Friday, September 18, 2009


Lowell, Massachusetts is a strange place. Notorious for being poverty stricken and home to one of the UMASS campuses, Lowell is more a haven for Asian gangs, crack use and junkies. Nestled in the middle however is RRR Records, run by Ron of Emil Beaulieau fame. Ron has thousands of rock and pop records on the walls and it's not rare to see him in some weird musical debate about the relevancy of (insert known or obscure rock icon here) with random locals. But you almost wonder if these Elvis collectors ever took the time to sift through the thousands of noise cassettes, compact discs and vinyl that Ron possibly makes a living off of via the internet. RRR has always been a trusted retailer and label in it's own right, releasing a plethora of noise releases from bands and artists all over the world. Crude, stripped down packaging has been the norm but not always the rule... whereas most can tell an American Tapes release by John Olson's artwork, Ron's aesthetics are almost like Olson in his childhood sketchbook. Dumbed down, primitive scribble and packing tape as cover art.

So I frequented RRR whenever I had an excuse to do so... Lowell isn't exactly far from where I grew up but it's not really "on the way" to anything besides trips to other run down Massachusetts cities (Worcester, Springfield) or New York. After doing my best to make sure the store was even open, I arrived one day shortly after eating some speed and scooped up several tape and vinyl releases from whoever caught my eye. When I arrived home that night my friend Fife and I jammed the 15 or 20 tapes I bought and I found myself immediately drawn to "Live, Estral Beach, MI" by Mammal, self released on his Animal Disguise imprint. As disgusting and blown out as the rest of the lot, but strangely rhythmic, the gnarl of synth crunch and tape hiss smashed into your brain in the same way a drumbeat would. I became a follower at that very moment, about four years late to my dismay, and began grabbing whatever I could find.

Mammal is a guy named Gary from Michigan who played a pretty big role I'd imagine alongside Wolf Eyes, Hive Mind and other Midwest noise neu-legends who have been at it strong for the past decade plus. Recently relocating to Tacoma, WA, which is in many ways similar to Lowell aesthetically and it's history of gang violence, something seems to have clicked and changed within this man's brain. Channeling the pummeling, soulless monotony of Suicide through distortion and crafting something all his own, a surprisingly melodic and straight forward Mammal emerges from his noisy past. "Lonesome Drifter" is a complete masterpiece. Two LP's of crushing downer vibes... this is either one big joke on society or we truly have here a man who's friends gossip behind his back about rare glimpses of a smile forming on his somber face during times they hung out. We could have a totally pleasant, nice guy here but his music conveys a different image altogether. Indifference overpowers excitement, but don't think the music is in anyway boring. Sifting through the piles of cassettes and CDR's he's unleashed over the years, comparing those to "proper" full lengths and trying to make sense of his progression will never leave you questioning his seriousness or validity. Even the most obscure tapes showed an artist on to something all his own, but what exists in such a rare form is your inability to deny that he's probably happy regardless of who hears it, hence the limited number of copies each release has been granted since his start. I think that's a beautiful thing to find in an artist... with it being almost impossible to ignore the blatant attempts bands make to appeal to audiences no matter how large or small. Here we have a true statement of love or hate from an overlooked yet relevant musician in a time when obscurity is just as much an attempt to appeal as aiming for the current trend.


  1. Mammal fucking rules, i'm a huge fan of his stuff. I picked up the "badlands" tape about a month ago, has some pretty sweet lonesome drifter tracks on it.

  2. i've been jamming lonesome drifter since it came out , it's nice music to draw too.