Archive for August, 2012

The Finer Points of Sadism

Full of Hooks

Review by Kent Manthie

 

The Finer Points of Sadism is a duo consisting of husband/wife Jacob & Ashley Sackett, hailing from Boise, ID.  They’ve been making music for about a decade now – going back to their mid-teens as they’re now in their mid-20s.

Their new release, Full of Hooks is another in a long line of interesting mish-mash of wicked metallic noise/voice samplings, guitars being used in a variety of ways.

The opening cut, “Sea Quarters” reminds me of Sonic Youth – even the voice sounds a little like Lee Ranaldo, but not only that – the crushing, sonic screaming of the guitar, and the atmospherics are a reminder of some of SY’s more interesting moments.

It’s interesting to see the list of influences they have on their bio page on Facebook – it’s an eclectic mix of styles:  Throbbing Gristle, Wall of Voodoo, Psychic TV, Swans, Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cramps, Devo and more.  I know I can definitely hear where their love of Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV comes in.

On track #4, “Rogue Month”, the influence of Joy Division really comes out, most especially with the bass and the deep, dark vocal.

Their instrumentation is a bit unique, in that they try to focus on using more analog equipment – obviously you have guitar, bass and vocal; but there’s also a mélange of “vintage” synthesizers, circuit bent electronics, Ace & Univox drum machines and a variety of experimental stuff, like “field recordings”, aka “found sounds”, cassette “experimentation”, altered guitars and guitar effects as well as even an altered Atari 2600(!) (Remember those old things?) that they mine for unique beats, synth sequences as well as other singularities.

This album differs a bit from another one that I reviewed by them, A Deeper Appreciation for Hatred, which has more of a noisy-drone-experimental bent to it.  Full of Hooks, by comparison, seems more “accessible” in terms of rock music in general.  I’d say that Full of Hooks is much more on the level of Joy Division, Bauhaus and Swans, whereas A Deeper Appreciation of Hatred is more in the area of Throbbing Gristle, Whitehouse and a lot of the circuit-bent, experimental, noise-drone bands coming out today.

Whichever of the type of styles you dig, there’s bound to be something there for the fan of experimental, dark, neo-goth, etc. on here.   To get more information on these guys, check ‘em out at Facebook – just put in their name in the search box and you’ll be directed to their home page with a bio as well as samples of their music and free, downloadable songs.  You can also download the full albums as well, just go to my page, for one, “HIPSTER PALACE #3” (Kent Manthie) and you’ll be able to get it from there.  If you aren’t able to get into it for some reason (it’s supposed to be an open group, but you still might need to get access to the group – I didn’t have any control in that – I tried to open it up, but people still need to be “put” into it – so, if you want, just click on that you want to be included in it and I will put you in ASAP.

Anyway, however you manage to get your hands on a copy – ENJOY!!  -KM

Advertisements

The Finer Points of Sadism

A Deeper Appreciation for Hatred

DIY/Netlabel

Review by Kent Manthie

Lately I’ve been getting lots of albums by various netlabels featuring all sorts of interesting bands/artists who’ve put together albums’ worth of material for download.  Well, I’ve been doing a lot of downloading of music lately and one of the newer bands I’ve come across is The Finer Points of Sadism.  They are an avant-garde/experimental/noise band that uses cut-ups, found-sounds, discordant metallic sounds, and industrial-grade machine noise that is really edgy but that also has something catchy about it at the same time.

The Finer Points of Sadism is a “Netlabel” band that consists of Jacob Sackett and Ashley Sackett (Mrs. Sackett or Ms. Sackett?-wife or sister?)  Jacob handles the guitars, percussion, synths, rhythm beats and other “FX”, while Ashley does duties on the bass, synths, steel guitar as well as more “FX”.

A Deeper Appreciation for Hatred is just one of about two or three of these guys’ albums I’ve received.   This one is full of rambling, instrumental psycho-metal-machine stuff:  synths, distortion guitar effects, drum machine, etc.  Each song has a life of its own and they’re differentiated by the, believe it or not, catchiness of the deeply embedded hooks on them.  For instance, the first cut, the title track, is a 5-minute odyssey that pulses and throbs with noisy guitar chunks and a low-note playing guitar that sort of warbles underneath and still, yet, a third guitar chimes in with high-pitched screams and whistles.  It has a sort of cinematic feel to it – like it could be the incidental music for some dark, dreary horror flick or psychodrama.  About halfway into it a drum machine kicks in and starts off with a steady beat that quickly takes up speed and, with it, quickens the pace of the whole thing.

“Hammershteen”, the next tune, has a race car sound to it, via a guitar and with it a bunch of other noise-making guitars and a steady beat from a drum machine.

But soon the album just takes on a life of its own, turning into a hodgepodge of more noise-rock, drone and sampled voices that pop-up here and there.  It’s not at all grating and is actually a nice thing to have on in the background while you’re typing or doing work or whatnot.

One very interesting cut is “DMT – What Can You Show Me?” – a harking back to that old 1960s-era designer drug  (DMT) that was a real smash – somewhere in between LSD-MDMA-GHB and speed.  I’m glad I’m not the only one of this generation who knows what DMT was (is?  Do they still make that shit?)

But, it’s hard to pick out one song out of the 10 on here to say “this is my favorite” – but, then again, the aforementioned “DMT…” comes close, but so does track 7, the 8 minute long “Why Not Die –Around Me…” – a long, weirded out concoction of noise-drone-metal machine music that really enervates one.

All in all, I’d have to say that The Finer Points of Sadism is quite a good combo and has some very cool stuff to put out in the coming future.  They are also the essence of “independent” – not being associated with ANY label – just an internet phenomenon that is available online through sites like Facebook.

Check them out on Facebook by searching for “Finer Points of Sadism” – and you’ll be directed to one or more pages that feature some of their latest work and bios about the duo and also what they “used” on the particular album and/or what inspired it.

Look for more upcoming reviews on some of their other releases to come soon.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in industrial/noise/drone/ambient music, you will definitely be putting TFPS on the top of your list of new things to check out/listen to.

Also – if you’d like a copy of A Deeper Appreciation of Hatred, go to Facebook and type that name in the search box and the below picture/album cover should appear and from there you just click “download”…ENJOY!!!  – KM

Image

El Pathos
Hate & Love
Saustex Media, 2012
Review by Kent Manthie
Austin, Texas’s El Pathos have broken through in 2012 to rave reviews and platitudes for their latest CD, Hate & Love.  Reviews that run the gamut from the subtle to the sublime.  One blurb that caught my attention was one from Rank & Review, which gushed that El Pathos “…May have nailed their very own Exile on Main Street on the first try…” Their very own Exile on Main Street “on their first try”? Well, I must say that is certainly a heap of praise but I’d also say that the reviewer who wrote that may have been a little overawed by Hate & Love, El Pathos’s “first try”. Not to take away anything from El Pathos, but, I mean, c’mon, let’s get real here. No debut can be honestly compared to a seminal album that has been used as a yardstick of sorts in measuring how great a certain rock ‘n’ roll album is. In fact, using Exile… as a standard, especially 40 years after its release has become somewhat of a cliché.
While El Pathos is comprised of musicians who are in no way neophytes – their line-up consists of ex-members of such indie powerhouses as The Dicks, Catbutt, Offenders and a few others – Hate & Love marks their first release as a unit. They are on one of Austin’s premier indie labels: Saustex Media, run by the hip Jeff Saustex who himself is no failed or wannabe musician – Mr. Saustex is in his own band – The Hickoids, who, of course, are on his label (see my reviews of the first couple Hickoids CDs for a rundown of them). So, there’s a local connection here, which is Austin, TX – a very hip part of Texas. In fact, y’all can keep Dallas and Houston, etc, but give me Austin. But then what do I know about Texas? I’ve never been to the state. I’ve been all over the Southwest and the West, but never been to the South or the Pacific Northwest (i.e., OR, WA-but believe me, I have no desire to go to Idaho- I have been through Montana, though, once and I thought it was beautiful.
Songs: “Eyes” is a slow-burn; a really kickass gem – it starts out like a kindling fire and builds up to a whirling flame of a wicked guitar solo , courtesy of guitarist Rob Buford. The next song in line is “Ghost”, which also has some balls-to-the-wall guitar wailing. “Ghost” starts off sounding a little like Social Distortion; that same kind of fire engine intensity; it has a fast candle-burning quality to it, the crux of it being an outsider’s view of the dead-end, nighttime happenings in town, but with a fist-in-the-air aura to it which shows a sense of pride in being that “outsider” – “I walk those dead end streets of the town/like some inhuman ghost…” and “Talk about the darkest place/You’re the darkest place in the world/Somewhere on the other side of midnight/Somewhere on the other side…” From beginning to end, there is nonstop energy just bursting at the seams. Next, things slow down a notch with the bluesy but introspective/personal song, “No Blood of Mine” – “Well there’s a man that I-I once knew/I even called him “father” too/He told me that he’d love me blind/But he ain’t no blood of mine…” Obviously a song about a father that did him (the songwriter) wrong – another poignant lyric: “I swear I could kill that man/And you know someday I just might”. This is certainly no paean to one’s nice daddy, but an angry polemic that, in no uncertain terms, screams “J’accuse” – in other words, that guy my mama married was a bastard! I can’t lie – not every cut is as good as “Eyes”, but the next one that pricked up my ears was “Sundown” a guitar-cum-chainsaw screw-in-the-head. Then, probably my favorite cut on Hate & Love: “Little Black Drops”. It was kind of hard, to tell the truth, to understand what they were exactly singing. But I must say I was blown away by the “wah-wah” infected guitar solo, which more than that, just really screamed like a banshee, pushing its heavy dose straight into your arms. Yeah, that’s what I figured it was about too – dope. What else could those “Little Black Drops” be referring to? Besides, one line I did understand was something akin to “That little sliver ain’t gonna hold me” and “I got lots of drugs!” Ironically, “Suffering Kind” sounds a little like the other side of the hell-bent for kicks mayhem of “Little Black Drops” – a song that seems to be reflecting on the not-so-great parts of addiction, i.e., getting dope sick, needing that fix to be well and feeling like punching you in the face as soon as talk to you (unless you’re the man). Of course, that’s just one interpretation of a couple songs; there wasn’t all that much flat-out un-metaphorical lyrical confession to figure it out. “Rockets Red Glare”, I found out, is actually not about the late, great and overweight character actor who played as many diverse characters in about 1000 small roles in many indie cult-status films, for instance, he pops in at the end of Talk Radio as the guy who kills actor Eric Bogosian’s “shock jock” radio host character. He’s been in just about every Jim Jarmusch film in some small part, had a little scene in David Lynch’s Fire Walk With Me – the film version of his Twin Peaks TV show (Whoa –now THERE is a story I could do a whole book about – Redglare’s real name was Michael Morra and one of the more notorious parts of his life is the fact that he, being a huge dope fiend and heavy drinker, supplied Sid Vicious with a stockpile of Dilaudid that Sid used to overdose on after killing girlfriend, Nancy Spungen in the notorious Chelsea Hotel in NYC. In a book, author Phil Strongman implies that he thinks it was Redglare (Morra) who actually murdered Nancy. But that’s way beyond speculation.
But I digress. Anyway, this is a great album. Indeed it is one of the better debuts of a band – especially a debut that wasn’t an “arranged debut” – from a band that had been working for a while and suddenly gets found by some slick pimp from a major label and gets signed to a Time Warner-owned label, etc (e.g, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, etc). No, these guys, while they do have history in other bands so they’ve “been around”, got together not too long ago and decided “what the hell” and wrote up a bunch of songs, recorded them and got Jeff to put the output of their creativity – Hate & Love on his Saustex label. Now, I still can’t say this is like making a debut as influential and with the classicity of Exile on Main Street, El Pathos, who have been compared to quite a different crowd of people – and an eclectic list at that: everyone from The Zombies (?) (I think not!), Nick Cave (yes, his spirit is felt in there somewhere), The Stooges, 13th Floor Elevators, AC/DC (maybe, when they still had Bon Scott and weren’t a bad joke) as well as Townes van Zandt. As I mentioned earlier, there is one other comparison that just can’t be overlooked and that is Social Distortion. The fiery jamming and no-holds-barred, beer-soaked riffs show that quite well. Check this one out! You may not find it at your local rip-off chain store (like Virgin Megastore, which is the most overpriced, crappiest place on earth to buy music or books). But Amazon has it and, of course, you can go to the source – saustexmedia.com to buy it straight from Jeff. I just hope that El Pathos stay true to this verve and keep the beers comin’. Cheers! –KM
Chief Fuzzer
Transcendental Road Blues
Saustex Media, 2012
Review by Kent Manthie
Besides my receiving a rarity – an EP of sorts on good old fashioned vinyl – from Austin, TX-based Churchwood I received at the same time, another 7-inch vinyl EP (four songs) from another Texas band, Chief Fuzzer. This one is entitled Transcendental Road Blues. It’s also being released from Austin’s great indie label: Saustex Media. Just as with the Churchwood 7-incher – Just the Two of Us – Chief Fuzzer’s 7-inch EP contains a card inside the package with the URL to go to and a code one puts in that allows one to download the entire 5-song EP onto one’s PC.
This one’s got more of a rock spine to it, as opposed to the bluesy, psychobilly, raw steely emotion. The first two tracks are the main ones that are listed on the back of the vinyl EP: “500 Lb. Badass” and “Bad She Gone Voodoo”. But there are also three other great tracks on here: “Fuzzer Theme”, the title track (“Transcendental Road Blues”) and one called “Whight”. After giving it a couple listens, I’d have to say that the title track is the most rockin’ track. It’s got a somewhat slowed-down tempo, but still a grinding, psychedelic-tinged edge to it. The guitars both chug-chug-chug along as well as, in certain points, climb to higher degrees of altitude, soaring, swinging and then veering off and changing course, finally coming back to its rhythmic duties. At 5:10, it’s the longest cut on the album, but, being so great a song, the time doesn’t really matter, as it just flies by and leaves the listener wanting more, more, MORE! The final cut, “Whight” is a good place to end on as well as the perfect follow-up for the just mentioned title track. It has a little bit of a Black Sabbath vibe to it – a slowed, heavy metal dirge. But they stay consistent throughout and don’t get caught up in a fever pitch, so don’t take the “heavy metal” thing too literally.
Cody Richardson, who both sings and plays guitar, does an excellent job on the axe. He may not have the most operatic voice in the world – but hey, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right? He really shines, though, on the guitar and the undertones he lays down as well as the solo piercings and crying sure do shine. Being a trio, Chief Fuzzer rely on just Cody to get the job done on guitar and he comes through with flying colors. But as far as the other two – the rhythm section, you certainly can’t complain – drummer Paul Adams plays a mean set of skins, keeping time with a bombastic, rock-oriented (as opposed to the all-over-the-place jazz styles), seemingly simple fashion but when you see that he’s got to be the anchor then you appreciate his edgy, not flashy way of keeping things glued together. Bassist Shane Herring is also a great leg of this three-legged stool – he complements Cody’s more simmering, hot & spicy solos, by keeping things grounded and when Cody’s just trying to keep a riff flowing, when he’s singing, for example, then Shane is there as a double-threat, a deeper, thundering bass to accompany the taxiing guitar.
You’re going to really want to check this out – whether or not you’re a fan of Texas-style “psychobilly”, psychedelic-tinged rockabilly, or fire & brimstone, liquor-fueled rants that can seem over the top, but have a hell of a fun time doing it, you’ll see that Chief Fuzzer transcends (no pun intended) all those stereotypes, while still managing to stay in the same realm somehow. Listening to Transcendental Road Blues, it’s easy to hear how these guys would be welcomed wherever a crowd that wants to rock is – whether it’s at the Continental Club in Austin, First Avenue in Minneapolis, Café Metro in Chicago or CBGB/OMFUG in NYC, Chief Fuzzer will fit in anywhere. –KM
Churchwood<br /><br /><br />
Just the Two of Us<br /><br /><br />
Saustex Media, 2012<br /><br /><br />
Reviewed by Kent Manthie<br /><br /><br />
    Churchwood are back.  After a much-heralded self-titled debut CD, they’re back with this special edition 7 inch vinyl record.  But, don’t worry if you don’t have a turntable:  when you buy the 7 inch, it comes with a card that you can use to download all four cuts on the vinyl edition to your PC, thereby making it accessible to those who lack a turntable (funny how 30-40 years ago things would be the other way around – everyone would have a turntable and the bonus downloadings would’ve been seen as a real novelty.<br /><br /><br />
    On this release, entitled Just the Two of Us, Churchwood comes at you with their brand of full-tilt punk-rock/psychobilly.  If you want a comparison, well, think of a cross between The Cramps and The Blasters.<br /><br /><br />
    Lone Star Music calls Just the Two of Us “Dangerous, foreboding, in-your-face…” and this Austin, TX-based band is expanding its reach, slowly but surely.  The tracks on this EP are infectious, mutations of Southern white-boy blues; in fact, I’d say that it is even rawer and more savage than their eponymous, full-length debut CD, in that vein, another blurb is worth mentioning:  the Santa Fe, New Mexican writes, in regard to this EP that “[Churchwood] take the essence of primitive blues and mutate[s] it into something new…” and also, Punk Globe calls Churchwood the “Crazy, thinking man’s blues band”.<br /><br /><br />
    Churchwood’s music is an olio of sounds, rich in influences and traits.  You can hear some of their crawling out of the Mississippi Delta blues sounds and infusing it with psychobilly, sludgy rock ‘n’ roll (Melvins, Mudhoney, etc), even Captain Beefheart seems to be an influence as well.<br /><br /><br />
    Lead singer Joe Doerr is not just a crafty songwriter, but is also a published poet!  In Churchwood, Doerr is accompanied by terrific musicians with talent:  the trippy abandon with which twin guitarists Bill Anderson and Billysteve Korpi bend, crunch and make their guitars moan and cry do great justice to the wrought out lyrics of Joe Doerr, swirling around his edgy voice, both paralleling him and complementing his voice.  Of course, Churchwood wouldn’t be Churchwood without the incredible rhythm section:  drummer Julien Peterson and bassist Adam Kahan both lend a booming background that keeps the time alive and also, occasionally riff out on their own.<br /><br /><br />
    20 years ago Bill Anderson and Joe Doerr had played together in a couple legendary Texas bands, Ballad Shambles and Hand of Glory.  So, what’s been going on in between for all these years?  Well, as was mentioned, Doerr got his poetry thing finessed and is now published and takes delight in penning more and more when he can.  As for Bill Anderson, he rambled back and forth, jamming in such diverse-sounding bands as The Horsies, The Meat Purveyors and Cat Scientist.  And – he also sat in on some sessions with the legendary Daniel Johnston.  So, these guys are no youngsters and no Johnny-come-latelies either.<br /><br /><br />
    As for this new EP, it’s got four tracks on it:  four mean, lean raw, bones:  “Message From Firmin Desloge”, “Metanoia”, “Weedeye” and “Rickshaw Rattletrap”.<br /><br /><br />
    From the get-go, Churchwood let loose and play like there’s no tomorrow, with reckless abandon and fueled-up fervor.  But don’t let that belie the fact that these cats are intelligent.  They are not just some dumb hicks from down South, no they’ve got a good handle on the bohemian, hip literary references and the like, e.g., “Rimbaud Didley” and “Ulysses”, both from their debut.  So, let’s hear it for these Austin dudes who not only can bring the house down, but get pleasure from less destructive means as well. –KM</p><br /><br />
<p>Chief Fuzzer<br /><br /><br />
Transcendental Road Blues<br /><br /><br />
Saustex Media, 2012<br /><br /><br />
Review by Kent Manthie<br /><br /><br />
    Besides my receiving a rarity – an EP of sorts on good old fashioned vinyl – from Austin, TX-based Churchwood I received at the same time, another 7-inch vinyl EP (four songs) from another Texas band, Chief Fuzzer.  This one is entitled Transcendental Road Blues. It’s also being released from Austin’s great indie label:  Saustex Media.  Just as with the Churchwood 7-incher – Just the Two of Us – Chief Fuzzer’s 7-inch EP contains a card inside the package with the URL to go to and a code one puts in that allows one to download the entire 5-song EP onto one’s PC.<br /><br /><br />
    This one’s got more of a rock spine to it, as opposed to the bluesy, psychobilly, raw steely emotion.  The first two tracks are the main ones that are listed on the back of the vinyl EP:  “500 Lb. Badass” and “Bad She Gone Voodoo”.  But there are also three other great tracks on here:  “Fuzzer Theme”, the title track (“Transcendental Road Blues”) and one called “Whight”.  After giving it a couple listens, I’d have to say that the title track is the most rockin’ track.  It’s got a somewhat slowed-down tempo, but still a grinding, psychedelic-tinged edge to it.  The guitars both chug-chug-chug along as well as, in certain points, climb to higher degrees of  altitude, soaring, swinging and then veering off and changing course, finally coming back to its rhythmic duties.  At 5:10, it’s the longest cut on the album, but, being so great a song, the time doesn’t really matter, as it just flies by and leaves the listener wanting more, more, MORE!  The final cut, “Whight” is a good place to end on as well as the perfect follow-up for the just mentioned title track.  It has a little bit of a Black Sabbath vibe to it – a slowed, heavy metal dirge.  But they stay consistent throughout and don’t get caught up in a fever pitch, so don’t take the “heavy metal” thing too literally.<br /><br /><br />
    Cody Richardson, who both sings and plays guitar, does an excellent job on the axe. He may not have the most operatic voice in the world – but hey, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, right?  He really shines, though, on the guitar and the undertones he lays down as well as the solo piercings and crying sure do shine.  Being a trio, Chief Fuzzer rely on just Cody to get the job done on guitar and he comes through with flying colors.  But as far as the other two – the rhythm section, you certainly can’t complain – drummer Paul Adams plays a mean set of skins, keeping time with a bombastic, rock-oriented (as opposed to the all-over-the-place jazz styles), seemingly simple fashion but when you see that he’s got to be the anchor then you appreciate his edgy, not flashy way of keeping things glued together.  Bassist Shane Herring is also a great leg of this three-legged stool – he complements Cody’s more simmering, hot & spicy solos, by keeping things grounded and when Cody’s just trying to keep a riff flowing, when he’s singing, for example, then Shane is there as a double-threat, a deeper, thundering bass to accompany the taxiing guitar.<br /><br /><br />
    You’re going to really want to check this out – whether or not you’re a fan of Texas-style “psychobilly”, psychedelic-tinged rockabilly, or fire & brimstone, liquor-fueled rants that can seem over the top, but have a hell of a fun time doing it, you’ll see that Chief Fuzzer transcends (no pun intended) all those stereotypes, while still managing to stay in the same realm somehow. Listening to Transcendental Road Blues, it’s easy to hear how these guys would be welcomed wherever a crowd that wants to rock is – whether it’s at the Continental Club in Austin, First Avenue in Minneapolis, Café Metro in Chicago or CBGB/OMFUG in NYC, Chief Fuzzer will fit in anywhere.  -KM
Churchwood
Just the Two of Us
Saustex Media, 2012
Reviewed by Kent Manthie
Churchwood are back. After a much-heralded self-titled debut CD, they’re back with this special edition 7 inch vinyl record. But, don’t worry if you don’t have a turntable: when you buy the 7 inch, it comes with a card that you can use to download all four cuts on the vinyl edition to your PC, thereby making it accessible to those who lack a turntable (funny how 30-40 years ago things would be the other way around – everyone would have a turntable and the bonus downloadings would’ve been seen as a real novelty.
On this release, entitled Just the Two of Us, Churchwood comes at you with their brand of full-tilt punk-rock/psychobilly. If you want a comparison, well, think of a cross between The Cramps and The Blasters.
Lone Star Music calls Just the Two of Us “Dangerous, foreboding, in-your-face…” and this Austin, TX-based band is expanding its reach, slowly but surely. The tracks on this EP are infectious, mutations of Southern white-boy blues; in fact, I’d say that it is even rawer and more savage than their eponymous, full-length debut CD, in that vein, another blurb is worth mentioning: the Santa Fe, New Mexican writes, in regard to this EP that “[Churchwood] take the essence of primitive blues and mutate[s] it into something new…” and also, Punk Globe calls Churchwood the “Crazy, thinking man’s blues band”.
Churchwood’s music is an olio of sounds, rich in influences and traits. You can hear some of their crawling out of the Mississippi Delta blues sounds and infusing it with psychobilly, sludgy rock ‘n’ roll (Melvins, Mudhoney, etc), even Captain Beefheart seems to be an influence as well.
Lead singer Joe Doerr is not just a crafty songwriter, but is also a published poet! In Churchwood, Doerr is accompanied by terrific musicians with talent: the trippy abandon with which twin guitarists Bill Anderson and Billysteve Korpi bend, crunch and make their guitars moan and cry do great justice to the wrought out lyrics of Joe Doerr, swirling around his edgy voice, both paralleling him and complementing his voice. Of course, Churchwood wouldn’t be Churchwood without the incredible rhythm section: drummer Julien Peterson and bassist Adam Kahan both lend a booming background that keeps the time alive and also, occasionally riff out on their own.
20 years ago Bill Anderson and Joe Doerr had played together in a couple legendary Texas bands, Ballad Shambles and Hand of Glory. So, what’s been going on in between for all these years? Well, as was mentioned, Doerr got his poetry thing finessed and is now published and takes delight in penning more and more when he can. As for Bill Anderson, he rambled back and forth, jamming in such diverse-sounding bands as The Horsies, The Meat Purveyors and Cat Scientist. And – he also sat in on some sessions with the legendary Daniel Johnston. So, these guys are no youngsters and no Johnny-come-latelies either.
As for this new EP, it’s got four tracks on it: four mean, lean raw, bones: “Message From Firmin Desloge”, “Metanoia”, “Weedeye” and “Rickshaw Rattletrap”.
From the get-go, Churchwood let loose and play like there’s no tomorrow, with reckless abandon and fueled-up fervor. But don’t let that belie the fact that these cats are intelligent. They are not just some dumb hicks from down South, no they’ve got a good handle on the bohemian, hip literary references and the like, e.g., “Rimbaud Didley” and “Ulysses”, both from their debut. So, let’s hear it for these Austin dudes who not only can bring the house down, but get pleasure from less destructive means as well. –KM

STRF*KR LATEST:

Posted: August 22, 2012 in New Indie Music
Starfucker
Reptilians
Polyvinyl Records, 2011

www.polyvinylrecords.com
Reviewed by Kent Manthie
Calling all of Montreal fans: if you dig the scene Kevin Barnes is tripping in these days, you will also love Starfucker. Their new CD, Reptilians,is a wicked, outer-space, party-people album that shines from start to finish. The mesmerizing, sex-fueled, dada-style they play is what recalls the best of Of Montreal, the underrated but fabulous iconoclastic lovers of sin.Hailing from Portland, OR, this quartet, made up of Josh Hodges, Ryan Blomstad, Shawn Glassford and Keil Corcoran have been around for around 7 years or so and over the time that they’ve been making music they’ve developed a niche that is part flower-power, part-electro-synth-slickness, yet, even without the added synth-effects, studio polishing, overdubbing, etc, their songs, structured as they are, still stand up well, meaning they could abandon all the toys and just strip it down to the singer, an acoustic guitar, a small drum kit and maybe a piano and it would still be just as riveting and just as catchy.In other words, the bright brilliance of the Starfucker sound is not just ear-candy because of its reliance on myriad effects, which I don’t mean to denigrate; in fact, I say kudos to them for the hard work on the summer-evoking pop spirit embedded in the trippy, light-fused electro-fueled temper. If Starfucker did an Unplugged style performance, where they would’ve been stripped down to acoustic guitars, acoustic bass and maybe a limited drum kit, the songs here would’ve been just as compelling, which shows that it’s not just flashy gimmickry but well-done songwriting at bottom that endures.The ones that are good enough to be stripped down are, in this author’s opinion, are “Born”, “Astoria” and “Death as a Fetish”. The others should probably stay the way they are and were meant to be – with electronics intact and the danceablilty they evoke left standing. But don’t just take my word for it – although take heed indeed – check it out for yourself and feel the waves of sound caress your body – it is a very sensual album
This is a very danceable record that makes one sweat from the gyrations on the danceteria’s dance floor – you may get soaked but the feeling will be a thrilling, exhilarating and sensual rush that will make you grin and grin – and don’t forget those glow sticks!
Any follower of Athens, GA-based of Montreal will appreciate Starfucker, they both fit into the same eclectic, chemical energy, party-people fun time crowd and another thing is that on of Montreal’s 2010 release, False Priest will recognize their name as one of the remixers of the song “Coquet Coquette”. which, besides its original form, shows up at the end of the album in two remixed forms; one is a Yip Deceiver remix and the other is a Starfucker remix.  So, not only do the two bands have a sound in common, they have worked together as well.  Hopefully we’ll see another collaboration in the future.
You may have a hard time locating this in your average chain record store; if you do, go to your neighborhood independent store (from whom you should always buy music anyway) and you might find it there, or else go to Polyvinyl’s website:  http://www.polyvinylrecords.com.  Either way, it’s a freak show of the highest caliber. –KM

Polyvinyl Record Co.

http://www.polyvinylrecords.com

Polyvinyl is an independent record label with a diverse family of bands, including: of Montreal, Deerhoof, Joan of Arc, Owen, Japandroids, Birthmark, American Football and many more.

Here’s a little something that ought to pique your interest.  This was written by Dr. Lawrence Britt.  It is a list that is intended to clue one in to what the author feels are the 14 most obvious points of a fascist state – anyway – here they are.  And – also – I couldn’t help but notice, when I first read them that all 14 of them applied just as much to the US as to any country run by “dictators” or “despots”, etc.  Read on and judge for yourself… and PLEASE – SEND ME SOME FEEDBACK!!!  I’d love to know what your thoughts on the matters are!  So – send me emails at kmanthie@yahoo.com or else just comment at the bottom of this article.   Thanks – KM.

WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES…

Fourteen Defining
Characteristics of Fascism
by Dr. Lawrence Britt

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

 
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. ….

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. ….

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. ….

4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized. ….

5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution. ….

6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common. ….

7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses. ….

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions. ….

9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite. ….

10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed. ….

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked. ….

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forgo civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations. ….

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Sounds a lot like America, circa NOW.  How many of these “points” remind you of life inside Amerika?  The ubiquitous Amerikan flags waving everywhere?  The rampant nationalism (“USA, USA, USA!!!” or “We’re #1. We’re #1” or “Amerika:  love it or leave it” and so on, with the stupid, yet sickly catchy slogans), especially for undereducated masses, victims of a public school system that is not “broken” -according to the government-no, public schools are indoctrinating children exactly the way “they” want – and the high illiteracy and dumbed down electorate?  Think that’s not been purposely set up?)  -KM

The Latest OWEN CD:

Posted: August 19, 2012 in New Indie Music
Owen
Ghost Town
Polyvinyl Records, 2011
www.polyvinylrecords.com
Reviewed by Kent Manthie

The new CD by Chicago’s Owen, Ghost Town will prove to people that Mike Kinsella is a great talent that deserves a bigger audience. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist; an especially gifted guitar player and drummer, witty, satirical and with a great sense of humor. He deserves your attention!But it doesn’t just end there. He’s a busy man; even more so these days as he is a relatively new father.For instance, 2004’s I Do Perceive and its 2006 follow-up, At Home With Owen were unforgettable collections of bliss, especially the former, I Do Perceive, which is still my favorite Owen album. It’s like those two albums were talking to a (fictional) amanuensis, an antagonist to his laconic protagonist. Whereas on his first two CDs (Owen and No Good For No One Now) he seems to be singing about more personal issues, things that weren’t outwardly directed, but more introspective and self-absorbing.

Well, that was 2006, the year that At Home With Owen was released. It turned out that it would be another three years before his next album, New Leaves surfaced. In the meantime Mike kept himself busy, he played on a few songs on his brother’s band’s CDs – Boo! Human and Flowers.

So now it’s November, 2011, Ghost Town has just hit shelves and “cyber-shelves”, to coin an idiom and I must tell you, I have been rejuvenated by its hipness, its sardonic lyrics, the catchy acoustic and electric guitar mix and its all-around laconic wry wit. From the opening cut, “Too Many Moons” to his paean to his new daughter, “O’ Evelyn” to the mesmerizing “I Believe”, “The Armoire” all the way to the closing tune, “Everyone’s Asleep in the House But Me”, it is a real awakening, a refreshing new album and, being a big fan myself, it feels like I have a brand new album that is just for me.

I’d personally recommend No Good for No One Now, I Do Perceive and At Home With Owen as starters for people new to Owen’s music.

Anyway, I hope you will listen and learn and then start inundating Mike Kinsella with love messages – he’s on Facebook and MySpace, so he’ll respond and if we, on the West Coast give him enough love, he may just finally come out here to play some gigs – especially in San Diego and Los Angeles (I’m sure that he’d be loved in San Francisco as well), but since I am stuck in San Diego for now, I really hope he comes out here and plays a gig at one of the several decent clubs, because I will definitely be there, up front, taking pictures and writing about it! -KM

Polyvinyl Record Co.

http://www.polyvinylrecords.com

Victor Villarreal
Invisible Cinema
Joyful Noise Records, 2011
Review by Kent Manthie

This, the new solo CD from Victor Villarreal, guitarist extraordinaire, Invisible Cinema, is a real departure from his appearance on the latest Joan of Arc CD, Life Like, on which he appears as one of the twin lead guitarists (Tim Kinsella also plays guitar). Life Like is a real tour de force for Joan of Arc, one of my favorite JOA CDs. But compared to that CD, Invisible Cinema is a mellower, acoustic-based chill-out CD. Even though he isn’t assailing the electric guitar like on Life Like, which is just a whiplash ride from start to finish, Victor shines on this seven-song solo CD.

The reason I mention his role in the most recent Joan of Arc CD is that, besides having reviewed Life Like when it first came out, I also had the privilege of seeing JOA live, when they came out here to San Diego to play a show at the Casbah, a small-ish club that is a mile or two north of the downtown area. The show was a blisteringly loud and virtuosic set. Besides being a piercingly great guitarist during the show, trading off with front man Tim Kinsella, the drummer, Theo Katsaouris, just beat the hell out of his kit, which really punctuated the songs with an indelible beat that was unforgettable. But it was as a whole that the band shone. What was great was that this Chicago-based band finally made it out here to the West Coast and came to San Diego, where I happen to be stuck at the time. Anyway, I was happy to be able to review both the album and the show, not just because it deserved the publicity and the praise but also because I wanted to get the word out to as many San Diegans as possible, since Reviewer, for which I reviewed them, is a San Diego-based magazine and their corresponding website, www.reviewermag.com is available worldwide on the internet for anyone to check out. The same thing applies to this Victor Villarreal’s new solo album: I want to let everyone I can, in San Diego (as well as everywhere else that this can be accessed) to know how great of an album Invisible Cinema is.

One other small difference is that Invisible Cinema is on Joyful Noise Records, not Polyvinyl Records like JOA’s current label. But that doesn’t change the quality of the music on it. Each of Victor’s songs on the new CD have the feel of nakedness and an introspective touch to them.

The opening track, “Enters”, sounds not unlike a track from an older Joan of Arc album, back from the 1998-99 era. But it is not derivative or anything, it is uniquely Victor Villarreal on here. But one can see how he fits so well with the aforementioned Joan of Arc.

Other examples of greatness on Invisible Cinema include the tracks “Darts in the Dark” and the more upbeat “The Guess” and “Sway” which all show how versatile Villarreal can be. Song number six, “Out of My Hands” is a soft, acoustic tune, but has an eclectic side to it, which really works great and fits in here between the other tracks perfectly. I hate to do it, but sometimes it’s hard not to draw comparisons with Joan of Arc in certain ways and if I must, I would say that “Out of My Hands” reminds me a little of something that could’ve shown up on Joan of Arc’s fabulous album, Live in Chicago: 1999 or The Intelligent Design of Joan of Arc. I say that I don’t want to get into comparing Victor’s solo stuff with Joan of Arc, which, for some reason, seems to be 1) too easy and 2) not very fair, since this is Victor’s own, personal solo album and not a Joan of Arc album. Nonetheless, I just can’t help but notice the similarities in certain spots.

Just like asking a parent which one of his children is his favorite, it’s very difficult to decide what the best tune on this CD is – the whole disc is one great listen. Playing it from beginning to end is the best way to enjoy it, since there is no bad songs on here, nothing that one would want to skip over. So, even though I mentioned those three songs as examples, the CD as a whole is terrific.

One thing about Invisible Cinema is that it’s not a particularly long CD, clocking in at only about a half hour, so I’m not sure whether it’s an EP or a shorter full-length CD. Even though it may not be super long, the seven songs on here do make the album seem complete in its own way, and the continuity is fluid and seamless, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything missing or that there should be more.

The final cut on the CD, “Leaves” is a great closer – an acoustic, instrumental jam that leaves one with a sense of contentment and completion.

The basic idea I want to leave you with is that this is a great album and deserves to be heard by those who are into indie music in general and the whole Joan of Arc/Owen/Cap’n Jazz/Owls, etc axis in particular. Check out Invisible Cinema and you will be pleased with how unique and crystal it is. Check out Victor on Facebook or Joyful Noise’s website, www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com for more information about the artist and the label too.

KM