red water

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 22:49:29 GMT

When I first got it, I was a little disappointed by the Young GodsL’Eau Rouge. All I’d heard from the album was “Longue Route”, and I was hoping the album would have more of its sample-driven heavy metal. What I got instead was a dense patchwork of samples (symphonic, heavy metal, jazz), odd time signatures, hoarse French vocals, and carnival atmosphere that was at odds with the band being signed to WaxTrax! / Play It Again Sam.

It wasn’t until a year or two later when they released their album of Kurt Weill covers that I think things snapped into focus: the Young Gods are a postmodern cabaret act. I mean the oldest, most literal meaning of “postmodern”: bricolage as a technique to highlight the fissures between the various genres being collided together. L’Eau Rouge is a heady album, driven as much by conceit as gut-level appeal, but it’s one that was assembled with great care by musicians with very careful ears. It’s grown with me over the years, and where the more overtly “heavy metal” tracks were the ones that used to be my favorites, now it’s the contemplative tracks that I most eagerly anticipate hearing again.

“Longue Route” still sounds fantastic, though: the guitar samples are heavy as anything, the swirling mix and hard panning elicit shivers, and the impassioned vocals are perfect for the music.

what the fuck, Frenchbloke?

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 22:00:23 GMT

It’s nearly impossible to describe the state of mind engendered by listening to Frenchbloke’s recentish DJ set (I don’t know its provenance, but it came to me entitled And a Big Fuck You Too, which is par for the course with Frenchbloke). Frenchbloke, in case you don’t know, is one of the most prolific and talented of the original wave of mashup / bastard pop internerds who came to prominence in the early ’00s. My favorite of his mashups is “Bad Spicy Horny”, which combines bits of songs by the Bloodhound Gang, Bolz Bolz, some random R&B singer, and the Spice Girls. It shouldn’t work at all but something about the way he flows it all together produces something far more interesting than the individual pieces.

He seems to have developed into a DJ that aims for “diverse” and ends up somewhere west of “completely bonkers”, but he’s maintained that ability to sew together pieces that shouldn’t fit: Spahn Ranch (no, not that one, the one that came before it with the dude from Numb) into The Passions’ “I Fell in Love With a German Film Star” (both incredibly obscure bands remembered only by die-hard goth and New Wave fans), languid vocodered disco into Test Department at their most confrontational into Afrika Bambaataa & John Lydon into a cheesy grebo cover of The Undertones“Teenage Kicks”, Brian Eno’s “The Quiet Men” into Heaven 17’s “Fascist Groove Thang”, spoken-word rants against jukeboxes mixing into “No Can Do” – somehow he welds all this cultural flotsam into a mix that exudes jaded sophistication and wit. I think this kind of cleverness is what a lot of college radio DJs aim for, but almost none of them make it, because they concentrate too hard on the eclecticism and not enough on the flow. If anyone’s interested, I can make it available, because I doubt Frenchbloke cares if I mirror it.

you can't say things like that

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 06:57:36 GMT

What’s wrong with you, she said,
are you crazy?
You can’t say things like that,
you can’t say things like that.

You’re back to making waves.
Her messages are plain.
I wanna be her slave.
There’s a fire in my brain.

What’s wrong with you, she said,
are you crazy, or something?
You can’t say things like that,
you can’t say things like that.

“Kowtow” by China Shop (from Hyped 2 Death’s Homework #10: American DiY 1978-1989 A-C) is yet another beautiful piece of post punk psychedelia, with its woozy backmasked guitars, stylized vocals, drum machine rhythms, and mournful Let’s Active atmosphere (if you ever liked REM and you’ve never heard of Mitch Easter’s band, you should do something about that). The combined effect is a startling mixture of jangle pop and electronic psychedelia, and the oddly affecting (and affected) singing seals the deal. I need more of this stuff.

swinging in and out of grace

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 04:31:00 GMT

People seem surprised when they hear Mudhoney are still around. They are. Mark Arm’s still a funny asshole. They’re still loud and loose. They still hate The Man. And the Bushes. And you, probably.

They got a horn section, though. That’s new.

twist and shout

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 03:16:00 GMT

Likewise, Guy Picciotto has had a long and varied career with the DC hardcore scene and is also well-represented on Twenty Years of Dischord Records. There are tracks from Rites of Spring, One Last Wish and Happy Go Licky (and, of course, Fugazi, the reason anyone under the age of 25 knows who Guy Picciotto is). Happy Go Licky were interesting. They put out one single, and De Soto Records released a compilation of live and demo material long after they broke up. There’s lots of pointless experimental wankery with the 4-track, but there’s also “Twist and Shout”, which is spooky, tense and restrained. It’s more like a lost Factory b-side than anything from the DC punk scene. I could listen to it all night.

Of course, Twenty Years also features “Blueprint”, which is still probably my favorite Fugazi song, along with being one of the three or four I can play when I feel like screwing around with one of my guitars.

Man, this compilation is just packed full of goodies. And I haven’t even gotten to Slant 6 or Autoclave yet.

the inner life of Ian Mackaye

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 02:57:23 GMT

I’m listening to Twenty Years of Dischord Records, and since it’s, like, the DiY label Ian Mackaye started to release his own music, there’s a lot of his stuff all over it. Dude was in a lot of bands (Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Skewbald, Egg Hunt, Embrace, Fugazi, etc.), and his evolution was pretty linear, but there’s stuff like The Snakes’ “Snake Rap” popping out of the mix with a very high WTF?! factor. Hearing Mackaye and his friends rapping about snakes is, of course, extremely silly. The backing track is still some pretty convincing funk, though.

like screaming at a wall

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 02:05:29 GMT

I used to have a very strong belief that every American child should be handed a copy of Minor Threat’s Complete Discography upon reaching 15 or 16 years of age. 20 years later, I see no reason to change that belief. “Screaming at a Wall” still slices through bullshit with ease. The only punk tracks that come close to it in clarity and righteousness are Bad Brains“PMA” and Flux of Pink Indians“They Lie We Die”.

Oh, and the rest of Minor Threat’s catalog.

heroin house - house

Posted by othiym23 Fri, 11 Jan 2008 00:19:32 GMT

If Gas make “heroin house” (as my buddies at Aquarius have long insisted), then Echospace make “heroin”. Echoes, hisses, clanky chords – dub without a referent. Not at all original but very self-assured.

celebrate diversity!

Posted by othiym23 Thu, 10 Jan 2008 23:22:10 GMT

Maybe it's just a product of Chuck Warner's preoccupations, but I've noticed that where the songs on Hyped 2 Death's Messthetics series tend to have lyrics concerned with things like collective action, urban anomie, industrial decay, DiY culture, and getting wasted, the songs on the Homework series tend to be more preoccupied with, uh, girls, being bored and getting wasted. The difference is that Messthetics is British (and Irish, I think) and Homework is American. Are we really that shallow?

Also, the only real difference between Homework and Teenline is that the songs on the Teenline comps are way more likely to sound like Cheap Trick or the Stray Cats. I like Teenline a little better, except there's no songs by Christmas or Lester Bangs on Teenline.

all ribbony

Posted by othiym23 Thu, 10 Jan 2008 22:54:39 GMT

Pale Saints' In Ribbons is an album I've always loved. It takes a clean, no-nonsense approach to capturing a classic set of early 90s UK pop songs, with all of the little bits of the Byrds, Jesus & Mary Chain and the rest that you would expect. It's of a piece with the records that came out by Lush, My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive around the same time. The alternating male and female vocals (by Ian Masters and Meriel Barham, respectively) and the clean, simple harmonies are a nice complement to the guitars, which nicely balance bombast and restraint. Its only musical weakness is a tendency to play things a little safe, and maybe being a song or two too long (in the way that a lot of 90s albums were, before producers figured out that not every CD has to be full).

However, the album does have one fatal flaw:

the cover

Vaughan Oliver, the usually brilliant designer behind longtime 4AD associates 23 Envelope, had a brief-lived obsession with guts and eyeballs around 1991. This cover, and the cover to the Pixies' Trompe le Monde, are among the unfortunate fruits of that preoccupation (the Tromp le Monde cover also features a violently busy design and some more or less pointless cartoons, and is probably my least favorite 23 Envelope design). I get that it matches the title of the album, the type treatment is beautiful, and there's a certain formal beauty to the bleached entrails and the pale blue background, but Vaughan, that shit is nast. For reals. It's this ghastly shadow that's always hovered over my fondness for the music within.