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Except where noted, all original text & art copyright 2012 Eddie Flowers
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THE BON VIVANTSThe Bon Vivants is a band led by Ben Young, who runs the avant-noise-improv label Old Gold in Atlanta. In the past, Ben has also headed a couple of song-oriented art-pop bands (Bad Poet and Forever), but this time around the rock is way out front. Although definitely post-punk in form and attitude, it's hard not to hear bands like the Raspberries and Big Star at the heart of what's happening here (and the Beatles at the root). If you're used to listening to shiny digital sound, my first suggestion here is that you turn up the volume on this platter. Bass player Ben Lawless's 4-track cassette production is brilliant, but it still sounds thin and murky if you don't boost the output. Personally, I think a few bottles of Bass Pale Ale also helps a lot! It all kicks off with "Mercury and Cream," which sounds so much like Big Star playing Eno's "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More." Then the boys use a modified "Sweet Jane" riff for "Highway," which features some excellent spazz-guitar leads. This segues nicely into "Basketbakers," a tune filled with delicious outta-kilter hooks. "The Bells" begins with flying saucer whoosh, which quickly yields to a groovy pop riff and vocals with the reverb turned up to 11. Just beautiful--it should already be at the top of the hiss parade. Flip over the record and dig guitarist Rob Parham's oh-too-brief "Pink Sangria," a nifty blend of Voidoid slither rock and power pop. Then they pull out another "Sweet Jane"-like riff for the intro to "Infinite Surprise," gliding right into a song filled with the spirit of Midwestern pre-punk circa 1974. "The Lake" reminds me of the Beau Brummels from their mature Bradley's Barn/Triangle period. The Bon Vivants dangle that jangle in your ear better than anybody since at least the 1980s (and I don't mean R.E.M.!). Ben Y. sez "The Mall Song" was influenced by Simply Saucer, and who am I to argue? But it's Simply Saucer at their most concise. To my ears, it has that sweet Syd Barrett/Soft Boys thing that a lot of bands did so well in the late 1970s--but not much since then. How'd a band of noise lovers from Georgia get back and down to such an unpretentious approach? Well, I think part of the "secret" is exactly that the outsider improv mindset has once again embraced something that's even more basic to American cultural consciousness: R&R. No irony either. Everything old is new again, and you can hear excitement in these grooves that mere retro rockers always miss because they've spent too much time listening to the same music. Ben Young, who also plays guitar and keyboards, has an unpretentious vocal style with the same sort of mild Southern drawl and slightly geeky whoop that once made Alex Chilton sound so special. And he's aided by a fine band: Ben Lawless (bass, percussion, guitars), Rob Parham (guitars), and Tim Genius (drums). Hey man, these guys are for real, and not even slightly full of shit. How many rock bands in 2006 can pull that off? Well . . . maybe more than a few years ago, but it's still no mean feat. And speakin' of feets, let's roll the rug off the floor and . . . I think you know the next part: boogie!
Soul Action (Old Gold) $12
NEW, UNPLAYED COPY
God-Zee (Behemoth Records) $20
OUT OF PRINT; VERY FEW COPIES LEFT.
Byron Coley, Ecstatic Yod website: "It was on this record that Crawlspace really began to show their potential. From the unexpected opening gambit--an exploration of Ornette's 'Theme from a Symphony'--into a very stoned valley of free rock space, this is the sound of acid transmuting garage rock fans into prophets of truth. Eddie Flowers is one of the strangest visionaries rock music has thus far produced and his attempts to name the unknown here are nothing short of glorious. For reasons I cannot comprehend this band remains below the radar of all but a few people who truly breathe w/ all their holes open."
Released February 1993. Recorded 1991. Edition of 600 copies. With Eddie Flowers, Joe Dean, Mark McCormick, Keith Telligman, and Bob Lee.
NEW, UNPLAYED COPY