Die hards be checking this every damn day since October 1 of the previous year. It’s that legit.
Die hards be checking this every damn day since October 1 of the previous year. It’s that legit.
I had the honor of seeing Parisian band En Attendant Ana two Friday nights in a row: first in Boston at O’Briens Pub and then at the Hi-Tone in Memphis as part of Gonerfest 15 Night Two. I’m writing this post because I believe them to be the best live band that I’ve seen in a LONG TIME.
I saw a lot of bands at Gonerfest 15, including some true OG favorites like Oblivians and Carbonas. I love these guys and thought their sets were amazing. I was familiar with the songs they performed. I’m new to En Attendant Ana, having only briefly listened to their most recent album Lost and Found. I liked it a lot, but seeing them live was a transformative experience. Perhaps you can relate to a band that blows your mind even if you can’t name a single song. Hit after hit, hook after hook, there is no downtime or stagnation over the course of the set. There is a constant stream of musical euphoria and that larger-than-life feeling of music-as-inspiration. A pop band with a noisy rock ‘n roll sound. The trumpet adds a layer of character that works brilliantly in this group.
Check out all their music and, if you can, go see them perform. I don’t think larger festivals and bigger shows are far out of reach. En Attendant Ana would easily blow away and bring something fresh and exciting compared to what a lot is bandied about as “pop” these days.
GONERFEST 15 is shaping up to be an extraordinary festival. And just writing this is awfully redundant because every single one of them since the first one in 2005 has showcased the very best rock ‘n roll performers who are revered not just around the US, but also across the entire world. Pretty deep. I’m saying this not as someone who is an OG Memphis pilgrim, but as someone who has gone yearly since 2015 and has admired the label’s appetite for raw rock ‘n roll (garage/punk) for as long as KLYAM has been around. Describing GONERFEST to those who are entirely unfamiliar always makes for interesting conversation. Picture a music festival that draws people from Denmark, Australia, Los Angeles, you name it. But imagine the headlining shows at a 400 capacity venue and the afterparties (which can go well past 4 AM) at a tiny dive bar packed with crowds more than ready to continue the live music party. Giorgio Murderer closing out the weekend at Murphy’s. You can’t really top that. Anyway, here is who I am particularly excited to see:
CARBONAS – Who knew recommending a band in 2010 could be so incendiary? I know I made so many people mad on Terminal Boredom for liking contemporary 2010 bands (aw shucks being only a toddler in ’93). Well the haters can stay at home and listen to their obscure, limited press color 45s while I jam out to Carbonas at The Hi-Tone on Saturday night. No ‘pausing, extra lean straight-ahead move-out-of-the-way rock ‘n roll. I always connected with this, but thought seeing them live was out of the question considering their lengthy time not releasing new music. But with an album like Carbonas (released by Goner), it makes perfect sense to stop there…in a good way.
OBLIVIANS – It seems like I must’ve seen Oblivians, but nope this will be the first time. Seen Jack O, seen Reigning Sound, seen Greg, but the greatest group of the bunch that also features Goner owner Eric O? That will be Friday night at the Hi-Tone. I can’t really add much original thought to the highly influential legacy of this Memphis band. Super catchy AND super raw and noisy. I’m still angry that I left a CD copy of Best of the Worst bought from Bobby Hussy in Madison, Wisconsin in a Rent-A-Car in Chicago. Hopefully someone found it and started a band.
COBRA MAN – My Cobra Man obsession took on new heights this winter as I found myself playing their New Driveway Soundtrack almost daily. I think their charm is similar to the charm that gets me going when I listen to DEVO and the B-52’s, but this Cobra Man I tell ya is a bit more showy, club-ready (and still quite nerdy). The production is so crisp with really thick groovy basslines that shine through and bring these songs to the penthouse when they could have easily stayed in the basement bedroom or garage. I saw them play at Murphy’s during the daytime Saturday Blowout (amazing), but am even more excited to see this duo light up the darkened walls of the Hi-Tone on Friday night.
GENTLEMEN JESSE – Woah is me. The first band to really hurt my eardrums back when I was relatively new to going to loud rock and roll shows was Gentlemen Jesse and His Men. 2009 opening for Black Lips at Middle East Down (in case you’re keeping track). Now, Jesse will be performing a solo set at Memphis Made. To go back to the previous point – the hurt eardrums wasn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed the music greatly. Pop rock, or power-pop they might call it. But not so super wimpy as those two words might make a purist weep or some bullshit like that.
NOTS – Goner mainstays and KLYAM favorites. Time Warp Weekends, too. Want a band that wastes no time with what they’re doing? Shouted, repetitive lyrics, with the kind of dynamic instrumentation that for lack of a better phrase is as if we’ve been blessed with the Greatest Hits of the Goner label all packed into one band. Take a minute for that. They’ll be playing Saturday night at the Hi-Tone.
SICK THOUGHTS – Like Oblivians, like Carbonas, Sick Thoughts just knows how to write a banger of a raw rock ‘n roll song without wasting any time. Album after album. Single after single. Put on any Sick Thoughts and you can be guaranteed you will start to immediately do whatever your signature “I’m really feeling this song” move is. Catch ’em right before Oblivians on Friday night.
HARLAN T. BOBO – Not going to lie, do I know much about Harlan T. Bobo? Very little and I am talking about his music. Apparently he is fairly mysterious as well, but Goner has lent their full support to what I am only guessing is a Memphis legend. I don’t know where to start, but maybe his Thursday night Hi-Tone show may be just the right kind of live introduction?
MORE TO BE CONTINUED!!!!!!!!
Everyone’s Gonerfest is a personal Gonerfest. Everyone’s Memphis is a personal Memphis. Folks travel far and wide, or in some cases – not at all – to get to Gonerfest to see the best bands in the land. For us, this was our third trip down there. Veteran status? King Louie might beg to differ. At any case, if it was not for the precise organization of the heads at Goner and the cooperation of the city, venues, groups, and fans, this might be a different animal. Instead, it’s for the most part a meeting of minds, a reunion for many, or for the uninitiated – the first annual.
I will call it an international summit, with some representation of the past, present, and future. Where bands unite, where bands stop on tour, where bands play their first (and maybe last?) show. Is there a Goner sound? If anything I learned this weekend, it’s that no, no there is not. Maybe in 2009, but not in 2017. And the record label/store is better off for it. There are some sounds and scenes that curry a bit more favor across the board. Los Angeles and New Orleans have some wild bands, shoving that straight-ahead, raw, fast sound into our welcoming ears. Die Group (Los Angeles) are mainstays and were a definite highlight for me on Thursday night at the Hi-Tone. Almost from the second they begin to play, I’m into it and there is no resting after that. Sex Tape Records – Die Group’s record label – put on a Friday early morning afterparty at Bar DKDC and this was a choice shindig with the Sex Tape’s very own Brain Bagz (Salt Lake City) and Tenement Rats. Now, it being a long drunken night, I thought Tenement Rats’ Jonny Watkins was Pitbull. A garage punk Pitbull. Yes, that Pitbull. It took some clarification. Count me in as a big fan of both groups, both with the noisy, catchy immediacy we need in these modern times.
New Orleans deserves a paragraph of its own. From my very first Gonerfest (12), I gathered some intel that this is a very incestuous group of music playing individuals. Playing in each others bands, supporting each other. From the start we had NOLA king King Louie (weirdly called King Louis on a Memphis news website?) playing opening ceremonies in a new band with Abe White, formerly of The Manatees (Memphis). A few hours later BENNI started Night One at the Hi-Tone. With an album recently released on Goner, the mysterious BENNI might just be the weirdest project of the bunch. Armed with a few synthesizers and a talk box, he eased us into what would be a night of heavy rock ‘n roll. Kind of like Couteau Latex did last year. It would be more than 24 hours until we got another dose of freewheeling New Orleans punk – this time at the legendary Murphy’s for the Night Two afterparty. Gonerfest alum Die Rötzz, and Dummy Dumpster (both been around for more than a decade) along with newer crew Enoch Ramone got the booze spent revelers moshing around into each other. Maybe it was the peck on the cheek from Don Perry (eternal gratitude for the rides to the afterparties and the laughs), or maybe it wasn’t, but the Enoch frontman was in a frenzy start to finish, save for the “Gates of Steel” DEVO cover, which was sung by Sam from Trampoline Team. Maybe Murphy’s is the true second home of these NOLA characters as this year’s Saturday afternoon Blowout brought us three performances: GUSHERS, IS IS, and HEAVY LIDS. While the first and last just mentioned groups are more in line with the above mentioned quick zip, speedfire r’n’r and absolutely rocked it, it’s that middle group that put on arguably the most subdued, but interesting performance. Masterminded by Giorgio Murderer and featuring members of Trampoline Team and Black Abba. This was the closest thing we got to that unmistakable Giorgio/Buck Biloxi sound. Click the link and go be offended.
Pt. Two coming soon…………………….
Formal reviews won’t do this record any good; instead the notes on the sleeve that come from those closest to Angry Angles – Alix Brown (one half of the band) and Zac and Eric from Goner Records – tell the story of the band and this record better than any music writer will. The time frame is 2005, when Jay Reatard and Alix formed the band after the dissolve of Jay’s previous group, the synth heavy “dark wave” Lost Sounds. According to Zac, Angry Angles were Jay’s “return to punk, in a way. Still raw, but now more focused, with a pop sensibility.” They recorded a few singles in Atlanta and Memphis over the course of two years and even got some studio time in Montreal before Gonerfest 6 that culminated in three songs previously unreleased until now.
Unfortunately I was not hip to Angry Angles (or any of Jay’s pre-solo bands) prior to his death in January 2010. But upon listening to Angry Angles shortly thereafter, I was blown away. Listen after listen, this group became most certainly an all-time favorite, right up there with The Reatards and The Lost Sounds, both of which I also had no previous exposure. What stood out to me, particularly, with Angry Angles is sure they were dark and robotic (like The Lost Sounds), but they were mighty concise and sharp. Hook after hook. Jay’s quick fire/angular guitar playing, quasi Brit vocal inflection, easily identifiable drumming, and fat production – trademarks of what would be his solo style take root here. But this was a dynamic duo and Alix and Jay were musically perfect for each other, often taking the heaviest/simplest moments of Wire and Devo soundscapes and modernizing them with the relentlessness of your neighborhood garage band. It seems like Alix challenged Jay-isms to a most positive affect, to me, most apparently on “You Lied” stuffed with a more traditional sounding bouncy bass line and some piano.
Angry Angles no doubt were the basis for the direction that Jay chose to pursue throughout his mighty solo discography from Blood Visions through his final LP Watch Me Fall, which features a tune I never would have guessed was by Angry Angles — “Can’t Do It Anymore.” In fact the final three songs on here, which I mentioned were recorded in Montreal (and not by Jay himself) with drummer Ryan Rousseau, sound very much like Jay’s solo stuff. His obsession with doing it all himself, as Alix writes in her blurb about the album, gives insight into why they never saw the light of day until now. There are no ‘weak’ songs on here, all memorable jams, and I am so thankful for Goner for putting together this album. It is strange to think that over the past six years many of these songs like most of Side A and the first half of Side B have been so influential for me and I have played them over and over, if only via YouTube or a WFMU session. I’ll always say it and I know at least some others agree, the rock ‘n roll that came out of Memphis in the span of four years – 2005 to 2009 – is simply the best. Angry Angles, The Barbaras, Girls of the Gravitron, Boston Chinks, these are my favorite groups NOW. Back then I didn’t know such wonderful raw stuff. I was a teenager from Boston, MA, listening to The Strokes and The Libertines, damn was I missing out on the real good stuff, most of it coming from Jay and his adjacent friends and cohorts. I hope this record might incite or re-ignite passion, because Angry Angles and a healthy chunk of the Goners left (and still leave) an impact on me.
Kickin off Parallax Error with some ole ’50s, ’60s Bo Diddley guitaring but that ain’t half of it. If it’s from Australia and it’s on AARGHT and GONER it’s gonna be pretty off and it’s gonna be pretty much the best shit you’ve listened to all year. Happened last year with me and the Ausmuteants. Great thing too is you can jump in after the fact, you know after their first few singles and/or album, and still feel OG because what they doing never loses its realness quotient. So with the Hierophants, I see ma boy Jake is in the band, in fact this was recorded behind his old house. Sounds pretty legitimate to me, but I’m the last to know about production.
For all I know these Australians could be fly by nighters, forming and disbanding just to confuse us Americans, right more than a few of us try too hard to sound ‘right’ or something like that. This Hierophants album, mostly, is that fine mesh of synth and vocal kinkiness – music to anyone’s ears who knows what I’m talking about – and bass/drum groove funkiness. I kinda fell off the new wave old wave synth wave black wave thing somewhere between Devo and the Lost Sounds (fucked up, didn’t I?, but place this down with a soft cushion in between those eras. Those epochs.
And I can’t tell the difference between guitar and synth. Everything is so mechanical, but unpredictable and doesn’t that vibe with rock ‘n roll legends in bands previously mentioned? I’ve realized it’s dumb to comment on songs versus provocation and why things are exciting while I listen and type. Cause it’s weird. But the music is fairly nerdy too. This is the dance music of somewhere. If the Hierophants are a top spin in a modern DJ’s collection, damn, come on please transport me there and allow me to spend some vacation days. They don’t let things get too f’ed and they intelligent too.
NOTS, every chance I get. NOTS. Confrontational and fun-loving. My favorite group going that I haven’t yet seen. The videos (like all the YouTube videos) have been great and the record too in the meanwhile! Let’s get them to Boston sometime this year. Go Goner
I’m going to do my best to just stick to full length albums. Here we go in ABC order..
Atlantic Thrills – Atlantic Thrills (Almost Ready) – I’ve been a life long fan of music, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became enamored with local music. Atlantic Thrills was one of the first bands I gravitated towards and it’s not hard to see why. They capture the punk slime sound we crave better than anyone else in New England and that is fully on display on this long awaited debut LP. Besides the music itself and the commaraderie that comes with it, one of the other great things about seeing a favorite band over and over again is becoming accustomed to their signature songs, so when you finally hear their album it sounds like a greatest hits collection – trust me I mean that in the best way possible. For what it’s worth, the alphabet just happens to work this way, but I’m glad this album is up here first because it is indeed my favorite album of the year. #1. I will say Free Pizza’s Boston, MA is a close second though, but we’ll get there when we get there. Top Song: “Lie To Me”
Ausmuteants – Ausmuteants (AARGHT) – Yes, I’m aware this is an album from 2013, but I first heard it in 2014, so I said fuck it why not just slap it on there. This will happen at least one more time. Top Song: “Tinnitus”. LISTEN:
Ausmuteants – Order Of Operation (Goner/AARGHT) – I just couldn’t get enough of these Aussies. This is just fun, funny garage pop with some vicious keyboards. It sounds like an 80s new wave band that got mixed up in the garage punk scene. You’ll be singing along to these gems all year. In addition to the kickass music, as with the first record, subject matter always slays me. Just listen to “Publicity Stunts.” Top Song: “Freedom Of Information” http://ausmuteants.bandcamp.com/
Fat Creeps – Must Be Nice (Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes) – Your favorite Creeps are at it again and they’re heavier than ever on their debut full-length LP. I’m naturally biased, so the EP will always be my #1, but this is a solid follow up that won’t disappoint FC fans. Top Song: “Daydreaming” http://fatcreeps.bandcamp.com/album/must-be-nice
Free Pizza – Boston, MA (BUFU/Feeding Tube) –The title track says it all. This was/is a local anthem for Boston, specifically the Boston underground music scene. I’d never thought I could embrace any notion of civic pride, but this song actually did it for me and it’s always a pleasure hearing it live. Sad to say these slices recently waved good bye to us for their hometown of Miami :(. At least, we have the music and the memories. Top Song: “Boston, MA” http://freepizzarocks.bandcamp.com/
Gymshorts – No Backsies (Self-Released) -This was my kick you in the balls, lay back and smoke, chug a 40 in the alley way, fuck you dad album of 2014. Yes, yes eat all of their gymshirts. Fill those little bellies. Top Song: “HEY PARENTS!” http://gymshorts.bandcamp.com/
Juan Wauters – N.A.P. North American Poetry (Captured Tracks) – Let me hip you to something, this kewl kat known as Juan Wauters, you may have seen/heard/spiritually merged with the man before in his previous happening, Jackson Heights, Queens, NY’s #1 The Beets. If you doug (ehhhhhhhhhh) The Beets, then you’ll love Juan solo, you’re wack if you don’t. Dude channels The Beatles, Piero, and Los Mockers – the last two are groups Juan hipped me to. It’s like soft, serene Ramones too, if you’re still not convinced. Gotta rep Queens, even though I’ve only been there three or four times. Top Song: “Sanity” http://juanwauters.com/
The Lemons – Hello, We’re The Lemons (Burger/Gnar Tapes/Tripp Tapes) – Holy shit, definitely one of my new favorite bands. It’s hard to not be happy when you hear/see The Lemons. You’re submerged in this little, Lemons world that’s all gooey and yummy it’s like a Cheerios commercial from 40-50 years ago. There’s no bad feelings. SHORT SHORT songs about lemon limes, candy girls, jelly beans, ice cream, kool aid, Chubby Checker! Picture The Archies, The Monkees, The Partridge Family, I think. Perhaps the sweeter more innocent version of their Gnar brethren, The Memories. It’s all that and it’s super sweet and super short. A little injection of sugary pop. It’s so quick you want it to keep going, but it leaves as quick as it came. It’s that fast high, that five second orgasm, that day you discovered you had five bucks left in your pocket. When life hands you lemons, eat em’ up, eat all the sweets up and get those cavities, it’s worth it.
Believe the hype! Top Song: “My Candy Girl” http://thelemons.bandcamp.com/
Littlefoot – Night Of The Living Dreams (BUFU) – 2014 was the first time I saw or even heard of Littlefoot. I can remember it like it was just last year. I remember seeing them open the Atlantic Thrills album release show and screaming to Glen HEY! they have that sound I love, it’s like Earth Angel and shit! All of those odes to golden oldies are heavily on display here, Erica is on top of it, she’s done her homework and the extra credit assignment. Surf on some dreamy pop waves with this album. Top Song: “Worrydoll” http://littlefootlittlefoot.bandcamp.com/
The Marty Kings – XVII (Self-Released) – Yeah, yeah, yeah, this isn’t from 2014. I told you this would come up again and I’m a man of my word. Well, I first heard this thang just this October and it’s too fucking fantastic for me not include it. I was cruising around with those sweet ass Nice Guys and I thunk what the funk is this? It’s so bubblegummy and poppy, but in that raw, off kilterish way I always luv. Those boys informed me that this was the mastmerind Andy Macbain, the man behind Tunnel Of Love and another band you’ll be seeing on here very shortly… Top Song: “Little Arthur” http://themonsieurs.bandcamp.com/album/xvii
The Memories – Hot Afternoon (Burger/Gnar Tapes) – I had/have a huge boner for last year’s Love Is The Law and it’s lasted longer than four hours. Here we are again in 2014 and the vibes are still groovin’. It’s the same spirit, a bit funkier and even more laid back. If Love’ was the 60s, then Hot is the 70s. Do it up. Top Song: “Dad’s Not Home” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE_vAq1wRO4
The Monsieurs – The Monsieurs (Black Gladiator/Slovenly) – This is pure, primal rock ‘n’ roll slime with a splash of punk and a pinch of pop. Real pop, bubblegummy in your tummy fun. Innocence… well not so innocent. It’s fun to be bad and this is about as badass as it gets. Various Boston garage legends here maintain their reputation and lurk the streets of beantown to fight again and again and again. Top Song: “Kari Ann” http://slovenly.bandcamp.com/album/the-monsieurs
NOTS – We Are NOTS (Goner) – You can never go wrong with Goner. Some kids way back said Memphis was dead, but damn it sure as hell is alive on this record. NOTS is straight up no holds barred fun with violent keyboards to add fuel to the fire. It’s one of those bestial sounds that makes me climb on top of the refrigerator and hop off like I’m five years old again, much to the chagrin of the folks downstairs. TOP SONG: “Insect Eyes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yvjewj28wU
The Orwells – Disgraceland (Atlantic/Canvasback) – I’ve heard a lot of talk about this being too clean and commercial in comparison to their previous LP Remember When. Fair, but honestly it’s not that much cleaner and as far as I’m concerned The Orwells have always been mershy, radio friendly in a way, in a FABULOUS way. These feel like radio songs. Hit songs. One after another (some definitely stronger than others). Even when these dudes were fourteen and trying to sound like Black Lips and Back From the Grave comps, they still sounded rather accessible. You could see what they were going for and how they completely drove past it. That isn’t to say I think they’re better than the Lips or whoever, it’s just that even when they were a garage band they didn’t really sound like one. Whatever it is, they hit it right and they have the songs, the talent, and the live show to back it up. TOP SONG: “Blood Bubbles” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g87QQ4RX_KU
Ty Segall – Manipulator (Drag City) – Ty again, big surprise buddy! Yes, Ty is back on my year end lists. There are no surprises here, there shouldn’t be. We rep the shit we love all year long and admittedly most of them fall under similar genres, hail from the same regions, and appear on the the same or similar labels. I’m okay with that, while I always love expanding there is such little time on this planet I intend to spend it with the music I love. As much as I dug Ty’s all acoustic effort in last year’s Sleeper, I’m really happy to see the dude rocking out once again. This is his longest monstrosity to date and while it’s not the same fuzz of early Segall, he maintains his true flavor and destroys. TOP SONG: “Feel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4VA-b5ORxI
Now hold up, before y’all pack up your shit and leave, I must give a massive shout out to all of the KLYAM Records releases we love and are insanely proud to have put out in 2014. More cumming in 2015….
KLYAM-002: Nice Guys/Miami Doritos Splifft 7″
KLYAM-003: Back Pages Singles 13 TAPE
KLYAM-004: The Electric Street Queens – Live From Your Dreams, We’re The Electric Street Queens TAPE
All releases available here: http://klyam.bigcartel.com/, at the the following Boston area record stores: Deep Thoughts in Jamaica Plain, Weirdo Records in Cambridge, and Armageddon Records in Cambridge, and at all KLYAM Presents shows.
That’s all folks!
More importantly listen to theses Aussies here: http://ausmuteants.bandcamp.com/
Here you go you little punk slime eaters. A new music video for “Decadence” by Memphis synth punkers NOTS. The song is featured on their debut LP We Are NOTS on Goner Records.