Monsters of rock

Heavenly hardness from Chinese Stars and Six Finger Satellite
By CHRIS CONTI  |  November 10, 2009



Full-lengths from local rock icons Six Finger Satellite and the Chinese Stars (both released by new Provy label Anchor Brain) provide a decimating double-dose of kinetic madness. Six Finger’s A Good Year for Hardness and the Stars’ Heaven on Speed Dial excel within their respective aurally-twisted blueprints, and the bands are currently on tour together melting faces nationwide. Pick up both of these albums immediately.

Hardness follows Six Finger’s Half Control, which was originally recorded in 2001 and finally released late last year. Hardness stands out among the best in the 6FS catalog; there’s still some of the space-age synth-pouncing sweeping across those jagged riffs from 6FS co-founder Rick Pelletier and crisp rhythms provided by drummer Brian Dufresne and bass-ist Dan St. Jacques, with J Ryan leading the charge. Opener “Hot Food” seems almost tame by Six Finger standards during the first 2.5 minutes (in comparison to Half Control’s first cut, “Thrown Out”) — until Ryan mauls the mic with a blood-curdling 10-second scream and yelp. “Roam from Home,” “Midnight Rails,” and “Wilson P” build slowly around Ryan’s classic couplets, as the Satellite slams through the ocean floor (hence the album cover?) and trudges up murky, hypnotizing numbers throughout. The tight trifecta of “Half Life,” “Swamp Wanda” (“I’m drinkin’ deep from muddy waters and makin’ time for sons and daughters,” Ryan howls), and “Broken Brain” during the latter half provide a perfect intro for the uninitiated. On the unnerving, slow-churning finale “Rise,” Ryan gets behind warped effects and declares “machines are gonna rise” in an eerie haze. A re-cent 6FS Twitter post read: “Blah blah eletcro-punks blah blah disco beats blah blah. Get over it, please.” And Ryan made it perfectly clear during a recent interview (before a mind-blowing set at Everyman) that this remains no comeback: “We never left, and never will,” he proclaimed. After seven full-length albums and almost 20 years in the business, Six Finger Satellite continue to find ways to reignite the torch.

Anchor Brain commends the latest Chinese Stars release as a “no-bullshit freak rock journey.” Heaven on Speed Dial is the third full-length installment from former Arab On Radar members Craig Kurek and vocalist Eric Paul, and the result is another set of twisted, impossibly catchy, and coke-friendly dance floor jams. Speed Dial careens from jittery chaos on the opening “Rabbit Face” into the woozy bassline of “No Car No Blow Job,” followed by squealing keys and Paul’s trademark falsetto-from-Hell on “Body”: “I believe I found your feet in my glove compartment and I believe I saw your teeth floating down the gutter/You been leavin’ pieces of yourself all over the city.” Tracks such as “House is Burning,” “Kill Me with Your Conversation,” and “Lick It Clean” continue the sex, drugs, and more drugs credo. “If you want me to look good, drink some more,” Paul says on “Thanksgiving Day Massacre,” before repeating the hilarious “I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna go out to lunch with your mother.” Heaven on Speed Dial is another thrilling hellride from one of the most unique bands to ever bombard the Providence music community.

Pick up Heaven and Hardness at Armageddon Records (436 Broadway, Providence), iTunes,

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