Crystallized Movements

Revelations from Pandemonium

This was Crystallized Movements’ finale and it was a perfect summary of all that was great about this band while pointing towards the psychedelic balladry of Magic Hour as well as the crushing heaviness of Major Stars. In my humble opinion, both of these later projects are superior to Crystallized Movements attempts to combine the two, but Revelations From Pandemonium straddled the line so well.

The core unit of all of these acts are Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar, who run Twisted Village, an influential label and records store. They have had a hand in many releases on the label by B.O.R.B. and Vermonster. You can count on the Twisted Village label if you love fried, amp-destroying feedback with a taste for the 60s.

If I had to sum up Revelations From Pandemonium, it would be “fuzzy.” I guess a lazy comparison would be to Sonic Youth’s Sister and EVOL filtered through psych-folk, but then again that doesn’t do it total justice. Wayne Rogers’ guitar playing is kaleidoscopic in that so many sounds can be perceived in his lo-fi wall of sound. His playing is majestic and regal when he avoids the noise and reels off a riff worthy of Jimi Hendrix Randy Holden. His vocals are deadpan and don’t add much, the lyrics are meaningless, but his voice works because it adds a monotone accent on the main attraction–the instrumental brilliance of this band.

This album is an acquired taste and requires a few listens to grasp its brilliance, but anyone in love with scruffy psychedelia will eventually find much to love.

Lucinda Williams

Happy Woman Blues

removed by request of Smithsonian-Folkways

During my time in college, I knew a wonderful fellow named Chris Williams. Time has passed and senility has prematurely set, so my three prominent memories of the man are his endlessly cheerful demeanor, his shocking revelation that there was a sexual act called feltching and his the fact that he would always greet me with the chorus of Lucinda Williams’ “Hard Road”

Oh, Bill, I know how you’re feelin’
Your heart’s on fire and your head is reelin’
But with the spirit to guide you
And a friend beside you
You know you’ll win
If you’re only willin’

I must admit that each salutation raised my spirit even though I had never heard of this mystery woman, but fell in love with her country/folk tales of hard roads and tough love once I scrounged up a copy of this album. Admittedly, her later albums are better statements of purpose, especially Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, but Happy Woman Blues opened my punk and wussy pop eyes to the possibilities country. Many whiskeys and George Jones albums later, I feel like I need some eagle scout medals on this fashionable lapel. However, she was one of my first exposures to the genre even if it wasn’t necessarily the most pure entryway.

Happy Woman Blues was released in 1980 on Smithsonian Folkways and it captures Williams at her most simple and homespun. Somehow, I like her better this way instead of the overproduced and overthought efforts of recent efforts. Her voice lacks the pathos of a Dolly Parton or Tammy Wynette, but her lyrics and lazy drawl deliver the emotional breakdowns we secretly desire. Tales of one stands and drunken cries at unresponsive moons populate her songs and her quirky approach to country place her firmly inside the country canon while her legs drunkenly dangle off the sides of the wagon.

R. Stevie Moore

Contact Risk (Fruit of the Tune Music 1993)

The unsung granddaddy of the home taping movement, R. Stevie Moore has been honing his bizarre take on pop since 1966. He didn’t get a chance to share his eccentric vision with the general public until 1976’s Phonography and many are still waiting for their first taste of this man’s awkward, but catchy musings on life. He draws on 60s and 70s rock and roll,country and the Residents/Zappa to a lesser extent, but unwittingly warps it into something entirely perverse that bears little resemblance to anything else in my collection. Ariel Pink sort of delves into this territory, but he has yet to set foot into the bizarro universe of R. Stevie Moore.

Contact Risk isn’t his best album, but it stands as one of the better ones. The opener “Your Dancing Ears” discusses high school alienation with a chorus that touches on a Visine addiction. “Can’t Afford Food” obviously touches upon his monetary woes and how he feels compelled to pursue his artistic vision despite its cost on his bank account. Many songs on Compact Risk, make that all of his albums, project an image of a very depressed gentleman who has trouble connecting with others, especially women. His song “Ill (Worst)” serves as an example of his romantic worldview and reveal his longing for a connection to others.

I sit here in agony in undivided pain
I’m blue and I’m flesh and I’m wet from all your sullen rain
The morning sun has gone away
Disappeared as you did to me
I strum with discontentment, nothing for nothing meant for me
My clock is going fast though passing reality
The silent night still holds me back
Keeping me from the girl that I love

I have nothing to my account, no girl no friends no home
I’m stricken here with loneliness (the only thing I own)
I’m so cold in my own secret way
Wanting you and the love you disperse

Every possesion of mine
Was either given back
Or it was never given to me

R. Stevie Moore is criminally unheard by many who would be sympathetic to his knack for a pop tune as well as his sometimes witty, sometimes depressing lyrics. If you enjoy your pop music scattered, smothered and covered, this man is up your alley.


These Are Not Fall Colors (K 1994) (NEW LINK)

There once was a time where you couldn’t simply click on a link and drag titles to a playlist and burn a mix in mere minutes. My formative years were spent with grubby and worn mixtapes that took hours to complete. It was a pain in the ass to fast-forward past songs and you tended to listen to entire mixes and albums since, for better or worse, you were along for the ride. The benefit of this format was that I tended to listen to the same things over and over until they grew on me.

Lync’s These Are Not Fall Colors was one of these albums. Initially, it seemed like a pedestrian K/Kill Rock Stars punk screamer in the vein of early Unwound and Drive Like Jehu. However, I loved me some Unwound, so I kept listening to it since the songs were raw, loud and poppy enough to inject some adrenaline into my weary form. Eventually, the duds transformed into diamonds in the rough and my likes turned into loves.

This album was released on K Records in 1994 and its members contributed to Beck’s One Foot in The Grave and went on to form the excellent 764-Hero as well as Love in Laughter and Satisfact. However, These Are Not Fall Colors stands as the pinnacle of these musicians’ careers. It’s noisy, brash and sloppy, but sad and weary at the same time. It predates emo and serves as a blueprint for the genre that was trampled and ruined by many lesser souls. Sam Jayne’s vocals are so hoarse and pleading that he’s able to make his sweet sentiments sound much tougher than they really are. One of the hidden punk or indie-pop gems of the 90s, Lync deserves your attention and hopefully your love.