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Savage Weekend, May 17-18, 2013

May 21, 2013 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Dromez at Savage Weekend 2013

Savage Weekend takes place at the Nightlight in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and has become another DIY fest to draw a lot of the east coast jank bands together for a marathon of noise. There’s no doubt the International Noise Conference has served as the template for this, and like that 10-year-old gathering, this one also packs tons of varied acts playing 15 minute sets into a couple of days. The connecting thread is “noise” and there are plenty of straight-up noise bands, but like INC that term is left wide open. It’s an exhausting and intense experience which is a labor of love for Ryan Martin the organizer and for everyone who travels to play, almost certainly losing money and sleep to do so. But it’s worth it, as can be felt in the warm afterglow among all attendees after particularly cathartic performances or during morning-after hugs goodbye.

It would be impossible to summarize everything, and I missed some things which I heard were amazing (like Ciccio Boys and Mincemeat Or Tenspeed when I simply had to nap for 30 minutes in the car) so I’ll mostly just post a few of the best photos I got and a few vivid memories. If you have additional documentation, please leave a comment! Above is Dromez, an intense harsh noise act from Texas that went on early in the fest and was one of the first to whip the crowd into a frenzy.

Unguent at Savage Weekend 2013

Unguent (ex-Dick Neff) plays looping, garbled swampy sounds that resemble some kind of alien music, while watching a psychedelic maze morphing on a TV screen.

Lazy Magnet at Savage Weekend 2013

Lazy Magnet, unpredictable in the past, played tight, danceable electronic music – which he claims is his new permanent (?) style.

Tanz Praxis at Savage Weekend 2013

Tanz Praxis is a new and exciting team-up of C Lavender and Ellen Foster, both long-time noise makers on their own, combining noise, video, and dance performance. Spooky, loud, and cool.

Toe Ring at Savage Weekend 2013

Toe Ring plays what’s almost straight techno, but with a gritty, industrial? (I saw someone describing it as “grouchy”) flavor. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what he’s doing so right, but this got the whole crowd stoked and moving, even though it was happening at 3AM, after 9 hours of other acts.

hotel noise crew poolside at Savage Weekend 2013

Of course there’s a little time for relaxing, Saturday afternoon before night 2 starts. Many visitors are piled into local houses, but a large contingent of travelers staying at the Chapel Hill University Inn hung by the pool for the afternoon. A gang of Tampa noise girls even turned it into a regular pool party, but no noise boys were bold enough to approach…

Crank Sturgeon at Savage Weekend 2013

Crank Sturgeon, one of the more senior noise celebrities, doing one of his signature absurdist performances. Notice all the smiles!

Moth Cock at Savage Weekend 2013

Moth Cock. A few trusted people casually told me that I should probably not miss this one. They were right. Total confusion sound but with a bizarre kind of groove, it gets really layered and hyperactive and psychedelic. Really awesome, I’m a big fan now.

i_like_dogface at Savage Weekend 2013

i_like_dogface impressed people at I.N.C. and I think many of us were looking forward to it here. Some smart light effects and a relatively simple electronic set-up used to great effect. Shifted vocals and weird electronic sounds that built to a heavy rhythmic noise climax.

The Waitress at Savage Weekend 2013

The Waitress. Two ladies from NYC, Jane and Ciarra, who played to a short film about them – yes, as waitresses – taking grisly, protracted revenge on a really offensive restaurant customer in B-horror movie style.

Russian Tsarlag at Savage Weekend 2013

Russian Tsarlag dropped a hush over the room so thick that no one would even shoot flash photos, then made everyone crack up between songs with his deadpan deconstruction of rock band tropes. (He played a tape of himself reciting in a monotone loop phrases like “I love this venue” and “I hope you like my music”)

Humanbeast at Savage Weekend 2013

Humanbeast. Damn, what to say about these killers?! If one act could and should actually be giant, famous rock stars of this whole lot, it’s them. Tense, gothy noise-pop that’s seductive but frequently painful. They have an album coming out soon on Load, and even though I haven’t heard it, I’m calling it as one of the best albums of the year now.

Andrea Pensado at Savage Weekend 2013

Andrea Pensado’s wicked processed vocal noise had everyone shrieking and screaming in response.

Form A Log at Savage Weekend 2013

One of the most anticipated acts was Form A Log, the all-star, all-cassette band. Ren (of Container), Noah (of Profligate), and Rick (THE Rick Weaver) patch together absurd song-like constructs from found and faux samples. They had everyone throwing Benjis (it’s a Log Culture thing – Form A Log cultivates a whole language of in-jokes – only the band members understand them all) people tried to dance, and there was even crowd-surfing!

Kimberly at Savage Weekend 2013

Kimberly’s performance had her screaming into a turntable stylus (which, yes, will pick up the sound apparently) and smashing at least a dozen sheets of glass ON HER FACE. I somehow caught a before and after of this happening in this photo. She had already, as a member of Contortionist Jazz Exotica, destroyed a pile of household and industrial objects the night before, and somehow came away from all this without any visible injuries.

Lazer Slut at Savage Weekend 2013

Lazer Slut was spending his set (of blown out 8-bit techno) bent over like this, so his friends decided to balance objects on his back and pour various fluids on him.

Tinnitusstimulus at Savage Weekend 2013

Tinnitustimulus, the last act of the entire event, whipped those who stuck it out into a frenzy. Dynamics, momentum, raw energy, if you dig harsh noise, this guy is one of the best, period.

There are many more photos that I took HERE.

Just a few other strong memories: Hunnie Bunnies were off the chain, booty bass beats and harsh noises! Unicorn Hard-On showed everyone how it was done, hype electro-dance in a nice short burst. Spiritual Recess doing a total freak-out confusion act, it was impossible to know what was intentional, luck, or accident. Sagan Youth Boys’ deep synth sequencing. Pvre Matrix whipping up a noisy rave. A Misfits cover band (??) starting a room-wide mosh pit. Ironing’s radical anti-DJ style, piling records and record pieces onto multiple turntables.

UPDATE! Lots of excellent photos by David Kenedy found HERE!

Can’t wait for next year!

Sightings “Terribly Well”

April 23, 2013 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: albums

sightings terribly well cover

Several years back, a friend, commenting on a new Sightings album, said “They don’t even sound like a band anymore.” And despite Sightings’ claim that it’s still just rock music, try playing this record for your mom and see if she believes that it’s the sound of a rock band. At the same time, Sightings have never sounded more confident and sure-footed in their style. They broke through the walls defining the boundaries of rock music long ago and have become masters of their new territory. Sightings are one of very few groups to have created their own unique musical language and then mastered it as well.

Sightings’ members all have very distinct playing styles. Drummer Jon plays looping, skittering percussive sounds more than beats. Bassist Richard plays wobbling subsonic pulses. And Mark Morgan’s guitar exists almost entirely in the mid-to-high frequencies, often sounding like a train wreck at the end of a tunnel while his vocals are confused mutterings and unhinged rantings. They’re even joined by Pat Murano playing synth on most tracks, something I didn’t even notice on first listen, which is a testament to how well he’s blended into the Sightings vibe and sound. The first track, “The Loafer” starts out with some guitar notes that are deep into the Psychocandy reverb zone, and might almost lead you to believe for a moment that a steady beat will drop and you’ll hear something that sounds like post-punk. Until the other instruments roll in like irregular boulders and the guitar sound starts stretching past the breaking point, cracking and sizzling. The closest precursors to Sightings’ style might be Mars, early Public Image Limited, and Royal Trux’s “Twin Infinitives.”

This album is not radically different from the last couple Sightings have done, but it might be even better. More focused, more confident. One of the all-time great bands, reaching a new peak. Good stuff.

Listen to the track “Better Fastened” on Soundcloud.
Purchase from Dais Records

 

Yowie “Damning With Faint Praise”

March 07, 2013 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: albums

yowie damning with faint praise

I have to wonder if an album title like “Damning With Faint Praise” dooms an album when it comes to reviews. Well, there will be no faint praise here. On Skin Graft Records, a less prolific label in recent years, but still one of the surest signs of quality, comes this boundary-pushing work of brutal prog mind-melt.

The closest recommended-if-you-like comparisons would probably be Ruins or Flying Luttenbachers during their brutal prog era. From second one to the last moment of this album, you are blitzkrieged by hyperactive, twisty-turny, guitar-guitar-drums maze rock (no vocals). Extreme technical proficiency is taken to new places. There’s a slippery, rubbery quality to the sound and playing too. Though hyper-precise, there’s lots of swing to the drumming, lots of bent notes and sliding on guitar strings. It almost sounds at times like listening to US Maple on triple-speed. When Yowie does fall into a groove – for about 6 seconds – it’s never in 4/4 time. It’s almost hard to believe these 3 people found each other to form this band.

Nobody would have faulted Yowie for including one or two mellow jam tracks here to let listeners catch their breath. In fact, it might have been a good idea. To the uninitiated, this could be a tiring listen, even at 29 minutes. But if what I’ve been describing sounds good to you, it will be a rewarding listen, without a second of filler.

You can stream the whole album directly below, or listen and buy CD, vinyl, or download at Yowie’s bandcamp page.

 

Yip-Yip “Bone Up”

February 28, 2013 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: albums

Yip-Yip "Bone Up"

Yip-Yip have created a synth-prog concept album about life in today’s underground music scene which is an absolute masterpiece. That’s right, I said MASTERPIECE. Though it’s ordinary album length, the sheer density of song composition gives “Bone Up” the feel of an epic double album, and should probably be thought of as such. Like other such works of singular vision, it can be a bit much to take in upon first exposure, particularly if you have an aversion to robot voice effects, synthesized whip cracks, or saxophone leads. If you’ve ever described some music as having “cheesy synths” and meant it as a negative, this might not be the masterpiece for you.

I don’t know everything about Yip-Yip, but this album seems like a departure for them. Their previous material was equally frantic and energetic, but sounded like an improvised mish-mash of crazed and zany synthesizer sounds. Many of the same sounds are here, but everything on this album is precisely composed and executed. All of the 16 songs are very short, but very dense.

The claim that this is a concept album comes from me, not Yip-Yip, but there’s definitely a theme here, and most of the songs seem to be about the band members’ personal experiences in the scene, and dealing with people as artists and musicians. “Big Dud” is about being invited to join the cool scene and finding it a great waste of time. “When I see, people networking, seems kind of weird.” The song “Copy Cat” hits on that defining characteristic of art-making today: “It’s impossible to be an original, everything that you could do has been done before, so no matter what you do, they will call you a Copy Cat.” And the last one I’ll quote is “Over It” wherein Yip-Yip sings “They’re desperate to be relevant, and they’re wondering where everyone went, now that 15 minutes has become something more like 15 seconds … we’re over it.” I suspect all this resonates within anyone who’s been making music in this decade. I really, really wish this had come with a lyric sheet.

“Bone Up” is another one of those albums that, in a fairer world or another era, would make Yip-Yip – well – much better known at least. But this era is kind to the listeners, because you can stream the whole thing RIGHT HERE, and you can download it at their Bandcamp page for Pay-What-You-Want. (!!) Glowmobile Records also put out a limited number of vinyl, but just confirmed with me that as of right now, they still have copies! Order up!

download from YIP-YIP BANDCAMP
buy vinyl from GLOWMOBILE
Yip-Yip on FACEBOOK

 

Best Albums of 2012

January 01, 2013 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: albums

The year has ended and I now present the No-Core Best of 2012 list! Or as it may more accurately be named, the albums I should have reviewed in 2012 round-up. Despite 2011 being The Year the Noise-Rock Bubble Burst, there was a load of killer noise-rock/no-wave in 2012, including several exciting NEW bands. This list is in no particular order, and I didn’t limit myself to any number.

Mincemeat or Tenspeed “The Tower”

Mincemeat or Tenspeed "The Tower"

I keep wondering when the larger noise world will discover that Mincemeat or Tenspeed is about the best thing going on. Is it because his noise just rocks too hard or his shows are too much FUN that Davey Mincemeat has still not been on the cover of WIRE magazine or whatever? No clue, but you’d be wise to grab this free digital album. Supposedly it’s a “metal” album and I guess it does lean on the heavy sounds and seems roughly in 4/4 time, not that there are any recognizable instruments anywhere in sight, just Davey’s table of pedals spitting out this rhythmic headbanger.

Download FREE at Free Music Archive

Drainolith “Fighting”

Drainolith "Fighting"

Alexander Moskos, ex- of AIDS Wolf, doing his (mainly) solo project thing. Creepy, fractured, deconstructed rock songs. The midway point between 1st album Royal Trux and 1st album Wolf Eyes? Loose and very focused at the same time. Drainolith pulls at the loose threads of rock music and creates a beautifully tangled mess.

Buy from Spectrum Spools

Xaddax “Counterclockwork”

Xaddax "Counterclockwork"

Maybe like me, just saying this band is ex-members of Dazzling Killmen and My Name is Rar-Rar is enough to sell you on them. But if not, here’s what you get. Buzzsaw math-shred riffs, a blizzard of weirdtronics sounds, and hard, complex drum patterns. It all blows by in a whirlwind, but everything is carefully composed and expertly executed.

Buy from Skin Graft

The Sediment Club “Time Decay Now”

The Sediment Club "Time Decay Now"

These NYC (now Providence) No Wave torch-bearers have just been getting better and better. Still young dudes, and this being their debut full-length, I’m excited for their future. This album is packed with that No Wave/Post-Punk sound that feels instantly classic, even if you can’t peg them as sounding quite like any one band. There’s plenty of Contortions and Bush Tetras in there, but it’s lively and fresh with new ideas too.

Listen/Buy from Softspot Music on Bandcamp

Harry Pussy “One Plus One”

Harry Pussy "One Plus One"
A double album of unreleased Harry Pussy music? SOLD! Actually, some of this material appeared on singles which appeared on the “What Was Music” comp, but here everything is carefully sequenced into a really cohesive and listenable album. That is, as long as you love boombox-fidelity blasts of chaotic guitar anti-playing, drum pounding, and shrieking. (of course you do) Actually, this album does highlight Bill Orcutt’s very unorthodox guitar skills and the band’s chemistry and vibe. I’d call this release ESSENTIAL.

Links to Buy at Palilalia Records

Profligate “Come Follow Me”

Profligate "Come Follow Me"
Despite the haters dismissing noise people’s attempts at electronic music as “techno,” this album from Noah Anthony’s solo project (previously of Social Junk, also of a batch of stellar noise combos) has more in common with electronic pioneers like Kraftwerk and John Carpenter. It’s a dark and thrilling vibe, and Profligate nails the mood with every track. Maybe it’s the grime and grit and texture added by Noah’s second-(or third)-hand gear that makes this all sound so nice, but it is by no means sterile or clean. No matter how crisp those kick drums and handclaps are, you can tell this music is coming from a Philadephia basement.

Listen/Download from Bandcamp (follow link there for LP)

Divorce “Divorce”

Divorce album
I’ve told you before how amazing this band is, right? And how much this album was going to rule, right? Okay, just wanted to make sure I got my credit for knowing what’s what before everyone is singing the praises of Divorce. This album falls somewhere between Doomsday Student and the Melvins. Thee heaviest bass guitar sound of all time, with harsh and sharp guitar attack, some really stellar and creative heavy drumming, and vocals that go from garbled crooning to blood-curdling shriek. Well-paced with some tone-setting tracks, everything is on point, this is powerful stuff. I also must give kudos to the recording and mastering. Somehow everything sounds crystal clear and loud as hell. Please, please help this band become popular enough to justify a U.S. tour.

Listen/Download from Bandcamp

Normal Love “Survival Tricks”

Normal Love "Survival Tricks"
Ambitious No Wave chamber music rock. Live, Normal Love all read sheet music when they play these bonkers compositions. Dropping the word “math” in here would imply some kind of music that you could count to, and “prog” would imply some kind of foundation in recognizable rock. Everything is precise and composed but don’t expect a backbeat, or a riff, or a melody. This is the classical music people listen to in a parallel universe where Fat Worm of Error are The Beatles.

Buy from ugExplode

Guerilla Toss “Jeffrey Johnson”

Guerilla Toss "Jeffrey Johnson"
Let me assure you that, despite that album cover, this is not freak-folk music. It does sound like some members of this band went to music school, and I can almost imagine freaky folkers being into this, but the feel here is distinctly on the abrasive side. I’d put this halfway between the previously mentioned Normal Love and Coughs. When they do throw down in a groove, it’s gnarly and heavy, with screeched out vocals and clamorous guitars. A lurching, leaping beast of a band that’s also surprisingly nimble. Almost reminiscent of Soul Discharge era Boredoms (which really should send you scrambling for that link). I can’t tell if their claim that their next album will be on Tzadik is a joke or not…

Listen/Download from Bandcamp
Buy LP from Feeding Tube

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion “Meat + Bone”

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion "Meat + Bone"
I’ve always loved this band, though I haven’t been super-crazy about every album they’ve done. This new album focuses on their strengths, which is the chemistry these three musicians have when they play together. It also leaves out all the stuff that (in my opinion) never worked for them: trying to make songs that could get on the radio or making Jon Spencer into a singer. He’s a great shouter, frontman, hype man, but just not a great singer. On this record the guitars do all the singing, Spencer is MC, and it’s all short blasts of high-energy rock. This is the album I’ve flipped and listened to repeatedly the most in 2012. That’s right, it’s rock’n’roll. I think I put the word rock’n’roll somewhere in the official No-Core description – I reserve the right to rock.

Buy from the band
or I don’t know, Amazon.com?

Curse “Curse”

Curse
If you like deep analog synth exploration and harrowing doom metal in equal measures, I think I’ve found your new jam. Vocalist/synthist Jane Vincent (ex-Abiku) is also one of the strongest singers in any extreme music genre.

Listen/Buy from the band

The Dreebs “Bait an Orchard”

The Dreebs "Bait an Orchard"
This album might not fully capture the captivating tension of a live Dreebs show, but it’s still an excellent document of their music. Violin, prepared guitar, and drums stir up a clamorous, but strangely soothing, racket – with a distinctly 80s NYC avant-guitar vibe. Reminds me at times of Branca, Mars, and “Confusion is Sex” Sonic Youth. More floating and melodic and textural than any of those, but with some rude wake-up moments. Maybe it’s time for sonic explorers to look into stringed instruments again, because the Dreebs are weaving magic with them. It’s not as if we haven’t also had multiple decades of synth knob twiddling and FX-chain slapping.

Listen/Download from Bandcamp
The label’s website seems to be down. No LP for you.

Mutwawa “Lamashtu Pazuzu”

Mutwawa "Lamashtu Pazuzu"
With this release, the samples & FX duo Mutwawa sharpen up their noise-dance chops, and turn out some music that you could almost imagine moving bodies in the club. And causing everyone to rush the DJ booths wondering what kind of weird lost classic is playing. This lives somewhere between the worlds of post-punk/funk, original Detroit techno, and ’00s electro-noise. This is alive with the energy of discovery, of figuring out how to make a new style of music for the first time. Maybe the elements have been discovered before but never in quite this way, and rarely does music sound this fresh and raw. I also choose this as best album cover art (by Joe Legzz).

Download FREE from Free Music Archive

Microwaves “Psionic Impedance”

Microwaves "Psionic Impedance"
This album I did manage to review this year, but it still deserves a slot on this list. The OTHER sci-fi avant-math-metal duo (besides Xaddax) to put out an album this year and both were amazing.

Buy from ugExplode

Trin Tran “Dark Radar”

Trin Tran "Dark Radar"
I think I did one of those cartoon double-takes when I saw that this album was coming out! Trin Tran is a one-man band featuring an ex-member of LEGENDARY 90’s Now Wave band Xerobot. This project has existed maybe as far back as 2000? but only a few songs have ever made it out to the public. Thank GOD? (“GOD?” being the name of the record label imprint that released this) for this collection of all the early Trin Tran recordings. Jerky, spazzy, robot rock that’s not too dissimilar to what other ex-Xerobotters were doing with their band Numbers. Trin Tran is onto a new, fuller and more rock’n’roll(?) sound these days, but I’m really glad these recordings got the release they deserve.

Buy from Drag City

Aaron Dilloway “Modern Jester”

Aaron Dilloway "Modern Jester"
This has been on a lot of lists, probably because Dilloway is a respected and accomplished experimentalist and this is something of a magnum opus and “best of” double album. The thing I remember most clearly from my first listen was that I kept checking the turntable to make sure this wasn’t in a locked groove. That title, “Modern Jester,” and the fact that this features a lot of loops of exactly 33 RPM length, made me sure I was going to be pranked by some trick before albums end, but no! Or – was I pranked after all? I’m not that crazy on loops, and almost left this off my own list, but gave it a couple more spins recently and discovered all kinds of weird, subtle things happening within those loops. (there are lots of other techniques employed here too) Now I feel like I have to listen again to figure out what I was hearing, and evoking that response is a big win in my book. Music to make you think something is wrong your record player – or just your mind.

Buy from Hanson Records

Lightning Bolt “Oblivion Hunter”

Lightning Bolt "Oblivion Hunter"
We all know Lightning Bolt, and we all know they rule, right? But this record is still one of the best of the year, a collection of practice space recordings that never got developed into songs – but are still some of my new favorite Lightning Bolt songs! Bands are great when they’re the result of unique and magical chemistry between members. The fact that the two Brians of Lightning Bolt simply jammed this material is further proof of what a great thing they have going on. (now I really hope I did understand the concept behind this album correctly)

Buy from Load Records

Sister Fucker “California”

Sister Fucker "California"
If you’re a sucker for harsh, lo-fidelity noise-rock, then man oh man, are you in luck! Seriously impressive heavy jams from this band, featuring members of other notables (but as I’m still confused about the lineage, I’m not going to try). Recommended if you like early Pussy Galore, Coughs, and jeez I’ve tried to avoid mentioning Harry Pussy in every review but I’ve got to play that card with this one. I’m genuinely impressed by the insane noises that are conjured with only (I think) guitar, distortion, and some crude techniques. I love everything about this band and album (except the band name, sorry).

Download FREE from Free Music Archive

Black Dice “Mr. Impossible”

Black Dice "Mr Impossible"
This is the year I checked back in with Black Dice and found them making some totally fun noise-party songs. Garbled, squelchy sounds everywhere and bouncing drum machine beats, packed into a solid batch of song-length jams. Sounds pretty good, right? Sounds a bit like what Skoal Kodiak are doing, but without the live rhythm section.

Buy from Ribbon Music

Infants “Giant Leg”

Infants "Giant Leg"
LATE ADDITION! I don’t know how I forgot this when I first hit publish, but this album was definitely one of my happiest finds of this year. The Infants were some sort of multi-national group (based mainly in England I think?) who did a single in the mid-2000s and I was really, really excited about them. Apparently they split in 2009, but this completed LP just came out! Recommended if you like: Brainiac, Melt-Banana, Pre, and I don’t know if anyone’s going to recognize this one, but who remembers Space Streakings?! Hyperactive ADD freak-out rock, with guitars, synths, noises, lots of various accents shouting over the top of one another. Hairpin turns, heavy riffs, adrenalin. Recommended!

Stream the whole thing on Soundcloud
Buy CD or Download from Tigertrap

Mentions:

I did have to cut myself off from writing about albums at some point. There’s stuff I haven’t heard. There are some other albums that ruled:

Buck Gooter “Consider the Grackles”
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat “Jazz Mind”
Krallice “Years Past Matter”
White Suns “Sinews”
High on Fire “De Vermis Mysteriis”
Dick Neff “Dork Morph”
Lazy Magnet “Acts Without Error”

Some notable singles:

Whore Paint “Menarchy” 7″
fierce Providence feminist noise rock (and side note, who thought feminism would still be a radical idea in 2012?)
SOLD OUT???

Wretched Worst “Funeral Burning” 7″
in theory a rock band, sounds like a scrap yard being demolished with an angry bear on vocals.
Buy from Husk Records

Eric Copeland & DJ Dog Dick “BYOB” 7″
That’s how it was credited on the label the record store put there. Sounds like it’s probably those dudes, but no identifying marks. This sounds like a fun but really weeeeird party happening.
Get it from … UNKNOWN!

Cellular Chaos “Cellular Chaos” digital single
3 tracks from Weasel Walter’s new No Glam band. You’ll want to hear this.
Listen/download from bandcamp

and I may be biased but…

This EP from Radio Shock came out this year and I think it’s pretty good. ;)

Microwaves “Psionic Impedance”

June 30, 2012 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: albums

Microwaves “Psionic Impedance”

You would pretty much know from Microwaves’ cover choices that they would be a favorite of mine. On a recent 7″ they did Big Black’s “Power of Independent Trucking” and on this album DEVO’s “Penetration in the Centerfold.” Right in the No-Core sweet spot. And I’d pick this as Microwaves’ best album, a totally substantial helping of sci-fi math-skronk. No filler.

Microwaves have been around for a while, following the quality over quantity philosophy, not exactly the best strategy for finding fame and fortune these days. The Microwaves formula was always hard, un-obvious drum patterns, metallic guitar (not metal as in heavy metal, but the kind of Big Black guitar that actually sounds like metal on metal), and bass run through synth pedals. On this album the trio has become a duo and counter-intuitively everything has become denser and more complex. In place of the synth bass, there are triggered and looped low-end synth sounds and more screwy guitar effects.

If you’re into this stuff, GET THIS. There aren’t going to be that many albums of ambitious, complex noise-rock this year, though I’ll try to review the other – like – two? that have come out so far. This is 100% quality here. Check out the track “Flu Factory” below and buy a copy from ugExplode.

fdsfdsf

Doomsday Student, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Dan Friel, Bananas on Strings, Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

April 08, 2012 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .9

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

I caught this awesome, slightly mixed-bill show last Thursday. Doomsday Student, the sorta-resurrected Arab on Radar was the main draw for me and I’ll jump straight to the main takeaway: They’re amazing. But everyone else was great too, so let me start from the beginning.

Bananas on Strings at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

Bananas on Strings at 285 Kent

The first act was billed as Ramble Tamble, which is Turner of Guardian Alien’s project with a drummer, but apparently it expanded to include a whole list of guest stars and became a new band called Bananas on Strings. They went straight for a deep and heavy psychedelic rock, like Acid Mothers Temple minus the rock riffs and any of the quiet parts. The lynchpin here was drummer Adam Autry (of Olneyville Sound System fame) who was able to punch through the thick sound and keep things driving ahead with rolling, off-kilter beats.

Dan Friel at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

Dan Friel at 285 Kent

Then Dan Friel did his thing, which is maximally loud and distorted, but also very melodic and tuneful keyboard music. The rhythms are generally huge, crunching sounds but the lead keyboard lines are usually the type of tunes you could easily whistle while you work. There’s headbanging. 285 Kent’s sound system is booming, but not always really clear, which worked perfectly for Dan Friel.

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .3

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

And then Doomsday Student was up. This band is most of Arab on Radar and a member of the post-Arab on Radar band Chinese Stars. Now, I don’t know the whole back story, nor is it fair to dwell on it, but Arab on Radar reunited, broke up again, and then this band was formed minus one original member. There’s a new name and all-new material, but it’s impossible to ignore that this is essentially the new Arab on Radar. So for those of us who fondly remember that band and their cathartic live performances, the main question is how does Doomsday Student measure up? I am happy to report that they are every bit as great. None of the energy is missing. Here’s some video I took of them. The sound is terrible but the video is good.

The anti-melodic guitars, the looping dance-unfriendly beats, the nasally shrieked vocals (all imitated by almost every No Wavey band since AoR). I want to compliment them on the unified look, something I like in a band. Doomsday Student all wore black t-shirts and pants and matching orange sneakers. A band in uniform says that they’re here to do a job, or perhaps go into battle. I also appreciate the stark light show, all the house lights down and 2 very bright industrial lights on the floor. It makes for great photos. (to see more of the photos I took, go to the Flickr account, starting here.)

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .4

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .7

Doomsday Student at 285 Kent

After Doomsday Student was Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. I’d heard this band mentioned, but hadn’t seen them play before this.

Ed Schrader's Music Beat at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012 .2

Ed Schrader's Music Beat at 285 Kent

I was really impressed by these guys. They had very minimal instrumentation, just a single floor tom and a bass, but they managed to be totally captivating just by having really great, simple songs and a strong performance. Maybe this is what the Violent Femmes would sound like if they formed in Baltimore in the year 2012? Well, these guys seem way more punk, but I’m trying to get you in the ballpark.

Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent, 04-05-2012

Pardalince Bird at 285 Kent

Dan Deacon’s Pardalince Bird project went on last, despite originally being scheduled to go first. There were some lengthy technical difficulties getting all the 4 channels of sound working too. Then as Dan explained, this would have made a lot more sense if it had happened first since it’s really background stuff, steady synth drones with occasional moany vocals. Lots of digital notes floating up and down scales. So scheduling and circumstances conspired to make this a sort of anticlimactic finish, but I’m not going to complain when this many good acts can be put together on one bill.

Tom Smith and Sightings, Fat Worm of Error, Child Abuse, Don Fleming at Death by Audio 01-04-2012

January 10, 2012 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .9

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio

I showed up to this show and the place was, surprisingly to me, already full. Sometimes shows that are can’t-miss line-ups of legends in my mind have single-digit attendance so I’m not really able to predict these things. But I was happy to see that these bands are apparently not just legends to me.

I completely missed the first act, which was Tom Smith and Don Fleming playing together. Don Fleming is a longtime NYC avant-rocker and Tom Smith is best known as the central figure from the post-music band To Live And Shave In L.A. Tom currently resides in Germany and was briefly in the states around the holidays, playing a few select shows. So I’m sad to have missed their performance.

The second band, Child Abuse, was going on. No photos, I was in the back of the room and they wouldn’t have been good anyway. Child Abuse are a bass drums keyboard trio who play metally brutal prog. Very technical, very tight, but with very messy and grungy sounds. It’s funny actually, most of the time the keyboard sounds like a distorted bass and the bass (run through some synth pedals I’m guessing) sounds like a keyboard. They were as great as ever.

Then the anti-rock, max-confusion band Fat Worm of Error was up!

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .1

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio

Notice how it’s not even clear what’s going on in this photo? That’s how they sound, but much moreso. Of course 5 people just noodling and doing separate things would be pretty boring. Okay, maybe I’d think that was pretty cool too, but what makes Fat Worm really mind-bending is the way they have a plan and they’ve really honed their own style of playing – in a way that sounds like chaos at almost every moment. Until both guitarists suddenly play the same sequence of notes exactly together and your brain twists 360 degrees in your head in an attempt to figure out what just happened. More Fat Worm photos:

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .4

Fat Worm of Error after one of a few costume changes

Fat Worm of Error at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .3

Fat Worm of Error, feeling it at Death by Audio

I spent a little time chatting in the back room and realized this was almost like a reunion (to me) of people from a show waaay back – at the Polish National Home, now known as the Club Warsaw. Maybe I’ll write all my recollections from that show someday, but it’s where I first met lots of the people playing or in the audience. Anyway, with all these long-time friends and acquaintances in attendance, there was definitely a very friendly and supportive vibe going on. You could tell from all the chatting and joking and cheers, but also from the huge smile on Tom’s face between songs.

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .4

Tom Smith with Sightings at Death by Audio

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .2

Mark Morgan's guitar moves

Sightings were doing their thing, sounding as focused (yet blurred) as ever. I was told there was exactly one practice for this show but it would have been hard to guess they hadn’t been playing this set for a month on tour. Everyone seemed 100% in command, holding back or cutting loose exactly when needed with no nervous or puzzled glances. It’s a pretty perfect pairing too, Sightings and Tom Smith, as they both work in a similar mode: composed but loose, planned but spontaneous. Sightings works with sound shards and Tom works with words, both of them stretching their material to the breaking point.

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .3

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .7

Mark Morgan of Sightings, bending spacetime

Sightings w Tom Smith at Death by Audio 01-04-2012 .10

Sightings w Tom Smith (and Pat Murano!)

Oh yeah, this fellow named Pat Murano also played with these guys. You can see him lurking behind that synth in the photo above. I can’t say too much about his playing, which is probably a good thing because it means it blended right into the Sightings vibe.

The set was short but satisfying. Definitely worth catching, but if you missed it some people seemed to be videotaping and recording so hopefully that will turn up online soon. Great show all around!

Even more photos over at the NO-CORE Flickr.

 

podcast interview with CLANG QUARTET

May 17, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: news

Clang Quartet

Clang Quartet at INC2011 in Miami, photo by Valerie Martino

As of right now, the podcast side of No-Core has an interview with Clang Quartet. I don’t usually double-post items like this, but just in case there are some people following the blog who aren’t following the podcast, I thought I should point it out here. The summary goes like this: “Scotty Irving AKA Clang Quartet is an incredibly nice, honest, and humble guy who is also one of the most – maybe THE most – captivating and intense noise performers around. He is also a very devoted Christian whose religious beliefs play a central role in his performance. Just to head off some potential comments, I’d like to point out that though I’m an atheist and we do mention this difference, this was not intended as a debate. I mainly wanted to let Scotty explain how his beliefs motivate what he does and just get a picture of what he’s like as a person and an artist.”

GO PODCAST-SIDE AND CHECK IT OUT!

Get the latest Clang Quartet tape from Hanson Records.
Follow or contact Clang Quartet on Facebook.

Cellular Chaos, Satanized, Drums Like Machine Guns, White Suns at Cake-Shop 2/25/11

March 11, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Satanized at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11 - 1

Satanized at the Cake-Shop

The Cake-Shop is one of the last places left in Manhattan that I still go to for shows, with virtually every other show happening in Brooklyn these days, but it’s also just about my favorite place for shows. They’ve got coffee and yes, cake!, and awesome records to browse, and the downstairs show space is great. And of course they host awesome shows like this one, which deserved a far larger crowd than it got.

White Suns at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11

White Suns at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11

The White Suns opened things up with their thunderous noise/rock. For some reason, this sounded better than any previous time I’ve seen them. Things can sometimes sound pretty indistinct when you’ve got 3 different people making 3 different grinding and/or screeching noises, but I could distinguish everything that went into the formula this time. While watching them, it occurred to me that while they look like a rock band, this is really a noise band with some rock instrumentation. They do scripted songs, but elements like rhythm or, um, melody? (ha ha) are distant seconds to sheer noise terror.

Drums Like Machine Guns at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11

Drums Like Machine Guns at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11

Drums Like Machine Guns are a long-time favorite. They’re generally a mixture of oddball experiments and howling, head-banging beats-&-noise. To be honest, this show was noticeably less intense than I’ve seen from them. I mean, these dudes always sound great, but they’ve set the bar pretty damn high for themselves with past performances. On the other hand, they did some different stuff, possibly knowing that most of the people in attendance had seen them several times before – and that’s a good choice too.

Satanized at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11 - 2

Satanized at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11 - 2

Satanized at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11 - 3

Satanized at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11 - 3

Satanized pushed things to new extremes with their music, becoming more obtuse and perplexing than ever. Which is meant as a high compliment, in case you don’t know me very well. Satanized are both heavy-bottomed and high-ended. The chugging bass and heavy, complex drums almost sound like they’re operating in a different dimension than the super-shrill guitar, which sounds like equal parts Mick Barr and Big Black. I’m used to Alex’s maxed-treble guitar sound, but he did some harmonics things this time that went into dog-whistle territory.

Cellular Chaos at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11

Cellular Chaos at the Cake-Shop 2/27/11

I hadn’t seen Cellular Chaos before, but since I’m almost always into Weasel Walter’s projects, it’s no surprise I thought they were great. It’s nice to see Weasel playing guitar too, and some of the heavy-handedness of Lake of Dracula is definitely present, but it’s also nice how there was subtlety and complexity involved too. All the members of this group are definitely players, but mercifully un-showy ones. There were moments of freakout improv and moments of rigid tightness, on-a-dime switches between the two, and times when it wasn’t entirely clear what was happening. Unclear to the audience that is, but the band was in command at all times.

All around great show, killer line-up from start to finish.

Satanized on MySpace
Drums Like Machine Guns
White Suns
Cellular Chaos

 

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      Did you miss me? I can’t guarantee this will be a regular thing again, but I got the itch and busted out another one of these podcasts. Some weird stuff in this one. Featuring soundz from Lightning Bolt, Profligate, Xerobot, Moth Cock, Skeleton Warrior, Pod Blotz, Mincemeat or Tenspeed, Mansion, Doomsday Student, Bromp Treb, Form […]
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