Friday, September 19, 2014

TV Freaks - Leeches 7" on Hosehead records

TV Freaks seem to be excelling at their own brand of hyper compressed but raw and unhinged punk. I know that's like saying 'rock n roll' but there's a real speed and aggression to this stuff while sounding in the garage wheelhouse a the same time. Let's face it there's something to be said for tough speedy punk that takes itself seriously enough to spend time making it sound pretty damn good. You can do away with an pretension of recording technique or you can try to give this the due it deserves. Guess what's harder.

A-Side's "Leeches" fades in on feedback sweet feedback ready to blow, real ungrounded but nothing prepares you for this energy and density. They raise big riffs out of this haze which is Seth Sutton fuzzy if he was in the house band for Tony Molina. Super clean sounding and dirty that could remind one of the industrial period of Killing Joke in the late '90s. Vocals are fantastic, this guy can howl and sound sarcastic in a way thats all his own. Like David Johansen fronting that house band after Tony went solo.

I don't know how this stuff works on B-Side's "Mommy's Place" how they can get a clean but massively crushing sound while keeping these vocals coherent and cutting. It's concise and compact with shuffling changes and an incredible amount of speed. Rough and flying along with a real aggression they carefully laid out. I think I know I'm getting too old when I start to ask questions how you keep this kind of thing up? Except there's that expert sonic hand on "Lose It". Scrappy and smart enough to get it this big? It's almost too perfect, the tinny metallic parts drag this back down to a more recognizable sound - the high echoing treble that is near feedback and scraping strings. Make way for the thick compression that's almost too great sounding. In that mix of 'I just wanted a shitty garage band but I got Hot Snakes or Sparta style production. It's easy to predict this already gaining traction and not stopping anytime soon.

Pick this one up from Hosehead Records.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Os Drongos on Bleeding Gold Records

The Google translation fo the bio on Os Drongos is poetry:

Sure they would have preferred to be limited to a single TV cast armed with a set of saucepans and dental floss. Then they would have with the wave postoperative soul so becoming in this kind of opportunity, interpreted this obscure Dublin tube of Farinelli Thirty Five entitled "Stop the motion." The trauma stoves pushed all costs deep in their brain, it remained only to step over the wall hospitalié. Its spring balm, the air seemed susurer all the lost walking to lose foot. Night fell on the forest. Buddy accompanied by Chief had ended up following what they described it as a kind of signal, a long distance call. Old debris shone white washed their eyes; the memory of a buried god demanded. Os promised the old settlers who sought, fever and freedom in the scene of his healthy cruelty.

I think it paints a picture of this mysterious surreal gang from Chambéry France with not many rules and certainly no restrictions when it comes to instrumentation or classification. They have a firm grip on some alternate reality and aren't letting go. Leave it to Bleeding Gold records to be just as intrigued and want to capture it.

A-Side's "Dancing Balloons" - Heavy clipped guitar work and gritty tones open this off kilter rickety riff with a gravelly vocal and a bassline that's bumping along, bouncing with nothing but percussion backup. The guitar takes tiny lines and expands them over a lot of backup harmony and fluttery indie directions. To me sounding like a lost Dog Day single, he's got the same vocal quality as Seth - maybe more processed and reaching for a higher chart but gets the unusual indie stuff completely right. Like Ted Leo or Spoon, Os Drongos is decisive in bold choices, clear as the day it was plugged into an 1/4" jack. Guitar sounds that have been exorcised and mulled over, a real crafted piece of pop which is sort of secondary with the number of clean expressions channelling through this one. Taking chances finding interesting rhythms with pieces that don't line up.

B-Side's rapid fire percussion on "Eager Son"... - uh this is at the wrong speed. I guess I should have known that if Bleeding Gold wasn't going to do a museum quality color pressing then they would go and force two different speeds. This DFA 1979 crunchy bass line plows along at a more reasonable pace with a wooden cowbell and phaser vocals getting closer to a power glam than the indie stuff on the reverse side. Not the beachy thing I'm looking at on the sleeve or the postcard I'll write my family while swimming in this murky layered juice. Sort of southern and skid rock with a heavier sound and snarly attitude. Layered chorus vocals stepping over himself with trains of melody but getting almost psych in this haze of effects and delay. Leaving room for "See my shanty" this second track's understated drum piece sounds is thin like the indie side, something more reasonable than the beast that came before it. Still under the thumb of the bass in line with that Dog Day sound again, it's got the perfect melody and upfront vocal that knows it, don't waste time going anywhere else. This hook is the thing that needs to be repeated with a slow reverb and slithering solo between verses but the eyes closed swaying bassline should stay right where it is. They know it when they got it.

Get this from Bleeding Gold Records

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Emergency on Metal Postcard Records

Some of the most interesting electronic music is about using the technology in ways that don't try to hide what the technology is actually trying to do. When it doesn't emulate a flute or an actual instrument (which ends up sounding like it's own worst nightmare) and instead tries to create something completely original and celebrate how not human it sounds. I think Emergency recognizes those things in their sounds and plays with their strengths, which sounds like the actual future, not the sexy Tom Cruise future but the monotonous bleak one.

A slight electronic high hat opens A-Side’s "Spending Time" with a calypso rhythm. Electronic drums led by the emulated conga, it's heavy on percussion and a big bass synth puts together a track reminiscent of The Faint or !!!, that indie dance sound that was really getting places a couple years back. A pile of handclaps push this into solid party territory while the vocal is hardly exercising an kind of effort. It's that straightforward cold modern take on the sound. These bass tones really shine on vinyl especially that dub drop - going from nothing and then bringing it all back into focus, reminding me of that INXS track with the talking, (you mean "Mediate"? - ed) talking about the mess of contemporary society. Fulfilling desires. He doesn't have to tell me. I'm still waiting for the reissue of The Unicorns record to ship.

The thing is about these guys by now that's clear on B-Side's, "Switch me" is they seem like in this harsh environment they've accepted this stark dance floor after last call. They're taking the instruments of this modern society and trying their hardest in their robotic way to tell you what life is all about. It's a struggle to want to care about trumped up cymbal crashes and inhuman rhythm but then that's how Autobahn sounded didn't it? So foreign that it's a bit repulsive, you don't want to even give it a chance. No humans had anything to do with this! Fuck it. But they didn't come up with this by themselves - we all made them that way. The stilted rhythms are echoes of Herbie Hancock's mannequins spazzing around in scary ways. Real harsh synth comes in so inorganic that the mere playing of it brings some kind of humanity to the table and turns this back around, layering up the key stabs but it's still all plotted out in a grid, processed on that dot matrix printer, reminding you how far it's all come. Or has it?

On metal postcard records, check the usual distros or discogs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The End Times on BSH Recordings

I think when it's done right, there will always be a time when the acoustic guitar and a vocal will still be able to be as emotionally powerful as it must have always been. It's an inherently classic sound that I bet will still have a place in whatever fragmented genre's are happening fifty years from now. The End Times are working in that hushed folk sound with patches of darker elements.

A-Side's "A Plea For Recklessness" opens with a nice tangy electric/acoustic guitar and clear right up front vocals from Jennifer Green. This is so clear and her concise trained vocal is in the isolated booth to commit this to tape, candles burning. Singing a lot about kicking some ass and being loud delivered in the opposite quiet assured way she has from the darker corners of a midwest summer porch. The vocal gets doubled and this instrumentation is taking it's time to finally pick up while Jennifer layers in a bunch of harmony. It's all understated, a slow Giant Sand or Calexico sound. There are hints at an older country here, brushes on the snare, knowing they can get loud and explosive but when they strip it all back to just a slight acoustic and this vocal that's the sort of thing that proves what you've really got. If you can go to that personal place AND the immense produced highs then you're onto something.

B-Side's "The Drowning Waltz" drops more of that lonesome acoustic with a piano backing this time. Shakers and slow ride bass is the foundation this time with Jennifer returning with her sweet sounding vocal about really bad things, a massive disconnect being the key here. The slow contemplative instrumentation that supports the giving in feel of not fighting anymore, but making it sound as good as possible because they're sadists? They're the ones that get off on other people's pain right? Cause that's what they do when you start paying attention to the lyric. Slow as possible teetering percussion reminding me of the Spinannes. They keep sweetening this pot with higher sounding tight acoustics or mandolins, soprano sounds that spin this higher and higher but she's made it pretty clear things are damn hopeless.

Nicely screened chipstock sleeves and a great upside down crosses logo. You know they take every possible opportunity to say at every show "These are the End Times!" introducing the apocolypse.

Get it from the band direct.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The M-Tet on Lugnut Records

The Meters began in New Orleans in the early '50's while Art Neville (of the Neville brothers) was still in high school. They are credited today as one of the roots of American Funk and M-Tet started out with the beginning of it all covering this album for a while before coming up with their own material. A perfect plan if this single is any indication.

A-Side's "Number One" has a warm button pushing bass line right in the middle of this. It's the central funky thing that's going to keep everything else in line, not that those dime stops between solos aren't impressive - they are, but you give the bass free reign to roam and it makes a conscious decision to never deviate or go off the rails, just settled, comfortable cruise control bass. Confidently walking down the street pimped out with those goldfish platform shoes, same rhythm, all the same speed while the organ works overtime trying to get your attention. It does - looking good girl, but damn there's that bass again. I hear you drums. Yea your back there slapping away on the tightly wound up kit. There's the guitar stepping out for a second to give this some soul but we want more of that bass. Why wasn't there enough room for a good minute of bass? Did it ever step out and get all flashy? No. Did it need to wind around frets of scales? Never. I have to think that's the direct influence of The Meters baby.

Damn, B-Sides "Bikes" has a real slow groove with major distortion playing the central role here. I hear you bass but the guitar seems to have moved in on this one with attitude. The organ is run through some kind of nice effect or busted leslie speaker that rotates off axis like the earth. They settle in and that guitar gets back to work like a Lee Fields instrumental track. Major breakdown beat alert towards the end of this, makes me want to break out a sampler. When that percussion jumps out for a minute on it's own and you get those big sharp hits? No wonder you just want to hear that on repeat. Worth using up the hi-fi space on that 5mb card for.

No sleeve just like the good old days. Reminds me of that thrift store basement in greenpoint. There's no way that can still be there. That was an education of the seven inch. Another education has been episodes of the Dirty Dirty Podcast from these guys.

Get this from the band direct.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Outfit on Hot Congress Records

The Outfit from Denver seem to be hell bent on delivering a smoking pile of rock and roll. This four piece has noticed a void of thundery riffs in todays musical landscape and energetically fill it with clean distortion and a sense of purpose on this single from Hot Congress Records.

A high treble jangle opens A-Side's "Station Wagon Apocalypse" into a tom see saw jagged rhythm with a fuzzy undertone and harmonics from hovering over the frets. Like the Faint, Eric johnston comes in hard making a real case for this thing. The tracks turns down into a harder sound and that sharp post punk goes metal. They know it's complicated and feels like Franz Ferdinand meets the Make Up, vocally losing it with a slight bit of distortion, making friends in the front row. It's a produced sound with fringe pieces that keep you searching for those obscure references. Mic-ing the hell out of these drums that get heavy when the bomb falls. The edges of this are sharp, the changes are mean, it's all been rehearsed. The verse is repeated about brothers and sisters making me think about that sleeve. It should be a happy family right? What happened.

B-Side's "Tyrannosaurus Surfboard" - Like Don cab titles they're fucking with me. A heavy punk riff comes in with feedback or synth blurps, and Eric is like this otherworldly figure from above his giant hands on everything, a lot darker on this side. The devil made me do it coming through those organ melodies and surf tiki sound, what the hell did that T Rex want with a board anyway, he's surfing magma? Playing with the length they can go to with heavy distortion riffs and reverb solos, plates and springs, metal all coiled up. Eric is equally wound tight here, this thing just gets faster with all cymbals and extra orders of solos.

Get this from Hot Congress Records.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

King Tears Mortuary - "Asleep at the Wheel of Fortune" on Vacant Valley Records

If the number of inserts correlates to the enthusiasm of a band then Melbourne’s King Tears Mortuary are about to implode. Hand colored band fliers, lyric inserts, label listings, all different paper stocks says we really REALLY care about this crazy project. We will spend countless hours putting intricate packaging together and drive any amount of miles to play any venue that will have us because we plan on doing this FOREVER. If the pace and energy on this record is any indication they’re going to need a LOT of stimulants.

I was hoping this cover eluded to some kind of hopped up punk twee inside, like Love Is All meets X-Ray Specs and A-Side's "Grease Trap" confirmed my suspicions. The jangle is tight and blown out, they know just enough about playing together and their history but obviously threw the rest out the window. Completely unhinged like Pens or Divorce they get exactly the sort of chaos they wanted, her vocal is excellent and the guy joining her in the chorus, just the kind of thing that’s exciting to watch let alone listen to. "ABCs" uses feedback and jangle to throw you into this deep vocal with a vibrato that’s louder than anything else like a halloween greaser on stage singing about growing up. A guitar plows through the solo and ends with more feedback which is never accidental. "Flippers" yells right off - I mean how fucking confident could you possibly be? I think they’re talking about a freakshow lady with flippers but she’s stepping all over her own vocals, layered with cheap guitar peaking into the PA in silted perfection.

B-Side’s "Face Blind" has a bass line open into weird distortion and chorus with those manic female vocals, maybe someone else a little more restrained with crafty melody in a squeaky watery chorus. Layered with that Coathangers feel focused on the blown out part nailing these brief perfect moments with one chorus AT 45 RP*&#$%%@M’s
"2manysamz" guy vocals are back with that talky delivery mixed so crazily loud, but insanely youthful and optimistic. "False Pregnancy" ends with jangle and fuzz bass, charged female vocals are back - god she has a fantastic sense of melody I mean there’s nothing that would have you come up with this from the instrumentation, and is completely casual about it - making even better. Like The Unicorns or their dirty cousins carrying around their blanket followed by a cloud of flies. Gets dirtier by the end and feels frayed like they threw up their hands and said we aren't going to ever capture this any better than that last take.
Get this from Vacant Valley Records.