Ep129: Craig Wedren (Shudder to Think)

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Hey hey hey! This episode of Protonic Reversal features a talk with the mighty Craig Wedren of Shudder to Think, we talk to Craig about:

-Hacking the Polaroid Spectra.
-My 90s (new book and photo show)
-Analog vs. Digital in very specific incidents.
-Making unique videos, such as the X-French T-shirt one
-The label that picked Hit Liquor to start the album???
-All Hits on Planet Shudder
-Daisy Chainsaw!
-Improvising a vocal chorale.
-Putting your best glam foot forward on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack.
-Higher and Higher.
-How to bring the various quadrangs of your art to the others.
-Group songs in a solo context.
-Bassassery or Bad-assy
and lots, lots more!

Conan Neutron’s Top Records of 2018

Conan Neutron’s top records of 2018:
1. Tropical Fuck Storm – a Laughing Death in Meatspace (TFS Band)
2. Lung – All the Kings Horses 
3. sewingneedle – User Error
4. Screaming Females– All at Once 
5. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
6. Body Futures– Maybe It’s Just the Weather 
7. Poster Children – Grand Bargain
8. Christian Fitness – Nuance the Musical 
9. Haunted Heads – Everything We Agreed About 
10. TONGUE PARTY – Looking for a Painful Death

Honorable Mentions: 
BLAHA– Survival Climb
The God Eaters – Fading Horizons
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
WORK – Strictly Cruis’n
Mister Dude – Party Tape
The Messthetics – s/t
Dale Crover – Fickle Finger of Fate
(the) Melvins – Pinkus Abortion Technician 
Lung – Bottom of the Barrel 
The Hand – When All Of The Shit Hits All Of The Fans (The Hand Vol. 3 & 4)

I listened to a LOT of records over the year, but these were the ones that that I listened to the most. And at some point, you have to just let the train leave the station.
I’ll put the links below

I’m sure I missed a few, that’s fine. The point is: there’s a ton of amazing music out there. Go listen to it! And I guess, like the show’s FB page if you support this kind of deep dive. 
Note: this is slightly different from the best of 2018 show, which was a team effort and will be a different post

1. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meat Space
Absolutely powerful stuff. Great songs with incredible left turns. Moody, claustrophobic and staggeringly self aware, like a sentient computer raised on Bill Hicks comedy specials, Howard Zinn, Black MIrror and Twin Peaks. I heard this blind, knowing nothing of any other or previous bands and loved it. Maybe you will too? It’s a hell of a ride. Possible record of the year.
RIYL: the pAperchAse, Dead Rider, Leonard Cohen, the Knife

2. Lung – All the King’s Horses
LUNG are back with a new album. You’ll never believe that a band with just Cello, vocals and drums can sound so full. Propulsive, Heavy, tuneful and thoughtful. Incredible lyrics, powerful arrangements and songs that stick with you for long after you stop listening. 

The only problem is they have a very unique sound, which isn’t always rewarded. I need you to trust me when I say that this is WELL worth your time and one of the best records of 2018. 

Bonus: a timely David Bowie cover.

3. sewingneedle – user error
Remarkably acrobatic musicianship paired with gorgeous harmonies. Musically, sewingneedle can hold their own with the fiercest noise rock band, yet there is melody and harmony. What madness is this? Great songs, great repeated listenability. 

RIYL: jawbox, slint, Polvo, Chavez, Shudder to Think, Shiner.
https://sewingneedle.bandcamp.com/album/user-error

4. Screaming FemalesAll At Once
Probably the best Screaming Females record yet… totally rips. A consistently great and hard working live band delivers their go-to record on record, what. 7? Not counting the live one. Incredible. These’s an adventure rock song on here and a song that legit sounds like it could be played as a prom. (I mean that as a compliment.)
As an aside, this is one of the records on my list that was probably most widely heard, yet wasn’t on that many lists. That’s really dumb. It’s great!
RIYL: Dinosaur Jr. Pixies, Silkworm
https://screamingfemales.bandcamp.com/album/all-at-once

5. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
Hello! Do you live under a rock? Yes? Ok! This is the long awaited 4th record by the formerly dead, now living rock quartet HOT SNAKES. It’s fueled by the riffs of John Reis and the vocals of Rick Froberg. A certain magic happens with these two powerhouses together. The music is an inheritor of bands like the Wipers and Crime, while bringing some of the academic polyrhythms/punk-prog of Drive Like Jehu too. It’s exactly what the Doctor ordered.
https://hotsnakes.bandcamp.com/album/jericho-sirens

6. Body Futures – Maybe it’s Just the Weather
B-52s and Shudder To Think superhero team-up, Dismemberment Plan covering the New Pornographers. Whatever! Body Futures play music as unique as their name, it’s catchy it’s angular and it’s absolutely vital. Let’s get down to it boppers. 
https://bodyfutures.bandcamp.com/…/maybe-its-just-the…

7. Poster Children – Grand Bargain
First Poster Children album in years and it’s an absolute corker! Intelligent lyrics, catchy riffs, hooks for days and frantic energy are all on deck. Music for the modern revolution. RIYL: Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Husker Du
https://store.posterchildren.com/album/grand-bargain

https://store.posterchildren.com/album/grand-bargain

8. christian fitness – nuance: the musical 
Nuance makes heavy use of strings and adult arrangements? (not pornography, you understand.). There aren’t any “candle in the wind” style ballads, or any regrettable ska numbers, but after 3 rock-solid, rockers certain to please fans of mclusky and fotl. This one is different, denser, & a little more challenging. Delivered with a smirk of sardonicism and a twinge of dystopian theatrical heights. There’s a lot here, but it keeps me coming back to listen regularly. Fantastic album.
https://christianfitness.bandcamp.com/…/nuance-the-musical

9. Haunted Heads – Everything We Agreed About
Unforgettable hooks, raucous riffs and superior songwriting. In a different time Haunted Heads would be the darlings of the indie rock world. RIYL: Built to Spill (at their least jammy!), Sebadoh (at their most stable) and the Thermals. 
https://hauntedheads.bandcamp.com/…/everything-we…

10. TONGUE PARTY – Looking for a Painful Death
Minneapolis purveyors of the heavy come through with their best effort to date! Bringing forth the boundless energy of KARP along with a mid-period AmRep sensibility, Tongue Party’s brand of relentless touring and hard work has resulted in their most badass and immediate record yet. Learning Curve Records
https://tongueparty.bandcamp.com/…/looking-for-a…

HONORABLE MENTIONS!

HONORABLE MENTION 1: BLAHA – Survival Climb
Mike Blaha of the Blind Shake has a hell ass rock quarter, this is their most raucous to date and it’s sure to please those that like their rock both wiry and engaged. Worthy of a listen to anybody interested in the cross roads of post-punk and garage rock. 
https://nocoastrecordings.bandcamp.com/…/blaha-survival…

HONORABLE MENTION 2: The God Eaters – Fading Horizons
the pride of Marquette Michigan come out with another ep of noise rocky solid rippers! Ferocious, Precocious and that’s my prognosis. RIYL: Minutemen, Vaz, The Big Boys
https://thegodeaters.bandcamp.com/album/fading-horizons

HONORABLE MENTION 3: Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
A fascinating band! Sometimes hardcore, sometimes a bit more noiserock… strong songs and a powerful lady singer. A band to watch!

HONORABLE MENTION 4: WORK – Strictly Cruis’n
WORK are back, w/a tight new slab of some serious rock ‘n roll. (Well, not so serious if you consider the song titles… ) nevertheless, wry wordplay, clever songwriting & an intent to bring the damage w/ rock solid rhythms and hooky leads are on deck. Fans of the Minutemen, Spoon at their brattiest & loudest, Obits, & early ZZ Top can get stoked. This is ROCK music (ROCK, all caps, just like the band name WORK.) coming from a punk place. It’s well worth your time. Gotta gotta get to the show!
https://workmke.bandcamp.com/album/strictly-cruisn

HONORABLE MENTION #5: Mister Dude – Party Tape
WHAM! Mister Dude upside yo’ face. Deep feeling good about bad time jams, with some heavy Octave radness from two of the fellas from Police Teeth. The rock pedigree of SEMINARS, USS Horsewhip, etc. is as notable as the music itself. It’s a fun listen and a damn good ride. Party Tape indeed.
https://misterdude.bandcamp.com/album/party-tape

HONORABLE MENTION #6: The Messthetics – s/t
Killer instrumental goodness with one of the best rhythm sections of all time, Joe Lally and Brendan Canty of fugazi. Guitarist Anthony Pirog may not have the same level of punk rock notoriety, but he more than makes up for it with a level of acrobatic guitar exploration that rivals some of the greats. A great starting position for a worthy and notable new band. RIYL: Nels Cline Singers

HONORABLE MENTION #7: Dale Crover – The Fickle Finger of Fate
He’s not just half of the core of the Mighty Melvins, he’s not just the drum genius who makes things happen with me in Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends, he’s a talented songwriter, guitar player and singer and this is totally and completely worth your time! Cool songs, a little more classic rock than you might expect and worth a listen. Check it out, chocky. Awesome, vibe-y record with hidden hooks. 
https://melvinsofficial.bandcamp.com/…/the-fickle…

HONORABLE MENTION #8: (the) Melvins – Pinkus Abortion Technician. 
Mo’ Melvins! Long may they run, some fun covers and Don’t Forget to Breathe is one of my favorite Melvins songs in years.
https://melvinsofficial.bandcamp.com/…/pinkus-abortion…

HONORABLE MENTION #9: Lung – Bottom of the Barrel
What? Lung again? Yup.
Frenzied and furious Cello, Vocals and Drums badassery. Absolute earworms that comes at you from an aggressive punk/post-punk place but has an incredible sense of melody, hooks and purpose. This is legit plus stuff and I can’t think of a single band they really sound like. Just get it.
it’s technically 2017, but on the 2018 list for a technicality. Whatever! it’s still a great record. 

HONORABLE MENTION #10: The Hand – When All Of The Shit Hits All Of The Fans (The Hand Vol. 3 & 4)
Mysterious, elusive and irresistible, the HAND has done more than any band since the Residents in putting together a band image that forces you to judge them on the merits of the music. It’s quite the feat! However, I will say that this is zak sally, karl tebeest, and dale flattum. Zak played in Low and Enemymine, and Dale played in Steel Pole Bathtub, Milk Cult and Novex. Anyway, that’s a lot of front loading, this is raucous and hooky noiserock that can simultaneously evoke the Birthday Party, the Velvet Underground, the Melvins 

The HAND pull off a very special thing, by making all of their releases very limited edition and HYPER unique, hand made and limited edition. It’s easy to tell that multiple members of the band come from the world of comics, because this is a world to be invited into. 
https://the-hand.bandcamp.com/…/when-all-of-the-shit…

https://gougeawayfl.bandcamp.com/

Ep128: Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Jon Spencer & the HITmakers)

Bob Bert

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Well, hello there! Guess what? You bet it’s another episode of Protonic Reversal! This week, Conan and Josh talked with the legendary Bob Bert, drummer for Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, Jon Spencer and the HITmakers, Pussy Galore, Sonic Youth, and many more! We talked about:

-Touring more than ever before
-Playing shows with Jon Spencer again
-Getting the proper “junk” for the kit
-Starting the tour without knowing the songs
-Meeting Pussy Galore
-The guitar skills of Jon Spencer
-The night-and-day difference between the HITmakers and Retrovirus
-The dream gig with Lydia Lunch
-The encyclopaedic Weasel Walter
-Getting to know the Melvins
-Hearing protection
-Bad Moon Rising
-Setting up the first Sonic Youth European tour
-The historical wonder of Youtube
-Being there for the glory days of Max’s and CBGB
-Playing a better “Nature Scene” than Jim Sclavunos
-Bewitched opening for SY on the Goo tour
-The Action Swingers and the Chrome Cranks

Ep127: Steve Albini (Shellac, Big Black, Electrical Audio Studio)

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(stream and download – Episode 127)

Well hey, hey there Protonic Reversal devotees. Time for another episode, Steve Albini is back with us after a 106 episode break. Conan and Steve talk about:

-Steve inadvertently ruining the “perfect run” of 9 continuous guests for the 100th episode of Protonic Reversal (not out of malice)
-Winning the World Series of Poker (and why that might not be as impressive as it sounds)
-Why recording records is still satisfying.
-Fluffy coffee shop
-A story of two competing magic shops
-Thoughts on the internet equalizing things for music.
-How this helps those passionate about music as opposed to those passionate about profit.
-The hive mind as a filter.
-The internet as a discovery tool for lost art.
-Nick Drake’s mother.
-Pegboy play South America
-Streaming Services and the next logical progression of decentralization.
-“how do you stop something that doesn’t store anything?”
-Longevity in studios = flexibility
-dislike of meritocracy as a term.
-the value of record stores are the maniacs that work there
-On hating nostalgia the first time
-On the lack of appreciation of nuance and allegory in past compositions
-Specifically: Prayer to God
-Appropriation of past art and public figures for political end
-the mind opening power of punk rock
-You don’t make anything better by assuming your audience is stupid and dumbing down
-Kindred spirits with the devout.
-Making records with people who also record at home or in unorthodox ways.
-Who gets told “no”?
-Fleetwood Mac (and the like) helped create punk rock
-Overdubs and Harmonies, and how they can be life lessons.
-Who would Steve most like to record?
-Rerecording In Color by Cheap Trick
-The End of Radio is the end theme song for Protonic Reversal, the ideas behind the song.

Ep126: J.D. Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins, Honky)


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It’s Jeff Pinkus of Butthole Surfers, Melvins, and Honky! It’s an episode of Protonic Reversal.
What more do you need to know?

ok, ok…
Greetings protonic friends, time again for a thrilling new episode of Protonic Reversal. Today is Mr. J.D. Pinkus of Butthole Surfers fame, he also plays in the Mighty Melvins, Honky and has recently released a solo banjo record called: Keep on the Grass. Interview starts at: 14:40
Conan and Jeff talk about the following topics:
-Keep on the Grass, the story behind it and the involvement of Danny Barnes (bad livers)
-different sequences for different formats
-the concept of the full length In general
-the cassette comeback
-Pinkus Abortion Technician
-joining up with Buzz and Dale because of Jared’s impending fatherhood
-picking BHS songs for a Melvin’s set
-Paul Leary songs
-the incredible depth of the Melvin’s catalog.
-different lyrical approaches.
-John Prine
-lots of headphone listening of Chicho music
-live interpretations of Melvin’s songs and arranging the songs for two basses.
-playing with Steven McDonald
-bringing the “creepy old man” vibe to the Melvins.
-playing bass with fingers (a study in contrasts!)
-using a Dark Glass amp from finland
-opening for Sleep with a banjo set
-432 tuning frequency
-playing Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill in Melvins w/Teri Gender Bender
-Daddy Longhead, Skinny Leonard, then Honky
-the double edged sword of Butthole Surfers not listing credits in the records
-Playing with Helios Creed on Activated Condition and the journey of making that into a record.
-half machine lip moves talk
-trash talk about Lenny Kravitz
-On joining the Butthole Surfers and making those classic records.
-drugs and cycles.
-Buzz doesn’t do drugs and probably shouldn’t.
-the Butthole Surfers chapter of “Our Band Could Be Your Life” is total bullshit.
-working with John Paul Jones on Indepdnent Worm saloon and playing banjo on “ballad of naked men” while he plays bass!
-Being a mixture of Steve Martin and Dean Martin.
-banjo as a songwriting tool.
-Doing covers.
-Hairway to Steven, pictographs haven’t translated well for the iTunes age.
-taping fire ants to cardboard and sending them to Chicago “a Texas Trip”
-cockroach snuff movies with Jem Cohen
-talking with Ian Mackaye about weed expenditures
-Double Live BHS, a self released bootleg.
-P.S.Y.
-is it wrong to be weirded out by the fans of your band?
-The band name Honky, and how that can (and has been) misconstrued. Different times and all.

Ep125: Sam Coomes (Quasi, Jon Spencer & the HitMakers)

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Howdy there, friends and well-wishers of the Protonic Reversal, and welcome to another fine program! On this episode, Conan and Josh got to chat with Sam Coomes of Quasi! We talked of so many things:
Interview begins at 10:53

-recording with Jon Spencer
-the Roxichord
-contrasting music and lyrics
-playing in a two piece, and solo
-consistant learning
-being ill-prepared to start a tour
-the timing of switching keyboard patches
-playing with Jandek
-the three B’s: Ballads, blues, and brutal
-not being a session man
-playing favorites and covers in the set
-the Takeovers
-keeping Quasi fresh and why
-learning how not to resent the popular back catalog
-Hot Shit!/writing political songs during “Shock & Awe”
-keeping honest in songwriting
-musical rapport and confidence
-the role of a producer
-having confidence in your vessel on tour
-being where you were trying to get to

Ep124: WORK (Joe Cannon, Kavi Laud, Jeff Brueggeman)

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Josh is out this week. The band WORK returns for a Labor Day weekend tour and Protonic Reversal appearance, their new record Stricly Cruis’n is out and that means it’s time to get loose and talk about such things as:
-Kavi’s move to Austin and his annoyance at traffic and delight at Queso
-ZAGNUT!
-Shane Hochstetler and Steven Drozd
-more Zagnut
-The story behind Strictly Cruis’n and the art by Jason Abele
-ZZ Top and Jazz records
-Where does Taco Bell get their food ideas/The Burger King on Brown Deer Road
-band or fashion label?
-end album “jams”
-Current affairs/politics/etc.
-Pronunciation is key.
-Joe shaved! To match the pictures of the band closer.
-Night Dentist
-One of the most memorable shows Jeff has ever seen… at Landmark Lanes, a bowling alley.

A lot of songs are played off of the new record and good times are had.

songs played:

WORK – Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey
WORK – As It Turns Out, He Didn’t Actually Have Tuberculosis
WORK – Everybody Loves Me Like the Hole in My Head
WORK – (…Somebody Loves Me…)
WORK – Jesus Diapered Our Sins
WORK – Mr Tall Octopus
Shellac – End of Radio (Closing Theme)

Ep123: Toshi Kasai (Engineer and Producer: Melvins, Tool, Helmet)

Toshi Kasai

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Hola, amigos! Welcome to another sweet sweet episode of Protonic Reversal! I know it’s been a long time since we rapped at ya, but we’ve got a great episode here with the one and only Toshi Kasai! We chatted about tons of stuff, like:

-the California fires
-Working with a wide variety of bands
-The JapaNeve
-Building a relationship with Melvins
-the secrets of Sound of Sirens
-How to prep for recording
-Coaching the vocalist
-Favorite equipment
-Recording intricacies
-Getting kidnapped by Big Business
-Altamont (the band)
-Networking via playing live
-the platinum records in the bathroom
-Analog vs. digital? Who cares

And much more! Or maybe not much more, but many more words in between. Whatever! It’s a really fun conversation, so we encourage you to enjoy it!
Interview begins shortly after the 17 minute mark

Songs played:
Melvins – Decay of Lying
Mud – Moonshine Sally
Tweak Bird – Lights in Lines
Qui – Awkward Human Interest
Hurry up Shotgun – Speedbath Megawaste
Shellac – End of Radio (end theme)

Ep122: Mike Greenlees/John Mohr (Tar)

Mike and John from Tar

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Well, well, welcome to another episode of Protonic Reversal! Conan and Josh had fun chats with (separately) Mike and John from Tar! First up was Mike, with whom we discussed such whimsy as:
-A 25 year gap between radio call-in shows
-Getting back into show shape
-Picking songs for the set
-Aiming for Barry White, settling for KC and the Sunshine Band
-Being on Amphetamine Reptile, Touch & Go, Dischord AND Sub Pop
-Tar’s Static and Jawbox’s Static
-Cuddly scene beef with Poster Children
-Sharing a bill with Kyuss
-Fitting in on AmRep
-Various lost arts of record buying and making
-Being on T&G to remain control
-Page Hamiltron trash talk
-The effect of Tom’s arrival on the band’s songwriting
-Henry Owings

Then we got John on the line, and talked about:

-The disastrous last tour of Tar
-Writing the last album
-Picking songs for the reunion sets (yeah we asked him too)
-Being satisfied with the end of the band and getting back together
-Treating the vocals like any other instrument
-Guitars what are made of metal
-Henry Owings

Some circuitous topics, yeah? It was a fun conversation, to be sure! Have yerself a listen!

Songs played:
Tar – Barry White
Tar – Land Luck
Tar – G7
Shellac – End of Radio (end theme)

Ep121: John Yingling (The World Underground)

http://www.theworldunderground.com/

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Globetrotting punk rock documentarian John Yingling, of The World Underground, back in the U.S. for a limited amount of time comes back to Protonic Reversal after a 70 episode, and 3 1/2 year break. We speak of all things documentary, talk about his recent work in Indonesia and future plans for short missives, as well as the next chapter in the World Underground and everything to come. Culture shocks coming back to modern America PK14, All that and a hell of a lot of great music from abroad.

Songs played:

Hiperson – Football Game (Chengdu, China)
Dirty Fingers – School (Shanghai, China)
Lonely Leary – Flaneur (Beijing, China)
Grrrl Gang – Bathroom
hedge hog – Meng Ba La Na Xi​(​勐巴拉娜西) (Jogja, Indonesia)

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