The Locke Nest (January 2020)

Shitlord Fuckerman – Music Is Over! (Self-Released)

Vancouver’s one-person DEVO deconstructionist Shitlord Fuckerman makes a bold statement on their latest release. Of course, Gil Goletski has never been one to half-ass anything, from their animated creations to their powerhouse drumming in prog-rock goofballs YEP to the absurdist spectacle that is a Shitlord Fuckerman live show. These warped electronic pop songs match their IRL performances in unbridled energy, careening from one idea to the next. “Patrick Cowley (In Agony)” pogos like a Mr. Oizo flatbeat with vocoder. “Big Eden” struts like a hulking robotic beast, asking listeners to “wipe me up with a sponge” before exploding into a blizzard of chiptune. The seven-minute outerterrestrial ambience of “Vacation of the Mind (Green Blue Green)” vaguely resembles Craig Leon’s Nommos with a swooning mellotron outro. Pay for a download and you’ll even get three bonus covers plus a modern day mashterpiece. Whether music is truly over, Shitlord Fuckerman hopefully points to whatever’s coming up next.

Jeff Parker – Suite For Max Brown (International Anthem/Nonesuch)

Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker continues to shape the sound of contemporary jazz through his work with the Chicago Underground Quartet, Joshua Abrams, Makaya McCraven, and a series of excellent solo albums. Suite For Max Brown injects his compositions with head-nodder drum loops and woozy hip-hop production techniques. Like his stunning 2016 cover of Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids”, here Parker takes on John Coltrane’s “After The Rain” and Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” (retitled “Gnarciss”), breathing vibrant new life into these classics. To learn more, listen to his enlightening interview on Aquarium Drunkard’s Transmissions podcast.

16kbp Future Nostalgia – 16kbp Future Nostalgia (Self-Released)

Montreal-based experimentalist Anthony Hansen provided an artist statement for this project, so I’ll let his words be the introduction: “I figure we’re right on the cusp of cassette nostalgia giving way to low-grade mp3 nostalgia, so I’m getting in on the ground floor. This is 16kbp Future Nostalgia, the worst-sounding ambient album ever made.” If his intention was a new form of shit-fi, the 2020 reboot is a lot easier on the ears. These bleary tone-floats, melancholy melodies, and occasional blasts of fractured beats simulate the experience of reading Tiny Mix Tapes at 3 a.m. while listening to low-res downloads of Stars of the Lid. In other words, a perfect vibe.

Water From Your Eyes – Somebody Else’s Song (Exploding In Sound)

Water From Your Eyes’ Rachel Brown and Nate Amos bounce freely between sounds on this infectious eight-song set. The New York duo pull the rug out from listeners’ feet right off the top with the pastoral acoustic fingerpicking of the title track leading into nearly 10 minutes of icy drum machine pummel on “Break.” Yet even at their most experimental, like the 57-second lo-fi a cappella “Look” or its reprise “Look Again”, there’s a beguiling sweetness to Water From Your Eyes’ music. They return to their folky side on “This Is Slow” before reworking the title track into a sleek electronic beatscape on “Bad In The Sun.” Best, catchiest, and most singular of all is “Adeleine,” a slinky new wave tune with the duo depicted as puppets in its charming video. If this album seeped through the cracks when it was released last October (like it did for me), don’t overlook it any longer.

Martin Verrall – Yesterday’s Tomorrow (Self-Released)

Former Simply Saucer drummer Joseph Csontos shepherded this album into being after hearing cult Hamilton musician Martin Verrall sing his heartbreaking ode to Teenage Head frontman Frankie Venom. Followers of Steeltown’s musical history will know how fiercely revered the punk singer is among locals, with a street corner dedicated to his name and sadly nixed plans to construct a statue. “Frankie Blue” is a gorgeously melancholy tribute from the gravel-voiced singer with a look that can only be compared to Old Rottenhat. While Csontos draws parallels in the album’s liner notes to Lou Reed’s epics “Berlin” or “Street Hassle”, it sounds closer to my ears like Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” unfolding with the drama of “Rock and Roll Suicide.” The love for Frankie is clear in Verrall’s voice with his warts-and-all biographical lyrics: “And the days of excess, the lines on your face/Wanting obscure fame for the boys and girls/And it’s dangerous to talk when ears are near too/And you worry ‘bout the damage you’ve done and will do.” The fact that Csontos managed to wrangle Teenage Head’s own Gord Lewis on guitar for its recording session, alongside horns, flute, and a choir of singers makes this sonic homage even more divine. In very Saucer-like fashion, side two of Yesterday’s Tomorrow includes an unearthed set of basement fidelity recordings from Verrall’s first band Urban Sprawl dating back 30 years. The VU worship continues on these jangling, tuneful songs packed with Hamilton grit, a wonderful discovery in their own right.

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