Houdini Live: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust
Ipecac Records

Right off the bat, know that the album ostensibly being “reviewed” here isn’t likely to have much of anything to do with the Melvins’ upcoming live show at The Other Side. Anyone who tells you what to expect at any given Melvins show is either a liar or a Melvin, and they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive categories.

More conceivably to the point would be a review of Senile Animal, set for an Oct. 10 release on Ipecac Records. But, in not atypical Melvins fashion, the band—stalwarts Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover plus Coady Willis and Jared Warren from the band Big Business—is hitting town to support a record that isn’t even out yet.

Whatever. As one of the heaviest and most prolifically weird bands playing, The Melvins don’t have anything to prove, and to the extent that they’re trying to sell anything, anybody who’s buying bought in a long time ago, long before Houdini, the band’s brief but blazing 1993 breakthrough fusion of glacial riffage and sledgehammer sonics, which boasts one of the top five rock covers ever in Kiss’ “Going Blind.”

Houdini Live is a badass live recording of one of the baddest-ass rock records of the 1990s. Makes you wish you’d been there. (Brad Tyer)

The Melvins play The Other Side Saturday, Sept. 16, at 10 PM. $10.

All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt

All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt may be NoMeansNo’s first album in six years, but time has not diminished their oddball style. As a confection of disco punk, progressive jazz, really weird rap and cartoonish vocals, the album ends up sounding like “Wrestlemania” between angular guitar riffs and splenetic drums. And then there’s the vividity of the almost incomprehensible lyrics.

For instance, “Ashes” is a jewel of sludgy rock, with ghastly lines like: “I smell something burning…it’s us/sausage lips and greasy tips/it’s the sweet fried pork/my hair’s on fire.” If literally barbecuing a relationship isn’t startling enough, other songs reference the female genitalia of fleas, flaming slugs and a trickster named Mr. In Between.

All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt isn’t an easy listen. The patchwork style is maddening at times, and just plain silly at others. But it does have temporary moments of sanity like “Til I Die,” about the bleak life of the working class, and “Faith,” which is more or less a tribute to a dog. Still, nothing on this record is free of eccentricities, which makes it worth a listen if only for the wild ride. (Erika Fredrickson)

NoMeansNo plays The Other Side Friday, Sept. 15, at 10 PM. The International Playboys and Reptile Dysfunction open. Cover TBA. Call 543-3405.

Bob Wire
American Piehole

Ednor Theriault—his onstage alter-ego is Bob Wire—is a songwriter. His first full-length effort, American Piehole, is a songwriter’s album: crisp and orchestrated, showcasing the craft of construction ahead of the ensemble performing the tunes. That said, his backing band The Magnificent Bastards is capable and canny, ably executing Wire’s earnest writing, which aims at telling stories both serious and silly.

Those stories might make a listener cringe, often enough intentionally as on “Too Tired to Cheat,” which instructs a long-suffering wife that “if you pick up the phone and there’s a girl on the line, won’t you please tell her ‘Maybe some other time.’” Other times, the cringe comes at the expense of the writer and not the character he’s teeing off on, as in “White Trash Paradise,” which deftlessly exclaims, “I keep things simple ’cause I don’t like to think too much.”

At its best, which is more often than not, Wire tells his stories with sly insinuation—e.g., the aforementioned simpleton celebrates “getting Christmas cards from the folks at the Rent-to-Own”—illustrating scenes obliquely but vividly. And when the consistently ingratiating music on American Piehole winds up behind lyrics that resort to tedious telling or forced rhymes, well, you’ll just have to forgive on first listen, because you’ll be singing along anyway by the fifth. (Jason Wiener)

Bob Wire and The Magnificent Bastards play the Union Club Saturday, Sept. 16, at 9 PM. Free.

Alan Singley & Pants Machine
Slow January Records

LovingKindess is, if not a dysfunctional mood album, then one of substantial emotional incongruities. In fact the general temper of the album is ethereal and reticent, whether the lyrics refer to languishing in the morning sun or a violent father aggravated by cocaine. Shifts from lighthearted to dark are mostly subtle, though when Alan Singley sings “put that grenade back in your mouth/it’s a cruel, cruel world” the picture becomes much clearer.

Even with some moody instances, LovingKindness is, as the title implies, a rather cheerful, innocent recording barely scratched by cynicism. Does that make it bad? Not at all, but the flow of contentment doesn’t make it necessarily fresh, either. The mystical ease of “Yr Little Hand in Mine” and “I Don’t Know Where to Start,” with its rehash of Beatles and Queen lyrics, are pregnant with bland optimism. Without concrete imagery or emotional complication, these songs evaporate the second they end, though maybe that’s the point. Singer Singley may lean heavily on sunny themes, but the sly shift of a good line like “wise friends tell you ‘nothing lasts’/…can I walk you home tonight?” at least makes LovingKindness sound authentic. (Erika Fredrickson)

Alan Singley & Pants Machine play The Raven Cafe Monday, Sept. 18, at 9 PM. $7.

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