Wednesday, November 04, 2009
THE UK IS A-OK...
Hmmm... now that's a lame heading, if ever there was, but I'm struggling here, 'k? Both of the following hail from Ol' Blighty, the land of warm beer, bad teeth and mostly worthless music since the year 1981. But under the surface there's always been a few good things a-bubblin'. The outfit known as Honey Ride Me A Goat, a trio from Kent, is certainly one of them. They've been around since the start of the century some time and were kind enough to send me a box of goodies a little while back. They've got a bunch of ltd.-run EPs, CDs, 10"s, split 12"s and probably a cassette or 8-track or two under their belt, and from what I've heard, it's all good. The band they remind me a whole lot of would be none other than the Stretchheads (killer Scottish mob of yore; if you've read this blog for more than the last 10 minutes, then you've heard the rant before. There's a 2CD Complete Discography coming out some time in 2010, so keep yer ears peeled), which means there's a fair dose of "whackiness" involved, but it's all in good humour and suits their schtick to a tee. Instrumental and heavy on the chops, occasionally falling apart in a free-jazz-style skree but then roping itself together in seconds, their prowess is put to expert use. And now that I'm on the topic, let me add this: virtuosity in music is not necessarily a bad thing. Virtuosity for its own sake is, but one punk rock myth which needs to be debunked is the misnomer that practicing your craft and becoming damn good at it is a bad thing. Punk rock was a musical movement, and the best bands could play like demons, not slobs. I could now go on for another 1,000 words regarding the genius-like songcraft and musical dynamics of Black Flag, Minor Threat and Bad Brains, but I'll save that for a drunken rant down at the pub. Let me speak some more of HRMAG. The songs are short, sharp and over quick, just like a slightly more fleshed-out take on Punchline-era Minutemen. The guitar - whooaah, the guitar - is dynamite. It's got a D. Boon-like scratchiness, but the treble isn't so screechy that texture doesn't also enter the picture. I'm thinkin' Joe Baiza, James Ulmer and Peter Cosey, and no higher compliment can be paid. I've got the s/t 10", the split w/ the similarly-minded Mothguts, and even a copy of an as-yet-unreleased recording they did w/ the Soft Machine's Hugh Hopper just before he passed away earlier this year, and they all kill me. The Hopper recording is one long half-hour+ number which screeches, groans and fires up not unlike Universal Congress Of's debut, whilst the other two keep the attacks brief, with each song twisting and turning at a second's notice. This is music way beyond any kinda clever-clever shenanigans; it's highly evolved nonsense which gives me a kick every time, and some of the absolute best music hardly anyone has ever heard of being made in the year 2009. Take the plunge.
There's also the brand new issue - that'd be #3 - of the UK's best fanzine out right about now. It's called Niche Homo. I reviewed the first issue a while ago, and the editors must've been so chuffed with my positive review that they quote it every time I see 'em floggin' their wares on the 'net. I guess my good word does carry more weight than that of a feather. I'm blushing. Rumour has it one of these young folks slugs it out in the UK office of Vice magazine for a day job, and whilst such a vocation would usually have said publication flushed down the toilet in an instant, in Niche Homo's case, vapid hipsterism is not their game. Their game is music, pure and simple. There's the usual swag of interviews and pieces on current UK u/grounders I know zip about (but likely should, or will in the future), such as Mazes, So Cow and Spin Spin The Dogs; an interview w/ ex-Vibracathedral Orchestra dude, Neil Campbell (always a great interviewee; his piece in an old ish of Opprobrium is a classic); and even a fairly comprehensive and recent interview with an old drunk by the name of Mark E. Smith, a man whose brain appears to be leaving the planet at an alarming rate. There's also a cool section for the real geekoids, "Mixtape Wars", where editor/publisher Nick B. gets a few friends to make tapes for each other and records their reactions to tunes by the likes of Neil Young, Meat Puppets, Wipers, Red Crayola, King Crimson, Cannanes, Bo Diddley and even personal faves (of mine!) Dawson. I tried a similar thing a decade ago - an "Invisible Jukebox" - w/ my pal Dave (ex-Sailors homo): I played him free-jazz malarkey and he forced me to listen to generic garage rock, but the drunken results were so dire I never published it anywhere. This one's much better. I applaud any u/ground publishing magnate who makes the effort to put ink to real-life paper in the year 2009 and actually gets it out to the public; I give them a round of applause when the results are this good. As the front cover says: Superior Toilet Literature. I've had to pack up all my 'zines the last few days for a room switch to make some space for the kids, and my collection, seeing it all now in cardboard boxes, has overwhelmed me. There must be over a thousand of them. Niche Homo is finding its home there, too. I'm expecting a Honey Ride Me A Goat piece in the next issue.
You've heard the album, you've bought the DVD, now read the true story of the mighty Imperial Dogs. Check it out here: an excellent piece and interview w/ Dog Don Waller done by none other than Dave Laing. The other guy.