Music Reviews

Monkey Power Trio – “Chasing Monsters with Love… ” – [Pochahontas Swamp Machine]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

How does a band keep from getting too good
at their instruments, from losing their
original insurgency, from inundating the
market? Or to put it another way, how do
four high school chums stay in touch? How
about recording once a year? You think you
were wound up and ready to go as front-
toothless 7 year old on Christmas Eve?’
These guys are raring to go and deliver…
hell it probably takes lead singer Mark
Maynard a year to get his voice back.
Solid stupid rawk, with a self-deprecating
anthem in “Run From Fights” Three-chord
songs with a chord to spare. And they’ve
added some squiggly keyboard thing, or
maybe it was on and they couldn’t figure
out how to turn it off. Anyhow it sure
beats high school reunions. -Thurston Hunger

Pekinska Patka – “Demo 1979 ” – [None]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Rockin’ punk anthems, who cares what language
they’re singing in…you’re phonetically forced
to scream along. “Bloodstains Across Yugoslavia”
led us to this high grade blast of retro-Belgrade.
Late 70’s/early 80’s swagger, fueled by some
killer hooks. Despite the locale and time this
is rawk born more of sexual frustration than
political frustration. Still lead vocalist
Nebojsa Conkic-Conta was there when Peking Duck
was peaking. Very thorough liner notes inside,
read ’em and bleed. You go, slavia! -Thuston Hunger

Drums and Tuba – ” ” – [Grey Flat Records]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Drummer Anthony Nozero
Tuba and other brass tactics Brian Wolff
Guitarist Neal McKeeby
A sort of Christmas(?) single from a gifted,
warped band. Drums and Tuba reigning as *the*
swinging rock band of the moment. “Office Pieper”
offers a reverse camera Dragnet episode. A story
is told between blurting bursts, two cops (let’s
change their names to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle
Dumber) try to provoke the innocent. On the flip
a vague version of “Joy to the World” gives pause
then gives way to a spacey tuba-dub wonderland
(with Woolf on overlapped alter-horns as well).
Heavy drums, combustible guitar and a tuba as
powerful and graceful as a tip-toeing linebacker.
-Thurston Hunger

Outhud – “1ST Single O the New Millenium ” – [5 Rue Christine]

Thurston Hunger   5/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Sacramento band, w/ connections to the Tourettes
Totally infectious riff rock for us riff raff,
tapping into the ol’ alligator brain. Programmed
drums snap like crocodile jaws and the guitars
flicker through vibrant, reverb drenched, sort
of No-Wave funk…but sorta something different.
We’ve got their *Natural Selection* 7″ as well,
the recipe is solid. Closer listening turns up
little synth squishes and violin swishes. This
is exceptional instrumental guitar propulsive
pop – with a bright, ringing sound.
Go ape over this! -Thurston Hominid

Lost Sounds/Vanishing [coll] – [Cochon Records]

Max Level   5/28/2006   7-inch, A Library

One would probably tend to lump these two bands together under the heading of GothSynthDeathRock. Lost Sounds brings us two songs about darkness, rotting, and death, with jumpy guitar/keyboard rock ‘n? roll backing, and male and female voices. The Vanishing puts female vocals in front of a bass/drums/synth lineup. A more deliberate feel on this side. The first track is about pale faces, smeared lipstick, and fear, and the second is a creepy, foggy four-minute instrumental. Added to the library on October 2003, just in time for Halloween.

Cigarettes – “Gimme Cigarette ” – [S-S Records]

Thurston Hunger   4/27/2006   7-inch, A Library

An essential reissue of early oddball punked pop but so much
more; the A-side’s opening soaring mellotronic keyboards and
Norse war drumming had me thinking Gabriel-era Genesis, but
then in comes the teeny preeny falsetto vox singing with
accidental javanese tones, and the guitar starts romping.
Lyrics just sort of jut out some spot of the subconcious.

The angst oh, a new-wave staple, is showcased on the B-side
with those piqued and tweaked freaky falsetto vocals,
singing a despair love song. Little Yes keyboard flourishes
sneak into this one. But it’s got a Phil Spector feel too?’
Even odder, it’s got one Philo Cramer before Fear.

It’s as if everyone formed this band thinking, we’re going
to be a glam band or a prog band or or a punk band or a
girl group of boys, certain that they could overpower the
other interests. A tremendous collision that didn’t last
long, but I’m sure glad they re-issued it. Carefree ain’t
careless…this is a gem. -Thurston Hunger

Haiku Review:
When visions collide
Sparks fly, cigarettes ignite
Your ear’s the ashtray

Plastic Crimewave Sound – ” ” – [Captain Spazz]

Max Level   4/23/2006   7-inch, A Library

Loud, crude psychedelia from this Chicago quintet. Layers of heavy, noisy guitars, feedback, and electronics blur together into a pounding acid rock sludge. Bandleader Plastic Crimewave’s spoken/chanted vocals are pretty much buried in the mix for the duration. A1 and B1 are dense two-chord vamps, hypnotically repetitious. B2 has five or six chords, for a nice change of pace, but such involved song structure doesn’t seem to be what this band does best. They do, however, get super extra bonus points for having a guitarist named Cat Chow.

Belastungsprobe – “A.E.T.Z ” – [Play Loud]

Max Level   3/19/2006   7-inch, A Library

1980 art-punk from somewhere in Germany. Eight short songs about who knows what. Guitar, bass, drums, a cheap keyboard or two, and talking/shouting vocals. If late-’70s Wire had a sense of humor, and one of them liked the Velvet Underground, and they had never moved out of the garage into a proper recording studio, my guess is they would have sounded something like this. Weird punk rock fun, in other words. I tried to look up English translations of what’s going on here, but didn’t get far. The group’s name evidently translates to something like “stress level test”, and that’s about all I could figure out.

Buffets V Buff Medways [coll] – [Damaged Goods]

Thurston Hunger   3/16/2006   7-inch, A Library

Mirror, mirror on the ceiling who’s the buffest and the most
appealing. The Buffets committment to permanent adolescence
is fierce, the world is their garage. Sugar bomb back-up
vocals make sure this punky pimple goes pop. Both songs are
as cute as the scrawling on a teenager’s notebook. On the
flip, it’s Childishness of an even truer form. You can smell
the tubes on the amps, the warm crumple of guitar, and a
twist of tambourine at the end of “David Wise.” Things get
even slurrier on “What You Got,” including a micro guitar
solo preserved in the amber ale found at the bottom of a
bottomless pint from 1966?
Them’s good rockin’. -Thee Hunger

A.M.P. Studio – “Misstype Dolittle ” – [Earworm]

Thurston Hunger   3/11/2006   7-inch, A Library

Richard Walker of Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation
and the mildly confusing group named Amp, is here just solo
as A.M.P. Studio. But he’s not far from the cloudbanks of
those other projects. This single sided 7″ begins with a
buzz-hum and guitar chord shake that slides up then down,
with a sort of Popol Vuh druid reflection. Sound is beyond
billowy, distal drums wait for the guitar to distill, and
then we here a chewy synth do a slow motion raga in the
mix somewhere. The ebb and flow of the stacked sounds can
almost feel like a vox human. Static fireworks come on
towards the end, they anger the guitars that then mass into
these huge rainclouds. This is old, 1997 originally, but
found recently and enjoyed eternally. Driftbliss. -Hunger

Casiotone 4 Th Painfully Alone – “Young Shields ” – [Tomlab]

Thurston Hunger   3/11/2006   7-inch, A Library

Laconic, ironic, squelchaphonic pop tarts from Owen Ashworth.
Tarts as in bitter. The Prince cover on the flip side aims
to underwhelm the listener with droopy vocals, hyperdorkoid
keys and a beat that moves like a Bozo punching-bag. I assume
one goal is to have the listener go, “Wait…that’s, no it,
yeah it is…”. And then to add spelling to injury the title
is printed out as “When You Were Mine.” R U okay? Anyways
maybe the juxtaposition is the justification, as the pop
song on the A-side is lyrically smarter and more smarting.
Again irony runs rich in the anemic blood stream, but it’s
now mixed with a swirl of nihilism and the Casiotone gets
pushed about 37 clicks to the right of the ultra-limp preset
on the Prince cover. This song’s got more drive, I could see
someone hooking this up to a Basic Channel bassline, like
pumping the 98-lb weakling up with steroids. The lyrics are
of the teenage wasteland variety, so that’s sure to be a
hit with the in-crowd of outcasts. Owen, you’re not alone.
Again the words, the rhyming, the meter and delivery are
all excellent on “Young Shields.” Look forward to a full
album devoid of covers, and aiming straight for the heart of
today’s cultural void. -Thurston Hunger

Rubber O Cement/Slicing Grandpa [coll] – [Self Release]

Thurston Hunger   3/3/2006   7-inch, A Library

Artwork looks mighty mitochondrion, indeed the power source
that spurs these organisms is sparked by chaotic eukaryotic
energy. Protozoic overload, like a live wire being slipped
into the petri dish, I thought I heard a cosmic chromosome
comic giggling on the Rubber O Cement towards the end. At the
end the lab tidied up. Slicing Grandpa is a little sloppier,
entrails ripped out through the blastula, or are those vocals?
The boom-clammer pounds its way but hits a brief warp, before
regaining its martial orders 1-2-3-4. That track is called,
“the Parasite” but in this pairing, I’m not sure who’s feeding
off who. I’m partial to the Grux stem line in general, but
Slicing Grandpa may cut like noisilicious rawk and roll more
for others. Viva vinyl, vivid vivisections! -Thurston Hunger

Coughs/Night Wounds – Sexual Hijinx/Hex Appeal – [Not Not Fun] – (33rpm)

Numa   2/23/2006   7-inch, A Library

Summary: Art/Punk/Noise akin to Sonic Youth

This is the first split 7-inch of Not Not Fun‘s Bored Fortress 7-inch club. This release features noise-rock stylings Chicago-based Coughs and LA-based Night Wounds. Coughs “Sexual Hijinx” (5:27): Sonic Youth-style noise rock. Concussive guitars bottom out to the unabashed screams from Anya Davidson. This track is pretty heavy compared with the tracks from their 2005 debut release Fright Makes Right, it is driving and unforgiving. Night Wounds “Hex Appeal” (2:46): Noise-punk stylings here from Night Wounds. This side of the split is quite a bit lighter compared with the Coughs. Slightly distorted vocals accompany the clean guitar thrashings and sax with the drums trying to hold it all together.

Good stuff from Not Not Fun here, looking forward to the other 5 releases in the Bored Fortress 7-inch club.

Heroin – “S/T ” – [Gravity]

Max Level   2/18/2006   7-inch, A Library

Reissue of early-90s release by this now-defunct hardcore unit out of San Diego. The first time around it was known as the “grocery bag record”, due to its original packaging in brown grocery bag paper, and was the Gravity label’s first release. 4 short tracks here, alternating between fast and mid-tempo. The singer delivers emo-poetic lyrics in a notably raw and intense style that renders them mostly unintelligible. Grinding guitars keep things hot and heavy. Side B ends with a beeping locked groove.

Colley, Joe – “No ” – [Cip]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2006   7-inch, A Library

Sound unit crawler installer, Joe Colley gets a gig at a tony
junior college in San Luis Obispo. That’s almost as cool as
the work he created… This release is brought to you by the
letter N and the letter O, and as a parent I’ve learned that
N. O. means a whole lot more than NO. What seems like a one
track mind, is really a two track tape configuration, slap
them together and what do you get. A key here is the sound
of the whistling gears driving the tapes around, they
wheeze easily in and speak to you as much as the accidental
English. About half-way through I remember thinking this
should have a locked groove, and of course Colley’s too
cool for school and has that covered. Try pitch-shifting
that little loop o’ infinity around and see if you can
squeeze some EVP out of it. I got “Dude a la Food” one night
around 2 am and 53 rpm. Your results may vary. Viva Colley
and odd ball installations at Junior Colleges, municipal
libraries and hotel lobbies all across this art-hungry
country! PS Check out the photo from the exhibit as well,
included with this one-sided 7″. -Jon Anderson/Steve Howe

Panda Bear – “I’m not ” – [Uunited Acoustic Record C]

Thurston Hunger   2/17/2006   7-inch, A Library

Gregorian Maori mix in glass pipette organ on the A-side.
Bleached Beach Boy slow motion cheerleading session chases
a handclap metronome into outer space on the flip? Look out
for the drone at the end of single, a frog humming in a piano?
Part of the equation here may be vox humana = pax humana?’ If
this ain’t cloud-watching music, then I don’t know what is.
Love the bouncing forward/backward echo before that drone
on “Comfy in Nautica”. This is pretty heavenly, washed up
in Atlantis on sunny day. And for those keeping score, the
label’s yet to miss! -Thurston Hunger

O Spirits – “Mrs. Housewatcher ” – [Uuinted Acoustic Record C]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2006   7-inch, A Library

A – side
Mrs. Housewatcher has laser beam keybeams over huff ‘n’ puff
drums thumping up a hill. Later the drums get hi-hat happy,
but they are still very strict. Do not trifle with those
drums, that is the god’s truth. Also, there’s a vocal break
Mrs. Housewatcher is battling a rip tide. She doesn’t win,
the singer hurts like Gary Numan kind of. But then again no.
It’s just that little yelp at the end of his phraseseses.
B – side
Oily Man – Yodely lonely verses versus choruses with birds
scrubbing up against scruffy acoustic guitar. The snare is
sneaky in those choruses too. The birds don’t fly very
well, someone is in the rushes below them chuckling. I
don’t know why this single makes me write like a third
grader, but it makes me happy like a third grader too.

PS O Spirits is Tobyn Clark, don’t tell everyone but he’s
part of Business Lady; maybe he’s the power pantsuit, or
the shiny broach? I don’t know for sure. But I do know
that this label socks my rocks off. -Algernon Flowers

Way Things Change, the [coll] – [Red Square]

Max Level   2/4/2006   7-inch, A Library

Between 1999-2001, folk-pop diva (and sometime Boyracer member) Jen Turrell hosted a series of mostly acoustic shows at her house in Phildelphia. Dozens of artists appeared and were recorded live in performance. Evidently some of them also laid down studio tracks there at the house. Several 7″ comps of those live/studio recordings have been released, and there has also been a full-length CD overview of the series. This is the second of those 7″ comps, and it features one short track each by The Softies, Mac Dare, Park, The Bright Lights, the Microphones, and Dear Nora. My guess is that these particular tracks are from the studio material, but I could be wrong about that. What we get here is quiet pop music in various styles, and it’s a lot of fun.

Simovic & Drajec (soundtrack) – “Sexworld ” – [Stomach Ache]

Max Level   2/1/2006   7-inch, Soundtrack

Experimental archival material seems to be the stock in trade for the Dolor Del Estomago (Stomach Ache) label, who very likely doesn’t even have permission to be putting it out. Not surprisingly, I was unable to find ANY information on this particular 7″ online. Side A is a six-minute abstract cut-up thing with flutes, percussion, buzzing, and samples. Side B, at four and a half minutes, sounds like cheesy porn-movie background music, recorded off what might have been somebody’s TV speaker. Fake funky, with wah-wah guitar, etc.

Pan American/To Rococo [coll] – [Unhip]

Max Level   1/29/2006   7-inch, A Library

Two pleasant technoscapes, on the minimal side, all instrumental. The third installment in Unhip’s commendable new series of split seven-inchers. Pan American’s offering is dark and murky, while the To Rococo Rot track crackles with a more upfront beat. Both pieces are uncluttered and nicely done. The playing speed isn’t specified so it’s up to you. I prefer the way 33rpm brings out a deep space feel on Side A, and a laid-back reggae-style groove on Side B. Both tracks do benefit from a 45rpm spin if higher-caffiene beats are called for.

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