A Frames: A Frames (S-S/Dragnet, 2002)
Hasil Adkins: Haze’s House Party EP (Norton, 1986)
1. In August 2002, my wife and I landed in Seattle in the middle of a rambling road trip, and by chance wandered into a compilation-release party at the very cool Re-Bar. There were tons of bands on the bill, all playing 20-minute sets, and most of it was a blur… but one trio, A Frames, made a real impression: robotic and noisy, with a sort of bored/steely stage affect that kept me tuned in from start to finish. So I bought this CD after their set. It’s a short, sweet slab of minimalist noise-punk. Dissonant, interlocking guitar and bass riffs; rudimentary but absolutely dead-on drumming; unaffected vocals that slip between monotone and sweetness (!) while spinning aphoristic evocations of modern dread. “Hostage Crisis,” “Electric Eye,” and “Nobot” (and the latter’s “dub” version, “333333333”) are standouts for me, but there’s not a weak moment (and with 11 tracks in just over 25 minutes, no time for that anyway.)
2. One of my biggest rock-and-roll regrets is never having gotten to see Hasil (pronounced “hassle”) Adkins perform. From all reports and the slew of YouTube videos floating around, he was a force of nature. From the 1950s until his death in 2005, he logged countless recordings of his skewed take on rockabilly, many at his home studio in West Virginia, most as a one-man-band, and pretty much entirely focused on the down-and-dirty side of livin’. Total rawk mythology, and totally great. This 7” EP collects 4 cuts from the early ‘80s: raucous and weird rave-up “Dottie Dottie,” the brooding “Sex Crazy Baby,” shoulda-been-dance-craze theme-song “Do the Hot Pants With Me,” and his hysterical riff on “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” It’s a house party, y’all.
THOUGHTS FOR LATER:
- Re A Frames, I am SUCH a sucker for simple-but-discordant musical ideas. Interesting to reflect on how much of my compositional “voice” is informed by post-punk and noise-rock, even if it doesn’t sound much like any of that (unless it does, but I dunno).
- Re Hasil, time to hunker down on that book proposal. But not today — it’s almost 80°F and sunny and breezy up in these mountains, and man, it’s been a cold winter.