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SHIT AND SHINE – Jealous of Shit and Shine (Riot Season)

Posted: November 9th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

After listening to this album by the London bass and drums duo Shit and Shine (think Merzbeat, not Lightning Bolt) a few times, I can say the following about it: Jealous of Shit and Shine contains a one-riff, thirty minute long cover version of “Practicing To Be A Doctor” by the Strangulated Beatoffs.Sure, this is obvious to anyone looking at the track listing on the CD, but this fact alone tells you pretty much all you need to know about what you’re about to hear. About ten minutes into that song I wanted it to be over; by the end of it, I thought it ended too soon. There’s a fuckedness here that only rarely makes it to record.It makes me think of the VU on “Sister Ray”, the band barely managing to keep it together but the song working precisely because of this, or perhaps the sheer pill-induced audacity of Dylan Carson and Dave Harwell letting a single chord ring out for half an hour at the end of Earth 2, or maybe the monotonous riffery of Skullflower’s Exquisite Fucking Boredom. Not that Shit and Shine sound like any of these bands, but they share the same mentality as them.It’s sloppy, it’s dirty, it’s probably completely unlistenable to most sane people, it certainly doesn’t belong in polite society, but somehow, buried somewhere deep within there, there is the pure essence of rock n roll in all its retarded glory.


TIM HECKER – Harmony in Ultraviolet (Kranky)

Posted: October 27th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

I once had a Wagon Christ EP that had a song called “Pretty Crap” on it. The title was not a joke: the song was lovely with lush pads and beats and what not, but despite the self-awareness, it was rather shit. The same can be said for a lot of ambient electronic music. The genre brings to mind images of ravers, MDMA, “chill out rooms”, and pleasant but entirely vacuous aural wallpaper made from Korg presets. Not my scene.

Enter Tim Hecker’s new album, Harmony in Ultraviolet. Tim Hecker (not to be confused with the Mego artist Hecker) is a Canadian electronic musician doing things with guitars and computers that inevitably draws comparisons to Christian Fennesz, even though the two of them are exploring very different aesthetics. Tim Hecker, from his deconstruction of Van Halen in My Love Is Rotten To The Core to the “ambient death metal” of 2004’s Mirages, to his shows and tours with Isis, is working far more at the very outer limits of rock. And I do mean the very outer limits. There are the last vestiges of rock music here, with heavily distorted and computer processed guitar riffing throughout, and occasional bits of percussion buried deep in the mix. This is rock music in the same way that Earth or Sunn0))) are rock music. And yet, with its glitches, clicks, organ drones, and gentle melodies giving a pleasant sense of drift, the album can quite easily be situated in the much-maligned ambient genre. It’s really pretty, yet the fields of static, distortion and sub bass rumble that Hecker’s sonic structures are built on save it from being insipid. I could throw out more comparisons, such as how “Chimeras” brings to mind Philip Glass’s Koyaanitqatsi soundtrack or that “Dungeoneering” seems to take Steve Reich as an influence, but this misses how unique Harmony In Ultraviolet sounds. There’s a staggering amount of influences here, but it all blends and flows together seamlessly.

I give this my highest possible recommendation.

Tim Hecker

iTunes copy protection has been cracked, the BBC reports

Posted: October 25th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

Story here.

“All music sold through iTunes uses the FairPlay system that restricts the use of the downloads. Purchased music can only be moved between five computers and played on an Apple iPod.

Downloads cannot be transferred to players made by other manufacturers, such as Creative or Sony.

The new “workaround” could help companies like these sell iTunes compatible products that could start to scratch away at the iPod’s dominance.”

NEWAGEHILLBILLY – IV: White Walls (MT6 Records)

Posted: September 28th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

While working in a bookstore, I learned that despite what the cliche says, you can, by and large, indeed judge a book by its cover. It’s not an infallible rule, but it does act reasonably well as a way to filter out crap. And so I approached IV: White Walls with some trepidation, as neither the band name nor the album’s artwork inspired much confidence. Thankfully, I was wrong about this and IV: White Walls turned out to be pretty decent.

Newagehillbilly is the alter-ego of Baltimore’s Alex Strama, a self-described “one-generator of noise, grooves, and moods”. The buzzing, spaced-out electronics of some tracks remind me of LSD-era Coil, while other songs go for a more straight forward heavy/stoner rock feel. There’s a bit of dark electro-pop and even a track that has a Gong/Hawkwind/AMT feel to it.

As you’d probably expect from something so stylistically diverse, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Personally, I think that his electronic tracks are better than his rock tracks (with the exception of “Ghost”), though that may be in part my aesthetic preference. He sounds like he’d be a lot of fun to watch live.


V/A – Total Gaylord Records presents: Cwistmas Twee (Total Gaylord Records)

Posted: September 28th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

So if my maths aren’t complete shit, there are a mere 89 shopping days left until Christmas. That means that it’s probably time to finally review Cwistmas Twee on the aptly-named Total Gaylord Records. The songs on this compilation range from multiculturalist liberal rubbish from Colin Clary (“Meow, Meow/If you don’t believe in Christmas/I still respect your holiday/I still respect your holiday”) to flat-out lies (According to The Specific Heats, “Girls look cuter in winter clothes”, when everyone who has endured hard winters knows that they look a lot cuter when they start wearing sun dresses after the spring melt) to self-pitying nonsense (for instance, “If I get buried by this winter/Who will ever know” from the Snoozer song). The other contributors include The Icicles, Spoilsport, The Lil’ Hospital, Shumai, The Smittens, The Sheets, The Diskettes, and Thee Moths, and it’s largely sentimental jangly indie tripe about snow, rosy cheeks, parkas, snow forts, and so on. Personally, I’m sticking with The Fall’s version of “Jingle Bell Rock”.



Posted: September 27th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

First record you bought and do you still own it?

I believe it was The Empire of the Sun soundtrack LP. I couldn’t tell you why. I’m sure it’s sitting in a box somewhere at my parents’ house.

Last record you bought

The double CD reissue of Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.

Last song you downloaded

I couldn’t tell you, as I don’t really download music. I did, however, copy Psapp’s cover of “Everybody Wants To Be A Cat” recently.

Last song/record you went to enormous lengths to find

The World of Need, Land of Greed compilation LP that Trustkill put out sometime in the mid-90s. It was a bunch of hardcore bands doing covers of Embrace songs, I think to benefit a charity. I wanted it for the Sparkmarker song on there–this was before I knew who Embrace were–but I passed it up when they were selling it at a show, and I didn’t see it again until probably close to five years later at Crosstown Music in downtown Vancouver. I bought it. The record isn’t very good, but it was a satisfying purchase.

A few months ago, I scoured ebay for a copy of Patti Smith’s Piss Factory/Hey Joe 7″ with the Mapplethorpe cover, but using ebay for record collecting is cheating.

Most elaborately packaged record you own

The Roswell Project 7″ on Bacteria Sour. Not a very good band or record, but worth owning for the packaging. For the Pushead nerds out there, I have the green cover version with the file folder.

Last song you listened to

Cerulean Transience Of All My Imagined Shores by Disembowelment.

Favourite mixtape someone made you that you still listen to

I don’t have a cassette player anymore.

What records are you going to buy next?

I haven’t thought about it. Since I’m in a 1990s nostalgia phase this week, probably some Superchunk or Dinosaur Jr or something along those lines.

What are your top 10 most listened to songs on iTunes/last.fm/whatever

From my work itunes (in descending order):

Lisa Loeb – Stay
Kids – This is Rock n’ Roll
Descendents – Bikeage
Patti Smith – Pissing in a River
Three Mile Pilot – On A Ship To Bangladesh
Descendents – Hope
Flying Saucer Attack – For Silence
Articles of Faith – Hollow Eyes
Descendents – Catalina
Descendents – Jean Is Dead




I’m trying not to be as negative anymore, so I’m not going to answer this.

ANTHONY SAUNDERS – Ikh Khoring CDR (Troniks)

Posted: February 16th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

Noise is too often a lowest common denominator game with far too many charlatans armed with effects pedals, circuit bent electronics, and ring modulators thinking that their racket is somehow worth listening to, or worse, is challenging, when it’s really just lazy. Thankfully ‘noise’ is a broad umbrella and for all the fifth rate would-be Throbbing Gristles out there, there are sometimes gems. New Jersey’s Anthony Saunders is one of them. Ikh Khoring is three long tracks on the more ambient spectrum of things.

The CD begins with a long track that starts with a dark droning background overlaid with electronic chirpings and twitterings and is reminiscent simultaneously of the microsound glitch of Tetsuo Inoue and the electroacoustic compositions of Louis Dufort. The piece becomes denser and more frantic before gradually fading into a subterranean drone again overlaid with skittering electronic noises. The second track continues much in the same vein, bringing to mind subway tunnels populated by fragile but menacing digital structures, becoming something that sounds like cricket noises. This leads nicely into the third track, which leaves behind these nightmarish soundscapes for mammoth gently oscillating drones. It’s rather soothing.

It’s obvious that a lot of thought and work went into Ikh Khoring and it is a richly textured and evocative work, bringing to mind a lot of nightmarish subterranean images. Highly recommended.

Anthony Saunders


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

"Ninjalicious" from Infiltration zine passes away

Posted: August 26th, 2005, by Graeme Williams

The creator and founder of Infiltration zine and website, Ninjalicious, has passed away. According to the site:

It is with unexplainable sadness that we announce that Ninjalicious, the founder of this website, and the print zine Infiltration, passed away on Tuesday, August 23, 2005. He had been battling – valiantly, and with optimism, gentleness and a zest for living – terminal illness for several months. Ninj, while far too humble to have ever thought of himself this way, can essentially be credited with founding much of the modern day urban exploration subculture. Many kind people are remembering him here (Thanks, Av.) Rest assured that the website will continue to be maintained in his memory. He has opened so many eyes so wide… it’s the least we can do to carry on his legacy.

He will be missed so very much.

For those not familiar with Infiltration, it was a zine, and later a website, dedicated to urban exploration–exploring buildings and areas not usually accessible to the public: drains, tunnels, abandoned sites, hospitals, and more. Infiltration was perhaps the best known zine and website dealing with urban exploration and its excellent writing and photographs were always a fascinating and inspiring read. I know that the zine was influential to me, and I’m sure that many other readers felt the same way.