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diskant rewind: Mild Head Injury #9

Posted: September 23rd, 2008, by Simon Minter

(Originally posted July 2002)

Mild Head Injury by Simon Minter

It’s a real American sitcom thing to start a sentence with ‘So,’ don’t you think? As in ‘So, I was in the coffee shop and that girl I like spilt her mochachino all over my Danish’ and all that. I prefer using ‘Anyway,’ as in ‘Anyway, I went blind momentarily and ended up in the dock on a handling stolen goods charge!’. The intricacies of our fair language, eh?

So anyway, I saw SONIC YOUTH play live the other night and woooo I was excited about the prospect. They’ve been my #1 favourite band (if it’s not too teenage to have a favourite band) for over ten years now, and I only ever saw them play live once before, when they performed a Birmingham date of their ‘Goo’ tour for my acid-addled brain. It’s a bit strange how I felt about it this time, though, as I travelled home afterwards – and it got me thinking about how I actually feel about them as a band. I’ve not bought ‘Murray Street’ yet, and I didn’t buy ‘NYC Ghosts and Flowers’ yet either, which must be some kind of insight into something or other. I used to rush out and buy everything I could get my hands on by them. I still do, in fact, quite happily shell out for rare bootleg live albums from ebay or vinyl versions of their albums I already own on CD. Maybe it’s something to do with the music I grew up with, or the number of times I’ve listened to some music, but I’m much more comfortable with ‘Sister’ or ‘Daydream Nation’ than their more recent LPs. I’m not saying I don’t like the recent LPs, it’s just that I seem to like the older ones (especially that mid-to-late-80s-phase) a whole lot more. This would lead you to think that perhaps I’d have been super-happy about the split of songs played at their recent live show being pretty much 50/50 old/new material. And I was, to a degree, but I kept thinking “why are they letting me off easily like this? shouldn’t they be forcing me to appreciate and experience their new music, rather than treating me to a fanboy’s set of ‘the classics’?” It’s an odd situation. While I hear that their ‘Goodbye 20th Century’-style show at ATP a couple of years ago was excruciating to the point of delerium, I think I’d still like to have been there, forcing myself to accept the challenge of listening to music I wouldn’t normally experience. Sonic Youth have this role as ‘musical pioneers’, and that’s what I always want them to be – never a greatest-hits-played-for-solely-Goo-owning-dullards band.

So anyway, phew! They rocked on, regardless. And I dug them severely. They even played ‘Making the nature scene’.

Moving on. Here’s a CD from Things In Herds which I have been listening to via the magic of Apple Mac CD Audio Player (as it won’t run on my ‘proper’ CD player. If you can call it ‘proper’. It’s more like a ‘proper’ salad spinner). It’s called ‘I can dancing and walking’ and has got ten songs on it. They seem to be going for that ‘quirky’ thing – strange album title, semi-childish pictures on the cover – and I don’t have too much of a problem with that, although the tracks which seem to be most along these quirky lines (‘Always disappear’, ‘Now we slide’ and ‘The people trap’) pale when compared to the rest of the album. Those three tracks are quite Flaming Lips-like in their use of odd sounds and clunky rhythms, but never seem to match the pure soul of the best Lips material (‘Transmissions from the satellite heart’ and ‘Clouds taste metallic’). It’s the other tracks which really stand out – the sound being stripped down more, often just to an acoustic guitar and voice – making me think of all kinds of nice things like Nick Drake, the excellent Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci album ‘The blue trees’, and Beck‘s more acoustic material (‘One foot in the grave’). They’ve got that whole fragile beauty thing going on, with carefully plucked folky melodies and a feeling of timeless wonder. Hurray!

What else do I got for you this time? Nothing too devastatingly new, I’m afraid, because of some self-inflicted-money-shortages which have severely curbed my record buying. I’ve been listening to the Troubleman Mix-Tape a lot lately, which if you haven’t heard of already is actually a double CD featuring (deep breath) Lightning Bolt, Burmese, Crash Smash Explode, The Red Scare, Rah Bras, Blonde Redhead, Crom-tech, Harriet the Spy, Red Monkey, The Hex, Petty Crime, !!!, Xbxrx, The Bad Form, Convocation of…, Melt-Banana, Song of Zarathustra, Flying Luttenbachers, Black Dice, The Fucking Champs, The Monorchid, The Crainium, The Intima, Sean Na Na w/ Lois, Lovesick, Sunshine, Secret Stars, Turn-Offs, Excelsior, Men’s Recovery Project, Pixeltan, Outhud, The Locust, Love Life, Glass Candy and the Shattered Theatre, The Lack, Radio 4, Sea Tiger, Currituck County, The Six Parts Seven, Unwound, Erase Errata, All-Scars, Kepler, Subtonix, Bride of No No, Touchdown, Total Shutdown and Pink & Brown. WHAT A LINE-UP! It’s like all your queries from reading a Punk Planet answered at once. Like all good compilations, this is wildly eclectic, ranging from freakout noise to mellow, er, noise, to punk rock, to funk shimmy music. And like all good compilations, there’s stuff on here I like and stuff I hate, but nothing I think is merely ‘okay’. It’s worth getting if only to introduce yourself to a filthy pile of new bands all at once. Most of us will have heard of some of the bands on these CDs, but I doubt that many won’t be discovering some new musical friends here.

!!! are on that CD, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been listening to their album a lot lately as well. It’s fucking great. They reckon they’re recreating the funk edge of the JBs or Chic with a bit of post-punk anger and angularity, but their songs make me think of early 80s bands like Josef K and Pigbag, all cheeky whiteboy funk and threatening, urgent hornblasts. Trying to describe them without using the word ‘funk’ is pretty hard, but ‘funk’ so often conjures up images of fretless 5-string basses and total cock-fucks with pony tails backing up obscure hasbeens on Jools Holland’s show. This is so much better than that – like, a hundred billion times better. These people sound like they’re angrily dancing out some of the best moves you ever saw, and they temper their War-style basslines with freaky echoed guitar noise and often-pissed-off-sounding vocals. The album pinnacles on the track ‘There’s no fucking rules, dude’, which is something of an epic mantra around the theme of ‘if you want to have friends, then don’t treat people like shit’. It’s entertaining AND educational. What an eye-opener.

OXES have a new LP out, by the way, but we’ll be going OXES-mad in the next issue of the diskant ZINE. It’s a great, great LP of course, with excellent sex & drugs artwork on the vinyl packaging. Bless their little black oxen hearts.

Finally, Bearos Records have released ‘Journeys without maps’, nothing less than a compilation CD tribute to The Lord Of The Rings. If that’s not a geeky enough premise for you, the CD comes with a selection of interchangeable covers so that if you can’t read runes, you can look at a cartoon Balrog instead, you NERD! There’s a good bunch of artists on here who all fall loosely into the (ugh) post-rock theme, albeit running the gamut from relaxing waves of sound (Dreams of Tall Buildings) to full-on ear-bleeding ten-minute-freeform-noise-assault (Lash Frenzy, featuring Kat Bjelland, don’t you know), but often settling on the abstract, sound-experiment side of things (Reavers, Dept Noise X Terror and more). It’s interesting to see The Telescopes on here, who I thought had disappeared years ago, but no! Now they sound like Kraftwerk! I also like Solway Fifth, who sound like My Bloody Valentine disco dancing with King Crimson. Yip yip! Other highlights of sorts include KlusterB (offering three and a half minutes of backwards, strangulated screaming, VERY FUCKING SCARY) and J Foundation (Can-style-avant-jazz coolness). What an odd album, though. I don’t think you need to be a Tolkien obsessive to appreciate it. Here’s an interesting fact: I first heard this album whilst sitting in Bearos HQ, sharing mini-doughnuts and coffee with The Starries. Are these not the rock and roll events that you only ever DREAM about?

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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