Nic Warnock (RIP Society, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Ruined Fortune, Exotic Dog)
2013, a great year for music! Who wood’ve thunk it, 26 and more obsessed with new music than ever before. Although the state of music is healthy, probably healthier than the last few years, there’s less and less dialogue on the stuff worth dialoguing about! I’m glad Australians have developed a sense of pride in local music but folks seem to be quite ignorant of what’s going on elsewhere. I’ve decided to focus on some labels/axis of music not from Australia I think you should know about.
POWER COUPLE: THE MELCHIORS
Dan Melchior – K-85 LP (Homeless)
Dan Melchior – C.C.D.E Music LP (Little Big Chief)
Letha Rodman Melchior – Handbook For Mortals LP (Siltbreeze)
The Lloyd Pack – At Home With… LP (L’Esprit De L’Escalier)
Previous to this year I had the opinion that Dan Melchior’s music was all pretty good and enjoyable but it never quite clicked. Well this year it clicked, Big Time. I’m not sure if I’ve “matured” or if these records are just more to my tastes than the more band orientated releases on S.S. Records (will have to revisit them in the New Year). Dan writes witty, observational lyrics that bear some resemblance to Ben Wallers of The Country Teasers or Mark E. Smith. Although they’re musically very different his lyrics also remind me of The Shadow Ring, mostly in their absurd, dark humorous often revolving around the mundane or suburban themes.
Letha Rodman-Melchior’s debut under her own name is really beautiful. Field recordings, piano and synth masterfully arranged to create a really serene, amazing record. Put her on the cover of The Wire already. Lastly The Lloyd Pack is the sum of Dan and Letha’s previously mentioned specialties and then some! Add Pheromoans vocalist Russell Walker, Anthony Allman (El Jesus De Magico) on tapes and Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr to the mix. Not songs but not not songs. Anyway what a friggin’ great body of music from these two, especially when having to deal with the hardship of Letha battling with cancer. She’s documenting her progress over here…
KYE RECORDS / GRAHAM LAMBKIN
Call Back the Giants – The Marianne LP
Graham Lambkin – Abersayne / Attersaye 7”
Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet – Photographs 2xCD
James Rushford & Joe Talia – Manhunter LP
Good Area – French Antarctica LP
A rock band I am in, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, have been asked to contribute a Top 10 of 2013 list for the Pitchfork Garage Rock column ‘Shake Appeal’. I might just cover this axis over there under the heading of “Non-Garage Rock Music”. Also because I have a hard time communicating the appeal of this grouping but this outer limit experimental non-music stuff has really grabbed me by the balls! I find it all genuinely strange, interesting and full of personality. It’s unlike a lot of experimental music I’ve come across.
A bit of context: Graham Lambkin runs KYE Records; he was in a group called The Shadow Ring as was Tim Goss who now records as Call Back The Giants. KYE Records is my go to place for weirdest of the weird. I’ll just leave this here…
MORDECAI – College Rock LP
Navigating through the world of current day USA guitar music is hard and disappointing. Keeping close tabs on Richie Records will alleviate some of this frustration and as history shows reward you with at least a couple of outstanding records every calendar year. Examples: Factorymen, Watery Love, Home Blitz, Birds Of Maya. Mordecai is 2013’s winning slice of skull music. A trio of young men from Butte, Montana that play untainted freewheelin’ rock that sounds equally as informed by hairy late ’60s/’70s rock ‘n’ roll as the freedom of Punk/DIY. This record could not have happened in a “cultural hub”, it’s too pure… and unique. Other words I wanted to slip into this review here: Lou Reed, Watery Love, Grateful Dead, community arts centre, Hippy Punk, Flipper, Meat Puppets, loud guitar.
ALL GONE RECORDS
ROACH CLIP – Discovery Park LP
All Gone Records is a new-ish label out of Detroit documenting a scene of bands that’d be well aware of the history of damp psychedelic music and whacked out art rock. Red Crayola, Velvet Underground, Beefheart, Index , Pere Ubu etc. Seems the label is mostly concerned with documenting the music of Michigan; however they did release the second 7” EP from Melbourne’s excellent Mole House. I picked up a swag of their cassette releases and although they were all interesting I have not been able to get past the label’s first LP release, Roach Clip’s Discovery Park. Organ driven Velvet Underground style rock tunes with traces of those Ohio underground types (Mike Rep, Tommy Jay) or the more Velvet Underground influenced New Zealand groups such as The Terminals or Max Block. New hooks and WTF elements revealed with every listen.
OHIO: THE BIRTHPLACE OF AVIATION
Counter Intuits LP (Pyramid Scheme Records)
Connections – Private Airplane LP / Tough City 7” / Body Language LP (Anyway Records)
Obnox – Corrupt Free Enterprise 2xLP (12XU)
Music listening Tip #1: the involvement of one Ron House on a recording is equal to four million internet endorsements. I ordered a stack of these LPs without the aid of a Soundcloud preview or a single positive review, it did not disappoint. Great thing about Ron House (whose other groups include Ego Summit, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartment, Psandwich) and his ilk of Ohio basement rockers is that they exist in their own world, completely unaffected by the BS that surrounds music, ideas of lineage and legacy. The music they produce is timeless. Jared Phillips, formerly of Times New Viking, provides the music. Jared done real good. Apparently these songs were a collection of Jared’s 4-track demos which Ron added lyrics to. Crude, catchy, smart, nasty.
Another post-Times New Viking group I like more than TNV is Connections who are pretty much an indie rock band. Connections capture what I like about Guided By Voices better than GBV’s have since about 1996. Not an interesting premise but an interesting premise doesn’t necessarily mean interesting music (and vice versa). Still some life kicking in rock ‘n’ roll! Lastly for Ohio: Obnox – Corrupt Free Enterprise 2xLP, this record is a monster. Go read an interview with Bim, you’ll become a fan. I don’t really have anything useful to say about it.
LITTLE BIG CHIEF RECORDS
TRUE SONS OF THUNDER – Stop and Smell Your Face LP
Important record label from Virginia, USA. Their first three releases were a Mad Nanna 7” and two Matt Earle related cassettes re-issued on LP. Brave. This year the label released a couple of hell-bent on destruction, fucked-up rock ‘n’ roll records and re-issued a private press Greek prog LP. TRUE SONGS OF THUNDER’s LP is mental. One part Pagans, one part Dead C. They probably wouldn’t care for the Dead C comparison, no agenda of art here. All sights set on destruction.
FAVOURITE SONG OF 2013 (TIE)
The Howling Hex – ‘Green Limousine’
Neil Michael Hagerty is my favourite guitar player in the world. Neil, Kool Keith and John Morton (of Electric Eeels, Styrenes) are also my top 3 musical geniuses on twitter for 2013.
Murderer – ‘Hush Baby, Stop Crying’
Or is the song called ‘My Thing’? I don’t know. From the excellent Ground Zero compilation. Something special about the whole Toxic State Records crew, true mutant punk, best “scene” to come out of New York in a really long time. Dawn Of Humans, Perdition, Crazy Spirit, Hank Wood & The Hammerheads. Almost makes up for the incredible abundance of disappointing garbage that comes out of that place… almost. Have you heard that band DIIV? … Yikes. Here’s a lyrical excerpt from the punk odyssey ‘Hush Baby, Stop Crying’…
Hush baby, stop crying
I’m tryna do my thing
My thing, my thing
I’m tryna do my thing
Baby, stop crying
I’m tryna do my thing
My thing, my thing
I’m tryna do my thing
You talk about the law
You talk about the rules
You talk about your love but your lovin’ it ain’t true
7” OF THE YEAR
Cured Pink – Body Body Body 7”
Brisbane group deconstructing rock music that on the surface brings to mind groups such as Cabaret Voltaire, P.I.L and The Pop Group and other post-punk groups that are by all means great but don’t hold a place that close to my heart, so it feels strange referencing them in a little write up for what I think is single of the year. Very considered, yet intuitive. “Disciplined looseness” is a dumb phrase I just made up. Yo this record is art but also has #SWAG.
Runner up: Exiles From Clowntown 7”
EXTREME TAPES FROM AUSTRALIA
Oily Boys / Dribble / Velvet Whip / Soma Coma / Headless Death / Pleasure Bros / Redundancy Music