COLONIES OF BEES
From Babylon to Timbuktu
Bitch I’m a Player
Anticon If Alias would have put this out under, ermm, well, an alias, this review might have went something like “This obviously talented producer would do well to expand his musical vocabulary beyond the realm of glitched beats that the Anticon crew perfected more than a decade ago.” With that in mind, Alias, do you remember when your productions sounded urgent, fresh, and unlike anything else in the realm of hip-hop? I do.
ROY CRUNK III
Roach Gigz recently released this free EP via his website to hold people over until his debut album drops this fall. The beats are good, but he overuses those robotic transitional noises. Know what I mean? Like where in between songs all of a sudden it’s all BOOOOWHOOOOO? Albums like this always have one sensitive song that’s out of place, and it’s always the one I skip. I don’t care about your feelings, I just wanna hear more rhymes about your hairy balls.
V2/Cooperative Music USA/Downtown Records
Warp When the first track started it was all twinkles and low refrigerator groans, which made me think that maybe Hudson is chillwave now, a thing I’m told that you can be. According to Wikipedia, HudMo doesn’t like being referred to as “aqua-crunk” or “wonky,” which apparently are names that English people think are acceptable to call things. Back in my day, if it was electro that could double as hip-hop beats with sound effects like a science-fiction movie, then we called it chillwave and everyone was happy.
Fade to Mind
HERCULES & LOVE AFFAIR
Moshi Moshi This is the kind of music you can imagine Karl Lagerfeld playing in his mansion while being fellated by a nubile twink whose cock looks like the top half of a question mark. Pretty much every track on Blue Songs puts two hairless naked Asian boys dancing on either side of whatever you happen to be looking at. If all the Eagles were super-queer, lived in Chelsea in 1992, and decided to pick up some Rolands and cash in way too late on acid house, they might have made this between tokes of crank.
Minimal Wave One of my main pet peeves in music journalism is when pompous collector scum refer to records as “sides.” It’s not the 60s, jazzbos... but I guess I’m going to go ahead and be annoyed at myself by using it here because it actually applies. Side B is a totally OK collection of tunes. Side A, however, is now one of my favorite sides of all time. No exaggeration. Super-inventive, early-80s B-boy-influenced electro and proto-Euro-robo-bounce (a term I originally made up as a stoned joke but have since started using in earnest). I wish this thing were released like old NYC house and hip-hop records back in the day, with two copies in each sleeve so I could spin doubles all day, every day.
Oof, I just realized Underworld put out a record last year and promoted it by playing on Jimmy Fallon. Imagine a 90s party guy watching that, wondering why his kid won’t fall asleep. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the early-morning hours, hundreds of smart dudes with laptops were ripping weird house parties apart with the first Nguzunguzu EP. Put this new one on in an empty concrete room with a strobe light and a huge system and see what happens.
ARCHERS OF LOAF
Icky Mettle (Remastered)
Merge True story: I won this CD from a suburban indie radio station when it came out in 1993. I was 16 years old and had to sneak out of the house to pick it up. My best friend and I blasted it over and over again, memorizing all the words we could actually make out, since the recording was fuzzy and distorted the way all these eunuchs wish they could make their Pro Tools EPs these days. And now Archers of Loaf have gone and remastered it… and I can hear everything, most notably that the guitar doesn’t sound so hate-filled and shrill, and my adult ears appreciate that. No nostalgia lost on cleanliness here, as I’m still doing exactly what I was back then: blasting this in my parents’ suburban kitchen and eating a whole tray of cinnamon buns with a fork. Except, like this record, I feel a lot better about life.
Out of Love
Sub Pop Grungy doo-wop (they insist on “doom-wop”) by the guy from Man Man, Nick Thorburn of Islands and the Unicorns, Joe Plummer from Modest Mouse, and frikkin’ Michael Cera on bass. On paper it’s a kickass fantasy-league lineup, but it fails for the same reason OkCupid threesomes always do: Everyone is too busy blowing their own load to focus on what’s best for the group.
Sub Pop Male Bonding is middle-of-the-road. “Which road?” you may ask. And I will reply: “BoDeans Blvd.” If pedal effects weren’t Sonic Youth-ly asserted at the end of every track, I’d probably be thinking, “Isn’t this the Party of Five theme song?” and then be very, very disappointed that it wasn’t.
THE HAPPY THOUGHTS
The Happy Thoughts
HoZac Are the members of this band Mormons? It sounds like it. In the liner notes they credit the kids’ show Yo Gabba Gabba! for the chorus of their anthem, and the show’s creator, aka main guy from the Aquabats, is Mormon. Some of the most put-together people I’ve met were Mormon, but this record is pretty fucking dull, which is something else I’ve picked up from the Mormons I’ve met.
THE ICARUS LINE
Roar Scratch Hold on, we’re giving the Icarus Line a fucking smiley? What’s going on with this decade?
Sickness and Health
ORG Music This record makes me feel like I’m trapped in a sweaty bathroom with a man doing copious amounts of cocaine and talking incessantly and I feel the walls caving in and there is no escape and what is that in the toilet and I think I’m going crazy and wait did he say he was going to stab me and I’m nervous but I like this feeling, which is coincidentally very similar to every single night I have been shanghaied by the singer of this band.
Ipecac/Three One G
Swimming Through Sunlight
Old Flame If this band doesn’t scream FUN, I don’t know what does. See the album cover? It’s a fucking brontosaurus eating an ice cream cone. He doesn’t care about his lactose intolerance because he knows, for goddamn sure, that no amount of gassy bloating competes with the pure, ass-kicking bliss of Smurf-flavored ice cream. Total Babes blast it out with joyful sqwonks of exuberance that remind you life’s too short and lovely to worry about farting.
Permanent Records Not enough people are glorifying serial killers these days even though it’s a surefire way to get some attention. Naming your band after the guy better known as the Dallas Ripper and the Eyeball Killer (because he would surgically remove the eyes of prostitutes after shooting them) is a good first step. Making a really noisy, screechy punk record where you command your listeners was the second good thing you did. The third good thing was giving me a copy. The Spits already have a song called “Drop Out,” but telling people to drop out is important.
Thrill Jockey Oh, this is sweet. My old coworker Amy hated these guys because they sounded like a Doors cover band under an 80-layer lasagna of reverb and vocal delay. We used to get in actual, full-on fights about it, one of which ended with the C-word (cunt). Well, here they are now giving the drug-scarred Garfield treatment to Spacemen 3 (almost her all-time favorite band) and Amy ain’t around to say shit about it. Hahahaha. Enjoy working at the New York Times, SUCKER.
Merge Here’s an album of hard-to-find Stephin Merritt tracks. I completely forgot how cheap the synths sounded on all those old Magnetic Fields albums. Some of the time they blend in with the music, but mostly I wish I could switch off the chintzy sound effects and just hear the freaking songs. That said, there’s an early version of “I Don’t Believe You” that shoves me so hard into the past I’m winded and crying.
Out of this Spark This is ominously good mood music for a violent witch ritual in the woodseven its title is cribbed from a creepy Edgar Allan Poe poem. And the band’s new namethey went by Ghost Bees on their debutis a reference to fortune-telling with tea leaves. Obviously, Canadian twins Sari and Romy Lightman are on that spooky shit. On Ulalume, they offer down-tempo dirges and detailed ethereal lyrics that put this record in a sonic space somewhere between Cass McCombs latest album, Wit’s End, and Nico’s classic The Marble Index.
WILBERT L. COOPER
Acéphale I looked at the S/M cover and I thought this was going to be some terrible 80s German industrial reissue, but thankfully it’s a lot of heavy reverb crooning and spaced-out guitar echoes. Despite their name, I don’t really want to take ecstasy to this. I’m actually rather content to sit here with these eight-ounce mini-beers that the bodegas sell around this time of year. Super-syrupy and gauzy Texas psychgood for quarry swimming or just staring at your ceiling.
Pendu Sound Recordings I hit play on this without realizing the volume was all the way up and damn near shit my pants. Why do these goth broads have to be all Emily Rose about everything? It’s not cute. And this particular one is from California, so I call bullshit. If you want me to buy into your “I sleep in a cedar trunk” shtick, you better live in Antarctica or Siberia or on the moon. Aside from the initial assault and that fact that no one will ever be able to pronounce the name of this thing (“apokalypsis”), I got into it. It’s all drums and talk of demons, which we could all use more of.
Merge This sounds like an old guy who works really hard, loves writing music, and doesn’t know anything about the internet (he has a Flash website) but is operating under the impression that music is weirder now than it used to be. There’s movement, tension, out moments, strange instrumentationall that. Some of the lyrics are nice. He’s from Lubbock.
COLLECTIONS OF COLONIES OF BEES
Hometapes Vegan food is funny to me because its creators are REALLY pleased with themselves when they replicate a B-rate version of the real thing. “These pancakes aren’t bad, right?... There’s no dairy!!!” But the thing is they would’ve been regular good if you had followed the recipe. This record “isn’t bad,” but it probably would have been regular good if they had followed the recipe and found one of the billions of sad dipshits in the world who want to sing for an indie-rock band and employed him. So it’s OK, I guess. But why do we hate milk again?
I hate almost every band this guy has ever been associated with and most things on Sub Pop these days and, if we’re going to be honest here, most things that aren’t me or my immediate circle of friends. But I put it on last night when I got home from the bar and remember feeling a little lighter, a little better, and I wrote what was, upon rereading it this morning, a pretty thoughtful email to my seventh-grade social-studies teacher. So I don’t know, good on you, Fruit Bats (or that last bump), for all of that.
Back from the Brink
Now-Again Kouroush is an Iranian fellow who played in a British Invasion/surf cover band called the Raptures in Tehran during the 60s, then grew a mustache and tried to start combining traditional Persian music with Kenny Rogers and the First Edition-esque cash-in psych rock. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979 he was forbidden from playing and his music has sat moldering on the shelves, far from Western ears ever since. It’s possible this has more to do with his songs sounding cheesier than James Taylor’s palate after a Denny’s Grand Slamwich, but I’m going to go with my Uncle Ken and blame the Islam.
Finders Keepers Finders Keepers has now tackled one of the most prolific artists from the Kollywood film industry, and while Ilaiyaraaja already scored more than 900 films, he’s about to score every bar night you have for the rest of the year, because this stuff is heavy and dance-y. But please stop Shazam-ing it and telling your DJ you know what album it is, because that’s annoying everyone.
Secretly Canadian This is a pretty perfect title because Tig is one of the good ones. Also because it’s that thing you say when someone makes a joke. A lot of comedians use repetition as a crutch to make slightly funny things funnier, but Tig repeats things that are already so hilarious, by the third time she says them you have to put your head down and make a breathing tube with your hands to avoid blacking out. She also does nonrepeater jokes that are every bit as oxygen-depleting. On top of it all she is a tiny, elfin lady, and if I were a magic giant I would pick her up by the scruff of her neck and keep her in my purse as a secret emergency friend.
THE UNPOP SOUND
Candy Anne/Three Eyed Gemini 7"
Discriminate Audio This is a record by Shaun Partridge and other members of the Partridge Family Temple pressed on hand-numbered lime-green vinyl. The first track is an upbeat electro-pop song about Anne Frank, and the B-side begins with some weird psychedelia while Sean Partridge asks, “Can I be Anne Frank with you?” (Kaleidoscope Partridge responds, “Yes, you can.”) It ends in a locked loop too, which is awesome and very important to people like me who love when records have alternate grooves and junk.
BRIAN M. CLARK
Songs from the Empty Places Where People Killed Themselves
Discriminate Audio If you don’t know Discriminate Audio, they mostly put out stuff that Boyd Rice or the Partridge Family Temple is involved with. This record is by Boyd’s biographer and features four tracks of vocal-less, organy numbers about different suicides. The press release says that they are tone poems, but I am pretty sure they were made in GarageBand. Track 2 is called “Downtown High-Rise Loft” (a drunken executive staggers around his apartment all evening, untilin an uncharacteristic moment of impulsive melodramahe blows his brains out). This is a surprisingly fun record that is good to put on when you’re feeling suicidal. It’s actually cheering me up right now!
Friends of Friends You know that place your old friend from middle school takes you every time you’re visiting from out of town? The bar where the tablecloths are white, the staff wears black, the drinks all end in -tini, and every time you return from the bathroom the bartender is hitting on your date? This is the sort of monotonous, safe ambient music that those places use to lull you into the belief that it’s chic to pay $14 for a drink.