Friday, 12 October 2007



With an all star lineup there is something incredibly sumptuous about a compilation record beginning with a track by The Jesus Lizard followed by one from Shellac. In order to draw such an astounding set of artists you get the impression that the cause must be something worthy.

Lounge Ax was a music venue in Chicago that played a key role in hosting many of the cities legendary acts (many of whom were Touch And Go artists). It also featured prominently in the movie version of High Fidelity (for those curious enough to check it out on video). Unfortunately the venue experienced complaint and harassment from city officials when a new yuppie neighbour (NYN) moved into a condo behind the venue around January 95. As ever the squeaky wheel gets the grease and causes most trouble as after persistent complaint over noise the city and police begin to get heavy becoming sniffy over club licences and issuing penalty tickets when being called out to sight on nights of shows. In other words someone somewhere really hates noisy indie rock. With no end in sight for the problem (and no indication that it will be going away) the people at Touch And Go clubbed together to compile this record with view to assisting in covering the venue’s legal costs and its not seemingly forced relocation at the hand of one grumpy neighbour ruining it for everybody.

Here fourteen very cool and recognisable acts lend their wares to a cause close to their hearts in a manner that represents why the networks of US indie rock have often served as an exemplarily example of how to act.

Thankfully there is a distinct air of quality that comes with this collection as in the words of The Jesus Lizard effort it is “Uncommonly Good”.

The Shellac track is “Killers” which over the years has probably come to represent the best known contribution to this record as people over the years have gone to great lengths to search out their songs.

From here Sebadoh deliver a classically noisy number with “Whole Hog” before the clambering June Of 44 do their bass heavy take on Slint. June Of 44 is always good.

When Guided By Voices turn up it is with their wicked brand of disrupted pop that on this occasion sees them in quite a psychedelic mood with “Beneath A Festering Moon” that could quite happily originate from the same clouds as Sgt Pepper.

Bad Livers then bring bluegrass and country. Surely a yuppie neighbour would be partial to this. Seems not.

The ever reliable Yo La Tengo bring something unique and new to the record with a Theremin and saxophone laced noise workout a million miles removed from their potential harmonies and slick distortion. They live and breathe this shit.

Towards the end Tortoise threaten to steal the show as they supply a definite highlight with the delicate “Restless Waters” which lends a glimpse into the potential beauty of the area and the potential to surround all with goodness.

Rachel’s conclude the album as they do their string thing as if soundtracking the closing credits of a Hal Hartley movie in stirring if distracted fashion.

This is an album of width and girth, of many styles and voices all linked together by the essential social centres that are great venues in great cities which in this case was Lounge Ax.

LAx good. NYN bad.

Thesaurus moment: manifold.

Lounge Ax
Touch And Go

No comments: