Review: House of the Rising Fuzz – Boston Rock & Roll Comp (2015)


This is Boston’s House of the Rising Fuzz compilation. Who, what, when, where, and why. Well let’s see, read on! It’s a physical artifact, a tangible, audible documentary. It’s a beauty and it’s so mid-2010s, underground garage and punk and noise and dirty pop. A full effort coordinated by the inspiring bands on here and also 456 Records, Primordial Sounds, Theives Grotto, Boston Hassle, and Ben Semeta. It took a while to get here, but honestly is there a better time than now? Just days away (August 6th through 8th) is the Boston Fuzzstival – curated by the one and only Jason Treft’s Illegally Blind – and featuring most of the bands included on this compilation. Both the Fuzzstival and the release of House of the Rising Fuzz are dream come true events not only for the people directly taking part, but those slimers, those fanatics, like us, like You and Me, who can’t get enough of that F word.

From my perspective, I’ve seen all of these bands perform – some maybe just a couple of time, others a dozen or more – and a few (Barbazons, Nice Guys, and Miami Doritos) we are grateful to have released records and tapes for on our own label. We share a similar fondness for rock ‘n roll music that’s nicely being built up through the abovementioned proponents of underground culture here in Boston. There’s no reason why House of the Rising Fuzz can’t be our Casual Victim Pile. For those unfamiliar, that was a compilation of Austin TX rock ‘n roll bands released in 2010 by Boston area native Gerard Cosloy and his Matador Records. Where that album definitely had more innate spotlight given Austin’s reputation for live music and the big independent label distribution, House of the Rising Fuzz is a decentralized group effort that is very indicative of the spirit and community vibes in Boston. It’s one of those situations where the people that are fortunate to live here or tour through here can literally feel this energy, however, the larger, national music media sources don’t cover our bands anywhere near as much as groups from San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Memphis.

I can say for certain that House of the Rising Fuzz captures all the bands at their highest moments. I agree with Ben in his interview with Allston Pudding where he’s like for every band it’s “their best song yet”. In fact, his band Black Beach’s contribution “Kreep” is in the early lead for my favorite thing on this compilation. It is crunchy, punchy, slippery – an exhilarating blender of spacey garage punk tropes and odes. Bless its soul. I could get real nerdy and boring with descriptions and stuff, but the main thing I note is that I can toss this thing on and be like oh yeah That’s New Highway Hymnal. “Isolation” yup – I recognize Hadden’s vocals, Amelia’s bass, and Travis’ drumming style. They groovy. With The Monsieurs
“Shadow,” there’s also no mistaking. Except, they work over there in the blown out bubblegum punk department. There’s a reason why that group is universally revered around these parts. They make ya crazy with their memorable ramble and stampeding swagger.

The bands that I am least familiar with – Midriffs and Dinoczar – do a helluva job saying HI THERE… Midriffs offering “White Washed” is the longest journey at 5 minutes and 37 seconds, but one would be damned to call this a psych slowburner. It’s more comparable to what we know and love from NHH and The Televibes, the ole penchant for intoxicating instrumental freakouts. And speaking of which, the North Shore’s own Televibes “DMT” takes this style to every ticklish cavity of what has been revealed to us as psychedelic rock and roll music. Dinoczar might be the sludgiest and rawest talent on the compilation – their “Cream” unlocks the doors to the Slaughterhouse, if ya catch my drift.

It’d be a shame for me to not mention Miami Doritos and Nice Guys together. Subconscious and literal promotion and testimony to the greatness of their Splifft 7″ aside – they’ve lived together, toured together, and what not. I’ll tell you briefly the sonic difference. Miami Doritos is a guitar and drums duo but they make for a brutally concise, maximalist use of that nice fuzz, that nice noise. It’s intimidating, lovely on “Cut the Rope”. Now as for the “Chips” boys, the four Nice Guys. Their contribution is the previously UNreleased “Chips in the Moonlight” (though, if you’re keeping track – and you should be – they released an EP with this name. If you’ve never heard Nice Guys, you might want to start with this tune and work forwards, backwards, etc. At the heart, these fellas write catchy riffs. Also at the heart, they breakaway from these winner choruses and verses to what amounts to best-in-class dueling guitar breakdowns like in “Chips.”

This leaves us with Barbazons and Creaturos. Both have been around for some time now (Barbazons since 2010, formerly as Fagettes, and Creaturos since 2011) causing a racket but mainly making a name for themselves because they perform lush garage pop. Who am I to say, but if I’m trying to show someone whose only experience with Fuzz is the police what’s up, I might first direct them to Barbazons “Jake” which is surely many bits chaotic, but it is sunny and breezy and shiny. If they respond positively and I know they will, I’ll send them over to Creaturos “Bleeding Like A Stone,” which plays out as a psyched up slap to the best of good times ‘classic’ rock. I believe I’ve always felt this way with Creaturos and it is a compliment owed to their distinct playing.

Listen to these bands, support them at shows, book them. It might sound cheesy and everyone says it about everything, but seriously this is special. It’s super fun and rewarding for those who know and love these bands and the same for those who might be all ‘why should I care about Boston rock & roll in the year 2015’? I hope this reaches far beyond a local scope — it would not be nice for the thousands of appreciators of this kind of music to miss hearing this compilation!

Review: Black Lips – “Underneath The Rainbow”

Release: 3/2014

Black Lips, my friends, the godfathers of this website, the band that started it all for us. And for thousands of others that have partaken in the pleasure of the Black Lips experience over the course of the last fifteen years. That’s no easy feat for any band; though there have been many a stimulating garage/punk band in rock ‘n roll’s history, Black Lips have gone from DIY Atlanta naughty boys to Vice’s most prized musical possession. And this wasn’t over night. They toured the world relentlessly for years, maybe a couple times over, before getting any ‘legitimate’ attention from the press. Once that came, some of their old time fanatics abandoned their former favorite sons on the basis of their new found hip major label, but in came so many more others, who like us, never heard or seen anyone like ’em.  Call that musical naivety, if you will, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere. That brings us to Underneath The Rainbow or not really.

I’ll call this their eighth album – for those unfamiliar with these guys, I’ll recap real quick: ’03, ’04, ’05, one album per year, each one funner than the previous. Then came the ultimate live/studio LP (they fooled us for years, maybe never fooled Jay Reatard, though) Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo. That was ’07. Later that year came their Vice debut, Good Bad Not Evil, an introduction for the masses. Their gunky, excitable style still very much in tact, they popped out 200 Million Thousand in 2009. Two years later they got Mark Ronson to work with them in the studio and eat some raw meat. That was 2011’s Arabia Mountain. We really enjoy that one like the rest before it. Stained and pristine. Black Lips just doing their thing as they’ve always done.

Sure, it’s a little early to be writing about a Black Lips album before it’s released. This ain’t nothin new for nuts like us that make the trip to NY to see these guys every time Boston’s not on the itinerary. For the best live band in the world – there I said it and I’m not alone in my view – a blase record is not gonna stop us from appreciating these dudes. Underneath The Rainbow is quite Black Lips. No one’s going to be confusing the voices of Cole, Jared, Joe, and Ian for anyone else. The instrumentation is trademark BL as well: distorted, fuzzy, dying guitars, big bass sound some of the time, Joe’s drumming. You know. As I listen over and over again to this new batch of songs, I find myself searching for something that the Lips have previously always stuffed deep into my ear drums. Maybe I have always taken for granted the immediacy of Black Lips songwriting. For the first time I feel almost as if a decent number of ’em were crafted while the band was on a creative vacation.

“Waiting” is just like Arabia‘s “The Lie,” with its skeleton guitar lead, “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” is a genericy synthesis of the bells and whistles of Side B of that same album. Then there’s “Do the Vibrate” and “Dog Years,” that revisit some of the band’s rougher/punk inclinations, yet just don’t have that ole rawness that might freak out some arena attendin’ Black Keys fans. The bluesier, southern rock that the Lips have spoken of as inspiration for this record shows through most notably on the fine first taster “Boys in the Wood” and album opener “Drive By Buddy”. Both tunes have really catchy choruses, not sounding rushed or put together in any noticeable way. My jam for this record is “Funny,” the Mr. Driver of 20-14. Cole’s always had a crazy way about him, the way he sings, plays guitar, acts, etc. I’ve met him a few times now, he’s the man…a catalyst that gets the juices flowing in the dullest of spirits. So ya, “Funny” is exactly that – eccentric, a “banger for the club” as Ian might say, with some real real lines, maybe the most accessible song on the album in its irreverence i.e. COME SUCK SOME MILK FROM MY TITTIES.

Where do I go from here? I love Black Lips and you know it, I’m not counting this album out just yet. I’m still longing for a propa “Italian Sexual Frustation” in a post “Hippys” society. But hey it’s only March 3rd and all them Spin / Pitchfork ‘writers’ are gonna miss the mark in some way shape or form. Go see Lips and buy all their records, ya nerds! I don’t know what I’m talking about either, ask me more soon. Or I’ll just tell ya right here on Kids Like You and Me. Bad Kids.

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BL Website: http://black-lips.com/
Stream of Underneath The Rainbowhttp://noisey.vice.com/blog/stream-the-first-black-lips-lp-in-three-years-two-weeks-before-release

It’s Never Too Late: Part 2 – SARALEE [SARALEE]

SARALEE – “Saralee”

LABEL: Ride The Snake Records 

Our town’s own SARALEE released their self titled debut full-length earlier this year by way of Ride The Snake and yup, I am a happy man. SARALEE’s that rare band that I fondly remember seeing then obsessively continuously listen to ’til the present. That was two and a half years ago roughly. Sounds a little intense I know – but you go ahead; open up seven song Demo. Positively I can say, this record Saralee is more of the same as that: intimate, nostalgic, rock and roll. Leave the labels on your desk, the duo go hard, go soft, go at a pace that works so very well for them. They haunt the rest of us. As I hear this record through my speakers, the drum set in my room is vibrating. There’s no obvious drumming on “Bugs In My Coffee,” but I picture Lee’s set making similar noise. Sara and Lee complement each other so well that their minimalist aesthetic is a continuous stream of ‘gettin it right’, just really how they like. It reminds me of my very first basement show which wasn’t that long ago. A perceptive experience that you want to perpetually familiarize yourself with. That’s Saralee and with them I can’t quite find any points of musical reference. Pop music for the non-masses, it’s too real stuff for most people to handle. I feel this way about The Beets as well. Count every song as a favorite of mine though special props to “Jackalantern House” as one that’s sorta planted on the back end of Side B, but has that trademark saralee ending that ya, I can never properly write about. Check out the organ part that concludes “Lead The Fire” for enchantment. Also this is the most neatly packaged record that I bought this year with silk screen cover and insert. Very nice.

SIDE A
1 Lead the fire
2 The Motion
3 White pipes
4 Sidewalks
5 Silence

Side B
6 Children of the night
7 Hesitation
8 Cold Feet
9 Jackalantern House
10 Bugs in my coffee
11 On a train

klyamrecommended

It’s Never Too Late: Part 1 – SECRET SONGS [NOBUNNY]

So it’s the end of the year and I realize, damn I never got a chance to write about some things that are truly the shit – highly deserving of some KLYAMing. That’s where I am right now – screw professional journalism with its timeliness. It’s nice to sit or bop around with stuff for a bit and truly enjoy. It’s too easy to be all key pounding XXXXXXXXXXXXXX after a day of listening. So you’ll be seeing some posts like these – replacing year end lists, for me anyway.
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NOBUNNY – “Secrets Songs” – LP

LABEL: Goner Records

If y’all haven’t noticed over the past four years, we’ve got that perpetual NOBUNNY fever. And we’re hoping it’s contagious! For far longer than our fervor, Nobunny’s graced the world of music with his gold glove of rock ‘n roll – performance and sound recording. Cassettes, CDRs, vinyl singles, full length’s, he’s done it all. Love Visions (2008) is the release that set the underground punk/garage world afire, a powerful enough LP that makes the squarest of triangles rip out a mic, karaoke, and create demented sounds all whilst making Double Bubble salesmen lose their hat. In other words, buy that LP if you haven’t. And then there’s Raw Romance (2009) a grab bag of largely tenderly menacing acoustic recordings from bunnyman who can, yes, do it all. And I fondly remember jotting stuff down about First Blood, almost analyzing it. To be a kid again. Shoulda just wrote ‘FUNNER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE’ – ’cause a good 40 months later I’m motorheading and blowing dumb like it was new. All the wonderful records have this timeless quality, yup here I say it: Secret Songs is a sweet package deal like its predecessors.

I don’t know why deconstructing Nobunny is a joyous celebration for a guy like me – it is a mystery that I compare to a journey, destination unknown. Secret Songs was recorded by several individuals in various locations spread throughout the land (props to these familiar folks) – all tunes written and performed by the lone Bun man. That alone is more than impressive, but his references sweep in and out of early rock ‘n roll, speedy PUNK, bubblegum garage, you name it. Yet as I say time and time again, there’s nobody like NOBUNNY – that discernible figure screams, whistles, adds a lil Australian vocally, covers The Kids of Widney High. I could go on and on about lil parts here and there in each tune or that fine insert – lyrics, most in pen on ole white lined, these kinda personal touches that make Secret Songs what it is. If ya got a mind and soul congenial for sounds that are everyday, no day, warm, rotten. I’m not much a dude for same ole same ole musically, modern rock ‘n roll’s DIY master Nobunny ain’t about that either. Tell a friend, this is for REAL!

A1. Bye Bye Roxie – Yes!!!!!!
A2. True Vulture – Yes!!!!!
A3. Pretty Girls – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A4. Trouble In Mind – YES!!!!!
A5. It’s Pathetic – YES!!!!!!!!!!
A6. Lizard Liars – YES!!!!!!!!!!
A7. Rotten Sweet Tooth – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
B1. Do The Stooge – YES!!!!!!!!!!
B2. My Blank Space – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!
B3. Little Bo Bitch – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
B4. Red Light Love – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
B5. The Birthday Girl – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
B6. Buried In A Bong – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
B7. Lovin Lovin You – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

klyamrecommended

Local Music Review: Ben Tan – “Inside Out”

Band: Ben Tan
Release: July 2013
Link To Listen: http://bentan.bandcamp.com/album/inside-out

1. “Come Out”
2. “Marielle”
3. Inside Out”
4. “Upper Lower Middle Class Blues”
5. “Dance The Night Away”
6. “I Will Follow You”
7. “Singulair”
8. “Half A World Away”

Comments: The road to Ben Tan’s debut release Inside Out is a fascinating road. One could argue that the multi-instrumentalist and acclaimed former Emerson College radio host was born a musical virtuoso. I’m not quite sure anyone expected this kind of output from him, though. He had long been a piano man before picking up the guitar and all other such instruments. That he somehow wound up playing keys in a psychedelic rock ‘n roll band (Moontowers) is still a tidbit mind-blowing. At any rate, Tan has played in bands since before his voice cracked. That’s all well and good, but I felt there was always so much unrealized potential. “When’s the Ben Tan solo album coming?” Some years later, here we are. While I’d never expect the dude to include Magic Kids, High Places, and The Lost Sounds on a list of ‘influences’, Ben Tan’s home recordings (with the help of more than a handful of conspirators) are odd enough that it wouldn’t be totally random to think the dude is more informed by the past two decades of underground rock ‘n roll than the real legends Tan adores. ANYWAY.

Inside Out starts out with “Come Out,” which immediately strikes me as one of the finest songs I’ve heard this year. It is totally POP. Multi-track vocals, check. Brian Wilson, check. This song and the next one “Marielle,” are light numbers, playful and straying from complication. The kind of stuff that the Malt Shop Memories minded youth of today (where are you people?) long desire. Tan goes into softer rock mode for “Inside Out,” with unbelievably strong background vocals.  Witty lyrics (sup, Bob Dylan) reign on “Upper Lower Middle Class Blues,” some coming out of the mouth of the man himself, others via vocalist Holly Dalton. This one (along with the haunting, thousand word per minute, no-fi “Singulair”) is one of the oldest songs in Tan’s repertoire. Not my favorite stuff on here when stacked next to stuff like the retro-fitted “Dance the Night Away”; piano bar musicians ought to fear for their jobs with this original nugget. Girl groups of the past ought to blush. Okay so if I venture into superlatives, the “most psychedelic” song award goes to “I Will Follow You,” a sublime experience that doesn’t overstay its heady, nearly six minute existence. On the grand finale, “Half A World Away,” we get to hear Tan hit some crazy notes. Genuine Beach Boys worship.

Inside Out hits the spot as far as rock ‘n roll with bursting pop sensibility go. Originality isn’t so much the star on this one as it is Tan’s ability to work in and around walls of sound that long have had lasting power. Stuff like this ought to be more widely appreciated.

klyamrecommended

Review: Ravi Shavi – “Ravi Shavi”

Band: Ravi Shavi
Release: 2013

1. Indecisions
2. Bloody Opus
3. Hobbies
4. Accidental
5. Local News
6. Amphetamine
7. Old Man
8. Problems
9. Critters
10. Vacation Holiday

Comments: The first time I saw Ravi Shavi (Firehouse 13, November 10, 2012) , I was blown away by the Providence band’s energy and pop sensibility. It wasn’t really ‘garage,’ not quite ‘punk’ or traditional ‘power-pop’; just poppy rock ‘n roll. Well after seeing them a couple of times more, I was thoroughly convinced of their talent. Rafay Rashid, the group’s main vocalist and guitarist, is like a King Khan kind of figure, very infectious and engaging. His vocal assault varies as much as Ravi Shavi’s rock ‘n roll stylings. Some times like on “Bloody Opus” and “Hobbies,” there is some Brit in him…at least it seems. “Hobbies” particularly shimmers with some oldies charm until transitioning into an unexpected Lovely Feathers sorta charge. That’s one of my favorite specific moments of the album definitely, but there’s that kind of fun running all throughout. When there’s the familiar repetition of verses and choruses as on “Accidental,” the listen never ends up tiring or monotonous even as there are more sticky transitions and repetitions. Getting back to vocals again – “Local News” is a tidy example of a long list of dynamics. After the what you’d expect from a song called AMPHETAMINE, the crash sets in and no no I don’t mean a bad crash or anything. Just a slower, Hamilton Leithauser just stole your mic and Matt Barrick conveniently got behind the kit, deal. That sorta early ’00s NYC reverby guitars and (all time period) hollering continues on through “Problems,” and “Critters” has some instrumentation/technique not previously as apparent…until now. Closing tune “Vacation Holiday” is pure pop dynamite. This one takes its time and sends me off reminiscing of everything Ravi Shavi did right in the making of this record. Good work.

klyamrecommended

Review: Durt Dog The Band – “Weight”

Artist: Durt Dog The Band
Release: 2012

Comments: Durt Dog The Band makes a home in Lowell, a fine city in the Merrimack Valley (in north/eastern Massachusetts) that has living in it various talented young and veteran musicians and artisans. I’ve had the opportunity to make it out to a few shows in Lowell; KLYAM’s other half, Chris, has essentially called the City home for the past four years, all while soaking in several, all memorable Lowell based musical performances at a variety of locales. And while there isn’t a “Lowell sound” that audibly unites its performers, there is definitely a sizable body of individuals who enjoy the shared experience of eccentric, varied, and underground (often literally) entertainment.

Durt Dog The Band on Weight epitomizes a nostalgia that to me is specific to Lowell. A soundtrack to a place that is mysterious, but oddly familiar. That is the feeling I get on Durt Dog’s acoustic compositions. The strumming, the melodies, and the apparent minimalism on Weight are not very far away from the eclectic musings of accomplished acoustic guitar lovers like Christopher Owens or similarly light Walkmen and Tapes ‘n Tapes offerings a la mid-2000s. But let us not get weighed down on such big name comparisons… Durt Dog The Band finds a way to tinker with quite a few styles, production values, and song structures. Weight, nevertheless, sounds delightfully consistent from the beginning. “Things I Do Care About” never strays from its poppy beginning melody, only building upon it with increasingly pleasant additions such as drums, a layered guitar lead/solo, and some choice vocals/ear panning (starting as the line “Adjust what my voice sounded like” is sung). This is playful material. The instrumental tracks on here, while perhaps not as immediately intriguing as the other songs, are delicate pieces, fragile as blown glass art and just as colorful, and not unnecessarily intricate.

Such a knack for relaxed and friendly sounds carry on the next two tracks. “Ashes” affects itself as equally stream-of-conscious as personal and random. It ends (to my surprise) with the second verse repeated, its dream inducing imagery, and its second-to-last-word stresses. This would be my favorite track on the album, if it wasn’t for “Rat Traps”. This prolific, triumphant tune is comprised of a ton of layers – vocals and guitars making up most of them, but there’s also some percussion, and let me not forget – Weight’s most prominent display of hefty bass work. AND those last two lines, sung in unison. The album’s chin rubbing realization: “There’s nothin’ that pirates can’t do /You will never kill piracy and piracy will never kill you.” Rat traps, I see. I hear. Weight is peculiar and psychedelic, alert, not spry. Not once boring. It’s the most interesting album I’ve heard of its kind.

You can listen to Weight on Bandcamp: [LINK]

klyamrecommended