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 …
Hello, we’ve killed again… I MEAN… put out another record. This is another Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends album.
As per normal:
I play guitar and do vocals.
Tony Ash plays bass.
Dale Crover plays drums.
Toshi Kasai produces and engineers.
We like it, perhaps you will too.
The whole thing is a concept record about and around the world of Hannibal Lecter.
CDs ship immediately, vinyl in June of 2016, Spotify and all that pretty soon…
Easiest thing is to buy it through the band “bandcamp” site, it’ll be available other places soon enough.
This record was written and mostly arranged leisurely between November 7th, 2014 and March 7th 2015 by Conan Neutron. Tracks were given final arrangements and recorded at Sound of Sirens studio in Sun Valley, CA between May14th-18th, 2015 by Toshi Kasai. Mixing was done at Sound of Sirens between June 12th- July 28th. 2015 by Toshi Kasai.
Mastering was done at Chicago Mastering Company by Bob Weston: September 2015
Art and layout by Rick Froberg
This record was directly inspired by the Hannibal Lecter series of books by Thomas Harris. Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal and the fascinating interpersonal dynamics between the characters within. As well as some of the other associated material around the characters of said stories. Certain phrases are cited in the lyrical content and are done so with the utmost respect and admiration.
Thanks to Lindsey Neutron, Stephanie Vogt, Jordan Sobolew, Michael Marchant, Erica Strout, Lindsey Charles, Kevin Burkett and the Electrical Guitar Company and to all of the rest of the Friends of the Neutron out there. Secret, explicit or otherwise.
All songs © Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike 3.0 unported (CC BY-NC-SA3.0)
released March 1, 2016
Engineering/Production: Toshi Kasai
Vocals/Guitar: Conan Neutron
Bass: Tony Ash
Drums: Dale Crover
Additional Synth/Organ and Strings: Conan Neutron
Additional Vocals on Avid Fan and Chair of Antlers: Buzz Osborne
Additional Vocals on Eat the Rude and Chair of Antlers: Tony Ash
Additional Harmony Vocals on Quid Pro Quo and The Doctor Will See You Now: Dana Poblete
Additional Percussion and Vocals: Toshi Kasai
Additional Percussion: Dale Crover
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.