Monthly Archives: May 2010

Eddy Current Suppression Ring “Rush to Relax”

Eddy Current Suppression Ring
“Rush to Relax”
[Goner Records]

Rating: 7.5

I hate love songs. No, not because I’m a heartless killjoy (although I am) but because I feel the subject matter has been exhausted.  No one is going to be able to write a better love song than Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”, so let’s move on to more interesting topics like the killer whale’s mating habit, tight-roping, and the multiple assassination attempts on Fidel Castro. We already have enough puppy love songs, make-up songs, and break-up songs.  Yes, I understand, love is an important emotion. I know “All You Need is Love” and “Love Will Keep Us Alive”, but I’m more interested in the stuff we don’t need and the things that won’t keep us alive.

This of course leads to my review of Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s latest release “Rush to Relax”, an album that is highlighted by a series of love songs.  You would think this would be a disappointment to me after falling in love with their 2008 release “Primary Colours” (thanks for the recommendation SongsSuck!). The Australian band doesn’t necessarily explore new areas in the arena of romance, but their take on the courting process sits strangely well with me, which rarely occurs with sappy love tunes.  I think my adoration of Eddy Current’s take on love has something to do with their straight-forward, honest approach. There are no orchestra swells or metaphoric language. This album is simply a Melbourne garage band tearing through all-too-blatently earnest rock songs without any shame.

“Rush to Relax” opens with “Anxiety”, an internal monologue of a suitor nervously trying to impress his girl by “trying to hide from the awkward silence.”  This theme of anxiety remains throughout the album, with singer Brenden Suppression groveling lyrics that are at times embarrassing. While most punk-rock is fueled by adrenaline and testosterone, this album presents the storyline of a cuckold.

Here’s a dose of “Anxiety” for you:

On “Gentleman”, Brenden lists all the ways he will treat his woman with respect, which is great, but trying “to be the first to apologize…even when you’re wrong” is not a notion that sits well with me.  Yet, for some reason, I enjoy the obedient message of the song. It’s charming, unexpected, and so damn honest that Mr. Suppression should never be able to look his guy friends in the eye again.  It takes some guts for a rocker to portray himself as being so desperately whipped.  In an attempt to be chivalrous on “Gentleman”, he comes off as desperate, and who hasn’t been there? Oh…. just me….my bad.

On “I Can Be  Jerk” the apologizing continues. As a fellow jerk, I can’t help but root for the narrator and Brenden’s plain spoken approach.  On songs like “Tuning Out”, and “Burn” we hear examples of this self-proclaimed jerk-i-ness.  Whether he’s telling his girl “I don’t care about the dream you had” or “I don’t care about your mum or dad”, it’s obvious this guy isn’t always such a gentlemen.  All the songs on “Rush to Relax” counter balance each other, giving us insight into why he has to ask for forgiveness so damn much.

“I Can Be a Jerk”, or at least that’s what Danger Mouse thinks of me:

I should give a disclaimer that the entire album isn’t focused on love. “Isn’t It Nice” examines the futility of museums, and “Walked Into a Corner” tells the story of a drunk using the wall to keep from passing out.  But when you look at the album as a whole, the truly great moments are those where we see Brenden Suppression putting his heart on his sleeve, making a fool of himself, all in the name of love.  At times the music reminds me of the Illinois indie band The Poster Children and there are other moments where I hear a hint of The Stooges. Then again, I don’t remember Iggy ever sounding like such a pussy. That’s probably a good thing.

Here’s the video for “Rush to Relax”. I can’t get enough of his crazy dance:

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Video Clip of the Week: Slayer Goes to Church

I don’t want this hex on me, but oh well!

-Mando Topless

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Top Albums of the Year 2000 (20-11)

20.  Enon – Believo!

John Schmersal played guitar for the seminal 90’s outfit, Brainiac.  Brainiac disbanded after the death of Timmy Taylor and Schmersal started Enon.  Believo! was as informed by Brainiac as they were by Guided by Voices, Prince, Les Savy Fav, Beck and the Breeders.  I can think of no other awesome band’s lead singer dying and then a lesser known member coming forth and kicking so much ass (besides Foo Fighters of course…. Pause…. More Pause……. NOT!).  – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

19. Blackalicious – Nia

Reminds me of old school 80s rap, mixed with A Tribe Called Quest, mixed with their own unique dopeasfuck shit.  Lots of flute (almost reminds me of Gil Scott-Heron in places, they may even sample him), funk, cultural politics, excellent lyrics and choruses to sing along to.  Lyricist the Gift of Gab and DJ-producer Chief Xcel produced a high point with their debut that they really haven’t yet topped (although most critics would say Blazing Arrow does, not sure I agree). – Songssuck

If all hip hop albums were this innovative and fresh, no one would ever list rap as the genre they hate.  – Kid Kilowatt

18.  Antaeus – Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan

Antaeus are a black metal band from France.  Their motto is: “anti-Music, anti-God, anti-You.  They are overtly satanic.  Every song is a furied, blast beated affair and CYFAWS is their debut.  Sounds like a recipe for dooshiness and disaster, right?  Well usually, yes.  But in Antaeus’ case one would be wrong to assume that.  CYFAWS is a brilliant debut.  It is the year 2010 and we now know that France is a breeding ground for amazing black metal.  And even though their Satanic and antisocial shtick should be boring and pathetic they seem devout enough for it to become almost legit.  But how can I get over the fact that the songs are just one blast beat after another?  I don’t quite know myself, but they vary it up enough and at times the band’s weirdness shines through into some glorious whatthefuckness. – Songssuck

What?  I am supposed to be writing a review?  Sorry, I was too busy cutting my flesh and worshipping Satain.  – Dr. Anonymous

17.  Crooked Fingers – s/t

Like falling down in a deep dark well, with almost no hope of being rescued.  Then you find a hidden cache of alcohol and decide it’s not such a bad place.  The solo joint of Eric Bachmann, the dude from Archers of Loaf.  Much different from the Loaf however, more like Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen all rolled up.  Actually it’s nothing like that either.  Fuck.  – Pthestudp

For an album not known for its melodies, this mother really gets stuck in your head.  One of the few albums you get the feeling you will be listening to in fifty years.  –  Suzy Creamcheese

16.  Enslaved – Mardraum: Beyond the Within

Nachmystium get all the credit, but Enslaved were really the first to incorporate “Pink Floyd” into their black metal.  So fucking epic, makes me want to get on some tights and fuck shit up with swords, mainly people’s throats.  Mixes furious speed with slowed down guitar harmonies, prog, classic rock, punkish riffage and post-rock into a violent black metal stew.  Black viking prog: how’s that for another one?  Just might be the black metal album to get all you nonblackmetallisteningwussies hooked.  – Pthestudp

Majestic + Black Metal?  Impossible?  Maybe, but Enslaved don’t give a shit what you think.  – Willie Rambo Strider

15. 764 Hero – Weekends of Sound

I always thought that the Built to Spill comparisons were lazy.  But I can hear it; a moodier BTS (the band kinda has that Pacific Northwest 90s sound, and hey that is how I heard about them, the BTS comparisons).  But take this seriously, cos BTS didn’t release anything this good in the 00s.  Band named after the number to call to report car pool violators. – Ho Chi Unser Jr.

Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and Death Cab for Cutie all hit the big time while maybe my favorite of the 90’s Pacific Northwest bands wallows in obscurity.  If you like any of those bands, or Neil Young for that matter, you owe it to yourself to check this album out.  – Dr. Anonymous

14.  Hot Snakes – Automatic Midnight

In high school, some friends of mine built a skate park in an empty cul de sac.  We spent most every afternoon there, skating, hanging out and building new ramps.  Looking back, it was a very constructive way to spend our time; cos as soon as they tore it down to make room for a new church we all started drinking.  Normally right about now I would start talking to you about the positives of kids having a place to hang out and legally blowing off a little steam.  And how it is a lot easier to say no to drugs when they have healthy activities as an alternative.  But in hindsight, it wouldn’t have mattered in my case anyways.  You see, skate park or no, I would have started drinking after discovering this album.  Listening to Automatic Midnight makes me want to shotgun beers while I am hanging out with buddies at the skate park just before we take the drinking show on the road while blaring it with the windows down.  Why?  It’s not cos of the lyrics, they have nothing to do with any of that.  Well, actually I am not sure about that; I am always too busy thrashing around while this album spins to analyze lyrics.  – Pthestudp

Makes me want to fuck every girl in the world while quaffing beer and riding my motorcycle.  – Johnny Goodyear

13. Necrofrost – In a misty soar and on it swampy floor

The sound of a bear lumbering drunkenly through the forest.  – Pthestudp

Whenever Pthestudp makes me listen to black metal, I request Necrofrost.  – Suzy Creamcheese

Besides having some of the greatest song titles ever (like:“Rapacious Forests in Ultimate Sleep”), “Grimm of Decembers Mailune” sounds like Necrofrost kicked the shit out of Metallica backstage and came out trying to play “Memory Remains.”  They of course were too fucked up to do so and soon gave up.  – Songssuck

12.  Circle – Andexelt

A wizard, attempting to make a powerful potion put Neu’s 2, 80’s cheese metal (it may have been Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance), a chunk of outer space, leaves from the WTF tree, a 1970’s horror flick, five drops from the Repetition vial, a pinch of flute, and some drone into his cauldron.  Can you guess what came of the concoction?  — Suzy Creamcheese

Coolest thing I ever did: leave all my friends and Animal Collective to go see Circle.  Lamest thing I ever did: leave the Circle show cos the girl who was with me wanted to go somewhere else.  I am wishing 2010 Dr. Anonymous could slap the shit out of 2006 (or so) Dr. Anonymous.  The best thing to ever come out of Finland.  – Dr. Anonymous

11. The Lord Weird Slough Feg – Down Among the Deadmen

In the year 1011, Brad Childress was fired and I became the offensive coordinator for the Norse Vikings.  We had taken some lumps from the North American Indians and the Christians were continually organizing against us.   It seemed we could no longer get it up for the big battles, our confidence was at an all time low and our civilization was on the decline.  Some wanted to retreat to Iceland.  But I knew our formula could win again, we just needed a boost.  It came in the form of installing speakers aboard the longships.  Slough Feg’s 13 songs about flying ships, epic battles, knights, cauldrons filled with blood, troll kings, demons and the dark lord were all we needed to gear us up for battle.  – Pthestudp

Seriously, if you like metal and don’t know Slough Feg, something is wrong.  – Willie Rambo Strider

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Video Clip of the Week: Quincy Punk Rock Episode

Since so many readers loved our “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction” post from a few weeks ago, I thought I’d post another classic TV favorite of mine.  The 1970s coroner crime show “Quincy M.E” is ridiculously hilarious. It was supposed to be a serious mystery drama, but the idea of a medical examiner crashing cars off of cliffs, getting into gun fights, and leading press conferences is a bit much.

The best Quincy episode of all is simply known as “The Punk Rock Episode”.  This episode has gained attention from various sources, whether it be the Spoon song entitled “Quincy Punk Episode”, or The Opie and Anthony Radio show’s constant references to it.  In the classic episode, Quincy must explore the death of Abigail, a girl who died of a codeine overdose…yes, the same stuff in Nyquill.  It’s hard to find this much humor packed into three minutes like the scene when Quincy stops a punk rock show to try speaking to a crowd of “punks”.

Here’s the Spoon song “Quincy Punk Song”:

And here’s just a snippet of Opie and Anthony riffing on this episode:

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Mastodon “Crack the Skye”

Mastodon
Crack the Skye
(Reprise: 2009)

8.5

I confess: Mastodon had lost me.  I mean, those dudes were wanking themselves completely off their fucken rockers.  The first thing that turned me off was all these dooshes started loving them (bound to happen when a band hits the big time, and I am stupid for holding that against them).  But then my buddy told me how he saw them live and they all had like 30 guitars and roadies tuning them (and doing everything else) for the band (huge turnoff for a DIY kinda guy).  The big deal breaker was reading that James Hetfield came up to Mastodon guitarist Brett Hinds, telling him he wanted to “pass the metal torch on to you guys.”  James, you pretentious fuck.  First off, there is no torch that goes to the best metal band passed on by the last best metal band.  And if there were a said torch, Metallica would not have had it in its possession for at least twenty years.  Mastodon acting like that was a compliment pissed me off.

Then I heard about the new LP: a concept album about some paraplegic who flies too close to the sun, causing him to go through a wormhole where his spirit goes into Rasputin’s body to warn him of his planned assassination.  Okay… I could handle Remission’s theme of nuclear holocaust and the drummer’s dream of the burning horses, Leviathan’s “Moby Dick” bent, even Blood Mountain’s stories of climbing mountains only to find blood thirsty ogres (and more challenges) at the top.  But this was way too much, if I wanted such progtastic themed wanky meanderings I have plenty of Magma, Yes or Genesis albums to put the needle to (in fact, the theme almost sounded like a rip off of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway).  After a couple of quick listens to parts of the album, I realized I didn’t need it from my once favorite metal-core band (I even heard keyboards!).  AND TO TOP IT OFF: gone were the throaty primal grunt growl scream vocals of past albums.  The boys were now singing, even harmonizing with each other (obviously, I thought, this was what happens when the band brought Brendan O’Brien, who’s done work for Pearljam and Springsteen, in to produce).  My NU-Metal radar was going off like crazy, and I could see that Mastodon were going the way of the heroes, Metallica, and were no longer relevant but completely over-dooshified.

So, last week I almost didn’t go see Mastodon even though they were playing like 5 minutes from my apartment (in fact if Baroness would not have been on the bill I probably wouldn’t have gone).  Would that ever have been a mistake: the boys are so fucken technically and the songs from Crack the Skye so compositionally sick that the show was altogether mind blowing.  After about twenty minutes of them playing Crack the Skye track by track, I forgave them for everything (even the somewhat harmonious vocals).  I began to see it: Brett Hinds’ confined hospital stay led to the astral traveling theme of the album (kind of like a Brian Eno or Robert Wyatt story).  I imagined him in a hospital bed, his only mode of travel psychic (I may be pushing this way too far, but it’s probably appropriate for such a far out album).

Crack the Skye’s seven songs clock in at just over 50 minutes, but I am lost in the maze, never do I check to see how much time is left. The proggy/jazzy time signatures (For the RIYL guys, it’s like King Crimson attempting to be Iron Maiden) have me changing my headbanging routine like every thirty seconds and the riffs crescendo and fall like the Andes Mountains.   Mastodon can be as indulgent and poppy as they want, as long as the riffs keep my fist pumping and my world turned upside down, which they are able to do for most of the album.  Although, I do find myself at times wishing for the harder hitting, death metal screaming band of yore, this is a more than welcome reprise.  And 50 minutes for me to contemplate on what conceptual them the guys will think of next.

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