A super group of sorts containing 1990s LA punk rock superstars Kieth Morris (Black Flag/ Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (earthless, hot snakes). These are short blasts of concentrated high energy, each like a noisy little assault. The music is fast and concise, coming at you all raw and moderately produced-like. Here is some good ol mosh pit inducing punk rock, delivered straight to you from a bunch of angry old dudes. This will sound super original and totally fresh if you have never ever heard a punk rock record in your short and miserable life. -Surfer Rosa
Here is a collaboration between Boston’s Sharpwaist and Concord’s Striations. Included here are some harsh, thoroughly fucked up sounds. This recording is based on the life and crimes of Boston University medical student and alleged craigslist killer, Phillip Markoff. He was charged with armed robbery and the murder of Julissa Brisman. This was apparently spawned by his fiance leaving him. Markoff committed suicide in custody while awaiting trial. Before offing himself, he wrote his former fiance’s name ‘Megan’ and ‘Pocket’ (former pet name) on the walls of his cell in blood and placed Megan’s photographs around the room. So there is the inspiration, now expect to hear some warped, abrasive noise riddled with vocal samples of news stories covering the scandal. Many of the samples are disturbingly descriptive (try #1 for the story or #2 for a terrible description of Markoff’s suicide mechanism) though often times the voices are indecipherable. Paired along with this is some buzz-saw, industrial abrasion, some general dark, ominous ambiance and a whole lot of creepy. This is a limited edition of 100. Absolutely warped. -Surfer Rosa
Daughters have been active since around 2002 and this self titled album (2010) looks like it will forever remain their most recent release. Wipe those tears away, these guys went out with a bang, and apparently this was a good place to stop, as singer Alexis Marshall has been quoted saying that this cd “Airs on the side of the suspiciously commercial”. This album has a much more heavily produced, polished,accessible sort of sound compared to their earlier stuff. Its not quite as raw, lo-fi and generally out there. The electronics here, while by no means dominating, are also certainly more prominent than before. But that being said, what you have here is a solid piece of angular, spastic noise rock with metal tendencies. Occasionally mathy, always heavy and saturated with distortion, rumble and drive. Marshall’s vocals have this great sort of drawl to them, he almost sounds like a super angry redneck. The music here remains jagged and energetic. Perhaps not quite as dirty, but still fully awesome. This will make you speed on the freeway. -Surfer Rosa
Alkibar Gignor (pronounced JIN-YOR) are a soulful group out of Mali, playing what the liner notes call garage rock, but what I would pin as something closer to folk, which isn’t to say that this doesn’t rock. This is a co-released record put out by Mississippi and Sahelsounds, recorded on location in Mali 2011. A local favorite, these guys load up their donkey carts with instruments, amplifiers and a generator and tour the nearby farming villages, working their instruments beneath the stars. The music here has an easy going, funky jam sort of feel. Its pretty simple, that is to say not very busy, with a slight muddy charm in recording quality which fuzzes out every once in a while when things get loud. Really great interplay and conversational instrumentation here. And this music truly is full of soul, you can almost see these guys jamming out when you spin the record. A5 and B2 are lovely, solo guitar instrumentals. B4 is a funky instro-jam. Drop the needle anywhere and kick back. -Surfer Rosa
A sampler featuring artists participating in this years (2012) Outsound New Music Summit concentrating on innovative, independent performers from California and beyond. Here you will find the sounds of bowed strings, brass and woodwinds, electronic tones and ethereal drones. Many of these pieces are improvised, all of them experimental. They vary from spoken word and other human sounds to spacious soundscapes, sparse musings or musical noise. There is something here for all ears, as the sounds on this cd are quite varied. Many of these performances are live. Try one of the first three tracks if you are a fan of words. Tracks toward the end are a bit more ‘musical’. Track 14 does not exist. Awesome all around. – Surfer Rosa
Love Earth Music delivers some more warped music, this time courtesy of Consious Summary, a one man project out of LA. This music teeters on the fringe of loveliness and horror. Like the most beautiful, pleasant nightmare you’ve ever had. This is harsh noise melded with playful, acoustic, far away sounds. Lo-fi vocal sounds bend and echo in a dream of melodies and oscillations. Don’t get too comfortable because these lovely, freak folk type sounds will warp in and out of all that is gritty and abrasive. Riddled with playful, storybook synth sounds interrupted by possessed, demented noises. Whimsical in the sickest sort of way. This indecisive record will leave you not knowing whether you should giggle and smile or recoil in fear. Beautiful and terrible all at once. -Surfer Rosa
A 7” split released on Portland Oregon based “feminist record label” Punk Start My Heart, containing a short sampling of live material recorded by two local Portland bands.
Fucking Lesbian Bitches are a duo of angry ladies playing guitar and drums in the angular, slo-tempo, punk-metal sort of fashion. This has heavy echoes of grunge…Portland is not in Washington ladies..Track one has an operatic moment. Track two has some nice screeching on it. Driving beats and kicking rhythms. These pissed off lesbians totally rock.
NO/HO/MO is (and I quote here) “queercore/ synthpunk seeking to expose the absurdity of homophobic phrases”. I don’t know how much exposition is going on here, but I can certainly get behind the synthpunk. These tracks are super short, assymetrical, sporadic pieces riddled with all sorts of helter skelter dirty synth sounds. Like some really great music at a terrible dance party populated by pale white boys who don’t know their left from from their right. If that doesn’t get you excited then fuck off and go suck a dick. Track 4 is the only one with vocals, and it is not FCC friendly.
Dig in. -Surfer Rosa
This twisted trio out of Chicago deliver some hard and dirty noise punk covered in a thick layer of gritty grime. Distant, distorto-vocals leak through a wall of guitar fuzz and the relentless drawl of a drummer which does not seem to tire and always keeps the beat. These tracks are like short, demented assaults. Quick and to the point. Like being stabbed in the ear with a toothpick, but just for a second, and it feels kind of nice. Where is the mosh pit? This is going to make you wiggle. Its dense with abrasion, embracing the harsh nature of noise and the high energy tendencies of punk. Segues on this record are super quick. Take an eye off the grooves and you are guaranteed to miss the transition. I suggest letting the record spin and playing a couple tracks side by side. ??Inside the sleeve you will also find a one sided, orange colored flexi-disc B side. Yes, this floppy piece of plastic plays, containing a little under 3 minutes (at 45rpm) of warped and warbly, dirty-ass noise riffage. Go ahead and throw it on if you feel brave, but don’t be shocked if it craps out on you. Good luck! -Surfer Rosa
Koi Pond is a three piece of psych rock shroomy jammers from NYC. The record you hold in your hand is a limited pressing of only 300, which comes in one of the most beautiful silk screened record sleeves are you likely to lay your hands on. Go ahead, stop reading the review and take a look at the artwork attached to this record. This should give you a pretty good idea of what you will be getting into when you drop the needle on this artfully crafted piece of vinyl meditation. These tracks are grown from a thick forest of sound which pulsates, decays, engulfs and envelopes. These are dense, black hole improv jams from far out in space, which help the label Sonic Meditations live up to its name. The sounds here echo of kaut rock and perpetuate any psychedelic inclinations you may or may not have. This record is full of musical meanderings to itch your scratch for sonic exploration.
Side A is a massive joyride which kicks off with the hum of a synth that builds and resonates for about three minutes before the drums kick in and the jam drops. As the bass line holds the groove, the synthesizer bubbles, oscillates and tickles all your happy buttons. Like a 20 minute cruise on a spaceship orbiting venus. Side B consists of shorter tracks, which almost play like a side long. This is where you will find the face-melters. The introduction brings things in with some warped samplage which loops, skips and distorts before descending into massive jam. This whole side contains throbbing, fuzzed out, epic, improvised, carlton melton-bardo pond- style riffage. Complete with a healthy dose of schizophrenic guitar solo and all kinds of heavy. There is no going wrong here. Drop the needle anywhere and give in to these ear bending daydreams. -Surfer Rosa
This is a sonic assault of the jagged variety. Signed on Weasle Walter’s Ug Explode record label, these guys bring home the noise with a healthy dose of dirt. Here is some high energy, super angular, mathy-noise-punk-metal. The Microwaves sound like the love child of Don Cab and Shellac. Raw abrasion and generally indecipherable vocals delivered with punk rock sensibilities, stacked beneath all kinds of heavy. Gritty guitar riffage is paired with the perfect proportion of nasty electronics and oscillations, fuzzy sounds from beyond, odd meter, straight noise and sporadic chaos to make you bang your head, but not in time. This is like wrestling with a really well coordinated bear. In other words, fully awesome and slightly painful. -Surfer Rosa
Here is music to make you breath slower. These are the solo, electric guitar musings of Steven R. Smith, a multi-instrumentalist and print maker often associated with the Jewelled Antler collective as well as Thuja. Hala Strana, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Markour and Mirza. This is a limited pressing of 500 released, on Smith’s Label Wrostward Recordings. Smith uses only an electric guitar, two overdrive pedals and an amp to deliver these sparse, organic pieces which are both improvised and composed. The sounds here are lonesome, buried within a milky haze of melancholic fog. They are melodic daydreams which shimmer and crackle along side the moaning hum of reverberating sedation. Subtly warped, oddly ethereal, fully divine. -Surfer Rosa
Tornoto emcee Fraction teams up with Ontario producer Fresh Kils to form the two’s first collaboration. The beats flow with an itch and a scratch. The rhymes are tight, delivering tales, philosophies and prophecies. Samplage is heavy, with a hats off to that old soul library, amongst others. The art of cut and paste still lives! The production here is artful, clever, never dull and always original. FCC on tracks 2, 3 and 8. -Surfer Rosa
The Koto is an ancient classical Japanese instrument which dates back to possibly before the 8th century, though koto music became well established around the 16th century. Playing the Koto well is a respectable accomplishment that enhances the marital prospects of well-bred Japanese girls (that is a quote! read the liner notes) This instrument typically has 13 strings, sometimes 17 or 18 and is usually 6 feet or longer. The Koto is plucked. It sounds almost like a cross between some sort of lute and harp. Other instruments featured here are the Shamisen, a bowed string instrument elemental to the kabuki music sound, and the Shakuhachi, a bamboo flute which doubled as a weapon for masterless samurai who were forbidden to carry weapons. The musicianship here echoes of mastery. Stunning melodies and counter-melodies of plucked and bowed strings, intertwining with one another and forming a daydream of the Japanese countryside. The nimble fingers of these musicians produce the tremolo pick and haunting yet delicate tones. Sounds of the orient intrigue your ears with the non western sense of rhythm and scale. Side A is one long piece which goes through many movements, heavy dynamics and variations in intensity. Like an old folk tale never meant for words. Side B contains two shorter pieces with stringwork to set you besides yourself. Quite stunning. -Surfer Rosa
Angular,arithmetic tendencies from duo Phillip Freedenberg on guitar/bass and Cameron Rogers on drums (this guy holds the fort down), out of Buffalo New York. With only two musicians, this music holds a surprisingly manageable yet always intriguing quality of sound, which never ceases to demand attentiveness. This is math rock with the expected math rock style ADD. That is, odd time signatures, constant changes in meter, syncopation, stop and start rhythms and of course, fully instrumental (with the exception of a few brief vocal samples). This airs on the more tangible side of the math rock spectrum. It sounds calculated and composed as opposed to improvised, and never really gets too sporadic or abrasive. The music here is quite linear and relatively cohesive, or rather just cohesive enough. Pleasing, yet still intriguing, with harmonic combinations just abnormal enough to make you tilt your head. These tracks are like little melodic day dreams, spinning and floating and getting a bit out there at times. This sounds like it could be the sound track to super super mario on even more drugs..not to say that its terribly psychedelic, but give it a spin and you’ll see what I mean. -Surfer Rosa
Utech Records, Kingdom of Drone, brings us some delightful drawl courtesy of Suzuki Junzo. Layers of ethereal guitar drone meditation for daaaays. Track #1 kicks in with the sparse, shimmering repetition of a short melodic phrase, looping and leeching itself into your brain as the elements begin to slowly stack up creating a tower of sounds. An escalating blizzard of guitar noise which only gets thicker, foggier and more grating as the minutes click by for about 20 minutes. This piece starts of pleasant and ends with the claws. Track #2 resonates tension contoured by calm. A drone-feedback soundscape. Pretty static compared to some of the other tracks. #2 smoothly segues into track #3, which teases your ache for cohesion with fuzzed out distorto-guitar sounds playing almost yet not quite riffage, which repeats and repeats as it slowly decays and eventually loses the little tangibility it had to begin with, leaving you engulfed in a flurry of noise. Track #4 wraps with a meditative, feeding back, oscillating, clicking, scraping, journey of drone. More similar to #2 in its static tendencies. Let the relentless buzz possess you. -Surfer Rosa
This must be what it feels like to be possessed or have multiple personalities or be diagnosed with really severe ADHD… DJ Female Convict Scorpion uses only a turntable and sampler to concoct this unpredictable potion of beats, blowing horns, clapping hands,fluttering flutes, piano lines, oscillations, feedback and god knows what else. Heavy usage of vocal samples here, whether its people speaking, children caroling or weird, creepy tid bits of somebody singing (most notably found on tracks 4 and 6). These mixes are super stoney and generally demented. At times this sounds like some kind of fucked up orchestra of televisions turned onto different stations blaring out all at once. This eerie stuff pokes, prods and never fails to throw a curveball. Track titles seem to allude to the sort of samplage you’ll be hearing on each piece, so make note. Segues are naturally super clean, this whole album plays like one long, nasty, late night mix. So go ahead and let a few of these tracks track, just as they were meant to. Now who put this lsd in my oatmeal? -Surfer Rosa
Kyle Bruckmann, Oboe player based out of Oakland and former member of the noise outfit Lozenge, brings us the project Wrack, delivering the cohesion and the chaos, with the help of his cacophonous cohorts on viola, bass clarinet and percussion. You have never heard an oboe shred so hard. These are the jagged sounds of intense interplay, walking-running -strolling bass lines, helter skelter time signature and heavy dynamics. These piece are compositions circumscribed in free improv (or is it the other way around?). Asymmetrical musings cook and build, loosen and tighten, ebb, flow and most importantly groove. The musicians here are conversing. Pieces range from sparse and exploratory to dense and complex, airing on the fringe of tight jazz or free noise. The delivery is coming. Dig it. -Surfer Rosa
Noise noise noise punk from the UK released on Skin Graft Records, recorded by Steve Albini and mastered by Weasel Walter. What more could you ask for? Two bassists, guitar, drums and shrieker Akiko Matsuura on vocals. This chick must have the lung capacity of a large sea mammal, because her relentless wails populate the entirety of this brief album, which totals up at 23 minutes. Banshee screams are coupled with the band’s fuzz drenched, repetitive, angular abrasion, driving and saturating the sound with adrenaline soaked dissonance. Pre violates your eardrums, trashes your insides and leaves behind a trail of sweat and blood. Clear FCC on #1, besides that, vocals are indecipherable. – Surfer Rosa
A collaboration between producer Ill Mondo and emcee Neal Rames. Ill Mondo brings the beat home, chopped up and slow cooked like succulent thanksgiving pot roast. He’s definatly been digging his fingers into his old funk and soul collections of the 70s. The samplage here is heavy, abundant and above all artfully executed and skillfully constructed. Its easy to forget that these guys don’t have a full funk band backing them up. Samples also include plenty of out of context sound clips from some obscure old films, and the occasional appearance of a scratching record. Neal Rames delivers the rhyme, right on the groove, hip with the beat, teasing your taste buds with licorice sticks of linguistics. This here is something to bounce to. ??-Surfer Rosa
A three piece from Normandy France, 1968. These guys were young factory workers (two of them brothers) turned long haired hippie psych rockers after having seen the Animals play live in the mid 60s. This experience was apparently so life altering and inspiring, that it moved them to pick up the psychedelic, crunched out, garage rock style we all know and love so well. This record is dripping with wha wha, sticky with fuzz and not lacking in bluesy, string savvy freak outs. Vocals are delivered in both French and English, instrumental tracks (5, 8, 9, 10) jam particularly hard and are among my favorites. If you dig the 60s, this will fix your fix. – Surfer Rosa
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Public Inspection File