Tag Archives: Wood Owls

Recommended: The Julia Sound – One For Ya Mind EP

Remember how just yesterday, I was informing you of my under-utilized pop side and letting you know I wasn’t all about the DARK and the NOISE just like other, normal human beings? Well, those day(s) are over, suckers. Back to the DARK and the NOISE and especially the last part.

The Julia Sound eradicates any other female-named Sounds and I’m pretty sure they can take down all the male-named Sounds as well, probably without breaking a sweat, all at the same time. Because The Julia Sound are SOUND with a capital-everything.

Former WOOD OWL (as featured previously here at Minor Scratches) [and cryptically abbreviated] R. has returned to the studio as part of The Julia Sound, picking up right where the WOOD OWLS left off: crafting incredibly loud, incredibly layered, sharply angled explosive blasts of white noise that hit your eardrums with enough force to cause vertigo and with enough abrasives to remove protective tympanic membranes, leaving you reeling around in an ear-ringing daze like a Who roadie after 35 years on the road. If this doesn’t sound like your “sort of thing,” I humbly submit that you are simply NOT playing it LOUD ENOUGH.

The Julia Sound’s EP, One Time for Ya Mind, is five end-to-end tracks that revel in the pitch black joy of ensnaring listeners in razor wire feedback and pummeling, thug-like, PiL death disco drums. As cathartic and confrontational as the Jesus and Mary Chain’s early live gigs and as resolutely uncompromising as some of the bands namechecked on its Facebook page (Pussy Galore, Meat Whiplash, zZz), The Julia Sound is an impossibility of logistics. How in the name of all that is unholy do these three persons (/R //E.V. Orman //No. 6), without a complete name between them, manage to create such an encompassing “Sea of Sound,” one which seems to be at least as much predicated on destruction as creation?

CIP, the First:

The Julia Sound – Absolved, As It Happens.mp3

Somewhere between the JAMC, the Sisters of Mercy (Vision Thing incarnation) and Suicide lies this pretty thing, and by “pretty” I mean “check out those sharpened incisors.” A brief noise, not unlike a motorcycle made entirely out of blown-out speaker cones, kicks off the track, revving the throttle in an altogether threatening way. And away it goes, replaced by reverbed, guttural howls and the occasional shouty, echoed f-bomb. The beat goes on in a relentless fashion, but not one built of insistence but resignation. All in all, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that this was once a Jesus and Mary Chain b-side that somehow slipped into a wormhole during an elongated drugs-and-drinking session, only to be recovered by The Julia Sound, who somehow, against all SCIENCE, discovered they had ALREADY recorded it. (Cue scary musical sting.)

CIP, the Second:

The Julia Sound – Injection N°. Hate.mp3

The OED doesn’t seem to be particularly lacking in words for stuff, but when it comes to something as intensely brutal and beautiful as this track, there’s suddenly a dearth of adequate adjectives. It runs 8:46 and as such qualifies as “epic,” even before a single note is played. But the notes are played and what begins as something you might be able to term a “first-date song” quickly devolves into something more in line with a “post-devastating-breakup song.” The drums go from “nonexistent” to “inescapable,” and the track itself from “inviting” to “tinnitus hellscape,” inviting comparisons to Stellarium’s “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” epic sonic destroyer Dead Nebula and My Bloody Valentine’s live finale You Made Me Realise* (“whatever doesn’t kill you leaves you desperately in need of immediate medical attention”). Gentle, it isn’t.

*Affectionately referred to as the “holocaust” by fans.

This is the sort of track that leads to this scenario when experienced live:

Uninitiated friend: “So… this is like performance art or something?”

[WAVE AFTER WAVE OF TJS SONIC BRUTALITY]

You: “I KNOW! HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I THINK MY NOSE IS BLEEDING”

Uninitiated friend: [slowly sinks into fetal position]

You: “FUCK YEAH! IT IS BLEEDING!”

Be initiated. The sight, taste and smell of your own blood as heightened by the collapse of Western Civilization in audio format is greatly preferable to laying in your own urine, hoping for a riot to cut the night short.

Download the whole EP over at Mediafire.

Stop by Facebook and add The Julia Sound to your “These Are the Sorts of Things I Like” List. Also, take a few seconds to gaze in awe and wonderment at the inspiration for the band and its namesake. (You won’t need more than 15 of those seconds.)

Share it with a friend.

SCREAM IF YOU WANT TO GO FASTER.

Wear proper hearing protection, etc. blahblahblah.

/s/CLT

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Eyes on the Floor: A Shoegaze Compilation (Part One)

[Featuring the Haiduks, BrthCtrl, Wood Owls, Weekend, TÅNK and Stellarium.]


Shoegaze is the genre that never really went away. The original scene got stuck in a recursive loop while the rest of alternative rock turned into something completely unrecognizable, populated by fitted ballcap-wearing aggressors with a tendency to abusive the dynamic shifts when not abusing rhyming dictionaries. As grunge rose, fell and was replaced by a succession of increasingly dull roars, shoegaze went into hibernation.

Now that all that unpleasantness is behind us, shoegaze (along with most of the 80s) has stepped back out into the sunlight, even if only metaphorically, as darkened venues are preferable to the harsh glare of unshielded UV rays when it comes to making layered noise. And what better way to celebrate this resurgence than a handpicked compilation of shoegazer tracks, curated by your host with no consideration given to whether these bands even claim the genre as their own or the fact that this “brand-new” resurgence has actually been going on for years.

Without further underselling, here’s the inaugural edition of Miscellaneous Themed Compilations, thrust upon you by your favorite underproductive music blog, Minor Scratches. Keep in mind that this is a 2-part post, and while there won’t be a quiz at the end, there will be door prizes. (Which include, and are limited to, a zip or rar of all the tracks and some handmade cover art.)

Haiduks – Use Up My Time.mp3

This must be what it sounds like in Kevin Shields’ head. All. The. Time. While otherwise normal people (who have never helmed a seminal band whose career culminated in a masterpiece (Loveless) that simultaneously set the bar unreachably high and devoured an entire label) would hear something tunefully fuzzy and a bit askew (like say, Sloan’s Lemonzinger), Kevin Shields, here embodied by the Haiduks, hears looped guitar chords suffering from intense vertigo.

In a word: askew. But pleasurably so. Disorienting but engaging, like taking a ride on a sonic Tilt-a-Whirl in need of repairs but otherwise not life-threatening. Or firing up a worn-out belt drive turntable, only with guitars and such.

BrthCtrl – Hiroshima.mp3

As long as our kilter is still a bit off, let’s head into something else delightfully noisy and prone to lurching around like Grandpa in search of some more MD 20/20. This track is so extremely rare that even Writer Mike himself has probably never heard it and I’m pretty sure he’s heard everything that was recorded between 1930 and earlier this afternoon.

BrthCtrl is the (mostly) unrealized, unreleased side project of home crowd favorite rraaiillss, itself a rather Jesus & Mary Chain-y, shoegazey effort. (Some day I’ll have to put together a list of “home crowd favorites” in some sort of order. And then maybe I can rotate them periodically, giving them each a shot as “Blog Mascot,” a title that comes with no prize money or additional accolades. It does, however, come with a fiercely loyal blogger whose lack of frequent updates tends to undermine the positive aspects of having such a blogger in your pocket.)

Unrealized or not, BrthCtrl rocketlurches from the gates with a monumental guitar swoon that seems on the verge of collapse any number of times, pitched to and fro like the drunken love child of MBV’s Only Shallow and Nirvana’s Radio Friendly Unit Shifter before the drums kick in and push it towards MBV’s Soon and most of JAMC’s Honey’s Dead. In other words, great stuff delivered guilelessly by a master craftsman and exclusive as fuck to boot.

Wood Owls – Breathless.mp3

Ah, this is nice. A refreshing blast of blasting. Well, in all honesty, it’s probably not “nice” but it certainly is bracing. In order for it to be “nice,” your definition of “nice” would have to be as flexible as my definition of “shoegaze.” This verges on No Wave (No Gaze?) in its single-minded pursuit of noisy guitar anti-heroics.

If the Jesus & Mary Chain met My Bloody Valentine’s pre-Loveless EPs in your garage for a session that would result in your eviction from the Homeowners’ Association, it would sound like this. (But probably only after mastering. [If that even happened. This sounds like 1985 opened a wormhole and shoved this through. Right into your garage. Weird. Try not to drop anything useful in there…] Before any sort of ultra-rough mastering, it would probably sound like this [starting about 5:50]:


So… basically the Wood Owls sound like your Marshall stack invited all the amps it knew to a party in the local bomb shelter WITHOUT TELLING YOU and you only found out because the goddamn bay windows buzzed right the fuck out the frames and collapsed on the ground to the accompanying sound of your voicemail filling up with increasingly profane noise complaints.)

Weekend – Coma Summer.mp3

What’s that about a “life worth living?” Pish and of course Posh. Weekend have brought the noise and are shaking things loose from your skull, waking you up just to tell you that they’re going to sleep for a long, long time.

I awoke from a coma summer.

Sometimes life’s what you make of it and sometimes it’s the parts that pass you by that affect you the most. Let’s sleep it off. Good luck sleeping, though! Oh, sure. It starts quietly enough. The drums kick in and there’s not much more than forward motion for a short while. But then the feedback kicks in, riding alongside a guitar set to “squall” and the pace never lets up, belying the inactivity of the title, but by no means suggesting that Life Is Being Made. You’re going for a ride and Weekend’s in the driver’s seat. We may not end up anywhere but at least we’re moving, am I right?

The guitar heat raises prickly bands of sweat on the back of your neck, perfect for dirt collecting during summer in the city. The feedback arcs and dives but never completely goes away. Fever dream music for the masses.

TÅNK – Des Oeufs (Les Manifestants ont Lancés).mp3

French one-man-band Christophe Mevel (a.k.a. TÅNK) isn’t normally associated with the shoegazer genre per se, but given the liberties I’m willing to take when arguing from the ear of the beholder (and doing battle with a variety of incomplete metaphors), we’re finding him grouped here despite his more Krautrockian leanings. Sure, this track may edge closer to space than to the introverted gauze of The ‘Gaze, but the necessary signposts are there. Manipulated guitars straining at the leads, surging on the backs of a theoretical “shitload” of effects pedals. Drumwork that propels, underpins and otherwise sets the pace (and the controls) to the heart of the sun while the surrounding swirl renders the rhythm section’s best intentions worthless – an enveloping fog that makes directional sense completely theoretical and as least as accurate as the old guy at the gas station who reeks of distilled Aqua Net and a lifetime of regrets.

Still, you’ll feel a bit more thump than shoegazing is accustomed to, but don’t worry, we won’t suddenly be taking a left into Germany’s idea of what rock should sound like if it’s not being played by The Scorpions. Instead, we’ll take a pulsing meander into the spacier side of shoegaze, which is at least as enjoyable as it sounds. And as to what exactly a “pulsing meander” sounds like? Two options: a.) TÅNK and b.) someone reaching the end of their mental thesaurus.

Stellarium – Tomorrow’s Monday.mp3

This track is a bargain. Introspective and downcast in the front, pure sonic overdrive in the back, like a wallflower at the dance that springs to elbow-throwing life when the DJ throws MC5 on the turntables. Suddenly, caution is thrown to the wind like so many journals full of overwrought poetry onto the bonfire. Maybe it’s not a party in the true high school drunkfest sense of the word, but it is definitely a Happening.

Going from bruised to bruising about halfway through, Stellarium flex their tonal muscles, which is never just mindless bulk, but rather just “cut” and “ripped,” like an aural Brad Pitt in Fight Club (or an Iggy Pop anytime). [Speaking of which, there is something a tad bit Stooge-ish in the blown-out swagger out the second half of the track…] Lithe but strong enough to make you feel that punch for the next several weeks. The build is as important as the release, setting you up for a series of uppercuts by lulling you into dropping your guard.

That’s it for this session. Part Two is on the way, featuring some more hazy instrumentation and effects pedaling, as well as a (probably) welcome shift in tone and tempo. (I originally typed that in as “shit in tone and tempo” and was EXTREMELY tempted to leave it that way. Now that you’ve been inside my head for a moment, allow me to gesture vaguely at the exits here, here and here. Feel free to drop back in any time. The door is always open. Or missing completely…)

EYES ON THE FLOOR: PART TWO

/s/CLT

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