Music Reviews

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.

Olive Green – “Doo Bad Hustle, the ” – [Candle Wax Records]

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

This joint straddles the line between hiphop and rock. Side A has a sweet funky beat with nasty bass riffs and electric piano providing the bed, while Candle Wax main man DJ Blake 9 does some fine cutting on top. Sampled voices keep reminding us how funky this track is. Side B is more of a guitar-fueled rocker- a high-powered instrumental incorporating a few slices of movie dialog. DJ King Most does something or other on this track. If your taste falls firmly on one side or other of the hiphop/rock dichotomy, there’s something here for you. But I’m betting most people will dig both sides of this.

Teengenerate – “No Time ” – [Dog Meat]

Max Level   1/6/2006   7-inch, A Library

Maximum trash punk rock from this now-defunct Japanese quartet. Australia’s Dog Meat label brings us this limited re-pressing of 1995 material. Pick your poison. 4 tracks, each of them around 2 minutes long. Meters in the red and who gives a damn? Howling guitars and a straight-out-of-the-garage rhythm section. Slapping you around are Fink and Fifi on guitars/vocals, Sammy on bass, Shoe on drums.

Ex-Models/Seconds, the [coll] – [My Pal God Records]

Max Level   1/4/2006   7-inch, A Library

Ex-Models are from NY, and if what I’ve read is accurate, The Seconds are pretty much the same guys playing under a different name for some reason. The two bands are similar in that they both play short, bizarre songs that pummel the listener with crazed nonsense vocals, violent changes, and unexpected jolts. As a reference point, both bands have been favorably compared to Melt Banana. The second song on Side 2 by The Seconds is a bit different; not as hyper-wacko as the other three tracks, it has an actual repeating riff, and is within spitting distance of being funky. However, for these guys frantic is a better fit.

Found [coll] – [Found Magazine]

Max Level   1/4/2006   7-inch, A Library

The groovy folks at FOUND magazine enlisted a few artists to contribute pieces of music based on found objects. All tracks are in the 1 to 3 minute range and all are strangely moving. A1: TRS-80 assembles a jungle-ish track with mixed-in snippets from a pre-teen’s 1960s audio diary. A2: Claudine Coule combines melancholy ambience with phrases from a tape found inside a broken telephone answering machine. B1: The Victrolas concoct a country-fried tale of longing and heartbreak from nothing more than a found playing card with someone’s first name written on it. B2: Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Bros, etc) sets to music a tragic note found in a hotel room bible. Also a tiny untitled audio blurb at the end of Side B. Sure hope FOUND releases more such collections in the future; there must be thousands of great finds in the world waiting to be set to music.

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