Lately there’s been a self-imposed theory by the almighty Lutzko of Columbus’ Unholy Two that bands are crimping his style. Given the last few live shows that I’ve seen and, by comparison, listening to the latest batch of pigfuck hopefuls that have crossed my desk, I’m beginning to believe him. Normally I’d be smitten with a new single from Lamps, especially when in the mood for a prototypical blunt distorto swindle. But like a bevy of AmRep wannabes, this Los Angeles group seems to be running on the basic “stab first, ask for apologies later” type of fumes. Not that I’m opposed to music that’s this visceral, it just sounds like, most notably on the A-side, they are stealing the thunder of their superiors, namely Mayyors, Drunkdriver and the aforementioned Unholy Two. “I’ve Been on a Lot of Camels” is much more caustic and original, though, channeling Bleach-era Nirvana by way of Chrome by way of a subterranean, impossible to find GG cut. Still, I played it twice, and it’s just not that effective. Maybe in LA things just aren’t as rough as they once seemed.
Little labels like Hozac have been harbingers for the trashy French scum punk, which makes the debut from the Liminanas such a pleasant surprise. Despite the ominous and, admittedly, rote title, “I’m Dead” sways with a sound sweet and innocent enough not to zoom over the heads of the average Ravonettes fanatic, yet it’s musty enough to satiate those who continue to be addicted to the well tread ’60s garage beat. Think about the most sparklingly Spectorish sides of a Nuggets boxset emanating from the corner of an intimate attic show. On a normal day I might find the B-side, “Migas 2000,” and its Franco-tongued mystique a hokey Gainsbourg-aping diversion. But I also think this might be like what VU would have sounded like had they played residencies at Parisian Go-Go clubs instead of haute NYC loft parties. Whether or not this is tapping into some revived swinging youth movement we don’t know about is irrelevant, as it’s catchy and fried as you could hope the polar opposite of, let’s say, Cheveu to be.
If you read Primitive Futures regularly, you’d know we have been privy to London’s Pens since the very beginning. “Love Rules” shows the trio hasn’t progressed all that much. In fact, to a degree, the girls have regressed. The song revels in a sort of double-dutch, nursery rhyme sing-song, but they could read me the classified adverts and I’d be just as smitten. There’s a naivety to what they do that’s impossible to pin down, a glee that gives one the feeling there’s more partying going on than actually practicing. This single is a bit quieter, more shimmy and introspect, though no less adorable or playful, than their prior output. That’s especially true on “You Only Love Me When I Tell You I’m Wrong,” where it sounds like the only records in their collection are (ahem) penned by Prats and Silver, DIY sides by barely legal proto-punks way, way before shit and gaze became associated with each other. It would be nice to see them stretch out and try a tune that doesn’t blare like (Times New Viking keyboardist and singer) Beth Murphy’s voicemail through tweeter-only speakers, but that might call for serious commitment. That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kevin J. Elliott