SEWERS OF MARS #12

Music Features
SEWERS OF MARS #12
By
May 22, 2008, 15:02

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A likely food shortage? Four American dollars for a gallon of gas? Friggin' tornadoes fer chrissakes? It's a darn good thing there's been so much killer music this month. Otherwise I might start talking apocalypse and loading up on canned goods and batteries. Instead I'm talking Columbus Discount Records and stocking up on stuff on the S-s label. Carpe diem, motherfuckers!

 Sun City Girls - Mister Lonely

First up this month is the soundtrack to Harmony Korine's latest film Mister Lonely (Drag City). Korine's soundtracks—like his films—are always sublime exercises in surreal what-the-fuckness, and for the soundtrack to Mister Lonely, he dispensed with his compilation / mixtape style and commissioned Sun City Girls and J Spaceman of Spacemen 3 / Spiritualized fame. While not a collaboration (good golly what would that have sounded like?) both Spacemen and the Gals bring the dada something fierce, with Spacemen offering up drowsy instrumental tunes that sound like the Dead Man soundtrack's reformed-doper-now-a-Jehovah's-Witness cousin, while Sun City Girls' trademark ‘no-trademark' sound finds them in minimal guitar / chant mode. Killer.

Speaking of Sun City Girls, have you heard the first volume of the singles collection, You're Never Alone With A Cigarette: Singles Volume 1? You say you haven't? Maybe you meant to click on some other site? For Sun City Girls fans, this compilation is essential – recorded in 1988 during the sessions for the band's seminal Torch of the Mystics CD, You're Never Alone With A Cigarette (title taken from the band's 7” of the same name, included here) includes five tracks from early singles on the Majora label (including the previously unavailable full-length version of “The Fine Tuned Machines of Lemuria”), all three tracks from the first half of the Three Fake Female Orgasms 2x7” (still one of their finest singles), and various other stray tracks that were off the radar of even this diehard SCG junkie. As for the quality of the material, the compilation perfectly encapsulates the sound of the band from this creatively fertile period, covering the peaks of their particular peculiar brand of instrumental ethno esoteria without any of the valleys (Abduction).

 Rocket From The Tombs - The Day the Earth Met The

Also on the reissue front: the Smog Veil label did the world a service by originally releasing The Day The Earth Met The Rocket From The Tombs, as close to a career retrospective of the well known but little heard Cleveland punk demigods as ever we're going to see, and I just got my hands on a new version licensed to German label Glitterhouse. I have a hard rule about not honoring reissues as ‘album of the month,' but I almost had to swallow it on this one. Surely my head will be hunted for proclaiming such a thing, but I say unto you now that Rocket From The Tombs, had they survived long enough to reach their full potential, would have been the equal of The Stooges. Like an even weirder, more inscrutable Electric Eels, Rocket From The Tombs comprised all of punk's adventure and nihilism and predicted it's later, artier pretenses. Led by the enigmatic Crocus Behemoth (aka David Thomas, later of Pere Ubu – duh) and doomed Guitarist Peter Laughner, the band also featured pre-Dead Boys Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Madanski on bass and drums, respectively, and a guitarist named Craig Bell. This set of elusive Rocket From The Tombs material (the band never set foot in a studio) is a veritable treasure trove, including rehearsal tapes and live recordings dating back to 1975 (the band were together less than a year). Pere Ubu fans will surely need these super primitive early recordings of “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” “Final Solution” and Laughner's classic “Life Stinks.” The sound quality is what you'd expect—muddy, raw and perfect. Add covers of The Stooges, Velvets and even a very brief go at the Stones, and you have the 2008 reissue to beat, friends. With all the modern Midwest punk inzanity going on right now, The Day The Earth Met…should be at the top of your want list. Only bummer is, hearing the immense promise of the band on these tracks is a bit of a bittersweet listen, leaving you unable to keep from wondering what might have been. It's like finally finding your soul mate—but just in time for them to die of pancreatic cancer. Isn't it ironic? Life stinks.Â

Awesomely named Cameron Stallones plays in California psych revivalists Magic Lantern, but when flying solo he is Sun Araw, a one man guitarmy who employs feedback-as-time-machine principles to beat the band. His latest, The Phynx (Not Not Fun) is a heady stew of unhurried post-Perfect Prescription sonic mesmerism, complete with insomniac chants, deep unsettling drone, clattering percussion, and the occasional ornery burst of noise. The bluesy song forms throughout are refreshing, especially on the almost poppy “Harken Sawshine,” which provides a nice respite from the rabbit hole.

Dave Shuford is a busy man. When not fronting the amazing D Charles Speer Band (see Sewers of Mars #9), performing with Adam Mortimer in Egypt is the Magick #, playing bass in Coach Fingers, or functioning as one of the many arms of the monster that is No Neck Blues Band, he makes time for Enos Slaughter,

his baseball-themed improv project with Carter Thornton (Izititixz) and Marc Orleans (Sunburned Hand of the Man, The Helix). The band's latest, Béisbol, follows their excellent Saloth Sar CD and finds the band stretching out over three vinyl sides. The sounds on these nine tracks—one for each inning—creep along wickedly, more ominous murmur than mighty roar. To employ an overused analogy, the sound of Béisbol is like tuning into some celestial radio, where disembodied snippets of otherworldy sounds occasionally peak through the din. Not an easy listen, but a rewarding one. Three Lobed, being one of the more generous labels operating today, offers, as usual, a free CD copy of the album with the purchase of vinyl, and extravagant, classic-looking packaging, so no excuses.Â

How many reviews of great punk bands begin with “named after a parasitic worm....”? Ok, only a few, but Columbus's long-running and under-recorded Guinea Worms have just unleashed a righteous 7” called Box Of Records on the always reliable Columbus Discount label. A-side and title track is a celebration of geekdom, it's refrain “There's really nothing better than a box of records” is surely a sentiment many of you beard stroking regular readers of this column can relate to. Those of us currently languishing behind the counter in small, independent record stores across the US might respectfully disagree (every box that gets brought in here is choking with Herb Alpert and Eagles LPs), but maybe things are cooler in Ohio. Actually, things are totally cooler in Ohio, especially these days. Anyway, the B-side “I'm A Cobweb” is even better, a punishing garage punk epic at nearly five minutes. And all lovingly fucked with by—who else?—Mike Rep. Get it!

 The Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending a Night In

I've been following John Dwyer's myriad projects since Pink and Brown, and it's been a good few years for a John Dwyer fan. The last album by Thee Oh Sees, Sucks Blood, was a wobbly folk masterpiece, perfect for narcotic mornings after. The band's latest is the superbly titled The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending The Night In, and finds the band expanding to a four piece and cleaning up the sound just slightly. The style here is less folk-based than Sucks Blood, and more propulsive garage rock with surf overtones, unison male / female vocals, and stoned, Motown style grooves. While certain stylistic choices render several tracks indistinguishable from others (“Ghost In The Trees” is a dead ringer for opener “Block of Ice”), the overall effect here is quite sublime, and Dwyer's winning streak continues unabated.

The Sewers of Mars pick for “record of the month” is a no-brainer this installment—The Hospitals' self-released Hairdryer Peace will rightfully rank alongside Harsh 70s Reality, Ride A Dove, and Put The Music In It's Coffin as a bona fide underground classic and barometer by which all inevitable imitators shall forever be judged. Previous releases have been awe-inspiring rackets of garage noise deconstruction, but Hairdryer Peace is something of a reinvention for a band that didn't really even need one. Nevertheless, the duo of Adam Stonehouse and Rod Meyer are aided and abetted here by Rob Enbom (of Eat Skull) and Chris Gunn, and the resulting album is chock full of killer riffs, acid-fried, nightmarish vocals mixed uncomfortably high, hallucinatory snippets of found audio, cracked acoustic blues, and dissonant pop, all wound together into one mighty, heaping, black, psychedelic nightmare. The brilliant, confessional lyrics belie a tragic, paranoid early adulthood, the kind of pathos that simply cannot be faked (see also: Pink Reason). Dig this: “I'm stressing out/ I can't control the patterns on the tile floor.” Genius. Hairdryer Peace is the surprise—and possibly album—of the year. No foolin.'

Next month: another contender for album of the year (hint: the singer's a Jew), some hipster-proof ‘above ground' picks, and, as per request, some unfavorable reviews. Watch your back.

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