My thing is this. If this was, say, a really geeky dude with a jewfro, would anybody give a fuck? Like, imagine Paul Barman got up and started making Baltimore booty clap records, wouldn’t we all just be annoyed? Well, some songs on here sound like Paul Barman did them: the beats lack swagger and the vocals sound forced and dorky. Others however, hit straight home, such as the flawless first single “Put That Pussy On Me”. So what you have is a hit and miss album, with a couple of undeniable home runs. And a brilliant title. Still worth copping, I say.
BEST ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Home Grown: A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding The Roots
They’re one of the greatest acts in hip hop, and yet they’re led by the single corniest person in Black music and their career has been plagued by successive bad decisions. ?uestlove’s an annoying walking, talking blog, and yet his verbose liner notes make for fascinating toilet reads. Their live show is the stuff of legends for fruity jam band fans, and yet you feel their repressed, thugged-out lead MC would be at his best on a Capone-N-Noreaga cut. That’s The Roots for you, and like I keep saying, even their rarities and B-sides sound better than half the stuff that’s out there.
Dem Franchize Boyz
On Top Of Our Game
So So Def
It’s called snap music and it’s the new Casio craze out of Atlanta. The beats are retarded, the lyrics are ridiculous, the song topics range from laffy taffy to white t-shirts and I love every minute of it. Next to blow are Trap Squad, with their brilliant no-homo hit “Fuck Wit Ya Boy”. Whashananan?
, I really did. I never thought they’d become background music for Féria commercials. Didn’t see that coming from a mile away.
NOT LOVELY TO SEE YOU
This Is an Exercise
Kill Rock Stars
Anna Oxygen is from Olympia, wears aerobics gear, sings like a robot, does video art, and likes dark electro and the Thrones. Tracy and the Plastics much? Yeah, it’s kinda weird. I mean, I understand all these bands trying to copy Interpol or whatever for a fast buck, but ripping off a lesbian new-wave performance artist? Where is the logic in that?
Measles Mumps Rubella
Sigh. If this band came out three years ago people would have freaked. You know: The Pop Group, This Heat, Throbbing Gristle influences, and all that. But even though it’s untimely, it’s still damn good. Kind of like a faster, tighter, East Coast version of Gogogo Airheart. Kind of a lot like that really.
Fab Four Suture
If you often find yourself “poolside” in Spain, or you’re just generally a wealthy, sexually ambiguous European, welcome to your soundtrack. Man, I suspect even the most stalwart indie nerds have given up on this band. I mean it’s “good” and they basically invented the genre, but I can’t go around having my mom and dad think I’m a homo.
Age of Winters
My new cubicle neighbor is a total fucking mouthbreather. It’s like ZHHEEE-HUHHH, ZHHEEE-HUHHH all fucking day. I was contemplating taking a big swig of gasoline and swallowing a match, but then I just put this album on. Not only did it mask the sounds of rapidly evaporating saliva splendidly, it also did a pretty good job of channeling and subsequently calming my rage. And that’s exactly what I expect from really good metal.
GUNS AND YOU
The Punk Terrorist Anthology, Vol. 1
When you first listened to
The Way It Is
you couldn’t really get into Nausea, probably because all the sweaty bald guys and gang vocals had your testosterone peaking at dangerous levels. It’s possible that a female voice quite literally did not register. But then you saw them live a while later, when you were a little less ready to rumble for your crew, and realized that they were about 800 light-years ahead of their time and they absolutely shredded. And you were also like, “Wow, it really smells in here.”
BRAD AND RANDY
Drum’s Not Dead
The overblown bullshit balloon that is Liars has finally begun to deflate, and recorded here for your enjoyment, may I present the gentle farting sound of its demise. And what a pathetic eulogy the band has written for itself: A sad attempt at a concept album complete with fictional characters named Drum and Mount Heart Attack (not kidding) that apparently speak to each other in tuneless droning and clumsy ambient noise. In short: With no more
to scrape from the barrel, Liars are now aping the Residents. Poorly. Well, you had a good run, guys. Now please take the rest of your lives off.
The lyrical and graphic theme here seems to be desensitization, numbness, and apathy, underscored by a creeping dread of what might be even worse than limitless nothing. Musically, it’s schizophrenic squealing sludge that suggests a migraine during wisdom-teeth removal. In other words, great fucking record.
Shovel Headed Kill Machine
Because I’m a dick, I was psyched to ridicule a new Exodus album. But I can’t fuck with truth: It’s a balls-out shitstorm. Only the prissiest of fags will try and deny such an onslaught. However, I deduct two points because “Deathamphetamine” does not need to be eight and a half goddamn minutes long. No speed metal song does, hence the term “speed metal” as opposed to “is this still the same song?” We like this music because drugs and TV have pumped us full of adrenaline and shot our attention spans to shit. If you want someone to see you wank, find a kindergarten.
To every tight-assed NYHC curmudgeon who’s sick of ignorant dickheads in basketball jerseys playing tenth-rate mosh metal: Everyday Dollars is your laxative. This band saw a void and filled it with sharp hardcore that’s hard but not thuggish and posi without the pose. The vox are slightly high-pitched yells similar to Maximum Penalty or older Warzone, and the music is fast and bullshit-free in the classic late-80s style. Four songs plus a Necros cover equals one of the coolest records from the five boroughs in way too long.
Holy shit, a new Slackers record! What a lucky day for me! My garbage can has been so sad and lonely these last few days, and it seemed like nothing could cheer him up. I tried compliments, jokes, even letting him win at Scrabble, and he just sat there frowning. But when a package from Hellcat arrives, well, you should see how excited he gets! I tease him for a minute, like, “What do we have here? Could it be… a ska CD?” Then, plop! I let him have it. Two points for you, Slackers! You really made our week.
CREEP IN THE CELLAR
Victory At Sea
All Your Things Are Gone
You can’t dismiss Victory at Sea as just another female-fronted, piano-emo pisstake for two reasons:
1) They’ve been around for 12 years, thus playing music longer than most Bright Eyes fans have been wiping themselves, and 2) Mona Elliott gets a wee bit batshit insane sometimes. That’s the point, though—Victory at Sea really kill it when their charming melancholy cracks up ever so slightly, giving way to a hysterical and potentially dangerous madwoman’s shriek. People who legitimately dig PJ Harvey aren’t into “nice music,” they want to hear all the psychological vomit behind the notes. Same principle applies here.
JOHN E. SMOKES
Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners
Surprisingly not bad! The reason it’s enjoyable is that much of it sounds like early X. You could switch some of these songs with ones on
, play them for someone who hasn’t heard either (anyone under 30), and they would never spot the difference. I love faithful re-creations of the past! I’m gonna listen to it on my Walkman while sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons, then I’ll drive real slow on the freeway to the grocery store where I’ll complain about the coupon prices, then I’ll go home and use one of those creepy high toilet seats with side handles.
The most despicable thing about hardcore has always been, and continues to be, the free pass it affords to completely worthless apes whose only skill-set seems to involve chest puffing and retard-hopping. I am talking about “the lead singer.” Waterdown provides a forum for not one, but TWO of these untalented, instrumentless simians to strut their stuff, which I thought was overkill until I realized that digging into topics such as “Moshpit Etiquette” (actual song title) requires a great many wise brains to deliberate and pontificate.
ICKY WOODS SHUFFLE
Dying to Say This to You
This li’l jammer is about eight handclaps and one “hey, what do you say” shy of 12-year-old girl perfection, but that shouldn’t prevent the more abominably inclined from blaring it as enticement from their Econoline vans this summer (or dying on the end of a shiv).
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
It’s big news that these guys sold 120,000 albums within 24 hours of its release, making them the fastest-selling debut in Britain ever. And the thing is… it’s like, a really good album. Why does this make me feel profoundly uncomfortable? Like maybe I should read
The Da Vinci Code
The Back Room
Sorry longhairs, but we like this. Yes, we really do. We’ve always loved the Bunnymen, and we love Interpol, but they’re not here right now, are they? Consequently, this album is sounding pretty easy on the ol’ cochlea right about now. Yessiree.
How nicely you sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the pasta doesn’t really matter. Neither does how many tomatoes you use in the salad, or how long you leave the ice cream to soften. While a little refinement does go a long way, you’re still a shitty cook, and she’s still going to break up with you.
The Control Group
I’ve had a cold since Christmas Eve—it’s the end of January now. I haven’t been able to taste food for three weeks, and consequently may or may not have eaten spoiled sour cream on two separate occasions. My snot is the color of Mountain Dew and last time I coughed I tasted bile. All that said, I’m having more trouble getting the song “The Wonder” out of my head than I am the mucus. Thanks for the hook, Figurines!
BRAD AND RANDY
Under a Billion Suns
I remember being bored by this sound when my mom was still writing my name with fabric marker on the elastic of all my underwear. Now I’m a grown-up and it literally just sounds like noise to me, like steady traffic, or the whooshing inside a seashell.
SHORT AND CURLY
A collection of obscure vinyl singles from a few years back. You can’t lose with this snaggle-toothed veteran of sweet tunes and hot licks wrapped in awesome weirdness. Is that cornz? I kinda think it’s fun to talk like that sometimes though.
The Boy Least Likely To
The Best Party Ever
Too Young to Die
If you were breast-fed through adolescence, this is your jam. The vocals remind me of the Rentals singing songs intended to seduce grade-school kids. Total douche-chills.
In my dream, I was sitting at a long table covered with elaborate food, like something out of a
Tom and Jerry
cartoon. Huge steaming slabs of fish with their heads still on. Bowls of shiny apples and wheels of cheese. Legs of lamb, the bones sticking up and out. Grapes in giant clusters. I could hear a faint sound, muffled and distant, coming from somewhere nearby. I turned over a teacup and there he was: Little Simon Joyner, sitting on a matchbox, plunking away on a walnut-shell guitar. “This next one’s called ‘Killing Yourself to Live,’” he peeped, and started in, tapping out the time with his tiny foot.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Ballad of the Broken Seas
This wacky combo is such a bad idea that I thought it might be good. Except it’s not. It’s some boring “cowboy noir” bullshit. Lanegan sounds like every boozie joe who ever worshipped Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. And Campbell? Her “I’m a widdle mousy-wousy” whisper-singing is the equivalent of when I had to share my bedroom with my sick grandmother and she would make those dry-mouth swallowing sounds in her sleep all night. It’s literally the sound of saliva.
Axis of Evol
McBean is the tallest and craggiest of the mountains (of rock) that are looming out over the Northwest. His crevasses are deep, his peaks are clouded in, and his trees are doubled over from the steady avalanches. Hiking is treacherous, the glades are filled with grizzlies, and the view from the top is hazy. Uh… what else can I do with this… something about echos and caves maybe? You get where I’m going with this.
Leaving the Nest
Box Theory/ Planaria
Confession: I have a total fetish for folk-rock dudes with beards—big, giant, fluffy beards that are like pillows upon which to rest my weary bosoms. Well, as you may imagine, with this whole freak-folk movement of late, I have been in seventh heaven! Last month I wanted to marry Miguel Mendez, but all of a sudden it’s hellooo, Benjy Ferree! You can “leave my nest” anytime! If by “leave” you mean “eat,” and by “nest” you mean “my snizz.”
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
Fear Is on Our Side
I read somewhere recently that being on a plane makes people more emotional, like it’s more likely you will cry watching a sad movie on a plane. It’s something to do with the pressurized atmosphere. Well, I’m in a plane right now listening to this record and I’m totally bopping my head around like an idiot, enjoying myself. (If I didn’t know me and I saw me right now I would hate me.) So what gives? I should be bawling my eyes out right now and hoping for engine failure… but I’m just not.
In Fields We Will Lie
This is really pretty. Pretty and banjo-y and completely mellow. These guys sound like a lovely bunch of hippies. Like the kind of hippies who gave me a free burger the first time I went to a Dead show in high school, not the kind I was scared of after reading
Go Ask Alice
in third grade.
Detail from the Mountain Side
Azita ranks very high in the category of “my favorite eccentric lady musicians,” so I’m really excited about this even though I’m also disappointed that it’s only 11 minutes long. The songs on here were written for a play. I usually hate plays (they’re just like, people, standing right in front of me… pretending), but Azita’s songs always sound like they could be in some really fucked-up,
Waiting for Guffman
-type version of Hair, so it all works out rather nicely in the end.
Tales from Turnpike House
Wait, did these guys always sound like Swing Out Sister?
The Social Registry
Have you guys noticed how suddenly it’s impossible to get acid? Used to be you could find a tab in every little brother’s sock, but I swear I’ve been looking pretty regularly for about a year now without any luck. My theory is that folks like the Gris Gris and these guys have been hoarding the whole nation’s supply in little mountain shacks. It must help them hone their psych jams to total perfection because I have never before liked anything that could even remotely be described as “space rock.”
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
The Proposition Original Soundtrack
Wait, let me guess:
is a rom-com starring Tom Hanks—no no, Hugh Grant!—featuring a series of unexpected events that lands our leading man in an unlikely and altogether zany relationship with a beautiful woman, but not before their families have something to say about it! Oh wait, it’s actually a depressing Australian epic set at the end of the bushranger era about loyalty and betrayal? No kidding.
They Shoot Horses Don't They?
Boo Hoo Hoo Boo
Kill Rock Stars
The real downer here is that I have been genuinely pining for some kind of crazy horn-section-inclusive wheeling-organ carnival-barker music for the past few months. I feel like there should be a genie sitting on top of my speakers right now going, “But this is exactly what you wished for. Pretty keraazy, right? HA HA HA HA!”
Invite Them Up: The EastVillage’s Acclaimed Live Comedy Show from Bobby Tisdale and Eugene Mirman
Comedy Central Records
Definitely enough quality material on here for me to pilfer and use in casual conversation at dinner parties for a long, long time. Eugene Mirman’s “sexpert” montage alone will keep people thinking I’m witty for at least a year. Thanks guys!
His Name Is Alive
Warn Defever’s group has been around for two decades; this latest apparition of noisy folk works pretty well—especially with the final track, “Send My Face,” resplendent in all its cremation-ash-enema energy (the psychic impact of which would be enormous would one realize one had received it). But it’s all over far too quickly and there aren’t any lyrics included in the CD. If you spend enough time writing them and enunciating them, why not stop your incredible skimping and include them? Hey, guys who jack off constantly to war, death, and hatred need love too.
Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label
The Numero Group
A dusty and musty comp of music that could have stayed lost forever—which would have been a crime. This is all tracks from the Deep City label, a 70s soul imprint that operated in Florida. These are really beautiful and stirring moments right here, and apparently it was all influenced (rhythmically at least) by the Marching 100, the KILLER drum squad they had at Texas A&M at the time. Lovely and special soul music. Forgotten American gems.
Photographer Lee Friedlander co-curated this excellent, excellent document of an oft-overlooked American indigenous music. This is real southern gospel from decades past, with God-fearing and God-loving Black Americans like The Staple Singers, Mahalia Jackson, Slim & The Supreme Angels, and The Soul Stirrers. This is like the flipside of Blues music. It’s all praise, ecstasy, jubilation and hope.