Sunday, February 26, 2012

WE CARE SO YOU'S CAN SCRATCH YOUR ASS ALL DAY




Some of you might be aware that we are looking at publishing the sixth print issue of 200LBU in the somewhat distant future. 'Til then, here's some record reviews in the non-tangible form to hold you over. 

REVIEWERS: Tony Rettman (TR) Max Milgram (MM) Tom DeAngelo (TD)





ANITA FIXX AND BAM BAM - Run for Joy b/w 20 Second Bugs (Ride the Snake, 7”)

A couple members of Pittsburgh’s long defunct Dead at 24 (Anita Fix being, I believe, the drag queen moniker of one of ‘em) still dishing out the stark stuff as they close in on middle age. The 2009 reissue of Dead at 24’s Blast off Motherfucker!, also released by Boston’s generally reliable Ride the Snake, was one of my favorite music-related surprises of that year, and it’s nice to see that these guys are still active in one form or another. What’s even nicer is the fact that the quality of this single is of a level no lesser than what I’ve heard from their old band, and fits in rather well with the rather dour shit storm they previously emitted. Suppose it’s a bit less sprawling than the majority of Blast Off… (It is a single though after all, so maybe their other material is looser), but it’s a nice blend of no-wave and garage that’d likely turn many heads and go for a decent amount of clams (Inflatable Boy Clams, perhaps?) were it recorded anywhere between ’78-’82. The a-side’s a nice stumblin’ number somebody decided to title Run for Joy and it’s gotta shuffling quality that reminds me more n’ a little bit of the Moe Tucker/SCG collaboration Paris 1942. I’ve listened to it maybe four/five times so far and it’s already wormed its way into my puny brain fer good. The other side, 20 Second Bugs, is a live recording of acceptable sound quality, and features a particularly devastating one-chord riff that rises and falls half way through like a stiff poke to the eyes, as if Brazilian psych band Persona were raised on cheap Steel City beer, Lemon Kittens and car exhaust fumes. Labels are switched on my copy, for whatever it’s worth (absolutely nothing, accept maybe added confusion). It’d be a shame if this thing fell through the cracks like D@24’s work originally did. Though the cover art really is horrendous, and I couldn’t blame anybody for not picking it up if they didn’t know what it was, this single’s about as good a pairing as any that have made it my way over the course of this nearly folded calendar year. - TD



AVON LADIES - Guns & Gold (Katonga Works, 7”)

I’m not going to pretend to having anything of a working knowledge for the Cleveland Hardcore scene of the 90’s. While Nine Shocks Terror and The H-100’s were blowing tiny minds with their re-working of Japanese goods, I was more than likely high as a kite in some dimly lit New Brunswick attic trying to recreate the Glastonbury Fayre of ‘71 by crawling inside a makeshift pyramid. But I’m not gonna lie and say that first Integrity 7” didn’t hand me my own ass on a plate when I was a senior in high school. How could it not? When the Homostupids came out of nowhere to blur the line between weird and stupid, I went back trying to connect the dots between them and this scene, but it was hopeless. I felt like I should’ve been wearing a bad toupee and a Hot Topic purchased ‘Dwid is God!’ shirt as I innocently asked the local youth if they would like to trade a copy of Texas Death Match for a lock of Claude Delcloo’s pubes. But I learned enough from those humiliating episodes to know Chris Erba (ex - H-100’s, Upstab and Ruiners vocalist) is/was a true vocal shred master who somehow morphed the hanging yowl of Darby Crash with the nicotine stained roar of Cal Discharge only to spew out something even more twisted than how that reads/sounds. And would you looky here, Chris is back to destroy his vocal chords once again with some ex-members of Pigeon Religion and boy oh boy does it make the blood boil. The sound is Sabbath funneled through My War funneled through to Eye for an Eye and Chris’ voice still sounds disgustingly choice. So if you’re not the type to normally warm up to a kaftan and a mug of dandelion tea every evening before turning in, I think you know how to move on this one.  – TR



BLACK HUMOR – Love God/Love One Another (Superior Viaduct, LP)

The first release from a label set to focus on essential SF art punk from back when “crack was what you were doing when you were doing crack,” and a fine way to get things crackin’ at that. This reissue of the sole 1982 product of Black Humor has gotten a decent amount of ink already, but this hack’s happy to throw his share of bad feelings into the swirling pool of man milk, as I’ve been wanting to own a copy since reading Min from the A Frames articulate musings on it in the first issue of Z Gun (just like you I bet!) A hard record to place; seemingly at odds with the politically correct consciousness of the bay area scene that surrounded it, it’s provocative post-industrial post-punk of fairly downtrodden lot. Some of the stuff coming out of the UK such as CON-DOM seems to be the most apt sonic reference point to my ears, but, much like Louisville’s Circle X (another worthy bed partner), this thing’s as American as it gets in terms of execution and presentation. Things start off miserably, perfectly with Undancing in the Dirt, and by the time you get to the side-one closing trudge of You Can Have It!, if you’ve still got any faith left in your fellow man I guess it’s time for you to throw on your happy time sunglasses and hang in garage Fonziedom forevermore. The B-side’s got a lot of group shouting, sound clips and sloganeering, like any number of Crass records releases from around the same period, but with a more sinister sense of humor (a “black” one, possibly?) that separates it from that scene as well. Superior Viaduct’s got a loaded schedule of other desirable releases lined up, such as lost Noh Mercy recordings, the ever elusive Factrix LP, and a personal favorite in German Sheppard’s famed Music for Sick Queers. A needle-thin injection of sunshine into the otherwise perpetual gray of your unquestionably petty, pathetic life, I’d hazard a firm handshake’s in order for whoever’s responsible if and when these end up seeing the light of day.  And for now, rest assured that if you can judge a record based on the number of swastikas its cover fits onto the American flag (I’ve certainly yet to find a better method), than this ranks up there with the best of ‘em. - TD


 COP CITY/CHILL PILLARS – Held Hostage on Planet Chill (Florida’s Dying, LP)

I have to admit it’s been awhile since a record has come out of nowhere and perplexed me as much as this one does. The name…the cover…the sound…all the way down the line it’s a total mind fuck. From the basement s√©ance opener Nobody Likes You to the stumbling, snot-nosed comedown of So Messed Up, CC/CP make it painfully obvious they are projecting from a universe entirely of their own with no making it weird for the sake of it. Is this what The Shadow Ring would have sounded like towards the end if someone played Graham Lambkin a copy of Behind The Magnolia Curtain rather than the Extended Voices compilation? My beer soaked mind says, ‘Yeah, sure…why not? Can we have dinner now?’ – TR


DARK LION – (Vinyl Rites/Static Gold, 7”)


Posthumous thing from a bassless trio out of Florida in the early 00’s that pretty much melts my brain every time I throw it on. I’m guessing the more jaded types will take a look at the earnest political sentiments contained on here and make an icky poo face, but fuck it, the things sounds like Noh Mercy, The Wrecks, Sleeping Body and The Manacled wrestling in a god damned trash can, so who cares? And anyway, G.W was an obvious fucking bastard, so they ain’t in the wrong. Glad to have picked this up on a whim. – TR



DEGREASER – Bottom Feeder (Negative Guest List, LP)

In my half-assed assessment, there have always seemed to exist two distinct schools of contemporary burly man-rock, a “sick”, “heavy”, and decidedly song based approach, and a looser, more crud-caked rendering. Yet New York City’s Degreaser, led by Tasmanian ex-pat Tim Evans, seem to toe the line between the two rather adeptly, neither fully reveling in the delay soaked mongo-riffage of, say, Violent Students, but a far cry away from the slick production and wacky antics of a Pissed Jeans or the like. The songs on this album are spiteful, hateful, meandering and dark, but they’re certainly songs in there, near kraut-rock excursions of circular drum patterns and plodding bass with a phased out guitar ringin’ for all its worth over top while a man bellows out all the bad decisions he’s managed to make in his life so far. I don’t know about you reader, but I kinda had my fill of this thing a couple years ago when it was all the rage and all these little pipsqueaks were dead set on trying to start some pseudo-transgressive kiddy bands ‘cos they downloaded a Brainbombs album that week or whatever, but something’s ringing on this ‘un that tells me the players involved got a little more class than that. The atmosphere is slow and oppressive, putting it up there with the work of Twin Stumps, if you’re looking for a modern comparison, and, based on the bass heavy plucking and uncomfortable commentary, Blight if going backwards. Amid the torrent of insignificant thoughts likely eddying around the hollow cavities of your fractured psyche is possibly the inquiry “Do I really need this record in my life?” That is a question only you, brave record review reader, can answer, but if you’re desperate for a quality piece to add to your refined hate-rock collection (and let’s face it, of course you are!) than this innit nothing like a bad addition to that edifice. - TD


FACTORYMEN – Yellow Eyes and the Sound of Vomit (Richie, 12” EP)

A lot of people seem to think of the solo endeavors by Steven Peffer as some sort of inside joke with the man himself; like he’s dishing out all this dementia onto vinyl only to chuckle about it in his bathtub at a later date. Maybe I’m the dink in this situation, because I don’t hear anything of a thrown off/ jack off nature in any of his work thus far; especially on this latest big top offering. Yellow Eyes… finds Peffer making that big, gawky step into the goop of a fully realized though totally unconscious realm of aural oneness. And yeah, I’d even go so far to say his stuff spirals around the same universe of American-made homespun worlds created by the likes of Douglas Breggar, Kenneth Higney, or even Jim Shepard. I guess by tying him in with the above mentioned dudes, the question will be raised, ‘Is this one of those ‘real people’ records I read so much about on the blogs?’ Well, since I have seen Steve in the flesh and know that he is in fact a real person, then yes…sure. Whatever it takes to get some Swede to sell this thing for $300 ten years from now. – TR



CHRIS FORSYTH - Paranoid Cat /Dreams  (Family Vineyard, LP's)                              

Paranoid Cat is Chris Forsyth's best record yet. And who's to argue? Find me a better Chris Forsyth record. You cannot. And the title track is the reason why, man. A simple, nay, hummable little guitar licks opens the side-long suite that gradually introduces bass, harmonium, drums, piano, trumpet, and more guitars. The guitars are clean and fluid, intertwining in a fashion that harkens back to Marquee Moon; or at least to Foxhole. And it's awesome. But as steam builds and the drums get a little more insistent what was mere elegance becomes pure majesty. Majesty like Das Hohelied Salomos/ Letzte Tage-Letzte Nachte-era Popol Vuh. Soaring, spiraling guitars. Absolutely killer. The B-side is in a less expansive mood, but it's pretty difficult to follow up that epic. Three shorter pieces, with New Pharmacist Boogie sounding like Al Wilson contracting rabies (the paranoid cat strikes again!) and Front Street Drone utilizing slide guitar. There's another song too but I don't remember it, nothing against the track.

Also out on the streets is a re - issue of an earlier record called Dreams. This one fluctuates a little wilder between more immediately discernible melodicism and the sort of confusing not-rock that Forsyth's band PSI (I'm not spelling that shit out) specialized in. But even when there's some some klanging around or whatever, you know there's gonna be some "tasty licks" to even it out.   That's why it works. Balance! I do have to profess a fondness for a particular ditty named Soft History that sounds like Rhys Chatam playing Roger McGuinn (or maybe the other way around), with its repetitive chiming guitar minimalism. But the entire thing is good, real good. If forced into some twisted and evil scenario where a madman demanded I chose which record is superior I would say Paranoid Cat, which is also his newer one.  Which means he's just getting better and better!  So the next one is gonna be even more killer!  Both deserve a handsome spot in your collection. I recommend to file them alphabetically like any sane person. – MM


Various Artists – LIFE IN THE FUTURE – SWEDISH POST-PUNK & SYNTH WAVE 79 – 87 (No Label, LP)

I’d pretty much dump my wallet on the counter for any piece of vinyl that had a subtitle such as this one; I guess I’m just an all-day sucker in that way. Some stuff on here – such as the tracks by Mats Olofsson, Reason to Live and Vitality for instance- are a little too tight for my turtleneck, but the majority of the stuff in this collection has enough crude dynamics and non-electro moves to get a gut owner such as myself excited. The gemstones on here are the infamous Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons coming off like a more tightly wound version of The Eyes, Modern Art and Cortes proving someone must have been sneaking early releases from the Zoo label into the country and Unter Den Linden, whose vocalist wins the award for best Ian Curtis imitation with an entire penis in his mouth. – TR   


SCREAM - Jerry’s Free!  (no label, cassette)

Pretty amazing archival release of the sessions Scream recorded with the dearly departed Jerry Williams back in ’82 for the ill-fated Bad Brains curated compilation LP. As expected, the quality is pretty rough, but when you ponder the fact how few have actually heard this session - never mind the whole stinkin’ compilation - you really have no room to balk. And yeah, as you might have read on the internets, this thing was sold on Scream’s recent west coast tour and it’s more or less not available anymore. So, why’d I review it? I dunno…just felt like being a dick, I suppose. - TR

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