Thursday, March 29, 2012

Local SPOTLIGHT: The Fuck Knights

Ready or not, meet The Fuck Knights.  This is the type of band that you can almost sense smoldering deep within the scene, and when you finally encounter the musical trainwreck first hand, their filthy, loose cannon take on garage rock leaves you unable to look away.  GD Mills leads the charge as the singer and unconventional drummer (he plays standing up on a three piece kit), and his spazzy, paranoid vocals mesh perfectly with the manic instrumentation.  As a whole, it hits you as the aural equivalent of a mental breakdown, in the most cathartic way possible.  As you have probably figured, this is not a band that will wow you with production quality, catchy singles, or musical virtuosity.  What they will wow you with is the recklessness with which they plow through their repertoire with complete disregard for the aforementioned "qualities".  Simply put, this is down and dirty blues rock, wherein the beauty lies in the pure rawness of it- the way it was meant to be.  Perhaps the irony therefore lies in the way that they lull you into a sense of deranged comfort, only to jar you once again when songs like Knight Terrors and Abrasions take detours from the simplicity and erupt into complete psychedelic chaos. 

The story of The Fuck Knights reads almost as the stuff of legend.  It begins with drummer/vocalist GD Mills being kicked out of art school for 'destruction of school property', which led to him jamming with fellow hellions Joe Holland, Benjamin Sommers-Bachman, and David Steffens.  The Knights officially formed on August 1, 2007.  Perhaps the universe recoiled at the monster it had created, for the I-35 bridge in downtown Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River that very same day.  

Shortly thereafter they put out the two-part FuKn Live! recordings, and continued their assault with a series of 7"s and Split EPs (a special mention is required for my personal favorite of them- The Recorded By Gary Burger From The Monks EP, put out by Crustacean Records of my hometown Madison, WI).  These were eventually compiled into their debut LP Let it Bleed, released on Boss Hoss Records.  While Let it Bleed certainly provides a great overview of the band, there is no doubt that their true spirit lies in their catalog of EPs and blaring live collections.  

After the bridge "coincidence"(?) one can't help but wonder what we're in store for this April, with the band taking residency of the Triple Rock every Monday night of the month (complete with Old Style and a whiskey for $5).  And oh yeah, they will be joined by Japanther on the 16th and Gay Witch Abortion on the 30th, as well as many other guests throughout the month.  Time to buckle your seatbelts folks, there's no turning back now.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

The White Wires

Sometimes, that which may seem stale and boring in theory winds up being a pleasant breath of fresh air in practice.  Such is the case with The White Wires.  The 'Wires are an Ottawa-based garage rock trio who specialize in bouncy summer tunes straight out of 60s AM radio, with a healthy dose of garagey energy and recklessness.  Equal parts Cheap Trick and The Beach Boys, the band seems tailor-made to provide the soundtrack for your next pool party, sock hop, or anything else that demands a little bit of retro-minded fun.  Three-minute songs are almost unheard of for The White Wires; they need just enough time to bounce their way through a handful of well-crafted hooks and a little bit of self-aware snarkiness.  They came onto the scene in 2008 with a self-titled debut on Douchemaster Records, and in 2010 released the even better sophomore effort WWII on Dirtnap.

Like 'em
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Friday, March 23, 2012

Local SPOTLIGHT: The Slow Death

The "weekend" (as they call it) is here, which means it's back to work for those of us with less than desirable "jobs" (as they call them).  In other words, it is time to dive into some burnt out, broken down, boozed up punk rock, Minneapolis style.  The perfect guys for the job are punk rock "supergroup" The Slow Death.  The band is made up of punk veterans, led by bassist/vocalist (and Twin Cities mainstay) Jesse Thorson (of Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels).  Also in the lineup are Mikey Erg (The Ergs!, seemingly every other good pop-punk band), Dave Strait (also of PBT and the F'n A's), and Johnny C (The Rest of Us).  They took it even further last year with the addition of Zack Gontard (Dear Landlord) and Annie Sparrows (Soviettes) for their debut full-length Born Ugly Got Worse.  

Simply put, this is a country tinged, punk fueled bar band.  They are unquestionable masters of songs that would be depressing if they didn't revel in their own lack of giving a shit.  These are songs for those times when you know full well that things are fucked, but your buddies Jim and Jack have left you with no choice but to cut your losses and have a helluva time doing so.  The "drunk punk" thing is not exactly a groundbreaking formula, but nobody's pretending that it is.  Their songs, all with a rollicking beat, country leads, and shout-along lyrics, tend to blend into one another, which could be a problem if they didn't kick so much ass.  

The Slow Death emerged around this time last year with a brilliant 7" collaboration with local comic artist Mitch Clem* (the mastermind behind punk webcomics Nothing Nice to Say and My Stupid Life).  The 7" features five short bursts of alcohol-fueled fury, in addition to a trio of fittingly self-deprecating stories (in comic form, of course) from Clem.  They have since went on to release their debut LP Born Ugly Got Worse on Kiss of Death Records.  

The Slow Death keeps up a rigorous tour schedule, but takes advantage of every opportunity to play in the Twin Cites.  Catch them this Sunday (3/25) at the Triple Rock and/or Saturday 3/31 at the Turf Club.  

Stream the full Turnstile Comix 7" HERE

*I am a big fan of Mitch Clem's, so keep a lookout for a future Spotlight on him.  In the meantime take a look at his website HERE.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Movie Review: Rock 'N' Roll High School (1979)

Yes, that says "Movie Review", and no, this is not a movie-oriented blog.  However, I do feel that there is a significant overlap in art mediums, and feel it important to introduce that concept early on.  …Or maybe I just felt like writing about this outrageous drive-in style flick that has more than a little to do with the greatest band to ever exist- The Ramones.  Okay, that may be slightly hyperbolic (maybe), but is a fitting introduction to a film that absolutely revels in its corndog B-movie status, and as a result manages to get away with plenty of over-the-top silliness.  Rock 'N' Roll High School stars P.J. Soles (better known as the "See anything you like?" girl from the original Halloween, as a fanatical Ramones fan and de-facto leader of Vince Lombardi High School, which despite the administration's best efforts, revolves around the students' youthful love of rock music.  When everybody's favorite mop-haired punk rock "brothers" come to town a lot of hijinks ensue, culminating with a predictable yet satisfyingly explosive ending.  

Record Review: King Tuff - Was Dead

Every time I blink my eyes the Uptown grass seems to get greener, and the quick approach of summer has motivated me to write about one of my favorite albums for the season: King Tuff's Was Dead (released in 2008, TeePee Records).  King Tuff is Kyle Thomas, from Brattleboro, Vermont.  He is recognized by some as member of the folk band Feathers and J Mascis' project 'Witch'.  He recently decided to make a fuzzy, freaked-out album by himself, under the name King Tuff.  This, of course, is the result.  As much as summer itself, what this album represents to me is the cross pollination between punk and power pop, in the incubator that is modern indie/garage music.  It is certainly not new territory to be explored these days, but I have not heard a more authentic, refined version of it than what is on display on Was Dead.  The melodies and progressions are instantly reminiscent of the 60s rock explosion, but the context they are placed in, equal parts fuzzy garage recklessness and fuzzy psychedelic weirdness, thrust the whole thing too far "out there" for it to be anything but modern.  The production is sparse and tinny.  The guitars are clean, but certainly fuzzy.  The vocals crack and clip.  Everything is drenched in reverb.  The overall commitment to a specific vibe is admirable, and with perfect execution it makes this album nothing short of an experience in weightlessness.

Thomas has since been involved with another project called Happy Birthday, and later this year will make a re-appearance as King Tuff with a self titled album on Sub Pop Records.  

Check it Out

*Shout out to he who shall be known as Shock_Troop, who brought this album to my attention.  - Check out his blog here

Friday, March 16, 2012

My 100(ish) Favorite Albums

This is something that I have been working on for quite some time now, and since I'm not sure what I want to write about here first I figured it would be a good way to get the ball rolling.  I'm sure I will wind up posting in more detail about several of these albums somewhere down the line, but for now click the link to see the complete list, complete with mini-reviews and pretty pictures!

1. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street (1972)
2. My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)
3. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound (2008)
4. Spiritualized - Pure Phase (1995)
5. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
6. Ramones - Rocket to Russia (1977)
7. Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps
8. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs (1985)
9. Television - Marquee Moon (1977)
10. The Stooges - Raw Power (1973)
11. The Replacements - Let it Be (1984)
12. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation (1988)
13. Neil Young - Ragged Glory (1990)
14. Dinosaur Jr - You're Living All Over Me (1987)
15. Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)
16. Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (1997)
17. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)
18. The Replacements - Tim (1985)
19. Social Distortion - Sex, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll (2004)
20. The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or Swim (2007)
21. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor (2010)
22. Butthole Surfers - Locust Abortion Technician (1987)
23. Pixies - Doolittle (1989)
24. Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (1989)
25. Ramones - Ramones (1976)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Front Page

As you may have guessed, I am starting this blog because I love music; and as a human being I spend a lot of time thinking about what I love.  I figure that I spend enough time developing my ideas and thoughts on all things music that I might as well create an outlet for them, just in case someone else finds something I say interesting at some point.  This will be that outlet.  It is my hope for this to eventually become a thriving community with a network of active participants, but I will still have fun if I'm just talking to myself.  We'll see what happens.

Above all, I would like this blog to be dedicated to the past, present, and future of the Twin Cities music community, and all of the things that make it work.  I do not plan on necessarily limiting the content to local affairs, but there will naturally be an emphasis on local music, record/gear shops, venues, studios, and performances.

Thank you for stopping by, and keep your eye out for the great literary offerings to come (...or not)
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