There’s not much more to be said about Night Birds. Over the last couple years they’ve released a slew of 80’s inspired surf punk 7″s, and their debut album on Grave Mistake is more of the same. However, just because they are mining the same territory, doesn’t mean I can’t dig in there with ’em. I suppose instead of saying things like “Adolescents meets Agent Orange!” I can come up with new comparisons like “State of Alert meets Man Or Astro-Man?!” Heck, I might even be justified to name drop For Science, Pysched To Die, Hunchback, and the Ergs! since the band is comprised of members of those groups. But nay, I’ll attempt to be above such drivel. Time to delve in a little deeper and see if I can’t do an old-school follow-the-tracks review!
The album starts off with “Demon Haunted World,” a pummeling pile of hardcore, surf riffs, and a bit of melody that feels like the soundtrack to a punk rock nightmare. It shoots seamlessly into “Neon Gray” which is slightly more straightforward and catchy, and that leads us to “Born of Man and Woman,” which inspires even more of a dark-basement-sing-along. It’s a song from Mike H., and it’s reminiscent of old Hunchback went they leaned more toward memorable horror punk than towards straight up weird. The climax of catchiness concludes with “Landfill Land.” Perfectly simple (the kind of song you can hear once and shout and bounce along with before it’s even over), perfectly dreadful.
“One Eye” and the title track are both solid, but plateau at the “more 80s hardcore/surf” level. The instrumental “Day After Trinity” picks things up again, giving us more evidence of the band’s musical prowess. They play fast, hard, and leave no ounce of energy out of the performance. That might go without saying considering they charge through 13 tracks in 22 minutes, but I’ll include it just in case. I consider it a good sign when a band can rip through an album faster than I can type about it.
The second half of the album starts off with “Hoffman Lens” which again has all the cylinders of influences working overtime and “Sex Tape,” which surprisingly is the closest thing to a love song on the album. The speed (even compared to the rest of this adrenaline blast it’s moving) of “Failed Species” is impressive and captivating. They bring it to a slower chug with “Can’t Get Clean,” but end everything on the best notes possible with their old “hit” “Paranoid Times” and “Oblivious” which I’m sure will be their next one. Will this album end up on my year-end best-of list? My magic 8-Ball says “Of course, don’t be stupid.”
The Japanese War Effort – Surrender To Summer 10″ (Song, By Toad)
It would appear that the internet has had only a minimal effect on America’s isolationist attitude toward music. I know this for a fact because Edinburgh-based label Song, By Toad Records has not been featured on any American blogs I’m following. This is a shame – not only because I’ve enjoyed almost every release I’ve heard from the catalog (Meursault’sAll Creatures Will Make Merry was my very favorite album of 2010) – but because SBT’s modus operandi is very much in tune with why I continue to do what I do with this website and record label. This undeserved lack of attention is why I decided to kick off a new BTID feature with one of the label’s most recent releases.
The Japanese War Effort is not a collective of any sort nor does it have anything to do with Nippon’s nationalistic battle cry to arms – it’s merely a side project for Martin Moog (or James Scott, to his mother), one half of Glasgow’s electronic duo Conquering Animal Sound. Surrender To Summer clocks in at less than 15 minutes but Moog accomplishes quite the lot of hazy, pop pyrotechnics within that short span. Remember chillwave? ‘Pool Attendant’ has the same lo-fi recording approach deployed by the thousands of PBR-soaked post-graduates with samplers/synths/gadgets in their parents basements. The crystalline squall of noise opening Beach Buddies gave me a warm, fuzzy Washed Out/Houses vibe. However, Moog’s end result, while it can be tagged ‘bedroom electronica’, is comprised moreso of quirky substance and hypnotic grooves rather than geek chic and Barbary pants-on-too-tight dance offs. Lead-off track and, undoubtedly, one of my favorite singles of the year, Summer Sun Skateboard glides along on a bossa nova beat, stringy guitar basslines and a tasteful collage of electro-adornments. Moog’s vocals might be acquired taste for some though his accent isn’t nearly as thick as some of his fellow Scottish contemporaries. I like his style (a lot) and although he loves hip-hop and claims to not be able to rhyme himself out of a paper bag, I could see supporters of Why?, Emperor X or Dosh spooning this up right quick.
You can pick up the 10″ on the Song, By Toad website for a fair price (considering the int’l shipping!). As you can see, the record was pressed on eye-popping funfetti vinyl. A visit to TJWE’s Bandcamp will yield more pleasantries for those looking to hear more.
The lads of Chef Menteur are asking for your help in funding their latest album, East Of The Sun & West Of The Moon, on vinyl via Kickstarter. I’ve written about CM before and featured their songs on monthly mixtapes. I first stumbled across their music when I bought a giant lot of ‘indie’ cd’s on eBay years back and this stuck out of the pile so I decided to tackle a review of it and I never looked back. In my opinion CM are one of the most unheralded pioneers of ambience in the past 10 years. Bandmember/multi-instrumentalist, Alec Vance, is also the curator of Backporch Revolution, a label and collective of musicians in the NOLA area specializing in the occult of experimental/psychedelic/unexplainable sounds . I’ve had first glimpse of the new album and it’s a massive, genre-busting supernova of sound. Taken from their Kickstarter page:
:::We wanted to make sure that when trying to release a classic double album, in all its monstrous glory, there were still no excess or throwaway tracks: Just as much time was spent whittling songs down as it was building them up. At least as many songs didn’t make it on the record as those that did in the interest of providing the most conceptually pure experience. This is an epic aural journey, containing songs for lovers of classic psychedelia, space-odyssey synth drones, Warp-records style electronica, krautrock and kosmische, doom drone, hints of early metal, folk-, math-rock and prog-rock sneaking in from time to time as well. “A symphony of space rock” one might even call it..:::
Their funding drive ends in 3 days so please help out with whatever you can – you shan’t be disappointed. If ever there were music meant to be immortalized on wax, this is it. I chipped in a cool 50, which earns you the double LP plus a test pressing, compliments of the sick United Pressing promo. Check out a track and video from East below as well as a few bonus songs from their 2 (outstanding) previous LP’s.
Can you guys believe this is the 70th(!!) edition of the monthly mix here on BTID? To give you an idea of how long I’ve been doing this – a snapshot of the website after posting Vol. 14 & Vol. 33 & Vol. 43 (back when I was more of a ‘true blogger’). 8 years and counting! The first 18 mixes were actually hand-assembled, burned and mailed out to several of my closest musical allies!
This month marks a somewhat special occasion – I have begun mixing the old with the new, as evidenced by the inclusion of classics like Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Nick Lowe, etc. You’ll also see a hint of broadening ‘genre support’ (Apemen, The Ify Jerry Krusade, Oscar & Martin i.e.). In the beginning of the year I made a commitment to, not only sift through new releases, but relive classic albums as well as branch out into unexplored territories musically. I’m finding the majority of music blogs/websites have become a bit too narrow in their scope (intentionally or not) and I’d like to try and break free from that mold.
But really, thanks to all of you who have taken my opinions and advice to heart over the years. For as much as I love the music I feature – I’ve always had my loyal readers in mind when setting the imaginary deadlines that go along with posting these mixes. Enjoy and please do spread the word!