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March 26, 2008

The Outsiders – C.Q.

Filed under: Music — myarmy @ 10:32 pm

[Pseudonym Records; 1968]

If the lead singer’s name, Wally Tax, and the genre “Nederpop” doesn’t already make you want to pick up an album by The Outsiders let me take the time to persuade you to do so, specifically their sophomore effort C.Q.

In 1968 Dutch band The Outsiders recorded the follow up to their live self-titled debut. Rather than fitting neatly into the psychedelic pop mould created by their British and American counterparts, they experimented with a number of distinctive sounds and textures in order to produce one of the most unique and overlooked sixties psychedelic rock and roll albums.

The Outsiders push their rhythm section hard during their rock and roll numbers which create a driving beat, bound to catch the attention of any hip shaker. The aggressive rhythms and dark vocals show hints of punk rock well before the term even existed. Tracks like “Misfit” with its rolling bass and the chord bashing of “The Man On The Dune” are sure to satisfy your primal amplifier-fueled urges.

The most experimental aspect of this album comes in the form of delving into noise. Tracks such as “C.Q.” are sprawling waves of distortion supported by moments of field recordings and psychedelia. It is used most effectively in “Doctor” as just as we start to move along to the infectious guitar lines, the song drops out and is replaced by an ugly mess of eerie sounds. Eventually we return to some crunching distortion and that guitar line, which we are now twice as happy to hear.

Though The Outsiders aren’t without a softer side. Despite being known for their rollicking, raucous live performances they demonstrate their ability to write a simple pop tune or ballad. Heart-felt subjects such as the loss of a parent or love, are touched on from different perspectives as the beautiful melody of “You’re Everything On Earth” makes me want to cry over a long lost love I’ve never even had. Whereas the upbeat “Daddy Died On Saturday” chooses to joyously celebrate life, rather than dwell in death.

In the event that you get a sudden hankerin’ for a folk/blues tune at some point throughout the album, don’t worry, The Outsiders have got you covered. “Happyville” surely contains one the most enjoyable harmonica hooks ever put on wax and “Do You Feel Alright”, the closer of the bonus tracks edition, brings the album to a catchy, reverberated conclusion, one that does indeed, make me feel alright.

As much as everyone loves a name drop or two, I’d rather not make one, firstly because I don’t want to detract from the originality in this album that I enjoy so much, and well I wouldn’t be able to think of one anyway. This album has something for everyone, and not only that but it does that something well, and that’s exciting.

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

March 9, 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Filed under: Music — myarmy @ 10:12 pm

[Mute Records; 2008]

There is a certain phrase which frustrates nearly every recording artist, particularly one with a career as long as Nick Cave’s. That phrase goes to the tune of “It’s alright, but not as good as their early stuff.” I’m hoping that Cave blew that phrase out of the water with his 2004 effort Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus, however he is out to battle it again with his new album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! which is coupled with the pressure of having to back up his strong previous release. While there was his Grinderman side-project in between, which was met with mixed responses (perhaps you had to be a long-time single alcoholic male to “get” it) this is his highly anticipated return with the Bad Seeds.

The title track sets the tone for the album and with its catchy chorus hook you can understand why it’s the lead single. The band doesn’t hit full stride yet, however we do get a taste of a new style of guitar effects and Cave brings the energy and witty, jabbing lyricism we’ve come to expect.

While the general style of the album is one of hook-orientated garage rock, which Cave has dabbled into in recent times, here he adds several distinctive sounds such as the squealing organs in “Today’s Lesson” and the odd handclap in the relaxing “Moonland” which may even induce swaying at some point throughout the song.

Cave returns to familiar ground with the slow paced, spoken word track “Night Of The Locus Eaters”, but despite the fancy name it fails to grab your attention, or really hit hard emotionally. However the atmospheric background and floating guitar still provide an interesting listen.

If you were wondering whether Cave’s Grinderman venture would have any influence on future albums, well the answer is yes. This is seen most clearly on the bluesy “We Call Upon The Author”. If it doesn’t get you amped up enough to demand an explanation from the author as well, then if nothing else the intermittent use of loops and drum machine should momentarily capture your interest.

The subdued “Hold On To Yourself” and “Jesus Of The Moon” are stand outs as Cave ponders life and religion and I hang on his every word, particularly during the concluding passage of the former “One day I’ll come back to you and I’ll lie down and I’ll hold on to yourself”. There’s something undeniably real about Nick Cave, and not only can you tell he really connects to the lyrics, it means that we can too.

The albums is littered with upbeat tracks including “Albert Goes West”, “Lie Down Here (And Be My Girl)” and “Midnight Man”. While they might not be the most memorable, well actually there’s a certain guitar lick in Lie Down Here which is guaranteed humming material, they add a certain level of fun and energy to the album. While Cave isn’t quite becoming cheerful in his older age, he shows that not everything in life has a sinister twist to it.

The album peaks with the transcendent closer “More News From Nowhere”. In a beautiful tale of self-reflection Cave references some familiar characters including Miss Polly and Deanna, which is sure to please some of the nerdier Nick Cave fans. While the song just rolls along for 8 minutes on just a few chords not once does it become stale as each verse speaks not solely to your ears but much deeper too, such as the relatable “Don’t it make you feel so sad / don’t the blood rush to your feet / to think that everything you do today / tomorrow is obsolete”

Ultimately Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! isn’t going to convert many listeners who haven’t previously thought too highly of Nick Cave or the Bad Seeds. However if you’re looking for all your favourite elements of Nick Cave to be here along with just a spot of originality then you’re sure to be not one bit displeased when you here that on his next concert tour he’ll be playing a fair amount of “new stuff”.

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