Columns - "Mindless Contentment" 02.01.03

            Nothing really special going on this month, so I’m just gonna spout some reviews at you and be done. Let me just say, I have a very good feeling about 2003 so far. Sure, civilization might end, but I think this is going to be a great one for music. I’ve already seen some great live shows, and there’s a lot more lined up. Plus, there are tons of upcoming releases to get excited about. Stay tuned, things are going to be getting real good real soon.

            Haven’t received too much so far this year, but the best thing I’ve got in the mail this month is from a band called The Lids, from Atlanta, GA. Atlanta seems to be back on the map, with The Carbonas putting out a decent album last year, and The Black Lips poised to release the best non-reissue record Greg Shaw has put out in perhaps a decade. The Lids round out this trio, and I like ‘em a lot. Reminds of a first-wave Rip Off band somewhat, I think Underground Medicine compared them to The Spastics and/or The Spoiled Brats. I’d agree. Guy/bratty girl vocals over some simple lo-fi garage-punk. Three tracks, with “Something to Do” being the immediate hit, and the two A-Side tracks aren’t far behind. I’ve been spinning it daily since I got it, and I want to hear more. Nice no-budget packaging compliments the music well, and it’s limited to 400 copies, so act fast. Check it out on Die Slaughterhaus Records, the Black Lips label(?). My guaranteed pick of the month.

            My fellow Buffalonians the Blowtops have a new single out on Chris X’s Reptilian Records, a label that gets little attention, but puts out some good noise/punk stuff. And this is definitely noise. The A-Side is a killer, with “Surgeon’s Hands” being one of my favorite Blowtops attacks in awhile. A very noisy, almost metal sounding behemoth that goes for the throat right out of the gate. They follow this with a punishing cover of Big Black’s “Deep Six”, showing that they really always have had their influences more firmly planted in early-Nineties noise than garage rock. Guitar mangler Aaron does have the graphic from “Hammer Party” on the back of his leather jacket after all. B-Side is “New Orleans Death Waltz”, a dirgey little number that might actually be in waltz time, but I might be making that up. It’s on red vinyl, and plays at 33rpm on one side and 45rpm on the other, and it actually works! Recorded by Buffalo public access TV legend and frequent Roctober Magazine contributor Mr. Ski-Mask. The Blowtops also have a batch of tracks in the can that they recorded at Tronic Graveyard with Jay and Alicja, so you have that to look forward to as well. Those crazy Europeans are gonna eat this shit up.

            Speaking of Jay and Alicja, check out the Mouserocket “Water Recordings” CD-R, available through the Contaminated Records website in a limited edition. I don’t know if there are any more left, but it can’t hurt to ask. Mouserocket is Alicja with various other Memphis players, including sometime Lost Sound Jonathan Kirkscey on cello. Fifteen tracks, 3 or 4 of which are instrumentals, with covers of “Alone Again Or” and “Little Black Egg” thrown in. They sound a lot like the Lost Sounds, yet not as abrasive; most of the songs are sung instead of screamed, with Alicja handling just about all of the vocal chores. Some of the songs could pass as Lost Sounds tracks, and some of them even have a Sonic Youth kind of dynamic going on. It’s atmospheric at times, yet rocks often enough to make it a pleasant experience. With The Fitts, Bad Times, Mouserocket, Final Solutions, and whatever other bands the Jay and Alicja are in, it’s amazing how prolific they are, and even more amazing that none of it is crap. I’m constantly impressed, and that’s pretty rare these days. Also, Lost Sounds played here a couple weeks ago, and firmly cemented their reputation as the best live unit in existence these days. Not that I needed much convincing, but they might have even gotten better since last time I saw them. The set was mostly “Rat’s Brains…” tracks and they even pulled off “Frozen in Time”, which impressed me a great deal. See them live, no matter how far the drive, and look for the Demos & Outtakes Vol. 2 CD on On/On Switch soon.

            You know I can’t go a month without talking about at least one Japanese band, so this month we have the Intimate Fags. Although they have one of the best band names ever (and two of the guys were also in the brilliantly named Cockscratch), they haven’t gone over so well with a lot of people. Their singles on Rip Off and Freaked Out Frequencies are outstanding, and their LP, although under whelming, was certainly good. Sometime last year the released another single, the “No Joke” EP, on new British label Suburban Disturbance which I just got around to getting. It’s shit. It’s another of those records that plays at 45 on one side, and 33 on the other, and this one sounds like crap. I don’t know if there was a mishap at the pressing plant, but it sounds like the band is playing through sludge. Sadly, I don’t think it’s an accident; the Fags also seem to be favoring the compressed sound that has also turned the Registrators to shit. Not even a cover of “Little Girl”, really cool sleeve design/artwork, or a complimentary 1” button can save this one from sinking. Three tracks that suck, which is disappointing because I really like this band. Buy some First Alert records instead.

            Neon King Kong’s last gasp has been posthumously released by Vinyl Dog Records, and it’s fucking great. Two tracks, “Get What’s Going Around” b/w “There’s a Party”, that make me think this band would have been better than Le Shok. Typically good in-yer-face herk and jerk post-punk racket. Also, really nice screen printed art right on the inner-sleeve. There’s a limited color edition too, with a different color sleeve, if that makes any difference. I wish there was more by these guys, and listening to this lately has made me go back and re-appreciate last years single on GSL. I can’t even keep track of what happened to the Le Shok guys, but some are in a band called the T-Cells who have a 10” out on Smash 101 Records which I will report on next month. There’s also a live Neon King Kong bootleg floating around if you look closely enough.

            I was going to talk about The Stitches new album, “Twelve Imaginary Inches”, but some things are better left unsaid. That’s all for now.
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© 2003