Off the new disc from Sacred Bones. "Mazes" ain't a bad song, but it finds Moon Duo moving away from tripped out revelry and into a pop-song terrain.
Considering the band functioned as a quartet and doesn’t list a keyboard player in the album’s liner notes, being session players probably provided for each performer being able to play at least two instruments. Probably, though, the band should have found someone to right an authentically original tune.
“Royal American 20th Century Blues” is basically a Kinks rip off with a bit of heavy organ dousing the entire thing. Well, either that or Rockadrome aping the Stones’ stance on Satanic Majesty’s Request. Or both. There’s a far greater Brit influence here than anything American. And the relative dismissal of rootsy fair again points to the band’s being a few years behind everything. The tuneful key solos make up for that a bit.
Drums do play apart in Reichel’s “Tarzan's Abenteuer I'm Sommerschlussverkauf,” from his AR3 recording back in 1972. The album actually ranks as the first time the band leader would fully integrate the instrument into a wealth of his compositions. The song, though, doesn’t even hint, so much as fully assaults rhythm with a basic kit getting reamed while that guitar chinks away at the bass’ main figure and a sax bleats its own ideas atop it all. If this was the only cut ever released by Reichel, it’d still give Can and its ilk a go for best representing kraut stuffs.
The group, as helmed by singer Denis Croce, took an aggressive stance towards rock stuff. A handful of early singles were apparently a bit more sixties’ garage psych, but by the time collected players got around to recording its eponymous long player, there didn’t seem to be much difference between these folks and Led Zeppelin or whoever else you care to toss in there. Of course, even those bloated Brits had their moments. But after eschewing the blues and embracing fifteen minute songs it was all a ways.
Mahogany Brain doesn’t truck in songs, per se, so much as vibes. And yeah, that sounds like hippie detritus, but it’s true. Only releasing two albums over the course of its career, the band sounds like it actually progressed between the 1970 With (Junk-Saucepan) When (Spoon-Trigger) and 77’s follow up Smooth Sick Lights. On its first album, the Brain just noodles around and bangs its instruments with little care for rhythmic connections. And seeing as there’s no sort of melody to hold onto, that becomes a problem. There’s actually not an offering that sticks out of With (Junk-Saucepan) When (Spoon-Trigger), demanding a hearty reexamination. But that only makes Smoth Sick Lights’ stronger moments more engaging.
Quick, name a band from Denmark. Can’t? Me neither. Not really. Well, Polyfeen. And even if I’d be able to tell you cursory things, like whose in the band and when they were a functioning unit, I wouldn’t be able to understand what their one album’s called or what they’re talking about during those eight minute extended pieces. Prog? Who knows. So, let’s take Langt Ude i Skoven, a live set track by track, shall we?
Merrell Fankhauser isn’t a famous guy. Sure, he’s recorded with at least four ensembles – the Exiles, Fapardokly, the H.M.S. Bounty and Mu – folks still hunt down work by. But if you’ll notice, none of them are exactly horribly famous. Starting out in California during the early sixties, though, allowed for the guitarist and songwriter to randomly associate with a wealth of players, a few of which would end up recording with Captain Beefheart – that alone should point to the guy’s talent, despite his relative obscurity.
The first band Fankhauser issued a substantial amount of work with, the Exiles, isn’t really required listening. Most of their Wild In The Desert (1964-66) compilation is average beat combo stuff. It’s not uninspired, but the radio must have been choked by middle of the road groups aping roughly the same sound. Let’s skip over Fapardokly for the time being and head to the H.M.S. Bounty, seeing as the earlier group ranked as a faux-super group.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. RJ, obviously, wants to do his own thing and should be applauded for that. The results, though, aren't going to please too many folks who've been around since the Dead Ringer days. This track's easily the most palatable of the lot.
The Strokes, whether successful or not critically, are going to continue to move units and experiment with a wealth of musical stances regardless of what everyone else thinks. That’s what they should do – stasis is a motherfucker. And if that band had simply remade that first record over and over again, no one would be listening anymore. Angels, though, is a ridiculous amalgam of approaches, none executed too well.
Quick aside: You know where Death Cab for Cutie got it’s name? No, Gorilla, the Bonzo’s 1967 album, has a song of the same name. Weird, right?
Anyway, the ensemble, Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall’s brainchild, cropped up just in time to be Frank Zappa and Mothers British foil. The similarities are there in each set of players, both appropriating various musical styles to make some sort of comedic cultural comment. Zappa comes off as a bit hippier and musically advanced, but that’s simply by virtue of his embrace of sixties’ psych tropes. The Bonzos couldn’t be bothered with then current musical ideas, eschewing rock for the most part and sounding more like a wayfaring jug band than anything else.
After that band ended – or carried on too long with the Yule’s becoming its main voice – Tucker hightailed it outta town and wound up in Arizona of all places. There may well have been better places to go, but settling out there in the desert, Tucker accidentally wound up in a place that would soon spawn not just the Meat Puppets, but the less lauded, but no less talented Sun City Girls.
With all those guys kicking around, Tucker running into them was pretty much pre-ordained. And while she’d turned to more domestic concerns as opposed to a continued fixation on rock and or roll, Tucker would eventually record an album with Alan Bishop – Sir Richard may or may not have contributed to the disc. Listening to the guitar lead on “Paw,” though sounds like a pretty strong suggestion he did.
I recently turned a dude onto Monoshock, an East-Bay harbinger of early millennial sludge and psych. After taking a listen – something we should all do – the guy figured out the band featured a guy named Grady Runyan, the same guy from Liquorball. This latter band, I’d never heard of. Well, latter isn’t the right word. The band actually formed prior to Monoshock and has released way more albums than the better known group – and done so more recently.
While the two ensembles share a bit in common, there’re just as many things separating the groups. Monoshock, perhaps the heavier of the bands in its own way, isn’t short on improvised sections. The group does have nine minute songs after all. But they’re still songs. And it doesn’t seem that Liquorball ever had any intention of writing catchy tunes, which is fine. But after listening to one side of just about any release from that group, it seems like enough.
What’s surprising about the Haunted, though, is the fact that the band was able to toss off a pretty wide swath of rock stances. It’s not all garage styled rockers like the troupe’s best known song “1-2-5.” There’re actually two versions of the song kicking around – both included on The Haunted – one with the band’s original singer and the admittedly more professional latter edition with some other guy on the mic. There’s nothing smooth about either version, but the original rendition is perhaps a bit more engaging thanks simply to the fact that the singer appears to be as displeased with being forced to sing into a mic as kids are pissed about detention. The uncaring attitude aside, “1-2-5” is a pretty traditional garage track.
Captured Tracks, despite taking on its fair share of non-thinkers – toss Dum Dum Girls fashion focused take on being fake rock stars and wait for their major label release – maintains a ridiculously high rate of success. So, for all my griping, the self titled 2010 long player from Beach Fossils doesn’t really sport a bummer moment. The fact that all the songs are basically the same doesn’t hurt. It might be easy to pass this off as release from the Woods camp, but that wouldn’t matter either.
Brainbombs, Sweden’s answer to the Mentors (?), haven’t made the same sort of international name for themselves as G.G. – but who else gets on televised talk shows like the auld days. Either way, these Swedes might honestly rank as the most atrocious bunch of scum to have released music, Charlie Manson included. At least that guy didn’t sing about rape. Maybe at least isn’t the right way to frame it.
Whether or not Brainbombs are the same away from their instruments as they are playing a set remains to be seen – by me. But even if these guys are as awful as “Fuckmurder” suggests, that doesn’t remove the music’s virility. And regardless of whether or not Brainbombs mean it all, it should just be a good joke to anyone listening – but a good joke accompanied by some churning, good music.
Alice Cooper's earliest work might have been widely panned. But he really counted as one of the last true entertainers in rock and roll. Yeah, there're stage shows today. But none like this. Oh yeah. The music rules too.