Friday, January 31, 2014

QUIT "Fucking" TAPE


So if the glamorous, prestigious and accessible band Liturgy can get away with calling themselves "transcendental black metal" and be taken seriously, then QUIT is a free jazz post-punk band made up of bitter nihilists living in a world without redemption.

Here is some heavy instrumentals that are downright anti social! Brutally lazy and primitive but effective walls of open chords played to exhaustion. Moments of blissful childish narcissism galore ... the players go into their own Hendrix worlds and collide accidentally through jazz. There is complete and utter unrecognition of the other players at times. Loud and clear, QUIT has no desire to impress an audience, but Blondie, K and Jim still have the audacity to record such a session displaying an admirable level of musical freedom and experimentation.

What makes Quit stick out in the world of freak out jams and metal "clear the hall" blast beaters is their complete lack of distortion or fuzz. The amplifiers reverberate, change in frequency, wah wah around and pick up whale call feedback, but rarely do they ever feel dirty, rough or sleezy. THey do, however, sound broken. This is also what makes QUIT special.

The juxtaposition of clean tones with loudly strummed guitars gives an impression of lost sanity in traffic ala Michael Douglas in "Falling Down". The amplifiers are set to wedding band. I imagine the musicians dressed up in tie with their collared shirts tucked in, and then rebel with the most furious sonic attack.

Blondie's rhythms are not complex and do not challenge the limits of tempo or multiplicity in drums, but they are played with strength and consistency. They slowly morph from a heavy bass jazz 4/4 rhythm to high energy tribal tom tom dances accented by symbols. And then at times they allow themselves to powerfully accompany drone.

QUIT is welterweight in tone compared to the Mountains and Lightning Bolts of the world, but all the musicians showcase a fierce desire to demonstrate and narrate an enormous amount of negative musical content. Their clean tone complements their downbeat and disturbed improvised compositions, an irony subtly thrown in a deeply sincere cassette.

At points this cassette gets a little space madness. If I was listening to this in the shower I may think that the bar of soap is actually an ice cream bar. Through my drugged and whiskey soaked haze of nihilistic oblivion the shower would lose gravity and I would become weightless, which in reality would actually be just my knees giving out. The moral of that story is if you're black out drunk always take a shower instead of a bath in case you lose consciousness.

Lost my train of thought. Anyway, this cassette sounds like a jazzy nightmare. I really liked it for what it was. Sometimes I feel bad doing these reviews because people send me these really well considered singer songwriter tapes with well over 20 fairly well considered and constructed songs on them, all edited and mixed and mastered and blah blah blah. But it looked like these guys were calling out for help in some way shape or form. I hope QUIT is doing alright. Your cassette is bleak. We hope you guys the best. Your cassette is a solid B+.

-- Jack Turnbull
www.jackturnbull.com

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

JESUS IS ANGRY & THE FEMALES OF DOUBTFUL REPUTATION
“Big Band” (Full Wave Rectifier Labs)


This album is a collaborative effort between Jesus Is Angry and The Females of Doubtful Reputation, although is does sound cool as one name. Jesus is Angry is a touring musician who specializes in analog recording techniques. The Females of Doubtful Reputation are a proto-industrial band made up of real industrial workers. This is the debut album for them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this release for many reasons including its use of non-instrumental sounds combined with instruments, its slow progression to a heavy feel, and its use of spoken word within the track. The tracks on the cassette are Side A: “The Institution”, “My Big Black Beard”, and “Electrical Safety Test” Side B: “Robots”, “What the ..?” and “Baghdad to Beograd”. There is a clear blues influence on “My Big Black Beard” which worked well with the experimental aspects of the other songs. Most of the songs have a slow heavy atmosphere to them, which is usually carried by the drums. This allows the other instruments to experiment more, and keep structure in the composition. An aspect that stands out on the entire album are the electronic experimentations on almost the entire release. This adds a compelling dimension that sets it aside from other bands with a similar heavy sound. The vocal spoken word adds a lot to the album as a whole because if it were only instrumental tracks, the listener might loose focus. The vocals add to the haunting feeling on “The Institution”, but the vocals have range as well, for example there is a humorous monologue complaining about the sound guy’s lack of care on one track. Over all this was a worthwhile listen that I would recommend.

Listen to “The Institution”: https://soundcloud.com/fwrl/theinstitution
Jesus Is Angry: http://www.jesusisangry.org
The Females of Doubtful Reputation: http://femalesofdoubtfulreputation.blogspot.com


-- Seymour Polatin

Sunday, January 26, 2014

BLUE EIGHT: KATIE GATELY
“Pipes” (Blue Tapes)

On this release, Katie Gately put three songs, but not all the songs are in the traditional format in succession on the Ep. The first song, “Pipes” is a very pleasing mixture of ambient vocal pulsing that transitions into complex rhythmic textures. The beginning sounds similar to some of the vocals on The Breeders’ “Last Splash.” Somewhere in between all of this Gately fits in a pop song sound for a short amount of time, which was a very welcome surprise. "Pipes” repeats on both sides of the tape. The second song of the release is “Acahella” and is available for download at bluetapes.bandcamp.com. The third song is hidden inside “Pipes” and can be heard by slowing down the track and listening closely.

One of the things I appreciate the most about this release is the places that “Pipes” goes, both in the varying moods and tones that Gately achieves with the vocals and her ability to make the song flow by combining the different parts of the song which span genres. When listening to this cassette in a traditional way, which is questioned in the format of the third hidden slowed down song, the listener is subject to listen to “Pipes” twice. This helps the listener grasp the strength of the composition of the song. Only listening to it once could leave the listener overwhelmed with its many changes throughout. When viewing the album online there is a prominent disclaimer, which states “NO INSTRUMENTS WERE USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS RECORDING.” Although I enjoy this blanket statement being applied to the release, it makes me wonder where the line is for considering something an instrument. Either way, “Pipes” is definitely worth the listen and I look forward to hearing what Katie Gately comes up with next.

Listen: https://soundcloud.com/blue-tapes/blue-eight-katie-gately-pipes
Buy: http://bluetapes.co.uk/product/blue-eight-katie-gately
More from Blue Tapes: http://bluetapes.bandcamp.com/

~ Seymour Polatin

Thursday, January 23, 2014

FRANK HURRICANE "Fall Iz The Best Season" (Anonymous Dog)


this tape has been out for a while but I figured I should post this anyway - ed.

Wow, I say this with no irony what-so-ever, this is a magical tape. Why do I use the word magical? Because Frank Hurricane has the ability to turn nothing into something similar to the techniques of a man who dabbles in the arts of illusion. Frank Hurricane is a post modern gem of a musician because this output is so gentle and humble, a rarity amongst struggling bohemians bending backwards to have their voices taken seriously. His songs are interesting because his decision making in song structure is fantastic and his influences are eclectic and from the far away places in the sonic universe, like banjo and hip hop. He does not rely on tons of effect pedals or sonic do-dads to make something that sounds contemporary, awesome and worthwhile.

Frank's voice swings in and between instrumentals. His lyrics cry out like a delta blues legend of way back when and a little off tune. That era's philosophy of low-fi recording is evident, making for the perfect intimate cassette experience.

But he can also rap and just tell good stories too! What if Jerry Garcia made a hip hop duo in 2012 with the guy from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone? It may sound like his hit "Real Talk", which is as heavy as Fall Iz the Best Season gets.

Then there are some simple drum and beat loops that are just meditative and complex in their own way while remaining repetitive and restrained. They're pleasant.

Frank Hurricane is also a great freak folk string player. The cassette's closing track "Autumn Love" is intimate, nostalgic, spare ... dare I say romantic? It's definitely moving.

The album goes through so many changes without ever feeling heavy handed or jarring. It's smooth as jamba juice. The closest comparison I can think of to an album would be Beck's ODELAY, but this album is more challenging and DIY. It was made with a simple grocery list of instruments: a yamaha keyboard, voice, banjo, guitars and cymbals.

I hold this in high prestige! www.anonymousdog.com to check it out.
Here's Frank's bandcamp: http://hurricanesoflove.bandcamp.com/album/fall-iz-the-best-season

-- Jack Turnbull

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

REGLER LP
KONSTRUKT/MARSHALL ALLEN LP
(8mm Records)


Pretty intense new LP from Regler, the duo of Mattin (Billy Bao, Josetxo Grieta) and Anders "Drajan" Bryngelsson (Brainbombs, No Balls) out now on Portugal's 8MM Records.  Mastered by Rashad Becker.  This is pretty assaultive but might be up your alley. Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/8mmrecs/8mm-059.  Limited to only 200 copies.


You might want want to pick up the other new release which is a free jazz collaboration between Marshall Allen (Sun Ra Arkestra) and Konstrukt. http://soundcloud.com/8mmrecs/8mm-061ahttp://soundcloud.com/8mmrecs/8mm-061bhttp://soundcloud.com/8mmrecs/8mm-061C. Also limited to 200.

It doesn't appear that these are up on the website (http://www.8mmrecs.com/) yet, but they are out, so just write to the email on the site and you can figure it out.

Monday, January 20, 2014

GEB THE GREAT CACKLER
"Tin Rooster House" TAPE

Wow! Here is a welcome change of pace. Geb the Great Cackler's new album "Tin Rooster House" at its best sounds like acoustic Neutral Milk Hotel song structures song by dual female vocals akin to the Softies with a pinch of Joan Jett thrown in there for good measure. Interesting horns and sounds immerge under dramatically strummed acoustic guitar rhythms and two girls singing clearly, forte and with sincerity. At times it feels a little too forced and almost in deep blues territory, but then the next thing I know its going into a 3/3 time signature and feels like the soundtrack to a merry-go-round.

pedals and effects are present but only exist to assist in the mood of a song, they do not play an overproduced central role. The illusion of sitars emerge, reverbed guitars give a bow to west coast surf fender tone, but at the core of all these songs is that Earthly acoustic at all times. The rhythm can get full throttle and compliments well on sounding current. "Hurricane" is an obvious nod to girl group power pop punk, but still remains truly the creation of Geb the Great Cackler by not stepping out of formula and introducing a GLOCKENSPIEL 3/4 through the song!

Right when you think you've figured this band out they shift gears. the sensation is akin to listening to an early Magnetic Fields album; the theme is consistently present and the tonal range only limited to their humble musical equipment (which is a total added bonus in my book because it sounds ... you know, real).

The title song "Tin Rooster House" gets into Marnie Stern level experimentation, but gets a little too "Cotton Eye Joe" for me. This may be a little harsh on my part, but it is a kinder way of saying the male's vocals are off tune and just kind of sound goofy. It's clear the female vocals on this album are superior. But the violin/guitar/tambourine/bongo instrumental at the end of the song makes it all worth going through. The supremely fast guitar picking and bongoing is stupendous!

"Worm World" sounds mediterranean or arab in scale structure. Again, a reverberated woodblock beat makes this song have the most subtle dance backbone making it mysteriously seductive - right before it goes into breakbeat tempo guitar bar chords. This juxtaposition is radical and shows just how out there Geb the Great Cackler can get at times. Again, "Worm World" goes through a chordal progression that gets too melodramatic for a moment, but ends with expertly recorded and reverberated plucked violin strings.

Heart of the World is a great ending. The instruments sound battered, chugging and dirty tube amps but the female vocals are still smooth and full. It's a true psychedelic song during the refrains, but then chanting and surfing in the chorus.

There's a lot going on in Geb the Great Cackler's "Tin Rooster House". Check this tape out!

http://gebthegreatcackler.bandcamp.com/

-- Jack Turnbull

Sunday, January 19, 2014

SETH SMITH “Lowlife OST” (Fundog Productions)


I can’t seem to find a way to watch this movie from my couch, but after listening to the score, I’m making it an imperative to get ahold of a copy. This tape is a score to a film which seems to depict a horrific trip, set off by a binge of psychedelic starfish. The tone of the films various trailers is overtly bleak, and the score is suitably bleak as well. A dark miasma of harp-like prepared guitars, mournful looped tubas and metallic clangs. A dim and mournful haze of unsettling sound that occasionally lashes out in urgent tribal drumming. It feels like being lost in the woods with no cell reception or waking up in a dank underground cave with only your bic for comfort. I don’t know how many times I’ll feel like accessing shiver inducing tones like these, but it’s a worthwhile and singular experience worth delving into.

  
- - Timothy Johnson

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

PASSENGER PERU (Fleeting Youth Records)



When I put this tape in for the first time, and noted that the main song crafter of the group was formerly a bassist for The Antlers (a band I’ve found somewhat underwhelming), I was tempted to write this off as an unexciting indie pop offering before even giving the sounds a chance. Within thirty seconds of the first song I felt like an asshole for thinking that, and I was won over immediately. On the surface the format for the songs is pretty standard, the kind of fun-time music for driving to the beach with your friends. That formula is easy to execute, what makes this a great tape is that underneath the surface the two multi-instrumentalists manning this band flesh out these tracks with inventive and hypnotic song structures and instrumentation. Over the span of these 10 songs, they manage to glue onto a poppy assemblage an assortment of buzzy bass riffs, chugging guitar passages, lush vocals, fuzzed out countrified licks, mechanized drum rhythms and sparse electronic noise. It’s enough variation to make each track exciting, free of filler, and quite danceable. Apparently the product of three years of basement studio work, this EP is clearly the work of two perfectionists fiddling with every song component until it fit the goldilocks standard of just right. Some of these tracks are genuine ear worms. In the Absence of Snow has been stuck in my head for days, thanks to it’s combination of sparkly acoustic guitar and thumping sub octave bass. It’s locked in my head and it doesn’t want to leave and this is a good thing. Very much recommended.


-- Timothy Johnson

Saturday, January 11, 2014

PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE SOUND "Oblivion Programme" (Galactic Zoo Disk)


I've always taken a liking to this kind of slow druggy psych rock.  Plastic Crimewave Sound sits somewhere in between the darkness and the light, though if you stare too long into either, you'll get sucked down, so it's all the same really. Up is down man! PCWS leader Steve Krakow is behind numerous projects in his hometown of Chicago: reissuing rare private press LPs on his Drag City sub-label, curating live events, writing/drawing the secret history of Chicago music as well as doing lots of free lance psychedelic art.  If you're not hip to this guys sphere of wicked awesome shit, then now is definitely the time to familiarize yourself.  http://www.plasticcrimewave.com/

Here is some sound for you to check out from the related Plastic Crimewave Syndicate. It's not the above tape (which is currently available from the website linked above), but it will give you a good idea of what you're in for.  The Oblivion Programme itself is rumored to be the last release from the group, and it features contributions from the legendary Michael Yonkers, but there is no telling what's what when you're dealing with infinity.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

HEALTH PROBLEMS "A Glut of Plastic" CS


Punk Rock is a strange thing to get right. Mathematically, everyone in the universe should logically be able to put out a stellar punk rock cassette. But even though two acts can play the same song almost note for note, the difference can be as drastic as Stevie Ray Vaughan to Jimi Hendrix, the former sounding cold and the later sounding full of soul. What separates the Ramones and early Devo from some dinguses off Burger Records or the flavor of the month band that just passed through your one trick pony town on the Warped Tour? The answers aren't always black and white. They can be straight up mysterious at times.

This brings me to the case of Health Problems new EP "A Glut of Plastic". Logically, this should be a four song cassette I can really get behind. Health Problems recorded this cassette in Olympia, Washington in February 2013. That communities specific sound is very present; add a guitar to their line up and Health Problems sound a lot like "Some Velvet Sidewalk", a main player in the early nineties Olympia indie rock explosion (watch the documentary Songs for Cassavettes to see them interviewed and rocking out).

Health Problems minimal and untraditional trio set up is also in line with the Olympia DIY philosophy. The band is a vocalist, a bassist and a drummer. Bands like Cadalatica (guitar, keys, drums), Beat Happening (Guitarist, Vocalist, drummer), Kicking Giant (guitar and drum duo) GodHeadsilo (drum and bass) also fall into this category, bands whose instrumentation imply that perhaps getting a more formal power pop trio line up is not accessible due to a lack musicians in the area. But these minimal line ups is also what made Olympia sound special and unique.

Health Problems kind of feel 20 years late to the party. If this came out on Kill Rock Stars in 1994 I wouldn't be surprised at all. It isn't over produced, the lyrics are great and the vocalist truly sings his lungs out and the drummer has some pretty good rolls in here.

This cassette is simply just not innovating. They're good at what they do but the envelope isn't being pushed, which is what punk rock is all about. Emotionally I completely trust these guys. Their hearts are in the right place and it is obvious. So I give this cassette a solid B-. I hope Health Problems keep it up and push forward!

-- Jack Turnbull
www.jackturnbull.com

Thursday, January 2, 2014

GREAT VALLEY "Lizards of Camelot" (NNA/Feeding Tube)


"Lizards of Camelot" doesn't explicitly claim to be a concept album yet folds open like a pop up book, each page a vignette in the amphibian kingdom.  Multi-layered guitar and drumset (sometimes midi, sometimes real, always real cymbals...) pump and groove as one engine.  This piece represents a marked twist of style for GV throughout, no doubt influenced by Peter's fantastic 2013 solo EP "Peter's Window" and Joe's work in Blanche Blanche Blanche / Big French.

( ↑ lots of free music in these links!!! ↑ )

 The opening scene starts with climbing major/chutes and ladders to wild tremolo fantasies established in some odd meter or another, prodding flippantly at the notion of pop music.  In a midnight gesture, more tremolo blows through a snorkel underwater through wreckage of drums and into a deeper trench.  The whole thing somehow achieves buoyancy and floats to the top, up and over a moat of love.  Green angels arrive in the bath and there's a party goin' on, inviting all to a hard boogie-ing permanent x-mas.

An all star list of guest musicians makes itself known across the record: Chris Weisman, David Lineal, Christine Brown, Luke Csehak, Francis Carr, Zach Phillips and Ruth Garbus make time in this freaky sect of "The Brattleboro School".

Excellent artwork by John Broadley.

Available on cassette from NNA and LP from Feeding Tube

- -Matt Robidoux