Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chrome - Alien Soundtracks (1977)


For fans of: Can, Swell Maps, Pere Ubu

This is some crazy psychedelic stuff! It's full of strange audio effects and sounds that give it an alien feeling, but it also has a very prominent electric guitar not far from what you'd find on any classic rock album. The guitar will lure many in, and some very odd beats and sometimes Iggy Pop or Damo Suzukiesque vocals make it surprisingly enjoyable, not just as a novelty, but as a sophisticated piece of music. Something to just sit there to and fryyyyy. - Matthew Foster

'With Creed recruited to replace original member Mike Low (though allegedly Edge initially turned Creed down after the latter appeared wearing a pirate outfit or something similar), Chrome started kicking into high gear at last. While Spain and Lambdin weren't out of the picture yet, cowriting half the songs with Edge, Creed's mind-melting guitar swiftly took prominence, turning a wiggy band into a total headtrip. Rather than just aiming at acid-rock styling, Creed stuffed his fretbending into an evil, compressed aggro-sound, at once psychedelic and totally in-your-face. Edge equals the activity by stepping into the vocal role himself, sounding like Iggy on a live wire with occasional attempts at weird, wailed crooning, while his electronics and drumming starts sounding a lot more vicious and totally scuzzed as well. It's not the short sharp shock of punk rock per se -- it just sounds like the title puts it, alien, sounds and TV samples firing out of nowhere and throwing the listener off balance. That many numbers are constructed out of short fragments adds to the weird overlay. Even the quieter numbers like "All Data Lost" play around with echo and drone to create disturbing results. The songs themselves allegedly were recorded as the soundtrack to a live sex show, which probably goes a long way towards explaining the sex and sci-fi combination of much of the lyrics. Not to mention the titles -- to quote some at random: "Nova Feedback," "Magnetic Dwarf Reptile," and the truly hilarious "Pigmies in Zee Dark" (there's some creepy crooning on this one) and "Slip It to the Android." The artwork adds to the weird effect -- a hand-colored late fifties 'cool' living room and busty babe setup with the band's and album name hand-scrawled in usual Chrome fashion over it, plus huge disembodied eyes and lips that make everything really disturbing. Overall, the combination of screwy sound and art on a budget placed Chrome as something like West Coast cousins of early Pere Ubu and Destroy All Monsters -- not a bad place to be." - AMG

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mclusky - Mclusky Do Dallas (2002)


For fans of: Unwound, Shellac, The Jesus Lizard

Yet another Albini powerhouse. I don't want to give all the credit to him because it takes a good band in the first place to make an album like this, but I can't imagine liking it nearly as much as I did without the Albini sound that is all over this album. The thick bass, crunchy guitars, and loud drums sound great with this style of noise rock that's equal parts punk and indie. With this album, they just don't seem to care whatsoever about anything but the music, and have a much fun as possible keeping the energy at a peak. It's not the best music for the brain, but it'll keep the body as happy as can be. - Matthew Foster

"McLusky Do Dallas is a monumental leap from the somewhat uneven My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours. Comparisons to the Pixies are still inevitable, but McLusky comes out of the closet as a group of extreme noise mongers here. Every bit as dynamic, thunderous, and accomplished as Relationship of Command, Come on Pilgrim, and Nevermind, the album is almost criminal in its continuous, joyous crunchy hooks and all-out sneer. If they were treading water a bit on their debut, they're now masters of sonic punch and, like the Pixies, they might just have producer Steve Albini to thank, as he mans the boards here with genius abandon. Every one of the album's 14 songs is a standout, and with only three of the songs going past the three-minute mark, the band makes its point, drives it home, and pulls out. It's a truly exhilarating listen across every one of its 34 smart, snarling, and loud minutes. The mad vocals of Andy Falkous make Black Francis look like a geeky school kid in comparison, as he rips into bizarre lyrical territory, screaming or whispering about being "naked from f*cking too much," torching restaurants, "cartoon monkeys," "going straight to hell," and having "crazy f*cking times, 'til our Visa card expired." Falkous acts like a mad maestro, conducting the maelstrom of fuzzy guitars that constantly swarm around his snide, sharp vocals. When he pauses midsong to announce "bring on the big guitars" or "my love is bigger than your love, sing it," he's onto something truly special and compelling. The band's sense of timing is stellar, and there's not a false note in sight, as each tempo change highlights a hook or an emotion to a T. "Gareth Brown Says" is a perfect example of McLusky's twisted charm, as Falkous sings, "All of your friends are c**ts, your mother is a ballpoint pen thief," and it immediately brings to mind Lydon's girl from Birmingham. The entire album captures the energy of Blur's "Song 2," only full of conviction, wit, and fury, and filters and rearranges it as if it's been performed by a mad hybrid of the Pixies, the Sex Pistols, Nirvana, the Jesus Lizard, and Joy Division. McLusky Do Dallas is a fascinating, addictive album that never grows old, never takes itself too seriously, and never grates despite its absolutely raging dynamics, and it's one of the best albums of 2002." - AMG

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Burger/Ink - Las Vegas (1998)***


For fans of: DeepChord/Echospace, Porter Ricks, Scion

This has to be one of the finest examples of minimal techno out there. It's subtle and soft in it's approach, while deep and hard at heart. It's also slightly dubby and ambient, combining a seemingly endless groove with a rich atmosphere. If you want techno that is engaging and somewhat trance-inducing, while being easy on the ears, this is perfect. The shifting patters have are something really only possible in techno music, and this is surly a pinnacle of the genre. Matthew Foster

"Quite distanced from the legion of echo-chamber drumkick records in Mike Ink's catalog, Las Vegas presents a series of languid trance numbers that reprise the deep-sea dub of his Studio 1 recordings but without the straight-ahead four-four beats. Obviously, Jörg Burger must deserve much of the credit for Las Vegas, from highlight tracks "Flesh & Bleed," "Milk & Honey," and "Elvism" to the entire Roxy Music connections inherent in just about every song title on the record. If you buy just one Mike Ink record (alternately: if you can find just one Mike Ink record...), it had better be this one." - AMG

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big Blood - Dark Country Magic (2010)


For fans of: MV & EE, Natural Snow Buildings, Charalambides

Very entrancing and blissful music, this is. It's more drone-y than Dead Songs was, but at the same time has a wider variety of moods present. "Ringers in the Fold" had me captivated, then "She-Wander(er)" lifted the atmosphere a bit with a faster tempo and a simple piano melody, then later came "Coming Home Pt. III," which is just straight up beauty. This album is something to sink into and let drag you around it's strange yet joyful world. - Matthew Foster