Mar 29, 2007

Sun City Girls - Fresh Kill of A Cape Hunting Dog 1987 cassette

I decided it would be right and appropriate and all to talk about some Sun City Girls, in light of drummer Charles Gocher's death, as well as to properly recognize the maybe-less-than-obvious influence on bands comin correct these days.
Torch Of the Mystics
gets a lot of breath as the Girls most "realized" album, being cohesive and singular and all those other arty, meaningless words. And yeah, songs like "The Flower" are pretty ace. Actually, that songs is quite the worldly-hillbilly thesis statement, so maybe I'm being too harsh. But, to me the quintessential Girls albums are the ones that are staunchly unstaunch, that ramble and spread out to fill the loopy canyons of their nomenclature. There have to be a few tracks where you really wonder what they were thinking, and a few that are crystal clear. The way all those Sublime Frequencies comps are laid out, with shit just being lifted straight off the radio and pieced together--like Southeast Asian versions of when you were a kid trying to get your favorite single off FM--is a more explicit version of their approach to albums. It's music filled with, not fueled by, ideas.

I'm a big, honkin' proponent of unserious music played seriously. Although I don't always love what they do, the Matmos approach is pretty mint. It's very high concept, but you don't need to know the concept to dig it. Serious music equals liner notes and undivided attention. Unserious music can be appreciated while you're flossing. So if it's going to be academic, I'd rather it be unserious.
The Girls are seriously unserious. I love the idea of them getting punk crowds riled up because they decided to sound like Henry Flynt on a bender one night and snubbing the Fluxus crew by playing straight-up unironic bluegrass the next. Sometimes you gotta use your chops to take the piss, and sometimes you use your piss and get chopped or something. Does that work? I guess it doesn't. Humor's what I'm driving at; fun's where the fear is. The Girls might be the most avantgarde (barf) band ever if only because they wore so many hats, but they wore them all in a goofily transcendent way.

I should be speaking of them in the present tense, but let's be honest: '87 was their day. Now they cut fancy solo records on Revenant. They release field recordings of bugs that sound like Alva Noto. Basically, they went all hi-hat on me when I wasn't looking! And, yeah, I can dig all that stuff, but not like when they were young and crazy. When it boils down, that's all I really want music to be: young and crazy. Or old and world-weary, because that's where you end up, I reckon. Skip the middle part. Trust me.

The Fresh Kill Of A Cape Hunting Dog is SCG in their prime: on some unnameable drugs, making Jackie-O Motherfuckers everywhere drool for the stoney and droney sound without even trying. There's your standard histrionic bit ("I Told You So"), but it's tongue-in-cheek histrionic, so you can get through it once. Okay, I'm being gentle. That song blows and the joke is pretty trite. But that's okay, because "Entrail-Littered Savannah" is it's mature brother. Still fucked up, but much closer to having his shit together. He quit drinking and only does barbs if he runs into his buddies at the gas station. He's all right. He'll make it out of this crummy town yet. The upside to this album is that the bad ideas are all short and the good ones go through the long cycle of blossoming, wilting, then blossoming again. My favorite bad idea is "Casa Loma", what with the shapeless art-fried collage fudgemania. Or "Avoid the Hyenas" because it sounds like Jerry Lewis as Screamin Jay while being backed by Instant Automatons. Oh c'mon, you try getting words around the Sun City Girls! Bend your neck, son; these Girls are starting to die. Pay your respects before the reissues roll out. Sorry. Is it too early to crack jokes? Is he planted yet or is Temple of Bon Matin giving Chuck the James Brown treatment? I mean, how many old camp sites can you revisit? Oops, I'm still doing it.
I'll close on a positive note, like people say I should: "Atomic Jackals" is POP GOLD. For reals. Spin that shit until you're green from watching the label go round and round. Play it backwards. Play it sideways. Chop & screw it for all those kids you know into Paul Wall and Black Mayonnaise. It's the blueprint for everything on Load and Bulb and Skin Graft and anything else ever to walk the mean streets of Olneyville, even if those kids were too busy listening to Slayer to notice. Someone old played it for them. Now I feel old because I'm hyping it because one of them died. I should pay more attention to my own criticism: stay young and crazy.

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