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Matthew Berlyant: January 28, 2007

  1. The Fall – Reformation Post TLC (Slogan)

    A more experimental Lp than their previous one (2005’s Fall Heads Roll), this one features a completely different band from the one that played with MARK E. SMITH for most of this decade until last year’s infamous bust-up/tour abandonment with the exception of Smith’s wife, keyboaridst ELENA POULOU . Poulou even gets to sing “The Wright Stuff”, a song that reminds me a lot of “Hotel Bleidel” from the 1983 masterpiece Perverted by Language which was sung by Smith’s then-wife BRIX SMITH . That’s not the only change, however. The new band members (most of whom were recruited from the Los Angeles band DARKER MY LOVE ) contribute an almost ethereal element to some of the material that really suits it well. The standouts are “Reformation,” “Fall Sound,” “My Door is Never” and “Systematic Abuse”, which like “Reformation” has been a live staple for about a year now. Not all of it is on the mark, however. The 10-minute plus “Das Boat” is simply tedious and almost torturous to get through more than once and fans will be skipping this one much like “Revolution #9” or “Less than You Think” from WILCO ’s last album. In between, though, are more interesting and successful experiments like “Insult Song” (which seems self-referential and celebrate Smith’s new band members despite the title) and a cover of MERLE HAGGARD’s “White Line Fever” which is reminscent of the cover of “F’Oldin Money” on The Marshall Suite. Overall, after only a few listens I don’t know where this record will fit in with the rest of The Fall’s incredible back catalog, but I am enjoying it thus far despite my inclination that it would’ve been better had they waited to write more good material.

  2. Swiz – No Punches Pulled (Jade Tree)

    One of the leading lights in DC’s incredible late ‘80s/early ‘90s post-hardcore/emo scene, Swiz are yet another band (like IGNITION, SOULSIDE, GRAY MATTER and others) who made some of the best records I’ve ever heard, but never really got their due. This essential CD collects all of their recorded material (including 3 7” EPs, a 12” EP and their sole Lp, 1989’s Hell Yes, I Cheated) and since the vinyl is long out-of-print, this is really the easiest way to hear Swiz in this day and age. Highly recommended, especially if you want to explore the roots of emo before it was just a code word for diluted mall-punk.

  3. Instrument (Not Rated)

    Although I’ve been a fan of FUGAZI (the subject of this 1998 documentary) for 16 years now, for whatever reason I’d never seen this awe-inspiring documentary. Thanks to my girlfriend’s Netflix queue, though, that was just remedied the other night. Aside from showing clips from their entire career up to that point (one from a 1987 show at a gym here in Philadelphia where GUY PICCIOTTO climbs inside of a basketball goal and sings upside down while suspended from it has to be seen to be believed), the documentary explores the inner workings of Fugazi via interviews with all of its members as well as fans. Of high interest is the amazing black and white shots of fans waiting outside in line (and I see a few familiar faces in the line for a show at Trenton, NJ’s City Gardens in 1991, though I didn’t see them play there until the following year) as well as interviews with some fans. Fugazi lost a lot of fans after the release of 1995’s Red Medicine as their sound strayed further away from their hardcore roots (not that they ever conformed to hardcore convention) and a few fans’ bitterness, anger and in one case plain old ignorance over their “no dancing” policy is exposed here. Intrigued? Definitely see this!

  4. Mark Eitzel with Adam Arcuraggi – North Star Bar (Philadelphia, PA) – January 24, 2007

    Normally I put shows on my Top 10 list because they were really good. Unfortunately, it’s not the case here. I wanted to single it out here because it was one of the most disappointing and frustrating shows I’ve been to in a long time. Some rude, inconsiderate crowd members talked over Mark Eitzel’s entire solo set and he got more and more annoyed as the set went on, playing classic AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB songs way too fast in an eager rush to leave the venue, the frustration emanating over every pore of his being as he cursed out audience members left and right. I felt bad and sorry for him as we witnessed him storming out of there and driving away on North 27th Street faster than a fugitive in a high-speed chase. I just hope he gets a better reception the next time he plays Philadelphia and that this incident won’t discourage him from coming back here.

  5. Love – Four Sail (Elektra/Rhino)

    A hugely underrated Lp, Love’s fourth Lp is better than its more highly regarded first two albums in my opinion. Highlighted by classics like “August,” “Robert Montgomery,” “Singing Cowboy” and the amazing “Always See Your Face” (already made semi-famous by its inclusion on the soundtrack of High Fidelity), Four Sail showed that even though the original lineup of Love had splintered the year before after the creation of their masterpiece Forever Changes, ARTHUR LEE didn’t stop writing great material. In fact, this album is a lost late ‘60s classic that clearly shows Lee being influenced by people he himself inspired like SYD BARRETT and particularly JIMI HENDRIX. It also shows hints towards the bluesier, harder rock that would follow. This record, like others like it from the same time, could be viewed as a bridge between late ‘60s orchestral pop and the hard and progressive rock that would go on to dominate the ‘70s FM radio scene.

  6. For Against – Echelons (Words on Music)

    After years of reading about them in this very publication, I picked this up at Princeton Record Exchange for only $3.99 last weekend. As my first exposure to this band, I really like it. It’s hard to believe that they’re from Lincoln, Nebraska as their sound is clearly inspired by British post-punk outfits like THE CHAMELEONS, COMSAT ANGELS and the like. In fact, you could view this band as a bridge between those great bands and the dream-pop movement that followed in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

  7. Effigies – Remains Nonviewable (Touch and Go)

    After years of hearing about this revered ‘80s Chicago punk band, I picked this up recently and I see what all the fuss is about. Like an American answer to THE RUTS, Effigies combined hardcore punk with the rhythmic structures of dub and reggae to create a pulverizing, hypnotic sound that’s utterly unique. This is a compilation of early singles like “Body Bag” and “We’re Da Machine” as well as the Haunted Town EP. Unfortunately, though, the rest of their discography (the albums Ink and Fly on a Wire) remains out-of-print and has been disowned by the band, so for now this will have to suffice.

  8. Brent Liles September 7, 1963 – January 18, 2007

    Liles played bass on SOCIAL DISTORTION’s Mommy’s Little Monster (one of my favorite punk albums ever). Furthermore, he played (along with another former Social Distortion member, drummer DEREK O’BRIEN) bass for AGENT ORANGE in the late ‘80 and early ‘90s. He also appeared in the 1984 tour docmentary Another State of Mind. Tragically, he was killed by a truck as he rode his bicycle across the street in Placentia, California.

  9. Field Music – Tones of Town (Memphis Industries)

    A worthy successor to their 2005 debut, this fine album marks Field Music as worthy successors to XTC’s post- English Settlement work (particularly orchestral-pop albums like Mummer, Skylarking and Apple Venus). While the material on either of their full-lengths by and large isn’t anywhere near as strong as that of ANDY PARTRIDGE and COLIN MOULDING, my hope is that with time they will continue to develop from a good band to a great one.

  10. Josef K – Entomology (Domino)

    The first release available in the U.S. from this unheralded and short-lived at the time but recently rediscovered early ‘80s Scottish post-punk band, this collection compiles tracks from their two full-lengths Sorry for Laughing and The Only Fun in Town (both of which are unfortunately out-of-print) along with some of their Postcard Records singles and a 1981 Peel session. At times, they remind me of JOY DIVISION, GANG OF FOUR and on one track, MAGAZINE.

 

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