(photo courtesy Colby Spath)
On the heels of End Of An Ear’s well received ‘Grave City’ compilation of studio recordings, 12XU is releasing two live albums from Dallas’ incredibly influential and fucked-before-their-time STICK MEN WITH RAY GUNS, ‘Property Of Jesus Christ’ (recorded in 1984 at Houston’s Lawndale Art Annex) and ’1000 Lives To Die’ (recorded in 1987 at Dallas’ Theatre Gallery during the band’s final show). Recordings have been restored / beefed up by Jack Control of Enormous Door Mastering, and lacquers cut by Matt Barnhart at Chicago Mastering Service, befitting these crucial documents of one of US punk’s most fearless outfits at the peak of their powers. Though the material has been available on CD and digital download previously, this is the first time these performances from the foursome of Bobby Soxx, Clarke Blacker, Scott Elam and Bob Beeman have been issued on vinyl.
Has any American band before or since come close to making antagonism an art form? I’m sure your short list is fascinating, maybe even worth arguing over. But I’d rather play these albums again. Short of a time machine, it’s as close as you’ll come to being in the thick of unique moments in band vs. audience history that’s unlikely to be matched by anyone in 2016, try as they might.
“I fondly remember Bobby Soxx on his back porch…chopping bibles with a meat clever and throwing a color television at a Mexican family. This band murdered Dallas.” – Gibby Haynes
“Stick Men with Ray Guns formed in 1981 in Dallas, a product of the same 275-mile long cultural petri dish that bred Big Boys, Butthole Surfers, The Dicks, and Scratch Acid. It’s a testament to the influence and depravity of the first wave Texas hardcore scene that SMWRG’s antics have been largely lost to the ages. Their shows, according to local lore, verged on performance art. But scores of bands have since stolen their shtick—fighting audience members, using the mic as a public colonoscopy probe, etc.
The mythology of the Wild Frontman has masked early punk’s capacity to attract people with mental illness. To be a wacko underground vocalist in the early 1980s, especially in places like Texas, meant being someone with an above-average capacity to inflict and receive punishment. Stick Men frontman Bobby Sox excelled at both.” – Sam McPheeters, Vice
You can preorder ‘Property Of Jesus Christ’ and ’1000 Lives To Die’ via 12XU.bigcartel.com.
It’s tempting sometimes to call Philadelphia’s Watery Love the best band in the world, but then I remember that the entire world fucking sucks and it doesn’t seem like such a huge compliment.
I don’t wanna hype today’s show up too much, but it was better than 10 Fang reunions.
(EDITOR’S NOTE : With the second edition of the Sonic Transmission Festival taking place September 23-25 at Austin’s North Door, Rio Rita and Central Presbyterian Church,featuring an amazing lineup including but not limited to Obnox, Chicago Underground Duo, Marshall Trammel, Shit & Shine, USA/Mexico, Gunvor Gustavsen, Paul Giallorenzo, Chad Taylor More Ease and many others, the time seemed rife to quiz festival organizer / onstage fixture Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (The Thing, Young Mothers, Close Erase) about the inspirations behind the event. Also, trying to set the stage for one of those worked feuds with a certain reality TV lynchpin, though Ingebrigt seems reluctant to play along! – GC)
Q: Was there a particular prior event or artist that provided the catalyst for the creation of the festival?
A: Yes, my band The Young Mothers was the whole reason I started this festival last year. TYM have members that as well as being great improvisers are as active in the Texas hip-hop, grindcore, indie rock and jazz scenes, and I wanted to create an event that showcased my band and at the same time represented music from all the different genres within the group.
Q: you’re wearing multiple hats here : curator, promoter, performer. And it’s not like you’ve got nothing else in your creative life going on. Any part of this feel overwhelming?
A: Yes, absolutely! It’s quite overwhelming and sometimes I’m asking my self why the heck I’m doing this. BUT, its extremely rewarding too. I’m learning a lot and it feels valuable to have this experience as a promoter and curator (It’s very easy for musicians to forget all the work that’s behind presenting concerts and it feels important to be experiencing all the different aspects of this!). And of course having to research a lot of new artists for future festivals is very inspiring, I find a lot of great music I probably wouldn’t have if i didn’t start this fest. But maybe the most important aspect is being part of (hopefully) creating a new community in Austin where a lot of presenters and musicians from different ‘scenes’ work together to present creative music!!
Q: Obviously there’s other music fests in and around the region — some more interesting than others — but this the only one I’m aware of that places equal importance towards genres most of the more commercial tests either pay scant attention to or ignore entirely. You’re aware there’s nothing else like this, right?
A: I am aware of this, and this is my whole vision and purpose of the festival! I want to put equal importance to multiple genres and my goal is that it will draw a mixed audience that’ll get new experiences! But, I do realise that it is an ambitious goal and that it might take a while for audiences (and musicians!) to understand what I’m trying to do… But I’m into it for the long haul!!
Q: who are you most looking forward to seeing at STII?
A: I am looking forward to see all the acts! But if I have to pick some; i can’t wait to see Chicago Underground and Rabit on Friday night and a specially Obnox on Saturday. But all the bands will kick ass, so stoked to have them all there!!!
Q: Jon Taffer visits the N.D. the day before the festival starts. Name a couple of the sweeping changes he’s responsible for by the time night one starts INCLUDING THE NEW NAME OF THE VENUE
A: Who (the f**k) is Jon Taffer? Sorry, I might not have experienced enough American popular culture to be able to answer this…sorry!
Q: Pains me to say this but “Sonic Transmissions”-the-name is the weakest thing about this glorious event. Do we have your permission to host a contest to rename the event for 2017 (with the grand prize being a Christian Laettner rookie card from the 1992-93 season)?
A: Hahah, you have my permission. would love to see the suggestions. and if you wanna know; the name was inspired by the book Sonic Transmission by Tim Mitchell about Tom Verlaine, Richard Hell and Television. an interesting read!
DD Owen – DD Owen (12XU 091-1), out September 30
On the heels of an impressive pile of records under the Sick Thoughts, Chicken Chain and LSDOGS monikers, 19 year old Drew Owen left Baltimore, decamped to New Orleans and recorded his first 12″ under the DD Owen imprimatur, 8 songs that reflect a new-found maturity, songcraft, enhanced production values and deeply sophisticated worldview.
Alright, at least the part about the record being 8 songs long isn’t a total fucking lie.
Features the soon-to-be-smash, “I Shoulda Been Aborted”. The only color vinyl on this one is black. There’s a download card but it’s not like you’re getting into heaven any faster by using it.
Drew’s currently in Finland where Sick Thoughts are touring with Die Rottz. You can catch him at Goner Fest this September and that’s probably a good idea as he’s promised this label there will be no DD Owen tour to speak of after this album hits the streets. Man, the selling points are just falling from the sky like golf-ball sized hail, aren’t they?
In all seriousness, if you’ve heard the previous DD Owen singles for Ken Rock, Windian and Goodbye Boozy not to mention some of Drew’s other sprawling output for folks including but not limited to Goner, Episode Sounds, Total Punk and Slovenly you already know he’s as determined as he’s prolific. Would it be hyperbole to call him the voice of a generation? Perhaps, but if you do a Claude Bessey impersonation while saying it, at the very least you’ll be a hit at parties.
I'm back driving a tube train again ! It's the music business's loss! pic.twitter.com/1KNwCoyMAI
— Jah Wobble (@realjahwobble) August 24, 2016
Apologies to Robyn Hitchcock for the above headline. Indeed, if Wobble ditched the bass for operating a train, that’s music’s loss, but let’s do what we can to prevent Keith Levene from driving a bus or piloting an airplane
Farewell to Rudy Van Gelder (above, left), who has shuffled off this mortal coil at the age of 91. Arguably one of the most important recording engineers in music history, Van Gelder not only had the satisfaction of knowing he helmed sessions that changed the course of jazz, but he also managed to outlive Dick Urine.
The Gospel Truth’s 3rd record and 2nd full length takes ideas & sounds cleverly sketched out on 2013’s ‘A Lonely Man Does Foolish Things’ and opens ‘em up wide screen to the point where the quartet’s range is running neck-and-neck with their imagination. Expertly recorded by Ian Rundell (Spray Paint, Empty Markets, Xetas), ‘Jealous Fires’ is a brooding, kinetic masterpiece, one that makes a very strong case for vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Tonucci’s unique take on the human condition.
(photo by Julie Bishop)
There’s vague echoes of some exceptional moments in rock history (Suicide, the Bad Seeds, ‘Transformer’) but there’s no contemporaries with The Gospel Truth’s ability to fuse such unvarnished explorations of mind, soul & spirit to a musical accompaniment nearly as explosive. In bassist David Petro and drummer Brandon Crowe, Tonucci’s got one of underground rock’s more inventive rhythm sections ; in guitarist Patrick Travis, a player whose flair and stylistic range makes a mockery of, well, anyone who’d settle for calling this band post-punk.
All four of these guys have logged considerable time in other Austin bands you most likely know and love ; Mark in the improv jazz quartet Art Acevedo and as the frequent saxophone fixture in troubadour John Wesley Coleman’s live band, David on guitar/vocals for 12XU labelmates Xetas, bass for Art Acevedo, Brandon’s past tenure in When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth and recent work alongside Quin Galavis in False Idol, or Patrick’s drumming for The Golden Boys…but suffice to say, The Gospel Truth SOUND ZILCH LIKE ANY OF THE ABOVE and said backgrounds only serve to point out the fellas in question are all-over-the-musical-map in a very good way.
Since 12XU is legally bound to mention The Scientists at least once every band bio this quarter, the 8 originals on ‘Jealous Fires’ are augmented by a blistering cover of “Set It On Fire”.
Preorder at 12XU.bigcartel.com
As you may or may not be aware, the debut album from Austin’s Meet Your Death is released this coming Friday (August 12), coinciding with a show at East 6th Street’s Hotel Vegas also featuring labelmates James Arthur’s Manhunt, Atlanta’s Omni and early contenders for Best Band Little Steven Would Have A Problem With, Borzoi.
Anyhow, a local website graced us with their opinion of Meet Your Death’s forthcoming album and declared the band’s repertoire, “music so obscure and varied that most wouldn’t recognize the songs unless they had an extensive musical knowledge.”
The reviewer has a point. What did Bo Diddley or Mose Allison ever accomplish compared to say, Moving Units?
Still, while each critic is entitled to his or her opinions and biases, deeply entrenched or not, there was one sentence in particular that I must take exception to ; “perhaps because Meet Your Death is comprised of seasoned performers, or perhaps because they have friends at 12XU, it seems we’ve been asked to consider this as a record by a developed band.”
The reason folks are invited to consider ‘Meet Your Death’ the work of a developed band is rather simple : John Schooley and Walter Daniels’ individual resumes and discographies look like a virtual who’s who of crucial players in US underground rock history. The rhythm section of Harpal Assi and Matt Hammer have merely been key components in 4 of Texas’ most acclaimed modern outfits (and that’s a modest count). Collectively, the band has been playing out for two years. But the implication that efforts to bring their work to the wider public are a byproduct of “friendship” could not be further from the truth.
For starters, I can’t stand these guys. When I see John or Walter on the street, not only do I cross to the other side, I hop in a cab, head straight to the airport and purchase a one-way ticket to the furthest-away domestic location. You ever wonder why I’m nowhere to be found after they play? Because I’d sooner cut my own throat than discuss topics like, “was the guitar loud enough?”, “how was the lighting?” or, “do you think they’ll have us back?”
I realize it makes convenient copy, suggesting the label roster is one-big-happy family, but truth be told, I work with a never-ending succession of horrible, horrible human beings and I need to take drastic steps every day to make sure none of their character flaws rub off on my otherwise perfect self. My sole motive for documenting their endeavors is complete and thorough appreciation for their art (and the fervent desire to exploit the fuck out of it). But do I consider these musicians to be friends? Listen, if any of ‘em showed up at my doorstep asking to use the bathroom, I’d demand a doctor’s note and a $50 deposit.
OK, glad we cleared that up.
If Barneys can charge $265 for a Black Flag shirt (echoes, I reckon, of Kayne’s $8K Discharge jacket) there’s some serious money being thrown around/flushed in the pursuit of authenticity. Comical, yes, but I would truly like to see the people I love and respect hop on this gravy train:
Don Walsh’s Rusted Shut Fantasy Camp ($3000 for two days, Don might not attend due to other obligations)
Von LMO Segway Tours of Coney Island ($350, must supply your own Segway)
Taylor TX, SST Superstore “Supermarket Sweep” For Charity* ($1000 for 90 seconds, all the Jambang overstock you can fit in a shopping cart)
touring company of “Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” starring Curt Low (understudy, Neil Patrick Harris)
* – cat rescue, of course