Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scott Deluxe Drake and the World's Strongest Men - Beneath the Bloodshot Lights

Scott Deluxe Drake and the World’s Strongest Men
Beneath the Bloodshot Lights

The recent Humpers reunion did nothing to diminish their members’ extracurricular activities, and thank goodness for that. Along with the recent asskicking debut by the Hitchhikers, the latest slab from singer Scott Deluxe Drake (accompanied by his latest gang of strongarm tacticians) hits the same pleasure spots as the parent company’s vicious rock & roll. And while I hesitate to call this EP the best thing Drake’s done, there’s something particularly satisfying this time about hearing his witty, gritty spew riding atop a loud, basic, meat-and-potatoes rock & roll band. Ammunition, Corkscrew Submarine and Klorox Too fulfill your daily requirements of piss & vinegar with style; Champagne on Ice is the most melodic thing I’ve ever heard Drake do, and it still rocks serious ass. If you’re a fan, don’t miss this. If you’re not a fan, this will make you one.

- Michael Toland

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anthrax - Oidivnikufesin
Cherry Red Films

Reissue of merry metal scamps ver ‘Thrax (as Phil Alexander would no doubt have said circa 1989) long out of print live vid. Touring their thrash meets hardcore breakthrough Among The Living this captures, as they say, the Bermuda-shorted cementing their legend at the Hammersmith Odeon in late ’87. Sorta like their budget Live After Death. Triangular guitars, massive hair (yup even Scott Ian), colossal drumkit that would make Nicko McBrain queasy, curry-gut gurning, gooning and gallivanting with appropriately eighties entertainment trade announcements crowd-wards and ill-advised stage outfits beyond the apt adoption of loonpants - yes, Joey Belladonna in that Indian headdress on, erm, Indians, just to get the point across, like - all add to the churning whirlpool that, despite their Ramones of thrash cartoon image, is as good a display of expertly executed thrash at it’s intricate but involving best. Interspersed with clips of the band out and about doing band things (ie nothing), this comprises a slew of classics (again as they say) such as Metal Thrashing Mad, Indians, I Am The Law, Armed And Dangerous, Caught In A Mosh, Madhouse, Gung Ho and Beastie Boys-but-better spoof rap I’m The Man, and, perhaps befitting their hardcore roots, the cameras get up close enough to make you think the lens will soon be smashed by a random mosh moment from either band or audience member (participant), giving the necessary feel of the stage atmosphere (the thick of it, I think they say) often missing from live vids.
Unavailable for some time, this is a tempting trip back in time seen as for all intents and purposes they went awol from their pole position alongside Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth in the hierarchy of thrash after 1989’s excellent State Of Euphoria and hit single (that be the basketball on bare flesh stinging energy of Got The time) spawning Persistence Of Time. Not one for the nostalgic, this should ride the too clean linen of the bands now making hay from the stables of classic thrash. No extras for the hardcore acolyte but the reappearance of a long lost document should suffice, though you’d have thought if the band gave a fart they may have done a bonus section of interviews and other footage.
Stu Gibson
Shadows Of Knight - Shadows Of Knight

Mid-sixties Chicago garage legends here get a Rev-Ola refit applied to their third, self-titled album that closed the decade on a suitably dark ride, with the loose-limbed hallucinogenic R’n’B funk that is the Shake single and it’s B-side (the demented Booker T organ-grinding raga of From Way Out To Way Under) added to the addled conjoining of bad-trip boogie (‘water-melon with wings’ anyone?), insatiably unsanitised psych-blues-bastadry (I’ll Set You Free), bug-eyed speed-jitterpop perky jean lust removal machines (I Wanna Make You All Mine), disarticulated covers like Buffalo Springfield's Bluebird and shambling pop ballads (Alone) with which they roared past the peace and love brigade on in plumes of grease and dust. As anyone who took their first steps into the garage fug with the fabled Nuggets artefact this, like say The Standells, Seeds and almighty 13th Floor Elevators, realises, the gritty growl and lascivious sneer n’ leer - recalling at times Morrison’s both Van and Jim - of this bunch of swaggering dark-lords is an underworld ready and waiting for your willing soul to delve into deeper beyond the famed and acclaimed Shake (here in both 1968 single and Revisited 1969 versions) and Alone and the few on the Nuggets box (including I’ll Set You Free from this album). So, pretty essential then, say you? Yes, say we and I.
Stu Gibson

Saturday, April 25, 2009

4Bitten - No More Sins

A four piece bitten by the rockbug is the slightly dubious origin of their name. As such it suits as they are, as you may expect, beholden to the standard bearers and biblical-type behemoths of blues-driven hard rock. So, yes, we’re talking the usual slurry of late sixties and pre-punk seventies colossi like from Janis to Whitesnake, and yeah the kinda drivetime drudgery that Thunder toil over without really taking to task. Wah-laden guitar solos, stodgy drums and everyman sessionistic bass should all be strung upside down, leaving their heads in the bass bins at a Motorhead gig for their guilt. Greek descended front femme Fofi has a Tia Carerre in Wayne’s World kinda wail with some juice in reserve to joust a la Joplin. Contrary to first cursory impressions it contains quite an inventory of signpost dissolving riffsticks, starting off with a oil-burning riff-regimen (Lightnin’ Crashing) that could turn chest hair into tassles. There’s an inability to clinch the deal though, seemingly, as so often, getting mugged at the other end of the alley from where they just scored by their desire to accommodate all tastes and not be too risqué, resulting in an inability to sustain a whole album. By second helping (Believe) some funk-lite has reared its unrequired insignia, ruining the quite shirt-billowing riff that almost spirits you away to a rocky desert outcrop with a Les Paul and a definite feeling of vertigo; Tell Me is the slow-building ballad to air-punching hymn for the suspicious; Rock’n’Roll Dreams the requisite rags to riches fantasy fulfilment from a film like Light Of Day and Push It To The Limit is as tired a water-treading funk-rock workout as the title indicates. As far as such bar-belting blues-based by the numbers rock bastings go this would be worth a once or twice over, though if you want some originality and, maybe moreover, personality, over cloying and much-prided professionality, then haul ass offa that highway, chile, and, all hyall, I dunno, await Saraya’s remastered double-disc reissue of their debut!
Stu Gibson
Therapy? - Crooked Timber

'My shame will comfort you...' - Crooked Timber

Blimey, twelfth (!) - and first for a few years - album from Northern Irish melodiscordants. Still vicious, with slashing knife-edge guitar mayhem and caustic currents spewing from the decisive desire to evolve and not stagnate under the dictates of musical climates that offers no cauterization just the stench of decaying open wounds suppurating through society's pressures to constrain oneself and conform. Nasty, broiling distorto-bass fixes you with a stare that has the soul of JJ Burnell and underpins the quietly apoplectic discourses befitting the influence of philosopher Immanuel Kant (“From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”) and pummeling drums mesh under their long-standing melodic sensibility, which they never really recaptured after their initial, astounding brace of mini-albums back in the early nineties (Baby Teeth and Pleasure Death) and the faltering full-length debut Troublegum. Ranging from the New Model Army being drilled by Ministry on Enjoy The Struggle to Clowns Galore coruscating with Big Black harmonic disdain, onto almost Duran Duran style atmospherics dismembered and squished into Exiles and Blacken The Page, by way of epic martial stomp I Told You I Was Ill, this strides proudly, grimly and resplendent in grime-stained, slimy glory ahead of much rock and metal around at present. Throughout there’s a poise and a sense, if not strength, of purpose that may or may not reflect the thoughtful tack they’ve taken that acts as a successful counterpoint to the churning, angular attack in the musical tension and conflict. The faithful can rest assured though that no pandering to Killers style sap-pop has taken place amidst head therapissed(off) Andy Cairns. Still bitter, still twisted and ever so slightly sinister too. Whether such withering cynicism can cross no-man’s-land and beyond their usual slipstream and corral any new audience remains to be seen but in today’s stifling hegemony it wouldn’t be in any way undeserved as this is a refreshing blast of bleak stink that stands alone. And that’s alone and aloft not just alone as in cast adrift.
Stu Gibson
Draven - Eden

If you’re initially enticed by the cover sticker saying ‘half-cowboy bar brawl, half monsters of rock arena…’ - well the first part anyway - excitement levels will grow sharply at the opening waves of wah onslaught that are little short of Supersuckers Run Like A Motherfucker straight outta Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. Alas, after a mere sixteen seconds the guitars cut out to literally fulfil the second part of that sticker proclamation, for a funk-shuffle verse behinders the horizon resembling none other than Scarborough’s sod-faced sea-dodgers Little Angels, a fact that comes to the fore as soon as track three in the form of turgid, string laden, epic-striving, titular ballad that makes Ozzy’s history of balladic dross seem something out of his hero’s The Beatles backpages (a feat repeated on antiseptic whimper I Don’t Care). This colours not just the track but the entire proceedings thereafter. So like you ignore the Parental Advisory stickers (as opposed to them attracting your attention) this is really a crock of classic rock dross, not unlike Extreme playing at Skid Row. So, to shine a supernova of light onto the warning, don’t be duped into thinking Eden may be a treat of western-fringed rawkarowl sporting metal saddles or a diesel-dramming biker phalanx of thunderboogie, for this lies heavily, if not entirely, on it’s stadium aspirations, even rollickin contender Fight, which falls into the same cavernous pit that Blitz did by not having the balls to keep an adequately (was gonna put perfectly but that would’ve meant it’s in the league of Let There Be Rock or Hell’s Bells or something) riff going, like a novice with a power tool. By the time third simper-whinge Breathe filters through your absconding senses, following which Stranger applies the usual format of crunchy riff being seduced by a sagging, effects-laden arpeggio you’ll be wondering if this is a tax write off scam. Disappointing. Draven? Drivel.
Stu Gibson
Bob Log 111 - My Shit Is Perfect
Voodoo Rhythm

One man blues berserker Log regales us once agin from ‘neath his flight helmet and telephone contraption with chest-beating, alpha-male tales from a junkyard of broken scales. Log’s syndrome is hypnotic riff repetition in a tuning as idiosyncratic as Leadbelly’s set to sociopathic woodcutter rhythms that will make you dance like Mike Patton in the From Out Of Nowhere vid, deliver rectal evacuating punches like Ricky Hatton – quite possibly to yourself - and shake your head ‘round like you’re forever landing in your leading lady’s Dolly Parton-esque abundant breast. He’s no snake oil salesman with quack remedies but mantras for thy feets to shuffle about to, with sermons spoken in tongues collected from roadside safaris in the deep south of wild dogs intestines. Though noted for his stage antics, this Arizona desert rat is a long ways from an addled curio or novelty that he may have once seemed – and anyone that decries a guy who can entice the female audience contingent to mix his whiskey with their nipples is simply jealous. (I abhor the cunt by the way – I just want some more VR rekkids!). This isn’t as metabolically disintegrating as his earliest serrated ultra-Sonic torrents of tormented country blues stomps – he wails on opener Goddam Sounds Good ‘Turn up my fucking guitar’ and such cantankerous inducements should be adhered to more - though this proves a boon as he resembles an electric-shock crazed JJ Cale or a Hubert Sumlin swinging every hellhound by it’s scabby tail as he clangs chaingang hollers such as Bang Your Thing At The Ball, the titular track and Shake A Little, Wiggle It, And Jiggle It Too. Some of the splintering crisp-packet percussion doesn’t sit too well atop the gut-atrophying congregation of gregarious chin/ear/forehead swelling spittoon blues grooves at times but insensate serenades like Mr. Sis Boom Bah, Bucktooth Potato and Bumper Car he adeptly demonstrates his undoubted proficiency at the asylum inmates grand prix pile up of pickpocket-fast fingerpicking and artery-ailing slide-swipes. The occasional, purposeful tape-glitches that riddle various tracks like Bump Pow! Bump Bump Bump Pow! and Manipulate Your Figments manage to meld thirties carny blues of lore to trailer park monster truck trash-fests between the best of Butthole Surfers and Ministry while the bunny-fuck of Shinkansen Teh!! could easily eclipse itself under Belgian hardcore rave or in Death Metal enclaves. From the Beefheart (and maybe even Beck in his jalopy-rap delivery) influence you can see why Tom Waits is such a huge fan (indeed, twas once curiously rumoured to have been Tom himself behind the still elusive façade), though this possesses little, or none, of Waits’ narrative style nor does that matter as this moonshine and methedrine shaboogie is here to allow you to dance yer way merrily to delirium and devilment, and anything that makes you swill ‘Swamp swoowmp swoowwmp swooomp music’ round your open mouth is only ever a good thing. Not as sassy or malevolent as you may expect, by no means perfect – again what’s the point in that, especially on a label with such a ridiculously brilliant catalogue? - but for a unique re-imagining, or re-acquainting with, old idioms, this unruly secretion is right at home on this label that serves as a hovel for the most vital hoodoo. To paraphrase old Dolly, ya gotta be clever to be this cretinous.
Stu Gibson
Metamorphosis - Dark

Self-importance might be the epitome of prog but this ponderously labours in the completely po-faced parlour possessing none of the faint whimsy, fey grandeur or mystical allusions of Pink Floyd, personality of say Jean Michel Jarre or sleight of hand, insight (!) or sheer insane (apparent) perception and admirably ridiculous theatricality of King Crimson or even ELP. Weighed down with delusions of splendour, or so assured of it’s sagacity it’s simply purely patronising, this is pockmarked with paltry banalities and pre-teen philosophy addressing socio-political and economic declines such as ‘You praise your supersonic plane, sure you’ll need it / But there’s no safe place where you can fly to’ on Hey Man or the pathetic scratch at fat-cats that is the laughably trite ‘I heard about him, a bank CEO / He must be a kind of superman / He earns five hundred times more than I / He says he really feels no shame to it’ (with accidental self-awareness Knowing All I Do Is Worth Nothing) and with an average song length of just under eight minutes this has all the excitement, urgency and sense of portent as an out of date Christmas TV guide. So if lyrics aren’t exactly your tour de force – their asinine innocence make Genesis’ Land of Confusion appear a Cohen-esque epiphany - perhaps it would be slightly more appeasing if the music didn’t sound like an outtake from a Will Ferrell lampoon or something from Blake’s 7 or Tomorrow’s World circa 1983 done by the Young Gods as a joke for some light relief or to relinquish a contract. The climate’s sure in a parlous state – economic, social, political and whatever else but this somnambulant sermon can scarcely change key or tempo in the manner of it’s genre, and thus their progressive status merely equates to tedium not adroit lunacy. If the world’s gonna be flooded like a Crue backstage area in 1987 then this damp squib isn’t something to stem the slightest trickle never mind anything resembling a tide.
Stu Gibson

Friday, April 24, 2009

Brainerd - s/t

Zodiac Killer

Madison’s favorite groove metal maniacs have gone through some personnel changes since the bruise-inducing Animal Mother, but no harm done, except to eardrums. Brainerd still smashes and slashes, turning otherwise would-be morbid meditations on Demon in the Night, Devil Star and Blood Money into Pazuzu’s party anthems. If anything, the band’s sense of melody has gotten sharper; there’s no reason All Night Party (with its smoky organ lines) or Powerlines wouldn’t fit perfectly on the radio between Soundgarden and Pantera. Of course, no matter how evil you think you are, life always comes back to whether or not you’re gettin’ any, and Hurt in a Skirt caps the album off nicely with a situation to which we all can relate, fanged hellbeasts or no.

- Michael Toland

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Various Artists - Drink. Fight. Fuck. Volume III

Various Artists
Drink. Fight. Fuck. Volume III
Zodiac Killer

Zodiac Killer Records is one of our most consistent sources of louduglydirty rock & roll, so it only makes sense that the label’s Drink. Fight. Fuck. compilations provide the same sleazy pleasures. Most of Volume III is the usual lean and mean punk ‘n’ roll mania from the likes of the Candy Snatchers, the Hip Priests, the Wild Zeros, Kung Fu Killers, Hooked On Southern Speed, etc., with splashes of psychobilly thrown in. Some of the most notable cuts have a C&W edge – Utah County SwillersYoung Dumb and Flat TiresPayin’ Dues…Again nicely kick both shit and ass. Plus there are enough ringers here to get the attention of anyone not already on the Zodiac Killer train. Antiseen contributes a smashing cover of the Sex PistolsBelsen Was a Gas, the SupersuckersEddie Spaghetti (whose band is the likely inspiration for about half of ZK’s roster) weighs in on some Killer Weed, the DwarvesBlag Dahlia lays down his own country honk with Bitch I Love You (not the Black Joe Lewis song) and Hellstomper hits with You’re Gonna Kill That Girl, the last song the band ever recorded. (Though for my money King’s new group Polecat Boogie Revival is the superior entity, as evidenced by Barefoot at Lamar’s.) At 32 tracks, this collection is almost too much of a good thing, but excess is the point, right? Well, that, and, as the Broadsiders put it , Booze, Sex, and Breakin’ Necks.

- Michael Toland

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Marx - s/t

The Marx
Zodiac Killer

Made up of the usual ne’er-do-wells, the Marx hail from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, The band plays punk rock, but with a dirty, sleazy edge, like a bunch of spiky-haired diehards who’ve spent too many days in crackhouses with 20-dollar whores. Revved-up Chuck Berry licks meet Iggy-on-battery acid vocals on the way to sodomize a rhythm section. From Leg Ave. to Tie Me Up Tie Me Down to Zombie Hookers From Outerspace, the tunes are short and to the point, which is as it should be. The Marx doesn’t fuck around, and if you’re going to feed this into your player, neither should you.

- Michael Toland

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Love Boat - Imaginary Beatings Of Love
Alien Snatch

Italian teen or barely teen or at the very least liable to result in bare teens, trio toiling under the pouting at potty title of Toilet Power Pop (true or not, and I hope it is, they took to performing at house parties in the pissers) are a scintillatingly exuberant yahoo of drunken lollops down the stairs of Hotel Yorba with drums splashing in piss puddles like intellectually dishevelled bear cubs learning the finer arts of salmon fishing while guitars likewise splish, splash n’ take another carafe, shaking it down like Labradors on the aforemeantioned bears ursine ‘allucinogens as bits of Paint It Black (No Particular Girl To Love) and Adam and the Ants' Car Trouble (Lonesome Man) get mangled by some sort of George Formby captaining a pot-fuelled power boat with the Black Lips. Not just for the kazoo on Funny Guy or the wondrously skateboarding down the stairs harmonies, in the league of youthful vigour and endeavour this is about as far from Supergrass and Arctic gastric Monkeys as we are from a sober Shane MacGowan, which is absolutely, cuntarsingly fantastico.
Stu Gibson

Monday, April 20, 2009

Black Lips - 200MillionThousand

Fifth album from Georgia garage goons shows yet again their goofball image and antics (see the kicked out of India tour earlier this year) only add to their glorious ravages where lesser lights that act all out to lunch have to sneak back in with a manager checking their watches, The ‘Lips just keep smacking n’ snacking till the slack crazies slip someway or other. As usual they sniff at the Stooges, leaving them to the shiny panted no penis schtick the copyists generally are, instead slurping, snogging n' doggedly snaffling their way through gorgeously bedraggled brown psychedelics and blue powders to court you with joyously, lugubriously cute songs sang by the muppets impersonating the Dead Milkmen like Drugs and that give you goosebumps, butterflies make you laugh and fall in love cryingly with any lunkhead’s snot that happens to be next to you or Starting Over, a 4am loping lament homewards gurgling The Velvets' Sunday Morning and Ramones' I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend as it collapses into the arms of his best buddy who serenades him with the drunken doowop jam with the Mary Chain on Love Is Strange haze of I’ll Be With You to what resemble trashes at Troggs covers (Let It Grow) recorded whilst howling at the floor in a foetal position with only reverb to save them while Arthur Brown floats in and out of and on peripheral visions being painted by Captain Beefheart (Trapped In A Basement, aptly) to the closing eerie Bull Of The Woods era Elevators of I Saw God. Cartoonish yes, but this madness amused melancholy is so completely cheeky, charmingly careless and quite cocooned in a gurning genius almost as loveable as The Replacements. Few bands contort the Nuggets staples into such vilely addictive crescendos or irreverent and wondrous unpredictability. Fun and frisky as well as disturbing and full of heart, and if it’s too ragged to be staggeringly amazing check a few sentences back, ignore the NME squall and stick this on yer tongue, before they stick more than that on it.
Stu Gibson
Top Johnny! - Top Johnny!

With an opener called Bad Boy (For LovingYou) not so much falling out a corset as it dreams of but nursing aspirations of saving up for a wonderbra with lines like ‘We’re a match and I’m gonna strike it’ and ‘With you I feel like breaking all the rules’ it may come as no surprise whatsoever that these Montreal ballers play the sort of workman-like straight to seventh generation tape copy of hair metal hauling sub-Coverdale paunch on a package tour with the remnants of the slivers of rawk glory that Great White originally managed to snag, mixed - sorry, dowwwwn - with a bit of Bizkits in Limpin Park modernity in its later stages that at least resemble Saigon Kick a little, though not that one good song they did. Attempting to coax almost every cliché in the book into it’s floorspace it’s bound for a cocktail down the front or, I dunno, maybe these lines work in some strange land but Love You Like An Animal (‘When you move your body it’s like a tidal wave crashing down on me’!), The Edge (Is Where The Action Is) – wherein our hero TJ confides he lives on the razors edge and in the fast lane - and Out Of Control ring about as true as Sebastian Bach competing successfully on a quiz show against Stephen Fry. Alas (for them), despite some strict adherence to the ingredients of the guitarists book of cock rock licks (and putting brackets in song titles) everyone’s real gone love dawwwg, and fellow countryman, Danko Jones wouldn’t even bother to even dribble here to mark his territory, and real sexy lovecats Chop Suicide wouldn't tender any therapy, 'cept perhaps of the most sadistic sort. More sunset cycle path than boulevard.
Stu Gibson

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Meteors - Hell Train Rollin
People Like You

'I stay buried in the dark- cos I fuckin scare myself...' - Never Stop The Hate Train

'Satan calls me bastard - Sometimes He calls me Paul...
He never calls me bitch - Sometimes he don't talk to me at all' - Devilbone Fugue

It may be said P Paul Fenech’s psycho stalwarts churn out album after album not on a treadmill as such but a sausage grinder, ankles first, please. But if so, they’re intermittently assaulted with some extra spice that their gruppenfuhrer grasps from some backstreet midnight plunders, as here we see in visceral, signpost-wilting gristly grisly detail this self-mytholigising and gleefully egregious ubermunster excel himself in the viciousness stakes from the clanking chaingang into a death-pit opener of Never Stop The Hate Train (including mandatory snipe at label'mates' Demented Are Go) to cry for the badman vampire-surf of Another Day On Fire, the Ace of Spades pummelling of Down and Dirty and the old school psycho stomp of Devilbone fugue and that’s just the first four rounds, stop crying it ain’t over yet. Elsewhere in these chambers' twists and turns, skewered on the stepladders he cleans the gutters with of a weekend, the abysmally inspired b-movie title of Surfin’ Home On A Dead Girl (rivalling The Cramps Naked Girl Falling Down The Stairs in those stakes) the sort of mariachi instrumental that'd give Chris Isaac dire scrumpy cider shits fior several weeks and awe-gore-westerns often found on Fenech's solo work like the wondrous sun-down sombrero massacre Slice By Slice. Forget the psycho-scene’s comedy backbiting and slice a needle through this and compare it to many, many lesser lights that can often barely muster up a faint flicker and whimper behind doors where this stomps intent on crushing down the walls of the corridor with every deathknell, kneecapping beat. That these songs seemingly drop like pills, or raindrops, or bloodspatters, is some feat. That this album cuts 'em up sweet n' neat and corrals em into one corner is all the better, despite the odd one slipping by like Pure Evil in the frenzy that falls prey to bloodlust away from the cold killer eyes. For all the self-aggrandising chest-beating (Psychobilly Number 1, a joke continued over many albums - though you can bet yer ass he believes it) there’s always humour (the intro exchange to (They Call Me) Creepy), bad taste and yup bad taste humour, a truck load o’ twang and barrel loadsa rumble if you wanna roll. And blood. And you know what they say about that don’t you, kids? And you want walk it like you talk it? Walk right back down here, spring chicken.
Stu Gibson
Jeff Dahl - Back To Monkey City
Steel Cage

'Save us from ourselves Lord - Deliver us from sin
Lead us from temptation - So we can Rock'n'Roll again...' - Salvation, Temptation And Sin

Sand-scorched, whiskey-wired rawkarolla coaster-chompin’ crew with cactus-spikes instead of studs on gnarled leathers and between teeths from Arizona laden with attitude and addled with the right dose of don’t give a fuck devil may care free for all Heartbreaker strafin’ right from the get go, get out, and get on (my bike, not yours) of the opening belt-slackenin’ title track. Dahl snarls and pouts fight songs for any phet-fugged deserted stunner and detested son like the there but for the grace of ‘DC stomp on Salvation, Temptation And Sin, twisting preacher’s po-faced catechisms into a clamouring call to replenish the rock reserves, and with fender-melters like the Mott-hop glory of I Am A Mess (or I Never Miss as it can sound like, for true kamikaze death bastard boogie anthem) and Thunders put-down to a cast-off Rat's Ass, this widens arteries and leaves ‘em desperate for more. Showing such seemingly simple straight ahead no frills rollin’ ruck for the piously perverse and lingering long-gone is by no means a quick, cheap fix and is a skeleton key for any old ignition box. Literally blistering.
Stu Gibson
Sean Walsh Band - timetravellersexmachine

Surprisingly enough and non in galore for anything with such a title is only gonna be rooted in one thing right? Oh yes. For time traveller read slightly spacey blues rock with instantly detectable poses from a line up of overly usual and insipid late 60’s suspects from this Dutch trio (now, where’ve we heard that one before). For slightly spacey blues plod read a fondness for slightly staccato licks with mucho reverb, possibly meant to herald shooting stars but the only nova appearing is more likely to be your scratty weed dealer. T’aint too bad as it goes, I mean, it’s better – often far better, but hey, lest I blunt my knives too much - than The Answer and those other two Irish bands that followed and stodgy sub-Hendrix / Led Zep criminal fakery of Kravitz, Jet and the colostomy-certifiable Wolfmother. Aping Hendrix and attaining a certain level of his inventiveness must be praised though, no natter how much of a cynical old haircut you are. In the large scale of things that isn’t a wholesale price sort of recommendation, I agree. Of that ilk, not galxies apart as you'd hope, but with bigger balls, laudably more soul (and the next line wasn’t ever going to be ‘it doesn’t take much), not least from Walsh's thick Leffe-meets-Guiness roar and lacking the impotent froth that’ll wet the floppy hair at festivals. Personal preference suggests taking the title and running as the country kershuffle of Last Man Standing beats the tongue-in-cheek bluster of much of this, um, pants down.
Stu Gibson
The Deep Eynde - Blackout: The Dark Years
People Like You

Sultry goth-swooping (apologies, death rock) LA-brood piles on the atmospherics but rarely gets past plying the tricks long since ceased, if they ever were, being secrets known only to those in the throes of shamanistic rites, or those who adopted slum Yorkshire towns and stumbled about in quasi-stoned trances. Opener My Darkest Hour murmers it all, riff from Love - minus the heart – mixed with MTV era Psychedelic Furs without the what the fuck am I doing disdain and plummeting to watering holes where Wayne Hussey waits murkily for his next mission (yup, guess he’ll be older than Gandalf by now waiting to hobble to the shops to buy 40 fags and a Mail on Sunday). Elsewhere songs like Red Necklace ape Seventeen Seconds era Cure, forgetting almost admirably to at least copy Primary or A Forest not the other shite on it, and all from Siouxsie to Bauhaus (Road Rash). We getting the picture here? Anyone we missed? Oh, even Depeche Mode crop up on Magic Man. Generic sub-goth that I think even Gene Loves Jezebel would grin about. A case of too much striving without any traces of the insurmountable enticing seductiveness - nor the supposed theatricality they’re noted for - of the bands leader Fate Fatal is obviously so in thrall to. They have a certain pedigree, with Rezurex’ Daniel deLeon appearing on a few songs and real LA creepshow seatstainers 45 Grave drummer Hal Satan a long-term fixture, just throughout this anthology –even the slightly more tantalising corpsebilly shuffle of 13th Floor and fatal-fever The Feast– they remain unconvincing. Though there’s a complimentary DVD of lives and vidclips, if you’re interested.
Stu Gibson

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Nerves - One Way Ticket
Alive Natural Sound

Fresh outta the Bomp vaults this largely unreleased set shows The Nerves parlayed a non-procrastination belter of brash power pop that label legend Greg Shaw specialised in, y’know the sorta svelte swish sashays with slightly lip-smacking bittersweet tongue stains that The Beatles did as saccharine lachrymose shite in their early days, before they, like, invented psychedelia and Bono Lennon and shit, and before it all got cooped into a media pen as new wave. Anyway, this contains their only official EP release along with tracks slated for the follow up (being the Byrds 8 mile high on a rocket to Russia with a hip-flask of brace of Paper Dolls and One Way Ticket), lives, demos and the stunning fizz-frenzy of Walking Out On Love from breakaway band, erm, The Breakaways should be purchased for many more reasons – one being the Jack Lee solo It’s Hot Outside - than they being the originators of Blondie’s mainstream smash/crash Hanging On The Telephone, feature country-folk troubadour Peter Case in early incarnation and blatantly the band that the lonely, Loney-less Flamin’ Groovies sold their Gretsches for on the bland Jump In The Night late seventies era. File under lost classic with bile, style and baby, worth using up a little of your time.
Stu Gibson
Omar Kent Dykes
Big Town Playboy

A usual all/some/ok, a couple just to make ‘em feel welcome star collection / trawl through the blues songbook? Sorta maybe, though this long-standing Texan stalwart knocks ‘em back from under bars many but the meanest adherents wander into, and many of those’d merely pass through, sauntering back to that all too commercial old Clapton and Cray crybabyin'. Sure, ain’t much hooch here gonna attract too many strays but this follow up to popular 2007 party maraud through legend Jimmy Reed’s crumpled papers with fellow Tex-blues luminary Jimmy Ray Vaughan features many of the same session dudes (including Vaughan, harp heroes Lazy Lester and James Cotton and Lou Ann Barton’s sassy vocals) struttin’ n’ shufflin’– in the best sense of the word – through other post-war electric blues mayhem and midnight howlers like Eddie Taylor’s title track, John Lee Hookers’ sloping n’ sly No More Doggin’ that Rosco Gordon did such a great half-cut, eyes half-shut stumble through. A tip-top tip o’ the hat by a rightful cat.
Stu Gibson

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Punk As a Doornail - Flogging the Punk Horse

Punk As a Doornail
Flogging the Punk Horse
Zodiac Killer

There are rock duos like the White Stripes or the Black Keys, who play big-ass, bluesy rock & roll that covers for the sparse instrumental lineup (or deficiencies). There are also rock twosomes like They Might Be Giants or Ween, who use humor and a million overdubs to fill out the sound. Then there’s Punk As a Doornail, who are somewhere in between. The pair’s bluesy punk (performed on drums, miscellaneous percussion and some Dr. Seuss-looking thing called a skatar) mixes with whimsical little ditties like Mother’s Day (Don’t punch her in the face/Because it’s Mother’s Day/Give her a break), Richard’s Farm (which warns Don’t let Richard near the barn!), Money Better Spent On Beer (self-explanatory) and Personal Hygiene (ditto). The tunes choogle on what are essentially bone-simple slide guitar riffs, but let’s face it: the music doesn’t matter as much as the lyrics. Your mileage may vary, depending on whether or not you think a song called A Sh*t Called Art (guess what they rhyme art with) is funny on the face of it. But the pair is smart enough to run the songs together like one big number, and they’re over and done before the 30 minute mark. I don’t know how well Flogging a Punk Horse will hold up over repeated listens, but it’s good for at least one half-hour of entertainment.

- Michael Toland

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Datsuns - Headstunts

The Datsuns
Cooking Vinyl

New Zealand’s Datsuns had to fight an unwarranted hype machine when they first arrived on the scene a few years ago – not because they didn’t have talent, but simply because the “Rock is back!” juggernaut back then was so ill-informed (rock never went away, ya doofuses) that it made them easy to dismiss. But the quartet has persevered with its garage glam stomp and made it to album #4. Headstunts is, like the band’s prior output, fairly uneven. Witty, ass-kicking cuts like Highschool Hoodlums, Eye of the Needle and Hey! Paranoid People! (What’s in Your Head?) sit alongside more generic offerings that achieve acceptable solidity but little sparkle. The band also makes some inroads to psychedelia – the resulting Somebody Better indicates that more trips down this lane might be advisable. The Datsuns have long suffered the common fate of rock & roll acts of this stripe: their live show flattens their recorded work like a steamroller moving over a dandelion. But that’s to be expected. One of these days someone will compile a smartly-chosen Datsuns best-of, and the band will finally hit the sweet spot on a consistent basis.

- Michael Toland

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Black Math Horseman - Wyllt

Black Math Horseman
Tee Pee

You know what’s often missing in popular music these days? A sense of mystery. I don’t mean projects by pseudonymous musicians making music for shits & giggles that they wouldn’t sully their main outlets with (hello, Goblin Cock), but a genuine air of what is this and where does it come from? I get that from Black Math Horseman. The L.A. foursome undulates through heavy guitar riffs, soaring melodies, alternately plodding and gliding rhythms and an aura of sorcerous dread, like a coven of black magicians breaking off the rituals for the night and hauling out the instruments for a jam session. Bassist Sera Timms mixes her vocals at midrange, making her pronouncements unintelligible and enigmatic. Who the heck knows what Torment of the Metals is about, or what A Barren Cause is? Who cares? There’s a little Sabbath, a little Hawkwind, a little goth metal and quite a bit of Black Widow. But enough of the band’s own ideas emerge from the smoke to make Wyllt both immediately appealing and not quite like anything you’ve heard before.

- Michael Toland

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Julian Sas
Wandering Between Worlds
Some manner of euro Strat sailor and saluter a la Walter Trout or Gary Moore it seems, perhaps even a Jeff Healey, though this Dutchman isn’t quite so frantically intent on wearing fingertip size indentations in every fret of a guitar within the first three songs. Owing similar homage to Hendrix and Peter Green as those two, this live album, backed just by cohorts on drum and bass activities, comes as CD with DVD available as well, presumably to indulge the fraternity of bedroom fret-fantasists, and also includes four new tracks. Loudly proclaiming it to be absolutely live with no post-op surgery, invasive or otherwise, it must also be said that this SAS gent can certainly wring seven bells of sweetly stinging sermons on the strife’s and fallacies of this existence outta his Strat to stain your soul clean, though it may well depend on how staunchly set up your stomach is to cope with the staple of protracted blues odysseys. Picture this – two discs there be with roughly an hour’s music on each (eight tracks and six tracks respectively). This should cut a large, crusade-winning swathe through any beliefs you may still unwittingly hold about preconceptions as even a brief calculation of the average song length should elicit groans if not digestive collapse. Sure, among aficionados of the still, on this evidence, fertile field there may well be a Great White style feeding frenzy in rapture at the gilded, glistening gamut of prodigious guitar graft on display. But, to the fan of song, or casual listener, this holds the danger of representing the ultimate in labouring a point. And with many tracks being of a sedate, however sizzling, pedestrian nature it’s also a long-winded way to labour those points.
Stu Gibson
Rock Child
Rock Child
While the name may well lead you to approach this with caution bordering on malicious, disinterested ridicule, these New Yorkers are at home in the oddity community most often associated with their adopted home city – in the case of frontlady Tat Jane Bego, at least - over their rather poor name more suggestive of palm tree-lined boulevards and spandex-clad simpletons and swag-blaggers than this utterly deceptive crossover, under, sideways, down. So, thankfully not exponents of Aerosmith style balladeering for the most decrepit of old buzzards but a very curious amalgam of rock, metal and the arch artiness long of NYC repute. Rambling shambling arrangements with metallic-edged themes coexist alongside stuttering rhythms but a suitably NYC looseness and idiosyncracy is also not going to be passed over with just scant asides in this script. There are shards and smudges of Blondie and Lydia Lunch’s disdainful experimentalism, yet married to dated, but endearingly durable, euro metal possessed of the primordial looseness inherent in the early hardcore scene. Although far from identical, there are similarities to Kate Bush in delivery (possibly helped along by Bego’s Dutch descent) had she been a product of Big Apple’s bowels rather than Home Counties kook, as the vocals frequently fly off the handle and ascend buildings by shinning up drainpipes and inching along windowsills, playing cat and mouse between disembodied shriekery and atonal, hard-of-hearing, harpy of the radioactively glowing lands. The guitar styles, heedlessly – laudably! - throwing stabbed rhythms interspersed with arpeggios that suddenly descend into chainmail unlinking interludes, suggest they may ideally have been after a heavier sound but, being unsigned, perhaps budget constraints put paid to further production. As it is, despite having a definite demo quality to it, which in this case is a damn good thing, there’s an intelligent design here that the name and somewhat amateurish sleeve work kept hidden. It’s intriguing working out if this is a happy, classic, punk-rock style coincidence - an entirely accidental fusion of forms where the Siouxsie meets Toyah or Hazel O’Connor vocals lend it an ethereal, sci-fi aura, atop the deliciously cantankerous and unpredicatable guitar squall a la classic early Hole. Their stated love of Neil Young alongside the regular metal influences indicates a method behind, and probably hovering about and inbetween, the brash banshee abrasiveness to unite in the unique isobar they seem to have randomly and recklessly stumbled across on their way to speed metal, especially, as they do frequently, the tendency towards the epic anthem shared by both the major league metal titans as well as the sprawling voyages undertaken by several late sixties / seventies country rocking scruffs is indulged. Maybe a full-scale production would allow extra tangents to be investigated, though what is gained in power and poise may well suppress the gauche ingenuity in the depths here. Just ditch the name. In fact ditch it, concrete over said ditch instantly, do not mark the spot nor ever speak of it again. Promises of metal for error-fuelled nights as well as possible colossal sojourns through country curses and arid crescents are far more than was expected. Go ahead, ignore all insistent urges to not bother and surprise yourself. Pleasantly or otherwise is entirely up to you. Stu Gibson
Nico's Alchemy
Fundamental Darkness
Dirty Dog
No, come back, don’t be alarmed, well not as much as if it were the Maiden drummer, surname McBrain, who’d come a-conjuring of a sudden, anyway, in some vague attempt to ensnare us as to his wit, wisdom and quite probably woeful writing talents. Music and a fair few inhabitants of milky ways, spiral galaxies and medium-sized provincial towns and cities can breathe easier, or perhaps just as easily as usual, for one suspects this isn’t really going anywhere anytime soon, except maybe to a few well-manicured hands of guitar magazine hoarders (cursory net searches already reveal it to be the 5/5 album of the month in Guitar Technique magazine. Need we progress? Well, this Nico, it appears, is a chap - full name Nico T. Tamburella - and is an Italian-born, presently dwelling in London, fret-head and euro warrior somewhat akin to Gary Moore’s continental doppelganger who got lost in the widdle-worshipping eighties, where he started out first in his native Italy before swapping coasts for LA, in an Aldo Nova, Marino or Joe ‘definitely not Strummer’ Satriani mould with Piling on the pomp like a Poison pre-party hairspray parade in 1986 – would you just look at that title! By the powers invested in him and unlocked with years of careful study at the feet of a grand master he is going to wipe the world’s ailments away with a few (or several) gentle nudges of his whammy bar and a few itinerant tapping techniques and obtuse scales, just as if he was brushing a child’s hair. If this were toilet roll it’d certainly (think it should) be four-ply cushioned with truffles. As for circumstance, there may well be more in a cycle track. Closet nerd boys or right out in the open (leather) anoraks can debate the varying merits of the guitar aristocracy – fer instance, you can actually produce a heroically guitar-centric record that is also a very magnificent work of art (see Scelerata, or Ozzy’s Randy Rhoads Tribute) rather than songs by and large being a vehicle on the back roads while the guitaring is equivalent to a specially constructed jet-pack contraption. Ponderous backings over which the guitar floats and flurries occur too often, much rock is awol somewhere along the way, unless you are in desperate need for stodgy plodding allotment rock like It’s Enough, that make Thunder look like the types to push boundaries way past those dismantled by the likes of Captain Beefheart, Zappa, Waits, even that Radiohead lot. Even the piano-led, mid-morning strum-sesh of Miss Sensation isn’t safe from the incessant, rampant strafings of the effects-laden string-straining. It may appear to be self-contradictory to now say it isn’t that bad (the main riff of Save Me Jesus could desecrate Sunday services as efficiently as Sabbath, though the rest achieves the dubious distinction of appearing to be Bon Jovi with less cloying over-bearing sentiment sans soul), but again it’s just sorta there, ambling along pleasantly, if somewhat self-importantly at times. Nico surely can play the geetar but so can the likes of the aforementioned Satch and Steve Vai. It doesn’t necessarily follow that such virtuosity ensures appetising sounds issue from those flickering fingers, as Yngwie Malmsteen famously, amply, though not fabulously, demonstrated. Not unlikely to provide certain kinds of businessman or office management type a surge of rock’s clandestine thrills, before that morning meeting or lunch-schmooze.
Stu Gibson

Saturday, April 04, 2009

As The Lights Go Down
As the resurgence of everything eighties continues with all the indecent haste of a Stalinist firing squad so does the tendency for bands to plunge into the mainstream melee and thus achieve mere meandering status. Built on the sturdy buttresses of usual suspects such as Maiden, Metallica, GN’R and Queen it quickly takes you into a realm of despair at the landscapes bereft of true inspiration that it proudly opens up to you. Sure there’s melody and soaring vocals – by numbers - and some chug-thrusting guitars but it’s all too redolent of a Ford Mondeo advert (because the name conjures Nightranger?), too clinically concise and it generally drifts past on gently undulating waves of bluster that aren’t too clued up about where or when they’re going to come to a rest or what shop to go into first nor which unruly tyke to tell off beforehand. The sound and spirit of those bands above is largely, or, let’s be blunt, massively absent in this. Some may take the side that this indicates a sloughing off of such childish affairs as influences. Though from this rickety seat, rest assured that it does mean that this is sorely needing the single, slight but massive in scope, spark of individuality to shake it’s main above the parapets It’s not terrible and will no doubt succeed on a smallish scale, though one large enough to prove me wrong. It just doesn’t do very much at all never mind go anywhere, and never mind again it actually convincing the listener to divest some attention in their direction. That will then, I suspect, serve to embolden my misanthropy into ever greater mires of curious condescension and quizzical incomprehension at the audience awaiting with barely acknowledged baited breath for bands brandishing such bland, banal, bread knife music. Then again, look at pretty much any mass appeal – many a slight appeal too, for that matter – band and try not to come to a sociopathic conclusion. Dull as several decades of dishwater from the dampest, dirtiest, down at heel drablands of Dewsbury. Class dismissed.
Stu Gibson
The Guilty Hearts
Pearls Before Swine
Voodoo Rhythm

This quartet hail from and rail around East LA’s last chance saloons and lost roll casino’s, lashing the Hispanic sections' long-established roots in Rockabilly into the ground as the foundation on which their concrete-cracking garage squall can fester in abundantly arable degeneration. Assailed by storms and street hassles these monuments to raw, whisky-raddled, risk-reared rumpus can never stay constantly secure and so are prone to episodic bouts of pandemonium as they succumb to the peculiarly pickled ravages of ju ju howls, mentally incapacitating mantras and driftwood dirges over unscrupulous daughters, as started on their self-titled debut VR release of a couple years ago. It should be noted that honcho mister uno Herman Senac was founder of cow-punk decimation squadron Blood On The Saddle, which may at least partly explain why this doesn't settle for paltry yelps at The Stooges back pockets and frayed seams. Early Gun Club remain an obvious reference point, you can also detect the drone of Spacemen 3 on sweltering, petrol-fume-throated 3,000 Miles, they in turn being overly influenced by Jeffrey Lee’s lot as well as Suicide, and classic sixties monoxide-riled marauders like The Seeds (Forbidden Wayout) and The Count Five (Of Faith) and on upto The Birthday Party (Suffer So Easy) and Billy Childish (Don't Wanna Know). Once again, part 33, Voodoo Rhythm resident dimension-shifting chieftain Beat-Man unleashes a unique asset of his singular production line, for general ubiquity to ignore.

Stu Gibson

Wednesday 13
Blood Work


Following last year’s Skeletons album then the live CD/DVD hextravafanga Fuck It We’ll Do It Live comes this limited EP. Released in conjunction with his current tour as well as heralding a cull on activities as the curtain descends on the last chaotic year or so. Ever more inveterately entertaining the pentagram tooth-picking diminutive devil-raiser starts the skewering opening sequence with a two-pronged frenzy of new blood that has playful nursery rhyme B-Movie Babylon blistering, listing a roll-call at midnight mass atop seething cauldrons and chainsaw shrieks of reanimated WASP relics and Plan 9-budget creepy keyboards lathering threats like ‘I’m the worms in the can / I’m the corpse in the bodybag’ in gore and groans galore. A line like ‘I’m your neck in the noose / I’m your screw that’s coming loose’ casts a slight light through cracked clapboard walls that the angst and allusions are still digging deep, which, despite the sheer exuberant fun of much of the muck he rakes through, is a striking reason why he levitates himself out of the trough into the realms of real idol. Return Of The Living Dead disinters it’s shattered shell from similar ground but opens up the throttle like a well severed carotid to force stakes splicing the heart of the live favourite rampage through Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream. From Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13’s comes I Love To Say Fuck (featuring the pleasing admission ‘I don’t care if you’re my mother / or my motherfuckin’ father’) to retwisted visits down shadowy paths on My Demise B.C. and Skeletons A.D. – already haunting extracts from the album of that name, here embalmed acoustically, releasing the purifyingly odious stench of desolate gothic grandeur with pictures of graveyards, candlelit black-shrouded scribes in stain-glass windowed church antechambers. Talk is of a hiatus for the foreseeable while he readies his country side-project Bourbon Crow to go to town. For now, this is a slight though essential means to curtail this chapter in Joseph Poole’s scar-tossed career.
Stu Gibson
Louisiana Red and Little Victor's Juke Joint
Back To The Black Bayou

One of the few current breed of blues belters n’ brooders that can trace some kind of lineage back to the roots and sources from whence the blues idiom originated, or at least was refined and ratified. The calibre of coaching from Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and more resonates throughout this simmering recording mainly comprised of the artist reacquainting himself with bygone travels. And quite marvellously does he acquit the proceedings too. Not too many steps removed from the late seventies Muddy Waters sessions stewarded by Johnny Winter that begat Hard Again and I’m Ready, with the James Cotton / Jerry Portnoy harp roles taken here by producer Little Victor. With a life lived under the black cloud of the real, though intangible, blues, including his father being a victim of a KKK lynching when he was five, El Red has an easily authoritative stance many strive to replicate and simply stall in all too apparent facsimiles of inherent feel and loose, shrug-back shuffles and street-beat salutes and slumbers. Born in 1932, Louisiana Red is all too rare - thin on the ground maybe, but thick on the heart and head - in a field whose name and symbolisms have long ago and worlds apart largely been cast onto the pyres of myth in favour of ersatz cappucino and latte froth culture of little or no significance or accord.

Stu Gibson

Friday, April 03, 2009

Suck 'n' Swallow
Boss Tuneage

Celebrating their quarter century of quart sucking, sick-touching under the rather restrained heading 25 years 25 songs, more like 25 songs about girls, sly gropes and impromptu groanings set to grisly, endearingly naff but deceptively uplifting (yeahhaha) surf-thrash of beer spray and bbq sauce smears, these Aussie purveyors of dork ogling nork songs and half-assed fizz-cum-psychocandy sugar pop are definitely a Hard-On to go home with. Insert any sneaky japes about staying power anywhere around but every home should have one. Or more. Leonard Cohen would disapprove sagely or otherwise from the corner, but with this in your greasy mitts you’ll do whatever it takes to sate your slavish fetish for thrill-seeking splutter-punk a la Ramones meets early Mudhoney before it got all streamlined into non-sticky Green Day, Blink 182 trite tripe. Stu Gibson


Though heading out down acoustic trails South Carolinian post-grungers Noxious here utilize the same streamlined approach as their earlier amplified clunking grunge-groaning groove-work (Broken and Fish Bowl feature from previous Revilutia) and it's difficult to see if this'll kick back any further stools at the bright, air-conditioned bar, or remain a curio in the hardcore's archives. It immediately springs images like Extreme swaying on chairs doing More Than Words and, slay me for cliche-whoring, but the fabled looseness of their native south has passed these boyos far by on some other bayous. At it’s best as on the western wail and radiator grill harmonica’s of Fresh Veins and the pensive Long Hard Road recall Bon Jovi’s Blaze Of Glory west-winning schlock, which may say all you need and more, and the Black Crowes tinges on Wake Up Call infer inviting new vistas, should they loosen up further and shimmy away from the hard rock stamp that remains the main constraint on this admirable, though overly earnest, endeavour. With Pearl Jam pretensions streaming to the fore alongside the much touted Alice In Chains and Soundgarden resemblances, this is too much of an altogether even flow affair, lacking truly inspiring overturning of rocks or rolling away of stones, no matter how it might seem to break the chains as on cinematic donkey-plod of brooding Destructist with it’s shimmery strings and triumphal trumpets, it’s all too redolent of a dream montage flashing vague signs that blurrily suggest inspiration but send the voyager down the same stretch of road of perspiration. Fans will disagree but it stays in the stodgy land of sub-standard grunge with non of the splendour Smashing Pumpkins, say, managed to sprinkle over the genre, and for all the apparent impassioned soul-searching they’re still screaming at the impassive skies. Stu Gibson

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wish You Were Here
Leslie Simon
(Harper Paperbacks)

Well, would you look at this? It's Holly's first Sleazegrinder book review! (As an aside, this is actually the second book that I have been sent to review, but the first one was so dreadful that I elected to ignore it. If you come across it in a bookstore someday, might I suggest that you ignore it, as well? Ah Christ, I feel guilty even typing the title so you'll be able to recognize, and, therefore, avoid, it. If you really must know, you can message me. I'd offer to send you my copy, but I'm using it for scrap paper.)

Okay, where were we? Ah yes, Wish You Were Here, the second bound literary offering from 's Leslie Simon, coauthor of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. (I am infinitely thankful that I didn't have to read that one, let me assure you.) In this "essential guide to your favorite music scenes-from punk to indie and everything in between," Simon focusses on eleven influential American musical hotspots, providing a brief history of each scene, its major players (including bands, albums, record labels, promoters, and clubs), and a handy Lonely-Planet-esque guide to the area's notable venues and eateries. Each chapter also offers a snide comedic bit poking fun at the various scenes and their accompanying scenesters. Simon writes like a true grinder of sleaze, albeit one raised on a consumer diet of Gossip Girl, Perez Hilton, Dashboard Confessional, and Diet Coke. But she does know her musical history, and her knowledge of popular culture is frightening in its scope. (More names were dropped in the writing of this book than flakes of snow fell in southern Ontario this past winter. And we got a lot of fucking snow, man.) Would I recommend this book? Sure. Maybe not to hardcore sleaze fans, because you probably don't give a shit about where Conor Oberst played his first gig, but I'd recommend it to fledgling music fans raised on consumer diets of Gossip Girl, Perez Hilton, Dashboard Confessional, and Diet Coke in a heartbeat. She's smart, sarcastic, and fun, this Leslie girl, and she also recognizes Adam Levine (from Maroon 5)'s inherent douchebaggery, and that definitely counts for something.

(As an aside, one thing that drove me bonkers about this book was the footnotes. The notes themselves were always informative and/or entertaining, but the asterixes used to direct the reader to said footnotes were printed in what has to be the world's tiniest font. Most of the time, I wasn't even aware of a footnote's existence until I saw the text there at the bottom of the page, and then I had to scan the page with a magnifying glass to locate the little fucker to which the footnote corresponded. Harper Collins, if you're reading, might I recommend fixing this in subsequent printings? Your readers will thank you.)

Iggy Pop
Lust For Life

From an eighties German TV show, broadcast back when lil Iggles had a brief spell as chart fodder with his banal, barely adequate version of Real Wild Child which ironically cast him more as Debbie Gibson’s love hunk in some teen movie (maybe not something we wanna see) this slight (40 minute) snapshot raises itself above any castigations of being risible slew for featuring an exquisite exchange with the presenter of a Canadian TV chat show, where it really seems like Mr Pop is going to ‘do an Emu’ and eat his patronising face off. You can almost see the visible switch in personality and slip into punk-psychologist mode.
Without Ron Asheton’s death (who features here in an unfortunate tashe episode) occurring in a ghastly coincidence with this release, the interview with Ron and footage of him twanging away between shots of the old neighbourhoods would always have been of interest, especially in light of The Stooges reunion, as would the primitive clips of Iggy wiggling, though centrestage must go to the rooftop interview, the enigmatic manic charisma provoking much awe-struck rewatching, above the bizarre approximation of what passed for a haircut on the live clips from the then current Euro tour. As always with such releases, a bumper pack with a few similar programmes would be welcome and certain parts without subtitles isn’t much help unless you habitually lapse into German after too much of your favourite slump-juice, but this is an intriguing, if not essential, aside, though one that smacks of hard-faced cash-in. Appropriate really, what with Iggy’s cavorting about for the car insurance yen.
Stu Gibson
2nd District
Poverty Makes Angry
People Like You

Second album of street-sleaze punk-pouting poetry from these gallant Ruhr rockers rampages all over and through the bones of their vehemently excellent debut like heroically trash messed humvees far more like a Hanoi Rocked Undertones than towels of doldrums thinking pretending not to be potty-trained passes for a patina of punk n’ rock’n’roll. Fuck that. Despite the too mannered at times requisite disdainful Lydon yelp like Jimmy Pursey being served by the Young Ones’ Rik, Marc Ader’s delivery is of refreshing sardonic eagerness cauterised by caustic cynicism with an at times deeply affecting slur. Neither tawdry sub-Manics wannabe tat nor laboriously lobotomized bonzoi bobbins though they sure can rustle up some Harry-hurrying chantarama as on the brilliantly observed wittical Sporting Socks and Sandals and The Last Anthem. From the deranged boys swinging a go go from opening night chandeliers instrumental opener of Monoxide to the frenetic salute of I Love My Life to The Only One and Drinking (The Song) to so long adieu’s The Hardest Part and closing down last swing for the old veneer of Don’t Fear The Fear this is up there like a very thirsty dog with the very best of recent low-slung, belt-loosening (see Die Hunns last, f’rinstance). Indiscriminate passion without discretion, and far more than Backyard Babies with extra tracks. Stu Gibson

The Creepshow
Sell Your Soul
People Like You

Here People Like You disinter for your mortal interest the debut from Canadian necrotisis-freaks The Creepshow for a reekin’, rock-wreaking resurrection worth running back into the house where the bad things are, no matter what the audience may tell you. Sometimes, those characters might actually be onto something. By and large this has several moments to gouge yourself with. Originally on Stereo Dynamite (and with current singer Sarah Blackwood’s sister of sin Jen on vocals) who, if recent Matadors album Sweet Revenge is anything to go by, may not be the best label for our horrorbilly heroes. Released in 2006 it’s not so much the long-awaited release it’s touted as, though availability may well have been an issue. Anyway, whether an already avowed zombie zealot or kooky psycho-poptart new flesh for the old flailers then a treat is instore for your infection ready sub-dermal sores as, besides the noted Zombies Ate Her Brain - possibly about the sweetest sub-two minute serenade since, well, The Horrorpops pristine second album, there’s the plaintive cowgirl’s lament of The Garden and the showdown hoedown split-up spat with The Matador’s Hooch of Doghouse that kick into a passing fence-post and dismember the likes of the skirt-shredding Shake, that already drives stakes through the Horrorpops’ white wedding dress in a freak shower, there’s a live video and cutesy vid-clips of ...Brain and The Garden. Whether you feel the urge to rip up floorboards and perhaps a friend or two's demure features before racing out like the rage of 21 Days Later ultimately depends on your stomach for zombie-pop, but it's definitely one you could hang pretty much a whole cast on. Stu Gibson

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