Thursday, September 28, 2006

Harvey Milk : My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment Of What My Love Could Be

The fine staff at Aquarius Records, they done gone did their best to spread the good word of Harvey Milk 'cross all the internets. And lo, I looked upon what they had did, and I was stoked.
You've heard the shit, right? Rules. Like, all time rules. Go to their Myspace, be their friend. It's got my favourite song of theirs, Silly And Small, which has apparently been redubbed Old Glory and thrown on their new album, but I ain't heard that yet. Looks like Courtesy And Good Will Towards Men has been reissued too. I know I told yall I ain't never going back to slangin rock, but ends gotta meet yall, Dave's gotta eat, and I gots ta listen to my Harvey Milk. O-tay.
While Courtesy... may go down as the stone classic, I'm here to say that My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment Of What My Love Could Be is the unpolished gem, less harrowing but just as damaged. And now, cause I know you all been waiting, here's the part where I say the music sounds like a combination of different artists, in this case Neil Young, Mission of Burma and The Melvins, hopefully filling in the blanks for you as to what this really sounds like with minimal effort on my part. But Harvey Milk bring the maximal effort (smooth transition, you like it) And it seems like half of it is abrasive experimentation, like Gastr Del Sol gone all intense and Joe Prestonesque, with just as much wounded glory as the "normal" parts. Speaking of Joe Preston, Creston Spiers sings like Joe Preston going to primal scream therapy, a bruised and battered howl sounding out from deep inside. I heard that Joe Preston, in the grips of a mushroom trip, went out into the woods on a stormy NorthWest night, dug his own shallow grave and laid down in it. Apparently he stayed there for about a day (but probly just till the drugs wore off) until thinking "Fuck this," getting up and leaving. Joe motherfuckin Preston. But this be Creston motherfuckin Spiers. This interview with the original drummer might shed a bit of light:

"I think the sound came from the combination of Creston's classical music training and our different musical tastes. We wanted to be loud and heavy, but Creston brought a whole new element because he studied classical percussion, so the music became more orchestrated. I don't think any of us had any intentions to sound like we did, it just happened naturally."

So I guess we should all just thank the stars that these three got in a room and turned on amps. Listen to the album opener, A Small Turn of Human Kindness. Instruments yawn and clatter like some avant-jazz jammers, a synth melody floats around briefly, only to be briefly revisited in rock trio format about six minutes later, massive fills and detuned chords enter and exit according to some logic I can't decipher, and the album doesn't really spread roots until the next track, Women Dig It. Spiers launches a howl out into the void of plodding drums, and you realise you're listening to classic rock as envisioned by the noblest of savages. By the time The Anvil Will Drop rolls in with fragile falsetto and jazzy chordings, takes a bizarre orchestral detour and finishes with the most heart rending stretch of music I've heard in years, I know my new favourite band is here to stay. This isn't just music to appreciate, it speaks to some need deep inside of me. It tells me that things still matter.
Whoa, what happened, I kinda dazed off for a sec there. So yeah, Jim's Polish is the other highlight, but this album don't got a wasted second. Relapse, Troubleman Unlimited, Southern Lord, anyone, put this and every other moment of Harvey Milk back in print, if not for me then for the good of humanity.
And if you want still more epic amazingness to get misty to, cause you're okay with that, Warmer Milks' Penetration Initials is stunning red state blooze. They pull this half-hour doozy off with help from members of Eyes And Arms Of Smoke, Hair Police and other Kenturkeys, and I'm starting to see why they call it the heartland.
Lastly, if you wanna read a Magik Markers roundup the likes of which I could never muster, although I assume he gets paid by the word, go here. Alright, done.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Being the massive tool that I am, I've been trying to draw connections between the fugly mind melt of bands like Violent Students, Air Conditioning, Lambsbread, Homostupids, Pissed Jeans and Blues Control for a while now, and I'm starting to see why "fuck genres" is the word on the street these days, but the one question I keeps asking my self is "Who takes lead?" Which one is the porridge that Goldie Locks chose? Which band is the drunken lout weaving around the overpass with a dented baseball bat, making sure he makes eye contact with everyone he passes, cause he wants them to SEE.
Thing is, it's probably gonna be whichever one you're listening to at the time. Right now, it's Lambsbread, and they're probably the closest to some magikally marked up art squall, but this one just reeks of thuggery. S'called Smelly Harbor and it makes me want to dock, cause you know it's the good kind of smelly. The band name could be a reggae reference, but by reggae reference I mean stoned, and by stoned I mean Sonny Sharrock and Abruptum getting electro-shock.
Next up, Violent Students. I know I've gotta mention Gibby Hanes and John Maloney, but the singer grunts out smoke trails in a manner all his own. As for the music, if you wanted to hear a jammier Brainbombs buried under an avalanche of psych-goo, here's your goddamn chance. You wouldn't pass up a good chance when it's staring you right in the face, would you? That'd be fucking stupid. Violent Students aren't stupid though, just violent. The music doesn't stop. There's no dynamic build or waft through space before this shit comes together, it just goes. And then, right at the end, they fuse the fucking Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack with Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" and a drunk ape, just in case your sac wasn't bruised enough already.
In this company, Homostupids are pretty meat and potatoes, but the meat is human flesh and the potatoes are grenades. (What?) This The Glow EP is about four minutes of instant gratification, like real early Black Flag and real early Black Dice playing chicken in their tour vans. And then Kevin Bacon ends up looking like the hero, but just cause he got his fucking shoelace stuck. Still, the best scene is when Bacon first bumps into that other dude in the hallway. Shit gets a little tense and Bacon, aka Soul Sizzla, busts out "Do they sell men's clothes where you bought that hat?" He and dude face off for what seems like an eternity before cracking the inevitable simultaneous smiles and embracing as best friends forever.
Homostupids.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What this fucking blog needs is some pictures, jazz it up a bit. Here's a bunch I stole whilst lurking around MySpace like a creep.

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Actually, one of those is Reynols. The second one, I think.
Also, fuck what I said about songs last time. I've been listening to nothing but like Mouthus and Brutal Truth for so long, bring on the indie rock anthems! Archers of Loaf, Dinosaur Jr, Three Mile Pilot and Slint are the only bands ever. Seriously. Maybe The Fall.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

How's this for an afternoon of lissenin n grinnin (n pickin... my crack! Hah.)

The Magik Markers : For Sada Jane
The Dead C : perform Vain, Erudite and Stupid : Selected Works 1987-2005

In case you're wondering, the answer is 'real good.'
I'd been starting to think Magik Markers was like a garage band Fushitsusha, but here they pack the variety of four Haino projects on to one disc. Pete Nolan's Spectre Folk project definitely gets a nod, although placing this squarely in any camp is up to someone other than me, and if I could I'd tell them not to bother. It's definitely more house pet than wild beast. Whatever they do, the colouring has a healthy disregard for the lines in that way oh so dear to my heart, and I'm pretty sure Elisa is the scribbler. As with everything I've heard from the Markers as of late, it makes me think that something is really going on here. Looks like Arbitrary Signs has just popped out 3 new cdrs, but my couch is a futon, so I don't know where I'm gonna find the change.
And here's something that needed to be done: The Dead C's career retrospective is one of the best I've ever heard, but you tell me whether that has more to do with how well it's put together or that it it's the Dead fucking C. See, I didn't even know that the 2lp of Harsh 70s Reality was different from the cd, and now I know all kinds of things. I know that Max Harris was the name of an Australian poetry publisher who got hoaxed and printed poems by a couple of dudes who were mocking the style he loved. Oh, and he was a literary critic.
I read an interview with Bruce Russell, and he said that when the Dead C formed, it seemed like everyone around him thought that the ultimate aspiration was to make the perfect pop song, and he felt that was fine but there had to be more, and I thought "fucking exactly." And that's basically what I think whenever I listen to the Dead C. Fucking exactly. As a young'n I got deeply into things like early Pavement, and while the charm of the songs eventually faded, those sounds that bled through the edges, the lo-fi stumble and recorder grot, still seem to hold some eerie power. And the Dead C got that a long time before I did. Fuckin eh!
Oh, and here's what I wanted to say about Fag Tapes last time around, especially Barf Thoth: Think of driving through a scenic countryside and drifting dreamlike past some chemical mishap, what could've been a scattering of ponds turned all sorts of noxious colours, a cartoon horror. Think of mold growing inside your lungs. Think of your entire life receding into a spewing, hissing background noise, threatening to overtake you but pushed just far enough away. Like a lot of things, it's probably not that good for you, but it gets you through the day.