#19, JULY 2006



reviews by

Ones – II cassette (Palsy)
I have written about Ones in this publication before, though not in any informative or decisive way. You see, I had never heard their music before in any sort of controlled situation. Now I have and my initial impressions were right, awesome band. This tape is kind of short, like maybe 15 mins on each side, which on one hand makes me feel sort of ripped off (this tape was like 5 dollars or something) but on the other hand is good cause I’m not trying to listen to any long tapes. And in any case it doesn’t really matter as both sides “rule ass”, short and sweet I guess it is. Both pieces fall into the avant clatter genre of overdubbing antics, with the first one being a bit more fancy sounding, as it starts out with some folky guitar and environmental type sounds. Then it sounds like the dude playing the guitar gets too nervous or scared to play right and the other sounds get more prominent and we’re off for a wild safari through the domestic jungle in the Bkln apartment where this was probably recorded. The second side is more straight up chains and banging on pots and pans and gets LOUD, rules. I totally endorse this cassette.
PS. I just found out that one of the members of Ones is in the band Matt Pond P.A., whose picture was in Rolling Stone this past month. Ones is getting famous! Coming for that number “ones” spot!!

Niwesqom Eli Ckuwapok/Penobscot & Passamaquoddy Indian Drum Group – Spirit Of The Dawn/To All My People
I got this at the church rummage sale up the street from my house. It has a pink Xeroxed cover, and I was expecting it to sound bad and new agey. This is ok though, it’s just like typical Native American drum music I guess, some guys chanting and a steady unchanging drum beat. Not that good really, I was hoping there would be more drums and it would sound like Psychedelic Underground by Amon Duul, no jk. But this isn’t that good, don’t go out of your way to get it, like don’t send $12 to the address in the tape booklet like it says. It also says to look for Vol. II, TRADITIONAL SONGS coming out Winter of ’95. Don’t know why this one has so many titles.

Frankenstein And The All Star Monster Band – s/t (Mystery)
My thesis for this review is that this is the weirdest and most retarded record I have ever heard. It is definitely a very multi-faceted album, and thus requires some explanation. From 1984, this record was written, produced, and directed by “Doctor. Dog”, who is in fact Kim Fowley. This is not stated anywhere on the record and the Fowley name appears nowhere in the credits (because of contractual obligations perhaps?) but I’m pretty much absolutely sure its him; the picture of Doctor Dog looks exactly like Kim Fowley and the album’s liner notes (which mention post-Runaways Fowley protégés Venus And The Razorblades), monologues, and singing all bear Fowley’s distinctive stamp.

        So this is Kim Fowley’s Halloween album, a prospect which excited me greatly. I am an enormous fan of both Halloween and Kim Fowley, so this album represented an unexpected combination of two of my favorite things, the like of which had not been seen since 50 Cent made a song that interpolated “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” a couple of years ago. (I realize that this is the second time that I’ve mentioned 50 Cent in Blastitude, which may make me seem like a 50 Cent fanatic. I’m not though, I only like his earlier work for the most part. I guess I just think about him a lot.) The title of this LP suggests a typical kitschy Halloween album, which would be awesome in of itself, but even a cursory scan of the record makes it clear that the listener is in for something more confusing. The cover is made up of six pictures, two rows of three, one of each member of the “All-Star Monster Band”. They are as follows, from left to right: “Jumbo Frog” (dude with werewolf mask and fake werewolf hands playing violin in purple, pink and yellow sweater and red cape), “Doctor Dog” (head shot of Fowley with shiny blue scarf and extremely heavy white pancake makeup), “Larry Lizard” (dude with half devil/half gorilla mask, gorilla hands, and yellow captain’s uniform, holding a guitar), “Video Pig” (dude with partial ugly man mask and vampire teeth, rope around his neck, and normal arms, playing bass), “Dorothy Dinosaur” (little girl in witches hat), and “Empress Of The Underworld” (kind of hot blonde lady in pretty normal clothes, wearing one of those handheld masquerade masks).

        As one listens to the record and reads the liners, it sort of becomes clear that the whole Halloween thing is sort of a cover-up, or maybe metaphor, for the main theme of the record, specifically that of the ugly people of the world and how they are treated as outcasts by society, and also how they find kinship with other ugly people, though like, frankly, I’m sort of just going off the first few songs here, as the whole album is pretty hard to follow. This may make it sound like the album is like sad or solemn, but this is far from the case. Any serious emotions caused by the lyrics (none probably) are offset by retarded monster voices on each song. The voices are straight up “I vant to suck your blood” monster accents, but saying weird Fowley shit like:
        (Doctor Dog): “Where did you ever find all that blue mud?” (monster voice): ”In the classified ads from the canyons of my mind.”
(Doctor Dog): “Are you coming tomorrow to the midnight movie?” (monster voice): “If I’m on the backstage guestlist.”
(Doctor Dog): “Who’s that werewolf over there?” (monster voice): “Jumbo Frog from the fiery garbage can!"
(monster voice): “I the Sea Wolf, captain of the vampire navy, guarantee your safety.”

        The music is generally funny/bad 80s synth rocking, similar kind of to Let’s Dance-era Bowie, and Fowley/Doctor Dog follows suit vocally on a couple of tracks by turning in very Bowie-esque performances. It would be misleading tho, to suggest that all of the record’s tracks follow one uniform style. Each song is pretty distinct, both stylistically and in terms of subject matter. Appropriately, Fowley/Doctor Dog provides individual track descriptions, describing each song’s theme. About the song “What Happens To People Like You”, he says: “A more serious subject than one night (sic) expect from Frankenstein, but quite in line with Doctor Dog’s new approach to the old boy: What makes us what we are? What makes us different from one another?”

        If I tried to describe every funny thing about this album I’d be here (the computer) all day, but I’m gonna go ahead and talk about some of my favorite cuts. I think the most emotionally affecting number is the first one, “Midnight Movies,” on account of it tapping into the same goth loner/loser vibe as “Science Fiction/Double Feature” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Indeed, Fowley references the RHPS in the liner notes for this cut. The next track, “Red Phantoms Of Zombie Island”, is similar, but has a nautical/pirates theme. And “Looking For Work” is a businesslike dustbowl-via-Springsteen rocker about looking for work that is pretty unassuming until:
        (Doctor Dog): “I sold my blood for 15 bucks.” (Dracula voice): “That was much too cheap, I would have paid twice the price.”
And: (Dracula voice): “I just got a job in a day care center, telling ghost stories to shadows on the wall.”

        From Fowley’s notes for this song: “If it’s hard for the average citizen to find a job, imagine what it’s like to be a six foot seven, slightly green skinned and sort of ugly guy like Fankenstein between gigs.”
       The reason that the album’s overall vibe is so weird is that all of these stupid things I’ve described aren’t presented in an intentionally funny or outrageous way; it’s more like Fowley assumes that everything on the album makes sense and expects the listener to understand it and take it seriously, aside from the obvious comic relief bits. So yeah, I sort of feel like I’ve failed to convey how insane this record really is, you really just have to hear it. Again though, the music itself is quite bad, so don’t get like too psyched up for it. I don’t know if it’s rare or whatever, but I can’t imagine any place selling it for a lot of money, too stupid.

Matt Weston – Easthampton 2005 3” (7272 Music)
Barn Owl – My Very First Barn Owl EP 3” (Crank Satori)
I picked up these little guys when I saw the percussionist Matt Weston perform a solo set on the Princeton University campus this past fall. When I first saw him, with a starched white classical-style shirt, some khakis (?), big lips, and sitting at his kit in a position suggesting an invisible metal pole welded to his back, I thought he looked like a real chump and that I was in for some idiot highbrow nonsense. However, as soon as Weston began to play, he ferociously hit every piece of his kit in a cascading manner that suggested thunder(ing) and lightning (fast) equally. A very exciting set, and Weston made good use of all of the many cymbals and surfaces he had brought with him, specifically by hitting them in a way that was somehow methodical but at the same time quite fast and free.
        After the set, I realized that Weston also seemed like a real nice guy when this fucking kid that I hate that looks like Ben Folds (that’s the best thing about him) that was in my music class at college went up to him and was all gushing, and essentially asked Weston to teach him about free jazz. Matt Weston threw out some names, and though the kid had never even heard of Ornette Coleman, Weston took this in stride and was still very amiable and kept talking to him about free jazz I think. I hate this kid, look out for him dying later this year probably.
        The first of these 3”s is Matt Weston solo percussion and electronics, similar to what I saw that night, though perhaps more spare in parts, according to my memory. It’s also live, this time at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA! A lot of these free improv guys, you think they’re just some guy, and then they turn out to be all famous (on the internet it says that Matt Weston has also played with Kevin Drumm, Milford Graves, Bill Dixon, and Jack Wright, and appeared on VH1, though I assume not all at the same time). So yeah, each track is very good; things start out kind of busy with some rolling and thundering toms framed by what sound like chimes and cymbals, and progress into more spatial areas, with some scraping stuff, as the electronics make their appearance on later tracks. I’m not gonna give you like a play by play here, but trust me that this is a quite worthwhile release.
        Barn Owl is a group featuring Weston on the skins again, with two guys I’ve never heard of, Andy Crespo and Chris Cooper, on bass and guitar respectively. The guys present 9 presumably improvised miniatures (they call them songs on the CD) in a style that is a bit more disjointed and “squiggly”, I’ll say, than on Weston’s solo disc, mostly because of the increased instrumental palette and the fact that the songs are short, many under 2 mins, and have choppy sounds. The same skillfulness of improvising is present though, as each instrument takes on a non-traditional but defined role for every piece. The shortness of the tracks combined with the smallness of the CD and the pictures of a rollerskating rabbit and worms with little mittens on the artwork land this one just this side of “cute”, in a good way. Like nothing cute is really bad, as long as it’s seriously cute and you’re not just like making fun of it by calling it that.

Tetuzi Akiyama – Pre-Existence (Locust)
I figure maybe Larry Doleman might review this one too as he seems to be all over the Locust releases, but I’d like to throw in my 2 cents as to what a corker of a solo guitar album this is. I thing the only other thing by T.A. that I have heard is the Don’t Forget To Boogie LP of solo boogie rock guitar and that rules too, so I guess he’s batting 1000, whatever that means, in my field of vision. That record is totally different from this one tho. Pre-Existence is all solo acoustic guitar and maybe 60 percent of the sounds on it sound like Tetuzi falling asleep “at the wheel” and his slide falling down over the strings and making a scraping sound. It is all extremely artfully performed though, and with exquisite attention to spacing and small scale sonic events. There are some more melodic fingerpicking bits, but these sound a member of the Takoma roster trying to play while under the influence of some “downer” (I won’t try to bluff my way through a drug joke here). An entry into Locust’s “Wooden Guitar” series, and more than enough to make up for the only other record I’ve heard in the series, the horrendous Sir Richard Bishop solo guitar album, which was on the radio once and my friend thought it was the soundtrack to Brokeback Mountain.

reviews by

Boris -- Pink (Phalanx)
With all the ruinous volume of Lightning Bolt or Acid Mothers Temple at their disposal, Boris "relaxes" into nerve-piercing volume & makes THE great psych-noise album of the decade. Finally, all the lip-biting melodicism of Pink Floyd melted down the speakers by the unspeakable torrents of distortion, feedback & Japadness. I picture kids, their first year of college, renting unaffordable condo apartments, having their eyeballs daubed with liquid acid & then jumping from their balconies in the middle of winter into drained clubhouse pools. Not sure why.

Walter Wegmuller -- Tarot (Die Kosmischen Kuriere)
Some kind of Krautrock supergroup, I guess, comprised of members of Wallenstein & Ash Ra Tempel, but it's really a formidable art object. It's fun to hold & browse through. If you are aces-high psychotic, there are at least a hundred reasons to murder a starlet or president in the packaging alone & that's before you actually take the CDs out & play them. God forbid you've scored the vinyl. And it looks dangerous. It looks like it could possibly solve all the problems in your life through brazen obscurity, its occult tone, the teutonic elegance of the packaging, and the music inside, which builds from slightly funky porn passages, to completely wigged-out guitar savagery, then retreats back into very, very uncomfortable folk passages that sound like someone broke into the Keebler Elf home on August 8, 1969, eviscerated the bunch of them & left bloody passages from Tolkein on the walls of the hollow tree. Unmistakably pleasurable to own, but I see you out in the backyard tomorrow morning, unloading your army-issue .45 automatic into it, I'll understand completely.

Howe Gelb -- 'Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey)
Finally, after noodling around with his adobe-dry, acid-flake abstracts like a monkey repainting Georgia O'Keefe by the light of a shifty moon, Howe Gelb once again gets down to business. Ex of the brilliant Giant Sand, and the sadly out-of-touch sounding Band of Blacky Ranchette, Gelb rides the gospel train to beulah here. The Hammond B3, the gospel choir (called 'Sno Angels, so the title isn't all his fault), the songs that don't peter out into plunks on the wrecked outdoor piano, or phone calls from his kid...Yep, I think we've got us a real pop album. This is the magical desert hoodoo he's had in him all along & it's bracing as mourning over a Sonoran gravestone at midday & watching a shadow embrace the grave & yerself. And you're scared to turn around, 'cuz you think it might be a brigand, so you stand stock still until the sun goes down & the shadow fades. Then you turn around, and goddamn if it weren't a statue of Jesus all along. Get this, please. Where else you gonna hear gospel mariachi music?

Rusty Warren -- Knockers Up! (Jubilee)
If you wanna hear, I mean, really hear what cocktail glasses sounded like clinking together in 1961 -- and trust me, it's a different aural colour, a whole different sonic palette of cocktail glass clinking than we have in this impoverished age -- then this is the album for you. This album so accurately captured the sounds of cocktail glasses & fat bald men guffawing, that it spawned yet another anthropological foray called More Knockers Up (Houghton-Mifflin Educational Products, 1965). Hopped-up, slurry anthems to big boobs don't hurt the product any, but back then you had to add a little spice to get people to listen to scientific field recordings.

The Chromatics -- Plaster Hounds (Gold Standard)
The sound of five bowery junkies climbing around on your car hood in the dead of winter, trying to squeegee your windshield while, a block or two away, someone is blasting the worst live bootleg ever of The Clash plodding through "Armagideon Time." Lead Chromatic, Adam Miller, is all that's left here from the original Chrome Rats vs. Basement Ruts line-up & adding Get Hustle's percussionist, Ron Avila, to the reformed miasma has given The Chromatics a dubby sprawl that raises them, in my estimation, from queasily fascinating to luridly indispensable, like Suicide, Return of Pipecock Jackxon-era Lee Perry, or early Au Pairs. Ghastly disco phoned in from the other side. Check out "Monarch" for sleepless nights, or their cover of Silver Apples' "Program."

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- House Arrest (Paw Tracks)
"I tell the record company to just get me in a real recording studio," he says. "I'll go into mad-scientist mode, and it will be great. But that hasn't happened. They don't want to give me money, because I might release a shit album, which could definitely happen. I've got my good days and bad days, for sure. But the best rock & roll is all stuff you're not supposed to do. Rock & roll is the history of rules being broken and people taking chances." -- Ariel Pink in LA Weekly. Gary Numan, OMD, '60s Scott Walker & Beach Boys stitched together so the resulting golem barely contains the viscera & post-op seepage. Despite the exultant messiness, Pink is a fine vocalist/mimic & his ADD conceptualism is usually spot-on. This is obviously the music of a genius pothead (and I'm not basing this assumption solely on the song "Gettin' High in the Morning"), and there's not a pop hook of the last 40 years he hasn't stored up in his cells along with all the THC. There are some moments of jaw-dropping pop ecstasy on here & they're actually sharpened by the vat of tape hiss & analog muck they must slog from in order to breathe. Some kind of classic. Jesus, I just heard him graft Frankie Valli onto China Crisis...

Bush Tetras -- Boom in the Night (ROIR)
Kids, this is where Yeah Yeah Yeahs come from (give or take an Au Pair or two). Surprise. Only Pat Place, Cynthia Sley & Laura Kennedy ALL have prettier mouths than Karen O. Dank, choppy New York City creep-funk.

Jacobites -- Robespierre's Velvet Basement (Glass / Secretly Canadian)
Building this new elegant beast from the junkie slide of Johnny Thunders, The Rolling Stones & less abstract pieces by The Soft Boys, Nikki Sudden (RIP), Epic Soundtracks (RIP) & Dave Kusworth seemed a little like foppish dilettantes when this album surfaced in 1985. I'll admit all the scarf-wearing, decadent poet nonsense didn't do much for me in the heady times of Twin/Tone & Homestead rock, but this sounds like a fucking spa to me now, a two-week hiatus in Bangkok's Heng Lak Hung, a step through portals of rock'n'roll innocence I thought closed to me forever. "Fortune of Fame" sends a volley of pinpricks down my spine every damn time I hear that harmonica riff.

American Death Ray -- Welcome to the Strange & Erotic World of the American Death Ray (Sympathy for the Record Industry)
Pleasurably jamming that cocktease link between VU & Nutbush R & B down our throats once more after the demise of sacred rosetta, '68 Comeback, Nicholas Ray (aka Nicky Diablo) churns & shugs & monkeys & shimmies down through the storm drains & up through the manholes, up the fire stairs & down the flop hotel trash chutes til you're dizzy with rock so hip it just has to stay underground.

The Shoes -- Black Vinyl Shoes (Black Vinyl)
When I was searching out precedents for Game Theory, my favorite group of the early to mid-1980s, of course I first came across Big Star, just as everyone else was at the time, but then I discovered the work of this band. The Shoes were br'ers Murphy, Jeff & John, and their friend from the neighborhood, Gary Klebe, and they recorded this on a 4-track in their basement in Zion, Illinois. No matter what the critics tell you, just avoid the other Shoes products, they are puffed with dated, obvious power pop that won't add meat to your spirit. And nobody needs a lean spirit. Power pop is where rock critics go to die. Also, avoid this on CD as a budget double with their sophomore release, Present Tense. Honestly, it has fucking VINYL in the name. This has to be heard on vinyl. Okay, so now that we've run through the warnings, Black Vinyl Shoes is the perfect edgy, raw pop album. It's better than both #1 Record & Radio City by Big Star. The great songs on those albums are better than any song on Black Vinyl Shoes, but there's not a bad cut on BVS, and you can't say that about either of the Big Star records. Argue if you want, but I see your fingers twitching towards the fast-forward when "The India Song" rears its ugly head on #1 Record. The Shoes have the midwestern good sense not to insult you with a sitar or a non-sequitur. It's all lo-fi longing & tract house malaise, buried under tape hiss & outrageously mixed guitar solos, just like Folk Implosion, or Sparklehorse. And every song quickens your heartbeat with a spine-prickling chorus you can't believe crawled out of a basement in Zion, Illinois.