Saturday, November 27, 2010
For Godflesh's second formal album, a new member was recruited to replace Paul Neville (though in an odd twist he appears on the first three minutes of "Love, Hate (Slugbaiting)," in fact a live sample of the old band he, Broadrick and Green used to be in, the Fall of Because). The choice was an inspired one - Robert Hampson of Loop, then dissolving that band and beginning his initial work as Main. Loop and Godflesh had already toured together and put out a very rare split single where each band covered the other, a mutual appreciation society that led to Hampson's recruitment. He only appears on half the album's tracks, but his efforts on "I Wasn't Born to Follow" and "Don't Bring Me Flowers" slot in very nicely with the band's philosophy of overwhelming if sometimes beautiful noise (the intro to the latter is actually quite lovely). Broadrick himself expressed disappointment with both Pure and the Cold World EP, as both were recorded on eight-track machines and didn't have the full room for experimenting that he wanted. The end results are still worthy stuff, though, even if opening song "Spite" has one of the jauntiest hip-hop breaks yet used by the band. In terms of grinding guitars and shouted vocals, though, it's pure Godflesh ire. The title track makes an even more explicit nod to the culture of turntables and breakbeats, taking rhythms from Eric B. and Rakim's "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em." "Mothra" got selected as a single, and in ways it is surprisingly commercial for the band, with a memorable main riff and drumming that for once doesn't sound like it's out to break bones and shred eardrums. "Pure II" concludes the album with a monstrous, twenty-minute track not far off from Broadrick's work as Final, only with even more threat and slow drum machine hits like distant cannon.
Godflesh - Pure - Cassette tape on Earache Records
Uniform Choice was started by Guitarist Myke Bates, Bassist Hanson Meyer and Drummer Eric Hanna during the Spring of 1982. Bates had been playing with a couple of bands previously in Palm Springs. His band, Funeral Information, had played early punk shows with Sin 34 and Black Flag (band) and his other band, Target 13, had written the song Rodney On The ROQ for KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer which appeared on the compilation album Rodney On The ROQ, Vol 2 under the independent record label Poshboy.
Uniform Choice - Staring Into The Sun - Cassette tape on Giant Records
Pete Bain was an original member of Spacemen 3 (although hardly the best known). As Pete Bassman, he's the key figure in Alpha Stone, which in his words (according to a label press release) is "like a less sublime, more groovy, danceable Spiritualized; the band merges spacy riffs with urban samples and mechanical drumbeats." Fair enough; certainly the music has strong connections to the vibe of Spacemen 3 and that group's various spinoffs, melding repetitive riffs both to snaky, early Pink Floydish psychedelic guitar riffs and electronic washes/rhythms. It's psychedelic music for the '90s, for listeners who want something that's neither consciously retro nor as cold as techno.
Alphastone - Life's A Motorway - UK import CD with Spaceman 3 Enraptured Records
Monday, November 22, 2010
A very strong set, recorded live in the studio in late 1976, the Damned are at their peak, and some versions here are as good as, if not better than the originals. "Neat, Neat, Neat," "New Rose," "I Fall," and most of the other songs that make up their debut are here. The band proves its versatility, going from the raging punk of "So Messed Up," which is as menacing as anything the Sex Pistols ever recorded, to the very Doors-ish "Feel the Pain." A highly recommended album that proves the Damned were a step above the majority of their punk brethren.
The Damned - The Peel Sessions - Cassette tape on Strange Fruit Records
"Black Suburbia" the bands first album was licensed worldwide to Noise/Machinery records in Berlin and appeared in June 1994. Two singles "Heidi S." and "Interzone" quickly became real dancefloor and headbanger classics in the German and American club scenes, and "Black Suburbia" has been successfully launched onto the American market in February 1995.
Templebeat - Black Suburbia - CD on Dynamica Records
California industrial-punksters Rig first appeared on a split 7-inch single with Oiler on the flipside. Mr. Ibarra (megaphone vocals), Mr. Wabschall (bass, vocals, programming) and Mr. Palacios (guitar, programming) were then signed to Cruz Records; their full-length debut, Belly to the Ground, was produced by Greg Ginn. King of the Soft Serve followed in 1997.
Rig - Belly To The Ground - Vinyl album on Cruz Records
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The former Adolescent, Christian Death And DI guitarists third solo opus covers much ground, from pop to punk and everything in between. Features guest vocals by a well-known Chemical Warrior that will take you wat South Of Heaven. With the Adolescents, Agnew became known as one of the best guitarists in the Southern California hardcore punk scene. After the Adolescents' first breakup, he recorded a one-man solo album, All By Myself, and played with Christian Death before deciding to re-form the group in 1986. After this second go-round, Agnew pulled the plug on the Adolescents for the final time in 1989 and began recording solo again.
Rikk Agnew - Turtle - CD on Triple XXX Records
Given that the Undertones were indisputably one of the great pop bands of the late '70s/early '80s, and that they only left behind four studio albums, fans were enormously grateful for this archive release. These three sessions were recorded between January 1979 and November 1982, all with Bob Sargeant as producer. The first comprises material from their eponymous debut, the second features songs from follow-up effort Hypnotised, plus a corny but fun cover of Gary Glitter's "Rock N' Roll," a live favorite that is unavailable elsewhere. The third session is from considerably later in their career, its four tracks drawn from the critically reviled (but still excellent) The Sin of Pride. Highlights include the daft spoken intro/outro to "Here Comes the Summer" -- a pretty daft song anyway. Add in a storming "Tear Proof" (the band's best song never to achieve single status) and good liner notes from Dave Cavanagh, and this is the perfect adjunct to the group's thin discography.
The Undertones - The Peel Sessions - Cassette tape on Strange Fruit Records
Out of all the late-'70s punk and post-punk bands, none were longer lived or more prolific than the Fall. Throughout their career, the band underwent a myriad lineup changes, but at the center of it all was vocalist Mark E. Smith. With his snarling, nearly incomprehensible vocals and consuming bitter cynicism, Smith became a cult legend in indie and alternative rock. Over the course of their career, the Fall went through a number of shifts in musical style, yet the foundation of their sound was a near-cacophonous, amelodic jagged jumble of guitars, sing-speak vocals, and keyboards. During the late '70s and early '80s, the band was at their most abrasive and atonal. In 1984, Smith's American wife, Brix, joined the band as a guitarist, bringing a stronger sense of pop melody to the group. By the mid-'80s, the band's British following was large enough to result in two U.K. Top 40 hits, but in essence, the group has always been a cult band; their music was always too abrasive and dense for the mainstream. Only hardcore fans can differentiate between the Fall's many albums, yet the Fall, like many cult bands, inspired a new generation of underground bands, ranging from waves of sound-alike indie rockers in the U.K. to acts in America and New Zealand, which is only one indication of the size and dedication of their small, devoted fan base.
The Fall - The Legandary Chaos Tapes - CD on Feel Good All Over Records
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Huevos means "eggs" in Spanish. It also, slangily, refers to balls. It's clear which connotation the Meat Puppets were alluding to when they named this record. It's as if they traded in their stoner VW bus for a muscle car. To push the metaphor further, it's as if they put away the hallucinogens in favor of Jack Daniels. There are far fewer overtly psychedelic touches on HUEVOS than on previous records. Whereas the group's records used to travel a circuitous path, on HUEVOS, the Puppets stick to the main road.You know you're not listening to your grandfather's Meat Puppets from the opening notes of "Paradise," which bears the unmistakable mechanized churning of MTV-era ZZ Top. The sound is altogether thicker, and the vocals are less from the upper chest than the lower diaphragm. But amid the balls-to-the-wall rockers like "Automatic Mojo" are starbursts of color, most notably "Fruit," with its jiggly beat and sighing backup vocals, and the molten, sublime axe work that decorates "Dry Rain."
Meat Puppets - Huevos - Cassette tape on SST Records
When the Semantics formed in the early '90s in Nashville, their punchy, accessible brand of Southern power pop seemed destined to follow like-minded Southern bands like the dB's and Let's Active into the power pop history books. Led by two songwriter/vocalists, William Owsley III and Millard Powers, the band initially began recording demos for their debut album with a then-unknown drummer named Ben Folds, who -- contrary to legend -- was never officially a part of the Semantics. Folds soon left to form Ben Folds Five and was replaced by Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey. The band signed to Geffen and recorded their debut LP, Powerbill, but weeks before its scheduled 1993 release, the label decided not to release it, effectively ending the band's career. For most bands, the story might've ended there. But Starkey went on tour with his father and later joined the Lightning Seeds as their full-time drummer. Amy Grant, a fellow Tennessean and then-superstar who obtained a copy of Powerbill, called Owsley shortly after the album's botched release and lavished praise upon the record and asked Owsley to be one of her touring guitarists. In 1996, while Ben Folds Five were becoming worldwide alternative rock superstars, Powerbill saw a belated Japanese-only release and sold over 20,000 copies, despite that the band had already disbanded and that there was little, if any promotion, backing it. Owsley and Millard Powers each respectively recorded their own solo debuts while paying the bills as backing musicians for the likes of Grant and Charlotte Church. Owsley initially issued his debut album in 1998, but it was repackaged and reissued in 1999 with mightier distribution and it even managed to produce a minor hit single in the charging rocker "I'm Alright." Powers' solo debut was released shortly after and both of their albums included at least one re-recorded song each from Powerbill. In 2001, Powers also became Folds' bassist on his solo tour, gaining him a great deal more exposure and new fans. After the relative success of Owsley's self-titled debut and Powers' exposure from working with Folds, Japanese copies of the now out of print Powerbill became major cult collector's items and belatedly became one of the most influential and most well-regarded power pop records of the '90s.
Semantics - Bone Of Contention - Vinyl album on Electra Records
A flexible guitarist who plays mostly fusion but can also handle post-bop, hard bop and standards, Rez Abbasi showed a lot of promise playing around New York in the 1990s. The improviser was born in Karachi, Pakistan and lived there as a baby; he was only three when his parents moved to Los Angeles, where he was raised. Abbasi, who grew up speaking English as his primary language and doesn't speak with even a trace of a Middle Eastern accent, was 22 when he moved to New York in 1987. Abbasi considers Jim Hall his earliest influence on guitar, and Pat Metheny influenced both his playing and writing when he recorded his first album, Third Ear, in 1991-1992. However, Metheny became less of an influence on Abbasi as the 1990s progressed. The mid- to late-'90s found Abbasi (who is also influenced by Bill Frisell) continuing to do a lot of writing and playing his share of Manhattan club dates, while paying the bills with "day gigs" as a music teacher; he recorded Modern Memory in 1996.
Rez Abbasi - Third Ear - CD on Ozone Music