Jesus, they should have called this one
. Maybe it’s got something to do with my listening to the album after driving all night through rural Pennsylvania, but I seriously haven’t been this freaked out by music since my best friend’s older brother drove us to our first-grade skating party blaring Sepultura. It’s like weed and caffeine pills huddled together and whispered, “OK, you just hang tight around that warped, bendy guitar sound and I’ll be over there by the talk-singing and as soon as the orchestra hits come in, BAM! We nail him from both sides. Got it?”
“Endless Summer of the Damned” is a song about global warming. Did Bauhaus really need to get back together to give us this urgent PSA? Is George Bush or an oil-company dude going to buy the new Bauhaus album and suddenly “get it”? What’s wrong with songs about terror couples killing colonels or third uncles? Is it not enough anymore to be cool, scary, and fun—I need a gothic reminder to sort my garbage correctly too? Why do bands reunite when all they inevitably do is piss on otherwise immaculate legacies with toothless mid-tempo filler left over from the various members’ solo bullshit? Could the money really be that good? Another piece of my childhood down the shitter and all I have left are questions. Thanks, asshauls.
Who’d have thought 20 years ago that the music present-day goths would be into would sound exactly like someone making fun of the music that goths were into 20 years ago? Like, not ham-fisted, SNL-style parodies either, but really subtle, by-the-book rips on Gary Numan or that super-melodramatic Killing Joke album with all the synths. It’s sincere in its gloom and that’s what makes it funny. Am I even making sense? There’s probably some theoretical explanation involving hyperreality and simulacra and other bullshit, but I’m still stuck on the fact that this actually sounds pretty all right.
Thrashing Like a Maniac
Setting aside the fact that I question the sincerity of most of the leather, denim, and sunglasses dildos in these band photos, I would be a total douchebucket were I to deny that practically every song on this thing is a total brain-melting ass-ripper. If you want to play dress-up while you dig through your dad’s record collection, that’s totally cool as long as you’re competent enough to keep the adrenaline level above the 11 mark. Furthermore, many heads will gank this for the Municipal Waste track but there are multiple heroes present that must not be ignored: Mutant, Deadfall, and SSS in particular. Hate on this if you must, but you’ll be pissed if you skip it. Hear me now, believe me later!
ENEMY OF THE SUN
You are really into working out. You wear a t-shirt with your gym’s logo on it so everyone knows that you work out. You care about things like car rims and Jessica Alba. Once a week you shave off all of your body hair so that your sun-worn tribal tattoos can be more clearly seen. When you are planning your next snowboarding vacation or Fourth of July barbecue, you will psych yourself up by blasting Enemy of the Sun while masturbating in the shower. You find it surprising when people make excuses to not hang out with you. You are a dick.
Slights and Abuse/The Sycophant
Holy mouth-raping Christ! I LOVE this thing. I wish I could type this review in the blood of my enemies to fully convey how awesome it is (my Mac does not have a “blood of my enemies” font, that’s actually OS 10.8 I think.) Finally a band with its eye on the prize: All accoutrements aside, the point is to carve everything in your path apart, then turn around and eat all the pieces. Why is this simple concept so difficult for everyone else to comprehend? Without a doubt,
will be looked back on as one of 2008’s most repulsive and primal moments in underground music. You might disagree, but if so I will find you and feed you your bowels. So, let’s just agree to agree.
I listened to this about eight times trying to make up my mind, finally realizing that if I can’t make up my mind after eight times then it’s not worth the effort. Honestly it should only take
, but I was excited about the Rob Halford-esque vocals and thought that would take it somewhere (besides the landfill, which is its new destination.) Oh yeah, a guy from Slint is in this band. Remember them? Great, I don’t.
I wish there were musical wagering sites where I could place my life savings on something like “a guy from Comets on Fire will start a band with a guy from Sunburned Hand of Man and it will be fucking awesome.” This second offering from Howlin Rain is even better than the first—a cohesive slab of American rock ’n’ roll short on pretense and heavy on songwriting and good times.
OK, settle down there, Vancouver. You are coming dangerously close to smothering us in your giant bushy beards. Yeah sure, it’s fun to “rock out” with your “bros” and, yeah, I guess shaving is for “the man,” but slooooow down. You are gonna swing the pendulum back over to electronic music long before its scheduled comeback. We should have at least two more years before the electroclash revival (“relectroclash” perhaps? I just coined that!) so let’s just relax and not release 5,000 albums a day. I mean, does nobody in Vancouver have a day job?
Man, how awesome would it be to be J Mascis and just alternate between your somehow-still-vital-sounding 25-year-old indie band and drumming for your middle-aged free-shredding project? Then go home at night and brush your downy silver locks before falling backward into your four-poster bed and drifting off to slumberland with a contented sigh? Sure beats the shit out of my current routine: watching a bootleg copy of The Wire because I can’t afford cable and occasionally taking a shit.
The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull
Good music for tripping on Salvia, which you should do really soon because they’re working on making it illegal any day now. But right now, you can still order it online. May we recommend the 20X Standardized from Bouncing Bear Botanicals? May we recommend leaning back and shutting your eyes while you enjoy the swirling yellow ribbons that create a warm cocoon made out of music around you? Yes, you’re welcome.
The Local Anesthetic
Here’s rad idea: going on a cross-country vault-raiding trip and documenting all the cool little state musical scenes that took second fiddle to New York and LA. The only downside I can think of is that maybe the reason places like Denver and Waukegan didn’t have their own version of Touch & Go or Dischord has less to do with a failure of local tenacity and more to do with half the bands in town sounding like fifth-rate Black Flag rip-offs. Fingers crossed for Wyoming though.
DE LA SKOL
THESE NEW PURITANS
What is it about English kids where they can form these literate bands with dress codes and keyboards and girl members and affected moanings like “We’re not trying to relate to you” and it’s all 100 percent buyable? Is this what they got when they traded in their ability to produce a single decent hardcore act in 1987? Or am I just an enormous fag?
AN ENORMOUS FAG
THE CHILD BALLADS
Stewart Lupton! Maybe if you had caught us last week, we would have written something nasty about how it’s no longer 1994 and the magic is dead. But as it happens, we just got over the flu (puking on the streets at 2 AM), had a really good lunch (split pea), moved on from a six-month-long heartache (drummer), and the first song on this came up on our shuffle, and it’s sweet. Stewart goes like this, he goes: “I’m trying to make the world an exotic place.” OK, Stewart. God love you.
AMA AMA AMA CHUNIR
Watching Alison grow from my sort-of-chubby pop-punk mega-crush in Discount to “the cool chick” in the Kills has been the death knell for my youth. This record is like bumping into Tinkerbell turning tricks at the pizza joint/brothel next to the Pussycat Lounge. That little cartoon face up there is puking on my innocence. PS: The cover art wasn’t ready at press time, so here is a little picture of our managing editor’s cat.
STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS
Real Emotional Trash
I love him. I just love him because I’ve always loved him. I loved him when I was a youngster in ye olde 90s and now just hearing his voice gives me the warm fuzzers. It’s like when babies recognize their moms’ voice from the womb or something. What? Anyway, I don’t have much in the way of objectivity here. “Gardenia” is a really good one on this album, I think. But don’t listen to me. This could be terrible for all I know.
After decades of “Got My Mind Set on You”s and “We Built This City on Rock and Roll”s, it’s always heartening to see someone wend his way out from the 60s with a touch of dignity. Ayers was part of the original Soft Machine, one of the best and proggiest space-rock outfits of that decade. Not that this sounds like him trying to redo that. Nor does it sound like his sort of tweaked, English Rundgren-sounding stuff from the 70s. It sounds like an album of pleasant old-man songs about things and folks gone by, all with a light dollop of weird. Bonus points for dredging up the saw player from Neutral Milk Hotel!
TAPES 'N TAPES
Walk It Off
This band’s entire career is a figment of Pitchfork’s imagination. What a tuneless, soulless piece of shit this is. It confirms that thing about how you have your whole life to write your first crap record and two short years to prove that you are utterly and completely without talent. Congratulations guys, this is the worst album of ’08 so far. Strong early contender for most resold promo in Williamsburg too.
I always get nervous when I hear girl singers with “pretty voices” because they invariably wind up crammed in the middle of some shitty techno beats or ridiculously overproduced rock song that also features shitty techno beats. This is perfect though. It’s just Hanne and her pleasant little Norwegian voice singing soft tunes over what could be the soundtracks from old kitchen-sink dramas. You should get this and her album from a couple years ago for when the bliss-haze starts to clear.
THIS WILL DESTROY YOU
skillfully avoids the curse of the follow-up with a slightly tighter arrangement of songs that still manages to float by with seemingly effortless appeal. When I was little I stayed in Suzanne Vega’s beach house up in Cape Cod and got pneumonia. Free association brought to you by Dr. Cohen and his refusal to refill my Adderall prescription!
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS
Fuck, I swear I want to like this. It really seems like it could be good. I know these guys have been at it a long time and there’s this big fan base and all, but really? REALLY? I just can’t back it at all. It sounds like Mo Rocca reading from a dictionary at about 50 words a sentence too many while two-year-olds beat on kettledrums and violins. It’s all about as fun and interesting as a five-course vegan dinner.
ILYA E. MONOSOV
Seven Lucky Plays, or How to Fix Songs for a Broken Heart
Language of Stone
Heeeewwwly shit, look at this guy. Really, just take your time and soak it in… Get lost in his gaze. Contemplate his headband. Ponder his goatee. Mull over his shiny, greasy, orange face. I have so many questions. Is he crying or stoned? Who told him that this was a good photo? How much does he love himself? And, my God, is he wearing eyeliner? Oh and by the way, his voice sounds EXACTLY like you would imagine, all whispery and brooding and “sensual” (hork!) and he sings things like “When I am in you, I am reminded of my tricycle.” I just spent 20 minutes trying to convince my coworker that this was not a joke. It is not a joke.
Friday Night Lights
has ruined music like this for me. It’s a shame because it’s not half bad, but I can’t listen to it without thinking about high school football, and then as the music continues to “build to epic crescendos”/“do the same thing over and over again,” my mind wanders even more and pretty soon I’m thinking about the scene in
where Billy Bob Thornton beats up that 13-year-old.
He sounds like he’s a top-hatted traveling merchant in a Broadway musical who’s trying to sell you a magical elixir—except, here’s the thing, I love it? I tell you, if I’m gonna buy me an elixir, it’s gonna be from this motherfucker. Then I would be the fat jolly guy in the crowd who climbs onstage and tries the potion and then, holding my lapels jauntily, I would burst into song, going, “Your elixir, good saleman, has done what it should/ I’d give a stout day’s ha-penny for that, I would!”
Now this would have gone perfectly with Imaad’s portrait of gypsy Bathory up there. Droney jams that lull along like desert winds before oscillating up to the surface and conjuring photo-negative ranks of skulls, all cackling and swinging around. Figuratively speaking, I mean. Obviously. Shame they don’t do laser shows anymore.
Apologies if she’s a great-aunt or something, but if you’re going to put the female version of Vlad Tepes on the cover of your album you need to be bringing something a little heavier to the table than competent Neil Young retreads.
This is somewhere between the soothing sounds of Growing and the terrifying sounds of the nightmare I had about giant half-spider-half-sloths chasing me through my high school cafeteria, except it’s not really my high school cafeteria? It’s more like Lloyd’s house from
The Legend of Billie Jean
? Anyway, I can’t think of any good reason to ever listen to this again.