Left of the Dial Magazine

LOTD Testimony

Left of the Dial knows that today's rat packs, indie rock wannabes, and punk-of-the-month bands are tomorrow's bargain bin dust collectors. They have a shorter shelf life than a corroded alkaline battery. We are interested in the people who make music that transcends genres; in fact, we think genres are boring. It's people and art that matter. We don't buy into the cult of the new. FACT: Most magazines are really industry mouthpieces that are full of hype, gloss, and fake careerism. We also know that most zines are little clans that are as faceless and warmed-over as last week's Spin. It's time to go beyond the common and expected. LOTD is for those people who still have music on fire inside them. For rockers who are under the spell of books, and for those people who think that music doesn't belong to elite critics. Wits and raw talent are the message: LOTD is the transmitter. Now, stake your claim. Here's the new heresy and rebellion.

August 22, 2007

The Gunshy/There’s No Love in This War: Latest Flame

Filed under: Reviews — leftofthedialmag @ 4:46 pm

Now that the epistolary arts (letter writing) have retreated into the fog of history after being overtaken by the accelerated gibberish of an Internet/email age, it’s endearing to have an entire concept record dedicated to resurrecting the letters of Matt Arbogast’s grandparents, written during the heavy heartbreaking days of World War II. Sure, his voice lands somewhere between the gravel-coaxed larynx lions of Songs for Emma, Shoulders, Crooked Fingers, and Frankie Stubbs of Leatherface, but his mostly low-key approach (it feels like a living room of young roots-minded rockers knocking knees) and injection of deep-rooted personality make it a world of his own. I am, however, not always sure of his delivery, which at times feels like a continuous loop of sea shanties. Part of that may be a way to reclaim the sense of the black and white newsreel past, with its tableaux of waving flags, hometown village squares, and distant lands clouded by the constant apparition of tanks and mortar fire. On “October 28, 1948,” he sings, “I’ve yet to see my enemy,” though they have hit Italy, and the pictures in Life magazine seem to pale when compared to the real Mediterranean. “If this war is suicide/ …my jewel, I’m not ready to die.” It’s a slow, bare song, with a sad languor that is like a quiet prayer compared to the next, “Dec. 18, 1943,” with its upbeat, street party zest, ala big horns and beer hall choruses. I can see a man wheeling about narrow alleys, robustly recalling that he will marry that girl he met at the Ukrainian club and say “I do I do” until his throat goes sore. It’s uplifting at a time right before the canons and shrapnel scoop up the living dead in a constellation of enemy fire. (more…)

August 20, 2007

Akimbo/Navigating the Bronze: Alternative Tentacles

Filed under: Reviews — leftofthedialmag @ 8:01 am

Some reviewers have dutifully noted that this post-hardcore punk stoner rock ensemble would be a tight-ass fit for a label like Hydrahead, with its roster of math-metal madness, like Botch. Others, like Punk News, have suggested that they bridge “the gap between riff-heavy rock like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and straight-up hardcore, with brief stop-offs in sludge, melodic, and speed variations of both genres.” So, likely both are right, and this new slab of derelict punk with metallic leanings will only verify that they tend to bridge the world of Nebula and the Fleshies, meaning they can deliver hammer blows with sometimes comedic underpinnings, as if rock were part caricature and part crucifix to proudly bear. There’s ever slight space-rock variations and mood swings on “Dungeon Bastard,” while the quick flesh fantasy of “Muscles” (with its 35 cent alliterative lines like “bulging like a bee stung bull” diving and crashing in little over two minutes) aims to maim the image of mall cruising meatheads in steroid–fueled bodies. Soak up the immense, elongated, swirling drum solo that belongs more on a Jimi Hendrix record than DRI on “Roman Coins,” which is about as limber and dexterous as anything this side of the Monterey recordings. Following it, they immediately fornicate with the gods of heaviness and precision on “Lungless,” in which the singer barks like an Army sergeant at those who are spineless, pounded down, wormy, and starstruck. Echoes of Helmet and even Jesus Lizard dot the texture with exploding, foaming firmament finesse. In turn, there’s some torn snippets of audio on “Megatherium” that introduce the world of the one claw creature tearing downs limbs to chump leaves. Still, in case you were worried they were waxing too paleontological, they also insist that the creature will “kill some cats and surf on a shark,” which is all depicted while they lay down a slow grind of slo-mo grenade, bulldozer-friendly sonic sludge. (more…)

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