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DZTN 1980

Ode to a Dead Earth

(1859 Records/Different Kitchen Records [UK])

Our poor, ravaged planet earns a righteous defender in the prolific Dustin Herron (ex-Abolitionist), who tackles all instrumental duties in his third release this year, a locked-tight j’accuse against often-monied forces that have decimated nature, destroyed habitats, and reduced our forests to scorched, embattled land. The issue has informed plenty of creative work over the last 40-plus years but seems more urgent in the aftermath of the destructive Paradise, California, conflagration in 2018 or Oregon’s hungry, engulfing Milepost 97 blaze last summer, which devoured more than 13,000 acres. The music pulls Herron’s foundational bass work to the forefront, imbuing Ode to a Dead Earth with a dark, postpunk pulse reminiscent of the best early -’80s survivors of the New Wave purge, as his guitars soar, roar, rage, and tear at the edges (the drums are programmed). Herron’s disgust is palpable from opener “Wake Up & Choke,” an eviscerating damnation of wringing profit from destruction (“200 years was all it took to upset the balance there had been in the landscape, soon to be burned beyond recognition”), to closer “Dead Earth,” which asks, “Our legacy, what will it be?” and offers an answer enveloped in both doom and a positivity informed by our planet’s resilience despite our mortal tendency toward self-destructive ecological terror. In between live songs of corporate intrusion (the chopping “It’s Never Their Fault,” “Why Can’t They Admit They Fucked Up?,” “Cut & Run”), rapidly vanishing species (“Wild,” “Cougars & Bears”), and a culture that accepted this madness (“Bad Mentality,” “Left Behind, Holding the Trash”). Food for contemplation in a 20-minute burst, easily digestible and vital to hear. (cf)

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Yob

Pickathon 2019: Live from the Galaxy Barn

 

When Eugene’s Yob made its Pickathon debut last year, it blew the fucking woods out of Happy Valley. This set represents the first of two searing showcases at the Galaxy Barn, culling a pair of volcanic burners from the masterful The Great Cessation (2009) and two cuts from opposing ends of the trio’s discography. Only four tracks in all, but these epic lurchers eclipse 10 minutes apiece, and Yob has always been an exquisite onstage wrecking crew. (I watched them devastate an Albany bar a million years ago; that place has been unsalvageable ever since.) “Marrow,” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014), crawls with hypnotic menace for about the length of a single, then crumbles into an unrelenting squall propelled by frontman Mike Scheidt’s unholy pipes and guitar for the bulk of a furious 19 minutes. Closer “Burning the Altar” (Cessation) rattles the white off your enamel as drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg thrashes your bones to chalk dust; consult your chiropractor before ingesting. "Holy shit!" cries the stage announcer at the conclusion. He ain't lyin'. Proceeds from the release benefit the Navajo Nation Covid Relief Fund. (cf)

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ILS

Curse

(Self-released)

There may be something to the title. I yanked this album from Bandcamp, sprayed it into my cellphone’s headset, and hauled it out for an afternoon walk. Five minutes on foot and my neighboring Lhasa Apso, Toby the Hat, became so enraged he ripped through his backyard fence and leapt for my neck, tearing into my larynx, his jaws snapping in rapturous sync to Tom Glose’s vocals on “Bad Parts” (there are no bad parts, really), a thrumming opener with drummer Tim Steiner hammering for entrance and guitarist Nate Abner buzz-sawing the vault door to sawdust. Glose channels Bo Diddley on the title track, bellowing “I got 75 pounds of barbed wire,” but that’s where Bo stops and the wrecking crew commences, detonating into a ragged, bellicose primal scream. By then I recalled reading somewhere on Google that small dogs mustn’t develop a taste for human viscera lest they begin hunting man for sport, so I battled back with pounding fists in rhythm with Adam Pike’s dragging bass and Abner’s siren plods on “Don’t Hurt Me.” ’Twas a valiant struggle, oh, my brothers, with the mini-demon’s teeth boring into my aged flesh with murderous zeal. “No Luck” hurt like hell so nice, I surrendered my body to the mutt gods of the universe, and they came, carnivorous pugs and poodles to feast upon my “Whitemeat”-fueled entrails as rock and roll burrowed rapturously into my emptying shell. My final words: “Holy fuck” over the grinding squall of “It’s Not Lard, But It’s a Cyst.” This is stoner rock with homicidal intent. As I perished, I admired their — ILS’, not the dogs’— pounding assault on my fading senses, producing an ever-present, ever-growing urgency beyond human endurance. I thought the slow churning prelude to “For the Shame I Bring” would offer the release I had long sought, but no: ILS rained fire from its heavens, burning our forms in Last Supper effigy, leaving only a mass of quivering ash and hungry plumes of acrid smoke. Not how I planned to waste a Saturday afternoon, but what a way to go. (cf)

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Bee Appleseed

My Evolution on Display, Vol. 1

(Godyssey Music)

Shellacked during the ex-Corvallisite’s European occupation in the 2010s, My Evolution on Display tracks Bee Appleseed’s (he was the prolific Brian Smith to us) artistic development abroad, before he returned stateside to woo Southern Californian audiences. Gone are the DIY packaging elements — hand-drawn covers and hand-folded sleeves — and sonically, he abandoned the spartan arrangements long ago for a fuller dreamscape to accommodate his muse. His productions, despite their international origins, breathe Benedict Canyon air; the gorgeous “Who Do You Want Me to Be?” soundtracks an alternate psychedelic 1967 where the sun steadfastly refuses to set. “Get Outta Here” waltzes atop a whimsy-laden calliope into situations familiar to anyone looking for a way out (“The cops never taught us nothing but what to fear”). Later, Smith finds himself wandering the Portuguese city of Castelo Branco and tingling the edges of “Beginning/Introductions” with international-inspired guitar tones. The EP concludes with another sunstroke-pop Californian lope, Appleseed’s voice reminiscent of Them-era Van Morrison, in “Nothing Makes Me Feel More at Home Than You Do,” a natural au revoir and signpost of his Best Coast future. Knowing Bee, expect about 22 more installments, in addition to his full LPs. (cf)