Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Wanna Feel Fine

Thee Fine Lines, Thee, Fine Lines (2003)

I don’t know who has been behind my eardrum steering wheel recently, but I cant seem to subdue this minimalist rock binge I’ve been on, so here we go.  As much as I like calling anything I can’t define with an olde-timey tinge, Rock n’ Roll, I’m pretty sure all that shit died when Buddy Hollies plane crashed. Thee Fine Lines are about as close as anybody can get in this post-industrial age. Simple Keg-standin’, lip splitin’, dive bar party anthems that’ll be the perfect soundtrack for the next time you decide to whip out ‘chore butterfly knife and stab that shoeless, old guy, wearing a kilt, with ketchup smeared all over his wife beater, waving a bottle of Canadian Hunter in your face and verbally assaulting you about how you’re too young to like The Dead Kennedy’s, because you weren’t ‘there.’ Fuck East Oakland. The garage punk thang is always hit-or-miss, it can fail miserably if it’s all formula and no heart, these three cats HIT it in a big way here, delivering trashy, infectious, and most of all fun, no-fi grooves. The lyrical content is cynical consisting mainly of the cruelties of young lust and the revenge of the misunderstood (completely expected for anybody angry and drunk… or maybe just one of those, but the combination don’t hurt.) Though they may not take a profoundly advanced or unfamiliar approach to the likes of hard-core garage purists everywhere, their slick meandering bass lines and smoldering guitar riffs will make you have drunken, unprotected sex in the back of your Lincoln Continental. Although there is nothing revolutionary here, it is Pure, and should be listened to by any human who provides a special place in their heart for guitars, anger, or speedballing. 

-Corey Funklor

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Enigmatic Famine Harbinger

Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma.

Pressing play on Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma has just the same effect as flipping open the front cover to an Isaac Asimov of Ray Bradbury novel. When chaotic beginnings of “Clock Catcher” hit you, you know you're in for something otherworldly, not unlike awakening to an alien setting in some science fiction book. But don't mistake this for some cheesy sci-fi; only ten seconds in to the album those steamrolling glitch sounds makes way for the most delicate of harps, contrasting this terrifying extraterrestrial world with something soft, pure, and earthly, and he overlaps these two styles that really should never go together with ease. And the best part is, it doesn't end there. Track 2, “Pickled!,” pairs Dilla-like jazz beats with the roar of a chainsaw. This, my friends, is the essence of FlyLo.
This beat maniac hails from an alternate universe on some distant planet where pseudo nymphs, androids and Ewoks coexist in perfect harmony. It is here where he paints us more than a life-like, psychedelic portrait of his world, as he invites us in to his cosmic drama like he's manning his own version of the Starship Enterprise. If the mechanical chunk of the first three tracks take place on the claustrophic but hopeful journey to Planet Cosmogramma, “Intro to a Cosmic Drama” is that first step into this utopian place of perfectly co-existing polar opposites, as the dust clears and the polychromatic reality of harp-laden orchestras gracefully evolves into the ethereal post-hip hop of “Zodiac Shit.” You might know Flying Lotus as provider of the bump music on Adult Swim, but even after listening to the first handful of tracks, it's evident that he's evolved a ton since those now-seemingly rudimentary days. Jazz has found a much more profound place in his work with two interludes, and the influence of his aunt Alice Contrane is scattered about, trickling through here and there in the medium of the harp. Also, songs like the Thom Yorke-assisted “...And the World Laughs With You,” which could pass for an acid-induced cut on Yorke's The Eraser, the epic, celebratory, and very J. Dilla-influenced “Galaxy in Janaki,” and personal favorite “Do the Astral Plane,” which I am convinced would be the choice party track for an alien race, just wouldn't work within a 10 second time constraint. These are songs in every sense of the word, not just looped samples. They need breathing space, and while they are still fantastic on their own, when you throw them into the pot that is Cosmogramma you get a truly classic electronic record.
Flying Lotus has truly outdone himself, and is well ahead of his time with an album that just can't be labeled with a genre. Is it experimental? Of course it is. Is it post-hip hop? I guess. Digital jazz? Sure! Point is, the dude is his own genre now, and the sky – I mean, a galaxy far, far away – is his limit.  


Monday, March 28, 2011

Jimmy James Flame

 Jimi Hendrix, Stages (Disc 3 - San Diego '69), 'Red House'

Red House was always one of my favorite Hendrix tracks. It's a real classic work compared to his experimental, acid rock, psychedelic jazz influenced, whatever you wanna call it style. The 12 bar blues arrangement, and the angry-in-love lyrical content are very traditionally blues based, and to the average Hendrix appreciator, classic sounds like this one allow you to unveil a bit of his versatility. Listen to this song, and watch this song. Try to get lost in the structure of this thing, watch that orange line float across the sharp contrasts of light and shade. Seriously get lost in that image below this. Watch how sudden the bursts of energy are, the flares of amplification. Just as important are the points where he drops the sound out, and the lightning speed with which he does it. Remember that music is just as much about the absence of sound as the sound itself. Pay attention to how the composition not only sounds but looks, especially considering this particular live version is 3 times as long as any of the 5 different studio released cuts of this song. This track really stands as a testament to his undeniably supreme prowess as a live improvisational performer. This is still fairly early in Hendrix's career, before he got really fucked up on heroin and speed and began to play so fast that sometimes, he trips on his own momentum, failing to land a hammer note here and there. On this track he uses restraint, he has an unbelievable amount of patients in building the crescendo on this thing. Look for the symmetry in certain scale progressions, feel the way the melody cascades up and down, how it moves like the ocean tides.

Here is the album: Disc 3 (San Diego - '69)

Here is the single: Red House

-Donnie Feclor

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Take me to that beautiful place..."

Aussie post-punk act The Scientists, born out the remnants of Exterminators and Invaders, were sick of the power pop and rock of the time and took a turn towards the dark and demented. In doing so they helped pave the way for multitudes of bands in the Seattle area as well as New York, helping to form a big part of what became 90s indie rock and most importantly GRUNGE.
Blood Red River (1983) is when they really went off the deep end. Back when most bands were about being catchy and slick, these guys wanted dirt and pain. They were kind of like a gloomy clinically insane psychedelic-tinged Stooges. The whiny squeals and moans of the guitar just wind and twirl through the maniacal song structure crashing with the heavy dingy bass thuds and thumping drum beats. Production was mean, trashy, and raw. Kim Salmon's drugged out vocals stumbled through it all, delirious and sinister as fuck. This album is abusive and careless lust in it's grossest form.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

"You Need Coolin, Baby, I'm Not Foolin..."

Rival Sons are true to their roots, but I can't call them a throwback band. 'Cause no throwback bands ever last. And I want this to last. Straight up hard blues rock n roll (classic rock if you must). Derived from the greats like Faces, The Yardbirds, The Black Crowes, early Aerosmith?, Humble Pie, and a big dose of Early Led Zeppelin. A vocalist with lungs and personality, solid drumming, groovy bass lines, and screamin guitar solos that are incredibly reminiscent of a long lost fire that seemed to have burned out with the 70s. They're just heading into the studio after finishing their first big tour ending at SXSW. The new album will be released on Earache Records. I know-super fucking weird for a record label who's roster is full of extreme metal and grind bands to bring you some good ol' rock and/or roll, but it's happening. I've included a link for their first self-released full-length entitled Before the Fire as well as a link for their 2010 self-titled EP.

"Before the Fire" download.
"Rival Sons EP" download.

here's a video for a song from the EP:



Diarrhea Planet, ALOHA!

     This EP, barely over 9 minutes, is simultaneously one of the silliest and most promising fucking things I’ve ever heard. Surf punk butt rock I’d call it, yezzir. All the angry sensibilities of teenage angst combined with 12-year old potty humor out the ass. These magical awesome nobodies dropped this EP last year out of nowhere and then receded into the listless caverns of viral enigmas. They had no website, no myspace page, played no shows. Nobody knew a fucking thing about them besides this crazy-fuck EP about boners and adrenaline. You’ll shred this thing to pieces and know every word on the album within the hour. The absurdly juvenile shade of Diarrhea Planet sets us in Limbo, floating somewhere far too vulgar for the lo-fi sensibilities of most hipster cult rockers and way too silly for honest-to-fuck-core punks. In light of the childish insanity I have painted all over this thing, you’ll be surprised by the elegant musical composition that they manage to pull together, as well as the contrast between homeroom joke jamming and the severe pain of being a misunderstood teen with nothing to live for except the girl next store and warm summer night garage parties (this was far before we found the habitual comfort of whiskey to quell this deep misunderstood anguish that we carry). Is it refreshing to see a band who has so little respect for the artistic abilities of song writing that the only words they can come up with for 2:49 on the EP’s longest track are “GHOST WITH A BONER!!! GHOST WITH A BONER!!!!”????……… Yes… yes it is. 

-Donnie Feclor

Wipe That Smile Off Your Fucking Face You Fucking Whore!

Alright. Here Comes a shit storm of awesome. Wizard Smoke has recently announced that full-length number two is coming our way in just over a week. You'll be able to download it straight from their website. Fans of the stoner, sludge and doom metal varieties mark your calendars for March 29th and prepare for a good mind-melting. These monsters are incredible.
The first thing you'll notice is the stunning production-making every instrument scream out with a brooding ferocity. This is heavy stoner doom that you could lazily slop in with Sleep or Weedeater or Eyehategod, but these guys bring much more to the table. Their super down-tuned molassesy guitar grooves usually make you feel like you're wading through lava but they also have the potential to surprise you with spurts of psyched out melodies. I love a band that can turn me into a teabag and allow me to steep in it's sonic abyss, but also be able to keep my mind constantly refreshed with its dynamic creativity. The awesomeness of the riff at hand never fades leaving you with a permanent soul-smile beginning to end. The guitar and bass grooves are astounding and backed by well-constructed drumming. The blistering screaches of the vocalist burst through the haze and will have you bowing to them. They've played with all sorts of awesome bands such as Torche, Zoroaster, Red Fang, Coliseum, Kylesa, Thrones, etc and feature members from (maybe) unassuming groups such as Maserati and Dust Rabbit among others, although I think the influences are most definitely realized.
Now as I said earlier, the new one isn't set for release for another week, but here's a bunch of ear candy to keep you Satan-worthy until then:

Click here for their first record, Live Rock in Hell.
Click here for the opening track from the upcoming record, The Speed of Smoke.

Stream of the third track from the upcoming record, The Speed of Smoke:


EDIT: The new one is now up for download from their website.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Grill Stay Grimy

Girl Unit, Wut EP

We’ve been talking a lot in my Theories of Pop Culture class about the ramifications of an increasingly trans-national, globalized world economy, and with that, the mixing and matching of cultural practices. There’s my springboard, here’s the pool: dubstep. For all of its quirks, 90% of it is migraine-inducing garbage, championed and sustained by the jaw-dropping mediocrity of the scene’s imagination. However, that small remainder of 10% or so happens to be the breeding ground for some truly fascinating electronic music. My current favorite of this tiny, exciting faction: Girl Unit.
Yeah, the name makes me giggle. Especially the moment the beat drops on standout track “Wut,” when you realize this motherfucker ain’t no regular laptop-wielding sissy, but a sample-chopping titan come down from the heavens declaring “shake that ass or perish.” Make no mistake, these are bone-crushing, ‘bow-throwing, crunked-the-fuck-out bangers made to export directly to the dance floor, but through the blend of heavy drums, shimmery synths, and impeccably manipulated vocal samples they retain that almost sexual euphoria that the best electronica gives its listeners. With only the smallest necessary bassline wobbles and circular rhythm patterns paying homage to the vestige formerly known as dubstep, Girl Unit explodes the genre’s conventions outward, channeling the fragmented remains through the filters of Mannie Fresh, Lil Jon, and Cool & Dre. Call it ghettotech, call it streetstep, call it the soundtrack to Soulja Boy’s next unintelligible batch of idiot swag; doesn’t really matter when those thunderous 808 kicks and claps start turning your brain into Jell-O.
With two EPs out, and the movement away from UK traditions becoming much more clear on the second, not to mention absolutely fan-fucking-tastic Wut EP, I’ve got high hopes for this 20-something mutant ninja turtle. The state of American hip-hop is no doubt questionable at best, despite Wiz and Weezy’s best efforts, and it’s refreshing to reconnect with the foundation of its intensity (i.e. bangin’ ass beats) without having to be force-fed all that corny hyper-masculine bullshit. Southern rap will always hold a special place in my heart (yeah, I’ve got Waka Flocka Flame in steady rotation), but Girl Unit offers me the chance to enjoy the aesthetic without feeling like a total fucking sellout. So go ahead and get your meanmug on, flash them gold fronts, and find some pretty young thing whose hips be swangin’. Shit’s fire.


Henry Fessinelli

Monday, March 14, 2011

How many tones?

Ight. So, blues rock... It's kind of the thing to do right now. Jack White blasted off long ago with the White Stripes and The Black Keys weren't far behind 'em and now all I see are bands trying to bring back the 50s and 60s blues rock sound. Who fuckin cares? Anyway, there's tons of these bands dudes--some are stellar, and some suck donkey dicks for quarters. The 5 Tones is one of the former. They've been kicking around Nashville, Tennessee for a few years, winnin' some band battles, buildin a reputation or whatever and finally just this year popped out a debut EP. Cody Shipley's the man behind the slick vocals and the geetar and goddamn is he good. Guitar work is super on-this guy's got talent. Not too over the top or nuthin, just pure soul on super vintage equipment. The way he can rip through them solos and slide.... ughhh his slide skills are veteran status yo. Also, maybe it's just me (although I don't think it is), but I cream my pants over some good mouth harp-and it's painted all over this album. Bliss I tell you. And hey, blues is all about rhythm alright. If you're gonna have a bassist, hell man, you gotta be good. I'm all about the power trio, but there's nothing I hate more than a wasted rhythm section. Aaron Clouse on bass compliments Cody like jazz pianists and heroin. I can't imagine them apart, they play off each other superbly. My butt sure as hell wouldn't be shakin like it is right now if it weren't for his fingers walkin up and down that fender jazz. If you're into The Black Keys, Left Lane Cruiser, John Lee Hooker, R.L. Burnside, early Led Zeppelin, Cream, Yardbirds, etc. you gotta try out Episode I: Tennessee by The 5 Tones. It's pretty swell. Nothing crazy new or anything, but swell none the less. I dare you to sit still.


check out here
download here

Yes, I've been drinking...enjoy.

With Moonshine Simplicity

The Flat Duo Jets, The Flat Duo Jets(1990)

Flat Duo Jets(1990)
The Flat Duo Jets trafficked in a compelling mash-up of 50′s Rockabilly, neo-surf, and garage rock. Christ that’s a mouthful. These are no washed up middle-aged hipster wannabes; that's Dexter Romweber (guitarist) and Crow (drummer), two greasy younger cats from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, whose hillbilly guitar, raspy cigarette pipes and energetic ‘Rabbit Foot’ bass pedal stompin’ recaptured the primitive white trash brilliance of early tonalities that bring to mind some fucked up hybrid of Wanda Jackson and Dick Dale. While other fans of the old stuff simply try to replicate the past, the Flat Duo Jets somehow became the real thing, displaying a psychopathic hint of nostalgia.
Jack White’s White Stripes and The Black Keys should be sending the Jets royalty checks. From the stripped down, raw nature of the Flat Duo Jets, both bands learned a thing or two about just how broad an emotional and sonic platform you can have at your disposal after peeling off layers and finding that good old ‘vein’ of rock that fed the aortas and ventricles of Buddy Holly and Bo Diddley. While the Flat Duo Jets didn’t play flashy solos, wear matching outfits, spawn an industry of hipsteria, or create any sort of mildly pleasing MTV aesthetic, they packed one king hell fuck of a visceral punch and performed with a grimy authentic assertiveness that reaches depths neither White nor the Keys ever reached, no matter how successful both have become with their designs, formulas and minimalist blues ideologies. There are no overdubs, no studio tricks, no pretenses, just unabashed Tru Grit. The album sounds murky; it gives you that claustrophobic feeling that really good vinyl pressings do, as if you’re right in the room with them, adding to the tension, feeling the sweat. You’re either in the dredges of a North Carolina smoke-filled-pool hall, or an Appalachian moonshine distillery, sippin’ on bathtub gin. Either location fits perfectly.
Wailin', hootin' and hollerin’ like bootleggers in a high speed getaway through some dismal bayou and generally acting like the Dukes of Hazzard headed straight for the ninth circle of hell to rip Lucifer’s jugular out. Romweber runs on pure forward momentum on this self titled LP, through mindless rockers like "Wild Wild Lover" and "Please Please Baby," then becomes a backwoods hillbilly Romeo for wonderfully pomade-smeared serenades like "Baby" and "Dreams Don't Cost a Thing."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan Was Already Doomed...

In lieu of the ever-growing and horrifying death toll that mother earth has massacred upon the pacific island we know as Japan, I'm going to remind y'all that Doom is no stranger to this land. It has always been an insatiable hub for bands of the extreme and the occult. The infamous Corrupted is one of 'em. These Japanese hellions are known to many as one of the pioneers of the Funeral Doom genre--blending elements of Death Metal, Doom, Sludge, and Dark Ambient. It is the essence of sorrow and despair. Its unmeasurable mass and ambiance created by layers and layers of feedback and distortion somehow leave you with an unbearable sense of emptiness. The rising and falling of the pulverizing snail-paced down-tuned riffs crash upon your entire being with the force of a 50-foot tsunami wave. The vocalists' deep mournful guttural growls float atop the sea of sludge beckoning the obliteration of your soul. Paso Inferior is the first of their four full-lengths, which were few and far between their hoards of EPs and splits. This is a long-time favorite of mine and a must-have for any zealot of the Sludge and the Doom. It's single 42-minute track deserves your explicit attention. This is not background music, so don't treat it as such. Immerse yourself in it without distraction and as always, hail Satan! \m/


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Real Punk Rockers Wear Drag

The New York Dolls, The New York Dolls(1973)

The New York Dolls(1973)

If I asked you what came to mind when I say Punk Rock, what would you say? Today a lot of your associates might answer that question with something like NOFX or Bad Religion. Once I wipe the cheeky smirk or look of malicious frustration off my face I might rephrase the question with something like where did it come from? Who were the first punk bands? Who were the pioneers? The Godfathers? Most likely The Clash and The Sex Pistols will be the reciprocated comment. This is the association that most people have with Punk and that opinion is completely valid, but hell, if your talking to somebody who knows their shit, some fucker might even go off on The Stooges as the engineers of Punk, and that would be a billion times more valid. One band that has fallen out of the spot light, through the fault lines of pop culture, and into Rock’s graveyard and various moldy dust covered milk crates, scattered in dank basements across the U.S. is a grossly androgynous band that had a profound impact on not only Punk groups like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, but the glam rock likes of Dee Snider’s Twisted Sister, and New Wave Groups like Blondie and The Pretenders, even hair metal-cock sucking-stadium rock bands like KISS. They are The New York Dolls. 
In 1973, guitar giants like Jimmy Page dominated the earth, The New York Dolls unwittingly helped pioneer a minimalist rock movement that would destroy the musical taste and elitist sensibilities of an entire generation. These boys found that the necessary ability to hypnotize crowds with completely self-indulgent 20 minute guitar solos was a complete fucking waste. The Dolls rework old Chuck Berry and Stones riffs, playing them with a sloppy, violent glee and a brutally authentic street sensibility. They play as if they can barely keep their song from falling apart. It plunders and rapes history while celebrating it, creating sleazy urban riot mythology.  If Iggy Pop and the Stooges ever did a cover performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it would have sounded and maybe more importantly looked, exactly like The New York Dolls. The Dolls wanted be The Rolling Stones and the Ronettes in that order, but since they couldn’t even play instruments when the band was first formed, they weren’t competent enough to become either, instead they accidently invented this thing called Punk Rock. Or maybe they didn’t, since you had Raw Power out in 1969, so lets just say they were an important link in the chain on the way to ’77.  Actually fuck that, and this pathetic attempt to find the genesis of punk, because the word has been re-defined so many times that anybody my age who heard The Dolls today, is going to ask, “Hey is this Poison?”
“Yeah yeah yeah yeah no no no no no!" are the first words you hear on the first track ‘Personality Crisis’ and it sums up the Dolls 'cause no matter how fucked up they were and nihilistic they tried to be, their zest for life in the urban jungle came through LOUD and clear. The New York Dolls dressed up like brazen tarts, and you can tell they weren't serious drag queens 'cause they wound up looking like ugly men raiding their girlfriends' closets for a drunken bachelor party, wearing disheveled wigs, smudged lipstick, stilted platforms, painfully tight lurex pants and crimpline dresses all the while, standing under the umbrella of complete anarchy. Technically limited though they were, they made up for it with volume, energy, amplification, great song writing, and drug fueled stage antics, thus proving that you can make great rock'n'roll without possessing the chops of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Unlike the punks they inspired, the Dolls weren't politically charged nihilists ranting about life as pain. They were just hometown boys trying to meet chicks and score some chemical refreshment. No matter how much innocent early '60s girl group fun they tried to revive, the grit and grime of Gotham back alleys always seeped in.

Angels With Dirty Faces

Kurt Vile, Smoke Ring For My Halo

Smoke Ring For My Halo

As this blog’s name suggests, I hold a special place in my heart for that time of the night where we all decide to break from yelling at each other about our favorite new albums in some poor chump’s kitchen, and stumble out into the sobering cool of the high desert for a good ol’ fashioned, god-damned cigarette. Plain and simple, despite the obvious drawbacks of actively taking your own life, I fucking love tobacco. As such, I fucking love albums that spark that insatiable urge to dig into my pockets for a lighter that probably isn’t mine, drag slowly on the end of an American Spirit, find that perfect posture of bored elegance (yes, everyone wants to look cool while they smoke; it’s always been part of the appeal, so fuck off if you dare deny), and blow a few smoke rings off into midnight.
Kurt Vile’s newest is definitely a tobacco, and unsurprisingly, THC-tinged collection of material. Whereas Childish Prodigy, his last full-length, had a little more amp-driven, booze-fueled muscle behind it, Smoke Ring For My Halo sets a slower, almost woozy pace. Thank you gods of Americana, you have been so very kind to our friend Kurt. Clearly, he is turning corner after corner in terms of refusing to play by the rules of the scene in which he has become such a pivotal figure. Yeah, I’m talking about “lo-fi,” that pathetic crutch of an aesthetic so irresponsibly leaned on by a gathering mass of contemporary musicians who really don’t know what the fuck they even want to sound like. Do not rope Kurt Vile into that (justifiable) stereotype, for he is a master. Instead of a mask, he navigates the atmospherics of his songs with refined production and a couldn’t-give-a-shit-less grace that tosses his listeners into a fascinating tension, drawn out by the shifting polarities of both his guitar work and clever songwriting.
What both the title of the album and the songs themselves invoke is a conversation between light and dark, sacred and profane, presence and absence; these tunes simultaneously bring us closer to Vile than ever before, all the while keeping us miles removed, always refusing to locate us at one particular place within the dialogue. It makes for fantastic listening, especially layered against and weaved between his beautiful guitar fuzz, and Smoke Ring For My Halo’s success ultimately lies in the suspense of its dualities. Just take this little snippet from “Jesus Fever,” one of my personal favorites: “ When I’m a ghost, I see no reason to run/ When I’m already gone/ .” It’s soul music for the dead, and god damn it people, listen to these ghosts! They could not do you wrong.