Wednesday, June 15, 2005

N, I

Neu! – s/t

The third of the three Krautrock records that I own. My favorite of the batch- none of the hippie jam leanings of Can; slightly more engaging than Faust. This has the same vibe as the latter does, the kinda textured Stereolab-sounding soundscape thing (except that these guys did it way before Stereolab ever did, I know- consult my Faust review for the whole spiel about that). I do like that Neu! establishes this mood, and then, like two-thirds of the way through, they throw this huge, dissonant clang in to fuck with you.

Neurosis- Times Of Grace

The toughest article of clothing I own is my long-sleeve Neurosis t-shirt. Wearing it is like being a Mason- doors open wide for members. Seriously. No faster way to get weird looks at work (not that I have any problem with that), no faster way to get people to move one seat down on the train. And, most importantly, no faster way to get into the Model without I.D. The guys at the door see the shirt, give a slight nod, then open the door for me. Tough dudes inside smile slightly as their eyes, doing the t-shirt check, stop squarely on my chest. The drunk throngs part silently as I walk past the line for the graffitied mens’ room. Membership has its privileges.

Not that anyone actually listens to Neurosis or anything. I mean, sure, you go through record collections and occasionally find a few Neurosis albums (usually ‘Enemy Of The Sun’, the record that everyone considers to be the seminal album in the band’s career even though, again, no one ever actually listens to it). Thing is, though, that the band’s material is so unyielding in its howling ferocity that it’s hard to sit through more than a few songs at a time- absolutely punishing stuff, the heaviest record that I own. The t-shirts and hoodies the bands’ fans wear are like badges of honor, testaments to the fact that the wearer has made it through a few songs, anyway. (I have a Swans shirt that elicits similar reactions, but less often- it’s my heavy Fagen shirt.)

There’s a companion disc that consists of all drums, simply titled ‘Grace’, which you can play at the same time as ‘Times Of Grace’ to be punished even further. Can you imagine? I think if you listen to both records at the same time, you should get a chevron on the sleeve of your Neurosis tee, so that everyone knows how badass you are. It’s like when you’re a Mason- if you get to the second-to-last level you get to be a Shriner and drive around a little car in a parade. I’m not sure what the last level of Neurosis Masonry is, but I’m trying hard to find out, because the last level is when they teach you mind control.

New Rising Sons- Thieves And Angels

During their tenure, Texas Is The Reason were the most visible bearers of the emo flag. I can’t remember a band casting such a long, divisive shadow. If you were in, you were all in, standing up front and weeping as Norm Arenas (he of the excellent, largely forgotten fanzine Anti-) hopped across the stage with his guitar. If you weren’t down, chances were you were talking a bunch of shit in your own zine while praising the virtues of obscure metalcore bands like Jesuit and Barritt. There wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of middle ground.

When Texas broke up, the emo kids continued to weep and bang their hands against their sweater-vested chests while the rest of the scene cheered (Revelation, I’d guess, put their t-shirt presses into high gear- nothing sells better than nostalgia.)

Garrett Klahn, Texas’s singer, resurfaced a little while later in a band called the New Rising Sons. The emo battalions bought the record, listened to it once, then promptly sold it back- I betcha you could find a copy in a used bin for maybe a buck or two (that’s where I bought mine).

Four song EP, which features a photo of the band lookin’ all shaggy and kinda mod-ish. I admit to being a little shocked when I first heard the album back in the day- you do know that I was/am one of ‘the kids’, right?- but, in retrospect, the act was a little ahead of their time, and make sense. Some nice guitar-based pop that would sound pretty good on the radio. It just had the misfortune of being made by an ex-member-of- from one of the pickiest and snobbiest fanbases around. (What do the old emo kids listen to nowadays, anyway?)

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