Saturday, 9 June 2012

Album of the Week: Rodan - Rusty

Artist: Rodan
Album: Rusty
Label: Qauterstick Records
Release Date: April, 1994

Louisville, Kentucky provided a creative hub in the late eighties/early nineties. The likes of Will Oldham and Slint occupied its landscape, delivering some of the most left of centre sounds at a time when Nirvana and college rock were gaining majority of the attention in the ‘indie’ circles.
You could almost feel the oppression seeping out of Slint’s music. The narrative, the disjointed rhythms and overall simmering aggression that willed listeners towards every tone rendered. It wasn’t an aggression from the stomach, though. It may’ve formed from there, but frontman Brian McMahan evidently delivered from the heart. Look no further than ‘Washer’.

Although a little younger than the two acts mentioned above, there was another band from Louisville, Kentucky who dabbled in the same circle. However their aggression didn’t come from the heart. It was via a one way ticket from the depths below. That band was Rodan.
Rodan consisted of Jeff Mueller (vocals/guitar), Jason Noble (vocals/guitar), Tara Jane O’Neil (bass/vocals) and Kevin Coultas (drums). Although each respective band member has gone on to form various other projects (more on that later), there’s no doubt that each member flushed out their anger with this initial project.
Their only album, Rusty (produced by Shellac’s Bob Weston), consists of six pieces that threaten to mess with your internal organs. It’s a dangerous album. It's an album that has soul. In some ways you could argue that breaking up after this album may have been to Rodan's benefit. Hard to fathom but after listening to Rusty it’s at least plausible. Burning out transcends above fading away so forth, so on....
Opening track, ‘Bible Silver Corner’ is straight up meandering post-rock. If any track is out of place it’s this one, which makes it even more noticeable considering it’s the album’s opener. ‘Shiner’ is two minutes and thirty seven seconds of chewing up grunge and spitting it out its bones, as Mueller howls “pop pop, down goes the enemy,” through the chorus, with blistering chords gouging through the speakers.

‘The Everyday World of Bodies’ is the focal point of this album. If one needed to be introduced to Rodan through one track, then ‘‘Bodies’ is the undeniable ticket. Mueller yelps alongside dissonant chords in the early stages, with the song slowing down once Tara Jane O’Neil brings a soothing quality with plucky guitar notes that present an instrumental splendour. The track ends in dramatic fashion, as Mueller screams “I will be there, I will be there, I swear.”
‘Gauge’ would probably be ‘TEWOB’ closest rival in the stakes of awesomeness, the aggression still paramount in between the poetic narratives that intertwine throughout this album.
 ‘Tooth Fairy Retribution Manifesto’ closes the album, with Tara Jane O’Neil spitting out dark poetic anecdotes over a murky rhythm section and distored chords.
It’s quite frankly an injustice for band this good to be continually overlooked. There’s hardly ever a head nod in Rodan’s direction, which again, is a travesty. They undoubtably blurred the lines with Rusty. So many bands have picked at Rodan's carcass it's not funny. Some of my favourite bands, even. The below side projects are all very admirable and for those wondering where bands such as the ones below originate from, it may make more sense by starting from the top. Listening to Rusty could make it all clearer.

Rodan off-shoot projects.
Jeff Mueller: June of 44, Shipping News

Jason Noble: Rachel’s, Shipping News
Tara Jane O’Neil: Retsin, The Sonoara Pine, Tara Jane O'Neil

Simon K.

Book Review: Martin Amis - Money

Author: Martin Amis
Titled: Money
Publisher: Vintage
Released: 1984

A good book stays etched into your brain for months after reading it. Years, even. So why does Martin Amis’ Money stay ensconced between my ears even though I didn’t like it?

Good or bad, I try to get through a book every ten days or so. I can safely say that books I don’t like fail to stay in my mind after reading them. I’m usually hankering to get onto the next book and leave any bad thoughts behind.
For some reason Money is different gravy. Why? Who knows? I don’t think it will be one of those situations where subconsciously I will grow to like it two weeks or even two years from now. I guess that’s the beauty of a subconscious, though. You just don't know.

“Towards the end of a novel you get a floppy feeling. It may just be tiredness at turning the pages. People read so fast – to get to the end to be shot of you. I see their problem, For how long do you immerse yourselves in other lives? Five minutes, but not five hours. It’s a real effort.” Page 354.

After getting through this novel (the first 150 pages were some of the hardest I’ve read), Martin Amis sums it up right here.  
It was the first Martin Amis novel I’ve read. It won’t be the last. I like when authors write about horrible people. I also admired the fact that Amis introduced himself as a character midway through the story, dispelling any suggestions that the main character was an autobiographical account of himself (this is where I was intrigued for 30 pages or so). The former admiration is quite prevalent of the world, or so a miserable fucker like me thinks. Overall, though, something with Money just seemed off.

Was it a British writer making majority of the setting in New York and failing to depict its surroundings? Not really. Perhaps it was the main character. He just didn’t seem very British to me. At times my mind was casting back to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. Maybe because of the similar industries the respective main characters were in, but to me at times it just felt like Money was the other side of the coin. The perverse side.
Lucky Jim (Martin’s father’s 1954 cult novel) hit all the heights that Money didn’t. Shoes too big to fill? For me it was the narrative. Lucky Jim worked so well in third person. Jim Dixon terrorising the upper class in humourous ways, whilst still coming out on top of the pile. Money may have worked better with an adopted third person narrative. In fact, I’m almost certain of it.

A book written in the same year as Money was William Boyd’s Stars and Bars. That, too, was hard work for the first 150 pages or so, however from there a sequence of great hooks throughout the story transformed this novel into something intriguing and great in a slow burning kind of way. Along with Lucky Jim, Stars… was also written in the third person, and funnily enough, consisted of a British character based in America. Where Henderson Dores succeeded, John Self failed and on more levels than just the respective stories.
So, after this rant I still find myself no closer as to why I just can’t feel any love for this book. The one that got away, I’d say.

Simon K.