Light Up and Live
Tee Pee Records
Harsh Toke = Dead Meadow + Radio Moscow
The fact that bassist Richie Belton and guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa are at the forefront of professional skateboarding is a mere footnote when talking about these SoCal shredders. The music speaks for itself—and loudly it speaks. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, this four-song LP doesn’t waste a beat shrilling up cosmic sounds that ring out ad infinitum. But there’s some special touch that sets this record apart from the continuous deluge of jam-band psychedelia. Perhaps it’s that the entire thing sounds like a lost tape from Maggot Brain or something. –Jordan Deveraux
Castle Face Records
Pow! = Units + Suicide
This record buzzes like a Brookstone orgasm chair, especially the track “Switchboard Scientist,” which swoons like a Funkadelic groove minus the big-band instruments, with added Prozac and guitar dirge. It’s no downer, though. The album cleverly progresses like a dystopian science-fiction movie, with some new technological disaster at every turn. The lyrics are filled with funny, downplayed complaints sung in a Mark E. Smith sort of lilt. Despite varying widely from song to song, it is a very to-the-point kind of affair, with most songs lasting between two and three minutes. Music like this doesn’t come along that often, so get it while you can. –Jordan Deveraux
Boom Pow Awesome Wow
Castle Face Records
The Traps = Haunted George + The Sonics
The Traps are completely adept at expressing themselves with three chord songs and a busted-amp aesthetic. Fans of the old Sun Records artists will find themselves at home in the blues number “Get Up,” both in the lack of pretentious musical build-up and sound quality. But there is a GG Allin brand of perversion here that might repel listeners who like their rock n’ roll with a hint of cute irony, because there’s none of that. The most enjoyable moments in the album come from the vocals, which are grating and strained to the key of synaptic misfires emanating from bughouses. This is a must-have. –Jordan Deveraux
Maui Tears is the band’s finest work yet. It’s a perfection of everything good from Fever and Spine Hits. The record opens with “The Lane”—an angelic little ditty featuring guitars that soar through the clouds and rip through the ether in search of a realm of permanent shapes. Brett Constantino confronts the specter of love when he croons, “In a pool of roses we could swim. It’s only grand illusion of our earthly whim, a glimpse.” The next track, “Words,” releases the thrust tension and serenely floats at the vantage point of everywhere. The band demonstrates its range in “Galaxy Punk,” which pants like Pixies à la Trompe le Monde. These psych masters resist the lurking urge to tangent, which makes every song that much better. Following the peaks and troughs of a heart on fire without flatlining, Maui Tears is poetic, sincere and well put-together. –Jordan Deveraux
Tyler Olsen rips a blunt side during the open division contest at SLUG’s 15th Annual Summer of Death. Photo: Josh Joye
The Summer of Death contests have served as a springboard for countless Utah rippers to go from snot-nosed kids who annihilate local spots and parks to permanent fixtures in the skate community, including local all-star Lizard King, who earned a spot at the Tampa Am for his win at a Summer of Death Contest when he was knee-high to a grasshopper. This summer’s first installment of SLUG’s 15th annual Summer of Death series took place at the indoor Crossroads Skate Park in Ogden on June 21. If you didn’t already know, this is a special date for skateboarders all over the world, as it marks not only the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, but it is also duly named Go Skateboarding Day.
The Crossroads Skate Park features a good spread of obstacles: a couple of banks and quarter pipe, an a-frame with grindables and a drop with a downrail next to a miniature euro-gap. The contest was divided into two divisions: an amateur class, and an open division consisting of 14-year-olds to twentysomethings. The amateur division was first. Despite the large number of contestants in this class, few kids stuck it out to the end of the competition—there were obviously a lot of first-timers. Even so, these kids tore up the course. The opening minutes were fraught with break-neck attempts at bangers for which the emcees advised the contestants to pace themselves. By the end of the first jam, there were two pairs of split pants and a busted shoe—not to mention a winded gaggle of skaters.
Kade Gallegos, nicknamed “Gilligan” by the emcees for his bucket hat and Hawaiian shirt, hucked a few honest attempts at a frontside 180 off the side of the fun box. He threw a boneless and a boneless 50-50 down the drop and the down ledge respectively, earning him third place in the contest. Johnathan Aquino made the backside boardslide and the boardslide fakies across the flat bar look easy. He also slid a slick frontside 5-0 on the launch-to-bench, which, among other hammers, earned him second place. The winner of the Amateur Division Jam was Lucky Stables, who proved worthy of a name that could belong to a thoroughbred racehorse. Among the memorable tricks this cat landed were a 50-50 early grab roast beef and a lipslide across the flat bar. The three winners were awarded gear, new skate decks and trophies made by Mark Judd of Afterdark Skateboards. After the ceremony, the rest of us got to share their glory in the form of free pizza donated by Ogden pizza slingers Lucky Slice.
The open division was much more cutthroat. Many of the contestants in this class used every free second in the interim to hone their tricks. The emcees had to repeatedly ask the contestants to stop skating so that they could line up the contestants and start the competition. Because of the insistence on the part of some of the skateboarders to ride with headphones on, these requests fell on deaf ears. Since there was a shorter time alloted for the advanced division, the contestants went at it hard. It would be exhausting to rattle off all of the notable tricks landed in this division, but I will note a few. A finalist named Koleman Stunet, who rocked a tie-dye shirt, swung an alley-oop frontside 360 transfer from the big quarter pipe to the bank and an impetuous feeble-boardslide-feeble combo across the flat bar—a favorite of myself and the emcees. Bryan Sweat, who won Third Place, stuck a frontside overcrook across the flat bar and got an airwalk off the side of the fun box. Tyler Olsen nabbed a nollie backside bigger spin off the side of the fun box—perfect spin and catch—and a frontside bluntside across the bar. The winner of the Open Division Jam, one Austin Ramirez, nailed trick after trick. Some of the notables include a boosty backside air on the quarter pipe, a frontside crooked grind across the rail and—the one that won best trick—a flawless tre flip off the side of the fun box.
After the awards were given out, the rest of the attendees vied for flying apparel in the product toss while local band Sunchaser set up on the dais overlooking the park. Although most of the kids were eager to hit the streets to soak up the rest of Go Skateboarding Day, those who stuck around to skate the park dug the multi-layered tunes with a heavy dirge, which accompanied the skating.
Another year and another success. SLUG would like to thank all of our awesome sponsors who made The 15th Annual Summer of Death possible: Crossroads Skate Shop, SLUG Magazine, After Dark Skateboards, Blue Plate Diner, RAMP Sports, BC Surf & Sport, Us Against One Clothing, Skate For Health, Saltypeaks Board Shop, Milo Sport, Publik Coffee, Discrete, Lucky Slice Pizza and iNi Cooperative. A big thank all the judges who donated their afternoons to helping out with the contest, as well as the emcees and the volunteers who helped make this thing happen—you know who you are.
The Builders and the Butchers
The Builders and the Butchers = Murder by Death + The Devil Makes Three
The Builders and the Butchers channel a dustbowl-era feeling in this itinerant carousal of the post-apocalyptic West. All the elements of nu-folky gospel are there—Jesus-y redemption, moonshine and a banjo. The sense of distance may be due to the fact that Western Medicine boasts a more orchestral flair than the band has previously embraced. This album might not be enjoyed by very many people outside the folk community because (maybe I’m just an asshole), to me, it seems like a never-ending elegy for a cowboy combined with frantic string sections. But for all the folksters who can’t get enough of this kind of stuff and are looking for something a little more than buskerish acoustic music, check this one out. –Jordan Deveraux
Act Rights are too drunk to be the Raconteurs and they’re not drunk enough to be the Black Lips. Almost every song from Sweat Equity sounds like a mine caving in, meaning that there are moments of sheer chaos contrasted with sections of insular refrain. A majority of the songs begin in media res like heavy dirt clods and pebbles raining down on your head, which makes for a straightforward experience. This can get redundant, but Sweat Equity’s got that haunch-grinding jaunt that makes for a good garage rock record, with some production value to boot. The song “David Duncan 5021” pans a cool call-and-response vocal bandy, which can only be detected through headphones. The song “East India Rush” features a cool crescendo with toggling synth work, which comes to a head in an isolated bass warble ending with one last surge of chorus. Sweat Equity is the perfect example of rock n’ roll for rock n’ roll’s sake. It’s not the record you can spin when you feel like having a sob, but it’s definitely something to drink to. –Jordan Deveraux
Get Stakerized! = Dinosaur-era Dinosaur Jr. x Locust Abortion Technician-era Butthole Surfers
After finishing the first listen of Get Stakerized!, I became paranoid. I was unsure whether Get Stakerized! was serious, or if the album is just an experiment to see what sort of hifalutin stretch they could elicit from a reviewer like myself. I got over my fear, and this is what I came up with: This record is 19 minutes of distorted guitar noodlings accompanied by monotonous, high-register vocals, with occasional and unnecessary percussive hiccups. The Get Stakerized! EP isn’t without its charms though. It’s a bit screwball, with tracks like “Designated Shitter”—in which a part of the verse is a recitation of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The song “Dying by Degrees” has a cool guitar scramble and crescendo at the end. Overall, this record isn’t bad. It just seems a bit thrown-together. –Jordan Deveraux
Midnight Ghost of
Creepy Murdle = The Jesus Lizard + Incesticide-era Nirvana
On their third release, Creepy Murdle deliver a sonic experience that is grotesque and beautiful. Imagine the grinding din of a metal shop when all the machinery goes haywire, throw in a multicolored spark celebration arcing out of the windows and roof for visual effect, and that’s Midnight Ghost of California. The crunch that pervades the album is heard most prominently in singer Richard Feinstein’s crackling vocals—an effect innovated by Feinstein’s splicing of a vintage headset with a microphone. This creates an eerie effect that heightens the already macabre aura surrounding the album (see “Best Behavior” for a kidnapper’s delight: “I want to borrow/some of your skin”). The energy of this album is irresistible, and there are some haunting gems that will get you singing along, especially on the title track. With enough earworms and fuzz to accommodate James’ giant peach, this record will please more than just the grunge enthusiasts. –Jordan Deveraux
We Are Here
Blackout = The Melvins + Sleep
On their debut, Blackout waste no time in setting their own tempo, which happens to be slow as fuck. The track “Amnesia” progresses in a way similar to a growling motorcycle accelerating and decelerating all the time, resulting in a spontaneous stagnation that doesn’t get anywhere, but wallows in its own grime. The whole album seems to oscillate from stoney-riff spurts to dense, distorted drone chords that ring out for days over shimmering symbols. While this may sound like a formula for your garden-variety sludge, Blackout spare no opportunity to reimagine the genre. Oh yeah, and don’t forget your bong. –Jordan Deveraux