When not sharing guitar duties in Home Blitz or making some industrial grind with York Factory Complaint, New York's Theresa Smith relegates some soundmaking to a project called Lemon Dots, and the new 7" (Labor of Love imprint) is a lygergic yet dainty slab of song-age. She describes as thus: "Lemon Dots is hyperactive '60s girl-pop flailing in an undertow of magnetic hisses, squalls and squeals. Imagine The Maroons' "Out Tonight" clinging to an electric fence while being flayed by an out-of-control drum machine wielded by Lesley Gore. It's a shit show!" Sounds pretty accurate to me (except the shit part), it's a definite wedding of trad pop and slight distant-AM-radio damage you'd expect on a Bananafish single Dame Darcy might have been hovering around on. No banjos in sight though, just some fancy-n-tuneful pop decay especially on this particular track "Sunrise Surprise" (MP3)
L.A.'s had to have been a lot cooler than sweltering New York this summer so far (especially by last week's standards), so tossing on the new self-titled LP by Cal-trio Chicano Batman (Uniconio label) might have helped transport me to some less-oppressive mindset for the few days I was playing it. Made up of Bardo Martinez, Eduardo Arenas and Gabriel Villa, these guys have nailed a perfect petri dish of DIY and a variety of Latin influences; bossa nova, tropicalia, cumbia, all seemlessly grafted together with no-nonsense production and a good dose of crate-digger philosophy thrown in with some analog gloopery for good measure. Psychedelic rump-shake with equal parts driftability. While there's a definite preservation of vintage ideas, the amount of invention and "update" feels very right and relaxed; there's no rush to get on Nacional or be the next Latin Playboys it seems, just the vibe of making interesting, if not minimally enhanced psychedelic funk with a variety of flavors. Check out "Sonhatl" (MP3)
The Belgians! What the hell is going on there these days? Besides coldwave reissues and French fleeing for cheaper apartments, a lot. KRAAK, Ultra Eczema, El-G, Ignatz and their cohorts have been continually emitting some of the most alien and open-minded sounds as of late, and KRAAK's new split LP of Razen and Sheldon Siegel is a pretty splendid splattered platter. The SS side is a pleasing bit of live cello, percussion, tapes, and sax that sounds like a more humid swampland version of the ICP contingent, but I especially dig the brassy blare of Razen, the duo of Bart Reekmans and Brecht Ameel on assorted instruments they admittedly never knew how to play beforehand. Brass, bouzouki, bagpipes, duduk, metallic percussion and Ethiopiques licks meld with some Highlands stomping (thinking the ESP Cromagnon LP at times on "Rammelaargong"), swelling arrangements and a general buggy ethno vibe. Brecht makes music for dance companies (and from the sound of it has had a good listen to some of the comparative 70s Japanese dance/psych meetings of Teriyama, Tokyo Kid Brothers etc.) and apparently has some solo stuff on the way under the name Brlaâb. Grab yerself Razen's "Razen Zand" (MP3). Also on the Belgian tip (and now one of the favorite places I've visited having spent two short days there in late May) direct your attention to a great new reissue from Kebab, a great example of how Brits and Swiss didn't hold the form of angular/brash skeletal postpunk within the confines of Delta 5 and Kleenex. New York's Softspot label has just put out a single-slab collection of the band's classic "Life Is a Joke" 7" from '82 split with their '81 demo tape. You can nab one here, but probably best to run don't walk. "Anti-L" (MP3)
Hyper, blasted math-metal from Philly might be an initial way to sum up Cleric's new disc Regressions (Web of Mimicry label), but the real greatness of this band lies not in their over-the-top assault (in the realm of Discordance Axis or Meshuggah at times), but their ability to toss in elegant passages of piano, silence, natural sounds and dark ambience. The atmosphere's tension and slow burn leaves you totally on edge for the next onslaught, uber-complex and frothy to insane proportions. But the quiet stuff is gorgeous with surprisingly straightforward vocals and I could totally sink into a full album of just it alone, not that the extreme channel-flip isn't out of place. In general the schizoid nature of this is not so much a surprise from a label that specializes in some Mr. Bungle-related fare (or the ethno-techno stew of Secret Chiefs 3) but the heat this one gives off is definitely in a more unusual vein for Mimicry. Hear: "The Fiberglass Cheesecake" (MP3).
More MP3s from recent WFMU new bin fodder in the weeks ahead....and as always, please feel free to send the Music Department more goods anytime. WFMU, attn: Brian Turner, PO Box 5101, Hoboken NJ 07030. Thanks!