THE GREEN PAJAMAS

Narcotic Kisses and Northern Gothic

(Camera Obscura)

A pair of platters from locally bred, internationally beloved neo-psychedelic combo.

A double dose of

"/>

CD Reviews

THE GREEN PAJAMAS

Narcotic Kisses and Northern Gothic

(Camera Obscura)

A pair of platters from locally bred, internationally beloved neo-psychedelic combo.

A double dose of folk/pop/psych mavens the Green PJs. The former disc is an expanded edition of a vinyl-only, limited-edition rarity comprising odds, sods, and obscure and unreleased archival material, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into the diverse mind and restless heart of PJ main man Jeff Kelly. In fact, one of the group's greatest tunes, previously tucked away on a U.K. compilation, finally gets a proper airing; "Deadly Nightshade" answers the question, "What if Leonard Cohen had been a member of the Hollies?" and throws in a few cool harpsichord and backward guitar licks to boot. The latter disc is made up of all-new studio material that finds multi-instrumentalist Kelly and the other current members (including secret weapon, guitar/vocalist Laura Weller) charting a distinctive path that's at times atmospheric and moody in a Walkabouts/Tindersticks fashion, at others straightforwardly poppy—some serious Beatles worship going on—and at still others bearing the scent of the Paisley Underground of yore. Picks to click: "In the Darkness," whose shimmery, folk-rock throb brings to mind another "darkness" number, namely the Youngbloods' "Darkness Darkness"; the tragic-magic, Neil Youngian slow burn of "First Love"; and a wonderful slice of alt-country, "The Cruel Night," which has enough of a spooky Buddy & Julie Miller vibe to qualify it for airplay on the No Depression radio show. One of America's greatest indie outfits, the Pajamas hail from the great Pacific Northwest but to date seem appreciated mainly by the British and the Australians (Camera Obscura is an Aussie label, in fact). That, gentle readers, could all change—with your input. FRED MILLS

BUTTHOLE SURFERS

Butthole Surfers + PCPPEP

(Latino Bugger Veil)

Revisiting the pretty, ugly years.

I spent most of my teenage years with one ear pressed up against the wall that separated my big brother's room from mine. Strangely enough, in all that time, I thought of the Butthole Surfers (along with groups like the Meat Puppets and the Violent Femmes) as a band that made hauntingly beautiful music; I was a selective listener, and all their sleazy humor was totally lost on me at the time. Nevertheless, their Southern psychedelia made me feel all the things my 13-year-old heart wanted to feel: separate, strange, and sad. Though it's clear to me now that I wanted to hear the songs that way—and certainly I focused on tracks like the churning, echoey "Hey" ("I'm not fit to/fall in love") and the weirdo whisperings and skip/ stagger heartbeat bass of "Bar-B-Que" rather than the screamed rants about taking a good, hard dump—relearning the songs on this collection leaves me, more or less, in the same frame of mind. This shit is beautiful. Screamed, sung, and strung-out on Reaganomics, the Stick Men, and various other substances, the tracks on the Surfers' oddly melodic debut mini-LP and the live EP that followed carved out a psychotic rubber stamp that would be widely imitated in the "alternative" scene for years to come. This reissue includes both records plus four "bonus tracks," but truth be told, the latter aren't much of a windfall. If you have the vinyl, by all means, dig it out. If not, buy this disc. I'm sure we could all use the refresher course. LAURA CASSIDY

NO TREND

Trintonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex

(Touch and Go)

"Are you stupid/Or are you dumb?"

Blame it on the re-emergence of the Republicans, but lately I've been pretty obsessed with '80s-era American punk bands and their propensity to say (or scream) whatever the hell they wanted to, and to do it so goddamn well as to make it last for 20 years. Is there a band today that can pull off the kind of nursery rhymed anti-everything sarcasm that bled all over songs by Flipper, Stick Men with Ray Guns, and No Trend? Is there? And can those bands make their instruments sound like the rifle attacks of unschooled soldiers, and can they stir in saxophones and trumpets and still sound tough? Well, can they? Though not as hard-hitting, unrepentant, and mind-numbingly acerbic as When Death Won't Solve Your Problems (also from 1986), this rerelease from Washington, D.C.'s hysterically hardcore hellions serves as a reminder that the protest song doesn't have to be sung by a folkie with an acoustic guitar. Lyrics like "Beat your children in the supermarket aisles" are spit forth with screeched irritation while the musical backdrop thumps, tweaks, and sours like a rat-race smoking lounge. Everywhere on the record, accusations fly (check the lines "Hey flip flop man/Your mustache says it all/Wine Cooler/New Age music/You are the trend/You are the disease," or the equally cutting but simplified sting of "Your children want to kill you" and "You deserve your life"), but it's the unanswered questions that I like best ("What would we do if things weren't this exciting?"). Nobody's saying much of anything these days, and they sure aren't saying anything this cool. LAURA CASSIDY

 
comments powered by Disqus