Modern day hardcore bands namedropping Void, Negative Approach and Die Kreuzen automatically throw down the money-where-your-mouth-is gauntlet, so when Austin's Total Abuse does all that and then the singer talks about how he likes to hide behind a wall of power electronics noise and intone to the audience dictator-like, I am skeptical. But with the new weed of HC bands like Fucked Up and Sex Vid (covering the Dead C for heavens sake) the combo of select history lessons in sound vs. conceptual rulebook out the window can't be anything but a kool and welcome cardioshock to the genre. Deranged Records' comp of Total Abuse's LP/7" and demos doesn't quite yield the Black Flag-meets-Whitehouse vibe that's been hinted (I haven't seen them live), but the off-the-rails HC destruction (esp. the smoking demos) has made me a huge fan. They are powerful, fast and noisy as hell and the singer's yowl does me just fine; and calling a track "Banned In Austin" might be funny, but sure doesn't sound like a joke. "Eastern Thoughts" (MP3), "Writing On the Wall" (MP3)
Crazy Dreams Band is the full-on rock outing of Ms. Lexie Mountain, who in the last several years has been the proprietress of one amazing stoned communal public patty-cake session with a rotating cast of ladies she calls her Boys. The CDB's self-titled debut for Holy Mountain finds Ms. Mountain somewhat of an equal leader of a tribe of clamoring sounds instead of free-association voices, and while many people are pointing to Royal Trux as a reference, it all sounds like a less-Euro, mudpit-wallowing Catherine Ribiero fronting a proggier Torch of the Mystics-era Sun City Girls. With someone totally unfraid to put the keyboard settings on "80's". Lexie's croon is magnificent in its melodic setting; there's still a lot of improvisation within the band (which includes Nate from Mouthus/Religious Knives) that allows her to take some flights of fancy, but hearing a much more "composed" element to her singing is a great thing I hope we have some more of in the future. "Separate Ways" (MP3)
Speaking of falling between cracks, two great reissues this year: D.N.E.'s 47 Songs Humans Shouldn't Sing (Room 40) finally digitizes a limited-edition 1988 LP run by Australian visual artist Eugene Carchesio and is a cool assortment of colorful audio miniatures done with basic sax, guitar, and percussion assemblages. Not quite no-wave, not really jazz, it's simply a nice flow of sharp Venusian blues sketches that runs the gamut from heartfelt Derek Bailey plonk to the Microscopic Sextet stumbling down a French Quarter alley chased by Robert Quine. Not many heard this, but hopefully now more will.
"Black" (MP3), "Here" (MP3), "Phenomena" (MP3), "Sun" (MP3).
On the other hand, quite a few people heard the all-instrumental trio Gore in the mid to the late 1980's blasting out of Holland, but not enough people took the rulebook their laid down serious enough. Well, the Melvins did for sure, probably Godflesh too. They slotted themselves firmly alongside European tours of luminaries like the Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, Big Black, even charmed early Swans, and seemed destined for big things. Their Albini-engineered 1989 LP and split with Rollins Band probably netted them the most attention stateside, but the awesome Hart Gore was the slayer and thanks to Southern Lord's new 2LP/2CD reissue (tacking on Mean Man's Dream) you can not only hear how well these guys aged, but how totally ahead of their time they were. Hard-as-tacks percussion over muzzy/mathy Sabbath/St Vitus guitar workouts seem just what might be expected of a lot of the new heavies these days, but so few got it as right as Gore. Tons of bonus material added on, totally essential stuff.
"Out For Blood" (MP3), "After (live)" (MP3)