Saturday, September 14, 2013

Something far more Positive- The Almighty Black God have released 3.

I bought "Three" from No Idea on Thursday. I got the free accompanying download, and don't even have the  vinyl in my hands, yet. I have already listened to it at least 6 times, probably more. It's my "commute to work" music. Better than coffee. More like the mythical meth from Breaking Bad. But this is not meth.
Briefly, it's the new version of Louisville's "Black Cross", and it's extremely tight, and tightly structured hardcore punk rock. They remind me of the Minutemen- not entirely in sound, although they do go for a somewhat trebley  guitar sound, but in how tightly controlled they are about it- no song over two minutes, no more than 6 songs per release,nothing but 7 inch records, feedback on every track, all hard tempos, and all in-arguably hardcore.They sound like this.  I love it. There's enough Fugazi in it that it's not boring, but it's got power and heft. Ryan, on this one, seems to be blurring the lines between this and one of his other bands- some of the guitar bits borrow from the motorik, Krautrock-like riffs on Coliseum's "Sister Faith".
I know, I know, I should like more sophisticated, mature music than hardcore punk, but when it's this tight, I cannot deny it. Best 7 inch of the summer? Yup. No question.

Just getting it out of the way: Pixies and The Clash

I've got the new Pixies EP, I'm not going to be getting the new Clash Box set.
Yes, I love both bands. Both are absolute "Desert island picks" and "Top 5" and all that malarky, but I'm not stupid. The new Pixies ep is warmed-over filler, just to have some new merch to hock at shows, and I got suckered. I hoped maybe it was the last stuff with Kim Deal, or something as good as what Charles was doing with the Catholics, but no, it sounds like B side material that was rejected from The Cult of Ray.  So, nope, not worth talking about.
The "Sound System" from Mick Jones is the polar opposite from what Mick was doing with Carbon/Silicon. Carbon/Silicon was Mick boldly exploring new areas, even new ways of interacting with the fans, and coming up with exciting new avenues as a result. This is flogging a very expensive cut of horsemeat. Somewhere around 150 us dollars to hear 90% already released material "re-mixed" by Mick ( and no, I don't think he is that great of a producer- I've never so much as mentioned the Libertines before this, have I?) and some of the "new" stuff is just imperceptibly different takes on old songs. This is just like all the other "new" Clash stuff- just another way of trying to part the rubes from their rubles. Again, don't get me wrong, I love the Clash, I like BAD, and I like Carbon/Silicon. But, I really would prefer it if Mick stuck to working with Gorillaz, and producing, and  releasing some more C/S material. Why soak the fans? It's just going to tarnish the legacy in the long run. As far as I'm concerned he can cut the crap. (geddit?)

Mark Lanegan- Imitations

Well, this new one proves at least one thing- I mean it when I say that he could sing the phone book, and I would be riveted.  Briefly, the idea is that Mark sings covers of various songs in a "crooner" style, like Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra ( mid sixties version. mind you). This goes all the way to the production which is flattened out to something that seems pretty close to mono. Likewise, the arrangements feature strings, with guitars. Now, while I'm not one to hate things for musical idiom- I like everything from Guy Lombardo to Merzbow, so believe you me, it's not just that the crooner style isn't my thing- it's the specific type of crooner, coupled with the arrangements, coupled with some of the choices of song to use- if this were anyone but Mark Lanegan, I would hate this. It's like Elvis in 1966, and Mac Davis, just about any time, and Paul Anka... what I am saying is that, aesthetically, this is as close as it comes to Mark literally singing the phone book or a Chinese menu as it gets for me- and I still like it. Unless you're like me, and really could hear the man sing anything, you don't need this.  I don't completely understand why I like his voice so much, but I do. So, that's all I can say, I love his delivery, even if the songs mean absolutely nothing to me.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


So, maybe you want a hyphenate? Welcome to this year's Kowloon Walled City- Hammerhands. More and thicker sludge-drone-doom Metal than you could shake a very large stick at. The first track, "Floods" has the distinction of having the unique time signature of "1". Not "1/1", not "1/4", just plain "1". I'm joking, but damn, is this sucker slo-o-o-o-o-w. No attempt at anything but crushing volume, at about the six minute mark (yes, the six minute mark) it alters from a straight up pounding drone to this gigantic mis-shapen riff with pure straight from the pit of hell bellowing vocals- like I said, the only thing as seismic would be either actual earthquakes or Kowloon Walled City.  The odd-but-slow time signatures and angular thick as molten asphalt riffs continues on track two "Analysis Paralysis". It's like The Jesus Lizard slowed to one eighth speed, and triple the volume. It's like Voivod on elephant tranquilizers. We finally get cut a break at the beginning of the title track "Glaciers" which starts out with an almost pretty guitar figure, but then, the screams and pounding come back in. But, let's just get right to it- out of sixty minutes, half of that is the last track- Equus. Unlike, say, Earth or Swans, where it's all just drone and pummel the first three minutes are angular noodling, lulling you away from the beatings to come. from there we go to pound town for about ten minutes. Did I mention the Swans? Yeah, well, now I have, twice. Then, it's a good,  solid ten minutes of feedback and drone. No beat, no break, just drone.
I'm not saying you should listen to it. I'm not even saying I'm going to listen to it, too often, but if you want something heavier and louder, and more drone, more doom than Neurosis and Kowloon Walled City, Hammerhands have your number.

Pyres- Year of Sleep

You think I've gone soft on the rock, don't you? Talking about Franz Ferdinand, and The Bloody Beetroots, right? Well, first, that's funny as hell to me, and second, I don't need to prove nuthin' to no one, baby, I'm freakin' snaggletooth, and third- I've also been listening to Pyres. Stoner-Sludge-Doom, ah hell, they're just Metal. I mean Metal with a capital umlaut, cupcake. A little Baroness here, some Red Fang there, maybe some Mastodon, or Black Tusk, but really, come closer and you'll get it- this is straight up Metal- like if you were to fuse Ted Nugent, Black Sabbath, and High on Fire and that spider-man-beast from the Thing. I'm not saying this is the only thing I want to hear, but I'm saying I like it. Sometimes you want some non-hyphenate music. This is Metal. No apologies needed, no quarter given- flat out Metal. When people talk about those hyphenates you know  Speed Metal, Death Metal, Technical Math Metal, etc etc ad nauseum, the "Metal" part of the equation sounds like Pyres. Metallica should change their name to Pyres- Like-A, Lemmy should name them the  heirs to the crown. Get the point, they're All Metal, all the time, None more Metal, Tenacious Destroying Metal. Metal, Metal Metal. Oh, and Manowar should commit suicide because compared to Pyres, they are false Metal.

Bloody Beetroots-----HIDE------

Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo has some nice friends. Let's get that right out of the way: Tommy Lee, Greta Svabo Bech, Penny Rimbaud, Youth, Paul McCartney, Theophilus London, Peter Frampton-that's quite the guest list. So, yes, Bloody Beetroots are, in some respects, the EDM that's safe for rockers. But, I don't think that's all there is, here. SBCR has a background as a rocker, and what do you think the leather jackets, tattoos, and sneer signify? At the same time,  this isn't garage punk, it's hard electronic dance music. So, maybe the point is less about packaging an artificial division in music, and more about ignoring that attempt at a division. I think what SBCR is doing is making music, and thumbing his nose at attempts to classify that music.
Still, my concerns cannot be for SBCR- they have to be for us- the music fans- how do we interpret his music? Hard dance music. So, the EDM tag will have to fly, even if it doesn't entirely fit. I think most will view the music in terms of stuff like The Prodigy- where it was dance music made for and by people with rock aesthetics. It's a bit of a shame, really, in that such labels will shut off people who would otherwise have something new to enjoy. I'm thinking about some of my more "metal" brethren - folks who really like say, Tool and Baroness and Mastodon, if they could wrap their heads around the idea that an electric guitar plugged into an amp, and a keyboard plugged into an amp are really, in many ways,  the same thing- they might see how The Bloody Beetroots and metal are doing very similar things- exploring/exploding riffs, juxtapositioning  musical phrases by means of extended bridge sections to the songs, exploring modes for new themes, heavy arpeggio use as a kind of filigree; the musical stock in trade isn't that much different. After all, what does the label mean, anyway? Metal, Punk, Garage, EDM? This-core and That-core, it's all just music.
So, What about those songs? Well, we start out with "Spank", a totally gleeful bit of club techno, built around morse code beat, that I first heard back around my birthday. If you don't know it, it's as good a calling card as any into what SBCR is doing with the Bloody Beetroots. "Raw", meanwhile sounds like a bit of a throwback to pre- Rombarama pounding Techno, with Tommy Lee interjecting some self-referential humour about disco and guitars. This is the sound that drew me in, to begin with, so I'm not complaining- but it can be a bit over-the-top for some- basically it's blown-out punk techno blasted so loud that the beat kind of attenuates the keyboards, like an inverted  pulse after the beat. That can be a bit disorientating at first, but when you start to expect it, you feel it all the way to your spine. Then, "Runaway", with Greta Svabo Bech ( yes, the Deadmau5 girl singer- but she's more than that) starts to bring in more pop music. Yes, still a "club banger" but highlighting a more melodic, more restrained, more structured type- the kind that's all over the charts, these days. The next track "Chronicles of a Fallen Love" was the real game changer from about a year ago- this is practically easy listening compared to most of the Death Crew 77 stuff. It's a lush ballad that makes me think of everything from Kate Bush to soundtracks to Italian B-movies from the 1970's.
The next track is the "Furious" one, with Penny Rimbaud  (of Cr@ss fame) reading a poem over music that is nothing if not early industrial- as in it would fit nicely on a Scraping Foetus LP, like "Hole" or "Nail"- and the end result beats the heck out of Atari Teenage Riot and Alec Empire- it's Anarchist, in the same way as, say, Alan Moore- with a brain, as well as a bludgeon .
Following this up with the best track Paul McCartney has been involved with in years ( and yes, I heard the Nirvana reunion) might seem perverse, but Sir Bob and Sir Paul have a good one here in "Out of Sight"- now, I suspect that Youth had more to do with the actual songwriting than Sir Paul, but regardless of who wrote what- this is just a good, classic, rock song. Nope, not techno, nope not "dance rock"- I mean a regular Rock track- albeit one that could play on both a Classic Rock radio station, and a club kid's blog.
The next few tracks I would let you discover on your own, except to note that, the two tracks without collaborators "Albion" and "Reactivated" are classic Bloody Beetroots, and could've been on the Butter ep, and "The Source (Chaos and Confusion)" rocks it out like it's 2001- you know, Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method, that sort of thing- and then, blasts off right past both mid period Daft Punk and latter day Justice ( and I bet Justice are jealous of the track) and finally,   "All the Girls", the collaboration with Theophilus London is the kind of summer song that girls really do go nuts for. All I can say is my wife likes it. My point? My wife is more into hardcore punk rock, and music suited for a late 30's kind  of gal- a little Cure, some Morrissey, a whole lotta U2, maybe a few "approved" newer bands, like Gogol Bordello, or AWOLnation, but she's not exactly a former club kid, or whatever. She gets weak on this track. So, I'm saying play this song for your girl. Do it, now. You'll be happy you did.
( Oh, and just so's the track doesn't feel left out- the collaboration with Peter Frampton is a talkbox infused ballad not unlike the first minute or so of "Church of Noise" which is still my favourite ballad by SBCR)
No, I want to get to the last two tracks: "Rocksteady" and "Volevo Un Gatto Nero". If you have seen the Bloody Beetroots Live! ( that's another thing I dig about Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo- everything is named as per function. It reminds me that he really must be from a radical left background, as this is a habit of commies, pinkos, and collectives everywhere- so "Bloody Beetroots Live!" isn't a description of what I saw- it's the name for the project that I saw, geddit?) then, you have some idea. "Rocksteady" was last year's single for the summer, a propulsive techno rock track made for "More Cowbell" . This version has everything amped up to 12, like a dubstep track detonated with nitroglycerin coated C-4, in a petrol vapour field. I would put this right up against a hardcore punk rock song for sheer explosive energy. You'll break things, and dance while you do it.
Then the last track- "Volevo Un Gatto Nero" ( translated: I wanted a Black Cat) . The name, and basic tune is a bit of a joke copped from this song - and the Black Cat tango is a cultural artefact that instantly identifies an inside joke that I happen to get- Vincenza Pastorelli, the child singer who sang that song to the international children's festival in 1969, was arrested on prostitution charges in 2007, when this song ( changing the lyrics from "Volevo un gatto nero, nero, nero" to "you promised me Bob rifo, rifo rifo")  started showing up. So, a children's song about wanting a black cat instead of the white one given gets a dirty makeover by real life, and SBCR reclaims it- saying- you want me? Here you go. In these days of outrage over Miley Cyrus twerking, while we don't give a damn about radiation and chemical poisoning, well, it's a pretty subversive and spot-on analysis- we live in perverse times, and this is a perversion of our perversions, geddit?
The overall point? Does there need to be one? Well, it's the next level by the guy who's been living 2 floors up from the rest of us before this. If you like Diplo and Skrillex, this is what they'll sound like in two years.  Really, this is state-of-the-art electronically-based rock disguised as EDM only because people like the little labels.Because, really, in rocknroll, there's only one real question: Do you wanna dance?