This Time I Got A Reason and Fuzz’s Fourth Dream 7″ – FUZZ

fuzzThe dust has barely settled after the multiple albums that Ty Segall released last year and here is yet another delectable morsel from the omnipotent San Franciscan’s diverse musical platter.

Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records released 500 of the 7″s claiming that the submission was received by an anonymous San Francisco band and rapidly sold out. The fuzzy cat now being out of the bag due to live performances had revealed that the accountable virtuosos were none other than Ty Segall and Charlie Moonheart, Segall playing drums and singing in this new metamorphosis with Moonheart on guitar.

The apt moniker for this new project echos it’s suitability throughout the two songs with a warm fuzz tone that has become synonymous with Segall and it’s sound likened to “Blue Cheer meets Sabbath” by the band. It’s refreshing change for artists to quote their influences with vigor rather than dismissing comparisons and boasting originality which are more often than not, paltry given their convictions.

The 7″ has been on heavy rotation since it’s arrival into my eager hands and it’s glory has not waned despite it’s brevity. Moonheart’s guitar sounds like a gentle chainsaw carving an exquisite sculpture from a tree felled in the early 70’s which had been beguiled with the soul of heavy, blues inspired rock of the time. Harmonies that ebb and flow with the driving beat are occasionally interjected with soaring riffs to make your eyebrows raise and your toes curl. Segall’s drumming I can only think to describe as tough with two capital “F”s, mixed with some sludgy break beats that you will not be able to repress the urge to air drum along with.

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Yes On Blood – The Mallard

The Mallard is a new sound emerging from the San Francisco bay area that is far from paltry. Greer McGettrick is joined by Dylan Tidyman-Jones to bring her creations to fruition with Yes On Blood. Coated with reverb, echo and distortion, the music floats between intoxicated, heady rhythms to catchy lucid riffs that nod towards the familiar San Franciscan garage sound.

Oh Sees’ front man, John Dwyer, plays Daedalus to The Mallard’s Icarus, providing the flight for this band by releasing the record through Dwyer’s Castle Face records. The label being synonymous with other San Fran garage contemporaries Ty Segall, Blasted Canyons and Thee Oh Sees, it’s little wonder that Dwyer offered to put out an album after listening to a demo tape from McGettrick.

Yes on Blood was recorded on a 16 track 1/2″ reel to reel with McGettrick providing vocals and strings while Tidyman-Jones helped out with percussion and back up vocals. Interestingly enough, Tidyman- Jones was a guitarist and had never played drums, according to an interview with McGettrick. The stand up drumming style, that has been carried across to their live shows, came about while McGettrick was recording and had show him the parts standing up. Professional drummers would be up in arms like randy gibbons about this unorthodox learning style, but it’s nice to see someone breaking the mould.
McGettick’s guitar playing sounds like drunken surf music at times with an undulating rhythm that will occasionally peak the crest and dive at the trough. Echoing vocals bounce and flow with the driving bass, stabbing emphatically at parts. The song writing rarely falls victim to the repetitive verse and chorus but chooses a fickle approach to composition, providing you with a taste for a riff and leaving you salivating to hear it again.
For a first offering, Yes On Blood is pretty damn good. I like where McGettick is going and I really dig the style which gives the impression that better things are yet to come. The Mallard are flying dangerously close to the sun and the wax holding their wings together shows no sign of waning.

Twins – Ty Segall

The latest album from Ty Segall is a euphonious collection of ditties with finely honed echoes of his previous offerings. Like valkyries bringing the select battle fallen to Valhalla so too has Ty brought forth his select Einherjar from his musical past for this Ragnarok named Twins.

The songs are crackers individually and assimilating them with the album as whole provides an impressive mosaic of influences and avenues traveled down over Segall’s career. Naysayers protesting that good albums are just not made any more and believe that new LP’s are released riding on the merit of one or two singles, can put Twins in their pipe and smoke it. Although meant metaphorical sense, I’d imagine “naysayers” probably have tangible pipes so as a stipulation, I emphasise the metaphorical. Inhaling burning vinyl fumes is probably bad on the lungs.

After listening to the album multiple times and assuming the band mates from his previous release, Slaughterhouse, had facilitated the recording, I read the liner notes, which took my breath like a punch to the stomach. “All songs written and performed by Ty Segall”. Talent up the wazoo, has our Ty. The recordings were completed in Eric Bauer’s basement studio and mixed at Fantasy Studios using the same equipment Creedence Clearwater Revival had recorded with over 30 years ago. Cool huh? Bauer, being a friend of Segall and having collaborated with him on multiple occasions, comes through with a sound that feels happily intended by the duo and extremely well produced.

It’s evident that Segall has mastered the nuances of the fuzz pedal on Twins. The fuzz, being an obstinate tone to manage at the best of times, has it’s range is explored, sounding like Thor is throwing his mjolnir amidst a storm of Ty’s drumming in tracks like They Told Me Too, while in Ghost it sounds like it is making love to your ears gently with a chainsaw.

Bridgid Dawson from Thee Oh Sees makes a vocal appearance, providing a sugary harmony to Segall before he kicks into the fuzzed out and Lennonesque single from the album, The Hill. Who Are You sounds like Ty is giving an amiable nod to a slew of his influences with a jangly verse that reminds me somewhat of Can’s I’m So Green, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if that was intended.

Ty is the little prince that shows us what we forget about music sometimes. With a plethora of commercially, over produced and media contrived bands flooding the market these days, I breathe a sigh of relief that albums like Twins are still being created. It’s clear that Segall just loves music and delivers the goods without affectation or stylized effrontery. “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.”

Listen to this one loud!

M.P.D / No Fun On The Beaches 7″ – Ex-Cult

The needle drops and then there were drums……thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud….distorted guitars kick in, vocals are spat, recalling the 80’s vigour of punk rock, the lead guitar stabbing the high notes at the change, followed by a breakdown which makes way for some great ululating guitar.

Sound good so far? It is.

Memphis based, Ex Cult, initially under the moniker of Sex Cult, decided to drop the ‘S’ after receiving a cease and desist letter from a New York record label of the same name. The members, hailing  from different Memphis bands looking for something different, had formed in 2011 from a discussion over beers to create a “punk band”, citing influences such as Australian band, The Victims and The Angry Samoans.

Ty Segal, one of the modern deities of garage punk, had taken a liking to Ex-Cult after seeing them perform at the last Goner Fest and offered to produce an Album. Like Hephaestus making armour for Achillies to fight back the Trojans, the garage gods must be smiling upon this new band and think they have something worth facilitating. From the sound of the this 7″ single taken from the Album to be released in November, I’m inclined to agree.

The M.P.D. single is a great introduction to draw you in and even comes with a nifty cover on the flip side that nods to the old ways. No fun on the Beaches, is a cover of Australian band, The Chosen Few, a short lived 1978 Melbourne punk group who also played a mixture of MC5, stooges covers and were influenced by Lobby Loyd and the Coloured Balls. These gents and lass have some esoteric punk history knowledge that would leave most with a rictus of incredulity.

Ex-Cult have an honest sound. No facade can be detected as if one were attempting to hide they had been sleeping under the Seine Bridges by inking the ankles of their skin where it showed through their socks, stuffing the soles of their shoes with newspaper and placing their tie so the holes don’t show. If the 7″ is anything to go by, the album should be worth the wait.

The One and Only – OBN IIIs

The stars at night are big and bright, young things pass joints and listen to a 60’s psych station in their parked cars, waiting for the Aurora Borealis to appear. The prairie sky is high and wide, bucolic cowboys recline, wearing pensive expressions while a crackling radio plays lugubrious slide guitar with equally melancholic vocals speaking of a heart broken by a girl with two first names. New sounds are arriving amidst the musical idiosyncrasies associated with the South of America, like canisters that have fallen from the heavens, embedding themselves in the desert strata, opening to introduce an alien tone, denizen’s ears wary of the sounds introducing tonal assimilation or destruction of what is aurally taken for granted. Deep in the heart of Texas.

OBN III’s are the creation  Austin Texas’s Orville Bateman Neeley the 3rd, the name coming to the forefront from Neeley jovially threatening to use his initials to create his own band and it’s fruition cemented when putting the name down for a empty band slot at the venue he works at as a sound engineer and booker. Most of the members are involved with other projects including Neeley, the front man and vocalist, writing all the music for the OBN’s and spreading his time amongst  three others bands but OBN’s have been getting a lot of the well earned publicity.

Twelve tracks of vehement garage punk goodness delivered without hubris and a sound influenced by all the great vehement luminaries of the genre, The One and Only is the groups first LP on Tic Tac Totally Records after a few 7″ releases with the label and a couple of others on Super Secret Records. If this is the beginning of the story I don’t want to put down the book.

Think riffs and guitar bends that would leave Ron Ashton with a beatific grin if he were still with us, Cheetah Chrome sneering while he makes his guitar squeal through an amp that has has holes punched in it’s speaker by Link Wray and a Captain America archetypal front man with an Iggy demeanour,  barking out lyrics while controlling the band like revered conductor.  Some of the sounds even throw venerating nods towards Australian influences of The Saints and Radio Birdman.

OBN III’s have unleashed raw power with The One And Only and now they want to be your doggies that bawl and bawl and bawl.

Maurice Ravel’s Bolero and Anne Adams Unravelling Of

It’s strange how often I’ve encountered seemingly sporadic coincidences pronouncing subject matter in books I’ve recently read, or perhaps it’s not.  I’m still uncertain if one’s subconscious is firing specific neurons that make certain events or encounters more luminous amongst the sea of information one processes day to day through reading, like a flare illuminating a previously piceous expanse or if the correlation between two pieces of information derived from different sources and their concatenation in close succession is purely helter skelter.

I was recently reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods again and came to the surrealistic description of the protagonist’s introduction to the Wisconsin tourist attraction, The House On The Rock,  a pell-mell of oddities, dioramas, strange architecture and bizarre collections set to the score of offbeat classical music, seemingly performed by instruments that play themselves. Maurice Ravel’s composition, Bolero, is first deciphered upon entrance, coming from an unseen player piano’s undulating and staccato tones, which coincidentally happened to be the piece focused on in a Radiolab podcast I had listened to a week before. The podcast’s theme focused on a woman named Anne Adams, who had become obsessed with the arrangement and interpreted the work into a visual rendering using paint. (see the above image)

Adams had been a prominent biologist until her son had been in a severe car accident in 1986 and chose to take time off to help him recuperate. He had a complete recovery and Ann decided to take up painting instead of returning to Biology. In 1994 at age 53, Anne became obsessed with Ravel’s Bolero, learning how to play the composition on the piano and formulating a structure for a visual art piece, including detailed annotations regarding the musical notes, describing specific colours for their representation.
The finished painting was entitled Unravelling Bolero, a striking work with repetitive angular shapes and patterns, each with a specific nuance and colour, following the compulsive Bolero verse and leading to the heightened, entropic finale. This work was to be the indicator of a neurodegenerative disease called frontotemporal dementia, a form of aphasia that affects the frontal lobe, causing it to deteriorate over time and often leads to a creative torrent in patients due to the creative parts of the brain becoming less inhibited by the dominant frontal lobe.  Ravel’s background was unbeknown to Anne, only being familiar with Bolero, and had not known that Ravel himself had suffered from the same disease with staggering coincidences.

In 1928, Maurice Ravel composed Bolero at age 53, the same age Ann Adams had become infatuated with Bolero. Ravel had begun to show signs of frontotemporal dementia during this time but had gone unnoticed, being prone to forgetfulness at the best of times. The symptoms gradually became worse with his writing, speech and comprehension deteriorating, one account recalling Ravel attempting to eat a meal using the wrong end of a knife, not being able to ascertain the reason for his difficulty with cutting the food. Similar scenarios were recorded with Anne’s deterioration, such as gradually forgetting her address and other diminished cognitive skills after the creative flux began to dissipate. The severity of the disease’s affect led to Ravel undergoing brain surgery in 1937 which proved to be unsuccessful, leading to his death a year later. Anne passed away from the disease in 2007.

Multiple listens to Bolero whilst writing this conjured images of an hedonistic, ancient Roman scene from a 1960’s film. Epicurean indulgences being undertaken by the togaed followers of a Roman General while the camera repeatedly pivots 360 degrees from a central position amidst the congregation, a regal looking Julius Caesar reclining in the background. The scene changes from a hypnotic serenity to a dizzying discomfort marked by a crescendo, images rapidly amalgamating the lead up to Caesar’s most trusted associates turned dissident though clandestine discourse. The final shot, Caesar’s visage of disbelief towards the conspirator who left the final mortal wound in his body.

Et tu Brute?

 

 

Maurice Ravel’s Bolero

The House On The Rock’s Bolero

Check out the Radiolab podcast here:

http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2012/jun/18/unraveling-bolero/

Dinner In The Dark – Shapes Have Fangs

Dinner In The Dark is a psych garage Odyssey with piquant flavours of soul and early R’n’B spice, making a pleasing musical gumbo.

Shapes Have Fangs are four Austin, Texas musical raconteurs, consisting of guitarist and lead vocalist Dustin Coffee, bassist Josh Willis, guitarist Sykler McGlothin and brother, Evan McGlothin on drums. The group grew up together and have all been playing in different bands since they were 16 and formed the band in 2007. Dustin and Skyler had been assiduous crate diggers a few years before, incessantly looking for samples to use with an old MPC multi track recorder to create hip hop beats, their erudition of esoteric R’ n’ B, soul and garage music becoming the muse for Shapes Have Fangs.

The band work in the Austin recording studio, Laguna Records, run by Sykler and have recorded some of the best psych and garage contemporaries around as well as Dinner In The Dark. Using reel to reel tape for their recordings then transferring to audio editing software, the sound is warm and sonorous, recalling the tonal vibe of their 60’s predecessors.

Austin has has birthed some of the greatest 60’s garage luminaries such as Roky Erickson of Thirteenth Floor Elevators and the late Sky Saxon of The Seeds who had collaborated with Shapes before his death. With a sound so infused in the blood and soul of the Texas city, it’s no wonder such mellifluous psyched out tones are being created. The scene is thriving with the Reverberation Appreciation Society curating the Austin Psych Fest each year, showcasing some of the best garage outfits from America and releasing records by artists such as Night Beats and Christian Bland as well as Shapes Have Fangs.

The album congeals a southern Texas twang with swampy reverb, a playful driving bass and a mix of R’ n’ B drumming to form a sound that is reminiscent but not ersatz of their influences. The songs conjure images of go go girls oscillating wildly to  the rhythmic beats, blinking, one finds the picture changed to a desert scene at it’s meridian, a bloody hue cast upon a barren landscape, juxtaposing the silhouettes of reticent cowboys,  Link Wray rumbling along with the group who contemplate Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß of an ongoing predicament, while a Belial like man amongst them, known as The Judge, watches all with sinister eyes.

One of the stand out tracks is  Shapes Theme / Only Blood, a transmutation  from a stabby, bright guitar driven riff, spattered with Chuck Berry bends, melded with a brilliant running bass line to a soul thumping number that throws tribute to Shirley Ellis’s nursery rhyme styled Clapping Song.

A highly recommend album if your goose drinks wine and you’ve seen a monkey chew tobacco on the street car line.

They’re even good live!

Daily Commute – Useless Eaters

Useless Eaters is the creation of Memphis denizen, Seth Sutton, a cornucopia of new wave garage rock. Under the Useless Eaters moniker, he has released three LP’s and over nine 7″ records during the last few years, touring with recruited band members to play his creations, including the late Jay Reatard. Reading the back of the albums, one is confronted with the reality that fecundity is not the only quality of this musical prodigy; All songs written and recorded by Seth Sutton; All vocals and instruments on this album were performed by Seth Sutton; Artwork by Seth Sutton. Does he not succumb to the enchantment of Hypnos?

Reading through some old interviews with Seth, he alludes to previous bands failing due to members becoming drug addicts or going into rehabilitation, leaving him disillusioned with finding other homogeneous musicians and deciding to literally do everything himself. Learning how to use an old Tascam cassette 4 track, Seth began recording his own songs, giving them a vintage sibilance and a resonance that high-end digital audio equipment lacks.

Daily Commute was released in mid 2011 and really shows Seth’s blossoming talents as he amalgamates his plethora of influences, putting him with prolific garage lodestar contemporaries, John Dwyer and Ty Segall.

The guitar has a sharp reverby twang overlaid with the occasional delay and peppered with bright, stabbing, single note riffs, recalling the 80’s new wave staccato sound combined with Seth’s rough and tumble punk twist. A driving, fuzzy bass keeps the tempo through most tracks, conjuring the image of a uninhibited and inebriated guest driving home from a Gatsby party. Vocals are spat out with a sharp punk aesthetic with no trace of the bombastic qualities found in the commercial counterparts who tackle the genre. The drum’s almost tribal booming sound, like one is traveling by canoe while the war drums of the natives speak to each other, acknowledging your presence and forming a message without words, “We will kill you if we can. We will kill you if we can.”

Daily Commute is honestly a great garage pop album without the idiosyncrasies that denote such a genre and sounds like a guy who doesn’t care what you think, he just want’s to play some rock’n’roll, but the money’s no good.

Kill From The Heart – Dicks

There seems to be an uncanny concatenate between my friend Ned recommending fantastic old bands and record companies reissuing their albums on vinyl within a month of mention.

Kill From The Heart was first released by SST Records in 1983, now re-released by record label Alternative Tentacles and remastered by Jello Biafra, Kill From The Heart by the Dicks is now a diamond in the rough knowledge of my eighties punk bands.

The Dicks had something to say, played faster and harder than most of the bands in their native Texas scene at the time, and all with a veracity lost within the today’s perception of the genre. Listening to anything modern with the self proclaimed title of “punk music” these days is often so heinously far from the original idea or dogma the word once represented. My gorge rises at it.

26 year old Gary Floyd started the band in 1980 with guitarist Glen Taylor, bassist Buxf Parrot and drummer Pat Deason. Floyd, being openly gay, politically aware, anti racist and unabashed to voice his opinions on a facet of taboo subjects, created a unique tremor on the hardcore scene with a gusto and tenacity that could not go unnoticed. Fellow Texans, The Big Boys released a split with them titled “Live at Rauls” after The Dicks first 7″, “Dicks Hate The Police”, capturing their crude high energy songs and spiking the interest of infamous punk producer Spot,from SST records who released this fine record.

The first track on Kill From The Heart hits you like a duck in the face at 250 knots. Distorted, twangy, often drunk sounding guitar that doesn’t come up for air, smashing and succinct drums, a pulsing bass like the the trained heart of track athlete and deep growl of Floyd’s fierce vocals. The fast, vehement style resonates through most of the album with smatterings of blues punk and the occasional slower tempo songs which really show range the The Dicks are able to tackle.

Most songs on the album speak of oppression, racism and police brutality with the vigor of personal experience and awareness. The album listens well all the way through, even having a fuzzed out distorted cover of Purple Haze. Highly recommended if, like me, you had never heard them, are disillusioned with today’s punk bands and liken most of them to sour milk, bands who if their studded denim layers were to be removed would reveal nothing, not even an invisible albino scientist trying to cure their self inflicted predicament. A real punk band with informed views and play like the dickens you say? Yep.

This American Life And Radiolab

I’ve never really embraced technology the way most people seem to. Simplicity has always been paramount in my adoption of new media and communication platforms, which is probably why I had never listened to a podcast until recently.

The written word, film, documentaries and conversing with people had always been the key to my education in a myriad of topics and great stories until a friend expanded the metaphorical box my self governed educational system had been put into with two podcasts, This American Life and Radiolab.

This  American Life, a weekly broadcast exploring different themes and stories is hosted by Ira Glass, who began producing the radio show in 1995 and is now one of the most downloaded podcasts from itunes. Essentially the show involves interviewing people for their stories, giving you an insight into their life and experiences from a wide range of backgrounds and situations that are informative, moving and often hilarious.

Radiolab is similar to This American Life but focuses more so on “science, philosophy and the human experience”, using sounds created by the staff that interact and blend with the narrative. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show launched its first season in 2005 and is now now in its ninth with new broadcasts being released biweekly.

If you’re keen to hear some great stories or learn more about the world we live in,  I recommend getting your crew to put bee’s wax in their ears, secure you to the mast and brace yourself for the siren’s song of these two shows, which present unique radio journalism at its finest.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/

http://www.radiolab.org/