SEWERS OF MARS #13

Music Features
SEWERS OF MARS #13
By
Jun 13, 2008, 07:38

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In an attempt to overcome his fear of rats, G. Gordon Liddy killed and devoured one. Do something to better your self this month, dear reader, even if it doesn't involve digesting a rodent. You can start by checking out some of these fine records and skipping the “fourth meal,” whaddya say?  Â

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No Age - Nouns

The very nature of being a rock critic—one with scruples, anyway—is having to occasionally eat crow. This month, I officially revise my opinion on No Age, whom I called “Japanther without the tunes” in Sewers #1. Their latest for Sub Pop, Nouns, is every bit as good a record as the sickening hype has led you to believe. The emphasis on songwriting is refreshing, even more so because these guys actually know how to write tunes. For the record though, just to check myself, I went back and gave Weirdo Rippers another shot, and, well, I still ain't feeling it, so there.

Saba Lou's debut 7” on Rob's House is a knockout. The prepubescent daughter of King Khan (who backs her up here), Saba Lou's tunes deal with complicated personal relationships, freedom of expression, and feeling displaced. "My First Day of School" oozes more pathos, uncertainty and self-doubt than a hundred celibate emo losers carrying a hundred left-handed acoustic guitars. Vocally, Saba-Lou is a dead ringer for a slightly (and only slightly) more tonally challenged Shirley Temple, and King Khan wisely hangs back and lets the little girl do her thing. This will not be her last glowing review.

Been spinning this Haunted George / Lamps split tour 7” (In The Red) a bit lately. The gimmick is that each band covers the other's songs, and while Lamps give a decent aggro punk rendering of Haunted George's “Pile 'O' Meat,” The Haunted One himself strikes gold here with Lamps' "Ron Campbell." George's delayed vocals create a strange looping / loping effect that mesmerizes and horrifies, transcending the usually boring one-man band aesthetic. Like The Cramps on black magick. For serious.

Ex-Cocaine are one of my favorite bands of the past few years, and their latest split with the recently disbanded Yellow Swans—released by the always consistent Not Not Fun label—is their best yet. Edging closer to the burnout loner-with-a-bongo style of their debut as opposed to the more scorching and psychedelic Siltbreeze LP, the two songs here—including a Meat Puppets cover—are time-stretching odes to being mellow in the face of full-blown apocalypse. As for the Yellow Swans side, it's more of the same, with the band in their full-blown screech and terrorize mode, pleasant enough but a tad predictable at this point.

Traditional Fools are an extremely righteous band of young punks from San Francisco making a pretty nice racket on their debut 7” on Chocolate Covered Records. Look past the recent coverage of the band in Thrasher and get down with their particular brand of stoned garage punk, especially “Rock And Roll Baby,” which is equal parts Stooges and Circle Jerks. Surf's definitely up.

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Mudhoney - The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones is the latest by Mudhoney and coincides with the long overdue reissue of the band's seminal Superfuzz Bigmuff CD. Sub Pop didn't send me that one, so instead I'll tell you about how refreshingly little has changed about the Seattle rock pioneers since that album. The Lucky Ones is a great Mudhoney album, nothing less, nothing more, and if that isn't enough for you, well, enjoy your Radiohead box set, you pretentious sissy. The rhythmically dense “The Open Mind” (with its soon to be classic lyrics “The open mid / is an empty mind / so I keep mine closed”) recalls Black Flag, “What's This Thing” one-ups The Kinks by proudly exclaiming “I'm just like everybody else!,” and “We Are Rising” is a swampy burner that gives modern psych posers a run for their money. Hail the conquering heroes!

The Animal Disguise label is becoming a force to be reckoned with. I won't even go on and on about how great the Sic Alps singles collection, The Long Way Around a Shortcut is, because, frankly, I'm sure even the most casual readers of this forum are tired of me gushing over that band, (it is stellar though). But two other new releases on the label—Mammal's Lonesome Drifter and Eloe Omoe's Marauders—are total winners as well. Mammal's latest is a welcome change from the post-American Tapes gabba noise plundering of the past and finds our hero Gary Beauvais (also Animal Disguise label head) still touching on all manner of distorted darkness and despair, but employing repeated melodies, drum machines and creepy minimalist songwriting to get it across; Very cool. Eloe Omoe are a bass / drums duo from Charlestown, MA, and their crotchety, spastic noise assault is equal parts Ruins and Doug Snyder and Bob Thompson's classic Daily Dance LP. Bet they slay live. Keep 'em coming!

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Free Kitten - Inherit

Free Kitten's release schedule belies a very laid back approach, with only four full lengths in fifteen years, but their latest, Inherit, on Ecstatic Peace!

is perhaps their best. Kim Gordon's songs sound like tunes that were rejected form the last few Sonic Youth records for being too sexy, while Julia Cafritz's offerings—especially the herky-jerky bounce “Bananas”—prove she is still someone to keep tabs on. The sprawling "Free Kitten On The Mountain" is another highlight, clocking in at over seven minutes and more reminiscent of Sonic Youth's more transcendent moments circa Washing Machine than, say, an epic by The Frumpies. Totally rad, wastoid teenage metalhead style cover art just adds to the fun here. But where's Ibold?!

Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, the latest by Silver Jews (Drag City), is a masterpiece, and I'll fight anyone who says different. I've been listening to this album almost every day since I first snagged a copy back in February (ssshh, don't tell!), and it's only grown on me since then. From the Mamas and the Papas-esque “Suffering Jukebox” to the sublime cover of Maher Shalal Hash Baz's "Open Field," these are some of David Berman's best songs in years, and a bigger emphasis on the vocals of Cassie Berman is a welcome addition. Quoting Berman's lyrics seems silly, as the entire album is pretty darn quotable, but I'll leave you with one of my favorites, from “San Francisco, BC”:  “Old San Francisco / San Francisco B.C. / I lived with my true love and she lived with me / "Romance is the douche of the bourgeoisie" / Was the very first thing she imparted to me / We had sarcastic hair, we used lewd pseudonyms / We got a lot of stares on the street back then.”  Sarcastic hair!

Having toured tirelessly and stupidly for many years, I played the unlikely hot spot of Columbia, Missouri no less than three times one summer. Don't ask me how—logistically the cursed itinerary is still a mystery—but I can probably tell you why. The chance to play a gig with that city's Jerusalem and the Starbaskets always made it a worthwhile and necessary stop. Basically a duo (although sometimes augmented by other members), Jerusalem and the Starbaskets play unfashionable, unpretentious and completely devastating pop music, and they're one of my all time favorite live bands. Criminally under-recorded up until now (with only a handful of impossibly rare cassettes and a split LP with Skarkraou Radio to their name), their brand new The Howling LP (Radio Fonico) is a great sampling of their unique vibe, sounding like the third Velvets LP played by The Terminals. Note the righteous guitar tone any stoner rock Chud would envy, and catchy, infectious tunes (with a recent emphasis on country melodies) that will stay in your head for weeks. Completely necessary and great. Album of the month!

I know you all miss the metal reviews, so next month, metal up your ass! Also, yay or nay on the new round of Siltbreeze titles, and, God willing, a review of the new Endless Boogie LP on No Quarter. Enjoy your rodent, moonface.

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