Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dance Disaster Movement - we are from nowhere (2003)

Their Dance-Punk is anguished and pounding, if not downright neurasthenic, but also clumsy, and derivative of the past (the usual suspects: Blurt, Crash Course In Science, The Contortions etc etc). Worthwhile listen though. Get it here (updated link).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Numbers - numbers life (2002)

Ιn their debut, the Numbers offer an update of late 70's no-wave (particularly James Chance & The Contortions) and synth-punk (particularly Crash Course In Science). However, the update is limited only to production values, and not to form. A touch of glam and power-riffing ("Driving Song", "I'm Shy") liven up the proceedings, while the factory-noise of "Prison Life" is probably the most significant track here. In the end, however groovy their spastic vignettes are, you can't help noticing how derivative the whole thing is. Get it here (updated link).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Echoboy - volume two (2000)

Echoboy's, Volume Two begins with "Turning On", an Electronic Kraut neurosis circling around your brain to the point of mental exhaustion. Then "Telstar Recovery" picks up the scraps and sets in a maniacal orbit in what can only be described as vital electronic Punk. Anybody who fell in love with Primal Scream's Xtrmntr is gonna love this.

The Dub Techno "Kelly's Truck", setting in motion an obsessive merry-go-round, explores this anguish from another perspective. In comparison, the atmospheric Lounge "Siobhan", despite offering a melancholic tone, is a disappointment. Ditto for the unassuming Electropop "Make The City The Sound".

The escalating theme "Schram And Sheddle 262" is much better, as if an uneasy mixture of Public Image Ltd. circa This Is What You Want.. and an Ennio Morricone spaghetti-western score. On the other hand, "Südwestfunk No. 5" sounds like a softcore version of Big Beat. This hot/ cold shower continues with "Circulation", a twisted Synth Pop with Reggae overtones that conjures images of This Heat produced by Black Uhuru. Not bad at all.

A record which warrants a listen. Get it here (updated link).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Calla - televise (2003)

Calla's unlikely mix of Slowcore and Garage Rock comes into it's own in the atmospheric peak of Televise, continuing a tradition that started in the 80's with The Dream Syndicate, and providing music for a new generation of punks, whose interest is not in destroying the establishment, but rather camouflage themselves and blend with the flickering environment around them. Get it here (updated link).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

ABBC - tête à tête (2001)

One of the best kept secrets of Calexico's discography, this collaboration between them and the Amor Belhom Duo finds them at their most eerie, fatalist and mystical, with several short Ambient-Chamber tracks which give new guise to their cursed desert auras, and approach the abstract requiems of the Boxhead Ensemble ("La Valse Des 24 Heures", "En Route To The Blanchisserie", "Orange Trees In The Yard"). Funnily, the nadir is the pointless doodling of what one would expect to be the centerpiece (the 14-minute "The Wrestler's Masque"), while the zenith is the 11-minute pointillism of "Le Savon Se Dissout Dans La Rigole" (despite an awkward and irrelevant coda). Get it here (updated link).

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Certain Ratio - i'd like to see you again (1982)

Despite their evolution as performers, by this point A Certain Ratio had removed any sort of tension or angst in their music, and they were left with a generic Disco-Funk sound, which did them no favours. The vaguely more meaty "Hot Knights" and "I'd Like To See You Again" were the highlights. Get it here (vinyl rip, includes pictures of the sleeve, inner sleeve, and vinyl).

Friday, September 14, 2012

8 Eyed Spy (1981)

In this poorly produced collection of studio and live recordings, a gang of erstwhile No Wavers (basically this is Lydia Lunch's touring band) do Rhythm & Blues.

Alas, when it comes to primeval Punk Blues, The Gun Club did better, and when it comes to brainy post-modernism, The Raybeats did better (whose Pat Irwin is a member here coincidentally).

For fanatics only. Get it here (vinyl rip, includes pics of the sleeve, inner sleeve, and vinyl).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MX80 Sound - crowd control (1981)

Even though Out Of The Tunnel gets all the credit and recognition when it comes to the MX-80 Sound, actually Crowd Control is the better album.

The tormented riffs and tight rhythm of "Face Of The Earth" betray the influence of Television, but the fierce acid lead-guitar is all theirs. "Crowd Control" is a furious rockabilly instrumental, alternating between order and chaos. The zombie-esque monologue "Why Are We Here" is once again backed by some formidable post-acid grooves.

This early form of existential noise-rock, that straddles the line between structure and improvisation, predates Mission Of Burma, Sonic Youth, Fugazi et al.

The extraordinary "Obsessive Devotion" is underlined by a moody melody that is seconded by some amazing leads, chanting vocals and a discordant middle-section. Another masterpiece, "More Than Good" evokes the timeless spirit of garage-punk, and adds the usual post-acid leads, anthemic backing vox, and a large dose of alienation. The industrial heavy-rock, relentless riffing, wild solos, and inventive use of vocals in "Night Rider" create a suffocating atmosphere. Ditto for the bouncing "City Of Fools".

The elaborate, dramatic structure of the progressive "Theme From Sisters" is clearly an influence on Mission Of Burma's Vs.Continuing along this path, "Pharoah's Sneakers" is an engaging mixture of avant-garage, feral solos and saxophone, big-band swing simulations, and brittle tempo changes. Finally, the album ends with the frigid lounge "Promise of Love", which is soon countered by progressive deviations, and ceases with a delicate whisper of piano, bass and drums.

An album in desperate need of re-evaluation. Get it here (
vinyl rip, includes photographs of the sleeve, inner sleeve, and the vinyl).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Green On Red - gas food lodging (1985)

Green On Red offered another rough diamond of American Rock & Roll with Gas Food Lodging, starting with the Country Rock/ Psychedelic Folk Rock salute of "That's What Dreams Are For", followed by the country-rock/ Blues Rock defiance of "Black River". In the meantime, a touch of fiery hard-blues and a bit of southern accent in "Hair Of The Dog" further shakes things up, coming in stark contrast with the elegiac Dylan-like restless flow of "This I Know", and the passionate and vivid psychedelic country-rock "Easy Way Out", which feels as if Neil Young has joined the Paisley Underground generation. Further beauty is encountered in the dramatic flourish of the Garage-Country paeans "Sixteen Ways" and "The Drifter", while "Sea Of Cortez" offered another self-consuming fervid daze. Get it here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Suburbs - credit in heaven (1981)

The Suburbs had already displayed a deep knowledge of the history of Rock & Roll, wild technical skills, as well as a desire to experiment in their debut In Combo. However in Credit In Heaven they broadened the palette further by incorporating these elements in a civic mural, thus moving from the snapshot of an era to a panorama of an expanded timeline.

It starts with the restless Talking Heads-ian Dance-Punk "Tired Of My Plans" (albeit with more urban flavors) while "Faith" adds an evocative Rhythm & Blues tinge, and "Tape Your Wife To The Ceiling" a neurotic (but humorous) Boogie Rock quality. The same sound is simultaneously more epic and deranged in "Macho Drunk", while "Ghoul Of Goodwill" shows further refinements, whereas their nerdy robotic Funk is accentuated by an airy feel and a light Ska touch.

Similarly, "Dish It Up" starts discordant and jerky, but ends emotional and breezy. "Mommy" is another oxymoron, robotic and calculated on one hand, feverish R&B on the other. The urban Lounge-Rock "Cigarette In Backwards" however painted a different picture, that of a tired metropolis. "Girl Ache" verified the new ambitious plot: by now the listener seemed to be getting past the hung-up dance, and instead was losing himself in a megalopolis vertigo.

"Drinking With An Angel" confirmed the impression with another expressionist post-modern dance, carefully constructed to imply a warm sense of nostalgia. The urban-rock waft of "Spring Came" also elapsed this passage from the ephemeral to the timeless, from the modern to the classic. It is a landscape into which the bittersweet piano ballad - with a masterful epic coda - "Girlfriend" fits perfectly, while brainy excursions into calculated and catchy funk like "Postcard" also traverse a route that reaches from the classic Folk Dance, to the Progressive Rock of the 70's, and the dispassionate Post-Punk, to form an existential future that's yet to come (the "mathematical" Post-Rock).

It is the same for "Music For Boys", a superb framework which breezes through in a catchy way and remembers the past in a soulful manner. In the meantime, "Idiot Voodoo" returns to an R&B apotheosis, and "Pipsqueak Millionaire" presents another three dimensional postcard taken with extraordinary precision, another intellectual attack mixed with the colors of a dazzling theatrical show. However, "Credit In Heaven" ends the album with a feel of dislocation and ongoing sense of adventure rather than settling for repose.

A wonderful record that is still being left undiscovered. Get it here.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Piscine Et Charles - quart de tour, mon amour (1984)

Neat fusion of lounge-jazz and funk with cold-wave and electronics, predating acid-jazz by about five years, and occasionally managing quite impressive atmospheres ("Maison Neuve", "Existe En Rouge"). Get it here (vinyl rip, includes photographs of the sleeve and vinyl).