Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Life Partner - "Dead Wrestlers"

We're stuck in muck. Muck that is slowed down by a non-going Winter. It's eating us all. We're queached in a dumb Winter that has quarantined us in a quicksand pit. Trying to lift our legs and relieve ourselves. But we're stuck in this.  Nothing but wintry discharge. Fucking stupid. Held back.

In this Winter bullshit, the "Dead Wrestlers" tape is a fucking godsend. Like, no, really: GODsend. Like there is a GOD, and everything you thought was bullshit was actually real and the Steve Martin joke about how everything you thought was bullshit that I just repeated was real, and there was a Heaven and Angels and that bullshit was real, and you were handed a cassette from this bearded muscular man from a cloud in an linstock hand firing fucking music at you from beyond reality.

I saw Life Partner something like a year ago at the Chestnut House.That place has died. Life Partner lives. LIVES. And he/it/they still LIVE in the muck, making tuned-down beast-clomp-tempo observations that amount to simple truisms that make a stuck Winter possible to survive. I think he's somewhere still in Chicago-via-Louisville. Doesn't matter. This is mayo for the soul. It's quid for the consciousness, dripping putridly on your fly at 3AM.

This tape is actually more upbeatish than that last one I procured, "Dogs." This one finds the guitars and drums turned up more. Faster tempos. We're still succumbing to Aaron Osbourne's qualmy life view, but it's a life view I subscribe to. These are visions that happen when you don't believe what you see, hear and especially what you do on a daily basis. And you don't care. It's a garage-punk-grunge-rock-fuk all that communicates some sewn honesty.

"Dead Wrestlers" is in direct lineage to "Dogs," but finds it finding more of its own findings, and not fighting it. Bigger. Actually, my main compliment is that there are more songs here to enjoy from Osbourne. His songwriting is to the point; lyrics don't fuck around. Straight to the stab. Doesn't make chopsticks in getting to the coffin. Quaalude vox over downstrummed distortion. Depressocore? No. I find solace jammed in this heavyhanded heartedness. Let's invent new genres. Gloomrock. Bummergazer. Shut up, me. Stupid Kids. That's me. Don't listen to me.

And is the song "Life Champion" referencing Sophomore Lounge mates Giving Up and State Champion? Am I scouring too much into this? That song has the optimism I look for with Aaron: "I'm giving up, your god is dead."

Osbourne writes some goddamned catchy choruses here while addressing the foothills of regular shit that happens in regular life, and it's what I appreciate about his songwriting. I mean, Jesus, "Live for the Day": It's honest and "you have no plans for the future, you're a loser, that's how it is."

So highly recommended. Or lowly recommended. But, really.

Available on Sophomore Lounge and at Astro Black Records.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Plastic Melodies - "PM"

The dishes are not done. Lunch is not made. I get distracted by certain by things in my queue, including this minimalistically-packaged debut from Plastic Melodies, a recently migrated Louisville two-piece that is part of a new bunch of bands that are chopping quickly into the meat of experimental music in this town.

I believe these two are from Bowling Green, but don't quote me. It was whispered in my ear through the spread of talk when I witnessed them for the first time perform at the Rudyard Kipling opening for local crud-punk band Opposable Thumbs back in 2012.

I have an immediate interest in a two-piece; the chemistry that has to exist between the two musicians and the work they need to pull off to fill spaces often punctured and colored by multiple members can be a pressing and magnetic dynamic. Plastic Melodies takes this chore to heart and ups the ante by instead of harkening to the norm of a guitar-drum duo, choosing to confront the chaos with a bass and drum instrumentation. And the spaces are filled fully.

David Lucas slaps, pulls and strums his bass guitar until it turns into a different animal entirely at times. There are nasty distortions and clean pops that encircle each other through his expert use of effects, making the instrument sound like two guitars instead of one, gripping rhythms and leading the songs simultaneously. It's pretty magnificent to watch and hear. His tones double on each other, pounding a hellish punk into the strings. Meanwhile he shrieks and sings, sometimes as though from a tome written by Frank Black, pursing through the creep these songs file into your spine with a throb that is is energetic and driving.

The beat is bound together by Bridget Knight, whom I believe actually has four arms, limbing them around the percussion in an aggressive pound that marries the bass and cracks through the songs, bleeding onto the streets outside the club, quavering the room. These are big drums, and Bridget plies, wheels and rolls around them, blanketing the elbowroom of the music with a heavy quash.

"PM" runs like two bunkies driving a bull-train through any expectations. The album moves quick, each song running under three minutes. It's a loud, fast trail drive that never delivers less than punches. A heavy, Mephistophelean rock record that reads quick and perfect. 

It's heartening to see Louisville being held up by the happening of young bands like Plastic Melodies and The Debauchees. It means only good things are still to come and we are in no danger of things slacking here.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Raw Thug - "Black Walmart"

We were knee-deep in bug juice, building smokes, waiting for the train. The cardboard box castle that surrounded us had collapsed. Desperate and cold, I drove a bull prick into the dried calabash we had been worshiping this whole time, hoping the dust would levee our boredom. Then a hand reached out, grabbed my elbow and dragged us through the forest to the house. We drank in quantities and someone yanked the tape player from the broomshed. The moon was hot and bright. My four teeth were on the edge.

From a red paper sack scrawled with the yellow words "Raw Thug Black Walmart," a carefully rolled pair of white tube socks were produced. The oven was kept on bake and the door was open to heat the house. From the carefully rolled pair of white tube socks a cassette was produced. With a sneeze, Mephistopheles pressed PLAY. I wiped my brow off with a shredded roll of toilet paper, stared at a 1960s map of the Atlantic Ocean Floor, and cupped my hands to my ears. A smiling clown was boiling something that smelled of brussel sprouts.

A howl sang from the distance in the woods, whistling on the wind that carried it to us. Ribbits of another instrument crept slowly in, controlling the time. There was this ghostly wail, a saxophone. Eventually the backyard was singing with reversed screaming as a maddening percussive light made everything into a pale swirl of aural characters, most of which I could not identify. Things got quaggy real fast.

Within a breeze at least four to seven miles an hour, a mad Satanic dance erupted that culminated with the chant of an insane electronic owl. Mephistopheles stopped Side One, flipped the copper tape, played Side Two. Wailing horns caught like an animal in orgasm played on in a shifted flash of pinned jazz, casting its bombardment afar. The sounds became a quantic broadcloth that saved us from the ensuing eruptions from the woods. I haven't recovered, yet. 

This is Arsenio Zignoto's world; we just try to live in it.

Released by Loin Seepage.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Half-Cocked: A Memorial Screening; Thoughts on Jon Cook and Jason Noble

The Louisville Film Society screened two showings of the indie cult film “Half-Cocked” at its Dreamland Theater as part of several memorials that are scheduled to celebrate the life of Louisville musician Jon Cook, who passed away on February 9. Cook’s death, along with the passing of Jason Noble in August 2012, have bereaved this city’s local scene of two musicians that provided an immeasurable amount of influence, support, creativity and wonderful sound over the years. 

Both Cook and Noble are among the main characters of “Half-Cocked,” which also features Tara Jane O’Neil, Cynthia Nelson and Jeff Mueller. The film, directed by Suki Hawley and co-written with Michael Galinsky, centers around the lives of these five young people as they struggle to live in Louisville during the early 1990s, crashing at the Rocket House, a real place that has garnered a real legendary status as a music house owned by Cook. Driven by frustration, O’Neil steals her brother’s van and takes the ensemble on a road trip to Tennessee. During the travels they attempt to make money by acting as a band, playing shows with improvised music, fighting poverty and eventually becoming that band, which is basically Rodan.

O’Neil narrates the movie, which supplies black and white imagery of Louisville as a backdrop to the alienation and loneliness that can drive people bonded in their early 20s by shared desires, but who often find themselves wrestling with which directions to direct their talents, hopes, and ideas. It’s a love song for anyone who has ever been cemented by music and art in a “scene,” whatever that might mean, trying to find something in common with the city and society surrounding them. The fact that the cast is composed of actual musicians from the 1990s Louisville music scene who are, in my mind, iconic at this point, makes “Half-Cocked” that much more special. Each member of this cast contributed droves to the music that has come from the River City the past two decades.

I’ve seen “Half-Cocked” once before this showing, but knowing the people involved in the film now makes me view it as though I’m seeing it for the first time. Both Jon and Jason, through the bands Crain and Rodan and other countless endeavors, added not just music to this town, but helped push and direct sound into new directions, and brought just as much personality to the arts scene in Louisville as songs. With them both featured so prominently in this film, and musical contributions aside, seeing them interact, knee-to-knee in one scene, discussing money made from t-shirt sales and door money, you notice their personalities transferred onscreen.  Jon’s frenetic, staring energy meeting Jason’s gawky, supreme kindness.

“Half-Cocked” makes a viewer appreciate the friends you make in your youth, and makes you appreciate those friendships that eventually grow older and eventually exit. Being involved in a tumultuous time period crashing on couches because you don’t know where else to go might be lost on some people. But a lot of those friendships that are founded in those uncomfortable spaces hold true for decades, weathering through all the boring social battles and clique clich├ęs. It takes certain people to immerse in this lifestyle. A line from the film, “there’s something that makes you want to do this,” caught me. 

I’m not writing this as a friend of Jon Cook or Jason Noble, which is unfortunate. I’m writing this as a fan of Cook’s music, and Noble’s music. I never got to know them well. But making music in Lexington during this time period, listening to them for 20 years, always feeling connections to the musicians from my hometown, and getting to know many of their friends upon returning to Louisville; I feel that loss heavily. This was a special showing for LFS to undertake and I appreciated it. 

This article can also be read at getoutlouisville.com