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Record Reviews
Written by Trolf, Pollock, and Nargis   
Friday, 12 October 2007 10:25
The 1900s, We Are Standard, Zoroaster, Rogue Wave, Richard Youngs, Maritime, A Life Once Lost, Illa Ghee, Somobe, and Buck 65.

This time around we've decided to institute a ratings system for our reviews. We're hoping it'll be slightly easier to digest than our long-winded diatribes that only occasionally touch upon the actual music. Here it is:

BUY IT: Like that music something a whole lot
LISTEN TO IT: If we like the album okay, but aren't overwhelmed.
FUCK IT: I think this is self explanatory.

The 1900s
Cold & Kind
[Parasol Records]

Rating: Buy It

Remember a few years back, when the Y2K bug was going to wreak worldwide havoc and our over-reliance on computers was going to send us hurtling into some kind of stone age? I sort of think that it would have been cool to wake up on January 1st, 2000 in a world where all technology had malfunctioned and computer machines were nothing but really elaborate paperweights. How would we have reacted? Of course some people were prepared for the worst, in full survivalist mode-stores of drinking water and canned food stacked neatly in their subterranean shelters, shotguns already loaded and awaiting the inevitable arrival of roving hordes bent only on looting from those good families who had thought to prepare for the techno-apocalypse...

Feral dogs with prominent ribs would skulk and prowl through the deserted, ashen streets; tumbleweeds would, of course, blow across the scorched land; desperate, wild-eyed men would fight to the death for a gallon of gasoline and a drink of uncontaminated water, gnashing their teeth. Then, out of the fray, a stranger would appear. Clad in leather and bandoleers, a pistol in one hand and a machete in the other; his woman standing off to the side, wearing that outfit that Princess Leia had on in Return of the Jedi. Fuuck, just imagine how awesome the world would have been if only Y2K had actually happened instead of just a bunch of whining and pants-shitting.

I want to listen to the 1900s and have it be all barbershop quartets and shirtsleeves and waxed moustaches. Instead what we've got here is mellow and melodic pop, tinged with strings and piano; melancholy lyrics and boy/girl vocals that harmonize incredibly well at times; and a penchant for hooks perhaps slightly less adept than Belle and Sebastian. Overall, I like this. Actually, I like this a lot. Please forgive the above apocalyptic fantasizing. I was reading some Cormac McCarthy earlier.
-Andreas Trolf

We Are Standard
3000V-40000V
[Minty Fresh]

Rating: Listen To It

I always feel as though it's a copout when you describe a band in terms of other, more familiar bands. It just seems unimaginative. Think about it; if you tell someone that, say, the band Jet (probably a better example than most in terms of being wholly derivative) sounds exactly like a cross between Iggy Pop and The Rolling Stones with a couple of Bowie-ish moments thrown haphazardly about, most likely that person (if it were me) would say to you, "Well, why don't I just go listen to those bands that I already know that I like?" This was pretty much my major gripe a few years ago when we were first inundated with Bands That Sound Like Joy Division.

But then I thought about this method of describing a band's sound some more and I realized that writing about music is sometimes a lot like defining a word or phrase, mainly in that when defining something you have to put it into terms of something else that's familiar. Pretty much, the dictionary wouldn't define the word, um, I don't know, blue by writing "It's a color that's, you know, blue-ish." Maybe that's a bad example, but it's the first word that came to mind.

So here goes, re: We Are Standard. Pretty standard dancey, New Wave-y keyboard and electronic-centered rock that sounds in places like The Clash if they'd only ever made Sandinista and no other albums. Some songs are straight Brit-Pop in the vein of Blur before that one woo-hoo song came out, and the drumming (drum machine?) is really cymbal-heavy just like Joy Division. People are probably going to love this in Eastern Europe and parts of Spain, where most bars are like underground rave dungeons. But I'm pretty much m'eh about it. Lyrics about gaying off in the supermarket and dancing forever just don't have much resonance. But that's just me.
-Andreas Trolf

Zoroaster
Dog Magic
[Terminal Doom Records]

Rating: Listen To It

I'll level with you guys: I wanted to hate this album immediately based solely on the cover art, which features a cruddy watercolor of four vicious pitbulls leaping out of the collar of a tuxedo with blood spraying everywhere because the dogs ate the gentleman who had been wearing it. Either that, or it's the four dogs who are wearing the tuxedo. I prefer to think that the dogs are wearing the tuxedo and that they had come up with a brilliant scheme for attending a black tie dinner. Wouldn't that be adorable? Kind of like two little kids, where one is on top of the other's shoulders, and they're wearing a trench coat. Remember that old chestnut (Did that ever work?)?

I can just imagine the four pitbulls in their rented tuxedo standing by the punchbowl whispering to themselves about how they can't believe that they're actually getting away with it! How can no one notice that instead of a man's head, there are four pitbull heads sticking out of the shirt collar? And how did four pitbulls tie a perfect bowtie anyways? Is it a clip-on? Maybe the dogs are even chatting up a wealthy heiress and they're totally pulling it off and secretly giving each other high fives inside the tuxedo (because there's only enough room for four limbs in the sleeves and pant legs of the suit, and so the rest of the dog legs are just bunched up inside the torso), but then someone notices that something isn't quite right. Perhaps a sly old Southern Colonel becomes suspicious and nonchalantly asks the dog heads what line of work they're in. Then the dogs panic and one says, "Um, well, I'm in the import/export business…" and at the same time another say, "Racecar driver!" and their clever rouse falls apart. The dogs panic and start goring everyone in sight. They burst free from the tuxedo (even though they'll lose the $200 deposit) and maul and gore their way out of the country club's grand ballroom.

Actually, now that I think about it some more, the cover art makes me want to immediately like Zoroaster. It's too bad the album doesn't really do much to live up to my expectations. It's just your standard doom-ish, chug-y metal, which I actually like a bunch. But it can never be as cool as four pitbulls in a tuxedo. Nothing can ever be as cool as that.
-Andreas Trolf

Rogue Wave
Asleep at Heaven's Gate
[Brushfire Records ]

Rating: Buy It

I watch a lot of documentaries at my day job. I review internet videos to pay my bills, and I break up my day of sorting gay porn, animal attacks, and extreme sports by watching movies on the Illuminati, 9/11, and WWII. I highly recommend anything that a man by the name of Alex Jones puts out. Google his name and have a listen. He's the red-faced guy that's screaming into the megaphone as he drives in the Richard Linklater film, Waking Life. There's a wealth of information on his websites regarding some of the most important events in the world's recent history.

Some of his work and that of his compatriots include tracing the Bush family lineage. Prescott Bush, George Bush Sr.'s father, who, according to US national archives, was the head of the financial firm, the Union Banking Corporation, which was shut down for supplying fiscal aide to the architects of the Nazi war machine. Also, his business partner had on his staff one Howard Hunt; a man seriously suspected of involvement in the killing of JFK. This man was involved as a CIA operative in the Bay of Pigs and was a central character in the Watergate scandal.

Bush Sr. owned an oil business off the island where Cuban exiles were supplied and trained by the CIA to be the first force to propagate The Bay of Pigs. Bush denies any CIA involvement at this time, but a 1963 FBI memorandum, which J. Edgar Hoover signed, names Bush as a CIA employee. Bush denies working for the Central Intelligence Agency until 1975, when he became head of it, and said that it must have been another George Bush. The rigs of his oil company, Zapata Offshore, were located thirty miles off Cuba. Bush took over in 1959, the same time Castro seized power. The record of Zapata Offshore's business transactions, from its inception in 1959 until 1966, were destroyed, by "accident" when Bush took office as vice president. The company also bore the same name as a documented CIA codename for an operation which occurred just prior to the Cuban missile crisis.

I could go on for a while about how Kennedy intervened, how Bush Sr. can't really remember where he was on November 22, 1963, etc… I'll quit polishing my rifles, fixing my ham radio, and adjusting my tinfoil hat long enough to say that I didn't want to talk about the new Rogue Wave album, because I didn't want to spoil it with words. Quit with the downloadin' and buy this at a record shop, it's far more than worth it. It's your right as a free American.
-Tim Nargis

Richard Youngs
Asleep at Heaven's Gate
[Jagjaguwar]

Rating: Listen To It

This album is a sort of heralding from a new, mystic folk era. It's a message that's ridden a beam of light from the galaxy where Cat Stevens, while he was Yusuf Islam, was teleported to in the hopes of connecting more of the web of the universe with a folky spirit beam. Young's voice sounds a lot like Richard Thompson and Tim Buckley if they had prayed to that cosmic ray.

It's a calm, comforting, exploratory work, which sometimes journeys along the path of preciousness, but never steps over into it for more than a track. The sound consists of two wavering, finger picked guitar tracks and a dizzying volley of vocals. The voices, sometimes obliquely arranged, sometimes nearing accordance, always keep enough distance apart to create a certain suspension of mind; a short meditation with an 'Oooooooooooohhhhhhmmmmmm' serenely underpinned to each mirrored reverberation.

It can make you fall asleep, sell all of your possessions, try and repair that abusive relationship you have with Jeff, or make a vow of stillness and buy a sitar. The music is full of a radiating, questioning energy, but at a wavelength which you have to slow down a bit for. It is worth listening to if you're a fan of ambient psychedelic folk, though it may be a bit Harvard granola for some.
-Tim Nargis

Maritime
Heresy and the Hotel Choir
[Flameshovel]

Rating: Listen To It

This is the Maritime's Third album, and a follow up to their first release on Flameshovel Records. The band consists of members whose most recent works have been with The Promise Ring and Dismemberment Plan.

This album both makes and misses some marks. Heresy and the Hotel Choir, for some songs, is a polished record that firmly falls in the vein of indie pop. For the others, it has a type of meticulously structured abandon and honesty, the one which made me like Cap'n Jazz (frontman Davey von Bohlen's former group). The feel goes back and forth between these two points almost song for song. They seem to strive towards two goals: The kind of atmosphere that early Built to Spill records created. Next: Well-produced, solid pop hooks. Though they exist fairly harmoniously, they don't really seem to mix together on this release.

Overall, I'd recommend listening to this album. The second track, "With Holes for Thumb Sized Birds" and the duet, "First Night on Earth" at the end of the record sum up the things I honestly enjoyed. Although I found myself wishing that the rest of the record would sound like them.
-Tim Nargis

A Life Once Lost
Iron Gag
[Ferret Music]
Rating: Fuck It

Idea: They should really start making football helmets standard-issue at hardcore shows. Not to sound like a pussy or anything, but windmill blows to the jaw can fucking sting. They sting especially when you're completely sober, thanks to some stupid straight edge mandate.

I don't really understand why hardcore kids are always so pissed anyway-they have nice cars and live in big houses with yards, and they always have the fanciest music gear. "You are worthless and especially ignorant to human life/Everything I feel towards your existence/Coexists with the hatred I have for mankind/Common consideration cannot coincide with you and me," is what A Life Once Lost brings to the table with their new record, Iron Gag. These East Coast guys are actually kinda rocking, but I gotta say that 41 minutes of palm muting, growling and excessive hammer-ons (yeah, one of those bands) has left me with kind of a headache. But I'm no pussy. According to their bio, these guys have toured with the Ozzfest, which is something that I wouldn't personally brag about, but then again, I get headaches listening to hardcore/nu metal CDs alone in my room. This one's for when there are no women for blocks, you're lifting weights and you're so goddamned mad you forgot why. Definitely not a party pick.
- David McClymonds

Illa Ghee
Bullet & a Bracelet
[Depth Charge Studios]
Rating: Listen To It

Look at that chubby motherfucker! Now that's what I'm talking about. He doesn't give a fuck about staying in shape or being positive in his rhymes, this is just some straight gun talk from Brooklyn. Typical of New York thug raps, hip hop's favorite white boy Alchemist pops up to produce a couple of tracks as well as Lord Digga and Havoc. (Speaking of which, is an 'Original Queens Bridge murderer' allowed to make an album about BK gun talk? Or sign to G-Unit for that matter?) These aren't normal thug raps though. Illa comes on at one point in the record and explains that he is all done with that thug life and that his style is past all that and on some "next level shit." I don't know about next level, but sure why not?

Beats are pretty tight and he has that fat-ass Biggie tongue where it sounds like it would be impossible for him to swallow anything let alone breathe. That was always the best part of Biggie's voice and to this day I instantly like anyone who has that voice. Shyne (remember him?) had the voice but not the tongue, which I always thought was his real downfall - I mean besides getting fucked over by Puffy. I'm not going to overboard here though, the record is not amazing. Nevertheless, I would play it more than once and/or let it be in my car on repeat so it passes the test.
-Jesse Pollock

Somobe
The Great Communication
[Get 'Em Productions]
Rating: Listen To It

Damn, Vegas hip hop? Maybe I've been sleeping lately, but I don't even know if I can think of anyone else from Las Vegas so I guess they get points for that. Anyways, this is sort of a middle of the road album and continues the way I hear most hip hop these days. The beats are "okay" which is to say that they are just short being throwaways. They're built okay, but don't really go anywhere. Also, it sounds like he is sampling smooth jazz bass. Or even worse, he got a real musician to play smooth jazz in the studio. I may be a tough beat critic, but go ahead and listen to a crazy Hi-Tek beat like "Respiration" or some Diamond shit and then tell me I'm being too harsh.

I heard through the grapevine that Somobe are about bringing hip hop back home, so that usually means that the raps will be about something thoughtful. True to form, he talks about topics that revolve around culture and street politics. All the economy talk and conscious raps come off sounding like a Vegas version of the Bay Area's Zion-I (which could be good or bad depending on your point of view). His voice is decent but still…something sounds flat. It's not bad, but it ain't good either.

There were some comments last time about hating and being negative, but that's missing the point. In my eyes, mediocrity is the same thing as being bad for the sole reason of contributing to the other oceans of music that aren't worth more than one listen. If people liked everything and didn't call out mediocre or boring albums, then how would people be pushed to make better music? If people think it's okay to be half-assed, it creates complacency and then you get albums like this where you can't tell why you don't like it.
-Jesse Pollock

Buck 65
Situation
[Rhymesayers]
Rating: Buy It

For a schizophrenic, Buck 65 (aka: Sixtoo, DJ Critical, Jesus Murphy, Stinkin' Rich, Johnny Rockwell, Uncle Climax and Dirk Thornton) really seems to hold his career down well. There have been countless imitators, but no one ever comes close. Maybe it's something in the Nova Scotia water (did I mention that he is from Halifax?) or his brain chemistry but honestly, pick out a record of his and I would recommend it blindly. Album after album, he comes out with amazing beats (remember those KISS samples?) and crazy talk that is incredibly relatable. I know I ripped Rhymesayers and Aesop Rock last time for being overly deep and not making sense, but this is the exception. He could be talking about "riding a horse over an ocean of white wine" and you're all "yeah, totally". I don't know, he just ties it all together in a way that makes sense. Also, for some reason his voice never seems thin or annoying either. I think it's mostly about the way he "talk-raps" his way through the albums or that white kids from Halifax don't necessarily need to sound like they're from New York

Actually, this review is totally hypocritical and contradictory now that I think about it. I have no excuse to enjoy this after everything I have said in other reviews, but guess what…I like it anyway. Who ever said being a hypocrite was bad anyways? Who can explain why I hate tall people but like Basketball? I just do. Life isn't that simple and neither are music reviews... P.S.- The Robocop theme in this album is fucking awesome and hilarious.
-Jesse Pollock {moscomment}

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Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


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