Freak Scene #36

April 27, 2009

Every other Monday, Jamie Johns draws attention to the choicest selections of the weird underground. In this edition of Freak Scene: a rundown of X! Records' Detroit noise and fuzz compilation Shiftless Decay

I know that I start just about every column with something along the lines of "OH MAN, what a wild two weeks!" or "I haven’t slept in three days, watch me write something totally cuckoo about this nutso record!" so I am going to avoid that this time around. However, both of those things still stand. Also, for the record I am not a wild partier—I stay up all night and do work. A-boo-hoo-hoo. This week I want to talk about Shiftless Decay, a new compilation on X! Records that documents the last few years of music from Detroit.

Most of the jams are sloppy, fuzzy, loud, heavy, and the like, meaning, words that describe the experience of sweating beer and waking up in a pile of vomit with facepaint on. Tyvek are definitely the most "famous" band on here and if you haven’t already accepted Tyvek into your life, THE TIME IS NOW. Do you really want to pass up this band when the cover art for their debut full length looks like THIS?

The comp is a lot more than Tyvek and friends though. Little Claw (which does include a member of Tyvek, so maybe disregard the previous statement?), now relocated to Portland and are responsible for one of my favorite tracks on the record. This song has been featured elsewhere, but the version on this comp is rougher, terser. Like most of the other tracks on this comp, it is mixed loudly and to some ears it might sound poorly recorded. You can barely make anything out in the mix except for one very, very loud guitar and singer Kilynn’s vocals which—on this version—sound kind of threatening. Everything else is just a big muddled mess…and I love it! Outside of this comp, they have songs that sound like twisted beach party movie soundtracks or which take the sweet indie pop love song and flip it on its head, turning it sinister

I am newly converted to Human Eye after hearing frontman Timmy Vulgar’s side project, Timmy’s Organism, who have a beautifully packaged new 2x7-inch on Sacred Bones. Human Eye play a seriously damaged strain of punk with electronics thrown over the top, which sound like the mutated and radiated tentacles they use in their stage show. The tracks by Terrible Twos and and Heroes and Villains also warrant many repeated listens, same goes for the THTX track. Heroes and Villains lean more to the pop side of things as far as this comp goes, but their other work is a bit more Loop than Postcard. At the risk of sounding trite, you know when a group of hallucinogen-addled hippies take a road trip in the movies and there is always some heavy, wild, and psychedelic riff-heavy song playing? THTX’s "Monorails to Nowhere" sounds like that.

A lot of the groups featured on the comp take from psychedelia and a lot of them seem to be fascinated with either monsters/the things underneath your bed or your stairs or anything gooey, dirty, or mutated. I am way into this compilation, you can get it here.

In the words of a chant from last year’s No Fun Fest “New York Sucks! Michigan Rules!”??


Jamie Johns

4304 Lerner Hall

2920 Broadway

New York, NY 10027

From The Collection:

Freak Scene
Posted: April 27, 2009
Freak Scene #36