The Monkee's Uncle
(Ant Acid Audio)
Can you say side project? If you cut your teeth in the golden aer of college rock in the 80's side project was a dirty, dirty word. It meant taking precious limited resources away from the more important goals of music creation by the bands you cared about. A lackluster Hindu Love Gods dalliance would just mean you were left tapping your foot for the REM album (and there was once a time when I among many tapped their foots waiting for REM albums.) The only thing worse was a solo album, running on a model much like the infamous KISS solo albums which had one for each member, and are among the most derided in KISS' already unsteady catalog. Now we are all expected to me multitaskers. There is no I in team, not because of any sense of synergy or loyalty, its now because the team is a product of the contribution of each I, not the I itself. The teams barely exist. Even sports teams are nebulous arrangements of revolving talent and money. Teams aren't even really tied to cities anymore, that umbilicus eager to be severed every time a bigger wad of cash gets waved at it. So what I'm saying, side projects are de riguer and not to be feared. They are just as "project" as the real projects.
Case in point is Altamont, side deal The Melvins' drummer Dale Crover, who pulls a Dave Grohl and leave s the sticks in the gig bag to take up the guitar and vocals. Does it sound like the Melvins? Hard to say since the Melvins are a pretty nebulous outfit themselves, but I'd say it takes the fuzz sludge of the materband and runs it through a colander, making an excellently meaty variant on what I think is the mislabeled stoner rock of Queens of the Stone Age. QOTSA doesn't really sound like stoner music to me, it sounds like what nonstoners think it would be like, whereas Altamont has all the trappings that will make you look up from the bong sand say "sweeeeeeet." The opening track "Franks Bank" once it gets through the fax handshake signal at the beginning is a great lurching power track, with just enough menace to keep it lethal without going completely metal, but its in "Bathroom Creep" with the Alice Cooper licks and vocals that are just off the beat and coming from elsewhere are right on the chronic.
the tremolo-bad-trip "Dum Dum Fever" reminds me of the dirgey "Dum Dum Boys" off Iggy Pop's dope-rock classic The Idiot, but I may be wanting too strongly to make this connection. But never mind, Grover is a great solid guitarist, as demonstrated on pop-sludge numbers (if there is such a thing) "El Stupido" and glorious riff-overkills like the perfectly titled "The Bloodening" I find this a more enjoyable listen than I do the melvins, which exists more as an art project than a band, to me. Especially the psychedelic onslaught that is "Easter Sunday" where you get to bask in its abject rock-ishness and loud squealy soloing. Melvin's albums always require a bit of conceptual distance for me to sink my teeth into, this shit is pounding out of the car stereo of the Trans-Am of the soul. The weird clanky "Bull Ramus" has more to do with the experimental side of the aforementioned collective, but the high octane "In a Better World" rocks like a bastard biker son of Motorhead and the Stranglers. Its good knucklehead stuff that might just pull that fist from your contemplative chin and get it pumping in the air where it belongs.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com