Posts Tagged ‘Jesus and Mary Chain’

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Heavy Rotation 51: Are You Still With Me? Edition

July 4, 2010

At this point, we’ve done nearly a year’s worth of Heavy Rotations. And you all have been simply fantastic to preach music to. But there has to have been a handful of times when you listened to a track I’ve recommended and thought, “The hell?” Maybe even more than a handful. Perhaps this happens quite frequently but you’re all so worried about me and my obviously unhinged brain that you cover up your dismay with streams of compliments and superlatives.

This volume of the Heavy Rotation is an attempt to explain exactly what the hell is wrong with me.

As you’ve heard so many kids say before, “I’m not like the other kids.” Something broke way back in the day. I never was really betrothed to verse-chorus-verse structures. That went away with the acclimation to industrial music. I never really liked over-production or skillful instrument usage. I was more interested in new noises and ritualistic abuse of common musical references.

My brain says, “We’ve all heard enough rock. Enough techno. Enough whatever, done perfectly and repeatedly. What else have you got?”

This is what I found. These are all formative tracks (and one late arrival) that left my musical psyche horribly mutated. I’ve still got a keen ear for beautifully done music and catchy tunes. But this is the shit it must fight through. And this is the shit I turn down before the neighbors can hear. This is the music I don’t introduce to the new in-laws.

There a few things that any one person can truly call their own, especially in terms of culture. But these are MINE.

I do not expect anyone to walk away from this feeling they’ve found a new “go-to” track for their next social event or even hear anything they’d want to hear again. But god help me, I love these songs.

I thank you in advance for indulging me. I also apologize in advance for any damage done to your stereo equipment or relationships with friends and neighbors.

[Right-click to download tracks. All other links open in a new window.]

Easier listening found here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Upside Down.mp3
This is their first single, which I encountered on their Barbed Wire Kisses compilation. It’s an ear-bleeding statement of intent, in which William and Jim Reid pretty much shove their guitars right through their amps, producing a wall of feedback that steamrolls anything Jimi Hendrix had ever done into an unrecognizable white-noise puddle.

Underneath the racket, which one critic memorably described as “a chainsaw in a hurricane,” there’s a hummable melody and some suitably bleak lyrics. But its the banshee-scream of the feedback that acts like a siren song to me, compelling me to place my head between the speakers until every synapse joins in.

And it probably explains the next tune quite a bit. (Still here? I’ll explain…)

Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness (Original Tweakin Acid Funk Mix).mp3
An influential breakbeat/acid house classic, featuring the tortured tones of a Roland bass emulator cut adrift of its factory settings and being made to do unpleasant things to sine waves.

Josh Wink allows it to ride a bit of a groove first before gradually winding it all up into a pulse of piercing tones, the likes of which had only been hinted at by early acid house pioneers like Hardfloor and DJ Pierre. An all-around celebration of making your machine(s) say, “Yes,” rather than simply taking their word for it when they say they shouldn’t.

If I hadn’t already been open to skull-piercing treble tones (thanks Jesus & Mary Chain!), I would never have gotten on board with this one.

Moby – Thousand.mp3
As long as we’re still within arrestable distance of club music, here’s techno popstar Moby, who plays around with his drum machine and ends up in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Fastest Song.”

For everyone who only knows him from Play onward may be surprised by his prolific days as a techno producer/DJ in which he produced several underground techno hits during the formative years of the American rave scene. Some of his best work is collected on Rare:The Collected B-Sides 1989-1993, from which this track is taken.

Thousand relies on little more than an accelerating beat and a parallel diva sample to get the job done. Moby takes the tune around the block a couple of times, opening it all the way up on the straightaways.

Should anyone really do this sort of thing, just because the technology will let them? I doubt it. But some people just have to. Moby is one of them. Should anybody call this “good,” let alone “great”? Of course not. But somebody still will. And that person will most likely be me.

The “Thousand” refers to the beats per minute.

Lightning Bolt – Two Towers.mp3
This nuisance of a band joined my intensely personal (and carefully obscured) heavy rotation thanks to my blog partner RF (who’s back, by the way). He shot this over to me along with a selection of other stuff ranging from the tuneful to the aggravating.

And this is where Lightning Bolt stand. They’re a two-person “band,” one playing a bass guitar and the other, a jazz trap set. What do they sound like? It depends on when you ask. They rarely sound like Primus. They don’t even really sound like their closest analogue, Death From Above 1979.

They sound like a fucked-up thrash band most of the time, but they run some amazing bass-propelled grooves, over which the masked drummer screams unintelligibly. (I can see the line forming now, he said tongue planted firmly in cheek, etc…) This track starts out like the most annoying hardcore track ever, with the guitarist wanking all over the place for about a minute in the most show-offy, tuneless manner possible. (Fingers on the “Next” button…)

But at :55, the track takes off. The song coheres and races off to the next transition, grinding and abrading the edges of a lockstep groove, which falls apart now and then, but seamlessly reassembles and continues, yes, rocking, believe it or not.

By all appearances this should suck. But it does not. Not to me. Not to RF. Not to dozens of fans worldwide. It’s brutal without having the decency to at least be efficient. Seven minutes is a lot to take. Unless you’re me. Or RF. I’m used to seven minutes of minimally changing grooves. I love techno. RF loves him some metal, so he’s used to being smacked around for extended periods as well.

It works like a noisy-ass mantra. It’s a drunken god of war parading through your headspace. It’s all so wrong it has to be right.

Skinny Puppy – Download.mp3
Had enough? Well, there’s just one more. And it’s only 11 minutes long. (Cue insane laughter and Persian cat-stroking.)

This is from a last-gasp effort by Skinny Puppy, Canada’s answer to Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. This is before they imploded. But not much before. Last Rights (from which this is taken) is the sound of self-destruction coupling with drug-fueled paranoia and unfocused rage.

This is the last track from the death knell (although they did reform, but for the sake of this post, we’ll pretend they never did). It’s more Cevin Key’s (keybs, percussion) baby than Nivek Ogre’s (lead singer). It’s an incoherent mess of samples and loops, driveby radio signals, reversed and pitch-shifted vocal snippets, random button mashing and good old-fashioned dial-spinning.

Operates much like Cevin Key’s post-Skinny Puppy work, functioning better as nightmarish soundscape than actual tuneage. Hell, he even named his next project after this track. It’s quite a bit to take, all this cacophony. So I’m going to do you a favor.

I don’t really care for the front half of this track myself. I find it to be pointlessly self-indulgent, much like I find most of Download’s (the band) work. Instead of subjecting yourself to something even I wouldn’t put up with, move on to where I think the track redeems itself.

Spin the virtual dial forward to 5:18. You’ll hear the last fading sonics from the first half meeting the most malevolent selection of bass tones which follow it until the end. They pan and sweep and haunt. They pulse and throb, attack and decay.

That is what I love. 5+ minutes of overdriven, mildly distorted bass lines, sweeping through the headphones and into the most damaged recesses of my personal tastes. It’s like hell’s theremin.

I love these sounds. You can’t make them with rock instruments. You have to work pretty hard to make them with banks of electronics. You have to work even harder to ride this sort of limited idea for 5-1/2 glorious minutes.

[Want a track removed? Would you care to see my blogger’s license? Could I interest you in a new set of speakers/ears? Email me: 2timegrime@gmail.com.]

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation Vol. 22

November 8, 2009

In honor of all the twos featured in the post title, here are three (!) sets of two songs that either complement each other or bookend the albums they appear on. I won’t ramble too much in the intro as I have plenty of rambling (and some damn fine tuneage) below.

Previous versions found here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

vitalic

Vitalic – See the Sea (Blue)/See the Sea (Red)
Vitalic’s latest album, Flashmob, features these two companion pieces, with both follow the same melody to very different conclusions.

Here’s what I love about Vitalic. He doesn’t fuck around. He’s an electro producer who’s been around since the early 2000’s. As one of the forerunners for the short-lived and over-hyped “electroclash” movement, Vitalic put in a little time making his name in that scene with the assistance of the “vocals” of Ms. Kitten.

Once everyone got tired of electro mixing with rock and dumping monotone monologues full of “shocking” subject matter (Drugs! Blowjobs!! Drugs and blowjobs!!!), the scene disintegrated into a million shiny shards. Most were trampled under the fleeting shoes of a million bandwagon-jumpers.

Vitalic stuck to his guns and his true calling: electro. Freed of the deadpan vocal schtick, Vitalic hit the bedroom studio and perfected his niche. His last two albums (including Flashmob) have been solid, with only a few misses. They also operate well as albums, a rarity in the mp3 world.

But here’s the key: he does it without pandering. He does it without attempting to court the mainstream with a ton of guest stars. He does it without attempting to broaden his spectrum by introducing change for the sake of change. He just cranks out track after track of amazing, confident electro.

Obviously this makes it a tougher sell than, say, “hard rock” or “old standards.” But if you’re good at what you do, why dilute it by flirting with the mainstream or other people who are never going to give a shit anyway?

See the Sea (Blue) starts slowly, building on some low-key synths and vocoded-into-thin-air vocals before tangling with a 303 in a nightclub parking lot.

See the Sea (Red) starts out bruising before suddenly dropping the bluster and showing its sensitive side.

Blue

Red

front 242

Front 242 – Serial Killers Don’t Kill Their Girlfriend/Serial Killers Don’t Kill Their Boyfriend
Out of Belgium, which is close enough to Germany to fall under the “you can’t throw a rock in this part of Europe without hitting an industrial band.” Progressing from the chanting and martial beats of their earlier work, which often gave them the feel of a deeper Nitzer Ebb, Front 242 dropped two incredible albums in 1993: 06:21:03:11 Up Evil and 05:22:09:12 Off. (The numbers stand for letters…)

Off is their masterpiece. Full of stylistic experiments, sound collages and even occasional female vocals, Off transcends the “industrial” label. These twin tracks appear six songs apart on an album filled with variations on themes. The song Animal appears four times with the subtitles Cage, Gate, Guide and Zoo, while Modern Angels progresses from an aggro stomper (original) to pulsing techno (Happiness [More Angels]) before concluding the album with a hardcore raveup (Speed Angels).

If these songs are serial killers, Boyfriend is the swaggering misanthrope, heading down dark alleys, all knives and chains. Girlfriend is the shadow in the bushes and the creak on the stairs.

But you can leave
Your mother home
You know how much I like to be alone
And when I hear the sound of your voice
It leaves me no choice…

Girlfriend

Boyfriend

the-jesus-and-mary-chain

Jesus and Mary Chain – Reverence/Frequency
Taken from the Chain’s last good album (Honey’s Dead), these track echo each other and actually bookend the album, with Reverence (and its attendant blasphemy) setting the tone and Frequency providing a coda in half the time with all the blasphemy and a set of chords (and a refrain) jacked from Greg Kihn’s Roadrunner.

I wanna die just like Jesus Christ
I wanna die on a bed of spikes
I wanna die just like Jesus Christ
With the radio on

Reverence

Frequency

For comparison:

All files loaded into an Archive, two-by-two:
Heavy Rotation Vol. 22
(link opens in new window)

-CLT

[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to its high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com. Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]
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Heavy Rotation Vol. 19 – Capitalist Lion Tamer’s All-Time Favorites

October 18, 2009

For this very special edition of Heavy Rotation, I’ve decided to run down my top 5 all-time favorite bands. These are the bands that soundtracked my second childhood, which started as soon as I exited my first childhood/family home.

I was a little behind the times, musically speaking. My parents were very religious which meant that rock (denoted as “secular”) was forbidden and so any music I heard was piped in by a Walkman under my pillow. I did get to listen to Christian rock, which is… well, it’s just fucking terrible stuff. Hank Hill said it best (referring to Christian rockers): “You’re not making music better. You’re just making Christianity worse.”

Consequently, I stumbled onto my favorite bands often after they had already broken up. (Never mind the bittersweet feeling of having lived long enough to see many of them reform, but at the time it seemed a little unfair.)

First listened to the Pixies in 1993. Their last album was released in 1991. The Cure? 1992. Their last album? Well, they’ve had many “last” albums, but for all intents and purposes, Disintegration (1989) was their last great one. The JAMC? 1993. Their next album, Stoned and Dethroned, had me swear off any purchases of their future albums. Love & Rockets? 1993. At that point they were four years removed from the success of So Alive and on permanent hiatus. Skinny Puppy? 1993. Last Rights was one year old and the band had broken up following the heroin implosion that was their modus operandi.

So, of course, they’ve all gotten back together for albums or tours by this point, but during my belated teen angsting it just seemed that God (or somebody) hated me by taunting me with a finite supply of music from my favorite bands.

Previous, less special, versions here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

pixies

Pixies – No. 13 Baby
My favorite band ever with my favorite song ever, if my maths is right. First stumbled across them on the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack with their song Wave of Mutilation (U.K. Surf). Rushed right out and bought Bossanova, which I discovered sounded nothing like that song, but also like nothing else I’d heard before (keep in mind, Nirvana hadn’t fully taken off yet).

Taken from 1989’s Doolittle album, this song features two odd features:

1. It runs nearly 4 minutes long when most of their catalog barely clears the 2.5 minute mark
2. It fades out over an extended (for them) wordless groove.

It’s about strange women and tattoos. More importantly, as you’ll find in the chorus, it’s about tattoo placement.

And then there’s this:
I want brown eyes la loma

You can take that shit to the bank.

I had this shirt and I wore it all the fucking time.

I had this shirt and I wore it all the fucking time.

Recommended listening: Well, you really can’t go wrong with any of the Pixies albums, but considering that their last two (Bossanova, Trompe Le Monde) tended to reflect Black Francis’ alien fetish, your best bet is to pick up Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Both are loaded with darkness and dynamic shifts as well as the occasional profanity.

 

Cure5

The Cure – All Cats Are Grey
Lumped in with the goth scene for no apparent reason, the Cure spent the greater part of a decade releasing some of the finest albums on the planet (1979-1989). This comes from 1981’s Faith, which is a joyride all the way through, following up on the synth additions of Seventeen Seconds and working as a prelude for the suicidal nihilism of 1984’s Pornography.

“Haunting” does the job to describe this track, as does “funereal,” but don’t let that scare you away. Eerie and atmospheric, the way the Cure was always meant to be.

Recommended listening: I can wholeheartedly recommend any album up to (and including) 1989’s Disintegration (my personal favorite). After that, things tend to get a bit spotty as Robert Smith seemed to be more focused on possible mainstream breakthroughs/possible full band breakups.

 

love and rockets

Love & Rockets – Haunted (When the Minutes Drag)
The best thing that ever happened to Bauhaus, Love & Rockets saw three of the founding members form their own psych-pop monster while still retaining their original haircuts.

Best known for their inescapable So Alive single, L&R released several albums that covered ground from goth-pop to Beatles-esque psychedelia to underground electronica. This track comes from their debut album Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. Originally two separate tracks written by Daniel Ash and David J, respectively, Haunted… is nowhere near the soundclash it should be. Instead it’s an aching song of desire and near-obsession that morphs into a kiss-off/dedication to the unnamed object all packed into the ambiguous but pointed phrase: “And this is for when you feel nothing.”

I have this logo tattooed on my arm, done by perhaps the worst tattooist in the Greater Midwest. So, no, I won't be showing it off.

I have this logo tattooed on my arm, done by perhaps the worst tattooist in the Greater Midwest. So, no, I won't be showing it off.

Recommended listening: Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, Express and Sweet F.A. are the strongest. The rest of their albums all have something to recommend but until you’ve decided that this is the band for you, you might find their genre-hopping to be a bit frustrating and definitely uneven.

 

the-jesus-and-mary-chain-1

The Jesus and Mary Chain – Who Do You Love
Another soundtrack band. Heard them on the Encino Man soundtrack of all places with an awesomely fucked up love song called Why’d You Want Me. Tracked down their debut album first and fell head over heels for the sustained feedback, dark lyrics and towering hair.

This is by no means my favorite track by the Scottish brothers (that would be Upside Down which is 2:34 of someone shoving a cheap guitar through an amplifier) but it was the best I could find on the youtubes.

A truly wicked deconstruction of the song popularized by George Thorogood. Slowed down to half-speed, alternately drawled and howled and punctuated by the siren call of feedback.

Recommended listening: Their first four albums, with Psychocandy and Darklands being the standouts. As they went on, they got more satisfied with their very competent drum machine and tended to dial back the feedback. Beware of Stoned and Dethroned, which ditches their sound completely and much of their lyrical bite. Also worth buying: their first two b-sides collections (Barbed Wire Kisses and The Sound of Speed) which include some of the finest music never to grace a proper album.

 

skinnypuppy_1

Skinny Puppy – Icebreaker
Here’s the point where most of you will say, “Those are all pretty well-known altrock touchstones and etc., but where’s the ringer?”

Skinny Puppy, Canada’s foremost noise terrorists. Fronted by Nivek Ogre, Skinny Puppy laid the groundwork for industrial dancefloors with their sonic nightmares. Of course, this ground was somewhat paved already by the likes of Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, but Skinny Puppy took the ball and ran with it.

This track comes from Bites, an album that sounded like nothing else in 1983. Full of twisted electronics coughing up damaged chords and distortion, all swirling around Nivek’s bark and several menacing samples.

Recommended listening: Other than their album The Process, everything else is runs the gamut from good-outstanding (although I am unfamiliar with their reformed output). I’m partial to Bites, Remission, Back & Forth Series 1, Too Dark Park and Last Rights. Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate and Rabies can be put on the back burner until the other albums have been given a good rinse.

Here’s a taste of their understated live work:

All tunes in one nostalgic zip file of way-backness.
Heavy Rotation Vol. 19 (link will open in a new window)

-CLT

[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to its high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com. Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]
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Destroy/Dismantle

April 23, 2009
The Reid brothers and their magnificent hair.

The Reid brothers and their magnificent hair.

Today’s lineup – the Jesus & Mary Chain vs. the Beach Boys, George Thorogood and the Rolling Stones.

Scotland’s finest feedback merchants have done a variety of covers (the Cramps’ “New Kind of Kick,” the Temptations’ “My Girl,” the 13th Floor Elevators’ “Reverberation,” Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song”) but none of those compare to the cheerful destruction found in this trio of tracks. Nothing like some big-haired Scottish bastards taking the piss out of some venerated rock icons.

Surfing USA
Sure, the bouncy melody and singalongness of this Beach Boys chestnut remain, but good luck trying to find it under all the scalding feedback.

Verdict: What the Beach Boys would have sounded like if 1.) they hated their audience and 2.) lived in a piss poor surfing climate.

JAMC – Surfing USA.mp3

Who Do You Love
The Reid brothers grab this redneck favorite, shake all the swamp boogie out of it and take it for a long menacing stroll through a dark, Scottish bog. Soaked in reverb, echo and menace.

Verdict: What George Thorogood would some like if he was actually any good.

JAMC – Who Do You Love.mp3

Little Red Rooster
A Willie Dixon blues standard, most famously covered by the Rolling Stones. Plucking this track from back in the day when the Rolling Stones were just a fairly useful covers band, the Chain turn the usual blues progression into a lurching, wheezing catastrophe. Waves of distortion and feedback cling to a barely-there tune as the Reids crank their aural slugfest up to 11.

Verdict: What the Stones would sound like if they had a woeful misunderstanding of how any of their audio equipment worked.

JAMC – Little Red Rooster.mp3

All mp3s are only temporarily available. If you like what you hear, please support the artists. If you wish to have a track removed, please contact me at 2timegrime@gmail.com.

-CLT