Monday, July 21, 2014

Looks Like Miaou-Handbrake CS (Bon Voyage Rex, 2014)

Many of my American friends who have never been to Europe think of one thing when said Continent comes to mind: electronic music. Some of you (myself included, at one point) might view this as a gross reduction and misunderstanding of a place old in history, culture, language, blahblahblah.

But there is a nugget of truth to it. For the past century, Europe has been confronting its own decline, rather obsessively, in a myriad of ways. These run the full gamut from extreme right-wing nastiness to the beauty of Walter Benjamin's prose, or Dadaist perversity for perversity's sake. I submit that Europeans' love of electronic music is, simply, another mode of grappling with this terminal decline. For what better way to deal with one's obsolescence (in the Hegelian, big-H-History sense of "obsolescence") than with loud, mindless, bass-heavy dancing?

I would submit that mannered yet excruciating noise is an equally good way of responding to said obsolescence. And Brussels' Looks Like Miaou dishes out early Sonic Youth-style noise in spades. They've got everything: Kim Gordon-esque hollering, stray trumpet notes, a desultory rhythm section, and plenty of subdued guitar squall. The band is part of a burgeoning noise scene in the EU's capital, along with the other acts on Tendresse Records. Take a walk through hollow, cacophonous soundscapes of your own neuroses with LLM. Their harsh clangor points straight at the profound squalor at the heart of the European Union's dream of nihilistic affluence and cultural superiority stuck in apparently permanent decline.

If all of the abovesaid is too sophisticated a description for you, dear readers, just know this: LLM's cassette is a good soundtrack to sweating out late July in a fetid, filthy apartment, guzzling cheap beer and waiting to go home not 'cause you like home all that much, in fact, but 'cause your Safe European Home isn't really home. But what's home, anyway? Nothing, really, except austerity and  refugees turning up dead on the European side of the Mediterranean, that's what.

Anyway, check out Looks Like Miaou, and get the cassette, HERE!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cum Stain-s/t CS (2013[?])


Even by my standards, Cum Stain is pretty crude stuff. These guys (one guy?) channel the puerile antics of Tesco Vee through the charming sonorities of SoCal beach rock, and the result is something like a 14-year-old loser masturbating to pictures of Britney Spears while a Dead Boys live EP blares in the background and his mom bangs on his door, telling him to stop hurting her. Juvenile onanism is just as old as rock, though, so it ain't as pathetic as it sounds. Indeed, some might argue that excessive penile fixation is the very essence of the genre. Throw on “Rocket 88” by Ike Turner (he of the Tina-Turner-battering fame), and it’s the same sentiment, but a bit cockier): Some dude really needs to get laid and feels an all-encompassing need to explain this fact to the listener, since he ain’t, in fact, gonna get laid.



But it’s been a long time since “Rocket 88” dropped, and since then we’ve come a long way [pun intended]. Whereas allusion and allegory were all the rage in sex rock from the 1950s, Cum Stain goes for the sort of graphic, in-your-face, no-imagination-needed imagery of our age of internet porn and sexting: “I don’t wanna love you/I just wanna fuck you/I’m just another cum stain on your rug.” It just goes on like this, through sub-Ramones slop with titles like “Broke my Dick,” “SuckHer4U,” and “Bachelor’s Life.” “No Hearts!!!” speeds it up a bit with cymbal crashes and frenzied (guitar) stroking, veering between hardcore breakdowns and ’77 punk headbangerisms. At some point there’s even a dialogue sample from what I’m guessing is a porn flick. Nice.



This has been a pretty snide review, but I can’t besmirch Cum Stain too much. The music’s halfway-tuneful beach punk, and CS is only as wretched as BrainBombs, whom I love. In fact, CS is a lot more innocent than the ‘Bombs, since this guy’s only singing about his weiner, not murder and snuff films. Cum Stain takes a certain current present most American music (i.e., horny-boy-alone-with-a-guitar) and runs out of the ballpark with it. The singer also sorta sounds like Hunx from Hunx & His Punx, except resolutely, passionately hetero. If this is your cup of tea, get over to the porn store and check out Cum Stain.

You can download the tape here. The cassette itself seems to be out of print, but you should go to Burger Records (i.e., the above-mentioned porn store and get CS' other stuff. It's orgasmic, lemme tell ya.).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

McBain-s/t EP (2014)

McBain's debut EP is as sweet as the candy that rotted out your teeth (like the tooth on the cover). Just when you think the band is going to descend into the standard hardcore speedslop, they jerk to a stop. Full stop. This is the sorta music best experienced in someone's crowded, filthy garage or basement on a hot summer night, half-delirious from heat exhaustion yet still guzzling Labatt's or some other Canadian pissbrew.

"I'm Exhaustion," opening with growled vocals worthy of the dood from Scratch Acid, exemplifies the McBain sound: as the guitar meanders through a postpunk number, the drums counterpoint the singer. Of course you can't understand anything he's singing about, but "whiskey" does get repeated a lot. One can imagine the song was written after drinking a lot of it, but the boys kept it together to throw in coherent choruses. Just when you think it's over, minor notes lurch into more frenetic, seething tension.

The drums win the fight on "Cooking with Feelings"; I haven't heard punk drumming this good since the days of Giant Haystacks. My guess is that "I Survived the Moe Earthquake" is a reference to a Simpsons episode I never saw, and Moe might indeed throw this one on to drive Barney Gumble outta the bar at 3 AM. It's that good!

At the end of the day, Mcbain is a punk band that's a little too clever to play retreaded retard rock with a mohawk cresting over the din. These Aussies is so nice, you can download the EP for free, here!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trobecove Krušne Peći-S Mukom Žvaču Trubadurov Vrat LP (Doomtown, 2014)

You have to love a band that includes aquarium ambience on the first track. From what I understand, Zagreb's  Trobecove Krušne Peći (TKP) were a seminal part of the former Yugoslavia's underground scene in the early '80s. They never released a full record, so Doomtown has collected their recorded output for a latter-day artifact from the days of samizdat culture. 

This is taut, hop-along-jerk-along postpunk akin to [insert here the names of all the bands you're waiting for me to reference]. Like a lot of the European post-punk of the period, it sounds like dub with all the rhythm flattened out and compressed into a tin box: what comes through is the anxiety and brooding, with none of the expansiveness. That's not a criticism-most of the best post-punk worked in that manner. "Zvijezda" is, for my money, the best song here: it stutters along in an offkilter, stumblebum way, with bass and scratchy guitar notes merging with what sounds like seagull noises. "Boje Noć U Krv" could be a Brainbombs tune, stripped of the squalling dissonance-it's built around a lone horn twiling away as the singer intones about, well, something. In a bark that reminds me of the Brainbombs' singer. 

My guess is that one misses a lot by not understanding Croat (I don't), but the music is top-notch, neurotic Iron Curtain punk from the dying days of Tito's "Real Existing Socialism." You keep waiting for the explosion, and it never comes-history would take care of that a little later, of course. 

You can check out TKP here.  Doomtown has released this on a double LP with a fancy insert detailing the history of the band. If you're a geek for all things '80s and all things post-punk, as I am, you should probably get your ass over to Doomtown's site and BUY IT IF YOU LIKE IT!

 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Отстой- Сахара EP (2014)

So what if this thing came out back in April, Petrograd's Otstoy is a great summer soundtrack. Snide, off-the-cuff-'cause-who's-really-listening vocals, all the tone the Russian steppes can offer, and a drumbeat so basic it might just be someone tapping their foot against a tin can. That's it.

And man, is the one (ok, maybe 2) note guitar solo on the first song majestic! Majestic in the way you'd expect from a band that probably consists of one dude chainsmoking and sippin' on potato-mash vodka in the studio and bangin' out whatever comes to mind. The second song's even better. By song three you've probably moved onto your 5th beer of the night, so you won't remember it, but it's good too.

Go swimming, go drinking, go listen to Otstoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

бичкрафт- маскот LP (2014)

Grinding, excruciating noise rock will always get a fair hearing in these parts, and Kiev's бичкрафт passes muster. Wave upon wave of plodding, catharsis-denying feedback and clanging cymbals usher you into this echo chamber of squall.

Track two, "кроссовки," lightens it up a bit with resolutely, passionately meandering feedback, again. I could probably go on for a few more paragraphs wherein I try to extrapolate upon the subtleties and nuances of this slab of drone rock from the Ukrainian steppelands, but you probably get the idea. There's a weird pseudo-techno segment tossed in just to confuddle you. This probably isn't anyone's daily soundtrack, but it certainly does surprise. Proving once again that rock is probably the most versatile genre of music known to humankind, including classical, because it's amazing how much variation can be packed into mutilated, butchered and necromanced blues chords. Especially when you've got synthesizers and a shitload of drugs to help you out on said quest. Hell, this LP runs the gamut from electronica to metal and back without ever, i think, changing key.

All of that makes the LP out to just be a pretentious heap of clever showmanship, but it's pretty fun, like guzzling tallboys of bad German beer (i.e., all German beer) on a hot summer night's fun. That sorta fun. FUN.

Check out this hellacious squall HERE!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

1984-"Barranco" video (or, fuck the World Cup)

Everyone's going ga-ga over the World Cup currently, so 1984's debut EP is timely. Some of you may be following the on-going protests against World Cup spending in several Brazilian cities. If not, the basic point is that it's criminal to piss away millions of dollars/pesos/reales/whatever on a tourist circle jerk when millions of your citizens are living in desperate poverty. If you want a reminder of how little the money wasted on mass sporting events does for the cities concerned, take a stroll around the 2004 Olympics buildings in Athens, Greece.

In any case, 1984's "Barranco" is a savage bit of basic, direct hardcore. They sorta sound like Los Crudos, but with something approaching production (gasp!). The video intersperses footage of the band with shots from their hometown, showing some of the squalor that billions of people worldwide live in every day. I like football as much as the next person, but 1984's video is a timely reminder of what daily life is like in Brazil, and what it will probably continue to be like long after the 2014 Cup is over. Fuck JLo, check this out.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Milk Music-Beyond Living EP (2011)


So awhile ago two guys were sitting on some couch in Olympia, Washington. Neither of them had a job. But you don’t need a job when you can sell loosie tall boys of Olympia out of a shopping cart on the street, right? Right. And anyway, weed had just been legalized in California so they were enjoying the toasty vibes from south of the border and couldn’t believe how sweet it is to be at Evergreen College and gettin’ stoned and blasting Sabbath Vol. 4 on the MP3 player Dude 1 got from his big sister a few months ago. She had moved out of the house to drop acid and follow Phish’s reunion tour and said that he could have all of her material possessions (these mostly consisted of said MP3 player, a battered-but-serviceable hip flask, and something she had bought from some drug dealer in high school, thinking it was a book about Tibetan Buddhism but in fact turned out to be a ruined copy of Athanasius’ Life of St. Anthony). Anyway.

 Then some other dude came over with a vinyl record. These two dudes on the couch didn’t know that they still made vinyl, so they were pretty stoked. Suffice to say, Sabbath Vol. 4 was toasty fucking vibes, upon first listening, bro. A few songs into Vol. 4, dude Number One said, “hey bros, why don’t we start a band? I’ll bet these dudes in Sabbath get all the free herbs they want.” Dude two happened to be from British Columbia so he was like “yeah that’d be pretty cool eh, I just need to drink like 20 more Labatts and I’m as good as fucking Mo Tucker ever was, eh?” Dude Number Three, who had brought over that original vinyl copy of Vol. 4, then produced another hat trick: he had A SECOND VINYL RECORD! HOLY FUCK!  For the sake of conversation let’s say it was Dinosaur Jr.’s You’re Living All Over me. Dude Number Three was like “yeah dudes I can totally play a mean bass lick, sure I stole it from fuckin’ Glenn Matlock but if you crank the treble all the way past 10, it sounds like a Chuck Dukowski riff anyways!”

These three dudes were STOKED. Soon they figured out 3 chords and pretty soon after that they managed to scrounge a SuperFuzzBigMuff pedal or 4 from a local pawn shop. In fact I think I saw the bassist from Mudhoney selling his SuperFuzzBigMuff pedals at that pawn shop like a week before the three dudes of as-yet-unnamed-Olympia band walked into said pawn shop, but whatever man. Anyway, with four SFBM pedals and three dudes steeped in the traditions of…well, those two vinyl records and whatever guitar rock was on Dude Number One’s sister’s MP3 player (mostly Jimi Hendrix tunes but these dudes thought they were fuckin’ Aerosmith tunes, c’est la difference in the internet age), combined with a few SFBM pedals…shit man, you got Milk Music.

Beyond Living goes beyond living over here.  I'm not sure if this is out of print, but try to find it on Discogs!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hold on Magnolia....

....(or, still well forked, but still not dead:)

Sorry, per usual, for the lack of posts. In this case, I have a perfectly valid reason for not posting that's entirely unrelated to my own laziness, fondness for alcohol, or other such subjective reasons: No stable internet connection for the last three months. This usually means that when I'm half-way through downloading one of the many albums due for review, said download craps out or I'm unable to upload a post. I love the country I'm living in, but fuck is it hard to do anything, at all, here. Ever. Even more so than when you're drunk all the time.

In any case, I'll be back to regular posting when I can. That may mean around the end of July, when I return to my beshitted, gun-wielding homeland (the United States). Whatever else we are, us 'merikuhns are good at providing internet connections. How else would the NSA babysit us all, right?

Anyways, I'll post reviews of new material as and when I can. I love you all, and sorry that I'm a snarky crank. Comes with the territory of running a music blog, dunnit?