Wednesday, 27 February 2013

The Zoo Is Cool

Couch Flambeau
The Zoo Is Cool

Great stuff from Nowheresville USA in 1985. Pretty unique I guess and a little bit funny. Saw this on the interweb about 5 years ago when I'd never heard of em.  Like J Mascis's  funny dork of a cousin  who was into MX80.

Peter Shapiro and Philip Brophy contribute to this months Wire. Shapiro does a primer on US Hardcore. It's one of those scenes that's got a lot of naffness and Shapiro isn't shy in pointing that out. It's the stuff with a bit of wit that really stands out. I mean Black Flag embody the scenes good/bad qualities. On the same record they would have something funny in a trashy yob rock stylee like TV Party then a woefully whingey track like Depression or Damaged II. Shapiro is one of my favourite music writers of all time but I have to pull him up on one sentence where he claims Husker Du didn't "devolve into emo's woe is me whining." Hmmm.... I'm not so sure about that. No Angry Samoans in the feature either, were they a little too homophobic? Not hardcore enough?

That previously mentioned Nuts & Co. LP from France in 1982 has been getting a fair airing around these parts. Kangourou is a lost treasure of post-punk. Young Marble Giants minimalism crossed with The Residents warp factor and you're about half way. Towards the end it goes into an almost communal demented exotica zone that you wouldn't have expected at the start. This record has had me going back to post-punk and experimental stuff like the label M Squared's a Selection and the Innocent Label compilation New music 1978/79 which have definite parallels as well as Der Plan's Geri Reig, Minny Pops' Drastic Measures, Drastic Movement,  2+2=5's Into The Future and Duck Stab & Eskimo by The Residents.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


As stated previously I've just discovered this late psych rock gem from 1978. I know nothing about Marcus but I'm loving this LP From The House Of Trax. Ween and Ariel Pink must be fans.

Got a theme going here. I was first introduced to Black Widow about 10 years ago whilst getting my hair cut at a hipster's barber shop. This was being pumped full volume throughout the shop while the barbers sang all the words. I couldn't believe I'd never heard this fabulous record before. The entire Sacrifice LP is classic. Funky progressive satanic rock!

What's Goin On?

These are the main reasons I've not been posting much this year. I have a computer that's busted. I have 2 cd players that aren't working and a turntable that needs a new stylus. I can play tapes and my i-pod through the stereo but that's about it. I'm not in the zone for writing about music and culture. It doesn't feel right doing it on another computer where all my files aren't. I have the new Umberto album but I can't find it so no comment there. I've been listening to Trick Or Treat, the LP Ariel Pink did with VDO (some Mutant Sounds folk) under the name Shits & Giggles pre 4AD signing. Also just discovered Marcus's 1978 LP From The House Of Trax. Another new discovery is Nuts & Co's Kangouruo LP from like 1984. I have to thank the awesome Mutant Sounds once again for alerting me to these last 2. They do have their problems over there though with Rapidshare and stuff which I hope gets all sorted. I tried to download 6 things but I only got 2. They're still the best! I even started reading David Toop's Ocean Of Sound which has been on my shelf for years and I've never been in the mood to read it!  Hopefully Cardrossmaniac2 (ab)normality will be resumed soon.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sonic Youth - Smart Bar Chicago 1985

This Smart Bar Chicago 1985 cd takes you right to the heart of the beginning of Sonic Youth's reign as the premier American underground band. This is where the noise meets the rock and the rock is introduced to the pop. I dig Confusion Is Sex and Bad Moon Rising and even though most of the material for this live date comes from Bad Moon Rising, it's different. I always thought Sonic Youth progressed quite naturally but upon hearing this I started to think that perhaps Steve Shelley was the catalyst for a more accessible, fluid and rock Sonic Youth. He was not long in the band when this concert was recorded. He injects new life into these tracks (that were played on Bad Moon Rising by Bob Bert) and you can hear the future Sonic Youth starting to come together.  Songs take on a (Can-esque) flow motion that was previously non existent. This is where the No Wave noise and post hardcore sounds begin to be sculptured into something more beautiful and sensual. This is exemplified here on an early version of Expressway To Yr Skull.  1985 was the first time I read about Sonic Youth in Juke magazine. In that article they were discussing Bad Moon Rising, the 60s, Charlie Manson and John Fogerty's comeback. The band were photographed with a scarecrow. This article/image stuck in my brain but it would have been 2 years at least until I first heard their music with Schizophrenia on the airwaves of RRR whilst visiting the big smoke.

Maybe it was the disappointment of m b v that made me buy Smart Bar Chicago 1985 and go back to MBV's original influences. Just before I dug out Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me, I listened to Isn't Anything. This LP immediately transported me back to the late 80s. Glory days I suppose. My Bloody Valentine were once raw and incredibly melodic. Their other unsung triumph was their wicked rhythm section that was sometimes at the forefront of a tune. There was light, shade, claustrophobia, ecstasy and surrealism. What happened? More to the point do I really care now? The mourning was done some time ago. We've got the old records and they're brilliant as are those of their contemporaneous influences. The aforementioned Dinosaur LP has been cranked up real loud over this last week and its blistering blissful vistas have had me ecstatic. What can I say? Wow! Geez I would love to have been writing at that time. It was so exciting and fertile. The great thing is that, that excitement is contained within some of those records still.

The live Sonic Youth cd has of course had me listening back to their Evol and Sister LPs. Is their anything left to say about those records? Except they still sound fucking awesome in 2013. I don't know where First Born Is Dead by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds fits in to all this but I've been giving that a spin too. That was a fabulous and strange record! They were just a weird little four piece band then. Blixa, Barry, Mick (on drums) and Nick. It's such a sparse LP and so powerful!

All these groups were influences on the young My Bloody Valentine.

So if you ever wondered (I haven't until now) what Bad Moon Rising would have sounded like with Steve Shelley on the skins check out Smart Bar Chicago 1985.

Retromania moves in mysterious ways. I'm in the mid to late 80s now.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

m b v - My Bloody Valentine

It just came out of the blue. If you can call waiting for 22 years for a follow up to one of the all time great albums out of the blue. What I mean is it was put out with little fanfare. Kevin Shields said the other day it might be coming out soon and then bang there it was on their website. Some people were paying attention though as the website crashed due to immense traffic. I heard one track on youtube Wonder 2 and got a little excited. The next day I'd bought the LP, cd and download for more than 40 dollars. So a nostalgic vibe took over. What was I really expecting though? Surely I wasn't expecting them to blow my mind at this late stage was I? Can they still make dizzy music to disconcert?

In 1996 I was still hopeful about the follow up to Loveless. There were reports of the tracks being jungle and metal influenced. This kept me interested for a few years. Eventually though I came to the realisation that it was never going to come out. Then I was of the opinion that perhaps this was a good thing. Retire at your peak. Nice. Have years of meltdowns, budget blowouts and scrapped half finished albums. This will all add to the mystique and they will become legendary well, more legendary.

22 years on from Loveless and the innovations have become common place. The radical normalised. 22 years of artists pillaging this treasure chest have almost(?) made My Bloody Valentine redundant. So what could MBV have to offer us now? When Loveless came out there were even a few people who said "Is that it?' The shoegaze brigade (Slowdive, Curve, Lush, Pale Saints, Boo Radleys et al.) had already started using and abusing MBV's legacy which perhaps made Loveless less startling than it should have been. Then groups like Seefeel, Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation etc. expanded upon MBV's frontiers and perhaps took their blueprint to several logical conclusions. MBV kept being a name checked influence throughout the 90, 00s and 10s. I personally have failed to keep up with the new shoegazers. The last things I heard were from 10 years ago when Pluramon and M83 began exhibiting a heavy MBV influence. The lineage continues to this day apparently with Deerhunter and the like carrying the torch.

The (non) marketing of m b v caught me a little off guard and I was swept up in nostalgic momentum. Wonder 2 is probably the best track on the LP, well at the moment it's only actually an mp3. The first half of m b v has the hazy sweet languidity part of the Loveless equation but lacks the other half ie. the noisy and chaotic undercurrent. These two yin and yang elements are what make My Bloody Valentine  so great. So it's nice but feels half finished. Where are the manic pop thrills?

Then along comes track six New You. I don't really know what to make of this track at all. It just feels wrong. Is this where I say nadir? Is it some kind of attempt at a MOR crossover? It just comes across like a bad Phoenix outtake. Next is In Another Way and thank god! It's a fucking MBV classic with all the elements that we know and love, but is it too little too late? Track 8 Nothing Is sounds like an attempt at a Meat Puppets instrumental?? Finally it's wonder 2. The album starts to really hit its stride with this dose of swirling and shape shifting psychedelia. Then the album's done. It's finished and you're left feeling a little bewildered.

m b v sounds like it could have come out in 1993 as a kind of follow up/companion piece to Loveless. What happened to the metal? Where's the jungle? Those recordings seem to have been scrapped and Kevin, Belinda, Colm and Debbie have gone for a Ramones/ACDC move ie. If it ain't broke don't fix it. They've settled on their bag of tricks and they've decided to sail in conservative waters.  Was there nowhere else to go? Did others get there first? Was there too much second guessing? Were the scrapped recordings shite? How did that winning streak from the You Made Me Realise EP to Loveless come to such a bizarre end? Are these the questions that have plagued Kevin Shields' mind for the last 22 years?

Monday, 4 February 2013

2013 has begun

I was about to write a post asking the question: Has 2013 started yet? A quick look on the internet made me go er.. maybe ....Ducktails have a new record...I should track that down. I was about to go to bed then I realised this

But I've left the computer cord at work and it's about to run out uuuurrrrrggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Boring Monday Night

it was either watching Master Chef or some other shite tonight. Luckily I went on the interweb and found this on Hardly Baked one of Simon Reynolds other blogs. This is a true time capsule and fuck me it made my week if not my month actually. Simon found it on the Our God Is Speed blog who in turn found it on the Exile On Moan St blog. So I thought I'd continue the tradition and pass it on. This is an incredible glimpse into Berlin in 1983. Even more so though, is the glimpse you get of the British idea of Berlin and Germany in 1983. It's got Die Haut, Malaria, Einsturzende Neubauten, etc.

This is as German as I got in 1983. This really swings!, quite unexpectedly. I thought Nena was the biggest spunk (er...that's Australian for good looking) I'd ever seen. That final part of The Tube In Berlin Special where a British guy is at the Russian War Memorial reminded me of this song which I haven't heard since about 1984. If I recall correctly she had a follow up single I really loved as well but I can't remember the title of that. Oh hang on here it is!