There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.
There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.
If you are in a band, have released a physical (rather than an MP3) CD or record, and would like us to review your efforts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 30, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Recently Jason from Bright as Night Records (BNR) contacted me to ask me if I would like to review the labels latest compilation release. Naturally, I said yes, it was after all free swag. And, I am a sucker for underground music and do it yourself projects. The goal of BNR is to bring unknown bands out from their basements and practice spaces and into your ears. I am here to help. In the review that follows, I will point out my favorite tracks and direct you to a place where you can hear more from the bands.
There is a little something on this release for everyone or a lot of something if you are an eclectic music listener. The music on this release runs the gamut from folk rock to post-rock to thrash metal. If I counted correctly there are nineteen different bands on this 22 track record. Some of these bands either share my home base of Portland, OR, or have a Portland connection. I was familiar with most of these local bands already. My hearing is probably colored by this phonic history, because half of my favorite tracks have a Portland connection. My favorite tracks are by the Vanishing Kids, Dark Farmers, Members of the Press, Canyons of Static and Gnome Sorcery Federation.
Fellow music reviewer, Dave, introduced me to the Vanishing Kids a few years ago. They are fucking awesome, and their two tracks are hands down my favorites on the CD. The track titled, The Unlit Path, presents a different style for the V. Kids. Normally when I listen to the Kids I sense a little bit of a Cure vibe from them. Not on this comp. The track entitled, "The Unlit Path" is harder and more progressive than most of their songs. Fucking awesome! The second Vanishing Kids track, "Mother Earth", showcases the voice of their wonderful and powerful singer. I saw the Vanishing Kids live a few times in Portland, and I am convinced that they had (before relocating to Wisconsin) not only the best singer in the Pacific Northwest, but one of the best anywhere.
Vanishing Kids: Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/vanishingkids
Another stand out track is “Night of the Long Knives” by Dark Farmers. This track reminds me a little bit of Russian Circles, whom I love. I must get a full length release from this band—they need a record deal.
Dark Farmers: Check them out at: http://www.myspace.com/darkfarmers
I am having a hard time typing while picking my jaw up off the floor. Canyons of Static are fucking awesome. A few years ago I went to see New Model Army with Mr. and Mrs. SoDak. The opening band was called Vale. I don’t expect you to have heard of them, and I apologize for the obscure reference, but I love Vale. Canyons of Static have that same understated shoegaze sound that I love in Vale, but with a bit of postrock packaging.
Give them a listen: http://www.myspace.com/canyonsofstatic/music
The Members of the Press track is not for everyone, particularly those who feel that music begins and ends with guitar solos. Members of the Press are a three piece with two basses and a drummer. As you would expect from two basses this track is mega-heavy and is VERY interesting and experimental. I realize this is yet another obscure musical reference, but the sludginess (and only the sludginess, the styles of the bands are very different) of Members of the Press reminds me of Beasts of the Field.
Before attempting to describe the Gnome Sorcery Federation track, I must disclose that the guitar player for the Gnomes is Tickle Your Taint’s own reviewer, Dave. I admit to being biased towards this band. That being said, holy shit these fuckers are nerdy—gloriously nerdy and awesome. Only a group of nerds would have the word gnome in their name and have D and D lyrics. My love of all things Dave and dislike of nerdy pursuits aside, this track is odd, but rocking. There are enough tempo changes to keep things interesting. Also the Gnomes have, for lack of a better term, a democratic sound. They are either a band of lead musicians—lead bass, lead guitar, lead drums, etc—or they are a band consisting of shy nerds who want to avoid stepping forward into the light and taking control.
Truthfully, I expected to be disappointed by this compilation, like I have been of so many others in the past. Particularly bad are all those fucking tribute comps. I have taken to copying the one or two good songs from comps and saving them to my computer and throwing out the discs, but that is another topic for another day. The BNR comp contains several songs that I love, many more that I like, only two that I really do not care for. The Bright as Night Records Comp 2 is a CD that I am going to keep around and display proudly. I suspect that there are a few bands on the comp that will go on to get record deals, and only I, and those like me, who had the foresight to get this comp, will have a piece of those artists early histories. We will be able to say, “I knew them when…” and you, my friends, will feel incomplete and jealous. Why put yourself through the pain of feeling inferior on some future date. Friends, you must ensure your future happiness. Contact Bright as Night Records and get this comp.
You can contact them through their myspace page at: http://www.myspace.com/brightasnightrecords
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
By Anita Papsmear.
I humbly submit this music review, compiled from a pile of sticky notes, 2 books, a helpin’ heapin’ of Papsmear swagger, and several websites. It may seem weird to write a review about a band/release that hit their stride in the late 1970s and early 80s—especially since this seminal punk band had more line-up changes than I can count. But, I ask you, what is more punk rock than that? The Damned, in all its incarnations, are fucking great, and this collection is jam packed with all their hits.
Flashback to 1987, MCA released the lengthy retrospective, The Light at the End of the Tunnel. There aren’t any musical gems missing, all The Damned favorites are here. If you aren’t too familiar with this band, I urge you to pick up this retrospective and listen to all 28 tunes. If you haven’t heard of them, you may want to peruse through your MILF of a mom’s vinyl collection—if she’s as cool as her black t-shirt collection indicates—The Light at the End of the Tunnel might be in there somewhere. Speaking of your mom, there is something on here for everyone. It’s rock and roll spanning approximately 14 years, and it sounds like English rock should sound. Often waxing political, it’s always melodic with an undeniable punk rock sensibility. The only downside to The Light At the End of the Tunnel is that the songs on the discs are not in chronological order. However, like the title suggests, it runs the gamut of emotions—hopeful, playful, and serious. The energy is hard and earnest. I fondly remember The Damned for putting the fun in punk rock. They are the true grandfathers of punk rock. In their native England, The Damned was the first punk rock group to get a song pressed on vinyl (“New Rose,” November 1976; released before the Sex Pistols’s “Anarchy in the UK”), and the first to release a full punk rock album (Damned, Damned, Damned), and one of the first punk bands to tour America. Their first gig was as the opener for the Sex Pistols at London’s 100 Club in July 1976, and they followed the Pistols on their subsequent tour. It is here that the life-long comparisons to the Sex Pistols begin.
I had the privilege of seeing The Damned (1985 if memory serves) in New York City. Dave Vanian, The Damned’s sultry voiced front man, stood out in the crowd, dressed in a vampire cape and donning a white skunk stripe through his black hair. Rumor has it, Dave was recruited into the band after Rat Scabies (Chris Miller) heard him singing at a funeral. Dave was working as a gravedigger at the time. Ah…Rat Scabies—there has been no better name in rock and roll history. Apparently he got his name from a public toilet seat encounter. Just kidding—but that can happen, right?
Dave Vanian was the last to join the group. Brian James, Captain Sensible (Ray Burns), and Mr. Scabies had been together for a couple of gigs already. From 1976 to 1989, members came and went (Dave has been the only mainstay), but the one constant has been the musicianship. Absolutely a joy to see live, their rare combination of punk rock and glam rock influences were mixed with a bit of theater, the likes of which have rarely been seen since. Notably, Brain James started The Damned after leaving the band, S.S. London, which included pre-Clashmen Paul Simonon and Mick Jones. Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies were formerly in Nick Kent’s band, Subterraneans.
All these years later, folks over 40 may be familiar with the band’s name, but only the fervently cool will be able to tell you anything about them. Some folks may remember the outlandish outfits (tutus and boas). Others may simply dismiss The Damned as “just another band out of the London scene that wasn’t the Sex Pistols”—a grave mistake. Let me just say this: The Damned have more musical talent and heart in their stinky little pinkies than the Sex Pistols ever dreamed of having (that is, if they ever dreamed about that). The Damned also came along at a pivotal time in music industry history. Record labels were beginning to move from a point of actually caring about a band and fostering them through their growth, to a fast-cash, quick sell—”the band is disposable”—type mode.
A cherished bit of The Damned in action was caught on film in an episode of The Young Ones, a beloved English comedy series that began in 1982 (“Who likes Neal?”). The episode is entitled, “Nasty Vampire” and is definitely worth a watch. For this episode The Damned perform their classic song, “(Video) Nasty” to go along with characters Mike and Vivian’s video night (“Yes, we got a video!”). You can see for yourself their vivacious appeal. Captain Sensible decked out in his leathers and a red, dare I say, “raspberry” beret. Dave looking gloriously goth in all his blackened robed glory. Absolutely Fabulous fans will dig the early footage of Jennifer Saunders in this episode (“SAFF!”). Interesting tidbits: Jennifer Saunders went on to marry TheYoung Ones star, Adrian Edmundson. By the way, Ab Fab-er Dawn French also appears in an episode of The Young Ones.
Let’s track through the discs of The Light at the End of the Tunnel.
CD #1 – tracks of note:
Track 1: “I Feel Alright” 1977
Nick Lowe produced this remake of The Stooges song. (Lowe produced the entirety of Damned, Damned, Damned). The Damned’s spin on this tune still feels vital. A raucous recantation of getting fucked up on a Saturday night. One of two remakes in this collection, it packs a punch.
Track 2: “Anything” 1986
This is a perfect track and if, by the end, you aren’t into it, you just don’t like rock and roll—and that ain’t right. An anthemic complaint about the state of the nation, The Damned dare to tempt fate:
I tear into my clothes, sacrifice my soul for anything, anything
I gotta clear this town, no sense in hanging around
‘cause anything, anything, anything, is better than this
Unfortunately, we all know the answer—there is always something worse out there. This track comes from later in the band’s evolution and it is solid, catchy, and sinister. The Damned are able to walk the fine line of punk rock and undeniable pop sensibility.
Track 3: “Love Money” 1982
I love the English and I love the way they rock. Yes, singing about beer, economic class, murder, and rotten money are universal themes, but the Brits describe it with more style than most. This tune is a great ditty about making money pedaling the tourist trade on past English horrors. There is even a sample from a real London tour guide embedded within the song.
The victors of opium wars now take their trips and open doors
They stand upon the actual floors
It makes them proud to be around and take their summer piccies
To drink at night in Soho bars and end up feeling sickie
More money, more money….
Track 5: “Plan 9 Channel 7” 1979
An ode to the dark lovely in the movie, “Planet 9 From Outer Space,” this tune is an unexpected pop gem.
Track 6: “Grimly Fiendish” 1985
This is not a Halloween song but not a hallowed season goes by that I don’t have to play this song at least 10 times. It’s undeniably catchy. It’s a melodramatic musical masterpiece made complete with the use of a toy piano—so under used in music these days. This song makes me happier than bats!
Track 7: “Stranger On the Town” 1982
The bass line on this song is amazing and the drums drive the beat right through your chest.
Track 8: “Neat Neat Neat” 1977
One of their earliest singles, this tune epitomizes the energy and vitality of The Damned. It’s perfect, pure punk rock in its earliest conception. It’s fucking awesome and should find its way onto every mixed CD you make from now on.
Track 9: “Alone Again Or” 1986
One of two covers on this compilation, it is a love song. The Damned’s rendition of Love’s “Alone Again Or” is astonishingly warm and compelling. The guitar work is raw yet flawless, even evoking a hint of Flamenco guitar. I have heard another band’s cover of this song, but none, not even the original, compares to this version. Even the hairs on your arms begin to dance once the Mariachi horns begin.
Track 10: “Is It A Dream” 1985
I can’t say enough about this track. The Damned were still doing some of their best work in the mid-1980s. Their mid-80s work is arguably more pop than their earlier work (a few needless guitar solos), but the songs are still solid, the song writing still great.
Track 11: “Smash It Up” 1979
The first half of this tune contains some beautiful guitar work. The second half becomes another great punk rock anthem. Why wasn’t this band bigger? I guess even in those days, cutting yourself on stage and spitting on people to garner attention wins out over actual musical talent.
We’ve been crying now for much too long
and now we’re gonna dance to a different song
Gonna scream and shout ‘til my dying breath
Gonna smash it up ‘til there’s nothing left
Ooh, ooh, smash it up
Smash it up, smash it up.
Track 13: “Curtain Call” 1980
An epic journey ahead of its time. Grasping the shores of ambient soundscapes and gothic subtleties, this 17+ minute song (part of this song is under “hidden track” status) will compel you to listen to every second!
Can you taste the grit between your teeth
The heat of the light
The crack of the whip
The snapping sound of somebody’s nerve
If you pay, you get what you deserve
We’re coming up from the deep
The lizard sheds its skin
Night obliterates the day
And all the fun begins.
CD #2 – Tracks of Note:
Is there a “second disc” prejudice out there? Think back to your double disc sets in your CD collection. Do you have a preference for the first disc over the second? It can happen to anyone. Typically, some of the bigger hits are on the first disc and the rougher, less popular kids are relinquished to disc number two. Much can be said for those number two discs however. Many times, these cuts have a bit more personality. The kind of personality you only get by taking risks and stepping outside the musical box. Much of these things can be said about The Light At the End of the Tunnel’s second offering. In many of these tracks, you can hear the foundation and subsequent evolution of the band and their sound. The second disc is the perfect complement to the genius of the first.
Track 1: “Ignite” 1982
Straight forward rock and roll—catchy!
Track 2: “Help” 1977
Fun, punk-y remake of The Beatles classic tune.
Track 4: “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” 1979
A prophetic look at mass societal depression and its underlying fears. It is catchy, and it has everything that is good and right in rock and roll.
I just can’t be happy today
I just can’t be happy today
They’re closing the schools
They’re burning the books
The church is in ruins
The priests hang on hooks
The radios on ice
The telly’s been banned
The army’s in power
The devil commands
Illegal to dance forbidden to cry
You do what you’re told and never ask why
Ignore all those fools
They don’t understand we make our own rules
Track 5: “Problem Child” 1977
An adolescent delight. Had I heard this when I was but a young Smear, I would have shit my knickers.
Track 6: “Nasty” 1984
This track has one of my favorite lyrically implied visuals: “I fell in love with a video nasty!” It makes me want to break out my Bedazzler and make my very own “Video Nasty” t-shirt!
Track #7: “Disco Man” 1981
Warm and fast-paced, this ditty is dedicated to the disco-era.
Track #8: “New Rose” 1976
1976’s debut single—it is a hard-driving masterpiece. Taken off the album Damned, Damned, Damned, the initial vinyl 7” single release was backed with their cover of The Beatles, “Help!” This is also the only Damned album to feature the original line-up.
Track 12: “In Dulce Decorum” 1986
A superb anti-war song with a classic Damned sound.
To say in God we trust not for this
Oh the death and glory boys not for this
Where I walk where I see
The haunting flares where my friends bleed
I see the face of the enemy
Of a man or boy who is just like me
Now you’re not there
All the tears we bled
Cut through like winters rain
Can’t you feel the pain
And if I could ever sleep again
I know till the end of time I’d hear
Their screams of pain
Dulce dulce decorum
Track 14: “Eloise” 1986
A hit for The Damned in 1986, it gave the band its biggest bestseller, hitting the UK’s #3 slot on the charts in February of that year. Although the band is spinning toward their demise, it’s a remarkable achievement for a band with so many incarnations.
I hope this review has convinced those who aren’t familiar with The Damned to pick up this anthology and give it a listen. For those of you who are familiar, I hope this review has inspired you to don that black cape, paint a skunk stripe in your hair, and turn it up! The Damned has left a legacy of great punk songs that have not only shed a light on society’s dark shadows but also cast a glimmer of hope for better days ahead.No tunes on this anthology rated under 3 smears. Almost every tune rates anywhere from 4 to 5 smears. Overall, The Damned’s The Light at the End of the Tunnel rates a 5 out of 5 papsmears.