From a blog and a writer that once fully endorsed Silencer’s Death – Pierce Me and listed Bardo Pond, Thorns and 8 Foot Sativa in his fave bands list, this statement will come as a real surprise: Jake Bugg’s debut album, go buy it. Now. It’s a loving proto-Dylan exploration backlit in grouchy back-porch guitar interludes and youthful gravel-voiced ballads caught in the crossfire between Dylan worship and pop-folk marketing bullshit. It’s far from perfect, it’s definitely frozen in the iTunes headlights and stops short of dredging up Rob Zimmerman’s whisky-soaked carcass to sway gently on stage while we all blow him kisses. At its worst it abandons the guitar whizzkiddery and becomes mournful and self-absorbed, but at its frequent best, it sets the deck aflame with hyperenergetic folk rock wizardry drenched in sweaty infectious organic real thrills a-la Neil Young on a full-on England binge or Cadaverous Condition without the Cookie Monster.
There are individuals across the history of time that have continued to fascinate for generations after their demise on account of one thing: enigma. These people, perhaps revelatory in their time, may survive only by word of mouth, fragments of unfinished works, their weatherworn marble bust adorning the walls of a European museum. Consider Socrates: father of modern Western Philosophy, whose original works are lost and who we only know about via the writings of his contemporary playwrights, historians and his student Plato. Or Franz Kafka, the German writer, barely published or recognized in his lifetime, his three posthumously published (but unfinished) novels are now recognized as Modernist masterpieces. Perhaps it is their enigma that makes us attracted to these people; after all, we like a little mystery, a little speculation, and perhaps the little information we possess on these enigmatic individuals can help us form our own opinion about the character of these people: how they felt, what they enjoyed, if they suffered for their work and so on. Perhaps the fragments they have left behind only scratch the surface of the true genius they once possessed. I’ve recently discovered someone who I believe to be a true enigma, a ghost, a shadow of a person, leaving behind a body of work as mysterious as his life was known to be: the saxophonist Kaoru Abe.
Word on the street from the bunker was that Homesick Aldo wouldn’t be visiting the Athens of the North, my neck of the proverbial woods, for quite some time, into the new year was the worrying promise; but at the last minute he was playing a gig, not only in the ‘Burgh, but about 500 feet from my flat. Needless to say, I was on board and en route as soon as I heard. I’ve already devoted a thousand words to explaining how his finely honed harmonica workouts and tribal self-imposed rhythm sections and thoroughly musically atavistic debut album is six-ways fun, so I’ll try to keep general Aldo fawning to a minimum. He was supporting local garage rockers the Kosher Pickles (to clarify kiddies, that be garage in the mould of 13th Floor Elevators and the Seeds, not so much MC5 and Rocket From the Tombs, that isn’t a criticism at all, just an observation) though the whole night felt much more like a double headliner. And a pub gig. A proper one, without a stage, where the band is set up in one corner and most of the crowd seem to be regular punters. It’s been altogether far too long since I was at such an affair and taking semi-pro photos at such an affair feels kinda stupid, when everyone is is just tryin’ ta get drunk, get twisted, get ripped, and have a dance. Aldo was immediately apparent when I got there, he looks like Iggy trying to do Alice Cooper with a whole Mick Jagger thing going on, you think I’m jivin’ ya kiddies? I sure ain’t. I ain’t dropping on you no hyperbole either, he really does, ‘cept he’s a full-on Fifer to speak to, and nervous too… which I struggle to square against his full-on Americana and ear-splitting harmonica wails.
About as Adam Black Savage as you get without being Adam Black Savage: Workin' Man Noise Unit transmit serious vibes - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #127
“My body and mind are both still a wreck too. Normally one of the two is okay by now. The British Library Sound Archive got in touch with us today and said they'd like copies of our tapes. My nervous system is not sufficiently recovered to process this weird information. I told them that they should really be destroying our music not preserving it.” Transmission of unidentified origin from the WMNU bunker
Today I saw a large, weary, nervous faced working class woman in a cream coat get off the bus, turn, look at all the passengers and draw her finger across her throat with pure curdled hatred burning in her eyes. I saw that today. Several years ago I was walking in the Highlands and came across a stream, bleeding into which was a magnificent seven-pointer stag, face down in the stream bleeding out what was left of his face, the majority of it smashed away by a hunter’s bullet. His single remaining eye black and cold like a doll’s eye. I recalled the stag as I looked into the eyes of that woman today. I had plans to write about Jake Bugg, but I just couldn’t, not after that profound atavistic jiving this morning. As Workin’ Man Noise Unit would say, keep sleepwalking. The lager-swilling Reading yawp merchants are fans of feedback loops that mimic their palindromic titles and generally maintain that we are living out the last days of this technological nightmare we’ve constructed and the only way to exercise the demons and fall back into some semblance of humanity is to debase our sweaty selves in the dank and darkened basements of our oil-soaked industrial cities, debase ourselves to the basal noise freerock of MC5 clashing with High Rise in the same realm as that utterly wonderful Vincent Black Shadow workout that crossed Iggy with more Iggy. This is about as Adam Black Savage as you get without actually being Adam Black Savage.
The phrase “going pop” seems to be synonymous with negativity; that moving your artistic goals to a popular direction is always going to be a bad thing. You’re always going to be a sellout, compromising your musical quality for a few dollars more, being a lapdog of the big faceless record labels and forgetting your humble origins. This isn’t a totally unjust statement, as it sadly does happen, but to assume this statement as a generalization is extremely misguided. Y’see, sometimes you need to take a little whitewash and smooth over the cracks, polishing and refining something that has potential but isn’t quite there yet. Sometimes moving in the popular direction isn’t just a good move financially; it’s also better artistically. For Robinella, this little push, inspiration or decision, whatever it was, worked out brilliantly.
|Drcarlsonalbion sells his luddite membership.|
No no no no no no no. No. It’s the new Sabbath Assembly album and on top of all the unrighteous shite I’m about to rake up, it has a cover of the far-superior We Give Our Lives to be found on the debut, Restored to One. This highlights two things, one, that this album isn’t fit to be the beer coaster holding Jex Thoth’s bottle o’ Jack, and two, that they have absolutely no respect or understanding for the debut album. I bought this miserable dead-eyed knock-off by a band falsely called Sabbath Assembly (Jex Thoth has departed the two-peep project making it more accurately titled ‘Dave Nuss gets someone who isn’t Jex Thoth to make an arse of the hymns of the Process Church’) because I was virtually certain I would hate it and would use it as a big hate sponge for all the bad things in my life, but it is so dribblingly awful, so face-spitting in the face of the resplendent debut that it doesn’t even anger me. It just makes me quite sad about the whole of the world.
NOTE – Some of you disassociated fucks might read me prose and not be able to read ‘tween the lines on this one and dig that I dig Gareeda, urban as fuck, heathen as cunt – a fuel injected suicide machine.
A recent article in the Journal noted Edinburgh is ‘dull’ because of its beauty. Certainly, while in Glasgow all manner of fine-fingered freaks are likely to jump you, ‘specially staggering outta one of the less reputable venues; in the ‘Burgh you’re much more likely to be set about by cuntfaced generously proportioned American tourists hunting their ancestry and asking you where the Royal Mile is while standing on the fucking Royal Mile than by twitchy blood-junkies from the sub-basement; but the Athens of the North has a sub-basement all of its own. A vile and venomous tract, a sewer and cow run through the bowels of the city and racing out it’s open sphincter like the eye of a beer can, and up your daughter’s leg grinning and crying with a knife in its teeth. Here dwell the hairy-handed mountain men and illustrated long-time dope fiends strung out on Orange Goblin riffs to so long they delude themselves into thinking those same riffs are original, and copyright free. I doubt Orange Goblin are the sort to drop any legal action on these heads, or that these heads are in any way interested or able to deal with any such legal challenge. From this dank cavernous pit come four more bastards leering and stumbling up into the semi-respectable parts of the city scratching at their trousers and sucking the last of the smoke out of a Marlboro Red and waiting for optimum pupil dilation before growling at a pastel-shirted family of sightseers and ambling on into the night, looking for trouble, looking for a fix, looking for it.
I’ve had a long, boring and particularly busy week, and frankly my thoughts about new music were kind of left by the wayside. Y’know whenever you’re feeling a bit pathetic and all you want to do is eat junk food, comfort food? That taste that you’re so familiar and happy with and you know it’s going to provide for you exactly what you need at the time: comfort. Well, you can do that with music too. Oh my brothers I was comfort listening, retreating back to the solace of classics I’ve known for years and years, craving the sounds I know inside and out, front and back, just because they were familiar: a pat on the shoulder, a way to switch off my mind and not to think. Well, it’d been a few days and nothing was inspiring me to write: in fact I had absolutely no qualms about not even attempting to write this week. That is, until, my feeble little consoling wall of protection was battered and broken down by such a ferocious and transcendental piece of music that my perspective on the week changed. Comfort: no way! It’s time to get up and take action, be inspired, build bridges and overthrow dictators and write an epic poem. Such a breath of fresh air this album was! And the thing is, I’ve had it for years and years: its brilliance only being revealed to me now is either a colossal cosmic joke or else an example of timing at its most impeccable.
(Or:- Let’s all sing along with Homesick Aldo, it’s the cognitive dissonance blues)
“Played a gig with Aldo on the bill a few months back… interesting fellow.” Jeff Duffy – Shock and Awe.
Starting with, and sustaining for its duration, the sorta hundred carat harmonica boogie backed up in its tribal drum thump and all the more amazing when you hear it’s a one-man band. I listened to Homesick Aldo’s Talkin’ Innocent Outlaw Blues with a smile of old-time affection bolted to my face with rivets of joy because throughout his orgy of country bluesisms and boot-tappin’ rhythms he invites us to spend 35 minute stints in a world without knowing irony; without post-everything refusenik balderdash where a man can genuinely sing a song about an alligator and a wolf and you ain’t gonna laugh at him. Here’s how good it is, I listened to it and spent the next few days re-spinning it and caught myself drinking moonshine and standing with my hips cocked and thumbs in my belt leaning against the bar. Homesick Aldo is at best a hopeless eccentric and at his most tragic a man terribly out of time and space who should have rocked the East Village folk movement just before the whole ‘Nam business. It’s powerfully nostalgic stuff. Word has it Aldo was once the frontman of a group called the Soul City Shakers (wait… what?) and by accounts of that group (they tore up every gig they played), he hasn’t changed in the slightest. Still wearing the leather jacket and sunglasses like a throwback throwback to a lost age. By all accounts his solo album (Talkin’ Innocent Outlaw Blues… I mean seriously!) rings exactly the same bell of utter stupidity and inanity simultaneously with the white-hot light of flawless genius. ‘Course Aldo went from the Soul City Shakers to solo, ‘cause there can’t be that many heads in Fife of all places that’ll want to partake in reflexive short-lived experimental test-flight throwback bands; there can’t be anyone with the total absence of self-awareness to belt out these lyrics and rock this look, nor anyone with the total devotion to the cause to actually pull the thing off and make it work.