Music Reviews

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.

Arcade Fire/Rey,Alvino [coll] – [Merge Records]

Max Level   1/26/2006   7-inch, A Library

Arcade Fire are from Montreal, and have somewhere between 5 and 8 members, depending on who you ask. Side A is a pop number that rushes along with a nice buildup of keyboards, guitar, drums, and background vocals. Arcade frontman Win Butler’s vocals sound pretty worked-up emotionally, describing what might be a suburban neighborhood’s unseen underbelly; tunnels connecting bedrooms and such. Side B is an interesting thing: an old recording (previously unavailable?) of Butler’s grandfather, bandleader/steel guitarist Alvino Rey. He passed away in early 2004, and his 1940 performance of the standard “My Buddy” is included here as a tribute. Rey plays his famous talking steel guitar, and there’s a subtly amusing bit in the middle of the song.

Mutts, the – ” ” – [Fat Cat]

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

Respectably rocking material by straight-ahead UK quartet. Guitar/bass/drums/vocals. Three tracks around three minutes each. Nice job of walking the line between clean and gritty. I’m definitely up for more of this.

Macromantics – “Four Facets/Conspiracy Remix ” – [Quaketrap]

Max Level   1/7/2006   7-inch, Hip Hop

Australian MC Romy Hoffman, aka Macromantics, delivers sharp-tongued, rapid-fire wordflow. I’m loving her Aussie accent, it’s a totally fresh sound in rap, but she’s no novelty act. Her rhymes are literate and tough, and seriously I’d put her up against anybody. Side A: the four elements of hip hop. Side B: urban violence. Unusual production by Quake Trap artists Shaggy Manatee (side A) and Yoko Solo (side B). This thing is dangerous.

To Hell and / Shemps [coll] – [Gloom Records]

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

Two rowdy New York bands kick in your front door and grab everything they can while your security alarm howls. To Hell and Back is a hard rock/punk combo with gruff vocals, big riffs, and short, wild guitar solos. Their two tracks are each around 2? minutes long. The Shemps crank up three sharp slices of ripping pogo-beat, under 2 minutes apiece. The message: you’re stupid and you hate us and we don’t care. Bonus points for the band’s name, the cover art, and for having a guitarist named Squeaky.

Anodyne / Keelhaul [coll] – [Chainsaw Safety]

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

Side A: Brooklyn outfit Anodyne offers a 5:41 medley consisting of an original composition (a minute and a half burst of hardcore madness), which segues into a version of Throbbing Gristle’s “Persuasion” that’s all rumbling bass throb, odd loops, and spoken words off in the distance. Side B: Cleveland’s veteran hard rockers Keelhaul blast off with a killer 6-minute piece that twists and turns through several sections of tightly focused riffing and chording. Drummer Will Scharf is worth the price of admission here. Side A is cool, but Side B rules!

Crispus Attucks – “! Yo Peho ! ” – [Six Weeks]

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

Posthumous release of super destructo hardcore from Washington DC quintet. Radical politics and skateboards. Smash the state, resist and fight, shred ’till death. Each side has 3 very short tracks clocking in at a total of less than 3 minutes per side. Forget the individual tracks, you’ll want to play a whole side. It’s all good.

Thinking Fellers Union Local 2 – “Kids Are in the Mud, the ” – [Japan Overseas]

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

Pop music from the furthest reaches of Bizarro-World. The “Kids” side is talk-singing with scraping, loops, pitch-shifting, electronics, and no sign of a “real” instrument to be heard, except for a short section with some vibes or bells or something. The “Bones” side conjures up the Residents with drawling vocals, warped carnival calliope, and a rhythm consisting of boings and thuds. What makes people do stuff like this, anyway? Do I like it? Oh yeah. Do I understand it? Not a chance.

Lost Sounds – ” ” – [Holy Cobra Society]

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

Memphis TN’s contribution to the “blackwave” school of music, Lost Sounds are sort of a goth-y rock and roll synth punk conglomeration. There’s a compelling air of desperation to Lost Sounds, as if there’s nothing else these people can possibly do except to make this music with this band. Side A is a frenzied guitar/keyboard rocker that ends with a more restrained piano-driven section. Side B has an excellent cover of Joy Division’s “Ice Age”, and also a Joy Division-ish original.

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