Black Time “Message From Control Tower” Rehab Records
Keeps getting better. Glad I didn’t give up on this band with the first few releases (“I Spit on Your Lifestyle” and “Beat of the Traps” singles) as they all felt limp. The four songs on this single are strong-armed serrated rock. I dig “Sirens” with drum machinations and Suicide repetitive bassiness all whipped into a frenzy with sweet’n’sour feedback drenched geetar howling. These actually feel like written songs where the earlier stuff felt like exercises in making noise.
Black Time “Fever” Trakmarx
Now in mono! How many singles can they release before turning into a self-repeating mess? Lots more we hope. Still indebted to the swag brought to the table by Link Wray hisself, it’s all a mess of magnificent midrange madness. Lemme guess…all first takes, right? Please, keep it that way. Insert that lets you meet the band and know their favorite foods and smells and books and all that dorky stuff from the backs of Brit Invasion records. Limited to 250 copies and it was a bitch to get (label was only excepting bank drafts in UK pounds and no PayPal…who’s the genius behind that?) Had to trade a Muldoons X-mas single for this and the first two Fitzrovian singles. Beginning to think I pulled one over on that dude who works at Rough Trade.
Dan Melchior and Das Menace “Your Lousy Floor” Bug House
Figured I’d counter some of the semi-dated content of this here fiasco by reviewing some records that aren’t even out yet. Nabbed one of these visiting the record pressing plant. Title track git/tambourine combo sounds like Danny boy is a little tired of the DIY touring. I don’t want to sleep on any floors either Dan. Hurts your back and they always have cats, don’t they? First three tracks are fairly average Delta-blues brought without much new added to the mix. Dan’s voice is a curveball that adds intrigue where it would otherwise be fairly middling. Final track (and man, this single feels like it lasts forever…I’m against 33rpm singles in case my biographer calls) is uptempo fuzz punk instrumental that rewards you for making it through the three tracks packed full of forgettable. Why not more of this? Not my bag, but wouldn’t necessarily tell you folks to ignore it. Just see if you can, you know, get a free copy from the pressing plant.
Figures of Light “It’s Lame” Norton
Reissue of hyper-limited New Jersey single from ’72. I’d lump this in with cats like Simply Saucer, George Brigman and all those who dug the Stooges and Velvets but didn’t really manage (or want to) turn it into late 70’s punk. A simpler, more innocent time where two chords and “lame” were being really out there and sticking it to the man. Would not sound out of place on a “Back From the Grave” comp and “It’s Lame” more than reminds of Mogen David and the Grapes of Wrath “Don’t Want Ya No More” also conveniently reissued on 7” by Norton. “I Jes Wanna Go To Bed” is tremelo’d Diddley shuffle with loser lyrics like “I don’t wanna be well fed/I don’t wanna be well read/I don’t wanna wind up dead/I jes wanna go to bed.” Truer words have never been spoken. Oh to have seen them live, watch them destroy television sets onstage (in 1970! take that Wendy O), I’m sure they were flush with all kindsa ladies. Campus geniuses who stopped way to early. Recommended for anyone who has a clue.
Tall Birds “Internalize” Sub Pop
Oh a new Sub Pop single…what an amazing way to be introduced to a band. It’s the way I fell in love with Beachwood Sparks, Hazel, the Fastbacks, the Headcoats, the Gories and about every other sweet-tits band who iced a slab with SP. And you can now add Tall Birds to the list. I punked out and waited for a promo copy from the label in exchange for promo copies of Cass’ Go single. If I would’ve known, I honestly would’ve paid full market price. Are Tall Birds hipsters? Like Tapes’n’Tapes or Cold War Kids? Do I care? “Internalize” calls to mind a more syncopated, indie’d up Greg Cartwright jam like “Yer Love is a Fine Thing” with nutty guitar soloing throughout the whole damn thing. Back cover shows a guitar player wearing a Sonic Youth “Confusion is Sex” t-shirt and I can’t help but wonder if it is a conscious homage to the back cover of the self-titled Mudhoney album where Mr. Arm is wearing the same shirt and thusly ranking as supreme god of cool in my book for nigh on ten years. B-side “The Sky is Falling” is downtempo perfection (and the entire single would be too if some dill cheese didn’t give this thing a small center hole…come on Sub Pop, I can usually count on you). I can see Pitchfork getting really into this band and that’s disappointing, if only because approximately .45433 seconds after that happens they will become inescapable. Can you let us keep just this one Mr. Pitchforkman, please? Hurry and go buy this before you hate them without even hearing them.
Nothing People “Problems” S-S Records
This review will only be written in the time it takes to listen to both sides of the single, starting…NOW!
”Twinkie Defense” is chugging standard Berry/Dolls progression…back forth, back forth…ah there’s the bridge, there it is again, I’m really hoping for a solo soon. The phasing works well on these headphones (I feel like opening and closing my mouth to mimic the effect) AND THE SOLO! But for only about 2 seconds.
“4 Miles High” and the panning with the drums is beginning to wear on me. Noodling, noodling, a trumpet? Finally, a bassline takes control. Reminds me of Mr. Epp and the Calculations…specifically “Mohawk Man.” Should I be paying attention to the lyrics? “4 miles high but still not far enough away.” And fades out without ever establishing much.
“Systems Failure” sounds like more Mr. Epp. Is that too obscure a reference? Shouldn’t be…I love that record. I guess Nothing People are from the middle of nowhere California. They get points for being weirdos without the benefit of existing in a thriving metropolis where weird is commonplace.
“I Can’t Find a Monkey” is where it’s at. Best song on here by far. It’s full and throbbing on a punky little cramp. Comes with a free pack of matches. Be careful, with a scorcher like “…Monkey” and kindling like the other three tracks and there’s bound to be some combustion.
Vilently Ill “Where is the Next Wave?” Peer Pressure Zombie
I don’t even know where South Haven, Michigan is, but apparently it’s only 866 more higher than my zip code. South Haven is also where one Andrew Lersten, aka Vilently Ill, rents PO Box# 501. Quick pseudo-hardcore with drum machine with song titles like “D.U.I. Not D.I.Y.”, “Steal From Your Boss” and “Lame-Ass Poppunk Shit.” I think we’ve finally found Tesco Vee. Wait…he wasn’t missing? Is he dead? Do people still dress as him for Halloween in Lansing? I’m overwhelmed with a complete sense of “fun” from this single. 13 songs in all, condensed to the point of no repetition. I love it. I’m gonna send this guy some Mail Art. He’ll either totally love it or mail me back a box of turds. Either way, I’ll still be happy…probably even more with the turds.
The Strate Coats “Bummer Bitch” Hook or Crook
Purely average mid-nineties garage punk from a teenage Greg Ashley, later to be main man of the Gris Gris. Like the Donnas or any other Rip Off Records Cali stuff. There’s nothing overtly wrong with this release, but I can guarantee you that I will have no desire to ever spin this again. And that’s the bummer…singles like this probably occupy more of my collection than I’d care to admit. But I still feel like I need to hold on to them, you know…just in case. It’s the inner archivist inside me that sooner or later needs to be crushed by the dude inside who just wants to exist outside of the clutter. Can someone arrange a meeting between the two?
The Strokes “You Only Live Once” Rough Trade
The only reason to review a chart-reaching 7” release like this is for the non-album cut b-side. And here we have a cover of Marvin Gaye’s untouchable “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)” complete with Eddie Vedder and Josh Homme (Temple of the Dog and Kyuss, respectively) guesting. Um, waiter…check please. And still yet another example of the Strokes configuring some random vomit to a 7”x7” template and calling it a sleeve design. Puh-leeze.