Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Leaving Trains: "Fuck" LP

Perhaps the best symptom of the KBD price-gouge fallout is that it makes it easy for lazy assholes like me to scope out some gems from the '80s. I mean, what in-the-know Joe cares about '80s PUNK? Two wrong numbers and a four letter word. Recalls all sortsa horrid visions of shaved heads and crossover mistakes, hip-daddy-o cartoon postures of '60s-inspired garage geeks, watered down stabs at AOR a la Du/Mats: It ain't the '70s! No, but while the fetishist slugs grease and glide over each others' backs to grab those obscure finds in record holes, distro bins, fairs, thrift stores, younameits, I get to leaf through their leftovers and buy the overlooked post-'70s nuggets. Real cheap. Got this one for one lone clam.

One day T. Kellner and I were doing some sluggy rifling ourselves through mostly-garbage in a Chicago shop when he spied Fuck and threw it at me. "It's a buck," he said. "You'll like this one. Get it." Cover looked horrible, so of course, I bought it. Along with the Raunch Hands' Fuck Me Stupid LP and one other that had the word "shit" in the title. Can't remember which. Those since sold for peanuts because they stunk. But hey anyways I stammered when the clerk rang me up and remarked on my obvious taste for juvenalia, and I smuggled it back to the basement apartment a couple days later and after one unimpressive listen -- not fast enough, production's too glossy -- I filed it away and promptly struck it from memory.

Fast-forward two years: A little bit older, a little bit boreder, a little bit broker, way down in the hole and had no new recs sitting by the speaks so I grabbed Fuck from the shelves and by the time "How Can I Explode?" finished, its bombastic stop-stop-stop hook snapping each verse into, I was sold. This was a legitimately good alb! Great, even! Rockitis suffered here 'n' there, sure, but I couldn't deny the goods. Repeated listens uncovered a stacked deck of gems. The aforementioned "How Can I Explode?," the heart-on-sleeve harmonies of "The Horse Song," the paisley-toned upstroke of "Walking with You," the smiley jackhammer of "Sleep," the surprisingly catchy countrified G. Club lilt of "With Dr. A.W.O.L."...and that's just a few cuts on the a-side. The flip has just as many hits, like "27 Days" and, a personal favorite, "So Fucked Up," a heartwrenching cornball anthem that dominates that side of the rec like an ugly loitering wino who can't busk to save his raggedy ass, but refuses to leave. Slide guit and all. Hell, not even Falling James' half-baked poetic lyrics could get in the way.

I fell in love with the rec. It's a personal deal. Which is how I feel about a lotta records that fall by the wayside in favor of far crummier listens that've been billed as top-tier due to scarcity or time/place pigeonholes or etc. This is no Red Squares' "Modern Roll" or Tazers' "Don't Classify Me" -- it's far better than that. And it's cheaper than dog food and you're a dummy if you don't give it a shot. Or not. Leave these 'tween-period artifacts to me.

There Will Never Be Another Grong Grong

Not in a million-and-two years, no. There will never be another band-titled lead-off track on an LP that slams the door so hard on your neck. There will never be another "Louie the Fly." There will never be another cover of MC5's "Looking at You" that will sound so wrong and right at the same time. Won't happen.

Grong Grong: They were Aussie meatheads bent on proto-punk of all directions: You hear Kramer/Sonic/Co., but you also hear Ubu and all manner of Clevo junk, you hear splatters of various N. Cave vehicles, you hear Oz X, but -- and here's the best part -- you hear 'em all as interpreted through thug ears. These were not students from Williamsburg or performance artists from some boheme CA cityscape. This was muscle. This was meat 'n' meat, no potatoes, and these were four losers who choked you with their sound, the four-note basslines moving down their own obstinate path, firing down their own tracks like an unmanned freighter headed for a crater, crashing against the skittish guitar swipes, nerves of a toy poodle, mongo jazz chops that sounded like they could garrote ya, and maybe they could. Behind the kit, G. Klestines was metronome-mania personified, kept the din from self-destruct, except when he didn't, which is when he was slow, sludgy and perfectly understated, and the vox: They were birthed in the voc-chords of a nutjob and spat out with equal parts carelessness and lunacy. Real manpower. You can hear veins poppin' on necks in-between takes. And somehow, goddamn all, there are hooks in there. Incidentally.

Like Flipper, like the Electric Eels, like a whole lotta shit I love that has inspired misdirected tenth-gen facsimilies thereof in '06 and before/beyond, this band was the result of a strange aggregation of personalities and circumstances that somehow, someway, against all odds, made for an inspiring and great listen. Happy accident. Just barely on this side of the suck-line. So who's gonna do that now? Who's gonna form an outfit that can harness this brand of slop without the self-important pretense, without the irony? Who's gonna write the next "Angles & Demons" and really hit the nerve center, grab the primitive pulp and make you wanna funnel a gallon of likker down your pipes and shed those pantaloons and dance like a caveman? You? No, you can't. You already know who the Grong Grong are. Strike one. Strike two is that anyone stupid enough to play music like this in '06 sure as shit ain't listening to the MC5 and B-day Party and X. And strike three: Anyone angling for this sound is already fucked, because I guarantee these guys weren't, and I guarantee calculation had as much to do with the loose intensity of this record as politics and overt sex appeal and any other ancillary ingredient that tends to ruin the savage fuggin goddamn roar that makes music music insteada something else GODDAMN CHRIST, SHIT. ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME? I TOLD YOU THERE WOULDN'T BE ANOTHER ONE OF THESE! YOU'RE FUCKED!

But at least we still got the real deal, crap cover (w)art(s) and all. GRONG GRONG! Ahem.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Word on Aluminum Knot Eye

Bands waxing poetic about all things urban, the city slime, skyscrape scuzz, downtown debauch, smog smiles, crime time, money for cunny, various other boheme botherations: They're dime/duz. By-the-numbers units staffed by displaced suburbanites playing dress-up in the big, bad metrocenter. They don't get it. They don't understand the value of the rural vantage point. They don't know about the hopelessness (and subsequent liberation) in small-town solitude, the eternal dark corner found in vast forests, plains, hills, ponds, swamps, bogs, marshes. Not like the fish-faced mongos in Aluminum Knot Eye. Nope.

And in dark corners: That's where AKE sounds best. They thrive in 'em. Outward or inward, physical or personal. Doesn't matter. Go on, find your apartment's dimmest nook/cranny. Hide out for awhile. Then work on your innards: Grab that drink, recall past transgressions with the ex, think about your shitty job. Suspend disbelief long enough to wallow in the muck/mire of your ownpersonal recesses, those unlit margins of twilight country
criss-crossing your noodle. Then throw on this rec.

Soon enough, Keith's troggy caterwaul will rip through your thoughts, and the loping drums will mimic pastoral repetition (for miles beyond), and as the tangled guitar and off-center synth dance like a half-cocked geez with the tractor keys, you'll know exactly where you are. As AKE works itself over in the primordial ooze, as they roll in the mud, walk on moonshine, run a radiogram through your bim gene and wade through the thicket to find their nearest dark corner -- wherever it may be -- may you think Cripes awmighty that there's a group of misanthropes honest and stubborn enough to help you find yours. Even though you probably don't deserve it.

Bob: "The Things That You Do"

Seems like most collector-types in this little scene we got here will fall over themselves to talk shop, talk obscuro shop, about best-of-KBD shit. I got this single, I paid this much, this song is tits on a high-hog, you've never heard it, allow me to enlighten you, that sorta jive. Well, I'm outta the sweepstakes. I don't have the money or the wherewithal to investigate the whole shebang so heavily anymore, whether it's on Soulseek or on Gemm or in bargain-bins across this great goddamn country of ours. I'm too busy doing absolutely nothing, or bitching about inconsequential hoo-ha, or thinking about real life and fretting to the point where I gotta souse myself in order to handle this/that/other.

But I have gotten my mitts on some decent comps, sure. A tenner for a good comp is worth ten obscurities in the bush, or somesuch. You get the idea. Take the "Brainkiller" rec: Good one, very good one, got some hits all over it. Cover is A-OK: Bloody head of a random femme, as seen on the Angry Samoans' "Inside My Brain." Eye-catching right off. So I ponied up the dough one day, brought the fucker home, threw it on. Decent, decent, decent, decent, decent then BAM! Enter Bob's "The Things That You Do." Not decent, no, but bonafide AMAZING, you bet!

Real understated Casio tinkles skate across the even less obvious rhythm section and that monster of a guitar hook, a real Godzilla stomper. Guy's maniacal vox slap-bang into it all, and it gets messy, just barely together, and by the time the chorus jerks in, we got his femme counterpart careening her vox right into his and the song really starts going. Then we she takes over the lead voc, we're treated to her side of the insult-o-rama. Lyrics detail a bitchy back 'n' forth between an unsatisfied couple who typify the punk luv ethos as mentioned in alla those books you and I have read, as seen in alla them pics we've spied of Dee Dee and Connie (or whomever). Like: "You always wanna go to discos/I wanna go to cheap motels." "You wanna meet punk rockers/and I really think it's rude/You wanna live together/I want your friend named Ruth." And: "Call me from a payphone/just to start a fight/Bet you think you're macho/Can't get it up tonight?" Last one was the femme's line. Sounds like a ballbuster. Reminds me of the girlfriend from wayback, way, wayback -- she was a ballbuster, too. I like ballbusters. They got heart and so does this chick and her screech matches the guy's throaty howl step-for-step. And as the vox alternate, note how that monst guit riff turns itself inside out. It's like a circus in there! And I hate the circus but this one's good.

Flip to this single, not featured on the "Brainkiller" alb, is a throwaway called "Thomas Edison." But the A! Woulda been right at home on Dangerhouse. But it's not on Dangerhouse, it's on this "Brainkiller" LP, so do yourself and your friends and neighbors a favor and scope this one out. The more ambitious of you can spent next month's rent on the real-deal 45, then trade it to me for a spaghetti dinner and a staring contest.