November 17th, 2011 | by CHRIS STAMM Music | Posted In: Columns, Upper Extremities

Upper Extremities #16: The Best of Gnarcotics Unanimous (Gnar Tapes Compilation #2)

     
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Gnarcotics Unanimous, the latest release from local cassette collective Gnar Tapes, is one gnasty mother: 34 bands from all over the damn place trot out 34 gnew gnumbers in gninety gnoisy minutes.

Ugh. Gnope, gnot gonna be able to keep that gnonsense up.

Plain-ish English (mostly) then: this gnation-spanning (last one, I swear!) compilation is a monster, and it just so happens that my favorite songs on it jibe with this column’s raison d’être. Trite as it sounds, there really is something on Gnarcotics Unanimous for everyone—weed rap, ambient exploration, sex jams, plaintive folk—but the strongest stuff on this more-hit-than-miss mass of sound is, more often than not and for lack of a more fitting phrase, pretty fucking punk, or at least close enough to not be out of place in this space.

I have taken the liberty of isolating my nine favorite songs and sequencing them into a workout-friendly twenty-minute mix-within-a-mix. Gnar contains multitudes. This is but one small slice of the pie. Listen. Buy the tape. Buy the mp3s on a pay-what-you-want scale. Whatever dude—just do it. Gnow!


 

1. Campo Formio, “Lord of the Obstacles V 2.0”

I like to start my mixes with rousing instrumentals--typical, I know--and this jittery, skittering post-rock jam from Puerto Rico’s Campo Formio fits the bill perfectly. Elegiac guitars swoon over the rhythm section’s rumbles and it all comes together as mid-song catharsis before dropping into a danceable groove. Gnar promises a tape by these cats in the gnear (I CAN’T STOP) future. Gnice.

LISTEN


2. G. Green, “Your House”

According to Gnar’s literature, Sacramento’s G. Green is affiliated with Ganglians in some way. That association should give you some idea of the disheveled garage pop of “Your House”, which will be on G. Green’s forthcoming LP. It is raw, seemingly held together with duct tape and dried spit, and it is lovely.

LISTEN


3. Punks on Mars, “Showers of Pain”

I don’t know much about Punks on Mars. I think it’s one guy. He lives in New York. The artwork associated with his various releases is tremendously hideous. And “Showers of Pain,” a ninety-second blast of painfully catchy and slightly spacey power pop, is the best song on Gnarcotics Unanimous. You know how every mix has that one song that you play on repeat at the expense of every other good tune in its vicinity? This is that song.

LISTEN


4. Grandparents, “Headcleaner”

All right, a Portland band finally. “Headcleaner” is a perfect mid-mix, post-Punks on Mars palate cleanser, a drugged detour into plangent distortion that reminds me of My Bloody Valentine (but hyper), Flying Saucer Attack (but hummable) and falling asleep beneath electric blankets (on Vicodin).

LISTEN


5. The Memories, “Go Down on You”

This tender minute of raunch by members of White Fang and BOOM! turns down the volume to get sweet nothings wetly and warmly nestled in your ears. “It gets you high because I’m doing this thing right,” goes one particularly boastful and horny line. “I’d like a taste between your waste, a sweet surprise between your thighs”, goes an especially gnasty (HELP) rhyme that I am about to appropriate for my Gmail Chat status.

LISTEN


6. BOOM!, “Love & Cheeseburgers”

The second-best song about eating and love after that Memories track up there, “Love and Cheeseburgers” sounds like it was recorded on a boombox and then transferred to VHS along with found footage of kids doing drugs at an arcade circa 1988. It’s about cheeseburgers, but I see skateboarders with eighties bangs eating hot dogs when I hear this song. That’s a hella good thing.

LISTEN


7. Lamebrain, “Have a Ball”

This lo-fi bit of Brian Wilson worship kicks off Side 2 of the Gnar tape (good call), and it initiates the “cool down” portion of my mini-mix. Which means it’s time to dial that jog down to a brisk walk and look at the sunset, the falling leaves, the clouds gathering in the east, and the pretty people in their cold weather clothes. Lamebrain’s the ideal soundtrack for such contemplation.

LISTEN


8. Youthbitch, “I Feel Like 15 Bucks”

Our very own Robert Ham wrote (http://wweek.com/portland/blog-27825-cut_of_the_day_youth.html) about this lo-fi pop-punk track a couple weeks ago, calling it “a perfectly silly trifle with an earworm of a chorus and giddily romantic lyrics.” Yup, Ham gnailed it (and I’m super happy this column is coming to an end, because I gneed a gnap).

LISTEN

9. Little Wings, “Lost Again”

Every mix--even the gnoisiest, gnastiest, gnarliest mix--gneeds a melancholy last song, a little exit music to remind the listener that life is ultimately pretty sad, full though it may be of little ditties about cunnilungus and fast food. Little Wings’ Kyle Field is an expert conveyer of such bittersweet sentiment, and “Lost Again” is a sterling example of Field’s special knack. G’night.

LISTEN


LINKS:

Download the entire compilation here.

Buy a physical copy of Gnarcotics Unanimous here.

 
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