Saturday, October 2, 2010

A small amount

I don't think I can do a full review or anything, but I've also been digging Boston's long-dead Milligram. But, in case you don't know- they played a metallic post punk with both Stoner and hardcore tendancies. The end result would not be out-of-place on Am Rep or Touch and Go, so it always confused me that they were on Small Stone.
Here's another interesting thing about them- I enjoy the lack of fidelity on their records- they were recorded so hot ( meaning overloaded and distorted) and raw that it actually increases the aggressiveness.

More under-the-radar Pop

I've been listening to a lot of music, as per usual, and here are two bands that I've put together in my head- Bloodthirsty Hippies and Coin under Tongue. Both have a vague neo-80's cult pop sheen to their music. The B-Hippies remind me of mid-80's gothic-pop post punk, like what The Damned and Siouxsie were up to around 1985. It's a slightly more expanded sound, incorporating more psychedelia (though not to a "Stoner" degree) with a much more lo-fi aesthetic. It's fun pop, and sometimes gets in some punkish quality art into the mix.
Coin Under Tongue, meanwhile seem to be re imagining late-70's, early-80's post Punk ( Gang of Four, Bauhaus, No Wave) as a kind of sludgey Big Rock. Kind of like what would happen if Big Black had been more Led Zep fans, and less Killing Joke fans. That means snappy, trebley bass lines, with tons of feedback guitars, but plenty of spidery reverb-drenched arpeggios as well. I prefer them to the Bloodthirsty Hippies, a bit, but miss the pop elements that Bloodthirsty Hippies bring, mostly in the vocals which are a kind of snotty talk-sing, like if Rik L Rik were to try to do Mark Smith. Actually, the vocals remind me a lot of Steve Bjorkland of Breaking Circus, but the music doesn't support the voice as much.
Here's a way of understanding the degree of appeal- I could see the Bloodthirsty Hippies in a middle position on a bill with The March Violets headlining, and Red Scare supporting, and I could see Coin Under Tongue across town in a middle position gig with Ink-era Effigies headlining, and Flour opening. If you don't "get" those references, you might not enjoy the bands....

Next Flaming Thing

There is a phenomena amongst aging ex-punks. Many are simply nostalgic for the time when they were relevant, and others try to assert that relevance by announcing that such-and-such is the "new Punk rock". I have fallen prey to both, from time to time, and I would hesitate to characterize myself as an aging ex-punk ( that's not ego- I mean that I was never cool enough to qualify as a punk. I long ago figured out that the guy operating the sound board is simultaneously the least cool guy in the building, and the one with the most control. Seemed like a good fit for a petty little Trotskyite like I was). However, the tangent from this phenomena that I most closely fit is a constant neophiliac need to find the new "what's next". In a way, it fits with hiphop better- the need for things to be "fresh". Yes, that makes me sound like some follow-fashion monkey, hardly a dignified position for a forty something, but if modern life takes anything from us, it takes our dignity first.
Still I cling to antiquated notions like dignity, and protocol and manners, so I try to retain what I'm able to retain. The only values I can surmise in searching out the new "what next" are open-mindedness, innovation and (here's that word again) relevance. If the trend fails one of those values, I might enjoy it as a "guilty pleasure" but I will note it as such ( oh, and lest we get too neurotic, "guilty pleasure" is simply common parlance for things that please you emotionally,but not intellectually. Music is not a purely intellectual venture, however trend-watching and cool-hunting are purely intellectual pursuits). So, while I might really like some Neo-new wave band, there's nothing inherently open-minded in playing spot-the-influence, the innovation would be minimal and while it might be entirely relevant to fashion trends, it's already limited into a cul-de-sac of a known form. Meanwhile, some noise band would be off-the-charts in innovation, and therefore demand large amounts of open-mindedness, such figures would also limit the relevance- if only 12 people hear it, it's not relevant.
Again,please understand that this is about the limited practice of trying to discover the next trend, or pattern. This is only tangentially about musical value. So, as much as I might love a band musically, it might not ever fit as "the next big thing" (the same goes for Tv shows and books, and so on. For a quick and dirty- I think Burn Notice probably will go down as the trend maker in TV shows. I'm already seeing shades of it in everything from the new Hawaii 5 0 to established shows like the CSI franchises. But, I wouldn't say that Burn Notice is high Art on TV. That, I'm reserving for Boardwalk Empire, which you really should be watching. However, as High Art- and expensive Art- I don't expect to see a ton of shows following it)
So, with that as format, I think I've found one. Now, saying I've found doesn't mean I'm the first- I think one of you reading this may have even tipped me off- but I'm saying that I made the connection that Torche may very well be the next big thing. They fit all criteria in spades- The mixture of indie pop, sludge/doom metal and neo-psychedelia virtually requires that anyone who listens must listen with an open mind, and the innovation of combining theory (which is what the "bomb string" a string tuned to the lowest discernible note is- theory) with pop format (3 minute verse chorus bridge structure) has not been explored in this fashion. Plus,aligning with extreme metal, as opposed to the psyche or Punk scenes is more more relevant than the other way around- put it this way- People who read Magnet religiously are going to have to adapt to the tastes of Revolver readers a lot more quickly than Decibel readers will have to adapt to Paste's tastes... Torche has a cult following, and thermonuclear glowing reviews, and genuinely well constructed songs, and ear pleasing tonality. They're all set. I'd be really surprised if they didn't get a scene following them. If they can get a song into rotation on rock radio, or get an album into Wal Mart, I bet Torche will be in the position The Eagles of Death Metal were in two years ago.