Saturday, January 28, 2017

Moldy Oldies: Ransacking My Archives

Camaro Hair: Rye Coalition's 2003 magnum opus
I just unearthed a pile of record reviews I had written for the metal magazine Revolver back in the early 2000s. You know the magazine, the one whose covers regularly depict a motley crew of metal marauders scowling menacingly at you from the grocery aisle. It's all pretty silly. But who am I to judge? I actually wrote for the magazine for a few minutes, thanks to my old friend and colleague Nina, who was an editor there and who kindly gave me an opportunity to earn a few bucks writing reviews (and by few bucks, I mean a few; the pay was meager). As for my reviews, they're pretty short and they generally survey forgettable records by equally forgettable and now forgotten bands. 

So here are a couple of them, starting with Jersey Girls from Rye Coalition, a band that previous to this record, I had actually liked. They made some wonderful noisy post-hardcore in the 1990s, even teaming up with the almighty Karp for a split EP, before going full butt rock for the 21st century. I guess Dave Grohl produced one of their final recordings. Never heard it; can't say I was interested after subjecting my ears to Jersey Girls

The second review covers an album by the New Zealand neo-garage rock band D4. Who, you ask? Yeah, I don't remember either. 

Rye Coalition Jersey Girls (Tiger Style CD-EP) Two Stars
Modern, retro-minded bands typically celebrate and revisit banner rock years like 1977 or 1967, but not, say, 1981. Until now. On its new EP, New York’s Rye Coalition erects a rousing, albeit cheeky, tribute to the year of feathered mullets, combs in back pockets, and white Pony high-tops. From the CD’s cover art—an airbrushed mural of a cherry-red Camaro caressed by a bikini-clad vixen—to the sleazy anthems that bookend it, “Jersey Girls” is Rye Coalition’s campaign to put the cock back into rock. Some songs show Rye Coalition toying with a volatile mixture AC/DC and Jesus Lizard, but mostly this EP serves as a tribute to guilty pleasures and self-parody. –Joe Ehrbar

The D4 6Twenty (Flying Nun/Infectious) Two Stars
Were it not for the Swedish Invasion or America’s so-called rock revival, the D4 wouldn’t arouse much interest outside the dingy bars of its native New Zealand. But garage rock is this week’s flavor, and as such second-rate bands like the D4 are getting first-rate hype. To be fair, the D4 is a solid combo; its live show as intoxicating as a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. And while the quartet’s 6Twenty wields righteous rumblers in the lusty “Ladies Man” and the barn-storming “Invader Ace,” too often it sounds derivative and cliché. Stacked next to albums by the Hives or White Stripe, 6Twenty lacks the spark, charisma, imagination, or even balls to get the job done. Is it any wonder the album’s fifth track is titled “Running on Empty”? –Joe Ehrbar

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Fantasies of a Country Clown

File under Comedy/Fantasy: Miserable Moe Bandy's 1979 vinyl turd, It's a Cheating Situation.

Sorry, Moe, but you're dreaming. That said, I doubt your sister (or right hand) will mind.

Monday, January 2, 2017

For the Birds (and Goodwill Bins): Cock Robin

At the height of the 1980s cock rock phenomenon emerged an altogether different band of cock rockers, the inimitable, though short-lived synth-pop sensation COCK ROBIN. Owing nothing to the sausage fest sounds of Hollywood's Sunset Strip, this American band had to cross the Atlantic to achieve cock stardom. And achieve it they did, if only for a boner's duration.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Wretched Records and Crappy Covers: Both Sides of the Covenant Four

And the Grammy for Most Laughable Use of a Picnic Tablecloth on an Album Cover goes to...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fat Stevens

Following the photo shoot for Swedish folk singer Cornelis Vreeswijk’s homage to Evert Taube, the six-string acoustic cradled in the sweaty embrace of Cornelis’s ample, unburdened loins required months of intensive counseling and a full refinish. So traumatized was the guitar, nicknamed “Raggmunk” after Cornelis’s favorite potato pancake recipe, it never played the same again. Some say that the humiliation Raggmunk was forced to endure at the hands of a hack photographer bent on transforming his subjects into steamy sex symbols caused Raggmunk to lose his will to carry a tune. Nonetheless, the guitar remained close with his owner, Vreeswijk, often spending many hours with him on the couch—not playing, though, but watching their favorite films, Lee Hazlewood’s Cowboy in Sweden and Torgny Wicket’s Anita: Swedish Nymphet. And when Vreeswijk succumbed to liver cancer in 1977, Raggmunk mustered the strength to perform an elegy to his mate at his funeral. Appropriately, it was a meditation on the song “Nudistpolka” (no translation necessary) from the infamous Cornelis sjunger Taube LP (“sjunger” means “sings”). It was also Raggmunk’s last performance. As he downstroked the final chord of his poignant tribute, Raggmunk did so with such cathartic force that his strings snapped, filling the mouse-quiet cathedral with a ringing cacophony of profound sorrow. Raggmunk then collapsed on the altar, just a few feet from Vreeswijk’s coffin (a reinforced refrigerator box), his neck breaking off in the process. Sobbing, Cornelis’s brother, Gard, scooped up the broken and now deceased Raggmunk and placed him tenderly in the cardboard casket atop the corpse of his brother. Luckily for Raggmunk, this time Cornelis was wearing pants.

Yes, this is a work of fiction. No need to get upset.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cat Fancy!


Wilco dropped a surprise free album last week to the delight of dad-rockers everywhere. I love the band's choice of cover art, although I don't love it as much as the cover of Gas Huffer's Just Beautiful Music from 17 years ago. I prefer the music on Gas Huffer's record, too, but I've always been partial to this defunct Seattle garage-punk band, plus I only just started listening to the Wilco album. (I'll give Wilco's latest opus some more time to make itself at home in my fatherly middle-aged brain.) Anyway, seeing Wilco's new Cat Fancy-approved record only makes me miss Gas Huffer even more. Perhaps one of these days I might work up the energy to pen a fitting tribute to the band. I doubt I will, though. I have a hard time writing about the things I love; my mind just gets constipated with incoherent thoughts that never quite mature into anything of use. So for now I'll just say that if you haven't huffed from the potent catalog of Gas Huffer, there's no time like the present now to start. Begin your journey with 1991's Janitors of Tomorrow (Empty) and keep right on trucking all the way through the band's final album, 2005's Lemonade for Vampires (Estrus).