FALL: The Real New Fall LP CD (NARNACK)
thing about Mark E. Smith and whoever he's got playing with
him as The Fall: they don't make bad records. Sure, they've
made a lot of records that aren't especially great, but they're
always at least pretty good. Those who want to detract can
always say that the band has gotten weaker, and they'll be
right, and those who want to give props can say that they're
still more rockin' than most, and they'll be right too. All
the while The Fall keeps chugging along regardless, and say
what you will about the changes in overall sound and relative
commitment, the Marquis never loses his incorrigible style.
For example, this (real) new LP is quite good. After two listens
I'm not yet sure if any true Fall classics are going to emerge,
but killer hooks do abound, all set within an interesting
'electronic rock of the very near future' production aesthetic.
Sterile CD (NIHILIST)
once coined the term "sour electronics" to describe
Panicsville. You know, as opposed to "power electronics,"
which I think is pretty funny, and accurate too. It reminds
me how like 5 years ago Mark Wolberg (not the rapper-turned-actor,
some dude from Nebraska) described the sound of U.S. Maple
as "sour." Panicsville and U.S. Maple are both from
Chicago, and indeed they share something subdued, methodical,
grim, and sour about the way they make music & noise,
which could well be influenced by the attitude with which
a lot of people walk around in this city, especially during
the fifth month of each winter. And, both usually offer concepts
and themes with their albums, however elusive. Panicsville's
Sterile seems to be about hospital perversion and/or
the final feverish visions of a person dying in a hospital
bed. The album starts with 12 solid minutes of total silence,
which I guess could represent death. Then track two "Flatline"
begins suddenly with a full-on swirl of definitive Panicsvillation
(queasy electronic almost-melody winds along while animalistic
guttural voice sounds grind over the top, soon joined by a
sample from a kitsch record, properly looped for maximum retardation)
which stops suddenly after a couple minutes for some radio
theater set inside a creepy hospital. And the queasy fever
dreams continue, a highlight being the 9-minute track "Mastery
Of All That Is Unknown." Always doing their best with
the packaging, Nihilist seems even more inspired than usual
by the medical theme; there's the very memorable full-color
hypodermic injection photo on the cover, and the jewel case
comes inside a swank white vinyl pouch (not pictured). On
top of that, the CD comes with a music video that you can
play on your computer. It's by another Chicago resident named
Usama Alshaibi, who's
been getting some press around here because not only is his
shit is good, it's pretty
kinky as well. His film on here intersperses brief warped-MTV
shots of Panicsville playing live in full sick regalia with
a lot of other weird shit going on that gives me legit Ken
Anger Pleasure Dome/Demon Brother vibes! AND, on
top of Sterile, Panicsville has simultaneously released
another CD called Perverse (Liquid
Death/Hello Pussy), also with a film by Alshaibi! Review
coming soon . . . . ?
Perverse CD (LIQUID DEATH/HELLO
told ya review coming soon, and dammit I meant it! So, I was
just mentioning that this Perverse CD also came with
a film, and it's listed as track one of the CD, "Convulsion
Expulsion." Again, it's directed by Usama Alshaibi, and
it stars his wife Kristie Alshaibi, with music by Andy "the
guy, oops I mean the dude, who is Panicsville" Ortmann,
and, most significantly, make-up by Camilla Ha. I'm not going
to say a word about it except that it depicts exactly what
the title describes with intense Alshaibi style. The rest
of the album is less of a concept thing like Sterile,
more a mix of Panicsville styles, focused subgenre-hopping
according to the input of an array of guests. Track 3 "Strange
Connection" has M.V. Carbon of Metalux singing helium
spook vox -- I also saw them do this live at a show and it
was cool, but I think it was a different song. Track 5 "Concentration
Campaign" has Thymme Jones of Cheer-Accident on drums
and he progs out while Kevin Drumm plays grind guitar. Perhaps
the first ever Panicsville track with a rock backbeat. And
then track 9 "Lent An Ear" has Jeremy Fisher and
John Coker on electronics and wow, it's perhaps the best Panicsville
track ever, a 14 minute epic of harsh slow psycho ambience
that actually imparts 'an understanding of Xenakis'. And then
the album ends with track 10 "The Valley Of Eternal Chaos,"
which sounds like he's been listening to American Tapes because
it's slow-psycho-electro-rumble-yowl-grind that's as good
as American Tapes #369 or whatever they're up to now.
It does shrill up out of the AT cellar into a warped high-scree
electro-wonderland that's pure P-ville but by then it's almost
over -- as is the album. Another fine work by someone who
always takes care when putting out releases. I'd especially
recommend this one to people looking for somewhere to start
with Panicsville -- the music is excellent and varied, and
the opening film will weed out any posers!
DOES CDR (NOKAHOMA/HAND-EYE)
a band with some promise -- very fuzzy and heavy Melvins-y
dirge rock but with a sweet-and-calm sounding female singer
for effective contrast. I wanna say Swans-ish but I've literally
only heard about 4 minutes of Swans music in my life -- isn't
that weird? It does have goth-rock overtones, even some college
goth-rock overtones, which do weaken the foundation of the
heaviness a little bit. I can't say The Does have exactly
hit it with this 5-song EP -- all the ingredients are excellent,
but I feel they've still got room to get more killing with
the finished product. For example, first song is raw and heavy,
but also kinda college-rocky. But then a super slow and heavy
cover of "Stray Cat Blues" is really just pretty
kick-ass, and throughout the EP whenever the sassy vocals
(by one Carol Anne) ease over the top of the low-end dirge
I always think, "Man, good thing she didn't just join
another upbeat dance-punk band." I'll keep tabs on 'em
and the live show might be worth your while. They're from
Canada! Silk-screened cloth cover with skulls on it is excellent.
McCALL: Shootout In The Sugar Factory CD (MELODY
first heard of this guy 2-3 years ago when Badaboom Gramophone
published something like 20,000 words about how great his
debut CD was by noted rock author and sometime Blastitude
contributor Joe S. Harrington. In that piece Uncle Joe seemed
pretty excited by McCall's Springsteen-like qualities, and
while I actually like about 10% of Springsteen's shit just
fine ("I'm On Fire" is particularly a stone killer),
it is my sworn duty to treat any favorable comparison to The
Boss with suspicion. I am not, however, getting too much Springsteen
from this record. McCall is also from Jersey, and he also
writes somewhat journalistic and documentarian but mostly
romantic and melodramatic lyrics about his regional milieu,
but it's a markedly different part of Jersey, both on the
map and in the sound -- Shootout In The Sugar Factory
is a totally un-Boss record of anthemic hard-driving
synth-pop. In Harrington's second Strokes column for this
mag, he mentioned McCall in the same breath as 80s revivalists
The Faint and the Postal Service, and I'm surprised how right-on
that actually is. This CD is filled with goofy synth-rock
arena hooks played with total conviction and appropriate bombast.
It's a strangely egregious pop vibe that actually makes me
think of 80s Top 40 bands like ABC, Spandau Ballet, and even
Naked "Always Something There To Remind Me" Eyes.
A couple of the more cooled-out tracks remind me of Chicago's
Aluminum Group and their suave electro Bacharach style, but
the more upbeat stuff actually does rock out in an E Street
Band kind of way, with guitar, bass, drums, saxophones, and
McCall's tight electric piano coming to the fore. His singing
ain't bad either. I don't know, it's a strange album -- I
guess the main sticking point for me is that it IS pretty
melodramatic. The good news is that it's not ironic at all,
and I have no idea when I last heard non-ironic melodrama.
Lots of interesting stuff on his
CD (NO LABEL)
vulvic cover art demands attention, as does the constantly
hyper and loud weird rock within. Lessee, how about Dick Dale
surf-rock meets John Zorn game-pieces meets . . . hmm, maybe
low-endy Jesus Lizard scuzz-grind and Keyboard Arena Metal??
File under post-Naked City, anyway -- info-panic genre-skipping
rock with lots of notes played very precisely. Props to Statutaur
for being a well-practiced band, but despite all the punches,
I can't say it's knockin' me out -- I prefer the guitarist's
other gig: lo-fi electronic anthem-pop as Zeehas; 12 Wait.
Waiting For Armadillo CD (LOAD)
a sucker for those heavy-reverb white-girl-in-the-city dub-rock
noise vocals. (See Verbalala on the Space is No Place
Vol. 2 compilation, reviewed this ish.) It almost seems
like Metalux invented 'em, right here in Chicago, back in
like 1998 or something, and they lay 'em over definitive queasy
post-Ann Arbor wrong-wired electronic loop-noise. "Splinter
And Shimmer" sounds like the Top 40 single, with garbage
rock guitar and quease-noise supporting a vocal melody and
performance that could come straight from some Kim Wilde song
on the film soundtrack of a made-for-cable John Hughes knockoff.
And even more impressive vocals can be found on the late-album
"Rode West," operatic like a laid-back Diamanda
G over simple drum-machine and backwards gtr. Lovely spooky
once-suburban city girls singing over harsh Heldon jams? With
excellent guitar playing. (Mostly by J.
Gräf......she gets a pretty phat Iommioid tone.....)
Here they are live in that movie Barbarella....
+ HAPPY MOTHERS DAY I CAN'T READ CD (FREEDOM
From, back on the case! Here's two bands from Minneapolis
that I believe are Freedom From discoveries. Ova! start off
the disc with eight tracks of straight-up power-duo brutal-prog.
Yep, Lightning Bolt, the Luttenbachers, a little Pink + Brown
(but not as bluesy), Hella (but crazily distorted) . . . .
I mean, this sound has gotten quite familiar since 2000 or
so, right? Familiar, but Ova! are extremely good at it, able
to make complex moves in many many bounds, and once or twice
for a few seconds they even open up the throttle and really
let it cruise down the open highway before zapping back to
the congested city center for the much more common displays
of stop-and-start U-turns and Y-turns and Z-turns.
Happy Mothers Day I Can't Read
start at track 9 in solo noise electronics mode. Good stuff!
Really, you either like this stuff or you don't. There's no
in between, it just is what it is, flat-out and naked and
obnoxiously weird, hence I really don't have anything to add
for their entire portion of the split, except that it reminds
me of Nautical Almanac's recent catastrophe on the Load label.
And, if I'm reading it right, there's another group on here
called Awesome! (As with Ova!, the exclamation point is theirs.)
They contribute tracks 16-20. Jay
Hinman blogged that this would most likely be Ova! and
Happy Mothers Day I Can't Read collaborating on a few totally
unscripted closing jams. For some reason I didn't think of
that, but of course that's what it is. Frothing nuts noise-prov,
pretty fun actually. A Mick Barr influence is detected from
the guitarist, who seems to be the one hardy soul trying to
root the chaos down via the technique of high-speed motif
and variance repetition. Oh, and it's a very nice-looking
disc with some weird full-color cover art.
OVA!: From the photo sessions for their second album, King of
MAE SHI: Terrorbird CD (5 RUE
Mae SHIT is more like it -- just kidding! No wait, come back!
I haven't even listened to it yet, I was just kidding. I couldn't
resist making that joke, because it's a rock criticism sub-tradition,
you know, to use the word "shit" to write dismissive
one-phrase reviews of albums. Some examples would be the fictional
but masterful two-word review of Spinal Tap's Shark Sandwich
album, "Shit sandwich," and, my favorite of all
time, and non-fictional: Musician magazine's review
of the self-titled album by supergroup GTR, the entire text
of which read: "SHT." Okay, now that I've explained
that, let's start the review again, for real this time . .
From Los Angeles, California,
the Mae Shi have released a debut album of totally panicky
crazy rock. Nonstop yelping, screaming, humming, humping,
stopping, starting, quoting, referencing, partying, puking,
crashing, banging, chilling out, getting it going again, and
rarely doing any of those things for more than 3 seconds at
a time, and usually more like 1 second. Sometimes they sound
like early Boredoms, sometimes early Grand Funk Railroad on
78 RPM, sometimes like The Locust unplugged, sometimes like
white hip-hop, sometimes like Tears For Fears, sometimes like
etc. Call it . . . . . screamo panic gospel! NOW! They're
actually pretty fuckin' good, and they've got a great party
attitude, and they might just have the most seamless and schtickless
incorporation of the whole "black influence" in
the history of indie rock -- but I really don't think this
is my kind of album. The whole fast-cut screamo thing . .
. . it's just not something I really listen to. But if you
do, by all means, don't miss these guys -- I'm sure they're
really crazy live, too.
Hell Tonight! CD (GULCHER)
I was happy just to get this CD in the mail and find out that
a band called Thundertrain existed, and to own copies of the
live-action photographs that are on the front and back cover.
I mean, look at that hair! And on the back cover, the band
is pictured playing a gig in front of an industrial fence
that guards a suburban parking lot that appears to be empty,
a photo that shows both the glorious highs and lonely lows
of the Rock Life as well as any 'sad backstage at the mega-venue'
junkie chic portrait by the average wealthy freelancer ever
As for the music
on the disc, it's a single live show at a bar, recorded in
1979 at a biker hangout in Peabody, MA called the Summit Club,
to be broadcast a week later on a show called WCOZ Playback,
hosted by Leslie Palmiter, who can be heard on tape giving
the band a warm introduction, complete with show-biz drum-hits.
And then the music begins, and . . . . . . . . hmm. Well,
to describe it, I'll start by quoting a co-worker of mine
from just last week. He had asked me if I had any Saxon, so
I brought in Wheels of Steel. He was digging it,
but when upbeat anthem-ballad "Suzy Hold On" hit
during side two, he remarked, with some disdain, "Man,
these guys were pretty hair." By which he meant "hair
metal," even though the Saxon album was released in 1980
and the term "hair metal" didn't really get used
en masse until at least, I don't know, 1986?
This Thundertrain album
was recorded in January 1979, and it is definitely pretty
hair. At least twice as hair as Saxon. And I don't just mean
in look, but also in sound -- this party-time bar rock sounds
a LOT like Poison and Bon Jovi. What makes it different is
a flaming wild trippy lead-solo axe attack by Steven Silva,
actually comparable to the amazing axework Ross "The
Boss" laid down with the Dictators just a few years earlier.
Ah, but that's just one lead guitar, and the only other thing
that might save it from the heap, besides the hair, is that
hey, this is just some band called Thundertrain playing one
single rowdy show in the dead of Peabody, Massachusets winter,
January 1979. The crowd is there to have a good time, and
their cheers and the between-song banter from lead vocalist
Mach Bell is just as important as the music. Bell's breakdown
rap during "I Gotta Rock" -- even if it does remind
me of the ever-atrocious REO Speedwagon's "151 Riverside
Avenue" -- is as notable of a "Disco Sucks"
time capsule as any 10-second clip of the Chicago Disco Demolition
(also 1979) you're gonna see on some VH1 special anytime soon.
And, I thought that when the liner notes mentioned the Germs
it was just some exaggerated press-blurb type stuff to get
the new nihilists in on what is actually straight hair bar
metal, but that was only until I heard Bell's needing-a-beer
rap before "Forever & Ever"........
Fukuzkz CDR (8088 RECORDS)
mysterious CDR from St. Louis, MO, wrapped in tinfoil. Maybe
also a 10-inch, or a projected 10-inch. Could this be the
next Screamin' Mee-Mees? Or Dazzling Killmen? Or Panicsville?
I don't know, I haven't heard it yet, but he's already scoring
plenty of points on song-titles, all of them hand-written
with a magic marker on a piece of notebook paper: "No
Wave is total butt-wave," "NOW-WAVE '00," "Brutal
Prog: 2000's brittle pig," "Total No-Wave song titles
#1-6," "Early no wave movement in new york wave,"
"Brutal NO WAVE CD (CD)," "WOW-WAVE meets Glow
Wave 2," "band ending in tron-a-thon," "Prog-Wave,"
"1940-70's New Wave Metal" -- that's less than half
of 'em. As for the music, it's kind of a trip -- out-of-hand
prog-tastic drum soloing (well, it's sort of got beats, or
at least, it's definitely got FORWARD MOMENTUM) while noise
freaks out o'er the top. And, there's 22 tracks that all kind
of sound exactly the same, in a good way -- the result isn't
tedium and monotony but, once again, FORWARD MOMENTUM. So
to answer my initial St. Louis questions, it's kind of like
Dazzling Killmen jump-cuts mixed with Panicsville free-form
electronics. And, it turns out Blango is a one-man band who
plays drums and makes all the 'music' on top with his voice
run through "thousands of FX pedals." The result
is a wild singing drummer making up surprisingly complicated
and powerful heavy prog as he goes.
BLANGO: Maybe he does this for every copy!