Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Saustex Variations

( The secret to putting out a good label sampler compilation is a mysterious puzzle few have solved, but Saustex somehow stumbled upon the key to this complicated lock: have a good label roster! Copper Gamins, Hickoids, A Pony Named Olga, Churchwood, Pinanta Protest and the others don't all sound alike, but all make sense, for various reasons, destroying the stages of forward thinking Texas honky-tonks. And that is exactly how this honky likes getting tonked!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pissing Match

(MorePower Tapes) Ahhhh! Hardcore that hit me hard in my core and scared me more than the old man in Phantasm (and that dude scared the piss out of me. And unlike these furious fellas state in their 21 second mainfesto “Piss Test,” I was pissing in a cup).

Glamour Girls

(MorePower Tapes) If you want to argue that lo-fi/no-fi recording production values and glam rock are two terms that should never go together I’m willing to listen. But then I will play you this filthy audio mess that is also a functional suite of strut anthems, and I shall rest my (cassette) case.


(MorePower Tapes) Sounds like Suicidal Tendences if Suicidal Tendencies weren’t good at skating and weightlifting.

Fleshy Mounds "You're Welcome"

(More Power Tapes) Stripped down, explosive art school hardcore performed by actual gorillas who didn't get into art school. Just like Hitler.

Gerry O’Keefe “Whatever Suits You”

( Suitably brilliant elegant power pop, that really ties one on! (Get it, suit and tie?)

Rickity “Greatest Hits Vol. 1”

(Hyperspace) It takes boldness and ball s to call your debut “Greatest Hits,” but it takes the same to be a wailing funk/classic rock heavy duty hybrid party/show band! Rock on and funk on, funky rockin’ brothers (and sister)!

Billy Joe Winghead “Spanish Asshole Magnet”

(Saustex) What’s not to love? There’s evil bar rock, a theremin, Hitler jokes, sock puppet videos, profanity, a shemale, a Mummies cover, a Mel Brooks cover, an Andrew Lloyd Weber and more Hitler jokes!

S. Carey “Range of Light”

(Jagjaguwar) Gentle, fragile, lush musical mood enhancers. I’m S. Cared of you!

The Sensibles “a bunch of Animals”

(Rijapov Records) Cute animals drawn on the front cover, cute white people photographed on the back cover --- I’m not sure which one is supposed to be the band, as these bouncy, happy, rockin’, sugar high, cotton candy bubblegum ditties sure sound like they are being performed by cartoon characters. Makes Shonen Knife sound like Slayer!

Loveland Duren “BloodyCupid”

( Night Court-ish bass popping bluesy funk meets Americana fiddle flashdancing!

Atlantic Thrills

(Almost ReadyBased on their amazing “Day at the Beach” single last year, I dubbed these cats beautifully off kilter 60s-ish surf/harmony/punk/psyche/partial eclipse sunshine rockers. While that brainblowing A-side is included, the rest of this album doesn’t mimic that tune, distancing this (I assume by their name) East Coast band from the Bay Area/Burger-fed surf punk pop geniuses taking over the world for the last few years. Instead we get some genuine grit and heavy gravel floating in the lemonade, and like all indigestible ingested matter, I for one I love the way it feels going down and coming out!

Chrome “Half Machine From the Sun: The Lost Chrome Tracks From -79-’80” "Feel Like A Scientist"

(King of Spades) The greatest argument ever for casting outer space psychedelic noisemeister Helios Creed as a madman now exists: not releasing the "Half Machine" tracks upon completion 33 years ago was fucking crazy! Creed and Damon Edge made otherworldly, urgent noise with underlying grooves and hooks that at their best were more organic, soulful, and frightening than any of the Chicago Industrial music they inspired. Their noisy weirdo rock was more jarring than all the Sonic Youth records played at the same time. This hour and a quarter of mesmerizing magic casts sonic spells that have only become more potent after festering in shadows for decades. Difficult music should not be this effortless to enjoy! So if Chrome was the future decades ago, what does that make Creed's new Chrome record (which Edge does not play on, due to his death nearly 20 years ago, though he does contribute 13 well-chosen words that serve as the sole lyrics of the brilliant anthem "Big Brats")? The crunching, crushing guitar-fueled journey through hyperspace is post-futuristic. It also manages to be savage, funny, beautiful, and wildly weird. Coupled together, these two releases contain an entire (twisted) universe of strange super-powered sounds.

Various Artists "Rockin' Legends Pay Tribute to Jack White," , "Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute to the Doors," "A Psych Tribute to the Doors," "Psych-Out Christmas"

(CleopatraThese four compilations highlight what the Cleopatra label does best. My original impression of the label was that it was a dark wave version of CMC, the 90s metal "heritage" label, that put out new material by hard rock stars of the past. But Cleopatra has done a lot more than give goth legends another chance in the studio. They have established themselves as a label committed to satisfying fans and artists of classic acts with quality reissues, new albums with great production values (recording, design, and packaging), and tribute albums that may be corny cash-ins (as all tribute albums are) yet still reflect that everyone involved is truly a fan, record collector, and geek excited to get legends and young talents together, even if it is to record a goth tribute to Smashing Pumpkins tribute, or a metal Michael Jackson tribute. Seventies British punk bands, 80s hip hop acts, garage rock revivalists, and Sunset Strip glamsters have all found a supportive home on Cleopatra (as well as some new acts), so even when an artist I'm not that interested in gets the Cleo bump, I'm still glad to see them get the respect of a nice looking album. In many ways their Jack White tribute represents the ultimate expression of a music fan run label, as putting aside the commercial tribute album angle, this was a chance to get artists from the 1950s into the studio again, and give them some glory and love while they are still with us. The magnificent Wanda Jackson is the ringer (the biggest name and a name associated with White already) but all the names involved are welcome, as hearing Sonny Burgess, Johnny Powers, Gary "U.S. Bonds, Johnny Cash drummer W.S. Holland, jump blues honker Big Jay McNeely (behind Nik Turner!) and Bobby Vee making well-produced, 21st Century recordings is a thrill. That the album also features rockabilly/punk revivalists/legends like Robert Gordon, Rosie Flores, Los Straitjackets, and Walter Lure (making some nice guitar sounds) is all the better, and what really makes this more than novelty is the fact that is proves White's compositions aren't just about his style, idiosyncrasies and recording techniques. They really hold up to a bunch of different styles, and Vee's sweet little country take on "We're Going to Be Friends" and Cyril Neville's wonderful vocal on "You Don't Know What Love Is" are just great recordings they should have made even without this concept project. 

I know that the Doors songs are brilliantly crafted pop, but I find Jim Morrison insufferable and turn off oldies radio when his voice fills the airwaves. So the Cleopatra tributes are actually serving up improved songs in my opinion. On the psyche album Elephant Stone redeems “L.A. Woman,” The Psychic Ills do an extremely reverent cover of “Love Me Two Times," and Dark Horses does a trippy, minimalist, drone take on “Hello, I Love You” that is still pleasantly ringing in my head. Other highlights include Clinic’s futuristic take on “Touch Me,” and the Raveonettes dreamy “The End.” Sure, doing a psych tribute to a band many consider a psych band (not I, but many) ain’t daring, but I dug this. The classic rck tribute is more bombastic, almost a broadway rock opera jukebox musical, arranging the hits into  suite of power riff, wailing, pummeling vehicles for an army of talent including Rundgren, Edgar Winter, Skunk Baxter, Mark Farner, Steve Cropper, Pat travers, David Johansen (!), Rick Wakeman and dozens more. It's mighty, but still for Doors diehards only.
Much better is Cleopatra's Christmas compilation, which unlike their metal, pop, and rock tribute albums which often feature older stars (Wakeman, Rod Argent) and gifted but historically hinky "members" of classic bands (Bumblefoot, Bruce Kulick), this (like the psyche Doors tribute) features younger and fresher (and some timeless) acts that quite frankly don't seem that hung up on defining what "psych" means. There's nice sounds from Sons of Hippies, a pretty straight up psyche act, but awesomely this album culminates with an Iggy Pop "White Christmas," which is certainly mind blowing but to particularly psychedelic.  Impressively this album draws upon the talents of Quintron and Pussycat (two killer tunes), stoner superheroes Dead Meadow, sweet swedes the Movements, and one of the better Fuzztones tracks I've heard in a while. By not making the bands conform to psyche cliches or make novelty tracks (and being so open minded that a cover of "Time of the Season" counts as an Christmas cut) this album will not only hold up for many X-mases to come, but can be spun safely in May or October.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Eddie Pepitone "A Great Stillness"

(Stand Up!) Eddie Pepitone is known as a comic's comic, the comedian that other comedians worship, and hearing this set it's easy to hear why, but also not impossible to understand why this doesn't translate into mainstream success. The rhythm, phrasing, and discordant melody he utilizes to deliver gripes, rants, and ugly epiphanies is something any comic would aspire to. His actual gritty, seasoned, marvelously distinctive voice is something any comic would be jealous of. But while I can certainly appreciate the gruffly sensitive soul revealed as Eddie reads his tweets and rails against billboards and Yelp and jalepeno poppers, it sometimes seems like his material is rarely as hilarious as his incredible delivery promises which could underwhelm some laymen. But if you listen to Eddie the way you listen to a jazz soloist and just dig a master blowing on his instrument (so to speak) it's hard not to appreciate the artistry here.

Cy Amundson "Lovesick in Toledo"

(Stand Up!) Cy has the confindent, borderline smarmy delivery of Anthony Jeselnik, but instead of making jokes about actual molestation victims he just jokes about fooling people into thinking he's molesting his niece and nephew. Maybe one or two times too many. That said, I sure laughed alot at this well-honed set, which is a little tough on the "white trash" contingent, but pretty damn funny in being so. And his bit about announcing a middle school girl's basketball is a pretty classic comedy album-type routine, approaching Bob Newhart territory...except for the ridiculing little girls part. Which is pretty much all of it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Geoff Tate "Just Another Clown"

(Stand Up!) There's a lot of different ways to be a very entertaining drug-centric comic. You can be a dumb stoner like Cheech and/or Chong, a genius, but spacy, stoner like Mitch Hedberg, or you can go a route that has always really impressed me, where you recall detailed, honest, outrageous true life tales of drug-fueled debauchery that find humor in the dangerous depths of depravity, revealing personal lows in ways that  serve as confessionals and warnings. Artie Lange was so good at doing this on Howard Stern that sometimes the host would ignore his in-studio guests just to cajole Lange to repeat one of his favorite misadventures. On Geoff Tate's wonderful new album he introduces a fine alternative to the latter. He tells tales of experimenting with crack, challenging acid trips, and filing drug tests with wit, charm, intelligence and a fine sense of comedic rhythm, but with absolutely so shame, regret, or for the most part, consequences. His stories are genuinely funny, seem relatively honest, and are apology free. As he says on the album, having AIDS is terrible but getting AIDS is great, because what could be better than sex or drugs? If you answered "rock 'n' roll," you may be looking for the Queensryhche lead singer Geoff Tate, who is way less funny.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Baseball Project “3rd”

(Yep Roc) The third inning of baseball-themed rock ‘n’ roll from this all baseball all the time all-star side project is what you would call, in baseball parlance, a quality start. What’s special about these songs is that they aren’t just baseball themed, they are hard wired for the kind of Baseball Almanac, Sabremetrics, emotional-weight-of-your-dad-having-a-catch-with-you craziness that leads to baseball fans embracing historic and mathematic and esoteric specificity. But because it’s pop music, anyone could still dig it! The Lenny Dykstra song is a perfect example, as it seemingly contains way to much ultra specific information about what teams he played for, and his best seasons, and his side businesses, and his baseball talents, and his failed comeback, and his prison activities, yet it’s so catchy, and the chorus hook is so genuinely good (“I lived in a mansion, I lived in a car/You got to fly high to fall this far) that this is absolutely a functional pop song that everyone should groove on. And they are willing to take risks, thematically if not musically: they have a shockingly sympathetic song about the steroid-abusing A-Rod tempting fate by wearing unlucky number 13. And though they are sonic crowd pleasers, these aren’t musically simple songs: the tune about the day Pasqual Perez earned the nickname “perimeter” by being late because he couldn’t find the exit to the park manages to be bouncy, yet simultaneously somber. And there is a magnificent chord change in their ode to Larry Yount (whose Major League career ended before it began when he was injured warming up for what would have been his big league debut), to invoke their subject’s mixed sense of pride and jealousy he feels at a family gathering as his kids beg their Uncle Robin for glory day stories. I guess the main point is that baseball is great and everyone who loves baseball should understand that and love this, for as The Baseball Project explain musically, even Steve Howe, Sammy Sosa, Ty Cobb, the 1919 Black Sox, and John Rocker deserve love despite their personal and professional shortcomings, for one important reason, sung with hope and reverence: “They played baseball.”

Peter Hamill/Gary Lucas “Other World”

(Esoteric/Cherry Red) One kind of art rocker meets another and the results are arty, but not particularly “out there,” so to speak. The duo one might call Van der Beefheart Generator makes moody, sometimes spacey, sometimes gloomy, spare harmonic minimalist folk ballads. Even the bounciest ‘rocker’ on the album  (the fingerpickin’ “This Is Showbiz”) are still pretty delicate, and somehow the noisy feedback track (“Means to an End”) is quiet and precious. Maybe this is not Other Wolrd-ly, but it’s all pretty exquisite.

White Murder “s/t”

( This might be my favorite rock band now, as their take on punk, garage, and X-esque weirdo pop is so hard to compartmentalize or predict, yet has the best visceral qualities of whatever kind of aggressive underground music you (or as least I) dig. I l-o-v-e-d their singles, but this LP takes it to another level, plus there’s baby eating in the lyrics. My other favorite band, by the way, is White Mystery, and I really like Jack White’s record store. So basically, I’m really starting to recognize that there’s something special about White power. Quote me on that!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Christian Taylor "Ampersand Blues Band"

( Art blues that makes you happy-sad.

Adam Quesnell “Can We Afford This Much Despair”

(Stand Up) As this album reveals itself/introduces us to Adam, there are some things that might seem like warning flags. The emcee mispronounces his name. The amount of office day job jokes calls into question how much road/comedy experience he might have under his belt. And it is mentioned, and made clear, that this album is being recorded at a sci fi convention. But you know what? Fuck flags! This humanoid kills it! The most wickedly devious April Fools-related gag is recounted, African genocide is mined into comedy gold, and financial debt-based fucking is broken down to its saddest subparticles. Quesnell clearly watched a lot of cable in the 80s and 90s growing up, and science shows, nature shows, and after school specials may not have educated and guided him as well as HBO and Discovery Channel’s consultants may have hoped, but they sure made him a sharp, funny, self-depreciaiting (yet confident) comic. Yay cable! And boo Mr. Emcee who also ends the album by thanking Adam Quedell!

420 Friendly Comedy Special

(Stand Up! Records) Now that 1-900 numbers are no longer a cash cow I feel I can break a promise to my friend and reveal his brilliant, never realized business idea: a 900 number you call up when you're high to get small, daily doses of the humor that seems way funnier when you're way wasted. Part of what this was predicated on was that such humor would be easier to generate because high comedy patrons are fairly predictable and less critical.  Basically, you don't need to bring your A-game. Which, makes this release somewhat unpromising. However, that unpromise went unfulfilled, as this is more than half great, which is a way higher (get it?) percentage than my friend would have went for. This is partially achieved with a ringer: non-stoner Keith Lowell Jensen just does his top notch non-weed related set to warm up the crowd. Sure, there's poop eating and old lady fucking jokes, but KLJ goes light on the weed. Jasper Redd delivers a not necessarily weed based set, but filled with the kind of laid back, odd logic, strange punchline stuff that is gold to the stoned. He even tackles race, but in ways stoners will dig (his refusal to revisit slave days extends to not even eating cotton candy...cotton candy! It's funny, and delicious! And racist? Huh, what were we talking about?). Dan Gabriel completely caters to the crowd, but not with low grade stuff. His bit about Michael Phelps bogarting the bud with his super lungs kills! The closer is Ngaio Bealum who doesn't just talk about weed. He talks about weed and sex. Weed and history. Weed and TV. Weed and parenting. Weed and weed. So mostly weed, but with enough cleverness and mischief to make it appealing to a non-stoned listener. But balls out hilarious if you're fucked up!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Courtney McClean and the Dirty Girls “This One’s For Dad”

(Stand Up!Although the sole political number on this release is a hardcore sex tune about lusting after Joe Biden (rhymes with "legs widen" and "slide in"), these Sweetloins of the Rodeo have a lot in common with their musical forebearers Mark Russell and the Capitol Steps. Mainly, that their clever, wordy ditties are profoundly unfunny. That said, David Allan Coe's porno country record is super unfunny as well, but at least that one's so clumsy and crazy and bizarre it's interesting. This is just dirty songs with rhythms that ruin the timing of the jokes and lengthy vocabulary SAT lyrics that ruin the phrasing of the songs (it's a funny idea to say 'vas deferens' in a lyric, but not an actual funny practice). I suppose there's also the stand up/improv element of leaving in lengthy in-studio charter, but that only takes them to 'almost funny.' Which is an improvement. All that said, there are so many people that love country and so many people that love hardcore boning descriptions that if the overlapping area of a venn diagram coupling these two demographics was a gaping vagina you could easily fit every boner in Texas in there. So they have a potential audience!

Paul Hooper “Tense & Uncomfortable”

(Stand Up!) 80s stand up flow meets post-Stanhope nasty and on a few occasions this self-described “surly turd” hits ugliness gold. Brain tumors, autism, and upbeat molestation memories make for an odd-tasting, tainted taco smothered in comedy salsa.

Monday, June 9, 2014

FSDC 3 cassette compilation

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Bengt Washburn “Bengt Over in Europe”

(Stand Up) Despite the title this was not recorded in Europe, but rather in America by a guy living in Europe because his wife is in the military and he needs the health insurance. Yet the title is fitting as the smart, unintentionally worldly Washburn really does take us on an international journey of laughter, reporting trash and toilet truths from across the Continent, and more impressively, making viable, funny stand up jokes that express a working knowledge of global history, imperialism, and (to some degree) political science. However, that the naughty Mormon (who still can’t help but apologize instantly after crossing the line with child molesting or Holocaust material) is clever enough to open with poop jokes and close with dick jokes shows that in the world of comedy, one must never forget that worldliness truly begins and ends in your pants.

John Tole “Reign in Laughs”

(Stand Up!) The album title derives from Tole’s desire to be the Slayer of Comedy (as opposed to Dane Cook being a slayer of comedy – rim shot!). While that’s a pretty lofty goal, I must say that there was this one joke about a well-utilized masturbation tube sock that made me cringe in a manner comparable in brutality to what I felt the first time I heard “Angel of Death.” Perhaps “Reign in Spooge” may have been a more fitting title.

Jackie Kashian “This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux”

(Stand Up!) It is probably unwise to make a statement as bold as my forthcoming one on the basis of only hearing two comedy albums, but as a child who coveted Redd Foxx and Steve Martin vinyl above anything I saw on TV or in person, the fact that I have never seen a live set, a TV clip, or even a Youtube video of Jackie Kashian doesn’t bring me pause in saying I think she is my favorite stand up comic working these days. Her albums are so enchanting, smart, and ridiculously funny that she wins my imaginary comedy derby. The fact that her cadence sounds like a dated, stand-in-front-of-a-brick-wall 80s comic only makes her genuine originality all the more impressive. Kashian earnestly talks about her pleasant marriage, her Midwestern family and values, her lifelong love of books, and plenty of other seemingly edgeless topics and manages to reveal angles where the razor sharp edges genuinely draw laugh-blood. And she’s by no means on track for the Christian comedy circuit – there’s a bit about shaved pussy cunnilingus on her new record that’s so ridiculously clever it might win joke of the year. She may not have the absurdist or nasty tone to mine for Comedy Central or sitcom riches, but I hope the biz treats her right because this is pure gold!