BULB RECORDS

 

 

 

25 Suaves - 1938

First things first, everything you’ve heard about this record is true. It IS one of the best rock records in decades. No way to deny that. That is, of course, if your taste in rock records include such venerable shredd-fathers as Motorhead, Judas Priest and Venom. There’s also a correlation here between 25 Suaves and Andrew WK (both cut their musical teeth on the same Mid-Michigan gristle)…both are "avant-garde" types who also like to party hard in the daylight, and have decided to revist their roots, armed with the new tools of the trade. "I Get Wet" was built from a noise blueprint, a carefully controlled roar of what seemed like hundreds of guitars that had as much to do with Pain Jerk as Hanoi Rocks.

25 Suaves is like the anti-matter, the misanthropic hessian soundtrack with splatter rock ID tags. Unlike even the staunchest of classic metal albums, there’s NO slow songs, no ballads, no major-chord anthems here. Just end to end BURNERS, the type of which there might be three or four on the records that influenced "1938." Those records kept to conventional LP flow by allowing fast and slow, killer and a moment of breath. There’s NO PLACE TO BREATHE here, which is again why I keep bringing up splatter rock/noise, a place where giving the listener space to breathe is seen as a pussy move. This is metal of an almost unrivaled intensity, too soulful and catchy to be grind/gore/black metal, but too relentless to really be a Priest knockoff.

It’s really not trying to be either…the final track, titled "DEA305," is almost an intentional flaw in the perfectly sculpted Japanese vase. The added electronics (probably not keyboards per se) of Matt Brinkman (aka Meerk Puffy of Forcefield and many others) add just enough ‘90s avantry to push this out of the realm of mawkish imitation of influences. I mean really, how could it be? Probably a couple thousand of these will sell at best, many of them to people who have never strutted to "Machine Head," let alone unironically owned a copy of "Ace Of Spades." Its crossover appeal seems like it should be great, but probably won’t be. Even while cloaking itself in a late ‘70s guise, it can’t help but remind you that it’s something else entirely. Like Guy Maddin’s films, which look like they were shot in the ‘30s but obviously weren’t, "1938" could just as well have been recorded at any time since 1974, though it feels very NOW. Like all of the best records, metal or otherwise, it’s sounds apart from its own time.

And it slays your loved ones without remorse. I should probably mention that. This record KILLS. Stop with all this theory, poindexter…take some of that tax return money and invest it in this record and a neck brace.

V/A - Bulb Singles #1

The first eight Bulb 7"s are reprised in their entirety here, in the interests of "paying off those involved and being done with it," or so says the website. So if you want one of the 500 copies of this (they’ll go fast), you better get on the hump. And hump you will! This disc is a rhumba on tinfoil, a party in a can for the perpetually horny, terminally outcast demographic who’ve contemplated a night of beer drinking at home with the guys, followed by a late-night of shameful furniture humping to be a highlight of the week rather than an unfortunate lapse of judgement.

Couch’s legendary first single (also available on the "Glass Brothers" CD) brings the sex and the skronk into sharp focus, with an awesomely damaged trebly guitar sound and a swagger like Bruce Lee in a pimp hat. From there, most of the other stuff sounds more spazzy.

The first 7" by Prehensile Monkey-Tailed Skink (some name!) reminds me of another great "one single and they’re gone!" band, Thee Bringdownzz. The yowling and the guitar chugging, the crap-fi and the hazy-headed slow-motion-limbs of it all, it makes me weep with nostalgia for the ten minute span that both of these were probably excreted in (if history has taught us anything, it's that the window of opportunities for the early Bulb/Blackjack sound are embarassingly short).

The second Skink 7" is a half-step up in terms of talent and sound, but it’s still great anyway. "Kenneth" is a better use of the infamous Dan Rather-whompin’ anthem than R.E.M. or Game Theory combined…I’m guessing the inside of that guys head sounded more "thud, fuck" than "ching, changle."

The Monarchs give some room to breathe (as does the accidental five minutes of silence that ends track 12…whoopsie!) with their straight-ahead garage rock, real Estrus material. Good songs, but I wish the female lead singer would get a little psycho now and again.

The wild card here (or anywhere else) is Bullet In the Head (from Japan), who seem to favor tapes of looped bombing runs and bizarre African tribalisms to songs. That Bulb would release this with such disregard to whether or not anyone would buy it is something to be proud of, which is of dubious comfort considering that there’s probably a bunch of these rotting away in a box in the Bulb, uh, warehouse.

Shriek is probably the funnest of the bunch, a spastic no wave attack that doesn’t sound like your average late ‘90s spastic no wave attack, and is blessed with a sense of humor: check out "Candy-Ass Motherfucker" and "Wakiyaku no Comedian (Second Banana)" for proof (the latter has the drummer playing death metal accents along with Japanese TV).

As explicitly "grab for cash" albums go, this is somewhere between "Having Fun With Elvis On Stage" and the Boretronix tapes in terms of how much fun you’ll have (my comedy album-snarfing youth allies me with the former, for what it’s worth).

MIKEY WILD - I Was Punk B4 U Were Punk

A hot find for those of you (like myself) that love to see the elder statesmen climb off the throne (or more likely, out of the gutter) to give the young whelps a good thrashin’ (what can I say, I’ve been curmudgeonly toward the youth of America since about puberty!), add this to your short stack of sure things, along with Black Randy’s "Pass The Dust, I Think I’m Bowie," Lester Bangs’ "Jook Savages On The Brazos" and Fes Parker’s "Combined Possibilities."

Mikey out slurs them all, though, with a vocal delivery that’ll send a chill down you the first time you hear it. Remember that first time you heard Johnny Rotten, Dock Boggs, Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston, Lydia Lunch, Adris Hoyos, Tom Waits, and your whole body did a spiritual spit-take? Mikey Wild has one of those kinds of voices, raw and lived-in, so off the one that the beat rearranges to catch up with HIM.

Like with James Brown, the band is really only there to support Mikey…any showoff moments only serve to accentuate the man in charge. Because Mikey is an original punk (he explains this in great detail on the title track, calling himself "The Mayor of South Street" and declaring "I was the first punk to see the Sex Pistols." More accurately, he’s probably one of the last SURVIVING punks who saw the Sex Pistols and is still living the life all these years later!), his band sounds like what proto-punk bands sound like. In other words, it doesn’t sound like the Dead Boys or the Clash or X-Ray Spex, but more like an amalgam of Dylan, the Stooges, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath, and strangely enough, they sound a LOT like "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"-era Crazy Horse, minus the guitar duelling. Mikey’s lyrics are usually just some incidental details relating to the title of the song, which makes up the meat of these three to five minutes testimonials ("Vincent Price…WASN’T VERY NICE!" or "I had a wet dream…I came in my bed last night!").

At first I kind of balked at the length of the record (almost an hour)…who ever heard of a punk double album? (don’t say "London Calling." You know what I mean.) But now it makes sense. Despite the terminology, this isn’t really a punk record, it’s a ROCK record, sort of a double-live (some of it is live, actually). It’s long so that you can sit around with friends and drink more than your fair share of beer without having to flip the record over all the time. This record would sound great in a three-disc changer on random with any of the Electric Eels anthologies and Fear’s second album (that’s coming out on CD soon, I think) in the other spots.

Not recommended for punks, though. Punks got no sense of humor.

WOLF EYES - Live At the Bulb Clubhouse CDR

This is a strange one in the Wolf Eyes canon. It’s almost free improv at some points. There’s real drums (or at least real cymbals) in addition to the poot-beats, giving an endless drum coda sound to lots of the half hour track. There’s also some inhuman growls (like Dead Hills) and a lot more reel-to-reel/found tape voices than I remember hearing on other records. Unlike the usual 0-to-160 rev up of their live shows, this builds slowly, and it’s not really until the 18th minute or so that things start getting really overloaded. It also still sounds pretty different from any of the three times I’ve seen Wolf Eyes live, which should be a recommendation unto itself (as is the $6 cover price).