Nice Strong Arm ‎– Cloud Machine E.P.

Label:
Homestead Records ‎– HMS147-1
Format:
Vinyl, EP, 12", 45 RPM
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Credits

Notes

Side A recorded and Mixed in May 1989 at Baby Monster Studios, NYC.
Side B recorded live May 13, 1989 at CBGB, NYC.

© & ℗ 1989 Homestead Records
Printed in Canada
Manufactured and distributed by Dutch East India Trading.

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HighwireDays

HighwireDays

February 15, 2017
edited about 1 year ago

A review I wrote on rateyourmusic.com in 2007:
The title track is absolutely jaw-dropping, echoing Sonic Youth's Sister / D.N.-era deathmatch of pop against noize. The pulverisingly genius riff is straight out of air guitar heaven, like what would happen if J Mascis kidnapped Eddie Van Halen's soul and sold it for ransom to Dick Dale. The strangely beautiful chorus ("There is a cloud machine hanging over our heads") is delivered so magically, so perfectly, that you will never want to forget it or comprehend it. These guys probably listened to a lot of Hüsker Dü, at least that's what I pick up in the melody department. Back to the guitar part: It's like a 3-D mashup of Jimi Hendrix's in "Spanish Castle Magic" with Bailter Space's in "Now I Will Live" and Swervedriver's in "Blowin' Cool," and it comes dangerously close to tearing apart the galaxy's space-time continuum, so it's probably best to close your door before listening. At first it almost sounds like improvised jazz noodling, but it comes together in your head as a serpentine riff the more you listen to it, and it acts as a magic carpet underneath the vocals, the two carrying each other forward with effortless propulsive force. I reject the autonomy/exaltation of The Riff in rock music, but this song proves that sometimes you have to just surrender yourself to the witchcraft of those six strings. There's a vast, "desert rock" feel to the riff, but it's eons better than anything by Kyuss, don't worry. Another cool lyric from the song: "There's no room in this room for us to expand." There's also a voice talking in the left speaker throughout parts of the song, saying cryptic snippets that add to the overall momentous feel. And the drums are recorded in gorgeous surround sound, pulsating laterally with great depth. The song is just a tour de force in all ways, and you can tell the band knew it and wanted to spend a lot of time recording it just right, contrary to the quickie-is-cool attitude of most noise rockers.
"Cop Show" is an instrumental surf-thrash scorcher that probably made Steve Vai cry into his Count Chocula. The two live tracks sound astonishingly similar to NSA's labelmates Live Skull (this is a big compliment) and early Swans, but with an even darker undertow, plus legitimately singable choruses. With a slow song or two, this disc would be very close to a 5-star rating for me.
This EP should be hunted down by fans of stuff like Poem Rocket, Bailter Space, Band Of Susans, Unwound, and of course S.Y. To call it mere "noise rock" is selling it short, and I feel that genre name scares people away from checking out music that they would probably dig, so I try to avoid it. But this is far more jagged than "noise pop," so one can't call it that. Oh well... To top it off, the vinyl [on a different edition] is purple, and the cover art is some kind of blurry blue & white fractal design that keeps you guessing. Tommy Victor of Prong was the engineer on the two live tracks.