Mark Sultan – Whatever/Whenever (In The Red Records)


Whatever I Want Whenever I Want

Whether using his own name, the BBQ moniker, or performing with groups like The Ding Dongs, The Spaceshits, and Los Sexareenos, Mark Sultan can be counted on for consistently solid garage-punk deconstructions. Whatever, Whenever isn’t the typical Sultan release though – it’s a compilation of thirteen songs from two vinyl-only 2011 releases (Whatever I Want and Whenever I Want) culled from recordings made in Sultan’s Toronto home. The album’s homemade origins and the flippant title are good indicators of what he’s presenting. Sultan’s still welding punk rock fury onto 1950’s rock and doo-wop songcraft, but Whatever, Whenever’s is defiantly lo-fi, with off the cuff performances. To me the album sounds like a series of demos, rather than a finished product. On the plus side, they usually sound like demos of good songs, with “Calloused Hands”, the punky “Let Me Freeze” and “Never Coming Home” all stronger entries in Sultan’s songbook. On the flipside, the production (or lack of) is weak throughout and “Just Like Before” is a complete mess of a song, with sloppy playing and tuneless vocals that you’ll never want to revisit. There’s enough strong material on Whatever, Whenever to overlook its weak points, but if you’ve never heard a Sultan album before, this isn’t a good point of entry.

Tracklisting:

1. Axis Abraxas
2. Satisfied and Lazy
3. Song in Grey
4. Just Like Before
5. Calloused Hands
6. In Future Worlds
7. Let Me Freeze
8. If I Had a Polaroid
9. Never Coming Home
10. Graveyard Eyes
11. Party Crasher
12. No Worries
13. For Those Who Don’t Exist

Mark Sultan – $ (Last Gang Records)


$ (Dig)
I’m more familiar with Sultan’s work as BBQ, the moniker under which he’s released a solo album and performs as one half of King Khan and The BBQ Show; simultaneously playing drums, guitar and singing – an impressive feat worth a glimpse on Youtube. On his second solo album under his actual name Sultan goes beyond his usual garage/doo-wop/novelty leanings and incorporates some wilder far-out sounds. You can hear the difference right away on opener “Icicles”, which is six-and-a-half minutes of sinister psychedelia that begins with four minutes of pounding drums and tremolo-heavy guitar soloing. Sultan even uses other musicians on $ to give the songs new possibilities of sound, although the press sheet doesn’t specify exactly who these people were. Even if $ isn’t entirely typical of Sultan’s work, it has some songs that fit neatly with his past: The back-to-back pairing of the garage/doo-wop hybrid “Ten Of Hearts” and wild garage-punk stomper “Status” sound like solid King Khan and BBQ cast-offs (and for all I know, they might be), and “I’ll Be Loving You” is a re-working of the best song off the most recent King Khan and BBQ album, Invisible Girl. “I Get Nothin’ From My Girl” is a country-infused ballad which quotes the “I try, and I try” lyric from “Satisfaction”. “Go Berserk” is a classic slice of amphetamine-wired punk rock circa 1976, and “I Am The End” has such a bizarre-sounding guitar solo that I’m not even sure it was done by a guitar. Sultan may wear a lot of musical guises on $, but he wears them well, and the album get better and better with each succeeding listen.