Monday, May 20, 2013
I appreciate a band that can really paint a picture of what to expect with a name alone. On this split with White Slave and Meat Mist I thought I would have a pretty good idea going in but nothing quite prepares you for this assault. There’s nothing like power noise-core to jumpstart a Monday morning.
For the Meat Mist side I had to find their bandcamp to track down the titles to these tracks. It’s appropriately pressed up on black vinyl with hand stamped center labels and not much info on the double-sided sleeve. They make sure to seal this up in those sticky cellophane crackly 7” sleeves that you have to throw away if you ever want to open this thing up again. The first track “What's That Thing You Do?” immediately drives the whole side up into a hissy, static pummeling, I hate to use that word when it comes to super hardcore like this, but it really applies here. The bass and guitar combine into a thick sludge, which doesn’t let the drums through, somehow they've managed to bury the rhythm section under head bashing thunder. The handmade quality of this is winning me over and this deliberate choice to record with as few mics as possible. The third track (I can't even name here it keep messing with the html) goes ultra dark with bent, creaking horror chords and the slowness of Sunn O))). Impenetrable noise with serious bashing and a terrifying screamy vocal making me look differently at the corners of the room. I think that sounds like this exist to remind you that evil exists, don’t get too comfortable ...and not because these guys are the source… if the inverse law of hardcore/punk/metal applies Meat Mist may be the nicest guys ever. There’s always exceptions though and I worry there's going to come a day I go out to see something like this and the band will prove you wrong, no one would blame them, it would be my fault. I'm scaring myself but this soundtrack isn't helping.
White Slave also forced me on a search for track names, and there was no way I’m coming up with any links I want to click on. On “Wet Grave” the drums here are impossibly complex in a hardcore math way, switching up rhythms and even methods of recording in the song. A heavy morbid vocal comes in rough with a plate echo, sounding absolutely like hell to nice effect. They conjure up plastic sounding bashy drums with a trapped in a tiny metal cave vocal.
“Two Way Mirror” pushes the boundaries of rhythm with insane speed past the point where normal people can distinguish a BPM. In the same way that The Velvet Undergrounds hypnotic repetition turns into something else after a while, this dense pile morphs through various forms of chaos, slipping in and out of a distinguishable pattern. The melodic heavy section finally slows down and this dude is yelling like hell. I’m beginning to question that inverse niceness law because those guys in serial killer documentaries aren’t in folk bands. Their huge range of sludge dynamics are an absolute trademark; they employ it across these three tracks, find a drone groove only to bash their way out again with lots of moshing in front of the stage is inevitable.
The inside sleeve has disturbing collages and combines the two names into “Meat Slave"
Both of these guys played in the best named venue of 2013, The Asshole Castle. Got a nice ring to it.
Friday, May 17, 2013
I've learned that no matter how much I try to keep up with seven-inch labels there's just no sense in beating yourself up. Things are going to slip through the cracks. Talking about one single every day simply isn't enough. It's great that there are so many singles being released these days but it's sad when you miss out on gems like this Jacco Gardener single from Trouble in Mind. The 24-year Old Dutch multi-instrumentalist is working on some incredible contemporary psych that reminds me of fellow TIM artist The Resonars who blew me away not long ago with his “Long Long Thoughts” single. Jacco has a similar dense incredibly crafted hazy psych that feels uncannily close to the apex of ‘70s psych.
A-Side’s "Where Will You Go?" has an acoustic strum fading into glorious sun rising psych, beams of lens flaring psych…he’s also literally singing about the sun with reverse sampled drums. It’s like I’ve never heard a string section and vocal match so perfectly in tone that they almost combine into one new thing entirely. A twinkly synth and odd melodies take over with a Middle East inspired chord progression and dreamy piles of shakers and separated channels… if there’s one thing that psych does really well its to create a crazy sense of space. Some of those early tracks from Revolver or Pet Sounds must have been benchmarks to test stereo systems in hi-fi shops. You blow that record out in one of those sound controlled rooms in the back of the store and you’re almost lightheaded right there on your lunch break. This is a dizzying warbly haze of xylophone, swirling distortions, and reverb dial twisting, from plate to spring and back again. Piled on percussion sounds with outlandish arrangements, like the sleeve of his full length Cabinet of Curiosities, you’ve stumbled into an unbelievable place. Who cares about anything but putting this on again.
"Summer's Game" highlights another aspect to psych I almost forgot about, you have to be gifted with a great vocal that can rise up in this high register without any problems and work well in layers. This is perfectly done, and the mastery of every instrument… of piano … harpsichord. Like that story of Keith Richards learning the sitar just for Paint It Black just to say “yea, that’s it I’m done with that mate”. It’s searching for that perfect sound and if it’s this harpsichord well get on with it. Plus with this massive overwhelming sound you have to be able to arrange a string section, if not play it yourself over 24 tracks. It’s an expression of freedom in huge, manifest destiny sound. Here are all the ideas of making music piled into one track. To do that well is impressive if not a miracle… everything is perfectly placed. I haven’t described one single bit of the actual sound here, but rest assured it's perfect brain bending psych. A dictionary perfect example of how far the genre has come and surpasses the original stuff by miles!!!!
Sold out at the source, no surprise, but still available from Insound and Midheaven. Trouble in Mind has just released his full length with both of these tracks as well.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I'm always amazed when I happen to look up the addresses of labels in Brooklyn only to find they're down the street. It really makes this whole record label thing feel like a cozy, local endeavor like visiting the farmers market - only for music. The new Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk started in that window right over there. I could do walking tours and visit the kitchen tables and living rooms where the sleeves were designed, where the records you know and love were packed up. Put bronze plaques on those buildings, print “Maps to the Record Labels”, sell them on the side of the road.
I only say this because I’ve been following Fire Talk Records as they slowly have been building up an impressive catalog with a couple bands I've been hearing more and more about: Tjutjuna and Woodsman and now this limited single that started to ship yesterday from Flower Orgy.
"Our Song" off the A-Side is mic’d close, immediately intimate, its heart pulled out and set on the table in front of you. It’s all emotion with layered harmonies falling in and out of precise waves over this plodding reverb electric with a fuzzy, laid back feel. The vocals take center stage, stripped bare like Hayden, in a storytelling songwriter style crossed with a lot of the imperfections of something familiar like Sebadoh or Dump. It’s focused on the shifting harmonies with an almost psych attention to haze. A comfortable tune you get the hang of right away and sit back, eyes closed in the brushed percussion, because he wouldn't want to wake you. Instantly catchy with all too human details to make sure it won’t be confused with a produced hit and all the feeling to blast out rolled down windows as the sun goes down, turn on the headlights and splatter bugs all over the windshield driving to the desert.*
01. Our Song
02. You Don't Need Me
*I've been checking out Nate Luce and Anna Fusco's travelogue as well which casts new light on this mellow piece of psych.
Get this from Firetalk Records, only 150 pressed.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
When it comes to mathy post hardcore, I don’t even hear the melody on the first couple of passes. Maybe having a very limited experience with playing instruments I have an appreciation for the sheer skill and practice it must take to get to this level of technical playing, and I just get caught up in the virtuosity of the tracks. Add another technically incredible band to the list Regret, The Informer out of Kansas City who just sent in their latest single “Less than three” on Stink Cat Records.
On A-Side’s “Tour De Franzia" it feels like the ghost of At The Drive In is thankfully still rattling around in impressionable skulls. The influence is heavy with dual guitar histrionics and an equally screamy vocal tracked with impossible call and response vocals between members. Choppy alternate tuned guitars split back and forth channel complex constructed melodies and speed hardcore bursts. "LOSING MY MIND!" The yell delivery in every direction, from growly black metal to emo but consistently keeping it reigned into well-constructed off-kilter post hardcore. Haven’t heard anything like this in a long time, with good reason, it takes undeniable devotion to the genre to remotely pull this off "Sleeveless in Seattle" - proof that anyone who can come up with Don Cab names like this has to be ok. They’re fingering crazy melodies in off time signatures, screaming back and forth hinting at a bigger melody but more in love with The Dismemberment Plan sound. It’s an attempt to baffle the listener every measure with their intense attention to detail. This is never going to be background music - this sort of thing takes hold immediately in the front of consciousness. At least with the 7” single there’s some breathing room after these bursts to let it really sink in. They aren’t against experimental tangents either; playing around with a reverse cymbal they have to examine every aspect in an attention to detail anyone can appreciate. Real freaking craftsmen. Like checking out some kind of side of the road chainsaw sculpture only to find it's been inlayed with all kinds of different wood and hand polished. Why would anyone do this except they don’t want to anything else?
B-Side’s "Good Morning Drug" has a pounding pop beat, I’m questioning if this is even the same band. I knew this pop foundation was lurking all along and the yelling starts in with a change back into fragmented post core, the bombs dropping alongside Gatling gun bursts. Extremely complex with an odd feel like its constantly teetering on the edge of a cliff combined with this frantic angst its a nervous gut wrenching trip with a lot of emotion to take in. Abstract as shit vocals, you’ll have to find your own way through this minefield of verse but they mean business. I also like this great sleeve that’s weirdly wax coated paper with lyrics and a hidden track of subtle backwards-static collage. They keep pulling out tricks like these, swapping genres. Magic.
Get this from Stink Cat Records.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
There's a sweet spot in reworking a grunge-influenced sound in a successful way. The echo's of that scene stay relevant when combined with experimental noise in a nod to the pop construction and the dreaded apocalyptic future. Being able to straddle both of those worlds is where this single from Psychic Blood gets interesting. A handwritten note says they just came from touring with Nu Sensae, another important clue in locating the blown out noise wrestled into recognizable melody sound they achieve.
A-Side "Drrrty" counts off to a wall of dense feedback of spazz strum noise literally setting that noise bar right up the poles with a high pitch ‘eeeee’ distortion from a duo of guitars. Thick chord melody then breaks out of this solid tone and echo’s that thundery northwestern chunk sound. From murky logging camps to deserted rocky beaches. A different evolution of Norwegian metal, a similar condensed scene, a permutation that ended in a similar but different place. Psychic Blood and Nu Sensae are carrying on some of the things that These Are Powers or Health were doing from their beginnings. A sound continued through hardcore punk and knee weakening solid waveforms of upper register distortion in unison, the guitars lining up into something uniformly punchy. All that energy and spirit of hardcore punk, introducing ear piercing noise in an ultimate homage to chaos.
B-side “Bed Head" opens with a bass line, before committing to the melting tones of overworked distortion. Psychic Blood could be compared to the fuzzy alternative style of Sonic Youth, its influence heavy on this track, only the vocal here has a panicked delivery, instead of Thurston’s cool detachment. They put their time in to get a great capture of the treble heavy kit and giant room snare. Everything is working on separate plains, layering in thick guitars without becoming too drone or sludgy. Bending the hell out of the screeching string tones and going back to torturing it. I hear a lot of that Seattle sound from the fringe groups in the scene, mostly because this is centered around the guitar and an anti-rock, angsty, fed up sound. It doesn't want the danger of hardcore punk speed, but is enjoying rolling over and getting into the abuse, turning the tables on this ugly sound to whip it into shape, intent on coming up with something new.
Looks like Psychic Blood has spent plenty of time recently in 7inches favorite venue's 285 Kent and Silent Barn. Pick this up on Nerve Hold Records, out friends up north. There's a mediafire download as well if you don't just can't get a local copy of this.
Monday, May 13, 2013
I sat down a couple weeks back to talk with Keith from Scioto Records to talk about the split his band, The Black Swans did with legendary folk psych artist Ed Askew. He and a bandmate Jerry ended up producing and engineering Ed's latest unreleased record which should come out later this year. We talked about some of his other incredible releases including a Brian Harnetty single based on the archival recordings from Sun Ra which he turned into an installation at Riffe gallery in Columbus. Scioto is branching out into cassette releases and possibly even full length records in the future but look for a single from Enon/Blonde Redhead Toko Yasuda's PLVS VLTRA in the coming months.
I'm anxious to cover these singles shortly but had to get the backstory about this experimental, avant-rock label and have since picked up a couple of these great shirts as well.
The tracks you'll hear during the interview are Food Service "Golden Buckeye", Ed Askew "My Best Friend", The Black Swans "Noctilucent Angel", Brian Harnetty “Hamm, are you there?”and The Caribbean "The 65 Cent Dinner", all available at Scioto Records.
You can stream the interview below or download the MP3 here (22mb)
Friday, May 10, 2013
You can never judge a single by its cover…especially when its something like this abstract cut up photo pattern on the Feral Children single from Leaning Tree Records.
The random crate digging through new submissions reminds me of the days before the Internet when I spent my heard earned money on cover art alone. This unassuming cut and paste psych design could be describing basically anything and I think that’s why I had to put it on, the possibilities of where this could be going were too much to bear.
Feral Children delivered on A-Side’s "Reverb" which to invoke its name might even be going to far? It shouldn’t even be written, its just re-erb, the holiest of holy sounds. Catchy drums, weird soaring and crashing guitar tones in an AM loop caught between two melodies. The vocals trapped in the top of this net of new wave manic sound. This could be worrisome… nervous chatter over lush repetition and this lyric 'REVERB!" in a dance groove and then forgetting that this should be something to dance to. There’s a hint of warble when the vocals get passionate about where this should be going but it’s nothing compared to this warped tape melodic loop that’s coming from another place entirely. Like a piled up sample that’s never been processed, let’s say, anti-mastered to keep the hissy layers between takes. There’s a decidedly lo-fi feel to the bleeps here, as they fade out the bit rate reduces into gritty square groans and glitchy spirals. That makes this all the more exciting, listening to the residual electronics piled around. You didn't even know it until it started to leave. Like the Netflix stream that's given up on supporting the audio track, it's a hard edge mess of robotic vocals hanging onto this instrumentation.
B-Side’s "Ancient videotape" reveals mellow loops of guitar notes, slow keys and even breathier vocals with explosions of choral high notes pinging into each other like this possible violin? Stretches of fast, quick notes work against this Tortoise like instrumental (the band, it’s also a slow tempo) and ghostly vocal. A repeating electric deftly holds this together with high notations weaving around while a subtle, hardly tapped out kick beat softy pounds. On this side Feral Children have gone in an almost instrumental Explosions direction in that timid delivery waiting for a massive release. Like You Forgot It In People the magic with these two tracks is how they can find a commonality in such different jumping off points. They make this feel cohesive from what should be a split from two different bands. It’s a weird mellow charm like Rex that can be so comforting… and on a B-side where the flip had muddled indie dance creeping back on the scene. Where the heck are these guys from? (Sakatoon! - ed) (NOT THE SEATTLE FERAL CHILDREN - ed)
It's one dollar fifty cents from Leaning Trees Records! Get this.