Friday, May 31, 2013

Weird Science, Family Curse, Fake Surfers

May 28, 2013 • Café Bourbon St., Columbus, Ohio

Yep, two concerts in one night. An unprecedented affair, but I couldn't say no to this one even though I'd already bought my Melvins ticket. I was invited by my cousin Chris of This Moment in Black History fame, who has been playing with Family Curse in Brooklyn lately. Café Bourbon St. itself is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place like Carabar or Kobo, grimy but with just the right amount of punk charm to it. Unfortunately I arrived too late to hear the first band, Goners, but was in plenty of time to catch the remaining three bands. (Sorry Goners; I'm sure you were great.)

Fake Surfers

This band was a real nice surprise. Hardcore punk with a very minimal setup—just drums and guitar—but it turns out you can do a lot with that. Though they aren't a terribly unique band, their show was still very impressive. Special props to the fantastic drumming; fast, raw, and a bit technical.
7Second-Longest Hair Award

Family Curse

Really awesome stuff, not that I expected any less. Family Curse does a garage punk thing that's actually pretty similar to This Moment in Black History, but with a bit more of a New York sound, obviously. Less screams, but the same knack for intensity and melody. Very awesome rhythm section, especially; they definitely ripped it up over their whole set. It helped that the audience was obviously there to see them specifically and really got into the set, too.
8Best Spontaneous Drumkit-Smashing Award

Weird Science

The low point of the show for me, though they weren't terrible. They seemed to start off as melodic punk like Hüsker Dü or Sun God, but they also had a bit of a hard rock (almost metal) edge to their stuff, going so far as to cover a Steppenwolf song (ugh). It might have been a better show if more people stuck around, but that's what happens, I guess.
6Most Unnecessary Amount of Guitars Award

Thursday, May 30, 2013


May 28, 2013 • A&R Music Bar, Columbus, Ohio

I've never been much into Melvins, especially compared to most sludge/doom fans, but I figured I shouldn't pass up on an opportunity to see a band considered by so many to be legendary and hugely influential. I remembered a little too late that I don't actually like Melvins as much as I thought I did. Sure, they have some good stuff (like (A) Senile Animal) but I was never a big fan of their slow, drone-doomy material.

The show in general was a mixed bag: some of that slow, drone-doomy stuff, and some faster songs as well. Unfortunately most of what I saw at A&R was the former, and I wasn't taken with it. During the longer songs it got very repetitive, to the point where I got bored more than a few times (entertaining myself by seeing if the two drummers would hit the cymbal they shared at the same time). It didn't help that I only recognized perhaps one song (although, again, I don't listen to them much). I did enjoy when they did pull out the faster songs, which I could get into; there just wasn't enough of that. The sound was good, though; even with earplugs it was quite loud (though I felt like I heard more of it through my body than my ears, with all the bass frequencies going on). And to be fair, there were plenty of other people there who were enjoying it, and it's obviously a matter of personal preference, but my impressions weren't great.

Speaking of other people, Melvins have some real asshole fans. I guess any semi-famous band gets its share, but come on, have some sense of respect for others' personal space. And put a shirt on. Goddamn.

So after nearly two hours, I had had my fill, so I left (only the second show I've ever left early). But I had good reason. Tune in next time to read why in our exciting conclusion!
5Best Wizard Robe Award

Friday, May 24, 2013

Liquid Delay – Noösphere EP

April 14, 2013 • Axaminer Netlabel

I found this little piece on Bandcamp in yet another attempt to broaden my knowledge of electronic music with a search for dub techno. (Yeah, I haven't branched out too far yet.) And, as I've said a million times, it's amazing what you find tucked away in those hidden corners, even with free releases. Noösphere is a solid little EP throughout, if a bit derivative, though that's hardly an issue.

It would be a little unfair to call Liquid Delay another Burial or Echospace knockoff, but unfortunately that's more or less what this EP amounts to: syncopated beats that super deep and bassy, glitchy and atmospheric echoes of synths and samples. Tones arpeggiate up and down, tumbling through some rhythmically complex and satisfying percussion, backed by pulsing industrial noises. No vocals, no gimmicks, just pure and unadulterated dub techno. (Well, there's also a not-insignificant amount of straight ambient as well, but that might just come with the dub territory. I'm not sure.)

If that description makes Noösphere sound a bit generic, know that it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. It's an incredibly well-made EP and not a moment is wasted over its half-hour runtime. The tracks have a good amount of diversity and each evolve individually over time, so it's hard to get bored. And compared to a lot of similar albums, this one feels incredibly laid-back and dreamy, which is kind of neat in its own way.

Of course, being free, I hardly need give reason to recommend it, do I?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Adam Brent Houghtaling – This Will End in Tears: The Miserabilist Guide to Music

2012 • It Books

If I haven't said it enough before on this blog, I love listening to sad music, to the point where it's often a conscious habit I get into. So I was naturally drawn to this book when I first saw it... and it's basically exactly what one would expect. It's quite informative, often entertaining, and easy to read, and even though it tends to focus a lot on lyrics (something I don't usually care much about) I found myself enjoying it.

One of the bigeest positives about this book is its huge scope when it comes to what kinds of music to cover. Many popular music books tend to just cover popular music (and always the same tired artists everyone already knows), but not here. Genres ranged from pop to rock to classical to jazz to country to ambient and even a touch of the avant-garde. Its broadness also means shorter chapters—each just a handful of pages long at most—making the book very easy to pick up and read casually in small sessions.

Unfortunately this also meant that, for its broad coverage, most of it isn't particularly deep; the artist chapters are mostly biographies without as much as I'd like in the way of more concrete musical descriptions. However, this is certainly made up for in the more specific chapters on lyrical themes (heartbreak, death, substance abuse, etc.) and individual works (such as "Taps" or Basinski's Disintegration Loops). Regardless, it's still obviously very much a learning experience—I doubt many people are going to be familiar with every artist included (I knew maybe half of them, and I consider myself relatively well-read—perhaps erroneously).

And of course unlike books that are more informative, history-based (like the ones I've already reviewed), it's tough to get a good sense of the music described here without actually hearing it. I'd love to have a mix CD of the top songs featured in the top 100. I guess it's the sort of book that's best read with YouTube readily available for some audial context; I didn't have that when I read it. Even still, it's an enjoyable read for sure.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Leftöver Crack – Fuck World Trade

Hooray, I'm back! Gonna ease back into this with something long, complicated, and unprecedented.

August 31, 2004 • Alternative Tentacles

It always strikes me as a bit odd, the huge number of different ways people get into some kinds of music. The reason I started listening to Leftöver Crack was because a kid I knew in college had a shirt of theirs and wore it frequently; it would be over four years (well after I started listening to punk) before I thought to give their stuff a listen. And I played this album three times in a row that day, that's how struck with it I was.

Which is made all the more strange by the fact that, up until that point, I'd never been into ska or ska punk whatsoever (and I'm basically still not), but on Fuck World Trade I love how it's done. Perhaps it's the slight metal fusion on a few tracks and the heavy use of old-school '80s-style hardcore punk—that opening track was tailor-made just for me and worked perfectly at drawing me in. They switch back and forth from ska to punk to metal completely seamlessly and very effectively. The stylistic diversity is unmatched when it comes to punk, and there is absolutely no point at which the album gets tired or boring. Their use of different instruments help, too; there's piano, a string quartet, and accordions and whatever the heck else World/Inferno Friendship Society plays on "Soon We'll Be Dead".

I suppose that the real selling point for me is the driving power of the album as a whole. Despite the light and dancy ska and the occasional silly bit (or maybe because of them), Fuck World Trade is an album with powerful conviction. It's a dark album, I guess, and even melancholy at parts, but there are glimmers of hopefulness and cynical optimism throughout—bits like the gang-vocals and singalong style of the chorus of "Gang Control"—that make it all the better. It's anthemic, for lack of a better word. Simple riffs are just sometimes the best. I'm not sure why I like that aspect here when I usually don't, but I guess it just works. Best not question it.

While I'd normally ignore the lyrics, it's arguable that they add significantly to the album's mood; even if you don't agree with the messages, it's hard not to admire the enthusiasm and passion with which they're delivered. I can do without a bit of the political preachiness, but I'll let it slide this time simply because the music is so good that it really doesn't matter.

While I have to admit that Fuck World Trade is something of a niche album, even though it's not terribly well-known, most people who heard it seem to enjoy it—just perhaps not as much as I do. As it's coming up on its 10th anniversary by now, it'll probably languish in relative obscurity forever, but those of us who have found it are definitely privileged.