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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ok, joke's over

Here's what I really think about the new Tilts record-
yes, it rocks hard, but what they're doing is deceptively complex. See, we live in a post-everything indie rock kind of time. How exactly do you go about making "classic" rock in that atmosphere without lapsing into either irony or fake nostalgia for things you don't know. Think about the legions of bad stoner rock bands out there- representing nothing more than "Gee, ain't it cool that Josh Homme makes guitar sounds that remind you of Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore". Think about indie bands from Sleigh Bells to DZ Deathrays, to Japandroids that want to rock, but have to stick a layer of self-aware irony inbetween their pristine intellect and their supposedly more base urges to party. That's what makes what Tilts do so special- they bring the party, they rock in ways that make you think of that classic party rock from the seventies and eighties, but in a way that is fresh, and new- this is rock for the ages, not the aged. Get the idea? This is more akin to what Andrew WK does than to some kind of joke.It's music for the good times, not about the good times. Which makes it both more amusing, and more resonant.
As an example- opener "Brown Gum" starts with a riff that references both Ted Nugent and Kyuss- a modal minor key blues riff that goes into a Led Zep styled pseudo-middle Eastern whine that plays off the harmony vocals in a dreamy, floating suspended fashion, which lends a counter-weight to the palm muted verse riff that chugs the beat along. None of that is a joke, right? but the song will put a smile on your face, if you dig rock music. The idea isn't cheap nostalgia- it's to write riffs that will stand up with the riffs that inspired them.
Now, here's a twist- I never liked classic rock. I hate Aerosmith, think Rush is over-rated, I snore through Houses of the Holy, and would deep six Deep Purple. So, how come I like Tilts? Because they inject the whole thing with indie rock energy. It's not irony, or distance- it's urgency and a confident aggression- like fellow stalwarts such as QOTSA, Torche, Dinosaur Jr or the Melvins- while they're inspired by classic rock, they're trying to do their own thing, and aren't some kind of tribute.
For an example- I can't see any band prior to 1990 wanting to claim the thick, fast downstroked riffs of "Touchdowns"- it's an early 1980's metal riff fused with Ramones-styled aesthetics and grunge love of pure noise- so it ends up sounding modern, new, fresh, and clean.
So, the temptation is to write a flip joke or two, because it's just so obvious- if you like loud rock music, you must love Tilts. It's like classic rock, or early Punk rock- you're assumed to like Black Sabbath, and The Ramones. If you don't, you must like disco or country or something. So, I have a little of that prejudice- I just really cannot believe anyone who likes big, juicy riffs and party beats doesn't already love Tilts. So, with the war already won, we might as well crack wise. Sadly, though, too many people are sleeping on the truly great time Tilts provide. So, rectify that for yourself, pronto- get this record before you're having to explain yourself to your 15 year old nephew "Well, yeah, I was into Rock, but I missed out on Tilts. I was too busy being lame, and writing online comments about Lana Del Rey. Who was Lane Del Ray? Ummm, just this lame fake singer. Yeah, I was wasting my time. I'm really glad you turned me on to this, though..."
Tilts Cuatro Hombres is essential, vital, organic and dynamic. You;re wasting your time on anything else.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tilts Cuatro Hombres

It'd be easy to review this by saying "It Rocks. Hard". I like things easy.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Buzzcocks- The Way

What does fame buy you? Well, it evidently buys you pledges to make records. It buys you enough good will that people will ignore that your voice is shot. and you don't have any musical ideas.
I don't like negative reviews, and I'm a big fan of  Buzzcocks, especially as a singles band- the two singles collections are must haves- both Singles Going Steady and Operators Manual. But, I have to be honest, I got the new record, and it's fairly bad. Shelley and Diggle both sound hoarse and spent. The tempos are slower, not to accommodate more intricate playing, but to stretch out the solos. It just sounds tired, and cranky, and fed on raw nostalgia and good favor carrying over from their past glories.
But, that's useless to say on its own. You might agree, you might disagree, but you won't know unless you hear it, and that renders my negative opinion moot, now doesn't it?
No, I only bring it up because of my opening question. That's the draw, here- I think we have a great test subject for the hypothesis -I believe that fame, such as what Buzzcocks have, is enough to feed a kickstarter-style campaign, such as they did, but to go beyond that- to generate new fans- genuine fans, not people acting like they like it to impress friends- you have to have at least a decent hook, or cool look, or something new- no one can truly rest on their laurels. That's what I believe. But, let's see how this ends up working for them- this album has nothing going for it but the name. Let's see how far it carries them?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bloody Beetroots, live at the Fillmore Silver Spring

Great time, and Sir Bob & Friends are lovely hosts!

And there was a pit!