SEWERS OF MARS #8

Music Features
SEWERS OF MARS #8
By
Jan 23, 2008, 20:17

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Happy new year, folks! Looking at the upcoming releases for just the next three or four months, I'm pretty stoked. Let's get right to it.

The Mattoid - Glory Holy the Ep

This freak calling himself The Mattoid is someone to watch. From Nashville via Finland, The Mattoid—aka Ville Kiviniemi—crafts catchy, absurd pop songs about hating Christians, sucking cocks, suicide, and breaking wind on his Glory Holy EP (Grand Palace). With a voice pitched somewhere between Kevin Ayers and Arnold Schwarzengger, and with a musical m.o. equal parts Harvey Sid Fisher, Costes and Herman Dune, The Mattoid's clever and twisted songs cut through the possibility of novelty and deserve repeated listens.

Psychedelic Horseshit - Magic Flowers Droned

Psychedelic Horseshit's Magic Flowers Droned (Siltbreeze) is a bit of a befuddling listen. Seems there are a lot of bands doing this early Pavement/Dead C circa Eusa Kills shit-rock stuff right now, and of the incestuous batch, Psychedelic Horseshit don't possess the pop sensibility of Times New Viking, the near-tragic realism of Pink Reason (who's Kevin Failure has recently been added to Psychedelic Horseshit's lineup), or the hooks of Tyvek, making it almost impossible to distinguish them from the rabble of contemporaries. Everything you need to know about this band you can know from the song “Bad Vibrations” (chorus: “I'm picking up bad vibrations/Everywhere that I go/I'm picking up bad vibrations/From everyone that I know”). This is noisy, lo-fi, unpretentious rock, complete with recorder freak-outs. The noise here, though, is of the “please turn that off” variety more than the transcendent kind. Pass for now.   AMAZON

Times New Viking - Rip It Off

Speaking of Times New Viking, Rip It Off is the band's Matador debut, but don't assume an association with the label that made career artists of Pavement, Cat Power and Liz Phair has mellowed this bunch. If anything, Rip It Off is even more ferocious and uncompromising a racket than the band's two previous albums, a move reminiscent of Wolf Eyes' Sub Pop debut for sheer “take us or leave us” audacity. Unlike many of their contemporaries (see above), Times New Viking knows how to write a hook, and you can find these hooks buried under layers of hiss, distortion, and fuzz. Maybe it's just the old man in me, but I can't help thinking that if the band re-recorded songs like “Drop Out” or “Mean God” with a “real” producer, they'd have a crossover hit on their hands to rival, if not the success of The White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, at least some of Matador's pedigree. Still, I'll bet a thousand dollars this band doesn't give a solitary shit about “crossing over” anywhere, now or ever. Good for them. AMAZON

The King Khan & BBQ Show - The King Khan & BBQ Show

Readers of this column know I'm a big fan of King Khan and BBQ Show and their numerous offshoots (Mark Sultan, The Spaceshits, The Shrines, etc), but this long overdue reissue of the band's eponymous debut album on In The Red is truly cause to celebrate. Fusing R&B styled garage rock with the saccharine melodies of 50s doo-wop is a stroke of genius, and King Khan and BBQ Show have the songwriting chops to pull it off. Listen and ask yourself if “Waddlin' Around” isn't a Dion cover (it's not). The vinyl comes in a gatefold cover that folds out into a board game you can actually play. Super cool. AMAZON

Skullflower - IIIrd Gatekeeper

One of the year's early contenders for best reissue is the newly re-mastered IIIrd Gatekeeper (Crucial Blast) by the almighty Skullflower. Of all of main man Matthew Bower's many releases (of which there are very few even almost-duds), this one, originally released by Justin Broadrick's HeadDirt imprint, is perhaps the most vital and, ultimately, most representative of his myriad talents as guitar player/sonic sorcerer. IIIrd Gatekeeper is visceral, doomy noise rock the way God intended, complete with a throttling rhythm section and relentless bombast of guitar. Want stoner rock? Look no further than opener “Can You Feel It,” which rattles windows like Harvey Milk but cruises psychedelic terrain like High Rise. Other standouts are the slow crawl “Godzilla,” which features a keyboard, and the horrifying “Larks Tongues,” the vocals of which pre-dates noise's recent fascination with black metal. Devastating.   AMAZON

Alasehir is yet another project featuring the ultra prolific Gibbons brothers of Bardo Pond. Joined here by drummer Jason Kourkounis, The Philosophy of Living Free is the band's third album of super space sludge, and first for Siltbreeze, who, over a decade ago released the early, seminal Bardo Pond single Test For New Swords.  You couldn't say the Gibbons brothers have flown too far from those halcyon days of traversing the psychedelic whatnot, but who wants 'em to? The three tracks here offer little in the way of surprises, though the guitar solo at the end of “Rind” is more broken and fucked up than anything else in the Gibbons discography I have heard, and the acoustic textures on the sidelong “Circius” will certainly come as a curveball for those on the nod, in the zone and/or off the grid. Good stuff.Â

MV is a hard dude to keep track of—even if you're keeping up with his constant release schedule, it's hard to speculate on what dude will do next. The always reliable Time Lag Records has given us a real treat, though, with the release of a new limited single. The A-side's “P.K Dick” hearkens back to the sound of MV's pre-rural days, its hissy stoner ramble reminiscent of his work with the mighty Tower Recordings, while the flip is another example of MV's intrepid and inventive steel string playing. This too-brief single is a great showcase of both the breadth of MV's talents and the scope of his wanderin' muse.

White Magic - Dark Stars - EP

White Magic was a band I always liked more in theory than in practice. I've enjoyed each of their releases, but none quite so much as Mira Billotte's previous band, Quix*o*tic (surely one of the great unheralded bands of the 90s). That's all changed with Dark Stars (Drag City), a new 4 song EP that conjures the same slow crawl melodicism and narcotic blues as Quix*o*tic's seminal Mortal Mirror LP. The four songs here - three by Billotte and one by guitarist Doug Shaw – are vaguely sinister dirges featuring Billotte's distinctive vocals. The best of these, “Poor Harold,” is a menacing tale of a gravedigger who keeps late nights, with music enhanced by dub-like effects and meticulously layered vocals. The always reliable Jim White on drums is just a bonus – Dark Stars is White Magic's best work to date, and an effective teaser for their next full length. Pick of the month! AMAZON

Next month, I'll tell you all about the insane Life Is A Problem compilation—2008's first must own release—a DVD by French punker freaks Cheveu, and the new Earth album, among other awesome things. Stay tuned!

Buy it at Insound!

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