Tuesday, May 26, 2015
When I was coming of age in North Carolina it was known for three things back then: tobacco, basketball, and indie rock. No matter how hard my friends and I might have tried to get NC on the map for hardcore, it was the college kids and their ramshackle post hardcore indie rock that got all the attention (by this time COC had transitioned to full on metal [albeit really good metal] and Antiseen always had a....niche appeal..like the same dudes who were into professional wrestling [again, nothing wrong with that]). And for good reason, it's the best in the business bar none. Period.
To understand The Kneads you need (no pun intended?) to understand the cartography of North Carolina indie rock circa 1992, when Chapel Hill was king, and Polvo, Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Pipe, Small, and The Veldt were in high gear putting out seminal records left and right, defining a new version of alternative music that relied as much on the dissonance of Sonic Youth as it did the melody of The Kinks (by way of the dBs). Not that it was huge or anything, but people were into it and a "scene" was happening. Which was all well and good, but like most stories, there was more to it than just the big (and let's remember that "big" is a relative term here) names, there were bands scattered across the state kicking up their own strand of weirdo music, Raleigh had Picasso Trigger, Winston-Salem had Squatweiler, Rights Reserved was from Durham(?), Charlotte had the dirtier, nastier strain with Antiseen and Sewer Puppet (nay, Buzzoven), and Greensboro an hour to the west had their own thing going. Greensboro had it's own collage, it's own artistic subculture (although Winston-Salem had the actual band, Subculture), and most nights at the Somewhere Else Tavern or the Miracle House of Rock, or somewhere on Tate Street you could find Geezer Lake or The Raymond Brake playing along side whomever had the foresight to play a show the night before or after their Cat's Cradle gig.
Geezer Lake specialized in some particularly ugly art damage that went from sludgy dirge straight into crisp catchiness all on the back of a warped trumpet. And while the Raymond Brake have been posted here before, it bears repeating that their version of indie rock was some of the best of the era, from anywhere, from any time. Well, wouldn't you know it, but The Kneads features Raymond Brake drummer Joel Darden (who plays guitar here), and formerly featured Chris Clodfelter who piloted the aforementioned trumpet in Geezer Lake, and Slowchange Madagascar (he's no longer in the band though). And wouldn't you know it, The Kneads take all of the ingredients (vinegar based ingredients, naturally) that made North Carolina indie rock the greatest indie rock of all time, and distill them out into an updated version of the form. All the glorious fractured melody, all the off-kilter guitar surges, all the seething aggression and spite that hides just below the surface...it's all there. It's all there in and it couldn't make me happier. It quenches a specific nostalgia, but it's new and different and great in it's own right. This isn't a retread of Superchunk songs (although, yeah, you'll hear Superchunk in the mix), The Knead has synthesized a sound that defined an era, pays proper homage to it, and goes forth into the good night with torch in hand to show the way for a new generation.
Listen to "Jaded and Rejuvenated" and "Persistence Changes Everything" back to back and tell me your day didn't just get a fucking thousand times better. Cause it did.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Label: Mans Ruin
Australian garage punk that gets a little bit Dwarves and a little bit New Bomb Turks, and a splash of Motorhead, and a whole lot of simple good fun. Which, honestly, is enough on some days.
Three songs that blaze by nice and greasy, no frills, just straight ahead rock. Life ain't gotta be so serious all the time, you know?
John McKeering of The Onyas was n Cosmic Psychos, so there's that too.
Label: Blind Eye
Hankering for a blast from the not-so-distant past? The halcyon days of "noise-core" when Escape Artist and Hydrahead were championing a new twist on an old favorite?
Well, here you go. The scathing metallic hardcore tempered with asymmetrical noise rock you remember. Done. Well done actually.
I still contend that Today Is The Day is the patient zero from whence this form of music came, but that's up for debate I suppose. I mean, not really up for debate, cause I'm right on this one, but up for debate in that you can feel free to disagree.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Mike Meadows of Shiny Beast plays drums and bass on this one (albeit not simultaneously one must assume), and if you are a fan of Shiny Beast's sort of lumberjack thud, then you should do ok here too. It's not as Melvins-y as Shiny Beast, but it definitely has the same reference points Shiny Beast did. Lots of starts and stops where the guitar just feedbacks to fill in the space and the rhythm section (the one guy) plods along to the beat of their drummer (literally). Not unlike if Tad was covering old Floor songs. Kevin Collins of Subculture (aka the best NCHC band you never heard of, but who rule about as hard as COC, who have heard of), Erectus Monotone, and most recently Double Negative, plays guitar here. How these two North Carolinians ended up in Chicago playing in together as Bull is a mystery I do not have the answer to, but would love to know.
Another mystery I'd like to know is, did they name the song "Walsby" on this record after future Shiny Beast and Double Negative bandmate (and world famous graphic artist...peep the 7 Seconds Walk Together Rock Together cover for proof) Brian Walsby?
No vocals. So if that is a deal breaker, then....deal's off I guess. The instrumental nature doesn't bother me one bit with this band, you can easily get lulled into their messy groove and zone out to the noise.
Trivia: ex-Big Black bassist Dave Riley was in the original version of this band, and recorded with them on their first ep. Worth mentioning because...well...Big Black. If Bull was good enough for Dave Riley you can sure as shit bet they will be good enough for you as well.
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Label: Red Decibel
One Season To Risk post begets another I guess. And why not?
This, their second full length, is informed more by noise rock than by whatever it is they were informed by before (bar-b-que?). It's a little more staccato and punchy, and less grooving than the debut album. Which I'm fine with. Are you?
They recorded with Martin Bisi this time around, and that worked out well for them, as you might expect. A big but dirty sound that suits these more aggressive songs really well.
Great overlooked band. Don't overlook them any longer.
Friday, May 15, 2015
Label: Howling Bull
Sort of a departure for this blog, and for my own personal tastes, as generally I don't go for the "everything but the kitchen sink" style of spazz-metal. But in case of Spaceboy I make an exception. Certainly first and foremost because of the presence of one Clifford Dinsmore formerly of Bl'ast! on vocals. As a perennial favorite of mine, I'll check out whatever project he's in just on his reputation alone.
Aside from Mr. Dinsmore's allure, there's quite a bit more to love here. After the initial freakout of the opening track, the record settles into a more digestible mix of sludgy metallic hardcore fits and spurts. The band's moniker ought to be fair warning that things will get a little psychedelic at times. If not, fourth track "Pot Hibernation" will hammer the point home. If you can get into the way Rwake treats their Robotussin informed metal, then you can definitely get into this.
Recorded by Billy Anderson, so you know it sounds massive. The other guys in the band were in precursor band Gargantua, as well as The Fucking Champs and Villains. No slouches.
Label: self released
Weirdness works. Usually. And Texas bands generally know how to "weird-up" their noise rock. Or maybe it's not that they know, as much as they just do. Like, it comes naturally. Something about the heat and the bar-b-que and the politics of that place.
Gold Leather do it real well. They lock into driving grooves of death rock and ride those fuckers straight into the ground. Just hold on.
The songs are brightened (a term used lightly [a pun not intended]) with organ to highlight a general pall of creepiness that informs most of the songs. Whether lurching from their crypts or blasting across some sun baked prairie somewhere, the band crafts a fully encompassing sound that can easily lull you, the listener, into a state of semi-hypnosis whereupon you are urged to listen to the commands of you neighbors cat and indeed, finally quit that dead end job, finally give Donna from the marketing department what she's been hinting at for months, and finally choke out that piece of shit boss of yours, Skip. Fucking Skip. Fuck that asshole and his bullshit. The power compels thee! Head the Master's call (your neighbor's cat is named Master, right?)!
Top shelf low brow. Highly recommended.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Label: Red Decibel
A true relic of the early 90s, complete with major label shell company record release and attempts to "build ground buzz by pushing hard to college radio". But, in spite of it, Season To Risk put out a really solid record of alternative rock music as funneled through a noise rock filter. How you feel it's aged, well, that's up to you, and will most likely be a reflection of your age.
As for myself, I honestly believe that had I not seen Season To Risk before hearing them on record, I probably would have written them off as another Paw kind of band. You know, like a band that has some cool riffs and genuine heaviness but sabotages it with too much forced melody? There were lots of those bands during this time period. But, Season To Risk's live show was really loud, and aggressive, and mean and all that. So, when I saw the record I grabbed it, and could "hear" it as the live band. Don't know how you will "hear" it now, but I'm curious to know. If you can get excited by Helmet, Quicksand, 700 Miles, Barkmarket, and JJ's Paradise Players Club, and you aren't scared off by some actual singing...then I feel pretty good you'll enjoy it.
The other thing that keeps me revisiting this record every so often is what Season To Risk did AFTER it, how they got progressively dirtier and weirder but kept a distinct sound that was identifiable. It's like they learned from this one, and worked really hard to hone their songs. Plus, they put out a split with Glazed Baby. So...I mean shit, that makes them worth it right there. Also did a split with Starkweather, if that helps. They had Derek Hess drawing their posters and covers and stuff...they had it going on.
Members were in and went on to be in: Shiner, Glazed Baby, Roman Numerals, Life and Times, Libido Boys, Year Of The Rabbit, Joy Circuit, Gunfighter, Quitters Club, and on and on.
Give it a whirl in case you missed it the first time around, just maybe skip the last track...for everybody's sake. Neil Young covers are tough.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
You all know how much I like to go on record with outlandish claims, right? And you are all well aware of my proclamation of the 90's emo Holy Trinity of: Boilermaker, Car vs. Driver, and this band, Castor, right? We've collectively covered that ground many times previous I think. I've weathered the many comments of "what about Boys Life, or Giants Chair?" (they were in fact good, just not AS good), "what about Shiner?" (also a phenomenal band, but not exactly travelling in the same circles as the above mentioned...like, Shiner played at bars, and Castor played house shows. But, if it makes you feel better [or nullifies my own argument] Allen Epley of Shiner has vocals on this very album), "what about Sunny Day Real Estate?" (ditto the Shiner comment), and on an on. Yes, there were a million really good bands playing and releasing albums in the 90's and yes lots of them either self-identified or were deemed "emo", but for money, my bags and bags of gold bullion, Boilermaker, Castor and Car vs. Driver were the very best, and their collective discographies can be enjoyed today as easily as they were "back in the day" (can you say that about Christie Front Drive? No.).
But, let's get back to this record.
If you had the first record, then this one was a natural progression. The same rock solid songwriting. The same incredible (and understated) musicianship. The same alternately haunting and driving structures. The only difference would be in the vocals of Jeff Garber, where here he seems to draw out each word, stretching the lines, giving the overall performance an almost distant or ethereal quality. It's a only noticeable to those who are already familiar with their other recordings, and not a huge sea change or anything, just a new twist. Easily, this record is one of the best examples of this "type of music", and generally one of the better records in my collection. I love it dearly, and revisit it often. If you don't have it, please have it.
Members went on to National Skyline, Year Of The Rabbit, Skanking Pickle (eww), The Joy Circuit, The Great Crusades, Days In December, Centaur, Sarge, and Blue Meanies (again, eww).
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Label: self released
If you think "ex-Taint" gets my attention (see below), then how about "ex-Anodyne"?
Joshua Scott and Joel Stallings, the rhythm section of the very much missed band Anodyne are back (after also being "back" once before as the rhythm section of Defeatist) to dish out the crazy mathy, but still heavy duty rock n roll that you so desire. And by rock n roll, I of course mean grinding, start/stop, bludgeoning loudness. Which...is basically what rock music is. I think. I sorta stopped following the medium after that Monkees show went off the air (the reruns of course...I'm not THAT old).
No vocals. No guitar. All attack.
For a preview of what the album sounds like, take that cover art, enlarge it, and stare deeply into the center triangle as you move your head back and forth towards the screen. Slowly at first, but gradually picking up speed until you either pass out, vomit, or see the face of god. Whichever comes first (I personally saw a sailboat, but then again, I haven't been to church in a really long time).