Vintage photograph on the album cover? Check. Trebly, lovesick melodies sharp enough to rip a cardigan sweater? Check. Clever, library-assistant-baiting lyrics such as “I will be de Beauvoir, if you’ll be my Sartre”? Double-check. Needless to say, Scotland’s Hermit Crabs leave no page of their country’s folk/pop fakebook un-turned. But for those frustrated by more than a year with no new music from Belle And Sebastian or Camera Obscura, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sweet ballad “Closet Fan” finds guitarist Melanie Whittle sighing about punk rock while confessing a secret love, and “Bad Timing,” with its driving beat and tastefully grinding violin, is about as close to rocking out as the Hermit Crabs are likely to get. The quartet’s jangle-pop pedigree is fairly impeccable, with a guest spot from original Teenage Fanclub drummer (and Camera Obscura manager) Francis Macdonald, and the 10 bite-sized tracks on Saw You Dancing breeze by with such ease that it’s tough to find much fault. But it’s equally difficult to get terribly excited. [www.indiepages.com/matinee]
With a commanding, imposing voice, Siouxsie Sioux turned what looked like a one-night stand into a musical career that’s still going strong. Sioux, born Janet Susan Dallion in 1957, formed a primitive version of Siouxsie And The Banshees to open for an early Sex Pistols show at London’s tiny 100 Club in 1976. Who would’ve guessed this ad hoc support band would outlive the evening’s headliner by almost 20 years? The eerie drone of the Banshees was a harbinger of brooding U.K. post-punk outfits the Cure, Joy Division and Bauhaus. After a career that included 15 top-30 hits in the U.K., Sioux pulled the plug on the Banshees in 1996 to focus on the Creatures, the side project she’d formed with husband (and Banshees drummer) Peter “Budgie” Clarke. Now comes Mantaray (Decca), Sioux’s debut solo album. No matter what the label on the can says, it’s pretty much the same peppery soup inside. Crackling guitars and pounding drums protectively surround Sioux’s vocals as though they’re safeguarding the princess of some long-lost Inca tribe.
Admittedly a bit “gaga” after a day full of radio interviews, Sioux spoke to MAGNET from London.
Continue reading “Q&A With Siouxsie Sioux”
You spend much of Ministry’s final album, The Last Sucker (13th Planet/Megaforce), warning us about the evils of the Bush administration. You even call Dick Cheney “the son of Satan.” Does this mean that you actually care about us?
I think that after I got out of my heroin haze of the ’90s, Ministry became a socially relevant band singing about social issues. How am I not gonna sing about George W. Bush? What am I gonna do, pick up an acoustic guitar and sing for the next six years about how I kicked heroin? I actually give a shit again about our culture, our society and the state of things. A lot of other people are doing it, too, but I like the way we do it. We do it with a sense of humor; I hope people can pick up on this. I just saw a right-wing Web site where I was public enemy number two, behind Michael Moore. I love that. It tells me I’m doing something right.
In certain circles, it seems like Division Day should be touring for its sophomore album by now instead of celebrating its debut. Last year, the L.A.-via-Santa-Cruz quartet earned fistfuls of blogger love for Beartrap Island in its self-released incarnation. Mercy Records planned to reissue the LP this spring, but the upstart label went under. So Beartrap Island is only now officially available to the world. But has the world moved on? Hopefully not, because the album is a smooth safari through the highlights of post-millennial indie rock, mixing anthemic sing-alongs, pensive confessionals and electronics-damaged guitar pop. Frontman Rohner Segnitz alternates between a raspy whisper and an adolescent yelp that’ll please fans of Modest Mouse and the Shins, but Division Day shifts styles so nimbly that playing spot-the-influence grows pointless. You want Lindsey Buckingham-esque melodies? The banjo-accented “Hand To The Sound” is at your service. How about a meth-head barnburner? “Ricky” and its stuttering guitars qualifies. If you like your love songs served with a touch of creepiness, “Tigers” rides a rollicking piano line into a bizarre mantra of “I want your blood inside my head.” Expanded to 14 tracks, Beartrap Island struggles to maintain its momentum, but it’s ultimately gratifying that this album’s day has finally come. [www.eeniemeenie.com]
Those Amy Winehouse grooves resonating the world over? That’s the Dap-Kings laying down most of them, in the pocket and in the service of the new-school soul dropout’s reverence to the old school. It’s a perfect match, though the brokered union ultimately feels like just that: a crack group of players tapped to give a buzz artist some credibility. No shame in that game, but I’ll take the Dap-Kings in their main gig—backing up 50-something NYC soul vet Sharon Jones—any day. It’s not just that 100 Days, 100 Nights sounds like it was tracked by Tom Dowd in Muscle Shoals circa 1968. There’s much more to this band and album than the throwback aesthetic. This is a retro soul act with songs that are more than just horn-and-rhythm-section showcases. Some feature sly major-to-minor transitions and guitar solos where you know Binky Griptite is playing them with a pained look on his kisser; others find Jones in a more vulnerable state and are girl-group-esque in their arrangements and background vocals. Any soul revisionists can take it to the stage and lay it down. It’s the ones who take it to the stage with great tunes who’ll stick. [www.worlds-fair.net]
This memorial to late Bomp! magazine/record label founder Greg Shaw (he was the man behind the Pebbles series) is second to none. It’s a labor of love put together by Shaw’s ex-wife Suzy and his friend, collaborator and author/musician Mick Farren. Designed to give the appearance of a scrapbook of Bomp! back issues, Saving The World celebrates Shaw’s longtime musical loves: garage rock, psych, glam, power pop and punk. It features record reviews by the likes of Iggy Pop and Lenny Kaye, plus amphetamine-fueled rants by the late Lester Bangs. Above all, it’s a treasure trove for anyone who ever found redemption in a cheap 45. [www.ammobooks.com]
By the time you’ve finished reading this, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore will have probably produced, recorded or released another album or written another book. Recently, Moore issued an acoustic-guitar-driven solo LP (Trees Outside The Academy, on his Ecstatic Peace label), penned a tome on New York City’s downtown scene (the forthcoming No Wave) and spent the summer playing 1988 SY masterpiece Daydream Nation in its entirety to festival crowds.
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Whether pulling cookie dough out of his pants as the leader of Austin punks Scratch Acid in the ’80s or getting arrested for indecent exposure onstage at Lollapalooza as singer for Chicago noise-rockers the Jesus Lizard in the ’90s, David Yow was one of the greatest frontmen to wield a microphone. He still is. Yow is back as part of L.A. trio Qui, whose new album, Love’s Miracle (Ipecac), is a complex tangle of punk and metal. Largely absent from music for eight years, Yow is snarling, growling and stage-diving again.
I learned about being a frontman while coming up punk rock in central Texas, going to see local bands like the Butthole Surfers, the Big Boys and the Dicks. They were all really fun to watch; it was kind of a spectacle. I remember the night that Gary Floyd, the singer of the Dicks, was dressed as a nurse, and he’d stuffed a bunch of liver in his underwear. He kept pulling it out and smearing it all over his enormous belly. It was hideously beautiful; he was a huge Divine fan and was inspired by all that weird, flamboyant John Waters shit like Female Trouble. Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers would put clothespins in his hair, light cymbals on fire and sing through a roll of toilet paper. The first time I ever saw the Butthole Surfers, they’d Xeroxed the top and bottom of a cockroach onto the front and back of a small piece of paper. They had thousands of these pieces of paper, like cockroach-sized confetti. I was pretty influenced by those folks, and their attitudes were refreshing. Alcohol had a lot to do with it. LSD had something to do with it; everybody did LSD.
Continue reading “The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow: Memoir”
Chomping your way through a Big Grab of Doritos. Compulsive viewing of The OC. A deep, abiding love of chick lit. These are the guilty pleasures we take pains to keep secret, the embarrassing little indulgences to which we treat ourselves when we think no one is paying attention. Music is no exception: For all of your carefully selected stacks of rare vinyl or devotion to Sonic Youth’s obscure Japanese imports, you also have to admit you own a copy of Rush’s Moving Pictures. The following represent the best of rock and pop’s guilty pleasures from the last three decades—not in that hipster, irony-laced, sure-I-dig-Neil-Diamond kind of way, but albums that stubbornly remain in rotation despite all critical evidence suggesting otherwise.
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Just as no man is an island, no band is a crevasse—and that goes triple for the Cave Singers. The Seattle trio claims to have never listened to much folk music. But in this über-wired, plugged-in century, who can truly claim to be untouched by blues and country, even if they were deprived of a daily drip of Woody Guthrie and Mississippi John Hurt? Rather, the Cave Singers are the latest humble students to emerge from an indie echo-chamber reverberating with Animal Collective-style rustic ruminations, Devendra Ban-hart-ish out folk and Two Gallants-y wail ‘n’ stomp. Pete Quirk (Hint Hint) whinnies with droning, adenoidal urgency against minimal backing provided by drummer Marty Lund (Cobra High) and guitarist Derek Fudesco (Pretty Girls Make Graves, Murder City Devils). On Invitation Songs, “Dancing On Our Graves” shakes and shivers with a death rattle of circling acoustic guitar, and “Cold Eye” discovers that streak of timeless Americana that Ryan Adams’ recent Easy Tiger failed to find. The members of the Cave Singers seem intent on scraping away their previous bands’ noise and bluster to find a music that’s no less nervy and riveting. [www.matadorrecords.com]