Sunday, July 30, 2006

Black Mountain (Side... 2)

Continuing with some rips of some more contemporary music, at least if you define contemp as being recorded in the past few years despite sounding like it could have been written and played as is 30 years ago...

... comes this teaser Black Mountain ltd. edition single - marble wax with dashes of muted secondary collors (yellow, purple) very cool to look at (click the image below for the full groovy effect). I liked "Druganaut" EP from last year but still haven't bothered to get BM's first record. "Bicycle Man" struck me as a partic. jagged boy-girl vocal cut that got my finger hit the repeat button more than a dozen times throughout the end of last summer. Great for (fantasizing about) running down bicycle riders, ha ha. Seriously, a fine little chugging tribute to Blue Cheer.

Someone else has already ripped "Stormy High", hairy stoner rock proof that they weren't contaminated by their prissy 2006 tourmates (Coldplay, shudder) but I'm just as good with the flipside: "Voices" - a more mellow country groove than "Bicycle Man"'s 60's bombast - but both in the own way pay sad tribute to a music long thought extinct - which seems to be the reason for Black Mountain (and the Warlocks for that matter). Also, Amber Webber pronounces "fire" as "farr" and "glee" as "guh-lee" which I find oddly sexy.

"Voices" - Black Mountain (suicide squeeze)

Buy at insound or these other fine outfits... only 2000 pressed.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Castanets - "Lucky"

So, since Ray Raposa and his Castanets are in town tonight with Black Heart Procession and they put out one of my fave albums from last year, here's a rip from an exclusive 7" that Insound sent me because I have enough disposable income to become one of their top 1000 customers.

It seems a shame that this isn't more widely available tho' I'm sure it will show up in other compilations or future Castanets collections.

"Lucky," a semi-disguised protest song about somebody on the run (an AWOL soldier?), is more trad-folk than their more chaotic and lightning-singed First Lights Freeze but it shares the downbeat simplicity and world-awareness of their other music.

"Lucky" - Castanets

Stream some more Castanets and check tour dates here

Bonus track:

Red Hunter of Peter And The Wolf accompanies Reposa on this cut. Their song "The Fall" was featured in a past posting here.

"Strange Machines" - Peter and The Wolf (Red Hunter) [Hosted by Hunter's Whisky & Apples]

Tour info here -- at some point they will be playing with Raposa...

Post Show UPDATE: Castanets played a nice but short set. In this incarnation of the band, Raposa plays somewhat minimalist drone Fender guitar and a very tall country girl in pumps played weird response on a Chet Atkins-style guitar. She had huge eyes and spent the whole set fixed on Raposa as if in some sort of telepathic communication. Neat. A bespeckaled bassist in a cowboy hat (Jana Hunter!) and a bearded drummer (Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent) and effects dude (drum machine, noise boxes) in the back completed the band. The last song went into a sort of free jazz drone feedback loop. Raposa starts packing up timing each unplugging of the chord to fit with the music while the band looked tentatively on. The Devics were also on fire (think of them as a blue flame) - very nice singing from Ms. Lov. Black Heart Procession wore thin after 1/2 a set. I can see why people compare Akron/Family with them but way too much theremin, maaaaan...


Planet Claire has some MP3 tracks from a February 2006 Jana Hunter - Castanets on-air show in France. Link via The Perm & The Skullet...

this has nothing to do with anything above but La Blogotheque has some 1969 tracks of Elton John covering Nick Drake...

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Pontiac Brothers: Doll Hut LP (Frontier Records/1985)

Hoist one for The Pontiac Brothers -- the Ward Dotson - Matt Simon post-Gun Club escape from L.A. band. If I remember my schoolin', "Doll Hut" refers to a place the band would stay at while on the East Coast roadhouse dive in Anaheim and that seems appropriate for a record that simultaneously celebrates the freedom of the road while pining for the comforts (and commitments) of home.

What it is music-wise is basic non-retro "smart" rock and roll circa 1985 - meaning they were just as aware of The Replacements and Husker Du as they were of The Rolling Stones, Hank Williams and Elvis. Trying to peg 'em down any further as some have tried (roots, alt-country, alternative, pre-grunge) is an exercise in futility. Just enjoy 'em.

Maybe not as good songs as the bands above but thankfully they remained just enough off the popindiegrind-grid that they still remain fresh yo so many years later.

Your basic P. Bros set-up is like this: "the world is fucked / I am fucked / you are fucked / so let's go home together and fuck"...

So, kick off yer regular guy shoes, pour a drink, preferably beer, put your feet up and light up a stick if you are so inclined. Ladies and Gents and Lowlifes, your long wait is over. Presentinnnng once again for consideration in their rightful place in the rock'n'roll-o-sphere, The Pontiac Brothers...

"Out In The Rain" - Protagonist wants to go home but has been kicked out for being a drunk/junkie/asshole, etc. He compares his plight with the homeless and then finds someone else who also stuck out in the rain. Things still suck but it's a tad better to share your misery with someone. Earthbound as P. Bros were, this song was about as Husker as they got, though despite the song content, only half as miserable. Sample lyric grab:
I like you alright babe
but there's no one to blame
to be left out in the rain
we got left out in the rain
ah, wasted in the rain
"Keep The Promise" - Commitment is a two-way street. So why is that backstabbin' Joe hanging around here? "Got the feelin'/Something's broken/And I'm the reason why" Like the Replacements, with a bendy guitar solo and some soulful singing from Matt Simon.

"Almost Human" - Misogyny was never this catchy (well, besides current rap music). Maybe it is and maybe it isn't but it's about the only song that's stayed with me over the years besides the "Be Married Song" (which appears on another album). For some reason, it bubbles to the top of my conciousness at those times when I'm most frustrated with members of the opposite sex. Is the girl's treachery/witchery/betrayal/thoughtlessness half full or half empty is the question? Specially when "she steps up to ya and gives you a kiss from the lips that never miss." And yes. I know that's a corny line. But rock is full of great songs with corny lyrics. The song most like the Stones although lacks any pop pretensions - think "deep cut" on Exile.

Ward and Matt, Pontiac Brothers, 1980s
Picture by me...

Band line-up:
  • Matt Simon - vocals
  • Ward Dotson - guitar
  • Jon Wahl - guitar
  • Kurt Bauman - bass
  • D. A. Valdez - drums
Final Rounds:
  • Ward Dotson killed the Pontiac Brothers around 1988 and (along with Matt Simon back on drums, his original instrument) formed Liquor Giants. Dotson was heard to proclaim during a Gun Club tribute in 2002 "this is it, he's had it with music, he ain't playing live anymore"
  • At any rate, Liquor Giants recorded two albums on Matador in the late '90s and turned up last in 2000 on an Australian label, sans Matt Simon. There was a final P. Bros album released in 1992, again on their old pal's label, Frontier. Trouser Press said about their swansong: "the album retains the balance of beery abandon and wounded introspection that originally made the band special"...
  • Related to this, check out the vinyl rip of "Sex Beat" on The Crutch. While I don't partake in the Jeff Lee Pierce corpse worship that became fashionable after death, "Sex Beat" is my fave song (and it's pretty much everyone else's except the Gun Club snobs). Pierce was okay but had he lived, he probably would have been as unbearable as that guy from Jane's Addiction. At any rate, that's Ward Dotson on slide guitar. "Move!"

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Beachmasters: Self-titled (1988)

Kleen Kut Records

So, why do a post about surf music now? Well, it is the summer and didja know that what's called surf rock really had more roots in Lebanese Mid-East music than in California frat boy basements and East Carolina shag carpets? Case in point: son of a Lebanese immigrant, Dick Dale, who in the 50's was doing rock and roll before he conjured up surf rock by mixing up Link Wray-style instrumentals with 50's rock and roll beat and his reverby Fender guitar/amp. Wikipedia says about Dale's influences:
"He was a surfer himself and sought to transfer the excitement and adrenaline of the sport through his guitar playing. He often drew on his Lebanese heritage, incorporating modal tonalities and instruments such as finger cymbals and reeds. Many surf bands that followed him incorporated Eastern influences, as well as Dale's generous use of reverb."
So, since Lebanon is in the news again, why not surf music (and please no comments like "Sayyed Can't Surf")?

Beachmasters were actually a Boston band and I'm not sure any of them ever got on a surf board and if they did, they'd probably look kinda funny - they mostly looked like variations on that thin pale kid from the movie Christine -- but they were sure doing surf music when it wasn't hip. It had been 20 years since Hendrix slayed surf music and it would be several more before Quentin Tarantino single-handedly made surf music safe again for hipsters by putting "Miserlou" on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. I remember sitting in the theater listening to this during the closing credits and shushing my brother and his friend. But even surf is "out", it will always be cool. What other genre of rock can you wear Ray-bans to and not be either considered a junkie or totally dork?

Members were "Boston garage punk royalty" and played back up for GG Allin, were in the Mighty Ions, Hopelessly Obscure, Underachievers, Unnatural Axe, Lyres, Afrika Korps and even the original punkers The Gizmos (and yeah, I know the latter two weren't Boston bands).

Most notable in the line-up is drummer (and producer) Ken Kaiser (Afrika Korps/Korps, Gizmos, and uh, Slickee Boys, etc.) who also wrote the majority of the songs - mostly instrumentals showcasing his steady drumming. Surf music is very cool for drummers: great backbeats and lots of tom work. "Surfin' Ayatollah" is a prime example of Dick Dale's Middle Eastern influence, although its probably less authentic and more an example of modern Orientalism - but what they hey, it rocks - so what about the gong. He only gets wussy with the "Surfers' Prayer" -- the one review of the album I found on the web calls it cheesy but it's kinda sweet, man. His approach is clearly more reverential of both 1st wave (Dick Dale) and second wave (Surfaris, Ventures) California surf music than most of the other punkers who incorporated surf (later subsumed in post-punk bands like Boston's Pixies and The Breeders). Dale's "Wedge" is more than competently covered here - nuttin' to be embarassed about on this solid cut.

The other songwriters - Mighty Ions' Bob MacKenzie and Carl Twomey's songs are more surf-punk - although not as viscious as the Dead Kennedys and Butthole Surfers or as hardcore as Agent Orange. Think more B-52s -- and how can you not when MacKenzie's voice is so like Fred Schneider. At any rate, their tongues are more firmly placed in cheek (the Mighty Ions were one of the first wrestling rock bands) - leading to funny lyrics and song titles ("Hangin' 10 With Henrietta") at least but missing the heartfelt love of Kaiser's tunes. "Surfin' After School" is a standout among the Twomey-MacKenzie cuts mainly due to the ripping guitar work by what I assume is Mackenzie

Beautiful sound, by the way, from undersung hero of Fort Apache Studios, Sean Slade (who later worked with Sebadoh, Juliana Hatfield and, oh yeah, Radiohead).

Band line-up (my best guess at the people behind the aliases - corrections and additions welcome):
  • Dash Riptide (Ken Kaiser) - Drums
  • Rex Reverb -(Bob MacKenzie) - lead Guitar
  • Lance Hollywood (???) - guitar
  • Troy Masters (Carl Twomey) - Bass
  • Buddy Love (Tom White) - Vox Organ
Discography note:
Beachmasters also had a single ("Don't Surf Alone" b/w "Out of Limits/Penetration") but I think this is their only album

Ken Kaiser as boss surfer drummer Dash Riptide


Monday, July 24, 2006

God Bullies - "Sex Power Money"

The traumacore flipside to the first God Bullies single... to steal a quote from a great one -- albeit written about another band:

"Dig it or start digging"...

"Sex Power Money" - God Bullies

Visit Mike Hard's other band - The Brain Saw
(and their myspace)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Love and Rockets: "Inside the Outside"

The blog world seems to be going crazy over Oneida these past few weeks. Oneida seem to be the "I Am Legion" of bands - mixing thick all sorts of weird influences from all around the place out their huge gaping maw of sound while adding in their own innovations and inspirations - no limits. One band that immediately came to me upon listening to the new record was this band, the trippy post-Bauhaus dance-and-grind outfit that Dan Ash put together in the '80s. Take a listen to "Up With People" and then "Inside the Outside" - the flipside (and seemingly more un-dated cut) from the "Ball of Confusion" 12." L&R are sometimes put down as a formulaic band but they, like Oneida, weren't afraid to add odd things in the mix - however, they rarely broke outside their genre.

"Inside the Outside" - Love and Rockets

Buy: Sorted! Best of Love and Rockets
"Ball of Confusion" from Musicstack


Friday, July 14, 2006

All I Want Is My Mamma - God Bullies

From the reigning boy band of the late '80s, back when they graced the covers of Tiger Beat and Sassy centerfolds, comes this melodic and dance floor friendly swinging hit. On the Top 40 charts for weeks in that glorious summer of morning again in America 1987, "All I Want Is My Mamma" was eventually toppled by that soulful boy duo Happy Flowers' "Mom, I Gave The Cat Some Acid."

In his later solo years, teen idol Mike Hard would look back on these formative time of God Bullies and defend their snippy guitar pop stylings, even coining a new term for it -- "dirty pop." I contacted Mike last week in his home in L.A. but he says he's had it the press and he's just gonna "keep on keeping it real" and continue to produce his brand of hip-hopping sweet pop. He says it's all about keeping the "girlies movin'".

(This is all a lie - God Bullies were teen idols only in some far, forgotten corner of a Hell populated by suicided overweight teenagers and masochistic pygmies).

"All I Want Is My Mamma" - God Bullies

also on this single, "Sex Power Money"...

In Other Teen Idol Blogs:
  • God Bully's later and lesser work preserved for your iPod here
  • More Bully Bubble Gum at Strange Reaction

Tom Hazelmeyer on his young charges:

TB: Were the God Bullies as whacked out in real-life as they were on record? Did the act extend beyond the stage or was it not even an act?
Haze: No, they were definitely a collection of miscreants and oddballs. It definitely wasn’t a case of putting a burning bible out on your bare chest during the set, then go to your day job as an accountant right after. Mike Hard is all you see on stage all the time, ha-ha.

THRALL has only 349 friends on myspace! What a cruel world!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lyres: "She Pays The Rent"

Lyres were a Boston band I guess I never really totally fell for. Sure, I remember their live show as being pretty good (well, at times, jaw-dropping and fist in the air pounding) but for the most part you could pigeon-hole them into what was then their own unique category -- 60's Brit Invasion / Garage Rock revivalists and at the time (mid-80s) and it just wasn't what I was into (and yes, I was just a mindless sheep like everyone else, still am).

But I got this record for one song that I think I first heard at a Nomads show.

Perhaps "Help You Ann" was their most popular of the "revival" songs they did. Eh. This college radio station MP3 blog recently offered that song (and other garage revivalism rock) in case you want to sample. But occasionally, things would come together for them (or more importantly their lead man - Jeff Conolly (a.k.a. "Mono Man", ex-DMZ) - the rest of the line-up being, ah, fluid in its composition) - and he'd transcend and integrate his record collection into something verily original. And with "She Pays The Rent", the reasonable observer would observe that this seemed to be the case. The song belongs on every self-aware, with-it person's top 100 rock songs of all time, that is, if one kept such lists (and some do).

But I kept on watching and sampling their follow-up records and never found the same rush that this song gives me. Lyrics-wise, of course, it's a cool commentary on typical rocker slacker lifestyle and music-wise, it's got a great groove both between sections and within sections (the progression between lyrics in the chorus) not to mention that riff right before the verse. Recording wise, it could probably be better but the instruments (organ, guitar, bass, drums) seem perfectly astrally balanced for once.

Of the other songs on the 12", "Someone Who'll Treat You Right Now" has a sort of Graham Parker - Elvis Costello feel and is catchy enough for multiple spins and Conolly is singing his ass off but I dunno... alas, alas, the flip side ("You've Been Wrong") sounds like moldy old dog meat being slapped to the accompaniment of a worn-out organ.

If only he coulda kept that headspace a-going that Mono Man seemed to have with "Rent" ....... others seemed to recognized it, The (aforementioned) Nomads did a reverb drenched cover of the song (and obviously included it in their live sets) and the Chesterfield Kings also covered it (I won't mention the La Donnas). At any rate, Lyres have enough friends/fans in high place (kaffCosloykaff) that their major CDs seem to stay in print (including a reissue that has this 12") and iTunes has this song (sounds better than my rip, at least) and several other Lyres and Ace of Hearts releases in case this strikes your fancy and you want to hear more.

"She Pays The Rent" from 1985 Ace of Hearts Records 3-song 12"

Band lineup:
  • Jeff Conolly - vox, organ
  • danny McCormack - guitar
  • Paul Murphy - drums
  • Rick Coraccio - Bass, backing vox

Lyres Discography and source of 12" photo above

Bonus Links: