Monday, August 2, 2010

Classics Revisited: The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds"

Pet Sounds is considered one of the best rock records of the pre-mp3 blog era. Some people might venture to say that Pet Sounds would still hold up and wouldn't be instantly forgotten even if it was released in close proximity to the new Best Coast record. After all, Brian Wilson is generally considered "an insane retard that gets high off of eating his own poop, but nevertheless, knows his way around a theremin and Ampex 8-Track" by most reputable critics. Some publications have even gone so far as to dub Pet Sounds the No Pocky for Kitty of the mid '60s. Some might even call Brian Wilson "The Godfather of the Burgeoning Chillwave/Beachslut Movement" mostly because he was all about using jpegs of cool looking (and possibly stoned) animals for the cover of his albums, and seemed to be all about hangin' out and not doin' shit...which I guess was as novel in 1966 as it is now.

In this review I will seek to find out how Pet Sounds holds up to today's cut-throat indie mp3 blog cycle standards. Is "Sloop John B" better than Neon Indian's "Shoulda Taken Acid With You"? Short answer, "No." Long answer, "No" with a "Maybe." Will the psychedelic sounds of Pet Sounds inevitably go the way of turdgaze, Christian dronewave, dark ska, and luxurycore and be dumped into the mass grave with the other dead rock genres? Or will the style transcend the art form with a "perfect sound forever" and be recognized as timeless; like space-country, crazy-cat-lady indie, Christian screamo, and "bands that sound more-or-less exactly like Jesus and Mary Chain"? I will also try to come to some conclusion on whether or not Brian Wilson was the original chill beach slut or the original hatin' ass beach narc. Which I feel is the crux of a lot of rock criticism. And I know there's an answer.

First of all, any of these songs would be hilarious if they were mashed up with Cam'ron or Project Pat or Uffie. I dunno if Girl Talk or the Hood Internet have done this already (I don't think so), but whoever does this will probably live on forever. On a semi-related note, don't you wonder why people play shit that aren't mashups at their party? It's fucking retarded. Sorry for the vitriol.

But yeah, Pet Sounds. What makes it tick? Why is it good or horrible? The most striking mp3 on this album is the stirring anti-death penalty song, "Wouldn't It Be Nice." I think if more people heard this song, violence and death would come to a screeching halt… maybe they'd sentence criminals to "hang out at the beach and smoke purple kush" instead of making them dig their own grave in the hot sun and shit. The second song is boring as hell and doesn't have any cool stuff happening in it. If you're illegally downloading the album, make sure you delete "You Still Believe in Me" and replace it with a better song that won't put you to sleep..."Get In The Ring" by Guns n Roses or "Another Body Murdered" by Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. (from the Judgement Night soundtrack) are both fantastic substitutes that mesh well with the lyrical and musical themes found here on Pet Sounds. "I'm Waiting For The Day" has a heavy Green Album-era Weezer influence to it which is fine if you like that scene. I wonder if Brian Wilson listened to a lot of 2nd wave emo when he was being a recluse and getting high off of eating his own poop?

"Sloop John B" is sorta like the first chillwave song. And if rumors are to be believed, it took 48 different Apple laptops to make that song. I wonder if annoying girls that wore ironic animal shirts in the mid-60s would play this song way too much? "God Only Knows" is probably the most unnerving moment on them album, as it centers around uncomfortable themes of "loss of innocence" and feelings of "being raped by religion," it sorta throws you into a Comte de Lautreamont-esque surreal nightmare. This song is kinda the stylistic forefather to Marilyn Manson's sublime pocket symphony "Cryptorchid" as well as a lot of later-day Swans stuff. Fun fact! Some occult theorists/aura specialists say that you can actually hear Wilson's soul dissolving like a cube of sugar during some of the earlier recordings of "God Only Knows". But whatever. I've only listened to "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" once, and it's one of the better songs about using a primitive time travel device to go into the very recent past to cheat the stock market.

What else? The actual song "Pet Sounds" is an instrumental track. Whenever this song is preformed live, Wilson dedicates it to "all the pets around the world living and dead" and then makes the crowd join him in the chant "Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again" It's kinda silly if you actually start to think about it. "Caroline No" is boring grandpa chillwave at its worst, which (ironically) isn't chill at all. And needless to say, I'm not in the mood to sing the praises about the rest of this dying proto glo-fi brachiosaurus.

Recently it seems there's been a groundswell of people I've ran into that think Smile Smiley or whatever is truly superior record. Mostly because of knee-jerk people are sick of saying Pet Sounds is so un-fucking-precedented and - plus! - Smiley has songs about eating a shit ton of vegetables out of boredom and hangin' out with supremely fuckable bald babes! But this sentiment smacks of trying-too-hard music criticism and indie snobbery. Like when you ask someone what their favorite Wire record is, and they instantly reply to you "THE SHITTY ONE THAT NO ONE LIKES! NOT EVEN ME."

I appreciate Pet Sounds the way I appreciate George Washington, King Arthur, the Loch Ness Monster or Winston Churchill. In the way that I don't really appreciate it at all. It's like "I get it. You probably did a lot of cool shit 48 million eons ago when no one blogged about anything. I wouldn't be here without all your sweet beachwave parties you threw for the good of the nation or whatever. You probably met a lot of meaningful people and learned 'the ways of trees' from 'the red man' or whatever. I don't care. You're in my sun."

To the central question was Brian a cool dude or a narc? Well, anyone who hides from society and craps their pants all the time and uses tons of superfluous instruments just to be a jerk-off and waste the money of ancient buzz-kills that were probably pressuring him to pump out a hit on the level of "The Entertainer" or "Spoonman" or whatever song was #1 on iTunes at the time, well, anyone who does all of that rad shit will always be cool in my book. What was chill once will always remain chill, right? Unfortunately, no. Nothing chill ever stays. -Willwave

Julian Buttersweets "Nasty's Fort"

Download Nasty's Fort

Sacramento's Julian Buttersweets is a sick and sad individual. And so it only follows that his music is both as sweet as is frightening. Nasty's Fort definitely falls more into the frightening side of the spectrum.

While listening to "The Throat Slicer", it's not hard to envision a maniacal blade-wielding demon singing the words, as fat bass, bongos and harmonium bounce from one speaker to the next, and that's just the beginning. What continues is a series of songs so childish and terrifying its safe to say that Julian Buttersweets has finally lost his mind.

The song "Nasty's Fort" comes next and spreads itself across the listener's psyche, evoking a clearing in the woods, with a Residents-esque voice narrating the sad and alarming life of Nasty and his lonely fort. According to the lyric sheet, "nobody visits Nasty's Fort no more" and it's quite clear why this is the case.

"1-2-3-4" is kind of a children's rhyme punctuated by the canned exclamation of "1, 2, 3, 4" being chanted via Casiotone. It's a brief track that segues into the equally disconcerting "Dear Dr. Juice", a mad carnival of a song. Buttersweets, you bastard, when will your mad nightmare end??

From a slim paragraph of album notes comes the instructions, "Listen to it in complete darkness if at all possible." I couldn't agree more! -Adam

Listen to "The Throat Slicer"

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tristan Corrales "Neo Existentialism"

Hi, my name is Matt, and I am a Nintendo addict...

It began innocently enough...I received a Game Boy on Christmas Day of 1990, if I recall correctly. Now it's 2010, I'm 25 and I've got a small portable console that can and does play more 8 and 16-bit games than even I can possibly comprehend. Most of my days are spent trembling in anticipation of some new Zelda, Mario or Metroid game, like a junkie waiting for a fix (albeit with more manageable withdrawal symptoms). I can get through my days a little easier though, knowing there are others out there like Tristan Corrales that share the same affliction. I really do wish I could tell you I'm getting clean...I wish I tell you that Tristan is my sponsor. The truth is, he has become more like a supplier.

Mr. Corrales is quite adept at creating a virtual landscape of sound, synesthetically producing colorful visions of pixelated bushes and clouds, mid-level checkpoints and princesses in need of saving. Unlike musical contemporaries such as BitShifter or Pixelh8, Tristan's chiptune grooves aren't trying to re-create any sort of dance floor techno or electro vibe. Each song here is unique unto itself, each track the soundtrack to the level of some twisted, long-forgotten Nintendo game that never got a stateside release.

This is heavily nostalgic, happy, energetic chiptune music that doesn't ape any specific genre. It is quite possible Tristan Corrales scores video games for a living, but if he doesn't he most certainly could land a job...back in the early 90's...hmm. Crap. Where's that Game Genie at? -Matt

Listen to "Stroll in the Park With My Best Friends"