April 6, 2008

CPC Gangbangs – Mutilation Nation

Filed under: Hype,Music — RustyJames @ 4:41 pm

[Swami Records; 2007]

Ladies and gents get out your moustaches and join the Mutilation Nation.

Mention Canadian cultural exports and you’ll probably get a list of no-hopers like Michael Ondaatje, Leonard Cohen and Atom Egoyan. One of Canada’s greatest under-acknowledged cultural exports is the movie Fubar, directed by Michael Dowse. Fubar examines, in fake-documentary style, the mysteries and vagaries of “headbanger” culture, following the exploits of two banger lifers Terry (Dave Lawrence) and Dean (Paul Spence), as they talk about life, get bombed, go camping, battle cancer and just generally giv’er.

Fubar was filmed in and around Calgary, Alberta, stronghold of banger culture and the place where I grew up. In the late ‘90s and into the ‘00s, a local rock dive called the Night Gallery would host a two night bash every May long weekend called “Moustache Rock”, featuring local bands performing the heavy hits of the ‘70s and ‘80s with proceeds going to charity. If there’s one current band infused with the spirit of Moustache Rock, it’s CPC Gangbangs, a band which features… Paul Spence.

You see how I tied all that together?

CPC Gangbangs are a throttling Montreal four piece anchored by the dual guitar attack of Spence and lead singer Roy “Choyce” Vucino. “Dual guitars”, you say? Why that sounds like metal. Straight up it does, and CPC Gangbangs owe much to the sweaty dudes of the ‘70s in bands like UFO and Judas Priest. If riffology is a course at rock school, the CPCs are on the Dean’s List. Make no mistake though, this isn’t your coked-out stepdad’s metal, CPC Gangbangs are a PUNK band you knobs, with enough shuck-and-stage-dive attitude to outlast any of the piss-poor “talent” that gets ashamedly labeled rock & roll these days.

Mutilation Nation, the band’s debut full length after a slough of singles, lays it on the line. Opener “Jeff Starship” proves this band has the balls to ease into their all-out assault, laying down a comfortable groove that merely suggests the night terrors ahead. Immediately following is “Teenage Crimwave”, asserting that they mean business, going straight to the heart of the rebellion-crazed teenage audience. Never let it be said that these dudes aren’t firmly fixed on the punk rock kill zone.

The band also explores a certain Cronenberg-ian body horror throughout the album, culminating in one of the album’s most blistering tracks, “Mechanical Man”, an apocalyptic horror-fest of mutually-assured destruction. These songs are played with such ferocity as to make the inside of your eyeballs sweat.

One taste of Mutilation Nation is like the sweet tang of blood on your lips. The CPCs play killer, wild-eyed rock & roll, living after midnight and breaking the law. This is a band well on their way to unstoppable, outlining their simple statement-of purpose on “I Want it All,” a merciless attack from a band intent on destroying every weak-willed wanker from here to Japan. “What Love Is” evokes the MC5, while “Suicide Ride” sounds like the Lazy Cowgirls at their peak. This is monstrous, uncompromising hell-raising rock & roll, spitting teeth, menace and bourbon. Woe be to the unbelievers.

April 4, 2008

The Fall – The Wonderful And Frightening World of The Fall

Filed under: Hype,Music — tha rhythm tha rebel @ 8:05 pm

[Beggars Banquet; 1984]

The Wonderful And Frightening World of The Fall is a somewhat hidden gem. Sandwiched between Perverted By Language and This Nation’s Saving Grace, two of The Fall’s most popular 80s releases, you could almost be forgiven for not hearing it given the albums it follows and precedes. It was to be the first of many releases with Beggars Banquet, a substantially larger label than they had been with before. This, along with the relatively new addition to the group of American post-punk popster Brix Smith, had an affect on the music. Songs became shorter, production became clearer and one or two tracks (notably C.R.E.E.P.) actually make great pop songs. Released in 1984 with different tracklistings on LP and cassette and re-issued in 1988 on CD with all the tracks from both the previous releases, Wonderful And Frightening isn’t exactly your average Fall album, but then again, what is?

As is common with Fall albums, the opener is a real stunner. “Lay of The Land” begins with dirty distorted guitar and Mark E. Smith mumbling something in a deep voice and then BLAM the rockabilly kicks in and everything is just screaming along with a bass riff like no other. In fact, one of the best things about this album is the bass. Whether it’s plodding along in “Bug Day” or completely driving the song in “Slang King” it’s always prominent. Another Fall trademark is the reference to artists that have influenced and inspired MES. Like “Sing! Harpy” from Extricate, “Elves” is another straight rip off of a Stooges song and makes a welcome addition to the heaving catalogue of Fall covers and quotations.

One of Wonderful and Frightening’s strongest points is it’s variety. Everything from lazy, twinkly tunes (“Disney’s Dream Debased”) to hex-esque rockers (“2 x 4”) is present. But one thing is constant, Brix’s influence can be heard throughout. It’s often understated how much affect Brix had over The Fall’s sound in the mid-80s but without her backing vocals (she could actually sing unlike anyone else previously in The Fall) and pop sensibilites The Fall may have just produced lack lustre attempts at duplicating their earlier classics. Having said that, the usual MES magic is evidently present. Catchy vocal hooks and typically absurd lyrics that seem to really make sense, rather than just mess your head up and appear weird for weird’s sake like so many others. Although not quite as dark and bludgeoning as his more famous works the quality is still there and really hits through in the epic closer “No Bulbs”.

Whilst Wonderful And Frightening might not quite shine as brightly as Grotesque or Hex Enduction Hour it certainly fits right in with the long line of fantastic Fall albums in the 80s and even makes for a great album on its own. There aren’t many greater examples of post-punk purity than The Fall’s work and this album fits that description like a velvet glove.

March 13, 2008

Short Reviews Volume 1

Filed under: Hype,Music — ed the portal @ 10:54 pm

[Times New Viking – Present the Paisley Reich – Siltbreeze; 2007]

Times New Viking is probably most comparable to a car accident. Innocence and stupidity buried under grinding distortion and fuzz. Songs about drugs and sex and dead john lennons; infectious choruses belted over a horrendous pop cacophony. In other words, perfection. The synths squeal, the guitars shout and roar, the drums… barely audible. But it works. That’s the insane thing, right? I see people whining about the noise, “simply too noisy!”, but there are rewards for those who seek them. This LP is over in about 20 minutes, one side of vinyl, so you might miss it the first time. But don’t worry, just listen again. And again. And again. There isn’t a band around right now I enjoy more than Times New Viking, and they’ve got 3 LP’s worth of ear-drum destroying greatness. The best thing would be to just buy all three and listen over and over. Maybe grab those out of print singles that are going for fortunes on ebay. Plus they’re on matador and pitchfork loves them, if that doesn’t sway you I don’t know what will. -Cab

[Strange Boys – Nothing EP – Dusty Medical; 2007]

The Strange Boys are my saviors. They just write some tunes that I can shake too, just a little bit of groovin. Some white boys doin the blues. Sounds like same ol’ same ol’ right? Wrong. Ever heard the black lips? No? Well imagine this band but with cleaner vox and Vice written all over them. But Cab, why do you hate the Black Lips? I don’t hate them, they just ain’t got nothin on the Strange Boys. The jerky rhythms and slippery bass mesh perfectly with the cool innocence brought by guitar and vocals man Ryan Sambol. My favorite song on this ep has got to be ‘Happily in Disbelief”, the second song on the A. A simple 12 bar blues but perfect in the delivery. Ryan belts out something about something being “better than any savior.” Course it is, I’ll believe anything this guy says. I don’t think there’s a 7″ i’ve listened to more than this. I will happily fork over hell of dough for some more strangeness when and if another record becomes available. -Cab

[Estrogen Highs – She Don’t Bother EP – Milk ‘n Herpes; 2008]

I liked last year’s debut single by these kids from New Haven, Connecticut enough to order up the new EP as soon as it was available. After listening to it ten straight times, I’d recommend that everyone reading this immediately contact your favorite distributor and have a copy sent your way. The two A-sides sound so nice together; I’m really glad they got stuck on the same side of the record so all I have to do is press one button to hear them again. Each song pulls off a neat little combination of catchy melody, stomping beat, and slightly abrasive vocals that makes me want to just listen to it over and over and over. Keep an eye on the Estrogen Highs, cuz they’re gonna get known (and when they do, I reserve the rights to the name Testosterone Lows for my shitty tribute band). -Ed the Portal

[Jay Reatard – Hammer I Miss You 7″ – Goner; 2006]

Recently Jay Reatard has been crowned official prince of the lo-fi garage thing going on and perhaps rightfully so. In the past two short years he’s released his debut album Blood Visions along with a very impressive string of 7″ singles. You could be forgiven for thinking that he is in fact the second coming of jesus, but that might be going a bit too far. Hammer I Miss You was Jay Reatard’s first solo single way back in 2006. The title track kicks things off in great Reatard fashion, a rocking number with a chorus that will stick in your brain for days. But the fun doesn’t end there, oh no. The next track, It’s So Useless, is a song so catchy, so infectious that the only way to capture its brilliant essence was to hide it away on the B-side. If you’ve ever wondered exactly why Reatard is so popular, look no further. It’s through songs like this that have made him the darling of pitchfork. It just makes you wanna jump around and sing along except you can’t quite make out the lyrics with the screaming delivery. Bringing up the rear is Wasted. Another typical Reatard song with a bit more bite and tenacity than the previous two which brings the whole rockin’ thing to a close. Out of all of the Reatard singles this is my favourite. Three fantastic songs in 7 minutes, what more could you ask for? -HP

[Sonic Chicken 4 – Sonic Chicken 4 – In The Red; 2007]

I knew absolutely nothing about this band prior to buying the record. I only bought it because I had money to spare and was already ordering some other records from ITR. But man, holy shit am I happy that I did. Hailing from Perpignan, France, these guys and gals fired 12 fucking ballistic missiles of noisy garage-pop songs about sex, booze and women across the Atlantic right into my undefended ears. The first time I put this album on, I had just gotten in my car (the LP came with a free CD) to embark on the three hour drive back to Chicago the day after Christmas. I just let the album repeat over and over and over. I couldn’t stop listening. I’m still rockin’ this album at least once a week because the songs are so damn catchy they just never get old. Go buy it! – Ed the Portal

January 26, 2008

Coconut Coolouts – Pizza Regret EP

Filed under: Hype,Music — ihggy @ 5:17 pm

[Seeing Eye; 2007]

Ahh, Pizza Regret. Who here has not had this particular regret? Everyone in America loves pizza, and there comes a time in every young American’s life when he or she wants to order one kind of pizza, but for whatever reason ends up getting a different kind of pizza, or no pizza at all! And then the place closes, and this terrible feeling comes over you. “What could have been? I will never know that pizza. I was so c lose.” You wake up with the sweats.

So how do you deal with pizza regret? Well, up until now, all you could do was cry yourself to sleep. No longer! Dry your eyes! Wash your tear-stained face! Seattle party-rock fiends the Coconut Coolouts have given us another way to cope, and let me tell you what, their way is a whole lot more fun. Instead of moping around feeling sorry for themselves over their pizza predicament, the Coolouts choose to do what they always do – throw a party! Probably even a pizza party, with all the kinds of pizza they could ever want. Imagine that. A world without pizza regret. Through the power of song, the Coconut Coolouts make it possible.

And, oh what a song it is! Even if you took away the weight and importance of the lyric, “Pizza Regret” would be incredibly compelling. I was knocked over by its energy from the very start. The opening moments, which feature a four-on-the-floor stomp, rock and roll guitar, and a chorus of ‘ba ba ba’s, is meant to grab pizza lovers and non-pizza lovers alike, shake them violently by the collar, and say “Wake up! It’s party time!” If you’re not won over by the time the massive, triumphant Moog solo kicks in, well, I honestly don’t know how that could be possible. This is pure verve, four chords that bash your brain into a state of perfect jubilation. And while the lyrics on the rest of the EP don’t quite live up to the standard set by “Pizza Regret,” the same spirit of fun and joy in the music is present in each and every track, making it impossible not to recommend!

Recently, I heard of a person who didn’t believe in regret. At first I didn’t get it, but now I think that I do. You can’t go through life thinking that every time you make a mistake it’s the end of the world. Some times, you just have to throw a party instead. The Coconut Coolouts have taught me this, and I am grateful.

Hear assorted Coconut Coolouts tracks here:

Buy Coconut Coolouts records here:
Seeing Eye Records Store
Heads Up Records Store

January 24, 2008

Pink Reason – By a Thread

Filed under: Hype,Music — ed the portal @ 6:47 pm

[Trickknee Productions; 2007]

A whole lot of bands put out a ton of great music in 2007. One of those bands was the psychedelic/lo-fi/folk/one-man powerhouse Pink Reason. Early on in the year, Pink Reason presented us with his debut LP Cleaning the Mirror. After the first couple listens, I basically wrote it off as a good, but not great, collection of bleak, slowly-paced tunes. However, several months later I came back to the album, quickly fell in love with each and every song, and it shot up towards the top of my end of the year albums list. The reason for this awakening came with the release of the 7” EP By a Thread. I was addicted to this EP for almost two months. I honestly listened to it at least three or four times a day for weeks on end. Unlike Cleaning the Mirror, By a Thread hit and floored me immediately.

The titular opening track is driven by simple, pounding drum beat and a distorted electric guitar constantly fills the background behind the beat and vocals. The chorus of “You keep me hanging/Hanging by a thread” is repetitively droned over a faster drum beat, and each time through you can feel it lodging itself firmly into your memory. It’s almost unbearably catchy and if the next two songs weren’t just as good, you’d probably just leave this track on repeat all day long.

“The Devil Always Wins” is a short little burst of lyrical brilliance accompanied only by the sound of a few feet stomping on the floor and some sparse handclaps. I wish I could pick a line to quote here, but every damn line is great. The lack of any instrumentation really makes this song. Anything more than the man-made percussion would distract from the lyrics of the song and take away from the feeling that Pink Reason is preaching his message of dismay from some shabby pulpit in a dilapidated church while we all smirk and nod along knowingly.

The final track “Down on Me,” focuses more on the instrumentation. While again we’re treated to a few painfully catchy verses, the second half of the song finishes off the album with an intoxicating duel guitar solo. One guitar starts screeching right away while the other holds on to some of the rhythm held by the drum beat. However, the second guitar eventually joins in distorted, high-pitched wailing before jumping back into the song’s opening sequence and grinding to a halt. Of the three songs on the EP, this is the song most likely to make you want to dance, or at least rock back and forth a bit in your chair, but the lyrics maintain the downtrodden feeling that pervades Pink Reason’s music.

But why did these three songs hit me so hard and so fast compared to those on Cleaning the Mirror? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has a lot to do with the more upbeat/faster pace. The songs are much slower and combined with the bleakly sung lyrics make for a really depressing album. This certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it does make the album a little harder to swallow. The combination of a quicker pace and vocals that seem a little higher in the mix make By a Thread a much more accessible and immediate listen and also made me appreciate the contrast of Cleaning the Mirror much more. It’s rumored that Pink Reason has a double album in the works, and it will be interesting and exciting to see where he takes his music from here.

Listen to Pink Reason songs on myspace

Buy Pink Reason Records here:

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