Thursday, July 10, 2014

Just another Greg Ginn PoSST

One would have to figure that Greg Ginn is feeling pretty good these days. His reconstituted Black Flag seems to have survived 2013's assault from the legion of former Compadres in Crawl and the very public drama of Ron Reyes's exit. Disaster Amnesiac cannot make an informed judgement on Flag's new rhythm section and the singing of Mike Vallely, on account of herniated disc. My ticket sat unclaimed at the New Parish box office as I essentially could not get out of bed in May, when Black Flag's 2014 tour rolled into the Bay Area, without experiencing real physical agony. Thankfully for this listener, SST has released new sounds from Ginn's musical mind, and as Disaster Amnesiac's back continues to heal, it's quite a bit easier to walk over to the stereo and press play.

Hor-Can't Make It Up; SST Records, 2014
It's not shocking to say that Greg has been a man of multiple voices for some time now. Since the early 1990's, SST has focused pretty much exclusively on the myriad bands and projects that he dreams up and throws down onto tape at Casa Destroy. Disaster Amnesiac recalls Mark Prindle's excellent interview with Ginn, in which the later defined Hor as more of an Electronica influenced band, and I can hear that. Big, melodic keyboard riffs are laid down over Greg's rubbery, sometimes fuzzy bass lines. The tunes move along these currents while that characteristic skewed six string melodic sound then oozes and flies off of his fingers and into your ears. Can't Make It Up is definitely made up of layers of this action. In this sense, the Electronica comparison rings very true; put on headphones while you listen to it, and marvel at the intensity and multiplicity of lines emanating from the melodic instruments utilized. Additionally, one can really hear some of Greg's best guitar playing on this disc. He just continues to develop his technique, and the payoff is SOUND.
Drummer Sean Hutchinson pushes the jams with absolute steadiness and creativity. No more can SST detractors use the "drum machine" canard against its bands. His sounds are live, and lively, bumping along with discipline and funky, syncopated flair. Disaster Amnesiac imagines a really bright future for Hutchinson's music career. Top notch drumming here.
Can't Make It Up is stately instrumental cruise into Ginn's more colorful Psychedelic Jam Band side. Get in the (Volkswagen) Van!

Good For You-Fucked Up b/w Steam Roller; SST Records, 2013
As opposed to the blissful stylings of Hor, Good for You pushes a heavy Punk Rock/Hardcore Punk feel with their sounds. Co-conspirators Mike Vallely and Greg Ginn stomp out a funk injected jumper on the title track of this 7", while drummer Mike Shear grooves along mightily. Disaster Amnesiac would compare Fucked Up to Black Flag angst anthems on the Damaged LP, as it most definitely drips with the energy of adrenalized anger so evident on that one. Of course, Greg's guitar sounds cutting and great within the caterwaul. Vallely's clearly feeling the darkened emotions deeply. Good for You seems to feature the venting of frustration a lot, and he does a fine job channeling it with his vocal delivery. On the flip, Steamroller's double time guitar riffing blasts away atop Matthew Cortez's energetic pounding. This one's a real headbanger, as the lyrics lay waste to the (always, it seems) fading American Dream and its human wreckage. Disaster Amnesiac hears Greg's guitar solo and feels proud of my country, though. And to think, I'm currently "between jobs"! The tune also features a nicely integrated theremin noise blast! I feel like any discerning Punk Rock fan would be fine shelving this one next to their 7" copy of Nervous Breakdown or Paranoid Time. A classic, short rip from SST.

Disaster Amnesiac is beginning to wonder if and when Black Flag will record and release new tunes with their new (improved?) lineup. It seems likely, given Greg's penchant for constant development from all of his bands/projects. Until that time, I'll be digging these two SST releases. Perhaps, when I find permanent employment again, I'll splurge and buy a new SST coffee mug for my new cube/desk/cell. Hopefully that time, along with the release of said new Flag LP, will arrive sooner rather than later. 


russ said...

Thanks for the HOR review, just realized that came out. Did you also hear the Taylor Texas Corrugators release that came out this year? Besides your review, I haven't been able to find any info on these 2 releases.

I just saw the Victimology tour 2 nights ago, and it was excellent. Might as well put up a review here. Cinema Cinema opened, heavy 2-man guitar/drums lineup - reminded of Melvins at times, though the vocals were a bit over the top (almost nu-metal at times) - but there was lots of long instrumental portions. Haven't heard any studio output, but I'd imagine it'd sound like something SST would've done in 1989.

Royal We was up next - performed the "Fearless Leaders" LP in its entirety. Really liked that LP so was happy with the set. Ginn using a Macbook, theremin, some kind of pad (you can see it in the Coachella video) and guitar of course. Also a pretty big TV with all sorts of bizarre images synced to the music.

Black Flag changed a lot since the 2013 tour, which I think you reviewed and I saw it and had a good time. One thing I must say, that's not exactly positive - Ginn really seems to be trying to please the crowd this time around. 2013 featured plenty of early pre-Rollins stuff, and so did this tour. Whereas in '13, the songs seemed slower and pretty off-kilter (either by design or by fault of the rhythm section). This time around they were all played faithfully - the young rhythm section has a lot of energy and really tore into this stuff. Vallely fills the singer role fine. Nothing off of "What The..." - but a few extra tunes from the post-Damaged era in their place, plus a couple Good For You songs. Forget which songs, but a couple evolved into VERY long jams (~ 10 minutes) which was cool (I loved the jams on "Down In The Dirt" and "Can't Decide" last year. Very minimal use of the theremin this time around. The band announced they had one last song , and the bassist and Ginn switched instruments and launched into "Louie Louie" - after that I thought they were just going to some sort of jam, but they played one more song which I didn't recognize at all. Total set time was around 1 hr 45 minutes! Sadly, less than 100 people in attendance

Mark Pino On Drums said...

Thanks for the review, Russ! I was sad to miss Black Flag, hopefully they'll be back west.
I have yet to hear the Corrugators CD, but hope to hear it soon.
Maybe that last tune was a new one? I look forward to hearing a new LP!
Cheers, Russ!

russ said...

Yeah hopefully you get a chance to see em, your blog (and Pig State Recon) is about the only Ginn-friendly blogs out there! They sure are touring hard - think they started end of May, and got shows through the end of August! If you enjoyed the last tour, I think you'll dig this one was well, I'd say it was better overall.

Last song must've been a new one, unless it was a cover I didn't recognize - I'm sure a new LP will materialize sometime - I'm hoping they'll record as a full band this time around...everyone in the band seemed very upbeat and energetic, despite the small turnout.

Mark Pino On Drums said...

I admire Greg's creative output, for sure.

russ said...

I hope this doesn't come off spammy but I wrote a long article about "What The..." and Ginn's 2013 activities for the Terminal Boredom zine. Seems like something you might enjoy. Gonna go back and listen to "Thank You" after reading your review, liked that LP, but not nearly as much as you seem to! Have you heard Neil's triple live LP with the Howling Hex? Some SERIOUS guitar workouts on that.

link for zine -

russ said...

and a link to stream that Hagerty 3LP -

Mark Pino On Drums said...

Russ-I just read your comments from last year! Hopefully you enjoyed Thank You when you revisited it! I will certainly check out the X3 live w/ Howling Hex! Thanks!