Sleazy P. Martini for President

The local "live" critic (with whom I agree more than not) mistakenly stated that Gwar, in the fifteen years I've seen them at the Newport, have never gathered a crowd larger than the floor's churning slavepit. FALSE. My first experience with Gwar, the 1991 America Must Be Destroyed tour, for which I had to sneak out from Troy to Columbus, I vividly remember catching blood from the balcony. Since then, yes, the crowds have thinned, but the cartoonish gore and brutal social criticism remains intact. This year would be my tenth Gwar show (a stat I'm not sure if I should be proud of) and I've never been disappointed. Granted, I haven't bought a Gwar record since This Toilet Earth (save their early '90s peak, the show has always eclipsed the music) but I have rarely passed up an opportunity to be apart of the carnal atmosphere they bring to town -- gathering up the scum of civilization, in the crisp autumn air, pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone gets soaked. I'm sure there's a crossover with the Juggalos, though I'd like to think Gwar fans have a leg up in intelligence, possessing a refined absurd wit and allergies to Faygo. Who knows? At least Gwar now how to pepper their set with the classics and they've never resorted to rap(e)-rock.

Now in 2008, does the show still hold up? Of course. I was a bit skeptical that Gwar has devolved into forming a pro-wrestling motif for the Electile Dysfunction tour, but it was for a good cause. Never one to shy from politics, Gwar brought out the candidates (must have planned it before Sarah Palin, cause she was spared desecration) to battle for supremacy. Duly noted, Barack Obama was slaughtered but rushed off stage before drained completely (I guess that's Gwar's way of saying they do have preference). Meanwhile Hilary Clinton's tits were stripped to squirt cold blood about 40 feet from the stage, and John McCain was ripped clean apart (see below).

This was the maiden voyage for my wife and bro's girl -- so it was a special occasion. We were all dirty beyond self-respect by the end. They played "Ham on the Bone" and "Maggots," so all was well. This might actually turn into a family affair one day. As I saw one dad graciously hold his boy on his shoulders to catch more blood than we were allowed, I thought that my future child, will get the benefits Gwar provide that my parents forbid. And surely Gwar will last beyond the grave.


TNV Survives Another UK Bash

Maybe it's just me but it seems like Times New Viking are becoming one of those bands who cause a frenzy overseas but can't catch a break over here? Perhaps it will all even out once the Stay Awake hits the market and the tour with Deerhunter becomes this year's LCD/Arcade Fire package. But in that meantime, the kids just got back from a successful romp over the pond and through the abbey with Los Campesinos and No Age. While the former might not seem like a worthy flatmate -- looks are deceiving, Gareth Campesino has the same acerbic wit packed into his psuedo-emo twee jams it's just stripped of the cathartic noise. His release is in words -- lots of 'em. And as for the latter, well they are a two-piece TNV minus the songs. Blissful fuzz bang-ups and atmospheric soundscapes tending to shred more than sing out.

It was Gareth who designed this whole tour -- the Shred Yr Face tour. And it was Drowned in Sound who sponsored it. In England they try really hard to make a big deal out of such things, with in-stores in every city, blogs and diaries, even a worthy souveneir to remember it by -- in the form of a three-headed 7" on which TNV do a boombox version of the Clean's "Anything Can Happen."

Check out the blog for various videos and interviews with your three favorite bands of right now. It all might be a bit too cute, but a jaunt through the site is time well spent and the memories and friendships made will probably compose a new Los Campesinos album by the end of the year.

Check Gareth singing "Pagan Eyes" with the kids...


Marmoset on 45

A band like Indianapolis’ Marmoset are hard to get super excited about – basically because it takes them six years to put out successive records and when you finally get around to listening to them the group goes crawling back into the basement panels soaking in wormwood for another half-decade. Last year’s Florist Fired was a major triumph/epic bummer depending on your perception, and the strength of those druggy, iso-pop songs has kept them in this head of mine. So you could imagine my surprise when I found, digging through the record store, that Jajaguwar had re-released their 2001 masterpiece-in-gloom Record in Red. Huzzah. I was going to smoke until the eyes watered and the sediment of those heady times finally caught up with me, on wax.

Long story short – I’m prone to reading the Dusted everyday, ‘cause they do a good job explaining jazz and avant-composition to me in a way Wire (the magazine) can’t. Every Friday they have my favorite column, Listed, where it’s usually some unknown up-n’-comers listing what makes them happy. Two weeks ago the guest was some white rapper from Indy, whose name I forget, but he kept talking about listening to records on 45 even when it didn’t call for it. The one he couldn’t get off his turntable was Marmoset’s Record in Red, because it was so fucking good on 45. I tried it out first thing, and now I may not ever listen it to it at normal speed again. He was absolutely correct. This is poppier and brighter than some amazing lost Kinks record found between Face to Face and Village Green – I’m not kidding. How did this guy discover such a treat?


Matthew Horseshit and Ten Other People

I’m really starting to feel sorry for the poor saps who claim to be a part of our music landscape but fail to ever get out and take advantage of some of the city’s finest natural resources (that said, I'm guilty for not getting out enough). Matt Horseshit, in any configuration, most of the time with Richie, is perhaps this town’s greatest songwriter, really, he is -- the band you wish had a residency at the Summit. I think I’ve said that before, if so, I’ll probably say that again. He’s so concerned with putting on a good show, one that is completely different from the last. Perhaps that why he’s rattled and roughed-up a handful of bass players – every night he’s entering the club with the anxiety of running on half a tank, pondering how to captivate with a quick set of new songs, written that day, to be “formed” by any means necessary. Granted, dealing with the spontaneity of the songs can be a challenge. If you want to play bass with them, one can dream. As long as you “feel the flow” of what his colorful spew is "getting at" on any particular night, whatever atonal skronk you churn out is going to fit right in.

This night – 10.16.08 – he played by his lonesome, something I would later try to convince him to do for the entire tour. No dice. But I think many times this is the best, purest setting in which to experience his cracked whimsy. I’m rambling, but so is he, equipped with only a sampler and a guitar he is free to span his skull for the melodies and abstracts, piecing together deeply personal jams in his own space. Times are tough, only ten people there (including headliners, who?) made it tougher, depressing as fuck in moments (especially the “Borrowed Time” cover to close it), but this brief display was rich and textured and quite possibly the quietest I’ve ever seen the guy. Though I love the full band, losing their shit in a tangle of cords and keys, here under the spotlight, on his knees, under-drank clarity abound, he also tends to shine.


Lost in the Golden Triangle

These days, being described as a female-fronted garage-punk outfit from Brooklyn sets off alarms. It sounds all too familiar. The Vivian Girls have cornered that market for the present, so if I were working the grind for Golden Triangle I’d find another corner of the girl-group, reverb-heavy, underworld to mine. First I’d keep my Southern roots, as they are from Austin and Hotlanta respectively (and BKLYN is just a roost for now) and in league with the awesome Rob’s House. Secondly they tend to lean towards the more conceptual art of performance – from the looks of their photo album they get wickedly dolled-up in corpse paint and feathers, smashing into each other, falling drunkenly to the floor. I’m gearing up for the first time I get to see them live. Thirdly, they’ve got a dude or two thrown in the mix that allow songs like “Night Brigade” to erupt like Mark E. Smith perversely intruding on a Kleenex/Lilliput practice. Fourthly, while initial contact might keep them in line with the nostalgic echo and jangle of the V. Girls, Golden Triangle are much more abstract, preferring wooly hoots and chants over quiver-harmonies, or mud-caked fuzz-riffs to steely shimmer, and most noticeably purely improvisational fits of noise and chaos instead of two-minute verse-chorus-verse temperaments. They seem to self-destruct every chance they get.

Still, when you first hear “Prizefighter,” you’re going to shake your head in a chuckle, is this the same band? Thankfully no, they are obviously doing more good drugs, have Oneida’s Kid Millions behind the controls, and are searching for an motley tribalism far removed from sweet emissions of C86. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve continued to be smitten with the V. Girls -- it’s just that Golden Triangle leave a lot for the imagination to chew on.


Kodac - Tibet Tapes One

G. Ziant used to tip-toe through the lil’ Neon Wilderness -- in that forest there were flashes of genius peering through the trees, usually a shambling folk-song or two that stung like an arrow to the heart. It was usually a barbed arrow that you slowly pulled from the wound. Remembering the guy’s artwork from way back -- sculptures constructed from rusted metal and rotted wood – it at once demanded attention in form, but shunned any praise and stood rather stoic in my mind. Coupled with his music, it all makes sense now. Once the LNW got brush fired out of his conciousness, the basement tapes began. Months ago, beer in hand, he told me he’s completely “through with rock and roll” as nothing but CAN fueled his twilights and dawns.

You can’t remake Tago Mago, but you can always come damn close. Still Ziant, or now Kodac, existed in drone, a direct opposition to rock, the guitar, and the roommate’s credo. Ducking downstairs to complete a drone was probably necessity at some point. Ziant drowned himself in industrial-grade drone – either whipping copper against the wall for hours on end or pressing pedals and reverb into long, meditative cycles.

Jaw is now agape. Kodac’s Tibet Tapes One is a showdown on the border between the grass and the pavement. In both arenas, this one-man show is in complete control over his environment. Man vs. Nature vs. Mechanics vs. Himself? The drones still win out, but they are nuanced, organic, Oval on blast (I’ve been listening to a lot of Oval again) void of technicality or process. Perfect titles set the mood for songs like “Aderol Horn” and “Artnam” – but the CAN wins out, the Silver Apples win out, Wire wins out. He’s flipping over steel trashcans and pounding away, creating loops with feedback and demon beats with a metal heart. Try not to get wrecked on the tribal “Watch Remain,” where people say “they found a way through the maze” with the “sand in their veins.” Ziant’s love for visceral chaos and slanted punk can be found in “New Crooks Same Hooks.” That’s just the sub-material in my mind, the Tibet Tapes One squeaks in anthem freak-folk with “Richard Brautigan Drawing a Flower” (veers on hippie jam) and the enthusiastic Pink Flag update, synth-doused speed-fever of “Rough Parade.” Press this immediately. Beg for one of these, it’s that essential.


You Don't Have to Yell for Tusk...

In a word, Lindsey Buckingham’s latest solo album Gift of Screws is ridiculous. While such adjectives are not a stretch considering his former band was the symbol of 70’s excess, his post-Mac work has been spotty and subdued. Gift of Screws makes up for a reclusive career with a sonic triumph as the album is a relentless barrage of quadraphonic studio tricks and Buckingham’s signature guitar mazes.

I’ve never witnessed perhaps my all-time favourite classic rock band in the flesh, nor have I seen Buckingham dazzle with one of his solo tour stops, so it was necessary to pack up the Herrmann and myself, and then head to Cleveland’s House of Blues for what was sure to be a magical evening. It takes a lot to get me to head to my least favourite city in America – so Mr. Buckingham consider yourself very special.

This particular venue was compact and inviting, almost like the Disney equivalent to a rock show. Outsider art cluttered the walls of the club, a low balcony floated directly over the stage, instructions on appropriate concert behavior were broadcast like before a theme-park ride bilingually. All of that sterility need not apply because Lindsey Buckingham is a family man and his show was wholesome entertainment anyone could enjoy.

As for giving up the hits he didn’t disappoint in either respect, pulling from everything from the first Fleetwood Mac album that bore his name (“Second Hand News”) to the stunning abstracts (“Time Precious Time” is his thirteen-fingered meditation on a Panda Bear drugging) and shimmering pop (“Did You Miss Me” is a hit in any universe) of Gift of Screws – you didn’t have to yell out "Tusk", caused he played it second. I suppose the biggest surprise was just how talented this man is in person, picking through the intricacies of his songs with his bare digits at lightning speeds. The opening number of the night and of the album “Great Day” may be somewhat generic in it’s intent, but it's built with shrift Buckingham solos packed between oddball vocal treatments and layered percussions.

Live it wasn’t any different, all these oft-overlooked idiosyncrasies that have made him a musical genius are put on display with nary a nod towards religious enlightenment or transcendental meditation or the clean-n’-sober sob stories. All that struggle-n’-strife could be told in his back-story for the rousing “Big Love” which he played by himself with zero convictions. Still, the reason I love the man and always will, is because of the perfection found in Rumour’s “Never Going Back Again” and guess what, he played that too. This fan almost cried at this moment. It was executed with the hushed intimacy he may reserve for a campfire, marked with just enough variation to show this was one of his favourites. In a word? Ridiculous.


Jay Number Six - The One That Got Away

I've been doing so well in my quest for complete Jay nirvana, a bit of resentment towards Matador for making me this bloodthirsty because now I have an overwhelming void in my heart and my collection of Jaywad singles. I can blame it on the windstorm because I had no power and most of Columbus had no internet the day I was supposed to stay glued to a frozen computer screen till I secured number six. I was about to drive 60 miles to the nearest internets outpost just to get one of these. There's anxiety in my stress-filled muscles now without this on my turntable. A certain brother promised to secure one in NYC (where 75% of these probably end up) but no dice. So anyone that feels charitable, and could spare one (for maket value no less) give me a ring.

That said. I've heard this. In fact I've heard them all in succession barring the final "bonus" song. And this is the bittersweet denouement of the series. "No Time" is the NZ scruff-pop being played from the toy aisle in a Memphis Dollar General, nylon strings and GBV fruit-loops only with a few more tracks than 4 -- dusty but clear headed, tired but ready to tackle what lies ahead. "You Were Sleeping" is again, a b-side superior, Jay's goodbye for now, a lullaby with whispered harmonies and atmosphere meted over what might be bongo-fueled campfire folk were it in the company of wolves. He's starting to show that he's just a wide-eyed kid with melodies overflowing in golden hues -- not the crust-punk he plays on TV. Maybe it took money and love and tours around the globe to pry that side out, because I'm assuming it's always been there just waiting to weep and smile. Can't wait to see how soft he can actually get, this is cream-puff but certainly not as sincere as he might be when he notices his first gray hair.