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Gomer Black
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sgt.null
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boxing with Bullets
Do you know who Gomer Black is? They are the amount of noise in your head. Have you suffered enough? Can you suffer enough? Gomer Black offers an intriguing and entertaining tour of hip gurus, death coaches, and philosophical advisers.

Abandon your hopes and fears for the future to explore the secrets of Gomer Black. The result is a provocative field guide to your psyche and fears, and an urgently useful book for anyone over thirty. Gomer Black : Boxing With Bullets will help you think about the kind of life you want, and the kind of help you need to achieve it.

Uncertainty Principle

Gomer Black's arc through life could be used to define a boom tube. In the Disco days, they coined the term power lunch. In the Greed decade, they edited equine novels and invented rotisserie cooking. In the Grunge years, they wrote books on finding the good life through minature golf and electronic fishing. And at the end of the decade, they joined an Internet cafe, situated somewhere uptown.

These days, they think about retirement. Particularly about the amount of money they need to have socked away in order to be confident in their post retirement life.

Everyone's viewpoint is different, and though their book is not an especially useful life guide, it is not really meant as a day planner. Instead, it provides an illuminating and oddly charmingly written consideration of their lost generation's useless worries and of the massive entertainment industry designed to profit from them.

Heartfelt discussions of missed goals, downshifting to enjoy life while spending less money and the meaning of the post-grunge life pepper its pages. Disaster planners are interviewed, partly to get information about catostrophy, but mostly to explore the meaning of magnetic fields and the type of people who dabble in manipulating them.

A ew chapters feel scattershot, but their perceptive analyses of fictional people's hopes and strategies will inspire readers to reconsider their attitudes and their methods for dealing with emotional loss.

Bomb Alternative

Thomas Usher currently lives in Boston. He is a desk anchor for a local cable access news program. In the height of early spring he ended a five-year stint as lead guitarist for Tablet Eraser. A job he never could have imagined, in a part of the world that was never part of the plan. And a job that clashed with his other band, Gomer Black.

The unexpected detour started with a phone call on a cold winter afternoon. At that moment he was half in, half out of the workplace-downshifting, as it is called these days. He was living a comfortable life in a pleasant Boston suburb.

A few days a week he worked on articles and a book. On the other days he hopped the Metro North line to Boston, where he had a consulting arrangement at Newbury Comics. His job there was to think up blue-sky projects for rainy days. He spent hours barnstorming ideas for special issues and new projects such as a retirement for grade school kids.

But during those morning and evening commutes he secretly agonized over whether he had enough money socked away to be so casually employed.
He was worried about a number of useless things.

The man on the phone was the vice chairman of the End of Time, at the time a public company with revenues approaching two hundred dollars. End of Time meant very little to him. Like many occasional customers, he viewed it as interchangeable with its archrival, Retro Vamp. Both sold sturdy pepper candy, cardboard bags, and plastic geese. But he did know that End of Time was admired for its folk singers, who dispensed songs from local subway platforms.

The vice chairman wondered whether he had even a remote interest in flying to Austin, Texas, then trekking out to company headquarters in Black Rose, a tiny hamlet some miles west of the capital. Was the vice chairman smoking prairie weed? The idea of Usher in the pajama game was surreal.

The closest he had ever come to the garbage trade was back when he was in Tablet Eraser. He was obliged to take regular trips to Paris and London, where he wined and dined with soundscape designers from Bierce to Crater.

End of Time depended on the farming industry for much of its advertising. Agrarian pages were its commercial lifeblood. Nonetheless, he regarded these trips as only delightful boondoggles, days of wine and children's board games. Once back at the office, the seed catalog pages dropped to the bottom of his priority list. He did not know a placket from a mitered yoke.

As for Texas, had you shown him a map, put a pistol to his head, and asked him to identify the state, he would have straightaway pointed to Utah.

When he told his wife about the End of Time call, she put on her replica Chesterfield coat and, without saying a word, took the dog for a walk. She was gone for so long he began to wonder if she had left him. Texas? Why not New Zealand? Iceland?

First, at the time he believed they had just settled down for the long term. And the reasons to stay put were overwhelming. They were, first of all, well into the middle of middle age. They had kids. They felt strongly that they should grow up rooted to a place. They had chosen the place after much torturous thought and planning.

Second, all of their friends, as well as his wife's family, lived in and around Boston. The only person in Texas whose name he could immediately recall was David Adickes and his wife had never heard of him.

Third, they had pretty much come to accept that their professional years were winding down. Why fight the clock? The graceful thing to do was exactly what they were doing-surrender to their dwindling years.

Fourth, they had just renovated a house barely thirty minutes from midtown, turning its ample garden into just one of the many things they loved about the place.

Fifth, like everyone else they knew, they had aging parents who had doubtless need more care in the years ahead. Texas would take them very far away. Why even think about turning their lives inside out at this stage?

This book is about money, but ultimately it is about the life you want, the life you do not, and the costs of each. For tens of millions of fellow travelers, this is an odd moment, riddled with paradoxes. We are at once old and young, parents and kids, generally prosperous yet uneasy.

For Thomas Usher, this moment evokes a memory-late afternoon, back when he watched the Red Sox play in the final years of decrepit Fenway Park. He remembers how the shadows sliced across the diamond, moving closer and closer to home plate until half the field was in bright sunlight, the other in gathering darkness. It was a really weird time of day.

Prologue: Making Hay

By most standards they were certainly comfortable-not Howard Hughes comfortable, but sufficiently flush that they would never have to worry about setting up house in an empty refrigerator box. But the question of whether they had achieved a sufficient plateau, if they had enough to shelter them from life's jolts, nagged at Usher more days than not.

Welcome To Cubeland

Most of us were told at an early age that it is not nice to talk about music, period. Poetry is also hard to talk about because it holds a different value for each of us. What is good poetry to me is not to you. Poetry is the closest we get to seeing infinity.

Most people are procrastinators. These are men and women who have ignored their chance at immortality. Avoidance is the name of their game, fear of lifestyle relapse.

Why the sloth? Well, some people don't want to think about their own death. Others do not understand how they should regress. All are in limbo, concerned lest they discover they do not have enough to see them through their dotage, or because they can not discuss it with their spouses for fear of starting a dialogue.

Uncertainty Principle, Again.

We feel disconnected about tomorrow. It is not so much future shock as future denial. There are a dozen good explanations for why people are not planning for the next few decades. Call these the Uncertainty Disciples, who will guide the twists of the story to become Reality Warpers. They claim to never understand poetry.

People delude themselves into thinking they are more affluent, better set for the future, than they are. Reality Warpers reshape reality and turn ancient precepts about rhyme schemes upside down. Some people stay in the Lost Years Club forever.

Some just accept it, others deny any connection to reality. They believe that if there was any justice in the world there would be a direct correlation between all the disparate elements in their lives.

Alone At Sea

The impulse to get out the calculator and start planning is most often triggered by the waking dream of an early retirement. This reverie, however, is frequently disturbed by all those nasty questions about how much is too much.

So here you are, your doubles partner is dead, and nobody makes eye contact with you anymore. Suddenly, the bottom falls out of your determined resolve. What time did this end-game start?

The Forest For The Trees

A show of hands, please: how many of you are ready to devote next weekend and many thereafter to arriving at the conclusion that your life may be inadequate and that you are fundamentally clueless as to how to spend your dying years in a meaningful way? Maybe it is your employer's fault?

Crash Helmets Required

Until these three strangers (Gomer Black) showed up, everyone in this book has been unreal, their names withheld to protect the anxious and uncertain. But these three case studies, and a few others to follow, are members of a fictional band. Think of them as crash dummies, here to do you a favor.

They put their futures on the line - to keep you from driving into a brick wall.

The Long Awaited Crash

The fact is that life usually ends quite abruptly.

Covering The Hits

Life is a delicate web of risks, some of which are within your control, some not, and some sort of are. The risks that are sort of within your control are how long you live and whether you live healthfully. Have you flossed your teeth today?

Advice Squad Confidential

Confusion keeps many people awake at night, with only the tree frogs to provide solace, yet most of them refuse to seek professional help. They think they can work it out themselves. Are they kidding themselves?

Night Sweets

There is a giant and unruly music industry out there ready to provide you with support and counsel. While this country may have a shortage of somnambulists, unicyclists, and haiku makers, it certainly does not lack for lead singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers and keyboardists, all eager to make your acquaintance.

Downshifting With Jung
Is your life about cotton candy, or is your life about , fulfillment, and life's true calling?

Sunspots

Thomas Usher is to the American way of retirement what Andy Warhol was to the painted canvas. He is the one who, for better or worse, will hammer together a new American Dream designed expressly, as it turns out, for midlife downshifters.

A Needleman In The Haystack
Is life about downshifting, or is it about something more profound? Are places like Sun City the true destination or just a step in the right direction? Is the life about where we want to be, or who we want to be?

Deep Breathing
Just because you may know how to hum a broken hymn does not mean you can now skip happily out of the cold darkness and into the bright sunshine.

Bottom Lines

Even if there are no universal truths, there are some bottom lines. A bottom line does not reach as far or as wide as a universal truth; think of it as a universal truth you get on sale.

Appendix : On The Quick.

Here is a formula you can use to calculate what your life really is - especially if you know what truly matters. Anchor Thomas Usher's book twice in hopes of finding a nugget, a grain, a granule of worthwhile information. I found none.

My hat is off to the author for good timing and good marketing. He will be able to come closer to his fans by selling this book to those wandering in the void of the endless Gomer Black world tour. I was hoping for some insight on how to reach a magic formula to see into the future. But halfway into the book, I became so depressed I could barely muster the energy to turn the pages.

Clearly, I am completely out of touch--or else the author is. All of the musicians he writes about either support mistresses, or would be suicidal to have to give up their Paris chateaus in retirement. And, he says, there are only four types of fans when it comes to Gomer Black--all of them hopeless romantics. This is helping me how?

In fairness to Usher, I'll admit that I did not read his book to the end. Maybe it gets a lot better in the last pages. But just as I would not sit and listen to someone's narcissistic complaining for hours on end, I just could not hold out long enough to get to whatever reward might be at the end of his book.

So much of his book is taken up with the author's self-absorbed stories and perspectives. He seems to believe that it is a qualification that he left the Boston rat-race to work in the new southwest although he takes a pressure filled job with a major music order company.

Please know that Usher has no qualifications as an author to be offering any sort of informed life advice. And, he has not done any homework to be giving the world his lifestyle advice.

It is a relatively short back and hardly worth anywhere near the steep ticket price. It should have been a magazine article instead and it would have been a mediocre one at that.

Still, I found this book absolutely fascinating. Most books on how much one needs for total contentment focus solely on financials and are oriented towards members of society whose target is reasonably low and who have salvaged little or nothing.

Usher takes a different look at what is required for a happy life while light of goals and aspirations. It is thought provoking. I used his book as part of my research.

This book carries you along easily but poses some serious questions about the emotional aspects of money and life that need to be addressed. He explores our dependency on money and the struggle to put it in the correct place in our lives and our decisions to struggle through our final days.

Anonymous

If you are expecting hand-holding and a paint-by-numbers approach, Usher is not your man. But what it is, is a wake-up call to anyone who figures Uncle Sam will bail you out and fund a lucrative life-style. Look in the mirror. That is who is going to fund your life and if you have yet to get around to it, better get started.

If anything, the author provides numerous reasons to get with it and start preparing for the worst. It is also a well-written exploration of the history of Gomer Black. This fascinating book provides basic biographical information about every year of the band's existance.

Throughout, it reads well, in a breezy magazine style, no surprise given author Usher's illustrious career at End of Time . But be patient: the richest meat of the book is near the end where he gets more specific about what the each of his songs mean.

I received a preview copy of his book as part of a Buzz Campaign. Prior to receiving the book, I expected some guidance which would help lead me to understand more meaningful than something based strictly on blogster's analytics.

While the bulk of the subject matter in this book encourages the reader to look beyond the typical rock narrative. I did not come away with any great new insights. Instead, the book inspired little soul searching and was a reminder that sometimes music is just background noise. Even when you are an established band, life can toss you some surprises.

I this book worth the time to read? Yes. Just do not expect any life changing revelations.
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And death i think is no parenthesis”
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This past Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of The Land of Odd. The musical acts ranged from the reformed Thanks to Gravity to the still plodding Barium.

Choosy Moms started the show as the sun rose over the gathered audience. Following them were Moss, Barium, Daniel Mince, Mousetrap Serenade, X=?, Thanks To Gravity and Vladimir Stag.

Sky of Yogurt played a three hour set! (You can read my review of that show elsewhere.)

By the time dusk crept upon the crowd the buzz had already started. Would Gomer Black really be reforming for this show? Had Thomas Usher and CJ Miller really come to terms for the show?

The crowd was answered with the opening riff of Grey Skies/Sub-Standard. Joining Slusher and Miller on stage were long standing member Dennis Hanson at the drum kit and guitarist Eric Carr!

The twin tones of Carr and Usher propelled the song along, giving it more depth than in previous versions. It was a surprise opening number, having never filled that role before. Usher's voice was strong and steady.

As the band swung into the next song the audience exploded with applause. It was Gutted Sow's Granite Quarry, Miller's long term side project. CJ beamed as he sang. Carr's back-up vocals were a nice counterpoint.

The jazzy number Perhaps followed, giving way to 714 Lemons and a ten minute barn burning Heliocentric. Usher handling vocals on all three. Carr taking the lead guitar parts as Usher settled into the rhythm.

Miller took vocals for the incendiary twins Fingers for Gumby and St.All. The band was now at full gallop. Miller and Hanson were locked in the groove as Carr and Slusher traded kaleidoscopic guitar parts.

Then Miller and Usher picked up acoustic guitars to perform Shock Costive as a duet. And in another shocker they performed the second Gutted Sow number of the night, Amy. CJ taking the vocals for the tribute to his wife.

The full band then drove the crowd wild with an impassioned Clown Pi. Miller's vocals were raw and ragged. Just like old times.

They quickly followed with a trio of Usher songs; Smoke Before Fire, Turn To Surf and Out In the Woods.

Then it was Carr's turn for a lead vocal with Going Through Yesterday. A song form his side project The Authority. A band that both he and Miller have played in. And been fired from.

Usher followed by taking lead on Rogue Sans Arome {his French, flawless} and Rhythm Theory (REM). Carr nailing the jangle of the latter.

Then the crowd were at their feet when Jimmy Couch came out to sing his best known song with the band, Some Are Outside. The band's high energy proving a perfect contrast to Couch's 'dead' vocals.

The band left to thunderous applause only to reappear moments later with Matt Kidd in tow for a life altering version of ...Let the Rain Settle It.

The three guitars of Usher, Carr and Kidd soared as the band stretched the anthem out to a good thirty minutes. Miller and Hanson were in an other-worldly lockstep. Nothing could top this, until...

The band launched into the seldom played Crystal Avatar of the Tenth Plane. Matt's best known contribution from his time in the band.

Matt took the lead vocal and guitar for the complex ode to lost love. But the band took the challenge and delivered a stunning thirtyy minute magnum opus. When they finished the applause went on a good ten minutes as the entire group took to the stage for the adulation.

Even the notoriously shy Couch basked in the love of a satiated crowd. Everyone knowing they had seen transcendence that night.

It was the single best show this reporter has ever seen from them, having ben their since their inception. Everyone on stage seemed to really enjoy themselves and played singularly and cohesively at their very peak. We can only hope this translates into a desire for some version of the group to try their hand at new material. And if fortune finds us fortunate, a new tour.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It took me a while to get to like this one.

At first, it seemed a bit too produced and "poppish" for me, but that soon became the grounds on which I now appreciate it. The production reminds me greatly of The Partridge Family's Jump Pudding: loud guitars with a lot of studio polish and harmonies everywhere. Obelisk is basically a powerpop record, louder than the norm, predating the big powerpop revival in the early 90s. Maybe that's why I get the occasional Satchel vibe when I listen.

Still, I can't say I like Obelisk as much as the best Gomer Black records. There's twenty songs here. Many of them in the same style. A bit excessive and sometimes hard to get through. The break neck space of the previous records is gone in favor of the instruments simply going at their own pace. The emphasis is more on the poppish choruses than ever before.

None of these elements are inherently bad, but it all contributes to the overall repetitive sounding effect this album has. Obelisk, while far from bad, is no Piper At the Gates of Dawn or For the Country or even Rumours.

But many albums aren't and that's no real reason to hold anything against this. Thomas Usher and Cj Miller are still fine songwriters and their healthy appreciation for 60s pop is what they coast on here.

Usher's "Lost Decades" opens the album with a rocking guitar riff, soon joined by leisurely paced bass and drums, finally joined by Usher singing (as opposed to his barking style--somewhat missed here) philosophical lyrics about stopping to smell the roses in life.

Miller's "Charity Begins At Home" follows the same design, but with vocal and sound effects to "pop" the song up even further.

Usher's "Rain In Atlanta" is an absolute classic - with bombastic, bouncing guitar playing and lyrics about being stood up, perhaps even deserving it. Miller goes back to the powerpop well again with "Nowhere Else"--perhaps a bit faster and catchier---before he comes back with "I Stand On the Broken Ice", which starts off dark and melodic, then speeds up into pop-punk number.

After that we are subjected to Miller's first and only real clunker of the record - "Draft Dodger"...a rather trying psychedelic attempt built around an annoyingly repetitive drum beat. There's a fine line between trancy and boring...guess where this one falls.

Many consider "One Or One?", "Allspice" and "Fallen" the trinity of the album...kind of like "Strawman", "Low", and "Amnesiac" off of Autumnal Equinox.

All the songs are slightly speedy powerpop/pop-punk numbers with catchy choruses and loud guitars...all of which remind me so much of the Transitive Verb. "Low" is my favorite of the three, thanks to the great guitar work.

"Sun Blind" is slightly more punkish. Miller's "Tin Balloon" is another classic mid-tempo number, bordering on a sea chanty of all things, with cool drumming and the somewhat psychedelic image of a girl "crossing her heart and burning away".

"Slumber" is decent, beginning the second part of the album, a bit of a darker cousin to "Lost Decades". The band gets into an extremely great groove with "Yesterday's Haze", a definite stand out. It always struck me as rougher and grungier than the rest of the songs.

Unfortunately, I've come to loathe "Oddman". The song itself is fine, but I find the chorus to be really grating. Sorry, Tommy.

"Trumpet", as mentioned elsewhere, is very much straightforward rock and roll...somewhat Jandek-esque.

The finest stretch of songs on this album, though, are the final five. "All Fall Away" is a pretty, moving, almost ballad, perfect when an uplifting pop song is needed on a lonely friday night drive. "180 Degrees" is another blissfully poppy track, cut from the same bouncy cloth as "Rain In Atlanta" and embellished with keyboards. "Uninvited" contains some of Miller's finest lyrics, detailing a couple with "a vacancy of a couple of days".

Usher's final song for Gomer Black, "Hover", is acoustic driven, mixed with loud guitars. Such a style would eventually be ravaged by many mainstream "punk" and "hard rock" acts.

With the wonderful "Forwarding Address", the Gomers inadvertently say their goodbye. It's a truly a great song---great guitar work by Usher and a wonderfully funky bassline from Miller. Cj's lyric---his repetition of "never say goodbye" especially---is particularly beautiful and poignant.

And so ended the run of one of the best bands I've ever heard. Obelisk isn't my favorite Gomer Black record and I really can't say it was the product of the band at it's peak, but it's definitely a good swan song and a very solid, sometimes even great record. Rating wise it probably gets an 8 and perhaps that's being a bit generous considering how overlong and somewhat bloated the album is.

Still, their amount of output in ten years is very impressive, perhaps even more so than that of the Circle Unknown and Obelisk definitely has the song writing edge over their records from the hardcore, pre- Clown Car days.

Interestingly enough, Gomer Black used to play this album from start to finish during their live shows from this period and saved the old songs for the encore. Those must've been interesting shows...
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Last edited by sgt.null on Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:23 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gomer Black by Roy Downs

(There is cult favorite, and then there is myth.)

Are they sociopaths? Do they have the most terrifying voices in rock?

I grew up fifty miles due north of Boston. Thomas Usher grew up seventy-five miles due south. Is this not an accident of geography? Still, Gomer Black revolutionized my life.

My fate is to absorb static bursts of the car radio, even more abstract. It was the first time I decided to part with cash for a record without ever hearing a note.

The dubious pretext of visiting the Aquarium. Such opportunities come along maybe once a year, like a pilgrimage. Or a mission.

A guided missile to the music that promises a transformation. You are in luck. Fractured lyrics and hemorrhaging vocals. What forces you to sit up and take notice? Ravaged grace trauma? The aftermath of self-immolation, burnt out and ashen? Or shiny surfaces scarred by deep furrows of corrosive panic?

What the hell am I thinking?

Music has comforted me, thrilled me, bored me, energized me. Looking for that moment.

It contains feelings both intimately familiar and intensely upsetting: Heavy awakening via unearthly yodels and deranged vocal pirouettes.

Begin by working your way backwards through your expectations. The elliptical, stilted song structures, the artistic attitude expressed in idioms of repetition, rhythms, and even propulsive anger. It should throttle you with a mixture of fascination and aversion.

Early Gomer Black is dark, twisted, violent, sublime, visionary. They quivered with rage; they climbed inside of you and unraveled. It was like absolutely nothing you had ever heard. Set aside for a moment the singularity of the band existing at all.

Thomas Usher and CJ Miller had perfectly complementary voices. The kaleidoscopic guitar of Usher. The ruthlessly powerful rhythm section of Dennis Hansen and Miller.

When you heard them, it was like they dropped in from another dimension. They seemed to have no direct antecedents. Unironically and unapologetically they started as an iconoclastic bands of the nascent scene. They spawned soundalike clones almost immediately after achieving little measure of mainstream success.

Gomer Black remained inimitable. They could not be diluted. Nobody even tried.

Then there is the violence of the lyrics, a fraction more disturbing. Even more unsettling is the gleeful, dissonant, destructive emphasis on the domestic. Searching for a place both dangerous and safe, as eerie as it is reassuring. And placid.ť

Angst appears in almost every song. The comfort of that which is concealed. Making it a necessity to expose the fragile boundary between our ideas of what is normal and that which is monstrous. Gomer Black are the troubadours of the uncanny, bringing home dark secrets into the open and finding solace in minute details.

First notice: the words uncanny, off-kilter, and yes, even deranged. The sheer amount of control it takes to sound so unhinged. The time signatures that turn on a dime, the lyrics delivery flipping from wailing fury to dead calm or unfocused dread.

Dub or burn a copy. There were never any original tapes. You can only find the reissued album of the first compilation. The original demo tapes, yet now out of print. The album floats infinitely in the digital mist, waiting for new generations of minds to blow apart and reassemble into something resembling our original intent.

As fans rejoice, it might only seem odd. After all these years.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On Infinite Wobble, Gomer Black allows that the early influences of psychedelica, folk and classic rock are given more prominence. Thus resulting in an exhausting, schizophrenic, sprawling and challenging album.

And it is a concept album!

The hardcore ferocity of the guitars, on the other hand, has no limits at all. When it comes to the guitar sound. It does not just rock, jangle or cajole. The guitar scorches, raves, thrashes and knocks you off your ass.

The album opens with Something , Better Than Nothing. which is introduced by precise but weird drums, rumbling bass and then that typical, grating guitar sound. Immediately following the opener comes Broken, one of several songs dealing with a dysfunctional family. This song also has a great guitar solo at the end.

Second Hand Clock has a guitar sound you almost could compare to a swarm of delirious bees. Miller really spits out his lines.

Then listen to the scorching assault of Strawman. The lyrical matter (the horror of an urban wasteland) and muffled vocals are a nice contrast to Sojourn, perhaps the single most intense song on the album. The energy and conviction Usher injects in his performance is dazzling, and the fact that the band keeps its focus in a song so filled with emotion, anger, and disillusion is plain astonishing.
That the band is capable of maintaining that energy-level during the next two songs, combined with the knowledge that these songs are all first takes, is further proof of the fact that the band almost did not have any limits at the time.

Forget-Me-Not is a gut-wrenching farewell letter to a former friend/lover. And with Truth Be Told with its steadily accelerating intro is another raving lesson in disillusionment. Finally, the first half ends with their most traditional anthem ...Let The Rain Settle It.

The second half begins with Windowpane. This is followed by Arcwelder and Cubicle (both echoing with isolation.) All are melodic rock songs that roll ahead at maximum distortion. Miller's songs are even more poignant: Empty Vessel and Dark Skies are two haunting tracks that delve into harrowing subjects such as solitude and insecurity, the latter injected with a big dose of melancholy.

Another remarkable tune is the Slusher written Roulette with a unison guitar attack (guest star - Eric Carr) and once again it stresses the concern with pain (both active and passive), a primary theme of the album.

The music is powerful.

Two of the albums heavyweights, however, are Twice This Time and Yellowjacket. The last track on the album is one of the most terribly beautiful songs Gomer Black has ever done, Colliding Circles. A dream-like instrumental with backwards effects, loads of distortion, sudden accelerations and decelerations, fading away into monstrous feedback.

The album covers several themes, the most prominent of them being the experience of growing up and exploring the world, often combined with dysfunctional relationships, break-ups and confusion in general.

There is an ongoing quest for Security going on, a need for hope that is not fulfilled. All of our actions/intentions/hopes are useless from the beginning, but moreover, they are erased immediately afterwards by the weight that is brought upon us by life and relations. The sense of disappointment that permeates this album is almost unbearable.

Infinite Wobble shows the Gomer Black at a transitional and experimental stage, and offers more than a glimpse of what the band was capable of at the time. That it also involves music that is not played by the rules and defies aesthetical rules is part of the package. In this case it is the big picture that counts. The album is in turns exciting, ambitious, intense, rewarding and, in the end (despite the disillusionment and disappointments that infuse many of the songs) life-affirming.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sugar Buzz was released when Gomer Black had just signed to a major label and many fans were wary of a sell-out. Well, a sell-out did not happen. If anything Sugar Buzz is significantly less commercial than Head Full of Bees and that was probably a large part of the reason the record company didn't get behind it as much.

The pop bliss of Head Full of Bees is traded in for a mostly slower, sometimes droning sound. The upbeat melodies of the prior album are replaced with a more layered, gloomy sound. As it stands, Sugar Buzz is their most depressing album. Infinite Wobble, while gloomy, was also epic and uplifting somewhat. Sugar Buzz is mostly straight out misery with a slight reprieve (Summer In Paris Green) towards the end. Perhaps it was a bit too much.

The opener Anthem must've come as a shock. It's a slow, dirgey sort of number with an extremely angry Thomas Usher screaming gloomy, apocalyptic lyrics. Not only is it one of Gomer Black's most visceral songs, but it very much made a statement; Gomer Black were going to be just as uncompromising on a major label. as they were on Moth & Rust.

CJ Miller's Icarus In the Fog is the fastest song on the record and rocks the most out of any of the songs here. Dennis Hanson's fast drumming, Miller's melodic bass, Usher's melancholy guitar line combine with Miller's lyrics detailing the aftermath of a broken relationship all come together to make the song work. I especially like the breakdown in the middle of the song.

Usher's Judas Dog slows things down to normal speed and strikes me as a more angst-ridden rewrite of Judas Waiting at the Bus-Stop, though crashing powerchords replace Hansen's drum solo. it manages to support the mood created by the first two songs and bleeds well into the next one.

Hopeful Monsters is a nice left turn, however. On top of the brisk, powerchord-driven punk number is an ORGAN of all things, giving the song a nice lush, flowing feel. Maybe you could even call Hopeful Monsters the punk/alternative equivalent of Hey Jude if you want to go that far. In any event, it's yet another great song, lyrically giving another perspective on the themes present in Anthem. While the prior song was written from the perspective of a guy who was sympathetic to his ex-lover's emotional state (though ultimately unbudging), the narrator of Hopeful Monsters is more angst-ridden and less sure of himself. Topped off with Miller's passionate vocal performance and a great guitar break by Slusher and we have ourselves yet another classic Gomer Black song.

After that left turn, we get yet another. A bunch of weird Indian sounds serve as an intro as just Thomas Usher and his acoustic guitar rise up from it, beginning Red Brick . On paper the lyrics may seem ordinary, even cliche, but Thomas brings them to life with an extremely passionate performance and makes you live them. It's pure emotional despair without a hint of irony. It seems as if Thomas just sat down with his guitar and wrote the song completely from his gut.

Continuing in the ballad vein is the full band Tesla Downtime. It's the longest song on the album, the most mellow, and much more lyrically than Red Brick. It's also just as emotional, though perhaps in a more resigned way. The emphasis is on the tragedies of life; from the bad things that happen to our friends, to people we barely know and the unavoidable deaths of our loved ones. The keyboard solo and the brooding bassline are just icing on the cake.

The band takes a turn back to the loud with CJ Miller's slow burning Toxic Lemon Crush. Musically, it's pretty repetitive and the lyrics seem to concern abandoning a bad job. Kind of out of place considering the emotion and depressive mood of the six prior tracks.

Thomas Usher's Summer In Paris Green though, is a total reprieve from the album's mood (though it arguably never sustains it again after Tesla Downtime) and it works out well. Pure pop sweet as all hell in the verses and fast in the chorus, Thomas tells the whimsical tale of a girl who seemingly takes a much needed vacation.

Yet another stylistic detour is taken with CJ Miller's Pencil Cup which starts as a gentle piano ballad with oblique lyrics (kind of reminding me of R.E.M.'s Perfect Circle) and sometimes ear splitting vocals. It manges to sucessfully merge pretty piano and noisy feedback I really like near the end when the bass and drums kick it, giving the song a more rock and roll sort of boost. It's too bad the Gomers didn't attempt anymore ballads after this. They were (unsurprisingly) good at it.

The final track Helicopters is a nostalgic look back to Usher's childhood. It's a stellar cap off to a damn good album. A very underrated song in the band's extensive catalogue.

Overall, though, Sugar Buzz is a good album, a notch or two below their best work. The song-writing is still strong, but not quite as consistently so, and the band was very much willing to expand sonically on this one. Perhaps the band's greatest accomplishment on this record was proving they could turn down the speed and volume on certain songs. Sure, there were songs like Garrison and Quarry Song before but this is the first Gomer Black release where the band put emphasis on it.

During the Blind Man's Bluff/Head Full of Bees era, the band would take out acoustic guitars after their regular sets and play unplugged versions of their songs to indifference or outright scorn.

Still, they could have written a couple more great songs for this album. Judas Dog and Toxic Lemon Crush could have been replaced with better songs. The best moments on the album make up for it well, however, and the album as a whole is certainly works despite the songs.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You remind me of someone I knew, who was ready to give his life for a place he himself didn't even believe in.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord Foul wrote:
You remind me of someone I knew, who was ready to give his life for a place he himself didn't even believe in.


hile troy?

btw - working on long Gomer post...
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clown Tornado (song)

Music sample
Clown Tornado is a song written by CJ Miller, credited to Usher and Miller, and recorded by Gomer Black on their eponymous debut. A product of Miller's deliberate effort to create a sound as loud and dirty as possible, the, long, clangorous piece has been noted for both its proto-metal roar and unique textures.

Writing and inspiration
Miller was inspired to write the song after reading a Folk Player magazine interview with The Authority’s Eric Carr where he described their latest single, “The Sky is Falling", as the loudest, rawest, dirtiest song the Authority had ever recorded. Miller then wrote Clown Tornado to be the most raucous vocal, the loudest drums, et cetera. And said he was "using the symbol of a tornado as a ride from the top to the bottom; the rise and fall of the Morning Star—and this was the fall, the demise." Miller has used this song as a response to critics who accuse him of only novelty songs.

Two days before the release of Gomer Black, Miller gave Radio Henniker an exclusive interview, in which he commented on several of the album’s songs. Speaking of Clown Tornado, he said: "Umm, that came about just 'cause I'd read a review of a record which said, 'and this group really got us wild, there's echo on everything, they're screaming their heads off.' And I just remember thinking, 'Oh, it'd be great to do one. Pity they've done it. Must be great — really screaming record.' And then I heard their record and it was quite straight, and it was very sort of sophisticated. It wasn't rough and screaming and tape echo at all. So I thought, 'Oh well, we'll do one like that, then.' And I had this song called Clown Tornado which is just a ridiculous song. So we did it like that, 'cuz I like noise."

Recording
Gomer Black recorded the song many times during sessions for their debut During the 18 July sessions, a version of the song lasting 30 minutes was recorded, although this version is rather slow and hypnotic, differing greatly from the volume and rawness of the album version. Another recording from the same day, originally 13 minutes long, was edited down to 4:36 for a possible single release. On 9 September, 18 takes of approximately five minutes each were recorded, and the last one is featured on the original LP. Around 3:40, the song almost fades out, then quickly fades back in with three cymbal crashes.

Critical reaction
The song has been covered by a number of bands and praised by critics, including Roy Downs of the Concord Monitor. Downs called it "one of [the] fiercest and most brutal rockers done by anyone" and "extraordinary." Eric Carr was critical, calling it "ridiculous, Miller shrieking weedily against a massively tape-echoed backdrop of out-of-tune thrashing." Maureen Angwin said the song will "scare and unsettle" listeners, citing "Clown Tornado's "obsessive nature" and "undercurrent of violence", and noted "Cjl's savage vocal delivery" as reinforcing this theme.

In a interview, Usher said, "That's CJ completely . . . It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all to do with me."


In March 2005, New Hampshire Underground magazine ranked "Clown Tornado" number 17 in its list of the 10 Greatest Guitar Tracks.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gomer Black Discography

A Simple Cut (bootleg)

Copper Rose (double)

Autumnal Equinox (ep)

Gomer Black I

Decompression (ep)

Infinite Wobble (double)

Treehugger

Head Full of Bees

Sugar Buzz

Obelisk (double)

Continue With Exodus

Vile/Live/Evil/Veil (double live)

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

the Land of Odd Concert (3 sides live)

Blind Man's Bluff

Mesmer vs the Fish
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Simple Cut

Gomer Black, their fantastic, artistic addictions and creativity led them to record some of the most visceral, emotional, face-sandblasting hardcore sounds in the world -- until they slowed down and started jangling all over creation. You will now find singer/guitarist Thomas Usher retired from Low Picasso, vocalist/bassist CJ Miller retired from Gutted Sow and drummer Dennis Hansen enjoying playing in studio with a host of bands.

Granted, they were very young at the time they recorded this but that's no excuse for taking the blistering, innovative sound of punk rock and turning it into a slow, boring mess of happy love balladry. There are five songs on here. If you're unfamiliar with Dog Chain it's basically an early Phil Spector type of produced, throwaway, girl-group type, ballad B-side. And this six-song Gomer Black demo has two songs that sound just like it. That's my point, really. No need to get excited, man.

I'm not sure who is singing lead on these tracks, but it's about a million miles away from the gruff screaming and yelling that would drive Copper Rose a couple years later. Instead, whoever it is sings in a wispy, uncertain warble of perfectly pitched teen boredom.

Lyrically, only one song really stands out, Aqua Regia. Elsewhere, Dog Eared Photograph is straight out of a sock hop movie and Pravda Cola sounds just like Dog Chain. But the final two tracks (Faded and Abandoned) actually DO manage to kick up a little punk rock dust. During the choruses anyway - Instrument wise, you've got a bass in one speaker, a fuzzy out of tune guitar in the other, and a warped sounding lead guitar occasionally playing a few rudimentary licks on top. Background wise, you've got five songs recorded by amateurs in the basement of a record store.

But does this bootleg carve a brighter day out of yesterday's tomorrows? Well, each day is a dream that is dying. Now, as we see a little grey in the mornings.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Copper Rose

I am all for recording on the cheap, but did anybody actually llisten to this wash of static noise before sending the album out to record stores? It sounds like it was recorded in a cave by the midnight ocean. This debut Gomer Black LP was recorded live in front of an audience of young people who really just wanted to hear some foul-tasting ammonia.

Recorded live with an awful mix. It's very hard to listen to all the way through, and you're talking to a guy who sleeps on a pillow made out of volcanic dust and airplane engines! It's fast and energetic, but it's very hard to actually hear the riffs. You can hear the bass notes, but the guitar sounds like it's pumping out of an amplifier the size of a small am/fm radio.

Seriously - the guitar just sounds like a trebly, tuneless vacuum cleaner. The drums on here sound like one cymbal and an irregular heartbeat. And three different grown men yell lyrics tunelessly. Recorded live and so poorly that the songs all run together and sound identical until you've heard it hundreds of times. At that point, you will realize what a wide selection of chord-oriented riffs it contains. These are great and ridiculously fast hardcore riffs. And the drummer is extremely talented, accenting melodic changes that most drummers would completely ignore, giving the band a weird, herky-jerky, painfully fast and rigid feel.

Impossible to listen to, unless you are deaf and you like loud music that shakes you and the walls around you. Nice song titles though. The last song brings a change : Needles in a Needle Stack, I really like that one.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Autumnal Equinox

Gomer Black recorded a great punk rock/hardcore mini-album called Autumnal Equinox, 4 songs in 9 minutes, it was recorded in a studio and demonstrates exactly how manic and amazing the band really was when you could make out what they were playing. Thomas Usher's guitar tone revealed itself as a sparkling, warm, fuzzy, orange blast of brushwire warm-to-screaming, swinging, chorus that are ringing, mesmerizing bottomless peals of anguish.

Dennis Hansen suddenly showed himself to be one of the most on-the-ball punk rock drummers in the Universe, locking with amazing fury and rigidity onto his bandmates' herky-jerky adrenaline-defying riff changes and making them into even more than they could or should be -- by his sheer smarts, speed and strength. For examples, check out his military chug-a-long in Clown Tornado -dude, he IS the song! The other guys almost are just supporting him on this great tune!

Or the unexpectedly harsh sped-up pounding; matching the chorus of Low. The line-ending three-stomps and grindcore blastbeats of Amnesiac. As he so often (in that song among many others) leads the music into faster and faster and unspeakably faster territory, almost as if he is purposely hitting the chord changes early in order to force Usher and Miller to keep up with him. And they do! Man, what a unit. A powerful, angry, brilliant, driving blast of hardcore punk rock energy. And we already knew Miller was a great bassist, so his weirdo contributions to otherwise give-or-take tunes aren't all that surprising.

So that's what Autumnal Equinox was. Four beautiful and maniacal hardcore tunes. Unfortunately, it came out on a tiny record label and was impossible to find for years.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gomer Black I

I got this LP sometime well after college, so it doesn't have the same nostalgia for me as Tree Hugger or Head Full of Bees. And this LP doesn't show the depth, complexity or variety that other LPs would; this is straightforward, hard-core punk. The production is thin and biting. And the songs are short, furious, and rarely last much over two minutes. I wish I had heard this LP when it came out, it would have made a huge impression on me then.

But even still, this is a surprisingly good LP to listen to today. It is mostly angry punk music, but a few glimpses of their future, more melodic sound peek through in a few songs, like Exodus, Shock Costive and Direct It Upwards. So while this LP stays well within its genre, it is a genre that Gomer Black helped create. Many fans think Gomer Black began with Infinite Wobble but if you're in the mood for a ferocious blast of energy, then give this LP a listen.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Decompression

Decompression keeps the hardcore coming . Let's stop for a moment and discuss hardcore music. It is fast. It is exciting. It is loud. It is fun! It is distorted. It is empowering. And when done well - really, really well - it is emotional and smart and brilliantly performed. At this point in their career, Gomer Black were the kings of hardcore. Usher sounds like the angriest, most anxiety-ridden screaming pill-popping schizophrenic weirdos in musical historywith eye-gouging ass-kicking anthems of desperation and bitterness like Faded and Father.

Especially appreciated tby me personally are Usher's spiteful words against such sick societal subsegments as violent anarchists, impotent pacifists and hopeless alcoholics.

And sure, Usher doesn't provide any alternatives to these ways of living, but at least he's a really clever wordsmith when telling them off. While at the same time bringing in some melodic pop elements -the unforgettable singalong chorus to Deja Vu the soaring guitar intro/break of Faded. And the American hardcore co-opting of Irish beer-drinking anthemics in the chorus of The Five W's. See, I don't mind pop elements. I don't even mind pop music. I just personally feel that Gomer Black were a better pure hardcore band than they were a pure pop band.

And it's too bad that Copper Rose was recorded and mixed so horribly, because it too would likely have been a great hardcore album given the opportunity. Instead fans usually give one listen, then store it on the shelf.

Perfect poisoned pop. You would be right to notice that Thomas Usher is singing perfectly for this kind of methamphetamine record. Here they put some surprising good sense in the words of Faded balanced with the apocalyptal Deja Vu. Usher's explosive riffs and solos are often the gateway that lure the listeners in, leaving them with a pleasant afterbuzz.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Infinite Wobble

I need to address something off-topic. A woman on the Norse Code message board writes, "This guys biggest problem is that he seems to think he is some sort of genius. I think he is closer to crackpot than maverick. When the writing style obscures the message, it is time to edit."

Infinite Wobble is one of the most ambitious and successful hardcore punk creations of every time. And the impact of all that physical strain, mental drain and emotional pain comes through in a blazing set of screaming, anguished high-speed distorted blasts of unforgiving and unforgettable musical violence. Depending on what kind of person you are, the relentless amphetamine-and-anxiety attacks of classics like Something, Better Than Nothing, Forget Me Not, Arcwelder and the unbelievable ...Let the Rain Settle It, will either fill you with the greatest existential panic you've ever imagined or provide an exhausting catharsis to the pent-up aggression that you keep bottled up inside as bosses, teaches and peers take daily metaphorical hits on the apex of your psyche.

But Gomer Black are not Lord Insomnia, and would never leave you hanging onto your rope, both hopeless and helpless. Following seventeen tracks of alienation, fear, depression, confusion, political corruption, social conformity and overdose death, they look the darkness in the face and declare atop a harrowing backwards track, "Colliding circles don't keep me in..."

Though not every song on here would be classified as "hardcore punk," every track is "informed" by that genre. Second Hand Clock is acoustic, but it's as bitter, pissed-off and emotional as any hardcore tune. Sojourn is just Love Me Do done up all psychedelic, but it's warped enough to fit right in. Even the short instrumental piano pieces and guitar pop songs are ribs-deep in angst-driven desperation for a true connection with another person. I sure as hell felt this need as a troubled youth, and I imagine a lot of people do.

Broken, Truth Be Told, Cubicle - these are not happy songs about a wonderful life in the suburbs. They are howling shrieks of rage at a world that is more concerned with getting rich and coked up than being honest and caring. And granted, most hardcore albums do this. But very few are as emotionally effective and melodically memorable. And it ends with thirteen minutes of hardcore/jazz fusion!

Infinite Wobble is an unfocused, rambling, lunatic mess, but oh my gosh are there some great songs here! Can't you just feel the depth of Thomas Usher's rage in Something, Better Than Nothing. And following that with what might be my favorite Gomer's song, Second Hand Clock. A song so incredibly simple and just seething in rage, all with only CJ Miller and an acoustic guitar! And it ends with 13 minutes of the free jazz/punk bastard offspring of Colliding Circles - that repeating guitar riff's completely ingrained in my mind.

I got troubled the first time I listened to Infinite Wobble. Then I got used to it and now get knocked down everytime I put it. Yes, this album is the answer. Jewels of anguished, realistic and desperate angry young men. It is a breakthrough album, about finding your own way , an initiation album. Sharp, speed-driven and serious. Idealistic too . Catching some spirits of the Sixties; a double album, echoes of frustration, some improvisation and melodies all melding in a new storm and thunder. It should be considered as a lodestone in violent music history.

By the way, Usher completely kicks ass on his instrument. He's the Eddie Van Halen of punk rock--seriously. He just takes a slightly more abrasive guitar tone and solos in the twelve-tone scale, not the pentatonic. But. after all of that, wow! Unbelievably fast fingers on the fretboard. If more underground guitar players (for that matter, more mainstream guitar players too) had this man's skill and technique (not to mention his melody writing), the Eighties would have been a far better decade. I expected him to be just another college-art-school, raw, unskilled minimalist with a serious hangover. How wrong I was. How wrong I was.

This ain't a complete masterpiece, kids, but it is proof that punk rock can be serious, non-nihilistic, un-annoying, emotional, and pretentious to a good degree without losing any of its ass-kickage or pure rocking power. And some of it sounds like today's music!! This is the foundation for the grunge generation. Much other Eighties underground rock is just dadaist and annoyingly ivory-tower--this is stuff we all can relate to. Get this first, alternative nation kids, if you want to get introduced to the underground.

Infinite Wobble is one of the best albums I've heard - certainly among the absolute top-dollar best of the Eighties, and outdoing much of what passed for alternative in the Nineties. The amount of pure songwriting genius, musical chops, and pure emotion these guys had is truly fearsome. Thomas Usher screams harder and better than Henry Rollins and plays guitar better than David Gilmour while he's at it (and I'm just talking solos here - riffs are a joke in front).

Cj Miller sails along with the bass in the background - he's the real grounding of the band - and Dennis Hansen plays drums faster than Speed Racer drives and sings like a punk Paul McCartney. I mean, how could you lose with a band like this? True, they weren't nearly this good before (although the Decompression EP was a prime indicator that they were much more than the average hardcore band), but this kind of great leap forward is something that happens to only the most talented rock bands. Something, Better Than Nothing is a classic opener, and introduces the Gomer Black sound - thin, but hellaciously fast drums, neatly strummed bass, a cloud of hissing, white-noise-edged guitar distortion, and Usher's hard-edged, righteously angry vocals.

Along the way, this basic sound - Gomer Black's version of hardcore - is molded into different forms, taken to different places, sometimes pushed to the breaking point, exploded, and always granted the gleam of true, unerring melodicism. There are too many highlights to count, but my favorite songs are Second Hand Clock, Dark Skies and Yellowjacket.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Treehugger

Many fans consider Treehugger to be a big letdown. How dare they carry us to such dizzying heights with Infinite Wobble and then follow it up with a bunch of messy pop songs with no emotional resonance at all? Actually, it's not a bad record - but it is their weakest yet. In an attempt to create a happier, more positive and poppy record, they've made the guitar tone even treblier than before while robbing it of its growling anger undertones. So now it just sounds like the sun itself has entered a recording studio and put together some tunes.

The drum sound is fragile (not Hansen's fault; just bad production) and most of the vocals are incredibly awkward, sung either way out-of-key or mumbled/half-spoken decibels quieter than the music.On the melody side; too many of these "pop" songs are either irritatingly cheery or so experimental and incomplete that they're impossible to get into.

Take Clown Pi for example. Excellent anthemic chorus, definitely! But the rest of the song is a slow sloppy batch of clumsy chords and nearly inaudible vocals. Take Down as well. It's kind of a neat angry little buzzy thing, but for some reason they drag it out into raging feedback and guitar noise. Basically, the whole album sounds like a demo. Nothing sounds finished or even completely written. But then, it was their first attempt at straightforward pop songwriting.

Infinite Wobble got the Gomers on the radar and this album secured their place in history. If they merely followed up that double with experimental and incomplete irritatingly cheery tunes, the Gomers would be a blip on the radar like, say, Neptune of Tests. They didn't of course, and Tree Hugger remains either number one or two in the Gomer's catalog.

And now a quick comment about the production: It's an accurate reflection (for better or worse) of how the trio sounded live. Hansen's cymbals were way up in the mix and only managed a meager tipity tap with a little bit of bass drum thrown in to help Miller keep time. Meanwhile Usher's Epiphone sliced through everything leaving us with a low buzz for days after the show. It's no wonder that the vocals sounded buried...They were thanks to Usher. And while the band's tinny sound can caused a bit of listener fatigue, it remained a characteristic that most fans actually grew to appreciate over time.

The Return and A Letter are essential post-punk tracks with most of the remaining album just a few measures behind. Road To Nowhere does seem out of place. Madison Avenue briefly lets the listener know that the Gomers actually had a bass player before running into a melody that sounds like a lift from a pop hit from around the same time.

Good album! It could have been a great album, though. Why not a great album? For one, the production is really bad. The mastering in particular being almost non-existant, making it sound almost like one big noisy instrument. No big deal though. At it's best, the big noisy instrument is still playing a lot of awesome melodies with plenty of emotional resonance.

But at it's worst, it churns out some completely unnecesary throwaway tracks. I don't really need to hear Twenty Below, Power Outage, Dreaming Starts Now or Years of Cynical Spin. They either bore me or annoy me. So I hit the skip button when they come around. That said : The Return, Echo & Narcissus, A Letter and Madison Avenue are all gorgeous songs and definately some of my favorite Gomer Black songs ever. But there's also stuff like Sick where the ride cymbals are lost in the overdubs! Most of the album sounds cool, the melody is good, but Usher's vocals are often muffled. And at other times the album begins to drag. The production is a lot to deal with, and there's too much filler, so listening to the entire album in one sitting can be irritating.

I was disappointed with this one. I think the Gomers were one of the best melodic hardcore bands ever, and i consider Infinite Wobble and Decompression to be gorgeus, classic albums. And i've finally grown to like Sugar Buzz. But when I listened Treehugger a couple months ago, I found it dull. The vocals are unfocused, the songwriting is uninspired, the (guitar) sound isn't very good. I actually like some guitar arrangements but there isn't a hit of the caliber like Windowpane, Arcwelder or Dark Skies here , so I don't understand why it is regarded as their finest record. If i had bought this album first, maybe i wouldn't be interested in the rest of the Gomers catalog (and sadly, I wouldn't know what i'd be missing!).

No, the problem with Gomer isn't that they play too fast. That is wrong. It is that Hansen wanders too much. You can't hear it right away because of the sheer speed they're going at. But tap your toe to the beginning tempo of 400 and you'll be about two measures behind by the thirty-second mark. He rushes the damned fills. A matter of simple execution.

The drums need more of a garage reverb on them, so the music sounds heavier. And the guitar, despite being so treble-laden that it has an orange hue (as opposed to Infinite Wobble's lavender hue.)

But songs aside, what truly impresses me here is the band's understanding of how to make an album work as a cohesive whole. Here's the textbook example of three musicians who have no idea of how to sing listenably, have no recording budget, no interest in being gentle or sophisticated. They recorded their entire album in a garage in the space of ten hours on a combination of leftover vapor fumes and severe acid, and by all rights shouldn't be calling themselves artists, pioneers, or anything important of any kind. And yet they managed to create a monumental piece of music all the same, one that can impress enormously without losing any of its sloppy underground rush job status at all. AND that manages to overcome its handful of bad songs.

And crazily enough, my favorite tune on here is one of bad songs. Down is an overlong uber-noisy jam session that just seems to wander aimlessly. It has bad vocals, bad production, bad songwriting. and yet, all I can think on that song is, it has an understated grace and power. And it ends the exact same way Colliding Circles ended. That's cool. Why don't all albums end that way? They would better if they did.

My only real complaint? Almost no guitar solos. What the hell, Usher? But I am glad that not all of the songs are played at warp speed. Although the treble sounds like hell, which I normally don't like, but it fits the music here well. This is white-hot emotional feedback-induced nirvana. Yes, it drops off towards the end, but A Letter is an absolute mindblower!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Head Full of Bees

I would like to personally thank CJ Miller for ruining what could have been a perfect album with three of the objectively, non-biasedly worst songs he has ever written. Head Full of Bees, happy sloppy Trumble Thru Aether and moronic, out-of-tune Does It Slow You Down?

Now I can concentrate on what a brilliant absolute gas the rest of this amazing album is. The mix is a billion times stronger than the last album; the vocals are confident, loud and melodic; the songwriting is Sixties Nuggets guitar rock beauty pumped through Eighties electric distorted sheen; and it's not just a bunch of happy wimpy lo-fi fluff! It's pop, yes, but with intensity and drive and emotion. Lots of darkness too. Highs and lows abound, from the cathartic uptempo bombast guitar repetition Heaven of Gutters Have Gravity to the ringing drama of Sugarbuzz. to the hypnotic, blissful, frightened drone of She Answers Slowly to the beautiful but eerie balladry of The Empty Field.

Gomer Black, and Thomas Usher in particular -- create extremely emotional music. And I don't mean music that uses generically "sad" or "angry" notes and chord sequences to evoke an easily-predictable listener response (like a movie soundtrack.) I mean that he sounds like he's living the songs he sings, and is willing to shred his throat to pieces to make sure you understand that his feelings are not just for your entertainment, and both he and Miller possess the creative intelligence to put together guitar notes and chords in new ways that still evoke in the listener those same old feelings of dread, butterflies in the stomach, hopelessness, manic glee and all points in between. And this is the reason generic happy pop songs that would sound perfectly good coming from lesser bands end up disappointing me to such a degree when coming out of Gomer Black.

Both Obelisk and Treehugger contain too many songs that are just that - songs. Gomer Black were better than that - they had much, much more to offer than Beatlesque verse/chorus constructions that anyone from Nerf Heaven to Daniel Mince could pull off. And maybe it's unfair of me to judge their "okay" tracks so harshly, but how can I not? How can I pretend that Does It Slow You Down? has a reason to exist when the beautiful piano instrumental J Drift 43 is on the same album? How can I enjoy an Sky of Yogurt-cheery throwaway like Lost Decades when I know that they're capable of Infinite Wobble.

So really, it's their own damn fault. You stick four songs as amazing as The Empty Field, Light Trespass, Gutters Have Gravity and She Answers Slowly right in the middle of your album, and you're right that the rest of the album is going to pale in comparison, no matter how good it would sound on its own. I try to listen rationally though. Even if I have to listen to the songs individually or in the wrong order to really work out their interior charms.

Personally I prefer Treehugger. Okay it gets really dull towards the end but then so does this. Head Full of Bees is like Chinese water torture while Trumble Thru Aether has possibly the worst vocals ever. ! I don't care for the instrumental either as it goes absolutely nowhere. That said I love Perhaps, Light Trespass and The Empty Field which is just beautiful and undoubtedly one of Usher's very best. Gutters Have Gravity and She Answers Slowly are also really good as well. That's like half a great album. The Gomers major problem was always consistency but I still love them for all the good stuff they made. Even though they did give us an album as bad as Obelisk.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Head Full of Bees single

Now, we'd be crazy to not recognize Thomas Usher's fuzz- guitar tone within seconds of the intro of Bog Rd. but does that mean it deserves to steal thunder from the the bass intro for this awe-inspiring New Hampshire-via-LSD travelogue? That's a question we'll have to leave for the muddy anthropologists and song surgeons who exist long after our lives reach their denouement on this immortal planet. For now, it can only be enough to say that it does do such a thing, right or wrong. Probably right, since a intro is a intro after all, and not always original. A cover can give the players a chance to roam. I did enjoy the screaming blasts of orange noise.

Head Full of Bees is the exact same version you can find on the full length. The first b-side is a live rendition of Shining Wire from the "lost" Gomer album, Jack Nothing. The second b-side is an adorable singalong-pop cover of that Acid Cool Blues' favorite, Granite Quarry.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sugar Buzz

Sugar Buzz! Is it possible that Thomas Usher been listening to Third Album? Some of these songs sound like Third Album! The endlessly steadily driving uptempo riff and no-empty-spaces wash of open and closed chord combination - you'll be set for life with chuggling Neil Young-style trains of distorted creative chord sequences to bring a haze to your eyes and a fever to your heart attack.

But let's discuss Sugar Buzz. The guitar tone is completely impotent - a ludicrously trebly bright orange tone with no power at all. But many of the songs retain a dark minor-chord mood and uptempo rhythm that would go swell with the breakup of a doomed romance.

Half of these songs are as great as anything the band has ever written, and the other half are comparable but slightly lesser versions of same. The main problem with the record, is that most of the songs sound fairly identical, mainly because of the static guitar tone (so high-pitched you have to concentrate really hard to make out the parts where Usher is playing notes instead of chords). Featuring two acoustic songs : Summer In Paris Green and The Movie Was Fine, which rides on a beautiful line-ending piano/acoustic heartbreaker chord, but drags on and on and on for seven minutes.

If there is something about this album I like, I think it would be the general uptempo/simplistic feel, wall of guitar sound (bright orange is just one way to describe it) that they use, they almost sound like R.E.M. But they also, sparingly, use a piano and an acoustic guitar. It's a great album, even if it's a pointer to their (much) weaker Obelisk.

Miller's Hopeful Monsters and Icarus In the Fog are both fine songs. But by contrast Usher is really starting to sound short of ideas. I actually think Tesla Downtime is his best song on here even if it is a bit too long and repetitve. Anthem is also pretty good and a cool way to start their sell out period. However Usher's other songs really aren't up too much. Judas Dog is a poor imitation of better, distant songs while Helicopters and Red Brick are about about the most forgettable songs the guy has ever written.

Know what I think? I think this album is where Dennis Hansen fell apart as a drummer. Granted, the mix doesn't help him at all, because he's all about instinct and flurry and his super-clean separation between bass drum and snare, with cymbals hissing and twinkling distantly behind. It's guaranteed to show up his many flaws. The amount of dropped beats, clogged fills and shattered punchlines make this record really difficult to listen to. I think it's Pencil Cup where he almost falls off his stool in the first four bars. by Obelisk he was ruined, or at least so changed from the percussive volcano of old as to be unrecognisable.
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