Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Buso-3E EP (2012)

"All Alone. No one to talk to. Come over here so I can talk to you."-Lou Reed, Please Kill Me

 It's been cold, rainy, and gray all day. That means I'm finally in a suitably depressed mood to bang out a review of this piece of synthesizer blues from Hungary. This EP opens with a metronome-like beat that bangs away like a hammer as Buso gradually adds layer upon layer of warm synth texture, resulting in a glacially soothing concoction that sets the tone well.

The absolute lofi recording standard results in a mix that's completely muddy-yet this makes the EP flow well, focusing and compressing each song. "Heart and Shadow" is a dark reflecting pool of your own misery: there's a weird delaying or echo effect on the synthesizer that gives you a sense of claustrophobia before Buso starts intoning in an Ian Curtis-esque monotone. Of course, the recording's too muddy to make out the words, but that's part of the charm: it sounds like he's singing from the bottom of the ocean, deep in his cave, inviting you to come in. His vocal style throughout is muddled and distant, yet simultaneously warm. "Cry, Dance, Celebrate" is a killer tune that all you goofballs reveling in the goth punk revival will love: put on yr mascara and dance the night away.

"The Fall" is a simple, dirty guitar pattern with a bare coat of synth ambiance: it reminds me of a lofi version of Neil Young's Dead Man soundtrack.  Really, that's the tone of this whole album: claustrophobic soundscapes bursting with emotion. Like the Thorir Georg EP, Januar, that came out in January, this is a beautiful piece of loner music, for a community built around isolation.

Download here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I'm too tired and have too much work to do to get around to any of the new releases clogging my mailbox, and anyway lots of y'all prefer old music over new music, so here ya go.

The title translates as, roughly, "Disturbing the Common Peace." Enigma (no, not the US/UK label) Records dropped this one back in 1984, and showcases what the Athens scene sounded like back then. Most of the bands straddle the line between punk and new wave, especially  the two tracks by Γενιά Του Χάους ("Chaotic Generation"/"Chaos Generation"), which are probably the best: dark, plodding punk that should appeal to all you kiddies jizzing your pant/ies over the dark/deathpunk revival.

Panx Romana and Ex-Humans are the other well-known (relatively speaking, anyways) bands here, but Γκρόβερ and Stress are pretty good too.

Dig it, creeps. I think I found this on Robert's Terminal Escape blog a long time ago; you should follow TE if you don't already, fool.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deathcharge-The Hangman 7" (2006)

If you read DrugPunk, you're probably aware that one of the latest crazes in underground rock is fusing punk, deathrock, goth, and all things -wave. The result is typically a blackclad stew of chugging Motorhead-inflected riffs, ice-cold synthesizers, and brooding lyrics about death, If you're new to the genre, today's post serves as an introduction to the sound; if you're a bitter old crank like myself, Deathcharge's third 7" is simply a classic and trendsetter for those of us who like The Mob or Bauhaus as much as GBH and the Germs.

Well, Deathcharge was way ahead of the curve on this whole trend. They started cranking out fairly pedestrian Discharge-carbon copy tunes in 1997, and along with fellow Pacific Northwest bands like The Spectres, Bellicose Minds, and Arctic Flowers, are the best that this darkpunk revival has to offer. They were doing D-beat when bands like Earth Crisis were still big, and when they dropped "The Hangman" in 2006, everyone else was busy aping the D-beat style they had already abandoned.

Anyways, this album really threw me for a loop when I first heard it in 2006. I was expecting more D-beat massacres; instead, what you get is a brutally monotonous drumbeat that is synced perfectly with a colossal guitar riff that chugs along at a glacial pace. The singer's voice is halfway to the grave; he alternately mumbles, gurgles, and howls in resigned disgust as he awaits the noose. Midway through, the guitar drops out and a voiceover whispers in the background; it makes the song that much more effective when the guitar comes squalling back to life. It ends abruptly, with a strangled grunt. "New Dark Age" is more of the same: a massive, doom-struck guitar riff that steamrollers the band along. The singer sounds like he's at the bottom of a well, or drowning: bitter, ugly, incoherent mumblings more than lyrics are what you get with Deathcharge. The guitar riffs in the bridge are to die for: wailing brutality that sounds like Motorhead slowed down and flattened out.

Like I said, if you're new to the dark side of punk, start with this. It's one of the best punk records of the last decade, easily. Souciant did a great survey article on this sorta music, which it's labelled "G-Beat,' which is well worth reading. Check out Deathcharge on facebook for show dates, tours, etc.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thenn-Threshing the Golden Fields EP (2012)

Thenn is named after a geographical location and a tribe in George R.R. Martin's epic Song of Ice and Fire series. The geographical location is an icebound valley far to the north of The Wall, which guards the realm of humans against the Others (read the books, I don't have time to explain). The tribe is a group of savage, Bronze Age folk similar to the Picts or maybe the Celts, who wear bronze scale armor and worship their king, the Magnar, as a god.

Got that? Good, 'cause it tells you a lot you need to know about the music Thenn plays. That would, of course, be heavy black metal with a singer who sounds like a cannibalistic Orc or, well, Thenn. Brooding guitar sludge and downtuned bridges alternate with soaring solos flying on the wings of dragons, and all the while, that Orc is gnashing his teeth in anticipation of human flesh. Thenn's songs are more dynamic than a lot of the stuff I hear from this genre: the songs have distinct sections, and although they run into each other, that's the point, isn't it? Thenn does a great job of tapering their raging verses off into false stops, only to come charging back with blastbeats and epic, swooping guitar misery. Here comes the Magnar of Thenn again!

Wallow in frigid lakes of gushing blood HERE.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preludes-New York EP

Preludes, like one of my current favorites, Dirty Beaches, makes fundamentally cinematic music. The band's crisp, eternally wistful dreampop wouldn't have been out of place on the Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack: like most of the songs featured there, it conjures up a distinct, discrete feeling without overstaying its welcome. The songs on the "New York" EP barely exceed 3:35 at most, but each one is a separate movement of what feels like one, fragmented whole. The pairing of deep-as-the-Mariana Trench percussion and synthesizers confused the hell out of me upon first listening, but it grows on you with time.

"Relationships" is built around an insistent violin line. As it slowly develops into a string-and-vocals arrangement, the vocals intone indecipherable mumblings in a hushed, Bon Iver-style tone. Around 1:28, it slows down until the vocals are almost alone, resulting in a minimal, yet somehow lush, bridge.  "Relationships" ends with a bang, as stringwork whirls around a thunderous drumbeat.

"Obligations" takes the percussion of "Relationships" and runs with it: too subdued to dance to, the song's handclaps, tender bass note and a thunderous beat are perversely rhythmic in a very sedate way: I could dance to this after smoking hash, but not while drunk. "Black Spring/Unhappy People" starts off like it's gonna be a club banger, with a menacing bass beat that I keep expecting to explode into techno (or whatever people listen to on Ibiza). That bass never really goes anywhere, and the result is a song that manages the difficult trick of being both monotonous and mesmerizing, if that makes any sense.

"Ariel" felt like a dream, of running down an empty city street on a gray, autumnal day, chasing your lover just after s/he walked out, finally, for the last(?) time. Opening with angelic wailing and chimes, that fucking bassdrum kicks in again to lead you out the door. It's a long walk through the barren New York streets, but maybe s/he will listen; it has an iminent, breathless feeling that it shares with some Eluvium tracks. Eluvium's albums unfold on a vast panorama, but Preludes' songs are as compressed as the streets of Florence. It works.

Preludes' second EP, The Swan, was great, but "New York" has a much fuller sound; I can't wait to hear what they do next, and this is great music for late fall and early winter. LISTEN HERE!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Miami-Ring Shouts EP (2012)

If you're looking for something suitably autumnal to help you through November, The Miami's latest may just be that. The cover art is a famous Matthew Brady picture of casualties from Antietam (for non-American readers: a September, 1862 battle in the American Civil War, the single bloodiest day in U.S. history), and the song selections are suitably Old Timey: the EP includes what seems to be a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band cover, an English folk song, and a Paul Robeson/Mahalia Jackson cover.

"Will the Circle be Unbroken" sets the tone: hushed acoustic guitar chords and a voice that owes everything to Will Oldham. What keeps the tune interesting, and saves it from mere wanna-be status, is the jarring, howling guitar/synthesizer distortion that kicks in around 1:24. It never drowns out the singer, but it provides a bracing accompaniment that, along with the handclaps around 2:00,  keeps you coming back to it.

 If the dood behind the Miami didn't first hear "Barbed Wire" on Chumbawumba's English Rebel Songs LP, I'll eat my hat (but I don't wear hats! Ha!). The deadpan tone the singer takes gives the song a completely different ambience than Chumba's version. Chumba definitely nailed it as far as versions that weren't recorded in the World War I trenches go, but still, The Miami's version is pretty good; in fact, most people will probably prefer this version to 'Wumba's.

"Motherless Child"'s first three minutes are composed of freeform ambient shivers, quakes, and hovering, glancing apparitions comin' atcha outta the mist. Eventually it turns into an a capella take on the old Paul Robeson hymn. There's all sorts of problems involved in adopting a Paul Robeson song to fit onto an indie EP, which I'll let the reader/listener sort out for his/herself. It's audacious, I'll give The Miami that. "Kneebone" would be great party music if it was 1830: handclaps and tambourines introduce a call-and-response song with minimal guitar to keep a rhythm. It works in a very idiosyncratic sorta way.

That's my verdict on the album as a whole: some of it works, some of it doesn't, but The Miami is defiantly doing its own thing on this EP, which I respect. There's enough historical allusions packed into it to keep history geeks like myself busy for quite awhile; buy it for that reason a lone, after listening to it, here. Brought to you c/o Prison Art Rex.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meat Thump-Box of Wine/Feel Good 7" (2012)

It's hard to listen to this EP without taking it as an epitaph for Brendon Annesley, the much-missed dood behind Negative Guest List, and Meat Thump's guitarist and vocalist. If his name means nothing to you, then good: you can listen to this record on its own terms, instead of imposing mourning on it.

Granted, these two offerings of downed-out, fucked up sloprock are delivered from the far end of a seven-day bender. But, as with the best downer blues in the Peter Laughner tradition, there's a laugh drifting up from underneath the wine, lice, and decay: On "Box of Wine," Annesley drawls out a tale of booze-driven infidelity that is downright funny (My favorite lines are: "Gonna tell my woman/dontcha weep, no dontcha whine" and "Don't know why I'm oh so sorry/for my cheating ways/it was my double box and dick to blame"). Amdist the murky clatter and patter, there are stray guitar riffs of genius, and the tambourine even evinces signs of life.
"Feels Good" opens with a guitar riff that Meat Thump probably lifted wholesale from a Laughner or Rocket from the Tombs outtake. Over a band that had already perfected the art of sounding like it's falling apart while never missing a note, Annesley asks himself the question I contemplate every time the alarm clock goes off: "It doesn't feel good...why do I do it?" Annesley was a great writer, as anyone who's read the NGL 'zine knows; he also had a compelling singing voice.

I won't insult Annesley or any of the people associated with Meat Thump/NGL by saying I understand this record, but I will say that it's a great slab of rock 'n' roll, played just how it was meant to be played: drunk, clever, and with a heaping dose of humor. I only wish Annesley had stuck around long enough to build on its great promise.

Listen to Meat Thump, and buy the record, here. Hurry up, only 500 were pressed. It'll be on my Best of 2012 list, for sure.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Summer Schatzies-Take me to Bohemia EP (2012)

New from Budapest, Summer Schatzies write songs in five minutes, and it shows. No, wait, don't take that as a diss! The instantly disposable, trash aesthetic is part of what makes this EP so much fun.

Featuring Zsofia from Piresian Beach on vocals, the Schatzies are, simply, a surf-garage band: gone are the weird warblings, tripped out guitars and druggy vibes of PB, in favor of crude-to-the-point-of-parody guitar and drumming. The closest "Final Solution" gets to complexity is the counterpoised vocals and drumbeat. "Take me to Bohemia" sounds like a punk song your favorite bar band would play if it was 1976, the Ramones LP had just come out, and this band's only other reference point for "punk" was the Ventures: it has a crude, thudding beat with suitably trashed surf guitar.

I'm guessing "Spooks in Love" took ten minutes, not five, to write, and anyway, they made a video for it! "Spooks" slows things down a bit, with no distortion, and has a certain whimsical charm to it. "Fall in Love in Naples" is more garageslop, with male vox, giving it a slightly sleazier vibe than the other tracks. Needless to say, it works.

Summer Schatzies is great for acting like it's a lot warmer than it should be in the Northern Hemisphere, given that it's November: spin it here, then buy the fucker.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Alone & Forsaken XV(?)-After Hours.

Oh, hi folks. Lookit me! It's November, we've got 4 more years of Mr. Kill List at the White House, and here's another installment in the ongoing Alone & Forsaken series.

I've got a whole buncha shit I been meanin' to review for dis heer blog (Preludes, Opus Null, etc. etc.) but I've been grading undergraduate exams and answering questions such as "So is it a good argument to say that the United States has lived up to its ideals in the War on Terror because we successfully and peacefully captured bin Laden?" [I'm not making this up. This is a slice of what's racing through the minds of the brilliant young Americans that call themselves my students.]. Needless to say, having fun (that is, taking painkillers, guzzling vodka, writing bad record reviews and convincing girls at bars to make out with me) has had to take a backseat to, ah, work.

Anyways, here's a beautiful slice of autumnal melancholy and misery to ease you through those tired, grey nights spent alone drinking $2 box wine 'cause yr too blitzed and gutpit depressed to think of anything creative to do with your apathy. Er, yeah.

Warning!: This is tuff tunes for tuff times that is best imbibed drunk and/or wasted on whatever shitty drugs you can find before you crawl home for the evening. Now sit alone and cry to this raw shit.

y'know you love it.

1. Beat Happening-Other Side
2. Beach House-Saltwater
3. The Velvet Underground-Candy Says (Closet Mix)
4. Tom Waits-Blind Love
5. Sun Kill Moon-Heron Blue
6. The Middle Class-Everything
7. The Mekons-Lost Highway (Hank Williams cover)
8. The Mountain Goats-Color in Yr Cheeks
9. Pink Reason-Dead End
10. J.T. IV-In the Can
11. Glass Cake-truly
12. Elliott Smith-2:45 A.M.
13. Daniel Johnston-True Love Will Find You in the End