The Columbus Discount Dead of Winter ’09 Round-up
by Ron Wadlinger

Put simply, it’s no surprise that the latest batch of new vinyl from Columbus Discount Records matches the high level of quality that’s come to be expected from the label. Now isn’t the time for pondering CDR’s formula for success, so let’s just skip right to the four new records.

A 7-inch from Dan Melchior und das Menace represents the label’s latest foray outside of Ohio, as well as the first rumblings of an early-2009 avalanche of new wax from Melchior & Co. “Mr. Oblivion” may or may not be the prolific songwriter’s “Nowhere Man,” complete with his now-trademarked stream of surreal images delivered with a snarl over a stinging chord progression. “Piledriver Nightmare #2” builds upon the gritty sound of “Oblivion,” adding a bit of delay and dissonance to ensure that the nightmare part of the equation sounds just right. This 7-inch, coupled with the group’s February entry in the CDR Singles Club, only serves to raise the level of anticipation for the upcoming double-album on S-S Records.

The long-awaited debut 7-inch from Outer Spacist will come as a true revelation to those who haven’t yet been fortunate enough to catch this Columbus band. “The Mind Is as Outer Space” is quintessential Outer Spacist: a dirty punk jam imploring you to open your mind to a new kind of consciousness. “I Talk with Telepathy, Baby” slows it down a bit, but continues with the conceit, culminating in extended instrumental passages that feature an ace lead guitar and sensible synth bursts. You might recognize a couple of these guys from Columbus’ Night of Pleasure and Day Creeper, but trust me, Outer Spacist is a living, breathing force of its own.

Maybe the most interesting of this trio of 7-inchers is Pillow Talk’s debut EP, Downtown Unga Wunga. The semi-mysterious group has never played live, a fact which shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise when you consider that this is a side-project of the delightfully amorphous Deathly Fighter. Stepping away from the primarily guitar-driven mold of the CDR stable, Pillow Talk’s dueling synth sound represents something much more substantial than an oddity, even if it’s impossible to pin down. “High Exxotic Car Crash,” brings to mind Blank Dogs as an ’80s hardcore band, with the bastard son of Beefheart on lead vocals. “... or Mommy Be Good” stands on its own as a deconstruction of what passes for dance music these days, while the title track sounds like a post-apocalyptic version of “At The Hop.” If you can get past the locked groove on the A-side, you might as well keep flipping this one over for a while, ’cause Pillow Talk gives you a lot to digest.

The crown jewel of the batch has to be El Jesus de Magico’s Scalping the Guru. The full-length LP showcases the metamorphosis the band has undergone since the release of its self-titled CD a few years ago, a growth hinted at on previous CDR 7-inches, but only now fully realized. While the self-titled album consisted primarily of the band packaging its sound into a more traditional, compact song structure, El Jesus now seems fully comfortable with allowing everything to come together on its own as an unadulterated, organic whole. “Ancestor Worship” dominates the record’s first side, with its steady stream of synthesizer drifting between the song’s buoyant bass line and ringing guitar, while the half-distant vocal casts a sort of mystic trance that is only broken by the heavy wave of snyth that transitions into “Camelot v Oz.” Side B picks up with some quiet electric noise that gradually becomes more melodic until it dissolves into “Summer of Luhv,” which digs into a guitar-based groove for what might be the brightest moment on the record. The album closes as it began, with another dark, extended (dare I say “epic”?) trip that once again holds you until you’re startled awake by one final electric blast. Don’t get hung up on the title being borrowed from Guided By Voices: El Jesus’ Scalping the Guru is a singular accomplishment.