If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be," Yogi Berra once said, and you might say the same about rock 'n' roll. That's certainly how Michael Rank feels. He just finished the recording, mixing and mastering of the forthcoming new Snatches of Pink album, and he did it as raw as possible. "After 20 years and 10 albums, I'm at the point that my demos are so much cooler than what gets released, because you end up chasing this thing you already did," Rank said from Atlanta, where he was playing with his other band, Marat. "My demos had such a perfectly fucked up vibe that I brought all my guitars and vocals to John Plymale at Overdub Lane, dumped them onto their big board, and the band recorded live to my guitar tracks. I don't play with a click track, so it's truly Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."
The new album, Stag, should be out on Charlotte's MoRisen Records the beginning of next year, and features Snatch regulars bassist Kevin Clark (The Man) and guitarist Mark Smith (Patty Hurst Shifter), as well as the Two Dollar Pistols' John Howie on drums.
"This truly is my late '70s era Stones album: It's very slabbed out and full on. It's slower and groovy, at least for us," Rank says. "Before, we'd have a shitload of songs and it'd be a half hour. This one has nine songs and it's 41 minutes long."
Rumbling, angular space rockers The Nein have also just finished up an album. The band, which has a noisy rock ethos reminiscent of Wire, sold an early unmixed/mastered version of the EP (entitled Twelve Thirteen Fourteen) at their shows, and have not only cleaned up the sound in post-production but added two new songs. It will be released on Canadian label Sonic Unyon, according to singer/guitarist Finn Cohen. The Nein are the label's first American signing, one of the reasons the band chose them, feeling they could "give us more attention than other labels we talked to that already had a ton of American bands."
Out now on a short regional tour, when The Nein return they'll be going back into the studio with Jay Murphy at Pontchartrain Audio to work on a full-length, also for Sonic Unyon.
Jon Shain will be looking for a label after finishing up his second album of Piedmont blues, folk and bubbling bluegrass. Shain, who played locally in the '90s with Flyin' Mice and their spin-off group WAKE, recorded with Richard Thompson sidemen Dave Mattacks and Tom Dube, who also recorded his solo debut, No Tag, No Tail Light. Instead of recording in Dube's home studio this time, they went to Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade's Camp Street Studios (formerly Fort Apache) and High and Dry Studios, run by Morphine's former members after Mark Sandman's death and dotted with Sandman's effects, including his trademark two-string basses.
Though there's still some work to be done, Shain reports that "Dave (Mattacks) feels it's already several notches above the last album." That's a propitious sign, because his debut was an understated triumph.
Snatches of Pink play Martin Street Music Hall in Raleigh, Wednesday, Aug. 4. Jon Shain is playing Lake Benson in Garner, Saturday, August 28 for PineCone, the series of concerts sponsored by the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music. The Nein will be playing Sept. 18 at Ooh La Latte with Jett Rink. Making Tracks The Ghost of Rock, self-titles Demonbeach Records (llll out of 5)
That Ghost of Rock bears more than a passing resemblance to local nineties punk rock powerhouse Pipe is hardly surprising, given that it reunites that band's central characters--whiskey-throated growler Ron Liberti and gutter-grime guitarist Clifton Lee Mann. Indeed, the band's self-titled debut seems to pick up right where Pipe left off with 1997's Merge release Slowboy. There's that familiar garage guitar crunch--dirtier than R. Kelly's mind and nastier than a rundown Southern Shell station bathroom--as well as Liberti's rugged, gargling glass vocals by way of Stiv Bators, all delivered in the time it'd take Courtney Love to batter Robert Christgau into submission. But there's a new aesthetic at play as well, best evidenced on "Avoid Disconnect," an instantly infectious slacker anthem that wobbles with a chunky, jangling melodicism reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. Indeed, sprinkled across the album are songs that offer more than a Dead Boy/Stooge-ish sludge (not that there's anything wrong with that), such as "Rats in the Basement," which recalls the hyperactive rush of Superchunk's debut; "Pawn Pawn," which exposes a country sway reminiscent of Social D; and "All I Ever," which surveys "all the dreams I left behind," ascending Mann's craggy, ringing lead guitar. www.demonbeachrecords.com. The Ghost of Rock plays next at Cat's Cradle August 17 with Throw Rag and King Flude.