Bowery Electric-s/t

January 19, 2013

Bowery Electric

s/t (Kranky 1995)

ttp://www41.zippyshare.com/v/13064368/file.html (NEW LINK)

In my addled and biased opinion, Bowery Electric’s self-titled debut might be one of my favorite rock albums of the 1990’s. It’s definitely the near zenith of the Kranky Records discography as it kind of conjures an alternate universe where Spacemen 3 stuck to smoking weed instead of the harder stuff and laid up at night listening to old Slowdive and selected platters of 4ad’s finest. Both bands share that innate ability to jam out a hypnotically monotonous guitar riff that overtakes the entire song and leaves you wishing you could edit out the vocals because it’s just that good and it really has no business ever stopping. The best parts of Bowery Electric’s debut is when the band channels the vibe of Spacemen 3’s “When Tomorrow Hits” and replaces its dark, nihilistic vibe with something more airy and eerie. That track kind of serves as spiritual forefather for what goes down on this album as guitarist Lawrence Chandler plays with the same slow-motion desolation as the original, yet there’s something going on that’s entirely his own. It’s kind of funny that dozens of bands have done a fair to middling job of sounding like Spacemen 3, but no band has ever copied or emulated what Bowery Electric were doing here since its release. Hell, Bowery Electric didn’t even come close to duplicating the vibe of this one as they quickly switched gear on its follow-up, Beat, and became something much less palatable.

This is an album that ebbs and flows kind of organically. It has a perfect balance of slowly throbbing guitar codas that gradually give way to more gentle numbers that let everything echo into a sea of reverb and the tension between the two give it an almost epic quality at times. Unsurprisingly, “Slow Thrills”, the best track on the album, somehow combines the two and the result is positively glorious. All three members get their time in the sunshine here as drummer Michael Johngren and bassist/vocalist Martha Schwendener lock into a stoner two-step that makes these ten minutes all too fleeting. She dourly intones into the micropohone and the whole band breaks a lengthy crescendo that gradually loses a battle to a soothing interlude designed to ease your mind before they club you over the head one more time until its close.

It’s actually kind of a grim and joyless album. However, it’s the perfect album for those moments when you just want to listen to a gloriously monotonous album and blithely nod along for forty minutes. Actually, that sounds like most of my music listening habits, so it’s no surprise that I reach for this album more than most.

Richard Buckner

Devotion and Doubt(Fontana/MCA 1997)

http://www.mediafire.com/?nnuzaerlwrm

Yeah, anyone can sing a sad song, but some folks are so bruised that theirs wrap their arms around you and suck every ounce of empathy and rapport one can have with lyrics and a chorus. Ultimately, this is a subjective crapshoot since I once found the Ink Spots to be the saddest outfit in the known universe while others may sink to the bottom of their well whenever muzak plays in the elevator. Therefore, the following sentiments will most likely be tacked onto any number of albums in my future, but something keeps me coming back to Richard Buckner’s Devotion and Doubt these days. It’s like watching a disaster occurring in slow-motion on a static-ridden television.

Sadly, it was released during a time when the world hatched a genre called alt-country and a flock of earnest souls channeled their favorite country singers through the prism of indie-rock, punk and folk. To be honest, I still love Neko Case, Robbie Fulks and the first Ryan Adams album, but those are momentary passions that fall fainter by the year. However, the voice of Richard Buckner never fails me. Sometimes the instrumentation plays it safe, but he always suckers me in when spins a yarn about lost chances and grievous errors. Devotion and Doubt is full of these, and his romanticism about slowly spinning down the drain is kind of spell-binding.

The opening lines of “Roll” speak volumes about his mindset as he sings “We can rent a car tomorrow/and roll through all the thoughts we keep/but we’ll just end up disheveled/and and acting like we both don’t know/but as I go down please take care.” It is a celebration of bad decisions, yet he captures the tragedy to be found in one who embraces and woos the error of his or her ways. “4 am” adds to the hubris as it opens with Buckner singing “It’s a bruised and fallen sky/pressed all up against us/and its just as true far away/but I can be there by breakfast/if I just drive through to you/so as the past goes breaking by/where are you tonight?” There is an element of optimism and good intention, but it is balanced then toppled by a sense of abandon and a revelation that this ain’t going to be good for anyone when all is said and done. Then again, Devotion and Doubt chronicles his divorce from his wife, so these things are to be expected.

In short, he continues the legacy of his Lubbox, Texas idols: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen and their spiritual neighbor Townes Van Zandt, but does so with bit more brooding, spit and polish. It is a meditation on accepting the last gasps of love and the awkward things we do to maintain a flame that has died a premature death.

I’m guessing this was a fundraising item during WFMU’s pledge drive in 2004. Compiled by John Allen, it collects a veritable who’s who of indie rock circa 1989. However, most of this compilation veers towards the punk end of the spectrum. It is great to hear some old favorites and get the chance to listen to some great songs that never made it onto their respective albums. It does an excellent job of summing of the the cream of the crop. It is even more impressive due to the fact that it focuses on a single year and catches many of these bands in their prime. I haven’t heard some of these songs in over a decade it brings back memories of bands that lost me with later efforts, but this comp is forcing me to reevaluate some of my opinions. Extra points for emulating the design and approach of Chuck Warner’s Messthetics comps that have lovingly collected forgotten punk and new wave gems.

Various Artists

Killed by Murder Volume One

http://www.divshare.com/download/5271141-fff

tracklist

16 Tons-Lauren(No Blow)

Action Swingers-Kicked in the head(Noiseville)

Bricks-Girl with the Carrot Skin(merge)

Dead Moon-Black september (Tombstone)

Death of Samantha-Rosenberg Summer (Homestead)

Die Kreuzen-Gone Away (Touch and Go)

Drunks With Guns-Drug Problem (Noiseville)

Dwarves-Drug Store (Sub Pop)

Gibson Brothers-Emusified (Siltbreeze)

Go Team-Ribeye (K)

Halo of Flies-There Aint No Hell (Amrep)

HP Zinker-The Know it All(Matador)

Ickey Joey-Ill Love You There (C/Z)

Jesus Lizard-Chrome (Touch and Go)

Lee Harvey Oswald Band-Ligtning Strikes (Touch and Go)

Lonely Moans-Rockinerd (amrep)

Love Child-Know its Alright (Sympathy)

Melvins-Anal Satan (Sympathy)

Monster Magnet-Lizard Johnny (Circuit)

Mudhoney-Hate the police (Subpop)

Seaweed-Inside (Leopard gecko)

Surgery-Not Going Down(Amrep)

Tar-Same (Amrep)

Treepeople-Important Things(Silence)

Unsane-This Town (Treehouse)

Vomit launch-Every Pretty Girl (teenbeat)

Monoshock-Walk to the Fire

August 13, 2008

Monoshock

Walk to the Fire (Blackball 1997)

http://www.divshare.com/download/5167001-aac

Oh Sweet Jesus, where in the world have you been all of my life. Monoshock’s Walk to the Fire is a overload of psychedelia, rock and punk that falls somewhere in between Japanese band High Rise and Hawkwind at their most abrasive and fucked. I picked this album up long ago and tossed it aside because it was such a spastic mess, but that says much more about me at that time than this glorious album. It is a criminal racket that was recorded so that it sounds as if your ear is pressed against a massive amplifier pressing into the red at every moment.

Think Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath and the Stooges, but without a hit song to distinguish them. This is anthemic, unhinged and unhealthy music that pushes psych, metal and punk to its most mind altering limits. Music is phased to oblivion and reverb cascades over each brutal, but well-played riff as the band just pummels the living shit out each song. This music makes me uneasy, but it also can be catchy in its own caveman way. Each time I listen to this I am amazed at how Monoshock abused the guitar and created such a claustrophobic sound. These are anthems for riding a goddamn asteroid into a planet. Walk to the Fire deserves every cosmic, hippie adjective you could humanly apply to it.