Archive for 'Consumer Report'

Think I’m going to try to make this a yearly at-random feature, although I missed 2017 (and, umm, 2016), sadly. I spend far too much of my free time avoiding friends and family in favor of staring at Discogs.com, steadily increasing my useless knowledge, so I figured it’s only right to share. If you’re not familiar with previous installments, click on the “Consumer Report” link on the right side of this website to review previous editions, wherein I discuss killer and obscure records that can be had for five dollars (or usually less) over at the site, many of which are still available now, years later! It must be some weird and random lack of spotlight or scarcity that’s relegated these fantastic records to the floor-level dollar bin instead of a three-figure price tag on the wall, but that’s good news for you, the savvy vinyl consumer. I’ve got five more records I strongly recommend, and not including shipping, can all be yours for like twenty bucks combined.

Big Two Hundred Your Personal Filth 2xLP (D.C. Recordings, 2002)
Here’s a record that, back in 2002, I thought would’ve been a surefire hit. The Rapture and !!! and that wave of Brooklyn indie dance-punk was taking the world by storm, and while Big Two Hundred were from somewhere in the UK (very little information exists online so I can’t say exactly where), they certainly had “it”. Huge and spacious live drums, funky basslines that nod to ESG and Can in equal measure, and various studio effects and intriguing percussive elements, from Space Echo-ed keys to occasional vocal murmuring and other unidentified instrumentation. They were mostly an instrumental group, but these songs had legs, besting (and predating) the motorik mutant-disco funk of Tussle, who I also loved at the time (and suppose I still do). Maybe it’s because Big Two Hundred didn’t wear skinny jeans, or were from the wrong side of the pond, where jungle and rave were still the predominant form of underground dance expression? Their records all came care of D.C. Recordings, mostly known as a breakbeat / trip-hop label, after all. Whatever the case, if you check the primitive no-wave strut of “Replaceable Head” and realize you need it in your life, it won’t cost you very much.

Lenny Dee Fuckin Hostile 12″ (Industrial Strength, 1993)
Allow me but one “desert island” gabber record and I’m reaching for Lenny Dee’s spectacular Fuckin Hostile. It’s pure, untainted hardcore gabber techno direct from the source, Industrial Strength Records, storming in at 185 BPM and completely unrepentant. Everything sounds like it was baked with a thin crust of distortion, right down to the staph-infected hi-hats, but it’s the short vocal clip (Phil Anselmo off Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile”, naturally) that elevates this cut to anthem status. Much in the way that Merzbow explained his noise philosophy as attempting to elongate the peak ecstatic moment of a Jimi Hendrix solo or Robert Plant wail, Lenny Dee grabs perhaps the best two words Phil Anselmo has ever screamed and churns it out at a level of pure hardcore aggression previously inexperienced, upping the ante for all parties involved. It’s a real headbanger, and comes with a couple remixes. You’ll want to enjoy all three.

Dykehouse Midrange LP (Ghostly International, 2004)
Ghostly is one of the most successful American electronic labels, and rightfully so, but I was always surprised that Dykehouse never really went anywhere. Maybe it’s the name? It’s kind of aggressive and rude, and it betrays the synthesized, heart-achey, shoegazing bliss that lies within. The hit is “Chain Smoking”, which was also released on 7″ (and I think sells for literal pennies on Discogs, as opposed to the $4.16 an LP will cost you), but as a whole Midrange is a stunning collection of guarded pop, filled with chiming melodies, artificial drums and breathy vocals. Imagine Slowdive’s American cyborg cousin, full of dark wit and cynicism but never at the expense of a soaring chorus or uplifting hook. Right around when this came out, I heard from a friend that Dykehouse’s live show was more insult comedy than music, like a John Maus with a tiny number of fans and Todd Barry’s nihilist streak, and I’m so sad I never got to experience it myself. I wonder what he’s up to today? Maybe we are about to enter a Dykehouse renaissance.

Flowerpot Men Jo’s So Mean 12″ (Compost, 1984)
You probably didn’t even have to look at the date to guess that a group called “Flowerpot Men” were from the ’80s, but this is prime ’80s material, the sort of thing you’d fantasize about creating if you could go back in time to 1983 and meet some other freaks in sleeveless leather vests and eyeliner. I’m pretty sure “Jo’s So Mean To Josephine” has been comped here or there, and rightfully so – it’s the perfect amalgam of Suicide and goth-industrial with a very Nick Cave vocal delivery and a menacing synth that Trent Reznor wish he knew about back in 1984. If you DJ any remotely goth dance party and don’t have one of these in your crate, what’s taking so long? Or if you’re a shut-in home listener like me, it sounds just as good in solitary confinement. Elegantly brutal and highly effective! I have yet to fully immerse myself in Flowerpot Men’s discography, but I need to know if they’ve got anything else like this lingering out there. (Their cover of “Walk On Gilded Splinters” is great and also quite cheap.) I forget what the other two tracks on here are like, so I quickly revisited “UG”, which sounds like a hurried experiment of Severed Heads or Cabaret Voltaire gone awry, which of course is a wonderful thing.

M.C. Monkey & Ape With Attitude Human Zoo Pts 1 + 2 7″ (Kryptonite, 2004)
Here’s the only remotely “punk” record of this installment, but it’s so damn punk it makes up for all the electronic stuff listed above. I’m not entirely sure of the origins of this duo – one guy was in Last Sons of Krypton, the other who knows, but they really located that elusive spark of punk rock magic here. If it came out in 1978, you’d be bidding deep into the hundreds for a copy, but it’s from 2004 and probably was never really purchased when it first came out, so it’s still semi-available for pocket change. Think Freestone or The Dogs (the Rot N’ Roll one) at their most unhinged, both members flopping around like Iggys out of water but instead of being surrounded by razor blades and groupies, they’re in a basement with their old Fisher Price toys and a guitar amp you can easily carry in one hand. The track spans both sides and trails off into incomprehensability right around the start of “Part 2”, but it’s all gloriously idiotic punk rock, made for the purpose of no one’s enjoyment but their own. Joke’s on them, because I love the hell out of Human Zoo, and urge you to snag one before the punk collector cognoscenti realize what they’ve been foolishly ignoring for too long.

Discogs Bargain Gems

Sorry, no interview this month – it just didn’t come together. Perhaps that’s because I’ve spent much of my free time combing the listings over at Discogs.com, particularly as the value of the Euro continues to drop and the complete Hessle Audio and Pan discographies grow closer within my reach. Please instead enjoy this third installment of cheap Discogs finds, all records that are currently available for purchase at $5 or less on the site. In my opinion, these records are far superior to most new ones coming out today at exponentially higher retail prices. Future-bonzers, I may dream, if musical and aesthetic quality have anything to do with it. Dig in!

Coleman Coleman 7″ (Heliotrope, 1994)
’90s emo-core gets a lot of flack these days, with images of young men in baggy pants and bead necklaces, their bellies full with Taco Bell (the only vegan fast food option at the time) as they weep on stage. So many of these bands are ripe for mockery, but there were also some bands whose intensity, violence and emotion have rarely been matched before or after, like Coleman. Their singer would bash her own face in with the microphone (proto-Hoax?), the band would crumple to the floor and the ugliness of their music somehow matched the visual experience – here is a band that wasn’t talking about the suffering of earthworms so much as exuding actual pain. This 7″ is a fantastic, hand-assembled example of how nasty emo-core could be, some sort of amateurish Antioch Arrow / Harry Pussy hybrid with Metal Zone distortion. Great audio samples between tracks too, as was commonplace for their time and scene, which really tie the whole thing together.

Boy Toy Touch My Body 12″ (Kaos Dance, 1989)
Seems like every week there’s a new high-priced reissue of some synth/wave/dance obscurity (now considered seminal by the label reissuing it, of course), and while many of those are nice, you’d need a second job to keep up. Thank God you can buy this Boy Toy 12″ for $2.62 and obtain its menacing Belgian nu-beat sound without any fuss, in that case! This track (the 12″, 7″ and “maxi CD” versions feature both vocal and instrumental versions) has enough sleaze to satisfy a Lords Of Acid acolyte and a relentless squelching loop that would make Helena Hauff blush. Plus, the singer’s name is listed as “Jade 4U”, which predates spam-bot email names by at least a few years. All yours for the cost of coffee and a donut!

Deathrage / The Burnt Split 6″ (Headache, 1993)
The Headache label has released dozens of classic street-punk records through its tenure, but none are quite as twisted, stupid and genius as this one. Deathrage (who I don’t believe have released any other music before or after) are like the logical heirs to Cyanamid’s throne, offering a chilling first-person account of, as the song says, murdering the Brady Bunch. It’s the best song Drunks With Guns never wrote, and would be my first choice were there ever to be a proper “Obscure ’90s Noise Punk” compilation. You can just tell someone is shoving a screwdriver into a crusty old Fender as each family member is murdered, and while each death is creative, the bowling-ball-related one is particularly great (I won’t spoil it for you). The Burnt, on the other hand, quickly shoot through a punked-up cover of The Flintstones‘ theme song. All this on a red vinyl 6″ (yes, 6″) record. Perfection.

Schlammpeitziger Augenwischwaldmoppgeflöte LP (A-Musik, 1999)
I initially stumbled upon this record at a second-hand record shop, liked the looks of those giant song titles (and the fact that it was super cheap), and took it home with me, hopes not particularly high. Well, I still have no real idea what the story behind Schlammpeitziger is, except that one of the Mouse On Mars guys helped mix it, and that it’s basically the perfect mixture of fuzzy electronica, DIY synth experimentation and rigid Kraftwerkian electro-motorik. It’s the sort of sound that could only really come from the late ’90s – you can tell Schlammpeitziger were listening to plenty of Aphex Twin and Oval, but filtered that through the Kompakt empire and the looming shadow of Michael Rother. It’s a fantastic album for dinner preparation, magazine reading or just staring out the window on a long car ride, and if you enjoy it, nine other Schlammpeitziger albums can be obtained for just as cheaply.

Active Minds Capitalism Is A Disease, And Money An Addictive Drug… 7″ (Loony Tunes, 1991)
I’m just gonna come out and say it – this might be the most fucked-up “punk” 7″ I’ve ever heard. Active Minds are a fairly boring political crust-punk band, their name littered across so many compilations and patch-covered jackets, but this 7″… words can barely describe. It really comes down to the first track, “Take A Straight Look At A Crooked World”, which is equal parts Legend Of Zelda castle-music and drum-machine d-beat (which sounds like synthetic guitar and a popcorn popper). There’s a video for the track on the accompanying Discogs page, so just go listen. I’ve spent hours air-guitaring and dancing to this song with friends, and my life is significantly richer for having heard it. Oh, and it’s nearly six minutes long, and there are still two other tracks on the a-side, and six other tracks on the b-side! Ironically, the cover art has a big “Pay No More than ¬£1.20” scrawled on it, and as multiple copies are for sale at a dollar (both online and in used record shops the world over), it might be the least-necessary price restriction ever to appear on a punk record.