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Record Reviews

Written by Trolf, Pollock, Nargis, and Trippe   
Friday, 21 September 2007 04:02
Firefox AK, Grayskul, ARE Weapons, Cass McCombs, Mannequin Men, Wiley, Witchcraft, Sunset Rubdown, Mac Lethal, and Los Indios Tabajaras.

So we're doing a music section now. We'll try to update things regularly (we hope) with album reviews, show write-ups, and interviews. Got an album you'd like to see reviewed? Send it on over. E-mail me for info: andreas(at)fecalface.com

A note to musical purists and other sundry elitists-don't get bummed out when your favorite band gets some coverage. There's apparently this fine line that bands need to toe these days; anytime an "indie" band gets too many fans they're sellouts, but if they never get any fans aside from mopey shoegazers they'll have to work shitty day jobs till the day they die. So fuck it. We want bands we like to succeed. We want them to quit their jobs at the pizza place and the bar and go tour the world, bringing happiness to as many people as they can reach.

So, without further ado...

Firefox AK
Madame, Madame!
[Minty Fresh]

Seriously? You named your band something that makes people think of an internet browser? The fact that this record is really poppy makes me suspicious. I feel like I can see the scenario play out in my head. Some marketing guy from the record company has just finished creating the band and now they need a name. He's all, "Maybe if we name it something with the internet in it, we'll get more hits on the band's site or on Google." I bet he actually chuckled at his own shining ingenuity. Unfortunately, the boss shoots him down though because the name Firefox is sort of pussy so he tacks on "AK" since guns are really tough. Right? Oh man...great. So now I have to review a record by a band called "Firefox AK."

I think maybe an hour has passed since I finished that last paragraph. Is there really more to say about this band? I just read that they are from Europe so that maybe accounts for 75 percent of the reasoning. Jesus, every song sounds like Britney Spears German cousin. I bet it's like number one or something in Slovakia. Actually that's unfair. I've never been to Slovakia, they probably have some great music there. Hmm. Now I'm curious. I should go look up Slovakia. I think I just wrote more about Slovakia than I did about the band. Are you getting the picture? I have to go wash my mouth out because I feel likes it's packed with sugar.
-Jesse Pollock

Bloody Radio
[Rhymesayers Entertainment (Biz3) ]

Back when I first started buying hip-hop records, I had some friends who I guess would be considered "rap nerds." They got high all the time, were terrible with girls and were usually some sort of geniuses. They were also the kind of people that liked to think on every word during a conversation so that saying something like "This beat is some hot shit," would turn in to a 20 minute ordeal. Not only that, but they didn't even usually like the "hot shit." They were into the extra-scientific rhymes like Organized Konfusion and had every record by all of the Wu-Tang's disciples (that's like 40 albums of chess talk). Anyways, I liked all that stuff as well but I never thought about hip hop like that, and to be honest... It was sort of boring.

So this is from Rhymesayers, which is basically all those kids I was just talking about but grown up. I lump this with Aesop Rock, and Cannibal Ox, and whatever...it's boring. I stopped buying this stuff just like I stopped buying Atmosphere, and anything from Def Jux. There are some decent beats (like 2 or 3 an album) which are riddled with some schizophrenic bullshit that's supposed to make you think it's deep. The sad thing is that there are always some gems hidden on all these albums, but I can't handle digging through all the crap so they go unheard. I think on the website it says something about how they are trying to reverse the corporate brainwashing of hip-hop, which I'm all for. I just wish they reversed it into something listenable. It's like the NPR effect or something. These days I'd rather 'Throw some D's On It' than hear about you talk about your problems in a paper-thin nasal drawl. -Jesse Pollock

ARE Weapons
Modern Mayhem
[Defend Music Inc.]

Jesus Christ, A.R.E. weapons always make me feel like I'm on drugs when I put one of their albums on. Maybe that's the idea. I always wonder if they are really fucked up when then record stuff. Actually, I bet they are stone sober. I always trip out when I find out that the crazy 15 minute stoner jam was recorded by the most sober guy ever. I wish I could think of a good example of band right now but I have a bad memory. I wonder if I should look it up somewhere. Whatever...I guess this means I'm a bad reviewer. That's probably a good thing since all reviewers are usually pretty lame. Music critics are the worst right?

I bet most critics will hate this record. It sounds like all the rest, which is fine by me. It's like a strung out version of Japanther, which would sound like heroin and New York. That's always a good combination. Hey new bands! If you need a sound just think heroin and New York. Actually just kidding, that sounds horrifying. Just do the heroin and sell your guitar because I can't take any more bands like that. Wait, did I just talk myself out of liking this record? I can't even tell anymore. See? I feel like I'm on drugs. This record is getting me high.

Just put on "F What You Like" and you'll see what I mean. See, the band is so fun it doesn't even matter that they have corny synths playing in the background. In all honesty I like A.R.E. Weapons as a band, but I'm not sure I like the music they make. Does that make sense? -Jesse Pollock

Cass McCombs
Dropping the Writ
[Domino Records]

As the title seems to imply, there's far less emphasis on the dense literary imagery that's dominated all McCombs's releases. While far more vocally expressive than anything that he's done, the shift from his established, storylined rock-lit delivery to a certain style of New York yodeling wasn't expected. The production of the record is excellent: four part harmonies and orchestration far more geared to an acoustic sound compared to the early NY rock tone of his last record, Prefection. It's pulled off unwaveringly well with the exception of a few moments in the recording where the overall polished production mimics a certain glimmering of a mid-nineties Bonnie Raitt record.

"The Full Moon or Infinity" sounds like a Scarborough Fair cover by an orphan in the throes of a depressive lycanthropic episode. 'Crick in My Neck' serves as a zenith in the aim of this record, for me. The song uses Drew Barrymore's drunken thespian lineage to illustrate bodily deterioration at a galloping pace with a little man choir for the hook. What's not to love about that? "Pregnant Pause" is also deserving of a sweetly pensive tip of the hat.

While I liked the direction that his last record took and was looking forward to a slightly less subdued record, I can't knock this guy. He's all too deserving of respect from a songwriter's standpoint, and the fact that this record sounds nothing like the last is just testament to his flexibility. Oh, and the cover art unrepentantly smacks of a Morrissey album. Listen to it and all of this guy's stuff. -Tim Nargis

Mannequin Men
Fresh Rot
[Flameshovel Records]

So the blurb on the back of this CD touts the band as "the sound of the underdog". I imagine if Underdog (the Aesop's Fables-era cartoon) were to have to choose a rock album to follow him around as theme music, for every time he dirtied up his superhero white chucks throwing up in his ex-girlfriend's driveway, waited at a bus stop in the rain to score weed from some sketchy hippy, or fidgeted with a Taco Bell wrapper in an Midwestern truckstop lot while asking his parents for money to fix the tour van, there's a small chance it would be this one. With the quasi-inventive psych-rock anthem songs (a large portion of the recording) backing him, along with the goading of his pervert roommate, Snidely Whiplash, he'd have the mood set to talk to girls when he was really high at a keg party. It would give him the chutzpah he'd require to talk his way into a no strings attached bathroom BJ. Underdog would be the man in his second year of community college.

There are a few tracks that take a slight detour from the songs which focus on the age old "I notice something hot about you, girl. I know you see something hot about me, I'm the rocker guy on stage" theme which runs through the record. "Sewers" has a little farfisa sound that adds a little something. "Fun Never Ends" has a part in the end of the first verse, "Saw some funny things: broken necks, severed heads, holy ghosts..." This, at least, makes me think of bad ass college Underdog protecting a late night pizza and a case of whip-its from a league of intergalactic, disembodied zombie Jesus heads that want to spoil a good time. The record's like The Gun Club and The White Stripes having a sing-along baby after a beer shotgun wedding. -Tim Nargis

Playtime is Over
[Big Dada Recordings]

He wants no more pies, or so he says. His name: Wiley, aka Eski boy, aka Igloo boy. Grime, generally, makes me want to wrench a beautiful child from its mother's arms and kick it out into traffic. It's scientifically engineered to do so. I have a respect for the sanctity of life and all, but there's a certain sonic quality in it that makes me want to go out and murder all innocence. Metal, which just makes me want to do pushups and make a stew out of wild game, can't even hold a candle to it.

That aside, once I quelled the Koresh voices, I honestly enjoyed this album for what it is. I think what did it for me was the fact that he put the song about his daughter before the slow jam about the girl with whom he wants to make more daughters. Throw in a couple of R&B melodies, solid MC skills, a few dancehall beats, and a generally humble worldview, and I can stomach it. "Slippin" is the jam on this one for me.

England can be pretty fucking sketch. I stayed for a few weeks with a friend in South London last year and got messed with by chavs who looked like the Toxic Avenger if he had fallen into a vat of radioactive tea and boiled tomatoes and then had to live with his racist, unemployed uncle in railroad housing until he was thirty. Leaving town on a train, I took a clip from a local paper telling of a teenage girl who got stabbed in the eye for telling her school bullies she liked Led Zeppelin. Urban strife is universal. -Tim Nargis

The Alchemist
[Rise Above]

Man, with a name like Witchcraft, I was totally expecting a bit more shredding. The name Witchcraft is dripping with overtones of guitar solos, flying beer-spit, and good times. You know, one of those nights where everything seems to be going your way-like you're out at a party and people high five you when you walk in, everything you say comes out hilarious and cool, and you end up making out with the new girl in town in someone's hall closet. You know those nights, right? You just keep thinking to yourself about how you'll remember this night forever; that it's the one time when you just fucking got it right. You totally end up running down the street with a stolen bottle of booze in one hand and the girl in the other.

But I'm not entirely convinced that Witchcraft is going to be the soundtrack for that night. They've got a couple of good fuzzy riffs, dude singing even sounds a tiny bit like a Swedish John Kay, and overall there's sort of a Pentagram vibe (kind of, only mellower), but this just sounds sort of insincere. Maybe it's the fact that even their PR guys describe them as "hipster metal," which immediately makes people wince and shudder. These guys could open up for The Sword and people would be stoked (full disclosure: I dig The Sword, although they definitely fall into the [ewww] "hipster metal" category as well). The Alchemist hits its zenith with the track "Hey Doctor," so maybe just download that one (legally). It sounds like Wolfmother, and if it were sped up a slight bit would be a kill party track.

But what are you gonna do, right? Fuck it. Have a beer and try not to complain so much. People are starting to get really sick of all your whining. Seriously. -Andreas Trolf

Sunset Rubdown
Random Spirit Lover

We're lying on a beach, possibly somewhere in the Hawaiian islands, and the sun is slowly dipping beneath the horizon in a red-orange explosion that is impossible to look away from. There are some tall tropical drinks nearby and the wind blows warm over our sunned and salted bodies. It's perfect. We don't have to say anything. There's no need to ruin this moment with words. Shhhhh...

Okay, I've pretty much ruined this already. I was going to go on and on about giving you guys a sweet massage and, you know, make a shitty joke about Sunset Rubdown's name. Except for I forgot how to be funny. It was a bad idea from the beginning. Let's just move on, okay?

Did you guys ever get Sunset Rubdown's first album? Do you like Wolf Parade? When are those guys going to record again as Wolf Parade? They put out a great album featuring maybe the best, most heart-breaking single in ages ("I'll Believe in Anything"), but then what? Work on a bunch of side projects while the original band languishes? But so while we're at it, what do you think of Handsome Furs? Here's my take on things: Wolf Parade, while sometimes precious, is a great band. Handsome Furs, while sometimes a good band, is super precious. Sunset Rubdown, man, there's just a lot going on here. There's preciousness, sure. Lots of it. But there's also some greatness at work. It's a weird hodgepodge of circus music, off-kilter crooning, riffs, and a few moments of incredibly literate pop. Canada, my hat's off to you. -Andreas Trolf

Mac Lethal

11:11 is the good luck time of day for people. My friend David even has it tattooed on his knuckles. My good-luck time of day is 12:34 and 56 seconds. The sequential numbers are just more pleasing to me for some reason. I wish I had an atomic clock that displayed tenths of seconds and nanoseconds. Have you ever seen the national debt clock in Times Square? It flutters and increases so quickly that you can't even keep track, and already we're paying interest on the interest on our debt.

I blame the Federal Reserve bank, which is actually not a federal institution at all. Seriously, go look in the phone book. It's not in the blue pages for government. It's in the yellow pages under businesses, right next to Fed Ex. The Federal Reserve is actually the largest privately owned bank in the world, created by bribing a few senators some 60-odd years ago, and it controls and regulates America's production of currency (for which there are scarcely enough gold and silver reserves [how about that? Did you know about reserves? It's pretty nuts. Google it sometime.]). Some people claim the reserve banking system is controlled by the Illuminati, but really it was invented by a bunch of clever gold merchants in the Rothschild family. I don't really want to get all crackpot and conspiracy guy on you, but you really ought to know this stuff. It's scary!

I'm not sure how I connected Mac Lethal to conspiracy theories or 16th century Swiss Jews. Sometimes I get too tangential for my own good. But anyhow, Mac Lethal is a really clichéd and obvious name for a rapper. How about MC I'll Fuckin Kill You? Anyways, Mac Lethal has perhaps the blandest flow I've ever heard. He's fast, I'll give him that, but I can just picture him a bit too clearly standing outside the 7-11 rapping at annoyed passersby. The beats and production on 11:11 are wildly uneven, too. Part of me could see putting this on at a party, but the other part of me would want to beat the first part up. Sorry. -Andreas Trolf

Los Indios Tabajaras
Maria Elena

Back a few years I was spending waaaay too much money buying random albums for a little DJ night thing we did. I would spend like $300 or so a week buying old favorites in album form and also spending a lot of money on records I'd never heard of but had interesting album art. If it looked like it could be incorporated into the ol' DJ set (was doing the scratch thing) and it wasn't over $6, I'd get it, and thus, this album made it in the week's purchase and I've listen to it about once a week since... The story goes that these two guitar playing brothers dressed in native indian costumes came out of the hills near Rio de Janeiro and began playing around the city. One thing leads to another and during the 1950s they became a world wide success. The music is mellow classical with a traditional Brazillian sound/ samba/ classical guitar. Very intense guitar work. It sounds good. Check our podcast for a taste. If you like João Gilberto's hits, you'll get into this. Watch this and this. -Trippe {moscomment}

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