Band: Gremlins UK Release: 10/2012 Label: Meth Mouth Records
Track-List: Side A – You Live In A Park; Hey Mongo; Dont Give Em Enoug Rope Side B – Ham Fisted Love, So Second Rate
Comments: Gremlins UK is the band in question from Austin, Texas. Featuring Boston expat and Maine Coons mastermind Spent on guitar/vox, Gremlins UK bare close resemblance to the Coons (naturally) so it seems almost like an automatic love at first listen situation for me. This EP is grittier punk rock when stacked right next to the Coons, but Spent and his band-mates are perpetually cognizant of the importance of hooks. “You Live In A Park” ends before it starts, but it’s a blast from needle-drop. “Hey Mongo” is a punchy tune. The chorus in “Don’t Give Em Enoug Rope” is supreme and the fall-apart-at-any-time-but-pick-back-up-again nature of the track in general is something I totally admire. Side B is equally fun. Spent’s vocals carry these tunes (see “So Second Rate”) like Jay Reatard’s did and like how Nobunny and King Khan’s do…the dude knows what’s up. I haven’t heard very many 7″ this year, but damn this is essential.
Band: Kal Marks Release: 2012 1. “Out in the Deep”
2. “My Guitar”
3. “Born Again”
4. “Piss of the Century”
5. “Fake Tits”
6. “The Chain”
Comments: The first two songs on this record are no less than incredible. Interesting way to start a review, huh? All the chips fall into place quite easily. It’s like they’ve got control of that Pixies loud-quiet-loud thing, but only if the lead singer of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was born in Alabama. On “Born Again,” there’s a pulsating rhythm and some Fat History Month esque guitar picking. The sparsity of this song (no drums) makes me feel like I’m out in the woods or something. It’s comforting. “Piss of the Century” returns to the form of the first two, but with a big kick in the nuts. I like the contrast between this and the prior. The production of “Piss” stands out too, turn those amps up and mic those drums real well – check! The references to previously mentioned bands seem to come from individual parts of Kal Marks, not really the whole. I could toss some more out like The Loon era Tapes ‘n Tapes, but God only knows the familiarity they might have with them. “Maybe if I didn’t know my body/well maybe I know my self-worth” did I hear that right on “Fake Tits”? Haha, this is a funny one, at least to me. It is well-done and I knew it’d be interesting to give a lil attention to the words. The closer is a cool cumulative visitation to prior sounds previously given the light of day, but with some added features that collide perfectly toward the ending of the song, which kicks ya in the privates (for the second time). There’s some feedback/effects that blindsided me (in the good way) – anything’s possible with Kal Marks, right? I’ll stand by “Out in the Deep” as my favorite on here, because 1) it captivates me 2) it sounds terrific and somewhat familiar 3) the ending, man. It’d be unreasonable not to ask you to spend some quality time with this record. If you’re from the Boston area, it seems, too, that it would be a great tragedy to miss out on what these dudes are doing.
Comments: Day One might be Moontowers first official release, but it sounds like the kind of polished effort from a band that’s been across the country and back a few times. I immediately notice how nice the guitars are recorded. I hear three different ones on “Stage,” but they don’t drown out the other instruments, which is cool. “Day One” is a bit more immediate and real groovy. The bass and keys power this track. “Miracle Cure” has been in the band’s live set for a long time so it’s sweet to finally hear the recorded version. There are several reasons why its a helluva track, but the chorus and the piano that follows that and then the ending. It doesn’t really end ’cause I just end up hitting replay. The first time I heard it I got Spacemen 3 vibes. Like that band, Moontowers can generate a hook pretty easily and affectionately. But in the end – literally – we’ve got what I think is my favorite track: “Up the Coast”. It’s the heaviest, the loudest. A true psych-rock powerhouse that recalls some of my favorites of the modern age. The guitar play brings me back to my initial point. It’s weird to hear this EP as just the beginning for these dudes. I’ve generally been finding myself taking a liking to fuzzier, perhaps maybe more ‘thin’ records of late, but when something like this comes along it makes ya think the more intricate side of rock ‘n roll can be just as enjoyable.
Band: Gangsta Love Release: 11/2011
Comments: Sometimes it is pretty damn easy to decipher album/song meaning like with Cum Stain’s Cum Stain. Spiritual Thangz is the same way. Frank Hurricane spits about the heavenly herb, the spiritual herb, the WEED. Holy vibes. What is a “Primordial PYMP”? Frank doesn’t keep you waiting for long: “It’s a true gangsta that’s deep spiritual shrimp. Always rolling with a pound of weed.” Frank makes a strong case to create the first weed-ucational Reading Rainbow show. This EP would be the music. The beats are effective — minimal and basic — and they make you really heed the words of the Hurricayne. This is prime music for the pound-a-day types. “It’s a holy thang. It’s a spiritual thang.” In other words, Frank makes devout Rastafarians look like devout Mormons. Boston, Allston, JP, all be chilling with ease. Tossing and burning big trees! Back on point though, these songs are very sticky like Molasses like sticky schweed. Songs that you start and end your day off with. Dangerous, though, mid-day. Look, I was doing some homework popped on some Shrimps Don’t Go To School. Shrimps don’t, but Klyams do. “Don’t waste your time with school and class. Make spiritual love and puff spiritual grass.” Fairly convincing though. Ok Ok Ok, so this EP is more than deserving of some Gangsta LOVE, so get highdrayted.
Comments: Here we are once again. Entering into the mysterious kingdom of King Khan’s supreme genius. For all those who’ve been following Khan, it’s quite a trip in itself keeping up with his propensity to try new, seemingly crazed musical ideas. In the past two years alone, we’ve heard him as part of the psycho-gospel “super-group” Almighty Defenders, the Bollywood pleasing Tandoori Knights, and (most recently) Khanwood Clarke. There have been other collaborations here and there that I didn’t just mention and how could one forget the two bands that have consumed most of Khan’s adulthood: the Shrines and the King Khan & BBQ Show. Well, as it turns out, this experience – The King Khan Experience — is a Shrines impostor or synonym. Khan’s got the provocative lyrics, raspy and soulful vocal stretches, ubiquitous organ, and guitar clang and twang that we’ve always known and loved. Nothing audible on this Experience is particularly innovative in comparison to The Supreme Genius, but that doesn’t mean this is a throw-away Experience. It does turn out that the first few cuts made available for download pre-release are the best. The psychedelic, yet magnificently clean “Come Levitate With Me” is sort of how you’d imagine a song with that title to sound. “I Got Love” is one of my favorites from this batch, asking the apropos “I got love. Baby, what you got?” Add a wah-wah solo to the mix and there you have it. There is a little deviation from what we’ve heard from “official” Khan on “Are You Serious?” which comes across as a mockery of budget recording, with Khan making an impromptu vocal overdub on top of a bottom-shelf wah-wah riff. The best thing of all on here is “Hammer Ich Vermisse Dich,” a German cover of Jay Reatard’s “Hammer I Miss You” which includes a children’s chorus singing “Hahhh-merreeee ichh vermissee dich”. Brilliance on Khan’s part for thinking up that. At any rate, it’s a tad difficult evaluating this EP beyond what can be heard. Whether Khan was fudging around with Scion on this thing or whether it was a genuine musical effort (the ‘Tard cover puts a skeptical spin on this school of thought) is besides the point. Khan’s having fun, so we’ll let him. Can’t imagine this holding any weight in the category of greatest things the Indo-Canadian has ever done.
Artist: Wavves Full Title: Life Sux EP Year: 2011 Label: Ghost Ramp Tracks:
1) Bug- 9
2) I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl- 9
3) Nodding off (featuring Best Coast)- 8
4) Poor Lenore- 8
5) Destroy (featuring Fucked Up)- 6/7
6- In the Sand (live)- 9
Comments: I often hear younglings shout and scream that OUR generation sucks [sux], our music, our culture, our society SUX. Well, this is Wavves, this a Wavves review, so I am going to stick with number one and tackle thee other two another time. Sure, I will agree that the mainstream music is putrid, but dig a little bit deeper (as if in this modern age it is a hard task) and there are plenty of true rock and rollers, true ganstas. In mine eyes, Wavves is chief amongst these proud, few folk and in the past few years they have demonstrated their quality and skill. Now, in Twenty Eleven we have Life Sux. Wavves does it again. I have always said with Wavves that if it was anyone else, they would have fucked it up. LS is a further testament to Wavves’s prowse as great pop songwriters- in fact I hate the very idea that to some people they are just a hip, indie trend. As a massive, obsessive fan of Wavves that just seems grotesque. Of course, it does not take a Steve Jobs to realize that with this new EP Wavves have moved into a poppier direction or maintained the pop punk angle they have grounded and become known for. Well, I say amen brother. As long as it works, I am all for it. And with this EP it definitely works. So, let’s take a look at it finally! “Bug,” is the the first track and it is certainly a catchy motherfucker. With this first track we do get the sense tht Wavves are capturing what they perfected with their last LP King of the Beach (2010), in both a sonic and lyrical sense. Sonically, the guitars are very thick and loud and overall the song hits you hard and demands your attention, it is hard to ignore- I couldn’t, if I wanted to. Lyrically, the song is classic Wavves; downer, angst ridden lyrics (to upbeat music)-“you’re NO FUN, you’re JUST DUMBBBB!” It’s a fun sad song. The negative aspect of this record is definitely more apparent than ever before in the Wavves universe. Ever since day one, their music has been filled with anxiety, insecurity, and self-hatred, but they take it to the extreme on this release, as if the title was not an indicator… No sunny beach, no super soakers, and no convertible balloons. At the same time, the music is just as ascending. Anywho, next up is “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl,” maybe the strongest track on this EP. I reviewed Grohl’ in a previous post about a month back- https://klyam.com/2011/08/29/wavves-i-wanna-meet-dave-grohl/. Another strong, heavy hiting cut, and despite it’s length (surpassing the five minute mark, a rarity for a Wavves tune) it never drags on you. Nathan Williams’s vocals are top notch here and after hearing this number a zillion times, I am still so wrapped up in its sentiment. At times, I forget that this is a song “about” Dave Grohl. I feel like this could be retarded novelty song, almost Nickelbeck esque-AHHHH!, essentially a song about being a rich and famous, and cool rock star, but it is nothing like that. Instead, it is about personal problems like any other Wavves song and so when Nathan sings “I Wanna Be Dave Grohl” it feels all the more powerful. “Nodding Off,” features Best Coast’s Bethany Consentino on guest vocals and here she is used mainly to complement the overall sound of the song and also Nathan’s vocals, not standing out as just a “guest voice” or letting her personality flood the song. This definitely works out and makes it a stronger track as opposed to “Destroy,” which features Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham. This track unfortunately is more typical, in the sense that while Damian’s vocals are cool and well done, they call too much attention to him instead of the song itself. It’s more akin to saying “HEY EVERYBODY, IT’S THE DUDE FROM FUCKED UP!” If it was more subtle like Bethany’s appearance then it would be more effective, at least for my money. I suppose if this was some special single release it would be more acceptable, but it takes the EP down a notch, not too bad though. Don’t get me wrong, “Destroy” is not a bad song and it maintains the catchiness of the rest of the record; not to mention solid, simple drumming from Jacob Cooper. The final track, “In the Sand, (live)” is definitely one of the finest from the EP. And indeed, it feels like a song intended to be heard live (as I gloriously experienced at the Royale in Boston a couple of weeks back). The lines, “Say…. What you wanted Sayyyyy” are great live and easy to sing along to; a stellar closer to a stellar record. All in all, a fantastic EP from Wavves, all fast, driving, loud, youthful anthems. This is not a throw away, forgettable item, that is never the case with Wavves. True Gangsta.
Grade : 8/10
* A review of Wavves’s performance w/ Fucked Up @ the Royale will be up shortly. Keep your panties on.**
Today is music’s lucky day. Cujo, the latest offering of Colleen’s (out on Art Fag), is available now for streaming and go do that! I’ve seen “California Stoner Pop” thrown around to describe it, but like I said in the title it’s “Catchy As FU(ZZ)”. Once your ears get anointed in Colleen’s trademark drum-machine/layer of rhythmic distortion/captivating voice, it’s hard to think otherwise. I’m really blown away by “U+ME,” “Mike,” “Rabid Love” (pure pop greatness), “End of Time” (one of the lengthiest tunes of hers…the little period of overwhelming [comparatively] cleanliness is fantastic…sort of get a ‘LOUIE LOUIE’ vibe), “Jesse Has A New Girl” (sweet solo/lead guitar parts), and that song ’bout dogs “Cujo.” Did I just name every song on the EP? Think so.
Artist: Deerhunter Full Title: Fluorescent Grey EP Year: 2007 Label: Kranky Tracks:
1) Fluorescent Grey- 9
2) Dr. Glass- 7/8
3) Like New- 7
4) Wash Off- 9 Comments: Fluorescent Grey is a strong release from the always mind blowing Deerhunter. FG is a good middle ground between the more experimental aspects of Deerhunter’s earlier career and what would become their far more accessible, pop driven style in future albums. In this sense, this EP is a nice companion to their then previous LP Cryptograms (2007), as they often appear together as one full package. FG is representative of the more traditional pop song half of Cryptograms, leaving the more experimental, ambient half behind for this release. In some ways, Deerhunter recycles many of the same ideas and sounds from that record, but overall the songs are so strong it really doesn’t matter. I can’t say there’s a huge progression, except maybe in the title track, which is easily one of the group’s finest songs in all of their catalog, but who cares?! This is an EP, and a great one at that. Deerhunter’s lesser works are half your average band’s strongest records, if even that. Anyway, I love the opening guitar riff to FG and the vocals are really creepy, but what stands out the most is definitely when the song “explodes” midway through after Bradford utters the classic line “you were my God in high school.” Just everything about the song is fantastic, the simple drums the contrast between mellow, calm vibes and complete chaos, violence; a great microcosm for Deerhunter as a whole. The next two tracks “Dr. Glass” and “Like New” are pretty solid and demonstrate the band’s talent as songwriters, but they are not on par with the first last and tracks. Speaking of which, “Wash Off, ” the final song is now one of my favorites from these guys. It’s a really catchy song, and the guitars sound like they are from some sort of 80s John Hughes flick: it simultaneously displays the pop side of them with the equally bizarre side of their music. In terms of lyrics, these are some of the most fascinating I’ve seen from Bradford (actually that could be said for all the songs here)- I love how it gets really manic and wild when Bradford starts singing “I was sixteen” over and over again. For whatever reason, it just makes the music seem that much more intriguing and strange for that matter. WO really showcases the Punk, Garage, if you will side to the band, which is usually there, but not as apparent. Here, Bradford, Lockett, Josh, Colin, and Moses place their Atlanta roots on their sleeves. I feel like this track perfectly captures the frenetic aspect of early Deerhunter in perhaps a bit more soothing fashion, but very tight and purposeful, and that’s the way I like it! So, now after hearing this EP, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to actually sit down and listen to all four of these songs as one collective. Without a doubt, a sound record and as with all of Deerhunter’s releases, powerful enough to stand alone, but shares that wonderfully distinctive, calmly menacing quality that runs throughout all of Deerhunter’s discography.
Band: Foster The People Release: 1/2011 Label: Startime International
1. “Houdini” – A
2. “Pumped Up Kicks” – B-
3. “Helena Beat” – B
Comments: Foster The People is an example of a band that is obscure enough that nobody knows who they are, but known enough that their shows easily sell out (well before performance date) at mid-size clubs. The song that brought them to the forefront of attention (college radio plays, blogs, etc) is “Pumped Up Kicks,” which sounds like a bit of a mesh of The Strokes and Cold War Kids. The vocals stand out the most while the instrumentation is relatively minimal. There’s whistling, perhaps bringing to mind (in spirit) PBJ’s whistling “Young Folks,” an ‘indie’ one-hit wonder according to many. “Houdini” is the first song I heard by the band and it really stuck out to me. It’s a bit along the lines of Passion Pit with some MGMT thrown in. I really dig the spurts of electronica. It’s a very dance-able song and one of the more complete tracks I’ve heard this year. “Helena Beat” is the most club ready offering with a solid beat and a really good second half. Foster The People will be most appreciated by people who dig fun, rhythmic tunes.
Band: Dum Dum Girls Release: 3/2011 Label: Sub Pop
1. “Wrong Feels Right” – B+ 2. “He Gets Me High” –A 3. “Take Care Of My Baby” – A- 4. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” – A
Comments: This one begins where I Will Be left off. Like its longer predecessor, He Gets Me High personifies the tag noise/pop that has been applied abundantly to Dum Dum Girls music. The first two tunes are of the variety of rock ‘n’ roll that we’ve gotten a taste of before from the Girls while “Take Care of My Baby” is a blissful rockabilly number — light instrumentation, beautiful vocals, a little tambourine. The production on The Smiths cover “There Is A Light” is absolutely stellar. The studio sound captured on here is something that probably couldn’t really be replicated as well live, but it is what it is and that’s really brilliant.