Showing posts with label LA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LA. Show all posts

Thursday, 30 July 2015

DJ Mustard - The Mixtape Volume 1 (10 Summers)

After the disappointing 10 Summers album of last year I didn't think I'd be going back to DJ Mustard at all. I thought his time was up and it was time to move on but after listening to RJ & Choice's Rich Off Mackin my mind was swayed to believe he still had something to give. You would have thought he'd have distanced himself from the 10 Summers title though, so it's a little odd that he recycles it for this much improved release. I assume Choice who turns up here is the same man as Royce The Choice of the great Midnight Run which was my favourite tune from DJ Mustard's brilliant Ketchup mixtape from 2013. Anyway Choice along with RJ dominate this mixtape appearing on a third of the tunes. Mustard's old mates Teeflii, Ty Dolla $ign and TC4800 pop up on a tune or two each. YG is is conspicuous by his absence. Iamsu! from the HBK Gang is a fabulous new Mustard trump card. Iamsu! should be as big as Kanye and perhaps he will be. He's got the pop smarts with a delivery that's 2010s rap perfection. Broke Boy is soo good, surely it would be a no 1 smash if released as a single. Mustard is upping the R&B dosage and cutting back the banger intake but that's not a bad thing at all. There's nothing worse than a tune wanting to be a banger but not working. RJ & Choice are pretty much killing everything they do in 2015 and somehow Mustard leaves room to let their idiosyncrasies ferment even further. Dijon (Mustard geddit?) surely realises he's struck gold with these two artists and compliments RJ & Choice with his beats rather than upstaging them. Previously it sometimes sounded like Mustard's rappers had been given a completed beat where they had to try to fit their raps to it, no matter how unaccommodating it may have been. Now it feels like Mustard is more flexible, organic and collaborative. I don't know if he's changed his working methods but it sure sounds like it. Last year I thought DJ Mustard had reached some kind of sonic arrested development but here he proves, with a little perseverance, that he is still mutating. Regression is part of this move ie. several tunes go further back than his past retro-activities ie. some songs reference stuff earlier than Dre circa 92/93 or mid 90s Three Six Mafia. Some of this stuff has got 80s R&B, funk and slow jam vibes. I guess he was always tipping his hat to these zones but perhaps not as deliberately or explicitly as he does here. Then you would swear Shooters was an instrumental outtake from Tricky's Maxinquaye. Actually come to think of it a few tracks have a Massive Attack/Trip-Hop feel. I haven't counted but there seems to be less military chanting on Vol. 1. which is probably a good thing as that started to seem a little formulaic and stale. I don't know who Justine Sky is but fuck she gives Cassie and Tinashe a run for their money on Love. This mixtape ain't no Ketchup but it also ain't no bloody 10 Summers either ie. I'm not deleting this off my computer, I'm about to give it another spin. Dj Mustard is transitioning. Let's hope he continues to in a good direction.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ariel Pink - Pom Pom Part 2

Pom Pom was finally released this week. I got it at the record shop. As I said in my original review Pink Raincoats, which I didn't like at the start, has become one of my favourite tunes. This is the tune that reminded me of They Might Be Giants. When I mentioned They Might Be Giants, King Missile, Ween, Nudge Squidfish and Regurgitator it wasn't a sledge against those bands as I'm quite fond of many of their recordings. Hey I own(ed) They Might Be Giants, Ween & Nudge Squdfish records. I was referring to the comic elements in those pop groups. I never had a King Missile or Regurgitator record but I didn't hate hearing them on the radio.

*When I wrote 'Goth Bomb is grunge meets goth meets metal meets space rock meets scuzz.' I had in mind for metal Black Sabbath, for space rock Hawkwind and for scuzz read Royal Trux. That kind of cancels out the other 2 genres doesn't it.

There's also a kind of English homage going throughout the whole record. Many a Brit accent is to be heard throughout Pom Pom. Oh...its just twigged its called Pom Pom which could be a reference to all you Prisoners Of her Majesty. I think he mentions Portobello Road in the first track. There's a sonic reference to the end section of A Day In The Life on Exile On Frog Street. The name of that tune obviously invoking The Rolling Stones. Alice In Wonderland gets mentioned along the way. He'd definitely be a fan of Swell Maps, The Homosexuals et al. I tried not to mention Pink Floyd, glam, Mr Bowie at his most overwrought and thespian & Mr Ronson in the original article. Did someone say side 2 of Diamond Dogs?

No matter how much he may be influenced by things from the UK, America and the rest of the world (read NZ ie. the great Axemen) there is always something so intrinsically LA about his whole vibe. It's in his blood. Having Kim Fowley and ex-Germs drummer Don Bolles on board doesn't hurt either.

*Cleaners From Venus.
I think Ariel Pink may have been instrumental in the reappraisal of this classic 80s under underground band from England. I have a vague recollection of someone (maybe a member of Ducktails or Emeralds) saying Ariel Pink introduced them to Cleaners from Venus via a mixtape and this was way before the reissue program of their oeuvre started. 

*Writers Block.
There are at least three songs with references to writing or writer's block on Pom Pom. I know he had a bad case of it for a while there maybe between Worn Copy and the first 4AD record in 2010. Many believed Before Today (2010) was mainly old songs from his vast archive. Indeed his first LP on 4AD included Beverly Kills which had already appeared on FFWD, L'estat was from Odditties Sodomies Vol 1, Hot Body Rub was on the Added Pizazz EP and Little Wig which had already been on a cdr sold at concerts in 2005 apparently. Before being remodelled for Pom Pom an early no-fi acoustic version of Dayzed Inn Daydreams (really just containing the chorus) was on Oddities Sodomies Vol 1. under the title Before Today/Dazed In Dreams. So he's still dipping into his backlog of tunes to this day. He's also turned writing about writer's block into unblocking writer's block thus creating a paradox.

Pom Pom has me wanting to dig out Cure, Bauhaus and Killing Joke albums. Strangely it had me wanting to listen to bands I never got into and in The Sisters Of Mercy's case, actively hated. Its got me thinking 'Were Fields Of Nephilim or Christian Death any good? Did I miss out on others as well?'

*The Bewlay Brothers is the final track on David Bowie's Hunky Dory. Gouge Away concludes Doolittle by the Pixies. This is a great topic actually - Best final tracks of albums. One has already been mentioned above ie. The Beatles A Day In The Life. I've got a list somewhere I should post it. Suggestions are also most welcome.

*'So that's 9 in a row then.'
9 Ariel Pink classics in a row. That row is very wayward and I doubt anyone got them in the order that they should have been in. Anyway what I mean is from Haunted Graffiti 2: The Doldrums onwards, which includes Sacred Famous, FFWD, House Arrest, Lover Boy & Worn Copy. Then his 4AD Years Before Today, Mature Themes and now Pom Pom.

*Haunted Graffiti 1: Underground
I've listened to this 1998(?) album (although I've never seen a physical copy) and it was ok but no classic. The quantum leap from Underground to The Doldrums was astounding, like he had signed a pact with the devil Robert Johnson stylee. I hope so. That'd be so LA.

This is strange don't you think? Are they all meant to be Ariel?
Only the yellow one has any resemblance. 

Monday, 29 July 2013


Whilst convalescing after another operation my mind has been relatively inactive er... thanks painkillerz!  I did however manage to watch some stuff in a very passive/pleaz distract me kind of way. I started watching the drama Hell On Wheels which I was hoping would be half as good as Deadwood. The period detail in the sets and costumes is incredible so it was a bit of a shame that they couldn't pay the same attention to the script. I finally had to stop watching it as they were using modern terms and language that were just too jarring. With Deadwood as the benchmark for any kind of ye olde American type of show there is a lot to live up to and Hell On Wheels just didn't cut it.

I watched The Art Of Punk-Black Flag-Art & Music which is a mini 22 minute documentary on Raymond Pettibon the logo and artwork illustrator for Black Flag the LA punk band.  It turns out his simple yet effective Black Flag logo is now the most popular tattoo design in America. Pettibon is a character and his hatred towards certain members of the band definitely endears him to viewers who may think Black Flag's music is a little naff ie. me for the most part. This is a totally recommended untold story of popular culture. There are apparently two more to come in this series, one on The Dead Kennedy's and the other on Crass. I look forward to those.

Raymond Pettibon was so punk he hated Black Flag

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Gene Clark's No Other

The Best LA LP of The 70s?

What I've been tryin to get to for a while now is this: Gene Clark's No Other. Here's another record I don't really need to talk about as some of the greats have written about it here and here. Anyway this is a record that is still building its cult. It'll probably be 5 to 10 years before he gets to that stage that, I dunno, someone like Nick Drake ended up in 10 years ago. A sort of saturation point where you've gone from cult figure to everyone who's ever gonna know about you knowing about you. I guess Rodriguez is reaching this position now, sure a doco helps! As does an Academy Award for said doco. Anyway David Geffen apparently pumped a hundred grand into Clark's magnificent 1974 opus and upon receiving it in the flesh promptly chucked it in the bin in a hissy fit because it only had 8 songs. Geffen refused to promote the LP and it came and went in a flash. Clark's career never recovered and he allegedly became a tragic figure until he died in 1991 before the No Other cult had gained much momentum. This LP is up there with the best 70s West Coast records by Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Sly Stone and Dennis Wilson and could possibly be the best of the lot. I reckon we definitely get our $100,000 worth. It's lush. It's sublime. This album is the perfect amalgamation of songs, performance and production. It does not get much better than this if indeed it does at all! There's something intangibly magic about this LP and framing it in Gram Parson's term 'Cosmic Americana' doesn't do it justice. This ain't no hippy hillbilly record. However there is a dichotomy at work here. Clark wrote this album during a deep spiritual time but then recorded it in the grips of out of control cocaine use/abuse. An interesting footnote to Australian readers is that Venetta Fields, yes she of John Farnham's band, sings backing vocals on the trax Life's Greatest Fool Some Misunderstanding.

I is diggin those 1974 threads man.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times & Short Life of Darby Crash & The Germs

Highly recommended

I don't really know what prompted me to finally pull this off the shelf and start reading it. Perhaps I was in need of a dose of punk after reading about dinosaurs Led Zeppelin. I must confess I'm not really into rock Biographies. I think the only two I got through ever were the Mike Barnes Beefheart book and Heroes & Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys by Steven Gaines like 17 years ago. The Gaines book particularly shitted me because I don't even think he liked their music. I got halfway through Patti Smith's book Just Kids and hey that was beautifully written..... I guess I'm more into music analysis, cultural theory and its impact in relation to sociology. All my friends tell me to read you know the bio on Neil Young, Motley Crue, Keef, James Freud, various Guns & Roses folk etc. etc. I'm more into documentaries like the Classic Albums series one on The Mac's Rumours, 30 Century Man on Scott Walker, Made In Sheffield: The Birth of Electronic Pop,  End of The Century on The Ramones, It's A Long Way To The Top, the 6 part ABC series on the history of Australian Rock and The Story Of Anvil. I even avoid most of those. I never watched the one on The Pixies or The Minutemen. Mainly I like it when the focus is on the music not the gossip or the hangers on/groupies/business people. I like the mystery. I don't wanna know if Black Francis is a cunt or not.

Then there are the movies where they supposedly dramatise real life events of scenes and groups. I loathed 24 Hour Party People despite being a a massive Factory Records head with Peter Hook being one of my all time cult heroes. Even the great Steve Coogan couldn't save that shite. I've steered totally clear of Control, the movie based on Joy Division. I don't want these fake images in my head ruining what my imagination has come up with. After watching the Joan Jett movie I now picture Joan as the girl from Twilight. Ray Manzarek became Coop in a wig once I'd watched Oliver Stone's The Doors. IE. Kyle Maclachlan who was currently playing Agent Cooper in the Twin Peaks tv series put on an absurd wig and came across as nothing like the Manzarek we encounter more often than you might think.

Anyway I'd thought I'd get about 30 pages into Lexicon Devil and then give up. About 15 years ago someone made me a copy of The Germs GI record and I was massively surprised that they weren't total shite. I was never big on X and about 94% of the LA hardcore that followed in The Germs Wake. The only other thing from that era in LA that I liked was The Screamers who had this mental bootleg around that same time (as when I got GI) called In A Better World. As far as US proto-punk/punk/post-punk was concerned Detroit, San Fransisco, New York and Ohio were where it was at.

The Screamers

I pretty much knew nothing about this LA scene except for some of the main bands music - The aforementioned X and The Screamers as well as The Weirdos, The Urinals & The Go Gos. From the get go this book had me hooked. It was written oral history stylee. The stories of Darby's fucked up LA alternative schooling were totally bizarre. This was the 70s, this was LA, this was very experimental schooling and education. These school experiences along with Darby's studies of Scientology and brainwashing informed the rest of his short life. Who knew he was a budding cult leader in the making? So there were lots of drugs, booze, squalor, violence and oh yeah punk rock! Mainly though most of the people/hangers on/groupies in this book were total fucking arseholes. Lexicon Devil is an expose on repression, perversion, violence, manipulation, murder, mental Illness, depravity, suicide and wasted youth.

There isn't much talk about the importance (for want of a better term) or the cultural affect of some of the seminal records being released by bands included in this scene and book. As you can probably guess by it's title Darby's life begins to escalate into a drug and alcohol fuelled mess and finally tragedy. Legendary rock writer Richard Meltzer was quoted thus "Lexicon Devil is pure and Simple, the finest volume on punk to see the light of print."

Belinda Carlisle, Genesis P Orridge, Lee Ving, Kid Congo Powers, Jack Nitzsche, Kim Fowley, Gary Panter, Joan Jett, Tomato Du Plenty, Matt Groening, Jello Biafra, Phranc, The Quick, Mike Watt, Greg Shaw and many others make cameos in the book. Mainly though it's The Germs, Weirdos, Go Gos and X members along with the little gangs and cliques that congregated around wannabe cult leader Darby Crash that make up the story.

The Germs - Forming

What's missing though is the fact that The Germs Forming 7" is one of the greatest debut singles by any band ever (in all its lo-fi glory) and their GI LP is a fine record that still stands up to this day. Maybe it's even still influential today? Hello UV Race. You could do worse than having The Germs as an Influence.

Lexicon Devil

Darby Crash Punk Rock Poet. Hey!, Pat Smear, Don Bolles & Lorna Doom were pretty darn good too.

**Further listening Black Hole: California Punk 1977-80 released in 2010 on Domino.
**This features all the previously mentioned groups plus The Dils, Black Randy & The Metro Squad and The Flesh Eaters. There's even some bands from San Fran like Crime, The Dead Kennedys and The Sleepers.