September 2009

Twofer: The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower/Plaid and Bob Jaroc

The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower
Love in the Fascist Brothel
(Revelation Records, 2005)

For some reason, right now No-Wave is gaining popularity with the underground rock crowd. I suppose to a certain extent, it had remained a mainstay to some, in lurid corners trading jokes about Zorn and Stockhausen. But, now more then ever, bands are touting James Chance as a major musical contributor of the last quarter of the twentieth century. And who am I to disagree? Here on The Plot’s second full length, they invoke Chance and play some new stylee rock music. Introduced by horns, one would imagine them ushering in a new era, some new innovation in rock that will forever upset the balance of what is now. We don’t get that. But, there are a good number of tongue and cheek titles, nazi imagery and thick bass notes. Two tracks stand out as far superior to the rest of this album, and most rock music lately in general: “Drake the Fake” and “Angry, Young and Rich”. Oddly, enough, these two tracks are the most lengthily offerings as well. Musically, they don’t stray from the songs before or after, but on “Drake the Fake” The Plot actually achieves something very close to what The Contortions did. The second track is much more slowly paced, uses a little blues progression and sports a good chorus; something this album spews forth abundantly. The lyrics leave something to be desired. But, each song basically consists of ten lines, repeated and one chosen to become the chorus and screamed even more frequently. An above average release that boasts good production that seamlessly weaves the noise from one song into freakish interludes and then into the noise of the next track. A bit of a warning though: ten tracks in twenty some odd minutes. Really though, your ear holes might not be capable of hearing more.

Deep Psychedelic Moods: The Freak Scene Edition

This is truly a truly exceptional piece of exploitation. Not for the music it purports, but the manner in which it works. Beginning with The Psychedelic Moods of The Deep singer and songwriter Rusty Evans set out to concoct some studio based psychedelia to cash in on that ever so gullible youth culture. That first creation, which Evan’s dubbed the Deep wrenched out a single disc of bland rock with just enough psych snuck in as to make it almost relevant. The Deep’s one disc was released rather early during the psych explosion and Evans even returned a year later, although with a new band and a different label.

Tapiman: A Spanish Psych

There’s an endless supply of ‘foreign’ bands that need to be anthologized, not just for the locals, but for (far) western audiences. The guys over at Sublime Frequencies have already figured that out. But whereas that label focuses on third world nations (or is it emerging nations, now?)  – and there’s nothing wrong with that – there’s a bevy of rock stuffs that saw release in Spain, France, Germany and those other non-English speaking countries. Until such time as that’s taken care of, the nerdly music folks that scour the innernets are left to fend for ourselves. As is the case, Tapiman should be of interest.

Ninties, Nineties, Nineties: A List of Stuff and or Things Related to Records

Welp, the aughties are almost over. You know what that means? There’re gonna be year end round ups as well as decade long ones. How’s that sound? Kinda terrifying. Animal Collective is gonna be spread all over those things and that’s kinda disheartening. Anyway, I’m still hung up on the ‘90s. This list is in order by release date, not importance, but you shoulda been able to recognize that.

Nirvana – Nevermind (Geffen, 1991)
This disc should really just be assumed. I mean, how many songs are on here that you’d be able to sing every lyric to? All of ‘em, or somewhere close should be the answer. If it’s not, where in G-d’s name have you been? Dude’s even in a video game at this point.

Jim O'Rourke as Jim O'Rourke

His name’s on albums from Melt Banana, Sonic Youth, Wilco and a host of other forward thinking rock groups as a result of functioning in various capacities (musician, engineer, producer, composer), but Jim O’Rourke remains a relative unknown to all but the most musically obsessed. Coming out of the weirdo Chicago rock scene of the ‘80s, the guitarist first gained relative prominence in experimental circles while attending DePaul University in the city. It was during this time as well that O’Rourke would begin his recording career, getting a good deal of material down on tape amidst his studies at the prestigious, urban school.

A Pretend Genre: Black Rock (?) and The Next Morning

In talking to dweebs of all musical tastes, it’s always interesting to hear the variety of made up genre names being spouted off. Of course, some, like proto-punk, have been codified by the like of Nick Tosches and his brethren. But regardless of that, the relatively recent proliferation of the term ‘black rock’ is disconcerting for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the term supposes that there’s some bold difference between whatever rock is perceived to be and what ‘black rock’ is intended to represent. Beyond the fact of that idea being rather nonsensical, it should be (again) noted that, without black folks playing blues and the like, there wouldn’t be any rock genre to speak of, making the term redundant to a certain extent.

The Sky Green Leopards Concoct a Dandy

Maintaining one of the lower profiles outta that whole freeq folk thing that came and went with the beginning of the second half of the aughties, Northern California’s the Sky Green Leopards continue to slowly wrench out various collections of stoned folk warblings with just a hint of rock fetishism to get ‘em over. The duo – affiliated with the Jeweled Antler Collective – has an avowed aesthetic coming as much from its SF environs as the group’s dedication to barely passable musicality that’s handed off to listeners on each of the band’s seven releases since 2001.

Why? Goes Pop

Going into how Anticon has shifted its focus over time and worked to encompass an ever broader sound that suits not just the new tastes of its performers but that of listeners in the market place isn’t going to produce any new conclusions. It should be said, though, that with the lessening of Sole’s involvement in the daily operations of the imprint, that aural shift has ever quickened. So while the former (?) label honcho is trekking through some dessert with his SW band mates, the folks that stuck around the Bay Area have sought out (accidentally come upon?) some new sounds.

White Hills: Blustery Psych und Metally Shredding

Attempting to work out some way to make psych or space rock or kraut-whatever vibrant at this late date might be more difficult than some would think. Plastic Crimewave is generally lauded for his ability to do just this, but honestly, his stuff only works every so often. He should be forgiven, though, considering the Galactic Zoo Dossier is pretty amazing stuff. Anyway, it’s needless to say that there’re more than just a few acts currently trying to do just what Mr. Crimewave does. Acts vary, but for the most part, the more stuff that gets put out there, the more it seems like a lotta dudes that probably hate the Dead, but love soloing for too long are putting together groups to showcase some rather flaccid musicality.

Beck's Opening Salvo

There’s a lot of music that reminds me of riding around in cars as a teenager, smoking cigarettes and feeling like I understood it all already and that there wasn’t much else to do or achieve in life. Maybe none of that has changed, I don’t smoke cigarettes, but the rest seems about right. But sound-tracking my 16 year old angst were a bevy of Beck bootlegs somehow tracked down by my greasy brethren during the time when the internet wasn’t a gumball dispenser of hard to find music. Mostly these Beck recordings were on tape – I have no idea where they came from. Tape trading perhaps. But regardless of where it all came from, the detached sound of Beck’s voice and his music that swayed back and forth between pop, folk and skuzzy rock was nothing more than befitting.

The Mountain Goats x The Bible

There’s an endless sense of paranoia and disaffection in any and all musics recorded by some recluse, an instrument and a boom box. John Darnielle might not be a shut in, but some of his recordings make it seem that way. Oddly bucolic for a guy who grew up in one of the most populace states in the country, his work solo and alongside a rhythm section in the Mountain Goats finds Darnielle examining personalities – of people and animals – how folks interact and giving listeners a story to hang it all on.

Twink: Think Pink (1970)

It’s sometimes difficult to take folks seriously based solely upon the name that they’ve landed upon. Would Jon Stewart be as effective if he went by his given name of Jonathan Leibowitz? Maybe, but then consider the fact that a ‘60s drummer responsible for beats on albums by the Deviants, the Pretty Things, Hawkwind and a few other folks was given the name John Alder, but eschewed that moniker to go by Twink – he settled upon the name after receiving some gifts from the hair care company of the same name. The switch obviously didn’t affect business, but it still sounds a bit too close to those delicious, plastic wrapped, cream filled desserts.

The Entrance Band: A(n Almost) Radio Friendly Trip

I have nothing for U2 and Bono other than a pile of unexpurgated distaste and bile. I could launch into various reasons as to why – and if you look hard enough, some of those reasons have already been recounted here and there. But part of what’s so frustrating about that group is the fact that while they bother me to no end, the guitar playing on their records is pretty unique and executed flawlessly. And yea, Bono can sing even if he sounds like a hairdresser primping in front of a mirror. All of this, though, makes one wonder what this has to do with the Entrance Band. That would point to the reader’s comprehension ability seeing as that band is supposed to be the focus of this piece. You’re right.

Dengue Fever: East to West and Back Again

The interest in non western musics that began, in part due to the reduced restrictions on spreading music around that came along with the internets, found an unlikely pairing a few years back. On a trip to Cambodia, Los Angeles dweller Ethan Holtzman, an organ player, found a taste for Cambodian pop music, which sounds like its been suspended in time and doused with a heavy dose of Nuggets. Intuitively, Holtzman recruited his brother and set about working to assemble a line up comprised of players from around the LA area. The musicians were finally assembled, but none could conceive of fronting a band that worked in a different language seeing as it wouldn’t, most likely, come off as too authentic.