In the words of legendary Onion columnist Jim Anchower, "Hola amigos. I know it's been a long time since I rapped at 'ya ..." The records haven't stopped spinning around the Vinyl Cave, but the time to write about them has been short recently. Let’s start getting caught up!
Nobunny: Secret Songs: Reflections from the Ear Mirror
Combine several containers of Pixy Stix and Pop Rocks, two cases of beer, uncomfortably long hugs, old school rocknroll songwriting and a sweaty rabbit mask, and you'll get the one and only Nobunny. Justin Champlin's alter ego returns with a set of new songs mining punk 'n' pop of the past. More so than on past albums, Secret Songs really ping-pongs between genres, from bubblegum ("Bye Bye Roxie"), to semi-shambling mumble-y mid-fi ("Trouble in Mind"), to angry noise skronk ("It's Pathetic"), to high-energy power pop ("Lizard Liars"), to the weirdest talking blues ever ("Do the Stooge"), to an AC/DC pastiche ("Little Bo Bitch") ... I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Secret Songs was also recorded by various people in various places.
That's a long way of saying this record is all over the place; it's sort of like a guided tour through Nobunny's influences, one-man band style. Champlin performed nearly everything on the album himself. The press one-sheet perhaps describes it best: "Like having a garbage bin of awesomeness being dumped on yr head."
The scattered nature of the album makes for a somewhat confusing first listen, but after a few spins it really starts to come together as a Nobunny album rather than a mixtape of leftover 45s from the cutout bin. Increasing the confusion (particularly for DJs spinning this) is the fact that the song titles are all completely out of order on the LP labels. Madison fans can catch some Secret Songs live during a show at the Frequency on Monday, Nov. 11; New Years Gang kicks it off at 9 p.m. (Goner Records 85GONE, 2013; includes download)
A pair of Chicago bands take the vinyl plunge with a DIY 12-inch split EP, featuring three songs apiece. Pamphleteers are a trio that includes a member each from past Madison visitors The Dials, The Returnables and Telenovela. Their three songs feature the instantly recognizable lead vocals of Dials' singer/bassist Rebecca Crawford, but in Pamphleteers her sound is placed in more of a no-wave context, with a psychedelic twinge at times. You can listen to lead-off track "Ghost That Follows" via Chicago Mix Tape, and more tracks at their Bandcamp page.
Blasted Diplomats hold down the reverse with some energetically smeared guitar rock, resurrecting some studio tracks cut live with two mics in 2011. The quartet has a full-length on the way from Blvd Records. The split EP can be found locally at MadCity Music Exchange. (Self-released, 2013)
This family affair recently wandered into the office under its own power, and made its way to my desk. The Ritchies are former Violent Femmes bassist Brian and his son Silas; Teenage Strangler is a Minneapolis band led by Brian's nephew Dylan Ritchie. Beyond the family connection, though, the two sides of this disc couldn't be much more different. Silas and Brian's side is the third installment of their Tea Time series, an intriguing experiment mixing traditional Japanese musical structures with electronic music into a sort of avant garde bouillabaisse. Teenage Strangler is a fairly straightforward punk project, falling somewhere between pop- and post-. (After Music Recordings, 2013)