Saturday, September 1, 2012

Buzzmutt - Static In the Mind's Eye Chpt 1

Buzzmutt – Static in the Mind’s Eye – Chapter 1

Earlier in the year I ventured out of the house to see a reasonably well-known American psychedelic band who were really just Black Sabbath clones in different clothes and haircuts, not that there’s anything wrong with that unlike paraphrasing hit and miss TV comedy shows. The band asked for no photos to be taken and the mirror ball with the lights took care of that anyway because most of the pictures wouldn’t have turned out. Listening to Buzzmutt from San Francisco, it’s easy to picture them using the lighting and mirrorball as another instrument or even a separate band member.

There’s no faking pscychedelia in Buzzmutt’s music; these guys are not just weekend flare wearers and incense burners. It would be totally incorrect to state that there is a hallucegenic undertone because if Hunter s. Thompson was to be in a band Buzzmutt would be that band. The band conveys a spaced out airiness in songs like “The Trickster” and “Adjusted Sight”. The rythym section proves their worth in “Coming To”. If chemical lounge jazz swing isn’t a genre yet then “I Don’t Remember Pain” sets a precedent. “After That” rubs with a Velvet Underground rawness vocally although there’s a pervading spring of a puppy here too. Stylistically these guys are capable of going all over the map while retaining their own sound and testament to that is when garage punk parks up and yells and sings “Sharp like Razor”. Pleasurable distortion without added weird primal effects sums up “Jungle Zombie”.

These guys sent me an email describing their music as noisy experimental indie rock kind of stuff. The word "expreimental" is often used in musician speak and means only listenable to the band and a few of their friends. Believe me, that’s not the case here. All too often twelve songs from an unknown band wear out there welcome however Buzzmutt have abided by the review rulebook and followed Rule 1117 section E, which categorically states don't make each song sound the same but if you do then make certain that your band don't sound like shit. Unfortunately most bands don't even read the rulebook past page 3, the forming a band section.

Buzzmutt may have their own sound but one song sounds different enough to another for them to not only get away with it but for the length to make sense. No complaints about this release being too short either from this reviewer. It’s available from their bandcamp site at a price of your choosing or on cassette from the band.


Buzzmutt's bandcamp

Buzzmutt on facebook

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Five of the worst albums complete with reviews

These are some of the worst albums that came my way while I was writing for the now defunct webzine, Peacedogman. The poor albums often were the easiest to write about and the average unsurprisingly provided nothing inspiration wise. Truly the worst was a French punk band, Arrach. Their album "Artisans Du Chaos". who sounded a lot like Biohazard except with heavy French accents and they committed a Bad Brains cover to CD which served to prove how bad they were and just how good Bad Brains can be. I gave them a 0/5 rating which they weren't too happy with and sent me an unhappy email accussing me of being a stupid American and being like all the other Americans since the website was based in the US. Unfortunately I've lost the email and can't find the review since I stupidly didn't save either so they were half right. So anyway here are a few of the reviews.

5)Sanctification "Black Reign"

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Neither should a paragraph start with a cliche but convention and rules were invented to be broken. Swedish death metal band Sanctification either missed the memo about crushing the rules or the meaning got lost in translation. “Black Reign” is like when you get a packaged box for Christmas. You give it that shake that lets you know that someone was incapable of thinking of a more imaginative gift than a box of chocolates. The blame clearly lies firmly on the shoulders of the “Forest Gump”scriptwriters.

The expected down-tuned guitars, blast-beats, asthmatic elephant blowing through a snorkel vocals are all present on this album. The clear but gruff spoken chorus of the title song is the closest these guys come to any semblance of melody. “Thirst for Blood” is relentless with crushing riffs over pounding drums. Soundwise Sanctification edge closer to Deicide than Dismember. However most of the songs are the songs are mid-tempo so they blur together. Instead of invoking the feeling of being run over head on by a Mac truck which then reverses to make sure the job’s completed and leaving the victim flattened and incapable of passing on stories to his grandkids, “Black Reign” just leaves a listener flat due to its generic nature.


4)I Love Rich “Season Of The Rich”, 2009

Chicago band I Love Rich channel Kiss both musically and lyrically. Discerning whether they’re serious or stretching a band parody as far as it can go when they only thank themselves for being so fucking awesome because everyone else go paid and boldly declare “All lyrics by RICH because honestly, only he could come with lyrics this bad ass”.   Sleepless nights spent thinking out the lyrics to the homage  “Let’s fuck all night” are highly doubtful.    The tongue in cheek “I’m Only Here Because Your Sister Said No” easily wins the best song title.  A knife with a serated punk edge gently cuts through still leaving a heavy chunk of glam metal in “Everybody’s Getting Laid Tonight”. The rawness of the procution here and a couple of the later songs weakens the overall sound bringing the words: filler material to mind.  Whilst it’s not difficult to appreciate the lack of seriousness on the five songs on this EP, I Love Rich come across as nothing more than a coattail riding novelty act.


I love rich website

3)Yet another band obviously boasting extreme stupidity when it comes spelling their own moniker. The extra "o" chosen perhaps because they've soaked themselves in nu-metal or they're pushing the boundaries and the English language deserves a beating once in a while.
The band take on the listener with monotonous death grunts placed everywhere, chugging over Pantera riffs, the whole done-to-death stop/start breakdown reigning supreme. These guys want you to know they're edgy: "Pot Pie" has a sample mentioning seventeen swear words (go ahead and take a random stab at what the first lyrics are). The song proves crossing Korn with death metal is as terrible in practice as it is in theory. A hamfisted nomeansno and Victim's family jazz-punk guitar bridge swings in "Someone Kill Don Henley", but while those bands knew where to place their off-kilter explorations, it just doesn't work well for VAMPIRE MOOOSE as it's all too clear they're stretching beyond themselves. The Tool worship of "Angra Manyu" is a square peg in a round hole, and "La Tumba" is a weakly-inked facsimile of the PANTERA song "Walk". The angry pig vocals may be different but this was obviously written in less than two minutes. I'd say credit the band for another daring move, but it won't pay off as we're ten songs in and I seriously doubt many will have the endurance to make it this far.
While there are some amusing movie samples, the actual music on "The Reel" is a bigger patience-tester than waiting in a queue to see the latest blockbuster movie. But unlike enduring this nu-groove death metal borefest, buying tickets for a decent flick is typically a worthwhile experience.


Skullfower “Strange Keys to God’s Firmament”, 2009
Exercises in excess aren’t necessarily a bad thing.  That extra burger, for example, will taste as good as the first and ensure the hunger is filled and that your stomach stops rumbling at potentially embarrassing moments.   Skullflower have taken a huge risk releasing a double drone album with the hope of quenching a listener’s thirst for more of their music.

The music consists of feedback loops and monotonous guitar fuzz not miles stylistically away from the dirge of Sunn 00))).  Even with the differing song lengths, it’s incredibly difficult to discern one song from another over the course of the two discs. “Blackened Angel Wings Scythe the Blowing Void” will take up back if you can remember the days before 24 hour television as it sounds TV static turned up as loud but with cement mixers churning in the background.  Water being blasted to clean a decade of gunk build up off concrete as holes are powerdrilled is what comes to mind listening to “Chaotic Demons Fly Into My Eyes”.    There’s a feeling that something might actually happen is conjured in the fourteen minute “Gateway to Blasphemous Light” with its Iommi tone and sparse drumming.  However I’m left twiddling my thumbs.

While “IIIrd Gatekeeper” had a captivating drum and bass sound and the tracks had definite beginnings and ends.  murky monotony of sound buried deeper than necessary on “Strange Key’s to God’s Firmament”.   The drum sound is barely present as it has been muffled into oblivion and the tracks just go on for far too long without any real changes This album really only proved useful after a day of  drinking about fifteen cups of coffee plus more than a few Cokes, I reached for this album knowing that it  would be the ideal antidote to a sleepless night. On the negative side, the two discs are near impossible for anyone to digest in one sitting.  If Skullfower’s goal was to make an album very few would manage to listen to right through this album is a success story.



Balls - “Chameleon” , 2008 (BLP)

When this digipak fell out of my review packet I couldn’t tell whether the band name was Chameleonn or Balls.  Either way I didn’t have high hopes as both names seem equally uninspired and immediately decided this would be the last review CD I listen to.  Then a look at the press sheet reveals that Balls are Swedish.  My hopes are up as in recent years Sweden has produced a great many quality rock, punk and metal bands.

I shove this Balls  album and unfortunately my initial instinct is confirmed.  The album opens with the AC/DC inspired “Camper” and Björn Lodin does a reasonable Brian Johnson imitation for 2 minutes but then his voice breaks into sounding like a man with the flu in need of blowing his nose.  He’s the major deficit on “Chameleon”.  The press sheet writer’s thesaurus must have listed terrible as a synonym for distinctive.  That’s how his voice is described.  Balls play W inspired hard rock so the awful voice is too often just not suited to the music.  The second song “Chameleon” has King's X backing harmonies which only serve to point out how awful this guy’s voice.  They’re really good.  There is a punchy guitar sound here and there all over the album but it’s not present enough to give the listener a needed rest from those awful vocals.  “Jealousy” sounds like it could have been a mid eighties hard rock radio hit.  There is some great soloing and backing vocals on “Locked Up and Crazy”.

Looking at the band photo, the  bass player and drummer are about twenty years younger than the rest of the band who should have known better than release this album. The drum and bass sounds are often inaudible or just plain missing.  Like those Idol television shows this album offers the challenge to see how much you can listen to without wincing.


Balls on myspace

That's the list. There are a few omissions but reviews can be painful work and it's far more rewarding to hear a band that you enjoy so five of the best albums is up soon.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Five favourite personally recorded live videos and war movies

There was a time when I'd go to show and record songs I liked by live band on my cheap digital cameras. These days I'm lucky to even get to shows for various reasons and when I do I tend to take pictures rather than record. Often the sound wasn't the best but then again, who expects studio quality sound when you see a band live and then for it to be replicated on a camera? The best venue in Wellington to record bands was Valve(R.I.P.) because it was possible to stand on a sofa at the back and zoom in as the crowd surged forward.

Anyway here's the list:

5) First up, members of the terrible band name club from Melbourne's A Death in The Family. The band had a sound somewhere between Leatherface and Hot Water Music. I found out today that the band called it quits in January this year. I only ever heard their first album, "This Microscopic War", which I still play from time to time. Here's "Let's Lose" at Valve.

4) Punkfest was a yearly event in Wellington and I made it to two of them at the Wellington Car Club in Newtown. The first year I made it Nelson's Basura Blanca blew me away because they didn't seem to be like most the other bands who fitted firmly into the hardcore or punk genre instead were closer to the post-punk approach of Fugazi.

3)The next year, Hamilton's Dick Dynamite and The Doppelgangers were the oddfellows coming from a psychobilly background and clearly owning a drumkit that came without a stool.

2) UK Subs have become somewhat frequent visitors to these islands. I first heard them on one of those ROIR live cassettes back in the 80's and in his on-stage banter vocalist, Charlie Harper was going on about how he was so much older than the audience back then so nothing has changed. "Warhead" was a song that always stood out. I was asked to record another band via youtube messages because they really liked the way this one was done. Personally, I think I just got lucky wtih the recording here.

1) Two piece garage rockers, The Hasselhoff Experiment announced their last Wellington show and there was no way I was going to miss it. I remember absolutely hating the first support band, Golden Axe and liking the next band who don't remember the name of but do remember that they all dressed up as cavemen. Anyway The Hasselhoff Experiment delivered and I'm pleased with the way this video turned out even if I was knocked from the chair I was standing on whilst filming.

Weirdly this Flying Nun clip has even less views than my live clips but that may well because it has only been up for 9 months so far.


Five top five war movies

1) Das Boot
2) Full Metal Jacket
3) Saving Private Ryan
4) The Killing Fields
5) Empire Strikes Back

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dag Nasty - Field Day

Taking a break from five of the best for a re-post due to a reader's request.

Happy New Year. After saying that music download file blogs suck I've decided to post an out of print album for download. So I guess my New Year's resolution is to stop saying things I will later contradict(actually it's not).

Anyway now that it's 2008 it's been 20 years since above pictured album was released. Dag Nasty were a highly influential pop-punk band during the 80s. Some credit them with being one of the originators of the emo movement. I first heard of Dag Nasty in the late 80s/early 90s due to pre-internet tape trading being one way of discovering new bands(to you). I was interested in hearing Minor Threat and was sent a tape with Dag Nasty's Wig Out at Denko's album because Dag Nasty featured ex-Minor Threat members. To my ears at the time, the more personal lyrics and punk sound crossed with pop was much more appealing than Minor Threat's straight edge thrash which had lyrics and a philosphy that meant nothing to me.

Eventually I discovered a double CD which had both Dag Nasty's Wig Out at Denko's album and Can I Say. Can I Say features Dave Smalley(who is now better known for fronting Down By Law) on vocals and retains a hardcore punk sound but Wig Out at Denko's has Peter Cortner on vocals and largely due to his vocals is more pop-orientated.

Dag Nasty had a reputation as a straight edge band partially due to having an ex-Minor Threat member. The Wig Out at Denko's song Crucial Three hints at the 'rules' of straight edge set down by Minor Threat. However during the time of Field Day Dag Nasty had decided to experiment with being coke-heads so some of the band's recording budget disappeared on 'inspiration'. At times it sounds like Peter Cortner is singing with a bad dose of the flu. However the song All Ages Show sounds like it could have come from Field Day and was my reason for searching high and low for this album. Field Day never earned Dag Nasty any money however Peter Cortner still receives royalties from Wig Out. The band cover The Ruts song Staring at the Rude Boys, Wire's 12XU (when the band played this live many people thought they were discovering the guitarist's better band as Minor Threat also covered the song. There are re-recordings of the songs I've Heard and Under Your Influence(which features a tacky Led Zeppelin 'baby baby' part) which originally appeared on Can I Say with Dave Smalley on vocals.

Field Day is very much a mixed bag of alternative/pop/punk/metal and at least one song sounds rooted in 80s glam metal. It seems fitting that guitarist Brian Baker joined the glam metal Junkyard a year after the recording of this album. After Dag Nasty finished touring this album they became more or less a studio band with Dave Smalley on vocals that seems to release an album every ten years.

Download Field Day here

Link is missing one song, sorry.

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High Priestess - High Priestess

Record Label: Ripple Music High Priestess are a recently new Los Angeles trio who play heavy psychedelic music. The band was formed...