Saturday, June 27, 2015

12 GAUGE PINUP: J.G. REDFERN REVIEWS


12 Gauage Pinup the Grind EP
a humble review
by
J. G. Redfern


12 Gauge Pinup explodes with the first bars of the first cut off their new EP, GRIND, and this energy keeps eroding the landscape in a new-punk eloquence held steady up to the last note three cuts in. 12 Gauge Pinup evokes the best of the early Stooges, with Kevin McGovern, driving force of The Prostitutes, recreating American angst on the vocal tracks and manning the guitar, while Greg Carson runs the rails on bass and Joe Mascolino breaks the soul skins on drums, creating a real tight rhythm section, and then, holy fuck, here comes Dale Behringer on Saxophone to rip it all asunder and take it to a higher, orchestral plane! Brothers, give me more!

The first track on the EP is “Movin’ Away” which opens with a riot not unlike the eruption of The First Movement of Beethoven’s Eroica set to American Punk stranded somewhere in the desert of Las Vegas, just past the border of the newest millennium, holding on to coherence by one last cigarette burning down to the knuckles, trying to keep one mile ahead of the past. A tight cacophonation on the verge of falling apart, tied together by saxophone continues on, powering forward, driven by McGovern’s vocal track and the rhythm section, all of it sparked to the point of controlled explosion by the inflammatory and irreverent saxophone of Behringer. McGovern writes and whines and screams and sings, “A missed orgasm is a total defeat. That’s one for you and three for me. I don’t hear a single thing when you talk talk talk, talk to me, I’m movin’, I’m movin’ away. I don’t want see your pretty face, just stay, just stay, just stay, just stay, I’m movin’, I’m movin’ away” —what else is there left to say? Beautiful, universal song of angry departure set apart by saxophone and driving, relentless drumming from Mascolino.

The next irresistible morsel, “Vegas Grind,” is a tune evoking visions of the struggle of survival in the post-apocalyptical, sub-subsistence-wage working world. Vocals from McGovern are meatier and a little more soulful than his work with The Prostitutes, however, he hasn’t lost any energy, and he hasn’t slowed down. The space opens up between the rhythm section and the saxophone on this track, creating an ethereal funk-stained post-punk landscape that no one else has opened up before. Again harkening back to the high points of The Stooges, and the saxophone from the first Furs album, and with the tight, clean percussion reminiscent of “Billy is a Runaway,” and “Shake Appeal,” this song performs like a ballad, celebrating all that ain’t worth celebrating in our current historical milieu. McGovern sets the tone with the end of the chorus: “The Vegas grind is knockin’ me down.”

Others might disagree, but for my money “Jenny Says” is the best cut of the three, although the other two are close behind. “Jenny Says” really opens it up. This song makes the listener want to take an old rusted-out Pontiac out on an interstate and let that fucker unwind from here unto forever. Bitchin, brilliant song, that stands up to everything a mean song was meant to be. The driving bass line from Carson and Behringer’s dueling saxophone, call us out on the highway. And again, Moscolino is riotous and tight, conjuring up earlier aforementioned Iggy compositions. “Jenny says I’m no good. Miss misunderstood, she left the neighborhood. I never said I would.” Man, we’ve all been there. McGovern nails it, writing another universal song singing to anyone who has ears to listen. Bravo! 12 Gauge Pinup! Bravo!

The Grind EP from 12 Gauge Pinup, finds a common theme in songs of break up and starting over, declaring a new future, not limping away, commanding the continent recline, not supplicating the stars for concession. It is a solid, cohesive, set of songs. It’s no surprise the subtext seems to evoke the free feral feeling of a beat-up muscle car opening up on the interstate, slipping into 117 miles per hour, with boxes piling up the backseat as a smile takes the face of acceleration holding on to the past just long enough for one last cigarette to burn all the way down to the blue and bruised, swollen knuckles wrapped around the steering wheel, holding on to coherence somewhere between the Pacific and the Mojave. Nice fuckin’ work boys! Nice fuckin’ work!

Brilliant new songs from 12 Gauge Pinup.

Only criticism: Only three? Come one boys, give us some more. Give us some more, like tonight, right now, or maybe, at the latest tomorrow afternoon. We’re music junkies and we need a fix.

[And, if any of you thought the author wrote this review without breaking a sweat, you are dead wrong, and you don’t know how to listen to music. JGR].

JAMES REDFERN


Friday, June 19, 2015

BLiNDNESS - WRAPPED iN PLASTIC

Wrapped in Plastic wraps its smooth electro legs around you with an impulsive sexual ferocity.  Like a mind blowing encounter with a mysterious woman you met a day ago that has to abruptly leave to catch her flight home. She obviously didn't tell you her secret and you're too caught up in the stranglehold-high to even care. Dark erotic melodies and grinding disco-dark waves drag you into a turbulent sea of lust, euphoria, and sultry contemplation on the latest full-length from the band known as BLiNDNESS. 

Hesitant sordid fragments of feedback and sonic six string scratches breathe heavy within these mood altering alterations of modern song. Kicking and playfully screaming from start to finish, the seductive and wary vocals of Beth Rettig pull you into the sweet ruptured noise. She hones a twisted tone that combines Sleeper and The Stranglers into a steamy design of volatile unhinged harmony. 

The band doesn't relent in its heavy post-punk bashing, keeping the core beat focused on heady rock grooves that pound with a static drenched street intelligence. This collection of instant erotic vertigo will make itself a mainstay on your playlist if you let yourself shoot up the uncut forbidden fruit of its dark wave death swing. 

With a delicate influence of Siouxsie Sioux and My Bloody Valentine, Beth Rettig, Emma Quick, and Debbie Smith( Echobelly, Curve ) have created a feverish nine-song sleepwalk into the darkest pleasures of an endless summer night.  

REQUIRED LISTENING
"No One Counts"
"Humming Song"
"Serves Me Right"
"Broken"
(available on Saint Marie Records July 24, 2015)


BLiNDNESS FACEBOOK
SAINT MARIE RECORDS
-Kevin McGovern (FEAR/LOATHING)

Friday, June 12, 2015

VEXX: GIVE AND TAKE 7"

Nothing is more claustrophobic than having just enough or not enough money to take up residence in someone else’s room, couch, or even their walk-in closet. Anywhere you can throw yourself or an inflatable mattress down. Hoping that the current wherever-you-are has some kind of secret exit door leading to something with at least a month guarantee, but that mirage seems to disappear as quickly as it dimly shows itself. Your head ruminating into the night while dreading the grind of the next day’s anxious disappointments. Creativity festers and blooms in these spaces of the unknown future, as it should. Stripped raw of stability with old wounds begging for life, the true emotions of reality appear. The façade of a responsible existence and its fictitious happiness becomes irritating and irrelevant. Vexx vocalist, Maryjane Dunphe angrily croons, “Sleeping in the attic again but I gotta find a new place to live” with an ultra-nervous conviction, that freezes you in that uncertain moment on the blistering track “Sleeping in the Attic” from their new 7” EP Give and Take released by Brooklyn’s Katorga Works.

Disenfranchised, loud, and relevant, this four song mid-decade masterpiece caresses your inner sociopathic child while gently kicking in all of your teeth. An unnerving mixture of Legal Weapon’s Your Weapon and Babes in Toyland’s Fontanelle creates the baseline for the unique punk sounds of this Olympia, Washington anti-rock band. The impeccable guitar playing of Mike Liebman carries the symphonic gutter bang that creates a perfect flow throughout this quick and essential listening experience. Bringing to mind the guitar and rhythmic interplay of Naked Raygun’s cult classic Throb Throb. Crude but sophisticated blue notes slide the sections of each song into an uneasy roar that hastily shows off the band’s uncanny songwriting ability.

The lead track “Black/White” comes booming in with a disheveled anthemic quality. Rock n roll firmly intact with late 70s punk sensibility, angst ridden melody is complemented with subtle pop nuances buried beneath the aggressive art scratched roar. “Sleeping in the Attic” follows soon after with beyond-cool delivery and diabolical catchiness. “Walking in the Rain” captures a mood of desperation and gloom. Starting with a goth-tinged intro, it erupts into an energetic build-up of searing guitar lines and a vocal that runs like mania-induced poetry creating imperfect perfection. The vocal harmonies blindside you with their clever placement. Layers of guitar and sleek soul-hardcore vocalizing elevate this composition to a genre of its own. Ending this addictive listen is the mind blowing “Flattened Scenes”. The rolling and bouncy grooves of this punker than punk track, take a slight rockabilly feel and overtly infuses it with a lethal amount of moody sewer glamour. Cranked to eleven and catchier than Ebola, “Flattened Scenes” will flatten your senses. In fact, Give and Take will give you more than you think you need and you’ll still be spinning in its cyclone of modern punk mastery.


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-Kevin McGovern
Fear and Loathing in Long Beach

Monday, June 8, 2015

RETRO ME, RETRO YOU: DEFINING THE 90s

You just moved here? You don’t know anyone either, do you? The beat goes on and the sparks of my past miscalculations and misdirection continue to taint my brainwaves. I also have new music coming up for review that will be posted throughout this summer of fear and indifference. After making the move to Las Vegas, I realized a few things, women here are just as stunning and California taxes are ungodly. I have made a deliberate and intentional effort to be the most contradictory and indecisive human on the planet. With my ambivalence and need for instant gratification intact, the glitz and seedy glamour of Vegas has become ordinary and somewhat soothing.

Sometimes people think I repeat the past and its pulverizing mistakes, but that need for fast burning pleasure always supersedes the slow burn of stumbling and wincing through a stagnant culture of “as is”. I enjoy long walks on the beach and romantic sunsets but preferably with benzos and cigarettes so I don’t get bored. I remember when I was eighteen thinking that people were strange and society sucked, I realize two decades later it still holds true. Somewhat a product of the 80s and total product of “Totally 90s”, I present to you my top five of garage/punk rock tunes from the beautifully decadent and very confusing decade of the 1990s. Condemning yourself to too much self-awareness and endless contempt isn’t always such a bad thing.

5. The Problematics – Punk Girl
This track from their debut LP “The Kids All Suck” on Rip Off Records delivers a mesmerizing melody with bone saw guitar chords cranked into the red. Distorted beyond belief and flawless in its execution, this track embodied a roaring spirit, a troublesome one at that. I remember receiving a dubbed cassette copy of this and wailing on bong hits and Ten High whiskey while popping Vivarin to make sure I stayed awake longer than my friends at an apartment party on a Saturday night long ago. Staying awake has its privileges when you have a female partner in crime that digs this song too. This played through the night and I didn’t go to sleep until 11 a.m. the following morning.


4. Furious George – I Gotta Gun
From their debut 7” single on Maximum Rock n Roll Records, I picked this one up at the record store because I liked the zine and figured if they put a record out, it would probably kick serious ass since they had such a reputation for shredding up and coming “punk” bands in their reviews. The shit talking always made for a good read and kept drama high in every punk scene of the country. MRR columnist George Tabb was the leader of this Dee Dee Ramone inspired outfit. After hearing this, I wrote a song with my band called “I Don’t Get Girls” which had very few lyrics thanks to this inspirational blast of crash and burn madness. I thought a double meaning would give me Shakespeare status, it didn’t… Short and minimalistic, “I Gotta Gun” would influence quite a few bands to drop the filler and just deliver the goods in a minute and a half.


3. The Humpers – Plastique Valentine
This legendary 90s outfit still plays to this day and I’ve always considered this to be the band at their prime. Off their second album for Epitaph Records and probably the best thing Epitaph released during that time. This thing shakes and grooves like the bastard child of Little Richard and the Angry Samoans. True grit on display here to deafen your ears like you never had them. I remember the band scene changing at that time. Everyone was changing their choice of substances from beer and weed to more elegant stimulants, clean and white, Rick James style. An implosion was sure to happen but no one cared. The groove was addictive, the girls were prettier, the guys uglier, and an unforgettable hazy shade of summer consumed the garages. Small dreams came true and bigger nightmares came to life.


2. Nashville Pussy – All Fucked Up
I think the album cover art and song title say it all on this one. Their live performance in the beginning was a force to be reckoned with. In the middle of the punk/garage chaos, these guys and gals kept the tangled party of deceit going. Sounding like a southern fried version of the Saints on trucker speed, they helped propel the 90s “girls kissing girls, just because” movement. This was their best track in my opinion. Teeth grinding dirt and a cesspool of heavy rock, it marked the beginning of garage rock turning into hard rock, with no apologies.


1. Fur – X-Offender
This NYC trio led by Holly Ramos provided some of the sexiest and punkiest sounds of that time. Criminally underrated in my book, her vocals purr and the guitars scream. Fast and loose in its delivery, the loose swing blends perfectly with the hyper distorto guitar. A bittersweet wall of sound that crashes through with intoxicated sincerity. Their self-titled debut album is contagious and I recommend finding it if you can. Fur is cool, smoking cigarettes is cool, and leopard print never goes out of style. I used to wake up wrecked, drink two pots of coffee while listening to this album, and then go off to my boring office job. If I did that nowadays, I would probably have five anxiety attacks in a row, but maybe more out of sadness then nervousness. Holly’s melodies always had a way with me.


In closing, this is an abbreviated list of songs that defined an era for me and there are way more bands I would like to include in future updates when the mood hits me. Inspiration comes and goes but meaningful music that hits you in the gut has a way of attaching itself to you for a lifetime. Know what I mean...

-Kevin McGovern
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LONG BEACH

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BLIND IDIOT GOD – BEFORE EVER AFTER

Blind Idiot God’s forthcoming release Before Ever After delivers a head spinning contact high. This extended-release drug never relents during its 74-minute duration. When I think of heavy sludge rock, the first thing that comes to mind is the sight of insidious college girls and massive bong hits. Bands like Steel Pole Bathtub, Tar, and the Melvins would turn incense filled off-campus crash pads into heavy breathing and petting areas. Neurological erotica in the form of stomach punching bass pulls and unnerving feedback. A strange atmosphere that was this hypnotic cross between Haight-Ashbury and Last House on the Left.

This release brings back those heavy elements from days gone by and shapes them into an even more jagged narrative. Instrumental and bleak in its contour, the heavy amplification slithers its way between symphonic harmony and pulverizing dissonance. Within the suffocating haze, the guitars and bass melt with Sabbath-like precision. The reckless rhythms puncture and wince, allowing just enough breathing room to keep the rock pulsating. The recorded sounds defy gravity and genre with their noisy rewordings of jazz, punk, reggae, and stoner rock.

Originally formed in 1982, the St. Louis, Missouri based band made its debut on SST records in 1987. Legendary producer Bill Laswell lends his vision to their latest maniacal outing. Laswell's unique engineering allows the recording to slam and worm with a warm, nuanced buzz. The pacing is erratic but deploys epic fragments of linear song structure to connect the violent vibrations. The tracks “Earthmover” and “Wheels of Progress” highlight the diabolical capabilities of these reckless noise mongers. “Fub” and “Strung” sneak in some cool Dub and Freeform Space Rock that enable this collection to flow as a movement, instead of “just a bunch of new tunes” the band threw together. From the horrific indie sophistication of “Twenty Four Hour Dawn” to the breezy poison of closing track “Shutdown”, the compositions flow steadily in all of their freaked-out glory. Post-modern weirdness that stays heady and heavy without forgetting about the listener.
-Kevin McGovern
Fear and Loathing in Long Beach

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TERMINAL A – PACIFIC WATER AND POWER EP

Despondent desperation, rage, and vanity control all that is modern Los Angeles. From the beach cities to the poisonous luster of its shaggy downtowns, a death rattle of raw artistry has always made its home here. Continuing this tradition of random kiss or kill is the city’s newest noise on the rise, Terminal A. This 5 track EP selectively bites and scratches like a coked-up debutante forcing her way back into the club after getting kicked out for illicit consumption and excessive posturing. What we have here is crucial music and a deliberate failure to communicate. Isolation is the seducer and decadence is the unruly neuron candy.

A non-comprising cocktail of early synth-punk combined with echoes of Jim Morrison’s final days fuel the mechanical crackle of melody within this collection. Unlike other bands that lose focus in this genre, Terminal A has a precise predilection for vocal harmony and tumultuous prose. The voice of Colin Peterson is a standout in its cool delivery of choice notes combined with impulsive anger. Lee Busch pulverizes the machine-laden atmosphere with over distorted industrial guitar slamming. An undertow of Throbbing Gristle and Kraftwerk residue provides a fertile killing ground for this two-man insanity machine.

“Oedipus Kiss” and “Tonight We’ll Be Gone” highlight the band’s talent in creating nightmares, ones that you don’t want to wake up from. “Satellite” and “Queen Mab” have an infectious rock that requires return visitations. These two tracks really get under your skin and do the required damage, providing memorable hooks and haunting chord progressions not usually heard in this realm. The EP ends with a live track that captures the cantankerous essence of this unique art damaged duo. Before you to decide to kill yourself this year, give this a listen and decide how many people you want to drag down with you. Happy trails…
-Kevin McGovern
FEAR AND LOATHING LB
TERMINAL A

Friday, October 24, 2014

SLACKER 7 INCH FLASHBACK: GAUNT


There was a time when public radio was nonchalant and freeform in its transmissions of new music. I’m not referring to the coffee shop fodder or indie/folk vagaries of current NPR. Kids were coming out of college with communication degrees, filled with THC and PBR memories, ready with an armful of 7”s to unleash upon an unsuspecting public. On a warm fall afternoon in the midst of this toxic uprising, I was driving around in a not so trustworthy Honda Accord that maybe had a lot of hazy fog in it and a confused destination. The cassette tape player sometimes worked and the FM radio picked up random stations every few miles depending on where I was driving.

By chance, it was a small town I was passing through (that had a nuclear power plant) and a strange station number became audible. A bizarre noise blasted out with extreme turbulence and scattered melodies. A sound baked in thrift store distortion and alleyway “behind the bar” fluency. This was my first introduction to Gaunt. Unfortunately, the song was already halfway into its duration. I had never heard a lo-fi production on FM radio at that point in my life, let alone a frantic mess that I needed to hear more of as soon as possible.

I used to get these cool compilation tapes from friends and I soon received one with the “Jim Motherfucker” single included. This particular 7” had come out on Anyway Records from Columbus, Ohio. I was intrigued by Gaunt, what a strange name for a band. The single was originally released in 1992 and I didn’t hear the radio broadcast until about 1994. “Jim Motherfucker” had this crazy speed drone and moody vocal dipped in minor key Buzzcocks polish. The boiling B-side “Spine” puts any Epitaph band to shame, to this day. Primal, offhand, and overdriven with crackling terminal indifference, this is “fuck art” sonic sculpture at its creative premium.

When I hear people talk “old school” nowadays and bands like Operation Ivy and Anti-Flag come up, I get quite irritated. Those bands didn’t rock my world or get me to register to vote. Gaunt embodied the slacker lifestyle and attitude. A stubborn fusion of reckless early Replacements, second-hand store stilo, and Stooges filth, this band would become a permanent fixture in my music collection. I could relate to it and the lifestyle. An academic rationalization of low-cost rent, economical beer, thrift store shopping (not the overpriced retro/vintage rip offs of today), and revolving door relationships.

During that decade, exclusiveness in relationships was blasé and you could have a different job every month if you wanted to. The temp agency boom was a goldmine for basement bands in the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West regions. There was never a shortage of work and pay was actually higher than it is now. Gaunt personified the glory in underachieving and keeping the expectations of others at a minimum. From what I gather, kids stay at home until 30 nowadays and don’t have the pleasure of inheriting chronic low-esteem from the “greatest generation”. The beauty of “booking your own fucking life” (a band guy’s hitchhiking manual that sub culture used for navigation in those times) and couch surfing your way across different cities isn’t much of a reality anymore.

A new world of government babysitting, obnoxious obesity, and doing things for the “greater good” has risen. The thing that made “slacking” and basement-band bombing so different, was that it forced you to create your own identity and amoral values. So many of the great 7” labels of that era only released 5 or 6 singles but man, they sold quick and you would immediately invite all of your friends over to your sub-par apartment to spin them, talk until eternity, and plot to destroy preconceived assumptions about what you should grow up to be. This is the essence of Gaunt and why I chose to write about a single from 1992 in 2014.

If you have an uncontrollable urge to do something for the “greater good” consider the following: boldly follow your dreams until you’re bleeding, make a spectacle of yourself, orchestrate-execute the loudest racket possible, and stop reading self-help books. With those actions and violent movements, permanence takes place. The kind that schemes, swindles its way through the decades, and ensures cantankerous beauty will never take its last breath.
-Kevin McGovern
FEAR AND LOATHING LB OFFICIAL