Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures

Label: SubPop
Year: 2005

Y'all are well aware by now that I have a soft spot for well executed fractured indie pop, right?
Cause, what's not to like? Not everything has to be an assault, or "crushing", or challenging, or whatever. Sometimes a comfortable melody with an off-kilter perspective is the perfect accompaniment to warm Spring day (or...barring a comfortable melody with an off-kilter perspective, may I suggest the Sandra Bullock vehicle 'Hope Floats' and a pint of butter pecan ice cream as the perfect accompaniment to a warm Spring day [or, a crippling break-up]?).
So, fine, it might not be tough, but personally my sensitive side needs some attention sometimes. I'm not afraid to admit it. I like baths. I enjoy the gentle murmur of a purring kitten. I eat tofu many times a week, guys. Estrogen does not threaten me!

If you've ever been too embarrassed to look into your girlfriend's (boyfriend' judgement here) Shins, Death Cab For Cutie, Elliot Smith, Band Of Horses, Matt Pond PA, or Sunny Day Real Estate're in a safe space here. It's ok.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oxbow - An Evil Heat

Label: Neurot
Year: 2002

File under: "Upsetting".
Oxbow congealed a lot of different influences and sonic approaches on this, their fifth (and sorta "comeback") album, and unleashed a crawling dread that hearkens back to some of the most intense and disconcerting music ever committed to tape. It's the combination of some of the most genuinely unhinged and feral howls of a song mixed with some of the most deftly crafted art rock attack. Songs that creep and stalk, and pry open a window to unleash the killing winds of a pitch black midnight storm. Never celebratory, never elated, always plotting. The soundtrack to discovering your girlfriend was cheating on you the whole time.
I think this record represents the band's creative apogee, in a oeuvre that is honestly beyond reproach, with it's restless creativity and menacing cloud. All of Oxbow's albums are essential, and they show no real signs of mellowing, but for a starting point, 'An Evil Heat' is not to be missed.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Gone Bald - The Expiration Date

Label: self released
Year: 2016

Part and parcel to the last post, here is Gone Bald, who are 1/3 of the band Blisters, and who we were pointed in the direction of at the same time as Blisters. So why not return the favor?

Gone Bald are more straight forward than the previous post, but they still manage to take their time swinging back and forth from Shellac styled tightly wound teeth gritting music to noisy mid 90s emo (Native Nod, Greyhouse, Car vs Driver), to some altogether weirder strain of post punk. It holds together really well though, and the way they stretch the songs out gives the band room to twist and turn in an organic procession of riffs, tempos, and feels.

I recommend this one highly. Supposedly they have been releasing records since 1994, but this is my first experience (naive as I am).


Blisters - The Sleepless Nights

Label - self released
Year: 2017

Hot (well...warm anyway) off the Shiny Grey Monotone tip line, comes this self described "noise-post-wave-swamp rock trio from the Netherlands (and Britain, and Croatia) who recorded this record back in 2010 hoping somebody would step up to shepard it out into the world, Which, it turns out, was a seven year process. Tough business. And unfortunately, in that time, guitarist Danny O'Reilly passed away, ending the band, which is a real shame.
The music is still here though, so, if you're an adventurous listener, enjoy.
Adventurous in this case being a band who has taken pieces of the Skin Graft Records catalog circa 1996, pieces of Pussy Galore circa 1988, pieces of some undiscovered Australian dirt rock band circa 1990 (Bloodloss maybe?), pieces of proto grunge Rein Sanction circa 1991, and pieces of the creepy crawl of Crime and The City Solution circa 1986.
It takes a couple minutes to get used to the "sound", but once you settle in, prepare to be unsettled.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Racebannon - In The Grips Of The Light

Label: Level Plane
Year: 2002

Normally I don't get down too hard with spazzy emo, or..."screamo" as the case may be. Which I will chalk up to age, and experience living through the paper bag 7" cover epoch of 1995. I spent many (too many) evenings in sweaty basements all over this great land of ours watching post-adolescent boys squeal and gesticulate and roll around on the floor playing fairly rote stop/start, quiet/loud, fast/slow two minute caterwauls. So, I am all too familiar with the aesthetic.
So when at the turn of the century some of that sound was coming back around, I was pretty well content to let that train hurtle on past. Basement emo wasn't a genre I was trying to bust (Fugazi ref...natch) as I was into my thirties.
Well, as to be expected, within that wave of bands, there were a few that were making new noise out of an old racket, and adding in various influences to create records that had a familiar DNA, but who's nose looked a little different than Current's nose. Maybe had more freckles than Indian Summer. Hair was curlier than Inkwell (shout out to Phil Fay!). Know what I mean?
Racebannon were rooted in a previous version of hardcore, but were certainly of their contemporaries for the most part. And while there is some of the emo violence of Blood Brothers (thankfully none of the annoying vocal whine though), and some of the sprawling fractured blitz of City of Caterpillar, and some of the grind-adjacent buzz of Orchid, the band managed to avoid the tedium of the genre as a whole. The songs stretch out, allowing them to expand and contract. So when they do drop into a double time attack, the vigor is there to propel you the listener into a different headspace. It's...dare I say, "artistic".
Or, maybe I'm overthinking it.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Totimoshi - Monoli

Label: This Dark Reign
Year: 2003

The easy thing to say with Totimoshi is; "are you having a hard time waiting between Melvins records?". But, that cheapens their take on fractured sludge rock, which quite frankly, gives the ole Melvins a run for their money. Cause, for one, every so often the Melvins kinda crawl up their own asses and try to be clever or something, which Totimoshi don't do. And secondly, Totimoshi come to the same satisfying conclusions as the best Melvins songs, but they do so with dashes of Loudspeaker's gutter grit, some Tijuana stink weed slink, and The Cramps' rave up stomp, which give it a unique flavor. There is adventure and expansiveness in these songs, couched in the warm overdriven fuzz of a blaring full stack.
So, really, we should dispense with all the Melvins comparisons, and just let Totimoshi stand on their own two feet (six feet actually, as they are a trio) as a the behemoth they are. Or were, as the case may be.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Six Feet Tall - Six Feet Tall

Label: self released
Year: 2016

From our Italian Bureau Chief Aaron Giazzon (we international up in this bitch!) comes this recommendation, which we in turn would like to highly recommend.
I would have never guessed based on the cover art, but this thing starts like it could be an old 16 record, and then settles into a slightly less concussive, but still throat-punching distorted thud rock, with hints of old Nineties noise rock scattered amidst the wreckage. A lot of touchstones get thoroughly molested in these six songs. And assuming you like guitar rock, then I think you'll find some common ground with Six Feet Tall. If you happen to like The American Psycho Band, then I think you'll really find some common ground with Six Feet Tall.
The Italian Psycho Band.


The Cooper Temple Clause - See This Through And Leave

Label: Morning
Year: 2002

Friendship test time.
Did you ever get deep into reading Q magazine round about the turn of the last century?
(there is a "right" and a "wrong" answer)

Well, maybe somebody here did. So, whatever. And maybe that somebody would scour that thing the same way he (or judgement. I get that gender is treated as fluid nowadays) would scour Maximum Rocknroll circa 1989 looking for anything written in Varsity font. But now he (face it, it's only a dude who could be this nerdy) is reading the fine print of who is playing the Carling stage at Reading alongside British Sea Power, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Nine Black Alps, Doves (before they got too big), Super Furry Animals (also, before they got too big), and maybe like, Turin Brakes or something. Bands that could only exist in England and make a living playing a blend of classic rock, post hardcore, brit-pop (sorta classic rock already), folk damage, and Manchester 1987 dance pop. Some weird hybrid of Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Fugazi, Small Faces, Badly Drawn Boy, and Oasis.
But I'm going to tell you, that shit has aged well. Better than most crap from the early Aughts (The Vines, anyone?).

If any of that made any sense to you, and you never heard The Cooper Temple Clause, give it a try. At least promise you'll make it all the way through the first song before passing judgement.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Black Flag - Live '84

Label: SST
Year: 1984

Best live record of all time?
Probably, right?

In 1996 I was working in a kitchen in Athens, Georgia cooking vegetarian food (and sometime washing vegetarian food off of dishes) on a line next to Stephen Tanner and Kyle Spence of Harvey Milk who at the time they were transitioning from the slow motion super bludgeon of 'Courtesy and Goodwill Towards Men" to the boogie thud of 'The Pleaser' (both are triumphs if you ask me). Which meant that the boombox in the kitchen during the shifts we worked together was playing one thing, and one thing only, Black Flag's 'Live '84' cassette (this was before it was re-released on CD in 1998). Run through side A, run through side B, and repeat. Repeat again. Again. Maybe 4 more times until the mop was put away and the slip mats were hosed off. If the three of us were working, it was Black Flag and talking shit. Some cooking and cleaning, but mostly talking shit and listening to this.
And we listened to it loud enough that generally once a night, someone from the front of the house would have to come back and tell us to turn it down as it was interfering with whatever Massive Attack record they were playing in the dining room. Pretty much every time.
Sometimes a Beatles cassette would make it into the mix, but generally it was this. Over and over again...this. And you want to know who minded? Not me.
Opening a set with 'The Process of Weeding Out' and then ripping into 'Nervous Breakdown' to clear the air? So perfect. Everything about this is perfect.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Blacklisters - Belt Party 7"

Label: Childhoodsweatheart
Year: 2010

The cover has a very Big Black feel to it, no?
Sonically though there isn't a pronounced Big Black feel to the three songs included, but I would imagine Chicago noise rock is in Blacklisters' record collection. Sonically I hear more of a mid to late 90's spazzy emo skuzz as translated by a band who (thankfully) have a solid grasp on The Jesus Lizard. So, it's noise rock, but noise rock that gets a little wild and wooly, and would most likely break a lamp in your living room whilst playing. It would no doubt have been an accident, and they would probably give you a shirt and a record to make up for your loss, I mean, they aren't assholes you know. Just guys who go balls-to-the-wall on occasion, which is totally acceptable under the right circumstances.


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