Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Job For A Cowboy:

When is the last time you could consider a goth band to be truly "baddass?" Well, if you ran into any of the members of Fields Of The Nephilim you might know what I'm talking about. Taking the melancholy, somber tone of early British gothic rock and merging it with a low-slung Ennio Morricone kind of vibe, Nephilim (as they were later known as) were masters of fusing two perfect worlds together to create their own mysterious landscape. It didn't hurt that they had a killer dusty cowboy image that turned more than a few heads. Let's face it, while most bands of this ilk were more interested in hiding in the shadows, these guys stood in the light and just oozed cool.

DAWNRAZOR (great title!) was their first proper full-length album and it's a scorcher from start to finish. The majority of it is quite upbeat and full of a bristling crackling energy. The guitars chime with a melodic clean tone and show a lot of subtlety in the attack. The bass rumbles along and anchors the songs with cold finesse as the drums (which, at times sound somewhat hampered by an 80's production) build up tasteful tension and release. The vocals are truly great; a rugged, coarse and throaty concoction that fits the direction and sound of this band so well.

***In fact, as I'm listening to this again right now, parallels between Joy Division are almost impossible to disregard. Certainly, both bands were totally different entities, but I can't help but to notice how their visions seem to converge in on each other's shade.

Creaky soundscapes that evoke images of wild western towns in the grip of outlaw vigilantes, forgotten men telling spectre tales under a bone white moon with nothing but a bottle of whiskey and all the time in the world, cow skulls on the road and footprints in the dust.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Telepathic With The Diseased:

A crushing cornerstone of Finnish doom, Unholy's THE SECOND RING OF POWER album showcases a band working on an almost telepathic level to bring out a murky mystical musical vision that is both crushing and haunting. The sound is dark, ominous, and quite versatile for this particular style. The key elements are all in place...plodding rythyms, heavy guitars, and (for the most part) slooooow tempos. But Unholy's knack for creative songwriting prevails and they continually pop in little touches that keep the album in a consistent flow of (downward?) motion. Monotone, droning female vocals, wispy keyboard accents, mid-paced sections, a violin here and there, and even moments that border on psyche freak out(!) all add up to not just a great set of songs, but a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Atmosphere seems to be a key element in setting apart a good doom record from a great one; and Unholy have captured an obscure, cultic feel that serves the purpose well. There is a beauty amongst the desolation set by the pounding pace and one could even imagine nightblossiming flowers blooming amidst the sonic carnage on display here.

A perfect album for the upcoming autumn chill.

Monday, September 7, 2009


The hyper kinetic atomic pop punk rock of Judy And Mary has been long heralded on this site. Their songs swing into life fusing all the best elements of bubblegum pop, twisted heavy punked-out guitars, and plenty of off-kilter melody. Their beginnings were rather humble, but as they hit their stride they ushered in a new era of Japanese pop music from the late 80's on into the 90's. Although now broken up, they left behind a legacy of influential albums and some amazingly catchy music that didn't just cross boundaries, it fused them seamlessly into a patchwork audio net of bright colourful musical expression.

As testament to the band's power, there is a newly released JUDY AND MARY 15TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE ALBUM in which fifteen Japanese artists and bands pay their respect to the gods (and goddess) of JAM! Truthfully, I was not familiar with most of the artists on this compilation but have been pleasantly surprised to get this and enjoy the interpretations of these great songs. Some stick closer to the original, others add their own unique elements...including a rather noisy, disjointed version of "ミュージック ファイター" (Music Fighter) by an artist known simply as Midori; whose cut comes across like a polite version of early Boredoms. Mihimaru GT throw in a trip hop rendition of "Over Drive" that includes this super goofy hip hop breakdown complete with horrible scratching and other words...awesome! Puffy is no doubt the biggest name on here and they turn in a surprisingly grungy and loose version of "Motto."

Did you read that? Yes, Puffy covering Judy And Mary!
Somewhere...a J-Pop fan just wet themselves.

Come Back Jacko, All Is Forgiven:

There have been plenty of WTF moments for the loyal WFY followers of this site; and here's another one of those rare items to grace the pile. There's plenty to get excited about from the cover image alone...the goofy name (E-COUSINS?), the bling-bling style of lettering, and, oh yea, two Filipino Elvis impersonators! If that doesn' t excite you enough already, then I only need to point you to the track listing and let you know that there is a song on here called......

(wait for it)

Which contains a soul-stirring response as to what the Pelvis himself would do if he were here to combat liberty-scoffing terrorists! Well, I hate to give it away, but both Renelvis and Buddy Castillo seem to think that he would..."sing forever to win the war on terrorism!" Brilliant E-COUSINS, aren't they? Not only that, but they also decided to incorporate a rapping intro on the second track "Elvis Still Number One" which segways (incredibly) into a jumble of hit songs dropped into the lyrics. "Elvis Is Alive" is another great slow jam in which someone forgot to turn down the attempted Beatle-esque backup singers in the mix. it doesn't seem to help much as someone whispers mysteriously "Elvissss.....isss...aliiiiivvve...!"

Well, if you haven't already hit the download link by now, then I question why you would even lurk on this site.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sympathy For The Big Legends:

Japan's kings of boozy biker blues sludge rock GEDO are presented here on a double live volume set from 1974 called KYONETSU NO MACHIDA POLICE. GEDO was well known as being a strong band that played the hell out of festivals all over Japan back in the 60's and 70's. While most bands of this era were concerned about enlightening the soul amidst growing political and social change, this particular group seemed more interested in the non-stop party. This is a gang who seemed to disregard most of the typical 60's hippy-drippy mystical stuff for a more meat & potatoes (or should I say "fish and rice") approach to rock and roll. It's all about losing your mind and having a good time with these guys.

The first disc starts off rather inexplicably with a spoken intro that lasts for over 8 minutes. Within this opening monologue there are jokes, band introductions, and a few bits that have been censored. Once the music finally begins, it's with a melancholy folky tune. The balladry continues for 5 songs. Then after a short interlude (which one assumes the band are plugging in and turning up) they launch into a primitive groove that features all the good elements of Grand Funk Railroad, Sabbath, and The Rolling Stones. Although there are some tendencies to lay on the jams here, GEDO rarely crosses the line into psychedelic material (although some cuts on disc two see the band flying their freak flag a little bit); choosing rather to stick close to the basic rock and roll template...keeping it loud, proud. Good times all around, then!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Artsy Astronauts:

Trip Shakespeare, a long defunct Minneapolis-based American rock band was granted a permanent place in the early bunkers of my musical memory due to hearing their strange "Tool Master of Brainard" song repeatedly on the college radio station that I tuned into late at night. What a great song, full of glammed up guitars, a pounding rhythm section, and that unique Trip Shakespeare vocal approach that fused baroque harmonies with a decidedly goofy slant. I already posted that album back over here (oops-link is dead now. I'll repost if there is a request), so now it's time to get into their 1990 platter Across The Universe. This album carries the same trademark sounds that I have loved from this group, but this time the song craft has been sharpened a bit; revealing a bit more layered approach both in production and composition. The jangly songs are played harder, the sweet songs are sweeter, and the goofy element certainly comes into play on tracks like "The Nail" and "The Slacks" (whose lyric concept is so ridiculous that it boggles my mind that it was even recorded in a semi-serious manner). Personally, I find the more tuneful songs here to be most potent. Both "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Late" are pristine examples of T.S.'s literary take on lyric writing and compelling and somewhat mysterious storytelling that grab the imagination while the sheer hook of the tune just drives the song deeper into the brain.

As I wrote in the previous post of this Trip Shakespeare, their music seemed to have it's own singular vision which I have never heard duplicated. Sure, the basic template is a big pop sound... T- Rex, XTC, Big Star, Posies are names that may come to mind; maybe even a little bit of Cheap trick in there. But in place of cool rockers playing this stuff, imagine the local college Poetry Club or Paisley Appreciation Society jamming it out. Yeah...corny, for sure; but a lot of fun.

Manic Spanic:

With a barrage of fast picking razor sharp melodic guitar lines, the father and son team of the Spanic Boys (Tom and Ian, respectively) seemed to have made a dent in some alternative music circles in the late 80's. I recall reading glowing reviews as a youngster in various magazines. Listening to these 12 tracks, the boy's reverential mastery of old Rockabilly is evident; as is their talent for double-lead vocal harmonies, and a clear concise approach to writing hook-laden songs!
I listened to this quite a bit this Summer and tracks like the rollicking "Too Bad, So Sad" and the minimal gallop of "Lonely Man" just seemed to make my drives pleasant as hell.

Great Scots!

To announce my return from holiday in a rather festive style, here comes APB! Those of you who may have been alive and kicking in the mid 80's music scene in upstate New York may have been keen on this Scottish trio who seemed to have developed a good following in that particular region due to some key DJ's granting praise and support. And support and praise where due; because this forgotten album rules with it's sparse, skeletal funk arrangement, jagged guitar lines, and a healthy dose of New Wave danceability, APB simply seemed to push all the right buttons in this game. Shame that they were never really the big deal in global popularity seeing as just about every one of these numbers on this re-released 20th anniversary edition of their Something To Believe In record absolutely kills. Think the musical muscle of Boys Don't Cry era The Cure, Franz Ferdinand, or a less political Gang Of Four; mix in the discriminating songwriting power of early U2 or Talk Talk and you've got yourself a great record brimming with an urgent manic energy yet classy enough to hold it together with style.