March 2009

The Vaselines: Again

It’s difficult to figure whether or not people would still be talking about the Vaselines if not for the insanely vigilant fan boy antics of the late Kurt Cobain. Between his name checking them in various interviews and Nirvana covering something like three of their songs, it’s safe to say that even if the Vaselines were to be culturally relevant today, it would be in a completely different way. Cobain’s push for Sub Pop to release an anthology for the band over fifteen years ago resulted in a huge resurgence of the Vaselines music. And if you can even find a copy of that disc, collectors would be impressed. The Way of the Vaselines, though, is about to get a price bump with the impending release of Enter the Vaselines.

Pelt: Ayahuasca

THIS POST got me thinking about the expanse of Jack Rose’s catalog. I was lucky enough to see him a few years ago, and he was in a number of ways, able to out perform Peter Walker, whose lone ‘60s recording is touted as a monumental folk/raga album. And while people’s opinion on that subject might differ, it would be agreed that the over reaching enthusiasm for all musics is what pushed Pelt to seek such a wide breadth of inclusion in its work.

ChiTownSound: Tortoise

Tortoise has a range of influence more than readily familiar to any listener that’s even a fan in passing. Its music finds its root in as vast an array of influence as any pseudo intellectual touting the cultural import of post-modernism. It’s all been figured before. Tortoise is a group that makes music that, at times, barley seems as if it’s there. And now, the band returns after its three years away from recording to release a new disc, Beacons of Ancestorship, via Thrill Jockey on June 23rd. The following hyperbolic nonsense is from the press release:

Tortoise is a group that resists easy metaphors and analogies, who can be described as sounding like only themselves and no one else.

Windspitting Beets

Growing up, Nickelodeon seemed to be my only friend (awww…). But the cartoons as well as the Mark Mothersbaugh scored themes were ample company for me. As TV raised me, my analog friends came and went, but some stuck with me in memory. Of course Rugrats is still on and Pete and Pete was released on DVD not too long ago – although I dare you to find a copy. But I have no idea if Doug made it to the digital revolution. Him, Skeeter and Patty Mayonnaise (who may have been my first love), are missing in action as we speak.

Flowers-Corsano Duo: Brute Force

As a harbinger of new noise, VHF Records has released work from Jack Rose as well as the likes the Flowers-Corsano Duo. And while those two projects seemingly share little in an aural sense, the concepts propping them both up are pretty similar.

Rose, who founded Pelt during the ‘90s, has gone on to ply the depths of pre-ware blues to great affect, even earning the opportunity to tour with Peter Walker a few years back. But whereas his newer works have been focused on acoustic playing, his label mates, both Chris Corsano and Mick Flowers, have worked in a more noisy dispensation. The former having cut his teeth along side Paul Flaherty, maintains much the same fervor that the sax player worked within.

Iggy: We Will Fall

With the dissolution of the Stooges, Iggy Pop sought to continue his life long journey through the many hued biz of rock and roll. His last band had broken up, reformed, released one of the finest albums of the decade, began working on new material that could have potentially proved financially useful only to fall apart amongst the flowing smack.

Fortunately (or not) for Iggy, David Bowie had stayed by his side as the duo worked on their respective albums. For a time, it even seemed that Bowie had, to a certain extent, hijacked Iggy’s career and steered it to his liking. Of course, even if this was the case, it proved to raise Iggy’s level of fame and yielded a few post-Stooges classics.

One Kiss: Hackamore Brick

New York in the early ‘70s was awash with rock dudes who fancied themselves poets, soothsayers and more over, trend setters. That’s not to say that some were not, but there’s such a glut of rock music from this era that it, at times, becomes a bit difficult to do anything other than take a passing listen to much of what’s being dug up again.

Recently, the smart asses at Chunklet found it necessary to taut a band that went by the name Hackamore Brick. A few songs were posted over there that made clear that the quartet - Chick Newman, Robbie Biegel, Bob Roman, and Tommy Moonlight - were more than simply a ramshackle group of pseudo musicians. But that certainly doesn’t portend any sort of greatness.

Deep Psychedelic Moods

Psych music has such a huge back catalog at this point, it is sometimes difficult to pick out artifacts from the original period that are authentic as opposed to folks who figured that it’d be a good way to make a name for themselves to record in this particular mode. But even some of those sham records have become scarce enough that collectors loose their collective minds when discussing them.

The Axemen: A NZ Protest

It’s understandable that Australia and New Zealand have a contentious relationship. I used to live in Cleveland, don’t anymore, but still cringe whenever I see a Stealers logo anywhere. The fact, though, that the Aussies recently claimed that New Zealanders are hermits, or some such, seems a bit beyond me. Anyway, New Zealand, as much Australia, has a pretty rich and important musical history. The Tall Dwarfs (sic) and Chris Knox have impacted current indie musical trends in a pretty noticeable way. You’d be able to hear it even if Jay Reatard didn’t tell us straight out.

Old Punks/New Warped Tour

As the Warped Tour continues to age, the crowds remain the same age. It’s kinda like that dude’s quote from Dazed and Confused minus the perversion. But regardless of that, even if you were an attendee of the festival during its formative years and have grown frustrated with the line ups of subsequent years, there are a number of old tyme bands slated to play this year. I can’t say that the following list of folks would make me want to shell out the ticket price, but it at least made me think twice about it.

The Adicts

The Secret Syde - Hidden Secrets

Before independent labels copped business models and started acting like scumbags – not all of ‘em, but you know if you’ve screwed someone over – the early ‘80s laid waste to band’s dreams. Releasing a record, at that point, was tantamount to a bloody political coup. However, after a full length was released, its success was basically dependent upon the band doing enough leg work to get the nation abuzz about it. And again, Black Flag would easily be the best example of this. They encompassed all aspects of the indie music biz back in the ‘80s.

Records Take a Beating

I haven't figured out most of the amenities and benefits of living in the Bay Area as of yet. I do know, however, that I live roughly five minutes away from Amoeba and Rasputin on Telegraph. And once I get over being denigrated by the sporadic outbursts from bums, going up there will probably be even more enjoyable.

Los Reactors: Punk, New Wave or Other

As the ‘80s dawned punk began to splinter. Hardcore developed and some dudes even got keyboards. New wave could be considered a media construction, but there are groups who organically came to that sound. Putting Los Reactors into this category might be met with disapproval. So, perhaps their just a punk band. But either way, the legacy of one of the band’s singles, “Dead in the Suburbs,” has kept the group rather vital over the last three decades – the Briefs even cover it on their (Looking Through) Gary Glitter's Eyes seven inch.

Peter Laughner: The Bard of Cleveland

Growing up in Cleveland, one’s privy to a certain kind of folk lore not present in other cultural bastions. The people that ‘made it’ from this Midwestern town usually left or were soon forgotten after whatever modicum of fame doused them. It’s not as if one can claim that it’s really too bad. It’s just how it goes. And coming from this climate of decay, it’s actually to be expected. The physicality of what surrounds one during each day imports that message all too frequently. Perhaps it’s for this very reason that certain neighborhoods within the city sport the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.

Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters

Hawkwind is known for a number of reasons. Counting Lemmy as an early member of the group is certainly one of them. Being a fine purveyor of space rock is probably another. And having some rather bizarre lyrical content could be figured as another. There had obviously been other bands that talked about the future, space ships and other mythical or mystical things, but Hawkwind seemed to do it convincingly. The place that these musings came from, though, was a singer that sporadically left the group only to return again. But obviously, the fact that Hawkwind functions today – kinda – is probably enough proof that their line up wasn’t too consistent.

Dan Melchior's Broken Menace

More often than not, any sort of dissection of Dan Melchior’s work refers to excessive use of odd noises and supplementary production foibles. And while those are unquestionably part of his repertoire, the basis for his work is Americana in its broadest sense. Now that probably seems an over statement due to his upbringing in Shepperton, England. But Billy Childish is from England as well and that gentleman has no qualms with exercising his far flung tastes. But in regards to Melchior, he’s even moved to the States to continue his career, whereas his former colleague still resides on that island over there.

Andrés Segovia vs. Education

There’s an arts and crafts store not too far from my house and upon the suggestion of a misguided friend, I was told to go and check out some of their used goods being hocked at a reduced price. To my surprise, the store had a number of used records and cd’s in addition to a rather stunning woman working the register.

The East: No Wave and Punk

This might not be applicable in the future seeing as the US will most certainly have to become subservient to another financial power. But as Japan emerged from World War II, much of its popular culture began to mirror the States and other world powers. It was, obviously, an approximation through the lens of another country’s history, but Japanese popular music has taken cues from the west for roughly fifty years. Very frequently, the appropriations have some aspect that’s magnified to obscene heights and ends up making some of the work, while still valid and entertaining, a bit cartoonish. The Flower Travellin’ Band is a pretty good example of that. But as that group mirrored the psychedelic heaviness of Sabbath and others, it was able to transcend some of the obscene clichés as well.

Steve Albini is Serious

Steve Albini is famous for all too many reasons to have them recounted here. But he’s fronted a number of groups and produced at least a few discs that are now or have been in your record collection. Somehow he’s become a lighting rod of music and to a certain extent controversial. But regardless of that, he’s been in the music biz, one way or another, for almost thirty years. Along the way Albini’s garnered some insider knowledge that, even if you aren’t in a band, is pretty interesting to look at.

Mick Jones Gets Erudite and Stuff...

After parting ways with the Clash in 1983, thus excusing him from the 1985 garbage that was Cut the Crap, Mick Jones could have taken the last three decades off. He’s chosen not to do that.

After redefining and expanding what punk can and should be able to do, Jones founded the well intentioned, but really rather awful Big Audio Dynamite (B.A.D.). In some ways that group worked with the same source material as the Clash, or even its contemporaries in John Lydon’s Public Image Limited. B.A.D. was adventurous the way that these other acts were – not as noisy, but it just didn’t turn out that well. Again, though, the commercial success that Jones garnered with that act could have sent him into retirement. It didn’t though.

He began producing records.