Friday, September 27, 2013

Music Library: Saccharine Trust, Doug Sahm, Saint Vitus, The Saints, Sally Crewe, Sally Timms, The Salvage Brothers

Saccharine Trust - Paganicons (1981), Surviving You, Always (1984), Worldbroken (1985), We Became Snakes (1986), and Past Lives (1989). This is the great Joe Baiza's brilliant hardcore/fake jazz outfit who recorded for SST back in the 80s. Baiza was pals with Mike Watt and D. Boon and shared their love for avant-noise and free jazz, but took this to a more extreme place than the Minutemen. I think that Watt's friendship with Baiza and familiarity with Baiza's skronk-jazz style is what led him to start working with Nels Cline in the 90s, which is what eventually led to Cline joining Wilco and entering the general guitar god pantheon rather than just the pantheon of the few. As I will report when I get to Universal Congress Of, Baiza continued making some of the most interesting music under the SST punk umbrella. Of these Paganicons, Worldbroken, and Past Lives are all great (the latter two are live albums, but Worldbroken is full of original material), but Surviving You and especially We Became Snakes are flat-out stellar.

Doug Sahm - "Give Back The Key To My Heart" and "Village Girl." Two excellent Sahm songs, the former covered quite notably by Uncle Tupelo. I've covered Sahm in more detail elsewhere.

Saint Vitus - Saint Vitus (1984), Hallow's Victim (1985), The Walking Dead EP (1985), Born Too Late (1986), and Thirsty And Miserable EP (1987). Considering how much I like Scott "Wino" Weinrich's take on doom metal, I feel weird about not having two of his Saint Vitus albums. Saint Vitus was, of course, SST's flagship doom metal band, and the first two albums and EP feature their original vocalist Scott Reagers. They are pretty good, if a bit one-note, although the Walking Dead EP starts to bring the thunder. Starting with Born Too Late, though, possibly due to the addition of Wino, Saint Vitus nails down the Black Sabbath-on-quaaludes sound they were born to play. Thirsty and Miserable, featuring the titular Black Flag cover, is also excellent.

The Saints - (I'm) Stranded (1977), Eternally Yours (1978), and Prehistoric Sounds (1978). One of the greatest of the first-wave punk bands, the Saints were unfortunately a bit isolated due to being Australian. All three of these albums are just magnificent, though, and show an unusual musical progression. (I'm) Stranded is a first-rate blast of pop hooks and chainsaw guitars, Eternally Yours adds horns and some R&B swing to the rhythm, and Prehistoric Sounds builds on this to the point that it  sounds more like the Rolling Stones than the Stones sounded in 1978 and very little like the work of a band that was trafficking in punk symbolism the prior year. The live bonus tracks on Prehistoric Sounds show that the Saints were still punk as shit live, though.

Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves - Drive It Like You Stole It (2003), Shortly After Take-Off (2005), Your Nearest Exit May Be Behind You (2008), Transmit/Receive EP (2011), and "Making Plans For Nigel." The great Sally Crewe plays perfect minimalist power-pop trio gems with all the hooks of a Joe Jackson or Nick Lowe. She's an Austin institution, but she's due for more. Considering how ridiculously catchy her songs are, how energetic and solid her band is, and how much overall delight her music brings, it's a mystery and a crime that she has not been embraced more on the national level by the indie-rock press. My buddy Matt is her current bassist, but since Matt doesn't tour, she usually hits the road with a significant figure like Tommy Keene or Doug Gilliard on bass. I don't think I can emphasize enough that all of these albums are excellent. I like the more recent ones a little bit more, but it's not because they're significantly better, but because I just find myself rocking out more to them.

Sally Timms - Soundtrack To Hangahar (as Sally Smmit And Her Musicians, 1980) and Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos (1999). Another tiny English blonde lady who now lives in the US named Sally, Ms. Timms is one of the many frontpeople for the Mekons. The earlier album here is all experimental electronica, though, and I do not much enjoy it. The latter album is a dreamy alt-country covers album, and it is lovely. Neither of these, though, have the ragged glory of the Mekons.

The Salvage Brothers - Barnstorm EP (1998). This is a four-song EP by a punk-tinged string band I was in. I've skipped over some of my own efforts in this ongoing project, but sometimes I just want to mention how much fun a band was. This one was about the songs and the singing, and it was a blast.


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