Blasé Schtick, Trends, & Distortion

4 Dec

Blase Schtick Trends And Distortion

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The Abigails

“Medication”

The Abigails-Optimized

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I caught a few Abigails sets over this year’s SXSW and for whatever reason I felt very detached from them. Between the venue lineups not being cohesive to their sound and the crowds reacting surprisingly flat to the noise, it all left me uninspired. By the time Tundra came around the following month the two years of getting intensely into these guys had been diminishing as they continued on what seemed an inevitable backslide to the pitch black emptiness at the edges of my external hard-drive, so foolishly I didn’t give it a chance.

Here we are six months later where I stumble over “Medication” on shuffle, instantly, clearly, remembering what sets them apart from nearly everyone else grinding their emotions across America; the lyrics are real, minimal, cutting; personal with honest absolution. Warren Thomas forever continues to channel a less whimsical yet more strung out Lee Hazlewood and it is glorious.

How in the hell could I have not seen it? Must have been the free beer and limited sleep I guess… What crowd in the world isn’t going to seem deflated when the dark labyrinth of their individual soul is being vehemently reflected before them in a passively anxious facade of unbathed Los Angeles cool? The Abigails feel like an 80’s horror film trailer, whatever that means.

Medication” is an updated “Heroin,” a true portrait of the junky mind. I’m not saying they are Burroughs or anything but they sure as hell come as near as our ironical generation could ever hope to get. These dudes make the dark end of the street seem like the only place worth hanging… even David Arquette would dig it.

In hindsight it was most likely my expectations causing their magic to be less than enjoyable so I have every intention of heading into the next show with clear eyes and a full heart. I just hope Thomas doesn’t die before I get a chance. He should be fine, right?

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The Abigails – Facebook | Bandcamp

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Mexican Slang

“Halcyon”

Mexican Slang-Optimized

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This weather shift has turned minimal spaced-out shit into Confucius words for weary bones. I could lay in bed, the window open, eyes closed but not sleeping, this song looping for hours, the ideal passing of time, white-washing the day in static, swelling above above above before that free-falling wind-in-our-ears hush. “Halcyon” is madness and beauty and Canadian, what more could we want?

In general Mexican Slang rule my emotions, this is the vortex of their noise; different, rare,  the pied piper’s song,  Doug Masters soundtrack as he heads with blind heroics into certain death, the first click of Dorothy’s slipper’s, Panning’s crow, the Dude’s white-Russian. As long as this song is playing I may never climb from underneath this blanket…. What is your heaven like?

Mexican Slang put this song out on their July EP  Inside The Velvet Castle (Buzz Records), it is up for four dollars on their Bandcamp page, the rest of their back catalog is either free or name-your-price, you should probably download it all.

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Mexican Slang – Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Buzz Records

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BBQ

“Agitated”

BBQ-Optimized

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One of the first real rock bands I got into was The Spaceshits and one of my absolute favorite bands to this day is Les Sexareenos whose sound is undeniably the backbone of what is probably the best album to have on at a party ever; the self-titled and only album from The Almighty Defenders. Probably known best for playing alongside King Khan with The BBQ Show, Mark Sultan is one of my favorite minds in music.  Every song of his regardless of style or project feels like a reincarnated Fred “Sonic” Smith (especially the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band era noise). The dude can rail on guitar and cut the veil down with lyric clarity, it amazes me how many legends forever remain off in the shadows. I’m as equally perplexed by his anonymity as I am appreciative of it.

Sultan is one of the few writers who rather than avoiding self-reflection of age and the acceptance that time is real embraces it and speaks honestly towards that moment in life rather than towing the line of perpetuated here and now rock n roll. People change, bonds which seem infinite prove to ultimately be products of situational-conditions collectively experienced by everyone in their early twenties. There is disappointment which comes with change, reflecting that is often times not easily translated without sounding like another band who spent too much time on tour listening to Springsteen and Jackson Browne. Every now and then though maturity doesn’t equate to loss of skill, “Agitated” nails this case in point.

He posted this song via his Youtube page three weeks ago with the announcement about this being, ” just a way to get it out there for whomever wants to hear it. It’s coming out soon on 45 b/w a cover of The Troggs’ classic ‘I Can’t Control Myself‘. It’ll be out on In the Red, and Wild Honey in Europe. The 45 will also include the last 4 songs I recorded as a ‘band’ (me playing everything except for some organ tracks) back in 2011 or 12. These will be a download only thing. Anyhow, this song will also be appearing on my next LP, coming out in 2015. I’m back as ‘BBQ’, back to doing live off the floor, one-man recordings. Simple, to the point rock’n’roll.”

Hallelujah and Amen.
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BBQ – Facebook | Youtube | Website

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Greg Mullen and the Cosmic American Band

“Postcards From Des Moines”

Greg Mullens

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Although “Postcard from Des Moines” is a year old, it is singularly my favorite song on this week’s mix. Ive been playing it twice a day for months now and every single time it resonates gloriously. The lyrics lay out nearly autobiographically with my feelings in reflection of this place and time I’m in, the same place in time seemingly shared by everyone facing/embracing their thirties after chasing that neon rainbow from one lost highway to the next. If Thomas Wolfe had penned a song instead of “You Can Never Go Home Again,” I’m fairly certain this is how it would have sounded.

The fact that this album is up for name-your-price on their Bandcamp page and still so little coverage has gone their way thus far, I’d feel guilty if I wasn’t doing something positive to implement change for their future.

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Greg Mullen & the Cosmic American Band – Facebook | Bandcamp

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Luke Winslow-King

“Everlasting Arms”

Luke Winslow-King

I grew up around bluegrass, my grandfather was a somewhat established fiddle player, my uncle followed The Grateful Dead, my family moved from one-stoplight town to another my entire life, so as far as a folk/traditional upbringing goes I was more privileged than most to be so engulfed in the roots of the roots. Oddly though I was oblivious to the experience until I spent two years rambling around the east coast playing every forgotten coffee shop/dive-bar/open mic fate brought along my path.

When I first ran from home at seventeen (I’m thinking specifically of the Virginia/DC area) every place I went seemed to have these long nights of one talented songwriter after another mixing in two or three traditional songs into every set. There were so many old songs I had never heard, hymns with rhythms everyone immediately knew and I could barely comprehend, large creole women and their close-eyed homages to hard weary years of their childhood, businessmen pulling on a rarely played acoustic with their button-up white business shirts playing songs their fathers taught them in some vaguely fading suburban past. It was purely an escape from the monotonous weary family life of endless bills and non-being for most of those guys, they played with such appreciation that it didn’t matter their background, they were merely vessels to help make sense of the world for a few breathes.

The dingy dusty rooms would have a handful of people talking over their selfish selves and I would sit in the front row leaning forward on my knees, my face covered with a huge nerding smile getting educated for hours on end, cursing the noise and their stupidity. By the time I was up to play I felt so humbled and ill equipped for the moment, not so much by talent or a feeling of possessing a lesser ability, instead it burned from the realization that they drew from a deeper well, all the lyrics in the world can’t come close to genuine understanding, a song sang with memories, a voice channeling a father’s words. Luke Winslow-King’s music takes me back to those beautiful and heartbreaking nights getting to the heart of it.

His entire Everlasting Arms (Bloodshot Records) album is wholesome and ambitious and on a fall afternoon in Texas the perfect record to run the needle across. I have no idea really how I came to even pick it up, I woke up early one morning with a strange desire to buy an album from someone I had never heard before and the first person I came across was Luke Winslow-King.  I had it playing on repeat for three days last week. It’s not a great album in the typical sense, it’s flawed and the ambition is commendable but occasionally falls short of the mark yet there is growth and confidence in every note, all of which are obvious allusions to the well which he draws from. He makes me feel like home, not too many artist do that.

 Luke Winslow-King – Facebook | Website

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The High Curbs

“Can Not Even”

The High Curbs

I don’t care how good or positive life is, there is always time to scream along with a rad breakup song, “Can Not Even” is the best I’ve heard since Told Slant put out Still Water. I picture a basement full of sweaty dudes screaming this until the cops show up to thug around the party complaining about the noise.

A comparison to The Black Lips is inevitable, for how important and borderline catalystic TBL are to the resurgence of seventies fueled garage rock they definitely have shied away from anything which felt truly personal on the lyrical level since the very beginning, so anytime a band circles in on their territory as long as it is done with more integrity than the original incarnation then bands, especially such as The High Curbs, deserve a place in our artistically angsty lives.

The High Curbs – Facebook | Bandcamp

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Dilly Dally

“Green”

Photo by Scarlett Rose

Photo by Scarlett Rose

I don’t know what I’m more upset about, the fact so many bands are jumping on the 90’s throwback trend or the fact that I’m actually into some of it. Either way, here’s the new Dilly Dally track.

Dilly Dally – Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

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Dragster

“Lou l’Enfer Chasseur De Dragons”

Dragster

I know french spoken rock n roll is about the lamest blasé schtick trend to encompass distortion in recent years but these dudes are actually French so they get a free pass. Don’t worry, most of Dragster‘s songs are penned in English, this is merely my favorite. I wonder if foreign countries are as annoyed and self-righteous about their bands singing in English as I am towards Americans singing in French?

These dudes are obviously obsessed with Coachwhips. These dudes rule. Thanks to Google translate I could easily regurgitate what little information I can pull about the duo back at you with an all-knowing air but since Dragster are fresh out of the womb state-side the only thing at this point which matters is they put out the three song Shit By Dragster EP last winter followed by the Ganja War EP in June and both are up for name-your-price on their Bandcamp page, this is a perfect band at a perfect point to leave for you to judge on your own.

 Dragster – Facebook | Bandcamp

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Sylvan Esso

“Coffee”

Photo by DL Anderson

Photo by DL Anderson

I hope that HCK!’s track record of being well ahead of the curve on addicting, mainstream threatening, pop will excuse the fact that “Coffee” is going up well into some already building scene awareness. God it is so great though.

If you happen to have an hour to kill look up the number of god-awful remixes of this track, I’m not saying there is no talent in the EDM world but we can all agree that cow has been milked for all it is worth at this point, I can’t help but find myself equally nauseated by the number of hits landing on those remixes as I am by the number of dudes who actually refer to themselves as “artists” while creating the garbage. I digress, Sylvan Esso rule. I read quite a few negative comments (I know how rare that is to find from douche bags on the internet *sarcasm*) about their talent/stage-presence/etc, while typing this out, haters gonna hate, they good.

Sylvan Esso – Facebook | Bandcamp | Website

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The Lees Of Memory

“Little Fallen Star”

The Lees Of Memory-Optimized

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I’m far from ready to apologize for the things I’ve said about 2001-2005; I was there, it sucked, the music sucked, thank god we didn’t give up. If though, The Lees of Memory had put out the post-90’s Sisyphus Says ten years ago I might be willing to concede that some bands actually got it right. Unfortunately it is 2014 so the best I can say is that at least those five years of faux-emotional corporate fueled DIY-ruse weren’t completely for naught. Who would have thought a decade later it would be a band on Sideonedummy to extract the potential and develop it into something worthwhile?

Superdrag fans would probably like to skate around the truth to hone in on some very slight similarities between The Lees of Memory and a former staple such as My Bloody Valentine but the truth of the matter is these guys actually just sound like a better Mae, which is a terrible way to try getting someone to respect these Nashville cats but that is as honest as it gets.

Sisyphus Says is one of the strongest albums this year and easily the most powerful to catch our hipsteresque expectations a bit off balance.

The Lees of Memory – Facebook | Twitter

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Weaves

“Shithole”

Weaves

Weaves are coming out of their transitional phase from mixtape darlings to being labeled sell-outs as an offshoot of cultural awareness. To some extent their cleaning up of sound could grossly contribute to their demise amongst their peers but, as per usual, critics love when a band makes it easier for their mid-life crisis ears to withstand, while still early enough into the shift as to still have that youthful lifeblood trickling through their veins before capitalism beats it into disgraced submission.

There is much hypothetical projection in that previous statement, and before we jump shark on the future of Weaves lets at least acknowledge that in this moment “Shithole” is a positive step forward for the band. Hopefully Weaves is smart enough to acknowledge that recording techniques make the difference between last year’s insanely catchy “Hulahoop” being great or what could have been commercial garbage, if ever there has been a perfect example of how thin and difficult the balance between those two sides can be “Hulahoop” was it.

I’m trying once more to keep in mind that these stretch and yawns into mainstream acceptable territory are not always mere foreshadowing of talent getting laid on the altar of financially responsible decisions. I really hope Weaves remains faithful to the fans and writers who have been adamant about getting them recognition amongst respected friend circles instead of some idea that barely scrapping by is worthy of scoffing at when it should be the pinnacle of artistic success. I wonder how many thousands of bands have let us down up until now after passing through their own buzz created crucible (ahem Bass Drum of Death). Weaves please don’t give in, let this song just be another gem to have playing through our headphones rather than some death-rattle of a passion’s death.

Weaves – Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Website

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All songs are for promotional purposes, if you or an artist you represent would like content removed contact HCK! at Heycoolkid@yahoo.com

There’s always time to keep moving forward

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