Thursday, February 10, 2005
Sounds From the Darkroom | Golden Dragon Records
There are several ways to play surf music—a style of usually instrumental rock music that usually features watery, reverb-drenched guitar soloing. Bands like the Mermen have spaced-out psychedelic takes on surf music, while bands like The Infrareds—who formed right here in Monterey—have an aggressive, almost punk rock way of playing this style of music popularized by guitarist Dick Dale.
On their latest release, Sounds From the Darkroom, The Infrareds’ first four new songs—especially “The Rambo Kid” and “Matte Blood”—come on like a fast-moving set of massive waves. It isn’t until the fifth song, the beautiful “Pictures of Your Girlfriend,” that the band lets their listeners catch their breath. The rest of the album has the band mixing originals with covers like The Nocturnes’ “Third Star to the Left”—all of which are quite good—but it’s those first four songs that are essential listening for fans of punk or surf music or those wanting to have an introduction to The Infrareds’ potent sound.
The Infrareds play the Lava Lounge with the Slacktones and Darktown Rounders this Saturday at 10pm. (ST)
Surviving Elements: From the Soul Survivor II Sessions | BBE/Rapster
Yeah, this record might be made from tracks that didn’t make Soul Survivor II, but it’s still a damn good listen. Pete Rock is either the laziest, luckiest producer out there, or he’s just that hot on the beats. Don’t let the title fool you—Surviving Elements is on a different level from the original project altogether.
With straight instrumentals outtakes (hell, why bother with vocalists?), this is way more Soul than Survivor—if it wasn’t for Rock’s reunion with C.L. Smooth on Soul Survivor II, I’d say these joints take the cake. From the openers “You Remind Me” and “Hop, Skip & Jump,” Rock keeps the funk retro and smooth.
Whether or not this project was intended as a quick mixtape of leftovers, these joints can easily hold their own. They’re good for an extended jaunt in any smoking room lounge—and while it’s not quite center stage, it’s better than the cutting room floor. (BS)
Cut | Koch
Incredible enough when it first appeared in the late ‘70s, this impossibly-arty take on reggae, dissonance and ska has not only not aged at all, it sounds even freakier 25 years later. Four young London hipsterettes, including one with a mom who married Johnny Lydon-Rotten, making music that sounds even more abrasive now then when it was recorded—how the hell did they do this?
It could be that the grrrls understood that the upside down beats and off-putting lope that is the basis of reggae would naturally loan itself to unnatural quaver and “wrong” chords, as opposed to the R & B/folk derived melodies and arrangements of traditional Jamtown music. Songs like “Shoplifting” and “So Tough” are completely unimaginable in the hands of a trenchtown crooner, but put them in the hands of the English bohemian elite and you got something so brand new and bizarre that nothing else ever came close to it.
The crowning achievement is still the cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” with its indelible melody unbreakable in the hands of these subversives. The Slits—utter incompetents when they began and slickly weird by the time they cut this—pre-date Throwing Muses, Sleater-Kinney and countless other noisy chicks that followed. These are the godmothers—get it. (JA)