Apr 30, 2010

The Casual Dots. The Casual Dots.

1 Blurt

This quite often ends up being the album I put on when I can't decide what I want to listen to. It's cool-people-hanging-out music.

Christine Billotte (Autoclave, Slant 6, Quix*o*tic), Kathi Wilcox (Bikini Kill, The Frumpies), and Steve Dore (Deep Lust) create blithe, laid-back pop that’s lean and seductive. Produced by Fugazi's Guy Picciotto, the group weaves an indie-garage-lullaby out of a casually complex dual-guitar interplay, and a propulsive backbeat that lets Christina’s gorgeous, smoky voice lead the way.

They’re by no means folk, but the songs have a Woody-Guthrie-punk quality to them in their own indie-populist way. I would like to have attended the grade school that sang Mama’s Gonna Bake Us a Cake alongside This Land Is Your Land. Despite (or perhaps because of) years in the trenches, they managed to appear with a unique, fully realized sound that none of their previous bands would prepare you for. While genre-hopping from leftist punk, to classic blues (the marvelous Bumblebee), to surf rock instrumentals, they manage to stiffen everything up, giving it a backbone and a little swagger as it marches along with their own distinctive stride.


Apr 29, 2010

V/A. Cambodian Casette Archives. Khmer Folk & Pop.

0 Blurts

A wild and wonderful collection of Cambodian pop culled from mostly unidentified tapes found in the Asian Branch of the Oakland Public Library in California. Covering recordings from the 60’s through the 90’s, it’s a
blend of folk and pop stylings - Cha-Cha Psychedelia, Phase-shifting Rock, sultry circle dance standards, pulsing Cambodian new wave, haunted ballads, musical comedy sketches, Easy-Listening numbers and raw instrumental grooves presented in an eclectic variety of production techniques. Male and female vocalists share the spotlight, embellished by roller rink organ solos, raunchy guitar leads and MIDI defying synthesizers.

Despite the wide range, the album plays as a very cohesive whole, and it’s slinky, funky, and fun as hell throughout.

Cassette Archives

Apr 28, 2010

Noseflutes. Several Young Men Ignite Hardboard Stump.

1 Blurt

The Noseflutes had a more open sound than other death to trad rock bands. The bludgeoning density of Bogshed or The Membranes is replaced by an elaborate clockwork of rotating, interlocking musical tines that sound just as likely to poke you sharply in the eye as create a song. It’s everywhere as twisted and knotty and challenging as you would expect, and Martin Longley’s caustic lyrics and vocals take on a lot more prominence than you usually hear on these things. Elsewhere, they add a keening violin and spooky accordion to songs that constantly sound like they’re snagged on something and trying to pull free.

They manage to cover a lot of distinctive territory without making any of the songs feel repetitive. Like a lot of other bands in this genre, their weirdness seems to come naturally, which makes even the odder aspects easier to relate to. I never get the sense that they’re acting up just for the sake of it (even if the underground scene was a direct reaction to the “listless meringue peddlars” then ruling the airwaves). I think this is just how they hear things.

Several Young Men

Legs Akimbo on myspace

Apr 24, 2010

The Golden Dawn. My Secret World.

0 Blurts

Sarah 009
Released: 1988
01: My Secret World
02: Spring-Heeled Jack
03: The Railway Track

Secret World

Apr 23, 2010

Palm Fabric Orchestra. Vague Gropings in the Slip Stream.

3 Blurts

Some of the best music I’ve ever heard came in snatches from passing cars, or fell from apartments, muffled and crumbling in the rich sonic mulch of the city.

This is the music that wafts through open windows. It’s a masterpiece of floating moods and textures that richly evokes the feeling of being adrift—in nature, in sleep, in life—calm, accepting, and sensual. Like feeling the pulse of the ocean making space in itself for the shape of your unmoored body. Vague Gropings in the Slip Stream works just as well as a review as it does a title. Its gentle, acoustic ambience drifts like dandelion seeds, or swells and ripples like prairie grass in the wind. It’s wordless, though not without vocals, and Susan Voelz’ violin works some kind of magic with Ellen Fullman’s “long stringed instrument”, weaving luminous drones throughout several songs (If you’re familiar with Volo Volo, that’s her playing on the almost otherworldly Entrance and Endtrance). And Frank Orrall’s guitar has the same kind of happy nonchalance that Mark McGuire has been playing with on his solo acoustic releases.

I should probably mention that this album was a side project of Poi Dog Pondering, one of my favorite bands when I was in high school and college. There were bands that I idolized (like the Cure or the Velvet Underground), and then there were bands that I would have actually wanted to be in, and being in Poi Dog Pondering sounded like it would have been one of the most exuberantly wonderful things you could do.

Orrall, who once portrayed "Happy-Go-Lucky Guy" in the film Slacker, managed to write incredibly catchy songs about how awesome being alive feels without any of them being the absolutely gag-inducing shit-fests that would imply. Also, a lot of the songs were pretty filthy (Pulling Touch, Diamonds and Buttermilk). It’s ridiculously happy stuff that doesn’t think feeling ridiculously happy is anything to be ashamed of. Irony doesn’t exist for Poi Dog Pondering. Even some of their best songs (Complicated and God’s Gallipoli from Pomegranate) put relentlessly danceable music behind tales of cancer and loss and death—not as a joke, but as an acknowledgement that eventually life will be your adversary, and that, although you want to live as much of it as possible, sometimes the only weapon you’ll have left against it is joy.

Slip Stream

Apr 22, 2010

Jackdaw With Crowbar. Hot Air.

0 Blurts

Hot Air splits nearly equally between absurdist, political, jump-cut, Dada wailers (A specialty on Ron Johnson. See also: The Membranes, A Witness, Pigbros, The Shrubs, The Noseflutes, and Bogshed. In fact, Tris King, Bogshed’s drummer was also in Jackdaw With Crowbar, as was Wilf from Dog Faced Hermans) and post-punk dub workouts assembled in Tom Waits’ junkyard. Weirdly, it works.

Their live shows were immersive multimedia events, with the band playing within projections of experimental films made especially for them. Apparently they’ve reformed, inspired by the ease and immediacy of laptop production (gigs in the 80’s often had to wait while their film maker spliced broken reels back together in the tour van), so look for their gigs if you live in the Leamington area.

Hot Air



Apr 20, 2010

V/A. The Rhythm of Rabies.

2 Blurts

This was a mix CD I made for my girlfriend a while ago. As much as possible, it’s fantastically unhinged garage bands, heavy on the rawk. I had intended it to be all women or female fronted bands, but I ran out about two thirds of the way through, although I think their contributions still come out on top. Shrag do a wonderfully snotty song about the horrors of pregnancy. The Cosmopolitans sound like a primitive B-52’s with a song about their giant cat. Shitt Hottt were exactly that. Miss Pussycat, of Quintron &…, is possibly my favorite singer, ever. Completely guileless. When, for no apparent reason, they throw in a verse of the Jefferson’s theme song, you’ll either be on your knees in awe, or giving them a standing ovation. If you ever get a chance to see them live, do. Miss Pussycat even puts on a puppet show.

1. Pregnancy Scene - Shrag
2. Bumblebee - The Casual Dots
3. Can’t Explain – The A-Lines
4. Wild Moose Party – The Cosmopolitans
5. Ungawa – Chow Nasty
6. Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen
7. Bad Girl – The Detroit Cobras
8. Going Outside My Head – Thee Headcoats
9. Your Room – The New Rags
10. 1-2-3-Go! – The Violettes
11. Boxx DamageShitt Hottt
12. Cafeteria RockThe Rondelles
13. Fly Like a Rat – Quintron and Miss Pussycat
14. Rockin’ Date – The Micragirls
15. What’s the Signal? – Fuck-Off Machete
16. Blew My Baby AwayThe Tears
17. Jammin’ the Wedge – Bald Eagle
18. SnakebiteThem Wranch
19. All Across the World – The Fuse!
20. WhoyouknowMcLusky
21. Strong Mental Night – Guitar Wolf
22. Heat Lightnin’Tuscadero
23. Crackin Up – Moe Tucker
24. Run Cold – Holly Gologhtly
25. Don’t Know Why – Mr. Airplane Man
26. Emulsified – Yo La Tengo
27. Private Idaho – The B-52’s
28. NYC’s Like a Graveyard – The Moldy Peaches (full band electric version)
29. Mr. Chang – Cobra Killer

Rhythm Part 1
Rhythm Part 2

Apr 19, 2010

King of the Slums. Barbarous English Fayre.

1 Blurt

Sometimes the when and the where are just as important as the what. I first heard King Of The Slums on a Walkman as I wandered along a canalbank in Wigan through the teeth of a winter evening downpour. What I heard slotted into the moment perfectly. . . though I'd heard nothing remotely like it before.

Sour, twisted guitars framing austere power-riffs, a lone violin sobbing to itself on the outskirts of melody, and that voice; cold and desperate as an Ancoates drizzle, informing me that he would disappear up his own backside or end up breeding whippets.

'The Pennine Spitter', along with 11 other excellent reasons why KOTS are one of the most compelling bands on the planet, is here on this summation of the band's career to date. 'Barbarous English Fayre' is a rasping litany of tattoos, gasworks, shaving cuts and squeaking prams. A haunting, savage voyage into the underbelly of English life.

For England, and specifically the North, is the love / hate object they return to constantly. It's this obsession, and subsequent use of images like Britannia, The Union Jack and Enoch Powell, that has seen them occasionally smeared as fascists. This is a dim and insulting slur. KOTS sing of this country entirely without gloss and sentiment, without political hectoring but with an ironic and trenchant realism.

In 'Bombs Away On Harpurhey' they explode the myth of Thatcher's 'go for it' culture (as if it needed exploding) with a sparking, snarling grace. In 'Venerate Me Utterly' the shabby dreams of the luckless are evoked brilliantly. Love, ambition, failure, all are viewed with the same pitiless, sardonic eye.

The absence of a lyric sheet may prevent you from realising that Charlie Keigher is the best unknown lyricist in Britain. Ordinary phrases ('Mere slip of a lad', 'You're not much to look at') are invested with a new and menacing meaning while the music has an alien beauty all its own.

The new stuff is stunning. 'Up To The Fells' is as wild and sombre as its title. 'Full Speed Ahead' is their most powerful and direct statement yet. It might even be a hit. Ha!

Forget the Euro art-bores and the pimply Yank college boys, outside of the mainstream King Of The Slums are practically peerless. In five years' time you'll be claiming you loved them. So do it now.

Stuart Maconie, 1989 NME Review

Barbarous English Fayre

KOTS website

KOTS on myspace

Apr 17, 2010

Sea Urchins. Solace.

0 Blurts

Sarah 008
Released: July 1988
01: Solace
02: Please Rain Fall


Sea Urchins on myspace

Apr 16, 2010

Sovetskaya Gone. Sovetskaya Gone.

0 Blurts

I came across this a couple of years ago and it instantly became of my favorites. Kevin Danchisko is a genius at creating endlessly fractalized abysses of cycling, shifting drones and golden tones. This self-titled tape coats blissful glacial fields with an analog glaze of synapse-frying, minimal psychedelia. Whether igniting a de-orbit burn into crackling, minimal dub space, or sending telegraph signals from the dream-like ambience of Twin Peaks, Sovetskaya Gone sounds like it’s choreographing a Skylab waltz among the stars. It’s music that exists only in crystal fracture planes—the sound of the infra-thin, that stretches to infinity when experienced head on but disappears entirely at right angles.

Look for an Ossining and Sovetskaya Gone vinyl outing on Digitalis in the near future.

Get Gone

Sovetskaya's Blog

Sovetskaya on myspace

Apr 13, 2010

R.E.M. So Much Younger Then.

3 Blurts

R.E.M. are right at the top of my list of Bands Who Have Wronged Me1. Once arguably the greatest band on the planet, they have long since passed the point where my girlfriend now insists they died in a tragic plane crash shortly after the release of Automatic for the People. Sadly, the record company—not wanting to let go of a good thing—hired a bunch of look-a-likes and let them release a shitty faux-grunge/glam record (which, had he heard it, might have inspired Kurt Cobain to point the gun in the other direction). When it was clear that Monster was destined to pave landfills all across America, they dug around in the vaults and managed to drop the last of the original band's great songs (Electrolite, Leave) into an otherwise flat and annoying record. R.E.M. Version 2 trundled on, hiding their surrogate status by acting like such monumentally entitled assholes that no one would want to talk to them.


I remember before Monster came out that R.E.M. were talking about how they were going to put away the mandolins and string sections and just make a rock record like they would have done back in the beginning. Needless to say, Monster was not that record. This should have been that record. I remember being so excited, because I'd picked up this bootleg a couple of years before and knew how shit hot they were before they even had a record deal. So Much Younger Then captures them onstage sometime in 1981, probably at Tyrone's, absolutely destroying with a whole set of songs that never made it onto any of their official albums. I still can't fathom why they never put these out. Sure, Chronic Town and Murmur turned out to be masterpieces of new southern gothic, but these songs could have easily caused just as much of a stir had they been their first release.

So Much Younger Then exemplifies so much of what used to make R.E.M. special—fantastic tunes, a wicked sense of humor, and the ability to play like a band on fire. Just listen to them burn through these songs like they were already superstars. As great as they went on to be, they may never have topped this night.

1. Body Count
2. A Different Girl
3. Action
4. Narrator (for the Jacques Cousteau Show)
5. She's Such a Pretty Girl
6. Baby I
7. Permanent Vacation
8. Wait
9. Scheherezade
10. Liza Sez
11. Mystery To Me
12. I Don't Want You Anymore
13. Little Girl
14. Dangerous Times

1. Also on the list, Belle & Sebastian, They Might Be Giants, Smashing Pumpkins, and Poi Dog Pondering. Currently "on notice"? Of Montreal. God, but that last album managed to suck and blow at the same time.

I'm not talking about a band who just isn't as good as it used to be (like The Cure, or The Breeders) that still insists on putting out albums that are sad shadows of their former selves. Bands Who Have Wronged Me have actively worked to destroy and deny all that once made me love them. I can forgive a band for running out of steam, for putting out a boring album, or just trying to cash in on past glory. But when a formerly great band decides to take a big steaming dump on their art, their legacy, and their potential, and then insist they're doing the greatest work of their career and that we should all be nicer to them...well, that just makes me enraged.

2. The back of the album lists one more song, A Girl Like You, but for whatever reason, it doesn't actually appear on the record. Supposedly there is a companion bootleg called Georgia Peaches—Ripe! that continues the show, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere.

So Much Younger Then

Apr 12, 2010

The Goodwillies. Greenmachines for All the Childrens.

2 Blurts

Tim Goodwillie is one third of (VxPxC). This is one of his solo releases, a washed out, sun bleached, outer-space groove decay of keyboard and guitar distortions. Digital fluff and flutter for the summer heat.


Goodwillies on myspace

Apr 10, 2010

Another Sunny Day. I'm In Love With A Girl Who Doesn't Know I Exist.

0 Blurts

Sarah 007
Released: July, 1988
01: I'm In Love With A Girl Who Doesn't Know I Exist
02: Things Will Be Nice
03: The Centre Of My Little World

I'm In Love

Apr 9, 2010

The Field Mice. Demos & Peel Sessions.

1 Blurt

1. Life Without You (Demo)
2. As fas as I Can See (Demo)
3. And You Say You Don't Care (Demo)
4. In the End (Demo)
5. Any Minute Now (Demo)
6. From Here On In (Demo)
7. All I Do (Demo)
8. Loveless Love (from the Something's Burning In Paradise Again tape)
9. A Heart Disease Called Love (Demo)
10. Runaway (Demo)
11. Right as Rain (Demo)
12. I Really Don't Mind (Demo)
13. I Wish I Meant More to You (Demo)
14. Little One (Demo)
15. Can't Think Straight (Demo)
16. Anoint (Peel Session)
17. Sundial (Peel Session)
18. Fresh Surroundings (Peel Session)
19. By Degrees (Peel Session)

Demos Part 1
Demos Part 2

Apr 6, 2010

The Flatmates. Radio Sessions.

1 Blurt

Found these while digging through some old CDs. It was just labeled "radio sessions" but the last half of them have the distinct whiff of demos. I don't think New York City Surf Song has shown up anywhere else.

1. Thinking of You (Peel Session)
2. Tell Me Why (Peel Session)
3. Happy All the Time (Peel Session)
4. Love Cuts (Peel Session)
5. When I’m with You (Janice Long Session)
6. Everyday (Buddy Holly cover) (Janice Long Session)
7. I Wanna Be with Him (Janice Long Session)
8. My Empty Head (Janice Long Session)
9. Tell Me Why (1/86)
10. So In Love with You (1/86)
11. Crazy Town (1/13/86)
12. On My Mind (1/13/86)
13. Instrumental (1/13/86)
14. Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground cover) (10/85)
15. New York City Surf Song (10/85)
16. No Fun (10/85)
17. I Don’t Care (10/85)
18. Out of Love (10/85)

Radio Sessions

Apr 5, 2010

Les Rallizes Dénudés. Heavier Than a Death In the Family.

2 Blurts

Haters might say they only know one song, but Jesus Fucking Christ, what a song. They certainly play it like it's the only one anyone will ever need to know. Mizutani discovered how to mainline a migraine and make it a mystical experience. For a band that primarily exists as legend, it's a relief (and a wonder) to discover that they might be the only group that live up to (and exceed) the rumors.

The guitar is a thunderhead of coruscating, liquid white light; loud like nature. Mizutani's cool, detached vocals are so drenched and buried in reverb, they sound like they're being reflected off a thousand smashed mirrorballs. The bass and drums keep everything locked down by playing sub-genius to the guitar's solarized brilliance. Like—if a bass made only one noise that signified itself, if it were its own symbol on a one to one scale and whacking it with your hand made it say its own name; or hitting a drum made it say "drum" in its own hammer-stupid simplicity (not even like having found the primal groove or universal beat; just a satisfyingly, idiot simple thump). It's the Louie Louie oversoul.


Apr 2, 2010

Wingdings III. Symbol of Infinity.

1 Blurt

Much sharper and more rockist than most other neo-somnambulists, this is possibly the densest and most psychedelic of the three Wingdings releases. It's also my favorite. I especially love the Sha-Na-Na echoplex calliope 8:30 into Side A, followed by the partially sentient Commodore 64's built-from-memory approximation of The Association's Everyone Knows It's Windy. Side B is similarly awash in subliminal memories of tunes that have been peeled and re-fitted over Wingdings' unique framework (the best being The Walk/Japanese Whispers era Cure pastiche at 8:40), like an alien borrowing someone else's face.

Symbol of Infinity