Monday, January 30, 2012

Julie Jumper: Rhythm Radar 7"

Here is a 7” from 1982 that’s ostensibly a one-woman vanity project by a Richmond, VA based girl named Julie Jumper. I think the best way to describe it is “outsider electro”. On the A side, Rhythm Radar, she sings in a super-poppy 60s girl-group style over gurgling, pulsating, screeching, and beeping electronics. It’s endearingly amateur, and also quite subversive in its earworm-like catchiness, especially as she exclaims “no-one wants to vegetate so GYRATE! GYRATE!”. If you’ve ever wanted to hear, I don’t know... Liaisons Dangereuses fronted by Cyndi Lauper, this is probably the closest you’re ever going to get.

The B side, Male Rites, is a decidedly feminist argument for stronger male roles in sex and reproductive responsibility. If I heard this on the radio or on a podcast, I would just assume it was a Le Tigre or Chicks on Speed song from about 10 years ago. The song is certainly a bit snotty (in a punk sort of way) and quite clever in its adamant political stance. It alternates between noodling electronics and full-on synthpop when the intermittent rhythm machine kicks in. My copy has a weird “haze” sort of defect on it that causes crackling on the B side. I cleaned it up a bit, but it’s still present, mainly at the beginning.

After she released this 7”, Julie went on to form a similar group called O.Boy with two other girls (two rhythm boxes, a synth, and vocals), who are still quite legendary in the local Richmond scene. While they recorded some tracks together, I don’t know if they ever actually released anything. I'd be interested if anyone has any info or songs from them, though.

Julie Jumper: Rhythm Radar 7”

1982, Restless Records

A: Rhythm Radar

B: Male Rites

Click here to listen!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tirez Tirez: Scattered 7”

Here is a record that will certainly please fans of early US and UK DIY post-punk. I’ve seen requests for this self-released debut 7” from Mikel Rouse’s band Tirez Tirez and after finally tracking down a copy I’m happy to share this rarity.

As indicated above, this record was self-released by the band, in 1979. Tirez Tirez initially hailed from that bastion of art-punk… Missouri. After opening for the Talking Heads there, Rouse packed his bags and moved to New York, where he found a more receptive audience. Tirez Tirez’s art-wave is extremely European sounding. Combine this with the fact that their first couple albums and singles were initially (or only) released in Europe and you’d be likely to think they were from the UK (I certainly did for several years).

This record is among the more sought-after and rare US DIY records, and for good reason. While the music on this record is a bit rough around the edges – a little lo-fi and less developed than their later material –it’s still a solid record. The A side, Scattered, is a drumless track filled with reverbed and fuzzy 60s-style guitars and almost crosses over into a “punk poetry” vein along the lines of John Cooper Clarke or early Patrik Fitzgerald. The B side, Scenery, is more accessible and full sounding, with an uptempo beat and loads of repetitive keyboards and synth lines - kind of like a less melancholy version of early Tuxedomoon. The record is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but fans of the raw DIY new wave of the Messthetics and Homework compilations will appreciate it.

Tirez Tirez: Scattered 7"

1979, self-released

A: Scattered

B: Scenery

Click here to listen!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Basic Scream: Tales of Intoxication LP

Here’s a pretty obscure LP from the Netherlands. It’s a self-released and self-produced record from a band called Basic Scream. It’s a bit surprising that this is so unknown, since it really is the type of record that goth and deathrock fans (myself included) would enjoy. It combines noisy Swans-ish guitars with deranged Lydia Lunch-style vocals. The band used guitars that almost sound like basses, and in turn their bass guitars are so low they sound like the ominous rumblings of angry monsters. The low-end-focused sound of the music lends a heaviness to the songs that perfectly couples with the creeped-out vocals and lyrics.

There are certainly some weak points on the album. Some of the songs sound a bit too similar to each other. And although the lyrics are certainly written with an avant garde poetic approach, they can tend to be goth-for-the-sake-of-goth. The song “Springtime” starts out with a plaintive wail that exclaims “Springtime / the season of decay”, and the song “Hunt” fades out with her chanting “Life is a place / that’s forbidden to live”, while the song “An Insane Queen” is entirely about the psychotic musings of its titular subject.

Still, I cannot fault the record too much. As a whole, it works very well. Standout songs like “Hunt”, with its machine-gun tribal drumming and washes and stabs of guitars, and “An Insane Queen”, with its absolutely delirious ambiance as the song builds into a tsunami of guitar effects and pure cacophony, certainly keep the album fresh. All of the songs flow from one to the next perfectly. The music will deviate from simple, repetitive guitar lines to full-on deathrock in the space of a minute, and that variety ensures that the album is listenable throughout its duration.

Basic Scream – Tales of Intoxication LP

1986, Basic Records

A1 A Dance Of Fire

A2 On The Edge II

A3 Rites

A4 Sixty-Seven Men And Women

A5 An Insane Queen

B1 The Shadow Of Man

B2 Springtime

B3 The Hunt

B4 Requiem

Click here to listen