Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gruesomania & Shows # 631 & 632

It’s 2016, I’m standing in a local record store and looking through the used bins and CD sections to see if maybe there are any Gruesomes releases. Their music is scarce in record stores these days, but you never know. On the vinyl side of things, there are Gruesomes records missing from my collection. I recall reading that Gruesomania was reissued on vinyl recently. I quickly place an order. Emerging from Montreal and rising to popularity in parts of Europe and the North American underground music scenes, Gruesomania followed 1986’s Tyrants of Teen Trash. Originally released in 1987 on OG Music and recorded in Montreal, Gruesomania is often seen as one of the band’s best efforts released during their initial run as a band from 1985-1990.

The Gruesomes took influence from obscure garage compilations, 60’s garage and R&B acts and merged it with the visceral energy and attitude of 70s punk rock. Placing the record onto my record player, as the record catches “Way Down Below” opens Gruesomania with its spooky, fuzzy garage riff. This song draws on images of a bad relationship, hell and the band's horror/b-movie styled humour. A performance based music video for this song received high rotation on Much Music in Canada in the mid-80s. Gruesomania is filled with the same snotty energy as Tyrants Of Teen Trash, but also adds more of a soulful/R&B rhythm to their sound. This was in part due to John Knoll joining as the band’s drummer, replacing original Gruesome member Eric Davis. The album combines raved up Gruesome originals and several R&B/garage covers. The third track “Leave My Kitten Alone” is sung by guitarist Gerry Alvarez and complete with raunchy, twangy guitars and catchy vocal harmonies. This song was covered by The Beatles, but was originally released in 1959 by Little Wille John.

The rough and raunchy, “Ain’t Got Nothin’” about a snooty rich girl comes in as track four with stop and start guitar stabs and a sleazy R&B groove before the album’s first instrumental track “Whirlpool”. This short surf instrumental track is a smooth interlude awash in drums that are heavy on the ride cymbal, guitar solos, bouncy basslines and reverb soaked guitar sounds. On the back of the Gruesomania record, there is a short description of the record by Fuad Ramses and then a brief description of each song on the album, ala old blues and garage records. “I Can Tell” is a song originally by the band’s “Spiritual mentor and close friend: Mr. Bo Diddley” as it is stated on the back of the record. “Buzz Off” ends side one of Gruesomania with heavy bass, snarling vocals by Bobby Beaton and harmonica, a song that is described as a “pretty hot classic” on the back of the record.

If side one of Gruesomania started with the horror stylings of “Way Down Below” and songs that seem to question relationships that could be going wrong, side two starts off with “Je Cherche”, a song that starts off with an explosion, literally. Originally by Les Lutins in 1967, the song's title roughly translates into “I’m Searching” in English. This song starts off with lyrical subject matter that seems to question several of the topics brought up on the first side of this LP. “Why Me?” is a song about boredom, TV dinners, lack of cash and loneliness, “Time’s Gonna Come” shows The Gruesomes getting thrashier, fuelled on adrenaline, along with the instrumental “Jacknife”. “Outta My Mind” is a raved up garage song complete with harmonica, thick R&B influenced bass grooves from John Davis and intense vocals sung by guitarist Gerry Alvarez. Described as a song about “A tale of mistaken identity”, this song as do many on the second side of this LP, picks up on the band’s undeniable energy and chemistry. “You Said Yeah” is a fuzzy heavy guitar driven song that comes in as track thirteen before the album’s last track. “Heart Full Of Pain” is a slower song, complete with tremolo guitar and a paced soulful executed groove.

As Gruesomania ends, there is a short, hidden track, which features members of the band messing around on a piano and with each other. This, along with their sense of humour in their songs and in the actual liner notes, showcases The Gruesomes ethos and aesthetic. As the album ends, the record crackles and hisses as the record needle rises, I recall a review of this album from 2009, which describes the album’s production levels as “below that of farting into a ghetto blaster's built-in microphone”. This humorous comparison while partially joking brings forth the fact that The Gruesomes were all about their chemistry. The album does lend itself to the lo-fi realm of recording, despite not being recorded on 8 track. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with the sound of this album. It was never going to have over the top 80s over production techniques of the day. That isn’t the point and never was.

Rising from basements in a variety of reissues in different forms intermittently since 1987, Gruesomania was released on CD via Ricochet Sound in 2008 with bonus tracks and released on vinyl via Artofact records in 2015. Raised on bad TV shows, obscure garage nuggets, boredom and snotty, adrenalized enthusiasm, Gruesomania is infectious in its execution. Catch Gruesomania. It’s just as contagious today as it was in 1987.

Playlist for Show # 631:

1. The Barracudas - Summer Fun
2. The Submissives - Do You Really Love Me?
3. The Beatles - Cry For A Shadow
4. Wilco - I'm A Wheel
5. Tom Waits - I Don't Wanna Grow Up
6. The Good Family Album - Taller Than The Pines
7. Danny Kroha - The Road is Rough And Rocky
8. The Pogues - Bottle Of Smoke
9. Uncle Tupelo - Screen Door
10. The Gories - On The Run
11. The Pack AD - Is It So
12. Mexican Knives - Nightmare
13. Cellos - Standard And Poor
14. By Divine Right - Stretch Parachute
15. The Pixies - Holiday (live In Detroit 11.22.04)
16. Ty Segall Band - The Tongue
17. Sonic Youth - Tom Violence
18. PJ Harvey - Stella
19. Protomartyr - What The Wall Said
20. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Down At The Rock n' Roll Club (Alternate Version)
21. Blondie - Eat To The Beat
22. Weird Lines - There Are Never Too Many Matches
23. Archaics - No In No Out
24. Square Waves - All That's Left
25. The Famines - Got Lies If You Want Them
26. Dion Lunadon - 1976
27. The Gruesomes - Jacknife
28. The Gruesomes - Outta My Mind

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 17.

Episode # 632 was a repeat of a previous episode that originally aired in September 2015. You download that episode here and view the playlist here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exits & Shows # 628, 629, 630

Thee Oh Sees latest effort, A Weird Exits arrives as a double LP with longer songs that showcase a new range in dynamics for the band. Being the first album to capture Thee Oh Sees new line-up which features two drummers, Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon, along with bassist Tim Hellman, who joined Thee Oh Sees in 2014, A Weird Exits produces a new type of groove. Still led by the ever prolific and frontman John Dwyer, Thee Oh Sees vicious and manic live sound is captured here in top form. If 2015’s Mutilator Defeated At Last explored more medieval and folk-like imagery in the songs, A Weird Exits blasts off into outer space, lyrically and musically taking on a cosmic context.

“Dead Man’s Gun” starts off the album in a jittery tempo that sounds as if it was plucked right out a recording from the band’s live set. The double drum rhythm section weaves in-between Hellman’s bass groove and Dwyer’s growling guitar sounds. The lyrics are sung by Dwyer in his traditional vocal style, drenched in reverb and floating above the instrumentation. “Ticklish Warrior” is a heavier track in the style of “Withered Hand” from 2015’s Mutilator Defeated At Last, “Jammed Entrance”, is where the album switches up the pace and ventures into a different direction. If the first two tracks emphasized the band’s live components, “Jammed Entrance” travels into new territory, a five minute instrumental track complete with razor sharp psychedelic guitar leads and synthesizers sounding as if they are communicating some sort of Morse code message into outer space. “Plastic Plant” showcases the band’s heavier and mid-tempo grooves, building on the sounds from “Jammed Entrance” as lyrically with words such as “Face aghast in electric glow”, “Lifeless eyes locked in a spell” and “You’re Half gone/You Can’t Deny It/But I think that you don’t know”, the song brings up emotions of feeling lost in a void, but also sound as if they could be describing a character from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

“Gelatinous Cube” picks up the pace with frantic, cleaner sounding guitars and snarling vocals from John Dwyer. The band is vicious here and rapid as the lyrics portray a hungry space-like creature on the hunt. “Unwrap The Fiend Pt.2” is another long instrumental track that explores different sounds, but one that sounds as if it could be background music in a science fiction film, perhaps Blade Runner at certain moments. “Crawl Out From The Fall Out” is an atmospheric, slow building track, vocals come in at the halfway point from both John Dwyer and Brigid Dawson. Lyrically, it seems to question a world with nothing at all in it. “The Axis” ends A Weird Exits. Covered with organ and drawing comparisons to the 1967 single “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” by English rock band Procol Harum, “The Axis” tells the tale of a character that is appalled by the other and can’t wait for them to leave. The last lines of this song “And by the time you hear these words/Your wicked face will be gone from my mind” perfectly exemplify the sentiment displayed here. The lyrics contrast with the 60s influenced melodies and like many of the lyrics on the album, they can be looked at in more than one way. They could be referencing the space imagery and the tale that is woven throughout A Weird Exits musical fabric or it be about a soured relationship.

As A Weird Exits ends, the controlled chaos found within both disconnects itself from past Oh Sees glories and stays connected with a previous make up. While many may say that the sound hasn’t changed that much, Thee Oh Sees music is both undeniably Thee Oh Sees and fresh sounding. With A Weird Exits, Thee Oh Sees focus on a new entry and exit point musically in a way that only they can.

Show 630 (Originally Aired September 10th, 2016):

1. Jay Jays - I Keep Tryin'
2. Brazilian Money - Big Money
3. Wild Racoon - Oh Well, Okay
4. No Aloha - Role Reversal
5. Car Seat Headrest - 1937 State Park
6. Tuns - Mind Over Matter
7. Tuns - To your Satisfaction
8. Angel Olsen - Shut Up Kiss Me
9. Cass Mccombs - Bum, Bum, Bum
10. Wilco - Someone To Lose
11. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Rings Of Saturn
12. Adam Ant - Friend Or Foe
13. Snake River - Who'll Tell Our Story?
14. The Sonics - Psycho
15. Caps - Red Headed Flea
16. Junior Raymen - Rumble 66
17. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - They Don't Call Them Chihuahuas Anymore
18. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - (Relax) You Will Think You Are A Chicken
19. MC5 - Future/Now
20. Van Morrison - The Way Young Lovers Do
21. Kim Gray - Frank Sinatra
22. Kim Gray - Yesterday's Smoke
23. Beat Happening - Polly Pereguinn
24. Thee Oh Sees - Tunnel Time
25. Violent Femmes - Killing Time
26. Buzzcocks - Time’s Up

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 10.

Show 629 (Originally Aired September 3rd, 2016):

1. Thee Oh Sees - Deadman's Gun
2. Thee Oh Sees - Plastic Plant
3. Condition - Wet Shoes
4. Perky Pat - The Bells
5. Art Bergmann - My Empty House
6. Kate Fagan - I Don’t Wanna Be Too Cool
7. Brain James - Where Did I Find A Girl Like You
8. Rock & Roll Monkey & The Robots - Liquefy
9. Gringo Star - Rotten
10. Jeremy & The Harlequins - Oh Yeah (I Did It Again)
11. Shotgun & Jaybird - Two And Two Is Four
12. Roy Culbertson III - Whole Eden
13. White Fence - Beat
14. The Zellots - Soldiers
15. Sheep Look Up - Civil Disobedience
16. Teenage Head - You’re Tearing Me Apart (Live 1978)
17. Neil Young - Albuquerque
18. Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War - Baby The Trans
19. X - The Once Over Twice
20. The Famines - Faux Famous (Live July 14, 2008)
21. Trout - This Mystic Decade
22. Ty Segall - People These Days
23. Red Hot Gospel - Reprise
24. Jay Arner - Crystal Ball
25. Them - I’m Gonna Dress In Black (Version 2)
26. The Scientists - Shake
27. The Scientists - Swampland

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for September 3.

Show 628 (Originally Aired August 27th, 2016):

1. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings -Tell Me
2. Barrett Strong - You Knows What To Do
3. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - Do Ya Feel It Too?
4. Cold Warps - Take Your Time
5. Cool Ghouls - Never You Mind
6. Hot Panda - Golden Arch
7. Snake River - I Was Very Drunk Jeanie
8. The Pack AD - Yes, I Know
9. Courtney Barnett - Aqua Profundal
10. Ranch Ghost - Ragged Mile
11. The Good Family - Restless River
12. James O-L - Yellow Gold
13. Ohtis - Runnin’
14. Danny Kroha - Angels Watching Over Me
15. Elvis Costello - Waiting For The End Of The World
16. The Finks - Magic Eyes
17. Gentlemen Of Horror - Overhead Projector
18. Pow Wows - You Haven’t Got Me Yet
19. Light Bulb Alley - I Only Got Two Feet
20. Pretty Things - Come See Me
21. Skinny Kids - All Gold
21. Thee Rum Coves - GCSB
22. The Halo Benders - Lonesome Sundown
23. Mystery Lights - Flowers In My Hair Demons In My Head
24. Thee Oh Sees - I Come From The Mountain (Live In San Francisco)
25. Thee Oh Sees - Tidal Wave (Live In San Francisco)
26. Thee Oh Sees - Gelatinous Cube

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for August 27.