Weekly Capsule Reviews: 29/01/2017


This week: Nervvs, Half Japanese

Older releases/Classics: CAN, Conor Oberst, Touché Amoré

Nervvs: A Mixtape of Love Vol. One (EP) [self-released, 31/01/2017]

Simply known as Ian and Tom on their Facebook page with the self-proclaimed genre title of “sick-wave” and their About section of “Love is in the air”, Nervvs offers fuzzy garage, knowing-more-about-the-world-than-the-early-clairvoyants grunge, and Melvins I can hack without throwing my eyes up to the heavens—Melvins less the Melvins, shall I say? Too manifested in itself to say something as evident as “early Nirvana”, but I will anyway. If you like Kurt before he became Kurt Cobain you’d enjoy the final track “Seldom”—screamy vocals that are just as, if not more, comprehensible than the four tracks that precede it. On this minute evidence I’d take these guys over Girl Band. I think the music has more of a go-ahead nature—even if the fucking gain is a few notches down—and I can actually hear something which resembles some sort of a constructive tune. I’ve seen Girl Band in the flesh and when a bass player is bending as many strings as the already souped-up axeman, there’s only so much I can take. A five-track EP that solidifies some more local guitar music. We’ll keep an eye out. (8/10)


Half Japanese: Hear the Lions Roar [Fire, 13/01/2017]

Our fun little punks are back… again. Jad Fair is as nervous and scattered as ever. How else would we have him? Still carrying his unrepentant love-and-monsters prose with the recognisable lilt, Fair can definitely write love tunes, and they nearly never match his monsters. His sixty-something-year-old innocence is cute as much as unbearably extant but enough to forgive him and semi-look-forward to next year’s new album. Highlights here are the never-give-up[-on-love] “On the Right Track” and the title track’s John Cale-esque injection. Too musical for them, normally. (7/10)

Older releases/Classics

CAN: Ege Bamyasi [United Artists, November 1972]

With drummer Jaki Liebezeit leaving us a week or so ago I decided to travel back to CAN and their 1972 release Ege Bamyasi. Damo Suzuki’s competent opaqueness is met well with the competent and sometimes-opaque whimsy of the electronics and the always-rhythmic, never-cock-rock drum section of Liebezeit. CAN is a conglomerate of everything that’s been and, at times, was, moulding and merging all of popular culture’s and counterculture’s virtues and iniquities into a challenging set of rock diversity. Every song in this jam session, from the funk of “Pinch” to the outer-space deliverance of “Soup” to the still-floating-around-outer-space deliverance of “Spoon”, sees the German (and others) group create music that was, at times, for its time but for some reason is, unbeknownst to myself, too far ahead of its time now. Future days, eh? (8/10)

Conor Oberst: Ruminations [Nonesuch, 14/10/2016]

“Life’s an odd job/That she don’t got the nerve to quit”. This little beaut of nostalgia and contemporary politics has at least one of these little doozies in each track. That Ronald Reagan reference in “A Little Uncanny” reminds me of what’s going on now—the celebrity-turned-politician (still a celebrity) who touched the hearts of the US and played on their frustrations and of those further afield. The song structure of, roughly, piano-and-sometimes-guitar verse then harmonica-solo-and-chorus, repeat, is beautifully engineered. Like a mixtape with the rhythm section stripped out. He misses Christopher Hitchens, Oliver Sacks, Robin Williams, and Sylvia Platt; hates movie-star politics (hard to avoid it); and wasn’t star-struck by meeting his heroes (maybe he really does hate charisma in politics)—”Yeah, I met Lou Reed and Patti Smith/It didn’t make me feel different/I guess I lost all my innocence/Way too long ago”. An honest man. (8/10)

Touché Amoré: Stage Four [Epitaph, 16/09/2016]

Jeremy Bolm sings of the passing of his mother from cancer. He skips over songs from Sun Kil Moon and At the Drive-In because they’re too close to the bone and too much to take. I absolutely adore the riff on “Rapture” along with the emotional subject matter of regretting being on stage “living the dream” when his mother finally succumbed to the cancer, surviving a car crash and clutching to the straws that it was a “sign” from her to keep the faith, and not having the courage to listen back to her final message to him. As far as screamo goes this is real despair and emotion where pouring your heart out won’t come back to bite you in the hole when the cash comes rolling in. A proper homage to his mother and, maybe even in a few years, emo itself. (8/10)


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