This album got all kinds of hype from 'those in the know' (The AV Club, Pitchfork, etc) plus it's fairly recent so I thought this made it ripe for checking out. It's hard coming into an album like this without much more of a frame of reference than that, so I had to keep reminding myself to listen to it over and over again before I passed judgement. When I first listened to it, I didn't really get it, even actually disliked it. The first couple of songs made me think of a really watered down Tame Impala or Wolfmother.
I always fucking hated that mariachi music when I was a kid. It made me think of old fat guys in those stupid Three Amigos clothes getting all up in everyone's grills at American restaurants, pretending not to know English so they don't have to go away when people start shouting out "Fuck off we're trying to eat!"
Anyway, I'm much older now. I like westerns, especially spaghetti westerns, and I like eating at Mad Mex and I also enjoy drinking Coronas, so I think I'm now suitably equipped to enjoy mariachi music.
Recently I've done a lot of research and spent a fair bit of money in order to finally get some respectable music listening gear. I like many other people had sunk into the lazy apathetic default style of music listening that befalls the best of us. Listening in the car, using in-ear headphones on my phone, through shitty computer speakers, or even sometimes through my TV. I feel ashamed but I always had a plan to fix it, and the results are simply amazing. I can not understate how good having competent Hi-Fi gear sounds.
Looking back, I've always had a hodge-podge of okay gear kicking about. My dad's old B&W speakers paired with whatever old amp I could buy from cash converters as a cash deprived Uni student for example.
Continuing on from last week, my #49 is Bad Religion's mid-'90s album The Gray Race. I'd already heard two songs from the album back when I was a teenager - the singles Punk Rock Song and A Walk. I love both of these songs a lot. So I was in the mood for some '90s punk stuff and I thought I'd finally get around to what had been in the back of my mind for a good ten years or more - checking out the album these two corkers came from.
I gotta say... I wasn't impressed! The only other Bad Religion album I've listened to is The Empire Strikes First, and I thought it was pretty good, so I was surprised to find The Gray Race kind of boring and repetitive.
Hello all! I have decided to broaden my musical horizons by ensuring that I listen to a new album every week for the next 50 weeks. These are basically album reviews but I'm not restricting myself to newly released stuff, they just have to be albums I've never heard before. Today's number, #50, is Civilian - the third album from Baltimore two-piece indie band Wye Oak. It's not the sort of music I neccessarily listen to a lot, but that's the point of broadening one's musical horizons, yeah? I'll listen to any suggestions for future entries in this list, but I reserve the right to ignore them (lol).
Wye Oak have an interesting set up...
This album has been out for a little while now. Since it was released I've listened to it a whole bunch of times, and I'm constantly changing my mind on whether I like it or not. On one hand I feel like White Walls have definitely put out a worthwhile album that I have enjoyed listening to. Sonically, this shit is unreal and I am totally in love with what they are doing. They've tapped into the sounds of bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr, and are producing new noise that is youthful and fresh. The tunes are extremely dense and there is so much going on. The band use swirling textures and layers of guitar fuzz to paint vibrant pictures, creating songs that are buzzing, energetic and pretty damn catchy.
On the flipside, the vocals sorta bug me with this element of brattiness existing that I find fairly off-putting. No matter what is going on with a song musically, the words mostly always stumble along in a dull, nasal, monotone whine, and it kinda drags the record down a bit. They do change it up with the second last track "Accept/Regret" that injects some dynamic and urgency in the vocal delivery, and it definitely is one of the albums better moments. I get that they're going for that lazy and laconic slacker thing, and it does work on a few tunes, but on the whole I feel that the boring, emotionless vocals sit funny and distract from all the other cool shit going on. Sometimes while listening I can't help but think that the record would have been better off if a few of these songs were instrumentals, as that is clearly White Walls strength.
LP/CD released on Poison City Records
I guess I would describe this as Mexican-influenced garage fuzz armageddon. It's a bit like a mix of whacked out '60s satanism and punkish garage-rock, there's almost something evil going on underneath it all.
Anyway, Mesa Cosa are a five-piece band from Melbourne, and this 10" EP is their second release (after a demo casette last year). I love this line from their media spiel...
The Infernal Cakewalk EP captures Mesa Cosa’s “the Stooges walk into a Tequila bar” live attitude in a “hey, we put out a record!” kind of way
LOL, great stuff.
I listened to this a lot over the last week, and whilst I'm not really a fan of lo-fi production or distorted vocals, I definitely got a real smash-it-out party vibe from it. The best track is easily the first one (666), it just sounds a lot clearer than some of the looser later tracks and it really pumps in a great sing-along way. The other highlights are the songs Shoplifter (which seems to cheekily borrow from The Romantics' What I Like About You) and Hijo Del Mal.
There's some saxaphone and a few other things happening in the songs but as the EP aims for a pseudo-'authentic' '60s record sound some of the layers unfortunately get a little lost in the high-end chaos (the emphasis seems to be on crash cymbals and guitar). I get the impression that this would be a great band to see live, and if you're a collector of garage rock band vinyl then this is a must.
In early/mid 2011 I stumbled upon a link to the album “American Weekend” by Waxahatchee, the solo project of Katie Crutchfield (the vocalist/guitarist of now defunct pop punk band P.S. Eliot). Being a P.S. Eliot fan I downloaded the album… I put it on my iPod and then kinda forgot about it. One day at work a few weeks later I came across it, started to listen and was absolutely flawed. For the rest of that day I had the album on repeat, and am pretty sure I listened to nothing else for the rest of the week either. This shit is incredible! Now what is probably almost a year on, American Weekend is seeing a proper release on Don Giovanni Records.
“American Weekend” is a very basic album in concept. There is no fancy production or anything like that… voice, guitar, a little piano, and a bunch of songs that have been recorded to tape on an 8-track. That may sound underwhelming, but this collection of songs truly is something else. The guitar is stripped back and raw, but the sweet reverb that drenches everything leads to the songs possessing a hauntingly beautiful quality. Katie’s words are something wonderful, unfolding like little stories… literary, personal and honest. The songwriting on offer here is exceptional. Definitely expect to see this featuring in peoples top record lists at the end of 2012.
LP/CD on Don Giovanni Records
Sydney hardcore band Nintendo Police (now known as N-Police) have returned with a new album after having not really existed for 11 years! The disc is offering ten tracks in total... a few re-worked, re-recorded versions of older songs, and a swag of new material. The tunes are super inspired and super great. The album isn't just hardcore as there is a bunch of interesting, playful shit going on with different styles and ideas being thrown around, heck even the artwork is fantastic. Standout tracks are definitely the title track "Artificial Suns" which is the band at their most straight up punk rock, and the instrumental album closer "Bladerunner" which is the band at their most creative. The lyrics also deserve special mention. I've always thought of vocalist Dave Seet as a genius having read his poetry and other writings released in various zines over the years, and that same genius most definitely applies to N-Police lyrics. His words come across as so effortless, but at the same time are potent as heck, smart and when combined with the rest of the wicked, charged jams on this disc the whole effort paints crazy murals in my mind.
(This review is late.)
CD out on Diamond Industries & Serpent's Nest (You can order the disc from Paper Bag Music)
A Li’l Lost 1992-1994 is an LP that collects all recorded works from The Gr’ups, a rockabilly/punk rock band that existed from 1992-94 in Berkley, California. They played energetic, theatrical, humorous punk rock that is super catchy. A reoccurring theme with the band is the reworking of fairy tales, which they put a politicized/social spin on. Reading up on the band, it was originally intended that all their songs would revolve around fairy tales and children's stories, but that didn’t last and they just started writing killer punk rock tunes.
Members at one time or another included Jesse Lucious (from Blatz and The Criminals), Anna Joy (from Blatz and Cypher In The Snow), Kamala (from Cringer and Kamala & the Karnivores), Matt Freeman (from Operation Ivy and Rancid), Dan-yella Dyslexia (from Cypher In The Snow, THE THORNS OF LIFE, and HBO’s The L Word), as well as some other folks.
This exists in a press of 200 green vinyl test pressings. It comes with a download code that lets you download not only the tracks on the LP, but also a live recording of a Gilman St Gr’ups show.
LP on Recess.