Overlooked 90’s album of the week.

 

(8th worst album cover of the 90’s)

Shoegazer. Brit-Pop. Indie-Rock. Retro Nonsense. Their respective asses are served by The Boo Radley’s Giant Steps (1993). A subtle job on white-boy dub years before that was cool, a better noise pop than Mercury Rev, driven into nothingness by Creation’s coke-drenched negligence (1), and followed by lesser albums (2), this (true) song-cycle sounds like several bands heralded yesterday (literally, May 25) on Sirius’ sad “Left of Center” channel (that’s a compliment). Head to your nearest cut-out bin and drop that four dollars!! Better yet, steal it from the internet!!!

1. I could be wrong here. It’s been years since I’ve read My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize: The Creation Records Story (and I recently lent it out…please remind me to get this book back…another copy will not be found for a reasonable price), so the reason lurks somewhere in an unreachable part of my noggin.

2. The next two, Wake Up! and C’mon Kids are oooooooooh keeeeeeey. ’92’s Everything’s Alright Forever is a pretty strong, by-the-numbers shoegaze album that beats most of the usual MBV farts.

 

My succinct review of Babel

WAKE UP, PEOPLE!! I live in a fantasy world with the stupid comedies and romantic dramas, so I must hand it to the Arriaga/Gonzalez-Innaritu team for continuing the trend of stirring moviegoing and attending church/going to rehab into a blur. Thank goodness we have these merchants of emotional suffocation to hand out the needed shots of REALITY. That’s what movies are for. Time to leave your comfort zone!! I-N-T-E-N-S-E.

Like the equally unrelenting and pretentious 21 Grams, Babel feels like eminent disaster as each scene begins. This genre reached its pathetic conclusion with Crash, gave the movies of Todd Solendz an unfortunate reason to exist, and should have ended with American Beauty. Sure, they look different, feature disparate cultures, but the message is the same: We need constant reminders of just how fucked-up the world has become. You know what does a good job of letting me know how fucked-up life can be? Life.

 

Self-Promotion Update

Good news!!

The next time you’re loitering in a book store or dumpster diving, look for my various pieces in both The Onion and Harp Magazine, two brand new additions to my resume. Maybe you should buy Harp, so I can continue writing for them, and The Onion is free.

I’m especially excited about the Harp feature (should be the issue hitting stands next week). It’s an extensive interview with Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster of…Scharpling and Wurster fame, plus a sidebar history of seminal comedy duos.

For The Onion, I’ll be penning an essay about Marilyn Manson (among other things). Yep.

PEACE OUT!!

Surviving On Crumbs

Well, I’m still here. I guess that’s the good news.

I’ve survived May Day, with its illiterate marchers:

These posters (above) were everywhere. Everywhere. You just have to wonder about people who’d represent themselves like that. Let alone march with a huge banner with a boner like that in it. (You may have to click the photo to get my point here). Thanks to Kean for snapping this.

* * *

I’ve survived Christi Himmelfahrt, the silliest-named German holiday, on the 14th, which is also “Men’s Day,” with men roaming the city drinking beer until they can barely stagger. This is, as you may have parsed, Ascension Day. What that has to do with men in particular I have no idea. But it’s a good day to hole up inside. I had to go to Hauptbahnhof, though; I had no idea it was a holiday.

Modest suggestion, Germany: In America, you’ll find signs on many businesses saying, for example, “We will be closed all day on Tuesday, December 25, Christmas Day.” Now, Christmas is not only a date everyone in the U.S. recognizes, but it’s one that never changes. It’s always December 25. Things like Ascension Day and Whitsun (which is this weekend: stuff is closed on Monday, folks) change according to Easter, the date of which is different every year. I know courtesy isn’t big around here, but if Berlin is, as it pretends, a “world city,” perhaps it might actually act like one and tell those of us who practice other religions, or no religion at all, when the religious state holidays are.

Hauptbahnhof was jammed, of course, but not with as many drunks as I’d anticipated. The downstairs is still dark and gloomy, but the Diplodocus skeleton upstairs is a nice touch.

* * *

I survived the reopening of Tresor, although, of course, I didn’t go. For me, Tresor will always be the basement of the bombed building it’s named for, and even that turned into a bridge-and-tunnel-kid club before it closed down. Several people sent me an IHT story about Dmitri’s plans for his new location. Not that he’s ever asked my advice, but first I’d do something about the name. By the time he finally finds the dough to make this happen — if he ever does — people will have long ago forgotten what a “modem” is.

* * *

I’m surviving Spargel season.

I have to say, I don’t see the attraction of white asparagus, which is what Germans invariably mean by “Spargel.” It seems fairly tasteless, is often quite fibrous (not always: when my pals Ranya and Susanna had a restaurant they could make it well), and is served in such boring ways — with ham and boiled potatoes, with schnitzel and boiled potatoes, with Béarnaise sauce dumped over it most of the time, or just plain butter — that I tend to avoid restaurants during the season. (Well, being broke has something to do with it, too).

Fortunately, the Vietnamese guy I buy lots of vegetables from has a good supply of superb green asparagus at remarkable prices, and thanks to him I’ve discovered roasted asparagus, which gives it a totally different flavor, due to the caramelization of sugars I’d never guessed existed, although, in retrospect, they’re certainly there. There’s just so much flavor in green asparagus I’m eternally grateful it’s not in such high demand around here, making it easily found and affordable for the likes of me. But, if a recent trip to the outdoor market in Hackescher Markt means anything, the Germans may be catching on. I just had to snap that label!

Fitness: yes, actual vitamins’ll do that to you…

* * *

And I expect I’ll survive Burger King’s unsettling campaign for its new sandwich: Long Chicken. No relation — I don’t think — to Long Pork.

GHOSTLY 70s DIY TWANG FROM THE UK

I’m posting two lost tracks from the halcyon days of do-it-yourself bedroom recording in England, captured in large part by the MESSTHETICS compilations that roll off the presses a couple times a year. These two are uncomped, at least in CD form, and are favorites of mine that I’ve come to know in recent years. I thought it was high time that I shared them – because now I can! The first is a creepy haunter from a band called SUBVERSE. Finding any sort of information about it or them online is impossible, so I’ll tell you what I know. It comes from an LP compilation called “STARFORCE STUDIOS – COMPILATION 1”. I’m going to guess at a date of 1979. That’s when much of these lost sounds were being laid down, and that’s a year that will probably go down as being, on whole, the most depressing in England’s recent history. “Chance Romance” has the feel of being recording whilst looking out the window on a 40-degree, fog-shrouded day at dole queues stretched around the block amid a grim miners’ protest. Good times!

DEVIL’S DYKES (pictured here) are a wild-ass party by comparison. This jaunty holler of a number from a Brighton band was originally found on a 1978 comp called “VAULTAGE 78” , and if you like what you hear here, you can grab the whole compilation by clicking over to here (and ’79 and ’80 too). Just promise you’ll come back to Detailed Twang when you’re done.

Play or Download SUBVERSE – “Chance Romance”
Play of Download DEVIL’S DYKES – “Fruitless”

“TOURING BANDS ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL”

A podcast you rock-n-roll luvahs might enjoy is one I finished listening to this very morning – the always-great NEST OF VIPERS podcast has a thing on touring bands, sharing their stories of car accidents, cop encounters, hotel fires and Philly cheesesteaks. Chuck Prophet (Green On Red), Anthony Bedard (Icky Boyfriends, Resineators, Gaping Wounds) and Gil Ray (Game Theory, Loud Family) join host Danny “Danny P” Plotnick for an hour’s worth of roadmouth. Great fun – download it here.

Rockstar –Over The Hill

Rockstar –Over The Hill/Mummy –MCA 265 (UK 1976)

A rare 70s outing by ex Move man Ace Kefford. The autobiographical Over The Hill is a solid rocker on the periphery of JunkShop Glam, Kinda like Hector attempting to do a Quadrophenia…It features some loud cutting guitar and a fine production by Steve Rowland. Mummy is pretty haunting and dramatic, the song builds and builds and is a real grower. These two tracks are compiled along with other tracks on the Ace The Face CD. http://www.acekefford.com/

Click on title for an edit of Over The Hill

TWO STEAMROLLERS FROM fEEDTIME

There was this compilation of mostly current Australian punk & art/noise I bought in the mid-80s called “WHY MARCH WHEN YOU CAN RIOT?”, and it was a mind-expander for several reasons. First, it featured three tracks from the Australian band X that are among the greatest punk rock songs ever recorded – “Hate City”, “Home Is Where The Floor Is” and “TV Cabaret Roll”. If you think “X-ASPIRATIONS” is a masterpiece, and I do – these tracks are even better. I’m going to post all three in an upcoming entry.

Alongside debut recordings from the HARD-ONS (whoopee) and lesser lights, there were also two tracks from Sydney’s fEEDTIME that blew me and many others clean away. fEEDTIME (the small f is deliberate) were a trio who played a propulsive, mechanical, wicked-fast, sometimes bluesy punk rock, sounding like a band of the 21st Century who just happened to be stuck in the 20th. I’d never heard anything like them before, and still haven’t since. A lot of us in the United States took notice pretty quickly, and they got a US distribution deal for their LPs, which were all over the place for a while there in the late 80s. Forced Exposure magazine were a particularly enthusiastic proponent. Me, I thought the LPs were good, but spotty and uneven. In 1987 a 45 came out with new versions of the two songs that were on “Why March When You Can Riot” – “Don’t Tell Me / Small Talk”. They were good, just not as powerful and angry & weird as the ones from the 1985 comp that I’m posting for you today. Listening to them now makes me want to dig out the fEEDTIME records for a reappraisal. Anyone have an opinion on how they’ve held up? In the meantime, here’s what I still think were the band’s finest moments.

Play or Download fEEDTIME – “Don’t Tell Me”
Play or Download fEEDTIME – “Small Talk”

(both from 1985 “WHY MARCH WHEN YOU CAN RIOT?” compilation LP)