Sunday, December 30, 2012

Here, We Found Your Stupid Bike

I'm glad there's finally a vinyl label in CT being run someone who's actually in a decent band and knows how to do things right, actually this isn't the only label in CT that's doing that, I just felt like being a dick and saying it. Fins is one or two guys from Open Star Clusters' mersh attempt I think, but I don't really know because I can't recognize any of the guys in the photo, they all look like they've freshened up for their new jobs starting tomorrow at Barnes and Noble or something. Open Star Clusters were unstructured and noisy as fuck, and Fins are fairly noisy too, but in that AmRep sort of way with tuff rock moves and some slight melodies and stuff, so if you've been pining for more bands that sound like they could be on Wäntage -- or Landlords crossed with Gaunt maybe -- then this is your deal.

This might not be one of those Australian bands that are made up of people who are also in other bands, although you can use Google and explore that yourself, in which case you'll find out that "Big Time" was a (sometimes-okay) mostly-shitty record label back in the '80s, known for bands like The Pastels and the Go-Betweens. And fucken Love & Rockets. Not that Bitch Prefect has any passing familiarity with any of those bands, actually they're more in league with stuff like Dick Diver and The Twerps, especially The Twerps. There's songs on here like "Sunday" and "Bad Decisions" that are so good you'd swear The Clean had written them already. There's a kind of word-association essay printed on the insert, it doesn't really pass as a lyric sheet but it's not a thank-you list, either. Sorta like how this is almost a review, but not really.

My familiarity with the local noise scene is somewhat limited, although I've seen Colorguard a couple of times and also Bella Reese (i.e. Chris Point of Weak Flesh), so I won't pretend like I know what I'm talking about here. What can be pretty fascinating about noise stuff when I'm standing there watching it, is that I don't know how repeatable any of it is, so it seems like once the 5-or-10-minute set is done, that's it, you'll never hear it again. Colorguard is Kryssi (who also plays in Mountain Movers and had some stuff on the last Estrogen Highs LP), and what I like about Colorguard's pieces is that there's something she does that sounds like sandpaper being scraped across sheet metal, and also she uses samples that sound like old 78's being played at weird speeds and stuff. I don't hear any of that here, but I could just have the tape on the wrong side. Weak Flesh doesn't have any of the porno soundbites that Chris' Bella Reese project had (hence the name change?), but it's still a pretty intense listen anyway. By the way, the tracks are called "Needle Wrecker" and "Rubber Baptism", in case you're still looking for your next TurdBlow log-on name or something.

I don't even actually own this record, I bought the mp3's on Amazon a couple weeks ago because I just got a new Kindle and I wanted something decent to listen to on it. So hopefully On The Rag or whichever lab' put this thing out got their 40 cents per track out of the deal, or whatever. "Wayne County Roads" seems to be the 'hit', the kind of song that you could play in front of a David Bowie fan or a Spoon person and they'd think it's sorta neat before saying "the fuck's the deal with that guy trying to sing?", though if you want real singing you can go listen to a Maroon 5 record or something (I presume that guy from Maroon 5 can sing because he's on the only reality show that doesn't have Dave Navarro on it). I've been seeing on a bunch of 'semi-important' review sites now where reviewers are complaning about the 'flat' singing on Tyvek and Estrogen Highs records, which odds-are means the writer's history with underground rock doesn't go back very far -- I mean, when you grow up listening to the Screamers or Electric Eels or scattered Dangerhouse stuff like Eyes or something, it doesn't bother you that the guy doesn't know how to carry a tune or anything, you figure that it just makes things more interesting that way. Anyway, this isn't as blown-out as "Nothing Fits" -- it's probably closer in sound and style to "Fast Metabolism" -- and there's a handful of songs that I'm skipping over already, but if you asked me to name a better American band than Tyvek for the past 5 years or so I'd probably tell you to move along with your stupid face and go bother someone else. This isn't the first Tyvek record to have only two good songs on it, except the other ones all happen to be singles.

There's a bunch of bands up in Canada now who sound like this, sorta hard, sorta punk, sorta grunge, sorta shoe-gazey all at once -- bands like Bloodhouse and Crystal Swells and Fist City and Bad Vibrations and Nü Sensae -- only Ruined Fortune are from Australia, so they're fucking with your formula a bit I guess. I think this 7" is great, it's like a total sock to the face, especially "Hope Diamond" which is the flip. Plus it's on R.I.P. Society so it should be easy to find, like that Royal Headache LP that everyone seems to think came out in 2012.

Rational Animals have been messing with the Black Flag '84/'85 recipe for a while now, only with a sense of humor about it, so you can actually rock out while listening them instead of feeling like disembowling yourself or whatever. I know that Zach has taken hits for how simple his lyrics are, but the way he puts the lines together is pretty clever sometimes, plus everyone in the band plays like a motherfucker. If you thought "Bock Rock Parade" was essential (and it kinda is) then do whatever you can to track down these last two 7"-ers, because they take what they were doing on the LP and fine-tune the stomp ratio so that it smacks your ass even harder. I prefer the Cowabunga 7" over the one on Katorga Works, because the b-side holds up a bit better, but they're both pretty much worth the five bucks or whatever a stupid 7" costs these days. I think "Eating My Words" might be an older song that they've only gotten around to recording now, not sure, but it stomps as good as anything on "Physical Graffiti" which might be overstating things a bit (plus I don't really like Led Zeppelin anyway) but what the hell, I'm not trying to impress anybody.

Jeremy Porter first caught my ear as the frontman of SlugBug back in the '90s, and then more recently in the Replacements-ish OffRamps, and now with this even-more-Replacements-ish solo 7". He doesn't quite have the growl to pull off a mover like "Night on The Town" the way I think it could be done, but that's fine, it's good nonetheless, as is the flip (which isn't a ballad as you might expect but a Pontiac Brothers-styled rocker). The song that I like best on the 7" isn't even on the 7" itself: a cracking good cover of the Jimmy Webb chestnut "Galveston" done almost Yo La Tengo style, which comes as an extra track with the free download. Kinda funny to think that Glen Campbell used to have a show on TV when I was a kid, with all his drugs and fucked-up-ness and all, but then again I'm older than most of you except for Malcolm maybe.

Gremlins U.K. is actually Spent (ex-Closet Fairies/Maine Coons/etc) and aren't from England at all, which makes the band name seem less stupider (BECAUSE IT'S A JOKE, GET IT?), although they mis-spelled "Don't Give Em Enoug Rope" on the back sleeve so we're probably back to it being stupid again. I kinda think a couple of the songs here sound a lot like Lurve, except that no one knows who Lurve is so when I tried to describe them to somebody I said "Lurve sound like Estrogen Highs if Estrogen Highs were trying to get signed", but then again Spent isn't trying to get signed to anything, he's just doing whatever the fuck he wants. And he hasn't fucked up yet. Buy this, it's got song titles like "Hey Mongo" and "You Live in a Park", and "Ham Fisted Love" sounds like the Obits crossed with the Kinks, plus it's on the same label that gave us Teenage Softies and that great Nervosas 7". Scum stats: why give a shit

The two best sets I saw this past year were Bloody Gears up at The Flywheel and Cleansing Wave at The Whitney House, and this was after seeing Cleansing Wave two other times where they didn't exactly knock me out, but that third time was a total shit-kicker. Cleansing Wave released a ripper of a demo almost two years ago which set the expectations pretty high, and now finally this 7" comes out and it's every bit as fucking nuts as you'd want it to be: loud as hell and all over the place, like d-beat crust stuff mixed with Japanese noise worshipping shit. The packaging is pretty heavy, too -- thick green vinyl, a separate fold-out poster besides the picture sleeve, and a kinda cool-looking lyric sheet printed on cardstock (don't mind me, the Poison Idea-shirt-dude just cracks me up).

I don't know if the lead track, "Work In The Morning", is a kiss-off or what ("I know I called you up, but you talk such nonsense; don't you know I've got work in the morning?"), but at a minute-thirty-three it's pretty funny, like, "I said what I wanted to say and now I'm out". Most of the rest of the LP is like that, too -- saying what you mean to say using as little as possible, although "spare" doesn't totally describe this record ("Dirty Flowers" is pretty noisy, after all, and then it cuts off when it's right in the middle of something which is fucking great). I like this record a lot and I'm not sure why, though I keep coming back to listen to it again and again; maybe because it's people talking about real stuff that's probably happened to them, and not just some guys in dress shirts and wool ties up on stage at The Space trying to write songs because they think that's what you'd like to hear. This probably gets the award for my no-bullshit record of the year, in which case the band's name is almost perfect.

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