Tuesday, July 30, 2013

“FSDC 2” compilation tape

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Creeping Pink The Creeping Pink Sound” cassette

(Gloryhole) Free psyche free-kouts that put your brain on the pink plane where there’s no such thing as sane.

Christian Taylor & Homeschool “Sometimes Creation” EP cassette

(GloryHole) Usually when you get the words “Christian” and “Homeschool” together you’re about to hear somebody say something you don’t wanna hear…but this sounds great, it’s totally pleasant string-laden folk pop! Onward Christian!

Scream Mask "War Robe"

(screammask.bandcamp.com) This could be moody high end art rock for your sound sculpture thesis or lowbrow background music for your neighborhood haunted house this Halloween -- either way, I'm screaming with approval!

Hellkite “fun kite”

(hellkite.bandcamp.com) Cheap, drunk hardcore…the best kind of hardcore (sorry Ian!). Reminds me of Mentally Ill, the Version Sound tape lineups, and every band I’ve ever sat in a practice space with after all the beer cans were drained.

Frans Höyer “Kuuhun Ja Takaisin”

(Kompakti) Finnish lo-fi electronic experimental art music that is strangely good and goodly strange from start to Finnish. 

Makeshift/Garbage Day split cassette

(UT) Two urgently punky bands, featuring similar lineups and all recorded a few years back. I would like to say that GD beats Makeshift because despite the great fuzz guitar Makeshift is too regular rock compared to Garbage Day’s jauntier punk-acity, but to be honest, it’s because Garbage Day mentioned the Super Bowl Shuffle. 

Bel Argosy “Lets Hear It For Bel Argosy”

(Donkey Town) Upbeat, boyish rock n roll from grown men who do know better…or to be specific, they know how to do better rock ‘n’ roll than you!  Falling somewhere between British Invasion, power pop, and punk rock, yet managing to do that formula without sounding much like Elvis Costello, I like the hell out of Bel.

Sitar Outreach Ministry “Don’t Ask for the Future, you’ll either GET IT or YOU won’t”

(Magnetic South) I know what you are thinking...combining psychedelia and Indian music seems redundant, right? What Indian music isn't trip-inducing? If you were not thinking that, please ignore the first six words of this review, and everything after the last question mark, and get rid of the ellipses and capitalize the first "c." Sorry the review ends up being so short.

Psychic Baos "nuh-uh: death of bob plant"

(Magnetic South) Heavy dark garage...as in, "remember that Barnaby Jones episode where the girl got attacked in that heavy, dark garage?" Except this band sings like it's Halloween. So it's like, "Remember that Fat Albert Halloween Special where Mushmouth got attacked in that dark, heavy garage?"

Thee Tsunamis "A Goodbad Man Is Hard to Find

(Magnetic South) Sometimes I think some of the submissions we get here at Roctober are just fake bands made up to clown me. I mean, could a masked, trash rock, Sonics-esque, sexy singing, Kinks referencing, beautiful girl band who actually sing a theme song with their name it exist? That's, like, 11 things from my dream band top ten features checklist! This is so good it makes me want to get married, have a bris, have a quincianera and retire, just so I can keep hiring them to play my parties!

Blank Realm "Revolting Classics"

(Magnetic South) Australian atmospheric rock out freak outs from last decade that make you wonder what they were slipping in their Vegamite. Oddly hypnotic, but the kind of hypnotism from a raunchy casino showroom hypnotist who has you on stage and after the show no one from the audience can look you in the eye.

Puppy vs. Dyslexia "...against all todds"

(Magnetic South) Archival recordings by the American South's answer to the Boredoms and to everyone else being bores and dumb. Hearing this on cassette makes it feel like the band is your girlfriend making you the kind of mixtape that requires in response either a marriage proposal or a restraining order.

NRBQ "We Travel the Spaceways"

(Clang) With the upcoming Replacements reunion I'm reminded of one of the most memorable concerts I've ever been to. It was a huge 4th of July concert in Grant Park, that culminated with the Replacements last show. They were sloppy, fed up, and full of disdain for each other, and to some degree, the audience, and were ready to call it a day. Opening were Material Issue, who likely had never played for tens of thousands before and were full of the optimism and energy of a band that believed they were on the rise (that optimism, sadly would not last). And in the middle were the ultimate winners of the Battle of the Bands, NRBQ, who gave a tremendous, thrilling, timeless performance that defied their decades of existence with youthful exuberance. it was neither about burying the past like the headliners nor looking towards the future like the openers. It was about the right now, and even as the current Terry-centric NNRBQ (doubling the "New" up) they maintain that energy and magic, as this CD makes clear. It includes some joyous banter and live silliness, a guest appearance by the since departed Tom Ardolino, and some playful, swinging, stellar songs. Though the covers are killer, including the Sun Ra title track made fresh here, and there are some catalogue favorites featured, what's better is the new material with input from Chicago import Scott Ligon that make the NNRBQ seem like an kickstarted, even newer band (the NNNRBQ!).

Heeby Jeeby Comix #4

Guest Review by Noble
(heebyjeebycomix.blogspot.com) Everything in the comic I like. I like monsters and robots and alive snowflakes and cowboys and frisbies and zombies and candy and sandwiches and balls and more!

Act Rights "Sweat Equity"

(Tonequake) Askew energetic Go Wave funky strangeness from these awesome Austinites. I'm a big supporter of rights for all acts, thanks to this advocacy!

New Day Dawn "Rise Above This"

(facebook.com/newdaydawn) If you think indie alt rock means a few grey yawns, then you will be knocked out by the true great brawn of New Day Dawn

Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost "Born There"

(Big Muddy)  I'm a Reuter rooter! Rootsy jangle power pop blues that mixes early Beatles with prime Eagles. Thus, they should be called The Beagles!

Raag Billy Bop "Stranger Here Myself"

(Vivacious) Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Philip Kaplan went to India and made an album that mixed the music of that culture with the music of his cultures (American blues, rockabilly, new wave, and some Jewish stuff --  he does rhyme "boogie" with "meshuugge") then threw in some curveballs with Spaghetti Western soundtrack sounds, prog, and modern classical elements. Throw in some beautiful Indian vocalsits and smidgens of Phil Spector Wall of Sound production and your bop will be raagin!

The Goldenhearts "Is There Love on Mars?"

(Signshop) Should be called the Gold-Record Hearts, because they should sell a million of these heartfelt gems! This dude's singing voice is sensitive, yet manly, which turned my coal black heart to gold. As promised.

The Red Rippers "Over There...and Over Here"

(Paradise of Bachelors) We hope to have a full feature on this amazing artist and release next issue, but in the meantime, you need to grab this LP (and cassette on Burger!) of one Vietnam dude's rock n roll chronicle of what it meant to come back home after the war. With some fine fuzz sounds, near psyche guitar weirdness, country roots, and some great lyrics we learn how bamboo prisons and local papers calling you out as a baby killer bring about some profound Vietnam Blues. Edwin Bankston was a pilot in the Navy and wrote these songs by '73, released them in '83, and is finally getting the attention he deserves in 2013. If you ever talked to a Viet Nam vet who had that "thing" -- that look in his eye, that just-ain't-right vibe when he discussed his experiences -- this is the sonic equivalent of that very serious, very distinct "thing."

Quintron "Sucre Du Sauvage," "Live at third Man Records," 9th Ward Marching Band "sneakin up the streets," Ernie K-Doe - The R&B Emperor of New Orleans by Ben Sandmel

(Goner/Rhinestone Records/Third Man Records/The Historic new Orleans Collection) Despite Quintron and Pussycat's now long history of music making, party starting and culture curating, the last few years have proven that their artistic careers have yet to plateau as their magic keeps getting magicker! Recorded during a 3 month residency in the New Orleans Museum of Art, "Sucre du Sauvage" is simply the greatest thing Mr. Q has ever done. The double LP features two sides of pristinely murky dance music that rewrites the rules of dance music. "Ring the Alarm" is a cheerleaders-in-a-bus-plummeting-downhill-with-no-breaks-but-keeping-up-their-spirits-up breakdown! Miss Pussycat gets jungle puppet happy on "Banana Beat!" The title track should feature the warning "May Cause Uncontrollable Wiggles! "All Night Right of Way" sounds better than any radio song out right now! Plus there's a heartbreaking tale of a Zolar X experience gone wrong! The second LP features experimental, atmospheric field recordings, meanderings, and twiddlings that make his prior frog sounds LP seem like "Bitches Brew." That said, after the audio aesthetic workout of the prior 24 inches of music this is the perfect mental palette cleanser and though I may have forgotten I've had this disc on in the background a few times during the scores of listens of enjoyed of the entire double album, I've never considered turning these spare explorations off.
Complimenting that masterwork is a live album recorded last year at Third Man Records' modest concert space in Nashville. Despite the room being dry, the crowd is drunk on fantastic sounds a Q & P, along with guest stars King Louie and the Oblivians, destroy music city. Opening with a C&W tribute ("Rhinestone Cowboy") the set becomes a party untethered to any particular time or space, including greatest hits ("Place Unknown," one of the best dance songs of the Century, so far), "Banana Beat," and the reflective "I'm Not Good Enough," which I don't think I've ever heard before, but I sure love it now. Pussycat's presence is particular precious this time out, helping people find their sunglasses between songs and making set change suggestions. Nothing can replace the experience of seeing this act live, but a nice live LP ain't a bad deal.
The other relatively recent Quintron-related LP which we are very excited about is the audio documentation of Quintron and Pussycat’s carnival-season second line group, The 9th Ward Marching Band, which we have had the thrill of seeing perform on Mardi Gars a couple of times. What makes this album such a joy is that the execution of hot hits by Blue Oyster Cult, Ozzy, Thin Lizzy, Sam the Sham, and (of course) Ernie K-Doe is done with tremendous skill by the army of hornblowers and drum pounders, yet there’s still a trace element of that inimitable beauty one gets when hearing a grade school band sublimely construct a recognizable song by getting every part in the vague vicinity of right, but not actually right at all. The 9WMB never sounds off key or out of sync, but there’s always a youthful, imperfect energy in the air that hints that a glorious mistake is possible, which is what awesome amateur orchestras are all about. Not to act like sophistication is alien to the krew: the transition from the Boxtops “The Letter” (Alex Chilton was a New Orleans semi-presence for years) to Mike Oldfield’s creepy “Tubular Bells” to “House of the Rising Sun,” to  a noise breakdown is nothing short of street-walking genius with a soul full of napalm. 
But despite the genuine magic of these fabulous LPs, the Q &P appearance that most hit me over the last year was a brief cameo in Lee Sandmel's glorious coffee-table book tribute to the late, great Ernie K-Doe (see our review from the local paper). Covering the R&B eccentric's career from 1950s funkiness to 1960s soul, to his 21st Century position atop his throne in his Mother-In-Law Lounge castle (to beyond, there's a section on his afterlife as a always-on-the-scene mannequin carried by his widow Antoinette after he died) the book is exquisitely researched, written in a captivating tone, and features hundreds of thrilling images, with K-Doe seemingly becoming more majestic and powerful every year. Including this book here with reviews of Quintron's LPs surely will not please Mr. Q, as his brief quotes in the book clearly (and accurately) state that his generation's championing of K-Doe is nowhere near as interesting as the captivating personality, joyful music, and well earned mythos of the the R&B Emperor himself. That said, the photo of a fabulously creepy Q&P/K-Doe & Antoinette pool party may be the wildest image in a book of photos of a man whose i.d. photo is probably wilder than any image on Facebook. There are a thousand things that make this book great, but one of the most important is that it shows how older generations of visionaries can provide inspiration and blueprints for developing artists who refuse to fit into the cookie cutter shapes the music industry celebrates. In fifty years I hope my kids dig the book some youngster will make about Quintron and Pussycat's lengthy, bizarre, ever more exciting career.

Pat Todd and the Rankoutsiders “14th & Nowhere…”

(RankOutsideRecords.com) Todd’s best material yet, and when Pat Todd is at his best he becomes the real deal of that which makes rock’s royalty become Great Pretenders. He’s the world-weary scene veteran young Springsteen bluffed through as he channeled such figures in early lyrics; he’s the bar band warrior CCR emulated; he’s the Americana roots rocker the Stones mimicked on “Honky Tonk Woman.” Rank? This sells awesome!

Plant and See

(Paradise of Bachelors)  This unjustly obscure 1969 LP was executed by the soulful voiced, social justice yearning, swamp rockin’, genre defying, singin’, songwritin’, psychedelicizin’ Native American musician Willie Lowery. A truly remarkable album this sounds, alternately, like the best southern rock band you can think of, lost Beatles tracks, the groundwork for the post-folk singer-songwriters of the early 70s, a surprisingly heavy Hanna-Barbera bubblegum band, and a bunch of other stuff that invokes everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Jackson Browne, from the Monkees to Miles. And the dude can S-I-N-G! Plant yourself down and HEAR!

Sid Hemphill “The Devil’s Dream”

(Global Jukebox) The mind-altering blues of fiddler/vocalist Hemphill exists only in the moory of some real old Mississipites and on some acetates Alan Lomax recorded in 1942, and finally, on this collection. There’s much to be learned here. First off, that Hemphill was as awesome as any bluesman that ever made it out of the hills. 2nd was that John Henry was actual killed by a hammer, not a heart attack. And most importantly, that the dozens of verses of Hemphill’s “The Carrier Line” make up a true American classic tune, one that America just don’t know about yet. This is a stellar, super-important release.

FrameWerk “Have Some Fun”

(www.framewerkband.com) Though based out East, FrameWerk is known in these parts because of their heritage: the group’s bandleader El Warren Weatherspoon (who’s spent years with Heatwave) is the son of Fletcher Weatherspoon, a Chicago party-throwing legend for more than half a century. It’s nice to hear that the party keeps grooving! This sweet-sounding stepper’s cut is a slice of both timelessly classic and completely contemporary soulful strut music. If you’re already a stepper you need this, but if not, if you’ve covetously watched steppers steppin’ and wished you could catch that groove, just get this single…it’s impossible to listen to this and not dance smoothly!

Rat at Rat R “Amer$ide, Rock and Roll is Dead, Long Live Rat at Rat R”

(ektrorecords.com) I like Ratt, L-O-V-E Good Rats, and probably listen to the Chipmunks every week, but if you ask me the greatest rodent rock record of all time I’d probably say Rat at Rat R’s 1985 debut. It’s visceral stabbings of anguished noisy experimental groovy rhythmic radical strangeness make their predecessors, including Suicide, Sonic Youth, and the No Wave bands, seem primitive, and no one has since made a post-punk record fundamentally better than this. Maybe that’s hyperbole, but I challenge you this: find another band making radical noise this important and solid from that era that was also fun to listen to! This reissue is god’s work!

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra “Playing Fleetwood Mac Rumours”

(Cleopatra) Obviously no argument needs to be made that the compositions on “Rumours” are distinct and strong enough to withstand the challenge of orchestral arrangement/execution. What I did find eye-opening about this album is that the RHO was not particularly compelled to “classical” this up. There are some passages that recall the less compelling populist compositions of Aaron Copeland and his ilk, but most of it just sounds like a grand, if divergent take on easy-going rock n roll. Which makes sense…the idea that an orchestra features old foggies who were not raised on rock and pop is an extinct stereotype. So despite a reimagining of Fleetwood Mac as straightforward classical music being perhaps a more compelling concept, what you get here is more organic and sensible. Guest orchestra-member Peter Frampton coming alive on “Gold Dust Woman” brings that point home.

Abstract Artimus “My Wild Dreams”

(Dire Life) Artimus continues to make crunching, boogie/southern/mighty classic rock that somehow comes off as functional dance music. The discos will be a lot hairier and smellier if these musical manifestos start the revolution they are gunning for.

HB3 “Ragnarok”

(hb3.com) Given the Norse Apocolypse theme I expected progtastic audio chaos, so I was pretty surprised, and relieved, that most of this is strangely soothing – it makes the end of the world a little less scary! Sure there’s some intense Dr. Who future grooves, some jaunty jamming, and a grand and groovy seven-minute sonic explosion at the end…but as far as apocolypse goes, if that’s as rough as it gets, I’ll take it! And like it!

Sons of Hippies "Griffons at the Gates of Heaven"

(Cleopatra) Optimistic, grounded, yet space soaring, semi-psychedelia pop that mixes a strangely soothing vibe with massive hard rock impact. Vocalist Katherine Kelly is like a tour guide/camp counselor at an interstellar museum/inter-dimensional camp out. But she's a sexy authority figure!

Razorhouse “Codex Jun”

(intherazorhouse.com) What’s goin’ on here? Is Marilyn Manson fronting a roots-rock band? Is someone composing an Industrial/soul music hybrid Jesus Christ Superstar sequal? Is Tom Waits writing material for the lounge act at Satan’s mid-priced hotel? Did the Mole People just get into Country and Western? Did someone set me ex-stalker’s e-mails to music? I know not the answer to any of these questions, causing profound confusion, but as someone once posited, confusuonj is sex. While I’m not exactly sure about that statement, after a few listens to this album, my addled brain is certainly trasmitting similar stimulation.

MC Trachiotomy "ratsliveonnoevilstar"

(Torrette/Rhinestone) More than just a cute palindrome, New Orleans experimental hip hop deconstructionist MC T has named his long-awaited album after rodents because its dubby glitch grooves are the audio equivalent of a thousand rats gnawing on a thousand electric cables and getting a thousand sizzling shocks. And much like the infinite monkeys with typewriters who eventually write the works of Shakespeare, these sharp-fanged sewer dwellers have created a masterpiece! The lead track, "Creepy Critters," sounds like watching both versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers back-to-back after drinking three bottles of cough syrup, and "Throw a Party" combines sitcom dream sound effects with the rap song exploding out of the stereo of the car that runs you over when you sleep off an off-night behind a speed bump. This will take you on a Trachi-odyssey!

Chixdiggit! “Double Diggits!”

(Fat) In the late 90s I couldn’t believe bands were still doing cookie cutter pop punk that late in the dcade. But fifteen years later when you listen back to the stuff you start to hear that the cookies were not all cut with the same cutter. I still can’t see why anyone liked Ben Weasel’s groups, which all have a sour vibe to them, and some of the most popular acts now clearly seem to have been creatively more or cynically less original in ways that make it obvious why they would stand out. But what I’m really starting to hear are how a few bands, including Canada’s Chixdiggit!, really hit the groove and ran with it. This collection of two early albums plus rarities feels fresh, fun, and worth hearing, and while it doesn’t have the edge and humor of NOFX it doesn’t come close to sucking your soul like the Riverdales. Diggit, indeed.

Dave Davies "I Will Be Me," Live, Taste of Lincoln Avenue

(Cleopatra) There's an old clip of the Kinks on Saturday Night Live in 1977, where they're blasting through "You Really Got Me." Dave is pulling out the stops on the guitar wank - he's cranking up the volume, making scrunched-up faces, and letting you know what a guitar heavy he was. If you saw that episode and wished Dave had a forum of his own to do what he does, this album is for you. Guitars cranked up to 12, and surreal, half-spoken lyrics that sound closer to Lemmy from Motorhead than the guy who sang "Love Me Till The Sun Shines" with the Kinks. While his CD left me a little cold, his performance at the Taste of Lincoln Avenue street fair was far better. Sounding more coherent, he blasted through a set that was half Kinks songs and half solo originals, including an acoustic segment in the middle. Admittedly, there were a few quirky moments, but given the fact that he's recovering from a stroke, he did quite well. More than one person asked to hear "Death Of A Clown," and he obliged them, even having a female in the audience join in on vocals. The strange part was, she was off stage almost as quickly as she was on, and the song itself was treated like a fun throwaway, but despite this, everyone was satiated. And his blasting guitar leads at the concert were right on point. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Biv and the Mnemonics “The Pace”

(Moo Moo) Not Biv from Bell Biv Devoe (unless Michael Bivins has taken up chill acoustic moody folk pop – which could happen, hell, R. Kelly headlined Pitchfork!). But even when this gets a little heavier, it’s no BBD. Which is a good thing – this Biv seems so earnest and positive he probably would trust a big butt and a smile!

The Soul of John Black “A Sunshine State of Mind”

(Yellow Dog) This is totally decent “sunshine soul,” or whatever it’s supposed to be, but the hitch is that it feels like what it’s supposed to be is a vision of a visionary; this is presented like we are supposed to recognize some pop/soul/blues/performance genius, a new Al Green/John Legend/D’angelo (he even mentions Voodoo at one point), and it feels more like a pleasantly adequate talented cat than a genius. Hooks seem more like jingles, melodies seem recycled, and whenever the singing elevates past pretty good it sounds like he’s doing impersonations. I feel mean saying this, because the cat seems talented and the record is definitely OK, but it really left me wanting.

Hickoids/Grannies split LP, Hickoids “Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit”

(Saustex) The Grannies, if promo photos are to be believed, dress in granny drag and old people face masks. The Hickoids wear dude’s clothes and years of hard living have made such masks unnccesary. But fashion choices aside, both bands share a devotion to punk rock trash that crusties squatting in Oscar the Grouch’s can could only hope to attain. The Grannies deliver some nastiness with a sharp, yet rusty, edge, including a Nervous Eaters cover. The Hickoids deliver the same menu, but with the waiter talking with a twang, and salsa slathered over everything. This was a limited tour LP, but if you can get it, you’ll dig it. The Hickoids follow-up full length continues with their signature haggard, happening Texas garage country punk blues. This is grown man drinking music where something you shouldn’t do as a grown man might just break out after the drinkin’, listenin’ and whatever comes next. If this was the bar band in my corner saloon I can’t imagine what my liver and eardrums would look like!