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.
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.
Band: The Growlers Release: 10/2010 Label: Everloving
1. “Graveyard’s Full” – A- 2. “Nosebleed Sun” – B 3. “What It Is” – A-
4. “The Moaning Man From Shanty Town” – B 5. “Sea Lions Goth Blues” – A+ 6. “Badlands” – B 7. “Let It Be Known” – B 8. “Camino Muerto” – B+ 9. “Underneath Our Palms” – A 10. “Hula Hula Hideout” – B
Comments: The Growlers are pretty distinctly So. Cal, which is a pretty daunting statement to make in an age where there is striking diversity among bands from that area. What I meant to say is they aren’t too far away from Mexico and listening to their music confirms this. Opener “Graveyard’s Full” features lead and bass guitar riffs that border on traditional Mexican/Caribbean. Singer Brook Nielson’s vocal style — part raspy/part laid-back eerie — fits genuinely on tunes like this. Short ditties like “Nosebleed Sun” add to the mystique of the band. What the hell are they singing about, anyway? I haven’t been able to discern such, but such does not matter much. Rhyming, for the win. Anyway, “Sea Lion Goth Blues” is this release’s best song and it’s not like its new or anything. Far from it. Other versions of “Sea Lion” have featured a more prominent lead guitar — one of the best of its kind that I’ve heard in the last year or so. The surf notes are compelling. Still, the added echo and reverb on Brooks’ vocals and the respective instruments are refreshing. My second favorite song on here is probably the second-to-last ditty entitled “Underneath Our Palms.” It’s plainly neat.
1. “Thee Oh So Protective One” – A
2. “Heartbreaker” – A
3. “Broken Dreams Club” – A+ 4. “Alright” – A- 5. “Substance” – A 6. “Carolina” – B
Comments: “Thee Oh So Protective One” is Girls first major composition. There are an array of horns, shakers, and other instrumentation that Girls have not historically taken a crack at. Another thing is the outwardly Latin American feel. “Heartbreaker” continues in the same spirit, though with far less instrumental explosiveness. I must say the lead and rhythm guitars on “Heartbreaker” are up there with the best of what we heard on Album. Typical Owens lyricism from the get-go, but most especially apparent on the slower “Broken Dreams Club.” It’s not just that Owens is lonely. It’s more macrocosmic than that. The world “keeps going nowhere” with wars, poverty, and broken dreams abound. “Substance” reminds me of the scene in Nice Dreams where the dude asks the other dude for the “key” to get him out of the nut house. Timothy Leary puts the “key to the universe” — LSD — in the dudes’ mouths and they go for a “simple ride.” “Carolina” doesn’t really pick up until the song is six minutes deep. Even then, it hardly picks up. Don’t worry though — the first four tracks are pretty spectacular. This is a really good record.
Comments: The rock and roll aspect of this album (minus the bullshit) is very pleasing and competes with the likes of honorary KLYAMers like No Age and maybe even Thee Oh Sees. The bullshit is bullshit and brings the album down; I’m looking at you tracks number 5 and 7! There’s some excitement to be enjoyed here. So enjoy it.