In this week’s Freak Scene, Jamie Johns tackles the new last few weeks in weird. Click below for Pop. 1280, Hot Guts, Rosemary Crust and Siltbreeze's new label comp.
Hot Guts – S/T 7”
Hot Guts shares members with Philadelphia skeezeballs FNU Ronnies but, unexpectedly, their debut 7-inch is not pervy or gross—and I mean both terms with nothing but the height of affection—like FNU Ronnies. The songs are, dare I say it, kind of pretty? There are three wildly different tracks on this 7-inch so it is hard to figure out where Hot Guts are going, but there is something to latch onto. “The Ballad of Jon Simon” has melody, a wall of very loud guitars, and delightful lyrics about going down together. It’s about a dude but it still could be what tons of sweet sludge rockers put on mixtapes to girls they have crushes on. It’s followed by a foray into a more raucous terrain called “Abandon at Leisure,” which is the closest to the FNU Ronnies catalog that Hot Guts gets. The second side is taken up by “Did You Not Go to the Dance Alone?,” a song full of psych riffs, reverb, and Spacemen 3 and later period Scientists vibes. I think there’s even a line in there about setting love on fire, Kim Salmon style. Between this and Sex Church, which I reviewed in the last Freak Scene, it’s becoming very clear that guys are bummed the fuck out. Perhaps the scuzzily romantic vibe of the record is best exemplified by the cover art (above) which looks like a Valentine’s Day heart shaped box full of candy that, on closer examination, is full of prescription pills. I suppose that could be a sweet treat for some people.
This one was released by Suicide Tax and Badmaster Records. Order here.
Pop. 1280 – Bedbugs / Times Square 7-inch
I hesitated at first about Pop. 1280 because they were compared to the Birthday Party and I’m not a huge Birthday Party fan, but the Jim Thompson reference in the band’s name was too alluring to pass up. Those Birthday Party comparisons are apt since the lead singer is trying to work that whole brooding, bleak, hypersexual frontman thing a la Nick Cave. I am not quite sure if it works or not, but this is a pretty stellar 7-inch. It’s just long enough that you do not feel cheated, but it’s short enough that you keep moving the needle back to listen again. “Bedbugs” finds the group’s tortured frontman squealing about waking up in a strange bed only to find it infested with bed bugs. The lyrics waver between addressing the sexual partner and the bedbugs that are both draining him. There’s a writhing bassline that adds to the claustrophobic and menacing vibe of the song. I have yet to see the group live but I am sure the main guy goes wild onstage. The b-side, “Times Square,” evokes the long gone seedy New York of the 1970s and '80s with a veritable to do list of hookers and tourists. It’s the first time in a long time that I have heard someone reference a squeegee man.
The band self-released this one, go here to read about how to get it. Academy, Florida’s Dying, and a bunch of other stores and distros have copies as well.
Rosemary Krust, Bernt Anker 7-inch
This 7-inch by Rosemary Krust starts off good enough or at least close enough to my taste: some heavy guitars with ethereal female cooing over it. That’s my kind of music! However, even though I should theoretically like Rosemary Krust’s Bernt Anker—I am a big fan of Dull Knife and even enjoyed the somewhat maligned Circuits Des Yeux 7-inch they recently put out—this record just doesn’t do it for me. Each time one of the four songs gets to a point where you finally think you have something to hold onto, it falls apart. There’s really not much to “get” here. The first side is pleasant enough, the cooing and the droney guitars, but the second side is too shambolic and thrown together to offer much to most listeners. Poorly recorded music can be great when the music has some kind of sass or attitude (or need) for it but on the second side of this record, the poor recording just masks what sounds like laziness and thoughtlessness. The sad part is, I know that this probably wasn’t lazily made and I feel guilty for trashing it. I truly hope Rosemary Krust can change my mind in the near future.
Various Artists, Skulls Without Borders
Like, duh, I’ve been on a Siltbreeze kick lately and like, duh, this was going to get a review. This is a good example of the joys of low fidelity and, colloquially speaking, shitty sounding recording methods. The one boner killer is the song by Tommy Jay Band, it’s the only song on the whole compilation that I can not whole-heartedly enjoy. It’s not bad, but its rambling, maraca-tinged thing just can’t compete when put next to cuts by Kurt Vile, Puffy Areolas, Chickins (another group with members of FNU Ronnies), Sic Alps, and Dan Melchoir. Both sides, titled "Carbon" and "Hydrogen," are enjoyable listens. On side Hydrogen, my favorite track is Sic Alps’ pleasant and easy “Clarence." Side Carbon has Puffy Areolas’ “El Jita,” which Siltbreeze describes as a “deathride down hell’s highway.” I am not really sure how I can top that description but I will say that it is pretty apt. It’s the kind of song that you listen to and know that someone, somewhere would break a bottle over another person’s head if you put it on.
Hand printed covers, rubber stamped backs and being pressed in a limited edition of 300 only add to the allure of this 10-ich release. It looks like there are some copies left, order here.