Buh Buh Buh Buh Buh: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 97
Midnight - Midnight - My Mind's Eye - 4 songs - 12"
I guess the deal with this one is that the four songs here were supposed to be released as a 12" of this sort many years ago, but it never came to pass. They've appeared on Midnight compilations before, but never in their intended form…until now! I'll be the first to admit I do not know nearly enough about metal to make any particularly good comparisons here, but I think this is pretty good. The totally ripping opener "Lord In Chains" has some great shredding, it definitely rocks, it has hooks (not pop hooks, but memorable riffs and structure and all that stuff), and it sounds enough like Motörhead that I'm pleased (again, someone who knows more about this kind of thing than me could probably tell you 'it's not Motörhead, it's [some band that was influenced by Motörhead],' but not I). It's well-balanced by the slower, heavier "Strike Of Midnight." Side B has the spooky "Take You To Hell" (the part where he hits the first "when I take you to Hell!" and the music kicks in is especially awesome) which transitions perfectly into "…On The Wings Of Satan," another total ripper. Tell me you're not waving your fist in the air by the end of this thing. Good record. 3.666/5
Jim Shepard - Heavy Action - Ever/Never Records - 29 songs - 3xLP, digital
Jim Shepard is one of the big three of the Columbus underground music scene, at least according to that one Obnox song ("Ron and Rep and Jimmy Shep!"). However, whereas it's easy enough to find Quotas records or Great Plains or Slave Apartments or whatever, it is not easy to find Jim Shepard's. Outside of "The Room Isn't Big Enough" by Ego Summit (which has several very good Shepard originals), I don't know if there's any of Jim's music currently in print. Well, until this new set here. This really is a great summary of Jim's music. There's everything from very out-there experimental songs (both of the cuts titled "Music For Instr., Voice, Machine") to scalding noise-punk (most of the V-3 material here, like "Photograph Burns" and "Party at Fifteenth and Summit") to acoustic material somewhere in the tradition of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen (both of whom get covered here, along with similar originals like "One Percent Of Nothing") to excerpts from voicemails he left for people (I assume Charles Cicirella, mainly, whose archive I believe most if not all of this is culled from). The first track is "Fuck The Clock," an Ego Summit outtake of a poem recited by Mike Rep. "Prom Is Coming," which was co-written with Robert Pollard, is a really pretty solo tune performed here live, accompanied by Mike Rep again. The 'banter' on the live tracks, as well as the voicemails, reveal something interesting about Jim Shepard's personality, I guess. I don't know, I don't feel like it's my place to say since I didn't know him or anything, but they paint an interesting picture. Just the way he very earnestly tells the audience on one of the V-3 tracks that if they could find his records anywhere, that'd be really cool seems very self-conscious but not quite self-effacing– same thing with one of the "Devil's Editor Messages," where he ponders whether someone covering his song is a good step, and then immediately decides it's probably better than the original. "Tabernacle Moneygun" is a good Dylan-esque folk tune railing against the selling of oneself to corporate interests, or something like that. Side 2 has three live V-3 performances (and a solo version of Leonard Cohen's "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy"), all of which certainly provide good examples of what "heavy action" means. They're heavy and abrasive and maybe even difficult at times, but there's something about them that puts them above lots of music like that. There's something more tuneful and, well, just more interesting about them. Jim's guitar playing on these is what everyone who plays this type of music wishes they good sound like– it just slashes through you. Even the heavy bass on "Photograph Burns" can't overpower the incendiary leads Jim plays throughout. The second record has a few dark, lo-fi, usually somewhat morose solo tunes: "Come Carry Me Down," "Star Power," and "Damage Control," for example. Not quite folk and not acoustic, but with the same raw feel as a solo acoustic performance tends to have. There's also a great cover of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," played pretty straight but with the double-tracked vocals occasionally slipping out of time with each other and adding a slight layer of strangeness. There's also something he changes about the melody in the verse a couple times that's very interesting: I can't quite tell whether he makes it more uplifting or more melancholy. "Sanctuary" is another live V-3 recording where they're joined on vocals by Charles Cicirella, who gives a wild performance– he sounds mad, and it's up to you to decide which definition of 'mad' works better here– with his energy totally matched by Jim's guitar. This record, and the "Heavy Action" set proper, closes with a cover of the Gun Club's cover of Robert Johnson's "Preaching The Blues." I actually might like it more than the Gun Club. Jim really sounds like he's giving it his all on here. The final record here is "Onward-Forward-Infinite," a 12" that sort of functions as a tribute record from Jim Shepard's collaborators and friends. Robert Pollard covers "Bristol Girl" and Nudge Squidfish covers "Son Of Sam Donaldson," both pretty incredible songs. Both of them do pretty good versions, but at the same time I'd prefer to hear versions by Jim Shepard himself and it seems kinda weird to me that original versions weren't included. I don't know. Don Howland ("Buckeye Jim") and Dennis Callaci ("The Other End Of The Bar") both do original tribute songs, which are both rather haunting in their own ways. "Buckeye Jim" is dissonant the whole way through, with Howland's nasal yowl in fine form, and by the end of Dennis Callaci's song it sounds like he's all but destroyed the guitar he's playing. Charles Cicirella does a memorial poem about what Shepard's music means and what his death means ("The Death Of Jim Shepard And The Dying Of A New Age"), which is as fine a tribute as any on here. The final track here, and the final track of the whole thing, is one more by Jim Shepard Himself, called "Loaded Gun." It's a dark one. It's angry, it's intense: the lyrics, the vocals, the guitar. Pretty vicious stuff. It closes with a recording of someone yelling "Jim, you gotta make up your mind!" a few times. I don't know if that was put there by Shepard himself or by whoever assembled this, but it's a memorable close. Unlike a lot of these hyped-up long-posthumous sets, this one really delivers. It's not perfect, but it's very good. I wish more of Jim's stuff was in print, because if what's on here and what I've heard elsewhere is anything to go by, he's got some really great stuff, but for now, this is a good overview. Great, touching, and funny liner notes from Tom Lax of Siltbreeze as well. Recommended. 4.5/5
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