Why should you care what I think? I haven't the faintest fucking idea. Now that that's out of the way, let's proceed.
I could have a list called "the input queue" but it would be hundreds of records long. I buy records constantly based on a huge number of wildly divergent lines of interest (and then there are the promo freebies, too), but then I go off on a job somewhere for weeks or months and they pile up. It may take me a YEAR or more (way more!) to get to some of them but I'm always listening. (Although frankly, after finishing one of those big 12-hour-a-day-6-day-a-week production jobs, sometimes all I want to do is come home and settle down with a book and listen to passing traffic for a while.)
I'll add to this list completely randomly when I've got the time. For now, here's some of the latest discs that have turned my crank (or not). [Back to Jack Endino's Home Page if you don't need this crap.]
One of the greatest records ever made, although I
might be am surely the only person on the planet who believes this. (Well, maybe Rob Morgan. Hi Rob!) Forget all the other Tubes records except possibly their first one. I even saw them on the tour for this record, and they slayed, killed, ripped. Prairie Prince and Mingo Lewis, on drums and congas respectively, were a sight to behold. I thought with this record they had taken it so far and so weird that they could not fail to save the world. Think Zappa-esque, but still rock and roll... except they do a wonderful Beefheart cover here. The record is slick, cheesy, bizarre, quirky, sarcastic, nervous, relentlessly catchy and sounds like the product of too much speed and LSD and studio time. What's not to like? So of course there was nowhere to go but down after this, completely losing the plot, selling themselves out utterly to the evil whispering of the A+R people, chasing "radio hits" (they actually did get a couple with their next three albums) and pretty much ending their career as their records got blander and weaker. My disillusionment and bitterness at the time was intense. But this record stands as the apex of their original concept. One of my top ten "Desert Island Discs". Never reissued anywhere on CD until just a couple years ago. My vinyl copy is autographed by the band...
Nice record, honestly. It was perfect for doing my taxes to. But ENOUGH with the goddamn Autotune on the vocals, OK? You think you're getting away with it, but you're not. I can fucking hear it.
And three more years go by... why in heavens would I ever want to 'listen' to 'music'? I could be out doing something positive, like dismembering people.
Sorry I haven't added to this in 3 years... I guess this part of my site is officially dormant, so I have removed most of the links to it. Congratulations on finding it anyway.
This section of the site has become pretty pathetic; I work so much lately that recreational listening is mostly nonexistent, therefore no reviews. Oh well, it seemed like a good idea back when I started this website. Proceed back to my Home Page, I'd suggest, unless you want to read old stuff.
The conditions alluded to below continue. No time, no listening, so no reviews. Sorry folks! Heck, I have records I bought in the 80's that I haven't got around to listening to yet... I guess there were a couple I've checked out lately, like Queens of the Stone Age, Wellwater Conspiracy, the new Green Pajamas disc and some records by Brazil's Mutantes. And the new Hellacopters, Turbonegro, Nitwitz and Bluebottle Kiss records. I liked 'em all; that'll have to do for "reviews" for now!
I must apologize to everyone for not adding to this page in 7 months. A few months ago I had a ton of new records I was going to review, and then I got too busy to listen to any of 'em, a condition which still persists. They are just sitting here in a growing pile. When I'm too busy making records, I don't have time to listen to other records...
My God. Another excellent NMN record. This is the best one since 0+2=1. No time to go into detail, but I am extremely pleased with this.
It gives me great pleasure to review this because for once I had practically nothing to do with it. In fact it gives me great pleasure period. Mark was kind enough to send me a promo CD, hot off the presses. It's great. Buy it. I think I like it better than their last record (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I recorded) perhaps because I can actually listen to it fresh, though I've heard several of these songs live in the past months. Jim Dickenson's production is very fitting, a step up technically from some of the earlier records (hey, they had me record the last one in, literally, a basement!) but at no time is it "slick". Think lo-tech without lo-fi. Very nice "live" vibe here, reminds me of their excellent Terrastock gig I saw a few months ago. David Bianco's very capable mixing is pretty faithful to the Mudhoney "sound", though more compression was used overall than I prefer. I would have turned up the guitars a wee bit more but this is a very minor quibble; and anyway, the music itself has a lot of space in it to hear the drums, and the actual guitar parts leave holes for the songs to breathe. Nice to hear Danny's drums with a "big", but still fairly natural, drum sound. They opted to spend real record company money on this one for the first time, and you can hear it in the quality room sound on the drums. I find myself in pleasant agreement with the overall technical aspects of this record. While the songs by and large are mid-tempo, the band plays them very enthusiastically. Since I did three of their records, I feel I got more than my fair share, so I'm pretty jazzed to see they found another producer who understood them and didn't try to overproduce 'em. Whew!
So will this record finally put them over the top? Who knows? I don't hear a "single" anywhere, but they are planning their first full US Tour in years, a step they regrettably skipped for the last record. I hear Warners is even behind them on this one a bit more. It's gonna be interesting to see what happens. Go, team...
OK, guilty pleasure time here.
A confession: I grew up with good ol' Zeppelin, and always had immense respect for Jimmy's production abilities, and the way he could layer sounds. In fact, it was while listening to Zep records on headphones in my parents' basement that I first began wanting to be a producer/engineer myself. After not listening to any of their stuff for a decade, I got the box set and recently listened on some big studio speakers, and found myself marveling afresh at the recording techniques used, particularly on the drums. Jimmy used lots of room miking on Bonzo's drums, and you can really hear it on Physical Graffiti and the later records. (Though, sonically, I favor the fourth album.) When I was learning to record, we had only small, dead rooms for drums around here; the bigger rooms/studios were too expensive for the embryonic Seattle indy-music scene, so I had to evolve other methods. (Having to squeeze whole bands with big amps into the same small room as the drummer didn't help.) I was a few years into my career before I was able to take advantage of nice drum rooms, and use techniques other than close-miking. When I heard that Steve Albini was going to work on this record, I was pretty excited (and jealous, the bastard!) because Steve has always had interesting ways of recording drums and dealing with room miking. It doesn't always work in my humble opinion, but when it does it's great, and the idea of Steve and Jimmy putting their heads together was pretty intriguing. (Steve, as ever, is credited with the engineering; Page and Plant with production.) Another thing, is that Jimmy, in the post-Zeppelin years, has handed himself over to some of the worst production teams imaginable: on the Firm albums, his solo album, and the Coverdale-Page record. Good people technically, but sonically just wrong. Sterile, sterile, sterile! Modern, clean, safe productions. And that's one thing Zep records were NOT. Sure can't say that about Steve's records either, so...
Initially I liked this, then I got briefly annoyed with it, then I got Sucked In. Now I like it. It is a bit meandering at many points, but far less self-indulgent than that "UnLedded" atrocity of last year. (That one is outta here ASAP.) I may be stretching my credibility here, but I've been waiting for this record since 1980. It is better than the last two or three Zep records. These guys always sort of had their own pretty wierd musical universe, not really coinciding with anyone else's, and that continues. (Those who tried to imitate 'em always ended up looking stupid.) With the best Zep stuff, you had to listen a few times, and even now I occasionally hear stuff in those old records that I never noticed before, even though I wore out multiple vinyl copies of 'em before I was twenty. This record bears repeated listening, although they could have shortened some songs and tightened the arrangements, but that's always been a Page-Plant weakness. Sonically, and performance-wise, it's pretty cool, and all the songs are interesting. I am shocked beyond words (cantcha tell?) that it is this good. As far as I'm concerned Steve can record all their records from now on. (But only if he makes Jimmy tune his guitar more often OK?)
(Heck... who has time to listen to anything?)
A surprise. Recommended to me by someone who read my review of Prodigy below. Mr. Richard D. James does a total, dead-on Prodigy parody here! It's funny as hell as he chants "I want your soul, I will eat your soul" over and over, he just destroys them. The whole record is kind of whimsical - this guy doesn't take himself too seriously, some of the wierd noises were obviously meant to make me laugh which they did. I'll have to check out more of his stuff.
Funny thing is that the Prodigy record has started to get stuck in my head finally, at least a couple tracks. Know what though? "Smack My Bitch Up", "Firestarter", and at least 3 other songs on that record employ a rhythmic pattern that I have for years referred to half-seriously as the GRUNGE DRUMBEAT. It is essentially the same as Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick", also Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock", the first song on Pearl Jam's "Vs", and all the instrumental sections of Sabbath's "War Pigs". You can hear a million other examples on the radio right now. I never heard it much in rock until the late eighties, and suddenly everyone started using this rhythm. People's response to it now is almost Pavlovian; for instance the band I just did, The Day I Fell Down, had ONE song with this rhythm, and that was the one that all the label people insisted had to be "the single"...
Tony Slug played me this (slayed me w/this?) in Holland, but the band was from Norway on an obscure label. Now, Sluggo (no relation) from SF's AIN'T sent me this U.S. copy, wouldn't you know it but Long Gone John at SFTRI realized that someone here had to put it out. Hilarious, totally slammin' punk rock with some of the most offensive lyrics I've heard in years. Fave song title: "The Midnight NAMBLA". They also cover "Mobile Home" by 1979 Seattle punk legends The Lewd...
The band's manager (bless her heart) sent me the new Fu after she saw my review below. I was thrilled of course, but I have to say what I think. First, the news; the band has one new guitarist, and a new drummer, the guy who used to play in Kyuss; this should be a very good thing. The record was produced by White Zombie guitarist J. Yuenger; this should also be a good thing. Actually, I like it, but I hate to say it, they cleaned it up too much. The production bugs me a bit: the drum sound is so dry and sterile it has no power at all. The drums sound tiny and weak, like little toys; I don't get it. Everything else sounds great though, and there's definitely some good tunes. Played loud enough, it sounds fine; I bet that's how they mixed it, cranked up in a large control room... oh well, everyone's a critic, right? I'm kicking myself that I couldn't see 'em last time they were here.
OK, I do like this, but not as much as the media have instructed me to. This record has been getting raves all over, but I wasn't born yesterday; this usually means the previous record was a great record that did not get the recognition it deserved, and so people were primed to like this one. Methinks this one is a bit overrated; I've listened maybe 10 times now, and as I sit here I still can't bring any of the songs to mind. But every time I listen to it I do enjoy it, there's a real intelligence at work, and some great production and sonics. Doesn't sound exactly like anyone else I've heard either. But I'm gonna go out and get their previous record "The Bends" as soon as I can.
I'm trying to be a good consumer and follow orders from the musico-industrial complex here, but so far all I hear in this is very loud background music, though the last song is sort of songlike. Don't believe the hype.
The guy's liner notes seem pretty sincere, so how come the record sounds like lightweight cheese... played by machines? Some of it is 1977 disco cheese exactly, done with no apparent irony! Other parts sound like movie background music, which I have no need to own on CD. There's a couple of really sad attempts at "rock". It's the first record in a while that actually made me cringe with embarrassment. I'm just stumped, how can anyone take this guy seriously for a second, especially now that he says he's going to go "rock"? There is not an atom of rock on this record, and yet... it's one of the, er, whitest records I've ever heard! Arrgh... snort... the last song is making me homicidal. It would seem that I'm not doing the right drugs to enjoy this.
This I like, though some parts irritate, intentionally I'm sure. What sets this apart from the above two records is that it drips with emotion and personality. Call it "electronica" or whatever the term du jour is, but there's clearly a PERSON behind this and he's PISSED OFF, you can feel it. This one actually has its own musical identity, what a concept! Even the annoying parts are intriguing enough to make me listen again. Made me want to go find his previous record, "Maxinquaye".
This is what heavy guitar rock is coming to these days. These two records are both pretty awesome, but totally retro and lo-fi. On the one hand we have Fu Manchu with possibly the Heaviest, sludgiest sounding record I have ever heard, which is saying something. Van Conner from the Screaming Trees told me about this band. Very obvious influences: Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath, and more Black Sabbath, and still more Blue Cheer. Stylistically and even sonically, it sounds like 1970, as though everything since then never happened. Shamelessly heavy pre-metal that, if it wasn't for the vintage style/sound, would sound kind of, er, grunge! So much bottom end on the guitars it's funny, you should see it on my spectrum analyzer, and even the drums are distorted a bit. The drummer sounds just like Cheer's Paul Whaley. I put this on big studio speakers and crank it and people always want to go buy it that instant (or else they puke... ). The catch is that it is mostly impact (lots), but not much depth since the style is so stylized as to be pretty predictable! Totally textbook-formulaic; but the formula they've unearthed is enjoyable and hasn't been used like this in decades. A guilty pleasure. Makes Kyuss sound modern, original and very lightweight. I think there are two previous albums but I can't find 'em anywhere.
And in this corner, the Hellacopters are a Swedish band Tony Slug turned me on to when I was last in Europe. Just found a copy of the CD in an HMV in Vancouver, BC. Likewise retro/derivative but pretty impressive. Influences here are early Detroit punk, Stooges/MC5, plus Radio Birdman, and the Fluid when they were at their best. Yeah, I know, we're all pretty sick of hearing about this genre ad nauseam but these guys do it about as good as it gets. Incredibly high energy, way over the top. And the record sounds pretty fucked up - everything is massively distorted including the drums! (And the drummer's better than Keith Moon!) The total effect is AMAZING on small speakers, and, well, pretty dreadful on studio monitors... Again I can't imagine anyone I know ever letting me make a record that sounded like this. But I'm in awe. Totally retro but still pretty unbelievable. Some titles: "(Gotta get some action) Now!", "Random Riot", "Spock in my Rocket"... Someone better release this in the U.S.
Hard to kick people when they're down, but am I the only one to notice that this particular Emperor has no clothes? There was a time when I cared about this band, the last of their kind, resolutely anticommercial headbangers that succeeded because they found their formula and stuck to it. A bit bonehead but I just had to take my hat off to 'em. I enjoyed "Puppets", and even "Justice" in spite of (because of?) the superdry, wierd production, 'cause the songs were still interesting. The "Black" album however signalled to me the beginning of the end, with a WELL-WORN, TIME-HONORED PATTERN IN ROCK HISTORY: expen$ive $ounding production and way too much studio time squeezed the life out of the songs. "Justice" was dry, but had some feeling to it; the arrangements were typically quirky; it still rocked. "Black" was not dry, but sterile; everything was so PERFECT that after the initial "wow" of the sheer sound of it, it just failed to satisfy me. Under the gloss, it seemed empty. OK, Metallica's trademarks used to be Hetfield's raw vocals, the overbearing chug-chug guitars, the hard/fast playing, and the strange, convoluted song arrangements, with a million parts, that you'd laugh at if any other band tried 'em. On the "Black" album, all these things were SANITIZED, and they predictably enough had a huge hit record. Make no mistake, this was a POP record pretending to be a metal record; that's why the guitars are mixed so damn low. I've noticed that this particular trick usually only works once in a rock band's career: when the things people originally liked about the band begin to be replaced with PRODUCTION, the radio programmers will fall for it and have their big party, but eventually the fans will see through it and move on. So now we have "Load", which, gee, gosh, isn't selling as well. Slightly more human-sounding production but a real, real dull batch of songs. I listened to it a bunch, forcing myself, waiting for it to "kick in", y'know, and finally I realized that it just wasn't going to happen! I wanted to like it; Metallica going 70's riff-rock seemed like a possibly OK idea; I knew they were Budgie fans after all... but the riffs are pretty uninspired, all of 'em. They couldn't even get a decent distorted-vocal sound (late trend-jumping?) on "Poor Twisted Me" -- James sounds like he has a bad lisp. (ASK me about distorted-vocal sounds...) Embarrassing. It does not bode well that their next album is being billed as other, unfinished-at-the-time songs from the same sessions that produced this one. Still, I'll probably buy it...
This band is from Switzerland, the part of it that speaks French, but most of their lyrics are English, not that it matters. This band has been lumped in with the so-called 80's industrial stuff, partly because Wax Trax was the US licensee for their label at one time. Three guys: vocals, keys and drums, but they have a big, big sound. This is a Euro version of heavy industrial-type rock: alternately atmospheric and totally slammin', sometimes both at the same time, without that tiresome FASCIST/NIHILIST/MACHO flavor so popular here in the U.S. (You know, Ministry, NIN, ooohh, scary!!) It sounds like there's guitars sometimes but they're probably samples. Another Mosimann production; Roli, wherever you are, you kill me. He's practically the 4th member of the band, having worked with the band from the beginning. Years ago, passing through Chicago with Skin Yard, someone we knew at Wax Trax gave me their (first? second?) album "L'Eau Rouge" (Red Water) and I didn't like it (still don't), it was grating and irritating for some reason. Years later, we have this, another totally brilliant argument for that lost concept of "Artist Development"! Recently picked up the album before this one, "T.V. Sky", and from what I can tell so far it is also pretty good. This band sounds like nobody else.
How could I forget these guys? From Victoria, British Columbia comes this unbelievably hard-working band which has been playing gigs in Seattle since their days as a two-piece in 1985. Their live shows have never failed to take off the top of my head. Their integrity, monstrous chops, standards of quality, and complete indifference to any and all "hipness" and "trends", their complete indy ethos (rivalled only by Fugazi) and the fact that they have never failed to put out a record that is at the very least interesting and at best amazing, earns them a special place in my heart. Seriously, they've just refused to play the game, and just go their merry way, ignoring the outside world, sitting out the periodic major label/media feeding frenzies, making their own records which they have retained ownership of, thank you very much. Calling it punk would be a vast oversimplification. If its punk you want, check out "Wrong", their most relentless record, and you'll wonder where this band has been all your life. But my fave is the follow-up, "0+2=1", a record I disliked after "Wrong" but ended up liking more than ever. It is... the most sarcastic, gleefully black-humored, spiteful, lyrically and musically twisted (yet so quotable!), bombastic record I've heard in a while. (Whenever I think of the song "Every Day I Start to Ooze" I just lose it.) This band in fact rocks extremely hard but there's an intelligence in them that never lets up, and like many of my faves they sound like nobody else.
An unexpected surprise. Iggy has remixed this legendary proto-punk record (1973?) for a CD re-reissue. Only been out a week or so, but Crider snagged a copy and brought it down to the studio. Verdict: I approve. Know what old Ig did? This "remix" sounds just as fucked up as the original, and yet... better. It most definitely is NOT "cleaned up" in any sense of the word. What it is, is it just makes more sense, somehow; things are clearer, without necessarily sounding clearer... There's guitar stuff I never noticed before. But all the things I would expect of a modern remix, y'know, lets add some highs to the drums, crank up the kick and snare, BALANCE everything, NOPE! If I tried to make a record that sounded like this now, everyone from band to record label would have a heart attack and probably sue me. You can even hear the unbelievable amounts of analog distortion in the original recordings. Awesome.
What this record also is, is LOUD. Literally. I was comparing it to a bunch of standard heavy rock CD's I had with me (like SG, AIC, Prong, Nirv, even Bjork), using a CD player hard wired to the mixing board at Hanzsek Audio. "Raw Power" came up 4 to 6 dB louder than the loudest CD I could find! (6 dB=twice as loud.) Seriously! As an engineer I don't know how the hell they did this (a clue: no kick drum = no loud transients to bring down the maximum average level), but the liner notes make clear that Iggy insisted on it. Every mastering engineer in the country is soon going to hate hearing about this record. Talk about preserving your punk cred - I get a big smile just describing it.
Pretty obscure, I know. This is a choice little power trio whose singer/guitarist, Vic, used to be in a UK band called MILK (not to be confused with the currently existing band of that name.) I was a big Milk fan even though they only put out a couple of EP's and one full-length CD (released in the States on Link) so when I heard Vic had a new band I was interested. Saw one gig in London that blew my socks off, pestered their manager for the CD when it finally came out. A familiar story: band makes great record with cool producer, record label goes belly up before the record can be released, band somehow manages to get the record back and releases it themselves much later. The producer was Roli Mosimann who I think used to be in the Swans; I have been a fan of his production ever since I got into the Young Gods (about which more later). A damn fine job he did on this one.
This record kicks my ass all over the room; like most of my faves it took a few listens to get into, but now every song is lodged in my head. Crunchy, riffy stuff but owing nothing to any other currently popular branch of heavy rock, except that Roli puts a vaguely, er, "industrial" sort of raw edge on the sounds that keeps things safely out of the metal zone. Vaguely Prong-ish without the solos and pick-squeals; tough and memorable vocals without ANY of that currently-popular excess vibrato that makes me so homicidal. Can't really compare to anything else, and coming from me that's a high compliment. Good luck, Vic, I hope you get to make another record.
Haven't cared for a lot of the latest Sub Pop stuff because it has seemed to me to be too reactive or something; sort of anti-rock, or perhaps they have a paranoid corporate fear of the label being pigeonholed again. Whatever. I've had this a while, and a couple initial listens convinced me that I should listen to it again sometime in the future. When the band came thru town, I missed it. Now I'm kicking myself. There's a couple cuts here that haven't grabbed me yet, but the rest do in a big way. The production didn't slam my face into the table top but with a couple more listens I found myself sitting up and taking notice that there was something cool going on here. Jon Poneman told me that they "rock his world". Now I have been sucked in. The vocals are great, neither overbearing nor cheesy (I'm pretty hard on singers which is odd considering one of my faves is Lemmy) and the guitarist has a sound - very thick and swirling - that I enjoy greatly. And the overall level of originality is very pleasing.
I happened to see a press kit for this band. These guys like to glam out a bit, and have tons of tatoos, some makeup, etc; I don't give a shit as long as they do indeed rock. But here's a classic case of reviewer stupidity: there was more than one reviewer who felt it necessary to mention the New York Dolls (one of the most overrated bands in history, IMHO) and even compare them musically - proving that some reviewers actually don't listen to the record! This band's music has about as much to do with the Dolls (or any other glam-ish band you can name) as the hair on my ass. Bravo to SP for putting this out. (Late-breaking news 9/97: Atlantic has just reissued this record. Hope it gets another chance now.)
I miss Glass Eye. But this will have to do. Anyone remember them? Texas band that sounded like no one else, period. I saw their very first Seattle show, must have been '86, and bought their first EP "Marlo" off the stage afterwards. Five years later my band played a show with them in Chicago (a strange bill, that) and they seemed to be a bit tired; they said they were in the process of "negotiating" with a major label but of course I never heard anything more about them after that. Well, here's Kathy McCarty, one of the prime movers of Glass Eye, with help from Brian Beattie, another such prime mover thereof, playing an entire CD of Daniel Johnston songs -- and it sounds like a Glass Eye record, only better! I'm not sure what this says about me but this blows my mind. And I've never cared in the slightest about Daniel Johnston, really. These songs are good, but with that wierd GE spin added to 'em...Amazing, really. Surprised the hell out of me. Sat for over a year before I listened to it. If these two make any more records, I want 'em.
Anyone know if the Glass Eye "Huge" album ever came out on CD?
No excuses possible here; guilty pleasure of the year. This smokes. Checked it out at a Tower Records listening station just on a whim, and about died of surprise. I gave up on ol' ZZ in about, er, 1975, whenever "Fandango" came out. "Eliminator" was a pleasant surprise in the 80's, but sounds dated now. So 20 years after I last gave a shit, here's this record with real acoustic drums, crunchy (very) production, and tons of squanky guitar just oozing all over the place. Not a synth in sight - its a damn well produced Power Trio album. It's like they took up where they left off being a rock band, but now they all have like 50 per cent more brain cells and sound very 90's. All I have to do is play the first 30 seconds of this to anyone in the studio and they go "What the fuck is this?" and refuse to believe me when I tell them. One of the most unlikely comebacks I've heard in my life. (Caution: some of the lyrics are kind of silly but what the hell, just listen to how he sings 'em.)
Dave Crider of the Mono Men agrees with me on this. So does Rob from Zipgun. I have not lost my mind.
Got their first album "Comfort" in '92, and didn't really think much of it, sort of generic alterna-sludge. Put it on the "rainy day" pile and forgot about it. Well, here comes their 3rd album. I applaud whoever at Slash was willing to keep this band around long enough to develop into something. This is what the endangered concept of "artist development" is all about. Failure has risen from the primordial ooze to become something strange and different and much, much improved. (Now I have to find their 2nd album, "Magnified", somewhere.) This record stymied me at first - its pace is plodding (but very, very deliberately so) and it's too long to quickly get a handle on (the one major flaw). But like most of my fave records, after several listens I began to get sucked in; one song stuck in my head, then another... Description: plodding tempos, loud drums, slightly odd melodies and lyrics, an intricate and very pop approach to the instrumentation, yet pretty damn heavy too. Ponderously powerful pop. The singer/guitarist Ken Andrews records/mixes it himself, and he might put me out of a job. Love his drum sound.