Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Still Spark

( Poppy singer-songwriter-style stuff that sparkles more than a sexy vampire!

The Terminal Orchestra "The Seasons"

(Phratry) Should be called the Terminal MORE-chestra because I can't get enough of weather-themed dirges!

Glambilly "White BBQ Sauce"

( Thoroughly rockin' and fun, but poorly named as, oddly enuf, these Texas trashmeisters do not play glam or rockabilly. It would be more accurate if they were named  TrashaBoogie or Blues-a-Crampsrecordcollection or Southernrock-a-70sPunk (admittedly, the last two are pretty awkward). They kind of play bar rock, and sound like they listen to Skynyrd (the pride o' sweet home  'Bama) so maybe they could be called, brace yourselves:  BarRocko'Bama!

Life in a Blender "Homewrecker Spoon"

( Although it sounds like the blender they're in may also contain some potent cocktails, this is some surprisingly sober sounding quirk-core oddball musical melange story song wit rock. Bonus: Sammy Davis, Jr cameo in a song about a Sean Connery that's really about a picture of Sean Connery. Holding a picture of Sammy.

The Next Book, Jason $#!t#e@d All Up In...Roctober, Dudley

( Roctober #50 marks the official launch of our 20th anniversary celebration, which hopefully will include a festival, another book, an LP, and more. The release of the Roctober book Flying Saucers Rock n Roll in early Fall marked the semi-official launch of the anniversary. But the official unofficial launch of the anniversary was a few months earlier when Jason Mitchell/Midas/Shithead/$#!t#e@d/whatevayawannacalhim had his retrospective art show in New York which featured the launch of three amazing limited edition books of his archival comix. Next featured stream of consciousness, semi-druggy/psychedelic sketchbook comix that were pretty impressive, the collection of comix featuring his drunk duck Dudley was awesome, but best of all was a hefty book reprinting all the comix, illustrations, concepts, weirdness, and brilliance he's done in Roctober over the decades. 45 pieces from over 30 issues demonstrate his ridiculously one-of-a-kind style that combines hip hop graffitti linework, 60s underground comix vibeology, paying-attention-in-art-school technical skills, deceptively astute writing ability, and omnivorous pop culture consumption that poops out perfection. This is one of the best Roctobers we never published!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zisk #20

(POB 469 Patterson NY 12563) Lotsa White Sox in this issue (Disco Demolition, Ozzie Guillen eating meat, Oscar gamble’s natural, and some Joel Skinner jonesin’, not to mention the zine’s name) making this the most sox-sational issue ever…and we needed it!

The Energy “streets of in-between”

 ( Hard rocking power pop that sounds like Red Bull tastes!

Gaylord Phoenix, Foie Gras by Edie Fake

( Gaylord Phoenix is a narrative-esque, 2-colored, dream-like (nightmare/wet dream mashup division) art-gasm of a mini-comic that takes Fort Thunder aesthetics to a new visual-symphonic plane: when the semi-castrated, cutting fetishitst (?) monkey/buckethead man (??) enters a garden of erotic Hindu mysticism whatsamacallits (???) it looks better as anything you've ever seen on a piece of paper in your life -- guaranteed! The Foie Gras one is drawings of shrimp, cheese and chickens.

Monkey Power Trio "Who Cares What the Vultures Want? ep

( This year the monkeys may have eaten some bad bananas because these are some sour-sounding simian sonics. Yet, the kids these days love them some sour candies, so this may be their best year ever!

Social Climbers

(Drag City/Yoga) This lost 1981 album amazingly sounds like a parody of New Wave/avant garde 80s music, like something that Johnny would play on Square Pegs or Mike Myers would dance to on Sprockets -- without being a joke at all! Desperate, brilliant post-punk semi-electronic anxious seductive poppy weirdo music with period photos of the band as good as the music! Just awesome!

Jack Oblivian "Rat City"

(Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum) In the 90s there was a gloriously race to the bottom as bands all over the world tried to be the lowest, trashiest, most barebones garage rock resuscitators. The Estrus bands couldn't keep the metal licks out, the Mummies were too wrapped up in their gimmick, and the East COast 80s revivalists couldn't fix the mistakes they made the decade before. That left Memphis' Oblivians who stood alone at the glorious nadir. When I think of the most infectious/shittiest sounding song of the decade I can do hear nuthin' in my dome  but "Jim Cole got so much soul...I can't stand it!" The glory of Jack Oblivian's new release is that he proves once and for all he's still not got it! These offerings combine profoundly catchy raw blues trash 70s punk new wave hooks without ever seeming clever, slick, pro or complex! Thank the rock gods he's still Oblivi-ous!

Dan Hubbard & the Humadors "The Love Show"

( Should be called "the Human Doors," because this Americana heartland grown folks rock n roll band swung my soul wide open!

Man...or ASTRO-man? "Your Weight on the Moon"

( or Astroman?, the extraterrestrial 90s instrumental band that hailed from either Alabama or Venus, ain’t no joke. Some might say the band crested above its 90s surf colleagues because of novelty, but it’s hard to pin that particular “N” word on an act that took goofy themes so seriously. Answering only to their bizarre pseodonyms, incorporating oodles of sci fi movie samples, and performing on stages overrun by walls of monitors, working Tesla coils, and more tubes and cables than a Radio Shack dumpster, MOAM proved to be one of the most powerful live acts in their heyday. But a more potent argument against dismissing Man or Astroman as a joke band was their magnificent music. At its best instrumental surf rock splits the difference between the 1960s’ most evocative film soundtracks and its most damaging teenage guitar freakouts. And though there were challenged during the 90s surf revival (by acts like the spellbinding Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and genuine novelty act the Phantom Surfers), no band in the genre left a more impressive body of recorded work. They brought traditional surf to the stratosphere and toyed with 80s electronic experimentation on scores of LPs, EPs, and singles, including classics like 1995’s Project Infinity and 1994’s Your Weight on the Moon, just reissued in England, where the band was apparently huge…the booklet features glowing reviews from Melody Maker, NME and, believe it or not, Metal Hammer). In addition to the great press clippings in the thick booklet, this CD throws a couple of awesome 7" singles into the space capsule.

Panther Style "Emergencia"

( I'm so impressed by Jeanne Mcclure's slyly commanding rock n roll vocalistics that I shaved a happy face in my pubes, creating a Pants Fur Smile. I am allowed to say something that absurd about this record because they have a song called "Sex Panther."

Grubstake "What's the point in a new c.d. ANYHOW"

( This is not only post post-punk, it's post post post post-punk. It's so post-everything it sounds like Paul McCartney having a lazy writing session with Jandek and Tom Waits.

The Slow Poisoner "Lost Hills"

(Rocktopus!) One of my fave gothic garage rock one man bands delivers a rock opera, of sorts, with slinky, spooky storysongs about a mysterious town and an ethereal dream girl and lotsa poison. It's kinda undermined by between song narration, that woulda been better if it were underscored, or if the narrative was acted out by actors. I'm all for clarity but this feels a bit like having to explain a joke. That said -- the twist ending will shock you! Unless you've seen a movie with the same twist ending. But even then it'll warmly nostalgia you! Plus lotsa poison!

The Body

(Corleone) This Body must belong to Robert Earl Hughes or those motorcycle riding McGuire Twins or some other Guinness Book of World Records icon of record-breaking girth, because it's so heavy it broke all the chairs in my house by the second song.

Hospital Ships "Lonely Twin"

(Graveface) This music is so good that it would make mean animals act nice to people!

Tokyo Rosenthal "Who Was That Man?"

( The best song is a variation on the sexy librarian theme where a cowboy uses illiteracy as a come on. Naked reading rules!

Mr. Lewis and the Funeral 5 "Delirium Tremendous"

( Should be called Fun-erals, because they make dark, creepy cabaret-core Berlin weirdo music positively joyful!

Dylan Champagne "Love Songs of the Apocalypse Volume 1"

( This moody melodian must have gotten his name because he champion's pain. Just like Luke Perry's character in 90210. Not sure where he got the last name.

Abstract Artimus "Rite of Passage"

( My interpretation of this act's name is that Artimus Pyle of Skynyrd finds his music abstracted into some weird hybrid creature that's part southern rock/part funkdified cerebral-core/and a smidged of the least awful aspects of Zappa and Kid Rock. Though this new beast is neither fish nor fowl, it sure sounds good!

OBNOX "I'm Bleeding Now"

(Smog Veil) Noise punk made sinisterly soulful by resonant Danzig-esque vocals and blaxploitation-era toast samples. Lamont Thomas has made a musical mess in such groups as Puffy Areolas (insane set at the Hozac Blackout this year!), Bassholes, and This Moment in Black History, but solo he gets even stranger than those oddball noisemakers. This record is like an electrical audio storm that makes your neurons misfire as you do the herk jerk dance. Note: I did play this at 33rpm for a week before I figured out it was a 45rpm 12", and it was awesomely more evil when it was slow, but thrillingly more stimulating when it's fast, so this is really two LPs for the price of one.

Monday, November 21, 2011

West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology

(Experience Hendrix / Sony Legacy) [Guest review by Gary Pig Gold] Last I checked over at All Music Dot Com, there were 591 titles listed within the Jimi Hendrix discography – all but nineteen of which representing items released after the man’s most untimely death on September 18, 1970. Let’s see:  with 572 albums / singles / EPs / 8-tracks / cassettes / picture discs / video tapes / laser discs / compact discs / Mini-discs / DATs / DVDs / Blu-rays / whatevers posthumously issued so far, someone out there is certainly making many, many dollars re-issuing, re-packaging, re-mixing, re-mastering and re-processing in general the (re-) recorded legacy of perhaps the greatest electric guitarist who ever died. Most unfortunately however, the vast majority of this sonic slicing and dicing is redundant at best; ridiculous and utterly reprehensible more often than not. Why, even Elvis Presley’s last two-hundred-or-so albums have been afforded at least a certain amount of historical accuracy and aesthetic concern.  Which makes me all the happier to report West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology is that most rare exception to the grave-raping rule. Four CD’s and one DVD most pleasingly packaged alongside a 60-page colorful booklet within a nice mini-Neil Young Archives box, featuring a full forty-five previously unheard and unreleased Hendrix recordings which by and large actually do add something worthwhile to that already humongous discography. Interestingly, the material which right off the bat most pricked my Jimi-jaded ears were Disc One’s fifteen tracks of pre-Experience material, wherein our hero can “only” be heard blazing away behind such chitlin’ cult figures as Ray Sharpe and Frank Howard and the Commanders. In fact, the very first words we hear as West Coast Seattle Boy kicks off is Ron Isley shouting “I’m a freak for music!” as a fresh-from-Nashville Jimi, well, proceeds to freak things up as one of the mighty I.B. Specials on the Isleys' 1964 single, “Testify.”  Next, the hotshot young Hendrix surfaces on none other than Don Covay’s “Mercy, Mercy,” casually tossing off licks even Keith Richards would struggle a year later to ape when Out Of Our Heads was launched atop this very same song. But it is not until Rosa Lee Brooks’ little heard “Utee” – Revis Records # 1013-B, for those keeping score – do we unmistakably hear traces of Jimi’s own landmark style to come …two full years before the world at large did. Despite the crackerbox production techniques and equipment most likely to match, the man is nevertheless doing things with (and to) his guitar that must have seemed downright out-of-this-world on an otherwise nondescript L.A. rhythm 'n' garage session in 1965.  Similarly, whether it be showing off a brand new fuzz box on the above-mentioned Frank Howard’s “I’m So Glad,” pouring red-hot sauce all over Jimmy Norman’s “That Little Old Groove Maker,” or totally funking up Billy Lamont and his “Sweet Thang” – Stevie Ray Vaughan, for one, must have gone to school on this 1966 rarity – here was one character that was destined not to remain in the anonymous background for very much longer at all. Why these historic tracks have never all been collected together in such an official way until now is a mystery to me. Soon enough, thanks to the prescience (not to mention open door and phone book) of Animals bassist Chas Chandler, Jimi settled half a world away in totally swinging London, playing the mere accompanist to no-one no longer. Accordingly, the remainder of West Coast Seattle Boy tells the story we all know, but keenly using different takes – and in some cases different tracks – altogether. For example, here’s a six-minute (!) pre-vocal version of “Are You Experienced,” a recently unearthed, unedited “New Rising Sun” on which Jimi also plays drums, three fiery renditions of Hendrix classics from the Band of Gypsys’ New Year’s Eve 69/70 concerts (listen to Jimi quote Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker one minute, then Cream the next), and even very high-spirited out-takes of “Hound Dog,” “Peter Gunn,” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” Most patriotically, Disc Two’s “Calling All The Devil’s Children” even concludes with the Experience’s, um, legendary Goon Show-inspired “party tape” (“What’s your sign?” “Sagittarius.” “Does that mean I can ball you?”) But all play and no work simply wasn’t Jimi’s style:  Just listen to the six truly remarkable demos made in the man’s New York hotel room in the spring of 1968 on his brand new Teac reel-to-reel. The reading of “Tears of Rage,” fresh off Mr. D’s Basement Tapes, plus inaugural one-man recordings of Electric Ladyland’s “1983” and “Long Hot Summer Night” are perhaps on par only with Buddy Holly’s own NYC apartment tapes as glimpses of unquestionable genius-in-bloom. And then, we’re treated to the oft-bootlegged, but until now never as clearly heard, lone guitar-and-voice demo of “Angel” that is, yes, absolutely heavenly. That’s not all! The accompanying Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child DVD not only contains ninety minutes of superb performance footage (with audio to match), but even stars no less than Bootsy Collins as, and I quote, “the voice of Jimi Hendrix” as narrator. And, while we’re on the subject, exactly who is that woman holding that great big cat, standing right near Jimi on stage, as he tears “Purple Haze” over the Woodstock mud? Indeed, there still may be much to learn about, and from, the vast amount of rock-altering music Jimi Hendrix left behind during his mere six years as a recording artist. But West Coast Seattle Boy has done more than a good job at sorting the wheat away from the chaff, presenting us with a fine, and finely detailed five-hour-plus overview of the man and his art. So this Christmas shopping season, do beware of imitations. Speaking of which, I see that AMG Hendrix discography now lists 608 titles. And counting…       

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Husker Du- The Story of the Noise Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock by Andrew Earles

(Voyageur Press) (Guest review by the SOUL REBEL) It took a quarter of a century after Husker Du broke up but finally somebody devoted a book to the rise and fall  (the wit and the wisdom) of one of the most beloved and admired punk power trios! While other books captured snatches of the Huskers' story  (see Dance of Days by Mark Andersen and Mark Jenkins and Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad),as well as one notable jaundiced mention (see some inaccurate and homophobic statements from Steven Blush in American Hardcore), surprisingly an enthused yet critical overview of the Huskers' 1979-1988 existence--- their past accomplishments, generations of influence on everything from low budget radical DIY bands and labels to bands with starry eyed careerist ambitions, and lesser known interpersonal interactions within and outside the band---never materialized until now. Since its easy for people to blame legal red tape and varying degrees of reluctance over time from Bob, Grant, and Greg, I also feel the task demanded someone who could intellectually and passionately grasp and celebrate the Huskers' wide appeal to seemingly diametrically opposed factions: hardcore kids, 60s counter culture vets open to punk, "college rock" fans and music critics not really down with hardcore, Robert Palmer (the dapper veteran English rock singer covered "New Day Rising" in a live encore medley from a July 1986 San Francisco concert broadcast by Westwood One Radio Network), New York musical iconoclasts like John Zorn and Sonic Youth, Metallica and other open minded headbangers, queer activists, and more.
Husker Du captivated -then and now- a diverse range of souls since they sang about underlying bitter truths common to most humans even when addressing political subjects, they played, especially live, like a full blown electrical storm jolting all with adrenalin rushes of noise/energy/volume/melody/speed/aggression that reached sublime life affirming levels while navigating around and through manic explosions of anger, frustration, fear, and depression, they were honest, even if one didn't agree with a decision or statement you could respect them more than some other highly rated rock bands, and they tried to challenge themselves  (and their supporters and detractors)throughout their existence regardless of cliquish rules and expectations on their music, their sexuality, and their overall outlooks.
So is Andrew Earles up to this task? Yes he does a better than expected job yet it is flawed but then again Husker Du is more complicated than Motley Crue to properly deal with.
It should be noted Bob Mould did not participate with Earles due to his involvement with his autobiography, See A Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody (Little, Brown, and Company), which came out
this summer and Earles's book came out later in 2010. Bob has yet to read the Husker Du book but probably would approve of much of it.
Some of you might have seen a few online reviews of Andrew's book. I will try to touch on some aspects most of the reviewers avoided or down played. I feel some of the best moments of this book involve, what Earles calls "Husker Du's first and most overlooked legacy," their role in helping creating U.S. hardcore (hardcore itself began simultaneously in Canada, England, Japan, Germany, etc. roughly during 1978-1979 as well as in the U.S. via bands like Middle Class, Bad Brains, F-Word, The Germs, etc. and the use of the term hardcore,originally hardcore punk, was commonly applied to designate a specific punk sub genre during 1982-1983),the Huskers' Reflex Records label, all kinds of great Midwestern contemporaries during 1981-1985 including a bunch of Chicago bands, Husker Du's influence on noise rock,noisecore, grindcore, power violence, etc. and the often underrated contributions of Greg Norton.
I'm skipping around a little bit of their history but after reading Andrew's analysis of their independent label records, what others close to the band, and what Grant and Greg said, Husker Du can be called a genuine hardcore band during 1981-1982, with the Metal Circus EP on SST in 1983 they started to move away from it, and by 1984's Zen Arcade on SST, which I still feel is one of the best 20th century releases, they officially said goodbye to it. The Husker's were inspired to go hardcore in the first place after opening up for Canadians D.O.A. and The Subhumans in early 1981 Minneapolis gigs. They felt they had to step up their game and play faster and louder than others. Earles cites them as one of the first DIY bands to play at ear bleed/air pumping volume in bars and clubs; the Huskers ended up as one of a handful of fastest loudest U.S. bands at the time. As Earles wrote,"It could be argued that the Huskers were merely paying forward the influence that bands like Discharge, The Fartz, and initially, The Dickies, had on them if not for the fact that Husker Du were the DIY pioneers of the Midwest."
Earles thankfully acknowledges the often forgotten 1974-1979 Minneapolis proto punk band The Suicide Commandos were the first Twin Cities band to "get in the van" and book their own shows across the country predating many Midwestern DIY efforts even though they were briefly signed to Mercury/Phonogram records fake punk subsidiary Blank (also making them the first Twin Cities punk band to sign to a major label which Husker Du would do later generating much controversy...more on the Warner Brothers pact later). Husker Du however, were able to help organize an upper Midwestern network of 80s punk bands, labels, and scenes. "A considerable amount of this credit is due to the 'weekenders' that Mould repeatedly booked beginning in the winter and spring of 1981, before the cross country Children's Crusade tour (the tour that introduced them to Canada and states west of Minnesota and Illinois and in the process built them into aninvincible machine as heard on the legendary Land Speed Record they released after the tour), and in the time between that tour and the next nationwide excursion booked around the recording of Everything Falls Apart in mid 1982."
Chicago, the site of their first out of town gig in March 1981, emerged as one of Husker Du's main stops as they developed into a reliable draw and made many friends and converts. Their friends and colleagues included Oz bands Strike Under, The Effigies, Da, Silver Abuse, and Naked Raygun as well as Articles of Faith, Savage Beliefs, and Rights of the Accused,etc. Chicago bands were able to play in Minneapolis via Husker Du's hospitality. "For a time, Mould was only second to First Avenue and 7th St. Entry's Steve Mc Clellan as the go to guy for a gig and a floor to crash on." Steve Albini is interviewed and quoted often; other Chicagoans like Santiago Durango (if you don't know his band bio: Naked Raygun, The Interceptors, Big Black, and his own Arsenal) and Oz owner and band agent Dem Hopkins get their say too.
One of the more important public services Earles accomplishes with his book is listing the complete Reflex Records discography and describing bands the Huskers released on it. I was delighted to read more about Wisconsin bands Mecht Mensch and The Tar Babies (the latter shared members with the former and became a post hardcore jazz punk funk band), Minneapolis bands Man Sized Action and Rifle Sport that were more post punk rather than hardcore, Ground Zero whom I would like to hear after Andrew's description of their Pink record: "a bizarre and obscenely infectious cluster of skate punk, Dead Milkmen like whimsy and humor, jazz fusion, obligatory post nods to the Pop Group/PiL, plus Minutemen and Zappa/prog rock salutations...",and of course our own Articles of Faith that Bob ended up producing a lot partially because A.O.F.,while generally focused on radical politics, also shared the need to stand out by incorporating folk, funk, and reggae elements even dabbling in proto emo material  (as heard on their posthumous 1988 LP In This Life not on Reflex), among others. Interviews with the youngest Reflex helper, Todlachen, Otto's Chemical Lounge, and Halo of Flies member, and future Amphetamine Reptile Records head Tom Hazelmeyer illuminate the dedication, mutual aid, camaraderie, and sense of purpose behind the scenes at Reflex (as well as countless DIY labels then and now).
When Husker Du is cited as a big influence on bands during and after their existence most mention bands and genres/sub genres that were more commercially successful and/or accessible to mainstream audiences than the Huskers (i.e. bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, Nirvana, The Foo Fighters, Green Day, etc. and genres/sub genres like pop punk, as if punk since the 70s lacked pop elements via bands like The Buzzcocks, The Boys, Generation X, Blondie, etc., emo, alternative rock, indie rock,etc.); Earles says that a lot of this stems from a focus onFlip Your Wig their last independent LP with more radio friendly production values. I give the maddest props to Andrew Earles for adding to the Huskers' legacy: noise rock, thrash metal, grindcore, power violence, etc.
Husker Du's Land Speed Record receives plenty of attention with Earles claiming it was so mind blowing in 1981 that some were comparing it to fast folk and free jazz; Earles calls it avant garde and argues if were recorded with better sound quality it would be ranked more among top early hardcore lps including Black Flag's Damage and the Bad Brains ROIR cassette. I personally feel the lo-fi cheap recording captures the Huskers' playing intensity, their three part harmonies/yelling (unprecedented for an early hardcore band Earles wrote), and the brief jubilant eruptions of the audience quite effectively! I could spend time comparing their debut LP to the MC5's-Kick Out The Jams but in addition to the past it parallels their then younger Maryland peers Void, whom Bob championed, as both bands cranked out a post No Wave thrashing attack blurring punk and metal. This volatile spirit from the early 80s haunts contemporary noise rock bands like former Chicagoans now Texans Lechuguillas and long running American electronics/tapes noise project The Haters' guitar/drums/electronics noisecore side project Sissy Spacek. Earles also lists tons of Husker Du covers, an odious endeavor in many ways to complete since Husker Du songs were generally brilliant to begin with and doing note for note renditions often does neither them nor those covering the songs justice ( for example,I remember hearing a mediocre version of "Diane" by Coffin Break many moons ago), with more extreme bands included: Italian grindcore vets Cripple Bastards, Swedish death metal pioneers Entombed, Ill-noise 90s power violence and Fireside Bowl vets Charles Bronson, etc.
Greg Norton gets his due in Earles's Du assessment. Between the tensions and the harmonies of Bob and Grant, Greg at best gets a few words in an interview and at worst he gets written off by ignorant condescending critics (read the absurd tripe scraped up by Earles from 1985 English reviewers with one putting Greg down for not contributing much creatively and his moustache)! Well Greg did in fact contribute much in his pre moustache days (see some fun 1979-1981 unearthed photos included in the book): providing a free practice space at his mom's house in 1979, along with Grant convincing Bob to not return to his upper state New York family's home for the summer to guarantee the band's 1979 progress they were making wouldn't fizzle out, driving the band around to gigs, writing and singing his own great hardcore songs like "MTC", "Don't Have A Life", "MIC" (Military Industrial Complex), "Blah, Blah, Blah", etc. and of course his distinctive bass playing effectively setting the mood for songs (listen to "Diane", the Jah Wobble meets Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" riff on "Statues, "The Terms of Psychic Warfare", etc.).
Earles also suggests Greg kept Bob and Grant from killing each other when creative, personal, and career tensions intensified especially during New Day Rising til their Warner Brothers lps. Greg was the glue binding the others to keep Husker Du functional.
I found much to appreciate in Andrew's interviews, research, and tastes and I have to agree with two of his conclusions, "Husker Du's music transcends the hardcore, punk, indie, and alternative ghettos, commanding respect from a wider variety of mindsets and holding its own in a class of high quality 'heavy music' for which genre and aesthetic boundaries have little to no bearing...that includes but is not limited to Led Zeppelin, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Sonic Youth, Queens of the Stone Age, and Metallica."; Earles thinks the best Husker Du reunion would be for all three to get together as friends somewhere and work out issues including how to reissue their recordings, including all the Reflex releases, as many are out of print and/or not properly mastered to CD.
However, I also agree with two common criticisms other reviewers had: Earle repeats particular quotes and sentences verbatim throughout the book; and earlier material ends up being unnecessarily recapped a few dozen pages we blame him or the editor or both? He contradicts himself as well such as alternately saying their Warehouse: Songs and Stories double LP on Warner Brothers wasn't much compared to the other LPs, certainly not in the same league as Zen Arcade, but then saying some of their catchiest songs are on it and it is worthwhile. I would add he doesn't follow up on some significant moments like what followed Bob Mould's first response to concerns in Maximum Rock N' Roll about their signing to Warner Brothers. After his first response another more upset one followed in the letters section to which Ruth Schwartz, a co founder of MRR when it was a radio show predating the zine and former head of Mordam Records, replied that major label deals might not change exactly a band's music but can change the band as people negatively and that our actions are political. In the early 90s when MRR had an issue with interviews of "Punks Over 30" Bob was interviewed.
He admitted he was wrong about their Warners deal. Grant was also interviewed separately and he had kind words to say about MRR still operating (and of course that what Bob wrote in the past didn't reflect his views).  This oversight misses a sign of growth and reevaluation Bob had that helped him return to his DIY roots and to take more musical risks.
Another bone of contention, the book's subtitle reeks more of hyperbole than historical accuracy. Sure Husker Du can be considered noise pop pioneers, but they were also a part of a continuum of late 70s/80s bands that mixed punk intensity with inventive pop and even psychedelic elements including Mission of Burma, The Wipers, Les Thugs, Naked Raygun, etc. which Andrew mentions, however, calling them the band "who launched modern rock" is off! More than a few music critics have cited 60s bands like The Velvet Underground and The Monks that mixed avant garde and rock elements with darker song subjects, some black humor too, into a more off kilter and confrontational minimalist sound inspiring 70s German kosmiche music (i.e."Kraut rock"), 70s arty glam, 70s punk, 70s/80s post punk, etc. as the first modern rock bands going against pop and rock conventions, and trends like flower power, of the mid-late 60s.
If you can handle such flaws as mentioned, Andrew Earles will impress until another Husker Du book is published correcting some flaws and opening up some possibilities not considered here. I have yet to read Bob's book but look forward to it; I know some will complain his absence and Earles not going deeper into the Huskers lives doesn't make this worthwhile. I did get a better ideal about all three still I don't expect to know them much more unless I became a close friend of them for several years and event then I might not know much more about them than I do now. I do know that I am grateful for Husker Du's influence and inspiration on my own music and other areas of my life. Andrew Earles put a lot of effort into this long over due project provoking further discussion and debate just like the Huskers were able to do in the 80s.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Scrams "Zodak" b/w "Eat the Beat"

( Scramtastic! This is an some kind of awesome 60s rock-ish super fast rock n roll clutter joy mess!

Timmy's Organism "Scum Revolution" b/w "When the Bottles Break"

(Hozac)Twisted biology and strange chemistry lead this happy Organism into musical warganisms!

The Black Rabbits "Hypno Switch"

( I always figured Bugs Bunny was black, because of the trickster/Br'er Rabbit thing. Then again, he wears those white gloves, so maybe he's a Caucasian minstrel in blackface. None of that really relates to this band, however, who circumvent the garage rock vibe with some sleazy pop conjuring.  And they don't wear white gloves.

Impo & the Tents

 (Alleycat Records) Badly named because this virile teen pop punk rocked me so hard that after four hours I had to call my doctor.

Rachel Yamagata "Chesapeake"

(Frankenfish) If you like your singer-songwriting with entrancing singing and stellar songwriting then  ya ma get-it!

Kevin Kinsella "Great Design"

(ROIR) Should be called Heaven Kantsellout because this musical angel keeps it real!

Ward White "Done With the Talking Cure"

( Wow! We welcome Ward White's whipsmart workmanship, willowy warbling, and wellspring of well-crafted words.

Bonnie Prince Billy "wolfroy goes to town"

(Drag City) Bonnie Prince Brilliant!

Lydia Loveless "Indestructible Machine"

(Bloodshot) Should be called LydiAWESOME LoveMORE! And this genre should be called AmX, for "Americana Extreme!"

The Habit "Lincoln Has Won"

(Reel to Reel) This boy-girl singing band delivers hooky American dreamy ballads that are dreamier when the lady takes over. Good Habit!

Dan Miraldi "Rock N Roll Band!"

( He's the new Paul Rodgers! Catchy classic rock-ish rock with oldies-style keyboards and new wave waving.

Hypocrite in a Hippie Crypt "Tweaker in the Park"

(Gulcher) I'm hyped to crit  this hep creation that sure ain't hipster shit. Acoustic-ish indie occasionally dark strangeness that had me tweakin' and freakin'! 

My Pet Dragon "Mountains and Cities"

( Instead of fire this dragon blows clouds of ethereal glitter.

State Songs "presents Dearhearts & Gentlepeople"

(Phratry) Stately!

JJ and the Real Jerks "High Anxiety Society" ep

(Kung Pao Chicken Pickin') JJ stands for Jocular Jams. As in, jammin' with super fun hooky rock n roll goofiness!

Eric Hisaw "Ghost Stories"

( These tunes sound like they're gonna be narratives but they instead end up being the twangy-version of Springsteen-style snapshots. That Hisaw can go both upbeat and ballad-y with the same effect is awesome.

M&R Rush "Alpha"

( Better than Foreigner!

Avedis "Red Sea"

( Avedis-apointing.

Beth Wimmer "Ghosts & Men"

( She's the Beth-st!

Coliseum "Parasites"

( Should be called "colic season" because it made me feel like a sick baby.

White Whale "We're Dead" EP, "Widow's Peak" b/w "Rats in the Snow"

(White Whale, Big Neck) More interesting than basic trashy garage but thankfully not too interesting, if you know what I mean. These killer (whale) tracks sound like they were recorded inside a whale, taking lesser fish's bones for instruments and whale-ing on them!.