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

My Top 5 LPs Released In 2012


1. The Barbaras – 2006-2008 – The Barbaras exist in my music collection as a very revered band. I had been playing their fuzzy, sunshiny 7″ since October 2010. They were gone, of course, by then, off doing things like being in Magic Kids and Wavves. Then the news of this came along. About two years later I was able to hear some clearer renditions of tracks from that 7″ and even better…twelve new songs. The new ones (and the old ones) simply put are some of my favorite tracks ever. I can’t really even delve into specific favorites, because they all such hard hitters. Some are kind of wimpy (“Bluebirds”, “Only One”), while others (“Devour the Jungle Deer,” “Grief Touches Everyone”) are barn-burners from 0:00 ’til the last note. The Barbaras nailed the ‘pop’ part of garage pop in a way that is truly unlike any of the bands the Barbaras would eventually join. These are songs you listen to daily, that capture your attention from the very second they begin. There was something real special about this group from Memphis. They paid as much of a debt to their contemporaries like producer Jay Reatard while maintaining a keen appreciation for both the obscure and popular golden melodies of the ’50s and ’60s. I haven’t heard a modern band perfectly nail that down like the Barbaras. This is a record that I doubt will reach #1 status beyond us… the fanatics that run this website. That’s a shame, though, because a complete and thoughtful listen (yes, just one) makes a grand impact.


2. Ty Segall/White Fence – Hair – This is another record that I’m as excited to talk about now as I was when I first heard it many months ago. I think those early listening sessions included a good amount of bewilderment. Ty Segall and White Fence. One record. Two fantastic garage/psych songwriters coming together. I didn’t know much about White Fence back then and frankly I still do not really. Tim Presley can jam. Hair isn’t really a traditional “record” because – yes – it is brief (8 songs) and the songs range from extremely well done jams (“I Am Not A Game”, “Scissor People”) to the more straightforward (“Easy Ryder,” “Crybaby”)…thanks Ty! I remember hearing “Scissor People” maybe the second or third time and really starting to “get” it. The riffs. The shuffling of sounds. Damn, I thought. Rumors have it that there will be more from the Ty Segall/White Fence collaboration. That’s awesome, because they got it right the first time.


3. Black Lips Live @ Third Man – Black Lips do many things well. Their entire discography is filled to the brim with killer track after killer track, killer album after killer album, killer single after killer single. Yeah, they are the best band. Them doing a follow-up live record after the outrageously special Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo might only seem natural given their talent in front of crowds. Of course, this is a fantastic record. This one was without question recorded at Third Man (ya, you know what I’m talking about) and the dudes have the stage banter to prove it. They mix the real old with the real new and throw in some material from in between. While this doesn’t flow as nicely as Los, it sure as hell proves why Black Lips have had IT for more than a decade. Keep it simple stupid and let the rock and roll do the talking. Listening to  “Fad” and “Modern Art” in the same set is something that  I had long wanted (and luckily got to experience), but now with this LP – that can happen any time. Good stuff. Thanks Black Lips.


4. Ty Segall – Twins – Surprise, surprise! Twins is crazy good. Ty’s been on a tear since Melted, at least in the sense that people from semi-mainstream media outlets are in on the awesomeness as much as we little dudes have been in for a much longer time. But a great songwriter is a great songwriter and Ty’s been there for some time now. This one sounds better than all of ’em. While Melted absolutely shredded and was extremely catchy at the same time, this one furthers Segall’s sonic exploration and crunches everything together oh so nicely. Up until now, we never really got the “You’re The Doctor” side of Ty, at least not this great. The straight fuzz package in “Ghost” is like what “Melted” accomplishes but without the wait. Pure immediacy. For long time listeners, Twins satisfies, and for newcomers, it surely must have you wondering you’ve been missing out on. It’s all right.


5. Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse – I know, I’m obsessed with this dude’s music. With a musician like Ty, you can go from listening to Lemons to Slaughterhouse and just nod in appreciation at how much more he has added to his arsenal. He had been doing the straight up old time rock and roll thing for a while, but with each release leading up to this, it seems as though he kept adding more and more weapons. For Slaughterhouse, Ty and band blasted full into heavier territory, leaving behind the two minute song for lengthy fuzzed out solos and pounding rhythms. The result is a wild success. While the Hair collaboration was a short and sweet affair through-and-through, Slaughterhouse is likewise full o’ goodies, but it beats out that album by containing Ty’s best song yet, “Wave Goodbye.” If the chorus doesn’t do it for you (why wouldn’t it?), there’s the “oooh-ooooh-oooh” part and duh…that solo. There aren’t any duds on this one and if the faster and more sinister stuff is more up your alley, I could easily understand why you’d rank this higher.

Honorable Mention


The Hussy – Weed Seizure – The Hussy have been impressing me with their studio output for a good while now and you guessed it – Weed Seizure is the pinnacle of their greatness so far. What the Hussy does so well is very much like what the bands above do so well: present you with a real strong melody and never have you looking back. The Hussy take their love of the beloved Jay Reatard and Segall, but cut out the loose ends and recorded some mighty quick numbers that definitely stack right up to the aforementioned. The whole album is unforgettable and sticky: the interestingly titled back-to-back  tunes “FUDje” and “SFB” are highlights, right up there with opener “Undefined” and the primal “Dog Said Yeah”. The Hussy have been on a roll, touring relentlessly and releasing a whole lot of quality material…the prospects are looking great for ’em and all the best. They are a lesser known band that you oughta know…now!

LP Review: Barbaras 2006-2008

Artist: The Barbaras
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Label: Goner
Track List:
1) Day At the Shrine
2) Heaven Hangs
3) Grief Touches Everyone
4) Topsy Turvy Magic
5) Superball
6) Only One
7) Breathing Underwater
8) Devour the Jungle Deer
9) Grey Eggs
10) Flow
11) Why Should I Love You?
12) Bluebirds
13) How Many Times
14) Summertime Road
15) Annual Botanical

Comments: Two years ago my ears had the pleasure of hearing both The Barbaras and The Magic Kids for the first time. The latter gained national attention/critical acclaim with the release of their debut LP Memphis, but sadly few have ever heard of the former. Which is a shame because the Magic Kids are basically the product of the Barbaras, at least that’s one way to look at it. In the time since then, I have often YouTube’d Barbaras songs and viddied thee old live clip or two. I fell in love with these songs, the few of them that were available, but I wanted more. Now in 2012, the Barbaras album I and so many other weirdo Memphis pop creeps have been anticipating has finally arrived. I honestly never thought I would see the day.

Okay, let’s get to the record itself. It’s beefed up that’s for sure. In my mind, I envision members Billy Hayes, Stephen Pope, Will McElroy, Bennett Foster, and Alex Gates hopping on stage with tremendous, roid induced muscles- like pro wrestlers.  That’s what this LP is- Barbaras beefed up. Anything you’ve heard before, it’s bigger – with the help of  producers Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout, I must add. And you can definitely see where Jay’s production style plays a role in this record.  Songs like “Day At The Shrine,” “Grief Touches Everyone,”  and “Devour the Jungle Deer” possess that fast paced, hard hitting drum quality. It’s honestly like hearing another Jay record at some moments. Oh and I should mention, for you sad folks that are unaware, Billy is the former drummer for Jay Reatard’s live backing band and former drummer for Wavves; Stephen is the former bassist for Jay live and current bassist for Wavves. These aren’t mere accomplishments for the resume, oh no, they are all intertwined.

On this record, you can hear the similarities in all three bands. In particular, in the eccentric songwriting of Billy Hayes. Tracks like “Grey Eggs” and “Why Should I Love You?” are reminiscent (for me as a listener) of Billy’s main songwriting contributions on Wavves’ King of the Beach (2010) – “Convertible Balloon” and “Baby Say Goodbye.” Billy creates his own world with these songs,  and I’m constantly reminded of old school Nintendo video games,  just lying around with a Nintendo in my room. In general, Billy’s vocals play a big role here, but he is certainly not the only one. Pretty much all the guys lay down some nasty vocals, and the singing is probably the highlight for me. This is where I best hear the Beach Boys/Phil Spector references everyone makes. Of course, you really can’t not listen to this and not walk away with those feelings. Specifically, some of my favorite moments are when the band unabashedly mimics a 60’s favorite. The very Beach Boys esque  “buh bub bub buh” in “Topsy Turvy Magic,” the girl group stylings of “Breathing Underwater,” the doo woppy vocals in “How Many Times,” or the epic, insanely layered, psychedelic Beatles 1967 ode “Annual Botanical” that closes the album.

So yeah, Barbaras are obviously heavily influenced by the music of the 60s, but they take this music and subvert it with their own bizarre, demented personalities, which is a key factor in why this band outshines most of their contemporaries. They are derivative, yet they carve out their own distinct character and in that way no one can say they sound like anyone else, past or present.

Listen To Another Track Off Barbaras New LP: “Day at the Shrine”

The modern classic “Day at the Shrine,” originally recorded and released on The Barbaras 7″ which came via Goner in 2008. The 7″ version is very quiet and lo-fidelity, but features the same kind of awesome pop magic that this Jay Reatard produced version has. This version is better!

Check it out via MTV Hivehttp://www.mtvhive.com/2012/10/18/barbaras-day-at-the-shrine-stream/

That Barbaras Record Might Be Coming Out This Year

As Stephen Pope tells New Zealand’s The Corner [LINK]:

Are you planning on releasing the Barbara’s album this year?

We’re shooting for that, yeah. Alicia from Lost Sounds and River City Tanlines is handling that. We recorded an LP with Jay Reatard like three years ago and we thought he’d deleted it in a fit of anger, cause that’s what he told us. Then the band kind of dissolved, but Alicia got hold of Jay’s recording machine, and it turned out that the Barbara’s LP was still on there. She’s been mixing it, and it’s been really slow process, but I think Goner’s going to put it out, hopefully this year.

Band Spotlight: The Barbaras

History: Five best friends who’ve been making jamz since 2006, at the latest. Maybe even earlier than that. It’s a band that features members of The Boston Chinks and possibly some other dudes, though we’ll never know for certain.
Years Active: 2006-Present
Label: Goner/In The Red
Genre: Bubblegum/Psychedelic Pop
Line-Up: Will, Billy, Alex, Bennett, Stephen, Ben, Michael, and Ray.
Musical Style: Like others have said, they sound like the Beach Boys with a little bit more of an experimental knack. I’m sure a notable portion of King of the Beach was inspired by these recordings that Billy and Stephen were in on. They also sometimes sound like a happy Jay Reatard. Huh?
Best Album: I don’t think they’ve released a full length yet.
Top Songs: All of the songs on their Myspace page are pretty grand.

LINK: HERERERHEREEHERETEHERETRE