I often view compilation records in the same way I view most festivals – too often, you need to wade through so much flotsam to enjoy the treasure. When the tracks on the compilation in question are culled from the roster of a label like Brooklyn-based Wharf Cat, however, they are well worth the effort.
Happily then, Wharf Cat recently announced the April 20 release of a compilation benefitting the ACLU ($30 from every $32 double-LP sold will go to the organization) — an ever-worthy cause, and no more so in these times of heightened, and increasingly naked, race baiting and attacks on civil rights under those tired dog whistles of ‘law and order’ and ‘national security’. Or, as the label puts it, the “ongoing assault on the Constitution”.
The bands on offer include tgh favorites like The Men, Snakehole, Profligate, Trust Punks (represented by Joe’s new band, Cheerleader – can’t wait to hear that one) and Psychic Blood, as well as a host of other notable acts. Wharf Cat has shared two tracks to whet your appetite (check them out, below): the freewheeling ruminations of “Too Sensitive” by Dollar Band (featuring members of Gun Outfit) and the glistening psych-wave of “Hourglass”, courtesy of Alice Glass.
Tropical Skin Byrds, S/T EP (Wharf Cat Records, 1/13/2017)
‘your pain is my pleasure”
Tropical Skin Byrds is a musical trio comprised of artist Nina Hartmann on vocals and bass, ZZ Ramirez (of tgh fav, Ukiah Drag) on guitar and Sean Halpin on drums.
Teaser cuts, “Cut it Off” and “Venus In Fury” set the tone nicely, with Ramirez’s chugging, Ginnesque lines pushed way up front in the mix, backed by Halpin’s sledgehammer drumming. The overall effect is blissfully disorienting, the music buffeting as Hartmann’s insistent cries strobe from somewhere at the center of the maelstrom (something in her vocal delivery recalls Lydia Lunch, crossed with Kyle Toucher – ok, maybe just me). Stylistically, there are touches of Sonic Youth’s SST years (think Confusion Is Sex and songs like “Death to Our Friends”) and more experimental hardcore like Flipper and Saccharine Trust. It’s a great, arresting listen.
The EP is out now, courtesy of the oh so fine Wharf Cat label (seriously, check the catalog). Not much to find on the band, for now, so continue to scour the interwebs for any info relating to tours, further releases, fan club meet and greets, séances, etc.
The Ukiah Drag, “Open Room In Hell”, “Criminal Authority” (Wharf Cat Records)
Two new tracks from The Ukiah Drag, the band’s first since last year’s excellent In the Reaper’s Quarters LP.
The first, “Open Room In Hell”, is swirling, vertiginous, reminiscent of early Butthole Surfers. The titular chamber – a “monument of filth” where “every cocksucker’s mouth has been sewn shut” and third eyes are stabbed; where the narrator “lays [his] head”, “sick” and wanting you to die – is described in lurid detail, making the track a kind of aural Hieronymus Bosch hellscape. Perhaps the room’s for let, and this is a kind of Craig’s List or Airbnb listing for the fallen – any takers?
The second, “Criminal Authority” swings with a Cramps-like, malevolent strut. The lyrics depict someone condemning with rising, crazed indignation, the “evil ways” of an unnamed other (or maybe the ‘man in the mirror’?) and the way they “play”. Vocalist ZZ Ramirez rails and moans, and the swampy, acid trip production and use of distorted synth and organ gives the feel of a particularly off-putting tent revival, or the unsettling feel of hearing your unhinged neighbor rant, rave and break shit upstairs.
Both tracks will appear on The Ukiah Drag’s upcoming EP, fittingly entitled Crypt Cruiser, due September 4 on Wharf Cat Records. We can’t wait.