Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forensics - Has Anyone Unknown To You Handled Or Touched This Record?

(Magic Bullet, 2003)

I acquired this record as a promo about five years ago, during the period in which I was trying to scare up some cash by writing about music (HA!). Can’t say that I have much nostalgia for those poverty-stricken days of terrible freebies and faked enthusiasm, but this Forensics single, while only getting played perhaps twice over the years, is at least OK enough to have avoided both the garbage can and the resale shop. “Boat Day at the Marina” is heavy and lively aggresso-chug that moves from near-boogie to fist-pump to introspective head-bob to full-on roar, while the B-side is reasonably violent whatever-wave metal with a dollop of mathiness. It’s pissed, it’s taut, it does what it needs to do. Sure, I don’t expect I’ll be digging this record out again anytime soon, but I’ll betcha muscular genre-lunks worldwide could get behind the _____ these cats are ______ing. And maybe that’s a line you’d want to be in?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Foot Village - Rock Is Hell

(Rock is Hell, 2008)

We get a much-improved and totally-focused Foot Village on this single, doing its particular thing MORE faster and MORE furiouser and MORE fucked-up’er than ever – dudes are a PCP-crazed drum corp still willing to make room for the pep squad on the chant-based “Chicken N’ Cheese 2,” and happy to inexplicably toss a little Vanilla Ice (“Ninja Rap”) into “Bones.” “Iceland” is a bit more abstract and “free” than I’d like, but everything else here is absolute wall-shaking head-crush. Proves that a buncha drums and screaming are about all you need in order to make a good record. Oh, and for maximum convenience and obtainability, this one’s available exclusively as an Austrian import in a rumored edition of 167.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Foot Village - Untitled

(Oedipus/Deathbomb Arc/Silencio, 2005)

These crazies make the hall of fame for releasing – no shittin’ – the only record to which I’ve ever had an allergic reaction. Foot Village’s World Fantasy 10” came packaged in a large cardboard box, with the vinyl nestled among pine needles, leaves, and various tree-leavings of the naked west. After taking it into my home, I was sneezing and red-eyed for a week, and eventually had to wipe down both the record and the box with a damp paper towel, as they were coated with an air-polluting, pollen-rich film. Lo! I suffered mildly for their art!

No such hijinks with this debut 7”, I’m afraid (am I?), but the band does do a fine job, live on the radio, of laying out the freaked aural-splatter and stoned whatsis it’s been pursuing from “go”: Four drummers, a few screamers, and a conceptual framework that involves collecting info on other countries so that the group can eventually form its own. And even if the kit insanity hasn’t quite reached the full-on assault of later album Friendship Nation, there are some ultra-satisfying blasts of percussion and yowl on “Mexico” that made it real clear at release time that future records were gonna be worth a listen. And they have been! Early-days catch-all Fuck the Future includes these three tracks as well as other nascent tub tantrums, and then the intensity leaps for the aforementioned (and scatalogical) Friendship Nation record and triple-12” Pisspounder drum-band collection.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fontana - I Feel Like A Jerk

(X!, 2007)

Loose garage stoopidity that seems more intent on making with the party-hearty than fellow Michigan travelers Tyvek, due to the inclusion of exciting lead guitar and those yelping dual-vox (though trash-epic “You’re Obscene” betrays a bit of bizarro ambition as it busts into multiple sections and a relatively long run-time). Plopping down a Stooges comparison is a pretty tired trick at this point, yes, but I do think it’s fair to consider these guys a cheerier update on the slam-bang primitivism of early Ig. Along with ultimate-idiot Jersey buddies Liquor Store, Fontana’s doing the style just right, thankya. Great sleeve on this one, and a great title, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Flying Saucer Attack - Coming Home

(Domino, 1997)

One more! “Coming Home” is a cover of a band called the Prisoners, done here in a very space-rock fashion, much like the Boston and Philly groups of the late ’90s, and not too far from what Spacemen 3 was up to in the early days. A terrific, repeating guitar part keeps the song in hypnotic head-nod territory while the ultra-basic toms and untreated voice give us a grittier and more human Flying Saucer Attack than we’ve heard in years past. And? Searing guitars and a languid tempo characterize the less satisfying “Hope,” which would exist as semi-aggressive filler on an LP had it been compiled – unlike all other FSA singles, these songs appear nowhere else, so you’d better pony up for this one if you want to walk proud among the Initiated.

After this, Pearce would put out one more album – Mirror – and then retire the group name, seemingly for good. As far as I know, there have only been his Clear Horizon collaboration with Jessica Bailiff and VHF’s officially-sanctioned tape-scrounging live/rehearsal CDR (PA Blues) since then. Even if it’s only gonna be further archival whatsit, let’s keep those fingers crossed for more releases in the years to come; FSA’s material didn’t vary too widely, but it was/is consistently satisfying and exhilarating stuff that hangs together awfully well – aesthetically? vision-wise? – as a body of dense, lo-fi, post-psych work. Where you at, Dave Pearce?! COME BACK!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flying Saucer Attack - Beach Red Lullaby

(Planet, 1995)

Funny how little I have to say about a band I like so much; I suppose there’s a finite number of times you can repeat the words “fuzz,” “feedback,” and “distortion” before you start to feel self-conscious about the poor quality of your writing. Lucky dog that I am, though, FSA is in gentle, reverb-soaked Britfolk mode for the lady-sung “Beach Red Lullaby,” so I don’t need to trot out those overused and not-too-helpful descriptions this time around. Haw! “Second Hour” puts us on more familiar, noisy ground, but it picks its way forward at a pace slow enough to make it a suitable companion to the watery space-folk of the A-side. Find ’em both on this obscure edition of 1,300 copies, or take the coward’s way out and nab the Chorus compilation. Jerk.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flying Saucer Attack - Land Beyond The Sun

(Drag City, 1994)

“Land Beyond the Sun” is sort of an FSA love song (lyrically), with the usual reverb, distortion, and rudimentary drumming blasting things off into drugged-out brainspace, though with relatively discernable vocals. The B-side, “Everywhere Was Everything,” takes it even further, going for impenetrably dense, searing waves of guitar that shudder and slither all over each other as the song builds to a lo-fi psych climax. The latter is one of Pearce’s best, I reckon. Listening to these songs, it occurs to me that the genius of these records is that reasonably straightforward tracks are being dressed up – and I don’t consider this gimmickry – with fantastic layers of fuzz that allow you to either focus on or totally ignore the underlying melodic content. And different days bring different preferences, as far as these ears are concerned.

Ah! Special alert for completists! This 7” was released in a variety of sleeves by labels in both
England and the USA, and its tracks later got issued in that hot digital format via the import “Outdoor Miner” CD single.

Flying Saucer Attack - Crystal Shade

(FSA, 1994)

The “Crystal Shade” single – Flying Saucer Attack’s third – takes a mood-/texture-based approach rather than a standard “song”-based one. On the trebly A-side, the rhythm section is more implied than present, and Pearce’s sighing vocals are buried in the distortion-drenched mix, MBV style, creating a track that, for lack of a better word, undulates instead of, uh, rocks. “Distance” is a ghostly, echo-heavy drum loop that gets slowly overwhelmed by buzzing, churning feedback – pleasant, though nothing spectacular. Overall, it’s not as strong a disc as “Soaring High,” but when the songs are woven into the Distance comp, they make for relaxing, zone-out mood-music well-suited to autumn and lengthy bus rides.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Flying Saucer Attack - Soaring High

(VHF, 1993)

Flying Saucer Attack is one of my favorites, and the group certainly oughta sit near the top of any nerd-boy’s list of the great neglected psychedelic bands of the 1990s. It’s all about super-saturated guitar fuzz – which Dave Pearce pulls off in a quite pretty fashion, with surprisingly delicate melodies that are encased in layers of billowy (and sometimes harsh) effects/feedback. Pearce is also capable of standard psych-guitar heroics, as at the end of “Soaring High,” where he tears things up Bevis Frond-style while helping his cause with some aggressive stereo panning. These two early tracks push melody to the fore while maintaining noise-freak legitimacy, mixing Pearce’s folk and feedback inclinations more fully than much of the FSA work that soon followed. Those records tend to go for either gentler, voice- and acoustic-based space-balladry or neglect the prominent rhythm section heard here (check out the lumbering bass on “Standing Stone”) for high-volume, ambient distorto-float. The handy, world-ruling Distance CD compiles this and other early singles for those who can’t be bothered to hunt down the band’s many limited 7” releases.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Flying Lizards - Money

(Virgin, 1979)

Semi-refining the glacial toy-store give-a-shitisms of “Summertime Blues,” the Flying Lizards continue their entertaining traipse into the novelty noise-fuckery cul-de-sac with yet another r’n’r remake. This one at least contains more “out” soundz guitar-/synth-wise, and the B is a suitably clanky dub version, but just how many deconstructionist covers do we actually need? Certainly not multiple albums worth… go ahead and pick out a Flying Lizards LP (or single!) at random, then sleep soundly knowing that you’ve heard all you’ll ever need to hear from these goofballs.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Flying Lizards - Summertime Blues

(Virgin, 1978)

The Flying Lizards’ version of Cochran’s mass-mind standard “Summertime Blues” stutters and lurches in the opposite direction from Blue Cheer’s guitar-freakout blat-cover of same with no longing looks back. Total mechanized harshness with aggressively icy femme mumbling – rebellion is boring, so is the rawk formula by ’78. Kraftwerk and Bowie had worked at times in a roughly similar realm, but those guys had at least some finesse and grace on display in what they did… the Flying Lizards are clunky, clang-clang-clang industro-crud with about zero concessions made to HUMANITY and FEELING; “petulant minimalism,” sez an insightful sleevenote. B-side “All Guitars” (a group original) is similarly alien soundtrack/instro stuff, a more rudimentary Tubeway Army, mebbe. Interesting and unsettling all around. These folks ran in the same circles as fellow pop-destructocons Family Fodder, appropriately enough, and if you imagined the stripping of that band of all energy and emotion, you’re mentally moping in Lizard League, see. Picture = got.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thee Flying Dutchmen - Dance To Die Flyink Dutchmen

(Boom-Boom, 2004)

More Boom-Boom means more mono toga-jams, more hissy crock (o’ shit!) ’n’ roll built to soundtrack the next meeting between palooka forehead and empty beercan. This one’s as alive as anything else on the label, a frantic punk-stumble soaked in a screeching garage organ that gives the songs a more “classic” feel than relatively with-it (!!) brother group the Fe Fi Fo Fums. Real as it gets… False starts, arguments, fart-noises, laughter – rehearsal as “finished” product. As the “Honorable Code of the Fang Club Goofateer” commands (my membership card happens to be stored in this very sleeve), “THOU SHALT DIG TRASH! THOU MUSTETH!!” The punchline, and it’s a swell one: Thee Flying Dutchmen released at least three singles and an LP, all of which will be collectable and sought after by dopes in the know some day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Flowchart - Sideshow All The Way

(Motorway, 1996)

In the liners for Flowchart’s singles comp (on which both of these songs appear), top-dog Sean O’Neal makes eye-rolling mention of the endless comparisons between his band and Stereolab. Now, I can understand the guy’s frustration at his work perhaps not being taken on its own terms, but shucks… how can anyone possibly listen to something like “Sideshow All the Way,” with its bouncy, feel-good, island-in-the-stratosphere Stereolabisms, and “Dainty Pilgrimage” – all burbling synths, German beats, and cooing vocals – and not think of Gane and co.? They can’t! Nope! But I’ll tell you this: any parallels drawn are certainly positive ones, because O’Neal has constructed a coupla excellent tunes here that may tread ground similar to – similar to, not derivative of – his more famous counterparts, but there oughta be more than enough room in any Frank or Jill’s collection for work from both bands. The handful of Flowchart EPs and singles I own (all from 1994 – 1997) are uniformly OK, and I can safely recommend any of ’em to people I don’t dislike. Even if I can’t say that I’m so sure about the apparently more club-oriented late-period releases, I’ll raise my megaphone and shout that the early stuff will always make for a dime well-spent.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Flipper - Flipper Twist

(Matador, 1992)

Say, this is more like it! Tighter and screamier (almost in a Dee Snyder sense) than what one might expect from Flipper, “Flipper Twist” is a snappy retardo romp that’s just as singalong-ready as “Sex Bomb,” and operates on a similar level of goofy fun. A great song for hearing and loving and having and hugging! Real head-sticky, too! The less memorable “Fucked Up” has a lot in common with the seriousness of the so-so previous single, but Bruce Lose’s echo-heavy vocals are far more effective here than those on “Some Day.” Overall – thanks largely to the A-side – this record is a big improvement, even if the emphasis is again unfortunately placed on the singing rather than the bludgeoning power of the instruments. Both songs (along with “Some Day” and “Distant Illusion”) ended up on the American Grafishy album, which was released on Def American and executive produced by the gentle hand of noted beardo Rick Rubin. Who’da thunk?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Flipper - Some Day

(Subterranean, 1990)

Now recognized as an Important Influence, Bruce, Ted, and Steve are back to do their Flipper Shtick once more, even though singer Will Shatter had ditched the band a few years earlier in order to focus full-time on being dead. That means that Lose is left to take all the vocals, and you’re certainly itchin’ to know: how does THAT work out? Well, if choked sing-rapping and choked sing-screaming are your bag, then you oughta take this little record out to the corner store tomorrow morning and carry your goods home in it, because that’s EXACTLY WHAT YOU GET. But before you go using a Flipper reunion single as a grocery sack, consider that the songs themselves are mediocre and rather tired rehashes of what had come before. They’re not terrible – no sir! – it’s just that they don’t have the edge and catchiness of the earliest records, the weirdness of the second album, or the smart/dumb humor of the ’80s catalog as a whole. As with the Bruce-songs on, say, Gone Fishin’, the lyrics are more serious and “poetic” (which isn’t surprising on “Some Day,” given that it’s a tribute to Shatter), mostly to their detriment; I mean, do we really need another impassioned attack on scenesterism, as on “Distant Illusion”? Anyway: as a re-creation of the heavy Flipper sound of days gone by, this is a not-embarrassing second go-round for three-fourths of the old band – just make sure to go into it expecting regressive ultra-seriousness rather than a disc of shiny, new (in 1990) drunkpunk classics.