Ter­rell’s Tune Up Steve Ter­rell ex­am­ines new re­leases from a few Mem­phis bands

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - of Dol­lars. Call of the West-era A Fist­ful

In­dulge me in be­la­bor­ing the ob­vi­ous for a mo­ment: Mem­phis, Ten­nessee, is an im­por­tant city in rock ’n’ roll. But that didn’t stop with Elvis, Sun Records, B.B. King, Ru­fus Thomas, Al Green, Stax Records, or Chuck Berry’s un­cle writ­ing mes­sages on the wall. Mem­phis is still an im­por­tant city for rock. For years it’s been home to a vi­brant “un­der­ground” rock scene, thanks largely to Goner Records (the store and the la­bel), an as­so­ci­ated fes­ti­val called Gon­er­fest (com­ing up in late Septem­ber), and bands in­clud­ing The Reatards, The Obli­vians, and all of their off­shoots.

My fa­vorite group to emerge from this Mem­phis stew in re­cent months is Nots, an all-fe­male punk band whose scream­ing new al­bum Cos­metic is a wild de­light. Fronted by singer Natalie Hoffman, this is ba­si­cally a gui­tar group — ex­cept they’ve got a key­board player, Alexan­dra East­burn, whose fear­some syn­the­sized blips, bloops, wiggles, and squig­gles re­mind me of Allen Raven­s­tine, the key­board ma­niac of early Pere Ubu.

This is the most ur­gent-sound­ing mu­sic I’ve heard in a long time. Though it’s not al­ways easy to un­der­stand the lyrics, it’s im­pos­si­ble to es­cape the in­ten­sity of the sound. Drum­mer Char­lotte Wat­son de­serves much of the credit for this. For the first few sec­onds of “Rat King” and “Cold Line,” she al­most sounds like a hopped-up surf-band drum­mer ready to ex­plode.

Nots re­ally stretch out on a cou­ple of tracks on Cos­metic. The five-and-a-half-minute ti­tle song be­gins with what might be de­scribed as a dis­torted blues riff. It starts off slow, but about three min­utes in, the pace sud­denly takes off and be­comes a fren­zied race to the fin­ish. Even bet­ter is the seven-minute clos­ing song “En­ter­tain Me.” In a re­cent in­ter­view with Stere­ogum, Hoffman said the lyrics deal with “the grotesque hor­ror show go­ing on in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and how they are por­trayed — the rise of Trump, the real­ity-TV-like na­ture of Amer­i­can news, the al­most-forced com­pli­ance of the viewer . ... ” In­deed, this is en­ter­tain­ment!

Cos­metic will be avail­able in Septem­ber at www. goner-records.com. Check out the Stere­ogum piece (and lis­ten to “En­ter­tain Me”) at http://tinyurl.com/ Stere­ogumNOTS.

Gøggs by Gøggs. A lot of peo­ple are re­fer­ring to this as Ty Se­gall’s lat­est band, but ac­tu­ally it’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion among Se­gall, Chris Shaw of Ex-Cult — a Mem­phis band of which Nots’ Hoffman was a mem­ber — and Charles Moothart from Fuzz, an­other Se­gall group. Shaw han­dles lead vo­cals — he’s a shouter more than a singer — while Se­gall con­cen­trates on gui­tar, though he and drum­mer Moothart switch in­stru­ments on a few tracks.

It’s hard to tell what you’re go­ing to get with each new re­lease from the pro­lific, rest­less Se­gall — the Stooges-like crazi­ness of Slaugh­ter­house, mel­low in­tro­spec­tion like Sleeper, or the soul-tinged, al­most-poppy fare like Ma­nip­u­la­tor. Gøggs is closer to Slaugh­ter­house, or what­ever Se­gall was up to when he raged at High May­hem in Santa Fe a few years ago. It’s loud, rough, raw, and noisy. And yet it’s a friendly-sound­ing as­sault — it’s the sheer fun Se­gall, Shaw, and Moothart seem to be hav­ing as they pound out these 10 tunes.

High­lights here in­clude the harsh, hard-hit­ting “As­sas­si­nate the Doc­tor” (per­haps in­spired by “Fear­less Doc­tor Killers,” Mud­honey’s protest against “pro-life” vi­o­lence); the riff-heavy garage-punker “Smoke the Wurm”; and “Fi­nal No­tice,” which fea­tures in­sane scream­ing and, like the Nots’ record, is driven by crazy key­boards.

Check out Gøggs at http://inthere­drecords. com/col­lec­tions/goggs. You can stream all the songs from the al­bum at www.spin.com/2016/06/ goggs-de­but-lp-pre­miere-stream.

Swing Cre­mona by Pierre Omer’s Swing Re­view. Omer used to be in a Swiss group called The Dead Broth­ers, who billed them­selves as a “fu­neral band.” And in­deed, there was some­thing spooky and a lit­tle mor­bid about that group. But Omer’s lat­est band is much more up­beat.

This mu­sic is closer in sound to groups like the Squir­rel Nut Zip­pers. They play a lit­tle hot jazz, a lit­tle vaude­ville, a hint of ca­lypso, a whiff of klezmer, and more than a touch of Weimar Repub­lic deca­dence. It’s a four-piece band (gui­tar, stand-up bass, drums, and trum­pet). But it sounds much big­ger than it is.

Prob­a­bly my fa­vorite song here is “In­ter­na­tional Man of Mys­tery,” which makes me wish that Cab Cal­loway would re­turn from the dead to sing in it and that Max Fleis­cher would come back and do a car­toon for it. Omer’s mu­sic spans the globe. He plays a “Rus­sian Lullaby,” goes trop­i­cal with “Co­conut Is­land” — try to lis­ten to this all the way through with­out hear­ing Leon Red­bone singing along — and strips “Misir­lou” of any trace of surf mu­sic, tak­ing the song back to its Mid­dle Eastern roots (the way Dick Dale dis­cov­ered it).

And speak­ing of Max Fleis­cher, the famed an­i­ma­tor did a Betty Boop car­toon of “Mys­te­ri­ous Mose,” which is a vari­a­tion of an­other song on Omer’s al­bum, “Ol’ Man Mose.” That song, at­trib­uted to Louis Armstrong, has a rich his­tory. A 1938 ver­sion of the song by Pa­tri­cia Nor­man with the Ed­die Duchin Orches­tra is no­to­ri­ous for fea­tur­ing the re­peated use of a dirty word — in the re­frain that goes “Mose kicked the bucket ...” Omer re­sists the temp­ta­tion to work blue, how­ever, so you can safely play it for the chil­dren.

Find out more about Omer at http://tinyurl.com/ Pier­reOmerSwing.

San An­to­nio Kid by San An­to­nio Kid. This is a Ger­man group that has a strange ob­ses­sion with the Amer­i­can South­west. SAK plays an al­lur­ing, moody, noirish spaghetti-Western style of coun­try rock. (Maybe we should coin a new cat­e­gory: sauerkraut Western?) There’s lots of twang and re­verb and dreamy melodies packed into this 34-minute, eight-song record.

The whistling that opens the song “Strangers” sounds straight out of Clint East­wood’s

San An­to­nio Kid re­minds me a lit­tle of Calex­ico — with­out the marim­bas and trum­pet. And the har­mon­ica on “Same Old Sound II” has echoes of

Wall of Voodoo. Visit San An­to­nio Kid’s Off-La­bel Records page at http://tinyurl.com/SanAn­to­nioKid. Hear their songs at https://sound­cloud.com/san_an­to­nio_kid.

Nots make the most ur­gent-sound­ing mu­sic I’ve heard in a long time. Though it’s not al­ways easy to un­der­stand the lyrics, it’s im­pos­si­ble to es­cape the in­ten­sity of the sound.

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