The Girls Rock Lawrence theme song, all-star deluxe edition

grl campers 01 Check out this all-star, deluxe edition of the Girls Rock Lawrence theme song, featuring the GRL board members, along with Kelley Hunt, Kristie Stremel, Kawehi, Nadia Imafidon from Sharp 9, STITCH81CLASSIC, Sarah Storm from Vigil and Thieves, Britt Adair from The Bad Ideas, Alex Williams from Ultra Vivid, Lizz Weiler from Vedettes / Cave Girls, and The Sugar Britches: Ashley “Ziggy” Zeigenbein, Brianne Grimmer, Kahlen Mitchell, Kimberly Simonetti, and Monica Greenwood. It was coordinated by me and engineered by Matt Pelsma at the Lawrence Public Library's Sound + Vision Studio, with funding and organizational support from Lawrence Magazine. Additional thanks can be found on the Sound + Vision Soundcloud. You can go to the Girls Rock Lawrence site to donate. Also, check out the GRL camp showcase next Saturday, June 12, at Liberty hall in Lawrence, Kansas. You can find details about that show here.

LP Review: Eureka California’s “Versus”

cover - eureka california versusEureka Califonia is one of those myriad band names that’s irritating as hell to search for online, but the difficulty’s kind of the point. This is a band you want people to have to earn the discovery of, which makes this review kind of a double-edged sword. I want you all to know about the band’s rough-hewn power pop, but I feel like it’s something for which you should work. Versus is one of those records you put on, and you’re rewarding with track after track which reward you for taking the time to pull the record out of its jacket and onto your turntable. Calling the whole affair ramshackle implies that the duo put the record together hastily and without thought, but it’s actually more that it feels as if it’s being played so enthusiastically, it might fall apart in delightful shambles. Songs like “Sign My Name With An X” are the Replacements playing My Bloody Valentine songs, or vice versa, even. The loud, rocking midwestern feel of all this belies Eureka California’s Athens roots, but it’s not your standard rock music. The duo twists tropes and standards in a way that recalls the genre-bending efforts of so many other artists which have made their way out of that Georgia town and into American consciousness. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/hhbtm-records/eureka-california-sign-my-name-with-an-x[/embed] “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City” is a downtempo piece of strummed acoustics, and it manages to have enough life it in that it doesn’t kill the momentum of Versus. There’s still a level to it that maintains the energy off the first side and onto the second -- and that’s important, because the second side is where the gold is. Hidden in the middle of Versus’ second side is the slow rocker, “Realizing Your Actuality,” which might just be the album’s highlight. It’s not a blaster or flat-out rocker, but manages to convey a sense of urgency and intensity, even at its grinding pace. It’s a precursor the slowed-down quiet jams of “Everybody Had a Hard Year” and the loud-quiet-loud epic closer, “I Will Write Mine Over the Potomac.” If you freaked out over Titus Andronicus’ latest, or anything that’s come down that bearded indie rocker doing punk rock pike in the last few years, this is for you. If you find that style of music detestable, here’s it done right. If that closer doesn’t grab you and shake your emotions loose, you’ve no heart. Get on it. The cover’s a little bit faux screenprint, which is kind of a bummer. I don’t know if it would be cooler as an actual screenprint, or if the art was just a little less garish. The cover for Crunch was understated and classy, but this seems to scream “LOOK AT ME!” a little more than I’d like. The vinyl sounds amazing, and has a really nice range. There’s also an insert with lyrics, along with a download card. Solid package. You can pre-order the LP from the HHBTM store. It's due out March 25.

Windian Records’ Subscription Series Number 3 is bonkers cool

windian subscription header Let us discuss the amazingness that is the new Subscription Series from Windian Records. We really enjoyed the singles we heard from the last round, with music from the Ettes and Mrs. Magician, but those were just solo copies, not as part of the whole collection. In other words, how do you talk about a box set when you have neither the box, nor the set? Well, we've the third installment sitting here in the Nuthouse basement, and it is the bee's knees. It's six 7-inch, bog hole, 45rpm singles in a custom box with a big, glossy booklet that showcases the sleeves these singles would have, were they to be purchased individually (which you can, with the art for an additional 79 cents). There's even a download code, and a glow in the dark 45 adapter. The cardboard shipping container the set came in was custom-stamped with the Windian logo, and the pieces of cardboard inside the box, holding everything tight were stampd with the logo of the Subscription Series on the top piece, with another on the bottom saying "Thank You, Come Again." That is devotion to an aesthetic ideal far beyond anything I can remotely conceive of. How's that for vinyl fetishism? This is beyond fetish object into full-on totemic territory. As a bonus, you can get two versions, on black and clear vinyl, limited to 150 and 100 copies, respectively. However, for $6 a single, I'm assuming you want some quality music, too, unless you're just one of those peopel who buys things and sticks them on a shelf to stare at. It's a bit of a mixed bag, as are all single series. In this case, I wasn't familiar with any of the artists being featured, so it was rather like getting a label sampler and hoping for the best. Norfolk, Virginia's the Seeers do a rather nice straight-ahead garage power pop. It's a little muddy and midtempo, but I can really see myself getting into those harmonies come springtime, while DD Owen (aka Drew Owen of Sick Thoughts) rocks dirty electronic punk with enough reverb to drive you mad. Platinum Boys hail from Wisconsin and certainly do have the guitar chops of Thin Lizzy, if a bit skinnier in terms of tone. "Candy" is pure pop sugar, while "Wild Child" has an underlying scuzzy fuzz. NYC's Church Bats could be accused of worshipping a little too devotedly at the feet of cavestomp artists. The way they ape that whole lo-fi, hollow recording aesthetic on "Foreign Man" could come across as fake, were it not for the fact that the song's a genuine rave-up, excellently contrasted by the perfect fuzzed-out instrumental "Half Man, Half Shellfish" that does Link Wray's grinding strip club undertones in a way I've not heard in ages. War Party's a-side is absolutely perfect psychedelic pop, but the b-side is another garage song about being drunk, and if you're not going to bring anything new, find something else to write about. Finally, John Wesley Coleman III's a-side is the cut that really doesn't grab me. "I Feel Like A Sad Clown" is fine enough power-pop, but "I Found A Home" is so absolutely off-kilter musically (that keyboard really goes freaky at points), but absolutely touching lyrically. It sounds like nothing so much as the Troggs covering "Care of Cell 44," and I can't get enough of it. You can listen to 8 out of the 12 tracks below, via Soundcloud. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/windian-records/sets/windian-subscription-series-3[/embed] The Windian Subscriptions Series #3 is available for order through the Windian Records store

The Nevermores, “Lock Your Doors” LP

cover - nevermoresBig thanks are due Magnetic South for resurrecting these 14 cuts from wherever they've been hidden the last 25 years. Honestly, at this point, I'd thought all the lost recordings worth hearing had been collected by Pebbles, Nuggets, Back From the Grave, Killed By Death, Bloodstains, et al, and that we were at the end of the road for quality dirtying rock 'n' roll. It's nice to be surprised. From the unlikely town of Bloomington, Indiana, comes the Nevermores: this great, strange, organ-fueled garage rock from the early '90s. This a band for which little information exists, and as the history on the back over was written with a eye to whimsey, it's difficult to parse what's fact and what's fantasy. That said, Gretchen Holtz is your most famous alumnus, having gone on to found the all-woman trash power trio the Smears, and you can hear a little of the dirt and filth in these songs. Not lyrically -- this is typical garage rock innocence, down to the point that the group turns "Auld Lang Syne" into a twistin' and turnin' masterpiece. The whole thing is ramshackle as hell, and to more sophisticated ears, this might sound like garbage. The absolute joy in these recordings has made it a favorite this past month or so, and while there's not a lot that really rises up and makes you wonder why the Nevermores weren't ever previously comped (the brilliant "Auld Lang Syne" notwithstanding), Lock Your Doors is way more fun than usually comes across the turntable these days. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/magnetic-south-recordings/nevermores-theme-from-nevermore[/embed] The Nevermores' Lock Your Doors is available from the Magnetic South store on black vinyl. It's limited to 300 copies, and comes with a fanastic-looking screenprinted jacket. There's no download code, but you should be spinning this on a turntable, anyway.

Weak Teeth, “So You’ve Ruined Your Life” LP

cover - weak teeth so you've ruined your lifeA more appropriate record for holiday release, I can't possibly imagine. Weak Teeth's sophomore full-length, So You've Ruined Your Life (out not from Tor Johnson Records) continues the anger and frustration the group started with on their debut single, and refines and focuses it even further than they did on What A Plague You Are. The stark imagery of the cover gives a clue as to what you'll find on the 12 inches of vinyl within the jacket. Weak Teeth rage against world destroyed by political infighting, but what really seems to come through is the yearning for something with meaning. "I'm Better Than OKay" sums it up best, with "a constant burden that you can't know or understand" being the throughline of So You've Ruined Your Life. The rage and frustration which comes through in everything -- the agonized vocals, the tense rhythms, and terse guitars -- actually find their greatest release in an instrumental, "Providence Music Scene Soccer Camp Trophy," which begins with FDR's Flag Day fireside chat, and then launches into a minor epic of stop-start blasts paired with wide-open stretches of grandiosity. When it ends, you feel exhausted and refreshed, like you've just been through a boxing match in a sweat lodge. Maybe it's come too late to make your best-of list for 2014, but Weak Teeth's So You've Ruined Your Life might be the first great album for 2015. From the moment the album blasts alive with "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Kill Yourself," to the fading moments of "Nothing Is Cool," you realize that you might've waited over three years for this record, but it's been totally worth it. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/dog-knights-productions/weak-teeth-life-is-bullshit[/embed] Weak Teeth's So You've Ruined Your Life is available on silver vinyl from the the Tor Johnson webstore, on mixed green vinyl from Riotous Outburst Records, or on clear with black smoke vinyl from the FITA Records store in the UK.

Acid Baby Jesus, “Selected Recordings” LP

cover - acid baby jesus selectedAcid Baby Jesus' last proper full-length, 2011's LP was kind of a hodgepodge of '60s rock tropes. There were sludgy stompers, flower-power psych jams, and jangly bouncy things. It was fun, but never quite got into regular rotation the way their "Hospitals" single had originally hooked us. In the meantime, they did a teamup with Hellshovel for the Voyager 8 EP, which was fun, but never really gelled the way I wanted it to. The two bands seemed to be doing their own things simultaneously, rather than finding a joint sound together, which really kept otherwise-agreeable numbers like "I Went Down" from clicking. So, why should you listen to their upcoming full-length, Selected Recordings, out November 17 from Slovenly Recordings? Because it's amazing! It's been a solid two years since the band's released anything of note (not counting the "Vegetable" single they released in advance of this back in September), and they've changed, but in a good way. The whole psychedelic rock thing is 100% in the forefront. The album manages to remain thematically and tonally coherent, while also playing around with tempos and textures. A big part of the problem with LP was that it sounded like a collection of singles, but Selected Recordings sounds like an album (although the names seem to suggest otherwise -- weird). Acid Baby Jesus remains the band they once were. You can hear echoes of LP in this new album -- "I'm Becoming a Man" rocks that dirty fuzz the same way "Tomboy" did, and "Row By Row" echoes the stomp and freakout of "Tyrannosaurus Rex." Also, in addition to just being recorded more coherently, Selected Recordings is sequenced in such a way that the album flows, rather than jumping from B to X to G to V to Z. By the end, you feel like you've journeyed down the river of Lethe, and things are groovy and all right. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/slovenly/acid-baby-jesus-selected-4[/embed]

Halloween Horror Marathon: The Amazing Transparent Man

poster - Amazing Transparent Man It's especially interesting to think 1960's The Amazing Transparent Man came out the same year as Psycho. The two films couldn't be more different, despite both being black and white, low budget scare pictures. Psycho essentially redefined the thriller picture for the next -- well, forever, really -- and managed to achieve a massive level of discomfort and fear, while not really showing much of anything. In its most famous scene, Hitchcock let the mind create the actual horrific stabbing, while cutting away at the last minute. Despite showing you where things disappear, and revealing everything in excruciating detail as it goes along, The Amazing Transparent Man might as well have been made two decades prior, given its smashed-up plot, which combines radioactive sci-fi mumbo-jumbo and gangster pictures. It has more in common with something like The Man They Could Not Hang than it does with anything that would come in the '60s. It's really sort of a dying breed of picture that would soon vanish from the landscape. It's not terrible, by any means: the snappy banter's cute and clever, and there are about two or three double-cross attempts, none of which amount to much. Plus, watching characters get knocked around by the unseen gangster Joey Faust (clever!) is uproarious fun. The actors are wonderfully acrobatic in their miming, and seeing a guard take an imaginary beating is delightful. Given scenes like that, it should come as no surprise that The Amazing Transparent Man's scored like a Looney Tune. The plot's completely spelled out by the accompanying strings, making all of the movie a bit cartoonish, with things like pizzicato notes accompanying the invisible Faust as he's walking to offer some sense of what's going on, since even his clothes disappear after being zapped with the ray. It might as well have been Carl Stalling conducting things for all the subtlety the music offers. When all is said and done, The Amazing Transparent Manis only an hour long, and seems more like a lengthy Twilight Zone episode without a moral or twist. It's a weird little thing, and worth checking out if you've the time. As a matter of fact, you can watch it below via YouTube. It was riffed in episode 623 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, so I think I'll have to dig through my stack of booted MST3K eps and see if I can't revisit it. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO-fYCWctBA[/embed] Disclaimer: For whatever reason, I'd thought this was way creepier than it ended up being, hence its inclusion as part of the marathon. There's kind of one every year. This is it. Whoops.

The Night Terrors, “Pavor Nocturnus” LP

cover - night terrors pavor nocurnusCombining the best of two worlds of classic cinema scores, the Night Terrors' Pavor Nocturnus is an absolute blast. Working in tandem as it does with sci-fi theremin and a huge pipe organ, all of this album sounds akin to modern rescore of something like Mario Bava's Planet of the Vampires -- horror in space, essentially. Recorded on the largest pipe organ in the western hemisphere, which stands an astonishing 32 feet high and uses two motors to power the whole thing, one at 15 horsepower, and the other at 20. The sound this thing is far more powerful than any synthesizer could ever hope to be. There's just a deep resonance to Pavor Nocturnus I've not heard in a recording before. The grandiosity of the pipe organ actually allows for quite a study in contrasts. A very good case in point is "Megafauna," which has synths and the organ playing counterpoint melodies, and the difference in the thinness of the synths contrasting with rich fullness of the pipe organ really makes for a sonically dynamic track. "Blue Black" is the most masterful use of a theremin I think I've ever heard -- it took a solid minute of the song before I figured out it wasn't some oddly-modified violin. It's nicely complimented by the beats and drumming on "Gravissima," and that's what makes the Night Terrors so interesting on this album: there's a basic theme from which they work, but they diversify so much from that point, that you can't help but want to know what they'll come up with next. Frankly, the entirety of Pavor Nocturnus is that it almost out-Goblins Goblin. The Night Terrors work in that same sort of progressive rock meets abject fear vein, and their first two albums, Back to Zero and Spiral Vortex, I'd not really been able to get into, despite quite a bit of acclaim on the second. There's something about the addition of this pipe organ that lends the band a bit more gravitas than they'd previously been able to drum up, and makes their sound far more unique than the previous idol worship. This is the first release on Twisted Nerve, the new music imprint from Australia reissue label Dual Planet and Finder Keepers. I'm happy to see so many of these reissue labels branch out into releasing new music, and this is a very exciting start to Twisted Nerve. I can't wait to hear what comes next. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ijvq2xVbjIk[/embed] More details on the Melbourne Town Hall pipe organ, where the album was recorded, can be found here. For more information on the Night Terrors' Pavor Nocturnus, or to purchase the album when it comes out on Halloween, you can visit the Dual Planet website.

Halloween Horror Marathon: Among Friends

poster - Among Friends A pretty lo-fi little flick, Among Friends has a nice little grit to it that reminds me of '80s movies like Happy Birthday to Me or April Fool's Day. You get a bunch of friends gathered together for a celebration, then shit goes awry. A standard plot, with plenty of opportunity for mistaken identity and jump scare surprises. The '80s vibe is augmented with it being a costume bash with crimped hair and pastel tuxes, along with a soundtrack that vibes super new wave. There's a character named Blane. Kane Hodder plays the limo driver. And, much like the previous movie, 100 Bloody Acres, we have a character tripping -- this time, mushrooms. There's also some other drugs, but to share them would spoil the fun. "Whodunit, prom night 1984" is the theme ... and, of course, while playing a game to discover a killer, shit goes terribly askew, but not in the way you think it's going to. If you've seen Would You Rather, you've a pretty good idea of what Among Friends has to offer. It's a little less gleefully clever, and far more gorily visceral. It's not as much fun as I'd expected. Billing this as a horror comedy is stretching the limits of what exactly can be defined as hilarity. It gets a little too torture-y for it to be any fun after a while, even given the off-kilter, unhinged mania of the revenge. You'd think the fact that the craziness keeps ratcheting up would result in a gleeful sense of "holy shit!" Not so: it's just steadily more fucked-up and unpleasant. And, really, that gets repetitive and boring. Fucking, yelling, stabbing / gouging / cutting, repeat. It just happens over and over, to the point where you just hope everyone would just fucking die. There's not a likeable character in the bunch. Even the most victimized character, and the one for whom we should feel the most sympathy and end up rooting for, manages to be an irritating pain. Skip it. Go watch any of the other films I mentioned, and you'll end up having a far more entertaining hour and a half. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_RBN-ozihk[/embed]