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!