Thursday, August 26, 2010
A hilariously-narrated concept cassette about the life happenings of the clueless, absentminded Mark Jumper. (Also periodically referred to as Mr. Talent.)
Bob Dey’s Dream documents the droll antics of Mark Jumer as he attends a party he apparently wasn’t invited to, performs a brief on-the-spot set at said party, and then loafs around eating cake. Side B explores “extreme places of the mind,” as Mr. Talent falls ill and totally TRIPS OUT after his post-partying stagger home.
Even from the very onset of the tape, the line begins to blur regarding what is reality and what is a dream—a perpetual question that is obviously not made any easier by the tape’s absurdist nature.
It’s like someone got locked into the school band room for the duration of summer vacation and got so bored they decided to use ALL the instruments they could find (and a pencil sharpener and some Funyuns bags) to make a cassette. The tape’s timeline perfectly chronicles the onset of their dementia, and becomes weirder and weirder as they start foaming at the mouth and their brain turns into oatmeal.
This is by far the wittiest tape I’ve heard to date. The dialogue is spot-on and gelastic, and includes lines which are either downright ridiculous, or which show evidence of flirting with brilliance. You be the jury. Take for example the following selections which I have hand-picked from a collection of quotes about whales, which are all set to a lovely sitar piece on Side B:
“Blue whale breath is far fouler after they’ve eaten. It not quite as offensive as grey whale breath, but it’s still very strong.”
“Aaaaaaah the grey whale! The grey whale… is the largest living automobile on the planet. That is why is sometimes called “The Whale Crowned.”
“The children [whales] too wear the velvet covers of their parents…”
“The grey whale can eat up to four ocean worms a day.”
Bob Dey’s Dream is clever and forward-thinking, with enough wry cake jokes to last a lifetime. The world would be a better place if people made more music like this.
(Bob Dey's Dream can be found on the Chicago-based PlusTapes label.)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
If you’re ready to cut your teeth on some gnarly jams, look no further than Dire Wolves’ new c36 release. (Stunned Records) The album’s title, “Jams and the Giant Peace,” is both a nod to the group’s playful side, as well as to the free-flowing nature of its never-ending sprawl. Born out of the bustling triangular tracts, arching bridges, and excellent professional baseball teams of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dire Wolves shows clear evidence of a lifetime of spent coloring outside the lines.
While their last few releases seem to have focused more on atmosphere and mood, “Jams and the Giant Peace” is a take-no-prisoners romp through a land of punished amps and cracked cymbals. It is a messy, never-ending heap of a tape, that clocks well into overtime as it showcases fearless jamming and ruthless chord bashing.
And best of all, the louder you play it, the better it gets.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Galena is the solo project of Billy Sprague, co-owner of Oakland-based Sanity Muffin label, and this stellar cassette represents his first batch of released material in five years.
“Grave News for You” opens in a whirlpool of whining synth and keyboard stabs, then gives away into a thudding metallic landscape of chubby beats, hard static and spiraling tapeloops. Next in line is what sounds like distorted lawnmower, cool bubbling outerspace aquariums and handclaps. Mammoth keyboard lines and steady kicking drums. Bizarre, kaleidoscopic instruments that haven’t been invented yet. And masterfully weaving together each of these compositions are coy, slinky ambient bits—small shards of loss and love that are both confusing and haunting.
Side B leads you on with bursts of static, heavy machinery, and then, you’re hit face-first by a monolith of massive techo-infused beats and chopped up spoken word samples. Swollen and sputtering with out of control gain levels and throbbing dynamics, these hammering rhythms are all at once ethereal and firmly grasped in childhood nightmares. Then, it’s back to a shimmering interlude before distorted Rolands and the rustling sounds of wrapping paper open the door to yet another out of this world rhythm: this one is taken in through a bright and optimistic cartoon lens that features a soaring symphony of distorted far-flung sunny tones. Amazing.
Hands down one of the best releases of the year on any format. Truly awe-inspiring.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Whip up a few cuts in your gritty basement studio, route them through a string ‘tween two tin cans, and hope for the best. Loop some steady bouncy drumbeats and whip up a blistering cascade of guitar fuzz to form the perfect washed-out soundtrack to the Chicago garage rock scene.
Radar Eyes is a three-piece grizzly punk group hailing from Chi-Town who have just released their debut self-titled cassette on PlusTapes. This blistering six-song installment is an excellent showcase of their killer hooks and penetrating blanket layers of overdrive.
Radar Eyes is all about hard edges and spiky barbed wire: twin hard driving guitars, muffled bass, and squeaks of distortion tumble into a brutal wall of sound. A whirlwind of resonating riffs face off with lo-fi chanted lyrics. It’s a tape that is aggressive and spunky. A no-holds-barred rocker with smugly confident lyrics and frantic percussion.
Particularly notable is the intricate attention to texture and interplay, best demonstrated by the fancy footwork of their dueling guitars: one peppers the mix with plucky notes while the other provides epic crashing chords. It is a sweet harmonious relationship. Or, at least it’s as sweet as it gets on a thrasher like this.
Radar Eyes will be playing shows all across Chicago this summer. They just recently released a 7” single on HoZac Records.