I’ve come to realize something: There’s no one person quite like me. I’m the shit. Me, me, me. Narcissist. Self-gratuitous…. Just kidding, that’s not me but there isn’t another like me, which doesn’t sit well with me. Who else is going to direct others without the ego to blow his or her own horn? If there are any around me like that, I haven’t found them. Yeah, we live in a world of people that are so self-absorbed that constantly regurgitate the same BS that others have done before them, AND who refuse to even acknowledge their own influences. I’m not just referring to musicians but there are writers, journalists, photographers, etc. who all, for lack of a better term, copy. OK, so maybe some consider copying as the greatest form of flattery but for God’s sake man, note what’s influenced you! I have a lot to get off my chest at times and at most points, it doesn’t make sense, even to myself. I just hope that maybe some can take what I’ve written and decipher the jumbled mess that sits in my head. This leads us to today’s Friday’s Roll Out(!) where my excitement couldn’t be contained as I’m focusing on a sophomore release that came to fruition 15 years after an artist’s solo debut surfaced back in 2002. That was when I first talked to him, bu that’s a story for another time.
Spooky Action (Joyful Noise Recordings) appeared in front of me. I didn’t know what to do. It was as if inside I was screaming “FINALLY!” There were other things that ran through my mind as well like “Please don’t suck” and “You better be fucking good.” I wasn’t putting the pressure on Jason Loewnstein but I was laying it all on the album itself. He’s kept busy performing with Fiery Furnaces after Sebadoh went on an extended hiatus, which started up again in 2007 with the original line-up touring in support of re-releasing early Sebadoh albums, and later in 2012 the band once again toured with a different drummer in support of the Bakesale reissue. In 2013 Sebadoh recorded the new album Defend Yourself, again giving me what I need. But I digress from Loewnstein and the …Action he’s released. it doesn’t sound like he’s lost a step since his 2002 solo debut At Sixes And Sevens, which I had to make my way back to. The years have roughed up his voice. Not as weathered as say a Tom Waits but gruff enough, giving the music an added charm. You can hear it blistering through your speakers, or headphones, on the entrancing “Dead.” I refer to this one song first because it’s probably my favorite off the album. It opens with a cacophony of guttural guitar noise but it’s when Loewenstein bellows it out here, where he sounds like he’s become more punk as the years have progressed than he had early on in his career. If such a thing is possible. And the song structure here will leave listeners enthralled, did I mention that? Well it will. He’s also continued to play with a crazed abandon, hitting sharper notes like on the opening “Navigate,” which hits like stinging rain on your face if you didn’t have a protective umbrella. It’s frantic, it’s blistering, and it’s completely glorious. “Machinery” is the best of both worlds with power blasts that are full-frontal assaults and complex melodies that are undoubtedly masked as simple ones when it’s far from the case. The shit literally hits the fan with “New Rocker” though, where the bottom end is liable make your spine fall right out of the orifice you’d think it would come out of. This(!) is the power jam we’ve been waiting for Loewenstein to give us. But there’s more! So much more. “Superstitious” follows suit here, capitalizing on that low end theory that I just can’t seem to get enough of. Oh dear Lord, after listening to Spooky Action I’m spent. There are 11 proper songs here and the beauty of this album lingers on, long after it ends. Hell yes.
Every time I think about it I wonder “Why do I know this name, because Imaad Wasif wouldn’t be hard to forget?” Of course I know it because I have a number of other albums he’s released. He was a founding member of the lowercase (Amphetamine Reptile) that played a strange amalgam of lo-fi post rock. Throughout the years he’s collaborated with The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Folk Implosion but he’s always worked on his own material Dzi (Grey Market) is Wasif’s fourth full-length album of blistering psychedelic rock and to be honest, tagging the album into a sub-genre of “psychedelia” is probably pigeonholing his music. It’s obviously influential but it doesn’t overtake the album. Wasif may get trippy but his song writing, it’s on point from beginning to end. The opening “Far East” builds up with one instrument being added after then next before Wasif comes in with a pseudo-falsetto. The dark timbre of the track is urgent and builds around Wasif’s beautiful vocals. It’s masterfully assembled. He then heads into the rallying “Astronomy,” with washes of guitar that make you believe he’s heading into a desert-rock or stoner-metal wet dream. Does he? Yeah, he heads in that direction but you’ll be pressed to raise the volume here and hit that repeat button. But it’s far from being reckless, showing he can handle himself alongside all comers. Wasif can obviously move at a frenetic pace but can slow things down when needed like with “Carry The Scar” where the song is built around a singular melody with a lot going on underneath. Lasers, squealing overdubbed guitar solos; there’s much to be offered up here. And then he slows things down a bit more with “Marie,” a captivating track that never moves faster than a snail at it’s top speed until right before the very end. That’s where there’s a slow rising crescendo, all the while though, Wasif never raises his voice singing blissfully until oblivion. That oblivion comes in the form of “Dream Metal,” a wondrous journey into a world full of sharp objects and blood soaked roads. That’s the imagery I get from the music itself. The lyrical aspect of it seems heart-wrenching but avoids heartbreak. There’s strength here, and lots of it. “Mirror Image” sounds like the escape from oblivion but Wasif changes gears with “I’m Changing.” This is the point where shit gets real. It’s a ravaged pop song that showcases he’s not a one-trick pony. You can’t do anything but love this song. Imaad Wasif has outdone himself yet again with Dzi. You’d be hard pressed to figure out what he has in store next. I know I am.
Now the Charms is a band I’ve never heard of and so I know next to nothing about the Seattle, WA trio. What I do know is today the band released its debut album Human Error (Killroom Records) today. The group’s self-description of being “a biomechanical noise punk trio whose necro-electro sound is akin to a thousand broken computers surging with blue crystal power” is probably right on point there. When describing the northwest I’m sure the Charms would be far removed from descriptions and comparisons of the groups that came before them. No, Human Error showcases something much darker and malignant. When I reference “darker,” I’m not referring to Twilight-era glittery vampire bitches, but rather a poignant cacophony of dark matter covering light. It’s a darkness that falls along the lines of A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste – era Ministry but far removed from the pretension and “industrial” tag. It has that feel of darkness. Yes I’ve been repeating myself now and again but one listen to Human Error and it will infuse your mind and spirit with everything that’s right about music. There is no pretense here, simply three guys who will bludgeon your mind until you succumb to their will. “C.O.D.” is the opening track and the band seems to throw conventionality right out the window. That repetitive bassline is hypnotic and you’ll realize that it was always there after repeated listens. “Sirens” has you believing the group will be slowing things down once it begins but it doesn’t. They do throw in a sublime melody that’s pretty, um, charming. The band keeps up the pace throughout the album with songs like “Only is Gone” creating noise for over a minute before they explode into it or when they rip into “Dream Fever” that has noticeable space, obviously included for the eventual changes in dynamics. From beginning to end, the Charms just don’t stop, won’t stop. Human Error takes you on a journey, one that flows intensely throughout, questioning the meaning of your own miserable life. It’s something that we all need.