26 January, 2016

Bizarre Coincidence of the Day (After Close Edition)

Yeah yeah yeah, I know I said SD&A is dead last week but the thing is that I've been immersing myself in Latin culture lately for the erroneous prospect of becoming functionally bilingual. Much like I never exercised but factory work kept me buff, I figure if I go to the marqueta every weekend for mis cacahuates y ajos - chinga te, pendejo - I'll eventually have the grasp on a sixth grade level of Spanish that I wouldn't get from studying. Thus, I subscribed to Mitú, the site that brought you those "Cholos Try" videos.
Today, between mail runs (I have an office job now, don't know if I ever told you) I took a quiz to discover my Latina Diva Spirit Animal. ¿Por que no? You'll take some Facebook quiz over what kind of cake you'd poop if you could poop cake, don't tell me shit about having a Latina Diva Spirit Animal and the quiz I need to take to discover that.
Anyway, my results came back that Latina Diva Spirit Animal - Chinga te. - is Gloria Trevi.
I know nothing about Gloria Trevi.
Naturally, I look up Gloria Trevi to see who my Latina Diva Spirit Animal - Chupas mis huevos. - is and this is the first song I hear, "Doctor Psiquiatra" from 1989's ¿Qué Hago Aqui?:
From the goddamned get go, I think, This sounds like "Baby Doll" from Tapeheads. Really, cold check it:
Here's the thing: It's easy to say, "Holy shit, Charlie! It's a rip off! Wait! ... When did what come out first?"
Well, Tapeheads was released in 1988 and, again, ¿Qué Hago Aqui? was released in 1989 but consider this: First of all, it takes a long time to make a movie. Whenever I see the release year of a movie, I consider it as having been made the year before that. Secondly, I have this notion, probably super unfounded, that pop records like ¿Qué Hago Aqui? take just as much time to make because yeah, something something In Utero was made in ten days or something but something something Mariah Carey blah blah blah Beyonce something Phil Spector. I don't know how to make a pop record, is what I'm saying. But there're these people who just write songs all day, like it's their job or something, their called songwriters. Chances are that "Doctor Psiquiatra" could've been sitting in a stack of papers on somebody's piano for a while long while, perhaps even before Devo wrote the Cube Squared song, "Baby Doll". I don't know, I wasn't there for any of this. Maybe "Doctor Psiquiatra" was written specifically for ¿Qué Hago Aqui?, maybe the songwriter saw Tapeheads and thought, "¡Maldito, eso es el gancho!" Maybe Devo heard some early version of "Doctor Psiquiatra" and thought, "Damn, that's the hook!" Or maybe it's just a bizarre coincidence that two songs that entered public consciousness within a year of each other were possibly written around the same time and sound alike, at least in the hook. I don't know, something something something "Eighties" blah blah blah "Come As You Are" yada yada yada not the same anyway fuck it.

19 January, 2016

Taggged S01

This is the the 2750th post at SD&A. This blog is dead, available only for record reviews.
Goodnight.
It's been a good run but now it's time to put this bullshit to bed.

13 September, 2015

SUGAR BALLS!

Just a quiet jab at cutesy hipster food truck culture.

30 August, 2015

Recent Love (Them Fucking Canadians Edition)

Big Knife Little Knife, Too Many Words
Yes, I've been sleeping on writing a review for this because that's what happens when you work sixty to seventy hours a week. But, I assure you that I've not been sleeping on listening to this. Why? Because this is absitively, posilutely one of the best goddamned records of the year. I mean that, I really do. This is a record that makes you air drum against your wishes, this is a record that makes you want to drop obscene amounts of money on their goddamned t-shirts. This is a record you can have cocktails over, discussing politics whilst chain-smoking; cook dinner to for that dinner party you're hosting; listen to on road trips to college town music festivals while you sit in the passenger seat and illustrate your latest metafictional webcomic in your sketchbook; this is a record you can fuck to. This is smart rock 'n' roll, anxious rock 'n' roll, and exhilarating rock ‘n’ roll all in one package. Short version: Great rock ‘n’ roll. Just three people banging out some tunes; you never have to worry about what they’re going to do next, you can trust that it’s going to be as awesome as what they just did.
Seriously, this is a record you put on repeat and just fucking marvel at.
This is a record where you listen to it and wonder, “Why isn’t my band doing something this cool?”
This is a record you listen to and want to get your band on a bill with that band pron-to.
And if this unassuming little EP doesn’t grab you the way it grabs me, you have problems in your life that require immediate attention that I am not qualified to attend to. Simple as that, end of discussion.
Sure, “Suspensive Hyphen” kicks it off with a Sex Pistols-esque intro but it kicks that nonsense off to the side with the quickness and gets into some real shit. It’s uptempo, knocks your chest cavity a couple of times with heavy hammers, it’s a car chase for a couple bars and then turns into a dramatic crash replete with car flips. It practices an economy of progressions, going from this break-neck pacing to this beautiful little piece of drama of a waltz which... Cripes, did I just write that? Please forgive me. This record is easy to get swept up in. Especially when you’re trying to juggle writing a review, drink a cocktail of chartreuse and NOS, and play air drums at the same time.
“Circumlocution” starts off a little Gang of Four-ish, which is an immediate AOK in my book, and then the bass comes in all swirling and the drums just cut right to the goddamned quick with, “Hey. You know what? This is the beat, motherfuckers.” Just totally solid. Out of everything on this EP, this one is the one that reminds me most of Ann Arbor’s Javelins. Or were they from Detroit? I can’t keep remember.
“(Probably Misses His) Old Glasses”, as long as we’re drawing comparisons here, reminds me a lot of Ann Arbor’s (or was it Detroit’s?) Morsel. The beat swings here a little, the band plays a little more with space than on the first two songs - not so much sturm und drang as shadow and light, gradations of space and fullness - and there’s a gang vocal to boot.
It’s at this point that I really want to suggest that this record is very Lake Erie influenced: I hear hints of Javelins, Morsel, and, if you move further down south, Afghan Whigs (at their less melodramatic moments). This is kind of what was happening around that area of the rust belt, musically, back when I lived there. This is the good shit, the real deal; this is shitty grass, this is smoking in bars, this is dancing all night in front of the stage, drunk off your ass that night and not remembering a single goddamned song the next morning in the throes of a hangover; all you can tell your friends who didn’t make it that night was how awesome the show was. Can’t remember it for shit but it was awesome, sure as hell. And you danced and you met a nice gal and you never saw her again and everybody who was there had a great time and felt good and nobody fought and there was a moment or two of unison fist pumps in the middle of this song or that when the breakdown came and you crowdsurfed. It’s exaltant music, basically. It feels fucking awesome just listening to this record and thinking about the great time it must be to see this band.
For real, if this band comes to your town and you don’t have the night of your fucking life when you see them, you are a shallow husk of a person whose heart has never beat.
I’m not the hyperbole guy this often but really, Big Knife Little Knife should really be the biggest band of 2016. At least for one year, they should own the planet. If they don’t make three million dollars - a million per member - I’m holding all of you loveless bastards accountable.
Yes, I’ve been drinking. Fuck you. This record by this band is this great.
“Boredom or Apathy” ends the record and I don’t want it to. I want at least four more songs. But this is a healthy little time capsule - No. Stop. Wait. I’m writing bullshit again. But really: This song is full of great stop-start rhythms and that great, illusive “angular” guitar work, whatever the fuck “angular” means; nobody’s ever defined it solidly. It’s like the difference between art and porn: I know porn when I see it. I know “angular” when I hear it. I’m pretty sure this angular.
There’s no angry frontman here, there’s no browbeating politics, there’s no overwhelming pyrotechnics, there’s no over-tutored theory, there’s no bullshit. It’s just three people playing their asses off to deliver some art. Some well-rendered art. Just getting together and banging out some music. And there’s no way to argue with the results; it sounds awesome. Your band could only hope to put together a little package of comparable quality; I’m absolutely enthralled with this EP and you should be, too. I look forward to hearing a lot more out of this band.
Watch this video for “Circumlocution” and tell me it’s not the best thing ever. Because it kind of is.
I need more chartreuse.

04 July, 2015

Recent Love (Thank Fuck It's Not In Quad Edition)

Voicehandler, song cycle: You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end.
Ah, behold musique concrete, one of my favorite words and one of my occasional dirty little pleasures that next to none of my friends really understands.
Oh, don't bullshit me. Really. Show of hands, right now: Who here actually owns a goddamned Stockhausen record?
Right. So fuck all y'all.
Anyway, Jacob (or, as I prefer to call him, because I'm an asshole like that and because J. Felix Heule sounds like a Prohibition era robber baron which is pretty awesome, J. Felix) from Beauty School hooks me up with this other thing he does called Voicehandler. Now, I dug Beauty School's Residual Ugly, I'm sure I can dig this. And I do. But it should come with a warning: Do NOT put this on whilst making Sunday morning breakfast for your girlfriend because, no matter how into left field shit she is, this ratchets up her anxiety to the point where she's just going to wait for her eggs out on the goddamned porch.
The first impression I got from this record was pretty cheesy. Upon first listen, I thought, This sounds like Björk vamping to the good parts from Altered States. I thought to myself, Nah, blad, that's shitty and dismissive even if attempting to be complimentary. I still stand by it a little, though now I think the vocals remind me more of Giovanna Cacciola.

Still, though, Altered States.
So, what's to know about this record?
First of all, it's minimalist. J. Felix and Danishta Rivero (whose first name feels pleasant against my teeth when said aloud) are playing with only a handful of instruments - percussion, electronics, and hydrophonium - that last being an instrument of Ms. Rivero's own design which, according to her website was inspired by a short story called La Luz Es Como El Agua by Gabriel Garcia Márquez. (I haven't read it so I can't quote the scene here or anything.) Ms. Rivero also gets a lot of mileage out of her voice, switching from lullaby singing to tortured stomach-in-throat gags to chirps to purrs to slurps to hisses to growls. She's like fucking Pazuzu.
Second of all, it's thick. Dense, layered, complex, whatever. It's fucking thick, man. For two people using only a couple of instruments, it's got a lot going on. Of course, there's a good deal of lllooonnnggg dealy and looping going on but it's used in such a pleasing manner that it feels like an "organic" necessity - NO! STOP! Forgive me, father, for I have sinned... I said "'organic' necessity" like some sort of Williamsburg-moustachio'd-twat. Like I'm at the fucking co-op or some shit: "Hey, honey! Look! Free Range French Endives! These are an organic necessity! I heard so on NPR!"
Look, the music presented here is layered and dense, much like my sense of immediate shame.
Third, yes, the music is creepy. You know what else it is? I can hear influences from Latin and Central America, especially on the first track, and not just because the lyrics are in Spanish. It's also highly literate, each song being tied to a particular story, be it a creation story, a beat novel, or an epic poem. Accordingly, the music sounds with gentle bell sounds and distant heartbeat drums which then, on whim as these pieces are improvised, turn to staticky bee buzzes, and hellish, cyclical chimes and shambling dad's-shit-faced-after-the-UAW-meeting-again-and-thinks-now's-a-good-time-to-take-that-wall-out-of-the-kitchen-with-the-sledgehammer-like-he-and-mom-have-talked-about drums and then there's that voice that's kind of pretty much just commanding the demon spirit to leave my corporal vessel.
It's like this: Have you ever wanted to know what the exact fucking opposite of "Walking On Sunshine" sounded like? Because this is it; this is not good time music. However, that's not to say this is bummer music and, it should be noted, if this music terrifies you, you're not listening to anything more than the surface. Sure, this music plays heavy on tension and release but there's more than that to sink your teeth into. This is trance music without the implications of techno that that term carries. This is the kind of music you hear through the jungles of the Darién Gap, sure enough there's some blood-letting going on where you can see that far off fire that you know better than to venture toward, and there's probably some peyote because why wouldn't there be? And this music still could turn a voodoo shaman's shit lily white.
So, we all know the joke by now: Can I fuck to this? Man, I can't even get high to this: there's too much going on; thank fuck A) this wasn't released in quadrophonic and B) that I don't have a quadrophonic system in the first place: this would be too much to handle in that instance. Nor can I shake my caboose to this. I'm surprised I made breakfast to this.
Are there any real negative points against this record? Not just the smart-assed ones listed above? Well, I can say this much: I don't know how much mileage this record is going to get around here. This is not the sort of music made for repeated and repeatedd again listenings, especially active listening. This music, and this is not meant as a slight to the band, is the kind of music best presented with a curator and an installation, which is kind of what I infer how they normally perform it from their one sheet.
But the positives outweigh the negatives. There's an inventiveness here, especially considering that the singer invented her own goddamned instrument. (Motherfucker, have you ever invented an instrument? Like one that sounded as good as this one? No? Then sit the fuck down and quit pretending you're not impressed.) In its denseness, the aforementioned thickness, it never gets complicated; that thickness exists by virtue of the band's minimalism. It's heavy without being blunt, layered without being cumbersome, pleasant (if you're anything like me) without being saccharine. This is the kind of fun you have when you visit an art exhibition after smoking a few onies, and then you see the big assed art installation and the minimalist duo performing in front of it and you think, "Man, why aint I doing something like that? That's fucking awesome. What the fuck am I doing? I'm going to go home and do some twisted shit on my guitar tonight." And then you're out in front of the museum, hanging out, having a cigarette with your homie, Dan, and Dan says he knows a guy that does circuit bending and saxophone and you all should get together and jam at Dan's place because Dan's old lady moved out on him last week so he can finally set up the drums in the living room and he's got these contact mics that he wants to attach to the drums and run through a Space Echo and yeah, man, yeah, totally.
So, yes, this record is fucking awesome. I wouldn't recommend it if you have a high-strung cat or something. If you can handle your hallucinogens, I guess you could listen to it whilst tripping but I've never cared much for hallucinogens so I'll just listen to this straight. You could set up a playlist in iTunes splicing cuts off this record and Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska and ensure that none of your neighbors ever bug you about anything ever because you might be that guy they've been reading about in the paper that the police have no leads for.
Anyway, you should really check it out.

20 June, 2015

Another piece done.

My past as a contortionist revealed.

09 May, 2015

Recent Love (Almost Didn't Happen Edition)

Tyranny is Tyranny, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
The last time I slept on a record to review, you know, what with working sixty three hours a week, having this, that, and the other iron in the project fire, blah blah blah, the label that was nice enough to send me their stuff stopped sending me their stuff.
So Russell from Tyranny is Tyranny sends me the new Tyranny is Tyranny record, I accidentally delete the email and I'm all, Fuck, hey, sorry, Rusty, can you resend that? and he's all, "No sweat," and I'm all, Cool. And then I go to review it and I can't find it and I'm all, What the fuck? I'm like the worst record reviewer ever. My credibility's shot and nobody's going to send me a review copy again. And then I find it on my desktop, not in the download folder. So, thankfully, I can review the new Tyranny is Tyranny record.
First of all, I don't know whether to refer to this as an EP because it has only five songs or an LP because the motherfucker clocks in somewhere around forty minutes - I'm estimating there - is the designation based on number of songs or how long the recording is in total? I'm not a technical genius anymore, my talents have withered... Or have they exploded?
Yeah, that was a bad joke. Sorry. You see, that's because the first song is called "Or Does It Explode?", the title coming from the Langston Hughes poem, "Lenox Avenue Mural" (and the only reason I know that is because of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, otherwise, I'm not much of a poetry guy). It's heavy, it has a nice dual-guitar solo at the end that I'm going to say evokes Thin Lizzy because fuck Iron Maiden, it has a chant here and there, there's an instrumental passage that reminds me a bit of Explosions in the Sky, and, like a good bit of Explosions in the Sky's output, it's seven and a half minutes long. Not necessarily a marathon run like you'd find with Self-Evident, a band that I like but I always forget before seeing them how much I need a water bottle and a sweat rag to get through their set. Like a long march to the sea, that band, I tell ya. But worth it. And Tyranny is Tyranny is worth it, too. Like any band that dabbles in pushing song lengths past the five minute mark on the reg, they know well enough to make things a rollercoaster ride of sorts, to play with the ebbs and tides of song craft, not just bludgeon the listener with plodding fuzz. The bands that just go bbbbbbrrrrrruuuuuuhhhhhhmmmmmmnnnnnnvvvvvvffffff for eight minutes never really held my attention much. Sure, you can accuse Melvins of doing that, there are some folks who think Melvins do that, but those are the people who never heard Lysol which only sounds like that's what's going on but if you listen deeper to the subtext of the arrangement, you find it has much more to do with tension and release. Tyranny is Tyranny's arrangements are more obvious in their tension and release, "She Who Struggles" being a good example, and also the next song, and also playing footsie under the table with the seven and a quarter minute mark.
Wait. Did I just say that "Hung Bunny / Roman Dog Bird" has subtext? Jesus. OK, forgive the digression. I'm still new at this.
"She Who Struggles", Jesus wept, I'm jealous of the arrangement on this one. I wish I had come up with it. I probably would've made it either half or twice as long, though, because I'm an asshole like that. But "She Who Struggles" easily pulls off the quiet-loud-quiet-loud arrangement and I'm listening to it and wondering, Is it just the same part over and over just played with varying levels of volume? Because there are songs like that, where you divide the song up into sections based on the volume, not the chord changes. And it might seem like cheating to you but it really isn't. Consider Ravel's "Bolero" for instance. That song is, what? a hundred goddamned minutes and it's the same thing the entire time and it's a hugely respected piece of classical music. Stop being an asshole and open your ears to "She Who Struggles".
"Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire" starts with a feedback drone, some plaintive guitar, and a lone trumpet, then the drums come in, and you can see in your mind's eye a burning rice patty from your chopper. "Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire" is easily the most cinematic of the songs on this record. This song, more than the previous two, is the one where you sit and have a smoke and a think with your chin resting on folded hands. You escape into this song, kind of go into your own head with it. "Kabuki Snuff Theater", by contrast, is a real lurching beat-'em-up tune, little cues to Shellac's more pissed off moments and Helmet without the weirder chord voicings. It's the most straightforward rock song on The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (considering the title sounds like it would be part of Naked City's oeuvre and we’ve been over the lysergic weirdness of Naked City over and over on this blog) and the shortest, as well. Perhaps it’s the most accessible for newcomers to Tyranny is Tyranny but, even if it is the most accessible, it would be a terribly misleading first impression and I suppose that’s why the band placed this song next to last on the record: Yes, they make this kind of music but, moreover, they have tendencies to thoughtful, delicate passages to intertwine with the heavier moments; “Kabuki Snuff Theater” doesn’t do “delicate”.
And then we come to the end: “Victory Will Defeat You”. Fucker is fifteen minutes long so buckle up and fix a cocktail, kiddoes.
Again, I feel pressed to invoke the name Explosions in the Sky. And the intro is five and three quarter minutes long.* But it’s a part of the ride, so just enjoy yourself. I mean, at least this Tyranny is Tyranny know how to use those five and three quarter minutes. As mentioned earlier, they pay attention to song craft, so the intro is compelling and holds your attention and you, the listener, are rewarded with the heaviness and complex arrangements, guitars that weave around each other, death metal chants in the background, passages that come to abrupt changes... Basically, you’re getting three or four songs in the form of one. Think of all the changeups in “Dopesmoker” but this is more emotionally compelling, more intellectually stimulating. You’ll enjoy it, you really will. I trust you will. Here, give it a try.


* Grouses the guy who wrote “At Once Smitten”, which, if you’ve heard KRAKOA, you know is 40BPM for seventeen minutes, and that’s just the recorded version, so I really have no place to talk shit about long intros. For real, that intro was just bbbbbaaaaahhhhhmmmmm bbbbbaaaaahhhhhmmmmm bbbbbaaaaahhhhhmmmmm bbbbbaaaaaWWWWWEEEEEHHHHH repeat ad nauseum.
 
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