The proto-Sabbatheans and the pre-Zeppalikes - The alternative hall of fame - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #161

I’ve been saying for months that my magic crystals and observances of exclusively Capricorn in the night sky tell me rock and roll is back. Back to being cool after a few awkward years out of favour. I thought this deserved an agonisingly long reappraisal of the whole scene because a whole new generation will be asking “from whence sprang our guitar worship?” It’s very easy, with the false 20/20 power of hindsight, for those of us in our youth in the year 2013 to assume rock and roll is the sort of thing that’s always been with us. It’s correct. Rock and roll channels the basic impulses that flow in our veins. The desire to be near other people. Warmth, and light of dancing around the fire in the days before amplifiers and pickups. Rock and roll has always been with us, but it’s easy to forget that for a few hundred years at least, rock and roll was effectively silenced, and only with fifteen years of hard work did it come back in force for the purest wave of reheathenisation the word has ever known. It’s easy to forget these artists, to buy into the myth of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath rising from the earth like ghosts when the time was right, but they didn’t. They were the product of a culture, and that culture is more available than ever. Most of these bands released only a few records. Some released under different names, some didn’t release much of anything, and bootlegs are all that exists. Some of the members went on to future success and we have that future success to thank for their prominence now. We also have to thank the ‘illegal’ online file-sharing communities whose dedication to duty and cool distinction between legality and morality have allowed these records to spread and expand in importance and prominence. The magic of YouTube, of blogging, of file sharing, is that once concerts that existed for only a few short hours to a handful of people can now spread across the globe to thousands, and records that released a few dozen copies in selected San Fran back-street record shops can now be copied endlessly. This is only an account, an interpretation of the creative and very corporeal chaos of the rock and roll business, the protest movement and the counter culture across a whole hemisphere of the earth for fifteen years of sound and fury. There will be steps I have missed, I attempt only to give a reading. Contributions to this article are more needed than ever before, please email us your own suggestions of forgotten pre-Sabbatheans and proto-Zeppalikes, send me your own potted history. I sit and await your correspondence.

The pit devoid of hope - Hey Colossus smash the sun - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #160


The only thing today stopping me from collapsing due to the spastic pain of a shattered spine was the red-hot fuel-injected caffeine-punch of Hey Colossus new album. Now it won’t come as much of a surprise that these Quietus darlings are good, because everyone and their fucking talentless dog-fucking writing spawn have said this shit is thee shit but I thought I’d throw my tiny ineffectual hat in the ring and say you’d all be best equipped going right over to MIE and shelling out whatever they’re asking (they should ask four times as much, and it’d still be a bargain) because the orchestral-staffed heavy-rockers have gone and done it again.

Sweet Light Crude - Newspeak - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #88


It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to an album and been utterly perplexed by its contents, but bravo Newspeak, you managed to give me an album that provoked such a reaction. My initial reaction was simply “what on earth?” and after a couple of listens… it’s still much the same. I came across the album when I saw it listed as an “Indie Classical” album on eMusic (a neat alternative to iTunes offering more out of left field offerings such as this one) and was rather curious to figure out what an “Indie Classical” album would sound like. Turns out it sounds nothing like what I expected, or probably what anyone expected.

Has it been ten years? - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #159


I had to have a picture of something, so here's Aldo and his harmonica. No connection to the text.
Ten years since the blinding sunshine of American shock and awe freedom lit up the Baghdad skyline, it’s important to look back on ten years of fearmongering and misery and financial disaster; and what’s happened to music since then. I sometimes endure horrifying waking caffeine-deficient headache nightmares of Steve Bartels, Peter Edge, Tom Corson and Joie Manda slavering blood in a hotel room. Manda arches his back as it sprouts with hair; his jaw opens in a painful scream as it extends, snapping and cracking and melding his bones to his new preternatural shape. Edge and Corson sniff at him with their animalistic snouts as the moonlight dances in the grooves of self-awarded gold records dusted with cocaine. Steve Bartels hangs from the ceiling in the corner of the room, licking blood from his fangs and smiling as the werewolves devour what is left of Miley Cyrus. The hotel room is filled with wailing guitar sounds of some already-rejected rock act tape and the LA heat makes the whole room simmer. Edge pants with blood on his breath as he sodomises Corson and Manda uses his doggy tongue to lick Bartels’ balls. This has been going on for hours and the internal fluids of aspiring young starlets have begun to seep into adjacent rooms; there is a scuffling noise outside and the door explodes inwards in a shower of expensive splinters that sends the table, the gold records and the cocaine tumbling into the carpet, the three wolves scuttle into the corners of the room and cower underneath Bartels as the riot police storm in. Corson catches an MP5 bullet in the shoulder and snarls as the smoke clears. Steve Barnett emerges from the cupboard, head bowed and hovering ethereally about six inches off the floor. Two police heads implode instantly and they dissolve as messy piles of cartilage into the carpet, the remaining officers still in the hallway drop into a trance and raise their weapons into their mouths. Tears stream from their eyes as they pull the triggers, spraying skull fragments and brain matter across the walls. As the wolves devour what was left of the point officers Barnett turns to Bartels and smiles and nods.

“Quickly!” says Bartels, “Bieber is in town, and Taylor Swift is saying at the Marriott”. With that the wolves disappear out of the window. Barnett hovers down the steps and stops just long enough to strangle the night porter with his mind. The three wolves crowd up in the Marriott parking lot, staring up at the rows of identical windows. Trying to remember which is Taylor Swift’s hotel room they booked before leaving the office.
 
Written under caffeine deficiency by Steven.

Order up some golf shoes - Stuck outside of Memphis with the Homesick blues again - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #158

Homesick Aldo, where is he homesick for? By his own admission, Memphis Tennessee in the 1880s, or maybe a kitschy bar in the Village in ‘62 before Zimmerman blew the lid off the whole business. Wherever he’s from, like Anton Chigurh, it sure as hell ain’t here. My usual reference-laced hyperbole seems a little redundant as Aldo’s bluesicianship defies description and comprehension. Like a bumble bee, he shouldn’t be able to fly, but time after time, he does. Stunning harmonica boogie that turned the inside of Leith’s historic Cricket Club into a sweltering Detroit basement. Aldo’s greatest curse is just how out of time he is, or that he lost his fellow travellers aways back, because his unique firebrand kazoo experimentation doesn’t really have a place on any bill. Nobody even approaches his outright strangeness, so he’s forced to hang around like the awkward kid at all the meetings of the Fife garage sect, which don’t entirely gel with his unbelievable time-machine rock. We can only hope his ascending star continues its upward trajectory and he can one day get back to Memphis. We need to get him back to the future!

Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City - Kendrick Lamar - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #87


One thing or another kept me from firstly, acquiring this album (Which I’d heard about since its release in October) and then reviewing it. (I’ve had it for two weeks) As a result I’m coming in WAY behind, and everybody probably knows about the album at this point now anyway, but I might as well draw further attention to it; why not? It deserves to traverse your ear canals at least once, and as I found, it’s better to experience the album late than never. For me personally, it’s the sort of album I hoped would come along soon, and I’m glad it did. I’m constantly bemoaning the state of modern day hip hop and the likes of Lil’ Wayne, 50 Cent and so on who hog the mainstream and appear to represent the genre to the unfamiliar, and I seem to champion the underground, people who bring plenty of new things to the genre and get nowhere commercially. It was a dream that someone with sensibility and intelligence would come along and capture a lot of attention, say a lot of important things and get acknowledged for it, thus uniting creativity and commercial success without compromising themselves. It was necessary, I believe, and it took a long time in coming, but I’m certain Kendrick Lamar achieved this with good kid, m.A.A.d city, probably the most anticipated and self-assured debut album in the genre since Illmatic.

Rock and roll is here to stay, it brought Hot Lunch - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #157


Listen here you filthy ner’-do-well, oh you procrastinator and vile pollutant of cultures centuries’ old and trawler of the cultural gutter looking for the occasional gems that appear in the sewage river, gems so dazzling they make you momentarily forget your shit-caked fingers and just appreciate the beauty. Listen here because this very night a portal appeared in ancient unborn space, in its brief period of activity it formed a gateway between the cultural sewer and a far-off star with a mantle composed of semi-liquid awesome. Through it slipped Acid Funk Blues Booze quad Hot Lunch, and their debut album, also called Hot Lunch. This is another Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell-type trip, right? Full on throwback atavistic shoulder-swayin’ rock and roll so powerful you better check the fillings in your teeth before punching the volume. I’ve always said that the best album of all time probably exists in an alternate universe with Leaf Hound playing Blue Cheer riffs to songs by the Gun. Or something like that. Perhaps Vulcan jamming the first side of the Groundhog’s seminal Split heckled by Sir Lord Baltimore, or the stunning early Sabbath stuff grooved out by late-period Airplane with Hendrix on lead axe… Maybe just the yankee Lamp of Thoth. I don’t even know. The eternal muso question of ‘but whom gave birth to their mung worship?' has led people on a rollicking diagram-making tour through the bands you know (Sabbath, Zep, Purple, Hendrix, Cream) through the bands you should (Blue Cheer, Baltimore, Groundhogs, Pentagram) to the B and C level bands (Dust, Captain Beyond, Atomic Rooster, Litter) and indeed beyond (Andromeda, Coloured Balls, Heavy Goods Vehicle, Culpeper’s Orchard… ye gods… what a trip!) always looking for the question of who was the first. The long forgotten did they? Mallory and Irvine bands, whose sonic remunerations sound same-day fresh even today once the layer of neglectful dust is blown away and the haze of nostalgia has settled into a pleasant chemical soup in your frontal lobe. But they are crucially out there now. All these throwback forgotten proto-everything bands have been given a new lease of life and been synthesised into a genuine reference list for a whole new generation of heads, the result is fabulously throwback bands. And the result is Hot Lunch. Go. Get it.

"It's not the end of the world, it's just Monday night in Glasgow" Deap Vally, a photo exploration of pure rock genius - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #156



California-based rock-snob favourites Deap Vally returned to King Tut’s on Monday night and I was there and took some photos. They were exuberantly exciting. And aside from a couple of hecklers who I hope were hit by a cab while staggering home, the entire thing was enfused with an excitement and an energy that was palpable, and a real thrill to be a part of. I can only assume this is the kind of thing Deap Vally take on tour with them because both ladies seem to be deeply enamoured with the lifestyle, and we love them for it. Thanks to Deap Vally I think that rock and roll, a nerdy obsession for the last few years, will finally become properly cool again, and it’s all astride the powerful stallion of true bad ass songs sung by two achingly hip young things who are going to dominate the world one stage at a time. Belt up.

A blaze in t' Northern sky - Jackal at Bannerman's (again) - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #155


Tidings bring the noise.
So this’ll be largely photographic explorations of exactly the kind of Chuck Berry moves and rock star ironies Jackal-Headed Guard of the Dead, the darlings of this blog, specialise in. Saturday night saw them return to Bannerman’s, supported by lightshow postgazers Tidings (who brought bafflingly comprehensive vocal support). The Jackals unveiled a new song, bathed in a barely-there red light and jammed away, playing a tightened set of their usual stuff. I was there mainly to test my flash in prep for the Deap Vally gig happening tonight, which I’m at for Muso’s Guide. So please, enjoy the photos and go see Jackal when they play next, wherever they play.

s/t - FIDLAR - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #86


LA-based punk-surf rockers FIDLAR (an acronym for Fuck it, Dog, Life’s a Risk) found themselves at the forefront of my playlist this week with their self-titled debut. It dropped last month and is a brief, testosterone-fuelled celebration of some of the most inane, misanthropic and hedonistic themes committed to wax, with practically every song being about hard drugs, casual sex, slacking off and getting drunk, laced with gratuitous profanity. At least, I believed it to be a celebration, and that FIDLAR should be condemned for unapologetically advocating such a self-destructive lifestyle. Yet I didn’t stop listening to it, that’s for sure. (“Down with capitalism!” they cry, while sipping coffee from their Starbucks mugs) Somewhere along the line I seem to have convinced myself that their message is actually an ironic one, that it’s not a celebration but a condemnation, left only for the astute to unlock. I’m fairly sure, mind you, that the joke is on me. But am I bothered? Not at all. Am I going to recommend the hell out of this album? Absolutely.
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