Okay, time to start digging out from under this mountain of reviews and get the Termbo machine back in running order. Here’s a link to latest reviews section, some of which are embarrassingly late, some of which are surprisingly timely. Hope you find something you like in there, old or new or both. I had to cheat a little bit to get caught up further, as I resort to the “column” format below to clean up some stuff I had left on the desk. I’ll be doing the same with a XXL sized stack of LPs next. If you sent something in and it’s missing drop us a line and we’ll figure it out. Other than that, it’s onwards and upwards – more reviews, a demos/tapes section soon after and I’ll finally be putting the finishing the finishing touches on Termbo print issue #4 and other paper goods. All that and more from the Loki Label and friends really soon.
(Again, go check out this big ol page of new reviews here before or even after you’ve read what’s below.)
Might as well start with the best 45 label in the land, Total Punk. TIMMYS ORGANISM finally make an appearance on the roster with their latest offering coming off their LP on Third Man, and this one sounds like Vulgar might be dusting off old Clone Defects tracks (which is fine by me). “Lick Up Your Town” is a little sleazy lyrically (“Powder your garden with my fertilizer!”) and is a huge sounding mid-tempo rocker, with Vulgar’s jet-engine squeal guitar sound stealing the show. Flip is “Sweet Tooth” with a lascivious spoken intro that leads into a blues stomper with Timmy V emoting equally on vox and strings. Now that’s rock’n’roll. Also makes good use of the full sleeve rubber stamp with a nice eye catching design. BLACK ABBA’s (or just Bl’Abba if you’re on friendly terms) second single starts with their best tune to date, “Lost Dog”, a somewhat minimal sounding lo-fi punker with a wandering synth line and less-is-more solo – great lyrics too. “The Manager” is a winner as well, sounds loose and has a more DIY/artpunk feel, the doubled-up vocals add some disorientation and again it seems as if that synth is just meandering around the song, and it works. The tunes sound very organic yet still weird, and the simple construction benefits from the added nuances of the little things they do right – and I swear that guitar solo part is lifted from somewhere, but I just can’t place it…I’ll be sure to let you know when I figure it out. Best band member name on insert: Cher II.
LYSOL have been in heavy rotation around TB HQ all winter, and I’ll fess up to being a little late catching up after the tapes. The two songs on this Total Punk 7” were also the L.I. tour tape if you picked that up – “Wired” b/w “Knucklehead” and they’re both hot enough to singe your eyebrows. Am I in the majority thinking Lysol is better than Freak Vibe? Rob Vertigo, can I get a ruling on this? “Knucklehead” reminds me some of Brown Sugar and Mognoloid in its rock’n’roll + hardcore approach – there’s a piano in there right? – it’s just a real crusher. “Wired” is more of the same (yes I know this is the A-Side), another powerbomb rocker that demands repeat listens despite the bruising that might cause. These tunes sound more aggro than the stuff on the ‘On the Corner’ LP (which is a great record nonetheless) and I dig it. These cats are probably in the top dozen or so current acts out there right now, and if I wouldn’t have had my head up my ass for most of 2016 I’d of touted them more. So as to not let that mistake happen again though, I’m going to tell you that this FNU CLONE 12″ is amazing right off the bat. The head FNU has done away with the Ronnies (or at least left them on the other side of the country) and recorded all of this by himself, and it might be even more insane than ‘Saddle Up’ was. The sounds of technology revolting against you, hard digital punk, raw rock in general. Drum machines are brutally run through their programs, synthesizers are spliced into human DNA, effects pedals are abused and grafted onto voiceboxes. The A-Side is weird enough, but the B-Side of this thing is a fucking beast. The clone’s humanity might come through a bit more on this side, but it’s no less eccentric. The three song run from “Shake the Hand” through the Motorhead cover essentially reinvents weird-punk. Science fiction come to low-budget life. Incredible. One of the best records of the year thus far, and I cannot stop with that B-Side. I think it has injected some sort of binary virus into my head at this point. Must be heard to be believed, the only thing it somewhat reminds me of is Gary Wrong, if that guy was a cyborg monster instead of an analog wizzard – but it has a similarly busy all-hands-on-holodeck approach. FNU Clone has really outdone himself here, and I’m of the belief FNU Ronnies were one of the best things going while they were active – like I said, this thing pushes the boundaries even further into space and time and just raised the bar considerably. (www.floridasdying.com)
Know what? This PLAYBOY 12” from Negative Jazz is also the best record to come out in 2017 thus far. I cannot stress ho much I enjoy this one enough. I’ve listened to it 100 times by now easily and it keeps getting better. A four song 12” 45rpm monster called “Celebration” that weighs in just under 18 minutes or so, it’s unlike much else out there. Flipper is the no-brainer comparison, but it’s true – rubbery, gooey, sex beat/sax bleat, smart and degenerate lyrics. This is not some rehash sludgefest though, there’s something airy about the sound, almost spacey. Vocals are perfect, they sound strained but he’s not really yelling, the delivery is fittingly odd, and he’s often answered by the sax (as on “Outside”). It’s truly weird, in that I haven’t heard much like it around – not some predictably weird-punk stock moves you’ve come to expect. Pretty sure there’s no guitar player, did I mention that? Anyway, these dudes are from Montreal and are the best thing outta there in some time – and Playboy have an Omega or two or more in their ranks from what I’m told, and I like Omegas, but this Playboy shit blows them away. Artwork matches the bizarre tunes to a tee and thank god for the lyric sheet that’s full of more strangeness and charm – I’ve been trying to figure the words out for a good 2-3 months, and I wasn’t even close. Go buy this immediately, please. (negativejazz.bigcartel.com)
Now let’s talk random Euros. The Mastermind Records label outta Denmark almost always delivers (see Narcosatanicos and Angkor Wrack along with their fondness for Clevo-tardation via F/S and Trichecos), and this SMERTEGRAENSENS TOLDERE 7” is good enough that I took the time to spell that fucking name right (although I’ll be damned if I know how to format that AE as the same letter shit), they’re from Aarhaus (talk about a cool name for a city), they blow through seven songs in about seven minutes, and I swear it sounds like HFOS if they weren’t joking around – bad reference I know, but I have no clue as to a Danish HC band to relate them to – it’s slightly metallic, super burly, maybe a little 9ST fury in there. One of the Cola Freaks is in this band? Would’ve never guessed. Monstrous. The tasteful picture of a boxcutter on the cover sums up their aesthetic rather well. (mastermindrec.tictail.com)
From Denmark we wander over to the UK, where shambolic and quirky DIY records are coming out like it’s 1982 all over again. Firstly we have THE STICKS ‘No Sustain’ EP, their first record in a few years and it’s rather decent stuff. I remember not caring for a 12” of theirs, but I can handle this – they go for the more rhythmic and bass-led approach, not quite lo-fi either, these dudes know their way around a studio. Reminds me some of Yummy Fur as well as the usual Messthetics – scratchy guitars over locked-in grooves and then sprinkled with weird touches and deep voiced dudes talking their lyrics. Very enjoyable though, and limited to 300 in a risographed sleeve with insert on Market Square – who did the first Suburban Homes 7″ if you want some references.(marketsquarerecordings.bandcamp.com). Next we have VITAL IDLES from Glasgow with a two-songer of female-fronted DIY-pop that I’m really digging the A-Side of – “My Sentiments” is all sharp guitars and a lurkingly heavy bassline, Jessica Higgins’ vox are a delight – talked but in what I feel like is a real smartass way – it’s a bit of raw punker even. “The Garden” on the flip couldn’t be more different. A dramatic slow turn/ballad with violin and trumpet accompaniment, sort of sad-sounding but brightened up by that horn – a quaint recreation of a summer day perhaps, but I again get the sense Jessica is being a little sarcastic, which is why I like it. A swell little single either way (Not Unloved – notunloved-at-gmail.com). Over now to South London for this GOAT GIRL 7”, which I’m mentioning because the A-Side is called “Country Sleaze” and is an ode to Wallers & Co. (“Wallers find me you country tease” she croons!?) – and while I think it sounds more like a tune from the True Detective soundtrack than DIY, I do appreciate that four girls from London are this into the Country Teasers in 2017. B-Side is called “Scum”, is straight C&W, and I will say that at the least this girl has a nice smoky voice. On Rough Trade, you should at least hear “Country Sleaze” just to say you did.
OK, enough of Europe, let’s talk the latest in American Guitar Rock. Sophomore Lounge is the name of the label, and they just pulled the pin on a double-headed 7” bomb – one from the grunts known as TROPICAL TRASH, their first waxing since the highly regarded LP on Load (there was some primo tape and such action in between there as well, talking about the ‘Live at the Fillmore’ cassette and that “Big Game John Cage” thing) and the big change to the line-up card here is that they now have Bim “Obnox” Thomas on drums/gtr to make them even more of a force of jazzfry destruction. ‘Decisions Empty Nest’ is the name of the EP, three songs recorded by Maccarrone in Clevo, which is an alliance I fully support. “Early Wish” covers the A-Side and it’s just evil. Sounds like a short-circuting organ crying in the background under a tractor beam bass sound and some vocals that they’ve added some satanic effects to. Devastating. Think of ‘UFO Rot’ with Bim destroying the drum kit. Think about it. That’s what we have here. B-Side picks up right where the A-Side left off with the ending of “Early Wish” then “Exit Dust” pulls a weapons-grade riff out of the arsenal and then things start getting good and loose on “Troubleshot”. A real mind eraser from some of the top guys in the game. And if that wasn’t good enough, they’ve paired it with the latest 7” from our boys MORDECAI. “What is Art” is four songs, the two on the A-Side come from the ‘Abstract Recipe’ sessions with the “classic” Eli/Holt/Gavin line-up and “Seeing In” is an incredible bit of Shakey-esque hook-rock, and Holt ponders the big question of the title track over a steady groove that these guys lock into in their own way, lots of guitar slash. As always, magic happens. The B-Side is played via a truncated line-up of Gavin and Holt and recorded in the living room. According to Holt’s notes, this was a sort of experiment in deconstruction, in particular replacing drums with a cooking pan. “Spite” is built on that primitive drum idea with both Gavin and Holt getting free on the guitars and falls into place and apart in wonderful fashion. “What is Over” was inspired by Ego Summit and a hangover and is more of an abstract folky-jangler with continued wandrin’ guitar work. This record really made a shitty day into a great one when it arrived, if you need some evidence of the mystic power Mordecai and their music have. In my mind, the most remarkable band we have around today. With ‘Abstract Recipe’ and this 7” out now, the boys have fulfilled their yearly recording quota, and with all three of our heroes now spread out in different towns we’re left to wonder what happens next. I’m hopeful we’ll possibly see them live this year while school is out. Both of these records come in silkscreened pocket sleeves and in a hurtfully limited edition of 300 so keep your eyes peeled. (www.sophomoreloungerecords.com)
CHOKE CHAINS are the latest Thomas Jackson Potter outfit, joined by a Chinese Millionaire, Lindsey from No Bails and a guy named Chizz (!). “Cairo Scholars” is high octane garage-punking, maybe even qualifying as action rock, and has a real nasty solo. The flip is a cover of the opening track from the Deviants third record (“Billy the Monster”) that they give a big low-end revamp. Mastered for maximum garage turkeyness by Tim Warren, typically solid stuff from Potter. (www.houndgawd.com) Speaking of solid hands who have been making great music for 20+ years covering songs that are nearly 50 years old, there’s a new 7” from JAMES ARTHUR’S MANHUNT where he blows through The Grounhogs’ “Cherry Red” making it sound like a Texas acid-rock classic instead of UK blueshammering – actually it sounds a little like James Gang too, but that might have something to do with the fact I listened to “The Bomber” like ten times today. It’s hard to tell, but Manhunt really stretch out on it and give it a good shaking. That’s the B-Side, on the frontside JA actually does an Angry Samoans cover! Proving he’s a smart cat he does the Turner classic “Staring at the Sun” from the oft and unrightfully maligned ‘STP Not LSD’ LP. It’s a rousing and quite ballsy rendition. (www.spacecaserecords.com) To continue our old-timers paragraph here, I was certainly not expecting a new SLICING GRANDPA record in the mail. If you’re unaware, SG have been going for nearly 20 years now as the experimental recording project of John Laux, current Musk-man and former Tractor Sex Fatality. This one’s ominously titled ‘Finyl Vinyl’ and is a four banger – “Fake Mistake” is my fave, with a trebly shitbox recording, vocals that sound like he’s using a tin can and a piece of string, and a handful of swirly echo effects and things – a truly DIY sound and nearly hypnotic. Actually “I Showed Up” on the B-Side is now my favorite, because I’m arguing with myself as to whether it sounds more like Jandek or the Shadow Ring. The wonderfully titled “No Toilet” is an “instrumental” finisher that sounds like incidental music from a SOV horror movie. If you’ve never heard SG before, here’s your chance. (elmn8r-at-hotmail.com)
Keeping things retro, I received correspondence from the fine folks responsible for the Savage Damage Digest regarding a warehouse find of dead stock Richmond Records singles. If you’re unaware (as I was), Richmond was a New Wave label active from 1979-82 whose flagship act was Psychotic Pineapple. What they have available are the GLORIA BALSAM novelty record made “famous” by Dr. Demento – Gloria does a wacky cover of “High Hopes” and a tune about her missing dog “Fluffy” backed by Rubinoos and Pineapples. Woof?! Somewhat better than that is the RAL PHENO 7” (backed by Psychotic Pineapple of course), another of the New Wave novelty/weirdo persuasion, but not nearly as annoying as Gloria – “Let’s Get Stupid” is actually a pretty good piano pounder/sax wailer that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to an Eighties teen comedy. But the best of the bunch is THE IDYLLS 7”, an obscure power-popper/waver that has a pretty solid A-Side in “Why” that sounds a bit like an edgier Blondie. “White Lies” on the flip is a ballad that is interesting in a car crash way. (richmondrevisited.bigcartel.com)
Sticking with the era, some reissues of note. Firstly, Last Laugh have THE DOGS “Slash Your Face” 7” for us, a KBD ripper of the highest quality. Strong like viet cong. A legit from the masters job with pocket sleeve that’s of a far higher quality than the previous “reissue”. And in case you haven’t noticed, in between KBD bonzers, LL has been steadily releasing quality INCREDIBLE KIDDA BAND singles, with “Bullet In My Heart” being the fourth in the series – both songs are choice late Seventies studio tracks, and did Kidda Band ever write a bad song? (www.almostreadyrecords.com) There are few records more unexplainable than the TAPEWORM 7”, which Death Vault has just officially reissued for the first time (forget that shitty bootleg), with the added bonus of a four page insert with liners from Fuzz Box Flynn himself. Still no sign of “Fuzz Bassolo” though! I shouldn’t have to discuss how great this record is with you, but if there is some way one of you don’t know about it, I do envy you getting to experience “Break My Face” for the first time. Surely one of the 7” reissues of the year, Death Vault really does good work all around – BUT as if that wasn’t enough, DV also popped out a reish of the XTERMINATORS 7” as well, of “Microwave Radiation” fame and always memorable in my book for having some of the most ridiculous vocals – those nasally back-ups get me every time, and it’s certainly a killer tune besides. “Occasional Lay” on the flip is actually really good too (Break the Rules “good”) and has dumb back-up vocals too, thankfully. You should be able to get these from Florida’s Dying…
As a sidenote, the compiling of this installment was predominately soundtracked by the WRITHING SQUARES LP “In the Void Above” which came out late last year on Siltbreeze. It was in my Top Ten LPs, but in case you missed that I want to mention it again, it’s that good. Absolutely magnificent American space-rock built on bass and sax that rocks straight-up at times, then dips into Hawkwind-like grooves, kraut-rock runs, electronic rock explorations, it’s all very otherworldly and done with class including the best flute part on a rock record in recent memory. I’ve been listening to it a few times a week for at least six months and I’m still addicted to it. From some of the minds behind Taiwan Housing Project (whose LP is out any day), and Purling Hiss/Spacin’. Check em out on bandcamp if you don’t believe me.
Again, if you missed it or are a bit slow on the uptake, there’s a another huge pages of new reviews here.
That’s all for now kids, we’ll be back in a few with more reviews (LPs mostly now) and some zine talk on top. Tapes after that – thanks everyone.