Band: The Electric Bunnies
Label: Florida’s Dying
Some people might be wired to just not accept this kinda stuff, but if you’re one of the lucky ones, these kinds of records are audible blessings… you ‘get it’ or better yet it just resonates along with the other demented recordings in your library. Like Girls of the Gravitron and Kazalok (to name two bands whose records I acquired via the label that put this one out, Florida’s Dying), Electric Bunnies march in their own universe, to their own conceptual beat, and that’s that. Through The Magical Door is far more psychedelic, eastern sounding, and tribal than those records I mentioned, but it operates along that noisy/garage/folk/luscious pop spectrum which I can not seem to get enough of. The first four songs of Side A and the first two of Side B flow like early Barbaras and Smith Westerns goodies. Sunny punk. There are instrumental oddities galore and big deviations from the standard rock ‘n roll format. I like. The gatefold design and included board game speaks to the VIR of this release. Yes, it is worth the physical luxury. Listening to Through The Magical Door makes me feel like I am in on something like-minded underground heads may have missed (again!) so you like-minded underground heads scurry to your store of choice (Florida’s Dying web store) and get on it. It’s out there, weird, and not straightforward. Like you and me. Personally, I would not be surprised if in due listens this splits time alongside all my favorites I mentioned above. Good work Rich.
Band: The Sonics
Label: Norton Records
Picked up this Norton Records LP from Deep Thoughts on Memorial Day and sadly I haven’t played it as much as a guy like me should. Encompassing the first four years of The Sonics in chronological order from A1 ’61 home recordings to B9 ’64 home recordings and some dance and teen club performances sprinkled in, Savage Young Sonics sounds like a band both comfortable dabbling in instrumental surf and gradually more eager to rock ‘n roll. Apparently they were able to pack in hundreds of adolescents from all over Tacoma. Maybe a good chunk of older folks too: at the drop of the needle my gram started doing the jitterbug, all while smiling widely throughout the first coupla numbers. She wonders out loud when this music from. 1961 I say. “Back in your day?” Yeah! She’s endured louder, naughtier, more primal records (courtesy of my outdoor record player) so comparatively speaking this one is not nearly as rough as the back cover notes suggest. She’s in shock when Andy from Side B calls for people to come to see them at the Medford Armory. Nat that Medford, but hey what a fun time that must have been. The Sonics influence ain’t a joke, though; the crazed spirit of the ’90s and ’00s ‘garage’ groups can be traced to Sonics mania pre- The Witch. A saucy bunch taking things up a dozen notches. Thank the SAX, thank the ORGAN.
Band: Ty Segall
Label: Goner Records
Lemons on this 93 degree sunny breezy day takes me to Costa Mesa, California. I don’t think it gets this hot down there but forget about the weather. Costa Mesa is where Ty recorded this raw rock ‘n ripper in January 2009. Speaking of raw, Lemons is not Ty’s first or second jab at garage punk; he’d been playing in this style and styles that approximate this style since 2005, possibly even before that. His fun ass shakers as part of the Epsilons, Traditional Fools, and Party Fowl can be mined on the Internet and on vinyl and tape. So Lemons is considered Ty’s second solo album. SIDE A, particularly the last three songs “Lovely One,” “Can’t Talk,” and “Cents” are cantgetchaouttamymind top tier, extraordinary, I gotta stop using generic adjectives, HITS. 2009 was the year that ‘Garage’ was being infiltrated by the SCION though let’s be real, it was an amazing time for underground rock ‘n roll. Ty was a part of the crispier, bare, sloppy, loveable punk universe that Goner and In The Red had been nurturing for years, though at that time he was a rather new figure.
Anyhow, Ty – specially considering his solo performance (Lemons is in the full band, Ty on everything mold) – shows his colors as a dude with several sides to him, a harbinger of what would be: mellow (see Goodbye Bread and Sleeper) as on “Rusted Dust,” a midtempo tinkerer as on “Die Tonite,” and as a sludgy screamer on “Johnny,” which is in my ears a precursor to 2012’s Slaughterhouse. The assortment of sounds and approaches on Lemons is different from Ty’s more directed material meaning he probably had more solid ideas for the later albums. Regardless, everything he had done prior to this LP, up to it, and including 2010’s Melted (my sure favorite collection of fuzzy tunes) makes for a daunting discography! Ty is so deserving of the attention he’s received over the past few years and you can see he’s so comfortable playing the shit out of rock n roll. This is reflective of his live shows (also high high up there on funnest experiences). If he doesn’t make ya just want to mess around to your liking on your guitar, you might as well bop your head and move about. I know that can be equally exciting.
Band: The Modern Lovers
Label: BOMP! Records
The Modern Lovers, I tell you, if you didn’t find this one among your dad’s record stacks plus you have no idea what these dudes were even about, I’ll try to explain a little bit. The back cover liner notes by Kim Fowley and Jonathan Richman shed size six font mounds of text, but basically here goes: Fowley comes upon The Modern Lovers, brings them to a studio, and the group finishes these recordings in one day under Fowley utterances like “think Sun Records! Think history!” Says a New York Rocker critic, had these recordings come out in 1972, “it would have changed everything that happened in the ’70s.” Richman – who is aided on here by Jerry Harrison, David Robinson, and Ernie Brooks – is a good deal more unassuming when it comes to The Original Modern Lovers. He notes that this LP was neither truly recorded in the Spring of ’72 as is advertised nor all recorded in a single session. I remember listening to this outside last summer (I believe for the first time… at least in a long while) and my mom commented ‘who is that kid singing? Sounds awful.’ Sheez I said, if this sounds awful how do I sound? She said better. I guess that is partially what moms are for. To me OML is gold. These songs aren’t ’60s garage fratters, they aren’t heavy, certainly not pop-polished. Instead, they stand firmly on their own, some truly rockin’ numbers like the MassFamous ‘Road Runner #1/#2’ with references to Stop and Shop, ‘Astral Plane’ and ‘Girlfren’. Inspiration – Iggy and Lou – that’s the inspiration Richman cites. You’ll hear figments of those guys on here. But beyond that, The Original Modern Lovers is an “i don’t care what anyone thinks, i’m gonna have fun and do what I do in my own way, with my voice and the tons of inflections and manipulations that I can think of” situation. That way of thinking is wilder than a lot of music that sounds wilder, it allows wasteful youths to sucker in rock ‘n roll history without taking abridged shortcuts. A silent trailblazer into some DIY musical landscape that started with punk and runs riot today. I like that people could be fronting all like what is this shit, he doesn’t know how to sing, is this even music. Jonathan Richman is content, somewhere. I’m down with that.
Band: Thee Oh Sees
Label: Castleface Records
This is an islandy (deserted, of course) heck of a record that if you’re down with the style, you’ll be satisfied thru and thru. I am. Minimalism dominates, but there are some fleshed out moments resulting in more of the rock ‘n roll side of the group we’d see on later releases. Brigid and John’s vocals are angelic/psychedelic, matter of fact this might be more like a Jandek in his prime LP if it wasn’t for those two absolutely delighting our ears. The arrangements are pretty sparse with light, eccentric folk guitar and a Beets esque rhthym though Thee Oh Sees do just fine with little or no drums. Like an Island Carnivale wax export from Bermuda, there’s a real personal charm that’s directly connected to nature. The birds are singing along, perhaps fully aware that this group is primitively San Franciscan. Thee Hounds capture an endearing phase of chilled out Oh Sees that your I SAW EM SHRED HARD AT PITCHFORK FEST newbie would probably be surprised and hopefully glad to hear about. Perfect for outdoors vinyl spinning – your neighbors won’t be disturbed, grandma can sneak a nap in, mom will water the plants, and you’ll be there sitting with your shirt off (or on), pen in hand, gentle breeze, and green cup of iced water. Fuck you waited eight months for this moment. BUT this is conversely ideal, winter by the fire, loved ones in full existential quarter life crisis mode. Enjoy the sun while it’s out, you island raiders.