Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lambchop - Soaky In The Pooper

(Merge, 1994)

A song about offing yourself! In the toilet! By drowning! Yes sir, we’ve all considered doing JUST THAT every now and then, but perhaps it’s better to experience death vicariously through Lambchop’s lovely “Soaky in the Pooper,” which tells a black tale of suicide and its aftermath over lowing horns and pluck-a-pluck strings, Kurt Wagner’s deadpan delivery giving gravity to even the recitation of the ridiculous title line (which is brilliantly rhymed with “Better call the super”!). The studio-/tape-edit-trickery bullshit of B-side “Two Kittens Don’t Make a Puppy” is worthless, however; even the most dire of Elephant 6’ers would be ashamed to include this on any release. Still, if nothing else, I suppose it indicates that Lambchop, even in its earliest days, had ambitions far beyond the orchestral country-pop ghetto to which many wanted to consign the band. And as I sit here mulling this mellow-yet-dark record, you know what? I realize yet again that I really like these guys!

Oh, and speaking of “liking,” I’d “LIKE” to give a very special “fuck you” to the Spanish-speaking fellow who felt the need to scream into his cellphone through the final hour of our choo-choo trip to New York City tonight. I’d been hoping to rest in peaceful, grave-like silence as we rolled on down the tracks, but this dink made it necessary for me to blast loud music through my headphones in an effort to drown him out. So consider my nerves frazzled and my panties twisted on this post-Thanksgiving Sunday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ladybug Transistor - Brighton Bound

(Elefant, 2000)

Chocolate vinyl, vanilla music. Tee hee! But seriously, people, I never thought that the Ladybug Transistor quite lived up to their buddies (and bandmates) the Essex Green when it came to crafting, uh, charming pastoral chamber-pop. While they arguably might’ve had more breadth (as demonstrated by the convincing spaghetti-isms of “Cienfuegos”), they just didn’t have the extra songwriting oomph to push themselves beyond being – despite the horns and baritone vox – at best a junior-varsity Plush, let alone ever manage to create something as perfect as the EG’s “Fabulous Day.” All of which unfairly comes off as a slap, cuz this music is undeniably fine and, yes, quite nice… I’m just saying it’s not going to end up on a desert island with me anytime soon. And, for the record, “Brighton Bound” is on Argyle Heir, while “Cienfuegos” is on The Albemarle Sound, which makes this heavy-wax import single superfluous in the extreme. Still, as indicated, you might as well give the songs a listen over the internet the next time you have a moment or three; stuff ain’t bad.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Labradford - Julius

(Merge, 1994)

I suppose I should account for my absence this past week. You see, I was in Portland (The Bearded City), where I was attending a supercomputing conference and generally enjoying the cheap, rainy livin’… though the best part of the trip was not to come until the flight home, when I shared an airplane with Everclear’s Art Alexakis. Not only was the guy flying economy (latest album musta stiffed), there was also an entertaining anecdote to be collected and shared: my boss sat directly behind him, and at one point his seat started shaking so violently that she thought he was having a seizure. Upon leaning forward to make sure he was OK, she saw that famed vocalist Art was in fact laughing hysterically at a “greatest bloopers” video that was being screened as in-flight entertainment. Ha! A true man of the people!

Labradford is people too, so we can now transition neatly into a brief review of this rather swell early single. The group takes many of its cues from Sonic Boom’s work in Spectrum and late-period Spacemen 3, with its glacial minimalism and sung-spoke vocals. Quite pretty in a chilly sort of way, even if songs like the church-y, drumless “Julius” never build to any satisfying conclusion. “Columna de la Independencia” is similarly languid, like a sleepier, moodier American Analog Set (and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the AmAnSet guys were big Labradford fans in the early days). Neither song is significantly better than what you can find on the band’s easily-had LPs, but it’s all still manna from above for fans of druggy ’90s post-rock.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

L7 - Everglade

(Slash, 1992)

First, some personal business. Jason from the hyper-informative 7 Inches blog recently posted a recording of a telephone conversation we had, so please go forth and thrill to the beautiful sound of my sleepy voice as a coupla disc-geeks discuss various record-related topics at length. And as you look over his site, be sure to note that Jason is far smarter than I am in that he focuses on exciting NEW music while I waste my ever-shrinking time with oft-terrible older stuff. ALTHOUGH! To leap to my own defense, I do have my moments: Why, just last night I bought a copy of the latest Neil Hamburger 7”, a raging pisser on which he sings with Australian punk band The Hard-Ons. Famed rag The Village Voice happened to be on hand to document my purchase, and their website now carries the handsome photographic evidence. Calling all ladies!

Yes people, as the weather turns cold it’s a hot time indeed for the staff here at I Think I Hate My 45s, and things are only getting hotter as we stride boldly forth into reviews of bands whose names begin with the letter “L” (that being the hottest letter).

But oops: Unfortunately, L7 gets us off to a lousy start.

Yeah, lousy. I mean, it’s chunky riff-stuff with Vig production, so there’s a certain sheen that’s not exactly unappealing, but I can’t work up more than half-mast sympathy for the dum-dum anti-machoisms of the failed call-to-arms “Everglade.” Embarrassing it ain’t, but Grohl-meets-Hanna limp is what it is, so forget about it. And there’s even LESS brainpower on display on the B-exclusive “Freak Magnet,” which is a vomitous outsider wannabe-anthem that should’ve been left in the middle-school diary from which it apparently came. My knowledge of the L7 catalog is pretty limited, but was EVERYTHING they wrote intended to be a low-IQ rallying cry for the kids? And, like these songs, did all of those recordings fall totally flat on their faces? Answer or don’t!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kudgel - Alphabet Song

(Cinderblock, 1991)

For their debut, these Boston-area loudguys offer up a funny, foulmouthed take on ye olde alphabet ditty, with guitar-crazy choruses that call to mind what the folks in the Baker-fronted Mercury Rev were soon to be gettin’ up to themselves a few states over. The lyrical/compositional nuttiness of the song, however, perhaps places the tune more squarely in Cows territory – an equally fine place to be. B-side “Eskimo Pie” makes for a similarly intriguing Rev/Cows combo, its fucked sweet-n-gruff vocals and feedback antics balancing the melody and noise sides of the scales quite effectively. Winners both. And while the station sticker on my copy of this single, generously – ahem – “donated” to me by an obscenity-conscious WERS, warns “DO NOT PLAY,” you’d be something more than a fool to pass up any chance to check this one out should the opportunity ever present itself; unheralded though it may be in 2009, thing’s as good a piece of plastic to issue forth from the whateverground of the early ’90s as anything else collecting dust out there in record-store land.

Further: Cheeky chimpies, Kudgel packaged all 750 copies of “Alphabet Song” with “bonus singles” likely culled from local Salvation Army shops. Mine, long since gone, was Sonny & Cher’s “Baby Don’t Go.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kiss - Having Fun On Stage With Stanley

(no label, 19??)

Like the similarly-titled Elvis record before it, “Having Fun On Stage With Stanley” showcases the deep thoughts of a messianic dummy IN HIS ELEMENT by documenting the between-song stage banter of said goofus LIVE and RAW. Meaning that you’re getting prime Starchild here, buddy, as Paul shrieks and lisps his way through a series of passionate-yet-unconvincing spoken intros that touch on groupies, booze (COLD GIN!), Michael Jackson, and all manner of bizarre/gross penile innuendo. For kicks, a transcript of one of the tamer tracks:

“People! There are two ways, there are TWO WAYS I can talk to you people tonight. I can talk to you people like this is an audience at a rock and roll concert. Or I can talk to you people like you were our friends. Now, we have been to Los Angeles enough times to know that the people who came here tonight are most definitely OUR FRIENDS. Now I want to tell you a little story. But this is just between you and me. But I want to caution all you people: this story is a little bit… DIRTY. So if any of you people are offended by that kind of stuff, GET THE FUCK OUT. ARE YOU READY LOS ANGELES?! Because I’m gonna warn you one more time: this story has to do with S-E-X. This afternoon… this afternoon, we flew into Los Angeles, California, we landed in LAX airport, must’ve been about 3:30 this afternoon, and we was walkin’ through the terminal when all of a sudden a stewardess comes walkin’ over to me and says, ‘Are you in a band?’ And you know the way I dress. I looked at this girl and I said, ‘No, sweetheart, I am not in a band; I am a doctor.’ She said, ‘Really?!’ I said, ‘Baby, I am DOCTOR LOVE.’ Then she says to me, ‘You’re really a doctor, huh?’ And I said, ‘Baby, not only am I a doctor, but you see these guys over here? We are aaaaaaall doctors, and we are on our way to the Forum tonight to do a serious, major operation.’ Now, I’m lookin’ this girl upside down, I’m lookin’ her up, I’m lookin’ her down, I’m lookin’ at her sideways, and all of a sudden she says, ‘You know something? I know who you are. You are in a band.’ And I said to her, ‘Baby, I am not in a band, I am in THE band!!’”

…And cheers erupt, etc. At once hilarious, humiliating, horrifying, and hypnotic, this is in many ways the definitive Kiss record. Really: what sums the band up better than a series of crude, misogynistic, weirdly-compelling pimple-faced fantasies? This is IT, unfiltered, with no guitars/drums/bass to get in the way. The later appearance of the monster 70-track banter comp People, Let Me Get This Off My Chest (which doesn’t include everything found here) diminishes somewhat the importance of this 7”, but the disc’s still a very worthwhile find for the devoted, as Paul Stanley is undeniably a genius of... uh... well... sorts. And hey, if nothing else, these bootlegs are at least a whole lot more fun than the pitiful Live to Win and Sonic Boom travesties recently dumped onto the market. Get ’em, you!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kinks - Me And My Brother

(Frog, 19??)

One more Kinks review, and it’s a four-song collection of audience recordings from post-Think Visual tours, taped at various locations between May, 1987, and April, 1988. Happily, the rougher sound quality (and career-spanning song selection) makes this hodgepodge much more enjoyable than the band’s bland, glassy studio albums of the time, with a clunker like “How Are You” benefiting noticeably from a snappier tempo and cruder taping. The other three tracks are interesting novelties in that they’re all songs sung by Ray on the LPs and here handed off to Dave in the live setting. I’m certainly no rah-rah fan of the younger Davies’ voice, but he acquits himself well on both “Sleepwalker” and a raw “You Really Got Me,” even if he can’t quite give “Too Much on My Mind” the delicate treatment it needs. While hardly a spectacular boot, this is a nice companion to the not-as-awful-as-it-should-be The Road live alb that was recorded around the same time. Heck, if anyone’s dumb enough to ever reissue that unloved disc, these tracks would make for real fine bonus tracks. Worth considering, richie riches of the world.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kinks - Lost And Found

(MCA, 1987)

BREAKING! Kinks in adult-contemporary autopilot-hackery shocker! Yup, “Lost and Found,” which lent its name to an MCA comp that was a cutout-bin mainstay in my formative years, has all the clich├ęs: a midtempo plod, sleek synths, two lame guitar solos, and screaming saxophones. Practically comes off as a parody of such late-’80s nonsense; thing could’ve easily featured on the soundtrack of a cheesy Top Gun-style movie. Oh, and “Killing Time” makes another appearance on the B-side, where it continues to stink.

Sigh.

You know, grumping about lousy Kinks records for the last few weeks has ceased to be much fun, so I’ll inject some positivity by mentioning that the reunited Jesus Lizard is terrific in concert. And that Andrew Loog Oldham’s symphonic Rolling Stones Songbook album is a must-hear. And that John Bellairs remains a pleasure to read. Yeah: hooray for stuff!