Allow me to skip through a landmine of goodies here like a dilletante dandy and give some brief spiels on what's passed through my hands the last few weeks...
Annihilation Time are a band from California who've been pushed heavily onto me - some would say forced - by the incessant rantings of Dan from Distort zine. Both in the printed word and face to face, the man has been most insistent: you must check out AT. And that I have. They're a five piece and have their schtick down pat. The schtick? Kind of a hit-from-the-bong/party-'til-you-puke hesher/hippie-punk deal with obvious SST damage. Dan described them as being to Bl'ast! what Bl'ast! were to Black Flag. Which probably makes 'em sound like a load of third-generation baloney, though it ain't the truth. Equal parts My War/Slip It In 'Flag with a heavy nod to first-generation HM (the good stuff) - Black Sabbath, Led Zep, BOC, Blue Cheer and a touch of Thin Lizzy - this is a party disc par excellence. They've even got the good sense to cover the Pink Fairies w/ a buttocks-scorching take on "Teenage Rebel". Best of all, their inspiration lies beyond a mere impressive record collection. Despite all that I've just written about them: Black Flag, Bl'ast!, SST stoner-punk, '70s boogie-metal, they sound like all of the above and none of the above. Good tuneage, for sure. My life hasn't been changed, though given my overt cynicism for any rock music of supposed worth in 2007, and the fact that I plonked down the cash for this and have spun it a few dozen times in glee, you could say it's a winner.
If you'd told me 20 years ago that the legendary LA art/drone/avant-punk outfit Savage Republic would be around in the year 2007 and release an album on a label owned by the members of Neurosis, I'd've called you a smokin' joker, but whaddya know, the joke's on me! They are back - minus Bruce Licher - and sounding surprisingly good. Real good, in fact. The essential SR blueprint hasn't changed a bit: take a vaguely Arabic-sounding motif, add some drone and paste it on top of a rhythm orbiting the universes of Krautrock, Joy Division and Wire, and stir, but if it ain't broke... Given the absence of Licher, there's no fancy print-press packaging w/ this release, which is kind of a drag, though the music holds up a lot better than expected, and the heavy use of violin throughout adds a whole new dimension to their sound, the bulk of this sounding like, uh, let me draw a bow and say "Yawning Man meets the Dirty Three". Along w/ Throbbing Gristle's rebirth, one of the better surprises of '07. The album's name? 1938.
There's a new zine - a printed one - in circulation, and you need it. I sense a blog backlash from the luddites a-comin', and despite what I happen to be writing on right now - a computer screen - I'm fully behind a second revolution of the printed word. Heading the charge is Scott Soriano and Ryan Wells' Z Gun mag. Both write for Terminal Boredom, and Scott pens Crud Crud and runs S-S Records, so I can't figure for the life of me where on earth the guy gets the time to dedicate himself to the masochistic pursuit of publishing (I figure he either doesn't have kids or is the current holder of the Greg Ginn Hipster Work Ethic Awards of '07), but my hat is tipped. I'm not a believer in detailed fanzine reviews; the rag in questioned should simply be read or not. Suffice to say, along w/ Distort, Z Gun is the best way-underground music read I've encountered since Arthur got all boring a year or two back, and a visual devouring is mandatory. It's printed on tabloid-sized newsprint and features an excellent article on early '80s San Fran art-punk (fitting, since Z Gun reminds me a whole lot of Search & Destroy and RE/Search in its compiling together of various strands of radness), Sweden's scuzzbags the Brainbombs, '80s San Fran art-weirdos Black Humor, a profile/interview on DIY label Not Not Fun, a piece of the hot-to-trot Pink Reason (whom apparently, from what I've heard, I will "dig"), and a stack of reviews which span the musical worlds of everything from bedroom CD-R noise dorks to Washington Philips LPs. It's out, it's about and I'll be buying every issue from here on!
OTHER FINE THINGS...
1) CASTINGS - Punk Rock Is Bunk Squawk CD-R ( Spanish Magic/2007)
I saw these Sydney-based gents a year or two back at the Tote and kinda fell asleep. They came across like another generation of bedroom-bound tape/CD-R label hermits making a racket for them and their friends, and my interest in such things had hit rock bottom by the late '90s and had yet to recover. My dismissal may've been premature. Shaun from Spanish Magic sent me a bunch of things they've released of late, this being one of them, and it's a corker. No-fi electro-scuzz from the basement which doesn't wallow in needless "noise" but gives the various blips and whoops a little room to breathe. Think Cab Voltaire from their monumental '74-'78 box and less so Wolf Eyes and you're in the neighborhood.
2) MAGNETICS - We Are The Mountains We Are The Fields CD (Sweatlung/2007)
Another uber-undieground Australian label doing very fine things. Sweatlung is run by Missing Link stooge and man-of-a-million-bands, Pete Hyde. He's released a whole series of no-budget smartly-but-cheaply-packaged CDs in the last couple of years by the likes of Justice Yeldam, Whitehorse, Justin Fuller and Chris Smith, Ian Wadley, Blarke Bayer, etc. and everything I've heard I dig. Magnetics is Ben Andrews from My Disco/Agents Of Abhorrence and Sarah Heyward from various smelly punk outfits. Jarrod from Fabulous Diamonds also plays sax on one track. The sound is minimal, moody, echo-laden and prone to occasional outburst of earthly rumble. My idea of a fun time. I like. You need.
3) WINTER FAMILY - s/t 2CD (Sub Rosa/2007)
New French piano/organ/keyboards 'n' vocals duo whom I will write more extensively about in the future. This is a debut I like, a lot. Think Nico's Desertshore hammin' 'n' jammin w/ Patti ca. "Piss Factory" w/ a distinctly Gaelic bent. Teee-riffic. More on this at a later date...