Agony Shorthand

Saturday, February 19, 2005
STRANGE NOTES, 2/19/05.....

Had heard many fine things about last year's debut CD from THE INTELLIGENCE called "Boredom and Terror", & now I know why. This A-FRAMES-associated Seattle group has grafted a very moderne electro-spazz motif onto what sounds to these ears like a early 1980s British DIY sparseness (all the rage in 2004, as you know). It's as if some invisible Messthetics aesthetics had turned their car away from by-the-numbers panic rock and into something a little more weird and impenetrable. I'm in favor......Then there's this new CD from a North-Midwest band called THE TEARS that I can't quite place. Is it bug-eyed & angry 60s-dosed snot-punk, or something a little more in some alterna-jerk Babes In Toyland/Hole camp? I'm too tired to figure it out. Two cute girls in a garage rock band, though -- Long Gone John, call your office!......When I was a young college radio-loving lad in the early 80s, these was one dub group who seemed to get a disproportionate amount of airplay on KFJC, my then-local station. They were Jamaica's TWINKLE BROTHERS, and I've barely seen them register in any history-of-dub overviews from thenceforth. Seems a little unfair, as their "Dub Massacre, Volume 1 & 2" CD, which collects two long-gone LPs called "Dub Massacre" and "Remix" (I think), is outtasite, heavy heavy heavy instrumental trickery. Thick and dense reverb covers everything here, and it's hard to figure out whether tracks were laid down first and then messed with, or if their dubs utilized very complex & aggressive mixing of multiple songs. Nevertheless, it's very dense and near-atmospheric at its best. You'll need to reallly sharpen the kitchen cutlery to slice through this one.

Insiders tell me that BRIAN TEASLEY, the enfant terrible indie rock dissmeister over at Chunklet magazine, is himself a member of god squad chorale THE POLYPHONIC SPREE! Is that gay or what?......I'm not much of a dancer, except in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror in the bedroom, but even I can't stop gentle spasming when in the company of the CD "Kling Klang" by San Francisco disco dubbers TUSSLE. You might even call it a guilty pleasure. The CD packs on multiple 5-minute instrumental workouts that are somewhere in a nexus between what some once called "post-rock" (!), early, non-electronic disco, and deep, post-80s bionic dub music. And it just stomps, at least until it doesn't. You might like it.....I always knew that if I'd heard enough of England's REAL LOSERS, a threshold would eventually be crossed and I'd lose patience with their rawer-than-raw, cruddier-than-cruddy SAINTS-on-amphetamines shtick. That threshold may have been penetrated with the latest 7"EP, "Go Nutzoid!", which, while very loud, loose and liquored, just doesn't show a whole lot of conceptual or actual progression from that initial raw/crud template. If you've heard it before, well, quite honestly, you've heard it before. Maybe I need a quiet break from this bunch for a few months & I'll feel differently come the summer.....Finally, after getting hopped up about instrumental surf music again after procuring the "Diggin' Out" LP last year, I'm entering skepticism & caution again after buying the "Get A Board" comp CD from Satan Records & about 10 years ago. It's not all weak, but there are enough vocal-led JAN & DEAN-type novelty tunes to make getting through it an exercise in frequent track-skipping. I thought this might be the one, and it wasn't. What are your nominees for hottest 60s instrumental surf record? The louder and tighter, the better (of course). With that, my work is done today! Keep your feet on the ground etc.!