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This One Goes Up To Eleven: Top Rockin’ Releases of 2007

5 Jan

Fatso Inside

2007: yeah not a bad year at all in which to have lost just a little more of my precious hearing. Here’s hoping I stumble upon another 11 this worthy in 2008!

01. THE HIDDEN HANDThe Resurrection of Whiskey Foote (Southern Lord Records): Wino & co. dug deeeeeep into their Confederate roots to pull out a heavy rock odyssey of Homeric proportions. Though this band may be dust, it’s a heady epitaph they’ve left us with.

02. ELOPE9 Distilled Dreams (Gravitation Records): Hot tip from the folks at WORDY DIVA. Just gorgeous, long-gone stoner ballads from this otherwise hard-rockin’ Swedish trio, who gotta be the best songwriters amongst the current crop of bearded, bell-bottomed Scandinavian bands going. THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES included.

03. AGNES STRANGEStrange Flavour (Rev-Ola): ’07 reissue of a great, lost ’76 UK private press. What STATUS QUO woulda sounded like doing a HAWKWIND/PINK FAIRIES tribute rec! The perfect soundtrack for walking up endless flights of piss-stained stairs in the bit of council-estate West London I spend so many of my waking hours.

04. GREG GINN & THE TAYLOR TEXAS CORRUGATORSBent Edge (SST Records): 70 minutes of ornery, cantankerous walkin’ blues/jazz instrumentals from a man whose name was once synonymous with suburban hardcore punk. A personal reinvention via gtr if ever there was one.

05. BRANT BJORK & THE BROSSomera Sól (Duna Records): Desert monstergroove merchants now turbo-fueled by drummer Alfredo Hernandez. For me, BBB beats QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE every day of the week.

06. FATSO JETSONLive (Cobraside): Best damn hard blues rock band EVER made up of martians posing as overweight humans beings. And finally caught live, with every alien tongue a-lolling. Note: the gatefold LP inner photo (showing off their very personal music shrine) has gotta be the only one on the planet to feature SACCHARINE TRUST’s Worldbroken LP. Yeah!

07. PAT TODD & THE RANKOUTSIDERSOutskirts of Your Heart (Rankoutsider Records): Pat finally put his LAZY COWGIRLS to rest for good, only to come up with the best damn platter (a double CD) of his howlin’ career. Country & Western the way it ought to be played – i.e., with a pint of whiskey in it’s belly and rocked out as if by THE RAMONES. Yikes it’s hot hot hot.

08. STINKING LIZAVETAScream of the Iron Iconoclast (Monotreme Records): The most powerful instrumental doom-jazz trio on the planet today, an utterly gone live experience, and a Philly cultural institution. Better believe this is all steak, and no cheese.

09. GEORGE BRIGMANRags in Skull (Bona Fide Records): I don’t care if this “shoulda been better” – it’s the first new George B. rec in like 2 decades! I’ll take him any way he wants to deliver. Here, the tunes are good and he’s still singing with that bitchen baritone-Zappa voice and playing with that wild Tony McPhee-gtr tone of his. Maryland oughta be proud of this guy’s bedroom prog/blues peculiarisms.

10. MOUNTAINMasters of War (Megaforce): Hot tip from RAY’S REALM. The best heavy rock n roll gtr/voice jumbo combo platter of all time, Mr. Leslie West, returns to shoot life up the backside of a dozen of Mr. Bob Dylan’s tunes. And hey if Dylan was good enuf for THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE, THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS and freakin’ NAZARETH, well then: he’s AOK in my book too! Esp. cool is Leslie’s heavyass rock take on “Mr. Tambourine Man” – amazing, as I betcha this guy worked up genteel, folk-rock versions of some of these very same tunes in the mid-60’s with his first band, THE VAGRANTS. A 1000 times greater a listening experience than you’d ever imagined this boomer could come up with so late in the game.

11. GENTLEMANS PISTOLSGentlemans Pistols (Rise Above Records): Boy did I ever listen to alot of blues-based rock in ’07. And straight forward, UK hard boogie-blues shufflin’ you may think this to be, but their sledge hammer delivery sends this into the cheap seats every goddamn spin – and brings me crawling back on my belly like a kingsnake, day after day. Shit, the singer even attempts to revive the ghost of SAVOY BROWN’s Chris Youlden – like it was cool to do so! Precisely what this fair island needs to get it’s musical shit back on the right track for 2008.

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Brant Bjork Blown

19 Nov

Brant Bjork

What’s with doodling sound-board fuckers who can’t even do a half-assed job? Went to see BRANT BJORK & THE BROS play last night and the sound was fucking abysmal, even by Camden Underworld’s questionable standards. Tech problems delayed the kickoff a bit, but once those were resolved – what was the excuse? Sure, I could hear Alfredo Hernández’ drums and Dylan Roche’s bass – in fact THAT WAS ALL I COULD HEAR. No gtr, barely any vocals. I mean, Brant’s thing is already pretty damn minimal, but whatever gtr flourishes/leads there might’ve been (I imagine there were a few) were completely buried in a miasma of bassy thudhum. And if I didn’t know lots of the words already, I wouldn’t have been able to tell if the man was singing in English or not. It was fucking insulting, both to me and them – as THE BROS were obviously amped for a hot, rockin’ show. I/they didn’t really get off. Blah.

That said: I’m still really taken by BB & THE BROS’ Somera Sól CD on Duna Records from earlier this year. It’s no big departure from that Chicano BAND OF GYPSIES trip they’ve been mining for the past few years, but Alfredo’s big drumming gives the sound a boost of jet-engine proportions. Al rocks, grooves, swings, and sambas, and then matches Brant’s easy spirit, smile for smile. And both Capt. Sean Wheeler (he of Salton Sea’s THROW RAG) and the great Mario Lalli (FATSO JETSON, YAWNING MAN, etc.) pop up for neat vocal cameos. Some of you may be put off by Brant’s spoken/sung stonerisms, but listen closer: he’s been gradually expanding his worldview and color palette as of late. He seems genuine in his singing, and for that alone he sits well with me. Not one to be denied.

A way more satisfying night was spent at the RISE ABOVE RECORDS showcase a few weeks back at the same club put together by label-honcho/CATHEDRAL singer Lee Dorrian. Got to see a rebuilt but still mythical LEAF HOUND, whose early 70’s Growers of Mushroom LP remains the single best substitute for Fire & Water-era FREE you’ll ever hear. But also on the bill were THE EARTHLING SOCIETY (prime-era HAWKWIND by way of ernest HÜSKER DÜ), LITMUS (prime-era HAWKWIND by way of an alt. rock QUEENS OF THE STONEAGE) and GENTLEMAN’S PISTOLS as well. The PISTOLS were the best, loudest, and wildest, and one of the few Brit bands going willing to dive headfirst into the nation’s classic tradition of bludgeoning boogie-blues rock. They’ve got a singer with a sense of humour who can actually sing, a talented lead gtr player who looks eerily like the late Paul Kossoff, and a hot new Rise Above CD that catches em in fine form.

But the whole shebang was totally reaffirming. An entire evening of heavy, hard-hitting UK underground rock – in London no less! It just ain’t too easy to come by anymore, in these dark days of BABYSHAMBLES & MAXIMO PARK overblown pop-pabulum. Lee Dorrian, we at Pig State Recon thank you dearly.

Thanks to Oberknoppenfuhrer for the photo of Brant's tattoos