STRANGE NOTES, 10/3/05......
Been listening to a little rock and roll music lately that I’d like to talk with you about. Let’s start with a brand new LP collection of punk also-runs called “STARING DOWN THE BARREL – RARE PUNK 1979-83”
. It’s pretty common knowledge among the KBD set that the mother lode of eye-popping punk obscurities has already been stripmined, but hidden away in the veiny tentacles of ore are a few cool scorchers. This comp is full of unknown American middlers like the DUCKY BOYS
and the PSYCHOTIC FROGS
, but it also contains the snarling “Who Needs Wildlife Anyway” by GRACKIES
, which is as godlike as anything from 1978 Australian heroes RAZAR
or the LEFTOVERS
& brings the white heat in a similar fashion. Another great number is UNKNOWN SOCIETY
’s “You Hippy”, a fast one with the same snarling hatred of longhairs as the germinal DEADBEATS
song that kicked off the whole hippie-destructo micro-genre. Top-tier stuff, and reason alone to go hunt this comp down.....A couple of weeks ago we were discussing England’s LONG BLONDES
and their well-done post-punk rehash pastiche; way back then I hadn’t heard their debut 45 from last year, “New Idols / Long Blonde”
– now I have, and it’s outstanding. Sharp, somewhat danceable stutter-pop that plays well in both the raw DIY and “alterna-rock” ghettos, and maybe the best of their three seven-inches if you ask me.....The LB’s label ANGULAR RECORDS
appear to leading a UK revival of smart & tuneful weird pop, and their label sampler “Rip Off Your Labels – More Angular Product”
has got some real neat stuff, not the least of which is the Long Blondes’ fantastic “Autonomy Boy”. Others to keep on your radar are heavy-breathing girl-led rawk bands THE VIOLETS
and THE SWEAR
, and the shambling art looseness of ART BRUT
and THE SHOWBOYS
. There’s some “bollocks” on here, too, but what label comp doesn’t have at least a pinch of that?
Two albums in and I can’t get a handle on THE GRIS GRIS
. Their brand new CD “For The Season”
sports terrific surround-o-phonic production, some explosive musical ideas, and a lot of searing guitar chops spurting out where you least expect them. But all told, the album’s a stone bore, guilty of fantastic overreach. The band’s unfulfilling, haphazard song cycles appear to be written as if creating a dark psychedelic masterpiece for the ages was utterly non-negotiable. I’m sorry, but they’re just not there yet. You get the sense that some someone is thinking as if they were a step removed from Brian Wilson or Syd Barrett, and proceeds with songwriting accordingly. I remember people came down hard on THE FLAMING LIPS
a couple albums in for many of the same reasons, and hey, their best work was still ahead of them. Maybe the benefit of the doubt would be a good pose to strike with The Gris Gris, since the kernels of truth and enlightenment are hiding in there somewhere.......One surprise LP reissue that I’m really enjoying is a set of 1997 sessions from Sacramento’s defunct KARATE PARTY
on S-S Records
called “Black Helicopter”
. Their one and only 7”EP is collected here, along with a passel of throbbing, mechanical robo-punk that sat on tapes for 8 years. In fact the unreleased stuff (“Quality”, “Trouble”) is even more killer than their EP, a little less daffy and more full of precision-pinpointed blood and fire. Excellent!.....Finally, I’m starting to go on a LEE HAZELWOOD
bender again, like I did three years ago until I flamed out hard. It’s not pretty. I think my wife hates Hazelwood more than anything I’ve ever played her, so I’ve been listening to my new “Requiem For An Almost Lady”
CD on the iPod & car CD player like a bat outta hell. This is the most troubadour-like of Hazelwood’s 60s LPs, the least corny and the most sparse. No syrupy strings or angelic female voices, just Lee acoustically meditating on love & loss & of course, all the babes he’s slept with. It belongs in any proper Hazelwood collection for sure, right alongside “Love And Other Crimes”
, “Cowboy In Sweden”
and my very favorite, “Poet, Fool or Bum”.....
That’s all for now, keep your feet on the ground etc.!!!