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New Stuff We Like 

Thursday, Jun 17 2004
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OCTAVIUS Audio Noir (Mush) This man and his trip have been called “experimental hip-hop,” and sure it’s hip-hop, because about 50 layers down there might’ve been a beat or two in the mix at one time. He’s a.k.a. William Marshall, and he likes to bring the ruffest rap tracks to the chopping block, ramrodding already radical stuff through a mountain of distortion and freestyle electronic surgical deep-fry, liquefying it, somewhat putrifying it and then, strangely, finding in its original cracked aggression a comfortingly chilling beauty. This is an important record, in a way, ’cause it’s about the true evolution of a previously challenging style or form, and not about the straitjacketing of same to get paid or whatever. And as you all surely realize, sometimes art can wipe the floor with commerce . . .

THE BLOOD ARM Bomb Romantics (no label yet) Local pop hounds with a rather charmingly bellowing lead singer, entire warehouses of slam, vim & vigor, of course, then these amazingly memorable hooks à la the entire history of good pop including Motown, rolled up into a big rocking ball and smoked (as if some serious study of the form has been undertaken; or are younger musicians simply smarter than they used to be?). Some might call it charisma, but see for yourself at their numerous shows around town. Why, yes, they will be huge.

YOUR ENEMIES FRIENDS You Are Being Videotaped (Buddyhead) Rock music from and with odd angles and a nice line in postpunk-hardcore despair and doom and death, black-clad too like most young people from L.A., so what, but then how many of us make such soaring passionate discord? Very few, sadly. Their main man name of Ronnie Washburn writes real songs, great, brutal bleak ones, which Steve Albini produced on the latest.

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MYSTIC CHORDS OF MEMORY (Rough Trade) Ex–Beachwood Sparks fella and friends trade in the moribund beige cords of nu-Valley country rock for the quieter and possibly deeper greens of droning organs, sustained electric guitars and vocal sighs redolent of the Santa Cruz fog from which it comes. B. Sparks also recently birthed All Night Radio, not coincidentally, and they’re currently freaking out on samples & improv & fractured beats . . . Hey, whatever happened to “indie rock”? (It crawled up its own bumhole, is what.)

MIKE WATT The Second Man’s Middle Stand (Columbia) Mike Watt is the best-liked man in the entire world, next to my dad. That’s because Mike’s got a good attitude, and he likes it all — I mean, if Mike Watt is getting seriously into Journey, Meat Loaf and Night Ranger, he’s one of the few who could persuade you to think that maybe you should get into Journey, Meat Loaf and Night Ranger, too. Why? Because he’s open minded, and he gets results, like this sterling new set proves. Big ’70s limburger-rock excitement in tone, slyly interpolating free jazz/kool klub fare and much post-Beefheart sculptural p.o.v. Also brief somber bass ruminations, xlnt Hammond organ overdrive, Watt’s very own thoughts about shaping a song without dropping into the big black hole of the coldly avant-garde. This is way idiosyncratic party music, very far out in several key ways, more authentically new-music than, say, John Adams, more true jazz and even hip-hop than most with that genre tag (’cause it makes its own rules). Personal note: I’m one of six people in L.A. who doesn’t pretend to know Mike Watt, like we don’t go way back or anything. One night, however, he told me that as a public utility man in his younger days, he checked the meters on the house I grew up in down in Long Beach. This spooked me. I mean, he remembered my house!

SEKSU ROBA Pleasure Vibrations (Eenie Meenie) It just seems to me that if you’re on the dance floor, ultimately you want to be laughing your head off. Not that Seksu Roba are just jokers, as such, but this disc and its cunning creators are like a flight to the moon on saucily gossamer wings — so we’re dancing, but maybe we’ll fall off! And if we do, we’ll reach out and touch the stars . . . but there might be monsters there, too . . . This is synth-bubble ’n’ silver Mylar lounge lurve straight from Uranus — suave, yes, well, suavely frisky, guided by a “dance aesthetic” busy not sweating who’s got the baddest beats of all, none of that. Soundgrabber/programmer/ theraminist Sukho Lee and lyrical interpreter Lun*na Menoh seem to have a solid clue about how to keep it light without blowing away, to be funny without losing the . . . flava! And the brains to know when to blow your sweaty body away with shimmering electronic splendor. Good-humored, yes, but they will sneak up on you . . .

Reach the writer at jpayne@bluefat.com

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