Garbage Can...in which one lucky reviewer get to sift through the dregs of the TB head office and see what comes up. Will it be their lunch? Or a hot new band that has slipped through the cracks? One lucky volunteer will be assigned the task of reviewing as much crap as I can stuff into a box. This installment's victims...local blasters Sketchy Nick and Biff Bifaro of Aaron & The Burrs, Feral Kid Records, Ut Records, Space Wolves, Maximum Tremolo, and all kinds of other stuff. I gave them a selection of seven inches and cassettes (because these fellas love tapes) to split up as they saw fit. Stay tuned to see who gets ten pounds of crap in a five pound LP mailer next...
We absolutely love gribnage ("gribnage" and/or "grib" is apparently regional slang for garbage. Don't ask. And I live here. - ed.). You could even say that we live for grib. So when Termbo approached us about doing a Gribnage Can, we couldn't have been happier. Rather than searching high and low for some quality gribnage, as we normally have to, a can full of potentially wonderful grib was just waiting to be gifted to us. And a gift of grib is not a gift to be taken lightly. Join us now as my counterpart and I dig through the grimiest of gribnage to show you that one man's grib is potentially another man's gold.
Baked Goods "The Bastard"
This tape seems to be an ever-evolving entity. It begins very simple, lo-fi, and ugly, but with each passing song it gets a little more involved, a bit more time seems to have been spent on the songs, and the songs seem to get a bit prettier with the progression of the tape. The "pretty" songs kinda sound like they could be discarded songs left off of the poppier side of 'Time Bomb High School'. Intentionally left off that is, since they are nowhere near as remarkable. Everything is just a little bit too twangy for me on those tunes. Baked Goods shine on the three instrumental tracks on this tape. They begin both sides with one, and end the B side with the third. All three are very different, the A side being very ugly and short, the B side being longer and having a surfy feel to it, and the closing instrumental having a very droney psychedelic feel to it, aptly titled "Drone". The other instrumentals don't seem to be given names. The only credited vocal track worth mentioning is a snotty little number entitled "I Want Attention", which I'm a little surprised how catchy and memorable it is. (BB)(Rice Toys Records)
Eww Yaboo "Keep Dreaming"
Very safe, mid-tempo, singsongy, noodly indie-rock stuff here. I'm not entirely sure what they were going for with this band, and I would be shocked if they had an idea either. There are moments which have some driving catchiness like the song "Running Man" which is certainly a step in the right direction. Upbeat drums, catchy riff, short and sweet. Other songs however are very minimal and have long breaks of mostly just drums and bass. I actually had a difficult time deciphering if there were other instruments playing or not. The overly slow, singy, heartfelt numbers are pretty rough and comprise a majority of the tape. Those are a bit tough to get through considering how long they are. It could be that I'm just not particularly interested in discovering the next Oasis though. (BB)(Summer Steps Records)
This was dubbed incorrectly (or FSDC is a noise band that just makes tape hiss sounds). Thanks for wasting my time, Gloryhole. (SN)(Gloryhole Records)
Kid Icarus "Dig Archaelology: Thirteen Years of Lost Songs 1999-2012"
Admittedly, I’ve never listened to Kid Icarus, despite being vaguely aware of their existence for years. So, maybe this retrospective of the last 15 years would be a good place to start, right? Wrong. This tape is comprised of “outtakes, demos, and radio performances.” So basically, these are the versions of Kid Icarus songs that the band decided were not good enough to be released until Matthew Marcinowski at HFtTD pressured them into letting him put out a Kid Icarus tape. I’m sure there are big fans of this band that are dying to hear acoustic radio versions of Kid Icarus songs, but you aren’t one of those people, are you? (SN)(Hope For the Tape Deck)
The Needy Visions "Deuce"
This Boston sextet sounds like that band from your home town that actually thinks they will record a radio hit someday — you know, the one that everyone hates? To its credit, the occasional atonal sax parts and added noise sections will probably stop this from being the incidental music to your next meal at TGI Fridays, but other than that, they are really trying to make it happen. Lots of songs feature that “this is where the sing-along section goes” thing that has no lyrics, only extended Ooohs and Aaahs that carry the melody. Most of these songs are a decidedly slow 120 BPM which can get fairly insufferable after six or seven songs in a row, especially when the songs basically range from three to five minutes. Even their shortest song (“Axolotl” which is 2:22) is way too long because it just drones on and goes nowhere. I can’t imagine who actually likes this. (SN)(Bufu records)
Slow Chapel demo
Thirteen song cassette of disjointed, minimalist electronic music with half-heartedly sung vocals on top of roughly half the tracks. Everything is really blending together while listening to this one. Hard to tell where one track ends and the next begins. Songs start very haphazardly and abruptly fade out which makes it feel much more improvised rather than planned out. Rather than listening to a band, it's as if I'm listening to a collection of songs which would have been recorded to be spliced up and put into the background of a John Carpenter movie or something, minus the bored vocal parts that is. (BB)(Washed Recordings)
Son of A Gun "Take EP"
Pretty cool five song cassette of modern psychedelic leaning garagey punk stuff that seems pretty popular these days. Son of A Gun fit in very nicely with the current trend of Oh Sees worshipping bands out there. Driving grooves pumped out by a tight rhythm section with simplistic guitar licks and reverbed out vocals. The pop sensibility is certainly there, making these songs quite catchy. Great length for an introduction to this band, also. Too many bands feel the need to put out an LP length demo. These five songs were a nice start and have left me interested to see where they go from here. (BB)(Why Pick On Me?)
Christian Taylor "Ampersand Blues Band"
This tape is basically a tape of soft and spineless pick-a-bale-of-cotton, faux southern rock/white-boy-blues, and it’s sort of all over the place within that genre. There are fingerpicked acoustic numbers; there are full band rockin’ numbers with distorted vocals; there are little harmonica driven ditties. No two songs are alike, which makes the tape a little disjointed, but not painfully so. Christian Taylor seems like the kind of musician that wants to play a monthly night at a Midtown Manhattan cowboy bar where a middle aged tourist will be shocked by his authenticity. (SN)(Gloryhole Records)
V/A Fucktard/Total Anarchy split
Let’s take these sides one at a time. Fucktard is a hardcore band that has a lot of noticeable early San Francisco punk influence, and I’m not just saying that because the singer comes off as a cheap Jello Biafra. His delivery, his inflection, and even some of the lyrics are pretty Jello-esque. The whole thing can drift just over the border of hardcore into metal at points, and the singer even puts on a death metal voice for a measure or two here and there. The lyrics can be kind of stupid, but in a way that seems self-aware and kind of funny. The guitar lines have the slightest hint of exotica in them, without which, Fucktard wouldn’t be nearly as weird. This isn’t a band to take too seriously, but it’s pretty fun.
Total Anarchy draws in a little more thrash metal influence than Fucktard does. Still undeniably a hardcore band, but hardcore is a big genre, and I hear almost more early thrash than I hear early punk. The gang vocal parts make it sound like a lot of late Eighties hardcore bands that were experimenting with chuggy metal parts. Total Anarchy is even willing to rip a few high B and E string shredding solos. (SN)(Resurrection Records)
Wolf Feet self-titled
Hmm, another cutesy indie band using the hippest of animals in their name? It's catchy. It's upbeat. It's the same cute garbage we've all heard far too many times over the last handful of years. Every song sounds almost identical, complete with programmed drumbeats, each song unapologetically overusing the Casio "hand-clap" sample. Fittingly they used a very low anatomical part of the wolf in their name, as they truly are scraping the bottom of the barrel of this style. (BB)(Resurrection Records)
The AM/FM's s/t EP
Four songs of corny, forgettable (if you're lucky) weekender rock-n-roll. The opening track, entitled "Damn Right (It's A Saturday Night)" is an unnecessary number filled with all of the cliches about how wonderful Saturday is as compared to all the other days of the week. This is quite the concept, is it not? How have we never before heard a song about how the weekend is great? Mondays? I hate mondays! That song kinda sets the tone for the whole record and it's more of the same cookie cutter songs. (BB)(Radio Guru Records)
Ancient Slang “Fake Future” 7”
This record is really cool. It’s repetitive in the best kind of way. There are plenty of weird guitar freak-outs—chords that transition into single note garbage, and then into feedback. The doubled vocals are different enough for it all to sound insane. There’s a lot of melody without it really entering into the realm of pop. The B-side is a little slower than the rollicking A-side, and not quite as good, but the A-side is a bona fide hit. Ancient Slang has a really cool, trashy, gribby, garagey sound. (SN)(Gloryhole Records)
Dykemann Family s/t EP
Four song EP of by-the-numbers rockabilly tinged garage rock. Dykemann Family hail from the gorgeous city of Zagreb, Croatia, where I was once held at gunpoint and searched by an undercover police officer while walking towards a castle from their local rock club, Big Rock Mama. "You are from New York? There is a lot of drugs in New York". An astute observation. Similar to the cop, I must state the obvious. We're not reinventing the wheel or anything over here, but I suppose if this is a style that you're playing then that's not exactly something you're looking to do. I imagine that it would be pretty cool to play with a Cramps worship band in a country like Croatia, but the record itself doesn't do too much for me. (BB)(Disco-Lite Records)
Greed Force "7 Inches of Disappointment" EP
I’m probably not qualified to write about English crust. But, this seems pretty generic. It even comes with a little acoustic number at the end of side B with spoken word over the top of it, just in case you didn’t get the message in the rest of the songs, or something. It’s all alright. The sound clips, which I normally hate, are short enough to not be annoying. I’m not sure why this is a four way label split, though. Apparently nobody could scrape together more than 200 bucks (118 quid, whatever) for this record. And apparently nobody could shill out for an artist or graphic designer either: it’s got plain white on black lettering on the outside with a high school collage of band photos on the inside. (SN)(A World We Never Made/Suburban White Trash Records/Rantipole Zine/Anarchotic Records)
Richard James & The Special Riders s/t EP
The insert slipped into this record informs me that "THIS IS ROCK N ROLL!!!". I would agree with that statement on the first track, "Never Get Out". There's a cool dissonant guitar in the background playing some very simple stuff that really keeps your attention on this song and the vocals are delivered pretty angry and snotty. After that, however, this record gets progressively wimpier. By the time it is flipped over to its B-side you are left with a twangy, country-esque number which seems to go on for far too long to be a goof. While the first song isn't without it's charm, you forget all about it while struggling through the remaining two tracks. (BB)(Wrecked 'Em Wreckords)
Lexicon Devils "Vegetative State" 7"
Being named for the weirdest Germs song (one that Geza X turned into a masterpiece of bizarro punk) seems a little misleading as this is straight forward, no frills, Italian hardcore. Anyway, Lexicon Devils claim to be early Eighties US hardcore worship. Indeed, there are some chord progressions that scream early Boston Crew, but those songs are arranged in a more normalizing way and with slicker production values than would have been available to DYS in the early Eighties. Most, though, seem to hearken back to early Nineties New York, complete with plenty of gang vocals. These Romans play on the fast side of mid-tempo hardcore punk. The distorted bass and very slightly blown out vocals give it a powerful feeling. This record isn’t groundbreaking, but if Lexicon Devils come to the USA, I’ll go see them. (SN)(Agrowax Records)
Madamm “You’ve Lost Me” 7"
The cover of this single looks like it should belong to a more oogley band than Gothenburg’s Madamm. In fact, Madamm is just garage-leaning pop rock. There are girl-group vibes to this, but the chord structures and melody just aren’t strong enough to make it seem as classic as real girl-group stuff. It’s light; it’s airy; it’s pretty ok, but only pretty ok, dig? (SN)(Radio Obligato Records)
The Mons "Fighting Over a Knife" 7"
Aging, but perennial band dudes revamp their style to become more palatable to a modern audience. The lyrics seem to say, “I know ‘m supposed to be pissed off about stuff, but I’m just not really that mad anymore,” so Mons ends up singing in clichés like “Make room for Walmart/ Church on fire” and “You’re the real fucking enemy/ Just get the fuck away from me/ Asshole.” And if we are going to talk about clichés, let’s talk about the strings. It seems like these guys got the memo that weird is cool, but couldn’t exactly figure out how to go there. The record opens with a distorted bass walking tritones (“tritones are weird, right guys?”) followed by dual guitars that begin to use dissonance in the most accepted of ways (“and then we’ll both play whole-notes on different notes and they’ll clash with each other. That’ll make people feel uneasy, right?”). That kind of dissonance was weird in 1913, but it’s 2014 now, so make it weirder if you are trying to unsettle us. (SN)(Castaldi)
Noise Complaint "Fuck Off and Thrash" EP
Goofy, fast punk with a ton of songs crammed onto a 45 rpm 7". A band that seems like it should have existed within the early 2000s bandanna thrash revival. Hard to imagine new bands are starting up that still sound like this. Silly sound clips from South Park, Mr. Rogers, and even of a toilet flushing surround far too many forgettable songs about killing your neighbors as well as the members of U2. The back of the insert features a comic strip of the band members knocking out and stealing the uniform of a cop who shows up after a neighbor complains about their band practicing for multiple hours, then the members impersonating said cop and going after the neighbor herself. Well, as a punk rocker, I hate cops as well, and dislike it when my neighbors call the cops on me rather than talking to me like a human being, but if this band were practicing next door to me for hours on end, even I could see complaining to all who would listen. (BB)(Suburban White Trash Records/A World We Never Made Records/Plastic Fact Records/Anarchotic Records)
Nunhex "Disruptive Deception" EP
They say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, and that may be true. This 7" is the perfect example of how that rule does not necessarily apply to records. At first glance of this record cover I could have told you that this would be straight-forward, fast powerviolence worship bordering on the realm of straight up fuckin' grindcore. Lo and behold, here we have four songs of fast hardcore with the sporadic blast beat. It's very tight and pretty intense, but also feels like something I've heard hundreds of times before. (BB)(No Work Records/Suburban White Trash Records)
Triptides "Going Under" 7"
Triptides are so tame that I can’t even call them Beach Boys worship. They are Sunrays worship, which would be at least okay if any of their songs were as irritatingly catchy as “I Live for the Sun,” but they aren’t. The songs by this Indiana band ring pretty hollow. How can a band from Indiana write a song with lines like “Grab your board and surf with me” without it being a metaphor? It honestly sounds like 5 guys from a Dave Mathews tribute band heard that Beach Boys style surf music was popular, and then sat down and listened to the soundtrack to a bunch of Sobe commercials for advice on how to make it modern. The production is extremely polished; the reverb is so perfect that notes linger in the air as if all the guitars were bowed, and I mean that in the most negative way possible. If you want a really cheap simulacrum of Brad Oberhofer (and you probably don’t even want the real thing), then this 7” is for you. (SN)(Croque Macadam)
V/A The Turn It Offs/Bruiser Queen split EP
At first glance I'm a little confused by the existence of a 33rpm 7" with a large spindle hole in it. Both bands have two songs on their side of the record, so I get that it was done intentionally as a goof and is a way for it to seem like a single for both bands rather than a split, but it seems like a bit of an odd format.
A-Side of this split belongs to Memphis, TN's The Turn It Offs. They are very straightforward punk infused rock and roll stuff. Vocals kinda howl over top in an Elvis-y manner. Nothing new here. Two songs that you can predict where it'll end up as its plugging along. Hey, they did warn you with their name, did they not?
Flipping to the B-Side we have Bruiser Queen, from St. Louis, MO. Bruiser Queen appears to merely have two members, a guitarist/vocalist and drummer, but there is clearly a bass track on the recording as well which I think is good as it fills the songs out a bit. Driving garage-pop songs with very powerful and confident female vocals. These songs are actually pretty damn catchy. Strange that their side of the split says everywhere that the tracks are listed that they are "(DEMO)" versions of each of the songs. The production of them actually sounds pretty slick to me and I certainly can't picture being as into it if it were any more produced sounding. "Girl Like Me" has an almost Fifties doo wop feel to the track and it's easily the standout and most memorable track on the record. (BB)(Miss Molly Music)