Grotesque Modern Records

With Sex Negatives, Modern Creatures, and Mom
By Jason Jackowiak 
Howdy campers, and thanks for coming back 'round to The Singles Collection. We know we harshed your funtime summertime glow last week with a bunch of downer synth spuzz, but we're back with some epically awesome technicolored weirdness from our friends in the Great White North (think Bob & Doug McKenzie). Yep, that's right, Canada. Actually Vancouver to be specific; a locale whose scene is bursting at the seams with more awesome bands than you can shake a maple leaf at. All of this week's selections come from the stable of Grotesque Modern, the label at the epicentre of B.C.'s art-post-punk-spunk scene.
Grotesque Modern Records
We get to moving this week with Sex Negatives' Parkade EP, their debut offering after countless live shows. Essentially one track spread across two sides, it starts with the roar of thunder (literally) and slowly morphs into a serrated sea of atonal scraping and skronking a la Sonic Youth, with eerie, ghastly tribal pounding off in the distance. As the first movement develops, it occasionally recalls the clattering industrial collage work of Peter Christopherson (Coil) in its isolated fervor. When it re-commences on the flip, it breaks into an overheated Kraut Rock groove desperately trying to make its way to the surface through a torrent of incessant pounding and decaying guitar tacets. Disgusting and challenging, and nothing like you'd expect given the facetiously joyous cover art.
To help wash that gunk down we've got the first dispatch from Modern Creatures "Thick Thick Black" and "Time to Go" b/w "To a Crowd". Featuring members of the exceedingly underrated Twin Crystals, what this slab delivers is a cold brace of grotty, female-fronted post-punk garotted with blades and blanketed in a layer of faux-fur fuzz. "Time to Go" is crammed with so many right angles you need a protractor to fully comprehend its undulating power, while the B-Side, "To a Crowd" is by far the best thing on display, as they appropriate a gaggle of Devo's wobbly synth lines and lead them astray down alleyways of filth-bedecked guitars and gangland vocal strangling in at attempt at penning a pity glam anthem. A success on all fronts.
Saving the most beguiling for last, we've got one-woman noise machine Mom's It Smelled Like Dirty Dog Dicks EP. An eight-song freakazoid blast beamed in from Mars on a vaguely phallic spacecraft that resembles Mickey Mouse performing illicit acts establishes her as the crazy Canadian cousin of U.S. Girls. She's not quite as feedback-drenched as USG, and her unhealthy Disney fascination immediately gives off a creepier-than-thou vibe that's hard to top, but this aural train-wreck is difficult to walk away from. The songs exhibit fetishes for tropical exotica, albeit spliced with snippets of golden-era Hollywood soundtracks (think Ben Hur), and are topped off with the most helium-saturated vocals you've ever heard, which are constantly at risk of floating away. Apparently she's doing everything in her power to sound like a pornographic Minnie Mouse on a handful of barbiturates -- potentially genius, but also possibly useless.

Dirty Dog Dicks 7” EP
(Grotesque Modern)
You think you got problems? I got this Mom 7” and it’s killing me. Perfect for the abject non-commercial radio circuit – and I say this in the nicest way, this was tailor-made for WFMU – Mom appears to be a young lady who went to art school and promptly lost it. Her shtick is as follows: moan and cuss through a pitch shifter (think the one used on the long track from Hairway to Steven) over reheated dance loops of Gorch-styled rock, ‘50s lounge, essentially the music used in “Pink Flamingos.” A cute formula for a while, it’s repeated across eight songs with names like “Boner Party (Tonite)” and “The World (A Piece of Shit).” “Mom” herself is depicted through artist’s renderings as a Mouseketeer gone jihad, face obscured by what look like panties and perched on a tan toilet with bugs swarming out of her crotch. Careful boys, this one’s on fire! Weird for weirdness’ sake, and I hear it was used to drive the Taliban out of the Swat Valley last month. All the way live (lice?) from Sacramento, and I’ll bet Soriano is tugging at his collar every time this one gets mentioned.

Defektors The Bottom of the City LP (Nominal / Grotesque Modern)
Deviants of all stripes, take note - there is hardly a modern punk rock band more worthy of your attention than Defektors. Pretty sure they released a single or two before this album, but it usually takes me more than a whim to pony up the Canadian shipping costs these days, which unfortunately left me blissfully ignorant of their greatness prior to The Bottom of the City. I hope those early records aren’t as good as The Bottom of the City, or else I’ll have to make that sacrifice, as this album is impeccable in both aesthetic and execution. Musically, Defektors tie together both coasts through the classic Dangerhouse bands (Eyes, Dils, X) and the nascent CBGBs punk scene (Richard Hell, Dead Boys), all with a healthy Wipers sheen. It’s great to hear a modern punk band working these Time Life: History of Punk influences, rather than relying on Killed By Death comps for aesthetic guidance, as everyone has already out-obscured everyone else, we’ve all got the Internet at this point, and when it all comes down to it, those classic punk bands of yore wrote some of the best songs of all time, even if you’re personally content with never hearing “Los Angeles” or “Blank Generation” again. It’s a hard style to own in this day and age, with a good thirty years of both failed and successful attempts, but Defektors wear it so well, balancing discordant and epic on “Bottom of the City” and just totally kicking things into high-gear with “Shadow of Fear” and “Doomsday Girl”. Lots of great choruses, a killer vocalist with nothing to prove, and a tough attitude make this one impossible to not recommend. Defektors’ peers can do the whole “look at me, I’m crazy” thing all they want, I’m going to hang with Defektors and try to pretend I’m as cool as they are.

- Matt Kosloff 

Release Date: April 27 | Label: Grotesque Modern

I needed a punk record this year, and this one did it. Borne out of a vibrant Vancouver punk scene that’s focused on writing the next chapters of what Kill Rock Stars, Vermiform, Three One G and other also-rans generated in the ‘90s, here’s some peerless, female-fronted darkness from the basement, Gothed-out and shaking fist defiantly against the era. I’ve listened to this one dozens of times, especially when other records were awaiting review. It satisfied a craving I knew I had, but which had been left unsatisfied for a long, long time. Hope they’re still around and that they come to NYC soon with some of the other greats out of the region (Sex Church, Nu Sensae, Random Cuts, B-Lines, etc.) 
- dusted, top 10 records of 2009

Blessure Grave is one of my favorite currently active bands. These death-obsessed youth hail from San Diego and play an authentic blend of post-punk and death rock that brings to mind Joy Division, early Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Cure with a distinct lo-fi smudge. In the past year alone Blessure Grave has released a score of brilliant seven inches, a cassette, and a three-way split with Cold Cave and The Crocodiles. The band will be releasing their debut CD/LP very soon on the ever quality Release The Bats label and I am beside myself with anticipation. I recently had the pleasure (or should I say "blessure") of seeing them perform. I bought two great EPs and this was the better of the two. Nothing new really, but I, for one, am glad this sort of a thing is enjoying a comeback. Very cool band. More please.
-cosmic hearse

This could have been the best show review ever, but somebody blew it bigtime and forgot about the release party that happened last Saturday for the first ER Compilation. Gah! And exactly how rad was the show? Brie from Scratch Records posted THIS on my message board the next day: “[The album is] totally out! The release party was last night and I didn’t get home until 7am!” Seven in the morning, babies. That’s a party and a half! C’est la vie, I suppose. So on to the next best thing…the record review!
I was more excited about the release of this album that an expectant father could have ever been in a delivery room. Why? Because I knew for a fact that I would love this LP more than I could love a human child. How could I not? Brand spankin’ new tracks from all of my favourite local bands…rumours of killer packaging…not to mention the fact that it’s a limited edition pressing of 924… So yeah, I was pretty stoked. And the verdict? It’s amazing! The kids at Nominal Records and Grotesque Modern must have access to a fairly nice studio because the music sounds professionally recorded and while the album as a whole still has that indie-punk feel, it’s a far cry from the Fisher-Price-sound-recorder-in-the-garage garble that I was maybe expecting. Especially considering that, with the exception of two tracks, the whole thing was recorded in ONE DAY. Anyone who has heard The Ramones live knows that they played fast and vicious in front of an audience, but in the studio everything was very slick and for some reason the band slowed right down to the point where they became almost radio friendly. That is not the case with this recording and these bands, which is a very good thing.
Back in ‘79 (when I was two and most of the kids on the ER Compilation weren’t even born) a similar project was undertaken in this city and the resulting LP, entitled Vancouver Complication, featured local superhero punks like D.O.A., The Subhumans, The Dishrags, and The Pointed Sticks. What that release effectively accomplished was to capture Canadian punk rock at punk rock’s most explosive and exciting. As per the do-it-yourself ethos of the time, the bands recorded at Sabre Sound, an 8-track studio in the basement of a CBC employee’s Mom’s house (read: Best Mom Ever!) As such, it remained outside the grasp of unwanted corporate influence, and in doing so Vancouver Complication became an album truly for the scene and most importantly by the scene. What would you call that? FUBU? FTSBTS? Ah, nevermind…
Now fast forward almost thirty years and see how history repeats itself. Nominal Records, a relatively new upstart label in Vancouver, has assembled a group of eight new bands which include Defektors, Mutators, Nu Sensae, Petroleum By-Products, Sick Buildings, Twin Crystals, VAPID and White Lung. And the finished product is, I believe, every bit as vital as the effort that came out of Mrs. Cutress’ wreck room back in the day. It’s a perfect time capsule that will no doubt come to be known as one of the defining documents of this amazing and exciting scene.