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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Volcanic Tongue write ups

Lower Plenty Hard Rubbish Easter Bilby EB-001 LP Beautiful LP from this Australian group that features members of UV Race, Total Control , Deaf Wish and The Focus. This is frail, deeply atmospheric downer folk/country with a nod towards Brian Crook’s Renderers via boy/girl vocals that come across like the swooning Jandek/Nancy duets or even Pip Proud-does-Leonard Cohen. The music has a fried rural quality that situates it somewhere between MV & EE’s Barn Nova, the whole Terry/Jim Collins cultus and US Saucer but with that ineffable Australian underground pop sensibility giving it a timeless pop appeal. Some of the weirder tracks have a similar awkward narrative style to the Kiwi Animal while the female vocal material conjures the faraway ghost of The Marine Girls and Tracey Thorn’s 1982 DIY classic A Distant Shore LP. Another stunning set from Australia that works to restore your faith in the ability of ‘simple’ ‘songs’ to break your goddamn heart every time. This one gets to me as much as the first Beat Happening album and I can’t think of higher praise than that.

 Ragtime Frank The Truth Negative Guest List NGL-031 LP “Pre-War Blues + Avant-Noise = Rock N Roll” reads the equation on the sleeve and it’s the perfect description of the sonics within, a Wildman amalgam of crude country blues, brokedown swing and post-Velvets free rock. Imagine Hasil Adkins and The Cramps cutting a ‘real people’ record with a buncha Nicodemus’s no-count biker mates as a backing band and with a vision of the future where the concept of established technique runs counter to the revolutionary demands of rock/roll and a vocalist who testifies like a black preacher on the make and you’re somewhere close to the liberated appeal of this crucial side. Guitarist, harpist and vocalist Ragtime Frank alongside percussionist Leighton Craig are/were members of legendary Australian underground group The Lost Domain and this feels like a stripped down glimpse of the mutant DNA that makes the mothership such a beautifully confusing spectacle. If your listening tastes run towards Dock Boggs as much as Rudolph Grey – and what are you doing reading VT if they ain’t? – then this is the sucker for you. Comes packaged in classy paste-on bootleg-style sleeves in an edition of only 100 copies, instantly sold out from the label, highly recommended.

 Sky Needle Rave Cave Negative Guest List NGL-029 Lp The first couple of broadcasts from this amazing group from Brisbane Australia were some of the most defiantly original sides of outsider rock/pop to reach these ears in many, many years so it was with some excitement that we unpacked this one, the debut full-length from Joel Stern, Sarah Byrne, Alex Cuffe and Ross Manning playing all their own invented instruments. The feel is still of a fantasy Godz-play-Moondog session but given the space to really stretch out the group reveal themselves as equally proficient in radical free improvisation. Byrne’s vocals are particularly boggling, ululating all over the honking, scraping, huffing rhythms and melodies with an elastic a-formal approach that has few parallels but that orbits a similar universe to Meredith Monk and Amy Sheffer. The group’s tonal palette is truly singular odd, with brokedown rhythms illuminated by percussive tones and sawing folk drones in a way that sounds like Tago Mago played with nothing but Harry Bertoia’s sound sculptures. Indeed, their evisceration of song is every bit as far-reaching as Damo-era Can, building to peaks of nowhere with a hands-on tactile feel that is supremely satisfying while Byrne works mysterious/evocative tongues around every starry shape. This is atavistic folk music w/a heady hobbyist edge and the kinda sublimely out atmosphere that says ESP-Disk like nothing else. If the newly activated ESP really had an ear to the underground then they would have snapped this group up: Rave Cave is easily the equal of any of the original label’s wildest avant/rock releases. Right now Sky Needle are one of the most radically original and self-sufficient performance units in the world and this is one of the most beautifully skewed releases of the year. Truly, you never heard such sounds. Simply can’t recommend this enough.

Hammering The Cramps s/t Wormwood Grasshopper Records WG-02 LP Totally fantastic archival unearthing documenting this pre-Drunk Elk project from Hobart, Tasmania. The sound is classic edge-of-the-world hypnotically degraded avant lurch, with the kinda grasp of extended rock tongue that defined the more damaged group sounds coming out of the Xpressway stable but with an emphatically powerful grasp of massed No Wave guitar movements and the kinda higher-mind feel for tortuously beautiful melodies of This Kind Of Punishment. But it’s the walls of endless strung-out guitars that really seal the deal with a euphoric repeating aspect that comes over like a Valkyrie Dead C or The Clean play Glenn Branca topped off with classic wasted/desperate vocals. Hard to believe they kept themselves a secret for so long but this is fantastic. Edition of 300 copies. Highly recommended!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

first proper lower plenty review

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

some new reviews from yellow green red

Drunk Elk Under Neon Lights LP (Wormwood Grasshopper)
Nice full-length outing for Drunk Elk, perhaps the loneliest-sounding band out there today. They’re from Tasmania, which has got to be pretty isolating as is, but these songs really do sound like they were recorded a million miles away, off on some small tuft of land with nary a shopping center or coffee shop. I dug their 7″, but Under Neon Lights is even better, borrowing “I Want To Be Your Pet” off the single along with seven new ones, all incredibly delicate, strangely beautiful and occasionally unnerving. It’s kind of as if Pink Reason met up with The American Analog Set in an awkward first date – there’s angst and pain behind the sweetness. It’s almost kinda “emo”, too, although they clearly have a much closer geographical distance to the Xpressway label than they do to Bright Eyes or Indian Summer. Makes for great nighttime listening, particularly after enduring a stressful day… Drunk Elk are built for commiseration.

Mad Nanna If I Don’t Sleep Tonight 7″ (Wormwood Grasshopper)
More Mad Nanna, this time brought to us by the fine folks at Wormwood Grasshopper Records. “If I Don’t Sleep Tonight” might be my favorite Mad Nanna track thus far – the main guy repeats the title and is all thumbs on the guitar while some other band member recreates the sounds my stomach makes when I’m having trouble sleeping at night. Although it’s constantly on the verge of devolving into a Menstruation Sisters-style compost heap, Mad Nanna always hold the song together by one thin hair, capped off by a celebratory whooping of the crowd (looks like this was a live cut). The ostensibly untitled b-side is less to my liking – sounds like the group pared down to an acoustic guitar duo, strumming their basic chords like they just missed the bus and had an unexpected three hours to kill. Had I heard this track first, I may very well have never ventured further into the world of Mad Nanna, so thank God that’s not the case. On the strength of the a-side, and with acknowledgement of the b-side’s subtle charm, this one’s worth keeping too.

Stag Get Used To It 7″ (Disembraining Machine)
Imagine if Carcass used cookbooks instead of medical journals for their Reek Of Putrefaction cover collage – that’s what you get with Stag’s Get Used To It 7″. I could’ve gone for some gastronomy-based death metal, but Stag’s sound is equally cool – danceable, early-’00s post-punk that sounds like the best parts of Hot Hot Heat and Sleater Kinney collaged together in an attempt to resemble Kleenex. Powerful, pep-rally vocals lead disco-drum beats and needle-y guitars to a pretty nice result. Not sure if everyone is ready for “indie dance parties” all over again (we’re all too busy getting our “goth nights” started), but Stag make a pretty good case why certain styles will always work when performed by a select few. Don’t worry, Stag – I’m used to it, and I dig it.

Terrible Truths Terrible Truths 7″ (Small Town City Living)
Terrific post-punk from Terrible Truths, yet another cool new Aussie group. Four songs here, but I could go for an album right off the bat – they’ve got a vibe similar in spirit to The Slits and The Raincoats, but Terrible Truths seem a bit more subdued, like they probably don’t jump around on stage and wouldn’t be out of place opening for The xx. Kinda funky, but just because the bass lines are so moist and thick… it makes for pretty much the only funkiness I would want out of my post-punk. The two singers seem to sing most of the lyrics at the exact same time, and it really sounds great that way. I don’t know, Terrible Truths are doing a pretty specific thing, but they seem to have gotten it perfectly right, straight out of the gate. Did a little Googling, and apparently Bedroom Suck will be next to bring us some new Terrible Truths… I can’t wait.