In this week’s Freak Scene, Jamie Johns gives a roundup of three of her favorite groups of late after a brief break from the column. Check out extended riffs on Slices, Lamps and Locrian after after the jump.
Freak Scene has been missing for a few weeks because like…things happened with bands, I had some feelings and then I had lots of homework to do. You know that part in Ghost where Whoopi Goldberg tells Demi Moore “You in danger girl?” Well, that’s how I feel about now. So here are some “most excellent” records I have been enjoying lately. Two are by bands that trade in doing it right and being short yet satisfying. The other is by a band that now has the tools to go somewhere really sweet and is moving there. Some of the records have been out a while but they are all still in print.
I am actually not quite sure what to say about Slices’ Cruising besides that it is a satisfying record for any time of day and an all-around wonderful record. For the working people of the world, it probably sounds great on your way to work. For the beer guzzling animal, I can imagine that songs like “Medusa” and “Laughing While Eating,” two of the choice cuts, sound great for destroying something. For the aging punk who could easily fit into either of the aforementioned categories, it probably makes you believe that the kids, although I don’t think these dudes are exactly kids, aren’t so lost after all, etc, etc. It has the right proportion of abrasive hardcore songs to weird bits; a rager will sit next to a cut of harsh electronics and it doesn’t feel forced at all. That combination seems to be less about making a statement than it is about putting one’s tastes on record. If you went to one of these guys’ houses you could probably find Age of Quarrel next to New Britain or whatever records you want to insert in for hardcore and noise. Or maybe there aren’t, but either way it doesn’t change that this is a top notch, “most excellent” record. I love it guys, I love it!
Cruising is almost immediately set apart from any and all other records of the same ilk—loud, abrasive, sludgy, a wee bit pervy—with its cover art. The band stands in front of industrial or something or other at night, dressed fancily, at least for hardcore guys, and standing next to a snazzy automobile. The name of the album is written in the same cursive font as the Cadillac logo. I am also deeply appreciative of the lyrics sheet because Cruising could have very easily gone into that whole “Blah blah, rape/torture/abuse, being PC is totally bad, fuck you guys blah blah” territory that has worn thin like…always – there is a song titled “Guide to Incest” on the record after all - but it doesn’t! And that doesn’t make it weak or any less interesting, quite the opposite since the same general misanthropy is explored here but in a different and refreshing way. Yes, refreshing but not like, limp dick or anything, OK? Get from Iron Lung HERE. I am not sure how many of them are left but move quickly?
I am bummed I missed Lamps’ East Coast tour last week since like, duh, they rule and singer Monty Buckles seriously has the most magical speaking voice I have ever heard. In the past two months - I think both of these were meant to be released in February but have slipped through slowly - Lamps have turned out two 7-inches, one on Dull Knife and one on Fan Death. I can’t choose a favorite since they are both quite good. “The Role of the Dogcatcher in African-American Urban Folklore” 7-inch on Fan Death has an A-side that bounces nicely but is also as close to aggro as the band has gotten? I don’t even know, I just like it and the little “Ah ah ah ah” part is undeniably catchy for a song with spat out guitar riffs. The “Niels Bohr was an Excellent Ping Pong Player” b/w “I’ve been on a Lot of Camels” 7-inch on Dull Knife is also a winner. Side A “Niels Bohr…” opens with an effective guitar line and it is just so easy to like, like a French Bulldog puppy. Lamps are always very effortless in execution or perhaps it is more appropriate to say that their music doesn’t feel forced at all. They do what they do incredibly well and I don’t really seem them making a bad record any time soon. There’s always something in their songs to latch on to, as seen in the four songs presented here, so even if you can’t roll with the blown out guitar bits, you can probably roll for that part in “Niels Bohr…” where Monty Buckles turns “Now he’s gone awaaa-ay-ay-ay” into a small chant. Get HERE from Fan Death and HERE from Dull Knife.
Four labels from three different countries and four collaborators, including Mark Solotroff from Bloodyminded and Blake Judd from Nachtmystium, join Locrian on Territories. I wasn’t that familiar with Locrian before this but Territories is as good and engaging an introduction as any. I fall on the side of enjoying the spaced out bleak ambient tracks on this record over the more black metal infused tracks. It is not that metal tracks like “Procession of Ancestral Brutalism” aren’t good, they are – lots of pained screeches and riffing but the first two songs on Territories, “Inverted Ruins” and “Between Barrows,” create such an atmospheric and engaging tone for the whole album that I found myself turning back to those songs more. “Inverted Ruins” features Mark Solotroff from Bloodyminded on vocals and his growls complement the repetitive guitar and creaky synths of the song nicely, creating a trance inducing piece and proving that in the case of Locrian collaboration does something more than just fill up a press one sheet. Bloodlust is sold out of the record but it is available through Small Doses for US customers, get it HERE.
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