Saturday, August 10, 2013

Superchunk- I hate Music

What happened to Superchunk? This is decent, and I don't hate it, but it is in no way Superchunk.

Borracho Oculus

Well, it's happened. I knew that Baroness were a game-changer. Get ready for this- Borracho were a fine, if somewhat predictable stoner rock band. They now have heard Yellow and Green, and the first three minutes of this EP sounds like it was cribbed directly from Baroness. Don't get me wrong- I like it, but it just proves exactly what I thought. You know how Songs for the Deaf changed everything, and suddenly dozens of bands copped that basic template about a year later? Well, prepare for that with Yellow and Green. Again, Borracho do their own thing, and it owes more to Kyuss than anything else, but proper respect to them for recognizing the genius of Yellow and Green.


Do you like the riff? No, I mean how much do you like the riff? Well Tilts like the riff more than you do. I don't care if you are in PWEI, and the song is Can U Dig It- Tilts live for the riff. The secret is Andrew Eistner, now in Torche. He sings like Ben Orr meets Dave Grohl, but he riffs like the history of rock, and I promise you at least one "Oh, Hell Yeah" moment if you listen to the record whilst drinking ( I've got several. Most of the record. I've got a bottle of Wild Turkey, and a volume control. I'm set.) . What more do you need?

Mark of Cain- Songs of the Third and Fifth

Believe it or not, I've got friends.  I guess I can be interesting from time to time. So, my friend, Jonathan sent me some nice Vinyl. I think the theme was Henry Rollins. I got the "Let there be rock" double EP that ol' Hank did with the Hard Ons, The Bruce! LP, and this LP by The Mark of Cain that Hank helped make.
So, why do I want to just discuss this one right now? Because it was the newest to me. ( Jonathan, believe it or not, upon listening to Bruce, I had heard them before. I know, impossible, right? My friend Annette  is a fan, she lives in Wollongong, and was a huge fan of Motorhead, Girlschool, and Saxon back in the eighties- she tried to get me into them. I liked 'em, but not 30 AUD liked 'em. That's not to say I'm inspecting the gift horse's teeth, it's to say I've already put a saddle on it. It is good stuff, especially Mr Armstrong's voice which reminds me of George's voice in Tona. )
So, Mark of Cain are Australian, and that's a point in their favor. Seriously, even Hunters and Collectors get that point. But, the references to late 1980's and early 1990's non-grunge hard Alternative rock is an even stronger point in their favor. Mentioning Big Black's "Bad Houses" whilst grunting out a Rick Boston Low Pop Suicide speak-sing, over a stuttering mathy Helmet beat? Yeah, that seals the deal, right there, and that's track one. Add the creeping militarism in the images and lyrics, and I'm in deeper. Of course I like the bass- I think everybody likes that bass sound ( detuned, mixed with extra treble so the notes are low, but you hear all the surface noise) but I want to point your attention on how the guitar is both obviously staccato, but less obviously legato- notationally, it must look like morse code, three notes legato, with the swoop, and then dot for the staccatissimo, constantly. It reminds me of pre- AmRep midwestern noise rock, like Big Black, Breaking Circus, Man Sized Action and so on. If this is too obscure, I apologize. Basically, I'm saying that they don't sound like Helmet as much as they sound like the guys who inspired Helmet, and Interpol and most of the noise rock since. People mention  Joy Division, but what about the Effigies? I hear more Effigies than I hear Joy Division. Heck, I hear more Red Lorry Yellow Lorry than I hear Joy Division. But, yeah, the whole package- dark military imagery, mixed with super precision sharp noise rock? Yeah, this would've been excellent in Chicago, circa 1986. Now, in 2013? It's awesome to hear that sound carried on. Oh and the duet with Hank? I know why Henry likes this band-Grey 11 is what Henry would've liked to see out of the Rollins band about 1997.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I am back from travelling. I have many things to write and will write them all- but expect them as short bursts. Maybe longer than this post, but maybe not.

Tyranny is Tyranny- the promised follow up

ok, so I think I've got a much better handle on Tyranny is Tyranny now. I think the best way to describe the aesthetic is in terms of minimalism. Not that they are playing strictly minimalist music- Steve Reich this isn't.  However, there is the phase shift, voice leading elements of minimalism-like IDM, Doom Metal, and certain forms of math rock.  Think about Steve Albini- Especially in Shellac, he'll repeat a phrase with minor adjustments until the adjustments aren't so minor. The phase shift in Tyranny is Tyranny seems designed to keep the listener ever so slightly off balance. So, unlike, say,  an EDM track, it doesn't lull, or relax- this is tense music, even if the tempos aren't fast.  That might sound torturous, but, like a good thriller, the tension has a payoff- the resolutions are deeply harmonic.  That tension sets it apart from either metal, or punk rock- it's not easily digested as a format. The closest comparison really seems like Boris where the show of adopting a format is there mostly to show the boundaries of that format.
But this might seem really abstract, and dry logic games-this is still music made by human beings- it's not just designed to make you think. I'm not saying this is party or dance music but it does have a heart as well as a brain.
Ultimately, I wouldn't second-guess either myself or the band. It's rock-based music, still fairly angular and challenging, but far less so than some other permutations. It will kick your ass while subverting your assumptions about your ass.