Agony Shorthand

Friday, April 25, 2003
COMETS ON FIRE: "FIELD RECORDINGS FROM THE SUN"....I don't mind being the last one at a party, as long as I finally get there & get to thoroughly partake in the festivities. Such is the case with the awesomely-hyped feedback maestros COMETS ON FIRE, an unhinged freight train of rock and roll who are performing right under my nose here in San Francisco (!), but whom I'd never heard until this past week. As my pal SS would say, HOLY GOD. This CD, the band's second release (word has it that Alternative Tentacles -- what?!? -- are re-releasing the first LP on CD later this year), proves the Comets to be the seeing-eye bastard children of CHROME, MUDHONEY and HIGH RISE -- a combo who up the dose for electronically-manipulated feedback and unbridled chaos beyond any band I've heard before, ever, anywhere. Really.

Now almost anyone can create howling feedback and noise, and maybe impress a handful of impressionable record weasels and Your Flesh magazine writers, right? But do the songs themselves cut it? Yes they do. Though I doubt these esoteric music junkies would deign to compare themselves with something so gauche -- "Field Recordings From The Sun" has tracks on par with a couple of Mudhoney's more structurally-challenged, amp-damaging numbers (like "In and Out of Grace" and the recent "Sonic Infusion"). With Julian Cope raving about this one, I was expecting something maybe a slight step up from MONOSHOCK, with a little weed-smokin' hippie crap snuck in to capture the record buying/drug-gobbling demographic. Thankfully there's very little of that on display. The CD's five tracks, four of which are l-o-o-o-o-n-g stretches of unharnessed noise and phase-shifting electric splattering, are all eminently listenable despite the sonic extremes in volume and mood. You get the feeling that these guys aren't wasting the creative talents the Lord hath provided by getting supremely loaded in the studio -- I'm sure that comes after the session -- and then pressing it up on BULB or something. This is a serious band making serious, boundary-pushing rock and roll. You know, I'd be real surprised if Mark Arm and Grady Runyan aren't already sleeping with the jewel case under their pillows each night. Fantastic record. When are they playing next??