The Meaning And Meaninglessness Of Life

17 Sep

Meatbodies

“Tremmors”

Photo by Alex Baxley

Photo by Alex Baxley

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I’ve been jonesing real hard for Meatbodies lately. Just those two filthy sounding guitars alone get me motivated to think about getting motivated. They take the whole Ty Segall denim movement out for a walk, giving it a more modern feel than their vintage clinging peers, we can all agree it’s about time someone cut that umbilical chord. I cannot wait to feel these dudes live, I bet it’s real as hell.

Maybe I’m merely projecting my own shift in tastes here but I feel a huge sway of musical awareness heading in this direction.

Unfortunately, this is one of the only genres I don’t believe need that attention and could possibly be crushed by it in the end, so even writing about another band I dig in the scene makes me quite timid, after all, I would hate to water down the seemingly last haven for artists in music. At the same time with music this great it seems an injustice not to do what I can to help these dudes sustain themselves by the art they have given us. Quite the conundrum, it really is.

I imagine Spooky Tooth listening back over Spooky Two in ’69 and having a profound yet romantic belief that they had arrived at a point where no torch could be passed forward from. Or maybe it was Hawkwind looking over Space Ritual or for sure it had to be the collective feeling of everyone listening to records in their parent’s midwest basements the first time they settled the needle onto Master of Reality. How do you get beyond Black Sabbath, ya know? Yet here we are with thirty plus years between the germ and the disease watching bands like Meatbodies not only continuing to push things organically forward but still despite the sea of Big Muff pedals and jean jackets have found a way of not only belonging within the group dynamic that’s rebuilding itself from the ashes of corporate and commercial ambitions which strangled out nearly every ounce of creativity from psychedelia by the time we were even born to be one of the oh so rare bands managing to become a phoenix out of the ashes to appear above it all, as a beacon of proof that things can get better, that this seemingly stagnant scuzzy cesspool is not limited to those defining characteristics. I love when bands are solid enough to show me such golden yet gentle reminders that creativity can rise out of conformity because from my view in Austin,TX you can see the light at the end of the tunnel but more and more with each passing day it’s hard not coming to grips with the fact that it’s probably the train.  I’ll take every song of distorted hope I can find, “Tremmors” sustains me.

Meatbodies – Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter

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Gorgeous Bully

“Couldn’t Keep It To Myself”

Gorgeous Bully-Optimized

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Manchester’s Gorgeous Bully create honest sounds. There’s a truth at the heart of their songs. Of course there’s something about being from the UK which wraps what they do with a fuzzed facade to hide behind yet even that works to help make their songs breathe with understanding. The entire Nobody Hates You As Much As You Hate Yourself album is pretty spot on for my tastes; drifting between The Memoriesesque reverbed confessions and a distorted post-adolescence aligning with The Delphines and Teenagers. So obviously they’re rad. I definitely recommend checking more of their noise out, they have only been on my radar for maybe two months now and have grown on me tremendously in such a short time.

Gorgeous Bully – Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter

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Twin Peaks

“Strawberry Smoothie”

Photo by Daniel Topete

Photo by Daniel Topete

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For years Twin Peaks have found a way to consistently surprise me. Each time I begin believing I have them figured out they push things further beyond the assumed comfort zone I had placed them in with such disregard that I’m starting to believe they can do just about anything.

“Strawberry Smoothie” may quite possibly be the best Twin Peaks track to date. From the very beginning this is a song that edges us forward; The dimensionally climbing guitars tumbling over each other, starving for attention and shying away when received, the snap drum fills through the verses keeping things from ever losing that sense of edging fanaticism, this song is so Chicago it’s endearing. These dudes are on their way up for sure.

Twin Peaks – Facebook | Soundcloud

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Bear In Heaven

“Autumn”

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

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Apparently Brooklyn’s still got some magic left and Bear In Heaven are still one of the few who possess it. “Autumn” is exactly where drone-pop can successfully avoid contrition. The entire Time Is Only A Day Old (Dead Oceans/Hometapes) album shows a band stepping even further away from those indie roots they zoned out in for so long; basically it sounds like the dudes spent a lot of time during the writing process listening to DIIV and they seem to have came out a better band for it.

Recently I found myself growing quite numb to their repetitive dynamic which is enjoyable in small doses but to absorb them for any extended period of time leaves me drained and unmotivated about their albums. “Autumn” is more intelligently crafted than their previous work, I hope it’s a sign of maturity for the future, these guys really could make a lasting difference if they keep reshaping themselves.  It’s not like they have made bad music up until now, it’s just fulfilling when the songs are bigger and more directly sculpted. All of us who’ve dug and followed Bear In Heaven seem to be on the same page with that sentiment as far as the conversations I have experienced have led me to believe.

Bear In Heaven – Facebook | Soundcloud | Website

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Dilly Dally

“Candy Mountain”

Photo by Scarlett Rose

Photo by Scarlett Rose

It doesn’t get much more late-nineties than “Candy Mountain” …. this could very well be the first time I’ve ever said that about a song and meant it as a compliment.

This is the third single Dilly Dally have put out this year, the other two were promising but neither has come close to affecting the way this one does. What else I’ve heard from them seems too bound up in an attempt to make clear concise songs with a conscious awareness of wanting the female garage punk elements to be apparent. The other two tracks are enjoyable but somewhat thin. The order of release on the singles has led up quite nicely to “Candy Mountain” making a bolder statement than had they merely released a completed album rather than slow dripping it onto the world. There are some very Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins undertones exclusively present on this offering, neither band I’m a staunch supporter of (god, I can already sense the Radiohead dudes typing up the angry emails I’ll be receiving in the coming days. Calm down, it’s only music), I do though find myself really being caught positively by their blatant elements coming across forceful yet naturally enough as to lead us to believe that those elements were entirely connected subconsciously.

It’ll be a few more years before Dilly Dally fully arrive but they’ve got the support behind them and seemingly a drive towards progress, those two elements could mean huge things for this Toronto band.

Dilly Dally – Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

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Flesh Panthers

“Nervous Breakdown”

Flesh Panthers

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Flesh Panthers are so damn great. They get in your face without aggression. They’re one of those bands when live feel as if the entire world is getting frantic together, you lose yourself in the dissolving of the barrier between musicians and crowd as it builds into this contingency of volatile rock n roll. If you dig Thunders  or Sweet Talk you’ll definitely get stoked for these guys.They put out their self-titled album on Dumpster Tapes back in February and it is well near the top of the best I’ve heard this year.

There are very few Black Flag songs which I wouldn’t scoff at for being covered on an album but “Nervous Breakdown” is one which didn’t actually deliver on its potential; the vocals of the original are solid but despite the passion, Keith Morris never gave the band that convicted presence which developed into the eighties, I’m sure a large part of this comes from having no budget and self-releasing the EP so, as far as history goes, I get the importance, especially just looking at the SST implications, but as a fan of Blag Flag they definitely proved they could do better. Which is where Flesh Panthers walking around in this song like they are just now hearing Ginn and the boys for the first time and really making it feel relevant compared to if they’d done something safe like “My War” ends up showing a craft to the noise and quite possibly comes out as the strongest song on the album. It’s one thing to take a cover and not trash it, and I have respect for even that, it is absolutely uncommon though to find one which makes it better (123‘s version of “Last Caress (The Misfits)” is another which comes to mind).

Catch Flesh Panther in the wild when they come through your town, I mean it.

Flesh Panthers – Facebook | Bandcamp

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Bad Cop

“Wet Lips”

Bad Cop

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While on a Flesh Panthers/Thunders kick it really wouldn’t be fare to leave Nashville’s Bad Cop out of the conversation. “Wet Lips” is two years old and one of the first songs in the same vein which took me from that feeling of “yeah, this is solid” to ‘HEY, YOU GOTTA CHECK THIS OUT.” Jeffery Drag Records ( Twin Peaks, Natural Child, Promised Land Sound etc…) is a label I follow much closer than most, their lineup is inconsistentish in sound but static with quality. I’m yet to catch Bad Cop live but I’m sure it’s loud and shit.

Bad Cop – Facebook | Website

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Strand Of Oaks 

“Goshen 97”

Strand Of Oaks Heal

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When I first heard the new Strand Of Oaks album Heal (Dead Oceans) the first twelve seconds were full of a whole bunch of “really?” and “Why?” …. those doubts were fleeting. Sure this isn’t the same Timothy Showalter I have been shouting about from the rooftops for so long. Lucky for us this version is bigger.

It’s weird how huge someone can become with just a little support behind them. “End In Flames” seems a lifetime ago,  a time of defeat and sadness and Strand Of Oaks was the band playing on the Titanic, a friend holding our hand all the way to the bottom, putting one arm around your shoulder, blocking the wind as you raise the lighter to your cigarette with the other and saying with a hushed calm “we’re in this together.”

He’s still baring those midwestern scars in his lyrics, he’s not pulling a Kings of Leon on us or anything like that but these new songs shine a light to contrast the difference between those bumming feelings in his mind to that talent which was so apparently compressed when bumming across the country by himself, hell J Mascis plays on “Goshen 97” (J MASCIS!!!!). I had to drag my brother an hour and a half out of town to watch him play for like four people in Bloomington,IN when opening for Joe Pug so many years ago. That show defines everything I felt about music before moving to Texas; that there was still some genuinely talented and honest people left creating music and nobody gave a shit about them. Turns out there’s a whole lot of unimportant people like myself still doing what we can to get our friends to take notice to anything that doesn’t sound like a beer commercial (btw did you see Death Grips allowing Adidas to use one of their songs…. hypocrites!).

There is still hope my friends. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, deserves the attention and the right to shift their sound in whatever direction they desire as Showalter. The dude believed in himself for so many years while practically no one else did and all that time developing himself he chose to push his skill rather than feeling limited by it to create a true force worthy of recognition. For how much I’m stoked by Heal it doesn’t compare to how glad I am that he was the one to create it. Strand Of Oaks from the bottom up is solid gold.

Strand Of Oaks – Facebook | Bandcamp | Tumblr

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Dead Ghosts

“Can’t Get No”

Dead Ghosts Cant Get No

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There is no weaker post I’ll put up each year than the HCK! Best Albums of list. I say that so often I can’t help but wonder why I keep doing it (hits most likely…. what can I say, I crave attention).  From the moment I post it this overwhelming feeling of something missing in a huge way weighs on my shoulders. Dead GhostsCant Get No (Burger Records) should have been in the top three, if only going off the comparison between how much I still play the albums on the list Dead Ghosts would be at number one (sorry Bad Lovers). Seriously, there are some major holes in last year’s list but none as big as the one left by excluding these guys.

One of the major reasons for a lack of output on the site as of late has been my diving head first in influences and roots of every sound the bands I currently love are making. Anyone can track down solid music a few years after the release, I try for the most part to only focus on sharing the bands that take those great albums, listen to them a thousand times, and then create their own band with those influences casually on their sleeves. The more I fall down that rabbit hole of self-education the more Dead Ghosts steal my heart with just how obviously influenced they are but manage coming across as being almost unaware of it. They epitomize my place in appreciation of music at this exact moment. There’s a lot mixed in over the twelve tracks they gave us last year and not one single song falls short of making it the exact record you want on anytime you are getting stoned at four in the morning with friends. Mistakes happen.

Can’t Get No” is the opening title track from the album and it sets the tone so damn well. It is as real of a breakup song from a dude in a touring band as there is; contrasting the instant passion of falling massively for someone quickly then leaving town and having that mounting battle of imagined potential playing over and over with each passing mile. It deals directly with how we discuss the pros and cons within ourselves. One line will be about knowing that going back to be with this babe would be heaven but the next focuses on the realization that in no time the excitement of dating some guy who seemed wild only subsides into just another domesticated dude to get bored with and move on from.

Having the chorus simply state “I can’t get no” as alluding to “Satisfaction” from the Rolling Stones is insane allusion brilliance. Even the play on how the Stones song title would have been more fitting as saying “I can’t get no satisfaction,” Dead Ghosts simply states those missing four words and leaves the attachment from one song to the next as being implied with no possibility of avoiding it. It is one thing to have one song inspired by another but to build a path that completely guides you back to the first is brilliant, when the lines “I can’t get no” come on, mark my words and notice how you without fail will find yourself thinking about “Satisfaction.” That’s talent to me.

Every song on the album is a bridge to the past but it’s one worth crossing and anyone going out to see local band after local band understands how unlikely that is.

 

Dead Ghosts – Facebook | Bandcamp

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I just realized how deep into this mix I’m getting and still have seven songs I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to share. I don’t want to have so many songs on the list that people grow tired of scrolling before reaching the end and never coming across some song I feel convicted they should experience. Since the songs are already lined up I’ll aim to have another post up next week rather than the intended two/three week space.

Got two RADNOTBAD posts on the way before the end of the month which I’ve been threatening for months now it seems. I am about to start doing old shitty movie reviews on here as well,  I probably spend fifty percent of my free time engulfed by them and have finally reached a point where I feel I may be well versed enough to write somewhat intelligently about them, I gotta feeling you losers will be cool with it. I’ve already been doing links to some of them via HCK! Facebook page if you’re trying to follow what I’m talking about.

So let’s close this week’s post out with an old song I absolutely LOVE.

 

 

Exuma

“Monkberry Moon Delight”

Exuma Reincarnation Front

Exuma is one of the largely forgotten gems of the early 70’s. He put out massively great albums that never caught the right ear. Born in the Bahamas and moving in 1959 at the age of seventeen to Greenwich Village, the influences of both diverse cultures comes out in every single song of his. He had a Dr. John delivery with soul and rasp yet it sounds huge in comparison. Many of his songs, such as “Attica,” go off in a really jazzy direction but still manage to sound like more convicted versions of Richie Havens songs. I figure putting this version of Paul McCartney‘s “Monkberry Moon Delight” is the best way to see just how powerful this dude was and what a shame it is that his music hasn’t spread its influence more directly rather than being cliff notes to so many lesser artists at the same time. I use the term “lesser” lightly here, they’re still great,I mean Richie Haven‘s live version of “Freedom” has got to be up there on the greatest live recordings of all-time list, I’m just saying even our heroes were influenced by other bands on the same scene and Exuma left a wake behind him which goes unacknowledged but exists none the same. I also picked this song because the Reincarnation (Kama Sutra Records) album cover (front and back as a whole) is one of my favorite pieces of art ever created.

Exuma Reincarnation Back.

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All songs are for promotional purposes only. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed contact HCK! at Heycoolkid@yahoo.com. Got a band submission? Send it to the same place.

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