- 7 Inches ; All Ages ; Another Nickel ; Anywhere Else ; Aphid Hair ; Arthur ; Asleep on the Compost Heap ; Bachelor ; BangtheBore ; Beard ; Beyond The Implode (R.I.P.?) ; Birds ; Blues ; Boogie ; Bull ; Dancing ; Darnielle ; DCB ; Destination:Out ; Did Not Chart ; Diskant ; Dreaming ; Dusted ; Egg City ; Fog ; Flux ; Freq ; Garagepunk ; Garage Hangover ; Get Bent ; Gramophone ; Grant ; Gunslinger ; Honey Is Funny ; Hopper ; Jonathan ; KBD ; K-Punk ; Kulkarni ; Last Days (R.I.P.) ; Lexicon Devil ; LPCoverLover ; Mutant Sounds ; Nick Thunk :( ; Norman ; Oddbox ; Peel (John) ; Peel (Richard) ; Plan B (R.I.P) ; PSF ; Quietus ; Raven Sings ; Science ; Still Single ; Teleport City ; Terminal Escape ; Those Geese ; Ubu ; Upset ; WFMU ; XRRF.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
5. Pelt - Effigy (MIE Music)
Essentially, Pelt’s methodology remains unchanged. Taking on the sonic ideal of LaMonte Young’s Eastern-derived minimalism and disconnecting it from the constraints of both an urban art world context and ‘official’/academic modernism, they instead drive us far, far out of town and, with the distracting background chatter of civilisation duly extinguished, direct our attention instead toward the grand expanse of the American landscape and its primeval history; that natural world which remains oddly under-hymned in contemporary US culture, even as the human aspects of rural life are flattened into direst cliché.
The central presence of stuff like Tibetan prayer bowls, Indian stringed instruments and so on in the band’s arsenal of course serves to draw a direct connection to the Eastern classical traditions that gave initially gave composers like Young a kick up the arse, but in the hands of these men their presence has never seemed gimmicky, or in any way incompatible with the notion of making music that is North American to its very core. Instead, the organic and uncontrived feel of the recordings that emerge seems to evoke a whole world of alternate possibilities, sometimes sounding like the music that might have resulted if explorers from the Indian sub-continent had somehow trekked their way across pre-colonial Georgia, tamburas in hand.
So that’s Pelt for Beginners dealt with, but returning specifically to ‘Effigy’, I won’t do these pieces a disservice by trying to describe them. Instead I’ll simply take the bait and outline the two thematic concerns that the band seem to be addressing herein. The first, as rendered on the rather beguiling cover art, is a contemplation of the mysterious animal-shaped burial mounds that dot the landscape of rural Wisconsin. The second is a requiem for their fallen comrade, as is clearly signalled by the screeching, knotty dissonance of ‘Of Jack’s Darbari’, which opens the record, and, more poignantly, by the brief, somnambulant mist of ‘The Doctor’s Nightcap’, which closes proceedings an hour or so later. The implicit connection between these two themes speaks for itself rather beautifully, and in between: mountains and stars, caverns and lake-beds, ancient dust and newly-birthed forests, and all the stuff you’d expect.
4. Humousexual – Grenzenlos
From February 2012:
"‘Grenzenlos’ is seven songs, all loosely themed around travel and places, and all extremely good. Building on an unapologetically rough bedrock of OD channel guitar, stand-up drumming and this-is-my-speaking-voice-what’s-the-problem-w/-that vocals, Humousexual could be said to kinda split the difference between classic pop-punk, Messthetics amateurism and C86 bounce, but really I think their chief characteristic is more that of making music entirely devoid of affectation. A rare occurrence in rock/pop music, not necessarily always a good thing, but in this case, both disarming and… what’s the word..? ‘Refreshing’, maybe? Ugh, no – makes them sound like mouthwash or something, but I can’t think of an alternative right now – you get what I mean.
There’s a Billy Bragg-esque ‘blokes singing songs about stuff that matters to them’ sorta feel to what Humousexual do, but with the earnestness and miscellaneous twattery that blights most such contemporary ‘folk songs for modern times’ singer-songwriter type ventures cannily avoided – partly through keeping the pace fast and the punk grit foregrounded, but mostly just by being funny and elegantly constructed and generous of spirit and righteous of intent and just, well, good, y’know.
It’s hard to express the extent to which I’ve grown to love the songs on this CD over the past couple of months. Playing them all several times over during a long, cold walk down the Old Kent Road in December, I wanted to clutch them to my heart in some weird gesture of brotherhood, to do *something* to try to express my solidarity with these two voices in my headphones, who seem very much to be rising above the confusion and isolation and cultural disintegration of these dark days, cutting the crap and pressing forward (politically/aesthetically/morally/musically) in the RIGHT direction.”
3. Shoppers – Silver Year
From January 2012:
“I don’t want to become the kind of blog that falls back on overblown macho clichés when considering heavy music, but if you’ll allow me some leeway just this once, this really is the kind of racket that hands you your ass and asks you to sign for it. Terrifyingly viscous, technically accomplished, riot grrl-informed punk rock, recorded in simple ‘room sound’ style, but with the guitar amp cranked to the level of pure noise, the drummer hammering through like a rhinoceros stampede – bloody great serpentine riffs, big landslide rhythms, tons of feedbacking skree, like the ballsiest heavy rock bluster taken on some sort of unheimlich futurist joyride.
Somehow, both the write-ups of Shoppers I’ve encountered so far have concentrated on the lyrics. God knows how loud they’re listening to pick all that up, cos all I’m getting through my earphones is the occasional phrase or two – sounds like fragments of phone conversations overheard on buses, half-hearted fridge-door lovenotes and late night arguments, yelled back in the faces of their proponents with a bitterness that seems to lay bare their craven insincerity. Heavy feelings to accompany heavy music.
Weirdly, the general vibe and production reminds me of nothing so much as Napalm Death’s ‘From Enslavement to Obliteration’ – the sound of a band looking to make things as dense and unapproachable as possible for their listeners, shedding fair-weather fans in seconds. January, February, my listening always falls back on this kinda thing, and ‘Silver Year’ is hitting the spot hard.”
(Psst – you can still get a copy cheap from here.)
2. Bong – Mana-Yood-Sushai
Such was the case when I first heard Bong’s extraordinary ‘Beyond Ancient Space’ in 2011. I wouldn’t have thought it possible that they could summon up a more fully realised expression of their chosen sound, and yet here we are a year later, and ‘Mana-Yood-Sushai’ (title taken from the writings of Lord Dunsany, incidentally) does the job nicely.
With a far cleaner, sharper recorded sound than they’ve gone for previously, the two pieces here reveal a more delicate and diffuse side to the band that seems to cut the umbilical cord connecting them to the world of metal almost entirely, setting the controls instead for a wholly self-defined journey in amplified, devotional psychedelia. If the album initially lacks the unified cosmic roar of ‘..Ancient Space’, the upshot is that the contributions of the individual band members, and the inspired heights of their slow motion improvisational interplay, stand out far clearer than before.
Were I writing a longer review here, I’m sure I could bore you with a poorly composed paragraph praising the contribution of each of the band’s four members, before attempting to describe the way they bring it all together… but thankfully for us all, this is just a quick end of year run-down type entry.
So essentially, let’s just say that what we’re dealing with here is four people surrendering themselves to a higher, mightier whole, lost in their own individual sounds, but circling each other all the same, working together at an almost telepathic level in the creation and nourishment of a vast, pulsing, living GROOVE, its contours etched in the listeners’ mind deeper than Saturn’s rings.
I’ve often thought there’s some sort of bullshit thesis waiting to be written on the use of heavy rock as a spiritual/meditational practice. No doubt the members of Bong are sufficiently down to earth to would laugh off such a concept, but in their heart of hearts they must know what they’re doing here, as the roar from the amps hits the air like a thousand trappists giving it their all, and whoever writes that thesis really needs to check this shit out.
1. Royal Headache – self-titled LP
(XVIII/R.I.P Society/What’s Yr Rupture)
“Aside from anything else, it’s great to hear a white, male vocalist who sounds like he’s really fucking committed to the idea of being the vocalist in a rock band, rather than just ‘the guy who happens to sing’, delivering these Motown and Big Star informed numbers the way they need to be delivered in punk scene context – big and bellowy, but without being a preening jerk about it or anything, like a detoxed Robert Pollard giving it his best Otis Redding moves.
And as to the band, well… given the style of music they’re aiming for, I could easily see Royal Headache turning into one of those groups who record a really disappointing, over-polished follow-up album with all their vital energy drained out into some gutter behind the studio, gathered up in plastic bags by some unscrupulous sound engineer, watered down and sold back piecemeal to lethargic teenage punk bands (because that’s the kind of thing they do in studios, kids). But for the moment, on this first record, Royal Headache are just fucking ON. Personally I might not have gone with that ultra-trebley Rickenbacker guitar sound, but that’s the dude’s choice and he does good work with it, high-end distortion spreading hither on yon across the to-my-ears-perfect 8-track tape level fidelity, all musicians audible even as everything bleeds everywhere for a big, warm, band-in-a-room sound, amp noise cleaving across into the cymbals on each chorus for authentically headache-y effect.
As I say, this kind of magic rarely lasts long these days, but to all intents and purposes this Royal Headache LP is some real ‘lightning in a bottle’ shit, capturing the rush of a great band just being a great band. And that’s something that’s hard to beat, regardless of where they head in future.”
I love the Royal Headache lp - the singer reminded me of Feargal Sharkey. Similarly, the mighty fine White Wires III lp last year reminded me of The Undertones, too. Anyway, Royal Headache's Chris Shortt also plays in Camperdown & Out, whose debut lp later this year I just know is going to be one of 2013's highlights.Post a Comment