Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sudden Infant "Wolfli's Nightmare"

(2014, Voodoo Rhythm)You got your gloomy in my creep butter! You got your creep butter in my gloomy!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Tork by Michael Kupperman

(2019, Longtime followers of Kupperman's comics and illustrations and animation know him for strange, surreal humor that is very, very funny, though it is not always clear exactly why. It also seems so smart that elements of satire and critique must be in there somewhere, but it is not always exactly clear exactly where. A comic in which a regular snake and a single piece of bacon (who only utters flat descriptions of his attributes, i.e. "Pat me down with a paper towel to remove excess grease") theoretically fight crime (while doing nothing), might be about the banality of comics, or the futility of the world, or bacon's deliciousness. But "might" is doing hard labor in that statement. That said, following the artist on social media his tone, while still funny and smart, is somber as his family has negotiated the economic realities of this Century and the flaws of the school systems and our country's terrible leadership and the crippling struggles of surviving as an artist. That he spent a substantial portion of his recent history creating a brilliant graphic biography of his father could not have helped his mood. Dealing so directly with difficult subject matter (the miseries his father faced as a TV "Quiz Kid" in the 50s, and his elderly father's mental and physical decline [he died earlier this year]) would be rough on its own, but the underwhelming commercial response to his masterpiece and the subpar promotions it received were no pick me ups. Anyhow, I say that to say this: Tork is an amazing minicomic about dealing with life's struggles (much of it financial, but also shitty people) and small triumphs (the satisfaction of slowly, but successfully, cleaning out a family property) and mundanities (a Peter Tork cameo). The book combines the graphic and rhythmic skills of his best comics with the honesty and vulnerability of his public reckoning with his personal challenges. While not the grand statement of his amazing book (everyone should read it, I got it for my dad who was enamored with the Chicago-based Quiz Kids when he was just a little older than them, and he was fascinated) the quiet, modest aspirations of this project are fully realized. Though the tone is not entirely akin to The Monkees series, I would even recommend this to total Tork-heads.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sandy Nelson presents The Veebles

(2016, Burger) In the 60s drummer Sandy Nelson found himself in the Los Angeles galaxy of Kim Fowley and Art Laboe and Phil Spector and his sticks stuck it to some of the best 45s of the era. But his more flavorful drumming was saved for his own instrumental records which were a joy, and occasionally even popular. He was prolific through the 70s, and in 2008 Eddie Angel and some of our other friends did a great surf record with him. But what was he doing in those decades in between? Wouldya believe messing around with goofy alien visitors? This cassette presents a few slices of fun from the early 90s where Nelson did some whimsical, innovative, experimental home recordings that feature some nutty atmospheric instrumentals, but more notably one Chipmunks-sped up vocal number where wacky spacemen visit earth to spread humor and joy. Unfortunately there is no image of the Veebles so I just picture 12" tall Kim Fowleys and Phil Spectors painted green.

Let There Be Funs!

Monday, June 1, 2020

My Kind of Sound: The Secret History of Chicago Music Compendium by Plastic Crimewave aka Steve Krakow

(2015, Curbside Splendor) Mr. Krakow's deep dives into eccentric and obscure (and not so obscure) Chicagoland musicians in jazz, rock, blues, pop, gospel, country garage, psyche, punk, new wave, experimental,  metal and genres unknown is a joy to behold. A few of this cartoon portrait-meets crate digging detective biographical portrait entries are too short (this collection is arranged alphabetically so some some early strips from before he got his groove right turn up in the middle) and sometimes the text is a little cramped, but every one of these is illustrated with a striking figure somewhat reminiscent of R. Crumb's blues portraits, but with  a little more drama and whimsy. I wish the book was published way bigger to spotlight the art and give the hand-lettered biographies room to breath, but there is something solid and almost hymnal-like to this physical book that makes it feel important and holy. And it is.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Honey Ltd. "The Comlete LHI Recordings

(Light In The Attic/Burger, 2013)  You can't know everything, and I have no shame admitting had never heard a peep about these lovely Lee Hazlewood labelmates, who came out of Detroit in the late 60s and had one remarkable, ultra rare LP  (featured here plus some unreleased tracks). Being a few rock n roll rotations past the era of cookie cutter girl groups this is an act that fell halfway between the Ronettes and Fanny, with lush production celebrating their gorgeous voices but some rocking radical takes. The anti-Viet Nam "Warrior" starts out a little too pretty, which makes the heavy and soulful chorus stand out (and makes the killing and dying themes more striking). Obviously the Wrecking Crew tracks are tight AF, but there's still a couple of loose swings, including a slinky, seaworthy "Louie Louie." These women could SING and "I've Got Your Man" and "Come On Down" are welcome workouts. As Light In The Attic is known for, the vinyl comes packaged with such deluxe extras that I can't recommend it highly enough, but...

Artifact wise, I just really want to gush over the cassette version. Yes, the sound is worse, but I can fantasize about this group getting the airplay they deserved and listening to this on a shitty transistor radio, and sure the voluminous liner notes (with interviews with the whole band) are absent, but that lets me fantasize (of the actual reality) of this being an intriguing mystery group -- just seeing the gorgeous, glamorous photo in an iffy color xerox begs so many tantalizing questions. And this is packaged in a compact, light cardboard box that open on the side like James Bond offering a smoke to a sexy spy from a cigarette case. I love how this looks and feels so much, right down to it being hand numbered in my grandma's handwriting! 

Honey, Do!

Aspic Tines "Enchante MAdame A.I."

(Johann's Face, 2016) On their return from space this alien from Planet Nomi continues on his out of this world rubberband lazer ride. While no song on this EP reaches the heights of his 2009 intergalactic hit "Music of the Spheres," this release demonstrates more cogent space mythology than Klaus Nomi was able to bring to earth. Also, despite not possessing his hero's operatic chops (even if his bizarre futuristic teutonic rolling "r's" game is tight) AT demonstrates a more cogent space mythology than his late predecessor, and in this galaxy that still counts for something.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Kim Fowley "Live at Burger Records November 24, 2013 "

(Burger, 2016) A wonderfully strange recording of a weirdo legend improvising songs with accompanists (the guitarist Burger thought would be game for the inanity, plus random people from the crowd that Fowley borderline forces to play) for about a total of three minutes (or 2 1/8 songs), and then just gloriously rambling about his rock n roll philosophies, his lengthy history, his admiration of PJ Proby, his health, society's health, and all else under the fluorescent lights, with fascinating mundanity as dull magnificence. While there must be other memorable moments on the album what made the biggest impression on me was a  sad, brief passage where Fowley has a teenage would be rock god shit the bed during a semi-consensual America's Got Talent audition. I sure hope that young man is Post Malone or Thomas Rhett or in 100 Gecs today. 

Elisa Lovelle & the Device "Undertow"

(, 2013) The band (to my damaged brain) instantly evoked Lushsus Daim and the Pretty Vain, and I was not totally off, as like L.D.'s nothing-special 80s R&B, this lowkey bar rock is not particularly groundbreaking. But Elisa's strives towards being the perfect bar rock chick, balancing the belting it out with the pretty melodic tunes. And like Ms. Daim, I'm certain she is More Than I Can Handle.

Rudy Ray Moore "The Streaker"

(Kent, 1976-ish) While many would be attracted (or repelled) to this album because of its photospread on the front and back covers of Rudy "streaking" (an activity that seems to involve nude backyard calisthenics) it is the naked creativity on the grooves that should draw you in. While this album oddly has two guest artists (Lady Reed delivering a substantial Man-ifesto on her philosophy concerning the weaker gender, and oddly, someone named Linda Broadcloth being given the last minute of the LP to tell a single dirty joke (punchline [spoiler alert]: "Yeah baby, you look into that tree you'll shit") it also delivers exactly what Rudy fans want, including a sequel to his immortal "Shine on the Titanic" toast. But what makes this record stand out are two weirdo sound experiments on side 1. "On "Sighs of Love," a rare studio track, Dolemite takes us into the the amorphous dream realm of a sleepy, ecstatic orgasm using echo-drenched electronic sound techniques, making this the most gloriously nasty psychedelic record of the Seventies. But more exciting is "Leprochon," where Rudy plays the dozens responding to the semi-decipherable insults of a Chipmunk-voiced leprechaun. What makes this even weirder is that it certainly seems to be a legit live recording, so Rudy likely had to stick to a precisely timed script to keep up with the pre-recorded speed-altered patter of his green nemesis. Did he perform with a puppet, or a midget, or his own Senor Wences-painted hand? I have not found a photo or description, so I have no idea, but man do I wish we had asked him about this in our interview years back.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Jimbo Easter "rum rubbish" EP

(Terror Trash, 2016) Some of the songs they played on Dr. Demento were genuinely scary. Like, terrifying.

Platinum Boys "Raw Romance"

(Dusty Medical Records, 2019) The Sweet might have been sweet, but these sweets not only glam it Sweet-ly, but also cause tooth decay, gum disease, and sound like a rotten mouth smells!

Betty Paginated, Boobs 'N' Blood

( ) Dann loves trashy cinema and porn with shameless, earnest affection, yet will also tell you in a second if his favorite actress has starred in a dud. His special tribute issue to Australian exploitation films celebrates his homeland while also admitting that a lot of the trash belongs in the bin.  He is also game for new things, which he approaches with unjaded eyes. One of the best things I ever read from him was his discovery of, and experiences with the work of, conceptual performance artist Marina Abramovic. Honest and shameless is all you can ask from someone alongside naked pics. And anyone who loves Vanessa Del Rio that much is a King in my book.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Rudy Ray Moore (as "The Prince") "The Sensuous Black Man"

(Kent, 1972) This is one of the most interesting, and certainly the most focussed, LP in the bawdy comic's lengthy discography. While Moore's name does not appear on the album cover as an artist (though The Prince, Black Prince, and Captain Midnight are all listed, and "R.R. Moore" appears in small print as the producer), on the record he is all Rudy Ray. He is bold, crude, fearless, somewhat artless, funny, and loud. But this is not a comedy album, and while graphic it is also not pornography. It is an exercise is pride (boasting about his exploits, but more significantly, positing that the Black Man is a physical, sensual marvel) and education. The A side is Moore giving sex advice, including actual play by plays of what he considers ideal sessions, but done essentially for the same results Dr. Ruth strived for years later. He is presenting frank talk about stimulation, oral sex, masturbation, and sexual positions to make sure his kinsmen reach their mighty potential. Side two is a questions and answers talkback, and though Rudy sets it up with some toast/joke material, and it ends with a sexy voiced ringer asking a fake question for Rudy to bring home with a punchline boast, most of it seems to be a lively small crowd asking genuine questions and Rudy giving his best answers (with middle-aged women in the peanut gallery chiming in with cutting commentary). This includes a lengthy exchange with a young man suffering from premature ejaculation (though Moore makes it clear that labeling it with such a scientific sounding name is a white approach as opposed to his street-level language). Frank sexual talk is often a little uncomfortable to hear, and for non-Black listeners there is an extra level of unease. I recall at some point in the late 80s, I believe, the mostly white DJs at the South Side radio station WHPK  began playing this (or perhaps its sister companion album) late at night and it became a tremendous issue with with the mostly Black community audience. Certainly the dirty words were a thing, but I got the impression that a bigger objection was to the idea of something that belonged to them and was, in a way, private being shared (and seemingly mocked) by the Other. However, The Prince's offering here is a remarkable record and experiencing it (in the privacy of your home, not on the airwaves) is worth a little discomfort.

Timmy Vulgar "S/T"

(Terror Trash, 2014) I have seen and dug the Timmy's Organism band and the method to the madness is apparent and the raw cacophony has an almost sophisticated artistry. But if you told me this lo fi one sided 45 was by a true chemically challenged hard-to-track-down-for-field recordings borderline danger-to-himself-and-others outsider artist I would have believed you. And then been impressed with the elusiveness of the method to the madness and the unexpectedness that the raw cacophony has an almost sophisticated artistry. So not that big a diff. But this mess is amazing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Donnie Shafer "Banjo Riot" b/w "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

(TAD, 1973 or '74) Boy is this record good! Really just a furious bluegrass breakdown-get down 45, so not crazy different than any other great entry in the genre, but the A-side is a pretty pleasant composition for a boy barely Bar Mitzvah age (though as the sticker indicates, as conveyed by whomever was still trying to get airplay for this three years later as the Star Wars-era approached, he is "16 NOW" [possibly the stickers were put on by a DJ who was still spinning this, not a record plugger]).  Could not find out anything about him, and this single does not appear on Discogs (though a previous one by him does). He is not the son of Whitey "All My Exes Live In Texas" Shafer according to obits, and I can't find a 60 year old Donnie giving Youtube banjo tutorials. But this sure is a hoot!

Phylums "Decisions" b/w "Vexed"

(Dusty Medical Records, 2015) This sounds like porno would feel if everyone involved was happy and not miserable.

Aaron + the Burrs "Release the Bats" b/w "Oh No, More Bats"

(UT, 2014) Like I always say, NTMSF!*

* (Never Too Many Surf Bats)**

** This is produced, magnificently I might add, by Geza X, his best record since Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" reached #2 Pop, or maybe since "Lexicon Devil" convinced scores of people to burn themselves with cigarettes.***

*** This is also the first instrumental record in history with a lyrics sheet!****

**** This came out months before Hamilton, so I believe they have a solid lawsuit!*****

***** I am not an attorney

Nihilist Cunt "Everything Falls Apart" EP

(2014, Suburban White Trash) If the name is not enough to convince you (one way or the other) there's nothing else I can add.

The Artist Formally Known As Vince "Chaperone" b/w "Hold Tight"

(2014, no label) Listening to this bowery punk party platter turned me into The Reviewer Currently Known as Con-VINCE-d.

Sharks from Mars "Friday Night" EP

(2013, no label) Sexy kegstand chug rock that greased my axles.

Junius Paul "ISM"

(2019, International Anthem) This record is too good to describe. Just listen to this over and over and over, please.

Verboten EP

(2020, no label) Although I am the right age to have had the Verbten demo in 1983 I was not really into local punk and hardcore so much, though I was super-impressed that one kid in my school had an actual record out (Jay from Rights of the Accused). I have long been aware of Jason Narducy's Chicago punk lineage, but the semi-official next phase of this band (Verbow) was not my cup of tea, so I have not listened to this stuff prior to this year. Which was a mistake. This is a pure fucking joy! This fancy, overpriced (I felt stupid buying it at LP price until I heard it) 7" was released because a musical based on Jason's teenage band experience was being staged in Chicago. I heard mixed reviews from various Chicago punk lifers who had seen it, and the fact that they did not use any of these songs was one of their biggest gripes. I had tickets on the night they cancelled the world for Coronavirus, so I did not get a chance to judge it myself, unfortunately. But as far as these songs, bottom line is that even as a pre-pubescent Jason was a solid songwriter and had poppy, hooky tendencies that transcended any self-imposed limitations DIY punk often suffers from, and the fact that the band was little children makes the music more ridiculous and wonderful than could be expected. This includes a live track from Cubby Bear including stage banter that makes the Squeaky Voiced Teen from The Simpsons sound like Barry White, plus tons of great photos. For a special treat see the bands on local kids show Kidding Around. Fun fact: I tried to get on the show with some Metal kids in my neighborhood to sing the "Heavy Metal" movie theme song, and was rejected.

Speed Guru vs Plastic Crimewave book and comic set

(2013, Prophase) Plastic Crimewave has improved his portraiture, design,  and drawing markedly over the years of doing his Secret History comics, but because his narrative(ish) comics were frequently psychedelic non-linear underground comix tributes he has proven himself more as an illustrator than a comics maker. But this high concept (as in, you had to be high for a long time to fully execute this concept) project proves his merits as a member of the Kirby-tribe. Recreating a 1970s Power Record (the lavish comic book and read-along 45-single sets put out by the usually chintzy children's record label Peter Pan) this houses a psyche freakout EP by Plastic Criwewave, Speed Guru (of Acid Mother's Temple) and co-conspirators from the AMT/Mainliner/Moonrises camps.  The full length comic (complete with 70s-style ads for actual labels and record stores) features a tribute to Ditko's Dr. Strange (with Neal Adams' Batman thrown in) in which cartoonist PCW, afflicted with damaged hands and desperate for a cure beyond science's capabilities, travels to a treacherous mountaintop to meet an ancient guru (played by Japanese psyche-godfather Asahito Nanjo) who trains him in mystic rock arts, earning him the ire of fellow trainee Speed Guru. What follows is are competing inter-dimensional rock band tours leading to an ultimate conflict...or is it the ultimate conflict? Unlike Power's original records, there are no beeps or literal readings of the text (with  a couple of dramatic exceptions) but some Senseis might offer that in a true psychedelic cacophony all words and beeps can be heard if you listen with your third ear.

Fire Exit ""Timewall" b/w "Talkin' About Myself"

(Last Laugh 2013 [originally Timebomb, 1979]) Reissue of a record with songs you may know from Killed By Death/Bloodstains compilation canonization, and may know because this Scottish band is still around, making them cockroach-like punk rock survivors. But I didn't know that this was all they put out in the entire 20th Century, though demos and other scraps appear on recent compilations. If you only release four minutes of music in the first 25 years of your existence it better be good and this sure the fuck is. These great Scotts make concise, scrappy, joyful yet angry, dystopian, street punk, with one almost Prog-gish guitar excursion somehow squeezed in. That a dude names himself Gerry Attrick in the 70s and then rocked for forty more years and counting is the greatest punk rock punchline of all time.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Question Mark and the Mysterians "The Luv Tracks"

(Night Train, 2018) The Prince of wearing Orange instead of Purple returns with a reissue of a reissue (amazing early 70s borderline sweet soul/smooth funk tracks on the Luv label which were reissued with an unreleased track by Norton years ago, then re-released as an overpriced Record Store Day release still touting the previously released unreleased track as still unreleased). But regardless of me paying too much (and the picture sleeve seemingly designed by a high school student new to Photoshop, featuring a great photo of 90s Question Mark, decades older than these recordings [yet somehow ageless]) I would pay it again, because you can't get too much Q!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Crazy Rider "Rock N Roll" b/w "High School Rock 'n Roll"

(Crazy Rider Records, 1981/Columbia 1982) I got these two singles in China and did not know they were the same group initially (even though the same songs is on both 45s, but I assumed every 70s/80s Japanese 50s leather band had a tune called "Rock N Roll"...Carol is the only onne of this type group I knew previously and they had a song called "Good Old Rock N Roll"). So for the Columbia single where the band's name is in Japanese I searched online for ten minutes for clues, found footage of the reformed band playing a classic car show in 2014, but even that had the band name on Zjamapanese characters, and on Discogs this record does not exist, BUT, I found the same tracks on a record from the previous year on a different label, so I learned the band name was Crazy Rider. Then I saw on the other record that their name in English (and the label name, which was the band's name, was also in English). But in my defense, there are beards and mustaches on the 1980 (according to Discogs, though it says 1981 on my copy) record, and by '82 (or '81 if Discogs is right about that alternate release) they had successfully transitioned from facial hair Sha Na Na greaser 50s rock to clean shaven Stray Cats 50s greaser rock. However, musically (though OK and bouncy and raw-ish), they are sub-Sha Na Na (Happy Days-theme song level sub-Sha Na Na), with no traces of punk influence at all. Carol was in 1972 and was more savage than this (which is why Guitar Wolf [who had multiple songs with 'Rock N Roll' in the title on "Missle Me"] cite Carol more than Crazy Rider. Still, this was worth the Yen. And the adventure of finding out who they were. And the minutes of my life watching this that I will GLADLY never get back.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sick Thoughts "Need No One" EP

(Can't Stand Ya!, 2013) Lo Fi assault and a-pepper...and in spicy and tasty. And hot. So maybe red pepper. And dulls your tongue after a while. Not maybe cocaine, as well.

Hello Kitty on Ice "Man With A Hole In His Throat" b/w "The ANswer"

(Burger, 1984/2016) So wild that my inner child smiled (he is a masochist and this record beat the shot out of him, thus the smiling).

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tutu and the Pirates "Trail of the Great White Beaver"

(2013) This both legendary and obscure 70s punk band released a new album in the 21st century with a new sense of maturity,  as this is an album so refined, sophisticated, and cerebral that they pasted a dense bush of pubic hair to the cover (a scathing critique of Warhol's most notorious graphic design project, clearly). Also they think goofing about pussies, gay bars, and jacking off is fucking funny. And if you are dumb enough, and I mean gloriously, intentionally, brilliantly dumb, it is pretty funny. I suspect some of these songs were written back in their heyday, as there are two tunes about the disco craze (one including a premise involving a would be mass shooter, which even they may not have written in this era, and one a Bee Gees parody), but who cares how moldy these oldies are, they are as hysterical as they are historical. If punk had stayed this ridiculous we all would be better off, Danzig would be a lot be happier, and every album would have pubes!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

'O' Level "Pseudo Punk"

(1977/1992/2014, Munster) These rare sometimes satirical late seventies tracks were made by a band that was not so much UK post punk as they were side punk, as if they were standing next to the other bands and goofing on them, with humor that runs from dry wit to hints of Monty Python. Ed Ball (Television Personalities) had a ball here with his mates, and now you can too!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Bloodstains Across Buffalo

(2014, Extra Evidence) I have known a number of genuinely demented "creatives" with Buffalo juice in their bloodstream, so I'm not surprised this '78-'82 punk/new wave/power pop/garage/trashrock comp is a magnificent mess. The Jumpers' "This is It" concussed me! Micky Mapp With Intro-Verse's "Please Police Me" is Happy Days-era rockabilly played by cartoon frogs! I tried to clean my stylus the first three times I played the Fems' Modern Lovers*-meets-a garbage disposal masterpiece "Go to a Party" (until I read the liner notes explaining that this was "mixed by baboons"). I actually dig the off key entries here, including the harsh "F.Y.Y.B" by New Toys which would make the Mentors request the guys tone it down a little, and Parousia's "Miss Ogyny," which apparently is a faux-new wave synth track by a Jethro Tull-ish prog band. "Go Go Go" by Electro-Man sounds like Weird Al trying to go straight, and failing. The Vores' "Love Canal" sounds like that fake hard rock song on the Cheech and Chong album. In addition to exquisite curatorship (assuming this isn't actually every punk single released in Buff-town pre-Thriller) I am most impressed with the liner note writer's harsh-assed critiques and outright dismissals of shitty b-sides, other bands in the scene, and the entire output of Electro-Man other than the one glimmer of greatness included here (explore the catalogue "only if you like rap rock songs about Kraft macaroni and cheese"). Before listening to this Buffalo, to me, was synonymous with losing four consecutive Super Bowls. But this comp proves that town had the goods to lose four consecutive Super Bowls of punk!
* based mainly on them saying "asshole" in as nerdy a cool guy voice imaginable, a la "Pablo Picasso."