Jan 28, 2010

Dumptruck. D is for Dumptruck.

1 Blurt

Dumptruck hailed from the early 80’s Boston music scene, but sounded more like their southern gothic counterparts, R.E.M. (by way of Joy Division), or the Feelies if they had been factory workers. Hovering between knotty art-punk and jangly college rock, they had a certain melodic dryness that—coupled with Kirk Swan and Seth Tiven’s deadpan vocals—gave them a rather alienated, dejected sound. They’re not necessarily singing about depressing things, it’s just that they sound like two people who have spent too much time in abandoned places. Which, from an artistic standpoint, can be a good thing. The guitar and bass have their own moods—sometimes working in concert, sometimes competing, at and other times just ignoring each other altogether. The singing could be described as flat if it weren’t for their odd vocal inflections and the way they stress unexpected parts of their lyrics—things that seem like they don’t need pointing out. The words rarely rhyme, although they feel like they do, and they never quite sync up with the music. It’s a surprisingly effective conceit that somehow ends up investing the songs with a tension and ambiguity that only registers unconsciously.

The reissue adds live tracks that show the band in a more confident setting, revisiting these songs with a lot more energy and flirting with a countrified Mission of Burma sound.

D is For...

Dumptruck on myspace

Dumptruck website

Jan 22, 2010

The Primitives. Lovely.

1 Blurt

Crash, I'll Stick With You, and Way Behind Me give me the oddest feeling of déjà vu. I'm sure I've heard them in some distant past by some other band. Surely these are indie pop updates of some long-lost, 60's girl group, or at least the work of a Flatmates cover band? That feeling can either mean that The Primitives tapped into a truly incandescent vein of musical history, or that they're hopelessly derivative. Aside from a few people slagging them off as sub-par Blondie clones, most listeners think it's the former.

Lead singer Tracy Tracy has a voice as quintessentially sweet and dreamy as a sundress, and reportedly kicked their original drummer out of the band for mistreating her cats (twee as fuck, baby!). The only thing revolutionary about them is that they might have started the whole "female-fronted-dream-pop-band" phenomenon that was to become the standard template up through the pre-Nirvana 90s. Outside of the infinitely superior Black Tambourine, Lovely may be the genre's best moment (if you can call a particular gender ratio a genre...which you can't). Stop Killing Me, for example, is the type of song that makes you think of the rush of teenage sexual joyrides (Morrissey was a fan), but is clearly made by people who thought that what the Jesus & Mary Chain needed was to huff Pixie Sticks instead of motorcycle exhaust. Elsewhere, they bring to mind the confident power-pop of The Siddeleys.

Despite some excellent songwriting, instantly accessible tunes (I defy you not to love Crash), and a whole bunch of catchy bah-bah-bah choruses, The Primitives never quite captured this feeling again. They broke up after two more (less than well received) albums.

Download Got a DMCA complaint about this. Sorry. Thought it was out of print.

The Primitives on myspace

Jan 21, 2010

Liquid Liquid. Liquid Liquid.

0 Blurts

Bass and drum (though not drum n' bass). Skeletal, tribal, punk-funk that's slinkier and tighter than a line of blow off the Thin White Duke's thin, white ass.

Liquid Liquid bubbled up from that period in early 80's New York when disco, rap, punk, no wave, and the cacophony of the street merged into a new mutant sound. Like Homer Simpson's demand that BTO just get to the chorus in Taking Care of Business, Liquid Liquid (and their labelmates ESG and the Bush Tetras) just wanted to find the core of a song—the part that jiggled the jello in your brain goo—and let it ride. Distilling drums, cowbells, Latin congas, Fela Kuti's afrobeat marathons, reggae, gamelan, and whatever rhythm the kids were banging out in the park, Liquid Liquid pounded out a hypnotic groove that's echoed through the Talking Heads, PIL, !!!, LCD Soundsystem, and Mi Ami.

Liquid Liquid

Liquid Liquid on myspace

Official website

Jan 20, 2010

Doddodo. Limited Express & Marousa Splits.

0 Blurts

She's a dada-core glee-club, here to give your hard drive a new haircut.

Splits

Official site (in Japanese)

Doddodo on myspace

Jan 16, 2010

Doddodo. Donomichi.

0 Blurts

Like a bag full of overly caffeinated ninja-weasels running riot over a roomfull of broken casios, slicing and splicing thirty years of hip-hop/electro/noise, Doddodo has no use for genres or conventions. Public Enemy, Austrian waltzes, Add N to (x), harpsichords, random sound samples, and cartoon music get gleefully fed into a plunderphonic blender until they come out sounding like the Sound of Music fed through "Willy Wonka's Nightmare Emporium and Pants Shittery".



Only....a lot more fun.

Donomichi

Official site (in Japanese)

Doddodo on myspace

Jan 15, 2010

Doddodo. Sample Bitch Story.

0 Blurts

I normally don't repost stuff I just found on other blogs (h/t Autofunction), but this was so insanely good, I couldn't resist it. Once again, using nothing but a sampler and a casio keyboard, some Japanese kid manages to make an album so immensely fun that it obliterates everything else. Celtic flutes, calliope music, old-school record scratching, j-pop, rap, and video game music gets spliced and layered overtop a frenzy of stellar break beats that might be what the Boredoms would have sounded like if they'd been around in early 80's New York during the mutant disco/rap/no wave scene.

I've tracked down a couple more albums that I'll be posting in the coming days.

Sample Bitch

Official site (in Japanese)

Doddodo on myspace

Jan 13, 2010

Marine Girls. Lazy Ways and Beach Party.

0 Blurts

Inspired by the Young Marble Giants' minimalism and The Raincoats' DIY experimentalism, Tracy Thorn formed the Marine Girls with school chums Gina and Jane Fox (later replaced by Jane's younger sister Alice) in 1980. After selling a homemade tape to close friends, the group recorded Beach Party for the Whaam! label. Painfully naive, innocent and raw, Beach Party is like a stubby pencil sketch of their hero's sound. It makes The Softies sound like Led Zeppelin in comparison. The trio didn't know any drummers, so the only percussion to be found is the tapping of the occasional woodblock. Focusing solely on their sparse, out of tune vocals and a strummed guitar, Beach Party is nevertheless bouncy and sprightly, with a number of twee pop classics like In Love, Flying over Russia, and Honey.

Lazy Ways followed a couple of years later. Produced by Stuart Moxham, it sounded almost professional in comparison with their first album. The charming, homemade clatter of Beach Party is replaced by a softer, more polished intimacy. By this time, Tracy had gone off to college and could only record with the band on holidays. They split up around the same time this was released, with Jane and Alice forming Grab Grab the Haddock, and Tracy finding fame and fortune with Everything But the Girl.

Beach Party
Lazy Ways

Marie Girls on myspace

Jan 12, 2010

Landing. Centrefuge.

0 Blurts

We spent a couple of years in Landing's home base of Connecticut, so I was lucky enough to see them live a number of times. At house party at Dave Longstreth's place, The Dirty Projectors , Mount Eerie, and D+ played acoustic sets in the middle of the bare living room. Phil Elverum tried to teach us a slow stomp...stomp...clap rhythm to accompany one of his songs, but as we tried it everyone burst into laughter as we collectively realised we'd slipped into doing Queen's We Will Rock You instead.

I guess because they'd brought all of their instruments and needed a better electrical hookup, Landing played in the basement. It was tiny and the band took up most of the available space. The rest of us were packed in like cordwood. I was about a foot away from Adrienne Snow. It felt weird staring her in the face so I just closed my eyes. Everyone was reverentially silent and as they started to play, the room and all the people in it just evaporated. Even listening to them on record feels like wearing the Aurora Borealis as a blanket. You're both embraced and dissolved. They make perfect company with Seefeel, Harmonia, Cluster, and Harold Budd, so if you're into those sorts of drifting, midnight-deep pools of sound, this EP will be exactly your sort of thing.

Centrefuge

Landing on myspace

Landing's website

Jan 11, 2010

Labradford. Prazision LP.

0 Blurts

It starts by hemorrhaging sound. Some type of deep space satellite has sprung a leak and a bottomless ocean of electronic scree is seeping out into the universe.

Switching between dissonant drone (Listening In Depth's layers of looped feedback) and cloudy ambience (Disremembering's shades Stars of the Lid or ambient Cocteau Twins), Labradford instantly made a name for themselves as the flagship release on Kranky (soon to become well known for this type of updated, experimental space-rock). Think of Loop covering Cluster, and you have the basic idea. Of course, you can also hear a bit of Landing, Aix Em Klemm, Pan•American, and some of the Cure's best minor key atmospherics. And nestled right in the middle of all this static is Soft Return, whose pillowy instrumentation and whispered vocals sound like Spiritualized on some sort of cosmic quaalude comedown. It's a divine, Sunday morning pop song by any standard and easily the best thing they've done.

Prazision

Buy the reissue with bonus track

Labradford online

Labradford on myspace

Jan 6, 2010

I Am the World Trade Center. Out of the Loop.

0 Blurts

Things did not work out so well for I Am the World Trade Center. First, there's perhaps the unluckiest choice in band names, ever (The name and this album existed before the attacks. Also, the title of track number 11? September. Oooooo, spooky) and then singer Amy Dykes was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma (last I heard, she was in remission, thankfully). I notice that their website is gone and their myspace page hasn't been updated since 2008, so I assume they've retired. Such dour associations unfairly color their actual output of groovalicious tweetronica.

This is charming, roller-disco, bedroom dance music that probably had heads bobbing at the indie record store that went out of business five years ago, but never saw a sweaty body slamming on a dancefloor. They were on Kindercore, after all. Amy has a sweet voice that makes me think of an off-kilter Debbie Harry, and Daniel Geller constructs some terrifically catchy loops that bring to mind the frothy reveries of St. Etienne trying to produce a Ladytron record. Everything is jam-packed with jolly, bleepy sounds and bouncing, squiggly keyboard chirps. It's unabashed, homemade fun, like an Etsy version of New Order.

Out of the Loop

IATWTC on myspace

Jan 5, 2010

Boris. Smile. Live at Wolf Creek.

0 Blurts

Back when I was in film school—a thousand years ago—the reigning theory was that Godzilla represented a nuclear-age version of divine punishment. Japan's shame for a "dishonorable" sneak-attack on Pearl Harbor and ultimately for losing the war is paid for through Godzilla—who is both created by the bombs dropped on the island and periodically revisits that destruction upon them. Of course, Godzilla is also seen as a tragic hero by the Japanese, something that doesn't make sense if he is only there to punish them. It's likely that he doubles as a figure for Japan's post-war feelings of powerlessness—feelings that it cannot act out turned inwards towards themselves.

As a band that sounds like they may have been breast-fed by Black Sabbath, Boris have always walked with a dinosaur sized footprint, steadily redefining what it means to be heavy on countless records and eps. Veering from gravity-warping, sludge-tastic drone to their trademark garage-rock, psych-metal sound (all motorcycle chains and black exhaust), Boris have their monster heart set on tearing the knobs off the amplifiers and sonically pummeling you into gooey rapture. Captured live, they tear hell for leather through an album full of hook-laden, riff-shredding, head-banging, devil-horns-hands-in-the-air, rawk. Absolutely brutal takes on Buzz-In and Pink are larded with atmospheric drones and a gorgeous, fragile rendition of Rainbow.

But then...oh god...then they got to the final two tracks—a transcendent, near-thirty-minute exploration of [ ] preceded by You Were Holding an Umbrella—that positively crush everything that came before them. I don't know what Umbrella is actually about, but if Godzilla himself had composed a song to capture the interplay between his heartbreaking sorrow at having to destroy his homeland and his radiant pride in restoring its honor by being an agent of divine retribution and national seppuku, he couldn't have done a better job. This song could raze entire cities.

It's a double album, but the second disk was too big to fit into one download, so I had to split it up.

Disc 1
Disc 2.1
Disc 2.2

Boris' official website

Boris on myspace