Sunday, February 27, 2011

½ Japanese
"Little Animals"

½ Japanese
½ Gentlemen / Not Beasts
(self-released, 1979)

½ Japanese are, in my opinion, the best band ever in the history of music. They took rock'n'roll and stripped it down to its basest elements: vocals, rhythm, noise. Where The Velvet Underground grooved out on two chord throbbers like Sister Ray, and the Modern Lovers took it down a level to one-chord wonders like She Cracked, ½ Jap stripped it down even further, to no chords. They had words, they had rhythm, why bother to tune the guitar? Just turn it up as loud as it will go and play it like you mean it.

I wrote a tiny bit about the history of ½ Japanese when I posted Jad Fair's Another Silent Night a few months ago. This particular song, however, falls into a sort of lost era of the band.

After moving to Maryland in the mid-70's, the Fair brothers, Jad and David, released their first two records, 1977's Calling All Girls EP and 1978's No Direct Line From My Brain To My Heart single, as a duo. Or, if you prefer, I believe Byron Coley referred to them as a two-man noise Howitzer in an issue of Spin back in the 80's. Their next vinyl release came in 1980: a massive, triple-LP, box set called 1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts. The first two discs were home studio recordings, including some of the songs from the two 7"s (some re-recorded), whereas the third was a live disc, featuring two different gigs with John and Rucky Dreyfuss, of the incredible DC art punkers the Chumps, joining in on sax and drums.

Prior to the triple-LP, however, 1979 saw two self-released cassettes: ½ Gentlemen / Not Beasts (note the use of the ½ character and additional spaces in the title) and ½ Live. The former featured material to later end up on the first two discs of the triple-LP, and portions of the latter appeared on the third disc in the set. Observant owners of the triple-LP and/or double-CD sets may have noticed there are printed lyrics to some songs that do not actually appear in studio versions. One of those songs is today's selection, Little Animals. It does appear, albeit briefly, on the live recording from Baltimore, but it appears on the tape in a studio version, along with a bunch of other songs that also did not make it onto the triple-LP set. As far as I am aware, it's never been released anywhere other than this tape. As you can hear, someone is playing bass, tunefully even, so it's obviously not a duo recording. My copy of the tape was missing all the inserts, so it has no credits, or even song titles. I'll hazard a guess that John and Rucky are on sax and drums, but I don't want to risk improperly guessing at the bassist.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

San Agustin

San Agustin
(Road Cone, 1998)

I first saw San Agustin guitarists Andrew Burnes and David Daniell play as part of the group Barrel, whom I suppose you could say were math rockers. San Agustin (also featuring percussionist Bryan Fielden) are a very different beast, however. Whereas Barrel were tightly scripted, intricate, and loud, San Agustin are an improvisational trio, and much quieter and more introspective than Barrel (they do get quite loud at times, however). Most of their recorded pieces don't have titles, per se, and today's selection, from their first full-length release, is no exception. The album contains four tracks, each denoted simply by the duration of the piece, hence "12'32" for this one. To the best of my knowledge, San Agustin are still extant, but they play infrequently, and their most recent release, a one-sided 12" on Table of the Elements, came out in 2003.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

MC Hawking
"F#@k the Creationists"

Amazon MP3
MC Hawking
A Brief History of Rhyme: MC Hawking's Greatest Hits
(Brash Music, 2004)

Everyone needs a hobby, right? Even famous people need, and have, them. Alice Cooper is an avid golfer, for example. Ted Nugent collects Precious Moments™ figurines. Pat Robertson is a scrapbooker; his delightful photo essays of the biannual 700 Club* orgies he hosts are the envy of the other evangelicals. And theoretical physicist/mathematician Stephen Hawking? Why, he's a gangsta rapper, bustin' dope rhymes when not putting caps in black holes and/or enraging the Pope.

Today's song originally appeared on his third EP, E = mchawking, but all I have is the best of compilation, so that's what you get. By the way, the title is spelled "F#@k the Creationists" on the CD cover; it's not just me censoring it. You can probably guess the filthy Anglo-Saxon word, as my dear mother used to call them, he actually uses in the song.

*Why do you think they call it the "700 Club?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The American Breed
"New Games to Play"

The American Breed
Lonely Side of the Street
(Acta Records, 1968)

Gap had this ad several years ago for stretch jeans with a song that sounded a bit like The Troggs crossed with Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. I mean, the singer reminded me strongly of The Troggs' primary vocalist Reg Presley, but I was pretty sure it wasn't him, as the music was horn-driven pop. Back then, Gap's website had info on the music they used in tv commercials, so I clicked around and discovered it was "Bend Me, Shape Me," by a group called The American Breed. I checked Amazon and found there was a CD collection from 1994, Bend Me, Shape Me: The Best of The American Breed, but it was out-of-print and selling for close to $100 at the time; I decided to pass on it. Not too long after, a new new & used CD store opened a few miles from our house, and I, of course, was compelled to check it out. After a perusal of the bins, I walked out $8.56 poorer but holding a copy of said CD.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paradise Alley
"Searching for Life"

Paradise Alley
Paradise Alley
(Three S Label, 1995)

I must confess I know nothing about these folks other than they released the above EP containing today's song, and a longer CD, Native, on my favorite label, SSE Communications. Both CDs were released in 1995, and I have no idea which came first, though the eponymous one seems a good bet. Regardless, I hope you dig it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Human Switchboard

My friend Elizabeth was/is a big fan of neo garage wavers The Human Switchboard, and I ended up buying their lone studio LP, Who's Landing in My Hangar?, partly 'cause o' her evil influence. Thank goodness it's a great record; I would've hated having to kill her.

One day, I was shopping at Yesterday and Today Records, when they were still a brick'n'mortar operation, and stumbled upon a 7" record by The Human Switchboard. I had no idea such a thing existed! As it turned out, they released three of the suckers before the LP mentioned above. Today's song is the second song from side one of their first little record.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Flesh Eaters
"Hand of Glory"

The Flesh Eaters
Forever Came Today
(Ruby Records/Slash Records, 1982)

The Flesh Eaters were one of the early L.A. punk bands. Much like (former) Misfits leader Glenn Danzig, frontman Chris D. (short for Desjardins) is obsessed with movies, horror flicks in particular, and pulled titles from films on a regular basis. The band name, for example, is a somewhat obscure 1964 film about a former Nazi scientist developing microscopic, flesh eating creatures on a remote island. Unlike Danzig, Chris D.'s voice takes some getting used to, and his last name is much more difficult to spell. Then again, Danzig isn't his birth name; it's Anzalone. Anyhow, I found Chris D.'s voice borderline unlistenable at first, but now I can't imagine The Flesh Eaters without that melodramatic, tortured yelp.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



  • 黒百合姉妹 = Kuruyuri Shimai = Black Lily Sisters
  • 月の蝕 = Tsuki no Shoku = Eclipse of the Moon
  • 左の耳のための喜びの歌 = Hidari no mimi no tame no yorokobi no uta = Songs of Joy for the Left Ear

I first heard 黒百合姉妹 on the compilation CD Galaxy & Nū-Beauty, also released on SSE Communications. I'd purchased it because it has exclusive tracks from YBO² and UFO or Die, one of Boredoms leader Eye's many, many side projects. As it turned out, just about every song on it was great; it's also where I first heard 割礼, featured here last October.

I wasn't sure what to make of 黒百合姉妹, at first, but I liked their two songs on the compilation. I eventually found a copy of their 4th album, 『Lux Aeterna~久遠の光』, on eBay for a reasonable price, so I bought it. After, I think, one listen, I thirsted for more! They've released ten CDs, plus an eleventh under the name Juri et Lisa (their names). The five early '90s releases on SSE are all out of print, but they reissued them on their on label, Sibylla, in 2006, albeit it with slightly altered cover art and some differences in tracks. Today's song is from their third album, yet it does not appear on the reissue, for whatever reason, nor does the song prior to it.

In addition to the releases on SSE, they released four live CDs on Sibylla in 2002 and 2004, plus two more studio albums since. The two most recent are quite possibly the best they've done yet, and that's saying a lot.

NOTE: The four self-released live CDs are only available from them by mailorder and one store in Tokyo. They're worth it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kim Salmon and The Business
"Love Me"

Kim Salmon and The Business
Saving Me from Me
CD single
(Half a Cow Records, 1999)

Happy Valentine's Day!

What could be better than an anguished song about unrequited love?

How about an anguished song about unrequited love written Dudley Moore for the brilliant 1967 film Bedazzled, written by and starring Duds and his pal Peter Cook?

How about an anguished song about unrequited love written Dudley Moore for the brilliant 1967 film Bedazzled, written by and starring Duds and his pal Peter Cook, as covered by one of my favorite artists of all time?

You're absolutely right!


[video of the scene itself after the jump]

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Slow Horse
"When Are You Coming Home?"

Uh, oh! You either don't have the Flash plug-in installed, or you have it disabled.
Otherwise, there'd be a cute lil' streaming audio player on the left, rather than this message.

I saw these guys play with German stoner metallers Calamus here in the ATL many years ago (they kicked butt, btw). Maybe I was just too excited to see Calamus again, or maybe they had an off night; either way, I thought Slow Horse kinda . . . stunk. Somehow, at a later date, I still ended up buying their second album, which has the same title as the one featured today, but different artwork (there are boobies, if you look closely and that's your thing) and songs (shocker, huh?). I wonder who's the bigger inspiration? Peter Gabriel or George Foreman?

Today's jukebox selection (almost) shares a title with one of my favorite Galaxie 500 songs, When Will You Come Home. Lyrically, well, they're both downersville, though this song is about finality, rather than temporary separation. Musically, this song's a bit heavier.


After the release of their second album, vocalist-slash-guitarist Dan Bukszpan gained an iel and became a published author, with the release of The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. In addition, we even worked for the same corporation for a bit, though our desks were probably around 1,000 miles apart.

Sadly, I have not been able to find a good link for Calamus. They released three albums, a couple of EPs and a couple of split 7"s records, one with Slow Horse (each covering a song by the other) and one with Duster69. The latter is on vinyl so heavy, my turntable thinks it's an LP!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Budapest Bukkake"

As the name implies, Hotguitars play guitars, and they're a duo (hooray!). Guitarist Jyrki Laiho used to play guitar with Finnish krautrocky metallers Circle, and guitarist T-mu Korpipää was Circle's soundman. I found their second album, Hierarkia (recorded with Finnish poet Santtu Puukka joining them), in a bargain bin. The cover was interesting and it was only 25¢, so how could I pass it up? How, I ask you?

Today's song, however, is from the Confessions EP, released in-between Hierarkia and their debut, Duets, Duels & D.I.Y.'s (a CDR limited to 150 copies). It's one of their more pounding numbers, and I dig it rather a lot.

They released their third full-length album, ...pronounced (hɔt gi'ta:s), in 2007. There was talk in 2005 of reissuing Duets, Duels & D.I.Y.'s on CD, with new cover art and bonus material, but that doesn't appear to have happened.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sunday Drive Bye
"Back to One"

Sunday Drive Bye
The Subtle Art of Overkill
(Walk to Run Records, 2007)

I do like a bit of power pop, and this song kicks butt. Vocally, it's definitely a head spinner, as vocalist Jonathan Sleep somehow manages to sound both like (someone I can't place) and Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon . . . at the same time! I'm not sure if it's he that plays the killer guitar solo in the middle, or if it was the other guitarist, Travis Navarra, but it rips, either way. It's most likely not Gary Richrath; that's for sure.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ruins + 梅津和時

Today's jukebox entry is from a live cassette released by the Japanese prog punk duo powerhouse Ruins in-between their third and forth albums, Graviyaunosch and Hyderomastgroningem. 梅津和時 is saxophonist Kazutoki Umezu, but I must confess I know nothing about him other than his bio is impressive, and his playing on this release is ferocious.

The studio version of B.U.G. originally appeared on Ruins III, the first full-length Ruins record. It's available as a bonus track (remixed, however) on the Shimmy-Disc release of the second Ruins album, Stonehenge. It's a little over one third as long as the version presented here, however, as they really stretched their improv muscles on this date with 梅津和時.

Funny aside: When we first got Stonehenge at my college radio station, on LP, I thought B.U.G. was skipping, and actually got up from my desk to check the record player.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rip Rig & Panic
"Go, Go, Go! (This Is It)"

Rip Rig & Panic
Go, Go, Go! (This Is It)
7" single
(Virgin Records, 1981)

Today's song is the debut single by Rip Rig & Panic, who became Rip Rig + Panic by the time of their next single, "Bob Hope Takes Risks," hence the née tag. RRP featured Gareth Sager and Bruce Smith, both formerly of The Pop Group, and vocalist Neneh Cherry, daughter of free jazz trumpeter Don Cherry I've got only the first two of their albums, God and I Am Cold, plus some singles, and they're all killer. Skronky jazz horns, funky bass, sheet metal guitar, etc. I only don't have their third album, Attitude, because I have yet to see a copy for sale.