KFJC 89.7FM

Music Reviews

The Vendettas “The Vendettas” [360Twist]

jack soil   3/6/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Slightly inebriated twangin’ garagy rock sounds from The Vendettas. They borrow
from whatever they can get their filthy mitts on – electric blues, RnB, crazed
rockabilly. Singer/rhythm guitarist, Buffi Aguero hails from the Subsonics (as
the drummer) along with Clay Reed, producing (also from the Subsonics). Sporting
two chix and two dudes, they sound like a Cramps-meets the-Makers-meets the-insert
some other trash rawk band effort. In fact, singer Johnny Vignault could probably
step in for the Makers any time ( given that he changes his hair doo and agrees to
tour in a hearse). Good stuff through and through, occasionally snotty, occasionally
crazed, occasionally demented and always rockin, guaranteed by a solid pedigree. In
other words, it’s a solid good time. Obviously shaken like they meant it to be.

Plaid “Not For Threes” [Warp Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Electronica from the duo of Ed Handley and Andy Turner. Two-third’s of the trio making up the techno group The Black Dog, Handley and Turner’s association pre-dated Black Dog, and after the trio split up they returned as Plaid, where they offer a more approachable sound.
Lighter than your average club music, the beats are reminiscent of the emerging 80’s electro-techno but with a complexity stemming from modern house music. For a harder edge, try track 7. For a techno-pop sound of the more mainstream there are some guest vocal tracks (T6 Nicolette, T9 Mara and Benet T9 Bjork T12 Leila Arab). Yes, the Bjork, but I liked Nicolette’s offering more. My favourite tracks were the three shortest (T 5, 11, 13). They give you that danceable repetitive beat but by keeping it short don’t bore you.

Cambodian Rocks [coll] – [Parallel World]

Mac   3/5/2005   CD, Format, International

In the mid 60’s the American music scene was invaded by the British. By the late 60’s America was invading Cambodia. Surf, psych, pop, rock, and soul found their way into the country and out came the Cambodian flavored songs on this CD. Mad guitar riffs, catchy melodies, and weird vocals (all the singing is in Cambodian) go beyond mere imitation. Though inspired by the American greats, they manage to find their own sound, and it rivals the best garage bands America had to offer. The various rock sounds merge in ways no Americans explored, and the high pitched female vocals on half the tracks and occasional odd instruments add a truly Cambodian sound. None of the artists are named and no liner notes are given. The tracks were collected from old cassettes (see story on back). Highlights include the covers of Fleetwood Mac’s Black Magic Woman (T5) and Them’s Gloria (T13). Burned forever into my mind is the hilarious imitation of James Brown on T8. In a place with war just across the border and a political coup at home, these musicians found in rock music a way to escape and have some fun. The passion with which they play is reflected in their music, and it can blow you away. Sit back and have a rockin’ good time, courtesy of Cambodia.

John Zorn “The Circle Maker” [Tzadik]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Disc 1 -Issachar
Disc 2 – Zevulun
The alter cockers (old Jewish folk) will be saying oy
gevalt! This Zorn fellow, what a fershtinkiner, he
thinks he can take sacred klezmer musical tradition
and turn it into ongepotchket shmutzik (dirt slapped
together without form). What do those schmucks know?
Gornisht (Nothing), that’s what. Zorn’s shtick is to
blend modern jazz with traditional Jewish melodies.
He went about composing over 200 of these Jewish
fusion tunes, calling them collectively the Masada
song book. What a mechaiyeh (joy) they are to listen
to.
Originally written for the Masada quartet (violin,
bass, cello, sax) the double CD in your hands switches
up the arrangements.
The Issachar side has some serious zetz (a stong blow
or punch). Featuring the Masada String Trio (the old
quartet sans Zorn’s sax), you find zwinging zets with
zimple melodies and that special Jewish flavour.
Zevulum has a more haimish (down-to-earth) quality.
Not overly schmaltzy, there’s some fine playing here
by the Bar Kokhba Sextet (the Masada Trio + guitar,
percussion, & drums). More laid back than disc 1, the
zound is shtill zeiseh (sweet).
That Zorn fellow, what a mensch he is.

Archiv 1.1 [coll] – [Raster-Nolten]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Retrospective minimalist collection from German label Raster-Nolten from ’97 to ’04. Many years, many styles of minimalism. All tracks new or previously unreleased. Varied track times. Minimalist review for minimalist music: 1) intro 2) drone 3) ambient 4) clicks n? pops 5) drone w/ beat + vocal 6) drone 7) clicky drone w/ light beat 8) staticy beat 9) pain 10) zips n? pops 11) click drone 12) zips n? clicks 13) minimal pop 14) click drone 15) drone

Windmill “Every Last Windmill Shall Fall” [Big Spoon Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Indie-pop/rock project out of Boston put together by Kent Randell. The album is more compilation than single band. Though all the songs were written by Randell, the styles vary greatly. The first four tracks are your standard pop/rock tracks, with #1 being more upbeat and the other three much moodier. Those are fine songs, but the real fun starts on track 5. It’s still a mopey pop song, but it begins with a chorus of barking dogs and later falls into a piano solo. #6 is a neat, quick instrumental piece featuring guitar. #7 goes back to the soft-rock, but instead of lead guitar there’s a lead harmonica. #8 really breaks the mold with some haunting female vocals. #9 is a fun tune that’s a little too silly sounding to be a serious tune, which is probably the point. It’s mostly guitar and lead singer with a guy clapping in sync with the intro. #10 features nothing you haven’t heard before, with hard playing college rock, though the end dissolves into white noise. Same things happens to an even more extreme degree on #11, but this time the noise craze happens in the middle. #12’s is a less polished and less focused song with vocals inspired by the movie Nostalghia by Tarkovsky. The liner notes for track 12 are: ‘Today in the mail I received a glockenspiel.’ An amazing track centered around the glockenspiel (a cousin of the xylophone), this instrumental piece (there’s a faint bit of human vocals, but not singing) is a truly beautiful and totally unexpected from a pop/rock album.
Fun note: God is in the liner notes, having contributed thunder and rain to track 11.

Yowie “Cryptooology” [Skin Graft Records]

Mac   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The band takes its name from the Australian version of Bigfoot. It might also be the sound one utters when first hearing the band play. Working in the math rock mold one finds two warbley guitars and a drum having seizures as they fly all over the place in fast paced and aggressive style that produced tuneless tunefulness. All the tracks are composed out of this sonic chaos, so if you’ve heard one Yowie track you’ve heard ’em all, but as an album running just under a half-hour it makes for a short sweet debut.

Afrirampo “First EP” [Gyuune Cassette]

Thurston Hunger   3/5/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The first time I heard Afrirampo was a live set on Brian
Turner’s show on WFMU. I felt like I had seen them… I’ve
been dying for another taste ever since. This is their first
album and it’s the first “free pop” I’ve come across so far.
With efforvescent vocals, and the GOOD sort of short attention
span, a drummer who kicks asteroids, and these rising surges
of vocals. From howler monkey screams to lunar crooning to
shrieky speak to orgasmic laughter. Effects are used once,
not milked to death. You could talk about male-dominated
Japanese culture and make a case for the welling up of some
female spirits, but this is just plain unbridled creativity
erupting like a day glo volcano. These wild women are
fingerpainting with their entire bodies. Self-obsessed?
Yep. Ninja rhythms? Uh-uh. Oni and Pikacyu are here to save
the world with naked energy. Domo Ariblotto!

Rewind! 4 [coll] – [Ubiquity Records]

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   A Library, CD

This is the 4th in the excellent Rewind series put out by California label Ubiquity. The Rewind series has new artists and bands covering and updating (and sometimes completely changing the genres of) classic songs.

There are some amazing remakes covering a wide range of genres covered on this CD. There is soul/R&B (1,4,6,12), world/Afro/Latin-beat (2,5,6), spacey electronica (7,9), and folkish (3,11).

There are several tracks that simply must be heard:

(1)An impossibly funky cover of This Land Is Your Land by Sharon Jones & The Daptones, which I’ve reviewed on the 7″ release.

(2)The folky cover of Cameo’s Word Up!

(4)Alice Russell belting out her version of 7 Nation Army by The White Stripes. It sounds like this is the original and the White Stripes cover it, and the liner notes agree with me on this point.

The Joni Mitchell cover doesn’t really add anything to the original, though it is beautifully sung. Burt Bacharach’s Look Of Love gets slowed down and sung through a vocoder.
–Hunter Gatherer

Phonophani – “Oak or Rock ” – [Rune Grammafon]

Hunter Gatherer   2/27/2005   A Library, CD

Phonophani is Norwegian programmer/composer/studio engineer Espen Sommer Eide. He is also – of Alog and 1/5 of Boiling Fjords. This is his third release as Phonophani and his 2nd on Rune Grammofon. It was released 8/2004.

Mr. Eide writes his own computer software for manipulating sound samples, and helpfully includes a sample program that you can download from his website. The sounds on this CD are either entirely synthesized or high processed organic sounds. Rhythms and melodies are spare. The emphasis is squarely on the timbre of the sounds, which are somewhere in the space between natural and processed sounds (Oak or Rock?).

The songs have an icy and austere feel. The piano, organ, string, and vocal samples sound like they are refracted through ice.

All songs are instrumental, though 9 contains vocal samples that make it unsuitable for a bed.
–Hunter Gatherer

Transformer Lootbag s/t [Science of Sound]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

ebut from Madison, Wisconsin trio on the guitarist’s
(Ricky Rheimer’s) label. Punchy guitarwork carmelizes
this sugar crunchy pop. I hear XTC, Bob Mould, Pixies,
Woozy Helmet, Kaito. Shouty vocals are very condensed,
(with effects) Rheimer and bassist Steven Riches trade
duties, often firing lyrics that overlap each other.
That helps give this music an insistent feel, along w/
Matt Abplanalp’s racy drums. Actually what Abplanalp
does well is to drop out a beat or two sometimes and
let Rheimer’s guitar whiplash a bit. That’s especially
vivid on the last track, which has some sort of nice
whammy on that guitar too…and then the faux runout
groove to boot. Shake your Lootbag.

Narrator, the “Youth City Fire” ep [Flameshovel]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Banks of klanking guitar and some nice whiplash drumming are
at the point where the needle strikes the heart of the manic
panic churned out by this Chicago fourpiece. Yeah, the vocals
at their best are exasperating, probably from years of trying
to sing over stacks of amps without a PA? But the rock here
is as real as a blood blister, and drummer Nate Heneghan just
slaps the skin around a lot. The guitars occasionally get into
some see-saw stereophonic slash versus slash work, and do a
good job of sharing the spotlight, playing off each other.
Flameshovel tends to bring out some of the crispier guitar
torched rock, trebly Fender-fried, finger-licking stuff. As
such it almost is important that the vocals be a little weak
as if to say, “oh yeah we gotta sing something.” Weird little
keyboard interlude on “Horse with Blinders” gets eaten alive.
This ep, is definitely an Emphatic Play and promising for
the hinterlands where rock is still spoken.

The Lab – 20 Year Anniversary [coll] – [self]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

We are lucky to live in an area with such a high weirdo
percentage…indeed we help in our way to boost that number.
But these LAB rats make their own mazes and draw new, wilder,
weirder rats from all over the world. The Bay Area may lack
some of New York’s notoriety, but I think that pays off with
an atmosphere that really let’s anything go. Encourages it
to do so, which I imagine is what the Lab is all about. I’ll
have to talk to Beth Custer who is the chief cheese these
days…if she curated this CD, she gets extra kudos as the
pieces connect from one to another like a relay race from
outer space. Really well done…unabashed brainiac waves
emanate from each piece. A familiar rock ditty from Zmrzlina,
some spoken choked works (Robair’s opera!!), you got vampy
camp from Amy X, drone, jazz and plenty of what-the-hell
is that and why-the-hell-do-I-care-it’s amazing. Each time
through something different leaps out at me, as I write
this Toychestra and the Opera Califas and Jin Hi Kim’s
Korean avant-soul and…hell it really is all mind-bowling,
sticks three fingers in your head and tosses it down the
lane in style! Shoulda been a 10-CPU box set!

Kickass, the “Death Metal is for Pussies” [BiFocal]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

The album title says it, I believe it, that settles it.
No…no…no…but if you are like me and sadly cannot
stomach any more throat core vocals you may enjoy this
album of grisly riffage. I know that hyper-technical
guitar work can leave some cold, but don’t the pink
work-out outfits warm you up a bit. Titles namecheck
Led Zep, and Living Color but in addition to guitar
swagger-slash-solipsism, the Kickass do bring in some
trumpet (end of #2) and a little piano (end of #6)
which was a nice surprise for me. More in that vein
would be welcomed. This debut from Greenville, NC may
not prove that pink is the new black but at least
Tyrannosaurus Rock isn’t extinict yet.

Books, the “Thought for Food” [Tomlab]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   A Library, CD, Format

An emblematic drop of laptop pop…whether it has much
shelf life bears to be seen. On first listen this is a
very engaging release, the samples instead of slapped
heavy like gags across the mouth of music, are instead
more nimbly suspended into the actual songs. Along with
said samples the Books have Paul de Jong, a cellist, &
Nick Zammuto on guitar. Check “All Bad Ends All” that’s
infectious and done extremely well. It tap dances up the
keyboard and down your spinal column. There’s a clean,
well-lighted craziness to the conections created here.
And a sort of Eugene Chadbourne bounce to their fruity
lutery. The cleverness that fuels much of the Books
may oddly be their greatest threat…whether they can
scratch a deeper itch than kitsch. In the meantime,
have fun and gentlemen good luck. -Thurston Hopeful

Molam : Thai Country Groove from Isan [coll] – [Sublime Frequencies]

Thurston Hunger   2/21/2005   CD, Format, International

Wham bam thank you Molam…by way of Sublimers
Bishop and Gergis. The inviting splashisness
of the package exceeded only by the sounds on
this. “Husband Drunk, Wife Drunk” is amazingly
intoxicating, the first time I heard it, felt
like a 20 min track, I just dove into it. It
has the short of hypnotic shuffle of reggae,
with banks of secret-spy keyboards and the
spousal vocal interplay works towards a great
yet brief harmony. “khaen” appears throughout
(#1,4,5,10,12-4) like a call to a coronation.
That and the crazy soap opera shout-abouts
were both featured in the most recent Neung
Phak/Sun City Girl “event” The shout-abouts
are #2,8,11. #11 has an accidental hiphop
intro giving way to brittle flying guitar that
has the energy of a classic garage legend.
This is music spawned of the crossroads but
having taken its own true root. You can listen
and hear: ska, ethiopian funk, bachelor pad
keys, driving psych… This may just be the
sublimest of them all (so far…).

Sun City Girls “Carnival Folklore Resurrection Radio” [Abduction]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Time travel back to November 2nd, 2002…hijack city by
the trinity of heresy and nowsy known as the Sun City
Girls. “Uncle Jim” spills his mic skills all over the
second CD in a three-part Kahnversation. If he’s too hip
on the lip for the hip-hop squad, then it’s their loss.
This here is firewater and every other oxymoron you can
muster. Reconstituted radio and odd rareties including a
Bat-blister TV rendition. It’s not the I-IV-V chords that
gave that theme life, it’s the screaming harmonies! The
Twilight Zone theme gets twangled, Anthony Fremont gets
namechecked, Bison makes a “Dele” and WFMU station ID.
Madness reigns from the tuning wash to Yamantaka chant
at the beginning through to the end wherein Alan Bishop’s
daughter shows that unflinching pinching of the funny
bone is genetic. Laird Henn is egged on by an answering
machine. Insurance blues are rued. Brian Turner offered
his show up like a sacrifice to the gods, but rather than
just a live set, they created this. Life.

Andersen, Steindor “Rimur” [Naxos World]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   CD, Format, International

Centuries old Viking-style old skull rap…or “rime.”
Instead of braggadiccio, the Nordic tack is to denigrate
one’s skills (poetic and amorous) before launching into
the tale. See liner notes for more details. To today’s
American ear, these vocalizings will sound vaguely like
gregorian chants, but with more “wobble” to ’em (maybe
the rhyming?) Tracks 16 and 18 are softened by strands
of harp. #12 floes over an icy bed of subdued (subzero?)
digeridoo. #14 is the only duet, sure wish there more
it was my favorite. One for the ages…and Sigur Ros
fans as well (that group has helped revive interest
in these form of expression.

Soothwag “S.B.T.W.” [Abiogenesis]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Should file a ballistic report rather than a review. Pounding
noise from 2001 and this Japanese signal processor/exploder.
Beats are detonated, with enough regularity to incite the
brave to dance. Sound is jammed in a bit, making this less
of a headphones-listen than an open-air assault. Blasts come
in sets of waves. Sections like the middle of “Gakai” when
persistent rhythms relax and we get the drift and draft of
static are very welcome, and could have been deployed more
often I feel. “Corrode” delivers a sort of swagger, with
slapping swatches of sound over a heavier noise-funk. The
fury-on-the-fritz of this project though is undeniable.
This is the first of at least two by Shunichi aka Soothwag.
It would be interesting to hear him collaborate with others
perhaps from less infernal realms of sound.

Smegma “Glamour Girl 1941 + Pigface Chant” [Japan Overseas]

Thurston Hunger   2/13/2005   A Library, CD, Format

Richard Meltzer in your mind, not in your toilet? I suspect
how much one likes/hates this will depend upon how serious
one thinks Meltzer and the Smegmen take themselves. This is
a regurging of the original full-length and ep for Meltzer
and his Pasadena-to-Portland posse, with some other chunks
coughed up just for this release. One of those ends the CD
with “uh, don’t come in here,” while there is a masturbatory
feel to much here, there’s a lot of flair as well. My guess
it’s all an allergic reaction to Meltzer’s listening to too
many records (he reviewed for Crawdaddy, the Village Voice
and such) and making too much money for Blue Oyster Cult
lyrics. The CD starts with some fairly open free jazz, but
there are tortured tantrums leaking in as well. Frustrated
poet. Well, just plain frustrated. An early use of loops is
evident. There’s a helluva lot of rare beauty in these rough
recordings (#8 and #5 say) By the time the EP breaks wind,
it’s vocal collision/collage where chants meets chance.

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