Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chapter 13 - Crisco Disco

(Drive-In/BeBop, 2000)

Tomorrow I am going to join a gym, and then, when next we meet on the beach or the boulevard, I’ll beat you up. WITH MY ABS. I think I’m taking a positive step here; if I can maintain the discipline to go on a regular basis, it’ll add further structure to my life, helping me achieve my long-term goal of having almost every day rigidly planned out with a set series of activities far, far in advance. As it stands, I have the following “must-do” checkpoints during each weekday: wake up, go to the coffee shop, go to work, read certain political blogs at certain points in the day, have my 2:30pm coffee, walk up and down the fire escape (33 flights) for exercise at the end of work, go home, review a 7”, follow baseball, do my sit-ups and push-ups, go to bed. I can certainly insert a daily visit to the gym between the office and my record listening, and that’ll happily keep me out of trouble during those tricky late-evening hours. And make me STRONG. So I can kick the ass of crappy records like the one I’m playing at this very moment. This is pure ’80s synthpop, chilly and wimpy, with mannered Morrissey-style vocals crooning along atop the drum machines and frosty keys. I never cared for stuff like this; it always came off overwrought and anti-fun, and Chapter 13 offends doubly in that the group is doing what amounts to an impression of that already hollow sound. It’s a good impression, yes, but the melodies – which could have won me over and made the record worthwhile – are ultimately unremarkable, and, annoyingly, it’s never quite possible to get past that initial reaction of, “Hey, this sounds just like…” So yeah. Pass. “Crisco Disco” is as predictable as the deadening, routinized life I envision for myself, but somehow even less interesting. With my future brawn I give it the ol’ heave-ho.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Chap - I Got Flattened By A Pig Farmer

(Lo, 2002)

Two examples of quirktastic electro-pop from these underrated European goofballs. “I Got Flattened By a Pig Farmer” is all about its pitter-pattering beats and sneaky bassline (though the surprise fiddle attack at the end is fun), more a chilly 12” club thingy than a proper pop/rock song, and quite representative of the less inspired moments on Chap full-lengths. The B-side, “Remember Elvis Rex,” is better, the dual-vox monotone spitting out the nonsensical lyrics over warm, distorted synths and electronic bleeps, comparable to an embryonic Caribou crossed with the Flying Lizards. Both songs are on the subsequent LP The Horse – as well as a promo CDR single that adds the rarity “I’m Hurtn” – but anyone interested in The Chap would be best served by finding the later “(Hats Off to) Dror Frangi” EP, whose synth burps and guitar explosions do a near-perfect job of balancing pop brilliance with rock-band posturing and gratuitous electro weirdness. If you’re conscious and breathing, it doesn’t get too much better than the likes of “I Am Oozing Emotion.”

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gene Chandler - Duke Of Earl

(Vee-Jay, 1962)

Everyone in town knows “Duke of Earl” for its famous doo-wop “Duke-Duke-Duke-Duke of Earl” chant, but don’t ignore its smooth lead vocal and boastful lyrics, especially the wonderful “As I walk through this world / Nothing can stop / The Duke of Earl.” And I’ll be durned if Gene Chandler himself didn’t take to strutting through these lands with his very own cane, cape, and monocle after the song hit it big! Can’t blame him; it’s a solid look. The B-side is “Kissin’ In the Kitchen,” and here Chandler ditches the doo-wop elements of the A for full-on snappy soul ala Jackie Wilson. It’s not raunchy or percussive enough to be a true raver, but it does make for a passable little party number and shows that Chandler – who ended up sticking around through the disco era – had some tricks up his sleeve beyond that doggone delightfully-offbeat “Duke of Earl.” Listening to the single, it’s strange to hear something seemingly so far removed from the British Invasion and still detect the roots of the Beatles: “Anna (Go to Him),” a cover of which appears on Please Please Me, has a chorus that utilizes very similar vocal stylings and phrasings as “Duke.” Huh!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

caUSE co-MOTION! - Who's Gonna Care?

(Can’t Cope!, 2008)

Listening to peppy jump music like this makes me feel guilty after a day of extreme Sunday sloth where my lone activity of note was a trip to a local flea market (which was also attended by Jon Spencer). Gotta pull it together. Keep my brain working even if my body isn’t. Ready? Ready. Here are some words about the third caUSE co-MOTION 7”: While it’s the same frantic crash-bang-boom of the earlier records (I don’t think the group is gonna be reinventing its own wheel any time soon), the songwriting is getting noticeably stronger and the sound quality is much improved – check out the low-end on these babies! I was definitely feeling the like-a-faster-Pastels thing more than ever on this single (particularly the shambolic punk-pop of “Who’s Gonna Care?”), and that’s a comparison I’m always happy to have my ears make for me. So hoorays and hoorahs all around; quality/consistency roolz, and these guys have quality/consistency up the rear.

And! On the business side, this 45 seems to be self-released; reckon it’s a one-off stopover on the band’s way to big-league Slumberland Records, who’ll be putting out a 7” and a singles comp later this year. Look to shoplift those soonish, fans.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

caUSE co-MOTION! - Which Way Is Up?

(What’s Your Rupture?, 2006)

On this, America’s shortest single ™,
caUSE co-MOTION is a little more clean and confident in the instrumental dept, but happily still sounding confused and adenoidal (“Which way is up?!”), a morning-after Elvis Costello stumbling through the streets on a wild-eyed hangover-high. As before, it’s locomotive plow-ahead with a few triplets-and-cymbal-crashes to break the momentum at regular intervals. Ace poo, fellas, ace. “Falling Again,” however, with its vocal effects, multiple guitar parts, and non-rock drum beat gets a little too cute for its own good and ends up falling flat over the course of its typically-brief runtime. See, rocking simple is pretty much rocking swell for these guys – and I’ve witnessed the live shows to prove it – so there’s no shame in keeping it plain. You hear? Don’t get all fancypants and POINDEXTER-Y on my ears, doodz. After all, I’m no NERD, says my mom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

caUSE co-MOTION! - This Just Won't Last

(What’s Your Rupture?, 2005)

It’s a concentrated blast of trashy fun from caUSE co-MOTION on the band’s first single (after an earlier split), four hopped-up short ones that clatter past like some sorta rustbucket partymobile. The songs are part late-’50s guitar sound, but all ’60s garage energy, totally nervous and sweaty with maybe a hint of kick-yer-ass snottiness. Treble and echo… it’s shit-fi pop ’n’ roll in a swanky, four-panel, silkscreened sleeve. Do the herky-jerk.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cathode - Sweet Baja

(Castle von Buhler, 1998)

Boston three-piece turns out two instros in the post-rock vein, but with a definite East Coast psych influence looming large – no recycled Tortoise-isms here. “Sweet Baja” is a cozy, rainy-day nod-off; a meatier, more assertive take on what the American Analog Set was doing, but still a total slow-mo cough-syrup downer. The B-side speeds it up for the propulsive “Fighter Pilot,” which is driven by a steady almost-Kraut bass-drum thump and occasional snare explosions. Rhythmic guitar with rapid crescendos and decrescendos seals the deal on this one, even if it could stand to be a whole lot longer (That’s a compliment, see. Gimme MORE!).

There were a lot of bands of this sort around Boston in the late 1990s… Lockgroove, Charlene, Abunai!, Cul de Sac. Cathode doesn’t seem to be as versatile or strong as those first two – would def be reserves on any All-Star team – but this is a nice little quiet/loud single with enough obvious promise to make it unfortunate that it didn’t lead to a much longer career. Trust an internet stranger: you should start searching them dollar bins if you weep tears of joy over rockin’ ’90s instrumental psych, cuz this is a bowling ball right up your alley.

Caspar And Mollusk - Twig

(Cosmic, 1995)

This is primarily a solo single by Chris Ballew from the Presidents of the United States of America, but “Twig” features some varispeed, “Drinking Out of Cups”-style free association from Beck as its intro and outro. The rest of the A-side is heavily-distorted fuzzpop/thrash… your standard indieguy four-track nonsense, not too far from the tossed-off experiments of Beck’s own Stereopathetic Soul Manure album. There is some fine lead guitar at the beginning of “Lint Cake” before it decays into a creepy lounge-from-hell number – clarinet moans and dissonant piano stabs – that sounds like the sort of soundtrack work the David Baker-led Mercury Rev might have done, with vocals courtesy of an unhealthy cat. An interesting and all-over-the-place record, but the air of belabored weirdness surrounding these demo-quality songs makes it hard to recommend it too enthusiastically.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Terry Cashman - Talkin' Baseball (Baseball And The Cubs)

(Lifesong, 1982)

Hate, as they say, is a strong word. And I hate this record. It’s a laid-back, amiable swing through the history of baseball, employing sappy Billy Crystal-style nostalgia for the sport and a chorus melody (“I’m talkin’ baaaaseball”) that’s both memorably annoying and annoyingly memorable – I can just imagine some bozo like Jayson Stark totally digging it. Dire treacle, the whole thing, and Cashman has been flogging the song for decades, re-recording its lyrics to fit dozens of teams and seasons. This is the Cubs edition, and so it gives us a list of Great Cubs Moments, touching on Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and other faves before expressing optimism for the ’82 squad (which ended up going 73-89). It seems that Terry’s still churning ’em out, too, as he recently released something called Talkin’ Baseball: 2008 Spring Early Pennant Contenders, which features up-to-the-minute versions for ten ’08 teams that look strong as the season begins. God help me. God help us all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Car Thieves - The Furious! Fighting! Car Thieves

(Planet Pimp, 1994)

Super-trebly surf punk. Sound quality is some real tapedeck SHIT, and I can’t deny that that gets in the way of my total enjoyment of the disc; it truly sounds awful (perversely, by far the best-sounding material on the record is the intro/outro drum-machine silliness that serves as a crass ad for the label). I’m no surf fan, though, so maybe it’s high praise when I say that this stuff does at least have energy and balls – a rockin’ “Baby Elephant Walk”?! – and, best of all, there’s a detailed backstory here that matches anything cooked up by the likeminded folks over at Amarillo Records. Briefly: At the time, the single was advertised in Planet Pimp catalogs as the debut offering from “America’s Gayest Surf Band,” and the sleevenotes tell the story of how label head Sven-Erik Geddes first met the Car Thieves in a San Francisco YMCA, where they slipped their demo under a bathroom-stall door. Song titles include such cheap guffaws as “The Man From U.R.A.N.U.S.,” “Steers N’ Queers,” and “Ass, Ass, or Ass, Nobody Rides For Free.” The label’s Goode Tyme Jhambhoree compilation continues the joke with a series of prank calls to the pissed-sounding band (Geddes “fucked our record up completely… he put on his silly little beatbox stuff and mixed it down real low”) praising them for empowering the gay surf-rock community. Then we get a hilarious disco/club remix – handclaps and police whistles! – credited to “The Original Car Thieves.” The overarching joke is better than the music, yeah, but that total package makes it well worth the attention of folks who get a kick out of acts like Neil Hamburger and Scharpling & Wurster. Simply consider this crude 7” part of the soundtrack to a larger, bizarro concept-gag and you’ll enjoy it just fine.

(...Midheaven’s $1.00 pricetag doesn’t hurt either.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Caroliner - Bead Trail To Jardunne

(Nuf Sed, 1993)

Look, a Caroliner single! Let’s review it, shall we? You can give me feedback when I’m done! But for now, onto the songs! The goofy “Bead Trail to Jardunne” is acid-fried, wobbly hobo music that keeps petering out into grunting or tape effects, only to kick back into those same two measures of halting, lunatic banjo pickin’, again and again. And again. IS THIS WHAT MADNESS SOUNDS LIKE? Or maybe it’s just what a coupla demented yet lovable codgers on a back porch in Appalachia sound like (as played by young San Franciscan art freaks in the early 1990s). Flip it to the B-side for “The Cooking Stove Beast,” which chugs along to the vocalist screeching/growling over squishy electronics and ugly, out-of-tune guitar, the music occasionally slipping into a fast breakdown section before resuming its mutants-on-parade semi-stomp. Not bad, in its own wacky way. Y’know, if the Thinking Fellers were drunk and wanted to make an especially assaultive record, it might turn out a whole lot like this 45. No lie!

OK, haw haw, that’s a colorful and interesting description, you say. The reviewer has taken a different band, one that the reader is aware of, and then cleverly twisted that comparison around a little bit to give the reader some idea of what this band is doing, you add. And what about Caroliner’s other discs? you then ask. Is this 7” representative? Well (and this is finally me talking, not you), I don’t know, I’m afraid, for this is the lone musical baby I have adopted from the crazy womb of this particular group. Do realize that Caroliner has released many an LP in its day, though; why not ask Mark Prindle about that?

Carbonas - Blackout

(Shattered, 2005)

Fast garage punk with pop structures and an on-the-ball lead guitarist (solos n everything!). The rhythm section, as is often the case with these groups, is hardly showy, but there’s more than enough punch there to get the job done …and the bloody mix – EVERYTHING is turned up – certainly doesn’t hurt. It all comes together best on “Nostalgia Buff”: catchy vocal melody, good riff, tight playing, genuine EXCITEMENT in dem vinyl grooves. Record’s pretty furious! While not quite up to the level of their buddy Jay Reatard overall, this stuff is entertaining and raw, and I betcha these Carbonas are a barrel o’ fun-lovin’ monkeys live.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Camphor - Silver & Gold

(Zeal, 2000)

Max Lichtenstein is the ringleader of the Camphor project, and as a producer and musician working with the extended Mercury Rev family, he’s able to pull in some interesting collaborators. This nifty little single – which was actually the only record released under the Camphor name until an album finally came out in April, 2008 – has heavy involvement from Jason Russo (Hopewell and Mercury Rev) throughout, as well as appearances by Justin Russo (Hopewell, Mercury Rev, and the Silent League) and Whip (Hopewell and Timesbold). Jason’s vocals feature on “Silver & Gold,” which is blasphemous psych-pop at its finest, its piping keyboards and dreamy guitar solo bouncing along atop some sludgy fuzz as they candy-coat lyrics calling Jesus a “sexy motherfucker.” Radio wouldn’t and won’t play it, but radio is exactly where this song belongs. The other two tracks are brief instrumentals recorded for the soundtrack of Jesus’ Son: The guitar-based “Mute” is a dead ringer for full-band, early-’70s Neil Young, and “Holiday”… well, “Holiday” has some fine organ and guitar playing, yet it leaves no impression at all. Really, the A-side’s what it’s all about, and with any luck some smarty will eventually rescue it from its limited-edition-Belgian-7” ghetto and elevate it to the cult-fave status it deserves.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Byrds - The Byrds

(Scoop, 1983)

Is there really any point in coming down heavy on an obscure, budget-line Byrds hits EP released by a European subsidiary of Pickwick? I suppose this is a waste of precious internet space, but come on: four cover songs? And then both originals have McGuinn writing credits? Nothing by Gene Clark?! Argh! Well, give the compilers credit for presenting a broad overview of the band’s career, at least; there’s one song from Mr. Tambourine Man, one from Turn! Turn! Turn!, one from Younger Than Yesterday, one from The Notorious Byrd Brothers, one from the Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde sessions, and one from (Untitled). Also, even if the six picks aren’t representative of the Byrds’ BEST work, they do reveal the major facets of the group’s sound over the years, as there’s impossibly warm, beautiful folk rock (“Turn! Turn! Turn!”); a lean, jangly Dylan cover (“All I Really Want to Do”); a bloated, ridiculous Dylan cover (“Lay Lady Lay”); a melodic vocal showcase (“Goin’ Back”); nervous acid pop (“So You Want to Be a Rock ’N’ Roll Star”); and hokey country rock (“Chestnut Mare”). There’s obviously nothing awful on here – except for “Chestnut Mare,” maybe – but given the scattershot song selection, overemphasis on McGuinn, and abysmal sound quality, there’s no reason to bother with this thing. Just go ahead and spring for all of the studio LPs. Except for Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Byrdmaniax, and Farther Along. What with them stinking.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Butthole Surfers - Good King Wencenslaus

(Trance Syndicate, 1994)

No surprises here. It sounds exactly like you’d expect a late-period Butthole Surfers cover of “Good King Wencenslaus” to sound: the massed voices, the squiggly/squealing guitars, the caveman percussion, the squelchy electronic breakdowns. The saving grace is the amusing blackout-drunk voiceover that takes over a minute or so into the song. “How come…there’s little…bugs out there…(hic)…having sex…a bunch of ’em are having sex and, and spending a lot of money…?” And so forth. Tee hee. No need to turn up your snoot at some honest, down-home sophomoric fun, especially when it’s being done in the name of Christmas cheer!

On the B-side, the nonsensical lyrics of “The Lord is a Monkey” are delivered in an evil drawl, and the whole thing is a loose, repetitive, squawking, and distinctly unpleasant bit of bad-trip, shitkicking guitar-psych. It could stand to be a bit more interesting – never gets anywhere exciting – but given that the song was recycled on Electriclarryland in 1996, it’s fun to think how noxious it must have been to innocent “Pepper” fans the world over. Did I already say “tee hee”?

While I’m on my high horse, please allow me to discuss a nice system I have for keeping track of multiple baseball games. I watch one on my laptop with the sound off (Red Sox), have a second on ESPN Gamecast on the computer (Rangers), put a third on the radio in my bedroom (Mets), and then there’s a fourth playing on the radio in my living room (Yankees). This way I can walk around my apartment and follow four games pretty much simultaneously. Your record might be OK, but did you ever follow four games simultaneously, Butthole Surfers?

Butthole Surfers - Texas Chainsaw Massacre

(???, 198?)

This is a mysterious record. In 1989, Killdozer released a 5x7” version of their For Ladies Only album on Touch & Go, catalog number TG-39. Attractive not only for its extravagant (and funny) packaging, that set is worth finding because it has an extra song – “Mr. Soul” – that doesn’t show up on the LP or CD. The 7” in question here was advertised on eBay last fall as a test pressing of one of the 45s from that edition, and I purchased it, hoping it’d be the disc with the bonus track. If it turned out to be one of the other discs, well, I’d just have a nifty Killdozer collectable and wouldn’t be too sad about that. It all seemed reasonable enough: First, the guy was selling many other Touch & Go test pressings from the same era. Second, it had the appearance of a legitimate test pressing – generic pressing-plant label (Electrosound Group) with a catalog number (TG-39) handwritten on it. So imagine my bafflement when I put this record on my turntable and had my ears caressed not by the sweet sounds of Killdozer but by the noisome nastiness of the Butthole Surfers. Whaaaa?!

Putting on my Sherlock cap, I did some research and eventually learned that the music on this was identical to the well-known “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” bootleg 45, meaning live versions of “Cherub” and “Come Together” from 1986 and 1985, respectively (thanks, internet!). Still, why the test labels and the Touch & Go catalog number? I suppose there are three possibilities here. (1) Touch & Go intended to release a live Butthole Surfers 7” as TG-39 but scrapped it after the test-press phase for some reason and reassigned the catalog number to For Ladies Only. (2) This is a test pressing for the bootleg, and the bootleggers chose the “TG” prefix as a joke. (3) Some copies of the actual bootleg look like this and I just bought a sleeveless one... although every copy I’ve seen has featured plain green labels. Does anyone have any info for me? Touch & Go ignored my polite inquiry, so here I sit, all a-blubber, dying to know the Truth. Won’t you help?

The music itself, I’m afraid, isn’t as interesting as the mystery (and, uh, is the mystery itself all that interesting??). “Cherub” is a fairly limp performance, hampered further by a lousy recording that flattens the drums and bass into a shapeless mass of low-end that dominates the track. Gibby is singing through the megaphone and doesn’t sound particularly engaged, nor does his voice blend well with the band’s playing. The whole thing’s sloppy, and not in an entertaining or exciting way. Zzzz. The snares do crunch more on “Come Together,” which sticks pretty close to the Beatles’ original when it isn’t blasting off into frantic bursts of guitar squall, but still… the ultimate impression this record leaves, even in its best moments, is, “Huh, guess I hadta be there.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bullet In The Head - Nifungo

(Bulb, 1993)

Layered guitar-avalanche plus some unsatisfying drum clatter kicks off this short single, an early anti-hit puked forth by Bulb Records (now available on the Bulb Singles #1 CD). There are some divebombing scud attacks on the B that blast us back to medieval times and said era’s aggressive anvil pounding + threat of violence… not that it really goes anywhere or builds to anything. Still, a reasonable amount of start-n-stop and open space on this one, as opposed to just going for the all-out assault, and it’s a mildly interesting (to be generous) change of pace. In the end, the black waves of shitnoise work well, but why don’t these bands give the percussion the same care and attention they give the amps and effects pedals? Ringo’s crying.

Bright Coloured Lights - Open Your Eyes

(Slumberland, 2000)

My oh my, this fi is lo. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!! …Ha? Well it is! And that’s OK, because these three songs are rough mixes of the entire recorded output (1992) of Bright Coloured Lights. BCL consisted of two ex-members of Black Tambourine, plus a few folks from fellow Slumberlanders Lorelei. Perhaps predictably, given the presence of the lead vocalist (Pam Berry) and lead guitarist (Mike Schulman), this record indeed sounds an awful lot like fuzz-faves Black Tambourine: dark poprock with near-icy reverb-heavy girl vox wrapped in driving fuzz guitar, all of it underpinned by a no-frills rhythm section. You know what you’re getting into with this stuff, and if you like that kind of thing, you’re obv gonna love Bright Coloured Lights just fine. Some highlights: The doomy churchbell-style bass blasts giving the top-shelf “Count the Raindrops” a heavier feel than any other BCL or Black Tambourine songs. The vocals. The weird sawing guitar drone in the background of “Open Your Eyes.” Heck, all of the guitarwork on here is excellent. Just drop $3.50 on it and hear for yourself, moneybags.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Prozac Vs. Heroin

(Limited Addition, 2003)

There was a lot of action in the seven years between this and the group’s previous 7” in 1996: Five albums, two mini albums, four 12”s, two CD EPs, a few record labels, and a busload of band members hired and fired. The BJM seemed tired and directionless on its first post-TVT album, Bravery Repetition and Noise, and the poorly-attended shows I saw around that time had me wondering if the end was nigh. So maybe my expectations had been lowered, but I was genuinely excited by this single when it came out – seemed like a real comeback. And heck, it still sounds fantastic six years later, the music energized and carefully assembled. “Prozac vs. Heroin” is a moody, surprisingly stately mini-epic, its echo-y backing vocals and beautifully layered guitars giving it a denser, richer sound than most prior Brian Jonestown material. The B-side, “Nailing Honey to the Bee,” is even better, a return to the driving Between the Buttons-style rock of Give It Back!, but with tighter playing and more attention to loud-soft dynamics. One of their catchiest songs, and a decent approximation of the BJM’s live sound in those days. There’s a cutesy vinyl surprise here as well, as the B is a double groove that also features “The Pregnancy Test,” a gently spaced-out keyboard-loop instrumental quite different from the band’s usual attack. Really: a great single then, and a great single now – this lineup very much had it together, and the concerts and album (…And This is Our Music, which repeats “Prozac” and “The Pregnancy Test”) that followed were supremely enjoyable. Yeah, it fell apart soon after with the release of the Dig movie and Newcombe’s annoying descent into total onstage self-parody – not to mention a couple of sub-par records – but this is one of their best, and is as “must-hear” as anything in the group’s intimidatingly-large catalog.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Never Ever

(Stanton Park/Tangible, 1996)

If you’ve ever read my unwritten autobiography, Forty Years of Beard, you know that the lone source of joy in my otherwise disappointing life is baseball. And sometimes that gets in the way of my listening to and writing about all these crazy records. Like last night, when I went out to Yankee Stadium to see the Blue Jays lose instead of staying in and reviewing the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Or right now, when I’m following the end of a crucial Padres-Dodgers game instead of giving my full attention to “Never Ever.” Oh, wait; the Dodgers just won. Good news, I guess. Excellent job by Hiroki Kuroda. Now, this BJM single is certainly no seven-inning, three-hit, one-earned-run performance (I knew you could do it, Hiroki), but it’s still mighty fine. Middle of the rotation stuff for sure, maybe better. It’s a minimal, Spacemen 3-esque primal psych-guitar workout on “Never Ever” (which was previously released in a far different version – I’m on the fence about whether or not to consider it the same song at all – under the name Acid in 1993); imagine “Heroin,” musically, if it never built to any climax. A lovely womblike atmosphere. Very warm-sounding. “Feelers” is lo-fi raga-rock, moaning vocals and sitar giving it the oomph it needs to come off a success instead of just a silly toe-dip into mystical trippiness. Even if neither song is especially tight or brilliantly constructed, this record creates the most consistently satisfying and overtly psychedelic mood of any Brian Jonestown single, and I’m tempted to consider it more Tim Hudson than Jamie Moyer.

You collectors in the crowd should know that “Never Ever” is included on the CD version of Spacegirl, and “Feelers” is on Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request (in an extended alternate version; I actually prefer the single, which has a great droning keyboard part that isn’t present on the LP), so don’t sweat it too hard if you can’t find the 7”. Instead, sweat the fact that Kaz Matsui is on the disabled list with an anal fissure. Have you heard about life? It’s not so fair.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Cold To The Touch

(Candy Floss/Tangible, 1995)

Hey, here it is! The big fruggin’ leap forward! The Brian Jonestown Massacre that some of the world sorta knows and maybe kinda loves! That cannily copped Stones-y menace really shows up here on “Cold to the Touch” for the first time in the sleazy, breathy vocals and dirty, trebly guitar. Plus Joel Gion’s famously-hot tambourine slappy-slap! It’s the sort of ragged, psych-tinged r’n’r that has remained the BJM’s bread and butter for over a decade, and heck, they had it perfected from the get-go. The even-more-wonderful “Anemone” has femme-vox and successfully goes for a groovy, hypnotic, head-nodding effect as opposed to the stoned rockin’ of “Cold…,” but it’s clearly from the same backwards-lookin’ brainspace as the A and makes for a nice flip. So yeah, this is a single that pretty much kicks your pants down the street bigtime, EXCEPT!!!! EXCEPT!!!! EXCEPT!!!! Except both songs appear in almost identical versions on Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request (“Anemone” is slightly different)! Which means that this pre-album taster surely got millions of wallets ready to spend back in those sexy days of 1995, but it’s kinda, uh, pointless now. Just buy the LP.

…or buy my 7” for BIG BUXxX on eBay. Come on, friend!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Brian Jonestown Massacre - Hide & Seek

(Candy Floss/Tangible, 1994)

It’s back to that dense shoegazey sound on “Hide & Seek,” this time with more fast-paced dreamrock action than we’ve heard previously. Great tom-heavy drumming and feedback-laced guitar, and, finally, there’s appropriate emphasis on the vocals. With that catchy lead-gtr part and vocal line, “Hide & Seek” is among the best of the early BJM songs, and you can count your lucky whatevers that it’s now widely available in HOT-POOP fidelity on the CD reissue of Spacegirl and Other Favorites, though that seems to be a radically different (and inferior!) mix – if not a totally different take. Gimme the CD’s clarity and the single’s mix... who can do that for me? WHO?

Next up is a live recording of “Methodrone” (NOT included on the Methodrone album; go figger), a song that has a lot in common with the era’s crop of blissed-out spacerockers in its delicate, guitars-only beginning that eventually builds to a pounding, repetitive, fuzz-laden climax. There is, however, a humorous, mood-puncturing curveball at the end as the whole thing dissolves into lounge piano – well done. Top-notch single overall, and the first hands-down winner of a disc in the BJM catalog. Hard to find a copy these days, but you could do worse than paying a few extra bucks to have one of these handy.