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by Tony Rettman
Right now I get the feeling I’m staring into a endless mirage of blank faces. They are staring back at me blankly as if to say ‘Show us what you got, old man!’. Although I volunteered to do this column for the TB, I’m now wondering what the hell I was thinking. I got no idea what the fuck you guys listen to, eat, watch, etc. I scan the reviews section of TB and I feel like a Pat Boone fan watching poop porn. As far as my little world knows, the ‘weird punk’ phenom peaked awhile ago, didn’t it? Right now, all these limited 7"ers’ coming out are the equivalent of Hardball and Billingsgate records in the early 90's, right? Too little, too late, but it’s here and there’s nothing on the TV so I’ll just buy it and keep the circle a turnin’, right? Am I right on this? I’d like to think I’m not, but as I said above, I’m out of it. The idea of putting fingers to keys still makes me rigid and the idea of hipping you or you or you to some new, unfound sound or something or other still seems like an important thing to me. So, I thought I’d mix it up a little and just let it fly on what I dig in general. This time, it pretty much concentrates on sounds, but who knows about next time. Could be just about chowin’…could just be about DVD madness…who knows! If you wanna check any of this shit out with the possibility of digging it too, well right on and I hope you get some tiny tingle of worth out of whatever object or place mentioned. I just figure it’s the least we can do for each other, y’know?
If I’ve learned anything in the past few years of going to decent eating establishments, it’s knowing when to roll up my sleeves and when to don my suit jacket and pipe and act like I dunno all the answers to the Hardcore trivia page in Schism #6. When I step inside the Peekskill Brewery, I dunno what to do with my sleeves and it gets me all nervous, but once the grub and the brews come, I know exactly what to do (figure it out for yourself pinwad). This place has enough craft brews to choke Sauncho Smilax…and the grub...don’t get me started on the grub! I had the pork belly as a starter with an Ithaca Cascazilla (on draught, of course) and it was heaven in hush puppies. Perfect balance of fat and meat on the belly (just like yours truly) and the smoked lentils that accompanied it played well against the pork’s tangy, subtle sweetness. The Cascazilla was a great combo with the plate. Slightly citrus like but with a heavy vibe, this was the brew of choice for many nights afterwards. Thanks for the recommendation there Mr. Beer Steward that looked like an ex-member of a 90's NYHC band! If you ever find yourself up in this neck of the woods with a night to kill, you’d be a bonafide stupe not to check it out. It’s easy on the wallet and heavy in the gut. With that, I’ll end this one off with ‘Edition of 300 with handmade covers. Highly recommended’.
...And speaking of NYHC, (oh how I love the column format, segways are as easy as a Real Estate beat down!) someone over there in pizza land has done up a real swank book of early 80's NYHC ephemera named ‘No One Rules’. I’m guessing since no one’s name is tacked onto this, it’s some sorta ‘grey area’ publication...who knows. Nonetheless, it’s chock fulla flyers, ‘zine excerpts, lyric sheets, etc. from the pre-Youth Crew sweep of the Lower East Side. The whole thought of that original NYHC thing is sort of a mindfuck when you (uh...) think about it. In other parts of the country at the time, kids were printing up ‘zines, putting out records, and the whole shebang while these dudes who were in the cradle of culture were lucky to find a copy machine...and have the nickel to make one flyer...AND know how to work the machine! I think this book tries to tackle that idea in it‘s format and choice of visuals. Jump on it quick as it’s more than likely gonna go quick like.
Todd over at the Olde English Spelling Bee label was kind enough to send a bulging satchel of sounds for consideration. My faves outta the lot revolve around that oddball duo outta Iowa named Pussygutt.
Last year or so they put out a collabo double LP with Story of Rats on Olde English Spelling Bee that was this total journey of sound and sight (quite a swank gatefold cover!) done up in a very gorgeous and homespun way.
I suppose if I was a real music critic (I’m not, am I? Please tell me I’m not…) I could throw around the ‘doom’ tag for this stuff but - quite frankly - I don’t know what the fuck that means and I really don’t wanna know, thank ya very much. All I know is this guy and gal got a shockingly tight grasp on simple, effective sounds that are heavy in both the sonic and emotional definition of the word. This new LP Todd has done up for them entitled ‘Gathering Strengths’ blows the corn outta their previous efforts by miles. The A side is a disturbingly relaxing weave of field recordings, jingle jangling cymbals, soaring violin and deep jawed drone that sounds like the soundtrack to a late night woodland chomp fest on dried leaves and rancid olives. The B side is the corker of the two with a ’Venus in Furs’-like monoto-beat holding the pulse down while strings and ’lectronics gently flow and wrap around one another like so many garden snakes in the backyard of your mind. Can you picture Lope going down the Amazon?
Yeah…me too. Make no mistake, there’s nothing shambling, fumbling or consciously ragtag about these two.
They can play their asses off and it seems no expense has been spared on the audio side of this thing. Wrap it up in a exquisite cover that looks like it should belong to something that came out on Holyground, and you’ve got a winner, Jackson!
If that ain’t enough, it seems Pussygutt have started up their own label called Wolveserpent to put shit out on. The first thing outta the gate is a solo project from the male side of the duo entitled Alter and it’s the stellar wham-bam I knew it was as soon as I saw the eye bulging beauty of it’s cover. Much like the afore mentioned P-Gutt LP, this is a strangely holistic listen of wonderfully orchestrated keys, brown sound guitar, soaring vox, etc. that brings the whole idea of music as a healing force into intense perspective. Can you dig that or is too ‘hippy’ for you, ya girl jean wearing cool guy? Todd is running a helluva deal over there in his OESB webstore where you can get the double P-Gutt LP, the newest one and the Alter LP for 45 bucks plus shipping. How can you resist?
Although I’m sure much Jergens has already been juiced about this double Grong Grong retrospective CD on Memorandum by someone here on the TB site, I’m still gonna go on about it…just ‘cause I can I guess. Anyone I ever played the initial Grong Grong 12” on Alternative Tentacles for says the same thing within the first thirty seconds, "These guys just sound like The Birthday Party!" It’s usually about a minute or two after their comment that they feel like a hefty bag fulla duh. Although GG might of had the same (uh…) components as that band, it’s clear from the honest squall they made that these guys were the real deal in being utter dirt bags of the filthiest order. To sum up the whole vibe of the band as eloquently as my brother did when he hipped me to the disc all those years ago, "It’s like The Birthday Party if they were retards!" This set puts the whole GG thing into more perspective than I could ever imagine. You get the initial 12” (with the GREATEST cover of "Lookin’ At You" ever laid to wax) A slew more of ruff sounding live stuff, liner notes and photos out the bunger, and a bonus DVD of live footage that had me staring at the screen in disbelief; was I really witnessing this? Did I just see a coffin wheeled on stage by a buncha Exploited look-a-likes? Did someone wearing a ski mask and a cowboy hat just pop out of that thing? Are those dancing girls? If you want answers to these and other questions, buy this thing and have your dome blown.
I pledged to myself I would never own a record on the Captured Tracks label, but here came this Teenage Panzerkorps single staring me in the eye all seductive like. What was I to do? I’ve been a sucker for these guys since way back, so I had no choice. As expected, it’s more of the great same from these guys with their Germanic singer bellowing out orders like he’s a ticket taker on the Long Island Railroad while the rest of the band conjure up a gritty sound that would have had Tony Wilson pumping away wildly outside their basement. Where it’ll go from here, who knows. All I know is if the next one comes out on Woodsist, I’m boycotting!
I was a little skeptical of that first Obliteration single that came out awhile back. Although the sound of it was potent enough, there was something a bit too ‘Collectorcore’ about it. It was obvious these dudes had sat around and listened to alotta bands that end their name with ‘U.K.’ and bands from foreign countries that had 37 consonants in their name, and there’s nothing bad about that act at all…it’s just…I don’t know…something about it stuck in my craw. This second 7” of theirs (‘This is Tomorrow’) continues on from the first one, but this one sounds way more legit to me for some reason or another. If you like your ‘core with echoed-out vocals, distorted bass, etc. (and who doesn’t?) than this little disc might be the one for you. If these guys ever do up a 12”, they better do it in those flimsy covers that the No Future and Clay did theirs in. If not, all I gotta say is ‘Pffffffffff’.
…And if I may dip into the realm of underground weirdo crap again…I gotta say this split LP of the solo projects between the two dudes who make up the duo of Mouthus is a more than pleasant slab of sound that might surprise the person who would expect it to sound like the roar of a rusted out robot taking a sand caked pooh. Drummer Nate Nelson’s side (under the moniker of Afternoon Penis) is an elongated take on Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" that I’ve listened to more than a few times and faded into a memory that happened at my local mall when I was a kid. I was walking by the music store while some salesman was trying to sell some family on getting some new fangled Casio-like keyboard with all the bells and whistles. When the guy fired the thing up and started to demonstrate the drumbeats stored on there, it made these wonderfully heinous thuds like it might have been low on battery juice. Now…if the guy started the ‘accordian’ setting on the thing and whined over it, it would of sounded like this. By the by, that’s one heck of a compliment! The Eskimo King side (guitarist Brian Sullivans’ solo name) is broken into three tracks. The first sounds like an underwater take on Jon Andersons’ ‘Olias of Sunhillow’ side, the second is a very true to form Black Sabbath cover where Sullivan shrails like a mother bitch and the third track does sorta sound like a Mouthus track with it’s repeating fuzz of veiled beauty as seen through vacuum lint and weed ash.
I know all you hip, young things know about Crushed Butler and writing about this 'Uncrushed’ 12” that your buddy more than likely put out is gonna bore you to tears…but...HEY…not to drop names, but I just hipped the almighty Tesco Vee to these guys awhile back and he had no idea who the fugg these clowns were in his eons of collecting obscure, heavy sounds. So…if the mighty Vee could go years without hearing these limeys, ANYONE COULD… Anywho, for those of you in the "not knowing" category, the recordings of some unknown UK power trio going by the name Crushed Butler surfaced in the early 90’s on a 10” that blew out the door before I had the chance to get one. I managed to score a tape of it from a pal o’ mine a few years later and was immediately knocked out. The dudes’ voice definitely had an Ozzy bend to it but the music was of a superior duntness ala Edgar Broughton or Stackwaddy. Then I heard there was some sorta connection between these guys and mid - seventies pub rockers Hammersmith Gorillas and was even more stunned. The recordings eventually popped up again on CD from RPM awhile back and now we got a nice, crisp vinyl version of these tracks courtesy of the Radio Heartbeat folks. All the tracks on here are of a timeless nature in being just pure, simple and heavy as a two ton turd. The liner notes that accompany this by Crushed Butler drummer Darryl Reed are exhaustive, amusing and totally over the top. It’s nice to finally have these tracks on vinyl. Blast "Love is All Around Me" at top volume and feel the strength. When the lady comes home and axes what the crap is going on, just utter "The Butler did it!". I know, that shit was corny as hell…but I couldn’t resist!
Alright, that’s gotta be enough for now…I’d like to keep this column a regular thing as best as I can, so if you’ve got anything you want covered here, get in touch via TB or direct via trettman-at-hotmail-dotcom and we’ll make the necessary arrangements. Until then…
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