Comets on Fire's last studio album was a one way trip to the sun, a massively distorted psycho punk behemoth that was a bit of a struggle to get through, but worth every minute of the fight. Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop) brings all that heat back home in a glorious solar windstorm of cataclysmic beauty. This is easily their best album, and if any band deserves the right to be named after a Blue Cheer album, it's this one, but they're too damn cool to pilfer old titles and too damn fresh too! Smoking heavy psych barnburners, an Allman brother's southern quickstep, a Six Organs-ish dark hills folk thing, completely enthralling guitar duals = mind melting on every plane. There's even some smoking piano on a few tracks. And what better place for such skunkified psych grunge sweetness than the house of Mudhoney?
Rato Triste Sus Funturos is the latest from Japan's quartet of black doom, Corrupted. This is heinous, demoralizing sludge with cookie-monster vocals that will either instantly repel or sickly fascinate (and amuse), and yes, it's all sung in Spanish, the true language of evil! After a good two minutes of such speaker destruction, a state of numb resignation is imposed on the listener. The first track is actually a side-long endlessly sad acoustic sedative, not unlike something on recent Neurosis albums, but the other two deliver the goods in soul-killing abundance with massive bottom end riffs and shrill feedback squealing all the way through the mix. Musically, it's very hard to complain with the results. For one who can't take such relentless bleakness in large doses, Boris At Last-Feedbacker- (DIW Phalinx), by another Japanese export, which just happens to go by the name Boris, is more digestible, and vaguely similar, with its mix of glacial feedback conjuring, groovier jams and atonal metallic deconstructions. A worthier listen than their last EP, emphasizing production, disorientation, Hendrix-ian guitar squalls coaxed by a very hot chick, and even a fair amount of melodicism. Excellent, but expensive--damn!
POP, can never have too much of it to be honest. Of Montreal turns down the lunacy a few notches, ups the songwriting on the scrumdiddlyumptous Satanic Panic in the Attic (Polyvinyl) and unleashes a loverly Beach Boys inspired dream psych opus that longs for breezy late afternoon margerita consumption cum poolside smooching while listenin'. Doleful Lions actually come to mind on a couple tracks, but this is more spritely and quite simply good gay fun. NME hottie pin-ups The Choral have done something similar with the slightly subdued Magic And Medicine (Columbia), turning down the weird and upping the melodics, making this not as instantly appealing as the debut, but worthy for those who value classic '67 era Kinks and the Doors' Strange Days as much as me, and all the production trappings that come with such. I suppose questions of originality could arise, but the li'l bastards sound accomplished, maybe too accomplished, and I'm gonna take this over 95% of the major label rock coming out of the UK at the moment. Cool bonus: An entire album, Nightfreaks and the Sons of Becker, maybe not as good, but shows where some of that waning energy may have scuttled off to.
Old friends at Camera Obscura continue to crank out a diverse range of righteous head dust, including the wonderfully filmic Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick from Italy, who even sing some on ...No Freeway, No Plan, No Trees, No Ghosts, but it's the subdued jazz/psych textures of the mostly instrumental guitar/bass/drum lineup, replete with well-placed fuzz eruptions and gorgeous minimal tones, that have me returning to its lovely dark sheen over and over. Joe Turner, drummer of the mighty Bostonian folk/noise unit Abunai!, makes his solo LP debut on Camera Obscura with Between Two Seconds, mixing fuzzy psych pop gems with harmony laced power pop, shimmering shoegaze workouts and other neat stuff. The Who love of "Coordinate Zero" keeps tickling me in the funniest of places, but it all has a warm, laid back sweetness throughout, and a bit of melancholic streak as well, with strong harmonies hearkening back to the golden days of this sort'a stuff, making it perfect for this time of year. Note to self: both of these make fine companions for extended drives through the countryside.
In honor of my growing affection for Einstürzende Neubauten and the incredible live show I saw a couple months ago, grabbed the 2 CD 2000 album Love is Sexy (Mute) recently, and it fits in quite nicely in their later development. Blixa almost whispers on a few tracks, as the lads dole out low-key moody electro pop noise soundscapery at its most seductive, though there are some clanks, blurts and blaring yelps dispersed throughout. Since I'm wandering the realm of slightly older, meditative art pop, the s/t 2LP by Sun is a fantastic little detour from the typically brilliant Oren Ambarchi, which sees he and partner Chris Townend playing their own kind of laid back slow-core bliss. Not your typical Staubgold release, and honestly quite straightforward and accessible like a few other of my favorite Aussie guitar bliss merchants, but there is a second disk of remixes, some truly astonishing work from masters of the form (Mapstation, Pluramon, Pimmon, Tom Recchion, Rafael Toral, Hrvatski, Norbert Moslang, Chistoph Heemann)...phew. Given such a roster, it's no surprise the remix disk is incredible and arguably the real reason to hunt this sucker down.
Wanna get funkay? Weird War will do it for ya, man. If Ya Can't Beat 'Em, Bite 'Em (Drag City)! Originally born as a "supergroup" composed of Neil Hagerty and Ian and Michelle of the Make-Up, Hagerty's now gone and a couple other guys are on board, Jennifer Herrema guest vocals on a song, and the end vibe is a super stoned acid garage whippits fest, not far from the funkiest Royal Trux, Funkadelic, early Can at their James Brown obsessin' best.
My dumb ass labeled Frog Eyes as King Frog in the last issue of The Broken Face, when I was reviewing the awesome The Golden River CD. Wonder how that happened? Ego Scriptor (Absolutely Kosher) is one of those unplugged live sorts of things, which are usually just another attempt by Da Man at further wringing the precious consumer of his/her hard earned cash by lulling him/her through repeated playings of mundane, sedated versions of already boring studio songs into purchasing the same songs yet again, but Ego Scriptor is different. First off Frog Eyes are pretty obscure, and an album like this which offers a sampling, albeit of radically different versions, of previous and forthcoming releases might come in pretty handy. Secondly, even in a mostly acoustic setting, Carey Mercer sounds like one sick fuck. Weird, lopsided folk pop is the result with a hiccuping vocal approach that will understandably scare some away. But unlike, say, Bright Eyes, where I think some of that strained weirdness is a bit manufactured, knowingly or not, by Master Oburst, I feel this Mercer guy, with his strange variation of early Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Tom Waits and even Jeff Mangum, actually has something to say, or at least an interesting way of saying it.
Driving down the road two days ago, listening to the radio, I noticed an interesting ringing minimal guitar line on the radio, and I was sure it was something off the Strokes second album, and I was thinking, "oh it sucks... or maybe this is pretty good and I'm just a snob"--but then it jerked into a big stomping house beat with funky guitars and bass and some Scot singing about going to a party and hooking up with a hot babe. Something like, "and I will leave with you!" was the chorus. GOD it was so silly. It was Franz Ferdinand! AND it really did make me want to hear more. But just that funky part where he sings about picking up the girl. The opening Strokes bit blew.