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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

David Moss Dense Band - Live in Europe

Name: David Moss Dense Band
Album: Live In Europe
Year: 1988
Style: Experimental, Avant-Garde
Similar Bands: John Zorn, Brand X, Secret Chiefs 3, Fantomas, Mr. Bungle
"One Word" Review - Schizophrenic Asian Racquetball 
Based Out Of: NYC, NY
Label: Ear-Rational
 Live in Europe - Cover & Record
Live in Europe - Back & Record
Live In Europe (1988)

  1. Two to Three to Tango 4:07
  2. Re-Shuffle 4:09
  3. Day to Climb 4:20
  4. Full Step 4:18
  5. Glider 3:18 /
  6. Neural Sense 4:31
  7. Song of the Possible 4:43
  8. Slant Lines 5:38
  9. Slow Talking 5:17
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
David Moss - Drums, Vox (Bill Dixon Ensemble, The Golden Palominos, Denseland, Direct Sound, The Markus Stauss Project, Meltable Snaps It, Paul Brody's Detonation Orchaestra, John Zorn, Uri Cane)
Wayne Horvitz - DX7, DX100, Harmonica (Eugene Chadbourne, John Zorn, Curlew, Naked City, NY Composers Orchestra)
Christian Marclay - Turntables, Records (John Zorn, Kronos Quartet, Elliot Sharp, The Art Bears)
Jon Rose - 18 String Cello, Violin (Eugene Chadbourne, Slawterhouse, Kryonics, Transcendence, Art Bears )
Jean Chaine - Electric Bass (Uberfall, The Markus Stauss Project, Sarah Greene, Gary Lucas)
Francois Dietz - Producer, Mastering
Didier Dalfitto - Engineer, Mixing
Nick Lawrence - Cover Art [The Entymologist]
Tom Cora - Composition (Curlew, John Zorn, Andrea Centazzo, Eugene Chadbourne, Nimal, Third Person)
Fred Frith - Composer (John Zorn, Violent Femmes, Half Japanese, Swans, Residents, Curlew, Material, Brian Eno, Henry Cow, Naked City, Golden Palominos)

Unknown-Ness: I’ve never heard of this band. Looking back, I think I got it because of the clear vinyl. That was just unusual enough to make me pick this out of a thrift store music stack. It surely was not the cover, which makes me think the content will be some sort of modenrist take on classic jazz. I don’t know much about Jazz or enjoy it for that matter, but this blog is for discovery, so I can check this out. I may even be surprised.

Album Review: - So this is a live version (duh, that’s what it is called: Live in Europe) of a travelling line-up of David Moss’s 1985 album Dense Band when they played in Europe; Vandoeuvre, France to be specific, on 5/23/87. The proclaimed stellar line up is made of avent-garde, experimental artists from NYC, who have all made names for themselves individually. It is interesting, and to appreciate in any capacity, you need to pay attention to what is going on. Seeing this live was probably an inspiring event, if not, entertaining at the least.

“Two to Three to Tango” features one off bass notes, chaotic drum spurts, and synth chimes; none of which sound in unison. The vocals are high pitch, and not very melodic, reminding me of a chicken squabbling with Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo. After the first section of vocals, there is an intense section with elements that have been used by John Zorn and Mr. Bungle.
“Re-Shuffle” starts off with a lot of Western cowboy bass energy, and gives the impression of building to something big and possibly chaotic. The driving bass sound is supported by creepy Ghostbuster dripping ooze synth, and other occasional oscillations and about 2:30, some vocal shouts are buried to the back. With balloon deflating squeals, and Mike Patton-like vocals. Or perhaps it should be written that the vocals seem to have inspired Patton.
“Day to Climb” is a nervous jumper looking down over the side of a building. Or perhaps, as the song is named, a climber ascending a mountain, but fearfully checking the ground behind him. It is tense and a bit stressful bass line, which also reminds me of the later, more difficult, Dr. Wily levels in Mega Man in a very basic form. There are some screeching metal synth effects and random chimes to increase the intensity. Toward the end, the bass line is replaced with a singing saw sound, and hauntingly smooth vocals of pain.
“Full Step” is an unsure bass line, a little mysterious like the Pink Panther theme. There are deep, masculinly confident vocals, that have tones of an Asian Announcer but is really French. After those vocals end, a chorus of female vocals is buried down in the background, singing their own melody. The song picks up in a spastic drum and bass racquetball game. The end of the song shows a bit of actual shared melody and could almost be interpreted as a traditional song, if only basic form, and for a very brief time.
“Glider” does exactly as its name sake suggest: Primus-like gliding bass notes and tin pot hitting percussion, and a vocal hoot and holler once in a while. Eerie alarm like chimes are echoing behind, like a faulty security alarm has been disabled. And steel drum bongs dot the song scape.

“Neural Sense” Drum hits and bass plucked notes are timed together, as sawing violins are layered down behind, suggesting urgency that the sporadic bass-drum rhythms seem to ignore completely. The background violins grow in number, like a swarm of violin mosquitos calling their masses together toward these dumb plodding hippo bass notes. Squeaks and squelches of violins are accompanied by vocals that sound like secondary exhales that accompany karate chops.
“Song of the Possible” has a quiet, dark, minimal bass line in the beginning. Background, coming to foreground fast, are turkey gobbler vocals of a neurotic emotion. The vocal sounds still remind me of an avent-garde Asian performance, and I can only imagine what this was like performed live, and I wonder how close these performances are to the originals. The vocals, through a doubling vocoder, sound a bit like the chicken lady from Kids in the Hall.
“Slant Lines” has an unaccompanied, looping bass line that evolves as it repeats in the beginning 1:45. A cymbal simmer introduces the schizophrenic vocals, and the song transitions into a dark, funky march. The march becomes side tracked with crazy percussion and chaotic deep then high vocal sounds.  The song ends with what sounds like an English car siren, played melodically.
“Slow Talking” is very slow, with bass notes paired up in twos. There are some old-internet link-up static sound effects, and a very loungy, deep vocal (slow talking) that is paired with a high, shrew, helium voice (fast talking). The voices take turns as if having a conversation. And the song kind of just slinks away as if it was never there to begin with, like a fever dream.

Stand Out Track: - Re-Shuffle


Andy McCarroll & Moral Support - Zionic Bonds

Name: Andy McCarroll & Moral Support
Album: Zionic Bonds
Year: 1981
Style: Christian/Religious, New Wave, Power Pop
Similar Bands: Clash, Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, Alarm, Police, 80's sitcom theme, slow English Beat, and a little Bowie
"One Word" Review: New-Christ-Wave
Based Out Of: North Ireland
Label: Pilgrim American Records, The Benson Company
 Zionic Bonds - Cover, Liner, Record
Zionic Bonds - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Zionic Bonds (1981)
  1. Sin 4:10
  2. How The Kids Are Feeling 2:39
  3. To Know You 2:53
  4. Slippin' And Slidin' 3:38
  5. I Am Human 3:53 /
  6. Cyan City 3:44
  7. King Man 2:43
  8. Livin' A Lie 3:54
  9. In Control 4:56
  10. 20th Century 4:41

Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members and Other Bands:
Andy McCarroll - Guitar, Vocals, Sleeve Design
James Davis - Guitars (The Lids)
William Hilary - Keys
Ian Sloan - Drums
Alan Gillespie - Bass
Kyle Leitch - Manager (Rudi)
Dennis McMeekan - Photography
Andy Kidd - Producer

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band. I bought this about 10 years ago, right around the time when I first found the A’s records in a 10 cent box. This one was from a Goodwill in my small hometown. I liked the energy, the color, the random look to the cover. The vibe from the cover seemed like it would be a fun, new wave/power pop group that I might enjoy as much as the A’s. Beyond that, 1981 had good potential as well for a fun record.

Album Review: Unbeknownst to me, it turns out that this is a Christian rock band from Ireland. I liked it a lot the first few times I listened to it, and admittedly, the affection dropped off when I realized there was a message I was against buried down (or not too far down) in the lyrics. I’m so unfamiliar with religion that I did not even get the album name’s reference. But I thought about it a little more, and grew to re-like the album, despite the message. I mean, it was kind of unfair to disregard the music and catchiness, especially since there are other bands I like whose messages I don’t identify with. Moral Support’s songs were pretty good. Apparently, Andy McCarroll had a few folk albums before this, and is still a songwriter over in Ireland. The band was really just called the Moral Support, but his name was attached for the US release. The songs titles were also “godded” up for the second wave of US releases, and on my copy, the titles on the sleeve are original, but the record label has the exaggerated versions.

“Sin” marches out with a drum beat and Bowie-ish vocals. There is keyboard synth and power pop chords. The bridge between the verse and chorus is the best part of the song. The lyrics of the song talk about hating sin. On the surface, it is just another power-pop arena rocking song, but they lyrics deliver the christian message. The end of the song chants 6-6-6 and hate it in combat repetition.
“How The Kids Are Feeling” has a jittery guitar hook that feels over all washed out, but all the energy of the Buzzcocks and Clash. The verse is spoke-sung in a fast paced action, and the chorus layered behind is a ver catchy peretiton of “this is how they feel.” There is also an echoy whistle that mimics the backing chorus melody, and at times it almost sounds like bird calls. The pace of the song starts and stops, but chugs along under long held synth notes buried in the background. The whole song rocks until they have to go and ruin it bring jesus into it in the last 30 seconds. Still a solid song
“To Know You” is a dark Clash / Elvis Costello alley way song. There is a bit of a reggae construction to the guitar playing and backing bass line.
“Slippin' And Slidin'”has a simplified Graham Parker/Squeeze feel to it, perhaps a bit of the Police in the stripped down reggae mixed with power pop. This track has some bright, jangley rhythm guitars, and watery lead guitar. The vocals in the verse feel like they are just falling out and down the melody as they are only partially sung. And in the last 30 seconds, again, they have to go and bring in the
“I Am Human” starts with echoing drums and a droning, chugging guitar. The vocals are turned up, like a more less mechanical Gary Numan. Synth notes are played that don’t follow the melodic structure, but create an atmospheric feel. The chorus rocks out, repeating the extended, US title “I am special, I am human” The synth keys are combined with the rocking guitar, but the vocals never pick up the energy, they let the music do that. The chorus is changed up eventually to say “WE” rather than “I”, and the lead guitar takes an opportunity to solo. The song falls apart in the end, piece by piece, even lyrically, only repeating special and human, and it ends with the guitar continually chugging away.

“Cyan City” is an instrumental that starts with an echoing, jangley power pop version of a Ramones chord structure. Twinkling and sparkling synth effects are peppered over the top, and the melody takes shape like an 80’s sitcom theme song. A variety of more synth effects take their turn over the music, some buzzingly smooth, and some watery and echoy. The song seems to fade out at the end under the weight of all the synth effects.
“King Man” is a jumpy, jittery, quick chord shifting song with Difford/Tillbrook like harmonies, and Buzzcocks like spoken singing. The electric guitar takes the song in a different direction, toward Prog/Metal. The music all fades out except the twinkling synth. Which seems to wind down in a warbling fashion with a slow fade.
“Livin' a Lie” is a straightforward power pop song, with an up-down chord progression. The vocals are very echoy, reminding me of Flock of Seagulls. As the synth is added in the second verse, the song balances on a fine like that feels like they are entering OMD territory once it hits the chorus. But it is electric guitars that take the song out to the end with a fade.
“In Control” has a slow, relaxed island/reggae English Beat tempo to it. On the record, this song has the word god added to the front of it, as the lyrics are “Do you believe/that god is in control.” About 3:10 the song brings in a political aspect to the song, employing static, and radio/tv transitions that make the listener question whether this god-person is actually in control of the tense world-wide situations with news broadcasts. The band then pushes it’s point to not worry, but their god will take care of things.
“20th Century” ends the album with a ramped up electronic surge at its start. That fades away, and a single chugging guitar plays under the vocals, like a Ted Leo story-song. The tempo changes to side-to-side swaying, slightly Ziggy Stardust style of song, letting the listener know that there’s a god in this 20th century. The song follows standard form with verse-chorus-verse-chorus and then features an instrumental breakdown with soaring guitars. Just when they could come back to the chorus, the song takes the instrumental route and finishes the song with electric guitars playing the melody.

Stand-Out Track: How The Kids Are Feeling


Friday, August 8, 2014

Matty Pop Chart - Good Old Water

Name: Matty Pop Chart
Album: Good Old Water:
Year: 2005
Style: Folk, Indie, Twee
Similar Bands: Tullycraft, Beulah, Mosquitos, Ed's Redeeming Qualities, Neil Halsted
One Word Review: Airy Strums
Based Out Of: Bloomington, IN
Label: Friends & Relatives Records, Plan-It X Records
Good Old Water - Cover, Credits, CD
Good Old Water - Back, Lyrics
Good Old Water (2005)
  1. For Chris 1:49
  2. Ghost Dream 2:48
  3. Springtime II 1:38
  4. Jimmy Jam 3:27
  5. Wedding Song 2:20
  6. The Sun Lights Strong 2:31
  7. For Erin 3:13
  8. Jason Dear 2:57
  9. Floating Dreams 3:13
  10. The Wind 2:58
  11. Toy Piano 1:38
  12. Jimmy Jam II 7:48

Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Justin Vollmar - Recording, elec Guitar, Singing
Matt Tobey - Vox, Guitar, Baritone Ukulele, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Toy Piano (Abe Froman, Ghost Mice, Your Heart Breaks, Memory Map, Mt Gigantic, Good Luck, Lily & Madeleine)
Erin Tobey - Vox, Layout
David Combs - Vox, Ukulele (Spoonboy, Max Levine Ensemble)
Theo Hilton - Vox, Guitar (Nana Grizol, Defiance, Ohio)
Kimya Dawson - Vox (Moldy Peaches, Uncluded, Bundles, )
Chris Johnston - Vox
Hannah Jones - Vox
Mike Dixon - Mastering
Brian Chase - Manatee Photo

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the band. But I picked up the CD in a local thrift shop because I appreciated the bulky, paper cut artwork. The name sounds like a fun playful experience, so I am hoping the music will carry that naïve, juvenile feeling through.

Album Review: Whoever bought this probably did so because Kimya Dawson from the Moldy Peaches is named as a band member, but they must have gotten rid of it since her participation is not that much or obvious. I looked up Matt Tobey since 2005, and last year, he made a concept EP dedicated to his neighbor and internet superstar, Bubs the cat. He’s also in two bands currently, but I’ve not delved into their catalogues or styles.

“For Chris” is a very nasally vocals and acoustic strummed guitar. The vocals have a very Tullycraft feel to them, but even more nasally. Drums and slide guitar join in, and the rollicking, folksy song.
“Ghost Dream” is lighter and sounds like a late night porch memory. There are layered vocals, giving it depth, but it has a very airy feel, and a slight country vibe. At one point toward the end, it almost gets rocking, but it thinks better of itself, and finishes out the song on a somber note.
“Springtime II” is a bouncy acoustic-plucked number with bongo percussion. It is fun and dancey, but short. There is a pause in the song that would make you think it is another track, but it comes back into the familiar melody.
“Jimmy Jam” follows suit with a light and airy dreamy song of just vocals + strum/plucked guitars. The vocals feel very close to the front of the production mix. The harmonized chorus of vocals lifts the song out of the steady but happy monotony.
“Wedding Song” is again, just guitar played with the nasally vocals. The Vocals are sung in a rambling style, and the light, pleasant guitar work could be used as guests arrive to be seated. The song includes violin too, which brings a tinge of sadness to the joyful melody.
“The Sun Light's Strong” sounds like a Muppet floating in a small row boat, just bouncing with the waves in a very care free manor. Again, the song is just guitars and vocals. The vocals singing the song title chorus is harmonized and positive.

“For Erin” is a side to side somber song. At 1:20, the song picks up and drums and tambourine are added and the song’s sway becomes more obvious. The pace picks up ever so slightly toward the end, and the repetitive loop of a melody ceases, and relaxes. The instrumentation goes away, and the song finishes up right where it started.
“Jason Dear” parallels the second track on the album is slightly sunny, airy folk strumming. For the most part it is a practice in repetition, until a second guitar is layered over the rhythm at the end.
“Floating Dreams” is a continuation of side to side head swaying. The vocals are not as pronounced here, and there is a just little extra oomph behind the percussive guitar.
“The Wind” starts, only seeming like a pause in the song before, rather than a whole new track. This song slows down a little further, and the bit of echo on the strumming makes me think of sitting on a beach in Hawaii. There are also beach references, so the mood and lyrics match up knowingly.
“Toy Piano” is exactly as it is named. It sounds like a rickety toy, nearing the point of collapsing on itself. There are no vocals on this track, it just sounds like a wind-up toy or a snow globe. The second verse through really speeds things up, and it evokes a carnival sound, not unlike what Madness will sometimes use. And as if it were a wound up toy, it slows down at the end to a crawl, and mimicking it even further, it plays one song after you think it is done.
“Jimmy Jam II” employs the toy piano in this faster swaying song. Lots of “guest” vocals are used for support. This song also feels a lot like Tully Craft and Beulah in pace and its rolling-melody vocal style. The song only lasts 2:13, but the empty track keeps going until 7:22, when a foreign marching song for 2 short versus is hidden for 26 seconds. 

Stand Out Track: For Chris


Friday, August 1, 2014

Ministry - Twitch

Name: Ministry
Album: Twitch
Year: 1986
Style: Industrial Techno, Gothic
Similar Bands: Low Pop Suicide, Nine Inch Nails, My Life With Thrill Kill Kult, KMFDM, Front 242
"One-Word" Review: Mechanical Snake Dancing
Based Out Of: Chicago, IL
Label: Sire
 Twitch - Cover, Sleeve
 Twitch Back, Sleeve
Twitch - Record
Twitch (1986)
  1. Just Like You 5:00
  2. We Believe 5:56
  3. All Day Remix 6:02
  4. The Angel 6:06 / 
  5. Over The Shoulder 5:11
  6. My Possession 5:02
  7. Where You At Now?/Crash & Burn/ Twitch (version 2) 12:15

Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Alain Jourgensen - Vox, Producer, Engineer (Special Effect, PTP, Front Line Assembly, Prong, Revolting Cocks, Lard, Skrew, 1000 Homo DJs, Skinny Puppy, Alan Vega)
Adrian Sherwood - Producer, Engineer
Gareth Jones - Engineering
Keith LeBlanc - Percussion, Programming (Nitzer Ebb, Wolfgang Press, Tackhead, Nine Inch Nails, Sugar Hill Gang)
Patty Jourgensen - Vox
Brad Hallen - Bass (Willie "Loco" Alexander, Aimee Mann, Peter Malik, Duke Robilliard, Roomful Of Blues)
Stephen George - Percussion (Black Cross, Colortone, Elliot Easton, Ric Ocasek)
Luc Van Acker - Vox (Shreikback, Revolting Cocks, Mussolini Headkick, Die Krupps, My Life With Thrill Kill Kult)
Brian Shanley - Cover Design, Photography (Honor By August, Revolting Cocks, Askold Buk)

Unknown-ness: I know I've heard of this band thanks to a bunch of friends in High School, but for the life of me, I could not remember if they were hardcore or industrial. So when I saw this in a thrift store basket, I had to take a chance on it. I’m pretty sure they were more along the lines of industrial- Nine Inch Nails, and this is probably one of the bands I know more about than I think I do, but I’m curious how this one sounds out of the catalogue, and more interestingly, how this style of music (that I’ve not really kept up with) sounds in today’s world, with my current musical palate.

Album Review: “Just Like You” begins with a cold drum beat with robotics and mechanics echoing in the background. Along with a synth horn, and propaganda-like spoken word vocals. The vocals then begin, they sound suspicious and whispery (I’m reminded of the Soup Dragons), and are supported by vocals in the background that shout the title. There are a lot of techno an synth percussive beats competing for attention, along with synth keyboards and brass. Underneath it all there is a bass line that sounds like the “bow down” bridge of “Head Like A Hole.” The album’s name sake is present in this song, but I can’t believe this is not a remix. It is the shortest song, but it goes on forever. But it does finally end with a percussive fade out. I’m reminded of previous TSM entries the Borghesia and Christian Lunch
“We Believe” is slightly more driving with synth bottle neck banging percussion at the beginning. That transitions into a darker new wave keyboard samples layered to create a cold, bleak scene. The vocals are distorted through a tinny vocoder, and sound slithery sharp. The vocals sound like combination of Cobra Commander and Decepticons. The end of the song has a gruff, dying vocal that repeats the title over, layered over a crescendo of synth elements that is picking up speed and sound. But then, it just fades away.
“All Day Remix” again bring the element of war and battle with a 1-2-3-4 chant and army direction laid over 80’s synth sounds and industrial drums. The whisper-distorted vocals sound downright sunny compared to the other songs so far, and although the song is still bleak, it has a more straight forward dance club atmosphere. There is a breakdown halfway through, that is followed up with sound clips from tv shows or movies. It then kicks back into the dancey song, as if it never lost a step. A heavy breath also comes in to rhythmically drive the song along, which also finishes the song out.
“The Angel” features maraca percussion at the outset. Synth effects and vocals are sporadically peppered in, and then a vibration wave synth gives the song momentum. 2 minutes in, and the song still feels like it is just starting to put things together, with an extra echoing 2-hit drum beat. The song still feels like a sketch of a song. It is a little ethereal, but overall, empty. The repeating line of “always an angel there” features female backing vocals.

“Over The Shoulder” first sounds like an airplane oscillating between taking off and landing. Then the industrial percussion adds in, with a neurotic bubbly bass, and the elements come together like a Nitzer Ebb song. The song features what sounds like the gothic version scratching and rapping. I like the energy in this song, and the vocals sound like they are trying to hold on, being as wispy as possible. A synth wood block section that accompanies the iron works industrial beats and airline sounds reminds me of the intro to Milli Vanilli’s “Blame It On The Rain,” which came a few years later. The song features a fade out as well, but overall, it is about a minute too long.
“My Possession” repeats a well tread path at this point with jittery, boingy synth and industrial presses and gas jets. The vocals drive the song along with their snake-like trajectory. It even sounds like it could be a cover of a Devo song, just with very different application. The end features a breakdown of just the driving drums and the vocals before it kicks back in for a short sprint to the finish.
“Where You At Now?/Crash & Burn/ Twitch (version 2)” is a three part song that starts off with industrial percussion and synth effects and the similar fast, bouncy/jittery bass synth. Those effects are traded in for a fast driving drum beat, and other varients are added to keep the repetitive rhythm interesting. There are more quotes spoken and layered over the industrial Devo like melody: “I’ll Save Ya (?) & Come on Get Out Here.” Like a dream sequence, other effects and melody come in like a shaky, staticy picture. At 5:30, the song shifts with the yelling of Crash and Burn, and the song changes to rhythmic firecracker percussion. The percussive sounds shift from left to right speaker, making the echoing more like an annoyance where you cannot concentrate on where the sound is coming from. Might be cool with headphones, though. This techno instrumental portion of the song relies on a steady import and exports of sounds in precise executed segments. At 9:12 a more steady percussion takes the background, and is again and again drowned out by the bombastic, consistent firecracker effect. 10:19 dishwasher like effects leads into a final section of the song. This sounds like the music going through the minds of the people who made the Running Man universe or the video game Smash TV: industrial metal sounds and kitchen sink percussion. The end of the song is warped vocals talking about entertainment. And the album just comes to a chaotic hault.

Stand Out Track: "Over The Shoulder"


Nub - Hopper

Name: Nub
Album: Hopper
Year: 1993
Style: Indie Alternative
Similar Bands: Skeleton Key, Tomahawk, Dismemberment Plan, Ned's Atomic Dustbin
"One-Word" Review: Off-Timed Sludge
Based Out Of: UK
Label: Planet Records
 Hopper - Cover & Record
Hopper - Back & Record
Hopper (1993)
  1. Touchsmoke 3:21
  2. Cabin 4:03 /
  3. Rodan 4:12
  4. D.Q. 4:41

Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Martin Nichols - Recording
Rachel Hughes - Sleeve Design
Tim Ineson - Vox, Guitar (Lake Situation, Seals)
Adam Ineson - Guitar
Nat Saunders - Bass
Jeff Gerhardt - Drums

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. But while on vacation to the UK, stopping at an OxFam thrift store, I was on the hunt for anything that looked vaguely interesting and was local to the UK. So this, especially with a nice “alternative” year 1993, made the perfect specimen.  I liked the black and white artwork, and it was priced right @ 0.49 pounds. Assuming it is some sort of folksy, lo-fi indie project, since it does not have that shiny early 90’s brit-pop look to it.

Album Review: “Touchsmoke” starts off with a rocking, disjointed bass and guitar section, that sounds like calculated math rock or maybe a little like a sedated Primus. It reminds me of Skeleton Key, and a perhaps little of Tomahawk. The lyrics are spoken over the music, almost as an apologic afterthought. I like the rhythm it follows. It ends on an off-key guitar chord
“Cabin” also follows suit with a calculated stuttering rhythm that is unnatural, yet enticing. The vocals have a little more melody to them, and the song builds in the chorus with equal parts low end bass and chugging, fuzzy guitars.

“Rodan” has a slow start with watery bass and kind of Joy Division-like spoken vocals. The music becomes aggressive and heavy around the minute mark, and quickly backs off for a return to the shoe-gazing atmospheric mood of the start. There is an overall mystic, light versus dark atmosphere to the song.
“D.Q.” has another slow, slightly off timed, side to side droning, building make up to the song. The vocals are started off as spoken, but for the chorus, they transition to a fuzzed out Ned’s Atomic Dustbin cousin. The chorus is very catchy and brings a wall of distorted guitar power.

Stand Out Track: D.Q.


Kisses and Hugs - Positive Youth 1994!!!

Name: Kisses and Hugs
Album: Positive Youth 1994!!! (or) Nothing Has Changed
Year: 1994, 2002
Style: Scream-o, Hardcore, Death Metal
Similar Bands: Die Kreuzen, Bleed
"One-Word" Review: Attention Deficit Screaming Death.
Based Out Of: Allentown area, PA
Label: Raw Sugar, N=K Record Conglomerate
 Positive Youth 1994!!! - Cover & Record
 Positive Youth 1994!!! - Back & Record
Positive Youth 1994!!! (2002)
  1. CIV Lied 0:34
  2. Genital Ban 0:29
  3. Bad Blood Is Not What It's Cracked Up To Be 0:42
  4. Under the Rug 2:33
  5. Holy Shit 0:19
  6. Old Hag 0:29 /
  7. Fuck You Speclogics 1:25
  8. Misplaced Suicide Notes 1:35
  9. Giveaway 2:54
  10. Upper Half Skin Pride 3:01
  11. Kiss Me, Kill Me 1:26
  12. Why Do You Insist I Need College to Validate My Life, Fucker? 0:16
Album Rating (1-10): 4.5

Members & Other Bands:
Bob - Bass,Vox, Kazoo 
Dug Polgardy - Guitar, Vox, Mandolin, Sax ((Burning Ambitions)
Chris Strunk- Drums (Burning Ambitions, Fate of Icarus, Crucial Unit, Heathen Shame)
Gina - Engineer
Matthew Berland - Cover Help

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. At least, I don’t remember hearing of this band, although I might have heard or even seen them at some point in my high school years. But probably not. It turns out that at least two of the members, were senior to my freshman in high school, and would have recorded this material a short time after their graduation. Funny thing is, I did not pick this record up at our local Q-Mart or other (non-existent) record store; I had to travel all the way down to New Orleans on vacation to find this in a dollar bin. It makes sense, because a quick read of the liner notes on the back explains how this was put out by a NOLA based label. Also explained on the label is that this is scream-o style music before that style was ever created to differentiate types of hardcore. So, sorry if you are reading this school mates, but I don’t predict that I’ll like it much, nor do I have a strong musical basis to compare and review this. So consider this a shoddy, naïve review to the genre and album at best.

Album Review: Let me just start out that this entire albums clocks in at right around 16 minutes. With many of the songs just screaming the lyrics you see written as the title, there is not much room to embellish this live listening review. I will cover most of the review here by saying it is loud, fuzzed out guitar and bass played under fast, sometimes unintelligible somewhat high pitched screaming. Anything different will be noted.
“CIV Lied” machine gun drums.
“Genital Ban” lyrics screamed in short burst segments.
“Bad Blood Is Not What It's Cracked Up To Be” two sets of vocals, second is deeper. This song is darker than straight scream-core.
“Under the Rug” has time breaks where, for 3 second pauses there is just bass playing a slow plodding melody. The pauses are longer toward the end, and a marching drum beat accompanies them. This is followed by a scream solo, and ends chaotically.
“Holy Shit” starts off with a nice build, and stops before it can even get started.
“Old Hag”
“Fuck You Speclogics” actually has the lyrics screamed in repetition in actual intelligibility. This is more death metal than scream-core.
“Misplaced Suicide Notes” has a slowed down stomping mid-section that is still full of energy, but is not as speedy as the start and end. This might have the most diversity per song length on the album.
“Giveaway” starts with a nice build and is a blend of screaming and growling. Intermixed with the screams are spoken word lyrics that punctuate the music with feedback pauses.
“Upper Half Skin Pride” is the longest track on the record, right around 3 minutes. The song is disjointed, made of sections and different time signatures, and it showcases more heavy hard core playing than the screaming vocals. Toward the end, there are electric waves of feedback that sound like light sabers.
“Kiss Me, Kill Me” is just relentless speed for about a minute and a half, with vocals that seem to tire themselves out. Then suddenly it breaks into a short mandolin section before throttling head first back into the speed.
“Why Do You Insist I Need College to Validate My Life, Fucker?” is a short, heavy stomp of just the title. The music does not even last as long as the lyrics.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Phil 'N' the Blanks - Lands and People~, Head Screwed On*

Name: Phil 'N' the Blanks
Album(s): Lands and Peoples~ Head Screwed On*
Year(s): 1982~, 1983*
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: Blondie, B-52's (minus surf), Cucumbers, Robin Lane, Go-Go's, Midnight Oil, Devo, Gary Numan
"One-Word" Review: Energetic Bleakness
Based Out Of: Chicago, IL
Label: Pink Records
Lands and Peoples - Cover & Record
Lands and Peoples - Back & Record
 Head Screwed On - Cover & Record
  Head Screwed On - Cover & Record
Lands And Peoples (1982)
  1. The National Dance Contest 3:49
  2. See You 2:51
  3. Lands And Peoples 3:47
  4. Meadowlands 3:29
  5. The Forest's On The Move 3:43/
  6. You Can't Call Me 3:46
  7. Exercise 3:28
  8. Cold Love 3:33
  9. Punctuality (Is A Virtue) 3:29
  10. Babble On 2:40
  11. Condition Red 2:44
Head Screwed On (1983)
  1. Head Screwed On 3:26
  2. Pockets of Pleasure 2:25
  3. A Space Traveler's Manifesto 3:15/
  4. Dance Dance 4:00
  5. You Look Like Someone 3:18
  6. Johnny Bit 3:54
Album Ratings (1-10): ~7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Phil Bimstein - Vox, Guitars, Piano, Organ, Synth~*(Blue Haiku, Red Rock Rondo)
Blanche - Vox, Percussion~*Jacket Design* (Paisley Blacke)
Eric Kister - Guitars, Album Art~* (Cause or Effect, Johnny Moe & The Return, Vidiots)
Bill Hyland - Bass, congregation~*
Roman Zabicki - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vox~* (Slip, Vidiots, Norma Jean, XLR8, Hightones, The Pheremoans, )
Rick Canoff - Sax (Flock Horn Section)~
Tom Webb - Sax (Flock Horn Section)~
Frank Posa - Trumpet (Flock Horn Section)~
Fast Frank - Sax (Bohemia)~
Balkan Rhythm Band - Introduction~
Jim Hines - Linn LMI~
Nancy Austin - congregation~
Craig Williams - Producer~*
Kane Engler - Producer~*
Howie Weinberd - Mastering~
Greg Calbi - Mastering *
Michael Lapin - Cover Photo*
Scott H. Bank - Live Photos

Unknown-ness: I never heard of this band. But I found both of these albums together in a cheap dollar bin at the same time, and could not let them get split up. I liked their Gary Numan-like portraits on the second album, and the consistent pink, black & white art direction for both. The play on words name and 82-83 dates made want to pick these up. Assuming it is going to be Cars-like New wave…perhaps B-52’s with a female singer, so here we go.

Album Review: So the lead singer went on after this band to become Mayor of Springdale, Utah, promoting environmental activism, including speaking in front of congress supporting Utah’s wilderness. Blanche keeps up the website with info and links. The music is definitely new wave,
“The National Dance Contest” has a repetitive jangley guitar followed by a basic drum beat and even horns that echo the lead guitar. The first lyrics are that of the chorus. The vocals are typical new wave style: energetic and nasally. This feels like it was a really great live song, that loses a little translation onto vinyl. There are soaring guitar breaks, and the horns try to add depth to the song, but it still feels one dimentional. Later, there is an echoey female led chorus that reminds me of Sugarcubes. Then the male & female vocals duel it out, with the female vocals sounding a little like Belinda Carlisle. The song ends the same way it starts: with the chorus, just with a sudden stop.
“See You” is all bass at the beginning, and the rhythm guitar acting more as timed percussion than anything else. This features female lead vocals that are dark and wavering. The vocals are layered in parts, with a delicate harmony. But the song itself is driving, rattling, and dark. There is a little emotion to the delivery that reminds me a little of Sleater-Kinney.
“Lands And Peoples” has a bit of a world music vibe as it starts out with a jazzy section, that quickly transitions to dark bouncy bass. Male vocals start out the song with a cold, monotone rhythm. The song drives a long like a bored call and response Adam Ant song. When it hits the chorus, the female vocals come into the song, singing the chorus in the round with the male vocals. There are some sax squeals in the instrumental sections too, giving it a slight appeal to Madness fans. But over all, this has a dark, sterile B-52’s feel to it.
“Meadowlands” fades into a bouncy and jangley song, with a sly dark alley/sinister vibe. The lead guitar sounds like a forlorn video game melody. This is the crux of the song that repeats over and over again. The song follows the instrumental path, with only a flowing string of haunting and melody paralleling “Ooo-Ooo’s.” The male counterpart “Ohhhh-Ohhh’s” follows up taking over for the female vocals. The song fades out in the same mirror image of how it began.
“The Forest’s On The Move” is a driving guitar song, picking up right where the previous song dropped us off: in a dark and bleak, yet energetic nature. The male and female vocals take turns in the verses, coming together for a nice Celtic harmony for the chorus. Both seem a bit tense or angry. There is a big cut off to end the side of the album, just as the song is building
“You Can't Call Me” starts off with a fun power-pop guitar lick, and the female vocals are nervous and bouncy, with a smooth chorus. This is just a good song, again reminiscent of the B-52’s. There is a spoken, complaining breakdown, where the female lead is complaining to her love interest for not calling when they should. And of course, the song ends with a busy signal
“Exercise” begins with watery guitars and a deep bass beat, reminding me a little of the Violent Femmes. The nervous male vocals are like a monotone Gary Numan, and take turns with the female vocals. The chorus is just a fast paced repetition of “Ex” then “Exercise.” This simple song would, actually be pretty good to exercise to, with a good pace, and repetition. And it ends with an exhausted breath of air.
“Cold Love” has a steady, driving rock guitar lead, and the song skips along, chugging out the guitar and rhythm support. The song kind of feels like a Midnight Oil song. It is, however, somewhat one dimensional and forgettable.
“Punctuality (Is A Virtue)” starts with tick tock vocals, and is a side to side, pogo-ing, neurotic song. It features jangley chords and a simple structure that leaves a lot of lo-fi room, which in this case is a good thing, propelled by the bass line.
“Babble On” drives right from the get-go with electric guitars and a two kick drum beat. The song is much lighter than the other dark tones on the album. It is slightly arena rock, with some hey-hey-heys and loud guitars. And it fades out.
“Condition Red” starts with a shout out of “red” in this wavering male vocal led song. There is a cold dark tone buried down in the driving guitars and steady drums. The female vocals echo and along with a vibrant harmony, take care of the chorus, and the guitars re quite angular and even sound like early XTC at times. Well, maybe just once. It is the harmony that ends the album
“Head Screwed On” starts out sounding like Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover.” Then the dark synth is added in low, and the driving new wave song takes shape. The song kind of feels like it is on a treadmill, and features only female vocals. This song is already more electronic than the first album, but it is still cold, slightly eerie and calculated. The layering v vocals at the end leads to a fade out.
“Pockets of Pleasure” is synth electronic right away with a fast, sinister pogo beat and a nasally near-computerized and monotone male vocal. This is a good dance song, and must have been fun to see live. There is a breakdown, explaining about all the sorts of pockets they are talking about, the whole time, there is a female angelic vocal in the background “Ahhh-Ahhhing” through to the fade out.
“A Space Traveler's Manifesto” employs more synth as the stand out instrument after a standard driving intro. After the initial section, a following bit simulates floating in space with held synth notes. The next part has the fvemale vocals explaining how the final frontier is space, and the sung vocals that follow are enhanced with echoing effects, which gives the whole song a bit of a feeling like a sped up Major Tom

“Dance Dance” starts out real familiar like, with a synth melody that is actually upbeat, and increases in tone. The crystalline melody creates an icy, yet optimistic outlook. The female vocals then start in, and this feels like a electronic and antiseptically pure, updated version of their first song from the last album: “National Dance Contest.” This feels like something that could have been out of the movie Solarbabies (which came out 3 years later).
“You Look Like Someone” feels like the same song, just with a little jitterier synth sound (out of a video game like Mega Man). The male vocals have a little more of sunnier side to them, but are still monotone and remind me a lot of Devo. The electric guitars level out the sterile feel that the vocals and ultra basic drum beat project.
“Johnny Bit” is a new wave synth version of a power pop song. There is a lot of crystal twinkling in the song and the song drives along, as all the songs do, on the kick drum beat. Also, it is very Devo-ish.

Stand Out Track(s): ~You Can't Call Me
*Pockets of Pleasure

Blanche's Blanks Site
Phil's Wiki page
Phil's website
Blue Haiku
Starkland Records
'87 Chicago Tribune article
Chicago Reader Blanche's letter to editor
AZ Local
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