Friday, October 29, 2010
D.O.A. is not only Canada's most important punk band; they're also one of punk's most enduring bands, period. While many of the punk acts that emerged in the late '70s broke up in the '80s - that is, if they even stayed together until then -- D.O.A. was still going strong well into the '90s. Recorded at Club Soda in D.O.A.'s native Vancouver in 1989, Talk Minus Action Equals Zero is among the albums that demonstrate how exciting and vital the Canadians can be on-stage. The lineup on this CD consists of singer Joey "Shithead" Keithley, guitarist Chris "Humper" Prohom, bassist Brian Roy Goble, and drummer Jon Card. Together they prove quite riveting on such left-leaning, angrily socio-political rants as "Fuck You," "General Strike," "Liar for Hire," and "Race Riot." This performance was recorded 11 years after D.O.A.'s formation, and it's clear that the band softened their blow very little during those years.
D.O.A. - Talk Minus Action Equals Zero - Cassette tape on Restless Records
The most prolific of Rozz Williams' post-Christian Death side projects, Shadow Project also most closely resembled the work that made Williams a goth icon, though it incorporated bits of his punk, glam, and experimental influences to a slightly greater degree. Centered around Williams and his wife Eva O., Shadow Project grew to share some of the supporting personnel from the alternate version of Christian Death, which Williams revived concurrently beginning in the late '80s. After leaving the original Christian Death in 1985, Williams remained effectively silent for a couple of years, though he did perform occasionally in Premature Ejaculation. In 1987, he married Eva O. of the Superheroines, five years after she'd sung backup on the first Christian Death album. Together they founded Shadow Project, which was named after a peculiar effect of the nuclear detonation at Hiroshima (some people left shadows burned into the pavement, but no bodies). Shadow Project gave its first performance in San Francisco in 1987, but didn't really maintain much of a profile until Williams and O. returned to their native Los Angeles for good in 1990. Once there, they recruited keyboardist Paris, bassist Jill Emery (who'd played with O. in the Superheroines, and also worked with Hole and Mazzy Star), and drummer Tom Morgan (ex-Flesh Eaters). This lineup completed Shadow Project's self-titled debut album, which was released on Triple X in 1991. With Peter Tomlinson replacing Morgan, the group completed a follow-up, Dreams for the Dying, that became their best-known work when it appeared in 1992. The band's lineup subsequently became more fluid, as musicians working with Williams on other projects -- including guitarist William Faith, drummer Stevyn Grey, horn man Ace Farren Ford, and drummer Christian Omar Madrigal Izzo -- floated in and out. By 1993, Eva O. had decided to focus on solo material, and Williams was moving on to other concerns, so Shadow Project played a farewell show at (oddly enough) a Denny's restaurant in Orange County. It was later released as the live album In Tuned Out. Williams and O. divorced in the mid-'90s, as Williams' heroin addiction worsened, but remained friendly. Starting in 1997, they reunited for a mostly acoustic Shadow Project album, which also featured guitarist/producer Michael Ciravolo and keyboardist Nathan Van Hala. Sadly, Williams never lived to see it released; he hanged himself on April 1, 1998, after which the album appeared on Hollow's Hill under the title From the Heart.
Shadow Project - In Tuned Out Live 93 - Cassette tape on Triple X Records
Monday, October 25, 2010
During their early period with Roy Loney as lead singer, the Flamin' Groovies made one great album (Teenage Head), one very good one (Flamingo), and one that was flawed but enjoyable (Supersnazz). When Cyril Jordan took over as the band's unquestioned leader following Loney' s departure, the Groovies shifted gears from supercharged roots rock to neo-British Invasion pop, and while every record they released had more than a few brilliant moments, they seemed incapable of making an album that was solid from front to back. Thankfully, some bright penny at Sire Records got the idea of putting together a Flamin' Groovies compilation CD, and the result, Groovies' Greatest Grooves, makes a superb case for the inconsistent but undeniable brilliance of their post-Loney repertoire. Groovies' Greatest Grooves harvests pretty much every great track from the group's three albums for Sire (Shake Some Action, Flamin' Groovies Now!, and Jumpin' in the Night) and tosses in one superb cut with Loney (the masterful "Teenage Head"), two hard-to-find ravers with short-time vocalist Chris Wilson (including the much-covered "Slow Death"), and a rough but exciting demo of "River Deep, Mountain High" cut for a proposed collaboration with Phil Spector. While Jordan's edition of the Flamin' Groovies may not have rocked as hard as Loney's, that doesn't say that they couldn't rock hard when they wanted to, as "Jumpin' in the Night," "Tallahassee Lassie," and "Please Please Girl" easily prove, and "Shake Some Action," "You Tore Me Down," and "All I Wanted" are as transcendent as pop music gets. A satisfying 75 minutes of pure bliss, Groovies' Greatest Grooves is a one-stop shopping place for anyone wanting the cream of the Flamin' Groovies' faux-Brit era, and a fine introduction to one of the best American bands of the period.
The Flamin Groovies - Groovies Greatest Grooves - Cassette tape on Sire Records
Well, at least partially lost. Recorded at a time of much band turmoil (founding guitarist Chuck Carroll had left, though he plays on most of the album, and replacement Kurt Bloch had not quite fully integrated himself into the band yet, plus this was their first official release for Frontier Records after the L.A.-based label had reissued 1987's The Men Who Loved Music), Totally Lost is the sound of a band who isn't quite sure which of several directions they could travel. Most notably, the silliness of previous albums is almost totally absent; even drolly titled tunes like "I'd Say That You Were Upset" and "The Universal Trendsetter" have a more mature tone to them than before. In keeping with this newfound seriousness, the manic, almost-punky edge of earlier albums is missing, and some songs have hints of the more rootsy feel leader Scott McCaughey would soon take both in the late-period Young Fresh Fellows and his later project, the Minus 5. A transitional album, Totally Lost is the Fellows' weakest effort since their scattershot debut, but the increased sophistication both in McCaughey's songs and the band's tighter-than-ever playing makes it worthwhile.
Young Fresh Fellows - Totally Lost - Cassette tape on Frontier Records
Indie punk-popsters Bo Bud Greene were formed in Austin, Texas in 1992 as Paint; guitarist/vocalist Anderson Bracht and guitarist Sean Mullens met through a classified ad, and quickly added drummer Tim Dittmar. The group self-released a number of cassettes with several different bassists before legal action forced their name change in 1993. Marcara Fort became the full-time bassist shortly thereafter, and Bo Bud Greene began recording singles and compilation tracks to supplement their cassette-only work. After two singles on the Last Beat label, the group recorded its debut album, Whatever, in 1995 for Backyard Records. Several more compilation appearances preceded the band's full-length follow-up, The Same But Different, which appeared on Super Cottonmouth in 1997.
Bo Bud Greene - Las Olas - Indie CD on 4 Alarm Records
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The third album from what could be called the Mekons' "soused socialist hillbilly-punks from Leeds" period, 1987's Honky Tonkin' built on the country-influenced musical and lyrical themes of Fear and Whiskey and The Edge of the World, where the boozy ambience of classic Nashville sounds found a sympathetic ear among this pack of political and emotional underdogs. As a set of songs, Honky Tonkin' isn't quite up to the standards of the previous two albums, which creatively kick started the band after a period of inactivity, but as an album Honky Tonkin' is one of the band's best efforts. Touring and frequent visits to the recording studio had tightened up the Mekons' sound a bit ("tight" being a highly relative concept), and while it's many miles away from slick, the more full-bodied engineering and production on Honky Tonkin' was a decided improvement on the often hollow and slapdash recording of Fear and Whiskey. And given a sympathetic recording environment for a change, the Mekons truly delivered the goods; the rollicking sway of "Kidnapped" and "Keep Hoppin'" finds room for a boozy joy in an unfriendly world, while the bitterness and defeat of "Spit" and "I Can't Find My Money" put a sympathetic human face on this band's class-conscious rage. And while this album didn't contain the Mekons' first stab at the 19th century protest song "The Trimdon Grange Explosion," this version was a remarkable meeting of folk-rock's earnestness and punk's spitting wrath which ranks with the group's most powerful recorded moments. Just short of a masterpiece, and one of the high points of the Mekons' twangy period.
The Mekons - Honky Tonkin - Cassette tape on Twin Tone Records
German power metal band Grave Digger was formed in late 1980 by frontman Chris Boltendahl, guitarist Peter Masson, bassist Willi Lackmann and drummer Albert Eckardt. Debuting three years later on the Rock from Hell compilation, in 1984 Grave Digger returned with the full-length Heavy Metal Breakdown; after the following year's Witch Hunter, Lackmann left the lineup, and was replaced by bassist C.F. Brank for 1986's War Games. The group then shortened their name to simply Digger for 1987's Stronger than Ever, which saw guitarist Uwe Lulis substituting for Masson; Boltendahl then dissolved the project, finally reuniting with Lulis in 1991 and recruiting new bassist Tomi Gottlich and drummer Jörg Michael for The Reaper, credited once again to Grave Digger. Drummer Frank Ullrich replaced Michael for 1995's Heart of Darkness, with percussion duties handled by Stefan Arnold on Tunes of War; with the departure of Gottlich, Jens Becker assumed the bass for 1998's Knights of the Cross. Keyboardist H.P. Katzenburg expanded the Grave Digger lineup to a five-piece for Excalibur, issued a year later.
Grave Digger - Excalibur - German power metal CD on Nuclear Blast Records
The band initially released three studio albums in the 1980s. In 1981, after the band recorded a series of demos and released their first single "In Shreds", the late legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel featured The Chameleons on his radio program Peel Sessions (Many of these recordings were re-released years later, following the band's breakup. Several live albums and compilations were also released. Following the Peel Sessions, The Chameleons released their first full-length studio LP, the critically-acclaimed Script of the Bridge, on the Statik label in 1983. The album features a blend of rhythmic electric guitar textures, all of which provide a moody and intense backdrop for Mark Burgess' haunting vocals. After their third release, Strange Times, in 1987 they abruptly disbanded following the sudden death of band manager Tony Fletcher.
The Chameleons - The Fan And The Bellows : A Collection Of Classic Early Recordings - Vinyl Album
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Earlier recordings consisted of psychedelic-era cover songs, sound collages and originals in an abrasive and/or abstract, dense and sludgy experimental style with often punishing vocals by Magnuson on the songs "Frank" (a sardonic "tribute" to Frank Sinatra) and "Dazed and Chinese" (Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused", sung in Mandarin). which approach evolved into a more poppy, sexy approach which still retained an experimental edge as well as retaining the surreal and wicked, often self-deprecating wit which had distinguished the group's earlier releases. Lengthy sound collages would often terminate or begin the songs and without warning, a spoken word monologue might cut into the music.
Bongwater - The Power Of Pussy - Cassette tape on Shimmy Disc Records
Sacrifice... continues Greg Sage's transformation from a moderately hard-edged rocker to a pop crooner -- the album's compositions are entirely pop/rock, with an entirely friendly rustic/western shuffle to them. As with Sage's solo debut, however, the surprise is that this sound is smooth and pleasant, rather than sappy or watered-down -- these are the sorts of songs that probably could have conquered pop radio in the eighties, and Sage tosses them out unassumingly enough (and with enough slight modernities -- "Know by Now") that Sacrifice... seems less like a bad adult-contemporary album and more like a sweet pop runthrough.
Greg Sage Of The Wipers - Sacrifice For Love - Cassette tape on Restless Records
Originally going under the moniker Vaalkyrian, Andreas Stoltz (vocals/guitar) Thomas Nilsson (bass) and Urban Wikstrom (drums) eventually changed their name to Hollow upon the recruitment of second guitarist Marcus Bigren. Feeling that the name of their band perfectly fit the mood setting of their personalities and musical tone, Hollow released their debut album "Modern Cathedral" in 1998 with the accompaniment of progressive rock chords and a love for classic Rush and Queensryche.
Hollow - Architect Of The Mind - CD on Nuclear Blast Records
Monday, October 11, 2010
Lucinda Williams - The Nights Too Long - 7 inch vinyl with picture sleeve on Rough Trade Records
Lucinda Williams - The Nights Too Long - Seven Inch
Viennese producer DJ Elin recorded several records for Crammed and SSR in the late '90s as Auto Repeat. These productions, highlighted by the Unbearable Lightness of Autorepeating full-length in late 1999, were constructed with the aid of George, Elin's sampler. Elin's Auto Repeat tracks were remixed by such luminary figures as Carl Craig, DJ Sneak, and Paul Johnson
Auto Repeat - Unbearable Lightness Of Autorepeating - CD on SSR Records
The final release from Fudge Tunnel, Complicated Futility of Ignorance comes off like a modern, slightly mechanized Motörhead, comparable to late Prong perhaps, but more dynamic and without any of the industrial gimmicks. This record drips with the blood of calloused hands shredded in an attempt to extricate every ounce of heaviness from the many angular and distorted guitar riffs. Not one to ever hold back, guitarist/vocalist Alex Newport leads his band (that also includes David Riley on bass and Adrian Parkin on drums) through one relentless and violent metal groove-fest after another. The quality is consistant throughout this recording, but the doom-inflected "Six Eight" and the ruthless opener "Random Acts of Cruelty" are subtle standouts. Fans of sludgy, extreme metal not yet familiar with the influential Fudge Tunnel would do well to acquaint themselves with Complicated Futility of Ignorance, perhaps the best of this group's many fine offerings.
Fudge Tunnel - The Complicated Futility Of Ignorance - Cassette tape on Earache Records
For this EP, actually compiled from a somewhat scattered number of original singles, Godflesh tackled what the members saw as its inaccurate 䀘death metal' labeling head-on, explicitly embracing an electronic body music/industrial dancefloor approach. Some disgruntled fans even went so far as to call the collection techno, which isn't so surprising considering that the core rhythm sample of the brilliant title track is in fact taken from Stakker Humanoid's late eighties classic "Humanoid." The rampage of guitars and Broadrick's own way around singing and lyrics are still very much Godflesh in excelsis, though, as is the other, blunter drum machine burst which makes up the song. Two further versions of the song appeared on the EP as well, a wryly titled 䀘radio slave' edit that's actually even more on the edge, and the 䀘total state' mix, more a general exploration of the track instrumentally with different arrangements. Another number that appeared in multiple guises was "Perfect Skin," more in the vein of previous Godflesh songs but with an almost epic, airborne backing guitar arrangement nearly hidden by the crunching beats. Broadrick's own singing here is actually fairly restrained, while the 䀘dub' mix is much fiercer and unfriendlier, removing all singing and sounding very much like a mechanical musique concrete symphony plus guitars. Two other numbers surface without attendant mixes -- "Someone Somewhere Scorned," which has a notable electronic bass part breaking up the usual piledriving assault, and "Meltdown," a strong number that's the most reminiscent of the earlier band, though with a surprisingly lovely coda. The EP is rounded out by two further tracks from a separate single release, "Slateman/Wound '91." As might be guessed, the latter is another version of the Godflesh track, but "Slateman" is something else again, Broadrick's mournful, drawn-out singing infusing the music with a melancholy air.
Godflesh - Slavestate - Cassette tape on Earache Records
Saturday, October 2, 2010
With power and intensity to spare, post-punk hard rock trio Hammerhead could as easily have been called "Sledgehammer" (even if a heavy metal outfit from England hadn't beat them to it). Paul Sanders (vocals, guitar), Paul Erickson (vocals, bass), and Jeff Mooridian Jr. (drums) formed the group in Fargo, ND, around 1990, and moved to Minneapolis, MN, just a few years later. Amphetamine Reptile, which is also located in Minneapolis, released all of their recordings. The band has cited Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle as a guiding influence on their loud, dark, rhythmic approach. Others have compared them to everything from hardboiled pulp fiction authors Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, to brain-pounding noise rock units Unsane, Surgery, and Bastro.
Their vinyl debut was 1991's Peep picture disc single (featuring art by ex-Replacement Chris Mars). It was followed by 1992's Load King, a tour-only single issued on gray vinyl, and 1993's live Evil Twin, another tour-only single. Their first full-length was 1993's Ethereal Killer, recorded while they were still located in Fargo. Next came the Evil Twin EP, which featured the four songs from the previous 7", two from the picture disc, and a re-recorded version of "Load King" (and was originally issued as a yellow-vinyl 10"). They had relocated to Minneapolis by the time 1994's Into the Vortex hit the streets. It witnessed the trio moving their driving, minimalist sound in a more focused -- but no less uncompromising -- direction with lyrics taking on greater importance. The Taxi Driver influence was driven home by couplets like, "Someone should clean this dirty world/someone should save the pretty girls" ("All This Is Yours") and "The rain came down/blood soaked the streets" ("Brest"). Many fans -- and Hammerhead's fans only seem to have increased since they called it quits -- consider 1996's Duh, the Big City their crowning achievement. Unfortunately, it was to be their last full-length recording, and was followed by only one more release, the tour-only Earth (I Won't Miss) single. The beginning of the end had already arrived when Sanders left the group in 1995. Other guitarists were enlisted to take his place, but none quite stuck. He went on to form more RAM (which later disbanded), while Erickson (billed as Apollo Liftoff) and Mooridian Jr. formed Vaz
Hammerhead - Evil Twin - Cassette tape on Amphetamine Reptile Records
Edsel Auctioneer was a band formed in Leeds in 1988 by Ashley Horner (guitar/ vocals), Phil Pettler (bass/ vocals), Aidan Winterburn (vocals, guitar) and Chris Cooper (drums). They were named after the ill-fated Ford automobile whose front grille was supposed to have resembled a woman's pudenda. Best friends with Pale Saints, they lived on the same street in Leeds, Harold Avenue (which spawned the so-called Voice of the Harolds). In early '88 they recorded a number of songs for a small indie label in Glasgow (including Blind Hurricane) but this never got released. Instead the songs found their way to John Peel who described in Offbeat magazine the moment he heard the cassette he drove off the A12 to Suffolk in shock. Peel subsequently invited the band into Maida Vale to do a session. They recorded four songs ("Brickwall Dawn", "Blind Hurricane", "Between Two Crimes" and "Place In the Sun") and it was broadcast in late 1988 and again in 1989. On the back of this they signed to Decoy Records, a sub-division of Rhythm King records that also was the home of Mega City Four. They recorded their first single "Our New Skin/ Strung" in Camden with Iain Burgess (friend of Steve Albini) and followed this with an EP "Stickleback"/ "Bed, Table, Chair"/ "Necessary Disease" and "Unbroken Line". These first two releases were collected as a mini-album Voice of the Harolds. The music has often been classified as something like Dinosaur Jr, Hüsker Dü and My Bloody Valentine, although there were also traces of the Byrds, the Monkees and sixties garage bands as well as the Go-Betweens and the Pixies.
The Edsel Auctioneer - Simmer - CD on Shimmy Disc Records
Discography collecting all of XCHORUSX's recorded work. The lp, both seven inches, the demo and live comp track are all here. Hard as nails Southern California Straight Edge Hardcore. The militant edge is not a joke.
A Chorus Of Disapproval - Firm Standing Law - Cassette tape on New Age Records