Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – May 2024Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – May 2024

May tour dates!

5/17 – Hardline Coffee Company, Sioux City, IA

5/18 – Crystal Corner Bar, Madison, Wisconsin #

5/19 – Cactus Club, Milwaukee, Wisconsin %+

5/21 – Northside Tavern, Cincinnati, OH >

5/22 – Planet of the Tapes, Louisville, KY*

5/23 – Liar’s Club, Chicago, Illinois*$

5/24-5/27 – Caterwaul, Minneapolis, MN

5/28 – High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI^

# w/ The Cult of Lip

% w/ Body Futures

+ w/ Hot Coffin

> w/ CNTS

* w Part Chimp

$ w/ Art Gray Noizz Quintet

^ w Brainiac Band

Hopefully that doesn’t read like the Zodiac Killer code. First midwest shows since last summer, wow, really? Yeah I guess so. Great poster by Plastic Flame Press


LUNG x CONAN NEUTRON & THE SECRET FRIENDS: cello-grunge powerhouse joins forces with Melvins-affiliated rockers on electrifying new split LP; West Coast tour announced

Learning Curve Records announces the October 6th release of Adult Prom, the new split LP by Lung and Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends.

Pre-order the album, here:

Stream new Lung track, “Fucked Up Darling,” here:

Stream new Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends track, “Wild Antics,” here:

Adult Prom is an example of the magic that can happen when an unlikely pair of bands, bonded more by spirit than by sound, choose to join forces and make a thing together. Like a mouthful of sugar and salt, the contrast between the two reveals the power of each. 

Where Lung brings sheer intensity, executed with dark, neoclassical flair, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends revel in an exuberant, noisy reimagining of classic rock. Despite the divergent energies, these bands are united by friendship and mutual respect and they give themselves, one hundred percent, to this project. On Adult Prom, not only do the two share space on a slab of vinyl; each also covers one song by the other, reinterpreting it in its own singular style, and members lend their talents to other tracks as guest vocalists and musicians.

Explaining how the collab came to be, Conan Neutron states, simply: “We are fans of each other’s music and enjoy each other’s company and it just seemed like a cool thing to do.”

From Cincinnati, Ohio, Lung consists of Kate Wakefield, a classically trained opera singer and cellist, and drummer Daisy Caplan, formerly of Foxy Shazam. Fierce, ethereal, and heavy as hell, Lung rocks with the intensity of early grunge, layered with sinister undertones. “Tony Iommi teaching a Nirvana class at Juilliard,” reads one review from Cincinnati paper CityBeat.

“PJ Harvey is absolutely brilliant,” states Wakefield. “I also am a huge fan of Tori Amos, Hole, Cibo Matto. I also love dramatic classical composers like Prokofiev, Sibelius and Barber – who are all pretty metal, in a way. Daisy has also introduced me to tons of bands that have influenced our style since we started playing, like Minutemen, Smart Went Crazy, and Death From Above. Our sound is intentionally genre-bending, but the consistent thread is that everything we do has an intensity to it. We mean every word and every note we play, and people can feel that.”

People can feel that, indeed, as Wakefield runs her cello through distortion pedals and big amps, and Caplan pounds out earthquaking beats on cartoonishly bell-shaped, vintage North drums. A relentless touring machine, the duo has played over 700 shows across North America and Europe, on bills with Brainiac, Screaming Females, Fucked Up, and so many more.

With roots in Oakland, California, transplanted to Milwaukee, Conan Neutron is a wildly prolific musician, podcaster, and impresario. As a co-founder and curator of Caterwaul Festival, and as the founder and host of the Protonic Reversal podcast, Neutron is a self-built pillar of what he has termed “independent-minded, iconoclastic, noisy music.” With Caterwaul, he has helped create an annual fest that has quickly become a major new axis for this “noisy music” scene, putting the likes of Flipper and Chat Pile on one stage and serving to strengthen a community of diverse, yet connected, bands and fans. With Protonic Reversal, he has chatted for hours with an absolutely legendary list of artists – members of The Stooges, Devo, The Birthday Party, Black Flag, and Fugazi, to name but a few – amassing a huge library of conversations that exists as a resource for the world to enjoy.

As a band leader, Neutron wields the same creative fire and the same knack for putting exceptional people under one roof. His rhythm section, The Secret Friends, consists of none other than Melvins drum-slayer Dale Crover and bassist Tony Ash, formerly of Coliseum. (When Neutron takes the show on the road, he and Ash are joined by a revolving cast of live players – “a bench deeper than a baseball team,” in Neutron’s words.)

Contrary to what one might expect from these guys, the sound hits like a burlier version of power pop – more Cheap Trick than AmRep. Honed over four full-length albums and shows with Big Business, Torche, and more, the songwriting and execution are world-class. Crover’s iconic drumming lays the foundation for rich tones, sweet hooks, and Neutron’s croon.

Given the underground cred of Neutron and his gang, their choice to rock unabashedly might come across like a subversive act. Neutron puts it like this: “What we do is BIG WEIRD ROCK MUSIC. I have to throw the WEIRD in, because when people think of rock music they tend to think of slavish imitators of bygone eras or a specific kind of very safe consonant guitar music for middle managers and wraparound shade dads.”

One press release from the recent past calls it: “small scale arena rock for smart alecks and malcontents.”

Lung’s tracks on Adult Prom were recorded and mixed by John Hoffman at The Lodge in Dayton, KY; Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends’ trackswere engineered and mixed by Toshi Kasai. The album was mastered by Shellac’s Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service.

Adult Prom’s album artwork, created by Aaron Cross, comprises paintings of the two bands’ vans – two 2006 Ford Econolines, coincidentally. On October 6th, the day of the LP’s release, Lung and Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends will get in said vans and kick off a West Coast tour together. (See those dates, along with Lung’s other upcoming touring, below.)

Adult Prom tracklist:

1) Lung – Fucked Up Darling
2) Lung – Kingpin
3) Lung – Cash Machine (Two Ton Boa cover)
4) Lung – The Impossible Task (Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends cover)
5) Lung – Pastor
6) Lung – Anyone Else (feat. Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends)
7) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Wild Antics
8) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Crybullies
9) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Fridging (feat. Kate Wakefield of Lung)
10) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – I’m Nervous (Lung cover)
11) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Criminal Hypnosis
12) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – We Were Wolves

Lung w/ Screaming Females:

Aug 16 – Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant St
Aug 17 – Cincinnati, OH @ Legends
Aug 18 – Chattanooga, TN @ Songbirds
Aug 19 – Asheville, NC @ Static Age Records
Aug 20 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd

Sep 1 – Michigan City, IN @ Oktoberfest
Sep 2 – Indianapolis, IN @ Romanus Fest
Sep 7 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
Sep 8 – Athens, GA @ Flicker Theatre

Lung w/ Djunah:
Sep 9 – Savannah, GA @ It Takes Two fest
Sep 10 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Sep 11 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle

Lung w/ Thelma and the Sleaze:
Sep 19 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House Revival
Sep 20 – Louisville, KY @ Whirling Tiger
Sep 21 – Athens, OH @ Union
Sep 22 – Cincinnati OH @ Fountain Square
Sep 23 – Lafayette, IN @ North End Pub
Sep 24 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle

Sep 26 – St. Louis, MO @ CBGB
Sep 28 – Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
Sep 29 – Austin, TX @ The Electric Church
Sep 30 – San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse
Oct 1 – El Paso TX @ Mona
Oct 2 – Bisbee, AZ @ The Quarry

Lung w/ Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends:

Oct 6 – Tempe, AZ @ Time Out Lounge
Oct 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar and Grill
Oct 8 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Oct 9 – Sacramento, CA @ Old Ironsides
Oct 10 – Reno, NV @ The Loving Cup
Oct 11 – Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond’s Garage
Oct 12 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
Oct 13 – Bellingham, WA @ Make Shift Art Space
Oct 14 – Seattle, WA @ Southgate Roller Rink


Oct 20 – Logansport, IN @ The Record Farm
Oct 21 – Dayton, OH @ Dayton Music Fest

Photo of Lung, by Rachelle Caplan
Photo of Conan Neutron, by Abbey Garside

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends and The Erratic Retaliator Strategy present: Dangerous Nomenclature Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends and The Erratic Retaliator Strategy present: Dangerous Nomenclature 

“What’s in a name? Would ‘Kiss From a Rose’ by any other name sound so sweet?”
Easy concept, kids. Two bands that are idiosyncratic and unique and are frequently related to the cultural dead end of “project” team up for a wild concept.

THE MISSION: pick 3 song titles
Each band writes a song to the song title, without hearing or knowing anything about the other band’s work.

The title inspires the music, the lyrics, the entire approach. Certainly things have a chance of getting interesting, yes?

Anyway, what transpires is the results of this collaboration/challenge. Feast your ears upon it… if you dare!

VINYL PRE-ORDER COMING SOON THROUGH LEARNING CURVE RECORDS, when we have a more realistic idea of the timeline when it might actually arrive. Thank all the Adele and Taylor Swift collector’s records for that.


released February 4, 2022

The Erratic Retaliator Strategy
Mike – guitar, vocals
Ron – bass, vocals

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends:
Conan Neutron – Vocals/Guitars
Tony Ash – Bass
Dale Crover – Drums
Toshi Kasai – Backup Vocals, Keys, Synth

Recorded and produced April 15th, 2021 and September 11th, 2021 by Toshi Kasai at Sound of Sirens

NeutronFriends Heavy Industries, Worldwide.

Artwork by Chris Williams – Plastic Flame Press (
Mastered by Bob Weston, Chicago Mastering Service, January 2022

LCR-080-1 / SW030

Lung / Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends West Coast Adult Prom tour, October 2023! Lung / Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends West Coast Adult Prom tour, October 2023! 

10/06/2023 – Tempe/AZ – Time Out Lounge W/Bright Sunshine, Hot Probs
10/07/2023 – Los Angeles/CA – Redwood Bar and Grill w/The Freeks
10/08/2023 – San Francisco/CA – Bottom of the Hill (Afternoon BBQ Show) w/Cassette Prophet
10/09/2023 – Sacramento/CA – Old Ironsides
10/10/2023 – Reno/NV – The Loving Cup w/Elephant Rifle
10/11/2023 – Eugene/OR – Sam Bond’s Garage w/Silence Mill
10/12/2023 – Portland/OR – High Water Mark
10/13/2023 – Bellingham/WA – Make Shift Art Space (Bellingham Exit)
10/14/2023 – Seattle/WA – Southgate Roller Rink (Rat City Recon)

All dates with LUNG. We will have LP and CD of Adult Prom at all of these shows. Pre-orders still available.

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends:Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends:

Fall Tour: (some dates with mclusky)

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends will be supporting the mighty mclusky for three shows on the west coast next month.
9/17/2022 Starline Social Club, Oakland, CA
9/20/2022 Revolution Hall, Portland, OR
9/21/2022 The Crocodile, Seattle, WA
This should be great. Tickets going fast!

Haven’t played on the west coast since 2019, very happy to be back.

Full dates:
9/15/2022 – Dive Bar, Las Vegas, NV w/The Swank Bastards and Little Kids
9/16/2022 – World Famous Doll Hut, Anaheim, CA
9/17/2022 – Starline Social Club Oakland CA w/mclusky – tickets
9/18/2022 – Mario’s Marina Bar, Shelter Cove, CA
9/19/2022 – John Henry’s, Eugene, OR w/Silence Mill, Kronk Men
9/20/2022 – Revolution Hall Portland OR w/mclusky – tickets
9/21/2022 – The Crocodile Seattle WA w/mclusky – tickets
9/22/2022 – Monk’s, Missoula, MT w/Jaag
9/23/2022 – The Bourgeois Pig, Casper, WY w/Animal Bite, Plague Pitted Moon
9/24/2022 – Goosetown Tavern, Denver Co w/Almanac Man, the Betterself

Other shows:

9/2/2022 – Mag Bar, Louisville, KY – PRF Lou w/Burned or Buried, Naw, Knife the Symphony, Mister Goblin, Deady, Lashes – tickets

10/1/2022 – Promises, Milwaukee, WI w/DeadFinger, Zelvis!

10/6/2022 – The Lexington, Detroit, MI -w/Burned or Buried, Tart
10/7/2022 – ????, Philadelphia, PA w/Burned or Buried
10/8/2022 – 12 Heart You, Peakskill, NY w/ Burned or Buried
10/8/2022 (later) – Cherry Street Station, New Haven, CT w/Grizzlor, VRSA
10/9/2022 – The Government Center, Pittsburgh, PA w/ Norm Westberg, Burned or Buried

Dark Passengers (LCR077-1)Dark Passengers (LCR077-1)

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – Dark Passengers.
An 11 song record about depression and mental health. On Learning Curve Records.

You can stream the available tracks and pre-order at:

Protones and Electrones: A Playlist for Earthquaker DevicesProtones and Electrones: A Playlist for Earthquaker Devices

(Note: this article and playlist originally appeared on the Earthquaker Devices site, Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends proudly use EQD pedals regularly.)

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends is a rock band featuring Conan Neutron, Tony Ash and Dale Crover of the Melvins, here is a list of guitar sounds/songs (and a few for bass!) that they find particularly evocative, interesting, or noteworthy.

Conan Neutron:

Stooges – TV Eye:

Lardo – Pedagogue:

Wire – Practice Makes Perfect

Wipers – Youth of America

Shellac – My Black Ass

Thin Lizzy – Emerald

Drive Like Jehu – Luau

The Birthday Party – The Friend Catcher

DEVO – Mongoloid

Chavez – The Guard Attacks

Tony Ash:

Rye Coalition – Snow Job:

Hellacopters – No Angel to Lay Me Away

Cheap Trick – Big Eyes

Davie Allan and the Arrows – Blues Theme

Flipper – Learn to Live

The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself).

The Birthday Party – Nick the Stripper

The Stooges – Gimme Danger

Jawbox – Motorist

AC/DC – What’s Next to the Moon?

Conan Neutron:

1. The Stooges – TV Eye 

Ron Asheton. Full stop. One of my very favorite guitar players. One of the best guitar riffs of all time. Marshall, fuzz face pedal. Nothing too crazy. He used a strat for fun house, so I love hearing about how strats are exclusively the terrain of blues lawyers. I love chiming open notes in riffs, that’s me paying homage to Ron Asheton, who was getting it from Mahavishnu Orchestra or whatever!

There is debate amongst rock nerds over whether Funhouse or Raw Power is better. Asheton Or Williamson on guitar. Both rule, we have a foot in either camp between Tony and I. I’m team Funhouse, and I vote. 

2. Lardo – Pedagogue

Bit commander! Brian Pennington makes his guitar sounds like a broken computer and all is right with the world. Put that crazy guitar over the insane rhythm section and concise and sharp song writing and you have a hell of a band I which more people Listened to. There aren’t many bands that have added anything new to this kind of genre, Lardo has done it. Respect.

3. Wire – Practice Makes Perfect

Rocks like hell but doesn’t roll at all. Kraftwerk style robotics melded with staccato and harsh guitars. Pink flag is swell and all, but chairs missing is the one for me. When I started listening to Wire it really broke down what the ideas of what a song could and should be. Colin Newman plays a Roland JC-120 I think. And unless I’m mistaken, at the time was a music man HD-130? One of my favorite amps ever. A thing I love about Wire is that they are not gear purists. They use Pods, they change gear all the time. Best or weirdest sound wins, and they still come up with super cool stuff. There’s a lesson there.

4. Wipers – Youth of America 

Greg Sage recorded the first classic three records on a 1965 Ampeg Gemini, Low Tremolo with heavy reverb. An MXR distortion plus and an Echoplex rounded it out. Especially on this one! Then again, Greg also built his own preamps. So, who knows? The Wipers are a band of mystery.

This is the first song that made me appreciate delay, echo and that punk rock could also be psych. A stellar composition, every song on those first three records is a classic, but this one… wow! It’s a journey. You can do this kind of stuff with an Avalanche Run or a Catalinbread Belle Epoch now. Which is amazing.

5. Shellac – My Black Ass

There’s a whole industry of gear people trying to reproduce Steve’s sound. Boxidizer, karma sutra, that pedal that does what an IVP does. Tons of people get really hung up on the harmonic percolator. It’s cool, but it isn’t a ticket to Albini town. He uses it sparingly. It’s basically a fender Bassman and an Intersound IVP and he plays through larger full range speakers when possible, I believe.

There is also a great video ( where he plays through a 15w Orange tiny terror and sounds just like himself. So… sorry, nerds. It’s how you play! Anyway, there are better shellac songs, but as far as pure riffs/sound/album intro. Hard to beat! I like Shellac, they are an excellent band.

6. Thin Lizzy – emerald 

What? Did you think I was going to exclusively have post-punk and noise rock? Nope! I feel genuinely bad for people that only know “the boys are back in town.”. That is a fine song but not even in my top 10 Thin Lizzy Numbers. I would probably pick Cowboy song for songcraft… but we’re talking about guitars here! And for my tastes nobody does dual guitars better than Thin Lizzy. This one is the perfect distillation of Irish traditional stuff and hard rock. The dual guitars snake and intertwine, it manages to be heavy as hell and still have soul to spare. 

I think Phil Lynott is easily one of rock’s most underrated front people too. As well as a hell of a bassist.

7. Drive Like Jehu – Luau

Holy moly did this album kick my head in. I spent years trying to steal stuff from John Reis off of it, failing and coming up with my own. There’s a reverb article all about Reis “maimed les Paul’s and endless pickup swaps” ( that is a must read. But cranked Marshall JCM800s with amp chassis reversed and exposed transformer makes some of the more unearthly bird tweeting crazy go nuts sounds here. Some beastly playing here, and the interplay between Froberg and Reis is almost as amazing as the near composted style tension movements this song takes you. Let’s all rock out in 3/4, SUIT UP!

8. The Birthday party -the Friend Catcher 

The Birthday Party changed my world when I discovered them. Raucous and unhinged but dark and scary as well. A total sense of humor, but the music itself taken totally seriously. Rowland S. Howard man! What a player. Most people gravitate towards the incalculably brutal and awesome Junkyard or the incredible Live 81-82 record, however I wanted to focus on the Friend Catcher, because the man makes his guitar sound very convincingly like a person screaming! Maybe not your bag if you are more into traditional sounds, but I adore it.

63′ Jaguar into a fender twin turned very loud, an MXR graphic EQ with bands up as a booster, treble and reverb dimed. I think he used a broken blue box for some stuff also… I also think somebody made a pedal to approximate his sound too. I’ve never tried it, but if anybody deserves one it’s Rowland S. Howard. Rest in power. 

9. DEVO – mongoloid 

People think of Jerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh (rightly) when they think of Devo. Bob Mothersbaugh and Bob Casale managed to innovate some seriously rude and awesome sounds that sound very un-classic rock while rocking very hard! I may make weird big rock, but the way things fit together, and the abrupt left turns, that’s all DEVO’s influence on me. They are rightly hailed as innovators of synths, but there is an incredible usage of guitar and monster riffs for those willing to look.

For the loud bits, believe it or not it’s a simple tube screamer Bob 1 uses, which we all know has been improved on by EQD with Plumes.

Of course Mark has the amazing guitar with a Ds-1 and an Electro Harmonic Frequency Analyzer taped to it ( You have to give it up for style there.

10. Chavez – the guard attacks 

I love songs that sort of hang on a root note and riff. There’s more than a little of that in our stuff. This riff slams hard! No idea what Sweeney is playing on, but Clay Tarver uses an MXR distortion plus from high school (!), Les Paul into a Marshall and off you go. Hell yeah! It’s what you play maaaaan. Weird drop tunings making new chords and such. Such a unique and cool band.

Now! Over to Tony.

Tony Ash

1. Rye Coalition “Snow Job.”

This is the song that got me excited about playing bass many years ago, and it’s still kind of my benchmark for awesome bass tone. Albini’s engineering skills, paired with a Fender Jazz Bass into a Traynor TS-50B. Perfection. 

2. The Hellacopters “No Angel to Lay Me Away.”

I’ve always been a huge fan of this band, especially their last proper album Rock and Roll Is Dead, from which this song hails. The guitars have a chiming quality and are relatively clean, but still manage to sound totally heavy.

3. Cheap Trick “Big Eyes.”

What else is there to say aside from the fact that Tom Petersson is arguably the coolest bassist of all time? That grinding bass break in the bridge is excellent. 

4. Davie Allan and the Arrows “Blues Theme.”

I have a major soft spot for the really harsh, gnarly fuzz tones of the 1960’s, and this instrumental track from the soundtrack to The Wild Angels might be the king of them all.

5. Flipper “Learn to Live.”

Krist Novoselic may be the most underrated bassist of all time. His basslines absolutely drove Nirvana’s music and yet his contributions seem to go largely unrecognized. But, despite my longtime love of them, I’m not going to list a Nirvana track here. Instead, I’m choosing this song from the album ‘Love’ by San Francisco’s own Flipper, which features Novoselic on bass. Listen to how up front and utterly pissed his bass sounds.

6. The Stranglers “(Get A) Grip (On Yourself).”

I’ve gotten way into these guys recently, in no small part due to the awesome sounding bass of JJ Burnel. He’s the biggest influence I never even knew I had.

7. The Birthday Party “Nick the Stripper”(from ‘Live 81-82’).

Ferocious. That’s the most accurate adjective I can muster to describe the sound of Tracy Pew on this entire album of live material, but particularly on this song.

8. The Stooges “Gimme Danger.”

The part immediately after the first verse at 0:44, when James Williamson’s Les Paul comes blasting through his AC30, is one of my favorite musical moments of all time.

9. Jawbox “Motorist” (from ‘For Your Own Special Sweetheart’).

Kim Coletta’s bass on this great track by this great band is insanely perfect. The first time I heard this song many years ago, it just floored me. The bass especially really struck me and, like the Rye Coalition song listed above, remains a personal benchmark of mine when trying to dial in my own sound.

10. AC/DC “What’s Next to the Moon.”

Best band of all time? Probably. The definitive rock and roll guitar sound. The gold standard, as it were. 

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends release the 2XLP, 2XCD, Protons and Electrons compilation on September 20th, 2019, a collection of 12 split singles released over the course of two years.

Excellent review of Protons and Electrons by Grizzly ButtsExcellent review of Protons and Electrons by Grizzly Butts 

in fact this double LP compilation of twelve 7″ split singles, ‘Protons and Electrons’, is the bulletproof argument for this admirable feat. Consider ‘Protons’ the third full-length from the trio and ‘Electrons’ a compilation of associated acts, friends, and (as they’d put it) a celebration of community.

Conan Neutron (ReplicatorVictory and AssociatesMount Vicious) is a guy, er, the founder of Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends who’d had a wild spark up his brain around 2015 encased in the raw deal that is Oakland, California as he began to chip away at his own brand of antisocial rock records. That’d soon warrant power trio-ing up with Dale Crover (MelvinsShrinebuilder) and Tony Ash (ColiseumTrophy Wives). By the end of 2015 Neutron‘d pumped out two solid buzzers, fuzz’d n’ noisy intuitive alt rock that I’d have called ‘power pop’ to get my Pixies loving friend (Brandon) in high school to listen to it. Flipping over to the 2016 writing sessions for this series of ‘Protons’ split 7″ singles — The need to breathe, to push out more clank-and-wobbling rock air without all that sugary power-pop dripping from the walls, must’ve been somewhere in the highest registers of the brain as the sanity of the western world collapsed around them. It’d be their third session with producer Toshi Kasai and the finest, most inventive set of recordings from the project thus far.

Wit, grinning darkness, hummable jigs, and all matter of divergent focus slosh about within these personalized and inventive rock songs that’re surely the sort of mess we’d have a gaudy corporate rock umbrella term for back in the mid-90’s. The big point here is that each of these Neutronian tracks are singular events, tirades of sharply cut and intentionally faceted perspective each attempting to see light by way of precarious manipulated shadows, the full listen is inspired and ‘lost’ in its own head to great effect. I’d expect no less from the lyricist who’d brought you an alt rock record themed after the Hannibal Lecter series of novels but I suppose I wouldn’t expect as much. Infectious is the word as boppin’ post-punk bass lines swap for pained psychedelic rock janglers and a few post-‘Nothings Shocking’ swings before ‘Protons’ is spun. It sticks. Just reading the title for “Petulant Messiah”, “Parade of Deceit”, and “Hate Secretary” puts each chorus (or riff) right in my overstuffed frontal lobe. “Armies of the Mind” could whip on repeat for a week… The gist of it is that tonal variety and inspirational times have done a world of wondrous good for this third album from the trio. The depth is there if you’re one to suss out the minutiae of pop, punk, rock, and the adhesive that Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends provides.

The second LP is no less vital to the experience and in this form it serves as a worthy compilation featuring songs from bands featuring artists who’ve featured in Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends‘ touring line-ups, contributed to studio recordings, toured alongside the band or simply feature one of the three core members of the trio. It kicks off with a big rock stomp from Ash‘s stoney noise rock band Trophy Wives, a big and bulbous first hit. Chicago noise punk trio Nonagon are the next big highlight for my taste with “Saffir-Simpson” and their Ed Kemper Trio kinda art rock howling. Turbo Lightning‘s bubblegum poppin’ stadium rocker “Give a Man a Brain” would’ve instantly appealed to 14 year old me. When Mr. Bungle‘s ‘California’ came out a few friends brought a boom box to the rec center area at the University of Oregon and we played it out loud around 8:00pm while acting like idiots in the dark… Sorry; That memory socked me in the cerebellum as the intro to Dale Crover Band‘s “Sell Out” kicked off into a few vignettes that’ll have you whondering who whrote them. Twelve songs in total, all good stuff that compliment Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends‘ sound on split singles and make sense here all in a row as a compilation. The inclusion of these tracks is more or less unprecedented in my own experience and to give that additional platform to these other bands is an admirable feat and a pretty big ‘get’ for the completionist.

A lovably frantic and confrontational rock record with a slick ‘Bullhead’ reminiscent design on the gatefold that includes a full spread of 12 bands to check out once I’m done with the main even is exactly the sort of curio I’m apt to curl up with. Its dulcet ugliness pressed onto vinyl and made up all pretty somehow turned out to be my jam and I was thankful to spend a fair amount of time with it. I’d definitely picked up Trophy Wives and Cartographer records on the flipside but spent most of my time with ‘Protons’ after working up to these sessions from the start of Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends‘ discography. I’d recommend it highly to folks who want some post-punk and noise rock edge to their psych/alt rock intake.

The Bigtakeover digs Protons and ElectronsThe Bigtakeover digs Protons and Electrons

Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends – Protons and Electrons

Neutron and friends have released 12 7″ split singles over the last 18 months in a series called Protons and Electrons. This endeavor includes 12 other bands taking care of the b-sides, and it’s just been released as a two-disc set. Mr. Neutron wastes no time on the first disc, Protons. “Jilted Dragon” and “Armies of the Mind” attack with melodic earworms and deliberate urgency that recall Bob Mould from his Sugar days. Branding Electrons as a collection of b-sides would be unfair. Bands such as The God Eaters, Cartographer, and Quivers among many others offer top-notch songs from post-punk, metal and indie rock genres. P&E throws the sheer ferocity of its rock ‘n’ roll in your face without any fear.