Local Tracks on the Web
By David Pence
I love hearing Galen Richmond strain against formal limits he sets for himself. This four-track recording is defined by restraint — a brilliant stroke, given that the song’s lyrics zoom in on a blurry recollection of excess and public vulnerability. It allows us to hear the friction between the speaker’s initial self-assurance and his subsequent chastened, hungover tone. Early in the song, we recognize the hero in the odd, commanding vocal, and later we’re walking alongside him in a parade during his “bumpy Independence Day,” his “bumpy week,” as he makes a spectacle of himself by “yelling something loud.” Richmond’s voice conveys the songwriter’s intelligent, confrontational head, while a keyboard’s sad, synthetic descant conducts the electrical surges of his heart.
Megatime: “Action Move” [MP3 unavailable] • myspace.com/megatime
“Action Move” would fit nicely on a volume of Nuggets. You set the needle into the groove, you hear three kids gritting their teeth and leaning into the riff they found, squeezing it over and over, and then you say, “Wait — who did this?,” and your friend says, “Megatime,” and you say, “Huunh!” I’m not sure when I realized there would be no vocal, but when the (Seeds!) guitar solo unfolded itself at 1:07, it didn’t matter. Vocals are overrated, anyway; they’re for girls, and art-school rockers. Megatime shaves with an old, dull blade, and doesn’t clean up nice. Sweaty riffs, pitching rhythms — they’re working with power tools.
Ian Paige offers a blissed-out song that purrs and drones and tramps along. It’s an odd blend of forceful rhythm (a distant cousin of the drum part on the Pretty Things’ “Private Sorrow”), minimal but resonant melody, and overtones from a grove of fuzzy guitars: an abundance of open strings and pinkies grabbing variations of the principle chord. Partly because of its swirling, circular movement, the music feels effortless: you may think that it’s still getting going when the track starts to fade. I find myself wanting to start “Saraswati” again, like the first singles I ever loved and bought myself. You want to play it over and over, beginning to end to beginning, to keep that soundworld alive.
This is a tasty, modest piece in which Ian Carlsen assembles pleasing combinations of instrumental sounds and sends them off in a straight line toward the horizon. (Carlsen makes Electro Harmonico tracks “to honor and experiment with sampling as an art form, not for any sort of profit” he wrote.) This one starts with an elemental drum pattern and picks up color with two guitar chords, the second rendered as individual notes. A couple of organ tones slip in, and everything continues until a low, moody tone begins to swell. The music hangs in the air momentarily, then restarts; a second guitar saturates the color and adds a hint of urgency. Around 2:30, you realize Carlsen is satisfied (as the Beatles were with “Flying”), then it’s over. No denouement — just a stripping down, and out.
This is primordial, crust-shifting swing — a slashing, thrusting imperative, featuring Meantone’s fretless (and customized) slide guitar and Young Brett’s two-drum kit, along with “throat” (Meantone’s voice). At 2:19, this track is a good candidate for a time capsule, because it so concisely embodies the elemental connection between rock (blues) music and sex. It’s built with a monster call-and-response guitar riff and a shuddering, theatrical vocal that conjures The Cramps’ Lux Interior, starting with the pep talk/count-off, “Hey, Young Brett, you like them roller girls?” “Yeah!” “Let’s give it to ’em — one, two, three, four….” It’s probably best to clear the room of kids and small animals.
David Pence is the host of Radio Junk Drawer, heard Wednesdays from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on community radio station WMPG (90.9 and 104.1 FM; wmpg.org)