Andre Williams - Red Dirt
Architect - Galactic Supermarket
Art of Noise - The Seduction of Claude Debussy
Bill Rieflin - Birth of a Giant
Dementor - The Art of Blasphemy
The Donnas - Get Skin Tight
The Evil Tambourines - Library Nation
Haslinger - Score
Iron Halo Device - The Collapsing Void
Mammoth Volume - Mammoth Volume
Pere Ubu - Dub Housing/New Picnic Time/Apocalypse Now
Primal Fear - Jaws of Death
Satyricon - Intermezzo
Scanner - Lauwarm Instrumentals
Sinergy - Beware the Heavens
Slipknot - Slipknot
Super Furry Animals - Guerilla
Ween - Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live '90-'98
If Johnny Cash didn't just wear black, if James Brown had a
country-western backup band, if Ike Turner could define the word
irony, these records might sound like Andre Williams and the Sadies'
new album on Jon Langford's (of Mekons fame) Bloodshot Records.
Williams, who historically falls somewhere between musical footnote
and rock godfather, rapped his way through such infamous numbers as
"Jail Bait" and "Bacon Fat" over twenty years before anyone knew to
even call it rap, and produced and wrote hits like "Shake a Tail
Feather" for early Chicago soul acts.
More recently, Williams' charmingly dirty-minded small label recordings have earned him, if not a cult following (which might be overstating his popularity), then at least the interest of a small group of independent aficionados. Last year's Silky (for Red Dirt Records) provided such guilty pleasures as "Bonin'," "Looking Down at You--Looking Up at Me," and "Pussy Stank." Red Dirt continues in a similar line, only rather than the garage rock of the last outing, the Sadies provide Williams with a country backdrop for such typical (for him at least) musings as "She's a Bag of Potato Chips" and "My Sister Stole My Woman."
But Williams is no mere novelty act. He embraces his songs with such aplomb (the unapologetic vulgarity, the nearly misogynous attitudes), one almost can't help but watch (or listen as the case may be) as Williams walks a tightrope, teetering between trash and camp.
I'm not exactly sure when this disk was released. But I've had it on order for sometime now and I just got it, so it's new to me. I hope you have an easier time finding it than I did. But for all the stuff you can get released from under one of Daniel Myer's many pseudonym, Architect should be, for all intents and purposes, the easiest to get. Because it is by far the most fully realized project he has going right now.
All instrumental, Galactic Supermarket's drum 'n' bass underpinnings are postitioned perfectly against spacy, dark-wave digi-noise that will have your head reeling with intoxication. And again, Daniel proves that he is at the top of the heap of electronic artists when he creates soundscapes that drive themselves deeper into your psyche than you thought possible.
The disk is a futuristic drug of sorts as track two, "Postgate," opens with washes of warm drones that instantly put you afloat. Machine layer after machine layer of space goo gets painted into huge canvases of pure euphoric dope. Track 4, "Random UFO," will abduct your perception of reality with its complexity and structure and before you realize it, seven minutes of your life is gone. By the time it all ends, you're gonna need to pinch yourself to make sure you're still real.
The packaging for this disk is the single best use of a jewel case that I have ever seen. I would own this just for the artwork. The sleeves are clear plastic; this coupled with translucent green ink and ultra high-tech clean line design perfectly portray the nature of the music within. Check out mail order catalog Isolation Tank for the easiest way to procure this disk. It is a must have for any Daniel Meyer fan.
Art of Noise
The Seduction of Claude Debussy
"Imagine an actor saying the following" is the exhortation which
signals the return of The Art of Noise, the beginning of a journey to
the past, present and future. Reuniting Trevor Horn and Anne Dudley
and assisted by Lol Creme and Paul Morley, The Seduction of Claude
Debussy picks up where In No Sense? Nonsense! left us, merging
sweeping orchestration with spoken word interludes, all wreathed
around drum 'n' bass (lite), operatic singers, and one
just-where-the-Hell-has-he-been? rapper. Ostensibly a history lesson
on the mindset of Claude Debussy during his final days, The
Seduction is a romp that is intended to inspire as much as it is to
educate. "When Debussy died on March 25th, 1918 in Paris, it was
being bombarded by the Germans, and it was raining." The emphasis is
not on the historical events of the first World War, but rather the
weather. We are here to focus on the artistic, not the literal, passage
There is a certain lasciviousness spilling throughout the liner notes, a charge to understand the fire which infused Debussy's music which has touched The Art of Noise as well. You get the feeling that this was a reunion prompted not by greed or desire to recapture the past (Dudley has been busy since '87 scoring films and finally won an Oscar for her work on The Full Monty in 1997). This is The Art of Noise looking to the future with "the heart of the nineteenth century on a twentieth century sleeve with a twenty-first century gleam in the eye." Their reworking of the present to make way for the future has moved beyond strict sampling to the collation of musical ideas and memes to craft something grander. Sure, they use just enough of a house beat on a few tracks and a brief flirtation with drum 'n' bass to tie them to the current "electronica" vogue, and the inclusion of Rakim on "Metaforce" might smack of an attempt to gain cred with the hip hop community, but this is The Art of Noise, for crissakes! It is a fine line between indulgent wankery and striking out on a new path. John Hurt (the celebrity voice) reminds us that Debussy was "the revolutionary who started 20th century music on its way." Who's to say that The Art of Noise isn't doing the same for 21st century music? This is Heraclitus' river: you can't go back and you can't stay in the same place, you can only go forward. You can only build on what has passed prior, you can only be pushed onward by the weight and tide behind you.
Birth of a Giant
First World Music
Every blue moon or so an album comes around that makes you realize
just how much you've pigeonholed your own musical tastes. You think
you've grown beyond genre labeling for your preferences and are
almost able to say with a straight face, "Oh, I don't know. I like
everything." But that ignores the fact that, in your own head, you've
got your favorites. I bought Bill Rieflin's Birth of a Giant
because I know his work from Ministry (especially the salad days of
Land of Rape and Honey and Psalm 69). I'm really enjoying Birth
of a Giant because it doesn't sound anything like Ministry.
"I really enjoy musical situations where I'm the wild card..." Bill admits on the First World web site and his first album under his own name exploits that jack-of-all-trades streak in him as he sings, drums, percusses, organs, and probably dances around the studio as well. Getting assistance from other improvisational rascals like Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn, Chris Connelly, and Mark Walk only improve the mix. This is the type of album that relishes listing the instrumentation in the liner notes: the "paranoid guitar," the "drunken siren," the "drum warpage," the "freight train guitar," the "earnest vox," and the "disco organ." This is the sound of a bunch of guys having a great time in the studio.
The tracks focus around driving rhythms, naturally, realizing Bill's handiwork these last ten years. But the pleasant surprise is his laconic voice. I'll admit a lack of time spent wading through alterna-rockers du jour to be able to give up a more specific reference point for his voice (though it does remind me a great deal of Chris Connelly's), but let's just call it warm, moody, and reminiscent of Bryan Ferry and David Bowie. Throw in a couple of funky little instrumentals and you've got the ingredients for a superb little album, perfect for long drives along the coast when the sun threatens to shine. Rieflin has patiently crafted a great album to bear his name and for his first, it is a definite landmark. This giant has sprung forth fully formed.
The Art of Blasphemy
The music: brutal, bass-heavy death metal played with incredible
speed and extraordinary technical prowess. The art: definitely
Satanic and anti-Christian to the hilt. This may be the most
blasphemous concept disc ever produced. If you are at all sensitive
to truly blasphemous merchandise, this is not for you. Even if
blasphemy is up your aisle, do not look directly at the disc, severe
and permanent soul-binding could occur. The art is really
stomach-turning and lives up to the disc name. Unfortunately, the
music isn't nearly as bad as the subject matter, just very
overshadowed by the band's extreme iwannabeevilness. Here are the
song titles: "Devil's Rebirth," "The False Faith," "Time for Death,"
"Waiting for Death," "Love," "Requiem to the Cursed Lust," "The Art
of Blasphemy," "The Taste of Dead Meat," "Café of Eternity" and the
clincher "The Eyes of the Beast." The closest equivalent band would
be Krisiun. Slovakian-born Dementor is out to show the world that
they are talented and very anti-Christian. I'd say if blasphemy is an
art, this is the Louvre.
Get Skin Tight
Rid of former Svengali songwriter Darin Raffaelli, who penned most of
the tunes on their first two releases, power punk pop quartet The
Donnas go all the way rock and roll with their current release Get
Skin Tight. Sure, the lyrics recall more Paul Stanley than, say,
T.S. Eliot, but these songs possess an honesty that rings true to
other rock and roll girls and to boys who dig strong chicks. The
Donnas are chicas who party, acknowledge the sometimes necessary love
'em and leave 'em situations by killer guitar leads, pounding drum
beats and catchy lines. Whereas the first albums displayed their
Ramones meets The Ronnettes meet The Runaways influence, this new
release blends those sounds and adds the band's admiration for pop
metal à la Kiss, Ratt and Aerosmith. Unlike the Lita Fords and the
Tori Amoses (ever think you'd see those names together in one
sentence?) of the world, the Donnas' brand of rock and roll
transcends gender without compromising their integrity and without
taking themselves too seriously. The Donnas have found the perfect
balance of being cool while openly admitting to their guilty pleasure
of being Cinderella fans (no, not Disney, more like '80s Tom Keifer).
"You Don't Want to Call" has that Phil Spector wall-of-sound and like
the Ramones' sentimental "My Kind of Girl" feel. "I Didn't Like
You Anyway" takes back the commiserating over an ending to a
relationship with the Donnas spelling "B-O-R-I-N-G...too bad you're
not the boy for me...You thought I would be broken hearted, Maybe I
would if you weren't so retarded..." Yeah! "Get Out of My Room"
suggests the life of a music fan who'd choose music over a lame guy
anyway: "Get the hell out, get out of my room and take your hands off
the volume." Besides having one of the better covers this year, this
CD is great for getting over a breakup or as the soundtrack to your
summertime fun; Get Skin Tight, has what it takes to keep you
The Evil Tambourines
Representing the 206, indie hip hop artists the Evil Tambourines'
debut, Library Nation, takes the ol' school vibe of De La Soul and
Run DMC and combines it with beats and textures of the pre-millennium
variety. With a smattering of local players: Hi Fi Killers' John Horn
(bass, guitar, multi-echo), Sharpshooters' Stuart MacDonald (sax) and
Jim Sisko (trumpet), Truly's Robert Roth (mellotron, flute, memory
moog), Built to Spill's Scott Plouf (drums), Kip Beelman (background
vocals), Chip Butters (background vocals), John Rodde (congas,
bongos), Lois' Lois Maffeo (additonal vocals), Some Velvet Sidewalk's
Al Larsen (additional vocals), the Evil Tambourines' primaries are
Andy Poehlman and Tobias Flowers. Produced by Steve Fisk and Larsen,
Library Nation has a positive vibe to it overall. It's no wonder
the press seems to speak of hip hop's greener days when talking about
this disk with songs like "Rollerskate!" with its pulsating bass line
and lo-fi Tobias shouting out: "C'mon, let's skate!" Makes you think
of those fun days of the seventh grade and couples skate. "Saturn"
sounds like a galactic traffic jam with car horns honking to a funky
syncopated beat with its "Fuckit, let's have some fun." "Library
Nation" sounds like a hybrid of something off Maggot Brain and
Tribe's Low End Theory. Though it lends the listener to reminisce,
Library Nation displays a truth about Seattle's music community
present tense: from rock to punk to hip hop to drum and bass and
jazz, our multifaceted musicians appreciate all music genres and can
do it all. Library Nation, like fiesta orange shag or pea green
mohair, makes the listener warm and fuzzy in funky, nostalgic trip.
A lone opening chord echoes and I begin to think, "Great, another
boring techno-ambient album." But before I can get past "another,"
the languor is torn apart by an electronic noise I can only identify
by making up a term: digital scribbling. A light techno beat kicks
in, then a heavier one. Julianna Raye's sumptuous vocals join in, her
moans grow in their sensual seducation. A sultry jazz trumpet, a
distant horn section, swirls of synthesizers.
And this is only the first song.
"The Infinite Jest" takes you from Kabuki to a guitar riff reminiscent of "In the House" from Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop, themes and lines competing for your attention as with a street market. The only song on the album with organized lyrics (sung again--and written--by Raye), the delectable pop of "When Worlds Collide" could be the theme song to a film, worthy of any classic James Bond. After concentrating solely on Raye's stunning voice, the next track, "The Real Question (Is...)," samples her as a jumping-off point on a global journey among vocal samples.
While Score mixes samples, trance, techno, jazz, multiple world musics and hints of industrial, it's not a seamless blend--Haslinger doesn't even try to make it so (the back liner label of "rare groove/urban lounge/cine-fi/fringe-pop" gives a hint at the difficulty, and his willingness, to categorize this). These "incongruous" juxtapositions are what make this album so interesting, providing plenty of opportunity to examine the different nuances and combinations each listen brings out. Yet there is never a feeling of forced commingling, as so often happens with this many flavors; Haslinger is a master sonic chef, well aware of the subtle interactions of the multitude of spices at his command.
As indicated by the title, Haslinger's film scoring skills (as a member of Tangerine Dream from 1986-90, and continuing collaborations with Graeme Revell) are incredibly evident here; every song works its way into your awareness, and fills your senses through synaesthesia. Detailed scenes are enacted in your mind, from a chase through a Chinatown market ("Magheda") to the eruption of civil disobedience ("This Station") to the chaotic frenzy of celebration which ends the record ("New India"). This is one film which, if it existed, I would eagerly anticipate seeing solely on the strength of its Score.
Iron Halo Device
The Collapsing Void
I'd almost swear Phil Easter (the man behind Iron Halo Device) broke
into my house one weekend and helped himself to a handful of CDs. An
hour long mix of live and studio material that is unlike any you have
ever heard, The Collapsing Void is the screaming, agonizing wail of
your music collection being reconstructed and deconstructed and
stretched to the bare edge of recognition. For the last few months,
I've been reading his .sig line ("Take it apart. Put it together
again. Mold it like putty.") and, until now, haven't really
understood how much of a Prime Directive that is for his creative
process. The Collapsing Void is a stunning whirlwind of cataclysmic
noise and ferocious sonic battering and the best hooks of all your
favorite songs. The beauty of this album may be that there is nothing
to be heard; it may just be a fusion of static and loops. My
imagination could be trying to find anchors in the music; it could be
my feeble need for "order" that hears Black Sabbath, Dead Can Dance,
the Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails (and I'm sure
that's not even a quarter of what is layered here). The angelic choir
rising out of the squeaks and blasts of steam and the thunderous
beginning of Curve's "On the Wheel" looped back at half speed may
simply be my consciousness supplying a sound which I can understand
to the tumult rising from my speakers.
This is the soundtrack of your mind as it drowns in the overwhelming ocean of sound which inundate us; this is the sound of your breakdown; this is the voice of shadows tittering in the corners of your room as they lie in ambush; this is the sound of Anarchy chewing at the edges of your psyche, gnawing and tearing at the collected nodules of your memory; this is the sound radio astronomers will hear as the Big Bang reaches its limit and comes rushing back at us; this is the sound of Chaos captured and mixed by the hand of man.
I found myself getting out of bed early next morning simply to listen to this album again. This is the story of a man seduced by Chaos, crawling back for his next fix.
TMC/The Music Cartel
Usually I cringe when I hear the word "experimental" describing a
band, but in this rare case, don't even flinch. Mammoth Volume are
some badass Swedes playing heavy experimental rock with crazy
psychedelic flourishes and tempered with cool jazz breaks. Jorgen
Andersson utilizes actual vocal chords and sings. A change of pace
for me, but hey, it works. I don't want anyone to misunderstand Jorgen
isn't any Kimberly Goss (see Sinergy), but he isn't your average
death-metal growler. He strikes a rough medium that is refreshing.
Andersson takes off on "Matthew 6:21" a truly temperate jazz
slab. (Anyone else think it's probably a tribute of sorts to Matthew
Shipp? I was just wondering.) Daniel Gustafsson cranks out some
killer riffs that move and groove songs like "Seagull,"
"Morningsong," "Family Tree," "The Pinball Referee" and "Super
Runner" into a cranky, rocking doom groove that would do Electric
Wizard or Cathedral (think Black Sabbath) proud. Nicklas
Andersson's drums fill the gap and propel Kalle Berlin's bombing
bass. These guys aren't all doom, though. They lighten up and rock on
"Dervish Song" and "Horizon." Mammoth Volume get all wooly and pump out some psychedelic blues grooves on "Her Hair" that would leave Blue Cheer salivating. "Closer to the Sun" takes a mellow folk approach that skirts around rock. They apparently have no formula. They are just brilliant jammers, though. This is great cruising music. I'm surprised that this band isn't all over radio--"Seagull" and "Morningsong" are incredible. Oddly enough, it also has a killer '60s kitsch op-art cover with a brown jewel case...and it's good. And I avoided asking you to play at Mammoth Volume. Oops. Sorry, I just couldn't resist.
Dub Housing/New Picnic Time/Apocalypse Now
Internet utopianists would have us believe that the Web will render
the hard-to-find obsolete, that a Borgesian labyrinth containing all
the world's texts and music will free us from the inconvenience of
ever having to be without any information. If this proves true, it
will be a shame. What a joy to find that long sought out-of-print
paperback in the mustty shelves of Manhattan's Strand Bookstore, or a rare vinyl never released on CD in the back bins of Amoeba in San
Gone too would be the pleasures of reissues. And what pleasures Thirsty Ear Records' re-release of Pere Ubu's second and third albums--Dub Housing and New Picnic Time--offer. Last available on 1995's Ubu boxed set (a prohibitively expensive option for many), these recording haven't been available individually in a decade (Rough Trade last put them out in 1989). The fact that these are hugely influential and landmark recordings, however, often obscure one simple fact--these albums are damn fine, and lots of fun. Dub Housing may be the better effort (New Picnic Time is just a bit too loose and unstructured), but both are strangely beautiful and melodic despite, and often because of, Ubu's typical penchant for experimenting.
Also just out from Thirsty Ear is Apocalypse Now, a recording of a 1991 Chicago Ubu concert. Taped on only a two track digital, the CD has some rough sonic edges, but these only add to its surprising warmth. Pleasures abound here as well--Thomas' good humor (ordering a Remy Martin from the stage and dedicating "Busman's Honeymoon" to Ralph Kramden because "life is one crazy busdriver"), Eric Feldman's honky-tonk upright (a welcome contrast to the usual Ubu electronics), and even a tantalizing fragment of the Stooges' "I Want to Be Your Dog."
True, it's unfortunate these recordings have for a decade been so difficult to obtain. Yet--like the difference between seeing wildlife in a zoo and actually catching glimpses of a creature in the wild--there is much to be said for patience and effort (qualities Pere Ubu has always demanded of its listeners). As David Thomas himself has said, "We [may] have the technology," but these releases were worth the wait.
Jaws of Death
Formerly the lead vocalist of Gamma Ray, Ralf Scheepers took off to
form his version of German power metal, Primal Fear. A little more
out of the '80s than Gamma Ray, Scheepers has formed an alliance that
allows him to perform an updated neo-NWOBHM Germanic power metal to
the utmost of his ability. He doesn't stray too far from the power
metal mold. I wished he would push the band in a more extreme
direction. Scheepers vocals are considerably less treble than many of
his contemporaries, but is still shy of hitting death metal
territory...way shy. Fear not, hair metallers, you will revel in the
many explosive melodies and arpeggioed guitar solos. Scheepers even
squeals out the occasional high note, but stays very mid-range
mostly. Best song is definitely the dynamic "Final Embrace." Not as
'80s as Blind Guardian or Gamma Ray, but not as '90s as Meshuggah or
Machine Head or even Fear Factory.
They have a small still-cool-metal territory shared with contemporaries Iced Earth. Point of pride for Floridians--Jaws of Death was recorded at Tampa's Morrisound Studios.
Very artsy black metal with tons of little industrial touches. A
little on the short side--only four songs. Even then, some of the
songs feel unfinished. This disc leaves you with the feeling that you
are missing something. That somehow a joke or story has been told and
you just don't get it and you really want to understand. You just
keep listening to the disc time and again thinking this time it will
all fit. I don't know, man, it just never has...yet. But it is
maddeningly addictive. I just can't explain it and I guess that's the
best recommendation I can give. It has forced me to listen
repeatedly, held my attention and I still am searching through the
songs trying to make it all have meaning. It just seems like it
should. This is a compelling listen.
The music is undeniably good, all the members of Satyricon are accomplished musicians. Satyr's vocals are incredible--they are not the traditional black croaking/screaming, but an emotional blend of sounds that can alternate warmth with unbelievable creepiness. Intermezz takes the listener from blazing black metal to ethereal gothic to computer-driven industrial and back to the black in a cdep. Intermezzo is just a warm-up for Rebel Extravaganza which is due out in Fall. Satyricon are the smartest smirking metallers on the market. I have a feeling they are just laughing at all of us. They not only stand out from the burgeoning black metal crowd, they are laughing at them too.
Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner made his early mark by laying down
intercepted cell phone calls and police scanner transmissions,
layering these stolen words against drifting ambient backgrounds.
With Lauwarm Instrumentals (released on his own Sulphur imprint),
he moves beyond "intercepted" word and dives headlong into an
atmospheric ambience which breathes and throbs with its own dark
"Immemory" begins with a woman's voice, a recording scratched and fuzzed beyond recognition. Rimbaud starts where we expect him to: with the human voice; but the voice is never clear, never distinct. It breaks up, dissolving under a progressive beat that builds and builds like an upthrust of volcanic matter until it breaks the surface and erupts. As if this beat, this rhythm, has been fighting beneath his skin long enough and he has finally let it loose. "Immemory" ends with a thundering rush, a rain of stars falling from the sky after the explosion, obliterating the landscape of the past. Rimbaud pushes us into the future.
And his future is definitely built on a graveyard of the past. "Passage de Recherche" is a lost Victorian soundtrack replete with ghostly voices and the fog of a dark landscape. "Sonnenlicht" brings to mind the atmosphere of old John Carpenter films (when they actually had atmosphere of their own) before it scuttles onto its own path. The expansive "Lithia Water" is a drum and bass excursion with symphonic overtones.
Rimbaud delivers a dark, moody environment with Lauwarm Instrumentals. He has clearly heard the music and ambience of his contemporaries and, much like his scanner pieces of old, is not afraid to appropriate what he has heard. But his appropriation is much more sublime; he takes sensations and feelings and melds them into something larger, something darker. It isn't your voice that he's captured this time, it's your emotions.
Beware the Heavens
An all-star assembly--wow! Kimberly Goss on lead vocals (from Dimmu
Borgir); Jesper Stromblad on pyrotechnic rhythm guitar (from In
Flames); Alexi Laiho on equally pyrotechnic lead guitars (from
Children of Bodom); Sharlee D'Angelo on hyperactive bass guitar (from
Witchery and Mercyful Fate); Ronny Milianowicz on
Wow-this-is-his-first-notable-band drums. From all those heavy-ass
bands and they shed the heaviness for flamboyant, pyrotechnic power
metal with operatic female vocals that would make Pat Benatar run in
fear. I worry about metal bands when they describe themselves as
"multi-textural metal loveliness" and it fits. I'm shaking with fear
This is an incredibly talented grouping that is most likely a fleeting experience. Goss' vocals are beautiful. She is perhaps way too talented for metal. Stromblad is so seamless as a guitarist that he is almost fluid. Laiho is so speedy and flamboyant that he would embarrass lesser guitarists than Stromblad. D'Angelo is arguably one of the greatest metal bassists ever. So this should pack a wallop. Does it? It has punch, but not like Tyson, more like Roy Jones Jr. Speedy and pretty. Sometimes this gets all metally and speedy and it rocks real nice (note the nice) like in "Venomous Vixens," "Swarmed" and "The Warrior Princess". Sometimes it just rides the line between banality and sophistication like "The Fourth World," "Virtual Future" and "Beware The Heavens." Sometimes it sounds as though it was a soundtrack tune written by Katatonia and Burt Bacharach as in "Born Unto Fire and Passion," "Pulsation" and "Razor Blade Salvation." These are not all good things. But they are not necessarily bad, either. Sinergy has a certain energy and a lot of talent, but may need to develop a few more ideas before the next disc. Neat purple jewel case.
Everyday is Halloween
Pluck nine freak-a-zoids from the middle of nowhere (Des Moines, Iowa to be exact) with matching coveralls à la Devo, the masked horror of those creeps from Hellraiser, and the bombastic hybrid of hard-core-gansta-thrash malevolence played with all the chaos of a crashing jetliner and you get a hint at what Slipknot looks and sounds like.
Children of the Corn
Keep Me in the Loop
Must See to Appreciate
Super Furry Animals
What's this? Dub, punk, calypso, disco, acoustic ballads and hushed
techno interludes. Some kind of mix tape? No, no. It's Guerilla,
the latest from the Super Furry Animals. And as often as these Welsh
lads defy categorization with each release, they've upped the ante
once again by not only releasing something afield from previous
efforts, but also creating an album that changes sound and mood
during its course of play. This album has some lush production that's
best experienced with the lights down low, body on the floor,
speakers nestled between the ears and the smoke off a big toke
curling out on the lips. From the trip-hop strings of the opening
number, "Check It Out," Guerilla rockets off with the amped up rush
of "Do or Die," and its tight, crunchy guitar. The album then drops
into the slow tempo, very prog-rockish number "The Turning Tide."
What? Prog rock? But before you have time to scratch your head and
figure out what exactly has happened, and whether it's a good thing
or not, the Super Furries pull the carpet out from underneath your
musical sensibilities and drop the calypso tinted "Northern Lites" on
your head, replete with steel drums and horn section. Yup, steel
drums and horns. Then it's back up top the roller coaster ride for
another rocker, this time "Night Vision," with its catchy "na na
na's." From the cartoonish dub of "Wherever I Lay My Phone (That's My
Home)" and "The Door To This House Remains Open" to the somber "Some
Things Come From Nothing" and the album's closer, the Beatles-esque
"Keep The Cosmic Trigger Happy," the Super Furries have thrown in so
many twists, turns and loops on Guerilla that it should be an
E-ticket ride. Their ability at crafting a widely diverse album while
keeping a childish irreverence about the whole process makes
Guerilla a definite keeper, something to be filed along with those
warm memories of H.R. Puff 'N' Stuff and Land of the Lost and
other Saturday morning cartoons.
Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live '90-'98
What couldn't you say about Ween that wouldn't be true? In the age of
complete and utter electronic overkill, Ween releases a double-live
set of pure rock & roll. Through the early '90s of PC nausea, Ween
flew in the face of politically correct by screaming favorites like
"bitch, you fucked up you fuckin' nazi whore" and adorning records
like Chocolate and Cheese with tits and ass galore. "Push the
Little Daisies" was the only song more requested than Nirvana's
"Smells like Teen Spirit." Just when you thought they had a radio
hit, they release 12 Golden Country Greats. And I think it must
have been during the '70s, but I can't remember the last time I heard
a song over 5 minutes. Paintin' the Town Brown contains a 26 minute
version of "Poopship Destroyer." And thank God.
Chronicling Ween's eight year touring history, Paintin' the Town Brown documents in glorifying (and horrifying) color, all the versions of the live band including a particularly feisty Gene and Dean playing all by their lonesome with a drum machine. If you have ever seen Ween live then you know that no matter what song they play, you can count on it being at least 5 minutes longer than the album version and injected with the standard antics and chaos. And they do all of this without skipping a beat. Throughout, the humor is intact and playing is amazing. This is the definitive Ween fan record, not including a lot of the songs that you would expect to be there, but an offering of the more obscure songs only a fan could love ("Mushroom Festival in Hell," "Awesome Sound," "Mister Would You Please Help My Pony" and a sublime "Marble Tulip Juicy Tree").
The liner notes, written by Dean his bad self, are hysterical and tearjerking. The disk even boasts an interactive website thing. Gene and Dean Ween are beautiful, they make the world a much more interesting place to be in.