Thursday, November 27, 2014

BECAUSE YOU MISSED IT: Ultra Pulverize Ask, "Can You Fly, Bobby?"

Pictured above: RoboCop joins Ultra Pulverize for a kazoo solo.
If you’ve never seen Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 masterpiece RoboCop, it’s a near-future tale of a cyborg police officer in an decaying urban setting who’s programmed to both violently apprehend criminal suspects and never challenge authority. The movie is punctuated by brief newscasts with shallow TV anchors reciting bite-sized chunks of dystopian news and a popular catchphrase-laden lowest-common-denominator sitcom. Evil corporate overlords plot gentrification on a massive scale while colluding with criminals and privatized law enforcement to maximize profits.

In other words, screenwriter Ed Neumeirer did a good job of predicting 21st century America.

Also, if you’ve never seen Ultra Pulverize, they are a three-person (three-robot?) “futuristic electronic synth-punk rap” group known for hilarious, danceable songs and an awesome music video.

If you asked me to make a short list of musical acts who would be best suited to rescore RoboCop, Ultra Pulverize would have taken the top spot. Their tongue-in-cheek techno sensibilities mesh perfectly with Verhoeven’s movie. (I would also nominate El-P, Nine Inch Nails, Matmos, and Author & Punisher.)

Headliners set up rows of chairs for the film and provided free popcorn. When Ultra Pulverize took the stage about 15-20 minutes after the announced start time (violating a key tenet of scene etiquette), the relaxed and mostly seated audience hooted and hollered in approval. Right away they got down to business: as soon as the MGM lion roared its greetings, UP laid on the keyboards to produce an appropriately stark mood.

Pictured above: Taco night was a bust!
UP’s RoboCop score is chock full of sampled dialogue (the movie’s actual soundtrack, including original dialogue, is never heard), heavy beats, and atmospheric synths. I’ll spare you a scene-by-scene description, but I’ll point out that their score is entirely original—with the exception of the Tone LocWild Thing” beat mixed with a Clockwork Orange soundtrack sample.

The audience cheered for their favorite scenes in the movie (“Bitches leave!”) and for intense moments in UP’s score. As soon as the movie was over, I went to UP’s merch table to ask if there was a recording of their RoboCop score, and the answer was “Yes, but it hasn’t been released yet.” You’ll want to pick that up as soon as it comes out, and you’ll want to catch Ultra Pulverize’s next live performance of their RoboCop score. Here’s hoping that next time, there will be a RoboCop-themed costume contest, because I would definitely dress as Clarence Boddicker.

Check out more on the matter from guest writer James Miller here:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

LISTEN: Anwar Sadat - Obedience (the full EP)

Pictured above: This skull is high on life and shit.
Tired of not hearing the new Anwar Sadat CD? The good folks over at Brooklyn Vegan have you covered, despite whatever the chuds in their comments section would have you believe. What a bunch of assholes. We think Obedience is pretty great and know that you will too. We know this in our heart of hearts, which is an awesome redneck adage about how your heart sometimes has another possibly smaller heart, like a heart Turducken, but made of only heart meat and feels, probably as a filtration system for all of the nicotine and butter in your Cracker Barrel chest. What we're saying is that "heart of hearts" is really a stupid analogy when you think about it with your mind's eye, which is also another stupid analogy. Like your mind needs it's own eye. Get the fuck out of here with that hippy Tool nonsense.

But do check out this album. Anwar Sadat prove again that they're tops, and make tunes that will throw you into a table flipping rage, the perfect accompaniment to whatever bullshit your more conservative family members probably have to say about Ferguson right now; I bet liquor sales are going through the roof right now with that oh-jesus-I-can't-believe-we're-related demographic. So pound a beer and let the dulcet, jump-kick inspiring tones of Anwar Sadat wash away all of your problems, be they this bullshit or that. Because we know you care equally about racially sensitive cultural imbalances in our country and Scott Stapp's destitution. We know a thing or two about our audience.

REVIEW: Dane Waters - A Harp with Teeth that is Drooling and Crying




















Dane Waters
A Harp with Teeth that is Drooling and Crying
Bandcamp LLC

There was a time when you could with a fair amount of ease identify a consistent Louisville sound. For better or worse, I'm happy to report that that identity is slowly eroding, save for the lone thematic convergence that all local indie or punk, a term I use broadly here, is by necessity performed in a minor key or with some hint of melancholy. This is certainly my cup of tea -the pensive and often bittersweet quality to Louisville music- and becomes apparent on a sociological scale when you travel to someplace with the kind of mild climate that makes listening to Sheryl Crow acceptable. This crossroad of tonally new genre bending sound and our cultural propensity for dark and heavy music is ever apparent on the "A Harp with Teeth that is Drooling and Crying," the newest from Dane Waters.

The first thing I learned about Waters was that she had a great voice. Had when I learned about her and has in the present, as it is truly the centerpiece here. The album plays out like Jarboe at her very best, which is to say that her cartoonish goth tendencies were somehow curbed. Jarboe that is. The musical accompaniment here is fantastic, an all pervasive creepy vibe that imbues every track. For the most part, AHWTTIDAC (thought I'd use a handy acronym, you know) is as haunted as it is haunting, gripped in a dense sonic fog that remains secondary, a vehicle only for Waters beautiful, operatic voice.

This is no hyperbole. I'm almost certain that she has formal voice training and filters this through her experience in our wonderful local indie scene, certainly through her tenure in bands like Sapat or Softcheque. Waters knows what she's doing, and that confidence in her craft never falters throughout. And while the album has a uniform vibe, there is certainly plenty of diversity to be had. Songs like opener First State or Twin represent the primary tone delivered here, but then a track like Failure comes along and changes the game. Here Waters filters her inner Donna Summer with a song that relies as heavily on her vocal presence as it does a strong back beat, not a common feature for the rest of the affair. It's a cool turn, and something otherwise unexpected.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

REVIEW: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - "Singer's Grave a Sea of Tongues"


Bonnie Prince Billy
Singer's Grave - A Sea of Tongues
Drag City

Truth be told, I never really listened to Will Oldham or any of his scattered identities. Not for any particular reason, but just that it never hit my tiny radar. Here's what I know about Will Oldham: he makes alt-country or indie country or something that is at least southern tinged; He played the dad in that Baby Jessica made for TV movie; he was in that Kanye West video with Zach Galifianakis; and my wife almost hit him once turning to pull into our neighborhood. Lots of folks like him, and I figure there is likely a good reason for that, other than his wardrobe, which even I have to admit is pretty spectacular.

Again: don't get me wrong. I've heard a little here and there, but it's never been germane enough to my tastes that I gave it that many listens. I've heard a little off "I See A Darkness," and that seems like a solid start. I've probably heard Palace and all the Palace affiliates too, although I'm not sure I could differentiate it from any of his other work. In fact, other than instrumentation, I can't hear much difference between any of the things that he's done, which I submit as a good, or at least perfectly acceptable thing, and one that brings with it a certain charm. How could you not like someone that employs a drum machine and still has that southern/alt-country/whatever edge that he does?

So I went into "Singer's Grave a Sea of Tongues" a relative virgin to his music. I know I'm not supposed do to this, that I'm breaking some taboo. As a music writer, shouldn't I project a voice of authority? Frankly I could give a shit. As a reader, I would rather peruse an honest appraisal of something, rather than to imply a fake understanding. It seems kind of cheap otherwise?

The music here is certainly delicate and has an undeniably easy vibe, albeit one tempered with a hefty amount of darkness, especially towards the later half of the album. The opening track,  "Night Noises," has a comforting feel to it, that inspires the sort of nostalgia that contemporary pop country only dreams of. Progressively though, that gentle vibe lends itself to the intensity part and parcel to his music, and what has undoubtedly made his name. Subsequent tracks play with the dynamic, moving from up beat numbers like "So Far and Here We Are," that have Johnny Cash style rhythm, to slower tunes like "We Are Unhappy" that focus just on Oldham's ever flagging voice and simple, but elegant guitar work.

It's that dynamic that works so very well on this album. The movements from track to track are, again, easy. This isn't hard to listen to or appreciate, and works on virtually every level an album could work; it appeals to a mass audience and engenders a sense of safety in its constituent audience, but without actually being "safe" music in a colloquial sense. Oldham takes chances here throughout the album, be they vocally or in terms of the general tone, and it works every time. There is nothing to not enjoy here.

It's worth noting too, that I listened to this album on my iPod for review, and the especially moody closer, "A Sailors Grave a Sea of Sheep" gave way to the fuzzed out doom shoegaze of "Introduction," the opener from Akuma No Uta by Boris, and it took me a moment to realize the album had changed over. These could not be two more fundamentally different artists, but the tonality to the music, that all-encompassing fog that envelopes and at times protects remains the same from band to band. It's no wonder then that Oldham comes off as a kindred spirit to so many artists, that his work has remained so resonant over the years; his is a timeless song carried by many before and many after. It's his ability to retain his identity throughout both the album and his career that brands him as so very unique, especially within the genre that he tends to skew.

LISTEN: Sapat - "Rock Face"


Indie rock weirdos Sapat are set to release a new record today called A Posthuman Guide to the Advent Calendar Origins of the Peep Show via Sophomore Lounge, which will serve as the follow up to their debut LP was 2007’s Mortise and Tenon. Check out the final track on the new album called "Rock Face":


Buy A Posthuman Guide to the Advent Calendar Origins of the Peep Show at a record shop or online here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

MOVIE MONDAYS: Carrie Neumayer loves movies but HATES STAR WARS!

Photo By Tara Kimes
Carrie Neumayer seems to be busy all the time. A few months ago, she co-founded and successfully ran the first ever Louisville Outskirts Festival, which featured only all-female and female-fronted bands. She also plays in two of Louisville's finest bands, Second Story Man (who are working on a new record!) and Julie of the Wolves. If you haven't heard JOTW yet, check out their song "One By One" from their fantastic debut album Create/Destroy:


Aside from playing music and booking shows she's also a damn good artist. Like I said, she stays busy. But not too busy to answer a few questions about movies because after all, IT'S FUCKING MONDAY!

NN: What was your favorite movie of 2014, and what made it so good?


Carrie Neumayer: My favorite movie of 2014 was Boyhood. Beyond the novelty of the concept of following the same cast for 12 years as they aged, I appreciated the way that the narrative never went to a place that was predictable or emotionally manipulative. It felt very true to life and poignant. A close runner up would be A Most Wanted Man which was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movie. It was also a fun experience seeing the ‘80s movie Ladies and Gentlemen, the Incredible Stains screened this summer at Dreamland.


NN: Surely you watched plenty of horror movies last month. Care to share one that was particularly good?


CN: Honestly, I’m not a big horror movie fan, aside from classics like The Shining or Carrie. However, I love suspenseful movies and crime movies. I saw Gone Girl, which I thought was pretty good. I am really excited about seeing Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler, which both seem pretty scary and suspenseful.


NN: Of all the Star Wars movies, which one is your personal favorite, and why?

CN: Oh man. I’m sure this is blasphemous to many folks, but I don’t really care about Star Wars! I mean, I’ve seen the movies and enjoyed them to a certain degree, but to be totally honest, I’m pretty sure I fell asleep during almost all of them! I don’t like Star Trek either! Sorry!


NN: Can you think of a movie that you loved, but seemingly everybody else hated?


CN: The closest that comes to mind is Meet the Feebles which is Peter Jackson’s take on seedy underbelly of the Muppets! It’s so gross and wrong! I couldn’t stop watching!


NN: Do you have a favorite Christmas or holiday-related movie?



CN: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is probably my favorite! Last year, my in-laws and I watched 9 To 5 together and it was the perfect choice for some holiday togetherness that everyone could agree on.


NN: Lastly, talk about your last experience watching a movie in the theater. What did you see? Was it good? Was the audience well-behaved?


CN: The last movie I saw in the theater was Whiplash and it was excellent. It was about a guy studying jazz drumming at Conservatory under a pretty menacing instructor. I saw it at Baxter Avenue Theater last weekend with my husband. There were probably only a dozen other people there and they were all quiet and attentive. I heard it’s already gone from the theater now (due to low ticket sales) which is a real shame.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LISTEN: Scuzz Master releases debut 4-Song EP

Scuzz Master plays live in Dimension X
Scuzz Master is a new punk band that specializes in writing quality garage pop songs. They kinda sound like what would happen if Kurt Vile decided to sing for JEFF the Brotherhood. Kinda. They just released a self-titled four-song EP that is currently available as a free download. The plan is to eventually release it on CD and cassette, but for now they decided to upload it to bandcamp just to get it out into the universe. Check it out:

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