Monday, May 23, 2011
Lasterday I Was Been Bad shows the Happy Flowers bowing out of the recording realm, and its only major flaw is poor vocal micing. Mr. Anus and Mr. Horribly Charred Infant wield their preschool-perspective shouts as skillfully as they manifest joyful noise with guitar and drums (and a bass guitar allegedly stomped by Mr. HCI while he drummed) so straining that you need to listen closely to catch the gems -- Anus assuming both sides of a Christian ethics debate throughout "I Don't Want To Share," or Mr. HCI yelping that on his birthday "My Gramma gave me five bucks/ Whaddya think this is/ nineteen-fifteeeeeeeee!?!" -- it's almost frustrating, but finally becomes fruitful. Parts of this actually sound like a tight, passionate, punk three-piece; with Scott Pickering's muscular drums on about half the tracks. "Leave Me Alone," for example, could have snuck into the Replacements' Stink, though when Anus' guitar solo picks its way down the scale like a daddy longlegs and then emits a shower of sparks, you know he's elected to forget everything Bob Stinson learned from Ted Nugent. It's largely "the anal one's" show vocally until Mr. HCI takes over for the last quarter of the album. He dry-gargles with abandon throughout Big Star's "Thirteen," evoking -- perhaps deliberately -- that burrito-bake timbre Big Star's Alex Chilton brought to his first hit (the Box Tops' "The Letter"), and producing a cover anyone would put side-by-side with the original. Of the two other covers, UFO's "Rock Bottom" squeezes out satisfyingly, but the album closer, Silver Apples' "A Pox On You," zestily revives a snarly tune from a then-obscure act. Instrumental tracks "Embryo" (neither Sabbath, Floyd, nor Illinois Jacquet), and "Mr. Fuck" (featuring sitar and tabla) offer some much-needed seasoning, showing that the fellows could actually play their instruments; much as their cover songs always pulled back the curtain on their infantilism to reveal erudite fellows with decent record collections, or at least college radio station pre-sets. The instrumentals provide pleasant breathers, but aren't necessary. The dynamic duo's chops and leanings gave them room to roam. Their central conceit of "Two Who Can't Read (Or Reach The Table) Against The World took them much further than any side-road ever could have.
Happy Flowers - Lasterday I Was Been Bad - Cassette tape on Homestead Records
CALIFORNIA is one of the American Music Club's most straightforward, roots-rock-oriented releases. It's certainly the most country-flavored, as arid desert landscapes mix with twangy guitars and folksy acoustic strumming. The anomalous "Bad Liquor" turned out to be one of the most-requested songs in the band's repertoire. It's a raging, punky rocker in which singer Mark Eitzel plays the drunken fool looking for trouble or the next drink, whichever comes first. Conversely, "Jenny" is a quiet, ominous, acoustic ballad full of low-key sorrow, and there are parts of the harrowing "Laughing Stock" that are barely audible, as Eitzel's self-esteem vaporizes before our very ears amid gently rippling guitar arpeggios.The opener, "Firefly," is really the mood-definer for the album, and its ostensibly upbeat arrangement masks the lyrics' bittersweet observations about the fleeting nature of happiness. "Somewhere" and "Pale and Skinny Girl" are portraits of non-beautiful losers in the classic AMC mold, the former sounding like it could be a Replacements outtake. Eitzel's existential angst is at its most appealing on "Lonely"; over a steady-rolling folk-rock backing, he reaches new heights (depths?) of alienation with the chorus "If I have to be this lonely, I might as well be alone."
American Music Club - California - Cassette tape on Frontier Records
The precursor to the legandary Godflesh! Features the original line up plus exclusive original versions of classic Godflesh material, rare live recordings and previously unreleased tracks.
Fall Of Because: Paul Neville (vocals, guitar, tapes); Justin Broadrick (vocals, drums); G.C. Green (bass).
Additional personnel: Nik Bullen, Mick Harris (vocals).
Recorded at Richbitch, Birmingham, England in November 1986.
Fall Of Because - Life Is Easy - Pre Godflesh CD on Invisible Records
Friday, February 25, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Formed in the early '80s, the hardcore punk band 7 Seconds has been among the longest lived of any group from the first wave of Cali punk (forming in Reno, NV, and eventually relocating to Sacramento), though frontman Kevin Seconds has proved to be the only consistent member; changes during the mid-'80s moved guitarist Bobby Adams, drummer Troy Mowat, and bassist Steve Youth (Seconds' brother) into the lineup. The group released several 7" singles just after forming, and Seconds signed the band to the Better Youth Organization label by 1982. The three LPs released on BYO culminated in 7 Seconds' most authoritative album, Walk Together, Rock Together. Signed to Restless in the late '80s, 7 Seconds delivered Soulforce Revolution and Ourselves before moving again, to Headhunter. The band released three albums for Headhunter, but signed with their first major label, Epic, in 1995. The Music, the Message was 7 Seconds' first Epic LP, released in 1995. By 1999's Good to Go, however, the band was back on the indie front, now releasing material through the Side 1 label. In mid-2000, they released Scream Real Loud, followed five years later by their 13th LP, Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over! Throughout the group's career, Seconds has maintained several side projects, including Drop Acid, Five Feet Ten Inches, and Mustard. He also released several solo efforts starting in the '90s, including a 2002 split acoustic album on Asian Man alongside Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba.
7 Seconds - Live One Plus One - Cassette tape on Giant Records
Green River was an influential Seattle band in the 1980s, lasting only four years and named after a (then at large) serial killer in Washington. They were one of the first grunge bands.
Green River arguably had little impact outside Seattle, though they did form a friendly alliance with emerging American indie rock bands, most notably Sonic Youth who would later quote the Green River song "Come On Down" in their 2000 song "Nevermind (What Was it Anyway?)". However, the impact Green River had on the music made in Seattle would eventually be felt around the world. Their influence could be felt on both their contemporaries (Soundgarden, The Melvins) (though influence on the part of the Melvins was a two way street) and later Seattle bands (Nirvana, Alice in Chains). Before Nirvana, or indeed Mudhoney, Green River was the flagship band at legendary Seattle label Sub Pop, and through the bands who would form when the band split up (Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney) the members went on to influence millions of people world wide.
Green River were the among the first bands in Seattle to mix metal and punk, heavily influenced by Iggy Pop's original proto-punk group The Stooges, leading to the sound known later as "grunge". Mark Arm, the group's vocalist, is widely credited as being the first person to use the term, though not in relation to the sound it has come to signify.
The members were Mark Arm (vocals), and original guitarist Steve Turner, both of whom went on to play in the Thrown-ups and later form Mudhoney (even further down the timeline they played together in the side project The Monkeywrench as well); Jeff Ament (bass) and Stone Gossard (guitar), who went on to Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam, Bruce Fairweather (guitar), who also went on to Mother Love Bone, and Alex Vincent (drums).
Green River - Come On Down - Cassette tape featuring Pearl Jam and Mudhoney one Homestead Records
This indie rock supergroup consists of Jenny Toomey from Tsunami, Mark Robinson from Unrest and Air Miami, and Rob Christiansen from the Eggs. Formed in 1991, Grenadine has a slew of 7"s to its credit, as well as two albums, Goya and Nopalitos, that show off the band's moody take on pop music. Toomey's compositions tend to be sullenly melodic, quiet epics that show off her rich, throaty voice, while Robinson's songs range from upbeat power pop to odd, 1920s-style ditties reminiscent of Rudy Vallee and other crooners. An unusual band even by indie standards, Grenadine allows its members to explore musical facets untouched by their other bands, making the group more than just a side project.
Grenadine - Goya - CD with members of Unrest Tsunami Eggs on Shimmy Disc Records