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Music Reviews

Trouble Seekers, The – “The Trouble Seekers” – [Ruined Records]

Brian Damage   11/20/2022   12-inch, A Library

The Trouble Seekers is a brand-new collaboration between Kevin McGovern (The Prostitutes) and Hillary Burton (The Pandoras), and it’s every bit as raucous and noisy as a rock ‘n roll record should be.

If your sketchy second cousins (you remember them, right? the chain-smokers from Ohio who drive a beat-up Buick Wildcat and will eventually end up featured on America’s Most Wanted?) show up uninvited and unannounced at Thanksgiving dinner with a half-empty handle of Gilbey’s to offer, claim that they have a band, and proceed to dig a battered C90 out of the back seat to prove it – The Trouble Seekers is that record.

Heavy doses of early rock ‘n roll, first-wave synth punk, and post-punk noise combine to make a relentless sonic assault. There are no slow songs here. There are no slow moments here. The beatings begin within a few seconds of the opening song, “Cool Liar” and don’t let up in the ensuing 37 minutes. The real surprise is that these are actual songs with structure, melody, and hooks. There are two touchstones buried in here to allow you to gasp for breath: covers of Cheap Trick‘s “He’s A Whore” and Madonna‘s “Borderline,” both of which make convenient points of entry for the uninitiated.

This is a pop record buried in a barrel of rattlesnakes and razor blades.

HIGHLY recommended.

Connors, Loren, and Carter, Daniel – “The Departing of a Dream Vol. VII” – [Family Vineyard]

Brian Damage   11/18/2022   12-inch, Jazz

A dark, atmospheric release from two of those New York avante-garde cats, Loren Connors (guitar) and Daniel Carter (horns, reeds).

It’s two 15-minute soundscapes; the soundtrack to being trapped in a huge, dark cave. There is music out there, somewhere. You can hear it, but you can’t precisely locate it. Is it meant to reassure, or menace?

It’s either the soundtrack to a dream, or a nightmare.

Osbourne, Johnny, and the Sensations – “Come Back Darling” – [Sunspot Records, Ltd.]

Brian Damage   11/18/2022   12-inch, Reggae

I’m surprised that this classic 1969 Reggae outing from Johnny Osbourne and the Sensations wasn’t already in our library, but I am delighted to be able to add it now.

Legendary producer Winston Riley had previously worked with Osbourne’s teenage band, the Wild Cats, then signed Johnny and the band (now named The Sensations) for his new ‘Techniques’ label. Riley and Osbourne contributed a half-dozen tunes each to the record, and brought in some smoking session musicians such as Johnny Organ to fill out the Sensations’ sound.

This has the classic Treasure Isle Studios tape-saturated sound of the era; the songs, regardless of lyrical content, wrap around you like a warm hug. Simply stated, it’s one of the definitive records of the ’69-’71 era.

Highly recommended.

Jenkins, Cassandra – “Ramble (Morning & Night, 2021), The” – [Ba Da Bing!]

cinder   11/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Cassandra expands on a track from her release ‘An Overview On Phenomenal Nature’ and creates two side-long ambient pieces, full of wonder and magic. She’s a sax player, so there’s gentleness that flows in and out from the brass. Twittering birds, that when wearing headphones really makes you feel like they’re right next to you, goosebumps! Trickling piano. Field recordings from Central Park (nyc) and the woods in upstate NY. Side B is more tranquility, this time in the comfort of crickets.

Tutti, Cosey Fanni – “Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and The Legendary Tapes” – [Conspiracy International]

cinder   11/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Delia Derbyshire: The Myths & The Legendary Tapes is a ‘conceptual and atmospheric journey into the legacy and character of electronic music composer/sound pioneer Delia Derbyshire’. The film was written and directed by Caroline Catz, who also stars in the film. Soundtrack from the great Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle, Chris & Cosey). Music is performed by Cosey, as well as Delia’s own creations which were constructed from samples chosen from Delia’s posthumously discovered “Attic Tapes”. It’s pure science fiction bliss. Synths and tape manipulations and knobs and twiddles. She was the composer of the excellent Dr. Who theme, and did extensive work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and those intergalactic sounds follow through on this. More exploratory than song in nature, you might accidentally dial an alien spaceship while playing this on the airwaves.

Meat Wave – “Malign Hex” – [Swami]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Seething dark post-punk

Mid to up-tempo rock and roll with a proliferation of very catchy downstroked riffs and a pessimistic if not confrontational stance. I hear Hot Snakes, The Fall, perhaps a slightly darker Franz Ferdinand or a more aggressive, less apathetic The Strokes. A full sounding three-piece with huge hooks.Engaging and energetic with some gentler passages (B2 “Waveless”) that add contrast and depth as well as the near title track “Malign” (B5) which is a beautiful down-tempo and subtle ear-worm that works nicely for us though “Jim’s Teeth” (B4) is perhaps the strongest offering lyrically, compositionally, and in delivery. A tight and focused album, Malign Hex gains favor and builds resonance from repeated listens.

Three-piece from Michigan, Chris Sutter (guitar, vocals), Joe Gac (bass), and Ryan Wizniak (drums).

Chicago – 2022

Off! – “Free LSD” – [Fat Possum Records]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Angry hippy loses control of his hardcore punk band (and perhaps his sanity) while continuing a life-long insurrection against oppressive capatilist war-mongering regimes and on this first release in eight years, extraterrestrials… and it fucking works. 

A strong pivot from this new release from OFF! that while employing several new elements, themes, and instrumentation while retaining a hardcore punk ethos and structure. Sounds a little like Circle Jerks colluding with a swollen, up-tempo Godspeed You Black Emperor with trem-picked heavily effect laden guitar in short form psychedelic fueled declarations against quietude. 

OFF! is Keith Morris/vox (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Flag), Dimitri Coats/guitar & electronics (ex-Burning Brides), Autry Fulbright II/bass(…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead), drummer Justin Brown (Thundercat, Herbie Hancock), John Wahl-saxophone (Claw Hammer). Long-time punk rock art icon, Raymond Pettibon contributes the art as per usual but in a shocking twist, employs a spray of soft color; a thumbing of the nose at well heeled conventions that mirror and complement the songs on this recording that explores metal, psychedelia, and jazz in, and around, the hardcore punk template. The packaging is just as far afield from what was called “hardcore punk” at one time, eschewing DIY ethos and aesthetic to embrace rock and roll excess and deserves a little attention, what is going on with the strange tactile printing on the interior of the gatefold? Does it glow? What happens if you lick it? Will the alien robot take over your mind? How much did this gatefold cost to print?! And lastly, the liner notes are printed on perforated white blotter paper that actually gave us a physical rush when we pulled it out, reminding us of our former days when we might have explored synaptic distortion with a lysergic irrigation of the cerebellum as we fell deep… into our developing degenerate punk rock minds. I like it though, unconventional and acerbic with a salient theme that is carried throughout the LP. The language of the genre continues to evolve, absorbing new vocabulary and phrasing while being inextricably tied to one of the last surviving roots of 20th century Southern California hardcore punk.

Los Angeles – October 2022

Rider / Horse – “Feed ‘Em Salt” – [Ever / Never]

whngr   11/16/2022   12-inch, A Library

Woozy Post Gloom

Driving-droning rock that disturbs the equilibrium with meandering, slightly off-kilter lap steel, ethereal electronics, rock n’ roll drums, insistent bass lines, and mildly rabid, often reverberating death rock vocals from this two-piece from upstate New York. Rider/Horse deliver a fairly unique and often dissonant sound that includes many disparate layers with relatively traditional structure and drumming but almost every other aspect sounds alien and mildly uncomfortable. Strange but not alarming, “Feed ‘Em Salt” is the second full length from the duo of:

Cory Plump, guitar/vox (Spray Paint, Protomartyr) and Chris Turco, drums (Assembly Of Devices, Geezer) out of:

Kingston, NY – 2022

Religious War – “Reigning Chaos – Discography” – [Puke N Vomit Records]

beastofbourbon   11/15/2022   12-inch, A Library

Religious War was a hardcore punk band from Portland, OR that formed in 1996 and disbanded in 2003. This compilation released in 2022 features the two 7” EPs and 12” vinyl records they released during their time. The songs are heavy, fast and brutal with a metal tinge in the classic Anarcho-punk “D-Beat” style made famous by iconic UK punk band Discharge. The cover art and anarchist lyrical content that strike against government, societal ills, and war show this influence as well. It’s an ideal soundtrack for our time. 

Tracks 1-8 ‘Cracked System’ 12″ -2003

Tracks 9-11 ‘s/t’ EP – 1998

Tracks 12-14 ‘Asylum’ EP – 2001

Beast of Bourbon

Antilles Mechant Bateau [coll] – [Born Bad Records]

aarbor   11/15/2022   12-inch, International

Afro-Caribbean roots music from the 1960s in the French West Indies. Mechant Bateau means bad or wicked boat – this refers to the slave ships that brought so many people from Africa to the West Indies.

Gwo Ka is a drum made of old salting or wine barrels which is at the center of this music and has been revived by recent generations to pay tribute to their ancestors’ suffering. The “ka” once creolized, was a powerful symbol of resistance since the colonial era. Blues and Ka represent the same battle – centuries of oppression. Jazz gives it an emancipating energy and sense of humor from established formats. It borrows from the “latin” rhythms of neighboring islands, and includes beguines with percussion-spiced tempos. There are also laid-back – but dark – ballads all sung in Creole (the French of the African descendants). This compilation takes us back to the early days of a movement of rebirth synonymous with recognition of heritage. It is the sound of identity for the descendants of the African slaves. Recognition of their identity and heritage in which all the musics from the Black Atlantic diaspora naturally intertwine. Reminding us that an original culture emerged from the holds of these ‘wicked boats’. AArbor

Black Flower – “Ghost Radio” – [Zephyrus Records]

aarbor   11/15/2022   12-inch, International

Black Flower is a 5-piece outfit from Belgium led by saxophonist / flutist Nathan Daems, which mixes Ethio jazz with afrobeat and dub. In 2016 the band was between album releases and decided to go into the studio for two days. They wanted to record unorchestrated and unrehearsed material – spontaneous compositions and new sounds that had been emerging from their improvisations at live shows. The result is Ethio jazz as I’ve never heard it before: moodier, gentler, spookier, more airy – and fabulous. Don’t miss! One of my favorites this year. AArbor

Twinkle Brothers, The – “Dub Massacre Part 4” – [Twinkle]

Brian Damage   11/14/2022   12-inch, Reggae

Subtitled “The Killing Zone” – this record is a compilation of rhythm tracks from three Twinkle Brothers (Norman and Ralston Grant, and friends) records released in the late 80s. This particular record is from 1989.

The dub I grew up on as a teenager was Mikey Dread, King Tubby, Scientist, etc., so for me, the weirder and deeper the dub, the better. The Brothers’ previous Dub Massacre records rate very highly with me, so I had elevated expectations for Part 4.

This installment is not so much a dub massacre, as a dub skirmish. Or a dub trip to the emergency room for some stitches.

The Twinkle Brothers get it done, for the most part, but they have a pretty high bar to clear, and their heavy reliance on what was cutting-edge instrumentation in the 80s sounds a bit dated now. The keys are really front and center on these tracks, and the synths of that time don’t take the place of actual horns and organ, so as I’m listening, I’m hearing the missing pieces. And the studio experimentation doesn’t go nearly as far as their previous releases. Having said that, any Twinkle Brothers release is going to kick it over on most other dub records, so any criticism on my part is really the Brothers competing with themselves. Side Two is more successful than the first side to my ears. Your mileage may vary.

Nevertheless, Dub Massacre Part 4 is a solid and essential release that belongs in any dub enthusiast’s collection.

Javelosa, David “Microwave” – “Atomic Odyssey” – [Hyperspace Communications]

cinder   11/10/2022   12-inch, A Library

Wow, this is the ultimate space age bachelor pad fantasy music! Magical, intergalactic synth fueled lounge electronica from the year 3032 (ok, 1998…) All instrumental & groovy as hell. Definitely turn on that lava lamp, and throw down some shag rugs. Mitch Lemay might have a spare leisure suit or 2? Perfect little tracks to add a little sparkly sunshine to your playlist. Bartender, cosmo please!      

Javelosa apparently also has publications and teachings on topics such as production for Video and Computer Games, Game Industry Analysis & Producing Music for Interactive games.

Dodge Jones Rage – “West Coast Power Outage II” – [Charnel Music]

cinder   11/10/2022   12-inch, A Library

Pandemic-driven experimental-noise-audio collaboration started in 2021 from the trio of Chris Dodge (Spazz), Mason Jones (Subarachnoid Space, Collision Stories, Numinous Eye) & William Rage (Blue Sabbath Black Cheer, At Jennie Richie, New Blockaders, irr.app.(ext.) – last names make the project. It’s power electronics pushed to the max. Turn ’em all on at once, slowly turn the knobs, scream a distorted moan and blast your fucking ears off. Not a complete white wall wash, there’s hidden undertones of sanity. Sizzled & churned, burnt to a crisp. Delicious. 

Lord Diabolus, The – “Down There…” – [Dark Descent Records]

whngr   11/10/2022   12-inch, A Library

Evil.

Low fidelity black/death metal/grind with heretical samples, guttural vocals, and electronic atmosphere on this single sided LP.

The Lord Diabolus was an alias of Finland’s, Beherit while in legal purgatory with their label (Turbo Music) at the time of this recording and were an early 2nd wave project of Marko Laiho/”Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance” (guitar, vocals, keyboards, and programming), Jari Pirinen/”Sodomatic Slaughter” (drums), and Arjo Wennström/”Black Jesus” (bass) who had left the band prior to this recording, from the very northern climes of Lapland that, in the frozen depths of winter, will receive only three hours of sunlight… a month. Cold and bleak is the terrain; dark and miserable are the sounds of, “Down There…” Beherit would become a notable and formative scion in the esteemed legacy of Scandinavian Black Metal especially known for their use of electronics atmosphere and samples; a practice that was considered avantgarde, less brutal, less raw, and perhaps more feminine, something that was (and to many, still is) viewed with derision. Laiho seemed unfazed by the opinions of sheep and would go on to focus on electronic dark ambient before moving to Thailand to dabble in techno. In 2008 he would return to Finland and reform Beherit with Pirinen, susequently releasing 3 more albums. In their early days they, along with other Finnish metalers including Mika Luttinen of Impaled Nazarene, would become embroiled in an intense feud with the Norwegian Black Metal scene that would be known as the “Dark War” (a slightly tongue and cheek and juvenile designation that would not rival the genuine and lasting animosity between the Norwegian and French scenes) and were notorious for their early live performances which included the heads of pigs and goats upon the stage which would help them amass a dedicated cvlt following.

Rovaniemi, Finland – 1991

Lunsford, Kilynn – “Custodians of Human Succession” – [Ever / Never]

whngr   11/10/2022   12-inch, A Library

Aggressively weird pop from the outer, slightly more tenable, rings of Hades.

Discordant and jarring songs that are structured fairly traditionally though every other aspect of these recordings sound unique and nearly without influence. This, of course, is not the case (she states on the Ever / Never bndcmp page that she has had a “…life-long appreciation of Diamanda Galas”) but like a lot of the music produced during the world’s recent forced sequestration, Reality Testing feels unmitigatedly personal. Like a sonic sketchbook or an aural diary found in a young woman’s boudoir after her admission to the hospital, these whimsical and slightly brooding tracks feel polished through considerable tweaking in post. Unruly and arty, smoky jazz piano, funky bass, surreal and disjointed, reverse tracking, delay, petulant and idiosyncratic spoken/yelled lyrics, dada, saxophone, bubbling synthesizers degrade… and then self destruct, kinda kute, ultra-strange stream of consciousness musings from a clearly sound obsessed minstrel of her own mental apocalypse.

Kilynn Lunsford (Taiwan Housing Project, Little Claw, Black Egg, The Dark Places) originally of West Philadelphia, presently residing in New York by way of the PNW. A detailed and slightly voluble account of her perspective and processes is available on the aforementioned b.c. page.

New York – Nov. 2022 

Heliocentrics, The – “Sunshine Makers, The” – [Soundway Records]

aarbor   11/9/2022   12-inch, Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack to a 2015 documentary about Nicholas Sand and Tim Scully early LSD evangelists who made ‘Orange Sunshine’ for many years – while it was legal and while it wasn’t; with original music by the Heliocentrics. According to Sand and Scully, their mission was to “change the consciousness of the world in a positive way.” I watched the movie and discovered that the Heliocentrics’ music was only a part of the soundtrack. It blended nicely into the background, the more prominent sung tracks were more noticeable. Listening to it by itself (without the movie) gives it center stage – which it deserves. AArbor

Gentle Cycle, The – “Landslide Eyes” – [300mics]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

The description “psych” tends to get tossed around a lot, and more often than not, it’s applied to some dudes with marginal skills that got high in their cousin’s living room and noticed that there was a cheapo Strat copy and a practice amp in the corner.

This is definitely not the case with The Gentle Cycle. Co-founder Derek See has lived the psychedelic music lifestyle for decades – perhaps his whole life. For Derek, every day is Labor Day weekend of 1968. Derek is not only a session musician, but is also a member of The Chocolate Watchband, The Rain Parade, and the Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500) band, and formerly was a member of The Careless Hearts and helmed The Bang! Girl Group Revue.

Landslide Eyes is the second LP from The Gentle Cycle, and evokes the feeling of a late-summer evening in Los Angeles in the late 60s. There’s definitely a peace, love, and happiness vibe going on throughout, with some Byrds, later Monkees, Pet Sounds, and Buffalo Springfield influences. The Gentle Cycle would not have been out of place at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, but they’re definitely not a slavish cover or novelty band. There’s a real love, authenticity, and songcraft here that can only come from the osmosis one gets from full immersion in the music and the scene for decades.

The record does get gradually harder and darker as it progresses, culminating in the harder acid psych of tracks 13 and 14, “Eyes Landslide,” and “Mercury Twins.” All the tracks are killers, but particular standouts are “Like December Is Bold,” “Ivy,” “Landslide Eyes,” and “Let Me Look At The Sun.”

Highly recommended.

Coz The Shroom – “Bum Henry Adams and Craig Stewart’s Prince” – [SPASMS Cassettes / Emperor Jones]

Brian Damage   11/7/2022   12-inch, A Library

Coz the Shroom is the nom de tune of Shahrom Hawley, a singer/songwriter who was part of Austin’s Cassette Underground culture in the 1980s and early 90s. Owner of a microphone, an electric guitar, and a practice amp with its distortion knob permanently cranked to 10, Coz wrote, improvised, and recorded a seemingly endless stream of music in the mid- to late-80s.

He was a contemporary of Daniel Johnston – but Daniel skimmed the edge of the mainstream, and Coz didn’t. Local cassette labels SPASMS and Emperor Jones each issued several Coz releases in the 80s, but Coz seemed to be more prolific than these labels’ ability to get them out. Each release was put out on a C-90 tape (47 minutes per side) and Coz would fill the A side, and the B side was left blank for whatever the purchaser wanted to put on there.

This is a compilation on vinyl from six of Coz’s releases from 1987-89, supposedly cleaned up and mastered for this reissue. I say supposedly, because the quality is ultra lo-fi, likely never great to begin with, and degraded by time and duplication.

The music is classic 80s cassette underground weirdo – one listen, and either you will get it or you won’t. This being KFJC, this is very likely right up your alley. As far as individual tunes go, the titles give the content away — no obtuse titles here. If you choose “Destroy All Monsters,” that song is going to sound exactly like you think it would.

And the name? He wanted “a cool nickname like Captain Beefheart,” so he gave himself one.

A future KFJC Klassic.

Ekin Fil – “Dora Agora” – [Helen Scarsdale Agency]

whngr   11/3/2022   12-inch, A Library

Quiet, drifting, chords sustain a somber rhythm, distant and personal… with echoes. 

Floating on gentle waves, veins filled with opium, every note a caress of the eardrum, a whisper on the neck, every change soft and welcome. A siren song for the sleeping hero. The album begins with an instrumental track, stabbing sadly at single notes on her keyboard before the first dulcet chord swells into being. On the next track meandering keys bloom as gentle, non-lexical vocalizations begin to weave like a spirit through a somber afternoon in the living room overlooking a windswept beach before the more structured and haunting lullabies coalesce (track 3 “ghost boy”) Simple repetitive strums of acoustic guitar provide structure as lilting atmospheric textures sail by… Heavy eyelids fall, we abandon consciousness, and slip into a purring netherworld of beautiful loss.

Ekin Fil returns to the acoustic guitar of her debut album on a soaring journey through the billowing dreams of slumbering giants. At times a distant memory might float into our awareness or perhaps a forgotten song from childhood… Do I know this song… why don’t I remember the chorus? Do I know this language? Does it matter? Does anything matter? I hear stripped down Beach House, Grouper with vaporous hooks. Mother whispers her vow of unconditional love as doctor takes the pain away.

Ekin Fil is one Ekin Üzeltüzenci, a Turkish multi-instrumentalist who performed vocals and keyboards in the post/-/punk synth/-/rock project Proudpilot (probably defunct but soon to be entering our library). Üzeltüzenci scored the 2017 films Kaygi (Inflame) and Körfez (Gulf), as well as Hayaletler (Ghost) in 2020, is one of my favorite discoveries as yet through kfjc, and is otherwise cloaked in mystery.

Istanbul – October 7, 2022

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