Give 'Em the High Hat

Of course, with the passage of time it became clear that the menace of the Jesus Lizard was more apparent than real. Before their second gig at the Apocalypse, in May 1990, I witnessed the members of the band eating pizza in a sit-down restaurant--just like normal people! Sure, later that night, David Yow stuck his peanus between his legs during an instrumental and let his pubic hair do the singing, but…

The last time I saw the Jesus Lizard, in 1994, the only menace I encountered came in the form of 1,200 stage-diving frat boys whose tomgoonery kept me well away from the stage.

As for menacing Canadian bands … well, I'm still drawing a blank.

Phleg Camp - Ya'red Fair Scratch

Phleg Camp was a Canadian band whose music was clearly influenced by the Jesus Lizard, but whose stage show was not. One always felt very safe and secure at a Phleg Camp gig.

However, listening to the band's only full-length release, the Steve Albini produced Ya'red Fair Scratch, I can't help but notice how monstrously talented these guys were. Sean Dean, his bass deep and rumbling, hammered-out the foundation of the Phleg Camp sound--sloppy, confounding rhythm. Eric Chenaux, the guitarist/vocalist, added a layer of lazy, dissonant, post-hillbilly electric gee-tar jangle. With robotic precision, drummer Gavin Brown filled any remaining holes in the band's wall of sound with pops of tightly-wound snare. Underneath it all: the muffled shouting of (mostly) indecipherable lyrics.

Aside from the Jesus Lizard (bass tone and bloozy guitar playing), other touchstones for the Phleg Camp sound include Nomeanso (bass tone and occasionally rhythm), Houses of the Holy-era Led Zeppelin (reverbed funkiness), the Coen Brothers (lyrics) and Fugazi (dissonance). The album closes with the band playing along to a ghettoblaster blasting the Neil Young song "Powderfinger."

If this sounds appealing, buy a copy of the album. If you like what you hear, consider looking into some of the projects the musicians have been involved with since disbanding Phleg Camp in the mid-nineties: a veritable who's who of the Queen Street West establishment, including Big Sugar and Hayden (Brown), Life Like Weeds and Crash Vegas (Chenaux), and the Sadies (Dean).

Then burn me a CD sampler. Queen Street West being part of Canada and all, I've always assumed its musical establishment was too "soft" for me to bother looking into.

Permadink | |