Columbus Discount Records’ Year-End Blitz
by Kevin J. Elliott

Let’s be done with singles clubs—at least everyone’s but that of Columbus Discount Records. If you’ve noticed, fed up with Sub Pop, I decided to no longer let them string me along. Columbus Discount marches on into year two, with nary a nap to catch their breath. I’m a little behind so forgive me. In a way it’s not even a singles club anymore because everyone’s invited and everyone can expect to have quality product in their mailbox, packaged safe and arriving on time. Besides that, they continue to churn out new platters oblivious to the fact that they’re running a coveted subscription series full-time. Case in point is our first suspect of the week: those wacky El Jesus boys.

El Jesus de Magico, “Klip Aught” b/w “Paha Sapa” and “Rapey Guys II”
As much as El Jeezy remains under your radar, they’ve certainly had a great 2009. Perhaps that stealth bizzaro existence can be contributed to the band simply not giving a ghost’s apology where their echoes and elastic moans travel. They’d rather hang round the funeral home, completely in sonic limbo, zonked off on their own (Columbus born and bred) mythologies, and observe what facts leak out. As a nice contrast to the Kraut boho international radio-dialed madness of the Scalping the Guru LP, the “Klip Aught” 7-inch burns quickly, ritualistically, like catching a glimpse of the witchdoctor brewing a cauldron of the more potent ingredients that are essential to El Jesus’ maintaining their quasi-punk profile. On both “Paha Sapa” and “Rapey Guys II,” there’s a preference to frantically flap burning wings towards a lunar base where Hawkwind, Primal Scream, and Royal Trux take up residence and arms. Of course, it’s a bit of instantly melting shamanism, especially with John Whitzky emoting aimlessly down the tunnel, but truly emoting nonetheless. Most moments with him, it feels perfectly acceptable to be lost. Those more pop-leaning qualities come through on the title track, where the band’s barely shaped, but blindingly bright, melodies shine forth from the salad-day mind caverns holding Pavement and Magnificent Tallboys hostage. Hunkering down together to bang out freak rock and truth rock has matured them, as this is a joyful dirge—nothing is bloated or excessive, only “enough.” I’m envisioning zombie children hand-in-hand, walking through a sunny meadow, with guitarist Dave Capaldi leading them through the war with his best rendition of either Dinosaur Jr. or Cinderella. That solo towards the end is not tongue-and-cheek; it sounds played with the utmost serious intentions. It’s there because that’s where fate dropped it.

This being the first exclusively analog recording in the Columbus Discount discography, it’s easily the warmest record they’ve produced. Good thing, as it’s also, next to “Unclean Ghost,” the finest moment for El Jesus de Magico. Lucky for us it feels like they’re just now blooming.

Puffy Areolas, “Lutzko Lives” b/w “Bowel Movement (It’s All About)”
In the midst of recording their first album for the venerable Siltbreeze, Puffy Areolas also birthed Columbus Discount’s first single of year two. In a logical world, these would be B-sides, but they’re more like the grotesque placenta that came from a weekend a spit away from Parsons Avenue. Call them novelty if you will. That’s assuming “Lutzko Lives” is an homage to the Unholy Two or the man who kept them stocked with electrolytes for those late sessions. Whichever the case, the song is also an imperfect homage to “TV Eye,” an endless rust-belt boogie, riding off into the infinite shitstorm at top speed. For all we care, that album they were recording could and should be four sides, four songs. Like a Toledo-induced Wooden Shjips, there’s getting baked and then there’s getting wasted. Even homelier is “Bowel Movement (It’s All About), which features Columbus’ own biker, acid-archive legend Raven, either groaning concrete blues or accenting them with wheezed harmonica. Through the magic of CDR’s technique, the alchemic wizards on the controls captured this moment and reaped charred, but hypnotic, fool’s gold in the process. Live, the band is a tad incessant. Recorded they appear to be psych-chameleons. I believe in the magic.

Necropolis, “Love Theme from Necropolis” b/w “No Tongue, No Talking”
What’s with the manic guitars in this particular batch? Is it inspiration inspiring inspiration? As you all should know, Necropolis is the patriarchal guitar figures for the overarching aesthetic in the CDR mini-verse (if there is one now), axemen Bo Davis and Adam Smith being the keepers of the gate. The guitars sound run through a gauntlet of white-coal meth and jars full of sparring wasps here. Someone needs to write them thank you cards for this, the second (and much surprising) installment of year two. Thank them for keeping Columbus in absolute check. It’s kind of amazing to consider that through recording the city, pressing the city’s records, pouring the city’s beers, and spawning, they can still, quite simply, wreck towers in one blistering little single. “Love Theme from Necropolis” is over and done with just as the knobs are being ripped from their spokes. As a love theme, it asks exactly how much Brainiac did they actually ingest. Or maybe how desolate the dives and practice spaces of Columbus have become in comparison to ’93 Dayton. Then again Tim Taylor and company were also braised over a similar Ubu hotplate. Instead of Roxy Music, though, Necropolis chose the most gnarled hardcore records they could find—that and the general abuse of punk found in Columbus unknowns. “No Tongue, No Talking” could have been whipped up in real time, though it’s obviously the spritely reverse of its counter, punctuated in Emily Davis’ drowning calliope stress alarms. Of the two, the song is noticeably the Martian dance invasion. I would love to get word that this is a full head of steam towards making that long awaited full-length follow-up to the cornerstone of their beloved label. A man can dream.