Been pretty quiet around here for all of us. Doesn’t mean we haven’t been listening to music though. I keep getting intimidated by the time it’s going to take me to write a “proper” review of something, so I do nothing. Finally I decided to just throw some records on while I’m working at home and jot down a few thoughts. I’ve been trying to focus on stuff that I haven’t listened to in a long time. Here’s the first installment.

ABECEDARIANS – Resin (Caroline, 1987)image1
Typical mid-80s indie rock draped with vaguely goth, Cure-influenced gauze — lots of delayed and chorused guitars and repetetive, looping bass and drums with monotonous mope-rock vocals. I remember even back in the day this being pretty much just a genre exercise. It’s pleasant enough, but not really worth revisiting more than once every decade or so.

 

Antioch Arrow – Lady Is A Cat (Gravity, 1993)image2
One of the first-wave of chaotic hardcore bands on Gravity. It’s prog-rock played at break-neck speed with lots of feedback, screaming, and crashing drums. Utterly exhilirating and hugely influential with repercussions still being felt today. The thing that strikes me now listening to this is how suprisingly tuneful and well-paced this is. Oh yeah, check the totally DIY spray-painted stenciled cover.

 

Appliances-SFB – SFB (self-release, 1984)image3
Absolutely brilliant hardcore-influenced post-punk from my hometown. When I was coming up, The Appliances (they later added “SFB” due to some name dispute which, reportedly, stood for “Shit For Brains”) were one of the Madison “big three” which also included Tar Babies, Killdozer. While those bands were on legit labels (SST and Touch & Go), toured internationally and gained a fair amount of notoriety, the Appliances, for my money, were the best of the bunch and never really got their due. This first record is crammed with catchy, noisy post-punk anthems brimming with all sorts of influences (surf, dub, hardcore, kraut-rock) that never distracted from the sheer forward momentum and unbridled chaos.

Arm – Arm (self-release, 1996)image4
Blistering Minneapolis noise-rock with more of a heart than most of their AmRep brethren. Arm seem to have drawn considerable influence from the Nirvana/Pixies school of loud-quiet-loud and the vocals especially exude a sense of longing and emotional pain. This gives the band much more depth than the classic cacaphony’n’screaming so prevelant with many of the noise-rock bands of the time.

 

Arsenal – Factory Smog Is A Sign Of Progress (Touch & Go, 1990)image5
After Big Black broke up, Santiago Durango recorded a couple EPs that closely followed the same blueprint. The pummeling drum machine and ice-pick-to-the-ear guitars proved that Durango was way more than Albini’s yes man. But the addition of keyboards, guitar solos, and more complex arrangements didn’t improve on the formula all that much and, ultimately, Arsenal isn’t really of much interest to anyone but die-hard Big Black fans.

 

image6Assembly Line People Program – Chicago IL (Constructive Interference, 1997)
Single-sided 45rpm EP from a spazzy, short-lived Chicago band. Their debt to Gang Of Four is obvious but they stray a little closer to atonal spazz-jazz at points. The shouted group vocals bring to mind Nation Of Ulysses and the arrangements presage the rock/jazz/prog hybrid that their peers Sweep The Leg Johnny would later perfect.

 

image9Babes In Toyland – Spanking Machine (Twin Tone, 1990)
Minneapolis all-girl grunge band whose attitude outstripped its abilities. The debut was kinda swampy and tribal with caterwauling vocals later made popular by Courtney Love. (Love was a hanger-on at the Babes’ inception but was never, despite later claims by her, actually in the band.) The record has a amateurish vibe and execution that makes it hard to recommend except as a relic of a bygone era.

 

Bastards – Monticello (Treehouse, 1989)image7
Excellent, but often overlooked, Minneapolis noise-rock band led by Joachim Breuer who later went on to front the also-excellent Janitor Joe. Crunchy and visceral, Bastards could go toe-to-toe with any AmRep band of the time but their record-label affiliation kind of doomed them to obscurity. Nevertheless, the muscular bombast and Breuer’s almost Killdozer-like vocal delivery make this a extremely worthwhile example of Midwestern noise-rock at its finest.

 

Bastro – Rode Hard Put Up Wet (Homestead, 1988)image8
David Grubbs first post-Squirrel Bait project and the first EP before Bastro got all weird. This is excellent slashing drum-machine-driven post-punk. Imagine Slint playing Big Black songs at break-neck speed and you’ll be in the ballpark. This record is a highly recommended jewel in the Louisville crown, especially the spectacular opening track “(I’ve) Ben Brown.”

 

 

I try to leave my personal life out of the blog, but:

1)Valentine’s Day is coming up
2)My girlfriend and I recently broke up

Obviously, the whole Valentine’s Day thing is something I can’t really bring myself to care about this year, so here are some songs about love gone wrong. NOTE: None of these are meant to apply to my own situation, so don’t read too much into this.

Pulp – “Like a Friend”

Pulp is one of my favorite bands, and “Like a Friend” is one of my favorite songs. This is a great song about repeating the same mistakes over and over, which I would say is a theme in my life, but really, it’s probably a theme in everyone’s life.

Murder By Death – “Big Dark Love”

The flip side of the destructive power of love. Here’s Murder By Death playing their new “Big Dark Love” at the Stanley Hotel (where The Shining was filmed). It’s about the fine line between love and obsession, a line that the narrator at least acknowledges.

The Static – “My Relationship”

This is from one of Glenn Branca’s projects. Having relationship problems? Crank this. It’s the perfect soundtrack to your Valentine’s Day Banishing Ritual.

The Mountain Goats – “Woke Up New”

Of course, once the dust settles in the ruins of your life post-break up, you have to pick yourself up and move on, and that’s what the narrator of “Woke Up New” is doing here. This song is the perfect balance of sadness and hope, and is probably the best song to end this post.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Try not to take it too seriously.

-jason

PS: What songs would you have included? Leave them in the comments!

Hey all…jason here. I’m in the process of relocating To Eleven South, so I don’t have reliable internet access/time to post. The dust should be settling late next week, and then I’ll resume normal rocking out and the discussion related to said rocking out.

-jason

Back in the early days of this site, I ran a feature every Thursday called “Any Asshole with a Guitar and a Camera,” the point of which was that because of the internet, you didn’t need a recording contract to get your music heard by millions of people. Well, today just happens to be a Thursday, and I’m trying not to get stuck in the rut of just writing review after review after review, so here we are.

This first one is a cover of one of my favorite Nico (or favorite Jackson Browne, if you prefer) songs, “Fairest of the Seaons” performed by Laurena, AKA lullation13. It’s a beautiful arrangement of the song that manages to not sound like a by-the-numbers cover, which is what makes a great cover, in my opinion. This one’s marred by some pretty bad editing problems/computer glitches, but the performance itself if fantastic, so I’m running with it anyway.

Hey guys! Remember that song that played all year last year that you couldn’t get away from and you wanted to chock anyone who started singing it or playing it on the radio because it was just so damn ubiquitous? Well, screw you. Here’s Sarah Stone doing a pretty rad cover of Lorde’s “Royals,” using only her voice, a cup, and a table. Get over yourself and enjoy this.

Of course, there are a lot of great original songs out there by youtubers. Here’s to eleven favorite Lauren O’Connell with her entry into the NPR Tiny Desk Concert contest, with her original song “The Daylight Here.” Seriously, check out her albums and her other videos…she’s pretty damn brilliant.

And because I have no shame, he’s a cover from a few years ago of some asshole playing The Mountain Goats – “The Alphonse Mambo.” I’m actually not too ashamed of this one, though I sing the “Yeah yeah yeah” too early.

And that’s it for these assholes. I don’t think this is going to be a regular feature of the site, but it’s fun to revisit the idea from time to time. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.

-jason

By My Friend in Exile - Creator You Destroy Me
By My Friend in Exile – Creator, You Destroy Me. Already Dead Tapes & Records, 2015.

Last time I reviewed a Be My Friend in Exile release, I was just getting in to ambient music and had no idea how to talk about it. Now, I’m 1 1/2 years in or so, and I’m still not so sure I know how to talk about it, but I know that Be My Friend in Exile’e newest album, Creator, You Destroy Me is pretty much exactly what I needed to be listening to right now.

Again, right from the opening track, “Archon of the Demiurge,” this thing is ominous as hell. There’s a low, bassy drone punctuated by chaotic, atonal guitars. It’s desolate, it’s distant, and it’s perfectly captures the starry greyness of this winter we’re having in Ohio. This droning does’t let up, though it brightens a bit on the next track, “Ultima Linea Rerum,” before settling back into complete darkness in “Fever Dream.” That’s one thing I love about Be My Friend in Exile: many of these songs have the same elements, the same minimalist guitars, the same droning bass, but the mood of each piece is different. “Control Heartbeat Delete” somehow manages to convey a sense of urgency that the previous tracks don’t, while “Memories of Childhood, Feelings for the Future” sounds just a little like a cross between Caspian and Godspeed You! Black Emperor without completely jumping head-first into post-rock territory.

Like my review of The Silence, The Darkness, I have to say that what Be My Friend in Exile have done here is less an album of songs and more a single piece with multiple movements. While you could certainly enjoy any one track from the album, especially one of the longer tracks, such as “Floating Weightless Back to the Surface, I Imagine Becoming Someone Else,” Creator, You Destroy Me is best listened to in its entirety. It’s the perfect soundtrack to brooding over this bleak winter.

Creator, You Destroy Me is available on extremely-limited edition cassette from Already Dead Tapes and Records, and will soon be available for download from Be My Friend in Exile’s bandcamp page.

4/5 stars

-jason