Comedy Minus One Records
Review by Kent Manthie
What can I say? These guys ROCK. Bottomless Pit’s latest work is being released on vinyl, but with a CD version for you people who, in a twist – 30 years ago most people still had turntables and CD players were less ubiquitous – actually, they’re actually sort of obsolete nowadays again, what with MP3 players and such, but you know what I mean.
Shade Perennial is the title of this LP. It’s a stripped down, no frills rock and roll animal jam that cuts like a razor. They do their best on the opening track, “Fleece”, to set the stage for what’s to come after. It’s got some carefully constructed chords and riffs that grab you by the lapels and scream into your face: “I WILL NOT BE IGNORED, DAMMIT!” Well, no, that, actually sounds too “metal”. Maybe the better metaphor would be to say that it’s a smack across the top of the head to get your attention. It really doesn’t even take that much if you’re listening to it for the sake of listening to it.
What gets me is the gritty and Neil Young/Crazy Horse-era distorted virtuosity that just doesn’t let up.
In case you’re not familiar with Bottomless Pit, a quick history lesson: Singer Tim Midyett and guitarist Andy Cohen were once members of Silkworm, another indie band who put out nine albums between 1987 and 2005. Drummer Chris Manfrim used to bang the skins for Seam and bassist Brian Orchard also plays with the band, 22.
There are so many songs I can pick from to point out highlights of Shade Perennial, but I have to mention “Null Set”, a tune on which the guitars get the spotlight, a big part of their sound. It’s not just blah-blah, sing-song guitaring but blistering, roaring and raw guitars that try to strangulate you, in a mental sort of way. “Full of Life” is a lyrically great tune, built on the lyrical emotings of Tim Midyett and, saving the best for last – which is apt, since it’s the last tune on the album, “Felt a Little Left” is an awesome, killer distorted, acetylene-hot jam that just whips one into a frenzy, hearing just how great it is. I can’t think of much more than the feedback/distortion/attitude, etc of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse period to compare it to. Maybe a tiny bit of Monster Magnet at their best or Dinosaur Jr.’s first three albums, after which they went way downhill (And, coincidentally, or not, Sebadoh burst forth as the epitome of “Lo-Fi” masterwork).
Since I’ve heard, over the years and I’m inclined to agree, that the whole vinyl vs. digital thing where vinyl wins is because with a mint condition vinyl record, played on a good turntable, you can hear, if you turn your stereo up really loud, a more concrete locomotion that is a little absent on the digital media. While a CD can give you certain extra volume (volume in this term, referring to weight, not the sound),etc., that is usually when an album is made to be a CD, rather than older stuff that was originally on vinyl and has been digitized for CDs, all the work that went into some of the more fantastic that came out in the late 60s and in the 70s (yes – there were a lot of really great stuff to come out in the 1970s-it wasn’t all Bee Gees, Disco and bland AOR crap). Get this album-either format!-KM