Saturday, October 11, 2008

The 1985 - Nerve 80

Since my friend John commented on my last post, I will respond by taking food out of his mouth.

The 1985 began as visionaries.  In the mid 90s, the most common indie rock touchstones were from the early 70s - a la Neil Young  - and the early 90s - a la Slint.  The early 80s were treated like that kid in middle school who still peed with his pants around his ankles.  A handful of bands, though, dripped with golden inspiration from the likes of PiL, Gang of Four, Devo, MX-80, and Contortions.  Among those prescient tastemakers were Pittsburgh's own The 1985.

The '85 were not mere revivalists.  There was a (most likely) conscious similarity to contemporaries like Nation of Ulysses and Arab on Radar, and a (perhaps more) coincidental sonic kinship with The VSS and Clikitat Ikatowi.  

Nerve 80 was the first of two full length albums from the '85.  I am proud that I contributed to its creation, while also disappointed in my inability to gain them any greater exposure.  Several dozen copies of the CD are likely still in the possession of "John," occasional commenter on this very blog.  If you dig this CD please consider making contact with him for a hardcopy, as well as his more recent musical adventures in ((microwaves)).  

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cul de Sac - China Gate

Closing out my posts for this weekend, here is my favorite album from Boston's Cul de Sac.  Except for the intro and outro tracks and the occasional found-sound voice sample, it's a completely instrumental album.  

Cul de Sac appear to draw inspiration from several musical touchstones: raga, krautrock, psychedelic, free jazz, prog, surf, noise, electronic, and probably other stuff that I'm even less qualified to fake my way around discussing. 

If you like China Gate, don't stop here.  Cul de Sac have several great records, including a studio collaboration with John Fahey and a two-disc live collection from a intercontinental tour with Damo Suzuki.  

Primordial Undermind - Yet More Wonders of the Invisible World

Most fans of the Twisted Village and Ptolemic Terrascope varieties of psychedlic rock are well aware of Wayne Rogers' and Kate Biggar's musical travels from Crystallized Movements to Magic Hour and, presently, Major Stars.  The truly obsessive have also been following Eric Arn, who preceded Kate as Crystallized Movements' second guitarist, and who currently leads a nomadic and itinerant band called Primordial Undermind.  

This was Primordial Undermind's first LP, released in 1995.  Most tracks are fuzzy psych with a melodic, poppy bent and the occasional nod to eastern styles.  Mixed among these are a few moments of psychedlic noise freakout bliss - the proverbial money shot for folks like me who were curious to hear what "that other Crystallized Movements dude" was creating.  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Royal Trux - Sweet Sixteen

I think this album is genius, and I think the following review from Rolling Stone nails it perfectly... except for the 1-star rating, that is.

"Virginia's Royal Trux mix bad Company biker blues, Southern rock, synthesized AM drivel and arty college experimentation like an underage bar goer mixes drinks: slamming 'em down till they come back up as regurgitated sonic swill. Combine that with a trailer-trash-chic image – skintight bell-bottoms, cowboy boots and whiskey-warped expressions – and you have an underclass shtick that has made the Trux underground faves.

On their sixth underproduced album and second major-label release (yet another indie band signed in Nirvana's wake), singer Jennifer Herrema works hard at sounding trashy, slurring lyrics in a raspy tone a la Nazareth. She hisses ultranasty lines like "Sweet 16 and never been clean" alongside guitarist and vocalist Neil Hagerty's own thin warble. Indulgent wah-wah guitar solos bump into disjointed drum beats.

Every song on Sweet Sixteen eventually lapses into a meandering mess, even on tunes where the Trux attempt to mimic Zeppelin's repetitive rhythms or the Allman Brothers' jams. Instead of respecting the music they bastardize, the Trux treat it as low art, approaching '70s rock like a cocky adult playing a kids' game. By mid-album, you begin to wish Lynyrd Skynyrd had crashed this recording session and kicked the Trux's pretentious asses into some sort of cohesive groove." (RS 757)


Royal Trux - Thank You

Much has been made of the major label feeding frenzy in the years following Nevermind. It left many a hipster scratching his head and asking "did they really think this would appeal to the Wreckz-n-Effects-loving masses?"

For what it's worth, Thank You was Royal Trux' most accessible album to date. Everything is relative, of course. This probably would have been far more accessible around stoners' basements everywhere in 1971 than it was around Tower Records in 1995.

Royal Trux took on a full band for this record, as well as Neil Young's then-producer of choice David Briggs. The result was a blissfully jammed out rawk record cut live in the studio, and a presage for the remainder of Trux' run.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


the old hit meter rolled over 1000 hits already.  in honor of this most arbitrary metric, everyone gets high this weekend.