AWOL Magazine, 1995
Archive for the Category »WRITING «
Custom Bike, Feb 93
Just found this from Custom Bike, Jan 1993. I’ll be posting more old stuff as and when I find it and can be arsed.
WARBRINGER + LAZARUS A.D. + LANDMINE MARATHON
West Hollywood Key Club, October 3rd, 2011
Holy shit! What just happened there? One minute there was this petite looking girl on stage, all t-shirt and sneakers, and now there’s a rabid banshee, snarling and spitting and spewing rage. That’ll be Grace Perry, apparently channeling the ghost of Phil Vane, and her band, Landmine Marathon, have a few things they’d like to get off their chest. They are nothing if not explosive, a blistering assault that draws a clear evolutionary line to bands like Rudimentary Peni, Napalm Death, and Extreme Noise Terror. The new album’s called ‘Gallows’ and you need it.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Wisconsin’s Lazarus A.D. who sound like the perennial opening band: in the 90’s they’d have opened for Exodus at the Marquee, today it’s Warbringer at the Key Club, same deal, different year. It’s not that they’re bad by any means, great players in fact, but that wasn’t enough then, and it sure as hell isn’t enough now. Throw a stone off the roof of this building and you could hit a dozen bands who sound the same. Rehashed thrash.
But then, talking of perennials, California thrashers Warbringer have been earning it the hard way for many years now and this is their first ever headline tour, the first gig of the tour in fact. They have good reason to be pleased: the Key Club has long been metal friendly, but making the 600 capacity venue look busy on a Monday night is still no mean feat. Better still it feels like they’re ready for it, honed and toned, not a beat out of place, frontman John Kevill commanding the stage. There’s a good, solid set-list too, ‘Total War’ from ‘War Without End’ standing out as particularly vicious, but more tellingly the new tracks go down a storm, already sounding road tested and headbanger approved. 37 dates in 38 nights? No problem, Warbringer are ready to bring it.
My first ever photography job…so yes, I know the photos are shite, but I have this band to ‘thank’ for it. And thanks to Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson for finding the feature.
‘The Dwarves Are Born Again’
Your safest bet is to avoid this album, go nowhere near it or anyone who had anything to do with making it: they are bad, bad people, and, like sticking your dick in a $20 hooker, will only lead you to trouble. Excuse the analogy, but this is a Dwarves album and you’ll find much worse. Oh so much worse.
“A cure for cancer or for AIDS/ to volunteer in fire brigades,” ponders frontman Blag Dahlia on the opening track, before deciding, “let’s just get high and fuck some sluts.” And this is just track one! It’s called ‘The Dwarves Are Still The Best Band Ever’, and the scary thing is they may just be right, because 25 years into a ‘career’ that should have lasted ten minutes The Dwarves, alone in their field, “like turd in swimming pool”, are virtually untouchable.
Six years on from the last slab of horrid genius, ‘The Dwarves Must Die’, ‘…Born Again’ maintains much the same formula, and, like it’s predecessor, the same feeling that you should wash your hands after touching it. Because make no mistake, like the aforementioned hooker, this new album is utterly infectious. “Your 15 minutes are up”, tick, tick, tick, “we’re here to tell you, you suck!” tick, tick, tick… That one’s going to be stuck in your head like the later stages of syphilis. It’s called ‘15 Minutes’ and clocks in at less than a minute. And it’s that way with pretty much every song, each and every one of them a nasty little rash that just won’t go away.
The clever bit is that The Dwarves disguise most of their tunes as throwaway -three minutes or less of obnoxious pop punk with some sing-a-long swearing, blink and you’ll miss it -but there are elements and flavours of multiple genres, all very carefully layered and often camouflaged. Don’t be fooled by the nudity and mayhem, these boys know exactly what they’re doing and probably have done since 1997’s classic ‘The Dwarves Are Young And Good Looking’. Phil Spector got it wrong with The Ramones, if he was even attempting this, but here is a record that is polished without being cleaned, like the difference between trailering a car to a custom show or driving it there. The Dwarves drive it like they stole it with the top down and the radio blasting nothing but hits. “LAPD is after me! Let’s get this party started!”
Bad, bad people. Bless them.
SEAN WHEELER & ZANDER SCHLOSS
Walk Thee Invisible
Fans of those Salton Sea crazies Throw Rag may have been curious enough to check out frontman Sean Wheeler in his acoustic guise alongside one time Joe Strummer collaborator Zander Schloss. If you have, and they play many shows in many dive bars, recently coming through town with the mighty Masters Of Reality, then you’re in for a treat. Wheeler is as much an entertainer as he is a great singer, evoking thoughts of some punk rock rat pack with Wheeler as a tattooed Sinatra. He’s a crooner, always with smile and a joke up his sleeve, but a teardrop on his face.
Walk Thee Invisible, as you’d expect from an acoustic album, is a perfect representation of the duos’ live show, with all its moods and all its ups and downs, right up to the gospel track Spiritual that people tend to talk through. Not that the song doesn’t make sense, but it’s perhaps too personal for a crowded room, Wheeler the sinner where other have feared to tread, baring his soul for all to see. Indeed, it’s that kind of album, seeped in the memory of whiskey and lost loves, with song titles like I Wish I Would’ve and Stranded, in many ways an old mans’ bar album, but again, so much more. And such is Wheeler’s roguish charisma that they’re always a wink in the eye that has seen so much regret, a knowledge that no one else is to blame and that tomorrow holds no fears.
It’s best to pick your moments. Walk Thee Invisible is a tough album at times, a wolf hidden in all this melancholy mellowness, and will catch you off guard on the wrong day, inviting you to wallow, as sour as sour mash. But you get that feeling that’s not the point: more than anything this bitter sweet collection is a celebration, sometimes for it’s own sake, for having come out the other side with the ability to still laugh. In truth it’s probably an old farts album, or at least it should be, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed Seasick Steve down (check him out if you haven’t already!), shifting millions of albums with a very similar path, so maybe this will do well. It’s certainly as deserving.
Kerrang! November 27th 1999. Lemmy’s favourite interview!