This autumn (or fall, possibly), the Barbican will be running ‘Stranger In Town…’, a cine-literary season of American films featuring the compelling figure of the ‘stranger in town’, devised and curated by Jay Clifton (Lipstick Killers: The New York Dolls Story). Highlights include the Barry Gifford-themed evening on October 3, followed by the Warren Oates night on November 16 (featuring Cathi Unsworth) and the Midnight Cowboy evening on December 10 (featuring Ken Hollings.)
The noise furnished by New York City quartet Girls Against Boys has consistently defied comparison and categorization. Dangling somewhere between the distorted melancholic intensity of early ’90s Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Picasso Trigger) and the harder edges of Washington, D.C. punk (which makes sense, as these guys originally played in the Dischord band Soulside), their most recent releases have thrown electronica into the mix. This is polluted, metallic East Coast artcore at its grittiest; music that leaves behind alternarock angst in favor of a tempered, sexy coolness that pervades on every level, from the thumping double-bass foundation to the three-pack-a-day habit of singer-guitarist Scott McCloud, whose raspy vocals infrequently crescendo into a monstrous subhuman roar.
Girls Against Boys’ history goes back to Washington, D.C., in 1988. The original band was formed by McCloud and bassist Eli Janney, who were jamming with Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty. After only a few practices and one recording session, the original group disbanded and reformed two years later in New York City with their current line-up. Alexis Fleisig took the place of Canty, but it was the addition of Johnny Temple as a second bass player that made these guys stand out from the post-punk pack.
Throughout the 90s, Girls Against Boys defined their unique sound through numerous singles and three LPs. Their debut album, Tropic of Scorpio, was released on Adult Swim, and the now-classic House of GVSB bears the Touch and Go imprint, putting GVSB in the same family of acid punk legends the Butthole Surfers and Big Black. They were then picked up by Geffen as part of the indie rock explosion of smaller bands being given major label deals. They spent more than a year working on material for their Geffen debut, 1998’s excellent Freak*on*ica. But like a lot of bands from that short-lived era, the relationship with their new label fizzled fast, prompting a return to the indie world.
This content originally appeared in the alternative weekly The Prague Pill.
Of course, Mineshaft is about all of the odd and overlooked corners of our culture, from the poems of the Brutalists to photographs from the “Cabinet of Curiosities” (lots and lots of conjoined twin remains) to a bracing feature on the death of newspapers framed by the mastheads of dozens of dead and dying papers. The Brutalist poems fit right into the underground aesthetic of the zine, detailing the day-to-day life of the working class in an unflinching manner. Adelle Stripe’s stream-of-consciousness memories about her awakening sexuality were particularly memorable.
“Erased, just like that. As if they’d never been alive at all.” When garden tool salesman Theodore Bellefontaine receives a postcard from his dead mother, he heads to Cleveland to find her. Krusoe propels Ted from one absurd situation to the next (biker-chick gangs, strange women’s clubs) in this part ghost story, part detective novel, that you’re left with the impression that Ted has no real agency (predestination versus freewill). In interspersing the narrative with transcriptions of interviews with those who have experienced near-death, Krusoe further blurs the lines between life and the hereafter, in his engaging third novel that recalls Will Self’s How the Dead Live and, more recently, David Eagleman’s Sum. “And despite your having a strong pulse and steady heartbeat, has it ever occurred to you for for even one single moment that you might be dead, because not only for the living but also for the dead anything is possible?”
3:AM’s David Winters interviews the legendary Gordon Lish for Critical Quarterly: If we go back to Beckett, or to various bits by Thomas Bernhard, these examples seem to represent an exception. One wants to find the new. And, in finding it, do everything one can to fight for it. There was a time when I […]
Tom Jenks, Spruce (Blarts Books) One of most overlooked poets in the UK, doing the work conceptualism should be doing, getting to the heart of uniquely British ennui through splicing methodology and jet black humour. Sandeep Parmar, Eidolon (Shearsman Books) High modernism powerfully maintained and redeployed by one of the most interesting poets crossing the American / UK […]
Wolfgang Hilbig I’ve got a problem with best-book-of-the-year lists. I can’t really articulate what that problem is – they’re egotistical? it’s not the end of the year yet? I’m doubtful anybody cares? that they seem to somehow dovetail into the frenzy of Christmas? Whatever it is, they fill me with a general discomfort. So in […]
Joanna Walsh’s Top Reads of 2015 My books of the year, all published in 2015, and in no particular order… Claire-Louise Bennett, Pond (Stinging Fly/Fitzcarraldo) Words build spaces for living in Bennett’s genre-defying meditation on creating and practicing a solitary life in rural Ireland. Gavin Corbett, Green Glowing Skull (4th Estate) An […]