Classic Album Review: The Final Solutions – Disco Eraser (2003)


Artist: The Final Solutions
Year: 2003
Label: Misprint
Tracklist:
1) Deep Six
2) Bottom Of The Chain
3) I See You On A Path
4) Eat Shit, Hologram
5) No Final Solution
6) Need Me
7) I Can’t Sing Through My Fuzz Pedal
8) Electrofied
9) Disco Eraser
10) Russian Interpreter
11) Not Good
12) You Make Me Laugh
13) Die In The City
14) 40 Licks

Comments: Expecting Disco? You boring fucks! Well yes sir, Disco Eraser that is. The 2003 LP released by Jay Reatard side project- The Final Solutions. I bet you weren’t expecting a review in 2012 however. Why now you may ask. Well, this week KLYAM and friends will be attending the Boston screening of the Jay doc Better Than Something and I want to see everyone there! And if you are not a Boston denizen then hit up a local theater when the flick hits your town. So, in honor of this great event I decided to review a Jay record and with this being my most recent listen, why not? Here it goes…

I have always been one to judge a book (in this case an album) by its cover. Here we see five gentlemen standing outside a brick building just hanging around pounding back some Busch Lights. And that’s the feel of this record for me.  It’s very much a “let’s get shitty and jam” kinda record. No real female touch involved.  There’s an odd masculine (not macho) presence throughout most of Jay’s work and I certainly see it here. Just a bunch of dudes having fun and getting rowdy, but with instruments. Jay under the psudonym “Jimmie Jewlz” and his cronies (Quinn, Tommy, Justice, and Zac) mix together the raw, trashy sound of The Reatards with the more experimental, synth heavy style of the Lost Sounds (in fact fellow Lost Sound Alicja Trout co-produced the album with Jay). This is a fine piece of punk slime, the punk slime we champion on this site. Final Solutions definitely fill your little bellies with dark, vicious jam after jam. Nearly each song is under the two minute mark. The band cuts out any hint of filler, which truly makes the listener have a hard time hating this thing. And if you’re like me you already get a stiffy anyway when you hear most Jay recordings. Purchasing this record is the sonic equivalent of paying for a scantily clad woman to toss you around the room for twenty minutes, beating you mercilessly with each punch representing a new song. The opening track, “Deep Six” certainly wraps its noose around your neck and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Fast, futuristic, and instantly stuck in your skull. It smoothly translates into “Bottom  Of The Chain” a powerhouse song that is extremely catchy and diabolical, leading us to the LP’s greatest moment, “I See You On a Path.” The latter is a true pop gem, and though this album has loads of hooks, this track is a standout that foreshadows Jay’s incredible talents as a pop musician (however Tommy is actually the main songwriter on this song). The “oohhhhhoohwoooo” vocals are insane! coupled with the simple drum work, it doesn’t get any better. Then of course there’s classic Jay mantras in songs such as “Eat Shit, Hologram” where lead vocalist Zac Ives constantly declares “EAT SHIT!!!” Poor Hologram. One of my favorite tracks is the humorous, “I Can’t Sing Through My Fuzz Pedal,” which kicks off with some poorly recorded vocals that are naturally fitting. Not every song is a knock out, but like I said earlier these numbers are so brief, there’s not enough time to dislike them, you just go a long for the ride. There’s nothing earth shattering on this record and it pretty much sticks with the same sound/style, but it’s a fucking awesome sound and the whole band destroys.  I will make one exception actually. The final song “40 Licks” feels pleasantly out of place- it’s like an 80’s pop song. It’s really cool though – not a pussy song – I assure you no wavers out there. I have a burning desire to sync it up with that club scene in  The Terminator when Arnold finally finds Sarah Connor and he pushes through all the dancers in slo-mo! So yeah, a solid album from The Final Solutions – absolutely one of Jay Reatard’s greatest musical contributions, not quite as amazing as his later output, but certainly worthy of (high) recommendation. This shit has incredible replay power; I’ve listened to it three times while writing this review!

Album Review: Putrifiers II (Thee Oh Sees)


Band:
Thee Oh Sees
Release:
September 18, 2012
Label:
In The Red

Comments: Thirteen albums deep, Thee Oh Sees made me think: just what will their next album sound like? If there were any indications before we got to preview some of the songs, it was that this was not a full band album. It was primarily written by John Dwyer in the role of multi-instrumental captain with help from long-time engineer Chris Woodhouse (drums) and Mikal Cronin (sax) just to name two. Dwyer’s done this before; actually, just last year with Castlemania. I love Castlemania’s wildly psychedelic moments and distinctive tape production. With the longest song clocking in at 3 minutes and 20 seconds, that record stands in contrast to the full band’s lengthy inclinations on Carrion Crawler/The Dream. With Putrifiers II, it sounds like Dwyer is interested in trying some new things, but with a keen remembrance of past successes. On the opener, “Wax Face,” I think of Carrion Crawler/The Dream, with its buzzing bass-line, fast pace, and array of effects for Dwyer’s guitar playing. The one thing that stands out on this track and stays that way for the rest of the album is Dwyer’s vocals. Dwyer doesn’t seem to be straining himself too much, just letting melodies stand as most distinct and the vocals as a creepy, yet squeaky clean and well-mixed after-thought. “Hang A Picture” is more Castlemania than Carrion, thanks to that acoustic guitar that Dwyer likes to bring out on record sometimes. It’s also easy to get lost in the sea of instrumentation. You might miss some horns if you aren’t paying attention. The fuzz sounds like a synthesizer, maybe it is, maybe it is.  “So Nice” is a stand-out track for me. “Remember a day when fat kids got high? A light twisted sky enlightening me.” With a Velvet Underground styling (eastern influence and all — is that a viola?), this song marches along, sounding much briefer than its near 4 minutes. Ya wouldn’t know this on record though with “Cloud #1” serving as a continuation/instrumental. “Flood’s New Light” – which has just made the online media rounds, receiving very high praise – seems to channel the supreme energies that resulted in Help, the 2009 release that had some “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba” hooks to its own credit! You might even stop and think, ‘wait is that King Khan and the Shrines?’ at the beginning. I did. By “Putrifiers II,” Dwyer’s talent becomes abundantly clear. He makes some strange music (with some strange titles and some strange album art), but can so easily craft an identifiable pop gem, which I’d say this title track is. The flute and saxophone parts toward the close of the track are superb additions and slightly surprising – I wasn’t sure if Dwyer would break out into a full-out jam or some experimentally savvy finish or something of that nature. “Will We Be Scared” has me thinking Atlas Sound in more ways than one: 1) vocals (namely!) and 2) that old timer chord progression. Still, though, “Will” is distinctively Oh Sees, credit some extra psychedelic moments and choice picking. If I could see the band perform any of these Putrifiers II live, I’d bet “Lupine Dominus” would be one of them. It’s as ‘complete’ as they come on this record. It surprises me when it ends. “Goodbye Baby” is an odd-duck, culled from a long line of brief ’60s pop songs. “Wicked Park” is much the same way, but is just about a perfect closer. That acoustic guitar makes a comeback and for me I imagine Dwyer just strumming along on someone’s abandoned back porch. Just fun loving stuff that might serve as a nightcap to bizarre entertainment. With Putrifiers II, I feel like there will be a new breed of listeners that are just starting to get into Thee Oh Sees, perhaps because they caught them live after going to a show with a friend or saw the name on some high capacity music site. I sure hope they take this album for what it is — a few left and right turns within a familiar framework of past work. Great, awesome, cool, whatever, I feel it’s necessary to end this review with the mindset of how it started. What will #15 sound like? Not that it matters because I sense this will be getting many spins throughout the fall.

Top Three Tracks:
(1) Putrifiers II
(2) Will We Be Scared
(3) Flood’s New Light

Album Review: Ty Segall Band – “Slaughterhouse”


Band:
Ty Segall Band
Label:
In The Red Records
Release:
6/2012

Comments: It would be reasonable for a KLYAM reader at this moment to think to themselves, “damn, they’re all about Ty Segall lately!” We aren’t secretly working for Ty, by the way. It’s just been that what the guy has been doing lately is nothing short of incredible. Slaughterhouse, as many of you may know, is the work of Ty’s live band, which in addition to he, includes Emily Rose Epstein (drums), Mikal Cronin (bass), and Charlie Mootheart (guitar). Technically speaking, this is the band’s first studio release. (There is a 2011 complete band live album called Live In Aisle 5.)

It’s hard to tell exactly how this record was produced. In many ways, it sounds like a ‘everyone ready? 1-2-3-4!!!’ click and record effort. The depth and clarity of each instrument is something else. Getting back to the record itself, I find it fascinating to look at this from a loose concept record whose name tells all angle. You think Slaughterhouse and you don’t think of a sunny afternoon walk in the town common. It’s more like the guitars and all associated effects are no longer producers of music, but are more like intelligently crafted guns. Even Ty’s vocals aren’t at all like the Ty that we’ve heard from the beginning. He’s vicious, carefree, and destructive. He screams and he says ‘fuck yeah’ and ‘fuck this fucking song’! The songs themselves don’t fall far from the creators’ tree. The band is on the same page as Ty and the three of them, well they don’t give a flying fuck either. Some might say well “Fuzz War” is just a loada shit noises and random chords. I would’ve said that two years ago. If you look at this from a macro perspective, it’s almost a perfect ending. We start with “Death” and work backwards to when the mayhem began. (Don’t go back and listen to every song in the reverse order — though that might actually be interesting to some… including myself.) At this point you might be thinking, so what’s the best song on this thing? Well it’s “Wave Goodbye”. I believe [after much deliberation] that “Wave” is the best thing that Segall has done to date. It’s a perfectly crafted song. From start to finish, it’s a monster. You know Ty’s up to no good when he starts off “I went to churches and I went to school, I played by all of your mother’s rules”. That solo never gets old, either. The pounding of Emily Rose Epstein. Mikal and Charlie. Man. “Wave Goodbye” is so supreme that it sort of leaves you wanting to compare the other songs to past Ty efforts. But you will find that you can not simply do that. Even the 1 minute 30 second “Muscle Man” most effortlessly can compete with the fuzziest and loudest there is on Melted. Speaking of loud and fuzzy.

Where to go from here with that. Friggin “That’s The Bag I’m In” slaps “Muscle Man” around with its dick. You can’t help but smile when Ty instructs “extra fast” on the “Diddy Wah Diddy” cover. Ty and Charlie get extra giddy at times on that song and Ty. Funny dude. “I got a car with wheels. Who fuckin’ cares? Fuck this fuckin’ song. DIDDY WAH DIDDY…Wait, rewind it, let’s go again!” This is a tight band.  If we care to backtrack a bit, we can talk about some of the other tracks. “I Bought My Eyes” is insane. Some people who prefer damaging aural attacks might say this is the front-runner of them all. It sort of is. The other contender is “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart.” First. Any coincidence that they’ve been playing “Eyes,” “Wave Goodbye,” and Tell Me” live? They must love them long time too, right? If songs were people (as I often make the comparison), who would win in a 5k running race, “Eyes” or “Tell Me”? If you are a Melted purist, you might be more of “The Tongue” type (though that means you could be an “Imaginary Person” or “Caesar” purist…cover your ears, kids…and this isn’t an insult, those are my favorite songs, too). Or maybe you like yourself some “Oh Mary,” which indeed is a Ty Segall cover. And by Ty Segall cover, I mean one guitar/two drums one-man band 2009 style. This time around, Ty’s vocals sound nearly identical, but the instrumentation is more bopping, controlled, and clearer. Controlled chaos. I’ve seen it listed sometimes as “Mary Ann,” which either is a mistake of journalists or a purposeful re-branding made for an onslaught of first-time amateur Ty listeners. Let’s go to the bottom of Slaughterhouse.

I was about to say this is Ty’s best release. I’m not sure if it is entirely appropriate to say that though. I can’t imagine too many record reviewers have asked what the roles were of John Hassall and Gary Powell in the making of Libertine records. I don’t have any liner notes in front of me (still waiting for the record to arrive in physical form) so I feel bad coming to any conclusions and giving misinformed credits. I know the band has switched up instruments live and they are all capable of doing that kind of thing. Did it happen on Slaughterhouse? Either way, this really is a special record. This is only the beginning of my experience with it. I can’t wait to drop the needle for the first time and hear the first screeches of “Death” and the final barrage of noise on “Fuzz War”. And everything in between. Right now, I’m going to place it ahead of Hair, which I raved about. Like most great rock and roll, I can see this being under-appreciated. Maybe people aren’t on the same wavelength as I am about the capabilities of these four, but it’s really something that ought to be examined. Excellent!

Album Review: “Heaven” (The Walkmen)


Release:
5/2012
Label: Fat Possum

Comments: I love A Hundred Miles Off. There, I said it! The band hates it. The critics looked at it unfavorably. Fans don’t really mention it among their Walkmen favorites. What does that have to do with Heaven? Well, A Hundred for me is a fun variety of spirited tunes — the garage/punk influenced “Lost In Boston” and “Tenley Town,” the Everyone Who era “All Hands and the Cook,” the unforgettable horns in “Louisiana”. So on and so forth. 2008’s You and Me was outstanding as well, but it sure did mark a shift in the band’s sound. A lasting shift. Heaven emotionally feels like a continuation of the vibes of Lisbon. You can tell who was behind the boards for Heaven – that would be Phil Ek, who has gotten involved with some higher profile ‘indie’ bands like Fleet Foxes and Modest Mouse. The rampant “oh-oh-woah-oh-oh” on Heaven sound less like something Hamilton would think of on his own and more of an Ek thing. I hate those. BUT one of the benefits of “oh-oh-woah-oh-oh” is the fact that (most of) the songs that don’t have a part like that stand out. I will say that I’ll forgive it on “The Witch,” which additionally has a remarkable bass line and some eery clanging. Songs like “Heartbreaker” (great guitar playing and tempo), “Heaven” (minus the extensive oh-oh-woah-oh-oh) and “The Love You Love” feel the most complete to a dude like me who prefers faster stuff. I’d say these three songs in particular might be better than anything from Lisbon. That’s a good record, but not something I could consistently find myself getting into. I think some other people might feel this way. It seems sort of useless to shit on the real slow songs because they do in fact have some worth. The guitar picking in “Line By Line” really draws me in and makes me wonder how the song will turn out. The instrumental minimalism is outstanding. And yes, I can see where people prefer similar minimalist-esque numbers like “We Can’t Be Beat” and “Southern Heart,” but at this stage it’s hard to keep going back to those. The mid-tempo stuff is more pleasing. There are little critiques here and there. “Song For Leigh” has a cool chorus, but I feel like they could have it taken it a few steps further instead of diving right back into the verses. I think these guys had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to include on this record — a few big rockers, some mid-tempo jaunts, and a handful of slow songs. Perhaps the production role that Ek played wasn’t as important as I’ve made it seem, but it seems like in the recent past they’ve left more of an impression without the aid of a larger name helping out. Take You & Me. Practically every song on that record is memorable and inviting from the get-go. With Heaven, I think there is some potential for it to have a lasting impact, but as a young, long-time Walkmen fan it’s rather difficult to embrace the band’s current direction with respect to previous releases. They’re older, they have kids and frankly maybe the thought of another You & Me ‘grandiose’ album or another hard-hitting Bows + Arrows type of work just is not something they want to embrace at this stage. To each his own. I’ll always have a soft spot for The Walkmen being one of my favorite bands from a time when I really started to get into music. I’m not one to shit on a favorite after a lack-luster release or two and certainly Heaven isn’t one of those in the traditional sense. Here’s to hoping it grows on me some more and even if it doesn’t I’ll always keep a focused eye on what these guys are up to next. They’re just one of those bands.

Album Review: Atlas The Atom Smasher’s “The Snowmiser Suite”

Artist: Atlas the Atom Smasher
Full Title: The Snowmiser Suite
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Label: Self-Released
Comments: It’s 2012, the apocalypse is almost upon us and the end of the world is nigh. Alright, no, I personally don’t buy into anything relating to the mayan calendar or December 21st of this year. However, if you were to ask Atlas The Atom Smasher, it can be the perfect subject matter to base an album around. “The Snowmiser Suite”, the Punk trio’s newest release, is exactly that: one 12 minute, three part punk rock odyssey about finding oneself and making sense of the world’s problems right in the midst of, you guessed it, the apocalypse. The song’s three movements each call to mind different emotions that might come out of a situation such as this. At some points the lyrics reflect hope for mankind’s future, while in other places there is a sense of anger about the factors that might have led to the world’s destruction. Finally, the boys in Atlas seem to reach a point of understanding and even acceptance with the chaos they’ve depicted here.
The EP begins with ominous guitar chords that build right into the first movement “Snowmiser”; here frontman Aaron Hibbert sings with a kind of pained optimism. The state of the world he depicts is anything but pleasant, but he holds on to a small sense of hope as he proclaims “we’ll be okay someday”, a line that goes on to be a recurring idea later in the song.
The second movement, “Heatmiser”, abruptly transitions from hopeful anthem into furious hardcore driven by the relentless rhythm section of bassist Josh Wilson and Drummer Tyler Bisson. Whatever hope might have existed in the first movement vanishes here; Hibbert and Bisson trade off angry vocals, each railing against humanities’ choices and actions (Killing the mother for fuel to survive/ as if killing each other could keep us alive). To close out the second section, the band features some fine guest appearances, the first by vocalist Chelsea Maida, who brings back the idea that “we’ll be okay”. Guitarist Nicholas Wiedeman (Big Mess) provides a heavily distorted guitar solo over a slow, heavy, blues interlude that marks the end of movement two.
From here, the band progresses into movement three, a quick paced, straightforward punk rock romp that brings back that lighthearted optimism shown at the beginning of the record. Judging from the lyrics, Hibbert appears to have reached a point of peace and acceptance as he sings “I hope that I finally get to see the apocalypse”, as if he knows whats coming, yet has no problem with it. There are even clever jabs at subjects like religion: “raise up your arms as if praising the sun could save us from anything and all that we’ve done to ourselves”. This memorable EP comes to a close with Hibbert and company proudly exclaiming “we’ll be okay”. The difference this time is that they seem confident, as if over the last 12 minutes they were able to reach an understanding of the world’s problems that led to this horrible situation.
Overall, “The Snowmiser Suite” is a very impressive release that approaches the subject of doomsday from many different angles. Hibbert’s lyrics move back and forth between optimism and pessimism, hope and despair, and sometimes pure, unabashed anger. In the process, he brings up subtle political, religious, and even environmental ideas as they could relate to the end of the world. Underneath the vocals, his band moves flawlessly through tempo and meter shifts while effectively interpreting the different moods the lyrics evoke. Each movement captures a different element of modern punk rock. Sometimes it is melodic, other times aggressive, but above all it is quick paced and full of energy while still bringing a complexity not typically seen in punk today.

CD Review: Black Keys – El Camino [2011]


Release:
 12/2011
Label: Nonesuch Records

1. “Lonely Boy” – A
2. “Dead and Gone” – B
3. “Gold On The Ceiling” – B-
4. “Little Black Submarines” – B
5. “Money Maker” – A-
6. “Run Right Back” –  B
7. “Sister” – C
8. “Hell Of A Season” – C+
9. “Stop Stop” – B-
10. “Nova Baby” – B
11. “Mind Eraser” – C+

Comments: Before legions of Black Keys fans begin tearing me to pieces let me preface my little review by saying that I’m neither a committed or knowledgeable fan of the band. I’ve liked me some “10 A.M Automatic” for a while now and I thought Brothers was a pretty good album. “Lonely Boy” is deceiving. It’s the best track on here. One of my favorite singles I’ve heard all year, in fact. It’s deceiving, because the rest of El Camino (except for the comparably heavy/catchy “Money Maker”) really doesn’t give “Lonely Boy” a run for its money. There are another slew of tunes (“Sister,” “Hell of a Season,”) that on the surface seem to rock pretty hard, but are just similar, blander versions of other better Black Keys songs. I can definitely see where a big fan of more recent BK albums may really end up enjoying those songs. They could be growers. The organ, which appears in a few of these songs, doesn’t bring much more to the mix. This is a good record. A better record for people with more Kings of Leon/pop-rock leanings than grittier, more psychedelic rock ‘n roll leanings.

Grade: B/B- (83)

Review: The Orwells – “Remember When” [2011]


Release:
 10/2011
Label: Self-Released

1. “Lays at Rest” – A
2. “Mallrats (La La La)” – A
3. “Halloween All Year” – A
4. “All The Cool Kids” – A
5. “Suspended” – A
6. “Painted Faces and Long Hair” – A
7. “Hallway Homicide” – A
8. “In My Bed” – A-
9. “Never Ever” – A
10. “Like No One Else” – A-
11. “Ancient Egypt” – A
12. “Under The Flowers” – A

Comments: The Orwells caught my attention earlier this year and they’ve damn secured that attention now. Remember When is the band’s debut full-length. It’s a loud listen, exploding with blasts of unrefined rock N roll slime. The pop slime that sticks to your brain like a piece of Wrigley’s chewing gum. Local reference indeed. I shit you not when I say these tracks stack up to the best of comparative material from recent years i.e. slightly to a lot better known bands like Cum Stain, Natural Child, Ty Segall, Diarrhea Planet, and Thee Oh Sees. The in-your-face production tactics are well-oiled, particularly on “Suspended,” which has some big echo on the vocals. It’s like if Julian Casablancas got the shit kicked out of him during the making of Is This It and wanted revenge via the recording process. That kind of thing. The shimmy shimmy might be what Reatard wanted to make when he was 15 and bashing on a pair of buckets and a shitty guitar, if only he had a few other older dudes around to make it ‘fuller’. Well, that eventually happened. The point I’m really trying to make it is that in an age of bands sprouting in an instant it’s always quite excellent to hear a youthful effort that particularly stands out. Orwells can just as fine do the slower/slacker (example, “Never Ever”) thing as the fast thing (example, “Mallrats”) as the Arctic Monkeys thing (example, “Ancient Egypt”) as the choice old tyme intro samples (“Under the Flowers” particularly is CHOICE). If this is their Animal Farm, will their next be Nineteen Eighty Four?

Grade: A (93)

Link To Listen To Remember When