Punk rock jams out of Iowa City? Who knew? Well, now you do. Xerox recently released their debut on Hard Art Records, and “Revision” is the first track that has been made available and it’s a good one. They may be from the midwest, but they are definitely bringing their best sneering English attitude for this one.
The arrangement and verse/chorus/verse structure straddles the line between straight up punk rock and something a little more pop oriented. The crystal clear production and tight ensemble work really takes this out of the realm of the usual ultra-gritty, quick and dirty live sound and into the realm of the polished. Not too polished, let’s not get crazy here.
Clear cut guitar, no feedback squealing throughout every silence like we’re so used to hearing by this point. But the track is no less powerful in spite of it’s more clean and clear nature. This is still firmly rooted in the tenets of punk, but why can’t you find a good balance between greater accessibility within the greater aesthetic. Especially interesting is the way the song builds up right to the end with 16th note snare hits over top of muted guitar strings that seems to point to the development of a new section, but only serves to drive the track to its end.
Check out the track above and head over to Hard Art Records to grab a copy and hear all six tracks of the band’s debut EP.
For the past week or two I kept seeing this band, and this song, pop up and I kept passing it over because I could have sworn that I already posted about this track. But then I finally got un-lazy and actually checked (it took all of 5 seconds, but only because I tried “east link” AND “eastlink”), and realized that I haven’t written about this track yet. I really wish that I had, because this is a rocker that should not go overlooked. Just think of how ahead of the curve I could have been.
Australia’s Eastlink just released their first full-length on In The Red. This band is going strong with four guitars, Diarrhea Planet style. Completely overdriven, out of control and thrashing through this blistering four-minute track. The track is about half-buildup, promptly focusing its attention toward one unrelenting riff and intense vocals. I’m actually having a hard time trying to figure out if I am comfortable going with the “kraut-rock” label. I think that just because of the sheer volume and intensity, that doesn’t even try to hold back or express restraint in any way, that this is certainly not kraut-rock. It’s a whole lot of sound coming out of your speakers, trying its best to completely obliterate them.
The track listing here might be a bit close to irrelevant from my view, because I think that it may just be better to focus on the entire album as a single entity. That sort of listening really works well for the album. It’s just one long instrumental psych-rock journey. Sure, there are the elements of kraut-rock that tend to pop up in these sorts of albums, but by and large each song is one sprawling landscape of alternating chugging power chords, delicate melodies and fuzzed out bliss with the occasional sudden harmony shift that will really grab your attention.
Great guitar tones throughout, usually a generous layering of reverb and ever so slight delay tinges the quieter moments. On the other hand there is the deep satisfying crunch of thick, heavy, almost pitchless super low fuzzed out bass that helps to really boost the more raucous parts of songs. Each song just continuously drives towards a seemingly never attainable goal, propelling itself headlong into the next track. Reverie starts out as a mass of amorphous sludge with rattling retro-futuristic synth sounds buzzing through the speakers, panning from one side to the next amidst a growing dense cluster of various guitar noises and feedback. It’s a nice little break before “Strange Wave Galore” comes in at full-thrash level. And just when you thought things couldn’t get, or wouldn’t get, any more heavy, “The Sweet Confusion” starts up and just keeps on thrashing for nearly 6 minutes.
I should probably mention at some point that the band is from the Netherlands, and that their album, “Strange Wave Galore” came out back in February on the band’s Bandcamp page. It’s available as a download from that site, of course, but it is also now available for order on ultra-limited (200 copies) clear vinyl, as well as black & white splatter vinyl. If you are interested more in saving a few bucks than getting the clear vinyl then you may want to head over to the Permanent Records site, as they have some import copies that are most likely cheaper than having vinyl shipped overseas.
Tuesday: More music from the endlessly prolific Ty Segall. This tune coming from his latest project, Fuzz. The 7″ single also features a track by CCR Headcleaner with all proceeds from digital download sales going to help music education programs in schools.
I’ll admit that I tend to get a little bit bogged down in the details from time to time. It’s part of my job, and part of who I am, so sometimes I can’t help it. As a music theorist I’m always trying to dig deeper into the function of every single note and looking for patterns and so on and so forth.
Sometimes, though, it’s just good to listen to some instrumental sludge/doom/stoner metal to really take my mind off of all the other music that I should be thinking about. I think that part of what allows me to do this is the kraut-rock-ish plodding of the low, droning, open strings, that sort of lulls me into a calmer state of being. One wouldn’t normally think of doom metal as being particularly relaxing, but then again I’m not exactly the gold standard of normativity either.
That timbre, the thick crunch of a guitar’s wound strings processed through about 10 Marshall stacks with the bass doubling everything an octave below, that’s what it’s all about with this music. That and the riffs. Something about it, and even after years of trying I’m still not able to figure out exactly what it is that does this, but it feels as though not just the music is going in slow motion, but all life around the music is going in slow motion. That definitely makes the genre worthy of the label.
The way I see it, all stoner metal/riff rock starts with Black Sabbath. It’s basically proto-metal, but it started out nearly fully formed. Take a riff, smother it in thick distortion and play it until your fingers bleed. Over and over and over again. Poland’s stoner/doom metal Belzebong has that thick crunch down. I think the guitars are tuned down to what sounds like a C, though to be honest it is kind of difficult to discern pitch when things get so low, and then put on top of that the distortion and the fact that the chords are all root-fifth-octave. Things get muddy. The track, “Dungeon Vultures,” doesn’t cover too much territory across its 14 minutes, but I’m definitely not complaining. Some artists make 5 minutes seem like an eternity, but this 14 minutes goes by, I wouldn’t say quickly, but it certainly doesn’t feel like nearly an entire album side. “Dungeon Vultures” was recorded last year, and is limited to only 500 copies, there are still some available Check out the track below.
After enjoying your 14 minutes of dirge and distortion, you can pick yourself up again with the closer-to-standard-tuning, comparatively swinging and bluesy riff-rocker “Blind Seer” by Green & Wood. This one’s a little more in the realm of a standard tune: under 5 minutes and with sneering vocals. I still can’t shake the feeling that, though not as sludgy, or doom-y, that an air of kraut-rock sensibility still exists. We’re reminded of the Black Sabbath connection at about the 2:40 mark, as the song chugs into a very Tony Iommi-esque breakdown. You can check that one out below.
“Blind Seer” appears on Green & Wood’s 2011 release “Devil’s Plan.” It seems like it’s a bit hard to find, but there are a couple copies floating around if you want them.
Belzebong is on tour throughout Europe right now. Dates can be found at their bandcamp.
I have a few different things that I’m working on right now that are going to take some more time to write than I have right now, but luckily I have an inbox full of music that I am trying to get through. I figure that now, toward the end of the year where new releases are getting fewer and farther between that I would do some housecleaning and share with you some of the very worthwhile stuff that I have been checking out.
First up is some heavy garage rock coming from our friends at Permanent Records in Chicago and L.A. The band is Basic Cable and the release is titled “I’m Good to Drive.” Officially released just two days ago “I’m good to drive” is the 39th release on Permanent Records’ own label. The track is a lot cleaner in production than other garagey offerings coming our way from the P-rex crew, but still delivers all the noise and reckless abandon that anyone could hope for. Take a listen to the track “Blonde Ambition” below.
Next up: what kind of a week would it be if Thee Oh Sees didn’t release something. The stream of non-stop ass-kickers continues with “What You Need (The Porch Boogie Thing),” reminding us that the band has released their 3rd singles collection, available now from Castle Face, there are still a few copies of the Pepto Pink vinyl left, as well as CDs. Listen to the track below, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Thee Oh Sees, and they are never ones to disappoint. Oh, and while you are over there at Castle Face, why not pick up a copy of the new White Fence Live in San Francisco recording, and I should add that I picked up the Fuzz EP live from the San Francisco Eagle, and that record (recorded direct to tape) sounds amazing. Guitar crunch and gut punching bass for days.
And now for something completely different. The Delay in the Universal Loop is from Benevento, Italy and they just released an album this past week entitled “Disarmonia.” The track below is “Spasmodica,” a song which starts off delicately enough, but takes a few twists and turns in the course of 4 minutes. The 17 year old Dylan Luliano is responsible for every aspect of the album, playing all the instruments, singing and writing all of the songs. More information and tons of links can be found here. “Disarmonia” is available worldwide right now. And you should maybe act fast because apparently there are an extremely (30?!) limited number of physical copies available. Head to the bandcamp page to check it out.
Enjoy those, and follow the links to some of the other stuff available from the Factum Est and Permanent Records soundcloud pages. Lots of worth stuff there.
I kind of hate when the video is just for the audio, but sometimes (this time being one of them) the songs are so worth hearing that it really doesn’t matter.
Earthless is based out of San Diego, creating grimy blues based riffs full of swagger. Each track relaxes into a groove before letting it rip, repeating that form and finding different ways to vary it within the structure. Alternately locking into a groove and then breaking off into a solo, backbeat holding steady, bass matching lead guitar in dexterous maneuvers. I think that if the solo in “Violence of the Red Sea” went on for another 10 minutes I probably wouldn’t mind. And speaking of that song, that bass line sounds about one note off from “Ironman,” but I’m definitely not complaining. Take it and run with it.
Each track is about 15 minutes, give or take, of crushing riffs. “Uluru Rock,” the second side of this 2xLP takes things a little slower, in minor key creepiness. For me, though, the titular track that closes the album is the highlight. Check it out above at the 34:52 mark.
The album is currently available on Tee Pee Records. Earthless is currently on tour in Europe, but North American tour dates in support of “From the Ages” are expected to be announced soon.