Tuesday, September 04, 2007

VARIOUS - E.S.P. (A Nervous Jerk Compilation) CD (Nervous Jerk/2007)

The Kids are doin' it for themselves. Nervous Jerk CEO Michael K. is one of those obnoxiously precocious kinda guys you occasionally meet in the music scene who's been around the block a few times by the tender age of a man who's barely scraped past 20 years of age. Worked in record stores, toured some overseas bands, done a radio show, executed a record label or two. I say that all as a compliement, since I'll state for the record that he's also a heck of a nice guy who does it all for one reason: The Music, man. Well, there's probably an element of ego-stroke in there, too (and any zine/band/radio/label/tour/blog/scenester slob out there who denies such a thing is a dishonest asshole), but ultimately I'd place him fair and square in the Good Guy department.

And so, after such an introduction, I present you w/ the latest release on his new-ish label, E.S.P., a compilation of bands he's been involved with either in touring, booking shows or having released previous product by. It's an eclectic mix, to say the least. There's some kinda big-ish (relatively speaking) international names on show here: DC's Weird War (a whole lot better than their ex-Make-Up pedigree may suggest; didn't Neil Hagerty have sort of involvement in them? This sounds a lot like Royal Trux/Howling Hex, which is a good thing), Calvin Johnson, Kelley Stoltz (a guy I recall enjoying immensely when I saw him play a few years back), Little Wings (North-West popsters I actually had a fondness for about 5 years back when stuck in an indie-retail ghetto), folkster Josephine Foster, Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano (who were set to tour here last year then pulled out at the last minute due to illness) and more. Locally, there's some great tracks by Always (one-man-band circus act featuring hand claps, tape loops and various chants, last years' 7" on Chapter was a fave), Eddy Current Suppression Ring (another goodie from our fair land's best rock outfit not featuring myself), Fabulous Diamonds (local "buzz" duo who, on the one occasion I've seen them, impressed the shit outta me w/ their dub-inflected Rough-Trade-ca.-'79 tunes and have an LP coming out soon on Siltbreeze), My Disco (local Fugazi/Shellac worshippers who usually don't budge me an inch, though the tight-assed rock grooves on their "Calling Cure" track here had me possibly rethinking my previous stance), Crayon Fields (great, great, great local outfit who rip out a kind of Zombies-esque psych-pop, a far cry from what I saw of them in their very early days, when they struck me as the only Australian outfit in living memory who truly sounded like they'd been influenced by Television and Slovenly. They hadn't), a cool bit of gonzo trance-rock from Melbourne's premiere avant-drone performance-art freak ensemble, the Hi-God People, and even a number from local arse-monkey pomp-rock dynamos, Superstupid, featuring The Wire magazine page-3 pin-up boy, Oren Ambarchi.

The schizophrenic mixture of artists might not fully make sense for anyone from overseas approaching this and trying to find heads or tails of a common thread between the artists. The extensive liner notes will help one connect the dots comprising a scene of international and local acts who've all been brought together on plastic and metal because of one man: Michael K. Vanity release? Yeah, probably a bit of that, but it makes for an excellent snapshot for anyone who's been trawling the pubs and clubs, record shops and radio dials of Melbourne in the 21st century. Listening to this certainly reminds me what the hell I've been doing w/ my life the last 7 years, and I must admit it doesn't involve too much outside of music and family. Like any compilation featuring 23 tracks and artists, you won't want to hear every one of them a whole lot (there's a couple here I probably would've dropped), thought to demand a kind of uniform greatness would be absurd. E.S.P. paints a picture of a community of likeminded individualists and weirdos who've found a nice home here, and the excellent booklet and artwork round out what will likely be one of the best local releases of '07. I dig...

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