Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brief Weeds - A Very Generous Portrait 7"

This one is definitely for the collectors. Before Fugazi and Rites of Spring, Brendan Canty and Guy Picciotto played together in Brief Weeds. If you're expecting that 80's DC punk you'd better start looking elsewhere, because this really sounds nothing like the bands that would make the members of this band so popular in later years.

Brief Weeds plays pop music heavily influenced by the 1960s. Think bands like The Zombies, The Animals or dare I even say, The Monkees. At times it's hard to believe these songs were recorded in the late 80s. They feel 20 years older than they really are. I'm not really sure what else to say about this one. It's an interesting look at some of my favorite musicians favorite work and I'm definitely stoked to have it in the collection. I can guarantee that not everyone is love this, but give it a shot. I Dream To Dream has some definite jam worthy moments. The River Song (odd song out on this 7") actually reminds me of some of the weirder moments on Fugazi's Instrument soundtrack.

Calvin Johnson's label, K Records (See Kev's post on Johnson's mixtape, We Will Bury You) put this out in 1991 and I'm sure is long out of print. Check it out. Listen with an open mind, you might find yourself loving it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kids Return/Bail - Konsortium split LP

Kids Return hail from the UK - I'm sorry to say I wasn't on the ball with Kids Return right off the bat, since it seems I missed their really great LP when it came out. It has this driving rhythm that is unmistakably influenced but early 90's emo - initially the vocals killed it for me, but after repeated listens, I've come around, I'm maybe a little more forgiving. It's still got that juice, that drive, that in the end, is all that's needed. "This is not a Plastic Bag," for instance, begins as a rolling-plodder and builds into something of a shouted anthem. All the tracks pretty much run together, and this makes sense; thematically, the songs all run a similar vein into one solid side of wax.

On the flip, even though I'd say this split is almost a perfect pairing of bands, Bail nevertheless have this sound that is most certainly "German" - I don't know how quite to articulate it, but it has the same sort of (only-slightly) off-kilter tendencies that are present in bands like Shokei or Solemn League. Indie rock played by dudes who are well versed in hardcore movement. Smart but still playful, intricate but easily palatable. I've been most taken with "Triangle #2" - a super understated track that somehow even the spoken word vocals and drum machine (both normally bad ideas) actually offers a great lead into the controlled feedback of the climax. Even being this style that we've all heard a ton (albeit the sound I obviously love) Bail still come off as super unique.

Thumbs. Thumbs up.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Veneers & L/P Split 7"

~AB - Big absence on my end. Sorry sorry sorry! To make up for it I took a picture of this record next to a big scary knife. 'Street Cred'.

Bought this record on a total whim...well sort of. Mr. Stebner recommended it to me, so I guess that's reason enough to purchase a record. This 7" contains offerings from two rad new eastern Canadian bands, Veneers from St. John's, Newfoundland and L/P from Truro, Nova Scotia. Like Alberta, the maritime provinces are raised on a healthy diet of isolation and long, cold winters, and like Alberta produces some kick ass bands because of it.

Veneers was a bit unexpected. The band contains members of Polina so I was expecting something a bit heavier, full of screams. Instead I got slow plodding post punk with just a bit of swagger and snottiness. Even though I don't jam the Haram record nearly as much as Kevin does, I immediately thought of it while listening to the Veneers songs. This may turn some people off, but some of the vocals have a bit of an older Mae Shi vibe to them, but maybe that's just me. A good mix of attitude, urgency and frantic shouting. I really dig both songs a lot and I'm super excited to see what they do next. I guess there is a tape floating around somewhere, so I'll have to get my hands on that soon.

On side B, 3 songs from L/P. Really fun and fast punk rock with a bit of a garage pop edge to it. Like a bunch of east coast pop kids who grew up listening to that Halifax pop sound doing their best Stooges impersonation. Toss in a bit of Bad Brains rippin' hardcore punk style for good measure and you have a pretty decent idea of what to expect. I figured I'd like this side of the record a lot less than the Veneers side, but in all honesty it's grown on me quite a bit. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on, and they're really fun tunes.

I really like when a record surprises me like this one did. 5 solid jams from 2 solid bands! Lesson learned? Always listen to Kevin Stebner.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eamon McGrath - 13 Songs About Whiskey and Light

"Oh, you're cursin' through your lips"
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I've written about this record before but I don't know if I've pushed it on my hardcore homies enough. I suppose it's no secret that I have a deep seeded love of Can-rock, not that hardcore exhausts itself, but rarely does it hit all the themes and sentiments I recognize around me and look for in songs. Yes, Can-rock will always get put unashamedly on my mixtapes, and this Eamon McGrath recording sings like a friend from the past.

For the most part, Eamon's stuff has always seemed pretty hit and miss to me, but maybe that's what makes 13 Songs so good - that even he would recognize that not every song penned is a winner, and so why not write a hundred songs and pick the 13 best - thus, you've got a perfect album on your hands. And yes, the recordings here are often shakey, uneven first takes, tape hiss all over, voice cracks galore - but in the end, what matters is just how immediate and honest it sounds. The characters that appear in his songs (auto-biographical or not) are ones that are familiar to me here in Alberta. "Desperation, Alberta" could be anyone I knew growing up in Red Deer. I know these people, I recognize their voices. I know the style isn't exactly breaking new ground, but that matters little. I understand the desire to sing with the voice in which people understand how to hear. I adore how his voice grows more and more hoarse on "Chained to My Love" as the song continues. It essentially becomes more difficult to sing as it rolls on, but it implores even stronger for us to listen. "Ecstasy Railings," in particular, could likely be one of the most harrowing and crushing songs I've ever heard, and the truest stories are the most difficult from which to turn away.

Take it how you will, but to me this record sounds like home.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

American Geography - s/t

American Geography were one of those bands that slipped under the radar, it seems. They were from Victoria and active in the early aughts. They managed to tour the whole country and, needless to say, they were a powerhouse live. They were huge; I seem to recall the guitar and bass players were both over 6 feet tall and well over 200-pounds - and their sound only matched their stature. They've got that Touch and Go-style down pat; it's obvious they had listened to their fair share of June of 44, but were also aware of their share of Victoria pedigree of the past - in fact, one of the members was in Wrought: Ironsmile!!

I had the pleasure of playing with these guys back in my totheteeth/tothehilt days, and recall it fondly. I felt pretty lucky to have been able to have these guys in Red Deer, and it's a crying shame that it didn't keep building. Major hidden gem.