Archive for the ‘1990s’ Category

Slug (Part 2)

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Hambone City / King of Ghosts 7″
Sympathy for the Record Industry, 1993

“Streetsweeper” from split 7″ with Unsane
PCP Recordings, 1992

“Borax” from Jabberjaw Compilation 7″ No. 1
Mammoth Records, 1994

Here’s some Slug odds and ends, prompted for you dear reader, by a comment left by this noise-addicted scion of good taste. See how that works? Leave a little feedback and who knows, I might just throw some more pounding tunes your way. Anyhow, here’s a few more tracks from the almighty Slug, each in the focused, rocking style that all of their singles highlight — a Slug singles collection, if you will. If you dig what you hear here, I encourage you to find one of their LPs because Slug, starting from their first 10″ release Swingers, always had a knack for weirdness and the unexpected which you don’t necessarily find with these singles tracks. Without time constraints, Slug playfully tweaks noise rock formulas with wild experimentation and spacious expanses of dub soundscapes, especially on their later releases. They were never content to simply pump out noisy slabs low end pummeling, making them one of the more interesting and art-damaged groups in this genre. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Slug singles saga for the first 7″ release on Magnatone records…


Slug – “Hambone City”
Slug – “King of Ghosts”

Slug – “Streetsweeper” (Unsane)
from split 7″ with Unsane

Slug – “Borax”
from Jabberjaw Compilation 7″ No. 1


Monday, September 28th, 2009

Breathe The Thing Out 7″
Sympathy for the Record Industry, 1992

Slug was a band that was always pushing the envelope, and therefore was always a couple steps ahead of a huge fanbase. They did manage to get some critical acclaim and a string of records released over their 6-year existence, but those releases, populating used record store bins nationwide, seem to be the only trace remaining of one of the more interesting noise rock groups of the last decade. And to categorize them as noise rock isn’t entirely accurate, since their core sound mutated in so many different directions, so much so that their later records contained long stretches of soothing dub, eerie scratchy tape loops and other sonic experiments far removed from the typical noise rock arsenal. Part of their novelty was the use of 2 bass guitars and loads of unconventional (read: experiemental) instrumentation, including tape loops and multiple drummers. All these elements cook up a sonic stew that sounds something like Crash Worship crashing an Unsane show, or more accurately, like a brutal extension of an earlier forward-thinking L.A. troupe, Savage Republic. One of my favorite Slug releases is this 3-song 45, which captures their early straightforward rock sound, with a loud, dense stomper “Breathe The Thing Out” and the rumbling krautrock trance of “Go Tell” and “Break Neck”.


Slug – “Breathe The Thing Out”
Slug – “Go Tell”
Slug – “Break Neck”

New Rob Robbies

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Nuts & Balls 10″
Mind of a Child Records, 1994

While you’ll find no shortage of bands doing collegiate, guitar-driven pop punk, only the smallest of a percentage are truly worth your time. It’s difficult to identify and quantify what makes some so much better than others. All use the same tools and conventions, but for whatever reason, some simply don’t make an impression while others can’t be heard enough. This Chicago-by-way-of-Bowling Green, OH group is one of those rare bands that got it right as evidenced by this stellar 10″ from Ohio’s tiny Mind of A Child label. Their loosely sketched, midwestern kegger approach to crafting catchy garage pop sounds something like Archers of Loaf doing a set of cover songs pulled from Crypt Records’ Back from the Grave compilations, captured in the grooves of the Meat Puppets’ early records. They’ve been compared to Hüsker Dü as well, and that fits too, if you can imagine the Hüskers flying some fIREHOSE flannel in a basement show in some midwestern college town student ghetto. They followed this release with an album on Mind of A Child in 1996 and their sophomore album on Colorado’s Owned and Operated label in 1999. Also included with this post is another hard to find track: their side of a split 7″ with Chicago’s Vambo Marble Eye from 1994 on the Off White record label. Enjoy!


New Rob Robbies – Nuts & Balls 10″ (30mb zip)
New Rob Robbies – “Pig Day” from split 7″ with Vambo Marble Eye

Murder Inc.

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Murder Inc. LP
Invisible, 1992

Whenever the need to hear Killing Joke‘s first four albums strikes — and it strikes me often — I find myself digging up this self-titled 1992 album by Murder Inc. to extend the jams. It delivers heaps of the swirling, beat-heavy apocalyptic vibe that Killing Joke made famous. Murder Inc. is able to do this since it’s pretty much Killing Joke with a different singer, Chris Connolly, a ’90s industrial darling who put out a number of solo records and appeared on a shit-ton of records for bands like Pigface, Revolting Cocks, Ministry and others. While not as essential as the early KJ discs, it is interesting to hear the core KJ sound augmented with cool, slightly less melodramatic vocals. In fact, despite what some say, this record is probably more melodic than the majority of of Killing Joke’s output, adding a musicality to the vocals which were typically shouted, oppressive anthems. Compare “Mania” and “Gambit” to the more KJ-sounding track “Red Black” and you’ll see what I mean. You can find CD versions of this fine record (if you can stand the goofy cover art) fairly easily, since it was re-issued on the Futurist label in 1993 with a different track order and an additional song.


Murder Inc. – “Last of the Urgents
Murder Inc. – “Red Black”
Murder Inc. – “Mania”
Murder Inc. – “Gambit

The Trans Megetti

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Rent A Rocket 7″
Art Monk Construction, 1996

It’s shocking how little attention I pay to singing. Most people hear a song and seem to only hear the words, but I only catch fragments of verse and I usually hear ’em wrong anyway. Truth is, I’d just as soon have the vocals buried deep in the mix since there are bands I can’t listen to because I can’t get past an annoying vocalist or insipid lyrics. And more often than not, these overmixed crappy vocal tracks diminish the power of the music. The Trans Megetti’s Mark Tesi, however, has some of the best sing-shout punk vocals you’ll hear anywhere. They’re forceful but not overbearing, and they perfectly fit the band’s razor sharp power punk. Mix Hot Snakes’ punchy guitar work with Gray Matter vocalist Geoff Turner’s unwavering wail, and you’ll get a sense of where this New Jersey powerhouse is coming from. They released a couple solid albums after this 7″ on the Art Monk and Gern Blandsten labels, but this raging debut record is easily my favorite.


The Trans Megetti – “Rent A Rocket”
The Trans Megetti – “Mercitron”
The Trans Megetti – “Yes, I Can Read”

Phleg Camp

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Bully My Pushy double 7″
Allied Records, 1991

Twilight Pink / Hog Bottom 7″
Allied Records, 1992

Spent some time in Toronto recently, and that got me thinking about this classic, often overlooked T-dot postpunk group. Inspired by the dubby, danceable punk of the late ’80s DC scene, Phleg Camp’s early releases felt like a gruff version of Soulside — a sort of mutated funk rife with impassioned vocals and guitar supported by a bouncy rhythm section. Their first release and the Bully My Pushy double 7″ really highlighted this sound, but by their first and final album, Ya’red Fair Scratch on the Cargo label in 1993, their tone became much less dancey and more in line with the angular, tension-filled of the day, like The Jesus Lizard, Circus Lupus, and Jack O Nuts. It’s a fantastic album, so be sure to give it a spin HERE. The Twilight Pink 7″ is interesting as it has a transitional sound, as the guitar sound became more textural and the basslines more serpetine, but not quite to the degree of the downbeat Ya’red Fair Scratch. Check it out. And as an extra bonus, I’ve also got a rare track from a 7″ flexi compilation a buddy of mine put out.


Phleg Camp – “Bully My Pushy” double 7″ (21.3 MB zip)

Phleg Camp – “Twilight Pink”
Phleg Camp – “Hog Bottom”

Phleg Camp – “On The Map”
from the It’s All About… 4 Bands I Like compilation flexi 7″, Familyman Records, 1992


Phleg Camp’s Ya’red Fair Scratch on the Rocket Science blog
Phleg Camp on YouTube


Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Patty Lane / Story of Life 7″ + comic
Skin Graft Records, 1993

Here’s a 45 that’s gotten better with age. When I first picked up this warped psych monster I was more interested in completing my collection of Skin Graft 7″ + comic combos than listening to the music inside, but it’s become one of my favorite records to spin when I’m in a particularly weird mood. At first take, I considered this Drunks With Guns / Strangulated Beatoffs offshoot band a cut-rate Butthole Surfers clone, probably due to the fact that Fruitcake’s heavily processed, echoed vocals sound a lot like the Butthole’s cover of Donovan‘s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” on Pioughd. But years of putting this on mix tapes (it nicely filled the mandatory oddball track quota) and tossing it on the turntable whenever stumbling across its dayglo orange sleeve, I’ve come to realize that Fruitcake’s grotesquely deranged 1960s psych is weird on an entirely different level than the Butthole Surfers. With the volume and effects-pedal blowout of over-the-top psychers like High Rise and Mainliner and the drugged out charm of classic Roky Erickson / 13th Floor Elevators riffs, Fruitcake pulls off two ridiculously awesome and hilarious (the lyrics to “Story of Life” are an ode to jacking off) tunes that will forever damage your brain.


Fruitcake – “Patty Lane”
Fruitcake – “Story of Life”


Fruitcake bio and discography on I Heart Noise


Friday, July 24th, 2009

Gag Box / Unwind 7″
Spangled Records, 1992

The last posting got me thinking about another great math rock band from Chicago. And even though they’ve got one of the most boring band names you’re ever gonna hear, Table put out one of the best singles of the early ’90s. It’s got all the elements of your average math rock band: muttering detached vocals, fragmented shards of clanging guitar, and a propulsive rhythm section that’s all business. But Table takes these basic elements and goes a step further than most by giving their songs sustained tension and texture instead of the standard tension/release, loud/soft manipulations found with lesser bands. In particular, their thick, gnarled bass sound really sets them apart, almost approaching funk bass territory while still firmly planted within the rigid metronome of math rock. So even though their name has never been tossed around as much as Shellac, Tar, or 90 Day Men, everything Table put out was on par with those other Chicago legends.


Table – “Gag Box”
Table – “Unwind”

Unofficial Table page on MySpace

The Great Brain

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Ray / Half-Decayed 7″
Faye Records, 1995

We live in weird times. Record shops close by the dozen, but there’s vinyl at your local Best Buy and nearly every obscure, fractionalized sub-genre that sputtered through speakers for a few brief moments over a decade ago in maddeningly short supply gets resurrected and posted by one of a handful of people who remember or at least give a shit. So while I mourn the closing of many record stores and often long to flip through the stacks of those long-gone music mini-meccas, I’m also grateful to live in a day and age when a lazy Google search or bumbling web surfing yields a score that many years of crate digging never procured. Such is the case with this long lost math rock group, The Great Brain, whose Algorithm CD I came across while catching up on some of the fine postings over at Built On A Weak Spot. For years, I anxiously awaited an album by this Chicago group after hearing this 7″ release, but I never kept tabs on them in those dark, pre-internet days, so I never even knew that they’d managed to get an album out. At the time, the midwest was full of math rock bands usin’ their noggins to complicate and control the energy of hardcore punk with deconstructed riffs precisely arranged and played with a musical virtuosity that most punk bands couldn’t (or wouldn’t) achieve. What makes The Great Brain noteworthy is that they were able to keep a frayed, loose edge to their sound that most bands of similar ilk would smooth and/or polish over. Their sound has a gut-level umph to it that many bands of the genre lacked. “Ray” falls somewhere in between the loose jangle of Pavement and the jazzy aggressiveness of St. Louis greats The Dazzling Killmen, pairing catchy choruses with shouted bursts of nervy noise. The flipside, “Half Decayed,” completely ditches any hint of math rock with wavering twangs of oddball guitar that simmer into a straight-up, collegiate guitar rager. Check ’em out, and if you’re ready to hear The Great Brain get Captain Beefheart weird on you, give their Algorithm CD a spin…

The Great Brain – “Ray”
The Great Brain – “Half-Decayed”

The Great Brain’s Algorithm at Built On A Weak Spot

The Roughhousers

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Delving deeper into the legend of Los Marauders, the Nehring brothers (aka Nobody and Edward T. Action) streamlined their rockabilly sound with the more conventional and cleaned up band The Roughhousers. And while the aggro trash punk elements of the Marauders were removed, the Roughhousers could still tear it up and were one of the funnest live bands to see in the mid-90s, serving up loads of entertaining stage banter and hopped up, sweaty, roadhouse rhythm and blues. Unfortunately, they rarely made it out of Iowa City and even more unfortunately, very few recordings of the band exist. In fact, I believe these two tracks from a pair of local scene compilations are the only releases this should-be legendary group put out.


The Rough Housers – “Hit Da Floor”
from Herd Mentality compilation CD, Feedlot Records, 1997

The Rough Housers – “The Feet You’re Standing On”

from Land of Dirt compilation CD, Feedlot Records, 1996