Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Victim of Society – God Is Not a Pro

A Victim of Society pick up where surf music left off (namely sunny beaches filled with tan-lined blondes), venturing into the sort of surf one imagines washes up on the Jersey shoreline: something dank, possibly carcinogenic and made entirely of discarded needles and mobster remains. A few minutes with this so-called surf and you’ll be yearning for good old daylight to hit you square in the face with its blinding, definitely carcinogenic rays of light.

A Victim of Society – God Is Not a Pro.mp3

God Is Not a Pro also bears a bit of resemblance to a close compatriot of surf music: rockabilly. Of course, it’s rockabilly* heard through the walls from the raucous (and possibly carcinogenic) party at the end of the dorm hallway. The sound is muffled and the speakers have seen better days, but the six-gun shuffle retains its swagger and the endless stream of greasers travelling wandering the halls makes you feel that the only way anyone’s leaving this party is via a switchblading. Rock (even rockabilly) should have an element of danger. Rock (even rockabilly) never requires a perfect hi-fi or a communal phone for emergency calls in the event of a stabbing. A Victim of Society is the leader of the pack, slicing lithely through the crowd, lit cigarette dangling from its lips and a sneer that could melt the heart of even the Heather-est of cheerleaders.

Big beat (of the ’60s variety, not of the latter ’90s variety) set the pace for fuzz bass played in the best don’t-give-a-fuck fashion and corroded, caroming vocals. Everything gets lots of reverb in order to rattle the walls of your skull more efficiently. Superb for any genre, but aces in the genres listed.

More here:

A Victim of Society Fact Sheet

Name: AVoS
Hometown: Athens, Greece
Genre: “lo-fi garage surf” or “reverbcore”
Fun fact: The Greeks created the world’s first “society,” which was an unfortunate offshoot of the world’s first “democracy.” In the original Greek, “society” translates roughly as “scapegoat.” There is a dearth of information about A Victim of Society available on the web, which isn’t really “fun,” nor necessarily a “fact.” However, nearly every profile of AVoS includes the word “mysterious,” including this one just now.

A genre of music crafted by musicians who found it impossible to choose between their two true loves: rock n roll and country n western. Rather than flip a coin or make a freekin’ decision for once in their existence, they decided to combine both into a musical form that contained the best elements of each influence while simultaneously failing to resonate with acolytes of either musical form. The resulting sound, as exemplified by Reverend Horton Heat, the Cramps and various others, drew the attention of neckbeared hipsters, swing dancers who found it to be more readily available than actual “swing music” and about a million greaser-emulating Japanese youths.

The AOR classic rock crowd remained unimpressed and the country fanatics were slowly being accustomed to the allure of pop music, thanks to a slow-but-steady shift in the country genre that has left most of them unaware that this is actually happening, much like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly heating water. The hipsters, however, were ecstatic, seeing as rockabilly was regulated to dive bars, most of which featured their favorite canned domestic beers at alcoholic-friendly prices. Swing dancers, especially those that have taken classes, are always looking for a place to throw each other around in a highly showoff-y fashion, so anything coming within a beat or two of swing is usually excuse enough for some excessive (but often [begrudgingly] talented) dancefloor maneuvering. 

If you’d like to learn more about “rockabilly,” be sure to check out my four-part history of the genre, which should be arriving roughly between now and never, with the smart money being on the latter.



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Jesse Ruins – Dream Analysis

Jesse Ruins makes pop with a black hole in its heart. It only takes three minutes to breeze through but the impact lasts far longer. Not disposable by a long shot. Airy vocals offset the darker tones pumped out by the murky bassline and burnt-out drum machine. Add to that some barely-thawed synth tones and the cascade of distant bells and you’ve got a track you’ll be dying to take home and meet mom, if it wasn’t for the pitch-shifted backup vocals, which hint at something much darker and dangerous lying just below the surface. (Many serial killers are polite people who keep to themselves and donate to food drives, etc.)

Jesse Ruins – Dream Analysis.mp3

Jesse Ruins Fact Sheet

Name: Jesse Ruins (or Nobuyuki Sakuma and Nah)
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Genre: Ophelia’s Waterlogged Mixtape
Fun fact: There is an unexplored homoerotic subtext to Jessie’s Girl, one that will only be fully explored once Prince releases a signature guitar for use with Guitar Hero. Ruins first release was distributed by Tokyo indie label Cuz Me Pain, a fact that makes me feel weirdly wonderful in ways I can’t fully explain. It’s almost like trying to catch a sneeze made of appreciative laughter.


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Double Dagger – Pillow Talk

Hormonal, angular rock with a lowercase “r.” No arena-ready chord packages here. just straightforward, speedy, guitar-driven (but wait! not an actual Guitar! a badass bass player is making all that noise!) post-altrock. Pillow Talk is what happens when the brain tries to parse signals from below the waist. A lot is made about teenage lust and sexual confusion, but for the most part, it’s a whole lot simpler than that. Which complicates things. These are the complications. “He’s staring at his best friend’s breasts.” Sex fucks up everything, making conversations operate at multiple levels while trying to keep the urges at bay and the forebrain forever in pursuit of false leads and tangents. “Why can’t we just say what we like?

Double Dagger – Pillow Talk.mp3

Double Dagger handle the frustration with tempo shifts and some dominating drumwork. Catchy enough to sing along with and noisy enough to feel liberating, all while still trapped within your own self-inflicted psychodrama.

Double Dagger Fact Sheet

Name: Double Dagger
Hometown: Baltimore, MD  (a.k.a. Home of the Motherfucking Death Set)
Genre: “Graphicdesigncore” (a.k.a. “post-punk,” “not-dubstep”)
Fun fact: If you rearrange the letters in lead singer Nolen Strals’ name, you can probably come up with some different words. Double Dagger have, unfortunately, called it a day, playing their last show on October 21, 2011 at the Ottobar in Baltimore. (I guess that’s not really a “fun” fact…)


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Dinowalrus – Actually

Dinowalrus has refined its spacier tendencies into a very close approximation of Spiritualized at full strength. Plenty of tasteful organ usage and a slow build to eventual release. Deals majestically with someone using someone else’s drugs, which may also be a metaphor for a failing relationship. Sad but good and (of course), spacious.

UPDATE: Some clarification from Dinowalrus themselves:

Dinowalrus – Actually.mp3

Dinowalrus Fact Sheet

Name: Dinowalrus (Named after a close evolutionary cousin of the halfsharkalligatorhalfman.)
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Genre: Open-ended rock.
Fun fact: The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world John Mayer existed. If this whole prog/space/rock thing doesn’t work out, Dinowalrus will start cranking out RATT-esque sleaze metal.


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Gesaffelstein: Dancefloor Brutalist

Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places, but it’s tough as hell to find pure, unapologetic club music. I mean the kind that hasn’t been watered down into 4-minute radio friendly unit shifters or defanged by a slew of irrelevant guest vocalists in an attempt to cross over into the mainstream.

Gesaffelstein – Opr.mp3

Gesaffelstein does not fuck around. This is peak EDM. This is going-out-of-your-head-at-2-am. No concessions are made for those skirting the edge of the scene or for the “I came here for the drugs” attendees. This is for those who love tough beats, electronic noises and having their perception altered by nothing more than pummeling percussion and stuttering strobe lights. If you like this sort of thing, than you’ll love Gesaffelstein. NOT FOR TOURISTS.

Gesaffelstein – Viol.mp3

Compares very favorably to Simian Mobile Disco’s brutal return to form on Delicacies. Everything Gesaffelstein touches turns into a techno purist’s dream. Exclusionary by design but a lovingly crafted care package to the faithful.

Gesaffelstein Fact Sheet:

Real name: Archduke Mike “Levy” Gesaffelstein
Hometown: France (I’m American — this is how Europe works for us)
Genre: Fine-ass techno.
Fun fact: The built-in spelling check highlighted nearly a third of the words in this post. Gesaffelstein always performs in a suit.



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Sonic Collision Mk. 1 (Featuring Smash)

Smash – Sanctuary’s Over (The Doors vs. the Cult).mp3

Ian Astbury of the Cult always wanted to be Jim Morrison. The nonsensical poetic ramblings. The appropriation of Native American imagery and knick knacks. The impossibly tight leather trousers. Smash (who we last heard pinning the over-the-top vocals of Tim Curry to Jet’s inescapable iPod-pushing hit) finally lets him have his way, sort of. She Sells Sanctuary, the pinnacle of the Cult’s musical achievements, plays backup to Jim Morrison’s vocal meanderings, to splendid effect. Rather than being forced to meander by the Doors’ wanky backup jamming, we are instead (thankfully) propelled forward and upward by one of the finest rock tracks ever crafted. The three-note acoustic guitar strum that seems tacked on at first is what really holds Sanctuary together. And She Sells Sanctuary holds Jimbo together, turning him into a Rock Star of the highest order, rather than a drug addled poet with his dork hanging out.


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Royal Baths – After Death

It’s easy to say calming things like “They’re in a better place now,” or “At least their suffering is over,” when you’re still in the land of the living. We can say these things because the afterlife is the cat in Schroedinger’s box as long as we remain living. But is it a “better place?” And how can we glibly state that someone’s “suffering is over?”

Royal Baths are here to remind us that the afterlife is more likely an unfriendly place, watched over by entities who begrudge the dead their recent life and are unwilling to let the deceased walk an untroubled path towards everlasting peace. Your suffering is far from over:

After death
Have to pass the test

Royal Baths – After Death.mp3

In their hands, this “test” seems like something altogether more diabolical than a simple weigh-in of your trangressions versus your good deeds. And no amount of pleading (“take my body home“) will exempt you from a trial you can’t prepare for. After Death evokes sadness and fear, a crippling combination even for those who still exist in the overworld. Starkly harrowing and reminiscent of a more focused Gun Club playing covers of White Stripes’ covers of obscure early blues classics (you know, the kind that mentioned death pretty much all time). Royal Baths aren’t here to set you at ease. They may offer to take your hand, but they won’t be offering cliched assurance. Just know that at some point, you’ll be on your own.

Royal Baths Fact Sheet

Home: Originally San Francisco, but relocated to Brooklyn, NY for sun-related reasons presumably. (Namely, less of it.)
Genre: According to their Myspace page, it is “Blues.” According to Minor Scratches, it is “Post-Goth” or “Not Dubstep.”
Albums: Litanies (2010), Better Luck Next Life (2012)
Little known fact: A recent study of music criticism discovered that the word “troubadour” and the word “mandolin” are never more than three sentences apart. Lead vocalist Jigmae Baer composes all of the Baths’ lyrics on a typewriter.


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