Classic Album Review: “Chandrasekar Limit” – Kazalok [2006]



Band: 
Kazalok
Label: Shake Your Ass Records
Year: 2006

Comments: What was going on in the Memphis, Tennessee area in 2006? Aside from lots of ‘cuin (nah, I’ve never been there), ‘ckin, and whatever else, a group of dudes in their early 20s were making some odd rock ‘n roll. And most likely doing the same kinds of social activities that their peers had long engaged in. Memphis legend (in the eyes of the music types that matter) Jay Reatard was probably touring his ass off and likewise making a great deal of music. Now whether or not Tard and the dudes in Kazalok – Cole Weintraub, Bennett Foster, Billy Hayes, and Alex Gates – were bros at this point is unknown to me, but by the sound of Chandrasekar Limit, it seems not. Opening tune “Eolian Process”  is a bit like Animal Collective, a campfire kind of song. “Cia”, however, is a complete rocker, almost calling to mind bands like Interpol and Tapes ‘n Tapes – heavy, but accessible (in the ‘indie’ sense of the word). On the last song of the A Side, “Caspian Sea,” we hear “the Caspian Sea ain’t what it used to be, in fact I think I’ll stay at home” – this is the cheeky early rock ‘n roll ballad that later associated bands like Girls of the Gravitron, even more so Barbaras, and Magic Kids a touch would take a gamble (and very much succeed) on creating. Is that the auto-harp I hear?  It’s bizarre music, but not really for dudes like me who are fond of it.

The happy-go-lucky yet sinister thing continues on “White Devils” in its chirpy guitar lead, and ultra smooth rhythm. Sounds like the guys are having a bunch of fun jamming around and enthusiastically adding their $.02 to a demented vision of pop music. I like the vision. “Summertime Worksong” might be the least off-kilter of the bunch. I’m really feeling The Loon vibes on there. The quintessential Memphis finale as I call it is “Ping Pong With The Stars”  which is not easy “’cause it’s light years away” is like Barbaras closer “Annual Botanical” – led by acoustic guitar strums; a final story that documents friendly ole times… that one summer. This kind of – everyone join in – joy, isn’t something you get very often. The Lovely Feathers did it right on Hind Hind Legs. It’s a loss to music that this isn’t some kind of widespread, noteworthy EP. Of course, I love it more because I’ve been following this family tree for some time now. If you haven’t really been tracking these guys closely or if you don’t even know what I am talking about, I wouldn’t really start with Chandrasekar and work your way up. Especially not if you are expecting a clean, straightforward sound throughout. In that case, I’m not sure. The production on this is decidedly scrappy – a better audio experience than Let It Bloom and Smith Westerns and laughable compared to say Blood Visions. Stephen Pope (formerly of  Boston Chinks, Barbaras, Jay Reatard, currently in Wavves) recorded it. He did very well. This EP is also outside the realm of a lot of the garage stuff, which might be why some have overlooked it. Whatever though — this is something that might be hard to get your hands on (check Florida’s Dying), but go on, get a hold of Kazalok somehow. You can write your own review.

klyamrecommended

Classic Album Review: “Magnetic Mountain”


Band:
Girls of the Gravitron
Release: 2010
Label: Miss Lonelyhearts Records

Comments: Once in a great while – and it sure is great – I come across a very inspirational group of music creators. Girls of the Gravitron are one of them. I got into this album on a whim, because why wouldn’t I want to explore a Memphis project that features members of the Barbaras and Magic Kids? Magnetic Mountain is not a highly polished offering; in fact, its homey and tinny sound accounts for a lot of what makes this click for me. The one song that I literally couldn’t stop listening to from the time that I heard it first is “Her Flower Opens Like Slow Moving Trail of Atom Bomb”. It makes me want to pick up a guitar and learn how to rip off Girls of the Gravitron. If only I could. It has the cheeriness of a lot of what folks might call underground pop – lots of jangle and some killer keyboard (especially at the end…thanks Will McElroy!). Cole Weintraub sings sort of like Jeffrey Novak and Calvin Johnson with a cool blend of Adam Green’s off-the-cuff delivery (listen to “Weird World” for justification of this claim) . Basically, if you love those dudes and a wide range of music styles – punk, folk, garage – you should have no problem loving this. There are 19 tunes on this one…this review would probably read more like a tiny research paper if I went into intricate detail about everything. At any rate, Magnetic Mountain is something you ought to listen to yourself rather than reading me describe what it is like to listen to. The other thing that is especially noteworthy is that these are dudes who know what they are doing. This record is almost a continuation or a confirmation of their legacies in those other bands which I’d argue puts a cherry on top of a ‘Memphis sound’ that they cultishly created. I will list some other weirdo gems that are approximately outstanding (this is tough!): “Principes of Kimberly,” “Magnetic Mountain,” “Violent Appetites,” “Come Alone,” and the finisher “1000 Yrs”. This will be your new favorite musical discovery!