Saturday, December 31, 2005

It's a God-damn Crime...

... that I didn't have tickets to last night's Volcano Suns Maxwell's reunion show or Thursday's Boston gig at the Middle East.

All hail the Suns who reunited this week... Rumors abound of a tour but it may have to be postponed until after the MoB release/tour next year.

Alas, tickets were sold out long before I heard of it. If you went, tell me how it was.

They have generously set up a Myspace with downloads or you can stream four songs, pictures of the band (you have to register to see these - sorta like a porn site), gig adverts, notes on their rehearsals, etc. here...

LHB has a clip from a Boston newspaper review. Update: Brett Milano provides a less jaded account.

Volcano Suns - "Blown Stack - Engines" - from All Night Lotus Party

"You only get this offer for a limited time..."

Daniel Cohen has a nice picture of the Suns gig here in Boston which I'm temporarily showing up to the leftside of my blog.

SAVED ROUND: My 2005 List

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sarcastic Orgasm: You Are What You Fuck

As a promised follow-up to this post, here's DC's Sarcastic Orgasm's master(bate)piece, "You Are What You Fuck," a timely and cautionary tale for the New Year.

May you all bring in the New Year with a bang.

Update: With reservation but by special request, here is "Soap Opera Hallucinations."

"Like the bugs under our skins, these are the days of our lives."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Killdozer: Burl EP & Little Baby Buntin'

Touch and Go Records, 1986-1987

"Ballad singing has been going on ever since people sang at all. It comes up like an underground stream and then goes back again. But it always exists."
- Burl Ives.

"If America wasn't a cesspool we couldn't write songs. At least not the songs we write."
- Michael Gerald, Killdozer, 1994, Stumpy Fanzine
I bet Burl Ives didn't have Killdozer in mind when he waxed on about ballad singing but for that brief period they were one of the few bands practicing the art.

Like the 70's TV movie that they took their inspiration from, Killdozer wrote bluesy guttural and vulgar songs about an industrial world out of control and the working class freaks and losers that populate that bleak landscape. There were no Springsteenian heroes here promising redemption beneath a dirty hood of a Chevrolet or Dylanish troubadours reading the words written by Italian poets from the thirteenth century by candlelight. Instead we have short order fry cooks who seem on the verge of a killing spree, a man so lonely that he imagines the cyst on his neck has come alive and a man who gets a "bubblegum face" from an industrial accident but still brags that with a hood on his head he's a "sexual beast."

The thing that sticks with you about Killdozer is undoubtedly Michael Gerald's raspy put-on voice that sounds like Froggy from Our Gang might have sounded at 65 after a lifetime of whisky and cigars. He's been criticized for never deviating from 'the voice" and at times it can get annoying (example: the cartoonish "Hi There" or his monotone delivery in the "I'm Not Lisa" cover). But if you listen closely, he does vary it at times - compare the almost soft delivery of "Slackjaw" with the balls-out singing on "Hamburger Martyr" for example. And it's not like put-on voices aren't part of a proud tradition. Check out Dylan or Springsteen, the most prominent balladeers of the previous two decades, for instance. The band has also been criticized for being too derivative of Flipper which is a bogus argument given the fact that these are ballads with song structure and story while Flipper were mainly one or two lines sung over and over again until your ears started to bleed. You could make the point that they are derivative of Birthday Party but again you go back to the songs and where Birthday Party were more influenced by Southern Gothic novels while Killdozer drew from a folk tradition stemming from Depression-era dustbowl music. Burl Ives may be somewhat sarcastically cited here but give the guy his due, he helped popularize Woody Guthrie and tons of other balladeers in the 30's even if he's best known as the holly-jolly snowman in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Ives' signature song (before "Silver and Gold") was "Wayfarin' Stranger," which like much of Killdozer's work is sung in the first person.

It's a shame these two records were never reissued together since they seem to be a perfect match. Burl, released in 1986, was their first work in a 24 track studio and the sound is bigger and more experimental. It lays the groundwork for Little Baby Buntin' where the band sounds even more uninhibited. And it can't go without mention that uber-producer Butch Vig cut his teeth with Killdozer even if he later became the drummer for Garbage.

  • Bill Hobson: Guitars
  • Dan Hobson: Drums
  • Michael Gerald: Bass, vocals
  • Butch Vig: piano (on Burl)

  • "Puppy" - Little Baby Buntin'

This song is about a true incident - here's Michael Gerald telling the story in his own words:
SP: If there's one line I may never get out of my head (much as I want to) it'’s the one that goes something like "When I lit Sonny'’s balls on fire/You didn't even blink." Where did that come from?
MG: There was a biker gang outside of Madison, WI, called Satan'’s Dragons, that didnĂ‚’t even own motorcycles. They were in the news because one of their initiates had been found dead and naked in a field, castrated and with his dick stuffed into his mouth. They were caught when one of them reported to the police the theft of his Harley Davison ring, which had been found underneath the head of the dead initiate. The dudes referred to their initiates as "puppies." I naturally imagined them being the type who would set a dog'’s balls on fire...
[From Snap! Pop Interview by Comely Mike Montana, 2000]

Michael's interpretation of the chorus's line: "I Am, I said / to no one there / and no one heard at all / not even the chair" is simultaneously absurd and poignant. Excuse me while I cry into my hanky but this is their best cover ever - and this is a band that did LOTS of covers.

Besides being a great way to open up Burl, this is a clever reference to The Venus Hottentot, a shameful incident in Western history where an African woman was brought to England and put on display because she had a big ass. "Hottentot" doesn't have any references to this beyond the title but instead reflects a common theme in Killdozer songs - that is the sons and daughters not heeding history and repeating the sins of their fathers. A fat man plans some sort of despicable act against a little girl for criticizing him for his "enormous size".

Saved Round:

In an example of life imitating art, a man angry with his local government armored a bulldozer and attempted to destroy a small Colorado town. He ended up destroying 13 buildings. The local media nicknamed the bulldozer Killdozer.

When the bulldozer broke down, the man shot himself and the armor cover had to be removed by a crane in order to get to his body. The quote below from Mr. Dailey sounds like it could have been written by Michael Gerald.

Undersheriff Glen Trainor said the dozer's armor plates consisted of two sheets of half-inch steel with a layer of concrete between them.

Grand County Commissioner Duane Dailey said Heemeyer apparently used a video camera and two monitors found inside to guide the dozer. Two guns were mounted in front and aimed through portals. Other portals were cut in the back. It was unclear how many guns Heemeyer had in the dozer.

Authorities speculated Heemeyer may have used a homemade crane found in his garage to lower the armor hull over the dozer and himself.

"Once he tipped that lid shut, he knew he wasn't getting out," Dailey said.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Christmas Song: Anal Satan

So last year, I was feeling all gushy and mushy and this year I'm all cynical about the holy days. The only difference I can think of is that I'm one year older and I'm dealing with an insatiable (younger) girlfriend when last year I was just another member of the Lonely Guy Club.

You'd think it would be the other way around.

This isn't really a Christmas song but its about as blasphemous as I can get and it sums up my feelings about the season. Maybe because its taking away from valuable sack time.

It comes from the "Olympia Must Die" 7" by the Witchypoo roving collection of misfits -- and its a cover of a Melvins song - Joe Preston is on the record too - probably not a coincidence, that.

It was released back in August but I've just gotten around to ripping it to digital.

People seem to hate this band but listening to this, I can't see why. Sure, it ain't gonna be on The O.C.'s Season Finale or even Sleeper Cell (where it might actually work) but it blows away any other electroclash I've heard this year.

Merry Fucking Christmas. Now I have to go shopping. Thank you Baby Jesus.

"Anal Satan" - Witchypoo (thin the herd records)

Coffee and Cigarettes MP3 Mix: Suburban Decay

Owl Prone
"Mirror Stage" - Collapsing Opposites
"The Sun Again" - Vedett
"Birds, Cats, Piano" - Metal (see also Artistry)
"You Told Me You Loved Me" - Wolfo (aka Horsemachine aka Robbie/Poopfilter)
"Systems of Social Recalibration" - Aspects of Physics (source)

Liner notes: Some new bands I've picked up via the web, links from other bands that I like and longish crawling through myspace... that's my photo there, taken in my older brother's backyard. The owl apparently is to scare off certain types of birds that plague suburbanites but had fallen on the ground. I suspect I may come back in Spring and he'll still be there waiting to be put back on his perch.

None of these bands really have much to do with suburbia so far as I can tell but they seem to fit the mood of the silent owl somehow. Collapsing Opposites leads off the set - he's a child care worker by day so he tries out alot of his songs on a captive audience, so to speak. Tons more downloads at his site. Vedett is a Dungen like band from Belgium and you know about as much as me. There's more songs at their site. Metal appears to be part of one of those collectives but they are too cool to call themselves such. At any rate, it's a nice ambient piano (improv?) where birds and outside sounds provide accompaniang. "You Told Me You Loved ME" proves nice new songs can come from acoustic guitars - the artist who appears to be linked with Metal. Finally, Aspects of Physics recorded "Systems" in 2005 but it took me long enough to find it. Great little meditation piece to end the set.

SAVED ROUND: Speaking of new music, Opuszine has two new Liz Durrett tracks up from her Jan 2006 release - The Mezzanine ... we last wrote about her here.

...also here's a link to a recent Meredith Bragg performance at the Kennedy Center - requires RealPlayer.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sarcastic Orgasm

mini-LP, Synn's Allright Now Records, 1986

Here's an obscure mid-80's DC group that to my knowledge only put this record out and appeared in assorted compilations. I only remember ever seeing them listed as playing live in DC maybe once and I never saw them. I suppose among my peers at the time, I was about their only supporter if they knew anything about them in the first place. I think DC in the mid-80's was a hard place to be truly weird and maybe it still is. Of course, that made the Darwinian dynamic give rise to some great weirdo bands like 1/2 Japanese and No Trend and forced other wierdos like Psycodrama and White Boy even further into the underground.

This record consists of six mostly damaged art-punk songs that I suppose qualify as social critique whilst maintaining a veneer of fun or at least the type of fun a band that uses publishes a back-cover picture of nostril hairs in lieu of band photo.

Each side has what I would call two "concept songs" and one conventional song, if anything about this band can be labeled conventional. The concept pieces are mostly retarded Zappaish music beds or synthy Ur-plop that generally underscore a spoken word narrative such as a dry reading of a newstory about an African massacre ("Hebephrenic List"), a portentous recap of a soap opera story line ("Soap-Opera Hallucination") using the Young and Restless theme song for effect or a restless rendering of a Penthouse Forum Letter while the band merrily skronks out ("Name and Address Withheld").

The two "conventional" songs are circus-like juvenile lurch-pop with titles like "You Are What You Fuck" and the anti-authority "Why, Because I Said So." Due to a technical glitch, I was unable to get "You Are What You Fuck" in this go-round but I may post it later.

Band Members:
  • Jerry Boner - Bass + Bkrd Vocal
  • Brad Glosserman - Drums
  • John Hoppe - Keyboards + Violin
  • Scott Phillips - Guitar + Vocals
  • Extra Hard Working Guest Artist: Synn

Answer to Future 80's Underground Music Trivial Pursuit Question:

Sarcastic Orgasm are mentioned in Mike Watt's liner notes for Sonic Youth's The Whitey Album:
"However, death is not mocked and my big man D. Boon was killed December 11, 1985 in a van crash. I was tiny and stopped wrestling my bass, wouldn't touch it. Kira had to do some internship at Yale so I drove her to Connecticut. I stopped in NYC and stayed with Thurston and Kim for a week. Staying up late laying on the couch with a blanket on just talking and talking. Talking about everything, even silly band names out of Flipside like Sarcastic Orgasm. I must have drove them crazy. But it really helped me get over that hell of D. Boon Dying, I really owe them all I've done since the Minutemen."

The Scientists: Weird Love

Big Time Records, 1986

For their only US release, Australia's Kim Salmon and his band The Scientists (in its fourth incarnation and minus the original drummer) went into a London studio and re-recorded this set of songs, at least one of them even better than their originals ("When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow"). Joe Carducci in his Rock and Pop Narcotic book said The Scientists were "a rather unfocused blend of Crampsian dynamic and Stoogian structure" - this description might also work for The Gun Club although J. L. Pierce's voice was much more striking than Salmon's drone. Furthermore, this batch of songs sounds much more tilted towards the "Crampsian dynamic" than "Stoogian structure."

Salmon's voice is unremarkably recorded here and there's a garagepunk sameness to the overall sound -- maybe its because almost all the songs were recorded in London with a slick new wave producer over the space of three days in February, 1986. Some of the songs sound like the band is playing in a detached manner and I can't find the enthusiasm that exists in their earlier stuff or the original versions of the songs.

But, but, but there are some cuts that approach a sort of limited form of nirvana. "When Fate Deals Its Mortal Blow" is a slide guitar shuffle and a bass line that shakes the cobwebs out of my skull - although this band wasn't known for their lyrics, I love the line: "There's a hundred head hunters all headed your way / with a hundred ways they'll make you pay." I don't think Lux and Ivy could have written a better line.

A cover of the James Bond song "You Only Live Twice" (originally done by Nancy Sinatra) has some great guitar noise, Stoogian structure or not and refashions the song's hook with a buried single note piano. I'm not surprised that this was the only song on the record not recorded with Wall of Voodoo producer Richard Mazda (and with a different drummer). "Swampland" is redone with more finesse than the original and while it may lose something in its regurgitation, this version still stands alone quite nicely and makes for a promising record opener. Finally, "If It's The Last Thing I Do" (sometimes called "Travis") adds to the canon of Great Works inspired by Travis Bickle and Martin Scorsese.

  • Guitars: Tony Thewlis & Kim Salmon
  • Drums & Piano: Leanne Chock
  • Bass Guitar: Boris Sujdovic
  • Voice: Kim Salmon

Some Weird Love songs:
  • "Swampland" - opening track - from the liner notes: "A song of yearning for the exotic. Love of the weird."
  • "You Only Live Twice" - closing track liner notes: "Nothing weird about loving this song - or its original songstress, for that matter."

Essential links:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dr. Know: "Plug-In Jesus" Mini-LP

Mystic Records, 1984

Dr. Know were of the Mystic Records crop and violated the sacrosanct aesthetic of hardcore punk by littering their tunes with (horrors!) guitar solos and bass and drums breaks. This was one of the reasons I liked them at least until they full totally dived into metal core in subsequent years. They're since back to their HC punk w/metal accented roots pretty much if their Myspace samples are any indication.

The songs themselves cover all the wellworn HC punk 'n' angst topics - lashing out at religion, society and themselves. This is also one of those odd mini-LPs that Mystic liked to release - somewherez between an EP and an LP - about 10-15 minutes on each side versus the normal 18-20 minutes for LPs and 8-10 minutes for EPs.

First singer was Brandon Cruz and current singer is Brandon Cruz but in-between they had Kyle Toucher both belting out vocals and wailing on "lead guitar"... Interesting thing though is that Fred Mataquin is also listed as "lead guitar" and that pretty much sums up their approach: two blasting lead guitars with a smoking bass and drummer.

Random coolness factoring point was that bassist Ismael Hernandez was kid bro to the Hernandez Brothers and Jamie designed their, um, identity thingie and I may have bought this just as much for asshole comic collector rententionitis completistness than merely just for the band itself given that there were plenty of others plowing similar fields. Here's the Xamie Hernandez logo thingie for waaaat! it's dearth:

Links & shit: Two songs here to sample but Dressed for the Bomb also has cuts up from this record and the songs are mostly found on the "Best of Dr. Know".. in recent years, the band seemed to be on-again off-again but their Dr. Know Myspace, um, space indicates that they are still playing gigs (Cruz and Hernandez are the longtime members) and have a label. There's a comprehensive history both at Myspace and on Wikipedia.

Kyle Toucher - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Ismael Hernandez - Bass Guitar
Fred Mataquin - Lead Guitar
Rik Heller - Drums

Sample Songs (only up for 14 Days):
"The Intruder" (also called "Fear the Intruder") - nice guitar solo about a minute in
"Circle of Fear" - features an extended drums and bass break and then some nice ensemble work near the end of the song

Saved Round(s): The front page of the Washington Post has an article quoting Bob Mould in the lede and its about how indie bands are making their livings liscensing their songs to commercials and TV shows. I would like to just announce here and now that if anyone would like to license Vinyl Mine to a TV show, I'm more than happy to have your people meet my people. My ideal scenario would be to have the mousy chick and the fat guy in "24" ignoring a terroristic attack because they are downloading No Trend tracks for their iPods.

Also, I want to publicly thank American Analog Set for playing in DC on Tuesday night given that they so graciously publicly thanked me (well, the audience) at the end of the show. Catherine Lewis writes:
The crowd dwindled as the final droning chord of the band's last song, "We're Computerizing and We Just Don't Need You Anymore," morphed into a murmured "Continuous Hit Music" performed by Kenny solo. He then spoke about how much he and his band love playing music. "It really is our pleasure to play for you," he stated generously, unfazed by the thinning and inattentive crowd.
Really, it was an awesome show and AAS adhere to the hardcore punk aesthetic of "no solos" by the way.