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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Membranes - Songs of Love & Fury

Name: Membranes
Album: Songs of Love And Fury
Style: Punk, Noise
Similar Bands: Dinosaur Jr, Big Black, Sonic Youth, Half Japanese, Clash, Game Theory, Captain Beefheart, 
One Word Review: Chaotic Noise-Stomp Pop
Based Out Of: Blackpool, Lancashire, UK
Label: Homestead Records, Dutch East India Trading, LSR Records
 Songs of Love And Fury - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Songs of Love And Fury - Back, Liner Notes, Record

Songs of Love And Fury (1986)
  1. Big Fun Tonight 3:39
  2. Kennedy '63 2:48
  3. Postdetergent Vacuum Cleaner Man 3:29
  4. Day My Universe Changed 2:48
  5. Bang! 1:40
  6. Snaffle Flatch! 2:25
  7. The Murder of Sister George 3:52 /
  8. Spaceships 2:37
  9. 1986 3:24
  10. Thank Heavens for The Iron Horse 3:16
  11. Sleaze Ball 2:12
  12. Phoney TV Repair Man 2:55
  13. The Elvis I Know Was No Junkie 0:46
  14. Everyone's Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah! 3:11
  15. Jaw Cracker Fuzz 4:17
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jack - Backing Vocals
Nick Brown - Backing Vocals, Guitar, Violin (Alberto Fortis, My Bloody Valentine, )
Keith Curtis - Bass, Guitar (Goldblade, A Witness)
Wallis Tadpole - Bass, Vox
Coofy Sid - Drums, Percussion
Mark Tilton - Guitar, Vacuum Cleaner (Blackpool Sixth From College, Creepers, Black Crack)
Noel Kilbride - Guitar (Bear, AC Temple)
Woody - Guitar
Chris Jones - Keyboards, Sitar, Violin
John Robb - Lead Vox, Guitar (Blackpool Sixth From College, Sportchestra, Therapy, Goldblade, Sarandon, Poly Styrene, Philip Boa & The Voodoo Club, Muscles, Sensurround, Tim Wheater, Cecilia, )
Simon Clegg - Cover Painting
Ted Chippington - Vox
Rollin' Nolan - Poem

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band before, but from the looks of the cover, the year 1986, and picture of the band on the back, it looks like this will be a college radio band with an edge. The cluttered sleeve suggests a DIY aesthetic, so it could be an indie college radio band, or it might skew a little more punk. I do enjoy the cover image of the pumpkins running from the jester with a slicer cart.

Album Review: The Membranes were a noise punk band of the late 70’s that rallied against conformist pop songs, melody, fame and popularity. The driving force, singer and writer John Robb was also a budding journalist, writing a Zine while in the band  (Rox), and working in musical journalism. He was the first journalist to interview Nirvana in 1989, and apparently, he was the first to use the word 'Britpop.' They had a bunch of noise albums, very little straightforward Melody, and this release was their biggest one in the states. They are still at it, at least an incarnation of them, today, and have new material slated to be release in the near future (Dark Matter). This album is reportedly more accessible than their past efforts, which makes it one of their best middle ground, and enjoyable records.

“Big Fun Tonight” begins with a jangly guitar and tinny, rhythmic drum. The bass and rhythm guitar parallel themselves without fail. The song is a bit of a charging oscillation between two marching sections. The vocals are not clear, and very percussive. They also have a bit of a rugged, chanting, Clash-ness to them.
“Kennedy '63” has a simple, fast, side to side drum beat to start out the song. The guitar chords are in time, and it reaches the chorus quickly, with a pretty melodic backing guitar hook. The vocals for the chorus are call and response “Kennedy’s says” and “Oh-Oh-Oh”. It even sounds like there is some electronic distortion added to the guitar making it sound like synth keys.
“Postdetergent Vacuum Cleaner Man” enters with a stiff quick drum beat. The heavy bass line and general humming noise is layered in behind. The vocals are monotone and droning, but layered with a higher tonal vocal in the back. The short section of the chorus is downright Vaselines catchy. This is the first song that really drives home the idea of a blistering wall of noise as the last two minutes are just the same brief pattered repeated.
“Day My Universe Changed” begins with dreamy guitar chords and watery rhythm guitar. The vocals are weak and drawn out, added accent this song as a dream pop or shoegazing song. About the 1:45 mark, the guitars begin to add a layer of buzzing, but it is quickly dispersed.
“Bang!” is introduced with a fast and very repetitive 4 chord strum. Deep spoken word vocals are layered overtop, and a general minimal, fuzzy post punk melody supports the speech.
“Snaffle Flatch!” puts jangly college music at the front, with a simple guitar hook. But the bass line has different ideas, and takes it to a much darker and off-key direction vocally.
“The Murder of Sister George” is a loopy guitar based song where again, the bass decides to make it more aggressive. The vocals shift from one two note melody to a higher inversed two-note melody. The chorus is basically just a catchy bass line, reminding me a little of Gang of Four, except a weak and stretched off-key vocal is purposely attained.

“Spaceships” combines catchy guitar & bass melodies in a driving, and shifting song. The chorus has a group sing along saying “Burn this spaceship down,” and at the base, is just a simple and catchy track, almost to the point where it is mesmerizing in an unconscious way.
“1986” breaks the straight forward melody idea with a colder, industrial-yet-organic style song with well out of tune chorus vocals and stress inducing violins. The picture this paints is an anxious, lost person looking for rescue.
“Thank Heavens for The Iron Horse” starts with a warbling, jittery accordion sound, and the song just takes off into a barn dance hoe-down, all based on the knee slapping bass line and driving drum beat. The vocals are barely audiable, and feel like an afterthought, lost in the energy of the bass.
“Sleazeball” the twangyness is not lost, as this song picks up where the last left up with a more head down driving song. Still featuring the note-less vocals, it has a little of a Man-Man atmosphere.
“Phoney TV Repair Man” has a bassline start the song, and follows up with an oscillating alarm effect, but those quickly pushed to the back for a pop song with sloppy vocals, but a catchy tempo.
“The Elvis I Know Was No Junkie” stumbles at first with a jangly guitar sections that blossoms into a dead milkmen like melody with slowly spoken British vocals laid over top.
“Everyone's Going Triple Bad Acid, Yeah!” sounds like a toy guitar at the intro, it is tinny, and fuzzy, and very lo-fi. Like a true punk song, the vocals cruise up and down, supported by the chord changes. The song has a very juvenile feel to it, but the vocals go all in when it gets to the heartfelt or vision-inducing chorus. They use a lot of weird vocal sounds to pepper and enhance the melody.
“Jaw Cracker Fuzz” echos with the tinny guitar and dark melody. The drums are lively, and the music plays along, but it comes from a dark place. The vocals brighten it up a bit, and this does not feel like an album ending song. Based on this, they would still have a lot of energy left for three more tracks. But they must have just run out of room. 

Stand Out Track: Kennedy '63 (live)

Robb article w/ BBC
Metro 60 Sec interview
Robb's Website Louder than War
Membranes FB

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