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Monthly Archives: November 2008

One of the worst album covers ever made, but I GUARANTEE you this is great! -Ian!

Four guys holding English degrees from Ohio State University, the New Bomb Turks have been declared as leaders in the punk rock revolution by spiked-haired, hardcore punkers everywhere. They are not pop-punk, but ferociously aggressive and fast, borrowing from the Pagans, Dead Boys, and so on. The band’s name comes from Robert Wuhl’s character in an early-’80s B movie, The Hollywood Nights, which also marked the film debuts of Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Destroy-Oh-Boy! is the kind of full-on flamethrower album that could make the most jaded cynic believe once again in the curative powers of punk rock. On this set, the New Bomb Turks combine 1950s and 1960s roots rock at it’s rawest, ’70s punk at it’s snottiest, and ’80s hardcore at it’s most intense. Then they filter out what’s lame, put the good stuff together, and send it down the track at 150 miles per hour. The results are wild, frantic, and thoroughly enjoyable; Jim Weber’s fuzzy guitar communicates nearly as much through the power of downstroke as Johnny Ramone himself, bassist Matt Reber, and drummer Bill Randt push the horsepower into the red with a fury that is a wonder to behold, and Eric Davidson proves he’s one of the great frontmen of 90s punk: smart, funny, wise-ass when he wants to be, and possessing a genuine sense of purpose. From the moment they crash into “Born Toulouse-Lautrec,” the New Bomb Turks grab your ears and won’t let go, and you won’t mind a bit. Points added for a great garage-style cover of Wire’s “Mr. Suit.”

New Bomb Turks-DESTROY-OH-BOY! (1993)

One of the coolest album covers ever to make up for the New Bomb Turks cover. -Ian!

On Tyranny and Mutation, Blue Öyster Cult achieved the seemingly impossible: they brightened their sound and deepened their mystique. The band picked up their tempos considerably on this sophomore effort, and producers Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman added a lightning bolt of high-end sonics to their frequency range. Add to this the starling lyrical contributions of Pearlman, rock critic Richard Meltzer, and poet-cum-rocker Patti Smith (who was keyboardist Allen Lanier’s girlfriend at the time), the split imagery of Side One’s thematic, “The Red” and Side Two’s “The Black,” and the flip-to-wig-city, dark conspiracy of Gawlik’s cover art, and an entire concept was not only born and executed, it was received. The Black side of Tyranny and Mutation is its reliance on speed, punched-up big guitars, and throbbing riffs such as in “The Red and the Black,” “O.D’d on Life Itself,” “Hot Rails to Hell,” and “7 Screaming Diz-Busters,” all of which showcased the biker boogie taken to a dizzyingly extreme boundary; one where everything flies by in a dark blur, and the articulations of that worldview are informed as much by atmosphere as idea. This is screaming, methamphetamine-fueled rock & roll that was all about attitude, mystery, and a sense of nihilistic humor that was deep in the cuff.

Here was the crossroads: the middle of rock’s Bermuda triangle where BÖC marked the black cross of the intersection between New York’s other reigning kings of mystery theater and absurd excess: the Velvet Underground and Kiss — two years before their first album — and the ” ‘it’s all F#$&%* so who gives a rat’s ass” attitude that embodied the City’s punk chic half-a-decade later. On the Red Side, beginning with the syncopated striations of “Baby Ice Dog,” in which Allen Lanier’s piano was as important as Buck Dharma’s guitar throb, elements of ambiguity and bluesy swagger enter into the mix. Eric Bloom was the perfect frontman: he twirled the words around in his mouth before spitting them out with requisite piss-and-vinegar, and a sense of decadent dandy that underscored the music’s elegance, as well as its power. He was at ease whether the topic was necromancy, S&M, apocalyptic warfare, or cultural dissolution. By the LP’s end, on “Mistress of the Salmon Salt,” Bloom was being covered over by a kind of aggressively architected psychedelia that kept the ’60s at bay while embracing the more aggressive, tenser nature of the times. While BÖC’s Secret Treaties is widely recognized as the Cult’s classic album, one would do well to consider Tyranny and Mutation in the same light.

Blue Oyster Cult-TYRANNY AND MUTATION (1973)

BlankDogs are actually singular: It’s the insanely prolific one-man
Brooklyn-based band of Mr. Blank Dog. We don’t know too much about the
biography of the guy behind the bedroom new-wave pop/punk and he’s
usually covering his face with masks or bedspreads, but that’s fine.
The aura of anonymity allows you to focus on the sounds — and,
really, he might be releasing a ton of things, but there’s definitely
a higher jam to crap ratio. It’s like Joy Division vocal lines with
the Cure’s synth and guitar melodies filtered through ancient
submerged keyboards and eroded recording equipment. And that voice?
All the feedback in the world can’t hide his knack for melody.


Blank Dogs-THE FIELDS (2008)

This and Blank Dogs is amazing! -Ian!

lo-fi beach punk anthems by San Diego’s Nathan Williams. beautiful
timeless melodies on top trash can guitars and blown out drums.14
tracks in 35 minutes. follow up full length to be released by De

Wavves-WAVVES (2008)

Hank IV are older men playing a young man’s game, a game that, if you’re good, you can grandfather yourself into. There’s no secret to reveal on their first album, Third Person Shooter, nor is there any in the superior follow-up Refuge in Genre, as unashamed and rambunctious as any rock record that’s been made since the Volcano Suns hung it up nearly 20 years ago. No lesson, save one: It’s uglier on the outside than on the inside. Young people, listen: the kind of loners who buy every new garage single hate a band like this because it’s a tale of what their lives might become. They call it “bad bar rock,” having never truly experienced a bar rock band in all its putrid shame. Those bands play mostly covers, and couldn’t really understand where a lot like Hank IV are coming from.

So, for the benefit of those not there, here’s where they come from: Colorado, California, and elsewhere. Singer Bob McDonald was in the hardcore band Bum Kon, whose entire body of work was just unleashed on the public; as one of the kingpins behind Revolver Distribution, he’s also the reason many of you have new records to buy in the first place. Guitarist Anthony Bedard was once a member of unparalleled real-life squalor documentarians the Icky Boyfriends, who languished in relative obscurity as those who actually cared about things like success grew wild around them. If the youth turning their backs are lucky enough to survive without severe dependency issues, heart disease or cancer, they will still never be this loose, this bouncy, this rude-sounding yet together. This is the sound of an earlier generation, and the five men of Hank IV explain it through action. It’s an on/off switch of loud, forceful expression, with no time for subtlety. “I heard you say that shit, it sucks,” McDonald belts out on “Symptomatic,” his band chugging along behind him, unafraid of melodies and unfazed by subtleties. Nobody turns down or fades out, and these men proudly scream themselves hoarse over the din.

Those are the basics, so what are the details? Most of the 11 songs couldn’t crack three minutes if they tried, so things move along with the kind of economy these sort of records used to lack. More bands doing it for the fun, as these guys seem to be, need to take the audience’s idea of fun into consideration, so they get in and out with the necessary expedience. There’s one or two rock-solid anthems in here (“Drive the Whip” being one of them) and a fine return to repeat listenability that, in this age of tiny pressings and non-accountability, is refreshing and makes these old-sounding songs play like new. By trafficking in a brand of nostalgia that most would shun, the men of Hank IV have become their own masters, and must answer to no one but themselves.

By Doug Mosurock, Dusted Magazine


Live-Evil is one of Miles Davis’ most confusing and illuminating documents. As a double album, it features very different settings of his band — and indeed two very different bands. The double-LP CD package is an amalgam of a December 19, 1970, gig at the Cellar Door, which featured a band comprised of Miles, bassist Michael Henderson, drummer Jack DeJohnette, guitarist John McLaughlin, saxophonist Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett on organ, and percussionist Airto. These tunes show a septet that grooved hard and fast, touching on the great funkiness that would come on later. But they are also misleading in that McLaughlin only joined the band for this night of a four-night stand; he wasn’t really a member of the band at this time. Therefore, as fine and deeply lyrically grooved-out as these tracks are, they feel just a bit stiff — check any edition of this band without him and hear the difference. The other band on these discs was recorded in Columbia’s Studio B and subbed Ron Carter or Dave Holland on bass, added Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on electric pianos, dropped the guitar on “Selim” and “Nem Um Talvez,” and subbed Steve Grossman over Gary Bartz while adding Hermeto Pascoal on percussion and drums in one place (“Selim”).

In fact, these sessions were recorded earlier than the live dates, the previous June in fact, when the three-keyboard band was beginning to fall apart. Why the discs were not issued separately or as a live disc and a studio disc has more to do with Miles’ mind than anything else. As for the performances, the live material is wonderfully immediate and fiery: “Sivad,” “Funky Tonk,” and “What I Say” all cream with enthusiasm, even if they are a tad unsure of how to accommodate McLaughlin. Of the studio tracks, only “Little Red Church” comes up to that level of excitement, but the other tracks, particularly “Gemini/Double Image,” have a winding, whirring kind of dynamic to them that seems to turn them back in on themselves, as if the band was really pushing in a free direction that Miles was trying to rein in. It’s an awesome record, but it’s because of its flaws rather than in spite of them. This is the sound of transition and complexity, and somehow it still grooves wonderfully.



As good as Dawn was, the weight of the orchestra prevented it from being truly compelling, while its story seemed a bit thin. Eloy fixed both flaws for Ocean, creating their most striking album, a true classic of progressive rock history in Germany and abroad. Written by drummer Jurgen Rosenthal, the lyrics relate to Greek mythology, combining the tale of Poseidon and the myth of Atlantis. Man lost the paradise on Earth that was Atlantis because of his violent nature — an obvious metaphor of the nuclear menace that was still very much alive in 1977. The album consists of four extended pieces that combine atmospheric keyboards (think early Vangelis), progressive rock developments à la Pink Floyd-meets-Yes, and occasional recitatives inspired by the Moody Blues’ storytelling form (In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream). Frank Bornemann sings slightly better than usual, his voice carrying more emotion. The band hits the perfect balance between heaviness and lightness: the riffs are solidly anchored, yet the music really floats, especially in “Atlantis’ Agony at June 5th — 8498, 13 P.M. Gregorian Earthtime.” “Incarnation of Logos” provides the best moments. Three of the four songs are also featured on the Live album, released a year later, which revealed how little musical material they actually had. Their strength resides in the rich studio arrangements.


Eloy-OCEAN (1977)

Perhaps the most original debut album to come out of the first wave of British punk, Wire’s Pink Flag plays like The Ramones Go to Art School — song after song careens past in a glorious, stripped-down rush. However, unlike the Ramones, Wire ultimately made their mark through unpredictability. Very few of the songs followed traditional verse/chorus structures — if one or two riffs sufficed, no more were added; if a musical hook or lyric didn’t need to be repeated, Wire immediately stopped playing, accounting for the album’s brevity (21 songs in under 36 minutes on the original version). The sometimes dissonant, minimalist arrangements allow for space and interplay between the instruments; Colin Newman isn’t always the most comprehensible singer, but he displays an acerbic wit and balances the occasional lyrical abstraction with plenty of bile in his delivery. Many punk bands aimed to strip rock & roll of its excess, but Wire took the concept a step further, cutting punk itself down to its essence and achieving an even more concentrated impact.

Some of the tracks may seem at first like underdeveloped sketches or fragments, but further listening demonstrates that in most cases, the music is memorable even without the repetition and structure most ears have come to expect — it simply requires a bit more concentration. And Wire are full of ideas; for such a fiercely minimalist band, they display quite a musical range, spanning slow, haunting texture exercises, warped power pop, punk anthems, and proto-hardcore rants — it’s recognizable, yet simultaneously quite unlike anything that preceded it. Pink Flag’s enduring influence pops up in hardcore, post-punk, alternative rock, and even Britpop, and it still remains a fresh, invigorating listen today: a fascinating, highly inventive rethinking of punk rock and its freedom to make up your own rules.


Wire-PINK FLAG (1977)

This concert and tour had one of Bowie’s best guitarists, the unsung Stacey Heydon. This is probably my favorite Bowie live recording. -Ian!

In 1976 David Bowie adopted a new persona: the Thin White Duke; and, to support his latest character, released a new album, Station to Station. This Nassau Coliseum show is taken from the world tour launched in support of the album.

David Bowie’s tenth release found him wanting to push his musicians into more experimental areas, as the influence of German electronic music bands like Can and Kraftwerk was strong on him at the time. This album, however, proved to be more of the rock-format version of what was to come later with the “Berlin Trilogy,” the collective name given to the three albums he recorded in collaboration with Brian Eno: Low, Heroes and Lodger.

Before the crowd has much time to react, the organ signals the opening of “Suffragette City,” and explodes into an exceptional version of the 1972 hit. All of Bowie’s sounds are wrapped nicely together here; experimentation, dark drones, upbeat pop hooks and the cheer of an audience who’s glad the “Chameleon of Rock” has arrived.

The rest of the recording includes songs from his previous six albums from the years 1971 – 1976. Staples like “Diamond Dogs,” “Changes” and “Rebel Rebel” display Bowie and the band’s efficiency at this New York show.

The tour visited 11 countries with a total of 64 performances. Also, the month of this particular show is significant as marking the hour Bowie named his touring band “Raw Moon.” Spacey, weird, unrefined – despite the tones in which he worked, the Bowie here stands ultimately for one thing: rock ‘n’ roll.


David Bowie-LIVE IN NASSAU (1976)

801 provided Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera with one of his most intriguing side projects. Although the band only played three gigs in August and September 1976, this album captures a night when everything fell right into place musically. That should only be expected with names like Eno and Simon Phillips in the lineup. (Still, the lesser-known players — bassist Bill McCormick, keyboardist Francis Monkman, and slide guitarist Lloyd Watson — are in exemplary form, too.) The repertoire is boldly diverse, opening with “Lagrima,” a crunchy solo guitar piece from Manzanera. Then the band undertakes a spacy but smoldering version of “Tomorrow Never Knows”; it’s definitely among the cleverest of Beatles covers. Then it’s on to crisp jazz-rock (“East of Asteroid”), atmospheric psych-pop (“Rongwrong”), and Eno’s tape manipulation showcase, “Sombre Reptiles.” And that’s only the first five songs.

The rest of the gig is no less audacious, with no less than three Eno songs — including a frenetic “Baby’s on Fire,” “Third Uncle,” and “Miss Shapiro”‘s dense, syllable-packed verbal gymnastics. There’s another unlikely cover of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” while Manzanera turns in another typically gusty instrumental performance on “Diamond Head.” This album marks probably one of the last times that Eno rocked out in such an unself-consciously fun fashion, but that’s not the only reason to buy it: 801 Live is a cohesive document of an unlikely crew who had fun and took chances. Listeners will never know what else they might have done if their schedules had been less crowded, but this album’s a good reminder.


801-801 LIVE (1976)
320kbps from vinyl-ripped FLAC