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If it looks like poo, smells like poo, and tastes like poo, then by all means, eat that shit!

 

LIGHTNING BOLT - Ride The Skies

Hide in the back. Set up your equipment covertly while the audience is watching the band onstage. Wait until their last note is hit. Then, as Dennis Hopper says in "Apocalypse Now," zap ‘em with your siren, man! Bring the hammer down, 9000000 watts of bass power and a drumset you use like a punching bag. Make ‘em dance, make ‘em mosh, make ‘em cover their ears…just make sure that not ONE goatee is stroked thoughtfully! Do it! Make ‘em dance!!! That’s the Lightning Bolt experience live.

"Ride The Skies" is pretty similar, or as much as it can be. They still play a lot of these songs, full-throttle burners like "13 Monsters" and "Wee Ones’ Parade," this wonderful, horrible mixture of punk, prog, zeuhl, metal and booty. Of course, what it misses (and sadly, what the video/DVD documentary "The Power Of Salad and Milkshakes" also misses) is the pure stink, the seething mass of exuberance, the overbearing heat, and a volume level that kills germs on contact, seeing all these people around you who wouldn’t move a muscle for a James Brown concert turning into the damn Lord of The Flies, frugging like they got an ass! It’s documented fact…you can’t go to a Lightning Bolt concert and not go completely out of your mind.

It’s not just the volume or the masks or the peer pressure, it really is the songs, especially the songs found on "Ride The Skies." It’s one of those rare occasions where the waaaay overused adage "good composers borrow, great composers steal" actual fits. Lightning Bolt stole the Ruins’ steelo, the dulcet bass tones off a nitro-burnin’ funny car, the beats of both the Meters and Minor Threat (a most peculiar two-headed Cerberus doggy), the flippery of Robert Fripp, and the touring tenacity of Willie Nelson and crafted it into something that’s wowed ‘em from New York to Lubbock, TX.

Their third album, "Wonderful Rainbow" is set to drop any day now, so it’s anybody’s guess if they’ll just stay at this level of mind-boggling for a while, or if they’ll actually try to beat last year’s record. Regardless, this is one of the few times that I’d encourage a band to do the same thing as on the last album. That way, ther’d be two albums in the world that sound even vaguely like this!

LIGHTNING BOLT - s/t

The previous album by everybody’s favorite live entity were a little more jittery and paranoid here. This reminds me of nothing so much as a mole burrowing it’s way into the ground, winding itself into tighter and tighter circles. A constant burrowing sound, like when Chevy Chase and his family are driving around the loop in London, trying to figure out a way to get off ("Hey look kids, it’s Big Ben!"), it’s hilarious and vaguely unnerving, and also a bit passive-aggressive, almost hostile (check out the Kickboy Face sample used twice on here). This contains the entirety of the debut LP for Lightning Bolt (also known as "the Yellow Record"), and an early cassette of even more exploratory sounds. This is a great record for people who’ve already fallen head over heels for "Ride The Skies," but it might not make much sense on its own. The Charles Bronson discography filtered through the musical sensibilities of an obsessive gopher.

THEE HYDROGEN TERRORS - Terror Diplomacy & Public Relations

This is a hard disc to sell you on. Not because it’s so weird, that’s the thing. If I come running up and tell you that I just heard a band that sounds like Tiny Tim playing Darkthrone’s "Transylvanian Hunger" on acoustic banjo, I’ll probably have your undivided attention. But, how about a case like Thee Hydrogen Terrors. They’re a rip-ass hot garage rock band with SST "stun guitar" tendencies and a lead singer that sounds a LOT like Chuck D. They sing about going through childhood with a girly bike ("Sissy Bar"), film festivals ("All Andy Warhol Weekend"), the price and quality of narcotics across the border ("Mexico"), and good concerts they’ve seen ("Radio To Saturn and Hackamore Brick"). Yep, rock band. Rock band.

In this day and age when everything seems so post-, pre-, proto-, and prog-, just buying a rock album almost sounds reactionary. It’s not, trust me. It might be the last revolutionary thing you can do now that everybody is "breaking down the boundaries!" Granted, this has some odd moments (the little concert/radio show collage in the middle, and the spoken credits at the end), but by and large, I could see this doing just fine on the fringe end of an Estrus compilation. It’s not new, but man, does it ever sizzle my steak. Guy Benoit’s singing, like Chuck D’s rapping, is just SO compelling, you may jump up and start a fan club of one in your pants part-way through "Mexico." He’s like that tough-but-nice friend you didn’t have in high school, who’d listen to you whine but would protect you from bullies and tell you what it was like to touch boobs. And he plays sax kinda like James Chance, at least that exuberantly.

Unlike Estrus garage rock bands, it’s modern, not retro, especially in the spindly guitar tone (though the cowbell usage is timeless). Give it two Chevy fins up and take it along for your epic car trip. You’ve got eighteen hours to make it to the border…I hear you can buy some incredible blow down there…

PLEASUREHORSE - Bareskin Rug

Take a look at that cover snap! All the pics in the liners are like this, real closeups of Shawn Greelee’s face, his whiskers and sweaty pores the center of attention. It’s a good description of the Pleasurehorse sound, which resembles someone taking a microscope to gabber techno, so that all you see in this distorted sense of place/time is a bunch of fast-moving organisms shuffling away from the eyepiece, swarming and reforming, no center and no blueprint, but an ebb and flow that you don’t start to notice until you’ve been staring for at least 15 minutes. Pleasurehorse sounds like someone chopped up bits of cliché’d techno breaks, fed them into a sampler, spit ‘em out at random, recorded the results to mini-disc, chopped that into 99 tracks and hit "random play." You’ll hear chunks of things that sound like the same beat, but they’re never on the one, and never in a danceable order. When Autechre did that thing where they tried to beat Britain’s "no music with repetitive beats played in warehouses" law, the results were kind of lame, because while each measure had a different beat, the result was actually less engaging then their usual stumpy-legged frog beats. It just kinda drifted aimlessly. I was expecting something more like "Bareskinrug," which has all the trappings of a hardcore dance beat, but would be completely undanceable to anyone but clinical spastics. It’s kind of tough for me to critique on song on this over another (other than to say track 3 has something resembling a slap bass chopped into the salad, and track 2 is more violent than all the rest for some reason), because it sounds like one 33 minute organism with 12 segmented abdomen parts. But I can compare it to previous Pleasurehorse recordings. The split 12" with Mystery Brinkman was more minimal than this, "Small Purse" is a bit more low-tech, the Dropdead remix 12" is more atmospheric, and the History of the Future 12" is a bit slower. This is the big poppa of the batch, consolidating the best elements of all the previous records, like some big-ass Voltron that’s come down to whup some ass on an Ibiza gabber club (which, as we all know, is the sequel to "Buena Vista Social Club."). Watch out little earthlings!

LIGHTNING BOLT - The Power of Salad & Milkshakes DVD
SIGHTINGS - s/t
BRAINBOMBS - Singles Compilation
OLNEYVILLE SOUND SYSTEM - Because We're All In This Together
MEN'S RECOVERY PROJECT - Bolides Over Basra
SCISSOR GIRLS - S-T-A-T-I-C-L-A-N-D 10"
PLEASUREHORSE - Dropdead Deconstructed 12"