Here's what's up/Smash or trash.
Lately, I've been feeling like my internet routine is a drag on the things I want out of life. Well, just one thing--that I want to be a writer. And yes, I already AM a writer, but what I really mean is that I want to be a writer who does more with his writing than post it to a blogspot account once a week or so, trade a little bit of it once a year for about a dozen free CDs, and otherwise just carry it around in his backpack and never show it to anybody. I would really love to do it for a living, even if the living I earned from it reduced me to far more impoverished circumstances than the ones I already live in (and really, considering that I spent $75 on comic books today, I'm overstating the case where poverty is concerned). So I feel like something's gotta change. Things have been changing a little bit over the past week or so: I post on Twitter (here) but don't really read the people I'm following anymore, and I seem to have abandoned the message board on which I'm by far the most frequent poster. At least, I have over the past week or so, although I never planned to do such a thing and currently expect to get back to it at some point. But I'm still on the internet just as much--just doing different shit. Reading blog posts on my RSS feed, mostly. I'm also spending a significant amount of time texting back and forth with Eric about this comic book that he's writing, that he has decided to self-publish. I'm the editor, apparently. Not sure how I ended up with the position, but I'm not complaining--it's nice to help someone else get writing done, since it makes me feel more like I'm working on something that's actually good. I tend to think everything I write sucks--which I know is due to irrational perfectionism and self-esteem deficiency rather than any objective fact, but it's hard to separate from that mindset and evaluate my shit rationally. I wish I could do it.
God, I'm just rambling at this point, aren't I? This is the bloggiest thing I think I've posted on this blog ever. Sorry, guys.
I just came into a bunch of money recently, for reasons that aren't really important. But what I can tell you is that this money is going to allow me to purchase a new computer. I'm typing this right now on a 5 year old obsolete Dell desktop with 128 MB of RAM and 36 or so GB of hard drive space. It's all but useless on the internet, and once I get a new laptop (because that's what I'm getting, a laptop), I'll be taking this thing offline and moving it into my basement. There's a table down there, and it's going to become my offline workstation. Working on writing in the basement will probably be cold and a little uncomfortable, but the hope is that it will at least allow me to write instead of wasting my time on the internet all day. Meanwhile, my laptop will allow me to carry it to remote locations and use them as workstations as well. I can be "some faggot writing his novel on a laptop" (quote from "Generation Kill," referring to typical Starbucks clientele) at, uh, Panera Bread or wherever (I don't like Starbucks and I don't drink coffee anyway). My hope, my fervent hope, is that all of this will allow me to start churning out worthwhile verbiage like I did back when I was in high school and the world wide web didn't exist yet. Back then, when I killed boredom by getting onto the computer, it was to write. I want to get that back.
OK, that's what's going on in my life, as if you care. Now let's get to some of what you come here for: babble about music.
There was a time, maybe a year ago, when I was frequenting the sorts of message boards where people post full albums online for people to download. I was doing so much downloading from various places, both of stuff I was excited about and stuff I'd never heard of, that I filled up my 160 GB external hard drive with zip files of music I'd never heard. It wasn't until maybe two weeks ago that I finally decided to go through and unzip all of those files, so I could figure out what was on them and whether it was any good. A few of them were password protected, and I had to delete those, because who knows what the passwords might have been at this late date? But for the most part, they unzipped without a problem, and now, where I used to have 50 gigs of zip files, I've got 50 gigs of mp3s that I've never heard. I'm trying to give them all a fair listen, decide whether they're even worth keeping, but it's taking a while.
In order to speed things up at least a little tiny bit, tonight I'm going to do the "Smash or Trash" thing, so named because it was what one of the radio stations I listened to as a kid called their "let's see what the listeners think of this new song" feature. You know about that feature, right? You guys grew up listening to whatever station in your area called itself "The Home of Rock N' Roll" too, right? OK, I know you 30-somethings are feeling me, at least. You younger kids might be a little bit clueless. Whatever, who cares. Let's get to the music already. I've got 14 EPs queued up on my mp3 player, and we'll see how many I get to before I get bored of this shit.
First up, the Coconut Coolouts with their "Spin Around" b/w "Swim" 7 inch single. Immediately, I am a fan. "Spin Around" is some snotty midtempo garage, complete with that "da-da-da-dun!" type start-stop verse riffing that Jerry Lee Lewis used to excellent effect on the legendary "Great Balls Of Fire." This song doesn't sound like Jerry Lee Lewis, though; maybe more like The Sonics or something, though updated for modern sensibilities. By that, I mean that there's no piano or sax, just standard guitar-bass-drum-voice lineup. Things never get too fast, but nonetheless, the rhythmic propulsion of both songs is enough to keep you tapping your feet or even getting up to dance, if you're hyper enough (which I'm not--sorry to disappoint you).
Highlight: "Spin Around"
Next, Black Randy And The Metrosquad. I've been hearing about this epochal late 70s LA punk band for decades now, ever since I started being a total nerd about music and especially punk rock/hardcore music. This is the first chance I've ever gotten to hear them, though, and it's with their legendary single "I Slept In An Arcade." Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, or remembering the right details, but I had no idea that I should expect these songs to be driven by Farfisa-ish keyboards. Which they are, although there is also guitar on the record. The jaunty, catchy tunes here are fun and entertaining, but I have a feeling that they're more historical due to their role in the social evolution of punk rock than because they're true classics in the musical sense. "I Slept In An Arcade" is the sort of tune I can imagine putting on every now and then, while the B-side, an instrumental called "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose" (is this a 70s-era funk cover? James Brown? George Clinton, maybe?), is little more than a throwaway. Cool to hear, but it won't be making the heavy rotation around here.
Highlight: "I Slept In An Arcade"
Boris's "Statement" b/w "Floor Shaker" single is the exact sort of thing that I love the most from Boris. This Japanese stoner-noise band is capable of a lot of different stuff, but I'm happiest when their records concentrate on the heavy, fuzzy, biker-rock jams. "Statement" definitely fits that description, and I like it every bit as much as I like "Pink," title track and best song from my favorite Boris album. In fact, it was easy to say that "Pink" was my favorite Boris song before I heard "Statement," but I feel less confident in saying that now that I've heard "Statement." Given a few more plays, it could overtake "Pink." "Floor Shaker" is longer, more melodic, and has a dronier rhythmic quality than "Statement," making it less of a proto-metal fuzz jam and more like a bizarre cross between one of those and an 80s British guitar-heavy power-pop song. It's like Torche covering "Automatic" era Jesus and Mary Chain or something, which breaks my brain to imagine in the hypothetical but totally rocks my ass in the actual, especially when the big distortion overload kicks in for the last minute or so.
Highlight: both songs, really, but here's "Floor Shaker" because it's more musically interesting.
Time to shift gears with the CPC Gangbangs, a band whose single ("Teenage Crimewave" b/w "Blood On The Wall") I undoubtedly only downloaded because of their association with Fucked Up. I'm not sure what sort of association they actually have with Fucked Up, now that I think of it; I guess I just hear their names in the same places a lot. That's cool, though, because CPC Gangbangs appear to have at least some of the same goals as Fucked Up. This single is incredibly lo-fi, and therefore straddles the line between uptempo-but-not-actually-fast-per-se hardcore and snotty garage punk. I hear plenty of records like this that end up leaving a really bad impression on me, but this one is super-catchy, at least on the A-side, so overall I'm into it. The B-side being 3 times as long as the A-side is a strike against it, especially since the last third or so of it is post-actual-song noise babble, but the part of the song that's actually a song--the first four minutes or so--still rocks, so I'm not gonna hold the noise section against it too much.
Highlight: "Teenage Crimewave"
Hey hey, it's the Baby Shakes, with their "Tell Me Now" EP, featuring the title track on the A-side along with "Come On Babe," and "Baby It's You" on the B-side. Despite the reasonably generic titles, these are all originals, and they've got that same undistorted, catchy, girly poppiness that I think of when I think of Tiger Trap. The songs are written in a more 60s-pop vein than Tiger Trap's were--I think of that band as more indie-pop than anything else--and have a bit more distortion on the guitars than Tiger Trap generally did, but I get that same sweet, sugary pop confection-y feel from these three songs as I did from the Tiger Trap singles I played a lot when I was a teenager. For those of you who aren't really aware of Tiger Trap, whom I will admit are a bit of an obscure reference, think of The Fastbacks in their less caffeinated moments, more recent Mr. T Experience, or maybe even "Return To The Valley" era Go-Gos. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who can't find enjoyment in listening to full-on bubblegum of the sort purveyed by The Raspberries, but really, if you can't get into that shit at least every now and then, you've got no soul.
Highlight: "Baby It's You"
Let's do one more of these and then knock off, how about that? The self-titled EP by Needles features 6 songs instead of the 2 or 3 of all the other EPs thus far, and that's because it's angry, thrashy hardcore of the most frantic sort. These guys aren't hitting quite blast-beat tempos, but the drummer is hitting his snare as fast as he can without getting into that range, so these songs blow past at a rapid clip. In fact, the longest of them is still less than 90 seconds long. I don't always like stuff like this, especially with the whole 82 hardcore revival sound getting beaten to fucking death over the last five or so years, but I do like this a lot. I think it helps that Needles write riffs that don't bear all that obvious of a Black Flag influence (though there's still some), and that their singer is screaming so intensely that I can imagine his eyeballs bulging out of his face as he delivers his vocals. The shorter, faster tunes are the highlights here, but really, they're all pretty short, and they're all pretty fast, so this is generally a pretty great record.
Highlight: "Filling Holes"
Well hey, I didn't "trash" any of these! You guys are probably used to me liking pretty much anything I take time to write about, though, so hopefully that doesn't bum anyone out (haters). Don't worry, I'm sure that next time I do one of these (which I'm assuming will be in the relatively near future, although I'm generally unreliable where predicting what I'll write about at any given future time is concerned) there'll be something I don't dig all that much (maybe). Anyway, thanks for reading all the personal crap in this post (if you even did). Hope the 6 songs made up for it.