Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Razorcake

(razorcake.org) Back in the day Roctober and Razorcake were neck in neck (our issue #44 probably came out around their issue #44). But we slowed down and went on hiatus in 2015, and right now they are on #117, more than doubling our output. I also had about five years of Razorcake back issues to read, which if it wasn't Quarantine/Quaran-zine time I probably never would have done. But I did! And it was more of a delight than a chore. I read every comic (Ben Snakepit's tales of ripening into punk middle age are fine by me any day), and any article about a 70s or 80s band (reading these is how I ripen into punk middle age). 90s band interviews (especially Kathleen Hanna's) were a maybe, and new bands had to have some kind of compelling gimmick or the best name ever for me to consider reading their interview. I read the columns by Norb, Nardwuar and Rhythm Chicken every issue because I consider those weirdos my friends and they make me laugh. Granted, I would apply the Cathy Rule to some of their columns. Meaning, although I have read the full funny pages every day all my life, in Ms. Guisewite's heyday, if Cathy's daily adventure had too many words on the page I gave myself permission skip it, because I had gotten the point and couldn't bring myself to exert the effort. In Razorcake's case (in Razorcase?) if Norb was talking about Descendents or his dick for more than 700 words I might skim instead of read, and detailed Wisconsin parade descriptions by the Chicken might not get my full attention. All other columns I would start and decide after the first few grafs about reading. I would usually read the "A Punks Guide To..." features, and would skim the reviews. So I read some, and sometimes most, of an issue before moving on, and it was a decent experience. In the MRR heyday I read the columns more religiously but skipped most of the interviews and articles, and really in the pre-Internet era it was the ads that were most important to me to just see what bands existed and records were coming out. Who needs a scene report in the social media age? Razorcake may not have the editorial edge (stubbornness) of MRR, but for this age it is a more compelling read than the punk bibles of the past. Which is an almost biblical achievement.

On Time: A Princely Life In Funk by Morris Day with David Ritz

(Da Capo, 2019) Morris Day fronting the Time, stealing scenes in Purple Rain, and during his solo career was a consistent delight, but that does not mean his book will be good. David Ritz came out swinging with his amazing 1985 Marvin Gaye book, but over the years his visible-ghostwriter co-sign has not been a consistent mark of quality (the Don Rickles book was just jokes from the stand up act with no revelations and was a bore; his R. Kelly book was inconsistent and chock full of semi-truths and craziness, though it proved to be kinda fascinating). But this book has a secret weapon: an All-Star imaginary co-author! Yes, Morris Day has included a running commentary by his mentor Prince, with Morris crafting Prince's sassy, troll-like refutations of Day's version of events. So that is insane, obviously, but very compelling. Day's chronicle's of the early days of Prince's groundbreaking Minneapolis music scene includes details on some of the infamous rumors, including Morris bartering his creative contributions (so Prince could claim to be sole creator of his early albums) for a record deal. Not everything seems 100% accurate (hard to believe that the name "The Time" was not derived from the band Flyte Tyme, whose members became The Time, but that's how Morris remembers it, and Faux Prince doesn't disagree), but it all seems truthful. Morris cops to years of addictions (even introducing mid-book a less successful co-narrator, a drugged out bad boy version of his stage persona) and does not portray himself as the perfect father or spouse. But he is very proud that his band could keep Prince's band on its toes, and despite some bitterness about music projects Prince shelved and concert appearances where Prince pulled the rug out under him, he is not out to paint a poor portrait of his purple preceptor. And even if he tried to, Ghost Prince would set him straight.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sudden Infant "Wolfli's Nightmare"

(2014, Voodoo Rhythm)You got your gloomy in my creep butter! You got your creep butter in my gloomy!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Tork by Michael Kupperman

(2019, https://michaelkupperman.com/) Longtime followers of Kupperman's comics and illustrations and animation know him for strange, surreal humor that is very, very funny, though it is not always clear exactly why. It also seems so smart that elements of satire and critique must be in there somewhere, but it is not always exactly clear exactly where. A comic in which a regular snake and a single piece of bacon (who only utters flat descriptions of his attributes, i.e. "Pat me down with a paper towel to remove excess grease") theoretically fight crime (while doing nothing), might be about the banality of comics, or the futility of the world, or bacon's deliciousness. But "might" is doing hard labor in that statement. That said, following the artist on social media his tone, while still funny and smart, is somber as his family has negotiated the economic realities of this Century and the flaws of the school systems and our country's terrible leadership and the crippling struggles of surviving as an artist. That he spent a substantial portion of his recent history creating a brilliant graphic biography of his father could not have helped his mood. Dealing so directly with difficult subject matter (the miseries his father faced as a TV "Quiz Kid" in the 50s, and his elderly father's mental and physical decline [he died earlier this year]) would be rough on its own, but the underwhelming commercial response to his masterpiece and the subpar promotions it received were no pick me ups. Anyhow, I say that to say this: Tork is an amazing minicomic about dealing with life's struggles (much of it financial, but also shitty people) and small triumphs (the satisfaction of slowly, but successfully, cleaning out a family property) and mundanities (a Peter Tork cameo). The book combines the graphic and rhythmic skills of his best comics with the honesty and vulnerability of his public reckoning with his personal challenges. While not the grand statement of his amazing book (everyone should read it, I got it for my dad who was enamored with the Chicago-based Quiz Kids when he was just a little older than them, and he was fascinated) the quiet, modest aspirations of this project are fully realized. Though the tone is not entirely akin to The Monkees series, I would even recommend this to total Tork-heads.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sandy Nelson presents The Veebles

(2016, Burger) In the 60s drummer Sandy Nelson found himself in the Los Angeles galaxy of Kim Fowley and Art Laboe and Phil Spector and his sticks stuck it to some of the best 45s of the era. But his more flavorful drumming was saved for his own instrumental records which were a joy, and occasionally even popular. He was prolific through the 70s, and in 2008 Eddie Angel and some of our other friends did a great surf record with him. But what was he doing in those decades in between? Wouldya believe messing around with goofy alien visitors? This cassette presents a few slices of fun from the early 90s where Nelson did some whimsical, innovative, experimental home recordings that feature some nutty atmospheric instrumentals, but more notably one Chipmunks-sped up vocal number where wacky spacemen visit earth to spread humor and joy. Unfortunately there is no image of the Veebles so I just picture 12" tall Kim Fowleys and Phil Spectors painted green.

Let There Be Funs!

Monday, June 1, 2020

My Kind of Sound: The Secret History of Chicago Music Compendium by Plastic Crimewave aka Steve Krakow

(2015, Curbside Splendor) Mr. Krakow's deep dives into eccentric and obscure (and not so obscure) Chicagoland musicians in jazz, rock, blues, pop, gospel, country garage, psyche, punk, new wave, experimental,  metal and genres unknown is a joy to behold. A few of this cartoon portrait-meets crate digging detective biographical portrait entries are too short (this collection is arranged alphabetically so some some early strips from before he got his groove right turn up in the middle) and sometimes the text is a little cramped, but every one of these is illustrated with a striking figure somewhat reminiscent of R. Crumb's blues portraits, but with  a little more drama and whimsy. I wish the book was published way bigger to spotlight the art and give the hand-lettered biographies room to breath, but there is something solid and almost hymnal-like to this physical book that makes it feel important and holy. And it is.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Honey Ltd. "The Comlete LHI Recordings

(Light In The Attic/Burger, 2013)  You can't know everything, and I have no shame admitting had never heard a peep about these lovely Lee Hazlewood labelmates, who came out of Detroit in the late 60s and had one remarkable, ultra rare LP  (featured here plus some unreleased tracks). Being a few rock n roll rotations past the era of cookie cutter girl groups this is an act that fell halfway between the Ronettes and Fanny, with lush production celebrating their gorgeous voices but some rocking radical takes. The anti-Viet Nam "Warrior" starts out a little too pretty, which makes the heavy and soulful chorus stand out (and makes the killing and dying themes more striking). Obviously the Wrecking Crew tracks are tight AF, but there's still a couple of loose swings, including a slinky, seaworthy "Louie Louie." These women could SING and "I've Got Your Man" and "Come On Down" are welcome workouts. As Light In The Attic is known for, the vinyl comes packaged with such deluxe extras that I can't recommend it highly enough, but...

Artifact wise, I just really want to gush over the cassette version. Yes, the sound is worse, but I can fantasize about this group getting the airplay they deserved and listening to this on a shitty transistor radio, and sure the voluminous liner notes (with interviews with the whole band) are absent, but that lets me fantasize (of the actual reality) of this being an intriguing mystery group -- just seeing the gorgeous, glamorous photo in an iffy color xerox begs so many tantalizing questions. And this is packaged in a compact, light cardboard box that open on the side like James Bond offering a smoke to a sexy spy from a cigarette case. I love how this looks and feels so much, right down to it being hand numbered in my grandma's handwriting! 

Honey, Do!

Aspic Tines "Enchante MAdame A.I."

(Johann's Face, 2016) On their return from space this alien from Planet Nomi continues on his out of this world rubberband lazer ride. While no song on this EP reaches the heights of his 2009 intergalactic hit "Music of the Spheres," this release demonstrates more cogent space mythology than Klaus Nomi was able to bring to earth. Also, despite not possessing his hero's operatic chops (even if his bizarre futuristic teutonic rolling "r's" game is tight) AT demonstrates a more cogent space mythology than his late predecessor, and in this galaxy that still counts for something.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Kim Fowley "Live at Burger Records November 24, 2013 "

(Burger, 2016) A wonderfully strange recording of a weirdo legend improvising songs with accompanists (the guitarist Burger thought would be game for the inanity, plus random people from the crowd that Fowley borderline forces to play) for about a total of three minutes (or 2 1/8 songs), and then just gloriously rambling about his rock n roll philosophies, his lengthy history, his admiration of PJ Proby, his health, society's health, and all else under the fluorescent lights, with fascinating mundanity as dull magnificence. While there must be other memorable moments on the album what made the biggest impression on me was a  sad, brief passage where Fowley has a teenage would be rock god shit the bed during a semi-consensual America's Got Talent audition. I sure hope that young man is Post Malone or Thomas Rhett or in 100 Gecs today. 

Elisa Lovelle & the Device "Undertow"

(Elisalovelie.com, 2013) The band (to my damaged brain) instantly evoked Lushsus Daim and the Pretty Vain, and I was not totally off, as like L.D.'s nothing-special 80s R&B, this lowkey bar rock is not particularly groundbreaking. But Elisa's strives towards being the perfect bar rock chick, balancing the belting it out with the pretty melodic tunes. And like Ms. Daim, I'm certain she is More Than I Can Handle.