November 2012: Who Turns Down Free Hair?
I’m running late this month, been too busy prepping a caroling songbook full of Burzum and Johnny Paycheck. So pull out your checklists and scratch your chin while I try to run down all of the platters that matter. Because gift ideas abound within these pixels!
45 Grave is a monthly column dedicated to a physical music medium that is way too fun to go quietly into digital limbo, no matter how eagerly cloud zombies want to fashion the coffin. I deal with the records I review herein as a tactile object; so I’m going to talk about the cover, the color or heft of the vinyl as much as I talk about the music locked deep within those mysterious grooves. Eventually I may expand the column to include cassette reviews and other vinyl formats, but let’s take it one step at a time, no?
Touch And Go
All right, this doesn’t have much to do with anything, and it’s definitely not a new release at all, but I saw Negative Approach earlier this autumn and I had chills down my spine the whole time. Maybe it was the cold dread embedded in John Brannon’s icy, dead stare, maybe it was because the band looked like a bunch of truckers who don’t really care much for your fancy ways, maybe it was how they added a dirty, overblown, leathery stomp to their music – the very sound of guts churning. I bought this on ebay the next day, and to see the difference between the intense young skinheads on the sleeve photo and the quicksilver-headlock of the music inside and then compare it to what I saw that night… what’s the opposite of “ravages of time”?
Touch And Go: www.touchandgorecords.com
A Little Death To Laugh (cassette)
I’m not sure. Maybe, MAYBE, this limited run 7″ (couldn’t snag one in time, so I settled for the equally limited cassette run on Sans-Edissions and got it by a hair), is a kind of a winking mea culpa to fans that perhaps Cold Cave’s last album Cherish The Light was a creative misstep? Who can tell these days. But what I can tell is that the songs on “A Little Death To Laugh” are a confident step backwards (in a good way) towards a more individualistic and minimal/scuffed up Cold Cave sound. Two hard-charging spontaneous explosions of goth-synth and one Steve Reichian instrumental leave me totally excited about the band’s future. Extra points for the enigmatic inner and outer sleeve artwork, head to various message boards for a full explanation.
Cold Cave: www.coldcave.net
Walk On Heads
I knew when I first held this in my hands as I was forking over money to Sean Ragon at a Cult of Youth show (one million points for hardwork-hocking his own label’s goods on the road), that this was a weightier, almost more portentious chunk of sound than your usual hardcore. And Lower is indeed art-damaged, portrait-of-the-artist-as-an-angry-young-man noise at its finest. Combining the cool marble edifice of Joy Division with Fugazi’s art dialectic and good ol’ HC menace a la Iceage, this stuff sounds monumental. 1982 or 2012? Repeat plays until you can be sure. Bonus points as well to the vaguely ominous shot of the singer on the cover.
Blind Prophet: www.blindprophetrecords.com
Microwave Windows/Electric Inertia
No sleeve. No liner notes. No information at all comes with this rather fetching coffee-colored, black-marbled 45. But a simple drop of the needle reveals crazed, unrestrained sonic delights. In a kind of cross-country noise summit, one side comes courtesy of FL artist Microwave Windows, with several minutes of harsh yet controlled sound sculptures dead-ending into a hypnotic locked groove. The flip side is Cincinnati’s Electric Inertia doing a wracked, frazzled piano/voice talking blues. Well outside of anyone’s comfort zone.
Microwave Windows: www.myspace.com/themicrowavewindows
This heavy-in-more-ways-than-one slab of Kool-Aid colored vinyl — tour only edition I’ve been told — is a heady slice of thrashcore polemic that would serve equally well as a sonic call to arms or as a brick to throw through a Bank Of America front window. Your choice! Building on their Circle-Jerks-meets-Motorhead hybrid sound, Off! are not afraid to stop on a dime and really kick you in the fucking crotch with gutsy, crunchy riffs. And that’s just “Rotten Apple”!
Southern Lord: www.southernlord.com
You Can Break My Heart
Death-Folk/Neo-Folk heartthrob King Dude takes it to the next fucking level with this jukebox fodder. The a-side is a richly (yet very lo-fi, hmmmm) orchestrated weeper that melds Death In June with Nick Cave and the Everly Brothers. Dude’s voice hits depths unimagined, and are those female backing singers I hear? Hide every single razor blade in the world now. The b-side “Devil’s Tail” is basically like Johnny Cash crawling out of the grave and threatening very very quietly to undeadedly whip everyone’s ass in a five mile radius. Avante!
Time Meant Nothing
They’ve come a long way from their creepy crawly noise roots, and with Time Meant Nothing, TeePee (essentially the solo project of Miami’s own Erix Laurent, are making a grab for the brass ring of swoon-worthy dreamtime pop perfected by the likes of Echo And The Bunnymen and Bolshoi. This particular run of the recording was pressed on devilishly fetching marbled pink vinyl, looking and sounding like a damn million bucks. The platter starts with a menacing Gary Numan drone and then explodes into a technicolor dreamhouse. PS: When I saw them play this material out recently, they already sounded dramatically different, with a leaner Wire-meets-early-Dinosaur-Jr. vibe coming to the fore.
Family Haircut (cassette)
Cassingle And Loving It
I realize that this will be the second time I’ve broken format this month, but when I spied Agent Ribbons’ merch during a recent Jacksonville stop, the cassette version of Family Haircut edged out the vinyl because it came with a lock of hair affixed to the inside of the j-card. And who can turn down free hair IN THIS ECONOMY? The music inside, courtesy of this Austin (!) guitar/drums duo is wise beyond its ears. A heady mix of Holly Golightly swagger/twang and early Breeders (I’m talking Tanya Donnelly-era) dirt-smudged etherealism, the songs and performances of said songs hint at very good things to come.
HOLIDAY SPECIAL EDITION
No Presents For Christmas 12″ Picture Disc
There are serious questions to be raised by serious people about the gimmickry increasingly intertwined with Record Store Day and its “exclusive” releases. However, ahem, THIS IS NOT THE TIME BECAUSE I JUST BOUGHT THIS CHRISTMAS KING DIAMOND PICTURE DISC ON RSD BLACK FRIDAY, MOTHERFUCKERS! Simply put: King Diamond will never ever let you down, musically or aesthetically or sonically, and this whiplash-inducing NWOBHM-esque anti-morality tale about, well, ruining Christmas in one of his finest. And the disc is suitable for framing, natch.
King Diamond: www.kingdiamondcoven.com
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