Friday, January 10, 2014

Music Library: Terminals, Tex Williams, Texas Tornados, that dog., Thee Oh Sees, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra

The Terminals - Disconnect EP (1988), Uncoffined (1990), Little Things (1995). Pretty good kiwi rock band with elements of other, better New Zealand acts. There's the frenetic psych-folk rhythm guitars of The Clean or The Tall Dwarfs and the gritty garage-Farfisa of The Clean or The Chills. But this isn't quite up to those levels, even though it is, well, pretty good.

Tex Williams - "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette." About as much fun as any song sarcastically extolling the virtues of smoking could be.

The Texas Tornados - Best Of The Texas Tornados (released 1993). A supergroup with Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez, and Freddy Fender having joined forces to play a uniquely Texan blend of conjunto-Norteno-garage-country music. I think this best-of collects songs from only two albums, but it is still excellent.

that dog. - Retreat From The Sun (1997). that dog. was a LA-based band of industry royalty, including Anna Waronker, daughter of record mogul Lenny, and two of the Haden triplets (shout out to my longtime crush Petra), daughters of jazz bass giant Charlie. I don't think the drummer is related to anyone famous, but Wikipedia tells me he's one of Spike Jonze's buddies. Anyway, regardless of their familial connections, that dog. played excellent indie rock featuring some truly first-rate singing.

Thee Oh Sees - The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In (2008), Thee Hounds Of Foggy Notion (2008), Help (2009), Singles Collection (2009), Warm Slime (2010), Castlemania (2011), Carrion Crawler/The Dream (2011), Putrifiers II (2012), Floating Coffin (2013). Thee Oh Sees put out more music than it may be humanly possible for me to collect, much of it in the form of seven-inches and split-singles and EPs, but these are all of their studio albums to date plus one live album (Foggy Notion) and their first singles collection (of three thus far). I'm not crazy about the live album, which is too murky and self-indulgent to emphasize Thee Oh Sees' more obvious pleasures, and Help is strangely lackluster, but the rest of these albums are fantastic. Thee Oh Sees are influenced by 60s garage-rock, but they are willing to experiment with sound and form in fascinating ways. My favorites are Warm Slime, which opens with a 13+ minute title track that cooks like "Sister Ray" as covered by the Aftermath-era Stones and their buddies the Cramps, and Castlemania, which adds in all sorts of textures and loops as if they were, well, the Cramps covering Their Satanic Majesties' Request. Carrion Crawler, Putrifiers, and Floating Coffin are all first-rate, too. Check them out.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra - "This Is Our Punk Rock," Thee Rusted Satellites Gather+Sing (as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir, 2003), The "Pretty Little Lightning Paw" EP (as Thee Silver Mountain Reveries, 2004), and 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons (as Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, 2008). Very similar to GY!BE, Thee SMZO play orchestral post-rock built on dynamics, although this band employs lyrics to give their music some structure. Of these, 13 Blues is the best by a pretty wide margin. I'm quite partial to their work as a backing band on Vic Chesnutt's North Star Deserter and At The Cut albums, too.


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