Thursday, August 28, 2014

Moutheater Passing Key

I've had a little bit of a rough summer. I've had friends, family, and pets die. I've had a moderate depression, and lost friends because of that. I've had car problems, broken stuff in the house, and even a few minor ( or maybe not minor, we don't know, yet)  neurological issues . So, yeah, a bit rough.
However, Andrew Aircraft had a really rough time, at some point, because these are some seriously depressed and self- excoriating lyrics- like, even I am impressed enough to mutter "Dude, you need help" at certain points. So, please understand, despite the ridiculous name, and the type of music, this stuff is serious business.
So, what kind of music do Moutheater make? I think the shorthand would be "Grunge"- but that sells it short. A better descriptor would involve "Led Sabbath" style early 70's hard rock,  "Unsane Lizard" noise rock, with a large amount of Melvins at their most metallic. Soundgarden, this is not.
So, everything I've said so far makes it seem pretty harrowing, right? Why would you want to hear that? Because, as Bauhaus would have it, they "swing the heartache"- they make the anger, depression, and self recrimination ROCK. It's post modern blues- you go through the pain to overcome the pain. At least, that's the function it's serving for me.
So, just to do my usual thing- I'm hearing a fair amount of Gibson on this- probably a Les Paul of some description, but there are bits that sound distinctly sweeter with a more focused gain structure, so possibly something with a mini humbucker. There are bits where the feedback and hum overcome the signal completely, so I don't think we're talking about modern amps- I'm thinking more 1970's Fender, or Ampeg to get what the kids call a "bitcrushed" sound ( really it's just completely saturated on the even harmonics, but why bring sound engineering to a metaphor party?) The bass is your standard  Jazz bass into Ampeg- I don't think there's any doubt on that, and the drums, though close-mic'ed are ye olde trap set- no Neil Peart-isms here. Just hit those toms with clubs...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bereft- Lost Ages

Hey, while I'm not strictly into Doom or Death or Black Metal- I'm aware of the stuff, and even like a few things on the periphery of those genres. If, however, you're more into blackened Doom, with a small side of Post-Metal, I think you might dig Madison, Wisconsin's Bereft. They have a new one/debut coming out named "Lost Ages" that comes to me highly recommended.  I have to admit, the aesthetics lose me, a bit- but I'm impressed with the sincerity and passion for the form- so, yes, I'd still consider it valid, and worth your time if that's your thing...

Yob- Clearing The Path to Ascend

So, I've heard of YOB before, but I've never heard a full length by them. I heard they signed to Neurot, and got interested a lot more. So I was really happy to see this in the mail. I think I understand what the hype is about. Much like Baroness, Boris, and Neurosis, they play metal devoid of the genre restrictions- and, paradoxically, fulfill the genre requirements. These are 10 minute plus songs, with tempos that rarely get up to a heartbeat, yet there's power, beauty and excitement in them. Bottom line- yes, it meets the hype.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I'll be back

Sorry I've be quiet. I did an experiment that failed, and I'll be back to the known, soon. As was said a generation ago- "A man's got to know his limitations."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This is just for me

I just want to remember these links. You might like them too:
and again

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Drones of North America

I don't entirely know what to make of this band. All I can say, with any certainty is that I think like minded individuals should get on this
But what do I mean by "Like minded"? I  mean people who like very loud guitar rock that dips into hybrid pools. There are post-hardcore elements, there are metal elements, there are even a few noise and punk elements. 
To describe them, I want you to imagine a country. Call it "Outoftheloopistan" or "Backwardia", but the idea is this- imagine a place where they have no first-hand knowledge of all the minute subgenres being purveyed on Bandcamp. All they have is a music shop that sells  only punk rock instruments, and they can recall hearing some doom metal, and and a math metal track or two, when they were visiting friends in more civilized places. Got that? This is the noise they would make. From video evidence, there are Rickenbacker and Telecaster instruments, and they're a three piece. While I can hear that, there are also sections that sound, for all the world like an Ibanez guitar with a humbucker, and a Fender P-bass- so, I don't know how to give you my standard spiel- the overall impression is that unlike others who talk about torturing their instruments- these guys have made their instruments dance in ways they weren't meant to. I think it's in Exodus, somewhere : "Thou shalt Not maketh thy Telecaster to play Doom Metal melodies". I could be wrong, but I think it's there, in some translations. The vocals are in the Fugazi school of yelling in ways that approximate being in key, without ever being in key. 
What I'm saying is that it's really good stuff, but it blows out my mind, by defying my expectations in multiple ways- much like Tyranny is Tyranny- it defies both the band it comes from ( members were in straight metalcore bands before) and my preconceived notions of what are logical progressions. So, I'm still processing. But, I think you should process it, too.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Catching up on some random stuff.

First, yeah, saw a few bands this week. Brody Dalle would've been a good not great Rocknroll show, but she was followed up by St Vincent- who blew everything away by the first song- a completely mannered performance- like Laurie Anderson, or Bjork, but featured outrageous playing- Steve Vai level technique, but applied towards Adrien Belew/Robert Fripp/Elliott Sharp type experimentation- I mean, the first song she played this chromatic solo in 128th notes while choking out a bouncer with her legs, causing the 7 foot tall woman standing near me to say "What did we just see???" From there it was Talking Heads  meets Prince meets The The meets Brian Eno songs as performed by Robots trained by Bill Laswell- just jaw dropping stuff. Then, Queens of the Stone Age played a "Rock Star" set, that was flawed by an over-reliance on the new record for novelty but filled with authority- clearly this configuration of QOTSA knows exactly what they do, and do that extremely well.
But, musically, I've  mostly been listening to the new Boris and The Powder Room records, still.
So, TV- or, for me, streaming video- I've been watching both the American and Swedish versions of the Bridge, each has serious strengths and flaws. Also, my wife got into the first three seasons of Channel 4's MisFits, and I have been watching NBC's Crossbones, and Hulu's The High Road. On Netflix, I watched some documentary- A Band Called Death, Doc of the Dead, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, Bettie Page Reveals All , Mile Mile and a Half, and Tiny. Also, a couple of regular movies- World War Z, Lawless ( better than expected, by the way. You should give it a chance) and Machete Kills. On Vimeo I've been watching High Maintenance and it's really, really good. On Planes Trains + Automobiles, I've been watching Day Off and State X State. and on Youtube Epic Rap Battles of History. That's a crap tonne of TV, yeah? So, regardless of what the Supreme Court or Comcast has to say about Aereo, or how people watch TV, I know I prefer this to Cable and I'm not going back.
I had to do a little house sitting recently, and was forced into cable while there. Ye gads, it was awful- the paucity of choices, the tyranny of schedules, the imposition of the marketplace, in the form of adverts. I would never put up with that, let alone pay for it, now that I have another option.
We live in a culture where people are obsessed with verisimilitude- reality TV, self help books, Youtube clips, polls, charts, and arguments and speeches. But truth isn't necessarily what we crave- we'll deny climate change, Evolution, Science, itself. We try to surgically alter or chemically negate our biology, and we disguise ourselves online. We pay investment bankers who trade in derivatives- fictional money- hundreds of times more than we pay people who build houses. I could go on, but I think my point is made- so long as it "seems" true to the ignorant, people will believe any lies that the corporate elect tell them. So, they can think that, because I watch TV without Comcast, or Cox , listen to music without Sony or Apple,  and so on, I must be some kind of Somali pirate- desperate and somehow illegal just by being- and I know I've got very little sway to tell people differently- that I've actually got pretty high standards, and don't want to rip anyone off. Such is the dichotomy of what we still arrogantly call the "First" world. ( Can I be the first who wants to remove the "r" from that?)
Anyway, carry on- I just wanted to illustrate why the blog is called what it is...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Saw Brody Dalle, St Vincent and QOTSA

Brody was a good rock show, St Vincent blew my mind- like Steve Vai, Laurie Anderson, Bjork and John Zorn formed an 80's cover band, all in one person. QOTSA went a little heavy on the new LP, but was very good, too.
Here's some decent photos ( follow the link, really) and here are my photos:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Powder Room- Curtains

I'm late on this. I know that.  But, one of the beautiful things about this, our modern world, is that things occur outside of time. A digital release on bandcamp is just as fresh today, as it was when released 4 months ago. Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
 I stumbled across this by doing what I always do- I spend about  90 minutes a week browsing bandcamp by tags- usual ones are " Grunge" "Noise Rock" "Post Punk"  and "Sludge". These guys, The Powder Room ( sounds like it should be a recording studio, amirite?) finally showed up in my browsing, and I almost passed them by, because track one "Disappointment" sounds like Alice in Chains, and while I'm a fan of several of the individuals in AiC, that's not my cup of fur. In fact, I may have passed them by, forgotten it, and came back, I don't know. I'm glad I did, because once you get past the first track, things get much more interesting. They're more like a somewhat mathy Mudhoney, or a noise rock Skin Yard. Which makes me chuckle, because I'm old, and I remember that, originally, what came to be known as Grunge was a Seattle response to midwestern noise rock. It continued to be a collaboration of sorts- heck,  Hazelmyer was a member of the U Men, but still, you start with Ruthless records, you got to Touch and Go, Homestead, and then, you start seeing C/Z Sub Pop and Amphetamine Reptile. So, a noise band with grunge tendencies completes the circle, in a way.
I guess I should define terms, but I think you'd prefer to get into something a bit more concrete.
The music references bands that get called noise- specifically, there's some Shellac, some Jesus Lizard, some Slint and some Drive Like Jehu in the structure of the songs. But there's some Led Zeppelin, some Soundgarden, and some Nirvana in the hooks. A couple of things even remind me of early prog, like King Crimson. Yes, I realize that what I just described could also describe At The Drive In- this is more noisy than they ever got- judging from the guitar tones, I'm thinking more Telecaster ( probably with rails- there's too much distortion without icepick squeal for a standard tele bridge)  into strange tube amp ( there's a section near the beginning of "A Literal Prodigy" that sounds distinctly like an old Ampeg combo amp- Maybe a Sovtek, I'm not sure, but I can definitely hear both 12AX7 and 6L6 tubes- does that sound too music geek for you? Here's the thing- I hear BIG TIME music geek all over this. Somebody in the band has experience in the business as a non-performer. Sound guy, manager, something. I'm suspecting this is a band who has a member or two on the Electrical Audio boards- I can hear multiple mics on the drums, and very, very little compression on them. That's a Weston trick, kids.)
What I getting at is that this is more "trad" sounding than a lot of the Math rock, but definitely more "noise/math" than most of the bands I've heard from Georgia. I'm sure there are others, but the only band like this, from Georgia, that I've heard is Atlanta's Bodyfather. So, I nearly skipped it. That would've been a tragedy for me, because I would've missed "Dead Pet" - which answers the musical question- what would it sound like if Tito Larriva from the Plugz was genetically modified to fuse with both Steve Albini and Thor Eisentrager- and the answer is AWESOME!
The bass is trebley and bright, and stays entirely in the pocket- again, Bob Weston. That's huge! It's between him, Youth, Mike Watt, and Lemmy for best bass player, ever.So, this guy is superb!
Finally, it's produced by Kyle Spence. That's a shock, to me- Harvey Milk's cool and all, but he's usually associated with more "blues based" type stuff, like Valient Thorr, Dinosaur Jr and Tim Brantley - but then, everything about this is a bit "sideways" for me- just shows that despite thirty years in, I still am just a music fan, and not as open minded as I should be.
So, my bottom line- if you're into Noise Rock, Math Rock, or Grunge, you might like it. If you're into a hybrid of all the above, you're going love it. I count myself as loving it. I think I've listened to this about 20 times in the past few days. So, yeah, I'm glad to have been wrong.....

Monday, July 7, 2014

Boris- Noise

I realize this is a bit overdue. I've got a real life, and sometimes, it intrudes. Anyway, a new Boris LP came out, which isn't exactly rare, but it's the LP to get by Boris if you want to get a Boris LP.
Seriously, it's their most accessible record, ever, and yet, it has everything you could want from them- heavy neo sludge monster riffs? You betcha! Ethereal shoegazer melodies? Of course! Drones, and random  noise? Not as much as on a Merzbow record, but yeah, that's there.
It's basically like Swervedriver running headlong into Baroness, with The Melvins, and Asobi Seksu and Loop, and Merzbow all somehow involved. Melodies float in and out, and drone riffs are allowed to go on until they extinguish, and singing is exchanged with barking and screeching, and gentleness is betrayed by viciousness, but the end result is beautiful- like a heap of broken crystal glasses glittering in the sun.
I do not speak Japanese, and their English is heavily filtered, so no, I cannot speak about the lyrics. They could be singing about the joys of scrabble, and I'd have no idea. For all I know "Vanilla" is about their spice rack. It really doesn't matter- the songs and the musical ideas are more than enough to sustain repeated listening.
Bottom line- if you like heavy, mind expanding rock-based music, you probably already own this. If you'd like to get into that, here you go- get started.