JIZZY PEARL / LOVE/HATE: LIVE

JIZZY PEARL / LOVE/HATE @THE BULLINGDON, OXFORD, 01/04/2017

“It’s the last night of the tour, we’re celebrating 25 years of Wasted in America and yes, I have just stepped out of a fucking time machine…

Jizzy Pearl, a trim and very-much-alive star from LA’s post-glam pre-grunge early 90s, owns a voice that, along with bassist Skid’s artwork and drugs-booze-blackout lyrics, marked Love/Hate out as one of the bands of the time, and those first two albums are scuffed gems to this day. Much like our very own Wildhearts, Love/Hate were too colourful, shambolic and decadent to compete with the rising Seattle star, and that meant they were doomed to be botched by bad timing (and in-band fuck ups, of course). 1992 was Nevermindasupernova. Love/Hate looked like they were having fun. And they were from LA. It could never really last, and it didn’t, but the records really do.

Love/Hate sleeve

LA ’92: Wasted

 

Now it’s April Fools’ Day 2017, the Budweiser cross of cans has graced the stage and we’re straight in to Wasted in America (the album) with Wasted in America (the track). Spit and Miss America follow, and it’s shaping up to be a straight runthrough of the record – ’tis an anniversary after all. Cream to Yucca Man to Happy Hour next?

Not quite. Somewhere during side 1, we get spun off the wasted trail with a couple of blackouts – Tumbleweed and Fuel to Run – before skidding back to the main deal for Cream and Yucca Man. Good move, mixing it like that. Makes the in-its-entirety album thing feel more alive, gig-like and less predictable, and it means that we get aces like Mary Jane, Why Do You Think They Call It Dope? and Let’s Rumble’s sleaze-o Spinning Wheel cut in to the Wasted plot. Serve up a little Blackout in the Red Room after WiA’s closing Evil Twin and we’ve been privy to the full album topped up by Love/Hate’s best others. Jizzy’s voice is, somehow, still a forceful top-ender at 59 years (59!!!) and he seems genuinely moved by tonight’s word-perfect crowd. Well, we love the record, simple as that.

For the encore, JP gives us a choice: either the first side of Rush’s 2112 OR Straightjacket…

(clue: Canada lose)

You never really know with these anniversary/whole album gigs whether they’re gonna work or not, but this one came from the right place a real feelgood celebration of a rekkid of youth, the stuff that’s burned waaaaay down inside…you can’t undo that. It’s in there for life. And when a band decides to uncork that genie, they gotta do it with a record that’s got the tunes, and Wasted in America has no wobbles in that department. If the title track is all you can salvage from a hazy quarter-century recall, dig out the deeper cuts and you’ll see that the album rocks harder than its lead track. Need pointers? Yucca Man, the disorienting Happy Hour and Jizzy-showcase Tranquilizer are a three-way sure shot.

Blackout, Wasted and Rumble albums on replay since the gig. Love/Hate earworms non-stop buzzing

buzzin’ like a bumble bee, TRANQUI-LI-ZER

DRUDE FONK AND DC TRIBUTES

MARCH REWIND: NEW COPE, NEW CRYSTAL

A couple of new releases from the past month or so to get us going in this March Rewind.

Julian Cope: Rite At Ya

Julian Cope: Rite At Ya

Cope: Rite on

Coming off the back of Drunken Songs, the Archdrude and his heritage Heads slipped another mind-number of a Rite-off our way this month… Rite At Ya. The last one, in 2006, was Rite Bastard. If you don’t know the Rite score, it’s an ongoing series of semi-fonk longflows in a metronomic, ultra pared vein where Not Much Happens except groove – minimal – and time – maximal. These self-styled meditational headspaces have no peaks, dips, breakdowns or pick-ups, just endless miles of sly stone-wheel trundle and tangerine dreams. Rite at Ya’s title track will nibble 20 minutes of your life without you even noticing, while the closing Ringed Hills of Ver tells you what Underworld might sound like if they got stuck on a one-note drone and added nothing. Rite on the level, the clue’s in the subtitle: Monotonous Meditations from the Back of Beyond (1993–2016). Check it here if you so fancy the most calming of trips.

Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy

Crystal Fairy

Pure cut

Does this band pack some crackle or what? With Teri Gender Bender on voice – shades of Karen O – atop King Buzzo’s heavy weaponry and, of course, the Dale Melvin Omar Volta Rhythm Section, Crystal Fairy are surely as pure a super-quart as we’re gonna get all year. Undeniably Melvins in its riffsome tonnage, as Drugs on the Bus and Secret Agent Rat amply show, yet concise and sharp and free of obtuse indulgence, Crystal Fairy flies with a punkish energy that wastes absolutely none of its 40 minutes 19 seconds. Another great Melvins rebirth… one for senile animal lovers.

RSD10

It’s the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day this month. Here’s the list. Nothing. Crucial. Except Dope, maybe. Think I’ll give up on hoping for something to come out of these lists every year, coz every year it feels like a list of specials that are special because they were made special for an event that was labelled special. How circular. Let’s just get down to the record shop, that beacon of noise and beauty and community, and CELEBRATE IT the shop both with and without RSD vy-nil. 

DC tribute

Which musical DC are we paying tribute to, Washington? Nah. Other end of the alphabet. Last week’s gig was an AC/DC tribute – the AC/DC Experience at the Oxford O2.

‘tribute band’. Right…

The tribute circuit always seemed to me to be a credibility-sapping Other World that ran parallel to the real one, but that thought was banished and swapped for a full-blown leap (to be explained) through a lightning-bolt portal to an AC/DC experience, tribute style. And you know what? These guys are a blast. The Scott-Johnson frontman hits the highs with ease while an Angus Young takes himself off the stage at every chance – in the crowd, up on the side tables, up on the bar, cap and blazer thrown off, the whole lot. Never stops moving, never stops playing either.

With the exception of Thunderstruck (which is awesome, natch), none of the set is more recent than Back in Black so it’s wall-to-stage-to-bar-to-wall classic-era anthems: Sin City, Whole Lotta Rosie, Highway to Hell, Back in Black, Hell’s Bells, Dirty Deeds, Touch Too Much, High Voltage…. the stuff that puts smiles on everyone’s faces, and I mean everyone – including my stepson Jan (age 12), who is the reason we are here in the first place. His First Rock Gig, first proper bit of live rock action. Seemed to me to be the right place to start the apprenticeship and he loved every minute. Even got devil horns in his face from the Angus – and threw them right back. Not gonna get that at Wembley, are you?

So if you’ve got young sons, daughters, nieces and nephews who wanna rock, or maybe even a bunch of drunk mates who wanna rock, the AC/DC Experience make it happen. THANKS LADS, great night.

’til next time!

 

OHHMS: live

OHHMS / MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD / DRORE @ THE CELLAR, OXFORD, 13/02/2017

What a bonus. Turn up at the Cellar for the OHHMS/Mammoth double-header and find that Drore are on the bill as well, making it a triple ugly. NICE. Except that Drore are not nice, not at all. Staggering out from Undersmile’s RIP with scabby song titles like Skinjob and Fukbags, Drore are ruff, scuzzy, sludgy grrrowly FILFF, and unlike Taz and Olly’s so-slo Undersmile, this lot play the mid and fast field with stacks of gear shifts and double-kick beatdowns. Always noisy and never melodic, there’s a thick grunge whiff but not in the Seattle sense … nah, this is grunge the Godflesh way, pissed out of toxic wastepipes and topped off by pained hell-o shriekage from Taz and Crippled Black bassist Tom Greenway. No doubt about it, Drore create a world all their obnoxious own and it’s a proper ugly thrill. No wonder they bagged a few Terrorizer column inches last year.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard made it into some end-of-year album lists in 2016 so this gig was always gonna be a chance to catch what they’re all about, but their static doom reps somehow underwhelm a bit tonight, ‘specially after Drore’s violent discharge.

No such underwhelm for Canterbury’s OHHMS though, a band who seem stupendously fully formed given that they’ve only put out two EPs, but if you came here expecting oceanic transcendence a la Bloom (massive) and Cold (even massiver) then you/we are out of luck because that version of OHHMS is not in the building. A mere half hour of stage time means it’s New Stuff Only tonight, and they hit it hard. With tracks like The World upping the pace and packing in some aggressive Pelican-ese riffs, we might have a bolshier, denser OHHMS heading our way … let’s see what The Fool brings in March, eh? The only thing lacking tonight is TIME: not enough. And for a band like OHHMS, that just ain’t right.

*update: just read that one of the gig highlights – drummer Stephen Frame – is Drore no more. Ach! News is over on the Drore bacefook page

 

MINOR VICTORIES: live

OXFORD O2, 13/12/2016

Stuart Braithwaite. STUART BLOODY BRAITHWAITE.

If Mogwai are anywhere near being one of your all-time top bands, you’re not gonna miss a chance to see the owner of THAT guitar sound – one of the biggest and unassumingly most influential in the whole rock landscape – doing his stuff a mere few feet away, are you?

No. And this explains why Minor Victories at Oxford’s O2 – on the small stage upstairs – became a last-minute must-see (thanks Nightshift for the tip) in the last month of the year. With band members from Slowdive, Editors and the Twilight Sad in the band and on stage tonight, there’s plenty of pedigree kicking about.

Expectations? Pop-ish electro-tinged rock – iced cool atmos, verse-chorus Rock Action accessibility, nothing fierce, a background role for the ‘gwai guy … an essence rather than a force. The reality? All of the above but louder and less restrained in all the right places. Give Up the Ghost opens up with arena-baiting stomp and a toughened half riff that gives a teasing glimpse of Braithwaite in action, and what follows is a set of surging, widescreen orchestrations with moto-Stereolab pulsations and the UNKLE Psyence heavyweight drum break (Breaking My Light), all topped by Rachel Goswell’s overfloater vocals. ’tis rich and spacious and fulsome – a proper group effort, definitely not the look of a band who made an album without being in the same room.

And what of the guitarist’s proposed delegation to Background Lurker? Not even close. Sure, this band ain’t Mogwai monolithic but where there’s space, where there’s soar and uplift and tumult, there’s S.B.Uncut, swaying and tussling and just about taming that wild guitar energy EXACTLY as you’d hoped, but didn’t really have the nerve to expect. If Boris (Attention Please version) indulged in a little Sigur Ros or Pumpkins’ Adore, you might get something a bit like Minor Victories live – oversized alt-pop roughed up at the edges by volume – and for anyone with Mogwai love in their bones, this gig makes for a pretty special moment-o.

GREENLEAF: live

GREENLEAF / DESERT STORM: OXFORD CELLAR, 29/11/2016

We got one more for ya,” says vocalist Arvid Jonsson, and when that one-more becomes the mid-paced galactic burner With Eyes Wide Open, the best has been saved til last. The band are Greenleaf and-

No, me neither. Zero intel on these guys, ‘cept that they’re Swedish, they’ve toured with Clutch and most of the band are in fact Dozer, so with those kinda post-Man’s Ruin credentials, who wouldn’t hunker down in the Cellar on a f-f-f-freezin November night for the promise of toasty riffage? Especially when you’ve got girder-like support from Oxford Irn Bru-isers, Desert Storm.

Last time I saw Desert Storm was 2014 in this venue with Winnebago Deal, and they rocked it good-time. Tonight? They rock it good-time. With this lot, you just know you’re gonna get a great show, and the fact that two of Indica Blues have pitched up for a live earful shows that Desert Storm have got pulling power – there’s just summat about their riffs and sneaky little 5/4s that pulls you in and keeps you there. The C-word gets bandied about as a reference (already mentioned, go check) and that’s fair enough, but with Matt Ryan’s rough-neck roarin’ and a hefty bit of growl in the guitars, DS have definitely got a metallic High on Fire/Down thing going. Being woefully behind with their albums – to be sorted, promise – the track names passed me by (except for a colossal Convulsion, wherever that’s from), but it’s a sign of the band’s class that not knowing never matters: Desert Storm WILL get you going, and they will deliver the Rock. Guaran-fucking-teed.

After that, Greenleaf have a little bit of work to do. Frontman Jonsson is a singer – a good one – rather than a shouter, but his voice seems a tad thin after what’s just been and so we’ve got a slight pressure drop after the Storm. No worries, though. Favouring up-tempos and 60s vibes (we get the Doors twice – an impromptu Break on Through when Tommi Holappa goes string-busting, and Five to One later on), Greenleaf heat the joint with Cream-y blues and wah action til that spacious mini epic, With Eyes Wide Open, nails the set’s end with a spacey high, Swedish stoner style. Solid stuff, one to keep tabs on. 

 

WASPs and tigers

NOVEMBER REWIND: TWO-SPEED PSYCHE, MISSED GIGS AND A MIGHTY RETURN

John Peel: a man known for speed. How many times did we hear him get it wrong on a record, sometimes even sticking with wRongPM coz it sounded better? (if it sounds right, it can’t be wrong .. right?). Easily done. Not being schooled in the drumnbass arts meself, but tempted by a gnarly guitary Temper Temper collab with Gallagher Noel and the whole Goldie/Bowie thing, I jumped in and bought Goldie‘s 4-record Saturnz Return when it came out. Side 1 sounded OK but a bit off, but side 2’s Chico – Death of a Rock Star was way better, all mid-tempo breakbeating attitude and heavy on-the-level groove. Nice. Before even playing the rest of the album, I stuck that track on a tape I was finishing for a mate at work.

But Saturnz Return is a 45RPM record set, innit?

Which I learned soon after, but not soon enough to recall the tape (sorry Steve) and its revolutionary cock up. Still, it never did Peel any harm and anyway, Chico does sound pretty good on 33 (honest) so give it a go sometime, but flick the speed switch before the Bowie-sung Truth groans into half life – a downer on a good day, it’s last-breath deathly on the slowdown. 

NEW-ISH NOISES

All of this is a long way of introducing a record that you CANNOT play at the wrong speed because it’s been created to be played at both: Lost Chants by Kandodo McBain. The McBain is John, ex Monster Magnet, Kandodo is three bods from The Heads, and with this double-speed set-up we get two albums from the same set of instrumentals. The 45 version has track titles like Blowed Out, Holy Syke and Chant of the Ever Circling (Last Vulture), and their 33 equivalents are Really Blown Out, Holiest Syke and Chant of the Ever So Slowly Circling (Last Vulture). Even with the revs set to 45, Lost Chants ain’t the freak-frazzle burnout you might have expected from Heads mainstays – nah, this is a mellower kinda flow with overlapping waves of guitars… echoes of Hendrix Ladyland 1983/Moon Turn the Tide, Earth Pentastar, Julian Cope s.t.a.r.c.a.r., Carlton Melton, maybe even a less-fucked Tab by McBain’s magnetic ex. Guitar loaded without being riff heavy.

Three Trapped Tigers landed in Oxford in Nov and bugger me if there was no way of making it  – mildly gutting, but the Silent Earthling CD from Truck Store was some consolation and these instrumentals are definitely NOT Kandodo McBain high-plane drifters. Mathprog for the dance tent is what it is, all firecracker percussion and Battles/65daysofstatic/Aphex disorder with a Big Synth overload, and as right-now a production as you can imagine.

NO-DIOSCOPE

What were you doing on November 4th? Stacking up credibility points at Audioscope’s annual mindbender the day after Three Trapped Tigers?

Not me. Couldn’t make it this year, so while James Sedwards was no doubt killing it at Audioscope with Nought, I was doing the next best thing:

listening to WASP.

Ahem. But fuckityes, why not??? Blame Scream Until You Like It from the Hairy Halloween playlister – enjoyed revisiting that vid way too much, then wondered what happened to one of THE names of 80s metal: WASP, those crasser-dirtier-wronger descendants of Alice Cooper, the high-profile enemy of the State c/o PMRC. The Headless Children was my last brush with the Law-less way back in ’89, and that album – especially side 1 – is one whose lost-to-the-era greatness I’ll propagate to anyone anywhere. The Heretic (the Lost Child) and Thunderhead are metal classics in every sense and proof that WASP were capable of more than just fire-ejaculating sawblade codpieces…

…weren’t they? And so, after late night sampling, a WASP purchase was made just 27 years after the last one – KFD, aka Kill Fuck Die. ’tis a killer (WASP’s heaviest?) and blasts hard, taking you to a time when peeled-off solos by caricature heroes (Chris Holmes on this one) were the norm. Check the drum attack and the so-very WASP hook on Killahead … man, that track’s got some fury.

HARDWIRING

Back to 2016, but with another bunch of veterans with 80s roots: Metallica. In what seems to be even more controversial a move than getting haircuts or working with Lou Reed, they’ve gone and made a record that their fans* actually like!!!! Or at least, don’t hate. Yet. Maybe. Happy(ish) Metallica fans, the thing that should not be…who woulda thought? Still getting into Hardwired meself (also reopening tonnes of other ‘tallica sounds, as you do), but they’re the band of the moment and will be for a while yet. I really don’t get the level of criticism thrown their way, but more on the meninblack another day.

’til next time! 

(Monster Magnet Tab review posted on Head Heritage 2004)

*loose definition

INDICA BLUES: Ruins on the Shore

CRUNCH N’ DRIFT: METALLIC STONER, IN ITS OWN TIME

Back when Pantera rode their Vulgar post-Cowboys breakthrough, a sort-of sub genre called groove metal emerged for a bit and Anselmo’s crew were very much its big-name associate, yet for all the rigid rubberised riffage of tracks like Mouth for War or Walk, not much about Pantera’s aggro attack spelt GROOVE, and definitely not by the time The Great Southern Trendkill unleashed its peak hostility sandblasting in our faces.

What’s this got to do with upcoming Oxford quartet Indica Blues?

Indica Blues - Ruins CD

Skull duggery with Indica Blues

Groove, metal – but not THAT kind of groove, not Pantera’s thrashing battery. Formed from the essence of Sabbath’s Snowblind riff 17 seconds in, Indica Blues trundle out a fat line in downtuned metallicised stoner in a sludgy meter, and that’s pretty much it. No deviation, no stylistic leaps and barely a tempo shift in half an hour, their debut Ruins on the Shore EP revels in nothing more than the awesome power of unhurried riffs unfolding into more unhurried riffs.

Yep. It’s that simple.

Arms to the Sky’s opening semi-solo and ground-level chug shows off the metallic end of Indica Blues – thick yet clean with fuzzy crunch, velvet sharp, measured, anon vocals knocked way back so it all feels instrumental. Feed the Pyre follows that impassive mass with a bit more swing and a decisive end, and if Wasted Landscapes is a mite doom-contrived with its devil’s vibrato intro then the emergent spacey jams more than redeem, coming off like one of those post-Kyuss bands (Dozer, Beaver, hunnerds more) who copped an astral twinkle whenever they dropped the tempo and cut the bounce. This is the stoner end of Indica Blues, and it’s this stuff that makes the EP work – this shit could really fly if they let it.

Last track Ruins on the Shore pulls it all together into a near 11-minute meander that dissolves into a floating loose-groove drift (nice bass) for the last third or so. Dead Meadow on a Down trip? EP highlight right there, as is track #1. Indica Blues might not do avant, opting instead for mid-length runs down a familiar route BUT…it’s a route marked Slow Heavy Load, so what’s not to explore? Get your solid rock fix at Indica Blues bandcamp.

 

SEE ALSO Earthmass and Morass of Molasses for similarly Wheatsheaf-friendly heavy rock action, and Caravan of Whores for a direct link to Indica Blues – guitarist John Slaymaker’s previous band.