Friday, October 31, 2008

Six Finger Satellite

I was recently contacted by Richard Pelletier himself and was kindly asked to remove the links to the 6FS rarities. They are available for full download on the 6FS myspace. Please visit the space and drop these guys some funds. According to Richard, the band is finishing up their new album and are planning a tour this coming spring/summer. I'm sure the band could use all the extra funds they can get their hands on. Also, the mp3 rips available on their site are a much higher quality than the ones I upped. Sorry for any inconvenience. The Sub Pop albums and live set are all still available.

For the most part, the world has all but forgotten Six Finger Satellite. All four of their full length releases have been out of print for longer than they ever were in print for. One of the band's main members, John Maclean, is now far better known as DFA's dark-disco king, The Juan Maclean. Well, it appears, that after close to a decade of inactivity, that Six Finger Satellite may be getting their due. Skyscraper Magazine has just published a full length feature on the tumultuous career of the band, which can be read in full at the bottom of this posting.

I stumbled across SFS sometime around 2001, which was also their final year as a band, albeit an almost completely different lineup from the initial incarnation of the band. At the time I was getting into groups like Brainiac and Trans Am, who coexisted at the same time as SFS, not to mention shared a somewhat similar aesthetic. A friend of mine recommended that I try and seek out some SFS albums. Now, because all of the albums were out of print, it took me a while to find a used copy of one of their albums. After a few months of patience I stumbled across a copy of Paranormalized for about 7 or 8 dollars. My infatuation with the band was immediate. I recall playing the album for anyone of my friends who would listen, and managed to turn a few of them on to this underrated and overlooked band of the 90s. Over the next year I was able to track down all 4 of their full lengths and even a 7 inch or two. By this point, the disco-dance-punk movement was in full swing, and groups like The Rapture, Radio 4, Liars and The Faint were all the rage. Most of the groups remained indebted to the initial blast of danceable post-punk; Gang of Four, ESG and PiL, all of whom had laid the foundation for this "new" movement of the early 00's. Surely some of these groups had to have been influenced by the jittery punk rhythms of SFS. Some of these bands must have witnessed SFS live at some point, or even copped one of their albums from an older sibling. These new wave of bands sure weren't letting anyone know if that was indeed the case. It seemed, for a moment, that the band would slip through fingers of the mainstream music media. There does, however, seem to be a bit more recognition for the band nowadays. First there were rumours of a new album, which appear to be true, and now there is a full length article in the widespread, well read Skyscraper. Is the band finally about to get their due?

The Pigeon Is The Most Popular Bird (1993) Sub Pop
Much more mature than their Weapon EP debut but still lacking the precision bite of the next few albums, Pigeon is a great entry point for anyone looking to get into SFS. The album was recorded by Bob Weston (Shellac's bass player and producer extraordinaire) and definitely showcases his penchant for a chunkier sounding rhythm section and explosive drum sound. In fact, Shellac was so impressed with this debut that they ended up naming one of their EPs after them, The Middle Finger is the Most Popular Bird. The band does share a kinship with Shellac as well as other "futurist rock" groups of the time like Brainiac or Unwound, who would also go on to near obscurity and cult status after disbanding. The main tracks on Pigeon are separated by short instrumental tracks that veer between short garage-y numbers and weirdo synth squalls. Personally I find them to get tedious after a while and cause the momentum of the album to start and stall. The next two albums would not suffer the same fate.


Severe Exposure (1995) Paranormalized (1996) Sub Pop

Sister albums Severe Exposure and Paranormalized came out within a year of each other (1995 and 1996 respectively) and are worth examining together. Both albums featured a different lineup from the original incarnation of the band and were recorded at the band's newly built studio. The band had found it's focus, and Severe Exposure and Paranormalized were the results of a band who had fully immersed themselves their craft. Both albums are near-relentless in their assualts on the listener. Tracks rip out of the gate with metallic, harsh and ringing guitars and are backed up by menacing synth workouts, which would be pushed louder into the mix upon each successive release. The vocals are now spit out and shrouded in a layer of almost indecipherable distortion, giving the two albums an incredibly menacing feel. The rhythm section of SFS swings rapidly back and forth like a razor blade pendulum. The Big Black influence is strong on these two albums but so is the obvious debt to the dementia of early Chrome, which can be found in the slower paced tracks like Coke and Mirrors (Paranormalized). The track is a disco beat at half speed backed up by lazy, sleazy synths. A perfect soundtrack to a futuristic sci-fi horror flick taking place on the moon. Moments of lunar calm are very rare on these two albums but do offer a welcome and brief respite from the relentless, abrasive whiplash assault of most of the tracks.



Law Of Ruins (1998) Sub Pop

Law of Ruins' album opener, Race Against Space, contains the same bite of the previous albums, but the clanging, distorted guitars are now sharing the stage with dance floor synths. The vocals still shred and frighten but are pushed a little farther back into the mix. The band, with the help of new producer, James Murphy (the dude behind DFA and LCD Soundsystem), are clearly going for a moodier atmosphere, rather than just pummeling the listener over the head for half and hour. There were a few complaints about the rhythm section being decimated (read article below), but I think that those are largely unfounded. The bass is incredibly prominent on all the tracks, and the drums, though not as thunderous as they once were, still deliver the necessary punch. This time around, the band seem to be dwelling in a kraut hole throughout this record. Sea of Tranquility Parts 1 and 2 find the band hammering out a repetitive riff and drum beat for close to 12 minutes, meanwhile, eerie synths weave in and out of the mix. 6FS were really on to something with Law Of Ruins, it's just too bad that they were never able to capitalize on it. John MacLean, who was largely responsible for the new direction of the band, would soon leave, causing the rest of the band to scramble for a replacement. A fifth album was recorded, Half Control, but would never see the light of day. Apparently, though, Load Records has plans to release it in the near future.



Weapon EP (1992) Sub Pop
The Weapon EP was the demo that 6FS initially sent to Sub Pop. The label was enamoured enough to sign them and release the EP as is. Hearing it now, it's no wonder they were picked up by Sub Pop, as the EP sounds like a hybrid between the Jesus Lizard and Tad. By 1994, most of Sub Pop's "grunge" bands had dissolved or been signed to major labels, so it makes sense that, after hearing this demo, they signed the band up right away. I'm sure to Sub Pop's surprise, 6FS moved away from this sound rather rapidly with their ensuing albums.

DOWNLOAD WEAPON EP HERE--->taken down by request

Machine Cuisine 10" (1994) Sub Pop, and Companion Cassette (Self Released)
Here is what Trouser Press had to say about Machine Cuisine and it's accompanying mail-order only cassette...

"After collapsing behind a swirl of drug rumors, the band re-entered orbit with Machine Cuisine, a conceptual mini-album of eight songs on 10-inch vinyl. Temporarily restaffed as a scientific guitar-free trio, 6FS plays heartless Germanic proto-techno with amoral undertones. The pulsing flow is about as warm as Ian Curtis' ashtray, but the construction is genuinely clever and dryly hilarious. Robotic vocals revisit Devo's neurotic erotica, stoking the fires of computer desire on the opening "Love (via Machine)"; catchy electro-pops like "The Magic Bus" (an original) and "The Greek Arts" modulate G-funk style synth over tight Kraftwerk rhythms and intentionally trite lyrics. (The mail-order Machine Cuisine Companion cassette footnotes the platter with MX-80 Sound-inspired jams, a Suicide cover and much more Moog madness.)"

DOWNLOAD MACHINE CUISINE HERE--->taken down by request


Massive Cocaine Seizure 7" (1996) Sub Pop
This was the last gasp of the Severe Exposure/Paranormalized era. Either one of these two tracks would have fit nicely on either album.


Clone Theory 12" (2000) Load Records

Recorded in 1996 after their Paranormalized album had been complete for Sub Pop, Clone Theory is made up almost entirely of electronics. Some of the tracks almost come of as extended pieces of the interludes on Pigeon. The album would be released 4 years later on Load Records.

DOWNLOAD CLONE THEORY HERE--->taken down by request
Thanks to COD-Music for the upload

Live--Grand Rapids, Michigan (10-15-95) Bootleg

As an added bonus, I've included a live set from a show in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1995. The quality isn't the hottest but the manic energy of their live show still shines through pretty well. The setlist is entirely comprised of tracks from Severe Exposure and Paranormalized.


As promised above, here is the entire 6FS article from the most recent issue of Skyscraper (scanned, without permission, by yours truly. Apologies, Skyscraper).
Note: Click on the images to enlarge them. Right click to save.

Note: All 4 full lengths were ripped and uploaded by yours truly. Everything else (except for Clone Theory) copped from Soulseek over the last several years. All of these albums, singles and EPs are well out of print. Spread the seed. Also, there are several singles that I couldn't find on the interweb, namely...

Declaration Of Techno-Colonial Independence 2x7" split with Green Magnet School

Rabies (Baby's Got The) / Mistaken Street / Swing Alone 12" (White label 12") and

Man Behind The Glasses" (b/w "War Crimes" & "Dark Companion") [a.k.a. "Live At The A.C.I."] 7"

If anyone has these, please share 'em.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Expressway Vs. Post Rock

If I were to prescribe to Sam's definitions of the three stages of Post Rock (and I do) then I would have caught on to the genre midway through the second stage, with Tortoise's Millions Now Living Will Never Die being the launching pad. Post Rock to me, at the time, meant Tortoise and it's many offshoots (Isotope 217, Chicago Underground Duo 217 etc.), Cul De Sac, Gastr Del Sol and the then burgeoning Constellation Records scene (Do Make Say Think, Godspeed! You Black Emperor and A Silver Mount Zion). In all honesty, most likely due to the ignorance of the press I was reading at the time (Spin, Alternative Press and Rolling sue me! I lived in a small town where the only outlet to new music were in these music rags), I had no idea there was a post rock scene that preceded this North American one, much less on the other side of the pond. It wasn't until a few years later when I got into UK groups like Seefeel that I found that post rock was originally a British-coined term denoting, as Simon Reynolds (the man behind all this confusion) put it, "using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes, using guitars as facilitators of timbres and textures rather than riffs and powerchords." Well that sure widens the scope of this already confusing genre tag.

This brings us to the album in question--Scorn's Evanescence, which I am still becoming acquainted with, and which was recommended by thee Post Rock Ombudsman himself, to be reviewed by me for Post Rocktoberfest. After several listens over the last few weeks, I still wonder how this fits into the post rock category. I hear more in common with dub, electronic and industrial musics than I do with the mainstays in the post rock genre, or with rock music in general. Most of this album sounds as if it were created on a computer or in a lab rather than by a band using their rock instruments in a forward-thinking manner. In fact, Evanescence sounds a hell of a lot like fellow UK act Meat Beat Manifesto and their two albums, Subliminal Sandwich and Actual Sounds and Voices, and who have always been associated with the industrial-rock scene of the early-mid 90s. Need proof? Check it...



Both groups share a penchant for simplistic, dubby grooves, slowly spoken vocals, creeping guitars and synths, and dark, industrial-like noises and tics. So why is that MBM were never slotted into the post rock category? And why was Scorn ever put there in the first place? Both bands created similar works during the same era and in the same part of the world. Perhaps this is what always confused me and many others when having to define post rock and when to assign certain groups into the wide scope of the genre. Some groups made the post rock cut while others were left in the dust.

If you take a look at the current crop of noise rock mongers like Hair Police or Wolf Eyes and place Simon's definition of post rock over top, it becomes a perfect match. Here we have a great example of groups who use rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes. Yet no one dares call Hair Police post rock even though, by definition, they fit the mold perfectly. So are we now in the fourth stage of post rock? Should the "third stage" of post rock (ie. the boring, instrumental "dog shit" rock of Explosions in the Sky and latter day Mogwai) even be included under the post rock umbrella? If Scorn and Meat Beat Manifesto rely on the studio more than rock instruments are they still post rock? Unanswerable questions, really.

The point of writing this was to help contribute a meaningful review of a post rock album to Sam's blog. Instead I think I have just made the already muddy post rock waters just a little murkier.

Greatest Song Evar! 2

Just watched Pineapple Express, and, in the early scene where Seth Rogen's character visits his weed dealer, played by James Franco, this song played in the background. I had forgotten how completely amazing this track is. Thee definitive Moondog track, in my opinion. A whimsical and lilting little jazz ditty that I can play over and over without growing sick of it. If this is your intro to Moondog then it's a fine way to get into the Viking of 6th Ave.

Apologies for the lack of posts. I have been working on a rather long uber-post on Six Finger Satellite, the October tape review and a contribution to Post Rocktoberfest.
Many posts soon...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wildildlife "Peas Feast" (2007) Chicas De Hoy

Front Cover


Wildildlife (formerly just Wildlife) are a San Francisco based trio with this EP, a full length on Crucial Blast and a live recording on CDR under their belt. I pretty much ignored the full length on Crucial Blast (still haven't heard it) as I'm not a big fan of most of the progressive metal or metal-drone that they and their subsidiary, Crucial Bliss, have released. I should probably stop the snobbery and really give the full length a listen, as this EP is most definitely killer. After some quick internet searching I now know that I definitely need to hear it after reading a short but glowing review on Julian Cope's Head Heritage site.

Anyways, first track and album highlight, White Eyelidz, rips out of the gate right away with some howling, Six Finger Satellite-style distorto-vocals over top of some Brainiac-ish riffage. The track suddenly veers off and becomes a hazy, tense incantation, complete with slow, thudding drums and freaky guitar pluckings. The track picks up a few minutes later with a heavily delayed, star-scraping guitar solo that soon turns takes the track right back to where it started. Amazing display of push-pull. The following track, Violent, is a much slower, anthemic dirge that finds the band howling in unison, very reminiscent of some of the slower joints on Boris' Akuma No Uta. Third track, Shining Son, is just technical riffing with some screamed vocals. It's over in 3 minutes, making it the shortest and most straight-forward track on this otherwise adventurous EP. The fourth and final jam, My Song, is another slow, burning incantation to that great riff in the sky. Warbled and almost drunken vocals are backed up by what sounds like the rest of the band, in the background, howling at the moon. A fitting comedown to a wild ride.

This album is way out of print, but you can...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend Update

Whole buncha' killer shows happening this weekend. First off is the Shearing Pinx homecoming at the Cobalt with Robe and Allied (third show evar!), Nu Sensae (local faves with a new LP in hand), Sex Church (ex-Ladies Night with Ben from Defektors on drum duty) and, of course, the Pinx themselves. Saturday is half the lineup of the Cobalt show (Nu Sensae and Robe and Allied) teamed up with Miami Nights (from Brooklyn) and The USAisaMonster, which all takes place at the ER. Check out the cover image on that USAisaMonster webpage. Looks like these dudes are primed and ready to rip the ER a new one, or at least a new hole in the ceiling. There is also a show at the Peanut Gallery that should be really good. Alright, now you have no excuses to stay in this weekend.

My Bloody Valentine-Chicago @ The Aragon, Sept 27, 2008. Full show in FLAC

As promised, here is the entirety of the Chicago show that occured 3 days before the San Francisco show. The show is entirely in FLAC, so it sounds even better than the mp3's I posted of the SF show. However, you won't be able to to play these in yr itunes or winamp (does anyone else besides me use winamp anymore?). Not to worry, I would imagine that many of you have the VLC media player, and if you don't, you really should. VLC is my fall back player for playing video that won't run on my BS player or Windows Media Player. Download immediately. Anyways, I just finished the MBV review for the Discorder and I'm done bothering everyone with my incessant MBV postings. Sam, on the other hand, is probably not done.


Thanks to The Decibel Tolls

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Bloody Valentine-San Francisco, Sept 30, 2008. Entire Show Upload!

I managed to find an amazing bootleg of the SF MBV show I attended a few weeks back. Thanks to Waves and Wires, who records and uploads a ton of SF shows every week, you can now attempt to recreate the MBV live experience in the comfort of your own living room! I was expecting the recordings to be static-ridden and washed out. This is not the case. Instead we have a pretty damn clear recording of an incredibly LOUD show. Yes, the vocals are pretty much washed right out, but that was pretty much exactly how it was live. If you have some decent speakers you'll find the drums are pretty punchy and hit pretty hard, which was exactly how the show was. I also have the Chicago show as well, which I should be able to upload tomorrow.




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kurt Vile "Constant Hitmaker" (2008) Gulcher Records

Finally, back online.

Normally I don't upload too many albums that are still in print, especially ones that came out this year. Unfortunately, this amazing Kurt Vile album isn't available through any Canadian distributors, nor is it available from many American distros, thus making it impossible to buy here in Vancouver or damn near anywhere, for that matter. I heard about this reclusive Pennsylvanian via Grimmertown (aka Jason Grimmer, the man behind the local legends Nasty On, The Christa Min and Anenomes. Also a former Zulu-ite) and immediately fell for the lo-fi loveliness. I managed to scrape up a copy at Amoeba during my recent trip to San Francisco and it hasn't strayed far from the stereo since. The tracks on Constant Hitmaker veer from lo-fi solo bedroom folk with Devendra Banhart-like vocals, to heavy reverbed psych pop numbers, to damn near Classic Rock devotion, coming off as a lo-fi Tom Petty. It's no wonder the sound and vibe is all over the map as this album is culled from tracks recorded between 2003 and 2007. Some of the tracks are pretty sparse, featuring just a drum machine(sometimes) and Vile's reverbed picked guitar. Occasionally, though, there are some tracks with multi-layered vocal effects, cryptic keys and oddball synths, which end up giving the album it's weird psychedelic side. Beck's oddball Stereopathetic Soul Manure is a great reference point.

Let's hope this fucker gets pressed to wax asap!

Until then...

Buy it HERE
Download it HERE--------> removed by request

***Update*** The album will be pressed to vinyl by Woodsist sometime in 2009. The

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Internetz Down. Blogging Grinds To A Halt.

Dear readers,

Serious internet malfunction at the homestead has resulted in a blogging blackout. Apologies. Should be up and running soon. Why don't you go for a walk in the cool autumn night instead?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Greatest Song Evar!

Apologies for my lack of posts lately. Things should be running smoother on the Expressway soon. Until then, you can chew on this recent psychedelic pop discovery. I heard this track play on a 60s satellite radio station while doing some late night drinking at the hostel I was staying at in San Francisco. The station was pretty good that night, playing a host of classic tracks from the 60s, most of which I recognized. Then this song came on and caused me to sober up immediately, and for the next three and half minutes I was absolutely transfixed. I made a mental note to remember this track and to spread it back to the masses. I present to you "Reach Out Of The Darkness" by Friend and Lover

(Sorry, the user won't allow the track to be embedded. It's worth that extra second of waiting, trust me.)

I should have an album upload tomorrow and a slew of posts by next week.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Bloody Valentine, San Francisco @ Concourse Design Center (aka Best! Show!! Evar!!!)

Admittedly, before heading all the way to San Francisco, I was a bit worried that My Bloody Valentine wasn't going to breach my expectations. Most of the shows in the UK were getting decent reviews but there was one bad review of an NYC show that had me worried. Well, dear readers, I can truly say that this was the transcendental experience I was hoping for. Yes, the show was incredibly loud but, more than that, it was incredibly powerful. The music hit my body like the force of a small hurricane. At times, particularly during the fifteen plus minutes of You Made Me Realise, the crowd were putting their hands in the air as if to grab a hold of the sound (sort of like the way you put your hand out of a car window as it drives).

All the best tracks off of Loveless, Isn't Anything and You Made Me Realise (setlist here) were taken to their absolute pinnacle of their sound. With a $350,000 sound system that they take on tour with them, Kevin Sheilds and co. were not fucking around. After almost twenty years of shying away from the public, the band have found a way to convey their sound properly in a live format. Sheilds has obviously had a vision for how the live show should sound and it appears as if he has nailed it.

I have a full review coming up in the next issue of Discorder. Watch for it.

Thanks for the pics, Amir!