Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Send Me Stuff

Somebody please send me money to buy a new receiver. Or send me a bat to beat up my old one so that I am forced to get a new one.

I'm off to the local pawn shops to haggle with dudes over stolen electronics.

While I'm at it, here's my new address. Send me stuff. Concealed cash is fine:

239 Kingsland Ave. 1R
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sic Alps Take Flower Power to New Heights

As much as I really wanted to love Sic Alps last year, after the all the hype that snowballed into the Description of the Harbor breakthrough near the year's end, I must admit their recordings weren't marriage material for me. Astute readers will note that I placed the "Strawberry Guillotine" single on my best-of-07 list. Well, looking back, it's not all that great of a 7", and I'll admit to listing it because of the incredible live set I had seen a few weeks before that list was pieced together. I liked Sic Alps and thought they were brilliant live, and Harbor was nice enough, but let's just say I wasn't head over heels for the band's records.

Enter U.S. EZ on, you guessed it, Siltbreeze. Leave it to Tom Lax to get the best effort out of his athletes. I've seen him during practice and the man is nothing short of a drill sergeant. You know Sgt. Hartman, from Full Metal Jacket? Well, Lax makes that character look like Beetle Baily. But his teams know that all the hard work pays off. They sign on the Siltbreeze dotted line, endure training camp and eventually hole-up in a studio until a masterpiece is ready for the boss.

Mission accomplished. Sic Alps have eased into a recorded sound all their own, one that is noticeably more loose than their contemporaries but packs no less of a punch. Their live shows are some of the loudest I've seen in the past few years, but this record relies less on the volume of their sets (and previous records) and puts on a pedestal their brilliant song-craft. The palette is simple and pure: guitars, drums, voice, some bits of piano. The warmth of the recording tells me not a whole lot of overdubs were used. I could be wrong. It just feels like the rooms they record in are a member of the band, as they implement echo, distortion and feedback into the recordings as meticulously as (sometimes more so) any note struck.

The songs alone are surprisingly original creations, surprising because this genre of music usually relies on a structure put in place over forty years back. Take the minute and a half-long "Bathman", which begins as an acoustic Lennonesque echo-laden lullaby, until, thirty seconds in, a transitional burst straight out of Who Sell Out sets into motion frenetic pounds and squawks for the next minute. Then comes "Everywhere, There" a song as beautiful as leaves falling or clouds drifting, but is taken to new heights with their fuzzily loose execution. That it rivals the heart-wrenching renditions The Band performed of Dylan songs says enough. Songs this sweet have never graced the Siltbreeze racks. And there's the whimsical "Gelly Roll Gum Drop" a nod to the classic '66 psychedelic era in Britain, with it's stuttering word-play and one-note piano clanging along, it would make Kevin Ayers proud.

That time and place, mid-60's Britain, is obviously their inspiration for much of U.S. EZ, right down to the newspaper headline-themed artwork found inside. Tin Pan Alley on acid in Autumn is the feel, and you could very well file it next to such classics as Something Else or Soft Machine Vol. 1. But filing this one away is not on the minds of anyone who's heard this magnificent record, which when it's all said and done, is likely the best album you'll hear all year.

Go buy it straight from the Laxman himself at S i l t b r e e z e d o t c o m.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day Creeper vs. Night Of Pleasure. Or, a Saltair II Party Put to Wax

I was really pumped to see a package from 71 W. Tulane, Columbus, aka Saltair 2, in my hallway last week containing the brand new split 7" between pop-powerman Day Creeper and basement patriots Night of Pleasure, 'cause quite frankly there haven't been any budget parties like they throw in Clintonville here in Brooklyn. What I'm saying is I needed a freebie.

Not that this split isn't worth your hard-earned cash, because it is, as it features some of Cowtown's hardest working dudes and the best tunes they've written to date. Night of Pleasure have really gelled since adding new bassist Michael J. Hinze (two posts in a row, what am I gay for the guy?) to the mix, all Summer seeming determined to crunch out tighter sets and better tunes. They've recently wrapped a week-long tour of the great Midwest in support of this platter which I'm sure they're very proud of, as the songs reveal a new-found bravado in their sound. "Spasm Chasm" throbs for a solid minute until Dave Trenoff's guitar slashes through the whole groove, essentially engulfing the song. "Spasm", though, plays out as one long intro to what maybe NoP's best song yet, "Hipster Downgrade", a three-chord anthem featuring singer Jim Cowman's most melodic moment. Beneath the feedback and pounding rhythm is a flat-out expertly-written song. To top it all off NoP continue their tradition of including vintage nudity in their design. Well done.

Day Creeper
is the year-old project of Aaron Troyer (Outerspacist drummer, Malabar Brothers guitarist), one of the freshest songwriters out of Ohio I've heard in years. He writes upbeat power-pop comparable to recent acts like Romance Novels or the The Pizzas. His songs are suitable for both the simple guitar-drums set-up (what he's done live) or a more fleshed-out group sound, and he chooses to display both sides here. And apparently Aaron is allergic to duds, as I've heard at least an album's worth of tunes, each one better than the last and all played to perfection, medium-rare. Anyway, "And How!" features the more stripped-down trebly sound, complete with a xylophone lead, while "My Blue Screen" boats a fuller, in-the-red production. There's keys, bass, raw guitar, a great singalong whoosh and a snarl to it that vintage Costello couldn't even touch. Great job Aaron! More, please.

You can get this puppy from the bands spaces or maybe Florida's Dying. Goner may get some back in stock.