January 2011

Capital Punishment: It's not a (Stiller) Surprise

So, there’s no way that when you’re a kid and you mess around with recording music you expect anyone to dig it up thirty years later and examine it in some art historical context. Welp, too bad that’s turned into a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry at this point. Another surprise is that Capital Punishment was a band counting Ben Stiller – yeah, that Ben Stiller – as drummer when the guy was seventeen or so. This isn’t a comedy record and really has no bearing on the guy’s career apart from the fact that he clearly possessed some creative inclination during his youth.

Deuter: Puns About Outsiders...

The danger in working through Deuter’s catalog is that after a specific point in time, the guy basically turned into a machine for cranking out music related to Eastern religion and its assorted fanatics. The guy’s not cultish, but if you’ve gone and taken a new name from a swami kinda guy, there might be some issues at working needing proper attention. I mean, I hate myself, but not enough to let some Indian dude re-christen me. Lord.

Ugly Ducklings: A Canadian (Garage) Dichotomy

There’s a pretty pervasive perception of Canadians being a genteel crop of cleanly northerners. That well may be true in some cities and of some people, but just in the same way most of world figures Americans as dumb brutes, there’s no way to properly surmise an entire culture through reductive means.

What folks frequently forget is that Canada’s initial population wasn’t too different that the States. Perhaps there were a few more Frenchy trappers up there than down here, but a similar exploratory lust served to open up that country up there. What the spirit didn’t translate to in Canada was a revelatory crop of musicians. But while there’s not a Canadian rivaling the changes Terry Riley or the Ramones levied on music, more than a few decent garage acts cropped up during the sixties.

Bitchin' Bajas and My Terry Riley Complex

The awesome thing about no one making anything new any longer is that we all get to trot out our opinions of what a new band or recording sounds like. Replacing the one hundred percent authentically new for a trip through some dude’s record collection doesn’t seem like a really bad idea and probably winds up exposing listeners to lower key music than otherwise would have been made available. At the same time, though, with all this referencing going on left and right, the inept media makes its detachment from critical thought that much more apparent.

Velvett Fogg: Middle of the Pack Psych

Cited by Al Simones as a perennial favorite, taking a listen to Velvett Fogg (yeah, that’s actually Mel Torme’s nickname, just spelled differntly) isn’t going to wind up influencing one’s day to day life so much as just exposing an individual to another late sixties ensemble with an affinity for drugs and a few interesting in-studio tricks.

What the band’s probably most noted for is the brief inclusion of guitarist Tony Iommi prior to founding Black Sabbath. Quitting this ensemble was, obviously, a good career move. Either way, Velvett Fogg, without the assistance of Iommi, heading into a recording studio during late 1968 and released its lone, self titled effort in January of the next year.

The 3ds - "Hey Seuss" (Video)

If these guys were American, and not from New Zealand, they'd have had a chance to make it proper big during the nineties and maybe again now. The resurgence in low rent rock stuff has to yield an above ground rock star. It won't be the 3ds, unfortunately, but it will probably be folks that sound similar to this and dress like its 1995.

Captain Beefheart: A Spot of Brown

When Captain Beefheart bit it last month, the world was up in arms. Well, at least the weirdoes were. No one else really gave a shit. But what the guy dying did, apart from sucking, was to make the blog world explode in an almost ridiculous display of grief. Beefheart’s albums showed up just about everywhere, readily available for download and discussion. The requisite Safe as Milk  and Trout Mask Replica cropped up. But more surprising was the emergence of The Brown Star Sessions, something I’d never even heard of. Of course, that doesn’t mean too much, I’m not a Beefheart sycophant, but do possess more than a passing knowledge of his work.

Hampton Grease Band: Hey Old Lady!

There’s no way I know of to actually figure this out, but the Hampton Grease Band might be the only ensemble to issue a double studio album as their first long playing release. Today, that just couldn’t happen. In 1972, it was still probably pretty weird, but for some reason Columbia Records thought it was a good idea.

Either way, the band didn’t sell too many copies, reportedly ranking its Music to Eat as the second worst seller in Columbia Records’ history. With the band generally characterized as a bunch of Zappa and Beefheart wanna-bes that kinda makes sense. But if anyone takes the time to sit down and listen to the band’s one disc, it’ll soon be realized that the Hampton Grease Band had a lot going for it – way beyond its influences.

Idle Times: If the Strokes Were Poor

With the impending Strokes’ disc due out in the next little bit, it’s worth wondering, not only if it’ll be good, but also if the band wasn’t a buncha rich kids if they’d have made it this far. There aren’t really too many high profile groups capable of issuing so many crap records while holding onto a record contract.

But if that’s the Strokes’ only crime, we should let it go. Is This It? still ranks as an early millennium highlight. And anyone disagreeing with that should probably just go fiddle with their three hundred dollar copy of some live Steve Albini record – aka eat it.

Silkworm and Why You Should Keep Your Pavement Records (or MP3s)

All involved should decry the speed in which a band can form, play its first show and release a proper album – Smith Westerns anyone? That formula, obviously, doesn’t ensure quality or a lack there of, but contrasting bands’ stamina and their longevity’s pretty interesting. With the current spate of sub-terra rock groups kicking around, it doesn’t really seem possible that too many of them are set to wrench a twenty year career from constant touring and issuing singles in runs of two hundred and fifty. It’s worked so far – Thee Oh Sees seem to be able to maintain a consistent level of performance, but the group’s frontman has a bit of experience.

Bill Orcutt Shaves His Harry Pussy

Bill Orcutt’s always going to be associated with most noisome aspects of music. His discography isn’t the deepest thing in the world, and mostly centers around his time as guitarist in Harry Pussy, a Florida based noise/rock duo (sometimes trio) specializing in unhinged explorations of what a basic band can do. It’s during the nineties’ and Orcutt’s time with Harry Pussy that he developed and refined (?) an approach to guitar not requiring the normal six strings. He uses four.

Even with that restriction placed on his playing – it might actually open up the instrument’s possibilities, depending on who you’re talking to – Orcutt was able to forge a language detached from traditional tones and even rock music while remaining tied to music’s past by dint of Harry Pussy’s set up.

Tea & Symphony: Good and Bad from 1969

Releasing albums by Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, the Edgar Broughton Band and the Third Ear Band, Harvest Records was simultaneously sitting at the forefront of weirdo-rock stuffs and damning itself to financial oblivion. The imprint made it through seventies, but by 1984, after fifteen years of business, the label folded, leaving the likes of Be-Bop Deluxe to find a new label to work with. Granted, over time, Harvest had amassed considerable clout in the industry, squandered it.

It’s not for lack of trying, though. And releases like Tea & Symphony’s 1969 effort An Asylum For the Musically Insane point to the Harvest folks taking on some projects not exactly fit for mass consumption – but Syd Barrett wasn’t either, and look at that guy’s legacy.

The Futura Label: Semool

Comprising Philippe Martineau, Olivier Cauqui, and Remy Dede Dreano, Semool turned in a pretty hard to swallow set of tunes, recorded between 1969 and 1971. For the most part, the disc is populated by a series of cut up and spliced together tape pieces with a bit of guitar, bass or keyboard functioning as an effort’s melodic figure. Even with such an obtuse description of the disc’s goings-ons, it’s still one of the more palatable efforts from the Futura Label. Palatable, is, of course, relative. But hey, the French were some weird folks with some weird proclivity towards non-commercial music, Serge be damned.

Eroc: Electronic Washes as Proper Music

Whatever krautrock was, it now exists counting a wide spectrum of music under its umbrella – anything from the funk cum punk of Can and pounding rhythms Neu! trucked in all the way through to Klaus Schulze’s experiments with the synthesizer. So, really, that’s pretty much just music post-sixties’ rock and roll. Whatever. The genre name’ll remain a marker for some to use in conversation with other geeks. Like me.

Bandolero: A Psych Endoresment...Kinda

I’ve been publically chastised for enjoying Santana. And yeah, it was by a guy who was sporting a pair of pants a few sizes too small, enjoys the music of Serge Gainsbourg and might rank as a coast dweller with his tiny head up his ass. Regardless of all that, Santana is pretty generally passed over in any discussion of psych based musics springing from the sixties. And really, that’s bonkers.

After getting an earful of his first two long players – authentic listens, not a passive airing of the disc – it becomes pretty difficult to dismiss the guy. Of course, Santana’s subsequent spiritual life and that one off disc pairing him with John McLaughlin aren’t special. But the guitarist still influenced an entire generation of Hispanic players.