SSION | Fool's Gold | Self-released
Ssion are like a no-budget Fischerspooner by way of Hee Haw, and their forthcoming second full-length, Fool's Gold, is a filthy, funny slice of homo-disco heaven. The video for the first single, a procruising ditty called "Street Jizz" (as in "Gee whiz / Street jizz / It feels more dirty than it really is"), has been making its way round the blogs for the last few months. An antic mix of animation and live-action, it was codirected by mustachioed front man Cody Critcheloe, who with any luck will be justly recognized as a subversive queer icon once the record sees release. (Sadly, he's still better known as a guy who does artwork for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.) Diehards, act fast: Shopped & Crude, an extremely limited (100 copies) chopped-and-screwed version of the album, is available now.
NO AGE | No Age | Youth Attack
NO AGE | Dead Plane | Teardrops
NO AGE | Every Artist Needs A Tragedy | PPM
NO AGE | Get Hurt | Upset the Rhythm
NO AGE | Sick People Are Safe | Deleted Art
Between bands like Foot Village, BARR, and Lavender Diamond (see reviews below), LA is undergoing a scene explosion unlike anything the city has seen since Darby Crash was alive and puking. One of the central forces is the guitar-drums duo No Age. Formed out of the ashes of the gloriously short-lived Wives, they're a pop band with noise motives, writing sun-bleached songs that at once chime and roar. This month they're giving the outside world what-fer by releasing four EPs and a seven-inch on five obscure labels at the same time, but Fat Cat will make it easier for everyone when they compile them as a full-length this fall.
FOOT VILLAGE | Fuck The Future | Deathbomb Arc
Foot Village is an acoustic hardcore quartet that touts itself as antielectricity; there aren't any guitars in the mix, just drums and a whole lot of yelling. Most of the songs on the new full-length are named for countries--"Brazil," Korea," "Where Ever the Fuck Arnold Schwarzenegger's From"--but the centerpiece is "Egypt," a seven-minute epic of free-jazz moaning that grows ever more tortured, punctuated by coughing fits and explosions of unsynchronized pounding. It's political, confrontational, and a little annoying. Linda Sharrock fans, take note.
SANTOGOLD | Various MP3s
If you're tired of waiting for M.I.A.'s major-label cannonball to drop, troll over to the MP3 blog aggregator Hype Machine (hypem.com) and look up SantoGold. This New York-based MC, who previously fronted the ska-punk band Stiffed, won't have an album out until later this year, but the half-dozen tracks that have been leaked online--featuring the work of hot-shit producers like Switch, Disco D, and Naeem Juman and XXXchange from Spank Rock--already sound like the salvation of the summer. The best of the bunch, the FreQ Nasty-produced "Creator," is the sort of thing you can't just play once: rich and juicy with a touch of Kingston soul and a murderous snap beat.
BARR | Summary | 5RC
Usually when people talk about a band defying convention, it's a safe bet the music either sounds like Pavement or involves a fretless bass. But Brendan Fowler isn't defying convention--he's massacring it. BARR isn't so much his one-man band as it is his vehicle to discuss the idea of a band. He doesn't sing, though his cadence is singsongy, and he doesn't rap, though his lyrics occasionally rhyme and he usually performs to a beat (and little else). His latest, Summary, veers into pop territory more than anything he's done in the past, with real bass and piano lines, but even the listener-friendly moments (like the should-be hit "The Song Is the Single") don't stray from Fowler's primary concern: the process of art becoming a product. Part Jim Carroll Band, part Miranda July, totally essential.
KALABRESE | Rumpelzirkus | Stattmusic
It's rare to hear the phrase "organically funky" applied to minimal Swiss techno, but when it comes to Sascha Winkler (aka Kalabrese), the shoe fits. He's taken the robotic chill out of Euro-techno and replaced it with hand claps, cowbells, horny horns, cheap keyboards, and beats that sound like someone eating an apple. When he sings "Funk, funk, funk / I'm movin' / I'm dancin'" on "Auf Dem Hof," he sounds whiter than Zurich snow, but it's so dumb, funny, and unapologetically wrong that it feels human in a way most contemporary techno never does.
BONE AWL | So I Must Take The Earth | Hospital Productions
California was an unlikely candidate to become a hotbed of black metal, but that's exactly what's happened the last couple years. As a way of keeping the scene there free of posers, bands have taken the hallmarks of the genre--indecipherable growling vocals, discordant and repetitive guitar patterns, submerged, plodding drum beats--to seemingly imprudent extremes. Here to up the ante again is Bone Awl, a mysterious duo from Davis featuring He Who Gnashes Teeth on guitar, bass, and vocals and He Who Crushes Teeth on drums. On this double seven-inch they reduce metal to its primal core: a grim, fuzzy thud with production values that could politely be described as "awful."
LAVENDER DIAMOND | Imagine Our Love | Matador
A bunch of bands have been lumped into this whole freak-folk thing for reasons that have little to do with the actual music. Lavender Diamond are a good example: from the very first note their new record, Imagine Our Love, is nothing but utterly majestic, deeply unfreaky soft rock. With a virginal lilt that's way more Karen Carpenter than Karen Dalton, singer Becky Stark repeatedly hangs on the word love, stretching it across multiple measures of piano, violin, and a slowly slapped tambourine.
For more on music, see our blogs Crickets and Post No Bills at chicagoreader.com.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Ssion, No Age/photos b Jaimie Warren, Cali Dewitt.