I was going to review “The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get,” by My Dad is Dead for this entry, but I just realized that I have an overwhelming amount of Homestead Records releases on here, so I decided to review a different album this time, instead. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE IN SECOND PLACE, THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282?????
Tangle is pretty ridiculous and kind of doesn’t make any sense, much like the other Thinking Fellers releases. They have this weird atmosphere working for them the entire time, where you can’t really tell if they’re creepy/bordering on mentally ill, drunk, or really like cartoons- and sometimes all of these moods happen at once. Also, they opened for Live on tour, one time, which is pretty weird, though it makes sense when you realize all of the fans that helped make “The Dolphin’s Cry” a hit were alcoholic mental patients that watched a lot of cartoons. However, those live fans did NOT like layers and layers of staccato-heavy riffs, but I bet YOU do, which is why you’re reading this page, not listening to Secret Samadhi, and are absolutely craving such riffs, for which the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 is a veritable bargain outlet! Think of them, at least on this particular effort, as some sort of outsider music version of Sonic Youth- without the sass.
Most of these songs are mid-tempo and lack the limitless 30 second between-song “Feller filler” that their other albums contain, which can be grating, hilariously immature, worthless, or all three at once. Mostly grating and worthless, though. So, yeah, there’s only like THREE of those on here, and they’re barely noticeable, so if you don’t like making decisions, you won’t have to skip ’em, and you’ll never notice. Just sit there, not noticing anything and don’t ever think again. Because of those few joke snippets seeming like intros and outros, however, you get this whole feeling of this album being one big, flowing effort- like I said, a lot of the songs don’t really make any sense, layer a bunch of weird guitar parts on top of each other, and change a lot. Pair this with them all being of similar tempo, and you have that whole, false “THIS IS ONE BIG LONG FLOWING ALBUM OMG YOU GOTTA LISTEN TO THIS ALL AT ONCE OR YOU JUST WON’T GET IT” feeling you got the first time you heard Dark Side of the Moon while getting a handjob from that girl down the hall who you got all high on joints with.
Let’s face it though, in reality, it’s just a bit hard to pull out traits of individual tracks that will really draw your attention, even though there’s tons of stuff going on in each one. Different tracks have notable “that’s weird” qualities- “Sister Hell” introduces some yelling out of nowhere, making me wonder how many singers this band actually has (I have no idea, but it’s either one with about 6 weird voices, or 3 with two weird voices each), occasionally there are some horns that come in and never come back again, and “It Wasn’t Me,” opens with the amazing line, “Who are you?/You look like my dad!” and, contrary to popular belief, is not a Shaggy cover. Oh, and “Change Your Mind” has some weird part where they keep stopping the music and shouting about a flashlight stuck in someone’s chest.
After re-reading all that I’ve just written, I know that this album may seem like some sort of hellish, half-drunk nightmare, but it’s actually quite a bit of fun. But not cutesy fun, it’s still pretty creepy, but goofy. Sort of like a violent drunk making a bunch of hilarious jokes. He only got violent that one time though, a few years ago, and it hasn’t come back again, but you’re still bracing for it.
ENJOY! Also, if you correctly count the number of commas used in this post, I will personally respond to your comment asking if you are, in fact, correct, as I myself am too lazy to count, but there seem to be quite a few.
THANK your feller here, 282 times, for this download:
There are three “eras” of Killing Joke albums- their first run of 80s albums (which did include a break-up, but it was less than a year so it doesn’t count), a 90s regrouping for two albums, and the most recent reunion starting in 2003, which resulted in their second self-titled effort being available in Circuit Cities and Best Buys across America. Why? I have no idea! Anyway, the very last album from the 80s period (which was actually 1990) and their stuff after that kind of just sounds like Ministry, with a couple of OK songs thrown in, so it’s not that great. Out of the 80s efforts, 1980’s self-titled debut is revered as the classic album- and it probably is their best- it’s all minimal and angry and weird. Then, 1985’s Night Time gets a lot of praise, particularly for including the very 80s sounding “Love Like Blood” and (surprise) “Eighties,” which were apparently (at least) minor hits, though I certainly have never heard either of them anywhere except for my own home. Between these two albums, there is no room for anyone to talk about 1983’s Fire Dances, which is sad! So, now, I’m going to laboriously highlight it as a public service.
In a surprisingly logical turn of events, Fire Dances sounds like it was made right in the middle of Killing Joke’s transition from “kinda scary pounding noise” to “smoother melodies with vocals drenched in 80s reverb” because it was! Normally, transitional albums aren’t so great because it results in 40 minutes of songs that don’t sound like they should go together, but this is not the case- they did it the correct way. Each song has elements of both sounds, so it actually sounds like one band recorded it.
The whole “homogenized, yet transitional” sound for Killing Joke results in the album having a very distinct mood, which is what makes it especially worthwhile- and no, the mood is not “Enya at a BBQ” as the cover may mistakenly cause you to assume. It still has pounding, repetitive percussion on essentially every song, but this paired with the slightly more melodious guitars and (much more so) vocals, giving a lot of the songs a celebratory feel. However, the guitar lines seem to constantly be moving throughout each song- there aren’t really a lot of “riffs”- and when it hits a lower register, often gets arpeggiated and dark/nervy, so, overall, it’s a little bit like Christmas Day minus the sleigh bells, but with the threat of a family brawl in the background. The two extremes are highlighted in the (sort of) title track, “Let’s All Go (to the Fire Dances),” which may be the best song on here (listen to that guitar line about 1:44 in!) and the perpetual tempo increase at the end of “Frenzy.”
So, if you’re too lazy to read three paragraphs, Fire Dances may not be the best Killing Joke album (it’s the 2nd best), but it’s worth your time and attention because of its mood and consistency. TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS!
Watch the sort-of-weird, sort-of-medieval, not-sure-what-the-point-of-the-video-is-but-it’s-the-album’s-only-single video for “Let’s All Go (to the Fire Dances)” on Youtube:
Download the whole durn album here:
I wasn’t planning on covering any compilations on here, but this one is an exception for some (I think) fairly legitimate reasons. REASON #1: The full length LP that some of these songs are taken from is entirely out of print, the master tapes have been lost, and a vinyl copy probably costs 8 million dollars. REASON #2: The other good parts of the compilation are from two 7″ records, which apparently have been reprinted, but this band has such little printed material, that it’s worthwhile to talk about it all at once. REASON #3: The other full length with featured tracks on the compilation is fucking terrible, so I am including the entirety of the aforementioned album that has essentially been LOST FOREVER (sort of).
The Dicks are a band that you are more likely to be familiar with via covers, particularly The Byrds’ 1966 hit single, “Bourgeois Fascist Pig.” Lesser known covers include Mudhoney’s version of “Hate the Police” and The Jesus Lizard 7″ version of “Wheelchair Epidemic.” So, let me rephrase, if you like either Mudhoney or The Jesus Lizard, you may have heard one or two of these songs before. Basically, they are a fairly catchy hardcore punk band, but have a tendency to insert a lot of blues influences and even some noise rock, which along with having a flamboyantly gay, obese, and (at times) seemingly insane frontman- Gary Floyd, helped set them apart from all of those other 80s punk rock people.
1980-1986 features 2/3 of the Dicks Hate the Police 7″, the majority of the Live at Raul’s split with the Big Boys, five songs from Kill from the Heart (the album that has disappeared), the entirety of the Peace? 7″, and seven songs of horrible boring shit from the band’s last lineup. If you haven’t guessed, the stuff before those last seven songs is GREAT!
The songs included from Hate the Police are fairly standard hardcore punk, the titular track with an overly pleasing chord progression, and the following, “Lifetime Problems,” featuring a stupendous chorus of inane laughter, fitting right at home with Flipper’s “Ha Ha Ha.”
Most of the material included from the live split (note: there are no studio versions of these songs anyway) fits the same mold as the first two songs, save two tracks that stand out, the first of these being “Saturday Night at the Bookstore,” which is slower, bass-driven tune with mostly spoken lyrics detailing the goings-ons at a popular gay sex shop and is quite colorful- highlights include Gary addressing someone in the audience at one point with, “I’ll suck your dick after the show, motherfucker.” The latter song, “Wheelchair Epidemic,” was covered by The Jesus Lizard and- surprise- kind of sounds like The Jesus Lizard! In addition, the line “Are you stupid, or just a faggot?” is rendered much less offensive when said by a gay man as compared to the cover version out of context.
And now, Kill from the Heart, which is by far the best part of the compilation (but I will be discussing the whole album)! This is where the blues influence comes in, but don’t worry- it’s not anywhere near being “blues rock,” it’s just joyously sloppy hardcore songs that happen to be comprised of blues riffs. “Rich Daddy” kind of sounds like a particularly angry Sonics song, and “Anti-Klan Part 2” even has a slide guitar! The album is still peppered with some fun, short and standard hardcore songs too, so everyone gets to be happy- and I mean everyone– it even includes a completely butchered cover of “Purple Haze” and ends with the most poorly performed dance song I’ve ever heard, which also happens to be 11 minutes long- and somehow enjoyable! These songs are the biggest shifts in that “new” direction, which happened to be abandoned right after this as the band broke up and came back with an entirely different line-up.
The new line-up recorded a decent 7″ (Peace?) and then devoted itself to making longer, boring songs with no hooks or interesting lyrics, represented on These People, which is where the last seven of these songs are taken from (minus the last, which is a short and live dicking-around track). Check them out if you want, but they really do suck, which is why I have included the entirety of Kill from the Heart. Don’t let it keep you from checking out 1980-1986, though, because the beginning is fantastic.
Look at that attractive cover! Trent Reznor went back in time to participate in a T. Rex cover band, visited a disco, and left with a child rapist who apparently hasn’t slept for six days. Pretty enticing.
It seems that the most loved album by Chrome fans (all 79 of them) is “Half Machine Lip Moves,” which may very well be the best introduction, seeing as it rocks the hardest, but it’s hard to say- despite having the similarities of weird electronics, heavy drug use, and generally being creepy, they all sound pretty different. “Red Exposure” is my favorite, which is funny because it seems like it’s the one people mention the least (save the albums that only have Damon Edge- the sleepy rapist- and not Helios Creed).
“Red Exposure” comes right before “Blood on the Moon,” which basically sounded like a punk album in which the guitars were recorded inside of a UFO. It contains some of that, but attempts to insert some sort of dance influence into the songs- and fails. Herein lies the appeal for me- almost every song is a mix of a catchy vocal melody and/or dance beat with some weird, creepy fucking sounds that make it completely inaccessible to a dance audience at all. Most of the music sounds like those tubular plastic children’s toys that make a laser-y space sound whenever you turn them upside down (shut up, you know exactly what I’m talking about).
Several examples of possibly catchy tunes absolutely ruined in a perfect way by production include: the vocals being gargled instead of sung on the opener, “New Age,” a super catchy chorus being overly sleazed up and covered by an effects-heavy guitar on “Animal,” and the wonderfully bouncy Devo rip-off, “Electric Chair,” having a totally garbled chorus with what sounds like the Dr. Mario soundtrack playing in the background (I realize this game was not released at this point). Even though all of this sounds like a recipe for the worst thing ever (Eggplant! I hate it!), it somehow all blends together to be thoroughly entertaining, which is certainly helped by the dancey percussion running throughout most of the songs. Then, let me negate myself yet again and say that it never comes off as sounding like a dance album. Who knows. To sum it all up- if you’re trying to win someone’s affection, do not include any of this on a mix- that person will think you are a drug addicted sexual predator. However, you don’t get addicted to things that aren’t a good time, so give it a listen!
P.S. Damon Edge isn’t a rapist. He is dead though.
Forget what that kids’ toy sounds like, you mindless idiot? Download “Red Exposure” here: