There aren’t many better ways to start a new year than a release from L7, and it’s ever better when it’s a recording of a crazy 1990 live show in Detroit. Detroit begins with the band apologizing for arriving late, co-lead vocalist and guitarist Donita Sparks making fun of a drunk guy in the crowd, and then having issues with guitarist / co-lead vocalist Suzi Gardner‘s microphone before unleashing a sonic assault with “Fast and Frightening.” Thankfully, Gardner’s microphone works just fine for “(Right on) Thru” as she belts out the vocals like a professional boxer.
“Scrap” chugs along like a monster truck. “Broomstick” is a forgotten metal classic. “Packin’ a Rod” seems to fly by at 100mph (and ends with more great banter of Sparks taking down the rude drunk). The inclusion of one of their earliest hits, “Cat-O’-Nine-Tails” is a welcome one, and the first time I’ve heard it live. It’s crazier (and better) than I’d hoped it would be. “Deathwish” is like a saw slicing through a log while the lumber mill is being swarmed by killer bees. It ends with more fun banter like Sparks promising she’ll learn how to play guitar before their next tour.
“Till the Wheels Fall Off” has drummer Dee Plakas going bonkers through the whole track and probably terrifying most of the men in the crowd. Gardner’s vocals on “Shove” are, as always, more like a hockey check than a push. They end on “Bloodstains” before coming back for a fiery encore. They initially offer to take requests, but that quickly devolves into drunken chaos in the crowd and Sparks dealing with tuner problems. Bassist Jennifer Finch briefly teases playing some Black Sabbath before they announce “This is really going to suck, but we’re gonna do it anyway,” and launch into “Shitlist.” This was when “Shitlist” hadn’t reached its levels of popularity that it has today. This is the first time I’ve heard reverb effects on Sparks’ vocals (as she dedicates the song to her broken tuner), and they push her voice to the back wall of the venue.
Keep your mind open.
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Watch Video For Lead Single “Watch You, Watch Me”
[Photo by Joseph Yarmush]
Felt lead single “Watch You, Watch Me” debuts today via NPR Music. The song showcases an organic/synthetic rush that builds and builds atop drummer Liam O’Neill’s elevatory rhythm. O’Neill exclaims, “It was different and exciting. In the past, there was a more concerted effort on my part to drum in a controlled and genre-specific way. Self-consciously approaching things stylistically. Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas.”
Complementing O’Neill are the ecstatic, Harmonia-meets-Game Boy patterns unleashed by electronics mastermind Max Henry. Eschewing presets, Henry devised fresh sounds for each song on Felt while also becoming a default musical director, orchestrating patches and oscillations. Quietly enthusing about “freaky post-techno” and Frank Ocean’s use of space, he’s among your more modest studio desk jockeys: “Yeah, I sat in the control room while the others played – hitting ‘record’ and ‘stop’. It also gave me the flexibility to move parts around and play with effects. I do have a sweet tooth for pop music.”
Accompanying “Watch You, Watch Me” is a video directed by Russ Murphy. “Often we think we know peoples’ faces well, especially casual acquaintances but when we stop and really stare at them they start to look different to us,” says Murphy. “I wanted the video to give you that slightly odd feeling and also the uncomfortable feeling of being watched. Mainly I wanted it to be a crazy, frenetic & unsettling like the track itself.”
Suuns are proud of their roots in Canada’s most socialist province, whilst not sounding quite like anything else the city has produced. Quebecois natives Shemie and Joseph Yarmush founded the group just over a decade ago, the latter having moved to Montreal from a nearby village. The only member not to be formally schooled in jazz, guitarist Yarmush studied photography and utilized his visual training to help realize Shemie’s novel concept for the eye-catching album artwork.
“I was at a barbecue last summer and there were balloons everywhere,” recalls the singer. “I like this idea of pressure, resistance, and pushing against something just before it brakes. And there is something strangely subversive about a finger pushing into a balloon. It seemed to fit the vibe of the record we were making. We made plaster casts of our hands, going for a non-denominational statue vibe. Joe came up with the colour scheme, the sickly green background, and shot the whole cover in an hour.”
It’s a suitably outré image for Felt, which breaks with Suuns’ earlier darkness for a more optimistic ambience. The record’s playful atmosphere is echoed by its double meaning title. “Some people might think of the material,” muses Ben. “I like that that could be misconstrued. Also it’s to have felt and not to feel – a little introspective, but that feeling’s in the past.”
Shoegaze rock legends RIDE, fresh off the success of their excellent return album The Weather Diaries, are already preparing a new EP, Tomorrow’s Shore, due out this February 16th. The newest single from it, “Catch You Dreaming,” is out now and mixes dreamy riffs with their uplifting lyrics. 2018 is already setting up to be a good year for shoegaze.
Keep your mind open.
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Austin, Texas punk / no wave legends Terminal Mind only blazed through the Austin scene for three years (1978 – 1981), but they are back with a powerful release of rare cuts from their short time together. Recordings collects a rare four-song 7″, live cuts, and unreleased studio tracks. It’s a solid collection and already in the running for best reissue of 2018.
Opening with the skronky, bold “I Want to Die Young,” the band’s powerhook guitars are put front and center right away. “I see life as a TV at midnight, nothing but static and outdated reruns,” Steve Marsh sings as he dreams of becoming something better than he is now before he gets old and waits for a heart attack.
“Refugee” has Marsh continuing his themes of alienation as he sings, “In a war, there are winners and losers. I’m in-between.” The post-punk attitude of “Sense of Rhythm” is sharp as a hatchet (and so is the drumming). “Zombieland” sounds like an early Devo cut as Marsh sings about the joys of “living in negative space” and ignoring the suffering and injustice around you. The guitars on it devolve into a wild cacophony that almost sounds like air raid sirens by the end.
“Obsessed with Crime” has a raw energy not unlike something you’d hear from the Stooges. Terminal Mind once opened for them, so the influence shouldn’t surprise anyone. The guitars and bass on “Fear in the Future” are downright dangerous. Marsh growls “Time is a trigger, I hold it in my hand. I point it at the future. I think you understand.”
The live tracks begin with the snappy “Radioactive,” in which Marsh sings about hoping to have super powers so he can survive a nuclear war and watch everything burn around him. The equally speedy “Bridges Are for Burning” follows it.
“No one wants to know the meaning of life anymore,” Marsh sings on the angry “(I Give Up on) Human Rights.” “Black” is like Joy Division if they decided to speed up the beats and crank up the distortion. You can almost feeling the audience grooving during “Missing Pieces.” The keyboards on “Bureaucracy” slather the song in a glorious, distorted noise that ends the album on a high, post-punk note.
Three years was too short for a band this good, but at least we have this reissue to remember Terminal Mind. Let’s hope for some new material in the future. I’d love to hear their take on modern times.
Keep your mind open.
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Australian psych-rock work horses King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard set out at the beginning of 2017 to do something in one year that many bands don’t do over the course of an entire career – release five albums. Yes, five albums in one year. The band has always been prolific, but this seemed a bit nuts.
The endcap on KGATLW’s crazy year is a mix of mellow and heavy that sums up 2017 pretty well for them. Opener “Beginner’s Luck” is, on its surface, a song about gambling in a casino but is secretly about addictions and temptations. The walking bass line on it is great. “Greenhouse Heat Death” takes us from the mellow feel of the opening track to the distorted and warped feel of KGATLW’s heavier material. Some microtonal touches are sprinkled in for good measure, too.
Stu MacKenzie‘s flute takes lead on the quirky “Barefoot Desert.” “Muddy Water” is a sharp track that I suspect might be a take on a Taoist story about being a happy turtle in the mud instead of becoming a glorious dead shell in a palace. The song builds into Middle Eastern-flavored rocker that never lets go of your attention.
Believe it or not, the band moves into a bit of synth-psych (or is it psych-synth?) on “Superposition,” combining synthesizers with flute, more great bass and drumming, and ethereal vocals. “Down the Sink” has a Bee Gees-inspired beat that I love. I hadn’t considered before if KGATLW were inspired by their fellow Aussies, but this track makes it seem obvious. It’s not a disco cut, mind you, but that wicked dual drummer beat is definitely something Barry Gibb might’ve cooked up in the studio.
“The Great Chain of Being” is a guttural chunk of stoner metal and a wild contrast to some of the earlier tracks. It’s like Sleep and Electric Wizard squaring off in a dirty pub. Just to mess with us, they follow it with “The Last Oasis” – a lovely track that reminds me of some of Thundercat‘s work, but with lyrics that sound like they’ve been lounging under a palm tree all day.
“All Is Known” is sort of a bridge between Flying Microtonal Banana and Nonagon Infinity as it combines the microtonal guitar work of the first album with the dead-run beats and mind-blown lyrics of the second. “I’m Sleepin’ In” could easily be a Sketches of East Brunswick B-side. I love its subtle harmonica work behind the distorted hip hop beats. The closing track is “The Wheel” – an acid lounge cut that tells us that the cosmic “wheel that spins us into our future” is the same one that brings us back to where we started.
It would’ve been easy for KGATLW to make their final release of 2017 a live album or a collection of B-sides and outtakes, but they stuck to their promise and delivered five albums of original material. Each of them is quality stuff, and Gumboot Soup is no exception.
Keep your mind open.
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Atlanta, Georgia’s Shaky Knees Music Festival has announced its lineup for 2018. There are some great acts to see over the course of three days in May. Jack White will probably be playing a lot of material from his upcoming album, as will David Byrne, Franz Ferdinand, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bully, and Marlon Williams. The Black Angels, Parquet Courts, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre will be fresh off their shows at Levitation 2018. I’d also be sure to check out L.A. Witch if I were there.
Three-day tickets start at $179.00, so don’t wait too long to score yours. They also offer layaway plans starting with a 40% down payment.
Keep your mind open.
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Terminal Mind premiere track from forthcoming retrospective Recordings
Extremely rare collectors’ fave 7″, Live at Raul’s compilation cuts and unreleased studio & live tracks from Austin first wave punk trio
“Grayscale art-rock with punk desperation channeled through instrumental and songwriting legitimacy…Terminal Mind remains an act locals still celebrate despite a short lifespan and being under-recorded.” — Austin Chronicle
First-wave Austin, TX punk trio Terminal Mind premiere the first track from their forthcoming retrospective album today via Austin Chronicle. Recordings collects the short lived band’s 4-song 7″ (which fetches upwards of $100 on eBay), Live At Raul‘s compilation cuts and outstanding unreleased studio and live recordings. Hear and share “Refugee” HERE. (Direct Soundcloud.)
Terminal Mind, formed in 1978, was one of the early first-wave punk acts in Austin, TX. Based far from the urban roots of a genre in its earliest stages, the band absorbed influences as disparate as Pere Ubu, Roxy Music, John Cale, and Wire. The life span was short, but their influence touched many of the next generation of Texas noise and hardcore acts as they shared bills with fellow proto-punks The Huns and Standing Waves at Raul’s, The Big Boys on the UT campus, and even opened for Iggy Pop at the Armadillo World Headquarters.
Founding members Steve Marsh and the Murray Brothers, Doug and Greg, started as a trio before adding synthesizer player Jack Crow. Steve Marsh moved to New York with his experimental noise band Miracle Room (before eventually returning to Austin and forming space/psychedelic rock band Evil Triplet and beginning an experimental solo project dubbed Radarcave), while Doug Murary joined the Skunks and Greg Murray played in a later version of The Big Boys. Jack Crow passed away in 1994.
This collection of songs is a journey back to the ‘anything goes’ first steps of American punk as it left the dirty streets of New York and Los Angeles and made its way into the heartland. Like the Austin of 1978, Recordings is a small outpost of musical individualism that planted seeds for the alternative music explosion familiar to later generations.
Recordings will be available on LP, CD and download on January 19th, 2018 via Sonic Surgery Records.
Artist: Terminal Mind
Label: Sonic Surgery Records
Release Date: January 19, 2018
01. I Want to Die Young
03. Sense of Rhythm
05. Obsessed With Crime
06. Fear In the Future
08. Bridges Are For Burning
09. (I Give Up On) Human Rights
11. Missing Pieces
On The Web:
Today is David Bowie‘s birthday. He would’ve been 71. There are many ways to celebrate this day, but one of the best comes from Neil Rodgers of Chic, who produced Bowie’s big comeback single, “Let’s Dance.” Rodgers has released a demo version of the track, with himself on guitar and Bowie having a fun time with the lyrics. It’s the skeleton of what would become a powerhouse single and the rest of the Let’s Dance album.
Keep your mind open.
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