[All hail Metz. Also, all hail this Metz tee shirt, which is appropriate to wear absolutely nowhere.]
OK, I gotta get this one done quick - the stamps have let me out of my cage just long enough for me to stretch my legs and get a drink of water. Let's do this.
THE BEST (AND WORST) ALBUMS OF 2015, pt. II
The King Khan and BBQ Show - Bad News Boys-- Reunion album for these garage-soul bad boy lifers. For all of their public bickering and onstage meltdowns, the fact that remains that the much of the best music *both* has made throughout their prolific careers has been in the company of one another. Grade: B-
Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire-- Ya had to laugh when purists fretted about Lightning Bolt's decision to finally record an album in a proper recording studio. What did people expect, a fucking No Doubt record?! Fortunately, the material on Fantasy Empire fits in nicely with much of Lightning Bolt's previous output, with the benefit of a little added clarity and dynamics. (Not to mention what's likely the best song of the year.) Grade: B
Liturgy - The Ark Work -- This is either one of the worst albums I've ever heard, or another chapter in what just might be the greatest troll in history. (Either way, trust me, you don't want to listen to it.) The ever-irascible Triple H has incorporated all manner of cheap, shitty-sounding keyboard effects here, while somehow transforming Greg Fox' once-mighty drum sound into something that makes the production on St. Anger sound like a job well done. Grade: F
Lower Dens - Escape From Evil -- It's a little disappointing that as the proper follow-up to their their deep, dark, thrilling breakthrough album (2012's Nootropics), Lower Dens has settled for more conventional songwriting and occasionally aimless, bland melodies. But this one is growing on me. Grade: B-
Metz - II -- True, Metz does only one thing, but they do that one thing better than any other band does ANYTHING. Just a devastatingly awesome sonic assault, and the likely Album of the Year. Grade: A
Mike Pace and the Child Actors - Best Boy -- Pleasant, wistful power pop from the former Oxford Collapse main man. Nothing on here manages to approximate the infectious awesomeness of Oxford Collapse's landmark (well, at least in my mind) Remember the Night Parties album, but it's still a decent listen. Grade: C+
My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall -- This is the type of Dad Rock you listen to if you really want your kids to think you're a total pussy. Grade: F
Palma Violets - Danger in the Club -- The Palmas' debut, 180, was a surprise success on the back of countless, uh, "repurposed" '70s UK post-punk riffs. Now that these blokes have actually gotten around to writing their own riffs, the results are predictable. Grade: D
Pelican - The Cliff -- The title track (and centerpiece) of this EP includes vocals, an anomaly in Pelican's nearly entirely instrumental / post-metal catalog. Amazing, then, that the lyrics (written from the point of view of a creepy, desperate man, seemingly on the precipice of committing a violent act against the unwilling object of his affections) hits the nail on the head so perfectly. Grade: B
A Place to Bury Strangers - Transfixiation -- Amazingly, probably their noisiest, most feedback-scarred release ever, and it's a good look for them. Best APTBS album overall since 2009's Exploding Head. Grade: B-
Ok, that's it for now. Will try to wrap this up next week, or not. Memphis tomorrow!
These guys are sick and tired of the near-constant Nirvana comparisons, but they should take that shit as a compliment. While Ideal Cities is their least Nirvana-derived release so far, that's not necessarily a good development; it's also their least consistently hooky. That being said, "Weird" and "Bait Car" are great fucking songs, and if these guys had put out an album packed with stuff approaching the quality of those two songs, this would be the best album I've heard this year, hands down.
Diarrhea Planet - I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
By all accounts, I should love this album, since essentially it consists of a combination of what the two finest bands in Brooklyn (Fang Island and Liquor Store) do best. Marrying the latter's boneheaded, anthemic kraut-punk to the former's ecstatically sunny prog should work on paper, but somehow here the sum is way, way less interesting than the sum of the parts. It doesn't help that the vocals sound like a drunk guy impersonating a retarded person.
I enjoy pretty much all of King Khan and Mark Sultan (a/k/a BBQ)'s projects; King Khan and his Shrines approximates a scuzzier, low-rent James Brown both on record and onstage, and Mark Sultan's solo work gives him plenty of space to let his Sam Cooke-esque pipes breathe in a one-man band setting. But to me, their finest work is done with each other, as King Khan & BBQ Show, and there's plenty of stuff on their three albums together which should be required listening for all garage rock fanatics.
I've seen Khan with his Shrines several times, and I finally caught a Mark Sultan solo show last May at Knitting Factory Brooklyn (click here for video I took at that show), but this was to be the first KK / BBQ live show I've ever seen, and (I'm pretty sure) their first NYC appearance since their meltdown and subsequent breakup awhile back.
I had ambitions this evening of hitting this show, then hustling back to Williamsburg to catch Marnie Stern's set at Music Hall, and with Santos' website stating that there was another show at the venue after KK & BBQ with doors listed at 10 PM, that seemed like a pretty reasonable goal with Marnie probably not likely to hit the stage until at least 11 PM. Of course, wishful thinking on my part, since the opener didn't even take the fucking stage until after 9 PM. Grrrrrrrrrrr.
By the time Bloodshot Bill's set started up, the front of the stage was uncomfortably jampacked, and people were by and large shitfaced. Bloodshot Bill's performance style resembles Mark Sultan's live setup in many ways, as he performs in one-man-band fashion too, playing guitar, singing, and playing percussion (bass drum and hi-hat) with his feet. (He and Sultan did a decent album of together a couple years ago as The Ding-Dongs, and supposedly have more recorded work in the pipeline under that name.) But where Sultan's voice is built for crooning, Bloodshot Bill's froggy rasp, Buddy Holly hiccups and Jon Spencerish Elvisisms are an entirely different beast altogether. I very much enjoyed his set, which included several classic covers - check below for a fragment of his version of "California Sun."
Prior to KK / BBQ taking the stage, an 8-foot tall glittery penis was hauled onstage as a stage prop, foreshadowing the raucous atmosphere in the crowd and the bawdy onstage humor which would characterize the set. Look behind Khan to the left in this photo for a glimpse:
The set was very entertaining, and it was great to see the crowd rocking the fuck out and getting rowdy instead of the typical NYC bullshit. Khan and Sultan came out dressed in outlandish robes and headdresses, with Sultan performing seated, playing guitar and singing while keeping the beat with his one of his feet each on bass and snare drum, while, ever the showman, Khan assertively stalked the stage, vamping and mugging while (occasionally) playing his guitar with his tongue. Honestly, if there's anyone around that does a better job at the sleazy garage rock thing these days (no, not the Black Lips), I'd love to hear about them.
No clue on the setlist, but before I left I remember they definitely played "Waddlin' Around," "Fish Fight," "Love You So" and the hilarious "Tastebuds" (see below for video of "Tastebuds"). I left elevenish to hit up the aforementioned Marnie Stern show - check back Wednesday for my review of that, plus video an' shit.
While scanning OhMyRockness last week, I was shocked to see that LiveFastDie was still around and playing gigs. After a quick Googling to confirm that it was the *same* LiveFastDie (c'mon, it's not totally implausible that another band had chosen to name itself after one of GG Allin's most infamous tatoos), it was on.
I first saw LiveFastDie opening up for King Khan at Mercury Lounge in August, 2008, and their kamikaze style of full-contact performance stole the fuck out of that show. The band members scrambled aimlessly across the beersoaked stage, alternately wiping out painfully and smashing into each other; the lead guitarist (who is now the frontman of The World's Greatest Band, Liquor Store) fell off the stage several times while still somehow managing to pound out his "hey mom look at me!!!" over-the-top awesome wankery. One part Jackass, one part catchy-as-fuck gutter-punk jams.
This was not, as it turned out, a simple case of "whoops, too many rock-bottom whiskey shots" - the band's onstage attitude seemed to perfectly match their MySpace page's slogan of "oh boy. Another band that can hardly play their instruments and like to get wasted. Check back with them in a year and see who's dead." I "checked back with them" the following April at Union Pool, which wound up being the first time (of twenty or so) that I saw Liquor Store (who at this point were regularly performing with 5 guitarists onstage simultaneoulsly) live.
Anyway, fast forwarding to the present, these guys are still fun as hell. A persistently malfunctioning amp provided way more humor than it should've, as did an audience member's seemingly constant pleas for the band to simply "STOP!!!!" So watch these videos and judge for yourself, yeah?