A new batch of reviews I’ve written for Doug Mosurock’s Still Single column have been added to the tumblr site. Apparently they just missed the cut for the latest Dusted column, presumably that means they’ll be present in the next one. Anyway, without further ado, check ’em out here:
It is almost completely impossible for me to articulate to the uninitiated my love the Shadow Ring, why they were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and why they were so crucial to the dialogue of music in the ‘90s. Frankly, if I play Put the Music In Its Coffin or City Lights for anyone who hasn’t heard them before, and doesn’t know what they’re about, I’m usually challenged with the canard that what we’re listening to is “retarded.” Offensive language by philistines aside, the relative musical ineptitude with which the Shadow Ring confronted its listeners was kind of the point: decades past punk’s exhortation to do it yourself, the Shadow Ring were able to take absolutely stark musical elements (monotone vocals, poorly tuned guitar, abrasive percussion, absurd tape manipulations) and meld them into an expressive whole, far greater than the sum of its parts. Thankfully, many years past their demise as a group, Siltbreeze has released this single of early recordings by Shadow Ring founders Graham Lambkin and Darren Harris, under the name the C&B (short for the Cat & Bells Club). Stylistically, these recordings are just a small step removed from what would become the Shadow Ring’s sound, and indeed, I suspect the riff from “Kent Cluster” was recycled more than once afterwards, but for a fan that only adds to its charm. Edition of 300. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
Hot on the heels of the super-limited Butte County Free Music Society Induced Musical Spasticity 4xLP box set comes this related platter on Siltbreeze. Because of the notable guitar droning and occasional industrial noise present, fans of the ‘Breeze may liken some moments on Three Christs of Ypsilanti to Harsh 70s Reality in spots, though there’s hardly anything on it that approaches the Dead C.’s more rock moments, which isn’t a bad thing, of course. What’s even more notable about this Bren’t Lewiis Ensemble recording – aside from its decidedly rural origins in Chico, California – is its completely cut-up methodology, which places Three Christs alongside such almost-contemporaries as Throbbing Gristle, Smegma, or Nurse With Wound, yet without the name-brand cachet. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
Despite the horribly prescient title, as Music City USA recovers from terrible flooding this past May, this “25th anniversary reissue” of solo recordings by V-3/Mike Rep and the Quotas member Nudge Squidfish is oddly satisfying, and a good companion piece to the two mysterious, recent appearances on LP of Vertical Slit’s Slit and Pre-Slit and that V-3 bootleg. Of course, there are plenty of stylistic differences between this release and those of Shepard’s. For instance, “Drinking for Christmas” could surprisingly fit in with C86 bands of the same period, while songs such as “Goodbye Princess” recall Big Star if Chris Bell was high on Whip-Its. “The Stranger” and “Backlot of Gilligan’s Isle” anticipate The Pod-era Ween (that’s a compliment). Elsewhere there’s tearjerkers like “City of Sorrow” and “Wonder Where You Been,” tributes to fellow Ohioans such as “They Call Me Mike Rep,” two otherwise-unrecognizable Shepard covers (“Metal or Meat?” and “Signals & Warnings”), some spoken-word nonsense, and an overall vibe of loner weirdness that probably couldn’t be replicated in any convincing way today, even if anyone had the balls to try. (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
These days, it’s very rare for compilations to hold my attention, unless they’re filled with sidelong Afrobeat jams. Knowing absolutely nothing about Æsjo, or the Escho label that released it, my apprehension towards reviewing it was high, until I actually gave it a spin, and my apprehension turned to dread. Presumably filled with Danish artists, the record begins with songs that reside somewhere between lush pastoralism akin to Morr Music releases from a decade ago, and fart noise wackiness a la DAT Politics. Then, abruptly, a fiercely lame rock song (“Kimberly Shyboy” by KloAK – yes the mis-capitalizations are intentional) that sounds like a throwback to the great major label grunge signing sweepstakes of the early 1990s, makes an appearance, and the mood changes from “whimsical but tolerable” to “just plain bad.” A Six Organs of Admittance rip-off and some other jointless messes finish off side A, and the flip doesn’t redeem the session, as the wackiness continues with some sub-Gang Gang Dance nonsense and gets worse from there. Still, the packaging is fairly nice, as it comes with 32-piece “memory game,” ironic in that the comp is not that memorable. (http://www.escho.net)
As always, you should check Still Single for the latest reviews of all sorts of interesting vinyl, written by all sorts of interesting characters.