Monday, June 10, 2013
Let's see what nonsense can be spilled at this moment in history... One blog which has taken my fancy of late is Waitakere Walks. Huh? Don't ask, I have no idea. In fact, I still have no idea who's even behind the blog, but it's a good 'un. It features archival articles/clippings of yore, Youtube clips and commentary which attempt to put the past 50-odd years of music - much of it punk/u-ground rock-focused, but it goes well beyond such constrictions and into the worlds of folk, hair-metal and elsewhere - into context of something or other. In other words, posts are almost of the train-of-thought variety, though somehow as a whole, the blog stitches together a story of the writer's musical journeys, the who's, what's, why's and the what-the-fucks. It's one of the finer blogs I've stumbled across in recent years.
Remember those The Scene Is Now reissues I put out on the Lexicon Devil label about 4-5 years back? I'm still living high on the hog from the proceeds. No, really, judging by the sales figures, you don't recall them, let alone felt an urge to purchase such discs - some of the finest recordings Underground Amerika produced during the Reagan years - but regardless, I'll point you in this direction: it's an article from the UK's Quietus web site [a site, I might add, which I feel has slowly but surely transformed into one of the finest general music onestops on the interwebz] detailing their greatness, particularly their finest platter, 1988's Tonight We Ride (a def' desert-isle disc for moi).
Slint's debut, Tweez (Jennifer Hartman/1989, and later reissued by Touch & Go), has been given its annual airing as of late. When I first heard Slint in 1991, it was a track from Spiderland being played on 3RRR on the week of its release. I didn't hear the introduction and figured it was some odd, new Fugazi track I hadn't yet heard (it was "Good Morning, Captain", a number I swear still sounds like early Fugazi). Crazy, huh? I bought the LP the next day, and soon learned the story of Slint. You need me to do that for you, too? No, you know that the band hailed from Louisville, Kentucky, and featured ex-Squirrel Bait members. So, now that that's out of the way, I'll also state that the first time I heard Tweez, which was probably not until 1998, I didn't know what I was listening to. A workmate had put it on the workplace stereo, and it sounded to me like some sort of weird art-metal band. The production was tinny, the ryhthms scattered and nominally 'arty', but the guitar work was a strange blend of smashing power chords and metallic, Ginn-like solos. It didn't sound like the Slint I had known up to that point. I've never been much of a fan of Steve Albini's production work (see below re: Butch Vig - must be my issue of the week) - I find he's all high- and bottom-end w/ not much in between - and the sound here isn't that different. Lots of booming drums and screeching, even irritating, guitar squeals, and whilst I'm probably not painting a pretty picture here, Tweez has elements to recommend. There are moments here which have a disjointed beauty a la The Process Of Weeding Out, and when they're hitting a tight groove it's like early '70s 'Crimson w/ chops ahoy, but for me, Tweez still sounds a bit half-finished (not half-baked), like it's a series of musical sketches not fully formed. Had they not gone onto write, record & release Spiderland a few years later (Tweez was actually recorded in '87), then maybe w/ a mere Tweez under their belt they might enjoy the reputation of, say, a Bitch Magnet (a fine band who had a record or two back in the day which I enjoyed) as opposed to being heralders of a new musical form aped by idiots worldwide. That's not meant to detract from what they were: line up the three Slint recordings available - Tweez, Spiderland and the posthumous s/t 10" (which is most certainly worth hearing), and the pieces of the puzzle make sense and can be enjoyed.
Not sure why I've felt an urge to spin some Killdozer of late. I have rarely spoken of them on this blog, perhaps in passing, though never in detail. I bring their name up because I've been spinning their Twelve Point Buck LP (Touch & Go/1987), possibly in a pathetic fit of nostalgia harking back to my listening habits in the early '90s (both this and their hilarious covers album, For Ladies Only, were spun quite a bit back in the day), but possibly also because I heard a 'special' - an hour-long special - on the band on 3PBS a little while ago, and it had me thinking that a 15-year drought in between spins was way too long. It may sound funny, and indeed it is, that a radio station in Melbourne, Australia in the year 2013 would dedicate an hour of airtime to a band as seemingly obscure as Killdozer, let alone one as seemingly one-dimensional as them, but hey, that is funny! I bumped into the radio host in question at a recent show and congratulated him on such a ridiculous feat. I think he took it as a compliment [it was]. The band, '80s/'90s relics from Madison, Wisconsin, who made a big splash in the day when the term 'pigfuck' was used to describe an actual genre of music, can be a blast in small-to-medium doses. I mean, you wouldn't want a two-hour special on 'em. They even toured here back in '94, though I missed 'em due to a broken leg. B-Side mag was the great trumpeter of their cause back in the day, and, along w/ the likes of Australian noise-makers Lubricated Goat and King Snake Roost, helped make up a particular school of audio obnoxiousness which was pretty fun for a couple of years. How do they shape up in the 2013? Not badly. Killdozer are a band who possibly would have worked better w/ a different vocalist, or maybe even no vocalist at times, although the smart-arsed lyrics from Michael Gerald, a beautiful pastiche of pop/idiot-culture references, would be missed. But man, that growl, it can be wearing. There are two things which shine here: guitarist Bill Hobson's guitar work and the ace production from Butch Vig, years before he tortured the universe with Garbage. I often complain about some of Butch's work - to me, the 2nd and 3rd Die Kreuzen LPs [their best] always sounded a tad thin - although he garners a wall of noise here w/ a simple three-piece. The guitars were possibly overdubbed to the craphouse, but the layers of sound give Twelve Point Buck some real density and movement. Listen to the opener, "New Pants and Shirt": it's monumental. Killdozer started off as more of a Birthday Party-ripping proposition, but here you've got the crushing weight of the likes of Swans and Melvins on board, and it sounds tasty. Killdozer were more one-dimensional than the Melvins, and perhaps not one-dimensional enough to pass for the purity and wretchedness of early Swans, but their own brand of midwestern grunt-rock is still pretty hot a quarter of a century down the track.