About Us

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 tickleyourtaint@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 25, 2012

King’s X, Burning Down Boston: Live at The Channel 6.12.91 (Molken Music, 2012)

By Scott

I'm not generally one for live albums, especially from rock or metal bands that don't change up their material much in a live setting. I'd rather stay at home with a studio album or see the band live, in person. And I can rarely justify buying a live album by a band I know over a studio album, whether it's another album by that band or someone else entirely. There's just too much shit out there. 

I've made some exceptions, of course, one being the album Live All Over the Place by King's X. I'm not sure why -- I think I was just on a big King's X kick, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. King's X is an interesting band, certainly among my favorites. (I still remember the first time I heard of them, watching the VH1 program counting down the best 100 hard rock bands, or some such bullshit, and hearing all these musicians talk about what an underappreciated but fantastic band they are. The music sounded cool enough, but a brief clip from the song "Pretend" -- after the solo, around 3:09, when everything cuts out but the drums and some reverby, harmonized vocalizing -- caught my attention, and got stuck in my head immediately. I decided I needed to know about this band, and got the fantastic album Gretchen Goes to Nebraska shortly after.) 

King's X gets lumped in with other progressive rock bands, but their sound is much leaner and groovier than some of their noodling, wanky contemporaries. (They're really more like a progressive variation on alternative rock -- whatever that means.) To me, they have more in common with bands like Living Colour and Faith No More, and maybe later Rush. Like Rush, King's X is a power trio that draws on the unique sound of each member: Doug Pinnick's gospel-inflected vocals and heavy, groovy bass lines; Ty Tabor's airy (sometimes nasally) vocals, unusual chords and riff formations, and virtuosic but lyrical solos; Jerry Gaskill's rock-solid, always-appropriate drumming. Then there are the three-part harmonies, Beatles-style, that lend the songs a beautiful shimmer to complement the heaviness. 

The interesting part about King's X, though, is how their lyrics have changed thematically. At first, you could probably call them a Christian rock band (although they never really embraced that label), kind of in the way that you could call early U2 a Christian band. The Christian imagery and themes are pretty obvious on the first few albums. But over the years, the lyrics became darker, more self-reflective, and began to convey a feeling of turmoil -- a crisis of faith, at least on the part of Doug Pinnick, who ended up renouncing his beliefs and, to the surprise of many fans (and, it should be said, horror of their more bigoted, religious fans), came out as a gay man. This aspect of the band really deserves its own essay, but suffice it to say that the lyrics of King's X are rich and often moving in a way that many other bands can't touch (even if, like me, you don't have much patience for the religious message of their earlier stuff.) 

I enjoyed Live All Over the Place, especially for a few extended songs and Doug's stage banter, brief sermon-like bits about being true to yourself, that sort of thing. But as tight as they are live, their sound, with all its harmonies and great guitar and bass tones, is just better suited to a studio recording. I didn't think it was likely that I'd pick up a second live album by King's X.

But Burning Down Boston: Live at The Channel 6.12.91 was released under special circumstances. Not long ago, Jerry Gaskill suffered a near-fatal heart attack, and, at the time of this writing (to my knowledge), is still in the hospital recovering. And despite the fact that we live in a society capable of producing more wealth and abundance than ever before in human history, a medical tragedy like this still ends up being extremely expensive for the victim, even if they have insurance (which Gaskill does). So the band decided to release Burning Down Boston as a download only, with all proceeds going towards Gaskill's medical bills.

As an album, it's pretty cool, and the kind of thing most King's X fans would enjoy. By '91 the band had released three stellar albums, and the set draws on all of them (although I wish there was more from Gretchen). Over time Pinnick's vocals have become deeper, but here a younger Doug is wailing away like a motherfucker, with a good dose of reverb. The rest of the band is in top form, and I can't even imagine what it would have been like to wander into this club in '91 and stumble upon King's X. But you can kind of imagine what it would have sounded like, because this album was recorded from the soundboard and has something of a bootleg quality. It's a little raw, but that's ok. Like any good power trio, King's X produces a sound that seems to be more than the sum of three dudes playing, and you can't help but marvel at the band's power through the course of the album. It rocks, and it makes me jealous that I was too young to see King's X during this era (although I've seen them a few times since, and while they sound a little older and mellower than the band recorded here, they're nothing if not tighter and more accomplished players). 

So King's X is the rare band of which I own not one but two live albums. In all honesty, I probably wouldn't have picked up Burning Down Boston if it wasn't for the circumstances surrounding the album and the chance to give some direct support to Jerry Gaskill. But I'm glad I did, and I've found myself going back to this album more often than expected. In the end, though, every King's X fan with the money to spare should download the album in solidarity with Jerry -- and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Even if you don't know the band, this might be a good place to start. You can download Burning Down Boston here: http://molkenmusic.com/store/shop/details.php?id=50

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Arab on Radar

Three One G Records

Review by Dave

So, I’m just getting back to work after being unemployed for a period of four months. I think one of the most awful, alienating experiences in modern life is being isolated from friends and family - simply by not having money to participate in social/leisure activities or the commodified, meaningless rituals substitute for social interaction (movies, tv, shopping, dating). Isolation through purely economic means is one of the most infuriating experiences one can go through, and I haven’t met anyone who has gone through that experience for any length of time without it effecting their personality and outlook on life. Why do I bring these things up? These days, when I feel trapped by the politically twisted, selfish, short sighted environment other people would call the modern office, I like to jump on the computer and dig up performance footage of Arab on Radar and blast their viscous no-wave antics for a good hour or two to cleanse myself of eight plus hours of middle American mediocrity.

I’m not going to review any specific album by these guys, because I don’t own any. Like any proper no-wave band, Arab on Radar’s sound is about as pleasant as listening to fornicating cats being repeatedly tasered. When I’m having one of those days where burning down a business park seems like a reasonable option, and I think Stalin might have been right, I break out Arab on Radar. Take the musical concepts put forward by Captain Beefheart, the Butthole Surfers, Flipper and the more jagged concepts that Sonic Youth came up with, combine them with the anarchic fury of classic Black Flag and you have Arab on Radar. If you have heard any releases put out by the label Three One G you will have a pretty good idea of the basic vibe this band works with. I always visualize some high school chemistry nerds getting a hold of mushrooms and a sizable amount of black powder for the first time, on the same day.            

To put the sound of Arab on Radar in words is pretty rough. I’m impressed by the fact the two guitarists in AOR are able to make their instruments sound like a wide array of industrial machinery in the process of breaking down; they rarely sound like guitars. The drummer furiously propels the mayhem along with relentless, very stiff, disco/d-beats. The whining, caterwaul of the vocalist tops off this sonic dementia sundae with such heart-warming lyrics as, “hunting size madness for a death certificate/i am punished by her sober etiquette/pill poppers seek salvation in spectator sports”

While the sound of Arab on Radar is very challenging, it isn’t really new. The basics of their deconstructionist musical ideas can be traced back to Schonberg and serial music, John Cage, Captain Beefheart, the late seventies New York bands like DNA, Flipper, early Butthole Surfers and other Three1G bands like the Locust, the Blood Brothers, ect. All these artists have operated with a revolutionary mindset. They aren’t happy with working with the classically accepted norms set by the larger culture they live in, and without someone pushing the outer limits of any art form it will begin to stagnate and loose relevance.

So how is AOR relevant? I think their sound speaks to people who have been alienated by the mass media glut ideals of consumerism and ass-backward prioritization of form over content. I think of the people I’ve worked with in humble customer service positions who are too fat, have crossed eyes, thick glasses, extreme allergies, chronic skin problems and have otherwise been told in their formative years they will always be losers because they would never be presentable on an episode of “Friends”. Don’t expect to get a decent job, travel or have the finer things in life. Sorry bro you don’t have the pizazz to network with the frat assholes and develop into proper American corporate sleazeball; (A. or pathetic syncophant; (B. Welcome to World of Warcraft, your real life ends here! The fine gentlemen in Arab on Radar make a pretty awesome attack on the idealized phony America. They revel in the strange, embarrasing and awkward. They also do the best job of lampooning the classic rock/metal “bad ass rebel” ideal of any band I have ever seen.      

Sometimes when I have to hear some phony suite- and -tie drone rattle off some corporate noise, I pretend they are singing AOR lyrics. It’s much more entertaining, and the day becomes much more stress free. For example, I imagine middle management troll #1 belting out at the beginning of a meeting, “Sometimes, i just gotta jerk off/my heart is a horseplay lawyer/my mind is a muffler!”

To conclude, I always hate it when people try to say the best albums were written twenty years ago and that there is nothing new to be done with rock ‘n roll. The possibilities are as open as the frequency spectrum of 18,000 htz and the imagination. I then generally blast those people with something truly avant garde , AOR being one of my favored options. Check out the link to the video below if yeee dare!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

GG Allin - Freaks, Faggots, Drunks, & Junkies (Awareness Records, 1991)

By Class Warrior

I purchased this album almost twenty years ago. I remember the day I bought it - my brother came to Spokane to see me during my summer break from college. He intended to "smoke me out," as we described sharing burning cannabis way back then. Between two of our smoking sessions, we paid a visit to one of the local record stores. Back then (the early 1990s) I used to buy a lot of vinyl. I didn't have any punk rock friends, so all my purchases were hit and miss. I bought things based upon reviews in Maximum Rock 'n Roll, mostly. Sometimes they were right about an album, sometimes they were way off. Anyway, I bought this album while at the store. It had a big warning label telling the potential purchaser that it contained scandalous content, and that you shouldn't buy it if you were under eighteen years of age. No problem - I was twenty, I was sorta high, and I had some money. I had wanted to check out GG for some time, so I took it to the counter. The clerk gave me an "are you sure?" look, but she sold it to me. Maybe we listened to it while we got high, but I don't believe we did. My brother is not the GG Allin type, so I probably waited until he left to throw it on the turntable.

GG Allin was in the news right around when I bought this record. If you are not familiar with who this is, you might want to do an internet search. I will skip over his history for the sake of brevity, but I'm sure you will be entertained by his troubling tale. GG always talked about committing suicide on stage, but never did. He waited until he was done performing one fateful night to overdose on heroin. I think this happened in 1993, because I bought the record in the summer of 1994. (Don't ask me how, but I remember where and when I purchased every single record/CD in my collection, up until about 2005. Then I got too busy, I guess...) All the right people hated this guy, so I thought he might be on to something. I put the needle down and waited for the music to start....

Ugh! This sucked so bad! I got that sinking feeling in my stomach I always got (and still do) when I found out I'd thrown away good money on a piece of crap. It was so slow! And when the vocals started - this was the stupidest shit I'd ever heard! It was a collection of the most misogynistic lyrics I'd ever encountered. Throw in songs about drugs, masturbation, less-than-authentic tales of murder, and smelly butts, and it sounded like something a kid would write.

Wait a second...something that a kid would write? That gave me an idea! I bumped up the RPM from 33 to 45...

Hell yeah, it worked! Now, instead of GG and his backing "musicians" sounding like a slow, plodding bar band with an out-of-tune, no-voice dipshit fronting them, they were a fast garage punk group led by the angriest, most misguided, highway-to-hell prepubescent ever recorded! What sounded like the rantings of an idiot on regular turntable speed turned into almost-brilliant preteen invective. This kid is crazy! Hope his parents don't find out about this little project! I continued to listen, entranced by my disturbing discovery.

Probably the biggest highlight was the song "Last in Line for the Gang Bang," an almost unlistenable tune at normal speed. When you turn young GG loose...I can't even imagine a little boy even thinking about such things, let alone singing about them in such a crude fashion. I cannot quote lyrics from this song in good conscience, as this is a Wholesome Family Blog (and I don't want everyone to know that I've heard such things), but I'm sure you can imagine what someone would sing about in a song with this title. Stupidity turns into can't-turn-away shock and hilarity, all with the flick of a switch!

"Sleeping in My Piss" and "Anti Social Masterbator" (sic) are two more tunes that benefited greatly from taking a whip to the drummer and dosing GG's drugs with youth serum. Of course, when a kid sings about napping in his own urine, you might think you have a chronic bed-wetter on your hands. Nope, it's just little GG drinking too much again!

Drink, puke, pass out, I fuckin' do it every night.
I wake up in a pool of piss
Can't control my bladder or my alcohol appetite!

Here's another verse from the same masterpiece:

I drink so much whiskey, it saturates my body.
When I'm falling on the ground, I'm pissing on myself again...

Young GG needs some serious help. This need is evidenced further by the song "Dope Money:"

I'll steal for it
And I'll lie for it
I'll let you suck my cock for it (CW: how generous!)
I'll fuck you up the ass for it (CW: I don't think GG understands how this works...)
Just give me dope, give me dope money
So I can bang it up

If I could turn back time (thank you, Cher), I could warn young GG that he should stay away from the drugs. Then he could have lived on to produce some more female-hating castrato scuzz punk. We would all be, um, richer for this.

This album played at 33 RPM receives 1 punk point. I can almost guarantee you will not like it, nor should you. People love this guy - I don't understand it. If you want to rebel, try being a socialist or an anarchist instead. You'll be much more of a threat that way. Played at the neo-proper 45, however, it gets a full ten punk points on the first listen, then five the next. It eventually settles in at 2 punk points. The novelty wears off after a while, I'm afraid. And the lyrics don't get any smarter when a child sings them instead of a grown man who should know better.

This album makes buying a turntable worth the expense, though.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blyth Power - Alnwick & Tyne (Midnight Music, 1990)


By Class Warrior

I am a fool. A complete and utter fool. I bought a house that is a twenty-minute drive away from where I work. Fine - a lot of people live much farther from their work than that. What's the problem, you ask? First of all, I don't drive to work - I ride the city bus. It takes me an hour and twenty minutes to get from my house to the university where I work. Not only that, but I paid more for the privilege of arranging my life in such a time-sucking way. I could have bought a house a five minute walk from my place of employment for thirty or forty thousand dollars less. To make matters even worse, the house Mrs. Warrior and I bought is depreciating in value. If we tried to sell it now, we would have to conduct a "short sale" - we owe more on the property than it is worth. Then I think about all the fucking maintenance that I need to perform - sand and repaint the decks (yes, I said "decks," as in plural decks - jealous? You shouldn't be - I only get to enjoy them two months out of the year, thanks to snow, wind, and mosquitoes.), replace malfunctioning light fixtures, clean the carpets, replace the hot water heater...the list goes on. Deer are so thick here (almost as thick as the mosquitoes) that I can't grow a garden without surrounding everything with a ten-foot-high fence topped with concertina wire. It's too cold for gardening, anyway - the first frost last year was on SEPTEMBER 15. Fuck. Finally, the job I took does not pay me enough. Student loans and Republican legislatures are eating away at my salary. As a result, in 2011 I ended up paying more out than I took in. This trend continues in 2012, and shows no sign of abatement.

To make matters even worse, on occasion the bus runs late, so I miss my connection in downtown Frozen City. This makes my commute almost two hours when going home, and two and a half hours when I head to work. For those of you familiar with Oregon, I could drive from Eugene to Portland in less time. The latest incident occurred a couple of weeks ago - by the time I got to the Warrior abode, I was shaking with anger. Anger mostly directed at myself.

What a fool.

Every cloud has a silver lining, according to conventional wisdom. Every pile of excrement turns into rich, crumbly compost. (If you let it, that is. Humanure - look into it, you eco-criminal.) On days when I don't need to or don't feel like reading, grading exams, etc. while on the bus, I put on my headphones. The album I've turned to most often in the past year and a half is Blyth Power's Alnwick & Tyne.

For those of you who don't know, Blyth Power is an English band. Joseph Porter, the band founder and only consistent member, is a veteran of the UK peace punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties. He formed Blyth Power in 1983 and has kept it going for almost thirty years. The cast of characters surrounding Joseph's drum kit and microphone has changed radically since they started, but the band keeps cranking out high-quality music. Alnwick & Tyne is, beyond any doubt, their best album.

Their music is difficult to describe or classify into a specific genre. The best I can do is "Blyth Power Rock." They sound like Blyth Power. Not a punk band, not a rock group, not folk, certainly not folk-punk (complete aside: if you are contemplating listening to any band that labels itself "folk-punk," do this instead: run in the opposite direction, but try to smash their record/CD/mp3s under your bootheel with your first fleet step. Remember: smash and run!)...Blyth Power sounds like Blyth Power. There are lots of interesting parts that you would not find in a standard rock or punk album - I will provide more detail on this feature in a bit.

Joseph's lyrics are, quite simply, wonderfully puzzling. They are prose - full of metaphor, English medieval history, anarchy, war, drinking, powdered periwigs, and love of trains. Interesting, thoughtful, thought-provoking lyrics are just fine with me. For the most part, however, I don't know what the hell he's talking about.

Joseph is not the best part of this album - the female backup singers are. What? That's right. Their names are Jamie Hince (of the late 80s British punk band DAN) and Helen Rush. I'll bet you're thinking something along these lines right now: "Female backup singers? How cliche! Is this Prince or something?" You could not be more wrong. This album FALLS APART without the backup singers. They are the backbone. They are the base. They create harmonies with Joseph and each other in such a beautiful way that the songs are taken to the sought-after next level. Good songs become great, great songs are turned into transcendent moments.

The album contains three perfect songs (i.e., the "transcendent moments" mentioned last paragraph). Yes, perfect. I would change nothing about them. Perfect. They are "McArthur" (one of those songs where I have no clue what Joseph just said), "Better to Bat," and the title song. "McArthur" starts with the following lines, sung by Hince and Rush:

As the sun goes down McArthur drives a plow
And the steel-shod hooves of the heavy horses beat
A furrow in his brow
Shredding rosaries he turns the aching clay
McArthur's farce will live to fight...(Joseph) on another day.

Joseph sings an octave higher than usual on this song, and when he trades vocals on and off with Jamie and Helen...oh, wow. It makes my spine tingle every time. This is one of those songs I could listen to over and over...trust me, I have done so. The bus commute is a long one. I've probably heard this song more than a hundred times at this point.

"Better to Bat" (a cricket reference) begins with church bells, then the guitar starts, and in comes Joseph, and...the vocal harmonies begin again...this is just amazing, folks.

Okay, the lyrics to the song "Alnwick & Tyne" make a bit more sense to me. Joseph refers to it as a "bodice ripper," which works well as a description. It's a tale of deceit and treachery in medieval England. Fun stuff, especially for a nerd like me. This is one of the more straight-ahead rockers on the album. There is plenty of power chord riffage here. The highlight of this song (though the whole thing is, as I said earlier, perfect) is the midpoint where the drums stop and the vocal harmonies begin:

How we laughed once and how we sang and how we raised the rafters
God will grant us good sometimes and God will grant disaster
God will bid us time to pass and says manners maketh man
If God will give me one more chance, then I will prove the master.

Hey - if you want to play along on your guitar, piano, digeridoo (no...please, don't), hurdy-gurdy, or whatever instrument you have, Joseph provides the chords on the band's website. You'll have to find your own backup singers.

Most of the other songs are just a step below these three. Some highlights include: a 3/4 waltz breakdown (or is it 6/8? I've been out of junior high band for too long!) and singing of different lyrics at the same time by Joseph and Jamie/Helen on "The Thin Red Line;" the dual guitar solo (hello Iron Maiden!) and pseudo-reggae interlude of "Right Hand Man;" and the heavy-duty guitar hook in "Summer Song." A couple of songs are not quite as good as the rest, but I will leave you to figure out what those are. You will hear no negative words from I.

Alnwick & Tyne is a fantastic slice of Blyth Power Rock. If I make it to England anytime soon, one of my first missions will be to find out when and where Blyth Power are playing, then plan the trip accordingly. I don't think I'll be doing any international travel anytime soon because of my stupid expensive money pit house. And student loans, but let's not discuss that. I am such a fool.

I tickled my taint for nine and a half minutes! Almost a full ten minutes, but, like I said, a couple of songs are not quite as good.