The past couple of weeks I've been "spinning" a couple of new "platters" I'd like to tell you about from CRASH NORMAL and GRASS WIDOW, respectively. No, they're not really records, though I have it on good word that both of them actually exist on vinyl. Here at The Hedonist Jive, unfortunately and however, we've graduated to the digital age and have reduced our internal carbon footprint by eliminating a turntable. That said, we still haven't figured out what to call a new release other than "record", so you'll have to forgive us our antiquated terminology when discussing these packaged, sequential collections of musical entertainment.
CRASH NORMAL - "Your Body Got A Land"
On the evidence provided by their singles in the past, I've associated this French act with quirky, unfunny, garage-based noise - the sort of band that might knock out a decent sheet of sound and a good riff but who then has to go turd-in-the-punchbowl by following it with a track that's just a squiggle of noise, some "found sound" or someone talking. So imagine my proverbial surprise to hear their new full record, and it's treading much more along territory laid by Thee Oh Sees - still quirky, reverby and deafeningly loud at times, but also with real songs and a consistent worldview of alien weirdness, swampy guitars and experimentation more in line with The Country Teasers' tomfoolery than something a bored child might put to vinyl.
It holds together really well, and if "Moon Food", the track I'm posting here, isn't the best mp3 of the year then you'll have to tell me what is.
Download Crash Normal - "Moon Food"
GRASS WINDOW - "Internal Logic"
Am I being nitpicky about one of my favorite bands on the planet if I mention that this is probably the worst album cover that anyone's released in at least five years? Now that that's out of the way: "Internal Logic" evolves this harmonizing trio's angular art/punk into new realms, with some of the harder edges rubbed a little cleaner without any real loss in quality. I've spent a bunch of time with this one and have seen some of its songs performed live - Grass Widow have been "my favorite current band" for a good three years now - and I may yet even pronounce it better than "Past Time", their previous record - though I doubt it, since that record rules.
Aside from two needless short piano and guitar pieces tossed in to underline the point that "we're growing up and evolving", "Internal Logic" breezes by with one excellent chugger after another, all tightly-wound and full of echoed choruses overlaid on top of one another to create an angelic, "chamber" feel while still being rooted in punk rock and the foundation laid by The Urinals, Wire, and the Inflatable Boy Clams (!). I think inventive-but-understated guitarist Raven Mahon would be the band's secret weapon, except that she's right out there in front and one of the soaring vocalists as well. You'd find this kind of special DIY record coming out of the UK or San Francisco in the early 1980s, except it wouldn't have nearly as many flawless songs and the band would have broken up already anyway. Here's to another three years of Grass Widow "records", right?
Download Grass Widow - "Advice"