SEWERS OF MARS #1
Jun 13, 2007, 06:58
Hi ya, folks. This is the first installment of SEWERS OF MARS , a regular column set to appear the second Tuesday or Wednesday of every month dealing with the good, the bad and the ugly amidst the piles of new releases and reissues that relentlessly continue to clog up an already overcrowded market. Welcome!
For consideration in this column, please send music on any format to me, James J. Toth c/o Your Flesh. Please no “dance punk.” Lutes and mandolins and shit welcome.Â
We'll kick things off with Bedemon's Child of Darkness, a necessary purchase for anyone who likes their music heavy and fucked up. These super early, super primitive recordings date from before the band morphed into doom legends Pentagram, and Bedemon are just as heavy and evil, and way more psychedelic. Amazing liner notes with bio and gnarly â€˜teenage metalhead' pictures too.
Speaking of metal, Wold's Screech Owl has been out a while now and I'll be damned if it isn't a bone-shaker. Screech Owl follows at least one full length and a bunch of demos, but this latest one takes the Saskatchewan trio's Whitehouse-meets-Burzum approach to the absolutely terrifying extreme and the result is the metal / noise crossover album to beat. Rest assured, Wold is pure metal where it counts, but the band's progressive sensibility makes for one of the most unique and satisfying metal albums in years, maybe ever. And they're from Canada, no less. What's this world coming to?
SST fans rejoice! Get thee to MySpace and check out a band called It's Casual. The songs that comprise their new album The New Los Angeles are some of the most vicious hardcore / punk screeds I've heard in a long while. Fans of Black Flag, B'last, etc should be selling their gold teeth to get their hands on this one.
A new and very mysterious label called SEIDR has made me a very happy record creep lately. SEIDR is a totally unofficial CDR label releasing some monstrous documents of krautrock, heavy psych, and proto metal. I have no idea what intrepid and fearless individual is behind this enterprise, but he or she deserves a medal just for releasing the France Demo Tape by Les Rallizes Denudes, perhaps one of the most perfect documents of a band going for it and getting there since “Sister Ray.” That's no lie! Also worth noting is the severely fucked Tetes Lourdes compilation of 70's French proto-metal, Silberbart's biker scuzz masterpiece 4 Times Sound Razing, Stooges soundalikes Angel Face's A Wild Odyssey, and a host of Ash Ra Temple live shows. Very necessary.
Speaking of secret labels, I don't know if I can reveal which crusty noise super-legend is behind the amazing Dolor Del Estamago label, but some of you may remember the Endless Boogie â€˜bootleg' cassette they put out a few years back. Well, the label has just reissued one of my all time favorite records, Ilhan Mimaroglu's Dreams of the Delirious Demon, on CDR. While my personal search for an original copy of this album is far from over, it's nice to finally quell the desire to hear it again. Composer Mimaroglu (namesake of Keith Whitman's distro operation, if that tells you anything!) is pretty well known in certain circles, but this album of processed clarinet is something of an anomaly in his catalog and sounds like what Fripp might have recorded for Alga Marghen. That good. Best of all, these CDRs are going for only three measly bucks, making this more a public service than an actual release. Google that shit!
Another reissue that I have been going bananas over is the Marc Mundy album (s/t) on Subliminal Sounds. Now, no one is as wary of â€˜real people' albums as I am, having been burned too many times by too many albums by dateless, tone deaf, Midwestern freaks with synthesizers, but this album, by the Turkish-born Mundy, is a pop masterpiece full of infectious choruses and brilliant lyrics. Imagine Harvey Sid Fisher if he sang like Borat. No kidding.
Shearwater's beautiful Palo Santo has just been rescued from relative obscurity by Matador. While not an official reissue per se (the band re-recorded a handful of tracks, added some demos and remastered the whole shebang), the album originally appeared on the Misra label last year and was roundly—inexplicably—ignored. I heard someone say this reminded them of Jeff Buckley, but to my ears, Talk Talk's Sprit of Eden seems to be the primary touchstone, and if that doesn't sell you, I don't know if we have anything left to say to one another. For you babes in the woods, imagine the tunefulness of The Shins crossed with the earnestness of Antony. I'm slowly thumbing my way through their back catalog, and, as the kids say, it's all good. But Palo Santo is the one I keep returning to, full as it is with imaginative arrangements, inspired production, and beautiful songs. Best Matador record in a long while!Â Â
The most interesting band in New York right now is Blues Control. The duo of Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho has served up two new albums this year, and both are excellent. My take on it is Royal Trux-plays-the-William-Basinski-songbook, with a little added private press frizzle fry here and there, but tape label veteran Waterhouse admits to not being all too familiar with most of Basinski's work. Go figure. Of the two albums, the LP-only Puff (Woodsist) is the ideal starting place and the better of the two by a nose, but the just released self titled album on Holy Mountain is sure to make a ton of year end â€˜best' lists. If you pick up on it quick, you can say you were there.Â Â
The award for most original record of the month goes to From Beyond. This fantastic self-titled, self-released 10” features an eleven-piece orchestra's cover of Black Sabbath's “Into The Void,” but get this â€“ the orchestra performs the whole song backwards. Arranger / conductor Jason Ajemian, a tireless bassist and staple of the Chicago jazz / improv scene as well as half of folk duo Born Heller, learned how to play the Sabbath classic backwards, meticulously notated it, and taught it to a group of willing Chicago notables including Joshua Abrams. Lest you think the band is cheating, the flipside features their version of the song presented in reverse, coming full circle with a “proper” cover of “Into The Void” that exudes Twin Peaks-like creepiness.
Pocahaunted is an amazing new duo from Los Angeles who seriously channel the warrior spirit of Cochise via rattling guitars and righteous moans and chants. Their Native Seduction 3” is essential listening for fans of pre-celebrity Jandek and No Neck's more primal moments.Â Â Â
San Francisco label Yik Yak can always be relied upon to bring the jams, but this new NVH / Chasny LP is a whole new kinda monster. The LP includes excerpts from the duo's room-clearing Plays Book of Revelations cassette from a year or so ago, and adds new material. Totally stellar guitar drone noise in the Sunroof! / Total tradition that'll give you the serious horrors.Â
Finally, the record of the month is Jay Reatard's “I Know A Place” 7” on Goner Records. Fellow Tennessean Reatard has been around for a long time as a member of a handful of bands (seek out The Reatards' classic Teenage Hate LP) but on his own he is poised to be nothing less than the savior or rock and roll! A sort of Jeffery Evans for the Pitchfork generation, Reatard writes memorable pop tunes with genuine hooks and makes the White Stripes sound like Coldplay. This would have been the record of the month even without the Go-Betweens cover on the B side, but fuck, don't that just absolutely fucking clinch it? Limited to 500, better hurry.
I guess that's it for this installment. All good reviews this time out, but what can I say? Lotta good stuff out there right now. And don't even get me started on The Goslings, Jason Isbell, Ex Cocaine, the new Spoon album, Serpent Throne, Big Blood, or The Patron Saints! Guess it'll hafta wait till next time. If you want to get on my good side for some reason, I also collect Jackie Gleason paraphernalia and revolvers of all kinds. Yeehaw!