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RATING: 8/10 TOP TRASH

I’d heard the 7” from these guys on Hozac, and it was pretty good – I remember liking it, but not really so much so that I could remember specific moments or anything. So, when I hear they had an LP out, I was interested, but not on the edge of my seat or anything. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. The band may call themselves the Ketamines, but they might be better named the “Shittonofacids” – this record is genuinely trippy in places – unlike certain bands content to place a bit of delay and reverb on the guitar and call it a day (I’m looking at you, Deerhunter). The Ketamines formula isn’t terribly complicated: Take 1 part BLACK LIPS and add some nasally indie rock vocals, then throw in a heavy dose of OH SEES weirdness and then make it poppy. Like, really poppy – “Teenage Rebellion Time” is bouncy and sunny and in a nice way. The next few tracks are all good, but don’t really jump out beyond a mental note of “Yup, good.” Once they get to “Ketamine Babies,” though, the Ketamines begin to show the interesting parts of their sound – surf guitar lines blend with the bubblegummy nerd-garage sensibility amazingly well. It’s really in the second half of the record that things get kicking; “Kill Me Now” worships at the altar of His Majesty John Dwyer, with an acid-soaked breakdown that’s one of the most compelling moments on the album. “Spaced Out” features a spooky verse, punctuated by some outer space keys; it’s fuckin cool. Then the last two tracks come out of nowhere. “No Grand Design” is a passable impersonation of the VENTURES or DICK DALE, with a seriously groovy guitar line. Then it closes out with “The Runaround,” which reminds me of Del Shannon for some reason.

The only disappointment here is that the album takes so long to really start up; although every song here is competent, the first half isn’t as interesting as what follows. It’s only in the second half that the Kets start to loosen up and let their freak flag fly – this could have been a fantastic EP, but it’s a good album. That being said, though, for their first LP, this is pretty fucking good: it’s ambitious, catchy, and creative – these guys are promising, and I think they’re only going up from here.

LISTEN: http://mammothcave.bandcamp.com/album/spaced-out-lp

BUY (Preorder): http://mammothcaverecording.com/releases/spaced-out-lp-preorder-blue-vinyl-100-copies

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RATING: 6.5/10

Continuing our Montreal band kick, we have a 6 song EP from alliterative No Wavers Many Mental Mistakes. I confess, I had a bit of a tough time writing the review. Usually, it’s easy to slap together a few pretentious things to say, pick a few bands at random, but MMM honestly confounded a considerable portion of my usual arsenal. It’s not that they’re the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard, by a long shot, but it’s rare that you hear music this unabashedly experimental played this proficiently. Opener “Death Proof” lays out the MMM formula: thundering drums, mechanical, lockstep guitars, and haunting, ritualistic vocals. The track rumbles in the way some sort of esoteric invocation might. It, along with next track “CCC” have hints of dancefloor potential, though I’m not sure what club this would get asses shaking at (or if it’s the sort of club I’d feel comfortable or safe in).

It’s No Wave, for sure, but it lacks the herky-jerky frantic feel of No Wave touchstones – this is refined, polished, and strangely well mannered. The next track, “Birthday Party,” yields a possible touchstone in it’s namesake, all clanking, lurching drums and discordant squeaking guitars. The songs here definitely grab you – MMM have a knack for piecing together their songs in a way that feels remarkably organic, but even songs with really interesting beginnings, like the diet-SWANS track “My Way” get lost in meanderings that don’t so much end as they simply run out of steam. The last track “Quantum” is my favorite here, probably because it feels like the only one to capture the manic, unpredictable nature of proper No Wavers like THE CONTORTIONS. Here, the vocals are heavily treated with reverb, and allowed to ring out in the way that the voice begs for. It’s good, and it closes out this strange little EP very well. I confess, this isn’t my usual bag. Though the songs are all well-done, extremely original, and expertly played and recorded, there’s not much in the way of hooks to seize onto, which makes it a tough sit for me. I can’t see myself playing this more than when a certain mood strikes me, but for those who prize originality and love the weirdness, this will certainly be a band to watch.

LISTEN: http://manymentalmistakes.bandcamp.com/

BUY:  http://manymentalmistakes.bigcartel.com

RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

When the Nubians set up at Lulu’s in Brooklyn a few months ago, everyone was unprepared. Even the band themselves. Due to nonsensical customs laws, the Montreal trio were wildly short on equipment. One of the guitarists was using my amp and the other resorted to plugging in to the dreaded P.A. (which may as well stand for Pussy Amp, the way those things neuter guitar tones). But these shortcomings didn’t phase ‘em in the least; they seemed unflinchingly calm, even suspiciously unruffled about the sorry state of their inventory. I realized later that it was us in the crowd, not the band, who were the truly ill-equipped ones. No one properly braced themselves, not me or anyone else in that quaint little pizza bar for the wildest, loudest, most artfully unhinged, maniacal set this side of 1983.

Needless to say, the sound guy cut them off half way through. The only band that I’ve seen pull off this level of controlled insanity was a CRAZY SPIRIT set at Death By Audio a year ago. Both bands feature flailing powerhouse drummers, a crafty use of guitar feedback, and intelligently dumb, erratic compositions to ensure that punk isn’t a dead or hackneyed genre just yet. To call The Nubians “garage punk”, “art punk”, “noise” or “hardcore” is to belittle their bombastic, gigantic sound. The Nubians are an organism that lurches and lifts off with unpredictable vigor. I can’t even fucking review this shit properly. If you like music that blows your head off (in a REGISTRATORS/PUFFY AREOLAS/CHEATER SLICKS vein) than listen to the Nubians. They are the nicest guys ever playing mean, explosive music.

Listen to their tape here (for the love of god, someone, put this out on vinyl)
http://nubians.bandcamp.com/

dirtybeatscover

RATING: 7.5/10

Thee Dirtybeats promise “maximum vintage garage and psychedelia,” and after listening to their first batch of songs, I can say with confidence they deliver in full. I give these guys serious props – they’ve recorded this strictly with vintage equipment – “vintage KAPA, Mosrite, Rickenbacker and Fender guitars, Fender and Ampeg amps, Big Muff fuzzes and Morley wahs” – and they’re giving it away for free on their bandcamp. This is music from Thee Holy Church of NUGGETS, and these guys mostly nail it. The vocals, playing, and sound are pretty faithful to the source material – I do wish the production was a little bit dirtier; for the vintage sound and trappings, this recording is oddly clean and polished.

Anyway, onto the music.  “You Lied to Me Before” is a good mid-tempo number, featuring solid guitar work and an awesome quasi-whispered bridge. It’s fairly revival-by-the-numbers, but it’s done really well. The first few songs follow much the same formula.  Their brand of 60’s revivalism is largely reminiscent of what THE GREENHORNES were doing 10 years ago.  It’s not original music by any means, but that doesn’t stop the songs from being any less danceable!  It’s all good, but it’s not until “Stop It Baby” that the album really starts swingin’ – the track opens with awesomely snarly guitar and a fast, nimble beat with more teeth than a lot of the emanations from the Nuggets altar. This is simple and brash in the best way – combining the economy of hardcore with garage cool. This leads into “Wild Man,” which features a Twilight Zone-like intro, and a pretty badass TRASHMEN-esque chant. The record is heavy on covers which are faithfully rendered, but often lack the menace and wild sloppy abandon of the originals. The record closes out with “Cool One,” which is just fucking incredible. Freako guitars, burning drums – serious goddamn boogie here. Some songs fly, some don’t – but how can I possibly fault any band for not matching the SONICS or the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS?  Thee Dirtybeats aren’t re-inventing the wheel, but they do an adept job of proving that a great fucking wheel never goes out of style. 

LISTEN/FREE DOWNLOAD: http://theedirtybeats.bandcamp.com/

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