Thursday, July 12, 2018

Famous Logs in History - Famous Logs in History [Fuzzy Warbles]/Portopak - Bull Inside the Echo Chamber [No Label]

Some longhairs out there are all about them long tapes: "c-60, c-90, c-120, who cares? It just means the trip's gonna last longer" or so they say. But, you know what, life moves fast and some of us got responsibilities—we've got no time to waste so give us the straight dirt. These, here, oxides do that in spades, or more precisely in as few spades as necessary. Enjoy Part 1 of this two part series on short-ass tapes.

Famous Logs in History - Famous Logs in History [Fuzzy Warbles]
I've never heard of these Famous Logs before but when you're talkin' log, the barometer for fame can't be too tough. I mean we're talkin' The Log Lady's log and the list ends there, right? I think I'll table the subject for when the Ladies in the Radiator send me a tape so I can get on with this review.
The Logs don't do anything particularly "new" on this c-10 but it is a thin slab of fine solid oak. Wound up to a springy consistency, not spiky but still prickly, the whizzbang maestros deliver four twinkling, clean-ish toned power pop tunes in under 10 minutes. "Ground" thumps away with a clipped jangle, and a repeated sax-like bleat seals it for me at the midpoint. Before you know it, that's a wrap. "Crawling for Freedom" is comparatively expansive lasting beyond the two minute mark with an actual repeated verse-chorus structure.
"Slabsides" is the hit of the bunch, with a rev'd up bassline and earworm keyboard line replete with a split-second feedback freakout. Thumbs up to that one. Before waving goodbye, the Logs throw their hat in the ring to be the voice of the Trump generation with the one-minute mantra "(This is) Not Normal". Sing along with them, you'll feel better.
I'm reminded a bit of Montreal's Sheer Agony (who delivered their own brief but tasty delight once upon a time) but the Logs are a bit more single-minded in their aesthetic.
The tape is available at a bargain basement price from Fuzzy Warbles. Check it out!

Portopak - Bull Inside the Echo Chamber [No Label]
Ah, the cassingle, the much maligned and underappreciated format. Feels great to get one of these from time to time and this one arrives via Pittsburgh's Portopak. Portopak comes with the disclaimer of "Gameboy + Guitars = Portopak" and I gotta say I always get a bit of insta-apprehension whenever I read "Gameboy" as an instrument. Portopak is firmly in the 8-bit pop category, but the burner on the first side transcends that innately-limited categorization.
After a frenetic intro right out of the home screen of an unpublished game, "Bull Inside the Echo Chamber" jets off to a hot start. Employing my favorite guitar, the Squier Affinity Stratocaster, Portopak a.k.a. Justin Channell lets it rip shaping the track into vintage video game guitar pop. The relentless fuzzy, buzzy bassline generated courtesy of the Casio SK-1 or the ubiquitous Gameboy anchors the whole damn thing with a viscid energy providing an effective foil to Channell's soft, somewhat distant vocals. The heavily hummable sugar rush is about as perfect as something in this vein can sound, at least to these un-chiptuned ears.
The flipside brings the "The Unfriendly Dreamer" a solid enough instrumental piece that leans into bouncy Nintendo pulse waves in a surprisingly fluid manner. It's not something I'll probably ever reach for specifically but it does its job as a b-side providing you a solid soundtrack while you bask in the afterglow of the hit on Side A. Your mileage will vary based on how enamored you are with those signature beeps and boops.
Three bucks nets you both tracks suspended in oxide coating. HERE

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Garbage Man - Tobacco Bong Rips [Personal Militia/Forbidden Place]/Slush - Frog Water [Personal Militia]

When a package showed up from Sheboygan, WI, I thought it might be some Gus Polinski & The Kenosha Kickers reissues. I was wrong. So wrong.

Garbage Man - Tobacco Bong Rips [Personal Militia/Forbidden Place]
This ain't news anyone but there's a lot of irony in music these days. Not so with Garbage Man. They named their band Garbage Man and they sound like a band named Garbage Man. Tobacco Bong Rips is a double-A-side cassette-turned-sludge barge zippin' down the Mississippi. The guitar player's named Nick Duude, the bass player's named Roach and the drummer's named Jeff, so you know you're in the right place.
This thing is heavy on the bass frequencies, at least on my system. The guitar and bass are nearly indistinguishable creating a thick fuzzy morass on "Hillbilly Kick Squad" punctuated by the pop of the snare drum and Duude trying to shout above the racket.  The 49 second "Dinners" and "Engine" drift more into hardcore territory while "Sea Shanty for Planet Hopping" delves into some straight up metal riffing. Somewhat ironically, my favorite track is the "bonus" entitled "Belinda Would Make a Good Car Aisle" which is less Melvins, more 90s Touch & Go.
The bottom line is simple: Garbage Man lives to pummel. There aren't many hooks here, so only listen if you want to get thumped. Don't worry, the bloody nose is normal.
There is one big no-no here though, dudes you gotta get your spine right side-up next time around.
Nab the tape here or if you prefer your sludge served on a platter you can pre-order Tobacco Bong Rips on a blue and red 7" at the same link. But no "Belinda" on that one so choose wisely.

Slush - Frog Water [Personal Militia]
While we're on the subject of band names, "Slush"instantly evokes the vibe here sounding like some short-lived slumrock outfit that split a 7" on AmRep in '93 and disappeared. That sort of gets you in the general range, but Slush, to their credit, throw a staggering number of curveballs making it difficult to actually identify what the hell they are.
The 80 second blast "Your Place" kicks things off in style, riding a relentless riff that sounds like it's emanating from a battery powered amp. Slush quickly shift gears to a heavily 'verbed organ-driven surf ditty called "Predator" topped off with plenty of ride cymbal. The singer is barely a blur in the midst of everything. Didn't see that one coming.
Much like their brothers in Garbage, Slush shows a hardcore side on "H.O.L.E."--but not content to be merely conventional, I'm pretty sure they've stuck a trumpet in the mix somewhere. The title track makes be think Slush might just be fucking with me with a long-ass intro chugging along on a cello riff and some cackling right out of the 60s spooky surf  genre. If the Bomboras could get a major label record deal, why can't these guys? I didn't even mention that the eventual frenetic riot marking the middle of the track ultimately breaks up into a weird lounge act.
"Losing" is maybe even the most unexpected track (are those 7th chords?) with a surprising bit of Strokes-vibes (circa the one good album they made) with a reasonably compact space-prog conclusion. I don't know what's going on but I'm feelin' it.
"Victim" gets your head throbbing again malformed into a degenerative half-breed of "Zoo Music Girl" and Faith No More-style jitter metal. Sweet. They wrap Side A with a campfire singalong "In the Junkyard" because of course they would.
Opening the second side, "To Mind or Care" dips back into those space-prog vibes lead by echoing piano strikes and militant snare rolls hitting the post-rock power ballad target with ease. The average song length just about doubles on the flip so Side B brings different, more expansive and/or dirge-like vibes than the spunky, agitated Side A. The final track is an unholy collision of 50's doo-wop ballad and arena metal rave up, and, yeah, it's about as strange as that sounds.
All in all, this is a weird weird and warmly welcome dose of mad rock & roll science.
Slurp some Slushy Frog Water here.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Ivy Meadows - Zodiac [Moon Glyph]/Capricorn Vertical Slum - "Various Portals & Sleazo Inputs Vol. 1: Tourism" [Moon Glyph]

We have a salty/sweet astrological double feature on the docket this evening from the Bay Area's preeminent lunar linguists at Moon Glyph. Let's get to it.

Ivy Meadows - Zodiac [Moon Glyph]
The praises of this one have already been sung by much sharper individuals than I, so I'm not sure how helpful me chiming in is, but that's a question I've asked since AO's inception. Why answer it now?
From the first glimpse of Zodiac my antennas were up: (1) We've got a handsomely packaged tape with a watercolor of a spirit woman (wrong term I'm sure) on the cover with the scrawled subtitle "Magic is life." (2) We've got a heavy dose of the astrology horseshit that I've spent nearly 30 years ignoring in the form of 12 tracks each named for a sign of the zodiac. (3) And, perhaps most importantly of all, this is a long-ass tape. (Hard to tell with pro-dubs but probably a c-90.) I was all ready to write the "how many fucking 90 minute neo-New-New-Age cassettes do we actually need on our cramped shelves?" think piece which I'm sure would have gone over swimmingly. Ivy Meadows threw a wrench in my plans, however, because after a few listens I gotta say this is good stuff. Meadows a.k.a. Camilla Padgitt-Coles is clearly very skilled at crafting these ethereal wisps and imbuing them with gravity (I've heard legions of mediocre drones in my day, so it's easy to spot talent when I hear it.) She doesn't just drench everything in reverb and call it good. Rather, Padgitt-Coles finds the right balance between too-little and too-much nearly every time. And this thing just sounds stellar (props to Zeljko McMullen's mastering as well).
The extent of my criticism of Zodiac is simply that it's too long. "Taure" is nice but I don't need 9 minutes of it. With the most unambiguous rhythms on display, "Géminis" gets the blood pumping near the middle of the album which is welcome but it could stand a bit of editing as well. Yet, because I'm forever the hypocrite, the longest track "Capricorn" may actually be my favorite. Go figure, I'm just a mixed up kid.
 As with all things this comes down to taste, some folks wanna jam out to the dulcet tones of Zodiac for an hour and a half, other folks (me) would rather have an abridged c-30 but the vibes are good ones nonetheless.
Grab the tape from Moon Glyph here.

Capricorn Vertical Slum - "Various Portals & Sleazo Inputs Vol. 1: Tourism" [Moon Glyph]
Sticking with the zodiac theme, we move on to Capricorn Vertical Slum. The stars aligned for me on this one (is that how astrology works?) as I came across this cassette of an early Moon Glyph vintage (MG13 if you're a nerd) during some bandying about the state earlier in the year. The differences from Ivy Meadows are stark, but I always welcome differences into my tape deck.
In fact, the vibes fit well within the "that's my shit" zone. Buzzy, scuzzy, slob-on-the-outside/savant-on-the-inside hand smeared tunes. Probably a lazy comparison but Psychedelic Horseshit popped to mind, though CVS eschews the against-the-grain, "fuck you" petulance for a more eager-to-please beating pop heart. In particular, "Palatial Estates in Wallpaper" and "The Best Cocaine in the Canyon" are wisely indebted to Marc Bolan's bubblegum stomp and it doesn't take a lot of squinting to imagine a different version of rock history featuring a teenage T. Rex whittling away on his Tascam during the summer of 1989. Even the ballad on the b-side is really a well-formed change of pace in the bedroom genius mold. Eight good songs, zero bad ones, no time wasted, thumbs up. I wish reviewing music was always this easy.
And now for the bad news, according to Discogs, there hasn't been any new music from Capricorn Vertical Slum (or its single credited member, Colin Johnson) in eight long years. Basically, where the fuck is Various Portals & Sleazo Inputs Vol. 2? What gives, Universe?
You are in luck however, because these suckers are still for sale on Moon Glyph's website for a lowly fiver. Act on your impulse here.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Graham Repulski - Success Racist [Rok Lok]

As is plain to see, reviews have been on a downward trend for the past, I don't know, many years. This is not because I lack great music to write about, but because I'm old and busy now. And because I'm a loquacious blowhard who starts writing (and writing, and writing) a review and rarely gets around to finishing it before some life thing happens that requires my attention. I never seem to get back in the zone to finish what I've started. 

So many casualties litter the graveyard of half-written drafts that I'm scared to whistle past the place. Basically, I don't have the time to write a treatise on a twenty minute cassette like in my younger days. So that means I have to change. More specifically, I have to force myself to change. It will be better for everyone; more artists will get reviews and I won't feel like such an unproductive dirtbag. At least, if things go according to plan--which, in all honesty, has never been my strong suit. 

To focus my energies, I've created a hard and fast rule of 300 words or less for each review going forward. A rule to live and die by. A rule to never be broken. On my first try--this review you're currently about to read--I ended up with just under 500. Which I think is a pretty good start. Rome wasn't built in a day folks.

This is a tape I've listened to (and enjoyed) a lot the past couple years but it's proven quite tricky to write about, alas the radio silence. Success Racist sounds EXACTLY like early Guided By Voices. I mean exactly--this is some Wolfgang Beltracci-level artistry. And, just to be clear, this is not a pejorative statement. The production, the hiss, it's spot on. But the truly beguiling quality of the whole affair is the songwriting. The entire history of rock & roll is founded on out and out theft, so hearing an artist heavily indebted to prior forerunners is an everyday occurrence. If I had a dollar for every time I discovered that a band I thought to have an "original" sound had been beat to it 20 or 30 years earlier... well, you know what I'd be. All that said, I've never heard someone inhabit another songwriter's skin so completely and so triumphantly. I mean the only real explanation is science-fiction. Clearly, through a series of strange, forbidden experiments, Repulski has re-animated the corpus or corpse (if yr into conspiracies) of Bob Pollard from half a million beers ago. If not more.

Even the lyrics are suspiciously on point, the kind of idiosyncratic nonsense I've become so invested in after hours and hours of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes despite never having a clue what the fuck Bob and Tobin are talking about. Case in point, my favorite track: "James Run". I have no idea what the "James Run" is or means, but man, when Repulski sings "Where did you go? Where did you go in the 'James Run?" I really feel it. I couldn't tell you why but I do. Over and over again. Or "Crying Machine Shakes at the Moon" which, I mean just look at the title. The money shot, "And counting backwards from suicide..." just pops up into my head from time to time. And that's the special thing about this, most of these songs can stand shoulder to shoulder with just about any from the classic GBV era. So many of these songs have carved little homes in my brain just like the GBV records that came before them.

Things do go a bit sideways at times, whenever I hear the opening notes of "Elevator Tricks" my brain automatically thinks I'm about to be hearing "The Ugly Vision" from Alien Lanes and then realizes it isn't. Don't know if this is really a bad thing but it is a disruption in an otherwise seamless listening experience.

This is the only Repulski tape I've heard so whether this is a life-long commitment or a one-album experiment, I don't know. But it is a success, that's for damn sure.

Oh and Graham, what's a "success racist"?

The tape can be obtained from Rok Lok here (two copies left!) If you have a proclivity for compact discs you can get one from the artist himself here.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sea Moss - Bread Bored [Crash Symbols]

After grabbing my first Crash Symbol at a local cassette retailer (a nice tape by French cruisers Exotic Club) this cassette by Portland, OR duo Sea Moss showed up in the mail a day later, along with a banger by Charles Barabé and Ratkiller. I guess the universe just has my back sometimes.
I'm still a Crash Symbols neophyte but from the few I've heard it seems like they hop around between different sonic territories without skipping a beat which is certainly a favorite quality to find in a label.
The sonic territory Sea Moss fits into is pretty easy to peg in my mind. The duo of Noa Ver on electronics and voice and Zach Agostino on drums would have nestled in quite nicely among early 00s Load Records jammers like Lightning Bolt, Neon Hunk and Friends Forever. So anyone yearning for those simpler days ought to give Bread Bored a whirl pronto.
Sea Moss is at its best when Agostino's grooves swing thick and heavy as on the opener "Diurnal Enuresis" or the dance floor-filler "It's Pudding Time!" building a sturdy, funky trunk for Ver to provide some leafy color to with her electronic whatzits. Ver's heavily distorted and (I'm pretty sure) wordless voice forms the spine of much of her contribution in the duo as in the middle of "Wanna Sea a Trick?" but with her hands on home-made oscillators as well that's hardly the extent of it. Her electronics pump and pulse with abandon and at times it seems like they may be processing the drums as well. "Sea Section" kicks off a kind of Skin Graft-y skronk-punk vibe that seems to balance the three elements with relentless percussion, quivering synth melodies and feverish exhalations finding equal footing.
When it ends, Bread Bored's got me reaching for that Black Pus/Foot Village LP for another dose to keep the party going.
This isn't a criticism per se, but I will note that the tape is not particularly dynamic in its production or composition. Bread Bored sounds like Ver and Agostino doing their thump 'n squelch routine in real time in a dark, moist room somewhere in the Pacific Northwest--the kind of environment where moss thrives, no doubt. There's no studio wizardry here, bedroom or otherwise. The tape's designed to give you a hearty jolt of what it's got and nothing more, and considering Sea Moss is in and out in twenty minutes they do their job mighty well. File this one under the "In the Mood to Jam!" section of your library.
There is one (that's right! one!) copy left for sale so if you're interested hit up Morgantown's finest outpost without delay.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme 2.0: Episode #3

Finally the long, long, long delayed episode 3 is up. This was put together months ago before catching on a technical snag that I couldn't get resolved before the holidaze hit home. The tunes sound even better in 2018 though.

On tonight's episode: whiz bang clatter and profound speech patterns. Enjoy!

"Realistic Binaural Haircut" Steve Flato Simulation of Another Thing [Tape Drift, 2016] (CDr)
"Sunken Wounds" German Army Diaspora of Intolerance [Dub Ditch Picnic, 2017] (2xCD)
"Communication" Charles Barabé Avant-Garde Avorton Romantique/Transrational Suite [Crash Symbols, 2017] (CS)
"Safari, Church Style ('I, the People, Cut Into Squares')" Me, Claudius Reasons for Balloons [Dinzu Artefacts, 2017] (CS)
"3 Points (excerpt)" Bent Pyramid Trio Split with Shouts from the Sea [Eiderdown, 2016] (CS)
"Side A (excerpt)" Bent Spoon Duo Fossils of Slumber [Holy Cheever Church, 2009] (CS)
"Mmória Doç (Intro)" Zarabatana Fogo na Carne [A Giant Fern, 2015] (CS)
"......" Invasive Species Invasive Species [No Label, 2017] (CS)
"Side B (excerpt)" Red Horse Red Horse [REL, 2009] (LP)
"Oliva #92/Oliva #121" Francesco Covarino Olive [Thirsty Leaves, 2017] (CD)
"C" Addleds Mottle [Weird Ear, 2013] (CS)
"Record Collecting" Joe Bussard No Title [No Label, ????] (CS)

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