I had to do a double take when I laid eyes on this earlier today, because this is the least Madonna-like cover I’ve ever seen on a Madonna record. And sure it enough, it’s the Material Girl herself with her first-ever single, “Everybody”, which came out in October 1982, about six months before her self-titled debut album. “Everybody” is the final song on that record, though the version is different – on the album it clocks in at just under five minutes, while on the A side of the single it’s almost six. The B side of the single consists of a nine-and-a-half minute dub of the track.
Honestly I’m primarily posting about this because of the cover. It’s so strange to see a Madonna 12″ that doesn’t feature the singer herself on the front. Her second single, “Burning Up”, is a transition – the colors are much more like “Everybody”, but the cover is divided into 20 smaller sections each comprised of an artsy Madonna head shot. By “Holiday / Everybody” we’re in full-on Madonna photo mode, which more or less became the norm. The songs are, of course, pretty great – I’m a fan, particularly of the first three albums, and I think the music has held up pretty well (in fact this style is sort of making a bit of a comeback). I particularly like the dub version – her songs just lend themselves to the remix treatment.
We first met Josh Cottreau at Iceland Airwaves back in 2010. “Met” might not be the right word for it, more like “encountered”. Josh was there with his band Cities Between Us and they hit the streets in the early evening with a homemade sign inviting people to their show at Faktorý. With a work ethic like that, how could we not go see them? Despite their best efforts, though, it was a sparse crowd; the opening slots at Airwaves were quite often poorly attended in a city that normally doesn’t hit the streets on the weekends until after 10PM. But even with the very small crowd they played their show at 100 miles per hour and Josh just about burst into flames with all the energy he was expending on stage. I have no idea how his vocal cords held up.
We connected on Facebook, though never again in real life. A number of years ago he moved to Australia and got married. And then one day he mentioned that he was in a band again. And that band, my friends, is Fangz.
If I had to describe Fangz in a couple of words, I’d say they’re “Party Rock”. This is music about having a good time, and for use when you’re having a good time. It’s hanging-out-with-your-friends-and-drinking-beer rock. It’s fast. It’s hard. It’s not subtle – it hits you right between the eyes and says, “you want more of this?” And yes, yes I do.
So far this year Fangz has released a pair of 7″ singles – “One For You One For Me” b/w “Wastr”, and “Voices” b/w “Crossroads”. Both are available for purchase online HERE along with assorted other merch, including a band beer koozie, which should tell you everything that you need to know. Fangz are here to party with you and rock your face off.
You don’t need me to tell you how killer these songs are – you can see and hear for yourself below. Fangz are making plenty of noise in the scene Down Under, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to see them up in the Northern Hemisphere at some point. I for one will be keeping an eye on these guys in the months to come – they’re got a great future ahead of them.
Sometimes I ask myself questions like, “Is it OK to review a digital-only release on a blog dedicated to vinyl”, or “Should I write about this record if I’m ambivalent about it”. If I’m foolish enough to ask things like this out loud and within earshot of Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane, inevitably she’ll remind me, “It’s your blog, you can do whatever you want on it”. Which is both true and good advice. Recently I’ve been asking myself if a compilation could qualify for my year-end Top 5 releases list, and based on the strength of Blizzard People and my wife’s insightful reminders I think that answer is a definitive yes, at least for 2019, because it’s that good.
The digital release of the six song Blizzard People came out back in March, and conservatively I’d guess I’ve played it at least 30 times since then. It’s definitely the 2019 release I’ve played the most times this year, and I’m still not even remotely tired of it. I’ve been holding off writing about it until the vinyl version came out and earlier this week it appeared in my mailbox, so away we go.
I was hooked right from the opening beats of Logitech’s “Leather Forecast” and its refrain, does your wife even know… It’s mysterious and mildly dangerous, the raised eyebrow of a bystander who finds themselves surprisingly attracted to something they normally wouldn’t give a second look. Does your wife even know… maybe you’re actually into this even though you’d never even considered it before. And that’s both exciting and a bit unsettling, just like these beats.
While I was already familiar with Iceland’s Sweaty Records from their 2016 VA_001 comp and therefore on board with their aesthetic, it was the involvement of Kuldaboli that initially drew me to Blizzard People. And here he’s paired with none other than Volruptus, the duo combining on the high-tempo scattershot “Nightvision”, a high-pitched Speed Racer of a jam that would wear me out on the dance floor even though it’s only four-and-a-half minutes long.
Blizzard People is available online at Bandcamp HERE, both digitally and on vinyl (€12). And I say get it while you can because this thing is hot as hell – all six tracks are outstanding.
tate/allison is JR Tate and Billy Allison, a couple of guys who met in music school in the San Gabriel Valley, just outside of Los Angeles. The duo have backgrounds in big band, jazz, and rock, but also an affinity for noise, and they brought all those disparate pieces together on their new release Jazz Machines.
Jazz Machines opens with the 23+ minute “Rain”. The first third of the track creates an overall ambient soundscape with a distinctly non-electronic, instrumental warmth about it. The horn takes a more prominent place as we progress, the composition splintering into different subelements as the intensity attacks and relents. There are elements of free jazz at play, but much of the vibe remains minimalist and some passages feel quite intentional and not so improvisational, the overall subtlety making the noisier portions that much more jarring. “Washer/Dryer” hits the listener with more discordant sounds early on, taking a more aggressive stance. I sense a broader range of instrumentation here as well, including some electric guitar feedback that would have made Hendrix proud. The track is more reminiscent of experimental rock than free jazz, in part due to the more prominent place of the guitar and other obviously electronic elements. At 36 minutes it’s a marathon, but one that never gets old or tired. “Train” opens in a much gloomier place, like a dark night in a run-down harbor district, damp, cold, and dangerous. It retains that somberness throughout, a film-noir-esque soundtrack (and at 28 minutes, it could indeed score an entire film) to those places that are best avoided. Compared to the other tunes, “detergent” is almost punk rock at just over five minutes in length, a song that retains its ambient core throughout and serves as a relaxing outdo to the overall Jazz Machines experience.
Jazz Machines is available on limited edition cassette and digital download via the art throughsound Bandcamp page HERE.
Rhythm & Noise was one of a number of musical projects involving Naut Humon, and Chasms Accord was the second and final album put out under that name. It’s an intriguing record and not at all what I expected. The sound of an orchestra warming up overlaid on jungle beats. Triumphant synths. Machinery. Everything and nothing, sometimes organized and sometimes random. Though there are 13 tracks, they feel more like part of a cohesive whole than separate compositions, even when the style changes abruptly. The whole thing has a very soundtrack-like quality about it, an undercurrent of interconnectedness that somehow holds everything together. Chasms Accord holds up better than many if not most experimental albums.