Blacktop: I Got a Baaad Feelin' About This
Mick Collins of the Gories really stews things up with bassist Alex Cuervo and Fireworks regulars Darin Lin Wood (geetar) and Janet Walker (drums). Still a psychobluesy swamp thing like the Gories stuff, but more soulful and personal--heaps of love and hate, less abstraction. This foursome has come up with one of the best sounds I've ever heard--like "King Ink" by the Birthday Party, or The Cramps' "Human Fly," most of Blacktop's songs can transport you and gnaw at you simply with their own sonic quality. God be praised though, because the wonderful badness just begins with this trashed lounge production.
The specifics get even better. This be quality noise here--stripped back, yet so raw and in your face that you have to take notice of the back alley beat, lovely searing feedback, and Collins' rough, bluesy voice--which makes Vedder sound like he's still in Junior high--before you happily surrender.
All this praise is well deserved. Even live, they are great. Walker uses a garbage can lid for her cymbal, but that just hints at the beautiful mess they produce on stage. Collins kept playing to the meager but enthusiastic audience a few songs more than their planned set because he was so pleased with the especially raunchy guitar sound he had that night.
Blacktop's discography @ Grunnen
IN THE RED RECORDS: 2627 E. Strong Pl./Anaheim, CA 92806/USA
Cheater Slicks: On Your Knees
A very messy album taking fuckabilly knee deep into the sewers. These guys must not originally be from Boston. It's not that all other Boston bands suck, rather it's that these guys produce some of the noisiest, most dissonant music on the planet. Call this a (semi)musical representation of Mardi Gras under siege.
"On Your Knees" might capture this best. A scathing rant full of enough hatred to make Nick Cave proud (or jealous), "On Your Knees" attacks the listener by creating a verbal and sonic hell. Perhaps the world's swellest example of "uneasy listening" music, "On Your Knees" makes the hair on my back crawl, but isn't the only great song on this album. The catchy, "A Sad Guitar" fucks with sentimentality, "Weirdo on a Train" makes me think of Dostoievski's Underground Man, and the thing as a whole is awe fully wonderful. You can get great echoes in those big waste tunnels.
gawdawful records: PO Box 1331/Cambridge, MA 02238/USA
Cheater Slicks: Whiskey
Having spent so much time on my favorite Cheater's album above, I just want to highly recommend this other chilling piece from a fine band that deserves far more recognition than they have received. They're a good example of a band that becomes "legendary" while they're still together, yet never really develop a large fan base. Aside from their fine cover of the Scientist's "Set It on Fire," I didn't hear anything of them until my buddy Johnny P. received and subsequently reviewed their recent single, "Wedding Song"\"Walk Down the Street." A snob about the Scientist's work for years, I didn't really accept any of the various covers I heard on that comp until a year or so ago.
For those who have heard some of their music but didn't like it, give these guys another chance if you like some of the other bands I recommend. Just listen to how Tom and David Shannon weave their guitar work together. Notice how well they miss notes and deliberately fuck up chords. They're taking Trash-a-billy in an interesting and unique direction--after getting influenced by some of the best.
Listen to their newer "Don't Like You" as well. Less abrasive than their other stuff--hence less appealing to me--most of the songs on it are quite good, although "Mystery Ship" is dull and Jon Spencer's vocals on "Sensitive Side" sound too stoned for my tastes.
Their live show made me a believer. Noise. Dissonance. Noise. Angst. Drummer\Singer Dana Hatch--obviously loaded --looked as fucked up as he does on the bands "Don't Like You" album cover, except he screamed a lot behind his snare. It reminded me of the short film called "Drum Sticks," which comes with that Japanese cyberpunk cinematic classic "Tetsuo." Noise. Great guitar play back and forth between the Shannon Brothers. Noise, and more noise. A full convert after that disturbing and joyful evening, I made them welcome on my floor and purchased as much of their music as I could. They were kind enough to give me "On Your Knees" for free when it was warped and barely playable on my turntable. It couldn't sound better.
Cheaters' discography @Grunnen
IN THE RED RECORDS: 2627 E. Strong Pl./Anaheim, CA 92806/USA
The Chrome Cranks: The Chrome Cranks
One of the only bands who shamelessly plagiarize from the scientists and do it well. Is Peter Aaron Kim Salmon? No, but the influence works out well on this, the Cranks' first CD. Bass, drums, 2 geetars and vocals, the Cranks conjure up repetitive minimalistic musical drunken rantings.
Now that we've got the obligatory Scientists comparison taken care of, these guys stand on their own and offer up some messy, throbbin' swank young and old alike can enjoy. The drunken "Subway Man" offers up a memorable rant--likely the dictations of a late night lunatic in one of NYC's various subway tunnels. From the Bad Apple, the Cranks sound like they spend a lot of time down in them stinky holes. On "Outta My Heart," Aaron screams out his love/hate for some special someone--this one is lovely and a favorite of the ladies.
Fantastic live, the Cranks turn the noise and hypnotic qualities of their music up to "11" and put on a great show. Rhythm guitarist William Weber hid behind a stack to the right side of the stage and maintained the same expression throughout the whole performance; drummer Charles Hanson hid behind the drums and didn't change his expression either; Jerry Teel paid attention to his bass (looking at the guy, one can tell he's lived a hard life), and front man\backdoor maniac Peter Aaron shimmied in tight black leather pants and sang into his hair. Near the end of the show, Aaron collapsed to the floor as he moved the audience through "Outta My Heart," putting a smile on the faces of America's children.
Chrome Cranks' discography @ Grunnen
PCP ENTERTAINMENT: PO Box 1689/ New York, NY 10009-8908/or/Matador Records Inc./676 Broadway/New York, NY 10012/USA
The Drags: Dragsploitation ...Now!"
Wow! If you like retro garage angst with a catchy pop sensibility that adds, rather than detracts from the songs, discover The Drags in every form you can. Clocking in at 14 min, this eight song cd shakes off all 70s classic long song and guitar jack off to provide dense, yet wonderfully sloppy diamonds that shine with no sparkle. Keeping to the basics, and then cutting back even more (especially production), they manage to produce music that sticks to the beat but exhibits an uncontrolled sensibility at the same time. This has a lot to do with the relative tightness of the bass and drums, while the guitarist/singer alternately follows and fucks with what the other two are doing. Obviously unconcerned with control and a clean sound, he creates amazing psychosis on as many as six strings--if he hasn't been playing the instrument for more than a few songs, since he often breaks them skinny metal snakes with his erratic style of staccato. This fine shit cuts right to the quick.
Let's just say that I'm going out to HelLA to see these folks again because they were so good the first time. Full of energy and two minute beauties, this band screams itself through more songs than Pink Floyd has written since Syd Barrett left back in the late sixties. Of course, it's better as well.
Write the Drags at: 2300-B Central SE/Box 198/Albuquerque, NM 87106/USA
Estrus/PO Box 2125/ Bellingham, WA 98227/USA
Cheapo Crypt Sampler CD
More on this later, but I've just gotta say that this is a Must Have. Unlike so many samplers, this one actually has great songs by great bands. Crypt deserves as much credit as that other amazing label that nobody knows about, Estrus. With bands like The New Bomb Turks, Teengenerate, The Oblivians, Fireworks, The Gories, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and etc., how can you go wrong? As the cover says, "31 songs! 16 bands! 77 minutes of pure, hearty, rockin' raunch!"
Crypt label's discography @ Grunnen
CRYPT/MATADOR RECORDS: 676 Broadway/New York, NY 10012/USA