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)