• ape school Junior Violence (CD, £9.75)

    label: Hometapes

    Half-howled, the first song on Ape School's new album sums up birth, death, and the guilt you face as you drop the needle on side A: Did you know you fucked yourself? Everything is on the other side of that question. Answer it and you'll wonder why you're just now fessing up. Tell your truth and the Oberheim OB-8 will cascade like a waterfall. The bass line will try to feel you up. It's all foreplay for the anthemic "Marijuana's on the Phone" and the nine tracks that follow, adding up to the second album from Ape School, the flaming sigil for a man named Michael Johnson. Junior Violence is part confession, part blitz, part hangover, and part ascension. Over the past three years, Johnson built and demolished with equal fervor. Junior Violence was constructed version-by-version, through the controlled burns and tropical storms of experimentation, collaboration, a well-timed Eventide sponsorship, day jobs (teaching), and night jobs (playing and recording with friends War on Drugs and Kurt Vile). Part of Philadelphia's musical fabric for a decade, Johnson started life in Florida. Born into that solid-state bed of Def Leppard and Van Halen and the subsequent pan-generational cures of Jane's Addiction and Dinosaur Jr., Johnson went from building guitars out of legos and smoking joints at church talent shows into the Gainesville d.i.y. scene and a pile of bands -- including Holopaw. Touring, joining the Sub Pop label, album-crafting with Brian Deck, and Johnson's first taste of digital recording meshed with his march toward professorship at UArts Philadelphia. That geographic shift coincided with tourmate Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) introducing Johnson to Kurt Vile, an IDM love affair giving way to a lifelong relationship with Daedelus (who released the first Ape School record on CD after it was tracked and mixed at Rastafari studio in Brooklyn), and Johnson playing in the last audible breaths of Lilys. The Ape School equation, worked out in real time on the I-95 corridor, is audible in Junior Violence's forty minutes. Experience, context, the skill to build a raging fire, and the confidence to toss ideas straight into the blaze drove Michael Johnson to embrace first takes, to fuck up, to play match maker between Pink Floyd and Prince, between Soft Machine and Queen, and to build a band out of geniuses. The album and live lineup features Eric Slick on drums, who joined Ape School while he was playing with Adrian Belew (King Crimson) and who went on to join Dr. Dog. Liz Boyd, Scott Churchman, Adam Ravitz, and a rotating roster of UArts students perform as Ape School and round out its undeniable wall of sound. Tracklist: 1. A New Low! It Sucks Itself! 2. Marijuana's on the Phone 3. Carry On 4. Cocaine & Guns ASAP 5. Dirty Money 6. Beneficiary (Don't Blame Me) 7. Ready for Duty 8. You Don't Know You Don't Know 9. Sourpuss Down to a Science 10. Weak in the Teeth 11. Piss it Away

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