marble stature The Offense we trust! Rural bullshit from the heart of Fox Point, Providence, RI 02906

Wednesday, September 27, 2006



Ya hear that the great Jay Hinman has called it a day over at Agony Shorthand? Yeah, it kind of took me by surprise as well. Agony Shorthand was one of the best; a great source for digging up great bands and albums from the past and present, and the writing was fantastic. Hinman’s serious devotion to quality writing day after day on Agony Shorthand has pushed blogging to a new level of credibility; leaving traditional music websites crying in the dust. If you were not a reader of the site, please follow the link here and peruse through his archives, you’ll find three and a half years of album and single reviews, fanzine reviews, “overrated” call-outs, interviews and more. I’m just glad that he’s going to keep the site up so that we can all enjoy Agony Shorthand’s great legacy. Ok, on a bit of a brighter note, IT'S MY BIRTHDAY… and it looks like Sub Pop doesn’t suck no more.

Dead Moon Echoes of the Past (Sub Pop, 2006)

I don’t know where this one came from; releasing a two-disc “Best-Of” compilation of the Oregon-based Dead Moon. I was completely in the dark about these guys until a friend from Boston told me about them two years ago. He hadn’t heard them either, but said that he heard they were great, so he wondered if I had any of their shit. I didn’t, and I completely forgot about Dead Moon until I saw Mike Rep and Mac Sutherland from Siltbreeze sporting matching black Dead Moon tees at the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments reunion show in Columbus this past summer. When I saw this compilation hit the shelves this week, I couldn’t hold out any longer. Hey, this thing is great! I went home and did some digging on Dead Moon, and found out that the singer Fred Cole had been in a garage band that had a track on Rhino’s Nuggets (the first one… cheese!). He then formed Dead Moon with his wife Toody, who plays the bass, and Andre Loomis on drums, in the late 1980’s, some twenty years after the Lollipop Shoppe’s “You Must Be a Witch.” It’s an interesting back story, so read up on it over on AllMusic or something, because my time is too valuable to waste on retyping.

Back to the good shit, and there’s plenty of it… Echoes of the Past was compiled by Fred Cole himself, and despite being deficient in the liner notes, they were nice enough to include a discography, ie guidebook for the soon to be obsessive. I count six LP’s and a ton of singles and compilation tracks, almost all from the Dead Moon’s own Tombstone (with the rare exception of a Sub Pop and a SFTRI), but my eyes are what they used to be, so don’t count me on it. I’m going to end up owning all of this shit sooner or later, because this compilation is fantastic; full of rock ‘n roll rituals and pitfalls. You can hear a little MC5 here, a little Love there, and a little Roky, but Dead Moon ain’t imitators. There is something so primal about everything on here despite covering a great span of years (1988-2004), the production, or lack thereof, just hits the nail on the head. Gritty and warm, yet so delicately mixed so that nothing gets lost or shortchanged, and they are such a great rock band that this formula is just as successful on the slower numbers as on the rockers. The thing I like the most about these guys, er… I should say the thing that surprises me the most about these guys are that they are actually quite a versatile band; their material isn’t really based in the Blues, or in Punk, or in Surf, Noise, or Hardcore, they are a band that play songs from the soul, and you can’t ever fake that. It’s completely unmistakable from the start of Echoes of the Past. I really can’t believe that Sub Pop went all-out on this, and even expanded it across two-discs (49 songs!), but I’m really glad that they did because this is sure to turn on a hell of a lot of people to the great Dead Moon, who are somewhat of an untainted, uninhibited living treasure. Oh yeah, and they probably should've called the thing Echoes of the Future.

Friday, September 22, 2006



This week was pretty hectic; hitting the books in the afternoon and working late in the studio, it's been a while since I've felt so industrious.

Amon Düül II Yeti (Revisited, 2006)

It took me a long time to want to hear this because after I bought their first album, Phallus Dei, I wasn't as blown away as I was hoping that I would be. When I saw that Revisited Records out of Germany (who have also released albums from some of the other lesser-known Krauts of the 70's: Kraan, Grobschnitt, Guru Guru, and Klaus Schulze) was going to reissue Yeti this summer I was a bit relieved that I wouldn't have to hunt it down like I did with Phallus Dei (which was also reissued). I finally picked it up today on a whim and it is incredible. Do what you must in order to hear this (if you haven't already). I'm looking forward to going back and giving Phallus Dei anoher chance, as soon as I give this one a rest... I'm guessing that it's gonna be a while.

In conclusion- hey, why doesn't this get mentioned when people talk about the greatest double-albums of all time?

Saturday, September 16, 2006



I started writing a review yesterday for what might be Guided By Voices’ best ten minutes of bar breath, Fast Japanese Spin Cycle, but as I was writing it started raining more and more, and the apartment was getting dark so The Rock*A*Teens seemed like a better choice. Today is a new day; my Buckeyes won (still #1) and it feels great outside, real fall-like. I’m in a good mood and I was glad that I liked this:

Robert Pollard Normal Happiness (Merge, 2006)

I’m not going to lie, I love Guided By Voices. Thankfully my obsession has died down quite a bit over the past couple of years, but I’d be lying if I said that they were not influential in my music taste; they really opened the sonic gate for me and essentially inspired me to seek out great music, so for that I am eternally thankful. I was kind of afraid to hear From a Compound Eye (which was released only seven months ago!), because I thought that it might be more along the lines of a Fading Captain “curiosity” and less along the lines of Not in My Airforce or Waved Out. But I was really surprised and impressed by From a Compound Eye and I think that it was good for Pollard to release it via Merge Records, because it helped in avoiding comparison to his excellent Matador solo albums and established a new era of Pollard’s solo career. Pollard even survived his first solo tour, and left many people thinking that his Ascended Masters might have been the greatest band that has even backed the old sot. I’m sure the wealth of new material probably had a hand in that (I think even the Postal Blowfish seemed to be getting a little tired of hearing the same songs off of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes tour after tour). While From a Compound Eye was a sprawling double-album of metallic shock and majestic sweep, his latest, Normal Happiness, is on the other end of the Wizard’s rainbow; rooted in a quick and quirky structure, this is the album Pollard tried to make with Do the Collapse. There are very few synthesizers and shake-your-head-in-shame prog on this one, showing that either producer/one-man band Todd Tobias has restrained himself in the studio or Pollard himself has rekindled the simple formula that made Kid Marine, Waved Out, and Not in My Airforce so endearing and easy to like. I am really excited to hear these little pop songs on Pollard’s trek out to the East Coast in two months, because there are some extraordinary songs on Normal Happiness. Two of my favorites have to be “Rhoda Rhoda,” with its heavy chug and immediate hook, and “Whispering Whip,” which boasts a Superchunk of chorus and then is over before you can say… “precision auto.”

I think that Pollard pulled out yet another winner with Normal Happiness and those who picked up one of the many Fading Captain releases that were released since From a Compound Eye’s release in February will be relieved that the codger's skip has yet to slip. Go ahead and listen to it for yourselves for free over at Merge. I do have to say that this is one of the worst album covers I have ever seen. Why Bob, why? Oh, I guess that there will be a bonus for those of you actually pick up Normal Happiness as it comes with a nice little 15 song cd featuring Robert Pollard and the Ascended Masters (Tommy Keene, Jon Wurster, Jason Narducy and Dave Philips) live at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, from this past June, when they opened for Pearl Jam. Yep. Great album... shitty artwork... a great first solo tour... with Pearl Jam... looks like it's two steps up and one step back.

Friday, September 15, 2006



There’s nothing like pouring rain on a cold Friday off the Coast to put you into a sleepy lull. Before heading over to the studio this morning I spent a half an hour trying to figure out what I wanted to listen to today; something to bring me up a bit, but not annoy the hell out of me by sunny cheer. I think I got it.

The Rock*A*Teens The Rock*A*Teens (Daemon, 1996)

I think I saw The Rock*A*Teens about five times in one year when I was at Ohio State- no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get away from them. They seemed to open up for every band that I was into at the time, but in hindsight The Rock*A*Teens were far cooler than any of the headliners that they would support (with the exception of Neil Hagerty on his first tour) it just took me a while to realize it. Their sets were always either great or terrible (there didn’t seem to be much of a middle ground), but they had a couple songs that were pretty fantastic and I presume that most of the stuff they were playing was off of their final album Sweet Bird of Youth. Fellow Marble Stature blog-man Jared Phillips had this album lying around his apartment on Summit and Lane and we drank a few beers to it. Was this really the same band?!! Not quite, guitarist and songwriter Kelly Hogan would leave The Rock*A*Teens after their second album, Cry, but I think that time has been very kind to The Rock*A*Teens, who, in the lifetime, never seemed to be able to pull themselves out of their supporting act hole. After hearing this album I picked up all of their other albums, and while each one is rewarding in its own right, this self-titled debut is the moneybag.

Singer Chris Lopez is a wildman; like Dana Hatch and Tom Shannon (of the also unappreciated Cheater Slicks), Lopez is a tortured rocker, bound for anonymity, destined to imbibe like a legend and leave a trail of words as the ultimate suicide note. But unlike the desperate voices of the Slicks, Lopez pushes himself into a frenzy shrieking at the top of his lungs and leaving his shaky laryngitis at the end of the crescendo. Of course, these over-the-top performances start wearing you down over the course of the album, but the inventive songwriting, like a collision of slightly out-of-tune R&B, surf, punk, gospel, rock ‘n roll, the Pixies and Pavement (for beginners) through a heap of reverb, is nothing but relentless.

The Rock*A*Teens are a group that need to be written about some more, because I would hate for such an unique band to be forgotten, especially when there is so much stuff out there right now reaping in critical acclaim when The Rock*A*Teens did it better ten years ago. Buy The Rock*A*Teens and talk some shit about all of the bands that try to sound like them and pass it off as something new; The Rock*A*Teens knew their history and created something that sounded like nothing that ever came before them. Wait; is that not the goal of all bands? Yeah, hearing this for the first time last summer was like a bitch-slap from the past... just listen to "The Ram's Den" and you'll feel the sting.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006



The airline lost my luggage, searched my luggage, confiscated my laptop, and ditched me on some pretzels on the connecting flight from Philly, but I made it to Providence safe and sound, followed by my luggage in the early morning hours of Sunday, September 10th. Meghan’s friends were in town visiting from Columbus, and they wanted to have a look at Boston while they were up here, so we had ourselves a little train ride on Sunday. I was a bit groggy from traveling, so I wasn’t too keen on taking a trip, but you got to bite your lip sometimes. As we were walking around Cambridge, I remembered that there was a Newbury Comics (see, I can get away with Newbury Comics because there’s enough there to entertain the group, if I would’ve mentioned the great Twisted Village I would probably still be up shit creek) nearby, so I thought I’d see if I could find something interesting.

Pere Ubu Why I Hate Women (Smog Veil, 2006)

I grabbed this right when I saw it, because I think that the store’s employees didn’t notice the release date of next week… but maybe they just didn’t care. Yeah, so not a whole lot of people probably care about Pere Ubu these days, sure they made more than their fair share of stinkers in the past (you can use your own judgment as to which phase is their worst), but you really can’t really say that Pere Ubu ever really abandoned their weird impulses, even at their most accessible (Cloudland, Worlds in Collision, Story of my Life). My brother, who was living in Cleveland at the time, picked up Ray Gun Suitcase at a Half-Price Books and played it for me in the car and I remember feeling really weird about music for a couple of months afterwards. I haven’t heard RGS’s follow-up Pennsylvania or 2002’s St. Arkansas, so I have been having some trouble finding an appropriate context for Why I Hate Women, so bear with me. First of all, Robert Wheeler’s playing on this album is impeccable; his EML synthesizer boldly sears, scratches, and colors the band’s rhythms with a combined sense of claustrophobia and magic that made those first three Ubu alums so groundbreaking; never questioning what Master Ravenstine would do? The drums are a prominent instrument in the album’s mix, and Steve Mehlman does well to provide a stable rock-beat throughout this very weird (you probably could’ve guessed that one) album, while guitarist Keith Moline and bassist Michelle Temple take turns pulling out of the middle’s murk. Even Jack and Robert Kidney from the Numbers Band (see post 1.05 for a review of their classic Jimmy Bell’s Still in Town) make appearances on Why I Hate Women, but you can’t talk much about a Pere Ubu album without talking about the big guy in front, David Thomas.

In an AllMusic review of St. Arkansas, Robert Doerschuk convincingly states Thomas’ case of being an equal of Tom Waits, and this album should do better to reaffirm his somewhat bold thesis. The two possess two of the most distinct voices of all time, but seem to be polar opposites of each other in terms of pitch and tone, but both are haunting and carnival-esque. Thomas’ voice takes on a unique tone for each song and his performances on Why I Hate Women are as electric as anything he did in the 70’s, but without the escapist excitement fueling the Cuyahoga. Here he is tired, frustrated and direct. Even on the charging “Caroleen,” which sounds a bit like a song off of The BreedersTitle TK, if the Breeders would have been helmed by Black instead of Kim, Thomas is in contrast to the raging band that is backing him; barely able to keep up, never missing a beat, but baring his soul lost in amidst the clouded fury. It’s hard to find anything to criticize about this album, because it has a quality about it that is so deliberate and constructed, without ever sounding difficult or laborious. Every time I listen to Why I Hate Women, its dense layers reveal a new level of complexity and sophistication which is rarely seen in music these days, and when you do see it, is usually a product of ignorance rather than intelligence. This is probably the best thing that I’ve heard this year. Thanks Ubu, thanks!

Friday, September 08, 2006



I was going to write a review today, but I have all of my cds packed up and only have on hand some sentimental favorites to get me through my last day of work:

-84 Nash A Secret Reward (Insect Siren/We Want Action, 2003)
See post 1.13.
-Times New Viking Dig Yourself (Siltbreeze, 2005)
It was great getting to know these guys over the past year, their new mini-lp The Paisley Reich is going to be coming out on Siltbreeze in the next few months and it's fucking righteous man. It looks like it's next stop Matador, as the indie-powerhouse has been vieing to release the next string of little TNV classics.
-The Double Palm Fronds (Catsup Plate, 2004)
I got this along with A Secret Reward and the Moc Records comp because I remember listening to Loose in the Air with Vertical Phil back in September of last year, but I figured that I would look this one up and I am really liking it right now. The Double is about 1000x better than the Animal Collective.
-84 Nash The Kings of Yeah (Rockathon, 1998)
Yeah!!! fucking good.
-Blue Diamond Phillips Presents Volume 1: This is My Life (Moc, 2000)
This comp had an 84 Nash song that I didn't have, so I decided to pick it up. M.O.T.O.'s "Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance to the Radio" is not the same version that's on Kill M.O.T.O., and the Kleenex Girl Wonder song is pretty good too, but (no surprise) it's 84 Nash's "I'm Not Famous, I'm Nobody" steals the show in my book. James Brent's drumming will make you rubberneck on the bridge.
-The Stapler Metaphysical Haircut (Columbus Discount, 2006)
I came to Columbus last June with the goal to record and release this album, and it finally got an offcial release a couple of weeks ago via Matador Direct; listening to this is always going to bring back some great memories.

My time in Columbus have been great; thanks to everyone who made it such a great experience for me. Keep Daymon Dodson alive and well, stay close, hold your heads up high, and keep in touch. I'm going to miss you all and am anxious to see everybody on December 22nd at the Carabar for The Stapler's homecoming show (other bands will be announced closer to the date). You'll hear from me sooner though; look for my next post this Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, September 07, 2006



I got an email the other day from Insound- one of those weekly sale updates. They are having a “Back to School” trivia quiz with a new question every day for a month (I think), I’ve been trying not to buy anything before my move (in two days) but after shooting 3 for 3, I decided to use my 20% off to pick up an album that I’ve owned on (count ‘em) 3 different occasions; I first picked it up at a show at Oldfields, and then Vertical Phil gave me an extra copy he had on hand, and then this one from Insound… which will hopefully not be lost or stolen; I guess I’ll have to keep it under lock and key.

84 Nash A Secret Reward (Insect Siren/We Want Action, 2003)

I first reviewed A Secret Reward for the Vertical Slum’s inaugural issue (Davy Jones’ Looker) and, at the time, I really was having some mixed emotions about it. I had almost worn out my copy of Band for Hire awaiting the new album, which was highly anticipated by 84 Nash’s growing fan base, so much that rumors of it’s production, recording, title, artwork, release date, and format circulated up and down High Street. I remember one rumor that the album would only be released on vinyl, which made me quite nervous because I didn’t own a turntable at the time. I found myself working at a summer camp in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts during the summer of 2002, and I remember calling up my girlfriend to see if there was any development on the new 84 Nash album. No shit. It was a cold rainy day in the early months of 2003, when I first heard A Secret Reward; Jeff Fernengel (painter, driving instructor, noisemaker in the Tree of Snakes, and my pizza brother) called me up on a Saturday morning looking to get some chicken wings and he flashed a burnt copy of the puppy. He gave me permission to walk it to a campus computer lab so that I could secretly burn a copy for myself. I spent the entire walk to Brown Hall flipping through the tracks trying to find my favorite 84 Nash song, and live staple, “Tired of You.” AND IT WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND! I just figured it was a mistake, but sure enough it was saved for their next album, which as of September 7, 2006, has yet to be (and will probably never be) released. A couple of months later I went to an 84 Nash show at Oldfields (about two weeks before their release show) and they had a couple copies of it, down low, for sale at the show. I didn’t have a cent to my name, but Adam Anderson (Tree of Snakes drummer) bought me a copy from merch-man Doug Elliott for something like $8. Why such a long-winded history of this album? I’ll tell you why- because I had to go through years of torment in order to finally hear this, so you should have to wade through some idiot-speak in order to get to the meat. When I reviewed it for the Slum about 6 months later, I wanted to write about it, because there was something so compelling about the album, but at the same time I was a bit disappointed with it, because my expectations were just multiplying in my mind with each rumor and each day. I let Shy Girl borrow it up in Providence and she informed me after hearing it that the loan was permanent, so when Vertical Phil gave me a copy last September, I hadn’t heard it in a while and it seemed to sound a little more natural than I remembered. I lost Phil’s copy back in March of this year, so I decided to pick it up before it becomes as scarce as everything else that they have released. I am so glad that I did, because I think that I have finally gotten over the shell shock of my initial response and I can now, three years wiser, truly enjoy the bizarre album that A Secret Reward is.

The first thing that about A Secret Reward that sets it apart from the two previous 84 Nash albums is the production. It’s as clear as day; instead of relying on the mid-fi mud to thicken up their sound, keyboards were used to fill in the gaps with extra hooks, creating a dense texture to the powerful live sound that they have. Drummer James Brent pounds away with accuracy and abandon, and finds melody within his percussion; a quality not found on previous albums. Kevin Elliott’s vocals are clean enough to hear the lyrics for a change, but still retain the distortion that made his voice so unique and charming in their early stages. And the guitars… bassist JP Hermann and guitarist Andy Hampel are playing so tight, that, like in “Mathematical Park” and “She’s a Warrior,” they seem to trade off lead and rhythm at every hook; creating a intertwining frenzy of buzzing power. I was put off by what I thought was a lack of creativity, but now I think that I just couldn’t quite grapple with the complexity to each of these songs. A Secret Reward is simultaneously their most structured of the three albums but it is also their weirdest. They leave their Guided By Voices comparisons spun out in the dust; and have seemed to bring themselves to a new sound that is all theirs. Possibly the closest thing to this would be The Thermals, but them northwesterners don’t even come close to matching the versatility and explosiveness of the 84 Nash we see here. If you haven’t heard A Secret Reward yet, pick one up from Insound or We Want Action before it’s too late- just be sure to be patient with it, it’s rewards are well worth the effort.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006



Last week I wrote about one of the most beloved of the bands that ever came out of New Zealand, the Verlaines. I went to Used Kids on Saturday morning right when it opened at 10, to avoid the Campus Buckeyes madness and mayhem, and like I was saying in the previous post, came upon a cd by a band who’s name I’ve heard a few times while waist-deep in Kiwi waters a few years back.

Cyclops Goat Volume (IMD, 1994)

I first heard about Cyclops from Drag City’s I Heard the Devil Calling My Name seven-inch, on which they make an appearance. Now, I’ve never heard the aforementioned seven-inch, but I did some digging online and this Goat Volume compilation cd came up via Peter Jefferies entry on Trouser Press. It turns out that he was playing drums for Cyclops in their three years of activity, 1991-1994. Yeah, yeah, Jeffries drums for most every band on the Xpressway, so nothing new there, but what really got me is that Cyclops featured bassist/singer Kathy Bull from the completely overlooked and avoided (probably because of their unfashionable round glasses and long church-lady floral print dresses) mid-80’s Flying Nun outfit Look Blue Go Purple. If you haven’t heard any Look Blue Go Purple, do yourself a favor and check them out; they are one of those weird girl-groups who weren’t so much The Slits as they were a cross between Young Marble Giants and The Monkees. Now back to Cyclops… I listened to this on the second half of an hour car ride, expecting to take it out after a song or two, because I just figured that it was going to be soaking in Xpressway murk (I did get this in the Avant-Garde section). Jefferies signature double bass-drum pedal wallop is always an immediate attention-grabber, but wait: “is that a melody?” There’s Kathy Bull for you. After listening to this thing a couple times through, I finally looked at the liners last night and what I heard turned out to be quite different from the truth. I thought Bull was one of (at least) two female singers, and there was one male singer (not Jefferies- you can tell his frog croak from about a mile away), and at least two guitarists within the wall of harmonious din. I was pretty surprised that there is actually only one guitarist, Bruce Blucher, and that Blucher and singer Andre Richardson were actually singing the songs that I thought Bull was singing along with. Their combined voices bear an uncanny resemblance to Adam and Beth of Times New Viking, especially on “9 Unknown Men,” which is a raging punk rave-up bound in a tight albeit simple structure of verse and chorus. It’s worth the price admission alone, especially if you are looking for one of those great, “what-the?!!” anthems for a mix-tape. Not the case with most of this lesser known, or in this case almost completely unknown, New Zealand groups, Goat Volume is really solid; venturing from dark-folk, melodic punk, spoken word, and filled in the gaps with memorable kiwi-rock (reminiscent of The Exploding Budgies, Look Blue Go Purple or the Victor Dimisich Band). I was wondering why this never came out on Flying Nun, but it kind of makes sense because Flying Nun was putting out garbage by 1994, and these guys seemed to operate as one of those anomaly bands hovering around the Xpressway camp and still making interesting music, like the 3D’s, the Cakekitchen or the Terminals. Cyclops is easily as good as the best of them, (and “9 Unknown Men” might be the great lost NZ single) although they seem to only exist as a minor stop in the path of their well-known drummer. Next time you go out to the record store be sure to cruise the cheap bins for this, because it’s one of those albums that you don’t see very often at all, and when you do it’s either $5 or $50, and everything always sounds better when you’re on the winning end.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006



So there was a “down low” New Bomb Turks show at the Carabar this past Saturday night- kind of a coincidence because they last played Columbus a week before I moved to Rhode Island two years ago. I got the call about the secret show from CDR co-chief Burger J about two weeks ago, who wanted me to draft up some fliers, to which I responded (more or less) “why? …That sucker’s gone be packed.” I just figured that word of mouth alone is going to put the hot spot at capacity… and it was. Some pre-show drinking occurred at the House of Pleasure on the occasion of the Buckeyes’ season opener, but the party got moved over to the Outer Spacist compound smack dab in the woods of West Tulane. We put on a Feelies album and lost track of our minds, and almost missed Necropolis kick-off spot; luckily we only missed two songs because thems on fire. Probably the best set I’ve seen them play, but who am I kidding, they’re always great. Grafton staggered onstage and walloped with some dirty ass rock ‘n roll. I leaned over to Adam Smith during their first song (and first song on their new album Jumpstart Wire), “Never Had Less,” and said, “I just hope they play the whole fucking album.” Sadly they only got about halfway in then they decided to call it a night, I probably would’ve been pissed if I weren’t so excited to see the Turks.

When the Turks played Skully’s two years ago with The Spitzz and Mike Rep and the Quotas, the place was beyond crowded even though the Skully’s is at least twice the size of the Carabar (and about half the cool). So I was pretty glad that the Comets on Fire show at Little Brother’s helped distract enough people to make the Carabar attendance bearable. I always wondered what it must’ve been like to see the Turks back at Stache’s in 1992, when Destroy-Oh-Boy! was just the word on the street, and Saturday night was about as close as I’m ever gonna get. They were on fire. The crowd up front was rowdy and packed in tight, and when Eric Davidson hopped up on stage we all just realized how intimate of a stage we’re dealing with at the Carabar, and everybody just exploded with wild furor upon hearing Jim Weber's first riff on “Id Slips in,” from their second album Information Highway Revisited. And the momentum never stopped. Even when Don Bovee took a nasty spill trying to get onstage to sing Batman, he eventually sopped up the blood from the throbbing gash on his forehead, stood up and started singing his signature tune; thus turning his serious fall into his crowning moment. After the Grafton set I stockpiled 4 cans of Pabst and put them safely by the PA monitor, but after the first five songs, I could hardly drink ‘em and decided to use the beers for some beer showers during “Sucker Punch,” “Tail Crush,” “The Anal Swipe,” “Tattooed Apathetic Boys,” “Born Toulouse-Lautrec,” and even had a few drops for their encore closer, “Last Lost Fight,” which the rocked the crowd so hard that I was flung up on stage. I think every member of The Feelers crowd surfed, and Davidson crowd surfed on a few occasions, it was like seeing my first punk show all over again. There was an after party at the Outer Spacist West Tulane compound, but it didn’t really matter, I was rocked so hard that my mind was completely blown; I sat in a chair with a blank expression hearing the Flamin’ Groovies, but still listening to the Turks in my head. I couldn’t even listen to anything on Sunday and drove around in complete silence. On Saturday morning I went to Used Kids and found CyclopsGoat Volume for $5 in the avant-garde section and that finally lulled me awake from my coma on Monday afternoon. I’m going to write a review for it tomorrow, so check back for that.

Friday, September 01, 2006



I used to work in a computer lab at Ohio State’s School of Greed (pretty punk, huh?) for a couple of years. This one summer I worked there and it was one of the most boring experiences of my life. I ended up spending every paycheck online buying cd’s and records, because I was so bored. I was even buying so much stuff that I would get bored with buying new shit, so then I took to reading about music via the internet, and I think that’s when I finally got beyond the initial surface of New Zealand’s big three: The Clean, The Chills and the Verlaines. It’s kind of weird thinking of those three great bands as the three entry points into the epicenter of the cool that was New Zealand throughout the 1980’s, because their stuff was actually a lot harder to come by than the still-great but far more obscure or “out-there” stuff from the time. I still challenge you to find The Clean’s Compilation or Oddities, or The Chills Brave Worlds or their singles collection Kaleidoscope World or anything from the Verlaines with the exception of their last three albums. Luckily each of those groups has an anthology-type release that still is in print (although The Clean Anthology is the only one that is really worth your time), but Heavenly Pop Hits and You’re Just Too Obscure For Me are just the tip of the iceberg… put in a little extra effort and you’ll end up tracking this stuff down from all over world. And hey, although this is what I consider the “big bopper”; one of those albums you listen to for months on end, it still is able to surprise. Are we past the age when a compilation could be more than the sum of its parts... sucka?

Verlaines Juvenilia (Flying Nun, 1993)

You probably already know the kick off track, “Death & The Maiden.” It’s the one that has the “Verlaine, Verlaine… etc” chorus (oh yeah… that one!) so I’m not going to waste hours going into how it’s the most amazing song, and how Malkmus (true fact) tried to rip it off for “Box Elder.” Graeme Downes was a genius. He’s still alive, so when I say was, it’s because he hasn’t put anything out since that odd solo album that Matador put out a long, long time ago. I haven’t checked any facts in a few years, but the last I heard he is a music professor at a College down in New Zealand. Yeah, I think he has a degree or two in music, but don’t hold that against him… it’s not his fault that music majors tend to be in only the absolute worst bands of all time. I think that has to do mostly with those shitheads studying Rush albums with a metronome and diet Dr. Pepper in their chubby hands. Anyway, Downes was one of those clever cats: able to understand the entire evolution of music, and translate his vast knowledge into complex compositions that never feel complicated or overindulgent. In that way he is not unlike Richard Thompson, John Cale or maybe Brian Eno. His voice is yearning (like Robert Smith but minus the clownish bits) and he just shreds through his guitar strings strumming like an epileptic in a strobe light on the hits: “Pyromanic,” “New Kind of Hero,” and my personal favorite “Crisis After Crisis.” Hell, they’re all hits! Try not to jerk a tear for “Joed Out,” it’s one of those tortured lover pieces, but devoid of the crap that makes chicks want to ax their serious singer/songwriter (soon to be) ex-boyfriend types.

It’s a bit hard to believe that these collected singles, which were released in such close proximity to each other, were followed up by two albums (Hallelujah All the Way Home and Bird Dog) that are almost of the same high caliber; that’s probably because Downes spent something like three years writing these singles before the group even went public. "Haste makes Waste," right? The Verlaines, who were a three-piece mind you, were rounded out by bassist Jane Dodd, who would go on to join the great twee-pop group the Able Tasmans (who have recently, well… within the last ten years, released an impressive compilation Songs for the Departure Lounge, and it’s on Flying Nun of course), and drummer Robbie Yeats, who left the band to form The Dead C. The fucking Dead C. Graeme Downes wasn't the only genius working the wheel here; it makes you wonder the size of impact that these early works left on the whole of New Zealand. Remarkable. Hell, I’ve got to get back to work… I can’t pull another “long lunch” this week, track down Juvenilia, it’s just one of those things you got to hear. Still, the defining moment from perhaps the best band of the 1980’s that most people claim to have heard, but most likely never have.


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of similar interest:
marble stature archives
art for spastics
crud crud
detailed twang
electric pure land
population: doug
static party
terminal boredom
world of wümme
the z gun

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