Monday, August 25, 2008

The Internet Gets Better Every Day...

So while you're here, you know, in front of a computer and all, not looking at porn, you should do these things I tell you. There are other places to go, and blogs to see, and links to click. For instance...

It's a total bummer to read that Detailed Twang is taking another extended break from posting, because Jay Hinman's musical tastes are so closely aligned with mine it is silly. I can understand, as anyone who frequents this place will know, this music blogging thing can suck the fun out of music. For the past two years Detailed Twang has been the place for dozens of mp3's a week of punk, post-punk and anything else that falls under Jay's radar. But more importantly you get his wit and intellect to go with the songs, usually with some personal anecdote to go with it all. He leaves us with what he calls "the single greatest 45rpm record of all time...the rock and roll record to end all records". And that would be:

Ubu's debut. Agree? Disagree? Go to the 'Twang and discuss. He has mp3's right there for you and plenty of other posts that will not be going away. Give him a few weeks and then beg for a return, you'll want to after checking it out.


Columbus' Pat Leonard has been doing great, understated podcasts from his headquarters for a couple of years now, calling it Pat Radio. Pat stays pretty true to his focus on independent Columbus artists - a subject definitely deserving of regular podcasts - but every once in a while he'll stray away from the topic a bit. A few weeks back he broadcasted my favorite show of his thus far: #128, the Offense Fanzine. For this program Pat brought in Tim Anstaett, the original Columbus music journalist, a man whose Tet Offense and Offense Newsletter zines from the 80's documented Columbus music, British post-punk and everything in-between. Tim, or "TK" to some, was considered by some to be the State's most vocal propenent of the 4AD label and in particular bands like the Birthday Party and Cocteau Twins. Tim's zines featured content from local legends like Mike Rep and Jim Shepard to L.A. scenesters like Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters. The letters section of Tim's zines became a favorite place for many to voice their opinions (a prelude to internet message boards, for sure) and was famously the topic of Great Plains' most well-known song, "Letter to a Fanzine".

Pat's podcast features songs related to the Offense era, many of the tracks culled from live sets recorded in Columbus throughout the 80's. Tim put on many of the better shows that happened around then at places like Staches and Mr. Brown's. Another interesting piece trudged from the archives, surely dubbed from the television by Tim with glee, is a clip from a Columbus newscast featuring "punks" who are pumped about the Cocteau Twins show, one of only five U.S. dates the band played at that point in their career. Even if you're not a fan of the CT's this clip is worth watching, as is perfectly encapsulates a time in the Midwest when there was still a definitive Us vs. Them divide between the punks and normals. At least that's what I took from this clip:




Oh, and last but most certainly not least in any way imaginable is mention of the very first Columbus Discount Singles Club, which went up for sale a few weeks back and should be close to selling out soon. If you read this here blog you know you want it. Shit, you've probably already ordered it. For the money it's about the best deal I can possibly think of, not just in record-land. I mean, I just spent $120 on student loans and look where that got me. $120 could snag you a year's subscription, a Tommy Jay record, the new Mike Rep 12", the new Electric Bunnies and Unholy 2 and Necropolis singles and you'd still have enough to get loaded at Bourbon St. Gotta love the Discount mentality.

Of all the great singles they have lined-up for the club, I must say the ones I'm most excited about are the singles from Sandwitch and The Harrisburg Players. Sandwitch will be the first Ron House songs laid to vinyl since Bait and Switch (wow, really?!) and the Harrisburg Players single should be an excellent companion to the Tommy Jay release from earlier this year, which is, like, the greatest thing ever made. I'm pretty damned excited about everything CDR has sketched out for next year, obviously. Itching for it all. Guinea Worms Double LP? El Jesus full-length? Necropolis full-length? AND the singles club? 2009 will be so fucking epic, Columbus just may explode. Go and pre-order now so BJ can buy bus fare.

Ebay Watch: Stone Harbour original

Stock has risen for Stone Harbour in recent years, as the right tastemakers have name-checked it enough to push it from total obscurity to lost classic. Emerges is the sole record by these two acid casualties from NE Ohio, a spaced mix of pastoral electric folk jams and swirling guitar/keyboard passages all held together by the duo's vocal harmonies. It's fried enough for even the most out-there heads, light enough to pull in folk fans and for it's time - 1974 - was so out of fashion that only now has it found a legion of fans.

Bootlegs have been available since the 90's (FYI I'm still in the market if you have an extra) and the "original" bootleg fetched around $50 a few months ago, if I recall. This auction claims to be offering an original, of which there are only 500 in existence. There's a copy on Gemm for a fairly reasonable price but my guess is this will go for more. It'll interesting to see just how in-demand this LP has become. If you've never heard Emerges I suggest you track it down. If you're cool with CD's, copies are still in print.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

14 Inches of Love

Greetings fine readers. It's been a busy month. I just completed a move to Brooklyn and have been in a constant state disrepair, unable to find the proper tools to tune up the brain. But after almost a week in the new space I can finally feel a little breathing room and maybe even heard the juices flowing somewhere up there.

I know that I have neglected this place to the point where just about nobody checks regularly, and that has got to change. Hopefully I will get some posts up in the next week or so (not including the re-posts (of sorts) that I just included below, pulled from my Agitreader content), but seeing as I haven't purchased or received a new release in almost a month, it may take a bit longer.

So, my end of the internet has been sort of lacking, but I'd like to direct you to an excellent new "punk blog" about pizza called Pizza Slayer. These dudes (Hinze and Sugarbear) from Newark, OH, and their gang of unusual suspects (Seanzilla, Turco, Cowman, The Ice-Pic, Nut Juggler, etc.) have taken the call to review local pie in the central Ohio area. It needed to happen, and they eat enough pizza per week to qualify as experts in the field. We waited, for years it seemed, for Fern to start this very blog, and all we got was talk. I guess he'll just have to start his own shop to make up for it.

Pizza Slayer rules and their opinion is gold in my book. Mr. Hinze and I have nearly identical palettes when it comes to pie, so I trust his word more than any man on earth. Check it out, make comments and give them recommendations of where to slay next (Ledo's on Kenny Rd, guys).

Check back soon.


Pink Reason's Winona and Borrowed Time

The Pink Reason singles that have surfaced in the earlier days of summer provide two completely different windows into the bedroom angst of Kevin DeBroux and company. First up is Winona, a 33 rpm 7-inch on Woodsist that collects the very first recordings under the Pink Reason moniker. Here DeBroux, collaborating with Shaun Failure, concocts a sound as far away from the fast, short and skuzzy bands he'd become accustomed to in Wisconsin over the years, taking cues from acid rock and folk bands instead of crusty punk.

The title track is a long, acoustic ballad about a trip to Winona, Minnesota that found them camping in the middle of the Mississippi River. If it weren't so damn stark—and DeBroux's voice so baritone—it could be confused as an outtake from Neil's Harvest record. It is exactly the type of song that Kevin later perfected on tracks like "Goodbye" from last year's Cleaning the Mirror, but "Winona" is worthy of repeated listens beyond its historical perspective. "Give Yourself Away" is a little more interesting, a gnarly take on the early Stooges sound, complete with a fried guitar lead and one-note piano ala "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Keeping with the theme of jittery isolation, DeBroux caps off the EP with "Letting Go," where he sings, "It's all over now. Why is it so hard to sleep?" A fitting end to the very beginning.

Seeing as DeBroux has always been in control of his own career arc, it is no mistake that Winona (length: 6:48) coincides with the Borrowed Time single, his briefest and most hardcore-sounding song to date. You could call the A-side, clocking in at just over a minute, a waste of precious vinyl space, but I think it works at isolating the song's message. This blistering, trebly anthem may not be the prototypical Pink Reason song, but the theme could be Kevin condensed into a minute of your time: waking up on floors, empty pockets, (failed) attempts at joining society while it flies right by you, realizing that "society" is shit. If only Danzig was this concise.

On the flip is "Scared Shitless," a cut reminiscent of late-period V-3, back when paranoia was Jim Shepard's only friend. You get the feeling Shep and DeBroux would've gotten along just fine. Musically it also reminds one of Pink Reason's early live sound, back when it was Kevin, Shaun and a computer playing a sort of strobe-shocked My Bloody Valentine, feedback piercing eardrums and colliding with the double guitar attack. Two more fine singles to continue a perfect streak. Go to Fashionable Idiots to beg for a Borrowed Time repress. Fuck it Tapes should have Winona in stock.

June '08 Singles

Here's a batch of solid singles I wrote about back in early July but didn't get around to posting up here until now. Seems like it has slowed a bit on the singles front, so I'll catch up with the late-Summer releases in a few weeks.

I begin with two new singles from the die Stasi label, currently presiding in—of all places—Findlay, Ohio. This is the label that unleashed TV Ghost onto the unsuspecting world, and they do the same with Madison, Wisconsin's Zola Jesus. A one-girl juggernaut, and card carrier in the newly-christened Crimson Wave movement consisting of Midwestern, female-dominated bands of "difficulty," Zola Jesus showcases her strong pipes, albeit with heavy effects, atop clanging piano lines and chunky beats. I thought about writing this off as "trying too hard," but these songs are beginning to stick, especially the dramatic "Dog" and its tape-loop backing. The other die Stasi, "Coma" by Portland's Leper Print, is an instant hit. I've regrettably missed the boat on all previous Leper material and now must scramble for it all, as this is furiously minimal, lo-fi bedroom punk of the highest order. "Dead Flowers" isn't a Urinals cover, but it might as well be, as it shares that band's punctual primitiveness to a tee. There's plenty of Dave E. worship as well. Urinals and Electric Eels as prime influences? I think I'm in love. Both singles come in nice, hand-screened sleeves and are on quality wax.

It is always exciting to check and see whom Skulltones pick for their next release, as they always come up with winners, and Naked on the Vague are no exception. NOTV borrow from any number of great first-wave British post-punk moments, but not always the most obvious ones. "Poltergeist Palm" digs a grave directly next to Flowers of Romance-era PiL, while "Empty Tongues" mellows Throbbing Gristle's noise into a palpable lullaby. An odd single, but an excellent one, and another example of how great the Australian underground is today.

I've yet to be totally blown away by the Little Claw train, that is until I played this new one, the Why/Why Not EP (Physical Sewer). "World of Tired" is one of the best songs of the year; a sub-primal bass leads as guitars screech across the chalkboard and singer Kilynn sings about the world ending. She has a voice all her own and is finally finding the proper songs to display it. "Look Down the Drain" is as spaced as anything this decade, Heath's Kilynn's guitar scratching out Carl Sagan's eyes in the process. I am floored. Maybe it is time to revisit the LPs.

Cleveland's Homostupids always seem to lasso in just the right amount of energy, feedback and weirdness, enough so to be my favorite band from Northeast Ohio in a while. They never try and hit you over the head with anything (at least not while you're looking), put on a stellar live show and have now made five great records. "Cat Music" (Fashionable Idiots) begins with a feral cat's meow segueing into a bizarre mid-tempo jam about a trip to the circus. Then there's a song where they go apeshit. The flip isn't as apeshit, more of a Big Black rant but only two lines long. It ends with some horns from a Batman cartoon. Great single.

Last but not least are the much-hyped Vivian Girls and their second single in as many months. I loved "Wild Eyes" and absolutely adore their eponymous LP, but was a little bummed when I learned there would be some overlap in songs with the "Tell the World" single on Woodsist. Alas, what you get here are three demo versions of songs from the long-player, and these stripped-down takes warrant repeated listens. With the wall-of-sound removed from the VG's oeuvre you get more of a focus on the trio's unique vocal harmonies (think Shangri-Las meet c86) and, most-importantly, the quality of writing. These girls write some mean ones, and if you're a fan of this group you'll want every version you can get.