Thursday, July 25, 2013


100 Flowers  s/t LP

Way back in the early part of the last decade of the last century, you could walk into any halfway decent record store, dig through the used CD bin, and come up with a $3-5 copy of the 100 Flowers collection 100 Years of Pulchritude. And if you were a hip motherfucker *ahem*, then you knew that 100 Flowers were the sequel to legendary art-punk primitives, The Urinals. Much like The Screamers, Urinals material was exceedingly rare at this point. It wasn’t until 1996, when Amphetamine Reptile released the Negative Capability…..Check it Out! compilation, that the average loser could bask in the wonder of songs like “Black Hole” and “I’m a Bug.” The 100 Flowers CD was on Rhino, so they were everywhere. At some point, someone must have bought the thing new cuz it was everywhere used. Or maybe there really were that many music journalists back then. I owned it for a few years, listened occasionally, but was always struck with the notion that they were a lesser Minutemen (whose cover of Urinals’ “Ack Ack Ack” was how most people even knew of these bands). One day, I sold it, and never regretted it. Then Urinals stuff appeared and that felt much more satisfying. So, when Superior Viaduct announced an impending reissue of the sole 100 Flowers LP, I was nonplussed. “Big deal, bring on Church Police,” I thought. Well, fuck me sideways, cuz my young mind must’ve not been “ready” for 100 Flowers. What seemed polished and neutered all of those years ago, now just seems like classic Cali art-punk. I’m willing to bet that the mastering on this LP trumps the shitty analog-to-digital transfer of a CD circa 1990. Also, without the addition of 12 bonus tracks, it’s easier to focus on the LP as a coherent statement, instead of part of a catalog of material. In other words, this rules! Featuring the exact same trio as the Urinals, 100 Flowers exhibit a growing mastery of both their instruments and their songwriting. 100 Flowers contains sixteen examples of how to do “angular” properly. There’s still all the pent-up sexual frustration of old (“Horizontal” “Strip Club”), but tempered with a sense of growing older and pondering the meaning of love and life (“I Don’t Own My Own Heart”). After gorging on the simultaneously-re-released Urinals 7”s, do yrself a favor and pick this platter up.  
 [Superior Viaduct;]

Bradley Dean & The Terminals 7"

NYC rock n’ roll that could use a little more dirt under its fingernails. “Top of the Hour” is power-pop reminiscent of Gentleman Jesse or other similar modern purveyors. Backing vocals by Kim Warnick of The Fastbacks lends some legitimacy, but the song still falls flat. Well-played, but zero fizz. The cap has been left off of this soda bottle for too long. “Everybody’s Headed to the Graveyard” is a little tougher, a bit of a hitch in its step, but its low-down vibe seems a bit forced. A few more trips to the wrong side of the tracks might pay off for this crew.  
[Tone Town]

Cellos  ‘The Accident’ 12” EP

Following an EP on Dead Beat last year, Canada’s Cellos throw another 12” at us. There’s definitely something of the, what is it, third (?) wave of AmRep/TnG-“core,” contained in these grooves. Much like the now-defunct Grids, this is muscular, well-played post-Pissed Jeans pummel. It’s a little cleaner and more streamlined than the bulk of that aggro resurgence, but still manages to hit fairly hard. I can see these dudes holding their own on a bill with fellow Ontarians Metz. I’m sure they’re saving their loonies to record with Albini. I’ll always have a soft spot for this sound, but Cellos don’t quite put my panties in a bunch (who am I kidding, I’m going commando). On “Rust and Government” and “Pilgrimage,” Cellos nudge in a slight amount of melody, and it kind of works against them – I’m reminded of that nebulous sorta-metal that is the stuff of countless Brooklyn Vegan posts. The cover art even has a sub-Kozik feel to it. Not bad, but not great. 
[Ah Some;]


On their debut LP, Australia’s Cuntz cycle through various noise rock motifs with a brutish force, challenging your eardrums and your sense of decency. The opening salvo of “Homeless” and “Casual Drinker” hits as hard as any Pissed Jeans 1-2 punch, but the album truly hits its stride with the dizzying paranoia of “Lost” and “Meth.” Singer Ben’s desperate roar recalls the unhinged bellow of Dugald McKenzie, deceased shouter from ‘80s hellions, Venom P. Stinger. Cuntz are the latest and current greatest in a long line of degenerate scuzz-rockers from Down Under, gifting us with one of the finest albums of its type to come down the pipe in ages. 
[Homeless] originally appeared in High Times mag

Dadamah  “Violet Stains Red”/”Absent and Erotic Lives” 7”

Dadamah were an extraordinary band. Comprised of some of New Zealand’s finest – including members of Pin Group, Terminals, and many more – Dadamah’s music captured the inner turmoil of love-gone-dead as well as anyone before or since. With a sound that echoed, but never imitated, The Velvet Underground, Dadamah stuck around long enough to give us 2 classic singles and a masterful LP. As they had before the band existed, the members continued to make fantastic new sounds in old and fresh combos, but in some ways Dadamah was their crowning achievement. After nearly two decades, this unexpected single comes out with the quiet and modest force that the band itself harnessed so well. Housed in a lovely and sturdy jacket and spinning on marbled red vinyl, Dadamah drops the emotional hammer on you as if they had merely stepped outside for a smoke. Recorded back in ’92 on their trusty Tascam 4-track, this 45 is a must-own for the Dadamah fan. “Violet Stains Red” is a Roy number reminiscent of “High Tension House,” one of the LP’s highlights. I keep on thinking “Absent and Erotic Lives” is the name of a Bergman movie, but the internet keeps on telling me I’m delusional. Typical. But it is most definitely a Kim Pieters-sung bummer, which, perversely, makes me grin. And bear it. This weight is heavy and so is Dadamah. 
[Yellow Electric; ?]

La Luz  “Call Me In The Day”/”Easy Baby”

All-female Seattle quartet with a faithful and well-presented surf/girl-group hybrid. The surf aspect of their sound leans towards the dreamy and melancholic, not “Pipeline” and Pulp Fiction. “Call Me In The Day” has the requisite Spector-esque harmonies and enveloping sound, but it’s done so well here that you don’t find yourself sneering about hipster beach rock or whatever the fuck that cruise-ship song-and-dance routine calls itself. “Easy Baby” is even more Ronettes-y, yet it triumphs over redundancy by virtue of actually conveying the mood that these ladies are attempting to conjure. La Luz reaches beyond the surface elements, and comes up with a well-crafted and performed single. 
[Water Wing;]

Last Year’s Men  “Clawless Paw”/”What Can I Get” 7”

Decent, vaguely “garage” punk, but a bit heavier than the normal limpdick fare people pass off these days. “Clawless Paw” has a cool woozy quality to it. The singer sounds like he’s singing to himself on a drunken walk home, stars out, heart smashed. The flip has the inevitable Black Lips steez (outdated slang vol. IV). It’s just not dirty or wild enough to really get your feet moving or trigger a Pavlovian desire to drink. And that’s really what garage punk should be all about. Better luck next time, boys.   
[Sophomore Lounge;]

Obnox  ‘IV: A Ragin’ in the Sun’ 7” EP

Obnox onslaught continues with one of his best yet, on a re-activated Anyway Records no less. Anyway was responsible for some of the finest platters out of Columbus in its ‘90s heyday and we should welcome them back with a big ol’ bear-hug, back-slap, and a 6 pack of Stroh’s (or Straub, if you must). This 4-song EP by Obnox is exactly the sort of record that Anyway made its name on – fuzzy, dirty small-town punk packed to the gills with hooks. “Rock n Roll Babylon” sounds like a Dead Boys song playing on a wrecked car stereo idling in the driveway at your neighbors’ house. You crane your neck out the window for a closer look and the sweet, powerful, dare I say gorgeous, “Ciara” floats up to you, which defies logic cuz it is heavy as hell. I keep checking the liner notes to see who Bim is covering, and I keep coming up empty cuz he wrote the damn thing. One of the best songs of 2013 so far. “The President Smokes (pro drug rally)” greets you with a Public Enemy sample and then lays out a thick carpet of bomb-blasted beats. The title cut brings back Thomas’ near-falsetto singing for another cut packed tight with deep guitar squall, soaring (no shit) vocals, and memorable melodies that you can stick in your pocket and take with you for the day. On this installment, guest musicians from TMIBH, Bad Noids, and Big Black Africa assist Obnox in continuing to reign o’er the Cleveland scene. Not bad for a stoner.  

Shady and The Vamp  ‘As We Told You Earlier’ 10”

A few years ago, I spent some time driving around Europe with NYC scumfucks Woman, and one of their shows was at a converted prison way up high in the Swiss Alps. And it was really fucking fun. In addition to the gracious hospitality displayed by the hosts, there was an excellent opening band (a rarity in Europe). Besides playing a killer set of garage-punk, these young delinquents shared quite a bit of hashish with yours truly. Let’s call it payola, far in advance. The first Shady and The Vamp single was a high-quality twofer, and now they’ve graduated to a 10” (baby steps); six songs of garage-punk as good as any band on Burger, Hozac or from San Francisco, California, USA. You’ve got yer now-standard -- but well done --B’lips-like songs like “Let Me Know” and “Kickin’ You Out,” but “Piangi Conme” is a French-sung Nugget with tasteful psych touches hovering around the periphery. You won’t be surprised to find that “Live Fast Die” is fast punk, nor that “Geek” closes things out with a slow-burn sneer. Good stuff from this youthful trio. Original press of 300 is sold out, but look for a repress in June. 
[Moi j'connais Records;]

Shady and The Vamp/Les Chevaux Sauvages split 7”

Shady keeps their winning streak going with two ace cuts on this split. “The Other Way” is fast, tuneful garage punk that recalls the all-too-rare occasions when Goodnight Loving would loosen up and kick out the jams. “Ain’t Got No Love” is a mid-tempo number that brings up warm thoughts of Mudhoney’s Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, an important record to teenage me. Les Chevaux Sauvages are fellow Swiss garage-rockers, and their contribution, “Holy Bus,” is a solid Back From the Grave-robber. Good single here, limited to 300 copies.  
 [High Time/Lido]

Skimask  ‘Cute Mutant’ LP

Two dudes with a mic, a coupla pedals, a drum kit, the complete discography of Load Records and an itch to make some noise, hook up with the dude from Fat Day and proceed to blow it out. Your ass. Apparently, they have quite a live rep in the Boston basement scene. I can certainly picture a gaggle of drunken students gettin’ goofy to these fellas after a hard day at the collegiate trough. The band themselves strike me as the Good Will Hunting of the local weirdo scene. Really smart, and able to kick some ass, but deep down they are actually sensitive janitors. Unfortunately, the album, like the movie, is a wash. The music has density to it, but it just grinds and grinds; a headache on wax. When it’s over, you will be wondering why you just spent twenty minutes with your head in the dispose-all. My main beef is the singer. His overmodulated voice wails through each song in exactly the same way. Each syllable is drawn out to emphasize the microphone’s natural feedback, but it just gets annoying after awhile. Also, they have a song called “Every Week iz Shark Week” which they must’ve grabbed off of Twitter. If you live in the area, pick it up, you’ll be glad to have it. Rest of the world? Maybe wait for the basement gig in yr town.  
[Sophomore Lounge;]

Snapper  s/t 12” EP

The Captured Tracks/Flying Nun reissue program is just getting started, but it’s already paying off nicely. Here we have the debut EP from Peter Gutteridge’s Snapper. A one-time member of The Clean, The Chills, Great Unwashed, and Puddle, Gutteridge found his finest vehicle in the menacing Suicide-goes-surf of Snapper. Gutteridge was aptly named, as he eventually succumbed to a debilitating smack habit, which laid him low for many a year. Recently, he has emerged from “retirement” with a new Snapper line-up, so these reissues are well-timed. Originally poking its head out in 1988, this 4-song EP is a perfect snapshot of Snapper’s raison d’etre. In fact, the title of side two’s “Death and Weirdness in the Surfing Zone” tells you all you need to know. You’d hafta be a real square not to dig on these tunes. Before Stereolab co-opted the Neu! template, Snapper was slamming the motorik beat into their pipeline. Was that a drug ref? I dunno, are you a fuckin’ square?  
 [Flying Nun/Captured Tracks;]

Soggy  “Waiting for the War”/”47 Chromosomes” 7”

It was probably foolish to pay 16 bucks (ppd.) for a 2-song 45, especially in my current state of under-employment, but fuckin A, what two songs they are. I never pulled the trigger on that Soggy LP some years back (“pullin’ a Soggy” – DJ Rick) but I sure have jammed the files enough. And two of the best, if not the best, songs on that slab are contained on this soon-to-be-DJ-mainstay ripper of a lil’ platter. The cover and inner labels give you conflicting info on which song is truly the “A-side,” but that’s as it should be, because either of these Stooges-inspired punk/hard rock burners could front any size record. It’s a close one, but my pick is “47 Chromosomes.” After wildman singer Beb expels a few guttural Iggy-like grunts, the band dive-bombs into a riff that either Motorhead or The Users could have written. Just hearing Beb sneer “chromosomes,” in an unclassifiable accent that sounds like a Japanese man learning English from a French guy, erases any doubt as to if those sixteen dollars were well spent. Soggy perfectly walk the line between punk, hard rock and metal so effortlessly that it’s a mystery as to why more bands cannot – conversely, it’s a testament to how utterly ass-kicking these French biker wanna-bes were in 1981.  It was probably a lonely time for a band that played such ferocious non-hardcore, non-NWOBHM rock n’ roll. “Waiting for the War” shows the new wave (o’ metal) influence, with its chugging riffs, wicked soloing and tempo shifts. Bottom line: If you don’t have any of the LPs, better snag this ‘un while you can.
[Cameleon; ???]

Toxie  “Newgate”/”Ties” 7”

Debut wax from Memphis indie quartet, Toxie. “Newgate” is maybe a little too polite; a sharp angle or two would nudge this away from the Best Coast towards the East Coast, where bands like Tsunami used to rule the scene. Hey, I’m a bitter guy and I like bitter, brittle music. That’s why the flip, “Ties,” is more my style. It’s got more power, more oomph, and rises and falls like your lover’s chest in a deep sleep. No need to put the mirror under their mouth, they’re still breathing. 

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