Monday, January 17, 2011

Revenge of the Quick Ripple Bursts – Featuring The Green Pajamas, The Hitmen, VTG, Crowded House, and Panzie

Green Pajamas – The Red, Red Rose

I’d already professed my admiration for Jeff Kelly, both for his solo work and his work with the Green Pajamas.  Now let’s add "moved" to the list of adjectives to describe how I feel about his music.  When Massachusetts high school student Phoebe Prince committed suicide in January 2010 rather than face another day of bullying from her classmates, Jeff recorded “The Red, Red Rose (Song for Phoebe Prince)” . Employing his trademark, sly psychedelic pop, “Red, Red Rose” is a heart-rendering, pain-laid-bare tribute to her life and condemnation of the bullies who caused her death.  Never maudlin or melodramatic, Jeff captures the power and sadness of the moment as sure as water crystallizes to ice.  “One January afternoon / They killed you in your school clothes/As sure as winter’s cruel hands/clutch and kill the red, red rose.”  Beautiful powerful stuff.

The rest of this 5-song EP released by Green Monkey Records follows suit, ranging from forlorn songs of life lost (“Little Dreams”) to wistful, playful remembrances of happier times (“Just Another Perfect Day.”) Through it all, Jeff and the band are spot on.  Gorgeous, dreamy, moving pop.

The Hitmen – Smashface

Digging deeper into the Green Monkey Catalog, we get this brand new reissue of a true lost classic of peppy, driving, post-punk quirk rock.  A while back, I’d written about the Green Monkey Compilation, It Came from the Basement, where The Hitmen definitely stood out as one of the gems of the GM catalog.  Originally released in 1990, Smashface garnered some local airplay before sinking into obscurity.  Now we get the whole shebang, quirky warts, hidden treasures and all.  Ranging from Robin Hitchcock and the Egyptians-styled eccentric rock to more a raw, punky agit-garage pop, each song on Smashface is a surprise journey into some art-whacked parallel dimension of quirkville, without ever losing it’s rooting in steady melodies and perfect performances.  “I Love Your Poems of Love,” and “Thrasher’s Corner,” the two songs from the GM compilation reign supreme here, just perfect slices of eclectic brilliance, but that does nothing to diminish the bizarre splendor of “Ice Age,” or the frenetic aggro of “The Stuff.”  Think an American version of Squeeze and you wont’ be too far off.  Just listen to “My Love Ran Out,” and you’ll see.  If you’re tastes run from the eclectic to the artful, to the poppy, you may have just found your new favorite band.  One listen to “I Love Your Poems of Love” was all it took to convince me.

Vtg – Love is Letting Go

After having just listening to Cancer Killing Gemini, perhaps I was primed to jump onto the next industrial band that came my way, but let me tell you, Vtg made that easy.  On this 6-song mini-album, Vtg lay out some of the trashiest, sexiest, dirtiest techno industrial rock out there.  But don’t think industrial in the true sense of the word, there no grinding guitars or massive distortion of mechanized distress a la Ministry here.  Sure, there’s the requisite Nine Inch Nails influence, but Vtg main man, Lawrence Stone’s not content to stop there.  Lying underneath the tortured moan of his vocals is some screaming electro rock, dark techno, and a hint of grunge, all twisted up in his own sadistic, pornographic world of demented sex.“I Lie Pretty,” is just about as grabby an opener as you could ask for, but it’s really the second song, “You” that puts this steamy electro-orgasm into the world’s S&M clubs.  Over that throbbing bass-- just made for pelvic grinding-- we get a bodily fluid-filled, juice-fest of metallic riffs, hypnotic beats, and condom-destroying synth washes.  You’ll either feel dirty as hell or completely satiated after hearing this one. 

For me it was the latter. 

Crowded House – The Very, Very Best of Crowded House

Crowded House needs no introduction.  Any lover of blissful late ‘80’s, early ‘90’s pop knows their signature sound of perfect melodies, and Neil Finn’s imaginative songwriting.  And any fan of theirs will be clamoring for this career-spanning, 25th anniversary release which features 19 tracks, or 32 on the expanded digital offering.  Sure you know “Don’t Dream it’s Over,” “Something so Strong,” and “Better Be Home Soon,” but buy this for the funky psychedelia of “It’s Only Natural,” or the confident swagger of  “Chocolate Cake,” or the sublime beauty of “Don’t Stop Now.”  A clinic in pop songwriting perfection.

 Panzie - S/T

Pure bath-tub brewed, crystal -methamphetamine sleaze and roll.  Toss in a tad of the demented industrial bent of Rob Zombie and we got a brew that toxic, lethal, and not at all pretty.  Looking at the "photos" of these cats with such awesome rock 'n' roll names as Johnny Hawiian, Jonnie Rockit, and Warren Rock, you gotta wonder if there's any blood left in their meth-stream.  I mean, I've never seen 5 guys who look like they embrace the rock danger-style as fiercely as these, crawled from under the stones gutter rats.  "Built on Hate" is simply a terror of industrial speed destructo-sleaze that has to be heard to be believed.  Absolutely, one of my favorite nut-busters of the year.  "Dance (mofo)" follows closely behind with it's neighborhood-threatening bottom end, razorblade guitars, and drug-adled chorus.  This is dance music for the psychotic, scuzzball set at it's finest.  Remember the name, Panzie.  Great shit!


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