Sunday, December 22, 2013

Life Stinks "Shadow on the Wall" b/w "Drag You"

(Total Punk) Maybe my ears are off kilter because I'm sad Lorna just died, but despite the inelegance and ugliness of this aptly named band, hearing punk infused with convincing dark melancholy reminds me of Chicago's great DA!, and that's a melodramatic home run in my scorebook. 

Cheap Time "Goodbye Age" b/w "Soon over Soon"

(TOTAL PUNK) Surly garage ragged-pop methadone that will stain your reality.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gino and the Goons “Oh Yeah!” b/w “Stand Tall," “Troubled” b/w “I’m A Big Boy”

(Pelican Pow Wow/Total Punk) If you put these 45s on a normal person’s jukebox they would break either the machine or the dude’s brain. That’s because everything about these double a-sides, from the “whoa whoa” chants to the anthemic drive to the heavy hooks says “pure hits” but the recording, execution, and nastiness says “pure hits of lethal street drug in a rusty needle bearing syringe.” The triumphant “I’m A Big Boy” is almost poignant, while simultaneously celebrating the kind of slurred indecipherable-ness that makes you uncomfortable because you don’t know if alcohol or cerebral palsy (or both) are its source.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Nubs “Job” b/w “”Little Billy’s Burning”

(Last Laugh) Some of the punkest moments in the history of punk occur when someone not officially punk tried to do what they thought “punk” was, and ended up with something more twisted than Black Flag could ever muster. I don’t know the story of the Nubs so I can only guess (perhaps the only thing that makes these Last Laugh reissues imperfect is the lack of archival notes, but that they instead present the records with original artwork everywhere is a decent tradeoff), and I quite frankly am happy imagining this 1980 release is by some kinda mooky rock dudes excited about the simplicity and antisocial prospects of punk, but having only heard a little of it (maybe just on the news or a report on Tomorrow) so they make what sounds like Wild Man Fisher covering the Germs with new lyrics by a really mean 12 year old. “Jobs” is a KBD classic but the b-side (or a-side according to the cover, though not the label) is a killer rocker about a kid burning down the house, with himself in it, his retarded grandma having not been particularly responsible. Needless to say, it’s awesome.

Bananas Magazine #8

( Ben Lyons, the Tee Pees, and a drunken insane non-interview that doesn't at all, yet totally does, explain the deal behind Last Laugh Records. Still no Jovial Bob Stine to be found, however!

Now Sleepyhead “nocturne”

( Aggressively mellow somnambublasts! Made me woozy and grateful for it.

Sarah Marie Young “Too Many Februaries”

( Let’s first get out of the way the absurdly obvious: Sarah Marie Young can sing!!! The Chicago vocalist has jazz/folk/gospel/R&B/pop chops forever, and anyone not enchanted, charmed, and in love with the magic coming from her larynx has ear problems. But what’s killing me here is that this record sounds like a million dollars. Literally, I can’t figure out how a self-released CD can have Carole King/Steely Dan level production…if she paid less than a million to record this she got a serious bargain. To reference that era of sound and production is admirable enough, but to conquer it seems like a miracle. Of course, talent attracts talent, and it’s easy to hear why anyone who loves beautiful sounds would want to lend their skills to making this fantastic album sound as good as it could.

Exorcisms "Love Gone Bad" b/w "Two With Half"

( There's heavy for the sake of heaviness (see late 90s stoner rock 10" records) and then there's a heaviness that comes from the weight of pure rock 'n' roll wickedness bearing down on mortality powered by pure soul power and teenage heartbreak-level melodrama. Excellent-orcisms!

Clearance "dixie motel two-step"

(Microluxe) In the pre-"Alternative"-era when it was still College Rock, and in the pre "Insurgent"-era when you could have some twang and just be maybe Byrds fan and not an Americana visionary, I did not dig ANY of those bands. I spent my teenage late 80s/early 90s walking out on Tweedy, Malkmus, Mascis, and anyone who turned Athens inside out, satisfied to have seen the punkier opening acts. Maybe I'm older and wiser, or maybe I'm tireder and exhausteder, or maybe tinnitus took a toll, but listening to this seemingly boilerplate version of said sounds I really, truly am enjoying it. There's something sincere, soulful, and legit about these tunes. Hey, maybe Clearance is just better than those bands!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Beatles with Tony Sheridan "First Recordings - 50th Anniversary Edition"

(Time-Life) (Guest review by Gary Pig Gold) So I was sitting through another December 8th, reading all the (mis)quotes across the Interwebs demonstrating what a great man “our John” was, listening to the usual parade of “In My Life” and “Imagine” re-rebroadcasts, when suddenly I found myself desperately longing for some real vintage, real vital Lennon. You know, the pre-“Give Peace A Chance,” pre-B. Epstein-even “please, no swearing on stage, and do straighten that shirt collar, will you not?” Lennon.
In other words, precisely the kind of rock ‘n’ roll we’d be so hard-pressed to find anywhere these days …even within your latest fab Apple Corps-sanctioned box set. 
Well, I found what I was looking for. A brand new collection called The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: First Recordings. No matching ties and handkerchiefs, no phasing, flanging, or automatic-double-tracking; why, no Ringo even! Just four Liverpudlians on the desperate make who, when not binging on Chuck Berry, Preludins and Schnaps over there in Hamburg's red-light district also served as in-studio back-up band to one of Britain's then very biggest rock stars.
Caveat emptor, however: The “studio” was in fact an orchestra hall situated within Harburg's Friedrich Ebert School for Boys and Girls, and John, George, Pete and Paul on his brand new Hofner violin “guitar bass,” although they got to perform two songs themselves, were hired only to provide instrumental and vocal accompaniment behind Polydor Records' first real r 'n' r signing, Tony Sheridan.
As producer Bert “Wonderland by Night” Kaempfert once recalled, the prehistoric recording session that started it all early on the morning of June 22, 1961 began inauspiciously enough: “I had to tramp up these narrow stairs to a small attic-like room. They were still in their bunks,” four flights above where, only several hours earlier, Sheridan and the Beatles had completed yet another marathon 7pm - 3am session inside Hamburg's Top Ten Club. “Apart from the bunk beds, the only other furniture in the room was a chair – with their clothes piled high on it.”
Fearless troopers that they were though, after fortifying themselves with bottles of Coca-Cola and remembering to get dressed again I'd assume, Tony and friends proceeded to lay down four complete songs that first day, and a further three the following morning, performing direct-to-quarter-inch-tape on Friedrich Ebert's stage through a mere two microphones. Those selections, plus another recorded the following year, have been issued in various formats, and in varying versions, literally thousands of times around the world over the past half century …especially during the mid-Sixties after The Beatles became THE BEATLES and Polydor tried every conceivable way – above-board and otherwise – to squeeze income out of their lone eight “Beatle” recordings.
This go-round The Beatles' First Recordings, true to form, fill two full discs with thirty-four (!) variations upon those notorious eight: The original mono masters which constituted the majority of the vintage seven-inch Sheridan/Beatles releases, surprisingly vivid stereo mixes which began surfacing worldwide just as JPG&R were in the process of breaking up circa 1970, and even such oddities as American-only versions which added “enhanced” instrumentation plus strange “Medley” mixes from the 1980s. 
To be blunt, we're not talking “All My Loving” or even “All Together Now” here. The First Recordings are quite simply, quite pimply, the sound of five young boney Brits trying their best to eek out a living recreating the sounds of American r-o-c-k for randy nightclub goers and, just maybe, a few young German record-buyers. “My Bonnie (Lies Over The Ocean),” perhaps the best-known of the “Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers” recordings – it was actually released as a Polydor single in October of '61 – is represented herein via no less than eight variations: Attempts were actually made in the editing room to splice both English and German-language slow introductory preludes onto the original recording, for starters, and as George Harrison himself wrote to a friend about this hit-that-never-was, “When Tony sings, then it's me playing lead, but the break in the middle is Tony playing. The shouting in the background is Paul.”
Dueling lead guitarists and enthusiastic accompanying hoots und hollers notwithstanding, Bert watched “My Bonnie” quickly drop off the German hit parade and seven months later freed The Beatles – yet intriguingly not Tony Sheridan – from their Polydor obligations altogether. Additional releases from these sessions trickled out across Europe over the next several years, yet even a 1964 single of John Lennon's sole vocal spotlight, “Ain't She Sweet” (featuring drums overdubbed by Bernard “Pretty” Purdie …and none too slickly, either; Pete Best does just fine on his own, thank you) failed to enter the American charts at the very height of Beatlemania.
But Tony's lead solo, by the way, is spectacular.
Of the remaining half-dozen, “The Saints” – yes, as in When They Go Marching In – could've slotted easily into the current Presley drive-in epic, “Why” is also typical sub-Elvis mulch (though Tony handles the octave-bounding melody quite gamely), “If You Love Me, Baby” aka “Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby” cruelly had Mr. Sheridan's “goddamned” in a concluding chorus edited out for sensitive American ears, “Nobody's Child” sounds so much better here than in Nelson Wilbury’s remake three decades later, and “Sweet Georgia Brown” – all five versions – really does benefit from Roy Young's guest piano (P.S.: and so impressed were all involved with Roy that he was actually asked to become a full-fledged Beatle in 1962, but decided to stay behind to lead the house band at Hamburg's Star-Club instead. Pity).
And then, lest we forget that one-and-only Harrison/Lennon co-composition “Cry For A Shadow,” originally called “Beatle Bop” by the way. It was in 1961, and remains today, one very nifty two-minutes-twenty-three indeed. Truly too cool for words, and the best evidence across these entire two discs that greatness could indeed lay right around the corner for at least three of the people involved in these recordings.
Of course we all know the story that did lay ahead for most of those Beat Brothers. Producer Bert, however, fared quite well throughout the Sixties too. Besides hitting No. 1 in America three years before “I Want To Hold Your Hand” with “Wonderland by Night,” he rearranged the traditional “Muss I Denn” as “Wooden Heart” for no less than Elvis, wrote hits as well for Capitol artists as diverse as Wayne Newton (“Danke Schoen”) and Nat “King” Cole (“L-O-V-E”), a portion of his score for the film A Man Could Get Killed provided the music behind Sinatra's “Strangers In The Night” and, perhaps most impressive of all, Kaempfert's own “Swingin' Safari” became the original theme song for none other than The Match Game!         
Oddly enough, on much the other hand unfortunately, Tony Sheridan never achieved the fame, fortune, or even notoriety he so very much deserved. Though he continued performing and lived in Hamburg until his death in 2013, Anthony Esmond Sheridan McGinnity is best remembered, if at all, as the man who diligently mentored young Liverpool musicians over countless midnight hours on the Reeperbahn, coaching Gerry Marsden and most obviously John Lennon in the fine art of wearing one's guitar defiantly high across the chest, legs apart and bobbing, in order to properly play authentic rock 'n' roll on stage.  
Yet when all is said and sung, as baby-Beatle specialist Hans Olof Gottfridsson's fascinatingly thorough text in this set's booklet conclude, “This is The Beatles in the state of becoming. This is what you would have heard in the clubs of Liverpool and Hamburg when you could have hired The Beatles for ten pounds a night.” As such, The Beatles with Tony Sheridan: First Recordings should be considered Required Listening for not only Fabmaniacs who crave to hear every little thing by the lads, but for any and all Roctoberites out there curious about the leather-coated birth of British rock 'n' roll itself …not to mention hear what a great drummer Pete Best really was.

Good lookin' feller too.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Those Howlings "Paid For You" b/w "Dip It In," "Manifest Blasphemy"

(Swear Jar) With all due respect to Ginsberg, Joe Dante, and Gilligan, these Chicago-reared honky-tonk garage rockers sing songs sexier than "Howl" and more horrifying than The Howling in ragged voices richer than Thurston Howell, III.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reckless in Vegas “The Hard Way”

(Mama Cow) These Bay Area-rockers take on Sinatra, Elvis, Cher, Neil Diamond and other icons in a ultra-pro sounding effort that sounds like the Bono from the Las Vegas version of the Legends in Concert tribute extravaganza let loose on a three-episode guest starring story arc on Glee.

The Fuzz “s/t”

(Munster) Beasts of Bourbon/Fleshtones style good humored, unboring garage rock from Memphis, with a Dead moon cover, a Hold Steady member, and Tom Jones on drums (yes, the Tom Jones. Just not the one you’re thinking of). Fun and fuzzy, or as I call it, Funzy. And better than the Fuzztones.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ska-Skank Redemption “Wicked Bees”

(skaskankredemption.bandcamp.comSkawful! Easy listening 8th Wave Ska that really drags, with none of the bounce I thought was inherent in the genre. Sung with an average, semi-enthusiastic voice and punctuated with vaguely mournful brass, I would have thought this was a warped record if it was vinyl, but it’s a CD, so it’s supposed to sound this way?

Truman Bentley Jr. Newsletter

(3219 Camden Dr Columbus GA 31907-2143) You could say someone putting out densely packed, margin-free, single-spaced megalomaniacal rant screeds at a Nascar-like pace had said it all after the first million or so words, but there's some surprises here, as I received two recent emissions with twists. One was not typed but in a treat to amateur serigraphers handwritten! (though it contained acidic insults to handwritten zines [as well as religion, Midas mufflers, and anyone not smart enough to offer Satan their orgasm]). The other atypical "newsletter" was a DVD of someone (Truman? A Truman impersonator?) just kind of going around the home for two hours and showing everything in it (and everyone, including a higher class of lady one expects the prototypical lonely, crazed manifesto maker to find attainable). The devil has been kind to Truman!

Take Berlin “Lionize”

( Ethereal co-ed harmony lullabies by lions that are both the cuddliest and spookiest jungle kings ever. It’s like Simba and Nala were successfully killed by Uncle Scar, came back as ghosts, but were still completely adorable. And had better songs.

Steve Weinstein “Last Free Man”

( If you get a buzz from lushly arranged, satisfyingly straightforward, singer/songwriter story songs than this’ll make you drunker than a stein of wine!

Friday, December 6, 2013

eureka california/good grief split 7"

(HHBTM) If this is a Battle of the Bands (as I believe all split 7-inchers are) then the victor is the band named after the post-battle cry of perpetual loser Chuck Brown (of Snoopy sustainer, not Soul Searchers, fame). Basically, while Eureka California have a great twangy head-bobbing integrity to their two tunes, GG's all in (get my little word play there?) with straight up bar rock, and there's no fight better than a bar fight, so they win! But you, the listener, is the true winner! Aaugh!

Barreracudas "7th Time Around" b/w "Nasty Boots"

(WindianThis powerrerful, thrirrilling powerrer pop rorrock’n’rorroll is grrereat!

Buck Biloxi and the Fucks “Holodeck Survivor” (Total Punk), Buck Biloxi and the Fucks/Giorgio Murderer split single (Holotrash)

Continuing their triumphant dismantling of Lousiana (and Parts Unknown) with lo-fi musical looting BB & the F-words violently seduce on their Total Punk single with ostensibly Star Trek and stabbing-themed lullabyes (I can only make out about 8 words a song, and there’s at least 13 words in each, so can’t say for sure what they’re about). The mayhem continues on the spit single, and much like BB’s split cassette from a while back, I suspect the orgasm-inducingly named Giorgio Murderer is a Buck B pseudonym, and the fact that he’s doing more Star Trek-themed music furthers suspicions. But you know who else did Star Trek music? The Mummies and the Rip Off/Planet Pimp bands back in the trash rock glory days, and this masked, lo res b&w cover mess-terpiece is a tribute/time travel back to those dirty days. The Buck side features the best track here, the catchy (as in bacterial) “Shithole Boys,” but everything on this vinyl toilet seat is infectious!

The Knots "Heartbreaker" b/w "Action"

(Last Laugh) The story of this 1980 pop punk powerhouse has been well covered in Roctober, so dig out your back issues, but if you don't feel like reading then just grab this faithful reproduction/reissue and enjoy two of the nastiest, most magically punk injections. I am not a Killed By Deathy historian, but I think the A-side is what makes Joey P's New York record a zillion dollar eBay offering, but for my money "Action" is one of the wickedest wreck and roll whipsnaps of all ever. It sounds like Devo trying to do Germs/Dead Boys/Black Flag badass punk. So good!

Dancer "My Car Drives Fast"

(Guitars and Bongos) Power pop is often about pop, but sometimes, as in the case of certain Ramones Dolls, and other Bowery bad boys, it's about power. And not in the sense of walls of sounds or raging rock, but in the sense of fearing that these singers of sweet somethings would just as soon kill you as kiss you. Dancer reminds me of Chicago's great Mickey, in that all the amazing hooks and sugar are laced with a sense of crazy/wildcard/unsettlingness. Have I mentioned yet that this record IS AWESOME!

Slushy "Candy" b/w "Pocket"

(Randy) Because Lou Reed worked on a pop song assembly line before his Warhol-approved heyday it's not clever, absurdist or even particularly interesting to say this single by sadly defunct (on hiatus, maybe?) Chicago duo Slushy sounds like Velvet Underground making a bubblegum jukebox 45, but every review doesn't gotta be clever, absurdist, or interesting. Sometimes it just has to be descriptive and accurate. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Broonies “In Love Again”

( Lo-fi slices of ragged pop pie that will make you fall in love, make you hungry for more, and make you check your ears for wax buildup, cause music this sweet can’t really be recorded this cheap, can it?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Liquor Store "In The Garden"

(Almost Ready) Listening to this the first time (of many) I was struggling with what exactly this nicely naughty heavy rocking music mess actually was: is is punk? Garage? Trash Rock? Meta-New York Dolls-Referencing-Postmodern-Recontextualization-Core. Then, minutes into it, a fucking harmonica solo kicks in! "Ahhh...," my slightly alcohol-soaked brain said to the rest of my head, "This is rock and roll!" Just as AC/DC is belittled by being falsely labeled as metal, the Dolls confused the definition of "punk," and boulders fall on cartoon coyotes, sometimes a rock is just a rock. And that's a beautiful thing. And they sing about titties.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cars Can Be Fun "trace the tension"

(HHBTM) It's amazing what a nasty, crass, dangerous sense of humor can do -- this album (despite one straight up punk song and a single searing guitar solo) is musically twee-leaning indie pop. However, all the satirical, potty-mouthed, bold blathering about cannibalism, anal sex, pizza rolls, Milton Bradley games, shit-stepping, and dead dads makes this feel like straight up heavy, raw garage rock. And it's funny. And disturbing. And bouncy!

Magic Forest #1 by Ans

( Game of Thrones meets Yogi Bear! If that blurb-able six word description doesn't make you want to read Zombre-creator Ansis Purins' beautiful, hilarious, tragic, bizarro lovely comic, I can't come up with anything more concise to describe the weird wonders within. My apologies

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sneaky Pinks "I'm Punk" b/w "Puke Pudding"

(Almost Ready) Genuinely stupid dumpster-ready trash rock inanity that justifies the invention of recording technology and the use of the 11 cents spent on recording these two pools of sound pus. Puke's Not Dead!