I always try to pay attention to international exchange rates. Aside from being interested in the political implications thereof, it’s interesting to see what our tiny pieces of paper are worth compared to everyone else’s tiny pieces of paper. Occasionally you can get a bargain too, if you play your cards right.
As of today, the euro is worth $1.36, which isn’t bad. Of course, the market is turbulent (if you don’t believe me, search your favorite news site for the words “Greece” and “economy”), but I managed recently to hit up The Stone Circle, the mailorder of Spanish label Alone Records and come out of it on the positive side of the equation. Not financially, of course, but existentially.
It was Fatso Jetson‘s 1999 outing, Flames for All, that hooked me. Aside from being a Man’s Ruin release — anyone who’s been around this site for a while should know of my Kozik fetish — it’s also the only record they did as a four-piece, the lineup including Mario and Larry Lalli, drummer Tony Tornay and, as the fourth for doubles, Gary Arce of Yawning Man. It’s like a desert party pressed to plastic and I had to have it, so after a relatively exhausting search for comparison prices/conditions, The Stone Circle won out.
And I figured, hey, while I’m on the site, might as well see what else they’ve got lying around, right? If you could have just one CD, they wouldn’t have shaped them so similarly to potato chips (krinkle-cut notwithstanding).
I opted into Acajou‘s Latin Lover on Red Sun, which came out two years after Flames for All (I also bought Norwegian act Thulsa Doom‘s meh-diocre She Fucks Me EP based solely on its awesomely budget-lacking cover art, but it doesn’t suit my narrative, so I’m going to leave it out) but nonetheless bears a cover also prominently featuring the visage of an orangutan. A little less Dr. Zaius than Flames for All, perhaps — and you could say the same thing for the music on the album, I suppose — but not so out of place, one next to the other. Being continually fascinated by Italian stoner rock (bands like Black Rainbows, of course Ufomammut and the sundry descendants of Paul Chain‘s experimentalism), I figured I couldn’t lose.
Latin Lover has a definite ’90s influence. The riffs are straight up stoner rock, but there’s a post-grunge tinge to the vocals, especially when Alessandro Ruffato comes into harmony with himself, reminiscent at points of Cantrell/Staley — no small accomplishment for a single singer. In that regard, “Go Vegan” and the “Demon Cleaner”-esque “Lonely” are album highlights.
Compared to Flames for All, which isn’t shy about showing off Fatso Jetson‘s instrumental side, Latin Lover is the more straightforward of the two albums, but Acajou‘s psychedelia arises out of an entirely different context than that of Fatso Jetson‘s, the Palm Desert being audibly bled into the sonics of “Vatos of the Astral Plane” or the later “August in Lawndale.” Latin Lover is probably best tackled in a minimum of two sittings, as the back half begins to drag when experienced in immediate succession to the first, but on its own the component songs hold up — “Buenos Aires” being particularly strong in atmosphere. For what it’s worth, Flames for All will be over before you know it and you’ll have to listen three more times before you feel like you’ve experienced the album.
Acajou are still reportedly playing shows, and Fatso Jetson have a new album in the works and are on this year’s Roadburn lineup, so anyone looking to check out either band is not without opportunity to do so, and if you want to hit up the Alone Records mailorder to see what you can convert your dollars into, The Stone Circle is here.
Tags: Acajou, Alone Records, California, Fatso Jetson, Italy, Man's Ruin, Record Shopping, Red Sun