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Dec 3, 2016







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James Chance and the Contortions, The Flesh is Weak (True Groove Records)

Yep, it’s the mafioso-looking guy with the battered Elvis hairdo, that prototype wingnut-saxophonist from back in the 1980s, who, under two band names, single-handedly made up the whole A side of Brian Eno’s 1978 No New York compilation album. Although Chance is credited with funking up the no-wave scene, he actually demanded that his bandmates possess some skill, which actually made his stuff not no-wave by definition, but his whacked-out off-the-cuff-sounding sax solos were unhinged enough to earn him a lifetime pass, which he puts to use here, reuniting with guitarist Tomás Doncker to give the current scene, whatever it is, a much-needed razzberry. Farfisa organ, sounding like some session guy went to the wrong gig, opens “Melt Yourself Down,” a disco attack that’s like a drunk James Brown jamming with an even drunker Bosstones, and that’s the point — you start feeling your pulse quicken, all the way to Chance’s croaking scream at the end. What a great, monumental mess, from the Animals-ish skronk-battered “The Flesh is Weak” to the spaghetti-funk makeout-ballad-for-sociopaths “I Who Have Nothing.” You need this. You do. A+ — Eric W. Saeger





ESP Ohio, Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean (Rockathon Records)
CD Reviews: December 1, 2016

12/01/16



 ESP Ohio, Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean (Rockathon Records)

Led by the current Guided by Voices core of Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard, this project’s debut LP could rightly be expected to sound like a next-gen mixture of Redd Kross, Pavement and paisley underground, i.e., more of the same. But Pollard insists ESP Ohio is a band, not another outlet for his discombobulated voice, thus I assumed it’d be a little bit more rock-punky — it’s just how I roll. But no, it lifts off with straight slob-tempo Pixies-nicking with an R.E.M. twist in “A Much Needed Shot in the Arm,” wherein the band pulls a nice hook out of nothing. It’s garage-rock bliss, really, heavy on the psychedelica and low-rent grunge, and as a bonus the fadeouts are a dumpster-fire of missed level-lowerings and abrupt stops, which I think is super cool and more bands should do. But wait, there’s more, “Tom Tom Small And Wonderful” has delightfully bad vocals, too. Whatever, just get this if you want to tick off your hipster roommate. B+ 
 





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