Tuesday, January 30, 2007

They Don't Have Burritos in the UK?

The Rebel
Bums on a Rock 7" EP
Flitwick Records, 2006

Back in late November, good ol' Roland over at the Siltblog tipped his loyal readers to a certain UK label giving away supposedly free records of all varieties. It was called Flitwick Records and the reason they're free is that they couldn't find distro and they figured we'd download them anyway so why not take all the fun out of that and give them away. Anyhow, his review was nice and they had already done a Fall release and there was some sort of Country Teaser connection so I thought I'd try and sign up for the freerec program, not expecting anything to come all the way across the pond just for me. For free?
A month passes by and I get a package with some strange looking postage on it and - holy shit - they actually sent me a free 7''. It was the nicest thing any stranger in this record business had ever done for me. I had heard of lots of record giveaways over the years but never believed that these labels or bands actually came through with it. Doesn't take much to please me, I know...the record didn't even have to be good, it was free!
But you know what? The record they sent me is really fantastic. It's called Bums on a Rock, by the Rebel, the solo project of Teasers leader B.R. Wallers. The sound on this one is pretty far from the scummy, nihilistic Fall-worship of the Teasers discog (he's self-released dozens of cassettes and cdrs under the Rebel moniker, so the sound has got to be developed). In fact, A-side "Bums on a Rock" is almost cheerful, like your junkie uncle shooting up and proceeding to tell stories of a made-up past. The song is just consumed by this stuttering drum loop, which, combined with some liquid guitar warbles, reminds me a lot of the early Beta Band stuff, strangely. His vocals have a really dreamy, druggy vibe, the sort of half-sung banter Wallers has perfected, but here they are more playful, and damn catchy, as he utters the title over and over, along with tales of burritos and gin. I challenge you to listen a few times and consequently remove it from your head, because I have not been as successful.
The remainder of the EP is less immediate but charming just the same. Side-B's "Black Policeman" is mostly a Teaser throwaway, and "Brite Yn's Cnut" is a fairly entertaining bedroom industrial instrumental. You get the sense that the Rebel is Wallers' experimental outlet (surprise!), a place where he can throw anything besides his main band's garage-punk against the wall to see what will stick, only to grab what falls to the ground and piece it back together. I'm intrigued.
As for Flitwick, I've discovered it is run by long-time Teaser friend and current drummer, the Champagne, whose myspace features a cover of Times New Viking's "Devo and Wine". And though it seems the free records will not continue to flow at the pace they have in recent years, it's always worth a try over at the Flitwick site. And a note to Mr. Champagne: these records are worth buying. Cheers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bands to Shave, 1971

Dumb Angel, Dumb Angel cdr
The Lindsay, Live At Fillmore West cdr

It's been kinda slow lately in Columbusland when it comes to new releases, but that's January for you. Luckily I've been handed two stellar cdr EP's of late that should give fans of scruffy indie pop enough hooks to keep warm until more comes our way.
First up is Brad Caulkins' Dumb Angel project, his one-man band that debuted late in 2006 before temporarily leaving the Midwest for Los Angeles. If you know Caulkins from his days with the Jive Turkeys and the Sun, the sounds on this eight song demo will not be a huge surprise: catchy, acoustic guitar-driven 60's pop with a kitchen-sink accompaniment showcasing Brad's numerous musical skills.
Of the six originals here (two covers; one each from Randy Newman and the Everly Brothers) opener "To Be Honest..." is a blueprint for Dumb Angel's style: a love ditty straight from the Zombies songbook recorded a little rough around the edges with acoustic guitar as the base and layers of electric and slide guitar, Beach Boys harmonies and a guitar solo worthy of the Rubber Soul. Oh yeah, there's a sax solo as well. Lot's of stuff going on, all performed by Mr. Caulkins, I'm assuming (great job on the drums too!). "Idle Bell" may be even catchier, if that's at all possible, despite the over-the-top vocal performance. It's a little more Kinksian in spirit - think circa-Village Green album - with flourishes of Spector's wall-of-sound in the production.
Pretty much everything here is of the highest quality, though - even the recording provides quite a bit of craft - and it's a shame for Columbus that Brad only spent a few months playing these songs out. No matter where Caulkins ends up - whether it be Columbus or California - let's hope his Dumb Angel experiment continues. Fans of the Minders, the Shins and another Sun side-project - Sam Brown's You're So Bossy - should take note.

Fortunately for Columbus The Lindsay are staying put, and they continue to bring the pain first felt on last year's masterpiece, Dragged Out, this time in the form of three sound checks from their sold-out shows at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco. While we don't get any songs about Manson Family murder victims, we do get a nice snapshot of the band's past and future. As far as I can tell (please correct me if I'm wrong), "Change My Oil" is a newer track, and it's the gem of this batch. The guitar interplay on it really reminds me of that Neil Young & Crazy Horse bootleg, Live At Fillmore East, which has finally seen the light of day. Two separate guitars twist and turn back and forth between each other to the point where it doesn't matter who's is where, until, during the extended bridge it all falls apart, de-tunes, and eventually joins forces again. John Olexovitch's vocals sound like a less-throaty Steve Wynn...in fact, I hear a lot of the Dream Syndicate in their more recent sound. If anything this song shows off The Lindsay's ability to stretch things out in a short amount of time; it's definitely a strength of theirs. At times during their recent live shows you could even call them Columbus' very finest mini-jam band.
The other two tracks are older songs, and "Thurston Moore Sed" is the band at their brattiest. Grechen Tepper's bass leads the way through a noisy three-chord romp as she and John shout different things that, apparently, Thurston Moore said at one point or another. I have a feeling this would be (or was at one point) local legend Don Bovee's favorite Lindsay song. Closer "The Bachelor" is more of a slow burner, again displaying the feedback-laden talents of lead-guitarist Tom Schmidt and John, while the rhythm section (rounded out by Jim Lavery) riffs on something resembling a reggae beat. All in all an excellent "pseudo EP", as the band is calling it, and definitely an important lesson in the book of Lindsay that all of you should be studying by now. They'll be taking a few months of much-deserved r'n'r while recording a 7" due out in early Spring. We'll be patiently awaiting Dragged Out on vinyl and any new recordings we can get our hands on.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lambsbread: It's What's for Dinner

"King of the Crop" 7"
Skulltones (SKT-002), 2006

I know, I know, yet another release from Delaware, Ohio's Lambsbread, winners of the Robert Pollard Award for Midwest Prolificity in 2006 (actually, in the noise world, John Olson and C. Spencer Yeh collectively hand the statue out). I'm estimating they put out around 10-15 cdr's (edit: the band notified me it was 35 in total!!!...plus 10 on other labels...collect them all!) of their own stuff, not to mention a slew of collabs and stuff from other bands, on their limited-run imprint Maim & Disfigure. But this one here is the trio's debut vinyl release, an unlabeled 7" from the brand new Skulltones label, and damn if the format doesn't suit the 'Bread perfectly.
Now each Lambsbread jam requires a different set of listening rituals depending on where the noise situates in your brain. This one's shorter than usual, so what I've been doing with it is cutting out some cayenne pepper (chili powder works too), snorting a few lines, cranking up the volume and falling to the floor in convulsions. My cat hates the stuff, but it's an excellent soundtrack to a runny nose.
What you actually get here are three bite-sized mini-jams - two on Side A and one filling up Side B - that all seem to serve the same purpose yet build atop each other. The tracks are cleverly edited from what seems to be one longer piece, and the space between the songs are places where the band settles into feedback between more intense passages of strangled/gutted/moaning guitars and a wall of cymbals and snares. By the second side a rhythm forms between the two guitars and the crashing drums until a guitar veers away into near-solo territory, finally converging into a droned 80's sludge-rock beat kicked to death. It's been called a lot of things but in essence, Lambsbread are "free" anything. They can do free jazz or metal or stoned psych or hardcore but it's always left open, always loud as hell and, so far, always done themselves, for themselves, which never gets old to me.
If you are one of the many locals who've been throwing their baguettes up in disgust over these three farmhands, well, you're in luck! Expect a ton of hand-made releases to command frustration and confusion, as well as full-lengths on Parts Unknown and Ecstatic Peace. Also, if you'd like to meet Zac, Kathy and Shane on a more "personal" level, there's a nice feature on the band, including a video interview, on Columbus music site Donewaiting today. They've been picked as one of Columbus' bands to watch in '07.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dudes of the Year, 2006

2007 is already well on it's way, with lots of Columbus-related awesomeness on the horizon, but I wanted to take a few posts over the next week or so to look back on some things of which I'm very happy that '06 brought us. Over at Donewaiting.com, Rob Duffy has recently tallied voting on his first annual Friendship Farm Awards, including the ever-important band of the year category. It was between The Lindsay, Brainbow and Teeth of the Hydra - all great choices, indeed - and though it looks like the very worthy Lindsay are going to take home the crown tonight, there's no doubt in my mind that Teeth of the Hydra are Columbus' band of the year for 2006.
If you asked me what my favorite record out of Columbus from last year was a few weeks ago I'd have told you Dragged Out, by The Lindsay, without hesistation. But I finally got ahold of Teeth's massive Greenland LP (Tee Pee Records, TPE-071) and things have changed. It hasn't left my turntable since. And it sounds heavier with each listen, a heaviness I never thought TOTH - quite simply the loudest band ever from Ohio - could duplicate in a studio.
Greenland manages to do what very few Metal records these days do: to remain balanced, well-written, and consistently bring the heaviness over the entirety of the album. It's stoner without the excruciating intros, it's doom without the heavy-handed spirituality....hell, it could fall into many of the hundreds of sub-genres that have sprouted up in Metal over the past 35 years (a history that these dudes know about extremely well) but Teeth of the Hydra on Greenland are just fucking Metal. That's it. Sure, they channel many of the greats, from proto-legends like Pentagram, to the avant-blackness of Celtic Frost, up through the sludge of the Melvins and the green-worshipping Sleep and even, on side 2's "Narsaq", the legendary Krautrock bands of the 70's. All amounting to the finest Metal record this city has ever heard. It's a monster.
Yup. Miner, Bailey and Stillman had a pretty great 2006. And they deserve it. Seems like this record's been in the making for three years now. But seeing how it came out pretty late in the year (late September), Greenland has a lot of life left for 2007. Teeth didn't get to do as much touring as they wanted and plan on going out West (where I believe they'll do very well) in the spring. Hopefully word-of-mouth continues to spread nationally and some more reviews begin to pop-up because this album and these guys are worthy of all kinds of worship. For now, raise your fists in praise of Teeth of the Hydra - dudes of year, 2006.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Something smells. Oh, it's Bourbon St.

Pink Reason @ Cafe Bourbon St.
Friday, Jan. 12th

I'm gonna take it easy on myself and start out with a nice show preview that nobody will read. But this may just be remembered as one of the best shows of the year in my book, and nothing is gonna top that sweet flyer. I'm handing out best flyer awards already. Anyway, Pink Reason are coming to town this Friday for the first time and I'm freaking excited. The Wisconsin one man-plus create smart, woozily-dark four minute songs that wouldn't be out of place in early 80's Manchester or anytime, Ohio. After a killer 7" last year they are geared up for a full-length, Cleaning the Mirror, on Siltbreeze in early February, among a slew of other releases. They'll be supported on a tour for that record by Columbus' own Psychedelic Horseshit, who've recently tasted the sweet nectar of floor sleeping and stale cigarettes on a mini-tour with my little bro's band Times New Viking (in support of their hot new split 7" on 300%). The TNVers are also psyched about a new album on Siltbreeze, The Paisley Reich, also out Feb. 5th, which will be their last release before starting up their newly inked deal with Matador. Congratulations, pals.
Wow. These bands are busy and will be for the remainder of '07. We're not going to get 3 Horseshit shows a week anymore. And when's the last time you can say you watched 3 Siltbreeze bands on the same bill? Rounding it out will be Sunshine/Moonshine Room, a new project from the makers of the Grave Blankets. Their newly posted songs on myspace sound nice so make sure and get there early.

Population: One

Mission statement. This blog is for me. And for you. But I need to write more and I care a lot about local and regional and national music, among other things, and this is where I'll write my thoughts about them. I call it Population: Doug because I tend to be an asshole and I wouldn't want to drag anyone else into the mess that my opinions might get me in. I'll try and focus on stuff coming out of Columbus, Ohio and to a lesser extent the state of Ohio but I can't promise anything. Surely I'll be writing about Taiwanese occult-folk in a matter of weeks. And I won't narrow my focus to things in the now, because I like a lot of old music...especially old Ohio rock music. Also, I really like music from the future. So hopefully this will be an all-future blog. But who knows. If you'd like me to review, preview, overview, talk about, talk to, or scream at anything by you: the reader, please send or drop off to:

Population: Doug
239 Kingsland Ave.
Apt. 1R
Brooklyn, NY 11222

email me: meisdoug at gmail.com