The Christian Family – Voodoo Rhythm Records
Praise Jesus – is this actually Christian garage punk?! Kids, hold on to your Sunday hats and get ready. This dy-no-mite duo, from Phoenix and Los Angeles sure knows how to get down and dirty, with their primitive rock’n’roll sound that’ll knock the socks off all your household members.
Bumping you off with some grungy, trashy, catchy tunes are Sister Ann on vocals, drums and screams, and Brother Daniel on vocals and guitar.
They remind me of Deja Voodoo – the Canadian Grand-Daddios of garage punk trash, with their sludgy swampy raunchy riffs, cave-stomp thumping skins and curdling-in-the-dead-of-night howls.
Songs like Whatcha Got and Mad-a-Lyn will drive you bonkers with mind numbing crunchy guitars putting you in a sexy rhythmic voodoo trance. Are The Christian Family then the poster children for Voodoo Rhythm Records, you ask? Mayhaps – or if not, they should be.
But that’s not all. Time to Pray plates up a snazzy veil of reverb-y distortion, while He’s Comin’ Down is a fast, rockin’ and reelin’, warm and fuzzy, twist-off for church goers that’ll make you blush.
Baby Wants More and I’ll Make You Cry offer quirky beats, and weird melodic romp-y fun. Tornado is something altogether special, a little more ambient and quieter, but with this steady unnerving rumble in its soul, on the verge of collapse or implosion, with a butterscotch sweet echo-y crackly guitar sound.
Look…you not getting this record – well, it’s just a sin, plain and simple, I tell ya!
Okay, now I’m just scared. Really. I won’t sleep tonight. The Monsters have almost permanently ruptured my eyeballs, they’re so intense. Punk, hardcore, primal, fast, heavy. And did I say scary? I meant… terrifying!
Voodoo Rhythm Records’ own Beat-Man Zeller’s band from Bern, Switzerland, you say? I don’t think so. More like… from the deep and dark and murky pits of HELL. Satan himself or herself, would be impressed, would HAIL this band. No joke.
As a remarkable opener Gimme Germs, probably the fastest song I ever heard, is prepping you for what’s to come, while Smell My Tongue needless to say, just regurgitates the nastiest visual ever, a sensory repulse which needs a bucket.
Carpool Lane weighs a ton and starts off rockin’ like Sabbath then switches to lightening speed with shouts repeating the same lyric in punk fashion, like the late great Jay Reatard. Not to mention a juicy swarmy, trippy, swirly middle section to boot.
There are quite a few of these one-word repeated songs like the next one Dead – and I’m a huge fan of this. A method to build intensity to a masterful degree, in a blistering heavy way. While Dead also settles into this long-lasting groove with a surprising, out of nowhere, intricate fluid guitar melody, riding on a steady back-beat, like stoner rock with a pedal effect in tow, maybe a Flanger, getting you deep down into it. Sounds like an airplane nose diving. Then this acoustic jangly section near the end gets pummeled by the one lyric repeated over and over.
Stranger to Me is a crazy insane wicked sped-up beat with fired up riffing and caveman stomping drums and a gangly like spider feel on the vocals.
Get Drunk on You is sort of a love song? In a punk ass lunatic drunken maniac sort of way. In fact, the next set of songs I would describe as “the love suite”. With I Love You repeated numerous times, I hope you get the message; it couldn’t be clearer. And we’re talking fast, like a blender with whizzing blades or a centipede scurrying into a tunnel of darkness.
Next up, better grab your protective amulet. Devil Baby is like a lullaby for sick, evil, demented children. Or another love song? Anyhow, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Hellish, terrifying, horrific, satanistic. Listen, if you dare…
My Down is Your Up is a welcomed instrumental to clear your head on a concrete slab of morphed up mayhem.
The last song Dead (Mortem Batkovic) is actually altogether beautiful with this harpsichord playing a melody so spooky and haunting with ghostlike vocals. A requiem and celebratory finale for dead things. Get your holy water out and your prayer beads. You’re gonna need them!
Coming out of a Bern, Switzerland trailer park, Maryanne Shewolf heads this trio, with pack members Fabu and Mige oozing forth this sensual and sweltering delta blues lounge sound, with dark and heavy tones and hypnotic rhythms. Its ambience and mood get into you, conjuring up this picture of a languid southern desolate town, with dusty dirt roads, at dusk, suffocating and drowsy with heat, or a hot and decadent night club with smoky lust-filled air. In the opener, Something’s in the Air, you ride fast into this pulsing throbbing pace as you hear Maryanne’s heartfelt and gut wrenching vocals and a full explosion of hot lava guitar and swampy bass and beats enthrall you. With Won’t Let Fear In a slow-pace looms, with creeping guitar first and dashes of vocals, then the rhythm builds and builds, sultry and edging, teasing a bit until it dies back down. Maryanne’s deep singing then gets louder as the whole song blooms and erupts with passion and soul. Last Night is like the night that should not have been, with this dangerous vibe penetrating, the hesitant and slow dark sounds, gradually intensifying with a pulsing hypnotic rhythm filled with cymbals crashing, which then flips a switch into this other universe culminating to its end. Marina is lighter in mood and cleaner, with soft tones, ballad-like and then falls into Goddess which starts subtle then gets into a psychedelic psycho swirly monster sound. White Dress is seductive with a heavy drum beat Aha’s chipper rockin’ and snappy flow is sweet and caressing, with tambourine sprinkles and a real good-hearted bluesy, country feel until you’ve entered the darker than black track Come Closer with its smouldering, ominous, deep and scary tarantula-like foreboding. A gut-filled harsh trip into the abyss of all creatures. In short, Honshu Wolves are a phenomenal band, as they deliver a hot smoky bluesy sultry ambient sound sure to seduce and capture you.
Dinosaur Jr Live and Alone Nov 28 livestream @ Pines Theater @ Look Park, Florence, MA
The Creature cap… in the wilderness back drop…The Lung…smiling Lou…Murph pounding purple drums..face sun from first record….Covid mask dangling…Aerial view…In a Jar…J’s shades..tie die b/w jacket.. Marshall stacks high…blue bandana..massive concrete stage…J’s purple telecaster…newer song…really heavy glistening rocking super riffage…Lou’s old man dark forest green cardigan….are you with me? Are you with me all along? Sound is impeccable on my headphones…J’s dynamic solo piercing…power…dig the tall trees and bright green foliage….magenta Fender. It’s like late afternoon? Blistering solo his hands are so skillfully magic and relaxed…mega heavy start..sludgy…distortion frenzy..then a lighter melodic part and short stops and starts…Vintage Vinyl sticker…Murph’s wearing cargo shorts…eloquent vibrato solo…watch the corner..baby don’t you know it…that one amp in the middle looks beat..must sound great though..Lou’s song… guitar white cream and yellow Squier ..J’s cream bass…Rickenbacker…slow number…Lou’s comfort…don’t make it harder…fuzz..fury….Little Fury Things…sunburst Fender…beautiful sunshine pale gold light…wicked solo…live in my living room…that pedal is just producing magic….Out There..I know you’re out there…..explosive…pure…godsend…such warm tones one of my favorites…the contrast of J during chorus with ongoing wall of sound coloring the background…Murph is just providing glorious short rolls… Lou is pounding on that bass hopping like a madman…Murph gave a fierce sideways look to camera…just wow…Feel the Pain…J happy joyous playing…and intricate picking…Lou sweet backup singing…bridge craze…then eloquent revisited.. picks up ferociously..like a train engine barreling down full speed…maddening solo to finish…the Wagon…there’s a place I’d like to go…bright and juicy…double drummer…you don’t see me… it’s loud…joyous free and mesmerizing..thunder drums going impossible..some brick fireplace..J swaying..this is exciting…Murph going nuts…mellow time now…J high pitch singing nice rendition of whatever light song this is…did I miss you..jangly and flowy like a laid back end of summer day…then hard and heavy intense change thundering to unadulterated solo meshing to the chorus…Lou getting violent on those four strings…more solo gushing into Dinosaur heaven…cymbal stop end. Start Choppin’ and purple bright sparkle and jangly thick…I ain’t telling you goodbyyyee….heartfelt and lovely chops chopping away…super cool J expert choppin’ like a gift from the angel’s just tripping..one last time..I waited as long as i could…ripping my heart out tearing at those guitar strings like my soul is ripping apart…cymbal crash boom finish…hard core!!!! Deep Wound…Lou singing…heavy murderous shit…scary and fun..fast and messy grungy..over…Bug…Budge……try to picture me with you…like crackling fireworks..blazing..juicy and tender..You’re Living All Over Me…crying so blissful intensity I’ll be down..Raisans…I’ll be hanging where eventually you’ll have to be..J sounds like he’s a teen again…sparse middle before euphoric middle and glistening guitar meddling madness…crazy pit song..the trees are thrashing…nature loving it…Freak Scene..just can’t believe us…starburst…phasers all up and dousing that purple majestic fuzz…the weirdness just flows..love lust magic stardust..golden and hot as lava…wicked sun coming down…magnificent Lou song with all the magic just amazing lyrical part…and start the fuzz and wash…into a dream…go on that whammy J..like a ghost noise…creepin in…with a unforgiving harsh nonstop barrage of sound and distortion..layers of blood and gore..and light bright white fury wrapped in the sound waves reverberating into infinity..through ages of time…an iconoclast manifold of energy mutant and weary on a fire roasted planet going up in flames and fright hammering unending solo sound explosion…a yelp above trees…into the encore….c’mon babe….. just bliss fury and explosiveness a God heavy bass going wild…Kracked… plead the case I need to space don’t let it wait…uplifted to stratosphere into the spectrum….another heavy…finger splitting tinkling razor sharp…I’m waiting please come back…please wanna hang around…quiet lonely sad and done..into the void…beyond explanation…unforgivable and righteous guitar groping through the mire…the sludge..the filth..to a pretty meadow of hope love lust longing wanting…wicked solo end heavy part just fierce and monstrous…axes of fury and thunder…..Just like heaven…wahwah beauty like floating and rising up…show me how you do that trick…the effects just keep coming!!!…sitting in the deepest ocean…a masterpiece of a cover…fan favourite…jolly and goosebumbs..all the feels…thank you…done…. panning out of the Pines Theater…
Stylistically Red Mass’ newest album is eclectic as fuck! Garage to rock ‘n’ roll to darkwave to disco to speed metal? Seriously. I mean it’s great, all the styles I dig and therefore I dig this record. A concept album that feels like an opus, operatic, a true art collective with many musicians involved in making this album. Alongside Red Mass’ Roy Vucino with Hannah Lewis it features the likes of King Khan, Mike Watt, Mac DeMarco, Evan Dando, John Kastner, Rick Froberg, members of Fly Pan Am, the Black Lips, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Every song is like its own universe. It flashes by in an instant. You kind of don’t know what hit you. And then you can’t help going back in for some more. To Fall From Grace, featuring King Khan, is soulful with 60s vibes, powerful and vibrant, with a fun and cheeky guitar hook to start it off, then tripped up drum beat and smashing cymbals crashing in, then all is quiet except a weird little Casio-like beat and Roy starts singing the first line of the first verse, to be then pummelled by raucous skin pounding in a wicked groove that opens the floodgates of all sounds pouring in with heartfelt exuberance, in the chorus. I love the organ playing and tinkling of bells and rip-roaring guitar. Life is a Cabaret hits you quick with its rapid and reeling execution. It’s got a sick rumbling rhythm and garage-y-punk enthusiasm. First Time’s a Bitch, featuring Mike Watt’s deep and burly vocals, feeling like the Carnival of Souls in its warped and quiet, guitar picking, and subdued kaleidoscope energy, with mysterious and spectral melody circling and dizzying. Killer On The Loose, featuring Rick Froberg and Mac DeMarco starts with a melodic screeching guitar hook which then explodes into this rockin’ and rollin’ upbeat tune, feeling hell bent on its speedy driving getaway madness, and repeating refrain “I am a psycho-killer, running from the law”. My Drugs is such a cool funny punk ditty, lots of delightful musical sounds and sections to grab your attention, with the sweet impassioned vocals of John Kastner of Doughboys and Evan Dando of the Lemonheads, emphatically trying to find their drugs which have gone missing, “Where are my drugs, I’ve been looking around for days.” Young Lovers gives it up like a quintessential Red Mass outpouring, with the right enthusiasm and perfect yearning, revved up and eloquent in its deliverance. Featuring vocals by Jered Gummere and accents and backing by Hannah Lewis. Howl has a gorgeous and sexy deep rhythm, with Hannah’s singing smooth and silky. It’s full and hearty, and it gets more layered later on with Roy screeching and jabbering indescribably yet earnestly in the background. So Cruel, featuring Hugo Mudie, starts off with super hyped up drumming and harsh and heavy vocals. Then a wall of distortion and fuzz thrust into you like bullets. The constant steady riffing and melodic hooks are solid and searing, with deep grungy thick and heavyset bass, warbly and weird synth, sounds like bottles clinking, and Hannah’s haunting voice singing repeatedly near the end, “Sooo cruueelllll.” Devil in Disguise, featuring Drug Train, is dark goth wave heaven, slithering like a black mamba, sleek like shiny strobe lights and vampy vinyl, with warbly 80s synths, a non-stop drum pulse, splashes of metallic guitar and a lustfully delicious melody, all the while creating a vivid image like a dark club filled with smoke and nightly creatures luring you onto the dance floor. Diamond Girl has a raspy and wrangler-like acoustic intro, which builds slowly with Roy and Hannah singing together and a gradual electrifying orchestra of sounds slowly and assuredly encloses and emerges until you’re completely enveloped without knowing. An epic song with a grandiose feeling, a myriad of instrumentation and a flow-y sensation, singing all about the Diamond Girl’s mysterious and adventurous life journey. A contrast ends this with a soft sweet stringed serenade and a raunchy blistering guitar solo. Sharp, featuring Mac DeMarco, is a whirlwind stylistically, starting with Hannah’s sultry style singing paired with a countrified lounge-y acoustic guitar, then all of a sudden, this changes into a total Blondie-esque disco number. Somehow it works and with splashes of wah-wah guitar and some 80s dark wave sounds mixed in the background, then the song again switches up very unexpectedly to blistering insane speed metal for a few bars, then back again to the sultry quiet acoustic beginning bringing an end to A Hopeless Noise.
Destination Lonely hail from the South of France and their brand new 17 song album is chock full of fuzzed out, drenched garage madness. Lots of interesting tracks with creepy lounge-y style songs. Lovin has got a really groovy rhythm slapping you in the face with its coyness and psychedelic sounds and painfully loud guitar. I Want You, a Troggs cover is totally fuzzed out garage psyche with super intense screechy noisy screaming and taking you down a scary path to the darkest corners of your lonely soul.
Ann is like a high school prom dance from the 50s, the kind of slow number to sway and hold your sweetheart tight in a loving embrace, that then turns unexpectedly into a twisted, drugged up and fuzzed up night of no return. Out of Your Head is a swift and sensuous fuzzy drenched head smasher and basher, with a slithery sneaky groove. Follia sung in Spanish is slow and lounge-y, with reverb-y guitar effects and the mulled bass has a thick and mellow sound with an ideal beat. The crazy fuzz drenched title track Nervous Breakdown is heavy and grungy, spinning you in a wild fantastic whirl of kaleidoscopes and wickedness. Day by Day has a creepy climbing little hook to entertain you. Blind Man Acoustic guitar strumming, and in the background, a sample of a what sounds like a rain storm with rumbling thunder really creates a picture perfect atmosphere of this sad tale and this lonely guy strumming away pining away for someone and caught in the weather of his emotions. Je m’en vais – I always like garage songs sung in French, and this one’s a little more poppy and upbeat during the chorus, but it’s got this deep-down feeling and a quietness drifting about it. And the chorus gets progressively heavier throughout and it’s pretty catchy. Sentier Mental – this has a creepy scary feeling to it, sounds like Twin Peaks kind of lounge-y music with some sax. Instrumental, sounds like monsters or wild crazy people in the background. A good creeping around the cemetery at night kind of song. Schizo MF has a real muffled effect on the vocals, with a funky little beat, but the same kind of lounge-y tip toe-y rhythm and then a rip screechy guitar solo and steady tempo. In that time shows us more of that slow paced emotional and passionate outpouring of heart wrenching lurking madness. Screeching and howling singing with lots of feeling and passion. And a screechy mess of guitar dripping ooze in tears and blood and gore. Really heavy slow burning. Trouble is a fun and upbeat garage blast of energy with a tricked out guitar providing little snippets of frenzied moments. Cry evinces more of this lounge-y slow stuff. For the lonely and downtrodden, the yearning and heartbroken. It’s moody. It’s somewhat passionate. It has feeling. Electric Eel is sexy like a wild cat, slithering around the jungle or in a swamp preying on creatures in the murky depths of the slimy water. Is this the same person singing as before? Electrified machinery solo, like a drill going haywire and out of control. I love the simplicity of the record cover and the white vinyl if you can get your hands on a copy looks so sweet!
Masterpiece of a new album, Act Surprised, by one of my favorite bands – Sebadoh. As soon as the first song hits it pummels you in the face. Jason starts the record off with “phantom” and he’s starting it like he’s halfway through it already with heavy sludgy strokes strumming fast, ramped up, with catchy hook included, and Bob’s drumming so creative and driving. Next up Lou’s “celebrate the void” begins mellow and guitar-trickle-y like a soft glow of soothing friendship, then all of a sudden speeds up in the middle FAST with beautiful echo-y guitar climbing and falling in arpeggio fashion and then all slows back a bit in the chorus again with lots of cool layers.
“follow the breath” a typical Jason fare sounding like a heavy deep southern kind of rock tune, layering of vocals in the chorus gives it incredible depth, with interesting guitar melodies throughout and hard-hitting quick and deep drumming rolls. Lou’s amazing “medicate” is really bright, with more of that lovely jangly echo-y guitar creating such a heavenly sound like angels, with such ethereally tranquilizing emotive singing especially in the chorus, an ever poetic melody traveling to a happy place, a feeling like falling in love, so sweet and warm, although not so sure if this song has anything to do with love. And then another wonderful Lou track – “see-saw” – a quieter but not so quiet subdued nugget, Bob’s drumming like pitter-patter, unobtrusive, muddily and shiny bass squeakiness and languishing guitar highlights, with a wealth of dynamic parts interlocking, the singing again in Lou’s quintessential heartwarming and catchy way, rife of feeling and sadness, and cool “blood troll” vocal layering.
“vacation” – once again giving us that deep heavy sound that’s so Jason, powerfully sludgy and rambunctious, like a kid, unpredictably bouncy and meandering. With “stunned” Jason presents a great crunchiness, faster, a deep darkness, not happy but happy, a tinge of depressive notes enveloping a godhead space, tiptoeing light at times, only to come back down hard to that drudge-y sound. Lou delivers “fool” with positive vibes, with a really trippy middle section, and real multi-layered section in the chorus. The drumming is subtler but so slick.
One of my favorites, Jason’s “raging river” delivers super-crunchy bass and guitar, amid a very catchy bouncy swinging melody, ominously dark, steady drumming wants to wrap you up in this one, soothes the soul. Like other Jason songs this has a tinge of southern country feel to me, not sure where these influences are coming from, but it really inhabits this warm soulful feeling. “sunshine” another beauty from Lou, is sparse trickle-y guitar renderings, with hefty fat reverberating bass, and sweet singing like a familiar soft blanket. Love the impressionistic guitar, like pointillistic gestures, and, pulsating bass threading a solid background.
Title track “act surprised” smashes you up with squeaky shiny bass, and flittering guitar into a rocking chorus, rolling and rapturous, with this loud, bold and wildly awesome schizophrenic guitar solo – falling easily into “battery” – a joyous bouncy underdog, with a jamming and blasting kind of ending. Lou’s “belief” – kind sounds like a lullaby, with Bob’s brilliant circular pocketed drumming sound creating a fullness and freshness, like a light dewy spring morning. Bob’s “leap year” easily my favorite track has this fun, weird repetitious dragging sound, is that a keyboard? going back and forth, clever and fast-paced, with a chucky-chuck and quick little guitar hook bit, and droning bass, all like a mountain troll and kind of Stonehenge-y sounding, creeping in and with a chorus so entertaining. It’s the best the way they sing “long leap year”!
Lou closes this flavorful album with “reykjavik” the perfect ending song, beholding a wicked monster of a chorus, deep and scary on “power” like parts in very early Sebadoh, and an expansive post-chorus with super great guitar styling melodies, and heartfelt singing. I’m crushing hard on this!!!
Saw Sebadoh last week in Montreal… Great show to say the least, I was wrapped up in 7th heaven, they are always amazing to me live, true princes of lo-fi indie rock!! This was the first show of the 2nd leg of their “Act Surprised” tour, a long wait of 6 years since their last release! It was a sweaty humid night, the crazy storms outside had subsided, but the club was still reeling in the hot wet sticky heat of a Montreal summer.
I arrived at Bar Le Ritz somewhere in the early to mid-portion of opener, Eleanor Friedberger. I was standing near the back, leaning on the merch pool table, trying to meld to the crowd and club vibes and take in the music. I liked Eleonor’s style, she was quirky and cute, played a white little organ switching between that and a guitar. I didn’t know her music or that of the Fiery Furnaces, but I liked what I heard and mentally noted to myself to check more of it out.
As soon as Eleanor ended, a pathway to the spot I’d been eyeing from back suddenly opened up and so I forged ahead and claimed it. I was near the front on the right side wall. I could have got closer and in hindsight probably should have right away because as soon as Sebadoh started playing, an immensely weirdly tall guy stood almost completely in my line of sight of Lou, so so typical, and although I could see Jason pretty well if I moved my head to the side, I couldn’t see Bob whatsoever. Besides the fact that I’m short and benefit from being in front because of this, I also always feel like I’m missing out on the raw power and excitement when I’m not flush with the stage. I’m most in my element when I am close or at the front of any show. It’s where I belong, where I feel the happiest, and can enjoy the show to the fullest amount possible.
The first set of songs were all new from “Act Surprised”. I had heard a bit of the new record earlier that day. I have to say the songs are amazing, and are in true Sebadoh fashion, a mixture of quiet and intense, from Jason and Lou’s signature styles, reminiscent of earlier material, I was feeling in love of these new nuggets of joy. And played live… so impressive and powerful! I kick myself for not having cash on me to buy the record at the show…my one regret of the night, for sure.
Sebadoh pack a heavy punch, the sound coming out of their amps was so loud and pulsating, which contrasted greatly with the quiet but nice vibe in between songs and Lou’s and Jason’s little stories and banter. Lou talked about going up to a lake north of Montreal with his family and friends a few years ago and he couldn’t remember the name, so people screamed out names like “Mont Tremblant!”, “Ste-Agathe-des-Monts” but he wasn’t really validating those names, he really didn’t seem to know or recognize the town name, but mentioned how weird it was that there was a Santa Claus village there in July and that 60-year-old men in Quebec wear studded leather hats, and although they live only 5 hours south of here it’s very different and that is quite an amazing thing – and he’s so right when you think about it.
Getting back to the music, Sebadoh’s playing was super tight, roarous and cathartic, with dashes of astounding guitar noodling by Jason, Bob’s pounding of skins creatively and ruthlessly, and Lou’s thoughtful ease and earnestness coming through, masterfully letting loose on his 12 string. One thing I adore about Sebadoh is the switching of instruments, which Jason and Lou did, as they asked the audience if there was a French way to say “switcheroo”. When I saw Sebadoh years ago with Eric Gaffney at Maxwells in Hoboken, NJ, they all switched instruments which was very entertaining too. This time around Jason’s guitar string broke on his second switcheroo turn and as he picked up a second guitar Lou advised him that he wasn’t going to like playing it since he had put heavier strings on it and tuned it down, so Jason funnily said thanks to the audience and promptly left the stage and Bob followed – which I thought was a joke and kind of weird and a very unclimactic way to end a performance, especially because Lou stayed onstage and fixed the guitar, talking all the while to the audience, and then when Jay and Bob returned they said it was actually their encore. It was peculiar and kind of confusing but the crowd was nice and laughed along as the band encouraged a pseudo encore applause. And then they did a few more old songs. The ever beautiful classic, Brand New Love, a sure heartfelt favorite of mine, was the last song and like a parting gift to the crowd, and I wanted the feeling and the show to continue but then they left the stage after it was done, in a true end, a climax to end all climaxes and although lots of cheering for a real encore ensued the club put on the music and it was all over just like that. Great show despite these funny mix-ups but I guess that’s what you get at a Sebadoh show. Been a serious fan of theirs since the early 90s…I’m still riding the show high wave and can’t wait to see them AGAIN!♥♥♥ – Samia
Red Mass are dutifully exercising their art collective’s mission with this full-length release of 12 songs, each imbued with a unique vibe lending to this idea of fellow musicians around the world coming together in a sublime way to create art and music. I am immediately taken back to 80s trance-y slow darkwave beats in songs like God’s House and Crooked and electro sounding Something Horrible, whereas a song like Show Me the Money and Dark Days are a more 60s jangly precursor to garage psyche with an overall ambiance that’s subtle, dark and mysterious, sounding to me like very early Pink Floyd. Zoo Face is a quirky tale of a tune that builds and surprises at nearly every turn, Fight-or-flight is a fun punk ditty with more techno-y beats and creative interplay of percussion and Terrorizer is super powerful intense heavy and distorted techno-y dark dance wave trance. Experiments in ambient concepts and sounds can be heard in Riots in Paradise and US vs Them. Saturn is a new version from their 2009 EP which is cleaner but whipped up in a bouncy seductive basket co-sung by Hannah Lewis. I love the God House (Edit) at the end, a version for the dance clubs, and a nice way to end this full circle, as well as putting me in a total reminiscent goth mood for the rest of the day.
The Jackets – Queen of the Pill (Voodoo Rhythm Records 2019)
Wow – some serious mean fuzz happening here! Crazy wild garage punk that’ll thrill, chill and fulfill you! Produced by King Khan and mixed and mastered by Jim Diamond (White Stripes). A Swiss band, The Jackets are exciting and playful, with the best catchy tunes soaked in a dark, magnetic and mysterious, albeit hopping and upbeat vibe. With the first track, Dreamer, right off the bat you hear Jack Torera’s amazing powerful vocals, so deep and so different, which accompanies beautifully the groovy sludge fuzz fest surrounding her. What About You is total fast up-tempo revving motion with the chorus just exuding fun and pleasure all over. Steam Queen is more of a down and dirty groove tune getting situated, settling in, to the continuous fuzz onslaught. Move On feels super lively, fun lyrics, with little extra feels so slick, suave, and shiny throughout. Don’t Leave me Alone spirals deep down in the depths of darkness, with a burning unrelenting urgency while Queen of the Pill, the title track, is an insane wild mayhem of unstoppable energy and expansive parts that open up like a flower. Floating Alice is a creepy slow and quiet interlude of swanky, mesmerizing, kaleidoscopey, hypnotic, intricate jangly guitar and mellow bass and drumming. Losers Lullaby is a garage punk hip beat fun ride, that makes you feel like dancing and going nuts, containing all elements of a sexy, thrashy, fuzz laden, and a special love for the layered vocals in the last chorus. Nearing the end of the album and no winding down in sight! Deeper Way is some serious business, deep in layers, so blast this one loud. It’s like the zenith, the peak, a reckoning, moment of no return, succumbing to ultimate devilishness. Last track, Be Myself ends this feast on a positive, energetic, high, total party tune, groove.
Mike Krol – Power Chords (Merge 2019)
Another amazing record by Mike Krol! Oh my god….it’s sooooooo good!!! This masterpiece of an album starts with a flare-up of distortion and noise, and in comes Power Chords, like the song says, with a talking intro of sorts, revving up, then full on ballad-y infused punk wall of sound with sweet guitar pangs and Mike’s wistful, so wistful singing.
What’s the Rhythm emits a cool hollow sound of drumming, tearful lamenting and strumming, with a steady groovy beat throughout, and layers of teasing guitar changeups, an affronting chorus, then bam! full on assault into An Ambulance, with its super sweet melodic hook, so beautiful, that’s all heavy, thrashy, poetic, heartfelt, heart-wrenching goodness, the catchiest chorus, all wrapped up and ready for you to love it so. Little Drama gets things serious with an explosion and that’s how it hits you, with its charged up heavy punk attack, a fuck you guitar-itude riff blast, throttling drums, blissful chorus, and Mike’s winey passionate singing just gets me to the core!!! Yeah!!!!!! Next up a smoother onslaught with the bittersweet and emotive Left for Dead, then a quieter somewhat tamer, but oh so honeyed, profoundly earnest and heavenly Blue and Pink. Another angelic song in I Wonder, with paired and lofty pitched vocals of the highest order. Wasted Memory, another trailblazer, a unique ensemble, with a 50s vibe in the chorus, dosing us with hand claps, catchy hooks, and 80s dreamy and melancholy keys.
Nothing to Yell About is a total dirty grungy punk flow, with extra emotive vocals, exciting layers, and a strange guitar buzzing shredding distortion solo. Arrow in My Heart is grounded, slower, kind of slo-mo, dripping dredge-y anamorphic lava, deeply soulful to the roots of creation. The End is boosted back up to the ethereal space of happy, unworldly expanses, with Mike’s creative emotive singing, which is loving in its purest form, a perfect place to be.
Superchunk – What a Time To Be Alive (Merge 2018)
Superchunk are one of my favorite bands. Their songs are always joyful and beautiful to me, making my sad moods happy again. The songs have this positive exciting energy and many intricate parts blending into a perfect mesh of lovely sounds that make me want to jump up and down, or obsessively tap my feet or fingers, to the rolling and rocking grooves that so consume me to the core, making me feel good to be alive in a blissful state of enjoying their music.
What a Time To Be Alive is a masterpiece of all these things. A great gift of all the signature Superchunk sounds, evocative emotions and intricacies that are everything they are. Just listening to Mac’s vocals, albeit heated lyrics, of soothing cute child-like tonality just makes me feel like a carefree kid swinging away with abandon. All the elements of Superchunk, Mac’s sensitive lyrics, passionate vocals and vigorous guitar, Laura’s subtle and groovy bass lines, Jim’s expressive guitar sound and Jon’s high-powered drumming converge to create a perfect harmony and frequency in this universe.
Flash House – Brown Sauce (2017)
A quartet out of London, UK, these guys dish out some good old fashioned crazy mayhem, blood-curdling heavy, mega fast straight up blistering rock’n’roll! But when I say heavy and fast I really mean it!! I’m talking intensely powerful and breakneck speed, and distortion-y loud and pretty hellish, deep scary, angry vocals. You’ll also hear pummeling double drums out to kick someone’s ass, and grungy dirty bass and wicked guitar riffs and solos that are intricate, hair-raising, albeit soothing (to a metalhead).
The Routes – In This Perfect Hell
I’m immediately impressed by the sleek look of this record sleeve, highly minimal and sophisticated, in two of my favorite shades – magenta and black. And so it’s not so surprising that what’s revealed audibly on the inside fits the glossy outside. This record starts off dark and sexy with Thousand Forgotten Dreams, with a classic 60s garage fuzz sound, drenched in the slow and hypnotic. In the second track, Something Slipped Through My Window, lots of masterful elements converge with a mouthful of lyrics, kind of told like a story, flowing perfectly in its plodding trajectory. Peeling Face is more upbeat with sprightly organ and quick shifts, cute hooks and a joyful melody throughout. In No Permanence, a thin and sliver-y guitar noodles along with a fuzz backdrop and circular swirls turbulent-ing this groove tune. Drugging down to the depths of evil, in a lair of foreboding is Worry, while Housework In My Head feels creepy. I like the continuous guitar echo that resounds in Oblivious, and In Years Gone By I yearn with the softness, quaintness, and innocence, perfect for the sad love of a breakup, intonates like soft tears flowing. Just dirty and heavy, Perfect Hell, terminates this fuzz ride.
Honah Lee – 33 On 45
Super energetic emphatic power punk rock pop from Trenton, New Jersey. Infectious, catchy hooks and chock full of youthful angsty attitude. I feel excited by this because it has succeeded in creating a happy and warm feeling in me. I feel certain it can help to bring you out of dark corners. A great pick-me-up to get the day started or if you want to feel punchy about things. Screeching and screaming with lots of heart and soul. Favorite tracks for me: Time Flies has great a intro and progression of intensity and depth, Driftin because it’s got this heartfelt melody that melts me, R2DIM2 is punk as shit and I like the distorted vocals. Great cover art too!
Crystal Robots (2017)
You got to hear this newly released record by Crystal Robots, a highly talented NYC rock band featuring Daniel Harnett on vocals and rhythm guitar, actor Kevin Corrigan on bass, Ahmed Kharem on drums and Richard Martin on lead guitar, keyboards and percussion as well producer and master-er of this eloquently sleek eponymous album. Crystal Robots’ style is reminiscent of 80s post punk with amazingly dynamic energy, and compelling parts and transitions throughout the songs, all written by Daniel. The artwork is eerie with a cool sense of mystery, design and photography execution by Jeremy Van Eyk. On the material itself “All the Buttons” is super catchy and rolls around you with its progressive rocking intensity, stops and starts, and sliding guitars as Daniel showcases his vast vocal range. “Hate Most of It” is lyrically clever, friendly and straightforward, rock’n’roll. Other songs, like “Sleepy Thing” and especially “Nonstop Engine” have a real California 80s hardcore punk angry and edgy sound with screeching, and fastslick shredding guitars. Kevin’s bass playing is so fluid, smooth and effortlessly executed. In “Slip in”, another high powered ball of fire with its 50s twist, you can feel the shiny, crunchy and fat groovy bass picking, and whirl yourself around in it. The pace on the album slows down with “Back from the Sea” with its thumping, entrenched groove, refreshing soundscape floating on iridescent waves, and calming positive vibes in a reggae kind of breezy rhythm. I like how “Please Don’t Freak Out” is funny, uncomplicated, evasive but at the same time secretly intricate, hearing something new with each listen. “Duck and Run” is deep, slow and meandering with a gothic spooky feel. Sets a languid mood almost kaleidoscope carousel sounding with an eastern kind of guitar flair. “In the Presence of Royal Nothing” is playful with its sort of dignified marching melody. A deeply layered and epic gem can be found in “Monday in the City” with the instrumental break engulfing you like a great novel in music form. The ending track “Love Comes First” wraps you in a warm blanket, starting creepy like, with glossy sounding steps and heartfelt moments of happiness in a sphere of unending beatific perfection.
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (1997)
From the opening I’m immediately soothed by the soft billowy feel of Return to Hot Chicken. Listening to Moby Octopad I’m loving the groovy bass line and beats interlaced with caressing vocals, gradual increasing layers, deepening it’s grip. The repetitious piano thing in the middle is so interesting and off-kilter. Perfect travel music, undulating about. Sugarcube is faster, upbeat with a layering of distortion-y heavy guitar, love the lyrical guitar meandering. Vocals are short, to the point. Killer guitar solo with droning tones reminds me of early Dinosaur Jr. – a quintessential indie sound that’s filled with hope and joy. Damage is slow, murky, languid, with layers of more distortion and echoes of sweet moments and fluttering movements, subtle and quiet, strange ephemeral sounds all amid a non-ceasing rhythm that sounds like seagulls flying over the ocean on a misty and foggy day. Deeper into movies has more distortion-y guitars droning on in the intro. Like a page in a book, turning, continuing the story of the previous songs. The vocals are in the back, lower, like an afterthought even though there’s a lot being said. The tempo is culminating to something reaching higher and higher. – Now before I continue describing these great songs I’ll say first that I like the song titles, they are clever. Also some part of my life at one time was immersed in 90s indie bands, like Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Pixies, Guided By Voices, (and still is) but I never heard Yo La Tengo back them even though I had great opportunity during my New Jersey years to become acquainted with their music and even the band members themselves. But now that I’m discovering them, I wish I knew their magic back then but I guess it just wasn’t my time for it, so I’ll accept that, but say now how much I am digging them totally!! – In Shadows you got Georgia’s soft tender voice, riffs creeping quietly in, so short and sweet. Stockholm Syndrome is up tempo, catchy, melodic, jangly, with a screeching guitar solo. The singing sounds a little like Neil Young. On Autumn Sweater the organ starts it off, then a rumbling volcanic groove during the chorus, with funky bongo drums and a variety of percussion sounds gives it nice levels. Green Arrow is like porch lounging on a hot summer night with the crickets and darkness, amid guitar soundscape sounds give it a very Hawaiian-esque quality on a summer isle calm and relaxing. The Lie and How we Told it is tiptoeing light with amazing melodic layering and beautiful fluid guitar just flowing along like a happy country river.
Mike Krol – albums Turkey (2015), Trust Fund (2013) and I Hate Jazz (2011)
My new reason to sit at home and just listen to music. I Love all three of Mike Krol’s records. I’ve found my state of perfect happiness in these things. Amazingly infectious fast energy of garage-y power pop-y little punk and ballad ditties, melodious, emotively heart-wrenching with hot and nasel-y whiny vocals. Crunchy guitar, 3 chords, no nonsense master drumming, straight up, heavy bass, buzz-y sounding, punk as shit! Makes me want to scream and jump and down. I….can’t….take….it…..want to cry it’s so beautiful in its screechy sloppy smash-y keyboard-y way. All the songs are simple, short, brilliant. Very aesthetically pleasing to the ear. The best thing is my 16 year old daughter introduced me to this, so it appeals to both our generations. It’s great when your kid likes the same music as you! <3 Check him out on bandcamp. Some of my favorite songs are the sweet Red Minivan, the spooky Keith Moon, and the spunky La La La.
As a huge Jay Reatard fan I am so happy to see and hear this release surface of the Angry Angles by Alix Brown and Jay Reatard on Goner Records. I’m not going to get into the history or the story behind this release although there is one and you can read it elsewhere if you want, like here. As a person who was born to appreciate music such as that of the Angry Angles, its most primal beatific essence like a blood transfusion so desperately needed is welcome and loved like an old familiar friend stopping by for an overdue and appreciated visit. This posthumous gift of Jay Reatard’s genius is making my ears cry blissful and bittersweet tears for its sound is quintessential Jay circa Blood Visions mixed with Alix Brown’s alluring brassiness. I love it all but these are the songs that stand out for me. The 15th which is a sort of more heartfelt keyboard-y melodic pure 80s nostalgic (for me anyway) ballad. There’s subtler lighter version of Can’t Do it Anymore which is pleasant to cuddle up to. You Fell In is just…SO GOOD! In My Room sung by Alix has an eerie lurking creeping quality with a groovy bass line. Set in Stone is dark and beautiful. Apparent-Transparent is catchy as fuck! Things Are Moving has varying high and low vocals that Jay liked to do which makes me melt and is sooo appealing, and it’s also fast, melodic, and exciting. You Lied is a lot more garage-y, and You Call it Love has a sort of laid back late 70s feel to it. Thanks to the powers that be for releasing this just wondrous thing that it is!
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
So I was in a record store on Bernard street in Montreal flipping through used CDs when the store clerk puts this album on and he played it probably twice over during the time I was in the store. I had to ask the guy what he was playing as I found it to be truly infectious, with its super laid back fuzz groove putting me in a trance. Some time ago I had heard a song by Tame Impala before on the soundtrack to this indie movie I love called Before I Disappear, and at the time that song had propelled me to look into other songs by Tame Impala but I couldn’t find that elusive thumping groove again so kind of put them aside. But before the guy in the store told me what the record was I had a feeling it was them. What’s thrilling is finding some new music to get excited about. The way I describe it is stoner and shoe-gazer music mixed in one. But I can get a helluva lot more colorful because the sounds paint such vivid pictures, of orange sunburst sunsets on crystal blue seascapes. It’s the music of summer… and elephants. Yep, I think of big footed thick legged sloppy elephants too. Actually the first song I heard of theirs on the aforementioned movie soundtrack is actually called Elephant. It’s just the songs are so THICK sounding, with big fuzzy 60s guitar, stompy beats and muffled psychedelic distortion all about. There are lots of layers and lots going on that gives it a real rich sound, like the eerie cold echoing keyboards that keep popping up. So many great songs to choose from. Lucidity is amazing heaviness, a total rolling trance of a rhythm. Listen to this LOUD to get the full experience of the total nonstop power groove moments in songs like Expectation. All throughout the lyrics are so delightful, the singer’s voice is angelic and poetic, and creative melodies and trippy effects wrap you up in its warm bright sandy breezy goodness. You’ll feel like you are at the beach in the hot sun with the wind blowing and the waves splashing around you. The Bold Arrow of Time is what souls are made of. Runaway Houses, City Clouds sounds like bees swarming, then later settling in a dreamy flowery meadow.
The Invaders is a riveting, must see, eye opener documentary, directed by Prichard Thomas Smith, and soundtrack produced by King Khan and Jack Oblivion. Its seamless smooth narrative conveys the story of the Memphis, Tennessee virtually unknown Black Power group, The Invaders, and the struggles that they and the black community of Memphis faced concerning poverty, racism, and the poor conditions of sanitation workers, and the involvement of Martin Luther King Jr. who helped to mobilize their efforts, in the time and events just before his assassination. There’s amazing footage of that time period and quality, eloquently voiced interviews with the founding organizers of the Invaders and other community leaders during that time. The soundtrack beautifully orchestrated by King Khan, for which songs appear on his singles, Children of the World, Never Hold On, America Goddam, and Hurtin’ Class – are rich in their deeply soulful lament depicting the troubles and sadness with an ever lilting and funky authentic 60s R’n’B sound, with King Khan’s smooth euphonious hymns, and passionate cries of those hurting times.
Words by William S. Burroughs
Jasper Hood – Vox, Theramin & Bass
King Khan – Vox, Guitar & Drums
John Boy Adonis – Drums
Erin Spits – Synths on “Erased World”
*Old style punk ( I have to say “old style” for all those who consider punk to be along the lines of bands like Rancid, Nofx – that’s not this!! for cryin’ out loud!)
Candy Prankster – The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey
Candy Prankster is a psychedelic prism of 60’s jangly, trippy, catchy pop rock tunes wrapped in a cozy blanket, floating upon a marshmallow cloud in an expanding universe. Gerry Alvarez’s voice sounds very comfy and mellow, like a sweetly dreamy instrument backed by a powerful wall of energetic sound of droning fuzz guitar, steady hypnotic rhythms that takes you on a kaleidoscope journey through space and time. The easy flowing cadence of these melodic songs, like in “Heaven”, and “In the Garden” are a refreshing interlude for a carefree mind in a happy place from the sometimes chaotic noise of life’s drudgery. “Open Up Your Mind” is amazing with its on the verge, opening up to something exciting quality. Musically it’s very wonderful, the guitar sounds just drool with intensity and passion. Songs like “The Trail” have a quieter and delicate beginning but with great guitar in the background, fluid and lyrical, a free flowing creative happy guitar effect noodling like a zigzagging meandering feeling and melody throughout most of the song that brings forth a good feeling like being enveloped in molasses. “Fly by Night” has lots of fat and crunchy distortion power chords. It’s easy to deeply connect to Gerry Alvarez’s musical trip. The more listens you start to feel at one with it, with its mesmerizing beat, transcending with songs like “It’s Only Just A Dream” a jewel of a song, shiny and pure, and with slow creeping steps of Gerry’s hypnotic and trance like singing throughout, that brings forth a sense of completeness.
Omega Tea Time – The Gerry Alvarez Odyssey
Omega Tea Time’s “A Carnival of Life” is stripped and clean but wide and open and inviting and consuming you, with a slow progression and clear and crisp vocals filled with lovingness. “Cosmic Weaving” has lots of good layers of psychedelic guitar sounds, with nice pauses and drumming. “Temple on the Hill” is more upbeat but as Gerry starts singing the key is kind of mysterious sounding with a sitar-y flair and the drums are grooving clear and light and colorful. “Middle Way” is like a classic rock song, happy and bright sounding. “I Hear the Wind” has such soothing drawn out vocals, a mellow day free flowing chorus, with a relaxing rhythm, non-urgent feeling like a lazy happy breeze. The feeling overall and in the end is immensely calming and peaceful. It’s music to listen to as you walk along the path of enlightenment. These words can barely explain the feelings that exists inside the music. Listening has become a meditation like I’m meditating and listening in the here and now. The experience is sublime.