Sunday, May 31, 2009

Phoenix-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)

So i picked this album up for 8 bucks at target because of all the hype. literally i read glowing reviews everywhere for this album hailing it as the best slice of indie pop ever, blah blah blah. So i have listened to it a few times. Basically their sound is Of Montreal if they hadn't made music the music they made after "Satanic Panic In the Attic" which, by the way, is a good thing. Really all this is, is quirky Strokes influenced indie rock, nothing more, nothing less. The single "Lisztomania" might be one of the best songs of the year but this album is very average. I really wouldn't recommend it nor would i condemn it to the fiery depths of music hell, it's just average. so yeah don't believe the hype but download "Lisztomania"

show: black dice, wolf eyes, sir richard bishop & earthless

black dice at the escarpment
So this was my first show since moving to LA, and what a killer line up it was. It was also in some warehouse out in the warehouse district, so it was pretty deep in the cuts. I guess the same incarnation of this show that happened in SF last night was shut down by the fuzz. No police problem tonight, though, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Although we arrived late, Earthless had not yet started their set when we entered the cavernous warehouse. Despite the fact that there seemed to be a reasonable amount of people at the show, it wasn't difficult at all to get up right in front of the bands, so we got a good view.
Earthless played one long, grooving psych jam that was pretty fucking killer. I think the drummer was probably the best part of the group, to me; the guitar player was mostly off in his own world, and the bassist was locked into his own groove. But the drummer kept the momentum going, even when the guitar playing was getting aimless, the drums provided interesting fills and the necessary intensity.
Sir Richard Bishop was up next, and I have to admit that I was really stoked to see him play. I'm not super familiar with the Sun City Girls catalog and I've only heard some of his solo stuff, but I've liked what I've heard. It surprised me that he was playing with a full band; it was even more surprising that what he played was a south-Asian surf-guitar prog-rock sound. It was good, and fun, but pretty goofy. I was expecting something more like when I've seen Tom Carter play, who can rip it up. But this was good too. The fat kid in the Black Flag tee, who had been headbanging to Earthless, did a nice little jig to Bishop's set.
The area in front of the stage got more packed for Wolf Eyes than it did during any other point in the night. Wolf Eyes are some funny looking dudes. It's interesting to me to think that probably most of the performers tonight were 30+ years old, despite the young and hip demographic that came out to watch them. So after an extended mic check, Wolf Eyes launched into their dark and threatening take on noise. It was cool, and super fucking loud, but maybe not totally engaging. I enjoyed it mostly for it being an overwhelming aural attack, rather than being very substantial. We went outside midway through the set, and the sound outside the warehouse was phenomenal. It sounded as if a massive demon had been conjured from the dark pits of hell, and was thrashing to escape the warehouse in which it had been imprisoned.
Finally, Black Dice took the stage. The last time I saw Black Dice, if you'll recall, we spent most of the time drinking in front of the Great American Music Hall, rather than enjoying the set. I think that this performance was a lot more engaging, in part because I was not intoxicated, but also because it seemed a lot more rhythmic than last time. There was a great visual show going on behind the band, and they guys did their best to find hypnotic and grooving loops in the squall they were generating. They didn't always manage to find those moments, but when they did, it was pretty captivating. In all, it was a great show, I had an excellent time, and I'm looking forward to similar shows in the future.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lisa Germano-Geek The Girl (1994)

So this is by far one of the most honest, dark, fucked up records i have ever heard. It's not musically scary or even adventurous. It's the sheer emotional power put to tape on this album that's scary. Lisa Germano played in John Melloncamp's band for years. She played in the background as a fiddle/mandolin player, never ever seeing the spotlight or anything like that, but she was writing. When she had enough material she quit John's band and started her solo career. Her first album is alright, just kinda getting the feet wet solo rock stuff. This, her second album, is downright fucked up. The vocals are delivered in this creepy hush and the instrumentation sounds as if it's being played under some not so deep, yet murky water. The lyrics are where this album hits a perfect 10. Super dark lyrics about self analyzation and questioning oneself and your surroundings in this world, kind of a "why does the world work this way?" vibe without having one ounce of self pity emo bullshit. more a challenging "fuck you" to the way the world treats decent people. There are songs about being an outcast, date rape, just plain rape, and a song that literally samples a real 911 call of a woman getting attacked in her own house by an unknown attacker. If you can imagine a bruised and bloody Liz Phair singing a better version of her first album from a gutter than you are coming close to the intense nature of this album. I recently saw the movie Repulsion and to me this is the audio equivalent of that movies themes.

On the spine of the album it says "P.S. FUCK OFF and die to all rapists and stalkers" and i couldn't agree more.

The Gories-I know you be houserockin' (1994)

So this is a compilation cd of the 2 Gories albums that came out in the late 80s/early 90s. 25 tracks of pure garage rock brilliance. Basically what this band is all about is they were the first of the garage rock revival bands years before there was a garage rock revival. The sound is basically, at the root, a 60s "nuggets" band instilled with a lot of The Cramps and a bit of Pussy Galore. It never gets boring because it is like a little nuggets band that experimented a hell of a lot. Most of the songs are about drinking and hanging out and being drunk while hanging out. It's got a very nice mood about the whole thing, it feels very complete, lots of rockers, lots of ballads, lots of noise, lots of scuzz, this is a dirty record that needs to be recognized. also their cover of Nilsson's "Early In the Morning" is fucking incredible

Bob Drake-What Day Is It? (1994)

Recorded in a few weeks in Burbank California(very close to where i grew up) alone in his apartment in the Valley in 1994, this man at a younger age made what i think is one of the greatest modern prog rock albums. Imagine if you will a world where Built To Spill jammed with Yes and had country leanings and at the same time interjected a hell of a lot of cheap Halloween creepiness into the music then boiled it down to one nerd in his room with an 8 track. That is what you get. He sings songs about ghosts and backyards and bugs and more creaky houses and just plain fun weirdness. Things never get too serious or too jokey. It's this wonderful middle ground that keeps me coming back. Oh and the musicianship is uncanny. I mean scales and fret jumps and weird backmasking and pedals galore, this is really a feast for the ears.

sorry couldnt find cover art

Monday, May 18, 2009

gojira - the way of all flesh (2008)

This was one of my favorite metal albums last year, although that came as a surprise to me, and I'm still very much getting to know it. I didn't really care for their previous album- 2005's From Mars to Sirius- despite the fact that I had read some fantastically positive reviews for it. The issue I took with that album (at the time) was that I felt it lack intensity and focus- it felt choppy and violent, but ultimately directionless. I don't know if I would still feel that way, if/when I go back and give that album another listen, but Gojira's new album seems more cohesive and even catchy in places. They sound really heavy, and they are "death" metal in the more earlier sense of the term- they aren't as harsh as some of their contemporaries, and are closer in spirit to bands like Cynic or even Metallica. The downtuned, chugging guitars and complex rhythms bring to mind a catchier version of Meshuggah's Nothing, or Strapping Young Lad, but the most obvious point of comparison for this band is maybe Sepultura. Both Gojira and Sepultura are from non-English speaking countries, both bands are composed of a guitar playing/singing brother and a drumming brother; both bands are politically left-leaning- in Gojira's case, the focus is on environmentalism. The similarities must not have been lost of the Calavera brothers (of Sepultura) because they invited Joe Duplantier (Gojira guitarist/vocalist) to be the bassist in their new band, Calavera Conspiracy, last year. Aside from the biographical coincidences, Gojira made me think of Sepultura in their down-tuned proto-nu metal phase on Roots. The Way of All Flesh sounds thick and supremely heavy, but at the same time very active and energetic. Also, "The Art of Dying" is AMAZING. I think that this album still loses steam in certain points, but when it all comes together, this is really technical, intense and supremely listenable metal.

Gojira - The Art of Dying

Thursday, May 14, 2009

You Owe Me A Six Pack

the following was taken from the recent pitchfork interview with mastodon's guitarist brian kellhier(spelling?)

my theory was that brann daillor wrote most of the album and it was his sister skye who committed suicide to inspire much of the albums lyrics.

you said it was Troy Saunders who had the sister that committed suicide.

the answer lies below

Pitchfork: Does the whole band get together and think these stories up?

BK: Honestly, most of it was our drummer Brann [Dailor]'s idea. He's really behind a lot of the concepts of the records. He's a big Genesis fan, Peter Gabriel, Lamb Lies Down on Broadway kind of guy. And he's into writing these crazy ideas-- well, not crazy, but interesting ideas. So he took a trip a few years ago to Russia. I've watched a lot of Discovery Channel stuff on Rasputin, you know, and I've seen bands put him on the cover of their albums and all that crap, but this is like totally different. I think it's a lot more interesting, more in-depth.

He went to Russia and saw the architecture and artwork. Like me, he's probably always thinking, "Well how could this pertain to the band?" Also, they have a tourist-y thing you can go on where it shows you where Rasputin had his last meal and where they tried to kill him in the Czar's palace. They have the steps that he went down to the river where they stabbed him and shot him and finally threw him in the river to drown him because he just wouldn't die. So he took that trip and saw that stuff and was inspired to kind of put that into the next record somehow, somewhere.

Pitchfork: It's funny; every Mastodon album has these big, overarching concepts, but it's completely possible to listen to the records without getting any of that at all. It's not like you're throwing like Russian folk music in with it or anything like that.

BK: Yeah, exactly. It's all sprinkled in there, and it's all metaphors for other things. And you don't really see it unless you are really listening and looking up lyrics and reading into it. But it's definitely in there.

Pitchfork: Have you ever thought about making an album without sort of building this whole mythology around it?

BK: No, not really. I mean, I don't think we can now. I think we have an expectation to live up to nowadays. But I don't know, I can't imagine not having some sort of story or some focal point on the record. I think it helps us as a band, as people, to work together better. I feel like we're all striving for the same prize, the same goal. At the end of the day, we just kind of like, "Oh well I've got an idea that would tie in with this, is that cool?" And usually, everyone's ideas, once there's a common agreement of what we're going to write about, I just can't imagine writing without that. I think it would just be harder to concentrate on what we're really going towards.

Pitchfork: You guys do know that there is an old Ohio prog band called Crack the Sky right?

BK: Yeah, I think I was looking it up online when I found that.

Pitchfork: So it's just a coincidence?

BK: I'm not sure. I mean, I want to say maybe. Because I know that Brann had a sister who passed away maybe 15 or 20 years ago whose name was Skye, and I know he wanted to incorporate that in there. I guess I would have to ask him. I'm not sure exactly how he came up with that name for the record, but it might be a coincidence. I mean, there was an old like a Christian prog rock band, too, called Mastodon. We didn't know that until later. It may be a coincidence, or maybe it's not; I'm not sure.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Poison Idea-Feel the Darkness (1990)

So this cd is pretty much pure unadultered fucked up hardcore punk with some metal moments thrown in. I would pretty much say this is a drug addled drunk henry rollins in Black Flag fronting a more metal influenced Black Flag who really didn't give a shit about issues or anything political. The music is loud fast hard and rumored to have influenced Turbonegro into starting their career through their music.

I recommend this highly to anyone who is in need of some fast, loud, hard and fucked up rock music.

oh also apparently Tiny Tim tried to sue them over the cover but stopped when he found out they had no money.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

dødheimsgard - supervillain outcast (2007)

Although they started out as a black metal band in 1994, by the release of Supervillain Outcast in 2006, Dødheimsgard (or DHG) had morphed into something very strange and hard to label. A good point of comparison might be Ministry, given the predominance of dancey industrial tempos. But instead of starting out as a pop group and morphing into a metal band, Dødheimsgard took the opposite path. That's not to say that this is pop- its still very much metal- but its really, really strange metal. Blastbeats, harsh vocals and down-tuned guitars are present, but in odd time signatures and joined by electronic squeals and occasional choral singing. Songs lurch from point to point, thrashing at one time, grooving at another. I get the sense that the band has a fairly healthy sense of humor- the name of the record alone indicates so. I also get the feeling of confidence that older, technically experienced bands have- despite the oddness of the record, it doesn't sound like they had any doubt about what they were creating. That fact becomes even more impressive when you consider that the last album they released before this one had come out seven years prior. I don't know if "true" metalheads care for this one much, but personally I think this is one of the best and most unique metal albums I've heard in the last few years.

Dødheimsgard - The Snuff Dreams Are Made Of
Dødheimsgard - Apocalypticism

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Trend-Tritonian Nash Vegas Polyester Complex (1986)

So the question this album poses an album great because it is inherently great or because of the circumstances under which it came out. For this album the circumstance would be time period. I say this because this album is really fucking awesome for the time period it came out in. It doesnt sound old at all, i mean in terms of the musical genres being explored it does take from blues, jazz, country, and harder rock stuff but the way that it is blended is way ahead of it's time. I mean this album is a ridiculous mess in a great way but it still is a mess. it's one of those proceed with caution albums, you don't just play this one for anybody.

Now for the sound. Well it kind of sounds like Flipper/Devo/Dead Kennedys/Dead Milkmen/Pere Ubu/Frank Zappa jamming together with a jazz/swing/country bar band backing them up. It's very quirky but at the same time it has this midwest sick jesus lizard kind of darkness to it. I mean look at the fucking cover and it kind of explains the whole thing, campy/kitschy with some fucked up shit smeared all over it.

So i guess the story(there isnt much of one) is these guys were from Maryland and started the band in 1983 and broke up in 1987 and this album came out on touch and go in 1986 and was there 22nd release, probably the weirdest album i have heard from their earlier period. touch and go reissued it in i think 2007 for no reason at all, there are no bonus tracks, no new liner notes, no new artwork, nothing just the album remastered.