Eddy dusts off his old vinyl and scratches his head. We all win


BLURT readers. This column’s theme is fairly simple: Basically, I sort
alphabetic ally through my shelves for dusty old 7-inch vinyl indie singles
from acts that aren’t household names, and try to figure out why I wound up
keeping them in the first place. This is the 10th installment (first
two appeared at Idolator.)




THE LIDS – “No Fool For
You”/”Too Late”/”Nothing To Do” (Die Slaughterhaus, 2003)

Garage-punk brats
from…somewhere (there’s basically no information about them in the Internets),
seemingly singing into a toy microphone and hoping to be picked up by the
hand-held tape recorder down the hall. Fast, primal slop for hip young caveboys
and cavegirls. One chord and one sentence per song, if that. Guy tells us he’s
no fool for us; girl chimes in randomly in the background, seemingly responding
boy’s monosyllabic ramblings but lagging behind the beat. “Too late too late
too late.” “Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah.” Oddly, or maybe not (how easy or
difficult would this be?), all three songs are hooky anyway. “All I want is
something to do,” he sings bored through the blur; then…a time change, which
sends the music careening toward some semblance of climax. Which makes “Nothing
To Do” the Lids’ epic, almost.




Oates Have Disappeared”/ “Looks Like This City’s Broken” (SubPop, 2000)

The Stones to Pavement’s
Beatles? Whatever that means. Anyway, they’re from Brooklyn,
and “Hall and Oates Have Disappeared” – which, as far as I can tell, has
absolutely nothing to do with the Philly blue-eyed-soul duo in question – does
have a certain lower-minor-league Exile
On Main Street
muffle to its shuffle. Doesn’t really rock; not much drummer
push, but it’s got a little roll to it – and in 2000, and maybe even still now,
a little roll was at least a step in the right direction for notoriously scared-to-dance
indie rock. High-registered stuff about finding a parking spot in the parking
lot, then the music switches into a sort of vamp, even almost a hint of disco
throb at one point (did they think that was the Hall and Oates part?), with
whimsical noises gurgling out of it. Just sort of meanders on and on, but it
does quote “Space Oddity” by Bowie
at one point. “Looks Like This City’s Broken” has more of an apparent low-grade
attempt at a boogie riff. Given the city’s busted state, the singer suggests,
we should just turn around and go back. But to where? (



MATMOS – “On And On”/DIE
MONITR BATSS – “Black Out Cross” (Ache, 2004)

Baltimore-via Frisco duo Matmos
work plinks and urps into some robotic semblance of extended funk-like
repetition; drum-like objects of some sort double the rhythm, and then a
bassline enters — almost phat, in
its own geeky way, though presumably unrecognizable to Curtis Mayfield or
Gladys Knight fans who know the original song supposedly being covered. Thing
is, when the melody picks up, you can actually hear remnants of a mournful
“Freddie’s Dead”-style soul melody for a couple minutes; the emotion really accumulates.
And then it’s back to space-age robot wars. Die Monitr Batss, meanwhile, manage
a distant memory of boogie chug in their own post-punk way, with
Contortions-or-Lora-Logic-style free-jazz sax splat fleshing out the field.
“You can’t see me/I can’t see you” (or “can,” maybe – hard to tell.) “I’m not
gonna watch you do it” – so they’re not voyeurs. They have more instrumental
than vocal energy, though – Die Monotone Batss, they should be called. “Ho
Wave,” the Portlanders (somehow tangentially related to theoretically
dancefloor-unscared indie band the Gossip) call themselves on their Myspace
page; har har. Climaxes in yer usual Wagenerian post-Sonic Youth drone-clank.
But first, extroverted instrumental parts lead to a nervous breakdown, suggesting
an old woman falling out of a wheelchair during a magic show.





“Contaminated Dance Step”/ “Feelin’ Pretty Psyched (About Love)”
(Weapon-Shaped, 2002)

Another San Fran duo; this
one via L.A.,
and rapping. Or at least talking, or reciting poetry, or whatever you call it, with
a matter-of-fact diction, about logos and crescendos and managerial positions,
words coming at you way too fast for note-taking unless you remember way more
shorthand than I do. Not much attempt to use the voice as rhythm or maintain a
groove – and the background music sounds more like a movie soundtrack than
dance steps, contaminated or otherwise — but they sure pack in a lot of
syllables. Eventually the A-side song turns into some subliminally familiar
spiel about how “hyphenated Americans mean divided Americans.” An opinion that
goes back at least to Teddy Roosevelt, and which may well make Meanest Man
Contest unreliable narrators. Then there’s another spoken word sample: an intro
to Louis Armstrong playing trumpet. Then on the flipside, another long collage
suite, returning to what I assume to be the Mean Men’s own voices, talking
about a male professor who “wasn’t fired, he was let go.” More changes of direction,
more monotonous verbosity, different voices out of each speaker: “It was hidden
in the cardboard and the cobwebs, it is not dead.” “The stories suffer from
deadline pressure.” One guy starts almost actually rapping, sounding legitimately underground (rather than under-underground), rhyming about rising
like a phoenix something material venereal MCs get murdered in cereal. Pretty
sure he’s joking. “Aren’t we bitter little people, we ought to be unable to say
anything except sardonically.” Or something like that. He may not be joking
there, but then I may not be following him.




Love”/”That’s No Way To Get Along” (Smartguy, 2000)

Fuzzed-up megaphone grumbling
over blues chords; arty by virtue of production (or lack thereof) not
structure. At times he just beats his guitar, the only instrument here I think.
One of those eternal eccentrics, hunting for something to kill the pain. From London; now apparently in North Carolina. Yet despite its surface
weirdness, “Instant Love” sounds too average. Needs more of a hook, or
something, to justify its normality. “That’s No Way To Get Along” opens with
Delta picking, and is marginally more interesting by virtue of sounding more
antiquated. “I’m goin’ home/Don’t tell my mom.” Why not? Would she move before
you show up? An old song, I assume. Those lowdown women treat a person wrong,
and there’s no way to get along. Keeps returning to the same place — circular
like a roundelay, or round like a circle.





Chuck Eddy is the
former music editor of the
Village Voice and the author of several books, including the greatest book on heavy
metal ever written,
Stairway To Hell.
He won’t admit it, but he knows more about rock ‘n’ roll than the entire
accumulated BLURT brain trust.






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