"Free music for the People :: free People for the Music"

[est'd 2004 A.D. :: New Jersey]

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

long ago in a time before high-school diplomas and fatal and non-fatal overdoses and in-treatment rehabs and dropping in & out of college(s)... before babies and 9-5 jobs... before long distances forced their way between best friends (out of necessity) and other friends disappeared from relevance all together... i spent all day in and out of high-schooling thinking about, dreaming about, working at, & endlessly frustrated by music. nothing else mattered, pessimism was the style, and i along with a few other bent-minded individuals lived for dirty cat-pissed and pit-crust-smelling beer-stained basements of glory brimming with obnoxiously loud noise-violation-summoning music... enchanted, i fell head first down sets of collapsing broken-ass stairs of philadelphia row houses and into a steaming sea of kind-hearted freaks.

it was an awkward and uncomfortable time. i'm sure you've tried to forget and i'm positive you're not proud of it but just for a minute take your mind back to the age where swollen, pussing, crusting & bleeding acne roamed free in its natural habitat... before anybody or anybody they knew could legally score a case of beer or a bottle of liquor... before your fuck-ups had any kind of quantifiable and damning effect on "the rest of your life," wherever the hell that was headed. if you're still living in that age, just keep in mind that it'll probably get better. but only in some ways. in a lot of ways things will just get way worse... (good luck).

the band i was in at the time subscribed so deeply to the embedded awkwardness and youthful frustrations of every day life that we deemed it necessary to reflect a massive amount of discomfort in our performances... besides the confused & screamed lyrics and the desperate atonal guitarings (all down-strokes, none up) of the practiced-to-hell-and-never-quite-right 20-30 minute sets, we'd also refrain from everything from masturbation (or sex) to food to drugs to cigarettes the day before & the day of every show and most practices just to see how fucking uncomfortable we could get. we were really fucking uncomfortable. we were angry. we were too big for our own good. we wished we were 25 and we wished we were 7.

our first philly basement show was a big deal for us... finally we'd escaped the jersey suburbs for a night and good god all the noise we found... that's where (the Stakehaus), how (a shared gig), and when (in high-school), i first met Rasputin's Secret Police.

fast forward to present day... it's 2012... and there i was last Sunday, almost 6 years since high-school graduation, bouncing my 5 month old son on my knee and watching the DVD that came with RSP's new album, "Comfortable." i'm still enjoying the hell out of them and my son's just starting.

i've been listening to the record obsessively. Josh (drums) gave me a copy soon after they were printed - sorry, Brandon (guitar) - with the idea/expectation that i would write a review. i told him it'd be scathing. i was being sarcastic. the reality is... i can't review this album. it's a record that's already too close to my heart from a band that's been close to my heart for too many years and there's not much i can say that would in any way be objective or that you couldn't find out yourself by getting your ass to one of their shows. i realized last night, after putting off this write-up for days, and while driving along playing the new record for an old friend who was never a basement-going music-playing high-school clown, that i can't even fucking begin to describe RSP's music. their previous albums i've soaked way too much in my own nostalgia and fleeting youth and this new one... i know it applies to life now but i wouldn't want to bother anybody with all of that. i wouldn't even be able to articulate it. and not only that, but after 6 or 7 years of seeing the guys almost exclusively at shows, we might actually consider each-other friends at this point. you can't review a friend's record... it's damn near impossible.

so last night that other friend, on the way to new brunswick for a Roy Orbitron/Alien Father show, asked me politely and sincerely, "can you explain to me, as someone who also likes and appreciates music, what this is about? what genre this is supposed to be?" i told him "they call it stomp-rock." then i froze... i said "it's about going to shows in basements and having a good time...
...
...this song's about being 23 and living with your mom," to which he responded "is that why he's moaning in agony?" and then he turned the music back up and we continued listening to the whole damn record, repeating tracks that he liked. he really liked track 2, "Dunwoody." he's 23 and lives with his parents. we all move back before we move out again, or maybe we never left. never better.

my point is... even if i fail at being objective, if a write-up or review is supposed to spread the word about a band and sing their praises (or tell you how awful they are) while simultaneously sticking them in a genre-box... if it's at all about describing a band for someone who has no context, who may not even have the references you may spout... i can't do that. i can't do that at all. all i can say is that if you can relate to any of the descriptions above, this album is a step out of that, maybe a step forward, maybe a step to the side and pivot just to look back at all that time and energy we spent, trying to figure out where it got us... with a swinging neck back to a view of the future... or maybe just the now... something even more terrifying than high-school... all that real life shit. we're gonna be optimistic this time around. and if it's not ok, well fuck it... we'll stomp it out.

here are some e-mails from Alec, also a contributor to this blog and my former high-school bandmate that probably do a better job than i've done... or at least offer another perspective on the thing. unedited for your pleasure. i'm hoping by saying "use any of this" he meant i could use all of it. i don't think he'll mind.

1.
"heyo. yeah ive listened to it a bunch. you sent it to me a while ago. it's... alright.
its more pop than theyve ever been, some of it definitly almost radio playable. the drums do indeed pop out and clip and the comfort may also lie in the overcompressed guitar which never hurts the ears. vocals are more casual and human than any other record since the selftitled. comfortable with just singing as himself, no more ian curtis in a basement impersonations. its more fuzz and less organic. more wall than ever and it definitly defines the elusive sub-genre 'stomp-rock'. comfort in thr flat wall and the loud. you can tell he's even more comfortable with the chords...with the guitar. similar chord types used more often.

i will listen again and write some more. i really have to poop. trying out a new bassist and drummer next week. it's do or die for me now.

hope you well.
a"
2.
"more (now.listening)

theres a definite connection to 90's alternative heavy shit like korn, limp bizkit, deftones....
much of the stomp comes from brandon quick stops and starts and mutes of chords which he seems infinitely comfortable with now.
less fluff like keyboards on this record.
major keys/ scales. theyve gotten progressively more major since build things. the record almost plays like a recollection of past records and time-spent in basements for all these years. more time spent looking back than forward.
many clues to brandon's love of the band chamomile, even musically, especially on zoe, where his vocals surf the top like chamomiles did on 'womb with a view'.
josh's drums are simple and more on point than ever. still the brilliant fills, but never too many. he allows brandons guitar to drift and catches it again& again with each phrase. holds down the stomp.
i suppose you could say this is the beat example of stomp rock out there, but drexel kill may be this as well. drexil kill was sublter, less comfortable, a bit more gloomy, and lost rhino was gloomier. emerging from the fog, comfortably. emerging from the farcical fog of youth, finally comfortable. uncomfortable with so much of the past (ergo the rexord's focus) but fuck it; 'stomp it out'. let the dark past push you forward.
definitly some 90's british shoegaze chords and drift especially on tea & honey. floats like a Slowdive outro or even an early Flying Saucer Attack record with more rythm. something very 90's about it. which makes sense since we grew up in the 90's. we were kids ib the 90's. we are not proud of those years.
interesting that much previous rasputin has been very 80's, New Order. now we are givin a track lke 'me and zoe' which plays like a happy nirvana skipping dream, at least rythmically, a stomp poppunk driver. this song is not about the past, but again about zoe, a dog who is seemingly brandon's best friend and ultimately his Muse. she is uncomplicated and asks nothing of him.
'freaks' is straitup deftones 'around the fur' in a good way.
i changed my mind this record isnt 'alright'. its good. challengingly flat and straihtforward."
3.
"part 3 (then i have to go work). feel free to post any of this or use it in your review.

honey chamomile beginz as alt-country laziness and approaches The Vines territory with that sunny day drift leading to a punch, or stomp in this case. 'fucj the past' is what i get from this song. you can hear brandon trying to convince himself that he needs to move forward. again the shoegazer 7th chords and reverb on 'welcome home'.
intrsting that this record starts with your expected lyrics about ghosts and more magical things but arrives somewhere much more tangible, real, straightforward, as if the need for these fantasical nightmarish characatures may be coming to a close. maybe reality can finally be approached and dealt with and there is less of a need to hide in the woods with the witches. again, the theme of emerging from a dark place, more comfortable than ever, singing 'damn that place sucked, glad i'm out.'
the finaL track begans as 90's rural psychadelia, lying down and thankgod we're outta the woods. sick of drinking 'alcohol from mermaid's breasts'. again i wikl reference 80's shoegazers Flying Saucer Attack. or even Duster, with the hovering feedback over gloomy metal chords.

its a cool record. quote me on whatever you want!

i am sick of washing dishes but offf i gooo"
___________________

get the fucking record. go to a show. bring your barf bag. get music and info here:
and here:
___________________

4 comments:

bunny1 said...

righteous words Conor. I agree with you on everything. I was there. Still am in many ways.
\
love the RSP album
\still rock my TShirt in LA
\
\\\\\\\\\i dont wanna see the sun
\
\-\\\\\\\\ Alec

Heather Mathews said...

Conor...

So fucking evocative, your writing. I fell right back down that rabbit hole of backyards and basements and borrowed cars. I better sign off before I accidentally download the memory app and shit goes bananas.

Take care of you.

- Heather

CGM said...

i appreciate y'all reading. i don't know how many times i've referenced that stakehaus show on this blog already but... it's always necessary.

don't go bananz (& take care)

Mike Kelly said...

dude, this shit made me cry, i love you for bringing me back to those days and hate you for reminding me that theyre over, your an amazing writer .. i feel so sad and happy right now it sucks!