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Archive for October, 2005


Posted: October 31st, 2005, by Graeme Williams

This band’s name begs the obvious question of what exactly is the most terrifying thing. Is it that a band who claim Slayer and the Gang Of Four as influences can come up with the turgid alt-rock displayed on this single? Or is it rather that these guys appear to have serious aspirations for their music? Or further yet, is it that they appear to get radio play? Such potshots based only around this band’s name are, of course, all too easy and certainly below this reviewer (besides, we all know that nothing is more terrifying than being buried alive). It remains, however, that this reminds me of mid-90s alternative rock. By that, I don’t mean the bands that came from the underground and somehow managed to attain commerical success–Nirvana and Sonic Youth immediately spring to mind–but rather the tripe we were subjected to when the A&R vultures kept on picking at the carcass and brought us bands destined for the cut out bin such as Collective Soul. To their credit, The Most Terrifying Thing have a post-hardcore/emo sound going on, at least with the guitars, that saves this from being essentially cock rock leftovers, but that isn’t nearly enough to prevent this from being middling “disaffected yet sensitive” white boy rubbish. I never thought that I would be thankful for the state of modern commercial music, but in a climate where post-punk styled bands sell a lot of records, The Most Terrifying Thing don’t stand a chance, and that’s fine by me.

The Most Terrifying Thing

EARLY MAN – s/t (Monitor)

Posted: October 31st, 2005, by Graeme Williams

With a forthcoming full length on Matador and having already played All Tomorrow’s Parties with only this release, their three song demo given a proper release by Monitor, New York City’s Early Man are primed for stardom, at least by modest indie standards. From song titles like “Fight”, “Death Is The Answer To My Prayers”, and “The Undertaker Is Calling You”, to the inverted pentagram formed from pointy guitars adorning the CD, and musical reference points such as early Metallica and Black Sabbath, everything about this release is loudly shouting “METAL”. The problem is that Early Man are rarely convincing in their quest. They are far too sluggish and lack the attitude to pull off even mediocre thrash, and when, on the middle track of this EP, they make a foray into Sabbathy territory, they don’t have the riffs or the groove to be able to pay a proper homage to the dark altar of high priests Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, and Ward. The most compelling part of these three songs comes near the end of the second song when Early Man change from insipid Sabbath worship to melodic hard rock somewhat reminiscent of Thin Lizzy. Given that this is only their demo, I am giving Early Man the benefit of the doubt; they simply haven’t yet found their sound and, in my opinion, would be much better off if they dropped the metal pretense. Given their early successes, they have a lot to prove on their Matador debut.

Early Man
Monitor Records

THE UNIT AMA – Derby Bar Vida 25/10/05

Posted: October 26th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Young man, early 20s, goes to see semi-popular American touring band. Said band offer up partly improvised music: noisy, rhythmical and a total assault on the senses. Two of the members of the band are dressed as koi carp.
This is officially a


and is





In fact, it’s almost too much to take on board. So our man doesn’t take it all on board. In fact he only takes the surface in at all. The equipment, the sounds and the omnipresent bullshit gimmicks that the Yanks keep laying on our asses EVERY FUCKING TIME. He adds this up and comes to the conclusion this band are speaking vitally to him and about him and the human condition he empathises with because that is, after all, what liking a band is about -understanding them and feeling they understand you – right?

Our young man places an advert on the modern internet. It says


It talks about noise, freedom, Voivod, Wolf Eyes and the burgeoning London Grime scene (because our man is open to all culture – he’s no narrow minded punk rocker no way no how).
He finds a bunch of other like minded souls. They form a band called


and they garner between 3 and 4 hundred friends on the Myspace. They book their first show before they’ve even rehearsed and lots of people have bright pink badges on their coats, shirts and knapsacks with the image of an erect penis on it. The words COLLISION! PANTHER! NOW! are arcing out of the wee hole.

They finally get their shit together to rehearse a couple of days before their first show, at Bardens in Stoke Newington, opening for


from Rhode Island.

No one really knows what to play at the rehearsal. They realise that in fact they have 4 guitarists and nothing else. But it’s cool, they have some little mini mixers and some contact mics and before you know it they’re all strapping mics to their ball bags and screaming into Electro Harmonix filter pedals that have gaffa tape over the logo that reads


They do this for about 20 mins and it doesn’t seem enough. One of the guys suggests they dress up and you know what? They’ve all seen bands do that too and it’s been






so they all go and buy matching orange tie dye leggings and hotpants and sort of crazy turban styled headgear they make from towelling nappies. They are ready.

ULTIMATE / (HORSE) DESTRUCTION? : ! are quite a draw and by the time of COLLISION! PANTHER! NOW!’s entry into the live arena there is a large crowd. COLLISION! PANTHER! NOW! take the stage by force and whip up severe terror on the crowd who are by and large loving it. They kind of peter out after 10 mins or so but one of the guys runs into the crowd brandishing his guitar like some kind of bayonet device, spilling pints wherever he goes but you know, fuck it, this is the NOW, dude and you have to live with it. If COLLISION! PANTHER! NOW! are too


for you then go to your stupid rock gig – loser!

No one really knows when the set is over, least of all the band members until the guy playing the white Fender Jaguar that his Mum and Dad bought him throws it face down onto the floor and the band run off, their towelling headgear falling off and onto the floor as they dash into the toilets. It is a wild success. Afterwards a guy who runs an internet webzine called MASSIVE MEAT SNAKE who is reviewing the gig asks our young guy what influences COLLISION! PANTHER! NOW!’s sound.

“Oh, you know, free noise, improv, danger, love, death, John Cage, Steve Reich, hip hop” they answer.

A girl called FLAPJACK speaks to the band about putting a CDR out packaged in a sanitary towel on her label simply called


It is time for ULTIMATE / (HORSE) DESTRUCTION? : ! to play and they blow everyone else’s shit out of the water. Everyone had heard this band is crazy but man, no one said they’d play in a paddling pool! Damn right!


filled with water in which the drummer (who only plays 8 sets of hi hats), the bassist (playing an amplified cycle tyre) and the guitarist (who plays his 19 string guitar with a floret of broccoli) writhe around in while the singer pulls chunks of offal out of his pants and throws them into the crowd who are delighted to find the offal is contact mic’d and running through a filter bank.
By the time the set finishes lots of people have thrown caution to the wind and are in the paddling pool too. A series of rabid online photo bloggers are snapping the action on digital cameras in the hope that someone’s nipple falls out of their dress. People are really


Somewhere in the crowd, another young man is trying to take it all in. He decides to form a band, inspired by the events and the way they spoke to him. He understood them and they understood him. Even though no words were sung, shouted or spoken he feels the bands got through to him though he isn’t sure exactly what was said. It’s more of a feeling right?
The next day on his internet blog called


he reviews the gig and marvels at the freedom displayed, the choice of amazing sounds, the forward thinking, the improvised nature, the wonder, the revolutionary approach.

Later in the week he also reviews a show by The Unit Ama and he says they are

“boring math rock played by old men”.

Things I Learned This Weekend

Posted: October 24th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

– One of Findo Gask also plays in Otterley who were great on Friday – noisy bip-bop pop with nicely fragile vocals.
– Park Attack are amazing, especially their drummer.
– The band that Errors remind me of are – gasp! – Sunnyvale!
– I still get panicky in crowds of tall people but why should I have to go stand at the back just because you’re too inconsiderate to look behind you when you push in to stand with your mates at the front? Gah.
– I am a total sucker for Rocket Dog shoes, particularly if they involve brown suede, velcro and dragons. DRAGONS! They totally saw me coming and now I am triple skint.
– If you get 13 noise bands to play in one day (at the Glasgow Implodes! alldayer) they will all be guys wearing black, except me.
– Even after Instal there are still ways of making noise that can surprise me. I especially liked the guy with about 50 pedals on a table, and a crushed coke can. And the guy who brought the biggest amps evah and knelt right in front of them playing ear-splitting drones. You’ll ruin your hearing, young man.
– You can wear legwarmers onstage and no-one will laugh at you
– Everyone else at diskant is dead, again

Findo Gask

Posted: October 20th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

We played a gig last night with Findo Gask who were tremendous – well-dressed young men playing electro-dreampop. Lots of chiming but nicely dirty guitar, swooping fragile vocals and some awesomely great drumming. They reminded me very much of the Electro Group whose album I still dig out regularly. They sound a little less dreamy and a little more rocky on their MP3s but that’s in no way a bad thing. I look forward to records.

I have never gone onstage at 1am before but it was surprisingly good (next morning booked off work rather key though) and there was a great atmosphere and some brilliant records being played, so much so that I stayed out til 3am and walked home in giddy abandon. I’m glad I am getting over my fear of clubs but disappointed for the second time that no-one will dance to the Yummy Fur with me. I hate you all.

Broken Flowers

Posted: October 19th, 2005, by Alex McChesney

On at least three occasions in Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers, Bill Murray sits and stares into space. The camera stares at him, unmoving. He stares back. Nothing happens, but somehow that stare tells you more about the character than a dozen pages of exposition-heavy dialog would in the hands of a lesser film-maker. Tiny details, both of character and individual shots, make this a film genuinely worth seeing more than once.

Murray plays Don Johnston (with a ‘T’), an ageing lothario who, shortly after yet another girlfriend walks out on him, receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous former lover informing him that he has an 18 year old son. Despite being outwardly uncaring, it doesn’t take much prompting from his dope-smoking amateur-sleuth neighbour Winston (the excellent and underrated Jeffrey Wright) to set him on a trip across the US to track down his old flames and find out if it’s really true.

It’s probably the most accessibly comedic film in Jarmusch’s canon, and runs the gamut from fairly broad laughs (the outrageously flirtatious teenage daughter of one of Johnston’s exes) to more subtle humour (watch out for Winston almost-but-not-quite picking up the bill for lunch), but it’s shot through with melancholy. Murray’s character may seem like a reprise of Bob Harris from Lost In Translation, and indeed there’s much similarity between the two films – both are gently paced tales about lonely people trying to find something to anchor them in a world in which they can participate but never feel at peace in – but Broken Flowers is far less optimistic than that movie. Early belly-laughs give way to a growing sadness as Don’s journey increasingly echoes each and every one of his failed relationships; joyful in the beginning, giving way to familiarity, coldness and anger, until all that’s left is a memory of something that was once beautiful. The search for his son becomes a quest to find something permanent in his life before it’s too late.

If you’re one of those individuals who found Lost in Translation to be duller than a bread sandwich, or who can’t stomach Murray’s laconic-loner schtick, Broken Flowers won’t be for you. For which I’m deeply sorry. Everyone else should give it a try.

Official site
IMDB entry

Instal 05 – Day 3

Posted: October 17th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

This was Quiet Day and we needed it after Hijokaidan, especially with the sun shining outside. I had to tear myself away from my usual Sunday walk and head into the bowels of the Arches once more but I was suitably rewarded.

A collaboration between percussionist Zach and harpist Davies, this was perfect Sunday afternoon fare. Ingar Zach had the air of an inquisitive garden shed inventor picking up various objects and trying them out on his drum kit. Electric fans, metal chains and ping pong balls (hopefully purloined from Sun City Girls) were a few of the things used to create fluttering, pattering, juddering rhythms. In perfect accord Rhodri Davies pulled out extended drones and short plucks of sound from his harp using various bits and pieces of his own.

This was a delight from start to finish – beautiful, intricate guitar interplay between the two with an array of pedals to tweak the sound and noisier bursts of feedback to stop you from quite drifting off. There was an attentive hush in the room and only the discomfort of the floor made me want them to stop. Quite lovely.

Looks like Jandek had been reading my post about Friday and this time we did get a stripped down set with just Loren Mazzacone Connors on guitar and Jandek’s mournful poetics. It was really quite affecting especially when the words were interspersed with interludes of sighing harmonica with the lights slowly changing between the two. The second half of the set saw Jandek take to the drums along with Alan Licht on guitar and (so Alex says, I wouldn’t know) Heather from Taurpis Tula on pedal steel. Jandek’s booming simple drumming was wonderful and this was surrounded by swathes of noise and Heather’s primal wail which grew to be one of the most impressively soul-destroying things I’ve heard in my life, gnawing away at my soul and filling my heart with nightmares. After about 20 minutes the intensity of this was almost too much to bear. Afterwards we emerged blinking and stupified and I sat in a befuddled daze with StewBeard for half an hour while we talked disjointedly and tried to shake off the sound and effect of that voice. By that point I had pretty much lost it.

But that’s the great thing about Instal, hearing things you might never dream of listening to in your own home and can never play loudly enough for full appreciation. Sure, I found myself scrabbling for pop music as soon as I left the building to restore some kind of equilibrium but it’s an honour to be able to challenge my ears in this way and see the many ways people can create new and inspiring sounds.

From the strangest and simplest means. Long may Instal continue.

Instal 05 – Day 02

Posted: October 16th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

There’s something a bit sick about enjoying this kind of stuff so much. I’m sat uncomfortably on the floor with my hand going numb and enveloped in densely layered treated noise at ear damaging volumes. It’s clearly not sensible and yet I’m stupidly happy. Just one guy and a table full of electronic doohickeys to warp and subvert the distorted drones but he’s creating enough noise to fill The Arches and probably push out some of the oxygen as well. I came to from my reverie at one point to realise some awesome thudding drums had appeared which quickly brought everything together to a fevered climax. My favourite set so far and short enough to feel like there wasn’t a second wasted.

Arriving onstage disguised by masks and costume brandishing chairs Sun City Girls were somewhere between performance art and theatre. Spoken word pieces, odd percussion and general gibberish were slightly overshadowed by lion taming, book reading and a round of golf with ping pong balls. While generally entertaining it was often incomprehensible nonsense. As the crowd thinned later I discovered they had ditched their costumes and when they broke into some straight-up folk songs it was as if the first part of the set had been merely a figment of my deranged imagination.

Think of the most intensely exciting, idiotically loud 30 second pinnacle of live music you’ve ever experienced. Hijokaidan just start at that point and continue it for 40 minutes. They just ignore all the build-up, the winning over the audience and just get straight in there like a kick in the face, throw themselves and their instruments about in euphoric abandon and demand your fervour like they’ve been thrilling you for an hour instead of 2 minutes. And, hell, did they get it. Half the audience were on their feet punching the air and going nuts. The other half were getting the hell out of there before they damaged their hearing permanently. This was squalling, screaming madness and I loved it.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Instal 05 – Day 01

Posted: October 15th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

I’ve missed Instal. My first time back since 2002 and really nothing’s changed. More seats thankfully although it really doesn’t seem like Instal if I don’t spend half the day sitting on the concrete floor contemplating my shoes and gazing happily at the brickwork and metal while trains rumble overhead and noise rumbles through me. I don’t have the stamina to see or write about everything on this weekend but I will collect my thoughts as I go and post some of them here. (Also, massive thanks to Barry for getting me in).

I spent most of Jandek’s set hovering up and down the fun scale, unsure of whether I was enjoying this and, maybe less importantly, whether it was good. Though, whenever I decided it was tedious tosh (about 5 separate occasions in over an hour) he always managed to do something to bring it back and make me re-assess. I liked things in isolation – Jandek’s mournful lamenting, his intuitive guitar playing, the gorgeous echoing bass – but rarely thought they worked all together, wavering between unstructured and cluttered. I think I’d like it better stripped down to bass and vocals.

Simply one guy and a guitar making a racket. At times fighting with his guitar, at other times cradling it, this ordinary looking guy whipped up some awesome sounds – waves of feedback punctuated by bursts of noise, whispers and screams. I’m looking forward to seeing him with Hijokaiden today.

This was sheer spectacle, the stage beautifully lit with clear colours lighting up the fog of dry ice through which you could glimpse the silhouettes of 2 men with guitars. They built up their piece from quiet doom to full on apocalyptic terror and it was mesmerising. The guitar onslaught was interspersed by minimal, powerful percussion leading to me trying to make the case for them as the anti-Low. By the climax, god knows how many minutes or hours later, it was like sitting in a wind tunnel of noise with my clothes flapping and the slow creep of deafness threatening my ears. At the end they did devil horns to the crowd and then had a big hug. Aw.

Day 2
Day 3

THE STOOGES – Hammersmith Odeon 30/8/05

Posted: October 10th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

(Please note I am not calling this IGGY POP & THE STOOGES at the CARLING APOLLO)

I had a discussion last night coming back from Leeds about the validity of these Don’t Look Back shows. I’ve never made a record that anyone called a “classic” so I don’t know for sure how I would feel if someone asked me to play something I made in the past in its entirety. I think I might ask myself what was wrong with my current output. Surely it’s just like saying
“What you do now sucks so play what we like”.
Maybe it flatters a performers ego enough to be part of it? It makes me feel weird that’s all I know. Mudhoney (by their own admission) never made a good record until Tomorrow Hit Today. I wonder how they feel about playing Superfuzz Bigmuff? Or more precisely I wonder how they feel about pulling more people in for that than their normal shows? It’s a good idea don’t get me wrong. The average music fan who was a drunken teenager when Touch Me I’m Sick hit is probably earning enough in 2005 to have enough disposable income to be able to afford to relive their youth. But it seems like the nail in the coffin for a band to have to go backwards like this. To look back. The Blues Explosion’s Orange is by far my favourite record in their back catalogue. If I went to see them and they played every song off it I’d be beside myself but paying to see them do it (guaranteed) is a little like admitting what I already know and I don’t WANT to write them off. I want the next JSBX record to be killer because I am a fan. I wanted the last Mudhoney record to be killer and it WAS but there they are doing something nearly 20 years old. And the best Dinosaur show I ever saw was J Mascis & The Fog! There’s plenty of proof that these artists are making the best music of their lives but unfortunately the money is in nostalgia right now. But I do concede at least You’re Living All Over Me or Superfuzz could be considered classic albums but Cat Power’s Covers Record? Mum? Ocean Songs? Hmmm.

So anyway, never one to not be a hypocritical cocksucker, I took my 30 quid and bought a ticket for the Stooges.

I figure The Stooges is different. Mainly because Funhouse really is a classic record. And also because the Asheton Brothers never really got their dues. And because (as far as I know) The Stooges only played once in the UK originally and since then it’s just been festivals too big to enjoy and too pricey to get into. And also because Mike Watt is on bass.
But still, I never expected it to be anything other than good entertainment. This is because I know, despite being the real wild child etc etc, Iggy Pop would do anything for a tenner and any decision to reunite with the Ashetons (of whom he stated “they couldn’t put together a home aquarium”) is surely motivated by the payout. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not paying £30 to sneer, I just had a pre determined limit to how much I thought this gig was going to affect me.

Which makes me CAPTAIN FUCKING CHUMPY as this was probably the best gig I have witnessed.

No shit.

They take the stage guerrilla style, super quick and with no fanfare and blast into Down On The Street and the sound is just mindblowing. God knows how long they soundchecked for but it’s like Ron and Watt’s amps are strapped to your head. For a bunch of old guys this is shockingly, urgently loud and heavy. OK, it looks like Scott Asheton died in 1987 and has been brought back to life by Jim Henson’s puppet workshop but fuck it, the man is on form. They are tight as hell. Iggy leaps onto Watts cabs early on in Loose and the tasteful surroundings of the Odeon shake. As Iggy hits the
on the start of TV Eye, it’s like Ron Asheton’s entire life has built up to the moment where every person in the Odeon just waits for the riff to TV Eye and he obliges and it smacks everyone louder and harder than we could have ever dreamed. I admit it, I cried. I was just overwhelmed. That song is the most amazing , full-on beast in the rock cannon – anyone’s cannon. I have tried this song in every band I have ever played in, I have seen The Fog play it (brilliantly), I have seen The Stooges Project play it, I’ve seen Ron play it with J Mascis, I’ve seen Iggy play it on TV with some lame ass poodle rock backing band. Hell, I’m playing in a Stooges tribute band at Christmas JUST so I can play TV Eye through a massive amp stack but nothing’s going to top seeing the Stooges play it at the Odeon. Not even Mark Arm singing Kick Out The Jams with the MC5 (or MC3 as it was). Or Sabbath doing Into The Void at the Birmingham Hummingbird. I stood there and let myself recover from the riff before making an educated decision to go fucking apeshit like a 12 year old girl at a Robbie Williams concert. My gig partner Ian Scanlon had already been in the pit from the start and I’d seen his grinning head surface about 3 times so I decided to head in after him. I don’t like moshing or crowd surfing or pits but if they were all this gleeful I might change my mind.
1970 and Dirt pass in light speed and I have one of those wonderful moments of clarity where I realise that this really is a great gig and I’m in the middle of it. Steve Mackay comes on for Funhouse to blast sax (at stupid volume I might add) and by now I have been wormed to the front and Watt’s rig is blasting my face off. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I keep having these bizarre realisations that the guy leaning over screaming in my face is IGGY FUCKING POP. As if to confirm this he shouts


between songs in case we had forgotten.

They segue into LA Blues like it was supposed to be on the record and whip up a shitstorm. At this point we’re only about 35 mins in and everyone is completely freaking out. Earlier on I swear we were standing next to Eric Clapton. If it was him I like to think that, at the point where Mackay and Ron Asheton battle the high notes at extreme volume while Iggy mounts the PA stack and dives in the crowd, old Slowhand made the decision to retire.
I would have gone home happy there but they rip into Skull Ring from Iggy’s new record and it’s beefy and in keeping and a damn convincing argument that if there’s one classic band that could make a new record it’s not The Pixies.
We get more than we could ask for in the majority of the first album too. For No Fun Iggy instigates a very controlled stage invasion but Watt still takes a tumble and gets up laughing as people mob him to kiss him as he plays. The receptionist dude from I’m Alan Partridge winds up with his arm around Iggy trying to take a pic on his phone as the rest of us in the crowd pelt him with beer cups and Iggy tries to worm his way loose. I Wanna Be Your Dog brings about a mass bonding experience and the weirdly friendly-yet-nuts moshpit erupts as Iggy goes in again. Even the Ashetons are grinning.
2 encores and Iggy comes back out. I think he would have played the whole thing again if they’d let him. The final encore consists of a victorious Iggy introducing the band – “The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world – Ron Asheton” being the one to raise the biggest cheer.
The highlight for me was the last person to be introduced. Old Watt stands back respectfully apart as Iggy introduces the Stooges and turns to leave as Iggy finally introduces himself. Iggy grabs his arm and proudly marches him to the front of the stage with his arm aloft and introduces him as
“From San Pedro, the Minuteman – Mike Watt”
to the biggest cheer of the evening and Watt looks on the verge of tears as Iggy gives him the spotlight as a genuine Stooge.
It was Watt and Mascis that brought the Ashetons back in the limelight and made a platform for this reunion and it’s so apt that a man so unfussy and humble as Watt (and not David Bowie for example) should be the one responsible for bringing someone like Iggy Pop what has to be his finest moment to date. It feels like a victory for the normal guy. As a Minuteman fan I feel part of it somehow, which I guess is the point of the Minutemen, even now, watching The Stooges.

Me and Ian sit on the train back to Sutton, piss drenched in sweat and yelling at each other over the insane whistling in our ears. We are two miserable old men but for that one evening I don’t think I could have been happier.