Monday, January 18, 2021

Sun City Girls "Live at the Sky Church - September 3, 2004," Derek Monypeny "The Hand As Dealt"

(Twenty One Eighty Two Recording Company, 2020, 2021)   Considering that I have spent the last thirty years obsessing over masked rock n roll it's surprising how little I know about Sun City Girls.  I have two LPs by them (one gloriously titled "Horse Cock Phepnar," and one on Gregg Turkington's Amarillo Records featuring chaotic covers of pop songs). I believe they have in the neighborhood of 100 releases,  and, as with many prolific experimental agents of chaos, it is kind of intimidating trying to figure out where and how to jump in. While many folks I admire have reverence for the band I never quite got a handle on them enough to say I liked, or even vaguely understood, the Sun City Girls. A new series of albums triangulating vectors around the now-defunct (via death, not acrimony) mischief makers on Twenty One Eighty Two Records further confounded me, as these beautiful vinyl artifacts have elegant aesthetics, stunning production values, and understated design elements that don't seem to relate to horse cocks or cacophonous covers of "Brandy." I was even more boggled by the label's latest release, which isn't even in the series: After luxuriating in the sonically gorgeous Monypeny album, a blissful space-via-desert soundscape of peaceful, contemplative stringed instrument psychedelia, I got thrown a bit while spinning the bonus 7" of shahi baaja (an Indian zither with an oud-vibe) Sun City Girls cover songs. I didn't even know they had songs? Well, the label's live LP/DVD from a 2004 performance helped clear things up, while simultaneously making me feel kind of fuzzy and drunk. Watching the video (shot with a single camera from the worm's-eye view lip of the stage) my first revelation came from seeing the Girls literally attack the audience, as their riff on Rod Stewart's goofy practice of kicking soccer balls over the stadium crowd becomes using a golf club and a strong throwing arm to just pummel the attendees with balls. Actually, the first revelation came on the DVD menu, which features one of these monsters of rock checking out Mein Kampf, a preview of the t-shirts, props, and a puppet bandmate that gave shout outsto an All Star lineup of dictators, terrorists, and global menaces. Wearing hideous masks, alternating between walls of audio weirdness and ugly pop music (one Girl shrieking off key Roberta Flack lyrics while another mumbles semi-related grievances), and most sublimely, dancing like monkeys while balancing bananas on their heads, it is clear that Sun City Girls are not art rockers that are pretentiously indulging themselves. These bishops and gooches are 100% there for the listeners/ pelt them with literal and metaphorical balls. It is on the spectator to decide what, if anything, to do with the Sun City Girls' ugly, noisy, offensive, banana balancing balls. So now I truly (sort of, in a way, possibly) understand Sun City Girls. They are a set of ugly balls that want to attack me.

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