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