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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.

 

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.

Paranoid Critical Revolution, Altaar, Benn Miller, Deathcrush, Neg-Fi, E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03-13-11

March 25, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Neg-Fi at Silent Barn 03/13/11

I am hereby going to dub Neg-Fi “The most punctual band in New York City.” Even though they did cut an agreement with the organizers to start a few minutes after their designated time and put in what, for them, qualifies as an epic set (20 minutes?), I’m pretty sure no other band is in the running for this title. I’m always using the word minimal to describe Neg-Fi’s music, but I don’t think that’s really the right word, because they’re always plenty loud and fill the room with sound. It’s just such tightly scripted and executed music. Punctual is actually closer. Or maybe maximal.

E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03/13/11

E.I.D. at Silent Barn 03/13/11

This was one of the Silent Barn’s upstairs-downstairs shows, and downstairs the one-man noise project E.I.D. (Explosive Improvised Device) was going on. This contact mic harsh noise has been around almost 20 years now if you think about it, though it seems to be less popular at the moment and I think E.I.D. is too early for a retro resurgence – but he’s definitely carrying the flame.

The sounds here were actually really varied and dynamic. Lots of quiet-loud moments. More like a Masonna without the vocals than a C.C.C.C. or something. My only complaint: protective gloves! Does Masonna wear kneepads? Does Lucas Abela put masking tape on the edges of his glass? Bleeding for your noise is just part of the HARSHness, dude. Okay, okay, I’m giving E.I.D. a hard time, but there’s just something about a guy doing the full-on, serious noise thing (in a Macronympha T-shirt no less) that begs for a little heckling. But for real, I was impressed by how good this sounded.

Benn Miller at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Benn Miller at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Back upstairs was Benn Miller, who played a table full of fun, ancient-looking stuff. Cassette tapes, loop station, reel-to-reel, old synthesizer, and saxophone run through effects. There was also a drummer who did a good job of playing along, keeping things loose enough so that the oddball sounds could run free, and just tight enough to add a little rock. My only complaint here is that all the stuff could have been turned up because the drums were by far the loudest part.

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11 1

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Then Deathcrush (from Norway I discovered) played, and at first I honestly thought this was just terrible, but I was totally won over by the end. So many things made it seem like this was going to be awful. First, I’m always skeptical of bands that seem like they spent more time getting their hair, make-up and clothes right than their music. (male or female of course) Deathcrush came out of the gate with rock star “attitude” and “moves,” accompanied by completely un-tuned guitars and beyond rudimentary technique. (except the drummer who clearly had some solid skills) My first impression was that this band did all their song-writing and practicing in front of a mirror with non-functioning prop instruments, and this was the first time they’d been handed the real thing to use. It was like they thought they were in Def Leppard but came out sounding more like… The Dead C?

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11 2

Deathcrush at Silent Barn 03/13/11

But as I watched, I found I did a complete 180 in my thinking. First I thought: if they were pulling out rock star moves and sounding like Def Leppard, would that be better? No way, that would be terrible. If they sounded like a sludgy & dirgey noise-rock band but spent the show crouching over their amps and staring at their feet, would that be better? Again, no way. Then at some point they did this one song and by some combination of willpower and magical happenstance it sounded perfect. Even when the guitarist was holding up her guitar and gesturing to her tourmates that a new string was needed, feedback howling away and sounding no different than it was when she was furiously doing something with it a minute ago – there was this great semi-melodic vortex of sound going on, like a Venus in Furs moment – and I officially changed my mind. The headbanging into the audience finale sealed the deal. Deathcrush were kind of awesome.

Paranoid Critical Revolution at Silent Barn 03/13/11

Paranoid Critical Revolution at Silent Barn 03/13/11

The Paranoid Critical Revolution, usually a duo, played without their drummer, who I’m told had quit the band. So it was just member Reg Bloor playing guitar. Reg also plays in Glenn Branca’s guitar orchestra, and on her own she sounds like a whole orchestra of guitars. I don’t really know how it’s done, but using an amp that doesn’t look all that big, she can blow out any eardrums in the room. Earplugs take a ton of the treble away, but it still sounds hellishly loud.

We’d had a brief conversation about black metal before the show started and with that in my mind, I couldn’t help thinking how Reg’s style is kind of black metal. The super-fast strumming with little notes picked out of a hurricane of white noise. It’s like part black metal, part no wave, and part nuclear holocaust.

Because of some overlap, I only caught the end of Altaar’s set. They also had thoroughly filled the room with smoke-machine fog, so my point and shoot camera was useless. This was the band that had been described as black metal, but we Americans do know a thing or two about our metal genres, and just because a band is from Norway does not make them black metal. I’d put this firmly in the sludge/doom metal category. Maybe with a noise-rock bent, given all the pedals in use. So what I saw was about 10 minutes of slow, heavy, thudding noise-dirge – which it wouldn’t really be fair to judge these guys on, as it was probably just the triumphant climax to an epic show. I’m going to assume that’s the case.

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

 

bbigpigg “Phantom Photography”

February 17, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: albums, downloads

bbigpigg "Phantom Photography"

*****UPDATE: This album now available for free download at http://www.bbigpigg.com/bp.html GET IT!*****

Bbigpigg are an NYC band and this is their debut 5-song EP. This is noise-rock that falls just about halfway between what I call noise-rock (music with rock beats, but incorporating real dissonant sounds or noise) and what some other people call noise-rock (loud edgy rock in the vein of the Jesus Lizard or somesuch). Shrill and tweaked guitars stab at you, but unlike some other modern No Wavers, this is anchored to a rock-solidly skilled rhythm section. Like… Shellac playing Arab on Radar covers? If you like Satanized or Microwaves you’ll probably want to check these guys out.

Let me get one complaint out of the way. For some reason I never like pig-themed things so I’m not into the band name. It might just be me. (I also don’t like songs about volcanos. Can’t say why.) I do think the curious spelling is going to throw people off though. I kept typing it in as bbiggppigg. Nope, the letters in the middle are not doubled. It’s bbigpigg. I never liked Boss Hogg’s name either (similarity intentional?) but somehow I got over it.

I caught a show by these guys last weekend and it sounded great live, and I was impressed by the one-slide-on-each-hand guitar technique. (not present on this album?) I think I caught more atypical time signatures going on at the show too. In fact my favorite track on this is the last one, “Foxx the Fox” where one guitar is playing in threes, the other in fives, and I couldn’t quite pick up on what the drummer and bassist were doing but it was something weird. It makes for a constantly shifting mess – of the best kind imaginable. And it makes me want to listen again so I can figure it out. That counts as a big win in my book.

http://www.myspace.com/bbigpigg
Contact bbigpigg-AT-gmail to get a copy.

Rat Bastard, humanbeast, AIDS Wolf, Shawn Greenlee, Diamond Black Heart, DubKnowDub at Death by Audio 01/15/11

January 24, 2011 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: shows

HumanBeast at Death by Audio

HumanBeast at Death by Audio

Phew! Some kind of line-up, right? This is going to be the Brooklyn show to top in 2011. And there were lots of big cameras popping off everywhere, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this event has already shown up on a bunch of other music blogs. But hey, I was there, I took pictures, it was awesome, I may as well put my show review out into the virtual world too.

dubknowdub – live at zebulon

So first of all, I missed DubKnowDub, but they’re great. I know the show had 6 bands on the bill, but this being Brooklyn, I still didn’t believe the show would actually start before 9PM. So as a consolation, hit play on the above track and let it be your soundtrack to No-Core browsing. (Music starts about the 1:45 mark.) I don’t know who DubKnowDub are exactly, but they get on lots of great shows somehow and they’re tons of fun. Yup, it’s kinda dub, and also kinda noise. Great live. Don’t make my mistake next time!

Diamond Black Hearted Boy at Death by Audio

Diamond Black Hearted Boy at Death by Audio

I did get there in time to catch Diamond Black Hearted Boy, a guy I’ve met before though I didn’t mentally piece together that it was the same person until I talked to him at the show! DBHB comes from the same Richmond freak scene that Narwhalz and Shams do and performance-wise you can tell he’s on the same page. Live, it’s kinda confrontational (for anyone who’s not into it) or just good fun if you are into it. Lots of goofy genre tags have been slapped on him, but honestly, I’d say his music is sort of proto-industrial. Claustrophobic, pushed-too-far-into-the-red samples and loops, usually rhythmic, sometimes with actual beats. Tonight DBHB also made ample use of a piercing whistle blown straight into the microphone which sounded pretty awesome (maybe a little tiresome after a while though) like it was hitting the resonant frequency of your eardrums.

Shawn Greenlee at Death by Audio

Shawn Greenlee at Death by Audio

Shawn Greenlee’s performance was really fantastic. He used some kind of camera to scan from a handmade book, and then what must have been custom software to turn the images into noise. Then there was a weird spinning disk, and he’d use the trackpad kind of like a Kaossilator, and… well, just watch him do his thing here. That’s my best guess as to what was going on. It sounded super-sweet too, better than it came out in this video. I was captivated.

And then, humanbeast. This was SO GOOD.

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 3

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 3

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 2

HumanBeast at Death by Audio 2

Last year at the International Noise Conference in Miami, I, like any mortal person, had to take a break and miss some of the acts. When I got back and asked people what I missed, everyone kept saying “Humanbeast! Humanbeast!” (I’m using the no-space spelling that appears on the tape I got) – so I was excited to finally see these guys. They did not disappoint! Their music was absolutely gorgeous, while at the same time being really dirty and messed up – which was also sort of how their performance played out – and how the theme of their lyrics go – taken together it’s cohesive, deadly effective, and totally entrancing. Amazing music meets amazing noise. Again, I couldn’t really capture the sound in full, but here’s my video of them playing “Come Through the Cloth.” I just watched it again and got chills at the point where she sings at the top of her lungs without the microphone.

Rat Bastard & Co at Death by Audio 2

I don't know if all those expensive cameras are safe there...

And then Rat Bastard of INC and Laundryroom Squelchers fame took to the stage, with his guitar with only 4 strings and 4 tuning pegs remaining. He was joined by Roger of Monotract fame and another guy who I probably should know but don’t, both on guitars. This was basically a performance following the Laundryroom Squelchers M.O. – a terrific squall that sounds at first like sheer white noise. The infamous Nondor Nevai made his trademark after-the-band-has-started appearance and took over vocals, striking poses but largely inaudible over the din. The thing about these Rat performances is that the beginning always seems just like random loud noodling, but if you’re willing to keep listening it starts to take shape and details come out at you. And these guys must have been listening to one another, because somehow they all knew when it was done around the same time.

AIDS Wolf at Death by Audio

AIDS Wolf at Death by Audio

AIDS Wolf went on last, and this was the first time I’ve seen their new(ish) 3-person line-up. (and Chloe’s new glasses!) Losing a guitarist has certainly not diminished the volume or chaos of AIDS Wolf live. In fact, I think I like the new sound even better. The band members really seem to be working toward some sort of Harry-Pussy-like psychic communication music that relies on feeling and intuition more than counting beats. They also introduced some sampled sounds and vocal effects which broadened the sound pallet. At least, I think that was an effect and not just a technical difficulty – but you know what? I really enjoy it when a band can make me wonder what’s intentional and what’s not. Living at the edge of chaos. I was also happy to see that the musical chaos inspired some physical chaos in the crowd. It looks like people are just standing around in the above photo, but there was some serious mosh action happening.

In closing: Awesome show. Good people, good times, great sounds. Show ran on time?!?! (props to Edan) Amazing. I went home feeling reinvigorated about music in general.

More awesome free downloadable noise/core albums

November 03, 2009 By: M*P* Lockwood Category: downloads

Realicide - Detroit 2009

Realicide - Detroit 2009

Everyone loves free mp3 albums right? So maybe you’ve already found these, but it can’t hurt to spread the good word. The gabber/noise/omni-core group Realicide have made a whole bunch of music available for you. They’re frequently compared to Atari Teenage Riot, which is not far off the mark, except they often make ATR sound like, I don’t know… Jesus Jones?

Anyway, you can get no less than THREE collections of stuff, a mega-mix of samples from the latest album with live stuff and b-sides here:

http://www.lunaticfringe.org/~schizoid/dtrashrecords/digitaldownloads/135.html

and a 20-minute tape of misc. live material turned digital release, directly linked here:

http://ia311020.us.archive.org/1/items/Wild063-Realicide/Wild063-Realicide-DigitalScraps2008.zip

and basically a whole live album, with interviews and photos! This one’s pretty awesome. Here:

http://www.digitalvomit.com/dvr048

Rose for Bohdan

Rose for Bohdan

And next up, Brian of Foot Village/Deathbombarc pointed out in the comments to another post that his band Rose For Bohdan’s last album was made available as a free download, but since I figure few people saw it there, I’m reiterating it here. 3 members of Foot Village, recently reviewed, were also in this band. Get it here:

http://deathbombarc.com/sound/r4b/creepingmoraldecay/creeping.htm

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