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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Gay Tastee
Gayest Hits
HoeX Records

Rating: 9/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Stephen Gaylord doesn't give a damn about his image. On Gayest Hits, the shambling two-CD collection of lo-fi recordings he put out under the odd, somewhat polarizing pseudonym Gay Tastee, he comes off as an ornery cuss who swears like a sailor and smokes a ton of pot. But he's got a million stories to tell and he's not shy about speaking his mind.

Give him a hit off your bong and he'll vent about how fucked up organized religion is, like he does in "Bathtub Gin". Or he might relate the tale of a drug mule he used to know who got busted once riding a Greyhound bus and her desperate attempt to avoid jail at any cost. That one's called "Ditchweed". Then there's the one about the guy whose alcoholic dad used to beat the hell out of his whore of a mother before he died of cirrhosis of the liver and how his mom then "broke down like a Pontiac" and gave up because "somehow the abuse kept her head attached". Not sure if that one, listed here as "Mountain Music", is autobiographical or not, but if it is, it explains a lot.

Whatever the case, Gaylord's lyrics paint unflinchingly honest portrayals of mean, marginalized losers at the end of their respective ropes. Their pain is palpable. "Bedwetter" is a scathing suicide note from a guy who's "strangled all his friends" and probably wouldn't think about committing the act if he was smarter, better looking, "got some pussy" once in a while and didn't soil his sheets. His contempt for those around him is jarring. Sarcasm drips from the line, "You use my final act as a celebration of your faith in the fact that I'm going to a place where the pleasure outweighs the pain/ and its mutated from a sadness to a kind of resignation that I'll be sitting in the cheap seats my whole fucking life watching people I hate do the celebrating".

Brilliant, witty, poignant and pissed off, Gaylord's writing is fearless and unapologetic. So is the music. The smoldering "St. Peter" and "Designated Driver" burn like tire yard fires, fueled by snarling, distortion-laced electric guitar. If Gaylord's singing sounded less like Vic Chestnutt and had more of a British accent, you'd swear "Homo Radio" and "Shot To Shit" were long-lost Guided By Voices recordings found in Bob Pollard's attic, especially the blurred, hollow-sounding vocals, slurred piano and prickly electric guitar of "Homo Radio". On "Taming The Lyon/Sixteen Tons" - yes, it's the Tennessee Ernie Ford song, and it's welded on to the end of Gaylord's stream-of-conscious rant about "chain-smoking metalhead demons" and their Judgment Day - he beats up his acoustic guitar in a Violent Femmes' type meltdown. The weirdest track is "Krakow Kid", with some woozy cello, horn and a radio sermon drowned out by feedback and static drifting over strummed acoustic guitar. Most songs are acoustic, including the hooky "Bathtub Gin".

Don't dismiss Gay Tastee because of the name. And don't be afraid of the disturbing cover of a glum, seemingly despondent old man whose blackened face is either the result of a birthmark, burned or covered with shit, or that eye-black football and baseball players wear. The more you listen, the more convinced you'll be that Gay Tastee is a demented genius that demands your full and undivided attention. Forget Tom Waits, Nick Cave or Charles Bukowski. Gaylord could very well be the voice of this lost generation, no shit. The sad part is nobody's listening.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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