Sunday, November 9, 2014


Said she was a slut with a slit. Said she was a real stupid cunt. Said she couldn’t find her ass even if she fell in a hole in the ground. Said she was a hopeless miserable bitch who he wished would die. Even if he had to kill her himself. It was the most eloquent shit I ever heard him say. But he talked about it a lot, so it was almost like he was a poet. Shakespeare and Travis Bickle, together at last. The bastard was a real piece of work.

Four days a week, at 10:45 PM, Digger would pick me up in his beat-to-shit taxi and shuffle me off to work at the plant. My job was to police the silence of nighttime and midwife it into daybreak. I read a lot of thick, impenetrable books and tried not to fall asleep. Come quarter to eleven, if I wasn’t down on the street waiting, Digger would lay on his horn like he had just been shot execution-style and his head had found its final resting place in the center of the steering wheel. After I’d get in, careful not to blow my knees out rushing down the stairs, he’d carp, “Goddammit, Smecks, you know I hate the Puerto Rican doorbell. Why you make me do that shit?” I’d catch his eye in the rearview and throw a sneer at him, but I always ended up grinning like a doofus. The guy was an asshole, but at least he was a punctual asshole.

On a typical night, Digger would floor it, peeling out like a teenager who had just seen his first Steve McQueen flick. This might be the only time he ever approached what you would call happiness. Digger was a sour man, bent and twisted by life. He didn’t have any illusions. There was no happy ending off in the distance. I imagine he saw his life as one long complaint – a self-perpetuating gripe as deep and wide as a galaxy, and twice as old. Digger enjoyed needling his invisible enemies endlessly, as if he were engaged in some sort of joust on the astral plane. He unfurled many a winding tale of seething annoyance, narrating all sorts of mundane details from his irksome existence. It could be exhausting, but undeniably entertaining, especially when he jabbed at some vague figure’s character, drawing on all his powers of description to launch a pitiless attack. To sail the unassailable. It was glorious, in a pathetic way. But he saved the real hatred, the bloodletting fury, for his poor, dear mother. The bitch. The cow.

“Y’know what happened the other day? I got up to piss in the middle of the night, as I often do. I’m gettin old. My bladder was bursting. I tripped over some fuckin box on the way to the john, nearly broke my goddamn neck. Anyway, I’m leaning on the wall, letting it fly, when what do I fuckin see? Of course, you guessed it, Einstein, I saw my cunt of a mother’s face in the bowl. That stupid smile she used to walk around with. Like nothing was wrong. Like life was peachy. Like God gave a fuck about her. So I drain the whole lizard on that whore’s face, but then I feel a little rumble down there. A gurgling, y’know? So I hadda seat. I start pushing, really pushing, like I was giving birth to twins. Some fat fuckin twins. Comin out shoulders first, too, I might add. We’ve all been there, right, Smecks? You’ve shit out your share of kids, I bet."

An unwanted image of Digger on the toilet, straining with the might of a demi-god -- red-faced, near heart attack -- comes barreling into my mind’s eye. A hint of a gag, but I manage to subsume it with a swig of lukewarm joe. God damn you, Digger, you’re already halfway towards ruining my night.

“I tell ya, Smecks, I can’t remember what I ate that day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a leg of lamb with a side of lasagna. It hurt like a sumbitch, lemme tell ya. Felt like it was stuck up there, wedged in hard.”

Flash on an image of a soldier during World War One. A frightened teenage infantryman stuck in a trench, surrounded by his dead comrades, pinned down by enemy fire. Sweat and blood rolled down his filthy face. The soldier was Digger’s obstructed nugget of shit, and all I can think is, Lord, if you are there, please take this unfortunate soul to heaven, his time on earth is complete.

“Smecks, I’m telling you. I was contemplating doing a C-section on myself. Has anyone ever C-sectioned their guts to remove a giant piece of shit? A half hour must’ve gone by -- I tried reading a titty mag, I tried doing my taxes in my head, I recited the London Bus Driver’s Prayer a few times over, all sorts of crap. Nothing doing, but no way was Ma gonna get off that easily. Not again. Not this time. She had it coming. She was gonna eat my shit if it was the last thing I did. I was willing to pull an Elvis if it meant that Ma had to swallow it. At least I could die happy.”

Digger kept glancing into the rearview, trying to gauge my reaction. But by this juncture in our relationship, I knew it was best to remain mute, body language included.

“Smecks, c’mon man. Nothin?”

Then Digger ripped a massive fart, nearly fatal in its repugnance. Motherfucker was engaging in biochemical warfare. I cover my entire face with my shirt and yell out, “Not fuckin cool, Digger!” But my voice is muffled and Digger is staring into the rearview, laughing his ass off.

“Can you at least look at the fucking road, man?!”

“Smehhhhhhhhhhks, c’mon, guy, you’ve smelled worse. I saw your last girlfriend.”

At this, he lets out a bellowing guffaw, and I curse his mother for not having smothered this piece of human garbage in the crib. I look out the window, but all I see are long shadows cast by telephone poles and hulking factories looming over the city. Everywhere seemed doomed, like it barely even had a chance to actually live.

“Hey, it’s not like I haven’t smelled your shit. Remember? Do I have to remind you?”

“No. Of course not.”

My name isn’t “Smecks.” Only Digger called me that, and I tolerated it.

Because Digger saved my life one night.

It was back when I used to drink like a fish who thought he was gonna run out of water. I drank whiskey like water. And sometimes rum. Even though I hated rum. Rum is for fucking parrots and flamingos and crocodiles. Or the human version. Regardless, it’s disgusting and it made me careless and detached. Even more than normal.

The night in question, I was careening home, my legs trying to run off without my torso, when these three kids, who must’ve been extremely bored, or maybe it was a gang initiation, who the hell knows these days. It doesn’t matter. They beat the shit out of me. They threw me down and just started kicking. 1-2-3 and a 1-2-3, the only thought that I had was my brain trying to lock down on the rhythm in which they were pummeling me. It wasn’t quite 4/4, but it wasn’t a waltz. It might take two to tango, but it takes three to put a lush in a coma. I was only a block from my apartment, but I might as well have been a million miles away. I felt myself giving up. I blame the rum, but really I just wanted it to be over. All of it.

Call it fate, call it what you will, but Digger and his hack came squealing around the corner, probably on a drunken joyride. When his headlights flashed on the power trio beating the life out of me, he slammed on the brakes. From within his car, with the windows up, Digger could hear the kicks landing on my prone body. To Digger, safe inside his machine, it sounded like SMECK SMECK SMECK. He later told me that he was struck by how fake and cartoon-y the sound was -- even the sight of these teenagers kicking the crap out of me seemed staged, like some goofy reality show. None of this stopped Digger from rolling down his passenger-side window and pulling the Saturday night special out from under his seat. He pointed it at the startled kids and said, with a measure of convincing bravado, “One more smack and your mother goes to a funeral next week.”

Sometimes I think I made this part up, but with the brief respite in blows, I was suddenly aware of the world at large, not just the self-pitying part of me that wouldn’t mind slipping off this mortal coil.

After dragging me into his taxi, Digger rushed me to the hospital at nearly 100 mph. He didn’t seem to flinch when he realized that I had lost control of my bowels. During the beating, I had shit my pants. Gooey, runny shit-stuff ran down my legs and pooled in my shoe. My socks turned from black to brown. I smelled like a corpse who had let loose his last load. Digger didn’t mind.

He even came to visit me in the hospital. When I got out, he offered to drive me to work at a generously reduced rate. I couldn’t refuse. Despite his noxious character, he had a heart of gold. A heart of gold and a stomach full of putrid waste, locked up tight.

“I’m pushing and pushing and pushing, picturing Ma’s ugly mug at the bottom of that toilet bowl, big smile on her dumb face, getting ready to gargle this huge turd working it’s way out. I was straining so bad, I pulled a muscle in my chest. Don’t ask me how, but I felt it kinda snap, and then it felt like someone knifed me.”

We were almost at the plant. It was going be a long night.

“Christ, Digger, what the fuck are you telling me this for? I already know how much you hate your mother. Why don’t you call her up and tell her this shit? I’m sure she would appreciate it more than me.”

“Oh that ain’t gonna happen.”

“Why the hell not?”

“Cuz she died.”

“What? How? When?”

“Giving birth. To me.”

He hit the brakes. We were right outside the plant.

“Digger, I –--“

“Shut the fuck up, Smecks. Seeya tomorrow night.”

--originally appeared in Expatlitjournal #2

Saturday, August 30, 2014



Hey stupid!

Yeah, you, you fuckin idiot, is there anyone else there?

Course not, yer all by yer lonesome, wallowing in yer own filth, drinking last night’s dinner, eyeballing days-old pizza perched precariously above the trash (aka the floor). Luckily for you there is LiveFastDie to keep you company. Get on yer knees and pray to the almighty Lord GG, cuz LFD wrote a song for each of your life’s concerns. For instance, there’s the uplifting message contained in the dirt-boogie grooves of “Not A Dog” (“you’re not a dog/you’re a man”), and even a piece of free advice: “Don’t shit where you eat.” Kim Fowley would be proud (maybe? who cares). For dirtbag New Yorkers in the latter part of the first decade of this century, LFD was the closest we were gonna get to a “new Ramones.” If you think that’s hyperbolic, my guess is that you haven’t heard “Pissing on the Mainframe.” You wouldn’t think a message board could spawn such an infectious international hit, but therein lies the cunning of Camero Werewolf. “Webshits and BlahBlahBlahs” was made solely as an internet-only piss-take/kiss-off based on some Goner Board shenanigans that most people have probably forgotten (not I, said the fly), and it sounds better than ever – proof of the idea of spontaneous inspiration from unlikely sources. “Dawn of the VHS” celebrates those sources with one of LFD’s finest songs, and typically blazing axe-action by the Wolfman. He protests that he ain’t no “Guitar Star,” but the way he tosses off molten leads left n’ right proves otherwise. Camero’s got you nailed – who hasn’t woken up from a night of “fun” feeling like you had “Alcoholic AIDS?” Tough titty, they still haven't found a cure, but I hear you can lead a "normal" life these days. Is there a more punk song title than “Pizza and Vomit?” It’s like Camero Werewolf is looking directly into the abyss of your soul. And he approves. I never really gave a fuck about video games, but I bet you do, or at least did, nerd, and the sick swivel-shake of “Got Nitedo” will make y’all nostalgic and want to smash your dumb face into the screen. “Do I Look Like a Bank to You” is a totally legit question, and I’ve been on both sides of that one. Um, I’m going with “sometimes.” One time I witnessed a tense table session regarding the authorship of “Thought You Could Steal My Beer." It took a few massive bong hits to sort that one out. Phew. Another time, I tagged along on a 3 day tour of the Midwest. We spent 24 out of 72 hours in the car. An El Camino. We got ripped off for a bag in Clevo. There was a lot of farting and snoring. 

After listening to these ear-peeling shit-fi anthems of yesterday, you may be wondering: Camero Werewolf – genius or con artist? As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle -- the middle of your fat fuckin’ ass.

- Doc Toxic

Monday, March 24, 2014


Autodramatics  ‘Reaction’ LP

Former Horror (Iowa not UK) Andy Caffrey comes roaring back on this self-released platter. Plenty of fuzz coats some pretty good songs, with some pretty women singing most of them. “Tigerman” tears it up, hell the whole record does. ‘Reaction’ could’ve come out on Crypt circa 199something and you wouldn’t’ve thought anything was amiss. Ironically, mebbe ahm jus’ gettin’ ol’, but a little more fidelity could’ve helped a bit, there’s not a lot of sonic depth to the band itself. But they could prolly give a shit, so why don’t I shut it. Side B opener “Go Be a Lesbian” is the headsticker, and the swampy blues of the title track get you prepared for the last-call jones of “Methadone."  (Obsolete //

Bone  ‘For Want of Feeling’ LP

Bleak and uncompromising, Bone pull off the weight of their intention. Any band who uses scenes from one of the most fucked movies ever filmed (‘Begotten’) is not dicking around for shits n’ giggles and nuthin’ but a good time. Bone is originally from Perth, with Cuntz drummer Mike on bass, but neither of those bits of knowledge prepare you for the desolate sound of math-rock stripped of all equations, post-punk stripped of any hope, replaced with a steel exoskeleton. A song like “Pedestal” is a perfect fusion of the choked hopelessness of early Swans and the right-angled grooves of the best Shellac. The construction of these songs sneaks into your head when you’re not listening, and when you do listen, they reveal themselves to have all sorts of memorable passages embedded. There is a similar path being trod as Drose, although less metal, more wire-y. Over the course of steady listens for the past half year or so, For Want of Feeling has maintained itself as a compelling listen. (Tenzenmen //

Division Four  ‘1983 Demo Cassette’ 12”

This is goddamn glorious. I live for this shit. Thank you Smart Guy and dude from anti-PC punx Rupture for digging this little gemstone of a post-punk EP up from the cellar. Thirty years ago, five guys on the far side of the world (Perth, Oz) got together, jettisoned the guitar (doubling up the bass in lieu), and squeezed out this six-song mini-masterpiece. Of course, maybe a hundred tapes get made, and Division Four sink into the memory of the punk-scarred few that are still drawing breath following their self-destructive youth. There are similarities to what Soft Drinks were doing as regards to synth-driven punk, but Division Four were far more serious, and even more acerbic. “Doctor’s Wife” busts in like an accessible Screamers, singer Alan Hooper asserting himself with incisive lyrics and a snide vocal delivery that slices quick and deep. “Blank Prostitutes” is my kinda synth-punk, Hooper delivering the lines “Open your wallet and I’ll open my legs/Fuck me til you’re broke/ Your 20 dollars will buy me a hit/Take me away from life’s tedious shit” with such knowing disgust, that you imagine him creeping through alleys, telling himself he’s just doing “research.” It’s that Travis Bickle kind of disgust, the sort that comes from being at the same level as the scum surrounding you. But just when you think it’s all curled-lip bile, side two opens up with the lovely OMD-on-a-budget “I Was Walking”; it’s sensitive New Wave underpinnings go exactly where you expect them to, and the song is no weaker for it. “Azzaria” combines both these modes, verses positively seething in a Rotten-esque manner, chorus resolving into melody, the whole thing reminiscent of Flowers of Romance-era PiL, and reverse vice-versa, Total Control. This EP-that-never-was wraps itself up with the epic trudge of “Sewer Song,” a pit of sonic quicksand sucking you deeper into its foul embrace. Much like this 12”, it’s life-affirming in the worst possible way.  (Smart Guy//

THE FRESH & ONLYS  House of Spirits LP
The Fresh & Onlys are perplexing. Although they are linked to the recently ascendant San Francisco garage rock scene, they are not really a garage band per se. The Fresh & Onlys traffic in the sort of late ‘80s jangle best defined by Flying Nun’s roster, hewing particularly close to the literate sensibilities of bands such as The Verlaines, The Bats and The Chills. Unfortunately, House of Spirits, The Fresh & Onlys’ fifth album in nearly as many years, is far too languid for its own good. The Fresh & Onlys bear a superficial resemblance to standard-setters like Echo and The Bunnymen but, filtered through their Laurel Canyon-leaning West Coast haze, the music is lacking the kind of drama and tension that marks the truly memorable. Where Tim Cohen’s vocals should soar, scream or sink low, they remain at a consistent monotone, rendering his occasionally poetic lyrics into lukewarm sentiments that do not invite further investigation. Cohen seems almost embarrassed to show any visceral emotion that may get the listener’s blood pumping. Ironically, it’s the songs that intend to slow the pulse down that make the strongest impression. “Bells of Paonia” ditches the guitars for a bass-heavy throb featuring elegiac vocals. If “I’m Awake” doesn’t put you to sleep, “Hummingbird” will quicken the pulse a bit, it’s still not enough. After a stretch of colorless, Paisley Underground-recalling, ostensibly rock songs, closer “Madness” mines similar territory as “Bells,” and is far more successful than the bland tracks that precede it. In a different era, The Fresh & Onlys music would have been deemed “college rock,” but, all things considered, now such sounds are quite firmly in the realm of NPR “rock,” tote bag not included.  [Mexican Summer]

The Gotobeds  “Ipso Facto” 7”

Now here’s something to sink your goddamn teeth into. Who'da thunk it? A kick-ass new indie rock single in 2013?!? Say it is so, Joe. Packaged in a snazzy sleeve w/ a printed inner, this “record store day” release (part of a singles series of local bands by Pittsburgh’s Mind Cure record store) hits all the right buttons at all the right moments. “Ipso Facto” is like a great lost Volcano Suns tune rung thru a Swell Maps sweat towel. One rocking guitar, one chiming guitar and a melodic bass driving an insistent rhythm; is that so fucking hard, people? (help, I’m turning into Andrew Earles) Look here, folks, a cool breakdown followed by an extended coda. Is it too late to make up my mind? B-side? Oh, just an above-average run-thru of a lil’ rager called “Television Addict.” Personally (and you know I like to get personal), I wish someone would attempt to out-trip-over-your-own-guitar-chords “TV Freak,” but I also like American Horror Story, so whadda I know? I think I know that there’s an LP coming soon courtesy of 12XU, so…… beans.  (Mind Cure //

The Invisible Hands 2xLP/CD  

Following the dissolution of the long-running esoterrorist art collective Sun City Girls (feels disingenuous and pedestrian to call them a “band”), Alan Bishop found himself in post-Tahrir Square Cairo with a fistful of songs and a need to make sense of the chaos around him. With the help of a few skilled Egyptian musicians, Bishop was able to complete this excellent self-titled album. The Invisible Hands conjures a somber and elegiac mood; the bitter, biting humor of songs like “Hitman Boy” and “Nice On Ice” is pitch-black, nearly suffocating in its hopelessness. “Soma” brings sha-la-las and bright, nearly Beatles-esque accompaniment to an aching plea for “freedom from the slaughter.” Despite its carefully orchestrated and masterfully executed musical framework, violence seems to stalk every step of The Invisible Hands’ existence. “Black Blood” finds Bishop channeling Leonard Cohen; a lament for fallen friends, abducted and tortured by secret police. “Death Zoo” closes the album with a shuddering finality. Fortunately, Bishop is able to balance his fatalistic gallows humor with meticulous sonic detail and deft playing from his cohorts. And this really comes in handy for part two of The Invisible Hands, which shows that Bishop is no mere dilettante cautiously dipping his toes into exotic waters. On this companion album, the same songs are performed (with slightly different mixes), but here they are given voice by Aya Hemeda and guitarist Cherif El-Masri. This is protest music, and it needs to be heard by everyone. Apparently a documentary is in the works, so stay tuned. 

Joel RL Phelps & the Downer Trio  ‘Gala’ LP

The people love Silkworm, as well they should, but the best Silkworm stuff is early-mid 90s when they were a four-piece, and this cat, Joel Phelps, played second guitar and wrote/sang about a third of their songs. After he split following ‘Libertine,’ the band was still good, but diminished without his idiosyncratic voice, both literal and writing. His physical voice is a weedy but strikingly powerful presence, and it enhances songs of naked emotion and a sort of existential clutching -- for others, for meaning, for something, for anything. Phelps’ trio of songs from personal S’worm high point Into the West, still send shivers racing down my spine. Even now, I’m still slightly unnerved by the time I saw this line-up and Phelps played the entire set sitting in a chair with his back facing the crowd, periodically and reluctantly stepping up to the mic, and letting loose with a caterwaul that sounded exactly as his contorted body looked. And that’s pretty much where I’ve kept Phelps all these years, trapped in my own little memory box. But, with his Downer Trio, he went on making records every few years. I never really checked in, which was stupid, cuz the guy is talented, and he’s not so far removed from those twenty year-old songs. ‘Gala’ is the first new one in nine years, and opens with two meticulously-recorded (you can hear every inch of that drumkit, in a warm, non-clinical way) songs -- sparse, yet tense, full of feints, parries and surges. And it continues apace, stopping for the occasional murder ballad (“Exiting the Garden”). ‘Gala’ is an excellent record of minimalist rock music played with a subtle grandiosity that compliments its blatant honesty. (12XU //

Neo Boys  ‘Sooner or Later’ 2xLP/2xCD

I was pretty excited by the prospect of this release, but decidedly underwhelmed with the finished product itself. While it’s obvious that a lifetime of love went into this career-spanning collection, I’m not so sure Neo Boys deliver the musical goods. At least not to an extent that justifies this overlong overview. I’ve always dug the first Neo Boys single (put out by fellow Portlander Greg Sage’s Trap Records), particularly the B-side “Rich Man’s Dream.” Their excellent ‘Crumbling Myths’ EP opens with another of their finest songs, “Poor Man’s Jungle” (detecting a theme here?). ‘Sooner or Later’ jumbles a pile of Neo Boys recordings into a sprawling mess of mid-level femme post-punk. Neo Boys are not boys, but they don’t quite equal the heights of the best in the worldwide boom of female-guided post-punk. As a local concern, the Neo Boys are a classic Portland punk band, but too much of this collection is flat, tuneless and doesn’t quite justify their legendary rep. I’m not trying to out-and-out diss da Boys, they have some good stuff, and you can certainly hear their influence in a band like Grass Widow. But a single LP with the 45, the 12” and maybe the best of the unreleased stuff would have gone a lot further in solidifying their legacy. We don’t always need the kitchen sink. And no, that’s not a “wash the dishes, woman” pun, it’s a plea against warts n’ all. Calvin, some more careful curation next time, please. (K //

Pampers  s/t LP

I’m completely biased re: Pamps by both geography and friendship. I don’t care. You’re a dumbfuck if loud-ass banging cavemen-who-can-write-songs-type rock n’ roll is your bag. And you’re a dumbfuck if it ain’t. If the cover (by bassist/singer Jordan Lovelace) grosses you out, we’re off to a good start. These guys are getting up there in years, so any resemblance to an Oblivian or Spit-style pummel is not a coincidence, nor is it some new affectation. It just is. Lovelace-yelled “Not” is a live favorite, a relentless rocker with a sweet change-up. With bad-ass new slamma-jammas like “The Wigga,” I’ll admit I was slightly bummed about re-recorded 7” cuts, but damn this version of “Monkey Drip” is just stellar. Carl’s songs are generally more melodic, and his “Purple Brain” is the winner on this debut, and was quite literally, my favorite song of this past summer. To me it sounds like a science-fiction ode to love – spacejunked Devo. But the extended psyched-out pounding of side one closer “Sack Attack” comes in a close number two (and live it’ll make you doo-doo). Nice to see the boys on such an esteemed label. I think this was recorded in a cabin in the middle of the woods. Well done, boners. (In The Red //

PYPY  ‘Pagan Day’ LP/CD

PyPy are somewhat of a Montreal supergroup, pulling together Choyce from Red Mass/CPC Gangbangs and Annie-Claude, dynamo singer of aggro-electro unit Duchess Says. ‘Pagan Day’ is a hard record, and a party record. PyPy songs are not quite Andrew WK posi-anthems, and based on the death disco of “Too Much Cocaine,” hard drugs may have contributed to the decadent squall made by this quartet. “New York” captures a sleazy post-punk vibe better than just about any bearded fuckface from the 11211 zip code (or 11249 to you johnny-cum-latelies), and if you think “Molly” is about a girl, then this probably isn’t the record for you. Meanwhile, “Daffodils” could score a Miami Vice drug-dealing montage. “Ya Ya Ya” is a warped dance number that sounds like Les Sexareenos got left out in the sun too long. “Psychedelic Warlords” brings you down easy.  (Black Gladiator //

Quailbones  ‘In Lord Dion’s House of Discovery’ 7”

Good but ultimately forgettable garage moderne. Which means > a whole lotta OhSees. Now, I like them OhSees, still do, if less attention is paid (and payed). And I would put these cats near the top of Oh Sees tribute bands (that Wooden Indian Burial Ground band does a striking imitation too). Well-played, energetic, pretty deece recording, but all the hallmarks of that band’s style are here in droves, spades, and other things that come together. The flipside’s “The Long Hair of Death” does stick to the ribs a bit, but between its yodeling vocal hook and even the title itself, it’s just Dwyer-damaged thru & thru.  (Ghost Orchard //

Sex Tide  ‘Flash Fuck’ 12”          

Things sure have been Sex-y as of late; between yer vids and yer churches and yer cults and yer tapes and 8-traks’s enough to make you say Sorry, not tonight honey, I’ve got a headache. But here’s another Sex rolling in, and once again, we gotta say Yes, let’s fuck, as if we were in a flash-flood of Biblical proportions. UNFFF-NNNGGGGGG-UUUUHHHHHH----OH goddDDDD. Ain’t no atheists in the bedroom, who said that? Here we have 8 songs of loud n’ crude bashing from Cowtown USA (that’s Cbus to you). Sex kitten on obnox vox/standing Moe-drums, two dudes on geetars (one ex-Geraldine, who did the best Gun Club cover I’ve still seen yet).  Plenty of Pussy refs for you ref-heads, plenty of stanky punk for you panty-sniffers. Let's go deeper, baby, and say "Jackknife w/o the speed." Final cut “Gone” is a slo-burner that nicks the lead lick from “You Only Live Twice.” There ain’t no wheel reinvention going on here, but plenty of groovy hate-fucking. How else can we mention swampy genitals in fetid basements? Hey, what’s your name by the way, wanna fuck?  (A Wicked Company //

Sperm Donor  ‘Accidental Incest’ LP

The underground will always have room for bespectacled geeks who carry around bucketfuls of pent-up rage, and attempt to exorcise said rage via tight rock group dynamics, angular riffing and non-melodic speak-singing. Call it the Albini factor. Sperm Donor are the latest to don the wire-rims, and they acquit themselves……okay. Opener “She Fucked Kevin Bacon” is def Rapeman outtake material, and the following “Compulsive Fornicator” doesn’t do much to dispel the notion of Sperm Donor as, well, a collective of compulsive masturbators. “So Long Motherfuckers” and “Dolly Parton” bring the proceedings down to a typical ‘90s plod. I’ve heard enough sludgefeasts like this to last a lifetime. It’s Melvins-lite, and it’s no fun. Besides, isn’t Dolly Parton getting a bit saggy these days? I mean, she’s like 100 years old (OK, yeah I would, fuck you, you would too). These “heavy” rock tropes are goddamn saggy. Soggy, even, but still not heavy enough. Side Two opens with “Song X,” which I wish sounded as close to Karp as Sperm Donor probably thinks it does. Dammit, I wanted to like this more than I did, and while it hits its markers well enough, in the end, that’s really the whole problem. (self-released //

Ultrathin  ‘Minimum Payout E.P’  cass/download

Melty Montreal negative space punk more onna Blade Runner tip than a blast into interstellar overdrive; fun stuff like Monoshock, Simply Saucer and Chrome gets the bomb-shelter treatment. “Walk Into the Void” and the relentless/obsessive “Downward Spiral” seethe with frustration and noisy head-down effects-riddled riffage; not gazing at shoes, just trying to avoid the average citizen’s zombie stares. Didn’t everyone hear yours truly when I declared a moratorium on Urinals covers? It was on Twitter (j/k #notfunny). Despite being slightly gauche, the live “Black Hole” here acquits itself well, but we’re more keen to hear the ‘thin’s take on The Pagans’ “Real World,” which they killed on stage. “A.K.A” is the two-minute punker that makes the Pagans influence more than apparent, convincingly desperate and thoroughly rockin’. If Ultrathin only wrote songs like this, they could open for The Spits in Halifax. No surprise that the cut called “Cyborg Skin” is the Chrome-iest of the lot, but, despite it being a bit long in the tooth, I’ll be damned if it don’t scratch that itch better than anyone has in awhile. “Spaceman” gets loose and far-out, all 3 Ultrathinners going for broke, like Loop huffing gasoline in the garage.  (Bruised Tongue//

Tuesday, February 11, 2014




Let’s get real. The story of the year was not, belie it or not, Ed Snowden (or Kanye West). It was Christopher motherfuckin’ Dorner. Blambo: The Revenge. A real-time terror spree, an epic statewide manhunt, an armed stand-off, a fiery demise. Brought to you in living (ahem) color by a slew of three-lettered acronyms and one pissed-off ex-everything. A man with a special set of skills. Twilight language. Ignore this at your own peril. Blambo was out for blood. In my heart of hearts, he’s still running free, lining up corrupt peace officers for execution. Every ‘80s actioner coming true all at once, forever. Strange how his “narrative” seems to have been excised from all major media, less than one year later. Why? It’s too fucking terrifying to contemplate, that’s why. One of “our own” turned inside-out by abuse and self-hatred, years of simmering rage, exploding in a cool, calm, and collected targeting of former “comrades.” It doesn’t get much richer, thicker, more desperate and dramatic. Did you forget? How about all those other shootings? Carried out by civilians, no less. Sorry to bring you down. Can I see both of your hands? I’m not sure I trust you. Don’t take it personally, it’s been a rough year.

If you didn’t give a slice of your (y)ear over to Cuntz, you must either hate to laugh or not enjoy getting your head kicked in. I can understand the latter, but I cannot forgive the former. If you ain’t a Solid Mate, say Aloha, baybee. Based upon the wake of their month-long US tour, in the modern parlance, Cuntz “won” 2013.

A case could be made that, in fact, Obnox won 2013, and that case would be hard to argue. Against. I’m wondering when Bim will catch up on jotting down all those names of all those asses Obnox kicked, live or on wax. He probably needs at least a few more weeks, it was a long year. Corrupt Free Enterprise (12XU) is the heavyweight, but that A Ragin’ in the Sun 7” (Anyway) is pure ‘scale. A double set, a maxi 12”er, a 2x45 and two 7” EPs.  Hell, let’s throw the Bassholes platter Boogieman’s Stew (CDR) in there too. Game, set, match.

Have you heard Human Eye? Oh, finally! Thank you Goner Records, with 4: Into Unknown, the best band OUT THERE seemed to finally get some real notice outside of our little bubble. Couldn’t happen to a better band. No, really, it couldn’t; there isn’t one.
Destruction Unit put out two LPs and a couple 7”s this year. It’s all good, but I sure hope you caught them on their endless tour -- live is where their desert found its true voice, and it is a loud and anguished moan.

Hey shithead, Australia’s Homeless Records was the label of the year. Going from releasing one LP in 2012 (Bits of Shit’s debut) to ten this year, Homeless established itself as the go-to label for dirty, grimy real world rock music. Featuring a nice split between crucial archival releases (both Stabs LPs and bringing late 90s Tasmanian heroes The Stickmen to wider attention) and vital new Oz bands like the aforementioned Cuntz, the Teasers-meets-Killdozer grind of Sewers (Hoisted) and the corroded psych-punk of Gentlemen (Sex Tape). Homeless even found the time to squeeze out K-85, a lovely album by Dan Melchior that is like Dan’s miniature Another Green World. And for the finishing blow, Richie even snuck in first-time vinyl issues of Tasmanian local legends The Stickmen; I’m partial to the livewire postpunk of the ’98 debut. More meaty stuff is on deck for the coming twelve months. It’s a good time to be Homeless (??).

While I have nothing but respect for the Drag City label (I grew up indie-damaged in the early/mid 90s after all), not much they have released in recent years has pricked up my ears. That changed with the welcome Venom P. Stinger reissue campaign they embarked upon this year. Nothing fancy (tho a lil’ pricey), straightforward re-ups of classic stabs of anti-you Antipodean rockjazz. First, buy 1986’s scabrous, borderline psychotic Meet My Friend Venom, then pick-up 1990’s What’s Yours Is Mine, which is one of the more effectively portrayed descents into personal hell on a (ostensibly) rock n’ roll album. It sucks Lou died, and Berlin is a bummer, but this album will keep you comfort in your loneliness like a plague blanket and bottle of cheap red. The merely-good Waiting Room EP is optional IMHO, but the “Walking About” 7” is about as essential as they come. Total tornado, your life is not your own.

The Floor Above’s Bishop (Savage Quality) turned the whole “one-man band” equation on its head. No Hasil Adkins disciple, this fella continues to grind steel wool against the open wounds of society. Bishop sounds like one dude’s refusal to consent – a giant FUCK EVERYTHING communicated through caustic, blazing-fast punk with thrilling noise guitar taking place of done-to-death hardcore chord “progressions.”

Hardcore Devo – what else can be said? You’re all devo, volumes one and two. A doff of the clear plastic mask to our friends over at Superior Viaduct. Holy shit, what a year they had. There was no way in hell I could keep up. But I will tell ya that the remastered version of MX-80 Sound’s Hard Attack is fucking unstoppable; make no mistake, MX-80 is a force, and this is their finest LP. Anyone who tells you otherwise, while surely well-meaning, is still a liar and a fool. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it even after I’m dead: If you don’t own the Negative Trend EP in some form (no, digital files don’t count), then you are not, and never will be, punk. Is that annoying to read? Imagine how annoying it is to hear people blubber and blabber about punk, and they know naught of this record. Now you really have no excuse. SV gone and done made it easily available; I hear squares are even allowed to buy it (making them instantly cool, whatta deal!). Couple these significant victories with essential reissues that range from 100 Flowers, Martin Rev and Tuxedomoon to Heldon, Glaxo Babies and a cornucopia of obscure prog and lost soundtracks. One of my favorite things to listen to this year was Craig Leon’s Nommos, an intergalactic transmission from alien astronauts, recombo’d by futuristic Mayan priests floating on a cloud-like bed of glowing crystals thousands of years forward in the future-past. There’s an interesting behind-the-scenes conflict regarding this reissue too, but I’ll let our Goggle overlords direct you in the case you wanna know more.

Siltbreeze’s Scorched Earth Policy & Victor Dimisich Band collection LPs + Captured Tracks/Flying Nun reish campaign (Toy Love! Snapper! Clean! Verlaines! more!) + 540 Records’ Peter Gutteridge Pure vinylization x Peter Jefferies’ Last Great Challenge in a Dull World (De Stijl) = NZ DUZ IT. Evverytime.

One more thing from Down There: The Division Four 1983 Demo Cassette 12” (Smart Guy) was one of my favorite releases of the year, new or old. An absolute must for any self-respecting post-punk enthusiast.

S-S Records had a bit of an under-the-radar yet stellar schedule: the open up n’ bleed Slavic punk of Satan Panonski collection Hard Blood Shock, Banque Allemande’s Gordons-gone-Velvets (or is it the other way ‘round?) Willst Du Chinese Sein Musst Du Die Ekligen Sachen Essen, a coupla quality Spray Paint albums, and other stuff like neg-vibe “merchants” Life Stinks and decades-old Italian HC demos. Bravo.

Toronto’s Teenanger continue to make very cool punk rock music. Singles Don’t Sell (Telephone Explosion) is another winner, 12 infectious cuts with a few new wrinkles. Consistently excellent band.

Liquor Store went big-time on In The Garden (Almost Ready), and they have the songs, balls, charm, guitars, and guitars to back it up. “I’m just a pile of dirt” is one of the year’s more succinct and right-on statements. Write on, ride on.

There was some really great stuff this year that I only heard via demos or bandcamp, or demos on bandcamp. Like Taiwan Housing Project (Kilynn from Little Claw + Mark Feehan from Harry Pussy), or School Girl Report’s Success is Dating or just new bands with hard-to-find albums (Quttinirpaaq are cool). Blogs like Terminal Escape and the Urbankill tumblr are rife with all kinds of cool international sounds discovered via either dusty tape or easily-clickable streaming pages. Even if the tech is new, the game is the same: the constant hunt for that next band that locks you in, dredges up more than just “Oh cool, it sounds like X crossed with Q.” One band I listened to this a lot this year (courtesy of TE) does both of those things (ie. fulfill both trainspottery and engage my actual remaining emotions). A demo called Yeah I Know by a trio from Atlanta called Dasher got stuck in my craw almost instantly. In a current climate of ‘90s revivalism, Dasher gets “it” right, while also sounding vital and contemporary. Singer/drummer Kylee has a rasping voice that I initially mistook for a person of the male persuasion. She has a knack for welding intense, almost Jap HC vocals to big, thick anthems of strangled noise rock. MBV, Sonic Youth and Archers of Loaf steeped in a lifetime of Southern crust. Spring brings us a 7” on Die Slaughterhaus.

Other musics [good to great/new and new again]: Pampers s/t (In The Red), Counter Intuits s/t (Pyramid Scheme), TV Ghost Disconnect (In The Red), The Haxan Cloak Excavation (Tri Angle), The 39 Clocks Pain It Dark (Luxury Products), Circuit Des Yeux Overdue (self-released), Joel RL Phelps Gala (12XU), Pop. 1280 Imps of Perversion (Sacred Bones), Giant Henry Big Baby (Numero Group), Murderedman Love in Danger (Soundesign), Sightings Terribly Well (Dais), Pussy Galore Groovy Hate Fuck (Shove), The Invisible Hands s/t (Abduction), Run The Jewels s/t (Fool's Gold), Afflicted Man I’m Off Me ‘Ead (Permanent), Bone For Want of Feeling (Tenzenmen), 15-60-75 (aka The Numbers Band) Jimmy Bell’s Still In Town (Exit Stencil), True Sons of Thunder Stop and Smell Your Face (Little Big Chief), Tar 1988 – 1995 (Chunklet), Moonrises Frozen Altars (Captcha), Androids of Mu Blood Robots (Water Wing), Dan Friel Total Folklore (Thrill Jockey), Cut Hands Damballah 58 (Blackest Ever Black), Orchid Spangiafora Flee’s Past’s Ape Self  (Feeding Tube), Bona Dish The Zaragoza Tapes 1981-1982 + Earth Dies Burning Songs From the Valley of the Bored Teenager (1981-1984) (Captured Tracks), Shocked Minds s/t (Hozac), The Zingers s/t (Million Dollar), The Love Triangle Clever Clever (Static Shock/Sorry State), Matmos The Marriage of True Minds (Thrill Jockey), Tiger Hatchery Sun Worship (ESP-Disk), PYPY Pagan Day (Black Gladiator), Dirty Beaches Drifters/Love is The Devil (Zoo), The Feeling of Love Reward Your Grace (Born Bad), Rodion G.A. The Lost Tapes (Strut), AANIPAA Through a Pre-Memory (Editions Mego), Fuzz s/t (In The Red), Bad Noids Everything From Soup to Desert (Katorga Works), Rodan Fifteen Quiet Years (Quarterstick/Touch & Go), Thee Oh Sees Floating Coffin + Moon Sick EP (Castle Face), Joint D Satan is Real Again, Again… (Sorry State), The Gotobeds 7” (Mind Cure), Cellos 3-song 7” (Doormat), La Luz 45 (Water Wing), Livids various singles, Cosmic Psychos reissues on Goner (and live, it’d been awhile).

[originally published on Terminal Boredom, minus the last bit]