BACK TO DONUT CITY! (-Pepsi Sheen reviews BILLY TSOUNIS “NEFELIBATA”…)
I don’t know about you, but I grew up really close to a mall with a video game arcade and lived right behind a drive-in, and man do I wonder what the hell ever happened to those delinquent dirtbike ridin’, Little Kings guzzling, parachute pants wearing, new wave bozos, who started their hoplessly low budget, misfit garage punk bands to win the hearts of untouchable blonde Aphrodite’s with three chord love songs, misguided acts of petty vandalism, after midnight residential and hotel pool hopping, and knocking quietly on her bedroom window to walk around holding hands on the dirt trails beneath the underpass, on full moon summer nights. Aw, wow, man. What the fuck happened? It’s been thirty years. Not ten or fifteen. Fuckin’ thirty years. I never got over ANY of it. I still hate the richkids in the Miami Vice jackets. I still wear the same style sunglasses. Same poster of Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science stuck in my mind. I still wanted to reunite the band, right? Pathetic as it may sound, to some khaki shorts wearing, boat owning, rat race winners, I’m still him, the pimply, weird Joey Ramone in the Psychedelic Furs t shirt from the sparkly iron-on place at the mall. I don’t relate to Skrillex or Gaga, at all. I’m still a Van Halen kid, at heart. Old and fat in spiked bracelets and Checkered Vans. Longhair, black t shirts, and four walls covered with guitar hero pinups from Circus and Kerrang! magazines, still writing his shitty, seldom heard, three chord love and anti-war protest songs….I still love rocknroll.
Ya know? Billy Tsounis is one of those dazzling, flash fingered, guitar player’s guitar players-you know, like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai, he possesses a seemingly limitless crayon box, and an obvious jazz from hell Zappa influence. One thing that makes his work exceptional among all the Brian May and Yngwie Malmsteen guitar scientists, is unlike the rest of those wanking hammer on and on, Junior Eddie Van Halens, Billy Tsounis actually understands what a song is. Almost all those other guys worshipped in “Guitar For The Practicing Musician Magazine” think a song is merely a solo, or a series of ever accelerating, overpaid, autopilot solos, whipped-off to impress younger soloists, whereas, Billy gets it. He’s a total soulman. He sends all those spandex-clad, too rich to be good, major label metal dorks to bitch school, with his subtlety, vivid and potent, black and white cinematography, diverse palette, undeniable investment of actual emotions, relentless risk taking and melodic moods sometimes with just one perfectly said note and/or the most basic riffs. He’s a master of effortless, less is more, understatement. He has an enormous musical vocabulary but uses his many visceral tones and brash tongues to tell simple stories. “Let The Coconut Shine” reminds me of Prince B-Sides, at their most spiritual. Rooftop ruminations. Soulful skychurch tone poems. Jesse Johnson would appreciate this stuff. All his psychedelic instrumentals are so full of texture, nuance, poetry, he is an unusually gifted and inventive rocknroll guitar player always pushing boundaries, squinting at sunrises, finding forbidden new frontiers.
His rousing collaborations with Circus Of Power frontman, Alex Mitchell, in Fat Nancy and Captain Zapped, explore all kinds of surrealistic realms and languages, they will do some sentimental country music one moment, real down home, faded paint porchswing, melancholic, outlaw ballads like Willie Nelson, but then, turn right around and unleash a needle storm of black-lit space rock, that’s as heavy for your head as Ya Ho Wha 13 jamming with Mick Farren & The Deviants. Back to nature poems and bonfire sing-alongs. Beach Boys from Armageddon last surfer in hell heavy molten metal and totally consoling and picturesque summertime skinny dipping at the old gang’s watering hole sunkissed soul pop with cut-offs and Frisbees. From dangerously hardcore acidhead hermit painter in Joshua Tree hallucinating on Absinthe music that Julian Cope could love, to the most basic three chord, raunchyassed, Honkin’ On hobos, can of beans, delta blues. In Captain Zapped, they are freewheeling time travelers, lonely planet boys, diggin’ through pyramids and blowing smoke off ancient scriptures they found beneath an old stash of Hustler magazines in the basement room of the Vatican with the furry carpet all over the walls. Ian Hunter says you are never alone as a schizophrenic, and Billy’s got more provocative characters and personalities and strange cultures living inside his guitar then Facebook has righteously angry drag queens–who NSA mole Zuckerberg accuses of “lacking integrity” for not using their birthnames on his spy-grid. You may be a billionaire sniveling douchelord, but don’t piss of one billion drag queens, Harvard boy! Anyway, it’s always exciting to say ELLO to a new platter of Transcendental Billy Tsounis horizon-jams, cause he transports us away from all this neo-conned, Wall street bankster owned and operated fascist police state, gloom and doom, on a gleefully upbeat magic carpet ride, while inspiring us with freshly blazed Bold As Love freakadelic visions from the grape beyond. “Duckface Baboon Ass Castration” is what happens when Captain Beefheart and George Clinton smoke crack in Steve Vai‘s wine cellar. This is 70’s van stoner rock for irreverent intellectuals. Full-blast Fast Times On Friday Night Fun.
Sprawling universes, shooting stars, skateboards covered with Black Flag and Dead Kennedys stickers, carnivals full of sno-cone sucking, caramel apple gnawing, longlashed, carrying their flip-flops, and wet beach towels, barefooted temptresses in Strawberries N Cream string bikinis, you can almost smell her suntan lotion, and abruptly erupting volcanic visions of humanity’s paling ecological future and massive destruction from immoral land grabs, bullshit propaganda psy-op’s, and elitist wars. Evoking indian summer nights leaning up against your Mustang with a young girl and eleven more beers by the old reservoir, Smashing Pumpkins playing softly on the radio. Then, another wave of bad trip visions, military helicopters, missing limbs and piles of bricks. Fleeting moments of youthful bliss, pure, cotton candied, fairground tone poetry, and anxious pangs of ominous dread and stop and frisk gestapo cops. Billy Tsounis is inarguably one of the most rambunctiously creative hard rock guitar-virtuosos of the drone-age. An amiable Eddie Hazel for dudes who wear lots of skullrings and big Saxon back patches on their denim vest. I think he met his frequent songwriting partner, Al Mitchell, at a Faith No More/Circus Of Power gig, back in the day, and if you are a fan of either of those bands, you will dig the rollicking sonic metal experiments of “Nefelibata”. You know how all those casual Smiths fans, who loved them in the eighties, still pine hopelessly for a reunion, even though Morrissey has gone on to do some of his best work with his new band? That’s kind of the story with Circus Of Power, too. Al was brilliant in the motor rock era, but with visionary Billy Tsounis at his side, in CAPTAIN ZAPPED, he has gone on to new peaks, usually glimpsed only by yaks and Sherpas and Tibetan monks and Himalayan Tahrs. Alt-metal juggernaut, Billy Tsounis, is a restless, reincarnated emperor in search of new hybrid kingdoms of druggy sound, a sleazy guru in search of braless converts on the side of Bon Scott’s lost highway, almost constantly generating an epic onslaught of quirky and hallucinogenic tunes that are both complex and dramatic. Simple and panoramic. “Cowboy Lands Plane Eats Cow” reminds you of those yearning David Lee Roth ballads like, “Sunburn” or “Big Trouble”, that are always so full of feeling, innocence and desire, and you almost wish that Roth was around to put some “In A Simple Rhyme” or “Hear About It Later” type song lyrics to this sweet, legs dangling off the pier soundtrack.
Remember all those early Flaming Lips albums with the heartfelt slow songs like “When I’m With You”? “Nefelibata” crashes it’s fifties flying saucer in a delightfully grotesque and sunglasses wearing, adolescent domain somewhere in between Prince “Sign Of The Times” and insecure weirdo, vintage Flaming Lips. A manic Creem Magazine full of rollicking and profane music best appreciated on a beanbag chair and some headphones in a red lit trip room, or belligerently barreling down the road at night, blaring thunderous songs with long names for teenage heads, on your way to naked festivals in faroff deserts. “Nefelibata” is a tirelessly inventive and articulate onslaught of discordant, melted face, road warrior antheming and ceaselessly eloquent, neon flickering, carousel wonderment for weary hermits, cocky crossdressers, and doomed speed freaks of all ages. If you like Public Image Ltd., the Butthole Surfers, classic Van Halen, or the Jimi Hendrix Experience, there’s something in this absurdly astonishing array of sundappled spliffage for all of us. It makes me feel there’s still songs to be sung. His latest collection is a characteristically offbeat and elemental batch of farout cosmic debris blasting outta broken boombox speakers on drunk backporches, nationwide. It’s like the night the Cult met Wendy & Lisa and took too much peyote and became a Magma cover band. Tell all your friends! DRUG WAR IS OVER. (IF YOU WANT IT!)