Monday, August 17, 2009


It's been a crazy couple of months for me. I know not many people read this blog, but hopefully, if you've just come across it or have been here in the past you can still cull some goodies from the meager depths. In the near future, when I get some time, I hope to put some more good shit up. Until then, peace!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dead C - Hi God People | Split LP

Was going through some older vinyl trying to decide if there's anything else at all I can contribute to the vast world of underground sound on the net. I found this out there, but the link was dead, so here's a good rip for ya'.

The ghastly churning grey-noise of the Dead C shares physical space with the psych-folk-strum/pluck and aborigine-beat sound of the Hi God People, both creating metaphysical and foreign sounds aimed at those with a desire for exploration and shocks to reality.

Pure underground excellence, and better than watching the U.S. open or living in North Korea. Released in 2006 w/ beautiful hand-screened covers by Dylan Martorell of Hi God People.

Flourish in the improv aether.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

City of Churches | Memelust 7"

Named after the town where I grew up (not really, but it easily could be.) Anyway, City of Churches is about as antithetical to church as you can get. Packing 62 songs on a 7" leaves little room for filler, so what you get here is some masterfully executed, pure straight-forward relentless and frenzied speed-prog-grind being played like there's no tomorrow. I hope you can forgive me, because I didn't separate the tracks.

In your face.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mule | ST LP

On a slight early 90's kick here. . .

I had a friend in high school who dipped Days Of Work chaw and liked MGD. He liked to get drunk and drive backroads tipping cows and shooting road signs with his grandpa's 12 gauge. This was his second favorite album right after Steve Earl's Copperhead Road.

Get you some low down chaw infested dirty ass backwoods wife-beating, cheap beer and whiskey drinking, non-law-abidin' punk rock riffage right here.

Friends of Jesus Lizard or Boss Hog will be especially interested.

Babyland | 1991 EP

The unabashed eclecticism continues. . .

Brian Turner was playing some Babyland on his WFMU show (possibly the best radio show on the net) the other day and I had forgotten how fucked up over the top these dudes were. Techno-thrashfest cum industrial cheese-wad fuckery to the max. Like a rave full of Tesco Vee lookalikes drunk on whiskey and tripping on bad acid while tooling for anus, and then Ogre comes in and kicks all their leather-clad asses. So dumb as hell yet somehow damn good. Motor.Tool.Appliance must be cranked to 10, and you must mosh to it without shame every time you listen to it. If you don't, the cyberpunk Gods will permanantly implant an earworm of Temple of the Dog's Hunger Strike in your brain while your sleeping.

I think this is floating around out there in very low bitrate, but here's a hq vinyl rip for anybody that might be interested. And basically these are the best four tracks on the You Suck Crap album (with the exception of Reality) which is hit or miss on the rest of the tracks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sean Mccann | Boomerangutan & Sway Cdr's

Jane Pow, Tar, now Sean McCann. . . yeah, I know, I'm crazy.

McCann runs neck and neck with Prurient for most prolific man in the experimental underground. Much like the aforementioned noise guru, a surprising majority of McCann's work is excellent, and you will be hard pressed to find a release of his that isn't worthy of at least one listen.

McCan took off on his musical journey with Boomerangutan in early 2008, and hasn't slowed down, disseminating his spectral sounds on cassette and Cd-r (15 releases proper by my count) but so far nothing on vinyl. Hopefully that will change soon. While McCann gambles with being overly prolific with this many releases, he's also got the skills and the creative capital in the bank to back him up if the dice don't roll his way from time to time.

Boomerangutan consists of 16 untitled tracks ranging in length from 1:26 to 8:38 long, which is a refreshing change from the 20-30 minute long-players which are so prevalent these days. I'm not trying to decry the lengthy tunes, as many times the form is dictated by the nature of improv explorations. That is, it just takes that long for some pieces to culminate and become fully realized. McCann, however, has a knack for packing his shorter tracks to overflowing with interesting and dynamic sounds, each component carefully crafted and placed as to attain utmost efficiency. The economy of his sound, if you will, leaves nothing to waste.

Boomerangutan begins by introducing us to an abundance of disparate but well mixed sounds that congeal in a murky pool whose depth is somewhat concealed upon initial listens, but clears upon subsequent evaluations. A mashup of apparent found sounds, echoing chants, and tribal drumming, all warbling through tape hiss and a distant shoegazed guitar sheen (ala My Bloody Valentine) create an atmosphere of enchantment which never lulls or dulls.

Space-synth notes fluctuate in between the ever-mutating drones as an undergrowth of sound thickens and spawns colorful blooms of noise, mimicking the collaged cover-art of the release. A metallic hue, subtly evident during Boomerangutan's initial tracks, begins to take over the proceedings, pushing the releases essential rhythms and ubiquitous loops into outer-territories, flirting with pure noise and creating a paradox of musical emotion as the dilatory pace is antagonised by the harsher elements of the overall sound. Eventually this bipolarity drives the inmates insane, and a cacophony of inhuman voices overwhelms all but the endless electronic hum and some steady maraca-like percussion, leaving an unsettling feeling behind.

Throughout its remainder, Boomerangutan fluctuates between airy and reflective drones, desultory experiments with large arrays of obscure instruments, pure pedal and synth din, banjo strumming on ramshackle porches with steel guitar accompaniment, and soulful guitar meanderings, obviously lessening in intensity over time, but never losing its anxiety, an element which serves it well, keeping it alert and focused throughout its 72 minutes. The consistency here never becomes boring, and its creativity never goes over the top. Mccann manages to keep affairs intact and focused while wrangling a panoply of unique sounds out of a multitude of sources. Versatility and vision meet controlled chaos as seen through a kaleidoscope of sound.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of these two early on, and a quick search did not indicate they're available anywhere, so here they are now for your consumption.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tar | Clincher

Tar, "One of the most underappreciated bands of the 90's." Truer words (as uttered by jspdilla on RYM) have not been said. This album has only 18 ratings at RYM, which is truly amazing, considering how good all of Tar's work was.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tar | Teetering b/w The In Crowd

To be filed under more long lost 90's greatness. Don't know what it is, but groups like this who seriously slayed have seemingly been completely forgotten. You never hear any love for bands like Tar or Godheadsilo or Karp etc. It's like the entire 90's sludge/metal/am-rep punk underground has been skipped over, and all you hear groups now tallking about influence wise is either krautrock, psych or drone. There's an entire lexicon of exceptional underground rock from the the early to mid 90's that folks need to get back to. It all basically comes and goes from one place, so this genre-montheism can fuck off.

Thanks to Shiny Grey Monotone for posting these Tar singles and reminding how good Tar were. Oh, and here's some more Tar goodies at The Power of Independent Trucking that should also help cure your noise rock fix for a while.

indie rock that is really indie rock

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jane Pow | Warm Room b/w Shut Down

Ok, we’re going to go in a totally different direction with this one. Jane Pow were a indie power-pop band from Southhampton, England who sailed to the states via the Slumberland label. They put out a few singles and the Love It Be It LP, but faded away quickly following the steps of many of their peers.

The A side, Warm Room, is more melancholy and atmospheric than the more rock-like numbers on the Love It Be It LP (and CD of which the two single tracks were included), a feeling which I think worked much pretty for the band, as the LP seemed a bit inconsistent and somewhat off-kilter, which is not to say it doesn't have it's standout moments. The B side, Shut Down, is a good straight forward power-pop song with some good guitar and killer drums.

This single spent plenty of time spinning on my roommate/best friend's Pioneer turntable back in the day, and helped me through many a blue period. This is a pretty timeless record from an age when things didn't seem so damn cynical, and endless joy could be found in simplicity. But I'm sure all people say that as they grow older, as the adage "the more things change, the more they stay the same" always seems to hold true. So enough of that. I hope you find this music as ethereal and meaningful as I did, and still do.

Warm Room/Shut Down

This Jane Pow site says the full-length is LP only, but you can actually get the CD reissue direct from Slumberland for $8.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Youth of the Beast | Lantern 7"

They've been putting something good and quite possibly highly hallucinogenic in the water up in Iowa City the past few years because that little town has been spawning good sounds left and right. A lot of it revolves around the Raccoo-oo-oon camp, so it's all high caliber.

Keywords to hone in on in this Arbor blurb about this 2007 release; primitive electronics, basement, noise, psychedelic, saxophone scrawl, epic percussion, etc. They're saying all the right words, but this ain't no all bark and no bite biz.

Youth of the Beast is pure primitive electronics, suffocating saxophone scrawl and epic percussion. Acting as the solo output for Raccoo-oo-oon’s Andy Spore, this record is YOTB’s first vinyl offering following up a few tapes on Night People and Fuck It Tapes. Blistering vocal screeches and mixer feedback blasts meld with stray tones as brass wails and drums are pounded. Spore is a master of channeling the spirits right into the basement where he crafts his jams, creating a captivating mass of noise and psychedelic signals crossing for a painfully beautiful 10 minutes. Breathless sax solos and massive tribal percussion interspersed throughout. The sum of all these parts is something intense, unknown; an ever evolving sonic creature as bleak as it is restless. In an edition of 315 records with EPIC xeroxed double sided/double foldover (you’ll understand it when you see it) sleeves and printed labels by Spore.

A quick Google search didn't indicate this one was out there so get your grubby hands on it.

Post Alarmist Dracula Safai

Post Alarmist droogs getting it back on. Featuring Inca Ore, Ghost to Falco, Tunnels and Argumentix. Alarmist existed from 2004-2005, and you may ask yourself what makes them so goddamn important that they get a tribute album? Who the hell knows the answer to that, but I do know this is one kick-ass comp. A quick look at the RYM ratings (all two of them) for Alarmist's Evil Works Get Rich or Try Dying Evil Works album gets a whopping 1.20 rating. WTF do RYMer's know! Anyway, this is good stuff so here's the weirdness.

Friday, April 24, 2009

4/23/2010 | National Hammer and Sickle T-shirt day

Due to this unfortunate episode, I proclaim the first annual National Hammer and Sickle T-shirt day shall be April 23, 2010. Get one and wear it proudly!

And kudos to the Flaming Lips for rising above it all, and truly showing how they are, and always shall be true Oklahoma Icons that care more about people than popularity and getting votes.

Update. Just found this . . . Wayne's response.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Bloody Valentine | Palladium Ballroom | Dallas, Tx 4-22-09

Dave Chappelle had a skit on his show that explained the differences between what white folks and black folks liked in music. It was freaking hilarious, and basically showed how much rhythm and style black folks have when it comes to music, and how us white folks dig the noisy guitar-driven stuff. So, as I was standing there sipping on a Crown and Coke and blissfully taking the pummeling from MBV's guitar barrage, it dawned on me that they are in fact the epitome of white folks music, and that is not at all a bad thing.

MBV are loud, somewhat aggressive in a non-threatening way, and noisy as hell with the vocals and rhythm section taking backseat to the effects pedal-chained guitars, a fact that is even more evident in their live show than it is on their albums, which are noisy and raw enough in and of themselves. As I stood there taking it all in, I noticed something very interesting, people were hardly moving. At first I thought maybe the crowd wasn't into it, but that wasn't it at all. Everybody was mesmerized, as MBV's sound is hypnotic, repetitive, and in an emotional way, moving.

Thus, attending an MBV show is to experience a ritual. The sounds as evinced by the pulsating and subtly rhythmic guitars mix with the sights as shown by the customary background film footage and the slight rocking, trance-like movements of the band; both coming together in the end, producing a deafening wall of noise which is completed by syncopated flashes of light which cover the darkness of the motionless crowd. The experience is not only visual and aural, it is physical, as your entire body is actually shaken and the hair on your head and arms is blown back by an actual breeze that is produced by the huge wall of guitar feedback, much like the blows of a concert kick-drum, but somehow more surreal and limitless.


I was planning on posting some photos here, but forgot my camera at the hotel, so all I got where some crappy cell phone pics that aren't even worth publishing here. However, here's some good photos I found of flickr you can check out if your interested.

flickr MBV

Also, check out the My Bloody Valentine cover of Map Ref 41N 93W in the previous post. Wow!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Whore: A Tribute to Wire

As far as tribute albums go, this one sets the standard. Whore takes on a life of its own, while never forgetting its heritage. I've had this album in my collection for going on fifteen years, and it never ceases to amaze; just like the originals.

A 1990's menagerie of seminal bands including Bark Psychosis, My Bloody Valentine, Fudge Tunnel, Godflesh, Lush, Band of Susans, and one of the godfathers of Post-Punk, Mike Watt.

consummate strangeness

Thursday, April 16, 2009

COOP Ale Works Do Not Resuscitate Belgian Style Golden Ale

Brand new from the recently established COOP Ale Works, and the "biggest beer brewed in Oklahoma." Weighing in at 10% ABV this one packs a nice punch, but the intricacies and attention to craftsmanship are what make this beer what it is. I tried this at Mcnellie's pub in OKC a few weeks ago, and it was served in a pint glass. At that time I appreciated the beer, and there was no doubt it was a good beer, but it wasn't until last night when I requested it in a snifter did it's aromas and flavors truly reveal themselves. There's proof positive that glassware does in fact make a difference, so don't settle if you don't have to. Now that doesn't mean go out and make a beer-snob ass out of yourself over glassware either. Ok, enough of the spiel, on to the beer.

Color is a bright, slightly hazy orange and there's a nice off-white covering of dense froth. A few long lines of lacing exist and stick around for the duration. Vanilla, light fruits (pears, oranges, grapes) and spicy aromas waft to the nose. Tastes of big sweet malts which surround more spices, toffee and sweet bread. There's a quick hint of graininess toward the end. The alcohol heat is noticeable, but not overwhelming, and it in no way detracts from the other elements and the overall experience. Mouth-feel is medium plus, and it goes down smooth and a bit more creamy than expected, hovering close to tripel territory in that sense.

I'm not going to deny that I have some local bias on this one, but trust me, it is an excellent example of the style. Chase Healy and the fellows at COOP really have their hand on the pulse of where beer is going, and they know how to translate that knowledge into great beer. Apparently, and in addition to the Native Amber ale which is already available, they have a porter, a wheat, and a "cervesa" (sounds interesting) on the way, but I'll have to be honest, I'm really looking forward to another bigger brew from these guys, as this one turns out to be a great initial move that should put them on the craft beer map.

COOP Ale Works

Mcnellie's Pub

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Electric Annihilation zine

20 pages of pure noise-psych-punk excellence here. Just like the old days when you had to send SASE's (self addressed stamped envelope for you youngsters) to get your favorite zines, this one is only mail-order, and that's completely bad-ass. Includes interviews with Wet Hair, Emeralds, John Olson of Wolf Eyes, Sun Araw, and superheros Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore. I've thumbed through this issue and there's some awesome concert pics, along with the customary Rollins "I'm going to kick your fucking ass" photo. The Cameron Stallones (Sun Araw) interview, which is the only one I've had a chance to read was enlightening as he explains the creative process and the influences behind his otherworldly sounds, which made me anxious to get to the rest of the zine. It's $3, and that's just 19 cents more than a medium vanilla malt at Braums. WTF are you waiting on?


Group Bombino

Group Bombino, Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2, the follow up to Group Inerane, Guitars from Agadez Vol. 1, begs the question, could it get any better? The answer, as with any question dealing with music, is highly subjective. Both albums consist of some of the most intense, soulful, unique, and satisfying tunes to come out in the last few years, and that is something that really can't be argued.

While Group Bombino may initially lack the distortion and immediacy of Group Inerane, they still retain the most important elements unique to both releases, and that's the transcendental and transportive aspects that exist throughout all the songs. The sublimating properties take us to higher places, while the foreign sound and feel takes us to more exotic locales. The softer approach taken by Group Bombino makes this trip a bit more laid back, less extreme and dangerous, but in many ways deeper and more intricate, allowing for a more intimate experience.

Even when you turn the record over to Side B, and Group Bombino introduce electric guitars, the unhurried attitude is not lost, and the deep rhythms and grooves are still present. Side B seems to be recorded in a live setting, or a maybe a more "livelier" setting (the entire album is a field recording as was Vol. 1) as it sounds like it was possibly presented to the recording crew with an audience that the first side did not have. You can vividly imagine yourself sitting among the Taureg in their remote desert village, listening to the steady and subtle drum rhythms, constant funky guitar movements, and realizing how important music is to these people, and how much talent (creative and technical) that these musicians have.

I'll have to admit that at first Group Bombino seemed a bit of a let down to me, and I don't quite know why. Maybe it was the lack of initial electricity so evident with Group Inerane, as maybe I was looking for something to rock out to. But after a few listens the complexity of harmony and composition truly showed itself, and now I can't keep this record off the turntable. With all that I've said, I don't want it to seem that the laid back atmosphere of Group Bombino is in any way antipodean to Group Inerane's excitement, as the both serve as near perfect compliments to each other.

seek and you shall find

Friday, March 27, 2009

Herds | Spring b/w Katmai | Self-titled 7"

Brutality meets finesse and fist fucks its way into a frenzy. Awesome change-ups, mosh-pit aggression, and tight guitar switchbacks make this some of the best hardcore I've heard in years. You can tell when a band has control of the chaos, and these guys have ultimate control. The instrumentation is tight; the vocals mean and tested.

In a way, you're heard it all before, but what haven't you heard before? There's nothing wrong with perfecting a true and tested style, and Herds perfect the shit out of hardcore. While there's so many new sounds being explored these days, and while some could argue hardcore ran it's course many years ago, it pays to keep to the basics and not judge a record by its genre. Ultimate punk goodness for friends of SSD, B'last, the Effigies, Die Kreuzen, and Negative Approach.

Buy the ST 7" at Fashionable Idiots.

Grab the sold out Spring b/w Katmai 7" here.

I personally think the ST is the better of the two, and it's only $4. So if you still appreciate the good shit grab it while you can.

Magik Markers | The Voldoror Dance

The Voldoror Dance, released as a limited edition through the Southern Records Latitudes series in late 2007, is perhaps my favorite Magik Markers release, with the exception of Boss. Taking into consideration its expansive qualities and scope, and how hard it is to pull off improv sound over long periods of time (2 of the 4 songs are over 20 minutes, and one is almost 15 minutes long) and comparing it to Boss' song-oriented approach, which we're finding out is actually working out well for the Markers, The Voldoror Dance still gives Boss a run for its money, eventually being beat out by a half-length in a photo finish by the fact that Boss is more of a consistent record throughout.

The Markers can pull the long-player noise rock off well, and they keep things interesting when they lock in the groove. Unlike some bands that tend to black out in an epileptic fit of pure boring noise while exploring the frontiers, straying too far from the pack and getting lost in a wilderness of desultory noise, The Magik Markers maintain the focus (in most cases). So if you want a good dose of Elisa's angsty, echoing and yes, sexy vocals, mixed with Pete Nolan's unwavering drumming, all drenched in the feedback, sub-shoegaze, wah-pedal driven wall of sound that the Markers are known for, then take advantage of the wonders of the internet age and DL this shit now.

Dance Magic

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bear Republic | Big Bear Black Stout

This is by no means a new or unique beer, but it's new to me, as Oklahoma is always a few years behind on everything, if not decades. But the way I figure it, the more people that are turned on to good beer in these parts, the more the top tier craft breweries will take notice of this state, and the better the chances we'll be getting better distributorship. So, when I get the chance to promote something I believe in, I don't pass it up. Just ask my friend and family, who are probably sick of hearing about beer.

All that being said, there are some good things happening on the beer front here, as Marshall brewing in Tulsa has established itself, and COOP Ale Works in OKC is taking off, so it's becoming apparent that Oklahoma definitely has some good beer lovers who are ready and willing to support the tasty stuff. Also, let us not forget to mention Choc Beer Company, the original Oklahoma craft brewers, who were making Choc beer way before craft was cool, and who gave the big bird to the man, as home/small-batch-brewing was not always legal.

Ok, let's get to the beer.

A thin, bubbly, dark tan head disappears after a minute or so and leaves some small spots of lacing behind. Color is pitch-black and ominous. Toasted malts, burnt sugar, taffy and dark chocolates float to the nose. After your olfactory sense filters through those complexities, a subtle earthiness and some pine push through.

Initially tastes of deep, dark chocolate with little to no sweetness noticeable. Big roasted malts come into play right before a nice hop bitterness is noticed. Underneath it all exists some very slight caramel sweetness, an almond nuttiness and a nice alcohol heat. Mouth-feel is on the heavy side of medium. It goes down smooth and doesn't weigh on the stomach. A quick shake results in a good blast of carbonation bubbles, which leads to an openness on the palate.

Many times Russian Imperial Stouts can be cloying or terribly unbalanced. This is not the case with the Big Bear, as Bear Republic, who don't seem to be able to do any wrong, have made another near-perfect brew.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taurpis Tula | Sparrows

OOP improv goodness from the much beloved and down to earth (check out her TMT and Digitalis interviews) Heather Leigh Murray of Charalambides and Scorces fame, and David Keenan, editor of Wire magazine. This is spacious vocal/ambient/drone beatification of the highest order. The furtive lushness implicit in its demeanor melds into its steely atmosphere, and the chamber-like emptiness never overwhelms the dreaminess as much as it keeps things from completely floating away.

Fecundity blurs the boundaries between the average and the exceptional, but time is quickly separating the extraordinary from the mediocre, and albums such as Sparrows are evidence that great things can fly away, but sometimes also come back to nest.

Released in 2004 on Eclipse records

get down make love

Rogue XS Imperial Younger's Special Bitter

Had this out of one of the newer Rogue black XS series 750 ml ceramics. Not for sure if Rogue's pulling a Brett Favre or not here as supposedly this one is retired. Anyway, a prolific, bubbly tan head sits patiently atop a dark amber brew. Retention is excellent, and when it finally recedes, a dense, chunky lacing is left behind.

Smells of earthy, piny hops, with some faint citrus in the background. Tastes of more piny hops and faint citrus. Following the hops some caramel malts come into play, mixing perfectly. Eventually some faint dark chocolates and honey are also noticed floating around the palate, adding extra taste and texture, and reflecting the choice ingredients used. Mouth-feel lies on the heavy side of medium, and there's a fair amount of carbonation. At 52 IBU's this one is probably not going to excite the extreme hopheads, but the bitterness is noticeable, and most importantly it works in concert with the other elements in the brew.

The XS beers do seem a bit pricey, but everybody has to figure out for themselves how much a beer is worth, and ultimately the market, and the politics of beer (as Rogue's ethics have been called into question more than once) will decide what price these brews can sustain. You must also keep in mind that 750ml equates to over 25 ounces, so you are getting a little more than you would in a regular 22 oz. bomber, if that makes you feel any better.

Axolotl / Inca Ore | Split 7"

Long gone but not forgotten psychedelic drone/vocal explorations from Axolotl and Eva Inca Ore. This is an Arbor recordings release, so you know it's going to be tight. I couldn't find this one on the net (which doesn't mean it's not out there) so I figured I would share it with you fine folks. All two of you, one of which includes my wife.

As usual here's the highest quality .mp3 rip from clean vinyl and impeccable source.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Barn Owl / Tom Carter | Split LP

By their very nature, the words drone and noise have negative connotations. I mean, have you ever heard anybody say, "boy, I love that drone coming from that broken AC unit in the apartment next door", or "wow, don't you just love that noise coming from the construction site across the street." Further contemplation on the subject, with a focus on the proliferation of drone and noise musics over the past few years, may lead one to immediately marginalize the movement due to the sheer negativity associated with it.

In many cases the marginalization of noise would be validated by the numbers of groups/individuals simply stringing together affects pedals or plucking a detuned guitar string while repeatedly singing the same monotonous note and never developing an unique identity or furthering the cause. Homogeneity is never good, but all forms of music are susceptible to the trap of sameness that can stultify creativy, with the drone and noise movments perhaps more susceptible to this than other styles/genres due to the ease of entry into the club (your mind and some cheap equipment). However, one must be careful not to sublimate craft and virtuosity over exploration and independence.

With last years Split LP, Barn Owl and Tom Carter have found a good symbiosis between the nobility of skill and talent and the credibility of experimentation and improvisation, a progression which sculpts and works toward a mastery of noise, taming it with well chosen tools of the trade and awareness of history, while also letting it run free with an adventuresome spirit when need be. Barn Owl fills the A side with 3 tracks of medium length (5-9 minutes). This gives them just enough time to create energy and build their sound without losing the listener. It is a strategy that works well here, which is not to say they aren't capable of pulling off longer songs.

Track 1, Flight Of Annhinga, glides across a barren landscape before entering a dark chamber where fluted echos dance between walls in a sublime ritual, trancelike at first, then finding its way back out into the open. Reflective and anxious drum beats help expand the ever-growing sound as borders are crossed and new lands are explored, finally drifting back to the nest of silence. Track 2, Burning Dunes In Moonlight, the shortest on the disc, introduces a subtle metallic chaos which transforms into a parched plane of guitar austerity (it is apparent that Mr. Carter worked with Barn Owl on this track and on track 3) that plays out as a bright orange sun sets. Uluru picks up where Burning Dunes left off, only now the sun is rising, and it burns a little cooler than before, but still creates enough heat within it's core to finish the A side with some free-flowing, slow-burning guitar work that injects a little bad-ass into the mix.

Side B consists of Tom Carter's contribution to the disc, the long-player, Train Kept, which takes on a more chaotic tone than Side A, as it begins restless with feedback sculptures and lead guitar scorchers. On a somewhat diminished level it retains, for a few moments, an atmosphere of doom and ominousness, until preparation is supplanted by destruction, and the bomb is finally dropped. Crunching the pedal to the metal, probing dangerously, and speeding recklessly, Train Kept careens along a winding road, but never goes over the edge.

All things considered, this album dissolves enough expectation to keep on a forward thinking path, while also adding the right amount of tradition to avoid floating aimless off into space. The fact that complacency and cliche' are never flirted with here evinces a devotion to form without sacrificing content, a balance that these two artists most probably learned through not only practice, but also trial and error. This album is pure proof that writing off all drone or noise as mere obstreperous sound could lead to some serious missing out.

ear and mind maintenance

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gown | On The River

Upon a first listen this dude struck me as somewhat different than the rest of the people in the trailer park. The vocals are prominent in the mix, and there's some very traditional elements going on with the guitar work, but there's also plenty of scuzz and weirdness going on as well, which balances everything out nicely.

Gown is Andrew Mcgregor, who messes around in Bark Haze, owns a burrow owl, and hooks up with Thurston Moore, so you know he's got the creativity going on. On The River came out last year in a limited edition Cdr of 130, and might be hard to find now, but I've solved that for you, so there's no excuses. Trust me, this is well worth taking a few minutes out of your day to check out.

stop, collaborate and listen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crazy Dreams Band | ST

A truly unexpected going against the grain with just enough grounding in tradition to keep the entire ship from blowing off course and sinking at sea, Crazy Dreams Band mixes Siouxsie type beauty and eeriness with Elizabeth Fraser type ambiguity, Devo-ish type geekiness, and Janis Joplin style abandon. And while there are tons of comparisons to be made, and while Lexie Mountain grooves to the sound of an all together different synthesizer, these anachronistic qualities in no way detract from the overall originality of this album.

Bridging the gap between the hippies and punks while making inroads with the new-wavers and post punks, Crazy Dreams Band produces mostly fun, but in some places haunting dance tunes which might play well at a break dance full of schizophrenics tripping on kif or with a classroom full of attention deficit disorders who've been without Ritalin for a few days while being forced to watch Richard Simmons videos.

Weaving its way through a maze of space junk, waxing and waning like a killing moon, and seeing through a looking glass which peers back into a different time and place while also gazing into the future, Lexie and crew provide utmost listening pleasure for those who are willing to slightly alter their perceptions of what music has been and what music can be. For me this is a refreshing change of pace from some of the minimal musics that are monopolizing the sound scape today, and it's no surprise that the eclectic, but consistent Holy Mountain label has put this doozie out for us to enjoy over repeated listens.

You really should purchase this, because all things considered and comparatively speaking, it's pretty darn cheap.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

W=O=R=D | Kurkov - Death and the Penguin

A sentimental story of a penguin named Misha, and a young girl named Sonya is horrifically complicated by human and adult machinations such as burglars being dismembered by land mines, fateful obituaries written by the protagonist Viktor Alekseyevich Zolotaryov, and Russian Mafia hits, which all help blur the boundaries between Viktor's total denial of his precarious position on this planet, and his fondness for pet Misha, Sonya (a co-conspiritor's daughter), and newfound friend Sergey.

On the most obvious level, Viktor's dealings with his work, and the subsequent problems that arise from that work, make up the meat of the book. On another level, the penguin Misha, who just happens to appear waddling through the madness and "pops" up at the most opportune times creates a surreal comedic relief, while the precocious, endearing character of Sonya helps keep us warm inside, despite the cold Russian winter that seems to seep into the story and off the page with an unrelenting chill.

As we fear for what may be in store for our newly formed and curious family, the story edges closer to the thin ice, and we hear a creaking, but as with all good literature, things are probably not what they seem, and endings are not so tidy. Death and the Penguin is a fairly easy read, but don't let that fool you, as there is much going on between the lines, and it says just enough about the human condition and human nature to foment reflection without being didactic.

Vineland has also been on my reading list for a while, and I'm currently winding my way through it's "out-there" maze. This is not Pynchon at his best, but a fun read as usual. I would actually rank it 3rd on my list of Pynchon novels I've read so far, with Gravity's Rainbow first, followed by The Crying of Lot 39, then Vineland and then Mason & Dixon. I'll have to reserve final judgment until I completely finish it.

Oh yeah, also just picked up Patrick Mcgrath's Blood and Water and Other Tales, and read the first story, The Angel, with it's killer ending all bizarre and fucked up and meaningful and which has me all excited to get to the next story. I got the paperback for $1.00 + shipping off Amazon Marketplace. That place is amazing, and you can find just about any book you're looking for on the cheap. While the pages are yellowed, it's still in good condition and who really gives a fuck about that anyway, as the content is what it's all about.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Skullflower | Rift

I went through a period in the early 90's when I was grabbing the most obscure shit I could find through mail order. At that time, obviously, Al Gore hadn't invented the internet (at least as we now know it), thus there weren't any blogs, and I lived in southeastern Oklahoma, so there weren't that many, actually, there weren't ANY folks interested in listening to noise rock, so I did what I could to find the coolest shit I could.

At the time I dug this record for it's "out-there" qualities, but it sounded like pure noise, and I never really delineated the instruments/voices etc. in my mind. Over time I've grown to appreciate it much more, and it frequently finds itself rotating through my play lists, so here's to some good old fashion psych-noise to get your toes a tappin'.

Track one, Rift, is good in it's own right, but Avalanche kicks out the fucking jams with some endless psych soloing and morphed vocal insanity all layered over, under and through some killer riffage and rumbling undercurrents of turbulent harsh noise. The improv-noise end of the underground spectrum has come a ways since the early 90's, but you will be hard pressed to find anything that comes close to this shit now.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Real Ale Sisyphus

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the previous Real Ale brews I've tried, and I approach this one with much anticipation. This 2007 vintage pours cherry red with some orange hues. The head grows to almost one finger in height, but not until the very end of the pour, and it recedes quickly with some disorganized spots of lacing left behind. The smell of very sweet caramel and resiny hops mix as some dark fruits, yeast and grain move around underneath. A faint musty earthiness is detected.

The hops don't hit upon the first sip as much as they linger throughout the palate. There's a good amount of fruity tanginess and bready sweetness which balances things perfectly, and doesn't keep the barley and pine resin from surfacing toward the end. The body lies toward the medium to heavy end, but it's goes down smooth, without much alcohol (11.5%) being noticed, and without weighing too much on the stomach. This is an exceptional barleywine that doesn't seem as extreme tasting as it's alcohol content would suggest, and whose components work in concert without individual extravagances.

Hijokaidan | Noise from Trading Cards

For some reason this one seems to be conspicuously absent from the blogosphere, and seeing how it's apparently OOP, I figure it deserves to be listened to just as much as any of the other million downloads out there. Do you ever feel like this shit is just too easy these days? I don't know. I'm on the fence. On the one hand I'm so stoked that so many great sounds are available, but on the other hand it seems like the availability is overwhelming, and a bit too easy. I've got a word pad list as long as my arm with stuff I've downloaded and need to listen to, which isn't a big problem, but it is what it is. In the long run, I suppose there will always be value in the actual physical product, especially with the limited edition stuff. So maybe I should just enjoy the music, and quit over-fucking-analyzing everything.

Hijokaidan's most popular release (which might not be saying much) may not be as relentless and unwavering as some of their other fine exhibits of noise, but it's a good punch in the gut or flick of the balls that creates that long, drawn out ache that seems to linger somewhere between extreme pain and an unyielding and highly bothersome disturbance of comfort. And despite issues of desensitization, this music is, has been, and probably always will be food for the soul of masochistic noise fans.

This type of noise seeks out the sensitive parts of our psyche and body as a sort of psychosomatic virus coded to invade and conquer our better sensibilities while belying the mask of convention and betraying common-sense. That is, rather than putting on something sane you continue to hear/listen to the insanity, and rather than following that wise voice in your head that says "turn that shit down", you continue to turn it up.

Individual Japanese noise outfits seem to create (and seemed to have created) from a common thread/goal/method, while also unraveling that thread with each destruction of expectation and every minute of ostensible senselessness, going in a thousand different directions, eventually somehow resolving their fits of chaos, turning them into manageable textures and sounds, eventually engendering unique sound through chaos. Hijokaidan seem to be the paradigm of this model, which is not surprising, as there is an incestuous ancestry in Japanese noise of this type.

Noise From Trading Cards came out in 1997, 16 years after their first release, so it is fair to say some sort of realization, but not exactly progression had been made in that time. And despite the unspoken ethics of noise, which are not so much concerned with progression or maturation as with experiment and form, it can be safe to assume some sort of development in sound was sought after, and achieved, as that is the nature of the artistic beast. That being said, do not fear that Noise From Trading Cards in any way softens the blows or moves too far away from the intensity of sound that Hijokaidan is known for, because the only thing to fear in this realm of sound is that the aural kick in the balls just might rupture something.

Bleed your ears.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Left Hand Chainsaw Ale

I have always been a big fan of the Left Hand Sawtooth Ale due to the fact that it retains drinkability (not the Bud Light kind) while maintaining a hearty taste, so I've been looking forward to getting my hands the Chainsaw Ale (or Double Sawtooth). Here I'm reviewing the 2008 vintage.

There's a good amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle that mixes up after a little bit the usual before pour handling. The pour is a hazy ruby red that is finished off with a one and a half finger, quickly fading light tan head. A few splotches of lace are left on one side of the glass. The aroma is big on sour cherries up front, then comes some figs, yeast, and burnt sugar. The aroma is deep, bold, and somewhat gnarly. The taste involves some toasted malts, dark fruits, subtle hops, bubblegum, and taffy. A bit of astringency exists. Mouth-feel is medium to full-bodied, and goes down just a little uneven, but nothing too extreme.

Left Hand makes some great brews, and seeing as they're one of the first Craft brewers I really started following, I have a lot of nostalgia for them. That being said, some of their bigger brews, while getting high marks on complexity and taste, lack just a little too much in the balance department to get them to that next tier of brews.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Emeralds | What Happened

As you read about What Happened across the blogosphere, and you hear about it (and hear it) on podcasts galore, and now reviews of it are popping up like ads on a porn site, you realize that Emeralds most recent release might possibly be the most buzzed about underground album of the year so far. I don’t know if that is necessarily saying much, as things seem to be taking off kind of slow in 09’, but if trends in Emeralds history hold true, all the buzz is probably warranted. I guess there’s only one way to find out though. So let’s give it a listen.

Track one, Alive in the Sea of Information floats on a bubbly and active sea of electronics, moving in many directions, and is less static than most of the Emeralds earlier output; although there still exists an undercurrent of drone ambience that makes itself more palpable about half way through the track. One of the first things I notice is the clarity of the various sounds/elements of the track. They are separate and distinct, as the production on What Happened is clearly moving toward a cleanliness is next to godliness aesthetic. Toward the end of the track there is a reflective moment where all is contained in a slow fading out of the sounds, and I am moved. Damaged Kids creeps us out and continues restless through a spacey weirdness which pulsates through depths pierced by clicks and blips and synth-waves that grow in power and feed on themselves, layer building upon layer until all their energies are expelled. This is an uber-planetary-prog exploration which traps us in sheer moments of bliss, but eventually lets us float away. Up In the Air and Living Room create an indelible laser-etching in our minds eye of the beautiful abstract landscape painting which is What Happened, and form the almost pure ambient backbone, mixed with some subtle post-rock like guitar wanderings, upon which the rest of the album rests. Disappearing Ink ends the journey with even more dream-like guitar which lightens the mood and eventually meanders back into a sanctuary of psychedelic light which shines through stained glass etched with saints as well as sinners.

In a recent Tiny Mix Tapes interview, Steve Hauschildt (a member of the trio, along with Mark Mcguire and John Elliot) states, "It’s good to be prolific, and it’s good to always be playing; however, I think you’ve gotta have a lot of discretion." So what exactly does this mean, and why the change of heart? Have Emeralds slowed down in their old age? No, it can’t be that, as they haven't (comparably speaking) been around that long. That's not to say that by looking at their already vast discography, you might be guilty of thinking they are godfathers of the new avant-drone. But actually, the answer probably lies somewhere between a good sense of career history trajectories of previous artists who have managed to stay alive in a vast underground, while also maintaining artistic integrity over time, mixed with a good perception of place, a good sense of personal artistic progression, and also a moving toward minimizing output, at the expense of excess, while focusing all their creative energies on releases that make stronger statements not only due to their content, but also due to their new-found salience in smaller numbers. This is a rise to prominence of content and form through diminution of releases.

Now, all that being said, fucking watch them go out and release 20 cassettes this year. Even if that were the case, releases such as What Happened and last years excellent Solar Bridge will always stand out if not just for the larger scale of the release numbers wise, but the format (CD) of the release. That being said, can we say "discretion" is the better part of valor on What Happened? And does it deserve all the buzz it's getting throughout the webosphere? Well, the answer is a resounding yes, and I'm not going to make any apologies for or against fan bias or bandwagonning, as What Happened is not only a positive step forward for Emeralds, but for current underground music scenes in general. What Happened is a reworking of the old with a good injection of new sensibility. A good ear for tradition, and a good mind for exploration and progression have served Emeralds well.

Overall, What Happened reminds me more of Hauschuldt's solo Rapt for Liquid Minister than Solar Bridge, but it's still distinctly Emeralds, and as we proceed through what is likely going to be a rough, uneven, and possibly even painful year ahead, we can take comfort in knowing some folks out there haven't forgotten how to make us feel better through exceptional art.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Never Presence Forever - Ungeromimizu | Split 7"

A top tier release from 2008 that somehow got lost in the rampage of excellent noise and transgression. A ritualistic drone darkness is punctuated by electronic extremes, as witnessed by huddling masses, seeking a succor from the cold. In between techno-beats and humanity as evinced as negative news-samples, a voice arises and changes everything. From one end of the continuum to the other, this 7" encapsulates much more meaning than one could hope to expect from such "simplistic" forms.

sacrifice your ears.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

W=O=R=D | Noise/Music A History - Hegarty

Noise/Music: A History
by Paul Hegarty, is an intellectual exploration of the importance of noise in music, and how simply writing "noise" off as only noise, fails to see the aesthetic purpose that noise, and the avant-garde serves in our current soundscape. Using literary critiques by philosophical giants such as Hegel and Bataille, and musical interpretations by Adorno and Kahn as starting points, as well as comparative points, Hegarty proves the worth of noise, which I interpret as the complete absence of expectation in sound (or even the absence of composed sound as in Cage's 4'33").

Noise works on many levels. One of those levels is the initial perception of the sound, which, in many cases is off-putting. It also works on intellectual, spatial, personal and emotional levels, many times reflecting the world we live in, thus serving a higher cultural purpose than just something that makes us cringe. Hegarty, obviously explores this in much more detail and depth and with much more erudition than I ever could, juxtaposing it against a number of different artists, movements and theories, which helps strengthen its place in music, and gives us an idea where experimentation in noise might lead us in the future.

If you're like me, you are completely fascinated with the new sounds and textures that are being created these days, and you see that the creative process is alive and strong in the musical underground. You also want to delve deeper into the meaning of it all, because you realize that just "enjoying" it is only half the fun. Hopefully those of you interested in the movement of noise in music throughout the 20th century and into the 21st and beyond will find an impetus to pick up this book and obtain a deeper understanding of the workings in the sounds we experience.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Boulevard Imperial Stout

This is one of those beers that you have to ask yourself, is it all that good, and is all the hype just a little overblown? You never know until you try, but I pretty much have an idea by the Smokestack's history, it's probably going to be pretty good. Then again, there's always an exception to the rule, but let's hope this one isn't it. This one is numbered 00055/11960 and shows the 11% abv, which I like seeing, as the bigger Boulevard brews always have a good blend on the alcohol.

A massive multi-colored, light and dark-tan head explodes and rises quickly above the rim of the snifter. It's topped with a crop of big bubbles, and recedes at a snails pace, leaving stacked sheets of slightly broken lacing all around. You have to be careful with the pours on the Smokestacks, i.e. the Doublewide, or you're gonna get froth all over the place. No complaints here though. Color is pitch-black and opaque, with virtually no lighter shades showing when held to light. Aromatically this one is very complex, but that's no surprise. Burnt wood, some ubiquitous Boulevard brettanomyces (which seem to show up lately), burnt sugar, toasted bread, wheat, pine, subtle dark fruits and hops all work in unison to create a perfectly balanced aromatic profile.

A smooth, creamy and very slightly viscous mouth-feel makes for a medium to full bodied experience that is actually highly drinkable, but warrants sipping due to the well-hidden alcohol content. The palate is filled with dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, furtive candy spices, roasted malts and a good hit of alcohol that works itself into the overall experience well, while not being overbearing. In my opinion the hype surrounding this beer is well-deserved, but you'll just have to seek it out and give it a shot yourself.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Left Hand Smoke Jumper: Smoked Imperial Porter

Serendipity strikes on this one, as I found it down at Joe's Place in Norman, where I like to stop in and see what they've got lying around, as they seem to have all the new beers before anyone else in the metro. So, seeing as I'm trying to drink my blues away after the National Championship loss, a good ole big smoked porter seems like the perfect cure to go along with the George Mitchell blues collection I've got in the play list at the moment.

This one pours a deep dark brown with a long-lasting, two-finger, dark tan head. After a few minutes the head calmly recedes, leaving a thick sheet of consistent lacing all around the pint glass which stays almost entirely intact through to my completion of the beer.

Robust notes of smoked, caramel malts hit the nose up front. A second whiff reveals spicy candy, taffy, coffee, and subtle notes of toffee as well. Tastes big on some black coffee up front, with some grain, a certain earthiness, spice and a big alcohol hit enveloping it all. Caramel and a decent amount of hops show up when I take a second drink making for a near perfect balance between the sweetness and bitterness.

Mouth-feel is full-bodied, and a decent amount of carbonation activity goes off upon a good shake. Left Hand has long been one of my favorite regional breweries, but I'll have to admit, some of their latest offerings haven't quite done it for me. However, I'm happy to say, the Smoke Jumper has changed all that. What a brew.

Left Hand.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Deeded To Itself: Athens Southernoise | Thor's Rubber Hammer comp.

Interesting and not so much of the same-ole, same ole noise. Many times artists can't escape the influences of location, history and legacy, thus this comp, from the Athens, Ga. scene has quite a southern feel to it. I know that sounds really weird when talking about noise, but it makes this a unique one for sure. Here's a review I wrote a while back on RYM.

"Athens, Georgia has a long history of experimental/noise music. . wait a minute, no they don't. When you think of Athens you actually think of bands like, uh that one band, I can't remember their name, you know the one I'm talking about, as well as groups like Pylon, and the B-52's. You think of Herschel Walker and the Bulldogs. You think of Coca-Cola. Well, that's Atlanta, but close enough. One thing you don't think of is Athens being a hotbed of experimental noise music. This disc changed all that for me. A hybrid steaming stew of diverse noise groups show us how it's done down south; and by god it's a dead reckoning.

Deeded To Itself, such a great name for this release because it has such a definite Faulknerian southern feel, is an amalgamation of experimental groups put together by Thor's Rubber Hammer productions out of Washington D.C. The disc begins with the blues-noise/free-jazz front porch psych freakout PoemX by Altruizine, which includes complimentary banjo jamming. They somehow pull this off. Furthering the cause and selling you immense amounts of caffeinated noise are the Orthopedics and Killick with some straightforward sonic destruction not unlike a whirligig going berzerk in a tornado and pigs fucking in the mud, all field recorded, looped, analized and refed.

Long Legged Woman continue the marketing ploy with their splendid rendition of It's the End of the World (And We Didn't Know It), which as you might suspect, sounds nothing like the original, but a bit more surreal. Sorry, there's no lyrics here per se', so you can't try to sing along with it. Sailor Winters grasp string theory while Chartruese bring the drone to the boardroom to level the playing field. Finalizing the disc are Garbage Island with some straight-forward noise, Better People with some peculiar vox and percussion forays, and Telenovela with an introspective strum-bliss, flute fantasy that is distinct from the rest of the disc, and provides an appeasing fruition.

Fabrication from a unique setting results in a diverse set of songs/pieces to crank on a Sunday afternoon while enjoying a mint julep or a hard drug of your choice."

get ya' some of this deep south racket.

TRH also has another comp out which has some bigger names on it. Buy it here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Total Abuse | Sex Pig 7"

Came across this blog entry on WFMU, which provoked me to dig out the Total Abuse 7" from last year. Great little record here. Riffage is excellent, there's plenty of change-ups, traditional hardcore power and some melody. The songs are well-developed, and while the hardcore tropes are present, it doesn't come off as trite. Appears there's a new comp out on Deranged Records, which includes this 7", and after listening to the .mp3s and the record, its gotta be the shit.

I'll have to admit that I don't listen to too much newer hardcore stuff, as that ship seems to have sailed, but there's something really cool, a little offbeat, and and a lot crazy about these guys.

Mosh it up!

Also, the Lexie Mountain Crazy Dream Band stuff on the WFMU page sounds pretty good too. Kind of like some Janis Joplin/minimal-synth-pop/anthem type shit that goes in a hundred different directions but manages to keep somewhat grounded. Crazy and dreamy too. Nothing wrong with a band letting you know what your going to get with their moniker. Looks like Nate from Mouthus/RK is involved, and that's a good thing. I totally dug and recommend the live recording she was involved with The Julie Mittens as well.