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The Notes + Bolts Interview Series

231: Smokin Betty Ultra Sally

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1.) Smokin Betty Ultra Sally – Cookie Cutter’s Dream
2.) White Mystery – Jungle Cat
3.) Smokin Betty Ultra Sally – One and Two
4.) The Lemons – Best Day
5.) Smokin Betty Ultra Sally – No Name
6.) Smokin Betty Ultra Sally – Laying Low
7.) todayshits – Number Four
8.) Smokin Betty Ultra Sally – Holy Roller

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There Are No Stars 001 – Gnar Wave Rangers

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gnarwaverangers

Gnar Wave Rangers
#GetNastyandRich
Self Released

Last night, I got an email from a Cody Carpenter. The subject line was a simple hashtag, “#GetNastyandRich”. I groaned. Opening the email, I was greeted with a collaged set of photos showing what I presumed to be the band’s members – dubbed The Gnar Wave Rangers – in various states of pose and inhalation with cigarettes.

“Look at this shit,” I said as I handed my phone over to Mellie, who at this point, was too involved in a game of Candy Crush Saga to ask why I’d spent the last twenty seconds half sighing and half snickering.

“This looks terrible,” she sneered as she gave the phone back and returned to her game.

What are the Gnar Wave Rangers? Are they tacky white boys trying to appropriate hip hop culture – and badly – or are they doing some faux glam thing that I’m just not getting? The video attached was called ‘Pornoland’ with a thumbnail capturing a screenshot of one of the group’s members, along with a female companion, engaging a blow up doll in a three way hump session.

Nope. Deleted.

We get this from time to time, some band firing off missives into the great beyond of the internet to whomever may listen. Likely this band isn’t even from Chicago, anyway, so whatever.

This morning, I woke to find another email from this same Cody Carpenter character. This time, he addressed me by name. My first instinct was to hit delete, but I don’t know, I’m a persistent person, too, and I get it, so alright. A quick Google search gave me the Gnar Wave Rangers’ Bandcamp and led me straight to #GetNastyandRich, a new record that they appear to have just dropped last week, as well as a misleading first impression subject header.

I was half asleep still, and wiping the gunk from my eyes and reaching for my sketchpad when the record’s opener, ‘Swoon Shop’ came bubbling over the tiny speakers of my iPhone. Lots of blurps and boops like a lo-fi Gorillaz record that got chucked early on and then all of a sudden, deep vocals drop in atop a full on marching surge of guitars and drums and in an instant, I’m wondering if I’m listening to The Cult on accident.

“This makes no sense…” I muttered to myself, as I looked down at the phone. “Crazy 4 Ur Love” was the next track to roll out and by this point, I began to realize that I had maybe jumped the gun in judging so quickly. The vocals – a bizarre cross between early 80′s David Bowie, when he ditched the high art of working with Brian Eno in favor of trading up with Niles Rodgers and throwing watery funk jams into the clubs – and that bubble throated intonation that James Murphy often puts on when he’s singing in a live setting – you know the one, where he sounds half drunk – hung atop the track like a dense fog. Onward into the next track, ‘Moon Snake’, and this shit’s started to get hopped up like listening to those two vocalists after they’d ravaged a six pack of 5 Hour Energy Drink, all shredded yelling atop drums so relentless that you can practically envision the drummer clutching his chest to keep his heart under control as he keeps the beat.

At this point, I’m a third of the way into the record and I’m seriously not even sure what to make of this. Gnar Wave Rangers, despite the weird, and somewhat unfortunate visuals they first hit me with, have created an oddly compelling gumbo of sounds that make this record compulsive in its listenability. The mining of equal parts organ driven garage rock (‘Freddy Free Me’) with Lux Interior-esque Crampisms on full display, crossed with (perhaps unintentionally) post punk scapes that call to mind bizarre Factory Records cast offs like A Certain Ratio and Crispy Ambulance (“Scum Filler”) all make for a kaleidoscopic listening experience that isn’t like much else of what’s going on here in town – and yes, turns out, they ARE Chicagoans.

And then, at the record’s halfway point, the Smiths cover. At first, I didn’t know how to process it, a cover of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, but then listening through, it becomes evident fairly quickly that this isn’t a piss take; they’re being sincere about this, and it’s really fucking good!

The back half of the record continues its spiral, getting progressively moodier with each track. It’s hard to avoid dropping names and references when talking about a record like #GetNastyandRich because the record, itself, is stuffed to the gills with references piling on top of themselves. A snatch of Lords of The New Church right here, a bit of Love and Rockets over there, some Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz garage raining down through the sky lights; one thing that’s evident from these recordings is the enjoyment that vocalist Johnny Swoon (perhaps the properly named Cody Carpenter who sent me these emails in the first place?) seems to glean from the elasticity of his pipes, alternating between those low level post punk intonations (or incantations, rather) with high pitched garage rock inflected shrieks.

Listening to ‘Pornoland’s audio component, one may feel that they’ve stumbled onto a missing Fleshtones or Cramps single that got left on the cutting room floor over at I.R.S. in 1981. Really, this whole record plays like an overview of that label’s live ‘Urgh! A Music War’ double LP – and that’s saying something. Gnar Wave Rangers have stitched together a record that sounds at once like a schizophrenic compilation of half a dozen bands while attaining the cohesion to guarantee it all makes sense despite the lack of slavish devotion to any one direction.

Record closer, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” might be the only halfway downward misstep of the whole record with a halfway rapped vocal delivery atop a crunchy set of nu-metal riffs, but given the overall visual spectre this band is trying to cast, one wonders if the track is an off the cuff joke – a point where maybe they aren’t taking this seriously, after all?

Regardless of their perceived point – - – are they making one? is it a joke? all of it? maybe part of it? they have a guy named Spicy Mang on the bass, so ??? – - – Gnar Wave Rangers have definitely dropped an under the radar winner with #GetNastyandRich. I won’t be so quick to delete my emails next time.

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GWR on Facebook
#GetNastyandRich on Bandcamp

The Notes + Bolts Interview Series

230: The Man

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1.) The Man – Some Jam
2.) Big Black – He’s A Whore
3.) The Man – Take
4.) Chicago Transit Authority – Listen
5.) The Man – 45
6.) Howlin’ Wolf – Commit A Crime
7.) Michael and The Messengers – Life (Don’t Mean Nothin’)
8.) The Man – That One

Blog, The Notes + Bolts Interview Series

229: Daniel Wyche

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1.) Daniel Wyche: Selections from WHPK 2.15.13
2.) Daniel Wyche: Fucking Surgery
3.) Daniel Wyche: The Fire In The Lacquer House

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KBDD011 – The Welcome

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Killed By Deep Dish 011
The Welcome
- at The Empty Bottle
The Notes and Bolts 2 Year Anniversary

LISTEN HERE: The Welcome

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KBDD010 – Velocicopter

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Killed By Deep Dish 010
Velocicopter
- at The Empty Bottle
The Notes and Bolts 2 Year Anniversary

LISTEN HERE: Velocicopter

The Notes + Bolts Interview Series

228: Solemn Meant Walks

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1.) Solemn Meant Walks – Highway
2.) Solemn Meant Walks – Realizing
3.) Solemn Meant Walks – Said The Night
4.) Solemn Meant Walks – Fleeting
5.) Solemn Meant Walks – Reach

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KBDD009 – mtvghosts

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Killed By Deep Dish 009
mtvghosts
- at The Empty Bottle
The Notes and Bolts 2 Year Anniversary

LISTEN HERE: mtvghosts

The Notes + Bolts Interview Series

227: Rodeo

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1.) Rodeo: Fuck Depression
2.) Velocicopter: Clerestory Windows
3.) Oozing Wound: Welcome To The Spaceship, Motherfucker
4.) Rodeo: Icepick
5.) Rodeo: Nostalgia Axe
6.) The Cell Phones – Heavy Flow
7.) Rodeo – Lana Deth Rey

Killed By Deep Dish

KBDD008 – Zigtebra

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Killed By Deep Dish 008
Zigtebra
- at The Empty Bottle
The Notes and Bolts 2 Year Anniversary

LISTEN HERE: Zigtebra