Tag Archives: reviews

Angry Angles S/T – Goner Records (2016)


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.

Just Wrote About: HIEROPHANTS – “Parallax Error” (GONER/AARGHT)

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.

Tape Memo: Jane La Onde – “Elegance”

Artist: Jane La Onde
Release: 2014 (Re-release on Feeding Tube Records, soon)

Comments: Jane La Onde’s tape here, Elegance, is a combo meditative/exercise tape, translating across the excesses of time to this sweet handheld stereo cassette player that I now own. I’ve listened to this in a few different locations – outside and inside – for extra measure in convincing myself that this is really happening. I do not know much about workout style jams, but I can tell you this collection is fairly nontraditional. Elegance is exceptional in its solo-y spirit, I can envision these songs being the sole work of Jane, whose button pushing I can sometimes hear. She triggers drum machines, keyboards, and a host of effects but it is her vocals that stand out the most. Mesmerizing, repetitive. Kinda like a Colleen Green and Tobacco fusion for really brief spans – other than that I am at a loss of words for comparison…something like ‘Miss Information’ is futuristic (if this is the ’90s), spacey, and duh catchy, but really unlike anything I’ve heard nowadays in the psychedelic pop spectrum. This is the quintessential punk jogging record of our time and I hope there’s more!!

A1. Boy Trouble
A2. TV Do Tell
A3. Glow Girls
A4. I See You

B1. Memorize
B2. Livin’ In America
B3. Miss Information


Review: King Khan & The Shrines – “Idle No More” [2013]

Band: King Khan & The Shrines
Label: Merge Records
Date: September 2013

1. Born to Die
2. Bite My Tongue
3. Thorn in Her Pride
4. Luckiest Man
5. Better Luck Next Time
6. Darkness
7. Pray for Lil
8. Bad Boy
9. So Wild
10. Yes I Can’t
11. I Got Made
12. Of Madness I Dream

Comments: I just saw a thing, announcing this as a comeback album for the sensational, one of my favorite bands for some time now, King Khan and the Shrines. That’s kind of true, I thought. Their last release – The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines – was my personal introduction to the band. It came out in 2008. But in the time between (5 years), I’ve had the great chance of seeing the Shrines three times, in ’09, ’10, and ’12. So they’ve always been around, putting on some of the finest shows a band can. The presence of King Khan as soon as he hits the stage is always met with crazy levels of reception. It is usually after the 8 member Shrines warm us up with their horny glory when Khan joins in on the madness. While Idle No More might be considered as taking it down a few notches, it is a still a bastion of psychedelic soul, R&B, and fuzzy rock ‘n roll that I haven’t found to be matched in the modern era. The older Shrines releases have some more grease to them, maybe a touch more slime, and easy flowing blunt force, but this is something of an instrumental masterpiece.

Maybe as I’ve gotten myself familiar with King Khan’s music over the years, I’ve begun to appreciate the finer aspects songwriting and recorded performance present in such an outwardly fun style of music. But yeah, what I’m trying to say, is that Idle No More has more layers and dynamics to it than the average r’n’r album, that it’s hard not to appreciate just the fact that something like this was pulled off with great success. There’s definitely some unexpected moments – like on songs like “Pray For Lil” and “Bad Boy” that feature vocals from Jena Roker who sang on “Unicorn Rainbow Odyssey” on Mark Sultan’s Sultanic Verses. That last bit of info I had to look up, but I remember a female singer from that song that was really a cool way to end an album. But yeah these songs are ultra-soul, but keenly poppy while maintaining the innate rawness of the Shrines. This is stuff that’ll most likely win over your friends that are afraid of getting into real good music. The first four songs on the album – “Thorn in Her Pride” and “Luckiest Man” are tops for me at this point – these are the ones that’ll get the people moving the most at the shows. They all sound faintly similar as far as being driven to climax by outrageously crisp horns and choruses that will struggle to leave your memory. “So Wild” is a tribute to Khan’s dear friend/one of this site’s most advocated artists Jay Reatard. The production of it recalls Jay behind the mixing boards – it sounds sorta somber at the start, but truly explodes during the chorus.

Some bands might get a little flak for songs sounding like each other, but the Shrines manipulate the formula often enough that distinct styles often shine through like the garage jangle on “Yes I Can’t” (a standout on the album for sure, a powerhouse of a song) and hand-clap galore, early Shrines throwback “I Got Made”. People who really dug The Supreme Genius oughta definitely appreciate that one, particularly. The one tune that makes it mark as a departure from the upbeat pulse of the record is the minimal “Darkness,” which is haunting and stands as a mini-closer. The real finishing touch is “Of Madness I Dream”. It sways slowly, builds progressively, and reaches a fuzzy tipping point, collapsing solos reign before Khan’s vocals re-enter to deliver the final lines.

Idle No More doesn’t quite have the sultry passion that dominates the Shrines earlier work, but for seemingly deeper songs, these still rock ‘n roll… time and time again. The stuff is held together well, a little grit has been traded in for sonic soundness and more often than not, this works great. One of the more interesting bands of our time with a just as interesting front man, King Khan and the Shrines have once again delivered to us modern rock and soul as rousing as it comes.


Review: Bellwire – “summEP”

Bellwire – you might not know them now, but you might soon. They’re from New Hampshire, but will be calling Allston home in a little while. They’ve put on their [Bandcamp] a three song EP called summEP. So I checked it out and I like what they’re doing. Remember Afroman? Me neither, but to me Bellwire’s EP is like him producing that no longer existent Vice surf band, Japanese Motors. A cheesy combination on paper and one I’m still not entirely comfortable publishing, but let me get to the bottom of things. “The Bell Hop” is quirky rock ‘n roll – a style that I’ll keep praising as long as the practitioners keep things fresh. There’s borrowing and twisting of surf, Pavement, and punk. The other two songs, “Leaky Seams” and “Sunsick on Fisher Street,” venture into powerpoppy regions of sound yet maintain keen levels of freakishness in the vocals in the former and the latter is a modern update of “I Want Candy” (Strangeloves, not Bow Wow; I know I name dropped Afroman).  I’m curious about this band now. They seem like they’re having a good time.



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]


Review: Kitchen’s Floor – Look Forward To Nothing

Label: Siltbreeze

1. “No Love” – A-
2. “Graves” – B
3. “116” – A-
4. “Regrets” – B+
5. “Needs” – B-
6. “Every Day” – B
7. “Kidney Infection” – B
8. “Insects” – B
9. “Orbit” – B-
10. “Twenty-Four” – B+

Comments: The aesthetic of Look Forward To Nothing is totally particular to Kitchen’s Floor. The vocals are stand-out in as though Matt Kennedy’s style is clumsy Aussie shouting, like if you’d handed the mic to the dude after a few pints and asked him to start babbling some lyrics you wrote. It’s this kind of charm on top of fairly un-involved instruments that is Kitchen’s Floor in a nutshell. On a song like “Kidney Infection,” which is just Kennedy, there’s not much in the department of overwhelming accomplishment, but it justly sums up the mysteriously odd nature of this album and the band. For a geographic comparison of sorts, it’s like an incredibly slowed down/fuzzy Toy Love. So yeah, probably not much like Toy Love at all.

Grade: B (85)

Ripping Deusner

Regarding Stephen Deusner’s review of Mark Sultan’s $:

Nice scarf, btw.

He’s been fashioning harsh psych, rangey country, dreamy doo-wop, 50s juvie punk, and anarchic noise into strange, catchy, jubilant, occasionally jokey pop songs.“—> Good job of throwing in adjectives before every genre. Make no mistake about that. Your description really provides us an adequate look at Mark Sultan’s discography. Not.

Sultan also resumed his role as BBQ Show for another album (and a coloring book!) with friend and longtime cohort King Khan.” –> You had me, Stephen. You really did. From your meaty words to start, I thought you may have actually listened to Sultan before. But “BBQ Show”? You can’t make a rookie mistake like that. Not at this stage in your professional career.

Whatever banner he’s flying, however, the sound remains the same, and his latest effort– which isn’t titled so much as branded with a dollar sign– snaps and crackles with a familiar, flailing energy, as if any of these songs might fall apart at any moment.” –> The sound remains the same? This offering from Sultan is more musically diverse than most of what he’s put out in the past. You want the songs to fall apart. You are rooting against Sultan to start with. You want them to fall apart so you can listen to more Broken Social Scene.

“Ten of Hearts” may be one of his best doo-wop retreads, cutting through a lot of the revivalism to express something sincere and bittersweet, but there’s no reason for it to be five minutes long.” –> Why is there no reason for it to five minutes long? You make no attempt to explain why. And it’s not until the end of your review that you actually mention songs off of this record. Thanks for pointing out only what’s wrong with the album.