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May 2005 - Volume 2

By: Tom Schulte



Cherry Red Records ( brings forth an important document from the early days of punk. The label uncovered a reel-to-reel recording, previously lost for 27 years, of Eater. Cherry Red is now prepared for a first-ever release of this material that has not even been previously bootlegged. The CD, to be called Live at Barbarella's 1977, is from material recorded in August 1977 at the second-ever British punk festival. Eater was part of the first wave of punk and released five singles. There will also be an Eater DVD. Other future Cherry Red DVD releases of interest to punk collectors includes a DVD for The Fall and Burning Britain The DVD covering this history of the second wave of UK punk from 1980 to 1984.


We have a batch of new, heavy, industrial albums from this prolific label ( First up is the third album from Retrosic ( entitled God of Hell. The approach is brutal lyrics, hard-hitting beats and then synthesized strings-- Up next is Fixmer/McCarthy with Between the Devil. Including Nitzer Ebb founder Douglas McCarthy, this album is more peppy, bright, and danceable. There is a similarity here to late '80s Nitzer Ebb. Getting these two legends together, Fixmer from techno, has produced some serious hardfloor-- Lamia opens up Dark Angel with some Bach. There is other baroque and liturgical music on this album of fusion between techno and period sounds. Excellent, ethereal voices from Claudia "Caly" Rolando really help pull this off. This is a very promising debut from the neo-period Brazilian project--


Abattoir Blues/ The Lyre Of Orpheus is to be released on Anti Records October 26. This is the very first two-album set of entirely new studio recordings ever released by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, as well as being the first album recorded without guitarist Blixa Bargeld. Mick Harvey does all the guitar work on these recordings. Warren Ellis takes on mandolin and Irish bouzouki in addition to violin. Jim Sclavunos and Thomas Wydler equally share drum duties, with bassist Martyn P. Casey completing the rhythm section. Conway Savage and Nick Cave trade off on piano and the band's newest addition, James Johnston (Gallon Drunk), makes his debut on organ.


Bassist and vocalist Robby Takac of Goo Goo Dolls fame starts off his new label signing by producing the full-length debuts by three Buffalo, N.Y. bands. These releases will be Last Conservative On To The Next One, Klear Makin' Noise, and The Juliet Dagger, Turn Up The Death.


Murder City Devils
Rock & Roll Won't Wait
Music Video Distributors

Just about an hour in length, this documentary profiles the touring band Murder City Devils of Seattle. The organ-fueled, dark, and clamorous rock of the band is a backdrop through live footage to antics and anecdotes. Interviews and candid, off-stage footage slices into the music segments giving this documentary balance. In the music footage is parts of the band's 1998 gig with Pearl Jam that included the band on stage with Pearl Jam for "Sonic Reducer". Bonus features include two videos: "18 Wheels" and "Bunkhouse". (3)

Puppets who Kill
Laffstock/Music Video Distributors

Fans of this series based around mischievous, incarcerated, and homicidal puppets and dolls will like this two-DVD set of the Canadian series first season. The thirteen-episode set has special features including an outtakes reel. The attempt is at dark humor, but most of the jokes fall flat and the dolls lack the expressions and poses to be great comics. While the claim is to be "anti-Muppets", none of the characters or skits are as funny as memorable as Gonzo, Pigs in Space or The Swedish Chef. The pacing is off, it just moves too slowly. To paraphrase from South Park episode #213:

Stan Marsh: "Are those real--dolls? They look all crappy."
"Sure they're real. They're even made in Canada." (2)

Kris Kristofferson
Oh Boy Records

This documentary is more concert footage than documentary, which works very well. The documentary is largely just enough Kristofferson interview to get his personal background and validation for defending American honor by criticizing militarist foreign policy of the U.S. government. Performance by Kris Kristofferson & The Borderlords include "Don't let the Bastards Get Your Down", "Me and Bobby McGee", "The Pilgrim" and "To Beat the Devil". (4)

Culture Club
Live at the Royal Albert Hall: 20th Anniversary Concert
Angel Air

The show opens with Scottish actor Euan Morton as Boy George, the role he played in the Boy George stage biopic musical Taboo. Morton delivers an excellent "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" although he seems to falter at the end. We are then treated to the real Boy George looking monstrous in a black-and-white dress and tie-on liberty spikes that all accentuates his weight gain. Indeed, "this is parody." After delivering lackluster vocal performance for several songs, Boy George goes for a costume change handing the stage over to the eminently capable Lyn Paul (Taboo, The Seekers). Freed from that ridiculous getup, Boy George seems much more comfortable and is much better during this portion on such songs as "That's the Way" with Zee Asha (yet another Taboo reference), "Black Money", "Move Away" and more. Despite the highpoints, which include a version of "Starman", this is not an exceptional concert film and the word from many hardcore fans is there is no comparison to the Culture Club concert film from two decades previous, Kiss Across the Ocean. I also wonder about how the older attendees felt that brought their children to hear their hero of the past berate the audience in four-letter language for not being quite during the ballad "Miss Me Blind". Boy George himself wrote a history of Culture Club and comments on this concert in bonus material that makes for entertaining and enlightening reading. (3)


The Pop Rivets
Empty Sounds From Anarchy Ranch
Damaged Goods

The Pop Rivets
Greatest Hits
Damaged Goods

Using the original master tapes and re-mastering for CD release, Damaged Goods has done all Billy Childish fans by reissuing these 1979 Hypocrite Records releases. The band, also known as TV 21, recorded Greatest Hits in 1978-9 with no label backing. This makes the album recorded by Childish, Bruce Brand and Big Russ arguably the first independent punk album. The album has a scattered, all-over-the-map feel that adds to the fun atmospheres. Styles vary from ska-like ("Bacon") to unfettered cacophony ("Medical Surgical Specialties"). After two tours of Switzerland and Germany, the group recorded the angrier and more rock-oriented Empty Sounds From Anarchy Ranch. The damaged '50s rock feel of songs like "Hang Loose Mongoose" maybe a bitter reaction to the failed promise of punk and the rise of the New Romantic sound. As Childish said of the time, "Far from being dead and buried it seemed that Bowie and company were on the ascendant." (3.5)

The Hellboys
Cha Cha With The Hellboys
The Hellboys

The Hellboys is an amorphous, protean group and somewhat of a prog-rock collective. The central principal is Tom Redmond. Redmond is part of the soundalike triumvirate that also includes Lou Reed and Larry McMurtry. On this album are Tony Levin, Jerry Marota, Robert Fripp, The California Guitar Trio and more. The album is a wonderful blend of shocking sounds, unexpected melody and quirky lyrics. (4.5)

Slim Cessna's Auto Club
Blovdy Tenent Trvth Peace
Alternative Tentacles

Choosing a pre-'60s country sound more like Hank Williams than anything in FM country today, Slim Cessna offers a refreshing take on Americana. The sound is big and eerie, like the open country at night and a blend of Johnny Cash and Nick Cave. (4)

The Sirens
The Sirens
Get Hip Recordings

The ladies of Detroit's quartet The Sirens dress the part, harmonize like The Shangri-Las and rock out with a great selection of covers on this 12-track garage rock album. We have here Gary Glitter, Suzi Quatro ("Glycerine Queen"), Ike Turner ("I'm Blue"), Roky Erickson ("Don't Slander Me") and more. This is all delivered in a burst of fuzzed-out '70s glam energy. Singer is Muffy Kroha, little sister to Dan Kroha (Gories, Demolition Doll Rods). (Muffy has come quite a ways from teaching theatre to youths in Africa.) Playing guitar is Melodylicious (Gore Gore Girls). (4)

The Paybacks
Harder and Harder
Get Hip Recordings

Detroit's legendary Wendy Case (Ten High) continues to burn bright in the neo-garage constellation. Some of the hard-driving songs continue her projected persona of hard drink and hard sex ("Can You Drive", "Scotch Love"). To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln in regards Gen. Ulysses Grant, find out what she is drinking and send a case to all the other ladies leading garage punk rock 'n' roll bands, because this album swings as well as it rocks. A lot of that swing is undoubtedly due to the presence of the rhythm section from The Hentchmen: bassist John "Johnny Volare" Szymanski and drummer Mike "Audi" Latulippe. (4)

Kultur Shock
Koolarrow Records

Gypsy sounds with a muscular, post-metal delivery makes this an interesting if not challenging release. Not for relaxation, the energetic album may best be appreciated by ears attuned to Western hard rock but raised on East European folk. If you find this intriguing but not accessible enough, I recommend Mano Negra. (2.5)

Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant
Sister Phantom Owl Fish
Ipecac Recordings

Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fant?mas) continues to muddy the confluence between composed jazz and art rock with a hard edge. Edgy melodies are punctuated with potent power chords on this instrumental album. Islands of free improvisation crop up regularly on this rich and fascinating disc. This trio of Dunn with Boston guitarist Mary Halvorson and Theory of Ruin percussionist Ches Smith presents an album that reminds us why we started listening to independent music in the first place as well as why we found we could supplant The Exploited with Sun Ra. (4.5)

Gary Wilson
Mary Had Brown Hair
Stones Throw

Gary Wilson was making sub-hip, electro-pop cult music in 1977, and is still doing it. Better than Jandek, more transparently psychological than Daniel Johnston, Wilson's new album of lo-fi electro-funk is his first since the late '70s. Some things never change, and Wilson is still obsessed over the real or imagined lost loves Mary, Linda and Debbie. Mary Had Brown Hair is destined to be a cult classic somewhere between Philosophy of the World (The Shaggs) and Astrology Songs & Golf Songs (Harvey Sid Fisher). (3.5)

Coyote Shivers
Gives it to Ya. Twice.
Foodchain Records

With a wit like gothic rocker Voltaire ("Live to Regret It", "You're Mine"), Coyote Shivers has a hip New York post-punk rock sound that gives him the ability to reduce the whole spectrum of Lou Reed's career through the Mistrial album on "Secretly Jealous". The decadent humor of the opening "Plus One" sets the funny and ridiculous Disc 1 One Sick Pup of this double-CD release. Says singer/guitarist Coyote Shivers, "In that absolute first moment when I heard The Ramones and realized there was music out there that wasn't on the radio, my life changed." Coyote Shivers hasn't let go of that feeling and expresses it in a way we can all still pick up on this album. The second disc is an acoustic opus entitled From My Bedroom to Yours. Just like it says, this was recorded with only an acoustic guitar and in his bedroom. When you realize the delightful, opening song "Sugarhigh" is an ode to oral sex it is like that moment when Nigel Tufnel tells us the name of his baroque piano piece is "Lick My Love Pump". We all need moments like that. (4)

Trevor Tanner
Bullish, Bellyache & Belch
Emperor Penguin

Trevor Tanner, former frontman for Leeds, England new wave group The Bolshoi, delivers up a personal collection of pop gems on a three-CD set. The finely crafted songs here have a sort of paisley underground arrangement and can recall Stan Ridgway solo material as much as '80s Pink Floyd. Much of it still recalls the Daniel Ash-Love & Rockets semi-gothic synth-pop. Tanner may sound dated at times in this three-volume work, but when he uses '80s arrangements he does it with taste and dignity. The maturity of the music overcomes the vehicle. (4)

Cub Country
Stay Poor/Stay Happy
Future Farmer

The sad-eyed neo-folk alt-pop of Cub Country bears the face of Americana, simple and direct. This is the current project of Jeremy Chatelain (Jets to Brazil). The song-oriented ten-track album is good, but not great. It is a good album to listen to it, but nothing stands out or clings to the memory. (2.5)

Amps II Eleven
Amps II Eleven
Smog Veil

This hard rock band with a whiff of stoner rock to it arose from three other Cleveland ensembles: Stepsister, Southern Trespass and Shuteye. This is loud and proud rock 'n' roll in the tradition of Pink Fairies, Mot?rhead and Kyuss. The two-guitar quartet is getting great press for its live set, but this debut album fails to capture enough energy to separate Amps II Eleven from the legions of other bands crowding this genre. (2.5)

Walking Concert
Run to be Born
Some Records

Walter Schreifels has come a long way since founding Gorilla Biscuits at the age of 16. He followed that up with Quicksand, another hard-edged band. His hardcore and neo-punk fans may find it harder to appreciate the indie pop of Walking Concert. There is a real early Brit pop feel (Kinks, David Bowie) to this album, though nothing really shines here. (3)

The Hunches
Hobo Sunrise
In The Red Records

The sonic excess and the extreme volume that this over-the-top recording suggests may be just the thing for some. This may be the "amplified heat" Cream advertised for sale in "Pressed Rat & Warthog", or it may be prickly sludge falling all over you. Whatever your analogy, this is an album that hits you over the head, track after track. (2)

Cheval De Frise
Cheval De Frise
Sickroom Records

This instrumental combo manages to be often times interesting without ever being entirely engaging. The Bordeaux, France duo is Vincent Beysselance and Thomas Bonvale on guitar and drums. It sounds as if this is more intricate music than the pair is able to conjure from such simple instrumentation. (2)

Those are not my Bongos
Future Farmer Recordings

This band has a moniker that usually lend to offensive, but the group creates eminently pleasant lyrics under this rubric. The opening track combines all these elements into the memorable introduction "Motherfuckeroos". Beautiful to hear but hard to repeat in mixed company, this may be the audio equivalent of dirty pillow talk. The brevity of the sixteen selections adds to the humor of such pieces as the instrumental "Jazz Idiodyssey" and such first date highpoints as "fingers locked in caramel corn goo" in the song "Her Plastic Acupuncture Foot". Melancholy and magical in a lo-fi and perverse way, this wants to be your favorite album with oboe on it. (4)

Sounds Like Violence / Desert City Soundtrack / Settlefish
Deep Elm

This compilation is six tracks from three bands. Aggro indie rock band Sounds Like Violence from Sweden gives only one contribution, a throat-straining "I Push You up the Stairs", which opens the recording. A bit less equally emo is Settlefish, which offers a more nervous guitar line. Desert City Soundtrack is the most interesting of the three with a repetitive keyboard melody and a psychotic approach complete with mood swings that offers insanity as an excuse for all the yelling. This is an album from the school of thought promulgated by Sonic Youth and Pavement. (2.5)

Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminal's Starvation League
From The End Of Your Leash

Call it alt-country, but it is as refreshing and entertaining as that label once promised. Check out the choice of a cover reincarnated in a post-country way, "The Things I Didn't Say". That is one of the Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show songs with Shel Silverstein lyrics. Then, Bare and company can deliver a colorful original like "Visit Me in Music City" which would fit right into the David Allen Coe songbook. With horns and other rock tricks, this album has a crisp Memphis blend to it. Bare also once again gets a lot of great names in the studio with him, like Andrew Bird, Paul Burch, Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard), Will Oldham (Palace Bros.), Paul Niehaus (Calexico, Lambchop), and Deanna Varagona (Lambchop). Lambchop is a good reference point and Lambchop personnel have been with Bare before this quasi-concept album about the highs and lows of working it in Nashville. (4)

Tender Buttons
You've Done It Now
Pacific Rock/Death Bomb Arc

The electronic rock experimentalists in this band over an intriguing 3-song CDEP here. Xiu Xiu remixes the opening track at the end, taking care of two-thirds of the album. This keystone in the middle is a cover of Van Halen's "Jump" done in a tempo as slow as that Guilt Parade applied to "Heartbreak Hotel" some years back. What little we have to go on tells us this post-electro rock band (featuring two members of Kill Me Tomorrow) has some mad noise rock here that is well worth checking out. The way Xiu Xiu decided to tease out the middle to great length of the opening track and fill in the donut hole with minimalist piano really works, too. (3.5)

The Enablers
End Note
Neurot Recordings

This is the debut full-length by The Enablers. The band features ex-members of Swans, Toiling Midgets, Timco, June of '44, Tarnation and more. The modus operandi is gritty, urban spoken word tales backed by the rumble and thunder of a stormy trio. Listen to "Pauly's Days in Cinema" and it is hard not to think of "Killer on the Road" by The Doors. Guitar is Joe Goldring (Swans, Toiling Midgets). Also in the band are Doug Scharin (June of '44, Out in Worship, Steve Von Till) and Kevin Thomson (Timco, Nice Strong Arm). Holding down the traps is Yuma Joe Byrnes (Tarnation, Broken Horse). Delivering these eerie words is a writer (it shows): Pete Simonelli. (4)

They Might Be Giants
Indestructible Object
Barsuk Records

We have had no new non-children's release from TMBG since Gigantic (2002) and what we get is a five-song CDEP. Well, once past that letdown, this is another exquisite release of hum-inducing songs from the quirky songsmiths John Flansburgh and John Linnell. Still, it is a good stopgap that came out before the Idlewild Recordings release The Spine. The standout track here is the frantic, paranoiac's nightmare "Ant". The album also includes a rendition of the Brian Wilson song "Caroline, No" complete with Wilson-esque falsetto. (4)

Stavely Makepeace
Scrap Iron Rhythm Revue
RPM Productions

Stavely Makepeace, the (somewhat) more serious side of novelty band Lieutenant Pigeon, never release an album proper, but did put out singles on eight different labels. RPM Productions helps rectify things with an album of 22 selections. The album focuses on the mid-'70s, the most prolific time for this pop experiment in the vein of Joe Meek. The music is rich and upbeat. This is a treasure trove of the offbeat pop gems carefully crafter by Nigel Fletcher and Rob Woodward during those years. (4)

Small Stone

The stoner rock genre, which started out as a blacklight zombie reawakening of Blue Cheer, transformed itself the new wave of heavy metal. Sasquatch, with a thunderous and definite bass line reminiscent of St. Vitus, is a power trio with some similarity to the heaviest of Cream that should put a large footprint on the map of the new heavy metal. It is about being ape-heavy and a thudding rhythm that implies a slow, steady tempo that goes well with the nods. (4)

Morning 40 Federation
Morning 40 Federation
M80 Music

The sleazy, horn-fueled coalesces and the decadence and rule-breaking the band's hometown of New Orleans is known for. The songs, like "Bottom Shelf Blues", are all about boozing in dimly lit dives far from the daiquiri-serving tourist traps on Bourbon Street. Taking a Long Island iced tea approach to mixing music, Morning 40 snarls in a gutbucket blues style, gets snotty like punk and delivers its brass like juke joint jazz. Oh, and did I mention that the overriding theme of the album's songs is drinking to excess? (4)

Athens Boys Choir
Rhapsody in T
Daemon Records

Proudly "queer" this spoken word duo is spitting syllables to combat homophobia. This is transgender activism undiluted by guitars. The pair is hip and slick in their delivery, incisively political and graphically revealing in the obstacles to gay acceptance. It's about time we started getting something that can recall Allen Ginsberg. (4)

The Peelers
The Peelers
Orange Recordings

This Tim Kerr-recorded slab of aluminum is a deceptively massive collection of hard-edged garage-revival rock. The Chicago band includes former members of Gaza Strippers, The Hodads and The Hired Goons. The group's sound features a driving drum beat, clamorous guitars and fevered group vocals. The group is at its best when it dives headlong into a rough and psychedelic jam like "Into the Sun". (4)

Various Artists
Shakin' in my Boots: A Texas Rock 'n' Roll Compilation
Licorice Tree

This compilation explores the current state of garage rock in the great state of Texas. The collection opens it up with the barnburner "Shut it Down" by The Stepbrothers and then fires up the wayback machine. We end up in the '60s in the heat of the beat rock movement with "I'll Come Again" from The Ugly Beats. This slides nicely into the fuzzed-out "Down for the Count" from The Hotrails. From there we surf on the crime and spy wave with "The Assassin" from The Dragstrip Brothers. A tentative, understated organ groove that is just a bit funky is an excellent foundation for the cracked soul of "I Want You" by The Crack Pipes. Offering a primitive, deconstructed comment on the whole garage sound is the sonic cavemen in The Golden Boys (ex-Feast of Snakes and White Heat) with its song "I Want You". Part of the resurrection of Jesus Christ Superfly is the inclusion here of the punk rock anthem to holding it in: "Twisted up Inside". A broken blues with slide guitar shows up in "Half in the Morning", a live track from The Hard Feelings recorded at a Belgian prison. There is a good, swinging rhythm to "Hard Drinkin' Woman" by the ex-Mullens in The Sunday Drunks. Again back to the '60s with The Ravens ("Jealous Kind") and an especially good "I Can't Behave" from The Deadites. A Hammond organ goes into deep space orbit on "A Toy Robot" from McLemore Avenue. Tying it all together and perfectly echoing the sprit of this rowdy and rousing compilation is the simple but effective "Let's Dance" from The Ka-Nives (ex-Jewws). (4)

Schoolyard Heroes
The Funeral Sciences
The Control Group

This band succeeds with a formula that also has been done, basically, by Jucifer and Third Grade Teacher. That is, a female rock singer with real breadth of delivery and a kicking rock sound. The interplay of Ryan Donnelly and Jonah Bergman is analogous to that of Amber Valentine and Edgar Livengood (Jucifer) on such songs as "Dawn of the Dead". 18-year-old vocalist Ryan Donnelly runs the spectrum from cute and almost childlike to a fiery siren, though occasionally the lyrics fall flat ("you're as boring as a book", etc.). (3.5)

Little Wings
Magic Wand
K Records

Kyle Field, a.k.a. Little Wings, has a childlike vision: pure and direct into a world magical and present. Listening to these simple and honest songs is overhearing Little Wings relate his personal and unique view of the world. For what is surreal he brings a clarity that is a rarity. Field is an experienced hand at creating Little Wings albums, but the lyrical content of "demos" and singing and "I am -- you local band" all make it sounds like a first time effort, an exercise in confidence building. Rather than becoming amateurish, this honest reflection ("the music brings me back to life") adds authenticity to this quirky electro-folk lo-fi odyssey. For this album, Field worked with producer Calvin Johnson at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia. Among the guests that showed up during the process are Phil Elverum, Bobby Birdman, Lee Baggett, Genevieve Elverum, Miggy Littleton and more. However, none of this overwhelms the sparse, stripped-down approach Little Wings is known for. (4)

King Chubby
King Chubby Is
Caliente Records

What King Chubby is, is an ethno-techno trance analgesic to counter your hurried life. The organic, protean fluidity of the music has the loose feel of a jam but is delivered in the cool and casual attitude of a Chet Baker trumpet solo, of the moonlit ebb and flow of the tide. Largely instrumental, this music takes a psychedelic turn when treated voices deliver cryptic messages ("Turn it On"). (4)

Big Mama Thornton
With the Muddy Waters Blues Band 1966

There is top-shelf blues at a basement sale price on this Arhoolie budget release of a precious meeting between Muddy Waters and Big Mama Thornton. Basically unrehearsed, the band especially Otis Spann at the piano really melds with Thornton and produces some great, expansive blues, as on Thornton's "Sometimes I Have a Heartache". There is great double-harmonica when Big Mama and James Cotton both play harp on "Big Mama's Shuffle". Also on the album is "Gimme a Penny", "Big Mama's Bumble Bee Blues", and "Black Rat". Alternate takes of several songs appear as bonus tracks. (4.5)

Saint Vitus
Southern Lord

The death metal heroes rise like a flaming phoenix to reclaim their throne in V. The key elements of Mark Adams' prevalent fuzzed out bass, Armando Acosta's dead-thud drums and the ghostly transparent ectoplasmic haunting of Dave Chandler's lurking guitar bring us back to the classic 5-song self-titled debut from the doom metal band. Shades of early Black Sabbath, but even more primitive and visceral, are preserved here and that makes this reunion Vitus classic Vitus. (4)

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