Gravel-Throated Yahoos
Tom Waits, Jad Fair & Kramer, PantyChrist, Inger Lorre

I've nothing against Tom Waits (as a matter of fact I sometimes sing "Swordfishtrombones" when I'm whacking off in the shower). But if one more guy in a thrift-store shirt, brown slacks, and a fedora complains about the mega-hype on that Star Wars thing before blathering to me in Meisterbrau-enhanced audio about how wondrous Frank's Wild Years is -- I swear to God I'm gonna hop in the Caddy, drive across this great land of ours with a .357 Magnum, and boost every fucking copy there is of Mule Variations just to make sure none of you can buy the goddamn thing. On second thought, I'll bring the flatbed for the entire back catalog.

See also...
... by Thomas S. Roche
... in the Scope section
... from August 31, 1999

So if you want a disc that sounds alternately like a drunken yahoo rambling incoherently and a naïve songster expressing his deepest emotions, you'll have to get something else instead. Try Jad Fair and Kramer's The Sound Of Music… An Unfinished Symphony In 12 Parts. The Sound of Music is sort of a halfway house between the accessibility of Kramer's work with Bongwater and the obscurity of some of Fair's work with Half Japanese (but with a lower crazy-person quotient). If you have a taste for grungy low-fi noise-pop that's strikingly creative but really, really strange, with unexpected elements sucker-punching you every few minutes…well, let's just say this disk lives up to Fair's reputation.

Speaking of screaming, drunken yahoos, what's up with PantyChrist? Their self-titled debut got called "Pretty fuckin' weird" by Negativland -- this is sort of like having John Wayne Gacy call you a psycho. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that six minutes into the disk, NYC drag diva Justin Bond is screaming "Get your titty fucks! Titty fucks right here! Titty fucks, ten dollars!" Things develop from there.

PantyChrist consists of San Francisco sampling maniac Bob Ostertag, Tokyo noise-underground darling Otomo Yoshihide, and Bond doing a sort of chanteuse-with-an-M16 thing. This band comes with an avant-trash pedigree even John Waters would envy (Bond once got in a fight with Madonna at her birthday party). Ostertaghas worked with such notables as John Zorn, Fred Frith, Kronos Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Faith No More's Mike Patton, and Lynn Breedlove, penectomy-inclined lead singer of dykecore band Tribe 8. Otomo Yoshihideis as cutting edge as it gets in Japan, leading his own bands Ground Zero and I.S.O., composing soundtracks for kung fu films, and collaborating with Eye Yamatsuka and those critical darlings of the Japanese noisepop scene, The Boredoms.

I tell you all this not to drop names, or rather not just to drop names, but because if you stand on your head, reading that last paragraph 100 times while huffing nitrous, it just might give you the barest hint of how truly mind-bendingly bizarre this album is. Hardcore techno-cum-industrial-cum-Pink Floyd electronica serves as the expensive velvet divan on which Justin Bond pulls up his skirt, yanks down his panties and takes a reeking dump. He punctuates his lunatic ramblings with screaming outbursts, which are alternately bewildering, hilarious, and sometimes bewilderingly hilarious. Occasionally, Ostertag and Yoshihide's electronics transform Bond's voice into tormented alien yelpings.

On the other hand, what the dedicated modern listener should purchase if s/he wants something edgy but much more, um, normal, is the debut release from Inger Lorre, Transcendental Medication on Triple X records. Inger Lorre was lead singer of the legendary LA band The Nymphs (Jane's Addiction's buddy-band) until she delivered her resignation notice by pissing on the desk of her Geffen A&R guy, winning her the enmity of the entire music business and the adoration of Henry Rollins.

Lorre also is engaged in an ongoing catfight with Courtney Love, who once called her "despicable" and "a fucking star." What more do you need to know? "Waiter, a saucer of milk for the chick with the Hole, please." Transcendental Medication is two parts balls-out rock 'n' roll to one part dirge. The lyrics are honest and nasty. It kicks ass.

Thomas S. Roche is a GettingIt staff writer and the nonfiction editor at Gothic.Net.