Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Destructors "Dead Beat to WHite Heat," "999," "Quisnam Vigilo Vigilo," "Politika," "101010 (Meaning of Life)," Destructors/Sick on the Bus split CD, Destructors/Black Marias split CD

(Rowdy Farrago) Before getting into their new proper album let's check out three (!) more theme CDs for this veteran English punk band whose sound falls somewhere between catchy Oi and driving trash rock. They make the coppers, society and electoral politics (respectively) take it up the arse, and I am moshing all over my room right now even if I don't know the difference between Tory and Labour or exactly why to be mad at those cute-helmeted bobbies. Back to their old tricks of releasing split CDs, Destructors also team up with the potty mouthed, modern guitar sound-marred Sick On The Bus ("Whores Not Wars" - really?), but the Destructors tracks are pretty great, including a Saints cover and a bouncing bass tribute to modern art and Art Garfunkel (has any lyric  captured Art's sadness better than "what looks happy from the outside never is when you're looking in"?) which includes a Gilbert and George shout-out. Better still is the split with The Black Marias who actually have the Oi-dacity to be sonically akin to the Destructors (who then match that by covering "Sonic Reducer"). Also interesting is "101010," not an album about digital encoding but a record about how life is rough, released on October 10th 2010 for one day only, so if you dontt get it that day, your life is rough! But the real treasure is "Dead Beat to White Heat," 46 minutes of pub stomping pleasure that makes me want to fight and think and protest and drink warm beer! People often ask why do we labor over doing this zine and the real answer is that we do it because nothing makes us happier than receiving 10 Destructors CDs in the mail every year!

Roxy Swain "new love designers," "The Spell of Youth"

(Spade Kitty) This sonically diverse, rootsy power pop band made me so lightheaded with rock joy that they should be called Roxy SWOON!

Drugs Dragons “S/T” LP, “Braingrave” b/w “Predator Weapons,” “Old Controls” b/w “”I Hate Rat People”

(Dusty Medical) The first single sounds like inside-out Butthole Surfers songs played by 12 year olds! The second single sounds like swimming in a pool full of Codeine and your own blood! The full-length sounds like the Cramps playing under the influence of everything Johnny Thunders had in his body over a three day weekend. By making all of these comparisons I’m not trying to imply that Drugs Dragons are unoriginal…they just are so good they make me jones for all my favorite bands and narcotics!

Rosa and the Executioner of the Fiend DVD

(MVD) Despite its low budget and often awkward acting this drama about a Cuban would-be assassin taking over the strategically located apartment of a Jewish Holocaust survivor is pretty compelling. While the chemistry, comedy, and intensity this film required never reaches the levels they should, the films goals (didactic history lessons about Jewish refugees rejected by Cuba and the US, and the tragedy of Cuban children sent to the U.S. without parents during Castro's glory days) are achieved.

Red Mass "To all the good people" b/w "The truth about baby Jane"

(Dusty Medical) Should be called "Red Ass," because that's the color of my tuchus after being so thoroughly kicked by this awesome single! Garage rock made by non-boring people is rare, and actually weird interesting music that sounds like it was made in either the 1960s or 2160s is always welcome on my Victrola.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sticks N Stones "Red Light" b/w "Time Change"

(Dusty Medical) The A-side is my favorite song of the last 129 years! (I'm still a sucker for Sousa's funeral march for President Garfield) This is the Uno to Suzi's Quatro!

The Marshmallow Staircase "Terror de Lune"

(summersteps) If you're not sure whether to go with a lost in space theme or a haunted house theme or a dose-the-punchbowl theme for your next birthday party, but you can only afford one record to play at the party, your problems are solved! You could also just put some headphones on and listen to this in the dark...but you will lose your mind!!! In other words: awesome. (I guess I should have said "In other word")

Los Saicos" iDEMOLICION!" The Complete Recordings

(Munster) This set of all six 45s recorded between 1965-1966 by what must have been the grooviest Peruvians in existence is pretty revelatory. Sure, it's easy to call yourself Saicos, but to back it up with primitive garage rock, growling Halloween vocals that sound like Lord Sutch before he has his coffee, and genuine strange guitar sounds makes them the real deal, and this a real discovery. Available as a CD or a 6 single box set, this is pretty much a must have. This band may be the monks of Peru (although, for all I know Peru may be swarming with monasteries and there may be some kind of incredibly negative connotations -- pardon my ignorance). Despite recording what on the surface should be pretty standard garage tunes, the energy, weirdness and dark joy in this tunes makes Los Saicos the most original South American rock n roll band I've ever heard.

The Loons "Red Dissolving Rays of Light"

(Bomp) Considering that 40% of this band is responsible for 80% of the content and design on the 100% best magazine covering 60s garage/punk/psyche music, I am pledging to not reference any other bands in this review, in part to cover my ass considering they must know more than me about every band ever. But what's great here is that despite Mike Stax' background as rock historian and archivist, this is a real band...not an acedemic exercise in reference collage or a nostalgic survey of styles and riffs. In fact, they aren't even retro; this is a set of timeless rock 'n' roll, certainly defined by the psyche-garage-freakbeat guitar tones, but not limited by them, even if they do at times sound like...oops, almost slipped up there. Really strong songwriting (including an ode to their favorite stretch of road in San Diego) makes me Looney for this record!

Frank Zappa - The Freakout List DVD

(Sexy Intelectual) Like many of the DVDs in this series this is basically a video Wikipedia entry on a rock n roll legend, made more lofty or pretentious (depending on your ear) by having lots of British accents involved. But unlike the straight biographies or album profiles of previous discs, this has a pretty interesting concept. They take the list of influences Zappa included in the Mothers of Invention's debut and try to explain what they're about, meaning that the Wikipedia quotient is increased to the nth degree as the particulars of modern classical composition, the work of Edgar Varese, and the appeal of doo wop music has to be succinctly summed up (the latter with the help of Chicago's own Robert Pruter). There's some nice love given to Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and an overlong explanation of the birth of Jazz fusion, balancing Miles Davis' innovations and Zappa's that seemed like it was meant for another documentary, but overall this is pretty good. Had it delved deeper into the list, or more formally tried to show who everyone on the lengthy list was this might have been better.

Imperial Dogs "Live in Long Beach (October 30, 1974)"

(imperial dogs) This DVD is amazing not merely for the content (Stooges-esque proto-punk from before many were considering doing such  a thing) but for what it is (a videotaped performance of an obscure band before ANYONE was considering doing such a thing). Don Waller, who would go on to write your fave reissue liner notes, Motown books and scrappy Back Door fanzine articles) tells the story better in the liner notes than I possibly could, but basically this loud, crude, swastika-bearing, audience abusing, punk band had a friend who managed to convince her school she was doing research that involved putting on this concert and recording it on an ancient open reel video tape machine...and she wasn't lying! Then she had the wherewithal to BUY THE TAPE FROM THE SCHOOL! Like the monks on German teen dance TV half the fun of this is seeing the audience (in the bright light necessitated by the taping) not knowing how the hell to react. And the rest of the fun is seeing Waller strutting, crawling, and doing his best degenerate, abusive, white guy version of the theatricality he already loved in James Brown and Co. The intro banter to the songs, the fact that this was shot on black and white video (!), and the shoulda been classic songs like "Just Kids," "Amphetamine Superman," and their claim to fame, "This Ain't the Summer of Love," which they sold to Blue Oyster Cult who really just used the title (this version is scarier), make this a hard product to pass up.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vinny Vegas "Land of Giants"

(VV) Very Versatile! Vaguely Valuable!

The Yetis "inadaismo A Go Go!"

(Munster) These 60s Columbian rockers should have picked a less fearsome creature as their name...their impish garage rock is far from abominable! Great teen music with really joyful execution, and some fine covers of tunes by Trini Lopez, the Monkees and Bo Diddley (in "Soy Un Hombre" do you know how yo spells hombre? "M-A-N!"). Apparently they were associated with an intellectual movement called Nadaism, but I'll have to take their word for it as my Espanol is creaky, but "Revolucionando" is plenty revolutionary to me!

Michael Jackson - The Trial and Triumph of the King of Pop DVD

(rock city) Sure it was easy to make a compelling video by just putting the cameras on the wackos waiting outside the Michael Jackson molestation trial, and sure it was a good idea to release this on what they thought would be the payoff of coinciding with Jackson's return to stage but turned out to be a lot bigger, and sure this has cable access production values. BUT compared with the level of discourse, journalism, and intelligence on Access Hollywood, The Insider, TMZ, etc, this is smarter, more fun, somewhat more balanced (despite being super in favor of Jackson), and easier to watch. Just asking celebs like Kanye, Mo'Nique and Shemar Moore to say something nice about Jackson when you randomly put a camera in their face is probably better than letting their publicist prepare an answer for Billy Bush to read. And what's more fun to watch than kooky MJ impersonators, Euro superfans, and crazed obsessors?

Von Haze "s/t"

(Hippos in Tanks) Sad vampires like to dance slowly, apparently. More power to them!

The Fools "Made with Love by..."

 ( Should be called the Cools because this acoustic music is cool, calm and copacetic.

Buggirl "Blood, Sweat & Beers"

(Impedence) If every band in the world was a brother-sister duo with female vocals making kick ass hardrock that sounds like AC/DC meets AC/DC I would be OK with that.

D.O.A. "Men of Action" DVD, "Talk-Action=0"

(Sudden Death) Joey Shithead has spent decades making Canada safe for hardcore punk...or unsafe. The retrospective DVD is super awesome. Thirty years of raw, rough concert footage and no budget music videos truly brings both the d.i.y. spirit of punk and the Joey's never-say-die, sometimes corny, but never compromised radical spirit to screen. I love how the 2009 music video, with cable access greenscreen and discount halloween store police costumes, cost the band about the same to make as the live video of them playing an anarchist picnic in 1981. Doubling the value you can also watch the video with  a commentary/history lesson from Mr. Shithead as he tells the story of the band, using the not quite chronological videos as talking points. The reason watching hardcore shows from 1980, 1987, and 2002 are all kosher is that Shithead has always had the same dedication to and energy for his band and music, and thus, the new album is as fast, furious and uncompromising as ever. "They Hate Punk Rock" may be a song so prototypical it borders on parody, but the beauty of D.O.A. is that, yes, they often sound like the fake punk band a TV show would invent to to show how ridiculous punk is...BUT THEY ARE TOTALLY SINCERE. Honesty may not get you far in this world, but apparently it can make you stick around forever. And it can imbue everthing with importance: tracks like "I Live in a Car" are serious and political and a tribute to the characters on Star Trek is just as serious and also kind of political. Wow!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Willie Buck "The Life I Love"

 (Delmark) Recorded in 1982 and 1984 these amazing blues recordings (with Dave Myers and his brother Louis and John Primer backing him up) are as solid as anything recorded in Chicago in the early 60s. Hard to imagine why this didn't lead to a long, prolific recording career, Z.Z. Hill was giving relatively authentic blues its last real radio presence at the same time and Buck should have become a frontrunner instead of the solid journeyman he's become. I suppose the fact that this set has a lot of standards (plus a surprising Al Green cover) rather than new material didn't help, but you'll be damned if you hear these standards sound this fresh or real today no matter who plays them.

The Dandeliers and other Great Groups on State "Chop Chop Boom"

 (Delmark) These rare tracks from Chicago's United Records label presents some seriously bad ass doo wop from the mid 1950s. The Dandeliers are one of those groups that didn't seem to get that memo that doo woppers were supposed to smooth out and mellow the harmony music, and subsequently recorded seven tough tracks (plus one low-key gospel-ish one, just to prove they could do it). According to the liner notes (by Robert Pruter) the act got signed while improvising the title track in Washington Park, and amazingly "Chop Chop Boom" isn't even their best nonsense doowop word track called "Shu-Wop" puts it to shame. The other tough group on this comp is a mighty act named the Palms, true unknowns who have some unreleased tracks on this. And on the lost tip The Drakes have two previously unheard songs that seem way to good to go unissued. Even if they had just lent out acetates it seems like someone would have stole "Just A Dream" and "Mellow Daddy" and had hits, but I guess they just needed to gestate a half century. Hopefully Delmark will keep up the good work -- the more lost Chicago 45s I hear the better my food tastes and the better the air smells.

Elisa Randazzo "Bruises & Butterflies"

(Drag City) C'mon, anyone could make an ethereal, emotion-wrenching magic folk rock album if they had whatever filter Randazzo and Co. are singing and playing through that makes every note sound like it's being delivered from heaven by angel minstrels. And if they could write sublimely beautiful pain and mourning music as well as Ms. R. And they had the best album design in the history of Drag City. And they were totally awesome at making gorgeous, rich music that's unafraid to re-visit the 60s, while always sounding timeless. And they somehow knew how to sequence, pace, and add thrilling dynamics to a damn-near perfect album. Should be called Rad-dozza!

Bonnie "Prince" Billy & the Cairo Gang "The Wonder Show of the World"

(Drag City) Boring "Prince" Billy.

Chug Chug Inaction, The Paul Show

(King Vermin) These two comix may seem a  little raw to get the slick full color cover treatment rather than the xerox mini-comic deal, but like Chug Chug's favorite team, the Cubs, you can't judge Paul Czarnowski's comix by win columns or talent or silly stuff like's about heart and tradition and getting really drunk before you try to appreciate it! For a Chicago sports fan Chug-Chug's misadventure's will ring true (and if you don't laugh at the punchline "LARRY HIMES!" then maybe you ain't the target audience.). For the general fan Paul's other comic, vaguely biographical tales about work, watching TV and punk rock (he's in an all Simpsons-themed Ramones cover band!). Best comic: Paul getting frustrated because you can't upload a Thin Lizzy LP into an ipod by smashing the vinyl onto the little thing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Espers "III"

(Drag City) Best-pers!

Bunnygrunt "Matt Harnish & Other Delights"

 (HHBTM) I think I have about 67 Bunnygrunt records, and if you'd asked me to describe them I woulda said they were a typical fluffy twee indie pop band. I realize now that I must only have a bunch of singles and no albums, because listening to this full length (which I think comes out after a lengthy hiatus) I have to remix my opinion. While both the dude and gal sing in cutesy voices that keep things always in the vicinity of the Simple Machines Record Club/Olympia, WA/high school girl handwriting mode, this band has serious chops when they get all diverse. The heavy rock pop of "1000% Percent Not Creepy," the spot perfect bubblegum of "S.Kingshighway Bubblegum Factory" (sure they were trying to re-create prototypical b-gum...but it ain't easy to do!), and the freakout feedback get down jam on "Southtown Famous" are all pretty convincing -- these bunnies can do it all! Maybe i should have paid more attention to the b-sides

Back to Peru Vol II, Sensational Soul Vol. 2

(Vampisoul) Back to Peru Vol 2 will Lima your bean! If you are expecting the kind of straightforward garage rock or Stones covers heard from the many groups from Spanish-speaking countries compiled over the years by this fine label, adjust your brain. This is an unbelievable collection of deep psyche, surf rock, garage trash, soul, folky Monkees music, Country Rock, and anything else that appealed to the ears of Peruvian hallucinogen ingesters between '64 and '74. Every track on here sounds different and every one is super psychedelic in its own way, and every one is my favorite, so it's hard to single out any, but I'll try. Standouts include: a trippy track by Los Destellos that simulates a pot smoke haze and quotes "Volare;" Los Shain's "Gua Guau a Go-Go," a mellow garage groove with vocals by actual dogs; Jaguar, a band that sounds like the vampiric Ventures; the off kilter soul music of Los Far Fen; and a slightly twisted Lesley Gore cover by Monik.  Top it off with a thick booklet with much needed contextualizing liner notes (and amazing photos) and you have a panckage that tears the Peru-oof of the sucker! Not as consistent is the Spanish Soul/Funk comp "Sensacional Soul Vol. 2." While nothing on this groovy comp of 1965-1972 cuts (that add psyche, rock, prog and Santana-grooves to the soul mix, and features zero minstrel show black voice imitations) is ever as lazy sounding as an early 70s porn soundtrack, there's also nothing on here that could have made U.S. black radio take notice. That said, by the time disc 2 rolls around (and it's not in chronological order, disc 2 just happens to be better) you get into some deep shit, particularly Los Pekenikes super funky "Polucion," which I assume is covering the same ground as Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy me the Ecology" but sounds badder than anything on his "Troubleman" soundtrack (one can definitely imagine a nice Blaxploitation flick beatdown to this music) and the funk scat inanity of Lone Star. But if this writeup sounds lukewarm, don't take that as a deterrent...the thick booklet of informative liner notes and unbelievable photos and repros of the lurid cover art to almost every track here makes this a bargain at any price.

Claw Hammer "Deep In The Heart of Nowhere"

(Munster) If L.S.D. was abundant-er in the 90s I would call this audio W.M.D.  a 90s acid flashback. The Art Chantry cover art...the Claw Hammer wall of trash noise...the post-grunge guitar sounds...that feeling that you were about to see a's all here! This is a badass live recording of a 1995 Texas show that was a greatest hits revue of a band with no hits but a lot of bodyblows. "Sick Fish Belly Up" will knock you off your chair, straddle you, and poop on you. "Sticky Thing" will make you boogie to the point of nausea...or vice versa. "Hammer Jam" will either make you giggle or want to watch an episode of Barney Miller while tweaking. Clawsome!

The Lovely Eggs "If You Were Fruit"

(HHBTM) This mystical band somehow mediates total adorableness with some kind of strange energy that makes lyrics like "coo coo coo coo coo coo coo coo coo coo I like birds but I like other animals too" seem more profound than Dylan's ph.D. thesis on Leonard Cohen's poetry. The best songs sound like Moe Tucker teaming up with that crazy one man band busker on the corner to create a Shonen Knife cover band without either of them having ever heard Shonen Knife.

afternoon naps "parade"

(HHBTM) Kinda snoozy. Lush pop and lo-fi don't really function on the same plane (though I like the way the flute was recorded).

Sourpatch "crushin"

Should be called Sweetpooch because this early 90s indie pop reenactment society had me wagging my tail!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Superions "s/t"

(HHBTM) The world would actually be the dreamy, sexy, futuristic Garden of Eden predicted by this record if in instead of thousands of Elvis tribute artists and AC/DC cover bands, earth was overrun by this type of Fred Schneider impersonator. Out of this world!

Popular Reality zine, Popular Reality/Psionic Plastic Joy split zine

The newest issue of PR opens with  a rejection letter...they are considered too dangerous for prison! But I really dig the previous issue.  Ahh...the split zine format! Made even more nutty when both zines utilize cut 'n' paste radical manifestos utilizing lots of "found" text. The PPJ interview with performance prankster Rev. Billy is the highlight, but pretty much it's the entire newsprint, broadsheet, squinting, overload experience of the whole thing that floats this boat.

The Service Industry "Calm Down"

(Sauspop) More power to the power poppers! Especially when they try to sound like grown folk and not teenagers. This record will help you negotiate earth.

Smoke Signal comix

(Desert Island) This broadsheet arty comix compilation makes Fort Thunder look like Fart Thunder! Actually, despite the variety, affinity for imperfect artwork, and pleasant pretensions of artiness, the issues of this have been more accessible and at times comical than the great Brian Chippendale/Brinkamn/etc. publications of yore. "Names" like Ron Rege and Johnny Ryan, and should be names like Jennifer Grims and Sam Gaskin mix together to make a Caesar's Salad of Comix Awesomeness.

S.C.C. ep

(No Profit) Eight drunken old school hardcore vomitations that brings to mind old regional no budget hardcore singles by bands like the Clitboys. Even includes lyric sheet! And 80s HxCx initials! Though in the 80s "S.C.C." would probably have stood for Systematic Capitalist Conformity. This band is the Slutty Church Chixxx.

Abstract Artimus "They Won't Forget" b/w Flight of Garuda"

(Dingdong) There are a lot of bands in the world...let's be honest, there are way too many fucking bands in the world. My instincts are usually to wish most of them to the cornfield, but my much more rarely utilized impulse is to wish some brilliant act was better able to claw its way to the top of the body heap. This thrilling boogie future punk soul rock n roll dude and his morphing magic act stands out as one of my faves and I can't believe nobody is onto this juju music yet. This single (inconveniently housed in an oversized sleeve) is testament to the terror wreakable by this powerhouse. If Abstract Artimus plays your town that gig is one AA meeting you wan't want to miss!

The Vacant "Kings of Evil"

(Wrecked'Em) Making the Mentors seem like Mormons, this isn't the kind of music one can judge as being good or bad. One just has to get upon ones knees and concede, submitting to the power of lyrics like "I wanna be your sexual Hitler."

The Pink Sexies "s/t" EP

(Wrecked 'Em) There's a place in Rochester called Nick Tahou's that serves something called The Garbage Plate which I vaguely recall included a pile of potatoes, a hot dog, eggs, onions, and a slathered-on spicy beef sauce, all mixed together so it looks like a 2 pound pile of excrement, and tastes like mess-heaven. This band is the Garbage Plate of Trash Rock.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Had Had & drawerer (minicomix by Mahoney)

( These two minis are beautiful, rich, nonsensical explosions of graphic goodness. Reactivating an old offset press, digging up some ancient zipatone, finding some vibrant ink colors, and shaking some kooky creatures from between brain wrinkles, Mahoney has gone beyond the stated goal of capturing zine glory days...these are really timeless works of art.

GoDIYRecords "New York," "Plains," "East Coast," "East Coast II,""PA, NJ & MD," "Ohio & PA," West Coast," "West II"

(GoDIYRecords) OK, just to get this out of the way, this is clearly some kind of hustle where the label charges bands to be on cheapo compilation CDs. That said, considering no one really knows what the hell the "music industry" is about in the digital apocalypse era I'm not going to put anyone down for throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. I'm sure the label promised to get reviews, so they ain't gonna get called liars on my watch. Which is hard labor on my part, because many of the bands are uneasy on the ears, though each disc (grouped by states or regions) has at least one or two interesting acts. One of the disappointing aspects of this listening endeavor is that it's hard to find any regional trends on these, because the bands that go in for this kinda deal are inclined to be mediocre MOR acts with commercial aspirations, so they are bands that just aren't distinctive enough to be trend barometers. There are some exceptions. The "Plains" edition makes me think that region trends towards bad band naming instincts. The brutal-est band is called Suit? Could the pop band Debut have come up with anything less descriptive? And shouldn't He Who Dredz be reggae, not boogie rock? (Best act on that disc is probably Mayda, with its kinda Gwen Stefani vibe). On "PA, NJ, & MD" I dig Fools and Horses, who have some whimsy and bounce working for them. Not surprisingly the rustbelt rock of the "Ohio and PA" disc yields some of the better acts (The Dream Intended with their glorious excess, the honkytonk bar rockers North of Mason Dixon, and the, I assume, reformed Metallica cover band Dangerus Inc). On "New York" the tweak-core jitter music of Feeble is pretty awesome. On "East Coast" the quirky Seepeoples are tops, and on "East Coast II" the standout (by default) is Naree because the Seinfeld bass popping is amusing. On "California I"and "California II"the best bands are the need-a-lozenge rockers Lonely Kings and the novelty ska (is there any other kind?) jokers of the Fabulous Rudies. Not to be confused with the Cli discs "West Coast" and West II" actually have some impressive rockers on them, including Whiskey Avengers, Monster Island and The Lowclass. But the best of the bunch (for name and ridiculous song" is Pimpbot! My suggestion for the best bands here is to consider going even DIY-er next time, and for the rest of the bands to take note of just how many bands are out here (on these CDs alone). Is being in a band the best use of your time? But if your muse is telling you so, then of course it is!