“Elastic Dance”, from 1981’s My Life In A Hole In The Ground, is On-U Sound Records’ greatest breakout moment. If You Want Bass, You Got It!
While New Age Steppers, Singers & Players, Creation Rebel, and several other pioneers on Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label were worthy extensions of dub music, My Life In A Hole In The Ground beamed down from outer space. I really hope Sun Ra got to listen to this record.
You seem to like The Fall. I haven't really ever heard them. I've seen people compare Pavement to The Fall. Everyone knows Pavement is the greatest band of the 90s, so The Fall must be good. Would you please recommend an album or two to start with with The Fall?
I started on the compilation 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong, but mostly just disc one which takes you up to the mid 80’s. The band’s golden age is basically from 1980 to 1988, so the 458489 A Sides comp from 1990 is also a good place to start.
The first album I really liked was 1985’s This Nation’s Saving Grace, but my favorites are 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour and 1983’s Perverted by Language. 1980’s Grotesque and 2004’s Real New Fall LP also have their supporters.
Also, those Pavement comparisons are ludicrous. The closest they get to the Fall are “Two States” and you know, their cover of “The Classical”.
Krautrock met punk in Pere Ubu. Garage band attitude and wild experimentalism made the band’s debut album The Modern Dance an influential early post-punk record, even if very few people bought it. David Thomas’ lyrics are sometimes difficult to understand, as in the song posted above, but it doesn’t matter. The band’s intensity and creativity carry even the most discordant moments.
This song from 1979 is one of the more substantial cuts from the most recent ZE Records compilation, ZE 30: ZE Records Story 1979-2009. I first heard this in the MCAChicago store, and have quietly been obsessing over it ever since. It’s very ZE and yet still recognizable, which I appreciate as a person that is generally not a fan of covers and most remixes.
Nobody stays in high school forever, but Meat Is Murder has a way of gaining layers and subtleties as you move onto college and beyond. Unlike some “teen” albums, it still sounds good after you’ve grownup. With that in mind, the record turns 25 this Valentine’s Day. It’s been around a long time, soothing any number of misfits, so we asked some of our favorite musicians about their own experiences with the record.
Recording engineer and producer Iain Burgess, a native of Weymouth, England, died yesterday in France. According to his close friend and disciple Steve Albini, Burgess died from a pulmonary embolism, a complication of the pancreatic and liver cancers he’d recently been diagnosed with.
In 1993 Burgess opened his own studio, Black Box, in La Dionnaie, France, located in the countryside of the Anjou region, but he’s best known in Chicago for the work he did in the late 80s as a control-room accomplice to postpunk bands like Naked Raygun, Big Black, and the Effigies. His aesthetic—walloping, aggressive, heavy on room sound—helped put the local underground scene on the international map. He continued to make sonically bold records at Black Box, including albums by Shellac, Nina Nastasia, and Uzeda. Condolences go out to his family and friends.
This is the worst vacation ever! I am going to cut open your forehead with a roofing shingle!—that minor tantrum from “I Broke Up” is probably Xiu Xiu’s most famous line. Indeed, the lyric gets to the core of the group’s confrontational, self-obsessed music. Xiu Xiu tries their damnedest to be weird, shocking, victimized, worthless, revolting, etc.—which often works when they have a bunch of noise and electronics to drown out the screaming. But you already know this and we don’t listen to Xiu Xiu much for this reason.
Anyway, here’s Xiu Xiu murdering the New Order classic, and I’m quite fond of it. The band put out a song called “Ian Curtis Wishlist”, so I get the sense that this cover is as hostile as it is sincere. Thus, where Joy Division robotically confined themselves to musical rigidity and emotional restraint, Xiu Xiu blows up the song, cramming as much dissonance and malfunction as possible. In a way, this is the flipside of the kind of disorder that JD obsessed over: “she’s lost control” becomes “let’s lose control”—or something. It’s tempting to psychologize this take on the song—how fucking emo and Generation Y of them! Personally, I’m left struggling with the paradox of the group: If screaming is your way of showing that you are sincere and have something to say, then why do you scream all the time?
Ralf und Florian is such a fascinating transitional album to listen to, in that it so distinctly serves as a bridge between the heterodox experiments of Kraftwerk’s first two self-titled albums and the grand mechanical vision of Autobahn they would unveil a year later. It still has aggressively weird songs like the jittery “Elektrisches Roulette” or the flanged flute meditation “Tongebirge,” but it also lays the groundwork for future synth-propulsive constructions with “Tanzmusik.” The track takes obvious inspiration from Kraftwerk’s cultural contemporary Steve Reich, building an increasingly interwoven composition of swirling and repetitive musical phrases over a simplistic preset drum machine rhythm. It’s interesting to hear what instruments Hutter and Schneider were still using back in 1973: bells, chimes, real human hand claps, and even some of their first recorded use studio processed (and still terribly off-key) backing vocals. Electronic music has made huge strides since then, but something about listening to these early explorations of the boundary between acoustic and electronic in pop music still sounds fresh and revelatory today.
Recall that 1966 was only a decade removed from rock and roll’s breakthrough and more importantly that only two years had passed since those innocent mop-topped kids from England invaded American airwaves. Rock and roll still seemed safe enough.
Then, mostly out of the blue came a song - recorded in April of 1966 - that faced a hardcore drug head on. The media frenzy surrounding “Heroin” didn’t start until after The Velvet Underground and Nico was released almost a full year later. However, while other songs released before March of ‘67 had suggested drug use to some ears (The Byrds’ 1966 single “Eight Miles High” being the most cited example), nothing heard previously in the rock idiom conveyed the actual experience of taking a drug like “Heroin” did. The song’s dynamics rise and fall to fit the detailed lyrics of injection, the rush of the high, and the painful comedown. Moreover, using free jazz as its inspiration, “Heroin” lacks a consistent tempo, relying entirely on the musicians abilities to follow each other.
The verses in “Terms of Psychic Warfare” feel like a cousin to “Wild Thing” or other similar 1960s garage rock songs. It has the same kind of repetitive riff and even Grant Hart’s vocal cadence reminds me of the extended pauses between lines. That being said, “Terms of Psychic Warfare” is the distorted, slightly twisted take on garage rock, pushing the tinny guitars to the front of the mix and sticking Hart’s somewhat mumbled lyrics further back into the mix. Ultimately, these cousins share the same loose garage-rock feel and lo-fi production aesthetics.
Of course, “Terms of Psychic Warfare” isn’t, to echo one of 2009’s recurring debate, great because it’s lo-fi; it’s a great song that transcends its production limits. Even with Hüsker Dü’s standard production budget, the coarseness doesn’t preclude ability both as performers and as arrangers. Bob Mould’s feedback-heavy guitar contrasts Greg Norton’s carefully plucked bass line, giving the song its strange pseudo-Spectarian wall of feedback beneath Hart’s rantings. There are even harmony vocals deep in the mix, eeking out just enough to hint at their presence after several listens. The song’s deceptiveness masks its assets beneath the treble-laden surface yet gives it enough charm to make it interesting many listens later. Whether it’s embellishing on the garage rock form or funneling an entire lifetime of listening through the sound available to them, Hüsker Dü’s songs like “Terms of Psychic Warfare” warrant a reputation that expands beyond simple shredding.
"Not Moving" is, of course, a terrific piece of no wave from the famed No New York compilation, but I’m mostly posting the song because iTunes’ “download album artwork” feature failed its purpose to great effect.
After reforming In 1985, the group increased their use of electronic musical instruments, eventually leading to the self-firing of drummer Robert Gotobed in 1990 (and thus prompting the band to drop one letter from their name to become Wir). The band released their fifth album A Bell Is a Cup…Until It Is Struck on Mute in 1988, based on live recordings, heavily re-arranged, edited and remixed in the studio. “Eardrum Buzz” was one of the few new songs on the album and became the band’s biggest charting single.