SW027 – Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – Protons and Electrons compilation. Available for pre-order now. Atom 1-12 collected in a 2 LP and a 2 CD set. 3+ years of work comes to fruition! Artwork by the unstoppable Plastic Flame Press. Lovingly produced by Toshi Kasai, mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service. https://neutronfriends.bandcamp.com/album/protons-and-electrons-compilation…
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 (Replicator, Victory and Associates, Mount 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 (Melvins, Shrinebuilder) and Tony Ash (Coliseum, Trophy 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 …
Conan answered some questions from Shiny Grey Monotone.
Here it is: Secret Friends are discussed, as well as Replicator, Mount Vicious, Victory and Associates all with candor and honesty.
Dale Crover, David Yow, Industrial guest appearances Radio NOPE and damn near everything else.
Also includes a weighty “awesome band” list is that would be a worthy homework assignment for any discerning rocker. I can already think of at least a half dozen bands I forgot to include. Damn!
you may recognize the name.
and even if you don’t you’ll still find yourself saying “that’s a pretty kick-ass name. why couldn’t my parents name me conan neutron. i hate my parents!” and then running into your room and slamming the door behind you and then cranking up the stereo. and this is the point where’d you’d forgotten that you hadn’t taken out that BEST OF ABBA cd and now everyone knows your dirty little secret.
and before all of this begins i need to clear something up: conan is in no way shape or form related to jimmy. don’t bring it up. the last time that happened it wasn’t so nice. you may have heard about it on the news.
also: never mention that pointer sisters song either. just don’t.
some of you may have heard of some bands with names like:
victory and associates
you may have even seen them around here on SGM island.
and if you haven’t you’ve just been voted off.
nowadays he’s fronting/playing guitar in a band with some of his secret friends.
and no i’m not going to tell you who they are.
that’s his job.
Q: seeing as how you and your secret friends league have just been brought up…tell us all about that.
A: Sure, this is like my weirdo rock version of the Avengers, or something. Every player is a superstar totally capable of badass acts of heroism and power on their own, but coming together for a greater purpose. I suppose that would make me Captain America. I guess Tony Ash is Iron Man and Dale Crover is the Hulk? Wait, no Thor. Toshi Kasai is… uh… Nick Fury?
Wait… this is dumb.
Another way to look at it, is this is my version of the the Bad Seeds or something. The players sometimes change and cycle in, but the basic core remains the same and the songs come from me originally before being twisted, contorted and shaped into whatever dark forces come together at the end. It’s my version of rock ‘n roll. And that includes a world where Melvins, Bon Scott era AC/DC, DEVO, Unwound, The Jesus Lizard and Thin Lizzy all should be lauded equally. You get me? It’s rock, but with the no bullshit or excuses attitude that can only come from people that live and breathe punk rock/noise rock or whatever the hell you want to call it.
From my standpoint, it’s a little bit of every band I’ve ever been in, and a little bit something entirely different, I’m writing the kind of music I’d like to hear and trying to use all of the lessons I’ve learned over the years to make that a really cool thing. I’m surrounded by great and brilliant people and one of the best rhythm sections a guitarist could hope for. Pretty cool.
Q: dale crover. does he still like to stand around the water cooler and wait for folks to walk by so he can tell some of his grunge stories?
A: oh, constantly! He’s always like: “Man, this one time Tad and I pants-ed Krist Noviselic and he…” and we’re like: “OK! COOL DUDE, WE GET IT.”
No, in all seriousness Dale is one of the sweetest dudes in the world, and all of us have tour stories or crazy back in the day stories. It just so happens that some of his involve people that are incredibly, incredibly famous. It’s easy to forget because he’s such a nice fella.
Although he is always shouting: “ok boys, I really want you to GRUNGE OUT on this next one.”
Don’t know what all that is about.