Dec 17, 2012


Tis the season to cover yer keisters, meesters, & judgin' by my compatriots' sleighfuls of slayers, I'm hangin' at least half a rump. So here's one I know I gotta sneak in before the year's over, plus the rest of my favorites from 2012. I'll see y'all in tax season!

Letha Rodman Melchior/Tretetam
Moon Mountain cassette
ed. of 75

The most artistically productive household in the country (there should be a golden statue for that) has produced another lil marvel. When one also ponders alla that productivity comin' out of some seriously rough times, well, it's all the more impressive. Letha's past output under her Tretetam bonnet has made the Finns happy (though I've yet to set ossicles on any of 'em), & who can argue with a country that produced Circle of Ouroborus, Kemialliset Ystävät, & a folk record of people impersonating bears? This is a good deal more contemplative than that-there list, though. Much like Letha's paper collages (one of which is the cover to this tape; others have appeared on Dan Melchior's releases), there is a play with nature at work here; a repurposing of familiar aural elements (room tone, distant TV dialogue, birds, rambling nature) with clarinet & keys that makes everybody feel like a kissin' cousin. To further confound & impress, Letha gathers wool from Satie, Appalachia and Yiddish folk songs (and not just cuz there's a clarinet; I ain't so lazy)! I also detect a dialogue with the tape format, as much of this seems to shiver out of the speakers like breath breaking in winter air, which suits the hum and hiss of my tape deck just fine. It's warm & brisk; tentative but not anxious; sprawling & focused. & it's gettin' more use in this house than my pocket knife. Sold! Bring it home, nuzzle it between Idea Fire Company's Island of Taste & the second half of Caethua's The Long Afternoon of Earth, & watch that sucker grow.

Might still be a few left, but this started out as half-a-handful, so you best beat cheeks.
While yer at it, donate to the fund here! It should always be the season.

Lower Plenty - Hard Rubbish (Special Award/Easter Bilby)
Dan Melchior - Excerpts & Halfspeeds (Kye)
Helm - Impossible Symmetry (Pan)
Fabulous Diamonds - Commercial Music (Chapter Music)

Mordecai -  Waste 7" (Wäntage)
Call Back the Giants - Incidents of Travel 12" (White Denim)
Trash Company - Having Fun 12" (Peoples Potential Unlimited)
Circle of Ouroborus - Mullan Tuoksu/Pehmeät Kasvot/Sisään Katsovat Seppelesilmät cassette trilogy (Kuunpalvelus)

X-Wave - Cities on Flame LP (Little Big Chief)
Kenneth Higney - Attic Demonstration LP (One Kind Gift)
Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 2xLP (Numero/Chocolate Ind.)
Coitus Int. - Dead Excitement 7" (Bunkerpop)
Shadow Ring - Remains Unchanged 2xLP (Kye)
Woo - It's Cosy Inside LP (Yoga/Drag City)
Tav Falco & The Panther Burns - She's the One to Blame 7" (Mighty Mouth Music)
Drywater - Backbone of the Nation LP/7" (Time-Lag)

Dec 8, 2012


Call Back the Giants
Incidents of Travel 12" EP
ltd ed of 324

Happy as larry to finally be covering Call Back the Giants here, & this is a solid start. Absent is Tim Goss's compatriot Chloe Mutter, as are the verse-chorus intimations of previous releases. (Makes sense, as these are newly-minted songs; much of the Kye output was complied from earlier recordings.) In their stead are haunted, sweat-soaked debriefings that sound as though they were recited from the ballast of a wayward ship. There are bits of rhythm about, too, as in the hurried, ticking shuffle in the last half of "On the Fourth Day," which coulda cropped up on an ol' Craig Leon LP. The compositions, except the classicly CBtG "Snatch Bats," seem a bit roomier, every section/movement segueing purposefully, and w/o compromising the humor or the anxiety.  Also of note are touches that I can only call vaguely Teutonic; a bit of Eno in Berlin here ("Fever Dream/The Hunt,"), flashes of Irrlicht over there ("Four Hundred Boys"). I'm also reminded of newer-model Coil, sans binge drinking. But really what keeps Goss from gettin' pegged any which way (minimal synth, drone, etc.) is how little anything feels automated. Despite the piles of tech, never does one's awareness of the human at the helm, the touch of keys & the turning of knobs, abate. Errybody's got a rhythm all their own; Scott Foust nailed that about the Shadow Ring crew long ago. (I promise that's the only time I'll bring them up!) Goss ain't quite in front of, on top of, or behind the beat. Time & pitch drift. Sounds move like bodies. Surrendering delicacy to the gear is the stuff of an Asger Jorn migraine. So here's a big "phew" that all is well, though slightly menacing, in Goss's household galaxy. A whole litany of today's players oughta plop down with a steno in front of their 'table & get learned--like, yesterday, cuz we both know his releases dip out early. If'n you sleep, sweat not; there's a full-length slated for 2013 on Kye called The Marianne.

Get sorted over at White Denim, a label that continues to dole out plenty pause. There's a sample up, too.

Dec 6, 2012


The Hotels
self-released CD/download

I'm a recluse in this town, wadded up in a tornado of mess-making in a dank corner, straight-drippin' caustic home-brewed venom. And it's about 86% my fault. I done up and torched almost all the bridges that run to my little island for all kindsa unmemorable reasons. But every once in a while, I do something right.

I know the folks behind this music. And rather than plop down a delineation of the classic strain of power-pop they deal in (see Cheap Trick, Yellow Pills: Prefill, etc.), I have decided to make a public appeal. It be addressed to whatever major labels still bobbin' in the wake of iTunes et al.  
You want these folks. 
They will make good things happen for you. 
There are three minutes and thirty-something seconds of widespread air-time out there that either aren't being used at all, or are gettin' scarfed up by some candy bandit. Unfortunately, you will have to find a way around their application of the word "fucking," I reckon--though, Clear Channel squishes bugs with Benjamins, so maybe they can make an exception. (Said use is so apropos, for the record, it's like the word just got invented this morning.)
Even if y'all execs find everything on this record to be gravy in which the practically-perfect radio single "Summer Sux" floats, you will not regret a second. And I and this foursome of solid humans will thank you.
Seriously, though, you got a cigarette you can spare?


No, this ain't no repost, just me dippin' back into my title kitty. That piece on Southern Comfort done got me thinkin' bout how much time I spend, huddled in the dark, droppin pitch on singles. It ain't always an improvement, but it seldom disappoints. The process also reminds one of a principle difference between vinyl and all other audio formats: you can fux wit it. Where's the fun in a format on which ya cain't leave fingerprints?

Here's to showin' your singles you's goin' steady. Let's begin with a fistful from Peoples Potential Unlimited.

The Campfire
The Heat of Your Love b/w Truely [sic] Love 45
Peoples Potential Unlimited PPU-037

Let the drinks kick in, tip the speakers out the window, and pour one out for good sense gone by. At 33rpm, this 400ft-long Cadillac 80s G-funk synth boogie belches more fog than a Hammer horror film. Head dude of this Illinois act circa '85, Raynard Mayfield Sr., can go on about the heat of her love all he wants; the multitracked rumbles of "YOU GOT IT" beckon like fingers of cartoon stench. A solidly eerie and erroneously erogenous A side. "Truely [sic] Love," on the other hand, gets the carnival spins like back to back ferris wheel rides and a half lb. of fried dough with extra sauce. I'm talkin' nausea's answering machine message, your brain phonin' up to see which way is "down," while yer ass is already on its way. It's an ol' question, but it bears repeating: Who needs drugs?

Shelve (Shelby Hurns)
This World (Vocal) b/w This World (Dub) 45

Anybody named Shelby who expects the whole world to pronounce "Shelve" as "Shell-Vee" and further understand that it's meant to be an amusing (?) play on his given name is clearly workin' with a set of wrenches we all musta mislaid. Ol Shelve do cut a sharp figure on the back of the sleeve in his rented tux and lipstick red cummerbund. But those eyes don't convey the silk sheets and rose petals of 80s R&B or the quick-n-dirty salvation of gospel. It's a listless, aloof gaze. However ajar be the limo door, he's puttin' out dangerous loner vibes here. "This world/is not my home," goes the hook, riding the James Bond melody (no joke), Shelve's voice stuck mid-throat. Maybe he's testifyin' 'bout some theme park in the clouds, or maybe just pining to be back in his home studio. I ain't so sure I wanna ride shotgun; think I'll just call it a night.

Tim Tucker & Freddie Fonk
Love Passed Me By b/w Captured 45
RysQue' Records RR-004, 
300 copies (1st 50 w/ insert pictured)

Tucker and Fonk were part of a budget-funk group called Davinity at some point, and that is where my wispy tracking skills stop the trail cold. Maybe you could do better?
Experientially, there ain't a major difference between Tucker's "Love Passed Me By," at 45 and 33, exceptin' maybe that 33 sets the Nintendo brain-virus florishes in higher relief. A lotta this stuff owes hefty Parliament/Funkadelic back rent, but I detect herein something of a Grandmaster Flash bail-out. No complaints there!
Fonk's side at 33 could comfortably slide into one of the amorphous Not Not Fun subsidiary hagiographic warped-VHS-coveting side projects (clear as dirt?), were it not for its legit weirdness. Ever stumble across those early 90s Mexican-American ninja-cyborg hybrid flicks? Somewhere buried in the 2nd act is always some kind of unctuous sex scene wrapped in mosquito netting and cheap lace, and this is exactly the tone and texture of the music I imagine is playing (until I lean on the FF like it's a hassock). Not an easy pedigree to slam dunk, but there it be, staring back at ya from 7 gleaming inches of vinyl.

Nov 28, 2012


Moon B
Promo/Test Pressing 12"
PPU No Cat #

Advanced, white label copies of this ATL native's full-length debut following a nice private cassette (that's still available over at Earcave). Dis puppy, on the other hand, musta vanished while this review was in draft mode! They call it boogie, apparently, but to these ears this likewise mines mid-80s Ryuichi Sakamoto OSTs and early 90s "armchair" electronic (doesn't that land with half the lead of a term like IDM?) comps like Artificial Intelligence with spare sticks of dynamite in both back pockets. Whodathunk a smattering like that would work? I'd call it "armchair boogie" but that other looney beat me to it. Ambient boogie? I'll get back to ya. No idea on any titles, but that ain't a pressin' concern. Everything muddles a bit what with the short equipment checklist and wounded production, and there is the foreboding sense that at any moment the whole mess'll start vogue-ing next time the cowbell key is struck, but it holds strong and leans on the weird. And that's really the hallmark of it's era: all the jeri-curl eye-roll and crooked sunglasses of the imagined era it evokes (where Bernie Worrell, Wings of Honneamise, and The Black Dog spoon on a sticky dancefloor) have been smudged into tape fuzz amnesia. A lil calculated? Mightcould see it that way. But, more importantly, it kinda slays. Does Dan Lopatin need a touring partner? I sense a shared polygon window on the world.

Nov 21, 2012


Personal Space: Electronic Soul 1974-1984 DBL LP/Clear DBL LP/CD
Chocolate Industries/Numero 2012

We’re a good 10 months into this pressing ‘n all, but I’ve only withheld because I been in such a solo-donnybrook ‘bout how to address its majesty but proper. But then, as is usually the case ‘round here, I just tossed all the crumpled typing rags over one shoulder and went at it raw. What we got here might seem to some self-explanatory—maybe even obvious. To the rest of us (down here on Earth) this came as a total, wonderful surprise. I don’t wanna shortchange the history of soul music, but I had no idea they got down with Ike Yard and the early Chrome so hard! As much as the 70s and 80s are bloated with improbable methodological alliances (intentional or not); and even when one considers the proliferation of budget electronics and home studio gear; and the private press boom, whodathunk such a wealth lay under such huge shoulder pads?
Personal Space is really the gateway into this ultra-neurotic, twitchy, cockeyed subset of soul records and the PPU label (Peoples Potential Unlimited) a fleshier, meatier expansion thereof. (Imagery! Imagery! –Ed.) I say “ultra-neurotic” cuz, let’s face it: soul is really just shorthand for anxiety, insecurity, paranoia, and depression. Some of these cuts are for the dance floor (Jerry Green’s “I Finally Found the Love I Need,” or Starship Commander Woo Woo), but most are cold lampin’ inside a tangle of Brown Recluse spiderweb smoke (Spontaneous Overthrow, The New Year, Jeff Phelps). There were moments on the first couple spins where I’d think Timmy Thomas had picked up Factrix as a backing band. No kiddin’! But to wrap the whole package in the shells of minds and a bunch of stylistic shockery around a heart bumpin’ with anything other than solid songs would make this a sham. Don’t you worry; deliver they do. I suggest appending Guitar Red’s Hard Times to your session; his cut, “Disco from a Space Show”, is a scant peep down into his strobe-drunk basement galaxy.

I’m finna tackle a stackle of recent PPU releases nextly!

Nov 16, 2012


Southern Comfort
Silver and Gold b/w Don't Cry No Tears 7"
Black Petal #43

Nice loud, downer strum from Angie and Harriet of Circle Pit and Ratsak respectively. Recording really sells the A side, setting the mics and amps quavering from heat stroke. The harmonies ain't quite jagged enough for me to feel this is much past prettiness, but I'll take a Neil Young cover from this pair, no questions asked. As someone I respect once said about gloating over other folk's miseries, "It doesn't always work, but it never completely fails," to please me. The old croaker's work needs, if not a swift kick in the keister, at least a firm goose now and again.
But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that, however loverly the above rhetoric might sound, this 45 is positively frightful on 33. Heard a few stray shots outside my window the other night and decided the healthiest response would be to double up on my cold meds and drop the speed on this single. If glaciers shit drugs, this (at the wrong speed) would be their expulsive moan. The echo, the lead-handed downstrokes, and suggestive throb melt in a magically unnerving way--and that ain't just the decongestant talkin'!

Limited to two hundred fifty-something copies, available in the US thru Easter Bilby.

Nov 12, 2012


Useless Eaters
New Program b/w Expensive Taste & Smoke Alarm 45rpm
Anti-Fade ANTI-011

Bout the closest I ever get to garage is when I need help diggin' a spike outta my left front tire. Always thought there was somethin'...underachiever about it; for those about to maybe rock, ya know? But I reckon that's what folks find so galldern American about it: desperate, entrepreneurial shots at convincin' some local, maybe regional, and perhaps national, tail to shimmy. Just a little. It's that very attitude that makes it so suspect to me; I say, go XXXL or go sit a spell. Anyhoot & holler, perusin' the Anti-Fade back catalog gave me the spins, so I called up ol' Bertrand Russell for advice. Bein' a  loud skeptic of garage rock himself, I figgered he'd know the score. "In studying [a garage rock label], the right attitude is neither reverence nor contempt, but first a kind of hypothetical sympathy, until it is possible to know what it feels like to believe in [its releases], and only then a revival of the critical attitude, which should resemble, as far as possible, the state of mind of a person abandoning opinions which he hitherto held. Contempt," ol Betrand warned, "interferes with the first part of the process, and reverence with the second." Whatever you say, chief; I'll give it the ol' college. Maybe there's some new tricks a-turnin'?

Useless Eaters is helmed by one Seth Sutton outta Nashville, Tenn. A Nashville one-man garage band on a Victoria, AU label? Why not. Hell, he's already put out about 5 other records this year alone, and 9 others since turn of the decade; ain't many spots on this circuit he ain't shot through. A-side cut is either an indictment or winking endorsement of corporate drudgery in the guise of an android march. Another "why not" herein is Sutton's application of positively classic Athens GA moves. I detect the liver-spotted claw of Peter Buck on "Smoke Alarm," though it be fed through some homegrown Johnny Marr effects. In fact, this is near the Blank Dogs cult philosophy of tryin' to apply cheapie-creepie goth tactics to mopey drug punk. It's still a fair bit better--but just about anythin' is an improvement to that late model! But keepin' ol' Bertrand on the dome, I didn't mind the half dozen flips I gave it one bit. And I ain't about to jeer the folks that find the fun in this one second more.
Five hunnid hand-numbered.

The Bonniwells
Yesterdaisy 7" EP 33rpm
Anti-Fade ANT-008

What a pwecious wittle wecord. From the knitty-witty packaging to the Victorian cats & mice in eternal pursuit on the labels (wabels?), I was expecting either a So Cow offshoot or something light, feathery, with a sturdy inheritance. Which is to say, I was prepared to gag. But actually, this trio bears more marks from early K Records, the Vaselines and the Marine Girls than what I'd call garage rock. Maybe the rug on this whole genre done got yanked from under me, but these sunlit melodies, mid-tempos, and titles like "Pigeon Pizza" gimme those twee goosepimples. Some kids somewhere in Melbourne are dancin' their couch cushions to pieces and the sophomore in me kinda wants to join in. If it wasn't for my trick knee and all...
300 pressed on colored vinyl. Mine looks like rain-soaked pavement with a chewed gum smear. What you got?

Once again, Easter Bilby is yer Huckleberry fer these. He's up on social medias, too, if'n you wanna go there.

Nov 11, 2012


Sweaty Hands LP
Negative Guest List NGL-040

A band named after my favorite cleaning product puts out a another solid record on my favorite Australian scum label; tis a hard day at the office! This, Degreaser's follow-up to 2011's quaking Bottom Feeder, continues main duder Tim Evans's well-illustrated commitment to the hungover-and-cranky corners of punk weirdness (see also his take on Pop Group dynamics in Bird Blobs and the mope-grind of Sea Scouts). Scoff if ya must at the Birthday Party apeage howlin' around these parts (i.e. Brooklyn) of late, but these folks don't fanny about like some. Though guitars rasp, throats moan and bellow, and the rhythm section clamps like a 1000-year-old die-cutter, as they have elsewhere and many a time before, it ain't always what ya do but how ya do. Feel me? Right from the jump on "Lizard," these lead-sinkers reach stoner-metal depths of heave-n-wheeze with nary a second to call out the fathoms. The focus remains a desperate thud on the deck of a listing boat, even through what I take to be a cover of "Eyes Without A Face" (?) on the flip. (No titles on this one; just guessin' from the Discogs entry.) Never do they leave the confines of their grem-clotted alley, but the hypnotism this lot casts was enough to keep me glued down. Nice!

Head next door to Easter Bilby for your domestic hook-up.

Nov 10, 2012


Mad Music, Inc.
Mad Music, Inc. LP Reissue (originally released in 1977)
Drag City/Yoga Records

Was a time when I'd sooner peel the phrase "healing music" off the back of a sleeve than take it home, but I ain't fixin' to let age gimme bad knees and nothing else. These days, I give in; direct as many needs to the "check out" stack as possible. And when I'm fortunate, I get a few sorted simultaneous. Such is the case with Mad Music Inc.
Back in the foggy decade, when errybody it seemed was trying to cram 12 steps into one weekend, or forfeiting all their earthlies to be-whiskered rug-squatters somewhere upstate, an unidentified junta of Boston players (barneys, perhaps?) assembled Mad Music sans credits, track titles, or any other signifiers save a designation of "music for meditation" and released it like a coddled sparrow into the wild--to, as ya mighta grok'd, a lotta silence. Of course, the packaging, what included clippings, illustrations of a man with a beta-max player in his right temple and the like, probly didn't help close the ensuing mystery.
What actually lyeth within ain't quite so puzzlin'. Basically, a cache of 4:30-or-less bites of spiritual jazz (especially reminiscent to these ears of Alice Coltrane's Eternity), "love theme" strings straight outta after school specials, and eerie winds. Not a whole lot else to get yer hands around. I fo' sho' found myself sneakin' a Z here and there, but that's all right by me. The whole notion of sittin' still, brain-pan ajar, for something other than Calhoun County 49th Level Vampire Ex-Lesbian Task Force on VH1 seems like a lost art in this country.
But as much as I like a little polemic in my puddin', I'll spare ya any further diatribes. On the whole, the desired effect of the actual music has perhaps diminished in the ensuing decades, but the mysterious coterie at the heart of the project has some serious endurance. And bein' that we live in the vinyl-as-conversation-piece epoch, this'll surely moves some serious units for Drag City. Me? I think I'll be fine, if I can just figure out how to synthesize tryptophan in my bathtub...

Pony up hurr, if ya wanna.

NEXT UP: A boatload of transmissions from Easter Bilby's Aussie stash!

Oct 18, 2012


It’s Cosy Inside LP Reissue

I try to get errythin I can outta my listenin times, not just the grumpy rumbles and obtuse toilings strewn about the FYC hood. And while many of us folks writin on these assorted auteurs and amateurs might see “skill” or “training” as somewhat suspect, ain’t no need to ghettoize. After all, it ain’t the tools, it’s the carpenter what makes the shed stand.

The Ives brothers behind this longstanding Woo outfit are plenty adept at their wide array of instrumental plunder. They’s chops is visible from their debut missive, Whichever Way You Are Going, You Are Going Wrong, through their early 1990s output; and in the humbles they did in the post-punk pen (see Five Or Six). Their ’89 effort, It’s Cosy Inside, is perhaps their best and here gets the nudge into Expedits everywhere it done truly earned. Thru 17 interwoven tracks, Woo chart hectares of previously unglimpsed zones, quietly and carefully, wearing big goofy grins.

Surely when I drop the term “new age,” many of y’all cue up a Steve Roach feetie-pajama sleepover breathing exercise and quickly open a new tab in your browser. Well, friends, it ain’t any more dirty a word than “ambient”. And when was the last time you dug out “experimental” and gained an inch? At least “new age” can sound either cultish and menacing or gauzy and nap-inducing depending how groggy you is. To put a point on this polemic, It’s Cosy Inside is about as close to prescience in these days of rebuilt analog drones and star wipes as you’re likely to find in late-80s English music. Exceptin’ a lot of the kittens batting the “spacey” and “blissed-out” yarn-wad nowadays think irony means everything’s for sale (or everything’s terrible), and Woo took it in the literal and classical sense. The same moodiness ZNR used to cast perverse shadows over Satie on their LP Barricade 3 here likewise plays with Kraftwerk, Harmonia and Cluster. Matta fact, if’n you dropped a caper like, “Woo was really an unearthed Anglo link betwixt the Kraut and NDW eras,” you’d give me buku pause. For now, it’s just a thought.

I know you ain’t yet ready to believe something so weirdly playful like this could pluck a string in this mule-piss-pumpin’ heart o’ mine, but you will. You’ll run into a copy of it at your local record hole, or maybe the Nite Jewel split 7”* released in conjunction with this impeccable re-ish, drop the loot and take ‘er home. About 10 minutes in, you’ll put down the pipe, and notice how truly weird beauty can be.

* featuring a track from a rare Woo cassette

Oct 8, 2012


East Link
S/T cassette
Little Big Chief/Creep Dreams 2012

Imma admit straight-up, something about this tape caught me with my ass out. After 3 plays (that's 6 flips!) through in a row, I still felt I didn't know my onions enough to say or think anythang illuminatin'. Got all tangled up in tags & the strings there attached: surf, noise, psych, and on and on.
Why expose the business of this mishigas? Only to demo how dumb I am. Here I was, down on all 4s, scrutinizing a crushed Bud Light in the middle of Burgess Shale--which is to say, "This thing ROCKS." I find myself spewin such verbiage so infrequently, what with my piles of buck bin chud to munch through, it takes me a minute to pick out such anvil-sized tasting notes. Sad, really, but no discredit to East Link. Composed of Aussie fringe elements from the likes of UV Race, Total Control, Lakes, Straightjacket Nation and a handfulla others, they here set sail* in their own creaking schooner to crush shrimps and dislodge coral errywhere. Speakin' on "reefs," (ha, I think? --Ed.) these hominids pound the pebbles with an abject twang (made possible by short delays and heavy face-to-face amp screeds) that just 'bout turned my speakers into sheet pasta. Track 2, "Ansett Australia" is at least as obnoxious as the Crucifucks (emphasis on "noxious" --Ed.), without sounding a bit like em, though it do contain a slew of notebook-carved rhyming couplets and that gloriously brutal economy. Side Bummer stretches out the thudding to great effect, in an era when that's usually a bad idea. It also features a manic whistling section which really oughta happen in this green world with greater frequency. Is that man or Memorex? Don't ya just love havin' to ask? 

There's rumors of a hefty surf vibe up in here, but I can detect little resembling The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun....oh, you meant that kinda surf! You wanna tag this as the gory followup to Earle and Holcombe's work in Horror of Party Beach, you go ahead. There is certainly sumpthin to be said for the efficiency of the whole thing; the compartmentalizing of total wilderness, which you definitely get with the concussed wing of surf music. But hey, I just wrote somewhat kindly things about an LP on a smooth jazz label. What the fuck do I know? When faced with a sodium cocktail such as this, ain't much for me to do but glug it down.

A small sum stands like a hard-gainer between ye and them. I say, go! Amurricans go here, others go here.

Sure did talk to you. Here's "Wild Dog," featuring that glorious whistling treatment:

*This is Creep Dreams maiden voyage, too, as well as LBC's first foray into the People's Format.

Oct 6, 2012


Stephen Whynott
From Philly to Tablas LP
Music is Medicine MIM 9001 (1977)

Copies of this can pop serious squats on the wallet, but be not discouraged: I nabbed mine for a 5-er. I'd be foolin' if'n I told ya you was gonna get mad plays offa the whole thing. You might have to do some scanning, but herein lyeth some truly lonesome spaces. Whynott caters largely in spooked but ultimately breezy cafe folk strolls with stoned and/or psych-ed brushwork. There's some winsome whimsy to be swallowed as well ("Oh Boy I've Won the Contest At Last"), and I'm afraid the good stuff isn't at the bottom of the glass. Typically, things fizzle before they pop on those numbers. But here and there he skirts gamelan (the opening passage of "Nine Day Sunflower") and, on the particularly puzzling "Snows Edge," even blunders into Perhacs county! Never does it advance as far as, say, John Palmer's Shorelines or anything by Bobby Brown, but I weren't just imagining the fellow feeling. They's all on facin' pages in the same unfathomable book that be 1970s small press folk.
Music Is Medicine (stone lost child label of First American) eventually made good on the sucky promises that peek over the yacht club event horizon of this LP, releasing things that square firmly with the "smooth jazz" tag. But ah the early days...! I guess.

Case you need a further push toward the shores of white male monomania, here's a solid nudge. As if it don't already take an eon to load this blog! (Note it is the only Whynott track up on the Tubes of Your):

Sep 24, 2012


Mountain Cult
s/t LP
Little Big Chief Records 2012

I wait for the next cleansing flush of expectorants to turn my bean into a cider spigot. From the opposing side of my cramped front room booms the hungry clamber of a band from Brooklyn whose name does not cause snickers to jerk the faces of the smart marks. Hey, if you can't get "Location, Location, Location" right, ain't there always good ol "Timing"? It mightcould be the mucus talking or the room ringing and throbbing like an old TV, but this music makes perfect sense to me. A touch of heavy blues, a crash course in Dope Guns and Fucking in the Streets, and a healthy rinse from a Tori Kudo neti pot* will get you far in these tryin' times. Hell, in any time! "Overachiever" alone shoved 80+ blues/noise wannabe messes into my "maybe" pile, and it's all the way on Side 2! No idea what is being sung/said since there's so much tranquilized vocal fry (in my family we call it "talkin' up yer sleeve"), but I ain't worried none. Even the extendo-jam "Videodrome" what closes out this mug is so soaked in fever sweats, you won't need that electrified clay wall after all. What was I sayin' about Brooklyn? Ah, who cares. These scuzzbags can hail from wherever they like. Now, pass the NyQuil; I got work to do.

Kudos to Little Big Chief for pressin' this creepster on 45rpm; I need the exercise. (Though, like most good things, it is even better at the wrong speed.)

Knock 3 times here and give a listen here.

* He really do make these! 'Course, now that I say so, I won't be able to find that one distro that was hockin' em for 35 a go...

Sep 17, 2012


F.J. Macmahon
Spirit of the Golden Juice
Circadian Press reissue 2012 (original: 1969)

Wasn't I just talkin' bout this up in here?! Think it was when I was really talking on the Lower Plenty LP. (note: Hard Rubbish gets better every go-round.)

Unbeknowst to most (and me) it seems, Circadian Press brought this rare bit of quaffage back into the fold after a sizzurp-length minute. Won't be a long run neither, and these are prob'ly slipping into home shelving units all over right. RIGHT NOW.

I suppose it's worth askin whether you're really hurtin' for another vurp from the ever-churning guts of private psych-folk reissue campaigns. This is a bit differn't, ya feel me? F.J. done did but one long player and made every second of it drip with one-take clambers and hungry chances. Don't expect another Higney herein, but an inauspicious swab of Van Zant-style country and Leonard Cohen would get ya nearer. Circadian says it stands beside Neil and Kristofferson, but this is too alienated to be that jovial. And the picture just gets fuzzier from there, I'm afraid. Just rest assured it's as awkward, heartbusted, and American as one could hope--and that pretty much sells itself in my county.

Holla at yer boys!

Aug 18, 2012


Waste 7" ed of 220
Wantage Records Aug 2012

Let's out with the excuses first, so's I can get back to what I does: apartment shuffle, fridge disaster, faulty wiring, 4am circumcision, cat stuck in beard, temporary lack of internet. Only one is real, but I'll let you pick it out.

Now then.
What itchy, pimply, perma-belching noise would a pair of math majors from Albini's home state, weened on the Dead and the Stooges and sired by an AbEx painter produce? A galldern good'n! But that shouldn't be much of a cold, clammy slap to them that peeped Mordecai's debut (now available for free peepage in full on they bandcamp doodad). Therein promises were made, and herein they are overnighted.
Despite the suspicious date stamp on this missive, I aint' been sleepin' on this, just beside it. Granted, it be fitful snatches of snooze, but well worth it after a full eve throwin buckets of shade on my landlord's voicemail. "Waste" busts n oozes like a cold sore I picked up off the floor of a bar one time, then lets loose with a lost Columbus OH riff on heinous painkillers only to toss itself out a first floor window and into the compost 2 minutes later. A killer start whose inner puss floods with each successive needle drop. It's Cleveland, Christchurch, London & Melbourne all at once without a shred of study or even a map. Just a long, damp basement fermentation, mean as Honey Bun wine from a juvie toilet. Hell, it even works on 33, which is high praise where I stay. "Drag Down" starts like such a beater, I thought Mike Pagan was finna show up with a gas can & a wrench. But under the hood revs an anxious lil engine that'll get you to & from in a Missoula minute. It also boasts my favorite guitar defrags of the year so far.
Sure, you could just tool on over to the aforementioned bandcamp and get the goods for the price of a dented Steel Reserve, OR you could be a decent human and holler at Midheaven, Wantage, or Little Big Chief for actual sound.

Sure did talk to ya.

Jul 12, 2012


Songs of the Humpback Whale
Gatefold LP

Wait! Wait! Don't run away yet! I haven't finally popped a lotus squat and gone bonkers. This ain't the Raffi-helmed kindergarten snooze parade it seems like. If nothing else
a) you could probably cop three perfectly serviceable copies of this for ten bills (Xmas in July?);
b) the recording is beautiful and so's the fancy, vaguely Greenpeace, though well-researched booklet;
c) if the thought of listening to this with any seriousness is laughable, just change the pitch or crank it up to 45 and it'll sound like a Kaoru Abe show with Lee Perry at the board.
After all, what's the point of cheap records if you they ain't makin you bust a hearty grin? The original is on CRM and can fetch mad bones, but the Capitol reissue is just as tidy and way more plentiful. Me, I got lucky on a CRM copy for $5 in a shop where the staff is far more innarested in snarling at each other and keepin up on Daredevil compendiums than peepin eBays. (Yes, those places are still to be found in the wild; just keep your voice down about it, ok?)

Train Your Bird to Talk
LP and Brochure
Pet Records

I dunno: I guess I was on a 70s animal record tear that day. (Also nabbed one about wolves just to give my neighbor's mutts another reason to snarl at the walls.) This does not feature examples of loquacious parakeets or erudite budgies like I'd been hoping, but what it wound up being was even more valuable: an instant room clearer. Hell, the first time I dropped the needle, I booked in seconds flat! The unidentified language coach intones single words and phrases like "Hello" or "See You Later" for literally MINUTES at a time, in total monotone with a rhythm that bobs and jerks like a dazed boxer. How could any beast or bird glean a fucking thing from this without first wondering where its owner keeps his .38? Were I an innocent lorikeet left alone with this bizarro Laurie Anderson nightmare, I'd learn how to say, "Shut this shit off, you fascist fucksock," but quick.

Pure brutality. Weaponized vinyl. Not to be wielded gently.

Jul 7, 2012


The Men, Liverhearts, Vincas, Wymyns Prysyn, Widowspeak
@529 East Atlanta
July 3rd

Lead paragraph delineates author’s conflicted relationship with live performances—specifically an overwhelming confusion regarding the reasonable expectations-payoff ratio. Author notes running an experiment for the duration of the evening in question: no cigarettes smoked nor alcohol consumed.
Second paragraph describes the crowd in somewhat elitist terms, really, with a few smiles and encounters with friends/acquaintances mentioned (insofar as this editor is concerned) to not come off to the reader as a hermit, snob, sociopath, or one lacking any and all self-awareness.
Third paragraph describes the five predominantly-local opening acts. He notes a band from Philadelphia as the lone exception, though admits to having missed the first band and lacking information about them. A somewhat pretentious excuse for his tardiness is made, where a simple schedule conflict would suffice.
Fourth paragraph describes in excruciating detail rife with trademark hyperbole a feeling of ennui arriving at the first signs of raucous behavior from some of the younger audience members. Complaints about old injuries, sore knees from standing all day, and a general exhaustion follow.
It is at this late point that the author begins his coverage of the headlining act, The Men. References to the Meat Puppets are at first invoked, only to be immediately revoked and replaced with Husker Du, which is just as quickly interrupted with Dead Flowers and followed by ellipsis. This is meant to imply (however thunderously delivered and inherently lacking in subtlety) the band’s alleged lack of identity in the face of their stylistic predecessors. The author closes the paragraph by admitting to being inured to The Men due to the preceding “onslaught of tired white people in t-shirts watching their own hands play instruments.”
Article closes with a non-denial denial of the author’s investment in the success/failure of the evening in the first place. Blame is placed on the aforementioned experimental sobriety; a firm commitment to never repeat said experiment follows.

Jun 22, 2012


Poetry Out Loud, Volumes 4&10 LP

De Stijl somehow landed a stack of OG sealed copies of Klyd and Linda Watkins’s Poetry Out Loud series. At the time, and even now conjecturin bout its possible dissemination, they were out on their own, making their “audio magazine” post-Charles Olsen creep-out mixtapes. I've tried, Lawdy, but I can’t quite hang a shingle on these. ‘S not sound poetry cuz, despite their collective literary pedigrees, Poetry Out Loud don’t strike one as academic as even the Giorno camp (Ginsberg got a rejection stamp!) let alone the Euro whackos. Even “psych poetry” is more reserved for Ward E lifers like Bill Bissett. Or maybe it’s just me billboarding over every potential linkage with “Mid-Atlantic,” cuz the Missouri/Nashville smog coughing out of these sides has clouded my brain. How can any American with a sense of regional identity not perk a lobe at these folks? Don’t it just reassure you that St Louis—post-white flight, & bobbing in the eddies of dropouts and one-bulb bars—produced accidental progenitors of Michael Gira, and the Space Lady. Folks be salivatin over Michigan psych, but I get the sense that maybe there was just something in the water up there. And yet scarcely a cry from the kingdom of Jim Crockett, where 10W30 and local suds stained just as many Wranglers and parking lots. Weird, right?
Well, here we got 2 of the 10 cries of defiance. Volume 4 seems to be a lotta folks’ favorite, and I ain’t here to steer you away. Each volume has the wonderous stereo-ricochet and rickety delay that made Alan Vega sound so sweet back in the day--so that box is already checked. Volume Four runs on a more comfy engine that some of the other volumes, though, if’n you wanna track the LSD trickle into Middle America (though Volume Seven’s “29 Cats,” ‘ll do you right, too). It’s also got healthy doses of napalm-scented lamentations and Native American-style/hippie chants. But for my ducets, the final installment, Volume 10, is where it’s at. Gospel and Appalachian musics get decanted into righteously tense and paranoid moaner anthems. Check “Bad Man,” and the slow-mo tunnel chase of “Going Below,” for evidence.
How De Stijl is still holdin stock is beyond me, but maybe some folk see the word “poetry” and turn tail. Silliness, cuz Billy Collins this ain’t. If you happen to miss out or you’s one of the Technics-challenged among us, they’re all up on iTunes for virtual grippage.
For further info and a better tellin’ of the halcyon days than I could ever hope to muster, check this recent interview with Watkins himself. Dude is dude.


Jun 7, 2012


Girls Girls Girls
Borsh LP, ed. of 250
Little Big Chief Records 2012

Temperature's surely rising in the ATL this week as we say goodbye to our 48hr springtime, so this sticky slinger & I been drinkin from the same bottle. Turns out this is an archival callback from the Breakdance the Dawn label what kickstarted a shit-ton interest in latter-day Aussie noise-making, but I'd been thinkin this was an unearthed reel from The Silver anticipating Torch of the Mystics. How they might've found themselves in the Charles Goucher Desert I have no earthly notion. (I never had field trip chaperones quite that good when I was a buck.) But from whatever dimensional transport these cats was belched, Majora or B.D.T.D., both would seem to a first timer familiar yet unimaginable. Hell, the landscape's 'bout the same! Through all 4 tracks, GGG bat sleepily at the toes of punk and private psych just enough to make you think they some woozy kittens, then wail away like you spooked em. Prepare yourself for cymbals that sound like plastic bags and guitars down in the basement with mother. Which is to say, this is the kind of band we all could have if we had half a brain (no, like, literally one lobe each) & just as much fun. Lay on, ratcatchers!

Cities On Flame LP, ed. of 250
Little Big Chief Records 2012

2nd B.D.T.D. reish to come down the Little Big Chief pike (originally in some single-hand CDr edition) is just as much an edge-piece to the Aussie crud puzzle as the aforementioned. This feast, however, gets a little more loose in the waist. Served up is a whole heapa predigested basement sludge and amp defiance choking on cave cinders. Think Stone Harbour's Emerge gummed up in an oil-stained underpass and yer gettin warmer. Track two, "Sweet Love," has the instantly recognizable wheeze of a battered VHS to remind you "fidelity" will forever be a relative tag. That and the other 3 A-side cuts hiccup in and out like a Chilton take, but the nearly-eponymous B side, "Citie On Flame," is my favorite long burner so far this year. Time, love, and meds seem to do Xwave just right. After a good five-r of pea soup-thick grumblings, what sounded like a Circle of Ouroborus boot dropped in to yank out my hampsteads slow-like, all the time askin', "Is it safe?" This was immediately followed by a mounting hum in my forsaken jaw and a dreary march toward a thankless sun. Twas time to hop back on the Shetland & ride, bunkie. Check the crossed out price tag on the sleeve for add'l bindle punk desperation.

Get yers direct if'n you in These United. Email breakdancethedawn if'n you Aussie. Dial up Volcanic Tongue if'n you elsewheres.

May 25, 2012


CM Ellenburg
Just Chewin'
Country Brand 197?

I'll admit outright: in my head this record's called Three Cobs In a Fountain. Maybe it's just me, but an album featuring a seasoned hockiologist telling rambling country jokes sounds right as sunshine to me. Somehow, whenever this comes up (rare as that is), it's always as a country rock record of some make or model. Granted, there is an act called Dixie Single plinking gently in the next county in these dip-soaked grooves. But this show is all about C.M. sprayin' yarns like they was ground beef--everything from why the septic business is a safe bet in rural Alabama to why farmer's without commodes always carry three corn cobs in their coverall pockets. ("They use the white one to see if they need to use the two red ones again," or something to that effect.) Many tracks are marked "not for airplay" like, "Where's the Clapper?" & Lo, many a knee was slapped & lo, I am probably having a different kind of good time than the one Just Chewin' had in mind. Still, there is something in Ellenburg that gets you all dumbstruck about the American South which, even in Atlanta, is kinda scarce in the Mon-Fri.

I'm plum-perplexed why the family business doesn't glean all the cred and ducets they could offa their dad's record. (Well, a couple 8 bucks. --Ed.) Hopefully they won't ill me next time I roll through Coffee County because all the customers complained when they search for them on Google, the first word they see is FUCK. I mean no harm, oh pilots of the pipes! Y'all surely-do provide a good quality service. I'll admit it: I love this record.


May 23, 2012


Lower Plenty
Hard Rubbish LP
Special Award Records/Easter Bilby 2012

If the Aussies have a Lawrence, Kansas, circa 1996 of their very own, that scrapper of a town is surely where such a lumbering squad as Lower Plenty 1st found purchase. A collaborative release between Special Award Records and Easter Bilby (giving chase to their solid distro quick-snap), Hard Rubbish takes me away to a strange teenage street, where feared abandominiums get snuck-through in the middle of a Thursday night; where somebody steals a copy of F.J. McMahon’s Spirit of the Golden Juice from their friend’s uncle at a party and plays it through a Sears portable on the front lawn and nobody laughs at it; where cigarettes are passed between friends on aimless car rides. Youth, after all, is kinda meant to be wasted, and these Lower Plenty kids seem to be wasting it good & proper. Though I ain’t quite sold on the whole affair, they’s certainly takin the pimply post-Midwest indie thing to dreamier, groggier places than I’m used to hearin’. “Nullarbor,” which I’m assumin’ is the single or some approximation thereof, nails a 3-beer afternoon to the attic floor like it oughta and it’s definitely serviceable at 2am on a long ride home, too--sorta like Galaxie 500 without the collegiate wank to the third power. The stinkweed of factory towns is perhaps more fragrant on cuts like “Strange Beast,” and the dream-speak opener “Work in the Morning,” though, and that's where the real fear/fun dichotomy rides like thunder.
Can’t complain too much, since what we get to witness here is the growing pains of a promising lil charmer of a band. And just think: I coulda written about the new Fushitsusha. Coulda but dinna. Glad.

May 14, 2012


(The first installment of a new series highlighting a pastime that scarcely needs a-budgin' round here: CHEAP RECORDS. --Ed.)

John Mills-Cockell

Neon Accelerando LP
Aura Records 1979

Periodically, the process of writing about music turns abruptly sour. Patterns, moods, production techniques & musicianship suddenly read more like symptoms of a pandemic threatening to engulf the whole medium, Blob-like. Every household’s got its own homespun remedy, but around here it remains a thick, oozing slice of stinky, wobbly humanity; the audio manifestation of Epoisses thrown together by your creepy downstairs neighbor’s uncle. For whatever reason, records like Neon Accelerando set me righter than a beaker of bitters.

Mills-Cockell was keymaster and chief composer for Canadian OOP RAER PROG SYNTH W0W band Syrinx back in the 70s. Here, Johnny boy gets waay more symphonic in his structures all by himself, wandering into scores of queasy, misty, magenta throw rug moments. “Maelstrom,” opens like the tourist lounge version of Wagner, modulating violently from thin library funk to gooey alien vistas. Track four, “Gateway,” contains what I can only describe as a back alley sax solo, spotlit by sparkly organ showers and shivering percussion. Such are merely candid snaps of the manic, perverse emotionality contained within. Were it not for the Euro disco production, compressing everything into the kind of fidelity one might find on a 9th-gen VHS of Galaxy Express 999, this might be a kissin’ kin of Lauri Paisley’s Fire of Dreams or, conversely, the awkward gamer cousin of a great many privately issue cult drifters. Which is to say, the reek of cable knit sweaters marinated in AquaNet and dog-eared fantasy mags is so strong it’s almost tactile. So go ahead. Fold the pages. Shake the can. Face the mist. Lose an hour or two lost in the land where everyone, it seems, is lost. Nothing, I say, nothing will seem generic for months.

May 2, 2012


Mad Nanna
I Made Blood Better
Negative Guest List LP 2012

What the world needs now, I take it, is another mile marker on the road of "gone." From the wilds of the Land That Keeps on Giving (lately), Australia, come Mad Nanna, slightly altering1 their Goaty Tapes release to make their 12" debut. Though it weren’t covered in twigs and grubs when I slid off its jacket, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Both sides of this…thing throb with post-police wake-up/holly-bush-facial/where-am-i-and-what-happened. It stands up on newborn legs, makes a D-grade effort to iron its shirt, and reenters society in search of another crunchy pillow (preferably one indoors).
Jandek comparisons are the pizza-flavored Combos of the music review vending machine; a call to Orkin when you need a hitman. Suffice to say, there have been acts and records like this about once a decade for at least 40 years and, sez me, you need all of ‘em. They are the trips for biscuits, the busted mornings, the anthems of mistake that warm the wormy-hearted. I can’t tell if these dudes (perhaps the most awkward assemblage of crumbs I’ve yet peeped, by the way) are writing melodies or just gently warping the tapes, and I don’t mean some Kevin Shields shit. I’m talking dead hoofers and all thumb jamborees, blowin brodies on bald tires til the break of dawn, with nary a try-hard in sight. “You Can’t Expect It,” is almost a song in that it has parts (plural!) and something (singular) akin to chops. But that’s about as close as they come to climbing into the box.

I assume this is one of the last howls of Negative Guest List, along with the Sky Needle LP and Ragtime Frank's The Truth, lest someone be brave enough to raise the torch. An appropriately muddied beginning for Mad Nanna’s vinyl career. Bravo!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go pound some vitamins. 

1(ejecting "Outside Donati's Meats,"--"A Day In the Life," made exclusively of burnt ends and smoked filters--which I was actually a touch bummed to see go)