In 1997, Tower Pulse, the in-house magazine for Tower Records (and let us have a nice long sigh for a time when there was such a thing as Tower Records and the idea that a record chain could have an in-house magazine) ran an interview with Pavement promoting the album "Brighten the Corners." In the interview, each Pavement member was asked to provide a Top 10 favorite albums list. Steve Malkmus' was particularly revelatory. At the top was the Groundhogs' "Thank Christ for the Bomb," a slab of weird, gritty English blues-rock. Next was Planxty' self-titled debut of neo-traditional Celtic music, both of which sort of (sort of! No letters please!) pointed the way Malkmus' solo career would be about a decade later.
At the bottom, at number 10, was the Dead C's "Harsh 70's Reality" (Siltbreeze), a 5-year-old, double-album released in an edition of 1,500, from a New Zealand trio that was even then a password to a gloriously noisy world.
"Harsh 70's Reality" was re-released today on double-LP, the first time this has been available in its complete form in 20 years. (The CD version, released in 1998, omitted two tracks.)
From their start in 1986, the trio of Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yates took the more out-there moments of Pere Ubu, '70s punk, and Sonic Youth (their label name, Xpressway, was taken from SY's blow-out "Xpressway to Yr Skull").
It's a crude formulation, if New Zealand bands such as the Clean and the Bats and the Pin Group vibed on the Velvet Underground's first and third albums, the Dead C. sounded like a pure product of the second, "White Light/White Heat." They sounded like they lived inside of "Sister Ray."
Their early records were more song- (or at least riff-) based, their latter work increasingly abstract and improvisational (many of these records are available on the Ba Da Bing and Jagjauwar labels).
"Harsh 70's" is the stellar midpoint, a murky ocean containing one of their all-time great moments of rock-qua-rock (the careening, creaking "Sky") and a side-long zone out ("Driver UFO") that is very good book-shelving drone if you happen to be working at a college library in the mid-1990s. It's a completely necessary item for those interested in extreme buzz (or having an extreme buzz). And yes, a turntable is required.
Elsewhere, look for rapper 2 Chainz's highly anticipated debut "Based on a T.R.U. Story" (Def Jam) out today and featuring an all-star guest list, including Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Kanye West and Rick Ross.
"Anastasis" ([PIAS] Recordings) is the first new Dead Can Dance album in 16 years. The gothy, semi-classical outfit band comes to ACL Live on Sept. 7. Rap lunatics Insane Clown Posse's "The Mighty Death Pop!" (Psychopathic) is out just in time for their festival, the Gathering of the Juggalos, which ends today.
Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani's "Manala" (Nuclear Blast) is out today, along with Canadian country singer Corb Lund's "Cabin Fever" (New West).
Those of you who need to keep the Olympic high going should know that (wait for it) Hope Solo's memoir "Solo: A Memoir of Hope" (HarperCollins) is in stores now. Author Phillipa Gregory's "The Kingmaker's Daughter" is also out today. Also, "Feminist Ryan Gosling: Feminist Theory (as Imagined) from Your Favorite Sensitive Movie Dude" is now a book from Danielle Henderson, the blogger who came up with it the meme in the first place. You're welcome.
Contact Joe Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-5926.