In which Hey Champ consult their Ouija board and their rhyming dictionary, King Unique lay down their own brand of “dirty house” (and provide us with a theme and title), Cassetteboy does terrible things to a very British celebu-chef (followed immediately by an apology to his Mum) and D12 does all sorts of heinous things to their collective Mums with the assistance of Mellow Cake’s wonky propulsiveness.
Oh, and in the bonus round, Giko takes time to clarify that he doesn’t hate you, he just wants to be your proctologist.
Here are the links: (All links open in a new window.)
I don’t have three links picked out this week due to some scheduling conflicts (read: more going on than I have actual hours for). Instead, I’m posting links to three blogs I read regularly. (Again, time permitting.)
All links open in a new window. Right-click on song titles to download.
Deftones – Rocket Skates (m83 Remix).mp3 First of all, I’m never really sure whether to pronounce them as the Def-tones or the Deft-ones. (Wiki says “Def-tones,” but then Wiki says a lot of stuff. I’m going to go with the second.)
If you had to listen to one nu metal band, you could do a whole lot worse than Chino Moreno’s band, which has been a formative force in many a lesser nu metal band. Needless to say, we’ll try no to hold that against them.
But what we’re really here for is the remix. And m83 do a number on this one. Somehow, through some sort of electronic sorcery, m83 manage to crank up the aggression while simultaneously losing every single guitar. There’s not a single six-string chord in sight and yet, the track still sounds raw and unhinged. Moreno’s vocals deserve some of the credit here, helping to pace the tune while being set adrift from his usual rhythm section.
It all adds up to a Deftones track that I would not only listen to, but listen to repeatedly.
Twin Sister – Lady Daydream (Glitter Bones Remix).mp3 A gorgeous daytripper filled with the swooning harmonics of the greatest ’60s girl group to never exist, filtered through electronica (via Glitter Bones) that lies somewhere between Telepopmusik and Peepholes. It’s the audio equivalent of an early-morning mist rolling off the ocean as it gently breaks across the empty shoreline.
Plus, it features one of the most self-effacing daily affirmations ever:
Just because I’m losing you
Doesn’t make me a loser
Oh, and check out their site. Not only does it do the usual tours/releases thing, but stems for all songs are available so you can remix them yourselves. Bedroom producers: start your laptops.
Toy – The All Seeing Eye.mp3
English-Norwegian electronic duo Toy’s take on dub will no doubt be shunned by the very genre it embraces, because, for some goddamn reason, dub is taken very seriously by its fans. All thses kids with sunken cheeks and studio tans keep hanging around bringing everybody down with their “it’s 40 degrees and raining in my head… all the time” moodiness.
Who says dub has to be all detached and distended? Toy certainly doesn’t. Their track gurgles away, wandering around carefreely, past some cartoonish noises and into a whole pile of synthed-up strings. Not entirely unlike Dub Narcotic Soundsystem, who seldom took their “job” seriously while still managing to deploy every reverberating trick in the book.
Hot Chip – I Feel Better (Den Haan Remix).mp3 Den Haan, Glaswegian disco-technicians (and featured in an earlier Heavy Rotation), turn in a brilliant retro remix that recalls flourescent-covered bodies strutting their stuff on a smoke-filled dancefloor, when not slipping away to the restrooms to dice up coke rails with their corporate credit cards.
Plushgun – Mixtape (Buffetlibre Remix).mp3
With a track name like “Mixtape,” you know Plushgun is looking backwards. Between their rearview mirror and Buffetlibre’s surehanded post-production, it sounds like nothing less than the second coming of Erasure, who never really went away, actually. It’s just that no one really talks about them anymore…
[Need a track taken down? Got some time on your hands that you’d be willing to part with? Viagra/Cialis for sale at low, low prices? Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Welcome to the 50th installment of the Heavy Rotation. I don’t really have anything planned as this sort of snuck up on me, and if you really get technical (and we will), this is actually the 51st, thanks to the numbering system not really “catching on” until the third HR. This doesn’t even include the repeated number somewhere in the 30’s.
Long story short: we’re calling this 50, but we’re not making a big deal of it.
First the links, because we’re all just not using the internet enough already:
[All links open in a new window. Right-click on track names to download.]
The Antlers – Kettering.mp3
We’ll build up this time around. Kicking things off is the Antlers and their dream/nightmare pop, delivering a haunting dirge detailing the frustration and futility of losing someone to forces beyond your control. The internal scream of someone dying on the inside watching someone dying on the outside.
The Delta Mirror – Going to Town.mp3 Former L.A. indie hip hop producers find a new life on the offworld colonies, returning to earth with their troubled take on post-rock/electronica via the shoegazey plugins of m83 and Ulrich Schnauss. Certainly more menacing than the bands listed above (although m83 does go darker more often than US), Going to Town rides a mildly fucked-up beat deep into the shadows while bright synth tones alluringly drag the listener down with them.
How could something so pretty be so full of pain? And why the hell does it remind me so much of the following track that my brain nearly broke trying to put 2 and 2 together around 4 in the morning early last week?
Ulrich Schnauss – Between Us and Them.mp3
Germany’s least expected import, Ulrich Schnauss writes love letters to My Bloody Valentine and Chapterhouse using his newfangled software and racks of electronics, rather than the tear-stained quill and paper they’re used to. Much like m83 and the recently discovered Incubator, Schnauss builds emotional moments from a collection of bits and bytes and creates cripplingly gorgeous soundscapes from files and folders.
This track sounds a fair bit like the previous one. And vice versa. Actually, more vice versa than not, what with Schnauss hitting the scene first.
m83 – Teen Angst (Death to the Throne Mix).mp3 Now the beats are starting to kick in. Death to the Throne dresses up Teen Angst for the dancefloor without pandering to the club kids, allowing blasts of m83’s white noise to break through before sending the 4/4 beat in to restore order, most memorably in the stutter-step-stagger bursts that lead into the 2nd chorus.
A loping beat meets gently weeping guitar licks before the bass kicks in with the intonation, “You leave me no choice but to plot my revenge.” As the vocals loop the song starts to strut, muscling its way into your ears and heading straight for your ass, mutating into a veritable rock fucking monster that Led Zeppelin woud have been proud to call their own.
[Need a track removed? Tired of all this shoegaze-tronica? Need some money wired to an ailing relative in Kenya? Contact me at email@example.com.]
Rraaiillss – SPF85.mp3
First there was the Jesus and Mary Chain. And they were awesome. And as most bands do, they started strong and faded but were divisive enough to be considered influential, what with all their feedback and darkened outlook. But for a long time, bands called them an influence but gave no musical reason for us to believe them.
Suddenly, twenty + years after their feedback-drenched debut, bands all over the place are sound like JAMC meant more to them than just something to say to music journos. A Place to Bury Strangers, the Young Boys, Nikoo, etc. And now, the cat-on-the-keyboard-named Rraaiills.
However, Rraaiillss follows the less noisy path, with one-man band Adam Anderson staking a claim somewhere in the middle of Darklands, the milder sophomore album by the Scottish noise boys. It’s all understated distortion, hummable melodies and a bleak-as-the-great-Scottish-outdoors outlook. (You can pick up his entire 4-track ep for FREE here: http://rraaiillss.bandcamp.com/ )
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Nine Million Rainy Days.mp3 This one is for comparison. From the second album by the Jesus and Mary Chain, in which they mostly turned their back on walls of feedback, but didn’t quite do an entire 180 and start looking their audience in the eye. An atmospheric broken hymn to a collapsing relationship and the attendant exposed nerve endings of obsession.
Liars – Cycle Time.mp3 Unfolds like a bar fight. The first half is the buildup, instigated by the wrong thing said or the stare that goes on a beat too long. The chips fall off the shoulders at 1:06, leading to a chorus that hits like a swung bottle. It’s over as quickly as it starts, leaving behind nothing but bruises, blood and the echo of footsteps escaping the scene before the cops show up. Check out more from the Liars here: http://www.myspace.com/liarsliarsliars
autoKratz – Kick (BANKSY Mix).mp3
Banging away at your psyche with brooding efficiency, autoKratz’ dark tech/prog house banger (like they made in the good old days) features some icy, industrial-esque vocal distortion and an assortment of haunting electronic hums and ping-ponging scary noises.
The 4/4 thump and bass thrum move the track along with enough singlemindedness to get asses on the floor, where it proceeds to scare the bejeezus out of anyone chemically-addled enough to get too close to the bassbins. A lot like Front Line Assembly’s best work.
Chemical Brothers – K+D+B.mp3 Los Hermanos Chemical are back! Thank god. And I don’t just mean they’ve released a new album. No, they’ve done plenty of that recently with middling effectiveness and an annoying reliance on guest stars to aid in their quest to abandon their fanbase and acquire the kind of listeners who have shown a distinct tendency to pick Lady Gaga or whatnot instead.
No. Not just another album.
They. Are. Back.
Further is easily their best album since 1999’s Surrender, which is fitting because this album sounds a whole lot like that one. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s melodic. It’s thumping. It’s the underground we all wanted to be a part of. It’s the 4am set that turns to bliss as the sun rises over 20,000 dancers in a field, celebrating a primal togetherness that can only be explained by hamfisted writing and botched metaphors.
K+D+B is all that in one 5-1/2 minute track. Starting with some drums right out of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, the ChemBros kick up the pace, relying on not much else but the syncopated beats. Around a minute in, the keyboards and samples kick in, bringing the track into the daylight and warming everything around it. 1:43: something that could be called an electro-bagpipe kicks in. A buzzing burst of treble noise, but calling it “noise” does it a disservice. It adds rather than distracts.
Builds and builds and builds and why the fuck not? The sampled singing keeps telling us “higher.” I’m only making things worse by attempting to express the pure euphoria and enchantment that two guys with a room full of switches are capable of evoking. Just listen.
[Want a track removed? Think I used the words “electro” or “fuck” too much? Just say so (but nicely): firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Another week, another selection of varied tunes for your perusal. Except this week. Well, there are tunes, but they’re all up in each other’s bidness, as you’ll have bludgeoned into your head with this extremely wordy issue of Heavy Rotation. Many thanks in advance for those who wade right in.
If you’ve still got time to spare, take a look at these:
First up: Goth pioneers Bauhaus drop their art-damaged punk all over John Cale’s dark musings on Jesus’ Marys: the virgin mother and the attentive prostitute. From the street hassle of being a virgin mother:
Virgin Mary was tired So tired Tired of listening to gossip Gossip and complaints They came from next door
to the epicenter of the pointless, projecting gossip:
And a bewildered stream of chatter From all sorts of All sorts of Untidy whores Came from next door
The song tracks the petty travails of being a legend in your own time, a position made less envious by being linked inextricably by the savior of the world, a man of impossible standards and unconditional love.
Peter Murphy struts, vamps and screams, playing off the lyrical surges while his bandmates chime in with hoarse, whorish shouts, channeling the tormented/tormenting taunts of “screaming whores” with guttural barks of “UH!”.
But their choice don’t seem to matter They got swollen breasts and lips that putter And their choice of matter and their scream of chatter Is just a little parasitic scream of whores Screaming whores In the rosegarden funeral of sores
And now the Pixies…
From the most Biblically obsessed of their albums (1989’s Doolittle) comes this perverted love/lust song, filled with contaminated yearning and cursed fatalism. Riding a bassline they wouldn’t top until later that album (I Bleed), Black Francis unleashes his naked desire only to find it anchored to the dead weight of a self-destructive relationship:
Hey! Been trying to meet you Mmm… Hey! Must be a devil between us Or whores in my head Whores at the door Whore in my bed
The Pixies cover a Brian Wilson track that got deep-sixed by Mike Love for being too cynical and “out there” for the average boomer, taking an angular, guitar-heavy run through the greatest Beach Boys track never to hit the airwaves. (What if it had? It might have changed the face of “classic rock” completely. I think it would have hit Jimmy Buffett’s pocketbook the hardest…)
As the band warms up for the run, Black Francis fires off “Hullo, hullo, hullo…” quoting the opening of P.I.L.’s opening salvo Public Image, another deconstruction of rock ego and myth-making. Why this appropriation? Perhaps to indicate that Hang Onto Your Ego could have been a generational kiss off to a generation of undemanding Beach Boy fans.
I know so many people Who think they can do it alone They isolate their heads And stay in the safety zone
But what can you tell them? What can you say that won’t make them defensive?
So… Hang on to your ego Hang on, but I know that you’re gonna lose the fight
They come on like they’re peaceful But inside they’re so uptight They trip through the day And waste all their thoughts at night
But how can I say it? How can I come on when I know I’m guilty?
Speaking of which, John Lydon (the former Johnny Rotten) sends the Sex Pistols’ fans running for the shelter of their now “status quo” punk bands with the debut single from his new project, Public Image Ltd. His last words as Rotten were, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”
Cheated by your manager. Cheated by your label. Cheated by your smack-addled murderer of a bass player. Cheated by the revolution that never was. Cheated by fans who wanted nothing more than a soundtrack for drunked, drugged-up mosh pits.
Lydon flips the script, announcing punk is over with a bruising bassline thundering over some exploratory soundcheck/reality check “hullos.” A farewell to Rotten/Sex Pistols/McLaren/Punk “Scene.” If his fans couldn’t be bothered to bootstrap a musical revolution, he’d just have to do it himself.
You never listen to a word that I said You’ve only seen me For the clothes that I wear Or did the interest go so much deeper It must have been The colour of my hair
What you wanted was never made clear Behind the image was ignorance and fear You hide behind this public machine Still follow same old scheme
Public image you got what you wanted The Public image belongs to me It’s my entrance My own creation My grand finale My goodbye
[Yet another connection made only recently, although, to be fair, the Rough Diamonds compilation which contains this Pixies track is only a few years old… Still…]
Since we’re already in a Pixies mood, let’s take two looks at the same track and the difference a great producer makes.
Let’s go ahead and clear the air: Steve Albini is an asshole. But he’s an uber-talented asshole who doesn’t glorify his own position. As is the case with most albums he’s produced, Albini credits himself with nothing more glamorous than “recording.” He knows what he’s looking for and he doesn’t fuck around.
There are plenty of anecdotes out there dealing with his “hands off” production technique. During the 1988 Surfer Rosa sessions, the most famous Albini-ism was his direction, which consisted of declaring things to be either “pussy” (in need of improvement) or “not pussy” (good to go).
So, listen closely to the two versions.
The demo version (taken from the Rough Diamonds compilation) runs nearly a minute longer. There’s a bit more space between the verses, giving Joey Santiago a chance to run through about a half-dozen ideas, casting liberal (for the Pixies) amounts of guitar squall/skronk here and there much like he did in “Vamos.”
The chorus and bridges linger for a bit too long, but that could just be 20+ years of hindsight speaking. All in all, a little unfocused but still a track that thousands of bands would kill to have in their catalogue, perfectly demonstrating the Pixies’ flawless command of the quiet/loud dynamic.
Now listen to the album version.
It is tight. Economical. No wasted effort anywhere. Santiago’s guitar scribblings are limited to propelling the song thru some lingering notes and restrained strumming. Pay special attention to the bridge between the first chorus and second verse, when he pulls the listener along on a thin strand of sustained feedback, using a couple of held notes to tie it all together and letting the rhythm section (and Kim’s backing vocals) do all the heavy lifting.
And Lovering’s drums. Those are definitely “not pussy.” It makes the drumming on the demo version seem so… serviceable. Of course, this may be nothing more than better miking and mastering, but that’s why a great producer is worth the $$$.
Of course, the song itself rocks hard, alternating between melodic and stormy, riding a metaphor from the Gaza Strip to the Cradle of Civilization.
K-X-P – 18 Hours (of Love).mp3
Emerging from Helsinki, Finland armed with a stack of Spacemen 3 and Suicide records, K-X-P mine a more restrained vein of space/drone rock than their influences would indicate. This track rides an amped-up bluesy groove not a million miles removed from Spirit in the Sky, which is accented with blankets of reverb, bursts of distortion and very occasional bits of electro-drumming.
Grave Babies – Eating Babies.mp3 Grave Babies – Graves.mp3
The Grave Babies (whom I’ve featured before) have been heavily rotating around my skull for the past several weeks. The entire album (which can be found here [right-click to download]) is a washed-out masterpiece, built of waves of static and distorted instrumentation suggesting the last broadcast of man’s intangible humanity, slowly disintegrating as it rides a decaying signal.
These tracks (the first and last songs on the album) are both works of severely fucking damaged beauty, exploring the minutia of the post-apocalypse as it stands in contrast to omnipresent death and destruction. In other words, there’s nothing like an epidemic of death and undeath to make every small human interaction all-important while simultaneously completely irrelevant.
Like a heartbreaking conversation that plays out with someone saying “I love you” only to hear in reply, “Does it matter?”
(Note to listeners: Graves, from about 3 minutes on, is nothing but static, distortion and disembodied talking. You can move on at that point. It’s great in the context of the album, but a bit much when sampling a single track.)
On the actual “musical information” side, the song deals with domestic violence, which the Scottish have a lot of experience with apparently… (See also: Glasgow Kiss. And also: Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – Sealed with a Glasgow Kiss.)
Rotovibe – Become.mp3
I won’t lie to you. This is going to sound like a million other lovelorn songs for about a minute or two. I thought the same thing. I was about to hit “Next” on the mp3 player when some nice backing vocals kicked in at the 45-second mark.
I gave it a stay of execution. It started to dive back down and my finger hovered over the kill switch… Then the crafty bastards brought in an organ. And you know how I feel about organ tones. Plus, the chiming, reverbed guitars were wearing down my resistance.
So, I’m still holding. It builds a little. A little more. The vocals reach a peak. Then the other guitar(s) join in (2:30). And holyfuckingshit, we have a Heavy Rotation entry. The perfect storm of distortion, wah pedal and some skilfully wielded feedback.
To sum up: sounds like a head-on collision of Classic Girl and Up the Beach by Jane’s Addiction, which leaves behind shards of resplendent destruction and the most exquisite corpse you’ve ever seen/heard.
Somewhere between one-chord punk and free form garage rock, the DDG experience is as much fun as a barrel full of nitrous. Enjoy. (And of course, many thanks to the oddly omnipresent MEK for pointing me in their direction.)
The Fall – Serum.mp3
From 2002’s underrated* The Unutterable, a heavily electronic album that seems to be stealing pages from several different electronic artists (var. Big Beat artists, some swing/samba distortion a la Foetus). This track in particular seems to be quoting (of all bands) Infected Mushroom**, I shit you not. It’s all densely layered breakbeats and acid squiggles, with Mark E. Smith’s overenunciated Mancunian drawl coloring in the spaces, ranting-uh and raving-uh about godknowswhat.
* (Let’s be honest, when you release something like 1,300 albums over the course of 3.5 decades, you’re bound to end up with a few labelled “underrated.” It’s just simple math.)
** (If you’re not familiar, and there’s really no reason you should be, Infected Mushroom are an Israeli trance group that travels the harsher, more psychedelic side of trance. Many labels have been carelessly applied to their pounding, acidic trance. Psytrance and goa are the ones that have stuck.)
Echo & the Bunnymen – Proxy.mp3
Apparently, the Bunnymen are back together. Despite all my musical expertise, I thought that they had pretty much said the hell with it after 1997’s Evergreen, which would have been the last album of theirs I purchased.
I have since been informed (by MEK and Wiki) that a.) they’ve been releasing albums every four years or so for the past 12 years and b.) the world does NOT revolve around me and my CD purchases. So… good for them!
This track is all kinds of bouncy fun, full of sixties-ish piano and harmonizing. In fact, it’s so great you’ll swear they never missed a beat all these misinformed years.
James – Dr. Hellier.mp3
Speaking of bands that have reformed (or not), here’s James with a timely body-as-world analogy that speaks in metaphors about disease-as-international-tension, which is then completed through the titular Dr. Hellier’s invasion of the body/country via a Fantastic Voyage-esque capsule in an effort to save it/them/everyone from themselves/himself/itself.
Speaking of things we’ve spoken of before, James released an album in 2008, so it could be argued that they’ve been back for at least two years already. Not only that, but this mysterious MEK also recommended this tune and told me (more or less) to hijack his “Fantastic Voyage” description and claim it as my own.