MAY QUEENS: eponymous

ROCKING ONE-OFF FROM GOD CULT

God Machine. Ocean vast, yet lost – to Tumour, the Premature Life-ender. R.I.P.

Seven years after bassist Jimmy Fernandez’s death at 29, God Machine frontman Robin Proper-Sheppard put out this tidy number under the May Queens moniker in 2000, and you’d never make the connection. Short, catchy, carefree – everything the GM weren’t – this 30-minute self-titled wax job sits a lot closer to the just-off-mainstream rock of the day than the God Machine ever did, meaning it’ll never pull on your inner emo or inspire a cult-ish devotion like Sheppard-Fernandez-Austin’s machine trio.

But this sole (isn’t it?) May Queens release is worth nabbing if you get the chance, because it’s a summer breezer – an airy antidote to GM’s turbulent heavy weather – and it’s got an opening track that’s so charged it’s DANGEROUS. You know how some tracks always sound louder than the volume you’re on, like they’re too big to be contained by a mere recording process? Well, there’s a flash of that with Theme for the May Queen No.1 – Alright (Oh Yeah). 128 seconds of garage rattle ‘n’ roll, speeding with a slacker’s lack of lyrics (ooh yeah/alright, repeat), but that’s the way it has to be for a track like this – anything more literate than Sub-Moron would detract and distract from Theme No. 1’s enormo rock thrust.

The May Queens

The May Queens: alright (oh yeah)

And that thrust comes after the verse. Go back to Duel, from Swervedriver’s Mescal Head, and check the volume push on the riff in the chorus – the bit that makes you wanna hurl yourself around at a gig. Got it? So has Theme No.1, ‘cept it’s ramped up with centrifugal fling … and today, 17 years after a first hearing, it STILL slams hard. Try it. But if you’re about to bust your May Queen Theme 1 cherry, do it with speakers or headphones that carry some welly, eh? No point fumbling a premature blowout on a tinny tiny device-hole… give yourself some room.

After such a launch, what of the rest of the album? First, a couple of low-pressure warnings: Like a Record and Falling (Won’t You Fall In Too) are pretty non-descript janglers/punch-free pop, depending on how charitable you are. Other than those two though, the May Queens album is a solid summer spin. Closer hints at White Denim’s freewheeling cool – dusty rock for boot cuts – while Rollin’ nicks a Zep-ish slide-off and hammers it with the kind of clang that Archie Bronson Outfit struck on Derdang Derdang. Tonite coasts with a Pumpkins lilt on a summer’s eve.

The last cut revisits the title of the opening track, but not the music. Theme for the May Queen No. 2 – Car Crash (Pulsating Core) is a deliciously warped Bond theme surfing with Man or Astroman, and it’s waaaaay too short. If the May Queens had jammed on crash for another 5 minutes and knocked Falling off, it would have swung the record nearer to the road’s edge than the middle.

So, more of a lost favourite than a stone chilled classic, this record suits if Swervedriver’s heavy overdrive and pop nous has served you well in years gone by (not surprising, given Adam Franklin and Robin Proper-Sheppard’s shared history and Sophia/Sophia Collective overlap). 

May Queens: sunshine cool with a Theme-time burn. 


SUPERSHIT 666: eponymous

GINGER’S MUTATION AND OTHER NOISE

With the CD release of Mutation III: Dark Black just around the corner (Error 500 review right here, if you fancy it), why not revisit one of Ginger Wildheart’s other noisier projects – the mightily unwashed Supershit 666?

*****

Plug it in, turn it up, PLAY IT LOUD… sounds corny, but sometimes the old ones are the best, and Supershit 666 – a one-night stand between the Wildhearts, Hellacopters and Backyard Babies in 1999 – is straight out of the old school. No acoustic guitars, no ambient interludes, no clever clever chord progressions… for those afraid to rock, we refuse you. Everyone else can crack open the 6-track and get drunk on a super-strength supershit audio brew, because if there’s one spirit that truly fuels the EP, it’s this:

Motorhead.

Whether it’s the relentless (We Are) The Road Crew loco-motion of Fast One, Dangermind‘s greased-up shimmy or even the scattering of Fast Eddie licks, the Motorspirit is inescapable. Add the fact that Wildhearts mainman Ginger is pretty much incapable of penning a tune without a whale-sized hook and you KNOW these thick, superheavy punk ‘n’ roll anthems are gonna stick around like dried-in cornflakes on the Bowl of the Great Unwashed. Forget the sugar coating, though – these toons are caked with peaking distortion for your over-amplified listening satisfaction.

Supershit666 CD

The real shit

First track, Wire Out, skips any idea of a warm-up for the EP – feedback, drums, BANG, straight in. And once the half-baked harmonica rips out of nowhere to spar with some equally half-baked guitar, resistance is officially futile ‘coz if all that doesn’t flip your riot switch, nothing will. It’s that kind of record. Live for the moment.

Maybe I’ll sleep tomorrow maybe, a million miles an hour baby…”  Wire Out

Fast One does what it sez, screaming towards blowouts and false endings, while the next three tracks – Dangermind, You Smell Canadian (is it really a Devin Townsend reference?) and Star War Jr – cop a distant feel of the Wildhearts at their Earth vs… best. Then it’s back to raw, booze-fuelled basics as the ‘shit close their 18-minutes with the none-more-apt Crank It Up! by The Rods.

Shortsharpfastloudrockandroll KICKS. Get yours, route 666.


(review first posted on Julian Cope’s Head Heritage site a few years back)

MELVINS: Stag

Houdini: the pinnacle of 90s Melvins … poke about the reviews and it always bags the biggest marks, topping many a most recommended pile – Houdini’s the one everyone seems to know about, it’s the one that’s got Kurt Cobain on it (a big deal at the time), and it’s the one that the band played in full for their Don’t Look Back gig in 2005, so maybe it’s me who’s missing some sort of point somewhere BUT … great though it is, Houdini* ain’t the album that best captures Melvins’ absurd beauty and ugly brilliance.

Stag is.

Melvins Stag CD

Stag: uncovered

Stag throws up EVERYTHING the Melvins are capable of, and that’s why it’s the place to get inside – or at least, get us non-Melvins yoomans somewhere close to – the scattershot strangeness/normalised weirdness pervading their inscrutable heads. Trippy, rocking, perverse, ambient, playful and all-out terrifying, Stag is wildly experimental without being tedious or pisstakingly relentless. Listen to Stag and every direction Melvins ever took starts to make sense, and this may be, paradoxically, because the album is less beholden to the Melvins’ key identifier til that point: the Buzz Riff. They’re in there, twistedly precise as ever, but to reach Melvins’ sustained heights of heavy quirk, you need more than riffs: you need imagination, freedom and fuck-you, and Stag is where all of that behind-the-eyes odderness explodes from the off.

First track The Bit is one of the best Melvins tracks ever, no question: sitar intro meets full-blown mother of a riff, it pounds you to the spot. It’s big – maybe bigger than any Melvins before it. Not because it’s longer or louder, but because it’s FULLER, and it’s this fullness that makes The Bit – and Stag – a mandatory Mel trip.

After a lysergic interlude (Hide) that’s rooted in Stoner Witch (Shevil), we crash on Bar-X-The Rocking-M, a reckless burst of trumpet (yes!!!) and turntable (???) shot through with Tool-esque hush n’ calm. Nothing like Yacob’s Lab – ambient – and The Bloat – stoner slider groover – that follow, and by now we know that, on Stag, anything goes. Every single one of the 16 tracks is unlike any other on the album**, so they are all highlights – here are a few, grouped into shitly-named (by me) categories.

Rock Hard Stag

AKA megawatt amplification and guitar Buzz. Buck Owens does freewheeling juggernaut clatter, Captain Pungent rocks the off beats into a seamless flow into Berthas, which burns a tight 70s 12-bar in your addled mey gratter, and remember we have The Bit and Bar-X front-loading the show. No shortage of rock hardy on Stag.

Quiet/Goof Stag

You want a minute and a half of bubbling liquid? That’s Soup. Lilting dreaminess? Black Bok. Back-porch railtrack blues? Cottonmouth. Chipmunks on a fuck-knows? Skin Horse. No, you couldn’t make it up … except, they did (but how?).

Ugly in the Morning Stag

You want a minute and a half of bubbling liquid? That’s Soup. OK, we just filed it as a quiet/goof job but the fact that it’s served up straight after Goggles curdles the appeal somewhat, and that’s coz Goggles IS fucking terrifying – slo-core noise by a serial killer’s house band, feat. Fudgetunnel’s Alex Newport on skin-peeling production. Says it all. Later on: Sterilized, a dank hellmare of pre-torture warm-up music, and Lacrimosa‘s slow Melv-o creep fest.

All of this experimentation means that Stag isn’t the album that most represents a Melvins sound – if such a thing exists – but it surely is the album that most represents THEM, as a band. Dale Crover makes the space to loom large – The Bloat, Tipping the Lion, Buck Owens – and the record points to any stage, phase or whim of the band’s career, like a Plus One companion for any Melvins album you’ll ever play.

The band got dropped by Atlantic after Stag, making it the last of their major-label years – some reward for such a kaleidoscopic splat of psychedelic greatness, eh? But it’s hard to imagine Melvins giving a fuck. 21 years later, most of them on Ipecac, they’re as prolific and  uncompromising as ever, and the list of artists indebted to their stubborn genius is longer than ever. Me, I gotta thank Stag for a mind-opening induction to Melvins world and to what rock bands can do if they’ve got the vision. It’s a Lifer, this one.

Melvins without limits.

 

* Hooch, Night Goat, Honey Bucket, Teet et al are diamonds for sure, but there’s a reason why Houdini is the third favourite of the three Atlantic albums: Spread Eagle Beagle. Has anyone played Houdini and actually looked forward to hearing this nine-minute momentum bummer at the end, peterin’ out the album’s singular rock vibe? Surely no. Stoner Witch hangs together much better – Revolve and Roadbull, fucking HELL – and the syrupy ambience of Shevil hints at Stag’s many outer limits.

** Butthole Surfers’ Independent Worm Saloon is another oddballin’ major label beaut from that era. Musically more focused than what went before, Inde Worm Sal bends any number of styles into its 17 tracks. Produced by John Paul Jones, released 1993 on Capitol, always worth a revisit.

Stag: essential Melvins

Stag: essential Melvins

DRORE: Tapeone

SPLASH METAL: THE BOG YEARS. Brutal sludge, straight outta Oxon

Tapeone starts with toilet humour. Literally. 40 seconds of what sounds like a giant piss, but if you ride it out then you make it into the lurching dirtball that is Skinjob, aka Tapeone’s track one. And at this point (piss excepted), Drore are probably what you’d expect – or at least, not un-expect – from a band made of two ex-Undersmile and a Crippled Black Phoenix: heavy, muddy, mid tempo business as usual. Until, that is, a ferocious double-kick screamcore blast, as unhinged as it is unexpected, shreds all preconception…. WTF???? Undersmile, gothic grinders of punishingly slow doom. CBP, widescreen purveyors of fluid spacebound psyche. Ne’er a gallop between ’em, ’til now. That’s Skinjob. That’s Drore. 

Drore Tapeone

So, compared to the parent bands, Drore are a very different kettle of scaly ones, packing feral sludge and noise overload into four concise scabs. Hippy Crack growls like … hell, I’m gonna bring the Big M in here: Metallica. Specifically, 2003 Metallica. St Anger Metallica. Great album (no, not joking) and, in the title track’s pre-verse riff, one of Metallica’s most primal moments … utterly monstrous, and Hippy Crack’s got the same growly churn going. Greys channels dank nightmare squalor, while Fukbags (the best Trainspotting character that never was?) even allows a sliver of post(ish)-metal to break through and ease, just for a mo, the full mettle racket that is Tapeone’s fetid stock.

When Drore opened for OHHMS last month, they came across as a band who make Massive Fucking Noise just because they like making Massive Fucking Noise, and the EP captures the MFN easily – listening to it after a live show is not a let down, not at all. The distorted scuzz-mammoth filth with the hostile slacker vibe is very, very much intact.

File somewhere near: Fudgetunnel, Godflesh, Greymachine, Louisiana metal, Part Chimp, Harvey Milk, St Anger, an open sewer


NEWS!!! Make space for Tapetwo, coz it’s just been recorded. NEW DRORE SHIT, ready to drop. Stand clear of the splash zone.



SLEEP: Dopesmoker

THE RETURN OF SLEEP

Southern Lord’s physical release of The Clarity marks the start of some proper Sleep activity this year, so what better prep for rock’s heaviest slumber than a nod or ten to the unstoppable Dopesmoker? This review was first written for Julian Cope’s Head Heritage Unsung back in 2004 so the time references are a bit out now, but that don’t matter … it still stands true, the bong remains the same.

*****

Now spreading its hefty gut over 3 sides of vinyl is the fully restored, who-ate-all-the-pies mix of Dopesmoker, the last album by cult doom/stoner trio Sleep.

Although the tale of its original recording and subsequent non-release has long since passed into underground lore, it deserves a hazy recap.

As the follow-up to Sleep’s Holy Mountain from 1993, this was supposed to be the band’s third full-length release. After spending a couple of years on the record, Sleep eventually dished up the mouldy fruits of their hard-smoked labours to London Records: a single track clocking in at over an hour. That, in itself, might not have been a problem (for the label) had their been some light and shade, some variety or even, dare we say it, a recognisable concept… but no. This is Sleep – the really deep, molten-eyelids stuff that’s just a stoner’s throw from Coma Tose Island. And that means one riff (pretty much) equals one song equals one hour, the simplest equation in the history of rock. Didn’t add up for the label, though. They refused to release it, Sleep refused to change it and a deadlock ensued; the threesome split and the album remained on the shelf, cementing Sleep’s legendary status. Rise Above did manage to put out a shortened version called Jerusalem but, finally, in 2003, Tee Pee Records did the honours. Here’s what the sleeve notes say:

Dopesmoker is an alternate version of Jersualem that we felt our fans might enjoy. This early version, as yet unheard, contains a more dynamic recording and a heavier mix. So get high, crank it up and listen with open ears and mind…”

Sleep's Dopesmoker

Dopesmoker uncut

So… let’s get started, eh?

Well, nearly. Dopesmoker almost doesn’t start at all. Beginning with a slow, arthritic guitar line that just about musters the energy to lumber out of bed, it sounds a wee bit lost, trying to work out where it should go and which path to follow. Once the rolling percussion kicks in, however, a massive revelation comes to pass: “Fuck it. I AM the path.” And from thereon, there are no questions – you go with it, or you don’t: The Riff has been set free, swaggering ahead with all the ludicrous brilliance of a hundred-mile tractor ride, and that is what sucks you into the vinyl… the compelling absurdity of an hour-long opus that warps the fabric of time itself. Never mind Superman flying the opposite way around the planet – too many rotations of this platter and the world would stop for good. Aside from the occasional solo, lyrical interlude or brief excursion into more subtle terrain, Dopesmoker just keeps going… and going …and going. Not in an interminable, ultra doom slo-mo sense because Chris Hakius’ busy drum fills give it urgency, or at least the illusion of urgency. Nope, this obstinate mass of Sabbath-inspired heaviosity is an exercise in endurance, momentum and constancy. Even when the needle nears the very end of its marathon run, there is no cornball climax or pyrotechnic finale, just a soft fadeout which suggests the Sleep guys could have carried on for another couple of earthly rotations. In fact, they probably did. I like to think so.

But there’s more to this album than one gargantuan ode to weed. Closing the record on side four is Sonic Titan, a live track with a groove so loose it almost shits itself, guitar strings flapping like flares in a force 10. Doom garage, anyone? At 9 minutes, it’s a mere slip of a toon.

Stubborn? Stupendous? Absolutely, but the sublimely ridiculous never went down this well. If thick guitars, repetition and maximum mileage are your bag, succumb to the temptation of Sleep. Your body needs it.

DAVID BOWIE: Earthling

A man runs down a New York street, a figure of intimidation, or maybe a product of paranoid overimagination. He’s chasing, but he’s no sprinter. His target is older but more nimble. Whip thin, dashing.

Johnny’s an American?

***

In 1997, there was big interest in the Dame. He turned 50 that January – has anyone else kept An Earthling at 50 on video, taped from the tellybox but now without any means of watching it? – but even though Earthling went top 10, the reviews weren’t top mark, not that I can recall anyway. Bowie back then, unlike 2013 and definitely unlike 2016, was not critic proof. His rehabilitation was still tentative, and his new direction raised questions: was it a bit forced, this Earthling appropriation of the Metalheadz rhythm pushers? A bit middle-aged desperate?

Not a bit. Earthling is a vivid technicolour assault from a prolific Bowie era that now seems less about reinvention than rediscovery – rediscovering confidence, artistry and those all-important New Sounds. Two years earlier it was Outside‘s hour and a quarter of artsome perfection that had fired Bowie from Black Tie/Buddha Suburbia clubfunk reawakenings into alt-rock’s contemporary orbit, bristling with distortion and aggression yet never at the expense of melody and experimental rock nous. The Outside album was/is Bowie at his (then) modern-day best, and a co-headline world tour with Nine Inch Nails shunned the safety of a megahitsbestof, stringing itself up instead on the new-age visceral. ‘twas bold and darkedge, gothy even. Bowie was 48.

Earthling, however, bore none of its predecessor’s interludes and art-murder narratives. Earthling gets back to songs – a lean 10 – all of ’em packed with Bowie hooks but jammed and comped with loops, cut-ups and electronic beats. Earthling has no space. Dense sensory overload is queen.

What this means is that even now, just about 20 years after its release, the

hypertwitching drumnbass bigbeat skitter of Little Wonder hits hard like no other opener in Bowie’s back catalogue (Blackstar excepted, but for very different reasons). With his zeitgeisting muse fully open and receiving, Earthling was the last of his records – again, until Blackstar – that really pushed it, form-wise. Must have scared the shit out of the Bowie casuals, though they probably weren’t listening too hard anyway. Who was?

David Bowie: Earthling

Earthling: db does dnb (a bit)

Young Lollapalooza and Sub Pop heads, surely – the 90s coming-of-agers, the naive souls who had no truck with Tin Machine’s Under the God, the NIN fans getting  a kick out of the crossover. It’s those (us) who’ve got the hots for Earthling, and we don’t understand those who haven’t.

Little Wonder and I’m Afraid of Americans are the best known tracks, and for all of Little Wonder’s beaty thrill, it was Americans – the most overt hook-up of Bowie and Trent Reznor – that really planted an alt slant on the album. Trent-man appeared in the video, bloated and looking like shit – his Fragile years – but in the studio was peak-condition lean, forging six I’m Afraid of Americans mixes for an album-length maxi single including a radical 11-minute ambient deconstruction. Ice Cube and Photek got drafted in as well, making it a satisfyingly experimental listen in its own right, but even the original Americans – from the album, not on the single – has an abrasive NIN-jection, souping up the Pretty Hate Machine-ry with industrial production.

Seven Years in Tibet is the album’s sole nod to something calmer – sleazy mechanics lurk under clean chords (like Reznor’s Closer?) – with sax to soften, but for the chorus, the Earthling Overload Factor does a wreak-and-destroy job that exposes the lyrical noir all the more:

Are you ok?

You’ve been shot in the head

And I’m holding your brains

the old woman said.

Yeah… Bowie’s having an absolute blast on this record. It/he is urgent and nicotined and caffeinated and PLAYFUL, and so is the band. Cut-up non-sequiturs a la Burroughs, la-di-da lyrical tail-offs and guitar assaults from Reeves Gabrels (see Battle for Britain, you’ll know) combine to blow pretension and self censure clean off … no subtlety here, and Gabrels’s fireworking solos are built for the self-sampling chop-ups we got going. The Last Thing You Should Do has THE most violent eruption of guitar in a Bowie track ever. Probably. Heavyweight euphoria, total fucking release, go bask in its sprawling crunch after the 2nd chorus. Gabrels stamps all over Earthling, but then again, so does everything. It’s that kind of record.

David Bowie: I'm Afraid of Americans

Be afraid: the remixes

Got to mention Mike Garson as well, doing his thing as un-usual since Aladdin … check his whacked-out plonk at the end of Battle. Does it blend? No. Does it work? Same as it ever did: YES.

Dead Man Walking beats a hi-nrg path to club night (is it true that the F-to-G riff was shown to Bowie by Jimmy Page back in the day and then used on The Supermen?) and Telling Lies takes the drum-bass flavour up a notch, but what about the last track, Law (Earthlings on Fire)?

Possibly the most overlooked track of an overlooked album, Law shifts Earthling’s balance. Without Law, we’d have had a neat I’m Afraid of Americans finale and a taut 44-minute record. With it, we get a paranoid streak of dark danceable menace that takes the self-sampling ethos of the album to an OTT climax: EVERYTHING is in here … robotic bass, disco hi hats, clipped guitar funk, heavy metallic chug, retro futuristic keyboards and, through it all, the endless repeat of a paraphrased Bertrand Russell:

I DON’T WANT KNOWLEDGE. I WANT CERTAINTY.

Prescient stuff. The soundtrack to a chase.

Is Earthling the album Bowie shouldn’t have made? Listening to the classic forms he returned to, you could say that it was a step too far – but I don’t believe that. Earthling isn’t the seamless immersion in a genre that Young Americans and Low are, nor is it the creative totality that Station to Station, Heroes and Outside are. It can be a bit leaden at times, BUT…

…man, Earthling’s exciting. And for a production-heavy electronica-heavy record, it’s raw and alive with enough balls to rough things up. Earthling’s got an energy that has not waned – it STILL sounds tooled up on Red Bull and cigarettes. With no complex layers, no hidden meaning (though I suppose you never know) and no ballads, it’s like the brash younger sibling of Outside that you can rock out to. And again, true to Bowie form, it’s an album that sounds like no other in his back catalogue …another satisfying one-off from the Master.

Need convincing? Check a couple of live renditions right here.

RIP RIP RIP RIP DAVID BOWIE

TYPE O NEGATIVE: October Rust

MELODIC MISERY FROM THE BAND THAT LIVES WHEN THE YEAR STARTS TO DIE

The most luscious, consistent and popular long player in Type O’s blackened back catterlog?

Probably.

The most October-ly?

Without question. Pity we just missed the month, but no matter: October Rust is a mature stab at bucolic autumnal gloom that needs airing right now, if you haven’t done that already.

TON’s 1996 Roadrunner release, their fourth album, came off the back of a Bloody Kisses breakthrough which saw the Brooklyn greenmans reach new highs in pop culture, thanks to the MTV heavy rotator vid for Black No.1 (Little Miss Scare-All). ‘twas an impressive break, exposing the bigfella Steele and his crew to a new bunch of corruptibles.

That was in 1993. For October Rust, however, they stripped the most cartoonish excesses from their vamplified goth aesthetic – the self reference, the post-Carnivore thrashouts, the antagonistic call-outs – and opted instead for a long-player’s worth of the morose splendour they’d nailed on tracks like Bloody Kisses (A Death in the Family). Octo-rust is Type-O’s pop album, not because the tunes are melodic (though they are) or short (nope) or danceably cheerful (AS FUCKING IF) but because, as a double-album spread, they’re as accessible a bunch of Type O tunes as you’re ever gonna hear. Type O Negative always had an ear for melody – they’re not called the Drab Four for nowt – yet still forged a sound unlike anyone else, and certainly not a derivative Sabbath-Beatles blend that the Drab moniker might suggest. Type O are just too damned Type O, even on an album like this… with a Steele-tipped pen at the helm, every album drips decadence, desolation and depression, often comically morbid.

Type O Negative: October Rust

Type O Negative: seasonal corrosion

Opening with exactly the kind of title you want from the dusk brothers (we’re skipping the first two transmissions), Love You to Death tinkles a genteel intro that disorients after the metallic sheen of Bloody Kisses – until, that is, the O-factor, all dry-bone fuzz and airless axe, rushes the joint and swells it to a fuller (dare we say affirming?) force that might, just might, be described as breezy. Layered and harmonied, it sets the direction for the whole record: expansive, mature even, but not at the expense of the Type O Negative lyrical experience. Love You to Death and Be My Druidess lay on the quintiss-exual lust ‘n black-lipstick tropes thick as ever, which may be why they’re on the fire side of the record (side 1 = fire, side 2 = water, side 3 = air, side 4 = earth).

Flipping over to the water side, we do get water, and it’s not clear: Red Water (Christmas Mourning). Doom slow and snowdrift heavy, it’s an O-Rust standout that lurks near the very peak of TON’s all-time least worst, and it would be almost funny if it weren’t so damned true:

My table’s been set for but seven
Just last year I dined with eleven
God damn ye
Merry gentlemen

Written after the death of Steele’s father, it’s a typically wry reality check.

But, as is off’n the case when trudging the Type-O Way, we lurch from the morbid to the libidinous and so it is here as we plunge into the three-way fleshpit that is My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, all teasing goth organ (what???) and hammy vamp baritone that surely out-Sisters the Mercys for anthemic catchiness. Sleaze-o fun to the power three, My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend is Black No.1’s sticky knotty heir and it’s fucking brilliant.

Sticking with the non-sombre for a sec, what about the non-Type O? Having built a bit of a rep for doing cover perversions of classic tracks – Hey Joe recast as Hey Pete, Paranoid slowed to a death crawl and, weirdest of the lot, the Isley Brothers’ Summer Breeze reaching new lows in vocal delivery – it’s no surprise that a cover crops up in October, and it’s Neil rustman Young’s Cinammon Girl. Not the dirgesome count dragula you might have expected.

Getting back on the October trail, Burnt Flowers Fallen and Wolf Moon stretch the album’s airier vibe, with Wolf Moon perhaps the track that sounds most like it coulda been shovelled off Bloody Kisses – bit of a Christian Woman thing (sans blasphemous bed-sin), mebbe? 

The last track on this 72-minute double is another top downer from the Negatives. Uber slow yet fragile too, Haunted could be dour-doleful-depressing over its 10-minute drift but somehow, it gets a lift – like Red Water before it – by sparse keys, though that lift might depend on your mood, bright or bleak. Whichever way you hear it, ’tis a fitting Big End whose heavy elegance restores balance after lighter weights like Green Man, and sinking into the Rust again after all these years it’s Haunted that stands strong.

So there we are: seasonal in scope and acoustic in attitude, October Rust’s twilight vibrations make it a must-play metallic/goth opus for this time of year, every year. In the Type O canon, it’s a one-off – next time out, they’d revert to grimmer tales and cap-H Heaviness for what is, in my view, the defining World Coming Down – that stands alone as their rustic outdoor soundtrack… dig it out, drag through dead leaves and remember:

‘Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism. We are the vandals.’
October Rust sleeve notes

October Rust on y’tube.

 

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