Freak Scene #10

August 28, 2007

This week Freak Scene rides for Michigan's grinding Tyvek, Philly's pummeling Clockcleaner, Cleveland's glimmering Emeralds and dirty Australian Mick Turner.

It’s not too often theses days that we come across double 7”s and there’s a real hep new one by Tyvek entitled Summer Burns on the What’s Your Rupture? Label. Tyvek play urgent post-punk with hints of garage abandon. Hailing from Michigan this four-piece plays lo-fi rock of a classic variety recalling the late 70’s greats from Rocket From the Tombs to the Voidoids in their stripped down unaffected playing. Tyvek seem to tap directly into this minimal punk vein that’s pretty fucking classic. They seem to have the moves to pull this stuff off. Check the track “Frustration Rock,” which recalls the greatness of recent teenage anthems from contemporaries like Cause-CoMotion. Over these four sides Tyvek really establish something that I can co-sign; a fresh take on old favorites. Keep it coming. Let’s hope no one puts them in the studio with a “producer”. Would hate to see them turn slick.

It’s nice to see that Pennsylvania is churning out some serious scuzz lately. As if Pissed Jeans weren’t enough, Clockcleaner have been plugging away the last few years, leaving people equally bummed on their “attitude” or elated at their bombed out miserable slow thud. Its pretty clear listening to their debut Load album Babylon Rules that these guys are coming from the dark part of town., having recently been named the most hated band in Philly by the Philadelphia Weekly. It’s all about the menacing creep, a la vintage Butthole Surfers, Jesus Lizard and Halo of Flies. Yeah Clockcleaner are mean but they’re in no rush to beat you up. There’s a high level of sleaze factor involved that oozes nicely throughout the record. The guitars have a nice evil surf vibe. “Vomiting Mirrors” features a hearty “Waiting for My Man” piano attack. But its John Sharkey’s baritone stalker vocals that really make this album foam at the mouth. While they may have become infamous for pissing on lesser bands’ merch and calling bullshit on hipster drivel, they can back it up by legitimately playing some nasty shit. It’s great to hear a band that’s as un-PC as they are outspoken. Might as well get this now so you know what all the fuss is about. God bless the malcontents.

Back to the drones, Cleveland’s Emeralds have been making some serious moves lately. Although I did miss the 120-minute cassette on Gods of Tundra, I did get my hands on the Queen of Burbank Vol 2 CDR, beautifully printed on sandpaper by the Broken Research label. Here we have one extended piece of midnight dream music. This is about as solid a release as one can hope for newcomers to the scene. I’ve heard these guys are on the young side so hopefully this is only the tip of the iceberg. The resonance of the music echoes deeply throughout the disc, changing in tones but retaining its feel. While there is certainly plenty of company along these trails of late, Emeralds offer a decidedly clear undistorted view of contemporary drone music, relying on their sounds to evoke the meditative properties of its intent rather than bury their music in layers of fuzz or echo. This approach ensures a stronger melodic palette than many of Emeralds peers. There’s a slew of new releases from these guys on tap for this year, hopefully they will expand on their ideas and take things even further. For the time being at least, I’m definitely tuning in and dropping out.

I don’t really consider Drag City to be an especially “underground” label although they did reissue the Nig Heist recordings which signals a lack in taste that inspires a certain loyalty nonetheless. One artist they have continued to champion over the years is the incredible Mick Turner. As a guitarist, Turner weaves a kind of delayed, heavily oceanic sound that is immediately recognizable. He has backed Cat Power on her seminal Moon Pix album as well as several recordings with Will Oldham and of course as his work as one-third of the Dirty Three. Over the years Turner has released many excellent solo albums that showcase his delicate improvisations and gorgeously dreamy compositions. Often backed by either his Dirty Three drummer, the equally skilled Jim White, or by a loop pedal, Turner is player of mood and texture, not of flash and virtuosity. It often feels as if he reaches his climaxes by accident rather than by design. And of course the journey is always worth the ride. Drag City has handily collected a series of singles and rare tracks by Turner on a new disc entitled Blue Trees. This disc is in line with all of Turner’s releases and is as gorgeous and forthright as it is enrapturing. Turner’s solo work might be overshadowed by his well known ensemble and session work but it’s deserving of much more attention that it probably gets. While it may be hard to obtain tranquility in a shitty world, Blue Trees can help you attain some kind of peace of mind. If that’s not worth a bit if your paycheck I don’t know what is.

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Posted: August 28, 2007
Freak Scene #10