25 June, 2016

It's like when Cobain screams "pain" on "You Know You're Right"

Over the course of the - How long have I been doing this shit for again? Almost ten years, I guess - Yeah, I'm not looking it up. Over the course of the almost decade, maybe more that I've been doing SD&A, even going back to when it was a snotty little MySpace blog, I decided to not write negative record reviews, referring to John Peel's philosophy that if I didn't like a record, it was my fault, not the band's. After all, I'm the one who doesn't get it and that's not on the band. They're pouring their creative energy into this record that they've made and they have a target listener and that listener, in this instance, isn't me.
So, at times, when I was handed a record I didn't like, I pawned it off on the other writers here or, failing that, I tried to be diplomatic in my approach and just stick to what the record sounds like and explain why I, personally, am not feeling it.
Thankfully, those records were few and far between and even records I wouldn't ever listen to again had moments that tripped my trigger. So I could say something like "Boris Yamsocket is a five piece Casio-core band from Terre Haute and their new triple LP, From Here to Extremity, is, admittedly, a little twee for my tastes. In deed, a song like 'Rippled Nipple' strikes me as downright juvenile but it can be forgiven when one considers the near-perfection grandiosity of the side five closer, 'Almighty Nighty'," and that would be, I think, fair. (Also? Not a real band.)
I mean, I bitched for maybe half a paragraph about Hyperslob and the Goatmeat Explosion (yeah, that's a real band) putting burps all over an otherwise perfectly constructed punk record. I thought that was fair, too.
ANYway anyway anyway, the point is I wouldn't want to write a bad review, instead, I'd want to write positive reviews of records that I could recommend. Isn't that what a review is supposed to be? To recommend a record rather that to tell people to avoid it?
Taking that into consideration, I went to the MN Record Show last year and dropped a few beans on some cassettes - The Jesus Lizard's Head, NoMeansNo's Wrong, and Bastro's Sing the Troubled Beast. The vendor pulled out a brown paper bag and asked if I'd be interested in any of these promo cassettes. I asked, How much? He told me to just take 'em all if I wanted. Apparently, he couldn't sell them. So I picked out a few that either looked interesting (you know, despite no cover art) or had names I vaguely recognized. I have not listened to them until a few nights ago.
I'm about to write some very negative shit.
Why? Well, none of these bands are around anymore and I can fall back on the old Rimbaud line, "To the living, one owes respect; to the dead, one owes only truth." Their creative outputs are finalized, their legacies are solidified, it's time to break down how this was some of the worst shit of the nineties and it's not going to be pretty.
Lambchop / Vitapup Promo Split
Lambchop, doubtlessly named for the educational children's television sock puppet has two songs here, "Your Life As A Sequel" and the dauntingly flatly retardedly titled "Smuckers", and with a name like "Smuckers", you know it's going to be lame. In case you missed the better part of the nineties, there was a lloonngg running trend where bands would "ironically" title their songs either one word (I'm looking at you, Bush) or nonsensical half-sentences, and this one would be the former. Lambchop, represented by these two songs, sound like a lazy half-assed bad impression of Low with a pedal steel lead by a monotone baritone gentle motherfucker who sounds like a TV dad who delivers life lessons at the end of twenty two minutes. This shit is all lifeless and limp, just a pudgy turtled-up dong coated in vanilla and rose pedals and free from any daring or psychosis. Fuck this shit. It's like being lectured by Ben Stein on how to use Z-Quil but with the added edginess of including one utterance of "fuck". If you put this shit on during a road trip, you and your traveling companions would die. Not because you'd fall asleep at the wheel but because you come to a stop next to a car full of people with good taste in music who will beat your cardigan-wearing asses.
Vitapup, on the other hand, with their bullshit name, are represented by "I Need It", a great Unwound and (90s) emo-inspired indy number with actually really great though at times nonsense lyrics, and "Fuck My Head", which opens with a clumsy Jason Mewes-esque rap about Darth Vader and then they get back to plowing uptempo Unwound territory but with Rollins Band vocals. I do like this. I would listen to these two songs again. Unfortunately, this was not "radio ready" in ninety four or whenever it came out, which sucks because we could've used more bands like this on AOR as opposed to "Life Is A Highway" or whatever the fuck "the man" was trying to shove down our throats back then.
Billed as a hardcore band - and remember, kids, nineties hardcore is different from eighties hardcore the way aughts emo is nowhere near the same thing as nineties emo (Hint: Aughts emo is some twee bullshit your grown ass does not need in your life.) - Vitapup's An Hour With Vitapup has the aforementioned "I Need It" and I will pick up this LP if I ever find it which means you should too. If you're into, say, Unwound, Fugazi, etc.
Not bad. Two into it and one was good.
Thirty Ought Six / Toenut Promo Split
Thirty Ought Six is on some middle of the road bullshit with "Talon" and "Moreau", like, if you liked Pearl Jam but always thought they needed some Tool bass and Verve Pipe lyrics, you'd have liked Thirty Ought Six. If you were from the midwest and really into your high school hockey team, you'd have liked Thirty Ought Six. If you ever skipped an FFA meeting because somebody could sneak you into Buffalo Wild Wings that afternoon, you'd have liked Thirty Ought Six. If you knew the words to Seven Mary Three's "Cumbersome", you'd have liked Thirty Ought Six. Middle of the goddamned road.
Toenut's got "Mouthful of Pennies" and "Feeder" and is gleefully twisted. Out of all these cassettes, it's the only one with a female vocalist and a guitarist who, like Peter Buck, knows how to bring the heavy with arpeggiated jangly chords. The drummer beats the shit out of the kit and the bassist is all over the map. Reminds me a bit of the Pretty Mary Sunshine track off of the SFW soundtrack but with more neuroses going on and - BONUS! - you could skate to this back in the day. Maybe a little on the poppy end of skate punk but still has the requisite aggression. Toenut probably sweated their asses off on stage back in the day. Googled them and they have three records and they're out of Atlanta. That's probably why I like them, that whole Athens - Atlanta vibe. Go buy, like, all their stuff. Just stop being a pussy and do it.
Four bands, two good. Batting .500. That's not a bad avg.
Drill Team Promo EP
Oh-ho-ho! Released on In Bloom Records! Gee, I wonder whose success that label was trying to cash in on!
This opens with "Pluto My Cream" (Remember how I said some titles in the nineties were nonsense half sentences? Yeah...) which is the only enjoyable song this band managed to include on this promo and it exists somewhere close to the shoegaze circle on some Venn diagram somewhere.
And then?
Nosedive.
"Wish"? It opens with the line "I wish I was a girl / I can't be a boy today" and then moves into "I wish I was a girl / I can't be a boy today" and then from there "I wish I was a star / I can't be myself today" before the singer tells us "I wish I was a star / I can't be myself today" and it goes on like that. Such sniveling godawful bullshit is so sniveling godawful bullshit that it distracts from the part where the music is really really good. Really, the lyrics are just awful. Distractingly awful. Like the time I went on a date and the woman was bleeding the entire time. Sure, she was nice, she was pretty, she was smart, but she was fucking bleeding the entire time. That kind of shit distracts a motherfucker.
"Destruct In Stereo" is just rubbish. Putting a wah pedal on everything does not make you Swervedriver and you should stop. The bullshit that "Drippin'" is up on is enough to make me stop listening. Seriously. I got two lines into the first verse and said, Fuck this. Fast forward to the end and eject.
Now I have to sit through Black Market Flowers Promo LP.
OK, so a jazzy bit of brush work on the snare during a warm up. OK, now the song is actually starting. Sounds promising.
Oh, fuck, dude.
This is some bullshit. He's screaming the word "away" and he's stretched it out to five syllables. This is fucking awful. This is like a kiddie pool full of the santorum accumulated after the members of Eve 6 and Collective Soul butt fucked each other and then it was turkey-basted into the uterus of that one chick your mom worked with back in the nineties that really liked Talk Show (which was Stone Temple Pilots without Weiland) and nine months later this was the shithead baby that came out. I was going to compare this to Temple of the Dog butt fucking Dandelion and the shitty-lube-jizz getting pumped into the womb of the Canadian head of the Catherine Wheel fan club but all three of those bands each put out one song I like, so I really had to work for that analogy. You think it was daunting to read? I had to come up with it and then make it work in a linear fashion. OK, you want an easy one? This is worse than an Arby's gyro. I mean, dude, they named a song "Aunt Farmer". For real. "Aunt Farmer". And that's the side one closer. I still have to get through side two.
Fuck this. Just fast forward to side two.
Oh, god. I don't know if I can do this.
No, I can't.
I can't do it.
I've already established that this shit sucks. Moving on.
Green Apple Quick Step New Disaster Promo LP
Back in the aughts, when SNL wanted to poke fun at white privilege, they employed the whitest guy on their crew, Jimmy Fallon, and they put him in a recurring skit as a dreadlocked white kid (I can already hear the comment box filling up with that one) named Jerrod (or some such butchered spelling) who did a webcast from his dorm room. The skit was abysmal in that it was pretty clearly a riff on "Wayne's World", which nailed the attitudes of bored cooler-than-thou suburban kids who managed to secure a cable access show. This was followed by the similarly formatted and almost as funny at times, "Goth Talk", which followed the exact same premise: Suburban kids in a basement with a cable access program.
SNL, however, caught up with the times by the time Fallon came on and updated the "teenager with a talk show" premise from cable access television to the more egalitarian Warhol-fame-quote of the webcam. And Fallon was perfect for the role of the host.
I've never found Jimmy Fallon funny and that's kind of unique with me. I never thought Samberg was funny either but at least he has Brooklyn Nine Nine to his credit, in which he is brilliant. But Fallon? I imagine how much better the cowbell sketch would've been without him "breaking" in it. But he nails the Jerrod character because they're both pretty abhorrent.
Jarrod is, as mentioned, a dreadlocked white kid whose parents are paying for him to go to college where he smokes a lot of grass long into the night, he wears those baja rug sweaters and, I'm sure if we could see below the waist, knee high Doc Marten's with his cargo shorts. He's as "alt"-culture as Clueless. He's exactly the kind of "extreme" dude that MTV Sports would've targeted.
He's also the kind of dude who would bump some pussy bullshit like Green Apple Quick Step from his Jeep. Because he looks like the singer from Green Apple Quick Step.
This band is pretty clearly a post-grunge mainstream "alt rock" cash grab attempt, a hit-less pre-Smash Mouth pander to the Hyper-Color t-shirt set that's thankfully been forgotten. For real, for whom this band is a favorite, please stand up and explain to me the appeal behind this cloying douche-breathed collection of Fructis jingle retreads with oh! so poignant lyrics about the way of the world (on the song "Way of the World" that, no, is not a cover of the Clown Alley classic) that would make Blind Melon at their least-rainiest cringe in nauseated guilt over assumed responsibility.
I make a lot of jokes at the level of awful or terrible or horrible something is, like how I want to barf acid on my dick to prevent myself from ever procreating so I don't have to explain to my future child that I have heard something this awful and I still brought him into a world in which this thing had even fleeting relevance, so I couldn't even accidentally convey what this thing once sounded like from memory after society comes to its senses and destroys all existing copies. (And believe me, when they come for me, I will say nothing. I'll just hand them this tape and a lighter and go back inside.) But in this instance, no. No, I will not mutilate myself over this cheeseball New Radicals bullshit. Not even if I am hearing a harmonica solo right now in the middle of an alt-pop song titled "Kid" in which a grown-ass man tells me repeatedly that there's "nothing ordinary when you're a kid." Not even if I feel subliminally compelled to buy a Crystal Pepsi to join Generation Next. No, my reaction to this Empire Records fluff is to fix a steely death glare on this and declare this to be the absolute worst record I have ever heard.
This is worse than that Gotye song about being a clingy douchepuddle unable to cope with getting dumped.
This is worse than when Good Charlotte proclaimed their individuality in a music video where everybody looked exactly the fucking same.
This is worse than that Kairos record I picked up because they did a really heavy cover of that one Chris Isaac song everybody knows but nobody can sing and it turned out to be Christian metal.
This is worse than Colossus of Destiny.
This is worse than all those O.A.R. records I had to sit through at Karl Uhde's house parties.
This is a record written by people on a major label preaching to me about how the "real world" works. It is hands-down the most transparently spiritless alt-culture co-opting fame grab I have ever heard, doubtlessly focus-grouped and produced to death. If a Chriss Angel trick and a Guy Fieri hot sauce had a baby that went back in time and was photographed on the red carpet with Jenny McCarthy at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, it would still not be as vapid and irrelevant as this thing.
Should I produce offspring, I will hold on to this record as a cautionary tale:
Child, before you go looking at how good all the money in the world looks to you, I implore you to listen to Coltrane, Davis, and Coleman. Read Burgess, (Jim) Thompson, and le Carré. Watch Kubrick, Kurisowa, and Wood. Study the Dadaists, the Modernists, the Surrealists. Find worth not in material or monetary wealth because there were bands that did that and, well, I can tell you about the worst. Let me get the cassette out because I want you to listen to what happens when you sacrifice integrity and aesthetics and taste and decency in the name of all those dollar signs.
Yes, all these cassettes were free.
I still feel like I was ripped off.

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