i am the oceanI Am The Ocean
And Your City Needs Swallowing

Uprising Records
Street: 05.15
I Am The Ocean = Katatonia + Into Another + Pink Floyd

Slick production does not a good record make, and this sucker is dangerously close to being what I would consider “over-produced.” That being said, and having seen these guys live several times, this is a record I could ultimately take or leave. It immediately invokes the ghosts of post-hardcore bands long deceased, but there’s something inherently more interesting to be found here. Just when I found myself wanting to turn it off due to its coming across as mere Hot Topic-brand metalcore, it changes direction completely and offers up a plate of “listen to me!” which cannot be ignored. The musicianship is clearly not any kind of a problem, and the vocals are incredibly distinct, almost to the point of being addictive, but this seems to be a record made by a band that’s still trying to find their identity. I congratulate these lads on a fine little piece of music, but it’s just not something that permeates well enough to find its way into heavy rotation on my stereo.

xCool Your JetsxxCool Your Jetsx
Saving Grace

Seventh Dagger Records
Street: 05.08
xCool Your Jetsx = Gorilla Biscuits + Youth of Today + 2007

Although I’ve never been straight edge, I’ve always had a fondness for a few straight edge bands, and a certain respect for the bands (and kids) that stayed away from the “tough guy” image that, in my opinion, ruined what was once a positive lifestyle. Thankfully, xCool Your Jetsx is not a band of “tough guys,” and this fine little EP here is proof that there is still something positive about straight edge in Salt Lake City. Four songs of pretty straightforward posi-core for the current millennium, and it’s a goddamned breath of fresh air. Well recorded without being overblown, the only negative thing about the recording is that the bass seems to be a bit buried. In fact, this EP sounds like it could have been recorded live: it’s a little sloppy in parts, but that only adds to the overall impact of this short collection of songs. When all is said and done, a great debut release from these kids. Try not pointing your finger in the air and singing along to “Chopped Liver,” I dare you.

sweet jesusSweet Jesus

Exigent Records
Street: 03.07
Sweet Jesus = Hammergun + Form Of Rocket . Yeah, I said it.

Honestly, and this is a good thing, Sweet Jesus sounds exactly like Hammergun and Form Of Rocket if you mashed them together. Makes perfect sense, considering bassist Sean McClaugherty was in Hammergun, and guitarist/vocalist Peter Makowski and vocalist Curtis Jensen are/were in Form Of Rocket. Add in local uber-celebrity Andy Patterson behind the drum kit, and voila! Sweet Jesus. Now, this isn’t what I would call the most original thing, nor is it what I would call “essential,” but it is a damned fine piece of listening, even at an extremely short 7 minutes and 41 seconds for the whole enchilada. I have to admit that I find it a bit interesting that Exigent Records released a 2-song EP from a band that has been defunct for a couple of years (at least), but I also have to admit that I’m glad they did. Heavy, screamy, and loud in quite an enjoyable way, do yourself a favor and track it down. If you can scrounge change from your couch, you can afford this fucker.

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The KrypledThe Krypled

Self Released
Street: 2007
The Krypled = I don’t even think THEY have any idea.

This CD is, from start to finish, one of the most boring, hackneyed, been-there-done-that things I’ve ever heard. Honestly, if I wanted to listen to ripped off NWOBHM riffs, I’d much prefer something like Slough Feg…at least those guys write some fairly entertaining music. Starting off with a semi-promising reverbed-to-hell guitar intro, the record falls completely apart after that. In just the first two songs, very apparent influences go from The Real Thing- era Faith No More, to Danzig, to Iron Maiden, which, while it may sound appealing, comes across more like they put these bands in a blender and literally didn’t let the thing do its job. The only redeeming thing about this…um…”piece” is that the recording is actually good. Punchy kick drums, the low-end is actually low-end, and the guitar is mixed in such a way as to make the incessant wang-doodling seem less obnoxious. If that’s enough to make anyone want to find out more information on these guys, have at it, because they didn’t provide me with anything but a CD-R with their band name on it…with a reversed capital-E. Lovely

God’s Revolver
Little Black Horse, Where Are You Going With Your Dead Rider?

Exigent Records
Street: 09.11
God’s Revolver = Priestess + Goatsnake + Blue Cheer

Skeptical. That’s the only word to describe how I felt before I listened to this God’s Revolver CD. I’ve seen GR live plenty of times, and they’re a great, hard rockin’ good-time-havin’ live band, so I wasn’t sure if it would translate well to CD. The sigh of relief I breathed upon allowing this circular piece of plastic to spin in its little holder must have been heard in California. Not only does the music translate well, but I think it does a better job of showcasing the band’s talents and songwriting than any dive bar I’ve ever seen them in. That says a lot, because I absolutely love dive bars. And whiskey. And drinking whiskey in dive bars. And watching GR play in dive bars while I drink whiskey. Enough about me … buy the record and get yourself a fifth of Jack. You’ll make me proud.

Distance is Oval

Exigent Records
Street: 09.11
Microtia = The New Transit Direction + Dulce Sky + Fugazi

Musically, Microtia are headed in a direction that, although it has been done to death, is still relatively pleasing to the ears. The entire CD is pretty effect-heavy, which makes me curious as to whether these guys can pull off the ambient/noise effects scattered throughout “Distance is Oval” in a live setting. The (over)use of tremolo on the guitars at points is a bit distracting, but it does eventually find its place on the record. And you have to be quite patient to arrive at eventually. At the end of the day, however, this record gets a failing grade from me due to the vocals. I’m not feeling the vocals, man. They kill the nifty post-rock trip these guys should be striving for. Or maybe my copy just came with some bad acid. Fuck.

We Alone Define Our Distance

Exigent Records
Street: 09.11
Medea = Gaza (lite) + Birdeater + well, you get the idea…

OK, I’ll admit that what Medea is going for here is better than what I’ve heard from a lot of other locals, but at the same time, stop-and-go deathmetalcore is getting kind of…well…played out. I think it’s somewhat nifty that they throw in hand claps of all things during “Get Rich or Try Dying,” but then I realize that so many bands like this are trying so hard to be inventive that they ultimately end up becoming cookie-cutter. There’s nothing wrong with picking a style and exploiting it- hell, I have yet to meet someone under 18 in Utah that doesn’t absolutely worship Gaza, but when your band pigeonholes itself like Medea does here, I have a hard time giving props.

Carlos Truan started working in a tattoo shop when he was 18 years old, at 23 he landed an apprenticeship and has been tattooing on and off for the past nine years. Truan has traveled and tattooed in many cities and will be doing a guest spot at Lost Art Tattoo from Sept. 10-17.

tatooSLUG: What is bringing you to Salt Lake City to tattoo at Lost Art for a week?

CT: I met Nate Drew, owner of Lost Art, at the Austin Tattoo Convention this past January and he asked if I’d tattoo him at his convention in Salt Lake City, which I did. We got to talking, and he found out that I traveled a lot and worked in different cities, he asked me to come tattoo…er, wait…maybe I asked him. I don’t remember. I really liked Salt Lake City while I was there and couldn’t wait to get back. Nate and I got along great.

SLUG: Do you enjoy traveling to different cities and states to tattoo?

CT: Love it! I work at Jinx Proof in Washington DC kind of regularly. I also work at Saints & Sinners in Dallas, owned by Nick and Emily Ley, Scorpion Studios in Houston, owned by Dan Martin, GTC Tattoo Land in Anaheim, and various tattoo shops in Corpus Christi. I’ve made some of my best friends tattooing in different places and I love returning to see them. I try to work in a different city one week of every month; it keeps me inspired by seeing what all my friends are doing.

SLUG: Have you had any formal art training?

CT: No, not really, but my father was an artist. He was Chairman of the Art Department at the University of Texas in Brownsville before he passed away. I was overly exposed to art my whole life … my father made a huge impact on me and my art.

SLUG: What tattoo artists, or other artists, inspire you?

CT: There are a lot of great tattooists out there. I spend a lot of time looking at their work on the internet; it really pushes me. I get inspiration from everywhere I look from wallpaper in hotels to Michelangelo. Mostly, I look at a ton of religious candles (any religious iconography), botanical and clip art books.

tattoSLUG: What is your favorite style to tattoo? I noticed on your site that your focus is on traditional Americana and Mexican with some Japanese influence …

CT: I would say my favorite [style] is Traditional Americana because I like the simplicity of it. It’s simple yet powerful. When I tattoo that way, for some reason, it always ends up looking a little bit Mexican, whatever that means. And being that I work with Chris Trevino, who primarily does traditional Japanese, sometimes his influence rubs off on me.

SLUG: Describe your involvement with Perfection Tattoo in Austin, TX.

CT: I’ve been there for a year and a half and it’s been great. Chris has one of the best tattoo art collections in the world, so I’m surrounded by nonstop inspiration. People come from all over the world to get tattooed and it’s opened a lot of doors for me; it has really helped me to grow. My tattooing has progressed 100 percent since I’ve been there and we all get along really, really well. It’s been a great experience, so far.

SLUG: What type(s) of music are you into? Are there any specific genres or artists that inspire you or fit different days or moods?

CT: Black Sabbath, Dead Moon, Witchcraft … I also listen to a lot of bluegrass or old time music. Since I’ve been at Perfection, I’ve acquired a taste for Steely Dan. However, when I’m tattooing, I really like to listen to Black Sabbath.

Show the man some love when he gets to town, and make sure to check out his stuff online at www.carlostruantattoo.com. To book an appointment with Carlos Truan call Lost Art at 801-537-7858.

Let me get this off my chest before I go any further: I’m such a picky asshole that the only reason I initially heard of Edward Ka-Spel was because he combined forces with 2/3 of Skinny Puppy back in the 80s and produced The Tear Garden, which released possibly one of the greatest albums ever, The Last Man To Fly, in 1991. For fuck’s sake- I even worked at MODified here in Salt Lake for a brief period and never even bothered to check out Edward’s solo output…let alone anything from The Legendary Pink Dots, who, as a matter of fact, are “legendary” in the gothic/industrial scene…and deservedly so. When I finally pulled my head out of my ass and tracked down other things that Edward had done, I felt like breaking my own arms for being such a stubborn bastard. The man has created some of the most beautiful, haunting, enchanting, psychotic music I have ever heard. Recently, Edward granted myself an e-mail interview, and even though I’ve never met the man, it’s easy for me to see that he’s not only a friendly and engaging individual, but he’d also be more than likely be someone I could hang out with and not want to kill within 15 minutes … even if he does want to live in Seattle.

SLUG: After all this time, do you still have the same intensity to make music as you did when you first started?

Ka-Spel: Actually, the intensity has increased as after 26 years I’m still not where I want to be and I’m a determined bastard, like the dog that won’t take his teeth out of the milkman’s thigh.

SLUG: Do you prefer working with an entire group like the Dots, or essentially going it alone? Obviously they are two different experiences, but what makes one more comfortable or rewarding than the other?

Ka-Spel: I do love bouncing ideas off another person. In the last weeks I’ve been working very closely with Phil Silverman on a new Dots album and cherishing every second. Making the last Tear Garden with cEvin was joyful, delightful too. Sometimes when I’m ploughing my own furrow I don’t see the wood for the trees… even so, mostly I enjoy the experience too.

SLUG: What is your favorite city or venue to play in the United States? How about in the world? Are there any specific reasons why, and what are your overall thoughts about touring?

Ka-Spel: Salt Lake City of course. Joking, sorry… Actually I do like coming to SLC but Id probably say my favourite US city is Seattle… It’s a place where I could happily live, too. The world?? That’s hard. Paris, perhaps… I’m very fond of Strasbourg… Cologne, too. No… no… it’s LONDON!!!

SLUG: Speaking of recording, believe it or not, my first exposure to you was the first Tear Garden EP, and I’ve followed the Tear Garden since that release … I’ve read in the past that you and cEvin Key have discussed touring with the group. Is this ever actually going to happen, and are there plans for more recorded output between you two?

Ka-Spel: Next year possibly. It’s been a long time coming, but I’d say you can count on there being Tear Garden shows in the future. We both want this. Of course, there will be more albums too. Kevin’s family…Tear Garden isn’t something that’s going to end while we both breathe the air. (Note: A new Tear Garden release entitled The Secret Experiment is available through cEvin Key’s Subconscious Communications label as part of the “From the Vault” collectors’ series.)

SLUG: I’ve also read in the past that some of your favorite music is relatively obscure European bands such as Magma and Can…do you still listen to bands such as these? What current bands have impressed you, both live and recorded?

Ka-Spel: New bands? I lost touch a little recently…I’m loving everything that Andrew Liles makes these days. It makes me smile and glad to be English at a time when that can often be embarrassing.

SLUG: What is your opinion of social networking sites like myspace, facebook, etc?

Ka-Spel: I suppose I’m glad it’s there. These websites play their part and make the world a little less lonely. I have a MySpace page myself, but I’ve told no-one and I only have one “friend”… It’s fine that way, too.

SLUG: Do you spend much time online? If so, what sites do you frequent?

Ka-Spel: Too much time in reality. A bit of an email junkie and (gulp) I do download stuff… mostly radio plays from the 40s and 50s. The atmosphere of these glorious creations is utterly captivating and illustrates a world that could be on the other side of the galaxy.

SLUG: Tell us something your fans don’t know about you…

Ka-Spel: This is the age of the Internet. Everybody knows everything about everybody and often they make it up. OK, I can play Beethoven’s 9th, pitch perfect, on my teeth.

SLUG: Any specific stories or memories you’d like to share about your short jaunts through in Salt Lake City?

Ka-Spel: Have they finished the freeway yet?

I honestly don’t think I could come up with a better way to end this little e-discussion. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve just read the man’s words, now go buy his music. Don’t be a putz and delay the way I did. Edward Ka-Spel’s new album, Dream Logik Part One, is available now from Beta-Lactam Ring Records.