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MU – Out of Breach (Manchester’s Revenge)

December 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Output Recordings Limited, 2004mu_outofBreach

Hey alright, an angry Japanese girl with a knife.  She’s also wearing the Hamburger Helper mascot as a hat and thinks a sheer, white skirt with polka-dotted leggings are valid accompaniment.  Then there’s the bright pink logo, which causes a conflict.  Is this a fun, quirky pop album or is this a deadly noise effort by a batty songstress?  I was crossing my fingers for the former when I picked this album up for less than a dollar, but you probably already know what it turned out to be.

There is no Japanese pop on this record.  Forget anything cute, either.  MU, otherwise known as Mutsumi Kanamori, is one truly aggressive Japanese chick.  She may have some fun-lovin’ photos throughout the enclosed booklet, showing her in a witch costume or smiling happily in front of a peaceful audience, but every song has a sharp edge. Call it noise, art rock, or a violent stream of consciousness, but “Out of Breach (Manchester’s Revenge)” is a teeth-grating assault.

In the opening track of “Haters”, Kanamori screams and yelps about those who, of course, hate her music.  It’s not hard to imagine who consists of this hater group, since it likely encapsulates most of the listening public.  However, although Kanamori does confess that “Yes, I might have no talent” that does not mean that a woman is not allowed to express herself artistically.  It’s just a rough venture to sit through twelve tracks of “no talent” noise that’s the rub.

The tune “Stop Bothering Michael Jackson” is another shout out to haters, except this is to those who complained about Michael Jackson’s success back around 2004.  No mention of Jackson’s eccentricity or child-based accusations can be found within this six minute epic piece of confusion, for Kanamori is an angry fan.  Kanamori comes across as angry in other places, like on “Tigerbastard” (“I’m holding you by the balls/Every time you restrict my freedom I’ll squeeze this hand tighter”) and “So Weak People” (“I’ll kick hard into your face/Put handcuffs and hold your neck”).  Then there’s “I’m Coming to Get You”, which sums up that album cover nicely, eh?

There are some decent moments here and there, whether it be lyrics or the music (essentially, when she’s not singing the album is tolerable).  On “Throwing Up”, there’s a solid instrumental bit at the end of the song that Boof (aka Maurice Fulton) puts together.  Unfortunately, he’s also responsible for the manic background to Kanamori’s abrasive delivery on each song, so he doesn’t really get a pass.  Kanomori, for her part, reconciles with her heavily drunk self on the tune after reflecting that the toilet is her best friend too often.  There is something to learn here if you can get this far into the record.

If you want to hear the equivalent to a brick to the face, head on over to Kanomori’s MySpace page.  She’s been updating it.

I got a bit of a headache listening to this album by MU, most likely because there was utterly nothing to grab onto.  None of the electronic, thudding beats were cohesive and Kanamori’s vocals were like an ice pick to my ears.  Unless you want to hear what the other side of the J-Pop spectrum sounds like then there is no reason to pick up this album.  The album cover’s curious lure only serves to punish those who approach the lady with eclectic style.  Still smarting from the audio ambush, I gotta throw this one in the Can.

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Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz – Crunk Juice

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

TVT Records, 2005

Sometimes I look at an album that I bought some time ago and think “Why did I buy this?”.  I suppose I had wondered if Lil Jon could actually carry an album.  All I know about him is that he likes to yell out “Yeah!”, “What!”, and “Okay!” on the various songs that he cameos on for other artists.  Perhaps that’s all he says on his own songs, so I could have been terribly curious as to how this would go when I picked this record up.  I also saw one heck of a party on that front cover.  Okay, the East Side Boyz look a little pathetic and the girls, well, they give off the air of being bored.  But look at Lil Jon!  That guy is an animal!  He doesn’t even want to finish his crunk juice as he pours it on the stage (Yeeeeaaayuhh!).  It’s coming back to me now.  I want in on this party.

The “Crunk Juice Intro” claims that this is going to be most incredible experience I’ve ever felt in my life.  I should also sit back, smoke a blunt, and turn the volume way up.  With the terribly echoed vocal effects and stumbling production, I had my doubts of whether or not I should believe the East Side Boyz on this one.  “What U Gon’ Do” starts this self-proclaimed incredible experience with those heavy bass thumps that have to sound great with the car windows open.  As for the lyrical content, ah, I have no idea what is going on.  Apparently if my hos are acting up in a club and I step up to them, they don’t do sh*t.  Yeah!   What!  And if the bitches don’t … oh, you get the idea.  Essentially, make sure the ladies and you are on the same page about your feelings for each other otherwise there could be disillusionment.

“Get Crunk” shows that Lil Jon, who happens to also be the producer for this album, likes to constantly repeat words and lyrics in close proximity.  Whoever the drugged up East Side Boy is that begins the song ends up sounding like he has a stutter thanks to the constant mixing and repeating of his words.  The same thing happens on “White Meat”, which again portrays one of the East Side Boyz as a stuttering spliff-dangling amateur that is neither engaging nor revolutionary.  The only noticeable part of the song is Lil Jon’s bludgeoning delivery on the chorus, which has him railing against his fellow club goers.  It’s no wonder he’s more known for his cameos than his rapping, for his voice is atrociously guttural.  If one wanted to frighten children with a voice that sometimes is manipulated to sound even deeper than it is, thus resembling a certain demon, throw some Lil Jon on.  He’s got that charm.

For the rest of these songs, “Lovers & Friends” attempts to be the slow jam except for that very distracting repetitiveness that Lil Jon keeps doing.  Totally ruins whatever mood was attempted.  I was amused at the practicality of the vocalist when, during his portrayal of a love making session, he offers his girl a pillow to bite.  What a conscientious gentleman!  There’s also “Real N*gga Roll Call” which lays out the rules as to who is real and who isn’t real.  What do people do when they listen to this song and determine that they’re one of the unreal ones?  Where do you go?  I wouldn’t go anywhere near Lil Jon and this East Side Boyz, that’s for sure.  I would leave town.  When Ludacris and R. Kelly show up on “In Da Club”, I’m only mildly disappointed that it isn’t a 50 Cent cover.  Well, there goes any possibility of meager redeeming value for this record.

Lil Jon and his crunkin’ can be found on his website and MySpace, but you probably have better things to listen to anyway.

Alright, honestly, why would anyone listen to this crap?  There are so many better crunk artists, never mind hip hop artists, out there.  And forget the lyrics, there are even better drum ‘n bass artists out there!  Who needs Lil Jon and his hack producing skills?  Those weak beats?  Those annoying East Side Boyz?  This album is garbage and a waste of plastic.  To think that Allmusic.com has labeled this record Lil Jon’s best is just unbelievable.  There is absolutely no reason to go listen to his other records if this one is considered one of his best.  Yeesh.  Oh yeah, this is some serious Golden Trash Can material.  What!

The Lappetites – Before the Libretto

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Quecksilber Music, 2005

This one was a real mystery.  Well, aside from the tongues.  I deduced that there were four members in the band.  I, uh, had no idea what they were going to do, though.  There were no song titles on the back and, aside from a very pink color scheme, I couldn’t tell if this was going to be some kind of pop or rock.  The message on the back declaring that the Lappetites are “a forum, a meeting place, a concept within which to make and exchange new music via digital and sonic linking games …” had me scratching my head.  Okay, electronic music perhaps, but this could have gone anywhere… and it did.

The Lappetites consist of four ladies from various locations who are into electronic editing of music via laptop.  There’s a woman from Germany, another from Japan, as well as one from England and France.  A real nice mix of international backgrounds.  This record, as it turns out, is meant to be a beginning to end sort of artistic piece with visuals, but I had to kind of visualize things myself as I spun it.  Well, here’s my initial reaction ten seconds in:

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  Wh … what is this?!  The first ‘song’ of “Tzungentwist” is just people speaking in what I think is Japanese and repeating some kind of word over and over.  Y’know, using my serious track title analysis skills, I bet they’re tongue twisters.  But no, this is not music.  Then the dooming sound of “My Within” piledrives my senses, mainly because my volume was rather high.  Nonsense yammering continues the song.  Folks, I have stumbled into a dreaded experimental CD.  This is not going to be good.

The title of “Avoiding Shopping” is great, but it’s really just a cacophony of screeching electronic notes that succeed in grating the silence.  Maybe it’s the conversion of my boredom senses when I have to lope around a department store while the wife looks at jewelery.  Hmmm … well, “Disaster” is aptly named as after two minutes of brooding tones it abruptly blips off into near silence with only a rather irritating light noise in its wake.  The tune does end up bringing back the moodiness, though it wasn’t as loud as I thought it was going to be.  Maybe it’s referring to a depressing disaster, like you are sitting on the edge of the bed thinking about what went terribly wrong.  Guys, I’m just trying to work with this right now.

Oh no no no, the chirping sounds on “Kuchen Keiki Cake” give me visions of microphoned mice chewing through paper while staggering backwards at bizarre speeds like in a horror movie.  “Aikokuka” is a vacuum cleaner in space that duets with a maniacal Japanese string instrumentalist.  There’s actually some singing in here too, but it’s the madness-inducing kind.  Gahhh I am hating my life right about now.  I want the CD to end!

“Prologue”, which shows up more than halfway through the album, is merely a pulse that is similar to a dial tone.  Ever listen to a dial tone for more than two minutes?  Uh huh.  Well, shockingly, the nearly eight minute “Funeral” could actually be deemed relaxing.  It’s mostly one long tone that has various levels of warmth which eventually degrades into a foreboding and deep depression.  I can’t believe it, I actually find a tune that is decent!  Of course, the Lappetites finish off the record with this sort of rave on track “Overture” that absolutely kills whatever zen was found from “Funeral”.  It sort of reignited my headache from this morning.  But hey … I made it.  I … finished … listening to the album.  Goodbye, Lappetites.

If you want your ears to go numb, give the Lappetites a listen by watching their video or listening to a few tunes on Last.fm.  Or, perhaps, you want to provoke a hostage taker to give up the hostage.  Maybe you want the North Koreans to suffer across the Demilitarized Zone.  Maybe you could use this to shoot up into space and scare off any aliens that are thinking of invading.  In that case, give the group a listen to see if you can use their music as a sonic weapon.

Okay, I should probably put a disclaimer on my blog stating that I am not likely to ‘get’ or enjoy experimental music.  Therefore, the Bust label is probably a given whenever I find one of these meandering records.  I would like to say I’m open minded but I just have never caught onto this kind of music, so perhaps I just need to find that wildly eclectic artist to help me catch on.  Zappa?  Zorn?  Jandek?  No idea.  If anyone wants to send a thought along to get me started please do.  As for the Lappetites, the ladies are still putting out music and hosting shows as of 2009.  Go check them out if you want an experience.  I, however, must send this frightening electronic and experimental doozy to the Golden Trash Can.

Xiu Xiu – Life and Live

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Xeng Records, 2005

Well, where to start.  I will tell you that I have owned this album twice, but I will relate the story of how I picked it up the first time.  If you’ve read enough of the blog beforehand, I tend to pick up music that is on the loud side of the musical spectrum.  To shake things up, I sometimes go for colorful indie pop or solo artist releases.  However, in this case I wanted to pick up a random album from a band that I had heard of in passing as being a somewhat well regarded indie artist.  I didn’t know much about the group but thought that they chose a nice picture for the cover.  There it is, that’s what I went on.  Xiu flippin’ Xiu.

This has to be one of the most sparse, depressing, and agitating albums I’ve ever listened to.  It’s a recording of live Xiu Xiu (pronounced shoe-shoe) songs that mostly consist of a plucked guitar and brooding vocals.  I guess there are a few members in the band, but it sounds as if it’s just Jamie Stewart singing and the rest of them are just standing around looking morose.  It doesn’t sound like he needs any help in bringing the tears.

Since I’m not in the mood right now to listen to this music to such depth so that its crippling sadness could overtake me, I’ll keep it brief.  The track that epitomizes the album is “King Earth, King Earth”.  Stewart sings, which is really just him quivering bits and pieces before hiding for a few moments.  The instrumentation sounds like either a keyboard or a very shaky accordion.  Doing a little research, the lyrics “the dead bury their own dead” and “angel wear your ‘pray hard’ shirt” stand out a little bit.  This song goes on for nearly six minutes.  Folks, this is agony.

Other songs that raise an eyebrow are “Thanks Japan!”, which sounds like one of the band members left a recorder on while walking through a Japanese airport.  “Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl” contains some yelping by Stewart.  Actually, there’s also a part where it sounds like he’s being strangled but the strangler gets interrupted. He or she must have sensed that my eyes were hurting from rolling so much and attacked.  I do not condone violence, strangler dude … but yeah, it was getting annoying.  “Jennifer Lopez” does have an introduction that sounds like the Doctor Who theme, which is kinda cool.  Oh enough of this!

You wanna listen to Xiu Xiu?  Fine.  YOU listen.  Maybe reading is more your thing.

On “I Broke Up” someone actually tells Stewart to sing slower.  That adviser should be slapped.  To think that I’ve actually owned this album twice in my travels makes me feel a little sad in of itself.  Truth is, I’ve been able to trade this album to someone else who was interested.  Someone wanted to hear Xiu Xiu.  Whew … I gotta say they can’t be all that fun at parties.  Though I have tried a few times to get caught up with some of the more name acts in the modern indie world, this group I want no further part of.  In a slow arc filled with irony and self-resentment, I shoot Xiu Xiu into the Golden Trash Can of woe.

NYCO – Two

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Self-released, 2005

The picture on the cover of this record is the mental image I construct about an hour or so before I leave work everyday.  Oh man, if I could juuuust leap into bed like this guy … looks divine.  Turning the album over, I noticed they were unsigned.  Not to typecast self-supporting bands, but since no label is attached to the group then one can’t easily pinpoint what they’re going to sound like based on a label’s genre track record.  Most labels do diversify their talent these days, but one can usually guess seven times out of ten why a band got signed to the label given their sound. Without that, one can feebly make a guess that NYCO makes floaty music … whatever that means.  It was worth a pick up just to find out what they were about.

Clashing symbols and stretched out guitar notes, coupled with Ted Atkatz’s nasally, emotionally-tinged vocals, make NYCO a particularly difficult listen.  Despite the pop affectations and light tone, everything sounds extremely plain.  Nothing is catchy, nothing latches on as a repeat spin.  You may be thinking, woah, HEY, aren’t you being a little harsh?  Perhaps, but that’s only because I generally find something likable in most records.  This one has minimal redeeming value, especially since it’s a pacified version of much of what has come before.  The truth is that NYCO is an even more watered down version of John Mayer.

I do not wish to pick apart every song on this album, for if I have to dig deeper into these tunes I am going to lose it from an excessive gag reflex.  “Cash For Time” probably typifies most tracks on this boatload of foulness.  Despite the hint of bass funkiness it still provides zero edge, and Atkatz’s breathy vocals just bring one down since there is no force behind them.  With a dull chorus and even duller verse, “Cash For Time” feels like a much longer song than its nearly three-and-a-half minute official length.  If you even get to this song after the travesty of the first four on the album, you will still not be impressed.

The only song that remotely caught my attention was “Soda Can”, and that was because Atkatz opted to go playfully falsetto during most of the song.  He actually sounds listenable here!  If Atkatz learned anything from this record it is that he should have outright given up on the sensitive singing bit and just stuck with light-hearted amusement.  NYCO has put out other records, but I just can’t be bothered to hear if Atkatz figured that out himself.  I bet they’re still a watered down version of John Mayer.

I am telling you that this is incredibly unimpressive, but if you don’t trust my aluminum-plated words then head on over to the NYCO website or MySpace and hear for yourself.

I’ve said all I’ve really needed to say, but in case it didn’t click yet I was not a big fan of this album.  I was more of a fan of the album cover, which as I’ve spoken of in the past is usually a poor indicator of album excellence.  This record definitely should’ve levitated out my window, but if it did then I wouldn’t have been able to warn you away from it.  Therefore, in the line of music reviewin’ duty, I took this on the chin for you guys.  NYCO is still making some rounds and will actually play at the South By Southwest Music Festival in March 2011, so it’s impressive that they’re getting some exposure five years after this record.  I’m not sure if they would be given much of a chance by the SXSW committee in 2005, though.  Into the Can you go, NYCO.

The Fibonaccis – Repressed: The Best of the Fibonaccis 1981-1987

November 6, 2009 2 comments

Restless Records, 1992fibonaccis

Regardless of the fact that the cover had a rather strange lineup of figures, I thought this record was worth a spin because it was the best of a band’s output.  Unless it’s Bob Dylan’s first compilation or a collection by a classic rock band you’d rather society forgot (like Styx or REO), rarely do you find a best of collection by any band in the dollar bin.  I had never heard of these guys before and, since they were together for at least six years, I thought I had missed out on something.  Twenty-six tracks screamed for me to get a real good dose of Fibonaccis.  It also helped that they named themselves after the mathematician, which only scores extra points with me.

But oh, these guys are tricksters.  You see, they had only put out an album and a ‘mini-album’ according to their liner notes.  Many of the tracks on this collection are from random singles and unreleased tracks, so if there isn’t an official minimum of releases that define a ‘Best Of’ compilation there really should be. It would have saved me some misery and a few cents, that’s for sure.

Despite the fact that these guys were around in the early 80’s L.A. punk scene they sound nothing like those thrash and venom bands.  They’re more artsy and experimental with spoken word, unfortunate singing, mellotron and keyboards.  This is fine for certain audiences, but it takes six tracks before something remotely ‘best’ arrives in the deep bass riffs of “Anti-Oedipus” and the charming “Sergio Leone”.  This short oasis of interest dies off with the rather irritating vocals of Magie Song on “Lisbon”, which vary between squeaky and recited by a soccer mom.  Even the cover of the “Psycho” theme comes off as kitschy with its piano work, which sounds as if it was conducted for a school play version.  Cutesy keyboards and quirky tempos don’t help improve things in later recordings, and even inclusions of mortecellos and mandelins don’t save this collection from this author’s steaming thumbs down.

Their music can be found at their MySpace page which is not for the epileptic:  The Fibonaccis

Truth is, this stuff should’ve stayed out of my ears.  Most of the material on this record is barely listenable and, as one can imagine from something from the eighties, quite dated.  Perhaps I should have been there during the scene to appreciate these guys more, or maybe I just don’t get it.  I don’t care, I’m throwing this one in the Can.  I’m also unofficially renaming the album to “Unimpressed: The Awfulness of the Fibonaccis”.  Feh.

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The Coachwhips – Peanut Butter & Jelly: Live at the Ginger Minge

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Narnack Records, 2005coachwhips

Oh man, was this a mess.  Even though the album isn’t actually live and doesn’t take place at a spot called the Ginger Minge, the cover looks excellent.  Something about black and white covers with a lot of detail tends to look attractive, at least to me.  This is why I picked this record up, along with the fact that I liked the band name and was curious how a song called “Oops. Uh. Uh” sounded like.  Well, that song, as well as the rest of them, sounded like a lot of noise.

Here is the premise of a Coachwhips song: straight-forward, quick 1-2 rapping of the drums, drowned by a constant guitar riff, with a vocalist who sounds like he’s singing through a CB radio.  Include some ineffective keyboard notes and make sure you’re usually done under two minutes.  There, that’s the gist of the record.  Now some may find this chaotic music rather fun and good for a thrashabout in one’s room (or at an actual live show).  However, I didn’t really find this to be too listenable after a few songs since they mostly sound the same in quick succession.  If you want a preview of how this record generally sounds, check out their MySpace page.

Coachwhips on MySpace

These guys are no longer together though I imagine they’ve continued to bludgeon people’s ears in other bands. Regardless of what they’re doing now, this record deserves a Golden Trash Can because it’s truly awful.
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