a garage rock scene in the States these days. Unlike most of the other groups in that category, they deserve garage star status because of their restraint: this band understands how much drama can be packed into build-up and the rising-action part of the story, and use the climax scenes very sparingly. They're best to blast when starting your evening. That means when you're on your 3rd drink of a 10-godknowshowmanynight, and you haven't done any (hard) drugs yet. Have fun, kids.