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Protones 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: https://open.spotify.com/track/5z79Fpw4FEEkSzt8Lbwr46

Lardo – Pedagogue: https://open.spotify.com/track/7BKU46S8nk4utuk0bqf4ad

Wire – Practice Makes Perfect https://open.spotify.com/track/2vYcX70M5Vx8YMohXFwshw

Wipers – Youth of America https://open.spotify.com/track/2Dj59k8Rar55hTbzwCt2bK

Shellac – My Black Ass https://open.spotify.com/track/0teei1yQyDihoiOGYsr9rp

Thin Lizzy – Emerald https://open.spotify.com/track/6oe6yYpgZWPYUwxKzG3HIL

Drive Like Jehu – Luau https://open.spotify.com/track/0rcBONdvQcvSHARoEVbfSO

The Birthday Party – The Friend Catcher https://open.spotify.com/track/0x1VbnNyHrLeWzQZIPVHqK

DEVO – Mongoloid https://open.spotify.com/track/6sx36Cz7YmbzZzzu1MeRfl

Chavez – The Guard Attacks https://open.spotify.com/track/0SHANxbTIia878Z12YRZM0

Tony Ash:

Rye Coalition – Snow Job: https://open.spotify.com/track/1Hu8AK6NnFL2QXUjU182Ra

Hellacopters – No Angel to Lay Me Away https://open.spotify.com/track/59wU0g8lhWShmq9SjJhrYu

Cheap Trick – Big Eyes https://open.spotify.com/track/55y1iWRf5JBZQIbb69Vr7m

Davie Allan and the Arrows – Blues Theme https://open.spotify.com/track/12hAeEyERydkkb1Wow1xdA

Flipper – Learn to Live https://open.spotify.com/track/2sZ1XkTMc72quA60rLLPXV

The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself). https://open.spotify.com/track/2jrmiji7m0zTG6lmtIlSpo

The Birthday Party – Nick the Stripper https://open.spotify.com/track/5cxs0xQJp5W4V8wMFYpCY7

The Stooges – Gimme Danger https://open.spotify.com/track/74CcP6fDBFdH8Xjo2F6Nb4

Jawbox – Motorist https://open.spotify.com/track/1eaKv3H9d9OJ7ffEoTOM6X

AC/DC – What’s Next to the Moon? https://open.spotify.com/track/2wr9GtUc8xPMhTVZTc191u

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 (https://youtu.be/nahPA-RKEfQ

Excellent review of Protons and Electrons by Grizzly Butts

https://grizzlybutts.com/2020/01/08/conan-neutron-and-the-secret-friends-protons-and-electrons-vinyl-2019-review/ 

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 …

The 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. …

All merch/downloads 20% off Dec. 1st-6th

All Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends items are a 20% off this week only (ends 12/06/2019). Physical and digital. 

Just use code “bargainissealed” at checkout!

This includes the brand new Protons and Electrons compilation 2XLP and 2XCD, as well as all remaining stock of Protons and Electrons 7”, Art Of Murder LP (while supplies last!) and CDs, Enemy of Everyone LPs and CDs and all t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts.

All orders shipping immediately!
Thanks!

October/November Tour Dates

10/25: Chelsea, MI – Rumpus room w/Tart
10/26: Toronto, ON – Bovine Sex Club w/Not Of, Leonids, So Tired
10/27: Montreal, QC – Turbo Haus w/CRËVE
11/1: Oakland, CA – Elbo Room Jack London w/Reptoid, Rip Room, Antler Family
11/2: Los Angeles, CA – Highland Park Bowl w/Dangerously Sleazy, Space Force
11/3: Anaheim, CA – World Famous Doll Hut w/Alright Spider, hepa.titus, the Patients
11/6: Milwaukee, WI – Bremen Cafe w/MICROWAVES, Ifihadahifi, something is Waiting.
11/7: Chicago, IL – The Owl w/Gerund, Tim Midyett
11/8: Louisville, KY – Kaiju w/Total Void, Bon Air
11/9: Athens, GA – Little Kings Shuffle Club w/Los Meesfits

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – October/November 2019 tour

Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends – Protons and Electrons Compilations LP/CD/Stream

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 Servicehttps://neutronfriends.bandcamp.com/album/protons-and-electrons-compilation

“The Vig” video, by Johnny Arlett

Video created by Johnny Arlett (https://www.johnnyarlett.com)

“A swinging little number about psychic gambling or something. Sure to satisfy or annoy fans of prog, noise rock and much more. The Vig (short for vigorish) is interest principal amount owed on a debt or loan, always at a usurious rate, with the idea being that the borrower never ends up paying down the principal and is indebted to the lender by just just covering the interest. The conceit of the song is applying those principles to psychic costs, but it probably works as a more dead on interpretation too.”

Conan Neutron: Vocals/Guitars Tony Ash: Bass Dale Crover: Drums Toshi Kasai: Production and Engineering…

Jilted Dragon Video (by Rick Valentin)

Directed by Rick Valentin, from Protons and Electrons – SW027 – September 20th, 2019
Conan Neutron: Vocals/Guitars, Tony Ash: Bass, Dale Crover: Drums, Jeff Byron: synths, omnichord, extra “stuff”
Produced and Engineered by Toshi Kasai

Also from Protons and Electrons: SW022: Atom 8 – Jilted Dragon / Turbo Lightning – Give a Man A Brain, released 5/14/2019
https://neutronfriends.bandcamp.com/album/protons-and-electrons-compilation